by Liz | Chaos Hacks, Health & Home, The Backyard
It’s amazing how you look back at life before one child and think, “What did I do with my day?!” Well, the feeling grows exponentially with the second!
With our first, we were both working full time and our evening routine consisted of rushing in the door, throwing together kid good, getting said kid washed and into bed, scarfing down something vaguely food related and collapsing into bed. The second time around I was determined to avoid this. I’m an organized person. Really, I am. Sudden changes to routine send me into a tailspin. Ask my husband how many times I check with him to be sure he’s picking up the kids! Changes to the routine equals bouts of anxiety quickly escalating into panic. Seriously, don’t mess.
Over the past three months of maternity leave I felt like I gained a lot of traction in organizing our lives. It was complete chaos most of the time but the last few weeks we had full cupboards, healthy meals (albeit from a relatively limited menu) and clean clothes the vast majority of the time. I remembered why I enjoy cooking so much and took pride in our new house , actually having time to keep up with most (ok, some) chores. Facing the end of leave, I was living in abject fear. Let’s just say I have a hard time giving up control. There, I said it.
I couldn’t fathom spending one minute away from my not-so-tiny babe and my precocious two-year-old, let alone commuting for the first time in two years. Anxiety induced paranoia? Check. Floods of tears? Check. Begging to stay home even though I knew I’d be miserable and it would be fiscally impossible? Check. Week two and I’m totally better. I didn’t actually burst into tears upon leaving my kids in the hands of my mother, who lives roughly three minutes from work and feeds me lunch (when I stop in to check on the kids) while also delivering said kids to my doorstep at least once during the day. Yep, SO much better. You get the picture.
Anyway, one way we have introduced some sense of sanity (because clearly I have none) is through a nifty service we saw online and decided to give a whirl. Blue Apron is a game changer. Not only do they deliver delicious and easy recipes to your door, they’re healthy too! What’s better than fresh ingredients and fun recipes that encourage you to try new things?
Also, they’ve recently upgraded their menus so now you can more accurately select the types of foods you enjoy and opt out of foods you don’t eat. Can it get any easier?
Ok, so it might be slightly more expensive than your average home cooked meal but I believe you make up for that in lack of waste. I mean, how often do you need a head of red cabbage or an entire jicama? Most of the ingredients are readily found in most grocery stores so if we like a recipe we just buy the basic ingredients and recreate it on our own.
So now, three nights a week we have meals planned. We wing the rest but have rediscovered our love of cooking. New ingredients, new recipes…and it’s relatively brainless time we can spend together when we are burnt out at the end of a long day. We just have some fun and eat a great meal, together. Hard to pass that up!
A few of our favorites:
Kumquat lime glaze over chicken with a side of freekah with Brussel sprouts, mint and almonds.
Shortrib burger on a pretzel bun with sweet potato chips.
Turkey with lemon caper sauce over mashed potato and roasted broccoli.
by Liz | Chaos Hacks
Ok, so here are my two cents. I’ll start by mentioning that my methods were far from scientific and no efforts were taken to standardize the results.
Manual vs. electric pump
Old faithful: the annoying, yet consistent old electric pump is a workhorse and on child #2 is still holding it’s own. Mine is a Modela pump in style advanced that costs about $299.
Pros: fairly effortless operate, needs very little supervision, can be hands free with the right accessories.
Cons: the awful noise!, it’s size and bulkiness, set up is time consuming, not exactly discrete at the office, makes me feel like a milk cow tethered to a milking station. The cost!
The contender: a Lansinoh manual pump that retails for about $29.99.
Pros: extremely portable, quick to trigger let down reflex, more natural rhythm, virtually silent, mobile if necessary.
Cons: needs a bit of attention, not quite as effective unless you’re fairly full.
I used both pumps over the last few days and had a pretty consistent nursing schedule. I found that for day time pumping the manual is far superior. Having a toddler and a 3 month old, I wasn’t tied down (yes, I have curtains and no neighbors were scandalized during this process!) and I could express pretty quickly and get on with my day. These times I was only expressing from one side at a sitting so it was really manageable. In the evenings when I wanted to express both sides and express a larger quantity before bed, the electric pump won out purely for speed and the ability to express both at once.
