Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Sauce

Last year was the first year we canned our own sauce.  We loved Brian's mom's recipe so went with that and made 32 quarts.  We ran out through the year and it's impossible to buy a sauce as tasty, so we were determined to make even more batches this year in hopes that we don't run out.  So the total came to 52 quarts and 10 pints of our sauce.  That was made in 5 different batches.  It's a ton of work, but the benefits out weigh the pain of it.  We get to eat fresh, delicious, homemade sauce all year long.  Made with vegetables all straight out of the garden.  We grow our tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and hot peppers, but you could always go and buy yourself enough to do a batch of sauce.  If you already have a garden this is a great way to use up all that produce that comes on all at once!  We still have tons of tomatoes and everything, so we'll be making salsa next week!  This is definitely a family affair.  I couldn't do all this by myself, nor would I want to.  My husband and I make a good team and seem to have got a system going.  The kids both love squeezing the tomatoes!

Here is the recipe we use-

1/2 bushel of ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup oil (or less)
3 lbs onions
2 garlic bulbs
6 green peppers
4 hot Hungarian wax peppers
4 sweet banana peppers
1/2 of one of the huge cans of tomato paste (it's says 6lb 5 oz on the label)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 TB basil
2 TB oregano

Chop up the peppers, onions and garlic in a food processor.  Cook in oil for about 1/2 til veggies are tender.  Meanwhile squeeze your tomatoes, filling a 14 quart pot with the juice.  We like to then squeeze the cooked veggies through, because we don't like a chunky sauce.  You could do it either way.  We then add that juice into the sauce also.  We cook it down and then add in the spices and paste.  The more you cook it down the less paste you need.

We can it using a pressure cooker, we process the pints and quarts at 11 lbs pressure for 15 minutes.  Fill  the jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.   Remember it is so important to follow these directions so that you are preserving your sauce properly. 

Fresh Tomatoes straight from our garden.

Fresh green bell peppers, hot Hungarian wax peppers, sweet banana peppers, and onions.

Hard to believe it goes from this to that.

Our big helper!

Our little helper!

Squeezing out all that tomato goodness!

Cooking the vegetables down on the stove in a cast iron skillet.

Mmm, smells SO good!

Everything in the pot!

And our final count. 52 quarts and 10 pints. We store these on a shelf in the basement.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Swaddlebees Simplex Newborn Review

Just like the name implies, our next diaper in the Newborn Cloth Diapering Series is "simple" and easy to use!  The Swaddlebees Simplex Newborn is an All in One diaper that makes it one of the simplest and easiest diapers to use!  It also happens to be my ALL TIME FAVORITE newborn diaper and I will be seriously sad when Baby J no longer fits these...which won't be too long from now!   If you would like to read more about my initial findings with cloth diapering a skinny baby and our rocky start to cloth diapering Baby J, please see the Intro post here.

The Swaddlebees Simplex Newborn is an All in One diaper with all of the pros of an AIO but also has some features of a pocket diaper!  The simplex consists of a sewn in birds eye soaker that is attached at one end and loose at the other.  This allows for the soaker to agitate out in the wash but still maintain the convenience of an All in One diaper!  Both ends of the diaper below the soaker are open like a pocket to A) allow the soaker to agitate out and B) to allow you to add extra inserts for absorbency if needed.  This diaper also features a cord snap down in the front of the diaper to allow room for the baby's cord stump until it falls off.

Price Per Diaper:  (3/5 Stars)  This diaper retails for $16.95.  This price is about average for newborn diapers, especially AIO newborn diapers however you get a ton of bang for your buck plus these diapers fit longer than most newborn diapers going up to 16 pounds per the manufacturer.  Baby J is 12 1/2 pounds and still has lots of room to grow in these while other newborn diapers are in the too small bin.  For an average price, you get a lot more use than other diapers in the same price range.

Leaks:  (4/5 Stars)  When Baby J was at his lowest weight (upper 6's to almost 7 pounds) we did have some leaking around the leg openings.  My kids have really skinny legs to begin with and his loss of weight just made it worse.  For about a week, I just didn't use any of our cloth diapers because none of them fit his long skinny frame, but once he got some meat back on and got back to about 7 1/2 pounds, we got back into cloth and back into these!  And once we hit the 7 1/2 to 8 pound mark and the leg openings fit better, we were leak free!  Surprisingly, even though there are no gussets on this diaper, we had no EBF poop blow-outs either!!  There is a total of 11 layers of birds eye cotton on the inside of this diaper for absorbency.  We found that this was perfect for our little super soaker!  This diaper was extremely absorbent and we ended up using these for naps and at night!  I never needed to stuff another insert into these but love that option!

