September 30, 2015

Roasted Corn and Cucumber Salad (with bacon. and feta. and croutons.)

I know that it is Fall. But here in NC the summer produce is juuuuust getting edged out and so you should make this salad before face planting in your pumpkin-spice-chai-late-muffin-with-maple-apple-cinnamon-golden-drink-snack-scarf-boots. This will be the name of a specialty cake when I open a bakery-restaurant-coffee shop one day. So there's that.

Side note: this salad does not have lettuce. I strongly feel like lettuce is mostly water and so I'd rather just drink the water and eat some bacon with ranch. Thank you for listening.

This is officially the "eat everything that has to do with summer all at once and call it a salad" salad. Except for tomatoes. There are no tomatoes in this salad because basically I only eat tomatoes a) as a sauce or b) with an exorbitant amount of fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil + balsamic. Also, add bacon because it's crunchy. Also, it's bacon. 

Here's the thing. I love fall and am so thrilled for leaves changing colors and pumpkins and warm coffee after 8am. Daytime hot coffee that doesn't make you feel like you're going to sweat until you die is a-okay. BUT. Summer, my one true (seasonal) love, I will miss. This salad celebrates all the best things about summer and also cleans your fridge. More room for apples, and apple butter, and halloween candy, amiright?!

So, get your summer veggies, chop 'em up, add some cheese and croutons and bacon and eat your summer heart out.

Summer Salad
2 ears corn, roasted
1 cucumber, chopped small
1container feta cheese, crumbled
4-5 pieces of cooked (crispy! no one likes floppy bacon in a salad) bacon, chopped
croutons (preferably homemade. chop bread, saute with brown butter, add salt, let cool)
3Tbs olive il
3Tbs balsamic vinegar (or some sort of fun and fancy vinegar that you bought at The Olive Wagon over the summer because there are stores now that let you SAMPLE olive oil and vinegar all. day. long.)

chop your veggies, crisp your bacon, make your croutons and crumble your cheese.
toss with oil and vinegar
eat summer with a spoon.

clear shelves for pumpkin and maple and caramel.

and potato soup.

Happy last day of September! Happy Fall!


August 24, 2015

5 Things I Want You To Know About Sending Your Kids to Middle School

The new school year is here! I've prepped cinnamon rolls and stocked up on granola bars and worked on schedules and made copies. I've also done some thinking as the summer wraps up. Middle school is scary. Not only for kids, but parents too, isn't it? I think that a lot of times I take for granted the fact that I love working at a middle school and feel comfortable there. I realized that tons of people probably have horrible memories of middle school. So, for the first day of school, I thought I'd put together five things that I want you to know before you send your kids through our front doors;

We know middle school.
Middle school is a crazy, up and down, hormone rocking, memory transporting, place. You walk down the halls and can have vivid flashbacks of your own pimply tween years. Middle schoolers will start to act differently than what you remember from your elementary baby. Talk to us about this, because your kids are our expertise (no really, we went to school for this. Some of us specializing specifically in middle school ages). I know I personally love to talk about what makes my kids tick, what has worked for kids in the past, and what middle school looks like! Don't be shy, we're here to help!

We are busy. 
This is not an excuse, it is not a complaint, it is just what it is. Some teachers teach 5 classes a day. Of 20-30 students per class.  (and counselors, ahem, are always running around all day with over 300+ kids at some schools) Please let us know ahead of time if you would like to come and talk with us, observe a class, or have a meeting. We don't "just let you come in and have a peek" because we are trying to hide something, but because in less than an hour we have to a)get everyone settled, b) get everyone to write in their agenda c) check agendas d) give a lesson e) answer questions f) follow the law for IEP, 504, and SST plans. g)put out fires etc. etc. etc. It is extremely difficult to just give you a minute of our time when almost every minute of our time is already scheduled. Sending an email/calling to set up a time will be waaay more productive. That way we can give you more that a rushed and frustrated minute. (That being said, if you are willing to wait and are pleasant, those of us in the office will try our best to meet with you as soon as possible.)

We still need volunteers! 
We don't have "room moms" like in elementary school but we do still need field trip chaperones, testing proctors, and help with celebrations and parties. This is great for us but also really great for you to be able to see your middle schooler in action. AND, the PTA is always looking for some new fresh faces! Getting involved helps you to feel comfortable at school and also helps you continue to network with other parents of middle schoolers.

