Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some eco-baby care favorites!

Some people have asked me lately about the products we use on Munchkin. I definitely try to research and find products that are as safe and natural as possible. Since she also has very dry skin and eczema, we also consider that when making our decisions.

Some of our favorites:

Aubrey Organics Natural Baby and Kids Soap - we bought this on a whim when we ran out of our regular shampoo. At first, I was a little taken back by the scent, which is a light herbal tone. Now, though, I love it and can't get enough whiffs of Munchkin's freshly shampooed hair. We use it all over her body and it leaves her skin clean and fairly hydrated.

Weleda Calendula Baby Cream - this stuff is so thick and creamy, like an ointment, and it does wonders for dry, itchy skin. Plus, I love, love, love the Calendula scent! We use several Weleda products in our household, but this is one of my absolute favorites.

Alba's Un-Petroleum Jelly - Everyone knows that a tube of petroleum jelly is considered a staple for new babies. But what about eco-conscious moms who want something that isn't petroleum based? Enter Alba's Un-Petroleum Jelly, made from "pure plant oils and all natural waxes". The result? A nice way to grease up anything without relying on petroleum!

Badger SPF 30 Sunblock - Badger is another brand that we really like in our household, and their sunscreen is no disappointment. It is mineral-based and 100% natural, without the nasty chemicals that you might find in some other sunscreens. It offers protection from both UVA and UVB. Like many natural sunscreens, it does go on thick and leaves a white finish, but Munchkin never seems to mind. We've used it swimming, boating, and hiking and she's never shown any signs of sun exposure.

So what products do you love in your household? I would love to hear about them!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Checking In!

It has been a quiet few weeks here on my blog because our real life has just been a little, well, crazy!

On a sad note, just a few weeks after writing this tribute to our dog Jasmine, we had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep. Of course this has been a difficult time for our family as we're adjusting to a new empty spot in our hearts and home. But we do have fond memories of our big goofy girl! And to all of the other families with large dogs like great danes, labradors, etc, please make sure that you are aware of the possibility of bloating and what steps to take if this medical emergency occurs in your pet. We were able to recognize the signs very quickly in our Jasmine and rushed her to the vet right away. Unfortunately, though, she required intensive surgery to save her life and at her age we were afraid it would just be too much. She will be greatly missed. Our munchkin still gets a big smile on her face when we come home and open the door, waiting for her sniffs and doggie kisses.

And, as a reminder, even if I don't have a new post to share, I'm almost always updating my list of interesting articles and posts that I've found on other blogs and sites. So check back often and look for the tan list over there on the right side - I usually find everything from recipes and green tips to parenting and even just plain fun. Enjoy!

Finally - for those who use the e-mail subscription service - I know that you're probably not getting any actual info in your e-mails. It looks like they are coming through as just blank pages. I'm looking into it and trying to figure out a solution. If you have any hints, pass 'em on!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Foodie Linky Love

I've shared before about recipes and cookbooks that I love, so I thought I would dedicate an entire post to some of my favorite food and recipe sites.  Fortunately, Mr. T and I both enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes!

Photo: Minted Grape Couscous from Foodie Reflections, discovered at TasteSpotting.

One of my newest obsessions is TasteSpotting, a "community driven visual potluck".  Yum!  I like to refresh the page several times a day just to absorb the gorgeous photos and exquisite recipes, foodie articles, and links, all submitted by users.

Another discovery - frugal eating recipes from Erin at $5 Dinners.  Not only are the meals inexpensive, but they are often (surprisingly!) healthy and made from natural, whole food ingredients.  Don't worry - these ideas go far beyond ramen noodles and boxed mac and cheese!  She also posts weekly menu plans, shopping tips, and coupon links.

For an interesting challenge, check out Once A Month Mom, who does a batch of "power cooking" one day a month to fill her freezer with all of the meals for that month.  Intrigued?  Me, too!  Find out more information here, or go to her current section for August.  And if, like me, you're not quite ready to commit to the idea of one crazy day of power cooking, it is also a great place to get ideas for freezer-ready recipes!  And, she even features a baby food section, all for a one-day commitment!

Feeling overwhelmed with recipe ideas?  Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for her weekly Monday Menu Plan, where hundreds of bloggers link their weekly menu plans (that often include links to recipes!)  Why start from scratch when you can grab ideas from other great plans?

And, since we're often making homemade baby food for Munchkin, I can't forget the baby food sites!  Wholesome Baby Food is a classic that I have referenced many, many times.  Recipe suggestions from simple first purees to toddler dishes, plus a ton of nutrition information to boot.  Definitely one to bookmark!

And a new baby food favorite: Weelicious!  Now with "big kid food", too, to help you with ideas for the whole family.  Yummy and healthy suggestions with gorgeous photos, like the one here of the tropical fruit puree.

Finally, want a site to share some of your family's favorite recipes?  Jessie at Vanderbilt Wife hosts a "Family Recipe Friday" where you can link up your favorite recipe, and find treasured meals from other families, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yay for winning!

So have I ever mentioned before that I love winning things? No?? Never?

Well, one of the best things about entering blog giveaways is that the chances are good and you can actually win cool stuff!

So, announcing my two most recent wins (yay!):

- a $25 gift certificate to Passion Spice from Your Mama Reviews. Woo-hoo - sexy nursing bras finally!


