5 Tips to Survive College as a Mom

Surviving College as a Mom
Motherhood and college, individually, are life challenges that are both exhausting and rewarding. However, combine the two and you have an even more delicate dance to keep life in balance. College moms might be young, new mothers (like myself) or might be mothers of older children or even grandmothers. Student moms also vary from those who have never attended college to those who are returning for a new career path or to further their current career.

Regardless, being a student mom comes with it's own set of challenges. Below, I've shared some tips for making it through and thriving as a mother and student.

5 Tips for College Moms

1. Let It Go

No. I don't mean go watch Frozen with your 6 year-old for the millionth time. Literally, you have to let stuff go. You're trying to balance being a good student and a good parent (and maybe even a good employee and/or significant other, too). In order to save your sanity, you're going to have to cut yourself some slack.

Maybe that means you're vacuuming once a week, rather than three or four times. Maybe your kids are eating pizza rolls tonight. Maybe the dishes won't get done for a few days. Maybe you're 15 minutes late to class because there was a diaper blowout 5 minutes before you had to load the kids in the car.

It's okay. Let it go. Things will be okay.

Related Post: What is a surrogate mother?

2. Prioritize

If you're not quite sure how to accomplishment the first point, then this should help. Learn to prioritize what has to be done. I always like to think of priorities like this:
  • Have to do
  • Should do
  • Could/want to/might do

Work through the things you have to do and then move on to the things you should do. Try to do at least something that you want to do, so that you don't feel like your whole day is all work and no play. That can get exhausting.

Related Post: 5 Tips to Improve Your Love Life After Kids

Succeed as a mom and student.

3. Lists

Lists, lists, lists. Even if I never look at a list again, writing things down gives me clarity, helps me organize my thoughts, and helps remember what needs to be remembered. I used excel to create a spreadsheet of all my assignments for the semester. I used it digitally, but it could have easily been printed and used for reference, just the same. If you're having trouble getting organized, lists can really help.

4. Know your limits.

I am really, really bad at this one. It's really important to have realistic expectations for yourself. Don't take more classes than you can handle. This last semester I started a new job that had a more traditional work schedule. I also took on full time college classes. I'm going to fail one of those classes after getting so behind catching up is an insurmountable task. My work in the others has suffered.

For someone who was devastated when she received her first and only C in college, this is really hard for me. However, it's shown me that, more than ever, it's important to find the life balance that works for you.

Otherwise you'll end up giving less than your all to your job, your school, and/or your family. Take it from someone who knows. Set yourself up for success in all areas of your life!

5 Tips for College Moms

5. Self care.

Take care of yourself. Take a day off. Lounge around in your PJs with the kids eating ice cream and watching Disney movies. Go on a date with your spouse or have a night out with your friends. Remember that you're still human and you still deserve some fun.

We're all trying to make the most out of our lives. To improve ourselves for our children. We want them to look up to us. We want them to be proud of us. We want to give them the world. Being a college student and a mom is tough. We can do it though!

What advice would you offer to moms who are attending college?

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9 Affordable Experience Focused Kid Gifts

Give the Gift of Experiences
Once upon a time I posted some alternative hobbies for kids that aren't sports or video games. I also shared tips to get kids to actually like reading. The season of giving is upon us, so today I want to tell you about the importance of presence not presents.

This is something many of us, myself included, struggle with.

It's easy to try and measure love with stuff, to try and quantify it. However, we all know that love is a feeling. It can't be measured. It can be felt. You might even argue it can be seen.

However, we're all still tempted to be unintentionally materialistic. We love our children and our families love them. Grandparents, especially, are inclined to shower our children with gifts. Unfortunately, very few of these gifts offer experiences. Most of them are just stuff.

Stuff that will end up at the bottom of a toy box.

Something with a million parts that will never be put together again.

Sometimes people struggle with gifting experiences

Related Post: 12 Things I Want My Boys to Know When They Grow Up

9 Experience Based Gifts

9 Experience Focused Gift Ideas for Kids

  • Laser Tag
  • Usually appropriate for kids starting around age 6. Fun for adults and children, so great to do as a family!
  • Zoo One Time Pass
  • Buy day passes for the zoo. It's even better if the the gift giver is planning on going as well (when able).
Give Aquarium Passes
  • Aquarium One Time Pass
  • If your giftees are lucky enough to have an aquarium nearby, why not gift them a day pass?
  • Museum or Conservatory One Time Pass
  • New museum? Favorite museum? Single passes and/or gift certificates are affordable options!
  • Movie Theater Gift Certificate
  • Buying movie passes or gift certificates/gift cards to the local theater can be a special treat.
Give the Gift of Bowling<

