Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top Five Ways to Boost Your Online Security

In the age of technology, EVERYTHING is online. Here are some tips to protect your (and your family's) information online!

1) De-personalize your passwords. You guys... I'm the absolute worst about this. I can safely share this with everyone because I have gone through and changed my passwords to everything, but the dumbest things to include in your passwords are pet names, special dates (your birthday, anniversary, kid's birthdate), any part of your social security number, and your kiddos' names. Do yourself a favor and make up the craziest NOT-LIKE-YOU passwords you can think of. Outrageous even! xbiggestBritneySpearsfan1481x; imyellintimber817OK; totesmagotesSprintPCS224. Crazy, stupid stuff that doesn't even make sense is what your password should be. Not something super predictable like your favorite dog's name and your birth year. C'mon y'all. 

2) {Warning: this is the pot calling the kettle black.} Stop over-sharing on social media. Sam from SingleHop shares with us this: "With vulnerabilities in today’s technology, folks should be wary of what they’re spewing out into cyberspace. Some websites and web administrators host their own IT infrastructure, meaning they have rooms filled with servers, hard drives containing hundreds of terabytes of data, and lots of networking power– With social media, there are a number of sites using cloud computing technologies so they don’t have to manage all of this internally. When you upload a photo to Facebook, you’re basically handing it over to the IT gods at another cloud computing company and telling them to do with it what they wish. To sum it up, they’re outsourcing their infrastructure, whether it is ground level hardware, programming based or software. For the users of social media sites, this means you’re putting the integrity of your data/media into the hands of a company like SingleHop. We provide that Internet hard drive, or cloud if you will, and with very detailed and sophisticated security measures. Companies come to us if they want to purchase cloud hosting. Regardless, photos, short snippets of text, videos, music, etc… quickly becomes shared property once you send it out via social media. You should understand whom you’re handing that information over to, and how it’s being protected. Even the most secure of websites, like Google, have succumbed to highly intelligent viruses like the recent Heartbleed bug. 
Make your page(s) and profiles private all you want; as long as you’re still uploading data to the Internet into the cloud, you’re susceptible to hackers and breaches, and therefore a loss of ownership of whatever it is that you’re placing on the web. (Note that most social media sites nowadays have full rights/permissions to reuse and repurpose media uploaded to their servers from users like us)." 

We go to all of this trouble making our Facebook pages "private" etc. (which is helpful for keeping your ex-boyfriend's mom off of your page) but if it's on the internet, it's there. But additionally, the harmless "can't wait for our Hawaii trip!!!" is letting everyone know your home will be empty, and you will be out of town for however many days... your "I miss my husband; hate when he works nights" posts lets everyone know you are home by yourself. And for goodness sake, DON'T make your home a "check-in" on Facebook!!!! Unless you are running a business from your home, Facebook does not need to know where "my crib"/"MeAgAn'Z hOuZe"/"Harrison's Household" is. You just let everyone know your street address. I could even go on to say, don't "check-in" to where you are. Not only are you letting everyone know where you are, but more importantly, where you aren't (at home). 

3) Change your Location Services setting on your smart phone, so your location isn't being recorded on photos. When we take pictures on our phones (which 99% of us do these days; I haven't seen a free-standing camera outside of a photo shoot since like 2008), if we have certain settings on our phone, the picture will record exactly where we were and when it was when the photo was taken. OK, BIG BROTHER! Here is how to change your location services settings to protect your photos if you use an iPhone. 

4) Change your passwords every 6 months. I realize that this is a huge pain in the butt, but... changing your password after a random email has been sent out, or worse, after $250 has been taken out of your Paypal account is an even bigger pain in the butt, so --- change your passwords every 6 months, religiously. Time this with your dental cleaning! 

