An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

How To Manage A Picky Eater

Getting toddlers to eat enough protein their growing bodies need is tough. Here's a great option for busy parents to start their child's day with a high-protein punch!

This post is sponsored by NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I never thought I'd be the mom of a picky eater. Before I had kids, I was convinced that picky eaters were MADE, not BORN. I had all these grandiose ideas about how all I had to do to have excellent eaters was expose them early and consistently to healthy, organic foods. I'd never make them a different supper than I was cooking - no, all I had to do to get excellent, diverse eaters was make one meal for the whole family, and everyone would eat it happily. Now that I'm on the verge of being a mom of four kids, I know better! Guess what? Picky eaters are born. Tastes and textures are different for everyone, and everyone doesn't like everything. Toddlers seem to be especially fond of everything in the carbohydrate family. Crackers always go over well but grilled chicken? Not so much! I've dealt with a highly picky eater and struggling to get him to eat enough protein. Here's how to manage a picky eater.

I joke with my friends that I sometimes only cook supper at all for Otto. That boy will eat ANYTHING, and a lot of it. His favorite thing to do is eat. If it's been an hour and a half since his last meal, he'll look at me and say, "Mommy, I want to eat now. It's time to eat more!" Protein, veggies, fresh fruit, homemade minestrone soup, lasagna, bratwurst, you name it, he eats it. Three to four eggs plus toast plus fresh fruit is what he eats for his SECOND breakfast of the day (I'm not kidding). It's no wonder this kid is 95% for height and 85% for weight. I'm not concerned about his diet at all! I am concerned about our grocery budget bankrupting us when he's a teenager though...

I digress. 

My first born son, Henry is entirely another story. From 6 months old when we started him on solid food through 15 months, he was a great eater. I exposed him to all sorts of fruits and veggies, and attempted to puree meats for him too. He never got into the meat, but I thought "Well I don't want to eat that either so I don't blame him!" At 15 months old, when he was properly sitting at a high chair and feeding himself at meals, he went on a food strike. He wouldn't eat ANYTHING except blueberries and whole milk. That was it. For two solid weeks. I was baffled! I was in tears thinking that he'd be malnourished and starved!

Eventually I was able to re-introduce yogurt and cheese. Other berries. And whole wheat/whole grain crackers. He clearly didn't die of malnutrition from his two week food strike, but he did continue to be an insanely picky eater. Berries, crackers and dairy are always a hit, but veggies and meats? Only recently (and keep in mind he's four years old) has he even began to TRY these foods. Clearly, that leaves us a protein gap that needs to be filled so that he can grow and so that he stays full at preschool until it's lunch time.

NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® Super Breakfast is made from 100% real milk (that's a big hit for my dairy loving picky eater!) so it's full of Vitamins A and D and calcium. It has ZERO artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors and ZERO high fructose corn syrup in it, so I feel good about giving it to my kids. And it's loaded with 12g of protein, so my picky eater is getting a great boost of muscle and brain building power to get him through his morning.

If it were up to Henry, he'd eat pancakes and berries for breakfast every morning. I love that I can add this Nesquik® Super Breakfast drink (that's available in the juice aisle at Walmart) to round out his whole grain pancakes and fruit with more protein. It comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors, but my picky eater won't touch anything with chocolate in it. This kid legitimately won't touch chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, he's THAT picky!

Parents, if you struggle with an insanely picky eater like I do, rest a little easier knowing that you didn't create that monster - he or she made him/herself! Keep on exposing them to new foods and encouraging them to try them. Don't force food on them. Praise them when they do try new foods and tell them "we'll try better tomorrow" on days they simply refuse. And to get some of your picky eater's protein, vitamin, and calcium needs in, get Nesquik® Super Breakfast drinks to add to their breakfast! Managing a picky eater isn't easy, but products that taste great and have "hidden" nutrition make it that much easier. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

My Best Cooking Tips and Tricks

I've been in the kitchen since I was a toddler and have developed some great cooking tips and tricks over the past three decades

One of the biggest surprises and sources of joy for me from blogging has been how well my recipes have been received by y'all. People are marking my food pins on Pinterest as "tried" and giving them amazing reviews and food and wine companies are reaching out to me to curate recipes for their websites and blogs. That is SO rewarding! I love it when people love my food. I have no classic training beyond a few classes at Cooks Of Crocus Hill and Central Market. I was taught the old fashioned way - my mom had me in the kitchen. By the age of 8, I was responsible for cooking one to two meals a week because she was a busy, working single mom. My stepmom is also a gifted cook and had my sister and me by her side in the kitchen. She taught us to recognize herbs from smell alone! From all my informal education via hands-on learning and decades of cooking later, I've got some great cooking tips and tricks I've developed for everyday meals. No concrete recipe, but rather ways to make your everyday food turn out great and tasting better than ever.

 Cooking tips and tricks on how to prepare tricky meal items like juicy burgers, homemade bone broth and perfect every time #cookinghacks #homemade #recipes #howto

I created this list of tips and tricks based on foods the American family eats regularly, and what we ourselves eat a lot of. Some of the items are things I struggled with for YEARS (I literally just learned how to make perfect-every-time quinoa) or things family members or friends text me about, asking for my advice on how to do it better or have it turn out tastier. And voila! These are my best cooking tips and tricks that you can use in everyday cooking and weekly meal planning for great food, every time.

Perfect every time quinoa or brown rice:

Want the recipe of the quinoa pictured above? It's right here! Quinoa is a staple in our house because it's a complete protein and refrigerates well. Brown rice is an awesome complex carbohydrate that makes great casseroles, side dishes and salads. But like I said, it took me FOREVER to figure out how to have it be light and fluffy, and not thick and clumpy. Here's how to have your quinoa and/or brown rice turn out every time (no stupid rice cooker needed!):

- the water to grain ratio should be 2:1 meaning two cups of water for every cup of quinoa/rice you're making
- bring water to boil with 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt for every cup of grain you're making (the only time I'd omit the onion flakes is if you're making a sweet rice pudding - add the salt still though!)
- cook on medium low heat covered until the water has disappeared. Once the water is gone, turn off the heat and leave covered on the stove for a half hour to "steam." The quinoa/rice will not be fully cooked until it's had a chance to steam! No more water is necessary however. Just let it sit and absorb the water fully as it sits covered on the stove (if you have an electric stove, first I'm so sorry and second, move it to a non-hot place on the stove so the bottom doesn't burn while steaming.)
- after the quinoa/rice has sat for 30 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. It will be light, airy and each grain will be separate from the other. The grain will also be seasoned and tasty as is, or ready to be added to a salad, stir fry, casserole or whatever dish you're making for supper.

