Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keep the Avocado Pits in Guacamole to keep it fresh

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A quick tip to keep your guacamole fresh before you eat it

Add some lemon and keep the avocado pit in until you are ready to serve.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Asian Chicken Salad Recipe {think cheesecake factory version}

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Asian Chicken Salad Recipe {think cheesecake factory version} a Baby Bear Hugs Recipe
Asian chicken salad ingredients

This is a family favorite recipe that my aunt invented to taste like the Chinese Chicken Salad that they have in restaurants, but since we make it is home, we can use kosher meat or make it with vegetarian chicken.  This recipe serves a small army or a family with leftovers for another meal!

Ingredients for the salad

bag of rice noodles
1 head nappa cabbage
1 bag chopped carrots
1 bunch green onions
large bunch celantro
2 cups green peas or pea pods
1/2 breast or full breast of boiled chicken per person or vegetarian chicken patty chopped in pieces

strips of nappa cabbage

Cut the nappa cabbage into small strips.  You may have to discard the outer leaves if they are badly damaged or wilted.  We also do not like to eat the bottom of the stalk where it is really thick, you can save that part to cook in a stir fry!

Cook the rice noodles according to the directions.  These noodles are fresh noodles from Trader Joes that only require a quick dunk in boiling water. 

Mix the rest of the veggies into the bowl with the cabbage leaving the chicken and the noodles to the side.

rice vinegar, peanut butter, sesame oil

Dressing Ingredients
2 cups Rice Vinegar
1 cup Peanut Butter
3/4 cup Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Sugar
Salt & Pepper

Heat up the peanut butter on the stove top until it gets thinner.  Then mix all the ingredients together in a bowl adding the peanut butter last while stirring. We like the crunchy peanut better because the peanut pieces add a nice crunch.  Taste the dressing and adjust if you think it needs anything else.

Add a small amount of the dressing to the noodles and the chicken (they soak it up).

Add some dressing to the vegetables so that they have a light covering.

Now add the Chicken and Noodles and more dressing if needed.  I like to save extra dressing for the leftovers. 


Hiring a Doula for your labor

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What is a doula?  It is from the Ancient Greek word δούλη meaning female servant or slave.  In practice, it is a non medical person that assists the mother and partner during the labor process through supporting them with assistance, encouragement and suggestions for comfort.   

There are also studies that show that having a doula also has other studied benefits for the health of the mother and baby. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience1. According to Mary Sommers (CBE, IBCLC, CPM) doulas are like weatherman, they read the signs and patterns of labor and can give guidance according to what is happening... [to help the mother through the labor] without the cascade of side effects from getting intervention.  

There is factual evidence of this in studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%2.

Plus you can ask your dula to do ANYTHING! Need some water? Want a massage or compress? Needs some to change to music?  That is what they are there for, to support in any role possible.  She is also there just as importantly for the partner to help them through the experience and give them some rest if they need to sit and relax during the labor process and ensure that there is someone with the mother at all times (if she needs).  They will also give you space if the mother feels that she needs quiet time or sleep. 

{from Left} Our Doula , Me (with Baby Bear Inside), Mr BBH walking around Evanston Hospital

For Baby Bear we had a lay doula that was a close friend.  Now for #2 we have to go a interview to find someone that we feel comfortable with to help both Mr. BBH and I through the birthing process.  

Just in case you didn't know..the doula is in addition to attending a birthing class. If you have not had a baby yet, be sure to take a class so you know what you are going to expect as your baby descends though the birth canal. 

Baby Bear during her first day

Possible Questions to Ask your Doula

What is your certification?

How many births have you attended? 

What was your own birth experience?

What is your birthing philosophy and how it involved the husband.  

What is your feeling on pain medication? What methods do you use that I can become familiar with before labor. 

How many times will we meet before the birth? (so you can talk about your birth plan)

What does your fee cover?  What is your refund policy if we don't use your services.

Make sure to get the contact information of a past client so you can see how they describe their interaction

What was your impressions after you met them?  Were they someone that you could picture taking you and your partner through the trying times of labor?

