Camp Pokémon: If Your Kid is a Little Too Young for Pokémon GO

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

The whole family has gotten into Pokémon GO. Even my husband who has always just rolled his eyes when The Grasshopper and I start talking Pokémon downloaded the app and has been playing. We all enjoy running around the neighborhood, checking in on the gyms, visiting the PokéStops, and finding new pokemon.

Well, almost all of us.

Poor Cricket just can’t seem to get the hang of it, and while her big sister can throw a Poké Ball like a true master, Cricket tends to just fling them offscreen. Bless her heart, she wasted a dozen of my Poké Balls trying to catch a pidgey the other day.

She wants so badly to participate, and while she’s great at spinning the PokéStops, when it comes to catching Pokémon, she just doesn’t have the fine motor skills yet.

The good news is, there’s an app out there that gives her the chance to play Pokémon along with the rest of us: Camp Pokémon.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

The app is a collection of mini-games that introduces young kids to the world of Pokémon and gives them a way to participate in the excitement.

There’s a game where you learn about Pokémon strengths by selecting which Pokémon type is strongest against the Pokémon floating down the river.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

There’s another game where you get to practice throwing pokeballs arcade-style at Pokémon as they parade past. (This one is actually kind of hard!)

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

There’s a memory game that introduces the Pokémon TCG (that’s “The Card Game”) that starts easy with simply matching Pokémon, but gets harder (matching types), and then harder again (matching evolutions), as your child’s knowledge and speed increase.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

Cricket’s favorite is the game where you have to look for Pokémon in the wild. She loves going to the different environments and searching for new Pokémon.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

There are lots more games, too, and even the chance for kids to unlock Mega-Evolutions, which both Cricket and The Grasshopper get excited about.

With lots of fun mini-games, Camp Pokémon is a great, free way for little kids too participate in the Pokémon excitement.

The skill level required for these games is pretty low, but they’ve still managed to make the games a little challenging by adding levels to each game, so I enjoy sitting with her and taking turns playing. Best of all, for us, it lets Cricket keep up with her big sister and gives her a real and satisfying way to become part of the world of Pokémon.

If you’ve got a little one, I really recommend this game. It’s free, and kids don’t have to know how to read in order to play. So if your little one is aching to play but isn’t quite ready to become a Pokémon master, let them play at Camp Pokémon!

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Winter Skin Rescue from Grateful Naturals – Review and Giveaway!

We got so spoiled over Christmas with the warm weather that I almost forgot how dry winter skin can get here in the midwest. But then, in a flurry of snowfall, everything changed. Sure, I love sledding with my kids and making hot chocolate and doing those snow day rituals (taping a penny to your door and flushing an ice cube down the toilet?), but let’s face it. I’m the SAHM, which means I am the primary dishwasher in the family, the primary bottom wiper, and the one who washes her hands the most. A few weeks ago, my hands were actually cracking and bleeding. Winter really does take dry skin to a whole new level.

So I was excited when, after this crazy day when Kellymom.com shared my post on handling breastfeeding criticism, the owner of Grateful Naturals reached out to me to see if I’d like to try a few of her products to share with my readers on my blog. I don’t really do reviews much. Y’all know that. But I took some time to look at her products and her company and quickly saw a kindred spirit. Monica started her business in order to provide families with natural skin care products that nourish the skin. You can read more about her story here. The thing I love about the company is that all of the products are made in the US, right in Ventura, California where I used to live! It’s really a hometown business, run by a mom, who is in my Ventura mom’s group as it turns out! I love supporting small, women-owned businesses, and when they’ve got great products like Grateful Naturals, I want to share them with you guys.

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So here’s the rundown on the products I tried:

Lip Balm – Vanilla Honeysuckle 

I can’t decide what’s worse about winter: cracked hands or chapped lips. I’m going to go with chapped lips. Hands I can ignore if I need to. Lips just hurt all the time, and I always manage to leave home without my chapstick. By the end of the day, my lips just hurt so bad. That’s where the Grateful Naturals lip balm comes in. Monica sent me the Vanilla Honeysuckle, and it was love at first… um… taste? It is great. It works well, does not sting at all like some lip balms do, and it heals and protects my lips.

But that’s not the best part.

For me, the best part is the size. The tube is slim enough that I can actually slip it into my wallet. Okay, now I know I carry kind of a big wallet, but I still think this is a game changer. No matter where I am, I always have lip balm with me! My lips never have to crack again!

