iCycleBeads for Planning or Preventing Pregnancy

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

I have been a fan of Cyclebeads for many years. I practiced Natural Family Planning or NFP up until we opted for sterilization a couple years ago. I decided early on that I would never, ever use a product that introduced hormones into my body and NFP was the safest and greenest way to go. Cyclebeads provides a very clever way to track your periods and determine if pregnancy is likely or not. I just used a handy dandy calender but I would have been all over the latest product from this great company…

iCyclebeads is an online application that does what their bracelets do, virtually. There is also a smartphone app for on the go use. Love this!

The red bead marks the first day of you period. The blue beads marks the days when pregnancy is very unlikely. The white beads mark the days when pregnancy IS likely. The yellow bead marks the day when your next period should start. It takes all the guess work and days calculating out of the equation and can even send you emails to remind you of fertile and non fertile days, when your period is expected, and to remind you to enter your cycle data.

Of course I think that if you plan to use NFP you should still be highly familiar with your own fertility signs but I think this app is an awesome resource. I used it all this month just out of curiosity and it is very easy to use, even if I no longer need it. I don’t track my periods at all anymore because I don’t have to but it is nice to know when you should expect your period for vacation planning and such. You have access to the application for a mere $12  year and the first month is free. Score!


How cherries and strawberries taste… Wordless Wednesday

by Tiffany in Tidbits


Blue Q Reusable Bags 50% Off

by Tiffany in A Green Home

I have more than a little love for Blue Q. I like to buy products that help me be greener like reusable bags and bottles, that is a given, but Blue Q allows me to have a little fun and show a little personality while doing it. I adore my Boss Lady vintage cowgirl bag. It has become my fave. I ended up gifting my Boss Lady bottle to my mom (my boss lady) but I still have and use my Holy Water and Dick and Jane bottles.

Anyway, I see that Reuseit has two of their Blue Q bags on sale for 50% off which makes them an amazing deal at $5.98. 95% post-consumer recycled content yo! I love the India one. How about you?



Bringing Up Bebe – The Wisdom of French Parenting

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, parenting

french women dont raise bratsI admire attachment parenting philosophy quite a bit and that is primarily what guided me when my babes were little. I have mentioned in the past though that my endeavor to be a good, attached parent kind of lead me to a place were I was lost, frazzled, and on the verge of a divorce. I felt like I was a slave to my kids every need and only now with more modern books on AP, like Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling am I seeing warnings to make sure that marital and personal relationships as well as career not be sacrificed to the AP Gods. It is really easy to let AP or other similar parenting philosophies turn into permissive parenting with the parents being afraid to be the authority in their own homes.

And yet despite my love of AP, some of my authoritarian upbringing always popped up and it made me feel selfish and guilty. Should I really just be flat out saying no to this request or should I be looking for a compromise that will show that I am respecting my child’s wishes and desires as an individual? Should I be down on the floor playing Legos with my child to show I am a playful parent or is it okay to do what feels right to me…which is require him/her to self entertain (and quietly) so I can enjoy a cup of tea and a phone call with an old friend? I was constantly questioning how instinct was leading me to react/parent/discipline and how I felt I “should” be parenting because this or that book on AP or cooperative parenting said I should.

In hindsight I wish I had just listened to my instincts more. This is not because I think I made mistakes (though I am sure they are many) but rather because I let parenting become my career and my life as a stay at home mom and my self worth became largely wrapped up in that. With two boys on the autism spectrum that is just a recipe for disaster. It was only after my family almost broke in half that I realized that if mama isn’t happy and satisfied in her own personal and professional life…no one is going to be happy.

I decided to make it my goal to devote more time to to self care. I didn’t ignore my kids or my husband but I carved out time for myself each and every day, sometimes several hours of the day and did stuff just for me. I went to the library, I went to the movies, I got pedicures and manicures, I went to the gym 4-5 days week, I went thrift store shopping, and I refused to take kids with me if I didn’t want to. Heck, I took a solo two-day vacation and have another booked in a couple months. Previously, I always hated it when I heard women say they were trying to find themselves but I understood it perfectly after that year was up. The pre-child me, who had many and varied interests, was back in full force.

Anyway, that was a really long winded intro to telling you about a parenting book I recently read and throughly enjoyed.  The book is Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. It was written by Pamela Druckerman, who is an American living in France and raising three kids there. She wrote the book after seeing how much differently American children behave than French Children. While her 18 month old was bouncing off the walls in a French restaurant and making her consider eating at home forever more, the French babies and children were happy and chatty yet largely docile. French parents were not frazzled and stressed, instead they seemed to really enjoy parenting. After finding a study that showed American parents were twice as likely to consider themselves unhappy with child care when compared to French parents Druckerman decided she wanted to know what French parents were doing differently.

