National Breastfeeding Month – Important Legalities

Happy National Breastfeeding Month, Gals!!

I won’t bother touching upon the “breastfeeding is best but do what works for you” topic, as I think you’re all smart enough to know that.  In honor of Breastfeeding Month, I’m presenting two important items – first, a new nipple butter with no GMO’s (yes nipple butter works and is VERY Necessary).   Second, some legal information about pumping at work.  I was really glad to come across this information from Tom Spiggle –  author of “You’re Pregnant, You’re Fired!” Some really important advice and legal info below on a topic that no one really tells you about and YOU will be the only one who can advocate for yourself.

But first, to nipple butter – YUM.  The products from Earth Mama Angel Baby, are all natural and zero-toxin herbal based personal care products for Pregnancy through Postpartum Recovery, Breastfeeding and Baby Care. Their natural nipple butter is the only one on the market that is non GMO project verified, it’s also clinically tested, hospital recommended, lanolin-free and zero toxin. 

I dare you to visit their website and only check out with one thing.  It’s all so adorable!

On to some interesting/disappointing/confusing (what else is new about being a woman in the workplace) legagilies about pumping at work.  If you don’t protect yourself and your rights, NO ONE will.

The aforementioned Tom Spiggle, a lawyer and author who focuses on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, has recently outlined the rules and regs of pumping in the workplace for us.

“For the first time, women constitute more than half of the workforce and the fastest growing `segment is women with children under the age of three,” says Spiggle. Although many workplaces now provide lactation rooms and staggered breaks forbreastfeeding mothers, they’re often doing so voluntarily as a good business practice to help retain female employees and not as a matter of law. And a good business practice it is.”

Spiggle says the good news is if a woman is covered under the law, her employer must provide a “reasonable break time” to pump milk each time you need to during the day, which is typically every few hours. She must also be given a private space that is not a bathroom where she won’t be bothered by coworkers or customers.

The bad news is a woman’s breast-pumping time doesn’t have to be paid, unless her coworkers also get paid breaks. And employers only have to meet the requirement if they have 50 or more employees. (and p.s. what are the changes your “small business boss” is going to say “No, I don’t have to meet that law because we only have 49 people – go pump in the bathroom”).

Unfortunately, there are some additional loopholes which are quite depressing.  Bottom line, site the above law in order to get rightful pumping breaks and places – pumping is miserable enough without being comfortable.  If you get any pushback, look into this law further – Tom’s website has excellent information.  

 

Spa Month!

It’s Spa Month – Hoorah! (which really lasts two months).  While most of us don’t spend a lot of time at the spa, this is definitely a great excuse to get a much needed facial (what fine lines and black heads?) or a deep tissue massage.  Believe it or not, carrying seventeen bags while leaning over to change diapers and simultaneously build legos isn’t always good for your back. Neither is stress.  Or lack of sleep.  Or wrestling with your kids.

This link details all of the participating spas.

Some of the best deals I’ve found/favorite spas I’ve visited are – Bliss Spa at the W ($99 Oxygen facial? yes please), The Standard (one of the best spas in Miami, but usually crazy expensive.  Get a treatment and spend some time in the pool area…heaven), and Turnberry Day Spa at Turnberry Isle Miami.

The Turnberry has a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center.  Some of the best offerings they’ve got going are:

  •         50 minute THEMAE Ayurvedic Massage for $99 (regularly $149)
  •         50 minute THEMAE Hydration Strategy Brilliance treatment for $99 (regularly $149)
  •        80 minute THEMAE Ceremony for $129 (regularly $219)

Also, any guest to book Miami Spa Month treatments with Turnberry Isle during the month of July will be welcome to enjoy 10% off all purchases at the Spa boutique.  Turnberry also features the James Beard award-winner Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak - so reward your husband’s “handling of the kids you’re at the spa” with a big steak dinner together!

 Enjoy, Mamas!

 

Mango Season!

You’d have to be living pretty far off the grid in SoFla not to notice that it’s Mango season. Everywhere I turn I see the wonderfully oblong fruits hanging from trees.  And best of all, since we’re one of few people in the neighborhood without a mango tree, everyone is giving their overflow to us!! (We even found a bag of mangos hanging on our door from a stranger…who ever said Miami-ans aren’t nice?!?).

Mangos are of course delicious on their own (my babysitter, who is from Colombia, introduced me to Mango with salt…life changing), but there are so many other fun things you can do with this tropical fruit! Some of my favorite recipes below.

