In Defense of the Binky

defense-of-binky

The first few weeks of Harper’s life were completely pacifier-free. Unlike with Hadley, the hospital hadn’t shoved a Philips Avent-style sucker into her perfect little mouth.

Of course, they were totally different. Hadley screamed from the get-go. He was a ravenously hungry 10+ lb. bruiser, so I can see why, despite my research saying that using a pacifier would deter successful breastfeeding, the nurses had little choice but to stick one in his mouth. It was either that or let him cry it out…another theory we don’t subscribe to.

Harper, though, was just over a “petite” 8 pounds. She also had a hard time working up much noise at all. We called her our little bird, with her mouth agape but little rising to the top. It was actually concerning for awhile. I still have to have my ears perked throughout the night to make sure I hear her rustling. It’s the only way she can get her meals.

But, after awhile, we gave in to the pacifier.

Why?

Well, it started innocently. Just the occasional bout of crying at a family get-together or rough patch.

Then, while she’s a “good sleeper” (I hate giving kids those “good baby/bad baby”, “good sleeper/bad sleeper” labels since they change so easily and quickly), I came to realize that she was far calmer and slept better when she sucked on a paci for a bit.

I officially gave in.

At first, there was a bit of guilt on my part. My mother said that my three siblings and I used a pacifier for a month each, and, of course, my grandmother used none. I think that she (and, to an extent, I) was proud that our little girl was able to forego the superficial tool. And, I’m sure she probably could.

But, why the guilt? As with most things regarding children, guilt is the enemy of good parenting. There is no award here. If our children grow into healthy, well-adjusted, kind adults, we’ll all get a “Good Job!” participation trophy. There is no gold, no silver, no bronze. The only losers here are those who truly don’t CARE for their children, and those who parent solely based on the guilt.

So, I won’t allow it to seep in.

There are pros and cons to using a pacifier. So, it’s up to us to make up our own decision.

I don’t intend for her to use the binky long-term.

She has a firm grasp on breastfeeding (and I actually use it to calm her when she gets too “in her own head” fussy to take the breast; it’s a fabulous trick that helped with Hadman, too).

She has learned to self-soothe, especially because she doesn’t take a firm hold onto a binky very easily. Actually, if she simply keeps pushing it out with her tongue, I’ve learned not to keep trying. She’s clearly telling me she doesn’t want it. So, suck on her hand, she will, if need be.

I know her cues. A binky isn’t a replacement for good, old-fashioned snuggles and comfort. When it pops out because her tongue’s working full-time, it doesn’t go back in; she’s clearly hungry.

So, with that, she continues using her favorite little shamrock bink for the foreseeable future.

No apologies.

Just a happy baby.

Why We Couldn’t Do the Tiny House Thing

It’s intriguing. It’s resource-saving. It’s simplifying. It’s even hip.

And there’s no way that we could ever attempt it.

The tiny house movement is a fad (there, I said it) in which people buy or build a super small building and make it work as their one-and-only living space. We’re talking 200 square feet spaces, guys. It’s kind of like taking a tiny NYC apartment and proving that you could live in it any old place. Sure, in the city it may seem worth it…okay, not even in the city does it seem worth it. At least, not for our family of four humans and three cats.

Even if it would be the best excuse ever to get well-meaning relatives to stop. Buying. All. The. Stuff. Tiny just isn’t viable or sustainable in the long-term.

tiny-house2

Currently, we’re living in a house just over 1,000 square feet. Some might say we’re already living in a tiny house, but I’d argue that it’s more of a small house.  Not bursting at the seams. Not “a hut in Africa” small. But cozy and definitely cramped, especially with a 3-year-old who takes to announcing “I’m Kid Flash!!!” zooming from room to room. As cute as he is, it gets old.

The idea behind tiny house living is an admirable one. In response to the mentality behind McMansions that led to the housing market collapse, people thought, “That’s gross materialism, plain and simple.” So, what’s the opposite? Gross simplification.

As you know, I’m all about living a simpler lifestyle. The benefits are immense. If we COULD wrap our heads around the idea of living in a tiny house, maybe this blog post would be a very different discussion. But, as it is, I’m a realist. And a mother, at that. Four years ago, I know I thought, “Well, if we don’t find another house, this one will suit us just fine in the long-term.” I was wrong.

