Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Family's Breakfast

In the spirit of incorporating meat back into my diet, I want to share today's breakfast!

Whole Wheat Biscuit with Cage-Free Eggs, Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese, and Sage Pork Sausage

Here's the recipe for the Whole Wheat Biscuits - just omit the sugar. The Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar is from Organic Valley. The sausage was from the meat case at Whole Foods. The eggs are cage-free Eggland's Best. Definitely better than a McD's sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit!

And, yes, I accidentally broke my yolk right at the end...

So I'm a Recovering Vegetarian

My friend Ryan (who is quite the carnivore) has given me this title: Recovering Vegetarian. Let me explain what this means to me. November 2006, I visited Gainesville, my old college town. Gainesville is pretty progressive when it comes to a variety of dietary options. The town caters to the "I'm trying to do my own thing" college student who decides to be vegan or vegetarian. Lots of local, independently-owned restaurants, grocers, and fast food joints. Being in North Florida, it's also a great place to visit local farms, farmer's markets, and the like.

I've always been somewhat of a foodie. I have fond memories of watching The Frugal Gourmet on PBS when I stayed home sick from elementary school. I remember how he taught his viewers to curl their fingers under when chopping and how cool his garlic press looked. When I was in middle school, I used to love going over my best friend Alicia's house, looking through her mom's old Betty Crocker cookbooks, shopping for the ingredients for our chosen recipe, and cooking together. Our favorite was beef stroganoff. I used to watch World Class Cuisine on Discovery Channel in the early 90s until my cable company got Food Network. I love all things food - cooking, baking, eating, shopping, watching others cook.

So November 2006, while driving to the pohdunk town of Waldo, FL, Richard and I stopped at a Hardee's. If your not familiar with Hardee's, it's a very low-end, horrible-quality fast food joint. Think Krystal Burger if that is more familiar to you. I ordered the sausage biscuit...and the meat was the texture of canned dog food. It was inedible. I can't even tell you what animal I was consuming. I threw it in the garbage and thought "I don't want an animal to die to create something that is so unappetizing." I decided to try going a few weeks without eating meat... and this was the start of over 4 years as a pescatarian. I strive to eat only wild fish (as often as possible). My thought is that when it is wild, it has a chance to be free. It is not just bred (under poor conditions) to die.

Cooking for my daughter made me think about what kind of diet I want for my family. My husband is a definite omnivore. Basically, he eats everything. I knew that I wanted Lydia to eat real food. At 6 months, I made purees for her. By 8 months, she was eating cut-up grown-up food. At my sister's birthday party (when Lydia was just about 8 months) she ate a big bowl of chopped up rigatoni with peas. I am fortunate to have a child with a diverse palate at a young age...who just likes to eat a lot. Ironically, she's in the 5th percentile now for weight (started out at the 90th percentile when born). I just wonder if it is because I feed her so much healthy food...and she's being compared to kids who eat McD's and hot dogs all the time. Who knows?

Back to my family's diet...I recently realized how important it is for my family to eat meat. I started to learn more and really think about how I felt about my diet. I went to a great lecture last spring about the Weston A Price Foundation. The ideas are a bit extremist for me, but the basic principles are logical -- the healthiest diet is a traditional diet: fresh fruits/veggies, whole grains, animal products, raw dairy, nuts, beans, healthy oils (like olive oil and coconut oil), etc. Basically, remove processed foods from your diet. I definitely can see how that makes logical sense, but it's not realistic to avoid all modern conveniences. From a Darwinian perspective, our teeth are omnivore teeth and our species has survived because we do eat animal products. When you think about limiting your diet to mostly grains, fruits, and veggies, you must also think about all of the land that is taken away from animals to plant all of these things. I try to buy organic, but when you buy conventional (which I often have to do due to budgetary restrictions), you must also consider all of the animals that die due to pesticides. Being a vegetarian does NOT stop you from killing animals. We aren't scavengers picking random berries from a forest.

But the big question is... Was I ready to incorporate meat back into my diet, and if so, how? Most importantly, I needed to do so responsibly. I think meat should be eaten in small quantities. The conditions under which the animals are bred and raised should be close to those created by nature - animals should be free to roam their environment. They should not be overfed or given hormones to make them larger and meatier. They should not be given antibiotics because there are too many confined to a small space and they are all getting sick. And as my husband just added...they should not be butchered production-line style like they are cars.

Last Spring, we visited Crones Cradle Conserve in Citra, FL. It's a small farm in the middle of a forested area. They work with other nearby farms by growing different products on each farm and sharing with one another. One of the employees there was a woman about my age. She talked about how she raised a few pigs at a time, treated them well, fed them well, and when it was time, shot them with a rifle between the eyes and they died instantly. She said her son is getting older now (maybe 4 or 5 years old), and it was hard for him to really understand why he had to lose his pet...but that child will learn to respect and appreciate what he eats so much more than children who think meat comes from a drive-thru window.

While we can't all keep pigs and chickens in our yard (although I would love to one day if possible!), I want my family to remember that we are so lucky that animals give up their lives for us to be healthy. I have actually started to say "thank you" to the animal that is a part of my dinner ("thank you, pig, for allowing us to enjoy this bacon" kinda thing) so that am I reminded not to take this for granted.

Although we are the most intelligent and evolved mammals (take one lap around Walmart and this would be questionable), we cannot separate ourselves from the food chain. We just need to make wise, responsible choices using the logic we are fortunate enough to have.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A month or two ago, I completed an application at the local Whole Foods to be a Whole Foods Ambassador. I found out last week that I was chosen. The Ambassador Club is basically about 10 people who are selected to provide the managers with feedback regarding products, customer services, improvements/renovations, and any other recommendations.

When I arrived to Whole Foods Plantation, I was directed to a small store next door that is the Whole Foods Bakehouse. I had to walk up a flight of stairs to a conference room. Each participant received a reusable shopping bag, some snacks, and a $25 gift card. Cookies and fruit were on the table.

We began by doing introductions. Each person had a reason for being there... one woman had a daughter with autism, so she followed a gluten-free, casein-free diet. One woman's husband was on a sugar-free diet. One woman was vegan. There were two men who frequently shopped at Whole Foods. Here's the surprising part -- when I looked around at the 9 participants, myself included, 6 were obese (some morbidly obese). They was also minimal ethnic diversity. Now, obviously, our weight and our ethnicity were not asked about on our applications... but it definitely did not seem to be an accurate cross-section of Whole Foods customers.

Obesity really is a serious issue in this country. I think I may have written about it before, but my generation is supposed to be the first generation with a shorter life span than our parents' generation...and that is due to obesity. One woman stated that it is very important that her children eat healthy food, to the extent that she does not allow her kids to eat food with any dyes because of the hazards, but she herself does not eat that way. The "do as I say, not as I do" attitude about food just doesn't work for me. Clearly, if your child has food restrictions based on allergies or textural issues, then your child may need to eat something different than you. But how do you expect your children to be healthy eaters if you are not modeling that behavior yourself. I don't always eat healthy -- but I make a genuine effort to eat well. I eat a somewhat diverse diet. I like foods from all different cultures, I prepare hot meals, cold meals, simple dishes, complex. I introduce Lydia to everything that I prepare (sometimes I make hers less spicy, but it's the same basic flavors). So when I saw that these individuals represent a small group in terms of personal choices and ethnicity, their opinions became slightly less valuable to me.