- a $50 gift certificate to Tiny Prints from Happy Healthy Families. Which just happens to be one of my favorite custom paper and invitation sites, just in time for Munchkin's first birthday. Woo-hoo!

So, are you ready to join in the fun? Here are some lists of current giveaways out there in the blogging world - you never know what you will find!

All In a Mom's Life - look under the "linky"
Deal Seeking Mom - a huge list!
The "Cent"sible Sawyer - check the main page each week for a new list
A Contest Blog - a blog just about, well, giveaways!
Free Blog Giveaways - very user friendly

Hopefully this gets you started. I'll warn you - it is addictive. Not only are the odd of winning so good, but they also often feature products from small companies or crafty mamas that otherwise you would never know about. Some of my favorite finds have been through these blog giveaways!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And the winner is...

...Abby! Congrats, Abby, for winning the Sweet Pea Central Giveaway! Abby gets her choice of a personalized "funsie", charming tutu, or sweet set of headbands from Sweet Pea Central!

And if you didn't win but still want one of Evyn's great products, check out her newly-stocked special sale opening up this Friday! If you don't see exactly what you like, send her an e-mail. I sent her a picture of Munchkin's spring dresses and she made two headbands that matched perfectly!

Thanks, Sweet Pea Central! Abby, enjoy your prize!

Fun with know you want to read it!

As you probably know, I'm not a corporation. I'm not an attorney. I'm not a PR specialist. I'm not a sponsored writer.

I'm just a mom. Wife. Person. Sometimes a teacher. Sometimes a librarian. I love to read. I love to write. I love to connect online. So I thought I would start a blog. Only natural, right?

What a time to enter the blogging world! It turns out that mommy bloggers are big business for corporations who would love to get their advertising foot in the door of your homes. So much so that the FTC is cracking down on it, according to PC World.

So a friend who is more experienced in the blogging world suggested that I add some policy statements, just to clarify who I am and what I'm doing. I thought, "Me?? Little ol' me? Who really cares about that???" Well, I guess some people do, so here goes....

In case it isn't obvious, I do have ads posted to the sidebar over there. See 'em? Pretty obvious. And obviously, the intent is to generate income. Which, if you know anything about blogging, is pretty much a pittance. I'll let you know when I've earned enough for that first cup of coffee. Posting ads is a big decision to make, and one that I didn't take lightly. In the end, I decided that I would love to dedicate more time to making this blog worth your while, so generating an income from it, however small, is one way to make that more possible. Hopefully you find the ads interesting and relevant, at best. At the very least, hopefully they are unobtrusive and unoffensive. If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know.

This one is easy right now, because I don't use any. Just me. And I don't pay very well. Sigh. If this ever changes, rest assured that it will only be for companies that I truly endorse and believe are valuable. Just don't be on pins and needles waiting for it. :)

From time to time, I do product reviews and host giveaways on this blog, primarily because I think that they are fun and interesting for most readers. In fact, reading product reviews and entering giveaways are some of my favorite things to do in the blogosphere!

Once again, though, the line of trust gets blurred if the writer's sincerity is somewhat influenced by the perks from the corporations.

Believe me, if I put it on my blog, I mean it. Sometimes as a blogger you receive product samples to try at home for the purpose of writing a review. When this happens, I will clearly note that I did receive the products from the company for the purpose of review. And trust me, if I write something good about a product, it is only because I really believe it. I promise.

On the same note, if a company wants to sponsor a giveaway, I will gladly share it with you as long as it meets my personal quality criteria. Sometimes, they don't. For example, I teased about an upcoming giveaway in a post a few weeks ago, and yet there have been no new giveaways. Why? Because after some research, I don't feel that it was really a great product to give away. But I plan to host more giveaways that I do think you will enjoy, so stay tuned!

Believe me, I am not keeping track of your emails and selling them to cheap bidders of spam lists! The only time I share your information is if you happen to win a giveaway and I need to put you in contact with the sponsor.

Of course, this is a public site and anything that you post here can be read by many others, so only post what you are comfortable with sharing.

My site is hosted by blogger and all of its privacy policies apply. I also use Google site tools like Analytics, which does keep track of basic information similar to cookies on most public internet sites, like the internet browser that people use, or what country they visit from.

Phew. I think that's it! Are you still with me? I'm impressed! As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know! I love all of your feedback!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Articles to share, and a giveaway ending!

I just wanted to write a quick post to highlight some good articles and blog posts I've found.

And, to remind everyone to make sure you enter the giveaway for the a personalized onesie, tutu, or set of headbands from Evyn at Sweetpeacentral before it ends tonight! I have one of her personalized "funsies" and I love it. As soon as I think up something creative to say I will have to order another one.  Any suggestions?

I've recently joined Twitter (yes I'm a dinosaur!) and I am amazed at the amount of information that gets passed so quickly.  These are some of my random favorite posts and articles that have been shared recently.  Of course, keep in mind that some of them are blogs written by individuals and I haven't personally researched or confirmed the information there, so your mileage may vary.  Are you on twitter?  Let me know!  If you want to follow my posts, just go to @missionofmama.

  •  Save 30% at Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic and have 5% of your purchase donated to charity (your choice of three).  Coupon here at Baby Cheapskate

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Confessions of an Eco Mommy

I must admit to having a little guilt after my "It's Not Easy Being Green" post. I try, try, try to be green and make good choices, but it isn't always easy! I'm certainly not always a poster child for green living.

