Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is There Value in Struggle?

My husband and I got into an interesting conversation the other night.
The topic: struggle.
The questions/concerns: Does struggling make you a better person in the short and/or long run? If you struggle as a kid, what does it teach you? Should you allow your kids to struggle even if you have the means to give them everything they need and/or want? Do you really struggle or is it an "in the moment" feeling?

Everyone has struggled at some point in their lives. Some more than others. There are so many different situations and I'm sure people can name off multiple situations in life where they have had difficulty. I know I have, but the conversation my husband and I had put some perspective into the idea of struggle.

Finances are usually the main "struggle" people experience, in my opinion. It seems to be the root of a lot of issues. The hubster and I  were discussing high school in particular and how we struggled. He mentioned not having enough money for the "good lunch line" which had the pizza hut personal pans. I mentioned not having enough money to do a Senior page in the back of the yearbook. Both things apparently we HUGE deals in high school. Looking back, would we have changed these things? Probably not. I don't ever look in my yearbook and Jason doesn't eat pizza everyday now that he can afford it. Was it a struggle then? Yes. Did it make us better people in the long run? Who's to say.

Those were just silly examples, but in truth, we both think a little struggle does make you a better person. It makes you more independent, more aware of finances and surroundings, and more appreciative of things you do have in life. Obviously, this is a very general statement and is very case-by-case, depending on the person. It also depends on your definition of struggle.

The topic was brought up to open the communication lines about how to teach our son that struggling once in awhile is okay and not the end of the world. How do we do this? And how do we do this knowing we would be able to provide what he wanted? As soon to be parents, we want to teach our son the value of earning something, gaining independence, and hard work.

No, we are not going to make him starve. But not getting in the Pizza Hut line at school, getting a brand new car, or a toy every time we go into Target may be on the list.

Realization: Parenting is tough work; we don't have the answers to these questions. We can only hope we teach him the values we believe in. Teaching him will be a struggle in itself, especially toddler and teenage years. But...those are only a couple years of his life, so when he is an adult (and out of our house) he will be able to make better choices.

This was a tough topic is discuss with my husband because I really don't know what parenting will be like. You never know and life can change at any moment. He would ask me a question and my response would be, "I don't know" to most of them. It did get me thinking and us talking about what's to come. Communication, in my opinion, is one of our strongest areas in our marriage, so I know we will be fine.

Do you feel your struggles in life have made you a better person?

Any opinions, questions, concerns, and/or perspectives are definitely wanted, as this is such a unique discussion we had and would love to hear what others think!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cloth Diaper Laundry Room Decor

No, I don't have cloth diapers hanging all around the laundry room as "decor". This will change in the near future since some will be hung dry though. Hang drying cloth diapers is not what this particular post is about.

This post is about hanging out the instructions of cloth diapers in the laundry room. If you have ever researched, thought about, or wondered about cloth diapering it is VERY overwhelming. There are so many different types of diapers and inserts you can use.

The prepping and washing routine is equally overwhelming. I started prepping my diapers this week for Nate, quickly realizing I am and will going to forget these steps until I am doing it for awhile. It is not second nature to me...yet. The hubster also has no idea of the prepping and washing routine. What makes it hard to remember is all the different fabrics. Is it synthetic or natural? Is it bleached or unbleached? Is it cotton or PUL? Another difficult aspect to remember is how many rinses and at what temperature you need to use in each cycle. Doing research, I found every single person has a different routine that works for them. Awesome...non-answers. I found what the majority people do and used that.

What did I do with this information? I made it into laundry room decor. I went on Word and typed out a simple document for both prepping and washing cloth diapers and inserts. I cut the white printer paper out with those design scissors, glued it on some scrapbook paper, then put that in a frame. Bam, another easy peasy project.

Here is what it looks like...


Excuse the mess (or don't) is laundry the laundry room. What else do you expect?
Here are some close ups:

Not only do I have some decor in my laundry room; it is FUNCTIONAL and it was CHEAP! We already had the frames (weren't being used) and scrapbook paper is ridiculously cheap.
Another bonus...the hubster has no excuse for not helping with the diaper duty. Tricky tricky. :)
If you aren't using cloth diapers, you could still do something similar. Do it for regular laundry instructions so your kids...or significant other...have no excuse to help either (if they can read).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pinterest Plate Project!

