Sunday, March 24, 2013

Some amazing pre-baby & baby products!

Many, many months have passed since my last post.  We celebrated his first birthday amidst moving boxes as we packed our house and prepared for a new adventure.  Nugster is now walking (sometimes running), eating solids consistently (even grown-up foods like chicken satay, pancakes, quiche and the occasional Freddy's burger) and doing backwards rolls in gymnastics.

Keeping up with a Nugget while packing, hosting family and friends, and living everyday life has redirected my focus from blogging.  Moms and Dads out there know that some days there's barely time for a shower.  It's true.  I went to the outlets the other day and was so thrilled to reinvent my mommy wardrobe...with 4 new pair of sweatpants.  I also found myself saying to new parents, "Enjoy the time, it goes by so fast!"  I used to hate when people said that to me. But now I get it. I do.  My baby is now a toddler.

And one of my best friends in the world is expecting.  After happily remenissing about my own pregancy, and Nugster's newborn days, I thought I'd make a list of some items and ideas that have been most helpful for us.  Both Steve and I are type A planners, and we did a lot of research into everything.  No, not everything.  Some of Nugget's favorite toys we happened upon at consignment sales.

I've included Amazon links to make it easy for you to add these products to your registry, wishlist, or shopping cart.  (You're welcome.)  If you have your own experiences with these items, I'd love to hear your feedback!
Barleans Coconut Oil 

Amazing for your skin & hair, baby's skin, protects from diaper rash, doesn't stain cloth diapers, safe for nursing, healing properties for those times when Nugster scratches himself with his unruly fingernails.  Coconut oil is a key ingredient in many of the high end natural baby products.  Delicious on toast, works great in place of butter in baking/cooking, especially if you're keeping your baby dairy free in that first year!

Adan + Anais Muslin Swaddle Wraps

More than just swaddles, we LOVE these soft HUGE cloths for everything from an emergency sheet to nursing cover, to picnic blanket to stroller blanket.  The fabric is breathable, durable (we wash them with the rest of Nugster's laundry), and so soft to the touch.  They seem "pricy" but are well worth the cost.  Oh, and they are a favorite of many celebs (Tori Spelling, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner), if you're into that sort of thing.

Booginhead Pacigrip Pacifier Holders

We don't use pacifiers.  We have our reasons.  But we LOVE these clips.  They can hold a sippy cup, toy, mittens, your keys, etc. The loop is far better than velcro-style pacifier holders.  And if your baby IS a pacifier kid, I'm sure this will work for that as well!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter
 Not just for soothing cracked and chapped nipples (although it does a wonderful job at that!) this stuff is great for lips, baby's cheeks (they get dry when they root for the nipple) diaper rash-we use a dedicated jar just for that purpose, as well as cuts, scapes and other rashes.  And it tastes really good!
Planet Wise Wet/Dry Diaper Bag

We use the wet/dry bag for our out of the house day trips.  It has 2 compartments-one that is leak-proof to hold soiled diapers (we do cloth) and/or clothes, and a second smaller front pocket to carry clean diapers/inserts/change of clothes. This is a small bag, so it's very convenient to stick in your larger diaper bag, or under a stroller.

Rumparooz Kanga Care Wet Bags

We use the large Kanga Care bags as our go-to bags for holding soiled diapers. They would also make excellent laundry bags and swim/beach bags.  The seams are leak-proof, the designs are cute (we have it in Robot and Whale Tale), and they contain moisture and odor well.  We typically do a load of diapers every 2 days, which is just about as much as one large bag will hold.

Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal Multi-Vitamin

These are big, once-a-day, all natural prenatals, with tons of good stuff in them.  These pills are large and they have that healthy smell (yep, they smell nasty, but take them with water, you'll be fine). Safe to take into your breastfeeding months if you go that route.  Oh, and if you're prone to headaches, try taking them at night. 

Nature's Way Red Raspberry Capsules

So with the add-on program, one bottle is than $5 on amazon!  I think I paid almost $10, and I took a lot of this stuff as well as the tea (see below).  Do your research (a great post on RLT and EPO can be found here), make the choice that's right for you, and if you decide to add RLT to your pregnancy regiment, I highly suggest this brand.

