Saturday, October 22, 2016

fall allergy survival guide

this post is sponsored by the lovely people of cvs minute clinic. as always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

it's that time of the year. each fall, right as school is getting into full swing, it starts up again. my kids come home with itchy, watery eyes. they start to sneeze and cough. their asthma kicks in and they start wheezing and coughing some more. it seems like a never ending cycle and we face it every year at this time. 

my kids have seasonal allergies. five out of five kids come home in the fall with snotty noses and wheezy coughs. ragweed and dust does us in each and every fall and it seems to take an army of medication and precautions to get them back on the healthy road again. 

this year we are determined to be proactive and try to keep our kids in school and out of the doctor's office. in years past, their allergies have led to ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis and other horrible sicknesses that can follow sinus congestion. we are trying to avoid all of those this year so are taking actions to prevent the congestion in the first place. 

first, it is important for us to know the difference between a cold or the flu and allergies. allergies are a body's hyper-sensitivity to substances in the environment. allergies are long lasting. while a cold usually will clear up after 7-10 days, allergies can last for months (as seen by my five kiddos). if you have a fever, it's not allergies, it's a cold or the flu. aches and pains...that's also a sign of the flu. if you have consistent itchy eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing and have symptoms that occur as soon as you come in contact with an allergen, it is probably allergies. the best way to treat allergies is to avoid them in the first place. 

here are five things that we do as a family to keep allergies and their symptoms at a minimum.

create a health plan with a nurse practitioner

every fall, we stop in to our cvs minute clinic to meet with a nurse practitioner to develop a family allergy action plan. we get all the medications we need filled for our kiddos and we get any and every new tip we can get for allergy prevention. we are fortunate enough to have two minute clinics in the same parking lot, literally two miles from my house. one is inside target and the other inside a cvs store. both are fantastic and i can even make online reservations for an appointment and can show up ten minutes before my appointment time completely checked in. it's fantastic and so convenient. i don't like to pull my kids out of school so i can even do all of their appointments on a saturday morning. we are in and out in no time and they don't have to miss any school assignments. on top of getting their prescription allergy medicine filled, we also get some great tips on allergy prevention. the nurse practitioners have given us all of the following tips to keep our kids healthy in the fall. 

clean, clean, clean

this is, arguably, my least favorite thing about fall allergy season. i have to be very diligent about keeping my house clean. as lovely fall breezes kick up, so do allergens. as kids run in and out of my house in the lovely, cooler weather, they bring in all sorts of allergens that can affect them for months. as my kids are allergic to dust, dusting and vacuuming is increasingly important over the fall months. these responsibilities are passed on to my children and they have to take part in the allergy prevention. we also are pretty diligent about vacuuming and mopping our hardwood floors as well. dirty or dusty floors can reek havoc on allergy symptoms so the best way to combat it is to keep things as clean as possible.

wash their clothes

i don't like doing more laundry than i have to and i am definitely not apposed to wearing jeans more than one day, especially for my kiddos. i do, however, have to make sure that in the fall, they don't wear sweatshirts and t-shirts repeatedly. those articles of clothing are right next to their little faces and, while they are enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors, they are also collecting allergens. the only way to get rid of those allergens is to wash their sweatshirts and t-shirts. i have to wash them more than i would like but it does make a huge difference in how my kids feel.

wash bedding frequently

this is another thing i would like to avoid but i have to force myself to do it often, especially in allergy season. bedding is a breeding ground for dust mites and dust just loves to fill up every nook and cranny. add to that the ragweed that comes into our house during the fall and it can be a disaster for my kids as they breath during the night time. i have to be extra diligent to wash bedding at least on a weekly basis.

keep windows closed

this one kills me. i feel like i wait all summer long for fresh air but i have to remember that open windows means all of the outside is free to come inside. this is really bad news for my allergic kiddos. i have to keep the windows closed and run the AC or the heater if i want the air circulating.

change air filters

this really needs to be done every season but it is especially true for us in the fall. we have to have our air filters clean so the air that is circulating is as clean as possible. some people also invest in hepa filters. we used to have one when our kids were toddlers and they worked wonders but as our kids have grown and their allergies and asthma have been better controlled, we have been able to cut back on the hepa filter use. with or without a hepa filter, keep air filters in the house clean during this season.

