Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Peroxide and Poop

3 years ago when I was dreaming of becoming a mother I had no idea that poop would become such a large part of my life. It started immediately when my daughter was born and I was worried that she wasn’t pooping enough. Then I worried about how her poop looked.

I moved on to worrying about if she would blow out her diaper or if I had poop on me after I changed a “blow out”. The dinner conversation at times was whether or not she had a poopy diaper. I have cleaned poop from many places including the bathtub, the sink and her shoes. The latest poop predicament I was in was how to get poop out of the carpet.

I was in this predicament several weeks ago. My daughter had an upset stomach and therefore was having a hard potty training day. You know what happens to your poop when you have an upset stomach….I feel I need not say more.

Well, as she was on her way to the potty she could no longer hold it so there was liquid poop on the carpet leading from her bedroom all the way to the bathroom. I tried everything: baking soda, vinegar, spot shot, resolve carpet cleaner, you name it, nothing worked. Sure, it was able to get the stain lighter, but it wasn’t gone entirely, and it certainly didn’t smell very good. I was starting to think that I was going to have to get new carpet!

Then I took my search to the Internet and found this page at Army Wife Toddler Mom that told me to try hydrogen peroxide. I figured I had nothing to lose so I would give it a try.

IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!! It even got rid of the smell!

I have very light carpet so it didn’t do anything to the color of the carpet but if any of you try this with darker carpet let me know how it goes!

Here is a link to a page that gives more tips on what you can do with hydrogen peroxide

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Toddler Tamer - Whispering A Song

Let me set the scene for you: It was raining outside all day so my 2 ½ year old did not get a chance to run off any steam. We spent the day doing puzzles, playing with play-doh, coloring, and reading books. This sounds like a fine day until you factor in how much energy my toddler had stored up inside her little body by the time the dinner hour came around.

I was trying to cook dinner at the end of this rainy day and my toddler was not at all excited about my attempts to fix her a hot nutritious supper. Instead she wanted me to continue playing games and doing art projects with her. As I was chopping veggies, boiling noodles, and browning hamburger my toddler was screaming “MOMMY, I WANT TO PLAY” over and over again, to which I answered “Sounds great peanut, please go ahead and play in your playroom”. This interaction took place about 50 times in a row. I was trying my best to keep it light and airy but I must admit that as the time passed I was getting more and more frustrated and the tone of my voice was beginning to match hers.

After about 10 minutes of going back and forth in this fashion we were both frustrated and I could tell that I was losing control of the situation. We were both getting louder and louder - both of us were thinking that raising our voices would convince the other one to do what we wanted them to do.

That is when I tried my new toddler taming activity: Whispering a song.

As she was screaming “I WANT TO PLAY, I WANT TO PLAY, I WANT TO PLAY”

I started singing the following song as softly as I could:

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a dream”

I just sang it in a whisper over and over again and soon she stopped screaming long enough to hear what I was saying. Then she just listened in silence. After a couple of minutes I stopped singing and it continued to be silent. She then said “Mommy, sing it again”, and so I did. For the next 15 minutes we sang very quiet songs together while I made dinner. It was pleasant and took the steam out of a highly charged situation.

I believe two factors caused this technique to work:

First, because I lowered my voice she had to stop screaming in order to hear what I was saying. Getting her to stop screaming was the first thing I wanted to get accomplished.

Second, when she stopped screaming long enough to hear what I was saying she was rewarded with a fun and recognizable tune that effectively engaged her in another activity. It distracted her from continuing to fight and got her interested in something that was much more pleasant.

Give it a try – I hope it works for you as well as it worked for me! Go to The Teachers Guide for a list of many childrens songs with the lyrics, midis, and print outs!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organic Produce: The Truth

Lately we are hearing more and more about organic food and its benefits both nutritionally and for the environment. Organic food sales are the fastest growing sector of the American Food Marketplace and since the mid-1990’s American families are more able to find organic foods in chain grocery stores rather then just at farmers markets or local farms.

However, when doing a cost comparison we know that organic foods are 10 – 40% more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. Is it really worth the extra cost to buy organic?

Environmental Implications:

Lets first take a look at the environmental implications. Some studies have shown that organic farming is less damaging to the environment because organic farms do not use pesticides and release these pesticides into the environment. Additionally, it has been shown that organic farms use less energy and produce less waste. However, there are critics of these studies. Critics state that organic farms take up more land to produce the same amount of food as a non organic farm and therefore could possibly destroy the rainforests and wipe out many ecosystems.