I must say that I absolutely loved the book and it gave me so much food for thought. So much about AP and other child centric parenting philosophies, like radical unschooling, lead parents to focus on the needs and wants of their children to the exclusion of everything else. Radical unschooling even boasts the idea that you never say “no ” to your child…you always find a way to say “yes”. Hearing no will kill their spirits or something. French parents also believe that children should be respected and their wishes honored but only in balance with the needs and wishes of everyone else in the household. French parents believe in teaching their children from infancy how to exhibit self control and deal appropriately with frustration and the dreaded “non” or “no”. The reason those French babies and children were not acting up in the restaurant is because they had already had many months or years or training to wait and be “sage” or in control of himself or herself. And rather than being dull and sparkless children you get happy children who also have amazing manners and self control. This is in contrast to the American idea that exerting that kind of influence or restricting our kids in such a way will kill their spirit and crush them emotionally.

The French seem very rigid and structured in many ways and yet they also believe in letting their children devote time to nothing but pleasures and fun. They believe in speaking to their children respectfully and like they would any other adult, even from the time they are infants because they believe that all babies are rational and capable of learning. That aspect is very AP friendly even if some of their other ideas are not (no co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc.). In many ways they are AP parents who just never let the the household become child centric in any fashion and parents who are not afraid to be the authority in their homes. And amazingly enough all the French seem to be on the same page with this. The way the French children are parented at home is the same way they are cared for in government run creches (or daycare), which sound amazing BTW. If France is what right-wing Americans have in mind when they talk about socialism, then we need lots and lots more of that evil socialism please!!!

Overall I think the book has a lot of value and the arguments made for stricter households, proper manners, and not becoming a slave to your children are well worth the read. I didn’t agree with everything of course, such as not breastfeeding past 3 months, but most of it I quite heartily agreed with. It was also a true pleasure to read. How many parenting books keep you up at night long past bedtime?? A resounding A++ and I really hope there will a follow up that deals with parenting French teens, since I am one year away from that milestone.

equilibre (eh-key-lee-bruh) – Balance. Not letting any one part of life – including being a parent –  overwhelm the other parts.




Kit’s Organic Versus LaraBar

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

Kit’s Organic fruit and nut bars appear to be CLIFs version of the all popular LaraBar. Up until these, CLIF was mostly offering grain based protein bars for active folks and a specialty brand of the same for women. I am not a fan because they have grains and they have soy. It was one these brands actually that I started consuming shorty before my thyroid disaster. When CLIF contacted me about trying these bars I was a nano second away from hitting delete when I saw that these were fruit and nut bars only. Well, okay, sure…why not?

When I got my Kit’s Organic bars in the mail I was curious to see if they could topple the other fruit and nut bars from my pantry shelves because LaraBar is pretty much King in this house. I eat them daily and my husband usually does as well. After diving into my Kit’s Organic box I quickly decided that CLIF is in fact trying to compete with LaraBar because the flavors are pretty much the same as some of LaraBar’s best sellers.

I started with the competition for my absolute favorite LaraBar…Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. The CLIF version is simply “Peanut Butter”. I don’t eat peanut butter anymore due to the aflatoxins, except I will eat these. Not going to give them up any time soon. LaraBar remains supreme for this flavor IMO. The Kit’s Organic peanut butter bar was only so-so.

This is where it got interesting though…

The Berry Almond Kit’s bar is very, very similar to the LaraBar Blueberry Muffin bar, which I also love. It is my second favorite in fact. Kit’s came out on top though. Their bar tasted like a moist and delicious blueberry cake.

The Cashew bar from Kit’s is exactly like LaraBar’s cashew cookie, except the LaraBar version is not very tasty IMO and the Kit’s version is insanely delicious. I might actually pass up a Peanut Butter LaraBar for this one!!

The Chocolate Almond Coconut Kit’s bar can be compared to LaraBar’s Chocolate Coconut Chew. Once again Kit’s comes out on top. I really like coconut and chocolate but never found the Larabar with these flavors to be really that good but I was wowed by the Kit’s brand.

Got to give props were they are deserved. Kit’s Organic bars are off the hook! Plus they are 100% organic, gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. The only drawback that I can see is that they are $1.59 per bar, which makes them about $.30 cents more expensive, per bar. Plus I only buy LaraBar’s in bulk when I see the price dip to $.80-$1.00 per  bar. If Kit’s bars have similar sales I will definitely buy in the future.