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Happy New Year, Mommy!

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am happy that 2012 is behind me. Every year has its ups and downs, but I feel that 2012 was particularly hairy, and I am celebrating every time I write 2013 on a check or document this week. (I may be the only person who still actually writes checks.)

I’m not one for a New Year’s resolution, but this time of year does start me thinking about how to improve life, health, relationships, diet, etc.  At Bottle Snugglers, we are going through a lot of changes this month and this year. This little baby bottle holder, which has been the center of my universe for four years, has taken me on quite a journey. I am so thankful for my customers’ and friends’ support! Good things are ahead here for sure. More on that in a few weeks.

So, how are we (yes, you are included here) going to make 2013 a great year? I have a few ideas for myself, which I am going to keep rather vague and unmeasurable to stay out of the “resolution” category. I like consider them goals instead.

1. Think less about baby shower gifts. :)
2. Sleep more.
3. Be more involved in the “world” (read: actually leave my desk and see humans)
4. Aim for three days a week minimum of some fun physical activity. Less punishment, more fun outdoors.
5. Appreciate myself, and celebrate my achievements, even if I don’t achieve all of these goals.

We are busy. We are sometimes overcommitted. We are tired. We need a third hand to help feed our baby while we assist our toddler in reading a book and our kindergartner in making a snack. But Moms get it all done somehow, and that is what I think we should all focus on in 2013. Celebrating ourselves and our every day accomplishments. Do you agree?

Happy 2013! You have made my last 4 New Years celebrations very memorable.

Making Baby’s Food? Consider Organic Produce

We all love to save money without sacrificing quality, no? For me, this has become an obsession of late. I like to see if I can make our dollars stretch a little further without compromising too much on what we need and want.

One great way to stretch the budget when baby is on jarred food is to make it yourself. I wrote a post on this very topic recently. While we’re at it, we should look closely at the types of foods we are using. For example, how do you know which produce needs to be organic and which is relatively low in pesticides conventionally? Let’s take a look.

You may have heard of the list of produce most often containing insecticides/pesticides called the “Dirty Dozen Plus,” as set forth by the Environmental Working Group. They also produce a list called the “Clean 15,” which are most often the lowes pesticide containing foods. These lists give us a short, easy to use guideline on how to consume (and feed our infants and kids) less of these poisons, which are meant to kill and deter insects on the farm. The latest findings are listed on their website at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.

Important to mention is this quote from the website: “Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.”

The Dirty Dozen Plus (produce that typically contains the most harmful pesticides if bought non-organic) – apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, green beans and kale.

The Clean 15 (produce that typically has the least harmful pesticides present and is OK to buy conventional) – onions, corn, pineapple, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and mushrooms.

What I take from this report is that, when possible, I should buy the Dirty Dozen Plus items organic, but if I can’t afford the organic version or it’s not available, conventional will do. Information is power. So, maybe you buy organic apples and peaches for baby food, but you go for the conventional peas and avocados. If you can, make enough to freeze, and next trip, you can get some different organic produce and do the same. In no time, you will have a good supply to choose from at each mealtime, and it will be no sweat to replenish little by little without the temptation to go all out and blow your budget in one trip. Ahhh. I love it when a plan works out!

However you decide to feed your baby, you will make the right choice. :) Enjoy this beautiful fall day.

Back-to-School Organizing 101

If you have a Bottle Snuggler, you clearly have an infant in your life. Lucky you. Many of Bottle Snugglers’ customers have older children as well, and for these Moms, it’s back-to-school prep time.

Fall is my favorite season. Always has been. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in September, or maybe it’s that I’m not an extreme weather lover, and the cool breeze and lower humidity are more pleasant for me. Either way, the start of the school year brings back fond childhood memories of getting new notebooks and school supplies, shopping for school clothes, and making  my plans for the year.

My son is going into first grade later this month. After day one or two, having “new school clothes” isn’t really necessary at this point. That will come soon enough, I’m sure. We have his school supply list, and he has picked out his new backpack and lunchbox for this year. And now, I’m thinking about how his schedule will affect our household. It’s a good time to make plans that will ease the chaos and lessen the chances of forgetting something important in all the excitement.

