Review: Oilo Play Blanket

Oilo sent me one of their blankets recently – this beautiful Freesia play blanket.

Babyblog-0333

The company makes all kinds of beautiful bedding, furniture and décor items. Their crib sets are just gorgeous!!

image

So far we love the blanket for floor playing. It’s super soft sateen on one side and more durable duck surface on the other so the blanket doesn’t slip around on the floor. The blanket is large, so it makes a great play mat – at 40×50 inches. I love that I can wash it after its been on the floor no problem.

Babyblog-0330

Babyblog-0332

Mazen especially loves the chevron design – it’s his favorite!!

Babyblog-0324

If you’re nursery or registry shopping, check out their designs!

And for everyone, a discount code for $20 off with any $50 order!

Code: BabyKerf/Oilo

Review: PV.Body Fit Box

I’m so sorry if any of you are having trouble with your orders. PV.Body is going through a transition right now towards an in-house brand called Ellie. I didn’t know this when I received my box and wrote this review. It’s probably best to give them some time to let the dust settle before trying out the new line. I apologize for any inconvenience this partnership has caused. 

 

The latest trend sweeping mailboxes near you is customized monthly box subscriptions of everything from organic beauty products to fashion clothing to healthy snacks to fitness wear.

pvbody-logo

pv.body asked if they could surprise me with one of their Fit Boxes as a mom on the move. I happily accepted, knowing I needed all the help and motivation I could get to get moving after Mazen was born!

image

Your box is customized based on a fitness quiz you take about the style of workouts, colors and apparel you like. The style fairies then put together a two-piece outfit that retails for over $100 for just $49. If you’re into higher end fitness apparel, then this is quite a deal. Shipping is always freeee, you can cancel the subscription at any time, and if your clothes don’t fit they will send a replacement that does. (You can also refund the whole box if you wish to return it all).

Babyblog-0419

So what did I receive?

These American Apparel running tights. I am in love with them for recent winter runs! I have actually never owned running tights because I generally prefer pants that slightly flare to make my shorty legs look longer. I assumed tights would not fit me very well and shift around or bunch, but these fit perfectly and don’t budge. I also can’t believe how wonderful running without flare flapping at your ankles is. Duh! So a huuuuge thumbs up for these.

Babyblog-0415 Babyblog-0417

For the top, I got this Nux brand tank. I love the color, and it fit well, but for this nursing mama, it was a bit too revealing for anything but hatha yoga, so I opted to send it back. Although instead of sending it back, I was given the choice of giving it to a reader as a giveaway. See below!!

Babyblog-0494

In exchange, pv.body sent this navy sports top that I like much more for its coverage. It’s also nice and long so it works well as a transition from maternity wear.

Babyblog-0491

If you’re interested in trying out pv.body yourself, you can get 20% off by jumping over from BERF!

{Note this link is an affiliate link. If you’d prefer to just go to the site organically, feel free!}

And if you’d like to win this sleek size medium tank, leave a comment below with your favorite fitness activity. If it doesn’t fit you, I’m sure it would fit a friend of yours!

Giveaway runs for 48 hours. Check back here for the winner!

Babyblog-0495

Winner!

The winner is Beaty. Please email me with your name and address at Katheats@gmail.com!

Tankwinner

Review: Amy Michelle Diaper Bag

KAY-0256

In contrast to my sporty, dad-friendly diaper bag, Amy Michelle sent me this beautiful designer diaper bag to review. It’s called the Sweet Pea, and comes in a few pretty colors. I use both bags interchangeably, but this is definitely the one I take to more formal events. Basically if I’m dressing up, this bag is part of my outfit.

KAY-0276

Upon first glance, I was thrilled with all of the pockets. Pockets are the #1 diaper bag requirement!! So many little things to tote around. After getting very comfortable with the pockets in my other diaper bag, it took me a few minutes to decide where things would best go in this bag.

The two on the front (which are magnetic and not buckles – yay) were easy fits for my phone and car keys. One on each side.

KAY-0257

And my mom things – hand sanitizer, snacks, lip gloss – fit well in this front zippered pouch.

KAY-0259

Burp cloth got tucked into one of the bottle pockets on the outside for super easy access

KAY-0260

And after a little sweat, I was relieved to find that my huuuuuge water bottle fits inside. It’s a tight squeeze for a liter bottle, but it worked. Whew! That might have been a deal breaker to love this bag 100%.

KAY-0262

Amy Michelle didn’t miss a beat – there are stroller holders on the sides. I actually really like that these are velcro and not clips because they take less time to pop on and off the stroller. They also unclip if you want to take them off and tuck them away in an inner pocket. Thumbs up!!

