Monday, April 29, 2013

Levi's Newborn Photos

We just got back Levi's newborn photos, and I couldn't wait to share a few of my favorites!







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Levi's Birth Story and Picture Dump

Levi's birth was similar to his big brother... I didn't need any drugs, but that is mostly due to the fact that I was in active labor for only two hours...

It started at 3:30am on March 30th... I woke up with very irregular contractions. All day (until dinner) the contractions came randomly. I ended up going grocery shopping with my mum during the contractions... It's amazing how fast people check you out when you are having contractions! Ha!

Anyway, by dinner my contractions were regular, and STRONG! So we called the doulas, and within 10 minutes of them being at our house my water broke. We rushed to the hospital, and within the hour, (and pushing for 4 minutes,) Levi was born! They didn't have time to give me an IV, and the doctor almost didn't make it in time!

Now for the picture dump...









Monday, April 15, 2013

EShakti

A few months ago I was contacted by a company that wanted me to try out their product (for free), and then write a blog post about it. I was like, um, SURE! That company was EShakti. The name sounds kinda strange, but the company is actually awesome. They are an online company that makes ADORABLE women's clothing that you can have custom made to your body!

Now this was perfect for me since I just had a baby, and well, lets just say that my body isn't any specific size or shape right now... and probably won't be for a while. Enter problem: There is a wedding in the family coming up very soon, and the hubby is the Best Man. Thus, the Best Man's wife wants to look nice. (Sorry yoga pants, you just don't look nice next to a tux...) So I ordered a lovely dress that is breastfeeding friendly and that would help make me feel good about how I looked. I even was able to put in my specific measurements so it would fix me perfectly. The whole process was very easy, and my dress arrived in less than a week! Talk about great service! The dress was very well made.

I had a WONDERFUL experience with this company, and I would totally recommend them to anyone. Actually, I plan on ordering from them again soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post: Baby Wearing


I knew when I got pregnant with Levi that baby wearing was probably something that would become a life-saver for me with two Little Biddles, but I knew next to nothing (have a moby, wore it twice with Jonah...) about baby wearing. So I turned to a friend from high school who is, in my opinion, the master of baby wearing. So, without further ado, here is Kate-Alice:
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About Me:
My name is Kal, I am a mother of one, and Megan and I were high school friends. We reconnected when we found out the other was expecting! I live in Grand Rapids, MI, work part-time, and blog about my experiences with parenting and life.

Megan asked me to write a little bit about baby wearing. I'm going to focus not only on why baby wearing is good for parent and child (that's right, not limited to moms), and the wraps I personally have experience with. I tend to go for the stretch hybrids or the gauze wraps from Wrapsody. I love baby wearing, and it has truly become a part of my identity. There are many different types of carriers, just make sure you read consumer comments. Don't just pick any youtube DIY that is out there.  Check your sources please. I encourage you to find better people than me to ask questions about baby wearing. I am not an expert - I just like to share what little knowledge I have. :)

Why I wear my baby:
I am a believer in attachment parenting, and for me, babywearing is a huge part of that. I enjoy cuddles and my Z was a huge butt about being set down. For us, wearing was a key aspect of making sure I didn't lose my brain and she got what she needed. I learned to nurse in a wrap, I put her in a wrap for mall trips, into the store, around the house, out for walks, whenever. Even though she has been walking since last summer, I still put her in wraps when I need to get housework done and she wants to be near me.

For younger children, babywearing simulates being inside the womb. Hearing the heartbeat, keeping warm with body heat and the natural swaying an oscilating that parents do help calm babies. Babies that want to be held and stay up near the parents face are smart - they want to be where the language is, where the sounds and the facial expressions are - its the best place for them to learn.