My biggest weapon against morning crises is to lay everything out the night before. By the time I go to bed, I will have Max’s lunch packed, except for the refrigerated items, his backpack loaded, permission slips signed and clothes laid out, complete with shoes and socks. In the bathroom, I lay his vitamins, sunblock, brush and toothbrush/paste out in a line on the counter, ready for action with little thought needed. I even take it one step further in the kitchen, and lay out the pot and the oatmeal, along with our bowls and spoons, so I am skipping those steps in the morning. I figure it gives me an extra 10 minutes of sleep, plus I am able to think more clearly at night when the pressure is not on.

My husband and I are both self-employed, so we make a plan for the week for who will drop off and who will pick up. This ensures that we don’t double book ourselves and have to scramble. We keep a calendar on the fridge with any details on it: after school doctor’s appointments, religious events, birthday gifts needed for a weekend party, etc. Things may still fall through the cracks, but we definitely make a good effort.

We all have our little tricks for getting it all done. My friend and a very talented organizer, Angela Harris of Angela Harris Design, has some tips for back-to-school organizing that I wanted to share with you, too. Sometimes it helps to hear someone else’s perspective. Maybe you’ll find another little tip that saves you some time this year! http://bit.ly/OI6VKp

At least, if you do have to walk your little one into class, you have your Bottle Snuggler for an extra had with the baby Good luck with your plans!

Are You at Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression has been more in the spotlight in the last few years. Or maybe I just started noticing it more after I became a Mom. It’s easy to overlook topics until they are super relevant to you.

We all know first-hand someone who has been affected by this condition, which can affect any pregnant or postpartum woman. Pregnancy hormones are complicated, and they can make us feel a range of emotions, good or bad, which sometimes feel like a roller coaster that we can’t get out of. The same process that preps our body for carrying and giving birth to our babies can seem to turn on us and cause havoc in our lives.

Most importantly, those of us who have had experience with PPD, either personally or through a loved one, need to be vigilant in informing our new Mom friends about the potential for postpartum depression and how it may rear its head. I read a great interview on The Family Groove about this topic, and I wanted to share it here. I’m all about sharing our parenting resources, so look through my other blog posts and see if anything else is helpful to you.

Below is a link to the article on Postpartum Support International. Feel well!
http://www.thefamilygroove.com/may12_CharityMonth.htm

Were Labor and Delivery What You Expected?

I came across an article in Parents Magazine today about the myths associated with child birth. Some of them are promoted in TV and the movies, and some of them are real situations that just don’t happen to everyone. My child birth process was nothing like what I have seen in the media, but I was pretty prepared by my doctor and friends to not be too attached to my plan during this process.

My water did break at home, but it was nothing like the gush that we see ruining shoes on our favorite shows. It was more like a trickle, and I didn’t really know what it was until I spoke to the doctor! He advised me to eat a snack, take a shower, and take my time going to the hospital, as I was having baby #1, and it would likely be a few hours before we had any real action. He was right.

I had the notion that my doctor would be in or near my room most of the time until the baby was born, but this was not quite right. It turns out that he actually takes appointments at his office (across the street from the hospital) in between deliveries. This makes sense if you think about it – otherwise, how would he ever see non-delivering patients? I was also amazed at how calm the nurses were at every step. They actually gave me a time frame of when I could start pushing babsed on when the doctor would return. Amazing.

About halfway through the process, we had a slow down in dilation, and I was given a labor-inducing drug to help things along. I expected it to be fast, but it was a couple more hours before we were at 10cm. When it came time to push, this part of the festivities only lasted about 15 minutes, and Baby was welcomed to the world.

Of course, the part that no one tells you about is passing the placenta. I won’t go into detail here (Moms – you know the drill already), but it was definitely a lesson in anatomy and physiology, up close and personal. This I definitely was not expecting, and I have never seen it on TV, even on the TLC child birth shows, which I watched incessantly from month 8 forward. Someone should really mention that to first-time Moms. :)

Other myths listed in the story were that having intercourse will trigger labor, when your cervis is dilated, your labor will start soon, and your milk comes in immediately after birth.  Overall, my birth experience was uneventful, thankfully. And I have shared more information with my friends than was shared with me in the spirit of helping out the next generation of first-time Moms.

