..."popsicles on the porch"...what a great afternoon treat and our favorite way to spend time together! These are simple and precious moments! Princess #1 and Princess #2 along with Little Man #1 and #2 are my inspiration for most of these writings.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: Great New Recipe!

So I haven’t gotten back into my Menu Plan Monday’s yet since our little guy arrived, but I did come across a great new 30 minute meal by Rachel Ray that I had to share! We had it for dinner the other night and the family loved it! If you love fish, then you’ll love this little dish and it was really easy to cook! It was actually my first time attempting to cook fish…so if I can do it, anyone can!

(Thanks to my neighbor Terri that lent me the coriander and dill in a pinch!)

Tilapia Club Stacks
8 bacon slices; center cut
2 to 2 ½ pds Tilapia (4 lg fillets and cut across into 8 equal pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1tsp chili powder
2 tsp group coriander
2 tsp dried dill
5 tsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Romaine Lettuce (I substituted with Kale--finely chopped)
2 Plum Tomatoes (halved lengthwise then thinly sliced into half-moons)
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat over to 375. Cook bacon until crisp for 20 -25min. Cut the bacon strips in half so that you have 16 halves.

Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Combine the flour, cornmeal, chili powder, coriander, and dill in shallow dish. Coat the fish with the cornmeal mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons EVOO, 3x around the pan, in a large non stick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the fish and cook until deeply golden on both sides, 8-10 minutes total. Remove and set aside.

Toss the Kale and tomatoes with the lemon juice in skillet (may need 2 tablespoons more of EVOO) and salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes…do not overcook. Kale should be soft but not wilted.

Layer each serving in a stack like this: a tilapia fillet, 2 crossed half-strips of bacon, a pile of salad, a second pile of tilapia fillet, another bacon criss-cross, and a final mound of salad.

To find other great recipes and full menu plans for the week, be sure to check out Org Junkie.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Gotta Go Pee-Pee!!!!

These words resound long and loud around our house these days! Only wish she’d give me this kind of warning before she has to go number two!!!

I’ve cleaned up two glorious messes today and good thing my mom gave us a steam cleaner for the accidents that have happened on carpet…our little one just can’t wait to remove her messy diaper!

Motherhood…who says it’s easy!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WFMW: Latches On Doors

My husband and I found these locks to be very useful and have placed them on the exit doors around our home.

These first came in handy after we caught our oldest, who was only 3 at the time, walking out the front door.

Apparently, our little neighbor next door came to see if she could play. I happened to turn the corner just in time to see her walking out the door behind him. Talk about scary. Oh, and did I mention that we are the corner house next to a very busy street.

We recently put a few more up on the girl’s bedroom closet and kitchen pantry door. I was growing weary of the girls going in their closet to dress themselves only to find their clothes and shoes thrown about...everday day ALL day! It was definitely getting out of hand. BTW-- all 3 share a closet! I had to get a handle on the madness!!

We only keep their clothes (no toys) in this particular closet but it’s helped to contain the unwanted messes and my favorite…kept them from changing clothes 3 or 4 times a day (why do they like to do that?)!! Only downfall is that I have to make sure to unlock the closet for them in the morning and then again before bedtime.

We found this useful on our pantry door as well because the girls love pulling out the paper cups, spoons, plates, and etc… Thank goodness the snacks were contained on a higher shelf, otherwise things could have been a lot worse!

Needless to say, no more red cups tossed about all over the kitchen floor. Yeah!! These little babies work for me. For more WFMW tips, be sure to visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now that's what I call Friendship!

The other night Tim and I had just finished putting the girls to bed when we heard a knock at the front door. It was 9:00pm...who could it be? We both looked at each other as if to ask the other who’s there.

It was our neighbor, Roland (or as Ellie loves to call him, Mr, Roley), delivering us an unexpected meal! What was the occasion? Nothing. He dropped by with dinner in hand for no other reason other than he was thinking of us.

Lucky us!

And his timing I might add was perfect! With all the Sunday activities we were finally getting around to eating-- just the two of us when we heard his knock at the front door.
Not only did he have dinner (Cha-Roland as he so cleverly named it), but He made dessert too!

TIm and I enjoyed every bit of it! Thanks "Mr. Roley!" We love that he felt comfortable enough to pop in on us and were so blessed by the gesture.

It’s great to have such awesome neighbors that look out for you and even better when you feel so comfortable with each other that you can open the door looking like this!!