Also, as a breastfeeding mom, I used wraps for on-the-go feeding. It takes practice, and you need to know your body and your baby's body before trying it out in public. Try feeding around the house before you try it at the checkout lane at Meijer. And yes, I have fed Z while scanning my own produce at the store, I'm sure it was caught on camera. But guess what - CHECK LAWS. In most states, breastfeeding women are exempt from public nudity laws. It's ok to have a nip slip, or to have a baby get bored and unlatch. Feeding in a carrier can reduce your anxiousness if you haven't fed in public before. If someone gets close enough to see what is going on - it's time to press harassment charges. ;)

Babywearing for me is mostly about not having a screaming child, but for some, babies are a fashion. The wraps and carriers come in all sorts of styles, fabrics, and patterns. Some are one piece, but I tend to gravitate towards wrap carriers. I use two main types, the Bali Breeze and the Bali Stretch. I used to use a MOBY, the Seven Slings, and the Flip. - but they didn't turn out to be what I could use and I didn't like as much. I also have a ring sling from BabyEtte for super duper short trips.

Safety:
How not to wear a baby (there is a doll falling out of her wrap!).
Disclaimer: PLEASE USE CAUTION WHEN BABYWEARING. I CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH.

1. Make sure baby can breathe. Without the proper head control, you have to make sure that there is no fabric over the baby's face, and they aren't curled down.
2. Never do anything you wouldn't do holding a baby, this includes jogging, running, jumping on trampolines etc.
3. Never use a baby carrier riding in the car.
4. Check types of carriers and what ages they can be used for. (I use wraps which are good for all ages, but certain carries are better for different ages and development stages)
5. Inspect your carriers. Check the fabric, check straps, make sure they are in working order.
6. Protect baby from the elements - hats, coats, carriers don't have protection, be aware.
7. Practice before using baby, or practice over a soft surface like a bed/gym map


Carry Videos : I have drawn from a few of my favorite videos for this. Wrapsodybaby.com, youtube, and I take no credit for making these videos. I have provided the original links so you can like them and enjoy. 
Front carry:
I like to use a simple pre-tied front carry for a lot of my babywearing outside the home. The front cross carry is the instruction that comes with every type of wrap carrier. This can be tied before leaving the house, and usually doesn't need to be adjusted.


The basic X or front cross carry is the easiest carry to do. It is easy to adjust, it is comfortable for baby and doesn't put all the strain on one shoulder like some carries. The only warning I have is to be mindful of your temperature and babies temp. In the winter, a heavy wrap (like a Moby) can get hot! Dress yourself in a tank, baby in a onesie, and throw a coat on over top. If you have something lighter (Bali Breeze or Bali Stretch) you can think of it as a layer of clothing. Never dress a baby in more layers than you would wear.

Back carry:
For all back carries, learn to put baby safely on your back. I suggest using WrapsodyBaby because there are several different methods. I actually use a "double hammock carry" for when I need to get all my chores around the house, or want to go for a walk. Best done after baby has been fed, and can be used to help lull into nap time.


With this one, remember to put the first pass around your chest, then spread it out for the second pass around the baby. This carry is really good for long time wear. Be careful that baby can reach new stuff when up higher (like hair).

Multiple baby carry:
Wearing two similarly sized babies. Zelda (15 mo) and Xander (8 months)
 In  picture above I am using two wraps for the two babies.
For Xander and Zelda I used a double hammock carry, then a basic X carry over that. It is a little warm, but the babies balanced pretty well. For two different sized babies, the larger one should go on your back. There are single wraps for multiple children, but I never have two all the time to experiment on. You can also use a wrap and a ring sling combination, or ever wear one and have one in the stroller. Use what works for you - if something doesn't, that's ok.

That should give you a start for babywearing, but practice, practice, practice. Make sure to read comments on youtube videos when you want to try a new wrap or carry. If the comments are all negative, look somewhere else. There are plenty of good resources, ask your friends if there is a mom's group for trading carriers.

Just remember, I am not and end-all, know-all. There are many other carrys and carriers out there. There are some babywearing groups out there that do rentals, and I encourage anyone to try before you pick out something.

