The Leaky Boob Launches Product Review Program

by Jessica Martin-Weber

One of the best parts of The Leaky Boob community is the diversity of experiences.  No two stories or perspectives are exactly alike.  From breastfeeding to returning to work to our birth stories and introducing solids, our journeys are varied and complex.  When it comes to talking about products, this is even more apparent.  One person’s trash is another’s treasure.  What my family couldn’t live without, yours may find completely worthless.  It’s not unusual for me to be asked for my opinion or if I have written a review about a specific product.  The truth is I don’t really like writing reviews.  Some are a lot of fun and some, well, aren’t.  If I actually get the chance to write though, I don’t usually want to write about a product, it’s just not a creative or inspiring outlet for me.  Yet within our community be it here, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we often discuss topics that extend way beyond breastfeeding including various products and I discovered I am often giving casual, on the spot reviews anyway.  That doesn’t bother me, it’s just a conversation, but it hit me that even though I don’t care to write reviews, people are looking for them and because they already trust TLB as part of their community, it makes sense for them to seek that resource here.

Plus, there are so many great products out there from companies that truly support and value families.  Wanting to connect the parents looking and the companies with the product through honest, unbiased perspectives, we began discussing what it could look like.  With that, The Leaky Boob Review Program was born.  Believing that for a review to be unbiased, the reviewer needed to not fear that they would receive backlash from the company if they were critical.  Talking with Jeremy and then Amy West, we determined that we wanted to pay our reviewers independently so not only would they receive the product, they would be compensated for taking the time to evaluate and write a thorough review of the product, free of any pressure to make the company happy.  Continuing the approach to reviews already established on TLB, reviewers would go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of each product, to be as objective and trustworthy as possible.  Our reviewers were hand-selected by Jeremy and me and represent some of the diversity we see within The Leaky Boob community, communicate clearly in written word, and are able to give objective feedback on their experience with a product.  Being parents first, all of our reviewers are able to evaluate a product as any other parent would, not based on insider knowledge of the baby industry (both a handicap and an advantage) and would use it as any parent new to a product would.  Each new review launched in our review program is covered by at least 2 of the writers to provide 2 perspectives right off the bat and we encourage anyone to ask questions in the comments section of each review and anyone with experience with that particular product to comment on the review sharing their own personal experience review as well.  Together we will grow a resource of trusted, diverse reviews reflecting a wide variety of opinions and experiences.  Our review writers include a mom of 2 (preschooler and infant at the time of this writing), a husband and wife with 4 children (ages 6, 4, 2, and infant), a new first time mom of an infant, and occasionally parents of 6 and creators of The Leaky Boob, Jeremy or me.  Check out their bios here and get to know them through their reviews.

We’re going to continue our primary focus on supporting families in feeding their children, specifically when it comes to breastfeeding and breastmilk.  This new development won’t be taking anything away from our core purpose, merely adding to it.  In true TLB style, it’s more than just us, this new extension of our community will greatly depend on the input and connections shared in your own personal stories and support.

Help us make this a useful resource for you and others.  What products would you like to see reviewed?  How would you like our reviews to be different from others you have seen?  Please tell us what is important to you in a review.

I’m excited to see TLB grow in this way.  We’ve already been doing it, we’re just making it TLB official.

~Jessica

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Kiss and make up and wear babies! Beco Soleil giveaway

Beco Soleil giveaway

My 10yo wearing 11mo Sugarbaby in the Beco Soleil

Remember the Beco Soleil carrier drama?  Well, it all worked out!  (See the FB status from them.)  The good people at Beco were very easy to work with and just all around great and want to get these carriers into your hands.  Even though the Soleil isn’t officially release or available for sale anywhere, Beco wants 10 lucky people to have them, the winners will be the first people under the sun to have the Beco Soleil.  Sweet!

I got to give this carrier a try and I liked it.  A snapshot look at the differences between the Soleil and the Gemini:  the Soliel can’t face outward but can do back/front/hip carries. It’s an open carrier like the Gemini (no panel between baby and the wearer). The back doesn’t come up AS high but it is still very supportive. The Soliel has an accessory pack you can customize for coordinating prints, etc. with a detachable bag that covers that middle print panel (so switch out prints, try a solid, AND have a place to hold your stuff), a hood, etc. It has a nice wide seat with padded legs supporting baby and toddlers much better, a pocket on the waist belt, and more adjustable options for improved comfort in the fit. The retail on both is $130, the Soleil also has an option accessory pack available for purchase.  Comfortable and easy to use, I think this is a great carrier choice, whether it would be your only carrier or one of many.

Since I’ll be asked, yes I could breastfeed in the Soleil though it took some work to figure out.  The seat is so well constructed to keep baby high that dropping down to breastfeed wasn’t as easy as it is in the Gemini.  Moms with very large or low hanging breasts may have some difficulty.

Some quick details on the Soleil:

  • It’s not available until next month, the winners of these giveaways will be the first to get their hands on this new carrier.
  • 3 carry positions: front, hip, and back.
  • Built-in waist belt pocket, key and toy ring
  • Carries 7-45lbs
  • Carrier weight 1.1lbs
  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Seat: 16″ and 17″ tall
  • Shoulder straps extending from 18″ to 45″
  • Waist belt extending from 27″ to 59″
  • Recommended fit for adults 5′ to 6′ 5″
  • Compatible accessories: hood, drool pads, infant insert, carry-all

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway, for one Soliel carrier and you can enter here AND over at The Baby Guy.  These giveaways are open to US and Canada residents only.  Thanks for participating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What’s green and white and safe all over? Clek Foonf Review

 Full disclosure: Clek is an active TLB sponsor at the time of writing this review.  I do not receive any financial compensation for any of my reviews, the product is all I receive so I can review it.  The financial sponsorship of Clek for TLB has no bearing on my review and I will share my honest opinion of their product, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If, at any time, being open and honest with my readers does not work for a sponsor and they choose to withdraw their support of breastfeeding mothers through sponsoring The Leaky Boob, I would rather they move on anyway.  My readers can trust that this review is free of any manipulation or effort to preserve my relationship with Clek.  
Disclaimer: I am not a child passenger safety technician or any kind of car seat expert.  I’m simply a mom of 6 kids and I’ve used a lot of seats.  My opinion is simply that, my opinion and I can’t give you any kind of credentials that says you should listen to it.  I have been using the Clek Foonf for the past 3 months.

This review shares our experience with the Clek Foonf and our thoughts on the seat.  If you don’t have much time, you may want to skip down to the end for a summary.

 

I remember when we were expecting our eldest and we had to pick out a carseat.  I was 20 and The Piano Man was 22.  We walked into the big box store and looked at the display of seats that seemed ridiculously huge to hold such a small person.  It was overwhelming.  We read the features and didn’t understand what they meant.  Intimidated we went and asked for help from a store employee, an even young guy that we hoped would know more than we did.  He showed us the most popular seller, a bucket seat that was part of a travel system and it had a low price point.  Plus, we liked the color scheme.

And just like that, we picked out our seat. We figured all the seats were the same and we knew nothing about checking installation. In the more than 14 years and now 6 children we’ve been dealing with child safety seats since that day, we’ve learned a lot and make our decisions regarding seats in a much more thorough fashion now.  I now know lingo and recommendations, have talked with CPSTs, watched videos, and learned some of the different safety standards around the world.  I know what’s important for our family in a seat and it doesn’t matter what the most popular seat is and the color is just a bonus.