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Tushy Cream – Cloth Diaper Friendly

She also sent me some diaper rash cream, which is funny because I don’t have kids in diapers anymore but somehow my family still deals with chapped booties. Once again, the product works great. It has a nice, light scent that comes from the calendula, chamomile, and lavender, all of which are healing ingredients, not fragrance. There is also melaluca (tea tree oil), but I can’t smell that which I appreciate. Sometimes that smell is too medicine-y and bothers me. The Tushy Cream heals chapped bottoms quickly and washes out of underwear easily, which makes sense since it is cloth diaper friendly.

You know how I like products that serve more than one purpose, like how I use lanolin nipple cream for everything, and this one fits the bill nicely. I found myself using this on my upper arms where I get those annoying red spots, on my belly and elbows, and on all the itchy spots my kids get from dry, winter skin. It goes on easily and puts down a nice moisture barrier that stops the itching.

You might notice that the top of this one is a little dug out. This is because I preferred to apply it to bootie rashes with a q-tip. It’s designed to be applied straight to the baby’s bottom like a giant chapstick, which I think is respectful in that in means you don’t have to put your hands on your kiddos private parts more than necessary. However, since we’ve been using it on more that just booties, I prefered to use a q-tip to apply it to chapped bottoms to avoid cross contamination.

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Deodorant Stick – Lavender

The deodorant stick was a bit of a stretch for me, I’ll be honest. I was hesitant to try it because all of the store-bought natural deodorants I’ve tried have left a strange, waxy-feeling film on my pits that just feels awful by the end of the day. I’m so glad I tried this one, though. No waxy build-up, and it worked great, leaving my pits feeling soft and fresh.

Now keep in mind, I’m trying this in winter, and not the dead heat of summer, but it worked very well for me. It smelled great, didn’t leave powdery streaks all over my clothes, and it kept me stink-free all day. It was also much easier than having to fool with making my own. I just don’t have the time for that anymore with how busy both kids and a part time job and writing are keeping me.

This is also one that I would purchase for the girls when they get older as a good, natural first deodorant.

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Healing Salve

I saved my favorite for last. This healing salve is awesome. It has helped us with all kinds of owies: rug burns, chapped cheeks, cracked and bleeding knuckles, scraped knees, razor cuts, and many other little ouchies that I just can’t think of. My kids love it. It’s soothing and it really does seem to speed healing. In fact, they love it so much, that when I threw my back out day before yesterday, little Cricket ran to get it because she was convinced that the green stuff would help my back feel better. How cute is that?

This really is a great, all-around healing cream that ought to be a staple in the first aid box. Monica even says it can be used on bug bites and sunburns, so I’m sure we will get to try that out this summer!

When Monica heard how much I loved this one she suggested giving one away to one of my readers! So be sure to read all the way to the bottom so you can see how to enter this giveaway!

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Grateful Naturals makes a little bit of everything: sunscreen, men’s deodorant, hand and body cream, perineal spray for new mamas, and even a hand sanitizer. The best part is, her prices are reasonable and in line with what I would expect to pay for a good quality, natural product. I plan to order several of these when I run out, most notably the healing salve and the lip balm. And I’m sure I will order the sunscreen this summer to try it out, too.

Definitely check out the Grateful Naturals products. You won’t be sorry! And be sure to let me know if you decide to try any!

Here’s a quick, clickable wrap-up of the products I tried:

The Giveaway!

Grateful Naturals is giving one of my readers a free Healing Salve to help with chapped skin and scraped knees! Just click this link to go to Rafflecopter for your entries! Clicking this link will open a new tab and take you to the Rafflecopter website where you can securely enter the giveaway.

The giveaway has ended.

Congratulations JackieGirl82! Remember, if you didn’t win, you can still use the coupon code below!

 

The Coupon Code!

Whether or not you win the free hand salve, all of my readers can get 20% off their Grateful Naturals purchase from now until the end of February! Just enter the code SKINRESCUE (be sure to use all caps) at checkout!

 

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Grateful Naturals provided me with free product to try for this post, but did not compensate me in any other way. All opinions are my own. #gratefulnaturals #naturalskincare #winterskin #freeproduct

Revisiting Oil Cleansing and a Fabulous Give Away!

Remember way back in February of last year when I wrote about oil cleansing?  Remember how much I loved it at the time?  Ah, but now. Now, my friends, I have found a better way and my skin is loving it!

