December 11, 2015

Why We Won't Do Santa

We are still trying to conceive, but with the holidays coming up, I thought this would be an appropriate time to write this post.

We won't be doing Santa Claus when we have kids, and here is why:

When I was little, my parents would deny that he wasn't real, even when I began to question it. This hurt and obviously had a lasting impression on me. To me, Santa is just a lie. There was no magic or excitement. He never brought what I asked for, which as a kid, your kind of told he would, but then he doesn't because well your parents don't want you to have a cat, and so they pretend Santa has "run out" or "knows your mom has allergies," or whatever excuse "he" can come up to write you each year. It kind of makes you hate "Santa" and well, I think I would have been better off not believing such a person existed.

I have no problem with fictional Santa. I intend to share the movies and the stories, but my problem is with how personified he is. You can write letters to "Santa," you can sit on "Santa's" lap (which I will never understand why parents force their poor babies to do this when they are obviously terrified of the strange man!), you can see and talk to "Santa", etc. It's like our whole society revolves around this lie that Santa is real and somehow this is okay? To me this lie is harmful.
"I'm simply saying that we should treat the Santa Claus story just like we treat all other stories—as a story. To do otherwise would be to cruelly take advantage of the child's naïveté and possibly hinder his/her intellectual development." (source)
I'm sure we will get a lot of backlash from our families, claiming we are robbing our children of their childhood or that our children will ruin it for everyone, but those are really lame excuses to make our kids believe Santa is real.

If your kid needs Santa to have a happy childhood, then there is something wrong with their childhood. Our kids will know of Santa, he will be a fun story, so it's not like we are removing him entirely from the picture. We just aren't going to lie and say he is a real man that can travel the world in one night to deliver toys to thousands of girls and boys.

Our kids will have trips to the park, toys to play with, books to read, etc. You don't need Santa to have a good childhood. Having Santa was actually a bad experience for me, so that's proof that Santa doesn't always make for a happy childhood. What made my childhood happy was having a big backyard to play in, walks to the creek, playing with kittens at Grandma's, etc. I did not need Santa and I am sure my kids won't either.

As for the fear of my kids telling everyone Santa isn't real, well that could be any kid! I remember being told Santa wasn't real in elementary school. Some kids agreed, but others were not ready to accept the truth. It's like telling your kid there is no such thing as monsters, but yet they still think there is one under the bed, even though you have told them they don't exist for the 100th time. They will believe what they want to believe until they are ready to let it go.

And it is not like we're the only family that won't have Santa. America is a melting pot, with many religions and cultures, and many of them don't celebrate Christmas or have Santa. It is not the end of the world if we choose to take Santa out of Christmas.

Besides, Christmas isn't about Santa or presents (at least for us). Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. It is about God giving us his only child, and yes I know it's not accurate. Jesus was probably born in the summer; Christmas has pagan roots, but let's just let that go for now. Christians have decided to celebrate his birth on Christmas and so that's when we celebrate.

So how do we plan to celebrate Christmas? Well, I make gingerbread men every year, and I would like to continue that with my kids. We plan to have a real tree, something we don't do now since we are always going to visit others, but with a baby, we're staying put so others will have to come to us for a change!

There will be stockings and presents. I plan on coming up with some kind of present rule, like 1 book, 1 thing to wear and 1 want, then put another surprise in the stocking like a movie or smaller toy, something that won't melt since we do use our fireplace.

I would like to teach them to give as well, so have them take an old toy or two that they don't play with anymore and donate it. And of course watching the Christmas classics as a family, those are always fun. So you see, we don't need Santa. There are many ways to celebrate Christmas.

There are many other good reasons to not do Santa, but the ones I mentioned are more important to us. If you need more convincing, need arguments to defend your choice, or are undecided about Santa, you can read these articles for more reasons to skip Santa Claus:


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pexels.

November 20, 2015

Why I Hate SeaWorld

I have been to Sea World twice in my life. Once when I was little and later on in High School on a band trip. I admit I had fun and loved being able to see the dolphins and Orcas. I also enjoyed the shows! However, I was also, young, naive, uneducated, and manipulated.

I won’t go into great detail about how bad Sea World is, you can always watch the documentary: Blackfish (It is available on Netflix!) or read John Hargrove’s Book: Beneath the Surface (he is a former Seal World trainer who had the courage to speak out). There is also a Ted Ex talk that you can watch by Dr. Naomi A. Rose (a Marine Mammal Scientist ) titled: Let’s Throw Shamu a Retirement Party (It’s on Youtube). And there are many, many articles you can find on Google and read them. (You can also check out an older post of mine here)

Now many like to say who cares about Sea World when there are many dolphins and whales, as well as many other species in the wild that need help. This is true. We are hurting our oceans and need to do more to protect these species (one way you can help is by donating to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation). But that DOES NOT mean the lives in Sea World do not matter. EVERY LIFE MATTERS! To say one is more important that the other is just wrong. Just because there are more Orcas in the wild, doesn’t mean the ones in Sea World don’t matter. They are just as important.

The Orcas in Sea World are not okay. They do not have enough space, nothing can compare to the size of the ocean. They are very family oriented, each pod has it’s own language and culture. There are Hybrid Orcas in Sea World that would NEVER exist in the wild because the two pods would have never met or mated with one another! Incest would never occur in the wild and Orcas at Sea World are forced to breed when they are too young (often at 2 or 3 years, in the wild, it wouldn’t be until they are 12 or 13)! The Orcas in Sea World are so mixed, many can’t even communicate with each other because they are from two different worlds!

How would you feel if someone took your child from you, locked them a cage, forced to do magic tricks for the rest of their life or they won’t be fed? You probably would be outraged. This is also how Orcas feel. Many mothers will follow the boats of their captive young, both crying out to one another until eventually , he mother has to give up. Orca mothers and calves separated in captivity often cry for weeks after their baby is taken from them and shipped away to some other theme park.

