Friday, June 29, 2012

Teeming with #2 - Week 16 update!

As you might have seen on my FB page the other day, this mama's been busy "cooking up another one"! Little Bean #2 is due on December 2nd, 2012!

Here's a nice closeup of the kiddo from our dating ultrasound on June 5th (13 1/2 weeks along):

And here are a couple belly shots - 13 weeks:

(...yup, I know the sticker says 12, but early on I had my dates wrong! Ooops!)

And 16 weeks.:

(I look HUGE here! Must've been extra bloated that morning as it's now a week later and I'm not nearly as big!)

I have to say the first trimey of this pregnancy hit me a li'l harder than when I was expecting with S. For several weeks there I was SUPER tired, and had a lot of weird food-related symptoms. Huge cravings for certain foods combined with totally feeling turned off other foods - including those I usually love! For example, I got really grossed out by the idea of one of my favourite salads - spinach with chopped almonds, feta and balsamic vinagrette. Cravings were generally for carbs and rich, fatty foods like dim sum. (MMMMmmMMM!) Probably makes sense; I weighed about 10 pounds less at the beginning of this pregnancy than last time, so my body's been telling me to gain some damn weight! Once into about week 13-14, cravings began to ease but not my overall appetite! I'm still eating like a horse and have put on about 10 pounds overall.

The tiredness thing really sucked. All of my available energy was going to caring for Starryn and work, so when the evening rolled around I'd basically be useless, either crashing super-early or couching out infront of the TV. Blogging? Out of the question on most days! Managing to post once every two weeks was about all I could muster. I'm very appreciative of my review/giveaway sponsors who have been very patient and understanding through all this! Now that I have some of my energy back, I should be able to get back to more regular blogging. *fingers crossed*!

(On a related note, if you're wondering how I managed to review The DivaCup so recently, well, let's just say the testing period wasn't so recent! I used it during my final period back in March, and then boom - positive preggo test! It just took my exhausted self 2 months to do the writeup, lol. :)

Another sucky thing? Hubby ended up selling our Chili Peppers tickets because I felt too crappy to go myself, and he couldn't find someone else to go with at the last minute. Boooo! (But we did see Dave Matthews earlier this month, w00t!)

Other physical symptoms from the first trimey - overactive bladder, super-vivid dreams and some general nausea (but thankfully just a few appointments with Johnny himself). Oh yeah, and a few awful headaches. Strangely, my boobs didn't start getting big & sore until the last few weeks. I spotted just a tad during weeks 5-7, but it didn't really concern me as it happened last time around as well.

All in all, though it was challenging at times, I'm sure my 1st trim symptoms were nothing to write home about compared to the stories I've heard from many other women!

Emotionally, I've been pretty level so far in general, though I have had a few completely out-of-the-blue crying spells. Good ol' hormones!

In terms of prenatal care, I'm going with the St. Jacobs Midwives this time around. I've been hearing Amazing Things about them, and so far I haven't been disappointed. I was initially assigned to Stephanie Gingerich who is AWESOME, but then a few weeks back (when I realized I'd miscalculated the first day of my last period by a week), they reassigned me to Katie, a new midwife who I will be meeting at my next appt, since Steph will be on vacation on my revised estimated due date.

I'm sooooo happy to be taking the midwife route for this pregnancy! Don't get me wrong - I did have a generally positive experience with my OBGYN last time, but the philosophy and standard of care offered by midwives just resonates so much more soundly with me. Midwives place greater emphasis on birth being a natural, healthy event (as opposed to a "medical situation") and foster informed choice for the mother, which I *heart*! For example, I was 9 days overdue with S. Thankfully I went into labour on my own, otherwise I was scheduled for an induction the very next day - something I really wanted to avoid, but I felt powerless against going the OBGYN route. I asked my midwife specifically about this, and she reassured me that while induction might be recommended at a certain point, it certainly wouldn't be forced, and more gentle methods would be suggested first prior to resorting to the more aggressive approaches (cervidil & pitocin, specifically) that the hospital regularly administers. We're also considering a home birth; I pretty much burst into tears every time I watch a video or read a story of a home birth as it's such a gentle, loving way to bring a new life into the world!

