Sunday, October 28, 2012

Croatian Sauerkraut Cabbage Rolls (Sarma) {Recipe}

Do you like cabbage rolls? How about sauerkraut? If you answered yes to both of these, you MUST MUST MUST try this recipe! I insist. :) Literally everyone I've served it to has exuburently sung its praises. It results in a totally different taste (which I prefer hands-down) than your standard tomato sauce-based cabbage rolls and you boil the rolls vs. baking them. It's quite easy to prepare, it freezes well so you can make a huge amount at once, and best of all, it's uber-gentle on the wallet - less than $2 per serving!

Creds go to my besty's mom for perfecting this recipe and originally teaching it to me. Nothing like hands-on learning from a spirited Croatian mama, lemme tell ya! I've omitted the step of tossing the first roll against the wall to make sure it's been wrapped properly - but feel free to add this in if you're feeling zesty. :)

Croatian Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Yield: 25-30 rolls


Cabbage Rolls:
  • 2 pre-soured cabbage heads (Approx. 7 pounds total, or 3.5 pounds per head)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 6-7 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces (Note: I use a dry, cured "hanging" bacon sold at a local butcher shop, but you can use packaged bacon as well.)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 2/3 large onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2-3 squirts ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Handful of parsley, diced 
Paprika Roux:
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 1/3 large onion, diced


Note: If you are purchasing cabbage heads pre-soured, look for a consistent orangey colour - this indicates strong and even fermentation (better flavour!)


Set two big bowls beside the sink. Pull leaves off each cabbage head and rinse under running water.

Place 2-3 of the largest outer leaves and the smallest leaves / inner core in the first bowl. For each remaining leaf, cut a layer off the raised part of the stem (down the middle of the outer side) with a paring knife to make it even with the rest of the leaf. Place in the second bowl. (Note - you can omit this step if you're pressed for time or feeling lazy. I often do. ;) Chop all the leaves in the first bowl into very thin strips and place back in the bowl.


 Chop bacon into small (approx. 1 inch) pieces.

Combine the ground beef, ground pork, brown rice, 2/3 diced onion, garlic, ketchup, egg, 2 tsp paprika, salt and parsley in a big bowl.


Set a 15 litre stock pot, the second cabbage bowl (with the medium-sized leaves) and the filling mixture all within reach. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped cabbage strips into the bottom of the stock pot.


Open a cabbage leaf and place a palm-sized amount of the filling mixture inside the leaf at the bottom of the stem (this amount will vary depending on the size of the leaf.)


Loosely roll up to the opposite edge of the leaf. Push each side of the roll inward until it is tucked in. (Note: if the roll is properly soured the ends should push in easily.)



Place roll inside the stock pot with the outer edge facing upward. Repeat until the bottom layer of stock pot is filled.

Next, spread another 1/3 of the chopped cabbage strips over the rolls, and sprinkle half of the chopped bacon on top. Create and place the rest of the cabbage rolls on a second layer using the same method as the first layer. Spread the remainder of the stripped cabbage and chopped bacon on top. If there are any additional leaves which were not used up, you can chop these into thin strips and place on top as well. Fill the pot with water so that all rolls and cabbage strips are fully covered.

Bring to a boil at medium-high heat, and then reduce and let simmer.    

Once water is simmering, heat canola oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in flour, and then add remainder of diced onion. Stir constantly for about 5-6 minutes until onion begins to brown.

Remove from heat, stir in paprika and immediately pour evenly over top layer of rolls. Continue to let rolls simmer for about 3 hours.

To serve, ladle 2 rolls into each bowl along with some cabbage strips, bacon and broth. Serve with a simple starch (e.g. mashed potatoes or dinner roll) and a side salad. Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

FuzziBunz Trickle-Free Trainer from Cloth Diaper Kids: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

Cloth Diaper Kids is an online shop based in Grande Prairie, Alberta which sells cloth diapers (no surprise there, huh? :) and other green products for mamas & babies with a focus on items that are Canadian-made and/or made or sold by stay-at-home moms. The owner, Stephanie, is a stay-at-home mom herself. Following a disappointing experience with a diaper service (the single style provided was not a good fit for her 5 lb son), Stephanie ventured out to cloth diaper on her own, and she was quickly sold! Her subsequent experience with many, many brands and styles encouraged her to open Cloth Diaper Kids as a way to stay home with her son and sell products that she loves, and that truly work.

I first discovered Cloth Diaper Kids via a giveaway I won early last year (yay me!), and when I checked out the shop was impressed by the quality and quantity of brands and products that Stephanie sells. Big names such as FuzziBunz and Bummis as well as boutique offerings; pockets, wool covers, trainers, swimmers, laundering supplies, teething necklaces, knit hats, slings - you name it and she's probably got it! :) For those interested in cloth diapering but aren't sure where to start, she offers a number of flexible, affordable options for getting started including rental kits, trial packs, discounted diaper packages and gently used diapers

Now that our daughter is potty learning, we're beginning to experiment with trainers so Stephanie offered to send me a FuzziBunz Trickle-Free Trainer to review.

