4 Amazing, Affordable Ways to Elevate Boxed Mac & Cheese

maccollage1While many of us aim to make super healthy dinners for our families, there are some nights that you either want to be indulgent or are too busy and tired to make something complex. On nights like those, I turn to boxed mac & cheese for an easy, quick dinner. Yes, we all know how much “better” homemade mac & cheese is – this article is not a debate about processed foods vs. whole foods. This is simply 4 amazing ways to elevate your regular boxed macaroni and cheese into something delicious and unrecognizable with just a few simple ingredients. Even better? All of these recipes make dinner for a family of 4 for less than $10. Way cheaper than takeout, and much more delicious. Like I said, these recipes are amazing.

The first drool-worthy recipe is Buffalo Blue Chicken Mac & Cheese.

  • 2 boxes of your favorite mac & cheese (I love Annie’s brand)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 can of chicken (like a can of tuna, but chicken)
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and blue cheese crumbles to taste

Simply make the mac & cheese as the box directs, then add the extra cheese, drained can of chicken, hot sauce, and blue cheese. I like to add a small amount of blue cheese to the mix, then top with additional blue cheese crumbles. The result? Hot wing mac & cheese that is totally to die for.

buffalo

 

 

Next up, Melty Meaty Mac.

  • 2 boxes of mac & cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 5 slices of white American cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 21 Seasoning Salute
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

For this recipe, you’ll need to sauté the ground beef and season to taste with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Make the mac & cheese as the box directs, then add the cooked, spiced beef and American cheese. Mix until cheese is completely melted. Serve!

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This next one is my husband’s favorite: Pesto Parmesan. 

  • 2 boxes of mac & cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup quattro formaggio (Trader Joe’s blend of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Mild Provolone, substitute Italian blend or Pizza blend of shredded cheese)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • Optional: grilled chicken

Make mac & cheese as directed, add cheeses and pesto. Top with sliced grilled chicken for an even more impressive dish.

pestomac

 

 

This last one is a little wild: Spicy Tuna Sriracha.

  • 2 boxes of mac & cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 block cream cheese
  • 2 cans of tuna
  • Sriracha sauce

Make mac & cheese as directed. Add extra cheese, 2 drained cans of tuna, and sriracha to taste. Spicy tuna roll mac & cheese, anyone?

spicytuna

 

Check back soon for even more mac & cheese box elevations. :)

Pregnancy Guide to Caffeine at Dunkin’ Donuts

ddpinSince many of my readers enjoyed the Starbucks Guide for Pregnancy, I decided to make a caffeine guide for pregnant Dunkin’ Donuts lovers.

The current pregnancy guideline regarding caffeine is to avoid caffeine as much as possible. However, the March of Dimes and several other sources say keeping your caffeine under 200mg a day is perfectly acceptable. So, how much coffee is 200mg? Well, it depends on the coffee. Did you know that a shot of espresso has less caffeine than a cup of coffee? Did you know that “light roast” coffees have more caffeine than “dark roast” coffees? Did you know that a 14oz cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee has 178mg of caffeine? Well, that’s why I’m publishing this article: to answer your caffeine questions regarding Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beverages.

So, what’s the deal with coffee coffee? 

According to CaffeineInformer.com, Dunkin’ Donuts regular, brewed coffees contain the following amounts of caffeine:

 

  1. Small (10 floz): 132mg
  2. Medium (14 floz): 178mg
  3. Large (20 floz): 244mg
  4. Extra large (24 floz): 284mg

As you can see, only the small and medium sizes of regular, brewed coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts contain a pregnancy-safe level of caffeine for the day. 

But what about the other coffee drinks?

Espresso has 75mg of caffeine per shot. Lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and other espresso-based drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts contain caffeine as follows:

  1. Small (10oz): 75mg, 1 shot of espresso
  2. Medium (14oz): 97mg, approximately 1.5 shots of espresso
  3. Large (20oz): 151mg, 2 shots of espresso

With Dunkin’ Donuts espresso-based beverages, all sizes are within pregnancy-safe caffeine limits for the day. This includes all iced espresso-based beverages.

