Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness with Kids

It can be a little nerve-wracking when a hurricane is threatening to blow into town (especially when it follows a tornado and an earthquake, and even more especially when you have a family and children to protect). We read all about disaster-preparedness kits, but who really follows all of the recommendations? For example, using my bathtubs to store extra drinking water is probably more dangerous than any storm. (I’m not a fan of cleaning the bathtub, not to mention the fact that Baby T likes to pee in it).

But when you’re faced with the likelihood of a power outage, a tornado, or flooding, what can you do?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mini Photo Sessions with Wilmington Photographer Nichole Lupton

On Sunday, August 21, Nichole Lupton of Nichole Louise Photography will be shooting back-to-school mini sessions at Green Baby Diaper Service. It's an affordable way to get professional shots of the kids, new baby, or family.

To get Nichole ready for the shoot, I asked her a couple of questions:

1. How did you get into photography?

I always loved photography, but it was always just something I admired and
something other people did. When I was pregnant I was jealous of all of
the amazing maternity images I would see, but they were out of our budget,
and at that point, custom photography wasn't really on my radar, I thought
that was reserved for 'big cities' like New York and LA. After I had my
son Finnegan, I started taking pictures of him all.the.time. Nothing more
than mom snap shots, but I loved them all the same. It was once I started
paying chain studios for photos that I really got the itch. I was draining
my wallet and underwhelmed with the final product. So tax time that year,
after much begging, convinced my husband to buy me a DSLR. It all took off
from there! I spent more hours than I care to admit learning what I was
doing. Reading. Studying. Once I decided (about a year in) to make this a
business, I told myself I was going to do it right. I learned the
technical aspects of it all, from working my camera, all the way to paying
taxes. It took quite a few more months on the business side to get set up,
and I will always be learning the technical side, but it has truly become
my passion, and something I absolutely love to do.

2. Did you always photograph people? What about kids... or was that something that came with motherhood?

Definitely something that came with kids. The older my kids get, the more
creative I've gotten, and the more inspiration they've been able to
provide me. I've also spent the better part of the last 3 years learning
and honing in on what I like, don't like, and enjoy. It's a rare day in my
house when I don't take a picture, and I love that my kids lives will be
thoroughly (if not excessively) documented!

3. How do you keep your business running and keep yourself sane with 2 kids? (In other words, how do you do it all?)

Magic? LOL! Honestly, its something I'm still mastering. I do the majority
of my work between 9pm and 1am - and thankfully, I'm a night owl. Once
this became a business for me, it definitely eased the financial strain on
our growing family. To a point where if the business were to ever close, I
would need to find a job away from home. Being able to stay home with my
kids and not have to manage daycare is one of the biggest perks of the
job. Especially with my boys still being so young and not in school, I
will do whatever it takes to be able to stay home. I shoot when my husband
has time off of work (he is a restaurant manager, so odd hours that work
in my favor), and on occasion, my wonderful In-Laws who live here in town
will help out. I try and make phone calls during 'nap time', or in the
case of my 3 year old, quiet time. If I need to go somewhere I try and do
it on one of my husbands days off as well since he usually gets two week
days off, but no weekends. Other than that, all e-mails, editing, and
business management happens late night after my kids and husband are in
bed. As I type this, it is 10:54 on Sunday night. I do my best to get some
mommy time in there as well, to help keep myself sane. I try and give
myself at least one night off a week. Sometimes a night off is just some
me-time around the house, other times, its a night out for a movie with
girlfriends. I also am very cautious in the amount of work I take on. I do
my best not to over book myself. It is a balancing act, and some weeks are
definitely better than others, but the alternative of a away from home job
and daycare is enough motivation to keep me going!

4. What is your favorite part about photographing families?

My favorite part about photographing families is how different they all
are. I love watching them interact, and seeing those little bits of
parenthood that differ from parent to parent. I love seeing close knit
groups that so obviously love each other. I also love interacting with
children. I used to want to be a teacher, and although a formal school
setting is not for me, I still adore kids. I love their innocence, and
playfulness. And don't even get me started about birth and newborn
photography! Being privileged enough to capture the moment a baby is
welcomed into the world, and then a few days later get to snuggle them
into the sweetest little positions?! It's almost enough to keep baby fever
at bay. Almost :)

Stop in for a 15-minute mini session or email or call Nichole {at} nicholelouisephotography {dot} com or  910-367-5151.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Diaper Cream and Cloth Diapers - How to Treat Diaper Rash

Diaper rash can be frustrating for parents and painful for baby. Many babies get diaper rash from harsh chemicals found in disposable diapers, and the diaper rash often goes away when they switch to cloth. But that’s not always the case. Babies can get diaper rash in cloth.

