Sunshine On My Shoulders

Summer 2014 is upon us which means we are all flocking to the beach with our kids!

Each spring, I check-in with the Environmental Working Group to see the latest reports on which sunscreens are good to use – from “0-2 low hazard”, “3-6 moderate hazard” and “7-10 high hazard”. You can read much more about their grading system on their website.

I’ve always tried to stick with sunscreens that are in the 0-2 range. After doing some research, it’s then a matter of trying to find the products at places like Longs, Walmart, Target but some years I end up ordering from Amazon. My dilemma is that we are a family of five and we go through a lot of sunscreen each year… a lot!!

Good sunscreens can be expensive and I’ve had no problem squeezing every last ounce out of a tube. It is amazing how much is left in a tube when you think “it’s done!”. Don’t be afraid to cut the bottom off the tube and scape the inside.

To my surprise I was able to get almost 1/3 of a tube out of all the used tubes. It’s worth it when you are sometimes paying a premium for a good sunscreen!

To my surprise I was able to get almost 1/3 of a tube out of all the used tubes. It’s worth it when you are sometimes paying a premium for a good sunscreen!

All sunscreens may not work for your family so it’s best to get one tube and try it out before you make a commitment to stocking up.

In 2013, I was going to go back to Alba Botanica but just happened to walk down the baby aisle at Target and found the brand BabyGanics: Sunscreen Stick SPF50 (rated a 1, #18) and Sunscreen SPF50 (rated a 2, #130).  It’s been superb for us.


BabyGanics Sunscreen & Sunscreen Stick. Don’t be concerned if you see new packaging!! White stick is from 2013 and green stick is new packaging for 2014)

It is important to use sunscreen that you have researched and are comfortable with. Each year the EWG updates products so it’s worth looking to see where your skincare products are for the current year. Companies change formulas and so you can’t assume that what you are using this year will be OK next.

Most pediatricians do not recommended sunscreen for new babies until they are about 6 months old but there are some who will say to use a mild, baby friendly, hypoallergenic formula SPF 15 sunscreen.

It’s better that babies avoid the full sun and it’s best to swim in the early morning or late afternoon when the suns rays are not so strong. When you are putting sunscreen on your baby for the first time it’s good to do a small test patch before lathering your baby up!

And don’t forget sun hats and rash guards are great for kids too!

Picture of CLB and twins at Kailua Beach June 2007

Cathy Louise and twins at Kailua Beach June 2007

Here’s another good blog on 21 Safe & Natural Sunscreen Brands for Swim and Sport, Summer 2014.

Have a great super sun safe summer!


Babes in Arms

My babies are not babies anymore. This past weekend my twins celebrated their 8th birthday. Where have the last eight years gone? Every parent asks this question, “Where has the time gone?”

All three of our girls do things that take us right back to their “baby days” – an expression or a little twinkle in their eye. They are more faceted and complex now yet some little part of each of them is the same as when they first arrived.

Look deeply at your babies and you’ll see them at 5, 10, 20 years old and beyond. Each year they grow more independent and need us less and letting them go is hard but beautiful. I believe if we get it right they’ll always return for a hug or reassurance. It’s important to keep listening, watching and witnessing as all those baby steps turn into reading a birthday card without our help, thanking a friend for a perfect gift, talking on the phone with a grandparent and running wildly and not falling down.

2nd Birthday (2007)
2nd Birthday
8th Birthday (2014)
8th Birthday

Sleep Baby Sleep

Having a new baby and figuring out how to get baby to sleep is a large mystery to most parents.  With my first daughter I ended up getting into a pattern of breastfeeding her to sleep which was sweet for the first few months. There was a loving connection and it was warm and cozy.  But as the months went by, instead of my baby being able to go to sleep on her own I either had to breastfeed her or be there to witness her falling asleep.  I became the pacifier.  By about 8 months I was getting increasingly exasperated as there were some nights it took upwards of two hours to lull my baby to sleep.  And deep in the night, she figured out pretty quickly that if she cried LOUDLY I would come to her rescue and I’d be back in the rocking chair with her.

For years I have recommended the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. to the mothers that attend my Mom & Baby Yoga class.  I’m not sure who told me about the book but I am forever grateful as it was miraculous. We never read the whole book from cover to cover because after a few weeks the patterns started to change. The testimonials from parents who have had problems were comforting and the techniques worked for us.