Product Information:

FuzziBunz®'s Trickle Free Trainers™ are back by popular demand—and they're better than ever! The new and improved Trickle Free Trainers™ help transition your baby from diapers to big-kid underwear without the waste of disposables or the feel of a traditional diaper. And what's more they are designed to make the potty training process FUN for toddlers and EASY for parents!
  • Design looks less like a diaper and more like big kid underwear
  • Fun child focused digitally printed (no fading or peeling) designs are engaging to toddlers
  • Minky fabric on inside allows for wetness to be felt yet cleans up easy in messy situations
  • Perfect next-step purchase for loyal FuzziBunz® parents
  • Available in a variety prints and white
  • Easy dual side snaps makes changing accidents a breeze

Trickle-Free Trainers come in four colourful prints (as well as plain white), all of which are currently available at Cloth Diaper Kids.

My Review:

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a confession: this is the first trainer I have ever tried. So I am, literally,  a complete n00b. :) That said, on the plus side I hope this brings a bit of a fresh perspective to the review - knock on wood! Since I'm just getting my feet wet here, I'll forego my standard evaluation system (which would probably need to be adjusted for trainers anyway) and simply list some pros and cons (as I see them) at the end as a summary. Alright, onward and upward!

Our daughter is 23 months and 22 pounds, so Stephanie sent me a medium trainer in the Bee print. (I like this print because it's unisex, so it'll work for both our daughter now and our li'l man-to-be a couple years down the road!) The pattern is every bit as bright & cheerful as advertised, and I love that it comes with minimal, recyclable packaging.

 The back of the insert includes some potty training tips - a nice touch!

 The minky inner is super-soft - must feel nice & fluffy against a toddler's tushy!

Each side includes two sets of three snaps to contend with messes. It surprised me how close together they are; I feel like an extra half cm or so between them would be ideal, however I assume FuzziBunz has done their research here to optimize the distance for each size.

The waist and legs are elasticized, but aren't super-stretchy like most of my diapers are. Given my n00b-ness, I can't comment on how common this is with trainers though my personal preference would be a bit more stretchiness in the material, for comfort and ease of pulling on/off.

Finally, the trainer comes with a serial number allowing registration of the product on the FuzziBunz website. Registration activates your warranty and provides various perks such as automatic enrollment in monthly prize drawings, access to educational resources and ways to stay connected.

When we first showed our daughter her new Bee trainer, she appeared to be both intrigued and confused. (Is it a diaper? Big girl underwear that's fluffier than the others I've tried? Help a kid out here!) She was pretty patient while I fumbled around pulling it up and getting it on right, however. It definitely wasn't as easy to pull on as I thought/hoped it would be, mainly due to the aforementioned not-so-stretchy waist and leg material. Rather than gliding on, the trainer kind of "sticks" so you need to adjust the legs and waist individually to get everything in the proper spot. Pulling down is a little easier, however, which is good as this is the more important of the two steps for a toddler to learn to do on his/her own. That said, while our daughter can "navigate" the pull-down mechanism of regular underwear, she still has trouble with these. So all in all I'd say these trainers definitely need adult assistance for younger / less physically adept potty learners

The trainer certainly looks adorable on our little one...

...however I have to say that the overall fit is kind of odd. It manages to be both tight AND loose at the same time. The legs are particularly tight, even with the leg snap on the looser of the two settings.

Since our daughter is only 22 lbs, this makes me question whether the medium size would truly fit comfortably until 30 lbs (as advertised), especially for toddlers with chunkier thighs.

By contrast, there is some extra "bagginess" in front / underneath.


Finally, the waist appears prone to sagging down too far following active play.

Fit criticisms aside, this trainer does perform quite well! A few specifics:
- It holds a decent amount of pee. Definitely a trickle and up to a smaller "full" pee, if that makes sense. During our testing period our daughter wet her "Bee Pants" several times and we had a leak just once, following a super-big pee.
- It appears to contain messes well, and the side snaps are indeed helpful for managing the clean-up process. (Though note that we've only had one poop in it so far, and it was quite solid.)
- They certainly succeed in feeling wet, as our daughter tells us right away when she's had an accident while wearing them. (Now, the tricky part - getting her to tell us BEFORE she pees! She's doing so well with a bare bum, but as soon as she has any material down there it's a different story!)

As for care & maintenance, the trainer sprays down very easily, washes well and air dries SUPER quickly - within just 2-3 hours. Thumbs up!

Durability-wise, after several washes the minky inner continues to be nice and soft, and (true to description) there are no signs of the bright, vivid pattern fading at all. The only (very minor) issue I'm beginning to notice is slight pilling around the waist and leg elastic.