wash hands and face each time you come in from outdoors

this one is hard for my little boys to remember but they are getting used to it. each day after outdoor play, they have to come in and wash their hands and their faces. this simple activity removes a big portion of the ragweed from their bodies before they keep playing in the house. it has made a huge difference in how they feel throughout the day. they also have to shower and wash their hair every night. my kids play outside all afternoon. if they come in covered in ragweed pollen and do not shower, they will be breathing that pollen all night long. when that happens, the pollen also spreads to their bedding and they can keep coming in contact with it again and again. showering and washing out the pollen is very important each and every night. 

stay diligent with medications

my kids take their allergy medicines every single day. even when their allergies seem under control, we still have them take their medicines. we use it as prevention and we can tell from one day to the next if they have forgotten a day of medicine. this goes for their over the counter allergy medicine, their nasal sprays, their inhalers and their prescription allergy medicines. they have it all and they are religious about using it every day. when we miss, we tend to get really bad, really fast. that's just something we are not willing to deal with this year so we are taking care of our kids daily to make sure we don't get to that point. 

that's it. it may seem daunting but each day i stay diligent is a day my kids can function allergy and sickness free. that is a huge win in my book. how about you? how do you combat allergy season for your kiddos? we can't wait to hear.

Friday, September 23, 2016

kitten must-haves

this post is sponsored by rachael ray's nutrish. the thoughts and opinions are my own.

bringing home a new kitten to the family is such an exciting thing. be sure to be prepared by having all that you need on hand to make for a smooth transition. we recently rescued our kitten, lola from a shelter and have created this list of absolute must-haves for the new fur baby in your life.

1. food

when it comes to food, i only want to give lola the best. i pick nutrish zero grain.

cats' natural diets are very low in grains, as cats are natural carnivores. also, some cats may have grain allergies, which can cause skin irritations or other problems. these cats can benefit from a grain free diet, which removes the grain allergens.

real chicken or fish is always the number one ingredient in every bag of rachael ray™ nutrish® for cats. there's no ground corn, wheat or soy. and there's never any poultry by-product meals, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives. just real meat or fish and wholesome veggies plus the vitamins, minerals and taurine your cat needs to be healthy and happy.

also? as soon as i bought a bag of zero grain she legit tried to break into it and start eating. she absolutely loves it,. truly. it makes me feel good to be giving her the best, too.

2. food/water bowls
these are a given on any list of kitten must-haves, but how cute are these two sets?! gotta have it.

vivipet cat dining table

cat bowls with slurp and meow set

3. litter box

litter boxes are a for sure must. who wouldn't like this self cleaning one? if you are like me and don't have a big house with extra room for a litter box to hide, try this super cute piece of furniture that disguises the litter box perfectly! it's truly wonderful.

scoopfree ultra self-cleaning litter box

merry products pet house and litter box

4. litter

who knew litter had so many options?!  genelle and i found out about this awesome litter while at catcon and fell in love. they even have a yummy scented lavender option that helps disguise any cat smells. my favorite part is that it isn't as heavy as other brands and does a far superior job. 

5. collar

a collar is the perfect personality accessory for your new fur baby. show off your style with these favorites. 

blueberry pet pack of 2, hunting expedition with fish bone and leopard print adjustable breakaway kitten cat collar with bell

blueberry pet floral collection dog collar with red cherry, pink rose, green cactus and palm tree patterns

6. bed

although a cat bed isn't a necessity, (lola sleeps on the couch) we really love this cute, cozy option. 

kittikubbi - cat bed cave hideou

7. scratch post

you need to give your new addition a place to scratch, unless you want your furniture to be destroyed. we love this chic scratcher/lounge.

about nutrish:

nutrish is the fantastic line of super premium pet food created by the brilliant pet advocate, rachael ray. nutrish is made with simple, wholesome ingredients like real meat or fish, and do not contain poultry by-product meal or fillers.

a portion of nutrish proceeds go to rachael’s rescue®, which was created to help animals in need. to date, over $14MM has been donated. this money has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for these unfortunate animals.

all of the rachael ray nutrish products are available where you shop for your family's groceries, making specialty recipes accessible and convenient for every pet parent. if you are considering adding a new member to your family, please consider adoption. 

please follow nutrish on social media:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

fun finds: decorating for fall

i love the fall. it is my favorite season of all and my heart does a little happy dance on this day each year. i am thrilled as i prepare for all the beauty that is this glorious time of the year. i love the crisp weather, the falling leaves, the beautiful colors; everything about this time of year brings me joy. i look forward to decorating for this season each year as well and every year i stockpile more and more things to get my home ready. this year i have searched through etsy to find more amazing finds that may need to be added to my fall decor collection. you may want to add them to yours as well...