So what did we talk about? I offered up several ideas:
1. When I go to the milk section at Whole Foods, I get very overwhelmed. I know that dr's tend to recommend almond milk nowadays and different yogurt drinks, but then there is also pasteurized milk, ultra-pasteurized milk, milk from cows that are grass fed, goat's milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. I suggested some information outlining the different types of milk, similar to what they do in the cheese section.

2. Speaking about the cheese section, I suggested they check all their cheeses daily, as I have found cheese that is moldy and handed it over to the person working in that section. I also suggested that they redesign the cheese section as it is somewhat scattered/disorganized.

3. I thought the signage was good, especially as it relates to upcoming events.

4. I suggested they start carrying at least one or two brands of cloth diapers. They are pretty limited in their diaper options. I am not impressed by Seventh Generation and Earth's Best.

5. Often times I want to purchase prepared foods. There is always an ingredient list posted by the prepared foods, and at the bottom of the list, it says "This item contains the following" and it lists potential allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, wheat), but it does not state whether or not it contains meat. Products such as stocks, bases, and broths are in a lot of rice dishes, soups, etc. so it would be easier if it was listed at the bottom so I don't have to read 20+ ingredients to figure that out.

6. Sometimes I want to purchase a small quantity of their baked goods, but often you have to purchase a large package (one dozen brownies, 20 cookies). I suggested they sell smaller packages, 2 brownies, 4 cookies.

Other people offered all different types of suggestions. Some were a bit out there for me, but some were valuable. It's nice to know that even chain grocery stores value their customers' opinions. I think this is a great program, and I hope they really consider our suggestions to make some improvements. It's just too bad that I feel like the sample of participants is somewhat limited. The next meeting is December 8th. I look forward to contributing more ideas and discussing issues that directly impact the variety and quality of food available to my family.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fun at the Pumpkin Patch

Last October, Lydia was just a month old. I was so excited to take her to different Halloween events, but but obviously it was a lot more for me than for her. This year, however, she loved visiting the pumpkin patch at Bedner's Farm Fresh Market. Check out two of our cutest pictures. Did I mention that I recently purchased Photoshop?? :-)

Next weekend, we are going to a fall festival and maybe the Flamingo Road Nursery. Lots of fun fall/Halloween activities to come!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yellow Green Farmer's Market

Living in South Florida, I am often disappointed by our lack of alternative shopping options. When you visit more metropolitan areas, there are produce stores and delis, real bakeries with fresh breads and specialty cheese stores. Most people here shop at Publix. Our only real options are still corporate - Whole Foods and Fresh Market.  But then I heard about the Yellow Green Farmer's Market. I figured it would be two small stands with a few heads of lettuce and some homemade granola. Was I wrong!! 

Yellow Farmer's Market in Hollywood, FL is the closest thing I have seen to the famous farmer's market in Seattle (I visited that 2 years ago and it was pretty amazing). Some of the items we purchased included good olive oil from Spain, whole grain ciabatta bread, Amish jalapeno cheese, burrata cheese, raw wildflower honey, garlic and chive pasta, and a whole snapper.  I used the burrata cheese and ciabatta bread to make an awesome panzanella salad. Delicious! So many of the food vendors had samples, so you can try all of their products before purchasing. There were also eco-friendly vendors like Dirty Peaches Clothing Co., boutique items for babies, fresh produce, landscapers, smoothies, spices/teas, and so much more! Oh, and live music, too.

We probably walked around for about two hours, looking, tasting, and learning. If you live in South Florida, I highly recommend visiting the Yellow Green Farmers Market. They are open Saturdays, Sundays, and Thursday evenings.

Flings Bins Review

As my readers should already know, I am co-director of Abi's Place, a nonprofit organization in South Florida for children with severe disabilities. September 25th, we hosted a Go Green Event, uniting eco-friendly vendors and nonprofits in a family-friendly, fun-filled day. It was a great event at a big county park, with so many generous donations from businesses and members of the community.

One of the best donations we received was from Flings. They sent us two cases of Flings Recycle bins. I had never used their products before, but after seeing a review on another blog, I decided to contact them. I was so excited to show off this product at our event. So many people asked where I got them because they were so cool! Basically, it's a sturdy printed plastic bag with cardboard structures to make them stand. Vendors/customers placed recyclables inside the bins which were located throughout the event pavilion. At the end of the event, we were able to condense them all and place them in a larger bin for recycling - because the entire bin is recyclable. These would be great for picnics, birthday parties, indoor events, etc. Convenient and earth-friendly!

At the end of the day, we raised over $1600 for children with disabilities. We hope to make this an annual event. Thank you, Flings, for helping to make this event a great one!

Three out of three babies agree - this was a great event!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Auctions to Benefit Abi's Place

Brooklyn's Bowtique on Facebook is hosting an awesome auction to benefit the children of Abi's Place. Up for grabs are some really great items donated by mommy businesses: hair bows, leg warmers, hats, flowers, headbands, tag blankets, an awesome monkey toy, and so much more! Please check out these auctions and place some bids. Children with disabilities will receive generous donations, smaller businesses will be supported, and most of all - You'll get some GREAT new items for your little one!! WIN-WIN-WIN.

Just "like" Brooklyn's Bowtique and check out the photo album entitled "Abi's Place Auctions." Look at the minimum bid -- and start placing your bids!

If you want to learn more about Abi's Place, visit our newly-renovated website.

Thanks so much for your support!

Nifty Knees Review and Giveaway ends 10/15

Nifty Knees contacted me to do a review and giveaway, and I quickly responded! With Fall approaching, I love to find cute new fashions for my little one to stay warm (we have a few cool days in Florida). We were sent one pair of leg warmers in bright pink and a cute floral print drool bandana. The leg warmers look great with a onesie for younger babies or with a cute dress or shorts for toddlers. The drool bandana would be perfect for a baby who is beginning to eat solids.

Nifty Knees has some great leg warmers in seasonal colors/patterns on sale for just $6. These would be awesome as part of a Halloween costume! They also carry mini leg warmers for newborns and infants, drool bandanas, custom tees, and fleece hats.

Lydia is beginning to take her first steps - Nifty Knees leg warmers are a great way to keep your baby's legs a little bit safer while he/she is learning to crawl or walk.

Funny story - The day our Nifty Knees leg warmers arrived in the mail I attended an 80s theme bachelorette party. Even mommies can wear these leg warmers as 80s accessories on their wrists or ankles!!

BUY IT! Visit Nifty Knees and use the promotional code hmreview to receive a  15% discount off your purchase. Offer is valid until December 1, 2010.

WIN IT! Win a $25 gift certificate to use online for any Nifty Knees items, including leg warmers, drool bandanas, custom tees, or fleece hats.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Nifty Knees and tell me what items you'd love to have for your little one!

For additional entries, you can do any of the following (one entry each):
1. Become a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect.
2. Like Nifty Knees on Facebook.
3. Follow Nifty Knees on Twitter.
4. Like Abi's Place (the non-profit organization where I work) on Facebook.
5. Follow my sister blog Moms on a Mission.

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to contact you. This giveaway ends on 10/15 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

*I received this product for free, and I was not compensated for writing this review.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Okay, so my baby is a year...