Tastiest burgers

I wasn't much of a burger lover until I moved to Texas. Kinda like how you get way better seafood when you live by the sea, and pork products were far better when I lived in MN (I won't even eat the pork here in Texas, it tastes so bad to me!), when in Rome, you do as the Romans, and here in Texas, the beef is fantastic. I now joke I could be a vegetarian who eats beef once or twice a week! I can pass on every other animal product but the beef here in Tejas is amaze. Here's what I've learned makes the best, tastiest burgers:

- Do NOT buy pre-frozen patties. I repeat: DO NOT BUY PRE-FROZEN, PRE-SHAPED PATTIES.
- In a large bowl, place your fresh ground grass fed beef (local if you can, it's best when it's never been frozen.Yes, the extra bucks for the grass fed beef is totally worth it!) and salt and pepper it well. Add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and a tablespoon of steak sauce for every pound of beef you're preparing.
- Mix with your hands. You want the seasoning to be well incorporated, but not mixed to mush! Form beef patties of your desired size and use your thumb to indent the middle. Beef "plumps when you cook it" so this will make it cook to an even size, as opposed to a rounding effect of the patty.
- Let rest for at least 5 minutes after your remove it from the grill. This will enable the juices to stay in the patty rather than running out all over your plate or making your bun soggy (and that bun should be toasted too)!

Homemade Bone Broth:

It's trendy AF right now to drink or cook with "bone broth." Which is actually how all broth used to be made... And is SO easy to make yourself! I was at Whole Foods and saw that an 8oz container (EIGHT OUNCES!) was $2.99. Is that a joke?! If you're buying that, the joke is on you homie. Bone broth is more flavorful than stock. It's cooked longer and therefore more marrow comes out of the bones from which it's made. It's how I've always made stock, but I'll get on-trend and call it bone broth. Don't be bamboozled and spend your retirement on this stuff, it's so easy and CHEAP to make yourself!

- First, you need a carcass. Turkey, chicken, ox tails - something with the bones still attached to it so that you can get at that marrow. Butchers will sell bones, or use the skeleton from your rotisserie chicken (which I also find foolish to buy - $10-12 for a precooked chicken when you could buy it raw and make it yourself for $4.99. It's called math folks. Stop getting ripped off!)
- If you bought raw bones from a butcher, roast in the oven at 375 for an hour to develop the flavor. If you're using your turkey from Thanksgiving or you forked over too much cash for a rotisserie chicken, you're all set.
- Place bones in the largest stock pot you've got and fill with water. Quarter an onion (no need to even peel it), add about 4 stalks of celery (just break them in half with your hands) and add a handful of prepared snack carrots (the kind that come peeled and cut for snacking) or cut regular carrots into thirds and toss them in. Again, no need to peel them.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and let boil for 3-4 hours. Add water as necessary. You can cover it partially with a lid too, just allow some room for steam to escape so that it doesn't boil over.
- I always start my bone broth after dinner (you know, when I've got a carcass to use after we've eaten it!) so at this point, I turn off the heat and leave it covered on the stove. Yes, overnight. You're going to fully boil it again, it's fine.
- Next day, crank the heat back up on it. Make sure it's only partially covered. Add salt, pepper and celery seed (if making it from poultry) or a few shakes of dry steak seasoning (if making it from beef). Let boil for another hour or two.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Strain with a colander to get all the bones, onion, unpeeled carrots, etc out. Great to use in soups, sauces, or drink as is. Freeze for up to 3-4 months and make a soup later with it.

Non-gooey/raw center banana bread

Have you ever made banana bread, followed the directions to a T, cut into it after it was done aaaaaaand... Had to toss out the middle because it was still raw? Or it barely bakes up to the middle of the bread loaf pan, and is insanely dense and and just too dang gooey? You know, when you're kinda like, "Is there still some salmonella up in this bread from the raw eggs I'm definitely consuming right now?" or "this bread would be so much better if the person who had made it had actually BAKED it!" These are all thoughts I've had when I've eaten others' banana bread. I made a homemade loaf last week, and my nanny asked me how I got it to "look so perfect and taste so good", right as I was drafting this post, and I thought, dang! I bet a lot of people don't know this. Here's how to get cooked through perfectly, yet still moist banana bread:

- First, there are tons of recipes and I'm sure you have your favorite. If you don't, use this one.
- Use extremely ripe bananas, and use all the juices that come out of them! I'm talking nearly all brown bananas. No matter what recipe you're using, you'll want at least 3 of them in there. Yes, you will.
- Unless you're following my recipe that I linked above, double the baking power the recipe calls for. Don't use any baking soda, that's too salty for a sweet recipe. Omit any baking soda, and double the baking powder. That's how I get my loaves to get so high in the middle, when is essential for having a non-dense, non-brick-like banana bread.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: Bake the loaf for over an hour. Recipes call for all kinds of baking times and temps. If you're using a standard loaf pan and the recipe only calls for 45-50 minutes of baking, find a new recipe because that creator has no clue what they're doing. The edges of the bread should be a dark golden brown. I've lived in all climates and I've never once had banana bread take less than an hour and 10 minutes. You really want to take it to the point of thinking, "crap, I'm going to burn this!" and then give it another two minutes in the oven. I promise if you used enough butter or oil in the bread, and at least 3 bananas, it will still be a delicious and non-dry loaf of goodness!