Then I read Mom Confessions: Eco Edition at Eco Child's Play and I thought I would join in with a few confessions of my own. You know, assuage my non-green guilt a little. So here goes...

1) I love taking long, hot showers. The kind that turn your skin red and puckery. And I have even been known to take a quick shower, and THEN fill up the bathtub for a little soak. Not often, but sometimes. When it's been one of those days. Ahhhh...

2) I like things. Buying things. Having things. And I like sparkly, shiny, clean new things. I'm not a label diva or brand name goddess, but I do like shopping. And buying. And having. Especially now that I have munchkin and there are so many stinkin' cute baby things. Despite my best efforts to contain it, sometimes the shopping beast rears its ugly head.

3) I do the drive-thru more often than I want to admit. Like tonight, when the fridge is literally bursting with green, organic CSA produce freshly harvested from a local farm, already paid for and sitting at its peak of flavor. So what did Mr. T and I eat? Taco Bell. Sigh. Because it was one of those nights.

4) I often once in a while throw glass into the trashcan. Because our curbside recycler won't accept it. And the nearest drop-off place is about 45 minutes away. And sometimes that 45 minute drive just doesn't get done.

5) I secretly envy my neighbor's plush, green, chemical-laden lawns. As I spend hours on my butt in our dandelion-dense yard, pulling weeds by hand and realizing that the weeds are much faster that I will ever be, I secretly consider going to Lowe's and picking up a bag of weed-and-feed. Because sometimes that corn gluten stuff is for the birds. And maybe if the birds didn't eat it all, it would actually work better on the weeds.

Ok, I feel a little better already. I know, you're judging me, right? But surely, deep down, you have a few confessions of your own. Dare to add them below?

Monday, July 27, 2009

A child of a different nature

Before we were blessed to be the parents of our Munchkin, we were the "parents" of several furry creatures, big and small. And when I say big, I mean, well, big.

Meet Jasmine, our "petite" great dane that we adopted five years ago from the Great Dane Rescue, Inc. She was six years old at the time, still young and spritely! As many childless couples do, we spoiled her and loved her like our own child.

Of course, time goes by and life changes. Our happy-go-lucky Jas is now an elder at the ripe old age of almost twelve. And showing her age as only big dogs can. As our vet said at her last visit, "She's not even supposed to be alive!" She's made it through cancer, lupus, a broken back, and severe allergies and dermatitis. She's stiff, and she groans, and she snores in her sleep all day long, and yet she still greets us with a happy wag of her tail stump-where-her-tail-was-once-before-cancer.

Of course, like most parents-to-be with a dog, we were concerned about how to make the transition from a childless home to a home filled with the piercing cries of a wriggly foreign creature that suddenly was the center of all attention. We read tips from the Humane Society, Baby Center, the Dog Whisperer. We planned and read, read and planned, and we worried. Our Jas had always been a gentle giant, but with her unknown past and a few quirks along the way, what would happen when the munchkin arrived? When you have a 125-lb dog with a head as big as your own, filled with a jaw of sharp teeth, you have to be a little concerned.

Finally the day arrived when we brought our munchkin home from the hospital, feeling that crazy mix of anticipation, fear, excitement, bliss, and disbelief that all new parents share. We followed all of the tips to introduce them slowly, over time, until finally it was time for Jas to meet the Munchkin face to face. Rather, face to toe. Mr. T carefully held Munchkin in his arms, while I held Jas's lead very, very cautiously. Jas looked at her, sniffed her sock, sniffed Mr. T's hand, and less than 15 seconds later, unceremoniously went to her bed and with a "hrump", curled up for a nap. A little anti-climatic after our months of worry.

Fast forward to now, nine months later. Munchkin is delighted by Jas, and she perks up her head to find her every time Jas snorts, sniffs, or farts yawns. And Jas? She is the same happy-go-lucky dog she always was before.

In fact, it would appear that nothing has changed in Jas's life. This huge, momentous occasion that changed Mr.T and I forever...the arrival of our baby...seemed just another ho-hum event in Jas's daily routine of naps, poops, and feeds.

Except for one thing. Jas has always slept in the living room of our house since the day we moved in three years ago. Lately, though, I've noticed that her favorite pillow tends to migrate, little by little, down the hallway. Until it stops here:

Right outside our Munchkin's door.

Good night, dear Munchkin. Good night, sweet Jasmine.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Couponing 101, Again

Some of you might remember this post that I wrote called Couponing 101. It has been a pretty popular post, so if you haven't read it you might want to check it out. Hopefully it has saved you some money!

I just came across another "Couponing 101" series from the Grocery Price Blog, who also features a big price comparison database for several large grocery chains! I found some good coupon tips there and thought I would share:
Coupons Part 3 - Tips of the Trade

Of course, if you have any good coupon suggestions, please add a comment below. I would love to read them!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A work in progress

As many of you know, I'm fairly new to the blogging world. There is so much to learn! It seems like I could spend hours a day just researching all of the widgets and gadgets and whatnots that are out there. Not to mention actually coming up with posts to write about! I feel like I have so many interests and different things to write about that it is hard to narrow it down. Which leaves me afraid that I'm creating a rambling mess. You would let me know if that was the case, right? Right???