Lovely huh? Complete with spit up stains on the upper right hand corner of my shirt! Now that's real friendship!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Everything Has It's Place"

Not only do the girls have clean up time before nap time and before Tim comes home in the evening, but now that they're a little older, I’ve been trying to teach them to pick up their toys and clean their room before we head out somewhere. It doesn’t always work; especially on the days that we’re running behind, but lately it’s becoming more and more routine.

Since the girls usually have room time while I get ready, I normally give them a countdown of some sort so they have plenty of time to pick up their playthings. Usually, it’s enough to remind them that we can’t do _________________ until we pick up our room (especially when they want to meet with friends), but if that doesn’t work the good ole’ jellybean reward has been a great incentive…another great tip from my girl Lisa Whelchel!

Basically, the girls have to earn a certain amount of jellybeans throughout the week in order to earn the privilege of watching a movie of their choice (mommy approved) on Friday night. Jelly Beans can be earned by having good manners, being obedient, being respectful, cleaning up their room, helping out around the house, and any other behavior that I can catch in the moment that is worthy of a reward.

Some might view as bribery, but it helps our little ones wrap their minds around these concepts and serves as a great teaching tool for us. Not to mention, I love that my girls are learning responsibility, how to take care of their things, and the value of having a clean room which carries over into our home. Even at an early age, I know they understand the value of having a clean home because my 4yr old frequently tells me “oh, thank you mommy for washing my clothes.” In the afternoon when I’m picking up the stray toys lying around the house I might get asked, “Mommy, why are you cleaning the house?” I love telling them that I’m getting ready for their papi to come home.

When everyone pulls together to clean their own area, it also helps mommy keep the house a little tidier as well. But an even bigger plus is that I'm able to nap tired kiddos right away when we return home, instead of wasting time clearing away clutter just to get them to their beds.

I would say there’s nothing better than coming home to a clean house, but as I was headed to the laundry room to iron a blouse, I heard my 4yr old teIl her little sister, “sweetie, everything has it’s place” and then showed her where that item went. Now that takes the cake! (Even though my husband is probably rolling his eyes somewhere as though it’s a hopeless cause, I know he secretly loves it!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Booty Camp and The Potty Whisperer

We all know how frustrating and tiring potty training can be. Wendy Sweeney, a registered nurse and mom of six holds a "booty camp" for tired parents that guarantees to have your child potty trained in one day. This five hour course helps toddlers rise to the occasion by teaching them how to listen to their bodies and take responsibility for their actions. Check out her students at "Booty Camp".

What are your potty training tips, successes and or horror stories!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFMW: Saving Plastic Bags

Saving the plastic bags that clothes, linens and other various products come in sure have come in handy--a great tip my mom gave me! I have used these to save various things like toys, puzzle pieces and even organizing the endless and ever-growing kids socks!

Recently this came in handy when the girls received sleeping bags for Christmas. Instead of shoving them away in a closet somewhere, I was able to store these together in the plastic bag that I had saved from an old comforter. Now these are tucked away very neatly in the top shelf of the girl’s closet. It’s simple, practical and works for me!

For more WFMW tips be sure to visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Top Baby Must Haves

The other day our swing started acting up and I found myself thinking, “oh no, I don’t know what I’d do without my swing."

Not only does our little guy sleep so well in this thing, but with a mild case of reflux, being in an upright position helps him sleep longer stretches; especially at night. It’s really just all about survival these first few months! :)

**Before you say,"won’t that spoil him??" The answer is Of Course Not! :) While there is an age appropriate time to sleep train, etc… we are firm believers that there really is nothing you can do to spoil your baby in the first few months of life.

Anyway, as I started pondering this, I realized there are many things even the 3rd time around that “I don’t know what I’d do without.”

So, below is a few of my top baby must haves.
1. Portable Swing--great for travel and great space saver!

2. A
Sling, Carrier or Wrap

3. A
Hooter Hider –loving mine!

4. Video Monitor—I love being able to see baby…helps give me peace of mind.

Co-Sleeper- has been helpful for nursing in the wee hours

Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child--I still refer to this book from infant thru toddler years...a great read!

7. Swaddling Blankets --I hear
these are pretty good but I haven’t yet tried

Super Baby Food--I plan on doing this again and found this was a great read with helpful tips on how to make your own baby food.

9. A Car Seat-- (We love Britax)

10. Electric Breast Pump (Available for rent at local hospitals)

11. Madela Micro Sterile Bags(for bottles, nipples, pacifiers, etc..)-- I originally purchased the big bulky kind that took up way too much room on my counter top. Now I can just pop this in the microwave and the bags are easily stored away.

12. Lansinoh Breast Pads- After a rather embarassing experience while leading a meeting at work, I am sold on these! They're awesome and leak proof!

