Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hanging Bats Craft

With Halloween approaching, I have embraced my artsy side and scoured the internet for fun decorations to make with kids. These Hanging Halloween Bats are definitely my favorite. They are super easy, require basic materials and the kids can do most of it themselves. Here's  how we made our bats step by step.

Materials needed:
Cardboard toilet paper rolls
Black construction paper or card stock
Black paint
Googly eyes
White paint
Black or brown pipe cleaners
Bat wing template (optional)
Hole punch

 Cut and paint

To start, paint the toilet paper tubes and give them time to dry.
I let my girls do the painting and drew the wings while they were busy. I cut two sets of wings out as back ups incase they messed up. My 3 year old hasn't quite mastered cutting on the lines.
While the tubes dried they cut and painted the wings. I cut two triangles from cardstock for them to paint as ears.
Let everything dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Once everything has dried, glue the tube to the bat wings. On the front of the tube glue on the googly eyes and glue the ears to the inside of the tube. Paint on a smile and tiny fangs and let dry.
You then want to use a hole punch to place  to holes at the bottom of the tube right below the wings. Cut a pipe cleaner in half and insert through the holes. These are the bat's legs.
From here you can hang using the legs or use another pipe cleaner to create a loop for hanging from doorknobs.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Natural Birth vs Epidural: Both Sides of the Birthing Ball


Most pregnant women are faced with the decision of having a natural or medicated birth. As mothers, we all want what is best for our babies, as well as for us. There are several factors to consider in making such an important decision; possible complications with the pregnancy or birth, family opinions and pressures, fear and anxiety, as well as personal beliefs. Yet, there are no right answers on how to plan for the birth of your baby. Sometimes our plans change and that is okay, too. I’ve been faced with the task of weighing out the pros and cons of these choices, and experienced the good and bad of both.

   When I became pregnant with my eldest daughter, I immediately knew that I wanted a natural birthing experience. I spent most of my pregnancy reading about pain management, breathing exercises, and visualization techniques. Despite having wanted to be prepared, I never went to birthing classes. I didn’t believe I needed them. I mean, how much learning is needed to give birth? I thought I knew it all.  I didn’t,  and maybe I should have taken the birthing classes, after all. I wasn’t scared of the pain and I had thought I had researched all the possibilities on my own. I was scheduled to be induced. However, the day I was to be induced, I began contracting on my own on the way to the hospital. My doctor advised stopping my contractions to begin the induction process. I continued to contract, so I was administered a Pitocin drip and began the wait. As the contractions intensified I walked laps around the L&D ward, bounced away on a birthing ball, and listened to relaxing music to cope with the pain, just like I had studied. I was doing great. At least until I hit the 21-hour mark. By that point I was exhausted, bed-bound due to internal monitoring of the baby, and had only dilated to 7 cm. All I wanted was sleep. I finally caved and asked for an epidural. I thought with an epidural I could sleep for an hour or two and would be energized for delivery. Boy, was I wrong! I very quickly dilated to a 10 and was ready to push. I could feel the pressure of my body trying to push while waiting for the doctor but not an ounce of pain. My beautiful daughter was born only 7 minutes later. I was so happy with my experience; pain free and fairly quick. I did great after delivery and I never second guessed my decision.

   The birth experience of my first was like a drug I had become addicted to. Knowing what sweet relief I could get from the epidural, I wanted it as soon as the pain intensified with my second child. I went into labor on my own and had my second baby girl after only 4 1/2 hours. However, the epidural was a completely different experience this time. The epidural had been placed incorrectly and had only numbed my right side. The medical team increased the dosage of medication I was receiving in the epidural and rolled me to my left side in an effort  to numb both sides. However, this left the right side of my lower body numb for hours after the epidural should have worn off. The evening I was released to go home my right leg went completely numb while carrying my newborn daughter to bed and I collapsed.  I continued to experience extreme back pain at the epidural site accompanied by random numbness in my right leg.  I experienced pain for months and truly turned against my own decision. I was accepting of my original plan changing, but this was not okay. It was a terrifying experience and I swore that I would never have an epidural again.

