Nontoxic Cleaners that Simplify My Life

Yesterday, I was spraying down my kitchen counters with an all-purpose cleaner and LJ wanted to help. He grabbed the spray bottle to spray and then wanted to help me wipe down the surfaces. I did not hesitate to allow him to help, because I was using this cleaner which is plant-based, natural, and safe. Obviously, I’m not going to let him just straight up drink the cleaner or use it unsupervised or anything, but it gives me SUCH peace of mind that if something should happen and he does ingest a little or get it on his skin, it’ll be okay.

This got me thinking about all the nontoxic products I use for cleaning around my house and how much they simplify my life by not only working to keep my house clean, but giving me peace of mind in knowing LJ isn’t surrounded by harmful chemicals on every surface. So today I thought I’d just share a few of my favorite cleaning products that I use! I make exactly $0 with posts like this. No affiliate links, nothing sponsored. Just things I use and genuinely love. If you’re looking for ways to reduce chemical use in your home, I hope you find something here that’s helpful!

Puracy Laundry Stain Remover

As much as I love nontoxic cleaning products, I have been very hesitant over the years to try natural stain removers. When a piece of clothing gets stained, I want that stain to really be gone and I worried that by trying natural removers, I’d be wasting lots of money on products that just didn’t work as well as conventional products at removing stains. Enter Puracy. I heard about this brand through Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers (been following her blog for years!) and when she raved about how it cleaned a huge blueberry mess off her baby’s bib, I figured it could handle all the toddler stains I have too. You guys, I LOVE this stuff! It’s a free & clear formula composed of plant-based cleaners and it actually WORKS. Check this out:

I mean, all that ketchup was GONE. Hooray! I will say, the one thing that you have to keep in mind here is the longer this remover sits on a stain, the better it works. So when the ketchup fiasco happened, I stripped LJ down and immediately took the outfit to the laundry, sprayed Puracy on, and rubbed it in. I let it set until the next time I did laundry (which I think was the next morning) and the stain was gone. I don’t think it works quite as well if you just spray Puracy on a several-days-old stain and dump it straight in the wash. It needs time to set. Just an FYI!

Norwex Laundry Detergent

I have tried many a free and clear laundry detergent over the years and this one is my favorite for a few reasons. There are no dyes, fragrances, or other yucky stuff, one bag lasts a long time (like, over 8 months for me!) and most importantly, it works! My clothes come out nice and clean and I love that it is safe for the whole family. I use it even on the clothes that my brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-womb babies wear and don’t buy a special “baby” detergent.

I also love this product because I really try to reduce our plastic use as much as possible, and liquid laundry detergent comes in big, thick plastic containers that are difficult to recycle (and sometimes things like the tops aren’t recyclable at all). So I love that this is a powder that comes in a small bag that lasts so long – it just feels like it helps reduce wasted plastic. Love this stuff!

Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls

These balls work as a natural fabric softener and about 2 years ago I started using them in place of dryer sheets. Two years in and they are still effective! I just keep them in the dryer at all times so they’re ready to go and it’s a step I don’t have to worry about. Every once in a great while, I might add a drop or two of essential oil to the ball to add the faintest hint of a scent, but I typically just throw in my clothes and hit start! Easy, effective, and eco-friendly.

Norwex Window Cloth

I love using this window cloth for all my mirrors and windows. You just spray water on the surface and wipe it with the cloth – it is quick and effective and doesn’t leave streaks. I used this for a while, and then I used Windex on a mirror at my last house and was shocked by how streaky it looked using the “traditional” cleaner. Now I stick solely to this cloth!

Better Life Brand

I saw this brand on Shark Tank several years ago and was sold when the founder used the cleaner to wipe up raw chicken (and tested the surface to prove the product actually did clean it up!) and then proceeded to showcase its safety by SPRAYING IT IN HIS MOUTH. Yes. That happened. A cleaner that works that effectively and is safe for humans to ingest? Sign. Me. Up.

