Build a Designer Nursery on a Budget

If all parents had their way, every baby would have a gold-lined crib and designer sheets. But what few parents know is that you can have a million-dollar nursery on a low- to mid-range budget—it’s all a matter of choosing the right key pieces and adding a few extras. Here are some ways you can design your dream nursery without breaking the bank.

Invest in a crib: The crib is always the centerpiece of a nursery, so splurge on it. It’s also where your child will spend the most of his time, at least in the first few years. Wrought iron cribs are popular among the rich and famous, but high-quality wooden cribs go for about half as much and give the nursery a warmer, more welcoming look. Good linens and beddings are perfect for sprucing up the frame.

Pick a theme: Wallpaper used to be most parents’ first choice some years ago, but these days paint is coming back in fashion. Pink and blue are standard and will always work as long as you keep things consistent. However, more modern designers tend to go for neutral colors such as cream, beige, or even gray. This is perfect for when parents don’t know the baby’s sex yet. To keep it from getting bland, add touches of a more eye-catching color and use it as the color scheme.

Add complementary furniture: Nursery sets save you the trouble of mixing and matching everything. But full sets are expensive, and most parents opt to get their pieces separately in search of good deals. If this is your case, try to get pieces that at least have something in common, whether it’s the color, style, or upholstery. This will help tie the whole theme together—it’s the key to those “designer” looks you see in magazines. A comfortable feeding chair next to the can be pretty, not to mention convenient.

Throw in a personal touch. Designer rooms don’t count for much if they don’t have personality, and that’s where your own vision comes in. It doesn’t have to cost you that much more—you can simply add baby photos, souvenirs, or simple decorative touches. Artwork is also a good idea—you can simply get prints of your favorite pieces or cut out pages from books or magazines. Again, as long as it goes with the rest of your theme, there’s sure to be room for it!


The Prasouda Diet

The Prasouda diet is a nutritional system largely inspired by the Cretans, inhabitants of the Greek island of Crete. Its popularity rose following the Seven Years Study, which scientist Ancel Keys pioneered in 1958 and found that Cretan men were one of the healthiest people in the world. Today it’s more than just a diet: its cultural significance is so vast that the UNESCO declared it an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Morocco in 2010.

The diet is also known as the Mediterranean diet, although it isn’t entirely representative of the region’s cuisine. Generally, it takes only the healthy parts—you don’t get the meat- and lard-heavy preparations of Northern Italy, Greece’s moussaka and baklava, or the greasy tapas of Spain. Rather, it favors light, low-fat ingredients such as fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables, small amounts of meat and eggs, and dairy, nits, and unrefined grains. Perhaps the most distinctive features of the Prasouda diet are the wide use of virgin olive oil and daily consumption of wine.

Meat, fish, poultry and dairy serve as the main sources of protein. Cretans originally used different sources, such as goat milk, but modern alternatives are usually acceptable. However, some differences are more significant: for instance, Crete has a long tradition of using healthy, grass-fed animals for their meat and naturally fed chickens for their eggs. Researchers have noted significant variations in fatty acid levels between pasture and factory meats. If possible, get these ingredients from organic sources.

Nuts and olive oil are another vital part of the Prasouda diet. The use of olive oil ensures very low levels of saturated fat. While it’s not wholly responsible for the Cretans’ impressive health, as Keys originally believed, it’s a good source of healthy fat, especially compared to other commercially available oils. Fruits and vegetables are also a vital part of the diet. Again, organic sources are ideal, as many store-bought fruits are bred to have higher sugar content. The role of wine in this particular diet is unclear, but studies do show that a glass of wine a day can have health benefits.

Finally, there are grains—the trickiest part of the diet for most people. The traditional Prasouda diet included a lot of grains, but they were prepared differently. Natural methods such as soaking and sprouting help maintain the grains’ nutritional value and prevent unnecessary compounds such as gluten, so stick to them as much as possible. Avoid “instant” or refined grains, as they tend to have lost much of their nutritional value.

One thing to note about the Prasouda diet is that it’s not so much about what you choose to eat from day to day as how your choices work on a larger scale. The key word is diversity: you have to eat a varied diet that gives you your fair share of nutrients every day from natural sources. It’s also a lifestyle: back it up with regular physical activity and low stress levels, and you’re on the road to living like the Greeks.

Getting a Period During Pregnancy

A bit of bleeding during pregnancy can signal problems, but in most cases is usually no cause for worry. It is believed to occur in about one out of ten pregnant women. It usually happens during the first trimester as your reproductive system tries to adapt to its new role. A period during pregnancy is physiologically impossible; bleeding in this case is usually a discharge caused by some other process.

Bleeding during pregnancy is usually accompanied by a general feeling of heaviness. Some women have reported a lack of energy and light nausea. This is a result of your hormone levels changing as your womb tries to stem blood loss in areas where the placenta doesn’t cover it. This is called decidual bleeding and is completely normal during the first three months of pregnancy.

