Monday, December 26, 2011

Pregnancy Safe Cocktails for the Holiday

So, you're pregnant, New Year's Eve is fast approaching, and the thought of having another glass of water or soda while those around you are enjoying delicious elixers is enough to make you just want to stay at home. Don't despair! There really are lots of alternatives that will make you feel like you're still part of the party.


First, there are several varieties of sparkling juices available these days that are wonderful and, best of all, very affordable. Of course, we're familiar with sparkling apple cider and sparkling grape juice. Did you know you can also find sparkling pear and sparkling blueberry juices, too? The pear is really dreamy and the blueberry is my particular favorite. Think of all the wonderful antioxidants you'll be getting with that blueberry juice, too! Many of these can be found right in your local supermarket and generally for less than $5/bottle. That's a super deal for something that tastes so delicious!


Second, you can make your own beverages. It's as easy as mixing your favorite juice with a clear carbonated soda (7-Up or Sprite work well) or with soda water. I suggest using a frozen juice concentrate for this and just replacing the water you would normally mix with it with your carbonated beverage of choice. If you use juice that is already made up, mixing it with soda water or soda can tend to water down the juice and you'll lose the real flavor of the juice.


Third, if you're out at a restaurant and want a cocktail but don't want to order yet another virgin daquiri, tell your server/bartender what flavors you normally like and ask to have something non-alcoholic specially made for you. I got a great drink this way while I was pregnant with my second child. It was a combination of grapefruit juice, cranberry juice and soda water. It was delightful and I don't even like grapefruit juice! The key here is finding a bartender that really is experienced and creative.


And, don't forget good old gingerale. This is an often overlooked soda that is a real treat. We think of it mainly as something to calm an upset stomach but it really is a remarkably yummy soda.


Finally, and we think most importantly, don't let your inability to imbibe keep you from getting out there and celebrating with friends and family. There are lots of options and don't be afraid to bring your own beverage. We're sure no one will give it a second thought if you show up with a bottle of your favorite sparkling cider to enjoy. Whatever you choose this holiday season, though, we hope that your celebrations are full of joy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Spice Body Scrub

No doubt about it, the holidays are one of the most stressful time of year. And, as women so often do, we spend a lot of time making sure everything is "just so" for everyone else but ourselves and that invariably leaves us burnt out by the end of December.  This year reclaim your holiday sanity with a little something special.  This yummy body scrub is easy to make (and I mean EA-SY!) and might just make you linger in the bath or shower for a few extra relaxing minutes!  It makes a wonderful gift, too! Just package it in a small jar, wrap some raffia or ribbon around it and you're done! 

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
Directions:
Mix all of the ingredients well.  Massage scrub over your body and rinse with warm water.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easy DIY Pumpkin Facial

Halloween may be over but Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that, of course, means pumpkin pie. Since I'm the pie maker in the family, I'm usually busy in the days just prior to the holiday, but this year I've got a new recipe to share and it won't be going on the table!

If putting pumpkin on your face seems like a crazy idea, think again. Fruit enzymes and Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA's) that are found in pumpkins help to increase the skin cells' natural turnover rate.  As an added benefit, they also help to remove dead skin cells on the surface.  The lactic acid from the cream in this facial will also help to to do that, and the honey will help your skin retain its moisture.  The end result? Soft, smooth new skin cells on the surface to give you a beautiful fall glow! 

So, whether you're making your own pies this year or not, head over to the store and pick up some pumpkin and whipping cream.  The pies won't be the only sweet treat at the table this year!
Hydrating Pumpkin Facial
2 tsp canned pureed pumpkin
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp heavy whipping cream

Mix all ingredients and apply to face. Leave on for 10 min and rinse!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creamy Cheese & Vegetable Soup

I love soup and especially creamy ones!  When the weather gets colder and there's a chill in the air, there's nothing nicer than curling up with a steaming cup of yum.  This recipe is great for anyone but we think it's especially great for pregnant moms.  It's a great way for mommas to get their calcium and a good dose of veggies, too!  But, really, we all need those, right?  So, pregnant or not, enjoy this delicious treat! 
 

Creamy Cheese and Vegetable Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
2 cups any mixture of lightly steamed veggies (try chopped cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, etc)
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded 
ground peppercorn to taste 

In a large saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and salt. Stir for 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the parsley, onion flakes and vegetables. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then immediately lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Melt in the cheddar cheese. Add peppercorn and serve steaming hot.

Makes 2 large servings or 4 small servings


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ah-Choo! Tips for Staying Healthy This Season

The season's have definitely been changing. Fall has set in with it's chillier mornings, cool winds and rain showers. But, it's not just fall and the upcoming winter season that we're all experiencing. We've also moved into cold and flu season.


Whether you're one that believes in the value of a flu shot this year or not, getting sick when you're pregnant is no fun. Not only do you feel miserable, you're limited as to what medications you can take and your baby could be at risk, too.


To help you stay healthy this season, here are some simple tips that you can put into practice right away.


1. Wash your hands! Frequent hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs. Pick up a travel size container of hand sanitizer to keep in your purse, diaper bag, or in the car, too. In the event that soap and water isn't available, you'll still be able to keep germ free!


2. Quit touching your face! You'd really be surprised how many times you touch your face each day. Since viruses have to enter your system through your mouth or nose, touching your face is an easy way to accidentally introduce them to your system. Unless you're eating or bathing, try to stick with a hands-off approach throughout the day.


3. Gargle with salt water. This is a simple and inexpensive yet very powerful preventive method. After initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity, viruses typically take a couple days to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling twice a day can prevent this.


4. Cleanse your sinuses daily. This is the same concept as the gargling tip above but needs only to be done once a day. You can use a simple saline spray found at most drugstores or use a neti pot. If the thought of water up your nose is something you can't bear, simply blow your nose hard once a day and follow it up by swabbing both nostrils with a cotton swab dipped in warm salt water.


