Thursday, January 31, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks- Keep a Schedule!

For those of you that have read the blog from the beginning, this may sound familiar!

My very first post on the blog was to upload a weekly cleaning schedule for a few friends that had asked me to share.  And, there was born The Naptown Organizer.  :)

Since that time, while I'm not always 100% strict about following the schedule, I still follow portions of the schedule religiously, like clockwork.

No matter what I'm doing on Mondays- it is always laundry day.

And no matter what I'm doing on Tuesdays- it is always ironing day.  

Since those tend to be the biggest time commitment for me in my weekly chores, I always set aside time on my days off to specifically do these chores.  Since I've been doing them on these days for so long, it is an automatic habit for me.  When little man goes down for a nap on a Monday, I don't even think to sit down first.  I just function sort of on autopilot and go upstairs to bring down the laundry ready for the wash.  It's just a habit at this point.

By making yourself do a task on a specific day, and holding yourself accountable to completing that task, it is much more likely that the mundane, day-to-day chores are going to get done.  

It's the same thing with my night-time rituals.  Every night after little man goes to sleep, one of the first things I try to do is wipe down the kitchen table and all of the counter tops.  If it's been a particularly messy day, the floors get swept as well.  If there are dishes sitting out, they get put in the dishwasher.  Those little things take only 10-15 minutes to complete at the end of the day, but they are so worth it.

I promise you- it is SUCH a great feeling to wake up to a clean house the next morning!

Especially for me- as I tend to feel overwhelmed already when I walk into our kitchen for breakfast and am greeted by crumby, messy surfaces and yesterday's old, gross dishes staring me in the face.  

Since I won't be returning to work for a third weekday each week now, I plan on adding to my schedule.  Likely, because the bathrooms are the next, most pressing chore on the to-do list (no pun intended, lol!), the bathrooms will be my third day off task.

It really is that simple.

Just pick a chore, and pick a day.  Start doing it, and keep doing it.  

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Making the Garden Grow

Today we return to one more guest post from my amazing friend Posy.  Her post today delves into the typical schedule of a special needs parent, which is obviously pretty near and dear to my heart as I'm a speech language pathologist.  

Thank you so much for writing for me friend!

Making the Garden Grow

Special Needs are time consuming. They’re exhausting, painful, stressful, and absolutely rewarding. Every parent rejoices when their child learns something new. Some may even start to take milestones for granted as their children grow and develop more new skills every day.  A Special Needs parent rejoices and flies on high for weeks after a skill is learned, because we had to teach it to our child every teeny step of the way, over and over again.

Tiny Flower has her own posse for getting her to reach her full potential. She’s on her second posse, actually, as she switched from a daycare center to a specialized hospital-based program and a babysitter in our home.

She has a Speech and Feeding Therapist (also known as a Speech-Language Pathologist or SLP). Tiny Flower has low muscle tone throughout her entire body, including her jaw and tongue. Her SLP is not only helping her to learn how to speak, but also working those muscles so she can develop the ability to chew and swallow without aspirating. The SLP uses a variety of special spoons, a washed out honey bear with a piece of tubing to transition from bottle to straw drinking, facial massage and tools to stimulate the inside of her mouth. This is actually one of the more frustrating things for me. Tiny Flower isn’t crazy about anything coming towards her face, which makes at-home carry over difficult. She’s also a beast to feed. Not only does she not self-feed, she will only eat consistently for me. And even that is a battle now as she’s entering toddler-hood and trying to exert her independence in the only way she can – by refusing to eat or drink. I’d be more ok with it except that she’s 19lbs and needs to put on some weight. C’mon, kid! Eating is awesome!

Next member of the crew is the Occupational Therapist. This is the person who helps Tiny Flower learn fine motor skills. Through the use of toys, books, exercise equipment and varied positions, OT helps develop muscle strength as well as fine motor skills. This one is a fight as Tiny Flower has a reflex to pull her hands back and away when someone tries to do hand-over-hand with her.  Sometimes it’s better than others.  This therapist also overlaps heavily with physical therapy. Both therapies focus on developing muscle tone and physical endurance so Tiny Flower can become mobile and wreak havoc on everything around her.

Physical Therapy at this point is the most important member of the Flower Posse. Infant-toddlers learn about their environment and develop cognitive skills by exploring their world. When a child is immobile, has limited range of motion or has any other physical hindrances, she is unable to learn because she cannot explore. Everything is so tightly connected to physical development at this point. Not only is she learning how to bear weight and develop those very important core muscles, PT is teaching Tiny Flower that her limbs are connected to her and that she can move them when she wants to. It’s building the foundation for mobility. If you ask Tiny Flower “Where is foot?” she’ll raise and grab her foot now! Way to go PT and OT working together! 

And the last of the Flower Posse are the Special Instruction therapists. They run the Special Ed classroom portion of Tiny Flower’s program. These therapists overlap with all of the other therapies. They work at fine tuning the skills that are being taught as well as adding in a lot of cognitive work. Through songs, books, play, snack time, and circle time they work tirelessly to ensure that the children in their room get the most out of all of the treatments they are having.

These incredible people are the gardeners who come and lay out the garden. They plant each bulb with care and water, feed and cultivate it tirelessly. They give the at-home gardeners the foundations to build on and to create beautiful and lasting flowers. Without them, we’d have a wilting rose and a mess of mulch that we’d have no idea what to do with. 
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole- Part Two

If you missed the first post, Down the Rabbit Hole- Part One, please head over here to read first!

Part Two

Google was not my friend. 

All it did was serve to terrify me and sink me deeper into my guilt spiral. How could I not have known something was wrong with my child?  What kind of a mother was I?  Did I do this to her?  

I was a high risk pregnancy. I had a history of blood clots and yet my hematologist and OB both agreed not to medicate me unless necessary. At week nine of my pregnancy, it was necessary as I had developed deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in major veins of my leg). 

Could my clotting problem have had anything to do with all of Tiny Flower’s problems?