Still, selecting the right seat can be an overwhelming task. The most important thing I’ve learned about selecting a car seat?  Select the safest seat you can properly install and use according to your budget.  Having a seat with a high safety rating means nothing if you don’t install and use it properly.  I actually cringe about some of the seats we’ve used over the years.  Worse, I nearly cry when I think about how we installed and used some of them.  So grateful that in spite of our ignorance and poor seat usage our children are ok.  I am all too aware that if we had been in a serious accident I probably couldn’t say that.

important car seat rule

Now we know better so we can do better. Being aware and better educated on the issue of child passenger safety (by no means an expert!), I was intrigued when I learned of the new convertible seat coming from Clek, the Foonf.  Just as Sugarbaby was reaching the point where she was outgrowing her infant seat, the Foonf became available.  I had the chance to play with the seat at the ABC Kids Expo and liked what I saw.  Because I’m not an expert, I talked with CPST Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuy NYC and CPST Christie Haskell to hear their thoughts on the Foonf.  They explained how many of the safety features utilized technology haven’t been used in child passenger safety seats before and shared their own excitement about how this seat could greatly improve the industry overall.  Curious as to how well us normal, non-CPST parents could use the seat, we decided to give it a try.  There were so many features that we liked when we read it, it seemed worth giving it a go. foonf_safety_rear_facing Quick specs on the Clek Foonf:

clek Foonf info

clek foonf measurements and weight

When our seat arrived (a Christmas gift for Sugarbaby- she loved the box) I have to admit to being a little intimidated.  It seemed so… nice.  And high tech.  I wasn’t sure we could even figure it out properly.  So it sat for 2 weeks until we had a day with nothing on our schedules just so we could take plenty of time setting it up. Turns out we didn’t need all day. We watched Jamie’s video and the video on the clek site before we attempted our own install.  It was fairly simple and though we had some issue getting the rebound bar in place because it’s a tight fit (not a bad thing!) and The Piano Man had it right for about 10 minutes before realizing it.  Without a doubt it was the easiest seat we’ve installed that we felt the most secure about.  It was so stable so fast.  I have never felt so confident that we installed a seat correctly.  In fact, installing it and seeing how secure it is made me want to recheck the seats our 3 and 5 year old are currently in.  I have loved their seats (Diono Radian RXTs) though after playing with the Foonf I’m not quite as in love with them as I had been.  They are still great seats, it’s just the technology, features, and ease of use of the Foonf is just so much more advanced.  It’s kind of like watching the special effects of a movie that used to wow you but ten years later they look less impressive.

clek Foonf rear-facing seat belt install lock off clips

We had to use the seat belt install as our van (Nissan Quest 2001) doesn’t have the LATCH option.  The seat belt install was far more stable than we expected and so much easier than we’ve ever experienced.  Even The Piano Man’s larger hands had no issues.  The only problem we ran into with the rear-facing seat belt install?  We managed to miss that the internal lock offs for the seat belt were two pieces and were trying to secure it with only one.  Once we figured that out it was a snap, literally.  It was so easy to install we were actually nervous that we did something wrong.  So we called Jamie.  He talked us through it, looked at pictures I texted him, and he confirmed that it actually is that easy.

Note: I still recommend having your installation checked by a CPST in person just to be sure, at least your first time installing a new seat.

Sugarbaby has never been a fan of being in her car seat.  Even approaching the van with the door open would lead to her getting worked up.  As a busy family with 6 children involved in activities, never being in the car simply wasn’t an option.  So we’ve all endured her hate for trips in her seat.  The first time we used the Foonf, she predictably freaked out.  There was no way she was going to be happy about being in a car seat no matter how impressive a seat it is.  But gradually, over the next week or so, we began to see something new from her in the van with less crying, then less fussing, then no fussing, then happy babbling baby.  Complete 180, now she actually reaches for her seat when we approach the van.  I’m not sure it is simply that the seat is more comfortable, that she actually has more room in the seat, or that it has a higher base so she’s higher up, but it was a relief to no longer have a screaming baby in the van any time we have to go somewhere.  A happy baby in an unshakable seat = happy mommy.  If we were ever to be in a serious accident, while there’s no way to be 100% sure, I have little doubt that Sugarbaby would emerge unscathed, probably even happy.

clek Foonf action shot close

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked (or “The Good”):

I love, love, love that the Foonf is so easy to install.  The easier to install a seat is, the more children will safe.  The internal lock-off clips are amazing.  I can’t get over how well they secure the belt.  When friends ask to see the seat that’s the first thing I show them because they are just. that. amazing.  I also love the storage for the latch connectors since we don’t have the latch option and I hate having to deal with those things in the way with our other seats.  How secure that rebound bar makes the seat, incredibly stable, is a huge selling point as well.  AND this seat is 100% recyclable.  So when we’re finally done with it I love knowing it won’t be headed to a landfill.  But that’s another thing, we may not be done with it until she’s driving herself.  With the weight and height limits on this thing she may be taking it with her to college.  Ok, not really but it has the highest weight limit for rear-facing in the USA (slightly lower in Canada) and will easily keep her safely rear-facing until her 4th birthday.  Which is awesome.  It is likely that she will be in this seat forward facing for a good long time as well, I suspect until she’s about 6 years old.  Talk about your money’s worth.  This may not be the case for everyone, each child is so different it depends on how they grow but with a 9 year, yes you read that right, a NINE year expiration on all of clek’s seats the potential is there or to have the seat for another baby when the older one grows out of it.  Having a seat so long it could easily get gross but clek has thought of everything and the fabric cover is not only entirely removable, it is a GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton Super Fabric which, according to their site, “provides permanent protection against stains, moisture, and odor-causing bacteria.”  When Sugarbaby puked a bit in her seat I simply wiped it up with a cloth and there was no sign it had ever been there.  Though you can see the Crumpled REACT Safety System, knowing it is there is a huge comfort.  We haven’t been able to afford to upgrade to a newer vehicle so we really appreciate this extra level of safety in Sugarbaby’s seat.  It’s trim size (it looks so much bigger than it is) makes it possible for 3 seats in a row in most vehicles.  Lastly, though I don’t pick a seat any more based on the color scheme and look of the seat, I do love how the foonf looks.  We selected the Dragonfly model and the green cover and white base look sharp and cheery.  One of my favorite features, silly those this may sound, are the magnets that keep the straps out of the way when putting baby in the seat.  No more fishing for them behind her!

But my favorite thing about this seat has little to do with the seat and everything to do with the fact that my daughter is finally happy in her seat.

There’s a lot of “The Good.”

Clek Foonf = happy baby!

Sugarbaby loves her Foonf! Which means I love it too.

What I didn’t like (or “The Bad, and The Ugly”)

I hate the price.  In fact I squirm a little telling people about the seat and I have to share the price.  I’m kind of embarrassed to have a seat that costs so much.  It seems so… extreme.  At $479 it’s a pricy piece of equipment.  Safety equipment.  However, this isn’t a seat that lasts for a few months and if your child sits in it rear-facing for 4 years it works out to $119.75 annually for their safety.  If they are in it for a year or more beyond that, it’s even less.  I decided to ask Jamie Grayson if the seat was worth such a price tag and here’s what he had to say:

I can’t tell you if the Foonf is “worth” the price.  That’s completely subjective because everyone operates on a different budget.  What I can say is that the quality of materials used, the safety technology involved, and the ease-of-installation with the rigid LATCH add up to an incredible seat.  Add to that fact that it rear-faces to 50lbs (USA only, Canada has a slightly lower weight limit on that), is incredibly narrow yet has a wide seat for kid’s comfort, and the fact that the upholstery is GreenGuard Certified, and the Foonf is something to be reckoned with.  When all is said and done, the above features combined might make people view the price differently.

I know that coughing up that cost up front can be challenging but we’ve personally decided that even though we won’t get as many years use out of it, we will be purchasing a second foonf to keep our petite 3 year old Smunchie rear-facing longer.  When it comes to baby gear, I’m all for simplicity and choose to select a few key items where we will spend the money for higher quality and do without.  For example, we currently do not have a stroller or a crib and would rather invest in a higher priced car seat.  The Foonf is the most expensive baby item we own and while I didn’t pay for this one we are saving to purchase another.  I absolutely believe it is worth it.  So I hate the price but I understand it and personally feel that the upfront cost is balanced out by the long term pay off for our family.