This information is conflicting so we cannot yet say with 100% certainty that organic produce is better for the environment.

Nutritional Implications - Pesticides:

There are many studies showing the negative side effects of pesticides on farm workers. Some of these side effects include cancer, birth defects, and miscarriage. You may wonder if you can remove the pesticides from fruits and vegetables by washing them thoroughly. Unfortunately, many pesticides can penetrate the skin of fruits and vegetables so washing them thoroughly will not remove all of the pesticides from fruits and vegetables.

There are also some studies that show that there is residual pesticide residue on organic produce, but that it is only 1/3 of the amount that is on traditionally grown produce. So, if you are buying organic produce do not think that you are eating produce that is pesticide free – the only way to have produce that contains no amount of pesticide is to grow it yourself.

However, we can safely say that by eating organic produce your family will likely intake less pesticides than if they were to eat traditionally grown produce.

Nutritional Implications – Nutritional Value:

Some studies claim that organic foods have a higher nutritional value, however there are also studies that show no proof that organic foods have higher antioxidants or a higher nutritional value. Again, the evidence is conflicting so we cannot yet say with 100% certainty that organic produce has a higher nutritional value than non organic produce.

The FACS of it:

If you can afford to spend more money on fruits and vegetables, and want to safe guard your family from the pesticides that can be found on non-organic produce, than it would be worth your money to buy organic. However, if you cannot afford organic produce take solace in the fact that it has not been proven with 100% certainty that organic produce has a higher nutritional value or is better for the environment.

My recommendation would be to buy organic when you can for the following produce (in order as listed) as these are the ones that contain the highest amount of pesticides:

Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes (by local if you can)

Click on the link to learn more about Organic Certification from the USDA

Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Says A Pregnant Girl Can't Party?

I have been pregnant twice. 20 months. Yes, 20 months. The rumor that pregnancy is only 9 months long is false. It is actually 10 months long – yes, 40 whole weeks.

I don’t consider myself a heavy drinker. But I do enjoy a cocktail or two (or three) at social gatherings, special occasions, and holidays. When pregnant, the idea of having an alcoholic cocktail is taken out of the equation. Therefore, I had to be creative and develop my own cocktails that were “pregnancy friendly”. Here are a few of the websites I visited to help me create my pregnancy friendly cocktails:

Drinks Mixer
Flora’s Drink Hideout
Bar None

Just a few words of note about these recipes:
  • I allowed myself one caffeinated drink per day during my pregnancies. Therefore, if I knew I was going to have one of the caffeinated “cocktails” that evening I would avoid caffeine during the remainder of the day.
  • I allowed myself to drink soda and “fake sugar” on occasion so I was ok with the idea of drinking regular and/or diet soda in these “cocktails” on special occasions. I just made sure not to overdo it.

Additionally, I often found myself at a restaurant or at a party where others were drinking alcohol. When it came time to order a drink, or to mix myself a drink, I also wanted to be fun and celebratory. I came up with a few stand-by rules to help me get in the festive mood when I didn’t have time to plan for extra ingredients ahead of time:

  • Cranberry juice and soda with a cherry is a beautiful drink
  • Anytime you add cherries, a lemon, or a lime to a drink, it instantly gets more festive
  • Any juice with sprite (or a similar lemon/lime soda) can be considered a spritzer and adds a sparkle that is very fun
  • Many blended drinks can be made without the alcohol; all you have to do is ask! I enjoyed many nonalcoholic margaritas during my pregnancy!
  • Drinking cranberry juice from a wine glass really does feel like you are drinking red wine!
  • Mix your juices together to come up with fun different concoctions - You can come up with unlimited flavors just by having a bunch of different juices on hand

A note about tonic water: There is conflicting information on whether a pregnant woman should drink tonic water. Tonic water has quinine in it so some say it is not safe to drink during pregnancy. Please make sure you research this topic and make an informed decision for yourself when making yourself non-alcoholic drinks. Here are some places to go to help you research this topic:

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Lessons Of A Birdbath

This summer my husband and I decided that our yard needed a little sprucing up. We didn’t want to spend too much money because, like everyone, we are pinching our pennies a little bit. But our yard was quite drab and just needed a little face lift. In addition to planting some flowers we decided to get a birdbath. Wow, was this a hit with our 2 year old! We never knew we could be given so many lessons simply by having a birdbath. Here are just a few of the joys the birdbath has brought to our lives so far:

Our toddler is learning her colors at a rapid pace:

We have been working on colors for quite some time with our toddler and she has the basics down: red, green, yellow, etc. However, now that we have gotten the birdbath we have discovered just how much she loves to point out the colors of the birds that visit. Due to this, we have found ourselves becoming much more specific with our color descriptions. Instead of using the basic red, yellow, and green descriptive colors we are using more descriptive colors such as maroon, golden, and emerald. It is adorable to hear my daughter yell “The gold and maroon bird is back!”

