A blog for new parents looking for healthy living and tips on raising their baby.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Backyard Fire #MomsMeet #Lightlife

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Moms Meet, May Media Group LLC, and Lightlife.  I received this product free to review.  All opinions are my own. 

Father's Day was this past Sunday, and with it, we got a teething and clingy baby. Little A has been cutting THREE teeth at once, and it has been absolutely exhausting for us all. We didn't really have the energy or motivation to go out, but we definitely didn't feel like spending the cloudless day inside, so we packed up and headed out to the backyard. 

After setting little man up in the playpen, big A decided to get a little fire going. I still had a pack of Lightlife meatless hot dogs in the fridge, and I was impatiently waiting to give them a try!

It was SUCH a hot day out, as are many days here in South Carolina, but the fresh air was intoxicating. As the fire started growing, I tried to figure out the best way to cook the hot dogs. I was so excited to discover that these hot dogs were verified with the Non-GMO project. Oftentimes, many veggie dogs are packed full of GMO soy, which is something humans should honestly avoid at all costs. Per package instructions, you are supposed to stay conscious about overcooking the hot dogs. After some research, apparently veggie dogs don't taste as good when overcooked.

My favorite thing to do with hotdogs is to cook them until they are black on the sides. I followed the same general rule as you would when cooking any regular hot dog, turning them after a minute or so. The smell of them cooking immediately filled the vicinity, and my mouth began watering. They smelled just like a cooking hot dog, taking me back to childhood memories of cookouts at the lake. 

Little A loved soaking up the sun, reading books and playing with toys, happily content to be outside. Lately, he prefers being outside more than almost anything. When he's upset, or fussy, I often load him up and take him outside and he instantly becomes another kid.

As I finished cooking the boys, and their fair skin, took it to the shade to cool off and prevent sunburn. Little A truly is a very lucky little boy to have a Daddy who loves him so. 

So, then the moment of truth came, the taste test. We've never been big on vegan alternatives, so I will admit that I was a bit nervous. But wow, am I impressed! Give this hot dog to a hardcore carnivore, and they'll have absolutely no idea. I know, we all have heard claims of food being 'just like the real thing' but this is a product that actually lives up to that claim. They even come with an added bonus of not giving me heartburn!

Traditional hot dogs give me terrible heartburn, and I was pleasantly surprised by these. I think we will definitely be getting another package soon! They say not to knock it 'til you try it, and these are a winner in my books!

Until next time,

Friday, June 17, 2016

5 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

If you've ever researched home remedies for different things, odds are you've come across apple cider vinegar at least once or twice. Vinegar has been used for centuries for all sorts of things, many of which have been tested and confirmed by science. When using vinegar for health, it is important to make sure you're using one 'with the Mother'. The Mother culture is the reason for the dark, murkiness of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar. Many people believe this is the reason for the potent health benefits: The Mother contains tons of good bacteria and enzymes, and is naturally occurring. There are so many reasons to grab a bottle next time you get the chance!

1. Burns

While I have a secret love for cooking, I am such a klutz in the kitchen. Seriously, I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've burned myself. The other day, I was making hamburgers and, somehow, in the process of transferring the burger from the pan to the plate, a huge splash of grease landed on my hand. It burned like fire, and I immediately ran it under cold water.

After doing a little online reading, I realized ACV is a great treatment for burns, so I grabbed a little and splashed it on the burn. (This can also be used for sunburns.) At first, I was hesitant because I was afraid it'd make it hurt worse. But, after only 30 seconds or so, the pain was gone! There was no swelling or residual redness either-it was as if I'd never been burned at all.

2. Antibiotic

Apple Cider Vinegar is naturally high in malic and acetic acid, and contains countless vitamins which make it a wonderful antibiotic. In the case of open cuts, ACV will burn some (think of alcohol), but it has been known to heal faster and reduce scarring.

ACV can also be used internally. Taking 1-2 shots per day will help your and your gut fight off any bad bacteria or infection-this is especially helpful in treating sinus infections. Oftentimes, to help with the taste, I'll mix hot water, honey, and ACV to create a sort of tea.

3. Relieves Itching

If you're a sufferer of eczema, like me, you know all about the creams and ointments to help with the, sometimes unbearable, itching. The thing is, those don't do much at all, especially for the healing process. These creams are loaded with so many other random additives and ingredients that simply don't belong on the skin, our biggest organ.