After we started the new routine I do remember at one point my husband and I had to agree that in the middle of the night we were not going to immediately go comfort baby when she woke up crying. The first fews nights were difficult.  Five minutes of crying seemed like hours and it took everything in us to follow through with the advise given.  But after a few nights we heard the cries and then… she went back to sleep!  A year or so later we had the twins and I found that there is even has a section on “twins”.

From having our first child in 2003, we made baby bedtime around 6.00-6.30pm and stuck to this until 2010.  Baths were done, teeth were being flossed and brushed and then story time.  We tried to be very were consistent each night.  Of course there were times when the kids were sick, we were traveling or we had something special going on but on the whole we stuck to the schedule.  Our girls still regularly get 10-11 hours of sleep a night.

One thing to remember is that we need to set up the patterns that we want our kids to follow.  If there is no routine, there is no routine.  Routines can be boring, dull and monotonous but children like them and will thrive if they know when things will happen and how they will happen.

Sleep well mom, dad and baby!

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Here is the twins version of the book

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins

Que será, será

On every step of my journey into motherhood I have had to make decisions and choices. Sometimes I follow my heart, sometimes a book. I’ve even had experiences when a friend would casually mention, “I’m doing this with my baby now…” and I’d quickly do some research to find out if I should be doing that too!

The list is endless: disposable diaper, cloth diapers, bottle, no bottles, co-sleeping, crib sleeping, to carry or not to carry, what to feed, how to feed etc.

Through the years there have been people who have supported my choices, questioned them and in some cases said I was wrong. Whatever decisions I’ve made I have tried with my heart to trust and believe that I’m doing the best that I can.

The best advice I can give is to be flexible in your approach. Coming at motherhood from a yoga perspective, yoga is not just flexibility in the body it’s also flexibility in our minds and thoughts. If you choose to do something one way and you end up fighting that path then change and see what else is out there.

Each day our babies grow and we need to grow up with them. My children are bigger now but I still have to make choices to help them mature into their beauty and confidence. We can’t know what the future holds but we can try our best to be present right now.

12/12/12 – this evening my daughter was playing the song “Que será, será” on her ukulele! She wanted to know what it meant so I sang my best Doris Day impression to her which got me thinking about this post…

Yes, whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours, to see…

Que será, será

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

When I was young, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day
Here’s what my sweetheart said.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Songwriters: Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

Doulas: Angels in Waiting

A doula is a person who supports you in your pregnancy and will be with you during labor to help in any way she can. Doulas are not trained to do medical procedures, but whether you are at home or a hospital they can help explain things to you and your partner when questions arise, help make decisions if you are unsure what to do, be a sounding board, and advocate for you with hospital staff.

My husband’s first reaction when I said that I wanted to look into getting a doula was, “Why? I’ll be there!” This is a very normal reaction for partners. It seems that we are employing someone to take away their role in the labor room. In fact, the doula is there to support both your experiences. She will give your partner a chance to just be there without having to figure out what to do.

My husband said after we had our first baby that he was so glad our doula, Barbara Essman, of Sacred Birthing, was there and he couldn’t imagine doing labor again without her.

Some doulas offer massage therapy before you have your baby and can even help with after-labor care (postpartum doula).

When you are looking for a doula, treat it like an interview – you have to like and trust the person you are choosing. Initially call or meet a couple of different doulas on your own. When you find one you like set up a separate meeting for the doula to meet your partner. It is important that your partner supports you in getting a doula. They may feel threatened by the idea but once you are in labor they’ll be happy there is an extra support person there to help you both cope with labor.

I was recently talking to Katja Bajema (see below) and she recommended calling and chatting with a doula first over the phone.  Both you and the doula can get a good sense of whether you will be a good fit and then you can make arrangements to meet up face-to-face.  Sometimes meetings are arranged and as soon as you meet you just know you won’t click.  Having some interview time on the phone will save you some precious time!

Typical questions to ask a doula are:

– How long have you been doing this and what kind of training have you had?
– How many births do you attend a year?
– Can I call or meet you before I go into labor? Is there any charge for these visits?
– Do you offer pregnancy massage? If not, can you recommend someone?
– How do you support women (and partners) during labor?
– If I am having my baby at a hospital can you meet us at home or at the hospital?
– If for some reason you aren’t available do you have a back-up person who can help?
– How much do you charge?  What does your fee include? (Fees range $300–$1,000)

Barbara Essman at my side while laboring with the twins (April 2006).