Fit:  (5/5 Stars)  This diaper is all hearts and stars when it comes to fit!!!  Except for the above mentioned leg leaks when Baby J lost weight, this diaper fit perfectly!!!  The two rows of snaps around the waist offer ample options for fit and the cord stump snap means this diaper will fit from day one!!!  The entire diaper has some stretch to it and the entire back waist of the diaper is elastic giving you that perfect fit every time!!!   And once my skinny boy hit that 7 1/2 pound mark, the leg openings fit perfectly as well!  My kids are very long and very skinny, not the typical baby.  Swaddlebees lists this diaper as fitting at 6 pounds, I can see that being quite true for most babies, just not the loooooong and skinny ones that I make! LOL!

Ease of Use:  (5/5 Stars)  It doesn't get easier than this!!!  Seriously!!  It is an All in One diaper, so no pieces or parts to keep track of!  The cord snap down makes getting this diaper on a newborn that still has his/her cord stump a breeze!  My only *small* complaint would be that the sewn in soaker has a tendency to twist and wrinkle in the wash making straightening it out to stuff it back in a little annoying at times...but this is a small con!

Washing: (4/5 Stars)  This diaper is a cinch to wash.  Since it is an AIO, just toss it in the washer and toss it in the dryer!  SOOO easy!  The birds eye cotton does stain a little here and there, but mostly it washes back to bright white.  And if not, a little sunning takes care of the rest!  Like I said above, the soaker twists in the wash and can be a little annoying to stuff, but other wise wash day is quite simple and short with these diapers!  Most AIO diapers take forever to dry, but since part of the soaker agitates out in the wash, it dries very quickly!

Overall Performance:  (5/5 Stars)  I cannot say enough about the Simplex Newborn!  They are trim, absorbent, and the prints are SUPER cute!  They fit well on my skinny baby and they have the cord snap down so you can CD from day one!  This diaper hits the home run in my book!!!  Highly recommend this!!

Total Stars:  26/30

Baby J is 12 1/2 pounds now, and still fitting nicely!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Need some extra $$ for Christmas?

I recently had the opporunity to share with someone a survey site to NOT join (Panda Research) and she asked me for a list of ones I do participate in.  Here they are -

MommyTalk Surveys - I have been really pleased with this one - have taken some high value surveys and the payout is great!

PineCone Research -This one is nice because it's a standard $3 a survey PLUS the survey usually ends up with a free product to try!

Valued Opinions -Another great one! -Really like this one too!

MySurvey -The points seem to add up fast here!

SwagBucks - earn swagbucks by taking surveys... so easy to accumulate 450 points = a $5 e-amazon gift card!

National Consumer Panel - If you do lots of shopping this one is great because you earn points for submitting your shopping trips (redeemed my points for two birthday presents this year!)

I try to average 3-4 surveys a day and then around October I start cashing in my points/rewards and use that money for Christmas gifts.... it really makes the holidays less stressful by not having to use credit cards and then have that large bill in January! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Nursing Strike

I've already posted once today - it's about a great getaway deal - see it here.

But this post is not about that.  This story started Tuesday evening when my almost 10 month old bit me for the first time - quite suddenly and shocked me so bad that I responded with a NOOOOO, yelp, and pulled her off. And she instantly started crying.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning - little one woke up at 5:30am, nursed on one side, and then refused the other side.... ok maybe she wasn't that hungry.  Then refused again at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30.... each time crying because she was hungry but then would just lay there with her lips pinched together and shake her head.  She finally cried herself to sleep about 9am.  I seriously had no idea what my day had in store at that point.

She slept until almost lunch time.... I offered her the breast as soon as she woke up but once again refused it... and then the crying started. She was so hungry but REFUSED to nurse. By this point I had pumped and had a bottle - which she took and chewed on.... nothing else. So I thought maybe her teeth were bothering her and gave her some teething tablets.  I was starting to lose control... I was so upset and feeling desperate.  She would cry to eat - I would offer and she would refuse. I would set her down on the floor and she would scream and cry - great huge sobbing cries.  I would lay on the floor to be close to her and she would crawl all over me sobbing... but as soon as I would offer the breast she would pinch her lips together and move her head away.... repeat over and over.  This went on till 5ish when her dad got home.... now all she has had to eat all day was a jar and half of baby food.

I was getting upset, I mean really upset. I was convinced she was done nursing, was never going to do it again - I had scarred her so bad when I yelled at her the day before. She was going to starve. I kid you not - I was a mess.

Nursing is my favorite thing. I love it. I enjoy it so much - it's the one thing I look forward to the most when I become pregnant. 

