Welcome blog #sponsor Cottonbabies: not JUST for babies!

Find out how 6 diapers can change your world! {free shipping on all US orders} Cottonbabies.com

Welcome a new blog sponsor, Cottonbabies! I actually cloth diapered both my children (consecutively and simultaneously) in BumGenius diapers, which is how I learned about Cottonbabies. You can find my posts on cloth diapering here. If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know that I also wrote for the Cottonbabies blog for several years — definitely check it out, it’s a great resource for parents.

It might be tempting to think of Cottonbabies as a store only for mothers with babies, but it’s actually a great resource for parents of children of all ages. I want to list a few of my favorite products for children who are past the baby stage, like mine are.

We use Earth Mama Angel Baby body products a lot around here, actually. The nipple butter is ALL we use on chapped lips (I haven’t breastfed for over 3 years). It has the staying powder of Vaseline but none of the petroleum byproducts. And it stings less than most chapsticks, although my second favorite EMAB product is their lip balm. It doesn’t sting the kids at all. My son says he likes it because “it isn’t spicy”.

Eco-friendly period products. If you don’t have a tilted cervix like me and can use menstrual cups, Cottonbabies carries DivaCup. For the less adventurous, they also carry Lunapads cloth pads and organic tampons.

Piggy Paint. Little Lady is dreadfully obsessed with nail polish right now. It would be terribly toxic, if Cottonbabies didn’t carry Piggy Paint! Unlike some other eco-friendly non-toxic brands, Piggy Paint really stays put for a long time on little fingers.

All kinds of eco-friendly, educational toys. They have a whole section of Pretend Play – my kids use the tea set made from recycled plastic literally every day in their play kitchen. You can even get an eco-friendly telescope or microscope for your Big Kid from Cottonbabies!

And probably the thing you’ll be most excited about if you shop at Cottonbabies online store: FREE SHIPPING!

The Cottonbabies banner ad will be on the left column for the next 3 months, any time you need it. Visit Cottonbabies today and let me know what you think!

Book review: Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

NOTE: I was given an advance copy of the book Hannah, Delivered (affiliate link) in exchange for my honest opinion. Review and opinions below are my own.

"There's three things to learn about labor. It's work. It hurts a lot. And you can do it." - Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

When I got an email from a publisher with the subject line “Midwife Fiction”, you know that I was in! I am a bit of a natural birth junkie. I just love to hear how women learn to trust their bodies and how they discover their strength through childbirth. I actually visited my midwife just last week for my annual checkup and fell in love again with the entire practice. The old Victorian house, the cloth robe and cover, the corner of the exam room filled with toys for the kids, the comfy chairs I sat in while we chatted, with the sunlight streaming in the huge windows…So far removed from what I’ve heard about OB/GYN offices. I just love sharing the stories of my first natural birth and my second natural birth.

The mind-body connection espoused by midwifery is not so far removed from what we practice in yoga. The book that I was given a chance to read definitely delivered (if you will excuse the pun) on that reality. The book is called Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew (affiliate link) and it is about a young woman on her journey to become a midwife. She has built a safe, secure life for herself working in an administrative position at a hospital and one evening is called to assist in a birth. She accidentally ends up catching the baby and BAM! catches the midwifery bug. She will have to leave everything she knows: her job, her relationship, her state, and her security to train as a midwife, only to return to practice in a town where midwifery is only barely legal. Is that how this really happens? BAM!, just like that? To a woman who has never been a mother herself? I am not sure. I didn’t know much about birth, myself, until I read the book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy (affiliate link) almost 10 years ago. Shortly after, I also read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (affiliate link). To say those two books shook up my idea of what my body was capable of and how our society has treated women would be an understatement. Some of these same injustices, mistrust, and misinformation are touched on in Hannah, Delivered. It is plausible that activism is a response to correct a wrong. But more importantly, Hannah’s journey to midwifery is a journey that has a goal of creating what is right: assisting women in the positive aspects of birth and allowing them to be free. The book is about how Hannah delivers herself from her old ideas of what she “should” be or isn’t, and allows herself to be born into what she is meant to be. She struggles with her place in the world as well as her own spirituality and the spirituality of her parents. It’s definitely not a Christian book, as the main character remains agnostic throughout the book. But I did not feel uncomfortable with it as a Christian, either. The Christ-followers in the book were presented in a positive and loving way.

