Surviving w/ Two Kids under Two

It’s been a minute since I’ve written a blog post… possibly because I’ve been a little occupied with our new bundle of “joy.” Life with two children under the age of two is no joke. If I’m not busy nursing, changing, or trying to get the newborn to sleep, I’m waiting on my toddler who needs a snack, a nap, to go potty, or to be entertained. On top of all of this, our newborn is very colicky. Something I have never dealt with… my first was a dream compared to this.

I’m doing my best not to complain or lose my mind completely, because let’s be real… it could be so much worse. We are all healthy and have everything we need and more. But let me tell you, I am not as quick to judge parents for how they parent or go about life with more than one child. I can’t even get enough time to write this blog, for crying out loud.

My house isn’t as clean as it normally is. I’m usually wearing sweats, hair in a pony, and no make-up. I’ve even had to skip a shower or two. And when it comes to the kids… the toddler gets quick and easy snacks, she has skipped naps, and she’s been having more accidents. And the newborn basically lives in the Baby K’tan (best carrier ever!).

I thought I’d just share a few of the things that have kept me sane during these first couple months with a cranky newborn and a needy toddler…

The Baby K’tan

Again, this carrier is the best! If you follow me on social media, you will often see my son sleeping in it. It’s really easy to get on and he calms down almost immediately when I put him in it. It allows me to get so many things done! You can wear it in several different positions and it grows with baby, so I plan to use it for a long time.


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I am so grateful that Disney+ arrived right before our second was born! First of all, it was a lifesaver when my toddler was really sick this past fall. And now, it’s so nice to quickly put on one of her favorite movies while I’m feeding the baby to keep her content for a few minutes.

And go ahead and judge me for “screen time” but she’s quiet, still, and happy for at least 5 minutes and keeps this mama sane!

Kiinde Pumping System

The Kiinde system is so incredibly convenient for pumping. No, I technically don’t need to pump, but I do so once a day to keep an extra storage of milk for times when I might be away and for when I quit nursing. And it’s so easy to simply pump into the Kiinde bags and throw them in the freezer. Then, when it’s time for him to have a bottle, whoever is watching him just thaws it and pops the bag into the bottle and it’s ready to go!

At-Home Workouts

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As soon as this little nugget made his arrival, I couldn’t wait to get back to exercising. I wanted my old body back and wanted to feel stronger and healthier again. Having a variety of workouts that I can get done quickly is really important to me. I only have so much time and little equipment, so I have a few different resources.

First, there’s the Down Dog app, which is a fantastic app for yoga. They also just came out with some other apps which include HIIT and Barre. I absolutely love all of them. They use body weight and you can do them anywhere in your home. They are customizable, so you can workout for as little as 4 minutes, all the way up to 90 minutes. There’s multiple levels, types, muscle group focuses, music choices, and other customizations. I highly highly recommend these apps!

Then, there’s YouTube workouts. I am obsessed with Fit by Larie. I started doing her prenatal workouts when I was pregnant and I continued with her postnatal. But, she has workouts for anyone and all different lengths and intensities. I haven’t found a video I don’t like yet! Check her out!

Along with these resources, I have also made up my own weight lifting workouts and my husband has given me a few too!

A Supportive Husband

Speaking of my husband. I have no idea what I’d do without him! To all you single parents out there… you. are. amazing! My husband has been so good helping out with the kids when I need him. He mostly keeps the toddler occupied when I’m trying to deal with the newborn. But he takes his turn with the little one as well.

He’s also an amazing cook! I don’t know what I’d do if I had to do the cooking on top of everything else. He cooks dinner almost every night and I just do my best to help if I can. Side note: when I post recipes, they are almost always mostly his doing.

He also takes turns with the kids when I need to take a break and get out, and he watches them when I’m trying to get a workout in. Since my Baby K’tan doesn’t fit him, he uses our LILLEbaby carrier, which is just as convenient!

Did I mention he’s amazing? Because he really is!

Protein Shakes and Protein Bars

There’s not always time for a full meal or a complex snack. A quick shaker with protein powder, Bowmar Greens, and almond milk is sometimes all I get. And my favorite protein bars, FitCrunch Bars, are 100 percent necessary to have in the pantry for a grab and go situation.

Coffee, Iced Coffee, and Coffee

I try really hard to refrain from too much caffeine while breastfeeding, but come on… a mama’s gotta have her happy bean juice. I usually have a caffeinated hot coffee from my Keurig in the morning and a decaf iced coffee in the afternoon. You can find my iced coffee recipe on my Super Easy (& Delicious) Iced Coffee blog. I also like to throw some instant coffee into my protein shakes!

Wine, Beer, and really any alcoholic beverage

I sound like an alcoholic, but boy did I miss drinking while I was pregnant! It’s so nice to have the occasional drink now to unwind.

I love almost any wine, and my husband especially loves reds so we like to pick up a variety of red wines while we are Costco. They have a great selection and it’s much cheaper than most places. We usually get bottles between $9 and $15, and they are almost always delicious!

If you know me from a way back you might be surprised to hear that I drink beer now. However, I am a little snooty with the beer that I drink. I’m still not a fan of domestic light beers… I’d prefer a hard seltzer or mixed drink. My favorites lately are Odell Brewing Company – Hammer Chain, Odell Brewing Company – Sippin’ Pretty, Infusion Brewing Co – Vanilla Bean Blonde

I also love me some Truly Hard Seltzer and mixing vodka (Costco Brand) with a sparkling water.

Anyway, now that I want to pour a drink at 1:00 PM… I guess the point of this blog is just to rant about how much more difficult two kids compared to one is. Again, I’m grateful that we are all very healthy and doing very well. I can’t imagine having more than two children, multiples at a time, or having illnesses or disabilities. We are doing just fine, and I count my blessings everyday.

However, I thought I’d share this list of things that are getting me through a more difficult time and allowing me to cope with two children under the age of two. And I’d like to add that it is now March 26th, 2020… in the heart of the great “Corona Virus Pandemic” and these things are also keeping me sane as we are stuck in the house.

How We Potty Trained our 20 Month Old

When we found out we were pregnant with baby #2, it didn’t take us long to decide that we wanted my daughter, Lily, to be potty trained before he arrived. I really did not want two sets of diapers at the same time.

When Lily turned 18 months, I started researching potty training techniques and asking fellow moms if anyone had been successful at such a young age. I decided to go with the 3 Day “boot camp” technique and invested in a book to help us stay on a plan.

There’s a few different books out there, but I decided to go with “Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers

I liked that this one went straight to wearing underwear instead of the bare buns technique. And I especially liked that she was anti-baby potty chair. I hated the idea of cleaning a potty chair… what’s the difference between that and a diaper??

But, one of the most important things about this plan is having 3 consecutive days of staying at home with nothing else going on so you can follow your toddler around and catch them peeing. Surprisingly, even as a SAHM, finding 3 days that we weren’t busy was not easy, especially around the holidays.

Practicing before the Big 3 Days

So, we practiced for a couple months with pull-ups. Here’s how we practiced before the “boot camp”…

I went and bought the following items:

  • Pull-Ups
  • Toilet Seat – I started with this one with Minnie Mouse on it, to get her excited, which worked perfectly for practicing. However, it wasn’t very stable on the toilet, so I went with the recommendation from the book and got this BabyBjorn Toilet Trainer. Totally worth the money… it stays put and I’m excited about the splashguard since we’re having a boy next!
  • Step Stool – I made the mistake of getting this one at first, which was not a big enough platform for her. I highly recommend a more stable and bigger one like this if you have a young one.
  • Card stock for a sticker chart (I just wrote “Lily went Potty!” on it and she stuck her stickers wherever she wanted)
  • Stickers
  • Treats – At first we did bigger snack-like treats like bags of fruit snacks, mini boxes of raisins, fruit strips, bags of Nilla Wafers, etc. Then, when she started going constantly during the boot camp, we gave her one little piece of candy at a time like M&Ms, Jelly Beans, chocolate chips, etc. And when we got desperate for her to go poo on the toilet, she started getting special treats like Oreos every time she went!
  • Underwear (to get her excited about wearing them someday)
  • This Elmo Potty Book
  • Some Babyganics Hand Sanitizer and a sink extender for keeping hands clean
  • Travel toilet seat – I bought this one, which is nice for storage, but it doesn’t stay on the toilet all that well. Not sure if there’s a better one out there or not.

