How We Afforded IVF

Woof. For us, the financial aspect of infertility was probably the most stressful. We have easily spent $15,000 at this point and that is cheap compared to a lot of couple’s expenses. It’s hard to spend that kind of money only for a chance of becoming pregnant. There are no guarantees unless you go to a clinic that offers those programs and it’s still a gamble. They’re generally more expensive up front, so if you get lucky and get pregnant on your first shot, you’re out a lot of money!

We took a year off to save up the money for IVF because the money is due upfront and we also wanted to use that time to get in the best health that we could. Here are some of the ways we raised money:

  • GoFundMe. We had some awesome friends (Katie from BurritoBuzz and her husband) who asked us if they could set up a GoFundMe account for us. This was an amazing gift and it helped us raise a good chunk of money without having to do a lot of work. This was great too, since our goal was to also raise infertility awareness.
  • Garage Sale. We had a massive garage sale. It was huge. My mom and I cleaned out her basement and we also had a lot of people donate items for us to sell. I advertised it on a local buy/sell/trade page and that really helped. A lot of people who stopped at the sale also wished us well with IVF and that was very sweet.image
  • Cookie Fundraiser. This one might not be as feasible for everyone, but I went to culinary school for pastry arts. I worked at a bakery and they offered to let me make and sell an item at the bakery, and the profit would go to our clinic for our IVF. I chose to make giant triple chocolate chip cookies. I did the work off the clock, but it was definitely worth it!
  • Pinched Pennies. We had a lot of game nights at home. We’re homebodies anyway, so this wasn’t too hard! We didn’t make ourselves miserable, but by cutting back on a few “extra” things here and there, you can save a lot of money. Most of our friends understood and were happy to have cheap date nights with us!
  • Apply For Discount Drug Programs. Our clinic provided us with forms to apply to both First Steps and Compassionate Care discount programs. They’re income based IVF drug discount programs. Our nurse also suggested writing a cover letter and we were offered 25% off from both companies and these discounts are good for one year.

I’ve made friends with people who have gotten loans specifically for IVF/infertility treatments with low interest rates, so that’s another good option! There are also grants you can apply for. Another idea is to open a credit card that offers no interest for a certain amount of time. I’m a firm believer that if there is a will, there is a way!!

With all of these tips, we raised a huge chunk of the money that we needed for IVF. We couldn’t have done it otherwise. I know a lot of people never get to pursue IVF strictly due to the enormous cost, so I hope that this might give you some options before giving up!

Baby Dust!

– Chelsea

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Finding My Tribe

Let’s take a moment to flashback to my life about 18 months ago. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for over a year and had recently started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). We had just finished our first (and only) IUI and it didn’t work. Unhappy with our current doctor’s bedside manner, we sought another opinion at the same clinic. We got the news that IVF would really be our only option to try to have a biological child. Other than that, we were looking at a less than a 5% chance, even with the
IUIs. Needless to say, my husband and I were feeling a little overwhelmed. We were also feeling pretty alone. Infertility and IVF aren’t things people talk too freely about, at least not yet anyway. I’m praying this is something that will change soon. Instead of Googling and reading outdated baby forums to get opinions/real life information, I began searching hashtags on Instagram. What I found was more than I could have ever imagined.

Little did I know that there was a huge trying to conceive community on Instagram. Women sharing their journeys in hopes of giving and receiving support and advice from other women going through the same things. The good, the incredibly bad, and all the nitty gritty details that doctors don’t tell you. Since I was very open with our struggles, I at first didn’t understand why most of the accounts were strictly IVF/infertility related. Not many women use their personal accounts for their trying to conceive accounts. Then it occurred to me that most of my “real life” friends might not want to see my posts about sperm, ovulation and PIO complaints. So I jumped on board and made my own “baby Instagram” as I so lovingly call it. I searched hashtags and would follow people going through similar situations as ours.

imageI cannot tell you how much this outlet has changed my life. You wouldn’t believe me, and it kind of sounds crazy, but these women have become some of my best friends. And not that I don’t have amazing friends, but it’s hard to relate to something like infertility if it hasn’t personally affected you. To be able to 100% share and feel with these women is amazing. I have a team of hundreds of cheerleaders! Just today, I had the honor to meet 21 of the women for a lunch. It was amazing. The strength and love these women have for each other is something I have never experienced before.

We do trying to conceive gift exchanges (lots of pineapples themed gifts), we lift each other up, cry with each loss, offer advice, prayers and understanding, and we always have each other’s backs. I’ve found multiple friends who actually go to the same clinic and even see the same doctor as me! What a small world! I know meeting strangers online sounds weird, but I’ve only had positive experiences. If I could change one thing, it would be that I found these women sooner. They have honestly changed my life.

This post was really just a chance to brag about my awesome tribe and encourage you to find yours! If you’re trying to conceive, check out some Instagram hashtags and see what you think! I can promise you it’s a great outlet. And you can be as private or open as you want. Some women never post photos of themselves and that’s totally cool! It’s up to you what to share or not. I’d love to post the picture of all my girls today, but like I said, some girls are more private, so I won’t be sharing to respect their privacy.

Baby Dust!

– Chelsea

Should I Ask For Help When Trying to Conceive?

How long is too long to TTC without a doctor’s help? Obviously I am no doctor, but if you’re asking yourself this question, maybe my opinion will help ease your mind!

A simple Google search will probably lead you to an answer like these:

  • 1 year of trying if you’re under the age of 35
  • 6 months if you’re over the age of 35

Your OB/GYN might also stick to those guidelines. This might be very good advice too; I normally like to assume that doctors know what they’re talking about more than I do. For me though, I made my first “family planning” appointment with an OB/GYN after about 8 months of trying.

I did this because I wasn’t having regular periods. It’s extremely hard to chart your cycle when you don’t cycle (and a lot of wasted pregnancy tests.. and man, they expensive!). So my husband finally convinced me to go. They ended up offering us help and treatments right off the bat due to this. Turns out not having periods is very unhealthy and can lead to cancer. So if you’re reading this and haven’t had a period in over 90 days, please go see a doctor whether or not you’re trying to conceive.

I can’t say whether or not you’ll be offered help before a year, but I can say it doesn’t hurt to ask and be proactive. Especially if you truly think something is wrong. I’ve learned in this infertility journey that it really pays off to be well informed and to advocate for yourself. But you also need to trust your doctor and if you don’t, you need to find a new doctor that you can trust. There’s nothing wrong with going and asking for help! You’re not alone and needing a little help is nothing to be ashamed of. ❤

– Chelsea

How To Be There For Your Infertile Friend

So your friend opened up to you and shared that she’s having problems getting pregnant. (And if you’re a good friend, this will happen. Infertility is way more common than you probably think). Your first instinct is probably, ‘Crap! What do I say? What do I do to help her?’ As a member of the infertility club, I’m here to give you some tips and tricks! Things I wish the people around me had said or done.

Disclaimer: We know infertility is hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it first hand. We also know it can be super awkward to talk about (sperm, vaginas and sex, oh my!). The fact that someone is telling you about their infertility struggles just means they need a trusting place to vent!

Let’s start with some things to do:

  • Listen! We need someone other than our husband/partner to talk to!
  • Listen well! There’s nothing worse than having to re-explain procedures and diagnoses over and over. Try to pay attention and actually understand what is going on with your friend’s journey.
  • Do some quick research. A quick Google search will give you more than enough information to fully understand your friend’s upcoming IUI, or HSG test. Your friend will be thrilled you spent the time to try and understand!
  • Unexpected friend mail is the best! Snacks, bubble bath, fun socks (for all those dates with the stirrups), even just a simple card! All are amazing and all are appreciated.
  • Just being aware. Certain social events and holidays are hard. Being understanding and aware of these triggers is huge. Don’t be hurt if your friend doesn’t come to your baby shower. She’s still so happy for you! She’s just sad for herself.

