Friday, July 30, 2010

All Terrain Company: Kids Eczema Cream Review

I recently admitted that I am a 'lotion addict' and that I am pretty much always open to trying out a new lotion, particularly if it is natural and has the potential to help with eczema.  When presented with the opportunity to test out a product from the All Terrain Company I knew I wanted to try out the Kids Ezema Cream.  We've had some success with colloidial oatmeal products, and its the feature ingredient in the Kids Eczema Cream.

Other key ingredients include Aloe,  Shea Butter, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree, definitely a soothing and moisturizing mix.  It's stinky though; not overly so, and the scent fades fast, but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you there was a noticable odour.  With ingredients like eucalyptus and tea tree however, scentless isn't particularly an option.

The Kids Eczema Cream is thick, but it blends into the skin easily and leaves the skin soft, cool and silky, not sticky or sweaty.  I tried it out on the boys eczema and it seemed to noticeably smooth and soften his poor inflamed skin.  I also used the Kids Eczema Cream on the bumps on the back of my arms and was surprised to find that my arms too felt quite lovely the following morning.  Needless to say, the bottle is emptying very quickly!

As a Company, the All Terrain Company strives to provide "Natural Remedies for Outdoor Enthusiasts", their product packaging is all made from recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials and they donate 10% of their product cost to an Environmental Charity (you choose one of six) and have numerous environmental programs and partners.  At $7.99 for a 2oz bottle of Kids Eczema Cream, you're donating $0.80 cents to charity, which is not much, but we all know the little things add up.

I've truly enjoyed the All Terrain Company's Kids Eczema Cream; its all natural and left both our skin both smoother and softer.  I rate it a 4.5/5.

Check out the All Terrain Company:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 11: Post Ideas

Although I haven't been 'keeping up' with my Problogger challenge, I am reading the challenge daily and thinking about what it means and perhaps spending a few moments working on it.  Today is about brainstorming posts so that we're always one step ahead of the "what should I write about" dilemma.

I have had a running list in my head for a while, but only just started truly brainstorming blog posts over the past month or so.  I've toyed with the idea of having regular topic posts on specific days; I love blogs that are that organized and that full of information.  I love routine and I strive to meet deadlines, even if they are self-imposed.

Unfortunately I think that goal might be a little lofty, since starting the Mommy's Piggy Tales eight weeks ago, I've found myself struggling (and late two weeks in a row) to meet those weekly deadlines.  Imagine if I gave  myself multiple deadlines each week?

Although I'm not totally ready for a weekly schedule, thanks to the Day 1 challenge, I now I have a clear picture of what I want to write about and have decided to categorize my posts to help to guide my brainstorms and develop my blog.

As time passes, I hope a trend will develop and my posts will fit into one of the following categories.
  • Product Reviews
  • Working Momma
  • Food & Intolerances
  • Green Living
Do you categorize your posts?  How do you ensure that you keep your posts aligned with your goals?

Memories 8: Grade 6 / age 11

My teacher in grade 6 was different, he was passionate in a way that was completely unknown to me.  He approached everything with such gusto and enthusiasm and he was both authentic and inspiring.  In Mr. Hoy's class I felt like I could and would do anything I wanted with my life.  We were in grade 6, and we still had a circle time.  We sat on the floor at the front of the room and talked about current events and Mr. Hoy would read to us, we got minor marks for participation, but that wasn't why everyone participated.

Even the "tough" kids spoke up when it was their turn; one time it was this guy Tim's turn to share a current event and he obviously hadn't prepared, eventually he blurted out "The Blue Jays Won the World Series", even though it had happened months ago.  We all laughed and its actually a fond memory, but my point, he participated.

Mr. Hoy was observant, he was the first teacher to notice that I didn't know my times tables (remember back in grade 3 when all we did was play?) and send me to learning assistance.  Very early in the year, he seated me next to a boy who had downs syndrome.  Jaime was a year older than me and a very sweet guy.  He loved Wrestling (WWF), The Canucks and playing basketball and he loved to chat and tell stories.  He also angered easily and threw chairs on a whim; most of the other kids just seemed to aggravate him.

We sat together for most of the year, although other kids might have, I never saw it as a bad thing.  It made sense to me that I, who enjoyed Jaime's company (for the most part) should sit with him.  When I was around, I was respectful and kind and so was he, which meant far fewer outbursts, which is truly better for everyone.

Jaime taught me about respect, about acceptance and about seeing a person for WHO they are; truly taking the time to try and feel their feelings, live their experiences and understand their perspective.  When you do that, judgment becomes much more difficult.  My Mom started that lesson very young, but Jaime exemplified it for me. 

