SoftBums Cloth Diaper Review: Diapers that grow with your child.

SoftBums Cloth Diaper Review: Diapers that grow with your child.

Who has cloth diapered from infancy? Who has purchased a newborn stash just to have your baby grow out of said newborn stash in a month, and has caused you to purchase another diaper stash to last you till your child potty trains? Let me break down the cost. A good recommendation for a newborn cloth diaper stash is to have about 24 diapers. At an average cost of $15 a diaper that comes to $360.00. (Unless you do shells and flats.) Newborn diapers do not last till your child potty trains because your child out grows them causing you to have to purchase another cloth diaper stash. While you will get some of your money back if you sell your newborn diapers the amount you get back really depends on how good the cloth diaper B/S/T is at the time you want to sell. Say you get 50%, or $180, of your newborn investment back to spend on another conservative 24 diapers, at an average of $20 a diaper, to last your child till potty training you are still shelling out another $300 for your new stash. (I am using conservative numbers since not a lot of cloth diapering families have just 24 diapers per child. Am I the only one? Haha!) A lot of families start cloth diapering to save money. So why not try and save as much as you can?

What if I told you there were diapers that could take you from newborn all the way to potty training? (Average age for potty training in the US is around 2-3 years old.) Causing you to only have to purchase one stash for your child. I have your attention now don’t I? Haha! Well there are diapers that will go from newborn to 36 months and they are from the company Softbums. They have two different diaper shells, along with a couple different inserts, or as they call them Pod systems, that grow with your child and let you choose the absorbency that fits your needs. I had a chance to try out Softbums diapers, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at their ease of use and how great they worked. Below is my review of Softbums Echo and Omni shells along with their Large Dry Touch Pod and One-Size Bamboo SUPER Double-Pod.

The Echo All in 2 Shell: First a little bit about the Echo shell. The Echo diaper shell, Softbums trim fit shell, fits 0-36 month and can fit a child as small as 5lbs. How? Because of their patented toggle system. With Softbums the Echo shell has a toggle system inside the diaper that allows you to adjust the leg elastic to fit your child. The best way to do this is to measure around your child’s leg, in inches, where the diaper will sit. Divide the number by 2, and add 1.5. (Didn’t think you would need to do some math for your child’s cloth diapers, did you? Haha) The number you get, in inches, is how long your elastics should be on your diaper. Taking the measurement actually does work. It took me 2 minutes to measure my daughter and the fit was perfect. If I had not taken the measurement it would have taken me a little while to get the toggles into the right place for the right fit. My daughter is 24 months and 25 lbs. These fit perfectly when measured out and she has tons of room to grow. Other characteristics of the Softbums Echo shell are that they can come in hook and loop or snaps, and the inside is fleece with a waterproof backing. You should only have to wash the shell once before use, but you will have different prep for the inserts. The inserts are sold separately so you can customize your diapers to fit your child’s needs.

The Omni All in 2/Pocket Shell: The Softbums Omni shell, like the Echo, fits from 0-36 months due to Softbums patented toggle elastic system. (I measured my daughter the same way I did for the Echo and got a great fit.) The Omni has the same fleece inside with waterproof backing, and comes in either hook and loop or snap shell. Prep is the same, and just like the Echo the inserts, or pod systems, are sold separately so you can customize to your child’s needs. The difference between the Softbums Echo vs. the Omni shell is the Omni shell is also a pocket diaper. So now you have a choice to either lay the inserts on top, snap them in, or stuff them. After having both the Echo shell and Omni shells on my daughter’s bum I can say the Omni shell is a hair bigger. You might still be able to get away with diapering your newborn with an Omni shell depending on your baby’s weight at birth, but if you are like me and make smaller babies than the Echo may be your way to go.

Large Dry Touch Pod:  Since you can purchase the Softbums inserts, or pods, separately you can choose what fabric/absorbency you think would work best for your little one, and interchange them between the Echo and Omni shells. The dry touch pods are made of 4 layers of microfiber with a soft microfleece top. (It is actually really soft. Haha!) To prep the dry touch pods, you will need to wash them 2-4 times. Remember to prep them separately from your bamboo pods. I consider my daughter to be a heavy wetter so we own ALOT of bamboo inserts, but the Softbums large dry touch pod really surprised me. It held up almost just as well as all of her other inserts, and she made it through a whole two-hour nap without being soaked or leaking. I have added the small bamboo pod on top of the dry touch if we are out and about just for security reasons. I have actually been using my Softbums inserts with some of my other diaper shells since they work really well.

One-Size Bamboo Super Double-Pod: I am going to start out by saying I actually really like this insert/pod. Out of all of the Softbums products I have used the bamboo pod is my favorite. Softbums bamboo pods are made of a layer of Bamboo/cotton blend topped with a layer of bamboo velour. (These inserts/pods are SO SOFT. There is currently only one other diaper I have tried that could possibly match Softbums bamboo pod in softness, but that diaper’s insert is not made of bamboo.) Again, my daughter lasted through a 2-hour nap, and beyond. The bamboo super double pod actually comes with two inserts, the small and the one size, but I only needed to use the one size. Prep is easy since all you have to do is wash it once and you are good to go. Again, I really like this insert/pod, and if you are a bamboo insert fan I highly recommend you try this one.

Replacement Kits: Another perk of Softbums diapers is you can purchase replacement kits with directions for the elastic’s, toggle’s, and the hook and loop. No more having to send your diapers out to be fixed when the elastic wears out. (This will save you big bucks if you don’t know how to replace elastics.)

Price: So, the big question is… how much do they cost? Since the Softbums shells are made in the USA their price is slightly higher than other cloth diaper company shells. The cost for an Echo or Omni diaper shell is $21.95. You can get different prints on sale for a little bit less on the Softbums website or at other natural parenting stores if they are running a sale. Since the inserts are sold separately the cost for a shell and insert can vary. The Large dry touch pod retails for $4.95 and the One-size Bamboo Super double pod retails for $15.95. To give an example you could purchase 12 shells, 12 large dry touch pods, and 12 small dry touch pods for around the same price as 24 newborn diapers. (Shells being used at least twice gives you 24 diaper changes.) The kicker is you wouldn’t have to sell them as your child grows saving you money.

