Add It To My List: July 2017

 Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

  • This video by Cat & Nat. I was going to write a how blog about how adults to to hold themselves to the same standards they expect their kids to meet. But they already did this video, so here you go.

  • On the same day I saw this video, I also listened to this episode of the One Bad Mother podcast where they talk about how they are similar to their toddlers. Yep.
  • The TV show Reign on Netflix
    • I never think I'm going to enjoy period dramas- and I have no clue how historical this is (probably not at all), but it's sucked me in! I will say, the first two seasons are the best and after that some parts get...weird. But overall still good, and made me want to look into the history of Mary Queen of Scots & Elizabeth I more.
  • Also the show iZombie.
    • Surprisingly funny and I like the "passable" zombie thing. 
  • This post from Tim which is so true and also so hard: The Truth Resists Simplicity. 
  • Bullet Journaling
    • basically a DIY simple planner
    • I tried this once before, but got overwhelmed by the artistic types who turned this from a simple note-taking system into half-planner/half-sketch book. I've went back to the minimalist original idea and it seems to be working.
  • I've had issues with the buttons for multiple link-ups lately...have y'all noticed this? Apparently Photobucket is requiring payment now to share your image...so our buttons are effectively dead :( So dissapointed and unsure of what to do...moderators- ideas? 
    • although now it seems to be working. Dude, so confused. 


Two small announcements & 
things to add to your prayer list, please, if you have one...

1) We are hoping to grow our family through foster/adoption and just getting started on the process! I'm terrified and nervous and so hopeful and excited.

2) Also...finally starting grad school. Because...that seems totally reasonable at this point in my life, right? I can't even.

I'll talk more about both of these later, but right now they are still super new and I'm processing.

What's in My {Diaper} Bag: JuJuBe BFF

 This picture came from the previous owner on the BST page

My JuJuBe love affair started with a BFF in the Seaglass print. I got it completely randomly for 20$, because at that price why not try it?

And I really liked it. Problem was...my stroller is black & red. And it did not look good with that bright blue & green print. So because I am me, I sold it and bought another one in a print that matches my stroller.

There are tons of packing videos on YouTube for the BFF. But- so many people use a lot of smaller JJB items to organize it. I'm not really a bags inside of bags kind of person, and I want really easy access to everything when I'm out with the kid. Plus, the best thing about the BFF to me is all the pockets and organization that is built into the bag itself.

I talked about a few of the common benefits of the JJB bags, but here's the fast run down again just in case:

  • Teflon treated, so stays pretty clean
  • Machine-washable, so if there are any stains you just wash it
  • Agion treated lining (supposed to prevent bacterial growth- kids are gross)
  • Mommy pocket 
  • Thinsulate bottle pockets to help keep things warm/cold
  • For this bag in particular- you can wear it as a backpack (how I use it) or with a messenger strap (for off the shoulder/across the body)...also has a handle so you can just pick it up which is oddly how hubs usually carries it 
  • Memory foam on changing pad & shoulder straps to make it more comfy for you & the baby

Some notes before we get started- this is packed for a typical day where I'm leaving the house with the kid for several hours. It's not for an overnight trip or anything where I'm more than an 30 minutes from my house or a store. Also my kid is a year old, so she is still in diapers- we use cloth diapers 95% of the time- but doesn't need bottles or baby food.



Total rundown of what's in my diaper bag:

  • Diaper Case with wipes (gray)
  • Diaper Case with snacks (clear)
    • 2 squeeze pouches (basically baby smoothies), 2 Nutra-Grain bars, 1 baby spoon
    • Also includes medical emergency numbers
  • 3 cloth diapers
  • 3 disposables diapers (emergency)
  • Wetbag (for dirty diapers/clothes/anything mess & wet)
  • Sun hat
  • 2 sticks of sunscreen
  • Baby sunglasses (which she will not wear for longer than 30 seconds, but enjoys playing with)
  • 2 bibs
  • Spare pacifier & paci clip
  • Baby hair brush
  • My sunglasses
  • Burp cloth & hankerchief
  • My keys
  • Baby book & 2 baby toys
  • Romper for emergency change of clothes
  • My Wallet
  • Pouch with my face powder, chapstick, & flossers
  • Sippy cup for baby
  • Water bottle for me/the hubby 
  • Hand Sanitizer