Also, Clek has created the Foonf in Drift for $399.99 –it is the non-Crypton fabric and does not have the magnets that I adore, but it is still a great value.  Those things are really just fluff anyway, it’s the safety features that are the real point.

I also don’t like but understand the weight.  Weighing in at 36 pounds rear-facing and 32 pounds forward-facing, you’re not going to want to lug this very far.  It’s heavy.  But when you look at all the safety features the thing is loaded with, it’s not a surprise.  Reinforced steal and magnesium underbelly, an Anti-Rebound Bar, energy-absorbing foam lining on the inside and outside of the frame, head protection and side-impact collision protection, high weight and height limits, LATCH storage, etc..  Features like these don’t come light.  All this is going to weigh something.  I agree with Jamie, if you’re going to be taking this through the airport, get one of those carts so you don’t hurt your back carrying 36 pounds of top notch safety technology.

This is a small thing but I felt I needed to be honest and share anyway.  The Foonf sits rather high and it makes me nervous sometimes that I can’t see out the window on that side very well.  However, that’s what we have side and rear view mirrors and my baby girl is so happy, perhaps because she can see out better thanks to being up higher.  This is a very minor point for me, really just an observation.

Overall:

As amazing as all the neat safety features are, I’m not sure I completely “get” how incredible they really are.  Instead, what I love about this seat is simply that it’s usable.  I feel confident that I can install it correctly and the ease of which that installation requires makes me want another one.  Knowing it has such cutting edge safety technology is comforting but I’m never cutting edge on anything so it’s only a minor selling point for me.  We’ll be buying another one because we’re confident that how we as parents use the seat is safer than any other seat we’ve owned.  For me that makes it worth every bit of that price tag and the hefty poundage.There is no doubt in my mind that a car seat is the most important purchase I am making for my child’s daily safety and I feel the Foonf is well deserving of the investment.  I am thrilled with this seat and am looking forward to getting one in Snowberry.  I can’t tell you if the Foonf is the right seat for your family but I’m confidently recommend those in the market for a new convertible seat consider it.

Smiling Sugarbaby in Foonf

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Maternity and Breastfeeding Tops Review for A Mother’s Boutique

Way back in July I agreed to do a review for A Mother’s Boutique, on a nursing top. Smunchie was still at the breast frequently and I was certain I’d get plenty of mileage out of a nursing top even at 20 months. What I didn’t count on was getting pregnant that next cycle and sick before I even peed on a stick. Enter not wearing much of anything but pajamas for the next 6 months and a gradual decline in interest in breastfeeding by Smunchie. My most common fashion accessory became an IV line and when not one but two tops arrived from Judy, the most I could tell you about them was “you can access my port easily enough.” Figured you smart ladies wouldn’t find that so helpful.

I could also tell you they are pretty, check out the Shawl Tunic/Mini Dress and the Front Rouche Top in Bamboo which I now have in black and purple (or eggplant) respectively. Smunchie did breastfeed a few times in each top but they seemed too nice for my no-showering self and spending all day on the couch with my puke bucket so they got little wear. Then I lost 16 pounds and it looked like I was a little girl playing dress-up in my mom’s clothes. What I could tell you in those first few months: both tops were incredibly comfortable and I could easily breastfeed in them. Which was of course the point. Now that I’m starting to get my feet under me a bit more and actually pay attention to what I put on myself, I can tell you even more and Smunchie still breastfeeds here and there so I’ve been able to try them as both maternity tops and breastfeeding tops.  (Sorry for the crummy pics, self portraits with my phone while breastfeeding and hooked up to an IV.)

The first time I really wore the shawl collar tunic top and actually had the energy to care about what I was wearing was to go see Earth Baby, The Storyteller, Lolie, and The Piano Man in The Nutcracker. Loaded up with my drug cocktail to get me through the evening I gussied myself up in the top. By then my PICC line was placed and the stretchy fabric of the top made it easy to hide the somewhat bulky port on the inside of my arm without drawing attention to the site. Feeling a bit adventurous and excited to actually be leaving the house (hey, I was excited to lift my head off the pillow!) let alone with lipstick on, I went with the mini dress style and high heel black boots. The simple detail of the dress lent itself well to a wide range of accessory options and I went for my grandmother’s Korean War era garnets and a scarlet made-by-me cashmere cloche decorated with an art-deco black mother of pearl button, a treasure acquired during a visit to Paris.  (Another bad self portrait!)

I must have looked hot in real life. The Piano Man was playing piano when I walked into the intimate setting for the show and he got a little, um, distracted, when he saw me. After 5 months of feeling and looking like death it felt really nice to distract my husband. Through the dinner, the performance, the fundraising talk, and the post-show excitement I was comfortable in the top. My nursling wasn’t with me so I didn’t get to give the breastfeeding function of the top into use but the top was already a favorite just in comfort and style alone.

Blurry pic but the only one I have of me and my ballerinas from The Nutcracker.

Since that evening I’ve worn both the shawl collar top and the front rouche top several times and not just on my couch. Both have held up well to washing, line drying, machine drying, and the inevitable spills. They still look and feel like new. Soft, comfortable, and beautiful, they are both tops I reach for when I need to be really comfortable and look put together. I packed both these tops for a month long training with my job where I had long days and couldn’t exactly go around in my pajamas all day. The rich purple of the front rouche top hasn’t faded a bit even with line drying and to my amazement the top gladly released the tiny bit of white acrylic paint I accidentally got smack dab in the middle of my Sugarbaby bump and though I’ve dropped all kinds of food on it (baby bellies make the perfect crumb ledge) there are no stains.

 

Some details:

The Front Rouche Bamboo Top- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

30 weeks pregnant, eggplant front rouche bamboo top

Dreamy soft and with a perfect amount of stretch so it returns to it’s shape well. The front rouching is perfect for a post-baby belly and even way beyond, I can see wearing this long after pregnancy and weaning are over. Easy to dress up (I like it with a simple black skirt) and just as comfortable more casual. The access for breastfeeding is simple to use and can be done one handed even with undoing a nursing bra. I don’t have anything bad to say about the top, it’s so versatile and comfortable. Living in Houston often fabrics that would be comfortable elsewhere are too hot here but the bamboo rayon breathes well and I have been fine in 80+ degree weather in the the 3/4 length sleeve top and was just as comfortable wearing it in Illinois in the middle of January. This will be an all seasons top for me, particularly since Houston has a thing for over air conditioning everything in the middle of the summer. The ugly for me is the price. I’m admittedly a make my own or thrift store/bargain kind of girl so the $89 seems really steep for me. However, I recognize that not everyone has the fear of spending money that I do and more and more lately I’ve been seeing my wardrobe as more expensive than I realize because things don’t last all that long and I have to replace pieces, meaning I spend more than I think. Now I haven’t had or used/abused the top long enough to say for sure (though a good amount of time already and it looks amazing), but it seems like this top will hold up well and for a long time. If that’s the case, then for a specialty top (maternity AND breastfeeding top) that can be worn all year long and features style versatility, it’s a worthwhile investment. If, let’s say, you get the top mid pregnancy and continue to wear it for the next 2 years while breastfeeding (hopefully longer) the top averages out to $3/month. If you keep the top as a permanent stylish option in your wardrobe it’s even less. As a specialty item that can extend far beyond it’s specially this is completely worth the upfront cost for the long term investment.