Here’s some things to try and avoid:

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  • Giving advice. Unless you’ve gone through the same things, try to just not to give advice. We know you’re trying to help, but it doesn’t help. Trust me, we’ve tried it all. Duh, temping sounds better than painful procedures and spending thousands of dollars. But that doesn’t work for everyone.
  • Telling other people about your friends struggles. Just don’t. That’s so rude and we aren’t in high school. Not everyone is as open about this as I personally am.
  • Comparing your 4 months of trying to her years of trying. Again, not the same, and not kind. It’s ok that you got pregnant easily. We wish we could too!
  • Complaining about your kids/messy house/lack of sleep. We are dying for those things.
  • Tell her about adopting. We know! This not only makes adopting look easy (which it isn’t, and it’s not for everyone), it also makes her feel guilty that by following her biological instinct to reproduce, she’s being selfish. You adopt! Adopting shouldn’t be the sole responsibility for infertile people.
  • If you become pregnant, don’t avoid her or purposely not tell her. That’s hurtful. Also telling her in person is a little much. I suggest a thoughtful text message explaining that you wanted to share, but wanted to be respectful. Again, if she’s a good friend, she’s going to be happy for you. Just sad for herself.

These me are just a few little tips and tricks I’ve experienced along the way. It’s hard to go through infertility and I’m sure it’s hard to know what to do or say to a person experiencing it! It’s even been hard at times for my mom and I. She was super fertile, and just doesn’t always know what to say. And that’s ok! Just having the support is really what we need most.

– Chelsea

 

Why Am I Writing For A Mom Blog?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself since joining BurritoBuzz, and I felt like this was a good first blog topic (with the exception of my Infertility Sucks guest blog post). I’m known as Mom to by lovely fur babies, Penny and Sadie, but I have no human children as of yet. I have no fancy baby products to review, and no mom advice that I would be able to share. I’ve never dealt with teething or sleep training. But you know what?

I matter, too!

This may just be my perception as an infertile woman trying to become a mom, but too often women who aren’t mothers are made to feel less than in our society. Whether women choose not to have children or are just having a tough time getting there, we are made to feel like we’re outsiders. And maybe we are. Who knows. But it sucks.

Confession time: I had to unfollow this very blog on my Instagram because I just couldn’t. It’s hard to have that constant reminder of something I so desperately want. I hope that someday soon, I will! Having to struggle for so long will make my husband and I better parents.

I am in no way trying to shame anyone in writing this. In my humble opinion, all women are amazing. We all are capable of showing motherly love, whether we are moms or not.

So I guess all this rambling is basically just a long version of this: you women out there who are struggling too, I got you! I know you’re out there and I feel your pain. I think it’s amazing that these girls saw that hole and asked me to fill it. I gladly will! I feel like we’ve gone through about 85% of testing and procedures that one can go through with infertility, so if anyone ever has any specific questions, please let me know! I plan on getting around to writing about them!

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My babies, Penny & Sadie

– Chelsea

Baby Blanket Music {Review}

My two little girls absolutely love music. I love that they do, as their dad is an amazing musician and is always playing the guitar and piano for his babies. Music is constantly playing in the background at home or in the car, and classical and jazz is our favorites to listen to. I was excited when I recently got the opportunity to review two CD’s from Baby Blanket Music. Developed under the guidance of a wide range of doctors, teachers and child development specialists, and approved by babies and parents alike. Baby Blanket Music  is designed to soothe while enhancing the enjoyment and cognition of music.

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The CD’s I reviewed were Classic Soothing Lullaby Arrangements and the other was Soothing Lullaby Arrangements made famous by Michael Jackson. Both CD’s are awesome. The Michael Jackson is definitely our favorite, as the lullabies are spot on with the songs and I can recognize them easily. There are other several artists available with Baby Blanket Music lullabies.

  • Lady Gaga
  • John Mayer
  • The Beatles
  • Billy Joel
  • Elton John
  • Simon & Garfunkel
  • Madonna
  • Garth Brooks

Baby Blanket Music takes your favorite songs from your favorite artists and arranges them just right so that now they can be your baby’s favorites too! Whether singing softly, cruising quietly in the car, or lulling to a sleepy slumber, this is the perfect way to share your love of music with your little one. Preview any of the albums here tobbmep1mp3-baby-blanket-music-lullaby-ep see which one would be perfect for your baby. You can also send a digital gift card to anyone, anywhere, so they can pick out their favorite album. Gift sets are available in sets of 3 for $19.99, sets of 4 for $24.99 and sets of 10 for $59.99 and they’re perfect for baby showers, baby’s birthday, a welcome to the world gift or just because. Albums can also be purchased conveniently on iTunes!

Don’t forget to follow Baby Blanket Music on Twitter and Facebook!

– Casey

Pro Santa or No Santa? {A New Mom’s Thoughts on Ol’ St. Nick}

A few weeks ago as the holiday season loomed ahead, I decided I wanted to do a cute little post on Santa. Just for kicks, I asked a couple of people their opinions on doing Santa for their children. Yeah, to say their stances conflicted is an understatement.

This intrigued me. I decided to post an anonymous survey to get even more parents’ opinions on Santa. I was completely blown away by the response I received. People have very strong opinions on the jolly ol’ man! Over 100 responses later, here are some of the results:

Will you tell your children that there is a Santa?

84% Yes

16% No

Will you give your children gifts that are exclusively from Santa?

78% Yes

22% No

What is your biggest fear regarding Santa?

45% My children will be devastated when they discover he isn’t real

42% It will distract from the true meaning of Christmas

13% It will cause my children to become selfish or greedy

Will you encourage your children to write letters to Santa?

61% Yes

39% No

Did you believe in Santa?

90% Yes

10% No

I added a section for people to comment with their personal thoughts. Many people made points that I had never even considered before. Here are some of the most intriguing comments for both the pros and the cons of promoting Santa in their households:

PROS:

Santa represents the spirit of giving- 

“Each year we go to Walmart and spend $100 on toys to donate…We want our children to realize that there is a little Santa in all of us and that his spirit is what we celebrate….We think the spirit of giving is what Santa is all about.”

“The boys understood that the reason gifts were shared at Christmas is in celebration of Jesus’ birth and a way of honoring our own love of family and friends by giving gifts like the Magi did for the Christ child. As they aged, they would ask if we were Santa, we said yes and they would delight in helping keep the magic of the season alive for their siblings”image

Santa brings magic to the season

“I personally love the spirit and magic of Santa and want my daughter to experience the wonder & excitement…I won’t use Santa as a disciplinary tool (i.e. if you are bad, Santa won’t bring you presents).”

Santa is a story character like Mickey Mouse

“We explain to our children the origin of St. Nick…focusing primarily on the purpose of gift giving and not receiving because the tradition stems from God giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. We talk about ideas of what to get for each other and spend time picking out the perfect gift…that way they can feel the joy of giving a gift that they’ve thought long and hard about..We aren’t anti-Santa, but they understand it is a story like Mickey Mouse”

CONS:

Telling my children about Santa would be lying to them

“As a Christian, I can’t in good conscience tell my child to believe in Santa Claus and then try to tell them about Jesus and how He is real even though you can’t see or feel Him. Whenever they find out Santa isn’t real, why would they want to believe Jesus is real?”

“We just have a 100% honesty policy- we can’t justify making exceptions. My husband grew up in a very manipulative home and trust is of utmost importance to us.”

Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas-

image“Santa is a mock up of God, sharing many of the same attributes. It devalues the power and majesty of God”

“I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas, to value the act of giving gifts and the hard work we do for them leading up to Christmas. Some big guy in a suit isn’t taking care of and providing for them, we are. They may be missing out on some fun, but I think they will be better off in the end.”


 

So, after reviewing all of the survey entries and doing a little reflecting and research on my own, here is my stance:

Our faith will always be the center of the season

In our home, we believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Giving gifts is a representation of the gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus as a child, as well as a reflection of our love and appreciation for family and friends.

