Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes May 31st, 2013

--- 1 ---
I'm definitely still in the newborn haze phase because I thought I took like 2 days off from my blog, not like a week and a half! And all I have to show for it is increasingly chubby thighs on my baby :)

--- 2 ---
Okay that's not completely true. I also baked some stuff and sewed custom burp cloths for a friend who named her new baby "Alexander" and because I knew my friend is as geeky as me, I made them space themed with some quilted stars and glow in the dark embroidery!

--- 3 ---
I also watched the entire 2nd season of "Call the Midwife" on the PBS app and I really like it...and I normally don't like PBS. I don't even like Downton Abbey! (I'm beginning to understand where my week went, actually...)

--- 4 ---
My big bro, who has had some difficulty in the last finding & keeping a good job, just got his personal trainer certification and I'm really proud of him and hope this will be the key to a great long-term job for him!

--- 5 ---
I think I'm going to cover my summer wreath in red white and blue pinwheels! Do you do a wreath in summer? I'd love to hear what other people put on theirs!

--- 6 ---
My dad has to go on a business trip to the Great Northwest and I am crossing my fingers he'll send some huckleberry candy my way! Huckleberry cordials are so so yummy and totally unavailable where I live in the Midwest!

--- 7 ---
I have some fun reviews and non reviews planned for next week, so stay tuned. Now that I'm out of Call the Midwife episodes I have time to write again, lol. 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Miracles of Jesus App Review

We recently got the chance to check out the brand new "Miracles of Jesus" app and my preschooler and I both liked it a lot! I thought it'd be fun to share some of my 3 year old son's own words, plus my thoughts of course!

What it is:
Miracles of Jesus is a new app from NEST based on some of the biblical stories of Jesus performing miracles (based on the King James Version, but I didn't see any content that would be significantly different in other versions). It includes a storybook with two reading difficulty levels and games suitable for a variety of ages of kids.

My thoughts:
I think this is a great app. Definitely my favorite story app so far. The illustrations were extremely well-done and I am very impressed at the fact that they made two different difficulty levels. The games were fun and definitely appealing to a wide range of ages. My preschooler was able to do both of the mazes guiding Peter over the water to Jesus, but had to try hard to do so. He also enjoyed the letter and word tracing, which I especially loved because most tracing books and apps don't include religious words, but we use them a lot so they'll be good ones for him to know! Several of the games were too hard for him, which means there's something for him to grow into.

My kid said:
Reading is cool. And playing games. My favorite game about it was getting the guy to Jesus.

Get it:
You can buy the Miracles of Jesus app in the App Store for $2.99 at time of posting*.

The Bottom Line:
Miracles of Jesus is a really cute app with theologically sound content & a worthy addition to the app story collection of any Christian family.

*Always check the current price before downloading any app as they are subject to change!

I received a download code to try this app for free, but received no compensation for this post.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why I'm Anti-ELF! (Early Limited Formula)

You've probably heard by now about the study of "Early Limited Formula" or ELF as helping more of the moms in their teeny tiny (about 40 participants) study breastfeed longer by "curbing" the babies' hunger until the mom's milk comes in. It sounds great at face value-just give your baby a little formula and then eventually breastfeeding will be so awesome and perfect! But that's just not what common sense or decades of actual research on lactation tell us, and I for one am not buying it. (This is a good time to throw in my standard breastfeeding disclaimer: if you cannot breastfeed or have decided not to, I'm not trying to pick on you or second-guess your individual reasons. I trust that you personally did what is best for your particular family! My complaints are all directed at society/the medical profession in general and about what should be promoted for typical situations. Exceptions will of course always occur. Just keep being awesome and making the right decision for your family and you are a-ok in my book!) Anyway, as a mama to a Down Syndrome baby, this is especially frustrating to me because babies with Down Syndrome tend to have a weak suck due to low muscle tone and often low energy because of heart issues, which does make nursing difficult initially and I would hate to see a bunch of fellow mamas to DS babies unecessarily supplementing with formula because of one questionable study that came out.

my son as a newborn, right before I told the nurse who rolled a pump in to roll it right back out...
Ok, so what's the story here? A group of researchers took 40 families whose babies had lost more than 5% of their birth weight by 24 or 48 hours and assigned half to continue exclusively breastfeeding and half to receive ELF by syringe after each nursing session. More of the babies in the ELF group were exclusively breastfed at 3 months of age than the non-ELF group.