  • Bowling Gift Certificate
  • Classic fun to be had just about anywhere. A bowling gift certificate is a great gift to be used with friends or family.
  • Arcade Tokens or Gift Certificate
  • Local arcades (sometimes combined with mini golf, bowl, theme parks or other mentioned gift ideas) are a great place to buy and experiential gift. Buy tokens for the give recipient to use later or some other pass.
  • Mini Golf Pass
  • Mini golf is another classic and you can find a place almost anywhere. It makes great gifts to be used a family or with friends.
  • Horseback Riding Gift Certificate
  • If everyone is comfortable, able, and old enough, horseback riding can be a unique gift experience to give a family or individual.
Give the Gift of Go Karting
  • Go Kart Pass
  • These are fun for adults and kids! Younger kids may need to ride with an adult or older sibling, so this can be a fun family gift.
  • Theme or Fun Park One time Pass
  • If there's a nearby theme park, fun park, or similar area for a good time, you can usually buy passes, tickets, tokens, or gift certificates to give as gifts.

Have you ever received a gift like this? How did you like it? Do you think experiential gifts are better, the same, or don't like them?

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3 Ingredient Pork Loin

Simple 3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Pork

This simple, crock pot recipe only requires three ingredients plus your pork loin. The leftovers are good by themselves or for sandwiches. It makes a great make ahead or freezer meal, too!

Simple 3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Pork
Ever since I discovered pork loin, about a year ago, I have been in love. It cooks wonderfully in a slow cooker, is affordable, and can be made so many different (and delicious!) ways.

Related Post: 20 Slow Cooker Recipes

This dish is no exception. It's also easily made into a meal. Another plus!

If you wanted to, you could cook this in the oven, but I think it comes out much better in the slow cooker.
Easy Pork Loin

What You Need

  • Pork Loin
  • Worcestershire
  • French onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth/stock
  • Optional veggies, if making into a meal.

Related Post: 16 Freezer Friendly Slow Cooker Recipes

Simple Slow Cooker Pork

Recipe & Directions

  1. Mix Worcestershire, french onion soup mix, and broth or water in small bowl.
  2. Add pork loin to slow cooker and vegetables, if you decided to add those too.
  3. Pour french onion mix over pork loin and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

What's your favorite way to eat pork loin? Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe?

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What is a surrogate mother?

Something I hope to be posting more about in the months to come is surrogacy.  While the journey is just beginning for me, I believe it will be one of the most rewarding adventures I will ever be a part of.
What is a surrogate mother?
However, most people don't really now much about surrogacy.
a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role or office.
"she was regarded as the surrogate for the governor during his final illness"
synonyms: substitute, proxy, replacement
So, if you don't know already, a surrogate carries and delivers a child for an intended parent or parents to raise.

A surrogate comes in two basic forms: a traditional surrogate (TS) or a gestational surrogate (GS).

A traditional surrogate uses her own eggs and a gestational surrogate doesn't.  This is the most basic of descriptions.
Brief explanation of surrogate moms
This is my small, somewhat official announcement of intent.  We're not too far into this yet, but it is something my family and I are pursuing with great pleasure and pride!

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Mummy do it

4 Reasons Not to Have a Wedding

Stereotyping would lead everyone to believe that all little girls spend their childhoods dreaming of being a princess and (when they realize the unlikeliness of that happening) planning their big day in a white dress.

Well, believe it or not, I never had even thought about wedding planning as a child. It was just never one of my dreams to have some big, extravagant wedding. I actually cringing a little right now.
4 Reasons NOT to Have a Wedding
My husband and I have been married for over 5 years now. We were wed by a judge in a local courthouse. We "celebrated" the weekend before we were married by resting comfortably in our new apartment and taking the weekend off work. We were wed on a Monday afternoon, about an hour after I left work for the day.

1. You don't have a couple extra thousand dollars.

Even inexpensive weddings typically climb past $1000 after you break down all the real expenses. Even if that's spread over time, could you and should you have used that money for something else? We skipped the fancy wedding and reception and put the money toward our first apartment and the baby we were expecting. Instead of entering into marriage with some extra debt, why not take that money and apply it toward something like a first home, student loans, an emergency fund, etc.
4 reasons to get married but skip the wedding

2. You don't like to ask your friends to pay for your wedding.

This one drives me a little crazy. I've never understood the, "Want to be in MY wedding? Yeah? Okay, I'll need X amount of money for your bridesmaid dress for MY wedding." I know not every wedding works this way, but it seems to be more and more common, especially when people are trying to save money. If that's the case, see point 1!