An absolute must is a mango salsa.  You can eat this alone, with chips, on fish, basically any which way.  From the great site, “Oh my Veggies” is this mango-cucumber salsa (you can also add tomato, which I like).  I leave out the cilantro because I hate it…try mint if you’re the same.  Also a dash of olive oil is relish.

1 ripe mango, diced (about 1 cup)

  • 1/2 small English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve with tortilla chips, tacos or burritos, or as a mix-in for cooked quinoa or millet.

This one from Gourmet is something I NEVER would have thought of – Mango Flambe! I tried it last night and it was SO easy and SO good.  If you’re having a dinner party this could really impress.

ingredients

  • 4 (1-pound) firm-ripe mangoes
  • 6 tablespoons turbinado sugar such as Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/3 cup dark rum

preparation

Preheat broiler.

Wash and dry mangoes. Remove 2 flat sides of each mango with a sharp knife, cutting lengthwise alongside pit and cutting as close to pit as possible so that mango flesh is in 2 large pieces (reserve remaining fruit for another use). Make a crosshatch pattern with a small sharp knife, cutting across fruit down to skin at 1/2-inch intervals and being careful not to pierce through. Grasp fruit at both ends and turn inside out to make flesh side convex.

Arrange fruit, skin side down, in a large shallow baking pan lined with foil and sprinkle evenly with 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar (total). Broil 5 inches from heat until fruit is golden brown (it will not brown evenly), about 5 minutes. Arrange fruit on a large platter.

Cook rum with remaining sugar in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then carefully ignite rum with a kitchen match and pour, still flaming, over warm mangoes. Serve immediately.

Next, From Damaris Philips of the Food Network- a mango, edimame, bok choy salad.  SIMPLE, Healthy, Delish.

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup bok choy, chiffonade, some greens reserved for garnish
1 green mango, peeled and julienned
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, pepper flakes and lime juice until smooth. Slowly whisk in the sesame oil.

Add the edamame, bok choy and mango, and toss to coat with the dressing. Add the sesame seeds and toss again to combine. Serve garnished with the reserved bok choy greens.

And of course, it can’t be all about the food – go for a mango smoothie or if you’re feeling frisky, try this mango-rasberry Bellini from Camille Styles on Yummly, UM YES PLEASE (just add ice if you’re using your fresh mango). I even love her little glasses!

newPostLabel_Ingredients
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen mango
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or other sweetener
1 large bottle of champagne
water
newPostLabel_Instructions
  1. Combine raspberries, mango, coconut sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of champagne in a blender and blend until smooth (add additional water if needed)
  2. Scoop 2 tablespoons of mango raspberry mixture into a champagne glass and mix with champagne (you can add more or less to your taste preference!)
  3. Serve immediately, with raspberries (frozen or fresh) to garnish.

Since there is such a surplus of mangos at one time and they are only ripe for about a month, one important piece of knowledge is how to FREEZE mangos so you can eat and use them later! You can’t just throw them in the fridge, FYI.  The ladies at Fabulessly Frugal explain it here.  A friend of mine also said she cuts them, smushes them up into a block and freezes. Later, they go into the freezer and chop off pieces from the block when they want like mini popsicles. YUM!

Father’s Day Gifts They’ll Actually Like

I don’t know about the rest of you but Father’s Day is the most challenging holiday EVER.  My husband always says, “just give me time”, but then I tell him to take an afternoon off and feel weird that we aren’t all together on Father’s Day.  Plus, that’s not a gift the kids can put one finger on and say “this is from me”…

So I rounded up some gifts that the kind of dads I know would ACTUALLY LIKE! No Bespoke dress shirts that they’ll never wear and zero collar stays; these gifts are actually good ones.

FOR FOODIES

As a former vegetarian and someone who doesn’t eat red meat, my husband’s favorite food – steak – doesn’t get to make many appearances.  So, when it does, it should be special.  These Laguiole steak knives from Trudeau are the real deal.  And they don’t break the bank. A renowned brand name since 1829, Laguiole is a village in France renowned for its artisanal hand-finished cutlery and corkscrews. Trudeau’s set of six Laguiole Steak Knives are hand-finished in exotic and genuine horn/wood handles with hand-stamped detailing. The serrated stainless steel blades are thick gauge, full tang blades. Includes 5 year warranty. $99 for the set.
Trudeau also has this nifty set of grill gloves -works for any hot service in the house (but much more manly than oven mits). Nice price point at $39.99.

