Tuesday, November 15, 2016

15 Truths About Sleep Training

Little One is a terrible sleeper. Sleep training was a nightmare and she still isn't sleeping through the night at seven months. Sleep training can be a controversial topic, some parents don't believe in it and others are strongly believe in one method or another.

As a first time parent, learning about your baby's sleep needs, patterns and signs is tricky. Babies are not like adults or even older children. They don't sleep when they're tired and their needs are totally different. There's a lot of room for error and mistakes are almost unavoidable.

We've learned a lot, read a lot and have come to a better place than ever before. A few months ago, if you had been at our house during bedtime, you would have sat with us while Little One screamed her head off for what seemed like an eternity. This happened to us every night for about six weeks. We actually had to kick our sleep training into high gear and power through a lot difficult times to get her to sleep.

But now, at bedtime, it is a totally different story. We go through our routine - bath time, diaper, 10 minutes of nursing, burping and into bed. I talk to her about how she's going to get all snug and have a great night sleep. A kiss on the forehead followed by, "We love you, sleep well, we'll see you in the morning." And she is off to sleep.

I know she doesn't fall asleep right away but she generally doesn't make a single noise. She puts herself to sleep every night. It has made nighttime feedings and nap times better too. We've even noticed that she can wake up at night or during a nap and put herself back to sleep without us.

For those of us who are firm believers (or those of you who are curious), there are some definite truths that are universal.




1. It's necessary - It's important. It changed our lives and made Little One's relationship with sleep so much better.

2. It's heartbreaking - While it is super important, as a mom your heart totally breaks as you sit there with the monitor crying at you. You just want to scoop her up but you know you shouldn't.

3. Sleep training takes time - It doesn't happen overnight. And actually, it usually doesn't happen in the four days that the Ferber Method describes. It's a process, some times you have to start all over again and some times you're interrupted by teething or a growth spurt.

4. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution - We did a little bit of Ferber and a little bit of the Rapid Extinction method.  We needed both options. Mix and match, as long as it is working for your family.

5. Baby will still love you in the morning - When I read this some where, I really need to hear it. It is so true. Your baby won't stop loving you because they cry the night before. Little One was and still is so happy to see us every time she wakes up.

6. You can do it - I really didn't think I could do it but if I can, you can too.

7. Your routine can be a lifesaver - I described ours above and it was the same all throughout sleep training. Now when she's tired and we start the routine, she is so happy.

8. Consistency is key - If you sleep train one night and not the next, your making a battle into a war.

9. You will make mistakes - Hindsight is 20/20. There were a number of times when we said, "Crap, we probably shouldn't have gone in to comfort her." But try to remember them and learn from them. You'll be able to get back on track after any mistake.

10. Every baby is different - So important to remember while you're sleep training.

11. The internet can help but use it with caution and common sense.

12. It's an accomplishment - When your baby is finally sleeping well and going down without a fight, take a minute to think about what you've accomplished.

13. Because it is totally worth it.

14. Don't let the good sleepers get you down. I have several friends who have excellent little sleepers. Try not to compare yourself to them.

15. Wine, ice cream, coffee, chocolate, trashy TV. Whatever your comfort object is, make sure you rely on it during sleep training. Having that comfort while you wait out a crying baby really helps.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Ultimate Baby Led Weaning Checklist

As of tomorrow, we'll be a full into the baby led weaning adventure. We're still loving it and are totally committed to it. Little One is has started to really love food, pickles are still her favorite. We've really established our eating routine, are exploring new recipes and are having a lot of fun with the whole process.

I'm excited to share some recipes soon but first, I wanted to share our Ultimate Baby Led Weaning Checklist. These are things that we use and need every day throughout this process.

1. Bibs - And a lot of them. We love these ones that we got from our Amazon registry. They're simple, there are a ton of them and they're easy to wash.

2. Paper towels - There's a lot of mess and a lot of cleaning up, paper towels are essentials.

3. Dogs - Not an essential but they are an important part of our cleaning crew here.

4. Patience - I wish I had a link for you to buy this one but that would be too easy.

5. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook - We use this for everything from how we cut up and serve certain fruits and veggies to our meal planning. There are some great recipes and it also provides a lot of inspiration. Once you start to think and cook like this book, you can figure out how to turn any of your favorites into a baby friendly recipe.

6. Good leftover containers/Tupperware - We tend to chop or cook enough food for several days at a time for Little One. We just store everything and take out pieces or cut off strips at meal time. For instance, there's a container full of sticks of peppers and cucumbers in the fridge right now. Doing this makes it easier and therefore, more likely that we'll get a meal in.

7. Sense of humor - If you don't think that the faces and mess are hysterical during Baby Led Weaning, you're crazy. We crack up all the time.

8. Camera - Speaking of funny faces, baby led weaning provides a lot of memories. Make sure you have your camera or phone ready to capture everything.

9. Good high chair - This is super important. Actually, one of the most important parts of baby led weaning. Ours is the Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 Ridgedale High Chair, it works really well. 