Now imagine being that child, being taken from your mother, being forced to perform for a bunch of people because they’ll only feed you if you do what you are told. You have to do that four times a day for the rest of your life. You are caged with someone that you don’t know and who doesn’t speak your language. You’d feel pretty much alone. It doesn’t matter if these Orcas have other Orcas around, they are still alone because that other Orca is not one of them. It would be like if you took an English speaking person and put them in a room full of only Japanese, Spanish, French, etc speakers. Don’t matter if there are other people there, they won’t know what is going on, and will feel pretty much alone.

Knowing what I know now I will NEVER take any of my future kids, grand-kids (hopefully by then there won’t be Orcas in Sea World, and hopefully no dolphins either!), anyone to Sea World. I will never go again. I won’t let them grow up with the lies, and so they may never see an Orca in their life? So what? I’ve never seen a Blue Whale, Great White Shark, Giant Squid, Narwhal, Red-Faced Spider Monkey, Bonobos, Kagu, etc... in person and I’m alright! I’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, and I’m still okay! We have documentaries, books, the Internet for crying out loud! There is even a phone app in the works about Orcas!

We don’t and can’t see everything with our own eyes, there is just too much in the world and we live such short lives! Plus very few of us could even afford to see everything. In the end I’d rather my kids never see an Orca, than see one that is suffering due to corporate greed.  (To anyone who thinks Sea World cares about their animals, they don’t. It is a corporation based on greed, all they care about is the money.)

I am also against dolphins, belugas, and any other large family oriented sea animal being in captivity, but I believe if we win the the battle on freeing Orcas, the rest will follow shortly. (I am also against swimming with dolphin programs.)

So what do I want to have happen to the Orcas in Sea World, they obviously can’t go back to the wild, right? Well yes and no. The Orcas in Sea World should be retired to a sea pen. A sea pen is a netted off cove or bay. It will give the Orcas a natural, large environment, but they will also be protected from the wild. This would be great for both the Orcas and Sea World. Sea World can charge people to go and see the Orcas in this sea pen. The Orcas will no longer have to preform and can live the rest of their lives in a more natural, comfortable environment. It’s a win-win!

Now why am I not against zoos? Well I’m not against all animals in captivity. The problem with Orcas is that they are very family oriented and are intelligent animals, they are basically like us, they don’t belong in captivity. They have proven that they don’t do well, collapsed dorsal fins are proof of that. They have even killed people (you would go crazy too if you were kept in a bathtub), something a wild Orca has never done.

Many animals aren’t as intelligent or family oriented as dolphins/Orcas and do just fine. Also, there are some animals that we might only see in zoos one day like the Polar Bear or Panda. And there are some zoos that have/had breeding programs to help wild species increase their numbers and prevent extinction, such as California Condors and Black-Footed Ferrets.

Sea World is a corporation, a lot of Zoos are privately or publicly funded. They are not big businesses. Their money goes to the animals in their care, not to some CEO. Now not all Zoos are good, so you have to be cautious as to which ones you go to and support. Observe how much space they give their animals, how they treat their animals, check to see if they have a breeding program and what it is used for, and always do your own research before going to a zoo.

Animals can't speak our language, so it is up to us to be their voices.

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo was found on MorgueFile.

October 30, 2015

Our TTC Journey

Our TTC (trying to conceive) journey began at the end of August (2015). It is now the end of October and I am still waiting for the ovulation window, which begins in November. This would be our third attempt.

I went into TTC thinking that we would get pregnant right away. A few people we know got lucky on the first try and hey, we are young and healthy, maybe we will too, but I guess not. I should have known when my doctor said she hoped to see me again in 6-12 months (the average amount of time it takes a couple to get pregnant) that TTC is not as easy as it is made out to be. It's all about timing. 

There is only a five-day window where you can get pregnant and your chances are higher on the day before you ovulate and even higher on ovulation day. The problem is knowing when you are going to ovulate, and that involves charting (NFP or Symptothermal Method), which I have been doing for over a year now, or expensive ovulation tests, haven't used them yet and don't plan too unless nothing happens after a year, but then it might be fertility problems. 

I thought TTC would be fun, but it seems like work and a lot of waiting. Waiting two weeks for the fertile window, waiting another two weeks to take a test, and then if it's negative, the cycle of waiting starts again. 

Sex used to be spontaneous and fun. It happened when you were in the mood, but now that we are TTC, it feels like a chore. You have to do it at least every other day (every day if possible) in order to make sure you hit that ovulation window, and even if you did, it doesn't guarantee you'll conceive, and then you have to start all over.

Plus we were planning on trying for a girl, but we are slowly not being as strict as before since that can make conceiving harder, and the idea of having a boy is starting to grow on me. I still dream of having a daughter, but we can always adopt later and go the two kids route instead of one, but we'll see what happens.

It is just getting to the point where I wonder if all of this is worth it. Maybe instead of actively trying, we should just go with the flow, don't worry about the charts or the timing. Plenty of people seem to end up with unexpected pregnancies that way, but we are going to actively try this month (I would love a July baby!). Maybe third time's the charm? Wish us luck!

October 16, 2015

Why Have Children?

Why, as a society, are we expected to fall in love, get married, and then have children?

There is the obvious, biological reason: In order to keep our species going, we must reproduce.

However, the world is already overpopulated as it is (this is debatable, but I personally believe we could benefit from a population decline), so the need to reproduce isn't as strong anymore. Sure some people need to procreate in order to keep our species going, but not as many as before.

So why have kids? The decision is personal and varies for everyone. My husband and I just recently started trying to conceive. We have been married for three years now, and have been together for a total of six years. We have a home, we have enough in savings, we don't expect any big changes, so why not add a baby?