3. You might get divorced.

Ouch! That one hurt, didn't it? Divorce rates are crazy high, so it's possible, but let's hope it's not probable. Anyway, dropping a couple thousand dollars on a wedding only to get divorced in a year, two years, or five years seems crazy!
4 Reasons to Skip Your Own Wedding

4. You'd rather celebrate time wed, not getting wed.

This was a big one for me. I'd like to have a vow renewal someday to celebrate being together X amount of years. I think that's a cause for celebration, more the just celebrating getting married. I'd rather celebrate staying married.

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6 Back Carry Friendly Babywearing Exercises

Recently I told you how babywearing benefits babies, but there are also some benefits for moms, as well!  One of these benefits is that it helps mom lose the "baby weight."  Now, this is just referring to regular ol' babywearing.

However, some of us like to take it a step further and exercise while babywearing.  Whether it's frequent or occasional, babywearing and exercising can be an efficient way to get your exercise in while keeping baby close and happy.  Baby also acts as a natural weight for momma during the workout.

I compiled a list of back wearing friendly workout moves for babywearing moms (or dads) and then scoured YouTube to find some videos on proper form (if you cared to know).  Put these together in whatever combination works for you and you have a Back Carry Babywearing Workout Routine!

I also came up with a quick routine for you, if you didn't want to wing it.  It's at the bottom of the post.

1. Squats

2. Planking

3. Push ups

4. Lunges

5. Chair Dips

6. Lunge Kicks


6 Ways Baby Benefits from Babywearing

I discovered babywearing when my daughter was still a squishy new baby.  She turned 1 in May and is actually asleep in a carrier on my back right this second! Babywearing has been pure love for us and even my 5 year-old likes to get in on the fun.
How Babies Benefit from Babywearing

There are many benefits and you might encounter a few people who are less than supportive of your choice, so why not be armed with these 6 ways babies benefit from babywearing!

1. Babies cry less.

This isn't just one person's impression, experience, or opinion.  There was actually a study done on the matter and babies cry 40-50+% less!  Carried babies have lower stress levels.

2. Helps regulate baby's body temperature.

If you've read my post on some of the benefits of bed sharing, this might sound a little familiar.  Anyway, mom's body temperature will rise or fall a degree to help regulate baby's temperature, as needed.

3. Aids in muscle development.

One of the biggest concerns nay-sayers tend to have is something along the lines of, "He'll never learn to walk!"  This is definitely not true.  Babywearing aids in the the development of muscles required to sit, stand, and walk.

4. It's safe!

A video posted by momingabout (@momingabout) on

Cuddled against mommy or daddy is the safest place for baby to be.  Keeping her away from unwanted touching and holding and germs!  On the other hand, you know where baby is at and never have to experience the nightmare of a missing child.

5. Aids in healthy social and emotional development.

Being around mommy or daddy's eye level, baby experiences things as her caregiver does (not from the floor).  Baby can feel secure in her experiences because she is so close to a loved one and not be overstimulated by the world around her.

6. Facilitates breastfeeding!

With babe close to mama and close to her source of food and being able to nurse in most carriers with some practice, babywearing really helps facilitate breastfeeding.

What is your favorite benefit of babywearing? Share your favorite babywearig memory  in the comments below!
1 – Kostandy et al., “Kangaroo Care (Skin Contact) Reduces Crying Response to Pain in Preterm Neonates: Pilot Results,” Pain Management Nursing 2008: 9:55-65
1 – Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648

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Breastfeeding: Weaning & 6 Nursing Triggers

As I mentioned in my World Breastfeeding Week post, sadly Luna and I's breastfeeding journey has come to a close with her just turning 16 months old.  It's a bittersweet, somewhat sad time for me.

These past 4 to 6 weeks have been full of transitions for her and I, as she has weaned off breastfeeding with only a little nudge from me at the end and is spending most nights in her crib next to our bed rather than in our bed with us.

Some days we're both a little cranky and frustrated because we just want to revert back to how it used to be, but we've already moved past it so we must figure out new ways to manage.

When I get home from work, for example, I make her peanut butter crackers and apple juice.  This was the last feeding session for her to drop.  The only other time we sometimes struggle with out new sans breastfeeding life is at afternoon nap (usually close to the time I get home from work, also).

