Hi! If you are coming from www.craftychelsea.com, don't be alarmed! This is my new site! You can find all of my old posts here, as well as new ones more focused on pregnancy and babies. If you are looking for something in particular, you can use the search box under my picture. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mommy Moments #2: One of Those Days

It's been one of those days.

One of those days when it rains all morning so you don't get any natural light until the afternoon.

One of those days when you both stay in pajamas until lunch because you don't have the energy to change.

One of those days when your toddler won't eat his lunch, but he wants cookies and crackers instead.

One of those days when you let him color with giant crayons and he sticks them in his mouth, resulting in green teeth.

One of those days when he locks himself in a room and you have to figure out how to get him out.

One of those days when he won't dance to his favorite song.

But you know what makes it all worth it? When he calms down and finally sits still long enough to fall asleep in your arms while you read to him. One of those good days.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What to Pack in Your Baby's Hospital Bag

Last week I told you everything that I packed in my hospital bag, both with Little J and now with our baby who is due in three weeks. Today, I am going to share with you what to pack in your baby's hospital bag! Because yes, I highly recommend having two separate bags. You will want to be able to find everything easily while you are at the hospital, so it just makes a lot of sense to pack things separately. Trust me.

Before I tell you my lists and if this is your first baby, I recommend using your diaper bag as your baby's hospital bag. It's nice because you can get some of the stuff in there that you want to pack in a diaper bag anyway, and second, it is the perfect size (at least mine was). I also was eager to start using my cute diaper bag, so packing things for baby in the diaper bag just made sense. But for baby girl, since I was going to need to bring my diaper bag places up until I went to the hospital bag, I just chose another bag to fill for her hospital bag.

Okay. One more thing. I packed a lot of things for Little J when we went to the hospital. I used almost none of it. I do think it is important to be prepared just in case you do need something or you decide you want to change them into new clothes from home every day, but you should also ask your hospital before what kinds of things they provide. For example, diapers and wipes are things that I am guessing all hospitals provide you with. But really, check with your hospital before you decide not to pack something.

Alright so now I will tell you what I packed the first time, what I actually used the first time, and what I am packing the second time in my baby's hospital bag. Please read all lists because you may find that you will want to pack some things that I am leaving out my second time. It really just depends on the person and your preferences!

2 Pairs of Pajamas. The button-up ones are best for newborns and little babies because when you change their diapers you don't have to take their whole outfit off. Buttons are best.
Going Home Outfit. I packed a hat, a onesie, and pants. This was something the Mister and I had fun picking out together because the going home outfit is special! Too bad for us, Little J didn't was too small for his going home outfit.
Diapers. Our hospital provided diapers, but I packed some anyway. And I didn't use them at all. So they took up space in my bag. It just depends on if your hospital provides them or not.
Wipes. Same thing as the diapers. I didn't use them at all.
A&D Ointment. This is a really helpful thing to have if you have a boy and are planning on getting him circumcised. You use it a lot to help protect their little man parts from sticking to the diaper. I can't remember if the hospital provided some, but I'm sure they did. But it's still nice to have some if you are circumcising your boy.
2 Bibs. I didn't use these at all because Little J wasn't big on spitting up, and I didn't put them on him when he was nursing. I don't think you really need a bib when you are nursing unless your baby spits up a lot. But burp rags are the most helpful with that.
2 Burp Rags. I definitely used these. I actually ended up tucking them into my nursing bra so that whatever Little J leaked out of his mouth just got on the burp rag and not all over my nursing bra. Very helpful.
Blanket. We ended up using the blanket we brought for Little J's newborn photos. We didn't use it for anything else, but it was nice to have a blanket for that.
Receiving Blanket. We didn't use this at all because the hospital had little blankets to swaddle Little J in.
2 Extra Hats. The hospital has hats, but you want to make sure your little baby stays warm and hats are really important in that. Plus you can bring cuter hats than the hospital has.
2 Pairs of Socks. Baby's toes can get cold too, so you want to bring a few pairs of socks, especially if you dress baby in clothes you bring from home while you are there.
2 Pairs of Mittens. Babies have sharp nails, and it is super duper hard to file them or clip them when they are little. If you have your baby wear tops that have built-in mittens then you won't really need them to wear mittens as well, but in tops without those little fold-over mittens, you want to put mittens on them. Otherwise they will scratch their little faces.
2 Pacifiers. I'm actually not sure why I packed these because I didn't plan on using pacifiers for our baby until he was a few weeks old. If you are nursing your baby you might not want to give them a pacifier for a few weeks, but if you are going to give them a bottle from the beginning, pacifiers are fine.
Lotion. The hospital had lotion, so I didn't need this, but it might be nice to have a small little bottle for baby just in case. But you can call the hospital and see if you need to bring some.
Baby Wash. This is a pretty unnecessary thing to pack, because they help you give your baby its first bath while you are there, and they will have baby wash for you/the nurses to use.
Boppy. Super important to bring. Using a Boppy makes a huge difference in nursing. It is a million times better than using just a regular pillow, and I definitely recommend bringing a Boppy.

