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Friday, January 31, 2014

Feature Friday: Baby Go Round

I usually reserve Fridays for my Amazing Mom posts and am always looking to feature local ladies and businesses that I feel serve the readers of The Pampered Baby. Today's feature is a little extra special. It is organizations such as this- and those kindred spirits who donate their time to ensure their operation- that demonstrate the merits of our society. To ensure the needs of those less fortunate are met. And to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are and to remain humble. I hope today's post will make you take a step back and examine what you have at home and perhaps question how much you really 'need'. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Baby Go Round...


Having a baby can be expensive. There's a shopping list a mile long to help you get set up to welcome the new member of the family: crib, mattress, bedding, bassinet, stroller, car seat, clothes, towels, face cloths, diapers, diaper bag, wipes, cream, shampoo, bottles... And that's just the start. While this is such a special and exciting event, not all families are able to afford everything it takes to bring home and raise a baby. That's where an organization like Baby Go Round steps in. Located in Vancouver, Baby Go Round collects and distributes new and gently used baby clothes, gear, and products to families in need with children between the ages of 0- 4 years. 

Open for business! Cutting the ribbon to mark the start of something special

Started by several local ladies who recognized the need for such an organization, Baby Go Round is a not- for- profit serving low- income families throughout the Lower Mainland since the Fall of 2013. On average, the organization assists 55 families per month with items such as clothing and equipment. To date, they have helped nearly 900 families.

The lovely ladies of Baby Go Round

Through community service partners, Baby Go Round distributes these necessities to families who struggle to afford them; the organization currently works with 35 social service agencies in the Lower Mainland to manage this distribution. This amazing organization accepts donations in the form of products, time, and financial aid and ensures the efforts serve those who need it most. 

Open between 10am and 2pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, the facility is always seeking volunteers to help with various aspects of operations; this includes paperwork, organizing donations, picking up and delivering donations, and facility management. In addition, the organization is seeking individuals to fill 'community champion' and 'society supporter' roles to help raise awareness in the community and online. If you are interested in becoming involved on a volunteer basis with Baby Go Round, click here

Other opportunities to become involved include hosting a drive for in- demand items- such as clothing and gear- hosting a baby shower where donations are requested in lieu of gifts, or hosting a special event whereby donors can contribute items or funds. For a list of products Baby Go Round collects, click here.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the ladies at the organization; here's some of what she had to say:

 How did you decide what to do? 
We saw a need in the community and we worked to fill it. So many people have good, quality items that they would be happy to pass on to families that cannot afford these items.

What is your favourite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge? 
The favourite part is making a difference in the lives of the families we help, and to see how they feel supported by the community. The hardest part is not being able to give them everything, and keeping our store front stocked.

Any advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business? 
If you have an idea, follow it. It is amazing how many people want to help you succeed if it is your true passion. 

Perhaps you or someone you know has been looking for a worthy cause to volunteer for or donate to; or maybe some of the 'clutter' in your home would be better used and appreciated by a family in need. I hope you will take the time to check out this amazing organization. And remember what goes around, comes around.

<3



Images courtesy of Baby Go Round.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Newborn Photo Shoot: 5 Quick Tips



 One of my oldest and closest friend's recently had her first baby- a beautiful baby girl- and I had the honour of taking the newborn photos for her. With Ari as my assistant, I packed up my camera & props and headed over to capture what is such a brief, special time in a new family.

Since Ari was so well behaved, I was able to create a chalkboard back drop similar to the one I had created for her newborn photos (I have edited the name in the photo at my friend's request, but everything else is untouched). It's a simple & cute way to announce the birth of your baby and include their newborn stats: height, weight, time of birth, etc.

While it can save you a few bucks to do your own newborn photos, some organization is required. So I thought I'd put together 5 quick tips to help capture some special pics that will have people thinking you  hired a pro.

1. Get organized ahead of time.
I totally understand that the first little while at home with a newborn can be crazy. Throw in hormones, emotions, and sleep deprivation, and you're probably thinking organization?! I forget what that means!  No pun intended, but take baby steps. Plan a day or 2 two in advance. Think of  where you want to take the photos, what kind of lighting, background, and props you want used, and gather them together. It might sound crazy, but it's usually easiest to get these photos in the first two weeks since babies sleep so much and are usually quite content and easy to please (therefore making ideal lil models!). If you want certain family in the photos and/ or some help, make sure you give them a few days notice.

