Monday, November 16, 2020

Natural Postpartum and Breastfeeding Essentials

So often mothers during pregnancy tend to focus on what their baby will need postpartum, without giving much thought, if any at all, to what THEY will need postpartum. Postpartum recovery is something I didn’t give much thought about when I was pregnant with my first child. “Pain? I mean, I just gave birth. The worst is over now, right?”, and, “Breastfeeding is natural. How hard can it be? I won’t need anything for that”, are some thoughts I had. So I didn’t get anything to make the postpartum period or breastfeeding easier for myself first time around, but after becoming pregnant with my second baby, I learned to not only prepare for the new baby, but to also prepare myself for my postpartum needs. Now that my second child is born, I wanted to make this post to share what I got second time around that made life easier for me and to give other moms ideas on what she might want or need. I will talk about my postpartum essentials first and then my breastfeeding essentials last, because I know not every mother chooses to breastfeed.

 

POSTPARTUM ESSENTIALS

Postpartum Tea

I made my own postpartum tea as a low-waste option to buying it in individual tea bags. They also have loose-leaf postpartum teas you can buy online, but I chose to formulate my own based off what I wanted to achieve postpartum. I used nettle leaf as a natural treatment for postpartum fatigue, red raspberry leaves to tone my uterus, shepherd’s purse to reduce postpartum bleeding, oatstraw to prevent anxiety and postpartum depression, and blessed thistle to stimulate milk production. Nettle and red raspberry leaves are also known to increase milk supply. I mix and store the leaves in a mason jar and put 1 tablespoon in a tea strainer and steep in hot water when I’m ready to drink. I drink this 1-2 times per day, every day.

 

2 cups Nettle Leaf

2 cups Red Raspberry Leaves

1 cup shepherds purse

1 cup oatstraw

1 cup Blessed Thistle

 

Thick Pads

Thick pads are a must postpartum because there is so much bleeding, if you have a vaginal birth that is. I bleed so much I have to layer two pads the first week. After that just I just use one, until I don’t have to wear one at all. Pads are a must if you have a vaginal delivery! You are not allowed to insert anything into the vagina until your 6 week postpartum checkup, so anything like diva cups and tampons are not allowed.

 

After Ease Herbal Tincture

This is my most beneficial buy for postpartum pain. I heard about this herbal tincture from WishGarden when I was pregnant with my first baby, but didn’t buy it because I didn’t think I’d need it. Knowing now how painful the postpartum period is, I made sure I had a bottle this time around. It’s so powerful I’ve barely needed to use it. I didn’t use it the first few days, but once I opened it up and started using it, I only needed it the first three days. After that I had no more postpartum pain and cramping. I love healing my body through natural remedies!

 

Witch Hazel

I got this aloe vera infused, alcohol-free watch hazel to make padsicles. I poured the witch hazel on top of some of my pads, folded them back up and put them in the freezer. I used them the first week to help soothe vaginal pain and soreness. 

 

Baby Wrap

I. LOVE. BABYWEARING! I love keeping my baby close instead of pushing him in a stroller or lugging him around in a car seat carrier. I wear it while I’m out and about such as taking my kids on a walk and when I’m at the store, but I also wear it around the house to calm him if he’s cranky while I’m making food or doing chores. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get him to nap. Having a baby wrap is just really convenient. My baby wrap is by Solly Baby.

 

Heating Pad

I’m not sure if I would purposely go out and buy a heating pad postpartum, but it was something I loved using since I already had one. I used it every single day the first week and even a little bit afterwards. I would use it during the day and even sleep with it at night. I used the heat to help soothe postpartum cramping and cramping while breastfeeding. I would cramp in my lower abdomen and sometimes my lower back, so those were the two areas I would always place the heating pad.

 

 Prenatals

This one is a weird one because I consider prenatals a postpartum essential not because I feel like I need them, but because it’s essential for me to get rid of them. I’d rather not throw them away just because I’m not pregnant anymore. The boost in nutrients is great, but once I’m finished with the bottle I don’t buy vitamins anymore. Right now I am finishing up my vegan prenatals and omega supplement.




BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS

Comfortable Nursing Clothes

It didn’t take long after I started breastfeeding to realize how hard it is to breastfeed in regular shirts and bras. I had two nursing bras from having my first baby, but breastfeeding wasn’t successful with her, so I didn’t ever have to get more. This time around, breastfeeding has been successful but that also means I had to buy more clothes to accommodate nursing. I found breastfeeding hard to do in regular shirts and bras, especially while out in public. If you have baggy shirts than can pull down or be pulled to the side, that can work, but for me, all my clothes are pretty tight fitting. I needed my shirts and bras to be able the snap down to accommodate comfortable nursing. Some good websites for nursing attire is Seraphine Maternity, Hatchgal, Latched Mama, Kindred Bravely, and Motherhood Maternity.

 

Milkies Milk Saver

Breastfeeding didn’t last long with my first baby, but one thing I learned in that short time was that a milk saver was worth having. I got the Milkies Milk Saver because when you breastfeed, you have a let down on both breasts (yes, even the one the baby isn’t sucking on), and if I didn’t have a milk saver to catch it, all that milk would get all over me, my clothes, and even sometimes my surrounding area. Some women just let it happen, some put a towel over their breast and let it soak in the towel, but I treat breastmilk as “liquid gold”, and something not to be wasted. Sometimes only a few drops come out, sometimes an ounce or more. Either way, I use it every feeding and then syringe feed it to my baby either in between switching breasts or after a feeding. 

 

Reusable Nursing Pads

Some women don’t leak at all, but I’m one of the moms that do. I leak a little bit during the day and while I’m sleeping. I’d rather change a pad than to change my bra and shirt. I use reusable ones as an eco-friendly and zero waste option. I can just wash it and reuse them again and again. I got mine from Bamboobies and Kindred Bravely.

 

Hot and Cold Pack for Breasts

My sister got me the Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy after my first child and I used it then and I’ve been using it again with baby #2. I used to put it in the freezer for a few hours to help with engorgement pain, but I mainly heat it in the microwave and apply it to help with a letdown and to help the milk flow.

 

Breast Pump

A breast pump is my ultimate breastfeeding essential. I use it every day, multiple times a day. I put my baby to the breast for every feeding, but even when he’s finished eating, I can still pump a few ounces. Sometimes my baby also sleeps for long stretches, so I pump if a few hours have gone by and he’s still sleeping. This keeps my breasts stimulated to keep making more milk and to give me relief from having full breasts. I have the Spectra S2 Electric Breast Pump that I got free through my insurance. High quality breast pumps can be expensive, so use THIS site to see if your insurance will cover your breast pump.

 

Breast Pump Car Adapter

My baby seems to sleep more and not be interested in eating while we’re out all day. This left my breasts full and in pain. I got a car adapter so I can pump in the car during long car rides and in between destinations if needed to, and the milk can be stored for later. I also used this for my 6 week postpartum visit because I wasn’t allowed to bring my baby with me. My doctor’s office is an hour away, so I pumped 30 minutes while driving there, I was there for the appointment 2 hours, and I pumped again for 30 minutes on the way home. Otherwise my breasts would have gone 4+ hours without stimulation and would have left them in pain from being full.

 

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

A hands free pumping bra is a must for mothers who want to multitask while they pump. It can get tiring just sitting there holding them the duration of a pumping session, which can be up to 30 minutes. I mainly have a pumping bra so I can pump in the car like I mentioned above, and it will also be especially handy for when I return to work. I can pump and have my hands free to eat and talk on the phone while on breaks.

 

Breastmilk Storage Bags

I have an oversupply, so breastmilk storage bags are a must for me so I can have a stash for my partner to feed the baby when I return to work and can donate to a mother and baby in need what’s left over. I chose the ones from Lansinoh because of their leak proof double seal and the higher bag count (comes with 100 bags).

 

I know not every mother will need or want what’s on this list, but this is what I have needed, liked having, and what has made the postpartum period easier for me. Let me know down in the comments what your favorite postpartum essentials are!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Pros and Cons of Shaving with Coconut Oil


While coconut oil is used in so many different ways, such as moisturizing and makeup removing, most people probably wouldn’t think to replace their regular shaving cream with it. But as soon as I found out that shaving with coconut oil is a thing, I decided to give it a try. After having the experience of using coconut oil as a shaving cream for a few months now, I have found that I like it a lot more than regular shaving cream, but that there are still some things I do not like about it, and you may not either. So to see if shaving with coconut oil is right for you, I am going to share the pros and cons I have found from shaving with it.