From the outside I can easily access my water bottle & the baby's sippy cup due to the outside bottle pockets. I have fit my 24 oz Camelbak in here...also a Tumblr. Haven't tried hubby's gigantic Yeti, but it fit in my HBB pocket so I bet it would fit here. Oh, I've started keeping one of these cup straps in the her bottle pocket- they are great for restaurants, the stroller, and can also hold toys as well as a cup. I keep my hand sanitizer clipped to the outside (because if you need hand sanitizer, you probably don't need to be digging through a diaper bag to reach it). Also keep my keys clipped to the outside, because then I can beep open the car easily while carrying the kid & the diaper bag. The change pad slides down a big pocket in the back. Oh, and the hardware (called D-rings, apparently) that my keys & hand sanitizer are hooked on are also what I use to hang this from my stroller with these stroller hooks. This makes it super easy to reach everything in the diaper bag, plus it leaves the bottom of the stroller open for storage (my stroller is a lightweight model, so the storage area is pretty small anyway).



Mommy Pocket (not pictured, sorry)
Since I keep my keys on the outside of the bag, I keep my wallet here and hooked onto the key fob. That way it would be at least slightly harder for anyone to just reach in & grab it. I keep face powder, chapstick, flossers, & gum in the small pocket on the right. Left pocket has emergency feminine hygiene products just in case. My sunglasses don't lay flat, so the "sunglasses pocket (really soft felt lined) is usually empty- I can fit lotion in there but actually want to get some bug spray (NC has lots of bugs). The glasses go in the "tech pocket" on top of the mommy pocket, and my phone stays flat in this main compartment. It's nice to have all these things easily accessible without digging through all the baby stuff.

The bag is gusseted- I had never really heard this term before JJB. Basically instead of laying flat, that front flap has some fabric that helps it open so you can reach in without everything spilling out. I like this feature.

Instead of laying all the way out, this front portion kind of halfway folds down.
There are two plastic "picture pockets" on the front flap. I have two prints from French Press Mornings in these. In the zippered pocket directly below them, I have three disposable diapers & a hair brush. My LO has a good bit of hair for her age but she plays with it and it gets messy in the car seat...so sometimes I pretend to fix it even though I know it will be messy again in five minutes.




I start off by packing the perimeter. In the gray wipes case on the left are baby wipes (this would be my one complaint about the bag, I like having the wipes on the outside...but part of the JJB appeal is that it isn't a "typical" diaper bag...I have also thrown in the back with the change pad at times). The clear case on the right holds her snacks. This is also where one of the bibs are tucked.  Stuffing these pockets does make it a little bit harder to get my water bottle in the outside pocket, but that also means it's really secure once it's in there.

Not gonna lie- felt like a friggin' genius when I came up with this. No more smushed or punctured snacks!

The handkerchief & burp cloth go on the bottom.

The back pocket on the left that is zippered shut holds her spare romper & bib (not sure how well this will work in winter when clothes are bigger). In front of that is the case with the spare pacifier, sunglasses, sunscreen, & that's also where the white sunhat goes.

The back pockets hold toys & a "med kit" (not pictured). LO got her first cut while we were out the other day (after I wrote this post), so I decided to add a little pouch with band-aids, first aid cream, Tylenol, med dispenser...and I think Orajel? Can't remember. Anyway, I thought I would have to take out some toys but actually managed to make it fit (the pockets are deeper than I remembered).


Lastly the cloth diapers and wetbag go into the main compartment. Normally I would take a smaller wetbag than the one in the picture, but the small ones were in the wash. Also I sometimes only carry 2 cloth diapers...I'm learning I was a bit of an over-packer in the beginning. Hey, it's my first kid. Figuring it out. With a smaller wetbag I might also put my daughter's taggie, as she loves blankets.

