Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Power of Positivity - 10 Ways to Be Positive

Have you ever had a horrible, horrible day that just keeps on getting worse? On the flip side, have you ever had a great day where everything just falls into place? I am a firm believer that it happens like this because of your attitude towards things.

1. Smile! Say hi to people. Depending on your geographic location, people will either happily say hello back, or look at you like you are crazy. In most situations, you will never get cussed out or otherwise for smiling at someone. I love saying Hi to people. I say Hi to everyone! Even if they don't say hi back, it makes me feel good.

2. Compliment others (including yourself). This would be the opposite of talking crap about people. But it feels good, y'all! Tell the lady next to you in line at Subway that you love her necklace. Compliment a co-worker on her work ethic. Not only will people appreciate you, but it will make you feel good to make others feel good. Positivity is as contagious as the negativity is! This also goes for yourself. Beating yourself up isn't going to help your mood. Find something to love about yourself each day, and think about it!

3. Lose the Negative people in life, both in real life and on Facebook. Now y'all I'm not suggesting you kick your best friend to the curb. Afterall, friends are there to help each other, and we can't always be positive. But miserable people love company. We all know these people. Nancy is miserable in her relationship, so she is going to sabotage all of her friend's relationships. Susan is a drama queen, so she causes drama in her friend's lives. These people gots to go. Additionally, the negativity/drama on Facebook. People, this is so silly that we subject ourselves to 600 people's drama! Widdle that list down to the people who you truly care about and aren't drama queens. I promise you feel better if you aren't listening to so-and-so's cryptic messages about some asshole guy.

4. Worry less. This is a BIG one that I am really quite a hypocrite for suggesting, as I am the biggest worrier ever. However, I am working on it. Worrying about things really don't do much to help a situation. In fact, in many situations, it will hinder it. In most instances in life, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. So worrying about it will just make the experience worse. If I find myself really obsessing over something, which RARELY happens (sarcasm), I try to take a step back and realize how much easier my day would have been had I not been completely stressing over all these what ifs and scenarios.

5. Stop trying to please everyone. Another hypocritical statement of mine, as I am the ultimate people pleaser. However, guess what? You can't make EVERYONE happy! If you try to please everyone, someone will end up unpleased. Take care of NUMERO UNO (yourself) and your family. Everything else is just not as important. Sorry guys. I'm not saying to hang from the flag pole flipping everyone off, but just don't make your decisions with everyone else in mind. Because then you will be worried about their reactions or thoughts on things. And it won't always be positive.

6. Verbalize stressful situations, and move on. You can say, wow, I am very bothered by "XYZ," but I'm not going to lose it. Instead, I am going to acknowledge that this blows big time, then smile at strangers and stop worrying about it. (see how I just did that? ;) )

7. Unplug! How many times have you gotten irritated by an email, phone call, text, or facebook post? Simple solution. UNPLUG. You aren't ever (well almost ever) going to slam down a book or end a workout and think to yourself, I am feeling so negative from that experience. So, put your phone/computer/TV away and find something else to do.

8. Be a do-gooder. This could be giving a charitable donation to a friend's cause, or letting the person behind you in line at the grocery store (with one item to buy) go in front of you. Help a friend by watching her kid. Bring a small gift to a friend who just got engaged. When you do thoughtful things for the people around you, whether you know them or they are complete strangers, you are emanating positive feelings. This is good stuff.

9. Make time for yourself. A less-stressed version of you is much likely to not flip out on someone than a stress-ball version of you. So, take a bath, drink a glass (or bottle) of wine, write, work out, etc - whatever you have designated as an activity you can do for yourself. You will be a better friend, employee, mommy, wife, PERSON for it.

10. Be thankful.  Just because it's not November doesn't mean you can't be cognizant of what you have in life. Be humble, and acknowledge that you have it better than many people out there in life. Do some volunteering if you need a little perspective.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Technology Takeover - How it helps and hinders your home, your family, your children

I have been seeing a lot of social media memes or someecards lately talking about "kids these days" and all the technology that they are inundated with. (That statement just made me feel super old, for some reason.) Anyway, this is a real issue, people! Our kids are learning how to play with a tablet before they learn how to stack blocks. Some kiddos spend so much time in front of a screen of some sort that they don't know how to play and, more disturbingly so, don't want to. Being told to go play outside is viewed as some sort of punishment or an unwelcome interlude to whatever technology gadgets they have tempting them to be immobile inside the comfort of their own home. 

