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Simple Bottles

I love kitchen gadgets! My cupboards, cabinets, and closets are overflowing with pint sized machines touted to make my life easier. I have little doubt that I am the ideal target for every sales pitch.

When I was pregnant, I was surprised and delighted to discover that having a baby expanded my 812WVN8zkeL._SL1500_gadget horizons. My goodness things have changed in the eight years since I had my first child. From tabletop bottle cleaners to all-inclusive baby food makers, my kitchen machine horizons have been greatly expanded.

Walking through the store aisles, my eyes locked onto a machine that I immediately knew would take up residence on my kitchen counter. The Baby Brezza is a bottle making machine for formula fed babies. It is like a Keurig for babies!

I received a lot of slack from family and friends when I posted my excitement about the Baby Brezza. After all, it isn’t terribly difficult to make a bottle. Although it isn’t hard, I appreciate anything that makes a repetitive task easier and standardized. The Baby Brezza does both.

The water reservoir keeps the liquid at the ideal temperature for baby. This eliminates the guesswork, making sure that the water is neither too hot or too cold. At the push of one button, the Baby Brezza mixes the proper amount of formula powder with the perfectly heated water, dispensing the smooth liquid into the bottle.

Lumps, under or overheated water, and powder spills are all a memory thanks to this wonderful little machine. Since my little guy was born prematurely, he was put on a strict feeding schedule of every 90 minutes. It was during these endlessly long and exhausting nights that I truly fell in love with my Baby Brezza. In my sleep deprived state, I know that the bottle would be ready in a mere 15 seconds, and that the proportions will be perfect every time.

Since my re-amputation a month ago, I have set up the machine in our living room so that it is within arms reach. It is incredibly convenient that I am able to make a bottle without getting up, and that no mess was created during the process. I am sure my husband appreciates not being called to help every 90 minutes!

The Baby Brezza Bottle Maker has helped me to continue to be an UNlimter Mom during my recovery. It is a ingenious time saving machine for new parents who are formula feeding their baby. The Baby Brezza has made the exhausting job of feeding my baby every 90 minutes (that is 16 times a day) a little easier!

cooking

Sous vide cooking is a great new way of cooking food. I will not explain why and how it works here. For great recipes and explanations, you can check out those guys :Unfortunately, a good (and I mean precise to the half C) sous vide machine is very very expensive (500, 1000$ or more).

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Cold Rush

This past week has been spent recovering from my re-amputation surgery. The pain has been relentless, rendering me feeling both drained and useless. I am a stubborn person and it’s difficult sitting on the sidelines. I was becoming depressed, and then I had an epiphany.

I’m an UNlimiter- we may have setbacks, but we are never knocked out completely! I may not be able to take care of my baby right now, but soon the pain will wane and I’ll figure out a way.  That is what UNlimiters is all about, figuring out the way to adjust to live the best life possible.coldrush

For the first few days after the surgery, the only relief I found was when I iced my limb. Because we are no strangers to surgery in this family, we were fully prepared for this eventuality. I directed my husband to the bottom corner of our hallway closet to retrieve our Cold Rush machine.

I love my Cold Rush! This super quiet machine provides a steady cool temperature through the pads. The temperature can be varied between chilly to cold, allowing me steady control. Ice packs start dangerously cold and quickly melt through the stages until it is warm and useless, leaving a drippy wet spot as a reminder of their former glory.  The pads for the Cold Rush are soft, flexible and uniquely designed to fit the user’s needs. Ice packs are the shape they assumed when they were last thrown into my freezer.

The Cold Rush allows me, in a small way, to be independent. My husband fills the reservoir with ice in the morning, and it lasts throughout the day. I realize that it may seem small, but when I am forced to ask for help with everything else, the fact that I can control my own ice requirements feels like a huge victory!

