Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 Holiday To Do List

In case you're new here...I have a terrible memory. I am a list queen but as soon as something is marked off the list it is gone forever. Not too big a deal you would think, except when it comes to family time. 

Every holiday I keep a list in my head (my first mistake) of all the things I would like to do. Then the holiday comes and goes and I've done a couple things but I have no record of having done those things so I bemoan by existence saying I'm a terrible mom for not doing things with my kids, I'm always home, I never get to do nuthin' and so on. This is a big reason why I'm on Facebook and Instagram all the time. I can look back on the photos and and say "Look! I did it! And I did an awesome job! Look how awesome I am!" :) 

Which brings us to this post. Here is my list of things I want to accomplish this holiday season!

-First and foremost, I want to have a clean and fresh home. We're working on getting the clutter out (thank GOD!) and I have a bunch of stuff I want to sell on Craigslist, donate, and just plain throw away. Barry is finally getting the idea that less is more...and he is going away on a feature the first three weeks of December which means I'll be able to get more stuff out of the house! :D

-I want to spend time with both sides of the family but I also want to have an intentional Christmas at our house. I don't want to be lazy because we will be spending time away from our house on Christmas Day. I won't be making a thanksgiving dinner this year because we will be out all day, I don't want this to happen with Christmas as well.  I want to make a great Christmas meal with table settings and everything. No more skating by just because we don't have company. We are worth linen napkins! ;)

-I want to decorate the house in a timely fashion. Two years ago we decided that the Strickland Christmas season officially starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We spend Friday doing a general cleanup around the house and then Saturday morning we go pick out a Christmas tree! 

-I want to send out Christmas cards out the first week of December. 

-I want all presents bought by the second week of December. I forsee a lot of amazon purchases this year. 

-My mom and I always go crazy with the cookie making. I think since this year will be the first year in their new house this will be the First Annual Clark House Cookie Fest! We usually only do chocolate chip cookies and fudge but with Pinterest being the best thing ever and my baking skills getting better and better we will try some new recipes this year!

-I want to start some Christmas traditions with the boys:
Watch Christmas movies
Make Christmas Eve Boxes
Take them to go see Christmas Lights
Make an activity based Advent Calendar
Santa Pictures!!!!

Read Christmas books - I'm going to buy three classic Christmas books and then place a scrapbook sticker envelope thing on the back cover of each book. Every year we will get a pic of us reading the book to the boys and place it in the envelope. Every year we will open the envelope and squeal over how tiny the boys were the year before :)

These are just some of the things I would like to do this year. I'm sure I'll come back and edit and add to this list as Pinterest explodes with all things Christmas. 

*** Edit ***
Ideas for next year:

-Definitely sending out photo holiday cards instead of regular cards!

-I want to make a small gift for the neighbors that distribute our monthly civic club newsletter. Something with a mason jar of course. ;)

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pennsylvania Trip: The Driving

Last week my mom decided to invite me along for an impromptu trip to see her father, my grandfather, up in Pennsylvania. Traveling with three babies is no joke but we made do. By the end of the trip my mom and I were completely spent but we did have fun!

We made a LOT of pit stops. In all it took us three days to get there and three days to get back. 

Bear Bear discovered puddles and it was the cutest thing EVER!!! I didn't even mind the sopping wet shoes. :)

And William discovered air conditioners. At every hotel he crawled from the mirrors to the ACs and back again. He would turn his face away from the air flow and then slowly turn it back and act all suprised when it blasted him in the face. The giggles were endless. :)

There were some moments of silence and we savored those brief times when all the babies fell asleep at the same time. 

This was at Elmwood Park in Roanoak Virginia. It was a twenty minute detour that frustrated me to no end. We were desperately trying to find a park so the boys could run around and play. They'd been in the car seats for hours and were starting to get restless (read they were screaming for release). I finally found this park and when we realized it had no playground we thought we were doomed. But bear bear LOVED running up and down the stairs. He couldn't get enough!!

