Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekly Chores Chart

I guess "normal" people just take care of things around the house as they need to be taken care of. I on the other hand, need structure, a system. I need a schedule. Charts, graphs, spreadsheets!

Photo courtesy of the Italian voice

Now that we've settled into the house, I have figured out a routine that works for me and I want to share it with you guys, because I hope it helps you! (I will offer it for free download once I figure out how to upload a Word document to the internet. 0_o)

I first created two columns for my rotation:
1. Rooms
2. Chores

Every weekday, I will focus on a different room:
Monday - Kitchen
Tuesday - Dining Room
Wednesday - Living Room
Thursday - Bathrooms
Friday - Bedrooms

In addition to focusing on one room, I will also have a "chore" for the whole house.
Monday - Sweep and mop the tile floors
Tuesday - Dust
Wednesday - Vacuum
Thursday - Wipe glass and walls
Friday - Paperwork (sorting bills and other important papers)

Some of these things may get done more than once. For instance, I vacuum all the carpets on Wednesday, when I am focusing on the living room, but I will also vacuum the bedrooms on Friday if they need it.

On the weekends, there are only a couple chores. I prefer to do the outside on the weekends because my husband is home and that's his domain. ;)
Saturday - Yard / mow, water, rake, trim trees
Sunday - Garage / sweep garage and porch, take trash to the curb

We also go grocery shopping and run any other important errands on the weekends so we can do it together.

Other "chores" get done daily or as needed like laundry, dishes, trash, and general straightening up.

I know this list may not fit everyone's schedule or home, but I hope this at least inspires some customized plans.

How do you clean your house? Do you have a system?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Confessions of a Mommy Blogger

     I have had a few weeks to reflect on my blog. I know it's only been live a few months, but I've gotten pretty caught up in the mommy blogosphere. I figured that if I wanted more people to read my posts, I should give something away as an incentive. Then I realized that not many companies want to give you free stuff if it's only going to promote their product to 10 people. It's a cycle. You host giveaways to prove to sponsors that you have a broad audience. You convince the audience to stay by offering more free stuff. And you get free stuff, too! People have received some pretty sweet promos. How awesome would it be to get a $400 stroller to review? Pretty awesome, right? But...

   That is NOT why I started writing, and that is certainly not what inspired me to begin writing Minimally Mama. I don't want to hustle my blog to potential sponsors JUST to get free stuff. I learned a lot from this past giveaway. It was pretty damn hard to get sponsored for two reasons:
1. I ONLY contacted companies and individuals whose product and ethos I would be excited to promote.
2. Most potential sponsors won't give you the time of day if you don't have impressive numbers to share with them.

     I was very fortunate to have a really cool eco-conscious company and a super sweet and talented WAHM give me an opportunity. That's really the way I see it. I LOVE reviewing products for you guys! I love SHARING. (Some people have even accused me of oversharing.) THAT is why I started this! So here is what I am going to do...

I am going to continue to write Minimally Mama.
I am going to write whenever I feel I have something of value to contribute--not however many times a week will make me attractive to sponsors.
I am going to review products that I use and companies that I believe in--not whoever approaches me, and not whoever I beg for free stuff.
I am going to host giveaways if any of the aforementioned companies are gracious enough to sponsor me, or if I have it in my budget to sponsor it myself. For this reason, my giveaways probably won't be very often or offering really high-dollar items.
I am going to be honest with my writing (as I have been) and not try to lure readers with promotions, and if that means I am writing to an audience of 2 and not 2000, so be it.
I hope you find value in what I share and continue to read. I've always been a better journalist than a salesman and this past month or so has validated that for me.

Thank you for reading! Please stick around. I have a lot more to say. ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Seven-- SEVEN months?! Sheesh.

My little Josiebean,

     It seems like just the other day I was sitting in your Grandma's living room writing you your first letter. And it really was only two weeks ago when I wrote the last one. I keep writing and taking pictures because it seems like the time is going by so fast! The first three months of your life were spent feeding you, changing you, and crying. Both of us cried... A lot. I don't want to forget how difficult it was and how little sleep I got because we have made so much progress!
     You are the happiest little baby, and your smile is contagious. I stare at you over and over again with tears of love welling behind my eyes. You are such an amazing little person! We're working on crawling right now. (I still remember the first time you rolled over without help!) You can scoot backward, sideways, and in a circle, but forwards is still a mysterious direction. That's OK. I am in no rush to baby-proof the entire house!
     I love feeding you, but you prefer to feed yourself (or at least gnaw on the spoon) most of the time. We've tried lots of different foods, but so far the apples and blueberries seem to be your favorites! You are not really a fan of chicken, peas, or bananas (oddly enough for a little monkey like you.)
     Last week Daddy and I took you to the driving range and you liked watching us hit golf balls for a while (you LOVE being outside!) but it must have gotten lonely in the stroller because you let me know very promptly and very loudly when you were ready to hang out with the big people. It occurred to me that you've never sat in grass before, so I sat you down and couldn't help laughing as I watched you pet it! It must have been such a strange feeling!
     Your first Christmas is coming up, and it will be the beginning of some new traditions (like cinnamon ornaments!) and passing on old ones, like your handmade stocking (made by the same people who made mine and Daddy's) and maybe driving to look at the lights like I used to do with my grandpa when I was little. For us, Josie, Christmas is about being able to appreciate the people who love you and to learn the meaning of giving to others. It is very important to us that you know how lucky you are to have SO many people who love you and that we work very hard to make sure you never have to worry about going without the things that you need. We also want you to develop a kind and giving heart toward those who are not quite as fortunate. When you get older, we will pick toys and books to give to children who wouldn't have a Christmas without our help. This Christmas, though, you will be smothered with love and kisses from many people who love you and I can't wait!

See you in the new year, little girl!
<3 Mama

PAXbaby giveaway!

Lots of goodies available at PAXbaby, including a Double Rainbow Diamond Weave Cream Weft 4.6! I'm sharing this because (well, it earns me extra entries in the giveaway...) but also because Jillian and the rest of her crew was so amazingly helpful when I was first figuring out what carrier would suit me and my baby the best. Not to mention, she puts out some of the BEST tutorial YouTube videos! Please go check out their website and FB page if you are interested in babywearing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 30, 2012


Welcome to the 3rd annual Merry Fluffy Christmas Giveaway Event, hosted by And Then There Were 5…!


I am so excited to be involved this year and give you the opportunity to WIN some seriously rockin' cloth diapering prizes valued at more than $65 USD. Please check out the blogs at the bottom of this post for MORE amazing prize opportunities!

One lucky MM reader will win:

A Rockin' Green bundle in your choice of scent/formula + Funk Rock ammonia bouncer!


6 felted wool dryer balls from Bog Berry Handicraft!

Rules are simple:
This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Please make sure you fill out all the information asked of you in each entry. This will be make things go a lot easier on me when I go back through to check all entries.

The Hop Link code is at the bottom of this post. Make sure you read the instructions carefully on each blog, as each has their own rules.

There’s an easy Rafflecopter entry form so good luck and let me know if you have any questions!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sponsor Spotlight: Bog Berry Dryer Balls

Hey, y'all! I'm back from the dead! Well, sort of. We still have furniture to assemble and boxes to unpack, but I'm finally getting into a routine here and I've upgraded my status from "surviving" to "happy homemaker" (and by that, I mean dishes and laundry are being taken care of and the baby isn't crying at the moment...) Anyway, I absolutely HAVE TO tell you about Bog Berry Dryer Balls!