I always wonder if the Pinterest arts and crafts actually work. I was at the Dollar Tree and I saw the ceramic plates. Pinterest says to just decorate using Sharpies and bake for 30 minutes and 350'. I have Sharpies and the plates are only a dollar. I only purchased one, just in case it didn't work.

I should have bought more. I decided to decorate mine with a Christmas look. Here are the whole 2 things I needed. One plate, red and green Sharpies. I used a black one, too.

I wrote "Happy Holidays" in the center, then "eat, drink, and be merry" on the outside border. Then, I decorated with simple dots. Easy peasy. Here was the final product.

Including the 30 minutes of baking my plate, the entire project took 45 minutes. They would be great if you had your kids decorate them and give them to grandparents or neighbors. Since the plate is only a buck they can keep the plate without you going broke.
I want to make another one that has our last name or our initials. Another idea is to have your kids decorate their own and that's the plate they use for dinner. Personalization at its cheapest!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Candy Buy Back

This is such a neat-o idea! I swear, people amaze me with how smart they can be sometimes. Makes me a little sad I don't come up with cool ideas like this. What is "this"?

This is a Halloween Candy Buy Back!! Here is the link with all the information:

Here is how it works (taken from the website to give you a quick idea)

How does the program work?
  • Participating dentists "buy" back kids' Halloween candy at a scheduled event
  • "Buy" with cash, coupons, toothbrushes, creative exchanges - They can partner with local businesses to give away coupons for food, services, goods, etc. They can give away the Hygiene Kits, they can set up an Opportunity Prize--each kid gets a ticket per pound of candy for an opportunity drawing to win special prizes, etc.
  • Dentists send the candy to Operation Gratitude or other Military support groups
  • Operation Gratitude sends the candy to U.S. Military deployed in harm's way
  • To find a dental practice in your area, use the zip code "look-up" feature to see if there is a dental office participating close by. SUGGESTION: Call the practice before driving over with your Halloween candy as many have concluded their buyback event and are no longer accepting candy.
If you don't want your kids having a massive amount of candy and cavities, this may be the program for you.

If you support our troops, have a deployed service member, this may be for you.

If you are a dentist, this may be for you.

I heard about this program from a Facebook group I am apart of and I am not getting anything out of posting this from Halloween Candy Buy Back. I just thought it was a cool thing to check out. Some parents are letting their kids trade in their candy for a toy, for example. I know I don't want my son eating buckets of candy and it gives you a chance to teach about dental hygiene, as well as, giving back.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Maternity Pictures by Yours Truly.

Today I am 37 weeks pregnant.I am considered full term, but still have 3 more weeks until my due date. If Nathan wants to come before my due date....feel free my little pumpkin pie!

I went to a "coffee" this morning to meet some of the other "Army Wives" at our new installation. It was good to meet everyone, put a name to a face, and get out of the house before Nathan and snow hit Iowa. A coffee is basically just a social gathering with other spouses to get to know each other and create a support system (for those non-military folk). It's a tradition that has been in the Army for generations. Personally, I love them. I like to new people and know the spouses of the Soldiers my hubsters work for and/or with. Some people love them, others hate them. In my, it is nothing like the show Army Wives. A lot of people ask me that question.

Anyway, after the coffee I was deciding what I should do with the rest of my day. Nap? Shop? Sew? Nothing was really calling my name. What did I decide? Maternity pictures! We had some taken for our "gender reveal," but I barely had a baby bump. Jason was at work and I don't know photographers in the area, so I got my little camera, set the timer, and took some shots of myself. Kinda sounds conceited when I type it. Oh well, I know I will be thankful I did it when my mom sees them and when Nathan is here.

I am definitely no professional, but some actually came out fairly decent. Here are a few of my favs...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pregnancy Rant: Read at Own Risk!

Not going to lie...I feel like I've been a fairly easy pregnant person to deal with. I haven't made Jason go out at 2am for a random craving , demand foot massages every night, or become a huge slob doing nothing but eat ice cream and watch T.V. At least I think...Jason? I've been easy, right!?