ACV is especially noted for helping itching associated with dry skin-which is why it is so helpful for things like eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff. For dry skin that covers a good portion of the body, ACV baths are a great idea, by adding about 2 cups of vinegar to your bathwater. Because dry skin patches are often covered with small open wounds, diluting the ACV will be more gentle on your skin.

 4. Cleaning

While this tip doesn't necessarily have to do with your body, it is a health benefit. Traditional cleaning sprays are loaded with unneeded chemicals that are harsh, and toxic. If only there was something that worked just as well, without the detrimental effects on our health and homes. If only we didn't have to lock, double lock, and extra child proof our cleaning cabinets in the fear our children would get into them. But wait...

The acidic properties of ACV make it a great antibacterial and antimicrobial. Some studies have even shown that ACV, when mixed with table salt, can even stop the growth and spread of E. Coli. Safe for the environment, and your lungs, apple cider vinegar can replace many of those dangerous household cleaning supplies.

 5. Antacid

I know, I know, this probably sounds like the most backwards thing in the world. To pour vinegar, of all things, onto the searing fire in your throat and chest. But, trust me!

I actually discovered this little gem during my pregnancy, when my heartburn was so bad that I had to mouth breathe because the flames were licking the inside of my nose. ACV naturally helps balance the pH of the stomach, which makes it more efficient at digesting food, preventing acid reflux.

Always dilute ACV, as it does have the potential to damage the enamel on your teeth.

Apple cider vinegar has a huge and long list of benefits, but these are my favorite. What are yours? Tell me in the comments below, and maybe I'll make a part 2!

Until next time,

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Visit to a Nudist Resort

My family is obsessed with the outdoors.
Seriously. Any chance we get, we're outside doing something-hiking, fishing, exploring nudist camps...

Last fall, my husband, big A and I were knee deep in Google searching, on a quest to find a somewhere new and exciting to explore. The fall leaves were absolutely beautiful, and we just wanted to be out there. By happenstance, we stumbled upon a website for a nudist resort only an hour away from us. It sparked our interest, but with me only 5 months postpartum, I just wasn't comfortable enough to bare it all, especially in broad daylight.

Quite by accident, the topic came up again last week. After some deliberation, excuses, and convincing, we were on the road! Before I continue, I should point out that this is a completely family-friendly location, like any other park-just without clothes. So, before you ask, yes-little A was happily cooing in the backseat!

We pulled up to a gate with a pin pad and a phone. We were instructed to call for the code, which we did, and we were on our way. To get to the office, you have to go through the pool. It was then we were reminded where we really were. The pool was packed with tons of people. A few older people, couples, kids...all naked. Instinctively, my eyes darted away to avoid eye contact with anyone. In the front office, we were greeted by a woman who, surprisingly to us, was fully clothed. She took our drivers licenses to run a background check (remember, family friendly), we payed our fee, and we were free to go.

It was a hot day. Like, a really really bright, sunny, hot June day. We made our way to the locker rooms, complete with open showers, to apply sunblock and get ready. By this point, I was feeling nervous. After all, I was going to literally be in broad daylight with nothing to cover even my deepest insecurities about my body. With little A in my arms, and big A's hand in mine, we braved the daylight.

To put it blunt, it was beyond awkward walking out the doors. I felt vulnerable and, well, naked.
We started warming up, literally and figuratively, by the pool. It's such a strange feeling to be completely naked in public and for no one to even bat an eye. So many others, visitors and residents, came up to talk to us, commenting on little A's hair and talking about the weather.

Get this. Within an hour, I completely forgot I was naked.
Nudity is shameful because that is what's bred into us from birth. We're told to 'cover up,' and to 'be decent.' There was a boy there who was about 12, and it was so fascinating to watch him go up and talk to people, interact with others, and just be normal.
I forgot about my insecurities. My stretch marks? They didn't exist. My saggy skin? I forgot all about it. It was such a freeing experience, and a way of life that I want my son to grow up in.

Would there be as much shame about our thighs and bellies and boobs if we could show them all the time? I don't really know, but I'd like to think not.

We went for a naked hike and it was one of the best in my life. You don't have to worry about clothes sticking to your sweaty skin, and it's a feeling of pure freedom.
If you ever get the chance to visit a nudist resort, I encourage you to jump on it.

I can't wait to go back.