It is fun to experiment with the different features, too, like my signature at the bottom of the posts. Cool, right? At least I thought so :) One of my other newest additions on the right lets me share some of my favorite posts from other blogs with you. There is so much good information out there in the blogosphere. I try to feature some of the best information in my own posts, but this way it will be easier to share a lot more with you regularly, from hot deals and freebies to good green tips. Feel free to check it out!

So, please feel free to leave me some comments and let me know what you like, what you don't like, and what new things you would like to see. I love your comments!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's not easy being green!

It seems like it should be easier than ever to go green, right? Everywhere you turn, there are new products joining the green team. Even big name companies are joining in the movement, like the Nature's Source products from S.C. Johnson that I featured in two giveaways.

Normally this would be a good thing. Several years ago, when I first started my attempts to be more green, it was so difficult to find good products that were readily available and affordable. Today it is much easier, and the growing awareness means that more and more families are thinking about how they can choose products that are safer for their families and our planet.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies still have a different type of "green" in mind when they think about the growing trend of eco-consciousness. Green as in money, of course. Buzzwords like "natural", "organic", and "earth-friendly" are now plastered across television ads and product labels. It seems like every industry, from computers to cars to cookware, has a new product or campaign that is targeted to be eco-friendly.

But what does it mean? There are some trustworthy seals and certifications out there, but for the most part a company can take any old product and slap a nice-sounding green label on it, when in fact the product is really no different than the conventional version. Hence, the greenwashing that we encounter daily, on the television, in the grocery store, in our news papers and magazine articles.

Parents are no exception to the targeted deception. Think about the average new parent that is suddenly and entirely responsible for such a tiny, vulnerable creature. Many people realize that taking steps to go green is important for the health of our environment and ultimately their own little one. But for someone who is new to the whole thing, it can be intimidating and overwhelming enough to evaluate all of the baby products out there, without even considering the green factor. So many of us see a label that touts "organic" or "natural" and we think, "Ok, great! I'll pick this one so that my little munchkin will be safe and healthy!" Yet the product that we've just spent our money on (often more than we would have spent on a "regular" product) in fact filled with all of the same unhealthy junk that we thought we were avoiding.

For example:
- The Serta Perfect Balance Organic Crib mattress is made with "organic cotton layers". Sounds good, right? Especially since crib mattresses are a big source of concern for the scary toxins that they can contain. But although this mattress might contain some organic cotton inside and has a pthalate-free cover, the rest of the mattress contains many of the same concerning ingredients as their conventional mattresses, including their chemical-laden fire-retardants, anti-microbials, and a vinyl cover. So why are we spending more money for that word "organic"?

-Huggies Pure and Natural Diapers "include" organic cotton and recycled fibers. But all in all, are they really that different than standard Huggies? Are they worth the premium price? Should they really offer new moms the peace of mind of a "pure" diaper? No, at least according to Safe Mama who says that in many ways they are identical to their conventional (and cheaper) Huggies counterparts, including potentially nasty ingredients.

- Aveeno Baby Products are "formulated with Aveeno Naturals", like the Soothing Relief Moisture cream that is "enriched with natural colloidal oatmeal". Sounds fabulous, yes? Except they don't broadcast that it also contains methylparaben, ceteareth-6, bezalkonium choloride, and a host of other things that you probably don't want rubbed on your little one's skin. In fact, the Environmental Working Group rates it as a 6/10 (a moderate hazard) on their cosmetics scale.

- Disney Baby "Gentle Naturals" have created a soft, gentle image, and they are proud that they offer "nurturing treatments that are as gentle as a hug from Baby Pooh." For example, their Baby Eczema Wash "is enriched with natural calendula and jojoba". But again, they don't brag about the other ingredients that are certainly not natural, like sodium laureth sulfate, triethanolamine , and several parabens, which have been linked to breast cancer and can mimic estrogen in the human body. Yet how many parents have seen this on the shelf and decided to purchase it as a "natural" alternative for their child?

Unfortunately, until our labeling laws in the US are changed to offer more stringent guidelines, it is up to all of us to spend the time and research to decide if our "green" and "natural" products really deserve that name. And what parent has time to do that? It is sad that it takes this much effort to select products that are natural and safe for the earth and your baby.

If you're interested, here are some more links for information and help in navigating the green labels:
-Safe Mama
-Healthy Child, Healthy World
-Saf Baby
-The Green Parent
- Z Recs' Guide to Safe Children's Products
- Soft Landing Baby

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Honey-Roasted Pork Chops - A favorite recipe for the MckLinky Blog Hop

I decided to jump in and try the new(ish) MckLinky Blog Hop!  This week's theme is to post your favorite recipe or dish.  I have a lot of favorite recipes, so I narrowed it down to one that we've been using pretty often lately, thanks to our freezer full of fresh pork.  It really is an autumn dish, a perfect warming meal for crisp nights, but we just discovered it and have made it several times recently.  It is definitely one of our newest favorites, and our friends and relatives who have eaten it have agreed!

The recipe is from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes, one of our favorite cookbooks for cooking farm-fresh, pastured meats, although this recipe would be great for any pork chops.  We usually double the recipe and have the leftovers for lunch. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe join in the mcklinky fun yourself!