My hubby finally got her to sleep at 5:30 pm - I went took a shower by myself (usually it's me and three kids!), had to pump again, and then tried to relax. Meanwhile I was having constant replays in my mind of the day before, feeling horrible about myself, and crying off and on.  My hubby took the older two swimming for awhile and just as I was to sit down and comfort myself with a brownie sundae, my little one woke up. I literally ran upstairs to try and get to her while she was still sleepy hoping she would latch on and not know the difference. NOPE.  And thus the screaming started again.... by then I was sobbing. Full blown sobbing.  I called a dear friend who's an ER nurse and had her talk me through the fact that there was nothing wrong with my baby. As in - she was still swallowing her spit so there was nothing blocking or hurting that would prevent her from swallowing milk.   Meanwhile I am near hysterical and sobbing off and on... while my daughter is doing the same thing.  Hubby came home - took one look at us and packed all three kids back up for a walk to Grammy & Pappy's.  I pumped into a sippy cup, got calmed down and walked over too.  My dear sweet hubby took the sippy cup and patiently oh so patiently got her to drink some milk from that. Not much but at least she had something in her.

It's now 8:30. And during the bedtime routine we have repeats of the crying and refusing to nurse... and sitting on the floor while both of us cry. I finally get so frustrated during one of her screams, I pull my breast out and pop it into her mouth mid scream... and she latches on... I felt such relief but yet knew it wasn't over yet. It had been 16 hours since her last nursing session.... She ate for 12 minutes.  And then still refused the other side.  Hubby put her to sleep at 9:30 while I laid in bed and cried.

Over dramatic maybe but I was a mess.... emotionally I was out of control. I was so worried my nursing days were over.  I never realized how much I enjoyed it and wanted it to continue. I just wasn't ready to be done...

She got up at 6:00 am this morning and nursed off one side for about 10 minutes, refused the other side and went back to sleep.  PRAYING we are on the up swing of things, I seriously do not like my nerves could handle another day like yesterday.

So any advice? tips? encouragement? anyone else ever go through something like that or am I just a basket case? Ha! :)

A Little Getaway

so anyone in the mood for a little getaway? I know I sure am.... I've been running ragged lately.  Kids are not behaving, I'm getting pressure to start school, not been feeling well, etc.... I really just want to run away for a couple days - with my family that is. I think we are in need of some serious just 'us' time... just my little five member family - no one else.  A time to regroup, recharge, and just enjoy each other.

Then I came across this Groupon deal -

Great Wolf Lodge - Sandusky – Sandusky, OH

Two-Night Stay for Six in a Family Suite with Daily Water-Park Passes and Lunch. Combine Up to Four Nights. $249

Oh boy... doesn't that look amazing. And it's completely within driving distance for us.  The thing I love about Groupon is you can filter by locations but because it's all online you can buy the deals no matter where you are. They have expanded so much since I first bought from here. This deal is under the Getaways tab. 

I have heard awesome things about this park - have any of you ever visited it? 

The above links are my referral links... if enough of you purchase through them I get a small credit - maybe if you all like me and buy I'll have enough to go for free!  :) Oh don't I wish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baby K'Tan Review

Well Babywearing mamas and daddies...there is a new kid on the block!  Do you love wrap style carriers for your little ones but hate all the wrapping and dealing with those LOOOOOOOONG pieces of fabric?  The Baby K'Tan carrier may be the perfect solution for you!  The Baby K'Tan carrier is a wrap style carrier, but they have taken the wrapping part out!  Instead it is a sized carrier that fits and feels like a wrap!

"A wrap without all the wrapping..."  (perfect quote from the Baby K'Tan website!)

With Miss A, I used a Moby wrap and loved it, but my husband was "afraid" of it and would only use it if I was there to wrap it onto him.  He always looked at how comfy Miss A and I were and envied it, but he just could not catch on to wrapping the Moby.  I personally had no trouble with wrapping the Moby, but it feels like it takes an eternity to get it on when you have a screaming baby!  Both of these issues are nonexistent with the Baby K'tan!  It truly is Daddy friendly (for most) and it is a snap to get on quickly (without the snaps of course!)!

Because the K'Tan does not need to be wrapped, it is sized (sm, med, lg, xl).  Baby K'Tan has a great sizing chart and guide points here.  According to the size guide, I should be well within the XL size.  However, on the first use I noticed that my K'Tan was just too big.  :(  Baby K'Tan was amazing and sent me a smaller one for review.  They are always available to ask questions about sizing and they are great about returns.  They also recommended to me to wash my K'Tan as it may shrink a little.  Keep this in mind if you are ordering smaller.  They do recommend (and so do I now) that if you are on the bubble between sizes to go with the smaller size!  But know that your carrier will stretch with use and may shrink with washing!

The Baby K'Tan is made of 100% cotton knit fabric that has a nice comfy stretch to it!  It is a VERY comfy fabric for mom and for baby!  Nice and soft to the touch, stretchy for comfort, and not too heavy so you don't overheat!  It is also machine washable and dryable!  A huge plus with baby items!!!

