Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spectrum Workbooks from Carson Dellosa Review

I got to check out the new Spectrum workbooks from Carson-Dellosa and can't wait to share what we thought of them!

What they are
A new line of workbooks currently covering math, language arts, and science for grades K-5

Who made them
Carson-Dellosa, one of the leading companies for workbooks and educational supplies (I'm a huge fan of their bulletin board materials!)

Our experience
My son loves new workbooks, and these definitely kept his attention. We got to try 5 of their workbooks, so we chose a variety of kindergarten level books. So far he seems interested in all of them, and like they're all really helping him learn!

The Spectrum Kindergarten Sight Words seems like a great way to introduce and work on sight words. I love that there are workbook pages with a variety of activities but also flash cards and word lines to cut out so we can work on learning sight words in many different ways. 

I really love this phonics book. I think my son is going to really make great progress by working through this book towards being able to read and write anything he wants! I am impressed with the wide variety of activities in it.

I was a little skeptical intitially-how can kids who can't spell yet do a spelling workbook?!? But this book has tons of totally age appropriate activities to encourage learning to spell.

My son is so excited to learn to read and this book has so many great tools in it to help him reach that goal. The focus seems primarily on understanding what you see or read, sequencing, etc, so it pairs really well with the other language arts books. 

I really love this math workbook. My son is very mathematically oriented and loves the variety of exercises in this book. I can tell he's going to learn a lot and enjoy doing it while using this book. It covers counting, addition, and even simple subtraction. I do with they had a bit more explanation on the page with a number grid since that's "new math" since I was in kindergarten and I think many parents are not confident in navigating the new math. It wasn't hard to figure out in the K book, but in higher grade levels I think some explanation for parents might be very appreciated!

Tons of content
Reasonable prices

No science for K

The bottom line
Definitely worth having for any family who homeschools, supplements school or preschool with workbooks, or uses workbooks over the summer!

Get it
You can buy Carson-Dellosa Spectrum workbooks directly from Carson-Dellosa, on Amazon, or at many other great online and brick & mortar stores!

I received 5 free workbooks for review purposes. I received no other compensation for this post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bummis Dimple Diaper & Whisper Cover Review!

I recently got to try the new Bummis dimple diaper and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

What it is
An awesome new fitted diaper (with insert) from Bummis plus one of their classic covers combined to make a perfect nighttime diapering solution!

Who makes it
Bummis, a leader in the cloth diaper industry, specializing in high quality, made-in-America diapers using US sourced materials whenever possible.

Our experience
We got to try one of the Bummis dimple diapers and a whisper cover in "big city" print. Overall I would say that we love this diaper, and I've been recommending it to lots of people as a nighttime solution because it works so well for us. Once it had been washed enough times to reach full absorbency, the dimple diaper was absorbent enough to handle nighttimes and long car rides without making my son fussy. The whisper wrap pairs with it pretty well, but if you're new to fitteds & covers, make sure that it's tucked in everywhere around all the edges. We had one leak with this diaper, and it was a time it didn't check to make sure it was well tucked in around his thigh. 
The dimple diaper, booster and whisper cover feel very sturdy yet soft-it's obvious they're made of high quality materials. The snaps on the diaper and the hook & loop on the cover both open and close easily for me but stick well enough to deter my toddler from attempting any diaper changes on his own. We liked that the fitted diaper is made of natural fibers, but did find for overnight that the polyester stay dry side of the insert seemed to be more comfortable for him. We have tried it without the insert, with the insert on the cotton side, and with the insert on the stay dry side and all seem to work well. 

  • Absorbent
  • Comfortable for baby
  • Natural fibers
  • Flexibility


The bottom line
A fantastic solution for nighttime, road trips, and general use, especially for heavy wetters!

Get it
You can buy the Bummis dimple diaper and whisper wrap directly from Bummis, from many cloth diaper stores across the country and online, and from Amazon

I received a free Bummis diaper as part of their tester program but received no compensation for this blog post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Super Easy Italian Breadsticks Kitchen Hack!!!

A long time ago I tried the almost famous breadsticks recipe but wasn't a big fan, because I'm not good at shaping my breadsticks evenly. Luckily my husband liked the way they tasted so much he encouraged me to make them again, and even more luckily, I remembered a technique a fast food place I used to work made their breadsticks and figured out how to modify it to work in my own kitchen! So anyway, this is the easiest way to to make evenly shaped breadsticks ever, and they taste as good as they look!

