Saturday, August 31, 2013

Daily Deals and WFH Pages No Longer Available

You may have noticed I have removed a few pages from the blog site.  This is so I can devote more of my time to blogging about things that may interest you as well as finding neat contests to add to our win page.  The work from home and daily deals pages were not generating a lot of buzz so I've decided to forgo them.  Please understand that I work full time on top of writing/maintaining this blog and I want to ensure that my followers are receiving good content in a timely fashion.  If you have any questions or want to know what sites I was using to populate those pages, please comment below and I will respond.  Thanks for understanding!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Timeout - yay or nay?!

Recently I read the following articles regarding time-out:

My son is 22 months (almost 23 months!) and so far I haven't implemented any kind of formal discipline policy with him.  I am very on top of positive reinforcement in terms of "good job buddy", hugs, head pats, smiles & eye contact when he does something that pleases me or follows direction.  As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes in the heat of the moment I do spank him (never very hard - he mostly just looks at me like "what was that for?") - usually this occurs when he does something he's been told "no" on several times before, he's endangering his physical safety (i.e. running into the street) or he's made a huge mess (spilled shampoo all over the floor).  Usually afterwards, I immediately feel guilty, hug him and explain "no hunny, shampoo stays in the bottle, it doesn't go on the floor" or something like that.

After reading these articles, I think I'm going to give time-out a try.  If you have any suggestions about how to introduce time-out, please let me know.  Obviously since he's only almost 2, it will be a very short timeout, but I'm hoping that over time these time outs will reinforce positive behavior.  I'll keep you updated on how it's going and I hope these resources help you as well.  Do you have any tips on how to reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't wash your chicken!

So I recently came across this article by Newsworks: Drexel food safety experts on a mission to stop cooks from washing chicken.

Let me just start by saying: EWWWW!!!  For your added entertainment, I'm also linking this awesome graphic they have: Germ Vision.

I can honestly say this valuable cooking lesson has NEVER been communicated to me EVER.  I have always rinsed my chicken off after removing from the package to de-gunk it before cooking.

After reading this article (and especially viewing the graphic), I will forevermore be a person who does NOT rinse their chicken prior to cooking.  Straight in the pan with you pollo!!

Did this gross anyone else out?!

PS - As a side note, I basically wiped by entire sink and counter region (plus cabinets and floor) with high grade cleaner.  Chicken and it's associated nastiness freaks me out, lol.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Being all things all the time

Recently I read this great post by fellow blogger Emily Bennington on her blog Daily Worth: Having it all doesn't mean doing it all and, as a working mother, I felt better after reading it.

For some reason, when I became a mother (or better yet when I was mostly just pregnant) - I thought I could really "have it all".  I thought I could just return to my career and continue to excel and move up the chain all the while having my new son at home where I could enjoy him every moment I wasn't at work.

Well my son came and he and I had 12 wonderful weeks to bond, then it was back to work - as a professional accountant working in a top 4 public firm, that meant a lot of OT.  Returning to work in mid-Jan was also poor timing as this is when accounting firms are often the busiest.  Needless to say, the first few weeks at work were horrible for me. 

I was lucky in the sense that my mother-in-law (MIL) was watching my son instead of me enrolling him in traditional daycare - she would show up at my house shortly before it was time for me to go to work and hangout for a bit before loading up my son and going to her place (about 40 min away).  However, working 8:30 am - 8:30 pm can quickly drain a person - let alone the mother of a newborn.  My work had lactation rooms so about 3-4 times a day, I would take a 20 minute pumping break, but even this didn't allow me to keep up with my son's demand.  He was exclusively breastfed (EBF) for 4 months and then we had to start supplementing with formula.  By 7 months, I just wasn't keeping up with him and we decided to wean.

Getting off at 8:30 pm and not getting home until 9-9:15 pm meant zero face time with my son aside from middle of the night and early morning feedings.  I was a mess - some nights I would drive home just crying because I had realized - I really couldn't have it all (granted, fading pregnancy hormones also probably played a role in this).  I couldn't' be this perfect employee and a perfect mother, I just couldn't.

Now my son is 22 months old.  I have a different job in the private sector - still demanding, still with peak times where occasional overtime is required, but nothing like where I was before.  My son attends traditional daycare with loads of other kids.  My life is -slowly- reaching a balance.  I can't spend every moment with my son, but I can make the most of the moments we have.  For the most part, I am his from the time we get home until the time he goes to sleep - granted, there are days when I give him a snack, curl up on the couch in front of the TV and let him run around with his toys, but for the most part - I'm engaged with him in the evenings, that's our time together.

Now I just need to try to find a balance to include: (1) time for me; (2) time for my husband & I as a couple and (3) time for my friends ...