November of 2011: 

We started our evaluations for Early Intervention. A physical therapist, speech therapist, feeding therapist, occupational therapist and cognitive therapist all came to our home to play with and evaluate our daughter. They asked us the exact same questions, we gave the same answers. We waited on pins and needles for all of the evaluations to be completed so we could find out what we needed to do. 

We met with a neurologist and started the tests that would help up unravel the mystery of our child’s delays, hypotonia and small head size.

December 8, 2011: 

Our first meeting with the Department of Health and our Early Intervention Evaluator. Tiny Flower, 11 months old, was at the developmental level of a 2-4 month old across the board, except in her social interactions. The DOH tried to start us with one session per week of Special Instruction (essentially special ed), Speech/Feeding, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy.  We managed to get started with two sessions each per week.

December 13, 2011: 

One month and one day before Tiny Flower’s first birthday. 

The day we found out that she was brain damaged. 

She’d suffered a stroke while I was pregnant with her.  She’d had an MRI the week before to determine what was causing the small head and the delays. 

We were hoping for the best case scenario - that it was a situation where the skull fuses together too quickly. It would have meant surgery, but once the surgery was done and interventional therapy put in place, Tiny Flower could have quickly gained footing on things in her age range. 

Unfortunately, we did not get the news we wanted to hear. Her microcephaly (clinical term for “small head”) was due to the fact that her brain was damaged and not growing the way it should have been.

Fast-forward to December 2012. 

It’s been a year. A good year, a horrible year, a year that will never be forgotten. 

With intensive Early Intervention, the only treatment option for brain damage, Tiny Flower has blossomed. She’s still very delayed, but the leaps and bounds she’s made are impressive. She sits on her own, she will stand - with assistance to get her there and someone to hold her and help with her balance, she plays with toys. She has gained 3 words (“hi,” “Dada,” and “Hooray”), and has developed a deep love of music.

Dreams are completely altered. 

Tiny Flower’s obsession (it is totally an obsession) with music gives me hope that she’ll conduct one day. Or sing, or play an instrument. I have visions of her conducting the Boston Pops or the New York Philharmonic. 

Mostly my dreams are of her being able to say “Mama” and know that it’s me. 

That she will be able to feed herself, and dress herself. That she can be potty trained some day. That she will be able to walk. My whole pregnancy I sang to her and talked to her about all of the things we would teach and show her. Now we’re teaching her how to play with toys and how to open her hands to clap.

It’s hard to be around my friends who have “normal” or “neurotypical” children. When I see the things that she should be doing, might not ever do, or will have a lot of trouble learning it’s like being punched in the heart. Luckily, my closest friends don’t see Tiny Flower as anyone different. They treat her the way they treat any child. They cry with me, spur me on, and are my child’s biggest cheerleaders. For that I’m eternally grateful. The difference it makes on this difficult path is immeasurable.

When you think of the term “brain damage,” you probably picture someone who is unresponsive, unable to do anything for themself, unable to exist without major medical interventions. For a child who faces such challenges and so much work on a daily basis, Tiny Flower is an absolute joy. She’s quick to smile and laugh, curious, and engaging. Many people think that she’s younger than she is, due to her small stature and developmental level of a 10-11 month old, but no one has ever reacted with anything but surprise at hearing her diagnosis.

We have a long road ahead of us. There are so many questions that we have and the only answer is, “we have to wait and see.”  There is so little known about the brain and how it heals and redirects information. We had one specialist write in her report that she was amazed at how well Tiny Flower is doing based on the amount of damage and the location of the damage in her brain. That comment not only is a blow to the parental psyche but also a statement of hope. We just might be able to re-wire her brain and she might come very close to being like any other neurotypical child.

No one ever expects or wants a child with Special Needs.  It’s an exclusive club that no one is clamoring to be a part of. You have to adjust your “normal” and constantly remind yourself that it’s not like anyone else’s. It’s entirely yours. Resist it, hate it, accept it, own it, eventually you will love it. At least parts of it.
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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole- Part One

My next few guest posts were written by a beautiful, intelligent, and extremely caring friend of mine who- for privacy purposes, writes under the name of Posy.  In her posts, you'll hear her also refer to her daughter as Tiny Flower.  

These next few posts chronicle a few steps in their journey as mother and child through hardships, revelations, and accomplishments/successes.  In this journey we'll hear two parts to this story: Down the Rabbit Hole Parts One & Two, as well as Making the Garden Grow.  

Please leave your love in the comments below for Posy & Tiny Flower if you're touched by their story.

Down The Rabbit Hole

“You need to take her to a neurologist.” 

Words you don’t expect to hear at a well-check with your pediatrician. 

“Her head is very small for her age and she’s delayed.” 

Then came, “Here’s a flyer for an Early Intervention program. Give them a call and have her evaluated.”

And down the rabbit hole we went.

You never know what a powerful thing denial is until it smacks the bejebus out of you and then runs away laughing. After that fateful well-check I ran through everything I’d seen in Tiny Flower and everything I knew wasn’t right. And then I beat myself up for ignoring it and telling myself that “all babies develop at different rates, she’s doing fine.” 

No, she wasn’t.

It started immediately after she was born. She didn’t cry, she grunted. She had trouble regulating her temperature. Her first APGAR was low and her second was mediocre. All of these things were indicative of something being wrong, but they are also occurrences in “normal” newborns. No one thought anything of it.

We had problems nursing. I was determined to breastfeed. I had imagined the two of us sitting serenely together in the glider as a gentle breeze wafted over our tranquil forms (in the middle of January in the North-East, mind you). 

Yeah, the kid wouldn’t latch. A trip to a loony-toons lactation consultant resulted in me pumping every two hours for twenty minutes and recording the amounts and feeding my baby girl with a syringe and tube taped to my finger to teach her how to suck (luckily the tube feeding only lasted a week). I cried every day. I became so obsessed with the amounts that I was pumping I was driving myself crazy. Pumping became a horrifying experience for me and so stress inducing I never really responded well. 