So what else? Well, next midwife appointment is on July 12th, then we're off for a week of cottage-y g00dness, then back to find out whether S will have a brother or sister on July 25th! (Yup, I'll share. ;)

How many of my readers are pregnant right now? How far along? How are things going for you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

KinderGlo Night Light: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

Our 18-month-old daughter S has long mastered the "fine art" of sleeping through the night, however sometimes it takes her a little while to settle down in her crib. We often hear her talking to herself, singing and sometimes crying a little bit before she drifts off to dreamland, and this can can go on for 30 minutes or longer. To help her transition, we started giving her a few "stuffies" and a plush sound machine to play with in bed (once she was no longer at risk of SIDS). However, with all the lights off she couldn't really see all her little friends! Due to this, we ended up buying her a plug-in night light which fascinated her greatly, but also frustrated her since it was all the way across the room and she couldn't explore it directly. Another issue was that it stayed on indefinitely so we had to remind ourselves to shut it off once she was asleep so we didn't waste unnecessary power.

When I discovered the company KinderGlo and its line of portable LED night lights, I knew I'd found the perfect pre-bedtime lighting solution for our daughter! 

KinderGlo night lights are designed to be played with and snuggled by your little one directly. They never overheat, they're made of soft and durable, BPA and lead free material and they hold a battery charge lasting 8-10 hours. Each one is equipped with four different colour modes (solid blue, green, red and a rotating colour spectrum) and two power settings (stay on mode, and 30 minute "gradual fade") mode. Both of these settings are easily controlled via a single button at the bottom of the unit. The KinderGlo is super-easy to charge - just plug in the charging base and set the unit on top. And, to top it all off, it's available in the most adorable selection of characters!


Take a look at the following video for more product information on the KinderGlo, as well as some cute clips of toddlers enjoying their li'l glowing pals!

The company offered me the opportunity to review a KinderGlo portable night light of my choice. Naturally, I let my daughter choose, and she pointed at the elephant with a big grin on her face. ("Guess she's over the Hickory Dickory Dock incident!" I noted.)

Here's a product photo showing the elephant in its charging base.

And here's the actual night light and charging base that we received. Nice & simple!

The KinderGlo comes fully charged, so we were able to get "testing" right away.

It was love at first sight for our daughter! S was immediately transfixed by the colours and wanted to snuggle and kiss her new "Elphie"!

She quickly learned how to change the colour modes via the button at the bottom of the light. I like how the same button controls the stay-on vs. fade off setting but requires a 3-second press. Both a simple approach, and effective at allowing little hands to control the "fun" colour setting, but making it more difficult to activate the other one, which most parents would probably prefer to keep control over!

The product video mentions that the KinderGlo is tough enough to withstand teething and slobbering. Snotty noses too, apparently! :)

Elphie has definitely made a welcome addition to S' crib ensemble. When I peek in on her just before she nods off or when she's beginning to stir in the morning, I often catch her snuggling her glowing pal or changing the colour mode. Though sometimes she prefers to play "toss Elphie out of the crib" - usually when she's a little on the crabby side and wants to get Mommy or Daddy's attention! (Evidently she's learned that her elephant makes a much louder thump than her stuffies in this scenario!) I'd be a little concerned by this if the KinderGlo weren't so durable; clearly (in addition to saliva and boogies) it can handle prototypical toddler abuse as well!

So far, Elphie has stayed with S in her bedroom (aside from a trip to Gramma's for a sleepover) however I can definitely see bringing the light on a long car ride for a little extra entertainment and comfort, and I like the concept of it being a portable travel night light for potty-trained toddlers and preschoolers heading out on a late night bathroom trip.

As for battery life, I was super impressed by how long the KinderGlo's first charge lasted. We got over 2 weeks of regular use before the light started to fade! When it does need a charge, the process is indeed as simple as advertised. That said, I did find a few details on this missing from the instructional booklet (which is otherwise clear and comprehensive), so my PR contact filled in the blanks. It takes 4-10 hours to charge fully (depending on the starting battery life) and the light turns from red to green when fully charged. Periodically letting the battery drain fully is recommended as well to extend its life. Since other parents might have the same questions, I recommend that the company adds these details into the booklet and on their website.