First, here is a dramatic picture of everything I did and did not use from my baby's hospital bag the first time. (Sorry the picture's not great, it was before I started blogging!)

So it's pretty obvious I only used a few things:
Pair of Pajamas. The outfit we brought for Little J to go home in was actually too big, so we ended up using one of his pajamas as his going home outfit. No big deal. He still was adorable. And we kept him in the baby sleep sack things the hospital gave us while we were there because they made it easy to change his diaper and they had built in mittens. And they covered his feet. So they pretty much eliminated having to use mittens, socks, and pajamas.
Blanket. We actually only used this for newborn photos at the hospital. They had blankets there, which is why we didn't use the receiving blanket I brought. But it was nice to have one special blanket for the pictures.
Hat. The hospital gave us hats, but I used one hat we brought for Little J's going home outfit. It was March so he needed some protection!
Burp Rags. I pretty much would not ever try and nurse Little J without a burp rag, so these definitely got used while we were at the hospital.
Boppy. Not pictured above because I packed it with my stuff in my hospital bag, but I definitely used this thing. So helpful!

3 Pairs of Pajamas. The first time I just had Little J stay in the outfits the hospital had, but I am going to bring three pair of pajamas for our little baby girl in case I want to change her into little girly outfits. And she can just stay in them all day and night. And I am bringing 3 because they are all different sizes (preemie, newborn, 0-3). You never know how big your baby is going to be, and I want to be prepared no matter what.
Going Home Outfit. We have a perfect little coral dress picked out for baby girl, and it's small enough that I think we'll be okay if she is small, too!
3 Burp Rags. I loved the burp rags I made for Little J, and I made some more for baby girl (check back in two weeks to see how I made them!). These were really helpful when I was nursing Little J, and if baby girl ends up being a spitter-upper, I will be prepared!
Blanket. I wanted a nice blanket for pictures again, so I packed a cute blanket that would look good with the outfit I got for her pictures.
Outfit for Pictures. I didn't pack one of these last time because we just had Little J in the outfit the hospital had, and then a few just wrapped in the blanket, but I wanted to make sure that this time I was prepared! We have a little ruffle lace romper and I can't wait to see how she looks in it!
Extra Hat. I know the little pink hospital hat will be cute, but I wanted to bring another hat for her that was different.
2 Pairs of Mittens. If I do end up changing baby girl out of the hospital outfits, then I want to make sure she has some mittens so she doesn't scratch up her little face.
Boppy. Since I am planning on nursing baby girl, I am definitely bringing this.
Hair Bows and Headbands. Pretty much an essential when you are having a baby girl, right? Yeah, no explanation needed.

So there you have it! There's what I packed the first time we went to the hospital, what we used from that first time, and what I packed this time for baby girl. I hope that it is helpful to see what I packed, what I didn't use, and what I still packed again. Everyone is different with what they will use, and I really do recommend calling the hospital to see if they will have diapers and wipes and lotion and the like for your baby. Those things take up quite a bit of space in your bag, so if you don't have to pack them, all the better!! Anyway, good luck at the hospital and with your new baby!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pretty Mama #1: Younique 3D Mascara Review

I received free product in exchange for this post, however, all opinions are true and 100% my own!

Welcome to the first post in my Pretty Mama Series! As busy moms it can be hard to always look your best, especially when you frequently don spit up and baby food on your clothes and in your hair. So I wanted to do a series of posts showing that even as a busy mom, you can still feel pretty! Today, I am talking about how mascara can completely change your look and brighten your face! Hooray!

photo taken by Kandice Stewart Photography

Growing up I was always on the lookout for how to get big lashes. I wasn't blessed with long eyelashes like my husband and son, so I have been forced to try and amp up what I was given. In high school I tried lots of different combinations of lengthening and volumizing mascaras from Sephora, but I was never satisfied with how my lashes turned out. And false lashes? No way. So for the past few years I have been using Covergirl Lash Blast Volume, and while it still is not what I want, it is fine and I live with it.

A few months ago one of my friends posted about some 3D mascara with some pictures that showed how crazy amazing her eyelashes looked with it. (Read more about it here). I was interested, but had other things going on so I decided to wait on it. Then last month another one of my friends asked me if I wanted to do a post about some of the 3D mascara. I had no problem saying yes, because I regretted not trying it in the first place. I knew that once again, my hope of having gorgeous big eyelashes was possible!

When my friend dropped it off, I knew it was different immediately. It came in a cute little case and seemed so fancy! I couldn't wait to give it a try.

