Archive for February, 2012

Sample Gift Registry for the Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Cloth Diapering Mama

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

First time pregnant couples typically look at a list of suggested baby items and feel completely overwhelmed. There are usually SO many items on the suggested gift registry list provided by stores that sell baby gear. Couples wonder where they will put all of it or how much of it will they actually use? It’s hard to know as a first time parent who has yet to meet their baby what products they will love and which ones will end up buried in the back of the closet?

In attempt to perhaps minimize some of the anxiety expectant parents face when contemplating what to register for, I offer my ideal alternative gift registry for the Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Cloth Diapering Mama. Of course hindsight is at play here now that I know what products and brands I like, as well as what items I actually use with baby. However if I could go back in time six years ago and share this list with my first time pregnant self, it would save time and money trying to figure out what we needed to have in order to care for a new baby. Since that’s not an option (unless there is an app for time travel that I am unaware of?),  I thought it might be useful information to share with other expectant mommies instead. 🙂


2 quality nursing bras

3 quality nursing tanks

cloth nursing pads

nipple cream

manual pump (note: if you plan to bottle feeding on a regular basis, you will want an electric pump)

2 quality water bottles (to ensure mama gets enough water throughout the day)



Moby Wrap

ERGObaby carrier

Cloth Diapering:

24 cloth wipes

cloth wipe solution

changing pad

3 medium travel size wetbags

2 diaper pail liners

Petunia Pickle Bottom Backpack

5 pairs of BabyLegs

bumGenius Diaper Sprayer

Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy & Prevention

Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator

Charlie’s Laundry Soap

24 small prefolds

2 snappis

6 small covers

2 small wool covers

20 one size pocket diapers

8 large fitted diapers

6 large covers

2 large wool covers

10 fleece diaper liners

Note on the diaper selection: I like using prefolds and covers with newborns. I like using one size pocket diapers with infants through toddlers for day time diapers. I like using fitteds with covers with infants through toddlers for overnight diapers. Hence the variety in my ideal diaper stash. 🙂

In case you were wondering, Mom’s Milk Boutique actually has an on-line gift registry! Man, that would have been cool to register with MMB back when I was preggers with my first baby! As it was I didn’t end up registering anywhere. When people asked me what I wanted/needed for baby I would say “I don’t know” because I truly didn’t know. Turns out I didn’t really need much to care for baby…actually the most important things turned out to be breastfeeding, babywearing, and diapering! 🙂

What items not listed here would be essential on your dream registry list for the Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Cloth Diapering Mama?


Vegan FAQ

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I have observed a growing interest in people wanting to explore a plant-based diet and reduce consumption of animal products. I believe there are a few contributing factors to this trend including recent media on the topic and current research. Additionally there is a growing concern for the ecological impact of our food choices as well as a shift in thought regarding what foods are considered healthy.

While I have been a vegetarian for 16 years, I am still newer to being a vegan. I made the switch from vegetarian to vegan about 3 years ago. I get asked questions all the time about my family’s diet and thought I would answer some of the frequently asked questions about raising a vegan family.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite question: What do you eat for protein? We eat beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and other whole grains.

And the other favorite question: Why are you vegan? I believe a plant based diet carries great health benefits (primarily in disease prevention) and is an eco-friendly lifestyle choice. I also am not comfortable with the animal treatment practices of most agricultural businesses.

What does being vegan mean to you? For us it means not eating animal products or by products.

What milk substitutes do you drink? Most people assume we drink soy milk, however we don’t. Primarily because we eat tofu and tempeh on a fairly regular basis and I am careful not to consume too much soy. So instead we drink almond, rice, coconut, and hemp milk.

Are you 100% strict all the time? I find being a vegetarian in social situations to be fairly easy. Most people understand what it means and are respectful and even accommodating. However I find being vegan way more challenging in social settings. Most people don’t know what it means and generally there are no vegan options available at social events.  For example at a children’s birthday party there is typically cheese pizza and ice cream with cake. Or a well meaning friend will invite us to dinner and serve bean and cheese burritos or a cheese lasagna. I can appreciate that they have tried hard to prepare a vegetarian friendly meal but don’t fully understand our dietary preferences. Therefore in social situations I am more lax about dairy consumption (not meat though) as I am still figuring out how to navigate the social aspect of veganism with young children. Also since meat is not in desserts, my children don’t feel as though they are missing out not eating a piece of chicken at a picnic. However they sure as heck want a piece of cake at a birthday party and so I bend on those occasions. Also because we choose to be vegan (as opposed to being dairy free due to an allergy) I am comfortable with minimal amounts of dairy here and there.