 

PROS

✦ Easily Accessible

Coconut oil is becoming a staple in many people’s kitchens, so you may already have coconut oil on hand. If not, it is easily accessible as most grocery stores carry coconut oil. Any coconut oil is fine to use – fractionated, virgin, extra-virgin, etc.

 

✦ Natural, Non-Toxic Alternative

Coconut oil is a natural, non-toxic alternative to regular shaving cream. When you buy a jar or tub of coconut oil, coconut is the only ingredient. Standard shaving cream contains chemicals and other ingredients such as sulfates, emulsifiers, phthalates, fragrances, and more. Keep in mind our body absorbs what is put on it, so it’s best to leave the chemicals out of our skincare.

 

✦ Smoother Legs

Coconut oil’s clear coating allows you to see where you’re shaving, meaning no hairs are left behind and the results leave you with smoother legs, arms, face, or wherever you are shaving!

 

✦ Goodbye Razor Burn and Ingrown Hairs

Why this happens, I do not know. I have just noticed that since making the switch to shaving with coconut oil, I have not gotten razor burn or ingrown hairs since then, whereas I always had an issue with this using standard shaving cream.

 

✦ No More Knicks and Cuts

I’m not sure why this is, but I have never cut myself shaving with coconut oil, whereas with regular shaving cream, I would cut myself almost every time. Maybe the oil acts as a protective barrier? Or maybe the oil helps the razor glide better?

 

✦ No Need to Apply Lotion Afterwards

I do not need to apply lotion when I come out of the shower because my legs are already moisturized and smooth from the coconut oil.

 

✦ Saves Money

I can spend anywhere from $3-10 for regular shaving cream, depending on what brand I buy, or I can buy a jar of coconut oil for $8. I save money buying the coconut oil because the jar of coconut oil is bigger than a can or tube of shaving cream, plus I can use way less product than I would need to if I used standard shaving cream. And like I said earlier, my legs are moisturized from applying coconut oil, so it keeps me from having to buy moisturizer.

 

CONS

✦ Clogs Razor and Takes Longer to Shave

Coconut oil is thicker than shaving cream and it doesn’t rinse out easily like soap would. It just clogs the razor and I then have to unclog it after every few strokes which then makes the shaving routine longer. And shaving is not a favorite task of mine to begin with.

 

✦ Makes the Shower Floor Slippery

Coconut oil is, well…an oil. Some of the oil may drip down my legs while shaving or drip when applying. This makes the shower floor slippery. So be careful to not slip and fall!

 

✦ Have to Shave More Frequently

I’m not sure why, but since using coconut oil as shaving cream, my hair has been growing faster. Having long hair on my head is great, however, not so much on my legs. To keep up with the frequent hair growth I am having to shave more frequently.

 

Despite having so many pros, the cons may be enough to make someone not want to shave with coconut oil, however it is the most natural and cheapest alternative I have found to conventional shaving cream and wanted to share my experience for anyone who is interested in giving it a try. I hope this post was found helpful and be sure to leave down in the comments what your experience was with shaving with coconut oil!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Mindful and Productive Activities to do During Lockdown

    *Sigh*…the year 2020…we haven’t been off to a good start have we? While life hasn’t changed too much for me and my family at home, it has changed so much for many other families. My boyfriend and I still leave the house to go to work as we both work at grocery stores (it is considered an “essential business”), and then we come back home pretty much to our normal routines. But so many other people do not have it that way. They have lost their jobs temporarily and are not having an income, have to delve into the foreign concept of homeschooling the kids as school’s are shut down, and in some areas are forced to stay at home at all costs or will be jailed or fined. Basically, life for so many people right now is pretty stressful and hectic, and sometimes, it can be hard to cope and come to terms with.

    We’re all living in a time of a global pandemic and have to self-quarantine. While others are loving this time away from work, school, and being home overall, it is sending others into extreme boredom and stir craziness. That is why I’ve come up with a list of some things I like to do on my free time, and that others may enjoy as well, to help beat the boredom and to take my mind off of things. Of course the list could go on and on of things you could do, but I wanted to make this a list of mindful activities that will lift your mood, boost your spirit, and leave you feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and productive.

Go on a walk. Where I live in Tennessee, we can still go outside, we just can’t be too close to other people (keeping a 6 foot distance or more) and all the parks are shut down. But taking a walk around the neighborhood is doable and enjoyable especially in the afternoon when the weather has cooled down and the sun is setting.