Our toddler is learning about categories:

We have many different types of birds that are visiting our birdbath and have purchased a small bird book to help us identify all of the different types that we are seeing. In order to purchase your own bird book you can visit Amazon.com or you can check one out of the library.

By using the bird book and identifying different types of birds we are able to teach my daughter about the concept of “categories”. This was a concept that was foreign to her up until now. For example, we will say “that is an Oriole - it is a Midwestern summer bird”. It is amazing how interested she is in these categories. She will even repeat the categories to us at a later time!

Our toddler is developing an appreciation for nature:

Before we got the birdbath we would point out birds and animals to my daughter and she enjoyed looking at them. However, now that we have a birdbath we really feel that she has developed an appreciation for these creatures and is conscious of the fact that they need to take care of themselves by staying clean. I don’t think she really appreciated the birds before we got the birdbath and now she looks forward to “catching them in the act” and will stay still for several minutes just waiting for them to come. When she does see one she runs throughout the house and shrieks “There is a bird! There is a bird!”

Our toddler is learning about Responsibility and a Weekly Routine:

There is not much maintenance to having a birdbath but it does need to be washed out and refilled a couple of times a week. We make sure to include my daughter in this process to teach her the importance of responsibility and caring for other things in the world. She looks forward to doing this with her parents and loves to help..

A fun thing to do together:

I would have never imagined how fun it would be to have a birdbath. We are even starting to recognize the different “calls” of the birds that visit and are matching them up with the colors of the birds. It has been so fun to learn these things with my daughter and I cherish all of the fun times like these that we have together.

I highly encourage children of all ages to get a birdbath if you don’t already have one!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Best Way To Use The Library: The Reserve Section

The current economy is in a bad state. We have all seen the headlines and many of us are even suffering the loss of a job. All of us are suffering the loss of money in our savings if it was invested in the stock market. As a result, there are lists upon lists of how to cut family costs and save money on a daily basis. One suggestion that I have seen over and over again is to use the library. It is offered as a suggestion so often that I believe we often skip over this suggestion and say to ourselves “yeah, yeah, use the library. What else can I do?” I encourage you to not skip over this suggestion, but instead to use it to it’s fullest advantage: The Reserve Section

Why Use the Reserve Section:

Most public libraries are part of a county system that is branched out into various cities. For example, a county library system could have upwards of 20 to 30 “branches”. That means that all of the “branches” share the library materials that are in the county library system. Therefore, when you go to your city library, the resource that you are looking for could very well be at a different branch at the time that you need it.

Additionally, many of the popular resources are already checked out and in order to get them you need to get on the waitlist. Even if a county library system has 30 copies of a particular resource, all of them might be checked out and the waitlist could be over 200 people long.

I am here to say that the best way to use your public library is from the comfort of your own living room or office (wherever you store your computer). Although it is fun to go to the library and browse the shelves, the resources you are going to find by doing that are going to be the older ones. If you are looking to get a hot new resource the best way to do it is by use the reserve section of your library.

How to Use the Reserve Section:

To use the reserve section you will need to know how to use the catalog search section of your county library system web site. If you are unsure of how to use this you will need to make a visit to your city library and talk with the resource librarian. He/she will be more than happy to show you how to use this resource.

Once you know how to look resources up in the library catalog you simply search for the resource you are looking for and reserve it for yourself. If it is a popular resource you will get on the wait list and will have to wait your turn. But if it is a resource that isn’t as highly in demand you will put in your request and it will be shipped to your city library within a week.

Once you reserve the resource you can sign up for e-mail/telephone notification to let you know when your resource is waiting for you at your city library. Usually, once you receive the e-mail/telephone notification you will have 5 days to go and pick up the resource. Ta-da, the resource you want is ready and waiting for you to stop by and pick it up!