Simplified Cleaning 6.jpg
Pictured with my trusty Norwex window cloth – these are my everyday cleaning staples!

 

This brand is my absolute go-to for daily cleaning. I use their dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, kitchen + bath scrubber, floor cleaner, all-purpose wipes, stainless steel polish…I love them all! You can read more about how I use them in the post I did on my cleaning routine (fine that here). I love, love, LOVE this brand and highly recommend it!

All these products have made my life simpler because I don’t have to think twice about their safety and efficacy. They reduce decision fatigue and keep my house nice and clean. Win win!

What nontoxic products do you swear by in your home? I’d love to hear your favorites!

 

Advertisements

“19 for 19” Update

Somehow it’s already mid-July and I’m feeling that sense of “where the heck is summer going!?” It feels like we had to wait so long for it to arrive (our spring was long, cold, and very wet) so I’m trying to soak up as much of the warm weather and sunshine as possible!

In January, I posted my list of goals for 2019 (find the original post here) and today I thought I’d just give a little update on how my list is coming along so far. Some of my goals were one-and-done things, while others are more ongoing. Some I’ve accomplished and some I have put zero effort into. We’ll see what the second half of the year holds for the list, but in the meantime, here’s how it’s going thus far:

My 19 for 2019

1- I didn’t initially share what this one was, but I’m ready to now. My #1 goal for 2019 was . . . BABY #2. Justin and I both felt very ready to expand our family and hoped to at least get pregnant in 2019, even if baby didn’t actually arrive until 2020. Now we’re just over 5 weeks away from meeting baby #2!

0711191808c.jpg

2- Plan an adults-only trip for Justin and I – This one is completed! We planned and took an adults-only babymoon to the Bahamas and it was just what we needed. It was relaxing, fun, and just a wonderful vacation for us to reconnect and enjoy time together.

img_20190531_071048_329

3- Update instagram account and create Chatbook for LJ – Still working on this one. I have SO many pictures and it’s taking a while but I have put some work into this.

4- Select pictures for family photo albums – Zero progress on this one so far. I want to do one for each year of marriage and we’ve been married 6 years. It’s just a huge project and I have so many photos to sort through!

5- Plan out family photo albums – Again, zero progress. I can’t plan the albums until I have the photos selected, so hopefully I can get at least a little momentum on picking them out.

6- Create a master list of my top book recommendations – This one is done! I wrote a blog post about my top recommendations that you can find here. Now I just need to remember to periodically update it when I find new books I love!

Top Book Recommendations.jpg

7- Replace our ugly brown recliner – Justin’s $20 brown recliner from college is still with us. Since we moved to a new house and had lots more space it didn’t feel like the right time to eliminate furniture. BUT it has been relegated to the basement for now so at least I don’t have to see it every day. 😉

8- Write and track our monthly spending budget – Justin and I did great with this for several months, but we’ve fallen off the wagon with this.

9- Send birthday cards – I’ve done okay with this one. I have sent many birthday cards, but my pregnancy brain has also caused a lot of them to be belated. So . . . I’m trying.

10- Find a local tailor – This one is also done! I found a local tailor that fixed my pile of clothes that needed attention – everything from pants that needed hemmed to clothing with holes to my bridesmaids dress for my sister’s wedding. Yay!

Baby #2 3

11- Find a reliable, nearby babysitter -I would say this is partially done. We finally found a good babysitter at our last house, but then we moved. I have a lead on another babysitter but I have yet to use her. I actually plan to reach out this week so I’m hoping she’s a good one!

12- Have house siding washed -Done! Except we did it for our old house . . . and now our new house needs it too! We’ll probably wait to do the new house until next year but it did feel great to get our previous home look so clean!

13- Find comfortable black heels – Pregnancy is probably not the time to be searching for heels haha! I haven’t looked into this at all, so maybe after baby comes I’ll feel more inspired.

14 – Plan our will with an estate lawyer – Not done yet, but I’ve emailed a lawyer to get this process started so some progress has been made!

