Friday, March 26, 2010

Passover is coming!

Passover begins this Monday night!  I can't believe it's here already.  This festival is extremely fun and joyful as we celebrate the Exodus from Egypt.  It is also incredibly spiritual and can be life-changing.  In the next few days, there will be a flurry of activity in homes throughout the world, removing chametz (leaven) from every corner.  As we do this, let us not neglect to clear out the chametz from our hearts.  This is the present-day Exodus.  Each of us must daily remember that we are not slaves of the world, but we are set free in Messiah to be "slaves unto righteousness" (Romans 6:18).  When we allow the chametz of pride, anger and unforgiveness to remain in our hearts, we are acting as slaves to this world and its bondages (John 8:34).  Therefore, let us remember the miracles of the past, and walk in them in the present!

Here are some Passover links:
Tammy has a great Matza Ball Soup recipe looks delish! 
Joanna at Fearlessly Feminine has had a great series here on "Getting the Leaven Out".
Aaron Eby wrote a great piece for Passover newbies (and oldies!) - 10 Tips for A Smooth Sailing Seder.

Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover)!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Earth's Best Giveaway!

Yesterday I told you how to score some Earth's Best organic baby food for really cheap.  Today I'll tell you how you can win some for FREE!
One of my favorite money-saving sites is The Centsible Sawyer and she is giving away 3 cases of Earth's Best Infant Cereal.  Just go here to enter!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Baby's First Guacamole

Homemade baby food is something that I want to make more of.  I'm kind of a "low maintenance" type of cook, so the easier the better.  Here's something I make for my 7 month old daughter and she loves it!

Baby's First Guacamole

1/2 cup ripe, peeled avocado
1/4 of a ripe banana
Mash together both ingredients.
Voila! Creamy, yummy and nutritious "guac" for your baby!

Publix Premium Diapers for 50 cents!

Attention Publix shoppers!  If you belong to the Publix Baby Club, and received the last set of coupons, including the $3 off any Publix Premium diaper Jumbo Pack (40 - 66 diapers), then you could score some diapers for CHEAP!

I've seen these diapers on the clearance rack for $3.50 at 4 different Publix stores. 
Use the coupon, and get the jumbo pack for 50 cents! 

Grill Night!

Why does everything taste better grilled?


Recent Reads

I LOVE to read...and I thought I would share some of my favorite recent reads with you!

Quick & Kosher by Jamie Geller
Ok, I know it's a cookbook.  But I really did read it...all the way through!  That should tell you something.  I'm not usually into cookbooks, but my mom and I were planning our Passover meal for next week ('s next week!) and she told me to look through this book.  I immediately fell in love with the author, whose number one criteria for any recipe is that it must take less than 15 minutes to prep.  I actually just read it today and haven't tried any recipes yet, but I definitely plan to this week.  I'm always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen.  I'm a gourmet-food lover, but hate all the prep.  I love reading my sister's old copies of Bon Appetite magazine as my mouth waters from just looking at the titles of the recipes, but one mention of "separating eggs" or using an "immersion blender" makes me turn the page.  My sis on the other hand, will make the most delicious  (and challenging) recipes, "just for fun."  Therefore, this book is perfect for me, and any other cook who would like some traditional Jewish recipes (and lots of non-traditional ones) that are EASY to create!

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
If you are a woman, you need to read this book.  DEFINITELY.  It has been one of the most life/attitude changing books I have ever read.  I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give it away, but this book.  Now.

Unspoken by Angela Hunt
This book is one of the most intriguing works of fiction I have ever read.  It is about a woman who works with a gorilla.  I have never fallen in love with a character as much as I fell in love with that gorilla.  I laughed, I cried, and I was encouraged.  It has a wonderful "redemptive" message, as most of the Angela Hunt novels do. 

So, what have you been reading lately?  Any recommendations?

Earth's Best Organic Baby Food for 40 cents per jar!

