[UPDATED]: SCREEN TIME FOR BABIES

Back in July I wrote an article about screen time for babies and how it is a big “no-no” for children under 2 years of age. As much as I wish I were updating this article with new info about how it is not only good to let your kids watch TV that young, but also recommended for admission into Ivy League schools later in life, sadly I am not. I am here to confess that I am a complete failure at this; my 1 year-old daughter loves watching Baby Einstein videos and they have made the last few weeks more bearable for everyone in this family.

If you have been keeping up with my PCS adventures, then you know that my family has been without household goods for 34 days now. The first week was especially hard because not only did we not have anything in our house, but also my husband was not home to help entertain our LO. That’s when I turned to Baby Einstein and never looked back. I stumbled upon one of the videos on YouTube and played it for her; it magically kept her still and focused for 20 minutes. I then found a whole series of Baby Einstein classics on Amazon Prime and introduced a different one each day while I cleaned and prepped our house for moving out. I even had them saved to my iPhone for her to watch on our 14+ hour plane ride and they truly were a life saver. Now that we are temporarily living in a hotel until a house becomes available, Baby Einstein videos help break up our day and keep things exciting for our LO. Continue reading

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My PCS Adventure: Part Two

Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

That’s basically all I have to say about the past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot I could say, but I don’t want to rant and cry all over this blog today. Instead I’m looking forward to reaching our new destination and beginning a new life. 

Stay tuned for tips and tricks on surviving with a one year old in an empty house and while PCSing. 

My PCS Adventure 

We are back from our four week leave over the holidays to see family and friends. It’s nice to be back home, though our departure from California is imminent. Movers arrived earlier this week to begin our PCS (permanent change of station) adventure. This will be our sixth move since we got together and third move with the military. Moving always presents some challenges, but moving with a baby and overseas has really given a whole new meaning to “challenge”. Here are my notes thus far, I’ll keep you all updated through the coming weeks. 
Day 1 without HHG 

Less than 16 hours into not having furniture, cookware, or kid toys I wanted to call it quits and go check into a hotel. I’m no quitter so I’m sticking it out as long as possible. The packers/movers were so efficient they got all of our household goods (that are going to Japan) done in one day instead of two. We still have several more days of packing/shipping left for our Express and Storage items though. 

My daughter has had a runny nose and cough for a few days, but no fever so I have been holding out on going to the doctor. Her symptoms worsened last night so I took advantage of the “mover-free” day and took her to see our favorite Doc. Turns out she has bronchiolitis, a virus that’s going around. The doctor recommended I sleep with her in a chair for the next few nights so she doesn’t drown in her own mucous. Great, that will be fun with no furniture!

(Note: I asked around and borrowed a rocking chair from one of my Stroller Warriors sisters. So lucky to have them.)

After an exhausting day of cleaning up snot and keeping our daughter from falling all the way down the steps my husband gets home and I ask him to watch our LO a bit so I can take a minute to breathe. He announces he has to change and go to the bathroom first before he can help. I usually totally understand, but today I have so many issues with this! 1) he spends way too much time in the bathroom. Someone should see a doctor if they are actually going for that long and besides I can hear him playing on his phone. 2) I don’t get the luxury of hanging out in the bathroom for 30+ minutes BY MYSELF a day 3) I wish I were the one attending SERE school instead of home in an empty house, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a rocking chair, with a sick baby. Locked in a cage for a few days alone sounds like a 5 star resort to me!

Day 2 without HHG 

I put on the last wash load (or so I thought) before prepping our washer and dryer for storage and my LO immediately threw up on me and herself. This is going to be a long day. Not to mention I have to go pick up my husband’s eye glasses from downtown so he can wear them into the field tomorrow. Movers are coming this afternoon and I’m working off 2 hours of sleep. And by the way his glasses were ready back in October. 

Movers were delayed today and didn’t arrive until after 5PM. So glad I spent the whole afternoon waiting around.

Day 3 without HHG and Day 1 of Solo Parenting 

Got up at 4AM to take husband to base so he could go to the field for SERE training. I’ve been really annoyed with this whole process, but am really going to miss his help at night this next week. 

