MainStays Kids Plastic 24 Piece Dish Set.

Having two toddlers means we go through a lot of dishes. Being the smart shopping momma that I am, I LOVE a good deal. Especially on things that my kids will out grow or not use for very long. When it comes to children’s dishes, yeah the sets with fun animals on them are cute, but are they really worth the price?

I was recently in Walmart browsing the back to school section. I know what you are thinking “But she has two toddlers, what does she need in that section?” I have a thing about office supplies. Anyway, as I am looking around at lunch pails I see this 24 piece plastic dish wear set for only $5!

I was so excited to buy this! I love the fun colors and obviously the price. What I love most is that these plates and bowls do to not have a plastic film to them that bubbles up or rips after too many uses. We have had several plates and bowls like that. Water would get underneath the plastic, it was hard to get out and would start to grow mold. So we instantly threw those out.

 

I love the idea of the lunch trays. They will be great when we travel. Toddlers are all about independence and like to carry their own plates. Paper plates are often flimsy and my son drops them. They trays are light enough, sturdy enough, and easy to distributed food across so the weight is even. This will make it easier for Emmett to carry his own plates. The size of the tray is also a win for me, I can fit more variety of things on his tray. And like most families, at our reunions there is always a huge variety of food to try.

The plates and bowls are amazing as well. They are light weight, easy for little hands to carry and great size. We have had a carrying issue in the past.

The best part about the forks and spoons are the length. This makes it easy for parents to help toddlers navigate food to their mouth. If you have ever tried to feed a kid with a short spoon or fork, you know what I am talking about. The forks and spoons are very durable so they wont break as easy as some other plastic wear. Plus, how fun are these colors?

As you can see, the cups are easy to use for little hands. They are super lightweight and small enough for both of my kiddos to hold comfortably. This makes learning to use a cup so much easier.

Con’s: They are not dishwasher or microwave safe. Which is not a big deal, I don’t mind hand washing. But it is not convenient when you are busy and just want to load the dishwasher and go.

I love the price Mainstays has set for this, that was a big factor in being buying this item. All around I will give the Mainstays Plastic 24 Piece Dish Set a 8 out of 10.

What Stay-at-Home-Mom’s Want You to Know.

It’s no lie that every mom has a tough job. No matter if you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, someone always has something to say. I never realized all of the misconceptions there were about being a stay at home mom. I also did not realize how many people had an option about my choice to do so.

  1. Not all of us are staying home because we want to. I know, I know you think it might be an option, and often it is. But you have to look at the financial matter to staying home as well. Having kids is expensive, between diapers, clothing, feeding them, money just blows in one window and out the other. Having to pay a daycare or babysitter X amount of money each week puts a huge dent in what you bring home. On top of the gas to get to work and any other expenses you may have, staying home might actually be a financially smart move in the long run.
  2. Not all of us are “Crunchy moms”. I had no idea what this term even meant until like 4 months ago.  I am a former breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering mom and had no idea there was a term for that. But I have also been the mom who used disposable, pushed the kids around in the stroller, and currently giving my 13 month old formula. My kids are smart, happy, and that is what’s important to me.
  3. It’s more lonely than you think. Not all of us have mommy tribes that play date every Wednesday. Most of us don’t get to go on dates with our significant others because not many people offer to watch the kids. Getting time for myself is hard, most people think because I do stay home that I don’t have the need for a babysitter or to do anything alone. It can get depressing not having someone to talk to.
  4. We don’t just spend our husbands money. Actually, if you need a serious 101 in budgeting, find a stay at home mom. Our money saving tricks and tips are the best around. Our designer yoga pants, we bought them on clearance. (little SAHM joke for you) But in all seriousness, living on one income is not easy, I have gotten pretty creative with my money saving skills.
  5. We actually love it. I know it seems like we complain a little. But deep down we wouldn’t want our lives any other way. Being a stay at home mom has been the best gift my husband could give me. I love having the open ability to do anything and everything with my kids. Being home for the first words, steps, being able to video tape them for my husband to see. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to stay home.