Last week I tried the Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara for the first time, and I was completely blown away. I took some pictures of my eyelashes with no mascara, my regular mascara, and then the Younique 3D Mascara and when I compared them, the results were super obvious.

My eyelashes were super long and had so much volume! And honestly, it only took like two more minutes to put it on than regular mascara. You just put on one coat of regular mascara, then a coat of the transplanting gel, then brush on some of the fibers, and then another coat of transplanting gel to seal them in. Way easier than trying to struggle with false eyelashes, and you still get that big lash look! And I like this mascara because on their website they list all the ingredients so there's no big secret to what is in it. Oh, and it's all natural, so even better!

It can be hard sometimes to get ready and still look nice when Little J is running around in our room pulling his paints out of the desk drawers and trying to climb up on the bed. But since it really didn't take much longer for me to use this mascara, and the results are super obvious, there's no way I wouldn't recommend this to busy moms. I was worried a bit after I put them on about how hard it would be to wash the mascara off at night, but it came right off with warm water, and I didn't feel like I had any residue (and I never saw any on my pillow!). Another cool thing is that you can wear this mascara for two days and it still looks great even on the second day!

And here's another day where I used the mascara, so you can see it works EVERY TIME!

So now guess what. I am having a party for you to order some of your own! Yes, the mascara is $29, but the best part is that the company has a "Love It" guarantee. If you don't love your mascara after 14 days, you can send it back and get your money back. But honestly, I don't think anyone is not going to love this! They sell over 6,000 tubes of mascara a day! It's amazing, and they say your lashes get up to 300% bigger. Yes please.

And if you are sort of unsure about all the different brands of 3D mascara, here is a lovely little comparison and review video to show you how amazing the Younique brand really is!

Yeah, so like she said in the video, the fibers are kind of weird and it's different than putting on regular mascara, but it really works and it makes your eyelashes look amazing! I highly HIGHLY recommend this Younique 3D mascara because the results really do speak for themselves. I love it! It really is easy and worth the money and is a fast way to really look like you took a lot of time getting ready.

Okay, so the party. Yes, it is called a party for a reason! All you have to do is click the link in the next ten days, and then buy some amazing mascara! And if you want to get free shipping, you can get three other people to buy it with you and then your order will be over $100, so that qualifies for free shipping! Neat, huh? So share with your friends and you can all look amazing together! Or not, and you can just look amazing by yourself, too! Either way, I am just excited to share this easy way to look even more beautiful in a short amount of time. Moms can be gorgeous even though they are busy!

If you want to check out the party and order some Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara, here is the link:

The party will be active for the next 10 days, so it will end on August 23rd. If you miss out and decide you still want some, you can click here and still get some! Really, I highly recommend trying this mascara because you won't be sorry, and everyone will notice your big gorgeous lashes!

Monday, August 11, 2014

What to Pack In Your Hospital Bag

I've mentioned this before, but before Little J was born, I had my bags packed and ready to go a month before my due date. I spent hours looking at what other people had said to pack in my bag and in his bag, and honestly, not a lot of it was helpful. I packed what people told me and when I got to the hospital, I didn't use half of it, and I ended up bringing things that I didn't even take out of the bag. With baby girl, I have changed a few things on my list (she is due in 30 days so I just packed my bag and have it ready to go!), and I feel like I know pretty well what I am going to need and what is going to help me the most while I am at the hospital since I have already done this once before.

First, I have a big tip for you. Pack everything you can live without for a month, and set that aside. Then, for things like your camera or phone charger, write those all on a little list and put them on top of your bag so that when the time comes to head out, you have a list of what you need to grab and you won't forget anything. This was awesome when the time came for us to head to the hospital because we weren't scrambling to remember what we needed to bring and it was easy to just throw it all together and head out the door. So really, pack everything you can live without for a month, and then make a little list of the other things you will need to grab before you leave.

I have broken it down into three lists: What you definitely want to pack in your hospital bag, what you will want to write on a little note to pack right before you leave, and then things I didn't use the first time I went to the hospital, but I am still packing the second time anyway.