In the end, not every child is the same, and the cloth diaper that works for one child may not work for another. Another money saving trick is to know about as many different kinds/types of cloth diapers that are out there before you spend all of your money on one kind that may end up not working for you. (You spend almost $400 on a diaper stash of one kind of diaper to realize they don’t work for your child causing you to have to try and sell them to fund different diapers. This is actually a reason why many families give up on cloth diapering.) So, make sure when you start looking at building a cloth diaper stash that you take a look at Softbums. Like myself you may be pleasantly surprised, and find yourself making a list of all the Softbums you want to add to your stash because your LO must wear panda’s all the time now. Haha!

**Disclosure Statement: Even though I received free product in exchange for this review all opinions are my own. I am a parent myself and would never recommend a product I wouldn’t be comfortable using on or giving to my own child.**


MommyCon Orlando 2017 Review

MommyCon Orlando 2017 Review

I just got back from MommyCon Orlando 2017 a couple of days ago and I have been itching to write about my experience. 20170908_153248This year was extra special since my husband and daughter came with me, and because I was a part of the MommyCon Media Team. There were so many great vendors and speakers I was disappointed I wasn’t able to see them all. There was just so much to see and do! Here are my personal vendor and speaker highlights from my experience. 😊

 

Vendors:

Lighthouse Kids Company – I was able to actually meet and chat with Vanessa the owner and creator of Lighthouse Kids diapers. These diapers are newish to the market, and I am predicting they will take off soon. I purchased one of their newer prints and it is gorgeous! These diapers are an AIO with a Bamboo and Stay Dry attached insert. It also comes with a booster. Here is their website. https://lighthousekidscompany.com/

Polyblox Totems – This product is a new take on those ABC blocks we all had as kids. You know the one’s with letters, numbers, animals, etc. (My daughter has them and likes to build walls with them and knock them down like she is Godzilla.) Polyblox Totems come attached in totem form with capital and lower-case letters, pictures, Braille, and more. These are on my wish list for my daughter. http://www.thepolyblox.com/

Safari Ltd. – These toys are so awesome. They are educational toys and figurines of animals, mystical animals, dinosaurs, and more. They are affordable and adorable. https://www.safariltd.com/

The Whole Life Co. – I have been using products from this company for a while, but I have never been able to meet the owners in person before. Whole life products are all natural and they have a product called Aroma doh that my daughter loves. It’s all natural and each different color has a different scent. Makes for great sensory play for children. I finally snagged her the set for her birthday, and grabbed a container of their belly butter for myself. If you are interested in switching to all-natural products Whole life is a great company to look into. http://wholelifeandservices.com/

Sessions: I was only able to make it to two sessions due to eating lunch and meeting vendors, but the two I did make it to were amazing.

Babywearing 101 with Laura Brown of Ergo Baby – This was a really great down to earth talk about beginning babywearing. Laura Brown did a fantastic job of discussing the beginning ins and outs of front carries with many different carriers. (Wraps, ring slings, Meh Dai’s, and structured carriers.) Laura took her time, was funny, and answered questions. I wish she could have stayed longer and had a babywearing 102, 103, and so on classes.

Cloth Diapering 101 with Jennifer Labit presented by Cotton Babies: I am already a cloth diapering mom, but I love hearing stories from other cloth diapering families. A family should never have to make the decision of purchasing food or purchasing diapers. It was great to see Jennifer’s presentation on how cloth diapering saved her family money, and how cloth diapering helps to reduce your carbon foot print. I can attest that cloth diapering has saved my family $1,000 in our first year of using cloth. We will continue to save even more as we go into cloth diapering our second child.

Meeting Role Models: It’s sad, but I live in a part of the United States that does not have many natural parenting/cloth diaper stores in it. To be able to be a part of a natural parenting/ cloth diapering community I follow individuals and stores via social media. So, when I had a chance at MommyCon Orlando to meet some of the individuals I look up too I jumped. All of these ladies are business owners/working mom’s and they prove, as a woman and a mom, you can have it all.  

Abby’s Lane – I did not purchase anything at Abby’s Lane, but I did get to meet the owner Stephanie Daniels. 20170902_131252(I had already hit my personal shopping limit before I was able to go to her booth. Haha!) She has been a role model of mine for a couple of years now and I was totally fan girling when I met her. She is just as gracious in person as she is online and I am so glad I had the chance to talk with her. Abby’s Lane is a great online store for all of your natural parenting/cloth diapering needs. They have a cloth diaper book club, and their online communities are just amazing. https://www.abbyslane.com/

 

Smart Bottoms – Christina Malone is the owner of Smart bottoms, a very popular cloth diapering company. 20170902_093433I again, have been following her business and online cloth diapering community pages for a while, and I have seen her handle business situations with grace and patience. She is just as kind in person and it was an honor to get to meet her. https://smartbottoms.com/

Grovia –  It seemed everyone who went to MommyCon Orlando was there to shop at the Grovia booth! From the moment the vendor hall doors opened there was a line for Grovia. I had to wait hours to be able to go up and speak with the ladies working the booth, and to make my purchase. While I did shop the biggest reason I wanted to go to the Grovia booth was to meet Sabrina Azemar. 20170902_121220Sabrina works for Grovia’s social media team and she is amazing. Her laugh and smile are infectious and it was great to be able to meet and talk with her. The online Grovia community is also one of the best online cloth diapering communities out there. http://www.grovia.com/

Laura Brown of Ergo Baby – I follow Ergo Baby and their new online group “Ergobaby: Love carries on” on Social Media, and Laura is one of the ladies who runs the group. 20170902_092925Laura did the Baby Wearing 101 session at MommyCon Orlando and did a fantastic job. She is kind, knowledgeable, and hard-working. Besides working for Ergo baby she is also a Postpartum Doula, IBCLC student, and a mom. ❤ https://store.ergobaby.com/

If you ever have a chance to attend a MommyCon even it is totally worth it. Not just for the vendors, but also for the sessions and the community. They have changed up their ticket structure for 2018 allowing for different tiers, and they always run scholarship and military ticket programs. (There will be a General Admission tier with no swag bag, a Premium Admission tier with swag bag, and a VIP Admission tier that includes an upgraded swag bag and admission to the VIP session the day before.) This was my media swag bag mixed with my husbands general admission swag bag for this year. 20170909_143553Make sure you check them out at www.mommycon.com.