Dunkin’ Donuts also sells espresso on its own. It has the same caffeine as the small, medium, and large espresso-based (espresso + milk + sweetener/flavoring, etc.) beverages. You should note that Dunkin’ Donuts calls their “double” espresso a double, but it does not contain 2 shots of espresso – it contains 1.5. If you order a double espresso elsewhere, please remember that there is 75mg of caffeine per shot of traditional espresso. For example, a Starbucks double shot will have 150mg of caffeine vs. Dunkin’ Donuts “double” with 97mg. Do not order espresso-based or espresso beverages with 3 shots of caffeine anywhere but Dunkin’ Donuts, as those beverages will contain 225mg+ of caffeine. 

Check back for more caffeine and pregnancy related articles. And, if you like Starbucks, definitely check out the Starbucks Pregnancy Guide.

Tula Tuesdays: What is Tula Market Value (Or Why Does a Used Baby Carrier Cost More Than a New One)?

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Parents new to the Tula world scan eBay, craigslist, and B/S/T groups with confusion.

“I thought a new Tula went for $149, how come this one costs $300?”

The deeper down the rabbit hole they explore, the worse it gets.

“I thought $300 was bad. Why is this one $1,250?! Wait, look, there’s one for $4,000!”

Then, denial.

“No one pays that much for a baby carrier. No one.”

Then, realization.

“Wait, was that $4,000 Tula just marked as sold?!?!”

This is the story of every Tula newbie, and from there a passionate Facebook chatter group discussion on the legitimacy of “market value” for used (or, let’s be fair, new in package “NIP”) baby carriers. Although I am not a personal finance advisor, and I hold no degrees in finance (yet), I did concentrate in finance/economics at college. Those 18-21 credits give me just enough understanding to explain Tula market value to you, and why it’s important to you as a Tula lover and owner.

Why Are Some Tula Baby Carriers More Expensive Than Others?

The simplest answer is scarcity.

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In economics, the definition of “scarcity” is the same as the dictionary version: there is less of what is wanted or needed. The Tula company is still young and small. Because of this, the number of baby carriers Tula can produce is significantly less than  the number of Tula products customers want to buy.

 

But how come there are some prints in stock for $149 and others that are not in stock but still listed for double or triple the price?

When you add marginal utility to the scarcity equation, you get something that increases the value further. What is “marginal utility”? Well, let’s define it, then I’ll explain it in terms of Tula:

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 1.31.03 PM

In short, the marginal utility of a Tula is what it’s worth to the wearer or the wanter. Yes, a Tula baby carrier has a specific worth and value as a product that is intended to help parents carry their children in a handsfree method. That is one facet of marginal utility, the other facet is similar to the diamond/water paradox. Although water is much more useful to human beings than a diamond, diamonds are worth far more than water because we value diamonds more. We want diamonds. We covet diamonds. Diamonds are harder to procure, a status symbol, etc. The same is true with Tulas. You can purchase many other ergonomic baby carriers for far less than the price of a Tula, but you want a Tula. Tula’s are cool. You like a certain print of a Tula, that one is not readily available, therefore you will pay more for a Tula.

What if Tula just started making a lot more Tulas? 

On one hand, there would be people who were very happy to “finally score” their dream wrap conversion or canvas SSC. On the other hand, the easy access to “scoring” a Tula would diminish the value of the Tula brand itself. There exists a tipping point in the market equilibrium. Make too many Tulas, and run the risk of making Tulas “uncool” and no longer highly sought after. Make too few Tulas, and the secondary market will be making more profits than Tula itself.

So, what does this mean for me as a Tula owner?

If you own a HSA or HTF (highly sought after/hard to find) Tula, you’re in luck. The market is ripe for shedding your baby carrier at a profit. However, as with all things, it’s only a matter of time before the market value decreases or plummets, so do not consider a Tula purchase an “investment”. Remember that the market (ANY MARKET) is unpredictable. Today, a Tula is a hot commodity. It’s stylish, like a Mamas & Papas stroller, but in a couple years, the next big thing will take Tula’s place. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Buy a carrier you love, but don’t expect to get your money (or more) back out of the carrier – unless you plan to flip it that same week. Even then, you never know when Tula can decide to do a “surprise stocking” of 8,000 Tula Love Vogue wrap carriers. So, gamble accordingly.

In other Tula news…

My new Tula, Incognito, arrived this week. Love that it’s black and white. Love that I could make dinner, coffee, and clean up with a happy baby strapped to me, and I love that I paid retail for it! You can buy a Tula at retail right now on Amazon:

 


Find the current market value of your Tula at Tula Market Value Questions on Facebook.