Do some art. This can be paint-by-numbers, adult coloring book, learn to draw or paint by watching tutorials on youtube, etc.

Learn a new language. I like to use Duolingo for online language learning.

Pamper yourself. Taking a relaxing bath with a face mask on and soft music in the background in a candle lit bathroom is an idea, but only you know what makes you feel pampered, so whatever it is, go for it!

Couples massage. This can be a hand and foot massage, shoulder massage, back massage, whatever your partner likes! Set the mood with oriental spa music and turn the lights off and have the room lit with candles. Take turns making each other feel good!

Have a game night with family or roommates

Watch an inspiring or educational documentary

Make a bucket list of all the places you would like to visit or the goals you would like to accomplish in your lifetime

Try a new recipe

Complete a puzzle

Exercise. This can be yoga, HIIT, crossfit, cardio, whatever you like!

Pray or meditate

Declutter and organize your home:

  •         Throw out all your expired products. This goes for food and makeup!
  •          Declutter your wardrobe and toss out clothes and shoes you no longer fit into, like, or wear.
  •          Get rid of excess towels and blankets
  •          Go through paper piles, folders, and files and toss what you no longer need
  •          Go through kitchen cupboards and drawers and get rid of duplicate appliances or anything you don’t use


Deep clean your home:
  •          Dust
  •          Mop
  •          Sweep
  •          Clean counter tops, windows, fan blades, etc.
  •          Wash and fold laundry
  •          Clean the inside of your microwave, oven, and fridge
Clean out and wash your car. Our cars can often be overlooked as something that needs decluttering/cleaning.

Digital clean:
  •          Clean out your inbox
  •          Organize your computer files
  • ·        Delete old contacts from your phone
  •          Unfollow any accounts that don’t inspire you on social media
Quit an unhealthy habit (smoking, drinking, caffeine, biting nails, eating junk food, surrounding yourself with and radiating negativity, etc.). Some of these are obviously harder to do as these are lifestyle changes and take extra inner work and willpower, but they are so worth it in the long run, and why not get started now?

Get to that pile of books you’ve been meaning to read

Take an online course in something you’ve been wanting to learn

Plan and start saving for a future vacation. I find travelling to be a very enriching experience.

Create family rituals and traditions

Rearrange your furniture

Update your resume

Do anything that you’ve been putting off or have been wanting to do and just “never had the time”. No more procrastinating. The time is now.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Common Household Items I Do Not Own | MINIMALIST LIVING


Every once in a while, a person may go through their belongings and realize they have items in their home that they never, or rarely use, and come to the conclusion they can live without it. Usually its little things like maybe a book, some clothes, or perhaps it’s getting rid of a few extra spoons or forks in the kitchen drawers.
Then there’s people like minimalists, who get rid of simple, everyday items that you think you “have to have” or “can’t live without”, and couldn’t imagine getting rid of just because everyone has them and that’s what a house is “supposed to have”. I was once one of those people, but after becoming a minimalist myself, I recently got rid of a lot of things in my home that I realized I didn’t really need after all. So today I am going to share with you the common household items that I do not own. I also have a video version on my YouTube channel here.

COFFEE TABLE
A coffee table is looked upon as such a necessity. I have never been in a home where there wasn’t one. Most people I have seen use them to hold books, flowers, a candy jar, or the remotes to the TV. We had a coffee table that we never used except to eat on as a table occasionally, so we realized if it isn’t being used, and isn’t a necessity, why keep it around? Our living room looks so much bigger than before and I love the new open space we have!

DISH DRYING RACK
This is something I realized I have never seen a home without, yet it is something I don’t really see the point in. I see the point in having to dry the dishes, but I find laying the dishes on a clean towel on the counter works just as fine.

VARIOUS KITCHEN APPLIANCES (such as a toaster, coffee maker or k cup machine, skillet or griddle, and waffle maker)
All of the above I found are very common because out of all my friends and family, I have never seen a house without them - yet we do not own them because: we found the oven works as a toaster just fine, we don’t drink coffee and never have enough people over to keep the coffee maker around for guests, we use the stovetop instead of a countertop skillet and griddle, and a waffle maker because we just don’t make waffles.