If you haven’t been to MommyCon, didn’t make it this year, or didn’t get a chance to shop at the Grovia booth you are in for a treat! 20170909_144012Click below to enter to win a Grovia Wacky Hook and Loop Hybrid Shell in “Play”. Contest will run from 9/8/2017 through 9/16/2017. Winner will be randomly selected on 9/17/2017.

Click here to enter Pretty in Baby Food’s Grovia Wacky “Play” Hybrid Shell


ThredUp – Secondhand Clothing Review

ThredUp – Secondhand Clothing Review

I love hand me down clothing. When I was a kid every season my mom would bring down bags of clothes from the attic for my sister’s and I to go through. They would be labeled with a name, age range, and clothing size. It was like Christmas every season. I didn’t care I was wearing my older sister’s clothes.

When I was pregnant many friends offered me their maternity clothing, and when I had my daughter the same friends offered us clothes that no longer fit their children and I sure as heck said yes both times! Clothes are expensive, and unfortunately clothes today are not made the same way as they once were. I have stopped purchasing adult clothing from Target because they do not last and I have ended up with rips, tears, color runs, and shrinkage so many times. It became a waste of my money. (Sorry Target.)

I cannot lie though I love buying new or “new to me” clothes. Being pregnant again, and feeling like I need to spruce up my wardrobe, I have run into the issue of how expensive new maternity clothes really are. (Also, the issue of shopping with a 2-year-old. Haha!) I do not have the funds to spend over $200 on 2 to 3 outfits. (Looking at you Pea in the Pod/Destination Maternity/Motherhood Maternity.) If you are in the same boat I am then I offer a pretty simple solution that I just discovered, but has been around for a while. ThredUp.

About: Some of you might already know about ThredUp, but if you are not familiar, ThredUp is an online consignment/thrift/secondhand shop that sells clothing and accessories. The gist of ThredUp is individuals can request a closet clean out kit for donating or selling/consigning their clothes/accessories. They then fill the closet clean out kit with the items they would like to donate/sell/consign and then they send it off to ThredUp. If you are selling/consigning your clothes/accessories to ThredUp then they will inspect the items and deem how much they are willing to pay you for them. If there are any items you want back, if ThredUp will not take them, there is a fee. You can read about ThredUp’s whole program in their FAQ’s area. ThredUp FAQ’s

What I got: I was desperately in need of more maternity shirts and warmer maternity clothing, but I also wanted to try something different then my normal grey t-shirt look. (I did get one grey sweatshirt. Haha!) Browsing their maternity items, I was able to find 2 shirts, 1 sweater, and 1 sweatshirt I really liked that were in my size. (I was really excited too, because they give you a 40% off coupon code for your first purchase.) All together the total, with coupon and shipping, was $31.17. For 4 pieces of clothing that’s not bad. (ThredUp has a wide variety of cloths for kids, women, men, maternity, and accessories. If you would like to see some of their Maternity wear you can browse their Maternity tops HERE and their Maternity sweaters HERE.)

How my items came: While the post office smooshed my box a little my ThredUp items came in a cute polka dot box with polka dot tissue paper. They also included a nifty pamphlet explaining a little bit about second-hand clothing/accessories and a week worth of daily mantras.

The condition of my items: Before trying on my items I checked the condition of the clothes just in case. There were no stains, no pulls, no holes, or any other blemishes that I could see on any of the items I purchased. All items fit which was a godsend, because I really dislike having to send items ordered online back. Haha!

My overall impression: I will be ordering again! I have no complaints about the process, the items, or the price. I felt it was a lot easier than loading my daughter up in the car and trying clothes on while trying to keep her corralled and me sane.

The greatest thing about buying secondhand clothing is that it is sustainable. Everyone wears clothes, and eventually everyone grows out of their clothes. If you are in an area where there are no second-hand clothing shops, or you have kids and you don’t want to take them to the store with you ThredUp is awesome. (Just make sure you know your size before purchasing.) With ThredUp you also know there is another regular person on the other side of the transaction. Another person owned those clothes and there is a high probability that with your purchase they are recouping some money of their own. Like ThredUp says, “There’s a lot more to secondhand than just clothes.” While not quite the same as shopping at a small business it is the closest I have seen from bigger companies. If you are in need of “new to you” clothes, or clothes for your kids, make sure you look on ThredUp. You just might be surprised at what you find, and the price.

Disclaimer: I did receive a small amount of compensation in exchange for this review. Having said that, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and I really did have a great experience shopping with ThredUp. I am a big proponent of sustainability, secondhand shopping, and saving money.

 

How To Make Disney Mickey/Minnie Ears

How To Make Disney Mickey/Minnie Ears

Like a lot of people around the world I love pretty much everything Disney. Especially Disney World. The best part about Disney World is experiencing it for the first time, and then experiencing it again through your children’s eyes. While I don’t have enough money to be at Disney World every day I do have enough money to bring bits and pieces of the Disney Magic home. One of those ways is through playing dress up with my daughter, and wearing Mickey/Minnie ears. While I have purchased Mickey/Minnie ears from Disney World before I haven’t done it recently. So, I decided to try my hand at making my own, and found out it’s not so hard, expensive, or time-consuming. (You can actually use materials you find around your home to reduce cost!) All it takes is a little inspiration and imagination for you to create any Mickey/Minnie ear design you want.

20170820_173654Here’s how I created my Fall Floral Inspired Minnie ears.

Supplies you will need: 

Glue Gun, Head Band, Ribbon, Foam, Scissors, Flowers or any other fabric, material, or accents you want to use to decorate your ears.

