Friday, December 19, 2014

Eco-Friday: Alternative Holiday Gift Guide #GiftsWithACause


This holiday gift giving season as you are out and about shopping for commercial goods to give to family and friends, consider also gifting some alternative charitable goodies that can benefit impoverished people in America or other parts of the world.

Since 1996, the World Vision Gift Catalog has been offered to shoppers a selection of hand-crafted objects made in or inspired by the areas of the world the organization services. Last year, World Vision helped 822,000 people thought its catalog. 

In exchange for a specific donation, shoppers receive a gift for themselves or to give to someone else for the holidays, a birthday or some other occasion. 

The 64-year old old organization started out in 1950 aimed at helping orphans worldwide and now it focuses on poverty and injustice issues with 83% of its operating expenses going for programs to benefit children, families and communities in need. Only 5% of its 2013 expenses went to operational costs and 12% to fundraising.... 

...like for sending Bloggers like me a sample of an item from its catalog in exchange for sharing with our audiences about this option. 

The lovely African Soapstone Box I received is perfect for storing earrings.  Coated in light blue with an image of a giraffe, this ornate box features pretty details that will complement nearly any decor. Donations go toward the Kenyan artisans who crafted the box to help provide medical care for their families.  It is free with a donation of $85 to the organization. 



In addition, there are options in the gift registry that will be multiplied by matching government, corporate and foundation partners.  For example, perhaps in the name of a friend for Hanukkah, a donation gift of $25 will go towards $200 worth of supplies to help a poor family in America or a disaster relief victim. 

For those who are expecting and new parents and are grateful for being blessed with excellent healthcare and want to help mothers around the world get it too, there are options of donating towards Maternal Health in Afghanistan or a New Mother and Baby Kit

Consider checking out the catalog and donating on behalf of that person in your life who has everything! Thanks!





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Keeping Balance in the Hustle and Bustle of the Holidays



The holiday season is fast approaching and we all know what happens.  We overload ourselves with plans and activities whether it involves our kids or our own friends.  Our calendars fill up with social events for which we promise to bake and help decorate for and we have to squeeze our family in there somewhere.  Basically we run around like chickens with our heads cut off.

It is so easy to become overwhelmed and even a bit depressed during the holidays even though there is so much to keep you busy and so much to be happy about.  So many of us are people pleasers.  We want to be available to help everyone!  The key is to find a balance to keep our sanity and our happiness.    
  • Make plans for what you know you can handle and avoid booking more than one event in one day. I know this is unavoidable sometimes because you do not set the date for an event.  Plan around it if possible.
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  • When decorating and baking it is ok to take shortcuts.  You do not have to spend a fortune to make yummy appetizers or have a beautifully decorated home.
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  • Do not be afraid to delegate some of the work out to others.  It helps take some of the stress off of you.
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  • Plan on taking a day for yourself.  NO planning, baking, decorating or entertaining!  After attending all the school parties, adult parties, family get togethers you need a break!  A quiet dinner out or at home eating carry out with your husband might be a nice change of pace.  A nice quiet bubble bath can take the edge off of a busy week.
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  • It is alright to say “no”.  If you feel like you are booked until the next century politely turn down the event.  People will understand.
It is important to take care of yourself during the holidays and enjoy your friends and family.  It is really hard to do that effectively when we overextend ourselves. Enjoy all of your activities this holiday season, but remember to take some time for yourself as well!




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Kimora Lee Simmons debuts her 4th pregnancy bump in Saint Barts



Paps caught Kimora Lee Simmons on a yacht in St. Bart's this week in a black bump hugging scrunching mini dress, flip flops and Jackie-O glasses.  News leaked in October that Simmons was on  her fourth pregnancy, first with her banker husband Tim Leissner in October. 

The sometimes reality TV star and Leissner have been married since February.  