Tips and Tricks:

A good way to find out what resources you might want is by using Amazon.com. For example, if you are looking for a children’s book, do a children’s book search on Amazon.com. That way you can see the top sellers and get reviews. Although the library catalog will give descriptions of resources, I find that often times the descriptions and reviews on Amazon are much better.

Sign up for e-mail notification from your library that tells you when your materials are due in 5 days. That way you can either renew your resource on-line or plan a trip to the library to return your resource on time.

Another good way to decide which books you might want to put on reserve is to make a trip to your local book store with a pad of paper and a pen. Go through the aisles and write down the titles and authors of the books you would like to read. When you get home put these materials on reserve and when they are available they will be waiting for you at the library.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Showdown Between Reusable and Disposable Nursing Pads

After carrying our precious little bundles of joy for10 months (yes, it really is 10 months instead of 9 months) each woman must make a personal decision of whether or not she will be providing breast milk for her child. If a woman does decide to provide breast milk for her child she is then faced with the decision of which nursing pad she will use. The easy thing to do is to buy disposable nursing pads and go on your merry way. However, if you are like me and you want to make sure you are making the right decision for not only yourself but also for your wallet as well as the environment you may be looking at getting yourself some reusable nursing pads. If you are at all considering using reusable nursing pads I have done the leg work for you so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is the direction you would like to go. From what I can tell there are six criteria that we need to consider when making a decision about what kind of nursing pad to wear:
  • Cost
  • Comfort
  • Leakage
  • Aesthetics
  • Environment
  • Maintenance


In order to do a cost comparison I went to my local Target store to see at what prices the various nursing pads were listed. I chose Target because I feel this is a retail chain that can be found reasonably easy throughout the country and offers prices that are comparable to other big box stores. After browsing the shelves I found only one brand of reusable nursing pads: Gerber. I found only two brands of disposable nursing pads: Lansinoh and Medela. The Lansinoh brand was marginally cheaper than the Medela brand so for the purposes of this comparison I decided to use the Lansinoh brand. Here is a picture of the two brands I decided to compare:

The Lansinoh disposable nursing pads were selling for $8.19 for a box of 60. The Gerber reusable nursing pads were selling for $3.59 for a box of 6. Let’s break this down. Even though the Lansinoh box had 60 pads we must remember that we need to wear 2 pads at a time….therefore, we find ourselves with 30 wears for $8.19. When we divide $8.19 by 30 we get the cost of $.27 cents per wear. The Gerber reusable nursing pads cost $3.59 for a box of 6. In order to determine how many wears we need to get out of the Gerber reusable nursing pads we divide $3.59 by $.27 and get 13.3….lets round this up. At first glance we see that we must get at least 14 wears from the Gerber reusable nursing pads to make them the same cost per wear as the Lansinoh.

However, one additional item to consider is that we need to wash the reusable nursing pads after each wear. Let’s say we use a teaspoon of detergent with every wear of the Gerber reusable nursing pad. A bottle of Woolite at Target costs $3.82 for 16 oz. (or 96 teaspoons). $3.82 divided by 96 is an additional $.04 cents that must be added onto each wear of the disposable nursing pads. Working in this additional element changes the total wear count of the reusable nursing pads to 16 wears. (For those that want to know the math I used: 16 wears times $.04 cents is $.64 cents. $.64 cents plus $3.59 is $4.23. $4.23 divided by 16 is $.26 cents per wear).

The bottom line: If you think you will wear reusable nursing pads more than 16 times it would worth your money to invest in a box.


Comfort is an important factor in this decision due to the fact that when providing breast milk to a child, a woman’s breasts can become quite sore and irritated. After wearing both of these brands I found the Gerber reusable nursing pads to be far more comfortable than the Lansinoh disposable brand. The Gerber reusable pads were made of cotton and were very soft against my skin. I found the disposable nursing pads to be scratchy and itchy.

The bottom line: In my opinion there isn’t even a comparison in this area. The reusable pads are far superior in the area of comfort.


It is important to maintain some sort of modesty when providing breast milk for a child. When going out in public it is important that your shirt stays dry in order to not draw attention to yourself. It was my experience that the disposable Lansinoh nursing pads held much more liquid than the reusable Gerber brand. A few times, when I was especially engorged, the reusable Gerber brand leaked when the disposable Lansinoh brand did not. However, it is important to note that I felt that the Gerber brand did the job just fine when I was not engorged.

