We’re Goin’ A Roadtrippin’.

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've lived on the East Coast — New England area to be more specific — for all of my 30 years. I love to take trips and have been up and down the Coast a few times. But one of the places that I've never spent any time in happens to be pretty close. Pennsylvania. 

So when planning our latest trip, we decided Pennsylvania would be the place to go! And what better way to plan our trip there than to use visitPA.com's Roadtrip-a-Matic? 

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Roadtrip-a-Matic makes planning a roadtrip so easy! It takes care of so many of the biggest headaches of planning a trip. It helps you find things to do, places to stay, and even gives you lots of different ideas for kinds of roadtrips. It pretty much makes planning a trip easy — it does all of the work for you — all you have to do is the packing!

Maybe it's just because of our growing family, but we found the "Kidsylvania" trip to be the most fun looking and appealing to our family. There are stops in places like zoos and museums, and even adds a little learning into the mix with stops like Independance Hall and the Liberty Bell. 

If you want to take a great roadtrip, you should check out the pa-roadtrips website and take a look at the Roadtrip-a-Matic! Have you been looking for the perfect roadtrip lately? This will definitely help you plan the ENTIRE thing without any of the stress or headache!

Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the Roadtrip-a-Matic and where you'll be taking your next roadtrip to! 

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Cloth Diapers & Reusable Wipes — Our New “Changing Station”

I’ve been off and on using cloth diapers for a while now — about a year? Just recently I made a few more purchases and managed to up my cloth diaper stash to about 3o diapers or so.

   

This seems to be enough so that we only really have to wash once a week — about every 4 days or so. It’s working out really well for us right now. I still use disposable diapers at night, I have yet to find anything that I can even put on him for an extended NAP that will keep him dry, so overnight? It’s disposables all the way. But with only 1 or 2 diapers (depending on the need for a night change) each night, that’s less than one box of diapers a month. And i’m pretty proud that my entire cloth diaper stash only cost a little over $100. So between my cheap stash, saving a ton of money on the few disposables we do use, and only washing ONE time a week — it’s a TOTAL money saver!

Now, moving on to my NEWEST project!

I’ve ventured into the world of reusable baby wipes. You can get wipes like these or these on Amazon, for anywhere from $10 to $20 a pack — with an average of 10 to 12 per pack. And if you search on Etsy, you can find that lots of people make and sell reusable wipes, too. I took it a step further and decided to very SIMPLY make my own.

I picked up microfiber “dish” towels at the dollar store for $6/pack — 5 towels in each pack. Out of EACH towel, i was able to make 6 wipes. So for $6, I got 30 wipes. I cut them with scissors, and then just used the sewing machine to put an seam on the edge to prevent from fraying.

I searched all over the internet for the best way to “wet” the wipes. Lots of people soak them in a solution — but this seems both messy, and lots of comments revealed that this caused “moldy wipes.” So i followed something i saw in quite a few other places — i made my own solution to keep in a spray bottle. There are lots of “solution” recipes online, but the one i ultimately ended up following i got from Emily on JoyfulAbode.com. It consisted of just a simple mix of water and a few drops of lavender essential oil. I love this spray SO MUCH, that i’m tempted to use it on MY OWN skin, because yes — it’s that amazing!

With my cloth diapers, and my new cloth wipes and solution — i needed a cloth diaper friendly cream/diaper rash cream. There are a few i’ve found online and in stores, and i may ultimately end up buying one, but for now, I’m going with my newest obsession — coconut oil. It’s cloth diaper friendly, and can be used all over the body, too (along with 100’s of other things it can be used for!). So now i use it at EVERY diaper change, and all over at night before bed. (I even used it on myself last night — all over my legs, and growing tummy — and not only is my skin soft & smooth, it’s completely cleared a few “eczema” spots, and has started fade my bruises!).

Here’s a picture of our new diaper changing station:

   

This is in our bedroom on our dresser. I intend on keeping baby with us in our bedroom with us for atleast a year, so this will be the best place for it.