Movers are due to pack up the last bit of stuff in our house today (i.e. washer/dryer, china cabinet, pieces of our sectional sofa) and put them in storage. When I got home from dropping DH off at work I remembered I needed to disconnect and drain the washer. Well shit! I had all our tools packed in our Express shipment so we would have them when we arrive in Japan, which was picked up yesterday. Now I’m running around at 7:30 in the morning knocking on neighbors’ doors trying to find a wrench. We have such great neighbors by the way. Got one! Now I really feel like a super mom because I squeezed my big, pregnant belly into our laundry room with the washer pulled out and climbed on top to disconnect the hose. Lesson learned: turn off water first! I some how managed to get both hoses disconnected and the washer emptied without completely flooding the laundry room. Whew! 

Next challenge is catching the cat! Movers called and said they are on their way. I need to put the cat in her crate so she doesn’t escape while the doors are open. What does she do? Hides in the box spring of the bed that is about to get packed for storage. I’m halfway thinking I’ll let her stay in there and see if she survives 3 years in storage. 

Stay tuned for more of my PCS adventure in the coming days!

REVIEW: KNOWHEN Advanced Ovulation Test Kit

When my husband and I finally decided to start trying to conceive (TTC) for our first child I was a little worried I’d have trouble getting pregnant. I have endometriosis (a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus) and have been receiving treatment for it for more than half my life. When my doctor gave me the green light to start trying I bought an ovulation monitor to help track my cycle to give us a better chance for conceiving. I loved how accurate the monitor was and I found it fascinating to track the changes in my body from day-to-day. The downside to using the monitor was peeing on a stick (POAS) every morning and buying a new test kit every month (there is a limited supply of one-use strips). I just looked back at my Amazon history and found that I spent hundreds of dollars on ovulation test kits over the course of our TTC period. I used multiple ovulation tests, took my basal body temperature every day, and even gave up alcohol and caffeine during the process. It took me almost a year to get pregnant. As much as I think it was worth it because it resulted in my beautiful daughter, I also think it is insane to spend that much time and money on baby-making, a thing that happens by accident to most people. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is easily overlooked when it comes to decorating and making a big fuss. You probably still have some Halloween candy lingering in the pantry and a decoration or two out that you’ve been too lazy to put away and are just calling it a “fall pumpkin”now instead of a Jack-o-lantern. Now is the time we start to rack our brains for Christmas gift ideas and Thanksgiving is just an event that falls in the middle of all this chaos.

My husband and I live on the opposite side of the country from our families so we won’t be able to celebrate and give thanks with them this year. I was almost going to ignore that Thanksgiving was even happening, but some of our dear friends, who we share this military life with, have invited us to spend the day with them and their family. It feels nice to have a place to go and share the day with friends and for that I am truly thankful.

So now I’m ready to get in the Thanksgiving mood. I pulled out all my fall napkins and tablecloth, but the house still doesn’t have that fall feel that I was hoping for…maybe it’s all the 90 degree days we have been having. I love FamilyFun‘s craft projects because they are usually pretty easy and I seem to always have the supplies lying around the house. For instance, I have 4 larges vases of pine cones sitting on my mantle from last Christmas. I’ve been trying to justify that it is an “all-year” decoration, but you and I both know I’m just lazy. FamilyFun Magazine gave me the idea to put those pine cones to good use by making a Fall Garland (see instructions below). Continue reading

Glory Days

I’m loving this “Fall-like” weather we’ve had recently in San Diego. It has made running in the morning a lot more enjoyable. Last week while my husband and I are were out at one of our favorite running spots, we encountered one of the local high school cross country teams. I think just seeing the kids out practicing put a pep in both of our steps. We both ran cross country in high school and college and just seeing the young runners float by made me miss those glory days. I remember when I liked running so hard it made me want to vomit. I ran through illnesses and injuries and pushed myself further than I probably should. If you told me it would be difficult or even impossible to accomplish, I’d be sure to prove you wrong. These days I run as fast as a snail and the slightest ache or pain has me making excuses. Having a running group to lean on has been so helpful and motivating, but more on that in a bit.

Running is a great time to reflect on your day, your week, or even your life. During this particular run I was thinking back on how fit and fast I used to be. I remember all the cute running shorts I used to have. Now I wouldn’t dare try to run in a pair of “booty” shorts. My poor thunder thighs would be so chaffed. After the third time the high school girls sprinted by me in their short shorts and sports bras, I stopped feeling bad about my current abilities and rather started feeling proud as I looked back on all that I’ve accomplished and all that I plan to do. I was out there on the same path, in the early morning, pushing a stroller and battling morning sickness with every stride. “These girls got nothing on me!” It has been amazing to watch my body change over the years through age, pregnancy, and child birth. I thought having a baby would slow me down and keep me from running, but it has really done the opposite. Since my baby was born 9 months ago I have completed a 10K, several 5Ks, a 4 Miler over a bridge, and a Half Marathon.