KAY-0261

Lastly on the outside is the changing pad pocket. Simple + functional. Although I do sort of wish this changing pad had some cute design on it instead of being a blah beige.

KAY-0263

The main pocket is very roomy – roomier than my Skip Hop bag which is GREAT because it fits my DSLR camera even better than the other.

KAY-0267

Loved the side pockets for diapers and wipes. Although I will say that since we have moved on to cloth diapers my bag is much more full. I still keep a few disposables in there too though, so the pocket is still being used.

KAY-0268

I also recently bought this Skip Hop wipe holder since the wipes we were using didn’t have an easy travel solution. Again since switching to cloth we have a bit of a wipe issue when we’re out (cloth wipes or disposable!?) but I’m working through that.

KAY-0272

The bag also has smaller pockets for things like credit cards, but I would never put a loose credit card in a diaper bag, so I’m still carrying around my wallet. There are several more zippered pockets inside though, which are fabulous. Everything should have magnets or zip!

KAY-0273

Speaking of magnets, that’s how this bag closes at the top. That’s one effective magnet!

KAY-0274

The only drawback to this bag is that it can’t be worn messenger style, so it’s not quite as comfortable for long-term wear, but I think if I knew I would be wearing my diaper bag for hours I would pack my other sportier one anyways.

Overall, I love the bag. It’s stylish and super functional as well. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, but I haven’t noticed any wear or tear. Pockets for the win!

Learn more about Amy Michelle on Facebook or its website.

And as a special treat, I’ve arranged a 15% discount on any order from www.amymichelle.com. Just use the code: BabyKerf.

Review: Kia Sorento

This is definitely the coolest product review I have ever been asked to do. If only I could keep it forever!!

Sorento-8295

When I was asked if I wanted to review a car on BERF, my initial reaction was “no thanks, that’s not what my focus is on.” But then I got to thinking….now that we are a family of three, Matt and I are on the market for a new car, and we are hoping to buy a small to midsize SUV. This would be the perfect opportunity to help us decide what we’re looking for and features that are important to a new mom.

Sorento-8294

I currently own a Honda Accord from the last millennium  – 1999. I got it in college, and It’s been a great car, but I have loved it to death and it’s on its last legs. My biggest gripe is that the power locks don’t work anymore and one of them only opens by hand, so every time I have to bring the baby to the car, I have to use my key to unlock the front passenger door and then wrap my hand through to the back door to unlock it manually and then open the door to put the car seat inside. It’s quite the process considering I always have my arms full of gear. My car is probably worth less than having this fixed, so it’s one reason we’re glad to be ready to buy another.

I’ve never been much of a car person and never really thought I needed anything beyond four wheels and a steering wheel (well, and locks that work! And a radio. But you know, basic stuff.) I knew that there were cars out there with bells and whistles, but I just assumed they were something only the fanciest cars have.

Sorento-8296

In exchange for this blog post, I was given a 2013 Kia Sorento SX to test drive for a week. (I received no payment to write this post – just the use of the vehicle). It arrived on a Monday morning and I drove it all around town, on errands, on the highways and into the Virginia countryside. I knew nothing about Kias or SUVs prior to this experience. In fact, I don’t think I had ever driven an SUV before!! The model I drove was filled with bells, whistles, horns, chimes and more – SX is the highest trim level. This Kia retails for $35,875, which is definitely more than we are prepared to spend when the time comes, but I still liked sorting through which of these fancy features really do matter to me. Within 10 minutes of sitting in the driver’s seat, I knew it was going to be reallllly hard to give this car back!

Sorento-8298

The first thing we did was put Mazen’s car seat in the back. As a pre-2003 Honda Accord, my car doesn’t have the LATCH system for car seats, so we have to use the seatbelts to secure it in. This is trickier than you think, and it’s hard to get the seatbelt as tight as the firemen demonstrated to us. The Sorento, being top-of-the-line new, is equipped with the LATCH system, which means the car seat base just clicks into some metal hooks hidden in the seat. This process took 60 seconds to do, and the car seat feels so much more secure and safe – even though it’s perfectly fine to just use the seatbelts alone.

Sorento-8302Sorento-8304

Another car seat tidbit – getting the baby in and out of the Sorento was SO much easier at SUV height than bending over to get him into my low sedan. Part of this is because the LATCH is only on the passenger side rather than a middle option, so I had less distance to travel and lean over and in my car the car seat is in the middle position. So with the height and the location, this was much easier on a mom’s back!

