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When I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t have to wear maternity clothes till I was like seven months pregnant. I really wanted to wear maternity clothes, however, and bought a whole bunch, maternity jeans with the panel, tops, dresses, you name it. And I waited patiently (okay, impatiently) for them to actually fit, which they did, for a matter of weeks. I learned my lesson that maternity clothes, while useful for those certain weeks, aren’t super duper practical nor worth the money. And the sad truth is, the really cute maternity clothes are so ridiculously expensive that it’s hard to pull the trigger on purchasing them.
Belly bands are great, you can extend the life of your pre-baby jeans by simply not zipping them up and covering the potentially exposed area with a little tube top looking thing that is supposed to keep it all up and together. Supposed to being the operative words there. Because in reality when you sit down get ready to do some major overhauling before you get back up otherwise you are going to have some pretty hot pregnancy plumber’s crack with a belly tube top bunched somewhere around your mid-section.
And it’s great that I feel good about being able to still fit my legs into the jeans, never mind my belly, except that now the zipper that I can’t actually pull up on those jeans is digging it’s tiny metal rectangle directly into my skin and adjusting it in public means yanking material covering my general groin area and that is usually something I try to avoid doing. By the end of the day I want to tear that thing off of me and banish it to a dark, dark place, never to be worn again.
That brings me to maternity jeans. These almost always fall under the “the cheaper the uglier” banner, which sadly a lot of maternity wear falls under. While I’d love to shell out the $216 for a great pair of J.Brand maternity jeans I just can’t bring myself to do so, especially for an item that I will only be wearing temporarily. That brings me to the cheaper versions. The cheaper versions usually look like they were cut by a drunk person working in the dark, and have this super thick band, so if you wear them under a thin top you have this fairly mysterious looking ridge surrounding your belly like you pulled your pants up to just under your boobs (which you did). Really makes you feel confident, doesn’t it?
I tried going the dress route, sort of like letting my more bohemian side out a little, the flowy, flower child kind of thing. Which is more comfortable, for sure, but the problem is that the flowy dress will hit you on your largest spot and fall from there, thus creating what I like to call the “Parade Float Effect”, where you appear MUCH larger than you actually are (especially in photos) and you seem to enter a room in a series of stages rather than at once: belly, more belly, then boobs, then face, and then you’re in the room.
I find myself drifting off during work to websites like Hatch Collection and A Pea in the Pod and gazing admiringly at the models who look like they just tossed on a really great chambray shirt and some old boyfriend jeans to go pick up tulips from the farmers market and maybe a baguette and oh hey, they’re nine months pregnant, no big deal. So I’ll click on the outfit I am most longing for, determined to maybe buy at least ONE outfit I can feel good in, but then choke on my morning ice cream at the $288 price tag (for a shirt, just a shirt, not a magical one either).
Perhaps my aversion to buying maternity clothes comes from an experience I had once on my way to a wedding with my mother. She had bought me this really beautiful Lilly Pulitzer silk madras maternity dress, it was perfect, and I loved it. I had been saving it for this specific wedding and couldn’t wait to actually feel pretty good in what I was wearing for a change. The wedding was a couple hours away, and so I wore sweatpants and a t-shirt on the drive then had her stop so I could change quick before we got there. Trying to get dressed in a gas station bathroom while avoiding having anything touch the ground is hard, not to mention doing it while hugely pregnant, but I managed to wiggle into this little silk preppy perfection with no problem and walked out to the car, already feeling much better in my new dress. It was short lived, because as I sat down I heard a distinctive ripping noise. I didn’t need to reach back to confirm what I already knew, but I did anyway, and found that the zipper had come away from the silk fabric, leaving a large hole. I was crushed, absolutely crushed. Not only did I just rip my brand new dress, a generous and thoughtful gift from my mother that I had been looking forward to for weeks, I also felt like my body was completely out of control. I didn’t even know that I was too big for the dress, I felt like I wasn’t even myself anymore.
I cried, of course I cried. I cried like a little baby, even more so because I didn’t have a back up dress, nor a cover up (it was so hot that day). I had no dress, just sweats and yoga pants, and we were already late for this wedding which we had driven hours to get to. We wound up making a mad dash through a mall with no maternity store nor any maternity options, and I wound up with a dress that barely contained my boobs with a huge ugly flower on it, leaving me feeling a little silly and completely uncomfortable. I hate to say it ruined my weekend, but it did.