Everything we do during the holiday season will revolve around our faith. From gift giving, volunteering for charity, baking cookies with grandma, seeing lights, and decorating the tree. I hope to center these fun events around enjoying time with family and being grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Saint Nicholas was, more likely than not, an actual person

Many people stated they felt that telling their children about Santa would be an outright lie. After reading several articles on the history of Santa Claus (clearly I have no life and was dedicated to the legitmacy of this blog), history.com summed it up the best:

“The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years. It is believed that a monk named St. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick, as well as children. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.”

There are several more articles explaining the evolution of the story and how it came to be a part of the American Christmas tradition, but bottom line: the concept of Santa Claus is based off of historical evidence of the kindness of a particular monk. 

So will I feel like I am literally lying to my child by telling her a story of a man named St. Nick? No.

Age matters- Santa is what you make him to your children

I am going to tell my child, when she is old enough to understand, a story of a man named Santa who comes on Christmas Eve, plops down the chimney, has 8ish reindeer and a factory filled with elves that make toys. It’s a story. She will love the story just as she loves Curious George. As she grows, if she asks questions, I will tell her that Santa is a story we like to tell at Christmas time to remind us of the importance of giving.

If you promote the idea to your child that a man in a red suit is literally staring down on them day and night, monitoring their behavior and is an endless source of extravigant gifts, I am willing to bet that they will have a hard time coping when they discover Santa is not an actual person.

Santa is what you make of him. If you make him a fun, silly character you read stories and sing songs about during the holidays, I really can’t see the difference between him and any other character they experience on tv.

 

Make the holidays about what is important to your family. For me, I think the world is a hard enough place that if you can’t experience a little fantasy and fun during Christmas time as a child, when will you? Let them dream. Let them get excited and sing silly songs. When they mature, explain to them your beliefs and the deeper meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t have to be traumatic. It can simply be an act of maturity and understanding. I’ve said before, we will always promote our faith and a sense of humility and giving back in our household. As long as that is always at the center of our holiday celebrations, I am going to let my kids fall in love with everything about Christmas. You’re only a kid once.

-Chelsea

 

GIVEAWAY: HoneyBee Baby Boutique 

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Are you ready for a giveaway? We are! 

HoneyBee Baby Boutique was not only gracious enough to send us an amazing product to review, they were also gracious enough to offer to giveaway a set of red ChewBeads Military Tags to one of our readers just in time for the for the holidays! image

Even better news? You can get up to 4 entries per day!

All you have to do it head over to our social media sites (linked below) and follow the instructions on the original post. It’s that easy! One winner will be drawn on Monday, November 30th at 9pm EST. Good Luck!!

Facebook 
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Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers {Product Review}

imageYour resident coupon queen here at Burrito Buzz recently struck gold on a diapers deal. During a Super Doubles event at my local Harris Teeter, I was able to pick up Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers (normally $9.99) on sale for $8.99. I then had a $2 off coupon that doubled, making the diapers $4.99. Then I received a $2 rebate from Ibotta for a final purchase price of $2.99. Um, jackpot!

We have been very fortunate that our daughter has had very minimal sensitivities both to foods and materials against her skin. I’ve used several different brands of diapers and wipes with no problems at all. I had heard of Seventh Generation before, needed diapers, and got such a killer deal that I decided to try them out.

PROS: The main thing that I really appreciated about these diapers that tend to fail me in other brands is the length, durability and stretchiness of the straps. imageThey had so much give to them that provided a snug, complete fit. There is nothing worse than crappy straps that break off, are too short or don’t stay put.

During the time that I was testing out these diapers with my 15 month old, she had the unfortunate experience of her regular check up and vaccine run. You know what that means, nastyyy diapers. And to Seventh Generation’s credit, these suckers held it all in there. I was highly impressed. I mean, these BMs were bad. Not once did she leak out the sides or up the back.

CONS: Not that it matters, but the color is dreadful. It looked like I was wrapping my baby up in a brown paper bag. I know that’s part of their thing- no dyes or coloring. But yikes, not visually appealing at all. But again, not important.

The weight of these diapers was interesting. They were naturally kind of heavy which make checking her for wetness a challenge. Several times I felt like she was very wet and needed changed, only to find out that she really wasn’t and it was just the diaper making her feel heavy. They are very sturdy and almost hard to the touch which is why when you do the bum grab to see if they’re wet, you’re mislead by the thickness of the actual diaper.

In going with the thickness of the diaper, I found them to be not soft at all. This is not a diaper I would recommend for a newborn with extra sensitive skin. I mean clearly they advertise themselves as “free and clear” so chemicals and additives are left out, so I’m assuming they wouldn’t cause a rash due to an additive. But I could see them causing some irritation due to simple lack of softness against the baby’s skin.

Overall, I’m neutral on this one. They did the job, had some nice features (especially if you’re really into all-natural products) but they didn’t wow me. They generally tend to be slightly more expensive then your basic Huggies or Pampers so I will probably only be purchasing them again if I get another “WOW” deal. Does the job, not something I’m going to go out of my way to get.

-Chelsea

Raising the Plugged-In Generation

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How many times have you heard the following phrases:

“Don’t let them watch too much television, it’ll rot their minds”

“Those video games, they’ll make him violent!”

“You never know what they’re looking at on the internet…”

“Why would she need a phone? She’s a child.”

I saw this Dateline 20/20 Nightline whatever episode recently that said “we” (me and you, current parents of small children) are raising the “Plugged-In Generation.” And it’s this horrible, scary thing where our kids are ruled by technology, and their minds really are mush and they’re doomed to be socially inept their entire lives because computers and smart phones will do everything for them. Okkkk….

So then I visited a mom friend the other day that told me that they have their television on for a total of 30 minutes a day. THIRTY. I found this out when naptime was approaching for the kids so I turned on a quiet cartoon, went to the bathroom, came back and the tv was off. Alrighty then.

Is it true? Is all the technology of today still rot-your-brains-out horrible? I’m not so sure.

Call me Mom of the Year, but my tv is rarely off. Sorry Mom Friend, but I think you’re a little nuts. But I also don’t want my kid to only speak in Jake the Pirate lingo and not be able to function outside of a computer screen…image

And when I say my tv is on all day, listen, I’m a stay at home, military mom. My DH is in and out constantly and I just can’t be in a house alone with my LO, sitting in silence all day. But that also doesn’t mean I park her in front of the tube and she sits in zombie mode for hours on end. In the mornings, we snuggle and watch a few episodes of Curious George. And then she’s off. Sometimes its a cute, toddler-appropriate cartoon in the background, sometimes it’s the Disney Pandora station. But my tv is on for the majority of the day for the simple purpose of background noise.

So besides my tv always being on, what other brain-rotting sins do I commit? Well I have a Fisher Price app on my tablet that she loves to play and if she could figure out Facetime on my phone, I’m sure she’d call my sister 37 times a day.

I’m a little conflicted here. I’m not a doctor or a scientist. Just a sahm, shrink in training (read: grad student in Professional Counseling), trying to make the best, most practical choices I can for my kid. So here’s my opinion:

1. Cartoons aren’t what they used to be. When we were little, it was Rugrats, Scooby Doo and Wiley Coyote being blown up by a bird. Now, my child has a ridiculous amount of educational shows to choose from. And they really are educational. Daniel Tiger learns how to share, Curious George does odd jobs to buy a kite, and Sofia the First deals with bullies. These are life lessons, in bold colors, with catchy songs that kids remember.

2. Use technology to your advantage. Sure, as your children get older they’re going to learn that there is a world of opportunity available out there on the internet. So be smart. Use the parental settings on your smart phones, your cable and your internet plans. Block what you don’t want them to have access to, give them kid-safe technology like a Leap Pad. As they get older, regulate who they can and cannot contact on their phones. Technology is expanding every minute but that doesn’t mean you have to be an ignorant parent. Stay up to date and monitor what you child, at any age, has access to.