Bonus tip: Make sure all of the parts are easily washable. I'm not joking about the mess.

10. The internet - In addition to that cookbook, I use Pinterest and Google pretty consistently for Baby Led Weaning planning, tips and ideas. See my Baby Led Weaning Board here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Product Review: Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo



Obsessed is probably an understatement here. Before I get into the product, you should know a few things about Little One. When I was pregnant, I used to say "She kicks all the time." And I would always get the same response, "This is just your first, you're not used to it."

Cut to a few months later, she kicked all the time when she was a newborn. We'd spend hours laying on our bed with her just kicking and kicking until she was tired. During our first pediatrician appointment, five days after she was born, the doctor said "oh, she's very active."

Then one day several weeks ago, we noticed that when we held her she would just jump up and down on our laps. When she was in her Rock 'N Play, she would just bounce and bounce. We both thought the doorway bouncers weren't sold any more plus we didn't have a good door way for it. So, we took to Amazon and found the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo - $59.99 and 2-day shipping with Prime.

From about two minutes after we put her in this chair, she was in love. Just look at her face in that picture. She will bounce for longer than she'll do any one other thing.

The variety of toys is a huge help because when she gets bored facing one way, we turn her and it's like a whole new toy for her. The lights and music are probably her favorite out of any toy so far.

My favorite things about the Jumparoo are:

-Variety of toys
-Her ability to face different directions
-Safety features - covers on the springs, sturdy seat
-Colors - She loves colors and the ones on this toy are great
-Different modes and volumes
-Size - It fits perfectly in our office
-Easy to set up

This toy also grows with Little One with different height settings so she'll be able to use it for a while.

A few things that I don't love is that there isn't much variety with the music, which is more difficult for us to handle than her. And it can be difficult to get her into it. Neither of these are dealer breakers, not at all.

As a family with two work at home parents, the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo has been a lifesaver because she loves to jump in it while mom and dad are working right next to her.

If you have an active little one and are looking for another independent play set up, this is the perfect toy. And I would encourage you to dance and bounce with them. She really goes crazy when I start moving with her.

Friday, November 4, 2016

21 Truths About Exclusively Breastfeeding

The choice to breastfeed, pump,use formula or some combination is a very personal and important decision for every family. I knew from the beginning that we would try to do exclusive breastfeeding and I was lucky to have it work wonderfully. I have plenty of friends who chose or had to do formula and others that did a combination.

When you decide to breastfeed you get tons of information and can look up even more online. Thinking back of the last seven months of exclusively nursing, I had some truths I wanted to share.

And those moms who have or are exclusively nursing will recognize a lot of these.




1. It's hard - There's no way around it, even for those of us who are lucky enough to have it go smoothly.

2. It can be lonely - There's a lot of time spent in quiet rooms with just you and your baby. A lot of those moments are precious but some are very lonely.

3. It's empowering - Think about it, you're growing a human.

4. Breastfed babies burp - Don't let them tell you otherwise.

5. Breastfed baby poop smells - I'm not sure where the rumor started that it doesn't.

6. You decide what to wear based on access to your boobs.

7. Boob fixes everything - If Little One is really freaking out, a little bit of nursing will always calm her down.

8. Nursing scarves are your friends.

9. You can't eat enough. There's never enough food in our house to keep up with all calories that baby takes from you. I call her a tiny calorie vampire.

10. It's not for everyone and that's ok. Happy, healthy mom and baby are all that matters.

11. There's a lot of luck involved. My girl had an easy time latching and we were very compatible, I was lucky.

12. Distracted eating is real and its so frustrating! What? Squirrel? Noise? Dad? Light? Nothing?

13. Water. You have to drink so much water. I thought that would end when my pregnancy ended. 

14. There can be a ton of pressure. Did you feed her enough? Is that why she won't sleep? 

15. And you always have questions. What foods do I eat/avoid? Are they getting enough milk? How can I tell when she's done?

16. But the internet might not be the best way to find answers.  There are some crazy people and some not so expert "experts" out there. Read carefully and use your head.

17. But don't worry, ALMOST everything is "normal".  Of course, not everything so use common sense.

18. It can be boring. Make sure you have entertainment, especially during growth spurts and cluster feeding times. How many times can one person watch The Office? A lot.

19. Don't give up. Even when you're tired  exhausted and baby won't focus or is screaming. Just take it one feeding at a time.

20. Staying awake during night feedings and during the early feedings is a struggle. I've developed quite the nighttime Zillow habit.

21. It's a blessing and they grow too fast. When you're nursing, you can't help but notice how fast baby springs up because you're holding them in the same position over and over again.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Little One's 6 Month Doctor's Appointment

It's hard to believe that Little One is 6 months old already, actually she's almost 7 months at this point. And for those of you who have watched your's grow up, you know that doctor's appointments can be stressful.

Little One was always...well, little. But the good news is she's continuing to grow really well. She's now in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th percentile for height. Her head is not little at all, it's actually close to the 90th percentile.

