Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Babywearing as a Hobby: Collecting, Churning, Selling and Swapping

Mothers have been using baby carriers for pretty much all of recorded history, and as modern mamas in Western nations are rediscovering this amazingly useful skill, some of us are also discovering it can be really fun to collect and trade these gorgeous pieces of cloth! It is absolutely not necessary to have multiple wraps or buy and sell them in order to consider yourself a *real*, well-loved, essential part of the babywearing community. It is just a fun hobby that many of us enjoy a great deal!

Our newest wrap, Solnce Genesis Bliss, bought from a group on FB using PayPal

How to get started
The first step is to buy some baby carriers, learn to use them, and start figuring out what you like! 

Where to learn
There are babywearing groups on Facebook and websites like babycenter.com, and websites like thebabywearer.com devoted entirely to babywearing. There are also great YouTube channels like BabywearingFaith to help learn new wrapping techniques. As you learn more about different carries, fiber blends, wrap widths, taper length/angle, and types of weaves (sometimes known as "wrap geekery"), you will find yourself wanting to try different sizes and fiber blends from different companies to see how they differ and to find the perfect one for you! 
Where to buy 
When originally released, wraps can be bought directly from the manufacturer and from stores like Wrap Your Baby and Marsupial Mamas. Local cloth diaper stores may sometimes also carry more common brands of woven wraps. However many wraps are released in extremely limited quantities and sell out within minutes, so the only way to ever get to try one is to get extremely lucky or to buy one on the secondary market. There are several swaps on Facebook, like the Babywearing Swap and the High End Swap. The common practice in these groups and in the wrap swap sections of babycenter and thebabywearer.com is to use paypal for buying and selling wraps, as it offers some protection to both buyers and sellers in these private transactions. These groups almost always also have spin off "feedback" pages where members can check to make sure they are buying and selling to reliable people. Established members of these groups also commonly engage in paypal backed trades; because wraps can be quite expensive, especially for the most hard to find (htf) and highly sought after (hsa)  wraps, this helps prevent either party in a trade from being taken advantage of while still allowing them to try wraps they might not ever have otherwise gotten to see and use in real life!

How much does it cost?
Wraps themselves range in cost from under $100 for the least expensive options like little frog brand to over $1000 for hsa and htf wraps like artipoppe and uppymama wraps that are auctioned off. Beyond the cost of the wraps, the only real cost is shipping expenses, which range from about $5-20 for most shipments in the US but can cost much more for faster shipping and international shipping. Occasionally you may make money if a wrap you bought for retail price has become htf/hsa and gone up in value, but many in the babywearing community bristle at the idea of charging much more for a wrap than you yourself paid, so tread lightly if attempting to flip wraps for a profit. 

Like any type of collecting, churning woven wraps can be a great deal of fun, and the fact that wraps are beautiful and useful for caring for our children makes it even better than many other items we could be collecting instead!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The easy healthcare solution?

It's time for another big change to the laws and tax structure surrounding corporate healthcare. 

I have been thinking a lot the last few days about the recent Supreme Court case, and while on a certain level I celebrate that the decision seems to be in favor of religious freedom, I also totally understand the other side, and can see the potential for issues in the future with other religious objections to specific medical care. 

And more importantly, I see that as long as employers are required to pay for specific healthcare there will be opportunity for employers to be required to pay for specific healthcare they fear risking their soul to provide. 

The more I think about it, the more I feel the easiest solution is for employers to offer a healthcare allowance that employees could use to buy any healthcare plan they choose (within the price range obviously, or paying extra beyond the allowance out of pocket). This would allow employees to choose the healthcare they want without the employer feeling like they are sinning by paying for medications or procedures they feel are sinful. This could be done either through a reimbursement system, or by giving everyone a raise in the amount of the healthcare allowance, which would have the added bonus of allowing frugal employees to choose less expensive healthcare plans than some of their colleagues and save or spend the rest of their paycheck for other necessities, retirement, etc!

Because employers don't really want to micromanage others' healthcare decisions. Hobby Lobby executives don't spend their time making sure their employees don't buy alcohol or porn or other things that would be in opposition to the religious beliefs of HL owners. They just don't want to buy it themselves because they feel this jeopardizes their soul, and the current healthcare system makes them feel as if that is what they are required to do. 

I also thinking moving away from corporate healthcare plans would reduce the inequalities between plans for corporations and plans for small business owners, the self-employed, and others who are not provided healthcare by their jobs. Currently, this second group of people tends to pay more for less when it comes to healthcare. But the combination of laws and tax subsidies and breaks makes giving employees money to choose their own health care plan much more expensive for employers. Our tax structure rewards the current inequity through the breaks available to companies who provide corporate healthcare plans, and we ought revise that. This would also increase competition between healthcare plans, who will have to compete for employees of the biggest companies rather than automatically getting all or none of them depending on their contracts, and this would encourage companies to offer more coverage for lower prices, which would benefit all of us. 

Your boss shouldn't be able to decide what healthcare you receive. But they also shouldn't be forced to decide between being a good boss and violating their religious beliefs. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I am not a healthcare industry insider, so I could be missing something...this solution seems like a compromise that serves all parties well though!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Star Wars Workbook Review

What they are
The Star Wars Workbook collection is a new set of math, reading, and writing workbooks for preschool through second grade based on the characters and lore of the Star Wars universe. 