3. Be safe. Get your middle schooler a phone if you want. Shoot, get your elementary schooler a phone. Give them text and call services and teach them that this is for emergencies only. Sure they may text their friends when you turn your back, but this isn’t a Mayberry,-leave-your-doors-unlocked kind of world anymore. My child having a way to contact me should there be, God forbid, some horrible event happening at their school or just some creeper near the bus stop, gives me peace of mind. It’s a safety measure I think is necessary here in 2015.

 4. Teach them OTHER things. Start young. Have scheduled play time OUTSIDE, every day if possible. Read to them. Read in front of them. Instill in them a joy of reading, crafts, music, couch-fort building and imaginary tea parties as soon as you can. The more you encourage non-technology related activities and make them appealing to your children, the less they’ll even care about watching Frozen for the 94th time this week.

Promoting the fun in other activities will also help avoid that feeling that they are addicted to technology. It can be helpful to reward positive behavior in your children, especially when they are toddlers. But constantly using your own personal phone or tablet as a reward WILL turn around and bite you when you eventually need to take it away, resulting in that dreaded inconsolable tantrum in the middle of Walmart that we all love. Try stickers or a musical toy, something fun they don’t always have access to as an incentive for good behavior.

If you want them to have “app time” during the day, schedule it into your routine. This way, they’ll know when to expect time on the tablet and won’t demand it at random moments throughout the day. Routine works!!!

5. Lead by example. The phone/tablet/laptop/smart watch…whatever…put it away. Don’t text and drive. Don’t check emails at dinner. EAT DINNER AT THE TABLE. Talk to your kids, no matter how young they are. I’m a student and I write for this super awesome blog so I suppose you could say I “work from home.” My child sees me use technology often. But I make technology-free time for her all day long. When you’re interacting with your child, be present. Listen when they have something to say. Set the example that you want them to follow.

I really don’t care how many hours a day my television is on. I’ll give my kid a tablet to play an age-appropriate app every now and then. What’s important is that technology doesn’t rule her life. I’m teaching my child how to speak politely to adults, the importance of fitness and a love of several different hobbies that don’t involve a keyboard or remote.

In the right context, technology can be so beneficial for children of all ages. We need to be forward-thinking parents. We need to not be ignorant to changing technology and current safety precautions. Keep up with your kids, stay current in their lives, and set the example you want them to follow. Technology isn’t the enemy, poor parenting is. We can’t protect them from everything, but we can guide them toward becoming successful, intelligent, social human beings that don’t have carpel tunnel from video games, but instead understand the value of new, evolving sciences that will shape their tomorrow.

-Chelsea

 

 

DIY Puzzle Organization

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Puzzle hell. It’s one step below Lego hell. One very tiny step. It’s when your LO decides to get out every. single. puzzle you never even knew existed under your roof, mixes them all together and then bails for the next shiny object that catches their eye. Awesome.

I’m here to share with you a little trick I picked up from my hard labor time working at a daycare that will help you control the chaos and teach your LOs how to enjoy puzzles individually and make clean up a breeze.

Step 1: Take pictures or Grab Scissors. Ok this step is for my fellow Super OCDers. But if you’re like me and you want to go the extra mile when it comes to keeping your kid’s puzzle madness at bay, take pics. This is really going to be crucial for older children’s puzzles that consist of more than just a lion, a bear and an elephant as pieces. If you can’t easily tell what the pieces should come together as when they are apart, take my advice and take a pic of the completed puzzle. Even easier (if you don’t care about chopping up the box), grab some scissors and cut out the picture frome the top of the box. Boom. Easy.

Step 2: Get bags. You’re going to need something larger than a typical freezer sized imagebag. Go for a two gallon or slightly larger depending on the shape of your LO’s puzzle (a typical Melissa & Doug puzzle should fit in a 2 gallon)

Step 3: Label. Print your picture or grab your box top and tape it to the inside of the bag. If it’s a smaller puzzle that didn’t require a picture, label it something simple like “Jungle Animals.”image

Step 4: Store. Get your bags together and put them in a space that may require your assistance in order for a child to get ahold of them (think large storage bin on the closet shelf)

Step 5: Educate. Explain to your LO that they can have one bag at a time and that each puzzle should be put back in the bag before the next puzzle comes out. If they are too little to understand, even easier. When they want to play with puzzles or you plan it in their day, get out one or two bags for them to enjoy. Afterwards, you have a much smaller puzzle mess to handle and they can learn to put back the pieces in the appropriate bag instead of struggling to get the pieces in the correct spots.

It’s a pretty simple process that will take you less than one nap time to complete but save you an afternoon of irritation trying to sort out a bazillion puzzle pieces. Save yourself the stress and the future argument with your kids over cleanliness of the play room and put the puzzle chaos to rest.

-Chelsea

6 Sassy Sistas Skin Serum {Product Review}

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6 Sassy Sistas is a unique company that has created a natural skin serum that is 99.98% chemical free. The serum is a highly moisturizing product that can be used for a number of purposes to include makeup removal, cuticle care, natural soothing properties (think bug bites and rashes), a carrier for essential oils and several other uses. A natural product to help pamper mama? Um yes, sign us up! We split up a few samples between the mamas here at Burrito Buzz and used the serums for several different purposes. Here is how we used them and what we had to say!

1. Bug Bites– I (Chelsea) was recently at a BBQ and got tore up by mosquitos! I could not stop itching my ankles and legs even after using a Benadryl stick to try to calm the irritation. I decided to try my sample on the bites and I could not believe how soothing it was! The itching stopped immediately and lasted throughout the night. Definitely impressive for a natural product that isn’t even specifically designed for bug bites. Loved  it!

2. Cuticle Care– Amanda used her sample on her cuticles. I think her results speak for themselves. She said “I loved the serum as a cuticle oil and moisturizer. It created a great barrier for dried crack skin, without having to re-apply too often.”

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3.Makeup Removal– Kirstyn and I both tried out the serum as a makeup remover. I personally use a liquid liner and a 24 hour mascara. I also absolutely HATE every eye makeup remover that I’ve tried so far because I have extremely sensitive eyes and they always leave me feeling greasy and with a burning sensation. However, we both agreed that the serum was AWESOME for eye makeup removal! It removed the makeup with one drop of serum, no burning, irritation or greasy feeling.

4. Rash and Irritation– Kirstyn used the serum to treat irritated skin. Here’s what imageshe had to say: “I recently had a mole removed from my neck and the doctor instructed that it needed to stay covered. I am allergic to band-aids and even the sensitive skin ones make me break out. As you can see in the before picture there is a red “rash” type square around the cut. I applied the serum to the rash area before bed and in the morning it was gone, not itchy and the swelling had gone down as well.”

5. Overall Moisturizer– Finally, I also tried the serum as a hand and after-shave moisturizer. Loved it. My fragrance, Toes in the Water, Toosh in the Sand, smelled incredible but not overwhelming. It left my hands and legs soft but not greasy and lasted as long as a typical lotion would.

Megan had this to say about the moisturizing effects: “I used it on one of my heels and then compared it to the other. Definately made a difference right away and really didn’t require reapplication. I had the gummy bear scent, wasn’t wild about it, but I’m sure there are better scents that aren’t as strong. I’m anxious to see how well it helps my hands as the weather eventually gets colder and air dryer. I wash/sanitize my hands constantly between home and work. I’m sure it will work great there too”

In regards to using it as a carrier for essential oils, Amanda sampled the “Fragrance Free” serum and had this to say:

“I used the unscented and found it to be heavily scented with almost a vicks smell. So, I didn’t use with my EO’s because it completely masked the smell of my oils. Also, imageunlike other carrier oils you would typically use for EO’s, this was heavier and left a residue. It probably would have helped my LO’s cradle cap, but I wasn’t sure about putting it on him, with such a strong scent for being ‘unscented’. Great concept, and great for mommies, but not something I personally would purchase.”

So we each had a different take on the product. Kirstyn and I are already planning our order because we loved it so much but Amanda chose to pass. Just like babies, every mama is different. If you’re looking for a great smelling, chemical-free product that can be used for several different purposes, try this product!!