Lydia celebrated her first birthday on 9.2.10. Wow! A full year! It's definitely one of those things where I feel like she has been a part of my life for so long, and yet it flew by so quickly. But why is one year so special? I feel like there are so many expectations attached to "one year."

Breastfeeding...Full-term breastfeeding is one year. That is the recommendation. When I first began breastfeeding, I told myself I would do it for 6 weeks. When I hit 6 weeks, I said I'd try for 6 months. When I hit 6 months, I challenged myself to do it for a year. I used to think anyone who made it to a year was kinda crazy... but the REALLY crazy people breastfeed for more than a year. Why would they do that? Well, I am learning something pretty simple. Babies like boobs - and more so than that, babies don't know they're one-year old. They haven't read the books that say they only 'have to' breastfeed for a year. They don't see an expiration date or a deadline. They love boobs, they love mommy, mommy's boobs are comforting and bring love and affection. That's what babies know. Weaning is a process. Lydia can easily go 8 to 10 hours without breastfeeding if I am at work. But when she sees me, it's a whole other thing. She associates me with this comforting feeling and she wants to experience that frequently. I started to get bothered by it recently...and then I stopped and thought. She's just one. So when will I wean her? Who knows!

Sleeping... I was always told that babies should be sleeping through the night by a year. Well, not my baby! In fact, she was a much better sleeper at one month than she is at one year. She starts every night off in her crib. Her night starts between 9 and 10 pm. She will not go to bed before that recently. She's just not tired. She stays in her crib maybe 3 hours, wakes him crying and standing in her crib, comes out, and spends the rest of the night in our bed. Throughout the remainder of the night, she wakes up every 1 - 2 hours, and I just allow her to nurse. Babies are not 'bad' because they don't sleep through the night. I'm not a great sleeper, she's not a great sleeper. This is just who she is. THIS she has down! She loves food, and eats almost everything. Her new favorites seem to be olives and blueberry waffles (not together, of course). I love that she's so easy to feed. Since about 8 or 9 months old, she's eaten basically whatever we eat. Cooking for her is so much fun! I look forward to cooking with her one day. I hope she enjoys it like I do.

Walking & Talking...I feel like 'one year' has all of these cognitive and motor milestones attached to it. Babies should be walking at around a year. Babies should have lots of single words at a year. Babies should be able to put in and take out at a year. Lydia can do most of these things. I think her receptive language is actually a bit advanced. I think her fine motor skills are actually really good. Over the past few days, she has started to stand independently for a few seconds at a time, she cruises long distances, and she can walk with a walking toy (as long as she is provided with some resistance - the tile is too slippery). As for talking - she can greet people, she points and says "that" to make requests, she said "cat" at a young age (like 9 or 10 months), duck, book, her language is coming along. She understands some simple one-step directions, like "give me" and "put in."

So when will Lydia wean? When will she walk? Will she always be a good eater? When will she sleep through the night? Who knows! I have a question though - when will she get some more hair?? :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

$50 Best Buy Gift Card Giveaway! ends 9/1

This is my simplest giveaway yet! Abi's Place, the nonprofit organization where I work, is collecting votes to win $500,000 from Kohl's Cares on Facebook. This money would help our organization buy a new, fully-equipped school for our children with severe disabilities. Most of our children are diagnosed with rare genetic disorders, but we also accept children with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and low-functioning autism.

Click here if you are interested in learning more about Abi's Place. You can also watch our amazing YouTube Video.

Please help to support a great cause, and enter to win a $50 Best Buy Gift Card.

To Enter, click HERE and follow the directions to vote through Facebook.

After voting, leave a comment below saying I VOTED with your email address.

The contest ends September 1st at Midnight EST. The winner will be chosen at random and notified immediately. Thank you!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

$25 CSN Stores Gift Certificate Giveaway - Ends 8/8

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am hosting a CSN Stores $25 gift certificate giveaway. What is CSN Stores? It is one website that unites 200+ online retailers selling a broad range of products, including home decor, baby/children items, tools, pet supplies, office supplies, and so much more. The website is very easy to navigate. The website's search engine allows you to search by keyword or brand. All of the stores offer very competitive prices, often much lower than retail price.

I decided to put my $25 gift certificate toward a new car seat for Lydia. Everyone I know recommended Britax, so I searched all of the car seats and found several Britax car seats. As I had expected, the price was at least 20% lower than the leading baby department stores. The car seat I found was under $200 and was gender neutral, which was important to me. The site also offered free shipping, which was awesome.

One thing I would recommend - I searched the site several days in a row to really figure out what I wanted. Unfortunately, I initially picked out one car seat, but when I looked the next day to purchase it, it was already sold out. However, the car seat I picked out was just as nice and less expensive - Bonus! So, when shopping on CSN Stores, if you really like something, purchase it that day. If you are uncertain, search for a few days, as merchandise is constantly being updated.

Here's Lydia sleeping in her new Britax car seat. What's so great about this car seat? She'll be able to use it until she is ready for a booster seat. It is rear-facing for now, but converts to a forward-facing seat when she is ready. Definitely an eco-friendly choice for my family!

WIN IT! You can win a $25 gift certificate to CSN Stores, to be used at any of their 200+ retailers.

Mandatory entry: Visit CSN Stores and tell me what you think you'd put your $25 toward.

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. Follow CSN Stores on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
4. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
5. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
6. Vote for Zimmerman School House dba Abi's Place to win $500,000 in the KOHL'S Cares campaign by clicking the link to the right (just above the Facebook Badge). You get 5 votes.
7. Follow my new sister blog Moms on a Mission.
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find youThis giveaway ends on 8/8 at 10:00 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

30 Years Later - Have we moved forward?

Earlier in the year, my mother-in-law had a fire in her house. No one was injured, but it caused her to have to go through everything in her house. In doing so, she came across a lot of my husband's old papers, photos, etc. and gave him a big box of stuff. One thing she found and gave to us was his baby book. She kept really detailed information about his development until about the age of 5, which was so cool to read. She also included a guide that was given to new parents in the hospital, written by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I just wanted to share some of the information in this guide that was published back in the 1970s.

It begins with explaining how your baby is not a miniature adult:
  • The bones of the head are soft and rubbery. 
  • Your baby may have no hair - or excess hair all over his body. 
  • The face is asymmetrical. 
  • Your baby has poor vision. 
  • The neck is short and supports the head poorly. 
  • Extremities may twitch. 
  • The skin has a purple-red color due to poor circulation. 
  • Hearing is not present at birth, but appears within a few days.
  • Babies can lose as much as 10% of their birth weight.
  • Babies are born with their mother's hormones in the blood, which may cause swollen breasts, bloody vaginal discharge, swollen vagina/scrotum.
  • Respiration is irregular.
  • Spitting up is very common the first few months.
  • The bridge of baby's nose is flat.
  • Hiccups are common.
  • Sleep patters vary in infants. Some may sleep 18 hours a day while others 7 - 8 hours.
  • Bowel moments also vary greatly.
  • The navel may protrude.
  • The feet may turn in or out.
Before even mentioning breastfeeding, the next section is entitled "Formula Preparation." What?? Are we not even giving the mom a chance to successfully breastfeed? No information regarding the benefits of breastfeeding before promoting formula usage? This section discusses that it is no longer necessary to sterilize formula or boil water. You should use tap water to make 26 oz of formula at a time, which should be divided into 6 bottles. Scrub nipples with soap and water. Refrigerate. Warming the milk is unnecessary. Then it describes how to bottlefeed your baby and how to schedule feedings roughly while being open to feeding when baby is hungry. The only good part is that it specifically states "Never prop up the bottle and leave baby to feed himself."'s a highly-disturbing section (I think) entitled "Friends and Visitors" - "Do your utmost to keep visitors and especially children away from your baby. The newborn baby is best kept as much to himself as possible. He should never sleep with you or with anybody else." Again, WHAT?! So the baby's father, grandmother, siblings, aunt, etc. should not interact with this child? Everyone should be kept away, and this insecure baby with poor vision and hearing (as described above) should feel lonely just laying by himself all night and day? Oh, that's right...this is for people giving their babies formula, which does not allow the baby to share the mother's immunity as breastfeeding would, so the baby's immunity is compromised, and he should be ignored. Sigh...