Step One – Create the head band: Since I didn’t have any head bands lying around the house I used a cheap head band I purchased. If the head band is not the color or material you want for your design you can use ribbon to cover it up. For my head band, since it was fall inspired, I wanted the head band to remind me of hay. So, I purchased a woven ribbon to cover my head band. You want to measure out your ribbon to be slightly longer then the length of your head band. Then using your glue gun, you will want to glue the ribbon onto your head band. Make sure to glue the head band onto the middle of your ribbon leaving enough ribbon on both sides, and the ends, to fold over around the head band. You will then fold the ends of the ribbon up, glue them down, and then glue both sides of the ribbon down. Like the below pictures.

Step Two – Bows: If you are doing Mickey ears you can skip this step and go straight to making the ears. Whenever I think of Minnie Mouse I always think polka dots and bows. So, this step shows you how to make a simple bow to add to your ears. You will need a thick piece of ribbon, I used about a 4 to 5-inch-long piece, that will serve as the bow, and a thinner piece of ribbon, about 2 to 3 inches long, that will wrap around your bow holding the pinch in place. You will want to fold the thick ribbon so that the ends meet in the middle over lapping the ends a little bit. Then you want to pinch the middle down creating an accordion look. Taking the thinner piece of ribbon, you will want to wrap it around the middle, and glue it down to holding the pinch in place. You can now glue the bow to the middle of your head band or you can wait to glue it on later with your ears.

Step Three – Ear’s: My daughter has a pair of infant Minnie ears so I based the size of the ears I wanted for mine off of hers. I measured her ears and they came out to be 3 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. You may want to measure and draw out your ears on paper before cutting them out on the foam, but it’s up to you. (I needed extra practice. haha!) Once you have your foam ears cut out it is time to let your imagination run. (I purchased a couple of hanging garlands from the local craft store that had fall leaves and berries on them.) You want to use your glue gun and cover your ears with your material so no foam is showing. Once everything is set you can wrap the top edge of your ears with more of your ribbon if you like to try to create a more seamless look, or to hide any imperfections.

Step Four – Attach ears, and other accents: Like measuring out the ears make sure to measure out the distance between your ears when putting them on the head band. Using the glue gun, glue the ears into place. After your ears are on you can take a look at your project and see if there are any imperfections you want to cover up, or if you just want to add some accents. I decided to add a couple more flowers around my bow to finish off my ears.

Final step – Enjoy your Mickey/Minnie Ears: If you have no distractions you should be able to complete a set of Mickey/Minnie ears in about an hour. If like me you have kids running around it might take a little longer. After your done enjoy your ears! Whether it be for dress up play at home, or actually taking your ears to wear at a Disney park. Take pride in your creation, and the fact they are one of a kind. ❤ If you have any questions let me know in the comments or show me pictures of your creations!


MommyCon’s Mystery Box: Mom’s Survival Kit Review

MommyCon’s Mystery Box: Mom’s Survival Kit Review

I was really excited when I received an invitation this year to join MommyCon’s Parent Squad. One of the main parts of my blog is to review products for families in hopes of helping them save money. Being a part of the MommyCon Parent Squad is just one of the many ways that helps me to be able to do this.

I was doubly excited when I was chosen as one of the individuals to review their August Mystery box. What are these boxes? They are mystery product boxes curated by MommyCon. They have a generalized theme and cost $19.99, which includes shipping. The actual retail cost of the products in the boxes is more than the $19.99 MommyCon price. (I will get more into this in a moment. :))

The theme for August’s box was Mom’s Survival Kit, and it contained the below products. I have also listed the retail price for the products from the actual product company sites. (All except for the Kind Bar. That price is from Target because I could not find individual bars for sale on the Kind Website.)

Fluf Snack Pack Single – $9.50

Chicken Poop lip junk x3 – $4.00 each which equals $12.00

Motherlove nipple cream 1oz – $10.95

Siliskin cup top – $8.95 for 3 or $2.98 a piece

Kind Bar – $1.49

North Coast Organics Death by Lavender natural deodorant 2.5oz – $9.99

Herban Essentials towelettes 7 pack – $7.00

Total cost for all of the products is $53.91. (MommyCon Box Price $19.99 which includes shipping). That’s a savings of $33.92, and that doesn’t include shipping if purchased online, or gas if purchased in store. What the WHAT! I am a couponer and deal hunter when I shop, and I can personally tell you this is an AMAZING price. Now, granted I am sure not ever mystery box theme is going to have this much savings in them all the time; but it shows how much MommyCon tries to pass the savings on to their customers. They really try to make it worth it.

MommyCon’s Mystery boxes at a price of $19.99 are perfect to give as gifts or as a little something for yourself when you need a little pick me up.

Now for the review of the products…:)

Fluf Snack Pack Single – I am really trying hard to use more reusable snack bags and containers, and these reusable snack bags from Fluf are really nice. It has a place for you to write to whom it belongs to, and it has a Velcro closure.

Chicken Poop lip junk – I like these lip balms. So far, the Coconut one is my favorite, but I like all of them. I currently have 1 in my purse, 1 on my nightstand, and 1 in the bath room. The major plus about these lip balms are that they are all natural. The general ingredients, which might change a little depending on which one you purchase, are Avocado oil, jojoba, sweet orange, lavender essential oil, bees wax, and Vitamin E.

Motherlove Nipple Cream – I have actually used this nipple cream when exclusively pumping for my daughter. I found out that lanolin made my nipples itch, and I just really didn’t like the texture or smell. With MotherLove nipple cream I love everything about it. I love the smell, the texture, the fact that it is all natural, and that it does not need to be wiped off before breastfeeding again. It also won’t leave a weird film on your baby’s mouth after nursing. (Had this issue with Lanolin.) This nipple cream contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower

Siliskin cup top – Is a 100% silicone lid that transforms most cups into a spill proof cup. I think it is great for older kids and adults. (I have a 2-year-old and she likes to poke holes, or make straw holes bigger so I do not 100% trust her with my Siliskin cup top yet.) It will fit most cups, but some might be too wide. Also, if your cup or Siliskin is wet you might have a hard time getting the Siliskin to stay, but a quick wipe down and you are good to go.