Then, we just practiced when the time was right. I let her put a sticker on her chart if she went in the toilet and then gave her a treat. At first, I let her have fairly large snacks, like a bag of fruit snacks or mini box of raisins, every time she went since she wasn’t going all that often.

Lily immediately took to going on the potty. She went both pee and poo on the toilet almost right away. She would voluntarily sit on the toilet (mostly to earn a treat, but who cares). She still went in her pull-up often, though. I didn’t bother having her try in public.

Unfortunately, the poor thing got really sick for a good long time and we got way out of practice. Then, Christmas came and went, and that’s when I decided to start the boot camp. It was like starting almost from scratch since she had gotten out of practice so much. We started our 3 Days of potty training when Lily was 20 months old.

The 3 + Days

Day 1

On the first day, I tried to follow the book as closely as possible. Lily woke up, we had something to eat/drink, and I explained to her that today was the day she would get to wear her big girl underwear. We went around and got rid of all her pull-ups and diapers. We took her changing pad off of her dresser. And we took the box of wipes and Aquafor and “gave them to baby brother.” Then, we went to the bathroom, she had her first pee in the potty of the day, and we put her panties on.

For the rest of the day, I kept a close eye on her and constantly reminded her to tell me if she needed to go. Every time she went in the toilet, she got a sticker and a small treat, like one jelly bean or one M&M. We went so many times, I lost count, but she only had one tiny pee accident in her underwear the whole first day. Unfortunately, she never pooped in the toilet, only once in her panties.

For night time, the book suggests getting a different type of pull-up so they seem different than the ones she was wearing before. We went with the X-Small size of Goodnites, which was perfect because they’re Little Mermaid and Lily is obsessed with it right now.

Day 2

Day 2 was pretty similar to day 1, but she didn’t have a single pee accident. However, she did have two poop accidents and again, never went poo in the toilet.

Day 3

Again, Day 3 wasn’t much different (although I was starting to lose my mind.) She still had no pee accidents. But, yet again, another poop accident. Now, we were getting frustrated that she wouldn’t go poo in the toilet, and we were afraid she was getting constipated. I was getting really worried that she was just too young for this.

Day 4

On Day 4, we were determined to get her to go poop in the potty. We were dying to leave the house, so we told her that we could go somewhere if she just went poo in the potty. We sat her on the toilet for longer periods of time and reminded her constantly. We had a visitor that day, which really distracted her and she suddenly had several pee accidents. Now we were really losing all hope until she FINALLY went poo in the toilet. We put the entire box of candy on the floor and just let her rummage to let her know how incredibly proud we were!

So, while she was napping, Alex let me go into town and have some much-needed shopping time to myself. Later, after she woke up, Alex brought her into town to meet me for a couple more stops, just to let her get out of the house as well.

She did great while we were out until the ride home where she had a small pee accident.

**Which reminds me… another great product we invested in was a PiddlePad for her car seat. That way, if she has an accident in the car, it’s a lot less cleanup.

Day 5

On Day 5, I had an ultrasound, so we all packed up to go. Alex was a saint and dealt with taking Lily to the bathroom during our long wait at the doctor’s office. We also went out to lunch and went shopping with no accidents.

Unfortunately, she decided to pee and poop in her pants once we got home that afternoon. However, she redeemed herself and pooped in the toilet again. All the praises again!

Day 6

We have a breakthrough people… Day 6 had zero accidents! We went to the zoo in the morning and went to our neighbors that night. Alleluia!

Day 7

And once again, we had no accidents! She even had a babysitter that night. However, she was kind of manipulating the system and barely tinkling in the toilet to get a treat… but you know what, who cares!

And so on…

We can officially say that Lily is potty trained. Although, she does have some accidents here and there. And she still expects stickers and treats. And we still give her an extra special treat for poops. But, I couldn’t be happier with the results. We have a 20 month old who no longer wears diapers. And with one more month until her brother arrives, it should be some good practice time to nail it all down.

Some Important Tips

If you get the book, it says most of this, but just to show you how important these things are…

Celebrations. Rewards. Positivity.

Lily is definitely a people pleaser, so showing her how proud we were was so important in this. Not to mention, she loves stickers and loves candy. I’m sure every kid is different, but find a way to get them excited about going every. single. time! Even if she had just gone pee 5 minutes ago and went again, I forced myself to be excited for her and to let her have her rewards.

Do Not Give Up

Do you know how badly I just wanted to throw in the towel on that 3rd day? It says 3 Days… why isn’t she potty trained yet?? The book says to follow the plan for at least 10 days before you completely give up. Believe me, I wanted to. I straight up cried on Day 4 because I wanted to get out of the house so badly. I’m telling you… just be patient and keep with the program!

Keep Them Busy on Toilet

Apparently, Lily just needs to be distracted in order to poo. I noticed that every time she pooped her pants, she had been quietly and diligently playing with something. So, when I was getting desperate for her to go on the toilet, I gave her the Elmo potty book and let her push the buttons over and over until she finally just let it all out.

We now keep her Elmo book and her toy cell phone right next to the toilet. I guess she just needs her “magazine.” LOL

Timing is Everything

When it comes to training a toddler before they can speak, it’s really your responsibility to make sure they are going to the bathroom when it’s convenient. We make sure that Lily sits on the potty when she wakes, before and after she eats, before we leave, right as we get to our destination, and so on.

Keep Reminding

It gets so annoying, but little people easily forget, and so you have to keep reminding them that they need to tell you when they have to go. You’ll find yourself saying the same things over and over again, but it really works.

Accidents Happen

I had to constantly remind myself that accidents are going to happen. As gross and no fun as they are, they are going to happen. And it’s important not to get frustrated, especially in front of the kid. We would just take a deep breath and get to business. We would show her the mess she made and tell her how yucky it is. Then we’d explain to her that we don’t do that… we go potty in the toilet, not our pants. And if there was a mess on the floor or a chair, I’d show it to her and even give her a paper towel to help.

Going with this… always be prepared for an accident. We keep a new outfit and underwear in the diaper bag at all times. We also have 9 pairs of underwear so I’m not doing laundry everyday.

So, that’s our potty training journey! She’s been in her underwear for over 2 weeks and things are going great. I will warn you, it is an exhausting time. And there are times when I wonder if we should’ve kept her in diapers. However, I know that I will be so happy we did this in a few months when she becomes more independent and I have a newborn going through 10 diapers and 3 onesies a day!

Feel free to send me any of your potty training questions… I’m no expert but I’d love to help you in your own journey!

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How I will be Packing for the Hospital with Baby #2

As I approach 35 weeks of pregnancy, I’m starting to think about packing our bags for the hospital when Little Man decides to arrive. With my first born, I really didn’t even need a bag packed ahead of time because I started having contractions almost a day before she actually came. However, it was nice to not have to worry about packing everything while I was in pain.

I know there’s a ton of lists out there for this, but I thought I’d share my personal experiences and what items were actually the most important. Some lists that I used before my first was born didn’t give me enough of the right things, and some listed way too many unnecessary things.

