Monday, November 8, 2010

A Season For Change

Daylight Savings Time & shorter days + 30 degree weather & rain/sleet/snow outside = me wanting to stay wrapped up in a blanket all day. 

This was kind of a blessing in disguise though, as I've been meaning to update my blog for quite a while.  You may notice I've uploaded a few more babywearing videos.  I've also added "pages" to my blog (Attachment Parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, and Natural Childbirth) and a cool little feature that suggests other blog posts you might enjoy.  Hopefully this will make my blog a little easier to navigate and make it a better Attachment Parenting resource.

P.S. If anyone knows how to center the tabs for the pages I created, please fill me in!  I hate having it off-centered!!  Maybe I need to just come up with one more page topic...

How to Wear Your Toddler: the Hip Carry (using the Sling Tie)

Here's probably the quickest way to wear your child in a baby wrap.  In my experience, this isn't the most comfortable way to wear your child, and probably not the best choice if you have a super squirmy little one.  It is great for when you need to quickly run into the store though!  Again, I probably wouldn't use this carry for a baby under 9 months of age or one who can't sit safely on her own.

How to Tie a Baby Wrap: The Sling Tie

One of the things I love most about baby wraps is how versatile they are.  Here's a quick and easy way to tie your baby wrap into a sling. This works great for carrying a toddler in a hip carry. (I would not use this carry for a baby under 9 months of age.)

A couple of important tips for the sling tie...  Make sure when you tie your wrap that the fabric doesn't twist or bunch, as this will cause uncomfortable pressure points.  Also, make sure the fabric is spread wide across the shoulder to help distribute the toddler's weight.



Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Wear Your Toddler: Quick & Easy Tie with Hug Hold

This is the tie I use when I'm out running errands and my toddler has fallen asleep in her carseat. The wrap I use is about 10 - 12 inches shorter than my other wraps, which is great because the ends don't drag on the ground when I tie it. It's also nice in the summer because you don't have as much fabric wrapped around you and your baby. This wrap is best with older babies or toddlers, because it's not as supportive as the Basic Baby Pouch.  Notice that I demonstrate how to tie the wrap and place my toddler in the wrap in less than 90 seconds (and it would probably take less than 60 seconds if I wasn't trying to perfectly demonstrate what I was doing), so this tie is great for those who may think using a baby wrap takes too long.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

New babywearing videos!

I recorded a few videos on ways to wear a toddler in a baby wrap about a month ago, and I FINALLY got a chance to edit them.  (I have to use my hubby's computer to edit them and it seemed like when ever I had the time available for editing, the hubby was either not home or he was using his computer.)  I was able to upload one, but for some reason now I can get any more to upload.  Hopefully the hubby can help me upload the videos in the morning!

Anyway, I once I get all the videos uploaded, I hope they show that wearing your toddler can be comfortable and convenient.  Baby wearing is NOT just for babies!  I've found that wearing my toddler is the best way to keep her happy and close by when we're shopping. (She usually refuses to sit in the shopping cart.)  It's also super convenient because if we're out at nap time, she just nurses herself to sleep while I shop.  I really don't think I could survive without my babywraps!

How to Wear Your Toddler: The Hug Hold

This video shows how to wear your toddler in a Hug Hold with your baby wrap tied in a Basic Baby Pouch.  I think this hold is the most comfortable way to wear your toddler, and is especially good if you have a squirmer, because it's very supportive.

video

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to make 3 baby wraps out of a 60" wide piece of fabric

In my tutorial on how to make a baby wrap, I used a 45" wide piece of fabric.   If you buy a 60" wide piece of fabric, it can be a little more difficult to cut, but usually more cost effective because you end up with three baby wraps instead of two.  Check out this great tutorial on how to make baby wraps out of a 60" wide piece of fabric.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Wear Your Baby: Infant Hug Hold

This video demonstrates the Infant Hug Hold.  This type of hold works best with older babies, who can support their own heads.  Please refer to the safety tips on the "Newborn Cradle Hold," as they all apply to this type of hold as well.