Believe me, I’ve dealt with horrible diaper rash on Baby T ever since he started eating solids. He has sensitive skin, so I had to play around with detergents when I was washing my own diapers. And I had to make sure I did several rinses or he would get diaper rash. I even went without any detergent for a while.

But the diaper rash wasn’t really caused by the cloth diapers or the detergents. They were caused by Baby T’s acidic poop. That’s right. For a while, he was pretty much only eating fruit. If he pooped and it wasn’t changed immediately, he would get diaper rash. The detergents and the wetness of the cloth would then exacerbate the diaper rash, and I had to load him up with diaper cream.

What kind of diaper cream can you use with cloth diapers?

CJ’s makes BUTTer that can be used to treat diaper rash on cloth-diapered babies. It comes in a stick or cream form and is all-natural. It can also be used to protect skin against windburn, to moisturize your cuticles, and to treat eczema, so it’s a real multi-tasker.

How can I protect my cloth diapers from diaper cream buildup?

If you use a product like CJ’s, you shouldn’t have any trouble with buildup. But if you’re using another product or want extra protection, use a liner in between your baby’s bottom and the cloth diaper. You can cut up an old fleece sweatshirt or buy Bummis Bio-Soft Liners. Then you can slather on the diaper cream!

What if the diaper rash is not going away?

Diaper rash can be caused by a number of things. It’s hard to figure out what causes it, but the treatment is usually dependent on the cause.

Diaper rash that is not caused by yeast can be effectively treated with breastmilk, but breastmilk can make a yeast rash worse.

Can diaper rash be caused by heat?

Yes. The diaper rash could be an aggravated heat rash. If that’s the case, adding diaper cream and a waterproof diaper cover could hold in the heat and make it worse. It’s best to air out a heat rash. When around the house, let baby loose without a diaper or with just a fitted or prefold. When you feel that it’s wet, change it immediately. Using breathable diaper covers, like wool soakers, can help the air circulate and prevent moisture from being trapped near baby’s sweaty skin. (Yes, you can even use wool soakers in the summer. In fact, this was the only way I recently was able to get rid of my son’s heat/diaper rash).

If diaper rash is caused by acidic foods, use Mylanta as a diaper cream.

You heard right. Mixing Mylanta or another acid-reducer with some olive oil and using it as a diaper cream can combat a diaper rash caused by acidic foods.

Some Tips:

If you're using any kind of scented wipe solution or disposable pre-moistened wipes, try switching to a washcloth with water. If you're only been using a washcloth with water during diaper changes, try switching to a gentle wipe solution, like Baby Bits.

When Little M recently had a diaper rash that was caused by heat, I tried to keep the wet diaper from pressing against his skin. Instead of folding the diaper in the front, I folded it in the back so there was less bulk in front (where the rash was). I also avoided using a snappi. I just folded the diaper and laid it in the cover so nothing was pressing against his skin.

Finally, Little M started crawling. And his diaper rash went away. It was Liz’s creative thinking that led me to believe maybe Little M’s diaper/heat rash was exacerbated by his army crawl, when he was dragging his body around on the floor. If that’s what is causing your baby’s diaper rash, maybe you can try to entice baby to crawl by dangling a rattle in front of his face. That may be the only thing that makes the rash disappear.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Change the World Wednesday -- Clean out the Pantry


In an effort to further “greenify” our lives, we’re still following the Change the World Wednesday challenge at Reduce Footprints. The challenge for this week was to cook with what you have: in the pantry, the freezer, and the refrigerator.

But it was a busy week. I left for a long, relaxing weekend in Asheville on Thursday morning, so I didn’t have much time to think about (or follow) this challenge. I ended up spending more on food for a four-day weekend than I normally spend in a week. Granted, I brought a lot of it home, but who really needs 4 bags of chips and Chex mix?