I recycled an old wipe container, and put the newly sewed reusable wipes inside. Each spray bottle cost about $1, plus about $10 for the bottle of lavender essential oil — which you only use a few drops in each spray bottle. The coconut oil cost about $12, you can do cheaper, but i bought the unrefined, organic virgin coconut oil. And of course there’s a container of powder, an all natural lotion, and a few newborn diapers in there, too.

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Scholarships Online

Scholarships Online

Have you recently been thinking about going to school (or going back to school) but are wondering how the heck you’re going to pay for it? Maybe you should think about looking into scholarships.

ScholarshipsOnline.org is a great website that offers resources on how you can get scholarships and grants. The site is free to use and lists scholarships frequently that are out there that you can apply for. Even better? The website is not only free — but you will never be required to register or have to be a member to use the website!

New scholarships and grants are listed weekly and daily — or however often they become available. Every scholarship is completely legitimate and many of them are sponsored by corporations and foundations that you have heard of.

Check out the website at www.ScholarshipsOnline.org. They have a great resources page to help get you started and a contact page that can get you in touch with whoever you may need to contact. You can even sign up right from their homepage for free alerts that can be sent right to your email.

If you’ve been thinking about how to go back to school and where you can get some money to help you out — check out Scholarships Online. This could be the start you need to get on your way to heading to (or back to!) school.

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RLR Laundry Treatment — Product Review

About a month ago, I decided to increase my cloth diaper stash (in preparation for baby #2 and also because I’d like to be able to make it an extra day or so without having to wash my diapers), so I purchased some used diapers online. I bought from a few different people and as you should do when buying used cloth diapers — I had to strip them before I used them. I also have been noticing a tiny bit of “ammonia” smell from our own diapers — not bad, but enough that I’d like to do something about it before it got bad. We had also had a few leaks — I’m not positive it was the diapers, or the fact that my kid just pee’s pretty heavily.

Anyways, I researched online about diaper stripping and came across this product:

I found it on a website that I frequent, Mom’s Milk Boutique. They sell for $2.50 per packet, but if you buy larger quantities the price goes down. There are great reviews on the site, and there are specific directions for stripping cloth diapers. For only a few bucks, I figured — why not? It sounded a heck of a lot easier than boiling diapers, washing them in the sink or tub with Dawn dish soap, etc. So I placed my order on a Friday — and I think I had my RLR packets by Monday? (Quick shipping!)

The process is ridiculously easy. I have an HE front loading washing machine. You just throw your (clean) diapers in the machine, open the packet and sprinkle it on top of the dry diapers. I separated my covers from my inserts and did two separate loads. Then I just ran a regular wash cycle, and then ran an extra rinse cycle. The directions state to make sure that if there are still suds in the water, to run extra rinses until they were gone. I didn’t notice any suds in the rinse, so the one extra cycle seemed to be just fine.

I hung out all of the diapers in the sun to dry and let them stay there pretty much all day long. When I brought them inside they all looked BRAND NEW. They were whiter than before and smelled SO GOOD. If you hadn’t known, you would have NEVER guessed that they were used diapers.

All of our diapers look brand new again! It’s not recommended to use this for every wash, but only when you notice an issue (smell, leaking, etc) or up to once a month as a preventative measure. If you use cloth diapers you should DEFINITELY purchase some of this stuff. It couldn’t be easier and I couldn’t be happier with our results!

Go to Mom’s Milk Boutique and grab some RLR Laundry Treatment.

[I am in no way affiliated with Mom’s Milk Boutique or RLR Laundry Treatment. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are 100% my own. If you have a product you would like me to try and review, please feel free to contact me.]

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Whitney Farms Makes Organic Gardening Easy!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Whitney Farms for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

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It's no secret — in my household we really love our gardening. In fact, we spent an entire day planting our garden full of a variety of vegetables that we plan on using all summer long in our meals. But one thing that we'd really like to do differently this year is make our garden all organic. If we're going to farm our own produce, why not grow the best for my family? Whitney Farms® is making it possible for us to do so this year! 