15- Invest in buying plastic alternatives – This one is ongoing, so it can’t really be “done” but I have bought stainless steel straws and another glass container to store and take along food. Progress!

16- Set up accounts for LJ’s future – We’ve set up his 529 plan! Whoo hoo!

17- Have budget meeting with Justin for each paycheck (roughly 2x/month) – Again, we did really well with this for several months but haven’t really kept this up lately. This check-in is good motivation to get back in the habit!

18- When buying clothing or shoes, look for fair trade, ethically made options – Honestly, I haven’t bought any shoes this year, and the clothes I’ve bought have all been maternity. While I haven’t necessarily bought fair-trade, I have bought a lot second-hand which is at least a very sustainable option and I’m happy about that!

19- Learn more about finances (401K, 403B, investments, etc.) – I’ve been doing this! Mostly by listening to various podcasts but there are also some books that I’ve read that have been helpful as well.

Overall, I’m pretty proud of how things are going with my list. If you made goals or resolutions for 2019, have you accomplished them? I’d love to hear!

A Day in the Life {7.9.19}

Good morning! Once again, I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for their monthly Let’s Look and today’s topic was “Your Typical Day” – the perfect time to document another day in the life of our little family right now. I did this back in the fall (read that post here) and I love that it just gives a little snapshot into what life looked like on a random day. It’s funny how there are things in each stage of life that you think you could never forget, yet they somehow do fade over time. I’m thankful I’ll be able to look back on these posts in the future and remember this sweet time at home with just LJ.

So here’s what a regular “day in the life” looked like yesterday! One disclaimer: Justin doesn’t start his new job until August 1 so while he isn’t “normally” home, he is for much of the month of July and we’re loving having him around more!

July 9, 2019

LJ woke us up around 5:20. That’s right friends, 5:20. We have had some rough sleep schedules lately and the fact that we had to share a room with him for many nights of our vacation last week did not help. We’re trying to get him back on track but it’s been tough! I got up to try to coax him back to sleep but he was not having it. Around 6:00, Justin came in to tag in and I went downstairs to start my day.

I like to get a few things going right away when I come downstairs so I emptied the Roomba (we run it at night), started a load of laundry, fed the dogs and let them outside.

I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to read a little bit of The Fringe Hours (I really love this book, although I un-ironically am reading it in super small segments whenever I have time so it’s taking me a while to get through).

0709190626.jpg

By 6:30, Justin and LJ had come downstairs so I got a bowl of oatmeal ready for LJ. He is becoming much more independent lately and loves to feed himself!

After breakfast, Justin took LJ and I headed upstairs to wash my face, brush my teeth, and get dressed for the day. My morning “beauty” routine is super simple in the summer – splash my face with water, tinted moisturizer, a little balm under the eyes, deoderant, and contacts. Done! I’m also loving my Baobei support band for this stage of pregnancy – it’s like a sports bra for my belly and really helps relieve the heaviness of my bump throughout the day!

I still hadn’t unpacked from our vacation so I set to work on unpacking our suitcases.

0709190702a

Justin and LJ had come upstairs and snuggled in our bed. After the suitcases were done I jumped in to join them for a few sweet snuggles. The days are long but the years are short my friends! Take the time to snuggle while you can!

0709190728c.jpg

Justin got LJ changed and I headed down to switch the laundry over to the dryer.

0709190734.jpg

By 7:35 I was at my computer finishing up yesterday’s blog post and working a little for my stay-at-home-job. (I work part-time from home as an administrative assistant for a nutrition counseling company. You can read a little more about it here). While I worked, Justin played with LJ and fed him some cottage cheese.

Around 8:30, Justin took off to run some errands and LJ’s speech therapist Sarah showed up. She comes weekly on Tuesdays to help with his speech. LJ is totally on track with every other area of development and his receptive language is solid, but his expressive speech is a little delayed. Sarah comes to our house and plays with him and works with him on imitating sounds/words. We’ve only had about 4 sessions so far but I’m already seeing little improvements! I continued to work nearby while they did therapy on the floor. (Please note Macie snuggled up next to Sarah – she loves her as much as LJ does! Haha!)