I have been curious about dryer balls since I started cloth diapering, but I was also a little too skeptical to invest any money in them. What was I so worried about?! Like a lot of things I've grown up with (e.g. household cleaners and medicine), I've been conditioned to believe that the "natural" alternative to dryer sheets wouldn't be effective or efficient. So, for the longest time I used nothing in my dryer with cloth diapers. (Dryer sheets leave a residue on fabric, causing diapers to repel instead of absorb.) I was beyond stoked when Brooke at Bog Berry agreed to sponsor me for the Merry Fluffy Christmas giveaway so I could FINALLY see what all the buzz was about dryer balls.

Before I moved, Brooke sent me 6 wool dryer balls to try out. I immediately noticed a difference in my diaper laundry. The microfiber inserts didn't cling anymore and it actually did reduce the drying time. I usually have to run the dryer twice to get everything completely dry, but to my surprise, they were done after one cycle. Woohoo!

FACT: I don't use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets at all anymore. I just keep my dryer balls in the dryer and I'm good to go!

Why use Bog Berry wool dryer balls? 
 Bog Berry Dryer Balls are :

* the eco friendly alternative to dryer sheets

* biodegradable

* chemical free

* energy savers

* perfect toys for babies and pets....and adults! ( Do you juggle?!)

* NOT made of yarn

* great for scenting your drawers and closets

* excellent gifts for wedding and baby showers

* also decorative! They look marvelous in a pretty bowl on the table!

Brooke also helps support the local economy by purchasing her wool from a family farm in Lancaster County, PA and a small company in Maine.

What else can I get from Bog Berry?
Handmade Necklaces
Seed Bombs
Herb Blends
Tolkien-inspired Elf Cloaks (How freakin adorable are these?!)

Where can I get these awesome homemade products?
Brooke's website or her Etsy store.

Ooooor... You can win a set of dryer balls from me. Starting at midnight tonight!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Toy-Buying Guidelines

Happy Black Friday! Some of you have been up since yesterday morning, and are now suffering from a turkey hangover and stalking stores and websites for deals on Christmas gifts. That inspired me to write this post. (OK. That's a lie. This post has been in "draft" form for about a month. But, hey! What a convenient time to publish, right?)

Photo courtesy of markow76.
It's no secret that I am not a fan of toys. I've gotten a lot of flack and backhanded comments from family because of this. What I really mean is that I am not a fan of useless toys and I am not a fan of excessive toys. I prefer quality over quantity. There are certain toys that I approve (yes, because I am allowed to do that) for my child. Let me clarify.

-puzzles (Like this magnetic picture puzzle or this zoo animals block puzzle.)
-games (Like Letter Dice and Splodge Domino.)
-musical instruments (Real instruments, not plastic toys that are shaped like instruments and make a pre-programmed noise when you push a button; see BOTs)
-pretend play (This pirate ship is awesome! And I've always loved puppet theaters and play foods.)
-dress up (Super heroes, chefs, cowboys/cowgirls, knights and princesses.)
-blocks (Haba has a great selection of wooden blocks.)
-books (Especially Caldecott and Newberry Award winners and honorees along with the classics.)
-arts and crafts (modeling clay, stamps, crayons and paper, craft sets, etc.)

-characters/brands (Disney Princesses, Dora the Explorer, Baby Einstein, etc. I've seen over and over again, kids begging for things because they have their favorite character on them regardless of whether it's a doll, a pack of markers, or a roll of toilet paper.)
-gender limitations (Damn right I'm going to let my daughter play with cars. The same way I will let my son play with dolls.)
- plastic (Plastic, Made-in-China toys are generally not of the best quality, they're bulky, and they break easily.)
-BOTs [battery-operated toys] (These are toys with buttons, lights, and obnoxious sounds that are amusing for five minutes and then one of two things happens: the kid gets bored and the thing never sees the light of day, or the parent prays for the moment the batteries die and then lies to the kid that there is a worldwide shortage of AAs until the kid stops asking.)
-SCLANs (See this blog for an explanation of what SCLANs are and why you don't need them.)

Happy Six Months, my little Butterball!

Hey Silly Girl!
     This update is a little bit late, but for good reason. I promise. On your half-birthday, the three of us set out on our journey to Texas. Your daddy had orders to Ft. Hood, and we had to be there by November 14. You were such a good girl the whole trip, even though we spent almost two whole days in the car. You split your time between my car and Daddy's, and I think you liked his car better because it made more noise. :)
     In the past month, you have become much more mobile. You roll all over the place now, and you're even starting to scoot a little bit. You make all kinds of noises these days, including the newest one--clicking your tongue. It's so funny when you hear me do it and you do it back. You also scream a lot, but usually happy screams!I know you will be talking in no time, and I can't wait for our conversations to become more substantial. Goodness gracious, girl! I cannot believe we are more than halfway to a YEAR together!
     You are enjoying pureed foods now as well, like pears, green beans, prunes, and peas, but I am SO proud to say that we have made it six whole months of breastfeeding with no supplementing! We both know it hasn't been easy, and we are still having our challenges, but here's to another successful six months, Baby Doll!
     You are still waking up in the middle of the night to nurse, but I've gotten pretty used to it. During the day you are generally a very happy baby. Your smile is so infectious! You have really loved meeting all the nice new people out here in Texas. And they have all loved meeting you! Wherever we go, people fawn over your chubby cheeks and beautiful blue eyes.
     As of yesterday, you are 20lb 9oz. One strong and solid little chunkamunk, and I couldn't be happier! This Thanksgiving Day, I am so incredibly thankful for you. Every single ounce. Every single day. Every smile, every tear, every poopy diaper (even if it's in the middle of the pediatrician's lobby when I'm filling out paperwork). You amaze me, and I could not imagine my life without you! 

I love you!

Checking in!

Wow! I've been gone so long that Blogger made me sign back into my account. We are finished with our move, but not entirely unpacked yet. I just got my wi-fi hooked up yesterday, so I will be up and running again soon. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving from Central Texas!

Friday, November 2, 2012

*Stepping out for a bit.*

Just wanted to let you guys know that I will be taking a break for the next couple weeks. My husband just finished AIT and we are in the process of our first PCS to Ft. Hood.

Be back soon! With a few reviews and meaty new posts, of course!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Photo by vastateparksstaff, via Flickr

Before my husband even considered joining the Army, I was working in an 8th grade English class. Motivated by a conversation we had with the students regarding Veterans' Day, the teacher adopted a platoon on behalf of our classes. We had only two responsibilities: write letters every week, and send one care package a month. The results were so inspiring, I adopted my own platoon when I became a high school English teacher.

(I really want to share our amazing stories with you, but first I want to tell you how you can support our troops!)

Adopt-A-Platoon is a fantastic organization. They really have their youknowwhat together when it comes to matching you up with a soldier (or marine, sailor, or airman--all branches are supported) or unit, they make if very easy for anyone to participate, and they are extremely clear about the rules of the organization and laws regarding OPSEC. Seriously, I knew nothing about the military, or even sending packages overseas for that matter, and had a ton of questions before I signed up. Their website is so thorough and intuitive, I never had to look very far for answers, and when I did have to send an e-mail, the responses were quick, personal, and just as thorough.