video

How to Wear Your Baby: Newborn Cradle Hold

Here is a video demonstrating the Newborn Cradle Hold.  This is the most common way I wore my baby for the first 3 months, and we still use this type of carry now when she wants to nurse or sleep.  A couple of key things to keep in mind when wearing your baby in this type of hold:

  • Make sure your baby's airway remains open.  If your baby slumps down low, with her chin against her chest, her airway can become compromised.  In the cradle hold, the baby should look just like when she is cradled in your arms.
  • Keep the baby's head high, next to your shoulder.  You should be able to kiss your baby's forehead by simply dropping your chin (without stretching).  This will help ensure that the baby's airway remains open, and that you can hear your baby breathing.
  • Make sure the baby's bottom sits at navel level or higher.  If the baby sits too low, she is more likely to become slumped and have her airway compromised.  Also, it will probably be uncomfortable for you because after a while you will feel strain in your back and shoulders.
  • Finally, to make sure the wrap is comfortable for you, make sure the fabric is spread wide across your back and wide over your shoulders.
video

How to Tie a Baby Wrap: The Basic Baby Pouch

At long last, I've completed my tutorial on how to tie the Basic Baby Pouch (BBP).  It's not perfect, but I've spent too long trying to make a perfect video, and finally realized that this is as good as it's gonna get :)  Stay tuned for more tutorials on ways to "wear" your baby in the BBP, as well as other ways to tie your baby wrap.

video

Monday, August 23, 2010

In case you're starting to think I'm the biggest slacker on the planet...

I really had good intentions of uploading videos of my favorite ways to wear my baby/toddler when I got back from Idaho last week, but we ran into a small problem... My hubby left his memory card in his parents computer in Idaho.  He ordered a new one, but the website he ordered from had a 5-year old address on file, so we just found out today that it was returned to the retailer "undeliverable as addressed" :(  As soon as we get a memory card, I promise to make those videos!  In the meantime, I discovered a great Facebook page dedicated to babywearing safety.

(This is NOT a good demonstration of a safely tied baby wrap, but I thought it was kinda cute anyway!)


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Make a Baby Wrap! (A.K.A. Moby Wrap)

So I've been promising for weeks to upload a tutorial on how to make a baby wrap.  I've finally finished taking and editing photos of the process (making a wrap is really SO SIMPLE... I can't believe it's taken me this long, but life with a toddler is full of interruptions! :)  Anyway, without further ado, here's my advice on how to make a baby wrap...

STEP 1:  Choose your fabric

There are several things to consider when choosing your fabric, such as how thick and warm, or light and breathable, or how stretchy or taught you want it.  I have experimented with several different types of fabric, and here is what I've found:

100% cotton knit:  Cotton knits don't have much stretch.  This is can be a good thing if you're wearing a heavy toddler, because the fabric "gives" less and is more supportive.  On the flip side, the less it gives, the less comfortable it tends to be.  Another great thing about 100% cotton though is that it is very light and breathable.  I tend to use my 100% cotton wraps in the summer.

100% cotton gauze:  I personally haven't made a gauze wrap, but a friend from La Leche League made one because she said it is the most breathable fabric you can use for a wrap.  In her opinion, gauze is great because you can even wear it in the water.  The drawbacks to gauze is that it's not as stretchy or comfortable as some other fabrics, and you also have to finish the edge with a surger (which I don't have).

95% cotton, 5% spandex knit:  In my opinion, this is the most comfortable fabric.  It has the perfect amount of stretch to be supportive, yet comfortable.  The only drawback is that it is generally pretty thick and can be really hot in the summer.  However, I've found that the cotton/spandex rib knits are lighter and more breathable than the standard cotton/spandex knit.

60% cotton, 40% polyester:  This fabric is softer than 100% cotton, but not as stretchy as a cotton/spandex blend.  It's also more breathable than some cotton/spandex blend fabrics, but I'd have to say that overall it's probably my least favorite fabric to use.

STEP 2:  Determine how much fabric you need

The first wrap I ever used was a Sleepy Wrap, which is 5.5 yards long and 20 inches wide.  I found that the width was great, but it was a little long.  Moby Wraps are even longer... according to different search results I found online, Moby wraps are between 6 and 6.5 yards long and between 24 and 30 inches wide.  That's a LOT of fabric in my opinion.  It's no wonder so many people feel that Moby Wraps are difficult to tie and uncomfortable to wear!

