True Confessions: I Don’t Know How to Use a Toilet

The first thing I learned when we arrived in Japan was that the toilet situation was going to be a little bit different from what we were used to. How different could it really be? I am from Kentucky and have used plenty of “out houses” over the years. My mother will tell you that as a child I had a fascination with bathrooms and every time we went somewhere I had to use/check-out the facilities. If we were at a relative’s house that had multiple bathrooms I was sure to go in every one. Fortunately, I out grew this and became less fond of doing my “business” in public restrooms. Continue reading

7 MUST-HAVE ITEMS WHEN TRAVELLING WITH AN INFANT/TODDLER

I’m not saying I’m an expert at travelling with an infant/toddler, but I have definitely discovered a few techniques to make life easier on the go and figured out what items are absolutely necessary to have on hand. During this PCS Adventure, my family has been without household goods for 48 days, spent 3 days in airports and on planes, and lived in hotels for 26 days. It has been a learning experience for us all and I think everyone was pushed to their limit at one point during this adventure. We are finally in our new house, but still do not have household goods so we are back to “roughing it” in our own home. I honestly do not think we would have made it this far without the following items: Continue reading

[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

Child Proofing your Devices

A while back my friend Angela told me about “Guided Access” for the iPhone and I never thought I would need it because I didn’t want to be one of those parents who gave their child an iPhone to play with. Well, now that I have nothing in my house to entertain my little monster with I have resorted to letting her watch Baby Einstein and other educational videos on my iPhone (see My PCS Adventure for more on why I don’t have anything in my house). She absolutely loves it and it keeps her happy for a few minutes. The only problem is she wants to hold the phone and her sticky little fingers move all over the screen and close out the video. Then a major melt down occurs. By enabling “Guided Access” this problem is completely eliminated. It allows me to lock everything on the screen (or just certain features) so my kid can’t open/close any apps on my phone that I don’t want her to.


From Apple Support:

Use Guided Access with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Guided Access helps you to stay focused on a task while using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Guided Access limits your device to a single app and lets you control which app features are available.

You can use Guided Access to:

  • Temporarily restrict your iOS device to a single app
  • Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction
  • Disable the hardware buttons

Set up Guided Access

Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access to set up Guided Access. From there, here’s what you can do:

  • Turn Guided Access on or off
  • Set a passcode that controls the use of Guided Access and prevents someone from leaving an active session
  • Set whether the device can go to sleep during a session

Start a Guided Access session

To start a Guided Access session, follow these steps:

  1. Open the app you want to use.
  2. Triple-click the Home button.
  3. Adjust settings for the session, and then tap Start.

Control apps, screen sensitivity, and motion sensitivity

You can use Guided Access to turn off app controls, parts of the screen, and motion sensing. Follow these steps:

To disable app controls and areas of the app screen, follow these steps:

  1. Circle any part of the screen you want to disable.
  2. Use the handles to adjust the area.

To ignore all screen touches, turn off Touch.

To keep your iOS device from switching from portrait to landscape or from responding to any other motions, turn off Motion.

End a Guided Access session

If you’re using Touch ID on your iOS device, you can use it to end a Guided Access session. First, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access > Passcode Settings and turn on Touch ID. Now, when you’re using Guided Access, you can end the session by following these steps:

  1. Press the Home button once.
  2. Use Touch ID.

If you’re not using Touch ID on your device, follow these steps to end a Guided Access session:

  1. Triple-click the Home button.
  2. Enter the Guided Access passcode.

Now I’m not exactly sure why you wouldn’t have an iPhone, but if you are like Claire and don’t have one here is how to set up a restricted profile for your Android so you can lock down access to only the apps you choose, as well as set parental restrictions for videos, music, and books.

Instructions courtesy of PC World:

Set up Restricted Profile

  1. Tap Settings > Users > Add user or profile, and then tap Restricted profile.
  2. Next, you’ll see a setup screen with the name “New profile” at the top. Tap New profile to change the name to, say, the name of your child.
  3. Below the profile name, you’ll see a list of every app installed on your device—including Chrome, Google search, the Camera app, and others that you might not want your toddler touching. They’re all switched off by default. Certain apps, like Google+ and Google Hangouts, can’t be turned on at all; for the others (like, say, PBS Kids), you can unblock access by flipping the switches next to their icons. You’ll also find a few apps with gear-shaped Settings buttons; tap to configure additional “restricted” settings, such as content ratings for movies and TV shows.
  4. All set? Tap the Back button, put your phone or tablet to sleep, then tap the user icon in the top corner of the screen (for Lollipop-enabled devices) or at the bottom (for KitKat devices). Tap the icon of the restricted profile you just created, and boom—your Android device is baby-proofed.