At night we both sometimes fall asleep with me rubbing her back or her holding my hand/finger.  If she does wake up in the night, she gets some mommy and daddy cuddles and spend the rest of the night with us.

It seems like yesterday when she was born, but we are watching her grow everyday! If you and your child are going through the weaning process, here's 6 things to consider when trying to figure out triggers for your child's nursing.

1. Is she hungry?

Try to figure out if your child is hungry.  If she is, give her a healthy snack to fill her belly so she doesn't feel the need to nurse.

2. Is she thirsty?

She might need something to drink, so offer some water or juice.

3. Does she need cuddles?

She might need extra attention during the weaning process, even if it's partially initiated by her.  Offer extra love and attention and consider babywearing.

4. Is she tired?

If she is tired and used to nursing to sleep, it might be extra hard at first to find other soothing methods.  Find something that works for you.  Try cuddling, babywearing, back rubbing, etc.

5. Is she sick or teething?

Nursing Triggers - Teething
Sick and teething children want extra comfort and might feel a stronger desire to nurse.  If this happens during the weaning process, you can consider alternative ways to make her feel better.

6. Is it habit?

Routine is routine and your child might be used to nursing after this, before that, or whatever.  Switch up your daily schedules or, better yet, start new routines to help keep both your minds off other stuff.  Getting out of the house can help, too!
What triggers your child's desire to nurse?  Did your child self-wean? What was the hardest part about weaning for you?
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World Breastfeeding Week: 4 Tips for Breastfeeding & Working

Did you know that August 1st was the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week?  Today is the last official day, and I couldn't not touch on it.  Breastfeeding has been an interesting journey for us, that has sadly drawn to a close (my inner self is sobbing hysterically right now).

World Breastfeeding Week's focus this year is on breastfeeding and work and making it work! Many moms struggle with when is the appropriate time for them to return to the workforce.  Some mothers have to return before they feel emotionally, mentally, or physically ready.
World Breastfeeding Week : Work & Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms have to worry about pumping breast milk for their baby, maintaining supply after returning to work, ensuring that baby is fed properly and the proper amount while mom is away, and that breast milk is stored and prepared properly in addition to any other non-breastfeeding related worries.

Both Netflix and Microsoft have announced updates and improvements to their maternity leave policies this week, and Google, HP, and Cisco are known for having some of the greatest maternity leave policies in the US.  However, the US workforce is mostly lacking when compared to the rest of the world's parent leave policies.

With that in mind, here are 4 tips for successfully continuing your breastfeeding journey after returning to the workforce.

1. Know your rights!

It's important to know your legal rights!  You can read about laws by state here and you can read federal law, including regards to pumping at work.

2. Buy a good pump.

You may be able to get your breast pump for free thanks to the Affordable Care Act, unless they're grandfathered plans.
Your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump – and may offer to cover either a rental or a new one for you to keep. Your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, how long the coverage of a rented pump lasts, and when they’ll provide the pump (before or after birth). But it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what's right for you.
It's important to get a quality pump if you want to maintain supply at work.  I recommend and double electric or hospital grade pump.

3. Pump often.

It's important to pump every 2 to 3 hours when away from baby to mimic baby's normal feeding schedule and to maintain supply.  A rule of thumb is that it's better to pump short periods more often then long periods less often.

4. Don't get bullied.

Make sure your employer and coworkers understand that you are doing this.  I have dealt with shaming from people close to me.  It's hard, but don't let anyone bully you out of your convictions.  If you're struggling because your work is not properly accommodating you, reach out for help (including legal counsel, if needed).

I hope all you breastfeeding mommies out there continue to nurse on and know that you rock!

Today, I was a bad parent...

Today, I was a bad parent.
My kids ate greasy gas station pizza for lunch.
They ran around like wild animals at the store.
I bought them sugar filled drinks at the checkout and candy at the next store.

Today, I was a bad parent.
I slept in longer than my kids.
I let them skip baths for the third (or is it fourth?) day in a row.
Nobody brushed their teeth today.

Today, I was a bad parent.
I let my kids wear the same clothes as yesterday.
They spent all day in front of the TV.
I sleepervised from the couch during Spongebob.

Today, I was a bad parent.
I got too mad.
I yelled too much.
I hurt my child, because I got overwhelmed.

Today, I wasn't perfect, and tomorrow I won't be either.
Today, I apologized to my child and forgave myself, as well.
Today, I did the best I could and tomorrow I will, too!