Kind Bar – I don’t have a picture of the Kind Bar I got in the mystery box because I ate it right after my unboxing video. I am sorry, and not sorry at the same time since it was delicious. Haha! I got the Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt Bar, and it is actually my favorite Kind Bar flavor. You can’t go wrong with Kind Bars. You can get bars that are vegan, kosher, and gluten free. They have so many flavors make sure you check them all out.

North Coast Organics Death by Lavender natural deodorant – I have tried a couple natural deodorants for reviews and other then my staple I really like North Coast’s natural deodorant. It’s easy to apply, smells great, and is not harsh on under arms. I always like to remind people that the majority of natural deodorants are not antiperspirants so you will still sweat, but you will smell good. North Coast is no different.  Their website lists their Death by Lavender deodorant as, “…certified organic, certified vegan, certified cruelty-free, certified non-gmo, gluten-free, aluminum-free, soy-free…”, and made of “100% organic coconut oil, 100% organic carnauba wax, 100% organic arrowroot powder, 95% organic shea butter, aluminum-free, natural baking soda, & Organic Essential Oils (Lavender, Lemon, Cypress, Rosemary)”. What’s not to love?

Herban Essentials towelettes – These towelettes are awesome. I received the orange ones, but they also have lemon, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. I keep them in my diaper bag and have been using them instead of hand sanitizer. There are literally 4 ingredients in the towelettes, water, essential oil, tween 20, and radish root ferment. Less is more, and I definitely need more of these.

Make sure you grab yourself or a friend a MommyCon Mystery Box. I do not think you will be disappointed.


Parenting Is Hard, but Our Society Make’s It That Much Harder

Parenting Is Hard, but Our Society Make’s It That Much Harder

I am coming up on my second year of being a parent, and I am starting to really notice somethings that are really starting to get on my nerves. No, it’s not the terrible two’s tantrums, or the being tired from being pregnant with our second while having to run after our toddler. Or even the fact that I swear there are other people living in my house that aren’t cleaning up after themselves. (There is no way three people can make our house so dirty. Haha!) It’s other things. Like society that are getting on my nerves. Specifically, surrounding parents and their decisions. I will admit before I was a parent I did not notice a lot of what was going on in society. (It’s sad I know.) I was in my own single person world worried about paying my rent, going to school, and having fun. When I had my daughter it all changed. I was now concerned about our society because I was going to have to bring my daughter up in it, explain to her what was going on, and do this while also trying to navigate being a good parent. Being a parent is hard to begin with, but our society makes it that much harder to parent. How? Why? Because society also wants to parent our children for us.

Society and their “standards” as to what a parent should and shouldn’t do makes parenting that much harder. You can be verbally attacked and threatened for making decisions for your children just because someone else disagrees with your decision. As long as your child is happy, healthy, learning, and growing who cares?! Parents are judged in today’s society for so many things. If you choose to work and send your kids to daycare you are judged. If you choose to stay home with your kids you are judged. Society judge’s parents for their choices on how they dress their kids, if they give them high fructose corn syrup, feed them canned baby food, how and/if they vaccinate, what religion they raise their kids, if they use disposable diapers or cloth diapers, whether you breastfeed or not, they judge you on where you breastfeed and if you are showing too much boob for their liking, and the list goes on AND ON. Parents are now also being judged on how many children they have or want. (Sigh)

It is so easy now for people to sit behind their computers, hop on the internet, and judge other people. Well you know what? Words hurt people. Words can be more destructive than physical violence. You know those children who you are commenting about? Well they are watching, and they are going to grow up and your words can impact them because they will see them.

So as a parent, I say to you sanctimonious society who died and made you the boss? Who cares if a parent puts a safety harness backpack on their child. You don’t know them. Their child may be a runner. A mom wants to breastfeed her child in public. Who cares! Let her feed her child. You eat food in public, and a lot of you don’t look good doing it either. I don’t say anything though, because it’s your choice and right to do so. It is also the parents right and choice to decide to home school their children or send them to public or private school. Also, the goings on of a woman’s uterus is her own business. If she wants to have 1 child or 13. That is between her, her partner, and sometimes maybe her doctor. I could go on but society you get the picture.

To other parent’s I want to let you know you are doing a great job, and I wish society would tell you that more often. If other people’s comments start getting you down just remind yourself to chuck it in the f$%^ck it bucket, and then move on. I know it can be hard, but it will be worth it. Also, as a parent if you do run into a situation where another parent is doing something that might bring harm to their child then you should say something. An example, if a parent posts a picture of their child in a car seat but the child is not properly restrained then say something, but in a nice way. Or if another parent is wearing their child improperly in a baby carrier. Then nicely try to say something to them. Let them know you are also a parent and just want to help. Don’t be rude about it or write hurtful things. As parent’s we should be respectful of others and use common sense.

Let’s bring back a sense of neighborly community to our society. We are all parents trying to raise our children the best we can with what we have. Being a parent is already hard. Let’s not make it harder.


Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Recently I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook regarding the difference between making your own baby/toddler food and purchasing canned or pouch baby/toddler food. The comments on some of these posts have made me laugh and some have made me slightly angry due to the mommy shaming of those parents who decide to purchase pouch food for their kids. As a parent, I have done both. I started out making my daughter homemade baby food when she first started eating, and then switched to baby led weaning. Now that she is a toddler it can be hard sometimes to get her to want to eat anything other than French fries, pasta, rice, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets. While she does eat vegetables and I would not consider her a picky eater I still purchase pouch food for her every once in a while. I have to admit they are convenient to have when traveling and my daughter loves them. She views them as a treat. I am not ashamed to purchase them and feed them to my daughter, and neither should any parent. Sometimes it can be more expensive to purchase pouch food, and sometimes if you purchase them on sale, with coupons, and use coupon apps, like Ibotta, then pouch food can cost the same or sometimes less than making your own baby/toddler food. Which ones to choose for your little ones is up to you. I personally feel some are better than others, but there are so many to choose from.