As for our daughter's opinion, well she appears to neither love nor hate her trainer. She does cooperate better for her Bee Pants than for a "regular" diaper, since we can pull it on her while she's standing or sitting. (She's beginning to loathe lying down for a change, which can definitely test our patience!)


For those of you in a hurry, here's a summary of pros and cons (as I see them) and overall comments.

- Performs well - holds a substantial amount of pee and contains poop without issue.
- Minky inner is nice & soft (even after several washes) and feels wet after an accident, which is important for potty learning.
- Side snaps are helpful when dealing with messes.
- Two sets of snaps are included on each side to customize the fit.
- Available patterns/styles are bright and vivid, and are definitely resistant (if not impervious) to fading
- Easy care & maintenance; quick drying time.

- Unusual fit - tight waist/legs but baggy in the crotch. May not fit comfortably at the heavier end of the weight spectrum for a particular size?
- Challenging to pull up and down, mainly due to tight leg elastic. Adult assistance required for many, if not most, learners (especially those on the younger side).
- Limited number of styles available (four patterns + white).
- Waist and leg elastics show some pilling over time.

Overall comments: As I mentioned earlier, our FuzziBunz Trickle Free Trainer is literally the first trainer we've tried. That said, it does strike us as a high-quality product and we've found it to perform quite well. On the flip side, it has an "interesting" fit and we feel it would be most effective for an older learner who has mastered the skill of pulling tight pants up and down (vs. younger/less physically adept learners who would definitely need adult assistance.)


Buy It:

Visit Cloth Diaper Kids to purchase a FuzziBunz Trickle Free Trainer of your own. Now's the perfect time to order as all pattern varieties are currently 21-27% off! While you're there, be sure to browse the full selection of available products - bet you'll find something else you love! :)

Note: Cloth Diaper Kids offers Canada-wide flat-rate shipping for $9.99 (free shipping on orders over $200). Local pick-ups are available by appointment. Shipping is available to the United States for a flat rate of $15.  

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a FuzziBunz Trickle Free Trainer of their own! Winner chooses size and style, based on availability. ** Note: Open to Canada only.**

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.


If you found this review valuable, I'd love if you'd take a moment and vote for me as one of this year's Top 25 Product Review Moms at Circle of Moms! I'm unable to award entries for this, however if I can make the Top 25 it should open the door to even more great brands and products to review here at M2M, and giveaways too!

To vote, simply click the badge, scroll to/search for my listing and click the Vote icon. (Note that from Nov 9 to Nov 10 I'll be under the Pending Approval tab while they approve my listing, but you can still vote for me under there!) Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided to the winner by Cloth Diaper  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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Cook Big or Go Home!

Here's my hubs whippin' up 12 litres of his famous chili. We have one happy & satiated freezer right now!

Monday, October 22, 2012

"S" at 22 months: Chatty Cathy!

So this next S update was "supposed to" be at 21 months, however given our li'l monkey is already close to 23 months I decided to tack another month on there. (The OCD part of my brain is feeling a little anxious about this, but it'll deal. :) I do have to say - amazing what an extra month can add in terms of a toddler's developmental progress! Not only that, but I get to show off four month-to-month photos this time around. w00t!

19 months:

 20 months:

21 months:

22 months:  (She's giving me some 'tude in this one!)

Evidently, I have a bad track record of getting weight and height measurements on her milestone dates. At 21 months, we clocked her at just over 31 inches but then forgot (?) to get a 22 month update. Today (almost 23 months) she's 31 1/2, however, so let's set the official "guestimate" at 31 1/3 inches. :) Weight-wise, she was in the 22-23 lb neighborhood. So she continues to be 5-10th percentile for weight and about 25th for height. Our li'l peanut. :)

In dental news, her eye teeth started poking through at 21 months, and these babies take their sweet time, lemme tell ya! (Now, at 23 months, they're still only partially through.) Thankfully they don't appear to be causing her much discomfort, and the rashiness we were battling during months 16-18 (and onward to about 20 months) has eased considerably as well. We continue to give her a lot of bare bum time at home, both to air out her skin and assist with potty learning, which is coming along slowly but surely. In a nutshell, she's now close to 100% success with bare bum peeing at home (mainly on her potty but sometimes on the toilet) but we're still working on poop and have yet to venture into underwear territory when out and about. With both Chris and me working full-time and S in daycare, it's been difficult giving potty learning the attention it requires, so this is something I look forward to tackling when off on mat leave. (This'll probably end up with a post of its own!)