I've found that for me, 5 yards long is the perfect length, and that 20 - 23 inches wide is the proper width. (To give you a frame of reference for determining how much fabric you might need, I'm about 5' 3" and usually wear a size 4.)  The width of the fabric I use varies depending on how wide the bolt of fabric is.  Bolts of fabric are usually 45" or 60" wide, so if I get one that is 45" wide, I cut it in half and if I get one that's 60" wide, I cut it in thirds.

STEP 3:  Fold and cut

This part is really simple, but I took some pictures, since I sometimes have a hard time explaining things... 

Fold the fabric in half, length-wise. (Yes, my craft room is tiny... I guess it's not much longer than about 2.5 yards, which is why you see the arm of the chair I'm standing on.)


(Notice that this fabric is 45" wide)


There should be a crease thru the middle of the fabric, where it was folded in half and wrapped around the bolt. 

Cut along the crease until you have 2 pieces of fabric that are 5 yards long (or however long you need).


This next step is optional... There will probably be a funny edge along the outside edge of the fabric with little holes in it.  I cut this off so that both sides of the fabric have the same style edge. (That style being, roughly-cut-by-dull-scissors style.)


(And please don't pay attention to the gross, cheap carpet... we're replacing it with wood soon!)

Next, you'll want to take one of the wraps and fold it in half length wise, then fold it in half again.  (So for me, that leaves me with a pile of fabric a little over a yard long.)
 

On the top of your fabric pile you should have what will be the two tail-ends of your baby wrap.  If you don't want to feel a little "thick in the middle", I recommend tapering these two ends.  
 

I do this by sliding a cutting mat underneath the ends (and on top of what will be the middle of your baby wrap) and marking the middle of the width of the fabric on the tail-end.  I line up my yard stick (mine isn't quite a yard) with the mark on the tail end and angle it towards the opposite end of the fabric.  Since my yard stick isn't quite long enough, I have to draw the first half of my line, then move the ruler to the opposite end of the fabric to finish off the line. 
 

Do the same thing on the other end, so that when you're done you have a nice little triangle.
 
(It helps if you have a toddler who likes to color... and if you use washable marker!)
 
Now, just cut along your lines.

 

I like to cut both ends together so that they are the same, or at least close to it.

STEP 4:  Optional finishing touches

It is helpful to to have a quick and easy way to find the center of your wrap.  I've done a few different things...

Make a loop from a scrap of ribbon, folded in half and sewn straight across:

This is great, because you can hang the wrap from a hook by the loop.  It's also a quick and easy way to be able to find the middle of your wrap.

You can sew a big pocket across the back of your wrap.

This is nice because it adds a bit of detail to the wrap.  You could also put a couple of diapers in the pouch, so that you wouldn't have to carry a diaper.  A word of advice though... I found that this particular pocket is WAY TOO BIG!  It took away too much of the stretch in part of the wrap you want the stretchiest, and diapers and cell phones get lost in a pocket this big.  I think it's best if the pocket is about as wide as your child's back.  Also, I sewed a smaller pocket inside the big pocket so that my phone wouldn't get lost.

My preferred type of pocket is a small one on the inside of the wrap, like this one:

After making this one though, I discovered two things:  

1) you need a flap on the top of your pocket to keep your phone from falling out


2) it helps if the pocket fabric is a different color from the wrap itself so that it doesn't blend in and so you can quickly find the middle of your wrap.

(I just realized this is a horrible picture, because the pocket doesn't blend in with the wrap, but the wrap blends in with the table!)

A few final thoughts...

I've noticed that Joann frequently has their knit fabrics on sale for around $4 a yard, so you should be able to make 2 to 3 wraps for $20 - $30 (depending on how many yards of fabric you need, and whether you get a 45" or 60" bolt).  Where I live, Joann doesn't carry 100% cotton knit fabric... I have to go to Hobby Lobby for that.  Hobby Lobby, however, doesn't seem to carry cotton-spandex blend knits... I have to go to Joann for that.