1, 2, www.americanpregnancy.org

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post- Beauty for Ashes-You're a new Mom..Now What?

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I am excited to have Becky from Tales of Beauty for Ashes as a guest post today on becoming a New Mom

guest post stamp

Becky is a new mama {welcome Gracie}; Her baby girl was born July 4th. She is alittle firecracker!  She used to be a teacher, but now will be staying home withlittle Gracie. She is also passionate about writing, relationships and religion plus she has an amazing husband at home supporting her! You will also love her post: 10 things NOT to say to a pregnant woman

So, you're a new mom…Now What?

I wish I could sit down and have a coffee date with all you new mamas out there. There are so many new and confusing things about being a new mom. Here are some things I wish someone would have told me:

1. You are going to be hormonal.That is perfectly normal and completely okay. Remember what life was like when you were a preteen and a teenager? You would be FURIOUS at your best friend for something stupid. Then an hour later, you and your BF would be laughing together and talking about boys again. Post partum hormones are like a box of chocolates, to quote Forest Gump - you never know what you're going to get.

2. It is okay to NOT know what to do. I think most moms feel this way. You have a brand new bundle that you are entirely responsible for. You need to hold their head to make sure it doesn’t fall off (okay not really, but that's how it seems at times), you need to produce enough milk to help them regain their birth weight. AND…you need to know their needs at ALL times. That last one, is not gonna happen. And it's OKAY. 

3. Let your emotions out – a nurse in the hospital did tell me this one. It was a huge lifesaver.  As women, we often feel like we need to be strong and hold our emotions in. Honestly, that is what can lead to postpartum depression. When you feel like crying – cry. It is okay, and good. I realize that for some reason my emotions/hormones peaked around dinner. My hubby and I had plenty of dinners with tears. After dinner, everything would be great! Let them out girls! 

Look at the bright side, you won't be the only one letting all your emotions out! 

4. It's okay to say no. Maybe I need to say that again. Maybe I need to READ that again. This is one of the hardest ones for me. People wanted to come over. People wanted to let their little children hold my two day old newborn. Sick children at the doctor's office wanted to come and stick their face in my little one's. I finally reached a point where I realized, I was putting what people thought of me before my own baby's safety. I realized that when my little Gracie was sitting on the lap of a two year old, and she started rolling off, that I didn't have to agree every time someone asked me. (This is one I have to keep telling myself though, the desire to people please is a strong one.)

5. Listen to your body. For a week after the birth of my baby, I felt incredible pain. I walked around and tried to do what I could, even though my body felt like all my innards were falling out of me. I told the doctor in the hospital. She said it was a hemorrhoid. I told the nurse, she said it was normal. Finally, after being home for a few days, my hubby checked me. Not everything was right. After going in and getting stitched back up again and put on meds for infection, things finally started to heal. A week late. I knew something was wrong with my body, but I trusted the doctors and nurses that it was nothing. If your body is telling you something is wrong – LISTEN TO IT!   

6. Turn the T.V. off – matter of fact, turn anything off that would distract you. These first few weeks are so precious. Your little one is going to start staring into your face, studying you. Let her see your eyes, your smile. Let her hear your voice. If you are distracted by the T.V. or other things, she and you will miss out on some incredible bonding.
becky Signature

Friday, July 27, 2012

Eat your Veggies and Take your Vitamins

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I know how hard it is to eat all your veggies and keep a healthy diet when pregnant with all of the cravings and aversions.  With Baby Bear I could not eat certain vegetables and meat, but I always took my vitamins.  Luckily with #2, I am into eating all of the veggies and fruits that I want pretty much.  

We started looking for a doula (labor coach/assistant) and during the interview she said that there is new research on how certain vitamins affect your labor and delivery experience.  With Baby Bear, my water broke and I did not have contracts, so she said to look it up.  Here is what I found

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking a daily supplementation with 100 mg Vitamin C after 20 wk of gestation effectively lessens the incidence of Premature Rupture of Membranes (the bag of waters where the baby is). The longer that you have the bag of waters, the safer it is for your unborn baby to resist infection.