When the doctor says "she looks perfect, everything is great", it is such a big relief. We love our doctor and she's very down to earth, honest and level-headed. As first time parents, hearing that we're doing everything right makes our day.

I also love that she's very clear about our goals for her before the next appointment. This gives us something to look forward to and work on with our girl.

Poor Little One did have to get four shots at this one appointment but it's nothing that nursing and cuddling couldn't fix.

All-in-all it went well, Little One was pretty brave and everything looks great.

My advice for any one heading to one of your child's regular, first year appointment, is:

1. Make a list of your non-urgent questions.

2. Pay attention to the doctor.

3. Ask your doctor for goals for the next appointment.

4. Don't stress out about the shots.

5. Try to both go, if you can.

6. Try to remember and enjoy the moments, they go too fast, just like everything else.

Our 3rd Anniversary


Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary. I always see all these anniversary posts about how so much has changed in the years since marriage. And while we've had more than our fair share of change, what amazes me is the things that don't change.

We're still teammates, partners and best friends. We still make each other laugh and stand right by each other's side through everything. We're still actively interested in what the other has to say and are happy to just be together. And we still support each other, take interest in the other's hobbies and learn from each other.

I think the only way you can enjoy all the change is if you have a foundation of things that don't change. At the core, our relationship is still the same. So we can move any where in the world, have more children and tackle anything else that comes our way. Because we have that steady foundation.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Favorite Recipe: Mongolian Beef - PF Chang's Copycat Recipe


PINTEREST WIN ALERT!

We've been focusing on more and more home cooking recently and we're trying hard to move past just protein with veggies on the side. My husband really wants to cook more actual recipes. Our deal is I find the recipes and he'll make them.

I found this one on, you guessed it, Pinterest. And we didn't have a Pinterest Fail, this recipe actually worked out really well.

We live no where near a PF Chang's and Chinese food around here leaves a little bit to be desired but we both love most Asian flavors. This recipe was a great for satisfying that craving.

Oh and for my Gluten Free friends, this recipe qualifies!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

225g (1/2 lb) stir fry beef (I used thin cut eye of round)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
coconut oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 large clove garlic, crushed
60mls (1/4 cup) gluten free soy sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)
3 green salad onions, sliced at an angle

Steps
1. Cut your beef into thin strips and in a bowl (or ziplock bag) stir it together with the cornstarch until it is well coated.
2. Finely chop the garlic and grate your ginger, then prepare your salad onions by cutting them at an angle. Set a small handful of the onions aside to garnish the dish later.
3. In a bowl mix together the soy sauce, sugar and water.
4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok on a medium heat.
5. When it's hot add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a couple of seconds then immediately add in soy sauce mix, then the beef.
6. Give it a quick stir around and then add in the onions (minus some for garnish)
7. Stir continuously for 5-10 minutes until the beef is cooked and the sauce has thickened. If you find it is too thick then add in a little more water and stir well until it thins out a bit.
8. Serve immediately over rice, garnish with salad onions and sesame seeds if desired.


And here's the original source.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's Coming Up: November Preview


November is a historically busy month for us and this November won't be any different. Here's a little preview of some of the posts I'm excited about for November.

-Our anniversary

-Little One's six month appointment - We'll find out how she's growing and get more shots.

-More Baby Led Weaning - The adventures and tips continue.

-Preparedness checklists - More practical checklist to help your family get prepared.

-The 10 Apps that We Use Every Day

-Thanksgiving

What else would you like to see in November? And how is your month shaping up?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Baby Led Weaning: Week 2


We've just finished week two of baby led weaning. It's still working great for our whole family and I'm excited to see how things progress. As you can see, we've had a lot of variety over the last week (and some pretty adorable pictures!).

Here's what we tried this week:

Peppers - These were a great addition. Any color bell pepper can be cut into the perfect shapes for Little One's hands and they were firm enough to stay together but soft enough for her to "chew" on.

Ground beef - Despite her face in the upper right corner there, this was also a hit. This one is a little bit harder for her to eat. We cooked it without any seasoning in a little patty shape. The thing is, ground beef crumbles easily but she liked to suck on it and we needed to start adding iron to her diet.

Bananas - We haven't quite figured this out yet. Her favorite method seems to be getting some on her bib and sucking on her bib. Every time she picks up a banana, no matter how we cut it, she just squishes it her hands. More experiments with this are coming soon.

Carrots - We didn't quite get the right shape here but she seemed to like the taste and texture.

More pickles - We thought maybe the first time was a fluke so we gave her more pickles at football this Sunday. She went nuts again. She absolutely loves them still. It's so funny because I just started liking pickles this year. That's exactly why we're going with Baby Led Weaning, so she likes almost everything.

We've learned even more lessons this week. Here's a quick run down of some of what we learned during our BLW adventures.

1. Shapes are the most important thing. If she can't grab it in her tiny hands and still get to the food, it won't work. Baby will get mad and frustrated, which is the opposite of what you want during BLW.