Tiny Flower never was able to fully regulate my supply so I would nurse, supplement with formula, pump, lather, rinse and repeat. We made it to 8 months doing that. She never gained weight well. Even with the supplementation. She was a whopping ten pounds when she was 6 months old. We were doing bi-weekly weight checks at the pediatrician for months.

She seemed to have started rolling at seven weeks old.  Looking back, she was toppling out of frustration and never developed the muscles to push herself over. It was an occurrence that never repeated. She wasn’t pushing up on her arms, she wasn’t reaching for things. She had little to no interest in toys, she loved watching people and smiling and laughing. She never babbled, only coo’d.

Tiny Flower wouldn’t put her feet down to start learning to bear weight. We’d try and she’d pull those cute feet right up. She was “floppy”– later we would learn that was due to her hypotonia. If put down on her tummy, she’d fuss and complain. Then she would get comfy and take a nap. We just thought she hated Tummy Time.

Socially she was on or close to being age appropriate. That first beaming smile came right around two-and-a-half-months old. Her cooing and responsiveness was on time. She’s been an engaging child from the start. Based on her development in that arena, there was no way that there could have been something going on with her.

How very wrong we were.

Part Two to post next, come back to read more on Sunday!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks- Natural Glass Cleaner

We have a glass kitchen table.  

As a parent, you probably know what that means: lots of smeared food, finger prints, cup condensation rings, etc.  And if I'm anything- I'm obsessed with keeping it clean.

Since I wipe the table down at least 1-3 times per day (depending on how obsessive I'm feeling that particular day), I've gone through a TON of glass cleaner in the past.  

Recently, however, I've discovered a cheaper, more eco-friendly, and just as effective method.

Here's my homemade glass cleaner recipe:

1.  Start by washing out an old glass cleaner bottle.

2.  Add a few cups of water.  I typically fill about 60% full.

3.  Add a cup or less of distilled white vinegar.

4.  Add just a splash or two of dish soap.

*5.  If you choose, you can add some essential oil in your preferred fragrance.  I typically skip this step.

This glass cleaning concoction is quick to make, handy to have around, and does just as great of a job as your typical glass cleaner.  No streaks here!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Pajama Mama's Thrifting Tips!

Hey all!  Today's guest post comes to you from The Pajama Mama, an amazingly talented and lovely blogger friend of mine!  Here is her post on thrifting tips!   

If you are a reader of my blog, you know that I love bullet points. They're succinct, easy to read (and let's be honest, to skim), and just sort of fun. So, when Jayne asked me to guest blog, I just knew my beloved bullet points would be coming with. 

The topic is one near and dear to the heart of The Naptown Organizer herself: thrifting. There are lots of great reasons to hit the second-hand stores. It's eco-friendly, cost-effective, and you can find some really unique stuff. 

Without further ado, I'd like to share with you, dear NTO readers, my DOs and DON'Ts of thrift shopping.
  • DO get to know your local stores. Once you familiarize yourself with all the local haunts, you will be able to discern each one's unique offerings. For instance, consignment or resale shops often have higher quality, name-brand items, so I go to these for Mango's shoes. He wears almost exclusively high-quality, name-brand shoes like Stride Rite and Keen. These are brands that normally retail for $30 - $50, and I get them gently used for never more than $10, and usually closer to $6. One of the true thrift stores near me has outstanding housewares, and one has an amazing sale day, where I can score clothes for less than $1 each - for everyone in my family. I go to each of these stores for different things, because I've become familiar with the character of each store.
  • DO go often. This goes hand-in-hand with getting to know your stores. If you go frequently, you can learn when the best days are for each different store. When do they stock the most new merchandise? Do they have any special sales? Another bonus of becoming a regular is that you won't have to sift through everything every single time - you'll be able to spot new merchandise quickly and get on your way.
  • DO get in there. Don't be afraid to dig around a little bit. Some of my best treasures have been found hiding in unexpected corners, under things, and behind things. Most people won't be willing to do the extra work to find the real scores, but you don't want to be "most people," do you?
  • DO clean your haul. Maybe it goes without saying, but clean everything you get at a second-hand store. If it is a household item or toy that can be disinfected, even better. I use vinegar and steam to clean just about everything like this. Run clothing and linens through the wash (or hand wash, if necessary). Wipe down books with hard covers or pages.
  • DO see the potential. Try to imagine what things will be like if they are washed, bleached, dyed, hemmed, tailored, or painted. Could you use the item in an unconventional or unexpected way? Even the most basic sewing or crafting skills will open up a whole new world of thrifting possibilities. I found a really cute pair of women's pajamas in a size much to small for me. I loved the star pattern, and with the sale that was on, they were only 75¢. I decided to plunk down the three quarters and make them into pants for Mango. 

Even if you aren't super handy with a sewing machine, it's a great idea to learn to sew a proper button, patch a hole or use hem tape. These small repairs can help you take some nearly-great finds and make them into something fantastic. And you'd be surprised at what a good scrubbing and coat of spray paint can do for so many housewares! But...
  • DON'T get in over your head. Know your own limits. Don't fill your garage with projects that you'll never do or don't even know how to do. I had to have a little self-intervention when I had the thought, "I'll just learn how to cut glass..." You're not saving money if you buy things you can't use.
  • DON'T buy something just to buy something. You have to be okay with walking away empty-handed. This can be really tough to do when you've spent lots of valuable hours digging for treasure, but if it's not there, don't force it. Just walk away before you spend unnecessary money. Disheartening as it may be, you really are coming out on top by employing this strategy.
  • DON'T buy something just because it's a great deal. This goes hand in hand with the previous point. When you find something that is a designer brand, in fantastic condition, 90% off the retail price, and two sizes too small, it can be reeeally tempting to buy it and sock it away "just in case." Don't. No matter how deep the discount, if you can't use the item, you're not saving money -- you're spending it. You'll save more by leaving your wallet closed.
  • DON'T bring your kids! You will not be able to spend the time and attention it takes to score great deals at thrift stores if your children are running around, touching things, breaking things, throwing fits and being generally bored.
And one last little bonus tip:
  • DO bring hand sanitizer. Just do.