 

 

FOR DRINKIES

Steve Abt, The co-founder of famed whiskey brand, Caskers, recommends some top whiskey tips depending on what your father is into.   Top selections, below.

 Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Steve says, “Has your dad traveled around the world and then some?  I’m jealous, and he is going to love this single malt.  Amrut Fusion is a marriage of whiskies made from peated Scottish barley and unpeated Indian barley making it an incredibly complex whisky.  And you can’t go wrong a single malt that scored an incredible 97 points in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, which named it the third best whisky in the world.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Steve says, “If losing is not in your father’s vocabulary, then this is the bourbon for him.  Having won “Whiskey of the Year” five times over and scoring 97 points from Wine Enthusiast, this single barrel isn’t familiar with losing either.  Aged for nearly 10 years under the intense Kentucky sun, this bourbon has an aroma of spicy oak, cinnamon and clove that leads into notes of caramel, pecan, and roasted nuts.”

Stillfried Wien is an awesome store in Tribeca from entrepreneurs Anna and Michael Trubrig, a Viennese couple who share a lifelong passion for art and design.  These Wiener Stutzen Lobmeyr Optic beer tumblers, (for purchase on their website), are all-class.  Cuz when you’re drinking beer, you gotta keep it classy. Definitely on the higher-end at $105.

THE “FASHION” PLAY

Nothing hoity-toity here…

These Freewaters Charger sandals are like flip flops on steroids.   They have special arches that feel like a running shoe and provide the highest level of grip ($56).  Also they are made of Hydro Leather so they’re totally waterproof.  If you want to dress things up a notch (or force him to), I’m a fan of the Randy- still casual but nice looking and according to the website, the “Super Pillow Insole is mind blowing soft and supportive” ($58).

Best of all, every purchase of Freewaters footwear helps provide clean drinking water to those in need (so if you accidentally order a pair of women’s sandals as well, you’re only doing good for the world).

Chase54 is a clothing brand mostly for golfers (their shirts are really nice), but they have some stuff for non-golfers as well.  With features like comfortable DRYFUZE™ poly spandex, Moisture wicking materials and most importantly, a Rating of UPF 50+, this brand is perfect for the Florida man. And they’re all named after Hollywood actors.  My pick? Naturally, The Clooney – seen here ($74). 

 

 

A Little Bit of Everything

One of the most fun man gifts I’ve seen of late is the “Man Crate” – basically a box full of fun guy stuff.  The crate alone is super fun – it comes with a crow bar and you open it just like a box of treasure…very Indiana Jones. Oh and the kids played with that part for days.   I got this Legends of Baseball crate because my hubby loves baseball and pint glasses.  So…home run! (haha).  You can pick the team you want printed on your glasses which is really cool too.  The “Exotic Meats Jerky” box is pretty cool too. A crate full of jerky? You had my husband at beef.  The “Gone Fishin’” crate is perfect for SoFla!

 

Are You Being Tricked into Eating & Supporting Genetically Modified Foods?

Most of us read, research, over-research, try to implement and go a little crazy about feeding our kids (and ourselves) healthy food – all while trying to balance what they really want (junk).

One hot topic you’ve probably heard about are GMOs – (Genetically Modified Organisms) or Genetically Engineered foods. Research shows that GMO foods, their residues (which can not be washed off) and the soil they are grown in are being linked to everything from cancer to liver disease to autism to infertility to allergies (why do you think so many kids are suddenly allergic to peanuts?!?) to irreversible ground damage to….gasp…accelerated aging! (NOW you’re paying attention)! What’s most scary is that this science, and the research on GMO effects, are both relatively new so we don’t truly know how bad the effects could be.  Click herehere or here for more info.  Even Oprah took on the topic!

While arguments with our kids over fruit vs. ice cream will never end, the one easy thing about limiting or eliminating GMO foods from our diets is that no one can taste the difference.  So, easy choice – avoid GMO foods, right? Unfortunately, for the most part, YOU CAN’T KNOW IF YOUR FOOD IS GENETICALLY MODIFIED OR NOT BECAUSE COMPANIES ARE REFUSING TO LABEL AS SUCH. Note: Anything labeled organic is not allowed to use GMO foods (although no one is really checking on this…but that’s a different discussion).  