We want a child for the experience, and it would also be a strong bond between us. We created this life together and we will have to raise it and take care of it together. We also have pretty good genes, are well educated, and make a decent amount of money, so we are able to support a child. The world could also benefit from our child as they would have a good start in life and we will do our best to educate him or her. If well-educated people stop having babies, then our world will end up very much like the one in the movie, "Idiocracy."

We also understand babies are a lot of work so we plan on just having one for now. Plans may change depending on how things go, but for the moment we will stick with one unless somehow we end up with twins, triplets, etc naturally. We are prepared to handle that as well.

Having children also introduces us to a new social life. We will become part of the parent club! Most of our friends and family have already joined this club and we can't wait to join! Apparently, two cats and a dog do not count as an entry into this club, although I think they should as they can act like toddlers sometimes.

Now there was a time where I was pretty adamant about never having kids (my husband knew this when we got married, it was not a deal breaker for him), but after being married for a year to the love of my life, things began to change. I began to feel differently. Maybe the reasons I didn't want kids were wrong?

I think to claim that my childhood was unhappy is a bit harsh, but it was not a childhood I would want for my children. My parents fought a lot. It was full of yelling, spankings, threats, etc. It is hard to think of good things without remembering a bad thing that goes with it, but the thing that probably hurt me the most was that they would blame us. They would say things like "you kids make us fight" or "if it wasn't for the kids..."

So I grew up with this notion that kids cause unhappiness and broken marriages (though threats of divorce were common, it never happened, my parents are still together and seem happier now that we are out of the house). For me, that was a pretty good reason not to have kids.

Finally, a year ago, I began to do research on having children and read every book available in the library about having kids, not having kids, how to baby proof your marriage, etc. I looked at articles online and read opinions on forums. I had many talks with my husband, asking him why he would like one, if we should have one, etc.

What I discovered was having children is a lot of work and many couples go in without this realization. They aren't prepared (blame society for this, they love to sugar coat raising children). AS a result, couples blame each other; they forget about the marriage and focus on the kids, and that is a huge problem.

Your marriage should always come before your kids. Your spouse is going to be with you till death, your child will leave you and move on with their life, sometime between age 18-30 (hopefully by 30!). By putting your marriage first, you show your children what a good marriage is and hopefully, they learn from your example and go on to have great marriages as well. Your children will also give you more respect and learn that they can't pit one against the other, no "but dad said I could" or "but mom said it was okay" etc. You should also the avoid the "go ask your mom/dad" scenario as well because then the kid will come back with "mom/dad said to ask you" and that's just asking for trouble. All decisions should be made together or you should plan ahead on what is and is not okay to avoid this kind of situation.

You should also never fight in front of your children. Arguing is fine, after all, you can't sugar coat everything; they need to learn how to deal with confrontation, but yelling, screaming, hitting, crying, etc is not okay. My parents got this wrong. My husband and I luckily never fight and rarely argue. Now a baby might disrupt that, but we plan to work as a team and set time aside to talk it out. It's us against the baby and that is the way it should be.

And that leads to my next fear. That I'll end up like my parents. Everyone's worst nightmare right? I guess if you had really awesome parents, this might not apply to you, but I know plenty of people who fear they will end up just like their mom or dad. I want to do things differently, but whether or not that happens, will take a lot of willpower.

We tend to do things the way we were taught, hence why child abuse is a vicious cycle. I grew up in a time where spanking and hitting your child was okay, but I feel that is wrong. There are better ways to deal with disobedient children. It's the 21st Century after all! My husband had a better childhood, in my opinion, so I think with him on my team, we can do things the right way and avoid my parents' mistakes.

Doing the research also gave me more confidence and realized that I was only hurting myself, because the truth is I would love to have a baby with my husband, to have that special connection. I would love to experience being a parent, to watch our child grow, to experience childhood from a different point of view. And so that is how I changed my mind and why we would love to have a baby, hopefully sometime next year!


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on MorgueFile. 


Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

October 2, 2015

Pregnancy Myths Debunked - Part 2

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

4) You can't have caffeine, at all, when you are pregnant


You can have caffeine when pregnant, the question is how much?
"Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy.  The definition of moderate varies anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day." (source)
Most will say that is about two 8oz. cups of coffee, but depending where you get your coffee, that might be less. Emily Oster provided this cheat sheet in her book, Expecting Better:
  • Starbucks brewed coffee, 8oz.: 165 mg
  • McDonald's brewed coffee, 8oz.: 100mg
  • Starbucks latte, 16oz.: 150mg
  • Black tea, 8oz.: 14-61 mg, depending on the strength
  • Greent tea, 8oz.: 24-40 mg, depending on the strength
  • Coca-Cola, 12oz.: 35mg
  • Mountain Dew, 12oz.: 50mg
However, even her numbers differ from the American Pregnancy Association's site:
  • Starbucks Grande Coffee (16 oz) 400 mg
  • Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259mg
  • Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke (32 oz) 124mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola (32 oz) 92 mg
  • Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream(8 oz) 72 mg
  • Baker’s chocolate (1 oz) 26 mg
  • Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
  • Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
  • Excedrin (per capsule) 65mg
This can make it hard to track your intake and then one begins to wonder if it is necessary at all?  The reality is there is no known safe limit of caffeine. Why? Because nausea messes with the data.
"We know that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. At the same time, it also causes women to avoid coffee. But this means that women who drink a lot of coffee are probably those who are not experiencing nausea. These women are more likely to miscarry. But you might be wrong to conclude coffee causes miscarriage; it may well be that lack of nausea causes both miscarriage and coffee drinking." (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
Another problem is most studies focus on coffee consumption and not tea or cola, other sources of caffeine (though not as much). These are "less consistently linked with miscarriage" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better). So if caffeine was really the problem, wouldn't tea have the same impact as coffee? Could it just be nausea messing with the results? Or maybe there is something else in coffee that affects the fetus?