Bag of travel-sized toiletries. Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, lotion, contact solution (if needed), deodorant, face wash, things you use every day pretty much. It is really nice to just buy travel-sized ones because they take up less space, and you can already have them packed when it's time to head out.
Slippers. Hospital floors can be both cold and germy, so you will want to grab some slippers. They are also nice to have when you wake up at night to go to the bathroom and when you want to leave your room and go out in the hall.
Socks. Your hospital room might be chilly at night or you may just have a thing about wearing socks when you are sleeping (like me). So pack a few pairs of socks that you can wear while you are there. This helps especially if you don't want to bring slippers.
Notebook and pen. The nurses and doctor tell you a lot of information before you leave the hospital. And you also might have a lot of questions before you leave the hospital. So it's nice to have a special place to write any information down so that you have it in one place and won't lose it when you get home.
Folder. You get a lot of paperwork when you have a baby, and it was really helpful for me to have a folder where I could put it all so I didn't crush it in my bag or lose it while we were there. 
Outfit to go home in. Obviously you can't wear the lovely hospital gowns home, so make sure you bring an outfit for yourself to go home in. I highly recommend something loose that you wore during pregnancy. I brought some pants and a shirt that I wore in the beginning of pregnancy and they were both way too tight, making me feel extra fat and bad about myself. So maybe some maternity pants or sweatpants and a big t-shirt. You really don't have to look cute, I promise.
Plastic bag for laundry. If you are like me you will want a place to store your dirty clothes so you don't have them just randomly spread around in your bag. This makes it a lot easier once you get home from the hospital, too. Less time spent unloading your bag!
Nursing pads. When your milk first comes in, it is like a waterfall and it is very leaky as your body adjusts to how much your baby will drink. So bring some nursing pads (you can read more about my recommendations here) so that you aren't leaking through all your shirts.
Nursing bras. While it is possible to nurse your baby using regular bras, nursing bras are the best! They clip down so you can just reveal one at a time and that way you don't have to awkwardly move your bra around to feed your baby. They are very important to have. Again, you can read my recommendations here.
Lanolin. This is probably one of the most important things! Our hospital gave me a tiny sample, but it is nice to have your own in case your hospital doesn't give you any or you lose the sample or something. But lanolin is really helpful in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. So make sure you bring some.
Hair ties. You get pretty sweaty during labor, and depending on how long your hair is, I bet you won't want it in your face. Hair ties are also helpful during nursing and if you decide (like me) that you aren't really keen on showering much while you are at the hospital.
Underwear you don't care about. Preferably big and cottony. Our hospital gave me some big mesh ones that were really stretchy and nice, but if you don't want to wear those or you don't think they are comfy, it is important to have some underwear you won't care about. Why? Because birth gets messy and for a few days after you will have some bleeding. Yes, you will have pads down there, but if they leak then you don't want to be ruining your favorite underwear. Plus, since things get very sensitive after birth, you want to make sure you have comfy underwear that won't be suffocating your lady parts.
Birth plan. A birth plan is a paper that tells the nurses at the hospital what you want and don't want to do during labor and postpartum. Things it may include are "I want to use the birth ball" or "I want a mirror so I can watch the birth" (which I definitely did not highlight). Some hospitals provide papers for you to fill out, but if you don't get one of those beforehand, you can just print off one online and bring your own. It is nice to have because you can just give it to the nurse and they will know what you had planned. Of course things may change during labor and you may not be able to follow everything, but it is good to have a plan.
iPod or music. Labor can take a long time, and you may way music either to pass the time or to help you relax during contractions. And make sure you either charge your iPod or have batteries for whatever it is you are bringing to play music.
Boppy. I loved my Boppy. It helped me so much, especially in the beginning of breastfeeding when I was trying to figure out the best way to hold Little J and to get comfortable myself. I have tried using just a pillow and it really is not the same. So get a Boppy and make sure you bring it to the hospital so that you can start breastfeeding off on the right foot.

Makeup. I guess it depends on the person, but I wanted to make sure I didn't look how I felt when I was at the hospital. And it actually was nice for me to be able to wash my face and do my makeup at the start of each day. It was sort of a confidence and a morale booster every morning.
Camera and charger. A camera is one of the most important things you can bring to the hospital. You want to document your time there (maybe not the during labor part) so you can remember it later. We got pictures before my labor got intense, and then right after baby was born, and of course pretty much every minute until we left the hospital. And make sure you bring your charger! And if your memory card isn't super big, it's not a bad idea to bring a second one. You will be taking lots of pictures, I promise.
Phone and charger. Again, super important. I'm sure you'll want to tell all your family members who aren't there with you pretty soon after the baby is born. My phone was also a good distraction in the beginning of labor, too. And don't forget your charger because your phone is going to be super busy getting calls and texts of congratulations after your baby is born. And if it dies, you will be sad and it's better not to have to send your husband home to get it for you.
Toothbrush. Obviously you need to use this up until you leave the house for the hospital, and you will definitely want it while you are at the hospital. I don't think it needs much explanation.
Contacts. Ideally these will already be in your eyes, but if you have to go to the hospital at night, make sure you grab them. You don't want to have to wear your glasses the whole time you are at the hospital (at least I didn't).
Glasses. Again, you will want to grab these so that when you are tired you can take out your contacts and still have a way to see if you need to.
Tablet or laptop (for entertainment in case your labor takes a long time). This isn't necessary, but it can be helpful if you want to make sure you have things to do during labor. I have a friend whose labor took a really long time and she and her husband watched a few movies before labor got too intense to keep watching. Especially if it's your first baby and you don't know how long it will take, it's nice to have something to do while at the hospital!
Wallet/purse. I'm not going to explain why you need this. I think it's pretty obvious.

