Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Yes, I Am Breastfeeding My Three Year Old

Happy birthday to my sweet nursling, Daniella, who turns three today. I never pictured myself nursing for this long, but it happened! I want her to self wean so I knew the potential was there...but she is in love with her milk. She primarily nurses only before bed at night and sometimes somewhere between 5 am and 8 am based on our day. Sometimes she still asks for milk at nap time. I am proud to be breastfeeding my three year old. I know that I am providing her with the very best nutrition and antibodies. Between Brandon and Daniella, I have been breastfeeding for 56 months. I have also provided milk for two other children. 

How long have you been breastfeeding?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nursies When the Sun Shines, a Gentle Nightweaning Book (Review with Giveaway, Ends 11/22/13, Worldwide)

Disclosure: I received a free print copy of the book Nursies When the Sun Shines in exchange for my honest opinion about it.

Daniella is now nightweaned and I do believe that the book Nursies When the Sun Shines by Katherine Havener and illustrated by Sara Butcher played a role in that. (This link is where you can buy the print book on Amazon. If you want to buy an e-book version of Nursies When the Sun Shines, you can do so here.)

Daniella will be three years old in just a few short days. She breastfeeds. We have been working on lowering the frequency for about the last year. Until about six months ago, she was still routinely waking during the night and wanting to nurse back to sleep. From the day that Nursies When the Sun Shines arrived, we began discussing no longer nursing during the night. I didn't introduce her to not nursing during the night for a couple of more weeks, after we discussed it several times throughout that time period. I wanted to gently night wean her as I don't want her to fully wean until she is ready. On average, worldwide, children who self wean, wean between the ages of 3 and 7. Most between 3 and 4 from other mothers that I have spoken to. But because I work some odd hours, frequent wake up during the night moments were disrupting my days due to a lack of sleep.

Daniella was immediately drawn to the pictures. She thought the child in the book was her! :) One thing that I especially like about the illustrations in the book (including the wordage), it is never said or dictated what the gender of the child is. The child has slightly long hair but that does not mean it is a little girl. I know some boys with even longer hair. It is an adorable child, whatever their gender is :)

We were lucky enough to receive a signed copy!

I LOVE THIS PICTURE THE MOST!! I love the beauty of the breastfeeding, the love on the mother's and child's face and how supportive the dad is being!!! 

The book shows this family as a bedsharing family, too!

As we read the book, we substituted the word "Nursies" for "Milk" since that is what Daniella calls nursing. I did tell her the actual name of the book and that we would be substituting the word milk.

SHE LOVES THIS BOOK and SO DO I! I love that it talks about gentle weaning and comforting your child during the night and giving them the love that they are seeking to help them fall back asleep.

Since we began nightweaning (it IS a process!), Daniella will now nurse before going to bed at night and then sometimes first thing in the morning, depending on our day. Those are the only times my big girl nurses now. I love this little girl so much and I want her to decide when she is done nursing. Until then, she know that when she awakens during the night, she can leave her bed, come to my room (the bedroom door is always left open a crack for her) and climb into the sidecarred crib. She knows that she cannot have milk when it is dark outside, but she will occasionally still ask. Most nights, I don't even know when she came into our room. But she is always in the crib by morning. Which makes morning milk so much nicer and easier :)

Nursies is a groundbreaking children’s book, the first-ever to focus on night weaning. Its goal is to facilitate communication between parent and young child, thereby making the process of night weaning as gentle and easy as possible.

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Gigi's Apparel Winner!

Gigi's Apparel - thank you so much for sponsoring this giveaway! A big thank you to all who entered to win! And a HUGE CONGRATS to our winner!!! The winner has been contacted and has been given until Tuesday night at midnight to respond. Go check the Rafflecopter on the Gigi's Apparel review post to see if YOU are the winner!!!

Who Won the Canvas Pop Canvas???

Thank you, Canvas Pop, for sponsoring this giveaway! Thank you to all who entered, as well. 
Congratulations to our winner! They have been contacted and have been given until midnight on Tuesday to claim their prize. Want to know right now if you are the winner? Go check the Rafflecopter on the Canvas Pop review post to see!

Winner Announcement for TeaTulia Tea!

Thank you to TeaTulia for sponsoring this giveaway. Thank you to all who entered. And CONGRATS to our winner!!!! The winner has been contacted and was given until Tuesday night at midnight to claim their prize. To see if YOU were the winner go check the Rafflecopter on the TeaTulia Tea review post!

Whistlefritz - The Fun Way to Teach Your Child Spanish Through Immersion!

Disclosure: We received a free Educator's Collection from Whistlefritz in exchange for our honest opinion about it.