Perfect every time!
I'm thinking of turning this into a mini-series, so if you have any questions on how to make something, shoot me a comment on this post or in social media and I'll add it to my list for the next one! Cooking is definitely an art. It takes years of practice to master certain skills, and years of mistakes to learn the best way to do things. These are my best cooking tips and tricks I've developed from my own years of mistakes and botched dishes. Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Family Vacation Must-Haves

If you're traveling with children, check out these must haves to make your vacation more enjoyable

One of the truest things I've ever heard is that traveling with kids isn't a vacation; it's a trip. Actual vacations are for adults only, when you can actually relax, do the activities you want to do (without whining or complaining or figuring in nap schedules!) and maybe, just maybe, get a good night's sleep. Bringing the kids? Sure it can still be a fun time, but it's no vacation - it's a trip. It's still work. With no in-state family and now both of our folks owning vacation properties, we travel with our kids quite a bit. Today I'm sharing some of the best tips we've learned along the way to have as seamless a trip as possible, even with babies and toddlers in tow. These are my family vacation must-haves! *Affiliate links used*

What to pack for easier travel with babies and toddlers, vacationing with babies, family travel tips #vacation #familytravel #travel #babies #toddlers
Preparing to leave on the trip:
- Packing list
THIS IS ESSENTIAL. It seems silly, but when you're packing - especially if you've got two people contributing items to the suitcase - you've got to have a running list or you'll forget things. You think your husband put your toddlers swimsuits in, he thinks you did and the next thing you know, you've promised your child a dip in the pool and she has nothing to wear! You ruin a whole morning making an emergency trip to Target for a few suits with a fussy toddler when you could have been having fun in the pool. Same goes for you and your belongings! Make a packing list for you, too. When I packed for my sister's wedding a few years ago, I was so focused on not forgetting anything for my boys and making sure my dress was packed so that it wouldn't get ruined that I completely forgot to pack underwear. The town they got married in had ONE boutique (no Target, no Walmart) and I spent $120 on three pairs of panties that weren't even in my size. For the trip home I wore a pair that I had hand washed in the sink. That was fun. Make a packing list for everyone, and cross items off as they're packed.

- Spare travel outfit
Here's the thing about traveling with kids: They throw up. My kids never get car sick and Otto has legitimately only thrown up twice in his whole life, but the second you're stuck in a small space they do things they've never done before. Like vomit. All over themselves and on you too. I recommend a full change of clothes for them and at least a shirt for you. Pack it in the diaper bag or your carry on and be prepared for the worst! If you child has a history of car sick/air sickness or isn't fully potty trained yet, bring two outfits. Don't forget a small plastic bag you can tie the dirty clothes off in so you don't have to smell them, too!

For actual travel, either by car, plane or train:
The good news is that you don't have to pay to check your car seats! The bad news is that you've got to protect them from careless airline employees. You've also got to get them to the bag drop, and those suckers are heavy. We use these padded car seat covers to protect our seats while they're checked. They also have a backpack feature that makes them easier to transport, especially when you're lugging along kids and suitcases and diapers bags. It's the easiest way to travel with car seats, hands down!

Whether you're traveling by car, plane or train, headphones are essential. I know you don't want to hear the obnoxious movie or TV show you're letting your child watch, and neither does anyone else! When we flew home from Myrtle Beach this summer, and had nearly 12 hours of delays in Atlanta, we were thrilled to see our flight had in-headrest TV screens for the kids with a bunch of new shows they haven't seen. Both kids sat and intently watched Mickie Mouse Club at 11pm after a full day of travel, for the entire flight home. These headphones saved us and everyone around us from over-tired toddler meltdowns! And, from having to suffer through hearing Mickie Mouse Club for the hour and a half night time flight.
Newsflash: Most airlines have weight limits on gate checked strollers. That means your UppaBaby, City Select or BOB strollers are a hard no when you fly. Why you would gate check your expensive strollers is also beyond me... It's not like the airline staff are more gentle with your high end items, know what I mean?! We use the exact one I linked because it's PERFECT. It has a storage basket under it unlike a crappy umbrella stroller, it's got cup holders for sippy cups and your coffee, and a full bar you push with so that you can hang bags on it, too. When traveling with kids, I need that stroller to multitask, so it needs to carry more than just the child! This one in particular has a fully reclining seat, and we've gotten both boys in it (two toddlers will fit in it sitting up when the back is laid down). Or one child can nap in it while you're vacationing. It's so lightweight I can grab the folding handle with my pinky finger and it opens with a simple shake. Plus, it still has safety features like air-locked wheels. This is HANDS DOWN the best stroller to have with you, for air travel and on your trip - especially if you've got more than one child!

- Cheap entertainment
We're a big fan of getting a cheap activity book set like this one. It has stickers and crayons so there's tons to keep them busy, but if it gets lost or forgotten on the plane, it's not the end of the world! Also, it's like kids know how much you spent on it... And the cheapest toys always seem to be the most entertaining, I kid you not.

While you're vacationing:
The thing I've learned about baby and toddler sleep (and I have two kids who go to bed at 7pm and stay in their beds all night, not getting up or out of them until 6-7am!) is that you need to be as consistent as possible. Recreating the environment that they sleep in at home is key to great sleepers while you're on vacation. We bring a sound machine, since my kids still use one at home. This helps block out noisy hotel rooms, the fireworks we had to listen to every night at Myrtle Beach and just about any other obnoxious noise - in addition to being "more like home."

- "Lovies" or comfort toys
Same theory as above - you want to recreate their familiar sleeping habits at home. If your child sleeps with a lovie, you gotta bring it! And don't put it in checked baggage lest they lose it; bring it in your purse or carry on! Otto is IN LOVE with this thing, so much so that when I found it on Amazon to link it here, I quickly bought another just to have as a backup! Henry has a duck he got as a consolation prize when we forgot to pack his beloved bunny. We were headed to my parents cabin in rural Wisconsin and my mom had picked up a stuffed duck secondhand just to have some toys at the cabin. He's now attached to that thing but there's no buying a backup!
Traveling with kids is a literal trip! Pack these must-haves for your next family vacation, and you'll have the best time possible, even though your trip will still be work. I'm telling you, making packing lists is essential, that stroller is the best travel stroller there is - even if you've got more than one child - and do your best to re-create the sleep environment your child has at home. It will all pay off in the end if you use these family vacation must haves!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What Colic, Eczema and Allergies Might Tell You About Your Baby's Gut Health

New research points to the root cause of colic, eczema and allergies. The good news is that there is something you can do about it!