This is post 8/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales
Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Live Clean Baby Review & Giveaway

I am always on the lookout for new, environmentally-friendly products, but at the same time I am always cautious when new products appear in mainstream drugstores.  There are so many products out there labeled as "green", "natural" and "environmentally-friendly" and sadly these terms are not regulated.  Any company can make these claims without any back-up required.

When I first saw Live Clean Baby in my local London Drugs, I picked up the packages, read through them, sniffed the bottles and put them back on the shelf.  I wasn't particularly in need of any personal care products for the boy and I'm always hesitant to try new products before doing a little bit of research (which is likely how you landed here).

But when Live Clean Baby offered me a chance to try out their products for the purposes of this review, I was more than happy to take them up on the offer.  Live Clean Baby is a Canadian Company that "promises performance with natural, gentle ingredients - caring for baby's delicate skin using plant based formulations enriched with certified organic botanicals that are safe for baby and safe for the earth."  I had the chance to try out three products from the Live Clean Baby line: the Fragrance Free Bar Soap, Moisturizing Body Lotion and the Non-Petroleum Jelly.  

I personally hate shower gel, so I was super excited to try a bar soap out on the boy.  The newest addition to the line, Live Clean Baby Bar Soap left us both feeling squeaky clean; no slimy residue on the skin, the soap lathered easily and all without any skin redness, itchiness or irritation.  The boy loves playing with the bar of soap, chasing it all around his ducky bath.  He cried momentarily when he rubbed his soapy hands in his eyes, but I probably would have too.  In terms of the environment, Live Clean Baby bar soap is made from 99% plant ingredients, SLS and sulfate free, paraben and preservative free, hypoallergenic and pediatrician tested.  And at only $6.99 for three bars, its definitely in my price range.
When it comes to creams and lotions I hate it admit it, but I'm an addict.  I have tons of half-full bottles of lotion floating around the house.  Live Clean mouisturizing baby lotion is 98% plant based, including extracts from Chamomile, Lavender and Aloe.  Although the lotion is thinner than I prefer, it absorbed quickly and left my skin feeling hydrated and cool with a gentle scent that reminded me of baby powder.  The boys skin felt moisturized in the morning, when applied after his evening bath, but it didn't seem to affect his eczema, for better or worse. 

The final product we tested out was the Live Clean Baby Non-Petroleum Jelly.  We use Aquaphor on a regular basis and I had hoped that this product might be able to tackle the boys eczema itch in the same way.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  The Non-Petroleum jelly is made from 100% natural and sustainable ingredients and is smoother and not quite as sticky as either Vaseline and Aquaphor.  I used it primarily on the boys' chest and chin as a barrier; it seemed to help minimize rashes and drool discomfort from all the teething he's been subject to these days. I think Live Clean Baby Non-Petroleum Jelly has great potential as a barrier cream for diaper rash, fortunately I didn't have the need to test this theory out.

On the whole I was impressed with Live Clean Baby Products; they lived up to their claims, performed their functions well and with an average price of $6.99, Live Clean Baby products are available at a price that most of us can afford, while keeping the best interests of the Earth in mind.  I give Live Clean Baby products a 4/5.

Want to try Live Clean Baby out yourself?  We're giving away two full sets of the Live Clean Baby Collection!

Enter To Win:
The Full 'Live Clean Baby' Collection
(two to be awarded)

The First Entry is mandatory; all other entries will be disqualified if it is not included.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  

First Entry: Visit the Live Clean website and tell us which product you'd like to try.

Second Entry: Follow the Momma Stuff Blog via Google Friend Connect (left sidebar)

Third Entry:  Like the Momma Stuff Blog on Facebook

Fourth Entry: Follow the Momma Stuff Blog on Twitter and retweet this giveaway (once per day - leave a link) 

'Live Clean Baby' products are good for your babe and the environment - enter the #Giveaway @mommastuffblog #CMTT
Giveaway closes Sunday August 15th at 8pm.  Winner will be determined by a random number generator. Winner will be notified via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new name will be drawn and contacted.

Contest is now closed.
Congratulations to our Winner - Comment #6 Jeanine

Monday, July 26, 2010

Funny Hunny Bunny Organics Toddler Tee Review

Daddy-O Tee in the garden
Before the boy was born my mother-in-law had never really shopped organic; she bought the boy beautiful bamboo sheets and couldn't help remarking how plain and boring all of the organic products in the store were.  I explained that the natural dyes used in sustainable clothing is often less vibrant than traditional dyes.  That doesn't mean however, that sustainable clothing is boring.