The K'Tan is made up of two large loops of fabric connected by a smaller loop of fabric.  There is also a detached sash that is used as added security for certain carries and doubles as a pouch to store your carrier in.  When you first pull the K'Tan out of the box, it really does look like some crazy puzzle!  I honestly looked at it like "WHAT?!"  I thought that I could take it out of the box and figure it out on my own...HA...I had to go get the instructions!  But one time looking through the directions and I understood completely!  You put the carrier on over your head and arms through the loops, then drop one of the shoulder straps to your waist to put your child into the position of your choice and then bring the strap back up.  It is actually MUCH easier to get baby in and out of this carrier because you can drop that entire strap giving you the room to easily get baby in and out.  After baby is in, depending on the carry you use, you tie the additional sash on for security.  It might take you a time or two to catch on, but once you do, it is a cinch to get on!

One of my favorite features of the K'Tan is the Back Support Band.  The Back Support Band is the smaller loop that connects the two larger loops of the carrier.  The awesome part of this Band is that you simply give it a tug down when you first put the carrier on (and any time you need an adjustment) to raise the carrier and the baby up onto your chest and into the correct position.  With other carriers, as the child settles in and the carrier sags, you have no way to get them back up into proper position unless you take them out and adjust the carrier completely.  With the K'tan you just reach back and pull down on that Band, raising the carrier onto your chest!  Love it!  I would notice my back starting to ache while wearing Baby J in this carrier, but would also notice that he was sitting a little low on me.  So I would simultaneously push up on him and pull down on that Band raising him back up into proper position and taking the strain off my back.  This is something that cannot be done with the Moby.

Another feature that I love about this carrier are the wide stretchy straps.  They are amazingly comfortable and distribute weight extremely well making this carrier extremely comfortable!!!  Also, because of the design of the carrier, it is quite simple to keep the straps fanned completely out over your shoulders, unlike other carriers that are difficult to get complete coverage and keep from twisting.

All in all, this is a fabulous carrier!  It is perfect for that itty bitty newborn stage and it fits up to 35 pounds.  Miss A has gotten out of the habit of being worn, and would not let me try her in it.  Baby J however LOVES the K'Tan.  He gets fussy every evening but putting him in the K'Tan calms him right down and makes our evenings go a lot smoother!  The Baby K'Tan has been a MIRACLE for us!!!

Moby Wraps retail for $45+ and are One-Size fits all but can be difficult and time consuming to wrap.  Baby K'Tan carriers retail for $50+ and are sized to fit the person with less steps to get it on (although you and hubs might be a different size and won't be able to use the same K'Tan).  Price wise, they are quite comparable, it just depends on what carrier fits your lifestyle better!  I do find my Moby just a hair more comfortable, but when Baby J is fussing like crazy and we need to get into a carrier quickly, I grab the K'Tan.  There is just no price tag on time!

What Does Daddy Say?

My Husband also gave the Baby K'Tan a try!  With Miss A, we only had a Moby and an Ergo, so those are the only two carriers that he has used and they are the ones that he speaks of in his review.  He had trouble getting the K'Tan on and he could not find a comfortable carry for him and baby J.  Some carriers just do not work for some people.  He really wanted to like it because he is so afraid of the Moby, but just could not get comfortable in it.  Here is what he had to say.  My additions are in italics. 

I do not frequently use baby carriers on a regular basis, but I have had the opportunity to try several different carriers.  Some carriers seem to be "ready to go" (but are bulky and expensive) and others take you through numerous hurdles and steps just to get it on your body.  This carrier was in between those extremes.  It is very light and compact, but for someone like me (who still has to occasionally go online for instructions on how to tie a tie) it was not easy to get it around my body correctly for the baby at first; despite the colorful pictures and descriptive steps included with the carrier.  Honestly, without my wife to assist me, I likely would have not been able to do it.  However, with practice I think I could do it on my own.  My wife once showed me a carrier that had so many steps to wrap around your body that I laughed and said I would never use it (the Moby)

In regards to comfort, the fabric was soft  and the fit around my body was very comfortable.  With the baby in the carrier it certainly made it easier to do things around the house with the baby but with prolonged use I could feel the center of my back aching from the tension.  In the carrier's defense, I may have not had it on completely correctly, but I also think that it does not offer as much support as some of the bulky carriers that have the weight of the baby distributed on the waist.  (he tried a few times and just could not get comfy)

My overall impressions were that for a lightweight fabric carrier that you can put in a travel bag this is a great alternative to many on the market; however, if I was planning a hike up a mountain or a full day at an amusement park I would rather go with one of those expensive, bulky, noncompact, but idiot proof to use carriers that provide the weight around the waist like a good hiking pack does. (Ergo)  If you can afford it, I would probably suggest getting both depending on planned use.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ergo Organic Diaper Backpack Review and Giveaway