So, there you have it, new friends. Hopefully these few pointers will light a fire under you and get you pumped to get out there and buy second-hand!

Like the post you see here?  Check out The Pajama Mama Blog here!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Kendall's intervention-free birthing

Kendall from Great Proofreading is joining us again to share her birth story today, and to give helpful tips from her perspective to birthing without interventions.  Thank you Kendall!

My name is Kendall Hoover and I am the Senior Copy Editor at Great Marks Proofreading Consultants. I have one son, one cat, and one soldier for a husband. I like Greek food, biking, organic farming, and buying vintage Star Wars t-shirts for my son. I blog at “Backspace to Bookbinding”.

A friend of mine asked me once about intervention-free childbirth. She was interested in pursuing it, but everyone kept telling her that she was na├»ve and would be yelling for an epidural. She wanted to know how childbirth without interventions was for me, whether I would do it again, what was helpful, and what was distracting.  After telling her that I received the same comments from those around me, and that I used them to fuel my resolve for an intervention-free childbirth, I answered her questions in this way:

First, I would not have been able to do it if my husband and my doula did not have as much information about alternative pain relief and the reasons to not get an epidural as I did. My husband and I both
read “The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth” (at least, he did the first half or so), and we both attended something like 30 hours of childbirth classes together. So, I would definitely do as much as possible to have your husband involved with gathering information and planning. Talk about what you want to
do in early labor, active labor, how you want to push, what role you'll need him to play, a secret sign for when you want the doctor gone, etc.


...It's doable.

When you get to the point where you seriously feel like you CAN NOT DO IT ANY MORE -- you're almost there, so don't give up. We learned this in our childbirth classes and it was true for both a friend of mine and I (we were a matter of a couple of hours away when we got to that point -- both of us started pushing very soon after that). I will do it again next time (or at least attempt it again), however, right afterwards I felt like "WE ARE HAVING NO MORE KIDS!", then about a month later I felt like "IF WE HAVE KIDS IT WILL BE A LONG WAY OFF!" then at two months or so I felt like "IF WE HAVE KIDS I AM GETTING AN EPIDURAL!" and now I really want to get pregnant again and do it naturally.  So, my point is, I'm not going to say it was easy, but I got over it. 


Labor pain was different than any pain I'd felt before, not just because it was more painful, but
because it is a different kind of pain. It's not like you stubbed your toe and now you hurt, or you broke your
arm -- some kind of accident. Labor pain is supposed to be there and it has a purpose.  This was what I kept thinking about. I used that as my mantra during labor. A friend's mantra was that she and her daughter were in it together -- it's not easy for the baby either, but your bodies work together to make it happen.

I knew that the average birth is 16 hours, so I didn't expect the baby to just pop out. I was 17 hours. My friend was 12. However, I ignored the clock for a long time until my doctor said "we're going to have this baby before 7" (which I did not). So, ideally no one mentions time. Consider talking to your doctor about this beforehand. I walked around for the first 6 hours or so, and I think this helped a lot as well.
"The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" helped me immensely. “Ina May's Guide to Childbirth” is also good, but mostly full of anecdotes. The friend I mentioned above said she liked Ina May's guide a lot, though. I learned from “Thinking Woman’s Guide” that if you're going intervention-free, go all the way. Don't try to induce and then not get an epidural.


We were trying to use a tub for pain relief but the water at the hospital doesn't get very warm because they have a limit on it, and the tub leaked. Next time I will probably just use the shower (at least if we're at the same hospital). The luke-warm water just made everything worse.  
When I was pushing, there
were all these beeps. I have no idea where they were coming from -- the incubator, the doctor's beeper, lights, etc. Ohmygosh, it was so distracting. My husband and I talked about it and next time he will be in charge of telling them to turn off whatever they can. This also might be better in a birth center than a hospital.

Ultimately, the thing that helped the most was gaining as much information as possible about intervention-free childbirth, so that I didn’t have to rely on the mistaken social pressures for induction and epidurals. The
naysayers didn’t say much about intervention-free childbirth after I’d done it!

Did you find anything to be particularly helpful or distracting during your birthing time?

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Little man meets little lady photo dump :)

Bear with me, as this post is a little delayed and I'm just catching up!

On the first day of little lady's life, my parents brought little man into the hospital to meet his sister.  

Thankfully, it went really well.  

Little man really wanted to hold her, to be close to me for a little bit, and then to identify her eyes, ears, nose, etc. by pointing.  :)  It was pretty cute!  Here are some of the pictures from that meeting:

Are we sure this is okay, Dad?  

Looking at how teeny baby sister is!

This one warms my heart a little bit

Giving kisses for the first time

Yep, there is her mouth!

And we definitely had to check out if she had hair under that cap!
 I just have so much love for these littles.  
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks- Cleaning Your Mattress

I'll admit it into the microphone- for years I didn't clean our mattresses.

I guess I just didn't ever think about it?

Recently, though, I started thinking about just how much time we spend sleeping at night on our mattresses, and the fact that we had never cleaned them started to gross me out a little.  Okay, I'm a germaphobe- so a lot.

But, then I started to think about how one really does clean a mattress?

It's not like you can soap it up like you're washing a car.  It's not like I can take it outside and hose it down and know it is clean afterward.  It's not even something I can spray vinegar all over like I do with everything else in our household, lol!

After searching for a while on Pinterest, I found a few sites with the suggestion of using baking soda to clean your mattress.  Apparently, the baking soda will draw out moisture and dirt from your mattress and deodorize it, similarly to why you leave an opened box of baking soda to deodorize your refrigerator.  
Since I use baking soda for everything else, I figured- why not?