Shower things. Okay, so it's possible that I only showered once while we were there and I used the stuff they had there because it was just a quick shower. But in my defense, I was super sore and wasn't really going anywhere so I wasn't getting dirty or sweaty or anything. And I did shower as soon as we got home. But maybe this time will be different and I will want to shower daily like normal, so I am planning on bringing shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (travel size, see above). You never know!
Flip-flops for the shower. Hospital floors gross me out, and hospital shower floors are no exception. Of course I forgot to get my flip-flops the one time I showered, but I am definitely bringing them again.
Pajamas. Honesty, I just stayed in the nice hospital gowns they had the whole time we were there. I changed into a new one every day, but they were just so comfy and light and loose that I wanted to stay in them all day and night. But I am planning on bringing pajamas in case I feel like I want to wear them, because you never know!
A few changes of clothes. This explanation is pretty much the same as above, so I'm not going to repeat it. But I am bringing them again in case I want to change.
Jacket. Our rooms were the perfect temperature so I didn't ever need my jacket, but I was glad I brought one. Have you ever been in a hospital that was cold? Yeah not fun. So if your room does turn out to be a bit chilly, you may want to bring a light jacket. It's also a good idea to make sure it's a zipper one, or one that opens in the front so you won't have to take it off to nurse.
Big absorbent maxi pads. The hospital provided me with some of these which is why I didn't use the ones I packed, but I am bringing them again just in case. Every hospital is different and you may not like the ones that you are given, or you may not be given any. And you will want these for all that leakage your body will be doing after birth. Trust me. They are fantastic and necessary.

So those are the things I highly suggest you pack in your hospital bag.

Come back next week to see what I am packing in our baby girl's hospital bag!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

DIY Growth Chart Ruler

Something that I never had in my home growing up was a place where we measured the growth of my sister and me. We lived in the same house from the time I was 5-18, so you would think that we would have been smart enough to mark it every now and then. But alas, we were not. So when our son was born I knew that I wanted to document his growth. The only problem is that since the Mister is in medical school, we will be moving around for the next few years. So after searching Pinterest for an answer, I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

I love love love the idea of making your own growth chart, especially one that looks like a giant ruler! I think it's super cute and is a great way to mark how tall your kids are when you know you won't be in the same house for their whole childhood. Plus, it is way cheaper to make your own and it really is not that hard. You only need a few things to make it and it's also way cooler to tell someone you made the awesome growth ruler hanging in your home than that you bought it.

First, you need to get all of your materials together. You will need:
  • Board
  • Wood stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Stencil
  • Black paint
  • Sawtooth hangers
After you have everything you need, you will need to stain your board. The easiest way to do this is to place both ends on two chairs in an open and well-ventilated area. For me, this was in our garage with the door wide open (because pregnancy and staining boards do not mix well). It was nice to have it elevated because then I could get the edges while I did the top and I didn't have to worry about it getting all over the floor.

The stain I used was a small little 8 oz. Minwax stain in the Golden Oak color. It was only like $3 and it gave my board the perfect look with just one coat.

I stained one side and one edge at a time, and let the board dry completely in between. Depending on where you do your staining, it may take a while. In Iowa, it is humid so I let my board dry 24 hours before I flipped it over for the next side.

Once it was dry, I brought it inside to get ready to paint the lines and numbers. And Little J couldn't resist getting involved in the pictures!

The first step is to mark your board where you want each line. It would probably be easiest to do this all at once, but of course I didn't do that. I started by marking the 1' lines, then lines every 6", then lines every inch. And a tip for this: depending on how tall you want your board to be, you may want to have your board hanging at a different position than mine. My board ended up being hung between 2.5' and 7.5'. Chances are our kids won't be that tall, but I wanted the board to be high enough so it wouldn't be messed with by littles, and I also wanted it to be taller than 6.5' because the Mister and I are both tall. Basically, if you want your board to be from 2-7' or from 1-6', your first foot mark needs to be a foot in from the end. If you want your board to be from 1.5-6.5' or from 2.5-7.5' like mine, then your first food mark needs to be six inches in from the end. And if you are still confused, draw it out on a piece of paper and it will make more sense. So again, for my board, I did the first foot mark 6 inches in. Each line is 2.5" long as well.

If you will notice in the above picture, I made another mark 1/4" away from my first foot mark. This is because you want the lines once they are painted to be thicker than the rest. I quickly realized that you don't want to center the lines over the foot mark because if you do that, the foot marks will actually be a little less than the height they are supposed to be when hung up. So as you make your lines, you will want to paint your lines a little bit above the measured marks instead of below. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!