I use different types of fabric depending on the weather and the way I'm going to tie my wrap.  I have uploaded a few of my favorite ways to wear my baby and my toddler on my youtube channel.  For more tips, tricks, and how-to's on baby wraps, check out bobafamily.com (formerly SleepyWrap) and gypsymama.com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Am I Normal?

I'm sure there are many things I do, or beliefs I have that are not considered "normal"... especially when it comes to parenting.  However, I do think I'm normal in my desire to do what I feel is right for my child and to have some sort of validation that my parenting instincts are ok (i.e. not harmful or detrimental to my child's well being).

This is my first go at this parenting thing, and over the past few months I've been feeling a bit of pressure to change the way we parent our daughter at night.  You see, until about a month ago our little girl had spent every night in bed with us, and she has yet to "sleep through the night".  I have nursed her to sleep almost every night, and she still nurses all through the night.  This normally isn't a problem... I feel like I get plenty of sleep and my husband and I love cuddling with our daughter all night.  But my midwife had mentioned that I may need to night-wean her in order to get pregnant again, and my sweet husband was feeling like we needed to have a romantic getaway.

While the thought of having a romantic getaway sounded wonderful, I couldn't help but worry about how my toddler would handle it.  I seriously couldn't fathom spending even 24 hours apart, since we had rarely been separated for more than a couple of hours.  However, I figured if I was going to have to night wean in order to get pregnant anyway, I had better make some changes to our bedtime routine. 

So we started having daddy try to rock her to bed, but that made everyone miserable... all she wanted was her mommy, and it broke our hearts to hear her scream and cry herself to sleep.  One night we even left her with grandma, thinking it would be a good trial run for a weekend away.  My mom was so sweet and agreed to let our little girl sleep with her all night.  She said it went ok... our little munchkin fell asleep watching a movie and only woke up once during the night... but the 12 hours I was away from her was SO HARD! 

I noticed that she seemed more clingy and anxious after these "trial runs" with daddy and grandma... she got to the point where she didn't want to cuddle with daddy at night, because she was afraid that meant mommy was leaving.  We finally decided she's not ready and it's just not worth it to try and leave her overnight.

But this past weekend, when my hubby went to Vegas alone, for what was supposed to be a couples retreat with friends, I couldn't help but feel a little guilty and wonder if I was really doing what was best.  Then I stumbled upon these two articles:  "Mother-Toddler Separation," by Dr. George Wootan, M.D. and "When (& how) to leave children at night" by Hobo Mama (another mommy blogger).  I'm pretty sure those were messages sent from above, because the wisdom and advice in those two articles were exactly what I needed at that time!

I found it very interesting that Dr. Wootan wrote "the need for mother is as strong in a toddler as the need for food, and that there is no substitute for mother. When he’s tired, hurt, or upset, he needs his mother for comfort and security."  He also recommended, "A mother shouldn’t leave her child until about the age of three, when he has developed some concept of time. You’ll know this has begun to happen when he understands what “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” and “this afternoon” mean, and when your child voluntarily begins to spend more time away from you on his own accord."  Now, I realize that is a BOLD statement, and a recommendation that not everyone can possibly follow.  But it is a recommendation I can follow, and I'm happy to follow these doctor's orders!

So no, I'm probably not normal, and the way we've chosen to parent our child probably isn't considered normal by most people.  But I take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone.  There are other parents who believe that co-sleeping and nursing a toddler all night is perfectly ok and even GOOD for the child... who recognize that it can be traumatic for a toddler to be separated from her mother and that it's good for mother and child to be together as much as possible.  I also recognize that every parent and child is different, and has their different personal space needs.  But I think I'm finally comfortable with the fact that my little girl and I are VERY attached to each other and I'm not afraid to admit that I LOVE IT that way! :)



P.S.  As a side note... this week, after two and a half years, I finally got a visit from "Aunt Flow" so it looks like we're not going to have to night wean after all :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

"When Breastfeeding isn't Easy"

I'm afraid I came across as a little zealous and unsympathetic in some of the things I wrote last week regarding breastfeeding.  I know that breastfeeding can be challenging, but it is important and worth the effort.  For those of you who have struggled with breastfeeding, you may find this article encouraging... When Breastfeeding isn't Easy.