Does it bother you when people eat meat in front of you? Nope not at all! 🙂

Do you ever crave meat? Rarely. I am pretty sure during my third pregnancy I said something about wanting chocolate covered bacon to my husband 🙂 but 99% of the time the thought of eating meat never occurs to me. I will admit that I usually think ribs smell amazing at BBQs…although at 32 years of age I have never actually eaten ribs despite how yummy I think they smell.

Do you ever crave dairy products? I honestly don’t. I think it’s because I quickly realized how much better I felt once I eliminated dairy from my diet.

Do your kids ask to eat meat? They are very curious about meat and will ask questions about it, but they have yet to ask if they can try some. Granted they are still very young and are at home with me, so their exposure to the meat eating world is still somewhat limited. They don’t yet understand it’s the exception rather than the norm to be vegetarian.

Do your kids ask to eat dairy?  They will ask for yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. There are several dairy-free options for these items made from rice, almond, coconut, or soy so usually I can usually offer them a satisfying substitute.

Will you let your kids eat meat if they want to? Yes. First though I would explain 1) where meat comes from and 2) why we have chosen not to eat it. If they still are interested, then they can choose to eat meat at a friend’s house, at a social event, or at a restaurant. However I will not prepare or serve meat in our home.

Is it possible to be a vegan while pregnant? Yep! I was during my third pregnancy and plan to be during any future pregnancies.

Is it possible to be a vegan while breastfeeding? Yep! I made the switch to vegan while my second son was still nursing and have been vegan the entire past year of nursing my third son.

Is it possible for athletes to be vegan? Yep! While I am not an actual athlete, I do a great deal of running on a vegan diet. My husband is also an avid runner and weight lifter all on a vegan diet. Brendan Brazier is a well known vegan athlete who created a line of vegan protein supplements geared for athletes.

Is it possible for vegans to eat out?  Yes, with limitations. We have found ethic restaurants such as Thai or Indian to have the best vegan options.

Do you think you’ll always be vegan? I can’t imagine not being vegan so while I can’t say for sure what the future holds, my best guess is yes I will continue to follow a vegan diet indefinitely.

For more information about vegan diets check out Vegan Action.

Have you explored a vegan diet? If so what was your motivation to do so? And what was your experience with it?


The YES Environment!

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Part of our YES environment for active boys includes an indoor swing and mini climbing wall

When my first son was just a few months old, I got the best piece of parenting advice to date. A friend of mine suggested to “always have an emergency sucker in my purse”. Even though she was half joking (and I am kind of embarrassed to admit) this has been an effective parenting tool that has saved us all, myself included, from complete meltdown more than once.

I received my second favorite parenting tip when my first son started to crawl. At that time a friend shared the idea of creating a YES environment in your home. What is a YES environment? It’s arranging your physical space to be baby/child friendly in order to decrease the frequency at which you are saying “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and the like. It’s a bit different than child-proofing as child-proofing typically only assess and removes potential dangers. Creating a YES environment goes a step further to create a space that understands and supports the development needs of young children to actively explore their environment. It also aims to minimize conflict between parent and child. A common example is to have non-breakable kitchenware in a few lower cabinets so that little curious hands can open doors, touch, rearrange, and even crawl into the cabinets. If you were only interested in baby-proofing you would simply put child-locks on ALL the cabinets. However a YES environment recognizes baby/child’s curiousities as valid and provides appropriate outlets for them.

For me having a YES environment means I don’t have very many decorative things around the house. I prefer not to spend energy constantly redirecting baby (or friends’ little ones when they visit) away from breakables. It also means I don’t have nice new furniture because I would rather not feel angry at my children for accidents such as spilling their drink or tracking in mud. I definitely talk with them about being careful, and/or responsible in these situations and may even have them help clean up. However I don’t have to exert energy being overly protective of furnishing and can respond to accidents calmly.

