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Favorite Chatty Podcasts

I adore listening to podcasts. I loved listening to podcasts when I was a WOHM and I love them even more now that I stay at home with my little guys.  odcasts take the monotony out of all of those boring but necessary tasks like laundry and cleaning. And they also really help keep me sane on those days I don’t have the chance to have an actual conversation with another adult.

I enjoy podcasts that make you think like This American Life and Note to Self, but what I really love are podcasts that feel like a chat with a good friend. Podcasts that are easy breezy, funny, sarcastic, even snarky conversations about anything and everything. Some of these podcasts are focused around a specific topic, some are primarily for moms, and some are more of a free-for-all, but all of them tend to put a smile on my face.

favorite podcasts

Sorta Awesome – This is my absolute favorite. Megan Tietz and her three cohosts take turns talking about everything from helping the homeless to favorite obsessions to period panties. They are funny and honest and just so likable.

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Blogger DIY Challenge: Hack the Changing Table!

Parents magazine held a hack the changing table challenge for some bloggers a few months ago where we had to take a diaper changing table, a $50 budget, and use things from the home to turn it into something else that could be used after the child had outgrown it. I really wanted to create something that my 6 yr old son could use and enjoy. He loves to create forts with chairs and tables at our home so we decided to make something more permanent for him to play with! He loved it so much we still have it up today, and it’s now his little Star Wars hide out.

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The Gift of Open Adoption (Part 3)

I have shared about our relationship with Little Piñata’s birthmother in the past in 2 different posts. But, it’s been 2 years since I wrote about it and as we all know, relationships are always changing, so our relationship with his birthmother is no different.

We have continued to email her updates and pictures every month or two, but we actually have not met in person since my last post. Sometimes life gets crazy for everyone and dates just don’t work out. We also know that she will always love Little P so much, but assume there are also days or even life phases that must make it harder to make plans to see her son that is being raised by other parents. She is such a brave and courageous woman to have made such a difficult decision, knowing that it was the best decision for both him and her at the time. So, as long as we can, we will always stay in contact with her because we never want Little P to lose his connection to his birth family.

The exciting thing is that we now have plans to meet with her this summer! We haven’t mentioned it yet to Little P in case it doesn’t work out, but we know he is going to be so excited! We talk about her so often with him and how much she loves him and took such good care of him while he was growing in her tummy, that it will be good for them both to see each other again.

And of course, there are two birthmothers in our family and I have yet to share about Sweet P’s birthmother. We met her for the first time the day we met Sweet P, just one day before we brought her home. We were pretty nervous going into the meeting, but connected with her pretty quickly just like we did with Little P’s birthmother. She was not as interested in a very open adoption or sharing personal contact information right away, so we first sent all of our photos and updates through the agency, who passed them along to her for the first year.

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Review: EllieFunDay Nomad Travel Blanket

When I first saw EllieFunDay‘s organic baby blankets, I thought they were adorable and lovely, but when I heard about EllieFunDay’s mission, I was immediately drawn to the company. According to their story, “EllieFunDay is a social enterprise that designs organic baby blankets that empower marginalized women through dignified employment and a fair-wage.” While the blankets are designed here in the US, they are carefully handcrafted and made in India by marginalized women, who are also trained and cared for by EllieFunDay and its partners.

My children are a little too old for EllieFunDay’s original baby blankets, but their new Nomad Travel Blanket line features adorable blankets that are perfect for babies and older kids alike. I was thrilled to be able to review one of the travel blankets for Hellobee and let me tell you, our Lil’ Cowgirl was just as thrilled, too!

Kodak Gold 100+ (altered)

The Nomad Travel Blanket comes in three styles, each named after an explorer: Amelia the Bunny, Marco the Panda and Lewis the Raccoon. I chose Amelia the Bunny because Lil’ CG loves bunnies. Our new blanket arrived so adorably and whimsically packaged, it was *almost* hard to open it up.

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When I realized I was a snowplow parent

If you thought being a helicopter parent or tiger mom was embarrassing, what about being compared to a snowplow? A snowplow parent is apparently someone who pushes all obstacles out of their child’s way to make the path smoother for them. Well, a few big and small things in the past month have caused me to reflect on whether I have been a tad bit overprotective of my oldest daughter HJ.