Even if you don't have 150 middle school students to help you write letters every week, you can still make a difference:

  • Adopt a soldier! As an individual or small family, you can adopt up to four troops. You'll be asked to send at least one letter or card a week and one care package per month. 
  • If you feel that you will be unable to send a care package, you can sign up as a pen-pal and send a weekly card or letter. A lot of soldiers don't have access to national news or current events outside of their job, so they like to hear about what's going on "back home." We always ended up sending the sports section of the local paper with our letters along with updates on upcoming movies, celebrity gossip, and other trivia.
  • If you want to send a single care package, you can sign up specifically for a one-time campaign, like Operation Holiday Eagle or Stockings for Santa.
If you would like to involve your church, company, school, youth group, or other civic organization (Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy/Girl scouts, etc.) I urge you to consider adopting a platoon. You will be in touch with a Point-of-Contact (POC) for the unit, and there is no guarantee you will hear back from the troops, but we always did!
     The first time, we were sent a flag, pictures, and letters from individual soldiers as well as information and a brief history on their specific unit. It was a GREAT learning experience for our students. A lot of them left with a new perspective on the military and even a new sense of self, realizing that a lot of the soldiers with which they communicated were very much like them. 
     The second time, our POC actually sent us a weekly newsletter (which I read to my 11th grade classes) and they loved that he commented on their letters! Once the deployment ended, he actually took a "Thank You" tour around the country to personally meet and thank everyone that supported his unit. He came to my classroom and spoke to my students! (He also took my husband and myself out to dinner *twice*. Not to brag, but how cool is that?! And as a new military spouse, the information and advice I received from him and his wife was absolutely invaluable.)

If you are looking for a way to teach your children about giving back this holiday season or you just want to support our troops, please check out Adopt-A-Platoon.

*It may sound like an advertisement, but I was not compensated or even asked by anybody to write this post. I believe strongly in supporting our troops, and AAP truly is a wonderful organization.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Is Eating at Home Cheaper?

Photo by miamism, via Flickr.

We all want what's best for our families. That goes without saying. But, there are times when we may have to choose price over quality when it comes to food. I don't know anyone who actually believes Chicken McNuggets and a small fry counts as a balanced meal, but it (usually) does cost less than buying a pack of chicken fillets and fresh vegetables, and you don't have to cook. So, how can you eat at home and save money?

First of all, you do need to compare the quality of the food you are making to the quality of food you would be getting at a restaurant.

Example: A Happy Meal costs roughly $3 (according to my .25 second Google search since I haven't actually been to a McDonald's since high school...) and an entire bag of Tyson's chicken nuggets can cost you less than $5, and that contains 3-4x the number of nuggets you would get in a Happy Meal. So that is easily a $6-$9 difference! Just keep in mind that these are both heavily processed meals, meaning that they provide little nutritional value.

The initial cost of cooking at home may be higher, since you are accounting for equipment, condiments, and spices, but once you are down to replacing only what is missing from your inventory, it can absolutely be the less expensive option.

Tips for grocery shopping:
1. Check online grocers for your staple foods. This will prevent you from browsing and picking up more food than you need. You will also save time and money because these foods will be delivered right to your door and many offer free shipping and/or discounts like Amazon's subscribe and save program. I also like this idea because you can compare prices without leaving the couch.

2. Come up with a weekly/biweekly/monthly grocery list. It is possible to do your grocery shopping for the month in one trip. Once I try it, I will let you know how it goes. :) This is the list I plan to shop from once my family is in Texas, courtesy of Again, this will help you from getting off-track and making any impulsive purchases.

3. Subscribe to a "deals and steals" newsletter. I get weekly updates from since that is tailored to what will be my local shopping area. There are tons of local, regional, and national coupon newsletters available online! (I will try to investigate the legitimacy of some bigger websites in the future.)

4. Sign up for newsletters or coupon clubs from grocery stores you visit most frequently. I am a part of the Publix Baby Club and I get really valuable coupons (including BOGO and FREE products) every quarter for baby-related items as well as some "family" related items. For example, I just got $1 off coupons for fresh meat and deli items, which are extremely hard to find.
     And for my military mamas, don't forget to sign up for the Commissary Connection. The Commissary Rewards Card also recently became available worldwide. If you use one, leave me a comment and tell me how you like it!

5. This is the oldest trick in the book, but ONLY shop the perimeter of the grocery store. My husband and I have made a habit of hitting the produce, meat, and dairy sections on our trips. That way we aren't tempted to try out the new Ben & Jerry's flavors or pick up some donuts for an "easy" breakfast. (Because scrambling eggs is just so hard...)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Things Have Changed

Before you have kids, people tell you that your life will change dramatically. When you're pregnant, you think "Well, of course. I'll have a little person who will depend on me, and I'll feel love like I've never felt before." But, oh, there is so much more. 

Trips to the Store

Before Baby:
Thought like, "Oops! Almost out of toilet paper!" pops into head.
Grab keys and purse.
Put on shoes.
Go to store.
Get toilet paper.

After Baby:
Thought like, "Crap. We're out of toilet paper. I wonder if baby wipes are biodegradable..." pops into head for the fifth time that day.
Wait for baby to wake up from nap.
Feed baby.
Change baby.
Spend ten minutes convincing yourself that nobody will notice you haven't showered, put on makeup, or changed out of your pajamas.
Decide to go to Wal-Mart (instead of someplace classy, like Target) just in case.
Put baby in car seat.
Get in car. Curse under your breath when you realize the gas gauge is *thisclose* to empty.
Do some quick math to figure out if you can get to Wal-Mart without running out of gas.
Find a decent parking spot. Easier said than done.
Attempt to finish shopping before baby poops or needs to be fed again.
Get in the shortest line you can find (behind the person who can't find their debit card, of course.)
Get the hungry, crying baby back into the car seat.
Get home, feed and change baby.
Realize you never brought in the groceries.
Unload groceries. (So much for the ice cream...)
Realize you forgot toilet paper.

Getting "Ready"

Before Baby:
Start shower.
Wait for it to get warm.
Shampoo your hair. Twice.
Wash your face.
Lather up.
Stand under running water to wake up.
Shave *both* legs, armpits, etc.
Towel off.
Blow dry/straighten/style hair.
Put on moisturizer, concealer, foundation, powder, blush, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick.
Pick out a cute outfit.
Get dressed.

After Baby:
Put baby down for a nap.
Jump into cold shower. (For the first time in three days.)
Lather from head to toe.
Grab razor to start shaving.
Hear baby cry.
Jump out.
Towel off.
Console crying baby.
Forget that you weren't done showering.
Spend the rest of the day in sweats.

Concept of Time

Before Baby:
Morning = 6AM - 11AM
Afternoon = 12PM - 4PM
Evening = 5PM - 8PM
Night = 9PM - 12AM
Wee hours = 1AM - 5AM

*After Baby:
Wake Up = 6AM
Morning Feeding = 9AM
Morning Nap = 11AM
Playtime = 12PM
Midday Feeding = 1PM
Errands/Chores = 2PM
Afternoon Feeding = 4PM
Afternoon Nap/Make Dinner = 5PM
Bathtime = 6PM
Evening Feeding = 7PM
Bedtime = 8PM
Sleep = 10PM - 6AM

*Who am I kidding? Does ANYBODY'S day actually go like this? No, wait. Don't tell me, because I might cry.