0709190843.jpg

Sarah left around 9:30 and I grabbed a little snack (I have to eat a little something about once every 2-3 hours at this stage of pregnancy or I start to feel sick) and LJ and I packed up our things to head to Chik Fil A to meet some friends at the playplace. LJ had fun with his little buddies and I enjoyed adult conversation with my friend Amber.

We left around 11 and headed into Target quick for a few things (Toddler + Target gets a bit chaotic so there’s no picture but you can see the random things I bought ha!) Then home + lunch! Justin had finished up his errands and mowing and was working on yard work but he took a break inside to join us.

After lunch, Justin took LJ upstairs for a nap and I threw the dishes in the sink, put my shoes on, and started my Expecting and Empowered workout. Normally I like to do these first thing in the morning, but since I woke up so early I adjusted and made it my top nap-time priority (while Scout watched nearby).

0709191320a.jpg

I like to listen to a podcast while I workout and yesterday I listened to “Mom Brain” while I worked through the lower body day. I’m really thankful for these workouts to keep me on track during pregnancy because this is a hard season to get to the gym consistently. LJ was refusing his nap (another fun part of our sleep journey right now…) so after some quiet time upstairs, Justin took him outside where he was setting up some patio furniture while I finished up my workout.

Around 2:00, I finished up my workout and sat back down at the computer to get a little more work done for my job. Around 2:30, I went to get LJ from Justin and brought him inside for a snack. My little desk area is situated right by our living room and playroom so I put Daniel Tiger on in the background (no shame in my mama game!) and LJ played happily by my chair and watched a little TV while I finished up work.

Justin had a work-related meeting around 3:30 so when he left, LJ and I headed outside with the dogs to play. It was a gorgeous, HOT day! We played with trucks, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, t-ball . . . all the toddler activities ha!

We came inside for water and to get a break from the sun around 4:30. I quickly folded laundry and responded to a few personal emails.

0709191718.jpg

Oh and in the interest of keeping things real around here, LJ had a pre-dinner tantrum because, you know, that’s what happens when toddlers boycott their naps.

0709191736a.jpg

Justin made it home by 5:00 and we started getting things around for dinner. He fired up the grill while I chopped up veggies. We had some friends come over for our first meal out on the patio followed by a walk around the pond. We had a great time hanging out!

After they left, it was a quick bath for LJ, get him in pj’s and down for the night.

I showered and got ready for bed quick. My night routine is also pretty simple but I added a few things like a charcoal mask and actually rubbed some belly oil on the bump. I honestly think stretch marks have more to do with genetics and I know I’m lucky to not have gotten any with either pregnancy, but about 1x a week I still rub oil on it just to keep it soft and smooth.

0709192144.jpg

Justin and I watched a few episodes of New Girl on Netflix while he gave my little preggo feet a much needed massage.

Then it was off to bed! So ends another day in our life. 🙂

 

 

Virginia Vacation 2019

Good morning!

Last week, Justin, LJ, and I loaded up our minivan and headed east to visit his family in Virginia. His parents have a timeshare at a resort there and we were excited to get to spend lots of time with Justin’s parents, his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew and nieces. It was a wonderful week full of lots of fun: swimming, fireworks, games, and just spending lots of time together. Rather than a full recap, I thought I’d just share a few pictures that give a glimpse into our week. I honestly didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was absorbed in family time but these at least give you a little look at our week. Enjoy!

Virginia 1.jpg

LJ absolutely loved getting to hang out with his six-year-old cousin. They are the only two boy cousins (for now – we’ll see in August if another one is joining!) and their bond is just so so sweet. Our nephew dotes on LJ and LJ wanted to do everything that he did. Look at how cute this little reading moment was! ❤

We spent a LOT of time swimming and hanging out with the kiddos at the pool. There are currently 4 cousins ages 6 and under so it was fun to see them interact and play.

