Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's to come

So our home PC just fizzled. Well....not the entire PC {seriously thanking the Lord} just a virus that attacked the use of the internet! So while all my files and photos are safe, I can't get on the net to post all the things I am falling behind on! I've got some give aways and some reviews all lined up and ready to go, but all my photos are on the other computer so doing a little catch up and switch-a-roo are in order to get everthing up and running! but here is a little taste of what is to come::

I'll be reviewing the the following products :

  • The Farber and Castell young Artist Texture set. Incredible! The kids really loved it and I can't wait to share with you the fun they had!

  •  The Baby K-Tan sling, a hybrid sling I am waiting to arrive so I can try in out!

  • The Story of Easter by Gwen Ellis. A fun condensed version of Holy week with easy to absorb facts and descriptions of the last week of Jesus' life on earth. I'll be including fun crafts you can do with your kids as you read the sections in this book. It also comes with a DVD!!!!

Here are some giveaways headed your way!!!

  • An Apron giveaway from fewofmyfavoritethings Fabulous hand made creations including my favorite Mother/daughter matching aprons. Amazing creativity and craftsmaship!
  • A giveaway from Picky Sticky These great little stickers are perfect for keeping tabs of your babies age OR your pregnancy! Just stick and click!
  • My very own giveaway......a Keiki Kuddlerz Sling! In anticipation of getting to sling my own newborn again!!!
So stay tuned, it'll take a bit to get these up, but I will....along with some photos of our adventures taking 11 kids to the beach last sunday! Thankfully at least 4 of them could swim! Fun times here as the weather gets a little warmer, the waves get a little smaller, and summer vacation can be seen in the near distance!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stepping into Spring like a {sNaIL}

Phew! Where on the island have we been!??! I hadn't realized it had been so long since I had posted anything, but alas, when real life takes you on a journey you follow! Last week was spring break meaning Dave was home! In our house that always means we are way more busy! Even though the kids don't have school either, we are either working on some home improvement project or taking the kids on mini adventures around the island trying to squeeze in memories and family time. Last week we were able to do both! The first 3 days of the week Dave and Jon stripped the tile, refinished it and the shampooed all the carpets in the house! It was a bit challenging to move the furniture and the kids around, so during this time I took the kids to the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens for a Pre-school activity (free of course!!)

The kids had a blast and we all learned a LOT about snails!

 A "GarDeN variety" snail
[did you KNOW that shell is made of dirt eaten by the snail?]

 Peeking in at an African Snail
[look but don't touch!]

Making a snail craft!

Snails on a log

A very cute and easy craft the kids loved!

A series of shots...none of which are good, all of which are funny.

Ya think my fishing pole is long enough or should I find another one?

Feeding the fishes our sandwich crusts
Sweet Sisters
Good Friends

We had a really great day. We love hanging out with Pua and Phoebe. And the kids love each other. Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens is located on the Windward side of the island up against the Ko'olau Mountain Range. It's gorgeous over there, so green and lush. I even found Soap Berries, I'm currently trying to figure out how to make them into usable laundry detergent!

When going on family field trips I always dress the kids in like colors. Of course I love having them all match and coordinate but really for sighting purposes I try and make it easy on myself! That's why today is all about the orange! 

What tricks do you use when taking all the kids out?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Baby Sling Safety Guides

A day after I decide to write a post of wearing a sling the news erupts with babies possibly suffocating while being worn! I've got great timing! Being an avid baby~wearer, and also the owner of a small business that makes Ring Slings, I want to clear up some of the fear in the air and give you exactly what these articles are talking about.

First the dangers of babywearing. Nothing comes without risk. Even riding a bike (or walking down the street for some of us) can pose a risk if you are as graceful as I am! So of course when wearing (or carrying) your baby you need to be cautious. Two not-so-common dangers are ::

1) Suffocation~ this can happen if you are using a sling improperly or using a "bag style" sling such as the Infantino Sling (7 babies have died due to suffocation using a bag style sling)
2) Concussion, bruises, serious injury to baby~ over 11 years 37 babies have fallen out of sling causing injury to the baby, but thankfully no deaths.

You can read more about this at Consumer Reports

In fact an RN conducted some studies on the bag style sling and you can read about her findings here.

A parent needs to be cautious when using a sling, and there are guidelines for safe positioning and babywearing. Here is a great video explaining some safe babywearing practices ::

Take the 5 minutes to watch this if you have questions or concerns about wearing your baby. She does a great job of giving some tips on making sure your baby is safe, secure and suffocation free.

