Eight Ideas for Beating Morning Sickness

The first four months of my second pregnancy were rough. Just when I thought I would somehow escape morning sickness, it started like clockwork at the beginning of week six. And when I say I had morning sickness, I mean all day sickness. 

After about two weeks of laying on the couch and feeling like death, I decided that for my sanity (and my stomach) I had to do my best to find morning sickness solutions.

Was I totally successful? Uh, no. But, I did feel well enough to keep up with my four-year-old most of the time, and that was a start.

Just keep trying…

Not all of the ideas below worked for me all of the time. Sometimes something would work for a while, then suddenly not be as effective, and I’d have to switch to something else. Give things a try and don’t be discouraged if certain things just don’t help.

If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, I’m so sorry. My morning sickness has never been that severe, but I hope this list will offer some ideas to take the edge off of your symptoms a bit.

Also, and this is super important, I’m not a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a midwife. I have no medical training. I’m just a mom with way too much experience feeling nauseous during pregnancy. You should talk to your doctor to see if these solutions are right for you.

Without further ado, my queasy friends, I bring you my list of morning sickness solutions…

I started taking Unisom and B6.

My nurse-midwife gave me Unisom and B6. Here’s the thing though, the Unisom has to contain Doxylamine Succinate, which is found in Unisom SleepTabs. Talk to your doctor about dosages for both.

As a nurse explained to me, the key is to maintain a consistent amount of B6 in your body, but not too much because it can cause nerve damage. I was also taking Unisom throughout the day but eventually was able to go down to only a night time dose.

I stayed hydrated.

I sipped ice-cold water out of an insulated water bottle all day. The water had to be super cold and I had to sip small amounts. If I let myself get thirsty and gulped water my stomach would make sure I was punished.

I’ve seen a lot of women recommend putting lemon or lime in water, saying that the added flavor helped them, but that just didn’t taste good to me. Sometimes mixing 50/50 Gatorade with water was a nice change of pace, but mostly I drank just water.

I ate on a schedule.

I know how gross this sounds when you’re feeling sick. I ate something every 1.5 to 2 hours and wow, it made a big difference. I had to try different types of food and found that a mix of high protein foods and carbs helped me feel better.

I got more sleep and rest.

If I didn’t get a good night’s rest then the next day was Queasy City all day. Other times, I’d get a good amount of sleep at night but suddenly feel sick in the late afternoon. I found that laying down on the couch for 15 minutes was all I needed to feel okay again.

I used Preggie Pop Drops.

When the morning sickness first hit, my friend gave me a container of sour fruit candies. They really helped me to fend off the sick feeling, but they left a yucky film on my teeth from the sugar and the acidity made my tongue feel burned.

I found Preggie Pop Drops on Amazon (not an affiliate link) and they helped a lot, without the funny feeling teeth or burned tongue. They are pretty big though, so I’d break them up a bit and eat smaller pieces sometimes.

I stopped eating greasy foods.

I craved greasy foods during my first trimester, but I read article after article that explained that greasy foods can make first trimester morning sickness and heartburn worse.

Sure enough, when I resisted my cravings and stuck to non-greasy, non-fried foods, I did feel quite a bit better.

I used essential oils in the shower and at work.

One day as I was sobbing and getting sick in the bathroom my husband started his own research on morning sickness and read that lemon essential oil can help.

I started by putting a few drops of lemon essential oil on the shower floor each night and as I’d inhale the steam from the shower, I’d also smell the refreshing lemon scent. This helped me a lot since the late evening seemed to be a time when my nausea would peak.

I also used a lavender essential oil roller at work. I worked with very loving but stinky-from-gym-class tweens in the afternoons. I’d put a dab of oil from the roller under my nose or on my wrists, and that helped me manage any smells I’d encounter.

Essential oils can impact your health and pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor and/or an herbalist to understand which are best for you.

I researched the reasons for morning sickness.

Understanding why I was feeling horrible, and when it might end, really gave me hope. There are a lot of fact-filled articles about why women experience morning sickness. I managed to find two important facts that I clung to for hope: 1) morning sickness ends for most women around Week 16 and 2) one reason that morning sickness improves is that the placenta becomes fully developed and “kicks-in” to do its job in hormone creation and management.

Somehow, counting the days to Week 16 and begging my body to grow the placenta more quickly made me feel better. I could see an end in sight, even if it seemed soooo far away some days!

You will make it through this, my nauseous friend!

I hope that you find some help in the above suggestions. If you have other things that worked for you, please share them in the comments!

 

Tips for Giving Your Plants More Perk With Coffee Grounds

My local coffee shop recently placed a box of used coffee grounds by the shop entrance. Gardeners in my neighborhood emptied that box faster than you can say, “Vanilla latte with skim milk, please!” 

