mom find: mini pump

For all the breastfeeding (or soon-to-be) moms out there, this mom find is for you!  I saw this mini-breast pump, sometimes called a bullet pump, online and decided to give it a try.  It was pretty cheap, so I thought that I might as well check it out.  The pump is great!  There are many versions of this pump, I’m sure they are all the same, but this is the one I purchased: Silicone Breast Pump  Continue reading “mom find: mini pump”

mom find: travel potty

My son is now completely potty trained during the day (and pretty much asset night too)! Yay!  It was a serious struggle, but we made it through.  One of the hardest things about potty training is feeling like you need to close to a potty at all times.  If your child is anything like mine, they don’t give you much notice for when they need to go.  When they say your favorite words “I have to go potty!” they really mean…you have about 2 mins to get me to a potty.  How do these words make you so proud and terrified at the same time!?!?  HAHA!!! Depending on what your proximity is to a potty, you might cheer your child on or beg them to hold it for a few moments while you try to find the closest toilet. Continue reading “mom find: travel potty”

making your work commute work for you

Being a mom who works away from the home is pretty tough.  Luckily I am able to telework some days with my current position, but that still leaves a pretty long commute for me to and from work.  I live in the Atlanta area and traffic can be horrible…honestly it usually is horrible.  I did not really realize how bad it was until we moved and then a few months later I got a position where I was no longer able to ride the train to work.  Sigh.  I really struggled with the transition of starting a new position and gaining a new, very long commute.  Currently my commute can range from 40 mins to over an hour.  Here are a few tips that I have found to help me make it through the LONG hours in the car.

Audiobooks and podcasts

If you have not checked out either of these you’re missing out.  When I rode the train to work, I always had a book with me to read while riding.  When I switched to the car I realized I would have very little time to read anymore.  There is little to no time to read when I am home and my commute was the time I had carved out of my busy schedule to read.  I initially thought listening to audiobooks was not really reading so I held off on trying them out for a long time, but now I love them.  I listen to books on the way to work and I am still able to get my “reading” completed.  I usually get books from Audible, but I always check my libraries audiobooks first before making any purchases.  I was so surprised on find so many of the books I wanted to read were available for FREE from my library.  Make sure to check out your libraries site!  I was also able to find podcasts to listen to when I did not have a book available.  There are podcasts on almost every topic imaginable!  Look for your favorite topics from health to fitness to celebrities to social issues.  You can find anything and many of the apps to listen are FREE.

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Phone Calls

This might not seem like a big one, but I did not realize how awesome it is to have time to call friends and family with no interruptions.  I work pretty early in the morning, so most of my family and friends are asleep during this time and I listen to my books or podcasts.  I make most of my calls when I am driving home in the evening.  I call different people on different days.  Being a mom of a toddler, when I get home my son is all over me and ready to play.  There is no time to call friends or family and even if there is he is making all kinds of noise in the background…LOL!  My sister does the same thing and sometimes we talk while we are both commuting home.  I can instantly tell when she gets home because everyone is pulling her in different directions and she usually says, “I have to go now.”  The same is true for me, so I totally understand.  

Quiet time

This might seem obvious, but maybe it is not to everyone.  I rarely have quiet time at home.  When I have free time I usually catch up on chores or shows I may have missed.  Rarely do I just sit quietly and reflect.  During this time you can think about what you need to do at work that day or when you get home.  You can focus on anything that is causing you anxiety or stress or even pray.  You don’t even have to do this for your full commute, but taking a few minutes before you get to work or home can really help.  When you arrive at your destination, you can write down any “To Do” list items you come up with or anything you want to remember.  Keep your planner or a notebook close by to jot things down when you arrive.  Depending on if you have a phone with capabilities to do so (handsfree), you can also dictate things you need to do or remember so you will not forget.

