Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nordic Naturals: Ultimate Omega D3 Product Review

I am a big believer in the power of taking fish oil.  I began taking prenatal vitamins with a DHA component as soon as my husband and I got married.  I knew it wouldn't be long before we would be expecting, and I wanted to make sure I was not lacking any nutrients that would benefit a growing baby.  DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, is critical for brain and eye development as well as the development of the central nervous system.  Most women do not get enough DHA in their diets, which is why so many choose to supplement like I did.

Now, I have tried a wide variety of fish oils in the past.  I have tried expensive fish oil, cheap fish oil, plain ole DHA and the like, but my main complaint with most products is the disgusting aftertaste.  I remember being pregnant with my first son and constantly burping up a horrendous fish taste.  It made me so sick to my stomach and queasy.  It finally got to the point that I thought if I burped one more time, I would be urgently running to the bathroom to, well, you get the picture.

I was recently asked to try Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D3.  I had seen it before in the health food store and in Whole Foods, and I even spoke to a rep at Whole Foods shortly after my second son was born.  I was familiar with their branding and their reputation, but had never actually tried the product for myself until now.

I have come to realize there are so many things I like about this product.  For starters, the pills are lemon flavored.  The first thing I realized was that I never experienced fishy burps.  None.  It was so refreshing!  I later learned that fishy burps are a sign of poor quality fish oil.  Nordic Naturals is guaranteed pure and is tested by a third party to ensure quality and freshness.

I also love that the Ultimate Omega D3 contain 1000 IUs of D3.  Vitamin D is important and aids in  your absorption of calcium.  Vitamin D3 is the natural form produced by the body and is more easily absorbed.  Vitamin D3 also helps improve your bone strength, immune system, and mood.  My husband has had issues with vitamin D deficiency and I love that I only need to buy one supplement now instead of two.

I was very impressed to see the wide variety of products that are tailored to individual needs.  For example, there is Omega LDL for those who needs extra support when it comes to cholesterol.  There's Omega Probiotic to promote gastrointestinal health, and Omega Vision with concentrated DHA for eye function.  To view all the Nordic Naturals products you can visit They even have, Nordic Berries, a chewable multivitamin for the toddler in your life.  My son loves them! He calls them "vitamin treats."

Not only am I happy with Nordic Naturals for their product, but I admire their company too.  They operate out of a LEED certified facility and take great pride that their company has such a green building,  complete with cork floors.  They truly do have health and the environment at the heart of what they do.


Nordic Naturals wants to hear about What's Essential in your life?  Enter the contest to win a trip to California!  You also can enter by visiting the Nordic Naturals Facebook page!

Nordic Naturals has given me this product to review. I was not given the product in exchange for a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Cluster Love

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Cluster Love's first post.  What started out as a place to document my journey to rediscovering myself after motherhood, has become a wonderful and supportive place where I have met a variety of strong, intelligent, and inspirational women. 

For me, Cluster Love is a place that is mine; a place to share my thoughts and fears, and a place to document the development of my growing little boys.  It's where I go to vent about life and society, and a venue to spread the good word about natural childbirth, homebirth, placenta encapsulation and the like. 

It is my hope that at some point over the past year, I have opened eyes, inspired, or taught some of my readers something, even if it's the slightest little thing.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog because I have poured much of my heart  and spirit into it.  This blogging journey has been far more fulfilling than I ever imagined and I am thankful for your comments and love.

On the left side bar, you can see the most read posts over the past year, but I thought I would list 5 of my personal favorites.

Having a Baby; It's Like Buying a Minivan...kinda

Tips to Have a More Comfortable Birth

Why I Chose to Birth at Home

My Path

 Here's to another year full of growth, love, and family!





I Can Paste!

On such a rainy day, I decided it was a good choice to stay in and play.  One of the many things we have done today, aside from the typical painting and pretending to be airplanes, is to create a picture collage. 

I have never really had Enzo work with paste or a glue stick before and he enjoyed turning paper into "stickers."

First, I cut construction paper and foam pieces into familiar shapes.

The shapes were:
a cloud
a sun
a bus
a road
a tree trunk
a tree top

I wanted to see how well Enzo could arrange the shapes into a picture.  This is a great exercise for promoting spacial skills and discovering the relationship between things.  It was really fun to see his little wheels turning while playing with each shape. 

First, I helped Enzo understand the task by helping him glue down the road.  He immediately realized the relationship between the bus and the road.  Enzo picked up the bus and began making sound effects.  What was especially interesting was that he kept acting like the bus was a 3D object but holding it perpendicular to the paper.  When I showed him that it can lay on top of the road, he got annoyed with me.  It's his art work so I let it go and let him discover on his own.  We moved on to the next shape.