Every member of our family, with the exception of the newborn, has used the Cold Rush. Scott pulls it out of the closet when he twinges his back, and my eight year old has used to after various falls from his tree climbing adventures. My Mom borrowed the machine when she underwent her double knee replacement.  I highly recommend the Cold Rush to anybody who is tired of digging around the bottom of the freezer trying to find an ice pack, only to discover that it is too hard to fit around the aching appendage or that it has acquired a funky smell. If an ice pack has left you wet, or covered with thick blue goo from a puncture, the Cold Rush is for you.

 

Hands Free Baby Carrier

I prefer to be hands free whenever possible.  Erring on the side of caution, I feel more comfortable keeping my hands available for balance or for grasping handrails. This preference also holds true when caring for my newborn. More often than naught, when I am upright my baby is securely against my chest, comfy and safe within his Moby Baby Wrap.

Okay, in full disclosure I was initially skeptical of the Moby. After I uncoiled the package, I realized that the carrier was nothing more than an extremely long scarf. I was worried that a simple piece of fabric would safely- and comfortably- secure my most precious possession. Before returning it to the store, I decided to give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by how secure my little baby was tethered against my chest. He was snug against my body, yet not so tight that he wasn’t able to move. The fabric has the perfect amount of stretch to strike the balance between safety and comfort.

I love my Moby for many reasons.The wrap is completely adjustable, allowing me to easily switch his position. Granted, it took me a little while to perfect the Moby wrapping process, but after some practice it is now second nature. I feel considerably safer walking with my little guy when he is secured on my chest as opposed to being held in my arms.

Unlike other carriers on the market, the Moby can be used from birth through 35 pounds. (My little guy was born early and did not meet the weight requirement of the other carriers.) I doubt I’ll have the strength (or desire) to strap a 35 pound child on my chest, but it is nice to know that I can if the need arises!

Tying the Moby around my back distributes the weight evenly, making it more comfortable for me to wear my baby for hours without fatiguing. When I finally take him out of the carrier, I am a little sweaty but never sore.

Having a newborn with reflux, I have learned to appreciate being able to clean baby items with ease. The Moby Wrap can be thrown into the washing machine when it becomes formula/ spit up covered. I am pleased that it can be thoroughly washed instead of just spot cleaned, especially when the item is so close to both of our bodies!

I would highly recommend the Moby Baby Wrap to any expecting parent! I have found it especially beneficial because it allows me to remain hands-free, and hence safer, when walking with my little guy. It turns out that this simple long scarf does an amazing job!

 

Holding my little Timmy in his Moby.

 moby

Homemade Lunch: No Communal Refridgerator Required

Fridge

I have been a full-fledged, card carrying member of the work force for about ten years now. I have to say, being an adult and having a job is not nearly as scary as they made it sound in the brochure. However, there is one thing no one tells you about. It is the one thing that can make you fear for your life and run for the door. It is just as likely to be found at a fancy law firm or doctor’s office, as it is in the employee lounge of a grocery store, or post office. What am I talking about? None other than the communal refrigerator.

Almost anyone who has held a job outside of the home has encountered the communal refrigerator; if you have not, count your lucky stars. Communal refrigerators are notoriously icky. They are usually stuffed full of items that expired during the Clinton administration, and there is almost always an unidentifiable sticky substance lurking at the bottom of the drawers. The freezer is the safest place for your food, but everyone knows that, so good luck squeezing your lunch in there.

The communal refrigerator at my current job isn’t that terrible, but I am still not inclined to use it. Even if I was, the staff lounge is a tight squeeze for my wheelchair, plus the fridge is a side by side, so I can’t reach all the shelves. For me, it is much easier to just keep my lunch with me at my desk, but then there is the concern of keeping it cold. Avoiding the communal refrigerator is pointless if I get myself sick with warm mayonnaise.

I tried a number of lunch coolers before I found one that met all my needs; big enough for my breakfast and lunch, actually kept my food cold and fit in the backpack I use on the back of my chair. But finally the fourth one I tried fit the bill. This lunch tote by Thirty One, holds a lot of food, but its soft sides and shape make it fit easily in my backpack. This bag is also the only one I have found that will keep my food cool until lunch time without the hassle of an ice pack.