Getting to the rant...there are just a couple things I would like back in my life. Or just have the option to have them in my life. Being pregnant is getting very uncomfortable to say the least and I am ready for this little ninja kicking, yoga-stretching, pumpkin to come out of my stomach.

Things I want (in no particular order):
1. 64oz of Dr. Pepper with crushed ice
2. Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, extra hot, extra caffeine. Make that 2.
3. Abs
4. Ability to breath
5. Ability to workout and actually sweat
6. Sleep
7. My belly button
8. No more heartburn
9. A "mom-car" to appear at my house without me doing anything
10. Friends from GA and CA here with me.

These don't seem like high-demands if you ask me.

The most annoying part as of the last week...people telling me these top 3 comments:
"Almost there!"
"Get sleep while you can!"
"It will all be worth it!"

I know I'm almost there, if I could sleep I would, and I know it will be worth it. I appreciate the comments and positivity, but at this very second they don't mean S*#t! It doesn't help and it almost makes me more angry at the situation. What I would like to hear instead:
"I feel ya, girl..."
"Hell yeah it's uncomfortable, just you wait..."
"Sucks to be you, been there and know what you mean."
"Here is a car!"
"I'm coming to visit you!"

Honest for the moment or something on my want list. I don't want to hear about what's to come. I got it, I'm ready. But right now I feel like craptastic and need that to go away before anything else. I am also willing to take a back and/or foot massage.

Thank you and my rant is over. Sorry my "pregnancy glow" is turning into "pregnancy devil"...maybe it's because Halloween is just around the corner.

Wishing I could have some wine with my whine, but I can't do that either. BOO! :(

Rant officially over and on with the day.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Rice Krispies

On to the next pumpkin treat! This time...Pumpkin Rice Krispie treats. I had pinned this recipe awhile ago and since I was going to a get together I figured these would be perfect to bring. Here is the link to the original recipe...

I changed it up a bit because the reviews stated they came out soggy. I also wanted them to look like pumpkins.
What you need:
1. Pumpkin puree- 1/4 cup
2. Pumpkin pie spice- 1TBSP
3. Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
4. Cinnamon- 1/2 TBSP
5. Marshmallows- 40 large or one bag of minis
6. Rice Krispie cereal- 6 cups
7. Butter- 3 TBSP
8. Candy corn or tootsie rolls (for stem)
9. Paper towels


To do this, place a bunch of paper towels on a plate. Put your 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree onto paper towels and start patting it. This takes awhile and it takes a lot of paper towels to drain it all. I started with 3 paper towels each time and transferred it to new ones once soaked.
This is when I first put it on the paper towel.
These are after I was will be able to pick it up after it was all drained. Looks a little like play-doh.
After all the moisture is out, melt the butter in a large pot.
Add the pumpkin to melted butter.
Stir until heated. It will be a little chunky.
Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Once all marshmallows are melted, add the spices and vanilla extract. Stir until mixed well .

Time to add the cereal! I add 2 cups at a time because mixing dry cereal to sticky marshmallows takes some elbow grease.

After all the cereal and marshmallows are mixed, spray a cookie sheet with PAM. This is where is gets super sticky...and kind of fun. :)
*If you want traditional bars: spray a 9X13 pan, put treats in and you are done. The next steps are how to make them into pumpkin shapes.
For pumpkin shapes: spray your hands with PAM so they don't stick to you. Roll into balls. You can make them whatever size you want. Mine were a little bigger than golf ball size. After you roll, stick your finger on the top to make a little hole for the stem.
Add the stem using candy corn or a tootsie roll.
Put them on the cookie sheet to settle. then you can transfer on a cute plate, cupcake holders, baggies, etc.

Done! The whole process took about an hour and they look so cute.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Take a Seat and Have a Treat!

...or go buy the ingredients and make your own!

These little bite size treats are so simple to make and delish! You can make them to have around your house or take them to a potluck/get together/BBQ, work, etc. I suggest taking them somewhere because you will eat them...possibly in one day. I don't even have a name for these treats. I've seen variations on Pinterest for almost every holiday you can imagine.

Since it is Fall and I want pumpkin EVERYTHING, I made these with Pumpkin Spice Hersey's kisses and Caramel Candy Corn. Someone please help me name them!!! Pretzel Kiss Candy? PKC? I have nothing...