Cassandra (Stephens) Roth/BOTTLESOUP is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

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Tula Tuesdays: The History of Tula In The Wild (and other things)

TITWHistoryOften, Tula newbies ask, “What’s Tula In The Wild?” Or “What’s TITW?” (TITW is the acronym for Tula In The Wild, and it has nothing to do with the first three letters, you potty brain). I’ve decided to break the silence and share with the Tula community the exact, precise history of TITW.

Once upon a time, there was a mom, a baby, and a Tula. This threesome did everything together. They took walks, ran errands, and did chores around the house. Sometimes, they did super fun things like go to the zoo or fly on a plane. Everywhere they went, they saw other threesomes, but these threesomes were mom, baby, stroller (MBS) not mom, baby, Tula (MBT).

Then, one day, the original MBT saw another MBT threesome. The mom said, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen another Tula in the wild!” The other MBT mom was so excited, and so wild, she let out a huge “CAW CAW!” in response.

Now, MBTs everywhere say TITW and respond with “CAW CAW”, identifying themselves to each other as members of the elusive Tula In The Wild cult. Aside from the occasional wild sighting, you can find TITW crazies in the Tula groups of Facebook, and most likely at your local babywearing group. You can also find TITW cult members stalking Ula, the founder, owner, and babywearing model of Tula, at the Tula factory.

Frequently asked questions about TITW

It looks like it says “tit-wah”….is that what I’m supposed to yell? “Tit-wah?”

No. No, that’s not what you’re supposed to do, and please do not yell “tit-wah” at anyone. Ever. For any reason. It sounds perverted. Are you a perv?

What if I think TITW is stupid?

Then don’t “caw caw” back. Just stalk the Tula Love Facebook page later on and find some lady with nothing better to do complaining about how “rude” you were for not “caw caw”ing when she TITW’d you.

I love TITW! But I don’t have a Tula. Can I still TITW people?

I mean, yeah, but you’ll seem like a weirdo. Just get a Tula here.

Is this the real Tula In The Wild history?

Um, yes. Does it sound not real? Totally real.

Now on to other things…

I sold my first Tula this week. I bought Jubilee on an impulse. It was new, I saw it in stock, and I thought I liked mermaids. It turns out, I do like mermaids. I did think the carrier was super comfortable and cute. But, I was so worried about getting it dirty when I was doing dishes, making dinner, shopping, etc. that I just waited to get all the accessories then sold the Tula + accessories together. Now, I want need another one, but I’m debating between Urbanista…I should just stop typing. I’m definitely getting the all black Tula. Unless Tula releases a coffee Tula. Then, I will get the coffee one. Because coffee is awesome. And Starbucks wants to give you a free drink. For real, though. Free drink from Starbucks, click here.

With All Free Clear Detergent, We’re #FreeToBe Cuddly (sponsored)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Please click here.

When choosing a laundry detergent for my family, I needed a free clear laundry detergent for my two kids under two. Their sensitive skin has requires detergent that’s free of dyes and perfumes. all free clear is detergent for sensitive skin and #1 recommended by dermatologists. I don’t just wash my clothes in all free clear, I wash everyone’s! (Well, my husband does, because he does the laundry. #winning)

For $1 off all free clear coupon, click here.

all free clear is hypoallergenic detergent, fragrance free detergent. If you have skin sensitivities, fragrance sensitivities, or are just looking for a detergent that uses less additives and chemicals, all free clear detergent is worth a look. all free clear is a Pediatrician recommended detergent, Allergist recommended detergent, and Dermatologist recommended detergent. all free clear even makes a free clear fabric softener.

With all free clear, I don’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals or irritants. I can snuggle up close to my babies and know that their skin is safe with all free clear.

all free clear is the #1 recommended detergent brand by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for sensitive skin. It’s tough on stains yet gentle enough for the whole family. Plus, it’s safe for use in standard and HE machines. It rinses clean and has a gentle, hypoallergenic formula. Powerful Clean. Gentle on Skin.

all free clear is also 100% hypoallergenic.

NEW From the #1 Detergent Brand Recommended by Dermatologists Allergists and Pediatricians comes all® free clear liquid fabric softener, dryer sheets, OXI mighty pacs and OXI boosters. Use together to make fabrics cleaner, softer, and more comfortable against your family’s sensitive skin. 100% free of dyes and perfumes. Gentle on skin. Safe for all washing machines. Find it in your fabric conditioner aisle!