Oh, and see the little silver fabric on the sides...looks like a triangle? That's the gusset that keeps it from laying down flat in the front.


I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it all I want to carry and where. I hadn't planned on keeping a med kit, since as I said this is a quick daily bag, or the bug spray, since we keep that stuff in the car normally (along with spare wipes & diapers). BUT, some friends baby-sat her the other day and those things would have been nice for them too. Thinking about leaving the spare clothes in the car..she's really not that messy (and cloth diapers traditionally get less blowouts than disposables, so...just not super needed).

I really like this bag overall. 

It definitely wouldn't work for me if I had two in cloth diapers. But if I used disposables only, it would probably still work fine. I like that everything has it's place, and how comfy it is to wear as a backpack.

Even after we stop needing a diaper bag, it could be a really good overnight bag for her or even work bag, etc. It will definitely stick around for a while.

If you have (or had) a diaper bag, 
is there anything you think I'm missing?

What's In My Bag: Ju-Ju-Be Hobobe for Work



I told y'all in the last Add It To My List Link-Up that I had fallen for JuJuBe bags. Here's a review of how I pack it & why I think it's so awesome.

For my birthday, I purchased* a Hobobe and Be Quick off of the Buy/Sell/Trade page. I was only looking for a Hobobe, but the seller listed them both together for 40$ so I snatched it up. It's an older print, oh well. But the bag is still in really good condition and I bet I can use for a while.
 
*technically it's my present from the hubby, but this year we both said "Hey this is what I want" and we both got stuff we loved. Easier this way.


This is the picture from the BST page that caught my interest


Number one thing I loooooove about this bag? Two. Bottle. Pockets. Now, why does a grown woman need bottle pockets on a work purse? Because I like coffee in the morning, and water the rest of the time. Yes, I could carry these in my lunchbox. However. On the chance I don't finish either of these, they fall over in my lunchbox and leak. And I hate cleaning my lunch box. They stay perfectly upright in the bottle pockets of the Hobobe though. Perfectly. And even if they did spill, JJB bags are treated with Teflon so you just wipe them off.

Somehow this bag was treated with the Mary Poppins spell. I literally don't know how I fit so much in there.

Remember how I mentioned that I hadn't planned on getting the Be Quick? Well, I'm really glad to have one now. I haven't been carrying a big purse since I've started carrying a diaper bag. It was too much. So I had a small crossbody purse that I would carry with it (which I tossed into a canvas bag to carry to work with more crap). Then I got tired of that and would just throw my wallet, phone, keys, and chapstick into the diaper bag. The Quick is now perfect for holding these essentials. Plus, you can change the strap so it can be worn over the shoulder or as a wristlet or you can strap it to your diaper bag or on the stroller. So it can go in my work purse, be carried on it's own, or thrown into/strapped onto the diaper bag.

So in the Quick (small red bag), I have:
  • Vera Wang wallet
  • Hairbrush
  • pocket knife
  • face powder
  • coin purse with eye drops, chapstick, and flossers
  • folded up canvas bag (in case I run to the store & don't want to use plastic) 
  • hand sanitizer
  • sometimes my phone
  • Sunglasses or case for clip-on sunglasses, depending on what I'm wearing that day

The bag is divided into a few compartments.



 In the two bottle pockets I have:
  • Coffee cup
  • Water bottle
  • Or umbrella if it's raining & I want easy access



Back pocket:
(where the change pad would go if used for a diaper bag):
  • Moleskin notebook
  • Other notebook
  • Random papers as needed 




Front "mommy" pocket:
  • Work ID & keys on key fob
    • This is the other big reason I wanted the bag. JuJuBe is the first line I have seen with a stretchy key fob built in. This is perfect for my work ID and office keys, which I always need at work but don't want to carry around on my normal key-ring
      • I can swipe my timecard & unlock my office with my keys still in my purse- WIN
  • pack of Papermate Flair Pens
  • extra pens from church
  • gum
  • sometimes phone
  • Earbuds 

Tech Pocket (not pictured):
  • Sunglasses (my phone will fit in here, but because I have so much other stuff in it it's pretty tight & requires some wiggling-I prefer to keep it in the mommy pocket and have my sunglasses here- it's felt-lined so super soft to prevent scratches). It's tight but works. 