First of all, let me back up and explain why I left oil cleansing behind and went through an angstful period of trying different natural soaps and creams that never quite did what I wanted.  Quite honestly, the oil cleansing became too fiddly.  I didn’t love what the castor oil did to my skin.  I always felt either too dried out or too oily.  I didn’t love that I had to steam my face all the darn time with kids climbing over me and jumping into the middle of my stomach while I was laying flat on my back.  What started out like a pampering facial every day eventually became anything but.  Sometimes my skin would feel rough and I would try to exfoliate with baking soda (too irritating) or ground flax (too scratchy) or oatmeal powder (too goopy).  I just could never get the right balance.  I had it.  For one brief and shining moment I had it, but I never could get it back and the whole thing just got really annoying.  And don’t get me started on stinky wash cloths!  The oil would go rancid and the whole laundry would smell.

So then I went back to washing with soaps and my skin went back to looking tired and I thought it was all over with.

Then I remembered my friend Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is a master aromatherapist who helped me immensely in getting through the trauma of leaving Cricket to go back to work.  She worked with me to find the right essential oils to help balance my mood, help me with my grief (because I really did go through the 5 stages of grief), and to help stay focused at work when all I could think about was getting back to my little nursling.

Elizabeth owns a company called Lux Amare.  She sources all of her essential oils herself (no mid-level marketing here), and she has an unbelievable passion for helping mothers and babies.  She does all the blending and creating herself.  Right in her home.  No factories.  The amount of research she puts into her ingredients is astounding.  Every single one of her products is made with absolutely the best ingredients available.

So I was really excited when I found her Luxury Skin Care Oil.  I got a bottle and started using it.

Lux Amare Luxury Skin Care Oil
Lux Amare Luxury Skin Care Oil

Initially, I was using it in the same way I used my old oils.  I’d smear it on, walk around for a while, steam it off with a hot wash cloth, and wipe the rest off my face.  It was good.  I liked it.  Then Elizabeth and her daughter made a how-to video on youtube.  When I started following the instructions on the video, I realized that the Luxury Skin Care Oil wasn’t just good.  It was amazing and I loved it!  My skin was radiant, fresh, and it never got that rough feeling like I needed to scrub it.

Since then, I’ve kept up with using the Luxury oil, and it’s been fantastic.  No more rough, tired skin.  No more stinky wash cloths from the castor oil going rancid.  No more stripping old oil out of wash cloths with dawn and boiling water.  The Luxury Skin Care Oil washes out cleanly with the normal laundry.

The other really cool thing about the Luxury Skin Care Oil is that it’s not just for washing your face.  I love things that do more than one job.  Believe me, having worked at a high end cosmetics counter in my youth and using a 14 step skin care routine in the past, I am all about simple.  The Luxury Skin Care Oil works both as cleanser and moisturizer.  It also can be used as a bath oil, a shaving oil, an eye makeup remover, an oil for your hair (I rub the excess into my hair every night!), and it will even get rid of head lice in children safely and without the use of dangerous chemicals.  So basically, it’s pretty awesome stuff.

With the start of the Midwest winter, my skin started to freak out a little bit.  I called Elizabeth, and she recommended adding in her Pumpkin Jasmine Serum, which is part of her basic skin care line, although basic hardly describes this stuff.  It smells and feels like bottled luxury.  It’s really helped get me through fall without being too heavy.  And as winter progresses, I may switch over to the Acute Derma Soothe which is an ultra-rich, healing cream.  This is skin care I can handle.  It’s simple.  It works beautifully.  It fits with my busy lifestyle.  It leaves me feeling good about myself.

Lux Amare Skincare is simple, easy to use, and leaves me feeling beautiful.
Lux Amare Skincare is simple, easy to use, and leaves me feeling beautiful.

I spent a lot of time talking about the Lux Amare skin care, but that’s only a piece of what Elizabeth does.  Her Mama & Baby line is to die for.  If you are ever unsure what to give someone for a baby shower gift, look no further!  My personal favorite is the Chamomile Baby Rub (you will never, ever find chamomile like this! Believe me, I looked!), and the Fine French Lavender is some of the very best lavender you can buy.  Both are fantastic for fussy, gassy nights.

Now I know up in the title I said something about a give away.  Why yes!  We are doing a give away!  You can enter for your chance to win your very own bottle of Luxury Skin Care Oil.  We’re going into a stressful time of year, so it is a good time to remember to do some self-care.  We have to make sure our own cups are filled so that we can keep refilling everyone else’s.

To enter, please follow the link below to go to the Rafflecopter widget.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, December 11!

