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Bonjour!  I'm Christen!  Been all over the U.S., and just moved from Utah down to Texas for my husband's new job!  After having been in the Navy, I am now a student of Anthropology, a stay at home mom to my new baby, a half arsed writer, belly dance instructor/student and performer, and just general, all around "Jack of all trades, master of nothing." 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lactation Smoothie Re-Blog

So my Lactation Smoothie recipe has been so popular on Pinterest, that I am re-blogging it here!

If you have any kind of trouble with milk supply like I do this smoothie is a great alternative to the lactation cookies.  While cookies are absolutely amazing, after awhile you can get cookie-d out, if you know what I mean!


Lactation Smoothie Recipe

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moving Made Easier Series: Paperwork

In light of our extremely fast move coming up,  I had done a simple post on how I made moves simpler and less stressful.  Then, after doing the basics of packing for the actual move realized there was a plethora of ways to make the entire process easier!  So I bring to you the Moving Made Easier Series!

For topic today: Paperwork

So much goes into moving that it's easy to overlook things like forwarding your mail so you don't miss final bills, or letting allb necessary establishments know you are changing residents so that all contact information is current and up to date. Once again,  I bring you "the list".  Making a list of each entity that needs to have your address change on file will help avoid hassle and headaches when you don't receive bills or invoices, or important information concerning insurance. Also, your list will help you remember who to cancel services with, and what needs to be set up when  you move to your new place. Below is a nice little gem I pinned to my Grown Up Stuff board on Pinterest from the housemix blog.  It's got pretty much every single service, place of business and notification that you will need to change your address with, making it a perfect moving list. You can even download and print it out, how easy is that!  And as I stated in my original Moving Made Easier blog, making small to-do lists for each day will help you get everything done in a timely manner and keep you from getting completely overwhelmed which can lead to forgetting something.  

So don't forget to change all your accounts and services!  Happy Moving!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Making Moving Easier

It's countdown time!  Thankfully we have two weeks to get the house packed and ready to go, compared to the 6 days I thought we had....whew!  Still, with a baby who is now crawling it's a ton to do.  Luckily, both hubs and I spent 6 years in the Navy and did plenty of packing and moving in that time, so we've kind of got it down to a science and an art.

Moving doesn't have to be completely overwhelming, and if you happen to be ADD like I am, it is absolutely crucial to stay organized and on top of things.  Lists, lists, and more lists will be your friend.  You can have just one big one, or have it broken down into many subcategories.  Whatever floats your boat.

Some simple steps to making moving easier:

Make a 'To Do' list for each day.  About a month out, start cleaning out one closet, one drawer, or one cabinet each day.  This will rapidly dwindle the amount you need to do, and make the last packing and cleaning much more bearable.  In a typical day, my to do list will look something like this: 

To Do:
Fold laundry
mop kitchen
Pack baby B's extra clothes
Pack bookshelf

That simple.  Make your way through the house with the small to-do lists each day.

Break Down Packing by Room.  Instead of freaking out and getting distracted by things throughout the whole house (guilty!) take each step, room by room.  This will make everything seem much more manageable, and you won't end up feeling like you have to pack the whole house RIGHT NOW!  

Make Lists Your Friend, Your BFF, and Your Lover.   Some people feel like lists are overrated.  I disagree. Make a list of what needs to be packed in each room and cross it off as you go so you have a correct and up to date inventory.  Then, make a list of what needs to be cleaned in each room, crossing off as you go.  So simple, and crossing things off really gives a sense of accomplishing things, instead of feeling like you are forgetting something or multiple somethings.  If you're really organized, keep these lists in a binder or notebook for reference.

Use the 'Pack, Trash, and Donate' Method.  While packing and sorting, clearing out what isn't necessary will ultimately make your move so much easier, and not leave you trying to find space for useless and miscellaneous items in your new space.  For instance, even though we just bought our mower for the rental house less than a year ago, we are selling all of our yard maintenance equipment since we decided to move into an apartment for a year to get our bearings in our new city and save to buy a house or farm.  A bummer yes, but what would be the point in having to store all that lawn care equipment, and having no use for it?  So, decide what you can't live without, trash or recycle what you no longer need, donate things that can still be used, or have a garage sale to downsize while bringing in a little extra cash which always comes in handy for a move. 