The best way to start is with organic soil and organic plant food. Whitney Farms products have lots of benefits for your garden. There's low to no dust and it's very easy to apply. It contains beneficial microbes and has specifically designed protein-based blends that will provide whatever kind of plants you will be growing with what they need to not only survive — but thrive! 

109103_1.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)  In our garden we'll be growing everything from a few varieties of tomatoes, to cucumbers, beans, peas, squash, zucchini, and more! Whitney Farms Tomato and Vegetable Food are going to be perfect! 

Eating organic really is what's best for you and your family. There's no need now to use other brands that contain chemicals and pesticides and other harmful things on your family's food. Conventional plant foods are no longer necessary with these great new products available for your very own gardens. And right now, check out  Whitney Farms® for a great offer — a $3 coupon! 

Our garden -- a work in progress.

 

 

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Feeding a (Sometimes) Picky Toddler.

Everywhere that I write online (Facebook, Twitter, blog, and elsewhere…) I notice there’s always a lot of chatter about feeding babies & toddlers. Some are picky, some eat everything. Some parents breastfed and some fed only formula — and of course some did both. Some started their tiny ones on cereal at 4 months, some started with purees (store bought OR homemade) at 6 months, some did baby led weaning, and others did a mix of a few.

This isn’t a post about the right or wrong ways to feed a baby or toddler — or even a post about how I did it and why.

But anyways — does it matter how exactly you did it, and will the way you chose to feed your child lead to a particularly picky kid, or one who will eat everything?

While searching around the Internet I came upon this article about Feeding the Picky Eater. I find it to be a great, well written article that is very reassuring to moms on why their toddler may eat one thing one day and not eat anything the next day.

Nowadays people are so quick (especially doctors) to jump to conclusions that there’s something wrong with the child. From day ONE — there’s always something WRONG. See a specialist. They didn’t gain enough weight. They gained TOO much weight. BLAH BLAH BLAH, I’ve heard it all. And now that my not so small anymore baby is a 16 month old toddler — I  don’t want to hear all of that “maybe there’s something wrong with them” talk. They aren’t saying enough words early enough, they started walking too late, they aren’t eating well enough — there must be something WRONG! Because you know — it’s not like every baby is different or anything, right? Staying on the “picky eater” subject — just because my kid likes strawberries and grapes, but won’t touch broccoli or chicken doesn’t mean he has “issues” (for instance, sensory issues and others that I know more than one or two moms worried about because they’re pediatrician brought it up).

My kiddo eats pretty well. He loves things like yogurt and eats both yogurt and drinks kefir on a daily basis. He drinks cow’s milk and almond milk (but isn’t fond of coconut milk). He likes water — and I’m sure would jump on the chance to drink juice if given — but I don’t give it to him, so he doesn’t drink it. But I do make him fresh juice from the juicer — and he’ll actually prefer a cup of “greener” juice rather than sweeter, fruitier juices.

He likes strawberries, grapes, and bananas and eats them often. Sometimes he likes oranges — but they have to be fresh, I’ve tried to give him canned mandarin oranges and he refuses them. He’ll eat up cheese any way he can get it — string cheese, sliced cheese, cubed cheese — he loves them all. He likes “snacks” like Teddy Grahams, eats whole wheat crackers and anything else crunchy. He’ll eat peanut butter sandwiches (we just intro’d peanut butter around 15 months) and if I’m feeling super adventurous I’ll even let him have a little Nutella.

But when it comes to dinner, there can be battles. I can cut up chicken and he’ll chew it and then spit it out. Most vegetables he’ll refuse, unless I mix them into a cheese sauce and pair with some fun macaroni (we love “Wacky Mac” vegetable macaroni shapes). Sometimes he’ll eat pork chops, sometimes not. But I prefer NOT to battle my child with dinner. If all else fails, pull out a cup of yogurt, cut up some fruit, a piece of cheese, and he’ll eat it ALL. As long as he’s eating — he’s fine.  Our newest addition to his diet has been adding in dried fruits. They’re sweet and chewy, so they’re fun. I bought a big bag of mixed “jumbo” raisins and he eats them daily.