I feel like I’ve been comparing myself to younger girls my whole life and it really needs to stop. I will never forget my high school cross country coach, Mr. Reynolds, telling me the two reasons I would not make “All-State” my Senior year: 1) I was not one of the fastest high school runners in the state and 2) they were allowing middle schoolers to compete and from an anatomy stand point these girls were at an advantage because they hadn’t fully gone through puberty and their hips weren’t as wide as mine. I was shocked! I never expected him to actually tell me I did not have a chance, much less use my body shape to make his point. I realize now, after a few Google searches, that Mr. Reynolds wasn’t as full of bologna as I had believed. It’s known as the “obstetrics dilemma”: humans give birth to ginormous babies (compared to other species) and childbirth is easier for woman with much wider hips, but Anthropologists have believed for some time now that wide enough hips for childbirth is bad for bipedalism. However, a recent study by Kristi Lewton and her team at Boston University found no connection at all between hip width and efficiency: wide-hipped runners moved just as well as their narrow-hipped peers (you can find the full article here). I found this out for myself in 2004 when I shocked the hell out of Mr. Reynolds by beating the narrow-hipped middle schoolers, making the “All-State” team, and running my fastest 5K time ever, wide hips and all!

I’ve long since worried about my speed while running. I mostly focus now on my endurance and running long distances. I love seeing how far I can actually run. I have completed a few ultramarathons and would love to do more in the future. When I lived in Maryland I ran with an ultra trail group called the Frederick Steeplechasers. I’ve never met a group that loved running as much as they do. My husband and I were half the age of most of the runners and they could kick our butts on any given day. Some of these folks are running faster and farther in their 50s and 60s than they ever did in their 20s. It is amazing and encouraging to see such endurance and passion in other runners who are more senior. I can’t wait to see what I’m capable of at their age.

Claire and I are now a part of Stroller Warriors running club (like I mentioned in a previous post). We are a group of women with all abilities, shapes, and sizes. Some of the ladies are working on their first 5K while others are training for their first 50K! These women are so inspiring and I love that we keep each other accountable. Claire will be interviewing two ladies from the group who just ran the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. I’m excited to hear about their experience. Women are really taking over when it comes to marathons and longer distances. It turns out our bodies were made for it. Here are some fun facts about why women are good distance runners:
1. Women generally have a larger surface area to mass ratio, which enables heat to dissipate more easily, meaning women are generally better at coping with heat. (From ultrarunner, registered dietician and sports nutritionist, and Training Food author Renee McGregor)

2. Shorter legs (compared to men) are seen as advantage as they are more suited for a quicker turnover, and a faster cadence will ensure efficient use of the elastic energy created during our running stride. (From Running Reborn by Shane Benzie)

3. Women use about 75% more fat than men while running, this means consistent and almost limitless energy release. (From The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik)


I guess my point to all this rambling is this: I sure do miss running the way I did in high school, but when it comes to running, my glory days are not behind me. I plan on running many, many more miles with my wide hips, thunder thighs, and babies in tow. Running is just one of those things you can do at any point in your life and with a little bit of training you might not be too bad at it.

Laundry Day

I hate doing laundry! I don’t actually know a single person who likes to do laundry. I’m the worst at letting it pile up. When I do get around to finally washing it, I absolutely avoid folding it at all costs. Sometimes our clean laundry will sit in buckets for a week or longer. Every morning we dump the clean laundry on the bed, pick out what we need for the day, and pretend like we will get around to folding it later. Usually, right before bed we are scraping the clothes back into the bucket and saving it for another day. This goes on for several days until I just can’t take it anymore or when the cat gets too much fur on the clothes and I can no longer consider them clean. Then I give in and fold the dreaded laundry, which is much more of a chore these days than it should be.  Continue reading

Diaper Bag Must-Haves

Trying to figure out what all needed to go in the diaper bag was a huge struggle for me the first few times I left the house with my new baby. After a few rookie mistakes I learned to pack enough stuff for almost any circumstance. I will never forget my first outing. My daughter was 5-days old and I took her to a studio to get newborn photos taken. I only packed a sample pack of baby wipes in my diaper bag. (Why is this even a thing? You are tricking new moms into thinking this is enough wipes.) I was only going to be gone a few hours so surely that would be enough. Wrong! As soon as we got to the studio my LO had a diaper blow out and I used every last one of those wipes in the sample pack before she was clean. I was so embarrassed, but luckily the photographer had been around new moms before and was more prepared. I now always make sure I have an almost full pack of wipes at all times!