2. Decide what kind of photos you want.
Do you want the classic, simple shots with the baby propped up on a pillow & blanket with their arms crossed? Family shots?  Do you want some artsy/ styled shots (ie with a special background and/ or props)? Or would you like to re- create some of your own baby photos?  Etc. Check out sites like Pinterest for inspiration so you know what kinds of photos you would like and gather the necessary people and other items you'll need ahead of time. Pay attention to how old the baby looks in the photos and if they're awake;  posing and props are usually easiest when the baby is new & asleep (see tip #1).


3. Get yourself ready first, leave the baby 'til last.
If you and/ or anyone else will be in the photos, make sure everyone is photo- ready before you get the baby ready. This way, you can feed the baby and hopefully have them happy and/ or asleep for the photos. Decide what you want the baby to wear (just a diaper and/ or cover or special outfit, etc) and pop them in it when you change their diaper before the photo session. Have a back up ready just in case.

4. Prioritize which shots are most important to you.
As you probably know by now, these little critters have their own schedule. So if the baby is cooperating, take the photos that are most important to you and work your way down the list. That way, if/ when the baby gets tired of all the excitement, you'll hopefully have got the photos you wanted most. Keep in mind that some of the artsy shots can be taken when you're home alone with the baby, and if s/ he sleeps a lot, you can take posed shots over a few days when they're sleeping.

5. Have patience!
Babies make cute models, but don't take directions. So as much as you want them to cooperate, you might have to accept that your lil bumpkin doesn't care as much about these photos as you do. If a certain pose isn't working, move on to the next and maybe try again later. Again, some photos are best saved for when the baby is asleep so you can prop them just the way you want. If your lil one is awake for the some or most of the photo shoot (as my lil model was!) just be prepared to allow more time for them to wiggle around and to get the shot you want. And heck, even if you had your heart set on a certain sleeping shot, it makes for much more unique photos when you capture glimpses of their little personalities!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Candy Hearts Photo Shoot: A Preview!

I had way too much fun today photographing some of the cutest lil models for our Candy Hearts photo shoot! Here's a teensy weensy lil preview of what we got up to today. More photos to come!




Yummy Mummy Monday: Blackberry Orange Scones

It's that time of year when the weather's slowly crawling back towards Summer (YESSSS!) but it's still going to be cozy for a while longer. When it's an indoor kinda day, it's nice to relax with a cup of tea and a tasty treat. And what better to accompany a very British beverage, than with a scone? These are delicious without being too naughty. And the gluten free and/ or egg free version is tasty too (my bestie was my guinea- pig taste tester and she gave them the thumbs up). ;)


Yummy Mummy Recipe: Blackberry Orange Scones
Makes 8 scones.

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
(or substitute 2 cups of your favourite gluten- free flour)
1/3 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (as cold as possible- keep in fridge until needed)
1/2 cup sour cream (or substitute Greek yogurt)
1 egg (or substitute 1/4 cup applesauce)
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup blackberries (I used frozen ones I'd picked in the Summer, just thaw ahead of time

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees & line a baking tray with parchment
2. In one bowl mix together the dry ingredients; grate the butter into the bowl with the flour mixture (or cut into very small cubes). Mix with hands until combined (will be dry & crumbly)
3. In another bowl mix together the sour cream, egg (or applesauce if you're making an egg free version) and orange zest
4. Add the wet ingredients to the flour/ butter; mix until just combined (the dough will still be quite dry and crumbly- less so if you substituted apple sauce)
5. Toss in the blackberries and gently mix until well distributed in the dough
6. Lightly flour a flat surface and turn dough out; shape the dough into a circle approx. 8" in diameter and 1- 1.5" thick. Slice the dough into 8 pieces (think of cutting a cake) and transfer to baking tray
7. For a little extra sweetness, sprinkle some sugar over the top of the scones; bake for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top (I found my gluten free/ egg free version took a little longer to bake and didn't look golden on top; I had to keep poking them with a skewer to check if they were baked all the way through).
8. Serve with your choice of butter, clotted/ whipped cream, jam, and/ or marmalade. Best served fresh & warm (but really, who's going to complain if you re- heat them?) ;)

Writing this post has given me a craving for one with a cup of Earl Grey! Hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Cute Are These? Product Review Preview!!!

