Thursday, June 28, 2012

New & Improved Diaper Sprayers

New & Improved Diaper Sprayers

Well, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that our new diaper sprayers are going to be the best on the market.  New features are going to make this investment even more worthwhile.

Here are the new changes:

  • 3 Year Warranty
  • New, improved packaging
  • Made in America with domestic and global components
  • StayFlex stainless steel sprayer hose with swivel nut stays completely flexible under pressure
  • American made solid brass ball valve and tee connector
  • CSA certified to UPC standards for installation in the US and Canada
  • Double back flows certified to ASME standards

Rest assured that this diaper sprayer is quality made and you won't have any leaking issues.  The bad news?  With the improvement in the quality of their parts, the sprayer is going up in price.  The new price will be $59.95.  I was bummed to learn this but understand that with quality and warranty assurances, this is better than having leak issues which could cost you a ton in house damage.  Yikes!   


Jen Starks,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

La Leche League in Modern Times

My friend, Claire Sandler, has generously shared her journey with us from becoming a new mom to becoming a La Leche League Leader. Since there seems to be some negative stereotypes out there about the LLL, I approached her to write this about her personal experience with LLC in modern times. I'm pleased to hear that our local group in South Bend is growing and would love to have more info to share with our Tallahassee mamas. ~Jen

A Mama's Journey with LLL

Jen asked me to write a guest blog about the La Leche League of today, and I couldn’t be happier to do it, because La Leche League has been so important to my mothering journey. I’ve only had my own tiny experience with LLL, but there are women all over the world, over the past 60 years, who have had their own tiny experiences with La Leche League. I imagine that many of these are similar to my own, because although it’s become an internationally respected resource on breastfeeding, at its core it is still small groups of mothers supporting each other.

I was lucky to grow up in a liberal community where breastfeeding was the norm, however I wasn’t familiar with La Leche League until I was a young adult. I remember hearing some moms talking about it at work, and I later asked my own mother what it was. She said, “Those are the women who nurse for like 4 or 5 years.”  “Weird,” my know-it-all 23 year-old self thought. “That’s clearly not a group for me.”

Ten years later, when expecting my first baby, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t breastfeed her. I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital where I would deliver, and my husband and I were astounded to learn some benefits to breastfeeding that had never occurred to us: It protects babies from illnesses! It’s free! It’s convenient! It even protects mothers from breast and ovarian cancer! Amazing! The instructor (who is a LLL leader in addition to being a lactation consultant,) encouraged me to go to a LLL meeting. I wasn’t so sure about this, but I had a feeling I might need things to do as I adjusted to my new life as Mama, so I filed it away, still a bit wary of the extreme perspective I thought LLL might espouse.

Once Daisy was born I happily didn’t have any trouble initiating nursing, even after an emergency c-section and subsequent 2-hour separation, so I still wondered whether La Leche League was a group for me. But when she was 3 weeks old I nervously packed up my new diaper bag with whatever I imagined a mama might need and walked the distance to the library where the group met. When I entered the room, I was immediately at home. These were such lovely women—why hadn’t I been able to find women like these to befriend in my new community before? They were welcoming, kind, supportive, funny--what a joy! And although I somewhat uncomfortably saw toddlers nursing for the first time, I was able to look past that as I appreciated the fact that at the start of every meeting the leaders articulate that we should take from others’ experiences what works for us and for our families, and leave the rest. I guess my mom was misinformed about the requirement to nurse preschoolers!

The group only met once a month, which can be a lifetime in those early mothering days. I looked forward to the date on my calendar and slowly watched myself over the course of those months transform from a timid new mom into one of the seasoned mamas, offering my own experiences and support to others. We learn and grow so much and so quickly as new mothers; it felt important to be able to use what I had discovered to benefit more than just my own family.  Within these meetings, a community grew, and in turn my own community of friends grew—I felt a part of a larger experience and was able to make connections with other mothers and babies that continue today.

