Saturday, January 30, 2016

Major Car Trip with a Toddler

If you have ever PCS or taken a long car trip you know they are never fun.  You push as far as you can and don't stop until the gas is low.  At least, that's how they always were for us.  The less number of days in the car meant more time at the actual location or a quicker arrival.  We then tossed two chocolate labs into the mix and it really didn't slow us down all that much.  We simply added an extra 15 minutes to run the dogs at each rest stop we took.  Sometimes a run simply meant wonder around on a leash while they find a nice spot to go to the bathroom.  Other times it means catching a ball.  It all depended on where we were able to stop.

When we tossed a toddler into the mix things got a whole lot trickier and fast.  He is ok in the car, but he, like everyone else, has their limits.  For us, this meant a whole new ball game.  We had to change up some of what we did to get through with everyone relatively happy and us not wanting to kill each other.  Keeping Bear happy and not screaming was key.  The less he cried and fussed the less we snapped at each other, the more relaxed the trip got and the smoother things went overall.  Below are some things that we did to help make long car rides or PCSing more tolerable for Bear.

In my purse packed with diapers, wipes,
and various cables for our electronics among other things.
I also had a travel bag for myself.

- Toys, TV shows, Movies, Books, etc.  - Whatever combination of things you bring make sure your kid hasn't seen them in a while.  This means I start putting things aside up to a month in advance if I can.  Obviously, I'm not asking Bear to part with his favorite Lighting McQueen, but maybe I can slip Mater out the mix without him noticing.  This could also mean I stop letting him watch a show that he likes less and less to the point where it's not on at all for a week or two.  The whole point is to basically be able to present the toy or show again and have them rediscover their love for that item.  It can be almost as good as buying them something new.

This was Bears Toy bag from our last PCS.
He was about a 1 1/2years old.
I tried to pick a variety of toys to maintain interest.

-Pack the iPad full!  I picked up an iPad mount for the back of the headrest that tilts a bit if needed.  Hubby puts new Movies and TV shows on there that we know Bear loves.  This usually means things we can't get on Netflix and stuff he doesn't have on DVDs like Paw Patrol or Wallykazam.  A big hint is if you have the ability to, pick episodes that are longer and in the same season.  The iPad will play them all like a playlist and that means you aren't turning around to change the show ever 20 minutes.  Movies are also great for this as well.  We basically cram that thing full.  I try to not give him all the options all the time.  I pick one movie and 1-2 shows to choose from at first.  The longer you are on the road the more you need to keep presenting new things.  Or new again things.  This means I never let him change it and I remove it from the stand when I change shows so he can't see the icons of the shows.

Let's be honest here, I know plenty of people that make long car trips with kids and they don't use electronics as a babysitter.  I am not one of those people.  Bear is not that kind of kid.  He likes his alone time.  He likes watching movies and tv shows.  I'm not saying he gets these things regularly, because he doesn't, but he gets them when he needs them.  Long car trips are just that occasion.  I could care less if he watched 4 hours of various shows if it keeps him content and happy throughout the trip.  There can and will be plenty of screen-free time for him once we hit a hotel or our destination.

For use at either the hotel via the laptop or
when we get to the new location. 

- Start early, End early.  This means we are up with the car pack and strolling into breakfast while the people who run the continental breakfast are still setting it up.  We eat, then hop into the car.  Bear is pretty relaxed and easy going in the morning so we try to take advantage of that.  Depending on the time we leave in the morning Bear sometimes naps so we hold off on videos until he is fully awake.  I never ever let him sleep past 7:30 am even if he had some time being awake prior to that.  This hopefully gives us about 2 hours on the road before his diaper needs to be changed.  Leaving early doesn't mean that we push it super late.  It means we get to the hotel no later than 6:30-7pm max.  12 hours is a long time for anyone in a car, especially a toddler.  Giving him time to run around the hotel room or better yet swim in the pool (if possible) will tire him out.