When Shespeaks and Similac asked me if I would try the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches I said yes because I wanted to possibly be able to suggest another pouch food for parents since there are so many. Screenshot_20170713-181756I am happy to say that the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches did end up passing mine and my daughters 3-point inspection. When looking for any baby/toddler pouch or can food at the store I look at its ingredients, price (this includes how often they go on sale, available coupons, and coupon app rebate availability), and lastly my daughters taste test. There has been some pouch food that has passed the ingredients and price tests, but my daughter did not like them at all.

Ingredients: Before I purchased Go & Grow by Similac pouches I made sure to check the ingredients first. Screenshot_20170713-181948All of the pouches I saw/purchased were certified organic and only contained the fruits and vegetables listed on the front. They did have organic lemon juice and extra DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E added, but I am ok with that.

Price: The price per pouch was also fair. I went to Walmart and purchased several pouches at a price point of $1.32. I did not have any coupons for the pouches, but Similac does have a lot of coupons circulating and I am sure if you write to them they would send you some. I did find a rebate on Ibotta that I was able to claim twice, and I was also able to use their .25 cents off any purchase rebate as well. All in all, I spent $1.00 per pouch. (If I had actual coupons it could have been even cheaper.)

Taste: The last hurdle to pass was my daughters taste test. I gave her the Apple, Butternut Squash, Banana, and Blueberry pouch and the first word out of her mouth was “Yum!”. Screenshot_20170713-181829She pretty much finished that pouch off in less than 5 minutes. After she finished it she asked for more, but I told her she would have to wait. Haha! (She was not happy about that.) She also really liked the other flavors I had purchased which were Pear, Blueberry, and Spinach, as well as the Mango, Pear, and Spinach. We still have the Pumpkin, Banana, and Carrot one to try, but I am thinking she will like that one as well.

Result: The end result for our test showed that Go & Grow by Similac pouch food was another pouch food that we would be able to add to our approved list. It passes our 3-point test with flying colors.

 

As a parent, I want other parents to know that if you end up serving your child homemade baby/toddler food or if you purchase pouch or canned baby/toddler food its ok. Do what you feel is best for your children, family, and budget. Don’t worry about what others think or what they do. As my water bottle says, “Just Do You.”

  • If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Go & Grow by Similac Pouch food you can find them at Walmart here
  • Shespeaks.com is also having an awesome giveaway at SheSpeaks.com for a custom 12 x 12 photo book from Walmart photo valued at $50 (or a $50 Walmart Gift Card).
  • As I mentioned previously Ibotta also currently has a rebate for Go & Grow by Similac Pouches purchased at Walmart. You can find the rebate here.

Disclosure Statement: Even though this post was developed in partnership with Similac, and I did receive compensation, all opinions are my own. I am a parent myself and would never recommend a product I wouldn’t be comfortable using on or giving to my own child.


The Benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant Massage – An Interview with Genavieve B., LMT, CESMT

The Benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant Massage – An Interview with Genavieve B., LMT, CESMT

When I was pregnant with my daughter I had no idea how different, physically, my body would be during pregnancy, and then after giving birth. You can sit and talk all day with experienced mothers or read all of the pregnancy books about how your life and body is going to change during and afterward pregnancy, but it’s totally different when you actually experience it. The morning sickness, food cravings, body aches, hip/back/and belly pain, and physical changes can take their toll over 9 months. The discomfort and stress you feel after giving birth puts icing on the cake. Your new baby can also experience stress during the birthing process. (Yikes!) While not every woman experiences the same discomforts during pregnancy and after birth there are things you can do to alleviate the discomforts you, and your baby, do have. One of the ways is Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant massage. For this post, and my first ever interview, I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Genavieve B., a licensed massage therapist also certified in Prenatal and Infant Massage, to find out from her the benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant massages.

Q. Is there any difference, other than the use of extra support, between a traditional massage and a prenatal massage?

A. “There are quite a few different things about a traditional massage and a prenatal massage. Those that are trained and certified as prenatal massage therapists have been taught the do’s and don’ts of performing massages on expecting mothers. Having additional and specialized pillows for support are just a few of those things. We are also taught about different contraindications or reasons to not work on women who are expecting as well as specific pressure points to avoid during a massage that some feel may trigger contractions, and aroma therapy notes (Essential oils) that should not be used with pregnant or nursing women.”

Q. Why do massage therapists suggest you not get a massage during your first trimester?

A. “The main reason many massage therapists will not work on a woman in her first trimester is because at that point the pregnancy is fragile, and we would feel terrible if there was any chance we would have a negative effect on someone’s pregnancy. These trends seem to have shifted a bit, and some therapists will work on the expecting mothers in the first trimester as long as the expecting mother agrees. Many medical professionals argue that massage doesn’t have enough of an effect on the body to alter the pregnancy in any way, however, many therapists like myself would rather play it safe for all parties and wait out the first trimester.”

Q. What are the health benefits of prenatal massages? 

A. “Massages are a blessing to add to any pregnancy. It helps relieve stress in general, relieve the joint and muscle fatigue that can cause sciatica, low back pain, edema especially in the legs, headaches, and various other aches and pains that come further along in pregnancy. It helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks, strengthens the immune system by keeping the circulatory and lymphatic systems active, and most of all it will help with insomnia.”

Q. How often would you recommend women get prenatal massages?

A. “The frequency of massage depends on each individual no matter if they are pregnant or not. In general, I always suggest one massage a month. For more complex clients it is often more frequent than that. For example, if you are having edema, or sciatica that are persistent or worsening you may want to get a massage more often. Your therapist will be able to better design a specialized plan just for you as you get closer to the delivery of your bundle of joy.”

Q. What should women do/look out for after a prenatal massage other than the regular advice of drinking more water?

A. “Other than drinking plenty of water it is also important that you pay attention to your body and how it reacts to the massage not just afterwards but also during the session. If anything seems a bit off trust your intuition and take the appropriate steps that you feel are necessary. A great massage therapist will never condemn you for trusting your gut as we also rely quite a bit on our sixth sense. If there are any problems that arise after the session it’s important that you contact your doctor, and we always appreciate feedback, good or bad, to enhance your future experiences and even the future experiences of other clients.”