Funny Hunny Bunny Organics (FHB) proves just that point, with their fun alternatives to the 'same old' organic clothing.  The products are adorned with adorable, hand-painted/printed images that just make you say aww.  With one simple t-shirt your child can instantly be transformed into a doctor or a rockstar.  We chose to try out the Daddy-O tee, I can't resist a little man in a tie!

All FHB products are made from 100% certified organic cotton in sweatshop free conditions.  Each design is hand painted/screened using non-toxic paints, and those products that are coloured, use non-toxic dyes and/or food grade hydrogen peroxide.  All of these actions support the company's "main provide a healthy garment for children that's stylish, fun and has a positive impact on the environment. We hope that in doing so, it will peak people's interests in buying and learning more about organic cotton so that our environment can become a safer place to live & grow."  Personally, I love a company that takes the education and outreach component of green living to heart.

We tested out the Daddy-O tee and when it arrived all beautifully wrapped with tissue and a hemp bow, I almost didn't want to put it on the boy, knowing it would be covered in drool in mere minutes.  I found that the tee was generous in size, in particular I found it long.  The cotton is extremely soft, though quite thin.  The tie painted on the tee is bright and vibrant and shows no sign of wear after a couple cycle's through the washing machine.  And of course its environmentally friendly and absolutley adorable.  The boy wore his Daddy-O tee at my birthday bbq and was definitely the most handsome man in attendance.

Funny Hunny Bunny Daddy-O teeFHB was created by a woman looking for the perfect, environmentally-conscious gift for all her new momma friends; when she couldn't find it, Funny Hunny Bunny Organics was born.  They carry certified organic onsies, tees, hats and shoes.  At $30 for a single t-shirt, the price is on par with other sustainable clothing lines and when you consider that the products are all hand painted/screened the price isn't a total deal-breaker.  I'd definitley buy a FHB Tee as a gift, though I might have a slightly harder time splurging on the boy, but I'm cheap and that's just me.  The Funny Hunny Bunny Organics Daddy-O tee rates a 4/5!

Don't forget to check out Funny Hunny Bunny on Facebook and Twitter!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday Dear Amber,
Happy Birthday to me.

I turned 29 this week and was totally spoiled.  The hubs and family got me the Nikon D3000 DSLR camera that I have been eyeing for months.  My Mom and sister brought over store-made gluten-free pizza on my actual birthday and today we're having a BBQ so that the entire family (and hopefully a few friends) can drop by to celebrate. 

We're having a meat smorgasboard, ribs, souvlaki pork chops, lamb chops and tandori chicken, complimented by corn on the cob, gluten-free pasta salad, homemade potato salad, veggies and dip, layer dip with taco chips and gluten-free angel food cake.  It's taking all my will-power not to eat the cake, it smells so good, and feels just like real angel food cake.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy cool whip for the cake yesterday, so I'll be off to the store again in just a few moments.

Until then, my new favourite photo of the hubs and the boy; kisses after a nap.

hubs and the boy

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Memories 7: Grade 5 / age 10

As long as I can remember, every other year, my Popo (my dad's mom) has gone to China in December to visit her home in the village. The year I was in grade 5, she decided to take my aunt, her oldest child and myself, her oldest grandchild. My Popo doesn't really speak English and I was scared of going without my family, so my Dad decided to come too.

I got a Nintendo Game Boy for Christmas that year; I remember it clearly because my Mom and Dad gave it to me in the airport parking lot, just before we left. I’m really not much for video games, but when you are the only kid on a bus full of people speaking Chinese (which I don’t speak) there is a distinct need to entertain yourself.

While we were away, my Dad made me wear a whistle on a grungy old rope everywhere I went. If I didn’t have the whistle on, I couldn’t leave the room, even if we were just going downstairs for breakfast. I hated it, but at the same time I was infinitely thankful I never had to use it.

I remember one particular evening, my Dad decided to test me, he should have known that I am always eager to please and always followed instructions. He had to leave me in the hotel room alone for a few moments and he explained to me that if someone came to the door, I was to say “bin guo” (who is it?) and not open the door unless it was someone I knew.

When I heard a knock on the door, I obediently said “bin guo” – the knocking just got louder. After going through this about three times, I dragged the chair over to the door and looked through the little peep hole. All I saw was a thumb coming towards me, covering up the peep hole. I threw the chair out of the way, laughed and pulled the door wide open.

It was my Dad. Things could have gone so wrong if it wasn’t him, but somehow I knew it was. I knew he was testing me and although he gave me a bit of a lecture for opening the door, we laughed about it at the same time.