What you need
Lasagna pan-mine is 11x14 and I recommend getting one that does not have a nonstick coating, like this one:

Pizza cutter and/or butter knife
Cloth napkin or placemat

What you do
Make and knead your bread dough according to the recipe
Oil bottom of lasagna pan
Spread dough evenly along bottom of pan

Put a little oil on your pizza cutter and/or knife
Use pizza cutter and/or bread knife to cut dough into even strips

Cover lasagna pan with cloth napkin or cloth placemat to prevent drying while rising
Allow breadsticks to rise
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes as specified in recipe
Rub a stick of cold butter across the tops of the breadsticks then sprinkle with garlic salt and Italian seasonings, or with cinnamon sugar

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lottie doll review

What it is
Lottie dolls are 7.5" tall dolls designed to look like adventurous 9 year old girls (and her proportions are based on those of real 9 year olds!). Lottie dolls come in a variety of skin and hair tones and fun themes including pirate, equestrian, ballerina, naturalist, and more!

Who makes it
Lottie dolls are made by Arklu, a British toy company established in 2011. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter. 

Our thoughts
I got to check out the Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie and the raspberry ripple outfit and was very impressed by both. Her clothes are well made and she is a perfect size to be carried around by a preschooler or elementary school student. I love that her clothes are stylish and cheerful and fun but not "sexy" like so many popular dolls these days. They were also fairly easy to get on and off. Her tights in particular were much easier to get on and off than I remember Barbie tights being to get on and off (probably the lack of curves helps!) And I think the prices are pretty reasonable--about $20 for the dolls or pony and about $10 for the accessory/outfit sets.The only problem I had with our Lottie doll was that you can't really do her hair. While it is soft and shiny, it can't really be styled. When I braided her hair, her scalp became exposed near her bangs: 

When I tried pigtails, it was even worse, this time on the back of her head:

But a low ponytail did work okay: 

The only other thing I'd change would be to make it possible to buy some of the outfit sets that come with Lottie dolls. For example, I would've wanted the ballerina doll with dark hair and blue eyes like me, but I also would've wanted the pirate outfit. Actually it would be really fun to buy a bunch of Lottie dolls and a bunch of pirate outfits and then have a whole pirate crew!
Here are a few of the other Lottie dolls I love: 
And Snow Queen Lottie, which I predict will be one of the hottest toys for Christmas 2014 due partially to the popularity of another ice princess who recently graced the silver screens...

Knees bend
Well-made clothes
Reasonably priced
Soft shiny hair

Can't do hair
Can't order all outfits

The bottom line
A wonderful little doll that parents, grandparents and others can feel good about gifting girls this holiday season. 

Get it
You can buy Lottie dolls for $19.95 and the raspberry ripple outfit for $9.95 at time of posting this review. 

I received a free doll and outfit for review purposes but received no other compensation for this post. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Time children's book review

What it is
Pumpkin Time is a book for kids about a girl who ignores distractions all summer and fall to achieve her goal of growing and harvesting pumpkins. 

Who wrote it
Erzsi Deak

Our experience
My sons seemed to really like the story and illustrations, and especially all the silly things all the other animals were doing. I really liked how it encouraged holiday tradition and shared info about the pumpkin life cycle. The only thing that I didn't love was that on each page, rather than saying what she was doing, it asks "What was {name} doing?" but my preschooler wasn't always able to explain without help what she was doing. It might have been nice to have an explanation on the next page, or have an explanatory page at the back that identifies what she was doing on each page and why that task is necessary for a farmer.

  • Whimsical
  • Lots of info on pumpkin life cycle

  • Wasn't always clear to preschooler what she was doing

The bottom line
A cute fall book that's definitely worth getting if you're looking for seasonal reads for toddlers and preschoolers!

Get it

You can order Pumpkin Time on Amazon for $11.63 at time of posting this review.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes but received no other compensation for this post.

Why I love Hobo Mama and you should too!

Hobo Mama has been one of my favorite bloggers for several years, and in celebration of her being due this month with her third baby, I thought it'd be fun to tell you about my favorite posts on her blog so you can check them out!