I feel very lucky in that I have been surrounded by so many experienced moms during this first year with a new baby. I joined a running group right after my postpartum check up, called Stroller Warriors. (Stroller Warriors® is a FREE running club for military spouses and their family members.) These moms welcomed me with open arms and have been there for me to lean on and to learn from. I invited my friend Leah, from the group, to go to lunch today so we could discuss her diaper bag. Every time I’ve been out with Leah I have been super impressed at her organization and ability to wrangle two little girls with such ease. She definitely makes being a mom of two look super easy. It might be because of her magical diaper bag. I swear she must have cast an undetectable extension charm on her bag like Hermione Granger (yes, I did just visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Leah has so much stuff in her bag and everything is super useful I thought I’d get a list and share it with you all.

Leah’s Diaper Bag Must-Haves:

Thirty One Zip Top Tote – This is Leah’s FAVORITE bag for carrying baby things around. It has 5 pockets on the outside and two mesh pockets on the end that you can easily slide things into. It also zips on the top for safety of your personal belongings. It’s a little more on the pricey side, but totally worth it and they come in such cute colors.
Diaper Bag Dispenser – This is a mom’s best friend! The compact dispenser conveniently clips to diaper bags for odor control at home or on the go. The bags are infused with baking soda for safe, effective, and natural odor elimination. (Note from Mallory: I use these when I’m at a friend’s house and need to dispose of a diaper. It’s just rude to leave something smelly in their trash especially if they don’t have kids. These bags are also good for putting soiled clothes in if your child has an accident away from home.)

Tiny Diner Portable Placemat – These are the BEST when your kiddos start eating their own food in restaurants…you can wipe it down easily at the end of the meal and store it almost anywhere in any diaper bag. Only drawback I can find is that it does not stay wrapped up the way it comes in the packaging so I take a rubber band and put it around the rolled up placemat to keep it together and easily accessible. 
Baby Bjorn Bib – I get compliments on these bibs all the time! It catches anything that dribbles out of the babies or kids mouths! We throw the kids snacks into the pocket during picnics and the kids can access them easily all by themselves. Drawbacks are that they don’t condense down very much because they are molded plastic so they are a bit cumbersome but they are so stinkin’ easy to wipe off or even run through the dishwasher (on the top shelf!). 

Vera Bradley ID Card Case – I love this card case/wallet because my ID is always easily accessible and I don’t even have to take it out since there is a clear view pocket on the front. It holds a lot of cards, including annual passes, credit cards, business cards, etc.

D Shape Aluminum Carabiner – If you can’t get anything else on my list, get this! I hook my keys and wallet (ID card case) together on this D ring and the best part, I can hook it to ANY bag I choose and switch it around when I go from purse to diaper bag. It’s a security thing for me because then if someone tries to get my keys/wallet, they will tug on my bag and I will feel it!

Baby Powder – This might sound like an odd “must-have” but if you’ve ever spent a sandy day at the beach, you will know why this is in my top picks! Baby powder gets sand off your kiddos like nobody’s business so it doesn’t just come in handy for poopy diapers! Just sprinkle it on any place they get sand and it comes right off as well as leaving them smelling like beautiful little babies, not stinky seaweed! It also comes in handy if you’re running around all day and don’t have a chance to run home to freshen up!

Ziploc bags marked for each kid – Fill Ziploc with their essentials: diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc. I never even thought of this, but Leah mentioned it is so much easier to grab the Ziploc bag marked for that kid if you need to do a quick diaper change. Also if you drop them off at daycare their stuff won’t get mixed up.

Mommy Things – you don’t want to leave home without your own essentials. Leah and I were discussing how easy it is to forget to take care of yourself when you are busy with your kids. Keep a bag like this in your diaper bag and you will always be prepared. Mine has Tylenol, sunscreen, pads, Kleenex, gum, and extra hair ties. 