It gets better.
I tell this to kids and parents. And it's so true. These years are tough, but it really does get better. There's not much to say about this, so I'll just show you my own awkward 7th grade self:

See? It gets so much better. Really, really, it does.

We love your children!!!! 
I know this is hard to believe. I can't even keep track of the number of times that people have said "oooh, middle school. I would never do that". And we get it, middle schoolers can be hard headed and difficult but we are here for a reason. Most of us stay year after year because we love your kids. Even when they are being overwhelming. Even when they call us names. Even when we email about how they have 27 zeros and didn't study for the test. We work hard to show them a love of learning, we watch TED Talks  (and cry) during staff meetings, we spend summers brainstorming how to make our school better, we suffocate inside mascots, have dance offs, sponsor clubs, and spend many many hours at home to make sure that we are ready to give your child our best at school. Please know that critiques are coming from a desire to see your kid reach their potential. Consequences exist to help your student learn. And at the end of the day, we go to bed thinking about how to make tomorrow better. We love your children, and are excited for the new year!

Happy new school year, friends.


August 17, 2015

7 Months!

Oh little man. You are so stinkin' adorable these days that I can't even stand it! 

7 Months

18lbs 1oz

Little Man
Little Squirt

Eating! All the foods! Well, almost.
Coale (our lab)
dinner time
church nuersery
hanging out with dad

Being Cold
Getting his face wiped
Not being able to get to something he wants

I want to remember
What a ham your are! You definitely know what the "big camera" is and you love to make faces and cheese it up for mommy!

How everything is brand new to you! You love meeting new people and seeing new things and are always looking at everything with your giant curious eyes.

 (looking at Dad)

Happy Monday, Friends!


August 12, 2015

Cloth Diapers: How The Heck Do You Use Those?!

Well here we are again, cloth diapers round two.

This week I'm going to explain how we use cloth diapers. I know that for many this elicits a terrible picture of origami folding some cloth + huge safety pin + gross buckets of water to soak aforementioned origami folded cloth. I've heard this is what cloth diapering used to be. And yes, that sounds pretty terrible. In fact, if you are still reading after that gross mental picture I applaud you. So let's move on.

Here is how we cloth diaper.

1. Where do the diapers go?!
Between washes (aka when they are dirty) we keep the diapers in an Ubbi Pail lined with a planet wise reusable (and washable!) pail liner. We wash diapers every other day, so they do not ever sit in the pail for longer than 48 hours. Some people wash every third day, but I prefer every other day. (This also helps to prevent mold growth)

I freaking love the Ubbi Pail (ours, pictured above). In fact, I suggest it for all parents whether they are using disposable or not. Seriously, this thing does. not. stink. I cannot sing it's praises enough. I would pay double what it costs because it's amazing. Forget the plastic trashcans with arm and hammer inserts and scented bags. This thing is legit.

The pail liners we use are reusable and washable, and you'll see why that makes a big difference below.

2. The actual washing.
Take the pail liner out of the Ubbi (this is super easy with the way this pail is designed), dump all diapers into the washing machine and then go ahead and toss the liner in their too. Then this is our wash procedure;

a) rinse diapers
- this on my machine is the "rinse + spin" setting, but I click it to "no spin"
time: 12mins
b) add soap, wash on hottest cycle + presoak + extra rinse
- on my machine this is the "heavy duty" cycle + extra hot water + extra rinse
time: 120 mins (2 hours)
c)  take out of washer and move to dryer
d) dry on medium heat 40 mins, twice
- we run this cycle twice to make sure that the diapers are super super super dry. This helps prevent mold

That's it! I (or hubs) usually start the cycle around 4 or 5pm so that they are done drying by the time we go to bed.

3. The "nitty gritty".
Ok, I know what you're all thinking. What about the... you know... the poop. And this is a for real good question! First of all, supposedly exclusively breastfed babies poop all washable poop. Okay, we thought this was gross (no judgement here, just a seriously personal preference). So, we invested in a diaper sprayer. It connects to the toilet, and you have two options. You can spray the poop right after you take off the diaper, or you can do it all at the end before throwing the diaper in the wash. We chose to spray before putting the diaper in the pail. Once babies start drinking formula or eating solids, the poop is not machine washable. So, you can either spray it or get flushable liners to put in the diapers. right now we do both. This is the worst part of cloth diapers. And it's really not that bad. If you have ever worked with disposable diapers (and I have) poop is poop is poop. It's going to get on you. It's going to stink. It just is. To me, this worst part is not really that much worse than a disposable. Plus, you're flushing the poop instead of having it sit in a pail to be thrown away later. (But if you needed a pail, have I mentioned the Ubbi!?!?! Ha.)