Finally, on page 5 of this booklet, breastfeeding is mentioned! Phew... It opens with "For maximum milk production - - your baby will be brought to you every three to four hours around the clock." While that is very important, shouldn't it really begin with "For maximum bonding and health, you should breastfeed"?? Most of the other information is actually accurate and beneficial for new moms - how to hold your baby while nursing, how to get a good latch, manually express if needed, be patient, wear a good nursing bra, etc. It talks about how you should not sleep through the night until at least the 8th week. I am still waiting for more than 3 hours of sleep at a time, and Lydia is almost 11 months old. And for some reason, after all that, it says not to weigh your baby at home. That's just odd. Just turned the page and found the best part yet, actually (no sarcasm here for a change): "If baby cries you MUST NURSE baby ON DEMAND. IT IS NORMAL DURING FIRST FEW WEEKS TO NURSE 10 - 12 TIMES A DAY!" (I think I still nurse this frequently.) This is followed by a sentence about how you need to offer your baby lukewarm water once or twice daily, but it's okay if your child does not take it. I don't think Lydia was ever offered water until about 6 months of age. I couldn't imagine offering a newborn a bottle of water. Isn't the whole point to provide your child with nourishment, comfort, and weight gain? How would water help with any of that?

The next section is on baby care, and it is still accurate. Here's the really amazing part -- no mention of disposable diapers, only cloth diapers. Intriguing! It's all about how to properly wash your diapers (doesn't even call them "cloth diapers") or to use a diaper service. One other thing I like that was in here was to not over-dress your baby. Your baby only needs as much clothing as you need. I see so many moms who dress their kids in full outfits and then wrap blankets around them - in the summer heat in Florida!  UGH!

So to wrap it all up...The biggest difference of all between the 1970s and 2010? "Most babies prefer to sleep on their stomachs with the head turned to one side." Definitely not a recommendation anyone would make anymore! Amazing how all of us turned out okay and we all slept on our stomachs. Now babies sleep on their backs and need positioners that warn against plagiocephaly (flattening of the head).

What do you think? Is the parenting advice given in hospitals better now...or better then?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Amy's Kitchen Review & Giveaway - Ends 8/1

Amy's Kitchen is the #1 natural frozen foods brand, specializing in vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free savory snacks/meals and sweet treats. They just released some awesome new products that I was lucky enough to review. I received a package in the mail containing the following:

  • Broccoli and spinach white pizza
  • Orange cake (vegan/dairy-free)
  • Chocolate cake (vegan/dairy-free)
  • California veggie burger (light in sodium)

I will begin by reviewing the cakes. While I preferred the chocolate cake, my husband preferred the orange cake. Unlike many vegan desserts that I have tried that tend to be bland or dry, these cakes were very flavorful and moist. You can purchase them in the freezer section at your grocery store, and all you have to do is thaw them in the fridge for a few hours and serve. Even after having them in the fridge for a few days, they still tasted fresh and maintained their moisture. The orange cake had a very intense orange flavor. The chocolate cake had a bittersweet flavor.. While I usually make my own desserts for dinner parties, I would proudly serve one of these cakes. They'd both be great as part of a trifle, layered with fruit/berries, pudding, and whipped cream (for those of us who eat dairy).

When I was a meat-eater, I was particular about burgers. After becoming a pescetarian 4 years ago, I became particular about the types of veggie burgers I would eat. Generally, I prefer black bean burgers, but I decided to give these a try. Turns out....they're delicious! I topped my burger with sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and avocado, and I enjoyed it throughly. I even served them to my nieces, calling them "burgers," and they didn't even notice that they were made of veggies instead of beef. One bit of caution, these burgers do contain nuts, a common allergen.

The white pizza was the first think we tried. The picture on the cover looked delicious! Usually I add extra flavors (more cheese, garlic, herbs, etc.) to frozen pizzas. This pizza was very flavorful. Even my 10-month old daughter liked it. The crust was thin and crisp, and there was a good about of toppings. 

Overall, we loved our new Amy's products! We'll definitely purchase some of these items on future grocery shopping trips.

BUY IT! Visit Amy's Kitchen to learn more about where to purchase Amy's products, including online. The website also has dietary information, a link to their blog, FAQ's, and more!

WIN IT! You can win THREE FREE product coupons (you get to choose your favorites) and a reusable Amy's tote bag.

Mandatory entry: Visit Amy's Kitchen and tell me where you can find Amy's products in your neighborhood by going to the "store locator."
For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' Amy's on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
4. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
5. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
6. Vote for Zimmerman School House dba Abi's Place to win $500,000 in the KOHL'S Cares campaign by clicking the link to the right (just above the Facebook Badge). You get 5 votes.
7. Follow my new sister blog Moms on a Mission.
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find youThis giveaway ends on 8/1 at 10:00 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CSN Stores *Sneak Preview*

I am going to be doing a review/giveaway of CSN Stores. CSN Stores is an awesome website! They link together over 200 different stores, carrying baby/kid items (e.g. children's furniture, toys, & games), household items (e.g. towels, headboards, & cookware), outdoor living (e.g. grills, fire pits & lounge chairs) and so much more!!

The product I plan on reviewing is a carseat. Since Lydia is turning 1 in less than 2 months, I need to invest in a forward-facing carseat soon. CSN Stores has many options to choose from, so after doing some research, I will pick the one that I think will be best for my family.

Have you visited CSN Stores before? What did you purchase? Did you find this to be a helpful website to purchase lots of different types of merchandise at one location? Any forward-facing carseat suggestions??

Tune in soon for my review and giveaway -- a $25 gift certificate to CSN Stores!

Monday, July 5, 2010

GladRags Nursing Pads Review & Giveaway ends 7/20

I was approached by GladRags to review a pair of reusable organic cotton nursing pads. The organic cotton is very soft and is grown without the use of pesticides or any other chemicals. I have seen other pads that are organic/reusable, but they are usually much bulkier, which may be awkward when wearing a form-fitting shirt. These are thin, but absorbent. To clean the nursing pads, simply machine wash and dry. For increased absorbency, wash in hot water before using them for the first time.

The best feature about these pads is that they have a slit from the center outward so that you can shape them into a more natural-looking nursing pad (see image below). This also makes for good protection against leakage. The only time I leaked regularly was probably for the first 3 - 4 months, during the night. These would've been great inside a comfy night-time bra.