Here were my steps:

1.  I sprinkled the baking soda all over the top of the mattress and walked away.

2.  A few hours later, I came back and vacuumed it up.

That's it.  Simple as that.

(You can add a few drops of essential oils in your preferred scent to your baking soda to leave your mattress smelling of the essential oil.  I don't typically use this step, but you can if you'd like!)

Initially, the first time we tried this, I tried it out on our guest bed.  I cleaned the mattress a few days before my parents were to come visit.  When they woke up the first morning, after sleeping on the newly cleaned bed, I asked them if they noticed anything different.  A different smell, residual powder that I may not have vacuumed all the way, etc.  They hadn't noticed a thing to be different.

To me- that was an excellent indicator.  If they couldn't tell that I had done it- and the baking soda had done it's job like it always does on my many other cleaning projects- I'd consider it a success.

How do you clean your mattress?  Would you ever try this method?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spread the word to end the word- a guest post

This guest post comes to us by my friend incredible mama friend who goes by the pen name of Posy.  She is the mother of a beautiful, perfect little girl who was born just a little differently abled.  I'm really thankful that she decided to share this post because I feel like she took some of the words straight out of my mouth as a speech therapist.  

Respect others, respect yourself.  Please read on to hear her important message.

 We hear it so frequently that it’s not even noticeable. 

“That’s so retarded,” 

“That jerk in front of me is driving like a retard,” 

“Oh my God, are you retarded?!” 

Movies, books, T.V. shows all use it frequently as a go-to insult/comment.

To those of us who love someone with intellectual disabilities, physical differences, or any sort of special needs, it’s a punch to the head and gut, and it happens repeatedly every day.

Celebrities use it, writers use it, political commentators use it (yeah, I’m staring hard at you, Ann Coulter). Clinically speaking, “mentally retarded”, “retard” and “retarded” have all been eliminated from the vernacular describing special needs. Those with diminished mental capacity are called “intellectually disabled.” I highly doubt that the writers of Tropic Thunder would have used that.

I open my Facebook feed and every day at least one person uses the “r-word.” No one bats an eye. And I die a little inside. If I used the “N-word” willy-nilly there would be a mob after me. The difference is that the group being targeted by the former slur sometimes can’t stand up for themselves. Those of us who love them must be their defenders.

This has gone on long enough. Finally, people are starting to push for change - is an organization working to get people to pledge to never use the r-word again. They have set up Twitter alerts for when people use “retard” or any of its derivatives. They then politely send a private message asking the original commenter to cease the use of the word.

Unfortunately, more often than not this isn’t received well. A lot of “this is my first amendment right” gets thrown around.  Or “well I don’t mean actual people with special needs.” Whether or not these people are actively going after the special needs community, they are still throwing punches to the unguarded and, yes, they really do mean people with special needs.

Throwing around the r-word is taking away dignity, individuality, and self-respect for those with special needs. Even the federal government has removed the r-word from all health, education and labor policies.
The only r-word that should be used in a case like this is “respect.” These people deserve respect. Their families deserve respect. The people who tirelessly work with them to improve their life outcomes deserve respect.

Use of the r-word is hate speech. It’s just as insulting and harmful as going after religions, races, or cultures. It’s time to take the pledge. It’s time to show all people respect.

It’s time to Spread the Word to End the Word.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Breast Pump Coverage Under Obamacare Update

This is a pretty long post chronicling my journey into obtaining a breast pump from my insurance company, but there are quite a few links to help you in your trek towards a pump rental or purchase throughout the post.  I hope this helps!

You all may remember that I posted a few months ago regarding the new coverage of breast pumps and how this may affect your rental or purchase of a pump and supplies after having a baby.  (If you don't, you can find the post here!)

As I neared closer and closer to my due date for little lady, I began to contact my insurance company to figure out specifics of what I had to do to obtain my pump.  Since the journey toward a pump did not move as quickly or as easily as I'd expected, I wanted to post an update of how everything went to help you ladies out who may be climbing the same hill.

I began by calling my insurance company in September (or early October?) to find out what exactly I needed to do.  I was given the same information from my previous post, in addition to some new information.  The representative gave me numbers of five home health companies that were in-network and therefore covered providers.  This did include both home care companies/medical equipment companies and one local women's boutique connected to a hospital system in my area.  

However, the next piece of information I was given from my insurance was just which pumps they would cover.  Here are the following pumps I was told were covered rentals:

From Medela:
Harmony manual, Pump in Style, Mini Electric Plus, Swing

From Avent:
Isis On the Go

From Ameda:
One Hand, Purely Yours

From Evenflo:
Comfort Ease, Comfort Select Electric

From Bailey's:
Nurture Three

If you take a look through that list, all of the pumps except for the Ameda Purely Yours and the Bailey's Nurture III, are single user pumps.  A single user pump is an "open system" where milk is able to flow back into the pump from your tubing.  Being a second time mom with a little more pumping know-how, due to infection and just reasons of general hygiene and precaution, I would not purchase an open system if left to my own devices.  And you cannot rent any pump that is not a closed system.  So, that left me two pumps (Bailey's Nurture III and Ameda's Purely Yours) on their list that are closed systems and may actually be legal to rent.

My next step was calling all of the in-network providers to see where I could rent the pump.  When I called, though, only one of the five companies was either a) still in business, b) still providing durable medical equipment rentals, or c) had possession of breast pumps to actually rent.  This ended up being the women's boutique at a nearby hospital.  

So, one out of five of the providers could actually rent me A pump.  We'll get to that next.
When I talked with several representatives from the hospital, as they had to transfer me to the lactation consultant and then finally to their pump rental program coordinator, I was able to ascertain that they only rent Medela pumps.  

If you notice from my list above, there were no pumps on my list of 'approved devices' that were multi-user or closed systems, and therefore the hospital would not rent any of the pumps my insurance company had listed.  (For good reason!)

I was told that I'd need to contact my insurance company again.    