These would make great stocking stuffers and 6 Sassy Sistas kindly offered our readers a Promo Code for 10% off: sassydani

Off to go jumpstart my Christmas shopping….

-Chelsea

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

 

Connected {Military Wives & Deployment Part 2}

I wanted to do a short blogging series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha.) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

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1. COMPASS

Start here. The mission of COMPASS is to educate and train new military spouses on the ways of the land. Aka the roughly 8,392 abbreviations you’ll mostly smile and nod when you hear, why you can’t just roll up on the ship and drop off cookies, education opportunities and benefits, how to get a military ID, what to wear to certain events and how you can and can’t behave on a military base. There are courses you can sign up for regularly to get you jumpstarted on this crazy thing called the military and all its qwerks.

2. FRG

FRG stands for the Family Readiness Group. This is your contact for your spouse’s specific command. If he’s on deployment, these are the people you go to with questions and information on dates, events and how to send packages. FRG’s vary from command to command. Some are extremely helpful, wonderful groups of people that look out for imageall spouses, keeping them updated and hosting activities to mingle and meet people. Some are just there to fulfill a duty (the head of the FRG is usually the responsibility of the command leader’s spouse) and you never see them. But more often that not, this is a wonderful resource to keep updated while your DH is away

image3. MWR

You will find the MWR on basically every military installation. This is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center that is there to provide you with things like a rec center, bowling, golf, tickets for local events, travel information, lodging and activities for children. You can find local activities for military families that will cost you next to nothing and also purchase tickets to sporting events, theme parks, etc for a heavily discounted price. Winning.


 

The military does a good job providing several resources for military families to keep you informed as well as providing recreational activities. Don’t hesitate to google your spouse’s specific base or command and get a list of phone numbers and addresses for everything from free legal advice to the nearest commissary for grocery shopping. Use the resources that are there for you!

I personally think that once you’ve connected with the command and familiarized yourself with basic military procedures, it’s so important to connect with your community. Sometimes you’re stuck on a base overseas and it’s not possible for you to venture out into the local civilian world. But if you’ll be in once place for any extended period of time, I strongly recommend investing in the area around you.

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people across the street. Whether they become lifelong friends or someone you simply chit chat with every now and then, it pays to have people nearby in an emergency when your closest family may be states away. I’ve even had a system before with a fellow military spouse across the street to turn our bedroom lamps on when we got home to let the other know we were safe.

image2. MOPS

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers but it has grown into far beyond that. This is a nationwide organization for moms of younger children simply looking to just get out of the house and meet other local moms and do fun activities. Great way to meet new friends and provide social interaction for your littles.

image3. Volunteer

I’m that nerd that knows the librarian’s names at the local library. Besides the free books, I love using it as a resource to learn about community events, food drives, school supply donation events, whatever. Getting yourself out of the house and doing something simple to give back will not only set a great example for your children but it will draw you closer to the locals and help you not to feel like a nomad that will only be here for a year and then move along to the next town.

4. Find a Church

Finding a local church is not only a great way to meet like-minded people, but also a way keep yourself healthy spiritually. It’s so easy to drown in feelings of hopelessness and lacking in purpose when you’re trying to get through a deployment. Staying connected at church will help nurture your emotional well being and find that joy in your faith that you may have lost in the middle of the frustrating circumstances surrounding you. If you aren’t interested in the religious aspects of church, this is still a great resource for volunteer opportunities and events for children. Check it out, you may be surprised by how renewed you’ll feel after an uplifting service.

Being a military spouse is not something I’ve conquered. I still have no idea what the majority of those acronyms stand for and I don’t think I’ll ever come to a point in my life where deployments are a breeze. But I’m trying. I’m determined to strengthen my family with each separation. It’s so important to me that you know that military life, though foreign to most outsiders, can be a rewarding, uniting experience. Embracing the community around each new assignment and working with your spouse to create a parenting environment that is positive and united is possible.

This won’t be the last you hear me talking about this crazy military life, but I’d love to know where you struggle the most or traditions your family has to stay connected? Let’s get better and better at this military life together.

-Chelsea

For part one on dealing with the emotions of deployment and separation, head here:

http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

 

ZZZ Bears: Product Review

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In continuing with my deployment series, I need to tell you about this incredible organization called ZZZ Bears. Whether you have a child that is terrified of the dark, or one that is confused and missing a deployed parent, ZZZ Bears has a unique and incredibly creative solution.

The story behind the adorable Sgt. Sleeptight is simple. The founder’s child was afraid to sleep at night. In order to ease her anxiety, the parents found a teddy bear wearing a Marine uniform and presented it to her as a protector. The story of protection and safety blossomed into a business with the mission of protecting against all monsters, boogey men and thunderstorms, as well as giving back to military children.

imageWhen I received Sgt. Sleeptight to share with my daughter, I basically had to stop myself from bawling all over the box when I saw the passion and attention to detail that clearly went into this package. For about $29.99, you will receive a quality, soft teddy bear dressed in full “Sgt. Sleeptight” uniform complete with instructions on how to put Sgt. Sleeptight on duty, standing guard so your LO can dream peacefully. They go as far to as provide your frightened babe with a door hanger to let outsiders know that Sgt. Sleeptight is on duty as well as include silver and gold “Slumber Stars” to be awarded after successfully making it through the night.

So not only are these the most creative people on earth, they also have huge hearts. They donate a portion of their proceeds to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation,image assisting those children that have lost a parent in the line of duty.

Not only is this a clever way to bring peace of mind to a child that struggles to sleep through the night, but it also brings a sense of familiarity and comfort to a military child. The language and tone set by the bear and kit that you receive Is sure to comfort a child that is afraid or missing a parent. Knowing Sgt. Sleeptight is watching over them even if mommy or daddy can’t will no doubt be a comfort.

Even though my LO is a mere 15 months, she knows what daddy’s uniform looks like and she surely knows how to snuggle a soft teddy. As we’ve been discussing, deployment isn’t easy for any member of the family. I have no doubt that as she grows, the story of Sgt. Sleeptight will help to ease her little worries as she struggles to adjust to daddy being away.

I am so thankful for companies like this that take the unique needs and fears of military children into consideration when creating comfort items. The story you can create with your little one will let them know that this isn’t just another stuffed animal. If he’s on duty, it’s one more encouragement that everything will be ok and it’s safe to get a good night’s rest.

Thank you ZZZ Bears! I will surely be sharing your product and story with all of my military friends as well as parents of any child struggling to sleep through the night.

-Chelsea

For more encouragement and information on coping with deployments, check out our deployment mini series. Start with Part 1 here:

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1} | A Busy Parent’s Guide to the Latest Buzz
https://burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a postive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1}

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I wanted to do a short blog series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are most definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

My grandfather has been a counselor for a program called Grief Share for many years. I’ll never forget the summer that my family and I lived with him while our new home was being built. I was in high school and my boyfriend (now DH) had just left for bootcamp to begin his career in the Navy. One day shortly after we dropped him off, my grandpa caught me sitting on the floor in his hallway, crying. He immediately came over, embraced me and simply said “I’ve been expecting this.” He explained to me that military life with the constant separation, is not unlike the grieving process. That really resonated with me and helped me accept the range of emotions I was experiencing as normal.

imageLater, as I began to study in the field of psychology, I discovered how true his words really were. There is a model you may have heard of called the 5 Stages of Grief. It is based on the premise that everyone experiences the stages of mourning and loss in the same way. I think every military spouse and family can relate to this broad spectrum of emotions and thoughts we go through when facing a long separation. For me, seeing my experience of what feels like absolute chaos explained in a way that is logical, to be expected and with hope found at the end is incredibly comforting. I give you…

The 5 Stages of Separation:

1. Denial

Whenever I learn of an upcoming deployment, my brain immediately goes into this protective mode. I’ll tell myself, “Nope. I didn’t just hear that. Not the “D” word. We’re just going to pretend that conversation never happened. Carry on then..