I've always wished I had curly hair or that my hair would at least hold a curl, but no such luck...until I had kids! If it weren't for Hobo Mama's post, I might not have recognized my secretly curly hair or known what to do with it!!

This one is a life-saver. Side-lying nursing is such an essential skill for a successful breastfeeding relationship, but something we rarely see, even at a La Leche League meeting. Her great post and clear pictures make this a must-read for nursing moms and moms-to-be!

I've shared this with friends and in groups because it's just an awesome explanation of how to sew a mei tai along with clear pictures. Definitely the place to start if you want to sew a mei tai!

Are you a Hobo Mama fan too? What's your favorite post on her blog?!?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why crunchyish moms should register on Amazon!

Creating a baby registry can be frustrating when many of the products you're interested in can't be bought in big box stores. Target seems to be the most common place to register for my friends & relatives (and where we registered in the past), but the options for carriers and cloth diapers and other things I love are so limited, it's difficult (if not impossible) to register for the things many families really want and need for their babies!

My solution? Register on Amazon! That's right, mega-site Amazon has the option to create baby registries to share with friends and relatives, and besides the amazing selection of Amazon itself, their baby registry program also features the ability to add items from any website! 

So, here are my top reasons crunchyish moms should create their baby registries on Amazon:

Easy to find
Your Aunt Louise may not know where the local cloth diaper store is or how to find the Babywearing Swap on Facebook, but I bet she can find Amazon!

Cloth diapers
Amazon has a surprisingly wide selection of cloth diapers. Whether you're looking for Pocket diapers, prefolds, covers, aio, hybrid, cloth wipes, sprayers, a spray pal, wet bags, pail liners, or cloth safe detergent, Amazon probably has it.

Pretty nursing bras and tanks
No story local to me even carries nursing bras in my size, let alone pretty ones. Amazon carries nursing bras from brands like HotMILK and Cake that are seriously gorgeous and come in a much wider range of sizes than anything available at the big box stores. 

Completion discount
All parents with an Amazon registry receive a 10% off discount for any registry items that aren't bought by 30 days before their baby's due date! 

Baby carriers
Amazon has a wide variety of high quality baby carriers, from soft structured carriers like Boba (my favorite) and Ergo and mei tais like the budget friendly  infantino mei tai to stretchy wraps from Boba and Moby and woven wraps from Ellevill, Didymos and more!

Natural bath/hygiene products
While some big box stores are beginning to stock more natural bath and hygiene products, it's still difficult to find a wide selection. Amazon has great toiletries for mom and baby, from brands like Earth Mama Angel Baby to baby gentle castile soap, natural deodorants, and even mama cloth!

I loooove Babylegs, and I love that you can find them on Amazon! I tend to buy lots of them straight from Babylegs for whoever I know who is pregnant at the time and save them for the baby showers. But if you love them *slightly* less and want to just get a pair or two, Amazon is a great way to go. 

Free shipping
Like all things on Amazon, baby registry items feature free shipping for prime members on prime eligible items and for all shoppers purchasing $35 or more in eligible items at one time (in my experience most, but not all, items directly from Amazon are eligible and it's usually items from other sites that are not eligible for free shipping)

Amazon giftcards
Indecisive friends and relatives can easily buy Amazon giftcards, which you can hoard to build up your stash of wraps or cloth diapers, buy a big ticket item like a carseat or changing table, or use on things you run out of often like coconut oil and soap!

Natural toys
From natural rubber teethers like Sophie the giraffe to wooden baby toys, Amazon has tons of toys that can't easily be found in big box stores!

Extended returns
There is a 90 day return period for Amazon baby store items purchased through your registry, which is awesome because no one wants to feel rushed to return stuff when they have a newborn to snuggle instead!

Support your favorite bloggers without spending any extra money
If you create an Amazon baby registry through an affiliate link like this one (or any of the others on my site or other participating blogs), that blogger will get a small bonus from Amazon (which doesn't affect how much you pay)! I have a few favorite bloggers who I know participate in the Amazon Associates program, and I often try to use Amazon links from their site when I see them advertising things I want, to show how much I love their blog!

Have you created or shopped from an Amazon baby registry? What did you think? 

