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Monday, October 4, 2010

Inspired By Finn Amber GIVEAWAY **CLOSED

**Giveaway closed, congratulations Tyson!

As I mentioned before, we got little man an amber necklace to help with teething.  Somewhere between 2-3 weeks in we noticed an incredible difference.  He was significantly less fussy, less drooly, and all around happier!  And did I mention super cute?!

I have been hearing more and more amazing benefits to Amber, including treatment of  general aches and pains, reducing inflammation, arthritis treatment, increasing energy, and even sensory issues.  When Amber is worn close to the skin, the body's warmth heats up the Amber and releases succinic acid healing oils.  Click here to read fascinating testimonials!

Inspired By Finn has been gracious enough to offer one of my followers a FREE piece of jewelry, 16" or smaller.  Woot woot!  Here's how to win:

Mandatory entry: "Like" Inspired by Finn on Facebook and become a follower of A Natural Transition.  Leave a comment telling me you did these things.  Also leave your email address so I know how to contact you if you win!  

Extra entries (more chances to win!):
  • Visit Inspired by Finn and leave a comment with what piece of jewelry you would like to win
  • Leave a comment with a link to your favorite "mommy blog"
  • Put a link to this giveaway on your facebook page
  • Tweet about this giveaway (please leave me a link)
  • Purchase something from Inspired By Finn
  • Leave a comment with something else Amber can be helpful for that I didn't mention
*Please leave a separate comment for each entry
**Winner will be drawn via at approximately 10pm central time on 10/17/2010
***Winner will be notified immediately and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another winner will   be drawn
****Winner's shipping info and and jewelry choice will be forwarded to Inspired by Finn and will be shipped directly from them

Here are a few current promotions/discounts from Inspired By Finn:

TO SAVE 20% on an order with us, join us by clicking the "Like" button toward the top of our "Wall" tab.

TO SAVE 25%, join us by clicking the "Like" button + use the "Suggest to Friends" link near the top left of this "Wall" tab to suggest this page to your Facebook friends.

The discount code is entered/applied during checkout, and the discount is given off of prices on our website -

The codes to use once you have completed the criteria above -

To save 20%: FB20
To save 25%: FB25
Fine Print: The views on this blog are my own, and I was not compensated in any way by Inspired by Finn.  
Little man showing off his Amber:


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homemade Baby Food Makin'

We've been amazed at how much money we save by making our own baby food...we figure it is close to 15x more expensive to buy Gerber jars.  We have also found it to be super easy, and FUN!  There are many different ways to make it, but these are the "tools" that we use:
  • Food Processor
  • Super cheap steamer basket that sits in a pot w/a lid
  • Ice cube trays with lids (We use Fresh Baby)
  • Freezer bags
So far, little man has only had one jar of Gerber food.  Oddly was the one meal he refused to eat!  It was peas.  A couple of days later we offered him our homemade baby peas, and he scarfed them down like nobody's business.  Interesting stuff!

The cooking: Baking or steaming fruits and veggies are probably the two best choices for preserving nutrients. We tend to steam just long enough to soften the food up a bit, then run them through the food processor.  You can add a little breast milk while pureeing, but note that you shouldn't use frozen milk for this and then refreeze.  Either use fresh milk or freeze the food without any milk and add milk after the food is thawed. 

The freezing: After pureeing, just spoon the food into your ice cube trays.  When they're frozen, pop them out into a freezer bag and label with date and type of food!  The trays can run through the dishwasher, and you are ready to go for another round of goodness.

The thawing: The safest method is probably to take a couple of cubes out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge overnight.  You can also run the bag of cubes under cool-warmish (not hot) water.  If you are comfortable microwaving, you can certainly thaw them that way.

Most of the foods we have made so far are fairly basic, since our little man has only been on solids for one month.  We did introduce spinach, egg yolk, and chicken this weekend, though!  Here's how.  The spinach: We took raw spinach leaves and steamed them until they looked wilted.  Tossed in the food processor and ready to rock!  The egg yolk: We hard boiled eggs and popped the yolk out (babies under 1 year should not have egg whites according to many).  We mashed the yolk up with a fork and mixed it with applesauce.  I realize this sounds disgusting to most adults, but he LOVED it!  The chicken: we cooked chicken all day in a slow cooker with nothing but water and carrots.  Pureed the shredded chicken with carrots and breast milk!  He loved this, too...but the texture was a little gritty.  Next time I will use more veggies with it, I think.