GoogleMaps and Waze (or other mapping apps)

These two apps are my favorite and although they really don’t “help me get through my commute”, they definitely can make my commute shorter.  If you are not using one of these apps you should start, especially in high traffic areas.  Even though I know my usual route, these apps help to find the fastest way to get to my destination.  They are both real time so they have helped me avoid traffic and find the best route for the shortest trip to and from work. They are both easy to use and FREE.

Finally, always remember to travel safely.  All of the suggestions I have mentioned should be done when you have a hands-free device available.  Do not try to navigate through these apps while driving.  Set up your books, podcasts and maps before you leave so you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out your phone while you are driving.

What ideas and tips do you have to make your commute bearable?

❤ K

my sunday checklist

As a mom who works outside of the home, I have learned a few tips to help my week run a little smoother.  It is hard getting off to work each morning, but these few tips make my week so much easier.  It is amazing to think how much time I now have in the mornings and evenings during the week since implementing this list.

So my checklist includes several simple things.  My goal each weekend is to get these things done before Monday when I start work.  If it is a holiday Monday, I sometimes move my list to Monday.  This is my Sunday checklist.

  1. Meal prep:  I am all about meal prepping each week.  Not only does this make my morning routine quicker, it also helps me to eat healthier during the week.  I prep my breakfast, lunch, and two snacks for everyday I am working outside of the home that week.  I include everything needed in the meal (condiments, side items, etc.) in my meal prep, so in the morning I just grab and go with little, if any additional prep in the morning.  I purposely choose meals that will last for a full week so I don’t have to worry about prepping additional food later in the week.  I even prep my water bottle, since I carry a pretty big bottle and it takes a while to fill. 🙂
  2. Clothes: I try to pull all my outfits for the week (or at least 2-3 outfits to start the week).  This might even mean washing clothes to make sure I have the items I need for that week.  I have found this keeps me from having to wash during the week and in the morning I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear, which also saves time.  I just grab my outfit and get ready.  If you are not able to do a whole week of outfits, at least do a few days, but make sure you have an outfit ready for the next day each evening. This is a BIG time saver for me.
  3. Cleaning: I clean our kitchen, bathrooms, and some of the floors.  I straighten up in other rooms in the house as needed.  My husband helps with this as well.  We try to make sure all the bathrooms and the kitchen get a good clean.  Of course we also clean the kitchen during the week and the bathrooms, as needed.  It just makes me feel good knowing that we are starting the week fresh and clean. 🙂 Plus, if we have any visitors or guests during the week there is less stress and worry about trying to clean things at the last minute.  Having a weekly cleaning schedule really helps alleviate stress for me, plus I get to come home to a clean house.
  4. Change sheets, towels, etc.:  I change all the bedding and towels in the house at least once a week.  This kind of goes along with #3.  It just helps to have a schedule for doing this so I don’t have to think when were the sheets/towels changed?  I know, in general, they were changed last Sunday.  This goes along with starting the week off fresh.
  5. Update my planner/review my calendar: This lets me know what I have ahead of me for the week.  I usually try to do this before I plan my outfits for the week.  I can plan my outfits according to what is going on at work that week, plus I check the weather.
  6. Grocery shopping:  I do this before I meal prep, but this also helps so that we don’t have to run to the store in the middle of the week when we are both tired.  Occasionally, something is forgotten and a trip to the store is needed, but this cuts back on those trips by quite a bit.
  7. Family meeting: I will elaborate on this more in a later post, but a family meeting can help your family get on the same page before the week begins.
  8. Other items:  Depending on your commute and your family, you should prep any items you know you need for the week.  So if you have a long commute each week, you should make sure you have a full tank of gas.  That is one less thing to think about during the week.  If you have school aged kids, you should help them prep their book bags, clothes, and lunches for the week.  Similar to the prep you do for yourself, do it for your kids as well.  That way there is little thought for them in the morning either and this will help everyone’s morning run smoother.  Look for any items you might need for the week on Sunday night.  I HATE when I can’t find an item I am looking for on Monday morning.  I run around like a crazy person trying to find it and then I end up leaving the house later than planned.  It throws off my whole morning.  As much as possible, I try to prevent this by pulling out items I know I will need for the week and planning ahead either on Sunday or the night before during the week.

