The Vacation House Box

Have you ever checked into a vacation rental that bragged about their “fully stocked kitchen” in the listing only to find out that they think “fully stocked” means 2 chipped and flaking sauce pans, a dull grocery store knife, and about 4 tiny mugs? We have and it’s never a fun surprise! Ever since our oldest son was born, we’ve preferred to stay in rental houses instead of hotels. We get so much more space for the same cost (or less!!!) and have access to many more amenities that are helpful when traveling with small kids (in-home laundry, no shared walls or floors, bedrooms with doors for everyone, work space for adults, and more). After several trips of having to ship ourselves items from Amazon or making runs to Target to make up for the failings of the rental home’s offerings, we created a intentional collection of assorted things that make staying in a vacation rental as close to our normal living experience as possible without actually being at home. The Vacation House Box was born!

Let’s break it down a little more granularly.

  1. Power Strips: Electrical outlets are never in convenient places (especially in older homes)
  2. Airport Express and Ethernet cord: This has become less useful over time (it’s old tech from before we got married) but in a family with multiple internet-connected devices, being able to plug in our own router and have Kindles, Chromecasts, computers, phones, and anything else automatically connect to a known network is a BIG timesaver. We’re looking to replace the Airport Express with something else (once we figure out what that is)
  3. Expanding hanging drying rack: I tend to do laundry while traveling or we’re in a place with fewer hooks for drying swim suits than necessary. I found this at the grocery store several years ago (this one is similar) and it makes drying clothing simpler.
  4. Two pop-up laundry hampers: Purchased at the dollar store, these basic hampers help us stay slightly more organized and prevents clothes from getting lost and forgotten under kids’ beds.
  5. Mesh laundry bag: I used to bag up baby socks in the wash so they didn’t disappear but this bag has become useful when washing masks, delicate laundry, or things I don’t want to be separated (like the insoles of my Allbirds)
  6. White vinegar: More than once, I’ve thought while on vacation, “I bet this shower would work much better if I could get the hard water scaling off the nozzle.” Because I’m that weird, vinegar is in the box (also great for basic cleaning!)
  7. Stain pre-treater: Kids and adults alike have found this item useful! I like the Oxyclean gel stick for traveling because it takes up very little space and can sit on the clothes for up to a week before washing.
  8. Laundry soap: We’ve used Charlie’s Soap laundry powder since our oldest was born and still love it. It only takes 1 Tablespoon to wash a full load so all I need to bring along is a small jar and a scoop.
  9. Kids toys: Our kids love playing with extra straws, sticks, rocks, and other treasures they find on vacation but this small stash of toys and activities helps keep them occupied. Currently, the toy bag contains some inexpensive play food (found in the Target dollar section), felt play money, small jars of Play-doh, and laminated Play-doh mats.
  10. Grow in water toys for baths: Remember these from way back? They still exist! My mother-in-law likes to gift these to our kids for holidays so we always stash a pack of them in the Vacation House Box to make bath time extra special.
  11. Travel games: Rainy days happen on vacation too so we keep travel sized games and cards in our box.
  12. Baby-proofing items: Gotta keep the littles safe from themselves, even/especially while traveling
  13. LED nightlights: Helpful to find your way to the bathroom in the dark or make kids comfortable sleeping in a new space
  14. Collapsable fabric cube: Used most often to organize kitchen necessities when there isn’t cabinet space available
  15. Collapsable fabric organizer: This one is more of a tray with 3 sections that allows me to set out kitchen utensils, toddler dishware, and other small kitcheny things
  16. Clean sponge: Gotta keep up with the never-ending dirty dishes, even on vacation!
  17. Dishwasher tablets: So often, rentals provide enough dish soap for one or two days, which isn’t terribly helpful when you’ll be there for one to two weeks. Now we bring our own so we don’t run out.
  18. Dawn dish soap: I love blue Dawn dish soap with all of my heart. Obviously we use it for handwashing dishes but did you know that it’s incredibly good at getting grease stains out of clothing?
  19. Brillo disposable cloths: I picked up this tip from my parents camping kit. These useful cloths are great for cleaning little kids’ faces and hands, wiping up spills, and washing dishes. They’re really large so we cut them in half.