I couldn’t have foreseen the special, what-the-heck-is-in-his-Wheaties kiddo who would bless our family. He is SUPER-CHARGED a lot of the time. Kid’s got spunk and energy for days. The only good our tiny house is to him currently is as a race track: the fact that our layout offers a misshapen circle to race is his favorite. Dining room, kitchen, living room…dining room, kitchen, living room….

No, a kid like this deserves a larger space. Sure, we could do a tiny house on a HUGE plot of land, but we spend far less time outside during the winter than we do inside. (Maybe I should amend that.) And, since winter is *usually* a pretty lengthy season in these parts, there’s a lot of energy that can get stored in a 3-year-old body. That energy inevitably explodes in sometimes disastrous ways.

So, while we by no means long for a McMansion or even a Happy Meal version, we’d like to upgrade to a reasonably larger space. At least one that allows for more inside play space (along with a bit more outside, too) but still small enough that we know our kids, if you catch my drift. Then, in purchasing a house rather than wasting materials on a new build, and by upgrading in eco-friendly ways, I’m hoping that our footprint will still be markedly less than the big beasts.

As with all things in life, moderation is key.

Babywearing

For those readers who’ve never heard the word before, “babywearing” may sound a little odd. Even I found myself choking out the words when I wore Harper at a recent family event – “I’m going to wear…the baby will be in a carrier.” While I may be unapologetic about the choices we make, it doesn’t make it easier to be the odd man out sometimes. 😉

So, what IS babywearing? It’s exactly what it sounds like: wearing your baby as an option of carrying or traveling with your little one. It keeps baby soothed and the sound of mama’s heartbeat is reminiscent of  when baby was in the womb. Babywearing is the one of the most literal aspects of “attachment parenting.”

But one of the most appealing parts of babywearing comes when you have more than one bambino. Whether at the grocery store, traveling, or just trying to get something done with your hands free (like chasing a 3-year-old), it helps exponentially.

There are several different styles of options for wearing a baby: an easy structured carrier (we have an Ergo), slings, wraps of all fabrics (we love our Moby), and mei tais. They range in ease of use and price, and offer options regardless of your child’s age. Yup, you can babywear from newborn to toddler.

When Hadley was born, I was so overwhelmed and absolutely drained by nursing and his feisty personality, so when I finally got around to trying him in a carrier, it didn’t stick. Kind of like cloth diapering, at that point I was simply in survival mode and didn’t feel the need to stress myself out more for the sake of giving this method a go. It didn’t make life easier at the time.

This time, though, it DOES make life easier. There’s a learning curve (especially when wrapping!), but between the fact that Harper seems to be a snuggler and our Moby wrap has allowed us to actually get out of the house, it’s a lifesaver.

babywearing

My favorite examples? Our first time using one, we hit up a local Christmas tree farm. Seriously, we NEVER would’ve been able to get a tree as a family of four (with a “doesn’t listen to ‘STOP!'” kiddo in tow) without the thing. It. Was. Perfect. The fact that it was a super warm day (the whole month of December was…blah) helped.

The first time Harper and I left the house one-on-one, I had some groceries to get. I threw on the wrap, carefully snuggled her in, and she slept during the entire trip. Plus, if people want to see her, it’s fine – but she’s still at a safe distance to avoid all the yucky germs being passed around this time of year.

Then, our first real family outing was a huge success thanks to babywearing. We hit up our favorite “local” getaway spot, Cooperstown, on a chilly day. Harper and I were both dressed in layers (I actually wrote about how to babywear in cold weather a little while back), and she slept most of the time. It. Was. Awesome.

When Harper’s a bit bigger, I look forward to getting out for some walks with the Ergo (which is more structured and pretty quick to put on and take off), and hope to continue wearing her for our summertime outings.

While we do have a stroller (a double one, actually), which we’ll most likely use for farmers’ market trips and other lots-of-walking-involved trips, this option is perfect for so many applications.

If you’re interested in giving babywearing a go, check out Babywearing International to see what style will fit your family’s needs.

Now, to get the Dorky Daddy to give it a try!

Postpartum Pampering & Bright Planet Review/Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples for review from Bright Planet, but all thoughts opinions shared herein are mine…all miiiiine! Also, I only review products that meet my standards for environmental/social responsibility and are relevant to Meg Acts Out.

