Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions: A Noble Goal!

I know, I know, some people hate on resolutions because they hate feeling like failures when they miss the mark on those resolutions.  To me, that's like saying, let's never dream or venture for a goal because if I fail, I'll feel bad.  Where would we be if we didn't resolve to do something different or dream or walk out on a limb?  Maybe we do fall down, but consider

New Year's Resolutions, while not for everyone, do serve as a great time of introspection and evaluation of the course of one's life.  Of course, you don't and shouldn't wait until January 1st to begin changes in your life.  You start a new day every morning, a new minute ever minute,

My friend, Margaux, is setting monthly goals for herself, so as not to get overwhelmed with all the things she hopes to see different in her life.  I love that idea as it's not too overwhelming to pick an area of your life to fine tune for 30 days.

Last year's resolutions were more success than fail for me. 

Blog regularly.  Success.
Shop less at Walmart and purchase more WAHM stuff.  Success in that I didn't shop at Walmart as often, but fail in that I didn't support many WAHMs.  I made a lot of my own stuff instead.
Journal.  Big, fat, fail.  On my list again.
Get rid of crap.  Success after a garage sale, but now after Christmas, it's a fail again (she has grandmas, what can I say?). We're getting rid of more of India's toys now though as we only keep one toy box - everything else leaves the house!
Stop being so short with my husband.  I think, success.
Make more stuff.  SUCCESS.  I made a lot of food, clothes, hair accessories, household items, canned everything in our garden, etc.

And on to this year's resolutions:
  • Enjoy my family, every season, every stage, most moments.
  • JOURNAL, write, record our life.
  • Tactical learning for India.  Hands-on crafts, no matter how messy, will be a part of our lives. 
  • Make MORE things.  Clothes and accessories for India especially.  I want to get back into making kombucha, homemade lotions and continue making homemade bread. I'd also like to try making water kefir, so if anyone has any great tips, send them my way!  I'd love to be prepared enough to have homemade gifts made for special occasions as well. 
  • Get serious about my camera.  I have a nice camera, but I need to take the time to get to know it. 
  • I'm half-tempted to work on my guitar skills, but I'm not so sure I can really commit to that.  I'll put it in here anyways! 
    Did you keep your resolutions from 2011?  Have you made any New Year's Resolutions for 2012?

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    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    My first nurse-in: Thank you, Target

    About a month ago, a Texas mother of four, Heather, was shopping at Target with her sleeping infant and a cart full of items.  Her baby woke up, fussy, hungry and needed to eat.  Heather sat down on the floor, behind a jean display, found a remote area of the store by the women's fitting rooms, and fed her baby.  She was covered with a blanket, but that point is really immaterial because what happens next is where the problems lie.  She was confronted by two store employees and asked to face the wall or go in the dressing rooms.  What entailed was several more Target store employees making their dislikes known, despite Heather's legal right to feed her child there. Heather contacted Target's corporate office and got a similar response: they were aware of her legal rights, but still didn't want that happening in their stores and had set different policies in place.  

    And so plans for the nationwide Target nurse-in began, which ended up being the largest collective gathering of its sort and has garnered much attention.  Target as a box store it carries tons of breastfeeding-friendly supplies, but it also has a bit of a history of unfriendly responses to breastfeeding mothers.  Target's breastfeeding policy is aware of the law and is somewhat welcoming of breastfeeding, but many of the employees haven't been made aware of this fact.

    The intention of the nurse-in was to be peaceful -- nothing obscene or flamboyant.  I wouldn't have gone otherwise.  We were to go and browse, shop, eat and be natural - whether that meant feeding our babies or not.  No signs, no chants, no pow-wows.  Just a reminder, not only to Target, but to other moms that breastfeeding isn't obscene, but it's just something that has to happen sometimes.

    I remember when India was young, and I'd so meticulously plan my shopping trips, trying to make sure she was fed and changed and quick! we were out the door hoping to make it through a store before she needed to eat again.  It was stressful and quite often I would end up staying home because I was worried about offending someone.  I know many moms worry about this and stay home.  Eventually, I gained more confidence and skill nursing in public.  In all the times I've nursed in stores, I don't think one person has ever noticed me doing it.  I normally nurse her in a carrier, and you can't tell what I'm doing.  Even while shopping with one of Dallas' friends one time, India needed to eat, so I fed her and he had no idea and we all talked and joked and laughed and walked around the store.  He just thought she was sleeping.   