Before Baby:
Put on PJs.
Wash face.
Brush teeth.
Watch TV/read.
Sleep until alarm goes off.

After Baby:
No need to put on PJs. Already wearing them...
Splash face with water.
Check on baby.
Convince yourself TONIGHT is the night baby will sleep for 8-10 straight hours.
Drift off to sleep.
Wake up to a crying baby 15 minutes later.
Soothe/nurse baby back to sleep.
Play games on phone/read until you're tired again.
Sleep for 2-3 hours.
Wake up to feed baby.
Go back to sleep for 3.5 hours.
Wake up in a panic because baby hasn't woken up crying yet.
Go back to sleep.
Wake up 15 minutes later to nurse/soothe crying baby.
Go back to sleep.
Wake up 1 hour later to a smiling baby who's ready to start the day!
Roll over to see it's 6AM.
Accept defeat and make a pot of coffee.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rockin' Green Sponsor Spotlight/Review

If you are considering cloth diapers, one of the most overwhelming aspects you'll come across is the wash routine. You will hear a variety of responses when you ask (or Google) about length, temperature, detergent (How much? What kind?), bleach, soaking, stripping, drying, and so forth. While it will be a matter of trial and error depending on your machine, diaper material, water hardness, and your baby's diet, the Rockin' Green website is a fantastic place to start.

The site features a wealth of information that can help you determine the best wash routine for you, and if you're still having trouble, Rockin' Green employees and fellow consumers can help you out in the Community section of the site as well as the Support Page.

From the About Us page:

     Rockin’ Green is an award-winning manufacturer of eco-friendly cleaning products designed to make cleaning easier and greener. Most well-known for their clean-rinsing laundry detergent formulated for use on all fabrics and especially useful on cloth diapers, Rockin’ Green produces detergents for hard, soft and normal water conditions (known as Hard, Soft and Classic Rock varieties).

I was mailed three samples of the Classic Rock variety (which was the right formula for the type of water in my area) in the Smashing Watermelons scent so I decided to wash a load of diapers and then soak some of the stinky microfiber inserts I have been using.

Since I have a front-loader, I consulted the Frontloader Database to figure out which wash cycles are recommended for my particular machine. I found this to be extremely helpful because front-loaders operate a little differently than top-loaders and it does make a difference! I realized that I needed an additional pre-wash in my routine. Who knew?!

I ordered the Smashing Watermelons scent, which was yummy, but not overwhelming, which is probably at least partly because all of the scents are natural. You can also get Rockin' Green laundry detergent in unscented (Bare Naked Babies). I thought my diapers may end up scented (like my clothes normally do when I use other detergents) but instead, they smelled CLEAN! I can't describe it in a better way, but if you've ever had a yucky smell after washing diapers, you know how relieving it is when they end up smelling like NOTHING. It's a good thing. ;)

I was having some issues with the microfiber inserts I use with my pocket diapers. They hold in the ammonia stink and I can always smell it, however faintly, even after I've washed them. While checking out the Rockin' Green website, I came across the "How to Rock a Soak" page. Since I have a front-loading washer, I can't soak in my machine, so I used the bathtub instead. I soaked them for 60 minutes and then threw them in the washer on a rinse cycle. It worked! The ammonia smell was gone! I was thrilled. Microfiber is pretty high-maintenance, though, especially if you are using it in an overnight diaper. In that case, Rockin' Green recommends trying their Funk Rock ammonia bouncer (which you can win along with a Rockin' Bundle from me in an upcoming giveaway!)

Even if you don't use cloth, Rockin' Green detergent can be used for clothing (and so many other things!) as well, and as far as I know, it is the only detergent with three different formulas to accommodate your water hardness. They also provide pet-safe detergent for chew toys and bedding, a garbage pail freshener, and odor neutralizing spray!

I was skeptical about "CD-specific" detergents going into this review, but I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE Rockin' Green detergent! Their products are of the highest quality, eco-friendly, and bio-degradable and the website is more than just an online store. I have learned so much about my wash routine from visiting their site.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Great Pumpkins!

For some reason, I have wanted to go to a pumpkin patch for the past three years or so, but apparently people look at you funny if you are in your twenties and go without kids. I finally had a little person to take with me, so even though she is way too little to know what was going on, we went to one yesterday. I was beyond thrilled to get a chance to take pictures of my little girl (who sits up by herself quite nicely now) with all of the pumpkins!

Things I learned today:
- There is a reason it's called a 5 o'clock shadow. The term may refer to facial hair, but it applies to photography as well. Late afternoon is a horrible time to take photos outdoors. It's almost impossible to get a shot without funky shadows or having to squint because the setting sun is in your eyes.
- Babies have no concept of posing or looking at a camera, so expect to take a ton of pictures. Most of them will be blurry or feature the side of your kiddo's head, especially if they are in a new place. At least, I know all my baby girl wanted to do was look at everything around her and she could not care less that I wanted a cute picture of her holding the pumpkin in front of her.
- Check the prices before you go. Find out what's included in your admission fee. We went to a Fall Festival/Corn Maze. I didn't expect to pay so much for entry and food and the little pumpkin we took home. Major bummer since we were only there for about an hour and didn't visit any of the attractions besides the pumpkin patch and about 20 feet of the corn maze.

We did end up getting some great pictures, but next year I think we will go to a smaller (free) pumpkin patch and save the festivals and fairs for when the little one can actually enjoy some rides and games.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's here! Yankee Candle giveaway!


Welcome to the Yankee Candle Fall Festival Giveaway! 

     Real Mom Reviews has teamed with an awesome group of bloggers to bring one super lucky reader three large Yankee Candle Jars in fall scents. The traditional design of Yankee Candle signature jar candles reflect a warm, relaxed sense of style that's always at home. Convenient and easy to use, the large Housewarmer Jar Candles provides 110 to 150 hours of true fragrance enjoyment! The seasonal candles one reader will win help celebrate the best of fall with fragrances inspired by the beauty of nature and the bounty of harvest.  

  • Apple Cider is a welcoming aroma of hot cider spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg! 
  • Spiced Pumpkin will quickly fill your home with the smell of fresh pumpkins baked in simmering spices of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and sweetened with brown sugar. 
  • Autumn Leaves provides a vibrant scent medley of birch and maple leaves with pomegranate, juniper berry, and orange blossom that will leave your whole house smelling like fall! 

One lucky reader will win them all! Giveaway is open to US and Canada. Entering is simple, simply read over the giveaway rules and then enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In and Out

I'll be honest. I'm exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling slightly unmotivated. My husband will be home in about two weeks and we will be picking up and moving (driving!) to Texas with our 6-month-old. Not only that, we're moving with the Army, so that means lots of paperwork and phone tag and red tape.

Until then, I am cleaning out closets, going through boxes, running errands, and trying to keep up with my active little monkey on a daily basis. (I'm sure there are mommies out there are rolling their eyes at me while I drown in my unfolded laundry.)

I have two Sponsor Spotlights in the works for the Merry Fluffy Christmas giveaway event, so keep an eye out for those! And I will continue to update my Wordless Wednesdays. I have drafts and ideas for posts, but they will remain as such until I can dedicate enough time to publishing quality material.