Well no one really knows, and because of that, we choose to be over cautious:
"Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee." (source)
However, Emily Oster decided for herself that the evidence wasn't enough for her to stop drinking her 3-4 cups of coffee a day and she had a healthy baby girl. You may decide differently.

For me, I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning per day and then I might have a cup of tea later in the evening, so I probably don't have to worry about going over the 200mg per day safe limit, for you, you might or you might not.

But you can have caffeine, you just might want to cut back though if you drink more than 4 cups a day (that much caffeine isn't good for you in general):
"Evidence on more than 4 cups a day is mixed; some links are seen with miscarriage, but it is possible that they are all due to the effects of nausea."  (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)

5) You can't clean the litter box if you are pregnant


Now here is one that you might not mind at all. It's a good excuse to shove the dirty job onto your husband (luckily, it's already my husband's chore, so I don't have to worry about this one). But for those like Emily Oster, whose husband refuses, or for those who don't have a partner, you can clean the litter box. There is no need to get rid of your cat!

What's the fear with cleaning the litter box? It's a parasite called toxoplasmosis (mostly found in uncooked meat, which is why you have to make sure your meat is well done when pregnant, no more medium rare steaks!). Toxoplasmosis can be found in cat feces, but your cat probably is not infected.

Your cat only gets infected if they eat something that contains toxoplasmosis, such as raw meat, so if you never feed your cat raw meat and you never let your cat outside where he or she can catch and kill birds/mice, your cat most likely does not have toxoplasmosis.

What if your cat does have toxoplasmosis? Well, you still don't have to get rid of your cat. You'll just have to take some precautions:
"Ensure the cat litter box is changed daily. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat's feces. (source)
Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards." (source)
Another precaution is to avoid getting a new kitten or cat when you are pregnant. Adopt one after you have the baby. Also avoid contact with stray cats (probably best to do in general, you have no idea what diseases they might have!). (source)

If you don't plan on having a baby anytime soon, just keep your cat an indoor cat. It is safer for them in the long run. You don't have to worry about them getting hit by cars, running away, getting diseases, etc.

Now the good news is: "Once they are exposed once, they typically acquire immunity and are not exposed again. These means you're at risk if you're exposed to a cat during the first exposure. If your cat is old, regardless of whether it lives outside, it probably has already had this." (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)

In the end, you are not likely to get toxoplasmosis from cleaning the litter box:
"... one study of pregnant women in Europe compared those with and without toxoplasmosis infection and looked to see what behaviors were more common among women who were infected. They found no evidence that cats matter: women with this infection were no more likely to have a cat at all, clean a litter box, or have a cat who hunts outside. This might be puzzling given that we know it is possible to get this disease from cat feces. However, it seems likely that most people with cats do not let them hunt outside, or, if they do, their cats have already been exposed and have immunity."
(Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
You are more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or gardening:
"... although cat litter seems to have little risk, there is significant toxoplasmosis risk from gardening. That study in Europe that was reassuring on cats did find a strong association between toxoplasmosis and working with soil. This suggests that if you are planning to garden while pregnant you should use gloves, and possibly consider a mask to avoid inhaling any particles."(Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
For those who are worried that they might have toxoplasmosis or would like to know if they had ever been exposed before getting pregnant, there is a test you can take:
"If you are planning to become pregnant, your health care provider may test you for Toxoplasma gondii. If the test is positive it means you have already been infected sometime in your life. There usually is little need to worry about passing the infection to your baby. If the test is negative, take necessary precautions to avoid infection." (source)
In conclusion, you are probably safe to clean that litter box, just wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands afterwords. You can always get your cat tested, which will probably be the only for sure way to know if you even need to worry. If your cat has never been infected, just make sure you keep him or her indoors and do not feed him or her any raw meat. You might also want to take other precautions, such as wearing gloves when cleaning the litter box, just to be safe.

Sources

Attribution: Images used in blog post photos do not belong to me and were found on MorgueFile and Canva.

September 25, 2015

Pregnancy Myths Debunked - Part 1

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.


1) You can't have alcohol if you are pregnant


Your doctor will probably tell you this and you will also find this government warning label on alcoholic beverages "According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects." (source)

However, it is false, but understandable as to why your doctor may choose to say you can't at all, rather than say you can have a little. Why is this? Well to put simply, some people are just stupid and if are told they can have a couple glasses of wine a week, somehow their brain interprets that as "go out and party hard." To avoid the stupid people from doing stupid things, your doctor and the government is going to treat you as if you are stupid too. 

I find it a bit insulting (though I know plenty of stupid people, so I understand their need to be so cautious) as I am an educated woman and understand that a glass of wine here and there is fine when pregnant, but a shot of tequila is not. Here's why:
"If you drink slowly, your liver can keep up and little acetaldehyde gets sent to the fetus. The small amount that does is processed by the baby's liver and doesn't get into the brain or other important areas. Conversely, if you drink quickly, your liver can't keep up and neither can the baby's." - Emily Oster (author of Expecting Better)
Yes, too much alcohol (heavy drinking) is bad for the baby - the studies show that, but little (light drinking), doesn't seem to have any affect:
"The bottom line is that the evidence overwhelmingly shows that light drinking is fine. In fact, there is virtually no evidence that drinking a glass of wine a day has negative impacts on pregnancy or child outcomes. Of course this is a little sensitive to timing - 7 drinks a week does not mean 7 shots of vodka in an hour on a Saturday night. Both the data and the science suggest that speed of drinking, and whether you are eating at the same time, matters. It's not that complicated, drink like a European adult, not like a fraternity brother."- Emily Oster
So why the ban on alcohol for pregnant women? Why all the judgment if she does have a glass of wine with her dinner? It is just the American culture. Just look at Europe and Australia, many of their women drink when pregnant and their babies are just fine, but they are more casual/social drinkers (having 1 glass of wine with dinner), while in America, it seems we can't just stop at one drink, so we are brainwashed into thinking even one glass of wine is going to harm our baby, but it won't, there is no good evidence that it will:
"Several foreign studies have all but endorsed low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. A much-cited 2012 study from the Danish National Birth Cohort, funded in part by the CDC, found having anywhere from 1 to 8 drinks per week at any point throughout the pregnancy had no negative neurological effect on children at age 5. Two prominent studies out of Australia and the U.K. (which tracked children's development to age 14) found that low to moderate drinking while pregnant didn't result in birth defects or long-term behavioral problems. (Heavy drinking, again, revealed harmful cognitive and developmental effects, ranging from low attention span to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.)" (source)
Emily Oster made me laugh when she wrote: "If you have too many bananas, the excess potassium can be a real problem, but no doctor is going around saying 'No amount of bananas has been proven safe!'" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better). They, however, will tell you that no amount of alcohol has been proven safe when there have not been any good studies to prove otherwise. However, no one really knows what the safe limit is, so this is what Emily recommends based on her research:
"1 to 2 drinks a week in the first trimester"
"Up to 1 drink a day in the 2nd and third trimester"
(Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
Now for a light drinker like me, one drink a day is a lot. I tend to only have maybe one glass of wine a week. I don't need alcohol by any means, but I think having none is just being over cautious and will make me feel left out during the holidays. I plan to limit my drinking just to be cautious, but I'm not going to be made to feel guilty if I decide to have a glass of wine with my turkey on Thanksgiving!