Alvita Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

In my 2nd and 3rd trimester, made an "infusion" of this tea and drank it 2-3 times daily. (My infusion was simply half a mug of hot water over a tea bag with some agave for sweetness.)  Again, do your research and make the choice that works for you!  From my own personal experience, I can say that I believe that RLT played a huge part in the quickness of my labor and ease of recovery.  I was in active labor for less than 4 hours.  Had fatigue not set in, Nugster would have been born less than 2 hours after we arrived at the hospital.  

Prenatal Mini-Cradle

I wore this until I couldn't fit it around me any longer. (My belly expanded exponentially during my pregnancy with Nugster.) It made me less uncomfortable, gave the right amount of support, and was more supportive than other "belly bands" I've tried.It runs small, and don't forget to accommodate for the weight you will be putting on throughout the pregnancy.

Boppy Prenatal Wedge Pillow
Not long into my pregnancy with the Nugget, my belly expanded to the point that I couldn't sleep.  My stomach hurt SO much, and there was no position that allowed any sleep.  It literally felt like someone was pulling by stomach off my body.  Hello round ligament pain.  Laying on my left side with this pillow propped under my stomach gave me some relief when resting, watching tv, or sleeping.  That is, until I had to get up to pee.  This pillow comes with a removable, machine-washable cover. 

Vitamin D drops

Your pediatrician will probably suggest picking up some D-Vi-Sol which is pretty much the only option for vitamin D drops at your local pharmacy/supermarket.  Do yourself and your baby a favor and try these drops instead.  It's ONLY vitamin D and coconut oil. Same dosage-400 IU- as Carlson's Baby-D drops (but lower price point), free of artificial color and flavor, you only need to give baby one drop (on nipple-bottle, paci, actual breast, finger, etc) rather than 1 mL.  This bottle lasts a YEAR and this stuff has no taste. (You'd need 7 bottles of D-Vi-Sol over the course of a year and that stuff tastes horrible. And that stuff is a disgusting brown color.  You'll be seeing enough yucky brown color over the next few years.)

PIYOPIYO baby nail scissors

Cutting Nugget's nails has never been easy, but this is as good as it gets.  These are very precise, easy to use, and safe.  (To make it even esier, try to cut the nails when your baby is asleep.)

Summer Infant Swaddleme Swaddle

This is basically a baby cocoon.  I know, it looks crazy.  You slip the baby into the bottom, fasten the velcro, and your baby is as snug as a bug in a rug.  We called it the baby straight jacket.  Or the glow worm.  And Nugget still managed to escape this one too.  The product website claims it will last up to 12 months.  It will last you a few months, which is most likely as long as your baby needs to be swaddled, with gentle wash cycles.  It won't last longer than that.  The velcro just isn't up to the task.  But this is a GREAT product, especially if you can find it on sale or get it as a gift.

Deluxe Rock N Play Newborn Sleeper Bassinet

Nugster slept in this bassinet for the first few months of his life, and could have slept in it longer, except that he decided he wanted to get out and explore.  It is tall enough to set up next to your bed, allowing you to see and rock your baby to sleep without getting out of bed.  It's soft, incredibly light, easy to move around the room/house, and rocks gently.  It folds easily for storage, and is easy to clean.  Yes, there was a "recall" of this product-not a product recall, but a notice sent to owners with detailed instructions for how to clean it.  Apparently some parents were not aware that when you put wet cloth on top of a waterproof surface, you may develop mold.  Well, the easy solution is to make sure the washable top layer is DRY before attaching it back to the base.  We would tumble dry in the dryer, and we didn't have any issues with shrinkage or wear.  Variations of this product exist in bunny, kitty, monkey, polka dot, bear, lamb, butterfly, flower, pink and dog.  I suggest the deluxe model, which includes a supersoft insert that cradles your newborn's head.