I did not receive any compensation for this post. If you purchase something or create an Amazon registry through an affiliate link though, there is no cost to you but I get a teeny bit of Amazon's profits!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Monsterator Children's Book Review

What it is
The Monsterator is a picture book about Master Edgar Dreadbury who finds Halloween dreadfully boring...until a mysterious shop appears out of nowhere with a Monsterator inside. The book also includes a unique monster making feature at the end of the story. 

Who wrote it
The Monsterator is written by Keith Graves. It is published by Roaring Brook Press.

Our impression
My sons both seemed to like the pictures and my 5 year old liked the story too. Most of all though my preschooler totally loved the monster maker. There are pages divided into four segments, so you flip until you get the heads, tummies, hips and legs you want to create your own silly monster. My son said his favorite part was the spooky pictures, and if he could change one thing, he'd make the flaps lay flatter. So perhaps a tiny pocket along the edge to the page with Edgar on it so that kids could tuck the flaps into would make the book more appealing to younger readers. My husband and I also felt there was a lack of world building and character development. Why is Edgar bored with Halloween (this seems difficult for a kid to relate to without providing some explanation)? Is he a kid, and if so where are his parents, and if not, why is he so much shorter than his maid? Where did the shop come from? Where did it go? The lack of answers to these questions did not bother my son one bit, but they did leave my husband and I wishing they had put more of that sort of background information into the story.

Spooky monstrous fun without being too scary

Lack of world building

The bottom line
A fun book for kids who like monsters anytime, but especially for Halloween!

Get it

You can buy The Monsterator for $11.37 on Amazon at time of posting this review. 

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes but received no other compensation for this review.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Babywearing Workout October 2014 Challenge Starts Today!!!

Have you heard of The Babywearing Workout? I totally love it (you can read my full review here) and one of my favorite things about it is not the workout itself but the creator, Kelli Stewart. She really goes above and beyond to try to motivate people to really achieve success in reaching their health goals, and one of the many tools she uses to do that is "challenges"--basically, during the next month, people who choose to participate in the challenge agree to workout 5+ times each week, with 3 of those workouts being The Babywearing Workout. And there are prizes! While anyone can enter, challenge participants get way more entries. There's also a support group on Facebook where moms can chat and encourage each other and help provide accountability to participants for whom that'd be helpful. 

Anyway, there's a new challenge starting today!! This month, the challenge prizes are all about pampering mom with goodies that look great at any weight: Jamberry Nails and 31 Bags! I haven't personally tried 31 Bags, but I have tried Jamberry Nails and totally love them. Here's a pic of my nails with a jamberry accent nail on: 
And then a couple days later: 

All the other nails are terribly chipped, but the jamberry nail wrap still looks perfect!

To find out more about The Babywearing Workout in general and this challenge in particular, check out. Kelli's site here

I received no compensation for this post. I just really love the Babywearing Workout! I wouldn't complain if Kelli decided to add "blog about it" as a way to get more rafflecopter entries for future giveaways though ;)
Links to purchase The Babywearing Workout are affiliate links, and while your price remains the same, I get a tiny bit of Amazon's profits! Thanks!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Time for a Bath children's book review

What it is

Time for a Bath is a picture book about an adorable little bunny who gets into all sorts of messy fun and then takes baths. 

Who wrote it
Phillis Gershator, a former librarian turned children's book author who now has dozens of lovely stories under her belt. I'm so glad she made the leap!

Time for a Bath is illustrated by David Walker, a former Hallmark artist and is published by Sterling Books (besides their website, you can also keep up on the latest from Sterling on Twitter and Instagram.)

Our thoughts
The first time I read this book, my toddler actually applauded! Both of my sons (1.5 and 5) liked this book a lot. My preschooler said his favorite part was all the messy fun the little bunny got into. My toddler seemed to like the bath scenes best and pretended to splash. (Guess which of my kids hated baths for years and which thinks they're the greatest thing in the world?)


Not waterproof

The bottom line
An adorable book for toddlers and preschoolers, especially those who love baths...or need to love them more. 

Get it

You can buy Time for a Bath on a Amazon for $8.96 at time of posting this review.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes but received no other compensation for this post.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Best places to use a baby carrier in October

Just for fun, I thought I'd share my favorite places to use a baby carrier during October! Let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites, including ideas I forgot to include!