 

The Shawl Tunic/mini dress- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

20 weeks, black shawl tunic/mini dress

Side detail of black shawl tunic/mini dress

31 weeks, black shawl tunic/mini dress

Not quite as soft as the bamboo top (something I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t have the two to compare so it doesn’t really matter), the Shawl Collar Top has a beautiful silhouette that looks great with or without a baby bump. The wrap detail of the shawl collar give it more style than a simple stretchy tunic top or dress without overpowering the classic lines and it looks great as a mini dress, or a tunic top over leggings, jeans, or long pants. Combining both comfort and style, the stretch and drape of the cut and fabric makes it easy to dress up or down and you never have to sacrifice feeling good for looking good. Breastfeeding access is easy, the shawl panels providing coverage if you want it and again, I was able to get my breast out one handed even with a squirmy toddler impatient for her “bobbies.” I have long arms and am often frustrated with the length of my long sleeves. This top actually had long enough sleeves for me arms but with the stretch in the fabric I don’t think the sleeves would be too long for those with more normal length arms. This top is the perfect go-to, able to be the little black dress (or other color) staple for your closet. Whether with grandma’s garnets or blue jeans, I get compliments whenever I wear it out. With just enough gathering on the sides, it will be comfortable and forgiving at any stage of pregnancy and postpartum. It goes back to it’s shape well and I know I will be wearing this top frequently when I have a new nursling going with me to events and have lost the baby bump. The bad was minimal, the shawl collar doesn’t always lay smooth over the breasts, particularly after sitting with a baby bump but a little adjustment and smoothing was all that was required to unruffled the look. The ugly is the same, a costly upfront investment but I have actually paid around $79 for a little black dress option and that one doesn’t work for maternity or breastfeeding like this one does and there’s no way it could be paired with blue jeans. For many people $79 wouldn’t be much to drop but for our family budget it’s high so I’d have to make sure I’d be able to get my money’s worth in a top like this. Thanks to the versatility, the fact that it’s a great non-maternity/non-breastfeeding option as well as being functional during those times, and it’s comfort, I would consider that a $79 well spent if I could bring myself to get over the initial sticker shock. I’ve been wearing it regularly for the last 3 months and occasionally a couple of months before that and it looks brand new still. Regular wash and wear, it has taken me from an evening out to a day in blue jeans with ease. So assuming I can wear it through the entire pregnancy and for 2 years breastfeeding (likely more) it would average out to $2.55 per month, going down if I continued wearing it long after pregnancy and weaning. As both a dress and a tunic top it has a long life. Last, but not least, I would wear it primarily during colder months, however it would still be a go-to piece for special indoor events in the summer as the AC always makes me freeze inside during the summer.

Beyond the tops themselves though, I know that great customer service can make or break a shopping experience. Whether getting to shop her brick and mortar store in person in Wexford, Pennsylvania or shopping online, Judy Masucci, the owner of A Mother’s Boutique, is known for her fantastic customer service. Offering virtual fittings, you can send her your measurements and get bra fittings and size suggestions as well as specific articles that would work well for your body type. Patient and helpful, Judy aims to go above and beyond in helping her customers make great investments in garments that last, provide comfort, and flatter. Poor Judy has had to wait forever for this review, understandably impatient for me to share about the products she so carefully selects for her store. I spent some time the other day browsing her shop and encourage you to check it out. She has some fantastic sale prices right now and is celebrating her birthday and sharing Cake! Be sure to visit A Mother’s Boutique’s FB page and take advantage of the celebration.  You can get there by clicking the button on the right and take advantage of the discount for Leakies while you shop.

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Hygeia EnJoye- a pump that sucks… good.

Before I get sucked into my review of the Hygeia EnJoye pump I need to share something important:

A breast pump is not essential for all breastfeeding mothers.

You can, as woman have been doing for a very, very, very long time, have a successful breastfeeding relationship with just your boobs and your baby.  Fancy equipment is not required.  At least, not most of the time.

However, should you decide you need a pump for whatever reason (some I can think of: you work out of the home and want your child to have your milk while you are separated; you chose to be a milk donor to a milk bank or through direct donation; due to issues with latch/preemie/other problems you have to offer your child expressed milk; or any other reason that really isn’t anybody’s business but your own) then getting a good quality pump that fits your needs is a good idea.

 

I have been breastfeeding off and on for the last nearly 13 years.  Mostly on.  In that time I’ve used a lot of breast pumps.  So many that I can only name a few of the brands and the rest I have to describe like “the one that was a double and kind of had a teal colored base and never had enough suction but was pretty cheap so I bought the same brand when I burned out the first one…”  I burned through a lot of those breast pumps.  There are pumps I declared I hated and pumps that revolutionized my pumping experience.  Most were in between.  I’ve used every major brand on the market including the ones highly lauded and popular as “the best.”

My reasons for pumping varied: I was a working mom and had a performing career in opera and I had an emotional need to know that I could hand my baby to The Piano Man and he could feed her (my sexual abuse past made this a crucial element to my success in breastfeeding).  With all 5 of my nurslings my reasons for pumping shifted slightly (including changing careers and going into midwifery) and with my 3rd I had a full time office position and regular evening rehearsals that meant I really depended on my pump.

There was a time when all I cared about an electric pump was that it could get milk from my breast but over time my expectations for pumps changed and my standards went higher.  I’m sure that to some it sounds like I got snobby, I mean, really, if it gets milk from your breast hasn’t it served it’s purpose?

Call me crazy but I started wanting things like longevity (I do have 5 kids after all), no pain, settings I could control, easy to clean, great suction and it not to weigh a ton.  Even further down the road I started to care about things like safety, no mold growing inside the motor, the ethics of the company, multi-user capabilities so I could loan it out while I wasn’t using it, and responsible marketing and bonus points for being environmentally contentious.  That last point applied to all our purchases as a family but I never expected to find it in a breast pump.

Enter the Hygeia EnJoye.

For starters, it already gets the bonus points.  It is perfectly safe with it’s closed system to share, sell, or hand-me down when your done with it giving it 1 green star.  Even better, it is recyclable and the company will help you out with that just to be sure it doesn’t end up in a landfill.  More green stars than I can count.

I’m not going to lie, for some at $320 this pump may seem expensive.  If you’re not going to be pumping often enough then maybe it’s not worth the expense.  For me, it’s worth it and it’s a competitive pricing with comparable pumps that, in my humble but experienced opinion, don’t really compare.  Plus, I’m done with cheap pumps.  Over them, burned through a lot of them and I want a pump I can count on to suck… good.  And because Hygeia really likes to surprise people, they even have a return policy and amazing customer service.  Something rather rare in a pump company.  The last time I tried to get anywhere with a pump I wasn’t happy with (not Hygeia but a brand that shall remain nameless) I pretty much got laughed at.

When Smunchie was a newborn and we were trying to get her to gain weight thanks to her struggle with a heart defect, I pumped around the clock, every 2 hours as well as direct at the breast feedings.  It was exhausting.  My hospital grade Medela Lactina is what worked round the clock with me.  Rather used to the loud “whispers” my pump had made to me for months before getting the Hygeia EnJoye I was shocked at how quiet the EnJoye was.  Seriously, I couldn’t believe the thing was on at first.  Made me wish I had used that pump all those times I was pumping in the middle of the night with a sleeping baby and husband because not only was it super quiet, it was just as effective.

