An Uncomplicated Life Blog: September 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Best Halloween Clothing For Kids

Halloween costumes, pajamas and other apparel is a fun way to celebrate the season

Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday. Has been for years. Even as a little girl, my sister and I decorated our bedrooms with Halloween decorations. Then when we lived together in our mid-to-late twenties, we went all out and decorated our condo. I mean lights, garlands, pumpkins, jack o laterns, skulls and zombies - all of it, all over! Now as a mom, my kids have (thankfully) shown as much interest in the holiday as I did as a child, and talk about pumpkins and "spooky" stuff year round. Proud mom moment, you know? We plan our costumes months in advance and I start buying Halloween pajamas late in the summer. I mean hey, they get worn year round so why not? This post is all about what the kiddos will be for Halloween (think costumes) and my favorite sources of Halloween jammies. Generally, all the best Halloween clothing for kids, toddlers and babies. *Affiliate links used*

Y'all know I'm dedicated to living sustainably and always trying new ways to be "green" and eco-friendly. I recently read an article on the effects of cheap clothing and how "discount" clothing, the stuff that you truly only buy to wear for a year or one season, is SO detrimental: it has to be made (with insanely cheap labor) using cheap materials that also had to be processed (think cheap cotton that has to be grown, cheap dyes, etc), shipped/trucked to a warehouse, shipped/trucked to a store and then it ends up in a landfill after a few years. Yuck! With that in mind, I made my kids try on their costumes from last year, and wouldn't you know, they fit perfectly. So my older two will be the exact same things they were last year - a ghost and a witch. Good thing, because Otto is still obsessed with his witch costume and is thrilled to wear it again! Henry is pretty easy going with the dress up (it's Otto who is WAY into it) so he's content being a ghost again.

This is Henry's ghost costume (the exact one isn't sold anymore, but this one is super close!) and this is Otto's witch costume. Both were great quality and I was really happy with them! Good enough quality to wash and wear for more than one year and neither was expensive.

The twins are a bit harder. There are so many cute baby costumes, but it's just too hot here to put them in, say, a fuzzy lion costume, or a plush pig costume. I need it to be as light and breathable as possible, because it's often still 90+ degrees here on Halloween. Now, I had this pumpkin costume from when Otto was a baby and it was just a tad too small, but holy heck is it ever cute on a baby! If you want a warmer version for a baby, this one is adorable and great for colder climates. If you live in my kind of climate, or perhaps even warmer or more humid, this one is similar to mine without the jumpsuit underneath so it'd be great for a hot Halloween.

What's the fun of twins if you can't do a themed costume, right? And also dress them alike. Trust me... This is one of the few joys of twins, because outside of this, they're just a TON of work. We went with salt and pepper, because one baby (Knox) is salty most of the time and Teddy is a little lovejoy firecracker (pepper). This is the salt onesie and here's the pepper onesie. They haven't come in the mail yet, but I can't wait to get a picture of that.

Onto the jammies! I absolutely adore holiday pajamas. Halloween, Christmas, Easter... Yup, all of them. Here's some of our favorites for the big boys that I've bought in the last two years:
- Scary jack o'lantern
- Happy pumpkin face

For the twins, I got these Nightmare Before Christmas jammies to wear for their first birthday, since that's their theme. These cute orange witch jammies, because they had green witches on them, and what baby doesn't look great in a green witch?! The jammies pictured above are from the actual Carter's store, and they're currently on mega sale! This is the top but I couldn't find any links to the bottoms.

I also just got some really cute matching Halloween jammies from Burt's Bees Baby. Amazon sells some of the styles from previous years, but their actual site contains all the cute, new styles and they regularly have good sales too. I love BBB because it's reasonably priced organic cotton, and they carry ALL sizes for Christmas pajamas - they even have a bandanna for your dog so he can match too! They literally have men's, women's, child, toddler and baby sizes and you can get everyone matching. We already have our Christmas jammies for this year because if you wait, certain sizes sell out and I need to buy from every single category. I'm a planner like that. This year's Christmas card is gonna be good!

