Friday, April 30, 2010

Preparing for the birth you want

A good birthing experience doesn't simply happen on its own. Thoughtful reflection, selection, and preparation are needed to ensure a gentle and positive birth since left to itself, a woman in our culture is all too often taught that giving birth is a medical problem requiring hospitalization and treatment. While this certainly can be the case should complications arrive, most births are uncomplicated and should instead be considered a normal part of life that a woman's body is designed and knows how to do. Given this realization, each woman should be given the opportunity to prepare for the birth that she desires, whether it be an all natural home birth or a hospitalized birth with an epidural. Many women don't know where to start when preparing for birth since they don't know what options are out there or even that it doesn't have to be a traumatic, medicalized, or significantly painful experience.


Through careful research and daily preparation, I was able to have an amazing and peaceful birthing experience. I chose to see a certified midwife and have a water birth in the birthing center of a local hospital with the use of no drugs and only the necessary monitoring (they checked the fetal heart rate twice with a doppler and also took my blood pressure when I first arrived). From the very first contraction to my daughter's arrival, it took 4 hours. In fact, it was only 1 hour and 5 minutes after we arrived at the hospital that I caught my daughter myself! Our birthing experience was the most powerful and amazing thing I've ever gone through, and I'm convinced that it wouldn't have been like this if I hadn't take then time to carefully select and prepare for what I wanted to happen.


To prepare for the birthing experience YOU want to have, make sure you consider the following:


1) Insurance coverage; did you know that many providers in the US (including major ones like Blue Cross, Blue Shield) cover attended home births at the same rate that they cover hospital births? Midwives are also generally covered at the same rate as an obstetric physician, but unless you ask, you won't know! Most other countries (socialized ones in particular) are very much in favor of home births and midwives and the rates of using these are much higher (like around 30%) than in the US (which is currently at less than 1% for home births--interesting, because home births have much fewer complications than comparable births!).


2) Hospital and birthing center philosophies; being a paramedic, I was pretty familiar with the differences in how the hospitals around me viewed women and babies in labor. I was sure to still visit each one that I was considering though, to take a tour and ask questions. There is a HUGE difference in the philosophies from place to place and this will probably be the biggest impact on whether you have the birth experience you want or not (aside from any physical complications whose necessity overrides any desires). Some good questions to ask are:
  •  Mother and fetal monitoring requirements (do you have to be hooked up to machines for the whole time? Do you have to have internal exams every so often?).
  • Can I wear the clothing I want to birth in, or must I wear a hospital gown?
  • What are my options for birthing environments and positions (bed, stool, tub, shower, etc.)?
  • Number of people allowed in the birthing room
  • Will you stay in one room for labor, birth, and recovery?
  • Can the baby room-in with you, and may a parent be with him or her at all times?
  • What sorts of things can you refuse (Vitamin K shot, eye drops, cutting the cord immediately after delivery, leaving the vernix on to be rubbed in, bathing the baby yourself, etc.)?
  • How supportive is the hospital of breastfeeding, skin to skin bonding (did you know that skin-to-skin is the best way to warm up a cold baby?), delayed vaccinations/procedures, and bed sharing?
  • Things you are allowed to bring with you and use while laboring/birthing (CD player, food, beverages, aromatherapy machine, etc.).
3) Interview the practitioner; your midwife or Dr. will become very well acquainted with your body and emotions, so choose wisely. I always feel bad when someone tells me they aren't too happy with their provider--if this happens to you, change to someone else that you're more comfortable with! A few key things to learn before you decide, or to prompt you to switch to a different person is how much they will respect your wishes for a natural birthing experience, if you will be seeing the same provider at each appointment, how much he or she will listen to your concerns or if they'll just be overlooked, how available they are between appointments and during the night and weekends, and how overall supportive they are of you and how comfortable you are with them. Don't let someone else take away the experience you want to have from you!


4) Consider various birthing methods/philosophies; "Lamaze" is the popular thing around my neck of the woods, but frankly, after seeing enough women give birth using this method on TLC's A Baby Story, I wasn't sure I wanted much to do with it. :-) Panting, pushing, counting...come on, seriously? Instead of signing up for the first class I found, I spoke with colleagues, my midwife, and did Internet research (including watching lots of YouTube videos) before deciding that I wanted to go with HypnoBirthing (the Mongan Method). With this method, you learn and practice deep relaxation (self hypnosis) to help you achieved a very relaxed, peaceful state of mind (with complete awareness the whole time) during birthing. There are also supportive things like deep breathing, massage, and positioning that all help to ensure that your body doesn't fight against your uterus as it ends up doing with Lamaze any method that has you panting and pushing by force. It worked awesomely for me to allow a gentle and fast birthing that wasn't even the most painful thing I'd ever felt. This involved me practicing the HypnoBirthing scripts every night for weeks before the birth, though!


5) Communicate your desires; You can't expect people to be mind readers, so open communication is key. Discuss your desires and your plans with your provider well in advance; also discuss what his or her reasons would be if they were ever to override your communicated wishes. While this will hopefully prevent any problems when you give birth, be prepared to be assertive if you need to be. Sometimes, a mother's rights and desires are cast aside during labor and delivery--be prepared to speak up and advocate for yourself should this happen. Since I know I will be concentrating on my body during birth, my husband is the person responsible for advocating for my wishes when I give birth.


I didn't actually write a birth plan, but I was sure to make my desires known to my midwife, husband, and the nurses who met me when I arrived at the birthing unit. A birth plan can be a particularly good idea if you don't see the same practitioner each time or if someone unfamiliar to you is assisting you in your birthing. Earth Mama Angel Baby offers a very comprehensive one online that's free and easy to personalize with many natural options.


6) Expect the best! You've done your research and preparation--spend time every day listening to or reading positive birthing affirmations and doing things that will help you feel prepared and in control of your experience. A relaxed mother may be the most powerful force in having a relaxed birthing both for the mother and the baby.
 Giving birth is a beautiful experience that should be celebrated at every level. It is natural, normal, and a woman's body knows how to do it. Deciding on and preparing for the birthing experience you want you and your baby to have is so very important. Don't leave it up to someone else to decide for you!


