Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Original Baby Ankees™ from Innovative Mommas: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

Every parent is familiar with that oh-so-annoying sleeper situation, where poor baby's feet get stuck up in no man's land inside the legs. Not fun for your little one, and certainly not amusing for mom & dad, fiddling to get things back in place for the umpteenth time! Thankfully, Innovative Mommas Inc, a small company based in Edmonton, Alberta, has set out to solve this problem with a nifty li'l product called the original Baby Ankees™!

Product Information:

The original Baby Ankees™ are a safe and soft seamless band that easily slides overtop of the child's foot while they're wearing footed and non-footed pyjamas. The ankees rest easily and comfortably around the ankle area.

Parents of preemies can dress their tiny babes in sleepers without the worry of their legs getting caught inside. Newborns can wear the newborn sized sleepers, and then grow into them. Parents and caregivers will be happy knowing that their sleeping babies will wake up happy. Babies will be able to move through the night and not get stuck. Toddlers can explore their world safely without tripping over their feet.

We have followed all the guidelines set forth through Health Canada and have completed a successful flammability test. The original Baby Ankees™ are as safe as a pair of socks.

Baby Ankees come in three sizes:
Small: fits preemies (4 to 6 pounds)
Medium: fits babies (newborn to 7 months)
Large: fits older babies and toddlers (8 to 36 months)

More product info can be found here.

My Review:

When Innovative Mommas contacted me to review their Baby Ankees, the timing couldn't have been better! I'd just given birth to CJ two days prior and was already lamenting the fact that his newborn "froggy legs" were constantly kicking out of his teeny little sleepers. So needless to say, I was hot to trot to give these puppies a try!

I received a pair of medium Baby Ankees in a gender-neutral blue colour. Cute packaging, huh?

Visually, the Ankees kind of look like the hair scrunchies that were ubiquitous in the '90s, but wider.

The elastic inside is quite tight, allowing the band to stretch by only an inch or so. This ensures that the Ankees stay in place. Despite the tightness, however, there's no risk of circulation issues (an initial concern expressed by my husband) as long as the usage guidelines are followed. Basically the Ankees need to sit smoothly (i.e. without any material folded under), and a finger must fit comfortably between the Ankee and baby's ankle. If things are tighter, it's time to move up to the next size.

It's super quick and easy to get the Ankees on. Simply pop 'em over baby's feet and ensure the material's sitting flat, as per the guidelines.

Performance-wise, these bad boys certainly work as designed! Once secured, baby's little kickers ain't going anywhere.

I find our Ankees to be the most helpful when paired with sleepers our little guy is growing into and those with disproportionately long legs. Add to the mix elasticized ankles and/or far apart snap placement and such sleepers are virtually unwearable without the Ankees! The former results in feet that can kick up but not back down again, and the latter leads to poor little tootsies poking right out into the cold. Pop on the Ankees, though, and all is right with the world! :)

Here's our little guy in a "next size up" sleeper. As you can see, his right foot's nice & secure with an Ankee but his left foot is swimming.

"Mama, please add on my other Ankee! Thank you - much better!"


Here our little froggy's kicking up a storm, and his Ankees keep his feet where they're supposed to be!

Finally, a shot of our little guy dealing with the dreaded combo of roomy sleeper and elasticized ankles. Looks like he's missing a foot - ouch!!!

Pop on his Ankees and problem solved!

As for care and maintenance, the Ankees are machine washable and dryable. I've laundered mine a couple times on low heat and they've come out just fine.

Overall, the original Baby Ankees™ is definitely a product that'll save a little time and sanity for parents, and add comfort and flexibility to a little one's wardrobe. I can certainly vouch for this personally when it comes to infants, and (based on other reviews) it sounds like they're equally helpful for crawlers and new walkers.

Buy It:

Visit the Where to Buy page to find an online store or retailer in your area which sells the original Baby Ankees™.

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a pair of the original Baby Ankees™ of their own! Winner chooses size and colour (gender-specific or gender-neutral). Open to CAN/US.

To enter, 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 and shipped to the winner by Innovative Mommas Inc.  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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warp Speed Mama Mode!

Y'know what I find empowering? Challenging myself to complete certain tasks in an insanely short period of time (and ideally succeeding)! I like to call this Warp Speed Mama Mode. :) Some mamas appear to be on warp speed 24/7, and that's just not my overall style - nor do I think it would be healthy! But I do like to employ this technique periodically, partcularly when I'm feeling sluggish and/or I need a reminder just how quickly I can get things done when I set my mind to it! It's definitely a confidence and energy builder!