Maxi-Cosi Mico Infant Carseat (great deals on the whole system can be found at albeebaby)
The Mico in Choco Mint.  We LOVED this seat!
New model-different color options & restyled infant head support

Being a petite mama, I LOVE the slim profile of this car seat, and the fact that it weighs 8 lbs.  It works with the Maxi-Cosi Foray/ForayLX stroller system, or you could just use a snap-n-go stroller for quick errands.  Nugster easily slept and sat happily in this car seat both in the car, in the house, and on the go.  It's so easy to use this car seat, which snaps into a car seat base, allowing you to quickly and quietly move your sleeping baby without waking him.  (The seat can also be used without a base, but it takes a little longer to attach.)  The fabric is incredibly plush and washable, the infant insert supports a newborn head, and it's one of the safest on the market-tested at European standards, which are much stricter than US standards.  Yes it's priced higher than the more common car seats (such as those that rhyme with Draco) but it is of noticeably higher quality.  Nug used this seat until he was just shy of 1 year old.  Rated for 5-22 lbs, 19-29" in height.  We switched into the Recaro ProRide in Envy when Nug was no longer comfortable in the Mico, even though he was under the weight and height limits.

Breastpump: If you're planning to breastfeed/pump, you can read my post on breastmilk pumping and storage here!

Choose your own...
We recieved some great gifts, scored some good deals, and scaveged some fun toys for Nugster.  I've included a list of them, with the note that these products did exactly what they promised to do. We have no complaints about them, and found them incredibly useful.  However, we aren't raving about the particulars of any of these items, mostly because bouncers/playyards/bathtubs are pretty much the same.  Find what you like, read the reviews (here is where amazon is your friend) and have fun choosing something that fits your style!

Doorway-mounted bouncer
Bath tub
Universal Stroller
Tummytime Mat
High Chair
Super Seat/Booster
Changing pad/table
Baby monitor (I suggest a digital video monitor. )

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WNPO...Because partying is more fun with no pants on! (A little about our experience with cloth diapers.)

Just about everytime I am out with the Nug, I am asked one of 3 questions.
"How old is he?"
"Where did you get that baby carrier?"
"How do you like those diapers?"

The first question is a no-brainer (Happy 9 month birthday to Nugget as of this past Sunday!) and the second is really easy to answer - by far the best $15 I've invested in baby carrying-Snugglebug Slings, which is a "pouch-style carrier.

I actually used to carry cards with the website on it since I got asked so often.  I ran out after a week.

This sling is not meant for heavy duty baby wearing, but is PERFECT for running errands.  It's one loop of fabric that can be worn multiple ways, and it takes about 5 seconds to put it on.  No straps, buckles, ties or snaps.  Just slip it on, slip baby in, and you're off.  And you can pick the colors!  But I digress...this is supposed to be about cloth diapers. 

The third question is a bit more involved.

We LOVE cloth diapering.  You don't have to.  Diapering, like just about every decision you'll make as a parent is a personal choice.  I mean, it's basically baby underpants.  I wouldn't knock your choice of undergarment, and I don't expect others to knock mine.  Or our baby's.  Like I said, personal choice.  (There's nothing more irritating-and common-than other parents telling you why you should do something their way, or why they didn't do it how you did.)  This is our experience.

Why cloth? 

It's economical.  We have bought 4 packs of disposable diapers (called "sposies") in 8 months.  One was a box of Swadders for the first few weeks when the cord was still attached ($40).  We have 2 packs of size 2 diapers, one from Target ($12) and one other pack ($18) which we have barely touched.  One was a pack of swim diapers ($9).  So we've spent about $80 on sposies, most which were used in the first 2 months of Nugget's life.  I remember the prices because I was so surprised at how quickly babies go through a box of diapers.  (Experts say 6-8 changes a day once you pass that first few weeks, so a 36-count box won't last a week...again, that's just an estimate.)

Cloth diapers are cute!  The patterns and colors of cloth diapers are beyond adorable.  

Blue Giraffe!
And Nugster can wear "just a diaper" with a shirt and look clothed, while with sposies, it may not be quite as cute since sposies tend to be thin and... 

Sposies smell funny (to me).  I really dislike the smell of baby pee+disposable diaper.  Chemicals.  Ew.

Better for the environment.  Yeah, I do care about the environment.  Diapers stick around for a long time.  But actually that was the least compelling reason.       

Best Bottoms
The cloth diapering system we chose is called Best Bottoms.  I'm definitely not being compensated for this review (or any reviews I write), so this is an honest, unbiased opinion.  How do they work?  I'll let this picture do the talking. 