Friday, September 9, 2016

monthly must haves: lego architect series

my littles are lego obsessed. it's pretty much lego building all of the time at our home. i love the way the can follow the directions and build away, but i love even more when they use their own creativity to build amazing creations from their minds imagination. recently i came across the lego architecture series, which has become a new obsession for all of us. the boys love building "like an architect" and we are having so much fun learning together about the buildings, the countries/cities they each represent and other fun facts. if you are looking for a great way to learn and connect with your littles, check out some of these sets that we love and start making memories together. enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

i am a no mom

i am a people pleaser. i want people to like me. i want to make others happy. i want to feel like i have it all together, that i don't have limits, that i can do it all. i want to be a "yes" mom and show the world that i can do it all, be it all, participate in it all...but being that person makes me absolutely miserable.

there are decisions put before me on a daily basis. this week alone, i was asked to be a room mom, join a new bible study, become a direct sales marketer, apply for a new job that i would be "perfect" for, and go on lunch and dinner dates with several friends. i wanted to say "yes" to everything. i wanted to pile more and more and more on my plate in an attempt to manage the whole world, it's problems and it's social calendars at one sitting. it's flattering to be considered for something. i want to be a part of every single group. i want to be a helper and invest in the lives of others. i want to be everything to all people. the truth is, however, none of those things would be what is best for me and my family. so, in spite of my inner struggle and the feelings of disappointment it brings, i'm learning to be a "no" mom. 

maybe i'm getting older and wiser but i have learned how precious and valuable my time is. i've also learned that my life has to function with certain priorities in place. my relationship with my husband and my kids come first then everything else falls into place after that. it's like a great big, glorious chocolate fountain. if one area is full to overflowing, it fuels the next area and then the next, and then everything under that. if any of my important areas are out of order, the most valuable relationships in my life dry up. i don't want that to ever happen.

so, today, i have said "no." i've said “no” to a certain job, “no” to another group, “no” to being a room mom. i've said "no" to countless non-essential things so that i can keep the essentials in their proper place. i've said "no" to things that fill up my plate just to make it full. i've said "no" to doing things for others when that means i have to sacrifice more and more of myself. somewhere along the line, i have learned that being a "no" mom doesn't mean i love people any less, i just love the ones that are the most important to me well. being a "no"mom doesn't make me any less capable, it just means that i can do the things i do say "yes" to with excellence. being a "no" mom doesn't mean that i'm antisocial, or less than committed, or lacking in aspirations. it means that i've learned how to take care of myself unapologetically. i've learned what makes me happy and what makes me miserable. i've learned that putting limits on busyness brings me balance and that brings me joy. i've learned that being a "no" mom makes me a better mom, a better wife, a better me. that's something i will happily say "yes" to. 


Friday, September 2, 2016

an unlikely friendship

when i was 3 years old, my family moved into a home my parents built in the suburbs of san diego. the home was on 1/4 acre of avocado trees. there were tons of things to do outside.....unfortunately, i didn't have a lot of close neighborhood friends my age to play with because all of the homes were so spread out. the closest home to my parents was up a small hill from theirs. in this pepto bismol pink home (no joke) lived an elderly woman by the name mrs. foote. i grew up with a personality that would talk to any living thing and wanted to make friends with just about anyone that would talk to me. my favorite people to talk to were adults. even though mrs. foote was mainly confined to bed and was super grouchy, my mission in life became trying to get her to smile. i remember picking avocados from our trees to bring her, picking flowers from her yard to bring to her, drawing pictures and all sorts of things i could think of along those lines. although she would mostly yell "leave me alone" anytime i arrived and the home care nurse let me in, i was persistent.

