Diaper bag essentials for the older & wiser mom

When I was pregnant with my first child, I excitedly read pregnancy and parenting magazines and took notes of the suggested essentials. The ability to leave the house in a hurry meant always having a diaper bag ready. However, in the midst of rushing I always felt like I was leaving something behind.

My diaper bag was filled with lots of things for the “just-in-case” situations. Even if my baby was healthy I had Tylenol, gas drops, two or three outfits… you get the picture. My bag had everything but the kitchen sink. Oh, and the bag itself was not designed to be an actual diaper bag, so it meant that everything was completely disorganized.

Of course, things have changed in 6 years and many things (including myself) have come a long way. I no longer worry about running out of something; the truth is that I can always get what I need when I go out.

Here are my diaper bag essential tips and recommendations:

  • Select a good diaper bag. Make sure the bag also matches your style. I currently have a little bee backpack my son was gifted because I really want a Glamajama bag. You’ll want a bag that not only holds your essentials but has a convenient and accessible place for your cell phone, wallet and keys.
  • Wipes. It may seem obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house without them! I now have wipes in the diaper bag and in the car. My favorite wipes are Water Wipes because they are 99.9% water. Have you ever seen the ingredients listed on the other wipes? No thank you.
  • Diapers. Disposables or cloth? I use both. I’ll bring cloth diapers and a wet bag if I have baby G with me at all times. If someone else is going to be caring for him, I’ll bring disposables. But seriously, it’s not that difficult to do cloth on the go if you use gDiapers. Want to learn more? Visit the Nappy Shoppe. Sharni has been amazing at sorting out the cloth 101.
  • Feeding essentials. If you are nursing then the baby’s food supply comes with you; but if you are supplementing or formula feeding, then you’ll need a bottle and formula. I always pre-fill my bottles with water at home and pre-measure the formula. I like the all-in-one bottle from Similac. I also include a larger big so I don’t need a burp cloth -I just put it over my shoulder.
  • A change of clothes. I usually bring a one piece oufit in the bag for the emergency change of clothes. Who needs bulk in your bag?
  • Other miscellaneous items you might need. I only bring medication if my baby is sick. Teething toy and Orajel are in a zip bag and perhaps a snack for the baby (when they are older).
  • Thin cotton blanket. This is one of the most versatile items you’ll carry with you. It can be used to cover-up if you are nursing, swaddle the baby, keep him warm in cold air conditioned stores, as a shade cover over the stroller canopy and a barrier to change the baby anywhere (I don’t use those thick changing pads, they take up too much room!)

The key to making a quick exit out the door is to have the diaper bag ready to go. The easiest way is to replace the items you used when you get home or any other time but when you are rushing out.

What are some of your favorite diaper bag items that you can’t live without?

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It’s getting easier to be on the go!

20120310-182518.jpgThe last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with pumping, nursing, adjusting to a new gluten free and dairy free diet, and getting out the door in a decent time frame with 3 kids.  Good thing I finally have the diaper bag routine down to the minimal items I need to carry; otherwise, I’d be towing around useless stuff.

Since breast milk lasts 6-8 hours at room temperature, sometimes I will bring an expressed bottle with me knowing it will be consumed at the next feeding.  Other times, I bring a bottle and some formula so my other two don’t have to wait while I nurse for 30-40minutes in a store’s dressing room.

Just the other day, we all went to Pottery Barn to check out their Easter items (plus my other two consider it an extension of their playroom where they can try-before-mommy-says-no-to-buy) and after ten minutes of being there Baby G had to eat.

20120310-182600.jpgThankfully, I had with me my newly discovered best-mommy-on-the-go-tool-for-formula-ever! my Similac SimplySmart bottle with the On-the-Go powder cap.  It’s an-all-in-one powder to bottle dispenser that allows me to carry the right amount of formula for that particular bottle.

I like that it has an EasyMix “paddle” that reduces clumps (something I hate of powdered formulas) and minimizes bubbles that give Baby G serious gas. The nipple is wide so it reduces breast-to bottle nipple confusion so I don’t have to deal with the “it comes easier out of the bottle” dilemma.  Overall, I’ve found it to be a convenient choice if I am out and about and will find myself needing to supplement with formula.

