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:

-Family buy-in
-Knowing where to start
-Knowing what to trust

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.