Some links I recommend:
LoveBug's Birth Story
Birthing Q & A
HypnoBirthing
HypnoBabies
MotheringDot Community Forums (scroll down to the birthing section)
Diaper Swapper's Birth Stories & Announcements Forum


What if...you did everything you could to plan for a beautiful birth, and then it didn't happen? It'd be nice to think that the birthing experience is completely dependent upon the mother's preparation and attitude, but the truth is that sometimes, things don't go as planned and dreams go out the window. My friend, Carrie, from http://ohbabyo.wordpress.com, experienced this and will be sharing a "when your birth doesn't go as planned" article with us as a guest blog. Stay tuned to be sure you don't miss it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Labor Creations Labor Kit Review & Giveaway




Labor Creations Labor Kit Review & Giveaway
"Creating items to pamper moms as they labor in birthing God's new creations"

I'm always excited to see a new business get off the ground, and especially when the opportunity allows the owner to work at home and provide a product that people actually need and want. Labor Creations is one of these businesses, thought of and developed by Jamie, a friendly and caring work-at-home-mother of two young children. You can read about her inspiration to start Labor Creations here, a business that provides Labor Kits for expecting mamas.

Each Labor Kit cost $35.00 + $10.70 US shipping and is comprised of almost entirely hand made items. When I received mine in the mail for review, I was impressed by the artistry put into the kit through the hand painted bag and hand sketched laboring/birthing positions chart. They are both kept simple in the illustrations and colors, allowing the viewer to easily understand and appreciate them. Though not laminated like the positions' chart, Jamie has also included a sheet of birthing affirmations which you know I'm a big fan of. The bag itself is larger than I'd expected and has given me a LOT of room to add things to it that I will need in the hospital. In fact, I've been keeping it on my closet's door knob so I can pop things into it as I think of them and also so I won't have any trouble finding it if I end up giving birth sooner than I expect to. :-)

I have really been enjoying the lavender scented heat pack. It's just the right size to drape over my shoulder when I'm having back pain and my husband won't give me a massage (that will be the day!). The essential oils are really a good blend and intensity to induce relaxation, so I know this will be the bag I pull out of my cupboard when I'm in early labor! Along with this, the slipper socks are soft and cute with bright colors. I don't think the pair that's in the kit right now are of any better quality than hospital socks, but I do know that Jamie is working on other types of socks or something else to offer in the kit to replace these. Until that change is made, though, you'll definitely have the most fashionable pair of feet on the birthing wing. :-)

I love the goat's milk soap, lotion, and lip balm included in the Labor Kit! Everything smells sooooo delicious while remaining lightly scented so as to not bother a newborn's nose. The textures are creamy and smooth, and I've had a hard time not using everything all up so I can save it for when I'm in the hospital. It will be so nice to have hand made, moisturizing toiletries with me this time instead of using the commercial stuff that the hospital provides! I don't know why I didn't think about this last time I gave birth as these are definitely going in my bag for this time. Though I wish that all of these items are bigger just so I could use them longer, the "trial" size of the soap and lotion actually provide more than enough for two days and take up less room in your bag thanks to their smaller size.

Each Labor Kit contains the following items:
*Large, hand painted, poly tote bag to keep all of your kit items and more in!
*Labor Creations' 8x10" hand made heat pack with washable case
*Laminated Labor Creations Laboring/Birthing Positions Chart
*Hand painted slipper socks
*Hand made Goats milk soap
*Hande made Lotion and Lip balm by Scarborough Lane
*Wooden Massager
*Birth Affirmations

There are many bag designs, heat pack prints, and scents to choose from for the kit's contents. Coming soon will be "a la carte" items that you can add to your kit to personalize them even more!

Buy It! Visit http://www.laborcreations.com/ to view the whole selection and purchase a bag.

Win It! Labor Creations will be giving one kit to a lucky reader of mine. To enter, you need to visit http://www.laborcreations.com/ and choose which bag design/kit you'd like. Choose carefully since that's what you'll be receiving if you win! Be sure to leave a separate email address AND comment for each entry. Contest will end on or after May 7, 2010 at noon, EST.

Extra Entries:
  • Visit Labor Creations on Facebook and leave message on their wall that Life More Simply sent you
  • Sign Labor Creations' guestbook or Facebook wall, telling her what "a la carte" item(s) you'd enjoy seeing her add (one entry total)
  • Leave a message on Life More Simply's Facebook wall telling me your list of "labor/birthing bag" items you can't live without, then come back here and let me know you did.
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Note: Labor Creations provided me with the bag for this review. No other compensation was received and the opinions are all mine.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Evita Dress Review & Giveaway from A Mother's Boutique!



You've probably noticed (and hopefully clicked on) me mentioning A Mother's Boutique throughout this month. Not only have they played a big part in me being able to bring this Baby Mama Shower event to you, but they are also playing a big part in the daily life of mothers through providing a place to find high quality clothing and breastfeeding accessories for pregnant and nursing mothers as well as some cute breastfeeding advocacy wear for babies. :-) Everything from underwear and bras to swim and eveningwear for every stage of early motherhood can be found at A Mother's Boutique with free ground shipping for orders over $60.00!

Some of my favorite items include:


The Organic Nursing Hoodie for $79.00 that comes in three different colors and doesn't even look like a nursing shirt. If you've ever tried to nurse while wearing a traditional hoodie, you too know that it becomes cumbersome very easily thanks to the bulk. I'd LOVE to have a hoodie made for nursing!