The NEW OXI mighty pacs give you extra strength cleaning power for 30% less than Tide Free & Gentle pods. Each little mighty pac is full of the concentrated cleaning power of OXI with the gentleness of free clear, providing a powerful clean that’s safe for the whole family.

The NEW OXI booster whitens and brightens clothes. It’s safe on sensitive skin. It costs 15% less than the leading brand AND you can use it to remove stains around the house (it can be used on carpet, upholstery and patio furniture, just to name a few!)

all® free clear detergent (liquid and mighty pacs), fabric softener and dryer sheets have received the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance™.
• Products with the NEA Seal of Acceptance™ are those that avoid certain chemicals, dyes, perfumes and residues that are known to be unsuitable for use by persons with eczema or a sensitive skin condition.
all free clear has only 9 ingredients

Tula Tuesdays: Are Tula Baby Carriers Worth the Hype?

TulaTuesdays1

Tula Tuesdays are a new series on BOTTLESOUP. Every Tuesday, BOTTLESOUP will feature a post on the latest, greatest, and most outrageous Tula news. Stop by for info on Tula excusives, Tula lingo, special Tula giveaways, and more. Caw caw! 

Urbanista Tula. A plain, black canvas SSC Tula. For the practical Tula wearer.

When I first came across the Tula world, I was horrified. $3,500+ for some carriers? That sounded outrageous. Poking around Facebook, I found several Tula communities dedicated to the love of this carrier. I joined a couple groups and observed for a while, and my initial shock turned to interest, and before I knew it, I was one of those crazy Tula ladies. (Well, let’s be fair, I only have one Tula, so I’m not officially in the cult of SSS (“stash shot Saturday”) mommies (yet)).

So, what makes a Tula better than an Ergo? Or a Beco? Is it just that Tula sounds prettier and doesn’t end in “o”? What about Lenny Lamb, or a KinderPack? Why is Tula so HSA (highly sought after)?

From what I know about Tula’s now, I think it’s a cocktail: part status, part camaraderie, and part function. Before purchasing a standard canvas Tula, I had a Beco Soleil and a linen ring sling. Both were adequate, functioning carriers. In fact, when it comes to price, the Beco Soleil retails for the same price as a standard canvas Tula. So, to try a Tula, I sold my Beco Soleil and my linen ring sling (why would I need three carriers for one infant? My toddler is too big for a carrier, right?). This is what I found:

1. When it comes to comfort, Beco cannot compare to Tula

The first thing I noticed about my Tula was how soft it is. The Tula I have, a Jubilee, is made of Organic Cotton and canvas, unlike the Beco Soleil which was made of a nylon backpack-like material. The standard Tula is breathable, comfortable, and soft.

2. Resale Value

Unlike many other SSC (soft-structured carriers), Tula holds its value. In fact, in most cases, a used Tula will sell above retail price because prints are limited and regularly discontinued, and “broken in” carriers are softer and even more comfortable that a new in box (or bag) Tula. If you’re lucky enough to “score” a wrap conversion (WC) SSC Tula, then you’re looking at serious return on investment. Although WC’s are pricier than canvas Tulas, the limited quantity and release make WC extremely valuable. Buy a WC on Sunday, sell it on Tuesday for 3x the price (but, be careful, some Tula fanatics really hate “flippers”).

Flock Tula. An example of a discontinued, HTF (hard to find) print. Available in Toddler on Amazon.

3. Real Money Can Be Made Flipping Tulas

Yes, I know a lot of the Tula Love community will hate me for admitting this, but you can make serious cash flipping Tulas. And, quite honestly, people who love Tulas and don’t flip theirs should love market value (MV) because the supply & demand of the Tula is what makes your Tula so valuable and increases resale value. Yes, there is a faction of Tula parents who think Tulas shouldn’t increase in value and used Tulas should be sold for less than retail, but the fact is people make connections with certain Tulas. People want rare, HTF (hard to find), HSA Tula baby carriers. Tula’s are the designer baby carrier of the times. Embrace it (and get rid of yours before MV drops, mmkayy?)