The former model turned designer and fashion mogul has two daughters, 14-year old Ming and 12-yar old Aoki with first husband Russell Simmons and son, Kenzo with actor Djimon Hounsou, with whom she was married for 5 years. 

h/t Daily Mail 




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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did you know Vaginal Birth Delivery envy is a thing?


Did you know vaginal birth envy is a thing?
I know because I had it. I used to get it every time I’d hear a friend delivered “naturally”. For various reasons, I delivered each of my three children, now 12, 9 and 6 1/2 via Cesarean section (C-section)
I was one of those women who read everything under the sun before having my first child. I placed a high premium on delivering vaginally as that is how our ancestors have done it for centuries before the advent of modern technology to assist with labor and delivery.
Also, going to due date forums, you meet all these women who also talk about birth plans, the optimal birthing experience with a special emphasis placed on doing it as natural as possible.
And of course, there, we’d find the occasional woman who loved her body, her lifestyle and her options and saw absolutely nothing wrong with bringing her children into the world with the most amount of assistance and pain free as possible. She was the first to tell a mom who had a c-section to buck up because at least her vajajay is still tight and intact! Woi! And everyone would tell you, it doesn’t matter how a baby got here, all that is important is that they arrived with all ten fingers and toes and were healthy.
  “All babies are natural,” they’d tell me. Yup. Yup. But still.
Notwithstanding all of that, whenever I heard news that a friend had delivered, I used to ask about the birth and would secretly wish they had to get a c-section too and when I’d learn they did not a flush of jealousy would come over me. 

It took a while, but as my kids got older and my friends stopped having babies, I eventually did get over it and no longer harbor those sinister thoughts and resentments.  I matured on the matter.
In hindsight, I can blame my conditioning, over education and deep seated passion for wanting to be old school.  I used to think that I never truly experienced birthing as God intended because I never had a vaginal birth.
Who else had vaginal delivery envy? I know I wasn't the only one. 
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Love and Hip Hop's Yandy Smith dishes on shooting reality TV while pregnant (VIDEO)


Love and Hip Hop's Yandy Smith has been having a vibrant and active pregnancy so far.  Smith rocked hot pink while attending a recent Monami holiday party thrown by show creator and executive producer of the Love and Hip Hop franchise Mona Scott-Young.

Before that, she and her son  Lil Mendeecees who she raises with her fiance Mendeecees Harris did the "Nae Nae" dance at the show's recent press event.

In the season debut this past Monday, December 15, Smith, who joined the show in 2011, is seen reuniting with Harris who got released from jail. Last season concluded with Harris heading there on federal drug trafficking charges.

The couple is expecting a daughter in February, their second child together. They welcomed a son Omere in summer of 2012 and Mendeecees has two sons from previous relationships.

They are working on finalizing a name, said Smith who once served as president for Monami and is a hip hop manager.  Smith wants to give their daughter her own last name as a first name, while Harris wants an African name, Smith told VladTV at the event.

When asked how she is handling shooting the show while pregnant, Smith lamented on pregnancy fatigue:

"I'm tired. I'm pregnant. I'm on a TV show. I have another show that I'm shooting, a cooking show. I'm running three businesses. Other than that I'm happy, but I'm tired. I work a lot."

Watch more from the short interview:



h/t fashion style

A video posted by yandysmith (@yandysmith) on




photos: Getty, VH1, Instagram

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FDA cracks down on ultrasound parties, commercial 3D imaging centers & in-home dopplers


The US Federal Drug Administration released a new update to its policies warning against the purchase of over-the-counter sale fetal heartbeat monitors which rely on Doppler ultrasound technology to listen to a baby's heart.

Apparently, it has become trendy for parents-to-be to pay commercial companies to conduct 4D and 3D ultrasounds in their home at gender-reveal parties and to charge for the 3D images, but the FDA says these outfits are exploitative and ultrasounds should only be used by trained medical staff. 

The oversight agency also warns the excessive and repeated ultrasound imagery for non-medical reasons can be dangerous to the growing fetus and mom. 