One day we spent the morning at a little children’s museum and even though there were SO many cool activities for little ones, LJ mostly just wanted to hang out at the train and plane tables. He knows what he likes! I honestly think he could have stayed there all day and happily played. 😉

Virginia 9

We stopped for ice cream after the museum – LJ loves ice cream just like his mama!

No missed workouts on this trip. I’m thankful for Expecting and Empowered which kept me on track with a couple workouts in the gym and a few cardio stroller walks in the morning.

Virginia 11

Another day, another pool. 🙂 LJ loved this pool because it had a nice big shallow place for littles and he loved running in and out of the water. I just love how he’s perched here on his little sibling – nothing like a 32 week baby bump to use as a seat!

Virginia 10

This is a side note, but I gave this stuff a try last week and loved it! It gives just a hint of a bronzy glow, which is nice because I never wear makeup to the pool, it goes on smooth, doesn’t feel greasy, and it doesn’t have lots of yucky ingredients. Win win!

Virginia 13

Pool time with my babies. I’m so thankful that I’ve had a pretty enjoyable third trimester so far and felt great during the vacation.

We spent a day at the waterpark, which LJ absolutely LOVED. He had so much fun sliding, splashing, floating the lazy river, and just playing. It was such a great day!

Virginia 12

Mommy and baby spent lots of time floating the lazy river and it was wonderful!

LJ is super into exploring right now and he loved finding little treasures (aka rocks) outside and point me in the most interesting direction. I can just hear his little mind going “come on mama!”

Virginia 18.jpg

Reading material for the week. This was an excellent read that I’m excited to review in my monthly post!

Virginia 5

At dinner one night, the restaurant had a little fish pond and our nephew was so sweet to hold LJ up so he could see. Melts my heart!

Virginia 7

We loved our time away with family – it was such a great week of memory making!

June 2019 Book Reviews

Good morning!

I can’t believe another month has come and gone. How is it already July!? Summer is absolutely flying by and I have mixed feelings about it. One the one hand, we get to meet baby at the end of summer! On the other hand, I don’t want to wish away any of this amazing warm weather. This week Justin, LJ, and I are vacationing with Justin’s family in Virginia so I’m just going to post my book reviews and get back to enjoying our week!

June 2019 Book Reviews - Simplify The Chaos Blog.jpg

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

The premise of this book was very intriguing to me: ten years ago, a girl went missing in a small town in North Carolina and she was never found. In present day, another girl goes missing and all the same suspects from ten years ago are still around. The story takes place over the course of two weeks, but the kicker is: it is told in reverse. We start at Day 15 and work backwards to Day 1.  I think I liked the concept of reverse story-telling better in theory than in reality. Typically, as things are revealed to characters, they are also revealed to readers; in this scenario, I knew that there was a lot of information that the characters obviously knew on Day 15 that was being withheld. It actually ended up making the first half of the story seem very slow and a little confusing. Around Day 7, I felt like more and more relevant information was being revealed and my interest level grew, although there were things that happened in “earlier” days that almost confused me further because nothing in the “later” days hinted that they had happened. It just wasn’t really my kind of storytelling, and I ended the book feeling like I needed to reread the story to really understand all the things I missed (but I honestly just didn’t even care enough to do that this time). That being said, there were some twists and turns that I did not at all see coming, so if you like unique storytelling you might want to give this one a shot.

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

The Forgotten Room by [White, Karen, Williams, Beatriz, Willig, Lauren]

I love Beatriz Williams and have re-capped several of her books before, so I was excited to learn that she had co-authored a book with two other authors. This story centers around the Pratt Mansion, a glamorous house built in Manhattan in the late 1800’s and follows three women and their experiences in the house throughout history. In particular, each woman has unique encounters in a very special and mostly unknown attic room. So what was interesting about this story is that through the alternating stories of Olive (1890’s), Lucy (1920’s), and Kate (1940’s), you almost immediately start to form conclusions about how these women are connected. Even though their connections to one another weren’t very surprising, there were aspects of what exactly happened to each woman and her relationships and connections (with men in particular) that kept me guessing until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a great historical fiction but I will say that it left me a little heartbroken. These characters all became so real to me and I knew that they couldn’t all necessarily have happy endings; the story I connected with the most was not one that ended how I hoped. Nevertheless, I did really like the book and would recommend it to my fellow historical fiction lovers!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