I guess what I'm saying is, please be patient with me! I have high expectations and huge goals for this blog, and I'll be able to meet them better once I've settled into Army life with my family next month.

Wordless Wednesday: Bad Hair Day

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Make it Paleo *Review*

The Food Lovers Kitchen was one of the first websites I visited while researching paleo meals and nutrition. Their website is incredibly easy to navigate and full of useful information. The recipes are separated by course (breakfast, entrees, sides, treats, etc.) and they even have menus for planning special occasions like football games, Thanksgiving, summer cookouts, and birthday dinners.

I was given a copy of their cookbook Make it Paleo to review for you guys, and I have to say I really was impressed. I found several cheap and easy recipes that I could try without even needing to make a trip to the grocery store. I read in a few reviews that some of the recipes were too simple. How is that possible? As a mother, the most basic things tend to slip my mind, and yes I am one of those people that needs a recipe to make bacon and eggs. :)

I love that (as someone new to paleo) you can find recipes to replace meals that tend to be considered staples in most homes. I can still eat waffles and pancakes for breakfast! There is also plenty of useful information in the front of the book for someone just starting out on this path including:
- a list of seasonal fruits and veggies
- a basic overview of what foods do and do not fit into a paleo lifestyle
- essential ingredients for paleo cooking and baking

It was really difficult to narrow down which recipes to try out for this review, but I decided to build my menu around seasonal produce and stick to my skill level and cooking preferences.
For dinner, I made pot roast in the crock pot with turnips, onions, celery, and carrots. It was seasoned with a bouquet of fresh herbs, which made me feel fancy. It called for parsnips, but I won't lie. I had no clue what a parsnip looked like and I was too embarrassed to ask, so the roast was sans parsnip. (Now I know, it's kind of like a brown carrot.)

The 2.5lb chuck roast fed six people with no leftovers. 
I made mashed cauliflower (to replace mashed white potatoes) and they were delicious! I don't have any pictures, but I think you can paint a mental picture here. ;)

Amazing meal. I am clearly *not* a food photographer.

For dessert, again I wanted something seasonal and not too complicated. So, we had baked apples. They tasted just like a healthier version of apple pie. I cannot wait to make them again! Even my dad, who doesn't eat fruit, ate the whole thing.

Cheap, easy, healthy, and delicious! Can't beat that.

Overall, we had a successful meal and it was simple enough for someone like me--the dummy who catches a paper towel on fire while trying to wipe down a gas stove... while it's still on. It was also inexpensive. I fed six people (including my hungry Army man) on less than $50.

Prep/Candid pics. Just because:

In the kitchen. What my brother would call "a woman's place."
Hubby, chowing down. (Ignore all the non-paleo condiments please...)
The whole family. Clearly, I am not *any* type of photographer. 
Tl;dr - If you are considering paleo, you NEED this cookbook. Like I said, it is very user-friendly. Great for beginners. Lots of information without being overwhelming.

Where to get it: The Food Lovers Amazon Store. It's $19.01, but you can also purchase the Kindle edition for $9.99 if you don't mind being deprived of the food photos.

Also: If you're not ready to purchase, at the very least, you need to download their myKitchen app for Android and iPhone. It includes 400+ recipes and you can customize weekly meal plans and shopping lists. Great for those days when you can't decide what to make!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My ring sling is worth its weight in gold.

Some days my little girl is so active. If I try to take her for a walk in the carrier, she will squirm and wriggle to get out because she wants to move around. She's becoming so aware of her surroundings, she wants to see EVERYTHING! I'm always a little bummed when I have to cut our walks short because she is just not happy sitting still.

Today, however, poor baby had a cold and she just wanted to snuggle. Unfortunately, I had several loads of laundry to do, reviews to write, and information to gather on this upcoming PCS. I couldn't spend all day holding her like she'd prefer and my relief was coming home late, which would be a huge issue if I didn't have my lovely Girasol ring sling. Because of this beautiful (and somewhat ancient) invention, I was able to get all of my chores done for the day and comfort my sick baby all at the same time!

My Light Rainbow Girasol Wrap-Conversion Ring Sling is my new favorite carrier. I love the quality handwoven material of the Girasol, and I absolutely love the excellent construction and traditional SBP-style pleated shoulder provided by Sleeping Baby Productions. If you have a wrap you'd like converted, Sleeping Baby Productions is definitely the place to go. Check the FB page if you need any convincing.

Also, I discovered three new reasons to love babywearing as a new mom:
1. It hides my new mommy muffin top.
2. It hides my now clownishly lopsided boobies (which are due to baby girl insisting on nursing exclusively on the right for the past week.)
3. Nobody cares that you haven't showered, brushed your teeth, or put on makeup when you're wearing a cute little baby!

Monday, October 8, 2012

This makes five!

Dear Monkey,

     Where has the time gone? You are five months old today, and I can't believe my eyes. You continue to grow and learn every day and I'll never get tired of watching it happen.
     This past month you have found your voice. I know this because I hear you screech, and squeal, and grunt, and sigh when you feel like nobody is paying attention to you. You also chatter away with "bababa" and "dadada" sounds, which will soon become your first words. Sometimes these noises are tinged with frustration or boredom, but usually they are just silly, happy, baby noises. You are now very often a silly, happy baby!
     I began to get worried, I'll admit, that you were falling behind a little bit when you hadn't started to roll over on your own a month ago, but I was reminded last week that you are capable of amazing things. You just do them when you are good and ready. I watched you squirm around on your tummy at Grandma and Grandpa's house as the three of us cheered you on. You hitched up your leg over and over until you gained enough momentum, and just like that you were on your back! I picked you up and praised you, and I nearly cried because I was so incredibly proud of you.
     A few days ago, you discovered your feet. Now you've mostly moved on from sticking your hands in your mouth since these newly found appendages are so much more fun to grab.
     My new favorite thing is making you laugh. It doesn't take much these days. You laugh when I make silly faces and when I tickle your toes. You laugh at the TV and your polka dotted blanket. I will make a pretty big fool of myself just to hear your adorable little chuckle.
     I am convinced that you will never sleep through the night, but as long as you continue to wake up smiling, I may be able to get over it.

I love you, Monkey!
<3 Mama

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Baby Feet

(This part isn't wordless. Deal with it.) I decided to jump on the Wordless Wednesdays bandwagon in order to motivate myself to post more pictures and post more frequently. Right now, I'm participating in Wordless Wednesdays on the Natural Parents Network. Here's my photo of little miss Silly Monkey:

Her favorite place to nap. <3
EDIT: Oops! Looks like I'm a week ahead. :facepalm: I'll just switch with next week's which is Story Time!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What do I do with this stuff?

I've been going through boxes in the garage to decide what is and is not going to Texas with us on the PCS. For the most part, I'm not having trouble deciding what stays or goes. I mean, we will definitely not be needing a full set of martini glasses or a multi-purpose cake plate, and since they're fragile, they probably wouldn't make the trip anyway. My biggest problem is what to do after I decide to get rid of things I no longer have a use for.