So if you are sick of eating out every day just to avoid the horrors of the communal fridge, try this cute little cooler. It can be found in several colors, so you can also stay fashionable while your food stays cool.

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Pool Bag Packed

Happy (unofficial) start of Summer!

We are chomping at the bit to participate in all of our favorite warm weather activities. From going to the pool on a hot summer afternoon to hanging out with friends and neighbors around the fire pit in the evening, we love summertime. The fact that my husband is a teacher, allowing him to enjoy a prolonged vacation from school with our sons, certainly helps to enhance the season.

Although the weather isn’t forecast to cooperate with our poolside dreams this weekend, we have been busy getting ready. As soon as the thermometer tops 80 degrees, we’ll be at the pool. (The temperature of the water is inconsequential for my son.)

Packing for a family day at the pool requires planning. In addition to the towels, water, goggles, sunscreen and assorted toys, I have to make room for my swim leg.  Although it is bulky and rather heavy, I know that I am lucky to have a designated pool prosthesis. It isn’t beneficial for swimming laps (which isn’t something I do frequently anyway) but it is wonderful for walking, lounging and playing in the water with my son. I feel safer and more stable having two feet on the pool floor, especially when holding a child. Image

After trying numerous tote bags, last year we settled on a roomy insulated shopper tote. This large shoulder bag provides ample room for all of our pool supplies, including my leg. I appreciate that I can discretely carry my swim leg with everything else. I’m used to stares, but avoiding the looks of shock (and sometimes repulsion) when I am carrying a spare leg is definitely a perk to utilizing a large tote bag!

The shopper tote is insulated, a feature we appreciate during the hottest days of summer. I put water bottles and snacks, along with an ice pack, in the bottom of the bag before piling our towels, toys and my leg on top. When we get to the pool and unpack, the refreshments and ice pack stay in the tote. The insulated walls of the bag keep everything chilly, even on the hottest days. Not having to spend $5 for a bottle of water at the concession stand makes this bag worth the investment.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate soon and we can take our inaugural trip to the pool. Our towels and my leg are packed neatly in the tote bag, ready to go when the opportunity arises.

 

Happy Memorial Day!

Call Screening Made Easy!

Stemming from what I can only categorize as extreme exhaustion, I have found myself screening calls on a frequent basis. It isn’t that I am seeking to be a recluse. Rather, I’m simply too tired to exert the mental energy required to maintain a conversation. It has been a long time since I’ve cared for a newborn.  I can honestly say that it is a lot harder at 40 years old than it was when I was in my early 30’s.

I remember screening calls in college. My roommate and I would sit quietly while the phone rang. Only after the answering machine picked up did we receive a clue concerning the identity of the caller. If it was somebody we wanted to talk with, we would pick up the receiver (and the remainder of the conversation would continue to be recorded on the answering machine.) Looking back our method seems so archaic when compared to the convenience of Caller ID.

We have recently taken Caller ID to the next level by introducing a talking cordless receiver. Now when the phone rings I don’t need to Imageget up and frantically try to locate a phone receiver to check the number. After the second ring, the phone clearly reads the identity of the caller.

When we were shopping for new phones last month, the talking Caller ID feature sought because of my husband’s insistence. I thought that the feature was a quirky perk, but never envisioned it to be functional. In this situation, I am happy to admit that I was wrong, and that he was right!

I love being able to identify the caller without moving. I’m so worn out from taking care of the baby, and having so many prosthetic issues, that anytime I can remain still it feels like a victory. The Talking Caller ID phone has saved me both the frustration of trying to find a phone before the ringing stops and unnecessary (and currently painful) walking. Ditching the visual caller ID and making the switch to a talking caller ID cordless phone system has been UNlimiting!

Bed Rest and Easter Magic

Due to complications which have arisen during the pregnancy, I have been officially put on bed rest. My initial reaction to the directive was one of mild optimism. After all, I am always being pulled in several directions at once. I reasoned that being ordered to stay still and relax would feel like a vacation.