one day mrs foote's daughter came to visit. her husband was high up in the military which caused them to travel a ton and not be able to live in san diego. i suppose she was probably in her early 50's at the time, but she listened to me with these bright eyes and made me feel that my views and questions were important and i so clearly remember how she made me feel special and heard. every time her and her husband traveled around the world she would type me a letter to share her journeys and bring me home a doll from the country they had been in. (as you can imagine, i racked up quite the collection of dolls from around the world).

the other day while cleaning up some paperwork at my desk, i came across a typed note from her that she had sent when i was in college.

it struck me hard and i was brought to tears. it wasn't because she has long since passed but rather the humbling thought that i mattered to her. all of these thoughts in my head were always about how loved and special she made *me* feel. i never imagined that i had the ability to do the same for her. i am beyond grateful for having had the opportunity to have had an unlikely friend in her to learn from. as i think now, i am struck by the thought that i don't quite know where I would be and how different my life may have been had not been for her influence. i credit my love of travel to her. i wonder if had it not been for her influence would i have been brave enough to go in 6th grade to live with a family in japan? or travel the globe in college? perhaps not. i greatly admire the time she took to get to know me. we exchanged letters back and forth for almost 20 years, until the letters stopped coming and she was gone from this world. i suppose my take away from all of this is to never judge someone and to open your heart up to start a conversation and hear their story. true friends and can come to you in the most unsuspecting of forms, even as a curious 4 1/2 year old. who knows what an influence you can be in their lives and in turn in yours. i am blessed to have an amazing, growing tribe of people that are imprinting on my kiddos daily. i only hope they will be lucky enough to have something as special as i did with my friend, blythie. 

(from left to right: me, blythie, my little sister and my mom)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

three things to stop doing on facebook...immediately

oh facebook. i have a love-hate relationship with this master of social media. i love so many things about it. i love the connections i have made with friends throughout my life. i love hearing about the major milestones in people’s lives. i love seeing my friends’ children grow up before my eyes. i love knowing when people are struggling and how i can help. i love the wonderfully social aspect of it all.

somewhere over the last several years, however, it has also become something i hate. there are things people do on facebook that have, quite honestly, made me want to cancel my account altogether. it gets to be too much some days. i selfishly want the good things about facebook to remain and the rest to simply disappear. to that end, in an attempt to improve what truly can be a beautiful way to connect with others, here are: 

3 things you should stop doing on facebook…immediately:

1) stop posting political rants. 

we get it. you have an opinion. you have your chosen candidate. you love them. you can’t stand the other person. i have my own political candidate that i will be voting for. that information is, frankly, none of anyone’s else's business. if you have something political that you think is vital to share, i get that. if you have something you are incredibly passionate about, i get that too. please stop, however, the constant barrage of political posts that have the sole purpose of bashing one of the candidates and basically stating that anyone who votes for that person is an idiot. that is what i’ve seen more than anything else where political posts are concerned. one candidate or the other is an absolute disgrace and everyone who stands with them is blind, or idiotic, or racist, or criminals, or you name it. i’m willing to bet that very few people’s political opinions were changed because they read someone’s facebook post. a political race by definition means that we are going to disagree with the politics and ideals of a huge amount of the population. can’t we just agree to disagree without calling each other names? am i alone in this? i can’t be the only one who is tired of the onslaught. just stop, people, for the love.

2) stop posting anything that publicly shames someone else.

this one pushes me over the edge. i’ve seen grown women publicly shaming a child on facebook. i’ve seen neighbors publicly shaming the yards of other neighbors. i’ve seen countless examples of people jumping onto the story of a horrible tragedy and saying horrific and barbaric things about someone’s parenting. how many people told the poor, grieving parents whose child was taken by a crocodile at disney world that they are horrible parents, that they didn’t deserve their children, that they should be sterilized? i sat appalled at some of the comments i read and was absolutely nauseated at what people said to others, all behind the safety and anonymity of their computer screens. these are real people we are speaking to. slander is never a good idea…and it says way more about the person who writes it than it does about the person it is written to. do yourself and everyone else a favor. if you have something to say to someone, do it in person. if you cannot talk to that person face to face, keep your comments to yourself. trust me, this will benefit everyone.