References: (Casanueva, et al.) Vitamin C supplementation to prevent premature rupture of the chorioamniotic membranes: a randomized trial1,2,3 http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/4/859.abstract

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What is that little girl up to...

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I was folding the laundry today and it was really quiet in the house.  I got a little worried after a few minutes of silence because that can only mean that Baby Bear is up to something!  

To my surprise, this is what I found her doing in bed:

baby girl drawing in bed


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get an Energy Audit!

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Consumers Energy e-mailed me for a free Energy Audit and I jumped at the chance! (we were not special, they did this for all of their customer)  We wanted to know how we were doing energy usage wise and also to save money and energy on heating, cooling and water.

The auditor Sue arrived and went to work while I played with Baby Bear.  

While we played:
  •  She replaced all of the faucet nozzles with aerating heads to save on water and to keep the pressure high out of the faucet
  •  She gave us a new shower head too in Baby Bear's Shower  
  •  Wrapped 9 feet of pipes in the basement with insulation all

Best part: at no charge

The number installed was 0 in anything that we already had in our home.  You can see the things that were change and how much money we save annually and over time!

We have only lived in our house for less then one year and we have tried to make it efficient so we were excited to find out that there were other simple things that we can do to save energy and money.  Since living there we have discovered that the windows are newer but there still is a draft in the winter and our living room has a large door wall that gets hot in the summer sun and heats up the room.  We love the fact that we only turn on the AC in the hottest days (because we did install ceiling fans in all of the rooms and we get a great cross breeze). We had to purchase all of our kitchen appliances, so we chose energy star appliances to save water and energy.

The Recommendations
(We have a two year home warranty, so we don't want to replace our ancient furnace yet, but when we do she wants us to get) 
  • a furnace that is AT LEAST 90% efficient but should be more then that
  • A chimney pillow to stop the drafts that can occur inside our chimney.  It is a pillow that blows up and fits under the chimney damper and can be removed when the fireplace is in use (saves 10% energy loss)
  • More insulation in the attic (saves 13% more efficiency on heat and cooling costs)
  • Seal and insulate the rim joist in the basement with foam

Yearly Upkeep for efficiency 
  • Drain the water heater and wash out the sediment from minerals that can build up inside
  • Clean the AC compressor to make sure there is no leaves 
  • Get out furnace tuned up once a year 

Here is the graphics on how our house rates

They even rate our energy compared to other houses. 
We are sadly only slightly above average.  Most of this is due to our ancient furnace and air conditioner.  

This was only a small energy audit.  They also do one at a cost that will analyze where the drafts are and how to fix that.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Random Thoughts and Feelings about being pregnant

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{I wrote this a few months ago}
You forget what it is like being pregnant in the beginning and second guessing yourself or attributing everything to it. I get really bad breakouts. I get a boob rash. I get bloated.  I get nauseous. I can smell EVERYTHING.  Your hoo-hah sweats. It is so hard to keep it secret. I want to wear it as a badge on my chest and shout it from the rooftops!

Questions that are running through my head-
I am not sure I can do two. 
I love Baby Bear so much how can I love another just as much? 
Will she be jealous? 
How can I take the dog out to pee with two kids hanging on me? 
What is going to happen to my body? 
Should I find out the sex? 
Why should I feel guilty if I want to know the gender? Seriously why?
How can I wait to find out the gender? 
How can I wait to meet them? 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pizza By The Pond @ Love Tree Farm, Wisconsin

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When we were visiting my brother and sister-in-law, we went to the coolest place for my brother's birthday dinner/father's day.  It is called 
Pizza By The Pond in Grantsburg, WI
It is a short drive from Minneapolis and there is a beautiful nature preserve and trail system pretty close to it in Taylors Falls, MN. 

wood burning oven and fresh pizza at pizza by the pond

Mary and her son cook the pizza in a wood burning clay and brick oven using fresh ingredients and cheese that they produced on the farm.  They have both sheep and cow cheese.  

pizza baking at pizza by the pond

The pizza is so fresh and amazing!  Baby Bear Loved her Cheese pizza slice.  We had the vegetarian pizza with all those beautiful greens in the photo above.  The warm and delicious pizza just melts in your mouth with the sheep cheese. 

baby eating pizza made with goat cheese

The Grotto is located at the entrance to the cheese cave where they cure all of their cheese.  

family eating at lovetree farm pizza by the pond

The grotto had space for dining with some tables and chairs.  It was raining outside and we stayed dry inside the structure.  

