Milk Nursingwear Dress Review & $35 Gift Card Giveaway! #sp
November 18, 2015
If you’ve read my article 8 Places to Buy Stylish Nursing Clothes, you know the struggle of finding functional, fashionable clothing for breastfeeding moms. I featured Milk Nursingwear in my original post, and I was absolutely flattered when the company reached out to me to review their clothing AND give away a $35 gift certificate to my readers. Amazing!
Milk Nursingwear is a mom-owned company born out of necessity. Founder Elisa Minsk Hartstein thought up the idea for a fashion forward nursingwear company in 1997 after successfully breastfeeding four children. I am a huge fan of Elisa’s company and her success. She is an aspirational figure for all of us supermoms.
I chose to review Milk’s cut-out neckline nursing dress. When I saw it on the website, I thought, “Wow, that doesn’t look like a nursing dress at all!” Which is exactly how I want my breastfeeding specific clothing to look. Who wants their outfit to scream lactation? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?
When I got the dress, I was super impressed by the quality. The dress is super soft, the length was great, and I was ready to wear it with pride. I got the dress in purple because it looked fun and fancy. I’m planning on wearing this dress to some Thanksgiving festivities next week, so check out BOTTLESOUP’s social media for more action shots.
UPDATE: Due to technical issues, the giveaway wasn’t working when posted. We’ve fixed the issue so you can now actually enter the contest (ha). The giveaway will open Saturday, November 21 at 1PM and will end Saturday, November 28th at 1PM. Good luck
College Moms: A Guide to Getting Back to School
November 4, 2015
How to Go Back to School When You Have Small Children
Throughout my motherhood journey, I’ve met so many moms who are bored at home or desperate to rejoin the workforce. But many are left wondering how to get back on the horse after an extended period of leave. While lots of experts advise moms to “stay current” with their industry during any period of leave, going on interviews and explaining that you left the workforce to enjoy your small children isn’t always an accepted response (fair or not).
What ends up happening a lot of the time is truly sad: women who want to go back to work end up being told “no” so many times that they eventually give up and become full-time homemakers, even though they desire to do something else. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t have to be your story. You can go back to school and bridge the gap between extended maternity leave and your return to professional life. These aren’t just words on a screen: I’m currently enrolled in a full-time, in-person Master’s program, and I have a 2 year old and an 8 month old at home. Crazy? I don’t think so. Busy, though, would be an understatement.
Here are some of the most common barriers for moms who want to go back to school (or attend college for the first time):
It’s no secret that higher education is expensive. If you’re lucky, perhaps you live nearby a state college or community college that is relatively affordable. However, even the least expensive schools can come with a shocking, seemingly impossible tuition bill. What’s a mom to do? Explore scholarship options through your school first. Many times, there are scholarships for “non-traditional” students, which is any student starting an undergrad program at age 19+. Many moms meet this qualification. There are also scholarships from local businesses and organizations, such as your town’s Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, etc. that have relatively low competition for funds. You can always go beyond that and search for scholarships online, but be careful about giving your personal information out. Ensure that the site is trustworthy, first.
Another option that many people hope to avoid is student loans. Student loans have a really bad reputation, but they don’t have to be big, bad and scary. If you opt for student loans, try to keep your entire student loan financing to federal student loans instead of private student loans. Federal student loans offer flexible repayment options based on income, the ability to defer your loans if you find yourself unemployed, and some are interest-free during full-time studies.
The best option, aside from scholarships, is grants. If your family makes less than $80k a year, you likely qualify for some federal and state grants. In some cases, these grants cover the majority – if not all – of your college costs.
Let’s say you’ve applied, been accepted, and find a way to finance your education. There are several ways to achieve free or low-cost, high-quality childcare. The first (and most obvious option) is to have a family member watch your child/children. If you have another parent in the picture, plan your class schedule around their schedule. If they work a typical 9-5, you can take classes in the evening. If they work nights, schedule your classes for morning/early afternoon. If you don’t have a partner to lean on, any other trusted family member or friend will do.
Another great, often overlooked option is university childcare. Most colleges and universities have daycare on campus because professors, administrators, and staff need childcare – but as a student, you can also use these services! University childcare is amazing because it’s often low-cost and run by child development experts and students, so your children will receive the highest quality, state of the art care at a fraction of the cost of traditional daycare. Another bonus? Bringing your kids to on-campus daycare is super convenient! You can easily drop them off and pick them up, and check in on them between classes and study sessions.
The last option is traditional childcare such as daycare centers, nannies, or babysitters. This depends on your budget. But a combination of family, university, and private resources can make childcare a realistic, affordable option during your studies.