What my gardening neighbors know is that coffee grounds can benefit your acid-loving plans when used correctly. Here are some tips to make the most of those grounds:

Use coffee grounds with acid-loving plants

The acid level of coffee is high, though the brewing process does lower the pH of the used grounds significantly. When using coffee grounds in the garden, only use them with acid-loving plans, especially if you plan on adding the grounds directly to your garden soil.

Acid-loving plants include: Evergreens and dogwood trees, blueberries, azaleas, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons.

Start with a small amount and then add more over time

When adding coffee grounds to the soil, start slowly. Add a small amount at a time and watch the results. The acidity may be too high for some plants and could harm them, especially if your soil is already acidic. 

Another option is to mix your coffee grounds with wood ash in a 50/50 mix, and then add a small amount of the mixture to your garden soil. The wood ash is high in carbon and is alkaline, so it balances the acidity of the coffee grounds.

Whether you use coffee grounds alone or mixed with wood ash, start with a small amount to measure the effect on your plants, then add more over time.

Make sure grounds are damp or wet

Dry coffee grounds can actually repel water away from your plants. Be sure that the coffee grounds are damp or wet when adding them to the soil. Mix the soil well so that the grounds are evenly distributed. 

Add coffee grounds to your compost bin

Still unsure if adding coffee grounds directly to your garden soil is a good choice for your plants? Then add the coffee grounds to your compost bin! Coffee grounds are considered a green addition to your compost bin. Layer them with leaves and grass clippings when adding them to your compost.

Research done by the Oregon State University/Lane County Extension Service found that coffee grounds help to sustain higher temperatures in compost bins, making seed germination more difficult – an added bonus when you’re worried about weeds in your compost.

Enjoy your garden…and your coffee!

Maybe you’ll find a generous coffee shop in your neighborhood willing to share their coffee grounds. Or perhaps you’ll just start saving the grounds from your morning cuppa. Either way, enjoy the perk up that coffee gives you and your garden!

 

Travel Guide: Purchasing a Korail train ticket!

I won’t drive in Korea and you can’t make me.

Whenever possible, I avoid driving long distances in Korea. This country is wonderful, but driving here requires a unique knowledge of unspoken road rules that I just don’t understand.

Even if I do manage to drive a long distance, I have to find parking. I can’t stand having to find parking, it doesn’t matter what country I’m in.

When our family decides to adventure more than an hour away from Camp Humphreys, we like to use Korea’s amazing train system – Korail.

Using Korail is easier than you think it is!

Korail supports the city subway systems, but it also offers train service between mid-size and large cities. The process of buying Korail tickets, getting to the train station, finding your train, and getting to where you need to be is daunting at first. 

Never fear though, I’m happy to help walk you through the entire process so you can enjoy using Korail!

Three Ways to Purchase Tickets from Korail

Visiting the ticket counter

You can purchase tickets at the station ticket booth. I usually do this for last-minute, same-day train tickets. 

Trains can be busy during commute times (mornings and evenings) and on weekends, so always be sure to ask two important questions when purchasing your tickets:

  1. Are the tickets I’m buying next to each other? This is important if you are buying a ticket for your child and want to make sure they are sitting next to you.
  2. Are these standing or seated tickets? Trains that sell out of seats become standing room only. In a pinch, I’ve purchased a seat, had my kiddo sit in my lap, and my husband had a standing-only ticket.

You can ask the ticket agent to help you find the next available train with seats available. Standing isn’t bad for the 45-minute ride from Pyeongtaek to Seoul, but it’s not great for a four- or five-hour trip to Busan!

The ticket counter at the Pyeongtaek Train Station (Located in AK Plaza)

Using the App – KorailTalk

The KorailTalk app is good if you’re not near a computer but it’s not user-friendly in some ways.

Keep in mind that you can’t download an e-ticket from the app. You’ll have to show your confirmation email and passport at the train station ticket booth to pick up your physical tickets.

Using the Website – www.letskorail.com

I’ve created a detailed tutorial on Slideshare to help you go through the steps of purchasing a Korail ticket. You can check it out here:

This information doesn’t apply to subways.

I know the subway is a great way to get around, but it’s not for me. If I’m traveling in Seoul, especially with my kiddo in tow, I’m taking cabs. As you read this, remember I’m focusing on city-to-city Korail purchases, which is quite a bit different than using the subway systems in various cities in Korea. 

