Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting a breast pump through health insurance

The cat wants to know how it's done.
I've written before about the new healthcare changes in the United States and how they affect pregnant women. One exciting change is the ability of any woman with a current health insurance plan to obtain a free breast pump, with the cost covered by the insurance company. Here's my experience with that.

I live in Washington state and have insurance through LifeWise, bought on the healthcare exchange since I'm self-employed. If you're employed with health benefits or covered under a family member's employer-sponsored plan, you're likely already on one of the newer plans. If you're freelance, you probably know whether you're uninsured or on an older, grandfathered plan (which are not required to meet all the new benefits, including this one), or whether you've purchased one of the new subsidized (depending on income) healthcare plans through the government marketplace for your state. Among the new rules of healthcare reform are a requirement that new plans cover maternity and newborn care (no pre-existing condition exclusions) and that they cover lactation consultation and either the purchase of a retail breast pump or the rental of a hospital-grade breast pump. (If you have Medicaid or WIC or a state-sponsored low-income insurance plan, the Affordable Care Act might not apply to you, but you can still get a breast pump through WIC or possibly your state's Medicaid program.)

Here are a couple quotes from an online pamphlet from the government summarizing the benefits of healthcare reform for breastfeeding parents:

Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after you have your baby.

Your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump – and may offer to cover either a rental or a new one for you to keep.

Your plan may provide guidance on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, how long the coverage of a rented pump lasts, and when they’ll provide the pump (before or after you have the baby).

[ "Breastfeeding benefits"]

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blessings from many mothers

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Earl Grey put in an appearance.

My friends threw me a mother blessing recently, and it was an amazing experience. Thank you to all of you who attended, in person or virtually! It meant so much to me.

I am blessed.

I'm terrible at responding in real time when I'm feeling grateful and moved. Even when I think I'm gushing about a gift, for instance, people will wonder aloud if I really liked it. So I thought I'd write this little post about some of the things that touched me and pass the blessings I received on to you, if you're expecting a baby or will in the future or just need a lift in spirit.

The fabulous spread!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Babywearing big sibling

Alrik's been getting ready for his role as older brother
by taking care of his "baby box" (aka fox stuffie) —
we change his diapers, give him daily baths (with soap and gold doubloons
— don't ask me, Alrik's three and loves pirates),
and offer him lots of cuddles when he's crying.
Alrik even generously offers his own nummies for food.

Yesterday we found the doll mei tai I made for Mikko
(tutorial here — Olympic ice skating optional)
and Alrik carried baby box around quite happily,
only squishing him in a somersault a few times.
(I'll be sure to supervise once he gets near the real baby….)

I can already tell he'll be an amazing big brother.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Back to (un)school!

The first day of {not} back to school started out
more cheerful-looking than last year.
It was Mikko's first day of second grade
and Alrik's first of preschool.

Mikko chose the same excursion as last year: bowling!
(Apparently it's a tradition!)

Because nothing says "celebrate" like rented shoes.

I was at 34 weeks for the occasion, and it actually helped my game!
(Not that my game could get much worse.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Small changes abovestairs

Yesterday was the Carnival of Natural Parenting, and we all gave a little home tour. Only … my home tour turned into a loooong home tour (despite our small space — how is that possible?), so I'm posting the second half, the upstairs part, today.

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Turning upstairs now! This was one of the safety fixes we had to make to the place when we moved in: making these dowel openings smaller so a baby head couldn't squeeze through. We've considered covering the stair treads with one of those wood retrofitting kits, but maybe it's just gentler on our clumsy kids for now to have them be carpeted.

We're slowly making a gallery along the stairwell of vintage postcards, maps, and photographs. 1920s, ahoy!

Top of the stairs. That clock is cracked because it's such an antique. That's a joke. It's from Pier 1.

And, yes, we routinely drag home odd pieces of driftwood.

Turning the corner, you can see our linen closet. Yeah, we don't actually have one of those. This will do for towels.

I had this idea that the upstairs could be an amalgam of beach-cottage style with a more formal but still livable Swedish Gustavian-modern look. Hence my Pinterest boards: Hobo Cottage and Gustavian Modern, Hobo Style. We've been concentrating on the downstairs for now, so not much has been done, design-wise, upstairs yet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beach cottage in progress

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Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

Hello, and welcome to our beach house!

And by "beach house," I mean 1980s condo near the beach. While most people try to upgrade and modernize, we're trying to antique-ify. We love the look of 1920s beach bungalows but the upkeep and lower price tag of a 1980s condo, so we're trying to meld!

Our entryway, with redone tile floors. It took us so much effort to find someone who could do black & white tile the way we wanted. Apparently we're weird?

When entering, the downstairs half-bathroom is on your left, the galley kitchen on your right, and the living space straight ahead, past the stairs leading up to the second floor.

All told, we have 990-ish square feet of living space, and two bedrooms, with soon to be five occupants. Because we're smart about family planning that way.

Le kitchen de galley. (That's the French for galley kitchen.) (It totally is.) (Don't question it.)

If you're eagle-eyed, you'll spot the things we've done … and the things still undone.

There is so much still undone!

We've lived in this place for five years now (wow! time flies!), and it continually astonishes me how much time each renovation project takes, even now that we have some people we hire to help us with all the stuff we're too clumsy and helpless to manage.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oil cleansing method for acne-prone skin

Have you heard of the oil cleansing method, where you wash your face with … yup … oil? If you have acne or oily skin, you've probably shied away, assuming that adding oil wouldn't help at best and, at worst, would make you erupt into Mount Pimple.

But I have persistent adult acne, and I've been using oil cleansing for my face successfully for the past two years at least. It's a great way to get a deep clean that's safe, gentle, and natural, and it won't irritate or inflame your sensitive skin into breaking out.

There are simply some guidelines for choosing the right kinds of oils and procedures that will help your acne-prone skin without hurting it.

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How does oil cleansing work?

It seems counterintuitive — put oil on my skin to get the oil out? But that's exactly right! As you cleanse, the fresh oil enters your pores and mixes with and dissolves the oil that's already there. Then, when you rinse, nearly all the oil — the stuff you put in, and the stuff that was there to begin with (along with any dirt, leftover cosmetics, or other yuckies) — easily washes away. It leaves you with skin that retains its natural moisture but not any excess gunk.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Into the studio

We headed to the portrait studio for some
maternity-centric family photos.

Because the boys took awhile to warm up,
we actually ended up with only one of in-utero baby.

But we got some brotherly gems, so I'll take it!

Our family-of-almost-five shot!

It honestly took this teddy bear prop
to help them get happier.

Like so.

And even then, we still got plenty of
bizarre faces. Seriously, Alrik,
you're lying down —
you're not going to crash!

That's better.