Another important part of having a YES environment for me is actually saying YES to my children when they ask something. Can we paint? Can we play in the water? Can we do playdough? Can we go for a bike ride? Can we take all the blankets and pillows off all the beds to make a fort? YES! Okay truth be told, sometimes (often) my first thought is “no way!”. But then I pause and ask myself why the answer is no? And if a valid reason does not come to mind (please note that “because it’s a big mess that I don’t want to have to clean up” IS a valid reason at times) then instead of resist, I aim to embrace their request. Sometimes the YES comes with limits such as “sure we can paint outside” or a compromise “if you want to play with water you can play in the bathtub” or a deal “okay, but you will need to put them all back when you are done”.

Critics of a YES environment might say “well a child needs to learn boundaries”. And be assured that I absolutely agree!! However I have faith and trust that the unpredictable nature of life itself will inevitably provide ample opportunity for a child to learn boundaries. And I also feel that the less frequently a child hears no, the more attentive and respectful they are when they do hear it.

Do you have a YES environment in your home? If so what does that look like for your family? What do you think the benefits of it are?


Silent Saturday: Too cold to play outside?

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Bring the outdoors IN!

12 month old playing with SNOW!

Getting Your Garden Ready: Composting 098

Friday, February 24th, 2012

With Spring right around the corner, many of you are probably starting to think about gardening! I know I am. The thought of warm sunshine and beautiful green things growing in my backyard is such a lovely thought this time of year. If you are thinking about gardening this Spring, no need to wait to begin… you can actually start working on your garden NOW! A great first step in organic gardening is to begin composting.

Kale freshly cut from our winter garden

Compost is defined as: “A mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients” (, 2012). Composting is a free and super easy way to create wonderfully rich soil for your garden. Granted there are special composting devices you can purchase, but truthfully you don’t need anything to compost, except for a designated space in your yard. There are different methods of composting, but the method I use is the most basic/simple approach (hence the title Composting 098…actually a step below the 101 level). It basically consist of a rotting pile of food in our backyard. 🙂 Yes, there are more scientific approaches, but if simple works why not just let life be simple?

Our compost pile; you can see the potato scraps grew into potato plants completely on their own

Start by surveying your backyard and selecting a place to compost. You will want to pick a place that gets a lot of sunshine. When selecting a location consider the following: a compost pile can be stinky, will attract bugs, and is not the most aesthetically pleasing site. This may factor into the distance you place it from your house. Additionally you want a place that makes it easy to transfer scraps from kitchen to compost pile and compost pile to garden. However you may want to limit accessibility to it if you have pets or small children. Our garden is fenced in and in a corner of  the garden is the compost pile.

Bowl of food scraps that sits on our counter

Next step is to develop a system of storing food scraps. Our method is simply a large bowl that sits on the counter and is added to throughout the day. Each night it gets emptied into the outdoor compost pile. You can put whatever food scraps you want into your compost pile, however we mostly limit ours to fruits, veggies, and coffee grounds. It is typically suggested to avoid putting dairy, meat, and oils into your compost pile. You can add grass and yard clippings into your compost pile, as well as paper products. If you are not going to use your compost for growing vegetables, and strictly for landscaping soil you can be more lenient about what you put into it. However if you are going to eat what grows in your composted soil, be more conservative regarding what you place in your compost pile.

Yesterday's lunch included cooked Kale grown in our very own backyard! Talk about locally grown food!!

Once you have your pile going, it honestly won’t need a lot of attention from you. You may turn it once in a while with a rake or spray it down with water if you live in a hot, dry climate like ours. But mostly you let it sit there and decompose using nature’s gifts of air and sunshine. You will know when your pile is ready to use in your garden because it will start to look less like rotting food and more like soil. This varies depending on the climate you live in and how much food scraps you generate, but it can take as little as a few months to have some beautiful organic soil ready for seeds!

Are you planning a Spring garden? If so what will you be growing? Would love to hear your garden plans!! 🙂