A few things to keep in mind about buying Korail tickets

  • You can make a Korail ticket reservation up to 31 days in advance.
  • If your plans change, you can request a refund online or at the ticket counter. There are some rules and minor fees that may come out of your refund depending on how close it is to your travel day.
  • Don’t try to travel without a ticket. In the dozens of times we’ve used the train, we’ve only had our tickets checked twice. That said, I would never chance it. Fines are hefty and you can be banned from using the Korail entirely. Don’t be that person.

It’s an affordable way to travel!

Have you seen gas prices in Korea? I had sticker shock when we first moved here!

Korail is affordable. An adult ticket from Pyeongtaek to Seoul, one-way, is 4,700 won. An adult is considered anyone 13 or older. Kids ages 6-12 pay an even lower rate, and kids under the age of 6 accompanied by a paying adult ticket holder travel free!

I usually buy a ticket for our 4-year-old, though he can travel free. Every so often we’ve been on a night train next to a humorless 20-something who has just gotten off work and doesn’t think it’s so awesome to be sitting next to a parent with a loud kid in their lap. To avoid the passive-aggressive sighing, and to make sure hubby and I are comfortable too, we just get Little Dude a ticket. This guarantees he has a spot to sit or, in a pinch, it gives us an extra spot to put shopping bags, a stroller or other stuff.

There’s an even cheaper option if you’re going to use the train a lot…

Foreigners get the extra sweet option of purchasing something called a Korail pass. I haven’t used one yet, but if you’re going to be inter-city trains a lot and going long distances, it might be the best option for you. Passes are available for two, three, or five days of consecutive travel. You can learn more on the Korail Pass website: http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do

Three types of trains in Korail!

There are multiple types of trains in the Korail system, but there are three main types you’ll see a lot of.

Mugunghwa-ho trains are the standard train system – a little bit older and slower, but they’ll get you there on time!

ITX or Saemaul are Intercity Train eXpress trains and are part of the high-speed rail system.

KTX are Korea Train eXpress trains and are part of the high-speed rail system, too.

You can purchase all three types of train tickets using the Korail app (KorailTalk) or website. The only difference is that ITX and KTX trains will get you to where you want to be more quickly!

Here’s a handy map of KTX train routes: https://info.korail.com/mbs/english/subview.jsp?id=english_050401010000

Other amazing train features

Korean trains have a variety of features like:

  • Clean restrooms
  • Handicap restrooms
  • Nursing rooms
  • Cafe cars to purchase snacks
  • Reclining seats
  • Rotating seats

Not all trains have the same features but you can rely on the restrooms and nursing rooms, which is so nice!

You can see pictures of all the amazing fanciness on the Korail website: https://info.korail.com/mbs/english/subview.jsp?id=english_050301000000

I’ll be posting more tips for using Korail soon, but in the meantime, give it a try on your own! You can do it! Have a great time on your trip!

Train Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

 

The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival

Today we went to the Garden of Morning Calm, which is a privately owned garden northeast of Seoul in Gapyeong City. It’s actually the largest garden in South Korea and was inspired by a Korean professor’s visits to American botanical gardens. From December to March they have a “Lighting Festival” and millions of lights are hung up. The pictures on the website make it look otherworldly, and I can confirm that it looks truly magical in real life.

The Fairytale Village was fun for kids and adults too!

We were going to visit the garden as part of a Koridoor/MWR bus trip but the trip was canceled due to low registration. And by low registration I mean our family was the only one that registered. That’s a major bummer because when I did the math, the trip was a heck of deal at $40 per person.

The Sunken Garden

We decided to do the trip on our own. We sort of started on the wrong foot by missing our first train (see my notes about the train below). We were able to get a refund on our tickets to Cheongpyeong Station (because Korail is awesome like that) and apply them to the purchase of tickets for the next available train.

We arrived at Cheongpyeong Station (the main train station in Gapyeong City) without too much drama, except for when we almost missed our connection in Yongsan. At Cheongpyeong Station we tried to find the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, which takes you all around the area and makes stops at tourist locations, including Garden of Morning Calm. I had read this post about the city tour bus which has pretty good albeit older info, but once we got there it wasn’t immediately obvious where the bus was going to pick us up at.

By that point, Sir 3 Year Old was getting hungry. We all were getting hungry. So we decided to start walking in the direction of town.

The Visit Korea app is actually pretty handy for getting a feel for where restaurants are and mapping the general area since Google Maps doesn’t work in SK and Waze is really more about driving directions and less about search. Even when the Visit Korea app can’t give you restaurant recommendations for the exact area you’re in, it can at least show you some local restaurants on a map, so you have an idea of where food can be found.

Close up of the Love Tunnel!