I’m not saying I need fancy overpriced maternity clothes to feel good about myself, but I will admit that feeling pulled together, feeling like your clothes actually fit, does go a long way in boosting your self confidence sometimes, especially on those days where you feel like you’re sleepwalking after being up all night with heartburn or a sick child. Having that little extra oomph can put a little smile on your face in a way that old yoga pants and a Target maternity t-shirt just can’t.
The problem gets confounded for me further because my part time job as a social reporter requires me to wear dresses to events, sometimes two to three events a week, and I have two dresses total right now that fit me. Two. One of which I put on last week, only to hear my seven year old tell me (in an honest way, not in a mean way) that it looked like I was “wearing a tablecloth” because the colors and pattern resembled our favorite summertime tablecloth. The other one, pictured above, is actually not even a maternity dress, but a wrap/convertible dress, one that I have worn both pregnant and not pregnant and is nothing short of a miracle. Extensive boob management was necessary to wear that dress, but it was worth it. I have contemplated just wearing that dress and that dress only for the remainder of my pregnancy but don’t want to alarm anyone regarding my mental state.
So, as I sit here typing this in my sweatpants and oversized cardigan that I wear literally every day (SO GLAD I work from home, I think my coworkers would call HR regarding my outfits if I worked in an office still) I will dream of a day when well designed and well made maternity clothes don’t cost more than I spend on groceries to feed my family of five. Sometimes I even get a crazy notion that I should design inexpensive yet still stylish maternity wear and then I remember that 1) I have zero design talent and/or knowledge whatsoever and 2) Have zero extra time to start a new business regardless. Therefore, I am left in the style desert that is pregnancy.
It doesn’t help that the tabloids and celebrity websites have gone nuts over celebrity “pregnancy style” and you can barely blink without seeing a photo of someone like Kristin Cavallari popping into Starbucks wearing heels, hair all done, in skinny maternity jeans (yes these are a real thing) and some to die for flowy top looking like a pregnancy goddess come to earth. I know there are real life non-celebrity women who can pull this look off too, and my hat is off to them. For me, that’s not the case, and I’m okay with that. I will chalk this up to another reason pregnancy is sometimes difficult (albeit not a huge super important reason), and just focus on the important stuff, and if (when) you see me wearing the same dress over and over again this summer, you will know why.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, homemade marshmallow treats are Easter basket delights that few can avoid. Soft, fluffy, and wholesome tasting, they are easier to make than you might think. The key is to incorporate as much air as possible into the marshmallow mix. A deft piping hand also helps, but just try your best to make bulbous bodies and peaked heads and beaks for that classic chick design.
Homemade Peeps ™
Makes about a dozen
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 ½ teaspoons) – find it near the Jello and pudding mix at your grocer
1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus ¼ cup for sugar syrup
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkle
2-3 drops yellow food color (click here for some natural food coloring recipes)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup water and 1 cup of sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into the sugar syrup. Wipe the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil the sugar until the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees). Remove syrup from the heat; add to the softened gelatin slowly.
Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, slowly whip together the mixture to cool (about one minute). Add in food coloring to reach desired color (it will be lighter once it is completely whipped, so don’t worry now if it seems to dark). Beat the mixture on medium-high until soft peaks form and the mixture holds its shape, about eight minutes.
Transfer this marshmallow mixture to a large pastry bag or zip-top bag, seal after pushing out extra air. Snip the corner/tip to make a half-inch opening. Form the Peeps by piping the shapes onto a piece of wax paper sprinkled with Confectioner’s sugar. Once formed, sprinkle with sugar, then dip a toothpick in melted chocolate and apply to make eyes. Allow to set-up for 15 minutes. Eat immediately or store in an air-tight container for up to three days.
Click here for another great Easter recipe from Deanna in Mamatoga Magazine, the braided egg recipe. If you want some all natural egg dye recipes, click here. Find more from Deanna here on her Eat Local blog and right here at Silly Goose Farm. xoxo
Saturday was so gorgeous we wanted to be outside, so we took a little drive to visit Nettle Meadow Farm not far from Warrensburg, makers of some truly amazing goat cheese (my favorite). On the farm they have more than 300 goats, and several dozen sheep, and they are also home to several llamas and friendly chickens and ducks. Over 100 goats are milking at any one time and there are goats of all ages living on the farm. The goats and other animals are housed in four large barns and four out buildings including a brand new barn and an historic barn built in 1903.