Sorento-46-2

Mazen seemed to love the ride and fell asleep almost every time we traveled. That might just be because he’s getting older. Or it could be because he liked the car : )

Sorento-8175

One of the features I LOVED about the Sorento was the push button start. They keys just have to be in the car and the button turns the engine on. I was able to leave the keys IN MY BAG and start the car. SO convenient and so cool!! I really would love this feature in whichever car we buy. I never would have thought having to use a key to start a car would be a hassle, but once I didn’t need the key, now I realize it sort of is. Just because you always have other things in your hands when getting ready to leave the house.

Sorento-8105

When I rode with Matt as the driver, I had the keys with me in the back seat in the diaper bag and he was able to start the engine and drive away without me having to dig them out and pass them up to the front seat. I just loved this!

Sorento-17

My second favorite feature was the Bluetooth that connected my phone to the Sorento’s speakers. This meant that I could make and receive calls THROUGH the car!! I normally wear a Bluetooth headset if I have to make a call while I am out, but this was obviously so much more convenient. I don’t use my phone while I’m driving, but this made making a call while parked or getting ready to go somewhere so much easier because, like with the keys, your phone could stay in your purse!! I absolutely MUST have this feature in whatever car we buy next.

Sorento-8301

Controls on steering wheel made it even more hands free.

Sorento-8311

Of course I loved having actual locks that worked. This was probably my third favorite feature, and I am dreading going back to my broken Accord!

Sorento-59

Another fancy feature I really liked – heated AND cooled seats. I used them both on different days. The cooling seats feel like an air hockey table – little bits of air blow through little holes in the seat. It definitely cooled me down on one of our warmer fall days. I used the heated seat at night coming back from Blue Mountain Brewery and loved it. It kept me warm + toasty when I wasn’t necessarily cold enough to be blasted with hot air from the vents. I can only imagine how it would feel on a freezing winter day.

Sorento-8104

Real temperatures were on the display instead of just “make it hotter” and “make it colder.” This made it easy to remember your favorite temp.

Sorento-8310

I also really liked the rear back up camera. Since I’ve never driven an SUV before, I’m not used to the size. In general, the Sorento didn’t feel that huge to me. I was pleasantly surprised at how car-like it felt. But backing up was still scary, and this camera was totally awesome to have back there.

Sorento-35

The Sorento also had a navigation system, which I was excited to try out. However, this was one part of the experience that I was disappointed in – as a smartphone user, I found the navigation to be a bit cumbersome. On my phone, I just have to say “Pippin Hill Winery” and Google Maps pulls up the address. But with the navigation, you have to know the physical address of the place. So to use the navigation for directions to the winery, I had to first look up the address on my phone. It would have been quicker to just use my phone in this case. I can see how in a few years this all might change though. And if you’re going on a long car trip and know the address in advance, I do think using this big screen in the car with the speakers (that doesn’t run down your phone’s battery) would be really nice to have.

Sorento-8300

Similar to the navigation, I found the whole touch screen to feel a bit old school. The buttons just weren’t quite as touchy as smartphone buttons, but I really loved having digital radio controls, Bluetooth, etc. in general. Especially because of the steering wheel controls. Whoever thought of that was a genius! We enjoyed listening to music through the music auxiliary jack too –

Sorento-8318

Loved the steering wheel controls that allowed me to flip through my preset stations

Sorento-8312

A few other things I liked about the Sorento – the mirrors were HUGE and folded in when parked.

Sorento-8103Sorento-8324

There were TWO sunroofs that were sweet

Sorento-8309

And the trunk was nice and roomy. Here’s my stroller and grocery bag sitting nicely. I really appreciated the cargo cover because my dad has always been anti-SUV because a thief can see right into the trunk. But not with a cover pulled over your valuables!

Sorento-45

When we went out for a bakery event, we were able to fit three Drader racks no problem. We could not have done this in our Accords! This is another reason we’re shopping for an SUV – as a back-up bakery vehicle to our business truck.

Sorento-33

I rode in the back seat with Mazen a few times and found it to be really roomy.

Sorento-10

I noticed how you sit more level than in a car. Car seats are more reclined, but these SUV seats were more comfortable because I wasn’t forced into an angle. It was easier to move around back there for this reason too.

Sorento-12

Another plus to having an SUV that I got really excited about was using the trunk as a changing table! The height and surface were both ideal for this. A sedan’s trunk or back seat are not. Luckily the Sorento was super clean too : )

Sorento-8089

Although most of my experience was great, there were two things that bugged me a bit by the end of the week.