 I had the pleasure of reviewing this awesome Ergo product.  It, like my experience with the Ergo carrier, is one high quality product.  There is just such great workmanship.  This isn't just a backpack, it's so sturdy and I can tell it will last for years and years!  They have really thought of everything mama's would want/need and have made it in this backpack.  Not only can you easily attach it to your Ergo carriers shoulder straps, so you can carry all the extra things babies need while carrying baby, you can also wear it just as a backpack.  However you choose to use it, the straps can be hidden in a pocket and the parts to attach it to the carrier can be hidden as well when wearing it as a back pack.  I am 21 weeks pregnant and my daughter just turned 3 so we are not actively baby wearing at this moment, so I chose to use this as a back pack.  I can imagine from my experience with 2 babies, that this will come in very handy with baby #3!  I always loved carrying my babies in a carrier, but always had the problem if going for any amount of time needing a stroller to carry the diaper bag, and necessities babies require. Especially when going to a place we'd be walking around for a few hours or more.  This will work perfectly to store all babies needs, my children's water bottles, and it even has a super soft changing pad!  I am sure this will get a ton of use on the Ergo once baby is here and we are an active family with 3 children.  

I recently went on a long camping trip and it was our family's summer vacation.  We went to Presque Isle State Park, in Erie, Pennsylvania.  While we were there, we went to the beach 3 different days.  We went fishing, went on a 7 mile bike ride on a surrey, and all the while the Ergo Organic Diaper Backpack went with us. :)  I love that it has two built in pockets that are insulated for drinks.  They are the two pockets that zipper on both sides of the front pocket.  We used these for my two children's sports water bottles.  They fit in perfectly!  Then because DH and I needed drinks I just placed a couple water bottles in the very front storage pocket. Worked perfectly and I could actually fit 3 bottles in it!  Then the main area I placed snacks, granola bars, gummies, crunchy snack foods, etc.  This went with us everywhere because we were constantly on the go, and you know how hungry children get!  I also wanted to have my camera and video camera with me, so I used the pocket with the changing pad to place those items.  I think my kids threw in their sunglasses in that pocket as well. There enough pockets to organize your stuff without being so many pockets you have to dig around for an hour trying to find which pocket something is in.  It was the perfect size with some room to spare for all of our stuff.  I confess I've not used a backpack since high school, always used a regular bag, purse or something to carry around our stuff.  I didn't know what I was missing!  It's so much more comfortable to carry this around on my back than to have a heavy bag hanging off one shoulder! And adding another child to our family, I can see how much nicer it will be to have my hands free with this bag!  I can't recommend this enough, because it is so versatile. Not only will it be wonderful for all of babies necessities, but was great for my family with a 3 and 5 year old.  This backpack will last through the years and be used for all kinds of outings! 

I chose the organic chocolate color, and was so pleased with it.  It will be nice to have something my DH can carry around that he's not afraid of, like flowery print diaper bags! ;)  The nice thing is they have all the colors needed to match the Ergo carrier you own.  I chose the chocolate because I thought it would look nice with my pink Ergo you saw in my Ergo review post, and it does!  We are all more environmental and health conscious and with this product you can rest easy!  It is 100% Organic Cotton. Certified Organic by Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) Certification; Compliance with Organic Fiber Processing Standards, Certified Organic dyes (Oeko-Tex Standard), Fabric mill and Organic fabric and Organic dyes are Oeko-Tex certified. 

While on the surrey, I actually used the velcro straps meant to attach to the Ergo carrier, to attach to the metal rungs on the surrey.  You can see that the Ergo Organic Diaper Backpack is sitting pretty next to Miss A.  I was afraid we might bounce it out, and attaching it with the velcro worked perfectly!  Who would have known there would be so many uses for the straps meant to go around the Ergo carrier!  This is such a versatile bag and I am so thankful that I got to review and share with you all about it!  Thank you!!  You can pick up your own Ergo Organic Diaper Backpack here.  Or enter below for The Mommy Goods giveaway for a Black Ergo Organic Diaper Backpack!!!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A New Schedule

Well last week I wrote about a new era in our house....

This week it's all about a new schedule around here.  Usually my morning went like this:

Me - sleep until the last possible minute before one of my children wakes up - normally my 2yr old son woke first. I would let him pick a movie and make him some breakfast while I sat up with my cup of hot tea and try to wake up.  Approximately 2 hours later my 4 yr daughter would wake up and I would start breakfast all over again.  At some point my baby would wake up and need to nurse.  It would be 10:00 and we would all still be in our pajamas and just starting the day.  Obviously not the best scenario since lunch would be at 12 and my son would be ready to eat and go down for a nap and my daughter wasn't even hungry.... Just wasn't a good thing going for sure......... as a note - this *routine* started when we were building on to our house and my mornings were crazy with getting everything figured out and organized for the day for the workers.