An International Babywearing Week event!
October 4th-11th (this coming week!) is International Babywearing Week and BWI chapters and unaffiliated Babywearing groups across the globe will be planning special events. Check the BWI site or this list of babywearing groups on the Wrap Your Baby site to get started looking for a group near you! 

Anywhere with beautiful leaves

Tromping through a state park, nearby forest, or even your neighborhood can be so fun in fall when he leaves are colorful and falling. My preschooler and I especially love the crunch of a pile of dry leaves under our feet!

While raking
Putting your little one in a carrier is a great way to get your yard work done while snuggling! Just be cautious of the handle!!

Coffee shop
I recommend back carries for safety while drinking pumpkin spice lattes and caramel apple cider. Pumpkin creme frappucino is a safer choice for front carries, but don't be surprised if someone small wants to share!!

Pumpkin patches and apple orchards 
Whether your going as a family, with friends, or chaperoning your kindergartners field trip, babywearing can help keep your little one(s) snuggly and warm while you have fun on the farm and corral older siblings!

Family pictures
October is a popular time to take pictures for Christmas card pics. Wouldn't a picture of snuggles in your favorite wrap be a sweet addition?

A fall festival
If your town has a fall festival, using a baby carrier can be a much easier way to navigate the crowds and check out your favorite booths!

As October draws to a close, babywearing while trick-or-treating obviously makes a lot of sense, especially if you also have older children that your babies and/or toddlers can't quite keep up with for the whole night. You can also consider making your baby carrier part of your costume! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dino Farm Book Review

What it is
Dinosaur Farm is a picture book about life on a farm...full of dinosaurs!

Who wrote it
Frann Preston-Gannon, an up & coming British illustrator of adorable picture books and winner of the Sendak Fellowship. She blogs and shares news of upcoming books and tweets as @FrannPG. You can also connect with her on Facebook .

Dinosaur Farm is published by Sterling Books who tweet as @SterlingBooks and are on Instagram as @SterlingBooks. 

Our thoughts
My sons and I really enjoyed this book, both the illustrations and story. It reminded me a little of the Goofy shorts (that I love) where the narrator sounds like he's doing a serious instructional video, but Goofy is totally botching it. In similarly subtle humor (but minus the Goofy slapstick), the text of Dinosaur Farm, with lines like "Sometimes your animals will get very dirty and they will need a good scrub." could be describing any ordinary farm,
but instead of pigs and cattle and chicken, the illustrations feature colorful dinosaurs being cared for by the farmer. 

Both my 1.5 and 5 year old have brought this book to me to read many times since we bought it. It's funny and cute without being overly complicated.
Personally I especially love the colors and textures she chose for the illustrations. It makes me wish there was Dinosaur Farm fabric so I could sew a cozy fall quilt for my sons full of greens and browns and blues and occasional pops of red. 

  • Cute
  • Funny

  • No fabric line (yet) (hint hint, Frann!)

The bottom line
Dinosaur Farm is an eye-catching, humorous book bound to appeal to all dinosaur lovers under 6 or so. 

Get it

You can buy Dinosaur Farm on Amazon for $10.68 at time of posting this review

Thank you to Sterling Books for providing a review copy of this book. I received no other compensation for this post. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

40 Days For Life

This Thursday, September 24th, 2014 kicks off "40 Days for Life", a time for the pro-life community to come together and make a concerted effort to decrease abortion. (As a side note, this campaign is about ending abortion through cultural shift and not about outlawing abortion through force of law. You do not have to advocate for banning or criminalizing abortion or to identify as pro-life to wish for the practice to end and/or dramatically decrease, and to take actions to make that more likely. All people who hope to see a decrease in abortion are welcome to participate in 40 days for life!)

Many cities have local movements planning their 40 Days for Life activities, and you can find out if your city is one of them on the 40 Days for Life website. 

One of the things I love about this movement is the guidelines for participants; they make it very clear that everyone participating is to be peaceful and loving. The goal is not to antagonize Planned Parenthood's employees, patients, supporters, or anyone else who is pro-choice and/or pro-abortion. The goal is to use our time and talents to encourage and uplift, to educate and attempt to create a culture if life, in hopes that truth and love will triumph over death. 