This post is sponsored by Evivo but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

No parent wants their child to suffer from eczema or various allergies (including dreaded food allergies), and they certainly don't want their baby to suffer through the endless hours of crying and screaming that comes with the fussiness and gas of colic. For years - decades even - it seemed like these ailments were out of parental control and it was simply luck, hit or miss, or whether or not your card came up in the universe that determined if your child would or would not suffer from these issues. Not anymore! There's tons of new research that indicates exactly what the root of the issue is. And better yet, there's something so easy you can do about it.

I'm actually enjoying my last ever pregnancy! We're welcoming twin boys this fall and there's SO much new research to catch up on for infant health

The real kicker about these health issues is that they're hard to spot. Your baby is born, and he or she appears healthy - she's hitting her developmental milestones, he's gaining weight and eating well. But why is it that so many babies, who looked healthy at birth and as infants, develop autoimmune and metabolic issues later in life? Did you know:
  • There are at least two children with food allergies in almost every kindergarten classroom (FARE) 
  • Over one million children in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes (American Diabetes Association) 
  • The rate of obesity doubles as children grow from toddlers to teens (CDC)
  • 9.6 million children under the age of 18 have eczema; of this total, 3.2 million children (33%) have moderate to severe cases (National Eczema Org) 
What's with these skyrocketing autoimmune, obesity, food allergy and eczema rates?! Why didn't our grandparents generation have these issues? What's changed in the last 30-50 years that would result in these adverse health implications? As it would turn out, the LACK of bacteria is to blame. Researchers have deep-dived into these health problems to discover that the presence of B. infantis, (the good bacteria baby needs) reduces the potentially harmful bacteria linked to conditions like eczema, allergies, diabetes and obesity. It’s disappeared over generations and babies in the U.S. no longer receive B. infantis at birth because of the unintended consequences of modern medical practices like C-sections, antibiotics, and formula feeding.

I'm not here to shame c section moms. I've had one myself due to a breech baby, and might get stuck having another with the arrival of my twins this fall if they're presenting breech when I go into labor. I'm not here to shame formula feeding moms - I largely formula fed my first son, because breastfeeding overwhelmed me as a first time mom. These medical practices SAVE lives! But they're also grossly overused, and their overuse has health implications for society.

Here's the good news: there's something SO SIMPLE you can do to restore your child's gut health! Implement a daily probiotic. Evivo probiotics are full of the good bacteria that help restore your baby's gut health to it's natural, proper balance. When bad bacteria are pushed out and good bacteria thrive, your baby is more likely to develop a healthier metabolism and a stronger immune system. That’s why helping your baby build a strong foundation for gut health now (especially within the first six months of life) will help protect and keep her safe from potential metabolic and autoimmune issues down the road.

Painting and prepping the nursery for our babies' arrival

This research has been fascinating to read as I prepare to bring my last two children into the world. I knew about the detrimental effects of c sections - both to the baby and to myself who had terrible PPD (postpartum depression) after my first son was born. I've been working with my OB and a team of specialists in attempts to ensure I can VBAC (vaginal delivery after cesarean section) my twins, and have been stocking up on breastfeeding supplies to set myself up for breastfeeding success with them, too (including a breastfeeding pillow built specifically for twins and a hospital grade breast pump).

I'm so glad I learned about the health benefits of Evivo probiotics and their importance to infant gut health - and how that impacts my children's overall health down the road! I feel like I have one more tool in my "mom tool belt" to give my kids the best shot at living a healthy life for their whole lives. I've taken a probiotic while pregnant and consume fermented foods (which are loaded with probiotics) and now will combine Evivo probiotics with the power of my breast milk to get my twin's gut health in ship shape after birth.

Are you or someone you know expecting or recently gave birth? Restore baby's gut health using Evivo probiotics with these DISCOUNT CODES! Click here and enter these codes at checkout: 
Get $10 off a 4 week starter kit by using BLOG8191
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Monday, July 30, 2018

6th Month Twin Bumpdate

I've completed six months of pregnancy and got these babies to the age of viability! And now, the fun begins

Can you sense the sarcasm in that subheader? I wrap up the 6th month of my twin pregnancy TODAY (hello, 7th month and third trimester!) and things are starting to get hard: Hard to take a full breath, hard to walk, hard to bend over, hard to get dressed, hard to shave my legs... You get it. Well, you get it if you've had a baby before, if you're a dude you're clueless, bless your sweet little heart. I'm still not miserable, but things are sure moving in the "this is going to be really uncomfortable" camp faster and faster each day! Let's take a look at how this month shaped up, shall we?

Just about to be 22 weeks here
Number of weeks gestation: 27 weeks - and 10 weeks away (provided all goes well) until we meet these two boys (if they don't come on their own sooner!) I'm going to be a twin mom in less than three months. OMG.

Cravings: Food. All the food. Anything, as long as it's food. I just love all food. Seriously, nothing in particular, nothing weird like pickles and ice cream (that actually sounds pretty nasty) but all food always sounds good. Berries. I fully took advantage of cherries being in season. If you follow my InstaStories, you saw just how many bowls of those things I ate. Pineapple. Oatmeal. Cheeseburgers. Potato chips fried in avocado oil. Tart frozen yogurt. Yeah, all of it.

Aversions: What's that? People don't like food? Y'all are crazy.

In all seriousness though, the only thing I've got going on that counts as an aversion is portion control. My stomach is now so smushed, I can only eat a little bit at a time or I pay for it BIG TIME by feeling overly full, miserable and slightly nauseous. If I eat anything that resembles a full meal, even a portion controlled meal, I'm miserable 20 minutes later. I can't tell you how unfun it is to eat a tad too much (it's not even too much - it's what a normal stomach would consider a regular meal!) and then get so full, I can't even drink water because I can feel it coming up the back of my throat. This never happened with any of my singleton pregnancies, and is a huge bummer! Especially because us twin moms are HANGRY... There's just not enough room to eat!