I definitely don't think ELF should be routinely recommended, even for babies who require supplemenation, despite this study. One reason why is that I question the study methodology, such as the ridiculously small sample size. There were fewer than 20 families within each group, so each mama counted for a very high percentage of the overall results. This is going to result in skewed data. To be fair, the researchers have acknowledged this and are not trying to change the current medical recommendations based on their small study. But because of the media hype and the countintuitive result they got, I thought it was worth adressing the issue anyway.

The second, bigger, point is that when supplementation is medically necessary, formula is NOT the best option. Most pro-breastfeeding sites I've seen advocate ranking best options if supplementation is necessary as:
  1. Your own pumped breastmilk
  2. Donor milk
  3. Formula
The fact that these researchers completely ignored what are generally recognized by lactation experts as the two best options for supplementation makes me wonder whether formula company funding was involved, the researchers didn't do their homework, or these researchers are just not that interested in actually promoting breastfeeding.

The La Leche League, for example, states:
Whenever a non-human milk is used, alterations in the baby's gut flora occur and will cause changes in the frequency, odor and consistency of baby's stool as well as how the baby settles after a feed (Kleessen et al 1995). In order to reduce the likelihood of an adverse reaction, the baby whose family has a history of allergies should not be exposed to non-human milk if it can be avoided (Saarinen & Kajosaari 1995; Gustafsson et al 1992). In this case, the longer the delay before first exposure, the better.
We know formula is NOT optimal for babies. For me to take a study like this seriously they would need to have additional control groups receiving pumped breastmilk from the mamas in question and donor milk.

I also question their threshold determining whether supplementation was necessary in the first place. It is widely accepted that the use of IV fluids in labor inflates birth weights. If babies are otherwise healthy and nursing well (i.e. good coloring, not overly lethargic for a newborn, good number of wet diapers, etc.), I don't think any temporary supplemenation is necessary in most cases. When it is, a supplemental nursing system that encourages the baby to suck at his mother's nipple, even if weakly and with a poor latch, to get his food, is probably the best option to contine to stimulate the natural supply and demand that makes breastfeeding work, and pumping is probably second best. Letting the baby get milk in a way that does not stimulate the mother's breasts is not going to keep her supply where it should be unless she is naturally blessed with oversupply.

Formula certainly has a place in our society and has undoubtedly saved many lives. And ELF in particular sounds far superior to simply switching to bottles of formula. But it shouldn't be a first, second, or even third option, and to promote it based on this study would be unwarranted in my opinion.
In summary, I find this study to have far too small of a sample size for the findings to be reliable and I find the control group choice questionable. I personally do not think this study is consistent with other existing medical literature on breastfeeding other than the mere fact that when supplementation is necessary, supplementing will positively affect the baby, and I think futher study would reveal that formula should continue to be a last resort for optimum baby health.

*I am not a medical professional of any kind. Please do lots of research and make educated decisions with your family and doctors and not based on my opinion!

Cure for the Mondays May 13, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

This is hilarious and would be so easy to do with cardboard boxes, or make a fun gift (and be less likely to blow away) if you used plywood!

It's supposed to be hot tomorrow so I think I need to whip up one of these recipes for the preschooler and me to enjoy!


And another nominee in the "yummy but healthy summer treat" category: blueberry zucchini bread!

This so so sweet and cute. And will make me feel less guilty about always getting those free maps at rest stops and only using them on that one trip!

And I totally want to try this DIY lip gloss. It might actually make my perpetually chapped lips feel better and look prettier at the same time!

What ideas have inspired you lately?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review of Barnes & Noble Guide to Children's Books

What it is
The Barnes & Noble Guide to Children's Books is a exactly what it sounds--a handy reference with blurbs about hundreds of the best kids' books around. It's separated into sections according to age range and also features special sections on things like "innovative format" books, plus lists of Caldecott and Newbery award winners dating back to the 20's &30's!