The bottom line: If you feel that you may become engorged at a time where it is important to not leak you may want to wear the disposable brand. However, for regular day to day usage the reusable pad worked just fine and did not leak.


As you can see from the below picture the disposable pad (on the left) is much larger than the reusable pad (on the right).

Due to the varying sizes of these two pads I found a big difference in the aesthetics of each of the pads under a shirt. When wearing a shirt that was somewhat form fitting the outline of the reusable Gerber brand could be seen through my bra whereas the outline of the disposable brand could not be seen.

The bottom line: If you are wearing a form fitting shirt out in public you may want to wear a disposable pad. If you are wearing a baggy shirt at any time or a form fitting shirt at home, where you don’t care if the outline of your pad can be seen, you would be just fine wearing a reusable pad.


The reusable pads are clearly much better for the environment. There is much less waste even with the additional hand washing that is required with reusable nursing pads.


The disposable pads are clearly much easier in terms of maintenance. After you wear them you simply throw them away and pull out a new pair. Whereas, you will need to wash the reusable pads after each use.


In my opinion it is important for every lactating woman to have a box of disposable pads as well as a box of reusable pads available for her use. There is no doubt in my mind that a woman who is lactating will find 16 times to use her reusable pads. There are many times in a mother’s life when she finds herself lounging around the house in her baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants. This is an ideal time to wear the reusable pads. Even just wearing them 16 times will help a little bit for the environment, not to mention that the reusable pads are so much more comfortable. Especially for sleeping!

However, it is also important to have a box of disposable pads available for those times when a woman wants to look nice in a tighter fitting top as well as those times when there is a fear of engorgement and a little extra protection is needed.

I hope this helps you to determine which nursing pads would be most appropriate for your use! Here is a site to go to if you are interested in making your own reusable nursing pads.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Handwashing: A Home Experiment

We have all heard about the importance of hand washing. This is a message we have received since we were children. We know that it stops the spread of disease as well as the common cold. But how many of us do it on a regular basis? And even if we do it on a regular basis, are we doing it correctly? I decided to find out if I was following the appropriate hand washing rules.

Here is a checklist on the rules of washing your hands from the Mayo clinic:

  • Wet your hands with warm, running water and apply liquid soap or use clean bar soap. Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously together for at least 15 to 20 seconds
  • Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails
  • Rinse well
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel
  • Use a towel to turn off the faucet

Here is a list of when you should wash your hands:

  • Use the toilet,
  • Touch uncooked meat, poultry, fish or eggs or other food from animals,
  • Interrupt food preparation to answer the phone, open a door or drawer, etc.
  • Smoke,
  • Touch dirty plates, utensils or equipment,
  • Take out trash,
  • Touch your notes, mouth or any part of your body,
  • Sneeze or cough,
  • Change diapers,
  • Touch pets.

My Experience:

After looking at the hand washing requirements put out by the Mayo clinic I realized that there were several areas that I was not following. First, I rub my hands together for approximately 5 seconds before rinsing off the soap rather than 15 – 20 seconds. Second, I do not always rub the backs of my hands while washing them. Third, I never use a clean cloth to turn off the faucet. Fourth, often times I am interrupted during my cooking to answer the phone or open a drawer. I do not wash my hands before returning to food preparation after I have done these things. In fact, I often talk on the phone while doing food preparation.

I decided to follow the hand washing recommendations given by the Mayo clinic for one week to see how big of a difference it would make in my life. It turns out it made a big difference. These are the findings of my own personal experiment:

Rubbing your hands together for 15 – 20 seconds before rinsing them seems like a very long time when you are busy.

There were times when it was just not possible to rub my hands together for a full 20 seconds every time I washed my hands. For example, I was feeding my baby a bottle when my 2 year old needed help going potty. I put my baby down and took a break from feeding her the bottle in order to help my 2 year old. Several minutes later, as I was finishing up helping my 2 year old go potty, my baby had decided that she had waited long enough and wanted her bottle back NOW. I could not justify rubbing my hands together for a full 20 seconds while my baby screamed for her bottle, so a quick 5 second rub had to suffice.

However, when I was able to take the time to rub my hands together for a full 20 seconds I did notice that my hands seemed softer and cleaner.

At home it was easier to use a clean cloth to turn off the faucet than I thought it would be.