Hire in Professionals to Do the Nitty Gritty.  If you're on a short timeframe like we are, or have stupid strict regulations from a rental company like we have, go ahead and hire in a professional to clean the carpets, and to do the deep cleaning in the house.  Yes, it can be costly, but it will save you a major headache and even more money in the long run.  Rental companies (at least the ones I've dealt with) are notorious for deciding that the cleaning job you did was not good enough and will hire someone to come "clean" after you, and then send you the bill and deduct it from your deposit.  Beat the rental company to their own game.  Get a clean guarantee and receipt of service from each provider and hand deliver it to the rental agency when you turn in the keys, and make sure to keep a copy for your records as well just in case the agency "loses" their copy.

Go to Grocery Stores For Boxes.  We are very fortunate that both of Dustin's parents work at Costco, so we have tons of boxes at our desposal.  However, if you don't have Costco at your service, go to your local grocery store or drug store and see if they have any extra boxes lying around that they plan on recycling anyway.  Most shipments come in on Tuesdays, so go on a tuesday or Wednesday to see about scoring some free boxes for your move.  Heck, even check your local craigslist or FB Buy/Sell/Trade page to see if someone has just moved and needs to get rid of their boxes.  Military are pros at this.  One move I did, I was using boxes that had been used in 3 different moves already.  We take care of them, then hand them off to the next person in need.

On the Other Hand, Invest in Furniture Covers.   Getting moving boxes for free is amazing.  However, you need to protect your big furniture and large electronics and appliances.  Go ahead and invest in proper covers like these.  What's the point in managing to do a move for cheap if you're going to end up with ruined furniture you will have to replace?  That's just a waste of money.  Bite the bullet if you can, and make your things last!

Most of all, just relax and take things as they come.  Moving is always stressful, but stressing yourself out about it will make everything 1000 times harder.  Don't feel you have to keep packing every minute of every day.  Right now I'm watching Portlandia and eating a Gluten Free Brownie. Because, dammit, I can.  Because tomorrow and Sunday, the lists will be happening.

Happy Moving!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I Let My Baby Get Dirty

There's a lot that can make you sick these days: environmental pollutants, germs mutating into stronger genes that take even stronger doses of medicine to get rid of, allergens that seem to be becoming more serious with each generation....it's enough to make your head swim.  Many people these days overcompensate for the germs and pollutants by assuming that if you are absolutely germ-free and full of medicine then nothing will be able to hurt you. Makes sense right?  Well, not entirely. While western medicine definitely has its place, the human body was designed to fight off illness and have an immune system in place that would adapt as needed.  No, we are not superhuman and are impervious to any and all disease or infection, but to assume that our bodies are so frail that we must live in a bubble is just a waste of time and energy.

I'm assuming you are all educated people, but for those who live under a rock or in their beautiful plastic bubble, here's the Barney style of it:  For the immune system to properly function and protect a body, it must be introduced to a variety of germs, allergens and pollutants.  No, do not take your kid to the nuclear plant.  No, do not keep them around someone with the bubonic plague.  However, the mild germs that are in dirt, plants, and on household animals are a great way to build up the immune system and allow it to start maturing, so that it can handle stronger germs and allergens, viruses and such.

  Allowing your baby to play with the animals and get their hands and feet dirty is a great way to do this.  Our dog loves to lick baby B's face, although it annoys him so we try to limit it. The cat loves to lick his head for some reason.  And we allow it.  We've let B play in the grass and feel the leaves on plants and trees, literally since his 5th day earthside.  Not only is it sensory and engaging his brain, but it's helping to make him healthy since his immune system can start working.

Now, before anyone gets their panties in a twist, we do not leave our kid dirty and grimy.  He gets a bath every single night.  We wipe his face and hands after he plays or eats.  And although we do not blindly follow the CDC when it comes to vaccinations, we have chosen what we feel to be the most important ones.  And he has only had one cold thus far, and one ear infection which was brought about by his reflux.  Obviously he's going to get sick every now and then, and it's always possible that he will end up with a disease, God forbid.  But by allowing him to play and get dirty, this incredibly important exposure to his environment will help build up his natural defenses, and hopefully help minimize future illnesses.  The germs are good.