A man is found dead in the middle of nowhere in the Australian Outback. No one knows how he ended up stranded in the unforgiving, and ultimately deadly, heat with no shelter except a small gravestone. There are virtually no clues and only a bunch of questions. As his family tries to process his death and find an explanation, we find that things aren’t always as they initially appear. I took this book along with me on our Bahamian Babymoon, but since I dove into The Clockmaker’s Daughter first, Justin ended up reading it before I did. I thought it’d be fun to have him share his take on it before I give my thoughts. So here he is with his blogging debut! 😉

“Overall The Lost Man was a fun vacation read for me.  It kept me wanting more because the story began with little to no background and the death was revealed very early with again, little to no information or leads.  The author is apparently, so Sarah tells me, known for incorporating the environment/mother nature as a key element in her stories.  As someone who has never personally experienced the Australian Outback, I found her details quite exciting.  Anyway, as the story goes on, you are given more and more present time clues as well as important historical information about the atypical family and their atypical relationships. The book had a good pace and unlike a lot of other reads does not wait until the last 20 pages to drop bombs of the most exciting of details. Of course it has its ending that you wouldn’t have expected, but it wouldn’t have been a publishable story without that…am I right?  Thanks for having me on your blog today Sarah.  I’m sure this is just a one hit wonder type deal (or more like one and done, no hit or wonder about this…)”

Ha! Thanks babe! I honestly don’t have much to add. As with her other novels, Harper uses the environment like an actual character. It made me want to constantly have water next to me while reading because the hot, dry landscape just seemed so real and so very desolate. Throughout the story I formed a bunch of different thoughts about what happened, but I was still very surprised by the ending of the story. I was hooked from start to finish!

It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell

I saw this book for sale in Costco several months ago and, after reading the synopsis inside, made a mental note to add it to my reading list. I recently saw it pop up on another blog’s book review and it inspired me to finally snag a copy from the library. IN this story three girls meet as roommates in college and become best friends/frenemies with complicated relationships. Twenty years later, one of them ends up dead under strange circumstances and their love/hate relationships with one another through the years may or may not have played a part in this death. I’ll be honest, this book was kind of disappointing for me. It had elements of psychological thriller, mystery, murder – all things that I normally am interested in reading about and I wanted to love it. I think my disappointment came down to one major hitch: I hated all the characters. To her credit, Campbell wrote each of the characters to be complex individuals with redeeming qualities and serious flaws. I just didn’t connect with or particularly like any of them. And without at least one person to root for, I kind of just wanted the book to be over.  I kept at it though because the actual death did intrigue me and I wanted to know whodunit – the last 20 pages were honestly my favorite. This book kept me guessing until the very end! So overall, I’d peg it as a middle-of-the-road murder mystery.

What have you been reading lately?

Third Trimester Update

Good morning!

It’s been about 11 weeks since my last pregnancy post so I figured it was time to give a little update. This pregnancy is just flying right along! I am currently 31 weeks pregnant and solidly in the third trimester. If you’re curious about how the first trimester went, you can check out my blog post about it here. I also blogged a “halfway there” 20-week update which you can find here.

36292.jpeg

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

I am thrilled to say that I’ve been feeling pretty good up until this point in pregnancy. My whole second trimester was pretty dreamy – I had tons of energy and felt great! We went on a babymoon a few weeks ago and it was honestly the perfect time in pregnancy to go. Our travels went really well and I was feeling really good so the whole vacation was enjoyable. I definitely feel that third trimester slowdown now. I’m having to listen to my body more and take things a little big easier, and I’m definitely feeling much more tired by the end (or, let’s be honest, the middle) of each day.