Until next time,

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gluten-Free Lucky Charms Treats

Today’s post is sponsored by General Mills, but my love for their gluten free cereal is all my own!

As much as I try to keep my family on a paleo diet, sometimes that just doesn't always work out. Little A's diet is much more strict than his naughty parents, but there are some things you just can't pass up. So, when I was contacted by Linqia about General Mills and their 13 new gluten-free cereals, I was hooked!

Up until 2-3 months ago, it was just about impossible to get little A to eat anything. He strictly preferred boobie milk and only from the tap, thank you. While we may be able to sway from our not-so-strict paleo diet, we are strictly gluten-free in our home. 

So we were absolutely thrilled after discovering Cheerios were one of the cereals on the list! Little A took right to them. 

So, it's now become habit to leave a handful of Cheerios always within his grasp. 

Anyway, maybe it was nostalgia or just a downright sugar craving, but I couldn't pass up the chance to dig into a box of Lucky Charms. I used to LOVE Lucky Charms as a kid, it was my go-to cereal. So, the other night, I walked through the doors of Publix on a mission. Three things: butter, marshmallows, and Lucky Charms. 
Tonight, I was going to indulge!
And indulge I did. 

To enjoy your own Lucky Charms treats, you want to start by buttering a 9x13 in. pan. This really is important, or all your marshmallow is going to stick to the pan and be an absolute mess. To grease the pan, you will use very minimal butter, so just take the rest of the stick (or 1/2 cup) and toss it into a pot over medium heat. 

Once the butter is melted, toss in 7-8 cups of marshmallows, depending on how gooey you want your treats. I like them a bit on the messy side, so I added 8!

Let your marshmallows melt, stirring frequently, until creamy. 

Add 10 cups of Lucky Charms, and mix everything evenly. Pour into your greased pan, cover with, and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. 

I made these right before starting dinner one night, and they were ready to dig into for dessert. 

Enjoy your treats, knowing they are completely gluten free!

Don't forget to save $1.00 when you buy 2 boxes of cereal at Publix.

Until next time, 

General Mills and Publix have been generous enough to giveaway $15 to the paypal of one very special winner in order to purchase your very own gluten-free cereal. To enter, first click here to see all 13 available cereals. Comment below with which cereal you'd choose! 
Giveaway ends June 30, 2015 at 11:59 PM. 

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Handling Your Velcro Child

Over the last few weeks, little A has been growing in leaps and bounds.
He took his first steps just last week, has TWO teeth that are giving him an absolute nightmare, is eating more food than he ever has before, and is now spending every nap in his crib.
I couldn't be prouder of him-each day is a new adventure.
But, this rapid developmental leap has also brought the clingiest. baby. ever.

It seems as if he is constantly attached to the boob, and when he's not, he's holding onto my leg trying to climb up my body. I can't even go to the bathroom alone. It's downright exhausting.

It's easy to get frustrated and burnt out, but when I took a second to remember that this isn't easy for him, it made things a little easier for me to understand. When I developed an understanding, rather than getting irritated at him, I found myself working with him. Below are my 3 tips for handling your velcro child.

1. Comfort Them

We all have something to get done. Some deadline to meet, or something else that's calling our attention. When little A is clingiest, following me from room to room, and tugging on my pant leg when he gets near me, I've realized its because he needs some assurance. Comfort them even if you did just spend an hour with them. 
The world is a scary place, and young children need frequent reassurance from the ones they trust most. When it seems like I just can't get a second alone I will usually read to, play with, or nurse my little velcro kid. Often times, this is all he needs, and he's happy to play independently.

2. Don't Disappear

This may honestly be one of the worst things you could do, and will often result in a sobbing child right on your heels. Be honest and vocal about what you're doing. This, not only engages the child, but your voice also assures them that you are near.
For instance, when I need to start a load of laundry. I'll tell little A "I'm going to do some laundry" and then, from the laundry room I will talk to him "I'll be out there in just a few minutes." Often times, he will listen to me, and even babble back.

3. Create a Schedule

This is really the one that helped curb my little man's clingy behavior. When he was able to predict what was coming next (ex. bath after dinner), he was calmer and more independent. I also used this schedule to create times during the day, like after nap time, when he and I would have 20-30 minutes of one-on-one time to play, read, do crafts or puzzles, or whatever else.