The characters in the book were believable and I found myself caring what happened to them. There was enough of a twist for me to wonder what was going to happen, but enough of a reassurance that I didn’t feel the need to skip to the end to keep from getting anxious (not that I ever do that…) . I also found the end satisfying, unlike some of our recent Book Club books. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, whether or not you are a natural birth junkie.

Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

So if you’re getting ready to build your summer book list, add Hannah, Delivered — and let me know what you think!

No SUV needed: two carseats in a sedan or compact car

So you’ve got kids. Maybe one, maybe two…Are you already resigning yourself to a gas-guzzling SUV or minivan? Maybe you started car shopping as soon as you got pregnant for the first time. It’s a pretty common trend here in Dallas. And certainly, once you hit that three-child-or-more threshold, you’re probably going to be driving a larger vehicle. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to give up your gas efficiency or eco-friendly driving habits just because you have one or two little buddies along for the ride!

We have driven a compact car — a Honda Fit — since shortly after our son was born in 2009. Before that, we primarily drove a Honda Civic, which we still have. Our children are currently 3 and 4 years old, so we have a convertible car seat and a convertible booster combo. Both are Britax — the Boulevard Convertible and the Pinnacle 90 Booster Combo (affiliate links), so they aren’t the smallest on the market. I’ve heard that one of the Japanese brands is actually the smallest, but I love the safety of the Britax brand.

I mention the average-to-large size of our two car seats because people often say that you cannot fit two car seats in a sedan or compact car. I am here to tell you that is just not an accurate statement. The kids are perfectly comfortable even in the grueling often-8-hour drive to San Antonio from Dallas. There is plenty of room for their toys and for an iPad hanging between the driver and passenger seat.

Two car seats in a Honda Fit, traveling to San Antonio in 2012
This picture was taken from the top of the iPad
resting between the driver and passenger seat

Just last week, we had to put the Honda Fit into the shop for repair work, and both car seats were moved back into our 2000 Honda Civic. Here they are in the back seat of the 4 door sedan, with room for all their toys in the middle.

Two Car Seats in a Honda Civic

And all that about not having enough trunk space in a small car? The trunk of our Civic is much smaller than the Fit (the Fit is a hatchback), and yet I was able to get all 11 of my yoga mats for kinds yoga inside their wheeled container, plus all the groceries from a trip to the grocery store into the Civic’s trunk with plenty of space to spare, as seen here.

Trunk of a 2000 Honda Civic

Obviously, we only have two kids right now. And it’s true that we cannot carry any passengers. We’ve had a few very ambitious family members (and once, myself) attempt to squeeze between the car seats in the back of the Fit, but it’s a terrible idea. My hips are very narrow and even I was unable to sit completely straight and was uncomfortable after 5 minutes.

It’s inevitable that as our children grow older and we wish to take passengers/friends with us in carpool situations, we will most likely have to purchase a larger vehicle. In a way, this post might even be a requiem for the dream of having the extremely fuel-efficient cars that we have had for the past few years.

I guess what I want to say is: please know that you CAN hang onto that smaller car a little bit longer. Save your money for when the kids are old enough to carpool or that third child. Hang on to that fuel efficient car as long as you can!
No SUV required - two car seats in a sedan or compact car | Conscientious Confusion

NOTE: There are 2 affiliate links in this post to Amazon, but I was not paid by Britax, Honda, or anybody else to write this post. Opinions are my own.

Teaching children to use glass containers safely

NOTE: I am part of the Glass Is Life campaign and have received the Le Parfait glass jars from the campaign, seen in the video and picture. I did not receive any compensation other than that for this post, tips and tricks are my own ideas!