Figuring out Halloween costumes and watching your kids have as much fun with it as you do is truly one of my favorite parts of parenting. Picking out holiday pajamas and listening to my kids "ohhhhh" and "ahhhhh" at how they glow in the dark. Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday because it's silly! We can decorate with pumpkins and orange lights and watch silly scary movies. There's no religious over/undertone so there's nothing somber or "deep" about it - it's just there for a good time (actually, the history of Halloween is pretty fascinating it you're looking for something to Google). We love getting into the holiday spirit, and these are the best Halloween clothing options for kids.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My Experience With Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the ab muscles, and is very common in pregnancy - especially twins! Here's my experience with it and what I did about it

I've popped out four kids in four and a half years. My first two children are 19 months apart, then two and a half years later, I had twins. Somehow, I managed to keep my abs together all the way until I had the twins. While I was insanely blessed to make it to 37 weeks with them, my body didn't escape unscathed! I developed some pretty severe diastasis recti. This post is all about what the condition is, what the effects are, and what I did to treat it: my experience with diastasis recti.

One week after delivering twins

First, what is it exactly? WebMD breaks down the actual name to tell us that diastasis means "separation" and recti refers to the ab muscle called rectus abdominis. In a normal human, these muscles are connected and engaged. They're used to not only support the core or trunk of human weight, but also to keep the organs held in place in the body. Pregnancy causes extreme stretching of these muscles; so much so that in some cases, they separate completely, which is diastasis recti. This leaves only a thin band of connective tissue to hold organs in place, and the stomach muscles "pooch" out, leaving the woman still looking pregnant even though she delivered her baby weeks, months or even years ago. Some complications of this include uterine leaking, constant lower back pain and constipation. In severe cases of diastasis recti, a hernia can form, which requires surgery to fix.

Checking for diastasis recti is really simple. While laying down, flex your ab muscles. If you can get more than one finger in between them, and your stomach "peaks" like a mountain top, odds are good you've got a case of diastasis recti. 

I didn't have a severe case, and thankfully, all my organs stayed in place. However, after I delivered the twins, I could fit a full fist in between my ab muscles! An. Entire. Fist. When I flexed my ab muscles, my tummy was transformed to an upside-down V shape - it literally looked like a mountain peak. Even months after delivery, when my postpartum belly had gone down, I looked several months pregnant. And by the end of the day, I looked many months pregnant!

Looks aside, I had constant lower back pain. In fact, that's still a lingering side effect (more on that in a minute). When your ab muscles aren't where they should be and therefore aren't doing the job they're intended to do, it really does a number on your back. I had scoliosis surgery right before my 13th birthday, and while all is well and I generally have no complications from it, the doctors over-harvested bone from my hip to graph it all together. Several times a year, that spot will ache terribly, which I was fine with because it was only a few times a year, and a couple doses of Advil would knock it out. Since having the twins and developing diastasis recti, I've noticed this ache in my low back/high hip occurring several times a MONTH, and Advil doesn't take care of it.

The day I delivered the twins - 15 minutes before we left for the hospital

The other non-cosmetic effect is... As one could guess, bladder control. I've been so so lucky and have had very few issues with this! But after the twins, the weirdest thing happened. I don't *actually* pee in my pants (thankyouJesus!) but I go from not remotely needing to pee, to needing to pee right now. Like the muscles are about thisclose to not being able to keep it in! I've woken up in the middle of the night like, holy heck, I need to pee this very minute! Then when I go, I wonder what the emergency was because it wasn't a ton of fluid. Turns out, it's my restraining muscles that need to be strengthened again, and my ab muscles that need to be put back in place to assist my pelvic floor in doing it's job more efficiently.

Oh babies. You sure do a number on us moms! Everyone, go hug your mother. She sacrificed so much for you!

So what does one do for diastasis recti? The funny thing is, you need to do the opposite of what you'd think. Which is to say, you need to NOT work your abs out! You've got to let them heal and rest from the pregnancy. Give them proper time to move back to where they should be and recover from the distress they were just in. By just giving my abs time to recover, they went back to a two to two and a half finger separation, down from the entire fist that could fit in there shortly after my twin birth. Work with your OBGYN to establish how long you need to rest, and be sure to get cleared for any activity before beginning a program.

One of the things I did while "resting" was tummy binding (as seen in the first photo). I'd recommend this for any mom after birth, because it offers back support at a time your tummy muscles are confused and stretched out! There isn't much science backing up if it helps your waist shrink or not, but that's neither here nor there for me. I found it felt great and was so supportive - the tummy binder literally did the job my ab muscles no longer had the strength or position to do for my body. I used this bamboo one, and highly recommend it because bamboo breathes better than synthetic binders. Order a size down for sure. You'll need help getting into it at first, but my tummy always shrunk so fast I'd have quickly outgrown the size the brand suggested I buy.