There are three main categories for these items: Trash, Sell, Donate.
Trash: This one is pretty easy. Either something is broken, dirty, or otherwise unusable. (Don't forget that some "trash" can be recycled!) No-brainer there.
The next two get tricky. How do you decide something is worth selling? Where do you plan to sell it? Is it worth the trouble? If not, and you decide to donate it, where will you take it? Are you worried about the likelihood of it actually being used?
Sell: This requires more work on your part than making a donation. You have some options, but try to keep it simple.
     You can have a yard sale, but be realistic. Will you really get up at 6AM on Saturday and Sunday to set up your items? Are you willing to haggle with people and accept the fact that you probably won't sell much? If you think a yard sale is a possibility, make sure you sufficiently advertise and see if any of your neighbors would like to get involved. (I'll talk more about yard sales in a later post.)
     If you don't want to give up your sleep-in days, consider listing items for sale online. You can list most items on Craigslist (for free!) or eBay. If you have books, video games, or DVDs, you can list them on or the Amazon marketplace. ***Be sure to check each site's policies and listing fees.***  The pros here are that you don't have to physically haul your stuff in and out of your garage or worry about severe weather. Cons? It still takes time, and you have to be accurate with your descriptions. Either way, this stuff is still taking up your space until it's sold.

The best solution I've come up with here is narrowing down your options and forming a plan for the stuff that doesn't sell.
Scenario 1:
     I decide to have a yard sale. I advertise on Facebook, in the newspaper, and on Craigslist for a week. I make between $100-$500. Whatever is left over gets donated to the Salvation Army. Whatever they don't take goes in the trash or gets recycled. Done!

Scenario 2:
     I have a lot of books and DVDs to sell, so I post them on (I also advertise these listings on Facebook and any relevant online forums/communities.) If they don't sell by Christmas, they get donated. The end!

If you're more worried about recouping your space than your money, I'd say donating everything is the way to go!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Southern Savers

I went through an "extreme couponing" phase last year in which I memorized the coupon and discount policies for every grocery store in the tri-county area. I got over that as soon as I realized Publix doesn't double coupons in Florida. (Bummer, right?) However, I did still find Southern Savers to be an extremely valuable resource.
Yes, it is called Southern Savers, but the site includes national chains (like Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, and Whole Foods) as well. The ads are updated regularly and include "Deal Ideas" which group coupons together for the maximum savings.
If you are new (or just completely oblivious) to couponing, the site also offers an explanation of the system and strategies you can use to get the most out of your efforts.

I just wanted to share this blog with you guys because I found it to be not only extremely helpful, but also very easy to navigate. So, check out Southern Savers and utilize the information Jenny works so hard to provide on your next shopping trip!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Mommy Rut

     If you read my last post, you know that I'm not having an easy time with the little one at the moment. I had my self-proclaimed pity party Monday, cried a little, then cried some more this morning when baby girl decided that 5 hours of sleep was more than enough for her. With a history of depression and anxiety, this is a dangerous road to start down. I could already feel my symptoms creeping up on me earlier this week. Things that wouldn't normally be a big deal made me really upset and took way too long to get over.
     Example, I went to Toys R Us to return a  fitted sheet I got at my baby shower because it didn't fit my playard. Well, they wouldn't take it because I lost the gift receipt and my shower was more than three months ago. That set the mood for the rest of my outing. Returning another item at Lowe's, the cashier rudely "reminded" me that they have a 90-day return policy, just, you know, "for future reference." THEN, I had the genius idea to try on skinny jeans at Old Navy. (Hey, they were on sale.) Do I really need to tell you how that went?
     Today, I decided I had enough and I really needed to make an effort to turn my mood around. I had to put on my BGPs and snap out of it. I mentioned Monday that I want to throw ninja stars at the people who suggest in parenting magazines to "make sure you get enough sleep." I can assure you, that is NOT possible in my house. But there are a few things I (and you) can do to get out of what I consider the New Mommy Rut.

  1. Stay hydrated. One study suggests that dehydration may cause mood swings, anger, and fatigue. When you're hormonal and sleep-deprived as it is, making sure you are getting enough fluids is that much more crucial.
  2. Get out of the house! Natural sunlight and fresh air can improve your mood almost immediately. Pop your baby in your Ergo (or stroller) and go for a quick walk. 
  3. Ask for help. Especially if you're having feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy as a mother, or inability to care for your child. (In that case, contact your OB IMMEDIATELY. You may be suffering from PPD.) If you just feel like you need a break, ask for one! If you don't have a family member or neighbor at your disposal, check Angie's List for trustworthy caretakers. Have someone watch the baby while you run errands (or treat yourself to a mani/pedi) or hire somebody once a week to do that one chore you can never seem to get around to, which for me would be laundry. I HATE doing laundry! I have two baskets full of clean clothes and a pile of dirty clothes sitting in my room as we speak. Diaper laundry, oddly enough, doesn't bother me...
  4. Exercise. Find a gym with child care you feel comfortable with or work out at home with a video while baby naps. You don't even have to buy any DVDs! I've discovered several short (as in under 15 minutes) but effective routines on Even taking a walk around the block can help you feel better!    TIP: Wear all black if you can, regardless of where you choose to work out. I find that it streamlines my shape and tends to hide the post-baby lumps and rolls (and lopsided boobies) really well. And I actually feel really confident in my body. :)
  5. Play with your baby. I can't think of anything that raises my spirits more quickly than snuggling up with my chunky monkey and kissing her over and over again on her belly. It usually makes her laugh, which makes me smile. 
  6. Remember that it doesn't last forever. If I do this, it helps me get through the tough times (like the times when Baby Girl treats me like an all-night diner) and hold onto the sweet moments (like when she starts hysterically laughing at the ceiling fan or carries on a full conversation with Sophie the Giraffe.) She'll only be a baby for a year. If I spend it wishing the bad parts away, I won't be able to enjoy the good ones. 
     I think I have made it pretty clear that I in no way have my you-know-what together, but these are the few things I know I can do. The hardest part for me has been asking for help. I feel like she is my child and if I leave her with someone else, it will seem like I can't handle my responsibility or that I am in some way a bad mother because I'm not able to simultaneously care for her and bake homemade cookies for the entire neighborhood. I know deep down that those feelings are irrational, so I'm working on it. One day at a time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

You're Cordially Invited to my Pity Party

     I'm wearing the same grey sweat pants for the third day in a row without washing them. My hair is absolutely disgusting. But my child is FINALLY asleep! Yes, it's 1:00 in the afternoon. To say we had a late night would be an understatement. Here is how bedtime typically plays out in our house:
8:00pm - Dinner (My mother-in-law works late.)
8:30pm - Bath time.
8:45pm - Story time.
9:00pm - Bedtime nursing.
9:15pm - Brief snooze.
9:30pm-12:00am - Feebly attempt to get the baby to sleep.
12:00am-10:00am - Constantly get up do feed the baby and/or get the baby back to sleep. If you want a more detailed description, it goes something like this:

     After she wakes up at 9:30, we lay in bed (in the dark, of course) for about 1-2 hours. Then I nurse her again, and she sometimes sleeps for 2 hours, sometimes for 10 minutes. Every time she gets up, I try to rock her back to sleep, but that's never enough, so I whip out the boob. Usually that works. When it doesn't, we are back at square one. She's up at least once every two hours, and I almost always have to nurse her back to sleep. This goes on until somewhere between 8:30-noon depending on when she officially went down for the night. Then she wakes up with a smile (which is when I know she's up for good because she isn't crying) and I have to accept that this is all the sleep I will get, force myself out of bed and make a cup of coffee. Luckily, I have a Keurig so I literally can do it with my eyes closed. If I have no obligations that day, I will probably spend it feeling like a complete slob. No shower, no makeup, PJs all day.