We've run into one minor snag with the KinderGlo so far. When the battery life was getting low, it got stuck in a state with the light on, and the button had no effect. According to the instructions, this is known but rare behaviour, and inserting a paper clip through the pin hole at the bottom is advised to reset the device. Thankfully this worked for us, and following another charge Elphie was back to her old self. When I let my PR contact know this happened, she was apologetic and even offered to replace the light if it continues to happen for us! Clearly this is a company which takes pride in their products, and strives to ensure their customers are 100% satisfied. Now that's what I like to see!

All in all, I think the KinderGlo portable night light is a wonderful product. It is fun, versatile, cuddly, cute and practical, and completely safe for babies and young children. Two thumbs up from this mama!

Buy It:

To purchase a KinderGlo portable night light for your own sweet li'l monkey, you can choose your favourite (or better yet, let the little one pick!) directly from the KinderGlo store, or visit their Where to Buy page to find an online or local retailer.

Bonus: KinderGlo has generously offered M2M readers a discount code worth $5 off each night light ordered from their web store! To redeem, enter HES6HKNHCA2J as your coupon code at checkout!

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a KinderGlo portable night light of their own! Winner selects style.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Blue Moon Lites Incorporated.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The DivaCup Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

Along with cloth diapering, eco-friendly cleaning and healthier, more sustainable food choices, another "green" step I've been eager to take is switching to a reusable solution for my period. I first discovered there were many alternatives to throwaway pads and tampons early last year when I began entering blog giveaways, and I was certainly interested in giving 'em all a try! And then came The Tale of the Moldy Tampon - even further incentive that it was time to ditch those disposables. (Yuck!!)

One of the products I came across that I was most intrigued about was The DivaCup. Simply put, it's a reusable silicone cup which is worn inside the vagina during a woman's menstrual cycle to collect fluid. Various other brands offer a similar product, however The DivaCup appears to be among the most popular and well-reviewed, plus it's made right here in Canada! Since first discovering The DivaCup, I've learned that several people I know personally (my naturopath and a coworker, to name a couple) use the product and LOVE it!

As it turned out, I had to wait awhile to try one out for myself as dear ol' AF decided to delay her return until over 13 months after our daughter was born. When she finally announced her arrival earlier this year, I wasted no time contacting the folks at The DivaCup to see if they'd be interested in partnering on a review/giveaway. Lo and behold, they were. Yay!!!

Before I get into my own experiences with the DivaCup, let's look at some product details.

First of all, the DivaCup comes in two sizes. Size 1 is for women under 30 years old and who have never given birth, and Size 2 is for women over 30 years old and/or who have given birth. Model 2 is slightly larger in diameter than Model 1, though both are approximately the same length.

The cup comes with a handy little drawstring storage bag, keeping it clean & dry between uses.

When inserted properly, the DivaCup cannot be felt and can safely be worn for up to 12 hours (including overnight) for a completely leak-free experience. It is worn low in the vagina (not near the cervix) so it is easy to remove. Finally, it is made from durable top quality, healthcare-grade silicone that is free of latex, plastic and BPA. More information can be found on the Product Features and comprehensive FAQs section of the DivaCup website.

All that sounds pretty good in theory, right? So the big question - how did everything work out when put to the test?

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous at first. I'd read a few reviews and forum posts from women who'd had some difficulties, at least getting used to things initially. And lemme tell you, I'm not the most physically adept person myself. Given all this, I was pleasantly surprised to discovered that my own learning curve wasn't steep at all!

To keep things organized, I'm going to break down my experiences (and the review in general) into four sections: Insertion, Wear, Removal and Cleaning/Maintenance.



My first thought upon studying the cup was "How the heck am I supposed to get this thing in?" It's not the tiniest li'l doohickey, after all. (Note - I received a Size 2 given I'm a mama and, yup, the other "condition" is true too! :)

Thankfully, the product directions (which are quite clear and easy-to-follow) quickly solved this "mystery". You first pinch the cup into a u-shape which makes the whole thing narrower and more solid.

As you insert the pinched cup, you rotate it at the same time which causes it to unfold and maneuver itself into the right spot. You continue to insert until the cup has fully reopened, the "stem" is at (or just inside) your vaginal opening and you can't really feel anything. All in all, I was happy to find the insertion process quite easy, and I was readily able to gauge when the cup was in the right spot.