Teaching Children To Use Glass Containers Safely | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Before I actually had to keep two very high spirited human beings alive and happy 24/7, I used to be very high-and-mighty about what kinds of materials I would allow my not-yet-born children to interact with and eat from. Plastic leaches all kinds of undesirable chemicals, that was out. Paper creates a great deal of waste, is quite expensive, and is not durable at all. Aluminum or stainless steel is very nice for cups and plates but is terrible for storage since you can’t see what’s inside. What does that leave? Glass, of course!

Glass is so pretty. If you aren’t convinced, just check out the Glass Is Life Instagram account. Glass is also so sustainable — it never wears out! A glass jar can be used over and over for different purposes, for hundreds of years with no leaching. And if it breaks, you can recycle it.

Ah, yes…breakage. That’s what I hadn’t thought of back in the day before children. Back when glass baby bottles seemed like a great idea. So it turned out that I did resort to plastic a little more than I’d like, for quite a while.

There was a time when we couldn’t use any glass, because my children are strong and forceful when they fling things. Probably from newborn to about 3 years old. But suddenly, both my children are 3 and older! And I am finding that I can explain to them how to use glass safely.

Admittedly, it takes a little trial and error.

Letting them fail (and break)

One of the lessons about glass that had the biggest impact on my son was when we were at Central Market and he was walking down the aisle of glass artisan juice bottles. Well, he was kind of skipping, actually. Running his hand past all the bottles as he went…you can see where that goes. He knocked one off and it went crashing to the ground in a huge mess of juice and glass. An employee had to come clean it up. He got quite the talking-to from me.

But it made a big impression. All I have to do now when he is reaching for or holding something glass is say, “We need to be careful because that is made of what?” and he’ll say, “Glass”. “And what happens to glass when we drop it like the juice at the store?” he’ll answer, “It breaks”.

Controlled access

Unfortunately, my just-3-year-old hasn’t had the juice jar experience, so she’s a little more unpredictable around glass. Recently, we went to IKEA and they both fixated on a ceramic tea set. We told them that we would buy it for them if they could learn to be gentle with it. The tea set cost somewhere around $10-$15. It’s been a great learning tool about breakage! My daughter has broken several of the cups on the tile floor in their play area, but it has been safe because the ceramic breaks very cleanly without shards. Still, the toy is gone when that happens. By allowing her to break inexpensive things that shatter relatively harmlessly, we are teaching her about why we handle glass more carefully than plastic.

Ongoing learning

Neither of them have fully learned how to handle glass, so I make sure they aren’t alone with valuable glass items or glass that would shatter into a million little pieces. But I do let them handle glass and we talk about it each time. Here’s a little video of them helping me unpack some Le Parfait glass jars (which I hope to use soon in a DIY post).

Have you transitioned young children to using glass? Any tips/ideas?

How to do a nasal saline rinse for toddlers and kids

It’s starting to be allergy and drippy-nose season already! At the very least, it’s the time of year when young children who haven’t been exposed to a lot of germs return to school and start carrying home some fun ones. In addition to boosting immunity with Thieves oil for infants and toddlers, one of my go-to treatments for prevention and also treatment of upper respiratory illness for kids is nasal saline rinsing. Obviously, a nasal saline rinse for toddlers and kids does not look the same as it does for adults. For adults, I always recommend the neti pot first of all. It’s much less harsh and does a more thorough job of rinsing contaminants out. However, if you’ve ever tried to hold a child’s head sideways and pour salt water into their nose (I haven’t, but I have a friend who actually tried this!), OUT OF WHICH THEY BREATHE, you might recognize it is a fool’s errand. More water is going to get on you and the child than into anybody’s nose. And it’s going to traumatize both you and the child.

Here is where I recommend the nasal saline spray for kids.