5. Get plenty of vitamin C. During fall and winter, it's easy to fall short of adequate vitamin C levels. Pick up some oranges or grapefruit at the store to boost your daily intake. Check with your doctor/pharmacist to determine if taking a vitamin C supplement is right for you, too. They come in a variety of forms from tablets to powders that can easily be added to tea or water.


6. Drink plenty of warm liquids. Just as gargling prevents proliferation of viruses in your throat, so does drinking warm liquids such as tea, coffee, broth, etc. The warm liquids wash proliferating viruses away and into the stomach where they cannot survive or do harm. Plus, it's a good excuse to take a few minutes for yourself while you sip away!


7. Get some sleep! Sleep is so critical to our health but an area that we often overlook. Be sure you're getting plenty so that your body is well rested and healthy.


8. Eat a healthy diet. We're all busy but steer clear of processed foods that provide little to no nutritional value. Keep healthy snacks such as dried fruits and whole grain crackers nearby and be sure to eat plenty of veggies, too.


9. Hydrate! Just because it's not 90 degrees outside doesn't mean that you don't have to keep properly hydrated. Continue to keep that water bottle close at hand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stretch Marks - A Dermatologist's Advice

I'm basically covered in freckles, so going to the dermatologist for an annual check to make sure there's nothing there that I should be worried about is not unusual. My doctor is great and she's got her special little hand held magnifying glass thing that she uses to check all over and look at individual spots that interest her. Like I said, I'm covered in freckles so the whole process takes awhile, which leaves us plenty of time to chat. As the conversation came around to em at one visit, I asked her three rather pointed questions.

The first question was, "Is there any way at all to prevent stretch marks?" Her response was a resounding, "no," which I already knew. Unfortunately, though, there are many products available in stores everywhere that claim to prevent stretch marks; and these companies, I'm sure, make thousands upon thousands of dollars each year cashing in on that promise. However, it's simply not a promise that they can keep.

To understand this a bit more clearly, though, you have to understand our skin. By nature, it's basically elastic like a rubberband. A new rubberband will stretch and spring back to its original shape without problems. However, skin loses it's elasticity in a number of ways, whether that be due to dry skin or age or any other number of reasons. Think of the rubberband again. If it's an older one, it may be dry with visible cracks in its surface and, if you try to stretch it, it will likely break. When the skin has lost it's elasticity and is then asked to rapidly expand due to weight gain, swelling, or, of course, pregnancy, the tissue under the skin can be pulled beyond it's ability to stretch. The result is scarring that we can see and call stretch marks.

So, if you already have them, is there any way to get rid of stretch marks? I asked that very question of my doctor. "Is there any way, any way at all, to 'erase' them or make them go away after a person gets them?" I asked. Once again, I knew the answer even before I asked, but I let her answer anyway. Another resounding, "no." And, again, it's a shame that there are products and services out there claiming to remove them. The truth is, they may fade over time just like any other scar might, but they won't ever go away completely. And, as far as the claims of removing them by laser, those aren't true, either. The laser therapy only reduces the appearance of them by reducing their color.

At this point, you may be thinking, "Great, well, I might as well just sit back and watch them appear since there's nothing I can do." Not so! This brings me to the third question I asked of my dermatologist..."Is there anything that a woman can do in the quest for a stretch mark-free pregnancy?" Although it is important to understand that your genes have a lot to do with whether you're body is predisposed to developing stretchmarks, you do have the power to minimize your chances of getting them. Like I said before, our skin is, by nature, elastic. The key to minimizing your chances of stretchmarks lies in maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Proper hydration from the inside and out is vitally important. Make sure you are getting plenty of fluids each day and make sure you're keeping your skin hydrated, too. Using a product like our body oil or body balm on a daily basis can help your skin regain and maintain the elasticity it will need when your belly begins to bloom. Equally important to remember is to begin this regime before your belly begins to blossom so that, if your skin does need to regain some elasticity, it has time to do so before the stretching begins. Treating yourself to a bellyfacial now and then is a great way to hydrate your skin throughout your pregnancy, too!

I left the dermatologist that day with a clean bill of skin health and a renewed sense that, at em, we're offering women some great products to help them maintain beautiful, glowing skin throughout their pregnancies and beyond. If you still have questions regarding stretch marks, though, be sure to ask your doctor for his/her professional advice.

Fall 2011 Color Trends - Part 4 of 4 (Tribe)

It takes a village to raise a child, right? As our economy has slipped, it's no surprise to see people coming together to help one another more.  It's about a real sense of community; your tribe, so to speak.  So, it's not a surprise, either, that our final color trend pulls from tribal influences.


When I think of "tribal" I think of a variety of things.  The actual color trend is that of deep browns, coppers and bronzes, rich oranges and deep reds.  Texture and pattern plays a large roll, too.  Rich hued natural woods, papers, and fibers all work well.  Personally, when I think of this trend, I imagine a beautiful African tapestry of rich browns, tans and black. Those colors may feel a bit dark for a nursery but consider a creamy off white color with accents of browns, black, and metallics. Tribal masks may seem a bit scary, too, but consider those that are giraffes or zebras.  A shade for the window made of natural materials like bamboo help to the pull the theme together.

If African tribal isn't to your liking, it's okay to stray from the color trend while still keeping a tribal theme. Why not travel to the jungle?  Imagine yourself in the Amazon rain forest; surrounded by the lush deep green canopy and the brightly colored birds and butterflies.  It's okay if you break the rules of reality and include animals that don't really live in the jungle, too, like lions and elephants and giraffes.  Your little Tarzan or Jane will learn the truth soon enough.

 

Monday, October 3, 2011

A belly facial? What the heck is that?