We went a lot of amazing places on that trip, and in particular I’d love to share photos from Thailand, but the album from my trip wasn’t in my memory box (that I finally dug out), so that will have to wait. Instead, I hope you enjoy this picture of me, at wildlife reserve in Malaysia. The deer was tame, primarily because everyone (myself included) fed them pieces of sugar cane that were sold at little kiosks. It probably wasn’t the healthiest diet for the deer, and I quickly figured out that they actually seemed to like eating the leaves better.

I’m so fortunate to have had the chance to travel internationally so young, although he won't remember much, if anything from the trip, I’m glad I have already had the chance to take the boy to China already.  I look forward to taking him again when he’s much older and much more aware of his surroundings and experiences. I have a hard time imagining that my childhood cultural experiences haven’t enhanced my ability to be open-minded and welcoming to all people, I hope those are traits that he inherits from me.

I’ve added photos to a few of my other posts in this series:
My Perm in Grade 2
A Flower Girl in Grade 3

This is post 7/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales
Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 Survival Tips for the Working Momma

Before I went back to work, we went through various iterations of what our 'working life' would look like and when the time came we slowly found a routine that worked our little family.  Our routine and our system is continually evolving and in some moments it feels as if it is failing us, but we keep trucking forward and do the best that we can.  Every mommas experience is going to be different, but here are my top 5 tips to survive life as a working momma.

1.      Have confidence in your caregivers
You have to trust.  You have to believe that your child is safe and happy.  You have to.  With family its easy, but with daycare, with someone completely new, it's a little harder. 
The boy goes to daycare two days a week; our daycare provider L and I hit it off right away and I was confident that if we could connect this easily, the boy could too.

We did gradual entry and even though he only goes a couple days a week he stopped crying EVERY day when I dropped him off after less than a month.  When I pick the boy up, he's consistently happy, well-fed and well-napped and I trust that L will contact me if I was needed.  Because I trust, I can do my job, without being plagued by the dreaded mommy guilt (at least not too much).

You may not be so lucky as to find a caregiver that feels 'right' on your first encounter, but its worth the effort to find someone that is a match for your family.  Seriously, find someone you can trust. 

2.      Maximize the time you DO have with your child
The boys waking hours allow for about an hour and forty-five minutes between when we get home and when he goes for his bath.  The boys play while I cook and then after dinner, the hubs cleans up a bit while the boy and I play.  Sometimes we all go for a walk and I don't make lunches or do chores unless the boys go out on a bike ride.  I do my chores after the boy is in bed, because I want every second with that little man that I can squeeze in.
On his daycare days, the boy and I commute together; I opted to find childcare in the vicinity of my work instead of my home.  Having the boy right there close by makes me comfortable, I can get to him if he needs me. It also means that I get close to an hour of time with the boy that he would otherwise be spent at daycare.  Granted it’s not the highest quality time, but we manage to entertain ourselves.  I can't wait until he starts talking so he can tell me of his adventures.  Try and find a way to make the time you do have work for your family, let the things that you can afford to, slide.

3.      Love your job (or at least aspects of your job)
I am lucky.  I went to University and studied Environmental Studies and Biology and I work in Environmental Services for my Provincial Government.  I work to ensure that both the needs of our public and the needs of our environment are considered during infrastructure development.  I believe in the work that I do and I am proud to be a part of it.

And despite all of that it was still hard to leave my child and go to work.  The first day, I kept telling myself, 'thank goodness I love my job'.  And it was true, if I didn't it would have been such a struggle. 
I'm not so naive as to think that everyone has a job they love and I know finding a new job is often not an option, but I urge you, try and find one aspect of your job that you are passionate about.  

What made you take that job in the first place? What about your job makes you happy? Or leaves you feeling satisfied? Or like your making a difference?  Find that small positive grain in your work life and embrace it.  When you feel purpose at work, the days pass faster, which means your little one will be back in your arms in the blink of an eye.
4.      Establish a baseline routine
I am all about the routine, having a regular sequence of events within a particular timeframe.  With so many balls in the air, working momma's need to have a plan if they ever want to accomplish anything.  I get up before the boy (if he's awake he plays in his bed) to shower, dress and make breakfast.  The hubs cleans up the kitchen while I dress the boy and get the food and diaper bag together.  We're all out the door in just over an hour from when I got up.

The point is that in order to enjoy the time you have together, it helps to feel confident everything will get done.  Find a routine that works for your family's needs and don't be afraid to do it all the time.  The routine and the order of things, might get changed by circumstances occasionally or over time and thats ok, when you have a baseline routine, you have a tried and true system to revert back to in times of chaos.