Ever since Harper arrived 7 (!) weeks ago and Hadley is still, well, a typical 3-year-old, I’ve been tossed back into the world of “what day is this and when was my last shower?!”

At a stage such as this, it’s all too easy to forget that I’m still part of the human race – a human living in sweats with semi-permanent eye bags, but a human, nevertheless. In order  to remind myself of this simple fact from time to time, I force feed myself some simple versions of pampering with what limited time I can steal.

So, what are my postpartum pampering go-tos to feel like myself again?

1) Time to bathe *like an adult*. I don’t mean the 5 minute shower where you spend so much time pulling the shower curtain aside to check on the baby in her vibratey (totally a word) chair that you forget whether you washed your hair. I mean the “lose track of time, select pretty-smelling products (conditioner, yay!) and remember to shave” type of bathroom experience.

2) Getting out in the fresh air. Much like a golden retriever enjoys the occasional car ride, so do I love getting out these days. Mind you, I don’t want to do it daily; the effort to get everybody cleaned, clothed, and packed up isn’t a treat at all. But, whether it’s going for a ride, taking Hadley for a walk, heading to a family member’s house to hang out, or actually attempting a fun family outing, the fresh air does a body (and mind) good.

3) Drinking something that’s actually hot. I haven’t been remembering to drink as much water as a lactating woman should drink, but I’ve been making up for it with tea. I find myself turning the tea kettle on throughout the day now (which isn’t the norm) just to refill my mug of green tea again. Some days even go by where I don’t have to microwave it. That, my friends, is the sign of a good day.

I know these things seem incredibly mundane and simple. Maybe they are. But, on those days when you find yourself happily singing Daniel Tiger songs all day or not so happily run ragged, they’re a godsend.

So, when Bright Planet contacted me to see if I’d like to try a few sample sizes of their bath and body products, I literally teared up a bit. “Spa experience, table for one!” As an environmentally conscientious company, Bright Planet offers hair and skin care products that you can feel at ease using.

BP_logoFINAL_1MB

Group shot on stones crop

Overall, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the quality of all of the products. I can totally get behind Bright Planet’s 100% natural ingredients, which are paraben-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free, petro chemical-free with no artificial fragrances or colors. Plus, the products are 100% vegan and made in the USA.

When you try out eco-friendly products, there’s a preconceived expectation that they’ll smell like…well…patchouli. If you catch my drift. But, the first thing I noticed was how calming and delicious-smelling all four items I tried were. If the scent’s right, it can be a downright spa-like experience, and these definitely were.

Here are some brief thoughts on each item:

Inspiration Sour Cherry Scrub – A gentle but effective scrub that utilizes walnut shells (rather than those now-illegal microbeads), I tried this out on my elbows, feet – any place that was looking a little rough, if you know what I mean. Not only did it work great, but the scent was absolutely wonderful. Like, “Calgon, take me away” but without being, y’know, chemical-laden Calgon. 😉 I felt totally pampered.

Orange Blossom Green Tea Facial Cleanser – Let me tell you…this was my favorite. It was mild yet effective, didn’t leave my face feeling dry OR greasy (how do they find the perfect middle ground??), and, as with all of their products, the scent was perfect. Not cloyingly sticky-sweet, definitely not “hippie.” Seriously, just right.

Inspiration Conditioner and Inspiration Shampoo – It could’ve been my “no poo” attempt awhile back or simply the changing of my hair’s pH after having kids, but my hair is like straw. Like, Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz could relate. I ALWAYS need to use a conditioner now (I wish coconut oil worked) or else my hair simply won’t detangle. So, I was apprehensive about these ones. Not all natural products work in my mess of a nest. But, they far exceeded my expectations. Plus, again, the SCENT was absolutely lovely.

In addition to the fact that Bright Planet makes legitimately incredible products, I love their social conscience. Take their latest initiative, for example. From now until the end of January, they’re partnering with KUTOA, a company dedicated to feeding children in need. With every purchase made using the campaign code HELPKIDS, they will give TWICE (once to an American child and once to a child overseas) to the KUTOA cause.

If you’re interested in trying out any of the Bright Planet products, now’s the time to do it, knowing that in doing so you can help fight malnutrition and childhood mortality worldwide.