Some important tips ::
1. Always make sure your baby can breathe! You do want to be hands free while wearing your baby but obvously NOT at the expensive of their respiration! Never wear your baby in a C position where their bottom is the lowest point in the sling, leaving the head and feet higher than the head. This causes the babies chin to press firmly against his chest making breathing difficult. (this is the only position the bag style carrier allows you to wear your baby~not safe!). You can wear your baby in a cradle position but always make sure the baby is laying in a diagonal with his head at the highest point, his feet at the lowest, not vertical!

2. Don't do anything with the carrier your wouldn't do while holding your baby! This includes activities like running/jogging, jumping, driving, swimming, roller blading, riding a bike, mowing your lawn (do you get the idea??) etc. Carriers are for babies to be held securely, any of the previous activities could injure or harm your baby! Walking, rocking, dancing, gentle motions are the best for protecting babies neck and spine in or out of a carrier!

3. Make sure your carrier is appropriate for your babies age, developmental stage and weight. There are lots of carriers to choose from. They offer different positions and different weight limits. Every carrier is different. It's best to go to a store that offers slings and carriers to try and see which one feels right and comfortable to you! And while you use that carrier, make sure you are using positions your baby is ready for! In a Ring Sling we don't suggest you use the back or side carry until the baby can hold his head up very well. Find out the requirements for each carrier and follow them!

4. Follow the directions and guidelines correctly for each sling. Make sure your read through those directions and find additional tips online and especially on Youtube. There are a plethora of baby wearing videos offered to help make wearing your baby easy the first time and safely!

5. Make sure your baby is being carried securely. The sling or carrier should be buckled or adjusted to support and hold baby in. If you bend over to pick up an item, place you hand on baby for extra security and monitor your babies position periodically. In all honesty it's hard to wear your baby insecurely because it won't feel right to you, but it's always a great practice to be proactive and check their position! Also a newborn should have their head and neck secured and not bobbling around, make sure the sling comes up to their ears, but not over their head or face.

Hopefully this was helpful! Baby wearing is wonderful for development and contrary to some beliefs it is not a "fad". It has been done for centuries, we are just figuring out how to do it more comfortably and stylishly! And with the lack of need the western world has had with all the fun gadgets and toys you can buy to entertain and "hold" your baby for you, baby wearing has been lost for a while. So I'd say it's not a fad, but it's making a comeback!

happy Baby~Toddler wearing!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

{Child} Wearing

Many think that baby wearing is just that. For babies! And while it is easier to carry your baby with you at all times, I am finding it is so important to wear your toddlers as well.

Dr. Sears highlights the benefits of babywearing ::

In order for a baby's emotional, intellectual, and physiological systems to function optimally, the continued presence of the mother, as during babywearing, is a necessary regulatory influence. 

You might have even heard the terms "Nine in Nine out" being that the womb period for a baby is 9 months in the womb and 9 out, making slinging and baby carrying important for babies development. But does it have to stop there? Absolutely not!

Let's face it, toddlers have it tough. From about 18 months they start really exploring and testing out those individual interests (which happen to be the toilet, toilet paper, markers, brothers' collection of cards, Mom's Tupperware, sister's shoes). They are realizing the world is SO COOL! And they want to be a part of it in a big way!

It's a time when they understand speech and what is going on around them, can mimic behavior and actions so well, but can't quite get those words out to express themselves! It's a time of great joy and great frustration for them (and for us!) as they waver between turning into that "big kid" and still wanting and needing to be a baby. It's a tough time! The balance of letting them explore and teaching them obedience and self control and still letting them be the little baby is a hard one!

For me to continue to wear them through these tough toddler times helps us find a middle ground. Particularly when we are having a hard day, when my arms need to be free but my toddler needs to be close to my heart. When I can't stop the activity and the momentum of the day, and the little one wants to be close. For me it's so comforting to have her near me instead of at my feet pulling down my pants begging to be held. I can cook or fold laundry or school and love on her all the same.

A week ago Gracie had a slight fever (temperature taken by Mom-kiss thermometer) and she was grumpy. After a little while in the sling she was ready to play again, I lift up on the rings and slide her down my leg. A little while later, she came dragging the sling into me and asked to be held again. I love it. How can you say No to that?

When we are out and about I have a sling in the car at all times. She doesn't always want to be held in my arms, and she's forever trying to climb out of shopping carts and such. But for some reason in a sling, she lasts much longer, she is more content to be closer to me, more secure.

So don't forget to sling those toddlers and children too. The benefits are huge! Other parents have said toddler wearing helps with potty training (for que reading), sibling rivalry when a new one arrives, tantrums, teaching (like in the kitchen where they want to see what's going on but safety is an issue~back carry!), and travel!