We hear questions like that all the time when people hear us talking about doing a belly facial during pregnancy. You may very well be asking the same thing right now. A belly facial? Yes, a belly facial.


You know what a facial is; it's a beauty treatment for your face. It's designed to cleanse, hydrate, and, in some instances, repair your delicate skin. If you've ever gotten a facial, you also know that the benefits of a facial typically go beyond the physical. The relaxation you experience and the permission that you've given yourself to take the time to nurture and pamper yourself are far reaching.

So, just like a facial for your face, a belly facial is a beauty treatment for your blossoming belly. It's designed to address the very unique skin issues that pregnant women have during pregnancy - dry skin, itchy skin, and... the dreaded stretch marks. And, just like a facial for your face, the physical benefits are just the beginning. Taking a quiet moment to focus just on yourself can do wonders for your mental state.


But what do you need to be able to give yourself a belly facial? Glad you asked. All you need is the bellyfacial™ by em! Available in a simple standard form or as a deluxe kit, we've given you everything you need so you don't have to stand in the beauty products aisle of your local variety store wondering what to pick. You'll also have everything you need for not one but up to three applications so you'll really get your money's worth (number of applications varies depending on the size of your tummy)!


The standard bellyfacial™ is made of our specially formulated facial powder made from coconut milk, honey powder and ground oats. It helps to gently exfoliate your skin while easing that itchy skin that is so common during pregnancy. Just add water and you're ready to go! 

But, if you're a deluxe kind of girl (and we know you are), then our deluxe kit is just for you!  Not only do your get a full size jar of facial powder, you also get our exclusive facial oil.  Combine the two and the bellyfacial™ is truly born. The rich blend of five natural oils will moisturize and hydrate your skin like nothing you've ever experienced before. Applied with the included brush, this belly facial is truly a one of a kind experience.


Typically only offered in upscale spas, experience a belly facial in the luxury of your own home. A belly facial? Yes, a belly facial. A bellyfacial™ by em.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall 2011 Color Trends - Part 3 of 4 (Escape)

If the farm isn't your "happy" space and modern lines feel too rigid to you, find your bliss by escaping to the clouds.  Ethereal wispiness is what this trend is all about and, if you're considering it for your nursery, it can produce beautiful results.


If you're having a girl, pinks - from rosey to pastels - are a definite must.  Imagine a summer sunset with pearlescent clouds and the shimmery last rays of sun.  Beautiful, right?  Translucent butterfly or fairy wings make a great compliment, too!

Baby boys don't have to be left out of this trend, though.  All shades of blue, from pastels to deep navy - can be incorporated for a celestial nursery theme.  Accent with silvery clouds and golden stars and you've got a dreamy spot for baby to slumber!

Finally, when it comes to fabrics, satins and anything with some shimmer will tie in quite nicely.  Anything that makes you, and better yet your baby, feel like you're floating on clouds is perfect!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall 2011 Color Trends - Part 2 of 4 (Order)

Welcome to Part 2 of our short series!  If you read Part 1 already, you know that colors from the farm will be popular this fall.  But, if feeling like you're hanging out on Old MacDonald's farm is not for you, keep reading.  Our next trend couldn't be any more opposite.

Finding balance through order isn't so surprising.  With the busy-ness of our lives these days, decor that offers simplicity and order can be just what the doctor, well, ordered (no pun intended).   How exactly does that translate to nursery decor? 

First, think primary colors.  I did this with my first child's room.  Everything was red, blue, yellow, and white.  Okay, I cheated a bit and added green but they were all very basic colors.  It was a delight to be in that room.  It felt like the promise of a freshly opened 8 crayon box of Crayolas.

If a splash of primary colors still seems a little much for you, try just one but do a monochromatic theme in the room.  Multiple shades of blues, for instance, is beautiful and reminds one of the peacefulness of the ocean or the clear sky in summer.

Still need more simplicity?  Go black and white but add some pops of bright color here and there.  A shock of hot pink in a crib blanket or a splash of orange on a bookcase; it can be the dramatic touch you're looking for without feeling like you're going overboard.

Finally, this trend embraces clean lines and simple shapes.  Whether it's polka dots, stripes, or graphic shapes randomly appearing throughout the room, it all works.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Image of Pregnant Woman "Not Suitable" for Facebook

**WARNING** According to Facebook, the image and accompanying verbiage you will encounter in this blog are "not suitable to appear on Facebook" in part because they received "negative user feedback concerning the ad's content."

Normally, I try to start my blogs with a reasonable opening.  Today I can't find one.  I've been pregnant three times and have worked in the maternity industry for five years.  To me, pregnancy is a joyful, beautiful time.  One of the reasons I've loved this industry so much is because it isn't filled with people who are angry or spiteful or nasty.  Babies put people in a good mood and that's a very good thing.

That's not to say, though, that I haven't seen controversy spring up.  From an online standpoint, controversy generally springs up in the form of written arguments for or against a particular topic such as vaccinations.  The only controversy I've ever seen that relates to images has been in the case of photos of women breastfeeding.  Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that, but I do understand why some of the photos I've seen would make some people uncomfortable.

Fast forward to what I was greeted with in my inbox this morning.  An email from the Facebook Ads Team (who, conveniently, leave no way of contacting them back).  Three days ago, I reactivated an ad that I ran two years ago.  Exact same ad.  Same photo; same verbiage; same targeted audience.  Just clicked the button and changed its status from "paused" to "active".  I'll admit, it did seem odd to me that I wasn't getting the level of click throughs on the ad that I did last time.  When I read the email, I was livid.  I've pasted below exactly what they sent me (apologies for the image; I had to blow it up significantly so it was readable here).