And you can also get a chance to try a sample kit of the items I received by entering the giveaway Bright Planet has generously agreed to sponsor. Just click on the graphic below in order to head to my Meg Acts Out Facebook page and follow instructions to enter. Be sure to share how you like to pamper yourself (postpartum or not).
bright-planet-giveaway

Breastfeeding 2.0

For those of you who were raised in a slightly repressed setting (as was I), I give you warning: I’m talking about breasts today.

Well, not the actual breasts. Just what you do with them. Er. What they’re meant to be used for.

That’s a great start.

Anyway, so if you’re not into discussing breastfeeding, you might want to skip today. Don’t worry, though. I won’t be offended.

Breastfeeding 2.0
For those of you who stuck around, here goes. We’re about two months into this whole “second baby” thing. In some ways, it’s been one of the hardest things ever. In other ways, it’s been easier than expected. I’ll get into that another day, but suffice it to say, breastfeeding is going smoothly.

I’m sure I just jinxed myself.

When she was first born, Harper was taken away just as Hadley was to be introduced to a few family members, measured, and all that fun stuff. I was surprised (and over-the-moon happy) that they didn’t clean her up since there are many benefits to be had by delaying baby’s first “bath.”

Another thing that went down differently than with Hadman was that they got her back to me to feed quickly. Apparently, due to his size (and sheer lung capacity), he was given a bottle in the nursery. Big no-no. I was too out-of-it to be upset and he latched immediately, so I figured that one taste of formula wasn’t a huge deal. As long as he took to the breast, I was happy.

Harper’s what we call our little bird. She’s smaller than he was (by 2 pounds), so while she’s a good-sized baby, she feels tiny by comparison. She also feeds like a bird, head darting all over, eyes closed. All the cuteness, I tell ya. And she did this from the start. Yup, she latched immediately.

I’m what you would call “lucky.” Not bragging here, just being uber grateful.

Compared to our experiences with Had, we’re not bumping into nearly as many issues. She has gas (or some such pain) once in awhile, but not the consistent, ear-piercing, heart-stopping screaming he encountered. For the most part, she’s consolable and calmable with one of the many techniques we learned on Baby #1.

And, ultimately, it seems that the one thing that helps this time around is just that. Experience. We’re much less frazzled when the little birdie starts chirping or gets too worked up to latch or has a bout of fussiness. We know that we’ll get through it because, well, we already have once before. It’s all good.

So, what are our breastfeeding goals? I’m still not a very public breastfeeder, simply out of my own hang-ups. I’ll do it in the car and might cover up in front of most family members (I don’t think she’s a fan, so I don’t do it often). I have friends who have had very public battles over their open nursing, so I’m definitely not against it. I’d actually very willingly call people out for attacking a woman’s right if I were to see it in person. But, I just choose to head to a bedroom, the car, or schedule things around feeding time, myself. Isn’t it nice to have dreams?

Otherwise, the goal is to feed our girl this way as long as she likes. For Hadley, that meant until about 18 months (having weaned for quite awhile at that point – he just wanted an evening comfort nursing at the end there). For Harp, it could mean 12 months…it could mean 24. Who knows? And, honestly, it’s so relatively easy that I don’t mind it.

Of course, pumping is a while other issue. THAT, I DO mind. Such a pain. But, I’ve started using a manual pump to store up a small stash for our eventual first date night and for when/if I head back to work.

2016 Focus

Really? It’s 2016 already? As a kid, I always envisioned having gone through the apocalypse by now. Everyone socially equal and wearing the same brown canvas sacks.

That was just me?

Anyhoo, it seems that I have a different perspective on resolutions every new year that rolls around. (Seriously. Like here and here and here…although that last one still rings true today.) This year, I have some loose goals. By “goals” I mean stuff I’m looking forward to…and working on. Being at home with a newborn and frequently at odds with a rambunctious toddler will do that to a person. We could even call it my “focus” for the year. List time!

happy new year!

WRITING

Straighten out the blog – There’s actually a bit of a list I’ve gotta work on with this one, but just know that things will continue to transition here as I’m able to chip away at it. 😉 Vague, but I know what needs to be done. Now, if only I could find the time to do it!

Search out more freelance – I was super lucky in 2015 to start picking up more paid gigs with my BFFs at Green Child, weekly blogging for Thirsties, and some other fun side work. In 2016, I’m hoping to seek out more opportunities. So, hit me up if you want to work together!