During this time I also became fascinated by the many benefits of breastfeeding and dismayed by the low numbers of breastfeeding success in our community and world. I realized that the reason La Leche League was founded and continues to be needed is because we no longer have the built-in support of experienced breastfeeding women all around us. Until the last century this was a part of mothering that was passed on informally. Young people grew up seeing babies nurse and there were mothers, sisters, aunts and friends to bounce questions off of: Why is my 3-month old nursing like a newborn? Why is my 6-month old waking again at night? Will it hurt when my baby gets teeth? What if big brother wants to start nursing again when the new baby comes? These issues and more are regular topics at LLL meetings—topics that I never knew existed until I was a nursing mother myself.

As I watched the LLL leaders gently talking with new mothers and as I continued to appreciate the ideas and information they shared with me, I thought this might be something I’d like to try. I worked with our local leaders and via email with leaders in other parts of the country to become an accredited volunteer leader shortly before Fiona, my second daughter, was born. Throughout this period, we sadly noticed that attendance at our meetings had plummeted to maybe one or two mothers. We wondered whether LLL meetings were necessary anymore in this age of so much information being available online and opportunities for mother-to-mother support available in the form of moms groups. I was unwilling to give up on meetings because of how important they had been in my early mothering days; I still felt there was a need for information-based breastfeeding support. So I decided to be proactive in advertising meeting topics and posting breastfeeding-related articles to our Facebook page. Amazingly, attendance almost immediately grew, and for the past two years we’ve been averaging between 15-20 moms at our morning meeting and 10-12 at our evening meeting! We also recently added a park playgroup and an additional morning meeting. Now we don’t have to wait the whole month to gather together with other fabulous breastfeeding mamas!

As a leader, my favorite moments at meetings are when I watch a formerly timid and overwhelmed new mom confidently and supportively share some information or expertise that I remember seeing her learn. It’s those moments that show me that the founding mothers in the 1950’s knew what mothers needed then, and still need today—“…to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.” In the rooms where these meetings occur, everyone is valued, everyone is listened to, and breastfeeding is the accepted norm. I like to envision the shared confidence in our choices moving out of those rooms into the community and the world, creating a more breastfeeding friendly society for mothers and babies everywhere.

-Claire Sandler

Jen Starks, Owner

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Umbilical Cord Care & Cloth Diapers

Umbilical Cord Care & Cloth Diapers

When families are getting ready for baby's arrival, they are often concerned about the umbilical cord and using cloth diapers right away.

My son, Tyler- 1 day old

Common Questions:

1.  Should I wait until the cord falls off before I start using my diapers?
2.  Should I only use cloth diapers with low-rise features in order to keep the diapers from touching the cord?
3.  If I start using the diapers right away and the diapers are touching the cord, will this be problematic?

Our Solution:

Good news!  I have a simple solution to ease your mind.  Our midwife (Layla) and family doctor (Dr. Ness) recommended that we swab the cord with a Qtip and rubbing alcohol after each change.  This process prevents infection while drying up the cord (which encourages it to fall off).

What to Expect:

Each baby's cord falls off at a different time.  Your baby's cord will be softer than usual if you choose to use cloth diapers right away.  Therefore, it will probably take a little longer than the average to fall off.  My daughter's was gone by 2 weeks and my son's was 3 weeks.

Warning Signs: 
Make sure you aren't having any weird smells or other signs of infection like oozing green mucus or painfulness when swabbing around it.  If so, you might need to cover it and apply an antibacterial ointment. It's ok to have a little bleeding and covering it up will help heal it quicker.  Of course, if you are seeing signs of infection, I recommend seeing your family doctor/pediatrician.  It's better to be proactive than wait around hoping for the best.

Disclaimer:  I'm sure there are other valid ways to care for the umbilical cord while using cloth diapers.  This is simply a recommendation based on our advice from our primary caregivers and what worked well for our family.  I am not a medical professional, so it is always best to consult with your primary caregiver.

I'm interested in hearing more suggestions.  Have you asked your midwife, OB-Gyn, family doctor about this?  What were their recommendations?

Missing those small moments after birth,

Jen Starks, 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Giveaway- GroVia's Curious About Cloth Kit ($60 value)

Well, we reach our 1,500 fan mark!  Are you ready for our current giveaway?  This is a great prize for those new to cloth, those new to GroVia's diapers, or for someone interested in getting a little sample to add to their stash.  