Main compartment:
  • Umbrella (laying on the bottom)
  • Be Quick (sits on top of umbrella)
  • Book (current one is about 1.5 inches thick- will probably switch between this & iPad for e-reading)
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Eyeglass case (with the clip-on sunglasses for my eyeglasses)


This bag can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body, so it's cool to have options. Also the hardware is really sturdy so I keep my car keys on a carabiner and clip them there (or to my diaper bag or to the Quick). I started doing this with my keys a few years ago and it's the freakin' smartest thing I've ever done- no more searching for my keys constantly. It does require that any bags I use regularly have sturdy hardware (I've chipped a LOT and worn out bags that only have fabric handles).

Another note- if needed I can also pull out the Quick so I can fit more stuff in the HBB and carry both on my shoulder. But that's pretty rare, since this bag is specific to work. 

Anyway. This is in no way sponsored, I have nothing to do with Ju-Ju-Be, I didn't even buy these bags new. I just really like the functionality of everything I have tried so far.

Diaper bag review later this week! Also JuJuBe...

Anyone else this picky about bags? 
Have you found a system that really works for you?

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: July 2017



Hello, booklovers! It's the best day of the month- time for the Show Us Your Books Link-Up.

This past month has actually been a pretty good one, books wise- I more than doubled last month's number of books, anyway. Also, I'm 93% of the way to my goal number for the year. Not too shabby for only July. Anyway, let's get to why we're all really here: the books!


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Well, this book wrecked me. Like, sobbing at 10 pm on a weeknight wrecked me. Thank God I did not read this at work, let me just say. It's about a family who loses a teenage daughter, and the family dynamics both before and after her death. And while you would expect the death to be the sad part, that wasn't even what really upset me. The upsetting part was the relationships between everyone in the family and the undeniable fact that no matter how much you love someone and think you know them...you're probably dead fucking wrong. Also, humans are inherently self-centered. And life is confusing and sad. It ended with hope, but it was just such a beautiful portrayal of an absolute mess of a family. I loved it.  

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This was a super fast and completely adorable read. Basically it's different stories- mostly classics but also some contemporary- that are told through text messages between characters. You don't have to have read all of these stories to enjoy it, in fact it could even be looked at as a very short Cliff Notes kind of situation. Pretty hilarious (the Harry Potter one is between Hermione & Ron, and he thinks credit cards are a form magic...).





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 This book caught my eye at the library while I was looking for something else already on my TBR. As someone who has felt drawn to adoption, I thought it would be interesting to hear from the side of birth mothers since you don't typically hear much about them. This book was originally printed around the 1990s, and the women involved relinquished children from around the 1950s-1980s, give or take a decade each way (don't remember exactly) so it isn't exactly current. However, still worth exploring. It was truly sad to read some parts- one woman states that she was not given any pain medicine during birth as a "punishment" for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Many women were sent away from their families, or scorned by their communities. I appreciate that it did not necessarily paint these women as saints or sinners, but acknowledged many different factors of the adoption situation. That being said, the author is not a traditional writer and many things could have been presented more clearly and concisely. Not a regret, but there are probably better books out there on the subject. Still, overall interesting.




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 This one had been on my TBR forever, and was one of those books you hear a lot about and think "Man, I should read that." Honestly...it was a little lackluster for me. It reminded me a LOT of Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Vern, which I read last year. Maybe because I listened to them both as audiobooks? Or because they both sound slightly Norweign? Either way...it was fine, but a little difficult to keep up with. Maybe the movie would have held my attention better? I know, blasphemy. I think this type of sci-fi just isn't my thing. I appreciate it for what it is, but won't be continuing with this series or more of its type.