The Cichlid top on sale for $47.00. It's good for both pregnancy and nursing which is a huge bonus in my eyes, and it's fun as all get out. I don't know if it'd look as good on me in real life as it does the model, but it's fun to dream. :-)
 
Another super fun item is the breastfeeding advocacy wear that sports slogans like "The Milk Factory" for moms and "Born to Nurse" for babies. :-) Click here to check it out.
Their Front Twist Tankini by Anne Matthew for $63.00. I was tempted to snag this for the product review, but Judy, the owner of A Mother's Boutique, asked for a photo of me wearing whatever it was I chose to review. Well, I'm thinking that me in a swimsuit right now would NOT help make people want to buy anything from her store, so as much as I want the suit, I passed it up to spare you the image. ;-) So enjoy it on Anne Matthew to the side there. She looks great in it, doesn't she?
 
It comes in two colors and choices of bottoms...and you just lift the empire waist part of the top to nurse! I haven't ever tried to nurse when we've gone swimming simply because my chest is always too big so my suits are too tight and, well, getting the suit on to begin with is enough trouble without tryint to nurse on top of it. Since I've never tried a nursing swimsuit, I can't tell you how well it works, but I can definitely tell you that I want to find out!

What I did get a chance to review is also made by Anne Matthew: the Evita dress in crimson. It's a simple yet elegant dress that works for both the office and a night out--and it looks beautiful both during pregnancy and after with the ability to easily nurse your baby while wearing it! All you have to do is push the V-neck part aside and whola--nursing is easy while helping to keep you covered and without stretching your dress out. I've found it very easy to get on and off (important when you're 30-weeks pregnant and have a toddler who sticks to you like glue), falls around your figure nicely, and is easy to nurse from. I would recommend choosing a size larger than you think you'll need if you're a "lumpy" sort of lady. I've managed to sprout some love handles during this pregnancy (with my daughter it was the thighs and butt, this time it's the waist...what's a woman to do?) and notice that you can definitely see them when I wear this dress. I've modeled it for my sisters and husband who swear it is really just fine, but self concious me, I would just suggest that you go with a size bigger if you don't want all of the curves highlighted. :-) That picture to the side is of me wearing the dress at 29-weeks pregnant. Cute basketball-belly, right? I really like how the dress makes the bump look cute!


The dress is made of rayon spandex but is as soft as organic cotton, so the feel is great. I find that it can work for both chilly and warm weather and drapes very nicely over a pregnant belly. For $99.00, I think it's a decent price too, considering that you can wear it during pregnancy, nursing, and afterward--and look and feel great in it at any stage! I've even worn it with a dressy pair of pants underneath and have loved that look as well. We all know how important and difficult it can be to feel pretty during pregnancy and nursing, so don't underestimate the power of a nice dress. Five colors and a wide range of sizes ensure a good fit AND a flattering color to you as well.

A Mother's Boutique also offer a selection of "sale" items including all sorts of both regular and imperfect items that you'll want to check out, as well as a nice and informative blog which I've enjoyed going through. When you place an order, please expect great customer service. Judy was a joy to work with--quick shipping, great with answering sizing questions, and just all around pleasant and knowledgable!

Buy It! Visit http://mothersboutique.com/ and use the code "BABIES" for $5.00 off your $50.00 order.

Win It! A Mother's Boutique is giving away TWO $25.00 gift certificates to their store! Each will be chosen by random.org, so if you enter more than once, you might win both. :-) To enter, please visit http://mothersboutique.com/ and tell me what one of your favorite items in the store is and why. Be sure to leave an email address and separate comment for each entry! The winners will be chosen on or after May 7th, 2010.

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  • Blog about this contest! Tell your friends on a parenting forum! Just spread the word and tell me how you did! (1 entry per way)
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Note: A Mother's Boutique provided me with the Evita dress to write this review. No other compensation was received for this review and I was under no obligation to write anything positive. The opinions are all mine!

International Baby Lost Mama Day

United in grief, we find love and strength
International Babylost Mother's Day
May 2, 2010




It was Thanksgiving morning, 1994, that I woke up to the voice of my Mother in our living room. I had thought it was my aunt at first--my mother wasn't supposed to be home. She and my father had gone to the hospital the night before as she was in labor with my first and only brother, Joshua. There were six of us girls already and though my parents hadn't "tried" to get pregnant with any of us nor were they ever dissapointed at not having had a boy before, we were all very, very excited to welcome a brother in particular.

When I walked into the living room and saw my parents sitting on our couch, I noticed that my mother had been crying and that she was holding a small blue hat in her hand. Joshua was born at 24 weeks--the same time that the sister right above him had been born. She had made it, though spent the first 5 months of her life in the NICU. Joshua was born sleeping into the arms of Jesus and never made it down the hall to the NICU. I was barely ten-years-old at that time.

Our Thanksgivings have never been the same. Later that day in 1994, we went to my Great Grandmother's house for dinner. My extended family was there and with the then eight of us in my immediate family, there wasn't really enough food for everyone since we hadn't planned on being there. No one knew what to say to us, so we endured well meaning fake smiles and laughter while we ate boxed stuffing off of sytrofoam plates. I don't remember anyone saying anything to me about my brother.

My parents chose not to let us see Joshua except through photographs. They came to regret this decision later, but had thought at the time that the discoloration of his skin wouldn't be a good way for us to remember him by. Instead, they wrapped him in a blanket, put a hat on his head, and my dad went to the store to buy a toy firetruck. To this day, my heart cringes at the thought of walking through a toy store to buy a firetruck for your only son who would never play with it...The firetruck was placed into the casket beside my brother.

The funeral was held a few days later and was only attended by a small amount of people. We sat up front with my parents and stared at the 2' long white box that looked more like a foam cooler than a baby casket. At the cemetary, we sang "Praise Him, Praise Him, all ye little children, God is love, God is love..." before saying goodbye. It was cold and windy, and the chairs were forest green.

There was no offering of foot prints or photos for my parents when Joshua was birthed. The hospital didn't have tiny blankets to wrap him in, nor any counseling services for "this sort of thing" to suggest. We are left with a shoebox containing a few photos, a blue hat, and a striped receiving blanket by which to remember my brother, and the term "stillborn" to describe the event by. People still don't know what to say when they ask us "you have EIGHT daughters and NO boys?!" and we kindly respond with "we have a brother, but he was stillborn."