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12 Things I Want My Boys to Know When They Grow Up

Two thirds of my children are currently little boys who will grow into men one day.  For quite a few years, I was only a mother of boys.  My daughter, Luna's, birth last year made me a mother of boys and a baby girl.

As my boys grow older, I find myself thinking about all the things I want them to know, believe, or be capable of doing when they leave the nest.  Society has such warped views for men and masculinity.  I hope my two sons grow up to be who they are not a reflection of what society wants them to be.

Here are just a few things I want my boys to know before they leave the nest, in no particular order:

  1. Fathers are just important as mothers and their role should be as valued and as active.
  2. Men are not dumb dimwitted or irrelevant in marriage, life, or parenthood
  3. Value your role, value yourself, and find someone who will do the same.  
  4. How to cook and manage money.   Men can clean the house too. They can do just as good of a job and just as many chores. Housework is not just the wife, mom, or woman's responsibility.
  5. Being a good person, being a good husband, and being a good father is more important and more valuable than conforming to warped societal views on what is masculine and what is appropriate for a man to do. 
  6. Sometimes you have to sacrifice money for family, because family is more important. 
  7. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to have feelings. 
  8. Respect yourself. Respect your significant other. Expect them to do the same. 
  9. Find a woman who is with you because she wants to be in not because she needs to be; someone who is independent and able to take care of herself and does not need or use you for your money or your possessions but sees the value of you as a person. 
  10. Know your self-worth. 
  11. In your marriage or relationship, it's okay to walk away and take a break but never give up if there's hope for future. A good marriage and a good love is based on two people's willingness to fight for each other and for their life together.
  12. Housework and child rearing is not just for women. 
What are some things you hope your children will leave the nest knowing?

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4 Step Guide to Choosing Your Next Vehicle

I can't be the only person to say this but I hate car shopping. Of course I like getting a new vehicle. I like the end result. I hate the whole process though. It's exhausting and almost enough to put me off of getting a new vehicle altogether.. 

And this is the truth considering I was driving a 98 Buick LeSabre that was barely reliable. Scratch that it definitely was not reliable. We paid $700 for it for crying out loud!

I took it to get new tires and they looked at me like I was crazy as they listed all the things they saw that were wrong with it and suggested I actually don't get tires.  Okay, so I guess it was time to get a new vehicle.

You see I also hate to spend money, and this is a pretty big expense. So the first thing you need to do when buying a new vehicle is to figure out what you're gonna get. Sounds easy right?

Step 1: Browse.  See what's out there.

First thing you should do is browse online for a little bit. But don't let yourself get all caught up in browsing and wasting time.  Just see what's our there.  Browsing is good because you might come across a few vehicles or options that you didn't know about and it will help you get an idea of what you might want. 

Step 2: Decide on your must have features.  Narrow it down. 

Now that you've looked at dozens or hundreds (or more) vehicles and vehicle options, you should have some kind of idea of what you want.  Maybe it's something as simple and broad as "an SUV" or maybe your needs are more specific.  I think the more specific you can be, the better.  For me that meant I wanted:
  • AWD or 4WD
  • Leather interior
  • SUV or crossover (would consider a van though)
  • Third row or optional third row seating
  • Gas mileage at 22MPG or higher
And other options (like Hybrid) I checked and unchecked just to see what I could find.

Step 3: Plug your needs into a search engine.

Once you've decided on the options then you can put these options into various search engines, my favorite being used car websites (such as AutoTrader, UsedCars.com, etc).  If you know what you must have in your next vehicle and you plug those options in, it'll eliminate the stress of sifting through all the ads for vehicles you don't want or that don't meet your needs.  Like I said, the more specific you can be the better!

Step 4: Find your perfect ride!

Now that you've narrowed down your listings, you've hopefully found one or more options of your ideal vehicle and can locate one within a reasonable distance from you.  Thanks to my specifications, I ended up with a Toyota Highlander Hybrid (Limted & 4WD).  I did have to drive 2.5 hours to look at it and then back again to purchase it, but it was well worth it!

What would you add to this list, if anything?  What was the last vehicle your purchased?  Was it love or do you wish you would have chosen something else?
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20 DIY Baby Shower Gifts

Now that finals are over and my kids are almost out for the summer, I'm wondering...

Am I the only person that has been invited to a million baby showers between February and July, not counting the women I know who are pregnant and not having a shower?

I guess part of that has to do with all the mothering-related groups that I'm a part of and the fact that everyone I knew in high school is currently in their twenties and having babies.

I don't mind.  I love baby showers!  I love babies (usually).