You catch more flies with honey, and love will save more babies than shame. I think we can make a big positive difference in the world over the next 40 days, and I hope you'll consider joining me. 

There are three main ways the campaign suggests interested people get involved:

Prayer and Fasting
Pray for expecting mothers and fathers and for their unborn children. Pray for people who work in medical fields directly and indirectly involved in performing abortions. Pray for pro-abortion activists. God changing hearts and minds is a powerful way to end abortion!

Community Outreach
Volunteer with a crisis pregnancy center near you. Help raise donations for the local shelter for battered women and children. Look for concrete ways to reach out to families in crisis. 
If you are active online, you can also look for ways to reach out to your online community. Even something as simple as tweeting something positive about pregnancy and babies or sharing a Facebook post about a diaper bank that helps families who struggle to afford them on their own can help. 

Peaceful Vigils
There will be peaceful vigils outside Planned Parenthoods across the nation. If you participate in this way, it becomes all the more important to review the guidelines for lovingly praying on public land outside PP and to follow them. For example, the 40 Days for Life website clearly recommends that anyone participating "avoids shouting, confrontation with patients and employees, and the use of graphic abortion images. " and instead show love and mercy. Praying silently or holding a sign with a positive message like "God loves you" will be more loving and more effective than being hateful towards people. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY carrier infographic!

I'm in some DIY Babywearing groups on Facebook and other sites and noticed many people have the same basic questions when they are first starting out with making their own baby carriers. I thought this infographic might help answer some of those common questions!

Safety note: please keep in mind though that the carriers that are easiest to make aren't always the easiest to use safely (no sew athletic mesh for example requires no sewing but can be extremely tricky to use safely), and the carriers easiest to use aren't necessarily easy to make (soft-structured carriers with buckles for example are some of the most beginner friendly carriers but are fairly advanced sewing). Always use caution with baby carriers and do lots of research and practice with dolls or stuffed animals before trusting your child's life to a carrier, and remember that's exactly the risk you are taking every time you use a carrier, whether it is handmade or otherwise. It's totally possible and worth it to sew adorable, sturdy, comfortable carriers at home for personal use, but it does take knowledge, skill, and diligence to make sure you're doing it in a way that will ensure safety for your child!

Anyway, feel free to share anywhere you like, but please link it back to this blog if you can, and do not remove the part with my URL! Thanks!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Little Pony Magic of Friendship App Review

As a long time My Little Pony fan (I still have many of my first generation ponies from the 80's!), I was thrilled when Playdate Digital offered me a chance to review a new MLP app. Even better? They're letting me share the sparkly fun with my readers, with 5 download codes to try this app for free!! Enter through the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. 

What it is
Magic of Friendship is a fun app about friendship starring the ponies and friends of the My Little Pony universe! 

Who made it
Playdate Digital, a great digital company that works with Hasbro to produce apps starring kids' favorite licensed characters. 

Our experience
I am a huge My Little Pony fan, and my niece who is 3 is carrying on the family tradition. She just became a big sister, so I thought it'd be a fun surprise for her. And she loves it. It's kept her busy and happy and calm while her mom is nursing her brand new baby brother and made her feel big and special. She's a huge MLP fan and was overall thrilled about it. This was her favorite part:

Easy to use
Good message

Not free (unless you win it!!!)

The bottom line
If you have kids who like My Little Pony, they will probably love this app!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dear Richard Dawkins: People with Down syndrome make the world a better place

The internet is abuzz with news that Richard Dawkins tweeted suggesting that it is immoral to *not* abort a baby with Down syndrome if given the opportunity to do so:

While some of his fans did approve of and agree with his view, many Twitter users did not, and people of all sorts let him know, including Sarah Palin.

He later updated his status to the more mild:
and offered a half-hearted apology where he elaborates on his view, including this gem: 

I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.