5) Choose non-personal security questions on your online accounts. Sam from SingleHop shares this,  "Most security questions that you answer on financial websites indicate some personal information about you. Do not give out this information online in any shape or form. As a matter of fact, you should be sure that the answers to your security questions are not linked to your personal life at all. There are people who are very proficient in fishing out the answers to your questions and using it to break into your account." This goes along with your passwords. They should not be personal. I know that security questions are often pre-selected, like "What is your mother's maiden name?" but it doesn't mean you HAVE to be truthful in your response. Mark the answer as "Rufus McGee," and call it a day. Because believe me, if someone is trying (as in, making a conscious effort) to hack into your Bank of America account, they can do some online research and find out what your (or your mom's) maiden name is.

Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Chores to Outsource to Free Up Your Family Time

It's taken me almost a year to realize that even though I really want to, I can't do it all. I can't be a mom, wife, speech therapist, chef, maid, model, fitness guru, master crafter, blogger and friend all at once. Before I had Beulah, a friend commented on Facebook with this little piece of advice: She said, "Don't try to do it all, or you'll drive yourself crazy." In my haste, I thought "sure I can! I can do it all. I will do it all!"

What transpired after that was much like the stages of grief when it came to my new work load as a working mom happily married to my husband, only not quite as dramatic. First was denial. "I can totally do all of this. I'll just never sleep." Second was anger. "WHY is there so much laundry? and WHY isn't there more time in the day? UGH! Life is so unfair." (First world problem, I know.) Next came sadness. "I am a horrible wife and mother because I can't get all my ducks in a row and get things done perfectly." And lastly, acceptance. "I can't do all this on my own, so what do I do about it?"

Here's the real deal, guys. I'm extra lucky in several ways, but specifically for tonight's post, I'm lucky because my sweet, sweet husband does a lot to help out around the house. Almost every night he cooks dinner (I know!!!), and I'm pretty sure that dirty floors bother him more than they do me. So, that helps things A LOT. But.... I still feel like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with our energy and time by the time everything that has to be done gets done.

So, I decided it was time to outsource. I'm a crazy lady when it comes to trying to save money. Truth be told, I would totally cancel our cable and sell almost everything in our house in a garage sale to save some cash. But I decided to do a little intangible math and decide.... how much is my family time worth?

Now, I am a working mother, and I work what ends up being full-time when you include the paperwork, etc. I do at home once I'm done seeing my speech therapy clients. So I know how much I "make" per hour. And, then you add to that the intangible value of family time being enjoyed by all... and I decided on a dollar amount that my free time was "worth."

I looked at what chores I was sharing my family time with and decided to look into outsourcing them. I held off on doing this for so long because I didn't want to let go of the responsibilities. Additionally, it was hard for me to justify spending additional money on these things. But, honestly it has been the best money I have ever spent.

"Chores" I share my family time with:
1) Cleaning the house
2) Laundry
3) Grocery shopping
4) Cooking
5) Yard work

6) Working out  :(

Obviously not everything on this list can be outsourced, or else I would have outsourced working out a LONG time ago. But other things? Yes.

So, onto finding solutions for these chores that are sucking up all my precious free time with my family!

1) Cleaning the house. This was a hard one for me to justify, but when I looked at how much time I was spending weekly keeping up with the house during the hours after work... it just made sense to find someone that would come weekly. I have used commercial maid services before like Molly Maids, but for weekly service I decided to go with an individual. I was able to talk to her about the things I specifically needed to be done besides the standard vacuum, mop, dust, etc. and it has been awesome knowing that even despite a busy work week, the house will be taken care of. Most enjoyable check I write each week by far.

2) Next time sucker is Laundry. Y'all... I despise this beast. I wish I could say that I outsource this chore currently, but alas I do not. I have, however, outsourced this chore in the past, so I do have experiences to share. Between college and getting married, I lived at a condo for about a year that did not have a washer/dryer hook up. Living in a college town, there were a plethora of laundry services. Weekly, I would drop off my hamper of clothes and pick them up the next day washed, folded and wrapped in a bag plastic bag. Another check I happily wrote.

