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Five Expert Tips for Hiking with a Baby.

Hiking with babies seems much easier now than when I had my babies. Today, the baby carriers seem sturdier. The parents seem sturdier. So do the babies! Some of my fondest memories are of my babies in their carriers, their big eyes gazing around contentedly while the scenery rolled by.

I think it makes sense to get babies out on the trail while they're portable, light weight, and still figuring out what a "normal" family routine consists of. If they're indoctrinated into trail time before becoming verbal or mobile, they simply accept that hiking is what the family does together.

Hiking with babies and toddlers is more art than science— what works for one family may not work for another, but here are a few tips and tricks that we’ve picked up as our family has grown.
Hiking with the little ones? Why not?! :)
Invest in a Good Quality Baby Carrier
You’re not going to want to just hold your baby in your arms while you trek up the side of a hill or mountain, or try to push a baby across rocky terrain in a stroller. Instead, you’ll want to use a baby backpack carriers for hiking that can be strapped to your body.

Once the baby has good head support (typically after six months old), then a hiking backpack that props the baby up high so they can look around is golden for keeping baby happy on hikes.

Check the Weather Forecast Before Making a Plan
A trail can seem pretty easy until a little weather blows in. Take note of this as you head out. Ideally you want to make sure you always have stable footing when carrying baby, especially if it’s a new trail for you and you are carrying baby on your front. As you head out, think about how long the hike is going to take. Plan a turn-around time. Remember if you head out for 60 minutes, you’ll still have to hike back.

Dress the Baby Appropriately
It’s easy to spot a child when they’re dressed in bright colors and it’s easy for a child to spot a grown-up if we’re wearing bright colors too! Toddlers can learn the ‘Hug A Tree’ method if they are lost. The steps are to stop, sit down next to a tree and blow a whistle. We practice this with our toddler when we hike and he always hikes with a whistle around his neck. We like to hike with our toddler between two adults or directly in front of us so we can see him.

Bring a Partner and a few Vital Baby Supplies
Hiking with a partner is smart even without a baby in tow, but becomes even more important when a little one is depending on you. If something were to happen while on the trail, the other person can run for help while you stay with the baby.

Also, your hiking partner can carry either the baby or the backpack with the baby supplies during the hike. You don’t want to bring the entire contents of your diaper bag, but a few vitals are important to have: a couple diapers, wipes, pacifier if your baby uses one, bassinets for your baby, plus a change of clothes in case of a diaper blowout if the climate isn’t right for your baby.

Try a Quick Hike with Your Baby Close to Home
If you’re still feeling daunted by the thought of going out into the wilderness with your baby away from all your creature comforts and all that baby stuff you feel you need, or aren’t sure how your baby will handle a hike, just try a quick hike close to home. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, you can try out the carrier, see how your baby does on the walk, and start to get comfortable with the idea of hiking with a baby. You may even find you love it and that it’s time to get out there and explore with your little one!

We’ve learned not to set speed and distance goals when hiking with babies and toddlers, sometimes we spend more time playing with a log on the side of the trail than we actually do hiking— other times we never lose sight of the trailhead. But, with a little bit of planning and a little bit of patience, hiking with babies and toddlers can be a great way to see the outdoors.


Make Home Cleaners with the Kids This Summer.

You have two tasks this summer, keep the kids busy and keep the house clean. Probably not always in that order. Why not keep the kids busy by creating a fun, sensory engaging activity that also helps keep the house clean? You know that sounds great!

Want to know what makes it sound better? They will all be green home cleaning products!

You’re going to have the kids make home cleaners that aren’t filled with harsh chemicals. Occupied kids. Clean house. No killer chemicals. Mom scores with the summer hat trick!

Get the spray bottles ready and the kids lined up on the patio table. It’s time to make some green home cleaning products, Portland style. Here are our three favorite greenhouse cleaners the kids can help make.
Busy as a bee!
Peppermint Shower Spray
Peppermint shower spray is a natural cleaner that fights icky shower mildew and shower scum. Once you have the mixture, keep a bottle in every shower and spray it down after use. You’ll love the lingering smell and feel great about keeping the shower clean without much effort.

To make the peppermint shower spray, you’ll need rubbing alcohol, water and peppermint essential oil. (If they kids aren’t helping you, feel free to substitute the rubbing alcohol for vodka; it works better and you can take a swig as needed.)

Mix 1 cup of water with ½ cup of rubbing alcohol. Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. Put it in the spray bottle. Shake to mix. That is it!

Disinfectant Cleaner
With the shower becoming such a happy spot in the house because of the new cleaning spray, you’ll want to expand to have the entire house clean with happy smells. This disinfectant cleaner is all-natural but truly does kill off germs.

Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Add 1¼ cups of water. Then add 15 drops of peppermint and lemon essential oils.

Again, vodka can be substituted for rubbing alcohol and lavender can be substituted for lemon. Add actual lemon rinds to the mixture for added effect.