DOULA – POSTPARTUM DOULA – MIDWIFE  (updated February 2018):

Crystal Minnick Doula (current 2018)
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Placenta Encapsulation
Bengkung Belly Binding
Birth Sealing/Yoga
(808) 673-8717

Jaymie Lewis (current 2018)
Lactation Counselor
(808) 783-0361 (office)

Jenna Clarke (current 2018)
BEST Birth Hawaii & Mālama Momma

Birth and Postpartum Doula
Essential Oils Educator
Postpartum Belly Wrapper
(808) 366-0230
– OR –
(808) 597-0593

Kari Wheeling (current 2018)
DOÑA trained birth doula
(808) 330-2005

Katja Bajema (current 2018)
Founder and Owner BEST Birth Hawaii

Certified Childbirth Educator
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Certified Lactation Counselor
Placenta Encapsulator
(808) 366-0230

Kehaulani Avicolli (current 2018)
Birth and Postpartum Doula
(808) 366-0230

Lea Garner (current 2018)
Certified Birth Doula
Postpartum Doula
Certified Childbirth Education
Certified Lactation Consultant

Dr Lori Kimata (current 2018)
Naturopathic Physician and Midwife
(808) 783-0361

Rosi Badalementi (current 2018)
Trained Labor and Birth Doula
(808) 366-0230

Sarah Cruz (current 2018)
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Childbirth Educator
Lactation Specialist
(808) 366-0230

Tara Compehos (Big Island – current 2018)
(808) 450-0498

Tara Mattes, L.Ac. (current 2018)
Licensed Acupuncturist
(808) 783-0361 (office)

Vanessa Jansen (current 2018)
CPM/Traditional Midwife
(808) 754-6122

Dr Ye Nguyen (current 2018)
(808) 388-7207

updated February 2018

ABC easy as 123

After feeding your baby a new food, it’s good to wait a day or so to see if there are any reactions (i.e. allergy or constipation). Once the food goes through and everything is okay then you can move to a new food. Make a list of food you have tried and as the weeks go by it becomes easy to make healthy meals.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry Food Glorious Food, the book “What to Expect The First Year” (Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway) was helpful when starting to feed our first baby. The monthly breakdown gave me some good advice.

If your baby has any serious allergies to foods it’s important to call your pediatrician right away.

Love It/Hate It

The three things to remember when you start feeding your baby are:

1) It’s going to be messy.

2) Most of the food spooned in the mouth is immediately pushed out as babies have to learn to swallow solids.

3) Baby may not like a food until you’ve tried it several times. For example, you try avocado and your baby appears to not like it, try it again another week. Avoid adding salad dressing or salt because then your baby has to get used to two tastes.

The best advice is perseverance, patience and enthusiasm.

Avocado has a lovely smooth consistency in the mouth. You don’t need to add any seasoning, just scoop and serve.

Stick with whole wheat and look at the ingredients – the less sugar and additives the better. Always serve bread last or babies won’t eat the main meal. Breadsticks, toast and crackers are all great for snacks when you are out and about, but not as a main. Treat it like a dessert!

Brown Rice
Brown rice is an easy staple to make in big batches. Boil rice till it’s overcooked, adding water if it starts to dry out. When your baby starts eating rice it needs to be blended until it is super mushy. As the months go by you can just overcook the rice and eventually babies turn to toddlers and they can eat rice at its regular consistency. I would stay away from white rice because this can make a baby constipated. Brown rice has more fiber.

1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice makes three to four ice cube trays per batch and it lasts about one month.

Barley, like brown rice, requires a lot of water when cooking and more in the warming up process. It has a more slimy consistency than rice.

1 1/2 cups of uncooked barley makes three to four ice cube trays per batch and this lasts about one month.

Havarti is a good soft, creamy cheese to start with. As teeth come in you can try harder cheeses like Cheddar. Cheese can be high in fat and salt so don’t overdo it. Like bread it’s better as the last part of a meal.

Eggs are a great source of protein. An omelet is a super easy meal or snack with no seasoning required. As babies get older it’s a good finger food. We introduced eggs at 11 months and our baby loved it. Some babies are allergic to eggs so watch carefully when introducing them.

Make sure all fruit is ripe (i.e. papaya, pears, bananas, melon, blueberries). It’s important to remember to try a bit first and see how the baby does before giving them a lot. Papaya can make poo runny and too many bananas can make everything hard! Dried fruit can make babies gassy so it’s something to avoid until they are older.