Being a stay at home mom has so many up and downs. You learn new limits that you didn’t know you had, you also learn some amazing life skills. I wear my badge with pride, and I hope you do to.

What Postpartum Depression Did to Me.

 

If you have children, you have probably been told about Postpartum Depression. But have you been told about the actual dangers around Postpartum Depression? I wasn’t.  Having my first child was supposed to be a joyous occasion for my husband and I; for the most part it was. With all of the day dreams I had, I was excited to step into my new role as a mother. After having a major miscarriage the September before my son was born I knew I wanted to be a mother. I fell into a really bad depression and could hardly function. By January we were pregnant and overwhelmed with joy. I was taken off of work and put on bed rest due to having a history of complications staying pregnant. We thought everything was finally looking up for us, what I never told anyone is that my depression was getting worse. I played it off like I was fine and even started to believe that myself.

As my due date grew closer I became more anxious. Not about having my son finally with us, in fact it was about everything else. We lived in the neighborhood both my mother and I grew up in with the same neighbors yet I started locking my doors, even during the day. I was constantly scared someone was going to break into my apartment. I always had it in my head that my husband was cheating on me even though I knew he wasn’t. I had never been an anxious person before and couldn’t understand what was happening to me.

After Emmett was born, I was happy for a while. I was relieved to be home with my husband and to start my new life as a stay at home mom. Two weeks later the crying started and I couldn’t stop. All I did was cry, I hated myself, I hated everyone. I felt like I had let this little boy down already, I knew it wasn’t true, but the thoughts kept coming. Emmett was around three months old when I finally called my doctor and told her about how I was feeling, she confirmed it was postpartum depression. I started an anti depressant and everything seemed to be getting better. I wasn’t as angry, I was feeling productive in my role as a mother and a wife. I was working out and losing all of the weight I had gained, I was starting to be my “old goofy self” again.

The medication helped me get my life back on track and I was truly happy. By Emmett’s first birthday we had gotten pregnant again, we wanted our kids close in age but didn’t think it would happen as soon as it did. I had to stop my medication immediately because of the effects it could have on the baby during pregnancy. I was not informed I needed to wean off of the medication and soon became angry again. The stress of pregnancy and a toddler was wearing me down. I was sick constantly and Emmett was getting to be a lot on me, even though he was just being a normal toddler. I once again started getting anxious over everything and could hardly function. I was falling deeper and deeper into my depression and anger and couldn’t see what it was doing to me.

Three months before Norva was due Matthew accepted a job that was two hours from where we lived. This meant he was going to be gone during the week and only home on weekends. Because we only had one vehicle I had to pick him up Fridays and drop him off Sundays. It was a lot on my heavily pregnant body and mind. Especially being alone with Emmett during the week. I had a lot of help between my cousin who lived with me , my sister who lived next to me, and my mother who came almost every week, but it wasn’t the same as having my husband around.

When Norva arrived I thought that all of the depression would finally be over. I wanted to so badly to believe that, but it was so different from what actually happened.

My depression hit an all time high after having my daughter. I was lashing out at friends and family, I was angry and yelling all of the time, all my husband and I did was fight, and I never saw any of this. I couldn’t understand what was going on around me, I couldn’t see what I was doing to the people who loved me. I couldn’t even see the toll it was taking on my kids to have a mother like that. A mother who was always upset or mad, a mother who would get frustrated at the smallest things, a mother who would be in a bad mood all day because of something silly. My son had started to bite his nails and I couldn’t make any connection with my daughter who was only a few months old at the time. Breast feeding became more and more difficult, all I wanted to do was give up. I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be a mother, I felt like they would be better off with out me, that my husband would be fine with out me. I went between thoughts of suicide and running away from my family. In this time frame we made a major move. It is is where everything got worse and worse for me. It was winter time, I was secluded in a town where I didn’t know anyone, my husband was still gone for days at a time, and I was alone with two small kids and no vehicle. I had no help and felt like I had no allies. This is when I knew I had a problem and began looking up the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. What I found is that I didn’t have the signs for just postpartum depression, I also had the signs of postpartum anxiety.