I had a fantastic meeting today with Stephanie of Cutie Pie Clippies and am so excited that Ari and I get to try out some of her new products- including these seriously adorable jersey knot headbands! I already love them, but I'll get back to ya with a more serious review soon! I think it's safe to say Stephanie and I are going to have lots of fun working together!


Her work is beautiful & quality at very fair prices. I hope you'll check out her lil business and show your support for this lovely local Mom!

Amazing Mom: Debbie Fettback, PopYOUlarity

I think most of us have had crushes on someone famous. Or maybe you've always wanted to meet a certain celebrity? How'd you like it if your job was to meet and interview celebrities? This week's Amazing Mom does just that; meeting and interacting with some of today's top acts in the music industry. What's more is she created this career herself- starting at the ripe old age of 16! With some hard work and perseverance this week's Amazing Mom is proof that you really can do anything you set your mind to. 



1. What kind of products and/ or services do you offer?
I own an online music publication, popYOUlarity.com that showcases music artists through artist interviews (major label and indie), contests and reviews. I have also written two books with details on how to get started in music industry journalism; "How To Interview Like A Rock Star" shows the ins and outs of getting that interview with your favorite artists, along with what to do and what not to do; "Reaching Rock Star Status" is geared towards helping the artist get more out of their interviews through sample interview questions and tips.

2. What is the price point?

popYOUlarity.com, the website, makes its income via advertising. The books can be found easily online through book retailers such as Amazon. The hardcopy version is $15 and the ebook version $3.99.

3. How long have you been operating and how did you start?
I started popYOUlarity when I was sixteen- grade 11. I had an intense love for music and knew I could take this above just having a regular fan site and being a "groupie", if I worked hard enough. It has now been in business for 13 years.

Our Amazing Mom, Debbie, with Michael Buble

4. How did you decide what to do?
There was no real method of thought behind my madness. I had always had an intense love of music and figured it would be cool to be able to talk to people who pour their heart and soul into their music. After a lot of cold calling and denials, I finally found a couple people who would give me a chance, and popYOUlarity took off. popYOUlarity was born at the same time as other similar publications that we're now familiar with, so it took a while to gain the trust as it was a new idea of promoting artists being presented.

5. What is your favorite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge?

My favorite part is that there is quite a bit of flexibility to set my own schedule. For the most part, I am able to work from home. I like the feeling of that freedom and I believe it helps to keep me working hard. I also love talking to so many different people; it is inspiring. The biggest challenge now would be staying original. I have done hundreds of interviews over the years and feeling like I'm not repeating myself over and over again is really hard. The band/artist may not know it, but if I'm sitting there with something I feel is unoriginal, I don't feel that I am doing the best I can. 

6. Any advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business?

You really need to find something you feel passionate about. Something that will keep you inspired to keep on pushing and better your business and yourself. If you really love what you do, it won't feel like work all the time since you will be enjoying what you do.


Debbie with Ladies of the Canyon

If you want to see Debbie's latest celebrity interviews or are just curious about popYOUlarity, check out popYOUlarity.com ! (Or check out popYOUlarity's Facebook page here).





Images Courtesy of Debbie Fettback

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

They Grow Up So Fast: Starting Solids

At approx. 6 months, most babies are ready to start trying solid food. Heck, if I'd only been eating one thing for that long, I'd be ready for more variety! ;) Lots of Moms typically start off with a little bit of rice or multi grain cereal mixed with either water, breast milk, or formula (or some combination). But once you get the ball rolling, it's nice to have some kind of idea how you'd like to try introducing everything else. Today's post will hopefully give you some useful information about how you can offer your baby new foods.

When to Start With Solids


As with pretty much everything these lil critters throw at us, there is no 'one way' that is right for everyone. So how do you know your bumpkin is ready to start solids? There are a few tell- tale signs:

- They watch you eat (ie they follow that fork from the plate to your mouth & back again)
- They can hold their head up 
- They've lost the tongue thrust reflex (ie they don't simply push the food out of their mouth)

On that last point, your baby may not like their first taste (or few) of solids, so they may push the food out of their mouth, but that doesn't mean they're not ready for solids. Keep trying; maybe mix up the cereal a little thicker or thinner or try something different (see the list of good first foods below).