They give free tours on Saturdays at noon (weather permitting so I would call ahead to make sure) and afterward you get to pop into their little cheese shop to take home some of their amazing goat cheese (if you want to try their cheese locally they have some at Healthy Living Market and Cafe, try the Kunik, it is delicious). Stomping around in the mud, petting llamas and trying to kiss chickens, the kids had a great time, and I am still enjoying the goat cheese. On the way home we took a detour to Brant Lake to see how things were thawing, looking forward to the warmer months…
Trees. They brighten city streets and delight nature-starved urbanites. In our busy lives many of us take trees for granted, but when we slow down to appreciate their service our attention is brought to their offering of comfort, adornment and bounty.
Saratoga Springboard has wrapped its roots around Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project. This branch of Sustainable Saratoga focuses on reforesting Saratoga’s urban landscape by facilitating strategic tree plantings. The group also aims to raise awareness about the benefits of trees, about the newly adopted Urban Forest Master Plan and newly hired City Arborist.
Historic pictures from Progressive Era (1890-1920) of the city often show majestic elms or other great street trees towering almost as high as, if not higher than, the buildings on Broadway. Since those days, because of Dutch elm disease, soil compaction and age, the shade of those giants has diminished.
Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project, in partnership with Saratoga’s Department of Public Works and Saratoga Springboard, is hoping to bring the great street trees back.
Through this collaboration, they are going to educate and engage citizens about the urban forest. SSUFP will engage the public to cultivate support for the Master Plan, which will ensure the SSFUP is not felled by the test of time.
Tree Toga: Growing Saratoga’s Urban Forest, a celebration projected to be an annual Arbor Day event, will take place on Saturday, April 26th from 10am-2pm and feature children and adult educational activities, free trees, specials at participating restaurants and businesses, and, of course commemorative tree plantings.
Join in for a family friendly day complete with activities for children, educational workshops, how-to demonstrations, live music, opportunities to get involved and much more. Attendees will also have an opportunity to visit with a number of forest experts including the City Arborist. On site will be representatives from the City of Saratoga, Sustainable Saratoga, and Saratoga Springboard.
The first 100 attendees will receive a FREE seedling—ready to plant!
Tree Toga is taking place on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, April 26th. It is free and open to the public.
If you want to help plant trees, either downtown or in your neighborhood, look for announcements from Sustainable Saratoga or simply send them an email to email@example.com. For additional information on Sustainable Saratoga, please visit: http://www.sustainablesaratoga.org or Saratoga Springboard: http://saratogaspringboard.com
Thanks to Jess Updyke for this guest post on Tree Toga! Find the event page on facebook here to stay in the loop, don’t miss it!
The warmer weather has literally JUST started but already I have heard of people reporting finding ticks on themselves after being outside, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect you and your family from ticks and Lyme Disease. First, some facts…
Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks and typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (the “bulls-eye rash”). However, a rash does not always present itself at the site of the tick bite, and fewer than 50% of patients ever recall a tick attachment. Furthermore, a rash may form on the scalp under hair, or the rash may come and go. Do not always count on there being a “bulls eye rash” in order to suspect Lyme. Lyme Disease symptoms may appear within days, weeks, months or even years after the initial infection. In most cases, if caught in the early stages, Lyme Disease can be treated successfully with a 4-6 week course of antibiotics, but it can be debilitating if not treated early and thoroughly. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Saratoga County is considered to be endemic (growing or existing in a certain place or region) for Lyme Disease, and according to this piece by the Boston Globe, “new estimates indicate that Lyme disease is 10 times more common than previous national counts showed, the federal government announced Monday, with about 300,000 people getting the disease each year — most in the Northeast.” It is growing at a rate four times faster than HIV/AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It can impact any individual of any age group, but the rate of infection is highest among children, ages 5 – 14.
Last spring on one of our first walks in the woods Finn got three ticks on him, two on his face (with one heading toward his hairline) and one on his shirt, which I spotted because they were moving and because he was wearing light colored clothing. But ticks aren’t just in the woods, they can also be picked up from simply playing outside. Keep in mind that not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, only the infected ones. Furthermore, a tick that is infected has to be attached to a person’s skin for at least 24-48 hours before it can transmit that bacteria.
