Friday, March 23, 2012

4 Steps to Making Labor Easier - Guest Post

Who isn't looking for ways to make labor easier?  I'll never forget how scared I was going in to my first labor (little did I know my first would be 9 pounds 9 ounces...).  I spent hours reading books and reading up on delivery stories.  I'm excited to share the below guest post with 4 Fantastic Steps to Making Labor Easier!

Expecting moms have much to prepare for when it comes to getting their home and their body ready for delivery day. Making theses preparations usually satisfies a mother’s need to nest as well as helps her feel mentally prepared to take on labor. Here are a few tips to help you stay organized.

When you first discover that you’re expecting a child, making a doctor’s appointment with an ob-gyn is the first step to beginning a healthy pregnancy. From there you can learn about how to alter your diet to be sure you and your baby are getting plenty of nutrients. If you were already in an exercise regimen before you became pregnant, speak to your doctor about continuing your physical activities and how to alter the intensity and regimen to keep it safe for both you and baby. It used to be believed that exercising would cause miscarriages in women, but that’s not true; women who exercise during pregnancy generally have an easier time during delivery with muscle control and managing their pain.

Prepare the Nursery
At home, preparing a room or space as a nursery can be a very fun and creative preparation step. Not only will it satisfy a mother’s nesting needs, it will help you relax knowing that your baby has a safe place in your home to grow up in. Be careful when putting this space together, you don’t want to overexert yourself and painting is not a safe activity for you to help with. Get the help of your partner or family and friends. A nursery can be anything you’d like it to be, but standard furniture includes a crib, changing table and nursing chair. Stocking up on onesies, diapers, and toys can also help with your nesting feelings.

Childbirth Classes
Attending a childbirth class is a great idea for an expecting mother whether it’s her first child or third. It’s a great place to learn about your birthing facility, what pain management options you have and other optional procedures like cord blood banking. Knowing your facility can make you feel more comfortable about delivery day being able to visualize where you’ll be during labor. Your choice of pain management, whether it’s natural or medicated, is up to personal preference barring any medical needs. Outline what you’re comfortable with in a birth plan for your medical team. Optional procedures, like cord blood banking, are good to learn about and consider for the future health of your child. Cord blood banking is where the umbilical cord blood is collected to be saved and potentially used in the future to treat certain medical conditions. This is something that should be discussed and planned ahead for with your doctor.

Pack a Bag
Packing for your hospital stay a few weeks before your delivery is a good idea to do. Packing is easy; loose, comfortable clothes for mom, slippers, toiletries, and outfit to come home in and of course a cute outfit to bring baby home in, and anything else to keep yourself comfortable during your hospital stay. Having copies of all of your medical information and birthing plan is a great idea to put in there as well. If you have things that need to be grabbed last minute, like a camera and your phone charger, keep a list in an accessible place so you don’t forget anything.

Finally, moms need to remember that childbirth is a natural process so mental preparation is just as important as physical prep. When delivery day comes, you’ll be able to go into the delivery room with confidence and excitement as you welcome your new family member.

This article was written by Alan Cassidy, an active writer within the blogging community covering maternity and childbirth, and always advocating for infant and children’s health. Connect with him on Twitter @ACassidy22


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gardening time!

We've been busy gardening on the weekends around our house.  Our most recent project was planting these bushes along the back fence line.  I'm absolutely in love with the visual effect of the green grass, the purple-ish bushes and the silver solar lights. 

If it wasn't for the rain upcoming this weekend, my vegetable garden was next up on the list of tasks.  I can't wait for home grown tomatoes!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Southern California Elementary School Smashes World Record and Shows Commitment to Arts

Nestled in Southern Riverside County, California is an elementary school that should be a model for all public schools.  Amidst the seemingly never ending California State budget cuts, Lisa J. Mails Elementary School in Murrieta showed how important the arts are.  Last Friday the school set out (and succeeded in!) breaking the World Record in the largest art lesson!  Correct that - it SMASHED the World Record by more than 200 participants! 