This is interesting because while the trend perhaps is to get a better visualization of what the baby to look like, many women who purchased portable dopplers may like having the comfort of being able to monitor their baby's heartbeat anytime. We imagine women who have had repeated miscarriages and fetus loss too may use the in-home devices so if there is a drop in heart rate, they could act. Granted, all of this probably contribute to increased false positive anxious calls from moms. 

What are your thoughts?

Read more about the new policy in the Huffington Post. 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Carrie Underwood wows at the American Country Countdown Awards

Carrie Underwood wowed us twice this Monday, December 14 at the 2014 American Country Countdown Awards at Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Love the cobalt blue Leanne Marshall silk-organza gown with undulating layers and black belt she wore while performing and the saucy one- sleeve gold eembellishedfigure-hugging white Xtreme dress she worked the red carpet in. That latter look was offset with a gold with black accented  Emm Kuo clutch and jewelry by  L’Dezen .

Underwood and her husband are Mike Fisher are expecting their first child. They announced the news this past September in the cutest way on Instagram by outfitting their two dogs in shirts declaring they will be a big sister and brother. 

photo: Getty

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Bellyitch/Beyond Baby Mama $1,000 Prize Pack Holiday Giveaway



Each year, Bellyitch has a holiday giveaway targeting its national audience. 

In 2013, and before that in 2010, it was Bellytich's Favorite Things and in 2012, we gave away 25 gifts for 25 days in December in the 25 Days of Christmas Giveaway. In 2011, we gave away $500 worth of goodies from our entire swag closet in a funny baby name competition. We've raffled off diamond push gifts and elegant celeb-fave designer maternity wardrobes and loads of other items generously donated and offered by sponsors.

This year, we wanted to do something a little different and focus on giving back to young moms close to our blog’s headquarters near Washington, DC. Many new moms starting out without an active partner in their parenthood journey struggle and don't have all they need. Some resort to using used items that may be outdated and unsafe.

That’s why Bellyitch has partnered up with writer, professor Stacia L. Brown, founder of the Washington-DC area-based blog dedicated to the support and upliftment of single mothers of color, Beyond Baby Mamas

The Grand prize this year, the Graco Modes Click 3 in 1 stroller travel system system we reviewed earlier today, valued at $500 (including delivery), is reserved exclusively for a deserving mom starting her family from the Beyond Baby Mamas outreach community. Others may benefit from other prizes as well. 

In addition to this awesome stroller, we are also offering up to anyone nationwide who wants to enter (not just DC area single moms) the following curated from previously featured brands and other items:
The value of all items up for grabs total $1,000, and we are still adding items up until the selection of the winners on Christmas day!

To enter, simply fill out the sweepstakes below. Enter for one prize or all.  However, if you want consideration for the stroller, you will have to (1)  live in the DC, Maryland, Virginia metropolitan area AND enter a comment stating who would use the stroller or who you will gift it to and why that person or family really need the stroller system.

The other prizes are available to anyone nationally!

The deadline is Sunday, December 21 at midnight. Beyond Baby Mama and Bellyitch will select three finalist and let readers vote for their fave finalist up until December 24 and select a winner on Christmas Day, December 25, 2014.  

We will accept entries for the other prizes, not the the top 3 until December 24.

The finalist getting the second highest votes will win the $100 Visa gift card and the third place winner will win the Diaper Bag.

Non top 3 finalists will also be entered to win the other prizes up for grabs on a raffle basis. The winner of those prizes will also be announced next Thursday!

You can enter daily!


Share the word! Thanks for entering! Happy Ho! Ho! Holidays, friends. 

GOOD LUCK!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GRACO Modes Stroller Travel System Review & GIVEAWAY)


Baby and children's product manufacturer Graco sent Bellyitch to review one of its newest stroller systems, the Modes Click Connect 3 in 1 Stroller Travel System  (valued $482) which can accommodate a newborn to a toddler. It's versatile, grows with baby and literally can be the only stroller you’d ever need.  