Don't pack away that sling after the baby starts walking. Most slings have a weight limit of around 30 pounds (ours can go above 45) so keep them out and handy! Even Jonah can still back and side carry in a sling!

Monday, March 8, 2010

God wants my House to be dirty

A while back I shared a little about how I was struggling. Well I am still struggling, just in a different way.

I guess I should start by saying in pregnancy I've been a bit spoiled. With Jonah pregnancy could not have been easier. I had NO morning sickness, I had no aches and pains, I had swollen feet by the end and that was it. I loved being pregnant, I loved looking round and full of baby!

With Ellie I had some morning sickness in the beginning, all the normal tiredness etc. I still loved being pregnant and everything that came with it! I dealt with PPD after her birth and that was a long dark struggle until getting help when she was 8 months old. Only by the Grace of God did I survive until I got help.

With Gracie I had the same sickness, but then hypothyroidism also kicked in as well as sciatica making it hard some days to even walk. My low energy level because of the thyroid condition made everyday hard especially with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. But we made it through.

And now, at age 33, weighing the most I've ever weighed, still dealing with thyroid/energy issues, having been "diagnosed" with an irritable uterus (still contracting daily), sciatic pain on both sides making some days seriously almost impossible to walk around my house without tears, and then this weekend being wiped out with Mastitis (which don't even ask how I got an infection without currently breastfeeding!).......I kinda wonder if God just wants my house to be dirty!?

Okay that's silly I know. But in a way, it's serious for me. Now don't get some image of a perfect house with no dust bunnies and sparkling toilets. That's not what the house looks like at all times. But cleaning and keeping things relatively neat and orderly are important to me. "Keeping" my house is something I take pride in, it IS something I value.

But maybe, just maybe this is something that has become too important to me, and has taken a higher priority in my life than it should have. I say this because at this point I cannot physically do it. I have never been in this position before. Ever. Even exhausted after just having birthed a new baby, I've always forced myself to do what "needed" to be done. I've always worked myself beyond what was necessary, but not without a cost. Maybe the price was me having a bad attitude about their being messes around the house, or the cost was not spending time with the kids because I was trying to catch up with the thing I was most behind on. Regardless I always got the work done, no matter what the cost was, the house was important.

But these last few weeks have been an honest struggle for me to let go of what I deem important and take care of what IS important. Today all it took was making the kids lunch and the getting a pot of stew started (a total of maybe an hour standing), I guess not to mention the up and down of schooling and diapering and a few loads of laundry. But to me that didn't seem like over doing it! Where it left me was hobbling across the room and crying myself into a ball upstairs after laying the kids down for rest time.

In all of this, how silly it must seem to some, I hear God calling for me to give it ALL to Him. To just give in to being cared for by Him and giving up control of things that really aren't important and to grasp on to what IS important. To perhaps again change what I think is a priority into what He knows is a priority for me right here and right now.

He is chipping at my pride. I don't like asking for help. I don't like others to know just how much I am struggling or doing things for me. Including Dave. I hate the idea of him working a 9-10 hour day to come home and pick up the house and take the kids and have to do part of my job as well as his own. He is willing and cheerful and so loving as he does it all, but deep within my I feel guilty and think I am being a wuss, I should just suck it up and "do it!" until I can't walk again.......I suppose I am a stubborn one.

I pray God doesn't give up on me. I want to be in His will, I want to listen and obey, and if that means giving control to Him and letting go of my pride, even in the littlest things like keeping up with the house and laundry. I want to be obedient to Him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A {Rare} day

I looked on the Calendar today and I had written in Library. I love the Library. I love having the kids come home with 50 pounds of books to look through. It's the actual Library trip that can be a little rough. In fact we haven't been there in a while because the last trip was disastrous.

Jonah and Ellie are great.....they love the library and love making a huge pile of books from all over the kids section because they know I won't say no. We went from taking 1 reusable bag to 3! We usually borrow around 40 books, today's count was 48. I'll look up what we are studying for the next three weeks so I have some goals in mind, usually I also have a few to pick up that I've requested ( I don't even bother looking down the adult isles at this point!) and then let the kids pick out whatever looks interesting to them.

Gracia on the other hand? Well honestly what can one expect from a 20 month old? Nothing less than running, giggling loudly, climbing on the tables, throwing the stuffed animals in the reading corner, climbing on the kiddy book shelves.....yes with little destructo around the trip can be quite tiring!