LANDLINE
With everyone into cell phones now, landlines are something you do not hear about anymore, yet it is something everyone still seems to have. Every single one of my friends and everyone in my family has a landline. I feel like I am the only person who doesn’t. Funny thing is I always see it in people’s homes, yet it is never used, and they even agree to not using it. Why have something you don’t use?

HAIR HEATING/HAIR FRYING PRODUCTS (such as a hair dryer, curling iron, and straightener)
As I am a woman, it surprises people that I do not own a blow dryer, straightener, and curler. The main reason is I do not like to apply heat to my hair as it is unhealthy for it, but I also simply have no use for all three. I let my hair air dry, my hair is already straight, and my hair won’t hold a curl for more than 10 minutes no matter how much hair spray I put in.


DINING ROOM TABLE

This one is probably the most shocking, and that is not having a dining room table. Who is savage enough to not own a dining room table and chairs? Me. We had one and never used it. It just sat there taking up half the kitchen not being used. Even guests wouldn’t use our table or chairs, so we finally got rid of them. We eat dinner on the couch either using TV trays or just simply putting our plates in our laps. Our daughter still uses a high chair, but when she gets older we’ll probably even eat on the floor, picnic style.

DUSTER
A duster I see every now and again, yet every time I see one it makes no sense to me and I wonder how often it even gets used. They don’t pick up dust, it just spreads it around.
  
IRON AND IRONING BOARD
I really don’t know what to say for this one other than I just have no reason to iron my clothes.


SOFTENER AND DRYER SHEETS

You probably couldn’t imagine doing the laundry without softener and dryer sheets, but trust me, the clothes turn out just fine without them. I don’t notice a difference in softness, color, or static, but I also wash my clothes in cold water, so maybe that also makes a difference? For me it also saves money not having to buy them periodically. 

Once I realized I could live without these things, and hardly used them in the first place, it felt so good to let them go. My home is becoming more spacious without becoming empty, there’s less to clean and keep up with, and everything in my home I love and is put to use on a regular basis. It’s such a wonderful feeling and I encourage you reading this to take a look at the things that are in your home, evaluate how much you actually need those items, and get rid of them if need be. Thank you for reading this post and I’ll chat to you in another one!


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Lazy Vegan Nachos Recipe



One of my favorite things to snack on before going vegan was nachos. My siblings and I would come home from school, grab a bag of chips, grab some shredded cheese, bake them together until the cheese was fully melted on top, and BOOM – afternoon snack! As much as I love nachos, I have not made them since going vegan. I’ve had them at vegan restaurants, but never made them at home. So last night I decided to give it a try and instead of looking up a recipe online, I created a recipe myself, which is what I am sharing with you today. My favorite of this dish is the fresh chips. My step-mother introduced me to this 2 ingredient recipe years ago and it has been a favorite since. SO much better than store bought. The guacamole is also a family favorite. You can add tomatoes to the guacamole if you would like, I just don’t much care for tomatoes. And the meat crumbles and cheese sauce taste so real, you wouldn't know they were vegan! I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how you enjoyed it!


GUACAMOLE
4 avocadoes
1 lime
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)
¼ medium onion (diced)
1/4 teaspoon salt

MEAT CRUMBLES
Oil for sautéing
¼ medium onion (diced)
1 8 oz package of vegan meat (I used 1 package of beyond meat burgers)
1 tablespoon taco seasoning (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon water

CHEESE SAUCE
½ cup water
1 package Chao Cheese Slices (or 7 oz of other vegan cheese of choice)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon modified corn starch
½ teaspoon hot sauce (I used The Original Louisiana Perfect Hot Sauce)

HOMEMADE CHIPS
1 package corn tortillas
Oil for frying
Salt to taste

ADDITIONAL/OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
Sliced jalapenos
Diced tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Vegan sour cream
Black olives

Step 1 - Add oil to a fryer, or frying pan if you don’t have a fryer, and turn it on medium-high heat. I put my fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. You are not frying the chips yet. Just getting the oil prepared and hot for later.

Step 2 - Prepare the guacamole.  Start by mashing the avocadoes, then add in the lime, cilantro, onions, and salt. Mix and you are finished! Set aside for later.

Step 3 - Start the meat. Add oil to a pan. Once hot, add onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add in the Beyond Burgers, or other vegan meat of choice. If your meat is in patty/burger form like mine, break down with a spoon into crumbles and cook until browned, about another 5 minutes. Add in taco seasoning and water and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn heat to low while you prepare the cheese sauce, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Step 4 - Start the cheese. Add water to a pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in cheese, nutritional yeast, corn starch, and hot sauce. Stir continuously until fully combined and melted.