But, this technology thing.... it's complex. It's not just the kids that are inundated with technology, it's EVERYONE. I know this comes to no shock to you, as you read this from your computer, iPad, or iPhone. I have spent the better part of today looking at my phone or a computer screen. Y'all... this isn't good for us!!!! 

I am an 80's baby, so my generation and one's below me can proudly say that we played outside, used our imaginations, and were even sometimes (brace yourselves) BORED. We scoff at kids these days who just flat out don't get it. You tell Tommy he has to turn off the TV and go outside, and it almost resembles a punishment. We don't understand why children these days don't have childhoods more like ours were. 

Well, I have an eye opener for you (or maybe it's not) - OUR parents weren't looking on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram half the day. Maybe all of these kiddos who don't play like we played when we were little are taking a cue from us, as we sit in the other room on our iPhones or watching TV.

I know that I'm guilty of this. 

Am I the only one? I sure hope I'm not. 

I have hesitated on writing on this topic of technology for awhile. I'm extremely opinionated about the negative affects that technology has on the development of our children. I'm speaking on this subject from the point of view of a speech-language pathologist, not a mother. So, please understand me when I say-- I haven't been there, done that with Beulah yet. However, I foresee an issue, and I don't want to see Beulah go down the path of technology-dependence that I see so many other people, children and adults alike suffering from. 

I'm making it my mission to tackle my personal issues with technology before it becomes an issue with Beulah. What issues with technology do you have, Tara? You may ask. Well, where do I begin?

I check my phone first thing when I wake up, and last thing when I go to bed. 

I find myself obsessively checking my Facebook and Instagram, often before the news feed has even had time to get anything new on the feed.

Am I the only one? I sure HOPE I'm not. 

The few friends I have who aren't on social media have been left out of big events and announcements in my life at times, because I have forgotten to contact them personally to have an actual conversation. 

I overshare on Facebook. I post often. Pictures, feelings, whatever. I feel myself being annoying about it. And I do it anyway. 

I take video and pictures of my baby about a million times a day. That is a slight exaggeration, but it's alot. and while this isn't a bad thing, sometimes I feel like I'm not living in the moment as much as I'm worried about capturing the moment.... and sharing it. With 600+ of my closest friends. 

My hobbies of reading, crafting and writing come second to my favorite hobby of all. Surfing the internet for whatever. The internet (social media, blogs, websites, shopping, AMAZON) is my new favorite reading material. 

Sometimes I feel so bored with the internet, but I still feel drawn to it. 

Am I the only one???? I sure hope I'm not.

If given the choice, would I rather sit inside and watch HGTV home makeover shows, or go play outside. More times than not, my answer will be HGTV baby! or Food Network. Or the Travel channel. 

I know I'm not the only one. I see videos created documenting this, people talking about their issues with technology. 

I'm saying this: if we expect our kids to be active, imaginative and playful, we need to be the ones to teach them from example. Now, that being said, I also think that parents and children are not equal. We do not need to abide by all the rules and guidelines that we set forth for our children. Because after all, we are the adults, and we are the boss, and if we were equal, we could go play outside all day instead of going to a job all day or cooking, cleaning and making dinner. But we do need to set the example. We don't want to be complete hypocrites.

As I stated, this is a personal journey for me. I feel like technology is slowly taking over our home, our families, our children, our lives. And I just don't like it. So what do I do about it? Well, that's what I'm going to spend some time figuring out and writing about here and there in the weeks and months to come. 

I hope you will think about how technology plays a role in your life. Are you okay with it? If not, what are you willing to do to make a change?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Airport Travel: Diaper Bag Do's and Don't's

So, many of you know that in just two short days I will be traveling solo to Santa Fe, NM, from our home in Chicago. And with me, I am bringing my little bambina Beulah, all of her stuff, and a lot of prayers. Packing for this trip is like packing Madonna up for the zombie apocalypse. Beulah has A LOT OF STUFF.

We have done two big trips with her over the last almost 7 months. The first was a plane ride to Texas in October, when she was about 4 months old. I was with my husband. She promptly had blow-out diapers as soon as the plane took off both there and back. But, overall, it wasn't bad. We were headed to Texas (the best place EVER); we could have arrived covered head to toe in Beulah spit-up/poop/pee/whatever, and I wouldn't have cared!!!!! But I still packed a bunch of crap that I really didn't need for the plane ride. The second trip was a cross-country 15-ish hour drive from Chicago to Pennsylvania to see her big brother. Frequent stops for coffee and bottle water and a diaper rash later, I would have done a couple things different there as well.