A decade later, there is support for what we now call "babylost" parents. Beravement jewlery, grief support groups, and even post partum products specifically for the mothers of these sleeping babies are now available. In one week, there will be an international day of recognition for these women, known as "International Babylost Mama Day." As far as I can tell, this will be the first time this day is observed (to be held the first Sunday of May each year), and has been organized by a beautiful Babylost Mama from Australia who lost her only son in 2007. It is a way to honor these forgotten mothers and babies and will be held on May 2nd, one week before the traditionally observed "Mother's Day."

Do you want to get involved? If you have been affected by the loss of a baby and would be willing to share your story to support and encourage other parents, I'd love to publish your story on Life More Simply! Please email your stories to lifemoresimply at yahoo.com with the title "Babylost Mama Day" in the subject line. Your story will be subject to editing without notice for grammar, spelling, etc.. Tasteful photos are also welcome with each submission (if possible, please post them to an online photo hosting service such as PhotoBucket.com so that I don't have to download anything--just send me the links!). The deadline for me to receive these will be May 1st and I will begin publishing on or after May 2nd, continuing throughout the week depending on how many submissions I receive.

Other ways to get involved:
Contact me about products you know of that are specifically made for or can help babylost parents and siblings.

Join the International Babylost Mama Facebook page.

Check out the International Babylost Mama website at http://internationalbabylostmothersday.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DIY: Frugal and Green Centerpieces for a Baby Shower

Easy, green, and frugal baby shower centerpieces:

Step One: Obtain Bottles
I was able to snag a bunch of used Dr. Brown bottles for just the cost of shipping through http://www.diaperswappers.com/. BPA free, in good shape, and less than $2.00 a bottle! I told the mama-to-be about them so she could take it off of her registry as they'll be a gift to her after they serve their decorative purpose at the shower.

Step Two: Ribbon
Tie a reusable ribbon around the bottle's neck. Instead of buying new ribbon, I just used the same ribbon that had been tied around the washcloth/reusable wipe roses I received from I Dream In Green.






Step Three: Stuff with Tissue Paper
This is a great thing to do with your already used tissue paper that's wrinkly and has holes or tears. Just take one piece and start stuffing it into the bottom of the bottle until you have about 1/4 of it left sticking out of the top.

Step Four: the topper
Lastly, stick a topper of your choice down into the bottle and tissue paper. I was able to find these circular exploding decorations on sale for 90% off after Christmas last year. I bought 8 of them and tucked them away in my gift closet (I buy things on discount throughout the year and store them in a cupboard until I use them). The great thing about them is that they cost me $.40 each and are so colorful that I'll be able to reuse them for any sort of party or shower event that needs decorations!

If you can't find some inexpensive topper like this, you could use balloons on sticks or weighted down from a string, big old fashioned lolipops, or cute animal silhouettes (think: Peeps) cut out of scrapbooking paper and mounted on a dowel craft rod.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Snoedel Aromatherapy Doll Review and Giveaway!




Snoedel Aromatherapy Doll Review & Giveaway

I don't think it'll be long before the word "Snoedel" becomes a regular noun in households with babies. I first found out about Snoedels after stumbling across their website online and immediately fell in love with their mission and philosophy. Having degrees in Therapeutic Recreation, Psychology, and a Paramedic certification, I'm well aware of the importance of early bonding and attachment between babies and their mothers especially. The touch and smell relationship that is established immediately after birth affects both the physical and psychological development of a new baby, and can particularly impact those born prematurely! Studies have shown that babies develop faster when they are able to be with their mothers--which is often difficult to do when your baby is in a NICU. That, I believe, is the most important function of a Snoedel: to let a baby in an incubator still be able to experience mom even when she can't hold him.

The concept of a Snoedel doll is simple: the doll is made of soft flanel that easily absorbs a person's scent. The idea is to have a parent place the Snoedel close to him or herself long enough to where the doll begins to smell like mom or dad. A child can then be comforted by the smell of her parent when the Snoedel is placed nearby. Being able to have their parent nearby in this olfactory way is comforting to babies in many situations.

How the Snoedel Can Be Used...
BREASTFEEDING: Snoedels can help to keep babies comforted while being transitioned to a crib or bassinet after breastfeeling.

NEWBORNS: An expecting mom can prepare the Snoedel prior to giving birth so that the newborn can be kept immersed in mother's scent during and after delivery.

PREEMIES: A preemie can be separated from its mother immediately after birth, placed in an incubator and kept on medical equipment. Snoedels add the comfort of a mother's scent and can start the mother-to-baby bonding process while the two are physically apart.

MEDICAL PROCEDURES: The unique smell of a mother can keep a baby or child feeling more comforted and secure during the stress of medical procdures.

ADOPTIONS: Snoedels can be used to begin bonding between adoptive parents and baby while the adoption is in process and the parents are waiting for delivery of the baby or child. This can be especially helpful in international adoptions, when waiting periods are longer and language an cultural differences may add additional barriers in the relationship-building between the adoptive parents and baby.

IMPROVING SLEEP: Snoedels may assist in getting babies to sleep through the night.

MOTHER RETURNING TO WORK AT END OF MATERNITY LEAVE: Snoedels can comfort a baby by easing the separation anxiety a baby feels when a mother must return fo work and leaves the baby in the care of others for long hours during the day.

IMPROVING BABYSITTING AND DAYCARE EXPERIENCE: Snoedels may comfort a baby or child while the parents are away by keeping a parent's scent near.

TEETHING: Snoedels have knots that babies can use while teething.

FOR GRANDPARENTS IN A DISTANT STATE: Snoedels can be infused with the grandparent's scent to remind the baby or child of a loving relative that lives far away.