   Two years later I conceived my son. My pregnancy with him was a bit more complicated and uncomfortable, but I stayed firm on my decision to never have another epidural. I would not cave this time. I decided that there was no way I would put my child, or myself, at risk again. I used my disappointment from my last birthing experience to strengthen my resolve, and I made it through. My water broke naturally, in the middle of the night, and excitement flowed through me for what was to come. I was, once again, given Pitocin as my contractions stalled. I relied on the same pain management techniques as with my first. I walked the halls, took countless showers, and bounced on one of those giant birthing balls for hours. As my body prepared to push, I climbed into bed, plugged in my earbuds, and started listening to the most relaxing music I could find; Loreena McKennitt, 'Mystic's Dream', if anyone is interested. I visualized each contraction as a wave rocking through my body and I knew the end was near. I instantly knew when I was ready to push. Power surged through me and I was filled with confidence in my body's ability. I felt like a warrior. Pushing was the easy part; every push dulled the pain of the contractions.  Then, he crowned. I won't sugar coat the pain in that; it was horrifying. Though it felt like hours, in reality it was over in a flash. I pulled my son from my body and everything else disappeared. I had just accomplished my biggest goal. I had  a non-medicated birth.

   While all three of my birthing experiences were amazing in their own way; there are some significant differences. Remember, I said that the epidural was like an addictive drug? Well, so was birthing naturally. The body can do amazing things; the hormones that surged through my body when my son was born were better than any drug I can imagine. It was truly beautiful and magical. I have such a deep connection with all my children but the level of emotion was heightened with my son. It’s almost indescribable and now, I know that I will never cave again. I know that I can do it. I know what my body is capable of, and I know that nothing is more amazing than creating, nurturing, and delivering an adorable tiny human, whom you will love and cherish forever.

   No matter what you choose, own it. Don't feel bad if you cave for an epidural. I don't. I am glad I had both experiences. I learned that plans can change, that there is no shame in giving in to fear or pain,  to trust and believe in myself. What better way to be informed than to live it? Make your birth experience how you want it to be and believe in yourself. Do what you believe is best for your child, your body,  and your mind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Successful Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is hard. There is no denying that fact. Even people who are lucky enough to have very few issues, like myself, can admit that it’s hard. Breastfeeding is emotional, and often times painful. It is lonely and exhausting. But it is also the most wonderful thing in the world. With persistence, dedication, and the right support breastfeeding can become a bit more feasible than you’d think. According to the CDC, 83.2% of babies born in 2015 received breastmilk at one point, however, only 24.9% of those babies were exclusively breastfed through 6 months old and only 35.9% were breastfed through 12 months old. I think it is amazing that breastfeeding rates are climbing, but I can’t help but notice how many mothers quit because it is too difficult or they don’t receive the support or education they need. That is why I am writing this. I have heard from many women that they wanted to breastfeed their babies but couldn’t due to low milk supply, tongue tie, postpartum depression, and pain. Here are some of the common problems women face with breastfeeding and advice to help overcome them.

Low milk supply

        Low milk supply seems to be one of the most common reasons for women to give up breastfeeding in the early days. A lot of women don’t know that breastmilk takes a few days to come in and they get discouraged thinking they aren’t producing enough. Other women have complications with child birth or premature babies, which can have a massive effect on milk supply.  The most important thing for moms who want to breastfeed  to remember is to not be bullied into supplementing with formula and don’t get discouraged. It is important to know that in the first few day it is completely normal for your baby to lose a little. This doesn’t necessarily mean your supply is low. Watch your baby’s urine output to get a clearer picture.  
If you do have a low supply contact a certified lactation consultant. A lactation consultant is a great resource for all breastfeeding issues. Most hospitals with a maternity ward will have a lactation consultant on staff.
If not, your doctor should be able to help you find one. The next thing you should do is check your baby’s latch. The next thing you can try is using galactogogues. These are herbs that help to boost supply. I personally, used Mother’s milk Tea, but herbs like fenugreek and blessed thistle are easy to come by. Oatmeal is also great for boosting supply and there are several recipes online for lactation cookies. Pumping is also helpful. Pumping can be difficult in it’s own ways, but once you get the hang of it pump both sides after offering your baby the breast. It’s extremely important to continue offering your baby the breast at the first sign of hunger and to offer both sides.