I simply kept a clean wash cloth hung over the towel bar and used that every time I needed to turn off the faucet. I used the same wash cloth for a day and then threw it in the laundry with the other towels. It makes me wonder though if the wash cloth became contaminated as the day wore on because it touched the handle so many times. Additionally, I did this for each of the three sinks I use so it increased my wash cloth laundry by quite a bit.

It was quite easy to work in washing the backs of my hands while doing my regular routine washings.

By becoming aware that I was not washing the backs of my hands it became quite easy to simply work that step into my hand washing routine.

It was extremely difficult to wash my hands after opening a drawer or talking on the phone before returning to food preparation.

This was nearly impossible with a baby and a toddler running around the house. To get my daughter to play by herself while I am cooking a meal is a feat in itself and if she needs me to grab her some more markers or a toy from the top shelf in order for her to continue to play by herself you can bet that I am going to fulfill her request. This type of request happens about 10 times during the course of my dinner preparation.

To wash my hands for 20 seconds each time I get this type of request would cause dinner preparation to take an enormous amount of time. After the first day I realized this was an unreasonable recommendation for me to work into my daily routine.

I increased my hand washing frequency by about double

Because I was overly aware of when I was supposed to be washing my hands I increased my hand washing frequency enormously. This in turn made the skin on my hands a lot dryer so I used a larger amount of hand lotion during this experiment. I also went through a lot more hand soap.


After doing this experiment I will continue to follow as many of the guidelines put out by the Mayo clinic as I can but there are several that I will just not be able to comply with 100% of the time. I certainly feel a lot cleaner since making an effort to work these guidelines into my life and hope that by being more diligent with my hand washing that I will be able to avoid getting a cold this year!

One additional interesting item to note is that using warm soapy water is more effective than cold soapy water at removing the oils from your hands that hold dirt and/or bacteria however our hands could never stand water that is hot enough to kill any kind of bacteria. In order to get the water hot enough to kill bacteria it would scald our hands. This information and more can also be found at the Mayo Clinic web site.

Stay tuned for a future post about antibacterial cleansers!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A New Way to Feed Your Newborn: Exclusively Pumping

If I could venture a guess at the one thing a new mother worries about more than anything else it is how to feed her baby. This seems to be the question of all questions in the arena of new motherhood. Parenting magazine articles dedicate pages and pages to this topic and there are shelves of books and hundreds of web pages all full of opinions as to whether or not to breastfeed or formula feed your baby. Well, this particular blog post is to educate the masses that there is another option for new mothers out there: Exclusively Pumping.

Let me just say that I do not think that formula feeding is bad. And if a mother chooses to formula feed her baby from birth, I believe that mother is just as loving and caring as a mother that chooses to breastfeed. For myself however, I just can’t deny the evidence that breast milk is better for an infant than formula and if a mother would like to be able to provide her infant with breast milk, but the nursing thing just doesn’t work out, that there is another option available.

Exclusively Pumping is when a mother would like to provide her newborn baby with breast milk but for some reason is unable to feed her baby from her breast. It may be that there is a medical reason for not being able to nurse (clef pallet, premature delivery, etc.) or simply that it didn’t work out for other reasons (mastitis, latch problems, inverted nipples, etc.).

I myself exclusively pumped for both of my daughters (and am still exclusively pumping for my second) and have found it to be a livable option. I would have preferred to have been able to exclusively breastfeed in the early months, but it just didn’t work out for us. Therefore, by being able to exclusively pump I was able to provide my daughters with breast milk even though the actual act of breast feeding wasn’t an option. This is something that I am proud of.

Exclusively Pumping is not easy. Essentially a new mother has to “feed” the machine and then “feed” the baby. Typically mothers do not chose to exclusively pump until they have exhausted all resources trying to make breast feeding work. There are many tips and techniques for making exclusively pumping work for you and these can be found at several good websites including an ivillage message board and kellymom.com. I am not going to go into the specifics of how to make exclusive pumping work for you but am rather going to use this post to answer a few typical questions that I receive when I tell people that I am exclusively pumping.

Is exclusively pumping nutritionally just as good as breastfeeding?

It is always best for an infant to receive breast milk straight from the breast because that is when it is the freshest. However, when care is taken to the storage of expressed breast milk, the majority of the benefits are present. The freezing process does cause breast milk to lose some of its nutritional value so if at all possible it is best to give your infant breast milk that hasn’t been frozen. However, if the infant is given frozen breast milk it is still shown to be nutritionally superior to formula.