Just as I was figuring this out, I was always making excuses as to why I couldn’t get help. Some excuses were even so far fetched that I didn’t even believe them. I knew I needed to get help, but I felt like such a failure not just my kids and husband, but to myself as well. I no longer recognized the person looking back at me, I could no longer recognize the sound of my own voice, and I couldn’t place who was thinking these thoughts about suicide, there was no way that could have been me. I spent so many nights crying trying to figure out where the real me had gone and looking for any trace of her I might still have left. I could never find the happiness I once had, or the passion, things I used to love doing I now hated or couldn’t do anymore. I hated everything and everyone, mostly myself and what I had become.

In March of 2017 we made another major move, this time closer to my husband work. This meant we would be together as a family everyday and I would be able to get the help I needed. But at first I didn’t. The first two weeks I felt amazing, I was happy, we were all together as a family again. I was getting out and exploring my new town and meeting the neighbors. My postpartum depression and anxiety soon came back with vengeance. I became so angry with my husband for moving me so far from my home. I was so angry that I had no one I could call to sit with the kids for an hour while I de-stressed. I felt even more secluded than I did when I literally had no one. To say my marriage was on thin ice would be an understatement, we were both just waiting for the other to say it was over. Once again, instead of getting help, I just blamed everyone else, this time my husband got the worse of my lashing out. He no longer wanted to be around me, we both could feel the tension and knew something needed to give.

When our marriage hit an all time low and I left for a weekend, I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the lack of responsibility I felt. It was a much needed break that gave me time to get the clarity to see my life, where it had gone, and what I needed to do about it all. I decided when I returned back home I would be calling around for a therapist to finally do something about this. I told my husband of my plan and that I would require his help and support to make all of this work. I made sure we were on the same page 100% before I jumped into anything.

After a week of calling around, I found a therapist I felt comfortable meeting with. We have had several meetings since and I can honestly say it is doing so much good for me. I told her about all of the feelings I had and my thoughts to look into medication. She suggested working out as well so I joined a gym that week. I also recently started a new anti-depressant and can feel such progress in my life and see my relationships improving. I am no longer lashing out at people, my mood has improved and I actually feel happy. I am making huge strides in the gym and my physical well being, all around I feel like I am getting back to normal.

When ever I talk to people about this time in my life, I am completely honest with them. I don’t want anyone to go through what I have been dealing it. I know the strides I am currently making are not a quick fix and that this will take time. But I am ready for that fight and get my life back.

If you or someone you know has had a child in the past 12 months and are showing any signs or symptoms, please call your doctor. You don’t have to fight this alone. According to http://postpartumprogress.org  15% of women are affected by postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression signs:

  • Excessive crying
  • Sever panic and anxiety attacks
  • Intense anger or irritability
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Thoughts of death of suicide

Postpartum Psychosis signs:

  • Confusion
  • Obsessive thoughts about baby
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions and hallucinations

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130

Thank you for taking the time to read my experience with postpartum depression and what it did to me. I hope this post can help you or someone you know. Having a good support system is so important. Remember you are loved and you are worth it.

State Park Natives: Genesee Country Village & Museum.

On the 4th of July most people go to barbecues, family reunions, camping at the lake, but not our family. This year my family decided to take a trip back in time. Just 20 miles outside of Rochester NY sits the largest living history museum in New York state. The Genesee Country Village and Museum was founded to preserve 19th century New York. There you can find many buildings and houses from across New York state.

On this vast 600 acre site you have find many well preserved houses and other buildings filled with artifacts that date to the time period.  Actors are everywhere giving demonstrations, telling the history of the house’s and items inside.

This living history museum is not just for looking either. During the summer season they are always events, workshops, and reenactments going on that is fun for the whole family. During our visit we saw a parade full of music and even union soldiers! After the parade everyone met in the center of town for a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Through out the day there were many events, a pie eating contest, black powder gun demonstration, and much more.