I will be adding more recipes as we try them out.  In the mean time, check out for great meal ideas, tips, and other homemade baby food resources!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coconut Oil

One of the challenges we discovered when we started cloth diapering was the fact that most diaper creams on the market are not "cloth diaper safe."  Using these creams with cloth diapers will cause the cloth diapers to repel moisture rather than absorb it.  Not good.

After some good old fashioned research, I read that some people have good luck using coconut oil as a rash cream.  Loving the natural idea of this, we picked some up from a local natural food store.  We bought a large peanut butter sized jar for about $10.  I was surprised to find it is thick, almost like a salve (it turns liquid when heated). 

Love, love, love it!  Works just as good or better as any of the rash creams we have tried.  Bonus: it doesn't cause little man's diapers to leak all over the place!   Along the way we have discovered many other wonderful uses for it:
  • Skin care: does wonders for cradle cap/dandruff, dry/cracked skin, and even wrinkles (so I hear)
  • Healthy cooking
  • Hair conditioner
  • First aid:  speeds up the healing of bruises and protects cuts/scrapes from bacteria 
  • Arthritis treatment

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Babywearing: More than just convenient!

I purchased my first baby carrier long before I discovered Attachment Parenting.  Admittedly, it was out of complete frustration that I was unable to put my baby down to do ANYTHING.  He mostly flat out refused to be set down for the first three months of his life.  As much as it would be great to cuddle all day...there are things that just plain need to get done!  Hearing good things about Hotslings, I purchased the first one I found that resembled it.  It was a Jelly Bean pouch sling by Munchkin.

My first attempt at getting him in it ended up with both of us crying.  After a couple hours of much needed sleep we tried again...and it was magic!  My fussy baby transformed into an easy going, happy little peanut before my very eyes.  Not to mention...the heaping piles of laundry and dishes were GONE!  Why didn't I do this sooner?!
It's pretty apparent that babywearing is convenient for mamas (and Dads!).  It's also incredibly beneficial for babies!  Here are just a few wonderful things babywearing does for babies:
  • It provides an optimal learning environment.  Babies in carriers spend more time in a quiet state of alertness.  They are at the adult's level (not way down on the floor or in a stroller).  They hear more, see more, and feel more a part of the world!
  • It comforts them.  It creates an environment really similar to the womb...rythmic motions, mom's heartbeat, swaddle-like feeling.  Several studies show that children who were "worn" grow up to be more confident and secure adults!
  • It allows them to experience new situations while feeling safe against Mom or Dad, and keeps them physically safe!
  • It can actually reduce SIDS.  The reasoning is too complicated for me to explain, you can read about it here  :)
  • Promotes healthy, healthy attachment that is SO important for their future!
There are MANY different kinds of carriers...ring slings, pouches, soft structured front carriers, back packs, mei teis, wraps, and more.  I have limited experience with many of these, but check out The Babywearer for TONS of great info! 

My (current) carrier of choice is the Ergo.  It is a soft structured carrier that can be worn on the front or back. Happy babywearing!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amber For Teething

It's becoming pretty apparent that peanut is teething!  Everything (EVERYTHING) goes into his mouth!  Most of the day he can be seen jamming his fists into his mouth and he has times of fussiness that are out of character for him.  After doing a little research and feeling uncomfortable giving him Tylenol on any sort of regular basis, I discovered amber!!   Today is his first day wearing his necklace, and it's supposed to take a week or two to see results.  I'll keep you posted :)  Originally, I thought that babies chewed on these teething necklaces.  Not the case!  They just wear them close to their skin (you can also purchase anklets).  Read on for more info!

Some info (FAQ) on Amber, from Inspired By Finn (where we purchased the necklace):

What makes Amber work?

That’s an excellent question! Baltic amber is a natural resin, not a gem or stone. Its key ingredient, succinic acid, enables the amber to warm to the body’s natural temperature whereupon it releases it healing and pain relieving oils. Easily absorbed into the skin, the amber then continues its passage into the blood stream where it provides the child’s own immune system and provides calm and peace.

So exactly what does Baltic amber do?

The most obvious benefits are the reduction of inflammation (red cheeks) and a stimulation of the thyroid glands (controls drooling). Historically and scientifically associated with sunlight and warm, Amber accelerates our natural immune systems ability to heal wounds and reduces inflammation in the ears, throat, stomach and respiratory system. There is nothing on the market today that can even come close to the amazing, natural results of Baltic amber. There are no tablets, medications or pastes that can compete with this amber.