Here are some of the physical development strides S has made recently:
  • 19-20 months
    • Running, for realsies (vs. her "toddle run" from 16-18 months
    • Attempting (and almost succeeding) to climb into the bath tub and scale her change table
    • Twirling in circles
    • Walking down stairs (with assistance) and refusing to go backwards on her tummy
    • Climbing up on chairs at the kitchen table
    • Taking off her own shirt (after we help her with arms), shoes and diaper. Attempting to put on shoes.
  • 21-22 months
    • Attempting (and almost succeeding :) to climb out of her crib. (Thankfully we'll be making the move to a toddler bed shortly!)
    • Scaling the climber at her daycare 
    • Standing on the seat of her Rock, Roll 'n Ride Trike (I think she got this move from her older daycare buddy!)
    • "Just about jumping"; she gets the knee bend and springing action but can't quite get herself airborne just yet. Here she is having lots of fun doing splashy jump-ins with Daddy at Duck Tots!

If we do say so ourselves, however, the really impressive shtuff has been in the realm of intellectual, social and verbal development. Some highlights:
  • She "graduated" from 2-word phrases to full sentences by 20-21 months. Some notable earlier examples: "I'll have water too please, mommy" and "Make a nose, mommy!" (the latter after I'd drawn a picture of a sun with just two eyes and a mouth.) 
  • She has learned pretty much every popular animal (and some less common ones), and will correct you if you get one wrong. (Someone: "There's your monkey!" S: "No, that's an orangutan!")
  • She started singing at 19 months (remember this li'l birthday serenade?), and by 22 months had accumulated a repertoire of about 20 songs, from Twinkle Twinkle to Rain, Rain Go Away (subbing in various family members for the "___ wants to play" part) to Call Me Maybe (this one's equally appealing, it would seem, to toddlers and seniors alike!)
  • Her number skills progressed from everything being "2" at 18-19 months to counting past 10 at 21 months. By 22 months she could recognize most numbers from 1 to 10 but was still learning to associate the symbols and words with the actual amounts. Mad props to her ChildUp game cards as she's played with them almost every day since we received them. Here (at almost 22 months) she sings, recites the alphabet and counts "kinda sorta" up to 18 all in one fell swoop - though she does it kinda begrudgingly. (I think she gets a little self conscious at times being in the spotlight, so in the interest of not giving her a complex, we're selective (and sometimes furtive) with our camera & video usage!)

  • Her knowledge of colours has really taken off. At 18 months she was hit and miss, however by 22 she could quite readily identify all the common colours, match objects of the same colour together, etc.
  • We began "co-reading" with her (i.e. giving her opportunities to finish sentences in her favourite stories) at 18-19 months, and this continues to be one of her favourite activities. Here she is reading "Pigs" by Robert Munsch with Dad.

  • She's already learning manipulation to get her way. :) For example, she'll tell us she needs to pee or poo when she really just wants that one extra book before bed, as she knows we never turn down a potty request!
  • Her pretend play has really taken off. She likes to prepare coffee and "chocolate tea" with her Magical Tea for Two set, and give all the animals swing rides in her Animal Sounds Zoo.
  • She's definitely adopted her Daddy's love of hide 'n' seek. Boo!!!

  • At about 21 months, she began engaging in true conversations with us which has been one of the most exciting, rewarding developments! Here she tells us all the fun she had at daycare. (Side note: "onee-yonees" is how one of her daycare friends pronounces "macaroni" (one of his favourite foods) so she's adopted this pronunication herself!)

Personality-wise, she continues to sport a generally sunny and easygoing disposition. She's happy to play on her own which obviously comes in handy at times. She is in the midst of the stereotypical "mine" phase, but apparently every child (literally) goes through this, so we'll just ride it out and not worry about it too much. We do gently encourage her to share with her peers but don't make a big deal out if it.

Next up, the big 2 year update. Holy smokes!

In the meantime, I'll leave y'all with one more picture of our li'l sweetie at 21 months - just love this one. :)

So tell me - what were your favourite memories/developments during the 18-22 month phase for your own child(ren)?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7 Reasons to Get Up Early

After several days straight of slamming my snooze button multiple times, rolling out of bed groggily and then chastizing myself for getting such a late start, I managed to get up bright (well, actually, dark :) & early this morning. I planned to jump on here and blog a recipe, but then, while showering, began thinking of all the benefits to getting up early and decided to jot them down - not only as a reminder to myself, but for those of you out there who agree that early is the way to go and could use that extra motivation to haul yourself out of bed!
  1. Getting up early allows me to finish my own morning routine (shower, brush teeth, put in contacts, dress) before my family is up. I'm then much more present and focused on enjoying time with them once they do rise, and feel more on track in general the remainder of the day.
  2. My brain functions a lot more clearly after sleep than before it, so I'm much more effective at tackling "cerebral" activities (such as blogging) early in the morning than late at night.
  3. Moving my personal initiatives to the morning allows me to spend more quality time with my hubby in the evening.
  4. Rising early correlates with a more consistent sleep schedule and more intentional time usage. When staying up late, there's no firm "deadline" for when I need to hit the sack, so I (more than occasionally) end up "stalking" my FB news ticker or doing some other frivolous task just to avoid going to bed, and then my quality and quantity of sleep suffers for no good reason. When I choose the early bed/rise option instead, I not only get more consistent sleep but there's also a pretty firm stop time to adhere to in the morning for my personal initiatives, so I use that time much more intentionally.
  5. That morning cup of tea or coffee is considerably more enjoyable when sipped alone, undisturbed vs. crammed in along with 14329 other morning tasks
  6. The morning sky and temperature can be quite lovely. (A seasonal reason, to be sure - 6 AM outside in the middle of January is less becoming. :)
  7. And finally, I'm not naturally a morning person, so when I do manage to get up early (especially when I get some good shtuff accomplished) it gives me that extra boost of confidence which has a positive effect on the remainder of my day!