Taken the day before this post published - over 11 months postpartum from twins

After you've been cleared for exercise, stay away from ab-heavy workouts. I did a ton of yoga, but when the instructor would do specific ab work, I'd go into child's pose or do other stretches and wait for him/her to get back to the flow. It's best to start with a diastasis recti-specific program, which is going to lead you through breathing and postures first, then light exercises and then transition you back to regular workout-type exercises. Most diastasis recti specific programs are 12-15 weeks long and will leave you ready to do standard group fitness classes. Keep in mind, this is after you've healed for the traditional 6 weeks postpartum and any additional time your OBGYN asks to to heal, so all in, you're looking at a five to six month healing time! And that's on the low end.

Diastasis recti is a bummer, but it comes with the territory of being pregnant, especially if you're expecting multiples. It takes a good long while to heal. Even nearly a full year later, I can stick a finger or two in between my ab muscles, and my belly button hasn't entirely returned to it's former self. But my bladder control has gotten tons better, and my lower back pain is slowly improving. If you're suffering from diastasis recti, make sure to speak to your OBGYN and get a referral for a pelvic floor specialist as well as a workout recommendation so that you don't make it worse! It takes time and work, but my experience with diastasis recti shows you can overcome it!

Monday, September 23, 2019

See Ya Thursday!

No post today, since I spent the weekend gallivanting around New York City with my high school bestie. Hope you watched my IG stories for all the fun times (mostly food, won't lie!) that were had. I'll be back here Thursday with some suuuuuuuper cute Halloween costume ideas, for kids, tots and babies and I'll also share where I get our Halloween jammies with all the links to the sets we've gotten this year.

I'll leave you with a pic of the adorableness that is to come on Thursday!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"I Don't" Mom Culture

There's a new trend in mom culture, listing all the things you "don't do" with pride. Here's why I think it needs to change.

Typically, I write my blog posts out weeks in advance. I have my month entirely planned out, and usually half the next month too, in terms of content. But if you've been watching my IG stories, you know we got utterly taken out by a tummy bug (some of us twice!) and it's thrown off everything, so here I am writing this post the week it goes up. Interestingly enough, in the time I brainstormed it, asked y'all in last Thursday's post if I should actually write it and had the chance to sit down and write it, my perspective on the whole thing has changed! Not my opinion, but my perspective. What was going to be a fairly strong worded post on "I Don't" mom culture (if you haven't heard of that yet, I'll explain below) is now, hopefully, going to be more encouraging as opposed to scathing. I've actually been reading some of my old posts and thinking, "Jeez Paige, that was a little strong worded... If people didn't know you personally, they'd think you're a real jerk!" So! While I will share my thoughts on "I Don't" mom culture, because it's still me here, I also want to share the weird/divine interventions that have inspired me to change my tone.

First, let's talk about "I Don't" mom culture. I guess on one of the bigger, collaborative mom blogs in Australia (think similar to Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, etc that we have here in the U.S.) there was a post from a mom blogger who started the "I Don't" list. I think she probably had good intentions. It was a way for moms to vent about how they don't do it all - they don't cook from scratch every night after working all day, they don't have tidy homes, they don't limit their children's screen times, and so on. It was a post intended to laugh and bond over some of our shortcomings or imperfections or what-have-you's about motherhood. Here's a link to the post. It was shared in multiple mom groups I'm in, from local to international, and the thread of comments from women who loved this idea was expansive. Hundreds upon hundreds of women chimed in, proudly displaying what they "don't do" as moms/wives/caretakers/spouses/etc.

So that's "I Don't" mom culture. And I'm going to tell you exactly what I think about it and how it's failing us as women. But first (well, secondly at this point) the divine intervention! I knew if I laid out all my thoughts as passionately as I felt them, I'd get burned at the cross by other moms for it. It'd come across as judgmental, snarky, a know-it-all, and a do-it-all post. I went to lunch with a friend whom I haven't seen in several years a bit ago, and we talked about it. She wants to start a Christian blog with an unconventional twist, so we were talking all things blogging as I shared my idea with her. 

She listened to my ideas and thoughts on the topic and said she agreed - there was a lot of truth in what I had to say. But she suggested that instead of just criticizing the "movement" (should we even call it that?) that perhaps I should use it as a way to encourage moms to do better. To say, hey it's ok to not do everything perfectly, or as we "should" do it, but instead of giving ourselves a virtual high five for all the things we DON'T do, lets change the narrative to ways we can help each other. I loved that!