5.      Embrace the help you have
In the early days the hubs wasn't always sure how best to help me, or the boy; when he didnt feel that he could help us, he helped with the chores.  He regularly does laundry and dishes, he sweeps and cleans and hes done all sorts of home improvement projects including making our backyard safer for the boy.  

Now that Im back at work and the boy is older, our parental roles have evolved, the boys have their time together and although we both have chores that we do more frequently, we help each other out where we can and do our best to acknowledge that we are both working hard to have the best for our family.  We still fling blame around sometimes, but I try to embrace the help the hubs has to give without judgement and I hope he does the same.  I truly believe it’s a perspective thing, try and see the glass as half full ladies optimism can go a long way in improving your outlook and your experience.

Are you a working Momma? 
What are your tips for surviving as a working momma?

This post was inspired by Day 2 of the Problogger challenge, my elevator pitches post from yesterday and Exploits of a Military Mamas Dear Working Mama's post.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 1: Elevator Pitch

Ever since I read about the SITS Girls Problogger Pitch I've been sitting on the fence about participating. I want to ramp up my blog, make it better, find my niche and draw in readers, but like most Momma's, I don't particularly have a lot of time and this particular project requires DAILY effort for an entire month. Oh, and the icing on the cake? Participation costs $15 to buy an e-copy of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog; this is a good thing in that wasting money is a pet peeve, so it will act as inspiration to continue this endeavour, the bad news? Well isn't that obvious? I spent $15 on something that could be classified as frivolous, when in fact I'm supposed to be curbing my spending. My apologies to the hubs for the extra expenditure.

Today's task is to generate an elevator pitch, a short concise statement that encompasses all thing, Momma Stuff Blog. The goal is to consider not only what I want to blog about, but also what the readers are looking for. To try and find a way to express what I have to offer and draw readers in by meeting their needs, answering their questions and having a clear defined purpose for the blog. I decided to go with the suggestion to have both a short and a longer elevator pitch; I am happy with my original blog tagline, as I feel that it truly does express all of the topics I would like to address, but it doesn't exactly pull the reader into the mix, hopefully my new longer elevator pitch can meet that need.

Although I've known what I wanted to write about since I made the decision to start blogging in early 2010, this task still took some thought; defining the goals of the blog makes them real, but it also makes them achievable. Although I've had lots of product review posts (and these will continue), I'd like to start really developing the personal aspects of the blog and I have this task to thank for that. As a reader, you can expect more posts on food sensitivities and diet as well as my struggles with working full-time in the near future.

So my dear readers, what do you think of my elevator pitches?
Do they make you want to stop by again tomorrow?

Short Elevator Pitch:
Product reviews and a glimpse into the life of a full-time working, Earth-loving, gluten-free Momma.

Long Elevator Pitch:
The Momma Stuff Blog is an environmentally conscious blog that focuses on product reviews, aimed to help readers make educated purchases, while touching on the struggles and survival methods of raising a toddler while working full-time outside of the home. The Momma Stuff Blog also shares personal experiences with the management of food sensitivities and allergies including tips and recipes for the exclusion of gluten, dairy and soy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

pediped® footwear review

We have received many pairs of shoes for the boy, some new and many used but I have only bought three pairs.  All three pairs have been worn daily until they were outgrown and all three pairs were pediped® footwear.  I did a lot of research before I bought the boy his first shoes, I wanted something soft and natural, not restricting around the ankle but still durable, supportive and well-made.

Pediped® footwear has three collections 'The Originals', 'flex' and 'couture'.  We have only tried out the Originals, but they have definitely met my expectations.  Given the track record, our next shoe purchase will definitely be a pair of pediped flex.  Pediped Originals are a soft leather soled shoes that resemble the shape of the foot.  Without the thick rubber sole I didn't have to worry about the boy tripping as he learned to walk, or even when he was crawling.  The elastic faux laces, velcro and generous width all make it super easy to fit the shoes onto the boys feet.

The sole itself feels smooth, but despite my concerns, they truly are slip-resistant, I found that when the boy was just gaining his balance, he actually seemed to be more stable with his pediped® footwear on.  Now that he is walking, running even, I'm happy to report that I have yet to see him slip as a result of his shoes.  And even though he has been wearing his current pair of pediped footwear during his foray into walking over the past two months, the soles show no sign of wear despite their regular use outdoors.