So, first let me talk about Mom’s bag…

Mom’s Hospital Bag

1 – Toiletries

This one is definitely according to your own preference, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you at least pack these essentials…

  • Tooth brush/tooth paste
  • Any soaps for a shower (dry shampoo if you’re one of those that doesn’t wash hair)
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush, hair ties, head bands (whatever you’re preference is… I ended up having my hair down the entire time, which I didn’t expect but it was just the most comfortable for me)
  • Make-up remover wipes (these were great when I couldn’t quite take a shower yet)
  • Lip Balm (my lips were really dry the whole time)

Those items, I would say are the most important things, but if you’re anything like me, you feel like more of yourself with a bit of makeup. So, I brought…

  • CC Cream
  • Mascara
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Travel Size Hair Spray

Again, this is your preference… maybe you don’t need any makeup at all or maybe you want your full makeup bag. Just remember how icky you’ll be feeling (especially before that shower) and make sure you make yourself feel as comfortable as possible.

2 – Clothes

This is another one based on preference and your individual needs, but I thought I’d share my personal experience with my firstborn. I knew that the obvious thing was that I’d need to still pack maternity clothes because your body doesn’t just bounce back to your pre-baby shape. So, I packed nursing tanks, maternity tops, and maternity leggings. I heard that I’d need some big underwear too, so I packed my boy short style ones.

I did not take into consideration that I’d be literally wearing a diaper, and leggings are not ideal what-so-ever. And on top of that… I. was. so. HOT! They make you wear the compression socks that go up to your knees and they were constantly covering me up. I had to have my husband go buy me some baggy shorts for my sweaty diaper butt.

So, I will not be making that mistake this time. Here is what I will be packing this time…

  • Nursing Tanks (again, I was really hot, so just wearing a nursing tank alone was perfect.)
  • Robe/Cardigan (this is nice to have if you decide to leave your room or when people come to visit)
  • Baggy Shorts/Sweats (I’ll be packing 2 pairs of shorts and 2 pairs of pants… both one size up and in dark colors)
  • Big Underwear (I’ll pack this, but the hospital provides those mesh underwear which work much better anyway)
  • Socks (I didn’t even take these out of my bag the first time, but it will be colder outside this time around, so I’ll have them at least for the drive home)
  • Going Home Outfit (I don’t even remember what I wore home with my first, because honestly, who cares? I’ll probably just pack a hoodie to throw over my nursing tank and wear my sweats)
  • Flip Flops (you’ll need these for the shower… and I wore mine when I went for a little stroll through the hallways)

3 – Entertainment

You never know how much time you’ll be needing to waste either before or after labor. Make sure you have plenty of things to entertain yourself and keep busy/your mind off of things. We were very lucky with our first and spent very little time at the hospital, however, I will be sure to bring the following items, just in case…

  • Phone/Charger (obviously)
  • Bluetooth speaker (we listened to music while I was in labor, and it definitely made me feel better. Funny story… we just had my Pandora playing on shuffle and it just so happened that “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa came on as I was pushing! LOL)
  • Firestick (we thought we were geniuses for bringing this with our first so we could watch our shows on Netflix/Hulu… but we forgot the remote so we had to watch cable anyway. We will not be forgetting the remote this time!)
  • Deck of cards (Again, this wasn’t needed the first time, but I’ll still pack it just in case)

4 – Snacks

The hospital we had my daughter at had pretty good food, but it’s still a good idea to pack some snacks for both you and your husband. Pack the snacks that might not be the best for you, but you know that you’ll be excited to eat, because if you’re anything like I was, I didn’t have the best appetite and nothing really sounded good after labor.

I also had my large Yeti tumbler (that my husband had to constantly refill for me) and it came in clutch keeping my water nice and cold.

5 – Nursing Items

If you’re going to breastfeed, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need for nursing. Like I said before, nursing tanks are the best and most comfortable, but you can also get some nursing bras and some nursing tops. I also love my nursing night gowns. Not only should you have these clothing items packed in your hospital bag, but make sure you have several purchased ahead of time.

I made the mistake of having only a couple nursing clothing items before my first was born. You are not going to be able to do laundry everyday! Make sure you have plenty to last you a few days, otherwise, you’ll be like me, asking your family members to go buy you some more after the baby is born.

Getting back to your hospital bag… pack your nursing pillow to make those first frustrating days learning to breastfeed as comfortable as possible. And also, have nursing pads and nipple cream ready to go!

6 – Other Comforts

There are just a few more things you might want to consider packing for your own comfort.

  • Pillow – The hospital pillows aren’t exactly the best, so if you’re particular to your own pillow, go ahead and bring it.
  • Blanket – I didn’t find this necessary, but if your own blanket makes you more comfortable, go for it.

On a side note, my hospital provided the following items, but I’m sure not all hospitals do…

  • Maxi Pads (the biggest ones, trust me)
  • Peri Bottle
  • Numbing Spray
  • Breast Pump (the hospital let me use theirs, but they asked if I had mine with me so I could learn how to use it while I was there, so it might be a good idea to throw yours in the car)

Dad’s Hospital Bag

1 – Clothing

Dad’s are pretty easy. They just need to make sure they have a few comfortable outfits. I’m pretty sure Alex mostly wore gym shorts/sweats while we were in the hospital with our first. He brought jeans for going home in, but even that isn’t totally necessary.

And don’t forget the flip flops, if he wants to take a shower while he’s there.

He might need some running shoes because that’s literally all he does while he’s in the hospital. My husband lost 10 pounds! LOL

2 -Toiletries

This is really up to him, but he’ll want the essentials like his tooth brush, shower supplies, and deodorant.

He might also want to bring his own towel if he’s going to shower.

3 – Entertainment

Whatever keeps him busy while he waits.

  • Computer/Tablet
  • Magazine
  • Book
  • Don’t forget the chargers!

4 – Other Comforts

  • Pillow
  • Blanket

These were both more necessary for him than for me, since all he had was a couch.

  • Snacks (he actually get’s to eat before the baby comes, unlike you)

Baby’s Hospital Bag

1 – Diaper Bag

Obviously, you’ll want to bring the diaper bag that you will be using for your little one after they’re born. Here are the items that I kept in Lily’s bag at all times…

  • 5+ Diapers
  • Pack of Wipes
  • Changing Pad
  • Travel Size Aquafor
  • Travel Size Babyganics products- lotion, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray
  • Travel pack of tissues
  • Extra onesie (for blowouts)
  • Nursing cover
  • Mom’s Essentials (I use the diaper bag as a purse so I keep things like my wallet, lip balm, feminine hygiene, etc. in it)

2 – Clothing

I think I threw these items in my bag or my husbands bag, but you’ll want to make sure you have…

  • A couple onesies
  • The going-home outfit
  • Socks and Hat
  • A swaddle/muslin blanket if you want to use something other than the hospital receiving blankets
  • Warm blanket if it’s cold out for going home

3 – Car Seat

And, of course, make sure you have the infant car seat all ready to go in the car!

So, again, this is what I will be packing the second time around. I know there are a lot more things you can bring, and that is totally up to you, but you might be surprised how little you care in the end.

Why I Bow Hunt

I’m venturing a bit with this blog post. It’s that time of year… the chill in the air, the leaves on the ground, harvest time, giving thanks… and hunting season! I love fall for all the same reasons most people do, but most of my weekends, starting October 1st, are spent in a tree in the middle of the woods in southwest Iowa.

It’s about this time of the season, after over a month of hunting that I start to wonder, myself, why I’m even doing this. Weekend after weekend, I sit freezing my buns off, waiting… waiting… and getting nothing. This year, especially, has been tough since I’m over 6 months pregnant. So, honestly, I’m writing this blog to remind myself why I do this to myself every fall. But, maybe, for those of you that actually read this, you’ll understand and learn my reasoning as well.