4. Trading Tulas

Don’t like your Tula? Bored with your Tula? Can’t afford 10 different Tulas? The Tula community is huge on B/S/T (buy/sell/trade) groups. Trade your Tula for a different one of equal value, or have the other person give you some extra cash for your more valuable trade (or vice versa).

Here are some awesome Tula groups to get you started and help you find your DISO (desperately in search of) Tula:

Tula Love (FB)

Tula Canvas B/S/T (FB)

Tula Carriers Buy/Sell/Trade (FB)

Tula Market Value Questions (FB)

Tula Appreciation (Pinterest)

 

Cassandra Roth/BOTTLESOUP.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. 

How Huggies Snug and Dry Ultra Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Impoverished Children (sponsored)

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Click here.

I’m working with Huggies Snug and Dry Ultra to make the world a better place. Diapers are a necessity for babies. As parents, we know this. Often, we groan about the cost of diapers and the need to purchase diapers constantly. Today, I’m thankful I can afford to buy my two children Huggies Snug N Dry diapers, but I know some families are not so fortunate.

Allow me to share some scary statistics:

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“More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families.” – NCCP

Think about that for a few minutes. Let it sink in.

Some of you will be upset by this. Some of you feel compassion. Others will shift blame to the parents, and think, say, or type something along the lines of “they shouldn’t have kids, then”. That feeling is ignorant to reality in America, but furthermore, it is hurtful and unproductive. This post will not be a debate about wages in the U.S., this post will be about what we can do to improve the quality of life for poor newborns and infants.

In Northern New Jersey, Child & Family Resources collects donations for a Diaper Bank. Here are some facts about diaper costs in America from Child & Family Resources:

“The Facts

  • A healthy change of diapers costs $112/month for children and $312/month for adults.
  • Full-time work at minimum wage grosses + $1,160/per month and at $10/hour grosses +$1,600. Average rent for 1 bedroom apartment is $1,045 per month, leaving only $115-$555 in disposable income for all other expenses, including taxes and diapers.
  • In 2007 Morris County had 1,316 children under 5 living in poverty according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Safety net programs do NOT cover diapers—not Food Stamps, not WIC, not Medicare (except hospice).
  • Cloth diapers are not an option. Child care programs require disposable diapers for sanitary reasons. Cloth diapers are not readily available for adults.
  • Diaper manufacturers do not donate diapers unless you have quadruplets or more and can provide a PR opportunity.

The Impacts

On Children:

  • A normal infant uses up to 12 diapers/day; a toddler uses up to 8 diapers/day. In low-income households, a child may be in a single diaper all day or longer, increasing risk of health problems from skin diseases to hepatitis.
  • A baby crying non-stop from being in a soiled diaper for a prolonged period of time is more likely to be abused.” – Child & Family Resources

If you’re looking for a cause to donate to, or a way to make a big difference with a small contribution, donate diapers to places like Child & Family Resources. I’m nominating Northern New Jersey’s Child & Family Resources Diaper Bank for the Huggies #UltraHug grant. A single $2,000 grant from Huggies can provide almost 18 months of diapers to a family in need (or help 18 families in one month!). We’re talking about real results here – lowering the risk of infection and likelihood of abuse significantly in a helpless child. And let’s not only discuss the negatives we’re eliminating, let’s talk about the positives: a family that receives diapers from a diaper bank will have a small bit of their monthly burden relieved.

Help me spread the word about Northern New Jersey’s Diaper Bank and let’s make a difference today. You can pick up some Huggies Diapers at Walmart and drop them off at Child & Family Resources. Walmart Huggies Snug and Dry Ultra are a great choice for leak protection. If you’re having trouble remembering, just write “Huggies Walmart Ultra” on your shopping list or set an alert on your phone.

huggiesultrahugtext

 

If you do nothing else, make sure you give your little one(s) an #UltraHug today and share it on social media with the #UltraHug hashtag. Visit Walmart Huggies Snug N Dry Ultra page for more information on community grants and making a differencehttps://ooh.li/2442909

About the #UltraHug Selfie Contest

From April 20th until June 25th, Huggies will be accepting all selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug, and featuring them in a collage on the campaign landing page. On July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

How to Enter the #UltraHug Selfie Contest

• First, take a selfie of you and your baby and upload that selfie to Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #UltraHug
• In your same post, make sure to include a text nomination (approximately 100 – 120 characters) including a name and/or identifying description of a community project in the US, which you would like to nominate. Make sure the community project is something near and dear to your heart.