The first was that the trunk had to be manually opened. I’m used to popping the trunk in my Accord, and while it doesn’t open all the way, at least it’s not latched when I get back there with my hands full. I thought given the other bells and whistles that this trunk would open automatically at the push of a button, but it had to be opened with the handle. But I will say that opening it with the handle was very easy and once it was unlatched it rose up on its own. It was easy to close for this 5’2” gal too, which was good. Not too heavy.

Sorento-8319

The second thing I didn’t really like is something that others probably would: the rearview mirror darkens automatically so you don’t get blinded at night. But I found this to be a bit of a safety concern for me because I had trouble seeing cars in it it was so dark at times. I would probably get used to this in time though.

Sorento-8315

The Sorento is considered a mid-size SUV and actually has a third row that comes up in the back – sort of like a cooler version of a mini van. We didn’t sit in the back row, but I do think this is important to note for us since we might have more than one child in the next 5-10 years. I’m not sure yet if we’ll want to buy our next car with 2 rows or 3, but I’m glad to know this is an option and easy to pull up with one hand.

Sorento-8322

I am sure the folding seats would have been useful during our moves. One major drawback of my Accord is that the seats don’t go down at all. Matt is always struggling to bring home lumber from Lowes and other big items unsuccessfully. So this would be nice to have. The biggest pro to an SUV!

Sorento-8323

I don’t know much about engines, acceleration and the like, but I will say that the Sorento was a JOY to drive all week. When I pushed the gas, the car zoomed. In one week’s time with multiple visits to the countryside (4 to be exact) and lots of extra driving just to test out the vehicle, we went through half a tank of gas, which I didn’t think was too bad. I had the car set on “Eco” mode all week, which made have helped keep the gas mileage better. Gas mileage in a car is important to me, but not as much as it would be to someone who has a really long work commute or lives in a remote location. Since our environmental goal is just to drive as little as possible in our small town, we are still OK with upgrading to an SUV.

Sorento-8317

I actually hate driving and always hope Matt will volunteer, but this week I was the one volunteering. I really enjoyed driving the Sorento beyond just the fun features. I absolutely loved it from headlights to tail and now feel even more excited for Matt and I to start our research and test drive some other models. Being able to drive the Sorento for a week gave me a wonderful taste of size, features and upgrades to consider, and this model is definitely on our list.

I would love to hear some of your recommendations on what you have liked or disliked in the vehicles you guys drive. What prompted you to buy the car you did? What’s your favorite SUV?

Review: That’s A Wrap!

Since Mazen was born, we have been doing a ton of baby wearing. From making breakfast to working at my computer to events out, the Boba wrap and carrier have both been such a help to allow Mazen to be snuggled next to us (often napping) and give we parents a bit of two-handed freedom.

Boba sent me both the Baby Wrap and the Carrier to review on BERF.

Foodblog-6169

Wrap

Foodblog-6049

Recall back in April when I tried the wrap out with a bear – I couldn’t wait to have a real baby to put inside!

I tried out the wrap first because I wasn’t sure that newborn Maze would be ready for the sturdier carrier yet. The first time I put it on, it took me a looong time to figure out while reading the instructions step by step. However, by time #3, I could put it on within 30 seconds with a crying baby waiting to be held! The layers and layers of fabric look intimidating, but once you learn what goes where, it’s very simple to put on.

Putting the baby in properly has been a bit of a learning curve. The first time I put the wrap on, I didn’t realize how tight it needed to be and had to take it off within 5 minutes when it wasn’t supportive enough. Matt learned the same lesson the hard way when he wore it the first time and went for a walk. Let it be known that when these mistakes were happening, we were on high alert to ensure Mazen was safe and his airways never blocked. The lesson we both learned is that the fabric has to be VERY tight when you put the wrap on – so tight that you don’t think the baby will fit in – to be supportive enough once he is inside.

Boba has a complete list of safe baby wearing instructions, tips and very important safety notes on its website. 

The wrap is very comfortable for both me and Mazen. It’s also compact and comes with a carrying bag so that it’s easy to throw in the bottom of the stroller if we need to switch from strolling to wearing while we’re out. We also like the wrap because it keeps our baby protected from strangers who might want to touch or ask to hold him while in public.

The only downside to the wrap is that it’s not quite as supportive as the carrier, and after wearing it while out walking, my lower back was very tired. It’s also pretty hot to have on in warm weather, but that’s to be expected. For someone on the smaller side, there is also tons of excess fabric that I just wrap 2-3 times around my waist. It’s not really in the way, but it is bulky.