How it all began…

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Growing up, hunting was not something I ever even thought about doing. I really knew very little about it… rifle hunting was fairly common where I lived, but bow hunting was definitely not something I had been exposed to.

That was, until I met my husband, Alex, 8 years ago while working at Scheels. He worked in the hunting and fishing department, and even though I had been working there for a year, ringing people’s hunting equipment up, I still had zero interest or knowledge of the sport.

But… you know how dating goes… you’re always trying to impress, right? And I like to think of myself as a person who’s always open to try new things. So, after a few months of dating, when he asked if I wanted to go turkey hunting with him, I figured, why not?

I don’t remember this experience very well, and neither does he, but I don’t think it was the best first impression of hunting. All I remember is sitting in little chairs under a tree for what felt like way too long and literally nothing happened. Like, so… this is hunting? I remember he felt pretty bad about it, but I didn’t try going turkey hunting again that spring.

However, when fall came around, and he asked me if I’d like to join him in a tree stand while he bow hunted for deer, I gave him another chance. I think I bought a couple super inexpensive pieces of camouflage clothing, including a youth size jacket, woke up with him at God-knows-what-time in the morning, and snuck behind him as he lead me to a tree stand in the middle of some timber.

Again, the memories are foggy, but I remember watching several does and a few small bucks come right underneath the stand. We were so close to them, and they had absolutely no idea we were sitting right above them. And when I joined him a second time in a different stand… it happened again. The second time, I got more of an idea of the challenges of bow hunting, since the does actually smelled us, stomped their feet, blew at us, and ran off.

These experiences he shared with me, along with some influential women bow hunters like Eva Shockey and Taylor Drury, inspired me to take more interest in the sport for myself. Not to mention, I was pretty excited to shoot a bow for the first time.

So, I purchased my first compound bow… a pink PSE Chaos, complete with pink accessories and pink arrows. It was a youth bow, nice and light weight, with a whopping 30 pound draw-weight. I was looking pretty-darn lethal.

Having hardly shot a weapon in my life (except a BB gun and a 22 rifle), shooting a bow and arrow gave me all of the thrills. I loved it. It didn’t take me long, and I really had the hang of it. Not to mention, going to the range to shoot with Alex was a fun activity to do together. I was able to perfect my shooting all summer long. Then, I added some more camo clothing to my collection and got my first pair of hunting boots. It was time for the real thing.

My first hunt…

My first hunt was September of 2013 in some timber near my childhood home. We had set up a tree stand just for me a couple weeks prior. You see… I was a Nebraska resident, Alex was an Iowa resident. I couldn’t hunt with him in Iowa unless I drew a tag and paid way too much for a license/tag. So, this is how awesome my future husband was… he got me all set up with a tree stand, woke up bright and early with me, and took the time to sit with me and teach me everything he knows. You guys… I’m not the easiest person to deal with in these situations… let’s just say, Alex is a saint.

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I will never forget my first chance at a buck. It happened so quickly (probably because I wasn’t paying attention) but this 6-point buck pops out at about 20 yards away from us. I was so caught off guard, I was so nervous, I was so excited. Alex whispered for me to slowly stand up and draw. I stood up… the buck was there… not moving… a perfect shot. “OMG… OMG…” I was freaking out!

I drew back…. I drew back…. ummm… still trying to draw back… I was freaking out so much, I straight up couldn’t pull my bow back. Alex was literally pulling my elbow back for me while I’m shaking and losing my mind. This whole time, the silly buck is still right there, like he was waiting for me to get ready.

I finally get drawn back and put my 20 yard pin on him, I shoot… and I miss. My first fail at hunting. People, I wish I could tell you that this was my only fail and that my next shot at a deer was perfect. But, that is not the case. This is now my 6th year of hunting (the year we lived in Minnesota, I didn’t get to hunt at all), and I have yet to shoot my first buck. I have, however, been successful at getting a late-season doe in my 3rd year of hunting but, that’s a long story, maybe for another blog.

What I’m trying to say is… even after 6 years without a buck, a slightly traumatic experience shooting a doe (again, long story), 5 separate misses, and way too many days of sitting and seeing zero deer… I keep doing it. Now, let me explain why and remind myself in the meantime.

Reasons why I bow hunt…

1 – The nature.

As much as I despise sitting in the freezing cold woods for hours at a time, I think a tree stand is actually one of my favorite places to be. You’re sitting 15 feet up in a tree completely incognito. I mean… some birds and squirrels will usually detect your presence, but you really are one with nature for the time being. I’ve watched turkeys strutting, quail scattering about, raccoons waddling (including some babies that melted my heart), coyotes sneaking, opossums being their gross selves, a badger wondering, squirrels fighting, woodpeckers doing their thing, owls hooting, fawns playing, does frolicking, and a some bucks cruising for some doe tail.

Just sitting there completely still and watching nature happen around you is an amazing thing. I have to remind myself of this when there isn’t a deer in sight and I’m bored to heck waiting.

2 – The anticipation.

And as I wait in my tree for a buck that I’m not even sure exists, I can’t help but just get excited about the idea of a monster showing up. Every squirrel that suddenly moves in the distance, every leaf that falls to the ground, every bird that shakes a branch… I freeze, hoping it’s a deer. Usually it’s not… and just when I let my guard down, that’s when a deer actually shows up (in my last case, I had just put a Nilla Wafer in my mouth).

Even if it’s not a shooter, the excitement when a deer is in your presence is so exhilarating. I sit completely still, hand on my bow, heart racing… I even start breathing funny, afraid they’ll hear me. Even when a doe is spooked by my scent, I can’t help but get excited. The surge of adrenaline that I get is all worth the wait in the end.

3 – The challenge.

Could I stay in my warm bed in the early weekend mornings? Could I partake in the same fall activities that you and your family might do? Could I just grab a shot gun in late November, go out to a field, and shoot a buck from 200 yards? Yep… I could do all of these things, but there is just something about the challenge and the sport of bow hunting.

There is waaaay more to it than just shooting a buck from a tree stand. And to be honest, I only have to do a fraction of the work it involves. You have to find the land to hunt on, you have to buy and set up tree stands, you have to purchase the equipment/gear (so very much), you have to practice your shooting, and on top of it all, you need a decent knowledge of what your doing out there. I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband and father-in-law that take care of a lot of this and devote their time and effort not only to their own hunt but to mine.

But those challenges that I am left with for myself, make this hobby more rewarding. The long waits, the cold temperatures, the not-close-enough encounters, and the missed shots are what is going to make my first buck one of the best things that will happen to me (and I only have hope that it eventually does).

4 – The eating.

Hunting is not just about the trophy. It’s also about harvesting your own source of food the way our ancestors had done it. I was so proud when we made the first meal with the meat from my first doe. I literally brought home the “bacon” for our family. And I absolutely love when Alex straight up provides us a freezer full of meat when he has success.

Not to mention, I think venison is delicious and we have so many great recipes! And after Alex brought home his elk meat, we might be extra spoiled… perhaps we should just elk hunt from now on.

5 – The conservation.

I have had 5 unfilled tags throughout my years of hunting. That’s about $300 in licenses/tags that seem like they went to waste. But nope… that’s $300 that goes to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to help with wild life conservation. Not to mention there’s the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, where about 11% of the hundreds of dollars that we’ve spent on gear goes to conservation as well. It feels good knowing that even when I fail, I’m still making a difference for wildlife.

So, there you have it! This is why I bow hunt. There is little success and reward, but sometimes just the adventure of it all is what it’s all about. As one of my favorite hunter’s, Steve Rinella, says, “a true hunter recognizes that experiences are the ultimate hunting trophies; he takes pride in walking the ancient and noble pathway that was laid down by his forebearers; and even when he returns from a hunt cold, wet, and empty-handed, he does so with a full heart.”