2. Food can upset her stomach, which can upset her sleep. We have decided we kind of just need to deal with this one, she's getting enough sleep and the uncomfortable tummy doesn't last long. It seems like she's just getting used to her body digesting something other than breast milk.

3. Patience. We always jump to taking her out of the chair if she loses interest for a second. We're learning to be more patience and let her take her time when exploring new foods.

4. Did I mention in my last post to never try BLW with a tired or hungry baby? Maybe I just need to take my own advice more but this is a key factor for success.

Have you tried Baby Led Weaning? If so, what was your baby's favorite?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Southern Jiffy Corn Pudding

Last week I shared our favorite chili recipe and in our house, you can't have chili without cornbread. Here's our favorite cornbread recipe, it's easy and delicious.



INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 (8 1/2 ounce) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans creamed corn
1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained

DIRECTIONS
Melt butter in a casserole dish.
Mix in egg and then all remaining ingredients.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

We do add a little bit of sugar to ours too, just a couple of teaspoons.

Here’s the original recipe link.

5 Halloween Tips from a Fellow Halloween Hater



Call me grumpy or lame but I've never been a fan of Halloween. When I was little, I was a witch almost every year because I didn't care to put time into another idea. Last year, we didn't even get candy.

But things are different now. With the arrival of Little One, I knew that eventually have to get on board with Halloween. I can't ruin her's just because I never liked it. I figured I mine as well start this year.

Here are my tips for surviving Halloween from a Halloween hater.

1. Don't spend a lot - If you already dislike a holiday, spending a ton of money on it won't help. Halloween can be expensive between costumes and candy. Find ways to make costumes out of things you already have at home and get creative.

2. Be yourself - I don't mean for Halloween, unless that's what you want to do. But stay true to who you are and don't apologize. You don't HAVE to like Halloween or even dress up.

3. Try to get in the spirit - Think about it, for Christmas we get trees and watch movies. Try to do the same for Halloween or any holiday that's not your thing. Getting into the spirit might just do the trick.

4. Create traditions - Again, we have Christmas traditions. Make some for Halloween, like going to the pumpkin patch or carving your pumpkin.

5. Fake it til you make it - My husband has a theory that if you try a food you hate enough times, you'll like it. I think it can be the same way for holidays and other things you don't like. So, participate in Halloween and fake it until you like it.

I'll be taking my own advice as best I can in hopes that I'll like Halloween by the time Little One can remember it so she can have great memories.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Our Weekend To-Do List

We have a busy weekend ahead, part fun and part work. I thought I'd share our weekend to do list, mostly keep us accountable.

- Write thank you notes - This HAS to get done. I'm so far behind on our thank you card for all the gifts we got before and after Little One was born! Side note: Which cards should I use?


- Meal planning - This is a pretty standard weekend to-do. Hoping to try something new from my Pinterest board.

- Grocery shopping - Where there's meal planning, there's grocery shopping. For a small town, we have a lot of grocery stores and they're all pretty great. Plus it's another chance to wear baby girl.

- Harvest Festival - There's a harvest festival for families this weekend. We're excited for families, food trucks and adult beverages. It will be cool but not raining for the first time in forever and we all have flannels ready to go. Look for a post and pictures from this soon!

- Tummy Time - Little One is anxious to crawl so there's lots of tummy time and mat time in our house to help her get there.

- Clean - More specifically, organize the junk and paperwork in our house and get it all put away. And then dust.

- Trim the dogs nails - Our big dog has the longest nails. We've been looking for solutions for his nails and just got a new tool to try out. We'll be trying to cut his nails to more comfortable place this weekend.


- Blogging - And of course, blogging is on my list.

What's on your weekend list?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Does Having a Baby End Your Social Life? Tips for Maintaining a Social Life as a New Parent


When you hear where we live, you might not think there's much to do here. But we've found it's quite the opposite. We really enjoy our small town and have found tons of things that we love to do.

Did that all come to an end when we had Little One?

Absolutely not. It might take a little bit more planning, forethought and flexibility but you can have a social life even with a baby. We bring her along every where.

Here are my tips for how to maintain a social life with baby.

1. Be open - Be open to doing different things and trying out new stuff. You might think, there's no way that will be fun if we have a baby with us but give it a try. And try new social activities, like going for walks, going to parks, etc. When I was on maternity leave and before the weather turned here, we took walks almost everyday. It was a great way to get out, be social and include Little One.

2. Plan ahead - Double check your diaper bag, make sure you have a plan for baby's food and bring toys to keep them entertained. A little bit of planning ahead makes any outing easier.

3. Meet other families - No one is more understanding of a fussy, crying or loud kid in a restaurant than another family. Share your outings with other families and it will make a big difference.

4. Remain calm - Your baby will ruin their clothes, poop in the car seat and throw their toys on the ground. We've learned to laugh it off.

5. Earlier & shorter - We try to do everything earlier than we used to and our outings are a bit shorter.

6. Baby wearing - Get yourself a good carrier and wear your baby whenever they'll let you. Little One loves it (if she's fed and not too hot) and it's when I can have the most adult conversations and I have my hands free.

