Thursday, June 30, 2011

ERGObaby Carrier Review & Giveaway CLOSED

I think I've unlocked one of the greatest secrets to minimal stress parenting with a baby.  Yep, it's true.  This new Mama has a great secret that I'm about to share with you all! 

I've previously posted about my most recommended baby items (birth to 4 months and 4 months to 8 months), and those posts have been very popular.  I know when I was a new mom I read reviews and asked other moms what their favorite products were. 

I think as moms we are looking for stuff to make our lives normal and natural, all while being convenient and getting the most for our money AND while still taking care of our babies.

In honor of my daughter India's first birthday, I've chosen ONE item that I have deemed as a must-have, and amazingly, this company has offered to do a giveaway!  If you are only going to choose one item from my Top Ten lists, or want to know what the most useful item is with a new baby, this is the item!
My daughter at 6 months, in my favorite baby item: an ERGO baby carrier

Why do I think the ERGO baby carrier is the number one item that every parent should have?
  • Baby can nurse, sleep and take in the world while being close to parents
  • Baby decides who, how and when to interact
  • Mom gets a lot done
  • Instantly calms child
  • Comforting for both parents and child
  • Ergonomically designed to safely carry your child
  • Baby's weight is evenly distributed, no soreness or discomfort!
  • Suitable from birth to toddlerhood
  • One size fits most adults
  • Can be put on without any outside assistance
  • Multiple carry positions: back carry, front carry, hip carry

When India was younger, she loved being nestled close to mein the front carry and took many naps in the ERGO carrier while I was doing dishes, laundry, cooking, and going on walks.  Now, at almost 12 months old, she loves the back carry, in which she can look around and take part in everything, but still be close to me!

Those are just a few of the reasons why I love the ERGO baby carrier and recommend it as the number one baby item for parents!  This is an investment that is highly useful and I consider it not only my number one, must-have baby item, but one of the most useful things in my house!

Buy it!

ERGO has many great designs and colors! Go check them out, you won't be sorry!

Win it!

ERGO has graciously offered one Uniquely Normal Mom reader an ERGO baby carrier of their choice (excluding the Petunia Pickle Bottom designs. Open to US & Canada addresses only)!

Mandatory Entry:

Visit ERGO and tell me which carrier you would pick if you won! Make sure you leave you email address!

Additional Entries (leave a separate comment for each, each worth one entry unless specified):

1. 'Like' Uniquely Normal Mom on Facebook

2. 'Like' ERGO baby carrier on Facebook and tell them Uniquely Normal Mom sent you

3. Subscribe to Uniquely Normal Mom via email (3 entries, on right hand side of blog)

4. Tell me how an ERGO baby carrier would help you and why you want to win this

5. Share this post on Facebook, stumbleupon, Buzz, whatever, and leave the link in the comment

6. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Google Friend Connect

7. Follow ERGO baby on Twitter

8. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Twitter

9. Tweet the following, or something similar (one entry per day):
    #Win an @ERGObaby carrier! #Giveaway on @uniquelynormal1

10. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Networked Blogs

11. Blog about this giveaway and leave the link in the comment (5 entries)

The details: Giveaway ends on Friday, July 15th at 11:59 AM CST.  Winner will be chosen at random via  Winner will be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

I received no compensation from ERGO baby for this review and giveaway, this is my honest love for ERGO baby carriers!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Stealing Great Grandma's Walker

*India proceeded to take this up and down the hallways, stopping by each room, waving and saying 'hi', before taking off again!


Monday, June 27, 2011

GladRags Pantyliner Review & Giveaway CLOSED

The winner is comment #52, Megan!  Congratulations!  I'm sure you will love your GladRags pantyliners!  To all who participated, thank you!

I've mentioned before that we use cloth for pretty much everything.  At home, we very rarely use paper towels, disposable eatery, napkins, disposable diapers, etc.  

Also included in that list is cloth menstrual products.

I know, I've lost many of you with that last bit of information.  But please, hear me out - it's not as bad as you think!  I promise!

Disposable products are not only a waste financially (I've said it before, but we spend more money on disposable products than we give to the homeless. Ouch.) and harmful to the environment, but filled with known toxins. 