For those of us who use cloth diapers, we have already learned how easy it is to use eco-friendly, reusable products such as these. You don't ever have to worry about them "running out" as you would disposable nursing pads. I recently wrote about my period returning, so I definitely want to look into some of their reusable menstrual products as well (like cloth pads and pantiliners, cups and sponges).

There's also a great GladRags Blog that discusses important women's issues - with a focus on menstruating, going green, and healthy lifestyle choices.

BUY IT! GladRags makes so many other great products for new mommies, like nipple butter, bath herbs, and organic cotton hankies, as well as alternative products to tampons and disposable sanitary napkins.
WIN IT! You could win a pack of 3 pairs of nursing pads PLUS an Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter (RV over $35).

Mandatory entry: Visit Gladrags and comment with the product you are most interested in trying.

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' GladRags on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow GladRags on Twitter.
4. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
5. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
6. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
7. Vote for Zimmerman School House dba Abi's Place to win $500,000 in the KOHL'S Cares campaign by clicking the link to the right (just above the Facebook Badge).
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)
Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 7/20 at 10:00 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Congratulations to Stephanie! Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway.

Friday, July 2, 2010

YoBaby Yogurt Review & Giveaway ends 7/18

YoBaby yogurt is one branch of Stonyfield Organics. YoBaby is whole milk yogurt, suitable for babies 6 months and older. Their most recent product to hit the markets is the YoBaby 3-in-1 meal. Each 4 oz serving contains one veggie, one fruit, and yogurt. They come in three flavors:
  • Apple & Sweet Potato
  • Pear & Green Bean
  • Peach & Squash

We tried the apple & sweet potato and the peach & squash. Lydia really liked both, but seemed to prefer the peach & squash. In addition to the fruits and veggies, these 3-in-1 meals also contain an exclusive blend of live active cultures.

Stonyfield Organics makes many other great products for you and your little ones. After trying the peach & squash 3-in-1 meals, we purchased the peach drinkable yogurt, which Lydia really likes. We're able to get two servings out of each 6 oz container.

Here are a few more reasons to purchase YoBaby for your baby:

Certified organic. Because YoBaby is organic, you know it’s made without the use of persistent pesticides. That’s especially important for babies, because their little bodies are more vulnerable to pesticide exposure. YoBaby is also made without the use of synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics.

Helps support brain development. We make YoBaby from whole milk, which helps support healthy brain development. Pediatricians recommend whole milk for babies and toddlers up to two years.

Helps support baby’s immune system. One serving of YoBaby provides 25% of your baby’s daily need for zinc, the mineral that helps support a healthy immune system.

Helps support growth. Each serving of YoBaby provides at least 25% of your baby’s daily needs for calcium, protein, and vitamin D, plus other nutrients essential for babies' growth.

BUY IT! Visit Stonyfield to learn more about where to purchase YoBaby products. I found the 3-in-1 meals at my local Super Target. The website has printable coupons if you register, recipes, and extensive information about healthy eating.

WIN IT! You can win coupons for TWO 4-packs of YoBaby 3-in-1 meals and an Eric Carle growth chart.

Mandatory entry: Visit Stonyfield and tell me where you can find Stonyfield products in your neighborhood!

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' YoBaby on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow Stonyfield on Twitter.
4. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
5. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
6. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
7. Vote for Zimmerman School House dba Abi's Place to win $500,000 in the KOHL'S Cares campaign by clicking the link to the right (just above the Facebook Badge).
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 7/18 at 10:00 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Congratulations to Charity! Thanks to all who participated in this giveaway.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I wasn't sad to see you leave...

And I wasn't happy when you returned!

So, last week, it happened. I got my period. Other than the bleeding that occurs after you give birth, I hadn't had my monthly "friend" since November 2008. A friend warned me that I may get it back after returning to work (which I did at 7 months) and at 9.5 months, it was back! And not only was it back... It was very heavy. This brought on a lot of emotions (not to mention horrible migraines).  I think this is something that perhaps only breastfeeding mommies would understand because of the symbiotic relationship that occurs between mommy and baby. I was providing Lydia with nourishment and health, while she was protecting me from menstrual cramps and bleeding. I feel like this marked the end of her "needing" to nurse. When I first had her, I thought I would only breastfeed for a few weeks at most, and as we're approaching 10 months, I'm not ready for her to start drinking regular milk at a year :-( People have asked me if I'll wean at 12 months, and I'm still very uncertain about how/when I will wean. I guess I'll just play it day-by-day and see what Lydia wants to do.

So here's a super-embarrassing story that I'll share with my readers.

I went with a girlfriend to get frozen yogurt last week. Lydia fell asleep on my chest for over an hour, so I just sat and talked to my friend that whole time. When Lydia awoke, my friend asked to hold her. I bent over to hand her off, and what happened? A FLOOD poured out of me, through my pants, and on to the chair. I went to the bathroom, and I was just soaked through. What to do?? I cleaned up as best as I could, and I grabbed one of Lydia's cloth diapers to soak it all up! Yay to cloth diapers!! Fortunately I was wearing dark blue jeans, but after grabbing Lydia, I ran to the car, stuck her in, grabbed one of her changing pads to stick under my bottom, and drove home.

This situation reminded me of when I was in 10th grade. I had this grey and black striped dress that I didn't particularly like, but actually that friend I mentioned above (who said my period would return) and my mom picked it out and said it was cute on me. Something about that dress was cursed. First, I was wearing it when I found out my crush was moving away. Then, I was in English class, and my period leaked all over the dress, my chair, etc. How embarrassing!  My 65 yr old chemistry teacher had to let me borrow her sweater to tie around my waist so I could call my mom to bring me new clothing :-( 

Oh, the joys of being a woman!!  So I've heard about alternatives to traditional tampons/sanitary napkins. I'd like to purchase one, but I'm kinda confused about how it all works. Anyone care to share your experiences/recommendations?  Thanks!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review of the Big Toy Book

I contacted the generous people at The Big Toy Book to see if they could donate a toy to Abi's Place (the nonprofit where I work) that I could review for my blog. They responded by sending me the Baby Genius All in One Musical Band, which contains two shakers, a flute, 2 drum sticks, and a tambourine - all within a drum!

This super-cute instrument set is great for all young children, but is especially effective with children who have disabilities. When teaching our children, all of whom have moderate to severe developmental delays, it's often difficult to find toys that are motivating and interesting to them. Most of the toys that do interest them stimulate or calm specific sensory needs. That's what is so great about instruments - most of our children love music, and instruments allow them to make their own music. How does that help the teachers and children? Well, we can teach so many great skills using instruments as the teaching tools. Here are a few:
1. Following one-step directions: bang the drum, blow the flute, shake the tambourine
2. Imitation: the teacher taps the drumstick on the drum and the child imitates that action
3. Communication: for our children, communication usually begins when children are motivated to use their words to ask for things that they want - so they can learn to request music through words, sign language, or pictures

These instruments are so cute, with a child-friendly animal theme. Here's Ryan playing with one of the instruments during our interactive circle time:

Thanks to The Big Toy Book for allowing us to review one of your awesome products! The kids love their new instruments. The Big Toy Book also carries many other toys for children of all ages, including eco-friendly toys, bath toys, board games, baby dolls, action figures, and more!   They also have a great blog with guest bloggers addressing a variety of topics. Additionally, they host regularly-scheduled Twitter parties with really awesome giveaways. This week's Twitter party features Toy Story 3!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Know Your Menu Options