    Today was no different.  A few of us gathered at a Target cafe, got some food and drinks and chatted like old friends, even though we were strangers.  Occasionally a baby would get hungry, get fed and then, right back to normal life.  We did some shopping in the store, played with our kids, and talked about lots of things.  One thing we didn't talk about that much was breastfeeding!  Kind of funny being that we were at a nurse-in, but for us, it wasn't a big deal.  We weren't demanding anything and I don't think one person ever noticed any of us were breastfeeding. I'm all for breastfeeding, but I'm not one to get all protest-ey.  I swore I'd never do something like this, but this was too peaceful to pass up.

    The majority of the time, I  publicly breastfeed covered because it works for us.  I prefer that people don't see much of my breasts, whether breastfeeding or cleavage - and I've been blessed with a baby who is fine with a cover (most aren't).  I don't care if you cover or not. 

    Funny thing is, I've gotten some really nasty looks when I whip out my breastfeeding cover in public and don't have India in a carrier while she nurses.  Today, India cuddled with me on my lap and not a soul that walked by did a double take while I breastfed her without a cover.  It was a little experiment.  You couldn't see one centimeter of bare skin, so there was nothing to set off any 'alarm' and it just looked like I was rocking my baby.  I guarantee if I did that with a cover on, I would've got the stink eye and many double takes.  It's very interesting how that works!

    The complainers on the other side voice concerns over women just "whipping it out" and they "don't want to see boob" or "there's a time and place for that; it's private".  I'm sorry, but if those are your strongest arguments, you need to put a blanket over your head, because breasts and cleavage are everywhere.   On billboards, ads, commercials, magazines YOU buy, tags from clothing YOU buy, movies YOU watch, TV shows YOU watch, YOUR home computer and visible on countless other people you encounter as you go about the course of your day.  While I was at Target, I saw a woman bend over with a low-cut shirt, which revealed more breast than any of us women had showed collectively.  A girl walked out of the store with butt-cheek shorts on (yes, in December!) and no one told her to cover up her booty and there was an appropriate time and place for that.  As I was checking out, I saw magazines with cleavage galore.  No one told them to put it away and "don't whip it out" and instead promoted their display of breasts and the sexual objectification of women by buying that magazine.  

    I really don't mean to be crass or snarky, but some of those arguments are ridiculous. 

    Of course, I respect people who are all or nothing, deciding that they don't want to see any breasts in any, way, shape or form.  Hopefully, they are diligently petitioning to rid stores of Cosmo, InTouch and Redbook magazines and confronting women who are scantily-clad and asking them to change.  I respect that with all of my heart, because that is conviction followed through, not just ranted about. 

    But many of the complainers have found a spot to perch their butts on the hypocritical line between sexy-breasts-are-fine but breasts-for-feeding-are-gross.  If the issue is really that you don't want to see boobs, then follow that through in ALL areas, please.  But don't ever let me catch you showing a drop of cleavage.  :)  

    Ultimately, you sometimes have to make the choice to turn your head and not look if something really bothers you that much.  Just like I do when someone is chomping their food in a restaurant or when I see more butt crack on the bleachers at a basketball game than the public toilet sees all night.

    I half expected a nurse-in to be yelling and chanting and causing a ruckus in a store.  I don't think those types of nurse-ins do good for the cause of breastfeeding.  But this was exactly the opposite.  I loved that this nurse-in, which at the very last minute, a bunch of things lined up and made it possible for me to go, wasn't bombastic or slamming formula-feeding or even mad at Target. 

    It was just a gentle, respectful reminder to all that breastfeeding is normal and way better than a screaming baby, any day! 

    Nationwide Target Nurse-In

    More blog posts from today's nurse-in and of a similar nature (feel free to link your post in the comments: 


    Imperfect Mama 
    Public breastfeeding needs respect
    Breastfeeding in public IS offensive 

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    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Dealing with Rashes AND Cloth Diapers

    It's probably no surprise that my daughter is prone to rashes.  It's been said that when I was a baby, I spent many hours with a red, rashy and sometimes bleeding bottom.  Not much seemed to help me and unfortunately, it seems like my daughter has inherited skin sensitivities from me.

    We've had rashes, rashes and more rashes.  Any diaper rash is miserable for the baby and heartbreaking for the parents.  In cloth diapers or disposables, poor little India gets irritated and quickly.  While it's said that only about 5% of cloth diapered babies experience diaper rash in contrast to about 50% of babies in disposables, we've been on the unfortunate 5% side.