I'm slowly working on (1) & (2) - hubs & I spend at least 30 minutes hanging out and talking - catching up on the nights he's not working and I'm getting back into my hobbies - blogging, reading, cooking new things.  Hubs & I have also committed to one child-free vacation a year.  Number (3) is going to take some time I think, but that's because so many of my friends just aren't at the "kid" stage yet.  I need to realize it's ok to occasionally hire a babysitter and go for a girl's night out - and I'm working on that.  I guess at the end of the day, my son has become one of my best friends - and I'm ok with that too.

How do you "handle it all"?

Have you discovered KiwiCrate yet?

By now I'm sure you've heard of the crate or box monthly phenomenon that is sweeping the internet.  Basically you sign up (for a monthly fee) and every month a box full of goodies arrives at your door for your enjoyment.  Well, Kiwi Crate is that - for kids!  Every month you get a new box with a project for your youngster.  Let me start off by saying, I am not a member of Kiwi Crate - my son is only 2; however I can see this being something I may sign up for in the future when he's a bit older and we're able to sit down and do the monthly projects together.

That being said, Kiwi Crate has great things on their site to help parents and things that are just fun!

For example:
  • Get these super cute Back to School Lunch Notes that you can print and include in your child's lunch.
  • Is your child tired of the same ole same ole when it comes to their lunch?  Give the Kiwi Crate Week Long Lunch Menu a try.  Includes recipes and even a shopping list to make it easy on the parents.
If you sign up for their email list, you'll be included in the emails that send out these neat items that Kiwi Crate is offering - and yes, they're free!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More Car Seat Tips

Car seat safety cannot be over-done or over-stressed.  If you're a parent who is interested in the welfare of their child - then this is important to you.  Car seat safety is of the utmost importance to me - primarily because I'm a type-A control freak and this is one area where I ultimately have no control.  I am a safe driver, however I don't know anything about the hundreds of cars around me on a daily basis - it only takes one person, doing something dumb to change my (and possibly my son's life) forever.  Therefore, I arm myself with knowledge and a quality car seat, installed properly with him seated in it correctly (and never in a winter coat).

Recently there was this good article summarizing 9 basic car seat rules: 9 Life Saving Car Seat Rules You're Probably Ignoring.  Christie Haskell does a good job pointing out a lot of "duh" things that perhaps parents are just unaware of (i.e. chest clip placement, reading your car seats manual, etc). (great reference site with forum!) has also released this super easy (and quick) document called Quick Check List for Safety Seat Misuse.

I highly recommend all parents occasionally check the tightness of LATCH straps or seatbelts and ensure child is as snug as possible in seat every time you put your child in - these small steps could save your child's life.  Obviously my #1 tip is to thoroughly read your manual and get any questions you have answered to ensure that your seat is installed correctly - doesn't matter what brand of seat you have or how much you spent on it, if your car seat is installed correctly, it will perform correctly in the event of a crash.

For more on car seats see our previous post: Car Seat Safety

Monday, August 19, 2013

High protein, low-carb diet plan

A few weeks back my co-worker mentioned he was going to start a high protein, low-carb diet.  I said "what the heck, I'll do it with you!" because I know it's easier when you have support and someone doing the same thing you're trying to do.

First off, a bit about my dieting background.  Basically, I'm a horrible dieter.  In the past, I've tried South Beach and Jenny Craig 2-3 different times.  I had like zero success on South Beach - with Jenny I had success, but the program (and food) are super expensive.

Now, I'm not ridiculously overweight - according to the BMI chart for my height (5'5") I should weigh somewhere between 115-145 to be in the normal zone.  Before starting this diet I weighed 150 lbs - the main reason I was at that weight was due to having my son and never being able to figure out how to balance eating right & working out since he came along.  When I got pregnant I weighed about 135 lbs - so compared to some mamas only holding onto 15 lbs wasn't so bad, but I knew I would feel better and enjoy life more if it was gone.  My original goal when I started this diet was to get back to 135, but since it's been going so well, my new goal is 130 - smack in the middle of my healthy BMI zone.  If it goes REALLY well, then I may try to knock another 5 lbs off after that as room to "float" between weights.

Some background on my eating history - I'm generally an everything in moderation kind of girl, though I will admit my Italian genes get the best of me sometimes because I LOVE pasta (and basically any dessert ever invented).  I also had a really bad soda habit (like REALLY bad) as I was drinking 3-4 Mountain Dews a day when I started.  Honestly my bad soda habit was another reason I was motivated to try this diet - I "knew" I was basically putting poison in my body every time I drank one, but I just couldn't seem to help it.  I thought I needed the caffeine to get through the day - turns out, I was wrong.

And FINALLY - my results thus far: it's been 3 weeks since I started this diet and I've lost 8 lbs, my goal is 10 lbs in a month, which will be the best dieting results I've ever seen on any diet.  I will keep you apprised as I continue on my dieting journey and when I (hopefully) reach my goal.