A full 22 weeks in this shot... It's like I grew dramatically over the course of a few days from the previous photo, right?!

Weight gain: 16 pounds. And it's seriously all boobs and belly! My hips have gotten a tad wider - in fact, I had to go buy some new maternity shorts in the next size up because my prebaby size just wasn't cutting it anymore, even with the stretchy sides. But mostly I carry straight out in front. Which makes walking fun! When I first found out I was having twins, I had a wave of people tell me their horror stories or stories of close friends who put on 60, 70, 95 pounds with twins. I was terrified! Knock on wood, but it looks like I avoided that hot mess and will keep my weight gain just below the recommended amount for twins, or on the low end of normal. That's not by chance - I'm purposely eating insanely healthy and only allowing myself treats several times a week. I know damn well how hard it is to lose baby weight. It's not worth the binging while pregnant, not that I have the room for that nonsense anyway!

I never got a stretch mark from my first two babies, but I'm starting to get one where I stupidly pierced my belly button at the wise old age of 14. My mom was so mad at me when my dad took me to get it done, all she could do was tell me how much I was going to hate it when I was older. Guess what? I took out my jewelry by the age of 20 and have hated it since! And now at the age of 33 and pregnant with twins, it's by far the stupidest thing I've ever done to my body. Those sentiments are escalated by the fact that had I NOT done that at 14, I'd likely still be stretch mark free now. Way to go Paige. Dumba$$.

A dress and my hair is down?! 23 weeks in my gifted Isabella Oliver maternity dress. If you're a work in an office mama, you've got to check them out - fantastic business clothes for pregnant mamas, and some great casual pieces too like this cotton dress!

Workouts: Proud to say I'm hanging in there strong at three workouts a week! But just barely. I'm still doing normal classes (not prenatal or "gentle yoga" or anything like that) but that's only because I'm familiar with prenatal modifications and I do every. single. one. for moves that are remotely challenging. And as I head into my 8th month, I think it's time to start to add a Hatha yoga class to replace one of my barre classes, and will slowly start to sub out all my classes this month. That's ok! I'm so happy I made it as far as I have, and I'm ready to slow down.

I'm still seeing my chiropractor twice a week and will for the rest of pregnancy. She's helping a TON, but I still have significant tailbone and sacrum pain. It's really bad if I've been sitting for a while then try to stand up quickly - it's like all the muscles that support me have relaxed and when I get up to move, my bones just slide all over the place and over each other! Once I'm up and moving I'm back to normal pretty quickly, but those first few movements and moments are horrible. I don't know if this is something related to twins and having a massive surge of the hormone relaxin running through me or it's because I'm on baby 3 (and 4) or the fact I'm 33 and getting older for this pregnancy or what, but this never happened with my singletons and first two babies.

24 weeks and a fresh chop job of my hair - the 5 inches my hair lost, my growing belly found

I also caught myself just straight up holding my pregnant belly at the grocery store this past weekend. Absolutely no shame whatsoever. Just holding this massive thing up while I used the other hand to put stuff in my cart! I have a pretty lame maternity support belt I used when I'd walk and run with Otto so I'll give that a try, but I just don't think that thing is supportive enough for twins. If you've got one you like, holler at me. I basically need the strength of a human arm that can lift the multiple pounds of multiple babies my poor ligaments are trying to carry nonstop.

Still, I don't have many complaints outside of the beginning of a stretch mark and the tailbone/sacrum issue. I'm sleeping great, although I do get up often to use the bathroom. I always waddle back to bed, cause a mini-earthquake getting in and comfortable, and am back asleep in just a few minutes. I only have occasional heartburn. Nothing two Tums won't cure immediately. No swelling, even in the July Texas heat - still wearing my wedding rings without any issues and all of my shoes fit my feet, no problem. No kankles here!

Oh look, a different mirror for a selfie! 25 weeks on our beach vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC

My OB told me at my last appointment that I'm one of the most blessed and lucky pregnant twin moms she's ever seen. She said, "You're smiling! You seem calm and content! Most of my twin moms are groaning and ready to be done with pregnancy by now but you're just carrying on. You are a rare one!" And it's true. There's a few common pregnancy issues I wish I wasn't dealing with, but overall, I'm pretty content and happy growing these babies. Who, believe it or not, are in the 65% for size and are my biggest babies yet. Both of them! They're just a few grams apart, with baby B slightly larger than A. Henry was always in the 50% for size and Otto was down in the 30%, so I don't know what I'm doing right this time around (besides eating for three and generally loving all food) but watch me go to 40 weeks and pop out two 8 pound twins, even with a history of preterm labor and 6 pound babies. Ha! That would happen to me.

Over 26 weeks and feelin' it

That's been my 6th month! Still not too bad, all things considered. I'm healthy with good blood pressure, good weight gain, good muscle tone and strength to carry this load and generally pretty content. But I know I'm entering the hard phase... I think month seven, eight and hopefully nine (as long as I stay pregnant!) are going to be a different story than the easy breezy time I've had with these twins so far. Time will tell right? On to month seven and my third trimester!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Go-To Protein Packed Breakfast

Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® is ready in minutes, has at least 20g of protein and is portable in it's own cup

This post is sponsored by Jimmy Dean® Brand, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
07/09/2018 10:15:54
An Uncomplicated Life Bl
My Go-To Protein Packed Breakfast
This post is sponsored by Jimmy Dean® Brand, but the content
and opinions expressed here are my

Admittedly, I am not a breakfast person. When I'm not pregnant, I can easily go until 2 or 3 pm before I even remotely feel hungry, provided I have a good strong cup of coffee to run on. As a pregnant mama, especially pregnant with twins, the half a cup of coffee I can actually stomach just doesn't cut it! I'm irritable and grouchy by 10 am. Enter Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles breakfast cups! My go-to protein packed breakfast that's, you guessed it, REAL FOOD.