The Best Bottom shells come in a variety of prints, and are durable and thick.  It's an "all-in-2" system, meaning that the diaper uses shell and an insert.  They are one-size so they will work for Nugget through the potty training phase (they even make potty training inserts and side tabs).

The Stash:

8 shells (Moolicious, Green Giraffe, Blue Giraffe, Orange Sherbert, Chunky Monkey, Double Chocolate, Cookies-n-Cream and Very Cherry) some velcro, some snap.

25 inserts (some cotton, some hemp, some microfiber, in size med, large, and overnight/doubler).

We have 2 wet/dry bags with one at the changing table, and another on stand-by for laundry time.  The wet/dry bag holds all of the dirty shells and inserts.

Easy as...

#1-When Nug is wet, we remove the pad, put it into a wet/dry bag, wipe him, wipe out the shell, and snap in a new pad.

#2-(Because poo happens) Take off dirty diaper, put into wet/dry bag, wipe him, put on new shell w/pad.

You can also preassemble all your shells and inserts, and use them as you would a regular disposable diaper (take off wet diaper-put in wet/dry bag, put on new shell+insert.)  Awesome for babysitters/caregivers/daycare.

Ah, Laundry.  We do diaper laundry approximately every 3 days.  We use Boulder Wash additive free detergent (it's cheap at Costco) and we occasionally use Rockin' Green in Rage Against the Raspberry scent, but only when it's on sale.

1. Dump the whole wet/dry bag inside out into the washer.

2. Do a cold rinse, no spin (about 10 min-I usually fold other laundry in the meantime).

3. Run a hot or warm wash with detergent. We found this chart to be helpful when choosing a detergent.

4. Another cold rinse (wash/rinse time about 70 min).

5. Inserts can be dried on gentle dry and shells can be line/hung dry.

Breastfed baby poo is water soluble, so until Nugster started solids we didn't worry about stains.  Even now, with him eating everything under the sun, we rarely get a stain on the insertsIf there is a stain, we line dry that insert.  The sun naturally bleaches out stains.  Even blueberry poo.  Pretty amazing.

Other advantages.
Nugster has never had a problem with diaper rash, except in a disposable diaper.Also, with the exception of once, no leaks. Because of user error (I was chatting with a friend instead of rushing home to do a diaper change) it (poo) actually stayed in the diaper so well that it erupted out of the top back of the shell. The leg gussets on Best Bottoms are fantastic.  Nugster had some pretty chunky thighs from 3-8 months and we just adjusted the diaper accordingly, with no problem with red marks or rash.  My friends who use disposables seem to have more "blowouts" than my friends who use cloth.

Other diapers
Soft Bums Echo - it's a waterproof, fleece-lined shell that has snap-in "pods". You can really only use the shell once before you need to wash it, since the fleece shell absorbs moisture.  It looks and feels great though-very trim and the pods are nice.   I use them in the Best Bottom shells.  This is a more expensive diaper-around $30 for a shell and pods.

For travel we put a g diaper biodegradable insert into the Best Bottom shell. I've heard good things about the cloth g 
diapers too. 

 We acquired a few all-in-ones which took forever to dry, didn't hold up so well in laundry, and were not one size (adjustable).  These are our laundry day/last resort diapers.
With pocket diapers you have to stuff an insert into a little pocket.  Not too bad, but time consuming.  We also noticed that the insert bunched up while Nug was wearing it.  He's a very active little guy. 

We kinda have thing for giraffes.

If you're considering cloth diapers, wondering about Best Bottoms, or just curious as to why some parents choose cloth, I hope you've learned a little something!   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wicked easy recipes using baby oats!

This is the time of year when I find myself missing home (New England) more than usual.
View from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine
To combat this, I do a lot of "Autumnal" cooking/baking.  My homemade iced pumpkin spice latte tastes about the same as what can be had at a certain Seattle coffee shop...and is dynamite with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

In the realm of baby food, I've made two new foods for the Nugster, who recently turned 8 months old.  I wanted to share a few easy uses for baby oats (oat flour).

(I make a lot of flour, since I follow a gluten-free diet.  Regular wheat flour would work fine in these recipes too, but oats are just so healthy!)