However, you might feel differently and want to avoid alcohol altogether. The decision is yours.


2) You can't have sushi if you are pregnant

"There is no conclusive evidence in published literature that eating sushi in pregnancy has an adverse effect on the pregnancy or that pregnant women have more complications after eating sushi. There are few if any published reports on an adverse association between sushi and bad pregnancy outcomes." (source)
This is just some strange American fear. Japanese women eat sushi all the time when they are pregnant and they don't seem to have a problem. So why do Americans? 

It's all about where our food comes from and if it has been handled properly. If you have eaten sushi at your favorite Japanese restaurant and have never gotten sick, you are probably fine to eat there when you are pregnant, but I would stay clear of sushi that is found in gas stations or anything being set out in the open for too long (like at a buffet).
According to PubMed and Motherisk: "...it is no longer necessary for pregnant women to avoid foods like ... sushi and sashimi. Regardless of whether seafood is raw or cooked, pregnant women should choose low mercury seafood (eg, salmon and shrimp) over higher mercury varieties (eg, fresh tuna). Pregnant women should ensure that their food is obtained from reputable establishments; stored, handled, and cooked properly; and consumed within a couple of days of purchasing." (source)
And if you want to be extra cautious, just eat cooked fish (cooking will kill bacteria) or ask if the fish had been frozen before being used in the sushi you are eating. If frozen before being used, the possible bacteria would have been killed and it should be safe to eat. (source) If making your own sushi, just freeze your fish beforehand or buy already frozen fish.

However, if you do feel sick and you had sushi, talk to your doctor right away, don't wait it out. The "bacteria in sushi are no worse when you are pregnant than when you are not," (Emily Oster - Expecting Better) but still best to see your doctor just to be cautious.

For the extra cautious, there is always vegetarian or vegetable sushi, so you don't have to worry about the fish at all and you don't have to give up sushi!


3) You can't have deli meat if you are pregnant


The fear with deli meat is the bacteria Listeria, which is known to be bad and worse if you are pregnant because it can affect the fetus. However, "the last confirmed Listeria outbreak due to deli meats was back in 2005" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better) and it was only related to turkey deli meat (source).

The problem with Listeria is it is totally random. If you go to the CDC site, you will see that the most recent outbreaks (2015), were related to soft cheeses and to Blue Bell ice cream. Outbreaks of Listeria in the past have been related to prepackaged caramel apples, cantaloupes, sprouts, and celery. None of those foods have anything to do with deli meats.
"The question is not whether Listeria infection is scary: it is. The question is what decisions you can make to avoid it. It would be difficult or impossible to avoid all foods that have caused a Listeria outbreak ... Even if you did avoid avoid all these foods, Listeria could well show up in apples next, or pork chops. There's just now way to know"  - (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
So do you need to avoid deli meat? Well, Emily chose to avoid turkey deli meat but thought it was unfair to group ham and other deli meats with turkey.
"My best estimate, based on the data, was that avoiding ham sandwiches would have lowered my risk of Listeria infection from 1 in 8.333 to 1 in 8,255... this change is really, really small. For me, it wasn't worth it." - (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
The risk of infection from avoiding deli meat is so low that Emily didn't think it was worth giving up her ham sandwiches. Here are some other sources:
"The risk, of course, lies in that pesky Listeria bacteria that may be lurking in cold cuts. But apparently, the risk is so low that it really isn't anything to be concerned about." (source)
"Approximately 2,500 individuals will become infected with Listeria annually. This means it is extremely rare." (source
In the end, you really don't have to avoid deli meats at all if you don't want to, but it's up to you to decide if it's worth the risk. Also, you can always heat up your deli meats before eating them to reduce your risk even more:
"Of course, if you're of the better-safe-than-sorry mentality but can't kick that hankering for a deli sandwich, just have them throw your sandwich into a toaster to get it steaming hot, which is supposed to reduce the risk of Listeria." (source)
Your best bet to increase your chances of avoiding Listeria is to keep an eye on the CDC website to see what the current or past outbreaks were and avoid those foods. Listeria can appear on anything, so no matter what, you could still get it, even if it wasn't one of the foods listed on the outbreak list!

Other precautions you can take to avoid Listeria is to just wash all your fruits and vegetables, wash your hands, cook all your meat till done (no pink!), and avoid food that has been left out for too long (potlucks, buffets, etc). For more tips, just head to the CDC site!

Sources


Attribution: Images used in blog post photos do not belong to me and were found on MorgueFile and Canva.