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Making ourselves at home in Pottery Barn

I love finding new tools that make it easier to enjoy my children and do fun things.  What could be could be more important than a healthy, growing, and happy baby?

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I LOVE my mommy. She feeds me well. Can't you tell?

What are some tools that make it easier for you when you are on-the-go?

 

From time to time, I am sent sample products to try and provide feedback with my opinion.  However, I only select to write about those that I truly find beneficial and that fit my lifestyle.  While I did receive a sample Similac SimplySmart bottle from Abbott Nutrition, I was not compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.

New Food Battles: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free

Confession: I’ve been struggling with food.  Not in an unhealthy kind of way… but in the way that someone on a diet looks at a brownie and says… I can’t have it! It’s difficult to be tempted like that all day long; especially when you work around food, write about food, and cook food like it’s going out of style!

Last week, we figured out that Baby Gabriel is lactose intolerant (the cows milk/powdered milk ingredient in formula).  While he is still breastfed, I’ve been supplementing a couple of feedings to build a reserve and so I didn’t have to pump every 3 hours.  Before some of you La Leche League peeps get all over my formula feeding; read my recent post on having talked to lactation nurses to get help.

After trying a couple different formula varieties over a few weeks time, it was apparent that he projectile vomited an hour after a feeding when given one made with cow’s milk.  I haven’t tried soy because I don’t want him on soy based formulas.  So now, he’s on Similac’s version for “fussiness and gas” that is made with the milk proteins but not the lactose.  He seems to tolerate it well.

What does this have to do with gluten free and dairy free you wonder?  Well, just about when I had given up on breastfeeding all together (latching issues, let-down issues, over supply, painful all around… and horrible back pain from carrying breasts that are 3 sizes too big) I had to start pumping again to supply Gabriel with my milk to help him heal his intestinal tract.

So here I am, hungry as all could be and missing my freshly baked bread and cheese.  By removing gluten and lactose, Gabriel is supposed to tolerate my breast milk better and further preventing digestive issues.

The first day of a gluten free and dairy free diet was horrible.  I couldn’t come up with anything to eat for breakfast and missed my morning toast with peanut butter! Thank God I thought ahead and bought Lactaid milk at Target to have my morning coffee!

Lunch wasn’t so bad… a large salad with left over chicken breast and I made fish tacos (in corn tortillas) for dinner.  The rest of the week began with a struggle for breakfast (I’ve had fruit and oatmeal all week) and salads with protein for lunch or dinner.

Now, a week later I am feeling good and a bit more prepared.  Just like school lunches, the key to making a dietary change is to have a plan.  I still miss cheese and bread but I’m getting used to experimenting with oatmeal and I even bought a few different flours to make my own gluten free bread.  Gabriel seems to be less fussy and no longer has colicky cries or stomach spasms.  We will see where this adventure takes me for sure… and don’t be surprised if you see a gluten free recipe (or two) pop up in this blog or over at MOMables.

Have you made dietary changes that were difficult? If so, any tips?

**photo credit

Snack Idea: Peanut Butter – Applewiches

Unless you “shop the perimeter” of your grocery store, you have probably encountered packaged snacks at some point.  The packaged snack industry spends billions in marketing campaigns trying to convince consumers that their products are wholesome and healthy.  When in truth, most have ingredients we can barely pronounce let alone know what they mean.

As a mother of two young kids, it’s impossible to get around not having snacks.  I am constantly on the go with them on after school activities, play dates, and park outings.  Unfortunately, kids are just not programmed to “hold their hunger” until we get home; and I’m not sure I would want them to.  Have you seen a screaming 3 year old because they are hungry, tired, and crabby? I have.  It is not pretty.

Packaged snacks have grown in popularity primarily because they are convenient, abundant in variety, portable, and portion controlled.   Every couple of weeks, I prep a few snacks that will provide my kids with choices.  I am notorious for Googleling recipes, trying them out, searching through pinterest, looking through recipe books… until one catches my eye.  I found this picture with no instructions yesterday and I challenged myself to figure out a way to make a few of these ahead of time.  Because what good is it to have healthy, homemade snacks if you don’t have them ready when you need them?  This morning I made the apple and peanut butter sandwiches, froze them, and tested how long it took to defrost.  In two hours at room temperature they were crispy, the apples had not browned, and they were delicious! The difficult part was only eating one!