My Thoughts...
I only wish I had known about the Snoedel dolls sooner. I'm one of eight sisters and #6 was born at only 24 weeks gestation. She was expected to be born dead but when she cried after birthing, the hospital staff quickly admitted her to the NICU. She weighed 15 oz., had only one layer of skin, and wasn't expected to live long. For the next five months, my parents vigilantly took turns staying by her side even though they weren't able to touch her for a long time. Even 17 years ago when she was born, it was recommended that my mother place something that smelled like her underneath my sister as she lay in the incubator to help her development and bonding. While a shirt can certainly absorb a smell, it's not as cute or as soft as a Snoedel doll would have been!

Since my sister's experience (who, by the way, is a bright and beautiful teenager now...maybe I should write about my family more?), I've watched two of my other siblings be in the NICU (for only days at a time), and also my first nephew recently for the first week after he was born. Not only do I think a Snoedel would have been awesome for these sweet babies, but as a mama, I know that being able to give my child something so beautiful and so linked to me would soothe my heart as it ached to hold my child. Babies aren't the only ones who can find a Snoedel therapeutic!

When the Snoedel family sent me a cloud print doll for my son, I was immediately taken back by how soft and big the Snoedel is. It's not too big, mind you, but I had expected just something tiny, and this doll is 18x18"--big enough to use as a blankie for a newborn! The quality is exquisite and you can tell that each one is hand made in the US and will be durable through many nights of cuddling. I immediately had to show the doll to my husband and daughter once I saw the craftsmanship and love that the Snoedel beams of. It is...a doll that your family will treasure. Washing it didn't affect it at all, either, even though some of the stitching is done by hand (at least, it looks that way)!

This is now one of the top items I want to give people for baby showers. Not only can you buy a Snoedel in a variety of prints and colors, but you can get matching blankets, have the doll embroidered, and they even have toddler sized Snoedels and a pillow available, too! Owned by three sisters and a mother, this is a business that pays attention to detail and was founded out of a love for babies. Whether your child will be apart from you because of a hospitalization, bedtime, or because you work away from home, this is something you will treasure. My only suggestion for Snoedel? Keep making more and start getting them into retail stores! :-)

Buy It! Visit http://www.snoedel.com/

Win It! Snoedel is going to give one of my readers her own Snoedel. To enter, you will need to visit their website at http://www.snoedel.com/ and leave a comment here with which one you want. Be careful--whatever you choose is what you'll receive! Be sure to leave a separate comment with your email address for each entry! Random.org will choose the winner on or after May 7th, 2010 at noon, EST.

Extra Entries:
•Follow Life More Simply through Blogger/Google Friend Connect
•Subscribe to me in a reader/Feedburner
•Subscribe to me through email
•Tweet about this contest with a link @LifeMoreSimply. Tweet 1x/day!
•Follow @LifeMoreSimply on Twitter (check the sidebar link) (2 entries)
•Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply (check the sidebar link)
•Blog about this contest! Tell your friends on a parenting forum! Just spread the word and tell me how you did! (1 entry per way)
•Grab any of my buttons and put them on your blog (1 entry/each).

Note: Snoedel provided me with the sample to do this review. No other compensation was received and I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

Morning

This is what I’m working towards.
This is what motivates me.


I want to wake up and just watch my daughter sleep. Right now, when I wake up in the morning, I have to get ready for work, pack the diaper bag, and then wake up my sleeping daughter so she can go to Grandma’s house. On the weekend, I try to take a nap with her but I can’t go to sleep because I can’t stop looking at her. As I study her face, I tell myself that someday, I will be able to look at her as much as I want to. As I try to memorize every moment so I can think of it as I sit at my desk later, I remind myself that this is only a season.


I want to sit on the couch and share breakfast with Pooh Bear. Right now, I watch as my daughter gets the pillows arranged so that she’s “comfy,” patting the spot next to her so that daddy or I will sit down and share her Cheerios with her and Pooh. I sit down only for a moment, and it’s only because I have to put her socks on her…but I want to stay. As I smile and laugh with her as she feeds me her breakfast, I tell myself that someday, we will always share our cereal with each other and Pooh. Together.



I want to stand at the door in the morning and watch the birds. Right now, we stand at the door and watch for Grandma to arrive. My daughter smiles when the van pulls up, but immediately clings to me at the same time. She motions that Grandma should stay here and visit while mommy holds her. As I burry my face in her curly hair and she snuggles into my neck, I wish that this moment wouldn’t end. I remind myself that this is harder on me than her, and she is always thrilled to be at Grandma’s house. I remind myself that I won’t always have to give her to someone else every morning.

This is what motivates me. I want to see my daughter grow instead of be surprised at how heavy she is when I pick her up after work. I want to hear her say “bye bye” instead of get a text message telling me that she just said it. I want to get the most kisses and even change the most diapers.

This is what I’m working towards. I will create an opportunity.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Boba Baby Carrier





Boba Organic Baby Carrier Review & Discount Code
We all know that babywearing not only offers great attachment, social, and psychological benefits to the baby (and parent, I think), but did you ever think about just how practical and convenient wearing your baby can be? I started out wearing my daughter when she was very young. We quickly learned that our Evenflo carrier wasn't going to cut it because I didn't think it could possibly be healthy or safe (go figure, now they're all recalled), and our generic front carrier was okay but not sturdy enough or versatile enough to do much with. I ended up making a ring sling and loved it, but still needed something else for all of my out door long-haul adventures. Once my daughter was around 20 lbs., I knew I needed something more. After finding out I was pregnant again, the search for the perfect carrier zestfully began in full...and led me to Boba Organic Baby Carrier.

In short: I LOVE THIS CARRIER.

In long: This carrier is awesome and I think it will greatly help reduce the stress in the life of any parent with a toddler. Designed to be used with babies over 15 lbs. (ages 1-4), it's a carrier that is built to last while being gentle to you and your baby. I was able to try their new Cedar Boba 2G with my 23-ish lb. daughter and a (now) very pregnant belly. Let me tell you--after working a full day at the office and coming home to a little girl who wants to be with mommy but is all wound up, this carrier has pretty much saved my life. I've been able to put her on my back and get house work done all while snuggling and playing with her. She LOVES to get in the Boba! Not only is it fun for her, but I've found that she relaxes right down in it and is very soothed by being comfortably snug against me. This may sound funny, but I've actually found that wearing her on my back evens out the weight of my large abdomen and I actually feel safer walking up and downstairs because I'm more balenced. Who would have thought? Ha!