To use the disinfecting cleaner, spray surfaces, allow it to sit for 10 minutes and then wipe away. For best results, us a microfiber cloth.

Note: This spray is not for granite or marble. The vinegar may actually etch the surface of these stones.

Stainless Steel Polish
If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on that fancy stainless steel cleaning solution, here is a cost-effective solution that really works too. And the ingredients are almost always in stock in the kitchen, because you really only need two things: olive oil and paper towels.

Rather than have the kids make this, challenge them to see who can get a better reflection in the refrigerator door.

Simply put a quarter-sized dab on a folded paper towel. Allow it to soak into the paper towel and then start at the top of the stainless steel appliance, applying the oil with the grain of the stainless steel. Work from left to right.

Once you’ve applied the olive oil to the entire appliance, rub away any excess. Buff out the finish with a paper towel or use a microfiber towel for a real sharp shine on the stainless steel.

For the days when the kids are busy at the pool, let the professionals do the dirty work. Get an estimate now for the best green house cleaning service in Portland.


After Infertility: An Unexpected Path to Parenthood

Sometimes life presents us with uniquely difficult challenges. To be told that you aren’t able to get pregnant and have children with your own eggs seems insurmountable – and absolutely crushing. It can lead to a dark path of hopelessness, depression, and even anger. However, many couples and single women who have trouble getting pregnant are finding faith in others. IVF using donor eggs is one possible solution for your predicament.
Waiting for the sound of little footsteps...
Struggling with Infertility
Due to the nature of the female reproductive system, women over 35 have a greater chance of encountering difficulties with conception and carrying a pregnancy to term. There are many reasons for female infertility, but they can be categorized into two broad groups: problems with the environment (uterus, fallopian tubes, and hormonal balance) and problems with ovulation/egg quality. 

As women get older, the quality of their eggs deteriorates - along with their chances of getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term. Women who decide on having a child in their mid-to-late 30s often discover that their eggs are no longer viable. These conditions are easily tested.

The emotional roller-coaster that follows the news can be quite emotionally taxing. Many women seek professional counseling to cope with the resulting anger, depression, or feelings of hopelessness. These emotions are perfectly healthy reactions to such a distressing situation. When the shock subsides, however, many couples choose to pursue fertility treatments to fulfill their dream of having a child.

Donor Eggs as a Path to Parenthood
Oftentimes, women go through several fertility treatments before they explore the possibility of undergoing IVF using donor eggs. In the past, donor eggs were considered something of a ‘taboo,’ as the future child wouldn’t bear the mother’s genetic legacy. This viewpoint, however, has diminished over time as more couples use donor eggs to beat infertility.

Finding a Suitable Donor
After you choose an IVF cycle using donor eggs, finding a suitable donor is perhaps the most time-consuming step. This process usually takes hopeful parents-to-be a few weeks to several months, depending on their preferences. Common considerations include: the donor’s physical characteristics, background, education, as well as ethnicity.

Legal Concerns
After you choose a donor, it is important to have all legalities regarding the donor’s involvement in the child’s life on paper. If you are using a donor egg bank, the bank takes care of these concerns for you.

Choosing Between Fresh or Frozen Donor Egg Cycles
Depending on the cycle method - fresh or frozen - the donor pool and procedures differ.

A fresh donor egg cycle requires a donor who is local to your area and available at a time of your choosing. Furthermore, all costs pertaining to the donor’s travel/medication costs are paid for by the recipient, which makes this method rather costly.

On the other hand, if you decide on using a frozen donor egg cycle, you have the chance to choose a donor from a national donor registry. This donor pool is significantly larger, and provides the opportunity to choose a donor based on more criteria relevant to you. Because the eggs in this cycle are already harvested, all medication costs regarding the donor are already covered in the price.

The Implantation Process
If you decide on a fresh donor egg cycle, you and your donor will undergo a hormonal treatment to synchronize your periods. The donor’s ovaries are stimulated to produce many eggs. From these, only the highest-quality eggs are fertilized with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm and then implanted into your uterus.

If you decide on a frozen donor egg cycle, your donor’s eggs are retrieved from storage and delivered to your fertility clinic. These eggs are then thawed and fertilized with your partner’s/donor’s sperm. Three to five days later, the strongest embryos are implanted into your uterus.

The Waiting
After implantation is successful, a rest period of about 2 weeks follows. This period is vital for you to recover your strength from the journey so far, and to emotionally prepare yourself for the outcome.

Giddiness, anxiety, or even mood-swings are completely normal. Professional counseling or an emotional support group can help you immensely with dealing with these errant emotions.

The Big Moment
After the waiting is over, you’ll go back to your fertility clinic for your pregnancy test. It is of vital importance to be emotionally prepared for the result. The blood test checks your hCG levels to determine if you are pregnant.
Almost there!
Final Notes
The decision to use donor eggs, of course, lies in your hands. However, many women use this latest advancement in fertility treatment to fulfill their dream of hearing their children’s angelic voices in their homes, and enjoy strong, stable, and happy families.