More about babywearing:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Post: Thrift Piracy

Recently I have been doing a lot of thrift store shopping... and I would love to share all that goodness with y'all, but I figured you should hear it from the MASTER. So please let me introduce you to my dear friend Beth from MoreFunMom.com.
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Right now, I’m wearing Ralph Lauren jeans and a sweater from Banana Republic. This outfit cost me $5. (Unless you count the underwear, which I never do.)

Thrift store piracy, people. It’s how you rock name brands and pay less than you would for lunch.

My mother is the ultimate thrift store pirate—piracy is a family business. She dragged me by my chubby arm to the thrift store from the time I was a babe. I whined the entire way, of course. I sat griping in her cart as she scoured for deals. I cried and pleaded to go home, because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on.

But I learned. Oh yes, I learned. One day I realized that thrift stores were pretty much my personal Promised Land. And now, I will pass the knowledge of thrift piracy along to you! So here they are—my rules.

1. Pirate from the rich. Thrift stores get their merchandise from the people who drop off their used goods at the door. Therefore, you can bet that the richer the droppers, the nicer the merchandise. So hit the stores in the swanky neighborhoods to score the best stuff. That’s how I end up wearing a lot of my three fave brands (J. Crew, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic, in case you were curious).
Sweater by Jones New York. Skirt by Ann Taylor. Boots by Bellando. Total outfit cost: $7. (Hence the face.)

This price tag came still attached to that leopard-print skirt I'm wearing. Yep, originally $69.00. Never been worn.

2.     Pirate at the peak times. Thrift stores hold sales. This is key, people, because if you go on the sales days, you can save big-time. For instance, I recently went to a 99-cent Sweater Sale and got sweaters for my entire family for $16. If I had gone to that same store on a normal day, though, I would have spent $75. Check around minor holidays like President’s Day or Labor Day—there are often half-off sales at those times. The ARC is half-off every Saturday, and Goodwill is half-off every other Saturday. And keep your eyes peeled for special sales too, which stores will run to clear out merchandise.

3.     Pirate in the off-season. The worst time to buy anything is when you really need it. You’ll end up paying more and settling for things that aren’t quite right. So think ahead to your needs for the upcoming year when you head to the thrift store. You might find a great winter coat in June or a grill in December. Personally, I always check the children’s books section and stock up on barely-used books to give my daughter for Christmas.  

4.     Put your booty in the cart. I know if you’re trying to be frugal in a regular store, and you see something you want, it’s a good idea to leave it on the rack, circle the store, maybe even come back next week if you still want it. Not so in a thrift store. If you are considering an item, put it in the cart. Then consider. Because if you leave it on the rack, when you circle back, chances are, it’ll be gone.

5.     Consider your treasure before you carry it home. Inspect everything carefully before you buy. Look for rips, missing buttons, zippers that don’t work right, wear and tear. Don’t compromise. Don’t settle if something doesn’t fit right or isn’t exactly what you wanted, but will do. If you’re not really handy with a needle, don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll just hem the pants and they’ll be fine. (On the other hand, if you know how to work a sewing machine, go for the pants!)

6.     Be patient pirates. You have to be patient if you really want to score big stuff. I wanted a couch—not just any couch, but a large, tan, microfiber couch in good condition—for over a year before my mother found one at the Goodwill for something like $75. So go pirating with an attitude that you don’t have to come home with the thing you want today. (Otherwise, again, you risk settling.)

7.     Make your piracy mean more. If the only reason you’re being frugal is so you can save yourself a few dollars, I gotta tell you I don’t really think it’s worth it. Be frugal so you can be generous. If you know you can get great winter coats for just a few bucks, don’t hesitate to give yours to that shivering lady holding a sign on the street corner. Stock up on kids’ clothes to donate to clothing drives. If you see something you think a friend could use or love, pick it up for them. Then your frugality will really make a difference in the world.  

Happy pirating, everyone!
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Beth is Mama to one booty-shaking, play-doh smashing, curry-gobbling, kitty-loving Sweet Pea. She writes about frugality, intentional parenting, and finding deeper joy at www.morefunmom.com