What have you been reading this month? 
Link up & let us know!

What have you been reading lately? Link-up & let us know!
 
Life According to Steph

Free Range Kids & Bringing Up Bebe Review

I promised like a month to do a review for the books Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.

These are the only two parenting books I have read, and I really enjoyed them.

They share an underlying general principle that made me want to review them together- they each encourage the idea that kids are generally pretty capable and will rise to the challenge provided.

Free Range Kids has gotten a lot of heat.  

And after actually reading the book, I feel like most of it is unwanted. Part of the backlash seems to be that the author claims that kids today are safer than ever so it doesn't make sense that parents are more anxious than other. So people are like "Oh she's anti-car seats! She is ignorant of what goes on in today's world!" Which is not true. She just believes that a child's independence is more valuable than incredibly small chance they will die or be kidnapped.

If you aren't familiar, this author blew up the internet because she let her 9 year old ride the subway in New York alone. He asked to do it, he had a map, they discussed the route and how to ask for help, etc. He did fine. He made it home in about 45 minutes and felt so capable and happy and it was great. The next day she wrote about it online and was called "The worst mother in America." Because obviously, kids can't do anything!

She goes through a lot of urban myths and debunks them (like, no Halloween candy has ever had poison in it which Snopes also confirms). So why are we worrying about literally nothing? It's all BS. She also discusses the media. Not in a "all media is bad" Trump-like way. But if one thing goes wrong yet you see it twenty times on your newsfeed, you end up thinking that twenty different things are happening. And it's not! The majority of time, everyone is fine. And there are about a dozen TV shows that talk about the absolute worst case police units...which is not the majority of life. It's just the majority of ratings.

So she is a proponent of kids walking to the park by themselves, or staying home alone while parents run out to the store or maybe even a date night! And yes, kids should be able to make themselves a meal or play outside by themselves. Now, this isn't saying a toddler should make spaghetti while no one else is around. But in general, she advocates for the idea that most kids want independence and that it's better for all involved when they get it.

The thing I really liked when reading the books is that she gave "baby-step" examples. There is no "every child should do this!" attitude. She totally acknowledges that every child, family, and community is different. You'll have to build up to things and it's actually not about a lack of parenting.

But it's really about fostering independence and confidence, which I loved. Or at least, that's what I took from it.

Bringing Up Bebe shared the idea that kids are generally capable, although in a different way.

Druckerman is an American who married...a Brit? I think. He loves Dutch football, I remember. Anyway. The ended up living in France and she noticed that...the kids there are fairly well-behaved. And she tried to ask around and see why, since she was an American having a baby in France.

The thing that really struck me while reading this book was the consistency that she seemed to see throughout the country. 

Unlike America with it's preponderance for Mommy Wars (see, all the heat against FRK), France (or at least Paris, but she did try to talk to people outside the city also) seemed to be much more cohesive when it came to parenting. The majority of mothers worked, most kids went to (government ran) daycare facilities, kids were expected to eat the same foods as adults. Kids start going on trips in...preschool? Definitely by kindergarten? I don't remember. But those little Frenchies are spending a WEEK away from home by first grade at the latest (and I'm pretty sure before then, but it's been a few weeks and the details are getting hazy). Which I think most American parents would cry their eyes out over.

They also believe that kids are capable of self-control at very young ages. 

So the general structure is that there are hard & fast rules...and the rest is kind of "Eh." Kids have to try a bite of each food at the dinner table, but that's it. They aren't required to clear the plate- but they aren't getting mac and cheese to compensate. It's typical for kids to help bake- to teach patience, for starters, although there are lots of benefits. But parents don't loose their minds if the kids make a mess and the kids have to wait until snack time to have it (apparently the French in general have pretty standard eating schedule).