I most commonly go into WSMM to tackle day-to-day housekeeping tasks. Dishes, laundry, that sort of thing. I give myself, say, 30 minutes and try to tick everything off on a task list (or x number of items) within that timeframe. This accomplishes two things: it lessens the drudgery of these repetitive tasks, and also reduces the time spent doing them, freeing up valuable minutes for more meaningful and gratifying activities. Earlier this afternoon my husband told me there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks I could take a 7-minute shower (as this is something I normally spend a good 15 indulgent minutes on!) so I Showed Him. Not only did I shower in the allotted timeframe but I undressed and dressed within it too, for good measure. (Upon claiming victory, he tried to "get me" by pointing out my contact lenses weren't in, but this wasn't part of the agreement! :)

Now I feel all pumped to get other things done today at warp speed! It's 3:00 now; think I can publish this blog post, tidy the main floor, wash the dishes, fold and put away two loads of laundry, change a diaper, make a shopping list and go grocery shopping with the little guy before we pick up his sister at 4:15? Just watch me! :)

Do you like to go into warp speed mode and/or give yourself timed challenges? What types of tasks do you challenge yourself with?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CJ at 2 months: Mr. Happy!

There's no question - at 2 months, CJ's the definition of an "easy baby"! He nurses and sleeps well, soothes easily and is one smiley, chatty little monkey!

(I know - "Knock on wood" you're all thinking! ;)

Official 2 Month Photo:

(Compare with his 1 Month Photo here.)

Physical Development:  

Weight: 10 lb 10 oz (just under 50th percentile)
Height: 23" (just over 50th percentile)
Head circumference: 15 1/2"

CJ's growth so far has been very similar to S's - large at birth and then slow but steady gain. He's probably not going to be a huge dude - which is OK, because national champion curlers don't need all that extra bulk. ;) Though poor little guy has the tiniest little chicken legs! This has evoked great amusement - particularly from his Granda and the nurses administering his 2 months shots. (As if he didn't have enough to deal with that day!) Lemme tell ya though - those li'l kickers are STRONG! I don't remember bum changes being so difficult early on with S!

He's now able to hold his head up for 20-30 seconds at a time, though he greatly prefers to do this when held upright. He's not a fan of tummy time so far!

His hand movements are starting to become more coordinated. For example, he likes to bat at the octopus in his Baby Neptune gym and will sometimes grab ahold of its handle for awhile. He's also able to find his hand pretty readily when he needs a quick oral fix (usually when Mommy's running after big sis!)

Cognitive, Social & Emotional Development:

Month 2 has rewarded us with virtually non-stop smiles and the most charming and adorable vocalizations! CJ's definitely a "people-baby" - if he's getting face time, he's one happy li'l camper! (And on the flipside, he often expresses his displeasure when left alone with nothing to do!)

He definitely knows who his Mommy is! He visually tracks me as I move around the room, and if there are a few people looking at him he tends to lock in on me. Love!

Generally speaking, he only cries for the standard reasons - hungry, tired, bored or in need of a bum change. This makes "troubleshooting" pretty straightforward. :)

Here's a 2-month vid of CJ grinning, chatting, laughing and showing his octopus who's boss!


Day time naps are still all over the board. One day he'll just snatch a couple 30-40 minute catnaps and the next he'll conk out for the better part of the day. (Usually when we're out and about. Car rides and busy environments tend to knock him out cold.) But holy macaroni he's an amazing night sleeper! He goes 4-7 hours straight for the first stretch every night. Yup I know - double knock on wood for this one! ;)

Adjusting as a Family:

Things are definitely getting easier with two little ones as time goes on. In my last CJ update, I mentioned I'd yet to get out alone with both kids. Happily, we've broken that seal! I've taken them to drop ins at the community center, family swims, out playing in the snow and other places/activities. And we had our first "official" family trip to Great Wolf Lodge!

Daily routines are beginning to take shape as well, though there are a number of remaining "who's doing what, and when" questions to sort out between Chris and me, especially since he works from home which blurs the lines between work and non-work time. I'm getting lots of experience managing the bedtime process alone since Chris curls 2 nights each week. It's challenging since there are obviously a lot of things to do for S (bath, brush teeth, final pee, night diaper, PJs, book(s), help her burn off her post-bath crazy person energy) and meanwhile, this is when CJ wants to cluster feed. I multitask where I can, but almost invariably end up leaving the little guy crying somewhere while I finish his sister's routine.