What Boba Says...
Boba is a Soft Structured baby carrier (SSC) that is intended for toddlers 1-4 years old (15 pounds and up). Boba has a few extra inches of height to keep your center of gravity closer to your body and support your little one's back. The innovative thing about Boba carrier is that there are foot straps attached to the waist belt for the child’s feet to sit in enabling a healthy sitting position for the child. The footstraps not only give little tired legs a rest, but support the legs in a flexed abducted (froglike) position which naturally tilts the pelvis, fills out the hip sockets, and aligns the spine.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
•accommodates child 1-4 years (15-45 lbs / 7-20 kg)
•one size fits most adults
•front and back carry
•made with GOTS and OE100 certified 100% organic cotton
•100% organic Texas cotton lining
•machine washable
•Instructions included
•safety buckle to prevent unintended release
•high density waist and shoulder strap foam
•foot straps for extra leg/hip support
•high back for better overall support
•made in Boulder, CO USA

Features removable, patent-pending foot straps

Includes matching, removable sleeping hood

My daughter hasn't fallen fully asleep while in the Boba yet, so I can't tell you how efficient the hood is, but I can vouch that it's easy to put up and rolls down very small so you wouldn't even realize it's there. Everything is very easily adjustable even while you're wearing it (I'm 5'1" and my husband is 5'11" and it easily fits both of us) and there are no buttons or snaps to deal with. The fact that it's organic leads to very soft fabric, as you can imagine, but it also gives me a peace of mind in wearing it since it's to be spot-cleaned only (who wants chemicals rubbing up against their skin, especially when you can't try to wash them out?!).

I've worn it for over an hour at a time and found that if I had everything adjusted correctly, it was as comfortable as a good quality backpacker's backpack (meaning, it may get weary after a while, but in all, you're pretty comfortable). Obviously, I haven't worn it over my front because of the baby bump, but I've checked it out for nursing purposes and think that it won't be a problem as long as you have the baby low enough on you and a cover for yourself. When putting the carrier on one's back, I would suggest having a buddy nearby to help you get it on and the baby into it. The majority of the time, I put it on all by myself, but it's easier and safer if you have someone nearby to lend a hand...especially when you're pregnant and are missing important muscles!

So obviously, if you've read this much of my review, you know that I won't be getting rid of my Boba. I expect it to last for a very long time and be loved very much. :-) Once I con one of my sisters to take some photos of LoveBug and I in the Boba, I'll post the photos here (hoping for tonight!), so keep watch!
Buy It! Check out the great selection of colors (my favorite is the "Pine") and their new print at http://www.bobababycarrier.com/. Use the coupon code is ‘simply’ and get 10% off any Boba order, valid from April 20th-May 20th.

Want an extra entry into ANY of the Baby-Mama shower contests? Visit http://www.bobababycarrier.com/ and leave me a message here with your favorite color or feature. Then go ahead an give yourself an extra entry into any or all of the other contests that you've already entered by writing "Boba" as a comment with an email address (one extra entry per contest). I will be checking to make sure you also commented here like I asked!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blush Topless Undershirt Review & Giveaway!





Blush Topless Undershirt Review & Giveaway


Blush Accessories is a company formed by two women who had a problem once-upon-a-time: their shirts just didn't cover their bellies. Their solution? A Topless Undershirt that's like a tube top but worn around the waist. The narrower top and widening bottom allows you to place the shirt wherever you need to on your abdomen without having it fall down around your hips, and the variety of colors and prints they offer make it so you can match any wardrobe with the "layered" look that I'm so fond of. Made of a poly/rayon/spandex blend, there's a lot of room for stretching and support regardless of your body shape. My favorite thing about the company, though, is the slogan that I just saw on their Facebook page:

Be Bold. Wear Blush.

Cause there is only one set of cheeks we want to see.

What Blush Says...
FOR EVERYONE If you love the look of layering without adding the extra bulk and straps, this is a product for you. Unlike a tank top or long shirt, it does not have straps which cause your undershirt to constantly ride up. It stays put without having to always readjust. Without straps, you are not limited to where the length of your shirt falls. You can adjust to any length, whether you want it to go just over the top of your pants or all the way down to your thigh. For all your favorite shirts that have shrunk in the dryer, don't throw them away! Just add a {topless undershirt} and you still have the length of the shirt you bought it as.
My Thoughts...
I was sent a chocolate colored top to review and have worn it quite a bit since receiving it a few months ago (yeah, this review is waaaaaaaay overdue...). Having worn it during the last few months though has really allowed me to see how it'll work on a regular body changing into a pregnant body (30 weeks today, baby!) which is important since you can use this as a way to simply lengthen your shirts, as a way to cover your abdomen and back during nursing, or to help cover a pregnant belly when those maternity shirts just aren't long enough anymore (who decides the length of maternity shirts, anyway?). Versatility is very important to me when I buy a piece of clothing, especially with being pregnant, nursing, and knowing that eventually I will be normal again. :-) So my first thought about this shirt is that it really serves many purposes, making it worth the money. Nursing? No problem! I found this was a great way to provide warmth AND modesty while nursing my daughter and without the hassel of moving, unsnapping, or putting something on to do so. I do think that late in pregnancy you'll want the next size up from what you normally wear, though, as you can't just pull it down as far as you need to cover the watermelon-belly look.

I love the selection of colors, prints, and textures they have for their shirts (two have a lacey bottom)! As a person who doesn't believe in having a ton of clothes, the Topless Undershirt is a great way to expand your wardrobe by mix-and-matching the undershirt with different "regular" shirts but without having to buy more clothing. Even though this shirt has a lot of stretch, I was actually surprised to read the "ingredients" in the makeup because it feels just like a soft cotton shirt feels.