The key word is SPRAY

Do not buy the ridiculous bottles labeled “drops OR spray” with a nozzle that looks like this:

Saline DROPS are not what you want, you want saline SPRAY for kids
Saline DROPS are NOT what you want,
you need saline SPRAY for kids

There is no way you are going to get that dropper top to defy gravity and send water up a child’s nose! I don’t know what someone was smoking to call that a “spray”. The only way to make that kind of dropper spray significant amounts is to invert the head. Now you’re right back to having to hold your child’s head sideways and put liquid up their nose.

Just, NO.

Here is the kind of nozzle you need:

The easiest nozzle for kids to do their own nasal saline spray - post includes video demo with a 2 & 3 year old

Below is a video of my kids demonstrating how they do nasal saline spray on themselves.

If you weren’t able to see the embedded video, you can see it on YouTube here.

The key is to start young and make it fun. I started my kids at birth with nasal saline spray. Until they were about a year old, I followed the spray with suction using the nose frida (affiliate link). Because the nose frida mimics the feeling of blowing out through the nose (not suction like those bulb suctions you get at the hospital), both my kids knew how to blow their own nose before they were 2 years old. I let them start holding the saline nose spray for themselves at about 18 months old. I also let them spray it into the air as you will see in the video because that makes it fun!

I hope this answers some of the questions I get about how I get my kids to use nasal saline spray. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!


Changing Diapers: the end of my journey, the beginning of yours?

I reached a bittersweet milestone in my parenting journey in the last 2 weeks: I finally packed up all my cloth diapers! After consecutively and simultaneously cloth diapering two babies since 2009, it was my first time to start doing loads of tiny undies instead of cloth diapers.

Folding tiny undies
Folding tiny undies

I did, however, make sure to pack the cloth diapers safely after washing and stripping so they are more than ready for another baby that might come along…I am relatively sure that this is not the absolute end of my cloth diapering journey.

Storing cloth diapers for future baby
Storing cloth diapers for future baby?

As I look back on my time in the trenches of cloth diapering, I know that I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience. It was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I never felt like the cloth diapers added more than I could handle to the challenges of raising two babies virtually at the same time, but there were also hiccups in leaking, washing, and repairing that I wouldn’t have envisioned when I started.

Out of all the advice I would give to parents who are looking into or just starting their cloth diapering journey, there is one resource that I would recommend above all others: a book by Kelly Wels, Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering.

My #1 Recommendation for new cloth diapering parents: Changing Diapers by Kelly Wels

I received this book from Kelly after BlogHer 2011 and reviewed it here. I find it such a valuable resource that I still do not want to get rid of my copy. But, good news for all your cloth diapering parents: I received another copy this year as part of the EcoFab50 event in Chicago! Since hoarding two books is probably not cool, I am going to give away my second copy of this book to a family who is just at the beginning of their cloth diaper journey. It doesn’t have to be your first baby. You might have been cloth diapering for a few months and just now hit some snafus that this book can help you overcome (and it can!). Or you might be someone who works with young parents (a doula, a pregnancy resource worker, social worker, adoption advocate, etc.) who could give this to someone who needs it.

I’m going to run this contest for one week, ending Thursday, August 22.

In giveaway entry form, I’m asking newbies to share their #1 cloth diapering question and I’ll answer it. For those of you who are already on your cloth diapering journey, I want to know who you’re planning to give this book to!


Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have!

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Guest Post: What is embryo adoption?

What Is Embryo Adoption?

When I found out that my friend Merritt was raising money for her embryo adoption, I had no idea what that even meant. But when I found out, I thought it sounded like such a great idea for everyone involved. I asked her to do this guest post with the original idea of helping her raise the money they will need for the first stage of the adoption, but they’ve met that goal! However, I still really want to a) answer the question “What is embryo adoption” for all of you who, like me, didn’t know, and b) put her story out there because they are not finished with the financial part of building their family! There are still many other steps for her and her husband, Todd, to take and I’d love for you to follow their story going forward so that you’ll have the chance to participate too, if you choose. Here’s Merritt!