  20. Lysol wipes: Have you ever had to stop at a Walmart in the middle of Indiana because your baby is sick and leaked nastiness out of their diaper into their car seat? I have and vowed right then and there that I wouldn’t travel without minimal cleaning supplies ever again.
  21. First aid kit and baby powder: Bandaids and cleaning wipes are always good to keep around and baby powder is one of the most effective ways to remove sand from skin that I’ve found.
  22. OTC meds of all sorts: Travel packs of Lactaid, headache drugs, and OTC painkillers are clutch
  23. Bug repellant and travel tissues: This one feels rather self-explanatory but the tissues are for noses and the repellant is to stay bite-free.
  24. Toilet paper: I will do many things to save money but using or buying cheap, thin toilet paper is not one of them. Paper products like TP are often one thing we run out of during a longer-term stay so keeping a spare roll in the box allows for a less urgent trip to the store.
  25. Coffee filters: For coffee! But also great for craft projects!
  26. Clothes pins: For pinning! But also great for creating temporary bibs from napkins or games
  27. Kitchen trash bags: For trash! But also great for transporting dirty laundry home.
  28. Zip-topped bags (quart and gallon sized): For leftovers, travel snacks, wet socks, etc
  29. Disposable rain ponchos: Rain ponchos made their way into the box during our annual trips to Disney World. Getting caught in a pop-up Central Florida storm and spending the rest of the day with wet clothes is not fun!
  30. Disposable to-go coffee cups: Also originating from our Disney trips, these cups come in clutch when we’re rolling out the door early in the morning to make it to the theme park but I don’t want the responsibility of taking a real travel cup from the rental (if there is even one there)
  31. Pizza pan and cutting boards: A cheap pizza pan can bake almost anything in addition to pizza (cookies, garlic bread, chicken breasts…). Many rentals we’ve stayed in haven’t had cutting boards at all or the only one there looks like it had never been washed. A 3-pack from the grocery store has made cooking much easier.
  32. Basic cooking seasonings: If I have specific meals in mind, I’ll pack pre-measured spices from home but almost never travel without salt, pepper, oil, and OG Mrs Dash
  33. Parchment: For lining pans!
  34. Aluminum foil: For lining pans! And occasionally wrapping things!
  35. Chef’s knife: My favorite knife at home is a small chef’s knife so I travel with this inexpensive (but nice!) knife from Ikea and a universal knife cover.
  36. Kitchen scissors: For opening packages, cutting food for kids, making paper snowflakes. Kitchen scissors are one of my most-used items in the box.
  37. Silicone scraper and spoon: Our goal was to pack the fewest number of items that were useful in the largest number of scenarios, hence the scraper and stirring spoon. I’d like to find a small silicone spatula that doesn’t melt to add to the box too.
  38. Can opener: Have you ever gotten ready to make dinner and discovered you couldn’t open a can of tomatoes for chili? I have! Now I have a can opener in the box.
  39. Measuring cups and spoons: No longer am I at the mercy of the single 1/3 cup measuring cup and 1 teaspoon I found in a vacation rental kitchen!
  40. Oven mitt: No more towels as oven mitts or trivets for me!
  41. Kid-friendly plates and bowls: Having parented toddlers for 8+ years, we’ve learned that we are more comfortable giving our accident prone toddlers plastic plates and bowls (this collection from Target is my favorite and are recyclable when they reach end-of-life)
  42. Take and Toss Cups/Bowls: Similar to this set, our set of take and toss sippy cups, snack cups, and bowls have tight fitting lids to prevent spills but aren’t so precious that we are concerned about misplacing them while traveling (or tossing them if they get too gross)
  43. Plastic food storage containers: These are mostly used for storing leftovers but have come in handy for car snacks or drive-through lunches on road trips
  44. (Not pictured) Cooking tongs, a frying pan, and dish scrub brush: Tongs are one of the most versatile kitchen utensils out there (and great for pretending to be a lobster!). An oven-safe frying pan can be use for cooking almost everything save the largest roasts and meals (even boiling water for pasta). The scrub brush makes washing really baked on messes much quicker.

That’s it! The contents of the box have changed over time and I’m ready to make some changes again (no more baby proofing necessary! I want a colander!). We don’t use every item on every trip but its so useful to have fully packed crate (like this) ready to go at a moment’s notice. Do you have a travel-ready box? Are there items you bring with you every time you travel?

New year, who dis?

Hello, it’s been a while! Like more than a full year without any meaningful updates. Turns out a lot happened in 2019!