It's very important to know and understand that clinginess, while it may be frustrating for you, is not bad behavior, and should not be punished. While it may not feel like it, it's actually a good sign! When your child is feeling alone or distressed and they seek comfort from you, it shows that they trust you and know that you will help. Consistently reassuring and comforting your velcro child will slowly, but surely, lead to independence.

Until next time,

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Grow Your Food with Chick fil A

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on the amazing Southwest Salad by Chick fil A.
More often than not, I am guilty of tossing plastic take-out containers into the trash. Containers that could easily be used for something else end up sitting in a landfill somewhere, taking up room on this precious earth.

Chick fil A challenged all of the CFA Moms to do something different.
We were encouraged to upcycle these containers into anything we wanted. So, here's how you can get your salad bowl to feed you again and again.

All you need is to take an afternoon visit to your local Chick-fil-A.

You'll need a salad container and lid as well as a small fruit cup bowl. In the meantime, you'll want to plant a seedling into a rooter plug, or some other type of hydroponics seedling plug. You're also going to want some kind of grow media to hold everything in place.

Because Chick fil A is super generous, and more than likely to give you as many containers as you want, you're looking at paying less than $20 to start your own mini garden.

Spray paint the clear lid, because allowing light into it will cause mold and mildew to grow. I put a little piece of tape on the lid though to create a little window.

Poke holes into the fruit cup to allow water to flow, and to prevent the roots from becoming too bunched. And, then-put it all together! Put about half a cup of water into the bottom of the salad bowl.

Until you see a root or two, you're going to want to water this baby several times a day to prevent it from drying out, and to also encourage them to grow downward.

If you're new to hydroponics, I encourage you to have a look through my own hydroponic garden to get some tips! Enjoy!

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5 Reasons to Continue Breastfeeding Past Infancy

So, I must have missed the memo, but apparently breastmilk is completely worthless after a child turns 12-months-old. Sure. *rolls eyes*

But seriously, I'm really not sure how this got started, or why people are under the impression that children should only breastfeed during infancy. According to the World Health Organization mothers are encouraged to nurse their children "...for up to two years of age or beyond." This recommendation greatly exceeds the 'breastmilk is only for newborns' theory. 

Recently, I started a #100daysofnursing challenge on Instagram. It was here that I realized the absolute hell that many mothers face for breastfeeding their toddlers. I came across comments like 'she's only doing it for herself' or 'that's sexual abuse' and my jaw dropped. Do people really not realize the endless benefits of breastfeeding your baby through toddlerhood? So I've compiled a list of my 5 favorite benefits of breastfeeding toddlers. 

Immune System

At one year old, a child's immune system still needs time to mature. It is already well documented that the mother's milk provides immune system support in infants-and that doesn't just disappear once a child hits their first birthday. Actually, according to many studies, when compared with their weaned peers, breastfed toddlers were less likely to get sick, develop allergies, or asthma. 


Like with immune system support, much of the medical field agrees that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of obesity in childhood. But new studies and evidence are proving that the longer a child breastfeeds, the lower their risk of developing childhood obesity. When examined at one year of age, breastfed infants consistently had significantly lower levels of fat than did their formula-fed peers. According to La Leche League International, kindergarten aged children who were never breastfed had obesity rates at nearly 5%. In children of the same age who were breastfed for longer than 12 months, their obesity rates were less than 1%. 


Okay, yes, breastfeeding does have its perks for the parents. While, at this age, many parents have to pack lunches and meals for a day out with their toddlers, breastfeeding mothers just have to take their boobs. As little A eats more and more, I have started taking along a few snacks, but the majority of the time he's content with eating from me. 

Protects Teeth

Wait, what?!
I know, but it's true. Many breastfeeding mothers are told to stop when their baby starts getting teeth because the milk will sit on them and cause cavities. Children's teeth (or milk teeth) are very fragile, and an untreated cavity can quickly and easy rip through one. It was recently discovered that breastmilk actually contains a component, lactoferrin, which kills the strep mutans bacteria. This bacteria was also found to be the leading cause of tooth decay in children. 

Ear Protection

Ear infections are terrible, awful things for a child to go through. And parents definitely understand the struggle. Many infants and toddlers have several ear infections early in life because they often follow after illness. According to Dr. Sears, breastfeeding can help protect those delicate little ears. 

While I understand that breastfeeding is not for everyone, it is well documented that it is highly beneficial for toddlers. And, I would appreciate not being made to feel like a sexual predator when I am feeding my child. 

Until next time,