    (PS- Many remember that we've done some Elimination Communication (EC) with India....well, she's been on strike with it for a couple of months.  Otherwise, EC would be the best choice in this situation.  Stubborn little girl.)
    In order to remedy a rash, it's best to find a cause.  I'm not going to list every rash, the cause and the remedy..."We have a cat and if his hair get in the wipes solution our baby breaks out"...because, well, you know.

    Common causes of cloth diaper rashes:

    • Excessive wetness
    • Yeast
    • Detergent build up
    • Reaction to synthetic materials, latex reaction being the most common
    • Teething or illness
    • Sensitivity in mom or baby's diet
    • Reaction to detergent
    • Reaction to disposable wipes (India had this at a young age)

    Once you can figure out your cause, you can try one or several of the following solutions.
    (note: besides being full of chemicals, regular diaper rash cream shouldn't touch cloth diapers, so I'm discussing alternatives here). 

    • Keep baby's skin dry with a fleece liner
    • Change frequently
    • Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is great for rashes, especially yeast
    • Strip your diapers to remove any residues from detergent, diaper creams or excess buildup.  This process needs even more detail if you are dealing with a yeast rash. 
    • Change detergent.  Here is a list of common detergents, their ingredients and their ratings as to how safe they are for cloth diapers.
    • Air out (just make sure you're prepared for some big smiles from your baby AND some accidents!)
    • Use natural materials instead of synthetic
    • Soak baby in warm baking soda water or salt water
    • Apply breast milk and let it air dry.  They say breast milk fixes a lot of things and this is just one!  However, if you have a yeast rash, do NOT use breast milk!
    • Use a cloth diaper safe diaper rash cream. Here is a great link to many creams and their ratings as to how cloth diaper safe they are.
    For us, we've found that India can't have any wetness against her skin, so I cut up fleece to use as liners.  We also quickly learned that one of the most well-liked detergents makes her break out horribly.  Between frequent changes to keep her as dry as possible and using new soap, we've lessened her rashes dramatically!  If we see the start of a rash, we normally fight it off with either coconut oil, Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm or conventional diaper cream (make sure you use a disposable liner so your diaper doesn't get ruined from the cream).

    The bottom line is what works for you may be a disaster for another family.  Keep trying different combinations and seek out help, until you find what works for you and what helps keep your baby's bum rash free! 

    Photo courtesy of Jewels & Treasures.  What a stash!

    Do you have any really cool tricks which help either prevent or treat diaper rash with cloth diapers?

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    Friday, December 16, 2011

    5 Question Friday 12/16/11

    Hey everyone, can you believe it's the middle of December?!?!  Christmas is fast approaching, and I hope you all are enjoying this season of Advent, relaxing and getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus with important people! 

    Here's 5 Questions from 5 Crooked Halos - be sure to link up if you want to answer these 5 questions!

    1. What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?
    One time as a kid, I got skies for Christmas.  They were just kiddie ones, but I loved them!  I a practical person, so I LOVE getting make-up, underwear, socks, etc for Christmas.  So boring, but really, it makes me happy!

    2. Worst/Funniest White Elephant gift ever received?
    I've gotten a few weird ones, but nothing really stands out.  Can I tell you a secret?  I hate White Elephant gifts (again, the practical side of me is talking) and will likely skip a party that is having a White Elephant gift exchange.  Scrooge me now, people, I know. 

    3. Is your Christmas tree plain and simple (white lights and matching ornaments) or is it wild and crazy (colored lights with lots of ornaments collected over the years)?

    Have I mentioned I'm a little OCD?  I am.  Plain lights, matching ornaments, end of story.  I grew up receiving ornaments every year and I'm not going to lie, all those ornaments are sitting in a box labeled "Sell on eBay".  Not even cute homemade ornaments make it to my tree.  Sorry, Baby's First Christmas ornament.

    4. "How" do you iron your clothes? The old fashioned iron/ironing board way, the shower, back in the dryer, etc.
    Um, iron?  No.  Not at all.  Unless my husband is in a wedding.  And even then, 98% of the time, the dryer works just fine!

    5. How much baking do you do for Christmas and what are your "must make" items? (I'm looking for recipes here, peeps...)
    I normally join my mom and sisters for a day of baking, but with some time constraints this year, I'm not sure I will.  So that's the end of my baking.  I do make jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) every year for my family for our all appetizer dinner, and not only is the meal my FAVORITE meal throughout the whole year, the jiaozi has become a family favorite too.  But I only make it once a year!