Most importantly the boy seems comfortable in his pediped® footwear, he has never really pulled or tugged on his shoes (until his recent obsession with velcro) and he rarely, if ever, fights us when its time to put them on.  In fact I sent the boy to my Mom house the other day wearing some second hand sandals that were a bit cooler, but he still came back home in his pediped footwear.  My Mom informed me he was much more comfy in his Brady pediped® sandals.
pedipedĀ® footwear

I love that the inside of the shoes feels cushy, like memory foam.  I remember my delight the first time I stuck my fingers in his sweaty little shoes and could feel the boys toe indentations.  He had just learned to pull himself at the time and as I ran my fingers over the grooves in his shoes, I relished in the moment hoping to keep the memory with me forever.

In addition to all of the other great features, pediped footwear is podiatrist recommended, and reasonably priced for the quality of the product.  Did I mention they come in tons of adorable styles and are super cute?  If I had a little girl I would definitely have more trouble buying only one pair per size.  We love pediped® footwear at our house, and I truly have no complaints; in my eyes, an absolute 5/5!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Memories 6: Age 9 / Grade 4

In grade 4, my teacher Ms. Stevens did an exchange program, which meant that for half of the year, I had an Australian teacher named Ms. Walsh.  I really don't remember much of what we did in class, though I remember thinking how incredibly cool it was to have a teacher with an accent. 

I also remember that we didn't do things quite the same way that the other grade 4 classes did, I don't really remember any specifics, but I do remember things were different, my teacher was from across the world after all.

Not to imply that grade 4 wasn't significant, it was.  I believe it was the year that my softball team merged with another team; I would play ball with most of these girls until the time I was 18 and some of them, even longer than that.  Our team was called the Flames (I helped come up with the name) and my dad and my friend's dad Jim were the coaches.

I was a pitcher and first baseman; I'm pretty sure I started on first since I could catch the ball consistently, not that most of us could throw the ball with any regularity.  As for pitching, I started as soon as it was an option, my dad helped train me, I went to pitching clinics put on by the city and our team even payed one of the pitching coaches to come out to our practices to coach us girls.  Now a days that's common practice, but back then it was pretty unheard of.

As a team, we were pretty bad, we lacked both the skills and concentration needed for the game and we lost most of our games that year.  In time, we would come to be a very competitive, but if you'd seen us at the time, it probably would have been very hard to imagine.

Although I love the game, I am even more thankful for what softball gave me.  It gave me friends, from other schools that I would have never otherwise met, it gave me new social skills and taught me about teamwork, that the sum of a whole is worth more than the individual.  Softball taught me about commitment, loyalty and spirit.  All of which I think are skills that have translated into other aspects of my life and continue to benefit me and those around me.  Yay for organized sports!

This is post 6/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales 
Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chip Cookies

gluten-free oatmeal chip cookie recipe
The first time I made cookies I was about 11, I decided that I wanted to make some peanut butter cookies to take to girl guides, or a class party or some other event.  I diligently followed the recipe and was devestated when the cookies came out hard as a rock and jet black on the bottom.  Apparently no one told me I shouldn't use my Mom's old chicken-cooking, cookie sheets to make cookies.

I tried again the next day and had much more success.  Once I bit into that first delicious morsel I was sold.  For just a little bit of work, I could have delicious treats that tasted so much better than anything store-bought.  Not to mention the praise that I received from my family who gobbled up my cookies.  I made cookies once a week for years after that, usually on Friday and often more than one batch.

When I went gluten-free three years ago, I missed cookies.  I tried a lot of recipes, including this one from Gluten-Free Girl and this one from Ginger Lemon Girl, which were both delicious but not quite what I was looking for.  I found both of the recipes yielded gritty, grainy and crumbly cookies.  Over the years, I have followed cookie recipes exactly, I have adjusted cookie recipes and I have adapted my own recipes, but I'm sad to say that I still hadn't found a gluten-free cookie recipe that I couldn't resist.

Until this week.

I had a realization that although I had tried many recipes, I often used substitutions such as applesauce for some of the butter, and perhaps some agave for the sugar to try and combat the dry crumbliness and increase the nutritional value.  Now that I think about it however, I suspect this fundamental change was also part of the reason that my gluten-free cookies never truly seemed to 'hit the spot' like the gluten-full cookies of my past.