But today for some reason was delightful. No one got any warnings (except Gracia to get off the top of the bookshelf and down from the table top). No tantrums, no disobedience. On the way out the Librarian even commented on how well behaved my kids that is a rare treat to a mother's ears. And it really made my day.

After editing with a little Graussian Blur

So much so we made a spontaneous stop to borrow "Where the Wild Things Are" (with a FREE movie coupon of course!) and make tonight Spaghetti and Movie night. It's days like this when I can breathe and just enjoy, and it is a rare treat with 3 little ones always needing something!

The Original

One more edit just for fun.
I wish all my days went this well...but that is what makes this one so rare, one to cherish. Easy days are hard to come by, easy outings with 3 little ones and a huge belly are even harder to come by. So I cherish this one day and remember it, even though it was simple, just a little Library trip. It's one I'll remember with a smile!

** Make sure you visit Pixel Perfect for some great photo editing blog hopping!**

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

{On} getting your kids to eat healthier

 It seems as if these days it's a battle to eat the healthiest foods possible. Quick and easy choices are all around, prepackaged processed snack foods, fast food, vitamin enriched everything entices us! But the question is in the long run, how good is it for us? We all come up with excuses on grabbing the bag of goldfish instead of the strawberries. The price difference is a huge consideration! Let's face it fresh produce can be pricier than processed snacks. But again what is the value difference between those two snacks! The difference is unbelievable.

I recently read a book suggested by a friend called Disease-Proof Your Child. Now I admit the Title is a bit deceiving, seeing as we live in a sinful world full of diseases some of which you have no control over! But one interesting fact Dr. Joel Fuhrman notes is that what we put into our bodies from birth to about 14 years is the most critical for fighting disease later in life! Why? We are building a fertile cellular foundation for disease and cancer later in life when we aren't feeding our cells the powerful cell-healing nutrients they get from fruits and vegetables! Read an Article on Feeding your Child and yourself for that matter! And if it amazes you or astounds you I encourage you to borrow or buy his book! One of the best quotes from the book (in my humble opinion) is that it's not what you are eating it's what you aren't eating that matters. Most likely if we are stuffing ourselves with processed foodlike substitutes, we aren't eating enough raw, whole foods!

So I have been on a journey these last few months, maybe prompted by this pregnancy and the need to eat and feel healthier, wanting to educate myself a little more on nutrition or because I also have hypothyroidism which makes both gaining and losing (in my case) very difficult! My journey started with researching raw foods, whole foods and just plain healthy foods. Over the last few months we've made a transformation in our house to eat healthier, and I've done it all without making a big fuss about it, holding a family meeting and tossing out all the processed foods in dramatic fashion. In fact what I did was the opposite of all that. And the family is currently riding on a little train, hopefully to better health without really knowing it!

So what did I do????

1.Stop stocking. I stopped buying processed snack and lunch items and just started letting them eat raw and whole foods instead. When the huge box of (carcinogen loaded) chips from costco was gone, I replaced them with dehydrated apple chips, pear chips, strawberry/banana chips.....and don't buy chips anymore. Instead of Goldfish and Teddygrams, I started offering sliced fruit, yogurt, fruit smoothies, granola, trail mix for snacks instead. When the questions was asked if we had any [fill in the blank] I would just say, "Nope we are out of that! But we have [replace the old blank]!

2. Be stealth.  Don't announce you used whole wheat flour instead of white for those yummy cookies, just let them enjoy! I don't notice the difference and neither do the kids when I exchange the whole wheat for the white flour in certain recipes (except my *famous* french bread, but you can make that whole what as well!). Slowly make switches from white rice to wheat, make it hapa style or half white and half wheat if you want to start slow.

3. Enjoy the homemade. Okay I love oreos and I am pretty sure those are full of processed foodlike substances. So when you want something not healthy (or semi healthy) make it yourself! Make your own cookies (and please let me know if you find a homemade recipe for oreos!). No preservatives, no dyes, you can change up the flour or eggs or butter with substitutes (or add blended veggies!) and still enjoy the sweets!

4. Don't go overboard. We aren't perfect or adamant about people not feeding our kids sugar or processed foods. But what we offer them now are much healthier alternatives. My kids are in my care and under my watch most of the time so I get to decide what they eat most of the time. So if they get something we aren't buying as snack at Awana, etc. I don't care. Like I said it's more about what they ARE eating most of the time.

5. Become a self appointed nutritionist. (without going overboard!!) Do a little reading and research about what is in foods! For instance did you know that a cup of peas has 10 grams of protein???? I was floored by this little bit of info, protein in veggies???? You'd be surprised what a little time reading about what is in healthy foods will encourage you too want to eat those healthy foods!