The manual pump has a little bit of a learning curve in finding the right methods for you. However, once you get it right I found it was much faster than the electric. When I head back to work I’ll definitely be using the manual pump at the office and reserve the electric pump for home use. Hopefully this will help streamline the process!
by Liz | All Things Kids, Chaos Hacks
We have officially reached the diaper blowout stage. No solid foods have been introduced yet so we are blessed with the over so lovely mustard poop that stains everything!
I’ve tossed a few outfits and lived with many a stain in my day but after a week of eruptions, even after upping the diaper size and liberally applying stain remover to no avail…something had to give. The consensus of online research seemed to say that an overnight soak in Oxiclean and a regular wash with your favorite detergent should do the trick.
We’ve had plenty of practice and I’d add a few tips. Try to rinse off as much debris as possible before soaking. Also, try to avoid letting the offending stain set in by soaking as soon as possible. I’ve gone as long as 24-36 hours before soaking so far and have still had success.
Here’s hoping we manage to preserve a few more outfits!
by Liz | Chaos Hacks, Health & Home, Life Snapshot, The Backyard
Parenthood is stressful. That’s a no brainer. So when something comes along that can simplify your life, you jump on it. Right?
One of my biggest concerns has always been ensuring my kids get a good meal. I try hard not to let them eat too many processed foods and as a result, we’ve been buying better products for the entire family. I can’t see this as a problem, except for one thing. The cost.
Purchasing organic produce and products that adhere to a higher standard comes at a high dollar value. Not only that but you can spend hours in the grocery store reading labels in order to make good food choices. It’s exhausting and parenting is challenging enough as it is!
Stores like Trader Joe’s try to take the guess-work out of the equation. In not expecting perfection but it’s a huge relief to know that whatever winds up in my cart is something I am comfortable buying for my family. Their prepared foods are delicious and I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of their products. All that comes with reasonable prices! Not only reasonable but often at much lower prices than I’d pay elsewhere.
The bottom line is TJ tries hard to supply great food. I’ve become a total convert and wish we had one close to us. Maybe someday soon a store will come to our area…until then I’ll just stock up whenever I can!
Maybe I’ll send in a few dozen location requests in the meantime. ;-).
by Liz | All Things Kids, Chaos Hacks
If you have a child anything like mine, they’ll have been drooling like Niagra Falls since the tender age of two months. Fast forward to six months and they’ll graduate to gnawing on every available object that comes within reach, including (but not limited to) fingers, toes, toys, stuffed animals, tables, utensils, limbs, burp cloths, limbs, jewelry and so much more. Add to that the unexplained changes to their sleep patterns along with unprecedented bouts of crying and well, eventually you’ll surmise that your little cherub is finally, at least…most likely, cutting a tooth. That said, any and all of the above can continue for months on end with no tooth in sight. It’s all rather predictable really, I don’t know what anyone could possibly be mystified about.
My new motto: “When all else fails, blame it on teething.”
Being forewarned is definitely being forearmed. Here are a few of my teething necessities:
aden + anais burp bibs – These are amazing. They not only soak up just about anything that comes within a foot of them, they have such amazing coverage. Now that Lena is getting seriously active, she can twist and turn to her heart’s delight and still be covered! Granted, I have to change these out three to four times a day but this has done wonders for her prickly neck rash and keeping her clothes presentable through most of the day.
Sophie – It’s inexplicable…but this is definitely a crowd favorite for teethers. This model is a bit smaller than the traditional Sophie but easier for little hands to grasp and manipulate. We really don’t go anywhere without Sophie in tow!
Fridge/freezer teethers – We have a few of these and Lena’s favorite happens to be a somewhat flat and smooth variety (the keychain was a non-starter). My guess is every child has their preference but it’s a good idea to have a few of these on hand just in case the phantom teeth choose an inopportune time to strike.
Spiffies – Thanks to my sister-in-law (and her parents who are both dentists!), we came across these little gems. When refrigerated, they provide great relief to teething babes and have been shown to reduce cavities. They are just as effective as brushing!
As a last resort, you can always speak to your doctor about using a pain reliever. We found that just one dose while going to bed allowed her to get a good night’s sleep with minimal interruption even on the worst teething days.
At almost seven months old, Lena has two shiny new teeth to show off. She really enjoys smacking her lips or tapping at them with rattles and other toys. She worked hard on those little chompers, she should be proud!