Do you agree that getting up early is the way to go, or do you prefer having a later schedule? How do you motivate yourself to stay on track?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Precious Car-N-Go Poncho from Jeni Lynn Designs {Etsy}: Giveaway! (Closed)

If you were following Manager to Mom earlier this year, you may remember my Ridin' Safe Poncho review and gift code giveaway from Etsy shop Jeni Lynn Designs.

Now that we're well into October, it's time for those of us in cooler climates to start thinking about keeping our little ones warm and safe over the upcoming winter, and shop owner Jeni A wants to help out! She has generously offered to give away another poncho to one lucky Manager to Mom winner! Thanks Jeni!

So what's the deal with car seat ponchos, and how are they a safer option than regular coats/jackets? Well, with a regular coat you may feel like the car seat buckles are providing a snug fit, but in an accident, the coat material compresses much more heavily than you can feel with your hands, leaving an unsafe amount of space between the straps and your child. (You can view an effective demonstration of this here.) A poncho, however, goes on top of the buckles so the material does not interfere, however the child remains warm and snug. The best of both worlds!

Jeni's been busy rebranding her store and her own poncho offering now has a fresh new name (Precious Car-N-Go Poncho - cute, huh?) but it's still the same practical, high-quality product she sent me to review several months back. A few details:

This poncho is 2 layers of super soft fleece, and includes a 4 inch zipper at the neck to make getting it on and off super easy! There is an attached hood for extra warmth, too!

The poncho measures approximately 34 inches square. It will be longer on smaller babies; more blanket-like. On taller kids it will provide more upper-body- only coverage, like a traditional poncho. The corners are situated to point to the front/back and down each arm to provide the best possible coverage.

Add on a 3rd layer, spikes or a mohawk, and see many more patterns here.

These ponchos can definitely last a child through two winters, if not more! (Another advantage over standard jackets.) Here's our daughter S sporting hers back in February (14-15 months old) - indeed it was quite blanket-like, draping down almost to the floor.

And here she is now, at 22 months. She's still getting close to full-body coverage, so will be able to wear it for many months longer. It remains in great shape too after several washes.

View more information on Jeni Lynn Designs and read my complete review of the Precious Car-N-Go Poncho here.

Buy It:

Want a Precious Car-N-Go Poncho of your own? Or how about some totally adorable leg warmers or practical shirt saver bibs? Shop for these and many other great hand-made baby & child products at Jeni Lynn Designs! (Note: Etsy policies apply to all purchases.)

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a Precious Car-N-Go Poncho of their own! Open to Canada and the United States.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided to the winner by Jeni Lynn Designs.  I received no financial compensation for offering this giveaway.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Teeming with #2: Week 32 update!

Check it out - I actually managed to snag my 32-week belly pic at exactly 32 weeks. Go me!

People I run into these days are starting to ask when I'm due in that certain tone suggesting they believe it could be any day now. C'mon, I'm not THAT big yet - am I?! :)

Right on schedule, I'm gaining about 1 lb/week for a current weight of just under 140 lbs. Assuming this continues I'll be about 148 if I go full-term - right around where I ended up last time. Little Man's supposed to be somewhere in the 3.75 lb neighborhood right now, but I feel like he's a li'l heftier than that. My belly is SOLID and it's ALL BABY! My midwife said that a woman's own judgment on size (compared to previously pregnancies) tends to be more accurate than fundal height measurements and even possibly ultrasound - in which case, crap, I'm probably gonna end up with a 10+ pounder! :O (On the topic of fundal height, I measured 31 cm during yesterday's appt so right on track there.) Other stuff's good too - blood pressure nice & low (100/51), urine's OK (just a li'l protein again but nothing worrisome), baby's heart rate is measuring a solid 148 bpm and he's now in the "proper" head-first position. I'm still on iron supplements as my hemoglobin continues to be down (103; slightly up from the 102 last time) so this is really the only area of concern right now.

Thankfully, I continue to feel quite good physically, mentally and emotionally as well. I'm getting pooped out more quickly now than I did in my 2nd trimey and still have the lovely nose & bladder issues, but other unpleasant stuff I experienced when pregnant with S at this stage (raging heartburn, copious drooling on my pillow, etc.) haven't really kicked in (yet). Speaking of kicking, the little guy has really been showing off some moves recently, providing my husband and I with ample entertainment as we watch and feel my belly jerk around and take on different shapes!