And this is absolutely true. Even though I’m done for this season (hunting while pregnant is not easy), and I was once again unsuccessful, I can’t wait to get back out there. The plan is a Western Nebraska hunt in 2020!

Gift Ideas – for Babies (or most Kids)

Similar to my list with gift ideas for moms, my ideas for the littles in your life are about being smarter with gifting. It’s about not just buying the first toy you see on the end cap. Think outside the box, and try to put yourself in the parent’s shoes. Does the child really need more legos? Try giving something different or simply ask the parents what they really need!

1 – Clothes

Photo by Pixabay on

Babies grow… like really fast. And they go through clothes like crazy. They also don’t really care what they get for gifts yet. So, why not help the parents out and get some clothes? But, be sure to ask them what the little one might need the most and the best size to get!

2 – Books

Photo by mentatdgt on

You can never go wrong with books for any age child. I mean, really, there’s not much more to say. Although, I will point out that the book in this picture, The Pout Pout Fish, is one of my family’s favorite, and I love to give it as a baby shower gift!

3 – Movies

Toy Story 4 (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital) - image 1 of 2

With all of the streaming services these days, movies aren’t quite as popular anymore. However, if a family is anything like us, we love the classic Disney and kids movies and they are hard to find online. Although… from what I’m hearing about Disney Plus, some of these problems might be solved!

Still, a good ol’ DVD/Blu-Ray is always fun for a kid to open. I do recommend making sure that it comes with a Digital Code, though. We download all of our digital copies onto an iPad for Lily to watch in the car.

4 – Memberships

Image result for omaha zoo logo

I mentioned this in my gift ideas for moms… a membership to a place like the zoo, children’s museum, activity center, etc. is a great gift that keeps on giving! We have a zoo membership, and it is so great to be able to go there whenever we want for as long (but usually short) as we want.

5 – Subscriptions

Hello Magazine Cover

Another one that keeps on giving! There are several subscription boxes and such that you can get for a little one. One that I’ve heard of is Kiwi Co, which are monthly educational boxes for all ages. There’s also the classic Highlights Magazines. They have little books for babies now… Lily’s great grandma subscribes her to them and she LOVES them!

6 – Experiences

Photo by V gtrei on

Give the gift of great memories – or if it’s a baby… just a fun time to spend together! Take them for a day out, even if it’s just the park and ice cream. Take lots of pictures to remember the fun times together! Weekend getaways, full-on trips… it’s all a great gift that’s a win for everyone.

6 – Ask the Parents

Photo by Burst on

Chances are, the parents have a good idea of the items/toys that the child would like. It’s always a good idea to ask first. The last thing you want to do is get the little tike more cars when he already has a big collection… or more clothes if they have a closet full.

And don’t be afraid to think practically. Babies, especially, need lots of gear. Things like strollers, high chairs, etc. can get pricey. And don’t be afraid to throw small things like sippy cups, bibs, pacifiers, socks and such in… because you really can’t have enough of those.

Hopefully this blog post gives you some great ideas for gifts as we approach the holidays. Remember, it’s not always the material things, and it’s definitely not always about the toys!

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Gift Ideas – For the Mom (or really anyone) on your list!

Holiday shopping is right around the corner, or if you’re one of those crazies, you’ve already started. I thought I’d write a few blogs with gift ideas for the different people on your list.

I’ll start with a list of great ideas for all of the moms in your life. Honestly, though, most of these gifts could be for anyone. The theme here… gift ideas that make you think outside of the box a bit.

1 – Mani/Pedi Gift Certificates

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If the women in your life are anything like me, they hate spending $80+ on something like their nails. But, almost all of us love it, and we appreciate being pampered from time to time.

So, either figure out which salon is their favorite and get a gift certificate from them, or go ahead and pick a really nice one somewhere nearby. Make sure the amount you give covers at least one service, so it’s worth it!

2 – Spa Gift Cards

Photo by Breakingpic on

Another way to pamper… a spa or massage gift card! One of my favorite gifts from my husband was a spa package that included a massage and a facial from a nice salon and spa in Omaha… Gloss Salon and Day Spa. This spa (along with others) is always running holiday specials too!

Really, a gift card to a woman’s favorite salon, spa, nail salon, massage spa, etc. is always a win, since it says “You deserve some you-time.”

3 – Subscriptions

Amazon Prime

Almost everyone these days has subscriptions for different services. There’s the ones with streaming: Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu… and the list goes on. Pay for a whole year or some of them even sell gift cards in various amounts.

There’s also subscription boxes and such. This list is also never-ending, but some examples are: Ipsy, Dollar Shave Club, Home Chef, FabFitFun, Birchbox, StitchFix, Wine of the Month, etc.

Subscriptions are like a gift that keeps on giving. If you buy them several months worth, they’ll think of you every time they use it or a new box arrives!

4 – Memberships

Costco US homepage

Another gift that keeps on giving! There are also many examples of different memberships you can purchase for a loved one. A Costco membership is an obvious win for literally anyone on your list. They sell gift cards that you can either use on merchandise at the store without having a membership or you can use it towards your membership fee.

But, there’s memberships to other places as well. Like a gym… although I don’t recommend this as a gift if the person doesn’t already workout… that might be too forward. But for example, if a mom/woman in your life loves to do yoga or barre classes at home, maybe see if she’d like a membership to a nice yoga/barre studio.

And on a more “mom” specific note there’s memberships to places like the zoo, children’s museum, etc. that’s more like a gift for the whole family!

5 – Gift Cards

Ribbon Box GiftCard - image 1 of 1

I know, I know… nobody likes to give gift cards. They’re not very personal. But, let me ask you, have you ever really been upset when you received a gift card to a place you like to shop? Probably not. So, don’t be afraid to give them, because it gives the person an excuse to shop for themselves. And if it’s a mom you’re buying for… she probably doesn’t do that enough.

If the special person you’re buying for is anything like me, they can find tons of stuff to spend money on at Target. But, if you want to make it a bit more personal, there’s places that might be more of a treat, like: Starbucks, Sephora, Ulta, The Container Store, Hobby Lobby… okay, I’m really just naming stores that I’d take a gift card to, but you get my point! Make it about HER buying things for HER.

6 – Events

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on

This is a good one for husbands… treat her to a night out! Maybe just a fancy dinner and a movie, or go above and beyond and get concert tickets. There’s tons of great experiences that you can give as a gift. It doesn’t have to be material.

And if this is for a mother, grandmother, or any woman really… there’s a lot of great places you can take her. Again, there’s concerts, shows, sporting events, comedy clubs, theaters, dinner+movie theaters, etc. Or think outside the box and take her on a little winery/brewery tour. Or maybe you have the budget to take her on a legit trip! Even if it’s just a gift card to a restaurant, it’s a great gift that gives her some time to have fun (hopefully away from her children for a night).

7 – Cleaning Services

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Who really likes to clean their house? No one I know! Give her a break from it all and find a cleaning service to come clean the whole house. Unless she already has a cleaning service, this is such a great gift. You can get a one-time cleaning, or go above and beyond and order her monthly cleanings! Just make sure it comes with the certain chore that she dreads the most (like cleaning the tubs for me).

8 – Don’t be Afraid to Ask or Think Outside the Box

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She might say “nothing,” or she might say a trip to Hawaii, but it never hurts to ask what she really wants. What I’m trying to get across is… don’t just go buy the first pretty necklace you see, or a pair of pajamas you saw at Victoria’s Secret. Most of us don’t need or want those things. If we do, hopefully we’ll hint at it.