Another tip: From 6- 9 months, nurse or bottle feed your baby first, followed by solids. From 9- 12 months- and as you wean- offer solids first, followed by nursing/ bottle. This helps ensure your baby is still getting the nutrients they need while you begin introducing a more varied diet. By 12 months, breast milk or formula alone are no longer sufficient enough to meet your baby's nutritional needs. (Also, this will hopefully help keep your milk production up; I had a hiccup with mine at 6 months, which made me have to run out and buy formula so Ari was still getting enough to eat. For tips on this, see the end of this post).

What Foods Are Good to Start With?

Since a baby's stomach has never digested anything other than breast milk or formula, it's recommended to start off with foods that are on the bland side. Options include:

- Cereal
- Banana
- Apple
- Pear
- Avocado
- Sweet potato/ yam
- Zuchinni
- Squash

For foods such as banana and avocado that are soft, you can simply mash them to a mushy consistency that your baby can 'gum' and swallow, or puree them. Foods such as apple, yam, etc that are hard can be boiled or steamed and then mashed or pureed (When I started Ari on solids, I tried to offer her mashed versions of foods, so she could get a sense of the texture and consistency of the food she was trying; if there were any lumps, they were small enough that she couldn't choke on them). Mixing the new food with breast milk or formula may help, since it's something your baby is already used to.

Some of my friends noticed that their babies had a preference for temperature in addition to flavour and texture. So keep all of this in mind; if your baby doesn't seem to like something, try a few variations. If it's still a no- go after a day or two, maybe try mixing it with another food they liked, or try something else for a few days before trying again.

Some recommend introducing one food at a time over several days so you can watch for reactions. I also know Moms who simply started feeding their babies mashed up samples of whatever they were eating. This falls into the category go with what you are comfortable with doing. If you have allergies in the family, it is probably better to introduce things one at a time to watch for reactions. It may also be wise to consult your doctor if you have concerns (ie if there are life- threatening allergies in the family).

How Much Food Should I Give My Baby?

Refer to the chart below for a rough guide of what and how much to feed your lil one at different ages.


Age
Liquids*
Solids*
Options
Consistency
6 months
540- 1030mL/ day
(18- 36 fl oz)
4-5 times per day
Served in a bottle or cup
30- 60 mL
(2- 4 tbsp)
2-3 times per day

·      Breast milk
·      Formula
·      Iron- fortified infant cereal
·      Cooked & pureed/ mashed veggies
·      Pureed/ mashed fruits
·      Pureed
·      Mashed
·      Semi- solid
7- 8 months
540- 1030mL/ day
(18- 36 fl oz)
4-5 times per day
Served in a bottle or cup
30- 60 mL
(2- 4 tbsp)
3- 4 times per day
·      Above, plus:
·      Cooked whole grain pasta

·      Above, plus:
·      Crunchy, but easy to dissolve
·      Ground or soft
·      Finely chopped
9- 12 months
540- 960 mL/ day
(18- 32 fl oz)
3- 4 times per day
Served in a bottle or cup
3 meals & 2 snacks
·      Above, plus:
·      3.25% cow’s milk (homogenized)
·      Yogurt
·      Cottage cheese
·      Pasta
·      Rice
·      Well/ hard cooked egg
·      Pancakes
·      French toast
·      Family dishes
·      Above, plus:
·      Bite- size pieces
·      More texture
·      Coarsely chopped
·      Finger foods
12 months +
500- 750 mL/ day
(16- 25 fl oz)
2- 3 times per day
Served in a cup
Same as above; larger portions
·      Above, plus:
·      Cubes of cheese
·      Whole grain crackers
·      Meat, fish, poultry
·      Scrambled eggs
·      Fresh fruit & veggies

·      Above, plus:
·      What the family is eating (bite size)
·      Variety of textures & foods
* Serving sizes are approximate; watch for cues that your baby is full
Table adapted from Enfamil’s Your Growing Baby: When and How Should I Introduce Solid Food to My Baby


I think one of the next questions you're going to ask is How do I know my baby is full? The answer is simple: watch for your baby's cues. This may include pushing food out of their mouth, refusing to open their mouth, turning their head, or a general lack of interest when food is offered (ie they start looking around the room, rather than focusing on the food being offered to them). As with every new phase, this can be frustrating because your baby will probably eat varied amounts at different meals/ snacks. Try and take a step back and think what could have affected your child's appetite: was there al lot of activity that may have lead to an increased appetite? Or was it a slow, relaxed day, without much stimulation? Are they sick? Teething? Just like their grown- up counterparts, babies will eat more or less depending on the kind of day they had.