The biggest challenge we're currently facing for the upcoming weeks is unrelated to my pregnancy itself - it's getting the logistics in place for Little Man's arrival. Ideally, we'll finish the basement (including our new office) first and then convert the current office into S' new room so LM can move right into the nursery, but we may need to tackle the office conversion first as the contractor we hired for the basement hasn't been able to commit to a completion date. In this case, we won't have a "proper" office for a period of time, which sucks since we both work from home. But we'll make do.

Let's see - what else? Well, I'm looking forward to a few upcoming date nights w/ Chris (including a from scratch "pasta perfection" cooking class - yum!!!) and other fun adult-centric events over the next few weeks as there won't be many of these for awhile once our newest family member arrives! I should also get around to some of the labour/birth prep exercises (physical and mental/emotional) I did last time with S and re-read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth as I'm shooting for another med-free birth. I'm hoping all the techniques I learned previously for coping with labour will automatically kick in again this time (like riding a bike? :) but probably a good idea to actively reinforce everything, right?

Oh, and if you didn't see my recent FB update on the topic, I recently got Pinterest-y and created a board dedicated to Pregnancy Must Haves (and Must Dos)! Whatcha think? Curious - do you have any "must haves" of your own which didn't make my list?

Alright, time to grab the daughts next door from daycare. Hope you all have a lovely weekend! <3

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly Excitement!

Last weekend we took a trip to the GreenWay Blooming Center where our daughter got super-excited by all the butterflies in the conservatory, repeatedly proclaiming "there's another one!!" with great exuberance. For over a week after our visit, she kept talking about the "butterfly eye" (the owl butterflies with giant eyespots on their wings). The best $2 we've spent in a long time! :)

Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diaper & Wool Cover from Babee Greens: Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

Our daughter (S) has had some challenges with diaper rash over the past several months (presumably due to a combo of factors including sensitive skin, an increasingly varied diet and warmer summer temperatures). Due to this, I've gravitated toward natural, breathable options for cloth diapering (particularly at night) and in my search, stumbled upon Babee Greens. Browsing their website, I was quickly impressed by the company's values and line of products, which can be summed up by their mission statement:

At Babee Greens our mission is to provide a safe, economical and green diaper alternative.  We are committed to setting a new standard that helps our global community reverse the negative effects diaper manufacturing has had on our environment, in order to create  “A Better World for Babies.”

Babee Greens uses only the highest quality, organic, eco-friendly fibers in its cloth diapering products and abides by safe and ethical manufacturing standards, plus all products are made in the USA. Learn more about the company's values here. You can check out the Babee Greens Eco-Blog as well to view informative articles on cloth diapering and other eco-friendly topics.

I've had the pleasure of reviewing two cloth diapering products from Babee Greens - their Organic Greens Organic Cotton Diaper and their Wool Diaper Cover.

Product Information - Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diaper:

Price per Unit (piece): $19.95 

Growing Greens is our original one size diaper, fitting most babies 5-35 lbs. The two part diaper system is constructed entirely from the softest fleece knit, 100% unbleached cotton thread and natural rubber elastic.

Our unique non-PVC, hypoallergenic snap system offers wide adjustment for thigh and back allowing a custom fit. The functionality of the two part snap in design creates a trim, multi-fit diaper that enables a thorough cleanse and quick drying time.

Each Growing Greens diaper includes our unique contour that features an umbilical cord cutout to promote healing for those first few weeks. Used alone, contours will fit newborns 5-10 lbs. As your baby grows, use the fitted diaper alone with the front folded down, customizing the rise and exposing a hidden row of snaps fitting 10-18 lbs. For toddlers, 18-35 lbs., Growing Greens can be used with the snap in contour for increased absorbency.  A doubler can be added for night or naptime.

The elastic waist works well into the potty training stage.  It allows toddlers to pull the diaper up and down themselves.

Cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world next to coffee. Babee Greens
organic cotton diapers are made from organic cotton responsibly grown and milled in the U.S.A, without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, so you’re putting the softest and best fabric possible next to your baby’s skin.

$19.95 each

Product Information - Wool Diaper Cover:

Price per Unit (piece): $34.95

We make our wool covers upcycling sweaters that we hand select with softness for your baby in mind.  Each cover is lined with Oeko Tex 100 certified Merino Wool and has a 100% cotton interfacing in the wings and front (to hold the snaps securly in place).   The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a globally uniform testing and certification system for all stages of textile production. This certification ensures that products are free from harmful substances. There is no finer certification than the Oeko-Tex Standard 100. It goes beyond the organic label!