Keep writing – As you see from my relative infrequency, I took an impromptu blogging hiatus with the birth of Harper. I was still writing, but my other paid responsibilities + craziness that accompanies a new baby/high-maintenance toddler/the holidays meant that something had to give – and that was MAO. I’m hoping not only to get back at it more regularly, but offer tips in addition to the usual personal stories to offer more of a life guide for you guys.   


Social media – After straightening things out around the joint, I’d like to orient my social media use to more of a professional venue. The time suckage that is Facebook (a topic I’ve grappled with before) isn’t something I can simply give up. There are times that my online gigs deem it necessary to dapple with all forms of social media, so it’s just not plausible. However, for blogging purposes, I’d like to choose a couple of my favorite venues to engage more in the simple living/green/parenting worlds. Won’t you join me? 🙂

 

FAMILY

Trips ‘n Things – Honestly, this is what I’m looking forward to most in 2016. We went on our first “Family of Four” outing last weekend to Cooperstown. We had no goal in going aside from getting out of the house. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but Harper did awesome bundled in her Moby wrap and I returned home completely rejuvenated. I actually felt like my old self for the first time in awhile.

So, this year, I’m hoping to fit in some more activities. A jaunt on the local walking trail. Seeing some distant friends and fitting in a trip to a local-to-them museum or discovery center. Trying out a new zoo. (Hadley’s been asking to go to an aquarium, too.) Packing up the car for a drive. Finding a family-friendly hike in the Adirondacks (and maybe hitting up a cabin for a day or two). Oh, and visiting a historical site would make my year.

Yeah, I don’t expect to do all of these things by a long shot. But, if we can try to get to a few of them, I’d be a happy mama.

Cloth – We’re finally going to start cloth diapering more diligently with Harpy girl. I’ve used them periodically, but after a lengthy boil water advisory and the holidays threw us off, we’re finally ready to take the plunge. We may stick with disposables during the nighttime for the time being, but one step at a time, right?

Happiness – This is pretty much the word of the year. Any goals I set are with this in mind, ultimately. It also is my reminder to try to pump more happiness into life for those around me. With the challenges that come with all these new transitions, there’s no point in piling more stress and obligations on our shoulders even further. So, if I don’t excel or, hell, succeed at some of the things on this list…no worry. I’ll be happy for what does get achieved. Bam. Happy is as happy does.

 

LIFE

New home – Now that we’ve got another +1 in the house, it’s crystal clear that we need to get on our house hunt…pronto. We’ve been “on it” before, but Dorky Daddy and I are both dedicated to the hunt now. We’re hoping to bridge all of our needs (and some of our wants) with reality. But, if we could get a place that we can *eventually* make our own in *one of* the towns we know to be kid-friendly in *a realistic price range*, we’d be happy. Heck, we’d be over the moon.   

Simplicity – As with life in general, we’re looking to continue our goal of living a simpler existence. House hunting and *hopefully* moving will help with the “do we really NEED this?” purging. Now, about all those Christmas toys…

 

That’s what we’ve got going for 2016. How about you folks? Any resolutions? What do you think of ours? Feel free to chime in! 

Welcome, Harper Quinn!

I haven’t written in over a month, and I’m trying not to feel too guilty about that fact. Between caring for a newborn, parenting a 3-year-old, getting myself moving, writing for my other gigs, and just the general holiday season, there are lots of reasons. Oh, and I don’t need to tell you guys…I’m tired, man.

But, I didn’t want to leave our new little bundle of joy out in the cold as far as a proper introduction to the world. For being bloggers, my husband and I are pretty private (him more than me), so we need to walk a fine line between over-sharing and maintaining some anonymity for our family’s safety.

I reason that we’ve shared a bit about our firstborn, so I’d like to record our secondborn’s arrival (at least to allow me to remember better). So, today, it’s all about our girl.

Yup, girl. In case you’re not in the loop, we were stunned and ecstatic to welcome an 8 lb. 2.5 oz. girl to our family the morning of Friday, November 13th via C-section.

IMG_0354
We agreed that she looked like a “Harper”, but took some time to land on a middle name. “Harper” means more than just “a harpist” (although my family’s musical side spoke to the name a bit); a minstrel actually was the news bringer, record keeper, and even genealogy expert of an area, which are all loosely tied to our interests and even careers.