First off, we start off with a pretty good base product.  Over 12 years ago, I got my first Graco infant car seat and it was wonderfully constructed, safe and durable and lasted me through several years. It truly is the industry standard for those seats.  It appears Graco has improved upon older models and taken the best part of stroller systems to come up with this latest product. Here is my review:

·        It took me about 5 minutes to take out all the parts in the box the stroller shipped in and within 15 minutes I had assembled all the parts myself with no tools whatsoever.  It was super easy! Most of the parts snapped in easily and the instructions were quite intuitive.

·      From the hospital, a baby will spend most of its time inside the infant seat. No need to disturb baby when you are going from car to the mall. Simply snap the stroller into the buggy part of the stroller and go. If it will be used as a buggy for a brisk walk out in the neighborhood, simply lay baby inside the carriage part and you’re off. As baby grows out of the infant seat, the back part easily adjusts and can be used as a toddler and pre-schooler stroller. The back reclines for those moments when a small kid falls asleep. No more toppling over or neck strains as with traditional umbrella strollers.

·         The stroller easily collapsed with a pull of a lever in the back and quickly snaps into place with one hand. It can be removed and added into the trunk with one arm. This is important for when out alone with baby and not spare hands to help you out. The front wheels easily swivel for taking tight corners which is good for maneuvering around crowded and cramped areas.

·      The canopy was made of pretty durable material, not flimsy at all so it looks like it could withstand the test of time. I liked the fact that my sample was a dark navy because it made it unisex and can be used or gifted to a mom expecting a baby or either gender.   

·         The height is perfect for me who is just 5 foot 3 and my husband who is 6 foot 3 to push and not have his shins hit up on the base.

·         The boot is very spacious and ample. I was able to stuff into it an entire diaper bag, a spare blanket, a jacket and had room to spare.

·         The wheels were sufficient though they could’ve been a bit more rugged so to withstand the test of time or being pushed through dirt, gravel, sidewalks with cracks in them and other gritty terrain, occasionally.

It’s a perfect gift for a soon to be or brand new mom because it would be all they’d need for baby for a very long time.

And this year, we're giving away our review edition to a deserving mom-to-be or new mom.

Check the blog tomorrow morning for details on the giveaway!
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Attitude of The New Social Media Era of Expecting Moms (INFOGRAPHIC)




Believe it or not, December launched conception season! 

It's the time of year that most babies are conceived given that 10 of the most common birthdays are in the month of September. 

In particular, December 17th thru 31st  are  the most common conception date with being December 24 being the most common. 

And we are in the era of the social media pregnancy as a recent survey by Wakefield research for Natera, a leader in non-invasive genetic screening, found that 83% of the 500 expecting moms surveyed planned to share all their baby moments with friends online. 

About 47% of them plan to post updates 2-3 times a week to keep their Facebook friends up-to-date on their baby-baking journey.

The survey also found that 3/4ths or 79% of those surveyed will find out in advance their baby's gender. 

And for older moms like the 40 plus celebrities who gave birth after 40 (above), genetic testing is even more important given the increased risks for birth defects in their babies. Knowing as far in advance as possible can be essential 

Companies like the new Panorama™ NIPT, which sponsored the survey, have created genetic screenings that can test for abnormaliites as early as 9 weeks via a routing blood draw and without all the invasive screenings like with amniocentesis which carries a miscarriage risk. 

There is a bonus in that this new test can screen for gender at an accuracy rate of >99%! That is super early in the pregnancy! Amazing! Would you do use the screening? 

Learn more about the new new Panorama™ NIP from its Homepage: http://www.panoramatest.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PanoramaPrenatalTest or follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PanoramaTest

And in the meantime, check out this great infographic:

*note: compensation was paid for sharing this post with you but my opinions on how awesome this option would be for new and expecting moms is the same.


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6 Fashion Blogger Must-Haves: My Blogger's Holiday Wish List (Pt2)



Here is part two to my Blogger's wishlist dedicated to the fashion blogger. 