The self contained cup holds all the ingredients you need to make your protein packed breakfast in about two minutes. Inside, you'll find a cup of two real eggs (the first ingredient on the package? Eggs! And yes, I checked) and a packet of breakfast meat and cheese. Flavors come in bacon, sausage and meat lovers. Pour the eggs into the cup, microwave for about a minute, add your meat and cheese and give it another 45 seconds or so and boom. Your hot, fresh, protein packed breakfast is ready to eat!

I love that everything comes ready to make in this breakfast cup. No need to add any of your own ingredients. This means you can make it at home before you leave for work, bring it in to the office, or pack it along with you. All you need is a microwave to have a hot and tasty meal that will keep you full for hours with all the protein. Perfect for long mornings with no lunch break in sight, post-workout fuel, or, you know, my fellow pregnant moms looking for a quick bite to eat that will help give their in-belly-babes the protein they need to grow!

When I say that this product is real food, I mean it's real food. You find it in the refrigerated breakfast foods aisle at Walmart and because it's eggs, meat and cheese, you've got to keep it refrigerated. Nothing is dehydrated, and no water is necessary to prepare it. It's not a boxed food that will keep for years on a shelf somewhere. It's good old fashioned eggs, meat and cheese (aka high protein foods!) with an expiration date that are easy to prepare by you.

Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles breakfast cups are my go-to protein packed breakfast. It's ready in about two minutes and comes as a complete meal - no add-ins necessary, no water needed. Just real eggs, meat and cheese to kick start my day with a protein punch. The perfect breakfast food for busy people, typically-non-breakfast-people, and of course, pregnant women looking to get all their protein needs met for the day!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Must Haves On A Twin Baby Registry

If you're expecting twins, check out this list of must haves to put on your registry! All of the stuff you need, none of the stuff that will collect dust - from an experienced mom

This post is sponsored by Babylist. All opinions are my own.

A few months ago, I was helping my sister put together her baby registry for her first child. She's not into "stuff" anymore than I am, and didn't want a bunch of baby gear taking up her home. I crafted this baby registry list, which has all the basics of stuff you NEED when you have an infant, with a small section at the end with some "nice to have" items. This list still holds true for all the basics for twins, too! Of course, with twins there are a few more things you're going to want to add to your registry, or tweak a bit from this list of classic items, so I've partnered with Babylist to bring you the must have on a twin baby registry. Go to my first registry post for all the need to have basics (just times it by two!) and then add these items which are must have needs specific to twins.

Baby items and gear specific to twins; twin baby gear to make the first 6 months easier #babyregistry #twins #twinsandmultiples #babygear

Like it?! Pin it!

First, before you even start your baby registry, did you know there's an online resource that will let you pull items from literally any store and have it all in one place?! Where was this when I had my first baby and really went hog-wild with my registry?! It's called Babylist and it's literally the easiest thing in the world to use. No dumb in-store scanner that doesn't work, no going to multiple stores and having multiple lists/registries on your baby shower invites - just a one stop shop that you can add everything you need and want to. Want to support independent artists on Etsy or your favorite baby boutique? Yup, you can add items from their shops when you use Babylist!

It's insanely simple to use. When you go to the site to register, you drag and drop an "add item to Babylist" button to your toolbar that enables you to add any item from any store to your registry. When I created my registry for our twins that are due in the fall, I was able to add items from Babylist (they keep their own stock of baby items!), Amazon, PBK and Etsy with one simple click. Mega bonus!
Once you've registered for several items, you're eligible to receive a Hello Baby Box, full of sample goodies and offers for you and baby. So you can get all the things you want off Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, Target, Buy Buy Baby and more retailers PLUS get the opportunity to be sent an awesome welcome box. Winning. Click here to start your own Babylist registry and the chance for your Hello Baby Box*! *For US residents only, while supplies last. Box contents may change monthly. Restrictions apply.

Ok, back to the twin must haves. Again, all your basics are listed here - just be sure to register for twice as many! And here are the items you'll need (yes, need - I don't need my home overrun with baby stuff so I like to keep it simple) if you're expecting twins:

- My Breast Friend Twin Nursing Pillow
The singleton version of this is on my other registry list, but if you're expecting two, you'll want this plus sized version so that you can tandem nurse, do skin to skin while one nurses and the other cuddles, or simply as a way to more easily hold both babies at once. Since c sections are more common with twins, the back support of the Breast Friend will be essential! I've had a c section and a VBAC and the back support and wrap around feature of this pillow are what make it superior to all others, in my opinion.
- The Twin Z Pillow
This is basically a solid multitasking pillow for twin moms! If you're bottle feeding, you can prop both babies up in it and hold their bottles until they're able to do so themselves. It's great for tummy time. As your twins begin to learn how to sit on their own, this will be a great tool to keep them from falling over and teaching them how to move their weight forward to sit solo. For the first 6-9 months of the twins' lives, this will be your go-to set of "second hands" so that you're able to get through your day with two babies.
- Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
I knew from having Henry and Otto that a lightweight car seat is essential. That infant basket gets heavy quickly, and if you get a "fancier" car seat, odds are the seat alone is at or over 10 pounds (Britax, UppaBaby, Maxi Cosi, I'm looking at you!). That nullifies the benefit of the infant removable bucket seat REAL quick. What I love about this seat is that it's the most narrow seat on the market. You're having more than one kid, so you'll need to get everyone in the car, and narrow seats will become as important as it being lightweight! It comes in several models and colors so if you're in a cold weather state, you can get the zip on blanket to keep baby warm and dry (no babies in coats - makes the car seat ineffective). The Chicco brand is also synonymous with safety, quality and durability PLUS it's adaptable to just about any stroller you've got your eye on (the same can't be said of UppaBaby and some of the other brands previously mentioned). Hands down, this car seat beats out all the other brands for what twin parents need: affordability, lightweight, safety, adaptable to multiple stroller brands, and width for multiple children in car seats.
- Joovy Twin Roo Car Seat Stroller
Speaking of strollers, you're going to need something to hold those car seats until the babies are big enough to hold their heads up and sit up on their own in a regular stroller. I'm talking something lightweight that fits in your trunk and that you can snap open easily so that you can run errands - quick trips to the grocery or Target or Walmart for diapers - that kind of thing. When my husband is with us, we'll likely each grab a kid and baby wear (more on that later) but when I'm solo, I need something EASY and FAST to get my whole crew moving. The Joovy is a stroller frame that you click your car seats into. It's lightweight and folds compact to fit in your trunk. Best yet, it has a massive storage basket under it, so you can fit shopping items in it or pack it up with baby necessities for multiples for an outing at the zoo or aquarium.
- Baby carriers
I'm a fan of the ring sling type carriers for infants, and my husband likes something more structured like the Tula (they come in so many cool designs and colors!) There's benefits to both types of carriers. The ring sling is great for infants to keep them close to you and double as a nursing cover. They're super easy to put on and grow with the baby - you adjust it every time you wear it and can do it by yourself. The Tula is great because it offers support around your waist and via your shoulders, so the weight of the baby is distributed. After you get it adjusted to fit you and your babe, it's really easy to put on and load up with the baby. One thing is for sure, if you have other kids besides your twins, you WILL be baby wearing so that you have free hands for your older children!