13. Lansinoh Wipes--so soft and gentle on baby’s bottom and smells good too!

14. Dr. Smith's Ointment--expensive but worth every penny!

15. Pack-n-play

16. Swaddlers Pampers--
These also look pretty cool if you're interested in cloth diapers!

17. Good Burping Cloths --our little guy has soaked us a time or two!

18. White T-shirts--with frequent changings in the first few months, I found the little tees to be so much easier instead of constantly snapping and unsnapping outfits. They're also a lot cooler if you swaddle.

19. Pacifier--so far our little guy has not taken a liking to this yet…we're keeping our fingers crossed!! If we end up having to use one,
these have been great; especially for traveling!

Portable Potty Seat--Peace of mind for a germ freak like me! I take to parks, zoo, and etc..

These are a few staple items that have come in handy around our home. What about you? What's your baby must haves? I'd love to hear how they've been helpful to you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Green Our Vaccines

Being a baby sling lover and preparing for water activities this summer, I was online reviewing water resistant slings when I stumbled upon this blog. Intrigued, I started skimming the pages of her blog when I came across this question, “You really don't Vaccinate your children?" on her FAQ page.

I was totally shocked! I couldn’t believe that there were parents that would actually choose not to vaccinate their children. However, as I read further, I began to understand why she felt led to make this decision, especially concerning her son Noah. You can read more here. It's an awesome story and a great testimony to the miracle that God worked in their family!

Anyway, as I read her blog entry, “Stirring the Pot” it did just that. Being that Cash had just been immunized with 5 shots that same day, it intrigued me and stirred up all sorts of questions about vaccines, their safety, what’s in them, can they be linked to autism, and how does using a one size fits all approach really affect our children? Here are few things I came across:

1. Though not proven, there is question of whether vaccines are linked to the high rise in autism over the last several years. Click here for more information.

The short of it is that many of the children's vaccines contained a toxin called Thimerosol which contains mercury. Thimerosol is used as a preservative and is believed to be responsible for autism, attention deficit disorder, speech delays, and other childhood neurological disorders now epidemic in the United States.

Mercury is a known brain poison, and it is the belief of many that this may have contributed to the growing rate of autism in the U.S. A decade ago the American Academy of Pediatrics estimated the autism rate among American children to be 1 in 2,500. Today, the CDC places the rate at 1 in 166, or 1 in 80 boys. Additionally, one in six children is now diagnosed with a related neurological disorder.

**Thimerosal was reported to be taken out of the vaccines in 2001 but it is still currently used in the Flu Shot and MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella).

2. Vaccines contain Toxins-- In addition to Thimerosal, there are many other toxins used as preservatives. Click here for a list of each vaccine's ingredients.
(Notice the animal by product column which include ones derived from monkey, chick and aborted babies.)

A few other facts about these toxic ingredients....

Aluminum- it has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and seizures

Formaldehyde- is known to cause cancer

Mercury -has been a topic of wide discussion.

Monkey Tissue - is used to prepare the polio vaccine. There have been lots of polio vaccines over the years that have been contaminated by Simian Virus 40 (SV40). Some people have linked simian virus to childhood tumors, as the tumors have been known to contain the simian virus in it.

Not only do vaccines contain toxins but...

3. The number of shots our children receive has significantly increased over the last several years--In 2007 it was reported that by the age of 6, children received a total of 36 shots compared to only 10 back in 1983! What a huge contrast! In addition, there is no research on the cumulative effects of these toxins given all at the same time. This is very alarming!

In the early 1990s, public health officials dramatically increased the number of Thimerosal-containing vaccinations without considering the cumulative impact of the mercury load on developing brains.

In a 1991 memo, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, one of the fathers of Merck's vaccination programs, warned his bosses that 6-month-old children administered the shots on schedule would suffer mercury exposures 87 times the government safety standards. He recommended that Thimerosal be discontinued and complained that the US Food and Drug Administration, which has a notoriously close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, could not be counted on to take appropriate action as its European counterparts had.

Merck ignored Hilleman's warning, and for eight years government officials added seven more shots for children containing Thimerosal. In 1985, children were vaccinated for seven diseases. Now, that number is 16. That means children now endure about 37 separate vaccination encounters.

I recall the day that I delivered Cash and I was asked to sign a consent allowing the hospital to give him a Hep B shot. I was not aware of this whole issue and I unknowingly gave consent believing that this was the only and best option for my baby. However, upon researching a little further I discovered that Hepatitis B is contracted through the following ways: blood, semen, or from an infected mother.