Carrier

Foodblog-6170

Mazen was 3 weeks old when I put him in the carrier for the first time. I first had to adjust it for the newborn size, which required flipping the hip belt up and adjusting the buckles (which was a bit tricky). Putting it on is as easy as snapping two buckles and adjusting the straps, and he felt safe and secure from the first time I used it.

I was amazed right away at how supportive it is for my body. I can wear it much longer than the wrap without feeling physically tired. It’s also more supportive for Mazen, as the fabric is stronger and tighter. I love the pocket on the front too – handy to stash a phone playing white noise (on airplane mode since it’s close to his head). 

The only downside when comparing the two is that the carrier is much bigger and harder to travel with if you’re not using it.

If I had to choose one as a favorite, I would pick the carrier simply because it’s more comfortable for me to wear, and I imagine as Maze gets bigger and heavier, this will become even more important. Matt and I love wearing our baby, and he loves it too – he is almost always calm while he’s being worn. And these days it’s pretty much the only way we can get him to nap!

Boba has offered a 10% off coupon code for any of you who might be on the market for a wrap or carrier. Enter Babykerf at checkout until November 30, 2012 on both Boba and Peekaru products.

27 Weeks: Knocked Up Fitness

While I was at the beach last week I brought along the Knocked Up Fitness Pilates Infused Fitness DVD. The DVD is led by mother-of-three Pilates instructor Erica Ziel. Erica sent me her DVDs to review here on BERF.

IMG_1260

As you know, I am not very experienced in Pilates. I’ve done a class here and there – maybe 5 in my lifetime. I blame my lack of participation on an itch to move around, but I do think it’s a very effective method of strengthening. Now that I’ve slowed down a bit with my fitness, Pilates is more appealing. Especially because the equipment required is minimal.

In my expedited vacation workout schedule, I opted to do 3 of the short workouts:

-Warm-up (12 mins)

-Prenatal Fitcamp (8 mins)

-Total Body Pilates (8 mins)

IMG_1261

I didn’t have my exercise ball with me at the beach or any weights, but I improvised with the ball and used water bottles for weights.

Workout

Overall, I really enjoyed the workout! I felt like I’d be stretched and strengthened during the ~30 minutes I did. In fact, I was only going to do 2 of the workouts and ended up adding one more because they went by so fast.

Loved

  • How short the workouts were. In contrast to Expecting More, which I liked because the workouts were so long, this is a great contrast for days when you don’t want to spend an hour weight lifting. Perfect especially for later trimesters when you don’t really know how your energy levels will be : )
  • The workouts move fast – so I never got bored or itchy
  • I liked Erica’s temperament and the studio was really pretty and natural – not 80s aerobics décor
  • You can really do one of these every day because they are short and effective OR you can do more at once and bank them together
  • I felt that new muscles of mine were used, a nice contrast to Body Pump power lifting
  • It was similar to my prenatal yoga class with pelvic tilts/cat cow

Didn’t Love

  • The exercise ball – because I didn’t have mine with me! But I just put a pillow down on the floor, so it wasn’t a huge deal
  • While I found the workout to be effective, I didn’t feel super challenged. But who really is after that late in pregnancy anyways?
  • I just don’t looove Pilates, but I can see how beneficial this type of workout is

Since this was just the Pilates “infused” session, I’m betting the other DVD – THE Pilates workout – is harder! I definitely think these workouts will be good for post-baby home exercise too.

Here is the Amazon page and costs – $19 each or $36 for both. I would recommend getting the fitness one if you don’t love Pilates and the other if you already practice.

Previous 27 week posts

Snapshots

PREVIOUS WEEKS

4 weeks

5 weeks

6 weeks

7 weeks

8 weeks

9 weeks

10 weeks

11 weeks

12 weeks

13 weeks

14 weeks

15 weeks

16 weeks

17 weeks

18 weeks

19 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

22 weeks

23 weeks

24 weeks

25 weeks

26 weeks

22 Weeks: Expecting More

Since changing my fitness routine around a little bit with pregnancy (mostly a decrease in intensity and hiatus of running), the idea of fitness at home has become more appealing. I tried out my first prenatal DVD a month ago and liked the level of workout I got without leaving my house a lot. Shortly after I mentioned doing that DVD, Sara Haley’s Expecting More contacted me to see if I would like to review the 6-workout DVD set.

IMG_20120418_122921Blog

So far I’ve done 3/6 of the workouts – the 3 on the cardio disc – and have been beyond impressed. The workouts are long enough to feel productive and intense enough to get me out of breath and break a sweat (a rarity for me!). They’ve been fast-paced and fun too. Sara isn’t cheesy at all, and I’m impressed with all she can do with the size of her bump! Here’s a promo video that shows what the workouts are like.