We ended up choosing “Quinn” (rather than a family name, which I still feel guilty about – though I LOVE what we went with). It means “wisdom” and has a Gaelic/Irish history (as do I ;-)). It’s strong and special and sweet, and we hope she is, too. So far, we hit the nail on the head.

IMG_0383

Considering she’s 3 weeks old, her personality is starting to show itself more everyday. She’s been a sweetie from day one, but her lungs are a lot stronger (the nurses and doctor were actually concerned about her that she couldn’t get her vocals worked up and sounded rather weak). That said, we need to listen for her little chirps, squeaks and mouth noises to make sure she eats regularly.

Not to say she’s an awesome sleeper! She’s a newborn, so naps happen, but pretty sporadically, so I’m beat. She also finds it amusing to cluster feed, which I totally give into. Again, she’s a newborn; it’s what she needs. I’m just grateful that she has taken to nursing as quickly as her brother and, so far, there are no issues. Knock on all the wood, folks!!

IMG_0369

What about Hadley? I’m planning on writing a separate post about this, but as far as Harper’s concerned, he loves “his baby” very much. He gently pets her head, occasionally talks to her with a super sweet voice, and remembers to always include her when he talks about our family (which is often). Otherwise, we’re experiencing lots of 3-year-old, not-getting-attention-so-let’s-get-BAD-attention behavior. I feel his pain…but we’re experiencing our own pain and frustrations in the meantime.

IMG_0397

As with all things, it’s a work in progress and it’s a phase…just like this sleep deprived, mama cries about commercials stage. (With a history of depression, I know it’s not PPD or even baby blues; just exhaustion and hormones.) And the good outweighs the challenges, most days.

Oh, and as far as myself? I still get twinges of pain from overdoing it, but am pretty much back to normal physically. I had totally forgotten what the post-op pain was like and the first week home was rough. I have a high pain threshold, though, and made it through.

Sneezes and coughs be damned, though. Ouch.

If you’d like to know what else we’ve been up to, make sure you stop by the Thirsties blog to see how we’re changing our holiday traditions this year, among other things. And, I do hope to be sharing more here to get some normalcy back into our lives. 😉

Contact Me

Be sure to check out my About and Writing & Collaboration pages to learn more about me before reaching out. If you’d like to collaborate or team up on some blog business, contact me directly at megactsout@gmail.com or send me a message below. I look forward to hearing from you!






A Busy Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning

Meal planning is all the rage for busy families these days, and I totally get it. BFFs with meal freezing and slow cooking, meal planning helps take away the “uuuuhhhh…what’re you in the mood for?” moments that we all deal with. It also helps out the ol’ wallet. Plus, it’s better for the environment because you’re generally not wasting precious resources and food. See? Win-win-win. Wins all over the place.

Guess what, though. I generally suck at meal planning. Not sure why. Maybe I’m too loosey goosey (let’s say “free spirited”)? No, it’s not that. Probably because I’m not organized enough to stay on top of regular planning. Yeah. That’s probably it, to be honest. For some reason, the idea of sitting down to plot out an entire month (or more) of meals is just daunting. And makes me want to do, like, anything else on my to-do list instead.

But, especially with the little one coming insanely soon, we’re going to give this thing a shot.

Shoot me now.

Seriously, though, I’m going to simplify this thing as much as humanly possible. And, here’s how…

*Yes, I needed to organize it a tad better, but this is real life, folks. 😉

freezer_meals

Use alternatives. It’s all fine and swell when you see a list of foods that other bloggers suggest. “Oh, that sounds good. And that one. Well, that sounds like a processed nightmare, but the rest are good!” But, while I wouldn’t call 3-year-old Hadman a “picky” eater, I wouldn’t say he’ll eat…some foods. Say, the ones mommy and daddy happen to like a lot. So, while Dave and I would love to stock our freezer with chili and soups, we’ll still need to figure out an extra dinner for the little guy. Crap.

So, instead of sweating the small stuff, I’ll go with a Plan B. We can make some delicious squash soup and turkey chili for the freezer, but maybe if we’re having a salad (since, let’s face it, the Dorky Daddy can make a mean salad, and if I’m in the throes of nursing, his salad skills will be required) or quick PB&J/grilled cheese on the side (another thing he’s adept at making…I should thank his mom), we’ll hook Hadley up with that, instead. We still try new-to-him foods with him since you never know when he’ll actually decide he likes it, but I don’t push.