Q. Are there any benefits to postnatal massages other than stress relief? 

A. “Postnatal massages help with so much more than stress. They help your body recover quicker after birth. After C-sections, it’s important that the body heals before any work is done on the scars but massage is a great way to decrease the appearance and sensitivity of scar tissue. The process of having deep scar tissue worked on can feel very foreign and its important you communicate openly with your therapist about any sensations or feelings you have. Massage does help to make sure that the circulatory and lymphatic systems are working in tip-top shape, and that will help to stave off any blockages when breastfeeding. If a blockage does occur it can also help to break it up before it becomes a larger problem.”

Q. How long after giving birth would you recommend women wait before getting their first postnatal massage? 

A. “Once you are cleared by your physician you are welcome to hop right up onto a massage table. For those who have a C-section it can take 6-8 weeks to get clearance simply because you have undergone a surgery, and with surgeries comes other risk factors like blood clots. No good massage therapist will work on any post-surgery client before those 6-8 weeks are up. That isn’t limited to just C-sections, but surgeries like joint replacements, elective plastic surgeries, and any other incision or puncture style surgery. I understand this can be irritating at times, but again many therapists will err on the side of caution in an effort to do no harm.”

Q. We went to a Cranial Sacral Therapist for my daughter due to breastfeeding issues, and learned that babies need stress relief sometimes as well. What are the benefits, and how young can a child be to receive an infant massage?

A. “As long as the pediatrician has no objections you’re welcome to have an infant massage performed within 24 hours of birth. When I perform an infant massage, I bring with me a doll and demonstrate and teach parents how to do the massage for their new baby. (My niece currently cares for and has named my doll Baby Sister. You can see that she isn’t so secretly hoping for my sister to have another baby girl for her to play with.) Infant massage helps with so many things. I highly suggest putting on your registry, or buying for yourself, the book Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala McClure. She is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and her book outlines for parents how to give massages to their infants and how it helps with not just stress for the infant, but also helps with colicky babies, digestive issues, and a large variety of other conditions parents may be faced with. The one thing it helps with that I focus on the most is the parent-child bond. By touching your child with love and care it helps to solidify your bond and soothes them when they are stressed. The best part is that the baby lotion you have on hand is perfect to use. I never suggest using any essential oils or massage lotions or oils to be used on children for many reasons especially in case of there being any allergies or sensitivities. Their little growing bodies aren’t in a position to handle negative reactions that they can cause.”

Q. Are there certain certifications or other qualifications women/parents should look for in their massage therapists?

A. “I always suggest anyone looking for a specific type of massage to make sure that the person they are going to is certified and/or has the extra training to provide those services. A therapist doesn’t have to have a certification to work on a pregnant mother, however, I do suggest it for peace of mind. There are lots of other modalities or services that can help that a massage therapist might be trained or certified in. For example, not only am I certified in prenatal and infant massage but also because of my work with athletes I have also gotten a certification in kinesio-taping which can be used to help with edema and can be used to create a flexible belly girdle of sorts to more evenly disperse the weight in later months. The most important thing is to ask questions, trust your instincts, and if you’re concerned make sure that your doctor is OK with it.”

Q. Lastly, are there any read flags women/parents should be aware of just in case? 

A. “Overall it is important that the parents feel comfortable, and that the baby is safe in all forms of prenatal and postnatal massage. If something doesn’t feel right trust your instincts and don’t feel bad about it. Even if that means getting to the appointment and walking in just to decide to cancel. (Keep in mind many businesses have a policy for last-minute cancellations, but if it doesn’t feel right don’t force it.) Yours and the baby’s comfort are of the utmost importance when it comes to getting a massage. The best therapist is going to ask you questions about your pregnancy or about your newborn baby, taking notes as they go, and may even have you fill out an extra form or two. Being as candid as possible will ensure that you’re all getting the best experience possible. I say all because the therapist you choose will for that session, and any that may come after, be a part of your experience and we do get great fulfillment from our jobs especially when we can help someone in need. All-in-all: ask questions, be candid, and trust your instincts.”

me at cafe

About Genavieve: “I’ve been practicing massage since 2010. My very first continuing education class was in infant massage and later on I followed it up with a certification in prenatal. In addition to working with growing families I have also specialized with athletes of all kinds as well as chronic pain management. I challenge myself to actively keep learning and currently offer a variety of techniques tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Every morning it’s a blessing to get to wake up and go to work simply because I absolutely love what I do.” Genavieve currently practices out of the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. You can learn more about what services she offers on her website Genaration Sports Therapies and find her on Facebook Here and Instagram Here

Side Note: I want to thank Genavieve for letting me interview her for this post. I certainly learned somethings I never knew before about the benefits of prenatal, postnatal and infant massage, and I hope you did as well. Please excuse me while I go and schedule some massages for myself. Haha! 🙂


 

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – Visiting St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – Visiting St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

St. Thomas will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I will always want to keep going back. It is my favorite Caribbean Island, and not just because I was married there. The island, I believe, is one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. DSC_0206 (2)I have yet to find beaches, on other Caribbean Islands I have visited, that top beaches I have been to on St. Thomas. The best part about St. Thomas is it’s a US Territory and, if you are an American Citizen, you do not need a passport to travel there. (If you are cruising then you will want to get a passport card for all of your itinerary stops.) Below are just some of the beaches and activities you should check out when traveling to St. Thomas.

Brewers Bay Beach: If you are looking for a beach where you can sun bath or discover some local old sugar factories than Brewers Bay is your place to go. DSC_0113There is not a lot of shade or other amenities around, but the waters are calm and crystal clear. (Because there is not much shade please make sure to wear the proper attire and sunscreen.) The beach is located near the Cyril E. King Airport, and a little way away from the cruise ship port. If you are looking to get married in St. Thomas I highly recommend Brewers Bay Beach as a destination wedding location.