Within 24 hours the novelty of bed rest wore off, rendering me frustrated, anxious and feeling guilty about not actively caring for my family. I hate being limited and, even though I know that this situation is temporary, I have been struggling to maintain an upbeat demeanor. My son and husband have been wonderful, pitching in to take care of everything that needs to be done. They have shown nothing but support, but I am still feeling guilty about being rendered dependent.

Spending so much time in bed has left me with a whole new appreciation for pillows and linens. My husband surprised me with a fabulous pregnancy pillow for Christmas, but this long body pillow is only beneficial when I am prone. I have to remain still, but I can still be propped up in a seated position. I found it nearly impossible to maintain a comfortable posture by stacking all of our pillows behind me. I needed something with more support, but I also knew that a typical back wedge would be inadequate. The baby bump forces me to constantly shift my weight, and I needed a solution that could be easily adapted to my position.

I may not be able to hit the mall and go shopping, but thankfully I have a strong internet connection in our bedroom. It didn’t take me long before I managed to find the backrest I was seeking. The Contour 10 in 1 Flip Pillow is the perfect solution for my bed rest woes. Because of the jointed sections, I am able to shift my weight and quickly reorganize the pillow configuration to maintain comfort. The back rest is firm yet soft, allowing me to sink back and relax without struggling to remain upright.

Although I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as enjoying bed rest, I can say that my lower back is no longer aching because of it. Being able to remain comfortable during a difficult situation is paramount to remaining upbeat. There isn’t anything I can do right now about my limited activity, but I’m glad I found a pillow to help make me more comfortable as I wait for baby to arrive.

I highly recommend the Contour 10 in 1 Flip Pillow for anybody who is rendered to bed rest, whether the directive stems from a difficult pregnancy or recovering from a surgery. The ability to reshape the pillow into a variety of configurations has proven to be invaluable to maintaining a level of comfort in a difficult situation.

On a different note, this Sunday is Easter. Saturday night, before tucking the little ones into bed, have them plant some jelly beans (either outside or in a flower box.)  As the Easter Bunny hops by, his magic makes the jelly beans grow into lollipops!

Below is an explanation of Easter Magic, courtesy of my little boy.
http://youtu.be/4Lxql1M8_0w

Painting Made Easy

In our home, this past week has been dedicated to interior painting. While part of this desire certainly stems from Spring Fever, specifically my need to spruce up a bit after the extremely long winter, the majority of my motivation lies squarely on nesting. I’m about a month away from giving birth, and my head is racing with projects that I feel compelled to tackle before we meet the newest member of our family.

Truth be told, I haven’t picked up a paint roller since the last time I was pregnant. I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit that our walls have been untouched for eight years, but in reality I don’t enjoy painting and therefore I tend to avoid the task at all costs. I don’t mind the prepping and the painting, but I detest the ladder climbing that is involved. Because of my prosthesis and balance issues, I don’t feel safe on a ladder. I begin to panic on the second rung and break into a full blown sweat by the third.  Whenever I feel vulnerable I tend to shy away from the activity, hence the reason for our scuffed and dirty walls.

Of course, aversion doesn’t always work and sometimes reality intervenes. The baby’s room, which had been used by my husband as his “man cave,” was left in a state of uninhabitable disrepair.  The wall paint was beyond redemption, necessitating both priming and painting before we could assemble the furniture.

Last weekend I finally broke down and decided to conquer the painting. I went to the local paint store to secure supplies, and to pick the colors. While talking with the salesman, I conveyed my dread of climbing ladders. He ushered me to a corner aisle and showed me a product that he promised would make the task easier and safer for me.  I was skeptical of course, but the store’s money back guarantee made trying the gadget worthwhile. After all, the only thing I really had to lose was some time, and if it reduced my reliance upon the ladder it was certainly worthwhile.