3) Grocery shopping. I actually really like grocery shopping when I have the time to walk the aisles and impulse shop. I like grocery shopping even more if it is at Whole Foods or Central Market and there are samples everywhere! But anyway, it is definitely something that takes up a lot of time, even though we do enjoy it if my husband and I can go together. I learned about Peapod when I kept seeing the Peapod truck dropping groceries off at my neighbor's house. I researched it, and I really liked what I saw. The most you will spend on the actual delivery of your groceries is $10, with a minimum of $60 grocery purchase. You can also shop sale items, and Peapod will double coupons up to .99 cents. So, not only can you end up saving some time, but you can also save some money. What I like about Peapod is that the closest grocery store doesn't have all of the organic brands that I like, and Peapod does have them, and they will be dropped off at my door. Win/win. Additionally on the grocery shopping --- we do Subscribe and Save for things we need monthly, such as diapers, wipes, paper towels, cat litter, and dog and cat food. It has worked out really well for us, AND I am hoarding all the big boxes they send our stuff in for when we move to our next assignment. Again, win/win.

4) Cooking. So, I say almost every week that I am going to cook meals on Sunday and also do crock pot meal, and yadda yadda yadda. They are all lies. LIES! As I mentioned before, my husband does a lot of the cooking in our house. Aside from a couple of recipes, he's just better at it to be honest with you, AND he enjoys doing it. It's his way to unwind when he gets home. But it occurred to me, even if my sweet husband cooks, if he gets home at 6, thaws meat, gets it seasoned, starts up the grill, grills the food, we eat, and then clean the kitchen, somehow it is already 10pm and time to go to bed. We are fairly health conscious (or try to be at least during the week), so a lot of frozen meals or even picking up dinner from a restaurant isn't always the best choice for us. Kashi makes delicious family entrees that is all natural, non-GMO yumminess. I just had the mushroom and spinach pizza tonight for dinner, and it was delicious. Another delicious and good-for-you frozen entree brand is Amy's Kitchen. I am 150% obsessed with her cheese enchiladas; if I wasn't more so obsessed with Mi Cocina, Amy's Kitchen would make my favorite cheese enchilada hands down. I guess what I'm trying to say is: take a look at the grocery store at the frozen food aisle, and if you can find some things that work for your family, it can save you a lot of time in the evenings. Additionally, there are places popping up everywhere like "My Fit Foods" where you can order amazingly healthy entrees and pick them up from the store. A lot of these meals can be frozen so you don't have to make daily or even weekly visits if you don't want to. 

5) Last but not least is yard work. Besides the mowing, a service that was absolutely priceless last year when I was pregnant and after ANY long winter in Illinois is a poop scooper service. Yes, that's right. I will happily pay someone to go rake up my dog's #2s. When I was pregnant, it was obvious why I couldn't scoop the poop. I couldn't even eat Chipotle without puking, how am I supposed to get through shoveling.... you get the picture. Not going to happen, easily anyway. It is also a service that comes in handy after a winter of 80 inches of snow like we had this last winter here in Chicago, because guess what y'all? I wasn't going to go out in the snow and find Max's #2s in the freezing weather. It was just not a pretty site once things melted. Ugh. Sick, gross and disgusting. Another chore I will happily hand over for the right price.

I realize in writing this post that I am still having a little bit of guilt outsourcing these tasks. However, I do feel like I am able to enjoy my free time with my family more without worrying about these things getting done or trying to multitask while I spend time with my family. Financially these might not be in the plan for you guys, but I decided that it was worth me working a couple extra hours a week to allow me to outsource far more hours worth of chores.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Breaking up with Facebook

Yes, I'm saying it out loud. I have a little problem with my Facebook usage. Specifically with my Facebook consumption, but also with my Facebook production. It's become such a big mess I kind of don't know where to start.

First, let me say that I have always been "social" on the computer. I used to have a Xanga (DON'T look it up...) where I used to blog about my super fun life before I had real responsibilities. I used to sit on AIM and update my profile, fill out questionnaires and put little links in my profile that recorded who clicked on it. I had a myspace and religiously updated my profile picture, background music and layout to perfectly match my mood that week. So, it is clear that I have always had this online presence. In fact, I can say without a doubt that I have social media to thank indirectly for my sweet husband, but that is another story (and no, we did not meet "online," but I did meet his cousin and one of my bffes online via mutual friends).