If you find a tick on your child (or yourself) and you do not know how long the tick was attached, watch for signs or symptoms they might be developing the illness. Click here for a list on signs and symptoms to watch for with Lyme Disease.
Sounds scary? It is. But it shouldn’t keep you and your family from being outdoors. Being aware and taking preventative measures can help protect your family from ticks and Lyme Disease, here are some tips to keep in mind as the weather warms up:
- The biggest tip? Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find (click here for tips on how to safely remove ticks). Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around all head and body hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
- If you are going to be in areas that are tick infested, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking pants into socks or boot tops may help keep ticks from reaching your skin. Ticks are usually located close to the ground, so wearing high rubber boots may provide additional protection. If you’re in tick-infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and leaf litter.
- You can also use an insect repellents containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin. When returning home immediately throw clothing in the washer and dryer to kill any ticks that may be on your clothes.
- There are some all natural alternatives to DEET repellents (ed note: I haven’t used these in the past but will try a few all natural ones this spring). Rose Geranium has been touted as an extremely potent repellent for ticks, and the following blend can be used as a tick repellent for both you (and your dog!): Take 20 drops of Rose Geranium Oil, 3 drops of Citronella Oil and Bay Leaf Tincture and add it to 10 ounces of water. Spray this on your dog, your clothes, and exposed areas.
Most of all, be vigilant. Perform those tick checks and be thorough. The majority of infections occur between May and August when ticks are most active, but as long as the temperature is above or near freezing, ticks remain active and are a threat.
The kids had such a great time at the Educating Young Engineers Saratoga program at the Saratoga Springs High School on Saturday, Finn especially loved the “Brush Bots” that they made out of tooth brushes and battery-operated motors and Levy loved the “Egg Crash Cars” (she felt really proud about hers, the car broke but the egg survived in tact apparently). Click here to learn more about EYE Saratoga and how to get on their mailing list so you can have your kiddos attend the next program.
Sunday morning Levy treated us to a Pancake Cafe, complete with menus and signs (no checks at the end of the meal though, my kind of place!), and we headed down to Northshire Bookstore for the Superhero Party where I was lucky enough to be the Master of Games. I was so thrilled to see so many kids come out, including most of them in adorable superhero costumes! It really was so much fun, and I got in a little bit shopping in and picked up some adorable Easter decorations, you have to check out their selection there, it is too cute.
I love the little programs from Northshire, and will be heading there on Friday to hear Eve Schaub talk about her book (and her family’s experience with a) Year of No Sugar: A Memoir. Click here to learn more about Northshire’s upcoming programs. xoxo
The first question I had about food dyes was, Why do we even use them? Is there some sort of benefit to using food dyes? The answer is no. They’ve been around for decades, and are included in everything from macaroni and cheese to cereal, but they do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, and some experts say they can actually be harmful. So why do companies use them? To make the food “more appealing” to consumers, especially children. Most of the time these foods are already highly marketed toward children anyway, with fun shapes or cartoons on the box, and the color is just an added lure to make your children want to eat it.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, per capita consumption of dyes has increased five-fold since 1955, and each year manufacturers pour about 15 million pounds of synthetic dyes into our foods. Many dyes have already been banned due to their adverse affects on laboratory animals, but the report finds that many of the currently approved dyes raise health concerns. The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply. These artificial dyes are made with petroleum, a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar. Sounds like something you’d want to avoid feeding to your children, right?
What are the health concerns: risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies to name just a few.
You might be surprised to learn that the same products that contain food dyes in the US no longer contain the potentially harmful dyes in the UK. In 2007, a study that took place called the Southampton Study (which was funded by the federal food safety agency in the UK) resulted with alink between hyperactivity in children and certain food additives. In response, the UK branches of Kraft, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Mars, as well as US companies that export to the UK, removed these harmful ingredients from their foods without making the changes back here in the US. Then the UK’s Wal-Mart equivalent, Asda, voluntarily removed monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, and hydrogenated fat from 9,000 of its own label products, ingredients that weren’t even part of the study. In addition, foods and drinks that contain six artificial food colorings linked to hyperactivity in children are required to contain a warning label. This shows an eagerness on the companies’ parts to clean up their acts for UK consumers, yet they haven’t done the same for Americans.