Magens Bay: If you are traveling to St. Thomas then visiting Magens Bay is a must. Like Brewers Bay Beach, the waters of Magens bay are calm and crystal clear. 20170310_102528There are a lot more amenities available to those visiting Magens Bay. There is food, water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling, and you can also do a little bit of shopping. Since it is a public park there is a small fee to enter, but if you are visiting the beach via a cruise excursion the fee is usually included in your excursion cost. I promise you will enjoy relaxing on the beach cocktail in hand, and then taking a dip in the cool waters.

Other places to visit: If you are looking for more interactive activities then make sure to check out Coral World Ocean Park, take an ecotour where you get to hike, kayak, and snorkel, or go shopping. You have the ability to visit other close islands, such as Tortola, via ferry rides. just make sure you bring your passport.

Things to prepare yourself for: If you are cruising to St. Thomas with children I want to make you aware of how driving in taxis with children works. Taxi drivers in the Caribbean are some of the best drivers I have seen and had the pleasure of driving with. Taxis in St. Thomas, like many other Caribbean islands, are a mix of small cars, vans, and open-air taxis. In my experience, traveling with a child, none of the taxis I have taken or come across have had car seats. On St. Thomas, they drive on the left hand side of the road and the roads can get very steep. While it is like a roller coaster ride for adults it can be slightly scary for smaller kids or parents. While I have no problem hopping into an open-air taxi on St. Thomas I urge you to use your own discretion. If you are uncomfortable driving in taxis with no car seats then renting a car is an option for you as long as you are comfortable driving on the steep hills and the opposite side of the road. When renting a car, you should be able to rent car seats, or I recommend bringing your own, but if you are cruising that is a lot to carry/store. As always, I recommend doing some research on the locations you will be visiting, and map out your vacation/needs. I also suggest researching cost of taxis to make sure you have enough cash on hand.

Above all clear out your photos on your camera to make room for more, and pack a lot of sunscreen! Happy Cruising!


Trying to Conceive? How to Make the Two Week Wait a Little Less Stressful

Trying to Conceive? How to Make the Two Week Wait a Little Less Stressful

Screenshot_20170522-140152Trying to conceive (TTC) can/is stressful. Especially if you have been trying for a while. For some women, it’s like all they have to do it kiss their significant other and they are pregnant. For other’s it can take years of trying, many miscarriages, fertility treatments, invitro, and more to just become pregnant. I will say it again. Trying to conceive can/is stressful. The two-week wait (TWW) alone can seem like years. Counting down your day’s past ovulation (DPO) till you can test is part of the stress. I will freely admit I am one of those women who love to pee on pregnancy tests. There is a slight thrill of peeing on a stick and watching to see if the second line shows up. When you are TTC if the second line doesn’t show up it is devastating. Doctors tell women if they are under the age of 35 they should TTC for a year, over 35 its 6 months, before scheduling an appointment with their doctor to look for reasons why they are having issues. Do you know how many 2 week waits that is?! That is 12 TWW’s which is 24 weeks, slightly less than half a year, of stressful waiting for a woman to know if she has gotten pregnant. For some women, it can take years to conceive. If it takes a woman 3 years of actively trying to conceive then she will have waited 72 weeks, more than a year, waiting to see if she has gotten pregnant. While I cannot alleviate every woman’s TWW stress below are some tips that may help some.

Track your ovulation: Many women do not know when they ovulate or even if they do ovulate. A lot of women assume that since they are menstruating they are ovulating. This is not the case. When starting to TTC I would suggest tracking your cycle, basal body temperature, and cervical mucus to make sure you are ovulating. (You can also use ovulation test sticks, but they can get pricey and tracking your cervical mucus is free.) You may find out you do not ovulate every month, and in that case, you have evidence to take to your doctor early to try to get some answers. You could also find out you are ovulating at different times during your cycle. By tracking when you ovulate you can increase your chances of conception by having intercourse around when you ovulate. I highly recommend reading and researching the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. You can also find her website Here. Being knowledgeable in regards to your cycle, ovulation, and tracking intercourse, through an app like fertility friend, can relieve some TWW stress because you will know if you had intercourse around when you ovulated. You will be able to see if your chances of conception that month look good or if you missed the mark. (I personally have used the book Taking Charge of your fertility and the app Fertility friend, and have gotten pregnant. Knowledge is key!)

Spend time with friends/Get out of the house – You can relieve some TWW stress by spending time with friends and getting out of the house. Doing this will occupy your brain and take your mind off of the stress. Another thing you can do is talk with your friends about your worries, struggles, or concerns if that will help you as well. (I personally loved to get out and exercising to take my mind of the TWW.)

Read a good book or book series: Remember when you were younger and had the time to sit and read for hours? Reading is a great way to reduce stress and help take your mind off of your TWW. Find a book or book series and get swept away. If you don’t have a couple of hours a day to spare try listening to audio books.

Take a TTC breather: Stress can wreak havoc on your body and play games with your mind. Stress has been known to delay a woman’s period, and when you are TTC this can be even more stressful. If you have been TTC for a while with no luck then try to take a step back. Take a month or two to just enjoy your partner and the baby making experience.

When to see your doctor: If you go to your doctor when you first start TTC ask them what their policies are regarding how long you are supposed TTC, with no luck, before talking with them about further testing. Like I mentioned above most doctors want you to try for at least a year, if you are under the age of 35 and over 35 it’s at least 6 months, before seeking out further testing to find out why you aren’t conceiving. Your doctor will be able to go over your medical history though and let you know if there are any health issues you have that might hinder your ability to conceive.

Lastly, if it helps go ahead and pee on those sticks. I know for me personally sometimes just taking a pregnancy test relieved some stress during the TWW. Other times it made it worse. If peeing on a stick will help I say go for it. It can get a little pricey if you are going to do it multiple times so I suggest purchasing pregnancy tests in bulk. You can find usually find bulk packs online or Wal-Mart has 0.88 cent tests. I wish all the baby dust on you! How are some ways that you try to reduce your stress during the TWW?