At the hotel, we like to let him run and climb within limits.

- When Bear goes down to bed we do as well, but wake up before toddler does.  It keeps him from waking up and forces us to get more sleep than we likely would if we didn't do this.  We do attempt to wake up a bit earlier than him to pack the car and reset before he gets up.  It's even better if we can transfer him to the car without him waking up or getting too alert.  Just remember to snag some food for the toddler for when he wakes up or even as snacks on the trip.

In the morning while we packed the car
he wanted to read while eating his waffle. 

- Maximize rest stops.
We keep food in the car so that we can at least try to feed Bear before we hit a rest stop.  This way Bear can spend his time running around rather than being stuck in yet another seat.  Sometimes this means I don't get to eat at the rest but in the car once we start again.  Then again a happy kid makes for an easier trip.  I won't lie it's not fun hearing him cry when I put him back in but he settled down quickly.  This also means that if you stop get gas, go to the bathroom, toss your trash, and do anything else you need to do at that time. 

-New items for arrival at destination.  Not everyone agrees with getting a child who just moved a new toy.  I have some conflict with it, but Bear hasn't created any association with the fact that he gets a new toy when we arrive at the new location.  This could be as small as a package of finger puppets or as big as a Little People playset.  When we go on car trips for family, I keep this small like a new matchbox / hot wheels car(s).  For a PCS, this item is usually bigger.  When we moved here Bear got a Little People farm animal set to go along with the farm playhouse I pulled aside and packed.  He played with it in his pack and play for hours since he hadn't seen it in almost 2 months.  This allowed me to clean the whole house with little distractions.  

The set up when got to the new location
before we had our HHG delivered.

I am cautious not to make that association of him getting a new toy when we travel.  The older he gets the less likely I am to do this.  We may change it to just letting him pick out a toy for his new room (PCS only) or simply get rid of it entirely.  The older he gets a new pack or markers, crayons, and tape may be all we get him so he can play with the empty boxes.  This I never mind doing.


What are your tips for traveling with kids?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meal Planning

I'm a few days late with this as it never posted but better late than never. I decided to do some meal planning again as it keeps me from wasting food.  Sadly we have been doing too much of this for my liking.  Therefore, meal planning is a must!

It's full on winter here after The Blizzard so it's a lot of soups, stews, and crockpot meals.   Here is what we have been and will be eating over the next 2 weeks.  Yes, it's only 9 meals (plus sauce), but between leftovers and onetime doing takeout we should be set.  



Several of these I make in bulk to add some meals to the freezer.  Why not make life easier down the road when I may not be feeling good or simply don't feel like cooking.

What's on your winter menu?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blizzard Jonas (Jan. 2016)

We got hit pretty hard by the storm, but I loved every minute of it!   It has been years since I have seen any significant type of snowfall.  I was excited when I heard it would be 2-3 feet of snow.  Total we got about 2 1/2 to 3 feet depending where you measure.  The high winds make it hard to get a real measurement because the snow drifts are as high as 5+ feet in some areas.

from the Friday when it started to Sunday morning when it ended

This is the back porch.  I stacked the chairs after it started to make it easier to clean off.  We got a lot of snow!  So much so that we had to go outside all bundled up to have some fun!

Friday evening

It started snowing in our Maryland town at around 2pm.  When there were just a few inches on the ground we took Bear and the pups outside to play.  Coco was in heaven!  She loves snow and seeing her frolic in the snow made Bear laugh his butt off.  Duke on the other hand had to get used to the snow.  He's a bit of a baby when it comes to rain or snow.  We lost track of time and ended up coming inside at almost 8pm!  A late dinner and then we relaxed inside before shoveling prior to bed.


The next morning everything we shoveled the was covered again much like we expected.  This didn't stop us from going outside to work and play. 