The key is to pack enough of what you might need in the airport until you get to your destination, counting any disasters such as delayed/cancelled flights, getting stuck ON the airplane due to some unforeseen issue, etc. The list of crap that could go wrong at the airport is far to long for me to ponder right now, especially having a pending trip in a couple days. Editor's note: This list is made with a 6 month old in mind, so if you have a toddler, your list might be quite different. Check back with me in 18 months and I'll hook you up with a toddler list. ;)

So, back to the list of do's:

- DO pack a couple extra changes of clothing. I anticipate one accident per flight, so since I am connecting once, I am packing 3 extra outfits. When I say outfits, I mean footed zip up pajamas like these from Carter's, because they are ONE piece, don't take up much space and are easy to put on and take off. Also, if anything where to, um, blow out of anything, the chances it will get OUT of the outfit are reduced since it is, in fact, a one-piece. But... never say never. Don't you dare say never!!!!

- DO pack some piping hot water in a thermos and put it in your bag! The sekurrrrty people might open it up and wave something around it to make sure it's not bomb materials, but they should let you bring it through. If they don't, you can always dump it out with a sh!t-eating grin on your face, and head to the nearest Starbucks before you get to your gate and ask them to fill it up for you. This hot water can be used to either make a bottle of formula or warm a bottle of breast milk, whichever is the method in which you feed your little babe.

- DO pack a dirty clothes bag in your diaper bag. Because babies get ultra-dirty, especially when you don't want them to. The last couple of time, I have done a big ziplock bag, but I think this time I might just go big or go home and put a handful of plastic bags you get from the grocery store. You can easy stuff them into a pocket until they need to be used, and then you can stuff it with whatever nastiness has been created and then tie it off without taking up too much space.

- DO pack plenty of diapers and wipes. This is a given, y'all. I hope y'all already know this. I'm packing 15 diapers and a pack of wipes in my diaper bag, which might be overkill, but can you imagine what a disaster it would be if, by some horrible occurrence, YOU RAN OUT?!?! Same goes for formula.

- DO pack a couple of emergency items, such as Tylenol (if you are the medicine-giving type like myself) or gripe water (hey, I give that to her too), and a soothie. I wouldn't go all out here, but if your babe is screaming bloody murder because her ears hurt, or she somehow unbeknownst to you developed a fever or an illness, it might be nice to have an emergency supply. Just saying.

- DO be smart with how you store your baby's food. My friend Kara gave me this amazing formula dispenser by Sassy that allows you to pre-measure out the powder so you can just dump it in a bottle and you are good to go. I didn't even know things like this existed! Sure beats the hell out of trying to scoop formula out of a can while juggling a hungry baby and a bottle, all while sitting down in the smallest space ever. Wow, that sounds like so much fun!!!!

Now, some notable don'ts:

- DON'T mess with your baby's grub. For example, my baby prefers her powder formula mixed with very warm water. We made the rookie mistakes of getting some pre-mixed liquid formula of the exact same brand and type (Nutramigen, so this stuff was EXPENSIVE), and she hated it. She probably spit more of it out than she actually digested. So, still hungry AND covered in nasty smelling formula = not winning. At all.

- DON'T overdo it with the toys. Chances are, everything that you bring will be dropped on the floor of the airport and/or airplane multiple times. If your baby is anything like mine, they will have as much fun with an empty water bottle or chewing on your scarf, so keep it simple. I'm packing a rattle (the people around me will really love that!) and her teething keys. Both are small and relatively easy to clean once they inevitably get dropped on the ground.

- DON'T pack a big ass blanket for the airport/airplace. Not only will you want to wash it immediately upon getting to your destination, it will take up too much space. I opt for a thin receiving blanket like the ones made by Aden + Anais. They are thin, and don't take up too much space.

- DON'T waste one nanosecond with those travel bottle warmer pouches that you stick directly onto your baby's bottle. They.don' Period. Unless you are okay with luke warm liquid about 45 minutes later. Which I wasn't, and won't be.