My reasoning as to why this diet works - with a lot of diets you can have things "in moderation" - that often leads to trouble because you're simply not satisfied.  With this diet, there is none of that - there is only "don't eat/drink that" and then "now eat as much of this stuff as you want".  Now this may sound even more difficult to accomplish, but surprisingly it wasn't (for me anyways) - it was easier to give something up completely then to be "allowed" to have a smidge of the amount I would normally eat.  This has also allowed my body to detox and honestly now when I have a small bite of something I shouldn't, I really don't want any more (usually because it's something processed).  I will admit - you do need to have decent willpower over yourself and what you put in your body.  If you don't, you will not be successful.  I still have to buy snacks, bread, chips, rice & pasta in my house because I'm feeding others - BUT I don't eat any of it (not yet anyways... you'll see, once you reach your goal, you can start reintroducing items).

Ok so the diet itself - my co-worker and I are using the following book: Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet: A Weight Loss Plan for Real Women

The basic premise is high protein, low/no carb, no sugar, no caffeine ... and yes, no alcohol (but only for the first 2 weeks).  Don't be discouraged about the no sugar thing - see my post (COMING SOON!) on these yummy no carb/low sugar desserts I've made (and eaten!) while on this diet.

The diet starts out by recommending a lot of supplements mainly because during the first two weeks your body will be detoxing - I'm not going to lie, yes - you will feel it.  Your energy levels will wan a bit and, if you're like me, you may get horrible headaches for 3-4 days.  This is your body purging all that sugar/caffeine you've been constantly putting it for however many years.  The only supplements I'm taking are: a good multivitamin or prenatal, fiber pills and whey protein powder (start with 2 lbs to find a flavor you like, I also add 3-4 ice cubes to mine to froth it up a bit - more milkshake like).  I have a new love of protein shakes, they're yummy and very filling - they're great for me too because I generally just don't like having a glass of milk (I'm using a chocolate flavor and my shakes taste like malt shakes, so yummy!).

The hardest part of the diet for me thus far has been the 3-4 days of horrible headaches I had while my body was detoxing.  I powered through it and honestly, that has been some of the biggest motivation for me not to cheat on the diet - I know one soda or one cupcake and I may have to go through a few days of that again when I get back on track - yea ... no thanks.  Since I started this diet 3 weeks ago I have only had water (flavored with Crystal Light) or milk (with my protein shakes) to drink.  That's it.  At work we have free soda for employees, but it hasn't been that hard for me to avoid it - I keep a two quart jug in the non-soda fridge and keep it full of Crystal Light.  After I lose a few more pounds, I'm going to start trying water infusions of natural fruits to wean myself off the Crystal Light (which is also all fake), but I just don't like plain water much.

Ok - so now you're like "c'mon get to the good part!" - well here is "the plan" more or less for the first two weeks.  If I see comments below that it's working for people, I'll add a post on what to do after the first two weeks.  For the most part, I'm sticking to the original two week plan until I more or less hit goal.  After two weeks you're supposed to start re-introducing items into your diet again now that you've detoxed your body - but I'd prefer not to hit a plateau until I'm closer to goal.

So here's what NOT to have in your home (if you can help it - however DO NOT eat any of these items):

  • Cookies and chocolate bars
  • Any cold drink that isn't water
  • Any hot drink that isn't decaf tea or coffee - or herbal tea
  • Anything containing sugar (check the label - weird things contain sugar like mayo and balsamic vinegar)
  • All pasta
  • All potatoes and potato-based products including those containing potato flour (which is found in frozen meals)
  • Anything containing wheat (i.e. flour) whether it's sweet or savory
  • Any oil that isn't olive or peanut
  • Any fruit (just for the first two weeks - to eliminate sugar from your body)
  • Any legumes (lentils, chickpeas and the like)
OK - here you go, this is what you CAN eat (and eat as much as you want!):
  • Meat - any kind including roasts, ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, steak, chicken, sausages (quality only, cheap ones all full of bready fillers).  Check that bacon isn't cured with sugar.
  • Eggs - the book says organic free range eggs only, but I've been eating regular eggs
  • Fish - any kind you like, in whatever format (this includes canned tuna)
  • Mayo (just make sure it's not loaded with sugar)
  • Olive oil & peanut oil - hazelnut oil too!
  • Whatever vinegar you like aside from balsamic
  • Peanut butter with no added sugar - again book stresses organic, but I use JIF
  • Heavy cream (yes, for real!)
  • Butter (again, yes for real!)
  • Herbs and spices
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Nuts - any kind provided they're natural with no added sugar; however if you have a habit of putting an entire jar of nuts away in one sitting - skip the nuts
  • Any vegetables you like - excluding potatoes, carrots, corn and peas (too carby at this stage).  The best vegetables for the diet (and in general) are green, leafy ones.  Also, eat onions in moderation.
  • Avocados
  • Lemons & limes
  • All sorts of cheese
  • Mineral water - or any kind of water
LASTLY - do not buy low-carb products, no bars, no shakes - nothing.