Most pediatricians recommend introducing milk around one year. We first added a teaspoon of whole milk to the breakfast oatmeal and after no reaction we introduced drinking milk just before our baby’s first birthday.

Some kids can have serious allergies to nuts (peanut or tree nuts). Nut butters on bread or crackers are a nice treat but when you first try them make sure you test with only a small amount and see how your baby reacts. Once you see that it’s ok then make sure you spread the nut butter thinly as it can be too sticky to swallow.

Oatmeal is a fantastic breakfast food. Buy the quick cook organic oats. Make a small batch, let it cool and add water or milk to make it runny. Mashed bananas can be added for flavor.

Peas and Corn
Boil up, blend and freeze. Whole peas and corn go straight through and you’ll see them in the next day’s poo. The outside skin is too hard to digest so it’s a good idea to blend them well until your baby gets teeth and can do the mashing themselves.

Peas are great finger foods when your baby is learning to pick things up. There is a reward when they manage to get the pea in their mouth and you’ll be satisfied knowing baby is getting their veggie quota.

Poi (from Wikipedia)
You can buy large bags of poi at Costco. Cut a corner and squeeze it directly into ice cube trays. When you defrost poi you need to warm it, making sure you add extra water. Poi defrosts crumbly and this is why you need to heat it up. In the beginning babies are happy “drinking” poi and it can be a whole meal in itself.

Protein (beef, chicken, turkey)
Beef, chicken and turkey are easiest cooked in mince form. Defrost the meat and boil it in a pot with a small amount of water. If you use too much water you may have to strain it because it’s harder to freeze and you’ll end up throwing away all the good stock. There is no need to add any kind of seasoning. Once it’s well cooked let it cool and scoop about a tablespoon into each section of an ice cube tray and freeze.

Green Vegetables (zucchini, spinach, broccoli)
Zucchini is an easy vegetable to cook and serve once baby is able to feed themselves. It’s important to make sure zucchini is fully cooled down because the insides seem to retain heat even though the outside might feel cool.

Green veggies can be quite strong for a baby’s system so sometimes it’s easier if you add greens to a rice mixture. Spinach can make poo very runny (and green!) and can irritate babies. Broccoli can give babies gas, like cabbage.

You can freeze boiled veggies but they are generally so easy to cook I don’t recommend spending the time making batches of them.

Root Vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, yam, kabocha pumpkin)
Carrots need to be well cooked. Cut into baby bite size pieces and they won’t get mushy. Carrots are a great food for on the go.

Sweet potato and yam should be cooked in chunks or it gets too mushy. You can make a batch, blend and freeze in ice cube trays. As baby gets bigger you can keep it more whole and easily mash with a fork. Freeze the cooked chunks on a baking tray, separated so they don’t get stuck together then transfer to a freezer bag. Take out one or two pieces and mash them up for a meal. Great food for when you are on the go.

Kabocha pumpkin gets very mushy so it’s good to boil in larger chunks, cool and then freeze on a baking tray, separating them slightly so they don’t stick together.

Salt and Seasoning
Remember your baby’s pallet is new and they don’t need extra salt or seasoning. You can always add it later on.

Stick with plain instead of flavored because once you introduce flavored, babies will generally reject the plain. You can add things like bananas, blueberries, or a dash of wheat germ.

At six months (or earlier if you wish) it’s good to introduce a sippy cup with water. In the beginning it’s really just a toy to bang or drop on the floor. With lots of encouragement a baby will soon realize that there is something good inside and they learn how to drink. It’s good to have water on hand during mealtimes to make sure they are getting some extra liquid with the solid foods.

Water is important as it keeps babies hydrated and helps move solids through their system.

A typical day is:
Breakfast: cooked oats plus a few extras (yogurt, fruit, bread).
Lunch: chicken, rice and veg combined plus extras (poi, yogurt, fruit, cheese)
Dinner: beef, rice and veg combined plus extras (poi, yogurt, fruit, cheese).

Some days we only did one protein meal and the other meal more vegetables and fruit.

A typical meal is:
Rice, veg and meat (small rice-bowl size combining 3-6 frozen cubes).
Heat everything up with about 1/4″ water adding more if necessary. Takes 5-10 minutes to warm up. Let everything cool down before feeding.
2-3 Tblsp poi
2-3 Tblsp cottage cheese
½ cup yogurt
½ banana
¼ papaya or ½ pear
1-2 Tblsp cheese (cut into small cubes)
End with the easy foods like cheese and bread. By this time your baby will probably be pretty full. The easy food really becomes extra to make sure baby is satisfied. As baby gets older a sure sign that your baby is full is when the food starts being tossed on the floor.