One last thing: You can try to prepare for everything that may go wrong, but chances are everything will be just fine. Remember to be friendly and positive. Most people will either think your baby is cute and be nice to you, or pity you as they remember their days as a parent of a young baby and be nice to you. Some people are just assholes, and they will be assholes whether you have the perfectly-packed diaper bag or not.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beulah's Birth Story

Let me just start this by telling you that I started writing this blog post when Beulah was 6 weeks old... yea, she's almost 7 months now if that is any indication of the whirlwind that is new mommyhood. But it's been wonderful. Woohoo :)

Photo by Andrea Pascalau
Eighty7 Photography
the P-word
Where to begin? First, I'll share that I was NOT one of those women who loved being pregnant. Sure, I love the end result (the bebe) but I did not have a glow other than perspiration secondary to puking my brains out over the toilet 10 times a day. Lovely it was not. An additional thing I will share is that I NEVER thought I would be able to function properly again. A seemingly easy task, such as putting laundry in the dryer from the washer, or paying a bill online, was a daunting task that would take HOURS to complete. Even thinking about doing things would be enough to lay on the couch and watch HGTV for the rest of the afternoon. I'm not kidding. My husband probably wanted to murder me when he came home from work and I was still in PJs and nothing really done around the house. He was wonderful though and didn't say a word and cooked me a meal I would pick at before running to the bathroom. So, that was pregnancy. Oh, and I had high blood pressure (but not pre-e) and the last couple of weeks I ITCHED like I have never, ever itched before. Like I was rolling around in a fire ant bed. I still have scabs from the intense itching that resulted in my itching holes into my skin. Sick. But, like everyone said (and at the time I was like "yea, yea") I forgot about alllll that the second Miss Boo entered the world.

My doctor thankfully allowed for me to be induced due to aforementioned high blood pressure and the intense itching all over my body that made me want to rip my skin off. So, at 39 weeks, we were scheduled to be induced at 11 am on 6/25/13. This was wonderful for me, as I am extremely type A personality, and the induction allowed for me to plan. No water breaking in the middle of the night for me! I knew when I was going to get the ball rolling with this motherhood thing, and this made me very happy. It also allowed for my mom to come into town, a luxury we wouldn't have had otherwise since we live so far apart. Let's fast forward to 7pm because nothing really happened all day. I had an epidural and couldn't really feel anything but nothing was happening anyway. 4-5 cm dilated.

First picture of me and Boo
minutes after she was born
So, I'm not exactly sure on the timeline, but I started being able to feel contractions. I was not happy about this. I pressed the nurse call button and because there were several other people coming into labor and delivery that were in active labor like you see in the movies, my nurse ignored me for probably an hour or so, which really made me mad. There were tears. I have a lot of respect for women who choose to go through labor and delivery with NO medication, because let me tell you, those contractions were for the birds. I can't imagine how it would have felt without an epidural even though it was running out. So, when the nurse finally came in, low and behold, I was at 8 or 9 cm. The anesthesiologist came in to redo the epidural and let's just say he "hooked me up" and not in a good way. Y'all, I was SUPER out of it. For one reason or another, they over medicated me, then my heart rate went sky high, then I puked, then they gave me medicine to slow my heart rate down, then I felt tequila drunk and then the doctor came in, said there really wasn't any time for me to "get it together" and that Miss Beulah was ready for her debut.

I'll spare you the details, but let's just say I was so horrified that due to my state I wouldn't be able to deliver her, I really gave it my all and Beulah was born after about 30 minutes of active labor. Wam bam thank you ma'am! She came out with a full head of hair and screaming her little pretty lungs out! I was shaking from the pure adrenaline rush of what the heck just happened and happily chowed down the best turkey sandwich I had ever eaten as the nurses did their thing with the bebe.

Photo by Lori Sapio - 12hrs old
The rest of the hospital stay was pure bliss as me and Adam navigated our way through the beginning of parenthood with this little angel. She nursed like a champ (albeit with a bad latch, which I didn't figure out until a couple of days later), and started night 1 off with no false advertising. She showed us that she was going to be a dance party nocturnal Nancy from the start. My mom was there during the days, Sammy came to visit to meet his baby sis. A couple of wonderful friends I have made here in Illinois came to visit. We felt very loved as we received text messages, phone calls, cards and gifts from all of our family and friends (THANK YOU).