Second, let me say this.. when someone DOESN'T have a Facebook, in the past I have immediately wondered why. "what?!??! no facebook?!?!? ugh, I bet you that they have a stalker account anyway." No, maybe they don't. Maybe they have enough going on in their real life that they just don't care to be a part of the online social brouhaha going on every second of every day. I am so intrigued by these people. What is their secret!?!?!? (I'm seriously only halfway kidding)

So, why is Facebook different? Well, for a couple of reasons. 1) We now have smart phones. Which means that we can easily access Facebook whenever and wherever we want. 2) EVERYONE is on Facebook. If you don't have a Facebook, you are, in fact, the minority. Businesses are on Facebook. And Facebook is searchable. There might be more reasons Facebook is different, but my brain already hurts trying to figure out all I am wanting to say on this subject.

Here are the problems I have with Facebook:

1) All the crazy news stories. If I wanted to watch the horrific and terrifying and depressing news, I would turn on the TV and do so.
2) All the bandwagons people jump on. I hate Chik-fil-a, I hate Miley Cyrus, I hate Republicans, I love Duck Dynasty, etc etc etc. I hate republicans. I hate democrats. I could go on and on and on.
3) Does anyone else miss the one-on-one, face-to-face, direct communication? Actual phone calls? Actual dates? Purposeful interaction vs. "you posted something and we are friends so I am seeing it." Facebook has reduced the occurrence of these things in my life, at least.
4) It SUCKS your time away. "Hmm, I have 5 minutes before I have to leave the house" turns into "oh crap I'm going to be 15 minutes late now because I have been scrolling through my news feed."
5) It promotes laziness. Yes, yes it does. That might sound dramatic, but it does.
6) Does anyone else feel overloaded by the sheer amount of information (some useful, mostly useless) about other people's lives constantly throughout the day? I know that this sounds rude and bitchy, but I know more about the day-to-day happenings of some people I barely know than I do my own parents. That is just not ok! and it is my fault for depending on Facebook for a large part of my social interaction.
7) I literally start and end my day reading about what about 1000 of my Facebook friends are doing. So basically my life largely involves passively reading about what other people are doing, thinking, saying, eating, whatever.
8) If I didn't have my Facebook crutch, I imagine myself reading more books, writing more blogs, and spending more time enjoying my husband and children. I do those things already, but I could do them MORE.
9) I do not want my children to be technology-dependent, so I need to start setting a better example by not taking my phone with me everywhere I go and posting to Facebook 80 times a day.

I could really go on and on.

What I'm going to do about it:
1) I already said I was breaking up with Facebook, and dammit I meant it! I don't like what I see happening. I'm not going to completely not go on there anymore, but I really feel the need to cut things down drastically.
2) No more waking up first thing and checking my stupid Facebook. It's unhealthy really! Whatever happened to listening to the radio or to music and getting ready. Watching the TV and drinking coffee and making breakfast for my family? I wake up by laying in bed and scrolling through last night's and this morning's breaking Facebook news.
3) No more going to bed checking it either! How about I snuggle with my husband or read the new Jojo Moier book???
4) Maybe I'll just take the app off my phone all together. Then I won't be able to check it constantly.
5) I'm going to pick up some habits that I used to enjoy and make those my go-to activities. These include jogging, crafts, reading and snuggling with my husband.
6) No more phones at the dinner table or on dates! Unless snapping pictures. :)
7) I'm seriously considering getting an old school land line phone so I don't feel the need to have my phone on me at all times.
8) I'm really limiting the posts that I post. I do have a TON of family and friends who I never get to see anymore, so it's hard to do away with these completely, but I will limit my posts to not even daily. I have an email address and a phone number. Hell I even have a guest room if anyone wants to come visit me. I need to stop oversharing.
9) Yes, I am going to still post pictures on Instagram. No I am not replacing one social media outlet for another. On IG you can't post words, only pictures. and the news feed is different. I'm not going to start going crazy on IG though, either.