Embrace the good germs, people.  Embrace!

Brooke is not currently amused by baby B sitting on her to catch her tail!

Dry-Rubbed Oven Ribs

*Disclaimer*- I am not a huge meat eater, so almost all meat recipes I concoct have to go off the approval or thumbs down from the hubs. I trust his opinion though since he can be a bit of a food snob, and we are nothing if not brutally honest with each other sometimes lol!

That said, Dustin is a huge meat and veggies guy. Like, I don't think we've had pasta or other grain besides the occasional rice in this house in a long time. We get our beef in bulk from a family farm here in Utah, called the Blue Tree Cattle Company.  While the initial investment is a bit, the actual price per pound turns out to be quite a bit cheaper than stocking up at the local supermarket, and you get quite a variety of cuts and ground beef.  

We had a large rack of ribs that I had no idea what to do with since we haven't had the time nor the weather to smoke those bad boys.  So I started doing what I always do: go to Pinterest.  I found an amazing looking crockpot recipe here, but after making the dry rub, realized I was missing about 3 of the essential ingredients. Who doesn't have ketchup in their fridge or pantry? Us, apparently.  So, I decided to just add a couple things to the dry rub to make it more Dustin friendly (spicy), and throw them in the oven.

I get a text from him at work that night...."The ribs are amazing. M really liked the one I gave him, also."  

Well okay then.  I can make some damn good ribs, check that one off the list.

Dry-Rubbed Oven Ribs

3 Tbs sea salt
3 Tbs garlic (or 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic)
1 Tbs paparika
1 Tbs thyme
1 Tbs rosemary
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs sage
1 Tbs black pepper
*optional* cayenne pepper for a little spice
dash of olive oil

Simply mix all ingredients together to create a slightly moist and crumbly rub, then lather those ribs up!  Don't be afraid that you have too much, the more flavor, the better.  

Double wrap the ribs in foil and stick them on a cookie sheet in the oven at about 265 degrees.  Let go for about 3 1/2- 4 hours until tender.  That is literally all there is to it.  Easy day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Edible, All Natural Toothpaste

Here in the household, we are mostly very aware of what we put in our bodies. Yes, we do have times we go on processed, junk food binges, but overall we try to go as natural as possible.  This includes making our own laundry detergent, using natural ingredients in my hair like coconut oil, and baking soda on our teeth.  So I was super excited to find an all natural toothpaste.  After reading reports how certain toothpaste companies were using plastic beads as scrubbers in their paste (um, EW), and that many of the ingredients are starting to be found to have side effects on our health (uh, NO THANK YOU), I was quite ready to find some alternatives!

First, I tried Toms natural toothpaste.  The taste was pretty good, you could tell it was actual peppermint oil, and not in any way synthetic.  I did find that I had to do some extra scrubbing to get the same feeling of "clean" that I got with the standard toothpaste. After thinking about it though, that feeling of clean is probably tantamount to scrubbing your face raw; feels clean, but is actually damaging with the excessive scrubbing.  My husband complained that his teeth felt fuzzy still, and that his breath didn't stay very fresh.  

Next, I found a local Utah company, Redmond, with a product called Earthpaste.  They had an option of peppermint or lemon. The lemon sounded interesting, so that's the one I 
walked away with.  It was a bit of a surprise when I found myself with a toothbrush full of brown, mud looking, paste.  Read the tube: No whitening or foaming agents. Well, that explains a lot.  Ok, let's give it a try.  It was a bit weird not having the paste foam up in your mouth right away, making you feel like you need to put more and more on your brush at first.  But, after getting used to it, you realize the paste is working, just have to put a little more elbow grease into the brushing than you might normally.  The taste was quite pleasant, tasting exactly like eating some lemon head candies, and made me feel like I should go brush my teeth because of the candy.  Then realizing that you didn't have candy, it was just the toothpaste. Win??? I still feel the need to use baking soda after just to have that "scrubbed raw" feeling in my mouth that I'm used to, but personally I like the Earthpaste, even though you spit brown liquid out of your mouth instead of white foam.  The taste is pleasant, I can pronounce and know what each of the 5 ingredients are, and with a little extra scrubbing, don't have that icky, fuzzy feeling left on my teeth. 