     I try not to make this my personal diary, because I know it gets old hearing people complain. I promise I'm not just complaining, though. I'm reaching out. Crying for help. I need to know I'm not the only one who sits with their infant until 2:30AM and wakes up sobbing uncontrollably (mama, not the baby) when she realizes that this is it. That nobody else is there to get up with the baby and she is just going to have to get through another day on 4-6 hours of light and heavily-interrupted sleep. That she will be too tired to cross anything of importance off of the To Do list, be it laundry, cleaning, e-mails, or phone calls. I need to know that somebody else out there has a baby that doesn't sleep. That there is anyone else in the world who rolls their eyes when the Parents newsletter in their inbox insists that "you need to take care of yourself" and "make sure you are getting enough sleep." Or that "Baby should be sleeping through the night now!" (Maybe I'm the only one who rolls my eyes and then imagines punching whoever wrote that article in their well-rested little face, but I'll take what I can get.)
     Most nights, I am OK with the fact that I will be getting up all night to nurse the baby back to sleep. It's nights like last night, though, that make me wonder how anybody does this alone. I miss my husband terribly as it is, but his absence is much more noticeable when I need his help. When I know the baby isn't hungry but she's awake again anyway, I can just picture him rocking her and singing her back to sleep. Instead, it's me. Falling asleep sitting up while my daughter uses me as a human pacifier.

     I'm sure one day, I will reflect on this time and actually miss getting up in the middle of the night, five times a night, every night. Just tell that to the bags under my eyes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Yankee Candle Giveaway!

I am participating in the FREE Yankee Candle giveaway event hosted by Real Mom Reviews.

One super lucky reader will win three large jar fall fragrance Yankee Candles!

Cost: Free with announcement post or 3.00 with out.  

Giveaway Open to: US and Canada.  

The event dates: September 28th-October 19th.  

Free Link Option: Facebook  

Optional Paid Link Options: $2.00 for Twitter or Pinterest

To sign up for this event click here!

     ***You guys know I am working hard to find sponsors for the Merry Fluffy Christmas giveaway, and I'm in the process of reviewing Make It Paleo, but in the meantime, I'm participating in this giveaway, so MARK YOUR CALENDARS! (If you are trying to declutter like I am, this would be an awesome gift. Just in time for the holidays!)***

Friday, September 21, 2012

My life in boxes...

     I know I haven't posted in a few days. I think I am trying to hard to come up with something informative or useful, more like a news article. Well, that's not gonna happen today. For anyone who knows me, you know that I am a newly initiated Army wife and my husband just got orders, so we will be moving in less than two months. Since he's still at AIT, the responsibility of sorting and packing our things falls on me. 

Everything I own, besides my clothing and furniture!

     Right now, all of our bulky furniture is at the condo (which we are feebly attempting to sell) and everything else is packed away in my in-laws' barn. (Storage barn, not animal barn.) This week, I have decided to start going through things, and I'm pretty proud of myself for being able to get rid of things I don't need. Seriously, how many occasions require champagne flutes? What about the cake stand? I've made one cake in my entire adult life. And the wine glasses? We don't even drink wine! (I'm a rum or beer girl when I'm *not* pregnant or breastfeeding...) Thanks, wedding registry. Don't even get me started on how we were pressured into registering for things we didn't want or need because "people are going to buy you things anyway." That's another post for another day.
     My other priorities at the moment are finding sponsors for the Merry Fluffy Christmas giveaway blog hop and waiting anxiously for my copy of Make it Paleo to review. :)

     Tomorrow, I will be attending my first ever babywearing group meet up, so I'll have pictures and such to share. Until then, it's back to the boxes! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Make It Paleo Review *coming soon*

I'm ecstatic to announce that I will be receiving a copy of Make it Paleo (from Bill and Hayley at The Food Lovers Kitchen) to review for you guys! I know I cannot wait to try out some of the 200+ recipes and share my experiences here.

In the meantime, check out their website (linked above) which is incredibly user-friendly and helpful for those of us just venturing into the Paleo world. If you have an Android phone or iPhone, you should also download their myKitchen app. It makes shopping, cooking and meal-planning ridiculously easy. From their website:
myKitchen is the easiest way to take your favorite Paleo, Primal, and Gluten-free recipes with you wherever you go. You can save your favorite recipes, create daily meal plans and unique menus, and even generate shopping lists.
It's true. So easy and it's FREE!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why I Wear My Baby

Ignore my WTF face. The sun was in my eyes. Focus on the adorable sleeping baby.

     I've seen comments on forums and Facebook that babywearing is just "trendy" right now and that it will die out. (Which is hilarious, considering it's been a practice in cultures on almost every continent for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but I digress.) So, maybe there are people who do it just because it's cool. That's probably true. Ask any mom why they do it, though, and they will probably have a story. Mine isn't heartbreaking or mushy, and as evidenced by the comments I get from my parents and grandparents about holding my baby "too much" it doesn't appear that I am passing down a family tradition. The reason I love wearing my baby is actually pretty selfish.
     See, I have anxiety. (This also explains my ongoing obsession with decluttering, but again, I digress.) Most of the time, this is triggered by large crowds, heavy traffic, or going someplace I've never been, but ever since I got pregnant, I get anxious thinking about all the terrible things that could possibly (but probably never will) happen to my child.
     Now, I have to admit, I got curious about babywearing because I thought wraps were pretty cool. Turns out I am not a naturally talented wrapper, so we are working with a Maya Wrap RS and an Ergo Performance at the moment. But the reason I've stuck with it, even when my daughter was not a big fan, is that I want her close to me. In public, babywearing prevents strangers (at least in my twisted brain) from being tempted to touch her, or worse, abduct her. Hey, it's happened! 
     When she's strapped to me, the only place people can touch is her feet, and good luck getting her out of the carrier unless you plan to take me with you. It makes me feel like she is safer. Any time I have taken her out in the car seat and had to put her down in public (like the grocery store or the post office) I have a mini-panic attack thinking that someone could just swoop in and grab her. Is that crazy? Yeah. It is. That's why they make Ativan. Since I'm breastfeeding and medication isn't an option, wearing her is clearly the best solution.
     I also hate strollers. I hate pushing anything in front of me at the store because I want to be able to move freely through aisles and racks of clothing. (Anxiety, again.) I always get a little basket when I go shopping if I can because I just feel less tied down. Strollers are the same as shopping carts for me. They create bulk and awkwardness, and I hate it. Pop Baby Girl in a ring sling and grab a little basket and we are good to go!
Other reasons I babywear:
  • She is at about my eye-level when we walk, so she can see what I see.
  • I don't get bruises on my thighs from dragging around the car seat.
  • My Ergo and RS are much easier to fold up than a stroller, and they take up much less space in the car!
  • I can nurse her in public with complete discretion. (Remind me to write about this!)
  • I get a better workout when I take her for walks. And she's cuter than a 15-lb weighted vest.
  • I have my hands free to do diaper laundry, cook, unload the dishwasher, or blog! :)
  • There is nothing better than having a sweet little sleeping baby snuggled up to your chest. (And I think she likes the sound of my heartbeat.)
Seriously. Look at that face! (July 15, 2012)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Open Letter to Those Who Love My Child