If you want to read the article, it’s in the March issue of Parents (www.parents.com). I couldn’t find it on the website. I hope you will share birth stories with us here!

Need Some Cute Baby Shower Ideas?

Whew! December has really kicked life up a notch, hasn’t it? I realized today that with all of my running around, I have not blogged since Thanksgiving. I know you’re as busy as I am during the many holidays that happen in these months, so I’ll keep today’s post on the short side.

Bottle Snugglers is now affiliated with a great website called www.thefamilygroove.com. They have so much great info on all things family, from pregnancy through dinner ideas and everything in between. Today, I saw a great article with some baby shower ideas that I wanted to share.

I pay a lot of attention to baby shower articles since I own a baby product business (duh) and I actually attend quite a few of them. Luckily, a Bottle Snuggler is always the perfect gift, but it’s fun to see the games, decor, and refreshments that are offered at these events. At my baby shower, we played a really fun game where our hostess melted fun-sized candy bars into Pampers, and we had to try to guess what each one was. Tasting WAS allowed if you dared!  It was frightening to see people dig into a baby diaper with a spoon!

This post gives ideas for three very different showers from the invites to food and even decor and activities for each. I hope you can use them to add to your tool kit for the next shower you host. http://www.thefamilygroove.com/dec10_ShowerPower.htm

Cupcakes Help Welcome Fall Weather

I don’t know about your kids, but my 4-year-old is a fanatic for cupcakes. Not cookies. Not cake. It has to be cupcakes, and the icing is the most important part. He has been known to eat the top of the cupcake and hand the icing-free bottom half back to me.

He definitely gets his sweet tooth from me. Luckily for him, I love to bake and experiment with different icing tips, colors, decorations and cake recipes. One of my latest victories was when I was out of Ener-G egg replacer (Max is allergic to eggs), and I used a combination of canned pumpkin and applesauce (1/4 cup for each egg). The cake was so moist, and I loved knowing that the extra nutrients from the fruits were in there. Stealth nutrition is just fine with me.

I was surfing the Web to find some new ideas for cupcake decorating, and I had to share this link. http://thecupcakerecipes.com/ They have SO many ideas that I will be busy for a while! Fall is my favorite season, so I am looking forward to baking some Pumpkin Patch cupcakes. Who cares that Halloween was last week?

Guest Post: Mothers: Surviving Stress in the Holidays by Snowden McFall, author of Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers

Halloween is almost here, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanza are all coming in December.  That means upcoming crazy days for mothers who are already incredibly busy.  How do you cope and what can you do?

 First, ask yourself how stressed are you right now.  If you’re like most Americans, you’re very stressed. Career Builder.com says that 78% of American workers feel burned out. 1/3 of Americans say they’re living with extreme stress.1 Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related and 43% of adults are sick because of stress.

 As a mother, that stress gets magnified, especially if you are a working mother. Despite their best attempts, many husbands are not much help at home and women carry the greatest burdens of housework as well as childcare and community service. And the more stressed you are, the more stressed your children are.

 ”Children absolutely sense parents’ stress,” says pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg, associate professor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In 2009, 36% of kids surveyed said they worried more this summer than last; 30% said they worried about family financial difficulties. 2

 What Can You Do To Lower Your Stress Levels?


1. Sleep at least 7 hours a night.  According to the World Health Organization, anything less than 7 hours a night could cause cancer!  Less than 7 hours means you are 3 times more susceptible to colds and likely to gain more weight. The solution: go to bed earlier, no email before bed, no TV in bed.  Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleeping, making love and resting.

2. Take Vacations:  Sadly, Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all! And yet for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half, according to a Boston College study! 3  Expedia also found most people feel rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriage.

3. Use aromatherapy to help with stress. A few drops of vanilla oil on the wrists of a child can transform a cranky, whiny child into one who is happy and laughing. Peppermint extract on your forehead or temples can help relieve pain immediately.  It’s also great for concentration.  Lemon scent cuts keyboard mistakes by 50%!

4. Spend time with girlfriends The latest research shows spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  In a study, those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death in the next 10 years by 60%.4

5. Cultivate Optimism Optimists live 7 years longer than pessimists, have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or die from cancer. The top 10% executives think differently from others: they are all optimists! So if you want greater success, achievement,  and joy in your life, become a more positive thinker.