Photo by Lori Sapio
12 hrs old 

what's in a name? Our sweet little angel is named after Adam's great grandmother, the original Beulah Boyd, born Beulah Taylor, from East Texas. Everyone who knew her said she was the sweetest person they had ever met, a characteristic I hope that our little one has as well. "Never heard her say a bad thing about anyone." Although she was Adam's great grandmother, she lived until Adam was 20 or 21. He spent summers as a child mowing her grass and spending time in her garden. When I met Adam's brother Vance, and he mentioned Great Grandmother Boyd one night and said "it's a shame she never met you, she would have loved you" that's when I knew Vance approved of me as Adam's then-girlfriend. We have Great Grandmother Boyd's gravy boat that we use every Thanksgiving and her fudge recipe that is OFF. THE. CHAIN. - we make it as a Christmas tradition. Adam loved his great grandmother so much. When we found out we were pregnant, although Adam swore our baby would be a boy (he was wronnggggg), we decided on names for a boy and a girl. There really weren't many other names in discussion. I loved how old fashioned it was. I loved that it was a family name. I loved that it was unique. I loved that it represented someone who was such a wonderful person and who Adam loved so much and vice versa. I know that she is likely the only non-Grandma that has her name. And I LOVE that.

Fast Forward to 6 Months
I don't know much more than I knew when I wrote this blog initially. Other than once you think you have it figured out, you will learn REALLY QUICKLY that you don't. And what you think you will do, you might change your mind. I succumbed to the devil dust (formula for those of you unfamiliar with the terminology) and now she exclusively formula feeds, as well as three hearty meals a day of baby food. I thought I would make her baby food from home, but honestly y'all, she just really likes the stuff from the jars. And it's easier. She lovesssss her some fruit baby food, seriously. She still wakes up to party at least 1 time each night, but some nights it is only one time, and for that I am seriously thankful! The other nights it is 2-3 times, and I want to gouge my eyeballs out. :) We are dabbling in sleep training (modified CIO, don't hate) and the first week she did really great! But then I think she caught on to me and hasn't been as great with it this week. She's training me as much as I'm training her.

Photo by Lori Sapio - 6 months old 

Mashed Garlic Cauliflower Recipe

 Today, I made some mashed garlic cauliflower to go with our steak dinner. What goes awesome with steak? Obviously the all-American answer is potatoes, but what if you can't even look at a carb without blowing up (like me)? Or maybe you are looking for a more paleo-friendly option? Look no further!! I have made mashed cauliflower several times, and I *think* I might have finally perfected it. And to make it even better, this recipe is also dairy-free and gluten-free. 

For this recipe, you will need the following: 
- a head of cauliflower
- several cloves of garlic ( I used 4-5 cloves)
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk, also unsweetened)
- salt and pepper to taste
- food processor 
- steamer

1) Start by chopping up the head of cauliflower and rinsing.

Also, peel several cloves of garlic. I like garlic a lot, not to mention it is GOOD for you, so I peeled this many, but as you can see, three of them were little!

2) Shove it all (cauliflower and garlic) in a steamer. I put the stove top heat on high and let it steam for about 15 minutes, or until I could easily put a knife through the cauliflower and garlic.
3. Now it's time for the food processor. Believe me, this is a better process than using an electric beater. WAY less mess, I promise. I just have a little 4-cup food processor, which makes me sad, but such is life. I had to blend the cauliflower/garlic up in 2 batches. Worked fine.
4. When you are blending - this is when you add your milk. Today I used coconut milk, because that is what I had in my refrigerator. In hindsight, I would prefer to use unsweetened almond milk because the coconut was a little sweeter than I would like. So I had to add more salt and pepper to offset that. Add a 1/2 cup of coconut milk. 

5. I blended it all up in the food processor until it was smooth and added salt and pepper to taste. YUMMAY.

Of course, depending on your diet and preferences, you can use dairy milk in this recipe or add additional flavor by adding some butter. We didn't do either of those, and it still turned out great. Definitely fulfilled my mashed potato craving!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Workout Worksheet

This week, we started sleep training with our 6-month-old baby girl. Sleeping through the night has allowed both her and me to be on a more predictable schedule, which makes my Type-A-self flap with excitement. Before I get any hate mail (wait, I don't have that many readers), yes we are sleep training our daughter, and no I don't care your personal opinion on that. We do what works for our family. She is actually doing amazing at sleeping through the night and is the happiest little camper. (Now that I say that she is probably planning her first wakeup mid-baby dream).

Anywho, now that I am getting more than 3 hours of consecutive sleep, I feel like more than a shadow of my formal self. I am starting to think about getting back into a workout plan. But, let's be honest: even before I had a baby I wasn't great at working out. So, let's just get that straight. I cannot fall on the excuse that I have a baby, so it's hard for me to work out, because even when I was single and without children, I had a hard time (at times) getting into a work out routine. 

I am bound and determined to understand my personal psychology behind my approach to working out (or lackthereof). In doing so, I asked my Facebook friends what keeps them from working out. Their responses ranged from not having enough time, not having enough motivation, not having enough money, being prone to injury, or just being flat out lazy. 