Latching Problems

   Incorrect latching is a huge problem with breastfeeding. Here is what a correct latch should look like.

To get a correct latch, grasp your breast with one hand at the areola and squish your breast into a ‘c’ shape. Aim to get as much of the breast into baby's mouth as you can. Ensure the baby's lips are flared out by using a finger on the bottom lip first. For fussy and irritated babies try letting them suck on a clean finger before offering the breast, or squeeze a drop of milk onto their lip. This will help calm them so they fully open their mouth. The key is to get as much of your breast tissue in your baby’s mouth as you can. Being comfortable is vital for  proper latch. Experiment with different positions, so you and your baby can be as comfortable as possible.

Babies with lip or tongue tie often have problems latching and breastfeeding. If you suspect it may be a problem be sure to have your baby examined. The sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner your baby can relearn how to eat. Cranio-sacral therapy can be effective in improving your baby’s latch. Don’t give up on your breastfeeding relationship. Be patient as you and your baby relearn together.


As I said earlier, breastfeeding can hurt. It is common for women to experience nipple pain, cracked nipples, and sometimes bleeding. Ensure your baby has a proper latch, as most pain is related to other issues. Keep your nipples clean and allow them to air dry to prevent infections and thrush. It is also helpful to use a non-lanolin nipple cream. Mastitis is another very common problem. Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue, usually caused by a clogged duct. There are several remedies for this extremely painful problem. Try taking warm showers and alternate hot and cold compresses. Nurse your baby as often as possible and if you can have your baby's chin point towards the clog. Dangle feeding is also helpful, as you relieve the pressure and let gravity pull the milk down. Use gentle massages down toward the nipple and be sure to rest. Mastitis can be very taxing on the body, so rest is crucial.

There are many great resources for breastfeeding moms to get help. If you want to have a breastfeeding relationship with your baby don’t give up. It's possible with the right help and support. Below are my favorite resources to answer all breastfeeding questions.


Monday, September 24, 2018

My Family's Thoughts on Smoothie Bowls

   I've seen recipes for smoothie bowls all over the internet, so I decided to try it out this morning. I have to say, it's worth all the hype. I made this smoothie bowl for my 3 year old daughter. What was left I divided up for my husband and myself. I might have also, given a little to the baby. It was amazing. There is something about a healthy breakfast that really makes you feel good, and I'm not a breakfast person. My daughter was enthralled with the bright colors of this super simple breakfast. Here's the recipe I used:
Smoothie mix
1 frozen banana
5 frozen strawberries
1/2 cup strawberry Greek yogurt
2 tbsp acai berry powder
1/2 cup milk )I prefer whole milk but any kind will do. Coconut milk is a good alternative)
Place the the smoothie ingredients into a blender and blend until ssmooth. You want it to be thick and not runny. Pour the smoothie into a bowl.
I used a sliced banana, fresh raspberries, chia seeds, granola with almonds, 1 tsp of bee pollen, and a drizzle of almond butter.
Chia seeds provide a nice kick of protein, plenty of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, the bee pollen is a great immune booster, and the almond butter is another great protein source.
These smoothie bowls are amazing because you can customize your recipe to your taste and they are packed with healthy goodness! The bright colors make children love them and they think they are getting a treat when they are really getting a nutritious breakfast. If you've been on the fence about making your own, I recommend you do! Share your smoothie bowl recipes below! I might add coconut next time!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Confessions of a Broke Mom