Now, a lot of this won't work for my life or many Americans.

Mainly because things vary so much- my kid's daycare has "lunch" at like 10:30 so yeah, she's getting a snack while I make dinner. But I liked the general idea of prioritizing specific behaviors and giving leeway in other things. For example, there is apparently a French swear word specifically used by children. Instead of freaking out about kids swearing, the general response is "That's not a word we use in public, save it for your bedroom/bathroom time alone."

I guess the overall appeal of the book for me came down to simple things- one, parents were still expected to be normal adults. They weren't expected to adjust their entire world to make it more suitable for children. Rather, they prioritized teaching children to more easily adapt to the adult world. And not in an old-school American "children should be seen and not heard" way. Just in a "we are all people here and have our own personalities but live within a common framework."

Neither of these are necessarily self-help books, in the "5 steps to perfection!" vein. They're just books where people talk about ideas and statistics and examples and a slightly less vigilant method of existing as a parent than what is more commonly presented today.

Have you read any good parenting books? 
Or do you avoid them like the plague?

Erin's Reading Challenge 7.0



  •  25 points: The ALA’s “Banned Books Week” occurs while our challenge is happening. Read a book from this list of the most commonly banned books in America (submitted by Christina)

Raising Feminists

As a mom- and a millennial, and a feminist- I have been thinking of how to raise my kid to be a feminist. Actually, not just my kid and not just since I have become a mother. I've been thinking about this since before I was ever even pregnant and it goes for any children in my home, regardless of gender.

Lately I've seen a lot of talk online about gendered clothing. To be honest, this hasn't bugged me as much as I thought it would so far.

When kids and feminism come up, my main concern is about action and skills.

There are certain things I/my husband am pretty adamant about teaching my children. Looking at the list, it doesn't feel super gendered...but I know people who were raised that some of these just weren't things they should "bother" learning because an opposite-sex spouse would take care of it one day.

Here's what I want to make sure my kid(s) learn:

  • Cook at least one home-cooked meal.
    • To be honest, I think if you can learn to cook one thing you can pretty much cook most things. But I get really annoyed listening to so many women my age talk about how terrible they are at cooking like it's a sign of how modern and empowered they are. This is a basic life skill- everyone should know this shit.
  • Do your own laundry.
    • Again, basic life skill. You should be able to dress yourself in clean clothes without breaking a washing machine because you put in too much laundry detergent or used dish soap instead.
  • Change your own tire.
    • Damsels in distress waste so much time. Just do it yourself. To be fair, I have not actually done this myself. I think I could, but I definitely will be learning along side my kids with this one. 
    • I'm okay with this, because I believe that you should never stop growing, and or beat yourself up for not knowing. Being willing to learn at any age is a sign of maturity.
  • Check your own oil.
    • Pretty simple car maintenance. Good to do before long trips. Not hard. 
  • Defend yourself.  
    • There are really, really basic self-defense skills that almost anyone can learn. These include mental and physical things, but either way, I want to empower my kids and let them know that they can take control of their own bodies and situations. 
  • Take care of a baby.
    • I'm so glad I did baby-sitting and childcare while I was a kid. Soooo glad. I waited until my late 20s to have a child myself, but I didn't feel completely lost when it happened. Knowing how to change a diaper, fix a bottle (formula or breast milk, & the difference), knowing lullabies...there are really good basic strategies you can learn that at least provide a building block as a parent.  
  • How to accept a compliment and a tip.
    • So many people seem to feel like they have to defend any compliment they receive. "That's a super cute outfit!" "Oh thanks, it was on sale/hand-me down from a sister." "You are so good at that!" "Oh it's really easy, anyone can do it." Fuck that. You rock, accept it and move on. Also, if someone tries to pay you for your assistance- that's okay. Sometimes letting someone express thankfulness is the most gracious thing to do. Don't turn a beautiful moment into a sour one out of some weird humble-pride. 


What do you think about kids & feminism? 
Or are there any skills you think everyone should have?