Hi! My name is Merritt! When Jenny heard about our need to raise nearly $10,000 for our embryo adoption, she wanted to help! She offered her little piece of the blogosphere so I could share our story and ask for your assistance in spreading the word about our fundraiser.

But wait! {insert record-scratch-sound here} In just under a week we’ve surpassed our goal! Yes, that’s right, our adoption is funded! So, I’m not here to ask for your money, instead, I want to share the fascinating journey toward embryo adoption, which will—hopefully—grow our little family of two into something more.

First of all, you’re probably asking, what is embryo adoption anyway?

An embryo adoption is a legal transaction. A family chooses to donate their frozen embryos to an adoptive couple, the embryo(s) will be implanted in the wife’s uterus and she will have the opportunity to become pregnant. When the baby is born, he or she is legally the child of the adoptive couple.

Who would choose embryo adoption?

Embryo adoption can be a source of hope for couples who have been unable to conceive through natural means or who have had several failed infertility treatments.

Where do the embryos come from?

Embryos are not created for the purpose of adoption. Instead, they are available because couples who have struggled with infertility have pursued IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments. The couple’s doctor will harvest and fertilize several embryos for their treatments. Oftentimes more eggs are harvested and fertilized than are needed for one IVF cycle. Those embryos are frozen until they are needed for subsequent treatments. Our agency, Nightlight, calls those little babies “Snowflakes®.” There are currently 600,000 embryos in frozen storage, but not all of them are available for adoption.

How does embryo adoption benefit the genetic parents?

When the couple is finished growing their family (or if they run out of funds or time to continue fertility treatments), they have four options for their remaining embryos:

  1. Thaw & discard (destroys the embryos)
  2. Donate to science (destroys the embryos)
  3. Do nothing (embryos remain frozen indefinitely, but the family continues to pay storage fees)
  4. Donate for adoption (saves lives and gives hope to a family)

Couples can chose to give their children the gift of life through adoption by a family like ours. We understand their decision is not an easy one; it’s truly a sacrificial choice to allow another family to give birth to and raise their genetic children.

Our Story

Although we married in our late 30s, it was still hard to imagine we’d have trouble conceiving. We’re both pretty healthy, but after a year and a half of dedicated “trying” a fertility specialist told us we had a miniscule chance of conceiving on our own.

I felt a great deal of pressure to pursue infertility treatments in an “everybody’s doing it” kind of way. But we knew we weren’t prepared for the costs (physical and financial) of IVF. We were just beginning to test how my body would respond to fertility drugs when I got pregnant in March 2012. However, a few weeks later we lost our baby. We were devastated. After our miscarriage I couldn’t imagine going back to the doctor for more pokes, prods, and tests that would put us back on that roller coaster.

By January 2013, I had begun seriously looking into adoption. That’s when we learned about embryo adoption. I’d really been struggling with the fact that I might never experience pregnancy, childbirth or have the chance to breastfeed our baby. Those things always seemed like a given to me, even when I was a young girl. In addition, my husband and I are believe life begins at conception, meaning all those little frozen Snowflakes are babies just waiting to be born. We believe God created each one of them individually, gave them a soul and a hope for their future. And we are grateful to have the opportunity to take part in giving them life and a loving family.

Although we investigated domestic adoption (adopting from a birthmother in the U.S.) and international adoption (adopting an orphan from overseas), embryo adoption is often more affordable and has a shorter wait time. Our hope is to be matched with a donor family by the end of the year.

If that donor family is interested in maintaining some sort of relationship with their genetic children once those babies are born into our family, we have already agreed that our kids can meet them and their siblings as long as it’s a healthy arrangement for everyone involved.

After so many painful years of waiting to be married and then trying to get, some days it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever have children running around our home. But we have faith that our prayers will be answered in one way or another.