The Kit Contains:

  • 1 Cloth Shell
  • 1 Cloth Shell
  • 2 Stay Dry Soaker Pads
  • 20 BioSoaker® Pads
  • 1 Wetbag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Jen Starks, Owner 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farm Tales- Peas, if you Please!

Every other Wednesday morning, I am working on a farm with a "working CSA membership".  Basically, I pay money to work on a farm and then receive a bunch of in-season organic produce.  :) It's definitely a win-win situation for the farm.  Thanks to my husband, I feel like I am on vacation every other Wed.  This was my view for the morning as I listened to peacocks, roosters, horses, and birds all around me. I never get 3 hours of peace like this!

Today we hoed & weeded around our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. All our plants have a drip line watering them now, since it has been so incredibly dry here.  As a result, the weeds were growing full force next to our veggies.  I personally spent a lot of time harvesting snap peas, while consuming nearly as much as I picked. :)

We gathered a bunch of snap peas and I look forward to eating them as snacks, in dinners, and on salads.

We filled almost 2 bushels and half of a bushel is going to a local restaurant to be served to their customers.  Besides the snap peas, we received baby greens, dinosaur kale, rainbow chard, kohlrabi (which I have no idea what to do with this yet!), arugula, radishes, and broccoli.  As a bonus, I also got to get in the strawberry garden and pick a pint before I left.

Any recipe suggestions?


Jen Starks, Owner

Monday, June 18, 2012

Colon Cleanse for Father's Day

For the most part, I stuck to the typical Father's Day routine.  We started out with "breakfast in bed" after letting Daddy to sleep in a little.  Then we went to church, socialized after mass, and went home for my toddler's naptime.  He was able to relax and have some alone time during the naptime. After naptime, we hit the pool with my extended family and I chased after the kids when he opted to lounge in a sunny spot.  Once we were home, he took a nap while I played with our kiddos.  This type of Father's Day has become typical and I think he had a really nice day.

One thing he wasn't anticipating was part of his gift.....a colon cleansing kit. :)  I have no idea how great this particular kit is going to work out as there are a bunch of options in the store.  The idea came to me when he had been recently complaining that he was feeling really sluggish all the time and how his shorts were starting to fit a bit uncomfortably tight.  Ah, maybe a cleanse would help, I thought.

The colon cleanse kits claim to shed the body of toxins in the large intestine and colon bringing more mental alertness, higher energy levels, better digestion of food, minor weight loss, better concentration, and an overall feeling of better health.

This is not the type of thing he'd usually be interested in doing, so at the very least I could tell him it is a bit of a joke gift.  But secretly, it's not.  I mean, if I can purchase gift certificates to a spa to help him feel relaxed and rejuvenated, perhaps the effects of this "experiment" would lend similar results.  Right?

Well, he chuckled when I gave it to him and said he'd give it a try. Who knows, maybe it will be what he asks for next year for Father's Day. :o)

Jen Starks, Owner

p.s.  As a random note, I highly recommend NOT googling "colon cleanse" in the images section.    Big.mistake. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DIY Activity: Ping-Pong Family

I just came across this great craft that I MUST do as soon as I can get to the store to buy ping-pong balls.   This is a great activity that has so much versatility, great for role-playing and creativity.  The picture below is a different activity about "feelings" (also great idea!) but I couldn't find a picture besides this for a good example of what this project looks like.

Perfect for:
-Wading Pool/Water Table
-Traveling in the car & trips in general
-Sand Play
-Quiet time in room
-Working out "real life encounters" with friends/family members by role playing
-Birthday gifts for child's friends

(Check out the link below the pic to learn more about the feelings activity for play therapy purposes.)
You'll Need:

6-12 Ping-Pong Balls
empty egg carton (cardboard preferred)
permanent markers
poster paints (optional)


Draw faces on the Ping-Pong balls to represent various family members (including pets). After letting the markers dry thoroughly, the Ping-Pong family is ready to move into their egg carton house, where they can be stored and transported.  The "house" can be decorated inside and out with poster paints.  Encourage your child to play with the Ping-Pong family and make up stories about them.  The permanent markers allow the "family" in bathtubs and wading pools.  New family or friends can be easily added.