- Cute Matching Outfits
Let's keep it 100 here. People LOVE to buy baby clothes, especially matching outfits for twins. You can either leave it up to the gifter's discretion on what they think your kids should wear, or you can go ahead and register for a few twin outfits. I'm a massive fan of Kyte Baby because they use organic bamboo. It's so soft and breathable! It's not cheap but that's ok - put the expensive clothes on your registry and let other people buy them, then you can buy the affordable clothes :)

- A quick note on diapers and bottles
Obviously, diapers and bottles are a must have and they're listed on my first registry with a little strategy from an experienced mom: Don't buy too much of one kind until you know what baby will take (in terms of bottle) and what fits and works best with your baby's build (in terms of diaper). That's still generally true for twins, however, I wouldn't register for nor offer too many bottle options to your twins. You'll want them to take the same bottle, or you'll be deep in bottle hell of trying to remember who takes what, what pieces go with which, which pieces were sterilized last, and on and on. No thank you! I'm only offering one type of bottle to my twins. They'll get offered that or milk straight from the mama tap and that's it. Twin moms aint got no time to play around with what their babies prefer - the babies will get what they get!

Diapers are the same in theory... Until/unless your twins are in two different sizes or one develops an allergic reaction to the chemicals in traditional diapers or one brand is great for one twin and leaks like crazy on your other twin! I had my Irish Twins in two different brands of diapers, and it was easy enough to keep them separate in bins monogrammed with their names on it. Henry used Babyganics and Otto was allergic to everything but Honest Co, and since all you do with diapers is put them on and throw them away (no parts! no sterilizing! no milk ounzes to remember!) it was a pretty easy process to have them in different brands. So, I'd register for the small packs of several different kinds to see what works best overall, or what works best for each baby and rest assured from this experienced mom: Having two in two different kinds of diapers isn't too much to handle, and is pretty easy to keep straight. Definitely easier than endless laundry from forcing your babies to wear diapers that don't fit them properly and cause leaks!

One of the most fun - and potentially overwhelming! - things about having a baby is creating your registry. There's so many options, so many brands, so many colors of products and gear to chose from. Make your life easier by creating one universal baby registry that supports items from every store by heading over to! They even have consultants to help you and to answer your questions. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Mini Summer Vacation!

Taking the week to enjoy some of the weeks of summer! We had to do our annual summer vacay early this year since I won't be allowed to travel come August (too pregnant with the twins) so we're soaking up some sun and fun while we can... And while I can still walk (albeit with a massive waddle) and don't need one of those motorized carts to get around! I'll see you back here Monday, July 23 with a whole bunch of fun new content.

And now it's time for... VACATION MODE! No fishing for me though, thanks. Fish gross me out. So slimy and stinky.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Current Snarky Confessions

If I were Catholic, this would be my Thursday confessional of impure thoughts

It's been ages since we just sat and caught up, no? That's somewhat intentional because my monthly bump dates are pretty close to my current thoughts and happenings. If you haven't read those, even if you're not pregnant or a man or don't care, they might amuse you, so check them out here and here. This post, however, is dedicated to all the impure thoughts I've had recently - the judgmental, the snarky, the not so nice stuff - you know, the kind you need to confess to and seek forgiveness. Read at your own risk of being offended. Or amused, if you're well adjusted and know how to properly let things go.

Is there anything worse than when your manicurist leaves your nails too long?! I get dips, so my nails don't break or chip, they simply grow out until I get a new color put on. If they're left too long, they turn into straight up CLAWS. I spent most of last week struggling to use my phone and typing on my laptop, they were such eagle-like-daggers. First world problems? Sure, but I paid $47 for this vampire botch job mani, so I'll cry about it if I friggin want to. And suck your blood if you're rolling your eyes at me right now. Better sleep with one eye open, cause these nails can kill.

The Target maternity tank I bought that will fit me for maybe one more week. I sized up.

The inability of clothing manufacturers to consistently size women's clothing the same blows my mind. Bought two new tanks at Target. Bought a sundress from the same designer. The sundress was an XS and too big for me, the tanks were S and too tight. I know it's crappy and cheap Target clothes, but seriously! Can they not do their job right? Can they not cut patterns correctly from cloth? Do they secretly get enjoyment from pissing women off with all these weird sizes?

What is with pregnant women comparing their gestational diabetes tests to the likes of facing a dang firing squad?! It's not that bad, it's not that hard, you chug a drink that tastes like off-brand Powerade and get pricked by a needle. Settle the heck down. It's nothing compared to birth.  It's nothing compared to when things *actually* go medically wrong in your pregnancy. You don't even have to fast anymore. You literally just have to chug a drink and get pricked by one needle. That's it. One thing pregnant women are known to do is taking advantage of every "opportunity" for special treatment they can get (myself included here - I feel like I can say this as a current pregnant woman!) and they're taking full advantage of complaining about this test. Eye roll. So hard.