The whole grotto structure is built using sustainable and recycled materials.  It is insulated on the walls with bailed tires and sheep fur! They charged for people to bring their tires to dump ($5 per) and had a company come to bale the tires and were able to cover their costs for a free building material.  What a great use of resources! 

sustainable built grotto pizza by the pond

The other incredible part of our visit was their farm.  You can walk over to wear the dogs, cows, chickens, and sheep live or hike on their beautiful property. Baby Bear loved seeing all of the animals and came around the table one by one to take us to the animals and then back to get another adult!  

farm with sheep

There was a new litter of puppies and sheep in the same enclosure and it was just incredible to see the two species playing together!

~be sure to take a trip~
There is a Pizza Only Menu and you need to bring your own drinks, snacks, and picinic gear.  
Be sure to check their site their hours and to get directions, or visit them for cheese at St. Paul farmer's market.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gender Revel Party

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Baby Bear Hugs Gender Reveal Party-Its a ---!
gender reveal cupcake showing pink

We found out the gender of #2 and wanted a fun way to share the gender with our family.  I was thinking about a cake or cupcakes and even checked pinterest to see what was out there.  We decided to make stuffed cupcakes for our family to open.

Unfrosted Cup Cakes
2 different colored frostings 
Apple corer or other small cylinder to puncture the cupcake
Frosting bag or gun
Sprinkles to distract the eye or other top decoration


Use your apple corer to make a hole that goes into the center of the cupcake (do not go all the way through).

Now insert your frosting color for the center. Do not fill over the top like the cupcakes in the background! I had to go through and take some of the pink out since you have to cover with the top color. 

frosting a cupcake with pregnant belly in view
You can see my belly in this photo and my dirty little secret that I used really processed frosting
To frost the top part, put the 2nd color in your frosting bag. I found it easier to spin the cupcake and make a swirl on the top.  Then after I was done, I used a clean knife that I wet with cold water to smooth out the lines very carefully.  If the knife get frosting on it, then re-clean and keep going!

Now add your topping.  I used sprinkles on the top but you can use anything fun, so get creative!

~The Big Reveal~

#2 is a girl

Why Texting & Chewing Gum in Class should be OK

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I am at the Moreh L'Morim "Teacher to Teachers" conference and listening to Joel Hoffman speak about teaching Hebrew.  I am a little bit frustrated that the teachers attending are really talking more about classroom distractions, but it did come to some interesting points about cell phone usage in class (despite what the teachers attending wanted!!)

I got an in school suspended for bring an cell phone that was turned off when I was in High School.  My parents even spoke to the principle and said that since there was theft in the parking lot, they did not want me to keep my phone in the car.  The principle did not care and I had to miss out on a day of school by sitting in a small room with busy work.  

The way that I feel about allowing students to use cell phones in class is not only something that I think because I want to be the 'cool teacher' but because there is factual evidence that they can pay more attention when multitasking.  

I personally use cell phones as a teaching tool with my students.  I like to have them interact with one another and me (the teacher) using them for positive learning opportunities. I have had my students use them to take photos, videos, texting, googleing...etc! I admit though, that I did not let them use their phones to text or play games, but my thinking has now changed.

To see the article that Joel Hoffman wrote quoting the research about cell phone use click here

Chewing gum has a similar bad wrap in class

I see the point that they may put the gum in places other then the garbage and that IS a problem.  I would also suggest gum without chemical of color additives.  However; Gum has been scientifically proven to help kids focus better and to improve their memory (Allen, NYU).