We found a pretty good Vietnamese restaurant and then realized that we weren’t far from Cheongpyeong Terminal, which is the bus terminal in town and where the tourist bus makes a stop. As we were wandering up to the bus terminal The Sarge saw a street sign for bubble tea, and if there’s bubble tea, he’s there. We stopped in and as we sat at Thumb Coffee sipping taro bubble tea (like coconutty taro heaven in a glass) and vanilla lattes, we saw the tourist bus drive by. We shrugged and decided that we’d catch a cab instead. (There are lots of cabs across from the bus station!)

Our cab driver was a bit of a hippie with a long ponytail held back with a headband and as we got into his car, we realized his radio was playing “Country Roads Take Me Home” by John Denver, which is kind of a family jam of ours. We started to sing along and the driver turned up the song for us. I have to admit I got a bit choked up when I sang the bit about “radio reminds me of my home far away.”

It was also surreal to be driving through the mountains in South Korea listening to some of my favorite folk music and the similarities between the geography of that part of South Korea and the Appalachian foothills are pretty amazing.

It only takes about 15 minutes by taxi to get to the Garden of Morning Calm from the bus terminal and it’s about 15,000 won.

The garden is amazing. We walked around in the early afternoon and even without lights on, it was pretty and tranquil. There was piano music playing through hidden speakers and paths took us to smaller gardens that seemed hidden away waiting to be found.

As idyllic as it was, it was also freaking freezing, so we stopped for a snack at the bakery in the garden and waited for the lights to be turned on at 5 PM.

The lights were gorgeous once they were turned on! As the sun started to go down the lights became more brilliant, though we had to leave before it was fully dark. I imagine in full darkness the effect is amazing to see.

Of course, now I’m ruined for seeing Christmas lights when we go back stateside. No longer will I be impressed by three strands of Christmas lights blinking on and off to “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”.

We actually met one of the electricians who helped create the display which was neat. He wanted to practice his English for a bit while we waited for a cab and we thanked him over and over again for creating an amazing light display while he thanked us over and over again for The Sarge being in the Army. There was a lot of appreciation going on!

Side note: Our cab driver on the way back to the train station was also playing American folk music in his car, so it was either a coincidence or part of a citywide marketing attempt to lock in that mountain town vibe. Still not sure on that one.

Our trip home was okay. We seemed to have a harder time getting to the right trains and the assigned cars on the trains, but we’ve learned that if we just keep asking, someone knows where we are supposed to be. In one instance a man overheard us asking someone where Car 1 was on our train, and he said “I’ll help you!” He took Sir Three Year Old by the hand and guided us to our seats, which is yet another example of the incredible kindness of the people here in South Korea.

We can’t wait to go to Garden of Morning Calm again. They have many types of events throughout the year and since I’m a gardening fan, it’s right up my alley. Gapyeong City reminds me a bit of Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a pretty mountain town with fun tourist sites and some amazing looking restaurants. There’s a lot to it we didn’t get to see and I plan to do more research and check out this detailed blog post before we go for a long weekend.

About the Train:

We used Korail to get from AK Plaza in Pyongtaek to Yongsan, and then Yongsan to Cheongpeong. If you are going to book tickets on Korail try to book ahead if possible and make sure you have immediate access to a printer. That’s what snagged us up – we purchased tickets the night before our trip but didn’t have a printer. So we had to go alllll the way to the USO the next morning to print them. I suppose you could just scan the ticket right from your phone, but I get the feeling they really prefer you to have a printed copy.

If you decide to purchase tickets at the station the day you want to travel be sure to ask if the tickets you’re buying are sitting or standing because if the train is full you’ll buy standing tickets. Standing tickets aren’t that bad but if you’re going a long way with kids, a broken leg, or a drunk person, it might not be ideal.

And if you can’t find your train, ask the information desk or find the station management office. If you can’t find one on the floor you’re on, go to another level of the train station. We discovered that asking locals for help sometimes didn’t help us because we were taking ITX trains which cover more distance, and many people we asked had more familiarity with local (shorter) subway routes. But, if you can’t find an information desk, then just keep asking people around you until you get the information you need. We’ve found that most people have been kind and helpful here.

My iPhone Hack for a Cleaner Home!

I’ve come up with an iPhone hack that has helped me with house cleaning! If you struggle with keeping your house clean and keep your smartphone in your grip at all times, this could help you out. 

Cleaning on a schedule 

I’ve been steadily reading Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White. Dana tackles the topic of keeping your home clean when you have a brain like her’s (and mine).

What type of brain is that? One that sees the world as a series of projects – past projects, current projects, and – worst of all – potential future projects.

Projects can be fun but they can really slow you down when you view cleaning and house chores as projects. Project-minded folks think they can only do something if they have a particular amount of time to do it – and that includes cleaning!