So, yeah, can you see why I'm a little hot over this?  The image that they say is "not suitable" shows absolutely no nudity of anything that could be considered a "private part" anywhere in the western world.  It is a profesional image that I purchased the right to use many years back and HAVE used on Facebook before in an ad campaign that then ran for over two weeks.  It's a woman's belly for crying out loud!  How, please tell me, is this photo not suitable or offensive in any way?

As for the content, it states that the ad was disapproved due to "negative user feedback concerning the ad's content".  Huh?  The ad's content is this:
100% natural gifts for new mothers and mothers-to-be. Get exclusive offers by becoming a fan today!
  • women
  • living in the US
  • age 21-40
  • who are in a relationship, are engaged or married
  • who are not already connected with Eternal Maternal
  • who like Isabella Oliver Maternity, Motherhood Maternity, or pregnancy
Again, THIS is improper targeting for an ad that promotes maternity products?  I'm at a loss.

SO, dear readers, if YOU think this is a load of poo like I do, please take a moment to support me.  You can send a little "suggestion" to FB on how they can improve their ads by following this link:  www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=ads_suggestions   The name of the ad is Eternal Maternal.  Let them know that images like this ARE suitable for FB.  Let them know that this content is NOT offensive.  Let them know that a mama bear is not one to mess with!

And, thanks tons to all!  Our readers, followers, retailers and customers are THE BEST!!
THAT received negative user feedback?  The email tells me that, in general, negative feedback is given for "offensive content" or improperly targeted audience.  (1) If someone can explain to me what was offensive about the verbiage, I'd love to hear their argument.  (2) The targeted audience for this ad was:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall 2011 Color Trends - Part 1 of 4 (Farm)

Expecting a baby this fall and wanting to do more than decorate the nursery in traditional pink or blue?  No problem!  At Benjamin Moore's recent ColorPulse 2011 web conference fall trends were discussed and there were some great ones!

The first of the trends in the overall theme of balance that we'll discuss is Farm.  Yes, farm.  It's definitely in response to the economy.  We're all getting back to basics. 

For wall and linen colors, you can go bright or neutral.  If brights are your thing, think of the vibrant orange of carrots and pumpkins, the vivid greens of peas and beans, the deep reds of ripe tomatoes or radishes.  If you're looking for a more neutral tone for walls, look to earthy browns and tans.  When it comes to whites, forget the stark version and go a bit creamier.  And, yellows are light like freshly made butter or new sweet corn. 

Maybe you're more inspired by print or texture.  Black and white cow print will surely add some whimsy this fall.  Textures like burlap, straw, or old boards fit right in with this trend, too.  Not sure how to bring that into a nursery, though?  Try a series of hooks to hang baby's first shoes, special trinkets and coats from.  Start with an old board cut to your desired length, top with a strip of burlap, and finish off with vintage style hooks.  Super simple and loads of charm!

Need some artwork that's a little more personal?  Now's the time to ask Grandma for a special needlepoint or crosstitch piece.  A sampler is a great standby if your not sure of a design or theme for a piece, too.  All those letters and numbers will surely come in handy when baby gets older and is learning the A, B, C's and 1, 2, 3's!

Stay tuned for Parts 2-4.  We promise, if Old MacDonald and his Farm aren't your cup of tea, there will be something else to excite and inspire you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who's Your (Grand)Daddy?

What do you call your grandparents? For myself, it was the traditional Grandma and Grandpa, with the notable exception of my paternal grandmother who was Gram. The only really different name that was ever used by family members of my own was Bobsha (I hope I spelled that correctly). It's the name some of my cousins called their father's mother. She was Polish, and the name means "grandma" in Polish. My own children call my stepdad Papa, but that's as unusual as the monikers get in my immediate family.

However, in a world where we routinely come across more and more unique baby names, the traditional 'Grandma' and 'Grandpa' titles seem to fall a little short. So, just when you thought all you had to choose was a new baby name, there may be the added pressure of figuring out just what the right grandparent names should be, too. Just in time to save you, though, is The New Grandparents Name Book by Lin Wellford. Containing over 700 names for the new grandparents, you'll have fun finding the perfect aliases for your folks and his. You could even wrap up this cute little 5"x5" book and give it as a gift to them to announce your new arrival.
As for the Eternal Maternal Mama, grandparent status is still probably at least five years or more off (fingers crossed!), but I currently am thinking I'd make a great Grammy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Learning to Say No... to Yourself!

One thing I learned long ago - although I'm still not a master at it - is saying "no". I'm a people pleaser by nature so I'm generally the first to volunteer for something only to find myself overwhelmed later on. Even if I'm not volunteering, it seems like someone is always asking if I can help with this or that. In the past, my answer was always "sure, no problem!".

After having children, though, I realized that saying no to requests that are outside my time constraints is not a bad thing. My family, after all, was my first priority. It was difficult at first but I quickly realized that there weren't too many people that were irritated by my saying no. It seems I wasn't, despite my thinking, the only person that could do the job! So, lesson number one - you don't have to do everything; it's OK to say no. People will understand; really they will!

Lesson number wo came along within another year or two. Maybe I should rephrase that...another child or two later. While I was busy saying no to those activities and events that I just couldn't fit into our busy schedule, I had still managed to fill up all that time with doing things for other people - my husband, my kids, my parents, etc. What I learned then was that it's OK to say no to them, too.

We moms take on a lot of work, and I do mean A LOT! The trouble is, what we end up doing is running ourselves to the ragged edge. We skip meals; we stay up late working on the costume for the school play; we still are trying to do it all. Is it any wonder that, when you ask a mom what she likes to do in her spare time, she usually replies, "What spare time?" What we really need is to just take a break now and then. Determine to take some time to do something you enjoy. It can be 15 minutes or an hour or even more. Set a timer and sit down with a magazine or book you've been meaning to read. Let the laundry sit for an hour and go take a bath. Better yet, if you can, escape the house and go somewhere you love - the bookstore, the mall (you don't have to buy anything), the local coffee shop. Trust me, the small amount of time you take for yourself will energize you more than you can imagine. Your mind will be clearer and you'll feel ready to tackle what comes your way.