When I contacted my insurance again, I went through several different representatives, each time asking to speak to their manager, as they couldn't give me any answers or information beyond what the first representative had given me.  Finally I reached a manager who was able to take some information from me, such as what I'd been told so far as well as the telephone numbers of the DME company, etc.  I believe his name was Jerry.  Jerry told me that he'd make a few calls and get back to me within a week.  This was right around the Thanksgiving holiday.  

When two weeks passed without a returned phone call, I called insurance Jerry again.  When he answered, he reported that at that time he hadn't found any further information, but to give him a few days and he'd call back again.  

As this was now mid-December, I was slightly worried that I wouldn't be able to get a pump in early January like I needed.  My plan reset on January 1, which put the new laws into effect and enabled me to get a new pump.  It was also imperative that I have the pump early January so that I may start expressing milk to have for the biopsy I'll have in the end of January.  I gave Jerry a week, and he called back in exactly 7 days, I believe.

To be totally honest, I was a little shocked at his reply.  I was expecting more difficulty, more red tape, and still no word on the pump.  

What he said, however, was the opposite of that.

Because my insurance (Blue Cross & Blue Shield) hadn't quite figured out their procedure for the rentals yet, Jerry told me that they were just going to buy me a pump.  The pump had to be purchased through the DME provider I'd spoken with previously, which was a hospital with a women's boutique, and I'd have to pay out of pocket and then submit for reimbursement, but it would be covered at 100%.  Jerry assured me that if I filled out the proper forms and submitted a receipt (itemized, with the hospital boutique's tax ID and the procedure code listed- both of which the boutique was easily able to add) that he would make sure it was covered at 100%.  

Going from being told that I'd have to rent a non-rentable pump to being told I could purchase one of my choice?  Major win for this mama.  

I'd prepared quite a bit for this phone call, and was braced for it to not go very well.  I'd spoken with Ashley at, as well as Cheryl from the US Breastfeeding Committee, and both of which were extremely helpful.  They provided me with several links to support my discussions with insurance, which I'll share below:
Thankfully, I never had to use this information- as my insurance company decided to cover the pump in full.  While I'd loved to have the option of a closed system this time around, the DME provider near me only sold Medela pumps.  So, my lovely new pump is the Medela Freestyle, shown below.

To obtain the pump and have it covered, I had to make a TON of phone calls, really know my information, and be an advocate for myself.  Insurance companies are slowly trying to figure out what all of the new healthcare changes mean, and how they are going to cover those changes.  There is definitely going to be a period of adjustment.  During that time, if you're a nursing mama trying to obtain a breastpump, I'd recommend the following:

- Call early, and call often.  If you know you're going to need a pump or are still pregnant, call as soon as you can to start the process.

- Know what is covered.  Again my post here gives you all of what my insurance said was covered- including the codes to use.

- Be persistent.  No one else is going to be an advocate for you or your care.

- And finally, know your options if things don't progress toward obtaining a pump.  The links from Ashley & Cheryl above are extremely helpful in knowing your rights if your insurance company does not want to comply.

Since we're so early in the new healthcare coverage of breast pumps, supplies, and care- how have you fared in obtaining a pump from your insurance company?  What have your experiences been?  Anything you think would be helpful to add to this post?

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

All aboard the postpartum emotional crazy train?

There are a certain amount of emotions to be expected with any postpartum new mother, whether it is your first or your last baby- or any in between.  If you think about it, there are some huge hormonal changes going on immediately after you have a baby.  You are adjusting to the rapid, massive changes occurring in your own body including your ladybits shrinking back to a less gargantuan size, your milk supply coming in to feed your baby, and your love hormones spiking off the chart all at one time, plus many more changes.

And that's not even fully discussing that you're getting maybe 2 or 3 possibilities of one or two hours of sleep per night initially, if that in some cases.  Which- I don't know about you- but for me, would induce a few emotions by itself!

Having a few extra tears or outbursts can be a completely normal thing.

With little man, I remember being tired and teary a few times, but not having any major emotional breakdowns.  This time around?  Completely opposite.

DH has been so supportive in helping me nap throughout the day and have breaks right now, as well as little lady has taken a few longer stretches of sleep- one even that was over 6 hours before I woke her.  So, I actually feel much more rested this time around and have been adjusting really well to the decreased amount of sleep. 

But, my goodness, the emotions.

It seems like the past few days, as little lady has just about turned the corner to being one week old, I am a ball of tears.  It mainly has to do with little man.  I can't seem to even look at him sometimes without the tears welling up in the back of my eyes. 

When I look at little man, I see a huge toddler, whereas a week ago, he was still just a baby to me.  His hands look and feel HUGE compared to little lady's delicate, teeny fingers.  His body is, at 30 lbs, massive- compared to her 6 lb self.  When I look at him, I realize just how much he is not a baby.  And it only makes me think about how quickly the time has passed since he was.

Then I look back to little lady.  And I realize just how quickly the time is going to pass with her as well.  How quickly she is going to grow and change. 

And, how in a few years down the line, I'm hopefully going to be cuddling a new baby and wondering where all the time has gone with my first two children.

DH has been trying to be supportive of my emotions, but there are many times where I can't blame him for feeling confused or unsure of how to react.  We can simply be sitting and eating dinner and all of a sudden I'll be bawling after looking at little man's sweet face.  DH sometimes has no clue what even set me off, and- as a man, and an engineer- that means he doesn't know what to do to fix it.

To be honest- when the tears begin- as of right now neither do I.

I know that the best solution is going to be time at this point.  I need a few more weeks to level out and get my hormones back into check.  I need a few more weeks of having patience with myself and my emotions, being able to feel all of those feelings and give them understanding and space.  I'm not trying to pretend I'm not having these feelings, and I'm realizing that they are completely and utterly normal, and that I am normal to feel this way at this point.