Dana recommends using a cleaning schedule so that instead of thinking of the project as “cleaning the whole house” (which is unrealistic), you think, “Oh yeah, Mondays are for washing all the bed linens and the furniture slipcovers.”

Small goals, baby! That’s the key!

Putting that schedule on your iPhone

I’ve told you before that I love to make my own inspirational goalpapers for my iPhone. I’m on my phone more often than I’d like to admit, so I decided to make my cleaning schedule my iPhone wallpaper.

Every time I pick up my phone, there’s my cleaning schedule right in my face. It calls to me: “Don’t check your email! It’s Monday so go wash the bed sheets!”

No one really seems to notice my iPhone wallpaper. I’ve made some schedules that use a huge font and others that are more subtle, with small, faded font on a patterned background. I originally thought it would bring me some sort of public embarrassment, “Hey weird lady with CLEAN BATHROOMS on your phone lock screen – what’s wrong with you???”

Nah, hasn’t happened yet.

How I Make My Wallpapers

On my iPhone I use the RhonnaCollage App but I’m sure there are other apps that can help you make phone wallpapers. You can also use Canva or PicMonkey!

This iPhone wallpaper fits an iPhone 8 Plus!

 

Put Me In Coach! Or Why I Want to Attend Marketing Writing BootCamp This Summer…

This morning I was reading Ann Handley’s newsletter and I saw that there’s a chance to win a scholarship to MarketingProfs Marketing Writing Bootcamp. To enter, I need to explain how attending bootcamp would change my life. Here we go folks…

Marketing Writing BootCamp would be a huge benefit to me because of who I am and where I am in my life. So…here’s my life in three summarizing bullet points:

  1. I’m a military spouse who moves a lot
  2. I’m a writer who lost her mojo and is trying to get it back
  3. I have an hourly gig as a marketing writer and I want to be a better writer so that I can build on my success there

1. I’m a military spouse who moves a lot
My husband is in the Army and we move around a lot. Like most military spouses I’m on a never-ending quest to find stable work that will move with us. About two years ago I had the realization that perhaps the only way I’ll find career stability is by being my own boss. I don’t do crafts, so I can’t Etsy. I don’t do antiques or refurbish electronics, so I can’t eBay. But I can write. And I enjoy writing. So I’ve been taking the steps to make marketing writing and content creation my career.

I feel like my marketing writing isn’t quite there yet, and I have a good feeling that Marketing Writing Bootcamp can help me polish it so it really shines.

2. I’m a writer who lost her mojo and is trying to get it back.
I can’t exactly pinpoint when it happened, but at some point I lost my marketing writing mojo. About six or eight years ago I was writing some really solid marketing pieces. And then I lost my confidence…perspective…thesaurus? Something. I’ve been trying to piece together my own process for improving my marketing writing (reading blogs and books by Ann Handley, MarketingProfs and others, signing up for free marketing writing courses, seeking out and reading quality content writing) but I’m not sure it’s giving me the boost I need.

3. I have an hourly gig as a marketing writer and I want to be a better writer so that I can build on my success there.
I currently have a part-time, hourly marketing writing gig for a university. I help them with blogging, social media, and content writing. If I could do better at this job, I feel I could build on my success and create a more solid career for myself. I’ve been given a tremendous opportunity for marketing writing that I can really build on if I work hard and write well – but I need the help of MarketingProfs to do it. It feels to me that my marketing writing isn’t connecting well with our readers. I’m not developing content with strategy in mind and I’m really not even sure how to write in a more strategic way that would connect with our readers. I’m certain Marketing Writing BootCamp could help me with this. (Dear Boss, in case you read this, I’m really trying…)

Thanks for this scholarship opportunity MarketingProfs!

 

Time management tools (and apps!) for the TPAD afflicted…

I got me a serious case of TPAD. TPAD stands for Time Passage Awareness Disorder. It’s a made-up term for a very real thing. I take no credit for the naming of TPAD. Dana K. White, the brilliant and funny lady behind the blog A Slob Comes Clean named TPAD. 

Naming TPAD is like naming gravity. Everyone knew that gravity was a thing, but no one had a name for it and then BOOM – Isaac Newton names it. Dana is the Issac Newton of TPAD. Someone get this woman a Nobel Prize. Or a Webby.

Those of you with TPAD will relate to the following scenarios:

  • You put off doing something because you’re sure it will take hours, then you actually do the thing and it takes 15 minutes.
  • You start a project, certain it will take ten minutes and three hours later you’re still hard at work and mad about it.
  • You are always quite late or quite early but almost never right on time.