We decided to do dinner Saturday night for Father's Day. We met up with my brother-in-law, his two daughters, and my parents (my sister is out of town for school). For budgetary and convenience purposes, we chose a popular, affordable chain restaurant. Prior to visiting the restaurant, I checked out their online menu. I wanted to find something that I could order and share with Lydia. I'm slightly determined to lose a few pounds this summer (although I already weigh less than my pre-pregnancy weight - yay!). To begin any weight loss, I usually need to start by monitoring what I eat, then I add in more exercise. So anyway, the menu. After looking through the menu items, I clicked on the nutrition facts. I figured they had to have some healthy choices, especially since they have a 'lighter fare' portion of their menu. There were only two dishes on the menu that were under 500 calories each - a pasta dish and a chicken dish. I chose the pasta, my husband chose the chicken.  Let me share with you some of the other menu items and how many calories they are:
  • Chicken parm - 1090 calories
  • Steak with gorgonzola sauce - 1310 calories
  • Grilled chicken caesar - 850 calories
  • Artichoke-spinach dip - 650 calories
  • Fettucine Alfredo - 1220 calories
There were many other choices, but as I said, only two that were under 500 calories. Now, here's the really bad part. Here are some of the choices on the children's menu:
  • Pizza - 470 calories
  • Milkshake - 500 - 530 calories (depending on flavor)
  • Grilled chicken w/fries - 400 calories
  • Fettucine Alfredo - 800 calories
So imagine your child orders the fettucine alfredo and a shake - that's over 1300 calories for one meal for a child!! I did some quick research on WebMD and found this information: a moderately active child between the ages of 4 - 8 should consume 1400 - 1600 calories a day. So in one meal at a popular restaurant, your child could potentially consume all the calories that he/she should eat in an entire day.

I like the idea of Lydia eating lots of different foods. She already eats whatever we are having for dinner (perhaps with a few modifications to the texture and flavor). I would never want to tell control her food as I believe food is meant to be enjoyed (as we gain important nutrients), but knowing that well-established restaurants create menus that do very little to promote healthy-eating in young children is scary. No wonder we have such a horrible obesity epidemic in this country! From what I heard on a show on the Food Network, our generation will be the first to have a longer life span than the offspring's generation. Much of that is because of the sedentary lifestyles so many children experience and the horrible food choices that people make for their children.

So what can we do to promote healthy, active lifestyles and choices for our children? Here's what I plan to do:
1. Practice what I preach. If I tell my child that watermelon is a good snack and I sit on the couch eating a bag of chips, how do I get her to buy in to what I am saying?
2. Model healthy activities. Swimming, taking walks, playing on the beach. There's no reason to spend a weekend sitting at home playing video games.
3. Show your children where food comes from. I think I stated it in a previous post, but I want Lydia to know where her food comes from, that people and animals work hard to get fresh food to the grocery store. Children will learn that cheese and chicken nuggets don't just come in pretty shapes like dinosaurs and stars.
4. Cook with your children. I always loved cooking. As a child, I would watch The Frugal Gourmet on PBS. I was amazed at all of the delicious-looking food Jeff Smith was able to prepare. I started writing little recipes in a notebook when I was probably no more than 7 or 8 years old. I remember that I asked my mom to make mashed potatoes and cover them with vegetables, like carrots, peas, and green beans, then bake it to get some sort of crust on top.
5. Keep healthy food in your house. I know this one is pretty obvious, but if you keep crap in your house, your kids will eat crap. If you keep healthy stuff in the house, your children will snack on healthy stuff.
6. Indulge! Children should know that you can eat ice cream and brownies and cookies and nachos - SOMETIMES. These are yummy treats that are meant to be shared and enjoyed. Treats like these aren't so special if you eat them everyday.

Anything special you do to keep your family healthy? How do you tackle the issue of your child ordering unhealthy food in a restaurant? Do you know of any good resources that grow with your child?

Tomorrow night, I am visiting a local store that is doing a presentation on healthy eating. Perhaps I can comment to my own blog post after that :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let the Reader Beware

This is a somewhat *taboo* concept to blog about, I'd guess... But I think it's so important. Here goes: Intimacy after baby is born. Without getting too graphic, something I have a tendency to do, I am actually quite happy with my life with my husband.

While I was pregnant, I was told I would hit some stage in my pregnancy where intimacy would be quite welcome. Well, I didn't hit that stage. I felt overweight and tired. Living in Florida and being pregnant during all of the "summer months" (you know, March through September) I just felt yucky and sweaty.  The whole labor/delivery process made me feel unattractive as well. It was sorta like my body was just a vessel for many unpleasant functions. And my husband was there to witness all of these less-than-desirable functions for over 9 months, from conception through delivery and beyond (as I healed from my c-section).

When the doctor gave me the go-ahead at 6 weeks postpartum, instead of feeling really excited, I felt more like "Great, now I don't have an excuse anymore." But once I got down to my normal weight and fit into clothing that made me feel cute and flirty again, my sexuality was revived. Additionally, once I started going out and having a social life again, a part of me felt like my 'old self,' which also made me feel more desirable and desired. I usually feel energized by social connections/events/conversations, and that energy has to go somewhere!

So with an infant at home, it's pretty easy to fit these...uh...extracurricular activities into our non-existent/flexible schedule. I'm guessing that once your child is a bit older or you have multiple children, it's more of a challenge. You also have to get pretty creative the longer you have been together to maintain and nurture that connection/interest in one another. We've been together almost 7 years (and friends for about 11 or 12 years), which is long enough to know each other quite well, but hopefully surprise each other every so often.

How do you maintain a level of intimacy once you have children? Do you struggle to do so or is that something you've been able to maintain even as a parent? I hope some of you are willing to share your thoughts/ideas. Thanks!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Huge Bundle of HAPPYBABY Food - Review & Giveaway Ends 6/27

The HAPPYBABY Family makes so many great food products for infants, toddlers, and young children. I was fortunate enough to receive coupons to use at Whole Foods that would allow us to try all of the following products for free.

I'll go through each product so you know what you can try as well.

*2 HAPPYBELLIES Cereals. I chose oatmeal and multigrain. These cereals are enhanced with DHA and Probiotics. To jazz them up a bit, I made the following recipe:

3T Oatmeal cereal
2T apple, diced finely
sprinkle of cinnamon
enough water to cook

I just stirred it together and microwaved for about 15 seconds. Lydia LOVES it for breakfast.

*2 HAPPYBABY Organic frozen meals. These come in all kinds of flavors for the beginning eater (around 6 months) and infants who are a bit older (around 9 months).  There are both vegetarian and meat options, and each package comes with 12 individual cubes. I like to take two cubes and mix them with some cooked couscous or small pasta (like orzo). Lydia seems to enjoy food with a bit more texture, so this make it fun for her. Plus, then, she can do her favorite thing - fingerfeed herself.

*HAPPYPUFFS are the first organic puffed finger foods just for babies! They come in three different flavors: banana, apple, and greens. These are supplemented with vitamins and minerals, and perfect for the crawling baby to feed him/herself.

*HAPPYMELTS are organic yogurt snacks that melt in babies' mouths. These are my favorite - they are absolutely delicious! They come in three flavors: strawberry, mixed berry, and banana. These also contain pre and probiotics. I like mixing them with the puffs when we are on the go.