Here are reviews of the three workouts I’ve tried so far:

IMG_20120418_122628Blog

Sweat Sport

I started with the sports-themed class because I’m competitive and all Smile It’s been a while since I’ve felt like an athlete, and with my second-trimester energy, an athletic conditioning class sounded like a good challenge. Throughout the class you build on a series of exercises that you do as a routine at the end. The exercises involved more jumping and bouncing than I expected in a prenatal workout, but that’s also why it was such a good challenge!! I was a bit timid to jump around at first but found that I had no problem doing it. We did jumping jacks, running in place, shuffles and more. Each exercise built on the last and by the end performance we did them all together in a 2-3 minute stretch. It was hard!! The class lasted almost an hour including the warm-up and cool-down, so there was no need to repeat anything. I had considered doing another segment when I started, but I was too beat to think of it when it ended!

Sweat Funk

Dance classes tend to make me feel way too cheesy, and as a former dancer, sometimes they are just too easy. Grapevines don’t get my heart rate up that much. But this class was good. It was a nice mix of funky steps and some bigger movements that moved you across the room to get you out of breath. I found it pretty hard to keep up and remember the steps at times, but I’m sure after a few more classes I’ll have it all down. Just like the fitness class, this one build the steps up into a routine that you did at the end in a performance section. The whole class was about an hour, and my body felt tired when I was finished. It’s really the 10 minutes of non-stop performance at the end that ends both cardio classes with a bang!

Synergy

The first two workouts were all cardio and didn’t require any equipment at all. Perfect for hotel rooms, travel and rainy days! The combo class was an hour-long strength and cardio interval workout. You needed a chair and some weights as equipment. I ended up using horseshoes because I didn’t have any weights, but they worked just fine. I liked the interval style a lot, although the cardio segments were less intense than the two above cardio classes. As a regular at Body Pump, I felt like the weights were on the easy side, but it was still nice to do when I couldn’t get to pump that week. Now that Faith let me borrow some 9 pounders, I have a feeling it will be more challenging! I still felt like it was a great overall toning workout and it would be good for beginners and intermediates alike.

2012-04-18 12.27.58Blog

Overall

Pros

  • Love the timer that counts down not only each exercise but how many minutes are left in your whole class
  • Not cheesy
  • Actually challenging
  • Options to modify if you’re feeling more tired one day or bump it up if you have extra energy
  • Fast pace so when you do it a few times a week you don’t have to go super slow while they teach the steps again each time
  • Mental challenge as you build on the routines
  • 6 workouts in one set so variety with familiarity
  • Will be great for home workouts post-partum too!

2012-04-18 12.27.19Blog

Cons

  • I wish there were a strength workout that just used body weight (like planks, pushups, squats) for a guided strength workout if you don’t have equipment or while traveling
  • I would LOVE if one of the 6 workouts was a childbirth fitness class like my prenatal yoga class and guided you through a series of pelvic exercises, squats and meditation. I’d do that multiple times a week!

Still to come: reviews of the two total strength workouts (which are hard for me to fit in because I’m already tired from Pump twice a week!) and the salutation workout, all on disc two

PREVIOUS 22 WEEK POSTS

Things I Love About Prenatal Yoga

Pop!

10 Things

PREVIOUS WEEKS

4 weeks

5 weeks

6 weeks

7 weeks

8 weeks

9 weeks

10 weeks

11 weeks

12 weeks

13 weeks

14 weeks

15 weeks

16 weeks

17 weeks

18 weeks

19 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

19 Weeks: Belli Skincare

As you’ve probably sensed, I’ve been addicted to Pregtastic podcasts. I’ve listened during many-a-walks, while cooking dinner and while in the shower. The information featured on the show – from chatty Ups and Downs to the serious medical issues discussed — has been wonderful.

I listened to these two episodes earlier this year about skincare during pregnancy:

Safe Skincare During Pregnancy

Skincare Concerns: During And After Pregnancy

Not surprisingly, I hadn’t given much thought to the products I was using. I generally lean toward more green products free of sulfates and parabens (Alba Sea Minerals is my face care favorite, and I love Organix shampoos and handmade soaps), but not everything I use is considered natural.

The Pregtastic episodes featured Dr. Jason Rubin, founding physician and medical director for Belli skin care as the first expert, and the second show featured his wife, Annette Rubin, co-founder of Belli, sharing some skincare advice. The team had me convinced I needed to try their products – especially with the smell testimonials from the Pregtastic panelists in the room! Every single ingredient in Belli products has been scientifically tested to be safe for pregnancy, so there is no reason not to feel great about slathering the products all over your skin. Read their FAQ for more information on the safety and research behind the products.