And if you are struggling with problems such as sore nipples, low milk supply, or mastitis, you may want to check out the Breastfeeding Support Kit by Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics.  I personally haven't tried these products myself, but I've heard great things about them.  Whole Foods and Babies R Us carry Earth Mama Angel Baby products, and you can find other local retailers on the EMAB website.

Best of luck and happy nursing!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

World Breasfeeding Week!

About a week ago I was visiting my local La Leche League’s blog and noticed that the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week. I had never heard of such a thing, and thought that was great, but kind of wondered what had inspired such an event. Then I stumbled upon this blog post by Kristen Marie Toutges on Mothering.com and suddenly realized how important it is that we raise awareness and support of breastfeeding. Not only is it NORMAL for human babies to drink milk produced by their own species, it truly is the best form of nutrition for our babies!

Now before anyone gets offended… yes, I realize there are people who truly, for medical reasons, cannot breast feed. My heart aches for those mommies and babies. But I also believe that many women would be able to breastfeed successfully if they had more information and support. As my friend Caroline put it, “It seems like so many women give up on breastfeeding before they even give it a chance!”

I have tremendous respect for Caroline, because breastfeeding did not come easy for her. She overcame many obstacles… sore nipples, improper latch, you name it… but she stuck with it, and with the information and support from La Leche League she was able to successfully nurse her son until he weaned himself at 17 months.

But Caroline is definitely an exception. Most mothers give up all too quickly if their first attempts at breastfeeding are unsuccessful. According to the article “Case closed: Breast is best,” and written by Peggy O’Mara and published in the May/ June 2009 issue of Mothering magazine, data collected by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that “while74.2 percent of US mothers initiated breastfeeding in 2005, only 11.9 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at six months.” Keep in mind that six months of exclusive breastfeeding is the absolute minimum length of time recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and according to O’Mara it is also the recommendation of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Blueprint For Action on Breastfeeding in Europe, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the International Pediatric Association, to name a few! According to O’Mara, “Data from 86 countries indicate that the US is among only ten countries with breastfeeding initiation rates lower than 85 percent; 70 of the 86 countries have breastfeeding initiation rates at or over 90 percent.” Is it just me or are those statistics alarming?

Much of the valuable information in O’Mara’s article was written to refute some of misinformation in the article “The Case Against Breast-Feeding,” written by Hanna Rosin and published in the April 2009 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. In her article, Rosin made such bold, ignorant statements as “all the talk about the benefits of breastfeeding is just ‘magical thinking’” and that we have a “national obsession with breast milk as a liquid vaccine.” In response, Peggy cited “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries,” an extensive and thorough study published in 2007. According to the medical literature reviewed in this study, children who have been breastfed have reduced risks of contracting the following:

  • Acute otitis media (middle ear infection)
  • Nonspecific gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in diarrhea)
  • Severe infections of the lower respiratory tract (such as RSV)
  • Atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema)
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

And babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding. The study also found that women who breastfed have reduced risks of the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Postpartum depression

Is that to say that no woman who has breastfed has experienced postpartum depression or no child who has breastfed has ever gotten an ear infection? Definitely not!! But if you could reduce all those risks, while at the same time saving yourself a small fortune in the cost of formula, why wouldn’t you?
Some people argue that it’s too inconvenient and time-consuming. It’s true that formula keeps babies full longer, and that it’s socially acceptable to bottle feed at anytime in any place. However, I found that there was nothing more convenient than having prepared liquid nutrition available at any time that didn’t take up any extra room in my diaper bag. By wearing my baby in a baby wrap while I was out grocery shopping or at home vacuuming and doing laundry, I was able to nurse hands free, and discreetly!
(Here’s a picture of my toddler having breakfast as we were waiting to march in a parade with our local chapter of MOMS Club International.)