The upside of all of these feelings is that both little man and little lady have absolutely been showered with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and snuggles in the past week, which makes both me and them feel more comfortable, even if they are accompanied by a few misty eyed (or sobbing- who am I kidding?) moments. 

Thankfully, I feel comfortable and confident in myself, my family, my support system, and my body, and we'll get through this in one piece.

Did you experience a rush of emotions during the postpartum period?  How did your feelings present?  How did you get through?

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks- Washcloth Organization

This is a REALLY simple tip I find to be excessively helpful in our home:

Color coordinate your washcloths.  

This sounds really silly and over the top, but I promise, it works extremely well!  We use washcloths for just about everything in this house, as we don't typically use a lot of paper products.  A few of the things we use washcloths for are: cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the floors, wiping down messy baby faces, dusting, and at times, even as a napkin during a meal.  

Now, I don't know about you, but no matter how clean it gets in the washing machine, I don't want to use the same washcloth to wipe my child's face that I used to clean our toilets last week.  So, I color coordinate.

Typically, I try to keep all the white washcloths for less offensive tasks.  That includes wiping little man's face and hands, cleaning crumbs off the counter tops, etc.  Another color I use for a specific task is that any yellow or brown washcloths are bathroom washcloths.  That is, um, kind of gross, I know, but it is a really easy way to remember what color is which.  And, it's a really easy way for DH to remember as well, since he is a great husband and does almost as many chores as I do.

When you're trying to initially set up your washcloths for the house, one easy way to remember is to leave the washing instruction tag on the washcloth, but draw over the text or pictures with your own picture, such as a drawing a toilet on the tag with permanent marker.  It's a visual to remind you what that color washcloth actually does.  

Again, this may be really over-the-top, but I find it works well for our family!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baby picture comparison!

Since little lady was born- I've thought she has looked very similarly to little man.

Definitely- she has more hair. But other than that, many of her features very closely mimic little man in his early days.

In the picture below, little lady is on the left and little man is on the right.

What do you think?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Security blankets, and owls, and ducks.

Little man officially has a security blanket.

And it's adorable.

I know that he is extremely regimented and orderly like I am, in many ways, but when he goes down for a nap or for bedtime, he HAS to have a certain number of items with him.  

At this time, that list includes his: Owl, Duck, Monkey Taggie Blanket, and Elmo Doll.

When he gets ready for a nap or bed, each of those items has to be placed in his bed surrounding him.  I'm not sure if it's the transition into the toddler bed that we recently did- if he needs to feel that security from those items in a bigger, non-enclosed space?  Or, maybe- he's just learning to love those objects and wants them around.

Either way, he wants those stuffed items in bed with him, then if the fan isn't already on, he'll either ask us or remind us to turn it on before we leave.  (I've heard a few times on my way out of the room a teeny voice peeping out, "Fan on, mama?" before I leave.  It is too cute!)

Most days, when he wakes in the morning, he also wants to take one of these items (not the fan, obviously!) down to the kitchen to sit with him during breakfast.  If it is his monkey blanket, he'll let that hang on the back of his chair, so long as it is near.  If it is his owl, duck, or Elmo- he'll typically either sit them right across from him in the center of the table or he'll actually sit them in the chair next to his little body.  

After breakfast, he will often continue to play with his loved item.  The other day we spent a considerable amount of time changing Elmo's prefold diaper, snapping him into the swing, and rocking him to sleep for "Elmo's nap."

I know many parents warn of having to buy multiples of stuffed loveys, but at this point, he seems happy with the wide variety of security items he has.  And- to me- it is absolutely adorable that he loves these items that much.  

Does your child have or has your child had a security blanket or item?  What was it?

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kendall's naturally unplanned labor & delivery- a guest post!

Hey all!  While I'm off snuggling with new baby, I have a few guest posts lined up to keep you entertained!  The next guest post comes from Kendall, my amazing friend and blog editor!

My name is Kendall Hoover and I am the Senior Copy Editor at 
Great Marks Proofreading Consultants. I have one son, one cat, and one soldier for a husband. I like Greek food, biking, organic farming, and buying vintage Star Wars t-shirts for my son. I blog at “Backspace to Bookbinding”.

Would you be surprised if I told you that the birth of my first son didn’t go exactly as I’d planned it? 

I didn’t think so.

I went into labor after a two hour drive home from my parents’ home on Christmas Day. Because we’re on military insurance, I would have to drive the two hours back down toward my parents to go to the hospital at which my OB delivers. 

When I realized I was having contractions, my husband parked me on the couch with a timer while he re-packed our bags and re-set the house, took care of the cat, etc. Awhile later, he came down to check on me. When he asked me how far apart my contractions were, I realized I’d had contractions at 3 minutes apart for the last 20 minutes. My husband’s reaction was less than calm, to say the least. We HOPPED in the car, and took off for the two hour drive back down to Indianapolis. Unfortunately, as we pulled out of the driveway, it started to snow, so it ended up taking us considerably longer to make it to the hospital.

Make it, we did, however. After about 16 hours of labor (with no epidural), our son was born. All the “natural” childbirth books told me that since I didn’t have an epidural, I would have a rush of adrenaline and happiness after the birth.

Didn’t happen.

What did happen was that I didn’t feel bonded, I had a hard time nursing, and it didn’t take long for our son to develop severe jaundice, for which he ended up in NICU. After a week in NICU, we were able to go home for New Years Day, but within 12 hours of being home, I was being rushed back to Indianapolis for suspected emergency gallbladder surgery. 

These things are the lows.

The highs were really unexpected. I really had no idea what a life saver lactation consultants would be. We ended up having one in the room during every feeding while we were in NICU. I swear to you, every time one of those ladies walked in the room, the “Hallelujah” chorus played. I truly felt like every time they visited, my life got a little easier. They had a solution for every problem Harrison’s doctors threw at us. Although Harrison ended up having one or two bottles of formula in a 12 hour shift when there was no lactation consultant, we otherwise used SNS, nipple shields, nipple everter’s, and pretty much every assistive breastfeeding device you can name. Our lactation consultants showed us how to use them efficiently over that week.