Still, I’m challenging myself to not go to the grocery store this week (except to buy lunch meat for Big T, because he sometimes refuses to be as creative as I am when it comes to eating. Or changing the world. Baby steps).

So on Monday, I checked my freezer. Flank steak. Cool. I had a huge box of feta cheese from Costco and some jarred roasted red peppers. I looked online for a recipe and found this recipe for Rolled Flank Steak with Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach, and Feta. Awesome. Except I didn’t have spinach.

This is where you have to get creative. When you’re trying to save the world use up the food in your pantry and freezer without wasting it, you can’t always follow a recipe to a T.

I decided to use basil instead of spinach. But when I went to get my roasted red peppers, they were moldy. Hmmm. I thought I had just bought them. Guess not. I would use sun dried tomatoes instead. And I still had feta. But it seemed weird to spread it all onto the flank steak separately. So I put the feta in the blender with the tomatoes. It was too thick to blend. I had a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry, so I poured some in. Perfect.

The recipe said to slice up the flank steak roll and cook each “pinwheel” separately. Too much work. I stuck the entire log in a bread pan and dumped the rest of the can of tomatoes on top. Done. I’ve included the recipe below. Substitute at will.

While I’m on the subject of saving food, I feel like it’s important to mention that there is a fine line between saving food and saving money. Or maybe it’s a wide gap between the two; I’m not sure. I find that I either use coupons and buy on sale and fill the pantry, but then have nothing fresh to make with all of my staples, or I buy separately just for a few days of meals, but I often buy fresh food at Costco because it is so much cheaper. It costs $5 for a huge box of organic lettuce, and I don’t feel so bad if some of it gets soggy after a week, because it was still so much cheaper than buying it at the grocery store.

I try not to waste food, but it’s hard to cook for only 2 (and a half) people. Big T will only eat leftovers for so long. I’m hoping that after my freezer and pantry have had their makeover, it will be easier to menu plan and buy only what I need. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, like I promised, here's the rolled flank steak recipe (with substitutions):

Rolled Meat with Cheese and Red Veggies

(How's that for vague?) 

1 Flank Steak (chicken breast, or pork tenderloin) pounded until thin and as rectangular-shaped as possible
1/2 cup feta cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or monterey jack)
1/2 cup red juicy veggie like tomatoes or roasted red peppers (you could even use fresh red pepper)
Handful of leafy greens (swiss chard, basil, spinach)

Mix feta cheese with maybe 1/4 cup of the red veggie. You could puree this in the blender, or just with a fork. Spread it on the meat. Layer the leafy greens over it. Roll up the meat and tie with kitchen twine in a couple of spots. Drop it in a bread pan, pour some more of the red veggies over it, and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (you can easily cut into it to see if the meat is done after 20 minutes).

Voila. Let the experimentation begin.

Share your own experiences: How do you save money and try to waste less food at the same time?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Change the World Wednesday -- Use Cloth Towels

This week’s Change the World Wednesday challenge at Reduce Footprints was to use fewer paper towels. As it turns out, Liz and I both try not to use paper towels at all. After all, we use cloth diapers and wipes, it's not too far a stretch. And—as you’ll see—we both went about trying to get our men on board in much the same way. Here’s how it went down:

Gaby: So I did the challenge this week. I thought it was going to be a big deal when I hid the paper towels on a high shelf in the laundry room, but I don’t think my husband noticed.
Liz: That’s so funny—I did the same thing! I considered playing a joke on my husband and removing them from the house altogether, but then I thought he might not think that was funny. So I hid them high up in the laundry room too!
Gaby: Did he go looking for them?
Liz: No, I told him about the challenge, and he took it pretty well… I was anticipating a protest, for some reason. But we normally use cloth wipes, napkins and rags to clean the house anyway so paper towels normally go a long way in our house.
Gaby: Me too. But he didn’t say a word. The week was noneventful, except for a few incidents.
Liz: Like what?
Gaby: Well, you don’t realize that you rely on paper towels for a few things. I used to rely on them for things like cat puke, but I’m ok with using cloth on that and just laundering it. But when an earwig was crawling across my rug, I ran for the cabinet, and then I remembered. No paper towels. And I was like, Crap. I didn’t have time to get them at the top of the laundry room. And I hate bugs. HATE.
Liz: What did you do?
Gaby: I acted courageously. I killed it with my bare hands and threw it in the trash.
Liz: Go you! I’m impressed. Yeah, I ran across an issue when it came time for draining bacon. But I used a rack and just let the grease drip off.
Gaby: You could always set aside a couple of cloths specifically for draining bacon. And just don’t put those in the dryer—fire hazard.
Liz: It’s going to be interesting to see how other people got creative with this challenge and what they used. I also hit a bit of a snag once we started our first ever tiling project. The glue that you use to set the tiles was everywhere. But I dragged out some old washcloths and used those instead, and they worked much better than paper towels. And I can actually reuse them!
Gaby: It’s funny how you don’t realize you can just wash something and use it again. I used to go through roll after roll of paper towels in college. It makes me sad just thinking about it. Okay, but I did totally cheat.
Liz: What happened?
Gaby: Well, we were sitting at dinner, and you know how they say not to sit your baby in any kind of seat on top of the kitchen table? Well, I now know it’s not because it’s a high surface. It’s because they can spill your beer.
Liz: Your beer?
Gaby: Yup. We have these tall, fluted beer glasses, and we were sitting at dinner, and in one fell swoop, Little M reached out and knocked one over. It broke, and glass went everywhere. I really didn’t want to deal with glass in the washer, so I had my husband go get—sigh—the paper towels. I used about half the roll, and then—boom: Little M knocked over the other beer glass! My other son was crying because I yelled so loudly. I used a lot of paper towels. But what are you supposed to do with glass?
Liz: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a special circumstance.
Gaby: I still feel guilty, so I’ll have to hide what’s left of the roll for the next month to make up for it.

If you want to join in on the Change the World Wednesday challenge, click on the link below or on the banner in our sidebar. Also, feel free to leave comments on our shorter showers post if you tried that this week!

Monday, August 1, 2011

We Are a Breastfeeding Friendly Business!

The International Breastfeeding SymbolGreen Baby Diaper Service was recently nominated as a Breastfeeding Friendly Business by Port City Breastfeeding Project. Since they really take time to make their business a family-friendly place, they were honored by this recognition--just in time for World Breastfeeding Week, which takes place August 1-7.

What does it mean to be a breastfeeding-friendly business in Wilmington? Basically, you are a business where moms can feel comfortable feeding their babies so they don’t have to sit in the back of the Harris Teeter parking lot, looking creepy while they hang out in the driver’s seat with their baby at their breast. (I have always wondered if people think I’m driving with my baby on my lap when I have done this). You can go inside and breastfeed your baby without having to buy something or feel pressure to cover up.

A breastfeeding-friendly business displays the international breastfeeding symbol on their window or door to show that they welcome mothers who need to feed their babies. The businesses that are being recognized by the Port City Breastfeeding Project were all nominated by people in the community—by moms who have felt comfortable breastfeeding at those locations.

Other businesses who have received the Breastfeeding-Friendly Business award are Seaside Pediatrics, Folks Café, Artichoke, Shaver Chiropractic, Bill Heinberg Insurance, and Network Community Wellness, among others.

As a mom with a toddler and a six-month old, a mom who has been breastfeeding for more than 26 months straight, it’s a relief to know that there are businesses in this community that welcome moms and their babies (especially when there’s been so much talk in the news recently about businesses who are trying to ban children from their doors in general). Like I said, you always feel strange when you breastfeed in your car. Being able to step into an air-conditioned location and sit on a real chair is really wonderful when you have a cranky six-month old and you’re stuck in town waiting to pick up your toddler from daycare.

I’ve always “saved up” Green Baby Diaper Service as a place to stop when I have a long day of running errands. I plan to stop there when I think baby will be hungry, because I know it is somewhere I can relax, and so can Little M. They have comfy, cushioned chairs where you can relax and nurse, or you can even go to the little sofa in the back room if you need some privacy.

We are real moms in a real world. Even if we wanted to sit home all day in our pajamas, the reality is that we have groceries to do and errands to run. Also, we’d go crazy if we had to sit home all day. So would our babies. Babies get bored with the same stimuli all day long—that’s why your baby always fusses less when you go out and about. Now you can feel comfortable venturing out around town, knowing that there are places you can stop when you need a breather and when your baby is hungry.