So last week after buying our homeschool curriculum we (aka - my husband) that it was time for a new routine around here.  He wanted to start running again and having his Bible study time before the kids got up but he also wanted to wake them up before he left for work in the morning (about 7am). whew... really?

This is now day 4 and we've had some bumps along the way.  Monday was hard. Very hard.  My daughter did not like being woke up that early and while my son normally is an early riser that is on his own... he does not like being woke up before he's ready.  So we have had some rough moments. But Tuesday all three of my kids took 3 hour naps.... that was awesome!

Each week we'll had something new - this one was getting up early.  Next week will be more of a morning routine/schedule implementation.  I also want to start freezer cooking and meal planning again. 

Anyone have any tips on implementing schedules/routines for young children?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pregnancy Cravings

So I have rolled around to the twentieth week of my pregnancy.  Yay for halfway!  I had terrible morning sickness and it just finally got better the last couple weeks.  Wow, amazing how you forget how bad it is til you are doing it all over again.  But these babies are worth it!  So now that I am feeling better the cravings have kicked in a lot more.  Lately a peanut butter and banana sandwich has become my breakfast and go to snack!  Who would have thought.  Then zucchini is in season and I am just LOVING fried zucchini. Yummy!  I can't get enough peaches, cherries, really any fresh fruit.  I am not loving beef, hamburgers, anything really heavy.  I love anything fresh.  And the last thing is a new one, since I couldn't stand looking or even smelling pickles with my first two pregnancies, I'm very surprised to find that dill pickles are one of them!  We just made a batch of refrigerator pickles that I'm really excited about, too! ;)   So what are your cravings, or were your cravings?  Leave a comment and lets see what all the crazy foods babies make us eat! LOL

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Era

We've just entered a new era in our house... yesterday we bought our first complete homeschool curriculum! I've been terrified (who am I kidding - I still am!) but feel so much better now that I have the curriculum ordered and a date to start in mind (Sept 10th).

This is going to be interesting and a test of my patience, perseverance, and .... well everything.

We decided on the 'Abeka' program for the first year.  It's a very complete program and gives me instruction for each day.  I was so nervous and really needed something that was going to tell me exactly what to do until I become more comfortable and confident with myself as a teacher

Do we have any other homeschooling families out there? Any of you readers/followers homeschooling mommies?  I'd love to know so that I don't continue writing about this aspect of my life is there is no one interested in it. :)

This was never something I imagined myself doing. And when my husband brought it up I almost laughed in his face - actually I think I did. I told him I would continue working and he could quit his job and teach. ha 

But after much prayer and consideration we both felt very strongly that this is something we needed to do. So let it begin....

If you're interested in more of the why we are doing it - read this post hereIt says it exactly!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

GroVia Organic Newborn Diaper Review

First up in the Newborn Cloth Diapering Series is the GroVia Organic Newborn All in One Diaper.  I am starting with this diaper because I found it to be the best (and first) diaper to fit my skinny little boy.  If you would like to read more about my initial findings with cloth diapering a skinny baby and our rocky start to cloth diapering Baby J, please see the Intro post here.

What is the difference between the Organic and the Stay Dry?  In the past few months, GroVia has come out with a Stay Dry version of their Newborn AIO diapers.  They are JUST rolling out into stores and I have  not tried this version.  The Organic diaper has an Organic cotton inner and the Stay Dry has layers of hemp and cotton topped with microfleece, but everything else is the same!

Price Per Diaper: (4/5 Stars)  Each GroVia Newborn diaper retails for $14.95.  Other newborn AIO and pocket diapers retail for $12-20 per diaper, so this is an average price for a newborn diaper.  Of course if you go to prefolds and covers, you can save some $$ to cloth diaper your newborn, but not everyone likes prefolds and covers! (me!)  AIO's are generally the more expensive type of diaper, so I think this is a great price for what you get!

Leaks:  (5/5 Stars)  As I said in my Intro post, this was the only diaper that fit Baby J leak free when he lost a little bit of weight.  We have had NO leaks with this diaper!!!  Occasionally when he pees a ton, his outfit might be a little moist around the waist.  But no huge leaking from the waist or around the legs!  The organic cotton inner is extremely absorbent and holds a TON of pee!!!  And the wonderful elastic leg casings are PERFECT at containing EBF poop!!!  No blowouts here!!  This diaper features a sewn in soaker that is only secure at the back of the diaper and loose in the front.  When babies are really tiny, you can fold it over to fit in the diaper and it is loose in the wash to get clean and dry faster!