 

10 Things You Need For The Perfect Car Emergency Bag for Kids

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Let me be clear: this is not an emergency bag for traditional emergencies like car accidents, heart attacks, or other medical emergencies. This is an emergency bag for your kids who are still in diapers or otherwise still a walking time bomb for wardrobe disasters and epic moody meltdowns (on second thought, maybe there needs to be a guide for teenagers, too…).

1. Food Source/Snacks

Yes, sometimes snack time is an emergency. If you have an infant, always keep an unopened travel sized package of formula or ready-to-feed formula bottle – even if you’re breastfeeding – in your car’s emergency bag. What if something happens to you and your baby is hungry ASAP? Your partner or whoever takes over childcare duties will be grateful you thought ahead. If you have a toddler, keep juice boxes, a water bottle, and pre-packaged snacks in your car at all times. Who wants to deal with a cranky, hungry toddler at a crowded store? Not me!

2. Wipes

Baby wipes are essential long past the diaper stage. Make sure you keep a pack on hand in the bag at all times.

3. Cloth diaper

You may not cloth diaper, but you should keep a 1 clean cloth diaper per kid in your car’s emergency bag because 1) it can fit a baby or toddler of any size, 2) you are probably not going to remember or have time to rotate diaper inventory in your emergency survival kit. You’ll be so happy when you run out of diapers and you have the cloth, one size fits all diaper at your disposal. And, if you don’t want to keep it after, throw it out! It’s not about being eco-friendly in this case – it’s about not having human waste all over yourself and your carseats. KWIM?

4. Spare clothes

Always, always, always have a change of clothes for your kids AND yourself! That diaper shitsplosion might just make its way onto your shirt, too, and you’ll be glad you had something to change into so you don’t have to cut your trip short. I mean, getting the kids out was a feat in itself – do you really want to go home for a wardrobe change? YOU MAY NEVER MAKE IT OUTSIDE AGAIN!

5. Blanket

Kids get cold. Kids get tired. Kids want cozy, snuggly blankets to keep them comfortable.

6. Hand sanitizer

The last thing you need is to get your kids sick because you had to do three diaper changes then distribute snacks/bottles/drinks. Wash your hands, you filthy animal.

7. Disaster bags

Affectionately called “disaster bags” by my husband, Arm & Hammer makes awesome baking soda infused trash baggies for diapers and other smelly kid waste. Perfect for when you can’t find a trash can immediately but don’t want to stink up your car.

8. Tylenol/Motrin/Benadryl

You never know when a fever or allergic reaction can occur. Always have Benadryl and a pain reliever ready for use. This means having a clean syringe or spoon handy, too, to administer the medicine if need be.

9. New toy

Sometimes, your kids will have meltdowns. No, nobody wants to reward bad behavior, but you also don’t want to have “that” kid in the restaurant. Use a new toy as a weapon against meltdowns.

10. Water

Sometimes, we get dehydrated chasing these kids around. Keep a bottle of water for yourself in the car. It will keep you going and prevent you from paying $3/bottle out of sheer desperation and thirst.

The Side of Cobie Smulders Boob is Too Offensive For Morning Television (Because She’s a Mom)

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With two small children, I rarely have an opportunity to watch morning television (or television at all), but this week I took a mini-vacation to my mom’s house and as I was sipping some coffee and doing some tummy time with my 2 year old, I flipped on Good Morning America to see what was up with the morning talk show circuit. I wasn’t trolling for anything ridiculous, but what I saw made me do a double take. And then it made me very mad.

GMA was interviewing Cobie Smulders, a mom of two, star of How I Met Your Mother, and current Avengers actress. While GMA was praising Smulders for how great she looked post-baby on the cover of Women’s Health, they also censored her photo. Heavily. For side boob. (Will update tomorrow with official censored photos)

I choked on my coffee. Did I really just see that? I thought.

Two minutes later, GMA showed the photo again. And, again, it was censored. This time, much more obviously. With pixels, not just a blur.