Now that I’m nursing a toddler, I’m often asked how long I intend to breastfeed. My views on the subject are in accordance with what WHO, UNICEF, and (of course, my favorite doctor) Dr. Sears, recommend: As long as it is mutually enjoyable.
Ideally, I would like to let my daughter wean herself, as the research I have done indicates that is the best option for her emotional stability and security. I’m sure the majority of the people out there think I’m a weirdo for nursing a toddler, but for good or bad, I tend not to worry too much about what other people think! It was comforting though, to read this article by Diane Wiessinger at http://www.normalfed.com/ which states:
IF YOUR CHILD WEANS WHEN SHE IS READY, you can feel confident that you have met your baby's physical and emotional needs in the most normal, healthy way. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to nurse for at least two years. The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly encourage breastfeeding through toddlerhood: "Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child's second year of life." Our biology seems geared to a weaning age of between 2 1/2 and 7 years, and it just makes sense to build our children's bones from the milk that was designed for them. Your milk provides antibodies and other protective substances for as long as you continue nursing, and families of nursing toddlers often find that their medical bills are lower than their neighbors' for years to come. Research indicates that the longer a child nurses, the higher his intelligence. Mothers who nurse long-term have a still lower risk of developing breast cancer. Children who were nursed long-term tend to be very secure, and are less likely to suck their thumbs or carry a blanket. Nursing can help ease both of you through the tears, tantrums, and tumbles that come with early childhood, and helps ensure that any illnesses are milder and easier to deal with. It's an all-purpose mothering tool you won't want to be without! Don't worry that your child will nurse forever. All children stop on their own, no matter what you do, and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess.
Again, my goal in writing this is not to make mothers feel guilty if they truly cannot breastfeed, but to encourage mothers to sincerely try to breastfeed for as long as possible. If I can help at least one mother to make it to that critical 6 month mark, it will be worth the chance that I may offend someone by what I have written.

I would suggest that every new mom attend a few La Leche League meetings before giving birth, so that she can be better prepared when first attempting to breastfeed. It is important to have a basic idea of how to make sure your baby is attached properly (to minimize nipple soreness and maximize milk flow) and how to know that your baby is getting enough milk (so you don’t let well-meaning doctors freak you out when the tell you the exact number of ounces of milk a baby should be consuming and how many hours apart feedings should be). Also, should you need assistance once your baby is born, La Leche League has trained lactation consultants available by phone 24 hours a day, at no cost.

So this World Breastfeeding Week, I’m going to be “loud and proud” in my support of breastfeeding and I encourage you to as well!  Don't go hide in a dirty bathroom stall to feed your baby... the only way our society is going to become more comfortable with and supportive of breastfeeding is if we stop hiding it. (Not that I'm saying you need to actually expose your breast for the whole world to see... there are discreet ways to nurse in public.)  Let's not be ashamed of using our breasts for their intended purpose.  Let's do our part, not just to raise awareness of breastfeeding, but to help breastfeeding become the "norm" in our society!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Evidence of my coupon obsession...

For those of you who may not know, I'm one of those crazy coupon ladies. I can't help myself... the euphoria that sets over me when I see a receipt showing 70 - 80% savings is kind of addictive! And I love having a hobby that saves -- rather than costs -- me money!!

I've used coupons for as long as I can remember. I always had one of those wallet-sized coupon organizers in my car or my bag. It was nice saving 50 cents here or a dollar or two there, but when I decided I wanted to quit my job to stay home full-time with my baby, I realized that I had to find a way to save more if we were going to be making less.

I used to watch the news every morning as I would get ready, and they had a segment each week in which a "coupon guru" would highlight the best deals of the week. I had seen the Smiths and Albertsons ads had "Buy 10, Save $5" promotions, but I figured they were a gimmick and would force you to spend more. But the coupon guru showed how combining coupons with sales and promotions could save you 50 - 70% off your bill.

It sounded like a great way to save money, so I started printing online coupons and scouring the ads... putting about an hour a day into clipping coupons and planning my shopping trips. (Fortunately, I had a baby who slept a lot, so I had a lot of extra time.) I was saving a lot, but I was also spending most of my free time clipping coupons and shopping!