Psychologists in the United Kingdom have also proven that chewing gum helps your memory and studying. This is due to the fact that chewing gum helps to release insulin into the bloodstream which affects how well your memory works. Gum might be helpful for people with 'ADD' or 'ADHD'. The simple chewing motion can help you relax.

What alternative methods have you tried in your class?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Super Baby Bear

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Everyday things change so much with Baby Bear.  She grows and changes every day and I want to savor every moment. 

Some of our sweet neighbor girls had a camp this week for little kids at their house.  It was so sweet to see the 2 year olds (she is 22 months) playing and following along with the older girls. Baby Bear knew all of the kids names and would recite all of them on the way home "bye Sammy, bye Sarah..".  

Today we were playing with our Dress Up Kit today and I pulled out a Super Hero Cape.  I showed Baby Bear How to wear it and ran around with the gossamer cape flowing saying "Super Ema"! (Ema [ee-mah] is mom in Hebrew). I put the cape on her and she ran around a little bit.  Then I said "Here comes Super Baby Bear" and she LOVED that.  She would run down the hall and tell me "more" and want to be announced over and over again before she did her entrance. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pregnancy Fitness Must-Haves

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Baby Bear Hugs Pregnancy Fitness Must Have List
pregnancy fitness must have graphic

I was working really hard to get in shape/keep in shape after Baby Bear and I have committed to continue on this path.  I I gained too much weight during the pregnancy and I was so hungry when nursing that I didn't lose the weight like I would have wanted to.  I DID work out though.  I woke up early every morning before work and either walked the dog for a good 40 minutes or swam at the Evanston YMCA.  Plus I was like Ken from The Office eating breakfast and second breakfast at work with some of my coworkers-OY! Our jewelry manufacturers would always bring me sweets that their wives had made and I had no willpower.    

I am continuing to spin, do TRX, and other cardio machine workouts 5 days a week.  I have also taken a trainer to work with me one-on-one in addition to my regular routine to make sure that I am doing the correct positioning.  

Not only will working out help you prevent excess weight gain, but it also will ease or prevent back pain and other discomforts,boost your energy level, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and postpartum depression plus it will increase stamina and muscle strength, which helps you prepare for labor.  (Mayo Clinic) If you have not been on a fitness routine, talk to your doctor first about starting one.  Prenatal Yoga and Water Aerobics classes are great ways to start if you have not been training in the past.

Here are some wardrobe starters to get you into the spirit

Pregnancy Undies
pregnancy underwear that fits under the belly
Undies from Motherhood Maternity

I never purchased these when I was pregnant with Baby Bear, but I decided to try them with #2.  They are SO much more comfortable then having my undies roll up under my belly.  Plus they have a much nice silhouette under clothes since they are made to fit with a belly.  Great for everyday and not just working out!

Workout Tops

maternity workout shirtmaternity workout top
You don't want to be hanging out of your shirt or be uncomfortable while working out.  The maternity workout shirts are super long so you don't need to worry! (Be sure to wear a great sports bra with your top.)

Bathing Suit

maternity swim suitmaternity swim suit

Now is not the time to hide at home! Even if you don't usually put on a swim suit, now is the time to buy one and use it!  The water take all of the pressure off your sore body and swimming is a great activity at any fitness level.  

The Perfect Pant

lululemon maternity yoga wear

I love Lululemon workout gear.  They do not have any maternity specific clothes, but their clothes are so well made, that they hold up to all of the stretching and sweating you can do even while pregnant.  I wore my Be Still Crop pants almost every day with Baby Bear (not just for working out).  Plus you get free alterations to make sure that they fit like a glove.  They even have a goal setting worksheet on their site. 

Pilates Ball
fitness ball for pregnancy and birth
Photo from Toronto Women Fitness
I am sure that my best friend is giggling about this one!  She kept telling me to get one with Baby Bear.  You can use the fitness ball for exercise, labor, and bouncing to calm a baby. I even had one that was a chair at work.

Head on over to the Gym or stop by Fit Pregnancy to get started
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