Diet day 1:
  • Weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you've pooed (if you need to)
  • Take measurements (I skipped this step)
  • Now go!
Golden rules:
  • Drink at least 8 large glasses of water a day.
  • You must have breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Eat a combination of good fats & protein at every meal.
  • Don't make the mistake of thinking that "dieting" means "low-fat".
  • Have a couple of handfuls of salad leaves or other leafy green veg every day.
  • Get off your backside at least once a day (more below).
  • Take your supplements (I'm kind of meh on this point).
  • Only weigh yourself once a week (if I'm honest, I do it daily, but only count Sunday's weigh in as weight lost - I don't care about fluctuations in ounces).
  • Use a tape measure as well as the scale
It's that easy - you're not restricted on the amount of food you intake as long as it's from the above list of approved items.  Honestly, I'm pretty sure my stomach has shrunk because I don't eat nearly as much as I used to and protein seems to keep me fuller, longer.  

Last note: exercise is necessary.  I'm not talking 2 hours at the gym everyday, but 30 minutes of speed walking around your neighborhood at least 5x a week isn't completely un-doable (especially if you have kids or a dog).  The protein in your body will help you loose weight even more quickly if you can get your heart rate going.  I've been either going for a light (less than 1 mile) jog around my neighborhood or throwing my 27 lb son in his Ergo baby carrier and power walking the same distance.  In 2 days with following the diet and taking a walk with my son, I lost 1.5 lbs.  Yes, I am in love with this diet.

Since the list may make it seem kind of hard to figure out what to eat, I am including a sample "week" below of what I've been eating, I like to mix it up.

Sorry for the longest post in the history of blogging, but I've had people asking me how I'm doing it - well this is how.  If you give it a try - please let me know how it goes for you!!  Feel free to share this post with your friends.

  • Breakfast: protein shake
  • Lunch: sandwich meat & cheese - I roll them so they look kind of like cheese sticks.  I use a variety: turkey, ham, salami and I love muenster cheese.
  • Snack: handful of almonds
  • Dinner: taco salad (beef, seasoning, lettuce, tomato, cheese)
  • Water intake: 8-12 glasses everyday (water will help keep you full!)
  • Breakfast: two scrambled eggs with cheese & 2 sausage links
  • Lunch: cheeseburger (no bun) and side salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese)
  • Dinner: artichoke chicken (baked chicken with rosemary seasoning topped with artichokes & Parmesan cheese) and green bean casserole
  • Dessert: protein shake (hey - they taste like malt shakes, why not?)
  • Breakfast: protein shake
  • Lunch: leftovers from dinner from either Mon/Tues
  • Snack: handful of almonds
  • Dinner: beef casserole (no noddles for me) - beef stew chunks, mushrooms, onion soup, can of cream of mushroom soup in crockpot for 7-8 hours - I cook egg noodles for my boys, but I just eat the beef stew straight.
  • Dessert: slice of carb free pumpkin/praline pie
  • Breakfast: two scrambled eggs with cheese & 2 slices bacon
  • Lunch: sandwich meat & cheese
  • Snack: handful of almonds
  • Dinner: beef kabobs - sirloin beef, onion, green pepper, cherry tomatoes - I made a side of rice for my boys and I just ate a kabob
  • Breakfast: protein shake
  • Lunch: I splurged and went to TGI Fridays - ordered a cheeseburger (no bun) and a side of broccoli, yummy!
  • Dinner: Baked chicken breast with seasoning and green bean casserole (I made a big batch on Sunday to use as a side whenever I needed one)
  • Dessert: Low-carb cheesecake
I would recommend not introducing these fun, low-carb desserts until after the two week detox window.  It's really not as hard as it sounds.  When I'm in a pinch and craving something sweet at home, I honestly usually have a chocolate protein shake and that takes care of it (I wasn't kidding when I said they were yummy) - I get my chocolate fix.  If I'm hungry and my eyes are grazing to what's "easy" because I don't feel like cooking something, I'll usually have a cheesestick or a hotdog with ketchup (make sure low sugar) - I buy the higher end angus beef hotdogs, not the ones full of filler.  You can do this.  Have the supplies in your fridge and pre-cook or pre-prepare - it really helps you stay on track.  On Sunday, I made a batch of green bean casserole to last me through the week and sometimes I just heated up a bowl of that as a snack because it was quick.  It helps to have stuff readily available when you just want a small snack (because that's when you can get into trouble).

Wishing you all the best of luck!!!  Let me know how it goes!

What does it mean to be a mindful parent?

Ever come home from work dog tired only to have your 2 year old spill an entire box of Cheerios on the floor?  Welcome to parenthood!  On the weekend, I am super flexible with my son in his curiosity and exploration of our home and all it has to offer.  On the weekdays ... not sure much.  Usually after I do any kind of harsh scolding, I immediately regret it and think there was probably a learning moment there for both of us, but often - as parents - we get so caught up in everything that's going on (work, dishes, laundry, dinner, where's the husband?, what's the toddle into now?, etc etc etc) that our patience wears thin and our temper appears.