Energy/Workouts

One thing I have really loved doing this pregnancy are the Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts. The co-founders do 10-week accountability challenges somewhat regularly and this really helped me stay on track with my workouts. I think this is a BIG reason why I feel so good. I haven’t gained as much weight with this pregnancy and I think these workouts do help me stay fit and strong. I’ve also been trying to keep up with my weekly YMCA cycling classes, although due to our vacation, my grandmother’s funeral, my sister’s wedding, and the fact that the timing of the class is pretty inconvenient for LJ’s current schedule, it’s been harder to consistently make it there.

Food Cravings & Aversions

I’m SO incredibly thankful that this pregnancy is kinder to me than LJ’s was with regards to food. With LJ, I couldn’t drink milk or eat dairy products without feeling sick and I developed some pretty strong food aversions to things like cooked vegetables. This time around, I don’t have any aversions and I don’t get sick from dairy. Hallelujah!

Baby #2 3

My appetite is still growing and I find myself needing a snack or small meal every 2-3 hours, so I’m trying to keep lots of healthy-ish options around (although, if I’m being honest, I’m craving all the sweet and salty things!)

Sleep

Sleep is becoming a difficult thing, and that’s been hard for me because I’m someone who has never been able to function well on reduced sleep. I’m having a hard time getting comfortable at night and I frequently wake up tossing and turning. Our bedroom also doesn’t have a ceiling fan (YET…it’s #1 on my list of small home improvements to tackle!) and even though the temperature of the house is the same as it was before, I’m getting so HOT at night. Last night Justin brought a fan up for me and I tried a new configuration of pillows and I actually slept SO much better so I’m hoping that I’ve found the magic formula and my sleep improves a bit from here on out!

Baby #2 4

I’ve also been trying to listen to my body if it needs a nap. It’s hard for me to take a break mid-day because LJ’s nap schedule has been inconvenient lately so when I finally do get him down, I want to tackle my to-do list. I’ve had to remind myself that growing a human is the biggest thing on my to-do list right now and if I’m feeling tired and worn down, I need to listen to my body and rest! The other day Justin was home and I was able to take a nice long nap to recharge and it was heavenly and made the rest of my day go much smoother. I’m going to try to make sleep and rest a top priority for the remaining weeks.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Justin has been able to feel baby kicks and we’re getting SO excited to meet this little one!  I’m looking forward to getting a few things around for the nursery. By this point in pregnancy with LJ I was mostly done with his nursery, but with this baby, I haven’t done a single thing. Second child problems, right? I plan to have baby sleep in a bassinet next to our bed like LJ did for the first 6-8 weeks so a nursery isn’t urgent, but it does help build anticipation and help me feel a little more prepared.

Baby #2 5.jpg

Boy/Girl Predictions

A friend of mine swore the Chinese gender prediction chart was accurate with all four of her pregnancies, so we looked it up and the chart told us we’re having a boy. Who knows! I still have no gut feeling or mama sense, so it will be a genuine surprise either way.

Baby #2 10

LJ’s Awareness

LJ still pats my belly when we ask “where’s the baby?” and he’s started GIVING IT KISSES. Oh my heart. It is just the sweetest thing. I’m so so SO excited to see him in the role of big brother. My in-laws came to town this past weekend and brought a little book about a kid getting a new sibling so we’ve been looking through it with LJ. I still think he has zero awareness of what any of this actually means, but it’s just so sweet to spend some time prepping him as much as we can.

Baby #2 15.jpg

As for the fur babies, they definitely have no idea what’s about to happen. But if their love of LJ is any indicator (they mostly love that he drops food, hence Macie waiting patiently for a sample of donut above ha!) then they will be awesome siblings to this baby too!