7. Other people - If you live in a smaller town like us, people are very friendly. We are asked questions about Little One all the time. It's just part of the deal and we've met such nice people who were just curious about her. Grandparents are usually the most curious.

How did you maintain your social life with your children?



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Favorite Recipes: Award Winning Chili

We've had a few rainy, cold weeks here in North Idaho. We don't mind this type of weather and it probably bodes well for a snowy winter. Around this time of year we always turn to hearty meals and chili is one of our favorites.

We've tried a few chili recipes but they were never quite right until we found this one.

We used ground beef but we plan to try a few other proteins in there this winter. It's an easy recipe that comes out great with plenty of leftovers.


INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground venison or 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb ground turkey
2 onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tablespoon jalapeno, finely chopped
1 (14 ounce) cans Mexican-style tomatoes ( like Rotel)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika ( smoked if you can find it)
1 (14 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water

TOPPINGS
sour cream
cheddar cheese
green onion

DIRECTIONS
Cook ground meat with onions and peppers in dutch oven.
Drain excess grease and add tomatoes, seasonings, and water, bring to a boil.
Add beans, cover and simmer 1-2 hours.

Serve with toppings.

Of course, we didn't have chili by itself. There's another recipe coming soon to accompany this chili!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baby Led Weaning: Week 1

Little one turned 6 months old last Tuesday. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. We've happily stayed exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and now we're introducing Baby Led Weaning.

Baby Led Weaning, like exclusively breastfeeding, isn't for everyone. I knew it was right for our family because my husband and I cook mostly non-processed foods, try to eat a big variety and both work from home. This means we can let LO eat almost everything we're eating and we have the luxury of time.

LO has had a lot of adventures in eating so far this week, here's a recap.

-Apples - Big hit and a snack she can enjoy with mom.

-Pineapple - Messy but also a pretty big hit.

-Sweet potatoes - She's seems like she could take or leave these but the shape and texture are great.

-Chicken - Loved it the first time. We kept it simple with a little bit of cumin, sauteed in a pan.

-Pickles - This one was a shock and the biggest mess. During our normal Sunday football outing, I offered her the pickle from my plate. She LOVED it and kept going back for more. Her and I ended up covered in pickle juice but it was worth it.


Things to expect with Baby Led Weaning:

1. Most people, especially grandparents, won't get it.

2. Don't try solids when they are sleepy or really hungry, it won't work.

3. Diapers change quickly, that's been quite the adventure.

4. Adjusting how and when you eat meals to include a baby who goes to sleep at 6:30 pm is a process.

5. Meal planning is important.

My husband is a fantastic cook and is open to eating just about anything. He's helped me get past most of my pickiness and we're both committed to raising the least picky kids we can. When someone mentioned Baby Led Weaning, we were both excited.

Stay tuned for more Baby Led Weaning adventures with the little one!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Are Preppers Crazy?

There are so many show, movies and even news stories about "survivalists" or "preppers" today. They're always shown as crazy, unshaven, dirty people hidden away in their bunkers. It begs the question, are preppers crazy?

My answer: yes and no.

I say yes mostly because we're all just a little bit crazy. Right?

But for the most part, no. When I started working at an emergency preparedness company, I was foreign to this concept. I had the same impression that the movies, shows and newscasts give off. But then when I really sat down to think about it, it makes total sense.

In fact, one of my favorite conversations to have a over the last few years is explaining why preparedness makes so much sense.

Let's look at it logically.

There's going to be a storm, a power outage, a gas shortage, an emergency of some kind in your life. You don't need to think on the big scale in order to believe in preparedness. You just need to stop and think in realistic terms.

When you break it down in those terms, does having a plan for food, water and electricity really sound crazy?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

10 Most Practical Preparedness Items

We're big believers in being practical when it comes to preparedness. It's easy to lose sight of the basics  when you see the latest and greatest technology. But practical preparedness is all about:

-Being prepared for an emergency or disaster that can and probably will actually happen.
-Preparing in a way that makes sense for your family
-A preparedness plan that's actually achievable

With those things in mind, here's our list of the most practical preparedness items.

1. Food
2. Water filtration
3. Generator
4. Heat source
5. Fire starter
6. Protection
7. First aid
8. Vinegar
9. Way to cook
10. Gasoline

We'll break each one down in future posts but if you focus on these items, you'll be able to get your family through minor and major emergencies.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Getting Started: Making Room

One issue with getting prepared is always having enough room. Supplies can take up a lot of space and that's not something we usually have in spades.

Here are some helpful hints on making room.

1. Use space wisely - Is there extra room under your bed? What about in your closet? Start to look for pockets in your home where there might be extra space, you'll be surprised where you find some room.

2. Think before you buy - Some food and water options are more space friendly than others. Whenever you're buying supplies, consider how you'll store them before you buy.

3. Get organized - You might find that once your house is nicely organized, space will open up. I can't say we've followed this one perfectly but every time we get one more room organized, we find more space for storage.