There's a great new article (and workshop!) available on Huffington Post titled Mindful Parenting: Introducing Our New Stress-Less Parenting Workshop with Carla Naumburg.  I went ahead and signed up for her "Stress-Less Parenting" workshop and am looking forward to Carla's weekly email.

The main takeaways I got out of this article were:

  • The problem is not your child - your child is exhibiting perfectly natural behavior, the problem is you and how you choose to respond to your child's behavior.
  • Mindful parenting is about doing things purposefully, rather than letting our emotions (and stress, anxiety, or frustration) dictate our responses to challenges that arise.
  • Be aware of your feelings and your child's perspective.
  • Mindful parenting is about tuning into how you feel so you can make a thoughtful choice about how to respond to your children, rather than mindlessly reacting to them.
What are your thoughts on mindful parenting?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What mom's really want!

If you're anything like me - you're constantly trying to find the balance between work and family life.  There are at least 10x a week when I have the thought "gee I wish I could work part time".  Between keeping house, laundry, meals - not to mention actually interacting with my family ON TOP of a 40 hour work week - well yea, I go to bed about an hour after my 2 year old every night.  I'm not "really" complaining - it's my life, I chose it.  I do, however, wish there were alternatives.  The truth is to maintain our standard of living, currently I am required to work full time and I have to make my family life work with that.  Someday I hope to be able to establish my own business where I can control the amount of income I make as well as the hours I devote to it - but that day remains in the future.  Huffington Post featured an article titled What Mothers Really Want: To Opt In Between and in it they cite a Hulafrog study that is basically spot on with my feelings regarding work/life balance.  I am posting the inforgraphic below.  I'm curious to see where others stand on this issue - let me know your thoughts!

Easy (and beneficial) exercise for mamas who work

Yoga is wonderful - it's all about taking a break out your crazy day and for 30-60 minutes just being in tune with "you".  Yoga can also have several health benefits and is a good source of stretching and strength training.  If you're like me, getting to the gym is basically impossible - between work and caring for my two year old son, I don't have time for actual yoga classes (though I wish I did!).  Everyday I try to do a combination of yoga poses/stretches for two reasons: (1) to have a little "me" time and (2) because I know my body is basically stagnant during the day at work (I have one of those traditional "desk jobs").  Huffington Post released this great article for mom's like me who have no time for the gym: 12 Yoga Poses to Undo the Damage of Your Desk Job.  I highly recommend other moms give it a read and try to incorporate into their daily routine.  My personal recommendation: try to take 15 minutes first thing in the morning and 15 minutes right before bed.  If you're not a morning person, try to do 30 minutes before bed.  You don't need to do all the moves everyday, but try to mix it up as each move is designed to stretch a different part of the body.  Good luck!!  Let me know if this helps you at all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

GREAT video to get your kids to watch about internet safety!

HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Great Video on Internet Safety

Don't just try to hover over your kids and what they're doing on the internet - teach them to use the internet responsibly and what it can mean once information is out on the internet.

7 Secrets of Highly Happy Children

Today I read an article over at Huffington Post called 7 Secrets of Highly Happy Children and it got me thinking about how I interact with my son.  I agree with every point in the article and recommend you give it a read.  Reflecting on my parenting adventure thus far, I would say the main lesson my son has taught me is that you have to be engaged in the parenting process.  Yes, sometimes after work all you want to do is plop down on the couch for an hour and watch TV - however your toddler may have other plans or yell or cry to be noticed by you.  Turning the TV off and sitting on the floor, talking to your child, reading books, singing and just being silly can be as much of an escape as that hour of zoning out in front of the TV.  Time passes even more easily when you're engaged with your baby/toddler and they are aware that they have 100% (or even 50% while you're trying to cook dinner) of your attention.  There is less fussing and more fun.  Give it a try - let me know how it works out for you.  Generally in our house, the parents don't get to "chill out and watch TV" until after our 2 year old son is in bed and that's ok for us - it also helps us sleep better at night since we're exhausted from running around with him. :)

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Impeach the President? Like we've got nothing better to do ...

Articles like this really get my ire up.  Today CNN posted the following article: GOP Rep.: House 'could probably get the votes' to impeach Obama.

First off, let me just say - I am SO over hearing about this.  In this day and age (and with all the technology we have available at our finger tips) - there is no way the birth of a presidential candidate wasn't 100% vetted and confirmed prior to him even running for President.

Secondly, regardless of whether or not you like him - the American people elected Obama as President for not 1, but 2 terms.  The GOP needs to get over it.  If they want to start focusing on candidates for the 2016 election, that's one thing, but quit wasting the American people's time and hard earned money talking about impeaching Obama because you don't believe he was born in the United States - obviously the people that voted for him don't really care.