4. This is really it.
If it's super sunny outside we might take the diapers out to air dry on this foldable drying rack that we have. Especially in the summer when its sweltering so we don't have to run the dryer. But the process is so simple and second nature at this point that I don't really think about it.

Are you surprised?! I hope so! It really is so simple that it's more of a habit now than it is an annoyance. I was secretly hoping that getting in the habit of doing diapers every other day would help me with my own laundry struggle. It didn't.

Stay tuned next week for another installment, I'll be talking about types of diapers and what type we like best!


*links are affiliate*

August 10, 2015

What I loved for Baby

Oh those early days! We prepared as well as we could, but the "you can't ever really be completely prepared" is so true. I blinked and we're officially seven months into this baby gig. I've definitely gained serious opinions on what worked well for us and what I love. So,  I thought I'd share!

For the nursery

Tim and I sleep with a noisemaker, so we figured "the kid should too". This one is your simple 6-option noise maker and it does the trick. It has the options to add batteries too, which I like. One time the power went out, and when it came back on the automatic sound was the heartbeat. A tad creepy... so we have since added batteries. 

We love our cloth diapers. I know there is tons of ick factor and many many pro and con lists. I've started a series about the ins and outs of cloth that starts here if you're interested to read those details. But we love them and the snap all-in-ones are what we have.

I'm pretty sure we have about 30 of these now. They are super absorbent, they are machine washable, simple and easy.

We opted to get this monitor over all the baby monitors for a few reasons
a) It was less expensive
b) we can access the video from our phones or from a computer
c) night vision is excellent
I haven't regretted a "non baby" monitor for a second. I could even watch it from my phone at work when I first went back. The set up takes a little bit of tech sense (it runs through the wifi), my hubs googled it, I believe.

Exercise Ball
This was a total bust for contractions. They tell you how relaxing and soothing it is. Lies. But we do love it for putting our sweet nugget to sleep. Sitting on a giant ball and gently bouncing at 3am is much much easier (we think) than walking around and bouncing. Plus, I like to pretend that I'm getting exercise when I use it. We found a good one at target for around $20. (p.s. when did exercise balls get so cheap?! I swear when I was in college and all into pilates these suckers were like $60!)

Out and About

We love this stroller! We are both runners, and this stroller practically glides with us. I love that it is so easy to take down, and it fits really well in my Toyota Camry trunk. Theres storage at the bottom, and I often walk to the grocery store with Clark to grab a few things, and then put the groceries below and walk home. It was definitely a "splurge" item on our list, and we were very fortunate to receive it as a gift, but it was on our purchase list no matter what. I'm so happy with it.

I have gotten so many compliments on this diaper bag! For me, it was really important to get a bag that didn't scream "I'm a mom CAN YOU TELL?!". Maybe it's a tad vain, or prideful, but this bag definitely did the trick. The material on the outside isn't fabric, it wipes clean easily, but it also doesn't look plastic-y. The inside has two separate pockets, so I'm not digging through diapers while I'm looking for a toy. And my favorite part is that there are two "hidden" side compartments, accessible from the outside, to hold bottles. I keep a bottle on one side and oatmeal/spoon/bib on the other. I love that I can keep very specific baby stuff in it's place.

I know, I know, I know. Many moms can't stand the bumbo. So before I sing it's praises, I'll just say it has worked for us.  I know that it doesn't work for everyone. We use it when we go out to eat, mostly. It's kindof bulky to carry, but it makes sitting in booths (my favorite!) really easy, and he isn't on the end of the table with people walking by. It ensures that he stays sitting up, and next to mom or dad for easy distracting/feeding/socializing. Also, it wipes clean super easily. I somehow magically found mine at target for $14, so that sealed the deal for me. I can't seem to find that price anywhere right now though. Link above is for amazon.


Medela Pump
I got the one that comes with my insurance. I did not pay extra for the "super convenient and awesome pumping bag". In my opinion, put the pump in your own bag. It's pretty small on it's own, and the pumping bags are kindof...obvious.

I'm biased because this is all I've ever used, but we love them. The wide neck bottles we recently switched to, and I love them even more!

*links are affiliate*

What do you think!? Did I miss anything? What did you love in the first six months? I'd love to hear in the comments!


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