How to make your own oat flour:

I mill rolled oats into a fine powder in the food processor.  This is so easy!  Just scoop the oatmeal in, grind with a few pulses, and you're done!  

What to do with oat flour:
1. Drop small pieces of prepared fruit (I use cubes of frozen mango, and sometimes poached apples or peaches) into a cup of oat flour and shake.  When coated, serve fruit as easy to pick up finger food!      

2. Homemade (ridiculously inexpensive) baby cereal!  Just add milk or water, heat, let cool, serve.

3. Baked oatmeal cup cakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free)
Healthy, yummy, and they make the house smell so good!!
Also easy!  
Mix:  Equal parts oatmeal flour and water (or bm, milk, whatever liquid you are comfortable serving your baby).  
Soak overnight, which makes the oats more digestible.  
Next day: If you wish, stir in cinnamon, and "pour" into mini muffin tin. (I lined with silicone baking cups.)  
Top with fruit.  
Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes*.  When cool, cut into small pieces and serve as finger food!  
*Since I'm at high altitude, baking is a trial and error thing.  And if you're not much of a baker, don't worry!  It's not possible to undercook these, since the recipe doesn't use egg, and the oatmeal flour is edible raw. 

I served this as Nugster's 8 month birthday cake.  To his delight, I continued to serve them for weeks after, as part of his breakfast.  Let's be honest, there's nothing better than birthday cake for breakfast!

4. Baby pancakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free...but feel free to use the flour of your choice)
The ingredients.  Well, most of them.  I forgot to take a picture of the blueberries.
Mix: 3/4 cup Baby Oatmeal (Oat Flour)
       3/4 cup Rice Flour*
*You can use whole wheat flour in place of the rice flour.
       Optional: dash Sea Salt, dash Cinnamon
Add: 1 1/4 cup Water
        1 T Coconut Oil* (or applesauce or any other oil.  
 *Since coconut oil is a carrier for Nugster's vitamins, we know he is not allergic.  Because coconut oil is so healthy, we prefer it over other oils.  Infact, we use it to treat rashes, dry skin, cuts and scrapes, and even as a hair treatment!) 

Coat skillet in your choice of oil/spray.  Pour batter and add blueberries (or apples, banana, avocado, etc). 

Cook on first side until large bubbles form.
 Since the batter is thick,  when you flip it, let it cook for a minute or so, and then split the pancake with your spatula.  This way you can watch as the center cooks through.

Still wet in the center...but vegan, so no risk of illness from "raw" batter.
Your pancake should be a bit crispy on both sides, and soft in the center.  This recipe made 3 adult-sized pancakes.  Since Nugget is eating this as finger food, I cut each pancake into small pieces and froze half, put half in the fridge for the week, and set aside a few for this morning.  After the pieces cooled, Nugget gobbled them up!

Mmmm! Pancakes!
This recipe, if you add 2 T of sugar, or 1 T of agave, would make a fabulous stack of pancakes for that special vegan in your life.  Of course, sans sweetener would be ok too, but I've learned that most adult palates aren't accustomed to sugarless pancakes.


Mommybliss: Homemade Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

Being a mommy means that a trip to Starbuck$ is both crucial and logistically difficult.  My solution is to make my own.   In large batches. Over ice.

My version is caffeine & gluten-free and uses non-dairy milk.  Substitute your choice of chai and milk to make it your own!

Mix equal parts of this:

 and this:
then stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of this:
and if you want, add this (or similar):
Pour over or blend with:
 Drink and enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just a Little About Us

Nugster, at 7 months 3 weeks old.
He is all things adorable.

He has been read to since he was born. Everyday.

He smiles at his dog brother, Bacala.

He once stole a french fry.

He consumes blueberries, mango, and milk at an amazing rate.  

He enjoys long walks in fresh air, chasing footballs, crawling, and bouncing.

He believes everything can be fixed with a smile and giggle.

He loves his family (including Mommy, Daddy, Bacala, his grandparents, godparents, all honorary "Aunties & Uncles,") and Pink Doggie.

He can't wait to learn baby sign, play sports, and get a passport.