It's now Sunday and I'm sitting down to write this post that goes up Thursday (like I said, I'm way behind from this tummy bug!) Every Sunday morning I do a devotional from this book and this book (both take less than 2 minutes and are seriously LIFE CHANGING! I'm not religious so much as I am spiritual, although I was baptized and raised Christian, and I highly suggest getting them. $10 or less each and they're both BEAUTIFUL books to boot, full of encouraging and beautiful thoughts) and the topic of the day's post was judgment. I laughed as I read the title because I was just about to sit down and write this post! Anyhow, this passage really struck me: "But we have a tendency to see someone else's sin before we see our own... We never know how far someone has come, and we're not always sure what another family is going through. As moms, we need to be careful of thinking that the way we do things is the only way to do things. Instead, we need to walk humbly with one another and always extend grace, remembering how much we ourselves are in need of it."

Boom. The older I get, the more I see how much God is trying to talk to me and my heart, everyday. It's always right there in front of my face, I just have to choose to see it.

I don't think there's any inherent harm in "bonding" over shortcomings as moms. I know I've definitely spoken with a mom friend and talked about how I made a nasty dinner (burned it, recipe fail, doesn't matter!) and she's responded with a similar story. I've confessed to friends about how I wasn't proud of the way I disciplined one of my children before. I feel like talking about the ways in which we make mistakes as parents is normal and healthy. It's a way for us as moms to confess, process and move on with them.

But this movement isn't that. If it was intended as that, it's morphed into something else. 

It's almost like a competition to see which mom doesn't do even some of the most basic parenting. I can't tell you how many moms replied that they didn't limit screen time at ALL, that they fed their kids fast food most days of the week and that their houses were a disastrous mess. Newsflash: you're child isn't getting any smarter staring at that screen (probably while you stare at yours...), fast food has no nutrition in it, not to mention all the preservatives and chemicals that make it not even real food (oh, and the sodium and high calorie count...) and while my home isn't always perfect (there's toys all over the floor as I write this) who wants to live in filth?!

As parents, it's our job to instill good habits and behavior in our kids, and I don't get how any of those things are doing that. WE are the ones who need to set boundaries. WE are the ones that need to encourage physical and imaginative play for brain and muscle development. WE control what our children eat and the nutrition they (do or don't) get. WE control our home's environment, and have the power to assign chores so that we don't have to do it alone.

The internet emboldens people. They say things online they'd never have the courage to say to someone's face. And this "I Don't" mom culture is a bizarre way to brag about how you're a crappy mom. Nobody expects perfection! My kids had grilled cheese and tator tots last week from a local greasy spoon/fast food type spot. But it's one thing to occasionally do these things and it's another to have it be your lifestyle. A lifestyle that you brag about online. It's not brag worthy to live that lifestyle.

Speaking of "mom culture" I wrote this post earlier this year on some other bizarre things that are cool with moms that I simply don't identify or agree with if you want to check it out. 

I'd love to switch the "I Don't" mom culture to "I Didn't" so that it's not a lifestyle of things we don't do, but hey - something I didn't do today but I'll try again tomorrow. I fed my kids fast food last Thursday (after I had been up the whole night with sick kids) so I DIDN'T cook that night; but Friday I defrosted some homemade bone broth chicken soup and baked biscuits! Isn't that a much better narrative to tell? I didn't that one day, but dangit, I'm going to try again tomorrow! I feel like "I Didn't" gives us the room for grace on the bad days, but encourages us to try again the next day. It doesn't let us ingrain bad habits into our lifestyle with a flippant "oh well!" I'd love to see the negativity of the "I Don't" mom lists switched to an "I Didn't" with encouragement from other moms that tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, September 16, 2019

8 Best Zero Waste Eco Friendly Products

Live a greener lifestyle with these no waste, environmentally friendly product swaps

I'd love to think that by 2019 - heck, we're nearly into 2020 now! - most people are aware that climate change is real and that we're slowly destroying the planet with our carbon emissions, use of disposable plastics, heavy meat processing and consumption in developed nations, and our fuel consumption (gas is bad enough but jet fuel is outright horrific). Even if you're not on board with climate change (ummm...) you're probably aware of various endocrine disruptions you've had: perhaps fertility issues, unexplained weight gain, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, skin problems. I could go on and on! Some people really do get it and are looking for ways to limit waste so that both their personal health and the health of the planet improves; others are just starting to connect all the dots on how ALL of this is intertwined and our personal health is not independent of that of the environment. If you're looking for ways to reduce your waste and become more environmentally friendly, you've got to check out these 8 best zero waste, eco friendly products to help reduce your footprint - and improve your health while you're at it! *affiliate links used*