Step 5 - Turn the heat off for the meat and cheese and set aside.

Step 6 - Prepare the chips. Take the whole package of corn tortillas and cut into fourths, making triangle chips. Add to the hot oil a little at a time and fry for about 30 seconds to a minute. They may not look done yet, but they will continue to cook once out of the fryer. If you let them turn brown in the fryer, they will end up being overcooked. Repeat this until all the tortillas are fried. Salt the chips if desired.

Step 7 – Assembly. Put half of the chips on a plate. Pour half the cheese sauce on top. Add half of the meat crumbles. Add the last half of chips. Add the last half of the cheese. Add the last half of the meat crumbles. Add a few dollops of guacamole on top, along with the additional, but optional, toppings of choice as listed above.

Step 8 – Eat up and enjoy!
If you would like to see this recipe in action, check out my YouTube video HERE!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe | Zero Waste Cooking


Since starting my zero waste lifestyle, I have become more conscious of the things I buy, like food for example. A lot of the foods we buy are packaged, like soups, sauces, tv dinners, flours, you get the idea. I now try and make most of my food from scratch and buy minimal to zero packaging. This also goes for spices and seasonings. I used to always get those little square packets of spice mixes for tacos but over a year ago started making my own, which is what I am going to be sharing with you today. Making your own food also allows you to be in charge of what goes in it. A lot of taco seasonings I would buy had extra flavorings, sugar, and caking agents, but my homemade version is just strictly spices. This recipe is also a bit large so it will need to be stored into a little glass container for later use. This is my favorite, and go-to taco seasoning recipe and I hope you like it as much as I do. Lets all try and reduce plastic and unnecessary packaging where we can!

Recipe:
6 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp ground cumin
5 teaspoon sea salt
5 teaspoon black pepper
2 ½ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
1 ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Step 1 – Add all measured out spices into a container.

Step 2 – Mix until fully combined and that’s it! Quick and easy!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Baby Must Haves | 6-12 Months



Just as it was the first six months of your baby’s life, these next six months will include many more new experiences, challenges, and milestones. These changes will require adding new gear and accessories to the mix to make yours and your baby’s life easier. Some mothers and fathers may have a different idea of what “essentials” they will and will not need for their baby, but below are some of the items that my family used to make life a little easier and less stressful.

ESSENTIALS
                                                                                                            Toys
The first six months of a baby’s life they don’t play with many toys, if any at all. At least mine didn’t. But sometime between the 6-12 month stage is a good time to get things like blocks, books, balls, and other small toys. To be honest, my daughter is 13 months old and she still isn’t a fan of toys, but there are some that she likes to play with on occasion. My favorites are her wooden toys like her activity cube, blocks, and musical puzzle. One of her favorites is her walker that she got for Christmas, which is something that I would recommend getting for your child. It exercises your child, helps with the walking process, and increases their balance and stability.

Baby Proofing Items
This is probably the most important of everything I will be discussing. Baby proofing items could include outlet covers, door handle covers, baby gates, cabinet and drawer locks, or something along those lines. This may also mean reorganizing the house or buying new furniture, like a TV stand with doors so the baby can’t drag things out of it. Whichever way you decide to baby proof your home, this is a must because once they are able to crawl, climb, and walk, they can and will get into everything they see and could potentially harm themselves if your house is not “baby friendly”.

                    Pack n’ Play
If you follow my blog or watch any of my YouTube videos, you may be tired of me talking about our pack n’ play, but I always include it because it has been an essential her entire life thus far. We use is as a bed mainly. It was her bed the first 3 months of her life, we’ve used it for babysitters so they have something to put Amelia down for a nap in, used it outside if we’re doing something like working on the car so she can be beside us but contained so she wouldn’t go anywhere, and used it as a bed in the countless hotels we’ve stayed at.

Teething Supplies
Another really important one is the need for teething supplies. Your child may already have had teeth coming in before, like ours did, but after the seven month mark they may start to come in at a faster rate, a few coming in at the same time even. This will cause a lot of pain for your child so it is important to have teething supplies to help them through this natural, yet painful, process. Some natural remedies for teething we use are putting frozen fruit, or even ice, in a pacifier/food feeder and letting her chew on it. The counter pressure along with the cold helps sooth sore and throbbing gums. We sometimes use gripe water to help with fussiness. During the teething process, your child to be will be cranky and some babies end up getting a fever, In this case, the best thing to do is make sure your child is staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest. You may use natural remedies or you may use medication, but whatever teething pain treatment you use, have some ideas or supplies on hand because this is something every parent will have to go through and being prepared is best.