At 9pm on Wednesday night, I decided to make full-fat, full-sugar gluten-free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  They turned out amazing, in fact the hubs has helped me eat quite a few of them (and he usually avoids gluten-free treats except when they are fresh).  I think I'm going to need to throw some in the freezer pretty quickly for fear of getting fat!  These are seriously delicious and taste just like regular oatmeal chip cookies.  If you're craving gluten-free cookies, you HAVE to try them!

gluten-free oatmeal chip cookie recipe

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chip Cookies 

(adapted from Company's Coming: Cookies by Jean Pare)

  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup softened butter, margarine or shortening
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened conconut
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease your cookie sheets or lay down your silicone mat.  (My silpat mat worked way better than PAM spray)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (excluding coconut, oatmeal and chips), use a whisk for even mixing and the addition of a little bit of air.
  3.  Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. 
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, add vanilla and stir in.
  5. Add the previously mixed dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add the oats and coconut, mix well.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
  8. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are golden.
  10. Immediatley transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
  11. Try not to eat too many at once!! 
yield: 5-6 dozen cookies
    I just want to note that not all gluten-free folks can handle oats, even if they are gluten-free.  If you are gluten-free and haven't tested your system with oats, proceed with caution and consume only a small quantity the first few times to see how your body responds.

    This recipe can be made dairy-free depending on your choice of fat (I really like golden shortening for my cookies, but I'm trying to eliminate soy from the boys diet, so I went with butter) and your choice of chocolate chips.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Memories 5: Age 8 / Grade 3

    Grade 3 was a weird year for me; there was a lot of immigration into my City and my class was almost entirely English as a Second Language (ESL).  I think there were less kids that spoke english than there was kids who spoke other languages.

    Grade 3 almost felt like full-time recess.  I learned to play recorder; in fact I still remember how to play 'hot cross buns' to this day.  Not an impressive feat I know, but I'm not all that musically inclined so I'm impressed.  Perhaps we learned music in this particular class, because its universal; you don't need to speak the same language when your playing music.  It's about the sound, the soul and the feeling. 

    I think my teacher, hoped that she could bring us together with art, with the recorder and with drama.  She wanted to find something to unite us children, for to see that we were truly all just variations on the same, even if we had trouble communicating.  We spent a significant amount of time on drama and I remember we did a play of 'Little Red Riding Hood'.  I was so proud to be Red herself.  I think I was the first (and only) kid to volunteer, but that never mattered to me, I was pretty oblivious.  As an adult I feel uncomfortable doing impressions, accents and other imitations (though the boy is changing that), but it makes me smile to remember how as a child, I embraced the opportunity to become someone else through drama.

    I now know that my Mom complained to the teacher that there was too much fun and not enough learning in my third grade class.  She knew that although my class needed tools like drama to learn the English language, I needed more substantive knowledge for my developing brain.  Although I loved grade three, my Mom was right.

    Although numbers are consistent across language and culture we rarely did any math.  In fact, when we probably should have been introduced to times tables, we were hatching quail's eggs in an incubator that sat in the front of the classroom.  The chicks were so adorable when they finally hatched but this particular trade off would prove to be problematic as time passed.

    In fact, I am a biologist with a university degree and I can't multiply.
    It's truly amazing how the experiences of an eight year old can influence the actions of a lifetime.

    This is post 4/15 and is part of Mommy's Piggy Tales 
    Make sure you check out all the other great posts here!

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    The Rattles Album Review & Giveaway

    The boy LOVES to dance.  When I ask him "do you want me to turn on the music so we can dance?" he will walk over to the stereo and points at it before patiently wait for the music to begin, at which point the booty shaking begins.  He's even started using his arms to dance as of late, just another sign he's getting older and more coordinated.  

    The Rattles are an eclectic band of four anthropomorphic critters, musicians and life-long friends, Gus, Kitty, Sal, and Hal, working with inspirations such as The Beatles, Moxy Fruvous, The Monkees, and They Might Be Giants.  Seriously, that's a pretty fun story for the older kiddo's and don't they look so cute and personable on the cover photo?  I have to say I was hopefuly for this album, I enjoy the music of the Rattles' inspiration and combined with children's lyrics, this could really be an album the whole family could enjoy.

    We were fortunate to receive a preview version of the Rattles new album Rattle On, for the purposes of this review and its super fun to listen to.  The boy started shaking his bum the first time I turned it on (and subsequent times) and really seems to enjoy the peppy feel and strong beats.  For me, the album feels nostalgic; the songs have familiar melodies, (check out track 5, Goodbye Yesterday) which makes the entire album much more enjoyable for the adult ear.  

    The songs definitely have kid-appeal, there's a song about a banana stand and even a cheer type song, R-A-T-T-L-E-S, which the Boy seems to enjoy.  I suspect that as the boy gets to know 'Rattle On' a little more, this might be the one song that starts to drive Momma a little bit crazy, though I'm hoping it doesn't run through my head with the fervor of  "zoom, zoom, zoom - we're going to the moon..." but I think given the fact that its just one song in an entire album, its a good trade-off.

    So after all that, you probably want to hear it for yourself right?  