Starbucks is doing some great things, like taking away straws... But they still serve their coffee in paper or plastic cups. Ouch! If you get a reusable cup like this one, not only will you help reduce non-biodegradable waste (those plastic cups their iced drinks are served in aren't going anywhere for hundreds of years...) but you'll save money making your own coffee! Finance tip from a former financial adviser: buying coffee out is the BIGGEST waste of money - a "fancy" drink can set you back close to $10 now. Do the environment AND your wallet a favor and make your coffee at home. I like ceramic best because you can microwave it to heat it again, and as a mom, I zap my coffee hot again... and again and again.

So many cities, and even a few entire states, are getting on board with how absolutely terrible plastic bags are. I wish I could say Dallas was one of them, but we're about 20 years behind the curve down here. In fact, the city council passed a law taxing the use of plastic bags by a measly 5 cents each in an attempt to discourage their use and people threw such a fit, the law was reversed after a few months. Way to friggin go, Texans. Get reusable bags. These stand up better in your car so that your food and provisions don't spill all over your trunk, so that alone is a big win over plastic bags.

Y'all know you shouldn't be microwaving food in plastic, right? NOPE. The BPA will "bleed" into your food. You're not going to die overnight, but it will slowly cause a disruption to your endocrine system, which will in turn mess with your hormones which will mess with EVERYTHING about how your body functions, fights sickness and disease, and more. So, just don't store your food in plastic, mmmmk? Trust me, these will last longer than plastic containers anyway, plus they don't stain (raise your hand if you've ever stored marinara in plastic to have it turn a nasty shade of pink, permanently!).

We all know plastic straws are terrible for the earth. Some people have moved to paper, which is a step up, but still - any sort of disposable straw isn't idea. The paper ones also start to disintegrate in your mouth if you're sipping alcohol, which is pretty gross. My go to has become these metal ones. I love that they come with a cleaning wand if you need to scrub the inside and they're dishwasher friendly for disinfecting. Win win. Another win is that they're super cheap!
Plastic baggies are on the same level as plastic bags from stores, in my opinion. We used to use tons of these for the kids' lunches, but this year we got smart and got compartmentalized food storage boxes to reduce the waste. I will say, I LOVE not having to write my kids names on every single baggie (if you've got preschoolers, you know what I'm talking about) and I just throw them in the dishwasher with the dinner dishes after a day at school so they're ready for the next day. If my kids went to preschool daily, I'd probably get two per kid so that there wasn't the immediate need to wash them, but I'm kinda lazy like that.

Beeswax covers
Just like with food storage containers, if you're microwaving food with plastic wrap over it... You're going to want to stop! Clearly, all that wrap just ends up in landfills for decades upon decades, or in oceans where it kills fish and wildlife. But the chemicals that comprise the plastic also leak into your food when heated, which means you're ingesting them. Beeswax covers function in the exact same way as plastic wrap but are washable and reusable. No waste and no harmful chemicals. Yesssss.
This one was one of the first things I did many years ago to reduce my personal waste output. It's been preached for years how destructive plastic water bottles are. We've seen the photos of ocean bays covered in floating plastic bottles. And I have to say, I'm saddened and disgusted when I see how many people in Dallas are buying them in bulk. Almost every time I go to Target, Walmart, Sam's Club or Costco, the people in front of me and behind me in line are buying several cases of bottles of water. WHY?? Dallas actually has some of the best public water in the U.S. (it's rated in the top 10 of major cities for taste and purity) so what the heck is up with all the plastic bottles folks?! Ughhh. I wrote the linked post on the best insulated water bottles that keep your beverage cold. Get one of those, save yourself some serious money and do the planet a favor. Your kids and grand kids will thank you for it!

Seems like a silly, small detail but all those plastic toothbrushes you use in your life? Yeah, they add up. And they stay there. They're not decomposing in your lifetime, your kids lifetime, your grandbabies' lifetime, your great-grandbabies' lifetime... and on and on. We don't know how long they'll take to decompose because it hasn't happened yet, but current estimates are several hundred years. Think about that - you brushing your teeth today will negatively impact the world for hundreds of years. That's intense! Reduce your load by switching to bamboo tooth brushes, which will combine back into the earth in just 2-3 years. Oh, and they're SO MUCH CHEAPER than the plastic ones, and also come in brush softness levels.