Now that my daughter has started solids, I am always looking for good deals on baby food.  Homemade is of course preferable, but it's just not feasible for me to do homemade for every meal.  So I have rules about the jarred baby food I buy:
1) It has to be kosher.
2) It has to be organic.
3) It has to be less than 50 cents per jar.

These rules can make it a challenge at times to find baby food that fits all my criteria, but they are all important to me.  Today I found a great deal at Babies R Us which is good for the next week, and I wanted to share it!

Earth's Best Organic 1st and 2nd foods are on sale at BRU for 10 for $5.00 (must buy 10).
Use $1/7 here (can print 2 coupons)
Get each jar for 40 cents each! 
(I actually had more coupons from a blinkie I found a few weeks ago, so mine were less than 40 cents each.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's a mom got to do to get some sleep???

Is there anything more beautiful than a sleeping baby?

One of the most repeated (and annoying!) pieces of advice I received when I was pregnant was, "Make sure to sleep now, because you won't later!"  Yes, annoying, for two reasons: 1) When you have a watermelon, or even a large peach, pressing on your bladder 24 hours a day, it is hard to do ANYTHING without visiting the bathroom every two hours.  2) It's not like sleeping a lot when you are pregnant would help with sleep deprivation after the baby arrives, anyway.  Therefore, I made myself promise to never give this piece of advice to any other pregnant woman. 
Although annoying, now that I have been a mother for 7 months, I do realize the heart behind this piece of advice.  First time pregnant women (and I sure do know a lot of this the 2010 baby boom or what?), hear me now.  Sleep deprivation is unlike anything else you've ever dealt with.  You will not believe how incredibly hard it is to be sweet and patient when you are living day after day on little sleep.  You will realize the absolute importance of UNINTERRUPTED sleep.  You will realize how selfish this body of yours really is, and how it craves sleep.  
Ok, there's the bad news.  But I'm an eternal optimist, so here's the good news.  Your baby might be a good sleeper from the get-go.  I know quite a few moms that swear their babies were.  And although it's very hard for me to imagine, some say their babies slept through the night before they were even one month old.  My seven month old angel has just started sleeping through the night.  But more on that later.  
More good can actually do things to help your baby sleep through the night.  After reading virtually every book on the subject, and trying almost all of the "fail-proof" methods, I'd like to weigh in on the subject for anyone who cares.  Contrary to what Johnson & Johnson want you to think, getting a baby to sleep is a lot more of a job than just giving them a blissful bubbly bath in their calming line of products.  Here are some things I learned:
1) Get on a routine during the day.  The eat/play/sleep routine did WONDERS for us.  Not in the sleeping through the night dilemma, but in general.  A friend of mine who has her master's degree in education and I were talking yesterday about babies loving patterns.  Babies really do pay attention to small details, things that we as adults would miss.  Babies also crave routine.  I read a couple of books, On Becoming Babywise and The Baby Whisperer, that promote this idea and decided to try it.  Although not everything in both of the books worked for us, nor do I agree with everything in either book.  However, the importance of routine proved itself to me.  After instituting a routine, Ariella was just a much happier baby.  She knew what to expect.  She knew that when she woke up from a nap, Mommy would feed her and then she would get to play (even if playing just means laying on the floor looking around a things when you are just a newborn). 