There were so many highlights to our trip and over all we had a lot of fun. If you are ever in Western New York and love history, I highly suggest stopping by the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford NY.

https://www.gcv.org/

State Park Natives: Letchworth.

The summer before our marriage, my husband and I would spend most of our mornings before work and days off wandering around local state parks. That was the convince of where we lived at the time, we were a 2 hour drive to some cool state parks in both New York and Pennsylvania. As we walked and took photos we decided that we would start to document our travels and review the parks on a blog we planned to start. We actually did pretty well with it, but life happened and we put State Park Natives on the back burner.

Fast forward to summer 2017 and we are going to get back up and running with SPN (State Park Natives) Our first post being about or family trip we took on Sunday.

 

Letchworth State Park, Letchworth.

Letchworth State Park is located in Western New York, southeast of Buffalo NY and southest of Rochester NY. This park is just over 14 thousand acres and roughly 17 miles long with several beautiful look out points. Letchworth is rich with history involving both Native Americans and white settlers, containing a few museums and plot markers that tell of towns that never stayed, the deep history of Mary Jemison who was adopted by the Seneca, and even some ghost sightings.

The only way I can really describe Letchworth is, breath taking. No matter what entrance you take to get into the park, you will not be disappointed by the sights that bombard you.

St. Helna Site.

We drove down to where the St. Helana village was. In the 1800s it was a small, booming with mills. Now all that sits there is a small and quiet picnic area with a trail that leads down the hill and to the Genesee River. It is a bit of a hike, but well worth it. Just don’t do what we did and try to hike down carrying two toddlers in your arms.

We did a lot of driving and a few small stops along the way for photos. Much of the Park is up hill, or down depending on which entrance you use to enter. The road is lined with stone walls that are beautiful and kept up well.


Despite the rain, we stopped as much as possible to take photos of the gorge. I tried to capture its beauty as best I could, but a photo could never compare to seeing it all face to face. I wish I could have captured my sons face when he saw the valley for the first time. Even my 2 year old can appreciate the park.

 

We never made it to the upper falls because the kids were getting restless, so I had to pull the photo of the train trestle from my visit to the park 4 years ago. Our last stop was the lower falls, which is the photo on the upper left. The middle photo is one of the MANY pavilions the park has set up for picnics, reunions, weddings, etc. In fact, my husband and I almost got married at Letchworth because we loved the stone buildings so much.

 

No matter what weekend you chose to make a trip to Letchworth, you can always find something going on in or around the park. The park has many accommodations from Inn’s to camping, and there is always something to do. The park offers swimming, fishing, hiking, white water rafting, and more.

 

So next time you are in Western New York and make your way to the park, I promise you wont be disappointed.

 

 

Fitness Update: Week 3

Last week I told myself I would make it to the gym at least 4 days, well that didn’t happen. Friday we ended up having an emergency situation (don’t worry, everyone is okay) so I only made it in 3 days. But I can honestly say I pushed myself a little more than I normally do. More and more I am feeling the progress my body is making. I noticed shorts I bought less than a month ago fit me better than they did in store. I also noticed that some of my undies are now a smidgen too big on me…..

My biggest challenge is going to be getting my lose skin around my stomach to tighten back up. I’m not fully sure that is even possible? I can feel my abs under all of it, but nothing shows..yet. Being pregnant back to back only made matter worse for my lose skin, but I intend to do what I can with it. If I have to start wearing shape-wear, I will.

It also doesn’t help that I have done nothing but eat like crap the past 2 weeks. I really need to step up my meal prep and planning game. I should probably start doing that soon as I have to go to the grocery store this evening.

I will be posting my progress photos soon with details on what machines I have been doing and how many inches I am down. My hips are already pretty close to what they were before ever having children, which is exciting.

What ever goals you have, I hope you are working hard to meet them. Happy Monday!