Lesson three is something I learned just a couple of years ago when I was experiencing a terrible cold.  Saying no to myself. When we're sick, it's like self-imposed down time. As a mom, though, it's hard to accept that. I knew I was sick. My head felt like a giant beach ball, I was exhausted just getting up to shuffle to the bathroom, and I just felt yucky. The first few days, I tried to continue on my normal schedule of things to do. By day three, though, I was spent. So, when work and blogging called, I had to take a hard look at what was most important. Would the world spin off its axis if I didn't check email that day? Most likely no. Would someone not be able to name their child if I didn't blog about baby names. Unlikely. Instead, I burrowed under the covers and slept. I conserved the energy I had for letting my body do what it needed to do and for only the essential tasks. Dinner still got made but the kitchen wasn't as tidy as I would have liked it. The children all had clean socks to wear but, boy, did I have a lot of laundry to do when I felt better. And, guess what, the earth is still spinning nicely despite it all.

The point is, a lot of us do and do and do for others. When you're pregnant, it's important to know your limitations. What used to be a piece of cake for you to do, now may seem like a monumental task. Remember that it's OK to tell someone you can't take on more. Trust me, they'll most likely understand.

It's also OK to take time for yourself. This pregnancy will only last nine months so enjoy it while you can. Get a pedicure. Window shop for a great piece of clothing for after you have the baby. Sit in a coffe shop and read a good book. Whatever you do, though, make it something that is just for you!

Lastly, know when you need to say no to yourself. You don't have to accomplish EVERYTHING on your To Do list today. Go with the essentials first and, after that, if you still have the steam, then you can begin adding more to your schedule.

And, finally, above all, live mindfully and take care of YOU!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If My Baby is Only 7 Pounds, Why Did I Gain 30??

In America we women think about our weight. We think about it A LOT! It doesn't matter if you're underweight, normal weight, or overweight, either. So, for most women, the weight gain that comes with pregnancy is sometimes difficult to accept. The average "normal" weight gain during pregnancy is 27-30 pounds. Imagine any other time in your life when you would gain that much in a 9 month period and consider it normal. It's enough to make even a man shudder!

So, where does all that weight go? Here's a simple little list to explain all those pounds away.

Baby - 7 lbs
Placenta - 1–2 lbs
Amniotic Fluid - 2 lbs
Uterus - 2 lbs
Maternal Breast Tissue - 2 lbs
Maternal Blood Flow - 2-4 lbs
Fluids in Maternal Tissue - 4 lbs
Maternal Fat stores - 7 lbs


Total - 27-30
Broken down like that, the amount of weight doesn't seem so unreasonable, does it? Regular weight gain is normal during pregnancy, and it all happens for a very good reason! You don't have to be stressed by the rising number on the scale; just remember to gain mindfully!

NOTE: These numbers represent averages. Your weight gain during pregnancy is as individual as you are and can be influenced by many things, such as your pre-pregnancy weight, diet, level of exercise, and special circumstances during your pregnancy such gestational diabetes. It's important to work with your healthcare professional to ensure that you are gaining the proper amount of weight during your pregnancy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Breastfeeding - What A Girl Wants?

I originally posted this piece in a different blog on 9/12/09.  At that time, the doll was slated to be released in the U.S. in 2010.  That never transpired, however, recent news stories have the doll, known in the U.S. as The Breast Milk Baby, ready to hit the retail market here soon.  As you'll see in the original post below, two years ago, I was conflicted about the arrival of such a doll.  To be honest, I still am.  What's your feeling?  Is this a doll you would purchase for your daughter, neice, granddaughter, etc.?

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The story on this new doll for girls broke just over a month ago, but I've refrained from writing about it until now. Honestly, I wasn't sure how I felt about it then, and I didn't want to write something that was simply a knee jerk reactionary piece. Now, 5 weeks later, though, I'm still not completely sure how I feel about it, so I figured that would be the point of the post.



If you haven't seen it yet, the doll in question is Bebe Gloton, the latest offering from a Spanish company by the name of Berjuan who is also the manufacturer of the toy. It is already being marketed in Spain and is slated to hit US stores next year. Basically, the way it works is that the owner of the doll, presumably a young girl somewhere in the age range of 4-7, puts on a specially made halter type top (it can be worn over her clothes) that has two plastic flowers strategically placed right where her nipples would be. When the doll's face is turned toward the girl's chest and is brought close to one of the flowers, a sensor in the flower activates motions and sounds in the doll consistent with that of suckling.

Like I said, I'm still a mixed bag of reactions to this doll. On one hand, I say "great!" I've watched little girls pretend to breastfeed their dolls before. It's only natural if the little girl in question is an older sister to a child that she regularly sees being fed that way or if the little girl herself is still being breastfed. Besides, teaching our young girls that breastfeeding is natural and a healthy way to feed our babies is a good thing.

On the other hand, though, I say "oh, my!" Teaching girls that breastfeeding is as easy as putting on a halter top is not the right message. I mean, didn't people kick and scream when pregnant Barbie came out? They felt it sent the wrong message to have Barbie pregnant one minute and then just remove her belly and have her Barbie-skinny the next. Not to mention the fact that girls at that age are just learning about modesty, and this may send a mixed message to them. And, let's not forget that boys play with dolls sometimes, too. It's hard enough for some people to deal with the fact that their boy wants to play with a doll in the first place. What happens when little Tommy wants to put on the halter top and breastfeed, too?