  Yesterday, my 5 year old walked up and asked me for a new toy, again. There's been a few toys that she really wants and they just so happen to be horribly expensive. This was in that category. So, in typical broke-mom fashion, I said she could wait for Christmas. Well, this was simply unacceptable. She absolutely can not wait. This is life or death, here! I managed to swallow down my frustration, explain for the 3,557,657th time why she needs to wait until Christmas because, "If I buy you everything you want now you'll get no presents later,"etc, etc. Then, I walked outside. I just needed a minute to clear my mind, gain perspective. That's when it hit me, everything emotion my parents probably felt when I was a kid. You see, growing up we didn't have a lot of money. I can remember wanting the big expensive toys. I remember my mom and dad giving me the same excuses I give my girls.  As I got older I can remember learning about money and how hard my parents worked for us kids. But I never really understood. Not the way I do now. My mom used to always say the phrase, "You'll understand when you're a parent." Well, guess what mom, I do. I do understand now and I am so sorry for any time I was ungrateful.
  There is a feeling deep down inside that parents get when they feel they've let their kids down. You know the one, right? I'm not saying you should give your kids everything they want, but sometimes when you have to say "no" to every single thing, it can really get you down. It's that feeling that you aren't good enough. I think every parent gets that feeling at some point and it sucks. We all want our kids to have a better life than we did. I had a pretty great childhood thanks to my parents. It makes me set the bar higher for myself. My childhood was great and their's will be better. It stings when you feel you're failing your own expectations. But after the incident with my daughter, while I was feeling down about myself and thankful toward my parents, my sister sat down and gave me a nice little lecture. She told me to stop being so hard on myself and how great I am as a mom. I could tell it wasn't just empty platitudes but a sincere, heartfelt assessment. It helped me swallow my pride and see things clearly. It's not about the things I provide for my children. It's about the the memories, the happiness, the future I set them up for. If you ever find yourself feeling subpar because you have to say "no" remember that. One day they will understand and one day they will say thank you. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Baby-led Weaning for the Paranoid Parent

Photo by Sydney Troxell from Pexels
  With my first two children I knew nothing about baby-led weaning. I didn't even know it was a thing until I had my third. Now, he is 9 months old and the only pureed foods we use is for pancake mix and oatmeal. When I first started baby led weaning I watched my son like a hawk, constantly fearing he would choke. If you have similar worries you're not alone.  At first I followed our pediatricians advice to the "T". No food was bigger than my son's pinkie finger. It only took a couple of days for me to realize this was going overboard, so I hopped on Google and did some research. Becoming educated was the best thing I could do to eliminate my fears. Here's the most useful, mind- easing tips to start your journey.
  • Gagging is natural. When your baby first begins eating solid foods they ARE going to gag. Relax. Don't jump forward sweeping your baby up in a panic. This will just traumatize them. Instead pay attention and wait a moment. Your baby will continuously get better at clearing the food from their throat and eating without gaging. Remember, that gagging does not mean choking.
  • Don't be afraid of spices. Seriously. There is nothing wrong with introducing spice to your child's life. Watch out for salt content but a few spices wont hurt. By introducing different seasonings at an early age your child will be more likely to enjoy those foods later in life.
  • Cutting the food. When I first started baby led weaning I cut everything into microscopic pieces and it made meal prep a tedious chore. Then I stumbled across the website,, which provides visuals for how to cut up foods for your baby. A lot of foods are great cut up into thin strips perfect for little hands.
  • Nutrition matters. When implementing baby led weaning be sure to pay attention to what they are eating. It is important to provide plenty of iron rich foods. Don't rush your baby during meal time. Give them plenty of time to eat as much of the food as they want and don't stop with formula or breast milk. Breast fed babies are also advised to take a daily iron supplement.
With these tips in mind set off on you're BLW adventure and enjoy it! Before long your baby will be feeding themselves and meal times will be a breeze. Also, check out for some amazing BLW recipes! If you have any BLW tips share in the comments.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Stress Free Guide to Sick Kids