And as always, when in doubt, pull out the box of baking soda, mix with some coconut oil,and scrub away! 

So there is no need to put a bunch of chemicals in your mouth a few times a day to keep a healthy, clean mouth.  There are so many chemicals and pollutants in the rest of our daily lives, taking a couple easy steps to elliminate some of that is as easy as switching toothpaste.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One Tired Mama

It is now 6:44 am.  I have been up roughly since 2:30 am.  Finally was able to fall asleep around midnight.  So if you did your math correctly  (and double check mine through the sleep deprived haze) that is about 2.5 hours I'm running on, here. Guess how long this had been going on for.  Go ahead, really, guess.  I honestly couldn't tell you if you were right or wrong, but I know it's been at least two weeks, and probably longer.  That 3-4 hours I used to get seem so leisurely and luxurious now!

Although a few months ago, this perfectly captures how I look and feel 99% of the time

After going through practically every online source everywhere, and doing every suggestion under the sun, I'm stuck.  Set a bedtime, have a wake up time, extend baps, shorten naps, get fresh air and sunshine, keep them in dark for naps, no dark for naps, nurse to sleep, don't nurse to sleep, rock, cuddle, sing, shush, lullaby,  cereal, solids, vitamin d, rice bags, sleeping in crib, co-sleeping, lavender baths, calming lotion, lavender massage at night.... I'm pulling my hair out. Actually, baby B is doing that for me too, he's got wicked strong grip. Sometimes he sleeps, most times he doesn't. Sigh. And then wakes up screaming and cranky. Like right now.  Literally right now.


Ok, I'm back. 

So anyway, as stated above, I've tried literally everything I can think of minus crying it out.  That is my limit, and my line in the sand. I can leave for about 10 minutes, max. I don't condemn anyone who practices CIO, it's just not for me.  I tried once, and Baby B cried for 45 minutes, even with me checking on and soothing him every 10-15 minutes.  Does not work for me and kiddo.  So, I'm checking into a few different sleep books, as well as potentially emailing a sleep professional, and maybe even getting kiddo checked for sleep apnea to see if that may be a culprit, since hubs as it as well.

The books I'll be looking into are:

Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber ( I understand for this one, you're probably going "uhhhhhhh you said you DON'T like the CIO approach". You're right, I don't.  But I also believe in looking at all material on hand, and seeing what parts of it you can take away to fit your needs.  The guy's a specialist.  There's gotta be something in there I agree with)

On top of that, I've subscribed to the pages of "The Sleep Lady", as well as various sleep professionals.  I'm seriously contemplating paying some money to see what they can do.  I'll report back on the books to see what I can share!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Slice of Humble Pie

What's your favorite state?  Imagine living there, then having it ripped away.  Now, imagine your least favorite state.  Now imagine having to move there.  A little on the FML side, yes? Welcome to my world.  I will leave out which state it is, because people always tend to get butthurt about everything these days.  But my hubs has been recruited for an amazing job, with a ton of upward mobility, and I'm assuming a salary that won't leave us cringing and having minor panic attacks at the end of the month.  However, it's been made clear to me through meditation that I need to humble myself and just go with the flow this year.  And that means moving to God awful ________.  They have decent universities with the program I'm majoring in, and a really nice BAH rate for my GI Bill to boot. And, I have the feeling we will actually be happy there, which is going to piss me off big time.  I mean, who wants to admit they like their life in a place they so adamantly oppose.  Stupid universe handing me challenges and making me realize things about myself and such.  Stupid growing towards enlightenment. Sometimes that shit just pisses me off.  Can't I do it from the lovely Cascade mountains with the eagles and bears instead?  Apparently, no.  That my friends, would simply be far too easy.

So, off I go to ______, swallowing my judgment and superiority complex about that place, even though part of the reason I dislike it is because most of the people there are so judge-y and have a superiority complex about themselves.  Ironic, no?  Sigh.  I will make the best of it, dammit.  And, I'll be happy, dammit.  And probably excel in university down there, dammit.

Just, dammit.

Ok universe, I hear you, I heed you and I will comply.