What you will need:
1. Pretzels (about 1/4-1/2 bag) I used square, but you can use any type of mini pretzels
2. Hersey kisses. I used 2 bags because I am bringing them to 2 different events and making 2 other treats as well. Even if I wasn't going to 2 places, I would stillget 2 bags.
3. Candy Corn. I used Caramel candy corn, but you can use regular or Candy Corn M&M's.

Preheat oven to 225'.
Layout pretzels on a cookie sheet.
Unwrap all the kisses. This is the most tedious process of the whole thing so prepare yourself now. Or...have your kids help.
Place one kiss on each of the pretzels.
Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes. They will still have their shape, but once you place the candy corn they will go down.
Take out of oven and place one candy corn on each pretzel with a kiss.
Let them cool.
Transfer to plate.
Let me know if you can think of a name...I will give you a prize. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maternity Clothes at 35 weeks in Iowa= Difficult.

Remember one of my first posts on maternity clothes and fashion? If you don't, it was basically saying you should still wear cute clothes, don't be frumpy and/or wear moo-moos, etc. That was all fine and dandy in the summer. Now,  the weather was is cooling down here in good ol' Iowa. And by cooling down, I mean I am freezing here. Although the seasons are changing, trees are gorgeous here, and I can wear is very different being pregnant in this weather. Talk about layering!

The worst part: I only have 5 weeks left and I just now can't fit into my regular tops. What are the freaking odds!? This sucks big time because I need to decide if I should buy long sleeve bigger tops or suck it up and just make it work with what I have. I literally had to ask Jason to borrow a long sleeve shirt to sleep in because I only have a couple that fit. I don't want to spend the money on clothes I'm only going to be wearing for a couple weeks, but I also want to still look cute. I know...I have major life problems.

I realize this is silly and I should not even have the right to complain. I'm sorry about that. Even as a write this I almost regret even starting. It is what it is and this is what is going on in my head right now. I'm thinking a trip to a consignment store may need to happen.

As of now, I am living in leggings (which aren't maternity and getting too small too), long sleeves, Uggs, and scarves. I am trying to make these comfy outfits cute, but I don't think it's working out great. Here is me at 35 weeks and bundled. :)

As my previous fashion maternity post stated: I refuse to be frumpy, but I also can admit when I am wrong and being crazy. At 35 weeks, comfort and warmth are taking priority and I can only hope I don't look like a total slob when I'm out and about. I am starting to eat my words with that post...

Monday, October 8, 2012

PA: Pumpkin Anonymous

Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I am addicted to pumpkin. Seriously. So serious I googled if there was a PA group: Pumpkin Anonymous. Nothing I found was a legit group, except a Pumpkin Lovers Anonymous Facebook page (yes, of course, I "liked" them). I don't think the goal is to stop the addiction in this is to fuel it. Did you know there were pumpkin spice Hershey kisses!? NEED them!!/PumpkinLoversAnonymous

As I drink my pumpkin spice coffee this morning, I am thinking about my mid-day snack...Pumpkin Pie Roasted almonds, which I made yesterday (recipe will come later, calm down my fellow pumpkin addicts) and I am thinking about dinner tonight. The hubster is making pumpkin chili. I know, just blew your mind, right!? I'll let you know if it is worth the time, effort, and taste in another post.

Some may be thinking, oh you're just pregnant and craving big deal. But to be honest, I loved pumpkin flavored items before, so scratch that idea you theorists out there. I wait until Starbucks has pumpkin spice lattes and I can eat a whole pumpkin pie. By myself. In one sitting. And now that I really think about when my addiction started, I think my mom working at CoCo's is when it aaalllll began. CoCo's is a restaurant and bakery for those not knowing. Well at Thanksgiving/Fall/Halloween/Christmas time they make pumpkin pies and a Harvest Pie. OMG...I LOVE Harvest pie. It is pumpkin pie with a pumpkin chiffon layer on top.
My mom is coming the day after Thanksgiving to help out with lil' Nate Dogg so maybe she can bring me one, hmmm....

Anyhoo...yesterday, Sunday football was on, of course, and I wanted a snack. And yes you guessed it, a pumpkin snack. I searched on my other addiction (Pinterest) to see what I could make happen. As soon as I saw the title and that you only needed about 5 ingredients it was meant to be. Here is the link to the original recipe...