4. Don't over buy - Think through what you'll really need. Don't over buy on things because everything takes space.

5. Start with essentials - Start with the things you know you'll need. That way you can prioritize what you're storing instead of trying to make space for unnecessary things and running out of room for the essentials.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9 Ingredients to Always Have in Your Kitchen

Running out of a kitchen essential always causes a problem, it can ruin dinner, waste time and even waste food. Here's our essential list for ingredients in the kitchen. If we have all of these on hand, we know we can make a meal out of any protein and/or veggies.

Most of them are also useful outside of the kitchen. For instance, we use white vinegar in a lot of our cleaning. Olive oil and honey both have their own medicinal purposes.

The best part of these staples is that they tend to have a long shelf life. That's my 3 part checklist for a staple:

-Used multiple recipes
-Long shelf-life
-Uses outside of the kitchen

This is our list:

1. Vinegar

2. Honey

3. Olive Oil

4. Salt

5. Pepper

6. Flavorless oil - Safflower is our favorite

7. Onion powder

8. Garlic or garlic powder

9. Rice

What's on yours?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Favorite Recipes: Lemon Rosemary Beets

I'll be the first to admit, I used to think beets were gross. But they are always in supply at the local farmer's markets and they are a great veggie during pregnancy so my husband was determine to figure them out.


Then one day at the office two co-workers showed up with beets, some herbs and a crockpot. I was timid but gave them a try at the end of the day and loved them.


Here's our favorite recipe for beets, from My Recipes.


We love this one because it's easy, always has leftovers and is of course, very healthy.


Ingredients
2 pounds beets (about 6), peeled and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind


Preparation
1. Place first 8 ingredients in a 4-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until beets are tender. Remove and discard rosemary sprigs; stir in lemon rind.

Here's the link.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Leaving Baby for the First Time

I recently had a new experience, I left my baby girl for the very first time. Very early on in my pregnancy I was asked to be a good friend's wedding in Virginia. Given our location and the location of the wedding, there was no easy way to get there and back. This left me with two long days of traveling and 4 nights away from my 4.5 month old.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that I am exclusively breastfeeding.

This made for a nervous time for myself and my husband in the days leading up to and during the trip.

While I will do everything I can to avoid doing it again, I did learn a few important things from my first time away from our little family.

1. Count on your partner - I chose the word partner there very carefully. If you're in this with a true partner, you should be able to count on them. I wasn't really nervous about how little one and my husband would do alone but it was so great to see that I didn't have any reason to worry.

2. Plan - Planning ahead makes everything a little bit easier. We carefully planned how much milk we needed and every other detail of what would happen while I was gone.

3. Take advantage - If you're away from your family for the first time, take advantage of it. Do something of the things that you used to do before you were "mommy". It will help you come back refreshed and happy to be back.

4. Sleep - I missed it.

It wasn't a easy trip at all. Being at a wedding alone is lonely and I was surrounded by babies closer to my little one's age. But I tried to see the bright side and in the end, it made me hold baby girl a little bit closer and have a deeper appreciation for my teammate. All in all, it could have been a lot worse.

Monday, August 29, 2016

September Preview

I wanted to do a little preview of what we'll be talking about in September. Hope you'll join us!

The fall is always an interesting time and this fall won't be any different. With an high-stakes election, weather and a number of other events happening around the world there will be no shortage of things to discuss  next month.

Here's just a little preview:

-Leaving baby for the first time - I'll be leaving my baby girl for overnight for the first time soon, I'm terrified. See how it goes!

-More dinners - There are more recipes coming up for easy dinners.

-Grandparents - We have some important visitors coming in September, I'll talk more about grandparents during their visits!

-Preparedness - We'll talk about water filtration, look at more ways to get started and even at some ways to enjoy yourself during an emergency.

-Apps - Does your family run on certain apps? Our's definitely does, find out what they are!

That's just a little preview of what's coming in September.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting Started: Identitfying Your Limitations

Getting back into a rhythm here and back to the Sunday Series - Getting Started.

We'll focus on tips for starting to get prepared for any emergency. Remember, they'll be actionable and practical.

For today, let's discuss identifying your limitations when it comes to preparedness.

Some of common limitations are:

-Space
-Budget
-Family buy-in
-Knowing where to start
-Knowing what to trust
-Time

Understanding what you're limitations are will help you build a plan. For instance, if space is a problem look for things that are space-saving. There are companies that make emergency food that can be easy to store. If space is a consideration, also think about how long you need to be prepared for so that you are not storing more than you might need.

If budget is your main limitation then start to make a plan. You can build to suite your budget by outlining what you need and setting aside money to check things off your list. You don't need to get everything at once. Another suggestion is to embrace DIY. You can make things like emergency kits for the car on your own.

Whatever your limitation is, find a way to plan for it or use methods that help you work around it. Just because its a hurdle doesn't mean it has to cancel your preparedness plan.

What are some ways you're overcoming your limitations to preparedness?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Newborn Lessons: Letting Go of the Little Things

This lesson is a tough one. Admittedly, I can be a little uptight and the little things can bother me. Like, why is there ALWAYS stuff on our kitchen table?