To their credit, Berjuan did their homework before bringing the doll to market. Director of sales and marketing Cesar Bernabeu has indicated that psychologists and teachers were consulted in the development of the toy, and that it has also received the approval of a pro-breast-feeding organization in Spain, the Asociacion Pro-Lacttancia Meterna de Espana. It's important to remember, too, that in Spain, as well as in many parts of Europe and parts of the world other than the US, breastfeeding is seen much differently. It's seen as a natural part of mothering, and it's much more "normal" to see women breastfeeding.

So, given that this is coming from a part of the world where breastfeeding is more widely accepted, is it so surprising that a doll like this would emerge? Let's face it, we've had dolls in the US for years that drink from bottles, burp, pee, and poop. We don't seem to think that those things are unusual in a doll. We don't seem to think that teaching little girls to feed, burp, and change a diaper is too much at a young age, so why not teach them about breastfeeding, too? Is it rather hypocritical of Americans, in general, to say that this doll isn't sending the right message to our little girls, but then spend our dollars on Bratz dolls, backpacks, movies, etc.? Like I said, I'm still riding the fence as far as what my personal opinion is about the doll. I guess we'll see what happens when they emerge in our market next year!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Easy Tips for Green Living - Part Two

Have you been making some green changes in your life yet?  As promised here are five more tips to help you green up your lifestyle and your family!


6.  Use alternate forms of transportation - save some gas, save some money, save the planet!  Whether it's using mass transit, biking, or walking, it's good for you and good for Mother Nature.  Even if you do drive to run your errands.  Try consolidating your errands so you only have to make one trip.  Park in a central location and walk between your stops.

7.  Visit your library - eReaders are great but think of the energy and parts and pieces that go into creating them.  Likewise, books are obviously printed using paper and that requires trees; lots of them.  Why not find that book you're looking for at your local library?  One book can be shared by hundreds if not thousands of people over the years and, if you really love it, then you can go out and buy a copy of your own to keep.

8.  Grow something edible - you don't have to be a master gardener and you don't even have to have a huge yard (or even any yard for that matter).  You'll be amazed at how great it feels to serve something to your family that you've grown yourself.  Whether it's green beans and carrots from your backyard garden or basil from your windowsill pots, you're cultivating healthy habits for years to come for your family.

9.  Give (and ask for) experiences - be honest, you've got tons of "stuff" around your home.  Most people do.  How many times have you wondered what to give someone as a gift because they "have everything"?  At the end our lives, we won't wish had more stuff but more experiences; more memories.  Give the gift of a dinner out for some new parents.  Ask for a prenatal massage as a shower gift.  Cleaning service once a month, tickets to a concert or play, a donation in the recipient's name to a great charity like Heifer International.  All of those things and more will lead to more memories and less clutter in your life and in your garage!

10.  Choose cloth or paper over plastic - plastic bags have become the norm in most grocery stores these days.  Yes, they have reusable bags for sale right at the check stand but when was the last time anyone asked if you wanted to purchase one instead of using plastic?  Most self checkout lanes don't even offer the option of paper anymore.  Plastic bags take 500 years of more to breakdown in a landfill.  That means the plastic bag you throw away today will still be there when your grandchildren are born... and when their grandchildren are born!  It's not natural.  It's not good for our planet.  It's not good for us and our families.

Like I said at the beginning of the Part One post, I'm not a hardcore greenie but these are all tips that are easy for all of us to incorporate.  And, if each of us does just a little, we can make a big impact on our world and in the lives of our families.


Got a green tip that you'd like to share that wasn't listed in these posts? Please share!  We always love to hear how you choose to live mindfully!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Easy Tips for Green Living - Part One

Let's be honest, I'm not a hardcore eco-green girl.  I still drive an SUV that I love, I still buy instant macaroni & cheese for my kids, and it's been forever and a day since I've visited a farmer's market for anything other than a giant bag of kettle corn.  With that being said, I do recycle like a mad woman, limit my driving in my precious SUV, and grow a garden each year.   I think most people are like that... not necessarily living off grid, but not wanting to make a concerted effort to live a greener lifestyle.

For many people, the shift happens after they have children or even during pregnancy.  It's a common occurrence.  We suddenly find ourselves constantly thinking about the welfare and future of someone other than ourselves.  Whatever place you're at, though, there are some really simple ways to create a greener lifestyle.

1.  Learn to cook - it's surprising how many people don't know how to cook something that doesn't originate in a box, can or jar.  Doing so, though, leaves you at the mercy of food companies and all the additives, preservatives, fillers, and who knows what else they put into their foods.  If you're new to cooking from scratch, don't overwhelm yourself.  You don't have to be Julia Child, after all.

2.  Become a label reader - most of us are used to looking at the nutritional label on foods these days.  But, what about other products you use daily on your body and in your home?  What about your shampoo?  Your laundry detergent?  You'll be surprised at what you find!  In fact, you probably won't even be able to pronounce most of what is in them.  Look for natural alternatives and don't be fooled by a label that says "natural" or "organic".  There are no regulations on the labeling of these products and they are often still filled with all manner of toxic stuff!

3.  Ditch the bottled water - you hear it all the time, right? Sorry to harp on it again, but it's true.  We're only now beginning to understand some of the dangers associated with plastics and our food.  By tossing the plastic bottles, you're not only eliminating that risk but you're also keeping tons (yes, literally tons) of plastics out of our landfills.  Plus, think of the savings. You'll save tons of money by crossing it off your shopping list and replacing it with a great filter for your home faucet and a few good reusable bottles.

4.  Buy second hand - you don't have to do this for all things.  In fact, I don't recommend it for all things (like carseats!).  But, honestly, there are some amazing second hand stores out there.  And, let's face it, maternity clothes are expensive.  Baby clothes are expensive.  How long will you or your munchkin even be wearing them?  Whether it's clothing, furniture, or anything in between, you'll be saving money and reusing some fabulous items!