And there was a water feature so bear bear had many puddles to splash around in! 

Little Nathaniel absolutely blossomed on this trip. I have rarely seen him give so many smiles in such a short amount of time. It was such a sweet thing to see, he's so serious all the time. 

Every night we made it into the hotel just around the time the boys start having screaming fits. This meant I didn't get to bottle washing until very very late at night. It's was kind of soothing to be able to have some peace and quiet after putting the boys down for sleep. I just put my headphones in and got it done. 

It wasn't until we were back in Virginia on the ride home that we realized we hadn't gotten any pictures of the boys with the fall leaves. But luckily at the Tennessee Virginia border we found this gorgeous tree that was losing its leaves and it made for a very picturesque location. The boys loooooved rustling around in the leaves. 

Mom and Mark bought a DVD Player for watching the movies in the car. It. Was. Awesome!! It had two screens and the wire connecting them was just barely long enough so that I could have one screen facing Barry, who is facing forward and the other screen facing the twins, who are facing the back of the vehicle. It was a great investment and made a huge difference to the boys. 

This was a rough trip simply because I was on the timetable to get back to Houston for an event. But I did get to see that the boys do really well on trips. I am now comfortable with the idea of making a trip to Austin or Dallas with the boys and we have a great friend who is willing to watch our girls (dogs) for us. I envision many trips in our future!!!

I'll be posting about our time in Pennsylvania soon!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Gritty Goddess - 5K Mud Run

It's been wild over here for the last two months. You should expect to see a bunch of posts coming soon - aaallllll outta order. :)

A couple weekends ago I had the opportunity to run the Gritty Goddess again and it was a blast! The number one thing I learned this time around was to go ahead and bite the bullet and just sign up for the second wave of the race. I ended up waiting in a HUGE line at one obstacle. Other than that it was a great race and I can't wait for the Rennaissance Run in May! 

The starting line is always rough, people are staring their heart rate monitors and everyone is always trying to get through the starting line first. Or they're talking about how excited they are. :)

As with most fun mud runs (not the spartan/military/tough mudder style races) none of the obstacles are particularly difficult. This race was women only and was a great segue into mud races for those who have never done one. 

There's usually a fair amount of climbing so a little bit of arm strength goes a long way. As I said in my other post about training for mud runs, really all you have to do is add some bicep curls and some push-ups to your regular running regiment. 

The biggest tip I can share for getting through mud runs is to really try to think outside the box. For instance, with this obstacle many girls tried to put all their body weight on their feet and they kept slipping because they couldn't quite maintain their balance but if you used your arms to hold your weight then you had plenty of time to put your feet in the right slots.

It's a mud run. You're gonna get dirty. :) You caaaaan go around any obstacle you want, but it's worth it to just go all in. 

The obstacles you're going to get most hung up on are obstacles that have to deal with any sort of heights above 5 feet. People get scared when they reach the top and then they freak out and have trouble getting down on the other side and you end up having to wait for them. This is another reason why you want to go ahead and get the first or second wave. 

This was actually the hardest obstacle they had there and the one with the longest line. The ridges were pretty tiny and sometimes it didn't matter how agile you were, if you had the wrong shoes on you weren't going to make it up there so many people had to try it a couple times to get up top. 

Like I said. People get stuck on high obstacles. 

Another tip, wear a bandana and make sure anything that can get caught is tucked away. Many girls got their ponytails (and hair decorations) caught. The buckle on the should strap of my bra got caught and I spent a few minutes (literally) trying to detach myself. 

This race was held on marshland. This stretch of mud STANK. Not all the mud was stinky but this pit was pretty serious.

The walls are usually the toughest obstacle to get over. I find that going to th edge is helpful. If you get the first couple of waves the mud on the ledges won't be as bad so that will help too. 

Finally! The finish line!

I had a great time! I've learned a couple things and I can't wait to implement them in the next race!