Who wrote it
The Barnes & Noble Guide to Children's Books is "selected and reviewed" by Kaylee N. Davis, but also features essays from dozens of today's top children's authors like Sandra Boynoton, Mo Willems, and many more.
Babar! Jamberry! So many books I NEED!

My thoughts
I think Davis did a great job of putting this guide together. I can see it being super useful to anyone who buys or selects a lot of children's books! It was really funny to look through it with my preschooler and watch his eyes light up at a cover that caught his interest, then look and see that it was a book I loved as a kid but had long forgotten about! I liked the way it was broken into broad age categories so buyers wouldn't get too caught up in specific grades, but would still have an idea of whether a book was appropriate for the kid they were buying for. And I loved the handy list of award winning books!

Get it
You can buy the Barnes & Noble Guide to Children's Books directly from Barnes & Noble for about $9 at time of posting.*

The Bottom Line
A worthwhile buy for anyone who buys lots of kids' books. A must have for libraries, schools, daycares, and bookstores!

The Important Book! How have I never read that to my son?!?

I received a free review copy of this book but received no other compensation for this post.
*Always check current prices before buying. They can change quickly online!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cure for the Mondays May 6, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

This looks delicious and brilliantly easy. Definitely needs to go on my menu soon!

I was in love with the Disneyland version of these (sold right by the Tiki Room!) as a kid, and can't wait to try making my own!

I'm tempted to make something like this for my mom for Mother's Day this weekend

Oh and last but certainly not least, did you know today is Sew Mama, Sew's Spring Giveaway Day? That means today kicks off a week long giveaway extravaganza with crafty prizes up for grabs on hundreds of blogs!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shimmer & Splash Book Review

What it is
Shimmer & Splash is a children's book from Sterling Publishing about sea creatures, featuring 4 foldout pages that create huge ocean scenes!

Who wrote it
Jim Arnosky a naturalist and artist/illustrator of over 70 books! (PS: He has free coloring book pages on his website! Hurray!)

My thoughts
This book is so gorgeous! I wish every book had pictures as great as this. My 4th grade self kind of wants to tear carefully cut all the pages out, especially the dolphin one, and glue them to my binder. Since I'm now in my 20's and a mom and don't have a binder, I guess I'll leave them in the book.

Besides the pictures being so pretty that it could just be a coffee table book with no words, there is text! And it's not bad! Arnosky writes in the first person about a trip to the ocean he took to look at and draw the creatures in his book. Having a first person narrative that ties all the pages together is a refreshing change in a non-fiction kids' book and helped it not feel like an encyclopedia. Besides his personal notes, there's also lots of great information about the animals, and many of them are drawn full size. One of the coolest pages, in my opinion, is the shark page, which features life-size drawings of shark teeth plus awesome non-life-sized pictures of the entire sharks. My preschooler loved seeing that the tooth of a great white shark is bigger than any of his fingers!

Pretty much the only thing I didn't like was that he didn't include any sea otters (probably because his trip was in Florida instead of the west coast, and also in his defense he does have an entire book about river otters.) Despite its exclusion of my favorite animal, I am kind of obsessed with this book. I really can't believe I've never heard of Arnosky before, but don't worry-my next trip to the library will definitely include some of his other books!

My kid said
I like the sea creatures. And look how big this page gets, Mom! My favorite page is the shark page 'cause it's so interesting!

  • beautiful art work
  • compelling personal story
  • interesting scientific facts
  • no sea otters
Get it
You can buy Shimmer & Splash on Amazon for about $11 at time of posting, which is an amazing price for a kids' book this large (it's full-sized, not a little board book!), let alone one of this caliber.*

The bottom line
A gorgeous, must have book for preschoolers and elementary school kids who are interested in sea creatures!

Thank you to Sterling Publishing for providing a review copy of this book! I received no other compensation for this post.
*Always check current prices before buying, as they do change quickly on Amazon!