A big bonus: Pregtastic listeners get 20% off with the coupon code Pregtastic, a huge plus considering these products are not cheap!!

I mentioned in this post that I went to ULTA to give the products a smell before ordering, and Belli got a tip from my KERF link and offered to send me a bundle to review. I couldn’t wait to try them, so I accepted, with the promise to write my thoughts on them on BERF.

I don’t think I have ever been more excited to receive a package in the mail!!

 

After a few weeks of using them, here are my thoughts:

Acne Cleansing Facial Wash [$22]

I learned from the episodes that most acne medicines, like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide, are not safe during pregnancy, and ironically many women see an increase in acne from all the hormones. What’s a girl to do!? The Belli facial wash uses lactic acid to clean and prevent bacteria build up, which is considered safe. I really like it, but it isn’t as heavenly in smell as my sea minerals : )

Smell: Like lemonade!! It has a combo of green tea and lemon peel that I love.

Plus: A little goes a very long way.

Would I Buy Again? Yes

Fresh Start Pre-Treatment Scrub [$19]

Possibly my favorite product, this scrub smells amazing – of a sweet peppermint. The micro-beads are small enough that the scrub doesn’t hurt my face at all. And a little goes a long way.

Smell: Peppermint and WONDERFUL!

Plus: I don’t use this everyday, so it is lasting a long time.

Buy Again? Yes, but I’d make it last a looong time since it’s more of a want than need!

Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator [$32]

The facial moisturizer is probably my least favorite of the line. Not because it’s bad, but I’m just not wild about the smell and I find that it’s a bit difficult to manage. It comes out REALLY fast and I’ve made quite a few messes in my bedroom with it squirting all over. I’ve learned to open it upsidedown! It’s a thin consistency and more of a serum than a lotion. I don’t think it moisturizes my face as well as a lotion would (my face is usually really tight after a shower) but once I put the sunscreen on (below), all is nice and comfortable.

Smell: Lemony/Chamomile (which I don’t love in general)

Cons: A bit too liquidy for my taste, but a little goes a long way.

Buy Again: Probably not.

Anti-Chloasma Facial Sunscreen SPF-25 [$24]

This is the best facial suncreen I have ever used. In the past I’ve worn traditional sunscreens (from brands like Aveeno and Neutragena) designed for faces. I have no idea if those are safe for pregnancy, but based on the info in the podcast, I’m guessing they are not. I also tried a natural, zinc-based sunscreen last year (Alba Mineral Vanilla) and it left my whole face white! It was also very hard to rub in. The Belli brand is more like a tinted moisturizer so it doesn’t change the color of your skin, and it blends in really well. Really like it!

Smell: Like a day at the beach – love it.

Con: Expensive and I use it generously. Wish they made it affordable enough for the whole body! I suppose I will just turn my limbs white from a zinc product for whole-body coating.

Buy Again? Yes!

Elasticity Belly Oil [$39]

This product is designed to minimize (not prevent) stretch marks. This is the article Belli cites to support that the formulation in the belly oil reduces stretch marks, and there was a significant reduction in stretch marks. From what I hear, stretch marks are mostly genetic, but reducing their severity can be controlled with topical products. I’ve been putting the oil on my breasts, stomach and hips, where I have had stretch marks in the past. We’ll see how my body does!

Smell: Lovely lavender essential oil – a bit strong at times.

Con: The oil spritzes out, which I like, but it comes out hard so it sometimes sprays on things. It also makes me feel pretty oily for a little bit, but it hasn’t been a huge deal. It lasts long!

Buy Again? Yes.

All Day Moisture Body Lotion [$19]

Absolutely love this lotion! The lemon smell is awesome – like a lemon cookie – and the lotion is great. I feel good about putting all over head-to-toe because I know it’s safe. Lotions can be sketchy and full of perfumes and unknowns.

Smell: The best part! Lemon desserts!

Plus/Cons: None, other than it’s not cheap.

Buy Again? As much as I love the smell, I might search for a less expensive natural lotion.

Stretchmark Minimizing Cream [$49]

I haven’t tried this yet because I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I get stretch marks first! But the research numbers sound promising. It is very expensive though!

In addition to the Pregtastic discount, you can also purchase the products in sets, which reduces the price. For face, body, and more.

Belli products are pricey, but they are very high quality, well researched and safe. And for almost all of them, a little goes a long way, so they are lasting a while. There is also a Baby Line, which I bet smells amazing!