I’m breaking a lot of the promises I made myself when I first became a mom, like never letting my daughter play with my iPhone and no screen time for kids under two years old. I’m sure more seasoned moms are reading this laughing at me and I am sure there are many more rules I will change in the future. What are some of the things you have gone back on as a new mom?

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. 

Potty Training Take 2…and 3

In anticipation of our second baby, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to potty train our two-year-old. I was faced with the dilemma of potty training when my son began to show the signs of interest before we made our big cross-country move 2 months ago. But with our looming move, I feared that inevitable poop and pee accidents on-the-road combined with the possibility of him regressing anyway would be a much bigger headache. So I didn’t end up fully enforcing the potty habit.

Now that my son has abandoned all interest in the potty, we are settled in our new home and the final countdown for Baby #2’s arrival has begun. What better time to have made the executive decision to begin potty training?!  Here are some reasons we are falling short of success so far: Continue reading

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!

3 of my DGAF Resolutions for 2017

We survived 2016! Thank you, eager readers, for bearing with us as Mallory traveled for the holidays and I moved all the way across the country. It was an exhausting December, for sure.

Now that I’ve gotten a little more settled and my growing belly has made me a little less active and energetic, I can sit down and think of ways I’d like to care less about things in 2017. So, here it is in the form of my 2017 resolutions, 3 ways IDGAF (this is an urban dictionary acronym) about this year:

1. Say “NO”

As a parent this one seems easy. I say no to my kid all the time, “NO more cookies,” “NO more TV,” “NO eating off the floor like a dog.”  But for some reason “no” doesn’t come so easily when making plans or taking on some added responsibility. So this is the year I’ll say no to “attending” yet another online party, no to social outings when all I want to do is watch a Netflix show by myself, no to free favors that overwhelm what I already have on my plate. A definitive “no” wastes less time and, in my opinion, is more courteous than a lukewarm maybe (which almost always turns to a last-minute no).

2. Ignore More on Facebook

I’m not particularly productive when I’m on Facebook. I like to see important life updates and pictures of how everyone is doing, but occasionally as I’m scrolling through all of the humble-brags, repetitive sales pitches and bad information I think of deleting my account altogether. In my quest for good journalism and sound science, I find it especially hard to resist the urge to reply to every misleading headline or meme with the Snopes article that corrects it. But I also don’t want to alienate friends by becoming some sort of fact-checking vigilante. So, I’m trying to ignore the app more and hide the people who are a little too trigger-happy with the share button. I highly recommend it.

3. Cut myself some slack

Arguably, I began doing this more at the end of 2016, especially when Mallory and I decided to take a bit of a writing break during the holidays and when I decided it would be okay to NOT get around to all of the Christmas activities I had planned.  In 2017, I’m going to be quicker to accept the fact that I may not get around to doing the dishes at the end of the day, quicker to go ahead and let my son watch that extra TV show when I’m just too exhausted.

You see, I’m hoping that by worrying less and caring less about the trivial things that 2017 is going to be pretty awesome. Cheers to a new year, new homes and new sons for me and Mallory!

Trees for Troops

Now that the holidays are upon us, do not be surprised if our blog posts become few and far between. We have not forgotten about you, we are just spending time with our families. I feel very lucky that this year my husband and I get to share our daughter’s first Christmas with family. Not all military families are lucky enough to share the holidays with their spouse and children, much less their extended family back home. I saw this story that recognizes the sacrifice of military members and their families during the upcoming holiday season and just had to share with our readers.

There are many ways to spread holiday cheer, and donating Christmas trees is one of them. Minter’s Farm, a family-owned and -operated Christmas tree farm in Georgia, is part of a network of tree farms around the U.S. that donates trees to the Trees for Troops program through the Christmas Spirit Foundation. For the 11th year, FedEx will collect the trees from various farms and deliver them to troops at military bases across the U.S. and in Guam. It’s just one more way we help with How the Holidays Arrive.®

Making the holidays special for military families
FedEx is expanding their support of the armed forces this holiday season by working with the USO and continuing their support of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation’s Trees for Troops program. Marvin Hill, a FedEx employee and 35 year military veteran, said, “The holidays start with a tree.” Hill himself was a recipient of a tree while stationed abroad and said he loved the feeling he would get when the Christmas trees were delivered.


Since the Trees for Troops program launched in 2005, FedEx has shipped more than 176,000 real Christmas trees to service members and their families – covering every branch of the military at close to 65 bases in 17 countries.

Trees for Troops kicked off in Indianapolis on Nov. 15 when real Christmas trees were loaded onto FedEx Express airplanes for overseas bases. Personalized holiday messages sent via Twitter and with #treesfortroops or #fedexcares were tied to each tree before they were sent to bases. 


Tomorrow MCAS Miramar, our home base, is distributing Christmas trees from this program. I hope these trees bring joy to the recipients and I wish everyone near and far a very merry Christmas!