If these seem like totally legit scenarios to you, then you might have TPAD. Sorry, bruh. But, welcome to the club! We’re fun! And frantic.

I don’t like feeling frantic and as I raise my son, I don’t want him to feel rushed because of my inability to manage time. I also want to be on time more because being late is just plain rude.

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve narrowed down some tools (mostly iPhone apps) that help me to manage and understand time. I hope these are a help to you too!

A paper calendar and iPhone calendar.
Yes. Both. I know it’s slight overkill, but here’s why it works for me:

The paper calendar lets me see everything at the same time. I’m a very visual person and seeing everything written down for the week or the month is a huge help to me.

But I can’t carry the paper calendar everywhere. Whenever I write something in the paper calendar I input it into my iPhone calendar. And about once a week I sit down and compare the two, which is a great way to force me to review the upcoming week/month.

My Fitbit Watch timer.
I have a Fitbit Blaze which allows me to set alarms and timers. When the timer or alarm goes off, the watch vibrates. This is handy if I don’t have my iPhone available or I’m out and about.

For instance, if I’m at the park with my son and I want to make sure we leave at a certain time, I set an alarm on my watch. That way we can play and I don’t have to have my phone with me.

The iPhone timer and alarms.

What did we do before iPhone alarms? Well, we got by, but that’s not the point.

Setting multiple iPhone alarms helps me to segment and manage my time. You can see my screenshot here. The 3:01 alarm is my reminder to walk my dogs. The 4:10 alarm is when I need to start wrapping up my work. The 4:15 alarm is when I need to start heading out the door to get my son from daycare and ensure I’m a couple minutes early.

I need a lot of reminders to keep moving and complete tasks, so this is a help to me, but you might find you don’t need alarms in five-minute increments. I’m just extra like that. 😉

HoursTracker (for iPhone and Android)
I work a job with flexible hours. Problem is, I used to try to do work in whenever I had a free minute and didn’t really track my time worked. My employer got a lot of free work out of me.

Once I realized just how much I was screwing myself financially, I started to dedicate large blocks of time to work and don’t let myself work on “work stuff” in those moments of free time.

Enter HoursTracker. The app lets me “clock-in” and “clock-out” and enter hours worked if I forget to clock in. It also tracks how much I make and calculates for taxes and fees, so I have a weekly estimate of my income.

HoursTracker can even track multiple jobs. If you work at a physical office, HoursTracker can be set to automatically track your time when you get to the office (Holy GPS technology, Batman!) It’s a great app and the free version is loaded with cool features.

FocusKeeper (iPhone only)
FocusKeeper is a flexible, easy-to-use Pomodoro timer. Pomodoro timers time your work for 25 minutes, and then time a five-minute break. This technique is effective as it focuses your thoughts and works and then gives you time to take a mental break.

I like FocusKeeper because you can change the time increments for work sessions and break sessions. And you can set a goal for how many work/break cycles you want to successfully complete.

I use this when I’m writing, working on a project, or decluttering.

MultiTimer (iPhone only)
MultiTimer lets you track multiple tasks at once. It helps me when I’m cooking meals like Thanksgiving (time the green beans, the turkey, and the pie all in one app!). We host dinners at our house quite a bit so this is a scenario that plays out quite a bit in my house, albeit with different menus.

I used to have multiple timers going – my iPhone countdown timer, my Fitbit, and my stove timer. MultiTimer puts all of these timers in one place. So convenient to them all at once!

A Note About the Apps I don’t use all of these apps at the same time. But I find that at different times, different apps are more helpful than others. I recommend checking them out and seeing what works for you!

In praise of lazy parenting days…

Most days I’m that mom with the schedule. The one who is timing how much television my kid watches so it doesn’t exceed two hours. We eat healthy meals and we play outside. We read books, we play with toys. We go to daycare or the pool or the library…we’re busy, engaged, blah blah blah.

And then some days it all goes to hell, and there goes the schedule, folks. We eat Cheetos…lots of Cheetos. So many Cheetos. Okay, the whole damn bag of Cheetos. The tv is on for too long.  I’m on my phone looking at Instagram and Pinterest for longer than I should be. Side note: So many cute mason jar crafts that I’ll never do, but still, *swoon* at how adorbs they are.

It’s just a totally unstructured day and it’s perfect and gives us the mental break we need.

Those types of days happen a couple times a month and I’ve stopped beating myself up about them.

You know those days where you go to work at the office (or remember back to when you worked at an office) and the whole day goes off the rails and you get zero done? You basically just socialize all day and at the end you’re like “What the hell just happened?”

Well, Cheetos and TV days are like that for stay at home parents.