All of these items do not have to occur on Sunday.  Sometimes if I have a busy Saturday or just want to relax on Saturday, they will all be done on Sunday (it is possible).  It really just depends on how my weekend is going.  Saturday is usually our family day, so we try to focus more on doing things with our family and getting out of the house, so most Sundays this is my checklist.  If I am exhausted, traveling, or have a busy Sunday, some items might not get done, but this is my goal checklist and I try to do what I can and prioritize other items for later in the week.

What items do you include on your checklist that help you have a better week?

❤ K

Best Jeans for Kids

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I have been looking for the best jeans for my kids that are cost effective yet durable since my kids play hard. After searching high and low I have ranked the best jeans for your money.

  1. The Children’s Place – they have jeans that are $7.99 pretty much every day of the week. They claim it is a “sale” price yet the sale never ends. They have skinny, straight and bootcut pants options which are good for kids of all sizes. My son is very skinny and the slim jeans fit him rather nicely. They aren’t too tight and they aren’t too baggy. For the price of $7.99 it can’t be beat.
  2. H&M – if you have an H&M near you they are the 2nd best option. They provide the slim look that all the kids are crazy about these days and they are only $9.99.
  3. Old Navy – everyone pretty much has an Old Navy close to them. The sale price of their jeans typically falls right around $10 but you must catch them at the right times. Like The Children’s Place, they offer the different styles that will fit your kid just right.
  4. Crazy 8 – what I like about them is their Rockstar jeans. They have the perfect fit to them and my son looked absolutely amazing in them, he even won best dressed at his football banquet when having them on. What puts them at number 4 is only because of the higher price of $12 which isn’t really even high at all.

For my parents with kids out of the child sizing (5-14) I believe one of the top stores for girls is Forever 21. They have skinny jeans that come in at the low low price of $7.99. You aren’t going to find that price for adult jeans anywhere. For those with the older boys, I will have to recommend Old Navy as they tend to have more sales than most places and the jeans are offered in multiple styles. If your child likes the distressed look you can also easily YouTube how to do it yourself so you aren’t paying an arm and a leg.

Happy Shopping 🙂

❤ A

Cloth Diapers 101

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, who is now 3, I decided I wanted to do cloth diapers.  I have been asked by multiple people about my decision to use cloth diapers.  Initially when I told people that my husband and I planned to use cloth diapers people thought we were crazy.  We were asked why and told that we would probably give up on it, but we used cloth diapers up until my son began potty training.  I also plan to reuse my diapers with my second child.

Here are a few of my tips and lessons learned…

I decided I wanted to use cloth diapers mostly because I try to live a green lifestyle and I knew they could save us money in the long run.  Once we found out we were pregnant I told my husband I would like to try cloth diapers…he was not on board initially.  I think most people picture the old school cloth diapers (that many people now use as burp clothes) with pins and rubber pants.  Cloth diapers have come a LONG way.  I showed my husband the new cloth diapers and explained how they worked, then he agreed to give them a try.  I began researching cloth diapers and spoke to a friend that had tried out several diapers to see what she recommended.  We decided on the bumGenius Freetime All-in-one One-size cloth diaper.  I picked these because I thought they would be the easiest to use, although they are more expensive than other diapers with inserts.  The Freetime diapers are one-size, so they fit babies weighing 8 – 35 lbs and they are considered all-in-one because there are no inserts to use or extra pieces. They also come in a lot of cool colors!

Some of my tips are:

1) Be prepared if your baby is not 8 lbs at birth.  Our son was not so we decided to use disposable diapers until he could fit the cloth diapers.  It took about 2-3 weeks.  Some people choose to buy the newborn size, which is also an option if you don’t want to use disposable diapers at all.