    The Rattles, single "Wavy Lane" can be Downloaded for Free HERE, their album RATTLE ON will be released August 17, 2010 AND we will be giving away THREE copies of the Album here on the Momma Stuff Blog.

    Enter To Win:
    A free copy of The Rattles new Album, Rattle On
    (three copies to be awarded)

    The First Entry is mandatory; all other entries will be disqualified if it is not included.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  

    First Entry: Tell us why you want to win the Rattles new Album, Rattle On

    Second Entry: Follow the Momma Stuff Blog via Google Friend Connect (left sidebar)

    Third Entry:  Like the Momma Stuff Blog on Facebook

    Fourth Entry:
    Like the Rattles Band on Facebook
    Fifth Entry:Follow the Momma Stuff Blog on Twitter

    Sixth Entry: Follow The Rattles Band on Twitter
     Seventh Entry: RT this giveaway (once per day - leave a link)  

    I'm trying to win @TheRattlesBand Rattle On' album #giveaway from @mommastuffblog (ends 8/1)

    Giveaway closes Sunday August 1st at 8pm.  Winner will be determined by a random number generator. Winner will be notified via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new name will be drawn and contacted.

    Contest is now closed Congratulations to our winners!
    comments #17 Jeannine, #26 Moving Forward and #20 SweetOne624 

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    My Detergent Dilemma

    I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again, the boy and I both have sensitive skin and eczema.  When I was young the dermatologist gave me all sorts of advice, including the fact that I should never use fabric softener or brand name laundry detergent.  Fabric softener, is pretty much all chemical and fragrance, which essentially just means its all irritants for lucky people like us.

    The laundry detergent on the other hand seems a little odd right?  You'd think the big brand name laundry detergents would be the best, but its just not so.  Apparently you get what you pay for; more money equals more pretty smells which equals more irritants and a very itchy, uncomfortable body (at least for me).  Growing up, my Mom bought the cheapest, store brand laundry detergent she could find and we all suffered through crunchy natural smelling towels.  Personally, when I go somewhere where the towels and sheet smell all flowery or scented, it kind of grosses me out, I just like the smell of clean.

    I like to use Nellie's All Natural Washing Soda, and let me tell you there's no room for fillers in Nellie's.  One tablespoon of washing soda does an entire load of laundry in my large front loading machine; it dissolves easily in cold water and leaves our clothes clean and residue free.  The package pictured to the left, is only slightly larger than a medium sized Ziploc Freezer bag and it will wash over 50 loads for only $10.  Nellie's is high efficiency compatible and great for traveling since you need so little and it dissolves so easily.  I took a Ziploc snack bag half full of Nellie's on my three week trip to Asia (with an 8 month old and all the mess that entails) and still came back with about half of it left.  Oh and did I mention the most important part?  With Nellie's there's no filler, no fragrance and no itching or irritation.  Yay Nellie's!

    I've pretty much only used Nellie's on the boy's clothes and although he constantly itches from his eczema I'm confident that Nellie's is not the culprit.  In fact his skin has cleared up dramatically now that I've taken soy, as well as dairy out of his diet, but that's a story for another day.

    The boy and I are on a little mini-vacation this week with my Mom, we're at a cabin a couple hours away from home and we've really been de-stressing and enjoying the chance to have one on one time for an entire week.  Well knowing that in a week the boy could go through tons of clothes, or barely any, I packed for somewhere in between with the inention of doing laundry while I was here.

    But I forgot to bring the Nellie's.

    Of course, we'd already started the laudry and let the machine fill up with water before we realized that we had no soap.  We had to use the soap at the cabin.  We had to use Tide.  We used a very scant amount in the hopes that we could get our clothes clean without any irritation and things seemed to be going fine.  The boy wore pants that had been washed without any concerns, so after bathtime, I lubed him up with his Aquaphor, dressed him in his freshly cleaned sleeper, read him his books and popped him into bed.

    Around 11pm, he started to whine, when it started to elevate into crying, I went in to his room and he was barely awake.  A hand on his tummy and he drifted back to sleep, but as soon as I lifted my hand, the whining started again.  Then I started to notice that he was itching his head, and his neck, and his arms with some serious vigor.  I got him up and immediately felt that his body was covered in a fine sandpaper type rash.  Stupid Tide.  I changed him into his dirty sleeper from the night before, gave him some Benadryl and he drifted back to sleep.

    Now I'm kicking myself for forgetting the Nellie's.  Its essentially irrelevant now since we're going home tomorrow, but I know better than to use brand name detergent and it annoys me that I took the chance.  I guess I was just in need of a gentle reminder.