Nugster's Mommy:
Nugster's Mommy, and a smiling Nugster
She is loving her career as Nugster's mommy.

She has been a teacher, ABA therapist, vocational coach, educational travel leader, graduate student, gymnast, dancer, rock climbing instructor, runner (of distances great and small), interventionist and author.
She practices cloth diapering, babyfood making, baby sign, baby carrying, and handstands. (Not at the same time.) 

She prefers her lemonade VERY sour, her produce organic and her chocolate dark.

She knows a lot about children's literature, Gifted/Talented education, autism spectrum disorders, literacy, special needs, gluten-free living, developmental psychology, educational measure, and kinestesiology.
She adores intellectual conversation, an all consuming book, and decent wine.

She spends a lot of time on Amazon, Picasa, and massaging her IT band.

She loves Nugster, Nugster's daddy, and everyone who shares in their joy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years Later...Some thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I was sitting in a writing class as an undergraduate, when a classmate burst in with the announcement that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was so inconceivable that we had a brief discussion and decided it must be a small plane that crash landed at LaGuardia.  As such, class continued and since there were no smartphones to check the news, we were blissfully ignorant of the chaos occurring a mere 200 miles away.  Until class got out at 11.

The student union looked frozen in time.  Everyone was silent as they stared at the televisions.  You know the image.  I looked around for my roommate, one of my best friends (and now Nugster's godmother).  I realized she probably went directly to her next class.  (Again, no smartphone/text messaging.)  I had left my phone at home that day, and so I was unable to contact my roommate, or my parents, who knew that I often took trips to Boston and New York.  Panic.  Our school was located very close to several defense installations. 

What seemed like hours later, I reunited with my roommate and as I recall, neither of us had our phones.  We also didn't have a working television, so we went out to buy "rabbit ears" so we could watch the events unfold.  I'm amazed at the disconnect we had from the world.

Eventually we called our parents.  We called our friends.  We tried to keep the phone lines open.  There was a vigil.

We brought candles and passed them out.  It wasn't much, but it was how we coped.  A beloved professor suffered profound PTSD.  Friends enlisted in the military.  The ROTC kids walked a little taller and no one made fun of them for wearing ACUs to class.  All of us were only a degree or two separated from loss or death or suffering related to the attack on the towers.

A view of Ground Zero taken Thanksgiving 2001.  I made a trip to New York with my parents and brother (who had spent several days in New York immediately following 9/11).

Fast forward 11 years.  For us adults, who lived through it, we are still angry.  We get political.  We get emotional.  Our children can not understand the meaning of the day without our help.  As an educator, I've seen  9/11 observed in many ways.  Not at all seemed to be popular in the years immediately following 2001.  The wounds were still to fresh and even the most professional of us couldn't imagine writing a lesson plan about 9/11.  More recently, September 11th has been proclaimed Patriot Day (not to be confused with Patriot's Day AKA Marathon Monday in Boston), and this verbiage opens many more doors for talking to our children.  As such, these are a few of my thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I used to tell my students that a Patriot is more than a football player. (I'm from New England.)  A patriot is a person who loves, honors and supports their country.  A wise 5th grader once pointed out that being a patriot sounds like being a good parent to America.  I'm inclined to agree.  Show your patriotism in whatever way feels right for you and your family.  It could be as simple as lowering your flag to half-staff.

Our flag symbolizes so much.  Even very young children hold the flag in high regard, and are able, at some level, to communicate what it means to them.  For older children, writing a simple sentence about what the flag means to them, or what they love about our country is an intentional way of acknowledging the day.  

On this day and everyday, our country's military families are sacrificing a great deal to protect and defend our freedoms.  Regardless of your political inclinations, thanking a man or woman in uniform, offering to help (babysit, pick up groceries, mow the lawn, even simply sit and chat with) a family with a deployed family member, or hiring a veteran are all ways to honor their service. 

On the same note, taking time to celebrate your community's first responders sets a great example for your child.  Order a pizza to your local firehouse, thank a police officer (they don't get that nearly enough), buy a cup of coffee for the paramedics/EMTs in line at Dunkin Donuts.  In fact, don't stop there.  Extend your thank you and basic civility to all those folks you encounter in your daily life, particularly those in the business of helping...nurses, social workers, health aides, and yes, teachers.  