5.  Green your home with houseplants - they add natural beauty to your home and help cleanse your air, an especially important job during winter months when your home is closed up tight.  Not a green thumb?  No problem! There are plenty of options that require very little attention to thrive.  Try lucky bamboo or a striking bromeliad.  The bromeliad's bloom will last for months, too!

Stay tuned later in the week for five more easy green tips!  Until then, live mindfully!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Ugly Truth About Baby Oil

If you know anything about em, you know that we pride ourselves on using only natural ingredients in our products. Of course, we all know that natural is best; but sometimes I think it's even more important to know why some products out there aren't the best for us to use on/in our bodies, not to mention that of our darling babies!

So, first, a few questions. Raise your hand if you've ever used baby oil on your baby. How about on yourself? Tons of women use baby oil on their pregnant bellies to keep their skin soft, so, if you are/were one of them, it doesn't surprise me. And, baby oil seems like a perfectly natural thing to put on our babies, doesn't it? I mean, it's called "baby" oil, right?  Think again!

I've known for years that the base ingredient in baby oil is mineral oil. You may know that, too. But, mineral oil doesn't sound so awful. It must have minerals in it, right? In reality, mineral oil is made from petroleum. That's something I knew because of all the research I do, but is it something you knew? Most people don't even think of it. Petroleum is, of course, a naturally occurring substance. However, the refining process it goes through in order to render it into what is marketed to us as body products is not.  It includes all types of caustic substances including sulphuric acid. Now add to that the fact that many petroleum compounds are known to be carcinogenic. Thinking twice about the use of baby oil and petroleum jelly yet?

So, that brings me to something I found online awhile back that really made my skin crawl. Really, it's stuff I already knew; but I had never heard it worded this way and it's pretty powerful. This is from a description of mineral oils found on a Canadian aromatherapy site...
They should not be used for massage with essential oils; they are not a suitable medium as they do not absorb into the skin, but lie on the surface therefore stopping the skin functioning effectively. The body cannot cope with mineral oils so they are deposited in the tissue as toxin. Mineral oils are dead oils that diminish the positive effect of essential oils.
Umm, OK, like I said, can you say "gross"? Makes you really think about putting petroleum jelly on anybody's body much less using baby oil, right? The thought, like I said, makes my skin crawl. And, again, that's why em only uses natural ingredients. Mother Nature gives us some mighty fine ingredients to use, and we think Mother knows best.

If you haven't tried our fabulous body products yet, I invite you to try them. You'll be delighted at how great your skin feels, and you'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're doing the right thing for your skin. If you're specifically looking for something to replace your baby oil with, try our body oil. It's a delicious blend of 4 natural oils that absorbs easily and won't leave you feeling greasy.  Light enough to use every day, it's the perfect replacement!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sensational Strawberry Facial

Summer is in full swing and it's nearly impossible to not find strawberries in grocery stores, farmer's markets, and backyard gardens everywhere.  While they are packed with nutritional goodness for your insides, they're high levels of antioxidents and salicylic acid make them the perfect ingredient for a wonderfully refreshing summer facial, too!

We found these super simple facial recipes at, where else, http://www.strawberry-recipes.com/.  You can quickly whip these up with ingredients you likely already have at home.  Then, all you have to do is relax while the facial does the rest (and maybe munch on a few extra berries, too)!

EASY STRAWBERRY FACIAL

Ingredients
  • 4 to 5 very ripe, medium size strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey
Rinse strawberries and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. In a small bowl, mash fruit with a fork. Add cream and honey, mixing well. Apply immediately and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse of with lots of warm water.

STRAWBERRY FACIAL WITH CORNSTARCH

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh milk
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch
Mash together all the ingredients to make a smooth paste. Spread over your face and neck and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

See what we mean?  EA - SY!!  This would be a perfect way to use some of those berries that may be getting a little soft and on the overly ripe side, too!  Live mindfully, facial friends!

Baby, It's Hot Out There

Recently, I've been seeing a lot of pregnant women when I've been out and about.  That's not necessarily unusual because I seem to have knack for spotting them; but lately it seems I'm seeing an unusually large number of them.  And, they've been VERY pregnant women. Gosh, my heart went out to them during these warm summer months! 

When I was pregnant with my first child, it was a blazing hot summer. I remember spending many hours under the one ceiling fan in the house, sucking on 7-Up ice cubes (one of my cravings during that pregnancy), and trying in vain to feel cooler. It's hard enough to keep cool when you're not pregnant, much less when you're walking around feeling like you really are cooking a little bun in an oven!

Right now you're body is working very hard at creating that beautiful new life inside of you, so the massive amounts of energy that it takes to cool your body, too (and keep it that way), can easily leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, and even the victim of heat exhaustion. Even worse, when you are feeling the extreme effects of the heat, so is your baby. That's why, when it's so hot outside AND you're pregnant, it's especially important to find ways to keep cool.

So, what can you do to keep cool? Well, first thing's first. Stay hydrated! Yes, you already feel like you have to pee every 40 minutes and the thought of consuming more liquids is a bit terrifying; but, believe me, it's the right thing to do. First, because your body needs it to replace the fluids that you're losing from sweating. Second, because it's just plain good for you; and, third, dehydration actually increases the body's core body temperature.

The next thing you can do to stay cool is to actually try to not do anything. Be still; try to be active as little as possible during the hottest parts of the day. Do your errands early in the day. Wait until night to do that load of laundry. And, during the afternoon, take a rest near a fan, lie down and watch a movie, or catch up on your journaling. Just promise yourself to do so guilt-free! Remember, by taking it easy in the heat, you're actually doing the right thing for your body and your baby.