Maybe, all she really wants is a whole day without anyone in the house to just binge watch her favorite show and eat/drink whatever she wants. Or send the kids away, get a bottle of wine (or 2), pick up her favorite take-out, grab her favorite dessert, pick the most cheesy chick-flick, and shut the blinds… And have a very merry Christmas!

I don’t think most women would argue with me on these. Again, the key is to think about more than just the typical gifts and think about experiences and things that will treat her.

And, if you have any other great gift ideas, leave them in the comments!

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Organization – My More Practical Way

In my recent blog post, How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home, I talked about everything having a “place” and that sometimes you have to create that place. There’s several ways you can do this. And if you happen to follow The Home Edit or just stroll through The Container Store, you’ll realize how incredibly expensive it can get to have a beautifully organized home.

Believe me, if I could do what The Home Edit does to my own house, I would, but I’d rather not spend a ridiculous amount of money on clear plastic containers. And to be honest, I think all of the color coding and excessive labeling is a little unnecessary.

So, I’m here to let you know how I organize and declutter in a more practical way.

First of all, let me tell you the main places to find some inexpensive organization tools…

  • Target – I had to say it. Yes, I’m a typical millennial mom who loves Target. They have some really great looking totes, baskets, etc., but they can be a bit more pricey than other places. My tip – try to wait for the sales. Sometimes they will run a 10% or more sale. And if you don’t already… get a Target Red Card – 5% off everything always.
  • Walmart – Good ol’ Wally World! Obviously, they have great prices. And the quality of their items isn’t bad. I’ve actually found some pretty cute cubes there. It’s also a good place to find kitchen containers and such.
  • Menards – This is definitely not the place to buy the decorative stuff, because the few nice looking things they have seem over-priced. But it’s a great place to get things like hooks and shelves.
  • Dollar Tree – I love getting my drawer dividers and cheap plastic baskets here! Everything is $1, so if it breaks, who cares!
  • T.J.Maxx/Homegoods – This is one of those where you don’t know what you’re going to get, but I always like to pop in and check what they have. It’s hit and miss, but I have found some good stuff for a good price.
  • Amazon – Of course, there’s always Amazon where you can find everything! Just be careful, because it’s not always the best deal.
  • The Container Store – It’s usually over-priced, but I have gotten some coupons that help, and sometimes they just have things you can’t find anywhere else.

So, those are the places you can shop to find your equipment to get your home more organized and give each item a “place.” Now, my home is far from perfect and I am no organization expert, but here are some ways that I have organized my own space. And please remember, that this all came with time, and I am constantly adding or redoing.

1 – Cubbies

I love me some cubby shelves. They are so versatile. The shelf in my picture came from Target. It’s one of their less expensive options, but they have lots to choose from. I bought this for our old living room several years ago. I used to keep a couple storage cubes with random stuff in them and the rest of it was photo albums and decor.

Now, it’s in Lily’s room with toys in the cubes. The cubes came from Walmart, they were on clearance after back-to-school season. They’re actually fuzzy, which is perfect for Lily since she loves all things fuzzy! Walmart has lots of other styles of storage cubes at a good price!

2 – Drawer Dividers

Image result for dollar tree small baskets

Nothing is worse than a drawer with a bunch of stuff floating around that you have to dig through. The very obvious place to use a drawer divider is your silverware drawer. Start by getting a silverware tray like this one…

madesmart Classic Large Silverware Tray - White | CLASSIC COLLECTION | 6-Compartments |  Soft-grip Lining and Non-slip Feet |BPA-Free

They are pretty inexpensive almost everywhere. This one from Amazon is only $8.00. Then, if you have more room on the sides of your drawer… get some of these longer baskets to keep extra utensils in.

Image result for Long Slotted Multi-Purpose Plastic Baskets dollar tree

I put extra knives, serving utensils, and baby silverware in these. If you get them from Dollar Tree, they come in a pack of 3 for $1. They’re not the best quality, but they work perfectly for just sitting in a drawer.

I also use these same baskets, plus the rectangular ones they sell in places like bathroom drawers, nursery drawers, and junk drawers. The long ones work great for tooth brushes and pens!

I have also found some better quality drawer organizers at T.J. Maxx and Walmart.

3 – Decorative Containers

Aseana Small Tapered Bin Natural 4.75"x8" Khaki - Threshold™ - image 1 of 1

Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in your drawers and cabinets for all of your stuff. You can create places for your things in ways that fit in with your home decor. You might have to pay a bit more for pretty baskets, but you can usually find some good deals at places like Target, Walmart, and T.J.Maxx/Homegoods.

In my living room, I have some built-in shelves with a couple of tin buckets, a wooden box, a wicker basket, and some pottery pieces. Nobody would even know that I keep extension cords in one of the buckets, charging cords in another bucket, loose change in the pottery pieces, and various junk in the basket and box.

You can do this anywhere in your house and it doesn’t have to be just nice looking baskets. There’s a ton of ways to organize in a decorative way… you can always use some good ol’ Pinterest inspiration!

4 – Toy Storage

Speaking of decorative storage… you definitely do not have to get super cutesy kid-like toy boxes for places like your living room. I purchased this storage ottoman from Amazon when Lily’s toys started to venture further than her bedroom. It’s a great way to hide her toys!

We also have various nice looking totes/baskets for her toys that can be easily carried from room to room. It keeps her toys contained and makes it easier for cleanup. There’s lots of great ways to hide toys in a way that doesn’t scream, “We have kids!” when people come to visit.

5 – Hooks

Franklin Brass FBKEYT7-BSE-R Key Rail with 7 Hooks, 14" Rack, Black & Satin Nickel

Hooks are a super easy way to minimize clutter without breaking the budget. You can put hooks almost everywhere, and a single hook in a tight space can go a long way.

A key rail like this one by the door is a perfect place to keep keys so they can never get lost. We also have a rail of hooks in our garage for dog leashes and jackets. We have hooks on the backs of doors and in closets for hanging towels, bags, jackets, robes, etc. We even put a couple hooks in the laundry room for hanging clothes that can’t go in the dryer.

Then there’s hooks for various equipment. We have a garden tool holder like this one…

Berry Ave Broom Holder and Garden Tool Organizer Rake or Mop Handles Up to 1.25-Inches, Small, Black

It’s perfect for holding all of the outdoor tools in our garage. Then, we have hooks like these…

Everbilt 8-3/4 in Zinc-Plated Steel Wall Mount Utility Brackets (2-Pack) 20lbs

These are also great for the garage to hold hoses, strollers, and other yard equipment. Along with these, we use simple nails and screws to hold lighter items up off the ground. All of these, plus some shelves has kept our garage organized and clutter-free.

6 – Shelves

Plano® 34-1/4" W x 56-1/4" H x 14-1/4" D 4-Shelf Plastic Shelving Unit

Shelving is great for storage… everyone knows that. The obvious place for storage shelves like the ones above is a storage room or garage. These particular ones are great if you don’t want to spend too much, plus they simply snap together. Menards is always a good place for inexpensive storage solutions.

Along with a whole shelving unit, you can also get a simple shelf board like this…

Dakota™ 3/4" x 11-3/4" W x 4' L Ponderosa Prefinished Square Edge Shelf

Which come in all different sizes and colors at Menards. Then, pick some brackets like these…

John Sterling™ 8" Black Scroll Decorative Shelf Bracket

These shelves are great because they’re cheap, easy to install, customizable, and look pretty good! We’ve used them in the office, bedroom, and laundry room. Add a basket or something to store smaller items in. It’s such an easy way to get things up and decluttered.

7 – Plastic Drawers

Plastic drawers like these are great for all sorts of things and they can go anywhere. They don’t look the best, so I usually try to hide them within closets/cabinets, but it’s a fairly inexpensive way to organize things in a convenient way.