She used 2lbs of almonds and I only had 1 on hand, so I just halved the recipe.

The ingredients: almonds (1 lb), pumpkin pie spice (2 tsp), cinnamon (2 tsp), vanilla extract (1/2 tsp), and honey (3 TBSP). It's a little more than half, but it needed more spice than called for, in my opinion and the hubsters. She also called for sea salt, but I didn't have any.
Preheat oven to 325' and line cookie sheet with wax paper.
Next, mix all ingredients in a bowl and make sure all almonds are coated. After coated, spread evenly on cookie sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, then let cool. Easy peasy, pumpkin pleasy. Eh, my made up saying doesn't quite work as well as lemon squeezy. Just go with it.
This was only about half, I just wanted a cute presentation for the picture. After they cooled, I put them in a mason jar. They are a pretty good snack and healthy! They would make great gifts for people this holiday season and you could also try to make it with pecans, walnuts, or make a mixture.
Time to finish my pumpkin coffee and search for the next pumpkin recipe! Have a wonderful Columbus Day and in honor of good of Christopher...go out and discover something! :)




Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sharing is Caring: A Guest Post by Katie Moore on Transitioning into Motherhood.

Tips for Transitioning into Motherhood

First time motherhood is a monumental experience that can be filled with anticipation, joy, and amazement. Luckily, the long nine months of pregnancy allow a mom-to-be to address several of her questions and concerns before the baby even arrives.

Some decisions should be made prior to the baby's arrival, including:

1. Cloth diapering versus disposable - For cloth diapering, there are some start up costs that should be noted, including different sized diaper covers and washable inserts; for disposable diapering, moms should have enough diapers and wipes for the first few weeks of baby's life, but remember that certain brands will work better for each baby so try not to stock up too far in advance in case baby needs a different diaper brand

2. Formula versus breast feeding - Every mother has the right to decide how to feed her baby. It has generally been believed that breastfeeding was better for a child, but formula feeding is just as healthy. For breastfeeding, there are several educational resources including lactation specialists at the hospital and breastfeeding classes a woman can take to learn the proper way to get her baby to latch on.

Baby formulas are available in several different varieties and the baby may prefer one type to another due to sensitivity, taste and even allergies; moms can contact formula companies and request different samples to have on hand when baby is here and ready to eat; many hospitals and doctor's offices can also provide formula samples until moms find the one that works best for their baby.

3. Cord blood banking – Planned for before delivery day with a private storage facility, umbilical cord blood banking is where the cord blood is collected after birth and stored for potential use in treating a possible future illnesses. The medical staff in the delivery room should be made aware that this option has been chosen by the parents so they can plan to perform the collection when the time comes.

The first few weeks of baby's life is an adjustment period for mom and baby. For a mother used to a full night's sleep, the interruptions at night to feed the baby can take its toll. Luckily, there are several things that a mom can do to regain her strength and avoid suffering from sleep deprivation:

1. Sleep when the baby sleeps! A new mother should relax and avoid the temptation to do housework or other chores when the baby naps. Mom can snuggle into bed and take a nap; even a short amount of time resting can do wonders for their energy level

2. Proper Nutrition – A mom should make sure she is eating and drinking enough, especially if breastfeeding, to help keep her energy up. Making it a priority to have small meals throughout the day and always keep a water bottle handy are great ways for a mother to ensure her health is taken care of.

3. Accept offers of help – Many times, family and friends want to help a new mom take care of her home and newborn to help during post-delivery recovery. Some mothers may feel reluctant to accept the help either out of embarrassment or the feeling that, as the mother, she needs to be able to handle it all. For a new mother, recovery time is important and she can learn that her feelings of exhaustion will not be forever; accepting help with house chores or babysitting will allow a mother some time to rest and relax.

A new mom should know that it is normal to have some emotional ups and downs, known commonly as the “baby blues”. A mother has just gone through a major change and will need time to heal. However, if a mom ever feels like her moods are just too much to handle, she should feel comfortable asking her doctor about postpartum depression. With a great support system of family, friends and medical partners, a mother will breeze into motherhood.

This article was written by Katie Moore. Katie is an active writer within the blogging community who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche.  If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact by visiting her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter @moorekm26.