Exposing the most sensitive and vulnerable areas of your body to a wad of dry, bleached, chemical-laden paper isn't my idea of comfort.  Yes, convenient, but at what cost?

Postpartum, I used cloth menstrual pads that I made and they were SO kind and nice to me!  They were absolutely heavenly!  But I could never make a very thin pad, like, pantyliner thin.  It's probably my sewing skills.

When I had the opportunity to try a GladRags pantyliner in adorable prints, I fell in love!  I was worried that it was going to be too thick and bulky because I want something thin for when I workout and wear tons of tight, tight spandex.  As you can tell from this picture with a leftover disposable pad I had around the house, it's not that much different in thickness!

GladRags Pantyliner

I don't know if you're anything like me, but my period normally isn't my favorite time of the month.  I'm bloated, hungry, (maybe) crabby, and I just don't feel too pretty.  But can I get an AMEN for these cute colors??  I think they'd brighten up anyone's day!

Financially, while the initial investment in GladRags products can seem like a big leap, as a full supply is about the cost of two years in disposable products,  it will save you hundreds in the long haul.  GladRags products are designed to last for a minimum of 5 years, and many people report they are still using the same products that  they bought over 15 years ago! 

I've convinced you.  I know it.  Except for one small detail.  I know what you're thinking. How do you clean them?!?! I don't want to deal with a mess! 

Neither do I.  It's really as simple as putting them in a bucket to soak, then tossing it all straight into the washer.  No touching anything, no scrubbing anything, no messes to clean up.  Easy peasy. 

If you think it's just gross, well, gross is a relative term, I guess.  Gross, to me, is millions of pounds of barely-rotting, stinking,  repulsive, disposable menstrual products filling our landfills for years.  Not the simple washing of a resuable product.  After all, we sometimes have accidents when we have our periods, and we don't through our underwear or pants away.  We just wash them.

The GladRags pantyliners were very comfortable and soft.  The only issue I had with them was when I would run, if I was wearing loose underwear, the pantyliners would slide around some.  I just learned to wear tighter underwear while running, which was a small trade off for no leaks, a sustainable product, and comfort!

They cleaned very nicely and dried super fast because they are so thin!

Buy it!

GladRags has an amazing line of reusable feminine products, not just pads, suited for every woman!

Win it!

GladRags has generously offered one Uniquely Normal Mom reader a colored 3-pack of pantyliners in the color of the winner's choice!  US and Canadian residents only, please. Make sure you leave your email address in the comment!

Mandatory Entry:

Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Google Friend Connect AND visit the GladRags site and tell me which product you would love to try!

Additional Entries (worth one entry each unless specified):

2. 'Like' GladRags on Facebook and tell them Uniquely Normal Mom sent you!
3. Sign up for the GladRags Newsletter (at the bottom of the page)
4. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Twitter
5. Follow GladRags on Twitter
6. Tweet about this giveaway (one entry per day)
6. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Networked Blogs (2 entries)
7. Subscribe to Uniquely Normal Mom via email (2 entries, right hand side of blog)

Giveaway ends on Monday, July 11th at 11:59am.  Winner will be selected via , notified via email and has 48 hours to respond via email or else a new winner will be notified.  US and Canada residents only.
GladRags supplied me with their products in return for my honest review.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

2 years of No Poo: Questions & Pictures

I shocked the world when one year ago I announced on this blog that I've been No Poo for one year!  I know, I know, the human body is unbelievable.  ;)

You can read about my one year and 'coming out' first No Poo-iversary here.

In that post I explain and highlight some of the details of being No Poo.  It took a lot of courage to say that I was No Poo, but now it's second nature.  I literally know tens of people who are now No Poo!

In short, I don't wash my hair in the conventional manner.

Why?  Well, your hair produces oil naturally, and shampoo strips your hair of these oils.  No big deal, except the oil on your scalp is a supply and demand thing.  When you wash your hair, you remove the oils, and therefore your body begins to compensate by producing oils again.  That's why the next day your hair is greasy again.  I only 'wash' my hair via the No Poo method about once a week, and it really doesn't get that greasy.

You can drastically slow this process, save money on hair products, avoid toxic products in hair products, avoid plastic waste, save time and still have clean hair.