38 Simple ways to bond as a Family

When you think about spending time with your family, you might think about dinner time where you discuss your day, Sunday evening board games, or camping on the weekends. It all might have been so fun or relaxing, but it also helped you build a strong bond with you parents, siblings, and other members of your family. As children grow they learn everything about life from their parents, having a strong bond helps children grow more confident in themselves. It has also been suggested that children who have steady positive interaction with their parents will less likely have negative behaviors or suffer from depression.

Often the biggest challenge families have when trying to set aside family time is when and how to do it. The great thing about spending time with your family and bonding is that it can literally happen when ever and where ever. It could be something big like a road trip or something small like taking 15 minutes a day to talk. Many people seem to think that spending time with the family has to be routine, it is a nice thought, but not ever family has that option.

If you have ever worked in a public setting such as restaurant, gas station, stores, etc, you know that you don’t always have a set schedule; you might not even have the same days off each week. Some people even work over night which leaves very little time during the day to sleep and do other daily living activities, others might even work opposing shifts as their S/O. So how do you plan to spend time with family when you live an unconventional schedule? You have to be creative with the things you do.

  1. Plan trips and events a month in advance
  2. Check out local events and festivals
  3. Research your family genealogy
  4. Write notes to each other
  5. Find time to read together
  6. Talk walks
  7. Tell your kids stories about your childhood
  8. Ask for their help with meal planning
  9. Play card or board games
  10. Invent your own family game. Example; Trivia about your family
  11. Color and draw together
  12. Start a family journal
  13. Camp out or camp “in”
  14. Video chat
  15. Learn about a country and its cultures
  16. Do crafts
  17. Take an interest in your children’s interests
  18. Bake or cook together
  19. Find a new show to watch each week
  20. Start a family group message or text
  21. Start a family scrap book
  22. Play dress up at grandma and grandpas
  23. Volunteer
  24. Talk in accents all day
  25. Spend time with each person individually
  26. Ask your kids what they want to do
  27. Make Holiday decor
  28. Simply just talk to each other
  29. Build a fort or tree house
  30. Catch fire flies
  31. Make goal charts and help each other meet their goals
  32. Plant flowers or a vegetable garden
  33. Take a class together
  34. Stargaze
  35. Watch the sun rise or set
  36. Go to an SCA event or a Renaissance fair
  37. Go berry picking
  38. Have a dance party

I hope this list helps you create beautiful memories and have some summer fun!

Fitness Update: Week 2.

My weekend was insanely busy, which resulted in me only going to the gym Monday-Wednesday. I don’t really like how that feels.

Monday was my first ever Yoga class and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. See, I’ve done a bit of Yoga on and off in the past, but it is different when you have a teacher to follow. My teacher kept telling us to listen to our bodies and go at our own pace, not to strain and only do what we could. I was able to do almost everything smoothly, except for planks. My abdominal walls are stretched out and weak due to have two kids back to back. I hope to continue Yoga weekly.

Tuesday I did a Barre class and that was about what I expected it to be. I used to dance ballet, so I knew what to expect. But I am so so so far out of shape that it felt impossible to keep up. My body wore out so fast that I was shaking 20 minutes into the class. I still intend to do Barre classes here and there. I’m not sure if I will do them weekly though. At least not yet.

Wednesday I spent my time at the gym on the weight machines. My trainer has set up a chart of machines I should use to help me get the results I am looking for. I tried to do an even amount on each machine, but different body parts have different strength and weaknesses so I stopped when my body had enough. I focused a little bit more on my arms and abs. I know I shouldn’t be able to yet, but I can already tell a difference in my arms. I have been able to see the difference in my legs for a few days now, which is lovely. With my arms when I hold them out at shoulder width, the muscles feel tighter.

Over the weekend we had my daughters birthday party and surprisingly I didn’t eat like crap like I normally would. Normally I would shove 6 cupcakes into my mouth, this time I didn’t. I think I had two, I drank a lot of water and made sure I was portioning my food. In the past week my eating has been so much better, I have been drinking more water and less coffee, and all around I am in a much better mood.