For the most part – not surprisingly – large companies, politicians, and the FDA have put the almighty buck above our health and have spent millions battling any laws requiring labels on foods that contain GMOs.  A serious and really ugly battle has been taking place over this (large companies are even suing states, like Vermont, who try to pass their own laws requiring labeling).  This article explains the latest in this debate.  
Whether you believe GMO’s are harmful or not, I think we all agree that we have the right to know what we’re eating, yes?  So – you’re thinking – buy organic and you’re good, right? Well, organic is a lot more expensive, especially when you consider that GMO’s are most commonly used for Soy and Corn (which is in EVERYTHING). And what if, in your effort to buy organic, you’re actually supporting the companies spending millions to keep GMO foods a secret?   Chances are, you’re doing just that (I was).  

The picture I’ve included here shows the organic brands that are owned by large corporations like Coke and Pepsi; who are currently spending millions to ensure we can NOT know about GMOs in our food.  Aside from the health issue, the more I read, the more I’m simply disgusted by the politics these corporations and their lobbyists have used to “win” this battle – bulling small farmers, cheating the system, flooding politicians with calls so they’re forced to vote against their own people’s wishes…it’s just plain BAD BEHAVIOR!

So, check out this chart and you can at least rest assured you’re spending your money on organic brands that actually believe in health. If you’re really fired up, there are quite a few  petitions and fundraising campaigns are out there as well (click here for some).

Great Superhero Products

Recently, I was sent a sample of a SuperMe superhero back pack & cape.  It happened to arrive a few weeks before my son’s 5th birthday and, seeing the perfection of the gift according to my son’s interests, my husband assumed it was from a relative (who plans way further in advance than we do) and put it in the “bday pile”.

There it laid “undiscovered” until his birthday when I could not figure out WHO had sent the absolutely adorable, well made, perfectly sized Superhero backpack and I put it aside.  When the rep kindly followed-up and my mommy-brain finally kicked back into gear, I realized what it was.  My son, needless to say, was ridiculously psyched to get a cool present well after his birthday!

And this one my friends, is good.  The colorful items are not specific to one superhero – the idea is that the CHILD is the superhero.  Which, for those of us whose kids go through superhero loyalties like Leo DiCaprio goes through Supermodels, is a good thing.

The bags are lightweight, insulated and best of all - all products are made of environmentally friendly materials and are 100% safe.  SuperME also donates a portion of its proceeds to support PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center which is pretty cool.

My son, meanwhile, has packed his bag full of “explorer” items like flash lights and bug nets and he for one couldn’t be happier…

Spring Cleaning (Ugh), There’s an App For That! Home Zada

I’m really, really bad at cleaning.  I wouldn’t say I’m gross or anything – I’m actually obsessive about putting unused food away, cleaning dishes, sweeping up dirt, that sort of thing.  But when it comes to organization and deep cleaning/maintenance, I’m just lost.

Enter HomeZada.  This app is super cool.  It gives you a check list depending on what you want to keep track of – spring cleaning, yard work, overall indoor cleaning, etc. and then gives you “property calendar” reminders depending on what you need to do.

You can view this link for free to see how it works, and go from there.  This will definitely channel your inner Bree Van De Kamp (Yes, that’s an outdated Desperate Housewives reference).  The Zen of Zada blog has some cute home ideas as well.

Don’t know if I’ll stick to this, but wiping my kitchen ceiling has at least gone from something I didn’t even know about to something snugly on my check list.  It counts if it’s just on a list, right?!?

NY Times, “Raising a Moral Child”–What Matters Most?

Recently, a friend sent me the New York Times article entitled, “Raising a Moral Child” by Adam Grant.  

As parents, we all (or most of us) strive to raise children who are essentially, “good” and happy (as much as possible).  But what does “good” look like and how do we create that in our offspring? And how much does future success play into this equation?  According to this article, around the world more people care about raising kind children rather than successful children.  But they also point out that no matter what you value, it seems two strategies work above all: praising effort and modeling good behavior yourself.

The famous book Nurture Shock heavily researched the importance of praising effort above abilities (i.e. “You did such a great job with this book report, I saw how hard you tried” rather than “Your book report is great, you are SO Smart”).  The thinking is that effort is something we control- and can therefore repeat and improve on, whereas ability is either there or it’s not.

But does that approach work across the spectrum of behaviors? According to this article, it does not.  In fact, they conducted some studies and found that when it came to doing good deeds, “children were much more generous after their character had been praised than after their actions had been. Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities.”