This is the time when I am the best “military wife.” I say phrases like “Well it’s the imagemilitary, deployment is a part of it” and “It’s a hard life but you learn to adjust.”

I’m really, really good at the Denial stage. I can cruise in denial until about 2 weeks before he leaves. Yes, I’m making preparations like purchasing items he’ll need and stocking up on the abundance of lean cuisines that I’ll be living off of for the next x amount of months. But I may as well be planning a backyard BBQ.

2. Anger

The Anger Stage irritates me in so many ways but for some reason, I only notice it in other people. Funny how that works. Something about the plank in my own eye. In the anger stage, it’s all about you. When someone is in the Anger Stage, you’ll hear a lot of how “no one understands” and “how dare that girl complain that she misses her husband when he’s just leaving for two weeks!” No. No, that woman is allowed to be upset. Yes, your husband may have been to Afghanistan and you had a baby while he was gone and it was absolutely horrendous. But that should never diminish someone else’s pain. Anyone can experience that debilitating loneliness, no matter how long the separation. This isn’t a game of “whose husband has been gone the longest.”

The Anger Stage is ugly. While you’re in it or around someone else that’s in it. It blows.

3. Bargaining

In this stage, I’m like a child that knows she can’t get her way but is making up crazy alternatives just to try. I say things like “well maybe the deployment will be canceled” or “what if you broke your arm or needed a surgery or something? Could you get out of it then?” It’s a pathetic, pointless segway into….
4. Sadness

This stage always hits me unannounced. For some reason it’s usually the laundry that does it. I’ll be folding a basket and putting away something of his and think to myself “Only a few more baskets and I won’t see his uniforms in the laundry anymore” Yea. Highway to depression.

And then he’ll be gone. In some ways the sadness never completely leaves. In the happy moments, the sadness is “wow, he would have really loved to have been there for this.” In the broken moments it’s “I really, really need him right now. Right this second. And he’s not here.” Even in the everyday moments like “if I seriously have to touch that nasty garbage can and bring it to the curb one more week I’m going to scream!”

This is when deployment is truly like grief. When you aren’t sure what to say to your toddler that hears the garage door open and says “Dada? Dada?” over and over. When people ask you how you’re doing and you robotically reply “Oh we’re getting by!” Because your spouse, your partner, your co-parent isn’t there and the worry that you constantly push out of your brain of where he is or what he’s doing weighs on you daily.

Sadness is the worst.

5. Acceptance

I guess you can say this is what separates the ones that can from the ones that can’t. Because some truly can’t make it in a life that is constant coming and going, unpredictable schedules, worry, trust issues, solo parenting. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But this is where the opportunity lies for truly thriving in such a chaotic lifestyle.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about the several phenomenal organizations available for military families to reach out to for support, education, and friendship. There is a unique community that actually, truly does know what you are going through. Please don’t miss the followup blog on several resources to take advantage of!

 

The bottom line is, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad, angry, lonely and even depressed at times. The important thing is that we are constantly growing stronger and closer. If we, as military spouses allow these emotions and struggles to overwhelm us, it can result in tragedy for our personal lives, our marriages and our examples as parents. You are not alone. Making it through a deployment and coming out as a stronger, better person and family is possible. Even I need to hear that reminder, especially during those Anger and Sad days where I just feel like falling to pieces. Let’s move forward and embrace this life that is so important and is not for the faint of heart.

-Chelsea

Read more about staying connected during a deployment in Part 2 here: http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/04/connected-military-wives-deployment-part-2/

Shoeboxes and Leftover Candy

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I’m willing to bet that you have an abundance of leftover candy and a few shoeboxes lying around your house right now. I have a great way for you to get rid of both and get your children involved in an awesome gesture of giving back this holiday season.

My DH and I always said that we didn’t want our children to be obsessed with things. That they would know the joy and importance of giving. I wanted to share with you one organization that offers a great way to actively get your children involved in giving back.

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Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit organization that provides aid to victims of war, natural disaster, disease and poverty all across the globe. Around the holidays, they begin Operation Christmas Child. The idea of the program is that you fill a shoebox with toys, arts & crafts, candy, imagehygiene products, stuffed animals, sports items, anything a child with very little would be overjoyed to receive.

  • Wrap the shoe box in wrapping paper,
  • Label it based on the appropriate gender and age for the items you’ve placed inside.
  • Drop it off at a pick up location (you can find this on their website) with a small donation of $7 to ship it across the globe to be given to a child in need.

My home church has participated in this program for longer than I can remember. Each year I got so excited to collect school supplies, toothbrushes, candies and toys to give to a child like me on the other side of the world. The organization encourages you to write a letter or include a photo of your family for the child that receives the shoebox. I’ve even received thank you notes from the children I’ve sent items to! I’ll always remember the experience as an exciting, interactive way for a little kid to give back to someone in need.

This isn’t a blog about the greatness of any one charity or organization. I’m writing simply to share with you an easy, hands-on way to get your child involved with giving in a season often centered around getting. I can’t wait to fill up a couple of boxes with my LO. I hope this is a small way of showing her how blessed we are to have a roof over our heads and items to spare. Let’s start this holiday season off, not with plotting our Black Friday attack plans, but with taking a minute to be thankful and to teach our children through example. Let’s educate them on how important it is to humbly give back.

-Chelsea

Hyland’s Homeopathic Halloween Costume Contest!

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You put all that time and effort into the perfect kid’s costume, why not win some awesome prizes?? Hyland’s Homeopathic is running a contest for the best children’s costume. Three winners with the best costumes will receive Hyland’s products for the whole family as well as a $50 Target gift card!

Entering is super easy! Click here to fill out an entry form: http://bit.ly/1MnpTET

And tag your costume pic on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HylandsHalloweenCostumeContest

Good luck! Be sure to tag us too so we can see all of your adorable littles in their costumes!

-Burrito Buzz

Product Review: NUK Gerber Graduates Rest Easy Spoons

imageOk you’re thinking, “This is a silly thing to have a review on. It’s a spoon” and you would be someone who has never had a bad baby spoon. Because they are out there. The ones that are way too heavy on the ends and you set them into a baby-sized food container and then *whoosh* food goes flying everywhere because the spoon fell over. As if dinner time with a baby isn’t messy enough!!

I’m seriously obsessed with these spoons. No need to do pros and cons because there are only pros. The most important thing to me was that they were evenly weighted so they don’t go flying out of the food container (are you getting the feeling that this has happened to me on several occasions? Oh, good because it has).

They are called “rest easy” because they have a genius little stand built in that allows you to set the spoon down in a hurry. So during the roughly 39 times your child will try to imagesmoosh the peaches in her hair and you have to throw down whatever is in your hand to catch her, the mouthpiece won’t touch the table. This is great for going out to restaurants and you don’t trust the tabletop to be the cleanest.

I also love the squared edge. This makes it easy to scrape the smooshed peaches off of little cheeks (or ears, or necks) more easily than with a rounded edge. They also have rubber detail on the handle making them great for gripping when baby starts to feed themselves.

The best part, they’re only $2.99 for a 5pk at Target!! You can also grab them at Babies R Us. On the NUK website you can snag a coupon making them even cheaper.

Seriously you need these spoons. Save yourself the sanity and put them on your grocery list right now. Add them to your friend’s baby shower gift for a cheap add-on she doesn’t even know she has to have.

-Chelsea

Do as I say, not as I do?

imageThere’s this little fairytale story we all play in our minds when we find out we’re going to be parents. Our child will be so well-behaved, advanced at everything, a genius in school, never get involved in the “wrong crowd,” lead a happy, respectful, compassionate, well-adjusted life. It’s all going to play out perfectly because naturally, you’ll be the perfect parent, of course.

And then the child is born and all the parenting books go out the window and you’re desperately praying for just 3 consecutive hours of sleep. You’re in survival mode for those first few months and it is hard, but it’s rewarding too. You did it. You made a person.