Really, though, most (if not all) of these DIY baby shower gift ideas totally trump most of the gifts I've ever given!  They're double cool because they're homemade and unique!

Nursing, Teething, & Babywearing Necklaces

1. T-Shirt Yarn Nursing Necklace from Wayfarer Homemaker

2. Crochet Nursing Necklace from Repeat Crafter Me

3. Silicone Nursing Necklace from Chaos Parade

4. Fabric Nursing Necklace from How Does She?

5. Make You Own Amber Teething Necklace from Make Sew Baby

6. Allspice Teething Necklace from Montana Solar Creations


7. DIY Stackable Rings for Baby from Domesticesq

8. B&W Baby Rattle from Lis Gillet

9. Activity Mat/Gym from Thoughts & Thimbles

10. Baby Butterfly Soft Toy from Sew Mama Sew

11. Pentagon Fabric Ball Tutorial from And Other Silly Things

12. How to Make Cloth Books from Cloth Books for Baby

Diaper Cakes & Related

13. Diaper Babies from Frugal Fanatic

14. Diaper Wreath from The Mandatory Mooch

15. Basic Diaper Cake (Easily Customized) from Susie Stamp A Lot

16. Diaper Bouquet from Frugal Fanatic


17. DIY Baby Bibs from Alice & Lois

18. DIY Burp Cloths from Sew She Sews

19. Baby K'Tan Carrier from Lobolita

20. DIY Pacifier Clips from Make It & Love It

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Mother's Day with Minted

(Disclosure: In exchange for sharing this with you, I will receive credit for product from Minted.com.)

I first discovered Minted around the time my daughter was born (nearly a year ago now). I was so sad that I hadn't know about their birth announcements!  When I still had a bun in the oven and was ready to buy the entire baby aisle, I posted about ordering prints for the nursery and for the boys' room and how excited I was!  Boy, was I missing out!

Minted has a whole slew of children's art prints, and I'm particularly loving this Anatomy of a Name print and it's available in 6 different colors!

While I'm going to spend the next week drooling over children's prints, I know Mother's Day is coming up fast!  Sunday May 10th, just 8 days after my baby turns one (insert sobbing here) and my middle child turns five!

While I was surfing through Minted's new collection of art prints, I came across the perfect Mother's Day present for my closest and longest friend!

Her family recently adopted an evil adorable Boston Terrier puppy, and this print is just so darn cute!  They also have a Doberman (talk about weird family dynamics), and she already has hanging wall wart for him.  I feel she just has to have this.  Since I'm terrible at keeping presents a secret (or any secrets, for that matter), she has also agreed that she needs this.

However, unlike me, you might not think a Boston Terrier print says Happy Mother's Day! That's okay!  There are tons of other options.  For something a little more traditional, you could buy your mom, grandma, or other mommy gal pal one of the Luminous prints or a Fading Pink Roses photograph!

Minted also has these new map gifts where you can fill in family photos in the shape of your home state (or some other state if you prefer, I guess).  I, however, am super impressed with their nifty foil maps.  Can you say shiny!

On a final note, I might be most excited about their Submit a Design challenges!  If you're not familiar, Minted hosts challenges where artists can submit their work to different categories (such as Happy New Years).  The fans vote and the winning designs are sold on Minted.  Winners get paid between $100 and $1000 and they get 8% commission on prints sold.  As a Vis Comm college student, I'm hoping to dive in on this challenge!

What piece art would be perfect for a deserving mom in your life?
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13 Slow Cooker Recipes

Today I bring you another round up of delicious slow cooker recipes for your feasting pleasure!  I recently posted a round up of 20 soup recipes for your crock pot.  So, if you're looking for soups, hop on over to that post.  Today's post is featuring a few sweets and then pastas and sandwiches!


Crock Pot Cinnamon Rolls by Penny Pincher Jenny
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Casserole by Anne's Entitled Life
Slow Cooker Molten Lava Cake by Money Saving Mom

Pastas & Rice

Crock Pot Baked Ziti by Tammilee Tips
Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles by The Coupon Challenge
Slow Cooker Curried Lentils with Pistachios by Three Different Directions
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese by Snappy Gourmet
Crock Pot Mac & Cheese by Baking Beauty
Slow Cooker Chicken Jambalaya by Savory Experiments

Sandwiches & Wraps

Caramelized Onions for Burgers by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
North Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork by Two Healthy Kitchens
Korean Beef Soft Tacos by Three Different Directions
Healthy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches by Two Healthy Kitchens

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14 Paleo Recipes #Whole30

For April, my family and I are challenging ourselves to do the Whole30 and focus on living a Paleo lifestyle.  If you're not sure what Whole30 or Paleo is and you don't feel like googling it, here's a brief description:

Whole30/Paleo focuses on cutting foods and food groups from your diet that may have negative impacts on your health.  It is inspired by the idea that our Paleolithic ancestors (when humans were mostly nomadic and not settled) who ate solely for nutrition were healthier.  Food groups such as dairy and grains are eliminated.