Months after having the EnJoye and while I was in the middle of pumping we lost power due to a storm.  Thanks to the rechargeable battery I was able to keep pumping away.  This made me excited, think about the possibilities of where I could pump!  The compact size of the EnJoye and it’s handy-dandy attractive bag made it easy to transport and could go with me wherever I would need to pump, the rechargeable battery making it that much more simple.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked:

Pretty much everything.  The size, the bag, the entire system (being closed and safely mold-free), the fit of the flanges, the options with the controls, the strength of the suction, the quietness of the machine, the multi-user capabilities, the recycling program.  And the company.  Hygeia sent me this pump 10 months ago.  They’ve waited a dang long time for a review on a rather expensive product.  But because I know that the moms that are in the market for a pump are going to use it for more than a week or two I wanted to give a time tested review.  Ten months.  This pump has been used just about every day for the last 10 months and nothing has needed to be fixed or replaced in that time (with the exception of an accessory set).  Which is amazing since I stopped pumping about 6 months ago.  So how has it been in use all this time?  I handed it down to a first time mom with twins, a good friend of mine.  Perhaps my favorite feature: I can loan this pump out safely to another mother with zero risk of there being any health hazard.  Not mold, not disease, nothing.  Which makes me feel really great.  I spent the same amount of money on another pump by another company several years ago and all I can do with that pump is throw it away.  Not the Hygeia EnJoye, it is an investment that keeps on helping moms give breast milk to their babies for a long, long time.

The suction was great for me.  Not quite as strong as my Lactina but I still expressed my normal amount of milk in about 10 minutes so it certainly wasn’t a problem.  It worked consistently used as a double or single electric pump.

What I didn’t like:

Um… ok, there’s nothing I didn’t like.  There were things that didn’t impress me maybe but it wasn’t that I didn’t like them.  There is a Hygeia CARE button that allows you to record something (such as your baby’s cry) for 5 seconds to play back when you pump to help you let down to the pump.  This is a personal thing, I don’t usually need help letting down to a pump.  However, I know plenty of women do and I can see how this could be a really important feature for those women.  The button did provide lots of entertainment, Smunchie would burst into tears every time she heard the sample recording of a baby crying and then the big girls discovered they could leave me “secret messages” with it.  Nothing like pumping, having a baby hit that button and hearing your 10 year old say “mommy, I think we need to get some ice cream.”

Overall:

This is my favorite pump, ever.  It is the only pump I feel 100% confident recommending any more.  I trust the company (which, by the way, makes an awesome hand expression cup and educate women on hand expression, a handy tool for any breastfeeding mom), I trust the pump and I’m thrilled with my own personal experience with the pump as well as that of my friend.  My thanks to Hygeia for offering up a product that is competitive with other pumps on the market but goes above and beyond.

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It’s a nursing cover! It’s a poncho! It’s a skirt! It’s a Bamboobies Butterfly Wrap!

I sit here writing this in my Bamboobies Butterfly Wrap.  It is, quite possibly, the most comfortable article of clothing I own.

Kerry of Bamboobies, sent me the wrap to review ages and ages ago.  I’m not the fastest reviewer in part because I’m just really busy and finding the time and can be difficult.  But that’s not the only reason why I’m a slow reviewer, I take my time so I feel I can give an honest review and a time tested review.

I had some hesitation about the wrap at first.  Not because I thought it wasn’t pretty (it is) but more because I thought I wouldn’t really use it since I don’t cover to breastfeed.  But I decided to try it anyway.

There was a touch of disappointed when I took it out of it’s package, even though I knew it wasn’t bamboo, I was hoping for bamboo velour anyway.  Just because I love that stuff.  I completely and totally love my Bamboobies breast pads and so I’m afraid I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with bamboo velour.  You can read about my experience with their breast pads here.

I got over my disappointment though and while it’s not bamboo velour (I hear angels sing every time I say that phrase) it is an incredibly soft, lightweight jersey.  So angels may not sing by I like to pet it anyway.  Throwing it on as a poncho I couldn’t help but think “I’ve never actually worn a poncho.”  Which is true.  I’m not sure why and I can’t say that any more.  It’s very easy to put on and arrange and look fabulously stylish.  The construction of the Butterfly Wrap is simple and when I examined it I thought “hey, I bet I could make this.”  And then I quickly realized two things: 1) Maybe I could but I never would, let’s be honest and 2) I probably couldn’t because it probably wasn’t as easy as I thought- nothing in sewing/crafting world is.  This simple construction, however, doesn’t mean frumpy and blah, nope.  It means sleek with an artistic flair.  I love flair.

By the way, it looks cool even without a baby bump.  Or at least I think so.

Grabbing Smunchie I talked her into wanting to breastfeed.  It took some convincing.  Ok, no it didn’t, she’s always willing and ready to breastfeed.  I was certain she was not going to like having something over her head and I was a little concerned that it would seem stifling since it doesn’t have any boning to keep it out.  Didn’t bother Smunchie one little bit and I realized I could pull the neck out a little and her head could hold the fabric taught enough so I could see her just fine.

So if I were a covering breastfeeding mom I would like the Butterfly Wrap as a nursing cover.  For starters just because I could wear it like it was part of my outfit and not have to put something special on to feed my baby.  Secondly because it’s cute but not cutesy.  More like stylish and nice.  Thirdly, because if I didn’t want to wear it and just throw it on to feed it’s super compact and thin and fits into a bag easily, I can carry mine in my purse.  We will not discuss the size of my purse.

But I’m not a covering mom and I still like it.  It’s a nice poncho and Bamboobies has some lovely photos of it as a maternity poncho, it looks stunning.  I’ve never worn it that way though and I still like it.

Why?

Because it is the most stylish, comfortable skirt on the planet.  It’s like wearing yoga pants but not pants and with way more flair.  Did I mention I like flair?  Funky flair at that.  An asymmetrical hem line, a bit of a slit without being too high, super comfortable fabric (sometimes I feel to make sure my skirt is still covering in the back- it’s that comfortable!) and a waist line I can barely feel but isn’t elastic makes it one of my favorite skirts to wear.  The zoo, a date, shopping, hanging out at home, or working at a coffee shop, meeting a friend for lunch, this skirt is ready for just about anything.  I’ve even worn it to an art gallery opening with a sparkly camisole and peep-toe heels.  Wish I had taken a picture because I looked really great that night and I was comfortable.  Well, mostly, Bamboobies needs to come out with something like the Butterfly Wrap but in footwear.  This skirt is perfect for postpartum.  For probably like 20 years postpartum.

The skirt did not improve my photography skills, my very dead, dry Texas drought yard, the laundry on my line or my chipped nail polish.  Also, I dare to bare my belly in one of these photos so you can see the waist line.  Consider yourself warned.  The afternoon light washed the black out a bit, it’s darker than this in real life.


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked:

Comfort.  The fabric is thin enough but opaque to have all areas of comfort covered.  The best part though is how soft it is.  I love soft.

Style.  I also like style and to me the Butterfly Wrap is very stylish however you’re going to be using it.  As a poncho, nursing cover or skirt it’s mom-wear with flair. (Ok, it’s killing me, every time I say “flair” I think of Jennifer Aniston in Office Space and smirk a little.)

Durable.  I’ve been wearing the Butterfly Wrap for more than 6 months now and it gets washed about once a week, depending.  It still looks good, the fabric isn’t balling up and it doesn’t show signs of wear.  Even after it’s endured some abuse it holds it’s shape well after every washing.

You know what else I liked?  I could not only nurse in it as a cover but the neckline is stretchy enough that I could also pull it down and pull my boob out and nurse with it on without covering.  Since I don’t cover but I like the look of the poncho in cooler weather, that works for me.  Covering is a personal choice, I’m in favor of a mom feeding her nursling however she’s most comfortable, covered or not.  I think the Butterfly Wrap is a great fashion choice regardless.

What I didn’t like:

I always promise fair reviews and there are a few things I’m not crazy about in the wrap.  If it’s cool enough that I feel I really need the coverage of the poncho I get irritated at the opening in the fabric letting in cool air.  However, I found I could reposition the poncho with the slit more in front and it wasn’t as much of a problem and I still liked how it looked.