3) stop getting offended. 

we have become the nation of the easily offended. we get offended for ourselves. we get offended for others. we walk around looking for ways someone has wronged us. we get upset at people all the time, for every reason under the sun and, whether we post about it or not, we read things posted on facebook and let it affect us. i’m talking to myself on this one too. how often do we read something we don’t agree with and we can feel our blood pressure rising? how often do we read the political posts and get upset? how often do we read through the angry posts of others and get indignant or angry? how often do we let what people write in a post affect our emotions. i know i’m guilty of this. when that happens, close the computer screen and walk away. it’s not worth it. you can respond to the hurtful comment of someone with another hurtful comment of your own. you can combat that political opinion of someone with an equally offensive post of your own. or you can close facebook and walk away. i’m guessing no one will change their minds or their behavior because of what we write on any given post. more than anything, we perpetuate more hate and anger when we answer combatively. how about instead of getting offended and entering into a heated online debate, we make someone a meal, or ask someone to meet us for coffee, or invest in another person in even the simplest of ways? energy is a limited commodity. let’s invest it into things that are worthwhile and not into being so easily offended.

that's it. it's not a long list but it covers so many things. wouldn't facebook be wonderful without it all? i think it would.

let’s get back to posting things about our lives. post me your struggles and i’ll be happy to walk with you through them. post your victories and your joys, i want to share those with you. post moments in your life that make you laugh or make you cry….i want to join in that with you as well. i love the things on facebook that bring us all closer together. that is what makes it so magical. keep the good things coming, friends. that stuff brings me joy and connects us all together and, frankly, we could all use more of that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

i wasn't ready

i've always been one of those moms who rejoiced over the first day of school. i've hosted back to school mom parties at my house. i've had big celebration breakfasts. i've secretly chuckled at those mothers who posted about their first day tears on facebook.

the first day of school happened for my household this week and, just like that, the house was empty all but one preschooler. this year, for the first year in my life, i wasn't ready. that bus pulled around the corner of our neighborhood and i didn't want to let my kids get on. there were no tears on my part but, for the first time ever, there was some disappointment.

maybe it was the fact that i took two no-kid trips this summer and missed those moments with my kiddos. maybe it was because of the 15 day road trip we took as a family, crammed into an over-crowded SUV, and surrounded with each other's good company. maybe it was that i wasn't physically prepared (can you say night-before school supplies?). maybe i'd just gotten used to them being around. regardless, the house seems eerily quiet. 

there are no people to chat about their daily plans. no one is sharing what they read in their latest book. no one is helping to bring down the dirty laundry. no one is really needing anything from me. i know, it sounds like the picture of bliss. i know it sounds ridiculous to wish it otherwise but i'm simply not used to the quiet. 

i went from being needed and busy 24 hours a day to having whole chunks of time completely alone. i went from running and managing and scheduling and cleaning and planning every second of every day to having chunks of time when i'm in my house alone. it feels very strange.

maybe this is what happens when your kids get older. the exhaustion of doing everything for your preschool and early elementary kids turns into the companionship of kids as they grow older. i have a friend whose son is a senior in high school and she is incredibly sad to see him head off to college next year. when asked about it, she said, "i really like who he is now and he's about to leave." i think that's how it is supposed to be.

now i evaluate this school year and wonder if i'm just growing to enjoy my kids' company. i'm wondering if i'm just liking who they are more and more as they get older...and i'm also having to start evaluating who i am and what it will be like without them. i'm very aware that time moves much too quickly and my years with each one in my home are numbered. i also know that, ultimately, i'm raising them to leave. that's my job as a parent, right? i'm supposed to raise great kids who will be able to stand on their own two feet without me. that's what seems difficult to process.

even though i know that this is how it is supposed to be, it doesn't seem right somehow. this summer was over too quickly. the school year's beginning that marks another year gone by with my kids came much too fast. they are growing up more rapidly than i can fathom and i'm simply not ready for it all. still, i do know who i am and i know that when they do eventually leave and stand on their own feet, that new phase will be great too. so, today, i'm learning to enjoy the quiet, to love on a preschooler, to greet them all when they get home and to remember how quickly it all goes. this is how it is supposed to be, each year a little bit of letting go. i may not be ready, but they are...and that's what matters.