He is very intrigued by the sky lately.  He was eager to glue the sun and put it in an appropriate place on the paper.  The cloud followed.

He had trouble grasping that the 2 tree pieces went together.  I demonstrated how they were a pair but he really liked them as separate pieces and pasted them accordingly.

At the end of the project, he was able to paste the car in a 2D presentation.

Here is the final product.

Enzo can paste!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pinning Pollution

I recently had to go through my Pinterest account and unfollow a bazillion people.  It appears my Pinterest wall had been attacked by anti-woman pinners.  The crazy (and sad) part is that the pinners are all women.

I had been getting really sick of all the thinsperation that kept polluting my Pinterest account.  It started wearing on me.  I mean, look at this crap.  I get that you want to be thin.  I even respect that.  But instead, can you please want to be healthy?  How about we focus on being fit and healthy because it improves cardiovascular health, not because for some reason, you want your hip bones to protrude.  Want it because you'll live longer.

Please stop crowding my space with all your unhealthy body images?

I don't exactly love my body, however, I definitely don't loath myself for it's imperfections.  And I most definitely don't stew and stress and wish upon thousands of stars that my hip bones will protrude when I am standing on the beach in a thong bikini.

Let's be honest, do the images above really inspire you?  Does it make you want to eat a bib of lettuce for dinner and work out until midnight?  Because that certainly is not healthy. 

Eat well.  Exercise.  Love yourself.  And for the love of God, stop posting this self-loathing, pitiful, women-should-look-like-this crap all over the internet.

Now, let's talk brains...

This poster is what really set me off.  This pin alone was the catalyst for my Pinterest-follower cleanse.

Can you guess which part really fucking irritates me?  Think like a man.  Yup, you read it correctly.  It actually says, Think like a man.

I don't know about you, but to me, this implies men think better than women.  Men have more complete, complex thoughts than women do.  It insinuates that women are not as good at solving problems or proving points.  Men are more knowledgeable, smarter and women can't be as successful.

I think my biggest problem with this pin is that it was pinned in a very girl-power context, yet it puts women down in the same breath.  It's trying to be inspirational and fails miserably.  It's telling women to be strong, successful, and motivated.  It screams Go get 'em, yet tells you that you can't think like a woman.  You can't be yourself; it's not good enough.  What is that?!

Here's my thought, I would rather think with my female-promoting, self-loving, intelligent, knowledge-hungry brain than think like a man any day of the week.

That is all.  Good day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Enzo- 22 months

 I can't believe Enzo is two months away from being two years old.  He amazes me every single day with the things he is learning.  His personality is so strong and he isn't afraid to show it.  He, as most toddlers are I'm sure, is so passionate.  He loves the things he loves with all that he has. On the flip side, he also despises some things so passionately, the neighbors a block away probably know about it.

Here are some of things Dude loves these days.

  • Horsie and Cow.  My Mom got Enzo a horse and a cow figure for Christmas.  He loves these animals so much.  He puts Play Doh hats on them and always says the horse is running on the beach.  He feeds them his breakfast and sleeps with them.  He makes them kiss and makes them ride his Thomas train.  Horsie and Cow are where it's at right now.
Horsie and Cow with hats on.
  •  Hats.  The kid loves hats.  They are his all time favorite accessory.  He sleeps with a hat on, wakes up with a hat on and switches hats routinely.  His hat collection is probably larger than my husband, brother, and father's combined.
Why wear 1 hat when you can wear 2?

  •   Caillou and Thomas.  He also likes Elmo and Mickey Mouse.  If any of these characters are on his shirt, he will refuse to wear a coat. 

  • His brother.  Enzo loves Massimo with all his might.  Literally.  He loves Massimo with such a force, it often makes his brother cry.  Enzo means well, he just has a hard time showing affection softly.  Instead, he grabs his brother's head and kisses his face, often making Massi lose balance and fall.  He's rough a lot of the time.  The other day, I caught him laying on top of him.  Massimo adores Enzo too, and wherever his older brother is, he follows.  I am convinced that's why 7-month-Massi is climbing stairs, crawling and cruising so easily.  He just wants to be like his older brother. It makes my world go round when I watch them playing nicely together.  The sound of them giggling in response to one another is all I need to be happy.  I swear, it's better than any drug on the planet.