Since my favorite way to wear it is as a skirt I have noticed that when I’ve been wearing it for a long time any given day it starts to sag and stretch in the waist.  I wear my shirts long so it really isn’t a problem for me but I don’t like starting to worry that it will fall down and I do wonder if that would be more of a problem with a big pregnant belly.  However, it never has fallen down, I’ve just worried that it will.  So I make sure to wear super cute panties just in case that does happen.  Really, you could say the wrap has encouraged stylish choices even in my undergarments.

Also, I was extremely disappointed that the skirt did not rehydrate my crunchy, drought stricken lawn, take down the laundry or paint my toenails.  But pedicures, lawn care and laundry maid were never promised so I guess I can’t be too disappointed.

Overall:

The wrap is staying as an essential part of my wardrobe.  It has it’s flaws but they are things I can live with.  In fact, I’d like to live with those problems in a few other colors.  There’s room from brown and purple in my closet I think.


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Good Enough to Eat- A Review

Being a bit of an artsy fartsy type craft supplies are a must in our house.  Lots and lots of craft supplies.  Everything from beeswax or soy crayons to clay and modeling beeswax to watercolors to origami paper to paint to pastels and every other kind of crafting supplies you can find we love to craft.  On days when yucky weather keeps us inside one of our favorite things to do is pull out our supplies, pick a subject and all release our inner artist in creating our own piece.  Sharing our little gallery of creations is so much fun.  We tend towards mostly natural materials with our supplies, a desire to avoid synthetics and to enjoy the beauty the earth offers us.  It doesn’t hurt too that if on the off chance a kid eats some of the art and crafts supplies I don’t have to freak out that it’s going to kill them.  Not that my kids ever eat things like arts and crafts supplies.

So it was with an enthusiastic YES! that I responded to an inquiry from Rae Blu to do a review on Willow’s Nestings food-grade watercolor set.  Here’s the description from her site:

“Each of our watercolors sets include hand-mixed food-grade paints, 2 basic paintbrushes, and a recipe for making more paint later!  Our recipe has been extensively tested by our own children and we believe you will be exceptionally pleased with the vibrant colors in each set.”

Now, I have to confess something here: I thought these sounded great and I was really looking forward to trying them but I had quite the cocky moment when I first agreed.  Sure, I thought, I can give these a try.  The girls and I will have fun reviewing them together.  However, I don’t need them, why would I need food-grade paints?  It’s not like my kids have ever eaten paint before, no, not my girls.  I’ve never really worried about my kids deciding to suck on their paint brush or something while painting.  It just seemed like the color on the paper would be too entertaining.  But there’s sure to be somebody with a kid that wants to suck on their paint brushes that will be relieved to discover these paints and know they are safe for their child with the long lasting oral stage.  Even if don’t need them.  No sir-ee, I don’t need food-grade paints.

The paint set was shipped quickly, unfortunately during a very hectic time for us so we had to wait a bit to use them since I needed to write a review about them.  Eventually we found the time and set up to try out the new paints.  We had a good time, all of us trying the paints and sharing our opinions on them.  Squiggle Bug enthusiastically set to work, commenting about each color by exclaiming “Look mommy, it’s so pretty colors!”  I made 2 of my own paintings deciding to start out with wet-on-wet, floating color onto an already wet piece of watercolor paper.  The effect was very gentle color transitions and very pale hues.  I liked it but found it difficult to add more colors for vibrancy.  The next one I did was with the traditional dry paper and of course the colors and line definition were much stronger this way though still a nice transparent watercolor.

It was as I was happily painting my second piece (that may be a stretch, it wasn’t exactly a “piece” by most artistic standards) and sharing the paints with Squiggle Bug across the table that I looked up to see how she was enjoying the paints.  She was enjoying them quite a bit, it appeared, her page full of color and her mouth full of… paint brush?  Wouldn’t you know it, I looked up from my own painting to see Squiggle Bug sucking on a paintbrush loaded with paint.  Never underestimate the timing of a 3 year old.

Can you believe I managed to not react but just pick up the camera?  Oh yeah, I am that good.  I’ve been doing this mom thing long enough to now how to snap a terrible, dark grainy picture of potentially embarrassing moments for future blackmail opportunities.

There was a moment where the big girls freaked that she was eating the paints.  Of course.  I hadn’t told the girls that these paints were safe to eat, the point wasn’t to eat them, the point was to paint with them.  They did calm down though and after some tears and giggles we were all back to happily painting.

So now I’m going to let the experts weigh in.  Because, really, who cares what I think, it’s the smallish people that really will be using them.  According to…

Earth Baby, 12 years old: “My favorite part is that the paint dries quickly so you can put it away quickly. I also like  the nice soft colors.  The paint is nice, it lifts easily for more detail work or if you make a mistake.  The colors are very pale and you have to do layers of paint to get a lot of color.  I like the colors, they are cheery colors but I wish the colors were more vibrant because if you use even just a little too much water the colors get hard to see.  It is easy to dip into the colors.  I wish the box wasn’t plastic but it’s recyclable so it’s ok. (She’s called Earth Baby for a reason.) I had fun painting with them and I didn’t mind that I had to use layers of paint.”


The Storyteller, 9 years old:
the paints are “Awesome!  They’re very watercolory.  I like them.  They are very artistic.  They make me feel like a professional artist.  I just want more!  They are very, very childproof.  I don’t like that I can’t open the box.”
Lolie, 7 years old: “They’re cool!  But too light, too pale and sometimes hard to tell what color it is going to be on the paper.  I’d like more color.  I still like them though.”
Squiggle Bug, 3 years old: “Good.  I paint mommy and daddy pretty.  Can I do another picture?”

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked

Rae sent us the super cool boxed set, 7 colors in a nifty little set of boxes that allow you to unlock as many different compartments as you’d like at a time.  Included were 2 paintbrushes and a tiny rolled up scroll with the recipe and directions for making your own set of paints.  The locking mechanism on the box set is fantastic for preventing that nasty paint blending of all the colors getting mixed up.  I LOVE this!  I also love that she included the recipe and directions for making our own set of paints when we run out.  Very unusual for a business to do that and risk not getting return customers as a result.  Funny thing is, since I know I won’t probably make my own, it gave me confidence in what is in the paints and I do plan on returning to order more.  The colors were very pretty and with the set of 7 enough to do a full rainbow.  They blend well to mix and create other colors.  I’ve been impressed with how long the paint lasts as well, we’ve been hard on them, 5 of us painting from them at one time but they hold up well and seem to last forever.  I did discover that it’s best to let them air dry when you are finished so any water can evaporate.

What I didn’t like

The colors weren’t as vibrant as I would have liked.  At first this disappointed me but as we painted the girls talked about how nice it was to have some paints with a different range of color.  The paints are a little grainy, particularly at first but that seemed to improve as we used them.  I also didn’t like that I only got one set of photos of us painting off the camera before it was stolen and lost forever.  There were pictures of the paintings and everyone working that I had wanted to show you.  But that obviously has nothing to do with the paints even though I didn’t like that it happened at all.

Overall

Pretty colors, a bit too pale compared to what I prefer but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and lent itself well to a sort of Waldorf-style of painting.  I love that they are food-grade and safe as well as being handmade from a small business.  The boxed set is a great way to keep the paints clean and true to their color, one of my favorite features.  Originally at $12/box, $7.50/pallet I thought the price was rather steep but since they don’t seem to run out and she gives the recipe with directions on how to make your own it’s really a bargain.  For the price they can’t be beat as safe, food-grade, handmade paints.  We’ve been using them for 2 months now and they still look brand new.

You can find Willow’s Nestings where there are also cute apron sets, Waldorf-inspired dolls and lots more on Willow’s Nestings on Hyena Cart and Willow’s Nestings on Etsy.

I had more photos of us painting and of our paintings to upload off the camera but my camera was stolen a couple of weeks ago so I sadly don’t have those images.  I’m so sorry!