Saturday Morning

We tossed the frisbee for the pups and watching them leap through the snow was awesome!  They had a blast!  Bear enjoyed rolling around and tossing snow at the dogs.  It was light fluffy snow so "snowballs" didn't really exist, yet that didn't stop Bear from trying.

Coco is so pretty!!!

After naptime we went back outside for more snow fun.  It started to get deep at this point and Bear found it easier to "belly boggin" (yes, that's a paw patrol reference) or crawl as he barely made a dent into the snow.  Either way he had a blast.  I helped with some more light shoveling while bare ran around on the walkway.  

Saturday Evening

Once I finished everything I was capable of doing we went inside to start dinner.  Bear however, just wanted to stare at Hubby who was outside still shoveling.  All in all we (mainly hubby) shoveled on 6 seperate occasion in total.  It did make the work easier for the most part.



The last time shoveling was obviously the easiest of the bunch for the simple fact that wind has died down and there wasn't new snow falling on what you just did.  In fact the last time I helped shovel the driveway by the time I reached the end there was another 2 inches of snow where I started. Oh well that's what happens when shovel mid storm.

Sunday morning after shoveling

I cleaned these steps more times than I would have liked

For the Pups

One of the smart things we did was put an old sheet down because the dogs don't like going on snow.  We had to shovel it a bit, but it worked well.  Hubby also shoveled a path for the pups so when letting them out quickly.  They don't have to dry off in the crate afterwards.  I'll deal with just wiping their paws since it's better for everyone.


Overall, I am thankful we did not lose power like many people expected us to.  We had an wonderful time playing in the snow and will continue to until it's all gone.  It also helps that it tires everyone out.  


On a side note, I wish they made maternity snow pants!  I bought a brand new pair for Columbia snow pants in the fall, but with my preggo belly they couldn't be snapped / zippered closed.  I managed to put a D ring belt on and use the belly and to keep them up while outside.  It worked, but it wasn't pretty.  I can only imagine how my Alaska Girls or others in heavy winter locations handled this!  



Monday, January 25, 2016

A Simple Meal


My grandmother was not the best cook in the world, but she did a have few recipes that have become comfort food for me.  Stuffed peppers are one of those recipes.


Cook white rice according to the directions.


Core the green bell peppers but don't go through the bottom.


Using a knife put an "X" in the bottom of each nub.  This will allow the grease and oil to drain from the pepper.


Find a Corningware or similar dish that fits the peppers snug and keeps them upright.


Crack an egg into a bowl.


Add seasoning; Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, and oregano. I know it seems redundant as these are all in Italian seasonings, but it's about the right combinations of these.  Not pictured: onion powder and garlic powder.  About 1/2 a tablespoon each.


Add ground beef and few spoonfuls of pasta sauce.



Mix until combined completely.


Add cooled rice to meat mixture a little at a time until you reach a good consistency.  I like a healthy amount of rice in mine so just eyeball it.


Once combined this is what the meat and rice mixture looks like.


Divide the mixture and put them into the peppers.  Don't pack them too tightly but do fill them up leaving just a bit of space on top.



Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the Corningware.  


Put the stuffed pepper into the baking dish.  Toss a tablespoon or so of sauce on top of the peppers.


I made these a bit earlier than I needed them so I put cling wrap on it and placed it into the fridge.

If you chose to make this early like I did, then let it sit on the counter for about 20minutes or so until it hits room temperature.  Preheat oven or in our case the toaster oven to 350 degrees.


Remove the cling film and loosely place a piece of tin foil over the top so it doesn't burn. 


Bake until the center of the meat hits a safe internal temperature.  







Once done we like to cut it in half and pour sauce over top with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese over top.


If you like a bit of extra spice you can always add some crushed red pepper.

The pepper will be cooked through, but not too soft.  The meat mixture will have a bit of a meatloaf texture and taste similar to a meatball.  This isn't for everyone but it just good simple comfort food to me.  


Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Blizzard Favorites!