I decided to be honest with myself about why I want to workout, why I haven't been working out, and what I feel like I need to happen to make my plan to workout successful. I like to write things out (duh), and it helps me organize my thoughts and devise a plan of attack. 

I'm sharing with you my "workout worksheet" if maybe you too need to write it out.

Personal Workout Psychology Worksheet

1. What are your fitness goals? I would like to tone and strengthen. I would like to concentrate on my waistline and arms. I would like to feel strong and energized. I would like to be a positive role model for my daughter.

2. What is keeping you from working out? Motivation, cold weather, busy schedule, mommy guilt.

3. What is motivating to you? Results, seeing progress in photographs, fitting better in clothes, having energy to be active with my family. 

4. How have you failed before? Overdoing it, not making the time, not having the time, over-scheduling my time, getting sucked into lazy activities (tv, naps), getting a personal trainer and not liking my "individualized plan"

5. How have you succeeded before? Being realistic with goals, not being "weight"-oriented, scheduling ahead of time working out, incorporating healthy food choices

6. What is your plan of attack? 
- Working out 3-4 times a week
- Stepping away from the scale
- Incorporating Paleo eating habits
- Busting out the schedule
- Rotating between workout videos and two different gyms, and classes if possible. 

7. Short term goal? One month of following the above plan of attack.

8. Long term goal? Confidence in a bathing suit this summer.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Better Homemade: Sweet Potato Chippies

Boyd Meets Girl presents Better Homemade, a mini-series of recipes/DIY instructions I will be sharing of things that are just that - better homemade than buying at the store. It might be better because it's healthier, cheaper, or easier. But it's just better, ok?!?!

Tonight, I'm sharing with you one of my favorite new recipes. My husband and I are going on this journey together of  eating better. We are eating food that is better for us and less processed. We found the inspirational recipe from one of my favorite paleo blogs, PaleOMG. Seriously, if you guys are in need of some SCRUMPTIOUS recipes that are paleo-friendly, this is an awesome resource for you. 

We used her recipe for Sweet Potato Chips, but made a couple of tweaks to make it our own. (When I say "we" what I really mean is my husband.)

Anyway, "we" grabbed the following ingredients:

- 2 sweet potatoes 
- 2 T coconut oil ** melted down
- sea salt and seasoned pepper to taste

** we use Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I included a link above, which is an affiliate link. Disclaimer: If you were to click this link and purchase the coconut oil, I would receive a small percentage of the profit to help fund my blogging. 

Preheat oven 200. Peel the sweet potato skin, and use a mandolin to slice it thinly. If you don't have a mandolin, you can just slice them very thin. Put the 2 T of coconut oil in a pan to melt it down (warning: it doesn't take much to make the coconut oil to melt! so I would use low heat). Add sea salt and seasoned pepper to taste and mix it all together. We used about a teaspoon of each. Put all the potato slices in a ziploc bag, and pour the coconut oil mixture (it melts at, like, 76 degrees or something so it won't be hot) into the ziploc bag. Shake up the bag to get the seasoned coconut oil on every potato slice. Put the slices on greased baking sheets, and bake for 3 hours. We wanted to make sure ours were pretty crispy, so the last 20 minutes we upped the oven temperature to 220. 

We love to enjoy our homemade sweet potato chippies with salsa, hummus, or guacamole. 

This is so easy, and the chips taste so much better than the over-processed stuff you get at the stores. You are sure to save a couple of dollars as well. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

10 Must-Have Items for 0-6 month old Babies - Under $20!

If you are looking for a list of general must-haves for your babe, then this list is not for you. I was very relieved to find out that both registries I used for Beulah (Target and Amazon) had a checklist for the general things, so I was fairly certain that I wouldn't forget anything major, like a crib. All joking aside, there are SO MANY baby things out there. An overwhelming amount, I would say (and all pregnant gals and new moms would probably agree with). 

This is a compilation of 10 lesser-known, must-have items for your 0-6 month old little cherub, and to make the list even better, all of these items are under $20. STEAL!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER: Use your noggin with all of these products. This is a list of recommended items, but please do read the instructions and use all of these items as they are intended by the manufacturer. 

1. Door Latch Cover. Have you ever finally gotten the babe to sleep for nap or for the night only for the click of the BLASTED door knob shutting to jolt them back awake? or if you are psychotic like me and like to check on your baby and just make sure everything is ok a million times during naps that last longer than 30 minutes, you want to have a quick (and quiet) in-and-out. You can buy these from Etsy sites if you are short on time (this is Boo's exact one The Original Cushy Closer Door Cushion from Baby Urbana or you can venture to do it yourself with DIY instructions like this one from Killer B Designs.