So, anyways - this is me, breaking up with Facebook. We can still be friends, but it isn't going to be as serious as it has been before. I feel like this has been a long time coming.

Monday, June 9, 2014

First Birthday Party Checklist

How the heck did this happen? You are barely (read: not even close) to your pre-baby weight, you still aren't sleeping through the night, you STILL have no idea what you are even doing, and all the sudden you look down and realize you have an almost one-year-old on your hands (or more accurately, pulling on your pant leg).

This means two things. 1) Your kid is old enough to where your post-baby tummy flab *could* be misinterpreted as another baby-on-the-way, so best get to steppin' to the gym! and 2) Time to wipe away the tears and plan a fun party! Hooray!

Everyone likes a good list, right? I know I do, which is why I'm writing a blog post about the First Birthday Party Checklist. There are so many little things you need to do for things to run smoothly and to have the best party ever! And hey, this could be your first birthday party to throw for a little baby, so a checklist is definitely helpful. Anywho, I digress.

1) Decide on a theme. This really warrants a blog post of it's own because there are about 8 trillion party themes going on out there. I, for example, chose "watermelons" as Boo's 1st birthday theme (she's a summer baby).

2) Create your guest list. You are either one of those people who invite the world to parties, or one who prefers smaller get-togethers. We fall in the later category only because we live across the country from all of our friends and families!

3) Decide on a venue. This can be your home, a park (if you are one of those brave souls who won't freak out if it rains and you have to do a plan B), a restaurant, you get the picture. It largely depends on your budget and how many people you are inviting.

4) Decide on a date and time. The timing is important. You want to think of a time of day where your little cherub is least likely to be a little monster, but also a good time to have people over who also have young children. We chose a Saturday at 3pm. This is, on average, right after Boo's second nap and before dinner and all that, so finger's crossed that she will be on her best little birthday girl behavior.

5) Send out invitations. This requires also making and/or buying and/or downloading an invitation. I personally used to make my own invitation and printed those bad boys off on my printer (ideal if you are creative and don't have a ton of invitations to print out). There are also the fill-in-the-blank invitations you can get at Target, and the newest thing these days is to download a customizable pre-made invitation from a web site like Etsy.

6) Research bakeries and order your cake. Be sure to get a smash cake for your little cherub and a cake for the party-goers to enjoy.

7) Depending on your theme, you might want to plan some theme-related food and drink items. As I already mentioned, we are doing watermelons, so we will of course have watermelon slices on a stick, but we are also going to have a fun watermelon drink for the parents, along with run-of-the-mill BBQ. Another example is if you are going with a vintage pink theme, you might want to get some pink food items, i.e. pink jelly beans, pink cotton candy, etc.

8) Plan your decorations. You might want to get a little door wreath, get balloons, and set up a couple of tables (for food and/or a little display of birthday girl/boy pictures, etc). You can be crafty and look up projects on Pinterest, or you can spend a little more cash and go through online stores like Etsy. For last minute items, you can definitely go to Party City or a similar store.

9) Decide on gift bags. To gift bag, or not to gift bag? That is the question!!! I have found personally that the likelihood that the gift bag will actually make it home and be used is if the gift bag is a cutely packaged theme-related food item. I plan making sugar cookies that look like watermelons and putting them in cute little baggies with a tag that says "Hope you had a "Sweet" Time " or something of the like.

10) A couple of other things that you may choose to do: Hire a photographer, take 1 year photos prior to the event to display, set up the baby's high chair for the smash cake, hire a cleaning service to clean your house prior and post event, order thank you cards that match your invitations.

- For heaven's sake, please do not register for things your baby wants. This is not a shower. Not only is it presumptuous, it is rude. If a family member or friend doesn't know what to get your little angel for their birthday, have that conversation one-on-one. While you may have the best intentions, it is tacky.