Look, it’d be great if we could all be perfect parents, but we’re not. None of us are. We’re all striving for “perfect” – whatever that means. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I need a break from all of it and so does my kid. There are loads of completely unscientific articles (like this one, this one, and this kid-specific one) explaining the benefits of a lazy day.

Next time you’re having a lazy day, roll with it. No guilt. No worries. Just Cheetos and pajamas and sitting on the couch with your littles. Just do it. Or, rather, just don’t do anything.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

 

Potty Training Impatience

Are you a relaxed parent? I am. I’d like to say I’m this way because I’m so awesome, but no. I’m this way because I have a child with a stubborn streak like a grumpy attorney. Push him too hard and he digs in…he knows I’m trying to manipulate him and no freaking way, is that happening on his watch.

I’m not saying I let him go off and play in traffic and binge on candy all day. I just mean that when I try to push the timeline on milestones, it doesn’t go well for anyone involved.

Now, I hesitate to use the word stubborn, because I think potty training is something that is age and maturity dependent. Guidance helps, but if they aren’t ready, then sometimes they simply aren’t ready. “Stubborn” indicates some level of intent.

For some kids, they aren’t being stubborn, they’re just learning on their own timeline.

And for some kids, it means they’ve realized that the ability to take a leak literally anywhere, at anytime, is not something that should be easily given up. I can’t blame them.

But back to my tiny, grumpy attorney: If you have a kid like this, you know what I mean. Some might call them “spirited” or “strong-willed” or “a good reason to day drink”.

Potty training has been a real test of this forced-relaxation parenting style of mine. I’m fortunate that Little Dude is not in daycare, so we didn’t have some hard and fast deadline to meet for potty training. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it. Bless you parents who are able to/have to meet such deadlines. I salute you.

That said, he’s at the older end of the potty training timeline. And while I try not to compare my child to other children, I’m totally comparing my child to other children. A lot of them are in underwear. But I’ve also noticed that a lot of the kids in underwear are having potty accidents on the regular, which leads me to believe that there are a lot more older-ish toddlers who are still working on potty training.

Note to smug potty training parents: if your kid is wearing underwear but is having accidents daily, they aren’t potty trained. Sorry to piss in your cornflakes.

I’ve spoken to some older parents who also had stubborn potty trainers and they’ve assured me that one day using the toilet just “clicked” for their kids and none of their 40-year-olds are still using pull-ups or diapers. So, there’s that.

I really, really want to get to this child fully potty trained but I’m trying not to force the issue. This isn’t the topic I want to fight with my kid about. I’m saving that angst for things like a shitty girlfriend or choosing a useless college major. So, after many phases of potty training including:
– guiding to the potty every hour
– potty seats everywhere
– no pants or pull-ups in the house

We’re at: BRIBERY.

Pee in the potty consistently, small human, and the key to the kingdom will be yours. Or, pretty much every Paw Patrol toy in Wal-mart will be yours. Because the cost savings of no longer buying pull-ups and nighttime diapers will more than cover the toys.

Do I think parenting by bribery is a good thing? No, definitely not.

Am I proud of this decision? Just a little bit.

We’ll see how it goes. He starts high school in about 11 years, so we’ll definitely have this potty thing on lock by then.

So long, staph infections…

File this under “things I never thought I’d share on the internet”. I’m going to tell you how my family and I managed to get never-ending staph infections under control. It wasn’t easy, but it’s possible, and it’s so nice to not have painful skin infections.

Before I share, let me say the following:

  1. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a medical practitioner. I have had a lot of staph infections and I’ve spoken to multiple nurses, physicians assistants, and doctors about how to minimize the risk of getting staph infections. I’ve also done a lot of research. That doesn’t make me an expert which brings me my next point…
  2. If you think you have a staph infection right now you need to go to the doctor. NOW. Stop reading this. Go make the appointment or go to urgent care. Staph infections can get to be serious in no time at all.

Enough disclaimers. Here are the details:

My husband and I used to get staph infections frequently. Staph is what as known as a “community associated illness”. It means that when you’re around a lot of people in population dense environments, you can get it. Military communities are a prime petri dish for staph. I used to feel terrible about it, like, what am I doing wrong? Am I not cleaning my home well? Am I failing at taking showers? Turns out, it’s quite common to get a staph infection. It’s not you, it’s just that staph is the worst and it’s everywhere. Some people get skin infections from staph, some don’t, and you can have the staph bacteria on your body for years without ever having an issue. Thems the breaks, kids!

Just one more note: the few times we had our staph infections tested, we had Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), not Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The preventative steps that you would take at home seem to be the same based on my research.

