Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon


  • French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacked, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters
  • By: Karen Le Billon
  • ISBN-13: 9780062103291
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 305


Similar in tone to Bringing Up Bebe, French Kids Eat Everything chronicles a woman's journey into French family and culinary culture. Karen Le Billon and her husband decide to leave their Canadian home on a year-long sabbatical to the French countryside where her husband grew up. While his family may welcome them back, many in the town do no immediately warm up to this intruding family, especially since their values seem to clash. Karen learns the secrets to their culinary prowess, through shopping local and figuring out how to get her kids to eat any vegetable that they are presented. 

Through trial and error, Karen comes up with food rules that enable her to strike a balance between French eating norms and values she does not want to give up from her North American culture.


I really enjoyed this book, especially as a follow-up to Bringing Up Bebe, which I had just finished. I enjoyed both the personal aspects, her struggles with assimilating her family into a foreign culture, as well as the cultural aspects, the descriptions of the French town and culinary norms.

Her food rules also allow for personal reflection as my husband and I start our family and begin to make the decisions that will influence our home life and daughter. How and what do we want our daughter to eat? How can we strike a balance between health and convenience? This book puts a lot into perspective, that how we raise our children and interact with food in their childhood can profoundly influence how they eat as adults. It's our responsibility to do the best we can for our kids and I think Ms. Le Billon provides a pathway, probably with some tweaking to fit personal preferences and lifestyles, that parents can follow to enable healthy food relationships for their children. This book is not at all preachy or full of know-it-all advice. I enjoyed reading about the author's failures in her pursuit to healthy eating as well as her successes. Life is not perfect, it can be messy, and this book shows that. We all want the best for our kids, and I think learning about different methods, theories, cultures, and ideas can allow us to pick what we believe is best and works for us.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why Cloth Diapers? Part 2

This is the second post on my cloth diaper experience thus far. Part 1 talks about the beginning of my journey.

With the invention of disposable diapers, why would anyone voluntarily choose to use cloth diapers? They need to be washed, stored, folded, stuffed, sprayed, etc etc etc...

There are several different reasons why some might choose to use cloth diapers, including the fact that cloth diapers are: economical, environmentally-friendly, chemical free, and just simply cute. Let's explore some of these reasons:

Economical Reasons:
Buying disposable diapers- even cheap ones, even cheap ones with coupons, is still just throwing your money in the trash. Disposable diapers follow this trajectory- put diaper on baby, baby pees/poops, take diaper off and toss it. At no point was there any gain to your life, other than I guess you hopefully did not also need to change baby's clothes. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are reusable. Therefore, you only need so many and then you can be done buying diapers! The cost of running you washer and maybe dryer are significantly outweighed by the cost of buying endless cases of diapers that just get thrown out.

Now, depending on what disposable diapers you would buy and what cloth diaper system you choose, you may spend close to what you would have on disposable diapers or you could come out thousands of dollars in the black by choosing cloth diapers. Cloth diapers come in a range of price points, so actual savings vary but I think you would find it difficult to actually spend more by cloth diapering unless you use a cloth diaper service to launder the diapers.

I have heard of people cloth diapering their child on $200, from start to finish. Others may spend upwards $1000 when it's all said and done. The common estimate for disposable diapers, though, from birth to potty training, averages around $2500. And that's just one child, your cloth diapers may last for a second a child as well!

Environmental Reasons:
It's no secret that disposable diapers are filling up our landfills. They take a long time to decompose, use up a lot of resources to produce and ship to their final destination. Cloth diapers, as stated above, are by nature reusable. They can also be made of entirely natural fibers if you choose (you can use covers made of wool instead of synthetic fibers/coatings), making them even more environmentally friendly. Some may argue that the increased washing offsets that environmental toll of disposable diapers, but that doesn't make sense. While there is increased laundering when using cloth diapers, that water can be treated and recycled, diapers sitting in a landfill cannot.

Chemical-Free Reasons:
Whether from personal choice and a baby's sensitive skin, some parents avoid chemicals as much as possible. Disposable diapers contain many chemicals, both from the processing of the diaper as well as the absorbent nature of the diapers. Disposable diapers contain a powder that forms a gel when it comes into contact with a liquid. This is what gives them their highly absorbent nature. Some babies are sensitive to one or many of the chemicals in these diapers. Other parents may worry about possible carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) or endocrine disrupters in the diapers. Cloth diapers are the answers to these worries! It's just cloth! They may not be as absorbent as disposable diapers but at least your baby's skin is safe! Some diapers are made of synthetic fibers, some of which can be nice because it may allow for a "stay dry" feel against babies skin, but it is not at all hard to find and use only natural fibers if that is what you choose. In fact, one of the cheapest ways to cloth diaper is to use covers with cotton prefolds!

Lastly, while I originally wanted to cloth diaper in order to save money and avoid possible toxins, cuteness has won out for my top reason. My modest, non-budget busting diaper stash has grown as I find new diapers to try and prints or colors that I must have! I think this reason will grow even more in my favor once we hit some warmer months and I can show off her diapers more since we won't need to be bundled up against the cold! While dressing up my daughter in cute diapers won't win me any humanitarian rewards or save the world, it is a nice perk in my day to day life. And that's a enough for me.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Love Cloth Diapers! The Beginning

From the time that we found out we were pregnant, we knew we wanted to cloth diaper our new bundle of joy.

Friends of ours were already cloth diapering their little boy and had brought this modern day classic to our attention. We loved it! Save money - yay! No chemicals - yay! Super cute - yay!

One of our first forays into baby shopping was to a local Mennonite general store that had cloth diapers. They carried BumGenius 4.0s, Flip covers, inserts, and prefolds. We snapped up some covers and prefolds. My husbands grandmother bought us several more covers from the store over the next couple of months. 