We use a smaller one to organize medicines and such. Then, I used a smaller one to keep all of my nursing/other baby equipment in when Lily was a newborn. I even have a really small one for some of my cosmetics.

We have some larger plastic drawers in our closet for seasonal clothing. We also have a couple medium sized ones for tools, etc. in our garage and storage room.

Some Other Organizing Tips…

  • Reuse the bags that sheets, blankets, etc. come in to store your bedding and keep everything fresh.
  • Then use bins/baskets (I use these from Target) to separate and organize items in your linen closet/cabinets.
  • Use wall mounted baskets like these from Target in smaller spaces like bathrooms, pantries, and laundry rooms to store small items that you don’t have room for.
  • Get an awesome spice rack like this one.. we love ours!
  • Fold clothing/other items smaller or roll them then put them in your drawers/shelves in a way that you can better see them all. (This is something I learned from Marie Kondo, although I don’t fold things exactly like her.)
  • Hangers can be used for more than just clothes… use them to hang up bags, scarves, belts, ties, etc. in your closets.
  • Use fishing tackle boxes like these to store smaller items. We use one for all the miscellaneous cords we have.

Once again, I’m definitely not the queen of organization and my house is nowhere near most of the super tidy homes you see on Pinterest and such. But, I like to keep everything relatively tidy and I hope this more practical approach can assist you in making your home slightly more organized without going crazy and buying every expensive container and color coding everything.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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Easy “Sushi” Bowls

Here’s another one of our favorite dishes in our house! It all started when I had the Spicy Tuna Bowl at Bonefish Grill. I’m not a huge fan of eating just fish by itself, but I love sushi, so I thought this was a great way to eat fish without having to actually make a sushi roll.

Bonefish Grill uses rare seared tuna, so when we first made this dish, we used ahi tuna steaks. We just seared them for about a minute on each side with soy sauce and sesame seeds.

But, the great thing about this dish, is you can use any fish you’d like. Lately, since I’m pregnant and can’t have tuna, we’ve been using salmon. I am not a fan of salmon usually, but I know that it’s really good for me, so this is a perfect way to get my omega-3’s!

Here’s how we make our salmon for the bowls…

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put Salmon on a baking sheet.
  • Cover salmon with a layer of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, & sesame seeds.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until flakey.

This is just one way we like to prepare the salmon, but you can cook it however you like. In the past, we’ve even simply spread an asian sauce on it and baked it.

So, once you have your fish ready to eat, you can make your bowl.

There’s really no specific measurements and ingredients to these. You can make them however you want. However, this is what we use…

And that’s it! Just put as much of each ingredient in your bowl as you want and eat up. So delicious and not too bad for you either!

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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12 Items to Help you Get through Pregnancy

As I pass the halfway mark of my second pregnancy, I’m grateful to have all of my experience from my first. And luckily, the things I had to purchase the first time are still good for this time around. So, I decided to write a blog with a list of the items that have helped me get through both pregnancies.

1 – “Yeah BABY!” Book

I talk about this book a lot. For real, though, if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, this is such a great book. It’s written by fitness expert, Jillian Michaels… who has never been pregnant herself but she was beside her wife while she was pregnant and decided to write a book about it. She gathered all of the top experts in each subject that she writes about.

It’s three years old now, but I feel like the research all still seems very relevant. It discusses diet, exercise, and just general pregnancy information for each trimester. I read it front to back when I first got pregnant with Lily and now I use it for the workouts, which I love!

2 – Pregnancy Apps

Image result for babycenter app

With my first pregnancy, I had several pregnancy apps on my phone to keep track of baby’s development. It’s pretty fun to see how big baby is at each week. Not to mention, all of the apps give great information about what mama’s body is going through as well. Here are some of the apps that you can get…

3 – Maternity Clothes

This is an obvious item for pregnancy. But if I have to give some advice… get the basics and add accessories and such to change them up. Motherhood Maternity has a ton of options for pregnant women and if you use coupons and look for sales, the prices are reasonable.

They have these “BumpStart” sets where they sell two basic items together. I bought a long-sleeve shirt set and a leggings one. Then I bought a few pairs of jeans. After that, I added a couple more pieces for dressier occasions. I really only bought about 10 pieces total. After that, I had some larger tops that still fit throughout.

I’m also super lucky that my second pregnancy is only 2 months different from my first, so I have all of the right clothing for the seasons!

4 – Larger Bras

Full Coverage Maternity And Nursing Bra, Black

Unfortunately, things other than your belly grow during pregnancy. You might find yourself not fitting in your regular bras. The best recommendation I got during my first pregnancy was to buy nursing bras in your new size. Then you’re not buying new bras for pregnancy and then new bras for nursing.

Again, I went to Motherhood Maternity where they have a great selection of nursing bras. I also had the associate there measure me for my new size. They worked great for pregnancy and nursing. One more tip… underwires can get really uncomfortable during pregnancy, so try to stick to those without.

5 – Good Shoes

Jade Oil

If you know me, you know I used to sell shoes, and you know that I preach about wearing good quality shoes. When you’re pregnant, you gain weight… that’s just what happens. That extra weight can take a toll on your feet. They just aren’t used to it, and it can actually start to flatten your arch, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Which is the reason why some women’s shoe size goes up after pregnancy.

I know that slip-ons and flip flops are really comfy, especially when your feet are swollen. But it’s so important to get some arch support for those puppies. You don’t necessarily have to wear running shoes all of the time, but you should invest in a good arch-supportive pair.

Yes, they can be a bit pricier than most shoes, but it’s so worth it. If anything, at least, get a pair of good arch support inserts for your current pair of shoes. I wore both… supportive shoes and shoes that weren’t as good with an insert.

There’s lots of great brands that have good support. And, of course, I have to say it… go see my friends at Scheels and they can help you find the right pair for you. But here are some of my favorite brands that will give you what you need…

  • Vionic – I have flip flops and slippers in the brand. Yes… I even wear slippers with arch support.
  • Birkenstock – These are not only good for your feet, but in style!
  • Dansko – These aren’t just for nurses anymore… they have a bunch of cute styles now.

The first three brands – basically every style within the brand has support. The other brands I mention, you’ll want to be cautious because each shoe doesn’t always have arch support.

6 – Socks with Compression

Women's Stance Uncommon Run Tab  Socks

Let me just continue my rant about footwear… throughout my whole first pregnancy I always wore socks with compression along with supportive shoes. I did not go up in shoe size even a little bit. All of my shoes still fit.

So… you’ll also want to make sure you have socks with compression. I’m not saying you need to get a knee-high compression sock (unless you want the extra help with swelling and you’re on your feet a lot). No, just go get some good socks that have a compression band around the arch. Here are some of my favorites..

So, again, if you don’t want to up in shoe size and if you want your feet to feel good during pregnancy… go invest in a good pair of supportive shoes and some socks with compression. Go to Scheels or your nearest shoe store where they know their stuff.

7 – Snoogle Pillow

Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity/Pregnancy Total Body Pillow, Ivory

In the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I broke down and bought one of these. It definitely helped on some restless nights, but I wouldn’t say that it was 100% necessary. I still haven’t had to get it out yet for my second pregnancy… but I’m only halfway through.

However, if you have any issues with your hips, back, knees… I definitely recommend this. It’s also very helpful in keeping you on your side if you’re anything like me and keep rolling to your back. (If you don’t already know… they recommend not sleeping on your back during pregnancy).

8 – Exercise Ball

GoFit Balance and Stability Ball - 55cm, 65cm, 75cm

If you’re doing workouts at home, you should already have one of these, because they are great for all sorts of exercises. But, if not, I highly recommend using one in your 3rd trimester. As your belly gets bigger and it seems like everything hurts, sitting on one of these, for some reason, is very relieving.