If you are exclusively pumping how to do you answer the question “Are You Nursing”?

How to answer this question is completely up to the mother. I tend to answer this question differently based on who asked the question. If it is a close friend I smile and give a short explanation that my daughter is receiving breast milk in a bottle. If the person asking the question is not as familiar to me, and more of an acquaintance, I simply say “Yes” and leave it at that.

The most important component of answering this question is to feel confident in your decision to exclusively pump. I can’t stress how important it is to not feel guilty for giving your child expressed breast milk rather than having your child take the milk from your breast; it is your gift to your child.

How many mothers out there are exclusively pumping?

I have never seen a study on this, but I don’t think that there are many. I believe there would be more mothers who chose this option if there were more education about it. As it is today, if breast feeding doesn’t work most mothers immediately turn to formula.

How do you find the time to exclusively pump?

There are tricks to exclusively pumping that make it a little bit easier. There are ways to go “hands free” as well as plugging your pump into an extension cord to give you mobility. I can work at the computer, read, eat, and play with my daughter all while I am pumping. If you get a battery pack to go with your pump you can even pump in your car so long as you take the appropriate measures to maintain your modesty.

Is your baby receiving 100% breast milk?

Both of my daughters received exclusive breast milk until they were 6 weeks old. At that time they received half breast milk and half formula. Any amount of breast milk is a gift and if I can even give them half of their daily intake as breast milk then that is something I am proud of.

All of us mothers need to let go of the “all or nothing” thinking. We can only do our best and our best has to be good enough. Treat yourself kindly and know that you are doing the best you can.

Happy Pumping!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Produce Washes: Are They Worth The Money

As I continue to see advertisements for produce washes I realized it was important for people to know the FACS about these washes and the best way to wash our produce before eating them.

All of us want our families to be healthy, and one of the best ways to improve health is to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diets. We know that most of the time the fruits and vegetables that have the best nutritional content are the fresh ones (rather than canned or frozen) but with our busy family lives it is easy to skip the produce washing step with our fresh produce.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is important to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables that are not grown organically have pesticides and herbicides lurking on their skins. And even if they are grown organically you don’t know who or what has touched your produce before you decide to eat it.

The good news is that the commercial produce washes are not recommended and washing fruits under running water should work just fine. Firm produce such as apples and cucumbers should be washed with a produce brush. It is not necessary to wash “pre-washed” fruits and vegetables before eating. Berries and grapes can be rinsed thoroughly and left to dry in a colander.

There isn’t a definitive answer in regards to how long you should wash your produce before eating them, but I would use the same rule of thumb that you use when washing your hands. Sing the ABC’s and when you are done with the song, you are done washing the piece of produce!

Remember that washing fruits and vegetables will make them spoil sooner, so only wash them if you plan on eating them fairly soon!

Group Weight Loss and Google Documents

All of the research on weight loss says that if you do it with a partner you are more likely to have success. Additionally, the research says that if you journal everything that you put in your mouth you are also more likely to have success. What I have done is combine the two using Google Documents and have found it to be extremely successful!

After having my second child I had about 40 pounds that I had to lose (yes, I was one of those mothers that put on 55 pounds during pregnancy). I had several friends who were also interested in losing weight. None of us had time to go to a weight loss center to weigh in so we decided we would be accountable to each other. This is where Google documents came in.

Google documents is a free application offered by Google that allows users to upload documents to a shared site so that more than one person can work on a document at the same time and all the changes will be saved. No more e-mailing documents back and forth! For a more formal definition of Google Docs here is the wikipedia definition

You do need a gmail account in order to access Google Documents but once you do that it is free to use!

What my friends and I have done is created an excel document where each of us has our own tab and in that tab we write down everything we eat for the day as well as any exercise that we did. Everybody can access everybody else’s tab and then can comment on their food choices for the day. We also have a tab of shared recipes. Additionally, we have chosen a common “weigh in” day where we all weigh in and track our weight loss on that specific day. We currently have 7 people all using the same document to track our weight loss journey! It is a great group!

The benefits of doing it this way are a plenty. Here are just a few:


It isn’t easy for anybody to lose weight. We all have families, events, responsibilities, and parties that are likely to derail our weight loss success. By having a document where we are all tracking this information in the same place we know that we are not going through it alone. Successes are celebrated together and setbacks are supported by every one. Just a few comments on “the spreadsheet” (as we call it) really helps me to keep my will power strong and keeps me from ripping into that bag of chips that my husband insists that we have in the cupboard for his lunches.