2) Getting to sleep is a journey.  Think of every naptime and bedtime as a journey.  In the beginning, you will have to help your baby a lot.  In every "play" period, I built in a little "quiet time" where Ariella and I would go in her room and just lay down on the twin guest bed in her room and we would read a story or I would sing to her.  It seemed to really signal to her that "after this, we are going to sleep."  If she was wired from being overtired, I would nurse her a little to calm her down (the books above advise you not to do this).  Then I would put her in her crib and just sit in a chair beside her crib and she would look around while she sucked on her pacifier until her eyelids got too heavy.  It took some time, but now she is much better at going to sleep independently.  If she is truly tired now, I can put her in her crib, give her the pacifier and she rolls onto her side away from me - which I interpret to mean,  "Ok, Mom, I got this.  I'm ready to sleep now."
3) Use a pacifier appropriately...or don't.  At the very beginning, Ariella wouldn't take the pacifier.  I don't think she knew what to do with it since it was so different from what she was used to sucking on for her food.  But that meant that for her suckling time, she wanted me.  All the time.  So we began consistently giving it to her at bedtime, and within a few days she loved it.  However, we only gave it to her at naptime or bedtime.  And it is really a great invention, seriously. However, I did not want one of those two year olds walking around with one.  So the rule is, you have to be in the crib for it.  Sometimes she finds one while she is playing and she doesn't even want one during "play" time.  She just takes it out and shakes it.  So it worked for us that way.  If you aren't comfortable with them at all, then don't do it.  If you are breastfeeding, don't worry about the nipple confusion thing.  We didn't have a problem with that at all.  We gave her bottles of breastmilk when she was a week old and she never had a problem with latching.  The pacifier didn't confuse her either.  I think once they learn, then it's like riding a bike, they don't forget.
4) The big CIO.  This is where the books mentioned above differ greatly.  CIO (crying it out) is perhaps one of the most controversial points of new parenthood.  I was hesitant at first, but found that a little crying before naps and bedtime is normal. Once we got using the pacifier a lot though, the crying before bed virtually ended.  However, our particular problem was not GETTING to sleep, it was STAYING asleep.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, Ariella's pattern was like this:
Go to bed (I tried several different bedtimes between 6 pm and 10 pm....8 pm works the best for us).
Sleep 4 or 5 hours. 
Sleep 2 hours.
Sleep 2 hours.
Sleep 1 or 2 hours.
The problem with the earlier bedtimes for us was that once she had slept her 4 or 5 hours, I was literally just going to bed and she was ready to wake up every 2 hours.  It was ok for a while, but after 6 months of this, it was madness.  I just could not take it anymore.  I knew she didn't like it either.  She was dreadfully upset when she woke at night.  I knew it was waking my husband up too, and we were both worse for the wear.  Our family needed some sleep.  So one night when she woke at 1 am (her "sticky point"), I didn't go to her.  I just turned our fan up really loud in our room.  Occasionally I would look at the monitor and then look at the clock to make sure it hadn't been too long.  I think she fell asleep after 45 minutes that first night.  And then miracle of miracles, she didn't wake up 2 hours later.  She slept until 6 am, when I nursed her.  The next night I did the same thing, and she did the same thing.  The third night she slept all the way until 4 am.  Now I feed her at 4 am and she goes back to sleep until 8 am.  Soon we will work on getting that 4 am feeding out, but for now it's fine with all 3 of us.  So that's how cry it out worked for us.  I will say that I don't recommend doing it to newborn babies or even under 3 months.  They really do need at least one feeding at night up until then anyway.  After all of my research, I recommend waiting until 6 months.  The 4 - 6 month stage is a big "growing and learning" stage and they can be very fussy.  It can make doing CIO at that time very hard on all parties involved.  I'm glad that we did it when we did.