Shoes
Shoes are pretty standard, but your baby never needed them before as they could not walk yet. Most likely your baby will be walking sometime between their 6 and 12th month, so when that happens, shoes will be a necessity.

Dishwashing Basket
Even though our dishwashing basket was gifted to us, I probably would have ended up getting one anyway after realizing how hard it would be to get all my daughter’s tiny bottle pieces clean. Before using the dishwashing basket, bottle pieces would fall off the top shelf of the dishwasher to the bottom and melt, and washing everything by hand would get time consuming, so having a dishwashing basket helped make the cleaning process smoother.

                                                                                High Chair
Another pretty common and standard item once your baby begins solid foods is a high chair. This was an essential for us because having a high chair meant the mess stayed in one spot of the house rather than letting our child run around the house free with food, leaving crumbs and puree behind. It’s also nice to have a place to set your baby to eat so that way you can eat beside them peacefully.

Eating Utensils
The six month mark is when it is recommended to feed our babies solids, so along with needing a high chair, feeding utensils, such as sippy cups and baby spoons, will be needed. Make sure to hand the baby the spoon. It will be messy but good fun for your child!

Toothbrush and Paste
At the start of your baby’s sixth month they may not have many teeth, if any at all, but by the end of the year they will have a mouthful! Keep your baby’s teeth and gums healthy by brushing them. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and safe-to-swallow toothpaste.

NICE-TO-HAVES
                                            Baby Carrier
Although the next two items were not “essentials” for us, meaning we could live without them, they were nice to have. I love baby wearing but my daughter was always too small for her baby carrier and I couldn’t use it the first eight months of her life. After she could fit into it, though, I used it a lot. I would mainly use it to take her out on walks, but I also would use it around the house when she wanted to be held but I was in the middle of something that required two hands, like cooking and doing the dishes.

Shopping Cart Cover
The last I will mention is a shopping cart cover. We didn’t use this every shopping trip, but we always kept it in the car “just in case”. However, this was especially good during flu season as shopping carts are a very germy device. So many babies sit in the cart and chew on the seat buckles and everyone’s hands touch the bar handles to push the cart. You never know if someone is sick or how often they wash their hands, so putting a cart cover on the shopping cart helps minimize the risk of catching something.





I hope this list helped someone out and gave some helpful tips on what you might and will be needing for your baby during this time. I also have a video version discussing this same topic, among many others, on my YouTube channel. Thank you for reading this post and leave down in the comments what your baby’s 6-12 month essentials are!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Planning a Disney World Vacation on a Budget



Disney…the Happiest Place on Earth. It’s where everyone dreams of visiting and wishes to go back, but anyone who has ever visited a Disney Park knows how expensive and unaffordable it can be. This post is for anyone who wants to make the big trip to Disney World, or any Disney park for that matter, but is hesitant because of the cost, and even the person who isn’t too concerned about the cost, but is still hoping to spend less overall. Over the many years that I have religiously gone to Disneyland, I have acquired some money saving advice I would like to share with you to make your Disney experience magical while still keeping in within the budget and to make your trip possible to begin with. So let’s get started!

#1 GET YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE
Almost always, you can buy amusement park tickets at a lower cost. Disney World is no different. Before buying your Disney tickets, shop around online. Go on the Disney website to see Disney’s ticket prices, then look on other websites to see if you can get them at a price cheaper than that. You may not save much, maybe only $10 per ticket, but it is still worth it especially if you are a budget traveler and trying to lower the overall cost of the trip. Even if you do decide to buy your tickets at Disney’s full price, do not wait to get them at the gate. Still buy them online that way you can avoid extra wait times to get into the parks. You’d have to wait in line to get your tickets, then wait in another line to check your bags, then another line to get inside the parks. By getting tickets in advance you can eliminate one of those lines. We purchased our Disney tickets at the parks when I was growing up and this added 1-2 hours to get inside the parks once we got there. Now that we always buy our tickets in advance, it only takes us 20 minutes max to get inside.