S has been pretty good with CJ recently. She's mostly lovey and gentle with him, giving him lots of kisses and cuddles, bringing him blankets and toys, etc., but will sometimes still use rough hands (when she's tired and/or seeking attention). So we try to strike that balance between letting them bond and, y'know, keeping the little guy out of the emergency room!

Got any tips to make bedtime and other routines easier with an infant and a toddler? I'd love to hear 'em!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Do you love bacon? Or more specifically, do you like to wrap stuff in bacon? :) Got a favourite recipe?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: V-Day Treat!

30-Day Creative Kid Challenge! #ckchallenge

With another month or two of cold weather still on deck, I've been gathering ideas for fun crafts and activities I can share with my 26-month-old daughter S. She's at such a wonderful age for learning, exploring and experimenting and the last thing I want her to feel is bored and unstimulated during the long hours we're spending indoors! (As a fringe benefit, this may also dissuade her from laying the smack down on her baby brother ;) )

I've already uncovered a bunch of cool projects to try with her, from homemade lava lamps to bath tub science and I'm sure I've just scratched the surface, as Pinterest is proving to be a goldmine for creative kid awesomeness! All this has motivated me to challenge myself and try out a new creative craft or activity with S each day for 30 days straight.

Here are the rules I'm following for this challenge!
  • Each day of the challenge must have a different craft/activity
  • A maximum of 5 activities can be familiar (i.e. ones I have tried out before)
  • Activities must allow the child to participate directly
  • Activities must be safe and use non-toxic materials
  • Activities must involve creativity beyond simply using a commercial product as designed. For example, putting together a beaded jewelry box using a beaded jewelry box construction kit doesn't count! That said, commercial products can be used to supplement a more involved creative activity (e.g. Playdoh).  

I will share each day's activity on FB and Twitter (using the hashtag #ckchallenge), and blog about our experience when the challenge is over! Also, I will be continuously adding to my Creative Toddler Activities Pinterest board to fuel my inspiration! :)

Who's up for taking the 30-Day Creative Kid Challenge with me? Do you have any suggestions for toddler-friendly crafts or activities that would be fun to include?

(Note: I will be starting this challenge today (February 12) however feel free to start whenever this works for you!)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cloth Pads from Goddess Moons: Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

Goddess Moons is a shop based in Vancouver which specializes in hand made cloth menstrual pads, panty liners and postpartum products. The owner, Melissa, firmly believes that the time for cloth pads to be accepted by the masses is long overdue, as cloth is more comfortable, cooler, healthier, affordable and economical, and safer to the environment.

I discovered Goddess Moons while searching for Canadian mama cloth retailers (as part of my quest to try different types of cloth during my latest postpartum period) and was impressed by the variety of sizes and styles offered as well as the company's drive to build awareness of cloth as an alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products. Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear back directly from Melissa who generously offered to send me a variety of samples to review!

I received four pads and two inserts, all in the Wildside Goddess style (one of eight beautiful themes available). I was particularly eager to try out the samples with the inserts, as this was the first time I'd come across this mama cloth feature.

Two of the samples are from their regular range, and two are from their new Stronger range which was developed to meet the needs of women passionate about using cloth, but who feel that their flow is far beyond the capabilities of cloth alone.

Goddess Moon wings have pockets at both ends designed to hold inserts in place. They are approximately 9 inches long by 5 1/2 inches wide, and are formed with 2 layers of flannel and a core of organic cotton/bamboo batting.

Goddess Moon Inserts are approximately 8 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide.

  • a heavy flow insert is made from 1 layer of flannel, 4 layers of organic cotton/bamboo batten, and one layer of 100% cotton.

Night Time Pads are approximately 12 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide, and contain 1 layer of flannel, 4 layers of organic cotton/bamboo batting, and 1 layer of 100% cotton.


Goddess Moon Stronger wings have pockets at both ends designed to hold inserts in place. They are approximately 12 inches long by 6 inches wide, and are formed with 2 layers of flannel and a core of organic cotton/bamboo batting. Goddess Moon Stronger inserts are approximately 11 inches long by 3 inches wide.

  • a Stronger insert is made from 1 layer of flannel, 4 layers of organic cotton/bamboo batten, and one layer of 100% cotton.  It also has a backing of PUL (polyurethane laminate).