2. The NoseFrida. This is not for the amateur or those who become easily queasy. This is a professional-grade snot-sucking MIRACLE machine. My sweet baby has come to know what's in her future as soon as I start coming at her with the saline spray. Living in Chicago, Poor Boo. 

3. Splash Infant Bath Cushion. By Safety 1st. I wish I had learned about this product earlier! It's a cushion that you put in the bottom of the baby bath that soaks up the warm water to keep the sweet baby warm without them being immersed in the water, which we all know can be a scary drowning risk.
4. Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy. How many new parents out there have picked up a rattle, bottle, pacifier, or toy from the ground because your kid threw it off their launch pad of choice? How many new parents out there have picked up a rattle, bottle, pacifier, or toy from the ground because your kid threw it off their launch pad of choice 89 trillion times? in one day? This neat little contraption is like a bungee cord to save all of their things from hitting the floor. It's pretty priceless when you see their look of surprise when they catapult their sippy cup off the ledge of the high chair and all it does is swing in the air. Boo ya, kiddo! Mommy figured your little game out! 

5. Swaddleme by SummerInfant
This is what my friend Lori and I affectionately call the baby straightjacket. My little Houdini got out of the miracle blanket, and the halo did nothing for her. Now-- every baby is different, but if an unescapable swaddle is what you and your little angel needs, then this is the ticket for you. You wrap them up like a little baby burrito and velcro them in. They look so snug, like a little baby bullet, I almost wish they made them in adult sizes. I would dig sleeping all snugged up like that. 

6. Sock Ons. Socks are another thing that babies like to torture their parents with. They kick them off; one comes off in the car and you don't realize it until... never. You have a million single socks that don't have partners, so your baby wears mismatching socks. With the Sock Ons, it's this nifty thing I can only say resembles a sock bra. It is a bra for your baby's socks! Keeps those suckers on! 

7. Munchkin Fresh Food Feeders. This is perfect for when your little baby starts to put everything into their little mouth. You can put strawberries, grapes, bananas, etc in these mesh pouches and they can chew and get flavor without getting any actual food in their mouth. Regardless of your approach to solid foods (Baby-Led Weaning or pureed baby foods), this is an excellent way to introduce your babe to flavors. Also, if you put frozen fruits in there or frozen breast milk (if you are nursing), your baby can gnaw on the pouch and it will help them with teething, possibly. 

8. HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine. Any white noise machine will do, but I am highlighting this one for its portability and because it is well-priced and well-reviewed on Amazon. We use a noise machine in our daughter's room every night. We also take it with us when we travel, so even though our surroundings are different, the noise is the same and (in theory) comforting.

9. Gripe Water. Our little angel has hiccups almost daily. I think it's because she is so dang excited to eat that she sucks down a little air. Gripe Water takes it away instantly, and that is not an exaggeration. We also used this pretty religiously when she was younger (under 3 months) and what she was eating upset her little tummy. It has been referred to by many as a colic remedy. 

10. Boogie Wipes. Because boogies happen, and these smell delightful. You can get them in diaper-bag-friendly packs or big canisters for your home. I find myself using Boogie wipes on myself even. It really is an all-purpose wipe!

HONORABLE MENTIONS that are over $20

Kalencom Ozz Dainty Water Repellant Diaper Bag
This diaper bag is water repellant. (Read: You can easily wipe up pee or poo from this diaper bag. You can easily clean this diaper bag when you have had it sitting on the floor of McDonald's, the library, the pediatrician's office, the train station, the airport.) Mind. Blown.

Beco Gemini Baby Carrier

I remember exactly where I was when I realized (several months into babyhood) when my friend Kara and her husband Alex strapped a Beco carrier on me and helped me maneuver my baby into it. Before then, a carrier fit under the category of "Too much for me to process at this moment." I was in ultimate survival mode. I remember the distinct feeling of suddenly, after 2 months having BOTH handle available, and one of those hands was holding a frosty beverage. :) Also invaluable if you have more than one child!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 things about Babies/Parenting that are LEGIT

One thing that blew me away (and continues to blow me away) is the amount of unsolicited advice given to me starting the nanosecond I announced my pregnancy this time last year in January 2013. Now, I'm by no means an expert on parenting. In fact, I would venture to say that there have been more days in the last 6 months and 9 days where I am convinced that I know absolutely nothing about anything than there have been in my entire life. So, there's that. I'm not trying to be a know-it-all. 