- Don't forget to send thank you cards! It's never too early to start showing your little one proper etiquette and how to be polite. In a couple of years, she/he can help you write them! And no, I'm totally not kidding.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Contagious Periods for Common Childhood Diseases

Most of the time, my blog posts are inspired by real life... my life to be exact, which is why you will find a bunch of stuff on here about being a mom, having a family and being a speech therapist. That pretty much covers all the bases when it comes to me lately. So, with that in mind, I'm going to be sharing with you guys some information and a rant about something that has been nagging me for several months.

Now, I'm pretty riled up about this right now, so YES I'm striking while the iron is hot, so-to-speak, but I'm getting to the point in life/mommyhood where I really could give two sh--s about whether you like me or not if it's about my kid. I'm sorry if things come out brash or rude. Most of the time, I am a very likable/reasonable person. But, y'all, I got my mama bear claws out, and I'm ready to roll.

Here is the topic. Childhood diseases. Yes. Diseases. Sure, I could say illnesses or ailments, but I feel like "diseases" is more dramatic and gives you a more intense mental image.

Yes. I know that kids get sick all the time. I completely get that - believe me. I'm writing this post from the perspective of a mother but also as a healthcare provider who runs her own business. I work with kids day in and day out, and I have two little germ-collectors myself.

I know that babies specifically put every damn thing they can get their hands on in their mouth. Block? Mouth. Bib? Mouth. Hand that was just in another kid's mouth? Mouth. Daddy's flip flops? Mouth (a very enthusiastic mouth). Shoe laces? Another very enthusiastic mouth.

I also know that there are times that parents do not know that their little cherub is carrying a lovely virus (that is shedding and spreading by the minute to all the other little kiddos) because the kiddo isn't showing symptoms yet.

Let me also share that I am not referring to the common cold and/or the common cough. Because let's be real - all of our kids have a runny nose at least 1/2 the year.

I'm not trying to be a you-know-what, I'm just trying to cover my bases before I go off.

Also before I go off, I did a little research on some of the most common childhood diseases.

1. RSV - this little bugger is a monster cold virus characterized by extreme runny nose (get out the Nose Frida), fever, and coughing. RSV is the number one cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children under a year old. Telltale sign of RSV is wheezing. Lasts for 1-2 weeks.
2. Fifth Disease - this disease is also known as "slapped cheek disease" because it looks like the infected person got slapped across the face (red marks). Redness can also be seen on the kiddo's tummy and arms/legs. This disease, albeit contagious, is usually mistaken for a common cold until the red cheeks pop up. It's not a serious disease; it's very benign in nature. This is one of those diseases where you don't know your kid has it until it's too late and he's given it to everyone on the playground. Good thing it's nothing serious. Lasts for about 7-10 days.
3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease - this illness starts off with a fever, sore throat, lack of appetite and runny nose and finishes out with lesions (blisters/rash) on (you guessed it) your kiddo's hands, feet and mouth. It is also common to see blisters on their bottoms too.
4. Croup - This is the cough your kiddo gets when they sound like a seal barking. It is rarely fatal, but sometimes kiddos end up having to go to the hospital if the cough is severe enough. Croup typically lasts for a week 
5. Impetigo - This is a very contagious skin infection characterized by clusters of itchy little bumps or sores that weep fluid, forming a honey-colored crust over them. The infection can clear up with a prescription antibiotic.
6. Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - This is a contagious bacterial infection characterized by rapid and severe coughing. Lucky for us, there is a VACCINE for this infection, but you have to be re-vaccinated every 5-10 years. Yep, vaccinations, y'all. I'm on that train. The pro-vaccinations train. CHOO CHOO.

Schools, daycares, extracurricular activities - they all have a pretty universal sick policy which states that a kiddo must be symptom free (diarrhea, vomit, fever, etc) for at least 24 hours before being around a bunch of other kids. This is, in entirety, to try to prevent the spread of disease (buzzword) among our precious beloved children.