If you have any questions, ask away! These races are so much fun and they have such a great community feeling to them. At these races you get the full gauntlet of people and personalities; there are althletes and couch potatoes, the fearful and the fearless, the serious and the silly. Don't let anything keep you away from doing something so fun! 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Must Haves for Baby's Second Month - Baby Edition

-->Fisher Price My Little Lamb Cradle n’ Swing with ACAdaptor: For the love of god get the ac adapter! If you remember nothing else REMEMBER THE AC ADAPTER!!!! Ok, on to my story. My boy had colic. I would never wish upon my enemy this affliction. My dear, sweet little boy would scream and cry for six hours straight every night. I felt terrible for him but this swing was a godsend. If you don't have the money to buy one new look on craigslist. They run about $70. I was lucky that the one I found was from a mom whose baby hated it. It had been used twice and I got it for $75. Mine does not have the ac adapter and we go through batteries like nothing you've ever seen before. Other than the ac adapter, most swings are pretty universal in their specs so I would just go with whatever color you like best. :)

-->Little Noses Sterile Saline Mist & The FirstYears Red Cross Nasal Aspirator :
  Our little one had the worst snotty little nose lol. I've seen the saline drops but I can't imagine using them. The saline mists are so easy to use and they work really well at loosening the snot enough so you can suck it out with the nasal aspirator. Also, if they give you one of the blue nasal bulbs at the hospital, don't throw it away! They are, hands down, the best aspirators. The Red Cross one is the best I've found on a store shelf but it still doesn't touch the blue  hospital ones. THIS ONE is available on amazon and it is sold by a medical supply company so it may be the same but I haven't tried it yet. 

-->Wellements Organic Gripe Water
Oh. em. gee. This works awesome for colic. I swear to you we gave him this mixed with a little bit of breast milk, put him in the swing and he calmed right down! This stuff is amazing! We tried a couple different brands and this one worked best for us. I think it was the chamomile that did it, this is the only brand that uses it. Gripe Water doesn't work for every baby but it saved us!

We didn't use this exact brand but I totally plan on getting one the next time we go to target!!! We have the regular Safety First nail clippers that came with our kit. He squirms. A Lot. Cutting his nails should be an olympic sport and I can only clip them when he is sleeping so that little light would make a world of a difference.

-->Safety First Interchangeable Tip Thermometer
Ok, this particular set didn't work for us but the idea is fantastic. I think this brand has a "pro-grade" version but the one I got was like four bucks on clearance so I got what I paid for. Ours doesn't really work too well but it is awesome knowing we have a thermometer that does it all - underarm, rectal, and oral. You should really have a thermometer before two months (like immediately) but we didn't need one till our boy had his first round of shots. Babies can run a little fever after their shots, ours didn't but we had the thermometer just in case. 

-->Child of Mine by Carters Newborn Mittens
I went round an' round with mittens. These are the most effective, cheapest set I could find. The boy scratches himself so bad sometimes it is heartbreaking and sometimes...when it stops him from scratching himself awake five minutes after I spent two hours trying to get him to go to sleep...they help keep me from having mental breakdowns. :) I went through about eight sets before I found these. The other cheap sets had the elastic visible and would rub against the boy's wrists. No good. And sometimes the elastic would just snap for no good reason. I always wanted to try guavamitts but I couldn't see spending $12 on mittens. I wish I had just done it because I ended up spending wayyy more on cheap mittens that didn't work.

Fisher Price My Penguin Pal Discover ‘n Grow 2-in-1Musical Mirror
My boy LOVED this mirror! It really helped out with tummy time. 