Stronger night time pads are approximately 13.5 inches long by 8 inches wide (including wings), and contain 1 layer of flannel, 4 layers of organic cotton/bamboo batten, and 1 layer of 100% cotton.  They also have a backing of PUL (polyurethane laminate).  PUL should not be ironed as it will reduce its water-resistance.

All of these samples share the following care guidelines: 

When washing and drying, avoid high temperatures and avoid the use of softeners, whiteners or any other unnecessary additives.

My Review:

First things first - I love the animal print patterns in the samples I received! Very unique and attractive. From a tactile standpoint, both the flannel and cotton surfaces of all pads are pleasant to the touch, with the cotton having a cool feel. The night pads and inserts feel spongey when pressed, due to the layers of cotton/bamboo batting in each one. Melissa mentioned that the use of batting allows for better airflow than thinner, denser pads on the market, though it also results in a little extra girth.

I checked the initial measurements of all pads and inserts, and each was within 1/2" of its product description (or matched exactly) so this was good to see! I decided to prep along with my cloth diaper laundry which admittedly went against the recommended guideline to avoid high temperatures (as my CD routine involves one hot wash cycle). As a result, the pads and inserts shrank a little (1/4" to 3/4" for each measurement) which had me concerned they would no longer fit right. Indeed, the snapped together width did become a little narrower causing the fabric of my underwear to fold over a bit in the middle, however thankfully this didn't appear to affect comfort nor performance. (More on this in a bit.) All in all, I'd say my own personal preference is to wash on hot and endure some shrinkage as I like the sanitization factor of a li'l heat, however if maintaining the pre-wash sizing is super-important to you, you'd obviously want to follow the recommended guidelines.

Back to comfort. First, these pads definitely feel much nicer than disposables - no question there! The added thickness can be noticed compared to trimmer cloth pads, however it's not really an unpleasant feeling. The pads feel "pillowy" as opposed to just thick and bulky; again, presumably due to the inner batting. The night time postpartum pad does feel quite large, however there's no getting around this. It's all about function in this case, right ladies? :) Second, once snapped these pads stay in place really well. The only slight shifting I noticed was with the day pad, which appears to secure a little looser allowing it to move up and down a bit at times with moderate activity. This may have just been my own sample, however.

Performance-wise, these pads (and inserts) are awesome! They all appear to draw liquid lengthwise so it stays aways from the outer edges, which is key. The three largest samples (particularly the Stronger night time pad) can hold a heck of a lot of flow. I wore each of these at least once overnight during my first two weeks postpartum and didn't have a single leak. The Stronger night time pad could have probably held 2-3 times the amount so would definitely be an option for those with very heavy postpartum or menstrual flow. I'd even feel comfortable next time around (if there is a next time!) wearing it the very first night postpartum. Seriously!!

A little more on the design of the two day pads. The 2-part system is pretty neat! The base pad can be used alone as a panty liner to handle very light flow, or with an insert to add more protection. For the regular day pads, Goddess Moons offers both light flow inserts (with 2 layers of batting) and heavy flow inserts (with 4 layers of batting), so protection can be customized as applicable. The day pads in the Stronger line come with heavy flow inserts exclusively. Similar to all-in-two cloth diapers, if an insert alone gets soiled you can replace it with a clean one and reuse the base pad. This approach is more cost-effective as you can stock up on inserts and purchase fewer "shells". That said, my own personal preference is to wash both the base pad and insert together when the insert gets soiled, but I'm a bit Type A about these things. :)

All in all, Goddess Moons certainly offers some nifty mama cloth options! Their pads are breathable, perform well, allow for customized protection (via the 2-part system) and come in an array of lovely patterns. I recommend the Stronger line in particular for postpartum and strong menstrual flow. This is some heavy-duty cloth!! I also applaud the company for their commitment to spreading awareness of mama cloth as a greener alternative to disposable products. As for drawbacks, the pads are prone to shrinkage when exposed to heat (though they remain entirely wearable) and they're a bit on the bulky side, but these criticisms are minor. Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend Goddess Moons for those venturing into mama cloth, or looking to expand their collections!

Buy It:

You can purchase Goddess Moons cloth menstrual pads, postpartum products and other accessories directly from their website or via several third party retailers. Use the special discount code m2mgm on their website and receive 10% off your order! (Good until March 8, 2013.)

Win It: 

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a 4-pack of panty liners from Goddess Moons! Winner chooses from among available styles. Open worldwide!

To enter, 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 and shipped to the winner by Goddess Moons.  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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: First Trip to Great Wolf Lodge!

Has your family been to Great Wolf Lodge? What are you and your children's favourite activities there?