As the months passed and we anxiously awaited our little girl, I continued to look up cloth diapers online- I wanted to be totally ready to go before baby got here. 

Online I found even more! So many brands! Types of diapers! Prints! Cute fluffiness!! Plus, since we had found out that we were having a girl, it was so hard to resist the beautiful girly prints and colors- so I didn't ;-)

After almost 4 months cloth diapering, I'm still in love and want to share that. I'll start by posting everything that I've learned over the past year and reviewing the diapers that I've used. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman


  • Bringing Up Bebe
  • By: Pamela Druckerman
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Pages: 304

Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist, finds herself as an expat living in Paris with her British husband. They decide to start a family, which begins Pamela's journey into motherhood in a foreign country. She investigates French parenting to learn what they do well in parenting and to help her family integrate better into French culture.

I read this book when my daughter was only a few weeks old. Now that she is a little over 3 months and I'm trying to remember back to those hazy weeks, I can only recall some of the more salient points. I remember enjoying the book and this woman's experience of motherhood and learning about French parenting. I gained a few valuable points- the first being what Pamela calls 'The Pause.' 

Pamela notices that the majority of French infants begin to sleep through the night by at least 3 months, which can be viewed as very early in American society for an infant. While there are several possible reasons for this, including the fact that many French mothers formula feed rather than choosing to try breastfeeding, 'The Pause' appears to also play a role in this milestone. Pamela observes French mothers pausing before responding to their infants noises/cries. They are not ignoring their infant, rather observing them to see what they need and if they really need it or are just making noises. My daughter was a very loud breather as a newborn and I had a hard time sleeping through her various rattles and snorts. I often checked on her throughout the night and responded immediately to any sound she made. After reading this part of Bringing Up Bebe, I began to make a conscious effort to observe my daughter before responding. Sometimes my pause was only 3 seconds when it was clear she was hungry or upset, but sometimes- miraculously, if I waited just 30 seconds or a minute if she wasn't really upset, my daughter would settle down again and go right back to sleep! She wasn't actually hungry, just waking between a sleep cycle and trying to settle down again. When I started to employ this pause, she also started sleeping an occasional 3 or 4 hour stint during the night, rather than consistent two hour intervals. Whether this was due to me pausing or her normal development, I'll never know but I do think it contributed some.

Bringing Up Bebe brings up many points in how French parenting differs from American- from sleeping through the night, the food offered to toddlers, and the day care system of France. While not every point was something I wanted to try- I still breastfeed, feed on demand, and I'm going to stay at home as long as possible, it was an entertaining and informative book. I would recommend it for new or expecting parents. It's not an all inclusive how to book for parents but it is an easy read and you may find ideas that work for you!

Amazon associates link:
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Stocking

My first quilting project! My first Christmas stocking! My first embroidery project! All for my first little girl!

I used the pattern from this delightful blog/store. Overall, it was not too difficult to make, one of the hardest parts was finding the fabric I wanted to use. I ended up buying a charm pack for the pieced front.

Some of the instructions were a little lacking in detail. Perhaps if I had more experience, I would not have found it confusing. In particular, I did not understand her instructions for attaching the cuff along the top, but I figured out a method that worked and I'm happy with how it turned out.

This was also the first time I used the embroidery function on my new sewing machine! It was actually really easy to set up and get it going! I used one test piece of fabric to figure out what to do and what I wanted it to look like, then I figured out where on the cuff fabric I would need the name, and voila! A personalized Christmas stocking! Yay!

Has anyone made anything to use for Christmas or decorating? I'd love to see!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Weather

Winter has arrived! My mom and sister stayed home today since school was canceled (Mom is a teacher). We had a nice day inside getting things done and then catching up on the TV show Once. Luckily my husband left before the storm hit and then came home after the roads were cleaned up. My dad got stuck in some bad weather/traffic and his commute doubled in length this morning but we all made it home safe at the end of the day.

I took RG out to see the snow laying  but she didn't seem very interested. I put a little snow in her hand, which she ignored. Maybe next year I'll get more of a reaction :)

I hope everyone is enjoying the weather and staying safe!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Goals and Resolutions

I think before I really attempt to get this blog going I should set some goals and resolutions for what I want to do and what I want to gain from this experience, besides I love lists. By laying it all out, I am more likely to follow through with what I set out to do. Hopefully anyone who reads this blog can also hold me accountable to my goals.

My goals and resolutions form two different aspects of my blog. My goals will have concrete tasks that can be accomplished and checked off a list. They are things that I want to do to achieve my vision for this space and my daily life. My resolutions, on the other hand, are ideals that I will continue to work towards but may not have set steps that can be finished. My resolutions will be more ongoing and less tangible in the physical sense.


~Post 2-3 times weekly
~Try out a new recipe at least once a month
~Review at least book a month

~Take monthly pictures
~Record special moments- big and small

~Set up a budget
~Prioritize saving
~Learn about IRAs, 401ks, 529s, investment options
~Begin process for buying a house

~Continue to learn to quilt
~Try knitting
~Finish baby's cross-stitch
~Re-start etsy shop
~Try crocheting a baby hat

~Start Zumba exercises
~Lose at least the ten extra pounds left from pregnancy weight

~Continue reading baby-related books to gain new perspectives/ideas
~Read "for fun" books to give myself a break/stress-relief
~Read classics for the fun of it, even if they are denser than fluff books


~Place importance on achieving happiness in daily life- focus on both the here and now as well as working for the future
~Enjoy the present, it will never happen again
~Appreciate all that my husband does for us

I'll try to add more to this throughout the month, I would like to have a cohesive, inclusive list set for the new year.