18 Weeks: Ova Ova

After stumbling upon BERF a few weeks ago and reading my conception posts, the owner of Ova Ova contacted me to share her website, which is a fertility tracker much like Fertility Friend. Ova Ova has a modern, fresh look and a more conservative ovulation predictor software than FF, which is good when you’re trying to ensure you “catch” ovulation for both family planning and trying to conceive.

I used Fertility Friend for a few months while trying to conceive and found it easy to use. I loved having the knowledge of my temperatures on a graph. Having the Android app was very important since I was entering data from bed most of the time. Note that I did track more information – but I kept it private because it was intimate! FF did feel old school at times, and it was confusing to figure out why the program was changing my ovulation date or when ovulation would be confirmed. But overall, it worked for me.

You can see my posts about using Fertility Friend here: Cycle 2, Cycle 3, Positively Pregnant.

Pregnant

There is now an alternative!

Ova Ova can be used for both natural family planning and trying-to-conceive cycles. The Ova Ova software uses temperatures and cervical mucus to pin-point ovulation with a bulls eye.

Chart (580x472)

The bar colors make it easier to see at a glance when you are most fertile. Green bars on your chart mean you’re potentially fertile, blue bars mean you’re infertile, bulls-eye shows your ovulation day. Once ovulation is confirmed, all but the day of ovulation and the 5 days prior turn blue since these are the only days sex can result in a pregnancy. Here is a link to tons of additional information on charting!

Data (559x533)

You can also add in more details like prenatal vitamins, exercise and ovulation predictor kits. It’s great for tracking all-things-womanhood.

Morethings (399x580)

Amanda took my actual Fertility Friend chart and entered the data (minus the CM text for privacy Smile ) Here’s what it looked like:

no cf (580x433)

Compared to FF, there was a small change in ovulation date (which I’m pretty sure was accurate due to my ovulation predictor and my baby’s conception date based on ultrasound!)

Pregnant

For those of you interested in details, Amanda included the following explanation on why my ovulation dates were different on the charts. The simple answer is to be more conservation and not assume ovulation has occurred until you can be SURE it has:

Something you may notice that’s different between your Ova Ova chart and your Fertility Friend chart is that your ovulation date was pegged as December 12th (cycle day 27) on the Ova Ova chart instead of cycle day 24 like it was on the FF chart.

Although a combination of temperature and cervical fluid are very accurate methods of identifying your most likely ovulation date, most research shows that the very moment of ovulation could be plus or minus two days in either direction.  At Ova Ova, we’ve made a conscious choice that we’d rather identify your ovulation date once we are 100% sure that it has occurred rather than possibly identifying it early. This is obviously very important if you are going to use this method for birth control, but also for women that are trying to get pregnant.  We definitely don’t want our users to give up on sex too early before ovulation has occurred (you might just be missing prime time if you do), and you may start taking pregnancy tests far too early.

We use the most conservative rules of the symptothermal method before we identify ovulation.  So on your chart, you’ll notice that you were still identifying peak cervical fluid on cycle day 25 (normally cervical fluid dries up before ovulation occurs), also your temperature shift on day 25, 26, and 27 wasn’t as strong as is recognized by the Fertility Awareness Method rules.  Most traditional Fertility Awareness Research suggests that you should look at your highest temperature in the previous 6 (so in your case, 96.6), then draw the coverline .1 degrees higher (97.7), and if three temperatures exceed the coverline (97.7 in your case) and you don’t experience any peak cervical fluid, you can confirm ovulation.  After cycle day 25, your temperature on cycle day 27 (the supposed third day of rise) did not exceed 97.7, so I would be apprehensive about confirming ovulation for you on cycle day 24.  Our method uses an average of all your pre-ovulation temperatures and looks for a shift of .3 degrees above the average.  In an 8,000 woman study this was found the most accurate method of identifying the coverline, although the pre-shift six rules are also considered very conservative.  Fertility Friend gives no explanation, or has any published research about how they came up with 97.6 for the coverline.

Both FF and OO cost a fee for use after a 30-day trial, but it hardly costs much: Ova Ova is $36/year and Fertility Friend is $45/year for a VIP membership (I think – it’s hard to find this info on their site!)

FF has an app that was SUPER helpful for early morning data entry from bed. OO does not have one yet, but it’s in the near future and will be free for members.

Hope this information will be helpful to those of you interested in charting. Ova Ova has a free 30 day trial and Amanda has offered to giveaway free memberships to the first 15 readers to sign up : ) The first 15 people to email amanda@ovaova.com will be the winners.