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Apples
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips -optional
  • Granola -optional

Directions:

  1. Core apples. Slice horizontal.
  2. Spread peanut butter on each side of apple slice, add a few chocolate chips and granola (optional).
  3. Close slices to create an apple sandwich.

Each apple yields 2-3 sandwiches (depending on size).  You can prepare the sandwiches, freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer into a large zip bag.  Take out of freezer in the morning, pack in lunch bag, and your child will have a snack for lunch or after school.  Easy, delicious, real ingredients.

Enjoy!

–photo source

The Beach!

This is our first “family” vacation in a long time.  It seems like I’ve been on the road all summer (and I have been) it’s been a while since my husband and I plus kids have gone to the beach together.  Although we did go to Disney World last spring (2010), a week long of theme parks is not my ideal vacation (for E & the kids… that’s another story).

While most of my friends take week long vacations to the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico (Alabama & Florida),  each year we save money to scrape for the thousand plus dollar plane tickets to go to Spain and visit my family with the kids (and travel through Europe a few times).  In Spain, I am five minutes from the beach and have a fully stocked house… so I never have to bring anything (except clothes, toiletries and toys).   I am not saying one is better than the other, but when most of your family lives abroad… it’s what we’ve had to do for the past 6 years.

This year, my parents offered to vacation with us to a “beach near you.”  They flew to us and we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I have to say that the beaches here are beautiful… the sand is white and the water is warm.  From our 10th floor condo or down at the beach there is always a breeze.

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The kids have been having a blast playing with the sand and looking for seashells. I wonder just how many we’ll be bringing back home!  I remember building castles, digging holes and playing with kids near our umbrella for hours at the beach when I was little.  I just hope our kids have as much a good time as I did!

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Yesterday, we bought them boogie boards to play on the shore.  I was impressed how after the first couple tries both Alex and Sofia got the hang of how to slide with the waves.  More so, I was speechless at how patiently the each waited for their turn for dad to help them get on the board and slide to the shore.  No fighting! -that’s a first.  The sad news is that around 6 o’clock during the last swim of the day (mainly to rinse them off from all the sand) Sofia got stung by a jelly fish across her thigh.  Go figure!  Today, she is refusing to go in the water (I can’t blame her though).

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May I remind you, that it’s been a long time since I’ve gone to the beach in our own condo (ten years maybe?).  We are eat-at-home kind of people and we’ll probably go out to eat just a couple of times the entire week.  We did bring pantry essentials and emptied my fridge back home so anything that would spoil could be used here… but we did some rookie mistakes that we will not repeat again!  We drove here, so I could have brought many things that would have saved us time and money here.  Below are some of the things we did not do that I hope will help you plan your own beach vacation:

  1. Bring your own essentials beyond food: we had to go buy dish detergent, laundry soap, sponges, paper towels, and toilet paper.  I am not sure what I was thinking but when I was packing for the kids and food items… I completely ignored those things.  Garbage bags were also forgotten but since I did not bring my re-usable bags at home, the grocery store’s ones will do.  We did not bring plastic wrap, foil paper or zip lock bags… so bringing food down to the beach has been done by re-using some of the product bags we got at the store.
  2. Bring your own beach gear.  While we brought buckets, sunscreen and beach toys, we did not bring chairs, an umbrella or enough towels for everyone.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING??  We have folding chairs at home and could have brought a large canopy! Ugh.  There went $160 down on a few beach chairs, a large umbrella and three towels.  Why not rent? Because the umbrellas and 4 chairs would be $70 a day! Lord have mercy.  We will have a packed car returning home, that’s for sure!
  3. Make sure you bring all the chargers.  My husband wanted to get some work done this morning when he realized he did not bring his laptop charger (his work computer isn’t a Mac yet, so he can’t use ours).  I forgot my phone charger but luckily the one from my mom’s Kindle fits.

Overall, we have decided that we’d love to do a week at the beach every year or every other year.  In order to reduce costs, we are going to see if we can split the condo fees with friends that have kids so we can still afford to do a Spain trip.  The bonus, the kids would have little ‘friends’ to play with.

What are your plans this summer?  Any last minute vacations before school starts?