Fit:  (4/5 Stars)  I really like the fit of this diaper, especially around the legs on my skinny boy.  This diaper fit the best around his skinny legs and for that I give it a huge A+!!! When Baby J dropped in weight to around 7 pounds, this was the ONLY diaper that fit his skinny legs and body!!  I also loved that the rise on this diaper is lower (being a newborn dipe) but it is low enough that it fit well under Baby J's cord stump before it fell off.  My only SMALL complaint is the waist snaps.  The snaps themselves are quite large and because they are so large (and fairly far apart), there aren't many of them which means not many size options.  This means that there are times when one snap is too small and one snap is too big.  I did find that because newborns are on their backs so much (or upright being worn) a small gap at the waist wasn't a huge problem.  It's when kids are bigger and on their bellies more that waist leaks are more likely.

Ease of Use:  (4/5 Stars)  This diaper is an AIO, so there are no removable parts which is wonderful!  Less to worry about when also worrying about a newborn is great!!!  This diaper has an organic cotton inner insert that is sewn in the back but just sits in the diaper.  This makes it an AIO but also makes it easier to wash and dry!!  I found that this insert tended to be problematic at times.  When Baby J was teeny tiny, the insert would poke out the top, so I had to fold it over to fit in the diaper and not leak.  Being that he was a boy, the added protection in that area was probably a bonus!  But I still found it annoying at times and my husband refused to use this diaper because it looked "too complicated."  Now as he has grown, this isn't a problem but now after a ton of washes, I am finding that this insert wants to curl and can be a bit of a pain to flatten and get the diaper on Baby J.  When I hang to dry, this isn't a problem, but if I put this diaper in the dryer it curls.  None of this is really that big of a deal, especially with the great fit and absorbency, but wanted to mention because this does add a little extra time to getting diaper on baby!

Washing:  (3/5 Stars)  Being an AIO diaper, it is a cinch to wash this!  Just toss it in the washer, in the dryer, and presto, it is ready to go again!  As I mentioned above, when dried in the dryer, the inner tends to curl.  But line drying seems to cure this!  However, the organic cotton inner (in true organic cotton nature) is extremely prone to staining...especially EBF poop stains!  Does this affect the function of the diaper?  No.  But it's hard to explain when out in public that you are not putting a dirty diaper on your baby, it is just stained. :(  The good cotton stains sun out beautifully!!!

Overall Performance:  (5/5 Stars)  Overall, I love this diaper!  It fits skinny babies wonderfully if you are like me and bake skinny ones!  Skinny babies are HARD to cloth diaper, so this is a HUGE testament to this diaper and an even bigger endorsement!  They are quite absorbent, fit great, and will definitely get you from that newborn phase until your little one fits the OS diapers (or whatever your bigger diaper choice is!).  There are a few cons, but they are more just warnings...such as the insert being a little bit of a pain.  But in the grand scheme of what you get with this diaper, that is a small battle to overcome!  There really are no draw backs to this diaper, just a learning curve!!

Total Stars:  25/30

Baby J is now about 10 1/2 pounds and the GroVia Newborn still fits well, but it won't for much longer!

PS.  For some reason, my html stars are not working... :(  Hence the score out of 5 instead.  I hope to have this fixed soon!!!  It looks so much nicer with the stars...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ergo Review and Giveaway!

Ergo is one of the most popular Soft Structured Carriers.   I love that they have so many options of colors, prints, organic, sport, etc.  Now even an options Ergo that comes with 3 different design covers to snap on to change the look of your carrier!  How awesome is that! There is something to fit everyone’s style and needs.  For myself, I had a baby girl, and the pink Ergo had just caught my eye.  I bought it with money I had gotten from selling off my newborn stash of cloth diapers.  I have an Ergo that I bought used with my son and it was still in great shape, but I wanted something girly.  I mean after all I just had a baby girl, why not!  I kept my other Ergo and it’s now designated as our Daddy carrier.  It’s been great for use to have it for him to use, especially on hikes.  

I love how padded and supportive Ergo’s straps are!  This carrier is so wonderful for a heavier baby and toddlers.  It is a carrier you can wear for a long time and literally forget that baby is even back there.  The weight is so evenly distributed!  That’s what’s so wonderful about this carrier.  If you buy the infant insert, it literally goes from birth to toddler!  This carrier is one that can be worn longer than most, keeping you comfy for very long periods of time.

The quality of this carrier is wonderful.  Such wonderful material.  My particular pattern is just gorgeous, and I imagine their new Petunia Picklebottom designs are just as pretty in person!  The stitching, everything is just so perfect.  And it has really sturdy buckles, which are very important.  Everything about this carrier is high quality. 

The ease of putting the Ergo on is one of it’s major selling points, compared to wrapping or tying.  The only thing is it can take some practice getting the back clipped when baby is on your front.  There are many video tutorials online that can help you find out some hints on how to more easily do this.