When you promise your friends that you are going to maintain this document with them, you instantly become accountable for doing so. I have found that sometimes I enter my information more because I know that my friends will be looking for this information than for myself. But in the end I am glad that the information is there.

Additionally, because I know that I will be entering my information onto the shared document I think twice about having that second helping of dinner. When other people see what you are eating it is a lot easier to say “no” to food items that won’t look so good on your tab of the document.

It is important to state that you all must commit that you are going to put down everything that you eat even if it does not shed you in the best light. The amount of detail that you want to include is up to you and your partners to decide upon, but it is important to make sure you are tracking in the same way. For example, are you going to be weighing and measuring everything or will you be entering in estimates of the amount. i.e. a glass of orange juice vs. 1 cup orange juice.

Historical Information:

As I go through my weight loss journey I am really enjoying going back to see what I have eaten in previous weeks. Therefore, I am able to determine what has proven successful or not successful for me. This information is invaluable when you hit a plateau or find that you are not losing as much weight as you would like to.

For example, I have found that when I eat less carbohydrates I lose a bit more quickly even if the amount of calories that I am taking in is the same. I would have never known this if I did not have the historical information to look back on.


I have gotten many breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack ideas from my partners on my document. When I see that someone has made “baked oatmeal” for example, I ask them for the recipe and try it for myself to see if I like it. One of my partners is a vegetarian so I have gotten great non-meat ideas from her that I have incorporated into my eating habits.

Additionally, I will ask for advice from my friends on this document. I had to make a meal for my daughters baptism and I asked my friends what they thought I should serve that would please a crowd as well as my waistline. I got some great ideas!

Maintaining Friendships:

As we have all moved into the child rearing portion of our lives we have been able to find less and less time to spend together. “The spreadsheet” is used as a place to vent and celebrate not only our weight loss journey but also our lives. By being on “the spreadsheet” we always know what is going on in people’s lives because of the food that they enter. Because of our shared document I know that last weekend one of my friends had a date night with her husband, another friend went to a fundraising benefit for the breast cancer 3 day, another one of my friends babysat for her brothers children, and another one of my friends went camping with her family. This is information that I now know on a weekly basis about my friends that I probably would not have otherwise have known. It has kept our relationships strong and happy.

If you are looking to lose weight I hope you give this technique a try!

The Perfect Baby Gift

When someone has a baby naturally everyone wants to come over and visit. Typically people show up with smiles and hugs and with gifts in hand. I would like to offer an additional suggestion of something people can bring.

A home cooked meal is the perfect addition.

When a new baby is in the house the meals often turn into take out pizza, fast food hamburgers, and peanut butter and jelly. I would like to testify to the fact that the best gifts I received were meals that I could put in my freezer and pull out, heat up, and enjoy. To make it easy for you I am going to share my go-to gift meal. This is a meal that is easy to make, freezes great, cooks very well after it has been thawed, and most importantly, tastes great!

Chicken & Rice Casserole

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 pkg Uncle Ben's quick Wild Rice - cook as directed
1 can cream of celery soup
1 med jar pimento-drained
1 med onion - chopped fine
1 can french style green beans-drained
1 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1 can sliced water chestnuts
salt & pepper to taste

Mix altogether, pour into 2-1/2 qt casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so. Freezes well, but don't cook prior to freezing.

Your friends will love you for this gift! Print it out and use it every time you hear that someone had a baby!

Here is a link to other make ahead meals that freeze well

What is Family and Consumer Sciences?

This is the first post on FACS of Our Lives so I felt it only appropriate to give a little background about the field of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Family and Consumer Sciences is the “Home Economics” of the 21st century. Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) used to be called “Home Economics” however along with the title of “Home Economics” comes quite a stigma…think June Cleaver.

As our families have changed since the 1960’s Home Economics no longer best described all that is encompassed within a family. It is at that time that Family and Consumer Sciences was born. FACS is a discipline that covers nutrition, parenting, family economics, consumerism, resource management, human development, interior design, clothing, fashion, and communication.

We have always known that running a family is the hardest job on earth, and Family and Consumer Sciences is the study of that all so important job! For a more detailed historical view of FACS please view the wikipedia description