If you’re a praying person, we’d love your prayers for us and our hoped-for-family. You can watch a few videos of us on our Pure Charity fundraising page. Details and progress of our adoption can be found on our blog, On Becoming Parents, or check out our newlywed blog to read our love story. If I can answer any questions about our experience, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @merritto.

6 Tips for Getting Back to Fitness: my fitness journey leading up to now (Part II)

A few months ago, I shared my past fitness journey — what made me passionate about health and fitness initially, in my 20’s. That post ended when I was single and learning to alter my lifestyle and to listen to what made my body feel good or bad. At the time, that was the most fit that I had ever been in my life. However, I can safely say that now — at 35 and after having 2 babies in 2 years — I am actually in even better shape than I was back then. How did I get here from there?

It certainly wasn’t consistent! There were many periods of slipping back. When my husband and I were first married, we kept biking together, walking around White Rock Lake (because we lived right next to it and could cross the street and just walk!), and going to the YMCA together. During my pregnancy with Little Sir, I did prenatal yoga nearly every day, even when I was on bed rest. It was the only thing that helped with the crazy bad hip and back pain! I sat on a balance ball at work to maintain my core. Christian and I walked and walked and walked (largely to try to get my labor going, since I had prodromal labor for weeks).

It was after Little Sir’s birth that things really went downhill in my physical fitness. Sure, I lost the baby weight fairly quickly, but I was very weak and lacking the energy that physical fitness would have given me. I went back to work full time working 10 hour shifts, and LS didn’t sleep through the night until he was 10 months old. By then, I was more than 4 months pregnant with Little Lady and so exhausted and stressed that “working out” was the last thing on my mind. I was eating…whatever I could find around the house. When Little Lady was born, I was so completely buried in babies that I couldn’t even figure out how to fit exercise into my life. Again, I lost most of the baby weight, but that was mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out out how to find time to eat! When I did eat, it was leftovers from the kids’ food or sugary, fatty foods that didn’t boost my energy level in the long term or provide essential nutrition.

So when my sweet friend Amanda told me that her friend was opening a studio teaching a Pilates-based workout and I could go through the training with them to be come an instructor, I said yes! It came at a good time for me because Little Lady was finally sleeping through the night (which happened at around 13 months), and I was staying home full time.

I’m not just voicing marketing material when I tell you that the Lagree Fitness workout is PERFECT for moms who want to get into shape in the most effective way possible, with the least amount of time and in the lowest impact way! I really believe in this workout and love to teach it because there is nothing else like it. Here’s a picture I took of the machines in the studio last week after class:

Lagree Fitness Megaformers at Ultimate Pilates Plano

As you can see, these aren’t your mama’s Reformers. These are Megaformers, which add additional resistance to every move we do during the workout and challenge the balance, activating the core, while at the same time taking the stress off joints and back so that they’re perfect for clients with injuries or difficulties doing traditional mat Pilates. I could go on and on, but here are my favorite aspects of the workout:

  • 50 minutes (some studios have even more compact 45 or 40 minute workouts)
  • complete cardio
  • full body strength training
  • low impact (great for people with joint or back issues)
  • only 3-4 workouts a week are sufficient due to the full body muscle exhaustion and need for recovery between workouts

Can you see why I love this?

In the last 6 months, I’ve also returned to my yoga roots by taking classes at We Yogis studio in Dallas, where they offer childcare for every adult class. This is also where I took certification to teach Kids YogaI’ll be teaching a Kids Yoga class at the Richardson rec center(s) in the Fall — either Heights or Huffhines. I’ve been teaching outdoor classes in my neighborhood and with Little Sir’s playgroup and other neighborhood children, and it’s been so much fun! I have found that yoga really opens up my chest and shoulders where I had started to see some damage from doing Megaformer workouts more often than is typically recommended. See, you should always follow your instructors’ suggestions! I should follow my own suggestions and make sure I rest fully between workouts.

6 Tips For Getting Back To Fitness After A Break

What have I learned about getting back to fitness after being derailed by childbirth and having young children?

