Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Pack Your Bags

Sorry if the title misled you, but no, this post is not about packing. Although, chances are, you are going to pack up your bags and hit the road at least once during the Christmas season. With all the packing, list-making, baking, gift-wrapping, and all the other hustle and bustle, sometimes the house tidying gets overlooked and we end up leaving the house in a slightly more-than-messy state. So, your challenge for the holidays, don't pack your bags without cleaning your house. Of course, if you are on a normal cleaning schedule, this will help, but it is very easy to get off schedule when you have what seems like a million other things to do.

I was always taught by my mom when I was growing up to clean the house before we left for vacation. This way, we wouldn't have to worry about cleaning when we got home from vacation. The training I received from her stuck with me. I cannot stand to leave my house in a mess when I am leaving for anything overnight.

Of course, there will always be loads of laundry to do after unpacking upon return, but it is so nice to come home to a clean home.

A few things that I like to make sure are done before I leave:

* Dust
*Laundry is done (so I don't have double loads when I return)
* Bathrooms are clean
* Dishwasher is at least turned on (if time allows, unload it)
* There's a place for everything and everything is in its place
* Trashcan is empty
* Plants are watered
* Floors are swept/mopped

So, while you pack your bags, keep your house clean too! You'll be glad you did!

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Tips on Packing for Tots

Well, it's that time again in our household...time to pack up and take a trip! We are heading north for a thanksgiving trip that I am so super thrilled about! Of course, the hard part is all the packing. Now, after I have packed for myself - and no, I don't pack for my hubby b/c he would hate everything I picked out - I must pack for the little one.

I feel relatively used to this packing thing. After all, little O has been on many trips with us since his birth including two complete road trips to Pensacola, FL; a plane trip to California; a plane trip to NYC; a visit to Tennessee; a road trip to Louisville,KY; and a road trip to Atlanta, GA. So, this next trip is nothing new. We travel a lot! And I have tried to make my packing as precise, compact, and simple as possible. Trust me, going through the airport with a baby, stroller, and two bags can be quite the dramatic scene if you are not properly prepared. So, here's how I pack:

1. First I pull out my Toddler Packing List and get busy filling my suitcase and diaper bag according to the trip-appropriate list. Remember, if you are flying, you want to carry only what is absolutely needed, but do take what is needed. For instance, an extra outfit, although you may not need it, is necessary. You don't want to be stuck with no clothes for the little one. Also, check TSA guidelines for what can and can't be in your diaper bag.

2. You must be careful to think ahead at what your trip may hold. If you are staying in a hotel, you will need to take your own crib sheet and blanket. If you are staying with family, check to see if you need to tote the pack-n-play.

3. Check the weather. Go to weather.com and check out the forecast for where you will be to make sure you packed appropriate clothing.

4. Take a stroller. I always take my umbrella stroller when I am traveling. I am not worried about the airline ruining it, and it fits into the car nicely with all of our luggage (the big stroller takes up the entire trunk). It's also much easier to fold and unfold at the end of the jetway.

5. If you are going to be on a long flight or long road trip, bring some form of entertainment. We love books and small toys that keep little minds occupied. It is also wise to keep your little one awake all through the check in and waiting-to-board process. This way, they will probably be ready to nap when you get on the plane. (Out of 14 take-offs, little O has only been awake for 1).

6. Bookbags serve as nice diaper bags when traveling by air. You can keep it on your back and still have two very functional arms! (Something I learned after trip #2).

7. Make sure you plan for meals for your little one. Most airlines will serve drinks (during which time you can get some apple juice to fill up that sippy), but you must think about your little one's mealtime and where you will be. Pack a PB&J if you will need it. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

8. Don't stress about those glaring eyes from the other passengers as you board the flight with an infant - Kids will be kids and you cannot control everything. If they ever cry at home, chances are they will cry on the plane at some point. On one of our trips, O actually didn't cry the entire flight, but a disgruntled passenger in front of us placed all the blame on him for the crying of a baby behind us. Oh WELL! it happens. Don't let it stress you out!