Plus, the kiddo is a fruit fiend. So, a PB&J with apples or strawberries on the side isn’t something I can argue with. Everyday? Yes, I’ll argue that. From time to time, though, it’s fine. And the fact that he will eat a salad? I mean…lucky.

This also applies to using alternative ingredients. So many food blogs don’t include “real food” options in their recipes. I’ve learned easy ways to substitute other ingredients, not sweating it much anymore. So, feel free to use whatchya got!

Stock up on the faves. Luckily, there ARE things that the whole family enjoys. My meatloaf muffins are always a hit. No clue why. So, I’ll double the batch to freeze and grab as needed. And when I find some organic or grassfed beef on sale, I’ll grab some extra for meatballs (meatball saaaaandwich!!!) or just to prep some burgers for the freezer. See? This stuff will also work on those nights we need to sub something in for the little no-he’s-not-picky-he’s-just-particular guy.

Figure out what your family’s favorites are, and whether you just have the components on-hand or you’ve already made and frozen them, at least *in theory* you’ll have less of those “Eh, I’m not in the mood for that” nights.

For the love of God, don’t plan a whole month. You know who can really use meal plans? Crazy busy people. You know who doesn’t have the time to write out 30+ days of meal plans? Crazy busy people.

So, take this shortcut (I’ve seen it a few places, wish I could cite where!) — plan two weeks. Just two. That’s fourteen meals. Then restart the rotation mid-month.

Every night doesn’t need to be the best meal ever. It just doesn’t. Pizza is allowed (whether you make it, get a frozen one – we prefer Paul Newman, but whatevs – or buy from your favorite local joint). Soup and sandwich is fine. If we don’t get a crapload of veggies into our systems every day, I don’t sweat it and try to aim for some healthier choices the next day.

Plus, have you SEEN some of these meal plans? Sooooo not healthy. Buy whole wheat pasta and call it a day. And rejoice on the days you have a full-blown, delicious meal. Even if it’s just one day on the weekend…every few weeks. 😉

Jot down your plan. In my case, this is helpful because it’ll help Dave and I both since he’ll be taking on a bit more responsibility as far as groceries and cooking. It also gives a visual for what you have waiting for you in your fridge rather than just assuming “there’s nothing I can make with that.” Plus, there’s less energy wasted when you stand there, dumbfounded with fridge door in hand for five minutes.

This worked great when we tried the Real Food Challenge, too. I wrote down a list of our favorites on our fridge dry erase board, particularly ones that I’d shopped for that week. *wink* I even separated them by breakfast, lunch and dinner. This time around, I may also write down a handful of recipes for the ones that are committed to my memory, just so that Dave doesn’t have a million questions and will know how much he can use of each ingredient. If I have time. We’ll see!

Are you into meal planning and/or meal freezing? Go ahead and share your tips below — we’d LOVE to hear them!

Advice

Woot woot!!! So, there are a lot (tons…a plethora…a magnitude…a shitload) of quirks to work out on the blog, but here we are. No more Blogger. While I know — er, assume — it’s for the best, I definitely miss the comfort (and relative ease of making changes) of my old space. It’ll take a little while to get things in order, so please don’t mind the mess in the meantime. Kind of like any move in real life. Heck, there may be moving boxes out for months. 😉

While I’m working on finding my blogging routine again, I thought I’d just stop by with a quick question for you guys to pick your brains. I’ve been doing so much planning at school for when the baby comes, my own brain resembles that of a fried egg lately. Ew.

So, since I either know many of you in “real life” or find that many of you at least feel like you may know me a little bit, I ask you: If you were to ask me for advice, what area in your life would it touch?

Would you ask me about natural living stuff? Would you ask about recipes? Or simplifying life? Or superheroes? Would you just ask where I got my kickass boots or coral sweater?

What I’m pretty much saying is, when you think of me, what do you think I “know”? I’ve had people say “I know you know a lot about *blah blah blah*, can you explain *dum dee dum* to me?” And sometimes I’m super surprised…then realize, “Oh, yeah. I guess I know how to do that.”

So, I’m just asking what you THINK I know (whether I do or not ;-)). Any input, whether here, on Twitter or FB, or in a hand-written note, is greatly appreciated. And, promise, I’ll be writing more regularly soon.