Whether your little one prefers chicken, cheese, fruits… you find a way to make sure they’re healthy. And maybe they don’t love spinach like you do, maybe they would rather have applesauce 3 times a day, maybe they have been eating with a spoon since 12 months, or maybe they’re 15 months and only throw their utensils…

Every kid is different. Why can’t people just accept that?

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Gardening & Backyard’ing.

Our newest project around here lately includes lots of work out in both our front and backyard.

The front is relatively easy… I wish I had some before pictures to post — and if it wasn’t POURING outside right now, I’d go out and take some. We’ve recently done some easy things — like removing 2 HUGE bushes from in front of our house, including a rhododendron that was as tall as the house and covered such a large portion of the house that you didn’t even know there was house behind it. That area is extremely empty right now, maybe a little too empty. So I’ve been brainstorming on what I could put over there that isn’t going to need a ton of maintenance and won’t cost us a lot of money to put in.

I think we’ve decided on a wooden bench, a bird bath, and a few bird feeders. I love putting out bird feeders and then watching all the birds — cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, varieties of wood peckers… That’s a relatively easy project that we should be able to complete. Along with the possibility of adding a few flowers (marigolds, maybe) around our mailbox, and a hanging pot from the well in the front yard. Add to that a few rose bushes that just need to be planted, and a few of my lillies that need to go in the ground and we’re good to go.

It’s the backyard that causes the most trouble.

We’ve recently cleaned off the back deck which is looking nice now with our patio furniture and grill — and since have added a toddler picnic table, which is pretty darn cute. Next to the deck — a sandbox that we built. We were able to build it and fill it with sand cheaper than it costs to pick up one of those $40 plastic sandboxes (you know the ones — those darn turtle sandboxes they sell everywhere).

The biggest current project out there is the removal of trees and bushes. We took down a HUGE pine tree ourselves (what can I say? My husband likes chainsaws) and next are the bushes that line our fence along the entire backyard. We’re going to use that idea to stack wood to burn through the winter, and then put in a chicken coop (and yes, chickens!). That’s a project that may or may not be done by the end of the summer — we’ll see.

But the project that WILL be done is the trash that’s lined along the backside of the house. An old grill, some very LARGE old cardboard boxes… we need a dump run ASAP. Once that’s all cleaned up, it’ll be great.

And of course, our ongoing always-fun project of the summer — our garden.

Our 8 foot by 8 foot raised garden bed — prepped — before planting. And the bushes behind it that will be coming down!

We did end up planting the entire garden over this past weekend. We planted 2 types of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant, beans, sweet peas, pickling cucumbers, basil, and parsley. We had so many plants, some of them had to be planted in 5 gallon buckets along side. We also have strawberry plants in pots in the front of the house.

Will be posting updates as we make more progress in the yard — and as the garden starts growing and hopefully yielding lots of produce!

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Great blog with thoughts on labor & induction. I was given Pitocin during my first delivery because my water had broken and I was making ZERO progress. I’m not sure I’d agree to it again.

Doula Momma

There is a difference between elective induction and medical induction. Elective induction of labor is defined as the initiation of labor in a pregnant individual who has no medical indications for induction. Reasons for medical induction include: fetal distress, pre-eclampsia, uterine infection, premature rupture of membranes and other situations where the health of the mother or baby are compromised by continuing the pregnancy. One in five pregnancies are induced in the U.S. with some hospitals reporting induction rates as high as 50%. The medical induction group appears to be in the minority, however, since the 1999 Green Journal review reported that as many as 3 out of 4 labor inductions were performed without an indicated risk. (I cannot link the article and it is 10 years old but I would be willing to bet the stats aren’t any better now as induction rates have increased). In short that means that…

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Review: Babywearing with Boba.