9. Sit by the window or on the aisle...not in the middle! Your baby, even if he is sleeping will take up more room. The window seat is my favorite because I can lay him in my arm, let him stretch out, and we still don't cross that imaginary line into the other passenger's bubble. Once my seat was in the middle of two, and I called the airline and had them switch me because of the baby! (they don't want unhappy passengers either).

10. Keep all documents in a handy spot. You have enough to hold on to and enough to worry about - don't worry about your documents. Keep your boarding passes, IDs, and a copy of baby's birth certificate all in one spot (like an outside zipper) that is easy to get to when you need it.

Hope this will help some fellow Moms in the future! As for me, I'm all packed and ready to go!

Here's the checklist that I use.

Toddler Packing List

For the suitcase:
o       Clothes (Pack one outfit per day plus 40% extra)
o      Pajamas
o      Socks
o      Shoes
o      Burp cloths
o      Coat (if needed)
o      Hat, gloves (if needed)
o      Crib sheet
o      Bed blanket
o      Blanket
o      Towel(s)
o      Washcloths
o      Toiletries:
o       Soap/Baby Wash
o       Shampoo
o       Lotion
o       Baby powder
o       Diaper rash cream
o       Vaseline
o       Q-tips
o       Cotton swabs
o       Brush
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Extra Pacifier
o     Snacks/Food needed

For the carry-on:
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Changing pad
o     Pacifier
o      Bottles/Sippy Cups (only what you must have before you get to your baggage)
o     Burp cloth
o     Snack cup
o      Medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Cough)
o     Thermometer
o     Diaper rash cream
o      Milk (in cup)
o     Diaper disposal bags
o     Spare outfit
o     Bib
o     Spoons
o     Small toys/books

For the car (non-flight trip):
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Changing pad
o     Pacifier
o     Bottles/Sippy Cups
o     Milk
o     Juice
o     Burp cloth
o     Snacks
o      Sandwiches/Meals (if stopping to get something will be difficult)
o     Medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Cough)
o     Thermometer
o     Diaper rash cream
o     Diaper disposal bags
o     Spare outfit
o     Bib
o     Spoons
o     Toys and Books
o     Blanket
o     Music
o     Baby mirror

* TSA does not limit the amount of milk/formula or medicines allowed for infants as long as they are declared at the checkpoint. However, they will most likely perform a liquids test on the bottle/cup, so be prepared. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Look Up

Give your ceiling fan some credit. If your summer was anything like the summer here in good ole central NC, then your fan did some hard work for you this year. Chances are as the weather gets cooler (which is a nice change) your fan is taking a well-deserved break. But just like you need a bath after hard physical labor, your ceiling fan would appreciate one as well. Grab your stepstool and duster and clean the fan (I recommend you clean it while it is at rest. Trying to clean while it is awake can result in losing and painful fight for you..haha). I like to use my dry Swiffer wipes or the Swiffer 360 to clean off my fans. Just make sure you clean the who fan, not just the blades. And while you are up there, check to see if any light bulbs need replacement.

Thanks for enduring my personificiation of the ceiling fan! Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Wash, Dry, Fold, and Sweep?

No, don't sweep your clothes, Silly! When is the last time you swept and mopped behind your washer and dryer? It's easy to clean around these wonderful appliances if you have a laundry room, but get behind them and clean out at least twice a year! I do not have a fully laundry room, I have a laundry closet (something that I definitely plan to change with my next house). In order for me to clean out, I get hubby to pull the washer and dryer out of the closet so I can get in and clean it. Dust collects from your dryer and builds up, and I always find a few "run-away" socks and stray items back there.