A close up picture of my No Poo hair.  Unedited, straight out of bed, not brushed, 4 days after my last No Poo wash.

Since posting that, I get asked questions via e-mail, groups I'm in, Facebook messages and in person.  That post on No Poo is one of my most read posts and many people find my blog through Google searches like 'no poo beginners' or 'how to go No Poo'.  I have many friends who have secretly gone No Poo (don't worry, your secret is safe with me) and it's fun to see this method gaining in popularity.

I've decided to answer some of the most common questions I get about starting No Poo.  Again, not an expert, just my experience over two years of being No Poo.

1. What do you do when you get your hair cut and/or colored and the stylist wants to wash it?

I just let them wash it.  If I've gotten highlights or color it needs to be washed out and I'm not about to ask for some baking soda. ;)  My hair does end up a little greasier and going through a very small transition stage, but it's nothing for a fresh touch on my hair.

2. Will the vinegars affect my hair color?

I have not noticed any effect on the color of my hair by either the baking soda or the vinegar.

3. I want to do a deep condition.  What should I do?

Many people use coconut oil, but don't expect that to come out easily.  Some also use raw honey and of course, the old egg yolk method.  I haven't felt any need to deep condition my hair at all though.

4. How often should I wash my hair?

If you are first starting, try to go four days. The longer you go, the quicker your transition stage will go.  I washed too much in the beginning and was really self conscious, but it only delayed the transition phase.  Now, I wash about once a week, give or take.  While I'm showering, I may do a water only wash, but most of the time, I just wash my body. 

5. How can I extend the time between washing?

I have two tricks - a boar's hair brush and water only rinses.  The boar's hair brush is probably the most useful.  It not only collects dust and dirt, but it helps remove some of the oil near your scalp and spread it to the ends of your hair, moisturizing the ends of your hair!  If you are a No Poo'er, I highly recommend this!

6. What additional products can/should I use?

That's up to you.  I use some product for special occasions, but I'm pretty minimal maintenance with my hair in general.  Many people ask how I get my hair to do what it does, and to that I say, I shower, maybe will pick through it, then let it dry.  If I'm longing for the perfumed scent of shampoo or conditioner, I will put some high quality Ylang Ylang essential oil in a spray bottle, mix with water and spritz my hair.  Since going No Poo my natural curls have been enhanced!

Unedited photo of my No Poo hair.  This was probably 2 days after my last No Poo wash.  I don't think I have any product in my hair either.  Photo by: Susie R.

7. I want to start No Poo.  What do I do?

You can go cold turkey, which will be a little traumatic, but is the fast track to No Poo.  Or you can transition slowly by diluting your shampoo, alternate every few days with shampoo or No Poo, or do a No Poo wash every few days.

8. But you don't understand, I have SUPER greasy hair, so it won't work for me, will it?

This is probably the number one comment that I get.  While my hair is completely different than yours or the next person, I do know that with the majority of people that I have known that have tried No Poo, have way less oily hair than ever before.  Your transition stage may be more difficult, I don't know for sure, but I can guarantee that you will wash less.  Maybe not every 7 days or so, but maybe every 5.  The point is, you won't know until you try it! :) 

9. What age can you start No Poo?

My daughter 11-month old India has never had a drop of soap anywhere on her body besides tiny bits of diluted Dr. Bronner's.

According to a 2007 study, the average child is exposed to 61 different chemicals daily. It's a long known fact that most of the children's products that you buy at your local store, like Johnson & Johnson and even Aveeno products, have high toxicity ratings.  You can check the toxicity rating for any personal care item on the Cosmetic Database.  It's sad when even our childrens' items are full of sulfates, carcinogens and parabens.  Not good stuff.  There are great products out there for cheap, like Dr. Bronner's, so I'm sure I'll be using that as India gets more mobile and dirty.  A friend of mine has three boys who love to get dirty when they go out to play.  They are all No Poo and have been for years and they're all doing just fine! :)

10. Will you ever use shampoo again?

I might, but I might not.  I figure that I've got a great thing going now, I think it's be really hard to transition back to washing and drying my long hair every other day.  I like the time I have!

I hope this answered some of your questions about No Poo.  If you have any more, please feel free to ask me, and I'll see if I can help at all.