  • Water.  Enzo is still very much into water.  He loves washing his hands and taking baths.  It often becomes a power struggle to turn the water off when he washes his hands.  If I let him, he would play with the water for hours.  HOURS. He also loves to help wash the dishes. 
  • Cars, trucks, trains and anything that goes.  He loves to beep the horn in the car.  Just so you know, I regret that anyone showed him that feature because he asks to beep the horn almost every time we get the car.   It's the cause of many, many tears.
  • Birthdays.  He is very intrigued by birthdays.  Don't show the boy a candle without being prepared to light it, sing happy birthday and let him blow it out.  Recently, one of Enzo's friends had a 2nd birthday party.  Everyone gathered around the cake, sang, and the birthday boy blew out the candles.  Everyone clapped.  Enzo cried.  And cried.  We had to light the candles and let him blow them out too.  Then, just the other day, we were talking about how his friend Ally's birthday party was approaching.  Later in the day I asked what he would like for lunch.  The response- Ally birfday cake.
  • Painting.  We paint almost daily.  Now, I am looking at new ways to paint just to keep it interesting.
I love who Enzo is becoming.  He is kind and very affectionate.  He often asks for hugs or will climb onto my lap and say love.  Hearing him say, "Wuv you, Mama." makes any bad day instantly good again.  He is pig headed and stands his ground.  It's frustrating now, but at the end of the day it's not always bad trait to have.  He is definitely not a follower and has no problem going off and doing something other than what the group is doing.  He is comfortable in who he is and I admire that about him.

Next up, planning a farm-themed birthday party!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ryan Gosling & MBOBB

More Business of Being Born was released on Amazon this week.  As you can imagine, I have plans to purchase it very soon.

My husband, who is very supportive of my birth obsession, was very impressed with the first documentary, The Business of Being Born.  I envisioned him saying the following to me when the 4-disc DVD bundle arrives in the mail.
Babe, I'll be home tonight after Jiu Jitsu.  Please don't watch More Business of Being Born without me.  I'll be home by 9.  Then, we'll drink some wine and watch it together, cool?
That would've been hot.   While he will definitely watch it with me, he's not chomping at the bit for me to order it or anything.

Thus, inspired my Ryan Gosling meme.  I know they are everywhere but I couldn't resist the urge to make my own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cloth Diaper Confessions

Enzo at 1 month in a butternut BG diaper.
  Do you want to know the cold, hard truth?  I'm a quitter.  Yup, the cloth diaper advocate who had guns blazing for anyone who dissed the benefits of cloth diapering has quit.   

I bow my head in shame and shield my eyes from your view as I tell you that I have committed to quitting cloth on such a level that I even went as far as buying a Diaper Genie- GASP!

I cloth diapered Enzo his entire life.  I loved it.  They were stylish, safe from harmful chemicals, and saved us money in the long run.  And as if those attributes aren't enough, they save on a crap ton of landfill waste, one of the most common items sitting in landfills today.

I really didn't mind doing the excess laundry, which is surprising because I typically despise doing laundry.  I even enjoyed the zen-like act of stuffing and folding clean and freshly washed diapers. 

 After trying a few different types of diapers, we eventually became exclusive to Bum Genius.  We have a very nice stash and right before Massimo was born, we added about 12 of the newest BG 4.0 to the collection.  We have invested a lot of money into cloth diapering because we believed in it.  We still do.

It seems, though, as Enzo grew, the one-size Bum Genius diapers weren't fitting as well.  In fact, they were downright tight.  He is a tall kid and the diapers didn't seem to have a high enough rise.  They still worked fine but they didn't look very comfy. Despite the sizing concerns, I was still very much on the CD wagon.

But then there were two. Two babies.  Two poop producing babies.

When Massimo joined our little cluster, I was completely shocked at the quantity of laundry my family produced.  I don't know what I was thinking it would be like, but it floored me that a little 10 lb baby could make a family's laundry double, or so it seemed.

I, truly, was doing something cloth diaper related all the time.  Literally.  It consumed a large part of my day, every day.  I had to wash a load daily, despite having a large stash, because if I skipped a day (which I often did), it would get out of control and then out of nowhere, I would have 3 loads pile up in what seemed like 10 minutes.  It got to a point where I felt like we never had clean clothing because the washer and dryer were always working on diapers.

I honestly felt like CDing had begun to take over my life.

I would sit stuffing oodles & oodles of diapers, thinking about all the other things in my life and home that needed to be done.  It became a time-suck and it was overwhelming.  It blew.

Then, when Massimo was about a month old, he got this weird and very gnarly diaper rash.   I tried every type of remedy under the sun; California Baby, Bordeaux's Butt Paste, some homemade olive oil/lanolin cream, Desitin- everything.  Sometimes, it would start to go away, but then it would come back worse than before.  His skin was a mess for a long time.