So how about it? Do you need to do some cleaning today? Take a few minutes and take care of it! Happy Cleaning!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Right and Responsibility

Election Day. After all of the debates, tiring ads, voting campaigns, and primaries, the time has come for Americans to vote. Tomorrow, a President will be elected to govern our nation for at least four years. Senators will be put into office to decide what laws will and won't be passed. Officials on the local level will be placed in office to decide state and county matters. You may ask yourself the question, "Where does my one vote fit in in the big picture?" "Does my vote really matter?"

The answer is a resounding, "YES!" Should  you vote? YES! Does it really count? YES! Why?

First, by voting, you are exercising your right as an American citizen.

  - A right that was paid for by the blood of so many who fought for the freedom of our nation. From the War for Independence all the way to our current wars in the Middle East, brave men and women have died, knowing that their sacrifice paved or preserved the way of American freedom. I recently watched a news report that interviewed different citizens, asking them who they would vote for. Of course, the media showed a voter for Romney and a voter for Obama, but the third interviewee caught me off guard. In a very nonchalant manner, the man simply said, "Oh, I don't vote."  YOU DON'T VOTE????? He didn't give a reason, just a simple shrug of the shoulders. It is simply not in my ability to comprehend why a person would not want to exercise their right to vote. So to an individual like this, I simply say, "You give up your right to complain if you give up your right to vote."

I believe that voting is not just a right as an American, it is a responsibility I have as a Christian.

 As a Christian, I must not just vote for the candidate with the most logical platform or the candidate who has the most charisma, but I must vote my faith. There are many issues at stake in this election, but some issues are just non-negotiable. Which issues you ask?

* Life - 

The value of life. Instead of valuing the sanctity of life, our government has shifted to valuing the quality of life. As a Christian, I MUST vote for the candidate who values the sanctity of life - This is biblical. A government that only values the quality of life will quickly gain the power to determine who lives and who dies. A candidate who is for the killing of the innocent and defenseless will NOT receive my vote.

* Nation of Israel - 

It's simple. God promised a long time ago in the Abrahamic Covenant to bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel. I want to vote for a candidate that is on Israel's side. 

*Marriage - 

an institute established by God as a relationship between one man and one woman for one lifetime. A candidate that seeks to re-write the biblical definition of marriage should not get my vote as a Christian. 

* Religious Liberty - 

We live in an America that is slowly but surely trying to force Christians to become silent in their beliefs. Why? Because a sinful society does not want to accept biblical authority. I do not want my children to grow up in an America where biblical churches are forced to shut down or even where individuals are arrested for claiming to be Christians. Don't think this is possible? All it takes is a majority of anti-Christian leaders with power and charisma. 

Now, I understand that neither party or candidate aligns perfectly with the Bible or biblical values. However, I like the way one of my favorite preachers said it, "When two candidates are running in the wrong direction, vote for the one who is running slower!" I'll do just that and pray for God to raise up a more godly leader in the next election. 

I've already committed to trust the Lord and understand that He is in control and working out His plan. I can't see the big picture, but I can vote what I know is right. I pray that you will do the same as you head to the polls tomorrow. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's a cool, crisp and beautiful fall day...what a great night for soup! I love this recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup - definitely a family favorite. And to make it even better, it's a CrockPot recipe. Put it in in the morning and voila! dinner is done! Give it a try and ENJOY!


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans Ro-Tel (any kind will work but I use the lime & cilantro flavor)
2 cans chicken broth
1 can black beans (rinse and drain)
1 can kidney beans (rinse and drain)
1 can corn
1/2 onion chopped
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups of water

tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheese (Mexican blend is yummy!)

Put Ro-Tel, chicken broth, black beans, kidney beans, corn, onion, seasoning, and water into CrockPot and stir well to mix. Place chicken breasts on top of mixture, making sure they're at least partly submerged in liquid. Cook on high 6-7 hours or on low 8-9 hours. Before serving, remove chicken breasts, shred, and return to soup. Stir and serve! Add tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if desired.

Enjoy the yumminess!