If there was ever a time in my life that I woke up one day and said “wow, I need to get it together” it was after that survival phase was over. You start to crawl out of the dark like you’ve been in hibernation for a few months and the light is creeping in on the life you’ve been leading. You’ve been getting (a little) more sleep and you have time for things other than just the eat, sleep, diaper, repeat routine. And all of a sudden it hit me, whoa. I am a parent now. Not just a caretaker or a milk-producing zombie, but an actual parent. It was a terrifying realization.

And it really wasn’t even the act of parenting that terrified me, it was the fact that I was now in charge. I was the “example.” I found myself taking a big step back to look in the mirror and say, “is this what I want my child to become?”

I’ve never touched a drug in my life, I’ve never been to jail, I graduated college and I found an amazing husband. Does that make me a good person? It didn’t matter. What I realized was that I needed to reevaluate was who I was and why I was that way and why I wanted my child to turn out anything like me. If I expect to raise my child with certain standards and values, was I in fact leading a life evident of those standards?

I want my child to have a deep faith– am I living that faith out everyday?
I want my child to be respectful of other people- how much have I gossiped lately?
What is the crap playing on my radio?
What is the crap playing on my television?
Have I picked up a book recently?
Did I actually sit at the dinner table, put my phone away and engage in actual conversation with my family?
Am I taking care of my body?
Am I taking care of my marriage?
Am I a good daughter, sister, friend?

So I’ve been working. Working on being a better friend, a more encouraging spouse, becoming more health-conscious, not using choice words for the driver that cut me off, turning off the tv and having dance parties with my LO.

I was catching up on some reading and drinking my coffee the other morning when I looked over to see this……..image

It’s shocking how much they take in and notice at such a young age. You are your child’s first example. You can set the tone for how they take in their surroundings, how they react to situations and how they control their emotions. Every child will throw a tantrum or say something mean to a friend. But by being a positive example, just with our own lives, not even directed toward them, will speak volumes.

We say it over and over again at BurritoBuzz that you can’t properly care for your child if you aren’t taking care of yourself. I’m willing to say that you can’t properly raise your child if imageyou aren’t leading the way by example.

I am by no means perfect. I don’t even aim to be perfect. My child needs to see failures taken in stride, mistakes made and apologies given. Parenting is hard. But I am going to strive to set the example that I want my child to mimic. Whether it’s a simple as reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee, or how I handle an argument with my spouse, I don’t ever want to be a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of parent.

-Chelsea

Product Review- Comfort and Harmony Cozy Shopping Cart Cover

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PROS: This product is very versatile. It can be used to cover a shopping cart seat as well as a high chair at a restaurant. It has 3 pockets on the back and 3 cloth loops in the front that are perfect to hook toys or pacifier clips to.

This cover is very easy to clean, just throw it in the wash or quickly wipe it down with a wipe. The material is very soft and cushioned, perfect for smaller babes that are just learning to sit up on their own. If they start to lean to the side, the cushion will catch them. I also love that this cover really does actually cover the entire seat. Any area within reach of slobbery mouths is protected.

Finally, I appreciate that is has a buckle on the inside. It keeps baby in place and is adjustable so it is like the one baby product on earth you’ll be able to use for several months and never need a bigger size.

CONS: The sheer size of this thing is ridiculous. It is a royal pain to cart around. The cushion of the cover does NOT fold up well. If I was going out by myself with Callie to the grocery store and had to carry both her and my diaper bag and there wasn’t a cart immediately next to my car? Forget it. If they could make a version that was still soft and cushioned but maybe a more quilt-like style that you could fold up? Perfection.

I’m calling this a “new mom” item. Something cute you find and put on the registry (they have it at Babies R Us). It’s great in theory and yes, it did keep my baby safe from nasty grocery carts and germs. However, now that she’s a full blown toddler that’s walking running everywhere, I’m not wasting my time carrying it with me when I’m on high alert in a parking lot. It’s a good item, well-designed and does what it claims; I just wish is was more practical to throw in the diaper bag.

-Chelsea

Making Your Own Baby Food- Way Easier, Way Faster Than You Think!

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Seriously, it is I promise! When I was about 5 months pregnant I decided that I needed to create enough baby food to last my child her entire life. I really went a little nuts with how much I made, but when the time came for solids, I was so glad I had everything prepped and ready to go! One less thing for my new mom brain to worry about.

I am really not a crazy organic/all natural person. Will I choose something that is GMO-free and all natural ingredients 9 times out of 10? Sure. But I’m not shopping at Whole Foods on the regular. I’m a sahm and military spouse, ain’t nobody got funds for that. I buy what is reasonably priced and what works for my family. When it came to my LO, I looked at all the prepackaged options out there and was just disgusted. It looked nasty, it sounded nasty and the price was outrageous. I started doing some research (thank you Pinterest) and realized that it is super easy to make your own baby food that can sustain freshness for months in the freezer. So I decided to get to work…

STEP ONE: Buy Food

Fruits, veggies, grains, you can even get a little wild and try meats. Fresh, frozen, canned…it doesn’t matter. Here are some recommended starter foods that most babies generally like (until they become toddlers of course) and are safe for baby tummies:

  • STAGE 1 (4-6 months old): Carrots, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, Peas, Apples, Pears
  • STAGE 2 (6+ months or when you and your pediatrician think your LO is ready for thicker purees and textures): Squash, Brown Rice, Blueberries, Chicken, Spinach, Lentils, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Rice, Mango

STEP TWO: Prep and Blend

Pick an afternoon (really you could do it in an hour) and gather a couple things together:

  • All your fruits, veggies and grains
  • Ice cube trays
  • Freezer Bags
  • Sharpie
  • Blender

Steam any fresh or frozen fruits or veggies so they are good and soft. Obviously canned goods are ready as is. Make sure everything has cooled before you start blending.

baby-bulletWhen I did my foods, I used a Baby Bullet. I registered and received one as a gift at my baby shower. Loved it. All of the accessories and storage containers are super helpful. I especially love the grinder attachment that allows you to grind grains, nuts, etc. to add to your baby foods (read: make your own rice cereal!). Is a Baby Bullet completely necessary? Not at all. Any good quality blender will do.baby food trays

Now you’re ready to blend all of your ingredients. I started simple. Carrots and sweet potatoes together, bananas, and peas and avocados together. You can also blend in rice cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, whatever other additives you want to your mixtures. I was too scared to try meat but I know you can easily blend meat and freeze as well. After everything is blended to a very smooth texture, pour the mixture into ice cube trays.

STEP THREE: Freeze, Label and Store

Pretty self explanatory. Once everything is frozen, pop them out, place into freezer bags and clearly label and date. If you have a deep freezer, this is optimal to ensure your baby food stays the freshest for the longest amount of time. Different foods vary in how long they keep while frozen. A simple google search will tell you how long each food you chose will keep.

STEP FOUR: Serve

To defrost, I simply place one frozen piece into a microwave safe bowl and put it in for about 15 seconds at a time until it was completely thawed but not too hot.

That’s it! I told you, simple! Not only is making your own baby food wayyyy cheaper, but you also have the peace of mind in knowing exactly what is going into your LO’s belly. This is also a very effective way to track any allergies or sensitivities your child might have. Starting with one food at a time for a few meals before introducing a new one will help you pinpoint the cause of any reaction very easily.

Now I’m no doctor, but I swear making my own baby food helped my LO be a more tolerant eater as she grew into toddlerdom. Her favorite food is still peas. She is much more likely to try new things as finger foods because she is used to eating all sorts of colors and textures as baby foods. We were also very lucky that she has had minimal food sensitivities throughout her transition into solid foods. Every child is different. In my opinion, what do you have to lose? Do yourself a favor, save the future new-baby-no-sleep-going-crazy you a little sanity and plan ahead.Especially if you are planning to return to work, this will be a lifesaver. It’s not rocket science and trust me, you’ll be so thankful you did!