“Normal” bleeding is usually light; that is, no more than a few spots. The blood also tends to be dark or brown. If you lose more than a few drops and if the blood is bright red, it means there is active bleeding. In this case you should get some rest and call your doctor to get tested. The most common cause of this type of bleeding is a low-lying or detached placenta.

Bleeding that’s accompanied by sharp back or abdominal pain should also be brought to the doctor’s attention. Dark or brown spots in this case can signal a tubal or ectopic pregnancy (where the fetus is attached to the Fallopian tube or outside the womb, instead of inside it). This is rare, but if it’s the case it’s best to have it diagnosed as soon as possible.

A less common source of bleeding during pregnancy is a cervical polyp. These are usually benign and may even occur after you have sexual intercourse. You can opt to have them removed, but most doctors will only do this if it seriously obstructs fetal development (which is rarely the case). Vaginal infections and taking birth control pills before getting pregnant are also common causes of bleeding.

After the first trimester, bleeding should stop completely or at least slow down considerably. Any spots or drops past this point will potentially require medical attention, so pay extra attention to any discharges. While the cause isn’t always serious, getting in touch with your doctor and correcting any problems early on can prevent complications in the next few months, or even after childbirth.

Planning a Play Date

Children need social interaction as young as age two. Not only does it help them develop social skills; it also enforces their sense of identity as they compare themselves to other kids and families. That’s why it’s at this age that most moms take their kids out to play in the park, or in most societies, arrange play dates with fellow mothers. If you’re both too busy, however, that can be tricky.

The most important thing is to plan it well in advance. Depending on how packed both moms’ schedules are, this can be a week, two weeks, or a month. If it’s your first play date, give yourself enough time to get to know the place and find a good venue. Two-year-olds can be very curious, and you want to make sure you go somewhere with as few hazards as possible.

You may also want to bring toys along. Avoid duplicates by discussing it with your fellow moms, and planning to take toys that work well together. A mix of educational and creative tools, such as books and puzzles, will usually go hand in hand. Also, choose toys that can be shared between the kids—a book that’s big enough for two to read, or a play keyboard with room for two little pairs of hands.

If possible, have the kids meet before the play date. Some children are naturally shy and may spend the whole day tethered to their moms if they’re not familiar with their playmates. If this is the case, you’ll want to stay close to your child, as your presence makes them feel more comfortable. Interact with the other kids so they can take a cue.

Don’t be afraid to widen your kid’s social circle. Two-year-olds and six-year-olds don’t necessarily have to stay apart. While mixing age groups doesn’t always work, it benefits both parties: the younger child learns new words and tricks from the older ones, and the older ones get to “show off” and feel empowered by being able to teach other kids.

Finally, remember to make it a habit, and arrange dates with the same groups as much as possible. It’s important for kids to associate certain activities with each other. It’s what forms their bond and helps them understand the concept of friendship. They’ll also learn things faster as the company makes them more receptive to new ideas, and even encourages them to explore on their own.

Book Review: 14 Secrets to Better Parenting

They say good parenting is guided by ideals, and the best parents are those who are most in tune with their own beliefs. If you’re a new mom looking to put more structure in your parenting, here’s a book you might want to check out: 14 Secrets to Better Parenting by Dave Earley.

Based entirely on the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, the book has a decidedly spiritual spin to it—but it’s hardly preachy and surprisingly informative. Upon finishing it, mom and blogger Jenny, author of the website “I’m a Full Time Mom,” said she realized there was so much more to parenting than she’d previously thought.

Earley’s writing is compared to Zig Ziglar (God’s Way Is Still the Best Way) and Max Lucado (In the Grip of Grace, Just Like Jesus), in that all of them match their parental advice with quotes from the Bible and leave the reader to ponder on the subject long after turning the page.

The main idea of the book is that one should look to a spiritual power as the parenting “expert.” Earley used the Proverbs as inspiration because, according to him, it was written from the angle of a parent teaching and encouraging a child.

The reviewer offers some memorable points from the book, such as that parents shouldn’t focus on their children’s present and immediate happiness. According to Earley, this can cover up character flaws and behavioral problems and make children grow up spoiled.

Earley also tackles child discipline, an often touchy subject for new parents. He says parents tend to be afraid to exercise discipline—some are too soft-hearted and others don’t think the child is old enough to grasp the idea of punishment. But children need to learn discipline early and understand that they have to own up to their actions. Earley also discusses different forms of punishment, such as spanking.

The parent who disciplines the child should also be the one to comfort them afterwards, according to Earley. This will help them see that discipline and love are connected, and that punishments are given as an act of love. Most parents do otherwise—one usually takes on the role of disciplinarian while the other spoils and buys treats.

Overall, 14 Secrets to Better Parenting focuses on active parenting, offering parents little bits of wisdom that they can pass on to their children. Although strongly spiritual, it’s worth a read for parents of any belief looking for practical, real-life tips.

Pregnancy, Babies and Parenting – Everything for Moms