Obviously, I've washed this shirt many times by now. Regardless of that, I've seen no fading, stretching, or other signs of wear. The only thing I'd actually want to see Blush offer is an even longer shirt that one could put under her arm pits rather than under her chest. I'm a cold person and it'd be nice to have that little extra layer around the "nursers," as my daughter calls them. ;-)

Buy It! Blush Accessories is offering a 20% discount when you buy 2 or more undershirts from them. So pick your favorites or order with a friend! Just enter the code "welovebloggers" on their website at http://www.toplessundershirt.com/

Win It! Blush Accessories will be giving one of my readers a Topless Undershirt in the size of her choice (sorry, can't pick the color)! To enter, you need to do two things: become a Twitter follower and Facebook friend of Blush. Yes, two things, but the shirt is great, so get on it and then tell me you did so here! Be sure to leave an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest ends May 7th, 2010.

  • Become a friend of Blush on Facebook: Blush Undershirts

  • Follow Blush on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BlushUndershirt (they have a lot of deals they disclose on Twitter, I noticed!)


  • Extra Entries:
    • Visit their website at http://toplessundershirt.com/ and tell me your favorite color/print
    • Follow Life More Simply through Blogger/Google Friend Connect
    • Subscribe to me in a reader/Feedburner
    • Subscribe to me through email
    • Tweet about this contest with a link @LifeMoreSimply and @BlushUndershirt. Tweet 1x/day!
    • Follow @LifeMoreSimply on Twitter (check the sidebar link) (2 entries)
    • Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply (check the sidebar link)
    • Blog about this contest! Tell your friends on a parenting forum! Just spread the word and tell me how you did! (1 entry per way)
    • Grab any of my buttons and put them on your blog (1 entry/each).
    Note: Blush Accessories provided me with the sample to do this review. No other compensation was received and I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

    4TROOPS CD Review

    Sony Music says it best...
    The 4TROOPS are 4 US combat veterans who fought on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. They all shared a passion for music and are now sharing their talent with the world while creating awareness for veterans, soldiers and their needs.

    Featuring tracks such as "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," "You Raise Me Up," and "You'll Never Walk Alone," the new self-titled album consists of well-known positive pop and country hits, along with some new songs. Sony Music will donate 50 cents from each sale of the 4TROOPS album in the United States to organizations that support veterans and their families. This donation will be split equally among The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) and the USO.
     
    My Thoughts...
    I had the privilage of reviewing 4TROOPS' new self titled album. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I have a deep passion for music and plenty of musical training behind me, so I'm always up for experiencing something new. :-) I first put the CD on in the car while driving with my 17-month-old daughter. She had been fussing and immediately calmed down when "God Bless the Broken Road" came on. Wow! We listened to the album all the way through and all I can say is that it's very relaxing and hopeful. The band's sound and choice of songs that make up the album range from soul/vocal and broadway sounding influences to country styles! Throughout the changing sounds, though, the vocals remain strong, the messages hopeful, and the tempo relaxing. Knowing the story behind this band and that Sony Music is donating 50 cents per album sold to organizations that are supporting veterans and their families makes listening to these songs all the more impactful.
     
    Our country is still in the midst of termoil, our troops are still fighting, and in a few weeks, there will be a lot of mothers left thinking about their soldier sons and daughters this Mother's Day. These mothers in particular, I think, would be honored to receive a copy of this CD. For the rest of us, I think it's a wholesome and uplifting reminder of love for our country and fellow human beings. You can try before you buy and listen to their first single "For Freedom" by clicking here.
     
    Note: Sony Music provided me with the CD to review. No other compensation was received.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Spa Baby Eco European Bath Tub Review & Giveaway!





    Spa Baby Eco European Bath Tub Review & Giveaway!
    When my first daughter was born, I opted to register for a cheap and small baby bathing thing to clean her with. I found out that it didn't really work well and wasted a lot of water since it had to sit directly in our big bath tub. Needless to say, that bathing thing isn't being kept for Baby Monkey (due in just over 10 weeks!) which left me to figure out exactly what sort of bathing unit I wanted to use for him. In my search to find an eco-friendly and child-safe baby bather, I found Spa Baby Tubs. They make European style baby bathtubs which are pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread. Basically, these tubs are like buckets that allow a baby to sit cross legged in the tub, making them feel secure and calm as the environment mimics the womb. I've even read that this sort of tub is especially effective in calming fussy babies because of the womb like atmosphere it creates! There aren't very many US companies that make these sort of tubs, and Spa Baby is the only one I've found who offers a tub made from toxin free, recycled plastic (I've seen others that are toxin free, but none that are made from recycled plastic). This new tub, the Spa Baby Eco, is made from 100% recycled, non toxic plastic, and is the model that Spa Baby Tubs sent to me for review.


    Key features that make me like this tub:

    1) The size allows for newborns-babies 10-months-old (based on mobility) to use it.

    2) It comes with a skid-resistant mat that you can suction to the bottom of the bucket in case you've got a little baby that may slide somewhere (not sure how that could happen since the bottom is narrow, but it makes me feel better none the less).

    3) Made from BPA, phthalate, latex, and PVC free 100% recycled plastic...and is still recyclable, of course.