Dear Loved Ones,

     I am almost hesitant to pen this out of fear of seeming ungrateful. Please be assured that is not the case, and I also do not wish to offend or alienate anyone. This is just how I feel about the childhood I want my daughter to enjoy.
     I know baby toys are cute, and baby clothes are immeasurably cuter, but these things in general are fleeting. Babies outgrow clothes every week, and toys are only good until they are no longer developmentally appropriate. I know my little monkey is only four months old, but soon she will be old enough to enjoy experiences. And ask your children how many of their toys were important enough to remember. There are very few in my memory.
     What I remember are trips to Skate Mania, Uncle Donald's Farm and Silver Springs. I remember sleepless nights before going to Disney World and getting to see NSYNC live. Some of my favorite memories don't involve things at all, but spending time with people I love. Even if we weren't doing anything special. Even if we sat around the dinner table long after it had been cleared and just talked (but especially if we were also playing Scrabble or Checkers or War.)
     That is the childhood I want for my daughter. I want her life to be full of experiences, not objects. If you love her, please spend time with her. In our home, money and objects do not equal love and they do not come for free. They must be earned. I'll spare you my "that's what's wrong with the world today" speech and give you the Cliff Notes: I do not want my child to ever anticipate, expect, or even worse, be led to believe that she is entitled to a gift. Instead, shower her with experiences that will become wonderful memories.
     If you are unable to spend time with us, and you'd like to show your love in some other way, books and learning toys are always welcome as are cards and phone calls just to say hi. Thank you for respecting my wishes, and most of all, thank you for loving my child.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Are Cloth Diapers a Gateway Drug?

When I began researching cloth diapers, I'll be honest, I was not really concerned about being environmentally friendly or conserving waste. I was more interested in the money-saving aspect. I realized I could save at least $500 my first year of diapering, so I started to wonder how much more I could save if I used cloth wipes. I bought Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion and filled an empty wipes container with extra washcloths I got at my baby shower. The best part is I have less of a mess with poopy diapers because I can just wash the wipes with the diapers. Easy peasy!

Now I was hooked. It was so easy, I started thinking about all of the other disposable products in my house. What about Ziploc bags? Paper towels? Napkins? How much money could I save if I had reusable versions instead? If  you think about it, you don't really have to go too far to find linen, cotton, bamboo, or hemp alternatives. Many Etsy stores sell unpaper towels for as little as $1/piece. Bear with me, as I'm not a math teacher... If you go through two rolls of paper towels a week, and a 12-pack costs $15, that's $1.25 per roll which would be $2.50/week. That comes out to about $130 a year. If you keep a stash of about 30, that's a savings of almost $100 just in the first year.
We pretty much hemorrhage Ziploc bags in our house, so I wondered how I could save by using reusable snack bags or Bento boxes for lunches. Planetwise actually sells snack bags in five different sizes/styles. (I'll have to get back to you on the math, but you could definitely replace hundreds of plastic snack bags every year.) And a Bento box is a great way to provide your kiddos (and yourself, if you bring lunch to work) with a waste-free lunch and save you about $250/year!

I personally love the idea of scratching these items off of my grocery list. It also helps to declutter the pantry. How much room does your bulk stash of paper towels take up? Do you have a drawer dedicated to five different types of snack bags? Wouldn't you love to use that precious storage space for something more important and less wasteful?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Four months already?

Dear Monkey,
     We're 1/3 of the way to your first birthday. Stop growing so fast! We saw the pediatrician on Thursday and you are 15lbs (75th percentile) and almost 24" (25th percentile) so you're a little short and a little chunky. I hate to break it to you kid, but I'm 5' 0" so you'll probably be short your whole life. It's not so bad. And you'll grow into those thunder thighs, I promise! You have a life full of fitness, health, and activity ahead of you, so while your genetics point to the possibility of being overweight as a teen and an adult, we won't let that happen.
     Well, I thought teaching high school came with a sharp learning curve, but you are putting my moody 17-year-old English students to shame! Every time I feel like we're getting into a routine, you change it up on me. Since I feed you on demand, you tell me whenever you're hungry, which apparently is every two hours. Even in the middle of the night! I'm going to have to buy some concealer to cover up the dark circles under my eyes. Since that is really the only complaint I have, I am going to count my blessings. Not every mommy is so lucky. And, really, is it so bad to have all that cuddle time with my little girl?
     I can already tell you are going to be too smart for your own good. Even at 18 weeks, I can't get anything past you! You are so alert and aware of your surroundings, it's a joy to watch you play. You flip the pages when Grandma reads you the peek-a-boo book, you grab everything in sight (and then of course, try to put it in your mouth), and you love blankies and toys that make crinkle noises. You've also discovered that you can make your own noises. You moved past blowing raspberries fairly quickly, and now you just prefer to screech whenever you get a chance. As long as you're happy while you're doing it, I don't mind. Every now and then, I'll catch you ranting and raving to Dolly (or really, any inanimate object who will listen) in a string of "da das" and "ba bas." Sometimes I wonder exactly what it is that you are saying, but I know soon enough you will tell me.
     It may not be a glamorous job all the time, especially after going 2-3 days without a shower and still smelling like dried spit-up. (You're welcome for the visual, by the way.) But it's my favorite job so far. I love being your mommy. I wouldn't trade you for anything in the world, baby girl.

<3, Mama

P.S. If you're wondering, I call you Monkey because of the silly noises you make when you get excited.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Good Makeup

I have been such a lazy blogger lately. Last night, my poor baby was waking up constantly until she finally conked out for a few hours at 8am. I am completely exhausted. I won't rant about the Army (not just yet) but it is really hard to take care of an unhappy baby at night when you are the only one who can get up with her. It's nights like last night that make me miss my tag team partner. :(

When I have these lazy days in which I barely make it out of my room, let alone the house, it makes every little bit of clutter that much more obvious. It's easy to see the pile of clothing or the stack of boxes, but the hidden clutter needs attention too. (Kind of an oxymoron, no? Hidden clutter?) When you attack the clutter you can't see, you make space for things you actually need.
My biggest weakness is my makeup trunk. Yeah, trunk. Once upon a time, I LOVED dressing up and wearing bright red lipstick with crazy eye shadow. Then I got a real job where I had to dress more conservatively. (It's sort of frowned upon to show up as a high school teacher looking like a student.) Then I had a kid and had absolutely no time for putting on a face. Now I have two gorgeous eye shadow palettes and three cosmetic cases full of designer product.
The Kiersten that put her big girl pants on today says, "You don't use it. You don't need it. Get rid of it." The louder, more emotional side says, "BUT! It's so pretty! And it was so expensive! And it doesn't really take up that much room." That last sentence is total denial on my part. My train case full of makeup takes up 40-50% of my counter space, depending on how much time I've had to put things away. I hate to see it go to waste, which is another reason I've held onto it for so long. Instead of just tossing it in the trash, I am going to put it up for adoption. I know a couple people who would love to give my Alice in Wonderland and Naked palettes a home (*cries*).

When you have an item you know you should get rid of, but don't want to throw it away (and you probably couldn't sell...) consider giving it to someone who could get better use out of it. My loss is my future sister-in-law's gain. :-D