I recently purchased a new baby carrier. I had been researching online different styles and brands and spent a lot of time asking other moms what their favorites were. I have used a Moby Wrap for many months and have really enjoyed using it but decided that it was time to venture into the world of soft structured carriers rather than wraps. I have never personally been a fan of slings (ring slings or otherwise) and neither me nor my little one cared for them (even though I do have 2 sling type carriers that I’m now looking to most likely sell).

My specific needs right now include more “toddler” wearing rather than babywearing. My 15 month old is 25 lbs 9 oz and 82 cm long, and I intend on wearing him for a while to come. He’s not a fan of strollers and to be honest, I’m happy without using a stroller, too. I’m also 20 weeks pregnant and looking to continue wearing him throughout the rest of my pregnancy, and then wearing him AND new baby after #2 is born — so a carrier that can be used for either infants or toddlers is necessary.

With those things in mind, I set out to find the carrier that best fit my specific needs. I looked around on Facebook, asked other mamas on Twitter, and searched blogs, websites, and forums for advice. I have to say, the Ergo carrier was probably most often mentioned. But I decided not to go with it. After viewing  this chart that compares many different baby carriers — including the Ergo, the Boba, and others — I decided to go with the Boba. Boba sells both a wrap and a carrier, but seeing as I already have a wrap, I went with the carrier.

Image of Carrier for Baby

This is not my personal picture. This is taken from the Boba website

Some of my favorite things about the Boba carrier include:

  • Fits babies from newborn to 45 pounds. Truly one of the most versatile carriers on the market.
  • Can easily convert to fit newborns without a newborn insert like other carriers need; easily accomodates toddlers right out of the box.
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Is SO easy to switch between people carrying the baby — only takes a minute to switch from Mom to Dad!
  • Can be used for a front or back carry. Both are easy to do.
  • Not to mention there are cute prints and colors, which is an added bonus!

This carrier runs about $125, which is completely average for a good carrier — and I put emphasis on good. Don’t waste your money on a cheap carrier. With time you will definitely notice that you need to have a quality carrier if you plan on using it frequently and these carriers have great support for both mom AND baby. We brought ours along on vacation up to Cape Cod — and we DID NOT bring a stroller with us! The ONLY thing we used was our Boba carrier and it was perfect. Even one cloudy morning around nap time where nap was NOT happening — I threw on my Boba carrier, stuck the baby in it, and walked on the beach for a while. He passed out happily and took a 2 hour nap!

This carrier also DOES NOT SUPPORT forward facing babywearing. I’m against forward facing babywearing and all of the research I have done supports that, also. Refer to this article for some reasons, and also, see here. I’m only going to link to some research on the subject, and not actually discuss, seeing as how this is a review of a product. But to make it clear, the Boba carrier specifically states in their instructions and on their website that this carrier does not support that type of carry.

Now even with a 2nd baby on the way, we have decided that we will NOT be purchasing a double stroller or any other strollers. We will be using our baby carriers primarily — it is the best way to keep both mom and baby happy and this Boba carrier is so excellent, we may be purchasing a 2nd one so both little ones can be worn in one!

Wearing my sleepy 15 month old on the beach.

Wearing my sleep 15 month old on the beach on vacation. 

[This is NOT a sponsored post and I was in no way compensated for this review. These are completely my own opinions based on a purchase that I made.]

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Socialpunk: An Excerpt.

I’m currently taking part in reading a new book, “Socialpunk” by Monica Leonelle. This blog post is part of a 3 part series, one in which I’ll review the book, another will bring you a short interview with Monica herself, and this one — an actual excerpt from the book! So stay with us to find out more about “Socialpunk” and Monica! 

Excerpt #1: Prologue

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.

He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.

But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.

He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.

He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.

In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.

 

Make sure to check back here for the upcoming interview and review! 

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