Ergo Baby Carrier
 We've been through two different carries before this one and I have to say this Ergo carrier is sooooooo worth the money. With Bear Bear we used the Infantino Flip Baby Carrier and the K'Tan He hated the K'Tan and I found the flip carrier to be painful although Barry could wear it for hours. HERE is a great article, written by a real mom, on carriers and their effect on infant hip development. And HERE is the fancy-smancy article by the Hip Dysplasia Insitute, and HERE is an article about the importance of ergonomics in baby wearing written by the peeps at ErgoBaby. You should definitely read it before you buy a carrier although the cliff notes version is to buy a carrier where your baby's leg are going out, and not where they are dangling from the crotch.

We paid $120 for our grey Ergo carrier because I was at my wits end. They are on Craigslist for about $70 a pop. I love Craigslist!

Best. Chime. EVER! All my boys loved this chime. I've run it through the washing machine twice (in a lingerie bag, air dry ). This has a lovely tinkling-deep-chime sound that is hard to explain but I sounds way better than your basic cheap bell. It is long enough to dangle from the car seat handle so your baby can still touch it and the bottom has some great toys to chew on. 

 DIFFERENT Bottles & Pacifiers!
This. Is. Important! It sucks. I know. But the fact is that no matter how much research you do, you wont know what bottle to get until your child is old enough to take one. I did reasearch for MONTHS!!!! I'm not kidding - MONTHS!!!! We started with the Avent bottles but because Bear Bear had colic we switched to the Dr. Brown bottles. We loooooove the Doc B bottles, they are a pain to wash if you don't have a dishwasher but they are amazing. They also have different kinds of bottles (plastic, glass, tall, short, wide mouth). Looking back I would get the wide mouth (they weren't available when we purchased ours) because the tall skinny bottles are a bitch to fill up. 

I hope you guys find this helpful! Leave your questions in the comments!!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Medieval Mud Run and Mud Run Tips!

About two months ago my bestest, most wonderful friend Ashlie came down from Dallas to see me and my babies. It happened to fall on a weekend where I was supposed to run a 5K obstacle course race. To cut a long, convoluted story short I put off buying a ticket for the race until the last minute and then decided I wouldn't go because I didn't want to spend the money. Two weeks before the race a friend offered me a ticket for super cheap and I gladly took him up on his offer.

He runs a 10 minute mile, I walk/shuffle a 14 minute mile. The "race" was comical. He's also roughly 14 feet taller than me so his stride is huge  his walking pace is my jogging pace. Comical.

It took three attempts but I finally got over!

We still had a blast and I was so thankful that Ashlie could get a couple pics of me going through the race. My first obstacle course race was the Gritty Goddess which was a lot of fun. I so love doing these races and I look forward to getting to the point where I can really run and do these races and feel all Lara Croft-y. Right now I feel like the chubby kid in gym class. Three babies in two years will do that to a girl. :)

One of the rare moments when I was running and not gasping for air.

Because I'm a list kinda gal I put together a little list of things I've learned about doing the races.

What kind of training do you do?

Pssshhhh! I don't. When I did the Gritty Goddess it was no big deal. It was only 7 months after I had had Bear Bear (and I was 1 month preggers with the twins) but I had retained some muscle from before getting pregnant. With the Medieval Mud Run I had no idea just how much muscle I had lost of the past two years. I had some serious trouble getting over a couple of the obstacles! If I had all the time in the world to train I would train for a regular 5k and add in some basic weight training with special attention to arm strength. Everyone knows your legs get tired while running but no one ever mentions how tired your arms get!!! I would add some push ups to the end of every run at the very least

What to Wear:

-Head Gear: I love running in bandanas. I hate my hair getting in my face and no headband is going to make it through the mud and the muck. 

-Shirt: Wicking shirts are best. For the love of god stay away from cotton. It will grab all the mud and water and weigh you down for the rest of the race. A fitted, wicking tank top would be best. 

-Bra/Underwear: NO COTTON. I think there are such things as fitness undies but I've never tried them. I think I'll give them a shot but until then I just wear thin, "silky" undies. Mud will get into your underwear. Sorry but it's true. Wear a sports bra but know that it acts as a scoop for the mud. Girl problems.