September 18, 2015

Ebates - Review

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

I have been using Ebates for just over 3 years now. This is probably the easiest site to use to earn cash back on your purchases.

They have a nifty button you can install on your browser and every time you shop on an eligible site, it will notify you that you can get "5% back," or whatever the amount the site offers, by using Ebates.

Ebates just recently updated their button, so now it lets me know that there are coupons and will automatically apply them, if they are applicable, to my purchases! I don't have to go digging around for coupon codes anymore!

I don't shop online that often, but as you can see below, I have received over $70 back in cash via Paypal (They also have a check or donate to charity option).

I have earned a total of $78.02, but have only redeemed $73.03  (screenshot taken by me)

Downsides?

They send out your cash every 3 months and you have to reach the $5.01 threshold in order to receive your payment. However, this is not a huge deal considering coupon apps like Checkout 51 and Ibotta required you to accumulate $20 before you can redeem.

Another downside is that sometimes Ebates does not register your cash back and you have to submit a form to them with the order info, so save all copies of your orders! They are pretty quick to respond though and my cash back usually shows up the next day. Also, it does take a few days before your savings show up since the store has to verify the purchase, which can lead to forgetting to check if it shows up. I swear I have forgotten to check a few times, so I probably could have earned more.

So is it worth it?

YES! It is not that time consuming once you are all set up. It is kind of like a coupon, except you don't get the discount right away. Ebates is great for anyone who loves shopping online and are big into saving every cent they can! Plus, who couldn't use a little extra cash?

Ebates also has a sign-up bonus where after you make your first $25 purchase, they will send you a $10 gift card of your choice! However, you have to make your $25 purchase within 90 days of signing up, so I recommend waiting till you plan on making a purchase and then sign up.

Join here for free and start getting cash back from online purchases!


Another site similar to Ebates is Swagbucks. At Swagbucks you earn "swagbucks," so it is a point based system and you can use those points towards gift cards. I prefer Ebates because you get cash back, which can be used anywhere, and don't have to get a gift card to select stores. However, Swagbucks does have some stores that Ebates does not, so if you are big on saving, I would recommend using both. I still use Swagbucks from time to time, but I haven't gotten much back from it. Usually, I just redeem the $5 Amazon gift cards. 

Swagbucks also offers other ways to earn points, like taking surveys or watching videos, so if you have more free time, you can earn more points faster. They also have a search engine and you get points for searching, just like Bing Rewards

September 11, 2015

Springboard America - Review

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

I have been a member of Springboard America for over 4 years now and this site is legit. It is free to sign up and you will get a survey emailed to you a few times a week. Surveys range from $.25 to as much as $5, depending on the survey and if you qualify. Some surveys just get you entered into a $750 sweepstakes, and if you do not qualify, they sometimes give you an entry as well. (Springboard America now uses points, but every point is considered 1 penny, so it is still the same system, just worded a bit differently)

You do have to reach the $50 (5,000 points) threshold before you can redeem. When I first joined it was only through Paypal, then they switched a Paylution system, but now they have updated once again and you can redeem your points through Paypal, Virtual Visa, or they now also have gift card options to stores like Amazon and Target.

I have earned over $350 just from taking surveys from Springboard America, which is pretty sweet considering most take less than 5 minutes to fill out. However, this is over a 4 year time period, so there is no way you can make a living off of doing this, but it is great for anyone who wants a little extra pocket money! (see photo below for proof!)

I have made over $350 just for taking surveys! (screenshot was taken by me)

So what are the downsides? 

You have to qualify for the survey and you only get around 2-3 a week, sometimes if you are lucky, you will get more, depending on what surveys match your profile. 

You have to reach the $50 threshold before you can withdraw, and then it might take another month before you actually get paid, but don't worry, you do get paid! It's not so bad, considering it is just extra pocket money. 

Also, sometimes surveys are limited to a certain amount, like the first hundred people who qualify and so on, so even if you get a survey in your email, by the time you get to it, it might no longer be accepting participants. 

In the grand scheme of things, the downsides aren't so bad because it is just extra cash. This is not meant to be another part-time job. I have tried other survey sites and just did not like them.

In the end, I highly recommend Springboard America to anyone who just wants some extra pocket money! You can join here!

Join Springboard America Here!

September 4, 2015

Why You Should Space Your Children At Least 2 Years Apart

A lot of people I know have or are having children close in age, too close in my opinion, some when their first born is not even a year old! That is their decision, but according to my research, it seems that this has potential problems.

First, a common reason people choose to have the second baby so soon is because they think their children will be best friends forever. This is false. Every child is different and that will determine, along with parenting style, if your children will even be friends at all.

I can personally prove that this idea is false since my sister and I are only eighteen months apart. We are not best friends. We hardly talk to each other at all except when we get together as a family (we live in different states, but even if we were in the same city, we probably wouldn't even visit each other more than once a month, if even). My sister and I were close when we were little, but we were also brutal when it came to fights. We fought for attention, which leads to a funny story of how my dad was trying to carry both of us and ended up dropping my younger sister. So it seems by having a second so soon, the oldest child loses the attention he or she needs and sees the younger child as more of an enemy, the competition, rather than a friend.