 

Review: Beyond Morning Sickness by Ashli McCall

This is a paid review. I was compensated for this post by Ashli McCall’s publicist. All view are my own.

Ashli McCall's books: Beyond Morning Sickness and Mama has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (but only for a while)
Ashli McCall’s books: Beyond Morning Sickness and Mama has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (but only for a while)

I need to preface this post with a confession:  I hate reading non-fiction.  With the exception of Happiest Baby on the Block, I’ve never made it cover-to-cover through so many of the parenting books that I often recommend.  I haven’t completely read Playful Parenting, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, Unconditional Parenting, or Natural Birth: The Bradley Way.

I try.  I really do.  I just hit the wall about midway through and start skimming and skipping around.  I love to read.  I’m not even going to tell you how many books are in my Kindle.  I just have a hard time getting through books that don’t involve some element of escapism.  Non-fiction is just something I struggle with.

I really thought I would have to push myself to get through Beyond Morning Sickness.  Boy, was I wrong!  Ashli structured this book to make it approachable to everyone.  Rather than ram-rodding a lot of information into your brain (and there is a LOT of information in this book!), she surrounds each segment of the book with the stories of women who experienced HG.  This makes it much easier, not only to read the book, but to digest the information.  I had a hard time putting it down!

The information itself is robust and in-depth.  The book was written in consultation with medical professionals, and Ashli provides citations throughout to support her points.

This book covers almost every aspect of HG.  Here is a link to her table of contents.  She covers everything from causes of HG to all different kinds of treatments to supporting a woman with HG to issues involving termination (see my caveat on this below).  For most people, this book could be considered a one-stop resource on HG.  For a sick woman, having this amount if information in a single, easy to navigate book would be extremely valuable.

My favorite part was the big middle section.  Here, she gives in-depth and practical information about various HG treatments.  She starts off with the least invasive alternative treatments and moves on from there.  Her section on drugs used in HG is excellent.  She even includes a treatment algorithm on page 120-121 that a doctor can work through with a patient to help get their drug cocktail balanced.

In the sections on IVs and PICCs she gives tips on things to look for and things to ask for.  For example, she advises if you have a PICC to ask for a size four french line to allow blood draws directly from the line.  I always imagined they would be able to do this no matter what.  Imagine how disappointed I would’ve been if I had found out that I needed extra sticks?  Ashli includes little tips like this throughout the book.  Things that don’t seem big but can make a huge difference to an HGer’s comfort level.

Another excellent section is the section on advocacy.  Here, she gives detailed pointers on how specifically caregivers can help a woman with HG.  She is able to step out of her own experience and see the situation from the perspective of an outsider looking in.  In her Dos and Don’ts section in chapter 13, she gives advise on what actions a caregiver or advocate might need to take to help comfort a woman through HG, and she also requests that they refrain from certain actions that might seem reasonable to someone who has never been through HG.

There was only one section that I truly struggled with, and that was the section dealing with termination.  I am strongly pro-choice, and will always support a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy or not.

Ashli posits that most HG-related terminations are due to lack of medical care, and this is supported by the research she provides.  I firmly believe this to be the case.  There is often a profound lack of medical support for HGers.  We are told that the illness is in our heads (lie), that no medicine is safe when pregnant (lie), and many other harmful things.  Is it any wonder that a woman receiving bad information from her doctor would view the termination of a very much wanted pregnancy as her only option?  This is a failure on the part of the medical community and it’s one that Ashli and others are working to correct.

Ultimately, Ashli asks the most important question:  What is more harmful to a baby: Taking medicine that may or may not cross the placenta or termination?  I think the answer there is clear.  No woman should be forced to make the decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy because of lack of treatment.  Ever. On that, I firmly agree with her.

We part ways on this, however,  when she includes references from several anti-choice groups. Unfortunately, this means much of the “factual” information in this section is highly questionable and pushes a specific political agenda. I wish she had not chosen to write this book with that kind of slant.

If you have questions about the risks and facts surrounding abortion, I would encourage you to speak to your doctor or an organization like Planned Parenthood who will be able to provide you with facts that will allow you to make an educated decision about the subject.

So ultimately, what’s the verdict on this book?  I was almost afraid to read it after reading Ashli’s HG Diary.  Ashli’s HG was so much worse than mine ever was, and I was afraid I would find it frightening and off-putting.  Instead, despite the deeply flawed section on termination, I found it to be empowering and uplifting.  When I closed the book I was left with the sense that I really can get through this.