Since my daughter is younger than both of Leah’s girls and doesn’t eat much solid food yet, I’ll add that it is also useful to keep a nursing blanket/cover in your bag at all times or formula/bottles. That way you are always ready if your baby needs to eat. I still keep an extra shirt for myself in the bag as well because my daughter was notorious for spitting up on me any chance she got.

I hope this list is helpful for new moms or moms that are about to have two kids. I know it seems like a lot to lug around, but I promise you want to be over prepared so there is less stress on you and your kiddos. Let us know if there are any other “must-haves” and we will add them to the list.

Because adulting is hard…

The last week of September really had me wishing for Fall weather. The Santa Ana winds brought the hottest days of the year to Southern California. I literally thought I was going to melt. I was so happy to wake up to cooler weather this morning and put jeans on! We got up at 4:30AM to go stand in line for coffee at a “pop-up” Luke’s diner from the show Gilmore Girls. 

Continue reading

6 Ways My Husband is a Better Parent

My husband and I are very competitive. We try to best each other in almost anything and for the most part he usually wins, except in water sports. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason he is terrible at anything related to the water.  When we found out we were having a baby I was very excited. Finally, I thought, something I can beat him at. Surely, I’d be a better parent. I’m nurturing and love taking care of people. He is not nurturing and doesn’t particularly like other people. I was basically made to be the world’s greatest mom. I may be a great mom and he is definitely a great dad, but overall he is hands down a better parent and here is why:

  1. He has not lost a wink of sleep since our daughter was born. Everyone always uses the term “I slept like a baby.” Um, no thanks! Babies sleep horribly. I’d rather sleep like a new dad. Our baby can be screaming in his ear while he is asleep and it will not faze him at all. As I mentioned in a previous post, we encountered a pretty substantial earthquake that shook our whole house and bed and he still did not wake. Some nights when I’m feeling extra resentful, I’ll wake him up and make him get me water or ask him to do some other unnecessary task just so he has to get up and be awake with me. Call me cruel, but I haven’t slept for longer than a 3 hour stretch in over 8 months.

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    “Sleeping like a Daddy”

  2. Speaking of sleep, my husband can somehow lay our daughter down in her crib and she will go right to sleep. No matter what time of day it is. I have seen him unknowingly put her down for a nap, right after she woke up from a nap and she falls right back to sleep! WTF? When I put her to bed, there is at least 5-10 minutes, if not more, protesting before she gives in and falls asleep. He claims it is because she knows her cries have no effect on him.
  3. Our baby’s cries have no effect on him! I have gotten better over time, but it still hurts me deep down in my soul when I have to listen to our daughter cry. Sleep training was the worst. I think it was more painful for me than her. Now we are going through teething and I would do anything in my power to never hear her cry again. No wonder they used to use the sound of babies crying as a torture method. I’m sure it is super effective…unless you are my husband. Just the other day I heard our daughter crying in the nursery for a long time. I knew Daddy was watching her, but after a while I started to get suspicious because she was still crying. I go in there to check on them and he is just sitting in the chair holding her as she howls in his ear.
  4. Our daughter already knows that she can’t get away with stuff around him. If she starts crawling toward an outlet or over to the bookshelf to eat a book, all my husband has to do is clear his throat or say “no” once and she quickly sits back on her butt and redirects like she never intended to go that way in the first place. When I am home with her and tell her “no” she literally laughs at me…hysterically I might add. It is very disconcerting.
  5. He put together matching safari outfits for the two of them for our first family trip to the zoo. Somehow it is just not as cute when I dress my daughter like me. I always feel like the mom from “Mean Girls” and a little bit desperate when I do it…that definitely has not stopped me though. When my husband wears a watching outfit with my daughter it is the cutest, most adorable thing you have ever seen. It literally made all the ladies at the zoo swoon.

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    San Diego Zoo 2016

  6. My husband Bedazzled a jean jacket for our daughter. Let’s start with the fact that he bought a Bedazzler online with the sole purpose of turning a brand new OshKosh B’gosh jean jacket into a more fashionable wardrobe piece for her. He spent days tracing out designs and searching for the perfect rhinestones. I will say I am super jealous of his dedication and craftsmanship. Our baby is lucky I even found the time to go to OshKosh B’gosh in the first place.

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    He added a cigar to make it look more manly

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The most bad ass baby on the block – that is Cthulhu bedazzled on her jacket, not a plain octopus.

So you can see from these examples my husband somehow got this parenting thing figured out way before me. Just wait till she starts walking and talking and we will see who is better then.