Each cover is one of a kind.  Three rows of snaps provide an adjustable fit to accomodate your growing baby.  Wool is highly absorbent. It will absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and is slow to feel damp, yet remains breathable, allowing maximum circulation around your baby's bum. It contains natural lanolin, which creates a waterproof barrier. Its elasticity means the cover fits well, yet moves with your baby. Wool is easy to care for. It doesn't need to be washed as often as other covers and it is naturally anti-bacterial.

Hand wash and hang to dry.  Use lanolin in the rinse to keep them waterproof.

Small      8 - 18 lbs.

Medium  15 - 25 lbs.
Large      20 - 35 lbs.

Please specify Boy, Girl or gender neutral for color and S, M, or L in the comment section at checkout or call for current color selection.

My Review:

For review purposes, I received one Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diaper and one Wool Diaper Cover (large size, warm brown shade).

I was immediately thrilled by the softness and high-quality feel of both items. So far, so good!

First, I got to work understanding the sizing system for the cotton diaper. Babee Greens thoughtfully included the following quick & easy-to-follow guide:

On the small size (5-10 pounds), the snap-in contour is used alone inside a well-fitting cover. I tried it inside a cover intended for about 8-16 pounds and it fit pretty nicely, though I did need to fold the one end slightly. Notice the newborn umbilical cord cutout at the front, though note that a cover would need to have this feature as well to take advantage. Once the stump has fallen off, the front end of the contour could be folded insted of the back to provide a little more absorbency where it's needed the most. 

Next, the medium size (10-15 pounds). At this size, the diaper is used alone without the contour, and the front is folded down to expose a hidden set of snaps.

The diaper is then secured at the most appropriate setting using the wing snaps. Two cross-over snap settings are available for thinner babies.


Finally, the large size (15-35 pounds). At this final size, the diaper and contour are used together. The contour snaps in so it stays in place. Cleverly, it attaches to the same row of snaps that are used to secure the wings on the medium size. Very cool!

The diaper features soft, stretchy elastic around the legs and the back of the waist. The front is not elasticized, but still has a little stretch from the natural cotton fibres.

Next up - the merino wool cover. First of all, did I mention how super-soft it is? I did? Well, it bears repeating as this is some lush, luxurious wool, folks. Definitely not the prickly stuff stereotypical of grandma's old cardigans! 

This is a sized cover, so it has only a single rise setting, however it features three sets of double-row snaps on each size to get that ideal fit.

The inner is every bit as soft 'n' snuggly as the outer.

Similar to the cotton diaper, the cover is elasticized at the legs and the back of the waist.

A benefit of the snap closure design (vs. pull-up wool variants) is that this cover can be worn with a trifolded prefold, if preferred over a fitted diaper or snappi'd prefold. Of course on the flipside, this also adds a bit of time/complexity to the changing process.

To prep the diaper, I simply washed it twice along with my regular diaper laundry. To prep the cover, I washed it using a gentle wool wash and then lanolized it to increase its water resistance. Nice & easy! The snap-in contour did get slightly bunchy around the edges after washing, but nothing that should affect performance nor comfort.

My favourite part of a cloth diaper review is getting all those great shots of the diaper (and/or cover) in action. It's becoming a bit challenging now that we have such an active toddler, but no less fun (and can result in some interesting and entertaining photos! :)

First, the diaper itself. Our daughter (22 months and 22 pounds - funny that!) is well into the large size, so she's wearing the diaper unfolded with the contour snapped in. She's on the thin side and somewhere between the looser cross-over snap setting and the first "un-crossed" setting. Since the cotton material is somewhat stretchy, the settings are forgiving and both currently work pretty well. Here's a shot from the front, with the diaper on the looser of these two settings:

And here's one from the back. Notice the nice, trim fit.

The diaper achieves a pretty snug fit against her thighs. When worn alone, it does start sagging/gapping somewhat over time (and lots of active play), however in practice this wouldn't be an issue as the diaper would generally be worn with a cover to keep everything in place.


Adding the cover on top, we have one cute li'l tushy indeed! The complete system is snuggly soft, well-fitting and even relatively trim (especially compared to other fitted diaper/cover systems I have tried).

Notice here we have the top snap at a different setting than the bottom snap. Our daughter's waist is (proportionately) a little thinner than her thighs, so this particular alignment works the best for her. Notice there is no resulting bunchiness and/or gaping, which we'd likely see if we tried this on a stiffer cover.

Finally, I'm happy to report that the diaper/cover combo stayed perfectly in place - it even endured try-outs for the Toddler Olympics! :)

Both diaper and cover are easy to put on - even when battling an ultra-squirmy and resitant toddler! The stretchiness of the material allows the fit to be quite forgiving (even if you don't quite get the setting you're aiming for!) and the snaps are easy to attach but snug enough that they don't inadvertently come loose. The snap-in aspect of the contour is helpful as it keeps things in place.