-Fingerless gloves with a rubbery palm: This isn't really necessary but the last time I did a run they squirted us down with a large hose and then expected us to go across monkey bars. It was impossible with wet hands. So now I run with the gloves because I have a pansy grip. 

-Pants: Let me say again: NO COTTON. Seriously, I wore black "yoga" pants to my first race and I almost lost them in the mud pit. Running shorts with the biking shorts sewn in are great but your legs will get cut up. I like using the tight wicking fitness pants that go down mid calf. I wore the shorts at my last race and my legs got all kinds of cut up. 

-Socks: Non-cotton ankle socks. 

-Shoes: There are two schools of thought on this. Some people want to wear older nice running shoes since they'll be running three miles. Other people wear the old shoes they use for mowing the yard. Your shoes are going to get effed up. A lot of people throw away their shoes after the race. I wore my old running shoes and I totally regret it. Walmart carries sneakers for around $10-15. Just get those.

What to bring

-Chapstick (that has sunscreen in it) 
-Change of Clothes (including shoes)
-2+ Gallons of water: we leave these in the car to get nice and warm so we can do a final rinse before getting into the car
-Cheapo waterproof camera: I saw some girls with these at the Medeival Mud Rum and I was insanely jealous. :)
-Tight Fitting or running sunglasses. I wore big girly glasses because they were all I had and they bounced all over my face. Ideally you should make these easily replaceable. There is a significant chance they could be knocked off into a quicksand pit, never to be seen again. 
-Trash bag for your old clothes and a couple of trash bags to cover up your seat in the car, just in case all efforts to get clean are thwarted. 
-Towels: one for you, one for the car. 
-Baby wipes are great for general cleaning. We use pampers sensitive. I don't know what is in them but those puppies get EVERYTHING clean. 
-CASH- I would bring about $50 in denominations 10 and under. Even if the event is being held in a location that usually allows cards, they may not have that part up and running for the single day. It was like this at the Medieval Mud Run, tons of ATMs and none were functional since it was during the off season. You might have to pay for parking and that is usually cash only. 
-Under nail cleaner: pet peeve of mine. I hate stuff under my nails and mud WILL get under there. 
-Post run snack: most places have post run foods, sneak a snack in anyways since the lines are usually long. 
-Simple first aid kit: there will be a medical team there to supervise the race so if anything goes terribly awry (it does happen) they will take care of you. But you will probably get a small number of cuts and abrasions so if that weird you out bring some peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean your cuts.



Mud runs are a super fun way to bring some excitement into you running. I love doing these and the best advice I can give is to just do it! Even if you are concerned with not being able to complete an obstacle just do it. The races allow you to pass obstacles so don't worry.

I would say to be aware of the type of race you are signing up for. Most races are just for fun but there are some out there that are set up to really test your strength and agility, namely the Spartan Race. Also, some races have the first wave set up for competitors, those waves are usually timed and are set up so you HAVE to do all the obstacles. Any other wave is fair game. (Tip: sign up for "off-timed" waves. Usually they are set up in 15 minute increments, sign up for the 10:15 rather than the 10:00, there will be less people)

As always, leave your questions in the comments and I'll update the post!

I can't wait to do the Gritty Goddess again in October with Ashlie, it is going to be so much fun!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Sending a Mommy Care Package for a Sick Toddler

Let me just start by saying I love snail mail. And by love, I mean I 

Loooooooooooooove it. 

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you've probably seen that I am participating in a snail mail revolution. I'm sending out cards for birthdays, graduations, Father's Day, Mother's Day, new babies, and just about any other reason you can think of. So, when a friend posted on Facebook that her little toddler had a cold and a double ear infection I knew what I had to do. I put together a little care package for her and sent it out the door! Now I haven't talked with this girl in about ten years but we have had babies at the same time, we are always commenting on each other's posts and she cracks. me. up. And honestly, who doesn't like getting mail? ESPECIALLY when you're cooped up in your home with a sick toddler. 