Spotlight | Clio Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover.

I fell in love with Clio's eyeliners after my first-ever trip to South Korea, and have not used any other eyeliner brand since. I was so enamored by the Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner that I make it a point to stock up on this HG eyeliner whenever I'm in Seoul.

The brush liners, I have noticed, are almost always sold in sets with another Clio product. Last year, they were sold together with the Backcomb Cara Mini. This year, the brush liner comes as a set with the Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover, which I got for 14000 won (around Php 600 or $12).
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner + Microfessional Lip & Eye Remover.
The Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover comes in a smaller, 30 mL bottle - perfect for your carry-on bag when traveling. Its full-sized version is a whopping 150 mL bottle which usually retails for 12000 won (around Php 530 or $10).
Clio Microfessional Lip & Eye Remover.
Back of the bottle.
Clio describes the Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover as an 'ultimate deep cleanser that thoroughly removes even the toughest makeup' and rightly so, as this product was able to remove almost all traces of the Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara - one of the most resilient waterproof mascaras that I have tried so far - on my eyelids. And without vigorous scrubbing at that!
Comes in an airline-friendly 30 mL bottle.
With the Clio Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover, all you have to do is to place the doused cotton pad on your eyelids and other parts of your face with heavy makeup on (such as the brow gel on your eyebrows or the kiss-proof matte lipstick on your lips), leave it there for at at least ten seconds to let the product 'melt' all the gunk on your face. Gently press the cotton pad, and sweep the area clean.
How to use the Clio Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover.
(Click to zoom).
Like most makeup removers, the Clio Microfessional Lip and Eye Remover also comes in a dual phase formula. However, this product boasts of the Purifying Complex, a special formulation of Moringa Oil, Camelia Sinensis seed oil, Eucalyptus leaf extract, and Nelumbium Speciosum flower extract that cleanses, soothes, and moisturizes the skin.
Easy-twist cap.
What I love most about this product is its essence-like texture which leaves the skin soft and smooth without the greasy feel. Among all of the makeup removers that I have tried (and if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have tried a plethora of both Asian and Western brands), this one has the silkiest consistency of all. It doesn't leave any oil residue on the face, and has a mild and gentle formula that doesn't sting the eyes or irritate the skin. It also has a light, fresh scent which was a nice surprise. I was kinda expecting this makeup remover to be fragrance-free, just like the ones that I have used in the past.
All that gunk!
I enjoyed using this makeup remover so much that I plan to go full-size, even if the price is a bit steeper compared to other Korean makeup brands. I might get a jar of their cleansing balm too, as I have heard a lot of nice reviews about the product. :)


Everyday is D-Day with Forti-D!

My son isn't the most outdoors-y kid, which comes as no surprise since I'm not a very outdoors-y person either. Sure, he likes going to parks and playgrounds and looks forward to our occasional beach trips, but for the most part, he prefers playing indoors.
Playing with his Legos.
Unlike other kids who like playing basketball or riding their bikes while basking in the sunshine, Yue would rather spend hours tinkering with his Lego sets and action figures within the comforts of our bedroom, or watch YouTube videos and play games with his cellphone while curled up on the couch.
Looks like he's downloading something... again.
I have no qualms with him staying indoors most of the time with the perennial dengue scare and all (plus he still gets enough exercise with his karate training anyway). However, at the back of my mind, there's always this fear that we're not getting enough Vitamin D since we pretty much have an 'indoor lifestyle'. Same goes for my husband, who hardly sees the sun since he works the night shift.
Watching videos on YouTube.
Unbeknownst to many, Vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart failure, and diabetes. Studies show that 36 of our organs and tissues are regulated by Vitamin D, including our heart, lungs, brains, and bones.

However, not everyone gets the sufficient Vitamin D requirement to stay healthy. In fact, 7 out of 10 Filipinos are Vitamin D deficient (based on a study conducted with Hi-Precision Diagnostics, where 8200 Filipinos from key cities in the Philippines were tested for Vitamin D Deficiency). This could stem from the following reasons:

1. It’s hard to get enough Vitamin D from the sun (indoor lifestyle, clothing, skin color, aging, and use of umbrellas or sunscreen limit Vitamin D absorption).

2. It’s difficult to obtain from food (RDA of Vitamin D is equivalent to 40 eggs / 8 glasses of milk / 800g of salmon / 2 cans of tuna flakes every day).
Forti-D, for your daily dose of vitamin D.
Now this is where Forti-D comes into play. One capsule a day gives you your daily requirement of Vitamin D (800 IU) safe for daily intake. It also gives protective effects against serious diseases by keeping vital organs (heart, bones, muscles, and the brain) functioning healthily. Forti-D comes in an easy-to-swallow, small gel capsule and costs only Php 6.50 each - a very small price to pay to give my bones and body organs some serious protection.

For my husband and I, everyday is now D-day with Forti-D. We'd like to be in the pink of health in the longest time possible for our one and only. Because you know, parenting is some serious business. :)