I really can’t believe that in 2015, the side of a woman’s boob is considered too offensive for morning television, but the top of a boob is not. There’s literally nothing scandalous about Smulders Women’s Health cover. And it’s sold in stores everywhere. I’m cringing thinking about those magazine cover obstructors – you know, the plastic piece that hides everything but the name of a magazine – being used to hide Smulders image. Would the cover of Men’s Health, with a topless man, be censored this way? No, it wouldn’t. And let’s not get it twisted: this is not an attack on men. This is an attack on the way society and the media treat female nudity. And, for the record, Smulders isn’t showing anything “private”. You can see more nudity at any beach. You can even see more nudity on GMA, as long as the subject is not a mom.

Why are we continuing the horrible trend of telling women they should cover their bodies? That their body parts are something to be ashamed of, hidden – or worse, immoral. Recently, an awesome dad wrote an op-ed in the Houston Press about his 5-year old being told to cover up her shoulders. How are spaghetti straps on a kindergartener inappropriate? Why are we teaching our girls this?

This is not a religious debate – but some religious mandate women cover their bodies. The Duggar Family, of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, have infamously used the word “Nike” to tell the men in their families to avert their eyes if a women or girl is showing what they consider to be too much skin. Since the Duggar girls wear a uniform of floor length denim skirts and shoulder covering polos, I think it’s safe to say that only the face and wrist/elbow portion of the arm is ok. In Muslim countries, women must cover their head and face to varying degrees. Some must cover everything, and must see the outside world through a dark net that obstructs their eyes. In our country, where you’re supposed to be free to make your own decisions about religion, we have a very puritan, sexist attitude toward women and nudity. Male nudity = okay. Female nudity = only ok in certain situations. And, sometimes, only okay if it is titillating.

In my opinion, women should be allowed to celebrate their bodies. Girls should be able to wear spaghetti straps to school. We shouldn’t tell women that their bodies are offensive. Ever. We shouldn’t body shame them into insecurity.

How Huggies Snug N Dry Ultra Wants #UltraHug to Help Your Community – Sponsored Post

When I heard from Huggies Diapers, I will admit I was reluctant to reply. In the past, Huggies diapers have let me down and leaked on more than one occasion. But Huggies Snug N Dry Ultra diapers have been redesigned for a better, more absorbent fit, so I decided to give Huggies a second chance and I purchased my Huggies Diapers at Walmart.

Huggies Snug N Dry recently challenged me to share a selfie with my newest squish. Between the spit up, the diapers, and the sleepless nights (and a toddler in the mix), I finally got around to taking a makeup-less, knotty-haired selfie with my sleeping 2 month old:

huggiesselfieswatermark

 

And, it turned out to be not such a bad picture after all. Yes, I’m tired, and yes, I would have loved my own personal glam squad. But looking at this photo reminds me of how temporary this all is. Soon, Isla will be rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, and before I know it, she’ll be off to kindergarten. It was nice to take a moment and appreciate these crazy times.

Huggies didn’t just want a photo of *me*, though….

From April 20th until June 25th, Huggies will be accepting all selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug, and featuring them in a collage on the campaign landing page. On July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

How to Enter the #UltraHug Selfie Contest

• First, take a selfie of you and your baby and upload that selfie to Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #UltraHug
• In your same post, make sure to include a text nomination (approximately 100 – 120 characters) including a name and/or identifying description of a community project in the US, which you would like to nominate. Make sure the community project is something near and dear to your heart.

The community project that’s near and dear to my heart is babywearing. In my local community, there are no babywearing groups yet, and I think a Babywearing International (BWI) chapter needs to be formed in North Jersey, and I’m currently working on establishing a BWI chapter for my community. What a BWI chapter does is provide education and fellowship for moms and dads with small children. It also helps procure a library of carriers for parents to try and/or rent before buying. Since many baby carriers are in the $100-300 range, it’s quite the investment to make and BWI helps parents make the best one for their unique lifestyle.

Babywearing is not a fad or new idea. In fact, we don’t need to look further than our own currency for evidence of babywearing’s history. The Sacagawea dollar/”golden dollar” coin features Lewis and Clark’s interpreter and guide babywearing:

2001_proof_sac_dollarBabywearing has been common practice throughout history and is still very common today, but stroller culture has dulled the practice in the United States. A BWI Chapter can help parents learn more about the benefits of babywearing and how to do it safely. I’m so excited to learn more, get certified, and share my passion and knowledge for babywearing with others.

Recently, Huggies has reinvented their Snug and Dry diapers and came up with Huggies Snug N Dry Ultra diapers, which are quilted and designed to be more absorbent and comfortable.

 

 

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