Lastly, every time this comes up - it costs Americans money.  The more the GOP sit around and talk about Obama and his birth, the less time they're sitting around and talking about issues that matter.  Issues like reducing the deficit, bettering education and the working environment for Americans and their families, immigration, approaching sequestration - ALL of these issues are more important than whether or not Obama was born in the U.S.

I'd be curious to hear what others think about this - do you believe Obama's birth matters and why or do you believe it's all just a big waste of time and money?

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Parenting humor ...

My other mom friends are constantly linking hilarious things regarding parenting so I thought I would share a few of them here with you.

Has anyone ever heard of the CTFD method of parenting?  I highly recommend you give it a read here.  David Vienna does a great job summarizing that parents just need to chill out sometimes.  As long as you love your child and are doing the best you can do for them - you're a good parent.

As a follow up to this awesome article, I found this great graphic:

Since I've become a parent, I've often noticed that I'm constantly comparing myself as a mother & parent to other parents.  "Oh, they're doing such and such, should I be doing that too?"  The truth is: there is no perfect formula out there on how to be a perfect parent and raise perfect children - we're all just mucking through it the best we can.  Have I learned things with my first that I'll do differently with my second?  Sure, but that's life - making mistakes, making changes and figuring things out as you go.

Second note to this graphic, I've noticed there is often a lot of judgment among parents (I, myself, have occasionally been guilty of it), but we need to remember that every family (and family situation) is different and parents are just doing what they can and what they believe is best for their children.  As observers (and people who may not have all the facts), we need to respect others decisions on how they raise their children, not judge them.  I also think all the differences in how we raise children are a positive, because as our children make friends they're exposed to different belief systems and different things - thus further expanding their world.

And to wrap up this post I was recently linked this funny article: 10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons to Breastfeed.  I really have nothing to say about it as the article does a great job, but I highly recommend all moms (whether breastfeeding or not) give it a read as I'm sure it will bring a smile to your face today.

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maternity Leave in the US

This is a topic that really gets under my skin.  Women work just as hard as men, yet when it comes time to start a family, the United States is one country that does not offer any kind of paid leave.  It truly is amazing to me.

Check out this awesome infographic (from HuffPost):

In the US, we have the Family & Medical Leave Act which qualifies new mom's to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave off from work with no penalty of losing their position.  More and more, individual companies have stepped up to help offer working moms paid maternity leave (usually at least 6 weeks at 80% pay - a basic short term disability claim), but for the hundreds of thousands of women who work part-time or lower wage paying positions, they simply have unpaid leave in a situation where it's already difficult to get by.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why we are so behind in these basic benefits.  The US ranks 27th out of 37 developed countries according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development - 27th!!  Countries like India and Mexico top the US in paid maternity leave & benefits.

I won't prattle on, but I am curious to hear what your thoughts are on the matter.  I am linking several articles below and I look forward to hearing from you.

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Chore Chart

I just found out about this awesome site called My Job Chart where you can set up free chore charts for your children.  Originally I had been planning to purchase the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart for my son, but I might have to give this website a chance first (since it's free!).  Has anyone used either of these items before?  He's just getting ready to turn 2 and I think the magnets may appeal to him more at first ...

Car Seat Safety

I am a huge advocate of car seat safety - proper usage and keeping children in car seats in the proper position for the proper length of time.  Following your manual precisely is very important when installing a car seat and, if possible, you should have your seat installation inspected by a certified car seat technician.  Parents also need to be cognizant to never use a car seat with unknown history (i.e. never buy a used car seat from a stranger) and also be aware that car seats do expire (generally 5-6 years from the manufactured date - located on a sticker on your car seat).

The reason I bring up the topic of car seats is because I was helping my co-worker research which infant car seat would fit best in his wife's Mini Cooper (they're expecting their first daughter in November).  I am a member of the Car Seats for the Littles Facebook group and I found this awesome comparison they did of infant car seats in compact vehicles.  I wanted to share in case any one else out there was facing the dilemma of what car seat to get.  It's a comparison of 11 infant seats all installed in the same vehicle with pictures for comparison purposes.  You can see the article here.

If car seat safety is important to you (or you regularly share information with other mothers and would like to be as up-to-date as possible) I highly suggest you join the Car Seats for the Littles Facebook group.

Lastly, if your seat is expired, too small or used (has unknown history) you can trade your old car seats (and other baby gear) in for 25% off a new one once a year at Babies R Us (generally in the Jan-Feb time frame).

7 Traits to Be Successful

Being a parent is tough - at times we're not always up to the challenges that may come with raising our sons & daughters to be smart, compassionate, productive members of society.  I came across the following listing 7 traits to be successful that parents should regularly demonstrate around their children.  Give it a read and let me know what you think - do you practice these traits in front of your children?

7 Traits to be Successful
Character Strengths & Corresponding Behaviors

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Hyperloop - transportation of the future

Personally, I am in love with the idea of the Hyperloop - traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes sounds fantastic - not to mention New York to California!!!  I'm curious to see what you guys think - do you believe the Hyperloop is a realistic concept?  Would you ride it if it was built?  Read more about the Hyperloop:

Monday, August 12, 2013

I couldn't have said it better myself ...