Now, please don't bash me if I'm not 100% right or if I left out some important details.  I am new to this.  Anyway, the idea of reinventing the way we eat (and I cook!) is a little scary.  So, I've rounded up 14 Paleo/Whole30 friendly recipes to get me (and you!) started.


Chocolate Beet Pancakes by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Paleo Overnight Breakfast Casserole by Just Us Four
Paleo Egg Cups by Confessions of an Overworked Mom


Easy Paleo Spaghetti by Jenn's Raq
Gluten Free Meatballs by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Mashed Cauliflower by WholeFoods Market
Wild Mushroom Soup by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Broccoli Cream Sauce by Primal Palate

Desserts & Snacks

Delicata Squash Brownies by Fearless Dining
11 Paleo Approved Snacks by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Pear and Cinnamon Muffins by Fearless Dining
Paleo Ice Cream by Three Different Directions
Pumpkin Bars with Coconut Flower by Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Paleo Balls of Fire by Just us Four

Have you tried the Whole30 challenge?  What do you or would you miss most following the Paleo diet?
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20 Slow Cooker Soup Recipes

I am absolutely in love my with my crock pot (or slow cooker, whichever you call it).  Actually, there's barbecue chicken breasts cooking in mine right now!  Some people might argue that soups are only for winter, but I love a good soup, year round!

Plus, soups are pretty low maintenance, regardless, so throw in crock pot friendly soup recipes and you've got a super simple dinner.  So, here's 20 slow cooker soup recipes!
20 Slow Cooker Crock Pot Soup Recipes

Weight Watchers Vegetable Soup by Just 2 Sisters
Beer Chili by Tammilee Tips
Tomato Tortellini Soup by Tammilee Tips
Cheeseburger Soup by Tammilee Tips

Chicken Corn Chowder by the Country Chic Cottage
Spicy Taco Soup by Tammilee Tips
Beer and Cheese Soup by Tammilee Tips
Beef Bacon Chili by Just Us Four

Stuffed Pepper Soup by Tammilee Tips
Vegan Barley Stew by Mama Likes to Cook
3 Ingedient, Gluten Free Chili by Simply Southern Mom

Rich & Hearty Minestrone Soup by Rural Mom

Bone Broth How To by Our Small Hours

Baked Beans by Baking Beauty
White Bean & Chicken Chili by How to Have It All
Beef Barley Soup by How to Have It All

Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup by Happy Deal - Happy Day
Crazy Pineapple Chili by Two Healthy Kitchens
Vegetarian Chili with Bulgur Wheat by Thrifty Jinxy

Italian Wedding Soup by Two Healthy Kitchens

Share with me your favorite thing to make in the crock pot!

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4 Tips to Get Kids to Enjoy Reading

Reading.  We know it's fundamental that children learn how to read.  Children Kindergarten age, and sometimes earlier, are reading or learning to read.  Ready is pushed so hard by schools and parents that it can be very stressful and not fun for children.
Tips to Get Kids to Like Reading
Book icon by Freepik
Reading expands vocabulary, improves speaking, logic, and communication skills and has many more benefits!  Here are 4 tips to get your children loving reading!

1. Read to them.

Some parents start reading to their child in the womb!  Whether or not it's necessary to start that early might be debatable, but it is important to start reading to your baby early on in infancy.  Even the youngest infants will enjoy the sound of your voice as you read to them.

As children grow older they can enjoy the colors, shapes, and pictures.  Eventually children will be able to read themselves, but they will still value you taking the time to read to them.  After they can read on their own, you can do shared reading time and take turns reading to each other!

2. Read what they like.

It's important to recognize that children are more likely to read something that interests them!  If you child is into superheroes, Barbie, bugs, horses, etc. then get them books about their topic of interest.  If you're not sure, try simply asking your child or just buying a variety of books.  You might also consider books with familiar characters or themes.