2) GET A DIAPER SPRAYER!  I had never heard of these until my friend told me.  bumGenius makes a great one that I use.  You use a diaper sprayer to clean the diapers over the toilet so you don’t have to dunk your diapers in the toilet to clean poop.  The sprayer works kind of like the sprayer that is on your sink.  It is great for infant diapers since there poop can’t really be caught with diaper liners.  Diaper liners can be used once the baby begins eating solid food.  Then you can toss the poop and liner in the toilet and flush.  I used Baby Sydie Liners (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HV6GXS4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  

3) The sun can remove almost any stain or dinginess from your diapers.  I read this online and didn’t believe it.  After you wash your diapers there are stains sometimes, even though they are clean…similar to a clothing stain that won’t come out.  If you lay your diapers in the sun (inside or outside) to dry the stains will come out.  I typically dry my diapers outside on nice days because they dry quicker. I have been able to remove all of my stains so far just using sunlight.  You can also spray a little lemon juice on stubborn stains.

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4) Depending on the diaper you choose, you can’t use regular detergent.  You can make your own diaper detergent.  I found a diaper detergent recipe online that I liked.  Of course, you can always buy detergent from the bumGenius or other cloth diaper brands.  I also tried Nellie’s Laundry Soda (https://www.amazon.com/Nellies-NLS-50-Natural-Laundry-Soda/dp/B001BYBHHE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483490973&sr=8-2&keywords=nellies+laundry+soda).  I started using this when I didn’t want to continue to make detergent.  For really stubborn stains on diapers (or my son’s clothes), I used the Buncha Farmers Natural Stain Remover Stick (https://www.amazon.com/BUNCHA-FARMERS-NATURAL-BIODEGRADABLE-REMOVER/dp/B00CBSMXNQ).  This stick is great on ALL stains, so I recommend it even if you are not cloth diapering.  I was able to get almost all stains out of my son’s clothes.

5) Purchase a few wet bags to store your diapers until they are ready to wash.  I purchased one large wet bag and two smaller ones to send to daycare and to use around the house.  My grandmother also made me two smaller ones that I have been keeping in the diaper bag.  It turned out that my son’s daycare didn’t use the wetbags and would just put the diapers in a plastic grocery bag, so two smaller bags might not be necessary.

6) As your child gets older, consider additional inserts for night time diaper use.  I used Thirsties Hemp Inserts (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002FB7FLY/ref=pe_385040_188349810_pd_te_s_rp_ti/189-4948380-3194815).  They worked great as my son got older and was wetting more at night.

7) Look for sales!  As I said above, cloth diapers are expensive, but they are cheaper in the long run…especially if you use them for more than one child.  I was able to get all my diapers when they were on sale through the Cottonbabies site and Target. You could also include the diapers on your baby registry if you are having a shower.

Some other items you will need are a drying rack or clothes line and clothes pins.

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You will usually wash diapers every 2 – 3 days depending on the number of diapers you have and how many your child uses in a day. I have 24 diapers and I usually wash every 3 days. You probably don’t want to keep diapers dirty much longer than that because it is not good for the diapers. You could also consider a diaper service which is an additional cost (could include on your registry as well) if you did not want to wash.

My son was so cute in his cloth diapers!!

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If you have any cloth diapering questions or experiences, please share!

❤ K

 

make your own baby food

When my son was a baby, I liked to prep meals for him as well.  I pretty much made all of his baby food, except when we were traveling.  He LOVED to eat and I made his food from the beginning.  I plan to do the same thing with our next child.  One of my shower gifts was a Baby Bullet and I definitely put it to work.  It is easier than you might think to prepare healthy meals for your baby and you don’t have to own a Baby Bullet to do it.

My husband and I like to eat organic as much as possible, so we wanted our son to eat organic as well.  As many of you know, organic baby food can be pretty pricey, but making your own food makes it very affordable.

We started with a brown rice cereal and then moved on to avocado, bananas, peas, pears, apples, squash, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.  All of these foods are great foods to start your baby’s eating journey.