#2 SKIP PEAK TIMES
Peak times are the most expensive time to travel to Disney. The tickets, Disney restaurant and park food, hotels, and sometimes even flights, will all raise prices. Check out this website on the best and worst times to visit Disney World to plan your trip accordingly and make it budget-friendly for you. Even if you can afford the extra cost, keep in mind how much longer lines will be during peak times, which is never fun.

#3 DON’T GET THE PARK HOPPER PASS
One last tip on buying your Disney tickets is do not get the park hopper pass. Hopping between parks at Disney World is time-consuming and expensive, as the park hopper pass adds $55 per ticket. You will save money by visiting one park per day and in turn will also experience more by not rushing around from park to park.

#4 STAY AT AN OFFSITE HOTEL
While there are many advantages to staying on property, including quick and free transportation to the parks, extended park hours not available to regular Disney guests, and complimentary airport shuttles, the extra cost isn’t worth it if you’re going to spend most of your waking hours at the park. Disney resorts and properties start around $200 a night, so staying off-site will certainly save money. We stayed at the Enclave Hotel and Suites which was about 15-20 minutes away from the Disney parks and around $80 per night, and we loved it. We stayed in a two bedroom room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking a lake, equipped with a kitchenette and utensils, and accommodations included free breakfast, a gym, restaurants, a pool, and more. This hotel is also down the street from the world’s largest McDonald’s, so that was kind of an interesting attraction all in itself. Staying at an off-site hotel also means you will be in the center of more attractions, if you’re planning on travelling to Orlando for more than just a Disney vacation. Even if you do decide to stay at a Disney resort, do not reserve it from the Disney website. Use booking.com, expedia.com, or another website for discounted prices. Also use Ebates to get cashback on your hotel reservation.

#5 DRIVE INSTEAD OF FLY
Although you can find cheap flights online, it is still hard to beat the cost of driving. For my family of 3, it was worth 9 hours of driving from Tennessee to Orlando to save the cost of 3 plane tickets and a rental car. We only spent about $80-90 on gas roundtrip, which saved us hundreds compared to flying. Of course you shouldn’t do this if you live all the way on the other side of the USA. It would still be cheaper to drive but it would also take about two days there and two days back, taking up half the trip just in travelling. If you live relatively close to Orlando however, or even a few states over, then driving is the way to go.


                       #6 BRING YOUR OWN FOOD
A big money saving tip is to bring your own food as Disney food prices are high. Just a vegan hot dog and small fries was about $15 and I was still hungry afterwards. A drink from another place was about $6. Small fruit cups and pineapple spears can be $5. All this really adds up over the course of the day and for each family member, so bringing your own food could save you a lot of money. My family and I bring reusable water bottles so we can fill up at the parks for free, as opposed to soda and juices which aren’t free, and we bring our own snack bars and fruit to eat during the day. I’m not saying to deprive yourself and to not try Disney food, because Disney food is amazing and you need to experience it if you haven’t! We will eat one to two meals at the park ourselves, but we’ve saved a lot at Disney parks by eating food we’ve brought ourselves for most of the day. This is better for our family anyway with mine and my daughter’s food allergies and with all of us being vegan.


#7 AVOID THE SOUVENIR SHOPS
My last tip is to avoid the souvenir shops because you or your kids will end up wanting something and end up spending more than if you just stayed out of them in the first place. We ended up walking into some of the shops “just to see what they had” since we had never been to Disney World before, and wanted to compare the shops between Disney World and Disneyland, and I ended up buying a sweatshirt and a picture frame, and just those two together were over $100. Another money saving tip is to bring your own sunscreen, strollers, and any essentials you might need so that way you don’t need to buy or rent anything last minute. Ask Disney workers to use your camera to take your picture with characters instead of having to buy them. Bring jackets for everyone for later in the night, even if it was hot during the day, so that way you’ll have one if you need it and won’t have to buy one last minute, like my $80 one.

The Disney parks are such a magical place, but are also money-suckers and can break the bank if you’re not careful. Although this was my first time to Disney World, I grew up with Disneyland and went almost every single day for years. So having some Disney experience, these tips not only apply to Disney World, but other Disney Parks as well. I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to check out my YouTube channel for a video on this topic as well as some of my other Disney videos that I will link below. Be safe, have fun, and save lots on your upcoming trip to Disney!