We are bracing for a big snowstorm to hit here in Maryland I'm ready for it!  Excited even.  I plan to maybe go sledding with Bear and watch the pups enjoy the some playtime in the snow.  Since the snow is already coming down so how about a quick Friday Favorites Blizzard style!  Let me add that this is NOT a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliate links.  These are simply items I love.




Great winter boots!  I have Ugg Adirondack boots 2

Source

I love, love, love, love, love these boots.  They are ridiculously comfortable and warm.  I don't choose to wear them with the cuff folded down but that's just me.   They have been worth every penny!


A basic Crockpot.

Source
Who doesn't love warm meals on a snowy day?  I prefer a simple basic crockpot to make some of my favorite soups and stews that I enjoy when it's cold outside.  Some people hate the crockpot but I am not one of them.  You can make healthy delicious meals in them if you put a little bit of effort into it.  Beef Stroganoff is on the menu tonight.  


A pretty Mug
source

I love a pretty mug and Starbucks lately have had some super cute ones.  I love a hot beverage in a pretty mug especially when it's snowing outside.


A good book

source

I'm in the middle of this one so I think that I will definitely be able to finish it by the end of this storm.  Have you read this?  There is so much to keep track of!  I even have some quick notes I made on my kindle to remind


Hand warmers.

source


I prefer reusable ones like above.  In fact, these are the ones I own.  I like the extra help to warm up after some time outside.  Since we have a gas stove we won't have a problem reactivating them if we need to.



Last but not least a Lantern, a storm lantern, and glowsticks.  Basically, a light source.



Call me paranoid or whatever you want you, you need to be prepared when a blizzard is coming to town.  We are expecting 2 feet of snow in a pretty short period of time.  While I hope I never need these, they are a smart thing to have.  A battery operated camping lantern and some small storm lanterns are good to get us through. Some glowsticks for Bear and we are set!



What are your snow day or blizzard favorites?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Let's play catch up...

In case, you missed my announcement you can check it out here.  Frankly, it's just a cute pic, but it is a starting point.


A very early positive

Since I have been keeping this pregnancy secret for some time now I have few weeks worth of events to catch you all up on.  Clearly there will be some bump update (not every week), baby posts, and all that sort of stuff making itself fully known here on this little blog of mine over the next year.  I will try to not only post about just baby stuff while still trying to document all that sort of stuff.

To start, I am currently in my 10th week of pregnancy.  It's not been easy on me to say the least, but let's jump back a bit, shall we?



I found out I was expecting in early December and no it wasn't a shock.  We had been working with a specialist so when I saw the positive I was cautiously optimistic.  The reason I wasn't jumping for joy was simply because I knew there were several large follicles prior to triggering.  The chance of multiples was clearly there.  After making the proper calls, they scheduled an ultrasound pretty early on.  At the first ultrasound the doctor told me I was "indeed pregnant, however, the results are inconclusive as to how many."  He could only tell me for sure that there was at least 1 gestational sac, but several shadows he was finding could have indicated more.  I would have to wait two weeks and come back for them to give me a definitive answer.

A dreadfully long two weeks later we found out that we were pregnant with just one "very healthy" baby.  It was kind of funny, though.  She prepped me beforehand to warn me not to freak if there is more than one as some passed out on her yesterday.  I assured her I would be good as long as she didn't say the words "Baby D."   If you didn't know they label multiples in utero via letters, not numbers.  She stated the first sonogram "sucked" as far as what it showed as there are two possible shadows she sees that she believed could be late implanting embryos.  I am happy there is just one healthy baby.  The only additional concern at this point was that my lab work indicated my progesterone was steadily dropping.  Never a good thing.  They put me on Endometrine 3 times daily to counteract this.  So far so good.  It is a dreadful medicine, but it's doing what it's supposed so I have to deal with it.  Once the specialist confirmed the viability they passed me along to the OB.