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday: Outside Peek-a-boo!

    We've had unbelievably nice weather here in MN!  No show, 30-40 degree days and lots of time to be outside!  This is unheard of, so we're taking advantage of it!


    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Teaching your Baby Sign Language

    When my daughter, India, was just a few months old, we began to teach her American Sign Language and Mandarin Chinese.  I still use a little Chinese with her, but wasn't confident enough in my language skills, so that's on the back burner. 

    We focused more on American Sign Language (ASL).  We don't have anyone close to us who is hard of hearing or uses ASL, but we knew that any extra language development would only accentuate her mind.  Why not use one that encouraged early communication, is shown to help children how to read, and
    is practical as it's the third most common language in America?

    We have primarily used Baby Signing Time and Signing Time DVDs to learn ASL.  Most of the time, I am around to engage in the videos too, but sometimes I do let her watch one while I make supper or start laundry. 

    4 months old, India's first time watching Baby Signing Time
    We started when she was around 4 months old and have gradually increased to watching three or four videos a week and then we practice them throughout the day.  While I don't normally walk around in the store using only signs to communicate, I do use them here and there publicly.  At home we use them a lot.  If I don't know a sign, I just omit it and sign the words I do know. 

    My very favorite story was when India was maybe 11 months old.  She would kind of hug herself.  I wasn't as aware of the fact that she was possibly communicating to me, so I just thought she was being cute.  One day, I put it together, she was signing 'baby'!  She had been signing it for months but I never caught on!  She had been trying to tell me about her baby!  I realized at that time there were several other signs that she using, but I just wasn't paying attention.

    That being said, her signs aren't perfect.  Obviously, her fine motor skills are developing, so some signs don't look exactly like they're supposed to.  It's OK, though.  I still understand what she is communicating and sign the correct sign back to her.

    India getting Signing Time DVDs for her 1st Birthday
    At 17 months of age, India is able to use about 50 signs in their proper context and can understand many more than that.  In addition to her spoken language, it has really enhanced communication, starting at about 10 months.  She can almost always communicate her needs with me, which is a blessing for BOTH of us.  There are some words she says that she no longer signs, but there are some words that she only signs.  Sometimes I only sign to her, which is a really nice thing if we're somewhere that she needs to be quiet!

    As her spoken language develops more and more, we will still continue with ASL.  I had several students in my grade who used ASL to communicate and I always wished I would've been able to talk with them more.  If India continues to learn ASL, if she is ever in a situation like that, hopefully that ASL she has acquired will help her form relationships with others she never would've been able to communicate with otherwise.

    It's never to late to learn another language.  Never!  It only benefits one's mind to be used in such a capacity, no matter the age.  If someone is 2 or 11 or 36 or 97, it's never too late!  

    Do your children know a second language?  Have you ever wanted to learn another language?

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    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Earth Mama Angel Baby Review & Giveaway! CLOSED!

    With the news, pressure and eventual admittal that Johnson & Johnson uses toxic ingredients in their baby shampoo, now is a great time to switch to non-toxic, mama-based, childcare products.  One of my absolute favorite organic Mom and Baby companies is Earth Mama Angel Baby.  If you've used their products, you know how amazing they are!  Once a customer, always a customer could easily be Earth Mama Angel Baby's mantra. 

    If you haven't heard of this wonderful company, which never uses artificial dyes or fragrances and has vowed to keep parabens and SLS away from their products, it's time to learn some more!  Feel free to read more about the safety of their products in their FAQ.

    When I had India, I ordered the Postpartum Recovery Essentials Bundle and it changed my little postpartum world!  The Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray put the hospital's Dermoplast (what most mother's claim as their bottom saver) to absolute shame.  As I was checking out of the hospital, I left the Dermoplast in my hospital room and a nurse came running after me with it telling me how sad I would be if I didn't have the Dermoplast.  I chuckled and explained I had something that was immeasurably better!  

    Earth Mama Angel Baby's Angel Baby Bottom Balm was listed in my Top 10 favorite baby items for birth to four months as well as four to eight months.

    I say all that to explain
    that every product I have used from this giving company has been incredible.  And the A Little Something For Baby  I was sent to review is no exception!

    Four, carefully packaged, cute little to-go sized bottles of Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Angel Baby Lotion and Angel Baby Oil arrived at my house one afternoon.