Third, lower your core body temperature by taking a cool shower or bath. No time for that? Try placing a cold washcloth on the back of your neck. You can even use paper towels if you're away from home and need a quick cool down. Another easy trick that was, and still is, one of my favorites is to sit with your feet in a tub of cool water. You see, our bodies are curious things. When we're cold, the body's reaction is to conserve heat in our core by reducing circulation to our extremities. That's the reason our hands and feet are usually the first to feel the effects of the cold. When we're hot and the body is trying to cool itself, the opposite happens with those extremities. Think about how great it feels to go wading in a cool pond or stream on a hot day. Soaking your feet in a tub of cool water will give you the same feeling. It's amazing how much cooler you'll feel all over if you focus some of that cooling on the right places.

Finally, if you think you may be suffering from heat exhaustion - signs may include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and a faint or rapid pulse - contact your health care provider immediately.


Keep cool, my friends, and live mindfully!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Non-Alcoholic Cinco de Mayo

It's Cinco de Mayo.  The parties have been planned.  The tequila is flowing.  The problem?  You're pregnant (or maybe you don't drink).  Never fear, em is here!  We've got a great non-alcoholic margarita recipe for you!  This yummy recipe makes 8 - 4oz servings and will be sure to put you in the festive mood with everyone else. 


Ingredients:
  • Lime wedge (optional)
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • 6 oz can of frozen limeade concentrate
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened grapefruit juice 
  • 25-30 small ice cubes (about 4 cups) (optional)


Directions:
  1. If desired, rub rims of margarita glasses with lime wedge; dip rims into a shallow dish of coarse salt and shake off excess. Set aside.
  2. Combine limeade concentrate, orange juice and grapefruit juice in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.  For a frozen drink, leave the juice mixture in the blender and, with the blender running, gradually add ice cubes through the hole in the lid and blend until slushy. 
  3. Pour into glasses and garnish with lime wedges if desired.
Pretty easy, huh?  Even better, these drinks are fat-free and only 58 calories each!

Enjoy and remember to live mindfully!

Friday, April 22, 2011

40 Tips for Making Everyday Earth Day

It's Earth Day.  So what?  I know there are a lot of people that feel kind of like that.  But, just like dieting, this day is not so much about making a choice that doesn't feel natural to you to begin with.  It's about making a change in your lifestyle.  Here's a quick list of some ways to make a change today.  Some take a little more effort than others, we'll admit that; but all were included because they are easy to implement.  Choose one; choose all.  What's important is making the choice to live mindfully.

  1. Replace paper coffee filters with a permanent filter that can be washed and reused.
  2. Use reusable rags instead of paper towels.
  3. If you do use paper towels, purchase a brand that lets you select the size of towel you use each time.
  4. Keep drip pans on your stove clean. Clean drip pans radiate more heat, so your stove doesn't have to work quite so hard.
  5. Purchase reusable water bottles and coffee cups and USE THEM!
  6. Use a water filtration system with your tap water instead of purchasing bottled water.
  7. Store leftovers and/or bulk food in glass or porcelain containers.
  8. Use rechargeable batteries.
  9. Purchase fresh produce instead of canned and use a local farmer's market when possible.
  10. Make your own baby food from your fresh produce. It tastes better and is better for baby, too!
  11. Choose soy or beeswax candles instead of petroleum-based paraffin wax candles.
  12. Wash most of your laundry in cold water. Most detergents today are designed to work just as well at this temperature.
  13. If possible, hang your clothes to dry.
  14. Install a dual flush upgrade to your toilet. Kits are available in most home improvement stores for around $20 and install in about 10 minutes.
  15. Plug the bathtub before turning on the water for your little one's bath.
  16. Use a washable shower curtain liner instead of a plastic disposable one.
  17. Use a razor with refillable blades.
  18. Choose body oils made from the seeds of fruits and nuts instead of baby oil.  Baby oil is just scented mineral oil - a byproduct of gasoline production. ick
  19. Repair worn shoes instead of throwing them out and buying new ones. It's cheaper and you'll still have the shoes you love!
  20. Discover the joy of resale shops! You'll be amazed at the gems you can find from clothing to curtains, to holiday decor and everything in between!
  21. Install a programmable thermostat.  It's easier than you think!
  22. Install an attic fan. They're easy to install and can lower the temp in your home significantly on hot days.  You can even purchase a solar powered model!
  23. Don't throw out your magazines when you're done reading them.  Share them with a friend!
  24. Purchase exercise equipment secondhand. It's cheaper and there are a lot of lonely treadmills out there just waiting for a new home.
  25. Unplug your appliances, when possible, when you leave on vacation.
  26. Quit using disposable pens. Find a pen you love and just refill the ink cartridge.
  27. Opt for e-billing and online financial statements.
  28. Use direct deposit if it's available to you.
  29. Pay your bills online.
  30. Don't throw away your old cell phone. E-cycle it or donate it to a charity (women's shelters are often in need of them)
  31. Set outside lights on timers or motion sensors so they are only used when you really need them.
  32. Plant native plants in your landscaping. They are better suited to your climate and less likely to die and need replacing.
  33. When possible, choose to plant drought resistant plants.  Once established, they'll require less water.
  34. Grow something edible, whether it's a basil plant on your kitchen windowsill or a full vegetable garden.
  35. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to water your gardens. There will be less evaporation and no wasted water on leaves and foliage.
  36. Maintain your vehicle - regular oil changes, keeping the air filter clean, checking tire pressure - for optimum performance and longer life.
  37. Limit car idling time.  An idling car emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling at 32 mph!
  38. Use mass transit or carpool.
  39. Learn a skill.  Sewing, knitting, wood working, plumbing, electrical, etc. You can make gifts, repair items, build what you need, etc.
  40. Use em naturals products!  They're all 100% natural, good for you, and good for Mother Nature, too!