These are all some great products you can swap in to take over conventional products that not only aren't so great for the environment, they're also not so great for you. The more you look into being eco friendly, the more you learn that eco friendly is HUMAN friendly, and the product swaps are good for you on a personal level too. These 8 best zero waste eco friendly products are a great place to start for better health for you and a planet that stays greener for longer, too.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Currently, September Edition

Here's what I'm thinking and feeling, currently

Holy moly, we're already halfway through September! Man, the older I get the faster time moves. I swear that we just got back from our beach vacation but no... That was already 6 weeks ago. Soon, it will be sweater weather here! Then I'll blink and it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas and all of a sudden it's 2020. I skipped over the fact that the twins' first birthday is basically next week and three days later I turn 35. What the heck. I'm being really cliche here but man if my mind isn't blown with how fast life moves the older you get. Hell, it's basically time to plan my funeral with the speed things are moving! Too much? Ok. Anyway, here's what's been going on around these parts since my last currently post back in the summer:

The twins' first birthday party and my 35th birthday trip! God finally validated my love for Halloween with twins born mid-October (I was trying to get them born as close to Halloween as possible!) so their birthday party theme is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is one of my older sons' favorite "scary" movies. It's a "cult" film, so there's actually a ton of adorable decorations on Amazon for the theme! I'm sure I'll do a recap post with links to shop from, so if you're a Halloween freak like me and want an unconventional kid's birthday party theme, I got you! My 35th birthday is four days later, and hubby and I are taking our first solo trip together after having the babies. We're still trying to figure out where we're going, but now we're thinking of heading to Richmond (so that I can see some of my inner circle friends!) and taking a day trip to Charlottesville for some wineries. The Virginia wineries are seriously breathtaking and the weather should be perfect mid-October.

The twins' invites! Looks a little funny because I've blocked out key info but you get the idea

Preparing for:
A trip! I'm headed to NYC with my best friend from high school. I haven't been to NYC since 2009 (funny how travel is limited with four kids, no?) It's definitely NOT my favorite city, but hopefully by the end of the month it will feel like fall there (still triple digits here...) and we'll have some amazing food. Oh, and spending time with her is always a good time. You know people who just get you? That's her. She and I understand each other's souls, I swear. Hanging with her is not only always fun, but I feel recharged. I don't have to explain my crazy feelings or bad jokes to her, she just gets me. Loooooove friends like that! I have a handful of girlfriends like this and every single one is such a gift to me. I know well that I'm a very intense person and it takes a "special kind" to be my friend. While I'm an extrovert and know many people and have a wide circle of friends, I have a small "inner circle" who get to know the emotional side of me or who get to know my real, true life story and all those gals (and one guy!) are as loved by me as my own children and hubby.

Me and my homie, back before high res cameras were on iPhones and I actually wore makeup. Weird. 

Ohhhhhhkay, that's enough emotions, let's move on and get back to the sarcasm and self-depreciating humor that y'all come here for, mmmmk?

Frustrated? Annoyed? Dismayed? The twins started preschool three days a week for a few hours. Since they're still under a year, along with their lunch I send a bottle of breast milk, since we all know that up until a year, babies should get the bulk of their calories and nutrition from that or formula. And they're being sent home with nearly full bottles! They eat all their lunch, and love food, so I know they're not hungry but y'all... Pumping that milk is HARD WORK. I used to just wake up in the middle of the night and pump out 8oz in under 15 minutes, easy as pie. Which is perfect because they both take 4oz bottles. But now I'm mayyyyyybe getting 4oz total, sometimes just 3oz and I've increased my pump time to 25 minutes. I'm cutting into my freezer stash daily. Sigh.

We'll make it to a year, but I'm working way to hard for that milk to go to waste! Of course it's sour when they come home because it's been sitting out for five hours. Now, they've only had two days of preschool so obvi we're still figuring out all our "systems" and routine, but I'm going to talk to their teachers and see what we can do about it. Or, I'll be sending them to school with 2oz bottles so I'm not wasting as much milk! I CANNOT WAIT for them to be a year so I can stop pumping... Cannot. Wait. We'll continue nursing on demand until they no longer want to, but lawd have mercy, pumping is just the WORST and I'm so ready to no longer be stressed about how many ounces I've pumped and what kind of bottles they're getting (and actually drinking) for the day. So ready.

BTW, if you get an email from me or I respond to your Instagram DM between 1:30-2am, that's what I'm doing. No, I'm not a night owl or someone who works around the clock. I'm well aware I look like an insane person, but if I'm going to be up pumping I may as well multitask!