Enrich Spanish instruction with the award-winning, multi-media Educator’s Collection from Whistlefritz. The Educator’s Collection provides a rich and diverse set of tools for Pre-K and early elementary Spanish teachers. Developed by creative and experienced educators, Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids is a scaffolded curriculum of 40 reproducible lessons that engage children in a diverse array of interactive, age-appropriate activities. Spanish for Kids DVDs teach vocabulary through an appealing blend of live action and animation ideal for visual learners. Spanish for Kids CDs get children on their feet singing and dancing to an irresistible mix of Latin songs and rhythms. The Matching Cards are a playful introduction to action words. Packed with fun, laughter, and music, the Educator’s Collection is a treasure trove of teaching activities and materials for the Spanish classroom!

The Spanish Educator's Collection by Whistlefritz comes complete with Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids (a book with 40 reproducible lessons), 5 DVDs, 2CDs  and a Matching Cards game!

This is the set of DVDs and CDs. Both of my children (Brandon, 11, and Daniella, almost 3) enjoyed watching these movies and listening to the CDs. Brandon had about 2 years of formal Spanish instruction before being exposed to this curriculum so he was immediately able to understand some of it and by what he could understand, he was able to fill in the blanks with some help. Daniella loves Fritzi and wants to see what he is up to next.

All of the DVDs and CDs come together in a boxed set.

I do have a suggestion for Whistlefritz. We found it difficult to select and find a specific DVD to watch. If you look on the outer edge of the DVD cases, they are not labeled by title. If you look at the front of the cases, it is not immediately obvious which DVD is which as the cases are all identical except for one small thing. My husband nor I were able to find that subtle difference until Brandon pointed it out. If you look closely at the cases, the title that is in each case is highlighted in yellow. It would be great if the titles were also at least put on the outer edge of the DVD case so that we don't have to pull all of the DVDs out of the boxed set in order to find the one specific DVD that the kids want to watch.

Here is a sample page from inside the lesson plan book. This is easy enough that my 11 year old can figure it out and lead himself through a lesson. Sometimes he will also lead Daniella through a lesson as well.

Here they are working on a lesson that involves talking about the parts of the kitchen (refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, etc.)

Om this lesson, they are working on body parts.

Here is what the lesson plan book looks like.

This is the front and back of the matching cards game. It is played just like Memory except that it also has a descriptive Spanish word on each card to discuss when each card is individually flipped over during the game.

Here is Daniella and Brandon playing the Matching Cards game and discussing the Spanish words which is a great way to work on pronunciation. Whenever a card was flipped over that Brandon didn't know what it meant, he used his Spanish to English dictionary to help build his Spanish vocabulary.

This game is also great for teaching same vs. different. Daniella had to determine is each pair was a matching set or not. She was actually quite good at finding matches and using her memory to remember where they were "hiding". She surprised us with how well she did!

Overall, the Whistlefritz set is geared towards teaching Spanish through immersion to children ages 1-7. However, I think that Brandon is learning a great deal from it, even at age 11. Daniella's new thing is if I am having a conversation with her or anyone else and she recognizes a word (in English) that she doesn't know what it means, she will ask me, "Mama, are you speaking Spanish?". I find this interesting that she is applying the idea that if she doesn't understand the word, that it is part of a foreign language. :) But because we school our children the way that we do, I use it as an opportunity to teach her the new word and what it means to also expand her English vocabulary. I believe that my children have learned a lot from the Whistlefritz set. 

Save nearly 25% (regularly $227.90) by Ordering the Educator's Spanish Collection of Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids + 5 DVDs + 2CDs + Matching Cards!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are You Not Getting Pregnant As Quickly As You Had Hoped? Test At Home With SpermCheck Fertility! (Review with Giveaway,Ends 11/20/13,US Only)

Disclosure: We received one free test kit in exchange for our honest opinion about it.

Let me give you a little bit of background information before I tell you about SpermCheck Fertility. I have been pregnant four times. I lost baby Jessica in December 2000 before I had Brandon in 2002. Then we began trying to another baby when Brandon was five and a half years old in July 2007. Due to our Catholic beliefs, we do not believe in infertility treatments that create a baby outside of the womb. Which really limits you when you want a baby! We finally conceived naturally in January 2010 and I gave birth to Daniella in October 2010 (Yes, she will be THREE next week!). We somewhat avoided trying to get pregnant again until she was three months old (we weren't sure that we could handle two babies under the age of one!). We had heard numerous stories about once you CAN get pregnant, you are very fertile! Well, time came and went and while we were not actively trying, we were certainly open to life and were not preventing or avoiding a pregnancy. Lo and behold, I surprisingly conceived our little Shiloh in November 2011. Sadly, I lost Shiloh on my birthday the following January. Since losing Shiloh, we have been actively trying to get pregnant again to no avail.