Some parents are very cognizant of this policy and adhere to it. I, myself, have missed days upon days of work over the last 11 months to sit at home with my little angel and give her tylenol/ibuprofen/Pedialyte/snuggles/love while she is sick. There is no other place I would want her to be than in my arms while she is feeling sick. Other parents are not so cognizant. I know the excuses. "Oh he/she is totally fine, running all over the place now." "If I miss work, my boss will fire me." "He/she isn't contagious anymore." Among others. Blah, blah, blah, is what I say to ALL that.

I could just kiss Children's Health Network directly on the smacker for posting this webpage about Infections: Incubation and Contagious Periods. I need everyone to take a serious look at this page. You know I couldn't leave you guys without a little cheat sheet, so I'm including the contagious periods of some of the most common childhood diseases below for you to print out and include with all of your children's medications, right next to your handy dandy infant tylenol dosage chart based on weight for all of you parents out there who DON'T think Tylenol is the devil.

What exactly do I mean by "contagious period"? I mean don't take your children around other children during this "contagious period" so that they (indirectly YOU) don't get a bunch of other kiddos sick. THAT'S what I mean by "contagious period."

I actually know people who knowingly expose other kiddos to whatever crap their kid has going on because they can't miss work, don't want to stay home with them, don't want to cancel plans, etc. You're right --- half the time, it's too late to prevent the spread of some disease. But the other half is due in large part to human error, and to be specific, PARENT-ERROR. Do you expect your 2 year old to come up to you and say "hey mom, you know I was thinking, I've only been on antibiotics for 1/2 a day for this raging case of strep I have, I probably shouldn't go to the babysitter today." HELL to the no!

Of course there is conflicting information on the contagious periods of some of these diseases, and as always, there is a grey area with some. Best bet is to err on the side of caution, and also ask your pediatrician if you are unsure.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Unsolicited Parenting Advice: What you SHOULD and SHOULDN'T listen to

Welcome to parenthood... the land of unsolicited advice... From the second you announce your pregnancy 'til.. well, does it ever end?... people, well-meaning and know-it-all alike, are quick to share their parenting advice with you. As a new parent, you might be overwhelmed and/or anxious with what to do with this new plethora of information. Do yourself a favor, and give this a read before putting too much weight on what other people think.

DON'T listen to people's opinions of your child's name. This is why people somewhere along the line decided to not share the name of their little bambino-to-be. The fact that I spent nanosecond(s) caring what people would think of Beulah's name when I was pregnant is laughable now, as I could give two you-know-whats what anyone thinks about my precious baby girl's name. But pregnancy does weird things to your brain and can trick you into thinking you care. Do you know that I have actually had grown-a$$ adults border-line make fun of my kid's name? Try picking on someone your own size, and also learning some dang manners!!!

DO listen to people's polite OR rude advice on carseat safety. The guidelines on car seat safety don't discriminate and are not ever to someone's discretion. I have found that people that have an eye for car seat safety are often very passionate about sharing the rules. Swallow your pride, and listen. Car seat safety is no joke.

DON'T listen to extremes... "ALWAYS" do this or "NEVER" do that. "NEVER use Tylenol"  (Check out all the comments on my - people so make me laugh.) or "Always put socks on your baby" ...  Unless it's obvious and correct, like "always feed your baby" or "always put your baby in the carseat when you are in the car."

DO listen to your friend's (or strangers on Amazon) reviews on products. There are about a trillion different baby products out there. Learn from your friends! Scour Amazon for the 4 star sippy cup. Because all of them but 2 (slight exaggeration) LEAK. EVERYWHERE.

DON'T listen to people's opinions on how to feed your baby. This isn't just breast milk vs. formula. Or cow's milk vs almond or coconut milk. It's also about when to introduce solids or whether or not you want to put rice cereal in the bottle. First time you complain about not getting any sleep I guarantee you someone will suggest putting rice cereal in your cherub's bottle. Just do what you want to do and how you want to do it with feeding your baby. Assuming safety of course, and your pediatrician's recommendations.