On a whim and as a last resort, I tried disposable diapers to see if I could get the rash to go away.  I thought if the moisture was wicked away from his skin, maybe I could resolve the problem.  It didn't go away.  It stayed exactly the same.  Nothing worked, and after a few months of going around in circles with it healing, then coming back worse, he ended up needing an antibiotic.  Turns out, the rash has fungal qualities.  I was desperate and agreed to the meds.  Diflucan did the trick.

 Were the cloth diapers at fault for this gross, fungal rash?  Not sure.  I would say, probably not.  After all, the area is dark with lots of folds and places for moisture to get trapped and stuff to grow.

Around this time, I had also started putting Enzo in 'sposies, too.  Let's face it.  I needed the break.  I was burnt out on diapers.   I was burnt out on laundry and I was paranoid that our stash had something growing in it resulting in Massi's diaper rash.
Remember my Christmas card photo debacle? 

I teetered on and off the cloth diaper wagon for several months.  I would give myself a two week reprieve to catch up on clothing laundry and regain my sanity, and then I'd go back to cloth, until finally, I caved and quit.  See, I really enjoyed those 'sposie periods and would dread going back to cloth.  I would beat myself up over the environment, the chemicals and the money we spent on our cloth diapers.  This guilt is what made me go back to them.

But at the end of the day, cloth just wasn't working for us anymore, not with 2 kids in diapers.  So, I stopped and I am happier.  I don't have any guilt about it, either.  OK, well, at times I do, but I do plan to return to cloth once Enzo has learned how to potty like a big kid.

Massi this past summer at the Death Cab concert.  It was so hot we had to strip him down.

 So, does it bother me that my children have potentially harmful chemicals on their bottoms?  Honestly, I try not to think about it.  They say, ignorance is bliss.  I guess that holds true even if you are just pretending to be ignorant, too.

Does it bother me that Massimo and Enzo's diapers will still be sitting in a landfill when my great-great-great grandchildren are walking the earth.  Absolutely.  It haunts me, actually.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sensory Fun

My friend C has become so passionate; so enthralled; so head over heels in love with sensory play.  What was first inspired by Pinterest, eventually led her to a variety of play-based blogs.  They inspired her so much that she began to explore sensory play daily with her girls.  After trying several tried and true activities, she has now come up with lots of new play ideas and has even started a play-based learning blog.  When you get a chance, check her blog out.

We get together every month with a group of other toddlers and moms for a play-date.  C came up with the idea to make this month's play-date sensory themed.  She had recently turned her unfinished basement into a messy play space and worked diligently for weeks to make this event a success.

The room was set up in stations.
Check out all the fun activities the kids had to explore.  As you can see, everyone had a great time.
An area for infants to play.
A pool full of water beads.  Click here to learn more about water beads.

Using light to explore water beads.

This pool was construction themed and full of deer corn, tools and cars.

A kiddie pool full of blue noodles.
A JELLO dig.  The kids dug for snakes.

Poor Mass.

While the other kids played with GOOP, Enzo chose to sweep.  Such a good little helper.

GOOP!  Is it a liquid or a solid?  It's both!  Read more about GOOP here.
Water beads are Enzo's favorite.
What a great end to the day; a pizza party!

 To read about how C made this play-date such a success read this post and this post.

Marble Painting

One of Enzo's favorite activities is painting.  He is just like his Mama that way.

This morning I decided to try marble painting.  It's a nice way to spice up a go-to activity so that he doesn't get bored.  I had an old canvas that had been in the basement.  The frame had warped from the moisture but I didn't want to get rid of it.  I took the canvas off the wooden frame and cut it to the size of a box I had laying around the house. 

Then I put puddles of paint in the box and the fun began.

I didn't have marbles on hand so I used bouncy balls.  Marbles are a choking hazard for Massimo anyway, and Enzo really loves playing with the bouncy balls.  This made it easy to get him interested in the activity. 

Once the paint was in the box, I threw the balls in.  Then I let Enzo manipulate the box so that the balls would roll around. 

Once we had one canvas filled, he wanted to continue.  I cut another piece of canvas and we started the process again.  This time we added one of his cars.  He really loved rolling the car's wheels through the paint yelling, "Vroooom!  BEEP! BEEP!"

Once both paintings were finished, we let them dry.  While Enzo ate his snack, I cut the paintings to size, put them in frames and hung them in our living room.  We had a great time and Enzo was so proud to see his artwork framed. 


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