A study done by Kasey S. Buckles and Elizabeth L. Munnich of the University of Notre Dame found that a larger gap between siblings benefits the eldest child academically, without any negative effect on the youngest child. This hit me hard because I was the oldest, yet school was harder for me than my younger sister, so I believe this was due to us being so close in age (remember, there are always exceptions, I just fit the norm).
"Our 2SLS results indicate that greater spacing increases academic achievement for older siblings; one potential explanation that would generate this result is that spacing allows parents to spend more time with older children. If this is the case, we might expect the benefits of spacing to be especially strong for first-born children, who reap the benefits of a longer period as an only child when spacing is large..." (source)
As the study suggests, parents who space their children further apart are able to give more attention and time to their older child, which leads to them being better off academically.
"When spacing is under two years, it stands to reason that an older sibling loses parental time and attention. With two in diapers, parenting is more about damage control than enrichment. Indeed, Buckles found that older siblings are read to less and watch more television between the ages of 3 and 5 than kids who are spaced at least two years apart." (source)
Now my sister and I are also very different. She was into sports, was more outgoing and rebellious, while I was more responsible and kept to myself. That's another thing, you can do the best parenting there is, but your two children could still be polar opposites, so it doesn't matter how close in age they are. Also, if they are different sexes, they probably won't have that same kind of bond as two sisters or two brothers would.

Second, your body is still recovering from having your first child.
"Columbian researchers found in an analysis of 67 studies between 1966 and 2006 that pregnancy intervals shorter than 18 months (or 2 years, 3 months between full term siblings) increased the risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and small size for gestational age. Intervals longer than 59 months (or 5 years, 8 months between full term siblings) increased the odds for the same problems." (source)
"In yet another report which gathered research from over two million pregnancies in 18 different countries, it indicated that both mom and her offspring will have better health outcomes when births are spaced by 3-5 years." (source)
"If the next pregnancy occurs before mom has fully recovered and replenished her resources, unless she is now eating a sufficiently nutrient-dense diet, her body will not have enough resources left to make a baby with optimal health, bone structure, or brain capacity." (source)
So the second child might not be affected academically but could face potential health problems. One way to counter this is if the mother eats a nutrient-dense diet to rebuild her body faster for the next baby, but even so, is it worth it? Wouldn't you rather have two healthy and smart kids instead of one healthy and one smart kid?
“There are only so many hours in the day, and the longer that period can be when a child is the only child, the greater the investment they are going to receive.” (source)
That leads to my final point, why even have two? Why not have just one? Only children seem to be better off for the most part. I was pretty much an only child, my sister was more like a messy roommate. Everyone likes to think that being an only child is a negative thing and worry that if they don't have another, their child won't function right in society, well they would be wrong.
"The differences between only children and those raised with siblings tend to be positive ones. Ms. Falbo and Ms. Polit examined hundreds of studies in the 1980s and found that only children had demonstrably higher intelligence and achievement; only children have also been found to have more self-esteem. These findings, which have been confirmed repeatedly in recent years, hold true regardless of whether parents of only children stayed together and regardless of economic class." (source
"Researchers like the sociologist Judith Blake believe these qualities result from the fact that parents who have just one child are able to devote more resources — time, money and attention — to them than parents who have to divide resources among more children." (source)
Because of my experiences, I only really plan on having one and we'll see how that goes, if at any point we decide we want another, they will have at least a three-year age gap, preferably four. This way I only have to send one off to college at a time and each child will get all the attention he or she needs in his or her's younger years.

Sources


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pexels.


Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

August 28, 2015

Girl Diet Snacks

In my previous post I went over some recipes that were good if you are trying for a girl, but not everyone has time to whip something up, so I decided to post a list of snacks that are good for a girl diet. (Remember, you're trying to increase your calcium and magnesium intake, and avoid sodium and potassium!)

Most of these snacks you just buy and then you eat them, some you might have to wash first like fruits and veggies, others might have a few steps like peeling or cutting, but don't require as much work as the recipes I had shared.

Snacks

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries (Not a fan of the berry itself, but cranberry sauce is delicious, especially with turkey!)
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Oranges
  • Orange Juice
  • Oatmeal (I eat this every morning for breakfast, just buy the instant packets and all you have to do is boil some water, a tea kettle is handy for this!)
  • Dark Chocolate 
  • Nuts (I like Planters Mixed Nuts)
  • Tuna (Just eat it right out of the can, yummy!)
  • Tuna Sandwich (Drain tuna, mix with some mayo, mix in some relish and spread on your bread!)
  • Pears
  • Apples/Apple Slices (You can spread peanut butter on them or I have heard from friends that putting a slice of cheese between the apple slices is delicious. I have yet to try it myself, let me know if you do!)
  • Peanut butter and Crackers (Use salt-free crackers!)
  • Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich 
  • Rice Cakes (I love to put peanut butter on these as well!)
  • Yogurt 
  • Pumpkin Seeds 
  • Dates
  • Raisins 
  • Ants on a Log (Just spread some peanut butter on celery sticks and stick on raisins, enjoy!)
  • Prunes
  • Dried Apricots
  • Watermelon 
  • Yogurt Covered Blueberries (just dip your blueberries in plain yogurt, place on a baking sheet, stick in the freezer, sit overnight and you'll have a tasty snack! Once frozen you can remove berries from baking sheet and store in a Ziploc bag)
  • Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies (dark chocolate is even better!)
  • Milkshake
  • Ice Cream

Feel free to share your favorite girl diet snacks in the comments!


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Canva.

August 21, 2015

Girl Diet Recipes

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

In a previous post I mentioned that we were going to try to have a girl using a couple methods, you can read more about them here. One of those methods is by diet, and since it's one we are trying, I thought I'd share some recipes!

In order to increase your chances of conceiving a girl, you need to eat more calcium and magnesium-rich foods (such as dairy, leafy greens like spinach and kale, berries, rice, tofu, nuts, oranges, oatmeal, eggs, fish, etc) and avoid potassium and sodium-rich foods. 

All the recipes in this post fit that criteria and are not that hard to make in my opinion.  Feel free to share and tweak to make them your own!


Mixed Berry Smoothie

Market Pantry Frozen Mixed Berry, Old Orchard Berry Blend,
Stonyfield Greek Yogurt
  • 2-3 Cups Frozen Berries (I like to use Market Pantry Mixed Berries, but any frozen berries will do!)
  • 1 Cup Fruit Juice (I use Old Orchard Berry Blend)
  • 1 Plain Yogurt Cup (6 ounces)
Place all items in a blender and blend! Once the liquid looks smooth, pour yourself a glass and enjoy! Depending on how thick you like your smoothies will determine just how many frozen berries you use. I like mine to be creamy, but not super thick, so I usually use around 2 1/2 cups. 