What research has been done on Amber?

The active ingredient in Baltic amber is succinic acid, which was analysed by the pioneer of modern bacteriology and Nobel-prize winner Robert Koch (1886). He confirmed its positive influences and discovered that there is no risk of the accumulation of surplus amounts of succinic acid in the human organism. Recent scientific research has also proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human organism, iIt strengthens the body, improves immunity, the course of energy-related processes and the balance of acids. Current research shows that the micronization of amber improves its assimilation by the stress-weakened organism of the contemporary man. The unfavorable environmental conditions prevailing today block the natural flow of energy-related processes in cells. Blocks affect cellular metabolism and significantly weaken the immune system, but the natural energy of amber is able to stimulate its renewal.

What is the difference between natural Baltic amber and other types of amber?

Baltic amber has the greatest content of succinic acid. As a result, it possesses the greatest healing properties and is the mostly highly values amber to own. There are other fossil resins that are similar in appearance to Baltic amber but they do not contain succinic acid. More importantly, it is only original Baltic amber that existed 45 million years ago that contains DNA material (inclusions of tiny particles of small plants and insects of that period). Thus Baltic amber has the ability to facilitate natural healing and provide other therapeutic treatments to support the body’s immune system.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cloth Diapering - My Gateway Drug

I don't know what it is about cloth diapering...but it has completely changed my (our) thoughts/feelings/actions on so many things.  It has been my gateway to green!  When we switched to cloth wipes, Charlie said - "this is it.  We're going off the grid, aren't we?"  We have a LONG way to go, but here are a few changes we have already made in our home:

  • cloth diapers
  • using a clothes line
  • cloth wipes
  • home made wipe solution
  • canvas grocery bags
  • energy-efficient light bulbs
  • natural laundry detergent
  • breastfeeding
  • stainless steel water bottles
  • cloth napkins
  • programmed thermostat 
  • transitioned to commercial green cleaners 
  • recycle most everything
  • donate unwanted items

     Some changes we are in the process of researching or planning on making in the near future:
    • switching to natural make-up
    • making our own baby food
    • making our own cleaning products
    • decreasing processed food intake
    • buying locally
    • making a compost pile
    • mama cloth
    • organic lawn care

      Some changes we "should" make, but are unable/unwilling to do at this time:
      • eliminating processed food intake
      • driving hybrid cars
      • becoming vegetarian 
      • decreasing water usage
      • family cloth

      Friday, July 30, 2010

      Breastfeeding in America

      As a child, I don't remember planning my "dream wedding,"  naming my future children, or even planning my career (except for my original plan to be a dancing crayon factory worker).  I do, however, remember my plans to bottle feed.  Looking back...this seems really bizarre.  I didn't think much of the topic again until I got pregnant.  Charlie, being a nurse, gently encouraged me to consider it.  I did a little research.  The overwhelming theme?  Breast is best!  I agreed to give it a try.  NO promises. If I hate this, I'm done.  

      I have two sisters who both breastfed, and several close friends.  When they would nurse around me, I made a careful effort to avoid looking at the baby eating.  I found myself having conversations I wasn't even paying attention to due to my avoidance of eye contact.  Side note...I am NOT someone that typically feels uncomfortable.   So why the awkwardness around breastfeeding mothers?  Somewhere along the lines...our society taught me to feel this way.  I'm convinced of this!  

      After hearing horror stories of bleeding nipples, pain like no other from engorgement, and babies biting...I was not overly excited about it.  When the nurse handed me this little stranger and told me to "go ahead and feed him,"  I didn't know what to think.  Ummm...shouldn't we get to know each other or something first?   I was blessed to have a baby that the nurse described as a "natural."  Lucky for me...because I'm not sure I could have hung in there if it had gone badly.  Due to what I believe was a result of a good "latch,"  I had very little soreness.  I decided I could do this for at least a week.  

       Then came the realization that if I wanted to maintain some sort of life, I would have to get used to breastfeeding in public.  Not being super efficient at nursing in the comfort of my own home, it was a bit of a disaster to try and get him latched on while desperately trying to hide myself under a blanket.  J has always liked to look around...and he was not a happy camper about having a blanket over his face.  I probably wouldn't like something over my head at the supper table, either.  