If you are a plus sized mama like myself you may need to buy the extender.  I personally need the extender.  Bummed that I have to buy something extra to make it fit, but glad that I have the option to get the extender.

I have showed many of my mama friends my collection of carriers and many of them have chosen to purchase their own Ergo's.  And lucky for us Ergo is being so generous to let us do this giveaway!  Ergo's theme for this month is "Hugs Everywhere".  And who doesn't want to be holding/hugging their baby everywhere.  The Ergo makes this not only possible, but so easy! Babywearing is such a wonderful tool for mothers! Enter today's giveway to help you be able to Hug your Little One Everywhere!!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012


First off - sorry about the missing post last week - this post will describe where I was last week. And before I get started I want to say I am not making light of anyone's allergies or the severity of them.... these are just my observations lately.

Some of you may have read my story about my son's allergic reaction to Nutella (hazelnuts!) awhile ago.  My husband and I took him to Children's in Pittsburgh last week for testing.  The results were - peanuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.... but we are to stay away from all nuts for a full year.  Next year we will go to have blood work done to see if he's one of the 20% who will grow out of it or one of the 80% who will have the allergy for life.

Is it just me or are there a lot more allergies then before?  It seems everywhere you turn people have a gluten allergy, a milk allergy, a protein allergy (seriously!)..... why are there so many allergies all of a sudden - or are we just hearing more about them? Is it because of the garbage we eat on a daily basis? Is it because of all the additives and fillers in foods.... is it because we have gotten away from natural and healthy foods?  I really don't know.

Interesting enough I asked about our older and younger daughters - if they needed tested. And because our oldest already eats peanut butter she does not need testing, but they will test our youngest.  The doctor mentioned that avoidance from foods is what causes allergies so I asked if I should eat more nut products since I was still nursing her and her response 'I don't know'.  hmmm  Originally she said they thought pregnant/nursing women should avoid all nuts and then their children would not have the allergies but they found that's not true so I should not stop eating them.  But for me to eat more - her words were "I can't tell you yes or no but I can tell you 'It won't hurt'...... hmmm.

So while modern medicine is a wonderful thing and some amazing advances have been discovered I also think there are some things (maybe lack of nut products in formula) that may have something to do with this epidemic of allergies out there.....


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The UnPlug Challenge

This week's post was to begin the newborn diapering series...but I have gone a different way.  The series will start next week!

Lately I have found myself very stressed, anxious, and just on edge.  A newborn, a three year old, a husband who is never home, and trying to get our house back on the market for sale, just had me an anxious WRECK.  I was blowing up at everyone and just bawling for no reason at the drop of a hat.  I had to sit down and take a long hard look at my life, prioritize, and pull myself together.

I realized that Facebook, E-Mail, and the internet occupy FAR too much of my time.  I found myself saying "just let me finish typing this" or "just let me post this" and I was missing time with my kids and husband.  Updating my Facebook status is NOT more important than time with my family...but I needed to remind myself of this!  As a stay at home mom, the internet is my connection with the over-the-age-of-three world but I found myself staring at my phone or my laptop and allowing Miss A to entertain herself.  I was completely missing her childhood!

So I decided that this week was "UnPlug Week!"  I need to stay away from my phone and computer and stay off of Facebook.  It wouldn't be hard at all...but my BFF and I chat on Facebook throughout the day and not being on Facebook means not chatting with her.  Now THAT is hard!!!  But at the same time, she is in the same boat and completely understands my "absence" from Facebook.  She knows I still love her! ;)

So I made a pact, which I have kept for the most part, that I would only be on the internet when both kids were sleeping.  This doesn't happen much, so I have slipped for a second here and at 11am SHARP to check BabySteals and KidSteals! LOL!  But I have definitely cut my internet time down!  I have been playing with Miss A and trying to work more on teaching her shapes, colors, etc.  I just feel more relaxed and I feel like a better mom.  It's funny how something as silly as the internet can just consume you and you forget what really matters in life!

The biggest improvement has just been my stress level.  I feel like I can handle whatever comes my way, and I am not constantly rushed.  I only have two concerns...Miss A and Baby J.  If I can just focus on the two of them (and feeding myself too!) and not worrying about other things...I can make it through every day (mostly) stress free!  It has been working quite well!

So I challenge you to Unplug for a day.  Make your own rules for how much phone/computer time you can have and/or when you can have it.  Give it a try!  You will be amazed at how much time you discover that you forgot you had!  And you will be surprised at how much time with your kids you have missed!

So take the challenge, and come back and tell me how it went!!!  Happy UnPlug Week!

PS. This post was written Sunday night after the kids were in bed to properly start UnPlug Week! :)