Kale Chips

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • Olive Oil (Get the good organic stuff for this, not the one you use for cooking)
  • Seasoning Salt or Sea Salt
Cutting Kale - Image Source
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Remove the kale leaves from the stem (I just tear them off, but you can cut them). Wash and dry leaves, then place in a large bowl. Mix in some olive oil (start with a half tablespoon and work from there, you don't want them to be soggy, but you want each leaf to have some oil).  Next, sprinkle on the seasoning salt or sea salt. 

You can also spice it up a bit by adding chili powder, paprika, garlic powder or garlic salt, onion powder, etc. Play around with it and find your favorite flavor. (I personally like to add chili powder every now and then)

Bake until crisp, around 20-25 minutes, turn the leaves once at the halfway mark. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before digging in!

Oriental One Pot 

No Yolks Broad Egg Noodles
  • Egg Noodles (I use the No Yolk brand, and only half a bag = 6oz)
  • 32 Oz Low Sodium Chicken Broth (4 cups)
  • 2-3 Cups Water (depends on how strong a Chicken flavor you want)
  • 2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice (about 3 limes) 
  • Lee Kum Kee Minced Ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons Ginger (you can peel or chop, or you can buy jar of already minced ginger, easy to find at an Oriental Market/Store) and/or 2 Cloves Garlic - Minced (this is where having a garlic press comes in handy)
  • 1 Package of Extra Firm Tofu (drain out of water, dab with paper towel to get rid of as much water as possible, and cut into cubes)
  • 3-4 Green Onions 
  • 3-4 Baby Bok Choy (wash and pull off leaves)
  • 1 Package Imitation Crab or Lobster Meat (The kind I get comes in an 8 oz package, but you can use however much you want! You can also use shrimp instead!)
  • 1 Cup Spinach (wash and cut off stems)
Squid Brand Fish Sauce
First, you are going to pour the chicken broth and water into a stock pot or the biggest pot you have. Bring to boil, then add in the egg noodles. Add in all the liquid ingredients (sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce). Mix together, then add in the ginger and garlic. Finally, add everything else to the pot and stir. Cook until noodles are done according to the package or to your liking. Removed from heat and serve! Store leftovers in the fridge.

Most of the ingredients can be found in the Asian section at your grocery store, but I highly recommend finding your local Asian store to find what you need. They have more options and usually better prices. 

I'll admit this recipe looks a bit overwhelming, but many of the ingredients are optional. It's a one pot, which is what makes it simple, you just add whatever you want to it! You can ditch the soy sauce if you want less sodium (just because you are trying for a girl doesn't mean you have to go completely salt-free!). Lime juice is optional, you can even just cut up a lime and add a wedge to your bowl. 

Also pretty much everything after ginger/garlic on the list is optional since it won't take away from the flavor of the soup, but those items are good for the girl diet. However, you can choose not to use tofu and just use crab meat or vice verse, or maybe not use either and throw in something else like chicken or shrimp. You can also eliminate the bok choy and add more spinach, etc.

This one is pretty much a make it your own. I tend to use what I have on hand, but for posting on here, I included the best foods for conceiving a girl (which are also the foods I am mostly using now). I have added shiitake mushrooms, and I have used broccoli in the past since I didn't have spinach or bok choy on hand, so feel free to play around with this one! (that is if you aren't trying for a girl, if you are, you might want to stick to the foods listed above since they are a good source of calcium and magnesium!)

Pesto Pasta

  • 1 Box of Angel Hair Pasta (or spaghetti or bow ties or penne, etc - your favorite pasta noodle)
  • 1 Cup Spinach/Baby Spinach (or you can use kale)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves (grow your own!)
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil (again use the good organic stuff)
  • 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan  Cheese
L'Estornell Organic Extra 
Virgin Olive Oil

Cook pasta according to the box. While pasta is cooking, grab your food processor and start making the pesto. 

First, pulse the spinach and basil till all chopped up, add in pine nuts, pulse a few more times, then add in the garlic and Parmesan cheese, pulse a few more times, finally, while your food processor is running on the lowest speed, slowly and steadily pour in the olive oil. 

Once it is all mixed in, you are done! Just add the pesto to your pasta and enjoy! You can even mix in some shrimp or chicken. 


Tofu Stir Fry

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Package of Extra Firm Tofu (drain out of water, dab with paper towel to get rid of as much water as possible, and cut into cubes)
  • 3-4 Green Onions
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil or Olive Oil
  • Sesame Seeds for Topping (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Hoisin Sauce 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Low Sodium Soy Sauce 
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Minced Ginger (optional)
  • 2-3 Bok Choy (can use spinach instead)
  • Rice (I usually make 2 cups in my rice cooker and save the leftovers for later)
In a bowl stir together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and garlic. Set aside.

In a skillet or wok heat oil over medium heat. Add in tofu cubes in a single layer, cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, then turn them and brown the other side for a few more minutes.

Pour your sauce mixture over your tofu and lower the heat. Let simmer for a few minutes (if needed, add more hoisin sauce). Then add in your bok choy or spinach and cook until tender (don't let it sit too long or your veggies will shrivel!).

Serve with rice and enjoy!

Really Simple Meals

These are recipes I don't feel the need to give the ingredients or instructions since they are pretty simple and you can easily find them yourself.
  • Blueberry (or raspberry) Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
  • Grilled Turkey and Cheese Sandwich
  • Salad (great way to get your greens in - kale, spinach, etc, can add chicken or shrimp, cheese, etc!)
  • Tuna Sandwich (mix tuna with mayo, I like to also add in relish)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pixabay.