Honey Roasted Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
2 servings

1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp rubbed sage
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 pork chops (rib, shoulder, loin, or country ribs)[we use bone-in for more flavor and nutrition]
1/3 c apple cider or juice
1 tart, firm apple, cored and cut into thick slices (not peeled)
1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings (we use sweet onion)
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine the salt, pepper, and sage, and rub mix into meat.  Pour the olive oil into a heated overproof skillet, and sear the chops over medium heat about 1 min per side or until browned [we do a little longer on ours].  Remove from heat, add the cider, sliced apple, onion, and raisins.  Drizzle with honey, cover, and roast for 1 1/2 hrs or until fork-tender.


MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 20, 2009

A winner for the area rug giveaway!

Congrats to Julie - she was selected by as the winner of the area rug giveaway from CSN rugs!

Julie - check your e-mail for more information.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and don't forget to enter the giveaway for your choice of a personalized onesie, tutu, or set of headbands from Sweet Pea Central (who still has some great deals going on, by the way)!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Real food - a new movie trailer and some great books!

Like many parents, the arrival of our little munchkin caused Mr. T and I to really consider the food we are serving and eating every day. Not a big surprise, since Americans are one of the populations that buy the most "diet" foods in the world. And yet we are also one of the least healthy - overweight and dealing with nationwide problems of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Mr. T and I have struggled with choosing a healthier diet. What are the best foods to eat? How do you make good choices when those foods that are oh-so-bad for you are the ones that taste oh-so-good? And what about newer studies that show that low-fat "healthy" diets that Americans have been encouraged to eat for years might actually cause more harm than good?

In our reading, Mr. T and I have become increasingly aware of our country's dependence on processed, industrialized food. Much different than the farm-fresh offerings of our grandparents' and great-grandparents' era, today's food in America has become a huge corporate business, driven by the need to create "food" at the lowest possible costs, usually in a laboratory and not in a field.

So, we were both very intrigued to hear about the new film documentary that came out in June, Food Inc. Daniel at the Corganic blog gave a review of it here.

"Food, Inc. exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights."

Unfortunately Mr. T and I haven't been able to see the movie yet. But I have been reading some informative, eye-opening books that will really make you think about food, where it comes from, and what to choose. For example, Nina Planck is a "real food" advocate, shunning margarine and boxed cereal for meat, vegetables, and, oh yes, lard. Lard. Now when have you heard that recommended in the past 50 years? Mr. T read her original book Real Food: What to Eat and Why, while I borrowed a copy of her new book, Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods which seemed appropriate for me in my childbearing years. Next on our list is In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, which was highly recommended to us.

We are fortunate to live near some great local farms, as I mentioned in this post. We currently subscribe to an organic crop share from a farm down the street; buy pork, beef, lamb, and chicken in bulk from local farmers; and have a great small dairy where we buy fresh raw milk and pastured eggs. This season we hope to start our first attempt at canning, and next year we want to actually put in our own garden.

It is a huge change in perspective from anything we have done before, and we do still struggle with the convenience of pizza delivery and dinners-in-a-box. But I hope that we can keep learning and taking baby steps to improve our diet, and to raise our munchkin so that wholesome, real food is her part of her normal.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ahhh, the joys of traveling with a babe!

And by babe, I mean the diaper-wearing, milk-suckling, goo-goo babbling, eight-month-old type.

You know, the ones who decide in rush hour traffic in an unfamiliar city that they MUSTGETOUTOFTHISCARSEATRIGHTNOW!!!!!!

Yep, the kind that are simply happy to stare at the parade of trucks at a gas station in the middle of nowhere while you frantically try to clean up after their latest diaper explosion.

But despite the perils joys of six long hours of driving, we had a great time visiting family in Chicago this week, where we ate a ton of food, celebrated Mr. T's birthday, rode our bikes on some great bike paths and parks, visited some nostalgic sites of my own childhood memories, did some great bargain shopping (hey - who can pass up a CVS deal?), and just relaxed and enjoyed visiting with family.

And now we're back, and I've spent several hours catching up on e-mails and, of course, blog stuff!

Anyway, I've been working on some fun stuff for my very own blog here at missionofmamahood. Keep an eye out for goodies coming very soon, including a post about how we, as parents, are often prey to "greenwashing" from so many companies, as well as a NEW fun giveaway, and I'll even post some new privacy and disclosure statements just for your reading pleasure! I know, you will be waiting on pins and needles for those...

Hope to see you again soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Winners - Nature's Source Giveaway

Yay! We have some winners! Three, in fact! has picked the following winners of a free bottle of Nature's Source Cleaner:
Cherryblossoms, Debbie, and Nicole!

Congrats!! Check your e-mail and get back to me within 48 hours to receive your prize!

And, don't forget to enter our current giveaways!
Free area rug from CSN rugs - ends July 18th
Your choice of a personalized onesie, custom tutu, or two headbands - ends July 31st

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Top Ten Breastfeeding Necessities

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday! This week is all about breastfeeding...and specifically all of the things I wish I had BEFORE I started my nursing attempt.

Now, many breastfeeding advocates will tell you that all that you need to start breastfeeding your newborn is simply a baby, and well, a breast or two. And although that is technically true, there are some things out there that will make it significantly easier. Let's face it, breastfeeding may be natural but it can also be very difficult...and these are the things that made it much easier for me!