As they grow older you can try asparagus, carrots, green beans, white potatoes, oatmeal, and peaches, as well as other veggies and meats.  You want to stay away from honey, peanut butter, citrus fruits, raw berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), egg whites, whole milk, and shellfish/crustaceans.

To make your foods you need either a good blender, food processor, or some sort of food grinder/masher.  For my son, we usually did a brown rice cereal mixed with a fruit and/or veggie.  To make brown rice cereal you will grind the rice up into a fine powder with your blender and then cook, similar to regular rice, with water on the stove (1/2 cup rice to 4 cups water).  You can add more or less water to change the consistency.

I liked to make big batches of the food to last for a few weeks.  Fresh food in the fridge will last for about 3 days, but food in the freezer will last about a month.  To store my food I used my Baby Bullet containers, but since I made such large batches I also use ice cube trays.  These are a great way to store exactly one serving of food.  Plus once your baby begins to eat more you can give them different foods at one meal, such as a fruit and a veggie cube.  I liked to make two fruits and two veggies, plus rice cereal at one time.  That way and I could mix up different flavors and my son didn’t have to eat the same food everyday.

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Here are some recipes for beginning foods:

Bananas – 1 banana to 1/4 cup water (blend)

Sweet Potatoes – 1 peeled, steamed potato to 1 cup water (I used the water leftover after steaming since it has some of the nutrients from the veggies in it).

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Zucchini – 1 steamed zucchini to 1/4 cup water

Pears – 1 steamed, peeled pear to 1/4 cup water

Peas – 1 steamed cup peas to 1/4 cup water

Squash – 1 steamed squash (remove tips) to 1/4 cup water

Apples – 1 steamed, peeled apple to 1/4 cup water

Avocado – 1 peeled and pitted avocado to 1/4 cup water

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(Note: for all foods you can add more or less water to change the consistency)

With all of these foods you will add them to your blender and then blend until they are smooth.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes?

❤ K

 

Back to Work as a New Mom

I recently had a baby in October where I took a nice 12 weeks of maternity leave. Coming back to work has been a major change for me. I thought it would be helpful to provide new moms with information to help with the transition.

  1. Try to get your baby on a schedule in the beginning. There are many different books and websites that will give you ideas on how to have a good schedule. This will make things easier when you return to work because you will not have sleepless night where you have to wake up and make it through an 8 hours work day.
  2. Check with your job regarding pumping options. Make sure you know exactly how your job works if you are plan to continue breastfeeding when you return to work. You will need to have a schedule and know if your employer has a shared space or any space at all. You will also need to let your manager know your pumping plan/schedule especially if you work for a place that isn’t very familiar with breastfeeding moms.
  3. Check your options for free pumps. Currently a free electric pump can be received if you have insurance. Look at the pump options and if you have choices make sure you get the one with the best reviews that work for your pumping style. I have become more interested in hands free breast pumps because it makes it a lot easier if you are trying to do anything else while you are pumping.
  4. Make sure you are eating well and have snacks to last throughout the day. This is especially important if you are pumping during the day. Pumping burns a lot of calories and if you aren’t eating right you may lose your production and nutrients in your milk.
  5. Find a daycare that has hours that work for you, people that you trust with your baby, and things that are important to you (camera, in-home, center, uses cloth diapers, works with breastmilk).

I hope all the new moms have success in their transition back to work. Leaving your baby is never easy so making sure you have a smooth transition is always helpful.

❤ A 

ultimate baby registry list

Recently, I was speaking with my cousin and sister about my baby must haves and I wrote a pretty lengthy list.  I decided this would be great to share with you as well.  Although this list is kind of long, most of these items you will get at your shower, or are pretty inexpensive to buy.  The items I believe are essentials are in BOLD: Continue reading “ultimate baby registry list”

gift ideas for expectant moms

Ok, here are a few more gift ideas that are focused on the expectant mom or the new moms that you may know.  One item is the Belly Book, an awesome and fun way to track your pregnancy and the other item is the Ergobaby…in my opinion THE BEST baby carrier. Continue reading “gift ideas for expectant moms”