*HAPPYBITES are frozen fingerfoods that older infants/toddlers can feed themselves. Because Lydia is 9 months, I break them into little pieces for her to self-feed. We tried the salmon stix and veggie tots. Lydia enjoyed them both, but seemed to prefer the salmon stix. I liked them, too! I think we'll have to try the mac & cheese bites next.

All of these products are ORGANIC and enhanced with various vitamins/minerals/probiotics. I always tell people - I don't want to feed Lydia anything that I would not eat myself. I would snack on all of the HAPPYBABY products, which makes me feel good about feeding them to her. Plus, they are endorsed by Dr. Sears, famous for his attachment parenting style and baby care books. This is the only baby food company I know that works so closely with a well-known and respected pediatrician to create products for our little ones.

One satisfied customer feeding herself bits of the salmon stix!

BUY IT! You can purchase HAPPYBABY food at your local Whole Foods or the HAPPY BABY website.

WIN IT! You can win the following HAPPYBABY products (RV over $50!):
2 free trial coupons for each of the following:  HAPPYBABY, HAPPYBELLES, HAPPYBABYPUFFS, HAPPYMELTS, HAPPYBITES
1 FAQ on Probiotics & DHA
1 Nutrition Guide, co-authored by Dr. Sears

Mandatory entry: Visit HAPPYBABY foods > go to About Us > go to Our Promise and tell me something you learned about this great company!

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' HAPPYFAMILY on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow HAPPYBABY Food on Twitter.
4. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
5. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
6. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)
Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 6/27 at 11:59 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Congratulations to our winner - Anastasia!  Thanks to all who participated!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Day in the Country

Okay, so maybe visiting Boyton and Delray isn't really visiting the country, but it's the closest country to my house! Last Saturday, we went to Bedner's Farm, the Girl's Strawberry Patch, Harvest Time Market, and another small place that had fresh chicken eggs. So cool! I'll go through each one in the order we visited.

Harvest Time Market is actually in Lantana. During certain times of the year, they have a you-pick area, but they didn't when we visited. However, they did have a nice farmer's market, with delicious hybrid tomatoes (those huge ones they sell at Whole Foods for like $5.99/lb) for just $1.99/lb. They also have a nursery, where we got two plants for our front yard.

The next place we visited was Bedner's Farm. It's the most traditional farm in the area. They have a nice indoor farmer's market. Outdoors, they have a barbecue area with sandwiches and side dishes...and homemade ice cream that is powered by a tractor! Then, you can take a ride on a tractor/trailer to the different fruit/veggie patches. The tomatoes and strawberries were in season, so we got to pick those.

Next, we went to a nursery that had fresh farm eggs. The place also had lots of exotic orchids and other plants for sale. Oh, and the owner had two cute corgies :-)

And last, but certainly not least, we visited the Girl's Strawberry Patch. This place is so cool! The actual you-pick is located behind a somewhat run-down strip mall. You enter through an old-time candy store with fresh ice cream, cookies, and chocolates, into a world like no other. In addition to a hydroponic you-pick that has tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, green beans, etc., there are lots of animals. Rescued birds (some that I had never seen before - parrots, peacocks, etc.), rabbits, tortoises, miniature donkeys, and more. The produce is so inexpensive and delicious. Many of the birds are free to roam or are in large cages. The animals are all fed well (mostly veggies). And there are old cars that are repainted, large cut-outs to take photos in, and areas to sit in the shade. It's such an awesome (FREE) place to visit. Oh, and sometimes...they have faeries with faerie dust! How cool is that?? After visiting the Girl's Strawberry Patch, you can go in the Boy's Market, which has a bakery, cheese from around the world, butcher, seafood, tons of produce, and delicious prepared foods. Awesome day with my family!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Plum Organics Baby/Toddler Food Review & Giveaway Ends 6/13

EcoMom sent me a sampler pack of the Plum Organics Baby and Toddler food to review. Plum Organics makes several great products:

~ Spouted pouches of single pureed fruits and veggies for babies and toddlers
* Spouted pouches of fruit/veggie combinations for babies and toddlers
~ Fiddlesticks - crunchy fruit/veggie & grain snack sticks for toddlers
* Fingerfuls - bite-sized dried fruit and grain crunchies for toddlers (and for hungry mommies who also like fruit and cereal)

Our sampler pack included several spouted pouches and a box of carrot Fiddlesticks. The spouted pouches were in delicious flavor combinations, such as Baby Spinach, Peas & Pear and Sweet Potato, Corn, & Apples. These are really great to grab and throw in a diaper bag when you're on the go. We even experimented with a few of the flavors, mixing them with cooked brown rice and pasta now that Lydia is 9 months old. She loved them!

The ingredients in Plum Organics products are so simple: organic fruits, organic veggies, and lemon juice (as a preservative). It's as if you cooked fresh produce at home, made purees, and packaged the purees in convenient pouches.

EcoMom also carries another great line of food that can go from the high chair to the lunch box: Revolution Foods. I did not receive a sample to review, so when I spotted the Berry Mash at a local store, I had to try it. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that these are quite delicious as well

BUY IT! You can purchase Plum Organics food for toddlers and babies at EcoMom, along with other great organic clothing, bath & body products, toys, and so much more! Use discount code SBBL187 to receive 15% off your first order.
For even better savings, including a 15% discount + free shipping with every order, check out the EcoPass for just $99 annually.

WIN IT! Would you like to win a sampler of Plum Organics and Revolution Foods (RV $20)?  Mandatory entry: Visit EcoMom, and tell me which food items sound the tastiest for your little one - choose either a Plum Organics or Revolution Foods product!

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' EcoMom on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow EcoMom on Twitter.
4. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
5. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
6. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)
Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 6/13 at 11:59 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Hygiea Breast Pump Review

My friend Elita at Blacktating asked me to review the Hygeia EnJoye™ Professional-Grade Breastpump now that I am working full-time while breastfeeding Lydia. Check out the review and let me know if you have any questions. This is a great double breast pump, and I am so thankful to Elita for allowing me to borrow it for a few months!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Green to Grow Glass Bottle (4-pack) Review & Giveaway

Because I breastfeed Lydia and for the first 8 months of her life I either worked from home or brought her to work with me, I rarely used bottles. In fact, I only had about 5 of them. She used bottles maybe a dozen or so times, always with pumped milk, so I didn't think too much about it. When Lydia was about 4 months old, every time I went to drink from a regular glass, she'd grab my glass to take a sip (and expressed very little interest in using a bottle). I'm a big water drinker, so no real harm in her trying some of my water, even if she spilled a bit.

HOWEVER, I recently (and temporarily) returned to work full-time, and I didn't want to pump milk only to have it spill everywhere in an open cup. So, I had to find some bottles to use. Luckily, during a trip to Whole Foods, I came across the Green to Grow glass bottles. I contacted the company, and they sent me 4 bottles to review: two 4 oz. bottles and two 8 oz. bottles (pictured below).

Here are a few facts about Green to Grow bottles:
1. The bottles are made in the U.S.A. Why is this important? This means that they wasted less fuel transporting these bottles from abroad, making them ecologically-friendly and economically-friendly.
2. They are BPA-free and phthalate-free.
3. The bottle-opening is a standard size, so the nipples can be used on other bottles.
4. The nipples are made of a medical grade silicone. They are slow flow nipples, which are recommended for young babies (esp. if you are breastfeeding).
5. The packaging itself is made from 100% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. If your bottle accidentally breaks, it is also recyclable.