1) Good lactation consultant - get their number. On speed dial. Take it with you to the hospital. Keep it next to your nursery rocking chair. Just get one! After brief meetings with several LC's at the hospital, working with the nurses, and spending tearful hours talking to friends and researching online, our newborn munchkin still wasn't able to nurse correctly. One call brought an amazing lactation consultant out to our house, where she spent over an hour working with Munchkin and I until we both had a much better idea of what we were doing. That phone call was the number one reason that we are still successfully breastfeeding today, over eight months later! For all of you local central KY girls - definitely give Lynne Humkey at Bluegrass Lactation a call!

2) My Brest Friend - Many people told me that this was a gimmick, or that I didn't need to spend money on a nursing pillow when all I really needed was bed pillow or two. Ha! Maybe my post-partum pooch was more ample than most, but whenever I tried to nurse our itty bitty newborn, she always fell into the gulley between my still-poofy belly and the also-poofy pillow. This was the perfect solution - it is flat on top, not rounded, so there is no place for the baby to roll forward. Plus the belt latches around your waist and keeps the pillow snug against your belly, right where it belongs without a gaping crevice. Now that Munchkin is almost nine months old, I can nurse her any old way and rarely take the time to strap on this pillow. But in those first few months of wriggly newborn-ness, this pillow was a lifesaver!

3) Manual Pump - Again, before I had the munchkin I was told not to worry about a pump right away. Sure, in those first few weeks of breastfeeding you should nurse your baby right at the breast, and if you absolutely must feed your little one otherwise, you can hand express your milk, right? Unless you're like me, and hand expression doesn't work. Using a pump was so much easier, and unlike hand expression it actually resulted in some milk! Plus a pump is useful for stimulating your let-down for impatient babies, or relieving a litte milk when you are so engorged that your little one can't latch correctly. My pick is the Avent ISIS manual - although it is a little pricier, it is very comfortable and worked well for gently getting my milk to let down. Of course, if you're planning to go back to work or just pumping on a regular basis, you might want to just invest an a quality electric pump like the Ameda Purely Yours.

4) Nursing Stool - good positioning is the key to a good latch, especially in those first weeks. Buying a separate stool for nursing might seem like a waste of money, but getting your feet in the right position is actually a lot harder than it might seem and I found it was impossible to find something in my house that worked correctly. I actually found mine at a consignment store for a great price, which made it definitely worth it.

5) Lanolin cream - Ouch. That's right. Ouch. Unless you have nipples of steel, those first few weeks of breastfeeding can hurt. REALLY hurt. One answer is pure lanolin cream, slathered on generously after each feeding. Our hospital provided us with Medela's lanolin lotion, but I found it too messy and greasy. Once I got home, I bought Lansinoh's lanolin cream, and it worked much better because it was thicker and felt less greasy. I kept a tube in every room where I nursed her.

6) Nursing tank - Who wants to think about wearing regular clothes right after birthing a baby? You? Ok, then read no further. But for the rest of us, some kind soul invented nursing tanks. Slip on one under your hospital gown or robe for easy nursing access with the comfort of a cotton tank. I liked the Gilligan & O'Malley tanks that I found at Target. One word of warning, though...make sure you have enough room for your blossoming bosoms. Mine got too tight from engorgement and caused a blocked duct. Not fun!

7) Nursing bra - Sure, I would've loved to lounge around in my tank and yoga pants for weeks. But reality means that you must get dressed one day, and when you do you'll appreciate having a comfortable, supportive nursing bra. If you can, find a local store that carries them where they can fit you for the correct size. You'd be amazed at the differences in sizes between brands and styles. Try to budget for a couple of really good bras - you'll probably be wearing them for a long time and you'll want something with ample support. I liked the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Bra, which has a lot of stretch to accomodate your wildly fluctuating size. Sad about the thought of spending months without your sexy lingerie? Check out Passion Spice for some more flavorful selections that will help remind you that you're more than just a nursing mom!

8) Breast pads - I'm sure you've heard the embarrasing stories about women who leak through their shirt every time a baby cries at the grocery store. The sad thing? For most of us it is true, especially during those first couple of months when your body is so eager to please your hungry little one. I found these to be a must-have from the beginning, as soon as my milk came in. Fortunately after a few months my body gained a little self-control and I rely on these a lot less, but I've had friends who have needed them for their entire nursing experience. Choosing a breast pad is very personal - do you want disposable or cloth? Thicker and more absorbent or thinner and less noticeable? I suggest trying a few different ones before investing in the larger boxes.

9) Nursing Cover - Chances are, you will probably want a little time to perfect your technique before you attempt to nurse in public (otherwise known as NIP). But again, reality sets in and brings frequent pediatrician appointments, surprise visits from in-laws, and spontaneous excursions that you just can't pass up. So, I would suggest keeping a nursing cover on hand from the beginning. Why not use a blanket? Sure, you can save money that way. But a good nursing cover offers a stay-in-place strap around your neck to keep you covered despite all of the undercover baby wrangling, as well as a gaping neck that lets you peer down at your little one while also providing good ventilation. I like the Bebe Au Lait.

10. Resources - Of course I would recommend books - I went to the library and got copies of The Nursing Mother's Companion, The Breastfeeding Book, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I also bookmarked the Kelly Mom breastfeeding site, which offers a huge site of resources for breastfeeding. There were nights when I was searching kelly mom at 4 in the morning! And, the standby of breastfeeding support is your local chapter of the La Leche League (LLL).