Ever since I stepped into the world of IEPs, therapies, and specialists, I have tried my hardest to be an advocate for my child. In some ways, it hasn’t been that hard, since my mama bear tendencies have always come out full force from the moment we decided to adopt HJ. However, learning to trust my daughter, helping her to build confidence, and fostering her independence? I guess I could use a little help myself in this area.

HJ has made a lot of progress in second grade academically and socially. We had a successful IEP meeting in March, where they decided that she had improved so much that she didn’t need to meet with the social worker formally any longer. But as I mentioned in my previous post, there was a part of me that felt like she needed another evaluation and a second opinion on whether there were any other issues going on.

Well, after a very long appointment with a very thorough and detail-oriented developmental pediatrician, we were left with a difficult decision. Based on her history and the information we provided, his conclusion was that HJ was on the borderline of the autism spectrum. On one hand, he said, he could make a case that although she was high-functioning, she had a difficulty with using pragmatic language in social situations and had certain repetitive behaviors that could be consistent with an autism diagnosis. On the other hand, he said, he could make a case that in her situation the label would not be beneficial to her. If it might help her receive additional services that would be necessary for her, that was also something to consider.

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10 Paleo Recipes for the Picky Eater

We recently went through a month or so where Mr. Garland was eating a strictly Paleo diet. He decided to try it out to see if it helped with some health issues he was dealing with (it did!) and to help him jump-start the process of cutting out the majority of the sugar from his diet. During this month, I joked that I was “part-time Paleo” – I continued my normal routines for breakfast and lunch, but at dinner time, I ate Paleo with Mr. Garland. He has backed off a bit from the strictness of the Paleo diet, but ever since that month we have really changed the types of foods that we’re eating at dinner and overall I would say our diet is much healthier than it was before.

I’m an incredibly picky eater, so I was very nervous about participating in this little experiment with Mr. Garland. We also have a two-year-old, which means anything we made needed to be picky-eater-friendly. We did a lot of reading and a lot of searching around the internet for meals that would make the whole family happy, and we ended up with a great variety of ideas for easy weeknight meals that we all enjoyed…and surprisingly, the diet was much more delicious than I expected and it also wasn’t as expensive as I expected it to be. It got very pricey when we tried to play around with baking (we tried to make cookies one night) or when we tried to make healthier versions of the unhealthy foods we liked, but if we stuck to a simple diet of meat and produce, it wasn’t that much more expensive than our normal grocery shopping trips – especially since we completely cut out the need to buy any processed or boxed food!

I thought I’d share the recipes that we found that we’re still making on the regular, even though we aren’t “officially” a Paleo household anymore. I’m sharing 7 recipes that we have tried and absolutely loved, and 3 more than we haven’t tried yet but can’t wait to!

Weeknight Paleo meals for the picky eater | Hellobee

Paleo Swedish Meatballs via Plated With Style

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Baking Bread as a Sensory Activity

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I bake all our family’s bread for a bunch of reasons – it’s quick and easy, delicious, cheap, organic, and has no additives or sugar. But I bake with my children for other reasons.

My minis are five, three and a half, and two years old. They all go to pre-school and in the afternoons, that hour just before dinner can often be difficult. We’re all tired, and I have to get dinner ready and can’t be with the children 100%. If we’re all stuck inside, little conflicts between the children seem to come up one after the other at this time of day, and trying to fix dinner while putting out those little toddler fires leaves us all flustered and out of sorts. I try not to use TV to occupy the children on a daily basis, but it can be hard to find other ways to calm everybody down and get us through to dinner. I’ve found baking to be a good way.

I find that sensory activities are really effective in calming and grounding my children. These types of experiences make them focus and concentrate but in a very relaxed way. For us, water, kinetic sand, play dough and a few others work equally well, but working with bread dough is an especially pleasing sensory experience because the dough feels so alive and responsive. Also, children love to do something that is “for real” and they are so proud when their bread comes out of the oven! That said, I prefer activities that are open-ended so I don’t mind when the kids work with the dough for a while and then move on to another activity without actually putting anything in the oven.

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