During our testing period, S has worn her Babee Greens cotton diaper / wool cover combo mainly overnight and it's performed exceptionally well! We've experienced no leaks during the 7-8 times she's worn it so far. Admittedly she isn't a super-heavy wetter, but the diaper could have easily held additional moisture each time so it certainly has appreciable absorbency. The system contains messes very well too; we had a few poopy diapers during our testing, and only one (a huge, smushy incident!) got out of the diaper a little bit and onto the cover, but didn't make it any further.

As for our daughter's poor, tender skin (during her particularly rashy periods), we've found that this diaper combo at worst doesn't exacerbate things, and at best helps her skin look & feel a little better each time she wears it. Two thumbs way up, as this has been such an uphill battle for us!

The diaper and cover are both straightforward to care for. The diaper is machine washable and can either be machine or air dried. (I prefer machine drying as the material stays softer this way.) Messes spray off quite readily as well. Wool requires specialized care - e.g. need to handwash, lay flat to dry and lanolize periodically - but once you get the hang of things it's actually quite simple. The Babee Greens wool cover is no exception, and I find it even dries a little more quickly than the average wool cover which is a nice plus.

Durability-wise, I'm very impressed so far. Aside from the slight bunchiness I already noted with the contour, the diaper remains in perfect shape after 7-8 wearings/washes, and the cover looks good as new following the same number of wearings and 3 washes. I have every reason to believe that both parts will last through the remainder of our daughter's diaper wearing days, and then serve our little man-to-be from birth to potty training as well!

Here is my official evaluation of the Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diaper & Upcycled Wool Sweater Cover used together as a 2-part diapering system!

+ Totally soft and adorable. I couldn't take enough pictures of our li'l monkey's tushy in this combo! :)
+ Side snaps add a unique touch
+ Relatively trim (compared to your average fitted diaper / wool cover combo)
+/- Available colour selections vary due to "one of a kind" nature - which could be considered either awesome or a little frustrating if you're looking for a particular colour and it's not currently available.
Score: 5/5 (since I'm personally a fan of the "one-of-a-kind" factor :)

+ Very absorbent; no leaks over 7-8 night diapering trials.
+ System contains messes very well
+ Snap settings on both diaper and cover are very flexible, allowing the perfect fit on babies of all sizes
Score: 5/5

Comfort & Health:
+ Cotton/merino wool combo results in an extremely breathable system and has been very gentle on our daughter's sensitive skin
+ 100% organic cotton (in the diaper) ensures little one's not being exposed to pesticides
+ Combo achieves a snug (but not pinching) leg and tummy fit   
+ System is VERY soft & stretchy; must feel nice on baby's skill, and no marks left behind when removed
Score: 5/5

Ease of Use:
+ Diaper is easy to put on. The snap-in contour, stretchy materials and snug but not-too-tight snaps are helpful here.
+ Diaper is simple to care for - easy spray-down, machine wash, machine dry or hang.
+/- Waist snaps allow cover to be worn with a trifolded prefold, however also adds a bit of time/complexity vs. pull-up variants
+/- Wool requires special care - e.g. need to handwash and lanolize periodically - but simple once you get the hang of it. Cover dries a bit quicker than average.
Score: 4/5

Quality & Durability:
+ Babee Greens takes great care to select the highest quality, organic materials for its diapers and covers, and it shows.
+ Both diaper and cover are extremely well-constructed; no loose seams or other imperfections 
+ Snaps on both diaper and cover are sewn in nice & tight
+ Both parts of system are holding up well and retaining softness after multiple washes
- Snap-in contour got slightly bunchy around the edges after washing, but nothing that should affect performance nor comfort.
- Score: 4.5/5 


Total "Diaper Awesomeness" Score: 23.5 / 25 (Pretty much a perfect diaper. Go out there and buy some NOW! :)
Overall Comments: The Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diaper + Upcycled Merino Wool Cover combo from Babee Greens is a wonderful diapering system, particularly for babies with sensitive skin and/or parents striving to find the greenest, highest-quality materials for their little ones' tushies. This system is super-absorbent, breathable, easy to use and totally adorable to boot. Highly recommended!

Approximate Stash Cost: $758.50 to 1129.85.
Calculation details: At $19.95 each, 24 Growing Greens Organic Cotton Diapers cost $478.80. Wool diaper covers cost $34.95 and come in 3 size ranges. Assuming 6 covers at each size, this adds another $629.10. However since the diapers hold in messes so well and wool doesn't need to be washed as often as other covers, 4 at each size may be sufficient, for an additional $419.40. If you really want to be frugal, you could try skipping the medium size and just do 4 small and 4 large, for an additional $279.60. Our daughter does fine with the diaper and cover alone, however super heavy-wetting babies may need some overnight doublers ($21.95 for a 6-pack.)


Buy It:

Babee Greens products can be purchased directly from the company website or from select 3rd party retailers. Babee Greens offers free shipping in the United States on order of $100 or more.

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a Babee Greens "Growing Greens" Organic Cotton Diaper of their own! Open to Canada and the United States.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid. 

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