6. Cut down on animal products. You absolutely do not have to become a vegetarian or vegan (though you can!) but cutting down on animal products~ especially hormone/steroid/antibiotic fed ones can dramatically improve your well being and health!

So what about kids who don't like fruits or veggies? Enter Ellie. She likes apples (sometimes) bananas (on occasion) and licking the ranch dressing from carrots. this girl is a meat eater, especially pork products. So we do tastings with her. She does eat corn and some veggies and she isn't a gagger (thank the LORD!) but she won't choose fruits and veggies over the processed stuff. SO each week I buy a different fruit along with the ones we always have on hand and for either snack or lunches we taste! Studies have shown a few things about kids and food ::
  • It takes between 10-15 tastes to be accepted by the buds, so don't give up the first time your baby spits out peas or gags. Try it day after day after day! Even as kids get older and you want them to like or try certain foods. Keep offering and have them taste each time, one bite will do. They don't have to eat the whole bowl of sliced pears, just a taste! Now this doesn't guarantee they will eventually eat everything, but they will enjoy a wider variety of foods this way!
  • Monkey see Monkey do! If your kids see you munching on some watermelon or a pear or an avocado, eventually they will at least want to try it. They will copy our habits if we let them! And healthy habits are the best to copy! I didn't get ALL the kids drinking green smoothies by force feeding it down their throats. I drank them everyday! And eventually even Dave wanted to try them!
I know that buying fresh fruits and produce can be hard on a budget. But here is the interesting part. Since we've replaced the processed foods like chips, crackers, cookies etc with healthier foods, our grocery bill has not gone up, we are just spending it differently! You can get a bunch of bananas for less than a bag of chips! Once a month cooking has really helped us spend less as well, and costco has quite a bit of organic goods at great prices. Most things you can't use quick enough can be frozen! I bought a huge bag of Broccoli for about $4 (way cheaper than the regular grocery store) and froze half of it, slowly using it for cooking while the kids ate most of the other half with lunch and dinner raw or cooked! You just have to change your way of thinking about food and maybe be a little creative with it. Frozen fruit is awesome for
green smoothies! And an incredible way of getting all kinds of nutrients into you and your kids! (yes even better than chewing all that spinach!)

It's been an adventure for our family, and Dave even admitted all this "healthy eating" is rubbing off on him! He's cut down on one or less Pepsi a day and eating healthy snacks too! And I didn't even have to nag him at all. I just stopped buying the junk we had laying around!

Monday, March 1, 2010

{Speechless in Blog~land}

I've never been given a blog award before! 
I'm speechless!!!

Thank you Gina for your thoughtfulness!

Free Books!!

I found this awesome opportunity to get Free books in exchange for a review of that book! You can to apply and get accepted so I was a little nervous, seeing how I've only done one actual book review. But guess what? I got accepted and so can you!

I've said before I am a slight book nerd. {we borrow no less than 40 books at a time} but I really don't have the funds to buy every book I want to read. I borrow about 99% of the books I read. If it's a great book and one I know I'll reference again and again I buy it used (mostly off of those $,01 books!!). So when I saw this opportunity for FREE books in exchange for my personal opinion! No brainer!

I review for BookSneeze

Visit this website, spend about 1 minute filling out a little application, wait a few days and you too might be accepted to receive free books in exchange for reviews! You can even choose the catergories that you are interested in! From childrens' books to Spiritual books to fiction. Anything and everything! Plus YOU get to choose the books you review! They do NOT send you random books that you have to review! When you are done reading, you post a review or a link to you blog where the review is and you are eligible to receive another book! That's it! Don't know how to write a book review!? They even give you tips and guidlines to follow and stress honesty about the book based on your personal opinion!

I'm pretty excited about it! I had a hard time this morning picking books! Since Easter is around the corner I had been looking for something to do with the kids (kind of like the Jesse Tree at Christmas time) and found this book as an option::

Powered by Ingram Digital

From the Read and Share Bible brand, this retelling of the Easter story is explained in a way that helps young children understand the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Based on the International Children's Bible, this story walks through the last week of Christ's life and is told in a way that teaches children about the amazing gift Jesus gave us. Events include His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through His appearance to the disciples and His ascension. The "Can You Retell the Story" activity at the end of the book is a fun way to hide the Word in their heart.
The animated DVD includes a 15-minutes of stories plus coloring pages and other bonus features.

It comes with coloring pages, an activity and a we'll see!

There is NOTHING to lose with Book Sneeze! Try it out and let me know if you are accepted so us book nerds can share the wisdom!


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