Knox isn't sure about this first day of school business...

Taking Otto to tumbling class. He and the twins only go to preschool three days a week, so on Thursday mornings, a nanny stays with the twins while I take him to White Rock Tumble and Cheer with about 8 other rambunctious 3 year olds. He LOVES it and talks about going there every single day, and I love that he gets to bounce some energy out... And have something special for him, since all the attention is usually on Henry, who's a big kindergartner now, or the babies, who are not only our babies but are twins to boot. Poor middle child Otto! This has been something for him to do on his own that his brothers don't do, a chance to connect with other kids his age (beyond his preschool class) and a chance for him and me to spend one on one time together.

If I may brag for a second, it's so fun to watch him because he's one of the best listeners in the class. There's a few boys that just run WILD and I'm reminded about how amazing my kids are, but especially Otto. The first day they did a race across the tumbling floor at the end of class. Nobody listened to the teacher, and while he never said, "GO!" they all started racing... Except Otto. He stood there and said, "Where are you going, the teacher didn't say go!" and the teacher said, "Otto wins! He's still at the start but the only kid who's listening! Yay Otto!" Awwweee, my sweet boy.

Why is she always named Janet?!

Thinking about:
Writing a pretty controversial blog post. I've noticed a huge trend in parenting lately. I'm not in many mom groups, but the few I'm in have all had posts on the topic recently. But my view is 100% OPPOSITE of what most moms feel, so I'm scared to write it because I legit might get crucified... It'd be on how being a "bad mom" has become in fashion and if you're a "classic" or "good" mom, you're the "Janet" of Facebook memes and a total jerk. For instance, one group I'm in started an "I don't" thread, where moms posted what they don't do - so many people replied saying they don't cook, they don't clean, they don't limit screen time ever, they didn't/don't breastfeed and don't feel remotely bad for it... You know, all the things you AND your spouse should do as parents (not just moms!) has become what "annoying, perfect" parents do and no longer the norm. It's kinda like how wine culture with moms has become the norm, and it's a way to hide behind being either a borderline alcoholic or a functioning alcoholic or a straight up alcoholic. If you cook meals from scratch and have a clean home, all of a sudden you're marginalized by current mom culture. I really want to do a deep dive into why I think this is not only wrong, it's outright destructive, but I'm really scared I'm going to be burned on the cross in the comments and on social media for it. What do you think - should I write it?!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sore Throat Spray

Make this sore throat spray and get ready for cold and flu season!

The kids are all back in school and it's officially upon us: cold and flu season. Since my twins are starting preschool a few days a week, I'm sure we'll all have our first seasonal colds by ohhhhhhh next week or so. Nothing like getting a bunch of babies together who all put EVERYTHING in their mouths and share all their germs! Yuck. My very least favorite way to be sick is a stomach bug, but coming right in there in a close second is a sore throat. I hate sore throats! It's taken me a few years to perfect this recipe, but it's hands down the most effective spray for sore throats. It WORKS.

Now, fair warning! All the essential oils in this spray are "hot" oils, meaning they'll burn you if you don't dilute them enough. I make this fairly strong for myself because I don't mind the "burn" on the front end and find it numbs my throat better afterwards. But I wouldn't use this on my kids - I would dilute it by half! My sister was visiting me several years ago and complained about having a sore throat, and I handed it to her without warning that it's "spicy" and will burn for a few seconds before it numbs. She was a bit surprised when she sprayed it and coughed/choked... But after, she said wow, this stuff really does work! So, you've been warned. Half the ratios listed if you're making it for kids, and clearly label what bottles are what strength. I just make this for adults so there's no confusion, but once my kids are older, I'll make two versions.


Sore Throat Spray
- glass spray bottle
- hot water (not boiling)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 or 2 drops oregano essential oil (yes, just one or two drops, this stuff is strong!)
- 5 drops Immunity Boost (Thieves/On Guard are the same thing)
- 5 drops lemon essential oil

*Be sure to use code PAIGE10 to get 10% off your order! As always, Revive ships free to the US and Canada

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Put the salt in the spray bottle, then add the drops of oil. Add the hot water and swirl the bottle so that the salt dissolves. Before using, give the spray bottle a shake to distribute the oils and salt. Spray on the back of your throat and wait 20-30 seconds before swallowing so it has time to sit on the affected area. Spray as often as you need relief from your sore throat.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Making this traditional "spaghetti sauce" yourself is SO easy, has far less sugar than jarred sauce, and has hidden veggies in it too