The Wagner Spray Tech Smart Flow Roller was easy to assemble and fill.  Within minutes of assembly I was rolling the paint onto the walls, transforming the man cave into a bright and cheerful nursery. The extended reach did just what the salesman promised, eliminated my need to climb the ladder! Unlike normal extension poles, the roller was easy to maneuver and handle from the ground. I didn’t feel like I was losing control of the roller, and was able to paint the entire ceiling without stepping on a single rung.

Because the paint is contained inside the Smart Flow Roller, I didn’t have to contend with messy paint trays and dripping cans. The paint flowed at an even pace which was easy to control.  All I had to do was fill the reservoir and start rolling!

The room which I dreaded painting was complete in less than 3 hours, and much of that time was dedicated to drying between coats. I avoided painting for eight years, but I am now motivated to repaint my entire house.This tool makes the task both easy and (dare I admit) fun! Because I don’t have to contend with paint trays, dripping and splattering colors and climbing ladders, I finished the “dreaded chore” with a smile on my face. In many ways, this handy roller has UNlimited my painting potential!Image

Arthritic hands … mixing it up.

MX N TILTAbout 6 months ago I received this email from my friend Ellen. She knew that I was looking for ideas for my Unlimiters blog. It reads: I do have a suggestion …I have arthritis and find that when I cook or bake, holding a bowl in one hand while attempting to get the ingredients into a pan…as in brownies this afternoon, I have such difficulties scraping everything out.

I held on to it until she found an answer and now I can share it with you. She is thrilled with her 3 piece tilt ‘n mix bowls by Wilton. They are a lightweight plastic and the five little rubber feet stop the bowl from sliding around and they also allow the bowl to tip at different angles. This is perfect for Ellen.

Here is her technique. She puts her ingredients in the largest bowl and then tips it slightly, feeling confident that the bowl won’t slip. This makes it easier for her to stir with her arm instead of her wrist and that relieves the arthritis in her hands. She then puts her baking pan on the table in front of the bowl (that is held in place with the rubber feet) and leans in so that her body keeps the pan in place. It’s then an easy thing to simply tip the bowl further and scrape the contents into the pan.

So there you have it. A simple product but one that makes life easier for those with arthritic hands.

Managing Swelling

By far, the most frustrating aspect of being a pregnant amputee lies with prosthetic fit. Unlike sneakers, which can be adjusted or changed to allow more room, my prosthesis is fabricated out of rigid carbon fiber. By design, there is no give or flexibility.

Some mornings I feel like I am trying to stuff a sausage into a casing which is entirely too small.  The remaining limb tissue bubbles over the top of the socket, creating an odd muffin-top effect. Not only is this unsightly, it can be dangerous. The tissue becomes vulnerable to sores, pinch cuts and edemas. A sore on my residual limb immediately equates to foregoing the prosthesis until it heals, and this is not something that is easy to accommodate.

In order to increase the chances that I’ll be able to wear my prosthesis in the morning, I have taken steps at night to minimize swelling. I try to avoid consuming excess salt. I also thoroughly massage my limb each night to help promote circulation. My Homedics Massage Pillow definitely helps with this task!  I simply put my limb between the two massaging balls, press start and relax. Not only does it feel fantastic, but it is therapeutic as well!

In addition to massage, perhaps the most beneficial intervention is wrapping my limb with an ace bandage before sleeping each night. (I have a pile of shrinker socks from my Prosthetist, but I have found the ace wrap provides me with a snugger and more consistent compression.) The constant compression through the night definitely helps to keep the swelling in check, allowing me to don my leg in the morning.

Despite my efforts, there are still mornings where it is difficult to slide into my leg. When this happens, I reach for my “go to” solution: hand sanitizer. I squirt about a tablespoon into my socket, and another tablespoon onto my liner. After both surfaces are thoroughly lubricated, I can normally slip right into my leg. Because the sanitizer is alcohol based and evaporates, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up excess or damaging my socket or liner.

Swelling, a reality for everybody, is simply intensified by pregnancy and other health issues. Although I can be frustrating, it is not impossible to manage. With a few steps, and some ingenuity, I expect that I’ll be able to continue to wear my leg through the remainder of my pregnancy.

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