He then reduces opposition to his view to: 

1)people who are pro-life in general
2)people who think he was denying women choice in his view
3)people who think he was promoting mob rule by mentioning that the majority of women do abort if given a prenatal diagnosis of DS
4)people opposed to eugenics, which he points out is a fallacy as DS is not an inherited condition in almost all cases
5)people who love someone with DS and are letting sentimentality rather than logic guide their position

A few of these categorizations seem astute observations. People who are truly pro-life would be opposed to his view even if it was possible to prove without a doubt that people with DS suffer and have no worth or lesser worth than other human beings. People who are truly moral relativists would believe that it is impossible to make a blanket statement about the morality of abortion of babies with DS and that it must instead be an individual decision every single time. And I'd assume that most people would think "everyone is doing it" bears very little weight on whether an action is or is not morally correct. He's also right that eugenics cannot do much about the rate of DS; killing every single person in existence with would basically have no effect on the number of people with DS born in the next generation. 
As for the last category, I have to disagree with Mr. Dawkins on the issue of love vs. logic. While logic is important, so is love. And I think most humans do believe in love, in following our hearts, even when it's illogical. His argument might fly on Vulcan, but not here. 

But most importantly, Dawkins forgot the category that comprises the largest number of people I've seen opposing his view: people who believe people with Down syndrome have equal value to all other human beings; that they can lead healthy, happy, productive lives and leave the world a better place than had they not been in it. That they can increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering in the world by being in it. 

And I believe the research backs up this view. For one thing, while people with Down syndrome experience the full range of human emotion, they almost unanimously report being happy overall with their lives (99%) and who they are (97%). In that same study, siblings of people with Down syndrome overwhelmingly (88%) report believing that their sibling with DS has made them a better person, and studies like this one investigating whether there are lasting negative effect for these siblings have found none. Yet another found that divorce rates (47%) are much lower among couples with children with DS. So who's increasing joy and who is causing suffering here Mr. Dawkins?!?

Many people with Down syndrome also make a big impact on our society as a whole. For example Lauren Potter, who plays Becky on Glee, has over 95k twitter followers, because she brings joy to her fans as a talented actress with great comedic timing (something many people with 46 chromosomes lack!) There are people with Down syndrome working as actors, models, restauranteurs, and many other jobs that improve the lives of the general public. 

So here's your daily dose of joy: 

As for the reducing suffering part? Maybe we should start with not antagonizing people who have medical conditions we don't understand, but instead look for ways to uplift them so they can do the same for us. People with disabilities can make great contributions to the world if we give them the chance. And that's not illogical or immoral, no matter what Richard Dawkins thinks. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cloth diapering a baby or toddler with Down syndrome

I recently heard that some physical therapists have cautioned mothers of babies with Down syndrome against using cloth diapers out of concern that bulky diapers could hinder gross motor skill development. While their concern is genuine and worth taking into consideration, a blanket ban just seemed like overkill to me. So I dug a little deeper, and after talking to some friends who are physical therapists and some fellow cloth diapering moms of little ones with Down syndrome, including Heather from Cloth Diaper Outlet, here's what I think seems like the most sensible approach to using cloth diapers with babies and toddlers with Down syndrome. 

my son in an adorable Wolbybug pocket diaper from Cloth Diaper Outlet

Why cloth is great for kids with DS
Modern cloth diapers are so convenient and so cute that they're rapidly gaining in popularity among all parents. Just like any family, families with a baby with Down syndrome may be attracted to cost savings, reduced environmental impact, not *having* to shop for diapers as often, and how adorable they are!
Additionally, babies with Down syndrome often have thinner skin than typical babies, so parents may find that babies who have sensitive skin and get rashes from disposable diapers have much healthier skin when they use cloth diapers! Our son with Down syndrome has definitely seen a dramatic decrease in diaper rash since switching to cloth diapers. 
Momma Jorje's son as a baby in pre-folds. So cute!!

Primary concerns
The biggest concern cited by physical therapists and parents is that excess bulk will exacerbate the tendency to splay hips too widely and could hinder gross motor skill development. As far as I know, there is no research into whether this is a valid concern or not; perhaps it'd be a good topic for future studies in the physical therapy field. 

What works
The easiest solution seems to be to make sure your diapers are relatively trim! There are several ways to search for cloth diapers that will not be excessively bulky.  Heather suggested that pocket diapers with a hemp insert are the very trimmest option, but sometimes not quite absorbent enough.  Next up would be a trim AIO (all-in-one)-Heather's favorite is Simplex and is what she uses about 50% of the time on both her babies. She also loves simple prefolds and covers and recommends the "premium short" prefolds from Cloth Diaper Outlet. They are made the same length as the cover, so you just fold in thirds, lay in cover, and are good to go! Heather said you can also fold them even skinnier so they are more trim--they won't be quite as trim as a disposable, but much more trim than a standard prefold.