As my little one got a little older, she started to grab at my coupons when we were out shopping and would fuss if we were out too long. Suddenly, spending all day trying to get the best deals wasn’t working, and I started to get frustrated and discouraged. That's when a friend of mine told me about Money Saving Mom. Right away I loved this blog! Not only did this mom sing praises of the book Miserly Moms (the book that convinced me it was possible to lose half our income and still survive), but she provided detailed information about how to get the best deals at Target, Walgreens, and Kroger stores. Thru her blog, I also found the local Utah blogs, Utah Deal Diva and Pinching Your Pennies. (For my out of state friends, Pinching Your Pennies also provides detailed information about the best deals at grocery stores in Idaho, Nevada, California, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Wyoming.)

Nowadays, I spend an hour a week clipping and organizing coupons and about an hour planning my shopping trips. (Planning what you are going to buy before you set foot in the grocery store will save you TONS of time and money!) I usually go shopping Sunday and Wednesday mornings and try not to go to more than two stores each day (still working on this one... sometimes the temptation to get amazing deals at more than two stores is just too great!)

Today I went to Smiths and Rite-Aid. Here's a picture of what I bought at Smith’s:


Smith’s was running a special coupon promotion where they rounded all coupons up to $1. I tried to take a picture of the receipt, but obviously it didn't work. My total before coupons was $24.01, but I only paid $3.77! That represents 84% savings!! So how did I do it? Here's a breakdown:

  • Safeguard hand soap: $1, used a $.50 coupon (rounded to $1) plus used a $.50 P&G e-coupon I loaded on to my Fresh Values card - FREE plus 50 cents overage!!
  • Crest Toothpaste: $1, used a $.75 coupon (rounded to $1) - FREE!
  • Old Spice body wash: $2.99, part of a Proctor and Gamble promotion that gave you $1 off per item if you bought 4 items, also had a buy-one-get-one free coupon and a $1 off 2 coupon - both FREE!
  • Gillette body wash: $2.99, also part of the P&G promotion that gave $1 off each item, plus used a $2 coupon - FREE!
  • Lady Speed Stick: $.88, used a $.50 coupon (rounded to $.88) - FREE!
  • Bounty Basic Paper Towel: $1.09, used a $.25 coupon, which was rounded up to $1 - paid .09 each
  • 2 dozen large eggs: $1.19, on sale for $.79 each
  • Smiths cottage bread: $1.50 (the only item not on sale or eligible for coupon savings, but a great deal anyway!)

Now, lest you think I save 84% every time I shop, let's take a look at a more typical shopping trip... today's trip to Rite Aid.

I would have liked to have gone to Rite Aid on Sunday morning (that’s when their new ad starts), but the closest Rite Aid is about 10 miles from my house, and unless I'm going to MAKE at least $5 from shopping there, I'm not willing to go out of my way. (As a side note, I was able to make $11 last month from one shopping trip to Rite Aid! :-) I knew I had to go downtown today, and the downtown Rite Aid doesn't have as many coupon shoppers anyway, so I wasn't worried about them being sold out of everything by this morning. Luckily, the only deal I wasn't able to take advantage of was the Nivea Body Wash, which would have been free plus $1 overage. But I'm not sweatin' it, because (as you can see from the picture above) I'm well stocked on body wash!

So here's what I got:


I had to do 2 separate transactions, in order to maximize my coupons, but business was slow and the sweet cashier was more than happy to do so. The total for my first transaction came to $26.61, and after coupons and UP Rewards (a Rite Aid coupon printed at the bottom of the receipt, and good towards your next shopping trip), the total was $10.21 (62% savings). Here's the breakdown:

  • Luvs diapers: $16.99, used a $2.50 coupon and received a $2 UP Reward - final price: $12.49**
  • Raisen Bran: 2 for $4, used a $1 coupon and received a $1 UP Reward - final price: $2 for both**
  • Soft Soap hand soap: $1, used a $.50 coupon - final price: $.50**
  • Colgate toothpaste: $3, used a $1 coupon and received $3 UP Rewards - final price: FREE plus $1 overage!
**I also used a Rite Aid coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase that I received for registering my UP Rewards account online. This is why my final total was less than these three items combined.