After I’d gone home, I interacted with the hospital’s lactation consultants, La Leche League, and our doula, and eventually weaned Harrison and I off of every assistive device we had used. We battled mastitis several times. We discovered that Harrison had severe food allergies. La Leche league and our hospital’s lactation consultants advised us and supported us. We were never charged for anything. I deeply bonded with my son at around 2 months. He grew out of his allergies. 

He breastfed at least once a day for 16 months, and was 17 months when he breastfed for the last time. Though it didn’t exactly begin the way I expected, breastfeeding became simple, sweet, and as natural as I'd imagined.

How did your labor and delivery go differently than planned?

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks!

I've been posting more lately on the blog about pregnancy and parenting, which I LOVE being able to talk about.  However, I do want to get back to my roots a little bit and discuss another topic near and dear to my heart: organization and planned living tips.

Starting next week after new baby has been born, I will be trying (*and I highlight the word trying because we all know how easy it is to accomplish much with a newborn at home!) to post once per week on Thursdays with "The Naptown Organizer's Tips & Tricks" post series.  

This will highlight simple ideas that help keep our home and lives clean, organized, and put-together.  The tips are just simple ideas that have helped make some of our daily tasks a bit easier and less stressful.

Have an idea or question that you'd like to see addressed in a TNO's Tips & Tricks feature post?  

Email me at and I'll try to come up with a solution for you!  I'll also feature reader tips and tricks if my readers would love to send in submissions or suggestions!

Thank you again for following, and I hope you all love the new Tips & Tricks that are coming your way!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Postpartum nutrition tips!

Hey all!  Today's guest post comes to you from The Pajama Mama, my awesome blogger friend!  Today she wanted to share some postpartum nutrition tips to keep us mamas healthy after we have a baby! 

I'd like to start off by saying that I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. This article is not intended as medical advice, just some notes from my personal experience. Please contact your healthcare provider with specific questions or issues.

With that out of the way, let's get down to business. You just had a baby or two. You are healing and exhausted, extremely hormonal, and possibly even queasy. Eating has fallen surprisingly low on your to-do list & cooking even lower. I'm here to tell you that, as hard as it may be at the moment, now is not the time to let your nutrition slip. You have to prioritize it no matter how difficult it is, especially if you are breastfeeding. Healthy, happy babies don't happen without healthy, happy mamas!

I know this is no easy task, that's why I've gathered some valuable tips to help you meet your calorie requirement and nutrition goals.
  • WATER! This is by far the hardest for me, but it is maybe the most important. One of the best things you can do for your milk supply and general well-being is to stay hydrated. Listen to your body and drink as much water as it takes to satisfy your thirst. The best way to do that is to keep water handy. When you have visitors come by to meet the baby and ask if you need anything, take them up on it by having them pour you a tall glass of cold water. Keep a carafe and a glass on the table next to where you nurse your baby. Be sure to consume enough calories, because a fifth of your fluid intake will come from your food.
  • Vitamins -- Continue to take your prenatal vitamins. Though some people think that you can get all your required nutrients from the food you eat, as an experienced nursing mom, I can tell you that this is not always going to happen, particularly in the beginning. I look at vitamin supplements as an insurance policy for both me and my baby.
  • Freezer cooking -- If you haven't had your baby yet, and you have the time and energy to devote to it, I highly recommend freezer cooking. Build up the stash of completed meals in your freezer so that after your baby comes, you can mostly just thaw and bake or thaw and toss into a crock pot. That's about all the energy I had to give to cooking after Mango was born. You can go whole-hog and do a full day of cooking like Once a Month Mom, or if you're not up to that, just double your daily recipes and freeze the extra portions. If friends want to know what they can do, let them know they can bring a frozen dish, or even have a "stock the freezer/pantry" shower!
  • Breakfast -- It can get lost in the shuffle sometimes, but breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. After a long night of comforting, feeding, changing, burping, rocking, and soothing baby (and occasionally sleeping), you need a nutritious breakfast to fuel you up to have the energy to do it again all day long. It's so easy to forget to buy breakfast foods, and while having family and friends bring you dinner is a god-send, it can be just as awesome to get a muffin basket delivery or have someone bring a casserole that can be popped in the oven first thing. It doesn't have to be fancy - I'm a big fan of 5-minute steel cut oats and protein-rich Greek yogurt. Muffins and pancakes are great ways to get nutrient-rich food in first thing by adding fruit or ground chia.
  • Snacks -- If you are anything like I was when I was a new mom, you might actually be feeling too nauseated, tired, and just plain not hungry to eat a heavy or spicy meal. That's totally fine. You can get your calories in by snacking often. I recommend keeping a bowl of nuts, dried fruit, or even peanut M&Ms (one of my lactation consultants actually told me that one) on the table near your nursing area. It can be anything that you can stomach that will help you get in a few calories and keep you from becoming too queasy. If there's protein in it, even better! For the first two weeks, I could hardly stomach anything more than graham crackers, but I made sure to always have them around.
  • Smoothies -- Smoothies are a simple, delicious, convenient way to jam pack your diet with fruits and veggies, even if your stomach is a little unsettled. Whether you make them ahead of time and freeze them in individual servings or have your partner blend up a fresh one, include as many varieties as you can. Toss in some Greek yogurt, protein powder or nut milk to really boost the protein content. There is probably no better way to add a large variety of nutrient-rich foods to your daily intake.

  • Help -- Last but certainly not least, get help if you are having issues with your nutrition. It could mean asking your partner to step in while you eat a meal with two hands. It could mean calling your midwife or doctor for medical advice. It could mean getting in touch with your lactation consultant for ideas, or calling your other friends who are mothers to tell you it's going to be okay. Whatever help you need, don't be afraid to seek it out and ask for it directly.
And readers, what tips would you give? How did you meet your nutritional requirements when you were a new mom?

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