These bottles have been helpful to store pumped milk in the refrigerator and are safely transported using a small insulated cooler bag with an ice pack! I feel great knowing that my child is drinking from something that is safe when she is away from me. Besides, who wouldn't love those cool, funky designs on the bottle? Did I mention that green is my favorite color?

BUY IT! You can purchase Green to Grow bottles online or at your local Whole Foods Market. Green to Grow also sells reusable totes, cloths, and BPA-free plastic bottles.

WIN IT! Would you like to win four eco-friendly glass bottles for your little one (RV $31)?  Mandatory entry: Visit Green to Grow, click on the 'learn' link, and tell me something you learned!

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' Green to Grow on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow Green to Grow on Twitter.
4. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
5. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
6. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.
(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 6/7 at 11:59 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

**Congratulations to Rachel! Thank you to all who participated.

On the topic of giving advice

Yesterday, I went to a former student's 7th birthday party. He hasn't been my student in two years, so it was awesome to be invited! I hadn't even seen him in about a year, but of course he remembered me and seemed happy to have me there. Anyway, his aunt was there. I had met her about two years ago. She was pregnant, and I said the following two her...

I have two pieces of advice for you: 1) Breastfeed. 2) Ignore everyone's advice, including mine, and do what feels right for you! It doesn't matter if that person is a doctor, your mother, a friend, etc. if it doesn't seem right, don't feel like you have to follow it.

She took it well and we chatted for a bit. She seemed happy with what I said. This advice was given about 5 mins after an older woman came up to me (while we were sitting in the shade) and said "You need to put a hat on the baby. That's what we were always told in the 'olden' days." I sighed, and said "She's fine" and that was that. I know I give out unsolicited parenting advice (whether in person, on Facebook, etc.).  I did last night on Facebook, and I was very happy to see that my friend had an educated, researched response to what I said. I think what's important to do is that when you do offer advice, you do so from an open-minded standpoint, rather than a know-it-all judgmental standpoint. Definitely something I will work toward. Half of what is said to people is all in the presentation, right?

So what's your best non-judgmental parenting advice? Have you found a good way to advise other mommies/daddies without sounding critical? Do you find most people are receptive if approached a certain way?

Monday, May 17, 2010

How Lydia Changed My Sister's Life

My sister Jamie is 3 1/2 years younger than me. We live about 15 minutes away from each other and probably hang out an average of twice a week. She got married a little over a year ago to one of my husband's oldest friends who happens to have two beautiful girls, ages 7 and 9, making her a stepmother. Unfortunately, we live in Florida and the girls live in Ohio, so we only get to see them a few times a year. She sent me the following email a few days ago, and I asked if I could share it with my readers...

I was driving today, and as I often do, I thought about the girls and how much I miss them. I cried a little, as I've been doing the past year upon confirmation that the girls are never moving... And then I thought about Lydia and how just going 3 days without seeing her makes me wanna cry.

With the girls, I never ever thought I'd be able to love any child as much as them. They have grown up with me. They're a huge part of what makes me who I am. But Lydia has taught me that there's a lot of love in my heart...more than I knew. I've fallen in love with her just as much as I did for the girls.

This is what was holding me back, truly, so long from avoiding the idea of kids. That's why I said I don't want babies. I was afraid I'd have a baby and torment it to be just like the girls (especially if it was a girl...kind of why I want a boy real bad). But I don't feel that way anymore. Lydia's got her own agenda. And one day maybe I'll have a baby with its own agenda too. That's what Lydia has taught me. I will miss her terribly this weekend when I go out of town, but I will bring her back a present :)

*This email definitely brought a tear to my eye!! What has the birth of your baby taught your family? Has anyone changed? Has it inspired anyone else in your family to have a baby?

Lydia and her aunt Jamie at the Girl's Strawberry Patch a few weekends ago :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My First Mother's Day

I just wanted to share my first Mother's Day with everyone. I used to say that a woman becomes a mother when she first finds out she is pregnant, and while in many ways that is true, I felt so very special this year, beyond anything I felt last year (although last year was also a nice day, too!) Saturday I spent way too much time in the sun, so I did have a sunburn. Richard made reservations for brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Blue Moon Fish Company. The brunch was a-mazing! Grouper, mahi-mahi, crab cakes, rice/beans, plantains, salads, raw oysters/clams, and lots more. We also got a dessert sampler plate brought to our table with creme brulee, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and a vanilla cupcake. Oh, and choice of mimosa, champagne, or bloody mary (I chose a mimosa). That night, we had a potluck at our house with my parents, Jamie, and Mike. That was fun, too! Overall, a great weekend!

What a great Mother's Day gift!!

About My Choices

When I was in labor, all of a sudden, all of my dreams of this 'perfect' birth were taken from me (as they are many women). I am not angry/upset/bitter. Lydia came out healthy, and I healed quickly... but I went back and researched what it was that was that went wrong. And you know what went wrong? Doctors want time to sleep and more money in their bank accounts. Formula companies, pediatricians, drug companies, baby food companies, etc. don't care about your baby - they care about dollars!!

Having a child is amazing but SO SCARY!! In the hospital, the doctors told me I HAD TO supplement with formula to remove the jaundice or Lydia can suffer horrible long-term repercussions. I cried and cried because that was not my plan for her once she was born. Then a lactation consultant came to my room, said her babies had jaundice, and there is no research to support that babies with jaundice need formula. Why were the doctors telling me this? Why did they say something that could have potentially ruined my nursing experience? When Lydia was four months, the doctors told me that I HAD TO start feeding her baby food. I didn't feel fully ready. Did I really have to? I did my research, and learned that breastmilk is a 'perfect food.' Babies can easily live off that alone for the first year. Why was I told that I had to feed my baby solid foods? The doctor's recommendation also went against recommendations made by the American Pediatric Academy, which states - breastmilk/formula exclusively for the first 6 months. Why were the doctors who I paid out-of-pocket for telling me things that just weren't true?? They also said my baby's first food had to be rice cereal. Yeah, not true. From the research I did, we trashed the rice cereal and really began solid foods at 6 months - with real foods (fruits, veggies, etc.) 

This was so frustrating for me because with all my childcare experiences, I never had to make the ultimate decision...but I had this little life in my hands, and I had to make all of these decisions that could affect her for the rest of her life. And right around that point, the 4-month mark, I said fuck the dr's advice, fuck what other people tell me to do with her...I need to parent with my heart. I need to be responsive to her needs in the best way I could. And all of a sudden, Richard and I felt confident about the choices we made as both informed consumers and parents. Again, it's not judgment. I just wish that all parents believed they are able to make informed decisions. 

So what's my point with all this? I am not judging individuals for the choices they make. I'm only suggesting people question things. Don't just pull the Pampers off the shelf because that's what you're supposed to do. Do those things because you've thought them through and realized that that is what's best for your family. Don't have your child sleep on his/her back because that's what you're supposed to do. We all slept on our bellies and we are happy and healthy (Lydia began sleeping on her side at an early age). Don't just feed jarred food or Similac or use a pacifier because that's what you're supposed to give your child. Do that because you think it's best...  And when you actively make decisions for your family, you can say - this is what is REALLY best for my family. 

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