3. Reward them with reading.

Now while rewarding reading is definitely an option, rewarding with reading is a great way to promote that reading is a fun, positive experience.  For example, allowing older children to stay up 15 minutes past their bed time, if they're reading, is a way to reward children with reading.  Don't assign reading as punishment, as that will only reinforce any ideas your child has that reading is not for fun.

4. Lead by example.

Carve out some time in your busy schedule to lead by example, and read for pleasure.  If this is not something you typically do, try following tip #2 for yourself.

Remember that there are a variety of types of reading materials.  These include magazine, poetry, self help books, how to books, fiction novels, and more.  Find what your kids like.  Find what you like.  And read on!
What are you currently reading or hoping to read?  What does your child enjoy reading?
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4 Reasons to Cloth Diaper

I've mentioned before that we are cloth diapering my daughter.  I wanted to cloth diaper my son, but felt intimidated by all the options and chickened out.  Well, I took the leap with baby #3 and am so glad I did!

Here's four basic, legit reasons you should cloth diaper your babe.
4 Reasons to Cloth Diaper Your Baby

1. Better for environment.

Disposable diapers are estimated to take over 500 years to decompose in a landfill, but last year the US threw away over 18 billion diapers.

2. Better for wallet.

You can buy all the cloth diapers your baby will ever need for $200-300 or less.  You can likely even reuse them for your next child!  Granted, cloth is typically an upfront cost, but disposable diapers will cost the average person over $2000 per child.

3. Better for baby.

Cloth diapers contain chemicals.  While major brands claim the amount are so small they're irrelevant, the point still stands that they're there.

4. Super cute!

Cloth diapers come in a plethora of colors, prints, and styles for all sorts of budgets.  After everything else that cloth diapering has to offer, the cuteness is just the cherry on top!

What reason most influenced you to cloth diaper?  Or what is keeping you from cloth diapering?
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4 Nursing Pad Options Compared

Breastfeeding moms everywhere can relate to the need of a good nursing pad!  Later in the nursing journey, some women are able to mostly do without them.  However, early on, at the very least, leaking is pretty common!
Nursing Pad Option Comparison
Mom icon made by Freepik & licensed under CC BY 3.0
My daughter is 9 months old now and I still wear a nursing pad, religiously.  I have oversupply, and my daughter is a great sleeper; so I still have let down/leakage from time to time.

Here is a quick table comparison of 4 nursing pad options, based on my experience with them.  A more detailed review can be found below!

Lansinoh Stay Dry

Nuk Ultra Dry

Nuk Reusable


Lansinoh Stay Dry Nursing Pads

Nuk Ultra Dry Nursing Pads

Nuk Reusable Nursing Pads
Evenflo Nursing Pads

Best overall.
Great for price!
Eco & cost friendly.
Cost friendly.

Lansinoh Stay Dry

The Lansinoh Stay Dry Day & Night nursing pads are, in my opinion, the superior of the four.  They do cost a bit more, typically, though.  The little bit of extra money is worth the extra luxury if you can afford it.

These nursing pads are stay in place the absolute best out of all these options, with their two adhesive strips.  They are comfortable and have a literal stay dry feeling, unlike the Nuk Reusable and the Evenflo options.

Nuk Ultra Dry

Nuk Ultra Dry are a great option, too, especially if you're trying to pinch every penny you can but still want a great quality product.  The also leave you feeling dry, like the Lansinoh Stay Dry, and have comparable absorbency; though I think the Lansinoh brand is marginally better.

The comfort and fit are comparable to Lansinoh, also, but they don't stay in place as well.  This is probably because they only have one adhesive strip.  Nuk also has an Ultra Thin option, which is comparable to the Evenflo one evaluated here.  I bought it on accident once.

Nuk Reusable

Many moms are looking to reusable nursing pads because they are cost and environmentally friendly.  Nuk brand, among others, offers a reusable option.  These nursing pads are washable and reusable, but I do feel you sacrifice some other qualities with this option.

The pads were not fast to absorb, so I felt like I was sitting in a puddle of my own breast milk leakage for a bit.  They were also a bit bulky compared to the options and did not stay in place as well, regardless of their no slip fabric.


The Dollar General is my small town started carrying the Evenflo brand, and I was excited to have them local for when I forgot them on my grocery trip that week and ran out.  I keep these as my back up option, because I don't go through the whole box before purchasing some Lansinoh or Nuk disposables.  In fact, I was just wearing these yesterday!

Their absorbency and fit are OK, but not as good as either of the other two disposable options mentioned.  They are affordable and definitely serve their purpose.  These also do not have the sticky adhesive, so they more prone to need readjusting.

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