If you have or have had HG, read this book.  If you are a caretaker, friend, or family member of someone who has HG, get this book.  If you know an HGer, give them this book.  If you know of a doctor who is, shall we say, lacking in this department, give them this book.

Thank you Ashli for having the courage and dedication to write this book for us.  You truly are a hero.

How to get this book: In addition to being available through Amazon and Ashli’s website, you can purchase a copy through HelpHer.org with the proceeds going to help support HER Foundation research and education efforts.  Ashli has information on her website here about donating books to doctors.  You can check her list to see if a book has already been given to this doctor and if you do deliver a book to a doctor, please notify Ashli via her website to avoid duplicate donations.

Review: Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only for a While)

This was a paid review. I received compensation from Ashli McCall’s publicist for this post. All opinions are my own.

Over Christmas break, I contacted Ashli McCall, the author of Beyond Morning Sickness, which is The Book on HG, and Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While), a children’s book.  Her publicist was kind enough to send me copies of these books for free.   He also included a printed copy of the journal she kept during her fourth pregnancy with her daughter, Elise.

Ashli McCall’s books: Beyond Morning Sickness and Mama has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (but only for a while)

I started with Ashli’s journal.  I wanted to learn more about Ashli.  I wanted to know what she’d been through, and I wanted to find out what prompted her to write her books.

This journal was absolutely riveting.  And terrifying.  Ashli went through absolute hell to bring her daughter into the world.  This was a brutal read.  Her loss, her pain, her grief, and ultimately her joy just made me ache.  Ultimately, though, it was inspiring.  Her strength is incredible.  It’s easy to call her a hero.

Here is a link to the online version of her journal.  Like most blogs, you’ll have to go way back to get to the beginning.  Again, let me say this:  Her diary is a raw and difficult read.  This may act as pretty effective birth control if you’re considering another HG pregnancy.  Pick your timing on this one.  There are several things she discusses that might be triggers for some people, so please be aware that she discusses loss of a pregnancy, termination, severe HG, and severe, severe illness.  She also talks in-depth about her faith, which sustained her throughout the pregnancy.

This Saturday, I also read Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While) to the Grasshopper.  I hadn’t planned to read it to her yet, but after much pleading (it has bunnies on it), I agreed.  It was pretty tough for me to get through.  Ashli wrote it in a very gentle and sensitive way, but like any painful subject, it’s difficult to read.  Especially aloud.  I made it about halfway through before I lost it.  Of course, my crying made her cry, so we both had a little cry together.  We managed to get to the end, which was very happy.  After all, HG is only for a little while.

Then she wanted me to re-read it.  Second time through was easier.  I kept it together, and we both clapped together at the end.  Since then, she’s wanted me to read it at naptimes and bedtimes.  I asked her about the story.  Does it make her feel happy or sad?  She told me that this is a happy story.  We talk about how Little Bunny and Mama Bunny feel.  She lets me know that both feel sad and Little Bunny feels scared, but in the end, everything turns out okay.  I make sure to emphasize how much Mama Bunny loves Little Bunny.  Really, though, despite how sad or scared the bunnies feel, she always tells me that this is a happy story.  I think that’s a huge win right there.

Overall, this is a great book.  It really validates the feelings a child might feel when Mama is sick: worry, anger, sadness, fear, feelings of rejection, etc.  It validates those feelings, but it reassures that her Mama will get better and that her Mama loves her very, very much no matter what happens.  If you’ve got a child and are facing another HG pregnancy, please do pick up a copy of this book.

I am working my way through Beyond Morning Sickness now.  After reading Ashli’s journal, I was afraid to read this book.  Instead of finding it frightening, I’m finding it to be empowering.  I’ll write more once I get through it, but it’s a very interesting read.  Even for someone like me who hates reading non-fiction.

My one caveat on this book, and it is a major caveat, is her section on termination and abortion. McCall’s pro-life stance is evident in this section and she makes multiple references to sources that have a political stance in opposition to a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to her. For many, this will be enough to render the rest of the book useless, which is why I find it unfortunate that she chose to present the information in this section in a slanted way. If you have questions about abortion/termination, I would encourage you to seek factual answers from groups like Planned Parenthood.

Despite the major faults in the section on abortion, if you’re facing HG or if someone in your family is dealing with HG, I recommend reading Ashli’s books.  In addition to being available through Amazon and Ashli’s website, you can purchase a copy through HelpHer.org with the proceeds going to help support HER Foundation research and education efforts.

Do you have any books or journals that you found really helped you get ready for this?  If so, please share.  I’d love to add that info to my blog.