Or why is there ALWAYS a cabinet door open somewhere?

There's little, even no, room for this type of mindset when you have a baby. Her newborn clothes have been pulled out of the draw and sitting on top of the dresser for a month now. Every so often it drives me crazy but then I realize there are 100 more important things going on.

You have to let go of the little things.

You need to let go of them in order to enjoy the time with your family. Every phase is fleeting and if you're worried about the little stuff that's out of place or the little annoyances, you'll miss out on enjoying every moment. Talk about fear of missing out, these are times you can only experience once.

If you want to get as much as sleep as possible - you need to let go of the little things. You could keep yourself up all night worrying about if that scratch on her face is OK, or fuming over some silly comment your spouse made. But when sleep is already a delicacy, why make it worse by worrying about the little things?

To stay grounded and not overwhelmed, you have to let go of the little things. The big things are overwhelming - am I raising a happy child? Is she well-balanced? Will she be smart? Is she allergic to something and I don't know it? These questions and the other monumental things you worry about as a parent are more than enough. If you worry about the little things too, it's just too much. So, who cares if that onesie makes her look like a boy? Or the blanket doesn't match what she's wearing?

Clothes are going to get ruined, car seats will need to be cleaned, she'll have a fit in a restaurant and she'll pee on your yoga pants. Oh and there will be terrible nights with little sleep. You just need to accept that these are things you can't change. Some of them are even kind of funny.

Take this Monday for instance. We got home, I walked in after my husband and he took her out of the car seat and yelled "We have a problem." Let's just say, it was everywhere. This is the kind of thing that could have set either of us off in a second. But we laughed our way through clean up. It wasn't worth getting stressed over and we certainly didn't want baby girl to get upset over it.

You can choose to be miserable, let everything get you down and constantly be frustrated if you want. But mistakes are going to happen, messes will be made and you can't really do anything to stop it. So, let go of it. Let go of the little things and you'll breath easier, sleep better and be able to enjoy every minute with your family.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Product Review: Halo Sleep Sack

Our daughter has learned to self-sooth AND roll-over the last few weeks. This means we had to make some quick changes to our nighttime gear to make sure she's safe and comfortable.

We received a lot of advice about what we should use after the Nuroo (which we loved). We actually bought multiple products trying to figure out what would work best. And then we thought, "why try to swaddle her when she wants to self-sooth?"

Our next step needed to have the option to swaddle but also give us the freedom to let her suck her thumb/hand if it would help her sleep.

Enter: Halo Sleep Sack.

This was our perfect solution. It has the option to swaddle her completely or swaddle her with her arms out. She loves it and is napping in it right now.

She gets great rest and we hear her wake up all the time, start sucking her thumb or hand and sooth herself back to sleep.

Here are some of my favorite features:

-Easy zipper up

-Easy to wrap - just two flaps crossed over each other and you're done!

-Room to grow and move

-Multiple use options - arms in or out

-Fully washable

My only concern with it is that she might get hot because we do have the microfleece one but it hasn't been a problem yet.

I always say, you know we're sold on a product when we say we need to order more, 2 more of these just arrived on Friday.

Check out how happy she is in her Halo Sleep Sack!


 While I'm happy to review products for PR, this is an un-sponsored review.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Newborn Lessons: The Realistic Checklist

There are a million checklists out there about what you need for you to have when your first child arrives. Here's my realistic checklist based on what we actually used in the first weeks.


This list might seem smaller this but it's everything that got us through the first weeks, including doctor's appointments, family visits, etc. 

Keep in mind, this is just baby's list. You need thing about the things you'll need, I'll post that list later.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Everyday Emergencies - 6 Ways to Be Prepared for Power Outages

According to one source, over 14 million Americans are affected by power outages every year. This makes it one of the mostly likely emergencies to happen in your life.

You might not think this is a big deal but if you read our story you know that a power outage can last more than just a few minutes or hours.

Here's 6 ways to be prepared for power outages:





What else is in your power outage kit?



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Current Events - Status of the European Union

I'm sure if you never heard the word Brexit again, you'd be positively giddy. Here's a little refresher if you've happily forgotten about it. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of out of sight, out of mind on this issue.

As a college student, I naive thought I wanted to be in political communications. I saw myself like Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman from West Wing. That's a bit hilarious now but I did do one smart thing then. I studied abroad, in Denmark. More specifically, I took a number of my political science courses abroad, focusing on the European Union.

Denmark always has and will likely always have an interesting relationship with the European Union. It is a member with some very important exceptions like currency, security and defense, police and justice and citizenship. This gave me a unique perspective on the European Union so when Brexit came up, I could see pretty clearly the potential global impact.

Even if you're not into politics, there are some reasons you need to pay attention to the current status of the European Union.

1. Allies - We can't forget that some of our biggest allies around the world are part of the European Union. If these allies lose their strength and standing in the world, we could up a creek.