As you measure the rest of your foot marks, use your ruler and measure them 1 foot away from the first line you marked. If you do it from the second line, your ruler will not be accurate and there will be more than 1' between your lines. Again, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! See below. And I made the lines darker so you can see where they are. The lines on the right of those dark lines are the ones you will need when painting that are 1/4" in from the first.

Okay so I hope that makes sense. Mark your foot marks all the way to the end of your board when you can't make any more marks. Next, you will want to do the inch marks. On my board, I made the six inch marks a little bit shorter than my foot marks and a little bit longer than my one inch marks. The six inch marks are also a little bit thinner than my foot marks, and the one inch marks are the thinnest of them all (if that doesn't make sense, look at the finished pictures of the board and it will). In the below picture, you will see the painted foot marks (you don't have to paint yours yet) and the marks I made every inch in between. My six inch marks are __ inches long and my one inch marks are __ inches long.

So now you have all of your marks on your board and you can begin painting! Yay! Just use a THIN paintbrush and black paint. If you don't use a thin brush, you will regret it. Trust me, I have messed up fatty ugly marks on the back of my board because I messed up and didn't use a thin brush.

Once you have all your lines painted, it is time to break out your stencil and get those numbers on your board. My board hangs at 2.5", so my first foot mark is at 3 and my last one is at 7. If you are starting at an even foot, you will only have three numbers to add on. Lay your stencil on your board and paint over it. Slowly peel the stencil back and you will have a beautiful number.

Paint all of your numbers and you are done! Yay! You now have a beautiful handmade growth ruler to hang in your home and chart your littles' growth. To hang up your growth ruler, you can use sawtooth hangers. I just nailed two into the back top and it was good to go!

And there you have it! A beautiful, homemade growth ruler that can travel with you from home to home. And even if you aren't planning on moving when your kids are young, it's still a cute way to display your family's growth!

Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Survive Your Husband's Second Year of Medical School

When the Mister finished his first year of medical school, I felt like I had learned a lot. I thought it had been kind of rough on both of us but I learned a lot about how to get through it. Then second year started. Now that it is over, I have put together a list of how to survive your husband's second year of medical school! Yay!

1. Listen to him. Yes, it can be hard to listen to your husband tell you what he learned at school that day. Mostly always it goes right over my head. But if your husband is anything like the Mister, he studies by himself almost all day every day, so when he gets home and wants to talk, you need to listen. And I don't mean half-listening while you are playing a game or thinking of other things. You need to really listen to him and give good feedback. Because not only is that just part of being a good wife, it is also just a good thing to do in any relationship. And sometimes husbands just need to vent about how hard a test was or how they don't understand something. And if you really listen to him, that will count and help him feel better.

2. Have a regular date night. And it doesn't always have to be just the two of you, either. Six nights a week I make dinner at home, and then usually on Fridays, we go out to dinner. We bring Little J with us, but it is really nice to be able to get out of the house and go do something special. I think for the Mister, it is sometimes something he looks forward to the whole week (especially if we are going to one of our favorite restaurants). And when you can, leave the kids at home and take time for just the two of you. We haven't done that very often but when we do, it is so worth it and makes a big difference.

3. Visit him at school. When your husband is a second year, he is busy. That sometimes means that he leaves for school at 7 in the morning and doesn't get home until 6 at night for dinner. Basically, you don't get to see him very much during the week. So take time to visit him at school. You can go have lunch with him, surprise him with a special treat, or even just stop by and say hi for a few minutes. I promise that even a few minutes will mean a lot. I wouldn't recommend doing that every day because it can be hard for husbands to study when they are interrupted by you actually being there, but once a week is a good routine to get into for visiting your husband at school.

4. Be involved with helping him choose his top rotation spots. This is a big deal because it determines where you will go live for the next two years. At the Mister's school, you rank your top 6 spots, and only 2 of the spots meant we would stay where we are for sure. So that meant we had to seriously consider where we would actually be okay with moving, and what the pros and cons of each rotation spot were. Seriously, this is a big deal so make it a priority when you are trying to figure out where you want to go (or stay). Look at location, the hospital/clinics he would be rotating at, how many spots are there, and how many residents are there. All of these things played a big part in how we chose the spots we wanted and what we ranked them as. It can be a stressful thing, so it's nice for you to help him out (and that way you won't be surprised if you end up having to move).

5. Help him study. This pretty much means be his patient and quiz him if he asks. I rarely (if ever) quizzed the Mister because I would always pronounce things wrong or ask bad questions. But when they are practicing for tests where they have to go and diagnose a pretend patient, it really helps for them to go through the motions with a person so they know how long things take and so they can get a feel for doing each test required. Every time my husband had one of these tests we would study together multiple times until he took the test. And it really did help him prepare because he was familiar with the procedures and format and everything. So try and help him study in any way that you can (and that he will let you). It can really pay off and it will give you more time with him when he has an upcoming test!