  1. Make time for yourself. I wasn’t helping myself any by neglecting workouts because I was robbing myself of the energy boost that a workout supplies!
  2. Let go and trust your partner or childcare provider. When I started making the conscious choice to step away from my children and trust my husband to care for them for an hour in the mornings while I teach, I had to let go of control. Both Dad and the kids benefit from the time together and learn about how to live with each other without my interference. Does he feed or clothe them the same way I would? No, but that’s OK. Releasing my control frees all of us to learn and grow.
  3. Eat, but eat wisely. With this workout in particular, the metabolism takes a huge jump almost immediately and you will be STARVING. I tell my clients to listen to their body and eat when it is hungry, but be wise about food choices! Don’t go out and scarf a whole cake. Have some carrots with hummus, listen to how you feel. Take a break from eating and wait for the feeling of fullness to hit before eating some more.
  4. Listen to your body. When ramping up to a new fitness routine, it’s important to listen to your body before, during, and after a workout. Your body will help you discover what other aspects of your life need to change. For example, if I eat badly the day before I do a workout, I can feel the sluggishness in my body and I can see a definite lack of strength. On the other hand, I can tell when I’m eating well and getting enough rest, because I am stronger.
  5. Get enough rest. If you have to choose between getting enough sleep and working out on some days, listen to your body — sometimes it is better to choose sleep. Just make sure you schedule that next workout in advance so you don’t start the slow descent into apathy.
  6. Take the next step, challenge yourself. There was a point where I started receiving feedback that my workouts were too easy. I had lost context and wasn’t really pushing myself or my clients to the next level. Everything was easy for me because I’d gained a lot of strength, so I started to plateau. I appreciate feedback from my clients in this area because it really helped me ramp up my routines to make them more fast-paced and challenging for everyone. If you’re getting bored, change your routine or tell your group fitness instructor you’d like to see some new moves.

I’ll be doing one more post on my current yoga journey in a few weeks, including some ideas for fitting in fitness when you care for children full-time!

What are some ways that you have eased back into fitness after a time away? I’d love to hear about your journey too!


Note: I was NOT compensated by any of the studios or companies for mentioning them in this post, although obviously I do work for Ultimate Pilates Plano and I substitute teach Lil Yogis classes at the We Yogis studio occasionally. I work for them both as an independent fitness instructor and do not receive commission for directing anyone to their studios.

Fave baby/toddler item: Beaba BabyCook

There is one item that I have used pretty much nonstop since my son was around 6 months old: my Beaba BabyCook. I still use it regularly even now that my daughter (my youngest) is almost a year old. The Beaba has been around for a while, and now there are several lower-cost alternatives made by other brands such as Baby Brezza, the Baby Bullet, and The First Years BabyPro. Those could be just as good, I’ve just never tried them.

At first you might think these doo-hickeys are expensive. It’s true that they’re not cheap. And theoretically, yes, you could steam and puree baby food with just your regular pots and pans. That would be cheaper. But the beauty of one of these baby food systems is that you don’t have to use 5 different pots and pans! There is just one receptacle to clean for the steaming and the pureeing.

Since my sink is constantly full of baby bottles and sippy cups waiting to be washed, I don’t have room for a giant steamer, a strainer, and all the pieces of a food processor. With the Beaba, I only have one thing to wash. WORTH IT.

Do keep in mind that, in contrast to using a full-size steamer, a strainer, and a food processor, these enclosed systems often offer the ability to catch the steamed water and use it to add back into the food during the puree process, which ensures that you don’t lose the foods’ natural vitamins and minerals.

When it comes to pureeing, I have also noticed a difference between my Cuisinart food processor and the Beaba. For some reason, a regular food processor does not seem to puree as finely as the Beaba does. In fact, for some recipes that call for pureeing, I have actually used my Beaba instead of my regular food processor.