Who made them
Workman Publishing, one of the top publishing houses in the nation. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Our thoughts

We got to check out Star Wars Workbook: Preschool Shapes, Colors, and Patterns, Star Wars Workbook: Kindergarten Phonics and ABCs, and Star Wars Workbook: Kindergarten Writing and ABCs and loved all three. The preschool book was a little easy for my son who is almost 5, but not so easy that it was boring for him. The kindergarten phonics book seemed just right for him, and the writing book was hard for him, but not so hard that he couldn't do it. 
I really love that the Star Wars theme was so well incorporated into all the activities but not at the expense of educational content. The theme really enhanced the learning, and motivated my son to want to do more pages and do them well!


Good for both boys and girls

Only pre-k through 2nd grade available right now

The bottom line
If you are a parent, teacher, or otherwise involved in teaching a child from 3-7 who likes Star Wars, these books are a must-have!

Get it

The Star Wars workbooks are available from Amazon, most for $5.66 each at time of posting. They've also appeared on Zulily, so keep your eyes open for them there too!

I received sample copies of these books for free to review but received no other compensation for this post. Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you choose to use one, your price stays the same but I get a teensy bit of Amazon's profits. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

DIY ice cream cake! Easy to make dairy free or lactose free!

Ice cream cakes were a big part of family birthday parties when I was a kid, especially for my dad and I who have birthdays that were often so hot that a warm cake fresh out of the oven didn't even sound appealing. But we always bought our ice cream cakes, and until recently I didn't even realize you could make your own! As an adult, I became lactose intolerant and thought I could never again have ice cream cake. Luckily I looked it up, and it's actually super easy!! There are actually tons of recipes and ideas online, and after reading them, here's the technique I came up with to make a ridiculously easy, custom ice cream cake to impress your friends, family, and taste buds on hot summer days.

What you need

A regular cake recipe you like (I used this one and divided it into three: )
Ice cream (I used an entire box of lactose free Breyer's chocolate ice cream), thawed until just slightly softened
Oreos (I used about half a family sized package as crushed Oreos, plus a few more as decoration)
Round cake pans
Plastic wrap
Parchment papern.  

What you do

Bake your cake, being sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Remove from pan and allow to cool with parchment paper facing down. 
Wash cake pans
Line cake pans with plastic wrap
Crush Oreos
Place crushed Oreos in bottom of plastic wrap lined pan
Place softened ice cream on top of Oreos. Spread until fairly flat. Cover with plastic wrap
Freeze for 4 hours
Stack layers of cake and ice cream
Frost if desired (i used homemade buttercream frosting)
Decorate top with halves of Oreos if desired. 
Eat and enjoy! 
I made mine a 7 layer cake in honor of our 7th wedding anniversary. If you want to make a slightly less complicated one, try two layers of cake and just one layer of ice cream, in the middle of the two cake layers. You won't need the whole box of ice cream, and it won't be so absurdly (yet wonderfully) tall at the end!
You can substitute almond milk or coconut milk ice cream for the traditional ice cream in this recipe to make it dairy free. 
This would obviously be delicious with any flavor of cake and ice cream that captures your imagination! I chose chocolate because I was so excited that Breyer's came out with more than just vanilla in lactose free!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Awesome new brand: Nickel & Suede

One of my friends who is amazingly creative and fashionable just launched a new brand of accessories!
Kilee from One Little Momma has long been selling amazing leather baby and kid belts in her Etsy shop One Little Belt, but has now branched out with bracelets, earrings, and more with Nickel & Suede
Her focus in Nickel & Suede is stylish leather and metal accessories, and my favorite is these awesome leather earrings: 
Please ignore the leaning baby who hates ring slings...look at the pretty earrings!

Besides classic neutrals like silver and gold, Kilee also keeps her store stocked with leather earrings and bracelets in trendy colors. I have my eye on these orchid beauties:

Anyway, to celebrate their launch, Nickel & Suede is hosting giveaways on their Facebook and Instagram pages and on the One Little Momma blog, so hurry on over to take part in all the fun! You can also follow them on Twitter.

I received no compensation for this post. I bought the earrings I mentioned myself because they are so cute!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My favorite cheap tops for postpartum/nursing!

I recently got a new top and it's awesome enough I wanted to share it with you in case anyone else is looking for pooch-friendly, nursing friendly, comfy, inexpensive top (or several!) My new top is this drapey black top from Sun N Moon brand via Zulily. The crisscross draping distracts from postpartum pooch, while the thinness of the fabric prevents it from adding bulk. The deep v of the neckline means that paired with a nurse tank or even a regular cami, it's easy to get good nursing access. Personally I love to pair it with a fun maxi skirt!
Sorry for the terrible selfie, but I figured the outfit was worth seeing even if that's the best pic I could get! In this pic I had only lost about 10-15lbs of the baby weight and still had 15ish to go to get down to a healthy weight for my height. I carry most of my excess weight in my stomach, but I do not think I look 15lbs overweight in this picture at all, and I think I look better in real life than in pictures with this top on. 
You can often find these tops on zulily by searching for "crisscross drape top", or occasionally "twist drape top", and they come in many colors and both long sleeve and tank top versions. If I did it right, this widget should automatically stay updated, so if there are any of these tops available from zulily that day, some of them should show up in it! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Little Life of Jesus Book Review

What it is
Little Life of Jesus is a book for preschoolers about the life of Jesus.

Who wrote it
Adeline Avril and Anne Gravier for Magnificat/Ignatius

Our thoughts

Biblically sound
Cute pictures
Nice about of text for antsy preschoolers

Some details of crucifixion may be upsetting to some children

Get it

Little Life of Jesus is available from Amazon for $8.99 at time of posting this review. 

The bottom line
A great simple storybook about Jesus for toddlers and preschoolers. Perfect for Sunday morning diaper bags. 

I received a free copy of this book through the Tiber River review program in exchange for an honest review