-Chelsea

Mama Bear Mode


imageI’ve always been the type-A, extremely organized, prepared for everything type. Not doom-and-gloom by any means but, prepared. We live in a hurricane-prone area (read: batteries, candles and water fill an entire shelf of my linen closet), I’m addicted to extreme couponing and my dad had a gun in my hands shooting pop cans in the backyard by the time I was 7. See? Prepared.

Becoming a mom changes you. There was a time after I got pregnant that I had to stop watching the evening news. I just couldn’t take a new story every night of a home break in with children in the house or a pregnant mom being attacked.

I’m not a pessimist but I am most assuredly, a realist. We need to keep ourselves and our littles safe. Whether you’re a SAHM, single mom, military spouse..it doesn’t matter. There will come a time when you are alone. It could simply be while out running errands for a few hours or for months on end during a deployment. With the holidays rapidly approaching, many of us will be traveling, stopping at sketch rest stops, and leaving our homes unattended.

Whoever you are, whatever life you lead, it is always wise to take steps to protect yourself and the ones you love.

So how do we do that? How do we keep ourselves safe?

1. Protect Your Home

  • Home Security System– Not all of us can afford a hard core cops-show-up-when-the-cat-moves-at-night home security imagesystem. But what I can afford is a quality door and window alarm kit that will send out a piercing alarm if someone tries to open my doors or windows. This one will run you about $20 off of Amazon. It’s simple to install, battery operated, allows you to use a pin code to arm and is LOUD! If you live relatively close to your neighbors, they’re going to hear it and guaranteed it will really freak some thug out if they’re trying to get in.
  • Outdoor Lights– My neighbor told me about these awesome light bulbs for your outdoor lights. imageThey are solar-censored meaning they only come on when it’s dark and turn off when the sum comes up. If you’re traveling, these are perfection. You just screw it in to your fixture and leave the switch turned on, the bulb does the rest. About $7 on Amazon. You can’t beat that.
  • Indoor Lights– It probably wouldn’t be necessary unless you’re traveling but it’s not a bad idea to pick up a few lamp timers. You plug your lamp into the unit and plug the unit into the wall. Set the times you want the light to turn on and off. This way when you’re gone, your house isn’t pitch black at night but a light isn’t being left on 24/7 either. They sell them at any big box store (Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.).

2. Protect Your Car– I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows the basics: ice scraper, gloves, Fix-a-Flat, extra phone battery. All of these are wise to keep in your car in case of an emergency. Let me tell you about one extra item you may want to look in to called the Road Trip Emergency Auto Tool.image I recently became OBSESSED with a company called Damsels in Defense. I’ll talk about them a little later but they make this great product in one compact unit that is the ultimate car emergency tool. It is a strike-free glass breaker (so you touch it to the glass, press the button, it shatters the window) in case you need to break your window. It has 3 different LED light settings

3. Protect Your Littles– And they are just that, little. The majority of us at BurritoBuzz have babes that are still too small to understand “stranger danger” and all the other things we teach our children to imagekeep them safe. For now, we can set the example of  behaving properly and safely in public for our LOs until they can better understand.

You can also check in with your local sheriff’s department and register your children in the Ident-A-Print program. Every sheriff’s office should have some form of missing child program that will allow you to register personal information your child so that in an emergency, the police can get identifying information out as fast as possible. They can even issue you a handy little card to give to the officers if, God forbid, you are ever in such a situation and can’t possibly think straight enough to tell them your missing child’s height. This will help.

4. Protect Yourself– Now, like I said, my Daddy had a firearm in my hands at a very young age so that I could learn how to safely and effectively handle a weapon. This option is not for everyone. Regardless, you should always have something on your person that can protect or draw attention to you should you be confronted.

Back to that company I’m obsessed with, Damsel’s in Defense. They make incredibly effective, reasonably priced, cute personal protective items for women. I carry their Pouch O’ Pepper Spray, a keychain that snaps shut to keep little fingers out but holds a powerful imagepepper spray with me at all times. I also love their Wristle. It’s a paracord bracelet that can unravel to be used for a number of situations as well as a high pitch whistle. It’s $10 and it’s cute. I swear I don’t work for these people but seriously, every product they sell is legit.

As mothers, we are given the task of protecting the most beautiful gifts on this planet. Unfortunately, it can be a nasty world out there. And that puts us into Mama Bear Mode. Take daily, proactive steps to secure yourself and your family. Make sure this holiday season is only filled with memories of family and love.

-Chelsea

Product Review: Moby Skip Hop Bath Spout Cover

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Product Review: Moby Skip Hop Bath Spout Cover

PROS: This cover is spectacular. Pretty much the day we started putting my LO in the bath tub without an infant seat, I became worried about her hurting herself on the spout. This simple, $13 whale made of soft but tough rubber is genius. It looks cute but it is incredibly effective.

The bathroom we use to bathe our LO is also our only guest bathroom. I love that this is a cute piece, but it can also be kept on while using the tub and shower for an adult. The “spout” area allows the shower switch to be accessible but still protected during silly bath time adventures. The bottom is open, obviously allowing water to run, but it also has a strap to keep it in place should little hands try to pull it down or off the spout.image

CONS: Umm…it only comes in blue?

Seriously, this is a great product. It eases my mind while my child participates in the Tub Olympics. It’s affordable, good quality and does what it claims. 

This is officially my new go-to baby shower gift!

-Chelsea

Mom For President

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I’ve had it. I’ve simply had it with the issues of today and because of this, I am officially running for President. We have endured the atrocities of our culture for long enough and I’m putting a stop to it. Consider this my official throwing-of-the-name-in-the-hat.

image1. For my first act as President, I will require every store restroom (clothing or grocery) be hereby fit with a toddler chair. So that every hardworking, American mother may experience a peaceful pee in any location she may be.

2. My second act as POTUS will henceforth ban any individual from touching a pregnant belly without prior permission. Second Cousins, Great Aunts, Strangers in the Checkout Line, I’m looking at you. Lest you be slapped with heavy fines and a note on your criminal record, hands off.

3. Thirdly, I will propose a bill to fund the creation of a yoga pant that does not reveal the line of the panty. We will wear them as pants. We will choose comfort over denim. And we will keep our undergarments private! image

4. Next, I will require that all mall stores have aisles wide enough for strollers (The Children’s Place, seriously. There is no excuse).

5. All child shoes will be simple, easy to put on and not make a mother feel as though she is breaking every single toe off of her child while attempting to dress them for the day.

6. Next, any individual selling direct sales, specifically magical wraps to shrink post-baby tummies, will be limited in their outrageously frequent and mostly obnoxious postings to once every 2 weeks.

7. As a candidate for President of this fine nation, I am appalled that no one before me has declared that every Starbucks adopt a delivery system. I will make this declaration. image

8.  While on the topic of home delivery, America will bring back the Milk Man. Infants, toddlers and children alike consume a shocking amount of vitamin D per day and the regular delivery of the beverage will help relieve the stress of mothers across this nation.

9. All grocery carts will be subject to the same safety scrutiny as vehicles when it comes to holding an infant car seat. There will be no more unsafe wobbling of baby carriers on the shoddy wire seat. No. More.

10. Every public restroom in the United States of America will be equipped with a clean, liner-filled, diaper changing station.

11. Purell. Purell will become the new fire extinguisher. Every 50 feet.

12. All infant pajamas with 63 snaps all the way to the toe will be banned. They are a nighttime sanity hazard and will not be tolerated.

image13.  The abhorrent LIES told by the tags of infant clothing will be reconfigured.  Inches or weight, not months will be the new measurement.

14. As President, I will require all children’s menus at restaurants to provide several fruit and vegetable options.

15. Finally, in an act that will lead this nation into great success and prosperity, I will provide all new parents with a 5 year subscription to Netflix and a DVR. Long nights bonding with a newborn are a crucial necessity of life. So is Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

You’re Welcome America.

-Chelsea