So, um, which overly-thought-out, self-analytical approach is a parent supposed to take?!? Apparently, age matters – at five, the attachment to identity wasn’t strong enough to have an effect and by ten, the identity was too strong.  8 is apparently the magic number for this approach.

The piece also discusses how we treat bad behavior – guilt vs. shaming – another interesting examination. At this point in the article, I found myself straining to think of specific times I’ve disciplined and if I shamed or guilted. I also felt like parenting can’t just boil down to waiting for our kids do “wrong” or “right” and reacting to that. And this is when they bring up the most important part: Above all, what matters most, is not what children here but what they SEE.    

We’ve all heard this before, but the more I read on, the more I really thought about how my behavior models their growth and morals.  I’m not at some major turning point, but I really am going to try to be aware of this in a much more conscious way – maybe even purposefully try to make sure they SEE me being giving, empathetic, patient and understanding.

Part Two of Interview with Harvard Doctor – C-Section Focus

Last week, I wrote about a product from Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH, a radiation oncologist and mother of four who launched a company called Best Friends for Life (or BFFL) (which included a discount code for her amazing New Delivery Bag, so be sure to check the post if you haven’t yet!)

Below, I’m posting part two of our interview where she answered my questions about birthing, C-sections, hormones and mommy-pooches (i.e. the ever-present-refuses-to-leave belly fat).  She has really intellectual and thought-provoking views on these topics, definitely worth reading!

Q: Do you feel C-sections are being “overused” and that women are not cautious enough before undergoing this procedure ?

I will never judge another physicians decision about whether a woman “needs” a c-section or simply wants one for convenience and control issues.  The national average is 30% which is about a third of all births.  A c-section is major surgery and not without risks such as infection, bleeding, and even other serious complications.  When I hear women say that they want a c-section so they don’t ruin themselves “down there,” I cringe.  That just doesn’t seem right to me.

Q: How can someone best avoid a C-Section if they want vaginal birth? What might they not know?

 If you want to avoid an unnecessary c-section, you should discuss a birth plan with your OB and ask for the c-section average in his/her practice. If the c-section rate is over 50% and you don’t want one unnecessarily, interview another doctor.   Try to avoid scheduling an induction—sometimes the warning that the baby is “huge” doesn’t end up being the case.  Consider hiring a doula to coach you through labor; epidurals do tend to slow labor, so if you’re game, try natural—you get it over with faster and you usually recover faster.  I always tell people not to think that a c-section means no pain—you’ll end up with a scar and 6 weeks recovery, at least.

Q: How to best get rid of the post-birth “shelf” (the ‘lump’ of fat/swelling, etc. we all get in lower abdomen).  Is there something specific to do immediately? What about months later?

I called it the “pooch,” and the sooner you lose it after delivery, the better.  If you’re reading this now, and you’re still pregnant, try to limit your weight gain.  Most physicians recommend keeping it at about 30 pounds.

The best strategy after giving birth involves a healthy diet, lots of walking and try to get it off as fast as possible.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to lose the weight.

The other thing to remember is that most people aren’t looking at your “pooch” after you give birth, just get out of maternity clothes and try to emphasize your great arms (from carrying baby) and your beautiful décolletage.

 

Q: I see you are a radiation oncologist, and one topic many moms are concerned with a bit after baby is contraceptives – do I use hormones, non-hormones, etc. What’s your view on hormone-based contraceptives and links to cancer? 

Hormones are a cause for concern.  When considering birth control pills or hormone methods, make sure to discuss your family history of breast or ovarian cancer with your OB.  Your partner will be willing to try other methods if it’s risky for your health.

 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Becoming pregnant and then a mother will be the most important and intimate “second job” that you will ever take on.  If you have a career, don’t feel like you need to make a rash decision whether to continue after you have your baby.  Take your time and try to keep all options open. If you have financial restrictions, think of creative ways to keep your job and see your baby as much as possible.  Never close any doors in a hurry, you never know when you will need to work outside the home, and there should be no guilt or pressure either way.

Remember to take care of your own health, in addition to your new baby.  Get as much sleep, exercise and eat as healthy as possible.  Work on your relationship with your baby’s father/your partner.  It’s important to have someone there to raise that baby by your side and to help you in all ways.  Lastly and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all learn from our mistakes.  It’s recovering that matters.