If, in fact, you are a teacher, you may be interested in Operation Educate the Educators, which provides training tools and curriculum that is specifically designed to support the success of children with military connections.  There are over 2 million of them.

For those of you looking for a simple answer, I hope I haven't lost you.  My take on 9/11 is that we should hold our children a little tighter, call our mom's more often, exercise patriotism, and demonstrate kindness and understanding towards others.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dirty Dash...(or, Mommy, Don't get Mud on My Mud Shirt!)

Over the weekend, I got dirty.  The Dirty Dash came to Colorado Springs in all it's muddy glory.  The Dirty Dash is a 5K "race that puts all other races to shame.  The Dirty Dash is a mud run obstacle course where a military boot camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine.  You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud and a smile to show through at the end!"

Our team, Deadweight, was comprised of mostly mommies from my neighborhood.
Some of us love running, some despise it.  Some of us gave birth within the last year, some have teens.  Some are more earthy types, others not-so-much.  All of us had a great time!

Prep:  Like all good girl scouts, I wanted to be prepared. (Or maybe the motto was "make new friends"...I've forgotten.)  Happily, I ran across Cassie's Mud Run Tips.  Here's how I adapted them for the Dirty Dash:

1. Hydrate/fuel properly: for me that meant lots of water, bananas, and yes, black bean mac-n-cheese the night before

2. Positive attitude: This meant helping each other out, and having a "no teammate left behind" attitude.  My friend/teammate Bridgett said "We will cross the finishline together, holding hands, even if we are the very last ones."  (This meant a lot to me, because my running confidence has been a bit lacking since I did not to ANY running while I was pregnant with Nugster, and had been having a rough time getting my knees up to the challenge in the past few months.)  Doing this race with friends is essential!

3. Costume: "Deranged Rainbow Brite" included tight-fitting clothing, a lined sports bra, brightly colored bandadna, worn on head (this was the only way we could identify our teammates once we were mud-covered!) swimsuit bottom, and tightly tied shoes that I was excited to donate to 

4. For post-race: We packed a huge beach towel that we had no emotional attachment to, my Dirty Dash t-shirt (which came in our packet) flip flops, and some mesh shorts.  Also, we brought our own adult beverages.

The Good:  The Dirty Dash Colorado benefited many charities, including the American Cancer Society.  While giving feels good, in this case it also was FUN!  Probably the most fun I've had doing a race.  I mean, even those folks who like a good 5K, 10K, half- or full marathon can hardly say they had fun the whole time.  It's more about having accomplished something.  If you look at Dash photos, such as those found on you'll see everyone is smiling.  Also, the race t-shirt, while not dri-fit, is supersoft cotton, and a very flattering cut, and we were allowed to try them on for size at packet pick-up! Perfect for post-race, and wearing around town!  Dirty Dash pint glasses were 2/$5, and kids t-shirts were $6. 

Nugster loved his yellow "I like to eat mud" shirt, which, after a few tumbles in the hot dryer, fit him just fine!

The Bad Could Be Better:  The packets were simple "Thank You for Shopping Here" plastic bags, which contained 2 mini bars, our bib, a car decal, and some running shop propaganda.  I would have been happy to forgo the bag altogether.  Also, a reusable shopping tote would have been fitting, since the Dirty Dash encourages car pooling to save the environment.  Apparently not all race packets were the same. Since I snagged a deal on entry, I really can't complain, although I would have liked one of those pig tattoos that some of my teammates got in their bags.   Along the same lines, at the Dirty Dash, spectators usually can buy water balloons to pummel us Dashers, with proceeds going to charity, but the organizers ran out of water balloons before our heat (10:00AM).  Also, the food/fuel station was distributing beer pre-race (which I guess is also a Good, but I craved a powerade) and the bananas were about 3 weeks from being ripe.  (These are relatively minor points, but I thought they might be helpful to know.)  

The Ugly Muddy: The rest is best told in pictures.

 So in closing, I plan to enter more Dirty Dashes, and similar events.  Being a mommy means less time to train for longer more "serious" races, so I think mud runs may be the perfect fit!


Have you ever participated in a mud run?