It's funny how life changes when you "grow up" and become an adult. As a little girl, both my mom and stepmom always made bolognese sauce from scratch. I remember my mom making it in a pressure cooker (the old school Instant Pot!) after work and my step mom making it in a beige dutch oven on a weekend, letting it cook all day long. Fast forward 22 years and I had my own apartment, cooking all my own meals. And... I bought jarred sauce. I'd always add some of my own herbs to brighten it up, but I bought jarred sauce for 12 years before I rediscovered the art of making my own. Yes, it takes a little time, but you can throw all this stuff in a slow cooker or instant pot (or a pressure cooker!) before work and come home to an amazing meal. Or, you can do it on the stove top and double or triple the recipe, then freeze the leftovers for a month or two down the road. Seriously, once you learn how to make it from scratch, you'll never buy jarred sauce again! This is how I make homemade bolognese sauce.

My kids all love spaghetti sauce, so I look at this as an opportunity. They don't love veggies. In fact, one of the only ways I've found to get them to eat veggies are those fruit and veggie pouches (you know, that have tons of fruit and like one veggie in it... Oh well). I take this opportunity to hide veggies in the sauce! Not only does it deepen the flavor of the meat sauce, but it provides extra nutrition for a traditionally carb and cheese heavy meal.

Homemade Bolognese Sauce
- 1-2 carrots, but into small pieces
- half a large white onion, diced
- half a package fresh spinach
- half a pint Portabella mushrooms, diced
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 pound ground beef (I like the 90/10 local grass fed beef for this so it's not too greasy)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-2 cups of water
- variety of fresh herbs (read below for details)
- salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrots, mushrooms and spinach. Cook for several minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is cooked through. Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook a minute or so. Stir in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and add the sugar (the sugar cuts the acidity of canned tomatoes so it's not as sharp on your tongue... The more you know, right?!)

Add the water until the sauce is slightly runny. Don't worry, it will thicken! Let all that stew together over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. The effort of this recipe is in cutting up the veggies and browning the ground beef, after everything is in the pot it's super easy! Just turn the stove down low and let it bubble away. If the sauce gets thick, add water.

After all the veggies, sauce, tomatoes and spices have been added
After it's cooked for about an hour, add some fresh herbs. I grow a variety of herbs in my garden and use whatever happens to be flourishing. That's part of the beauty of this recipe, it's flexible! Have a ton of fresh rosemary? Great, add it. Basil? Yes, delicious. I've done fresh chives, thyme, basil and rosemary, or a combination of all of those. The sauce takes on a different flavor every time, but it's always delicious! As long as my basil is growing well, I top it with fresh basil before eating which is extra yummy.

After the sauce has been cooking for a few hours
Just like with the herbs, the same goes for veggies! Don't like mushrooms? Don't add them! Have something on hand that's about to go bad - use it! I've added fresh tomatoes from my garden that were too "mushy" to eat on a sandwich but perfect for a sauce. Root veggies are great to add for winter sauces, and summer squash and zucchini work in the summer. I just like to add 3-4 of whatever veggies I have laying around, and make sure to roast them a bit first in the pan, before the beef and the tomato sauce is added. That helps develop the flavor.

I like to top this robust homemade bolongese sauce over fettuccine or linguine. I like the way the thicker noodle holds up to all the meat and veggies! But you can certainly put it over whatever pasta you prefer. It pairs well with a side salad. If I happen to have a ton of fresh basil, I like to pair it with a caprese salad (fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) or you could make your life super easy and pick up a bagged Cesar salad. Yup, that was the sound of all my foodie blogger friends cringing at the fact I recommended a bagged salad. Oh well! I happen to like them and how easy they make my life.

A white bowl of linguine pasta covered in bolognese sauce with a side sprig of fresh basil
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Once you make this sauce, you'll never go back to jarred again! It's so easy to make homemade bolognese sauce. All it takes is time, but if you've got an instant pot or a slow cooker, you can easily make this while you're at work or use the pressure cooker function on your instant pot and throw it together when you get home. It's the perfect Sunday meal (as seen here with Teddy) or weeknight meal. Don't buy jarred sauce! Make your own homemade bolognese sauce.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day

It's the last unofficial day of summer - get off the internet and go enjoy it! I'll see you back here on Thursday with a fresh post on the best essential oils for an anti-aging regiment in your skincare.

Au revior summer! This girl can't wait for fall.