For many reasons my husband and I never were on the staph protocol that is given by doctors. It involves medicine, body washes, etc. If you haven’t spoken with your doctor about it, you should. It is quite effective, from what I’ve read about it. But, as I said, for multiple reasons we were never on the staph protocol prescribed by docs. Eventually, I started taking steps of my own to banish the bug. It’s worked for us so far and we haven’t had staph in over a year. Do I know for certain that we don’t have staph in our home? Oh no, I have no way of knowing and I bet there’s staph bacteria somewhere on our bodies or maybe in our home, but we’ve reduced the skin infections caused by staph, and that’s what matters to me. Here are some of the steps we have taken:

Wash your towels daily. Wash sheets daily, if you can, or at least once a week if you don’t do so already. Wash all of your clothing in hot water and the recommended cleaners above, if you can. Then dry everything in the dryer. Don’t air dry.

We don’t wash our clothes in hot water anymore, just my husband’s uniforms and everyone’s bedding.

We still wash towels daily in hot water with bleach. That might seem excessive, but I can’t run the risk of getting more staph infections, so it’s worth it to me.

  • Wash your bathroom down with bleach and hot water, if you can. If not, use an antibacterial wash of some sort and follow the directions on the bottle with care.

The bathtub, shower, sinks, countertops, floors, cabinet fronts, doorknobs…anything you touch. I actually try to wipe down as many hard surfaces in my house with an antibacterial spray/wipes when staph recurs in our house. But the bathrooms are of particular focus because the humidity in that room makes it a prime spot for staph bacteria to thrive.

I do this once a week.

  • Toss your razors and always air-dry the new ones after giving them a dip in alcohol or bleach.

This is a big one because staph often infects hair follicles and shaving irritates your skin and hair follicles. Shave, then take razor out of your bathtub/shower, give it a dip in bleach and water or rubbing alcohol, rinse it, and let it dry. Don’t place the razor back in the humidity of the shower area where it might not get thoroughly dry.

We do this every day. The drying part, not the tossing part.

  • Ditto for your body scrubbers, poofs, exfoliators. 

You’ll need to toss these (preferred) or disinfect them if possible. Don’t use this sort of thing while you have a staph infection – you don’t want to scratch your skin or create any sort of openings on the skin surface. Exfoliators and poofs create very tiny scratches in the skin surface.

  • Take a bleach or vinegar bath.

This is an excellent study about different methods for preventing recurring staph infections. They recommend a solution of “¼ cup household bleach in ¼ bathtub (~13 gal) of water”. We soaked for about 15 minutes at a time. I’ve also been told vinegar can be used instead of bleach, but I haven’t tried that. One doctor who helped me with a particularly bad staph infection told me that the bleach bath is about the same strength as a chlorinated pool. So, if the bleach idea worries you, think of it as being in a tiny pool and jump in. Rinsing yourself off well afterward to reduce the drying effect the bleach or vinegar will have on your skin.

We don’t currently do this step.

You can purchase surgical scrub and wash with it once a week or so if the bleach bath idea makes you cringe. Surgical scrub can stain, so don’t get it on fabrics. I heard this idea from a physician’s assistant who worked in a wound care clinic. He is regularly exposed to staph and he felt that a full body wash with surgical scrub has helped him reduce his risk of staph infections.

We don’t currently do this step.

  • Use antibacterial ointment on your ears and nostrils.

To staph bacteria, your ears and nostrils are a warm cozy spot to hang out. You could have staph bacteria living there and not have an infection. Put antibacterial ointment on q-tips and swab your nose and ears. We did this once a day for two to three weeks when we had a staph infection. We don’t currently do this.

  • Wash your hands and body with antibacterial soap (optional).

I have never been a big fan of antibacterial products. Antibacterial products actually have created the antibiotic-resistant bacteria we deal with now! When we had an active infection in our house, we used antibacterial everything. Once I felt we had it back under control, we went back to regular soaps. According to the FDA you don’t really need to use antibacterial products to effectively battle most bacteria. I probably won’t repeat this step if we ever have staph infections in our house again.

  • Stock up on alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been shown to be more effective than chemical-based hand sanitizers at killing germs. Alcohol-based sanitizers also don’t contribute to the antibiotic resistance of bacteria, so that’s a good thing!

I carry hand sanitizer in my backpack for when we’re out and about.

  • Don’t itch and if you touch the infected area wash your hands immediately.

I get a bit crazy about this when my husband or I have a skin infection. If you have an itch you just have to scratch then rub it with your fingertips – not your nails. Then wash your hands immediately.

I hope this post helps you stop recurring staph infections in your home. If you have steps you’ve taken in your home to help prevent staph, please share in the comments!

Photo Credit: NIAID under Creative Commons License