I also checked in with several other mamas of cloth diapered little ones with Down syndrome to find out their favorites:
Jorje from Momma Jorje used prefolds and covers and elimination communication with her son who has Down syndrome. 
Drea from the Maiden Metallurgist reports that her favorite diapers for her year old with Down syndrome have been fitteds and wool. 
Lisa, another mom of an adorable toddler with DS who also sells cloth diapers says her favorite trim diapers are a Smart Bottoms and Tidy Tots brands (side note: Tidy Tots are manufactured in the US at a company that employs people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. So your baby with Down syndrome could be wearing a diaper sewed by an adult with Down syndrome!)
At 18 months old, my son is currently in a mixture of pocket and hybrid diapers and they all seem to fit fairly well without being excessively bulky.

The general advice is to try several different brands when you are first starting with cloth diapering so you can figure out which work best for you without a huge investment in any one brand, and I think that's all the more true when you're dealing with the challenges presented by special needs. I think it's also worth noting that there is a wide range of available sizes of cloth diapers, including diapers that fit babies as small as 4 lbs and up to 50lbs and beyond (through adult sizes). One brand with this wide range of sizes is Snap-EZ (which is run by a super sweet mom of 13, including two preschoolers with Down syndrome!!) I love that this broad size range means even preemies and very small newborns, and kids who are in diapers later than many of their same-age peers can find options that work for them.

Drea from the Maiden Metallurgist's son as a newborn in a woolie! Ovaries aching yet?!?

One other option is to pair cloth diapers with Hip Helpers. These special compression shorts are designed to help kids with special needs keep their hips from splaying too widely. If you have a physical therapist who objects to cloth diapers on these grounds, using hip helpers some of the time may be an acceptable compromise for both of you. 

So can you use cloth diapers on babies and toddlers with Down syndrome? My answer is a resounding "yes!" in almost all cases! It sure works well for us!

Interested in natural parenting for a little one with Down syndrome? Check out my other posts on Babywearing and Down syndrome and Gentle Parenting through Blood Draws!

*I am not a doctor, physical therapist, or any other type of health professional and I've never met your child. Please consult with your child's care team to adapt or even completely ignore my suggestions based on your individual child's needs and the advice of your care team. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How I used the Internet to make local friends: August Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.

There are so many moms who seem nice and like they think the same of me but don't seem actually interested in being my friend.  I've met them at the park. The library. Church. It's always the same; our friends play for a few minutes or an hour while we chat energetically, but then we leave without exchanging any contact information. Nothing more comes of it. Or maybe I see them again, and the same thing happens at another event or location.

But finally I've found a group of friends and friendly acquaintances. The last time I saw a mom with a baby in a ring sling at the grocery store and jokingly thought "hey, we should be friends!", it turned out we already are!
And when I enter cloth diaper or baby carrier giveaways that ask you to tag a friend, I now have actual people in my same city to tag that use cloth diapers and wraps too. Sometimes they even tag me first!

So where did I find "my tribe"? Online! My expanding group of friends is thanks to a Facebook group for families in our city interested in natural parenting. We discuss natural parenting topics in the group and have met at the park a few times. The first time I only knew one other mom, but as summer has worn on, I now have several new friends who share many of our parenting values and much of our parenting style. Some of them I can tell will probably stay casual friends, some friendly acquaintances, but a couple seem like they have a pretty decent chance to end up being real, lasting, deep friendships!

And chances are your city has similar groups that you can join to connect with like minded moms too! Look for natural parenting, babywearing, cloth diapering, and other such topical groups for your city or broader geographical area. Even if a group seems focused on something fairly specific, the friends you meet will surely be interested in talking about more than just that specific topic if they meet with you at the park. 

Making new mom friends can be tough, but the Information Age can make it easier. If you're having trouble finding local moms like you, try finding them online and then meeting in real life rather than just vise versa.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in 'real life' and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer's daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlor y learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship - Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present's thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama's goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she's done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it's a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat's friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn't the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.