*Activity was found in the book, Storytimes for two-year-olds by Nichols, Judy (pg. 86)

Have fun!


Jen Starks, Owner

Monday, June 11, 2012

Raw Foods for Summer

I've asked my good friend, Jill Welch from The Kitchen Goddess, if she'd share with us some recommendations for eating raw foods this summer.  I'd love to having a go-to list for ideas, especially since I am new to eating raw.  Thanks Jill!

Jill Welch, The Kitchen Goddess

The benefits from raw foods are so valuable that it is a worthy endeavor to learn how to include them in your daily diet. Raw fruits and vegetables, are loaded with enzymes and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are nutrients that come from the sun and are proven to have cancer fighting properties. Most phytonutrients are destroyed in cooking.
Summer is the best time to eat raw foods because they are cooling, refreshing and light. It is a relief not to cook in the heat of the summer. So, what to eat raw in the summer time?? Well, of course have green smoothies. Substitute a meal a few days a week with a green smoothie. Eat salads galore; whatever combination you can think of. I like to use left- over grain, beans or meat and add raw vegetables that are in season. Dress with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon or lime and sea salt. Try salads with quinoa and raw vegetables.  Pair black beans with avocado, corn, tomato, red bell pepper, cilantro, green onion and lime. I like to have a bottle of umeboshi vinegar always on hand for quick pickles of yellow squash, zucchini and carrots, or to drizzle on a vine ripe heirloom tomato.
Naturally fermented vegetables are raw with an added benefit of probiotics, they are great as a salad or sandwich topping or a side dish. Try making naturally fermented pickles at home this summer with green beans, cucumbers, squash or okra.
Cucumber salad is a must in the summer months. Here is my current favorite combination for cucumber salad:
Cucumber salad
6 (small) cucumbers sliced- if you are not growing them;buy organic, small, soft skinned cucumbers
1/2 to 1 red onion- sliced thin
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 Tbl umeboshi vinegar
1 to 2 Tbl brown rice vinegar
 Liquid stevia- a few drops
herbamare or other natural seasoning with sea salt and herbs, to taste
white pepper to taste
Mix all together and let marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving.
 Summer eating makes me think of pesto- eat traditional basil pesto, while basil is in season. Utilize the over- abundance of zucchini to make raw noodles by grating long strips of the vegetable and topping it with homemade pesto. Zucchini, raw,  also makes great hummus; use it  in place of garbanzo beans in your favorite recipe. 
Whatever grows locally in your area in the summer, try it raw, in salads, smoothies, pickles or purees. You will get more nutrients from your food if it is organically grown and have less impact in the planet if it is local and in season. Better yet grow it yourself and eat it strait from the garden.

Jill Welch, owner of The Kitchen Goddess, is a natural foods educator and chef. She offers private and group cleanseshealth consultations, and private cooking. She has 18 years of experience in helping people improve their diet and lifestyle, lose weight and stabilize their moods by adopting a natural foods way of life. She provides guidance on the role of food in creating vibrant health and chronic disease and gives instruction on how to prepare meals that are healthy, beautiful and delicious.You can visit her at her website or on Facebook!/pages/The-Kitchen-Goddess/90151382286 

Jen Starks, Owner

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strawberry Vinaigrette-YUM!

I'm very excited about adding this dressing to my options with all the greens we have been receiving in our local in-season produce.  This was absolutely delicious-perfect combination of sweet and tart!  Hope you enjoy it too.

1 C. strawberries (sliced)
4 t. rice vinegar
4 t. lemon juice
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. honey
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. each of garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil leaves, dried parsley flakes, pepper
1/2 C olive oil

Puree strawberries in blender. Add remaining ingredients except oil.  Blend, then gradually add oil while blending on low speed.

Recipe from Simply in Season by Lind, Mary Beth & Hockman-Wert-Cathleen

I used up all my rice vinegar in this recipe, so I decided to reuse the bottle for the dressing after rinsing it out.

My son, Tyler, enjoyed it so much that he insisted on licking out the leftovers in the bowl. :)


Jen Starks,