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. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Django Mango Organic Rattle Review & Giveaway! Ends 5/23

This giveaway is for something really cool! I contacted the Django Mango etsy shop owner, and asked to do a review/giveaway of one of their products. I was redirected to the Django Mango website, and I was sent two super-cute 100% organic octopus rattles - one for Lydia and one for one of my readers. Lydia loves her octopus rattle! She likes to grab the arms and shake it a whole bunch. Because the eyes are made of felt, it's safe for babies/children of all ages.

Here's an overview of the Django Mango products:

  • There are 23 different rattle designs in a variety of colors

  • They are made with either 100% organic cotton or 100% fair trade organic cotton

  • They are filled with stuffing made from plastic bottles

  • They are packaged in a reusable fabric bag

  • The creator, Amanda Sharpe, makes all of her original designs by hand in her smoke-free, pet-free home in Ontario (and she's a redhead like me!)
In addition to rattles, Django Mango also carries handmade origami mobiles and reusable baby washcloths.

BUY IT! Visit Django Mango to purchase one of many beautiful handmade products.

WIN IT! Would you like to win a 100% organic octopus rattle for a special little one in your life? For the Mandatory Entry, visit Django Mango and tell me something else you would love to have.

For additional entries (leave one comment per entry):
1. 'Like' Django Mango 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. Give us an idea for another rattle that Django Mango could create - perhaps a favorite animal? Favorite food? Be creative!
Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 5/23 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 Jessica! Thank you to all who participated. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Health & Opportunity

As parents, I believe we owe two things to our children: health and opportunity. Our baby's health begins the moment we ovulate/conceive. You want to eat healthy, take vitamins, limit heavy-lifting, remain active (without pushing yourself), avoid alcohol/tobacco, etc. We strive to treat our bodies better than we ever have before to protect what is inside. I have given Lydia three amazing 'gifts' so far that should hopefully help her to be strong and healthy: breastmilk, health insurance, and cord blood banking.

Two of my friends had babies over the last 10 days or so. Knowing how supportive I have become of breastfeeding, they both shared their first experiences with me in some way. One mommy gave birth to her baby about 2 months early. She is in the NICU, but she has been pumping and giving her only breastmilk. Over the weekend, her baby latched on for the first time to do some non-nutritive sucking. So amazing!  What's even more amazing, is how excited and proud she was to share this with me. I feel quite honored.

The other friend had her baby boy yesterday. I went to the hospital to see her after work, and she looked amazing. Her little guy was so cute! While I was there, the nurse showed her how to feed him, and she fed him his first whole 'meal' with me there. Such a cool thing to experience with her! She's been watching me feed Lydia for months now, so I was super-excited to see how she would do with her little one. He did so great - latched right on like a pro. I hope both of my new mommy friends enjoy this experience as much as I do :-)

I was trying to explain to my sister recently what breastfeeding is like (she has two stepdaughters, but no children of her own yet). I told her that being pregnant and having a baby allowed my body to do its job. It feels like this awesome machine that works so mysteriously and skillfully. I also told her that when people choose to formula feed, it seems like giving away free diamonds to pay for cubic zirconia.

On to the two other health issues... we pay out of pocket for Lydia's health insurance. It's expensive, and it sucks that we have to pay it ourselves, but that's life, and I could not imagine allowing her to go without it. However, I will say that I am not impressed with the doctor who I initially chose, so I am looking into a more holistic doctor. Lydia is due for her 9-month check-up soon, so I would like to switch by then. I think I found someone...just need to make some phone calls and keep my fingers crossed!

Cord blood banking... this is something we considered for a while, but ultimately decided it would be best for our family. I found a less expensive place, and I think of it as another form of health insurance. The one thing the (idiot) doctor who delivered Lydia said was: you don't ever want to sit in a doctor's office, find out something is wrong, and wish you had banked. I have known several families whose children's lives were improved because of cord blood. I had to give that extra bit of potential security to my little one.

Okay, so the second thing you owe your child is opportunity. To fulfill this, I began a college fund for Lydia. We pay about $100 a month for her to go to a 4-year state university in Florida. If she ever wants to go somewhere else, we can just withdraw the money. It's pretty much like having a savings account, only it grows exponentially over 18 years. I am truly proud to give this opportunity to my daughter.

I also hope to offer her the opportunity to meet new people, try new things, and just experience life. That's what it's all about!
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