Because Bellyitch is part celebrity, part fashion, part parenting blog, as the founder and editor-in-chief of this blog, I get to put on different hats on various posts.  

So from the perspectives of a fashion blogger, I know that it is hard for family and friends to figure out what I may like as they may be unsure of my taste and preference. For me and any other fashion blogger in your life, it's probably a good idea to go with accessories! 

Here are my top 6 suggestions of what would or could be on a fashion blogger's wish list or a good gift idea for them or any woman who enjoys visiting fashion blogs.

1. COSTUME JEWELRY



Personally, I enjoy wearing chunky bracelets, big bold statement necklaces and unique bright and eye-catching rings or mini-rings, and other eclectic pieces of jewelry. They are conversation items and can individualize any look. Having a gift of a new piece would be appreciated because additional pieces can be mixed and matched with jewelry already in the wardrobe. Also, costume jewelry is usually cheaper and also more likely to get lost, broken or dull quicker and thus need replacement more frequently than fine jewelry. This reason is also why it's always a welcome gift.


2. SCARVES
A girl can never have too many scarves! They come in all sorts of materials, patterns and styles and can accent any look. Worn like a pashmina, a scarf can dress up a casual dress. Wrapped around the neck in an infinity loop and it adds a splash of color to a mono-chromatic dress. Lighter-weight ones work in Spring and Summer and heavier ones can keep you warm in cooler weather or worn on the head or double as a blanket on an overnight flight. 



3. JOURNALS

I am a compulsive list-maker and have dozens of hard cover journals filled with notes, budget calculations, and lists. I don't throw mine away either as I love to be able to look back and see where I was before and what items I've been able to check off my lists. I love getting them with fun colors or sayings on the cover and in a portable size so I can carry them everywhere I go, refer to them when needed or use them to jot down ideas for blog posts while waiting for the kids to rehearse or while at the dentist waiting room, for example. I carry my journals everywhere with me! 


4. SCENTED CANDLES

I really enjoy fragrant aromas like eucalyptus, mint, lavender not just because they make your home, purse or body spell nice but because they have therapeutic effect as well. Depending on the scent, aromatherapy candles can lift the mood, energize or calm. I love burning scented candles burn during my blogging work day. 



5. SMART PHONE COVER
As a blogger, I am constantly with my smart phone in my hand, social media networking past posts, capturing images for future blog posts, sharing finds to my social media network, communicating with other writers or staff members and occasionally, fielding real telephone calls. It is an extension of me and therefore also a fashion accessory and conversation piece. Like this cassette tape iphone cover (above) always get people talking because many cannot remember the last time they saw a cassette tape and will ask me what I'm doing with one, not knowing it is just a cover. 



6. PERFUME
Like I said, aromas are my thing, and like journals, a girl can never have too many bottles of perfume either. When you find a scent that works and sticks, get it and use that as your staple, but I love to also mix it up. Jessica McClintock works very well with my body chemistry and I always get compliments on it when I wear it. People cannot help but stop and tell me how good I smell and ask about the scent. I prefer sweeter scents like Versace's Red Jeans and Jean Paul Gaultier's Classique are also part of my go-to scents. 

HAPPY SHOPPING!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Bump Watch: Carrie Underwood dazzles the Grand Ole Opry stage


Carrie Underwood looked radiant right before taking the stage at the Grand Ole Opry Saturday, December 13, singing her hit song "Before He Cheats"  and her new single "Something in the Water."

The gorgeous mom-to-be who is expecting her first child with husband Mike Fisher captioned the above photo from the the event, "So much talent tonight at the @Opry," she tweeted. "The ladies were bringing it! @KaceyMusgraves @KreeHarrison @ClaraHenningse."

The multi-platinum-selling and award-winning looked fab in a long sleeve black mini dress, with smokey eyes and loose ringlets.

The Grand Ole Opry Twitter account shared this cool pic of the star performing.


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