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An Expert Opinion- Bamboobies Review

It had been a busy day, I was helping out at a church with their worship running around tweaking sound settings for the band, making suggestions on the song arrangements and coaching the vocalists and all with an 11 month old riding happily on my back in our trusty Beco.  I sat to nurse her when she decided she was hungry then slung her around to my back again where she dozed.  Following the activity we had lunch together, visiting with the church for another 2 hours.  Holding Smunchie and entrenched in a deep conversation I felt something wet on my arm and whipped it away thinking she drooled on me.  I felt it again and looked at her but noticed she was dry.  Looked at my arm and saw white-ish drips splattered on my arm.  Confused for a moment that Smunchie must have spit-up it finally dawned on me to look at my shirt.  Sure enough, right over my left breast was a large wet circle and I could see another drip forming.

I’m not The Leaky Boob for nothing.

Deep theological discussion with the church leaders I just worked with and a 3 inch wet spot centered on my breast as warm white drips splashed on my arm, nothing awkward about that, is there?  Mentally cursing that I had forgotten breast pads I messed with my scarf a bit to position it stratigically over the oh-so-obvious soaked and growing circle and told myself nobody noticed.  Too bad I wore a skinny scarf.

No joke, the very next day the package from Bamboobies arrived containing breast pads for me to review.

I love bamboo velour, that stuff is like crack for a texture person like me.  The first time I got a bamboo velour cloth diaper I rubbed my face on it.  Yes I knew it was a diaper but oh. my. gawd. I was totally jealous of my babies butt getting to be wrapped in this fabric from heaven.  People, if you haven’t felt it go get yourself some!  I bet you’d rub your cheek on a diaper too.

I was asked to review Bamboobies pads both the regular and overnights, the love for bambo velour is just a bonus I threw in.  I have used the breast pads for a little over a month and have washed them repeatedly.  As much as I love bamboo velour I know that it can get a little crunchy over time and with certain washing rituals.  I wanted to see how the Bamboobies held up.  These aren’t my first bamboo nursing pads, I have a few pair from a WAHM on Hyena Cart.

I was most excited about the regular pads as I already have some really thick bamboo pads.  Not only are the Bamboobies ridiculously soft, the regular ones are also ridiculously trim.  I tried them with all my different bras and even with my super thin bra there were no awkward lines showing through my shirt.  To be sure I tried a variety of shirts and even with my vintage tiny tees looked smooth.  Like, kind of sexy smooth.  Added bonus, they don’t bunch up oddly when you pull the top of your bra down to nurse and they are easy to reposition as a result.  With these pads it doesn’t look like I’m fondling myself under my shirt trying to get everything back in place.  Very nice.

Trim is all well and good but the real point is how absorbent they are.  To give you an idea the day I leaked at the church I was wearing a padded bra, a tank top and a light weight knit sweater.  I soaked through.  This isn’t unusual for me (again, not The Leaky Boob for nothing) and I wore that same outfit plus Bamboobies out to the opera without Smunchie for 5 hours, let down at least twice that I noticed and no leaks.  No lines, no leaks.  No lines, no leaks and bamboo that feels like a cloud wrapped in silk in my bra. Nice.  This was really good because as awkward as it was to me chatting theology with a pastor as my boob leaked a bullseye through my top right over my left boob I’m pretty sure hanging with opera snobs while dripping would be even more awkward.  Awkwardness avoided.  I heart Bamboobies.

The overnights were lovely as well though a bit overkill for where I am in my leakage and lacking the cool heart shaped design (did I just say that?).  A year ago I probably would have used the overnights all day, I leak so much in the early days.  Still, I tried it and I realized that I’ve just gotten used to waking up wet, stuffing the overnights in my nursing tank let me stay warm and dry.  I shall stop being lazy with the breast pad stuffing and enjoy dry sheets again.

Now, the shape of the pads isn’t my favorite, I’m not a hearts kind of girl really.  I’ll be honest, I made fun of them when I first opened them.  Like really, really made fun of them.  Had everyone in the house laughing.  I made lots of terrible puns like “I *heart* Bamboobies!” and “Boobies are close to my heart.”  I was a smart-ass.  Then I tried them, joking at least nobody would see I had stuffed hearts in my bra.  And you know what?  I freakin’ LIKE the heart shape.  It turns out the heart shape is more than cutesy girlishness.  There’s a brilliant design reason behind the Valentine hearkening shape allowing for better shaping and fit, giving the wearer options as to which way to wear it and preventing the “I’ve-got-a-circle-of-fabric-stuffed-in-my-bra” look.  I might be more of a heart kind of girl that I thought.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked

The fabric is my favorite fabric in the world so it’s not a surprise that I love that.  Puppy ears aren’t as soft as these things and they don’t have the annoying fuzz angora or cashmere has meaning your boobies will love these.  The perfect way to pamper yourself and be practical.  Smooth and trim, the fit is the best I’ve ever had in breast pads and I have tried a lot of breast pads.  Backed with a soft waterproof fabric, Bamboobies aren’t only soft and trim, they’re up for the task of absorbing leaking milk and keeping it contained.

What I didn’t like

The heart shape really wasn’t my thing but then I saw how it helped with the fit and I was in love.  The pads did get a bit crunchy after lots of washes and they get crusty from dried milk too but that never happened while they were against my skin so no worries.  To deal with the crunchyness I washed them with a squirt of Dawn dish soap and used a touch of 7th Generation’s fabric softener and they were super soft again without a hint of crunch.

Overall:

I’m still not a heart person, I’m not kidding.  I don’t own anything heart shaped and you won’t find hearts on any of my clothes or underwear.  But these pads are staying.  They stayed soft even if they lost some of their original silkyness, the fit is like they were custom made for me and trim yet absorbent qualities of these pads make them the best I’ve ever used.  I’ve come a long way from the Gerber disposable pads I used 12 years ago (that cost a fortune and led to my first case of thrush) or the fabric pads from who-knows-where (that I leaked through every single time) and the Bamboobies made me feel pampered.  Additionally there are a lot of other aspects of Bamboobies I can get behind; sustainable, organic (as organic as Bamboob velour can be- there’s controversy over this) and fair trade.  Yep, I <3 Bamboobies.

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Making milk and making sweaters- PumpEase Review

This is a product review of PumpEase Organic Hands-free Pumping Support but really it’s more like a tale of extreme multitasking.  Extreme for me anyway.  I’m sure quite a few could burst my bubble but this was down right dangerous as far as I’m concerned.

My life, like most moms I know, is full and busy.  Full-time mommying in and of itself is never ending and time consuming and then I have a tendency to heap other things on top of that such as working, homeschooling, writing, performing, being a doula and teaching music along with all the other daily things that go with life in general such as laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning.  (Who am I kidding?  I don’t really clean.)  Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Yeah, I feel like that pretty much every day.

And still, I try to fit my hobbies in,  In fact, I need to fit my hobbies in for my emotional health and sanity.  To keep me balanced to some extent I knit, sew, paint, and read.  And buy yarn.  Buying yarn is it’s own hobby, trust me.  I’m well on my way to becoming a fiber enthusiast.  I’m already a yarn whore.  Just ask The Piano Man.  Yarn lusting, I mean shopping, is usually something I do while multitasking and with the computer it just so happens that it works perfectly do look at some knitter’s porn while I’m breastfeeding or NAKing (Nursing At Keyboard).  I have been breastfeeding and pumping for my at least one of my 5 babies for the last 12 years off and on- mostly on.  Though I’m a pro at multitasking while breastfeeding I find multitasking while pumping much, much more difficult. A baby doesn’t usually spill milk from the boob but it’s all to easy to lose some of that precious liquid if I’m trying to balance the pumping bottles and horns while doing something else.  And I’ve done it.

Anyone that says not to cry over spilled milk has never lost 3 ounces of hard earned pumped breastmilk.