6. Know his test schedule. This is important for a variety of reasons. The Mister gets stressed and has to study more before his tests, so knowing when he had upcoming tests not only helped me know when he would be studying more, it also helped me know that if he got grumpy, it was because of a test and not something I did. You can also help him by making his favorite meals the night before his tests or packing him an extra good lunch that day. Even slipping little notes into his backpack or notebook can really help boost their confidence when they need it before those big tests. There were two separate months where the Mister had a ton of tests within the space of two weeks, and it really helped me to know when those tests were because I was able to give him extra support and help him stay positive when he was having a hard time. Knowing when your husband takes tests will help him and it will help you!

7. Let him study. What do I mean by this? When he is at school, do not constantly text him. When he is at home, do not constantly interrupt him by going in and out of the room. Sometimes this is hard when Little J keeps going back to the Mister's door and knocking on it crying for "dada" but we get through it. It is hard for husbands (at least mine) to study effectively if they keep getting interrupted. The Mister gets into a studying "zone" and it's better for him to just be left in it so he can get his work done faster and better. So when he is studying, let him study. It's okay to send an occasional text, but don't send one every hour. That is not going to help anyone.

8. Do things with your friends. Second year is definitely a busier year than first, especially as your husband starts preparing to take boards along with his regular classwork. So the amount of time you see him may decrease. The best way to handle this is to do things with your friends! I have two friends who moved out here at the same time and we were all pregnant at the same time and we go on walks, have craft days, and let our boys have playdates. It helps because it gives us something to do and it keeps us busy too, which is something that you also need to do while your husband is in school. Sitting at home all day every day is not healthy and it will probably bring you down a lot. And if you aren't a super social person, don't stress. I didn't used to hang out with friends very often in college but making a few good friends out here has really saved me. So be bold and find at least one other medical school wife to team up with. It really makes a difference, especially when your husbands all have a big test coming up and you need a break!

9. Make friends with the first years' wives. Remember how scary and unknown everything was when your husband first started medical school? You probably moved to a new place, didn't know anyone or where anything was, and had no idea what to do for fun there? Well there are all these new first years who have moved to your town with wives who are feeling exactly the same way you did at first! So make friends with them! Give them tips you've learned from your husband's first year and hang out with them and show them where all the delicious restaurants are. There weren't really any wives of second years around us when we moved in, but it would have been helpful to have someone to help me get adjusted. So be that person for all the first years' wives and it will be good for you and for them.

10. Make him take breaks. Sometimes the Mister has a hard time stepping away from studying and taking a break. So sometimes I have to make him take a break from studying and go to dinner or do something else fun. Especially because they can get so stressed and overwhelmed that they feel like they just constantly need to study, but you know that isn't going to be helpful when they can't focus or their confidence is draining. Taking a break from studying can help them clear their mind and get their focus back. I had to do this a few times with the Mister and it always paid off and helped him study harder and more effectively when he went back to studying. And I know I said let him study in tip seven, but you also need to make him take breaks when he needs it. Because sometimes having an outside perspective helps you see that they really do need to take a break or they won't get anything done. So just let him know that he needs to take a break (or tell him you need him to take a break if he won't listen!) and go do something fun to help him relax and clear his head.

11. Celebrate when he finishes boards. The summer after second year is when your husband will take his first round of board exams (step one). If your husband is anything like the Mister, he will be studying like crazy the weeks (and months) leading up to his test. So make it a big deal when he finishes! The board exams are harder and more important than any other test he has ever taken because the score he gets will determine what specialty he will be able to go into. It takes a lot of work and they get stressed and worry a lot, so make sure you celebrate when he is done. Do something you don't normally do, go to a more expensive restaurant, make it a good, happy time so he will be able to relax and enjoy being done with studying for that big giant test (until step two comes at least). Also, don't overschedule yourselves for the time he has off between finishing boards and starting rotations. You will want to just relax a bit and I promise you that trying to fit everything into your schedule is not going to be fun.

So those are my eleven tips on how to survive your husband's second year of medical school. Second year is harder than the first, but once it is over then it is over and you can be happy because your husband doesn't have to go to class anymore! We are looking forward to third and fourth year rotations and in a year I will make sure I come back with more tips!! Good luck ladies!

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Take a Roadtrip With a Toddler

This summer we are driving through five different states in order to visit my family and the Mister's family. That is a lot of miles. And when you have a toddler in the backseat, that is a lot of miles. We wanted to try and figure out the best way to make the drive and still be able to keep our sanity. We did half of the trip driving through the night, and half of the trip during the day. We learned a lot, and we learned which way is better! So we came up with a few tips on how to take a roadtrip with a toddler!