      A couple of months into it, I decided I am SO over hiding in public.  It's ridiculous. I am doing what is best for my baby in a natural way.  I got all fired up about "letting it all hang out" only to find myself putting a cover over us that night at a restaurant.  It's intimidating, I tell you!  Even with a cover, it's shocking to find how many people are very obviously uncomfortable and/or irritated.  

      We have now been going strong for 5 months, and I would love to make it to a year.  My current goal is 6 months, though...I need to set small goals for myself or I get overwhelmed.  I am extremely happy with my decision to breastfeed, and I'm proud of it.  I have turned from slightly against it.... to a skeptic... to an activist.  For us, breast really is best.  Now to convince the rest of society.

      A few tips to have a successful/enjoyable experience:
      - DO make the decision based on what is best for you and your peanut, not based on pressure
      -DO be open-minded about your options
      -DO set small goals (one day?  one week?  one month?) 
      -DON'T go into it with the "I'm doing this for a year" attitude...that puts too much pressure on you
      -DO be prepared for slight discomfort (comfort gel pads, Lansinoh cream)
      -DO ask for help from a lactation consultant.'s weird.  Also amazing. Even if you think it's going well, have them check for a proper latch.  This will save you a world of discomfort and frustration!  
      -DO try to relax, even when you're feeling frustrated
      -DO express a little milk, rub it on your nipples, and let it air dry to ease the pain at first
      -DO educate yourself about breastfeeding
      -DO invest in a pump...this will allow others to help and let you get a little more sleep (many insurance companies will cover the cost of a pump with a doctor's order)
      -DON'T give up right away...most things don't come naturally, even something that is supposed to be "natural."  
      -DO keep yourself hydrated while breastfeeding
      -DO take a hot shower and express a bit of milk if feeling engorged 

      Click HERE for great articles, FAQs, and tips from Dr. Sears regarding breastfeeding!

      Thursday, July 29, 2010

      Cloth Diaper Reviews

      Bumgenius 3.0s - The very first cloth diapers we owned...I give them the credit for securing our decision to transition. A "pocket" diaper, you stuff the diaper with an included microfiber insert.  They are "one size" and advertise to go all the way from birth to potty training.  The rise is adjusted by front snaps. They are our "go to" diaper, and the only one we absolutely trust for overnights, naps, and long car trips.  We have NEVER had a leak or blowout with them! These diapers have been discontinued and a very similar 4.0 is now out, which has the option to choose either snaps or velcro cclosure.
      Pros:  reliable, dry quickly, babysitter/Dad friendly (velcro closure goes on just like a disposable)
      Cons:  velcro looks "ratty" pretty fast, can be bulky on smaller babies, discontinued

      Fuzzibunz One Size -  Another pocket diaper that advertises birth to potty training.  This microfiber insert is a little thicker than the Bumgenius insert, but doesn't have the snap adjustment that BGs do.  I really love these diapers (now that I am used to the snap closures).  The size is adjusted on these dipes with an adjustable elastic band. 
      Pros:  trimmer fit than other one-size diapers we have tried, very soft inside, snaps seem to hold up really well
      Cons: Snaps can be hard on a squirmy baby, adjustment can be tricky to get the "perfect" fit

      Happy Heiny One Size - I was initially not that impressed, but I have to's growing on me.  Yet another pocket. This appears to adjust significantly larger than other one-sizes, so I think it would be a great choice for larger babies or toddlers. The rise is adjusted by front snaps, like the bumgenius 3.0s.  We have had no leaks with this. 
      Pros: The flaps overlap, so it can get extra tight (does that make sense?), can accommodate a larger baby
      Cons: Bulky, the included insert is thin

      Bumessentials Bumbino - This is different from a pocket (or any other kind we have tried).  It has a snap in-liner, making it more like an all in one.  Really liking it!
      Pros: You can buy extra snap-in "bum pads" and resuse the shell, seems very absorbent
      Cons: I think ours may have a defect...because the tag on the bum pad touches baby.  After some research, this doesn't seem to be "normal"

      Busy Bottomz - These pocket diapers are made by a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) that I found on  For sure my favorite diaper as far as cuteness goes!  We have a size small, and Jax is still wearing it (and has been for a few months).  The smalls advertise to work for babies 10-20 pounds.  We couldn't get a good fit at first, but now it is working great for him!
      Pros: CUTE, can custom order patterns, very thick microfiber insert
      Cons: Fit babies for a short window of time