We started right from the beginning to feed our baby three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and have stuck with it. We don’t have big snacks between meals because they tend to interfere with the main mealtimes.

Starting to feed your baby can be frustrating but if you make it fun for you it’ll be fun for them. Sing songs, play games, or give them some of the food to play with while you feed them.

Be prepared to take time for mealtimes, especially once baby starts participating. It’s also important for babies to watch us eat meals. Everything we do they want to do and they’ll begin to mirror you. If you eat veggies, they will. If you drink water, they will. What we do they will do!

Lila & Maile at 7 months, can you guess what they ate?

Lila at 7 months
Maile at 7 months

Food, Glorious Food

Solid food for babies usually begins around six months. I noticed that our first daughter at five months old was making more chomping and smacking noises when nursing. She also started to take a lot of notice when we were eating meals. After consulting the only baby book I had, “What to Expect The First Year” (Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway), we took the plunge into giving “solid” food. There are many great tips and advice in “What To Expect….” We pretty much followed its guidelines, along with suggestions from friends and family.

All the food I made was boiled and then pureed into a smooth paste (adding water as needed). When it was feeding time, the book recommended adding breast milk to the food to make it mushy. As the food combinations got more complex (rice, chicken, peas), I added water to make it the right consistency.

At first all the foods were like runny soup. By 12 months there was more texture, like mashed potatoes, and by 15 months food was chunky.

Below is the food diary I kept. Sunday was the beginning of a week and I only wrote down the days that we added a food. For any days in between, we were feeding things that had worked previously. For example, by week six my daughter was having oats for breakfast, and lunch and dinner was a combination of two or more of rice, sweet potato, yam, peas, avocado and poi.

Week 1 (six months old)
Monday: Rice cereal (store bought), 1 tsp mixed with breast milk.
Wednesday: Rice cereal. Accidentally made too much (1 Tbsp with breast milk and water) and baby ate the whole lot!

Week 2
Monday: Oatmeal, cooked. Added water to make it runny.
Wednesday: Brown rice (I cooked my own), pureed to a very smooth consistency. Added water at feeding time to make it runny.
Saturday: Sweet potato, boiled and pureed adding lots of liquid.

Week 3
Monday: Brown rice with sweet potato, pureed together adding liquid.
Saturday: Yam, boiled and pureed adding lots of liquid.

Week 4
Sunday: Avocado and poi. Huge success and a even bigger mess!
Poi is a Hawaiian word for the primary Polynesian staple food made from the corm of the taro plant” (from Wikipedia).

Week 5 (seven months old)
Sunday: Peas, cooked and pureed.

Week 6
Thursday: Pumpkin, cooked and pureed.

Baby gets super constipated and has hard, ouchy poos. Wakes up in the night with pained cries and we don’t know what’s wrong until the morning when we discover she has pooed little rabbit pellets and has fissures (small cracks on her anus). She is not happy! Call the pediatrician and they say, “She needs more liquid mixed with the food.” They recommend to only breastfeed until everything goes back to normal.

Friday: Breast feeding only.
Saturday: Poo back to normal. Pumpkin finally goes through!

Week 7
No new foods, just sticking with foods above.

Week 8
Sunday: Banana, mashed.
Thursday: Chicken, cooked, pureed and added to rice mush.

Week 9 (eight months old)
Sunday: Corn and cottage cheese. Baby loved cottage cheese.
Tuesday: Pear (very ripe), scrapped and mushed. Yum!

By eight months I stopped taking notes because I was confident that our baby was getting a wide variety of nutritious foods, no food allergies appeared, and generally she was happy with the daily routine.

Every couple of weeks I’d cook big batches of rice, peas, corn, sweet potato, etc and freeze everything in ice cube trays. It seemed like most of my day was about preparing food or thinking about the next meal. I can say that even now, as my girls are all much older, so much of life seems to be about food (the preparation, the feeding, the cleaning up!).

The blog entry, ABC easy as 123, gives more specifics on food preparation, type of foods and combining foods for a meal.

Note: our first daughter stopped breastfeeding on her own around 10 months. There were a few days when she literally would just turn her head when we’d go to breastfeed. It became clear after about a week that she was finished with me and more interested in food. Our twins also stopped breastfeeding on their own around 8 months.