Misc Stories

Baby has a (most likely) birthday! My labor with LJ did not go as planned, and long story short, after laboring 25 hours with incredibly slow progression, I still hadn’t quite progressed to 10 cm dilation. I essentially got “stuck” at 9 cm for 5 hours and baby’s heart rate was starting to be concerning. Ultimately, Justin and I along with our doctor agreed that a c-section was the safest way to get him out. My doctor is not opposed to me trying a VBAC, which I initially very strongly wanted. The more we discussed the pros and cons, it became clear that because of the way my body progressed last time, I’m not exactly a stellar candidate for a successful VBAC. We made the decision as a team to schedule a c-section, but if I go into labor before then, we will let things progress first and see how labor goes before jumping right to a c-section. While a VBAC is still possible, I am mentally preparing for another c-section. So, unless baby has other plans to join us earlier, we will meet our little one on August 23! Having an official date in mind makes it seem so soon! Just over 8 weeks left – ahhh!!!!!!!!!

Baby #2 6

Oh and also…passed my glucose test! Thankful for that nasty drink to be over! 😉

Baby #2 9

I plan to do one final pregnancy recap before baby makes his or her debut – stay tuned!

Simplified Guest Prep

Good morning!

We have a big weekend coming up in a few days: after seven years of schooling and residency, Justin is finally finished with all his career training and has a graduation celebration on Sunday. To say we are excited is a huge understatement!

Justin’s parents are coming into town for the weekend and it got me thinking about our overnight guests. I really don’t stress out too much preparing for guests to stay with us because there are a few things I have already put into place, and today I thought I would share some of my little tips in case it helps anyone else simplify their guest preparations.

I want to note that we do have a dedicated guest room used solely for guests (although there may come a time if we have more children where we have to use that bedroom for kids). Even if you don’t have a separate guest room, many of these tips can still help you think through simplifying preparations for guests.

Wash sheets immediately

0426191413d.jpg

After guests leave, I strip the bedding and wash all the sheets with my next load of laundry. Then, I re-make the bed so it is ready to go for the next guests. I prefer to get it back to “baseline” right away because then the bed is ready to go whenever guests come, even if I’m not sure exactly when that will be at the time. Plus, if we get last-minute guests, it’s ready to go and I don’t need to scramble to get it ready. It’s one less thing to check off the to-do list in preparation!

Have empty drawers/hangers ready

0426191414a.jpg

I like to have a few empty hangers hanging in the closet and at least one empty drawer in case guests want to unpack a few things. Most guests don’t need to unpack much, but it’s nice to have a few spaces where they can if they want to.

Stock shower with simple extras

0620190841a.jpg

In our previous home, our guests used a hallway bath that would have eventually also been our kid’s bath. In our new home, the guest room has an attached bathroom for guest use only. In either situation, I keep a few extra shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, body wash) ready to go in the shower so guests have options in case they forget their own.

Toiletry Basket

I keep a little basket with a bunch of commonly used toiletry items in the guest room in case guests forget anything. I let guests know about the basket and tell them to help themselves if they need anything in it, no need to ask for permission. The basket contains contact solution + case, toothbrushes, q-tips, cotton balls, feminine products, mouthwash, a new disposable razor, dry shampoo, lotion, face wash, soap, etc. I just double check it after each visit to see if I need to re-stock anything and then it’s ready to go for the next guests!

Extra Blankets and Pillows

And finally, I keep a few extra blankets and pillows on hand in the guest room closet so guests can be as comfortable as possible. By always keeping these handy, I don’t have to run around looking for another blanket if it’s colder or hunt through closets for spare pillows if a guest needs one. These items are stored in an accessible way so I don’t have to ever waste time and energy gathering them up in preparation and guests can help themselves to whatever they need.

And there you have it! These are things I keep ready at all times so I’m never scrambling to prepare the guest space right before guests arrive. It means that once guests leave, I get all of these things back to “baseline” right away while I’m thinking about it, so the space is prepared and ready to go for the next time. This hugely helps my stress level – I can just focus on straightening up the rest of my home or preparing food or whatever else I need to do before guests come without having to worry about the guest room.

What tricks do you have for preparing for guests?