Baby #2 is to the left of the yolk sac

My OB, whom I love, deals with normal to some in-house high-risk patients.  She works hand in hand with MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine, think high-risk specialist). I'm classified right now as high-risk based off of Bear being born 6 weeks early due to preeclampsia.  My doc is very proactive about this and does not want to mess around.  She has me taking my BP and wants to be notified if it hits anything over 130.  Additionally, at my 8-week appointment, she ordered extra Lab work, a 24-hour urine collection, and the dreaded glucose test all to be completed within a week.

Nothing like carrying around two jugs of your own urine
 into a doctors office to be told someone would come and get them.

Yes, I washed the bag after this despite the jugs being in a medically sealed bag.

YUCK!

I did the 24-hour urine collection and then when I handed it in also did the lab work and glucose test.  The awful flavor of this drink kills me.  Who on earth decided on this flavor is beyond me.  It's dreadful.  I have a few more of these tests to look forward too over the course of this pregnancy.  I passed both tests thankfully.  A few more weeks until I need to possibly do them again.


BUMP UPDATE...

So far morning sickness is kicking my butt big time!  It's different from my first pregnancy.  I was sick in the morning from about 2 am to noon.  With this one, I am nauseous randomly throughout the day but I notice it more when I first wake up and in the evening around dinner time.  Bear is adjusting to it as best as possible.    I keep a large cup near me at all times just in case which Bear has learned not to touch.  Thankfully, it was an easy thing for him to learn.  I do as much as I possibly can try to make sure that I am spending as much time with Bear as I used to, even if that means using aqua doodle with him while I lay on the couch.  

Sleep is a hard thing lately.  This time, it isn't because of the heartburn.  I thank heavens for that one! I learned early not to eat much, if anything, after 7-8pm so it's not killing me at night.  However, sleeping is not the most comfortable thing lately.  Be the medicine or hormones I don't know, but I'm having hot flashes randomly and body aches.  I thought all of this came later.  I'm picking up a body pillow soon and hopefully that will help.  I also added a humidifier to the room to combat the dry air.  It's working beautifully.

I think this a big of enough update for now.  I have another appointment coming up soon and will update again then.  Hopefully, some of these ailments will mild out by then.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Guess what?






That's right Baby #2 will be here in August of 2016.  We could not be happier.  
I am currently in my 9th week of this high-risk pregnancy.
I will fill you all in on the craziness up until now in another post later this week, 
but for now, I will just say everyone (baby included) are all doing well. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wilton Decorating Set

I love baking and I have always wanted to get a bit more creative with the way I decorate the pastries I make.  Now I can which makes me want to do back flips!  Almost literally, if I wasn't afraid I'd sprain something I would do them.  I was trolling amazon and found a deal I couldn't pass up.  Now these beauties are part of my kitchen!!!!  (Insert loud girly squeals)



This is the Wilton master decorating set.  I am no master at decorating, but I look forward to trying my hand at it.  



Not only did the incredibly cheap price sell me but the fact that it came in a case didn't hurt either.




I'm off to bake something!


Monday, January 11, 2016

20 Questions about me

This was one that I saw floating around once again and decided to give it a whirl!  



1.  Favorite Food

Southern Italian and French food are top of my list always!


2.  Flip Flops or High Heels

I love a super cute pair of heels but I tend to be wearing flip flops most often lately.


3.  Favorite Place to Shop for Yourself

I don't know that I have one place that I get my clothes from.  If it fits and looks good then I buy it!


4.  Standard Coffee Order

Coffee, Black and whatever is strongest.


5.  Road-Trip Must-Have Snack

Anything homemade and beef jerky.  Although that is normally homemade too.


6.  DIY or Hire Out

I'm a DIY person but I know my limits.  I'm totally good with yielding to an expert.  


7.  Top 5 TV Shows

Hmmm... in no particular order; iZombie, Grimm, The Big Bang Theory, Master Chef, NCIS


8.  Favorite Book

Do cookbooks count?  If so then, anything Rachel Khoo.  If not then, how about "the Help."