Making Your Own Baby Food


Another choice you get to make is whether you would like to make your own baby food. As with everything, there are pros and cons to this. The two obvious pros are the cost savings and ability to control exactly what your baby eats (no added sugar, preservatives, etc). The cons are the added time and effort it takes to make, portion, and store the food, and perhaps the less convenience of having to pack it yourself, rather than simply grab a jar or pouch.

If you decide to give it a try, it can be as simple as preparing the food of choice (ie peeling, coring, and boiling apples), pureeing them, and freezing portions in ice cube trays. Once the batch is frozen, you can store the cubes in bags or containers in you freezer and thaw the next day's food in the fridge overnight. There are so many options and ways of doing this, that I'll save it for another post. However, there is plenty of info out there if you feel you'd like to do further research.

Help Maintain/ Increase Your Milk Production
At around 6 months (and sometimes sooner), it isn't uncommon for some women's milk production to decrease. If you're finding that your baby is clingy/ grumpy after they've nursed (ie they're still hungry) and/ or you notice your breasts don't feel full before you start a feed, there are several suggestions to help:
- Keep drinking lots of water, Mama!
- Try a nursing Mother's tea, which should have ingredients including fenugreek and blessed thistle
- Fenugreek capsules
- Try mixing a cup of warm milk with a tsp of turmeric
- Have 2 hard boiled eggs as part of your breakfast
- Domperidone, a prescription you can request from your doctor

When I noticed my milk supply seemed to be going down, I tried pumping after feeds (especially the afternoon and dinner feeds, since that's when my milk was at it's lowest) to keep my milk supply up. If you're unsure about how much you're producing, approx. half an hour before a feed, pump to see how much milk you get. This will give you a rough estimate of what your baby is getting, so you know if you need to supplement with formula and/ or try to increase your milk production. This can be stressful and tough; it really bothered me when I thought I might not be able to nurse Ari for as long as I wanted. It wasn't something that I thought would bother me, but it did. Knock on wood, with some hard work and perseverance I think I've been able to increase my milk supply. Some aren't able to, and if this is the case, try to make peace with it and move on. It can tug at your heartstrings (and your wallet, since breast milk is definitely more budget friendly), but be proud of what you were able to do. Just think back to the new born days and remind yourself how challenging nursing can be. As much as we think it's natural and simple, it isn't.

I hope you have found this post interesting and useful. Beginning solids is an exciting phase- with lots more mess!- and just another reminder of how fast these lil critters grow up! Please note, this post is based on my own experience and those of people I know. Please consult your doctor if you have serious concerns about your milk production and/ or if you think your child has had a serious reaction to a new food.



Image Sources: 
http://makingitlovely.com/2011/02/02/mix-spoon-set/
http://clueyblog.com/avocado-face-masks
http://honestfare.com/hungry-baby/

Monday, January 20, 2014

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I was busy this past weekend baking up a storm. With lots of dietary changes in the family I've been searching out even healthier versions of my recipe favourites. While it isn't necessary for me, I try and go gluten free when possible; the same goes with sugar and salt. It's amazing the difference you'll notice over time once your taste buds have adjusted to purer flavours.

Anyways, enough about that. One of my all times favourite recipes is banana bread. I hate, hate, HATE throwing out food, so inevitably my freezer becomes a stockpile of produce- including bananas!- that I saved from a wasted fate in our compost. With hubby of gluten, and my sis- in- law off gluten, eggs, and dairy, I thought I'd try some alternative versions of this classic recipe. I made four loaves, each with slight variations, and was very happy with the results. You'll see my notes below to help guide you with the different options.


Yummy Mummy Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf (approx 16 1/2 slices)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour- swap out regular flour for a gluten free option
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup chocolate chips- skip these if you want a dairy free version
2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter melted- swap equal amount of apple sauce for a dairy free version
1/4 cup milk- try almond or coconut milk for a dairy free version
2 eggs-  you can swap 1/4 cup apple sauce per egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line a baking pan with parchment paper (use one that will give you the desired shape- mine is approx 4"* 8")
2. Using 2 bowls, mix dry ingredients in one and wet ingredients in the other
3. Combine all ingredients and mix well
4. Pour into baking pan and bake for 50- 60 minutes (or until a wooden skewer can be poked in the middle and comes out clean

I hope you love this! (PS check it out as muffins!)