Now, who's going No Poo?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Dirty Pasta Kid

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Sunday, June 19, 2011


We just finished our 4th annual mission trip to our town.  This week is always a lot of work for all of us, but it is a super rewarding week, for our students and the hundreds of others we serve throughout the week.

Our youth group joined with another youth group, totaling about 60 of us, as we converged on our community, doing any and every type of service project that was needed.  In the evening, we all join together after a hard days work and worship together and hear from a speaker. 

It's an amazing week, filled with sweat, laughs and honest moments before God.  Many teens not only find purpose in serving hundreds of others others with love, but are renewed in their faith and calling. 

Some of the kids on the bus.  From one project to the next!

It was an incredible week for the students.  Some said it was the best week of their lives. 

It was sort of a tough week for our family.  Dallas' back went out, which isn't a good thing when you're doing manual labor and helping manage so many people.  He didn't have the time to rest and try to recover from his injury so unfortunately, he is still in a lot of pain.

India joined us for as much of the trip as possible. 

Helping pick (or maybe eat) weeds
She was a bit overwhelmed with all the kids who loved her so much, and I had a bit of personal struggle as I wanted to be serving alongside the kids AND take care of India, but I'm not superwoman, and I normally had to choose one or the other. 

In the ERGO as we clear brush
She was a trooper, even though she had several traumatic moments like...

...when she got locked in Dallas' office, which was a very brief, but emotionally charged event.  I thought Dallas was watching her, Dallas thought I was watching her.  I came back to the office and the door was shut and locked.  Mothering fail.

My baby was crying. 

I ran to find Dallas to ask for his keys, but they were locked in the office, with my keys, both of our phones and now a screaming baby.  I had to keep myself calm, even though every bit of me wanted to hyperventilate, cry, or bust down the door and rescue my baby!

Almost as quickly as it all started, my clear-minded husband had made a couple of phone calls, and a man from our church arrived with his key and unlocked the door.  I wiped India's tears, helped her calm down, and held her so tight. 

In spite of whatever personal hiccups we encountered, all of the youth did such a great job and I am so proud of them!  I loved them before, but I love them even more now. 

No matter the pain I saw my husband in, or how I felt pulled in two directions, it was worth it!  I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!  I just want to bypass the whole locking your tired, hungry, overstimulated baby in the office thing! ;)

A ginormous sheet, in which after a time of prayer, the kids wrote what their callings were...VERY moving!

Mission 2012?  Most definitely!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011


You're 11 months old today, Pook.  I cannot believe you are that old.

Happy 11 months, India Josephine!

Every stage with you has been so fun!  And mostly everyday with you has been so rewarding.

You are still intense, determined, love attention, vocal and sweet.

You really, really, really like me.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes it breaks me down.

You love to share your food!  Speaking of food, you are getting quite picky.  Strawberries, watermelon, bananas are all things you will no longer eat. Mama's not too happy about that, but hopefully it's just a phase.

You say Mama, Dada, hi, ohh! and ohh?, 'ta sat?' (meaning, what's that?), and a version of 'who's that?', 'Ayyy' (Yay) and 'Na na na na na na na na na' when you don't want to do something.  You also have a fake laugh and a fake cough and you love to entertain people with both!

You still charm everyone, winning over everyone with your smile and your cute waving to say hi or goodbye.  You give kisses and cuddles to those you are really close with. 

Your Daddy and I sit and watch you and laugh as you mimic us, tease us, chase us and show off.  The only toys you play with is your Baby, Sophie the Giraffe and balls. 

You clap after you are praised, you give high fives, and love to point to things when asked where they are.  Your favorite things to point to is Mama's eyes, nose and mouth and the lights!  You understand some words in Chinese - yogurt, water, breastfeeding, dog, cat, phone, kiss, eat, apple and ball. 

You still have our hearts and we'd do anything for you. 

It feels like just yesterday you were nestling into my neck, making newborn baby noises, so soft and sweet. I can't believe in one month, you will celebrate your first year of life.  My heart aches and beams with joy all at the same time.

Thank you for teaching us how to love deeper, Pooka.  You have no idea how much you mean to us...