Remember moms - we're all just trying to do the very best we can for our children.

Things NOT to say to your non-parent friends

My married, childless friends are still my friends - even if we can't relate about every topic, I truly care about them and what they're going through in their lives.  With that being said, my girlfriend recently linked the following articles on Facebook and I have to say - I agree with the authors.  As parents, we need to be more cognizant about what we say to our childless friends.  Take a read and let me know what you think.

John Kinnear: 5 Things Parents Need to Quit Saying to Non-Parents
Mary: 5 MORE Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Infantino Squeeze System & Homemade applesauce recipe (and fruit purees for the toddler)!

A little over a week ago, my friend Shary posted on her blog Atta Mama about using the Infantino Squeeze System to make baby food purees.  Up until this point I had only ever heard of the Baby Bullet which just seemed like a hot mess to me.  I so wish I had the squeeze station when my son, Bryce, was eating baby food - it truly is wonderful.  My son is now 22 months and up until this week I had been giving him Peter Rabbit Organics puree blends.  I love these for him - they're quick, easy, HEALTHY, and relatively mess free (unless your child throws it on the ground and steps on it or turns it upside down and gives it a sturdy shake - yes, I've been there); however they run me an average of $1.40 a pouch.  Ouch when he eats 1-2 a day ...

To better understand the remainder of this post, I highly recommend you read Shary's blog post and watch the Infantino demo video (just click video on the squeeze station button).

Yesterday was my first experimentation with the Squeeze Station and it did not go so well - I mixed blueberries, stawberries & banana however I had to figure out I needed to add water to get to the consistency where I could get it into the pouch.  Basically out of 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup strawberries and 1/2 a banana I got 2 1/2 pouches - I'll be refining my methods for the next go.  Tonight however I made homemade applesauce using a recipe from All Recipes (my go-to recipe website).  Below are the ingredients to make homemade applesauce (including my modifications to the All Recipes one) as well as my results with the Infantino Squeeze System.


  • 4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
In a saucepan, combine the apples, water, sugar and cinnamon and heat over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until apples are soft.  After cooling, mash with fork (or mashed potato masher if you have one).

You can find the secret to peeling apples here.  This is the way I did it and I was able to peel 4 apples in about 5 minutes.

After cooling, I put mine in the food processor which also got it to a good consistency - though I was purposely pureeing to use the Squeeze Station.

One lesson I learned from my failed berry pouches was that I shouldn't 100% trust the measurement lines on the squeeze station tubes as I had overfilled a pouch and it had oozed back out (and basically squirted my son in the face when he went to eat it), so I used my measuring cup tonight and measured 4 oz before transferring to the squeeze tubs (each pouch holds 4 oz).

The main lesson I learned tonight is that if you have excess liquid in the squeeze tube, when you apply pressure using the plunger - it may/will leak out around the pouch valve.  This wasn't a huge deal for me because the squeeze station has a bottom that caught the excess fluid and I was able to easily rinse it before I started on my next pouch - it was just an unintended side effect and a learning lesson for the next time I make pouches.  You need the right consistency to make it liquid enough to squeeze into the pouches, but not too much liquid or you may make a slight mess.

See pictures below demonstrating my progress.  All in all, I love this product - it's easy to use, I made a very minimal mess and it's kind of like using a blender, if you rinse everything right away there isn't much cleanup involved.

Disclaimer: I was not requested to review, nor was I compensated in any way.  The thoughts expressed above are mine and were observed firsthand.

Easy carb-free meatloaf dinner for family

I'm all about easy dinners that allow me to spend more time with my family while dinner is in the oven.  Prep on this meal takes all of 10 min, then bake for an hour - cool & serve.  Feel free to modify the recipe in any capacity and let me know any tips/tricks you've tried.


  • 1 - 1 1/2 lbs hamburger meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 onion - chopped/diced relatively finely
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt, pepper, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano to taste
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (topping)
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except ketchup.  Mix by hand.
  3. I use a stoneware 5x9 loaf pan so I don't need to grease it, but if you're using a metal loaf pan: lightly grease and then pack mixed ingredients into loaf pan semi-firmly.  Expect concoction to be quite moist due to the milk and lack of breadcrumbs, but the majority of extra liquid will evaporate in the oven.
  4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from oven carefully and drain excess grease.  Top with ketchup.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then serve.  Goes well with pasta, rice or just vegetables.  Also good with provolone cheese and made into sandwiches.
  • For onion chopping, I used my food processor I use to make my son's purees, but I also have the Pampered Chef food chopper.  If you have to do it manually with a knife, add about 5 more minutes to total prep time.
Here's where I got the original recipe that I modified: All Recipes

Just sharing a little truth

In light of the Treyvon Martin shooting and George Zimmerman trial I believe it is important to remember the following:

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Neat idea for wrapping gifts!