Ok, so you can pay for it, your children will be taken care of, but you still have your doubts: life is crazy enough with littles, do you really have time to go to class, study, write papers, and do research? The answer is YES! Have you ever had a super busy day and reflected on just how much you accomplished? It was probably a mix of sleep-deprived shock and awe, but you know what I’m talking about – those days when you get everything done, are thrown a few extra curveballs, and still survived. The key is to take everything one day at a time. But, also, being organized and knowing “the plan” will help you stay sane.
Once the first week of classes begin, you’ll have a syllabus for each course, which outlines all your reading and work. Write it all down in your planner. Make sure big projects have “warnings” in your planner well ahead of the due date, so you don’t open up the next week to find you have 3 term papers and a midterm due by Tuesday. Yes, it will take some adjustment. Yes, it helps to have a solid support system. But you know what? It’s not impossible. You can do it! I believe in you.
I’d love to know what other obstacles moms have or anticipate when they think about going back to school. Also, I love helping other people figure out how to make their educational goals a possibility. I am by no means an expert, but I am a passionate Googler and researcher of higher education things. I’ve helped many family members and friends get accepted to schools, secure funding, and schedule their way to academic success. I would be honored to help any of my readers achieve their dreams. Just drop me a line : )
Southwestern Quinoa & Chicken Bowls
October 25, 2015
Real talk: I have struggled with accepting quinoa as a food option. After countless attempts to make it palatable, I declared that I was “done” with quinoa for good. However, the health benefits kept calling my name. So, decided to give quinoa one more try, and, boy, am I glad I did.
My inspiration for this recipe came from Pinterest. I sifted through hundreds of quinoa crockpot meals before I decided to go for a South of the Border type theme. I figured the worst-case scenario would be to cover the end result in cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce. After all, what’s not delicious when smothered in cheese? (As I typed that, I thought of about 14 things that do not sound delicious with cheese. But, I digress.)
My end result was a meal my husband and toddler both approved of (and so did I!). It was so good, my husband literally said, “You need to write a blog about this.” So, here I am, sharing my fabulous quinoa recipe with you. Please let me know how it turns out – and share your favorite quinoa crockpot recipes in the comments below.
Happy slow cooking!
1.5 cups quinoa (rinsed well)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (TJ’s)
1 can water
1 chopped onion
1 can Cuban black beans (drained)
2 chopped red peppers
1 bag roasted frozen corn
1/2 jar salsa verde
1 pound chicken breast seasoned with salt, pepper, and chipotle
5-6 hours in crockpot on low
Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream to taste. Green onions/scallions or fresh cilantro optional.
How to Save Money on Holiday Cards and Holiday Photos
October 24, 2015
Want to take your own photos this holiday season? Check out our DIY tutorial for amazing infant/baby holiday photos.
Sending out Christmas cards is something very important to me. Since my son was born, I vowed never to skip a holiday card no matter what else was going on. My reason? Kids really do grow up so fast, and one day when they fly the nest it will be nice to look back on our annual tradition and see how much they changed (or stayed the same) from year to year.
For the past two Christmases, I took my son’s photos by myself. With one small kid, it was super easy. Just park him in front of a Christmas tree with some props and take the pictures. Now that we’ve added our daughter to the mix, I decided to get professional photos taken this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to break the bank.
I found a coupon for Target Portrait Studios online. If we get the photos taken by October 31st, it’s only $49.99 for all your high-resolution images with no session fees. You might be thinking: isn’t October a little early for Christmas photos? And I’m saying no, definitely not. Especially if you want to get the photos printed and the cards sent out before Christmas week. Plus, the photography costs aren’t the only savings to consider.
Another think to consider is outfits. By the time mid-November rolls around, most holiday themed outfits are sold out and stores are starting to bring out spring lines rather than cozy, Christmastime wear.
(If you still want to DIY, I have a great tutorial on DIY holiday photos for infants. You really just need a nice setting/backdrop (any festive location will do), a laundry basket or gift box, and a fur-like blanket.)
Minted, where I order my cards for everything, offers 10% off your entire Holiday card order if you do it early. They also give you $25 off your first order with this referral code (and I get $25, too. So, thank you!). This can bring your total savings up to $40+ depending on which card you choose and how many you need to send out. Minted’s holiday cards are on cardstock, which is different than typical photo paper cards most services use. Cardstock is thick and luxurious. It will make your holiday cards stand out. I’ve also gone the postcard route from Minted to save money – and the postcards turned out really well. Let me be clear: I am not just trying to “sell” you so I get $25 credit. I’m buying my cards from Minted whether you do or not
10 Things Dads Should Know Before Having Kids
August 4, 2015
Tonight’s guest post is from Mr. Bottlesoup, dad of 2 little people and recovering sports fan. Mr. Bottlesoup holds a B.A. in Psychology/Biological Anthropology from Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College, a M.S. in Sports Business from New York University, and is currently a stand up comic and podcaster (not a joke).
Things I wish I knew before becoming a parent: Continue Reading