9.  Favorite form of Exercise

It's a toss up between running and yoga.


10.  Favorite Piece of Jewelry

My wedding ring and engagement band.  I can count them all as one thing since the jeweler put them together.


11.  Do you try something new at a restaurant or stick with your favorites

I stick with my favorites.  Why mess with perfection?


12.  name one makeup item you can't live without

Laura Mercier secret camouflage is best ever concealer


13.  What's on your nightstand?

I have too many things on my nightstand to recant everything but a few books, my cell phone, the baby monitor and a lamp to name a few.


14.  What's one thing motherhood has taught you

Nothing lasts forever.  Be it morning sickness during pregnancy, a bad day or a temper tantrum.  It's not going to last forever despite how it feels at that moment.


15.  Music that reminds you of high school
anything by Rob Thomas or Britney Spear (when she first came out)


16.  If you could live anywhere in the world besides your current city, where would you live?

I'd love to live in England for a while.  I think that could be fun.


17.  Tell us something about you, we may not know
I'm in no way technically inclined.  I'm horrible with computers which is why I use a basic netbook.  Even that throws me for loops sometimes.


18.  website you browse or read (besides blogs)

Fox News is likely the most read site.


19.  Favorite outfit
Jeans and a tee shirt


20.  Dream vacation 
I would love to go back to Australia and New Zealand with the family.  It was beautiful and had so much fun! 


let me know if you join in as I'd like see your answers to these.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Faux Christmas Take 2

We had out third and final Christmas celebration over New Years weekend.  This time, it was with my in-laws / Hubby's family.  Overall, it was pretty uneventful considering it was, after all, our third Christmas celebration.  

We got in Thursday night, New Year's Eve, ate dinner and played games.  All the kids went to bed then the adults stayed up playing catchphrase and enjoying some snacks until midnight.  It wasn't soon after that we all crashed.  Bears early morning wake ups don't leave much room for celebrations as 6am rolls around dreadfully early.

Sure enough, the next morning bear woke up early, 5 am early.  Four hours of sleep is not even close to enough for me.  I put him in the bed with us hoping he might snooze for a while, but that never happened.  At 5:30 am I gave up and headed downstairs to let him watch tv while I sipped some coffee.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing, spending time outside in the cool but sunny weather.  Once again we enjoyed a delicious dinner.  My in-laws always have the best food.  The rest of the evening consisted of the boys (hubby and his brothers) drinking in excess, smoking cigars and playing cards against humanity.  Not my cup of tea so I hung out inside watching a movie and chatting  until everyone came inside for bed.  Let's just say it was an interesting evening that lead to zero hangovers.  I'm shocked to say the least.

Once again despite the late bedtime Bear had trouble sleeping and on top of it woke up again early.  Note to self, go to bed earlier when away as Bear doesn't sleep as well.  Regardless, the next morning came and everyone woke up bright and early.  Remember, it was "Christmas" morning.  Once the adults had settled in with coffee all the kids presents were brought into the living room to open.






Bear got some great gifts!  A paw patrol backpack (the ears flap! Super cute!), paw patrol paint book, paw patrol chase mega blok style cruiser, a 6 pin bowling ball set, a Melissa and Doug shape puzzle set, and a water doodle board (think aqua doodle but in a board form).  Bear also received several books.





We got each other one gift each to open there.  Hubby got the "bug a salt rifle" (see pic below) and I got the Le Creuset enameled braiser.  



From family we got rack-o, foodie fight rematch, intercooler and remote (both for the Xbox), Google cardboard viewer, and the LEM switch foot for the grinder.  Not pictured is the wooden salad bowl, thermometer with remote, and chitty chitty bang bang DVD/BluRay. We all very happy with what we got.  

While we enjoyed faux Christmas one and two, we will likely not be doing this again next year.  Three Christmas' was a lot.