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!
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