Just wanted to share with you guys my little bambino of inspiration for this post, Beulah (whom we affectionately call Boo, Bizzou, Shmaroo, B, etc.) I love her so much, we are so lucky to be her parents.
Yes, she is making a silly face in this picture, and that is ok because she is silly just like her mama. 

Anyway, back to all the advice I got. Some of it made me roll my eyes, some of it made me grateful for not being the first of my friends to have a kid (because not all advice was unsolicited, ya heard!?!), some it made me want to rip someone's face off (woah, woahhhhh. i kid.) A majority of the advice I was told I heard, I understood, I concurred.... but I didn't get it. It didn't sink in. I didn't really process it. 

Five things I was told or heard about babies/parenting that is absolutely legit. 

1. SLEEP NOW WHILE YOU CAN. To all of those people whose babies started sleeping through the night at 4 weeks, stop reading right here. Because all of you people need to come to my house and spend the night and wake up with my precious little cherub as she wants to party all night. And I don't like you very much because I am insanely jealous. But in all seriousness, I haven't had a nap or slept in or slept more for 4 hours consecutively in about 6 months. Well I take that back, I have, but I can count those instances on one hand. So, sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeep. Because who knows when you will ever be able to sleep again. 

2. A BABY DOES NOT FIX A RELATIONSHIP. Now, I am very blessed and lucky that this advice was not ever said to me directly, but I have heard it from many people when talking in general. My relationship with my wonderful husband is wonderful. However, having had a baby and also thankfully having a great relationship with my husband, I cannot imagine how much difficult things would be if my marriage/relationship was on the way down the pooper. Things are stressed enough when you are sleep deprived, you've hand washed a trillion bottles that day, and you've had to rewash the clothes in the washing machine because you keep forgetting to throw them in the dryer. A baby would do the opposite of fixing any relationship on the rocks. 

3. ANIMALS WILL TAKE A HIT IN THE PECKING ORDER. BB (Before Boo), I posted pictures all over Instagram and Facebook of me and my animals snuggled up wherever we were in the house, and now sometimes I just need them to LEAVE ME (the fffff) ALONE! Now, I'm not one of those crappy people who stop loving their animals when they have babies. Those people are messed up. Or even worse, people who give their animals away because the burden of taking care of all these dependent things is too much. Those people are irresponsible, selfish and have a special place in the fire and flames for giving away their animals. But, they do go down a couple notches on the totem pole. They. just. do. You still love them, just as much as before, but there is someone else demanding (sometimes very loudly) your love and attention, and that someone is your new little baby. 

4. STAY AT HOME MOM = HARDEST JOB EVER. I sometimes wonder how the addition of such a small little person has SO multiplied the amount of laundry. Her clothes are so small. Why am I doing laundry every. single. day? I am not going to lie to you. I thought of my maternity leave - "sweet!!!!! I will have some time to get refreshed on life, rejuvenated, get back into a workout routine, and bond with my sweet baby. We will look at bright pictures in board books, I will wear her everywhere so I can continue doing everything I was doing before, and when she naps during the day, I will." PSHHHTTT. All of that, aside from the bonding part, is a damn lie. LIE, I tell you. I have worked out maybe 2 times (aside from taking her out for walks in the stroller) since she was born. You want to know why? Because if she is sleeping, I have laundry to do, reports to write (for work), dishes to put away, maybe I'll even take a shower. 

5. SLEEP WHEN SHE/HE SLEEPS. When I heard this, I thought that this piece of advice was a no-brainer. People who gave me this advice would always preface it with "I never did, but..." and that is exactly what I will say to you today. Because it all goes back to number 1 - Sleep while you can!!! In those early days, I absolutely should have taken advantage of her newbie desire to sleep all day. But I was too busy facebooking pictures of her, or just holding her and staring at her. Those things are wonderful and important too (maybe not the facebook part), but I should have definitely done more sleeping. Because now, her naps are 2 hours at BEST, and usually half that time. and I would love to sleep while she naps but truly there is just too much to do! Sometimes I do take this advice though, and it is pretty glorious. 

There are countless more pieces of advice that I could post about, but these seem to be the ones I hear ringing in my ears as I do my day-to-day stuff. And if you gave me advice, don't think that I was pissed the whole time you were sharing tips with me! Chances are, if you have access to this blog, I was grateful for your advice.