Lisa J. Mails didn't start out to be a performing and visual arts magnate school, but through the extensive support of the school staff, the parents and the district, it has become exactly that school.   Parents will commute in for their children to be a part of the well rounded education that it offers.  Watching the focus and determination of the children in beating the world record (yes it will be in the Guinness Book of World Records!), it couldn't have been a more appropriate school to hold the record for World's Largest Art Lesson! 

The previous record was set by an elementary school in England last year.

As a child during the Prop 13 era, I remember how strongly my mother fought (with other fantastic parents) to help keep the performing and visual arts a part of schools.  As school budgets shrunk, the arts were some of the first big cuts made to schools.  Back then it was ingrained in me how crucial the arts are to a child's education.  I was privileged to be able to participate in countless Broadway style (ok, so it wasn't really Broadway, but to us kids it felt like it!) stage productions like Hello Dolly, Bye Bye Birdie, Lil' Abner and more.  All of those productions were funded by the die hard parent organization that was determined to keep the performing and visual arts a part of childhood. 

Did they form the person who I grew up to be?  Absolutely.  Are the visual and performing arts valuable to raising well rounded kids?  Without a doubt.

Congratulations Lisa J. Mails Elementary School in showing the World how dedicated you are to providing a well rounded education for our children!

(Actual sign in the courtyard garden of Lisa J Mails Elementary School)


Friday, March 2, 2012

Environmentally Friendly Kids Birthday Party

Greening up as many aspects of my life as I can is super important to me.  I'm not ready for drastic changes yet, but I work every day to make small changes whenever possible.

While I was stocking up on supplies for my son's Birthday Party I found these fantastic eco-friendly plates and forks.  I found them at Smart & Final and the prices were only about $1 more per package so it was an easy switch to make!  They are compostable (so excited about this since I am getting ready to get my compost up and running!).  The plates are made from Sugarcane and the forks are made with plant starches so they are made from a renewable source.  They were also super sturdy and without the label no one would have ever known they were so eco-friendly!

Making the Birthday Party more eco-friendly was one more easy step in becoming more green!  The water bottles we used for the kids were also made with less plastic than normal water bottles, but I'd love to find an easy way to make that aspect more eco-friendly too!  I'm thinking that re-usable cups (that would also work as a party favor) with water might be my next step.

What ways have you found to green up aspects of your daily life?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Corn Chowder - Comfort Food for a Tough Week!

This week has flown by in a haze of naps and nausea.  We've been dealing with the stomach flu with the odd cold mixed in.  Next time I'm going to hand out small bottles of hand sanitizer as party favors!!!

Tonight was the first night all week I had any energy to actually cook dinner and I knew I wanted it to be my comfort food - what my mom always made me when I was recovering from being sick.  Her Corn Chowder is one of the recipes I'm so happy I was able to learn how to make from her before she passed away.

I made it tonight and the boys absolutely loved it and I sent some over to my neighbors who are also wrestling with the same stomach flu.

The recipe is super easy to scale up if you need to make more and it's great paired with biscuits or Hawaiian rolls.  To make it interesting I used purple potatoes (you can buy them at Henry's) and it added a cool element.

Mom’s Corn Chowder
Ingredients:½ pound bacon, cut-up
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
2 stalks celery, (chopped about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (skim is okay)
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (17 ounces) cream-style corn, kernel corn is also fine
2 cups cooked potatoes (* see below)
Snipped parsley

Directions:Cook bacon in 3 quart saucepan until crisp; drain, reserving 3 tablespoons fat in saucepan. Cook and stir onion and celery in bacon fat until onion is tender; remove from heat. Stir in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in salt, pepper, corn and potatoes; heat through. Be sure to let boil until the chowder is thick as it is better that way! Stir in bacon. Sprinkle each serving with parsley and paprika if you desire.

*Mom would use a portion of the bacon fat to cook the potatoes, that had been cut in to about 1/2 inch square cubes until tender. Cut the potato as if you are making fries, then cut each strip in to squares before cooking.

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