Once your baby grows out of the puree stage, the Beaba still remains useful. Both my kids got to the point at around 9-10 months old where they refused purees and would only eat finger foods. Also, they didn’t have any teeth to speak of. At that point, I just popped various fruits and veggies into the Beaba basket to steam and cut into bite-size chunks. Apples, pears, sweet potatoes, squash… anything that we had around the house went into the Beaba and was ready to serve in about 20 minutes.

Quick tip: if you’re steaming fruits or veggies last-minute for a hungry baby because you just realized there is no food for them in the house otherwise (not that I have ever done this…), you can take a small amount of tiny bit-size pieces right out of the steamer basket and pop them into the freezer for 5 minutes. Instantly cool enough to eat!

As the kids get older and pickier about foods, I am now using the Beaba to steam and puree veggies to hide inside other foods. Yes, I know I said I would never do that. But you can hide a ton of foods inside mac n’ cheese. And don’t forget my lentil carrot spice muffins (for which I also used the Beaba).

So, despite both my kids slowly approaching toddlerhood, I am still loving on my Beaba. I highly recommend it!

Related posts: Greening your Baby – Best postpartum products

NOTE: Links are affiliate links, but I was not paid or given any product for this review. Noooo, I paid for that Beaba myself even though it was NOT cheap. I think it was worth every penny!

Cloth diaper Thurs: Thirsties Duo

I started Cloth Diaper Thursday to review all the diapers I received at BlogHer 2011. The Thirsties Duo is the last diaper in this series!
My daughter, Little Lady, has finally reached the weight she needs to be to help me test out the Thirsties Duo* I received from Kelly Wels at BlogHer 2011 last year! I was excited about this because the diaper is sooo pretty.

Thirsties Duo diaper review

We have been having some issues with Little Lady leaking through ALL of our stash. I’ve been scouring cloth diaper sites and emailing friends, but all I can think is that right now her legs are so thin compare to her tubby tummy that I can’t get most of our diapers’ legs to close tightly enough to prevent side leaks.

We’ve had to resort to using only our snaps diapers, which hold the legs more tightly. The one exception: the Thirsties Duo! Because it has double leg gussets and extra elastic in the front under the tummy, it’s one of the only velcro-closure diapers in our stash right now that doesn’t leak. Bonus that it’s one of the cutest, too!

The Thirsties Duo is unique because it is a pocket diaper that could also be used as a cover. Either stuff the pocket with an insert or… don’t! You could just use a prefold and use the Duo as a cover.

One note about sizing: although this diaper comes with snaps that adjust the rise, it is also a sized diaper. Usually diapers with snapped rises are one-size, but the Thirsties Duo comes in two sizes. Size 1 is for 6-18 lbs and Size 2 is 18-40 lbs. I received a Size 2, which is why I had to wait until Little Lady was about 9 months old to start using it.


  • Two sizes of diaper means your toddler won’t outgrow the Size 2 diaper until potty training
  • Love the double leg gussets!
  • Inside of the diaper is super-soft cotton, not polyester like most of our pocket dipes
  • Comes in so many cute prints!
  • Adjustable rise
  • Extra elastic in the front of the diaper holds it flush to the baby’s tummy even if the baby is tubby, like Little Lady
  • The pocket opens on both the front and back of the diaper, so the insert is certain to come out in the wash, meaning you won’t have to touch it to pull it out before washing! 
  • Can be used as a pocket diaper or a cover only


  • The sizing does mean that you’d have to buy the diaper twice as your baby grows
  • Not sure how you would go about replacing the leg elastic if it gets worn

Overall, I have been very impressed with this diaper! I would love to have been able to use it earlier, but now I know we’ll be using it until Little Lady is potty trained for sure. Thank you so much, Thirsties!

Rating: 5 out of 5

NOTE: I was given the Thirsties Duo for free at BlogHer 2011 by a blogger sponsored by Thirsties. All opinions are my own, I’m the one who has to clean up the poop, people!
* Links to Kelly’s Closet are affiliate links. I get, like, 10 cents if you order from them. Oooo.