1. Drive at Night. The most important, helpful, and best tip I can give you is to drive at night. This is great for multiple reasons. First, your toddler can sleep the whole way and you won't have to worry about feeding him, listening to him cry because he wants to get out, or taking him out every time you stop to get gas. We first drove through the night over Christmas last year and it completely changed our road trip. The Mister and I were able to enjoy each other's company, Little J slept the whole way, and we only had to stop to use the bathroom and get gas. Another good thing about driving at night is that as long as you bring some snacks, you don't have to stop and buy a whole meal (or two). So the only times you do stop can be to fill up and then you can get back on the road quickly. Saving time and making things easy! Also, don't try and sleep for a few hours and then wake up at like three and then leave. We did this thinking Little J would go back to sleep in his car seat and he just sat and stared around for two hours. Then he only had two 45-minute naps the rest of the trip. He was good, but not every toddler will be good, so just plan ahead and get them to fall asleep in their car seat instead of crib in the first place.

2. Bring New Toys. In the chance that you can't drive at night, or that your child wakes up, make sure you bring a new new toys to distract your little. New toys are always great for long trips because toddlers seem more keen to play with them than their toys they already have. So a new toy can help distract your toddler from the fact that he is in a car seat (and has been for several hours).

3. Put Him in Comfortable Clothes. If you are going to be driving through the night, I highly suggest just putting your toddler in some pajamas. If not, other comfy clothes (like stretchy pants and a light t-shirt) are the best thing to dress your toddler in. Car seats straps are supposed to keep them in there tight and snug, so you want to give your toddler the comfort you can by dressing them in comfy clothes. I don't know about you but I am always in a better mood when I have comfy clothes on in the car. Why would a toddler be any different?  You pretty much want to take away all variables that can cause problems on a roadtrip.

4. Bring Snacks for You and Your Toddler. Before you leave, make sure you have good, healthy snacks to keep you and your toddler full and happy. My husband and I usually bring a cooler with drinks and a bag with different snacks. That way, we won't have to buy things on the way. The key here is variety. Bring both salty and sweet things. This is true for your toddler's snacks, too. Sometimes Little J is particular about what snacks he will eat, so you want to make sure you have a lot for them to choose from. Hopefully you can drive through the night and won't have to worry about feeding your toddler, but you will still need to eat so make sure you have some good energizing snacks.

5. Have Some Car Games Prepared. This is more for the adults in the car who are driving, but it always helps have some fun car games to help keep you awake while driving at night. There's the alphabet game (a little harder in the dark), the person, place, or thing game (our personal favorite), 20 questions, or the picnic game. Having a game you can play helps keep your mind active so you are less likely to get drowsy and fall asleep. Which obviously is bad on any road trip.

6. Leave Room Next to the Car Seat for You. Whether you are driving through the night or not, you want to make sure that you leave a seat open next to the car seat in case your little wakes up or just gets super grumpy. You want to be able to sit there and keep your toddler busy and happy if the need arises, and if you have packed the backseat full of things, you won't be able to fit and you may just have to sit there listening to him cry and scream. Ideally, you won't be sitting there for much of the trip, but you want to make sure that if you have to, you have a space that you can sit and occupy your toddler.

7. Have a Changing Station in the Car. This may seem unnecessary when there are changing tables inside gas stations and rest stops, but if you are driving through the night, this is important. Taking your baby into the gas station with all those bright lights is probably going to wake him up and make it harder for him to go back to sleep. Ideally, your toddler will sleep through the trip and won't have to be changed until he wakes up, but if he wakes up in the middle of the trip with a poopy diaper you are obviously going to change it. And it's much nicer to have everything you need and room to change him right there with you. Even if it is just in the seat next to the car seat. Less stimulation while awake means an easier time going back to sleep.

8. Darken the Window. One thing we noticed when driving through the night was that sometimes when we stopped to fill up with gas, the lights from the gas station would shine down right onto Little J's face. So something you may want to consider is rolling a towel or small blanket up in the window so that when you stop (or there are lights on the road), they won't shine right in your toddler's sleeping face. If you aren't driving through the night, then you probably don't want to block your child's view or they won't be as happy, but if you are driving through the night (the easy way to roadtrip), then darkening the window is a good idea.

9. Have a Backup Plan. What do I mean? I mean bring the one that that you don't like to let your child have but that will calm him down instantly. For us, it's the iPad and episodes of Bob the Builder. I don't really like letting him play with it, but there was a point when we had about 45 minutes left in our drive and he was just not having it anymore so we gave him the iPad to watch some Bob and play some fun games he likes (check out Sago Mini). It worked like a charm. And yes, this is the last resort.

Do you have any other tips for taking a roadtrip with a toddler? I promise driving through the night will be the best way to go! It will revolutionize your drive!!