      Twinkletoes AI2s - These all in two (AI2) diapers are also made by a WAHM from Etsy.  Very, very cute!  They come with organic soakers that snap in to a cover. can wipe the cover down between changes and reuse them with a new soaker, making it a very economical choice.
      Pros: Economical, can customer order fabric, covers are one-size
      Cons: For us, it could not contain SERIOUS poos and could not handle night/nap pees.  This may have had everything to do with Jax's shape and nothing to do with the diapers, but we ended up selling them on a swap board.
       Bumgenius Bamboo Fitted -  These are fitted, which mean they are not waterproof on their own and require a cover of some sort.  We have found that they work great without a cover at home to allow his bum to breathe!  They are sized, and we are currently in "smalls."  Unfortunately, these are discontinued!
      Pros: Natural fibers, very safe for baby's skin, breatheable
      Cons: Require a cover to be waterproof, baby will grow out of them, discontinued

      Bumboozle - Made by a WAHM, these are another fitted diaper. Minus the fact that it has no snap/velcro closure, so far so good! 
      Pros: Breatheable for baby's skin, cute/custom fabrics
      Cons: Spendy ($20-25), requires a cover to be waterproof, requires a snappi or pin to close it
      Kawaii Minky -  These diapers are super soft and cozy on the inside and out!  They are a one size pocket diaper with snap closure. Significantly less expensive than other pocket, they work surprisingly really well!  I think they would be a bit bulky on smaller/younger babies, but this is typical of most one sized diapers

      Doopsy One-Size - This is a one-size (snap closure) pocket diaper than has a unique insert.  The "super doopsy" soaker has PUL on one side, terry bamboo on the other, and has a pocket that you can extra stuff with an included hemp insert.  Also includes a newborn/doubler microfiber insert.  The rise seems shorter than other one sizes we have, as we had to go to the second setting and there was still a little crack showing :) I'm thinking this won't make it as close to potty training as others.
      Pros: The soaker is not made of microfiber, so it can touch baby's skin (unlike most of our pocket inserts).  This makes it more versatile, as you can lay it on top if you don't feel like stuffing the diaper or even lay it in a prefold for extra protection.
      Cons: short rise, it's kind of a lot of work to stuff the insert and then stuff the diaper (I'm lazy), snaps don't seem as durable as fuzzibunz.
      Thirsties Fab Fitted - These are so soft, they feel like a beach towel!  After we found these we sold our Bumgenius Bamboos...we like the fit of these better, they are softer, and they dry faster!  They require a cover to be waterproof, but we like to let him wear these without a cover at home.  Big fan, we will definitely be getting more! 

      Thirsties Covers - These go over prefolds or fitted diapers.  Love them!  Appear to be leak proof :)  The newer thirsties "duos" we do not like as well.  Many people LOVE these (the idea is so they last longer, they have an adjustable rise).  I find their snaps difficult to fasten on a squirmy baby, and will be trading our duo in for the kind pictured in the near future.

      Hello, my name is Ann, and I'm addicted to cloth diapering.

      I researched cloth diapers when I was pregnant...but quickly got completely overwhelmed by all of the choices.  I was also quickly overwhelmed by the price tag.  $18.00 for one diaper?  Are you kidding me?!  Math has never been one of my strengths, so I assumed this meant cloth diapering was way too expensive for us.  I put it on my incredibly long list of "things to research" and there it sat.  The fact that I didn't get to 90% of the things on this list while on bedrest for THREE MONTHS is a small bit pathetic, but let's not focus on that.

      Being my impulsive self, I text messaged Charlie (who was at work) after my first time hauling out a bag full of balled up diapers from our Diaper Dekor Plus.  The text went a little something like "I have decided we should cloth diaper."  His response?  "umm....why?!"  Me...."it's just something I've decided we should do."  At this point, I didn't have a lot of super great reasons to do it.  That night I bought my first 10 Bumgenius 3.0 one-size diapers off of ebay.  Woohoo!  We are officially doing this.  A couple bags of Rockin' Green detergent later and it's GO TIME! 

      Three months later, my cloth diapering addiction is in full-swing.  I couldn't be happier with our choice to transition from disposables, and am proud to say we haven't purchased any disposables since we switched (note that we do have some leftover for emergencies).  I have tried a variety of brands, and in a later blog will be reviewing them!