The total for my second transaction came to $26.35, and after coupons, UP Rewards, and a rebate the total came to $7.35 (72% savings). The only thing different in this transaction than the last was that instead of buying the Raisen Bran, I bought a Reach toothbrush. It was on sale for $3.99 and Rite Aid was offering a $3 rebate and a $1 UP Reward. This made it free, but I also had a coupon for $1 off, so I ended up making money from buying the toothbrush! My hubby and I actually prefer using spin brushes, but homeless shelters are always in need of toothbrushes so I will gladly donate the toothbrush I made $1 off of. :-)

Well, hopefully that gives you all a better understanding of why I love coupons so much! Despite what you may have heard, you can actually save TONS of money with coupons and coupons are NOT just for processed junk foods!

Speaking of food, you may be wondering what we're eating this week, since the only thing edible in the pictures above are the eggs and bread. My neighbors have amazing gardens and have been keeping my crisper full of veggies. I stocked up on meat and fruits at Sunflower Farmers Market last week, and I bought milk, yogurt, cheese, and granola bars on my Sunday shopping trip (saved 76% on that trip!) I'll try and highlight one of my food shopping trips next week, but until then... go clip some coupons!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Looks like I'm heading to the library in the morning!

I just discovered that Dr. Momma from the Peaceful Parenting blog has a store on Amazon.com with twelve pages of books she recommends!  A few of the ones I'm going to be looking for at the library are Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain , The Baby Bond: The New Science Behind What's Really Important When Caring for Your Baby, and The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution: Gentle Ways to Make Good-bye Easy from Six Months to Six Years (a topic I'm desperate to learn about right now!).  Now all I need is a book recommendation for how to find time to read while raising an active toddler and/or how to speed read!

FINALLY...

I have joined the world of mommy bloggers!  I have been wanting to start a blog for quite some time... not because I especially enjoy writing or feel that I have much of a knack for it (you may want to stop reading now if you're hoping for one of those "witty", funny blogs), but because I wanted a place to share some of the things I have learned (and am currently learning) as a new mom.

I would have to say that my "go to" resource as a new mom is definitely The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears.  I can't remember how I originally stumbled upon this book, but coincidentally, I was reading the book at my in-laws house during my first pregnancy and my mother-in-law said "Oh, I love that book!  Dr. Sears was {my hubby's} pediatrician!"  I'm so grateful that my MIL is a Dr. Sears lover, because his methods are a little controversial and it's wonderful to have family support rather than scorn when it comes to the way we parent our little munchkin. 

We believe that a child won't be "spoiled" by being held too much; rather "Spoiling is what happens when you leave something (or some person) alone on the shelf -- it spoils." (Sears, 195)  I am a strong advocate of baby wearing.  It made adjusting to life as a new mom even easier than I expected, because I was able to get back in to the swing of things so quickly.  My baby would sleep and nurse in the baby wrap while I did dishes, vacuumed, and went shopping.  Even now, at 21 months, I normally carry my daughter in a baby wrap rather than pushing her in a cart or a stroller.  (I plan to upload some tutorials on how to make and use a baby wrap, but in the mean time please visit http://www.gypsymama.com/using.htm for some wonderful video tutorials.)

We also strongly believe in co-sleeping and we love our family bed.  As a new mom I never suffered the lack of sleep I had heard so many horror stories about, and I believe it is because of our choice to co-sleep.  Sure, I had to wake up a few times a night with my newborn to nurse her and change her but I kept a diaper caddy next to my bed so I never had to leave my bed until morning.  Babies sleep safely with their parents all over the world, and The Baby Book offers much advice on how to do so SAFELY!  I've heard many friends say they're worried their baby will never want to sleep alone if they co-sleep as a baby, and while that's a bridge we haven't come to yet, I'm confident our munchkin won't be sleeping with us when she graduates high school.  The Sears family successfully "weaned" six children from their bed, and my in-laws did as well, so when the time comes I know I'll have some great sources of advice and support. (And I'll be sure to blog about it too!)

Baby wearing and co-sleeping are just a couple of the aspects of attachment parenting I plan to write about on this blog.  I definitely don't think I'm an expert in any of these areas, but I hope to be able to share my experiences, as well as provide links to articles and blogs written by REAL experts, in an effort to help other new parents who would like to learn more about attachment parenting.

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