Michael was diagnosed with a very low count (20+ million is considered normal. He had less than 5,000.) and low motility (they didn't swim correctly and/or fast enough) when we were trying for Daniella. I was diagnosed with PCOS, but primarily low progesterone. So we were double whammied.

Because I chart my cycles, I know that I still have progesterone issues but we wanted to see if we could rule Michael out as a secondary issue yet so that was where SpermCheck Fertility came in...

This is the test kit that we received from SpermCheck Fertility.

The instructions for how to read the kit were very clear on the packaging. 

Here is a list of the package contents.

Once I opened the box, the contents didn't look that different from some pregnancy tests.

Solution to blend with semen.

Collection cup

Test itself

Part of the box is used to hold the solution bottle to help make the transfer easier.

This is what your test will look like to show you that it is working. It will stay looking like this if you/your partner has a low count. If your/your partner's count is normal, a second line will appear next to the T.

Overall, SpermCheck Fertility's kit could not have been any easier to use. The packaging does come with more detailed instructions inside, the big one (in my eyes) being that you must use a "clean" sample. Meaning that the sample must not have emerged due to penetration of any kind. Then the sample needs to settle a little to help the sperm separate from the semen. Following the directions, you blend a specific amount of the solution with the sample and then using a syringe included, you transfer some of the sample mixed with the solution to the test. Then you simply wait ten minutes and look at the results. The hole of the syringe used to transfer the semen into the solution bottle was the exact same size as the hole in the solution bottle which did make transferring a bit messy.

The only issue that we had with SpermCheck Fertility is that this is what the box looked like when it arrived:

Because I do a lot of product reviews, our home receives many packages practically every week. I know my mail carrier very well. She frequently knocks on my door because packages don't always fit in my mailbox. This was a bit mortifying to have her see arrive. She did not comment on it, but how could she not have seen it? It's pretty obvious what is in the package. I do wish that SpermCheck Fertility would consider a more discreet box in the future. Perhaps using a parent company on their return address label would be an easy start.

However, since the cost is less than most doctor's office visits, PLUS it saves you the hassle and possible embarrassment of having to make such an appointment, it is TOTALLY worth every penny! Now, the kit simply tells you if your count is within normal limits or if it is lower than normal limits. It does not tell you about motility or how low your count may actually be. But it is a quick and easy, at home assessment to gauge if further testing is necessary or if you can be relieved that your count is normal.

Check out www.spermcheck.com for a $10 off coupon!! You can also find a local retailer that sells SpermCheck Fertility or you can purchase it directly from them on their website. This product is so unique that no other company currently makes one like it!

One lucky winner will win a kit of their own!

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The Adventures of Jimmy and Charlie, a Children's Book (Review with Giveaway, Worldwide, Ends 11/17/13)

Disclosure: We received a free book in exchange for our honest opinion about it.

 Jimmy and Charlie used to be orphaned cats with no place to call home. Until one day when the brothers find a home on a farm!

The Adventures of Jimmy and Charlie is a collection of three short stories of excitement and adventure following the two cats as they explore their new world and make lifelong friends.

This is the perfect book for young readers to learn, along with Jimmy and Charlie, important lessons about God's faithfulness, his good purpose, and the importance of obeying your parents.

Rodney Mack wrote this book for children ages 4 and up. The characters are all real animals that live with him and his wife Marty on a small farm in the Midwest. The book is based on real events in the lives of Jimmy and Charlie. There are plenty of fun black and white drawings to illustrate the story, and photos of the Macks' beloved pets.

I know that this books says that it is for ages 4 and up, but Daniella (almost three) is in LOVE with this story! She frequently asks to read about Jimmy and Charlie and amazes me with her attention span and how long she will sit and listen to the story. She easily makes it through half of the story in one sitting. The book itself is 65 pages, which includes black and white drawings throughout plus seven pages of black and white photos at the end. I absolutely love that not only are these stories based of real cats and their adventures, but there is some gentle guidance involved with lessons about how God is faithful, why it is important to obey and listen to your parents and more!

Brandon (11 years old) is a bit old for the book, but I did catch him giggling several times while reading it to Daniella. So he obviously enjoyed Charlie and Jimmy's antics as well! Daniella will refer to Jimmy and Charlie as "those feisty kittens" which I think is adorable! Daniella's favorite parts are when Charlie and Jimmy go chasing frogs and when they meet turkeys for the first time!

This book is ideal for a child who is just beginning to read chapter books as the words are fairly easy (though certainly more than "See Spot run.") and the book is broken down into three sections, each about 20 pages long.

Here is a sample page:

As of this writing, the book is currently cheaper on Amazon by $.80!
A free audio download is available with purchase of the book. Take Jimmy and Charlie everywhere with your children.

Reading these stories left us with the urge to visit the Macks' farm ourselves to go on some adventures with their animals. We hope to see more adventures in the future!

One lucky winner will win a signed copy of the book!

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