During the last month or so of my first pregnancy, I was constantly getting lightning crotch (see the link if you don’t know what it is) and sitting on a stability ball, like this one would help a bit. Not to mention, it’s good for your body. It helps strengthen and open up your lower back and hips. They say it’s great for getting ready for labor, so why not?

9 – Prenatal Yoga/Workout Videos

So, as you already know, I love the workouts in my Yeah Baby! book. However, if you’ve read my blog, Exercise (My In-the-Middle Approach), you know that I like to change up my workouts. I love doing yoga and barre videos.

There are a ton of great videos on YouTube, but I personally love Fit by Larie. She has several different workouts including prenatal and regular. I haven’t found one that I didn’t like! I highly recommend giving one of them a try.

10 – Belly Band

You can definitely hold off on getting one of these until the third trimester. But, let me tell you… a belly band like this Gabrialla one sure does help if you have to be on your feet for a while and your belly is ginormous. I actually didn’t use mine a ton, but when I did, I was grateful I had it.

I used mine for walking and sometimes for working out. There were also a couple occasions when we were doing some extra walking, like shopping or something, when I wore it as well.

Regardless, I was afraid that it might not be worth $38, but I’m glad I spent it for some extra support in times of need.

11 – Stainless Steal Tumbler

Rambler 30 oz Tumbler

Okay, so this isn’t like a do or die item, but it is a pregnancy life saver, especially in the summer. When you’re pregnant, you need to drink lots of water. And your body tells you this (for me, constantly), and you feel the need to sip water all day long.

My 30 oz Yeti Rambler Tumbler is my best friend. It’s really no lie that it keeps ice for days. I fill it up with ice water and take it with me everywhere and my water stays cold, even if it sits in a 100 degree car. Of course, a ton of brands make similar tumblers now, so you don’t have to get a Yeti. Just make sure it’s stainless steal with a double wall vacuum insulation.

12 – Sleep

Photo by Pixabay on

If you’re already pregnant, you’ve probably already heard someone say to “sleep while you can.” But, for real… pregnant women need extra sleep, and you will feel this especially in the first trimester. And, yes, you will get less sleep when that baby comes, so enjoy your rest while it lasts.

Take naps when you can. Sleep in when you can. And if you want to go to bed at 8:00 PM on Friday, don’t let anyone give you hard time!

So, there you have it! These are the 12 items that have helped me get through my first pregnancy and will continue to help me get through my second. I hope they are just as helpful for you!

And if you have been pregnant and don’t see an item that you thought was a necessity while pregnant, let me know!

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How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home

Now, I am definitely no Marie Kondo, and I’m not even close to the same level as The Home Edit. But, I do take inspiration from them, and I would consider myself to be a fairly tidy person. I believe everything has it’s place, I hate clutter, and I love organization.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy plastic containers for every single ingredient, snack, hair product, and art supply. Believe me, if I could, I would. And if that’s the level of organization your looking for, this isn’t the blog post for you.

No, I consider my home to just be “relatively tidy.” (Remember… I’m the In-the-Middle Mom!) As in, there’s very little clutter, cupboards/drawers are fairly organized, and the house is usually pretty clean. So, if you need a little guidance on how to keep your home at my level of tidy… then please do read!

1 – Everything Needs a Place

This one probably seems pretty obvious, but I believe it is the single most important step to keeping your house tidy. If something doesn’t have a place… it becomes clutter. And you might think all of the items in your home do have a place. But, make sure you think about how specific that place is.

Saying a spatula goes in the kitchen doesn’t really work. Okay, so the spatula goes in a drawer. Which specific drawer? And is it with all of the other spatulas/utensils? Having a very specific place for each item in your home not only helps you find it every time, but keeps it from becoming clutter on the counters, floors, beds, etc.

**NOTE: Being organized and specific about where things go is important, but there’s also nothing wrong with a “junk drawer.” I have a few different junk spots throughout my house. It’s for those miscellaneous items that you need relatively often. Just make sure you keep the “junk” in the same “junk spot” each time you put them away.

2 – Creating More Specific Places for Items

Sometimes the spaces within your home aren’t really meant for storing your items well. This is when you do have to invest in some products to help you better organize and keep things uncluttered. I’ll write a more detailed blog about ways to organize without breaking the budget in the future.

Just for an idea… try to use totes, baskets, shelves, drawer dividers, hooks, cubes, and other containers around your home to create those places for your items. And there’s no need to spend hundreds at The Container Store. Most of my organization products come from Target, Wal-mart, and dollar stores.

3 – Have a Schedule

Nobody likes cleaning or doing house work, but you have to do it to maintain a tidy home. The best thing to do is create a schedule for everyday, every week, every month, every year. I’ll admit that this isn’t my strong point either. But I do try to stick to the same day-to-day chores and a weekly schedule.

I’ll work on another blog post with my particular cleaning schedule. However, everyones schedule is going to be different, so you have to cater it around your own life. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have the luxury of getting things done throughout the day. You may have to plan things for your mornings or nights or weekends. The key is to stick to it so you don’t get behind.

4 – Clean Up as You Go

I know, I know… this one is no fun. But, this is the key to keeping my house tidy. My goal is to leave a room the way I would want to reenter it. Nobody wants to walk into their bedroom and see an unmade bed and clothes on the floor. And I really hate seeing dirty dishes as I walk into the kitchen.

So, I try (and sometimes fail) to clean up immediately. It may not be perfect… I rarely actually make our bed with the sham pillows and all. Sometimes the dishwasher is full and I have to leave dishes in the sink (because I hate hand washing). And there’s times when I’m in a hurry and can’t get the laundry folded.

However, I do my best to clean up everything right after we eat. I flip up the covers right away in the morning. I put all of my makeup/hair products back in the cabinet when I’m done. And I set a good example by having Lily pick up her toys before her bath at night.

5 – Divide and Conquer

Since I’m home during the day, it’s easy for me to take care of most of the housework. But, there are a couple of “chores” I’ve assigned to my husband. And if you live in a household where everyone is busy, it’s definitely necessary to split responsibilities.

So, it may not be easy, and it may cause an argument, but it’s so important to discuss who does what when it comes to taking care of your home. Once you have a plan set in place, it should make it all much easier for the whole family. And don’t be afraid to make to-do lists or chore charts. Involve everyone that is capable of helping.

6 – Involve your Kids at a Young Age

Since the day Lily was born, she’s been by my side as I do housework. And as she’s gotten older, I’ve tried to involve her as much as possible. I don’t remember the last time I’ve folded laundry without her. And I actually wait until she can help me unload the dishwasher because she loves to do it so much!

And ever since she’s been old enough, I’ve had her help me pick up her toys. We have several baskets, boxes, and bins for toys. I’m never picky about where certain toys actually go, just as long as she puts them into a container. The other day (at 17 months old) she surprised me and actually put her blocks away without me telling her. <Insert “mind blown” emoji here.>

It does take some patience, because believe me, laundry will get unfolded and dishes will be taken out one spoon at a time and distractions will happen as toys are picked up. But, I love that I’m teaching her the importance of being tidy, and I hope that it will stick with her.

I personally believe that if you try these 6 tips, you’ll have a less cluttered, more tidy home. Not to mention, you’ll set the bar for your family. I grew up in a tidy home and now I have a tidy home because my mom taught me the importance of it. I’ve already noticed how my husband has been influenced by my habits, and I definitely see how my daughter is beginning to follow in my footsteps.

And if any of these tips feel like a reach for you, just keep trying and eventually, hopefully, they’ll become habits for you too. I remember the days when my laundry sat for a week without getting folded and my dishes sat in the sink for 3 days. Trust me, you can change your ways and it’ll become second nature to you.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

Like any of the products I mentioned? Please purchase them via the links provided.

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Your support is very appreciated!