Since I really can’t pull off much else while pumping I find myself closing my eyes and end up incredibly tired by the end of the pumping session.  Sometimes I risk it and try to be on the computer at the same time but it’s incredibly stressful.  I’ve heard of the rubber band trick but it really didn’t work for me (I was nervous) and needed something more secure for me to be comfortable.

Then Wendy from PumpEase sent me one of her PumpEase Organics to try.  It came during a crazy week and so it sat unopened for 6 days.  For six days I didn’t touch it.  This was stupid.  I was super busy, still pumping and I didn’t have time to open the one thing that would have made it easier?  Don’t ask me what I was thinking, I really do not know.  That first night I pulled it out, tried it on and sat down to give a whirl.  My first thought?  WHERE HAS THIS THING BEEN FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS?  My next thought?  I’m going to get so much more done!

To test out the multitasking opportunities I got out my computer.  Yeah, that worked and it was easy.  The only thing I had to be careful of was to not forget I was pumping and pull the computer too close and hit the bottles.  PumpEase Organic and the computer?  Check.

Next I went for still sitting and relaxing so I pulled out my knitting.  I have on occasion managed to knit something simple with a baby at the breast but it’s risky as baby may grab the project and rip stitches out (ACK!) and my hands get tired and sore.  But I’ve never really managed pumping and knitting.  The PumpEase changed the entire game though, it was brilliant!  I sat and pumped and knit.  It was so wonderful, I was so excited, I was making milk and making a sweater at the same time.  PumpEase Organic and knitting?  Check.

Oh, but wait, it gets better.

Since I had a guest post submission to read I grabbed a pillow, set my laptop up on the pillow on my lap and started reading while knitting while pumping.  It totally worked.  I finished reading the entire submission, made significant progress on the sweater and pumped 2 more ounces at the same time. PumpEase Organic and the computer and knitting?  Check.

It would have been more but Smunchie woke up and wanted to nurse.  So I decided to keep pumping one side, put Smunchie on the other side in the football hold with a pillow supporting her head, headed to my favorite yarn porn site, picked up my knitting and hammered out a few more rows. PumpEase Organic and the computer and knitting and nursing?  Check.

Then my mom called.

PumpEase Organic.
Phone.
Computer/yarn porn.
Baby.
Knitting.
Pumping.
5 ounces.

Check.

It was awesome.  I was the multitasking queen.

Once I pulled out the camera Smunchie insisted on multitasking too, eat and try to get the camera.

Over the next 2 weeks I tried different activities while pumping and found that the PumpEase made me feel secure enough to do quite a few chores and work projects while pumping my milk.  Folding laundry, eating, writing, reading with kids, homeschooling, reading, sewing (I had to be careful not to hit the bottles on the table), practicing music, playing piano (the sound of the pump threw me off a few times, I kept wanting to play in rhythm with the pump), more knitting and yes, yarn shopping. 


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


What I liked:
The hook and eye closures made me feel secure and comfortable that it would stay and hold well.  The fit was snug and I could have gotten away with a medium but there was plenty of stretch and it didn’t feel too tight just snug which really made me feel even more secure.  The fabric was very soft and I liked that it could be secure without being uncomfortable.  The limitations I faced with it had nothing to do with the hands-free support and everything to do with my pump namely the plug and that I couldn’t bend over without messing the pump up.  This may sound silly but I also loved that it was packaged up pretty.  It was like I got a present, a nice box, pink tissue paper, pamphlets, a fridge magnet with milk storage information and a door hanger to warn possible intruders that I was up to mommy business.  The door hanger does not work on kids, FYI, apparently they don’t care if they see you pumping.

I would have loved this with every one of my babies.  Having worked as a nanny, music performer, theater performer, music teacher, worship pastor, doula, midwife assistant and gallery curator I could have put this too good use many times over.


What I didn’t like:
I promise to share the good, the bad and the ugly in all of my reviews so my readers can trust me and my writing.  So, um, the bad and the ugly… well, the PumpEase Organic is boring.  You won’t be making a fashion statement in it, that’s for sure.  But this didn’t bother me I much prefer organic over jazzy underwear anyway.  My exciting underwear is just plain teal and I have 3 bras, all solid colors: white, black, and tan.  So if organic would matter to you more than having a print or color then the choice should be obvious. The openings to place the pump horns was a little awkward for me to manage first but that just took a little practice.  That’s all I got for bad and ugly.

Overall 
I loved this product and wish I could go back in time and take this with me for all my pumping days over the last 12 years.  Pumping moms, whether you work out of your home, work at home or are a stay at home mom a PumpEase Hands-free pumping support will great asset to you.  I’m thrilled with mine and look forward to putting it to good use for a while yet.

Sorry my pics are so terrible, even the PumpEase couldn’t save me from terrible night time indoor lighting and the hazards of one handed self portraits.

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A Mark of My Own

I have a bunch of reviews to do and I’m excited to start with one from a Leaky I’ve known for years.  I knew Lizabeth before she ever leaked a drop.  Now though, she’s a veteran breastfeeding mom running her business, A Mark of My Own, and caring for her 3 year old daughter.  She also makes awesome apple pineapple cider and is a good friend.

This past week, in the middle of preparing for Thanksgiving (she had 3 turkeys in a cooler and baking to do!), Lizabeth had our family over to glaze some of her beautiful unfinished ornaments and to drink some of that delicious cider of hers.  She had a dazzling selection of bisque laid out for us and we all selected our favorites.  Amazingly, even with all the hubbub and little ones afoot, not a single ornament was broken and no paint ended up on the carpet or walls.  While I consider avoiding disaster a success in an of itself, the beauty of the ornaments we get to bring home is even better.  We painted well over a dozen of her designs and are excited to have some beautiful handmade ornaments not only for our own tree but to give as well.

Through A Mark of My Own Lizabeth creates handmade works of art that are beautiful left plain just as they are or as a canvas for customers to unleash their own creative flare.  As gifts, gift tags on packages, family memory keepsakes or to create the perfect designer touch for your tree, A Mark of My Own helps you bring a unique artistic touch to your holidays.  Lizabeth fired the ornaments we glazed in her kiln but customers that order through her can either glaze and fire their own (pottery studios will make kilns available for a small fee usually) or use other art supplies that don’t require firing in a kiln.

The bisque ornaments- I want a basket of these sitting on my table as decoration:

The artists at work:

Of course I breastfed while painting, Smunchie got hungry!

I swear, this was totally unintentional, I didn’t even realize it until Lizabeth pointed out that it looked like a b@@b.
Considered writing “The Leaky B@@b” on it but stuck with the rainbow plan.


 The finished product after firing:

In case you’re not sure, here is a little information about what these ornaments are.

Q: What is “bisque” or “bisqueware”?

A: Let’s first start with “greenware”. It is simply air-dried clay, an unfired clay form that can be destroyed by water.

Once the greenware has been fired it is called “bisqueware,” fired ware that resists MOST water, but is beyond the point of being able to be destroyed by normal means. At this point it may be decorated with paint, such as acrylics, colored with a permanent marker, decoupaged, etc.

Bisqueware is also the point where most potters will apply glaze. “Glaze ware” (or finished ware) are ceramic forms that have been bisque fired and then glazed (creates a shiny surface as well as adds protection to the piece). The forms are fired one last time after a glaze is applied, this causes the glaze to adhere and usually pushes the piece to full vitrification (accepts NO water). 
 

Lizabeth is a delightful WAHM to work with, be sure to check out her shop and let her know I sent you.  Tomorrow she is having a sale for CyberMonday that you won’t want to miss.  I’m already planning my next ornament, I’m thinking beeswax block crayons or oil pastels with marker… The possibilities are endless!

Squiggle Bug and Lizabeth’s daughter Zuzu enjoy homemade tomato basil soup and cheese together after painting.
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