The DivaCup is, indeed, very comfortable to wear when it is properly in place. Physically, it's not really noticeable at all, though doing a kegel makes you go, oh yeah, there is something in there. :) I did find I was quite mentally aware of it the first few times I wore it, but that's probably expected because, well, I had something new hangin' out within a very sensitive bodily area! But this awareness lessened with each subsequent usage.

Apparently the length of the stem can result in a little discomfort for some women, in which case the stem can be trimmed down. I didn't find this myself, however.

As for performance, I'm happy to report no leaks so far! Granted the longest I've worn it was about 8 hours and I have yet to wear it overnight, however I don't see wearing it those extra few hours being a cause for concern, at least not for most women. The cup holds 1 ounce of fluid, and evidently the average woman flows only about 3-4 ounces during her entire cycle. My own flow is probably on the low-ish side, which was echoed by the amount I'd find in the cup upon removal - always well below the half way mark. As for activity level, while I can't vouch for its performance during scuba diving or extreme sports, The DivaCup did stay in place just fine during mild to moderate activities such as walking and household chores.

Note that while my cup didn't leak per se, I did find that a tiny amount of fluid would sometimes sneak downward, presumably because it was kicking around below the inserted cup. Given this, I did feel a little more comfortable wearing a pantyliner during the heaviest parts of my period. This will likely be something that improves as I continue getting used to the product, however.


Of all the stages, I'd say I find removal the most awkward. While it's not incredibly difficult or messy per se, it does take a little getting used to. First of all, the inclination is to pull the stem, however this isn't effective. You need to grab the base of the cup, pinch it and wiggle it a little to break the suction before the whole thing can be pulled out. I found this part a tad uncomfortable at first, but it got easier with each subsequent attempt. Second, as you're guiding it out you need to be careful to keep it upright so the fluid stays inside. Again, not an arduous task but something which requires a bit more focus than removing an absorbent device (i.e. a tampon).


This part is super-easy! To reuse, simply dump existing fluid down the toilet, wash with a natural, non-fragrance soap, rinse and you're good to go! DivaCup sells a product called The DivaWash for this purpose, however I didn't have this myself so I decided to use my daughter's body wash which appears to be working well. I've read some comments that the holes just under the rim of the cup can get clogged quite easily so special attention needs to be paid to these, however I haven't noticed a problem with this myself yet. In the event they do become clogged, a procedure for dislodging the residue is described within the Cleaning and Care section of the product's FAQs page.

While I haven't run into the following scenario, I could see the cleaning process becoming a bit awkward if a change was required in a non-empty public bathroom. I mean, most women would probably rather not deal with those inevitable curious/odd glances, though some might look at is as an educational opportunity. (I'd fall into the former group myself most often, though might dabble in the latter when feeling particularly peppy. :) In any case, carrying a small container of natural wash is a good idea for those occasions when you do need to do a public change, so that you're not forced to choose between the always-questionable bathroom soap and a water-only cleanse.


All in all, based on my limited experience so far, I am definitely pleased with The DivaCup. I have found that it performs well, is easy to care for and the learning curve was surprisingly gentle. And it's great knowing that I'm no longer exposing myself to potentially dangerous chemicals and throwing out unnecessary waste with every change.  I'll definitely continue using this as my go-to "monthly solution" and will recommend it to other women looking for an alternative to 'sposies.

Before closing things out, a few comments on cost savings. The DivaCup retails for about $39.99, and the manufacturer's suggestion is to replace it once/year given it is a personal hygience product. Prior to The DivaCup, I'd estimate I was spending $6-7/month on disposable products, or around $80/year. So assuming I do replace it every year, I'm already cutting my costs in this area by close to 50%. That said, given the replacement guidelines are fairly conservative, my guess is that with proper care and maintenance, I could reuse the same cup for 1.5-2 years or longer, in which case costs savings increase up to 75% (or more). That's pretty sweet, as I'd consider saving $$ a fringe benefit on top of the more pertinent health and environmental benefits inherent in making this switch. The DivaCup website actually suggests that the average woman spends closer to $150-200/year on disposable products, which could again reflect that my own flow is lower than average (and/or that I do a particularly good job of sourcing out bargains ;). In any case, however you slice it you're definitely going to save money making this switch!

Buy It:

To purchase a DivaCup of your own, visit the "Buy Now" section of their website where you can view a list of online retailers and find a store in your area.

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a DivaCup + storage bag of their own! Winner selects size.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Diva International.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.