Here is what I put together for her:

1. Coloring Books and Crayons: Babies get super cranky when they're sick. Sometimes you can avert crankiness for alittle while if you have a new toy. But I definitely wouldn't get anything too crazy, it's going to get covered in snot and germs so it would be best if it's something that can get thrown away with little guilt. 

2. Disinfecting Wipes: I like these better than sprays strictly for their convenience. It's way easier to wipe a door handle or a little spill with this than to pull out a spray, get a paper towel, and then walk to the kitchen to throw it away. I just keep a couple of these around the house. 

3. Infant Tylenol

4. BABY Rub: There is a difference between regular Vicks rub and their baby rub, I don't know what it is but it's important to only use the baby rub on babies. The Mister is a big believer in Vicks. I could take it or leave it, although apparently it works best if you rub it on the sole of your feet and then cover them up. Pinterest it. 

5. Kleenex: when toddlers are sick, snotty noses run rampant. Seriously, the snot cannot be contained. I bought the cooling kind but a baby might not appreciate the menthol sensation so depending on the age you might want to get the lotion kind. I would splurge and spend the two dollars for the brand-name Kleenex versus the scratchy general brand.

6. Boogie Wipes: These things are amazing. They are great for cleaning crusty noses but they are so gentle.

7. Saline Nose Spray: We use this all the time with our boys. These nose sprays spray a fine mist that is perfect for little babies and the saline gently dries up their noses. We will sometimes spray them, wait 30 seconds and then suction. The spray works great at loosening up the gunk. They still hate it. :)

General Guidlines:
-Keep in mind the toddler's age. Some things are appropriate for two year olds but not for one year olds. 
-Google and Pinterest are your friends. Look up what kind of symptoms a sick baby might be having and work from there. Sore throat? You could get some pedialyte Popsicles. Headaches? Some tylenol would help. 
-Try to follow the Guidlines of how she raises her children and her basic philosophy. While this is a gift, and she wouldn't complain, she will be blown away by your thoughtfulness. If she buys organic get organic chicken soup. If she is hesitant about giving her kids medication maybe buy some chamomile tea to soothe her children's sore throat. 
-Don't forget mom. Unfortunately you can't send alcohol in the mail...I asked. But you could send some rag mags or a gift certificate to her favorite take out or delivery restaurant. You know your friend, get her something that would make her feel special. 

-Pedialyte Pops/ Zip Pops  - Great for sore throats and getting kids their electrolytes up. Dehydration is a big issue.

-Receiving Blankets: for wiping up all manner of bodily fluids. I think these are the best but they are kind of pricey. You could go for the cheaper ones since they are probably going to get thrown away.
-Nasal Aspirator (or Snot Sucker to everyone not a medical practitioner) : Honestly, you can't find a better one than the blue ones that come from the hospital, but here is one that is sold by a medical supply company so hopefully it is the same kind.

-Vapor Bath Soap: I haven't used this, but it seems like it would work in theory.

-Humidifier: If she doesn't have one get the one that was on her registry. I really want this one.  It has a night light.

-Be Koool Soft Gel Sheets : These are great for headaches. I use them on me :)

-Cozy Plush Toy with Lavender Scent (Microwaveable)  : Or you can make one! This is great if the child is over 1 and can sleep with soft toys.

-DVD/Stuffed Animal/Toy
-Chicken Soup: Buy it or make it!

-Food Pouch: These. Are. Awesome. A lot of times when kids get sick they just wont eat but these little pouches are like smoothies. Bear Bear gets one or two of these a day and I can feel better knowing he has had some kind of fruits and veggies. You can make your own using a blender or Nutribullet but when you're sick, these are super convenient. This is for a pack of 12 but you can find non-organic at Target or Walmart for about a $1 per pouch.

-Chamomile Tea and Honey: infants under 1 should not eat honey

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