    It wasn't too much longer and my guinea pig daughter was in the bathtub getting washed with the Angel  Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, a gentle orange and vanilla infused castile soap.  After her bath, I gently massaged her with the Angel Baby Oil.  I never knew how much India would love massage with this virtually scent-free infant massage oil, but it calmed her instantly!  After that I used the Angel Baby Lotion, scented with yummy smelling organic vanilla and organic sweet orange!  Her skin was so soft, she smelled so good and I didn't use ANY products that were harmful for her! 

    The A Little Something for Baby package would be excellent for traveling, for overnights with grandma, for an easy baby shower gift, for a stocking stuffer, basically, you can't go wrong with this.  Every family with small children could find use for it!

    Buy It! 
    You can buy any Earth Mama Angel Baby products related to Pregnancy, Postpartum care, Breastfeeding, Baby, Family and even Baby Loss on their website.

    Win it! 
    Earth Mama Angel Baby has graciously offered one Uniquely Normal Mom reader a chance to win their very own A Little Something For Baby!  (A $20 value, US and Canadian residents only)

    Mandatory Entry:
    'Like' Uniquely Normal Mom on Facebook and 'Like' Earth Mama Angel Baby on Facebook.  Leave a comment with your email address telling me you have done so.

    Additional Entries (all worth one entry unless stated):

    1. Follow Earth Mama Angel Baby on Twitter.
    2. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Twitter.
    3. Sign up to receive Mama's monthly newsletter.
    4. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom via Google Friend Connect
    5. Visit Earth Mama Angel Baby and tell me something you learned about their products or another product you'd love to try
    6. Share this giveaway via media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc).  Please leave link in a comment.  One entry per day, per share.
    7. Subscribe to Uniquely Normal Mom's email updates (right hand side of page).

    The details: Giveaway will end on December 18th, 12:00am CST. The winner, who is selected by, has 48 hours to respond to notification email or else a new winner will be randomly chosen. I was provided A Little Something for Baby in return of my honest review. I was given no monetary compensation. A generous thank you to Earth Mama Angel Baby.

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    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Make your own Christmas Stocking (or for your children)!

    Make your own Christmas stocking

    My daughter didn't have a Christmas stocking last year but I wasn't bothered by it.  She was young and even now it isn't imperative that she have her own Christmas stocking.  But it would be really cute.

    I set out on my BFF, Google, and found this tutorial, which didn't have much explanation, but left you with really cute stockings.  I knew I wanted a few things different on my stocking, but I absolutely loved the general idea!

    This is a very cheap Christmas stocking, I spent less than $5 for the felt and a bag of buttons.  I had embroidery floss and sequins on hand, but even if you had to buy them, this whole project would still be less than $10 in supplies.  I started this one night after work and made it pretty quickly!  The longest part of it all was stitching the embroidery floss around the initial, but that's because I did that step last. 

    Here's what you need:

    Felt for stocking (half a yard was enough for me)Contrasting felt for hanging loop, initial and cuff
    Embroidery floss (for edges, initial and buttons)

    Hot glue gun
    Scissors (pinking shears, if desired)
    Sewing Machine

    The first thing I did was use a stocking as my template on some ivory felt and cut it out.  I didn't want to freehand this one.  I wanted this stocking to be the same shape as size as our other stockings. 

    If I were to do it again, I would cut three patterns instead of two.  The first one would be the front, with all the embellishments, the second would be to help hide what was in the stocking and cover up all the embroidery stitches and the third would be the backside.

    Tracing and cutting out the felt

    I then cut the letting 'I' out, as that is my daughter India's first initial, a small bit of felt to use as a hanging loop and the felt to make the stocking cuff.

    Next I would arrange the buttons, glue them on, then use some embroidery floss to accent them.  Make sure you leave enough room to sew around the edges.
    Then put your initial on (put all embellishments on before you sew it on) and put some pretty stitches around it with the embroidery floss.

    Sew your two sides (or three) together, opposite sides together.

    I wasn't sure if I was going to like the closed sides like this....

    ...and I didn't so I turned it right side out and used my MIL's pinking shears to cut all the edges.

    (Remember, I didn't add my buttons until the end.)

    At this point I sewed the cuff on, followed by the hanging loop.  I didn't want the stitch to be visible on the outside of the cuff so I sewed it onto the inside.

    Now the fun begins!  Add all sorts of embellishments!  Sequins, buttons and embroidery floss made me happy!

    Sit back and marvel at your cute, fun creation!  I promise, your kids will love it too!

    I hope you enjoy this cheap and easy Christmas stocking!  :-)

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