    4) Can be used for much more than just a tub--my current daughter is too mobile to use the tub, so we've enjoyed it as a toy bucket, cleaning bucket, and storage/carry unit since receiving it. The fact that it's multi-purposeful makes me like it oh-so-much more since I'm all about simple living. :-)

    I've been busy showing this tub to everyone who comes to my house for the last few weeks, and the biggest question I get is "how can you put a new baby in that?" Well, it's pretty simple and Spa Baby Tubs has videos and photos to make it more understandable. For any baby, you will fill the water up to his or her chest level (there's also a line around the tub's inside to guide you). The way that they sit will keep the water away from any their mouth and noses, but since a new baby's head is wobbly, you will still need to support the unstable head with your hand simply so they don't cut of their own breathing ability by having a chin touching their neck. :-) The photo below is of a 16-day-old baby using the regular Spa Baby Tub:


    I'm impressed by the size, shape, and sturdiness of this tub. I can't WAIT to use it with Baby Monkey when he arrives and am thrilled to have found this! Thank you, Spa Baby Tubs! Finally, a tub that fits my lifestyle, belief in recycling, need for safety, and need for multi-purposeful items...not to mention the fact that I really think my baby will like sitting in water rather than laying all stretched out with me dribbling water over his belly like traditional baby tubs would have me do. Ha! Keep reading--after Baby Monkey is born and I use the tub, I'll write an update post here to let you know how it's working. :-)

    Buy It! Make your baby comfortable and safe; you can buy an Eco tub from Spa Baby at their website: http://www.spababytubs.com/ or through Amazon. Prices for these tubs range from $44.95-46.95. This seems a little on the pricey side, but if you have the money then I'd definitely say to get one, considering how much more natural of an environment it provides for your baby during bath time, the fact that it's made from SAFE plastic, and that you can use it for other purposes, too.

    Win It! Spa Baby Tubs is giving one of my readers her own Spa Baby Eco Tub! To enter, please visit their website at http://www.spababytubs.com/, look around, and tell me your thoughts. What do you like? What did you learn? Be sure to leave an email address and separate comment for each entry! Contest will end on or after May 7th, 2010 at noon, EST.

    Extra Entries:
    Follow Life More Simply through Blogger/Google Friend Connect
    Subscribe to me in a reader/Feedburner
    Subscribe to me through email
    Tweet about this contest with a link @LifeMoreSimply and @dreamgreenshop. Tweet 1x/day!

    Follow @LifeMoreSimply on Twitter (check the sidebar link) (2 entries)
    Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply (check the sidebar link)
    Blog about this contest! Tell your friends on a parenting forum! Just spread the word and tell me how you did! (1 entry per way)
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    Note: Spa Baby Tubs provided me with the sample to do this review. No other compensation was received and I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

    Cloth Diaper Cake Review & Giveaway from I Dream In Green!



    Cloth Diaper Cake Review & Giveaway


    Today, I am here to tell you about one of my very favorite products I've tested for the Baby-Mama Shower Event. It is the ultimate eco-friendly baby shower gift, cute as all get out, and maybe the most useful gift you could receive (or give to yourself). What is it, you're wondering? A cloth diaper cake from I Dream of Green. When I first heard about this business through Diaper Swappers, I was excited. After all, it's an awesome idea but one I've never seen actually put forth by anyone. Who WOULDN'T be excited to receive something like this for a baby? Even if you don't use cloth diapers, you will still use the contents in one of these cakes (prefolds make the best burp and dust cloths, and the cloth wipes in these cakes are so luxerious that you'll want to use them for every possible body washing need of yours). I Dream of Green is the business making these cloth diaper cakes, but the owner, Elizabeth, doesn't stop there. She offers all sorts of awesome "green" creations including flower boquets and cupcakes, all made out of great quality, reusable cloth and baby-friendly items.


    I was able to choose items and try out a custom made cloth diaper cake for this review. The choices were endless and even when I changed my mind about things, Elizabeth was gracious to make sure everything was perfect for me--and it was! She will build a creation specifically for you, including everything from diapers and covers to teething toys and wet bags. The components of the cake she made for my soon-to-be son is: 7 Bummis organic cotton infant size prefolds, 7 double-sided hand-dyed cloth wipes, 1 XS Thirsties cover ($48.00 value total). That's a LOT of stuff for a new baby, and it came so beautifully packaged that I actually couldn't bring myself to unassemble the cake for about a week after I received it. :-) When I did finally start to pull it apart (very easy, by the way), my daughter had a blast playing with the "roses" (washcloths). She and I had lots of fun pretending to eat our pieces of "cake" for a few days before I unwrapped them for washing's sake.

    Here are the things I love most about I Dream In Green:
    1) Owned by a mama who not only knows WHAT other mama's and baby's need, but who has access to a huge variety of earth and human friendly products to put into her creations.

    2) Her creations are simply delightful to look at. This woman seriously pairs colors and objects together in a fantastic way.

    3) The quality of the items! These are by far the BEST washcloths/wipes I've ever used. They're double sided, colorful, just the right size, and SOFT. I've been using them to wash my face every day since getting them and I want more!

    4) Everything she sends is reusable, right down to the ribbons.

    5) She can make a great eco-friendly and useful gift for any new baby or mama--not just those of us who use cloth diapers! And since she'll do custom work, your budget can definitely afford something.

    I honestly can say that I have zero recommendations to improve this product or business except to continue expanding the website and online marketing capabilities of I Dream in Green--everyone needs to know about this! Goodness, I want to go and buy myself at least 3 things that she has available right now...

    Buy It! Hurry, she has some ready-to-send items and a ton of custom slots. Visit http://idreamingreen.net/ to view the selection and to contact Elizabeth.

    Win It! I Dream In Green is giving one of my readers a $20.00 gift certificate good towards anything at http://idreamingreen.net/ (will be emailed to the winner and will be good for 1 year). There are a ton of things you can do to enter this contest (see below), but you first MUST be a Google Friend (Blogger) or Feedburner subscriber (email) of Life More Simply. Be sure to leave an email address and separate comment for each way that you enter below! Contest will end on or after May 7th, 2010 at noon, EST.

    Entries:
    Even MORE Entires:
    • Tweet about this contest with a link @LifeMoreSimply and @dreamgreenshop. Tweet 1x/day!
    • Follow @LifeMoreSimply on Twitter (check the sidebar link) (2 entries)
    • Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply (check the sidebar link)
    • Blog about this contest! Tell your friends on a parenting forum! Just spread the word and tell me how you did! (1 entry per way)
    • Grab any of my buttons and put them on your blog (1 entry/each).
    Note: I Dream In Green provided me with the samples to do this review. No other compensation was received and I was under no obligation to write a positive review.