Since I've used these things, I've become more aware of some of the smaller mom-owned websites that offer great breastfeeding items. In the future I will feature some of these, too!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Green Tips!

Just some random things I've learned recently and thought I should share!

- Organic produce codes - you know how all produce has a 4-digit price look-up (PLU) code that you can use to ring up the price at the register? Well, if you've noticed, some produce has a 5-digit code. What does that extra digit in front mean? Well, if it is a 9, it means that it is organic! So a regular banana has the code 4011...and 94011 is an organic banana! A great way to sort through bins of produce what your store has confusing signs. But watch out - an 8 in front means that the produce is genetically modified...

- Free scrubbies - A great way to re-use AND save money! We all have those nasty messes that require a little extra elbow grease, right? And we probably all have bought our share of scrubby disposable sponges at the store to tackle them. But, if you look around your kitchen produce you can probably find something that you bought in a nylon mesh bag (onions, lemons, potatoes, you get the idea). Instead of throwing out the mesh, wash it with a little soap and water, cut it into an appropriate sized length, and then tuck your dish cloth or microfiber cleaning cloth inside so that the mesh is a pocket around it. Now go to town! You have a gentle, FREE scrubby cloth that creates great lather and will cut through tons of ick. And when you're done, just remove the cloth, rinse the mesh with some soapy water, and hang out to dry. So easy!

- Frugal hand soap - Thanks to a great green friend Misty for this idea! There are many foaming hand soap products that you can buy at the store. Unfortunately, they are expensive to refill and often loaded with toxic checmicals. Misty told me about how she bought the Method foaming hand soap bottles on sale, and then when they were empty, she just refilled them with a mixture of Dr. Bronner's lavender castile soap and water! A great way to save money, use an all-natural product, and help keep germs at bay!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!
I hope this holiday finds you and your family enjoying a multitude of fireworks, hot dogs, parades, sprinklers, and all of the other fun of a hot summer holiday!
I know that our family will be enjoying ourselves and basking in our freedom, and thinking of those troops that help keep it safe for all of us.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Swagbucks now offers cash in your paypal account!

Search & Win

I know, I know, I've blogged about swagbucks before, but I just had to share it again! Not only have I just cashed in for ANOTHER amazon gift card WOO-HOO, but I also wanted to share that now you can turn in your swagbucks for money deposited right into your paypal account!

What is swagbucks? It is a search engine, just like google, yahoo, etc. In fact, it actually utilizes both and for its searches. However, unlike those other boring sites, it also randomly awards you "swagbucks" that you could win any time you search! Once you've earned some swagbucks, you can cash them in for tons of prizes, like mp3 downloads, movie posters, video games, amazon gift cards, and now cash through paypal!

If you haven't tried it, you really, really should. Think about how many searches you do during the day - at work, at home, on your cell phone or blackberry. If you do them through swagbucks, you earn prizes. So easy! Go check it out...really, you know you want to!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NEW giveaway - Personalized Onesie, Tutu, or Headbands from Sweet Pea Central!

Wow - another giveaway! This one is courtesy of Evyn at Sweet Pea Central who also has a BIG sale going on with new items here! Evyn is a crafty mama who makes darling headbands, hair clips, tutus, personalized "funsies" and more!

Several months ago I bought several headbands for Munchkin from Sweet Pea Central. I wanted to match two specific dresses and couldn't quite find exactly what I wanted. I contacted Evyn, gave her a photo of the dresses and my basic thoughts for the headband, and she sent me two perfectly matched headbands that were exactly what I was hoping to find! Plus, I bought this adorable flower headband from her site and it has received many compliments from family and strangers alike.
Evyn has just started doing "funsies" - a onesie that can be created however you would like. I was excited to order one of these personalized funsies for munchkin because I can never find her name on anything, and there were several very cute fonts to choose from. How fun are these?!
To Buy
See something you like? Head over to the Sweet Pea Central sale page and get some great deals! If you can't find exactly what you're looking for, send Evyn a note with your ideas - she is great at custom designs!
To Win
Evyn is offering a giveaway to everyone reading this blog of your choice of either a personalized funsie, two headbands of your choice, OR a tutu! To enter to win, simply go to the Sweet Pea Central sale page or the regular Sweet Pea Central and pick out your favorite item from her listings, then come back and share it here by adding a comment below.
For Extra Entries
Once you've left a comment with your favorite, do any of these things to earn extra entries into the contest. Just make sure that you leave me a new comment for each entry AND that you leave your e-mail address if it isn't a public part of your profile.
  • For FIVE bonus entries, place any order from Sweet Pea Central's sale page (then leave FIVE comments here)
  • For FIVE bonus entries, follow my blog via e-mail (then leave FIVE comments here)
  • For FIVE bonus entries, follow my blog publicly via subscribtion to a reader (then leave FIVE comments here)
  • Write about this giveaway on your blog (and leave me a link to your post)
  • Tweet about this on twitter (and leave a link to your twitter account)
  • Share a link to this giveaway on your facebook acct (and let me know you did)
  • Leave a comment on any other posts on my blog (and leave a comment here for each comment that you post)

This contest ends on July 31st, and I will choose a winner using Please make sure that you leave your e-mail in the comment if it isn't part of your public profile.
And, don't forget to enter my other current giveaways:

gDiapers Deal!