  Here we are,  mid September. It's a frigid 60 degrees here and my sinuses hate me. It's not just my sinuses either, my entire family has gone into snot mode. It freaking sucks. Now, I love fall! I'm not a pumpkin spice latte kind of girl and I don't own uggs, but I do enjoy the beauty,  feastiveness,  and clean crisp air of the season. However, it also happens to be cold and flu season. At four o'clock this morning the first wave of snot induced vomiting and sore throats began and I'm dreading what's to come. Fortunately, I've become a pro at handling the less desirable parts of the season, mostly stress free. Here's my tips for handling sick kids (and husband) with a lot less stress. I'll also debunk some common cold myths while we're at it!

 The most important thing you can do is prepare yourself. Here, I'll help. "You're going to get covered in bodily fluids and germs! You're going to be fine. You're kids will be fine. You're husband might not be fine, because seriously, the man-cold is the deadliest disease in existence. There's no need to stress!" Okay, so there's the mantra you will repeat to yourself for the next several months. Let's move on.

  Stock up ahead of time. Seriously! Nothing is worse than realizing in the middle of the night that you don't have supplies. Run to the store and grab some tissues, saline, Tylenol, water and sore throat pops now. I also recommend a few bottles of Zarbees, which brings us to our first myth. A lot of people believe that coughing is bad, but it's actually great for clearing the lungs. Don't buy a cough suppressant unless directed by a doctor. I use Zarbees to help soothe the cough but not eliminate it.

  Watch for the signs. The moment your child starts gagging on snot, grab your saline spray and moisten things up. It also helps to get steamy. Let them spend time hanging out in the bathroom while you take your scorching hot shower. I'm not the only mom that likes hot showers, right? Turn the vent off and let the steam work on their snotty little noses. Take this time for yourself, too. Relaxation is important.

  Keep them distracted. Just because a child is sick doesn't mean they are bed bound. It's okay to spend a little extra time in bed, I even recommend it. Enjoy those cuddles, mama, but don't let your child get overwhelmed by the sickness. Read books, build forts, break out the arts and crafts, even go outside a little. Did you know going outdide in the cold doesn't make you sick? That's another myth. Bundle your baby up nice and warm and let them have fun. I've learned that my girls are much less whiny if they are distracted.

  Be sympathetic. It's sometimes hard to remember to be sympathetic. I've caught myself telling my daughter "It's just a cold! You're not dying!" That's not helpful. When kids don't feel good they need a little extra love and cuddles. Remind yourself of that and keep your cool. Try to make your child laugh, be a kid yourself, spend a few extra minutes rubbing their back at bed time. Just show them you understand and it's going to be okay.

  Stay healthy. Do whatever you can to keep them from getting worse. Increase their water intake or add in some Gatorade. Still offer nutritious meals, but have some homemade chicken soup on hand. Chicken contains antibodies that can help fight infection. Add some vegetable broth or fresh veggies to provide a ton of vitamins and nutrients. Avoid store bought soup, as the sodium content is ridiculous. Make frequent handwashing a priority and remember to have them cough in their arm rather than your face.

  Don't overmedicate. I've hand many people look at me like I'm crazy if I don't immediately offer Tylenol for a fever. Here's why, though. When you have a fever your body's immune system is working and a low grade fever is not dangerous. Sudden spikes and drops in temperature can be a problem but not simply having a 100 degree fever for an hour. Monitor their temperatures. If it remains high for several hours, offer Tylenol to bring it down but watch it first. Most fevers will break on their own.

  Once again, the most important thing is to relax. Mom's don't get sick days (isn't that a Dayquil commercial), so, don't stress yourself out and tax your body.

*Be advised, I am not a doctor and it's always best to consult with a doctor for medical advice.

Hanging Bats Craft

With Halloween approaching, I have embraced my artsy side and scoured the internet for fun decorations to make with kids. These Hanging ...