How can we help create similar change in the US? People are speaking up and asking companies to remove these potentially harmful dyes, you may have seen friends on facebook sharing this petition to Kraft asking them to remove the unnecessary dyes. Another way to make your voice heard is by choosing to speak with your dollar, avoid purchasing foods that use these additives and choose healthier alternatives instead. And there are healthier alternatives to food dyes out there that are already being used to replace dyes. Beet juice, beta-carotene, blueberry juice concentrate, carrot juice, grape skin extract, paprika, purple sweet potato or corn, red cabbage, and turmeric are some of the substances that provide a vivid spectrum of colors and pose no potential health risks.
Need some tips on how to identify and avoid food dyes? Click here to read a great article from 100 Days of Real Food with some good tips on what to avoid. Also, here are a few quick tips on how to keep these food dyes out of your grocery cart:
- Keep in mind that man-made food dyes appear in ingredient lists as a name of a color with a number following it: Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6.
- Food dyes lurk not only in the brightly colored obvious places like Froot Loops, like the article on 100 Days of Real Food shows, they can be found in items like brown cereal, whole-wheat pizza crust, and even white icing. Reading the labels once again will help you make sure what you are buying is free from dyes.
- Dyes and preservatives can also be found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, some of which may be swallowed by young children. Again, read the labels carefully before buying them. Crest toothpaste, for instance, contains blue dye; Colgate’s Original is free of it. Clear, natural mouthwashes are a good substitute for those brightly colored varieties.
- Most pediatric medicines are also artificially colored and flavored. Ask your doctor if there is an additive-free substitute that would work just as well. For over-the-counter medicines, many now come in dye-free versions.
- Again, as I said in my first post on Going Additive Free, eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives and preservatives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. If you choose processed foods, look for the organic options which usually have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.
Click here to read my post on making my kids’ lunchboxes healthier, and tune in Friday to WAMC to hear me chat with the folks on Vox Pop talking about cooking with kids!
More in this series:
Here are my top picks for toddler products, you are sure to love these hot new items for your little one!
Have you heard of these yet? Chances are if you’ve gotten an Amazon shipment in the past few hours (I mean, who hasn’t?) you have a box lying around, lucky you! Take whatever toy came in that box, toss it aside, and let your child go to town on this box. Rocket ship, television, boat, box, whatever. They’ll love it.
This is like a spinoff on the cardboard box but is WAY more portable. Going on a car trip? Bring along a milk carton! Toss a handful of rocks in there and I guarantee it’ll buy you at least ten to fifteen minutes of quiet time.
This item comes in SO many cool styles, and is usually the most fun for kids if it has some money (paper bills and coins not included), some lipstick or gloss to smear and especially a cellphone that can be cracked. Add in some mints or Tums that you don’t want them to eat for an extra play challenge to keep them (and you) on your toes. The deluxe version of The Purse includes a set of car keys with an alarm they can set off unexpectedly.
This one has to be full to be fun. Simply buy a box of cereal, open it, leave it on the counter close enough to the edge for your child to reach and let the fun begin! They earn bonus points in this game if they manage to stomp on most of it before you get a chance to clean it. Buy the organic cereal for a healthier play experience, just in case they actually eat any of it.
5. Your Toilet
The best part about this toy is that we all (should) have one in our houses already! Options for fun include closing the lid over and over again, putting things into the toilet that don’t belong there, flushing the toilet as many times as humanly possible, putting arms/hands/head inside the toilet, it’s really endless entertainment for your toddler! Get the bonus fun pack of toilet paper and let the games REALLY begin! Your toddler will love the classic “Unroll the Entire Roll in Thirty Five Seconds” game, it’s a guaranteed winner!
The beauty of this toy is that it doesn’t matter what you serve, your child can make a game of it. Spaghetti goes on the head, carrots go on the floor, bread gets wedged into the high chair, they can get creative! Don’t worry if you think you’re serving a dish they will actually EAT, with this game they will decide that old favorite is now totally repulsive and will make quick work of smushing it between their palms. Family dogs even get in on this action with the old “Feed the Pets” round!
You might have heard of these before as a good way to transition your toddler out of their crib, but in fact these are the BEST toddler gymnasiums! Kids will get a workout, especially right around bedtime, bouncing and jumping and running, you won’t believe how much energy they will get once they lay eyes on this toddler bed! The one catch is that while the toddler bed gymnasium will tire you out, it’s likely to have the opposite effect on your toddler, so, just a heads up on that.
april fools xoxo