Have you heard of gDiapers? They were created as a hybrid diaper between cloth and disposable. They have a washable cloth exterior and a flushable, disposable liner, so you get the best of both worlds!

If you're interested in trying the gDiapers, now you can get a sweet deal on their "everyday g's six-pack", which includes three pairs of great orange and three pairs of genuine vanilla bean little gPants that you can use with the disposable gRefills or the new washable gCloth inserts. Normally this package sells for $70, but as a gmum I have a coupon code for $30 off! This means that a package of six gDiapers would only cost $40, which is a steal since the pants are $15-$20 when purchased individually.

To get this deal, order the everyday g's six pack and enter code g1315Morgan when you check out!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 29, 2009

Win an area rug for your home!

I am so excited to have the opportunity to give one of YOU a fantastic area rug from CSN Rugs!

Like many first-time parents-to-be, Mr. T and I spent many hours last summer planning and choosing all of the perfect furnishings for our little munchkin-to-be's nursery. I loved looking around, finding my favorite color schemes, bedding, furniture, and all of those other little details that are such a nice diversion from the long wait of the third trimester. But despite all of our careful plans, Mr. T and I could never settle on an area rug that fit both our budget and our taste.

And so, just a mere week before Munchkin's arrival, we found ourselves with a beautiful nursery with an empty floor. In desperation, we recycled an area rug from our old house so that at least our feet would stay warm during those upcoming long, late nights. To this day, I look at the boring brown rug on her floor and sigh, thinking about how much difference a beautiful area rug would make to her room:

Are you in the same boat? Then this giveaway is for you! Head over to CSN Rugs and you will find a huge selection of area rugs in all shapes, sizes, styles, and price ranges. Their website is set up so that you can easily narrow your rug options by colors, size, materials, and more. I can't believe how many different rugs I found there! I wish I had known about this site when I was looking for munchkin's rug last summer.
Some of my favorites:
Isn't this one sweet? I would love to have this rug in Munchkin's room!

The Rug Market - Giant Paisley Pink Kids Rug
  • Features:
    Construction: Hand made
    Technique: Loop / Pile
    Material: Cotton
    Color: Pink and ivory
    1'9" x 2'9
And maybe you're shopping for team blue, not pink...isn't this one perfect for all of those contemporary bedding sets?

The Rug Market Kids - Oxygen Blue / Brown Contemporary Rug
  • Features:
    Construction: Hand made
    Technique: Tufted / Loop pile
    Material: Cotton
    Collection: TRM Kids
    Color: Blue / Brown / Ivory
    1'9" x 2'9"

Or maybe you're more interested in something a bit more grown-up, like this one. I can see this in a living room, foyer, dining room, or perhaps an office or bedroom.

Rizzy Rugs - Volare VO-781 Wool Hand Tufted Green / Black Contemporary Rug
  • Features:
    Construction: Handmade
    Technique: Tufted
    Material: 100% Wool
    Origin: India
    Collection: Volare
    Color: Green, black
    2' x 3'

To Buy
Head over to CSN Rugs where you can get free shipping to the US and Canada. Plus, keep your eye out for special sales and discounts on their main page!


We have a winner! Thanks to everyone who entered!

And, don't forget to enter my other current giveaways:
Free bottle of Nature's Source cleaner - 3 winners! - ends July 8th
Your choice of a personalized onesie, custom tutu, or two headbands! - ends July 31st

Some bloggy world giveaways!

I love hosting giveaways - and am about to host some fun new ones!

But when I'm not hosting my own, I'm usually peeking around the blogging world and entering everyone else's giveaways. Here are some of my current favorites:

Pedoodles shoes at Natural Mommie

Naturepedic crib cover at Feisty, Frugal, and Fabulous

Piggy Paint All Natural Nail Polish at A Simple Kinda Life

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Nature's Source giveaway!

I'm excited to offer another giveaway for free bottles of Nature's Source cleaners!

This time, I will be giving away a free bottle to THREE readers! That's right - three winners this time!

We all want a clean house, and we want it as easy as possible, right? Unfortunately, I think most of us are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that we may face from toxic chemicals, including the health of our families and our global environment. That's why I get so excited to see big-name companies that make an effort to offer safer, more natural products that still have the power to clean.

Nature's Source cleaners are made by the same company that brings you Scrubbing Bubbles and Windex, yet they're plant-based and almost completely all natural. You can usually find them at any local store that carries your favorite cleaning products.

This contest will end on July 8 and I will pick a winner through Check back to see who wins, and look out for more fun giveaways starting soon - I have some exciting things planned!

To enter this contest:
Go to Nature's Source and find the product that you would like to try if you win, then post it as a comment here. Make sure to leave me your e-mail if you don't have it on your public profile.

For bonus entries:
Do one or all of the following, and leave me a separate comment here for each thing that you do. Make sure you leave a separate comment here for each entry that you earn!

- For FIVE bonus entries, follow my blog via e-mail (then leave FIVE comments here)
- For FIVE bonus entries, follow my blog publicly via subscribtion to a reader (then leave FIVE comments here)
- Write about this giveaway on your blog (and leave me a link to your post)
- Tweet about this on twitter (and leave a link to your twitter account)
- Share a link to this giveaway on your facebook acct (and let me know you did)
- Leave a comment on any other posts on my blog (and leave a comment here for each comment that you post)

And, don't forget to enter my other current giveaways:
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