How we roll when it's super hot out. And by super hot, I mean well over 100 degrees.

I can't help but laugh when I see people up north complaining about 90 degrees. I haven't felt air that cool since May! Heat warnings for a mere 90 degrees? I mean, for real? I don't even run my car AC for 90 degrees. That's windows down kinda weather! For the record, I think the same thing when I see people freaking out in Texas over 30 degrees, all decked out in every single piece of winter gear they own. Except at 30 degrees, your pipes can burst and destroy your home, your landscaping can get destroyed to the tune of thousands of dollars and if there's ice on the road, you're not going anywhere... But 90 degrees? Sounds like a pleasant day to me! Pour yourself a lemonade and get outside and enjoy it. And know that everyone across the South, but especially in the Southwest, has daggers in their eyes at your "heat advisory" and "heat index" nonsense.

Gimme all the pumpkins! Cannot wait to decorate and do all the fall things.

I will absolutely not apologize for starting to get excited for all things fall. Yes, it's July. But bloggers run on retail calendar, so this means I can already start to plan and pin and schedule fall content, and it gets me SO EXCITED. Frankly, thinking about and creating fall content in the hellish months of Texas summer make this place bearable! Don't like it? Stay off Pinterest and out of any and all retail stores until you're ready to face the coming season! I'm happy as a clam over here planning my fall content. In July. Not even sorry a little bit. I cannot WAIT to pull out my seasonal decorations and get this party started! Also, does this paragraph makes sense immediately after a paragraph telling people to stop complaining about heat? Meh, probably not, but I thought it was funny.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Early Morning Hacks For Back To School

Back to school means early mornings! Use these hacks to make them as efficient and smooth as possible

If I haven't said it here before, allow me to announce it to the world now: I am NOT a morning person. I hate mornings. I wish nothing happened in the world before 8 am and it that it was required for all people to sleep until AT LEAST 7 am. I'm sure to a college student or even a 20 something year old, that sounds like the early morning, but to those of us who are parents or hold down typical jobs or worse yet, both of those things, you know that those hours are indeed considered sleeping in! Henry has one more year of preK preschool left, and after that, we'll need to be in the carpool lane by 7:15 am, Monday through Friday. Just pull my hair out now, please. That sounds like death. I'm going to pretend like that's not my impending future because getting four kids out of the house by 7 am is too much for my despise of morning hours self... However, through this hatred of early hours, I've developed a series of hacks that honestly make the mornings bearable! Not likable, but tolerable. If you're anti-mornings like me or you just need some tips on how to use your time more efficiently, check out these early morning hacks that are great for those back to school rushes.

Morning hacks and efficiency tips for the early back to school mornings to curb chaos

1) Make lunches the night before and make them in bulk
Everyone knows this one but so few do it! Trust me on this one and just do it. I like to make them after dinner but before I've done the "final clean" of the kitchen for the day. If your kids go to school everyday, make them two at a time! This is a super efficient way to do it - you've already got the bread and peanut butter and jelly out, make two sandwiches instead of one. Then store it in a paper or plastic bag in the back of the fridge, and swap it out when your kids come home from school and you're cleaning out their backpacks and lunch bags.

Breakfast #1 gets set out on the counter, ready for the kids' early wake up time

2) Set out your kids supplies the night before
This is for everything: Outfits, special supplies like an art project or a towel/spare outfit for a field trip, homework in folders, tuition checks/lunch money/etc in the right spot - whatever your child might need for school the next day, have it set up and ready to go for the morning. Make sure it's all in one spot so you're not chasing it down when you should be getting in the car! The only thing I don't set out the night before is the kids' lunches, which stay in the fridge until we zip up and put on backpacks.

We're a two breakfast kinda family (or at least my kids are) so I set out their first breakfast the night before. They like to wake up early so I shove cereal bars at them because these kids wake up hungry! Then I usually heat up pancakes that were made the day before, scramble a few eggs, or give them yogurt and fruit closer to when we leave for school. The first breakfast is the super early one and therefore needs to be made as easy as possible! You could set out cereal bowls or partial supplies for breakfast if your kids eats from the fridge. Get out whatever you can to make it as easy as possible!

Otto's packed backpack ready to go in the morning

3) Set our YOUR supplies the night before
I don't go as far as getting my outfit planned because I work from home and can wear whatever I want, but if I had an office job, better believe I'd plan that out! I do get my coffee set up. I make individual cups (don't use a Keurig because of the mold and mildew that grows in them and how wasteful the actual cups are... Seriously it's like getting a new plastic straw everyday for your drink - why are you doing that?! Plus, I think it makes sucky coffee and isn't strong enough hashtagsorrynosorry) when my husband is working or traveling and I get this and the kids' "first breakfast" all set up and on the counter at the same time. Takes less than 2 minutes.

My coffee station is ready to go for an easy morning cup

4) Wake up early enough to move at your desired pace and still leave on time
Seems like the wrong advice coming from a woman who hates mornings right? Like I should be telling you all of this so that you're able to stay in bed until the last possible minute for the most possible sleep, right? Here's something else I've learned: When you push your timetable, it makes early mornings WORSE. For example, I don't like mornings, so I don't like moving fast or loud sounds; basically, the general chaos of rushing is excruciating! I've started to wake up a half hour before I used to in order to move at a calm, reasonable pace in the morning. We aren't rushed but there's also no time built in for dragging our feet. It makes a huge difference on my mood not only while we're getting ready to get out the door, but also for the rest of the day for me! It might take you a few tries to get it right, but you'll find the sweet spot of time to get up that enables you to move through the steps necessary for the morning at the pace you need to be a happy and calm parent. For me, that was more than worth shaving off 30 extra minutes in bed.

Back to school time is always a crazy mess of figuring out new schedules, timing, and what all needs to be done to get everyone where they need to go. If you're not a morning person like me, this is especially painful! Use these early morning hacks to get you on track for a well planned, prepared, calm and efficient back to school morning schedule.