What a fun idea for the holidays (or even birthdays)!  Use favorites photos instead of gift tags and bring back a beautiful memory in the process!

5 fun (cheap) ways to entertain your toddler

Let's face it ... keeping kids occupied is hard.  My almost 2 year old is into everything and anything - and on top of that, has figured out how to move things around to climb up on to get into even more.  Toys and PBS Kids can only go so far with keeping him entertained and a lot of times he likes to be near where I am.  Recently I came across this neat article on The Measured Mom - 5 ways to keep a 1-year old busy.  Just wanted to share - hope it helps some other moms out as well.

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Sequestration and the military

I do not come from a military family.  My brother (just now 19) joined the Marine Corp back in December 2012.  I have never seen such pride - my brother is truly proud of what he does and the fact that he is a Marine.  The military is a way out for a lot of young teens who, for one reason or another, cannot afford to attend college.  These brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect that liberties that a lot of Americans take for granted.  As I'm sure many of you are aware, sequestration is about to hit the DoD budget which will mean a lot of cuts for current servicemen as well as reduction in overall armed service forces (which could mean fewer opportunities for graduating seniors).

Here is a good article that summarizes some of the impact of sequestration (obviously the full impact will not be known (or felt) until it actually hits): You're About to be Squeezed

You can also contact your local representatives directly through this website and let them know that this is an important issue to you and you disagree with the pending budget cuts on our armed forces.

One last point: I do not disagree with decreasing our military budget over time.  I believe the US spends WAY too much on defense in comparison to other nations and that money could be better spent in other areas.  I do disagree with sequestration and the way Congress is choosing to go about lowering the DoD's budget.  I believe it's something that should be done gradually over time - I don't believe current servicemen's pay/benefits (or that of our veterans) should be impacted, but I believe we should slowly reduce numbers (i.e. recruit less and don't necessarily replace veterans who retire) and purchase less equipment or retire some of our existing equipment.

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Sad about the price of gas? Gain some perspective ...

Wonderful article written by Ken Braun - check it out here.  People always forgot to factor things like inflation into statements like "Gee, I remember paying $1.50 a gallon for gas".

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Pro/con: legalizing marijuana

Before I even begin this diatribe, let me start by saying I am for the legalization of medicinal marijuana and I have never personally smoked marijuana - though I know people that have and continue to do so.  Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently aired a special this past Sunday on CNN titled "Weed", that I believe lays out the foundation for a good case of pursuing medicinal marijuana.  You can read his article here.  You can watch the full length documentary here.

My personal belief on the matter is that something organically grown in the ground that can heal ailments will always be a better alternative to something concocted and created within a laboratory.  I especially like Dr. Gupta's statistic of every 19 minutes someone dies from overdose of prescription medication while there is not a single documented case of someone overdosing on marijuana.

Aside from the medical benefits, let's face the honest truth - there is money to be made here.  Lots of money and in lots of different ways.  The government can make money by taxing and fining improper farming/usage.  The government can SAVE money by not incarcerating people for simple marijuana drug use.  Citizens can make money by going into the marijuana business - whether as growers or retailers.  Citizens can SAVE money by not being forced (or at least having alternatives) to very expensive prescription narcotics.

Now the supposed downsides - the main two that people often cite are (1) addiction and (2) that marijuana is a gateway drug.  To the first I'm simply going to reply that - yes, it is possible to get addicted to marijuana HOWEVER - the addiction rates are lower than that of alcohol and cigarettes (both legal substances).  To the second, I find this one to be complete balderdash - people aren't going to jump from marijuana to cocaine simply because they've tried marijuana and have gotten a taste of something "exotic and illegal".

If you haven't heard, several TV channels developed programs specifically surrounding the marijuana industry in states where it's legal - I highly suggest you give them a watch.  Especially for those people who are against legalization simply because they believe that teenagers want to use legalization as an excuse to "get high".

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Breastfeeding in Public

Let's just jump the first hurdle - I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding in all forms, including in public forums.  There is nothing wrong or obscene about providing your child with nutrition and anyone who associates breastfeeding with anything remotely sexual has issues.  The Matt Walsh blog recently posted a blurb that basically describes my feelings to a T.  Give it a read and let me know your thoughts.

Disclaimer: this post is purely my opinion and is not meant to offend any one in any way.  If you choose to comment on this post, please do so respectfully.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why I created this blog

Basically, I'm a Facebook freak.  I post on a wide range of topics from all things mommy related to politics and the news.  I think I'm starting to annoy my friends.  :)  I just wanted to create a forum where I can post things that are of interest to me (and other's I'm sure), spread/share advice and tips I've learned, share reviews for products I've personally used, share resources (i.e. links to other sites), and in general share information and (possibly) help others out in the process.  I should note that since I am from Florida, some of my posts may be only relevant to my fellow Floridians, but in general I hope all of you enjoy what you find here.  I'm looking forward to getting started! :)