DO listen to your pediatrician. If you aren't listening to your pediatrician, you need to get one you can listen to. There are many different approaches to caring for your little cherub, but some pediatricians will just not go for parents opting not to vaccinate (I'm choosing to keep my opinion on THAT to myself) or things like that. So, just choose a pediatrician who you can listen to, and listen to them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

4 Reasons to Make the Investment, Join the Cool Crowd, and Buy Freshly Picked Moccs {A Freshly Picked Moccs Review}

I, like many other fashion-forward mamas out there, covet the often-imitated-but-never-duplicated moccasins made by Freshly Picked. They just released a neon line, and their metallics literally make me hurt with desire to buy every.single.last.pair. But... I worried. These are expensive little shoes, for a little diva-in-the-making with quickly growing feet who, among other things, despises long sleeve shirts and any type of footwear.

After much turmoil over which size to get using this handy little chart, I decided to make the dive and commit to a size 3 perfect gold metallic moccasin. Whilst Boo ripped off every pair of shoes borrowed from my niece and became more mobile with her attempts to walk, I anxiously awaited the box to arrive from Freshly Picked, perfectly packaged in a canvas bag with an added touch of button flair. My inner fashionista flapped with delight when the package came.

low and behold, the packaging.
A little note about the sizing chart - you totally need to print that bad boy out and put your kid's foot up to it. The worst thing ever in life would be for you to guesstimate and end up only being able to use these moccs for a short amount of time. Boo was measuring between a 2 and a 3, so I ordered a 3. They are a little big, but as you are about to see, homegirl gets around just fine in them.

A little about Boo, other than the fact that she really doesn't like shoes on her feet... She is in a very transitional phase. She is first and foremost a crawler, but she is standing and taking steps (up to 7 at a time; yes I counted).

As a speech therapist damned (I mean blessed) with more knowledge than I would necessarily like on development, I worried about how wearing shoes might affect her learning to walk. Some people think that babies do best with shoes that have a certain amount of support to encourage first steps. I am of the tribe of those who feel that the best thing for a little baby foot and walking is bare feet and the floor. But where does this leave me with the love affair with the FP moccs??? Upon thorough inspection, I was happy to see that the soles of the Freshly Picked moccasin are extremely pliable, thus really having little to no affect on the way a baby foot maneuvers and interprets the ground. So I can take my physical therapist hat off now.

Before sharing with you faithful readers ADORABLE pictures of Beulah wearing her Freshly Picked moccasins, I would like to share with you 4 reasons to take the plunge and invest in these shoes for your babe.

1) RESALE VALUE. Guys, these shoes are HOT. There is literally a whole world of mamas out there on Instagram closets buying and selling these bad boys used for at least 1/2 of what you buy them for brand new.  So, you buy these with confidence knowing that you can sell them if you want to. (I'll probably be making a blog post soon about Instashops/Instaclosets, in the event that you have no idea what I am talking about.)

2) (Previously mentioned) FLEXIBILITY. These shoes are super flexible, meaning that they really don't create a false surface for a new walker. An added bonus is because they ARE flexible, I am able to put them in the side pocket of my purse, no problem. Flexibility also = less bulk. Nice for keeping extra pair of shoes in a diaper bag, or like I already stated, a purse.

3) THEY STAY ON LITTLE FEET. This is hard to describe unless you are holding a moccasin in your hands, but the heel is bound by hidden elastic, giving it movement to pull the heel back to slide onto a moving target (baby foot) and then tighten back into the heel so they actually stay on the kiddo's foot. NOTHING is more frustrating than losing a shoe or putting shoes on a million times because they have fallen off.

4) GENDER NEUTRAL. Unless you are getting pink or purple, this footwear is extremely gender neutral. If you are like me and hanging on to everything baby #1 has for whenever you have baby #2, you know how important gender neutral items are. It guarantees you will be able to use them again!

Obviously, Boo could care less about reasons #1 and #4, but I do believe that the flexibility and the fact that they stay on her feet are two reasons why she actually likes and wears these shoes!!!!!! (Inner fashionista REJOICE!) So, onto the pictures:

Flexible soles!!!

Texas Glitter onesie by Lone Star Ginger Boutique

Texas Glitter onesie by Lone Star Ginger Boutique