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Monday, June 6, 2011

My first 5k: Juicy details included.

I like running.  A lot.

But I never sign up for any races.  I hate failure and I really didn't want to be the last person to cross the finish line. 


I said it.

Anyways.  About a month ago, my girlfriends convinced me to do a 5k with them.  I trained jogged 11 times in preparation for the 5k.  I wasn't expecting anything great, but I wanted to finish under 30 minutes.  Or I wasn't going to do the race at all.   That was my goal.  

What I got instead, was an amazing morning, with some of my best friends, great competition, comradery, laughs and the best sense of accomplishment. 

I was pretty nervous the two days before the race.  I DID NOT WANT TO FAIL. Period.  As I listened to my ipod the night before, and blasted Eminem (don't judge, best tunes to get you jacked), I had two thoughts.

One, This is your first 5k. Many people walk their first 5k, so it's OK if you have to walk as well.

Then, the second thought, Go out there and kick some booty!  You have no excuse. Rock this tomorrow. DO IT!

I listened to the latter thought, thankfully.  Maybe if I was listening to Michael Bolton I would've entertained the first thought a little longer.  But nope, Em had my head bobbing, my foot tapping, my mind envisioning, my adrenaline lifting, my face smiling and my head ready.

The 5k participants - Dressed up in our Rosie the Riveter garb

Running the route

Just crossed the finish line! I did it!

My baby was waiting for me.  Even though she had no idea what had just happened, I was so happy to hold her, sweat and all!

The three 5k runners.  We're all nursing mamas and we joked about how many sports bras we were wearing! ;)

I'm content.  I wish I would've pushed it a little more, especially to get out of the slow clump of people at the very beginning, but I just chalk it up as a learning experience.

Finish: 27:51, 104th place out of 452 overall, 40th place out of 311 women, and amazingly I made it into the top 10 of women ages 20-29!

New goal: 26:something??? :)

I can't wait for the next one!

Do you exercise at all?  In what way?  Have you ever run in a race?

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

India's Birthday Cake, Revised

I did a run through of India's 1st birthday cake a couple of days ago, but I didn't particularly like what I made. 

Here's the first design I made...

I guess it's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't think that it fit our theme very well.

So after a taste test of the cake, I re-did the fondant design.  I think I'll make her smash cake similar to this instead.

I think it suits her a little more.  :-)

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

India's 1st Birthday Cake

Anyone that knows me really, really well knows that I'm a perfectionist.  I have been all my life.  I won't do something if I can't do it well.  Most areas of my life have some form of perfectionism, but I'm pretty good at hiding it!  ;)

India's 1st birthday is over a month away, but I made her a smash cake today.  No, she won't actually eat this one now (I will), but I wanted to do a run through of the cake, buttercream frosting and fondant. 

We are doing her dedication and 1st birthday party all in one!  It'll be only immediate family, about 50 people, and about 10 of our closest friends. 

The theme is something along the lines of our baby girl is turning ONE, fun in the sun, let's celebrate our little Sunshine, something like that.  We don't do character themes and I thought the sun described India perfectly.  Amazing, brightening, intense, needed, and volatile.  Kind of kidding, kind of serious about that last one...

Yellow everything - and if it's not yellow, it'll have yellow ribbon on it.  But not obnoxious yellow.  Think: yellow and white gingham, fresh flowers, lemonade from Mason glasses, green grass and country.  Easy, breezy, beautiful, 1st birthday. :)

My little Sunshine's practice cake!
It's a good thing I did a practice one, because if I would've made this the day of India's first birthday party, I would've been marching my butt to a bakery, ordering a cake because I think this one looks cheap! There are quite a few things I'd like to fix and/or change.  

Maybe a taller cake with gingham fondant around the edge and fresh yellow flowers on top!

Or maybe, yellow fondant, with white vine designs climbing up it?   No, this is a first birthday party, Genevieve, not a wedding.

I also need to get some photos of India for the invitations, so we tried that today.  Here's what I got:

Until I gave her her baby doll back, that she so desperately wanted!

See, I told you I was kind of serious when I used the word volatile to describe her!

What did you do for your child's first birthday?  Do you have large birthday celebrations every year?

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Her Daddy's Blues