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

It’s All About Food

Life since the New Year has been all about food! Ever growing kids means finding interesting things to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

This was dinner tonight. Made in about 15 minutes, eaten in under 5 and enjoyed by all.

On the menu:

Pasta with Pork/Spinach/Pesto/Sour Cream delight
Boiled Broccoli (plain, no butter or salt)

3/4 cup pulled pork (I have done it with tofu and seasoned chicken)
approximately 3 cups fresh spinach
8 greek olives (optional)
2 tsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp pesto
sprinkling of finely grated pecorino romano cheese (or any kind of grated cheese)

Fry up the protein with a little olive oil (medium to low heat), stir in spinach and cover pot to let the spinach cook. Add pesto, sour cream and olives (optional, my girls like olives). Turn down to low heat and cook until spinach is completely cooked. If anything sticks to the pot by this stage it should be pretty moist and the pot should come clean. If it looks too dry add a tiny bit of water. After about 5 minutes turn the heat off and let stand until ready. Meanwhile cook the pasta and broccoli.  These amounts serve three small kids and one adult!

Five minutes later…

Enjoy!  Oh… if your kids don’t like it then it’s a quick meal for you.  Yum!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are an all time favorite with the whole family.  There are two ways of baking them, two slightly different taste according to what spice you use and they are always delicious.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
1 1/2 cup of cane sugar*
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups of wholewheat flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon of allspice)*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins*
3 cups oats

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs and vanilla, beat well.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices (cinnamon or allspice), salt and chocolate chips or raisins.

Mix flour and butter mixture (in the large bowl).  Once all this is together add in the oats. Mix well.

At this stage you have two options for baking

1)  Chill overnight, then drop one rounded teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

The reason I chill it overnight is the cookie dough can be quite soft and the cookies will completely flatten/melt once in the oven.

2) On a large cookie sheet place about 1/2 the cookie dough mixture and flatten it out using a fork and your fingers till it’s about 1/4″ thick.


Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and immediately cut the cookie sheet into squares.  Do this before the cookie sheet is cooled or it’s really hard to cut!

Let the cookies cool completely before putting them in an sealed container.


I use silicon sheets for all my baking.  If you use one make sure your cutting instrument is dull or you’ll end up cutting through the silicon sheet.  I use either my pie server as a cutter or the backside of a dinner knife.

Flour* – I always use Whole Wheat flour for all my baking.  It’s great for cookies, brownies, cakes etc.  Unless you are looking for a super fluffy consistency whole wheat is a great option.

Sugar* –  In Honolulu we can find the 10lbs bags of Organic Pure Cane Sugar at Costco and I use this for all my baking.  I hardly ever use refined sugar.  When my kids were younger I would cut the sugar by 1/4-1/2 on most recipes.

Spices* – Cinnamon or All Spice.  There was one time I was out of Cinnamon and experimented with All Spice.  They have a very different, more Christmasy, flavor.  Still yummy!

Nuts* – Many recipes call for crushed walnuts, almonds, peanuts etc.  Once your kids go to school find out the nut policy at their school.  My girls go to a “Nut Free School” so anything with nuts is not allowed.


Little Helpers!  My three girls love helping me make these.  I can see in a few years they’ll be able to make them on their own with me in the background making sure not too much Baking Soda or Salt gets added.  If your kids are helping, the chilled dough route is often more fun as they can help make the mounds.  It can be a messy affair but for little hands very satisfying to squish around.  Make sure they don’t eat the dough as it does have raw eggs.


PS I totally forgot the vanilla in this batch I made last night and “overcooked” them by about 5 minutes so they are more like a crunchy granola bar. Bake them less and you’ll have a softer cookie. It all tastes good.

2011 Ends & 2012 Begins

The end of 2011was a mix of many things to do, places to be, kids and family time. I told myself that my kids and family couldn’t be put on hold and it was okay to pause the blog until the new year.

We had a great Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. My family was together for Christmas for the first time in over 20 years and it was superb.

Santa Claus was awesome. He clearly enjoyed the croissant my girls left him on Christmas Eve and he even left a note for them on the drawing they made. My brother said he heard them discussing the note and how excited they were by it. One of them said, “He even wrote the note in RED!!!”

Picture for Santa and his note to the girls

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and may 2012 be a year full of love, babies and families.

The January blog post will start the year off on a yummy note. Enjoy one of my favorite and super-easy cookie recipes. Great for kids and adults.

Cathy Louise

Christmas Morning 2011

Christmas morning 2011

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):

Ashlei Limbaga (current 2018)
Trained Labor and Birth Doula
(808) 366-0230

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

Fiona Custer (current 2018)
Certified Labor and Birth Doula
Certified Childbirth Educator
(808) 366-0230

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 July 2018