Being that I was not an infected mother and that it is highly improbable that my son would have caught this disease any other way; I am not sure why it was necessary for him to get this shot. When I called the hospital to find out and inquired about this with his doctor, to my disappointment the answer I received was that it simply was part of the vaccination schedule. (Later, I discovered that many wait until the 2 or 4 mo period, but this was an option that I was unaware of)

And what about...

4. The one size fits all approach?-- One response to those children that were reported to be in good health prior to being vaccinated, but then suddenly developed autism after being vaccinated, is that these children were already predisposed to autism to begin with. Many believe this to be true but also believe that the stress of the vaccinations on the body can be a trigger that helps to turn on these genes.

Our children are all unique; shouldn't they be treated as individuals? What may present as no risks for one child may present enormous risks for another. What If certain children are genetically predisposed, then how do we know those that will have an adverse reaction to these vaccines and those that will not if we treat them with a one size fits all approach? These are the questions I've been asking myself lately.

Many other concerned parents will be joining Jenny Mc Carthy and Jim Carrey as they lead the Green Our Vaccines Rally in Washington today. Their goal is to urge government officials to reassess the current vaccine schedule and remove the toxic ingredients out of our vaccines! Click here for more details.

As for me, I am still researching and praying about what is best for our family and have already begun addressing my concerns with my pediatrician regarding the vaccination schedule and safety. I was somewhat relieved when she suggested an alternative vaccination schedule which would space out the number of shots given. So, instead of 5 shots given in one sitting, we would do two and then return in a month or two for the remaining shots.

As I prepare for the kids next round of shots (2yr, 4yr and 4mo) I am thoroughly researching this option. Here is a book by Dr.Sears which addresses this alternative vaccine schedule. In addition, here is some helpful information concerning Sears and his thoughts on alternative scheduling.

In the meantime, if you're unsure where you'll land, here are some additional tips I found on how to arm yourself: (Also, be sure to check out the links at the very bottom of this post including the Larry King interview with Jenny Mc Carthy and physicians.)

Arming Yourself
1.Make sure to ask your Physician for Thimerosal Free Vaccines.
2.Request singular viral or bacterial injections
3.Space injections out with at least 3wks in between
4.Excluding extenuating circumstances, begin vaccine protocol no earlier than one year old.
5.Many homeopathic or naturopathic doctors have found homeopathic nosodes to be a safe way to vaccinate. They are a dilution of the vaccine.
6.You can prepare your child’s body to handle the viral impact by giving him/her vitamin C and Bs prior.
7.Breast-fed babies have the advantage of colostrum for immune function

Alternative Vaccine Schedule

Other informative Links:
Jenny Mc Carthy-on Larry King

2.Robert Kennedy

4. IOM-- here

Evidence of Harm-I hear this book is very informative

6. Dr. Sheri Tenpenny- I have not yet had a chance to view these but I heard Dr. Tenpenny's DVD series is also very informative as she covers each vaccine, what the CDC has to say about them and her medical opinion for each.

7. American Acadamy of Pediatrics- http://www.cispimmunize.org/ or http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/vaccinesafety-May08.htm

Monday, June 2, 2008

I LOVE Baby Wearing!

A friend of mine lent me her ring sling after the birth of my first baby and to my surprise, I loved it! I’ve been hooked ever since!

Not only does baby wearing promote parent child bonding and help to soothe baby, but it’s very practical and functional! A definite must have for mommies on the go (or mommies with small children)!

I am amazed at how easily baby falls asleep in these things! The sling has been a life saver on numerous occasions. Not only when shopping alone with the kids, but especially when juggling the kiddos at bedtime. I can pop baby in the sling and attend to the girls all at the same time!

While I loved the ring sling because it was great for nursing and could easily be adjusted to fit me or my husband (he’d only wear it around the house), I wanted something a little more lightweight and portable.

So, when we had baby number two I decided to purchase a Hot Sling. I was attracted to this sling not only because it was super stylish, but I loved the idea of being able to fold and tuck it away in my purse or diaper bag! It was light weight and very convenient. However, to my disappointment I soon discovered that it wasn’t very practical for nursing. This was a definite let down.

Needless to say, I have been shopping for slings again. This time I decided to try a wrap with baby number three! Though they look somewhat intimidating, wraps offer the same hands free convenience as slings and have a variety of different ways you can wear your baby inlcuding the front, hip and back! In addition, their great for nursing!

Here is the Gypsy Mama Balibaby Gauze I just purchased at The Sling Station. I also decided to try this water wrap as well. I know we will be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer (a place where I definitely need to be hands free). I can’t wait to try them both out!

I’ll be sure to follow up with my reviews. I'd love to hear your reviews of baby slings, wraps or carriers and your adventures in baby wearing!