Here we are seven months after our world completely changed.  Nothing will ever be the same.  I've been sleep-deprived and blissfully in love with my daughter for seven months.  And now, I am well-rested and happy and even more in love with my husband and daughter than ever before.  So here's my best piece of advice for a new mom, and it applies to everything across the board...IT DOES GET BETTER!!!  But don't live the first few months waiting for it to get better...enjoy the ride.  There are little moments of true joy in all of the sleep-deprived, sore-nippled, smelly-diapered newborn days that make it all worth it. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wonder Kids Bible DVD's for $1 each!

I stumbled upon a great deal and I wanted to share it with other parents, Shabbat/Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, grandparents, etc. 

Dollar Tree Stores have Wonder Kids Bible DVD's for $1 each.  I bought the Esther one and the Moses one, and was amazed when we watched them with my 7 month old for the first time.  They show the Bible stories as a book, with pictures and the words flash up on the screen (so you can read along with it!).  After each little story there is a praise/worship song.  I can't believe the quality in each DVD for $1!  This is a good deal as the DVD's on the website are all around $14.99 (for 3 DVD's).

Check out your local store to see if they have them!

The Beauty of Breastfeeding

One of the ironies of the human experience is that those things in life which present the most difficult challenges to us are the things that we hold most dearly.  One of the ironies of new motherhood is "How can something so natural be so difficult?"

Immediately after Ariella came into this world, we tried breastfeeding.  She suckled for about 30 seconds, and then fell asleep.  The nurses told me not to be disappointed as she was probably tired from a long labor and that we could try again later.  So a couple of hours later we tried again...same thing.  This continued throughout the whole night.  The next morning a lactation consultant came into try to help.  She was one of those "no nonsense" nurses that looked like she could beat your husband at football.  I was so intimidated as she forcefully shoved my breast into my sleepy infant's mouth.  "You have to keep waking her up if she falls asleep," she told me.  I asked her if she had any children, and she shook her head, "no."  "Ok, great", I thought, "I'm learning from someone who has never done this in her life!"  So every breastfeeding session after that became a battle of trying to keep Ariella awake.

A few days later, my milk started coming in and WOW...did that ever hurt!!!  Every time Ari latched on, I would squint my eyes and say "Lord help me!" until the pain subsided.  The best thing for that season of breastfeeding was the Lansinoh lanolin someone gave me at a baby shower.   It hurt so much that a few times I even considered pumping exclusively or going to formula feeding.  Even though everyone told me that it would get better, I thought it would hurt like that forever.

And "the people" were right!  It got way better about 2 weeks later, and our every 3 hour feeding sessions were a well-deserved 45 minute break for me to rest and read and pray.  I loved them and treasured those times.  I would even just stare at my suckling child for the entire time sometimes.  I couldn't believe that I was the recipient of such a precious gift...and that Hashem was allowing my body to produce her life-sustaining food!  What a miracle!

Now, 7 months later, I look back and miss those times.  We're still breastfeeding, but it goes so fast now.  She can drain both breasts in 7 minutes flat.  Barely enough time to read a good chapter or have a "good" prayer session.  Or even just to stare at every little characteristic of the side of her face or play with her toes.  (Ok, now I'm tearing up).  My baby is growing up! 

When I first started breastfeeding and it was so hard, I would think to myself, "Ok, just 3 more months of this."  Then I got to 3 months and thought, "Ok, 3 more months."  And now, I don't want to stop! I know I will at some point wean her, but right now as she is becoming more active and more independent, it's a much beloved time that is just for the two of us.

Sometimes I wondered why God made it so that only the woman has the ability to breastfeed her baby.  But then I thought about it.  God did not make male and female to be the same.  He made us with COUNTLESS differences, specialities, abilities, whatever you want to call them.  What a treasure He has given us as mothers!

So, to sum it all up, if you choose to breastfeed (and please do if you can!):

1. Pray, even before your baby is born, that God will make your body able to do it.  I found a prayer like this in the Artscroll Women's Siddur, and I prayed it every day in the last few months of my pregnancy.
2. Cherish the time you spend snuggling with your little one.  It really does go by really quickly!
3. Take care of yourself, get enough calories and rest so that your body can produce the milk.
4.  Don't stress...pray and talk to other moms when you need encouragement.
5.  If you have a little night owl like mine, side-lying nursing is AWESOME for letting you get some needed rest while your baby suckles.

"Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;

rejoice greatly with her,

all you who mourn over her.

For you will nurse and be satisfied

at her comforting breasts;

you will drink deeply

and delight in her overflowing abundance."

Isaiah 66:10-11

The Beauty of Separation, Taharat HaMishpachah

I have recently been reading a lot about Taharat HaMishpachah, the laws of family purity.  My beautiful friend over at Fearlessly Feminine just wrote a post about it, and I wanted to share it with you.  May you be blessed by it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blockbuster Express: Free Night Movie Rental on Wednesdays

If you're looking for a cheap date night activity, renting a movie from a kiosk is a great idea. Here's something to make it even cheaper...a code for a free night every Wednesday from Blockbuster Express. The code is 212A4

Check here to find a kiosk near you!