Over all I can say I am really glad I finally took the push to join a gym. The women who work there are all so supportive and helpful. I don’t feel embarrassed to work out there in front of other people like I have at co-ed gyms. There is a steady flow of people working out, but it is never cramped when I go in the evening and the machines I use are almost always available. I am happy with how my past two weeks have gone, I can’t wait to keep it up.

On The Road With Kids: My Top 4 Essentials.

If you have ever been in the car for a long time, you know how uncomfortable it can become. Now imagine if you are a toddler or child trying to sit in the car for hours. My two year old can hardly sit for 5 minutes, he gets that from me, I always have to be doing something.

I have found that when we are going on a trip, even if it is just around town to pay bills and do shopping, I have to be prepared for everything and anything. This is pretty vital when you have children, especially two toddlers who fear nothing.

  1. Emergency kit– My emergency kit is something I picked up at a drug store. It contains everything you need for cuts, burns, Tylenol, upset tummy, all basic first aid. I keep one in my car at all times, you never know when you will stop at a park so the kids can let off some energy or if someone decides to climb out of the cart in the store. I also found it helpful to put fun stickers in the kit so my kids will feel better.
  2. Collapsible Baskets– I have several in the car. One for toys that are in car only, we switch them out every few months. One for extra diapers, wipes, sunscreen, extra clothing for kids and mom, and snacks that wont go bad. I do not keep drinks like bottled water in car, I bring those when leaving. I keep an extra basket for things like muddy shoes, wet clothing, etc. A bag would work great for these as well. It also helps keep that car more organized
  3. Small cooler/Large Lunch Box– Kids are CONSTANTLY hungry, except when it is time for dinner. I try to pack little lunch like things to go along with the snacks I already keep in the car. Due to us only have one vehicle right now, we have to plan our day during my husbands work schedule. Which means all or our store trips, bill paying, etc is around lunch time. We also live in a city, so we tend to get stuck in traffic a bit. This is where the lunch box is handy. My kids have quick snacks to grab. I put in PB&J sandwiches, cheese sticks, drinks, fruit, veggies. This is also a must if you breastfeed, you have snacks and some where to store milk if you have to pump.
  4. Toys– I know I mentioned this in number 2 about the baskets, but I want to go a little more into it. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of small $1 toys for the car. Something that if it gets lost wont be missed. We have cars, books, stuffed animals, coloring supplies, toys that make sounds, and some outside toys like chalk for when we stop to play. Stopping to play is super important for us, the kids need to get out some of that energy the build up. Some people like to bring things like tablets, Ipads, portable DVD players, which is all fine, but my kids are small yet, so I try to stay away for digital unless we will be in the car for hours. That is where I bring portable DVD players and some movies.

 

I always keep these items in my car, even if we are going across town. Have two toddlers has taught me that even when you are prepared, you are never really prepared. These items just help my day go a little smoother when we are out and about.

Do you have any “must have” items in your car? Email me about them at Chaoswithsugar@gmail.com or comment below! Have a great trip!

Fitness Update: Week One.

Last week I posted about me journey into losing this baby weight I have been carrying. I decided I am not going to focus on losing the weight, rather than getting fit. The weight loss will just be a welcomed response to my body changing.

So far last week I have hit the gym 3 times, got talked into trying a class they call “Power 30”, and met with my trainer. I am actually going to be meeting with her later this morning as well. I wish I had gone more last week, but I didn’t want to exhaust my body. I am still pretty sore from Thursday.

I kind of feel like a little kid on their birthday, you play with your new toy for a few days but the charm wears off. I don’t think the charm will wear off with this though. I can honestly say I am very happy with my first week and can already feel the progress, mostly in my legs.

I notice the days I work out in the morning I tend to make better choices in food through out the rest of the day. I really liked being active at 5 am and the rest of my day following went very well. I was more upbeat, happy, not so tired and wore out. My kids even had a really good day.

I am excited to share my progress with everyone.