2. Markets - The EU markets affect our markets. To put this in more concrete terms, thing about your retirement money, your investments, the value of your home and even your interest rates. All of these things could be affected by a dramatic and permanent shift in their markets.

3. Immigration - The immigration policies and the citizens stances on them are varied across Europe. For instance, Denmark has a very strict policy while it's neighbor Sweden has a very lax policy. As the rate of refugees and immigration continues to pick up around the world, these differences lead to a whole host of potential issues and not just for the EU.

Those three issues are more than enough for me to sit up and pay attention to what's going on in the European Union and it's fragile state. There are a number of elections across Europe this year and next. Many of them could change the country, the EU and even our lives.

Are you concerned about the current status of the European Union?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

5 Family Activities to Do With Kids at Any Age



Time together as a family is something almost everyone craves more of and as we all get busier it's even harder to come by. Here are 5 easy things to do as a family to boost your time together.

1. Farmer's markets - You probably dread grocery shopping and the bill that comes with it. But chances are your city or town has a farmer's market, or at least a neighboring area does. These can be great family activities, there are usually activities for kids and plenty of other families in attendance. Also, you're likely to save some money on your grocery bill by shopping at a farmer's market and you'll find tons of healthy options.

2. Hiking, biking & walking - Get outside, go on a hike, ride a bike or take a walk. We walk at least a few times a week. It lets all of us get outside, is a way to get out any of our stress and even helps us sleep better. Take a camera or your phone with you on these adventures to capture some awesome moments.

3. Cooking - We spend a lot of time together while meals are being made. Admittedly, I lucked out and my husband is an awesome cook but that means the little one and I are usually around the kitchen. It's another perfect TV free time for us to be together.

4. Errands - This mundane, exhausting task can be made better but bringing along the people you love. If you have the luxury, don't rush through your errands. Make them little outings for the whole family, that are relaxed and productive. It turns something you dread into welcomed family time.

5. Pick your own - We have awesome access here to things like apple orchards, blueberries farms, pumpkin patches, etc. You probably have access to some similar things in your area, you just need to do some Googling! These activities can provide some excellent family time and adorable pictures for memories.

This is just a small list of the alternative family time activities that we're already enjoying. I'm looking forward to when the little one is old enough for things like the playground, fair and swimming.

What are some of your favorite family time activities?

Newborn Lessons: Shifting Priorities

Our life has been in a bit of transition recently (hence the limited posts) but everything has worked out for the best and we're getting a bit of a fresh start. With a fresh start, it's the right time to talk about priorities. 

Six months ago life was pretty simple. We were focused on making and saving money, maintaining our house, selling our house in North Carolina and our dogs.  It seemed like a lot at the time but now we see how simple everything was at that time. In fact, I struggled to even build list that was that long.

When you have a baby priorities shift and it's not a bad thing.

Our priorities are now very concrete. The little one comes first, in a drop-everything-you're-doing-and-pay-attention-to-her-type of way. 

Then taking care of ourselves comes after that because how can we take care of her if we're not 100%. This means a numbers of things, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, sleeping as much as we can, etc. But even more importantly, it means getting rid of those things that cause us stress and unhappiness. We know that our little one will face plenty of challenges, stress and hardships throughout life. But we don't want to pass on our stresses.

This has forced us to make some tough decisions. Things like missing out on things, letting certain relationships go, changing career focuses and many others.

Instead of lamenting the simpler times that are behind us, I like to think about how lucky we are right now.

We have an amazing, healthy and beautiful 4 month old who is usually very happy. We have each other and can enjoy the time we have together. We have the opportunity to have flexible work schedules and still provide more than enough for our family.

And we do all of this in amazing location.

Lastly, we're doing it all with the love and support of each other, our families and our friends.

While it was a simpler time back then, I am more grateful today than I ever have been. Grateful to the ability to set these priorities for my family.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Preparedness Scenario: Hurricane

Believe it or not, we're in hurricane season. I live in the Northwest now but I grew up on the East Coast. I spent most of my life in the heart of hurricane country.

If you're raising your family on the East Coast, hurricanes should definitely be on your reasons to prepare radar.

Hurricanes can bring:

-Power outages
-Flooding
-Lack of access to food & water
-Damage to your home

You can prepare for each of these possible effects with this hurricane preparedness list:

-Alternative power source - Generator and way to start a fire.
-Food - A food supply you can count on when you can't get to the grocery store or it's not open.
-Water - An easy and effective way to filter water in case of contamination
-Cooking method - Again a way to start fire, alternative stove or other way to cook.
-Radio - A radio for regular updates when power and communications are down.
-Safe or protection for valuables - A safe or other water proof way to protect your valuable items and documents.
-Place away from home - A place you plan to go if your home is damaged and you are unable to stay there or your family is evacuated from the area.
-Full gas tank
-Flashlights
-Batteries
-First aid kit

Hurricanes of all sizes can cause emergencies but you can easily get ahead of the game before peak season by making sure you have everything on the above list covered.





Do you have a hurricane preparedness story?