Women have the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of others. As mothers, your greatest gifts are your love, wisdom and   care taking.  But only if you take care of yourself and manage your stress.

# # #

 Snowden McFall, professional speaker, trainer and author, is the owner of 27- year old Brightwork Advertising and Training and 14-year old Fired Up. She has written 5 books, including Fired Up!, which has sold  63,000+ copies, and her new book Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers. An expert on stress and motivation,  she has appeared on 300 radio shows, CNN Financial News, The Home Shopping Network, Bloomberg Television, Investors Business Daily, and foxnews.com. She was named National Women in Business Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration and was honored at the White House and Congress. She can be reached at www.firedupnow.com

For your free report:  The Top 20 Tips to Get Fired Up and Stay Fired Up, go to http://firedupnow.com/top20tips.html  

1.  “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.

2.   Jayson, Sharon Kids ‘absolutely’ feel parents’ stress, 30% worry about finances,”  USA Today,  11/2/2009 http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-11-03-kids-stress-parents_N.htm

 3. Brown, Sarah,  “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

4.  Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A. “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.

Can Busy Moms Stay Organized?

I am thinking of organization a lot right now, as I have recently cleaned and reorganized my bedroom closet. I am so happy to have donated a huge load of clothing and shoes to a local organization that helps women get back on their feet AND to have a neatly hung closet where I can easily find what I need.

If you have kids, you know the avalanche of “stuff” that can fall on you without notice. You look around their room and think, “When did we get all of this?” At least you multi-tasking Moms have your Bottle Snuggler so you have one hand free to start the cleaning out and organization process while your baby takes a bottle!

Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons that perks up my organizing efforts. To me, it’s a lot easier to keep a closet orgainzed than it is to keep my schedule, along with my son’s and my husband’s, plus our social calendar, our holiday obligations, and keep everyone healthy and happy. I often look online for help in this area, and I recently found Maria Gracia, an expert who offers free tips to orgainze all areas of your life.

If you go to www.getorganized.com, you can download a list of 50 tips. My favorite so far is the idea of using only one central calendar, rather than one on your desk, one on the fridge and one in your Blackberry. It’s tough to do, but I intend to put this tip to use. She also suggests to schedule time for yourself each day (why don’t I already do that?) and to take a few minutes to put things away each day, rather than trying to do it all on Saturday morning.

I hope you find the tips as helpful as I did. I will take any help I can get, especially free help, to get and keep my life in order these days. Enjoy the fall weather!

Finding the Right Breast Pump

It’s easy to get  caught up in the breast vs. bottle feeding debate. There is such strong emotion on both sides. Personally, I try very hard to stay out of the debate altogether!

I breast fed my son for several months, pumping after the first couple of weeks so that my husband could participate and so that we didn’t lose any of the liquid gold that I was actually over-producing. So I can see both sides: knowing that breast milk is super nutritious and having to make a personal decision (or having it made for you by your body) to formula feed. I trust every Mom to make the right decision for her and to make sure that her baby is fed. Bottle Snugglers are perfect for breast milk and formula! In fact, it was during that time that I actually discovered them.

That said, because I remember going through a myriad of breast pumps to find the perfect one for me, I wanted to give a resource for a few that are on the market now. I found a great list on www.babylovesyourmilk.com grouped together by price. That site also has lots of articles on breast feeding and in depth features and info on each of these styles. You first have to choose whether you want an electronic one or a manual. I used electronic, but the manual models are somewhat cheaper. To each her own!

Personal Electric Pumps, $150 and up

  • Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump
  • Medela Pump In Style Original Breast Pump
  • Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump
  • Avent Isis IQ Duo Breast Pump
  • Playtex Embrace Breast Pump 

Electronic, $75 and up

  • Medela Double Select Breast Pump
  • Medela Swing (new in 2006) Breast Pump
  • Bailey/Ameda Nurture III Breast Pump
  • Avent Isis IQ Uno Breast Pump

Manual Breast Pumps, under $75

  • Medela Harmony Breast Pump
  • Ameda One-Hand Breast Pump
  • Avent Isis (manual) Breast Pump
  • Medela PedalPump Breast Pump
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