Team Richards circa fall 2019

Brian hosted 3 digital conferences that went very well and gave him some things to learn and improve upon. We’re gearing up for an even busier 2020 for WPSessions. He was also able to take some time away from work and start on a massive (mostly) DIY renovation in our basement that will ultimately give us 2 more bedrooms (Brian’s office and Ben’s bedroom), another bathroom, finished pantry and laundry spaces, and an additional common room (Ben calls it his video game room). We are all looking forward to enjoying those spaces! You can follow along with that process on Instagram.

I started working part-time as a community coordinator at Pantheon in late May. This took a lot of adjusting as a family (especially the times I’m traveling) but it has been 100% worth it. I’m a better mom when I’m not home with the kids all the time and have thoroughly enjoyed polishing up skills I haven’t used in a while (and learning loads of new ones as well). In more personal news, I set out in January 2019 to lose the weight my body insisted on keeping around since Link was born. I lost 25 lbs over 5 months and have (mostly) stayed at my goal size since June. I lost 2 pants sizes and feel much better in my own skin.

Always reading

Ben is 7 now and in first grade. He’s a fantastic reader and excels at most things in school. We’re working on listening and obeying directions the first time he’s instructed. He is very creative and loves crafting and making all sorts of projects. He reads chapter books in a single sitting but still enjoys snuggling up at bedtime to have one of his parents read to him. He is an incredible helper around the house and is always up for reading to Lincoln.

Teddy on his bike with a mask is exactly what 2019 was like for him

Teddy is 5 and in his second year of preschool. He has figured out his letters and letter sounds and is very close to beginning to read. He is still into super heroes and cannot decide if Batman or Spider-Man is his favorite so our house is filled with clothes, toys and books featuring both. Teddy has an extraordinary attention span and can contentedly play with sets of toys for longer than any kid I know. He is very much the middle brother and likes to poke at Ben until he gets an explosive reaction. We are working on using kind words and actions in ALL circumstances. Teddy is a character but which character he is varies from hour to hour.

Link has an incredible sense of humor for a toddler

Lincoln is 19 months old and has probably seen the most change in the last year. Not surprising given his stage in life! Link spends his time at home with me or, when I’m working, our in-home nanny. He had the hardest transition when I went back to work because he has always been my special boy and there is no substitute for his mama. He took a while to start talking but new words have been popping up all over the place this past month. My favorite is “CA-doo” for avocado. Lincoln signs often and picks up new ones quickly. His receptive language skills are off the charts and often gets frustrated when he cannot communicate a response to something we’ve said. Lincoln LOVES to read and will take any opportunity to sit with a bigger person to read one of his favorites. He’s incredibly social and says hi to everyone he sees. A request for a fist-bump or high-five sends him in an endless loop of bumps and fives to all in the room.

No promises that I’ll share a ton this year but perhaps you can plan on more than one post in 2020!

Peace out!

Nanny Needed!

School starts FAR too soon and when it does, we lose the summer nanny we’ve grown to love. That also leaves us in a place where we’re looking for part-time child care in our home for 3 boys (1 year, preschool, and 1st grade). 

Both of us adults work from home and our work hours are flexible; I can work around when I know my kids are taken care of. Most of the time it’ll be just the two younger boys. I aim to have childcare coverage between 20 and 25 hours each week, which seems like a good fit for my employer and myself. Even if you can’t fill a full 20-25 hours, I’d still like to hear from you!

This would be a great position for a college student with a few large blocks of time out of classes or a homeschooled/alternative schedule high school student or retired adult who wants to spend time with kids.  If you are interest or have a suggestion of someone who might be, please let me know!

Baby Stuff!

After three babies, 7+ years of parenting, and lots of trial and error, I’ve come up with my list of recommended baby products that I’d want to have on hand should a baby show up at my doorstep. Feel free to leave questions in the comments!
  • Miracle blanket: These are totally worth the $30 price tag if you have a baby that Houdinis his or her way out of any other swaddle. However, it’s possible to find them at a consignment store, with diligence and patience
  • Crib and mattress: Of course think of aesthetics but also of durability, storage possibilities, and reuse
  • 2 waterproof mattress pads: I love this particular brand because they’re very breathable (no sweaty babies!), don’t make a crinkly plastic noise, and wash up beautifully.
  • 2+ sheets: My favorite have been jersey knit because they’re so soft and easy to get on the mattress.
  • Muslin swaddles: When my first child was born, the only brand out there was Aden and Anais, but now there are many brands with many prints. I’ve used these as a nursing cover, car seat cover, thin blanket for toddlers on vacation, sun shade, makeshift baby sling, and superhero cape, to name a few
  • Wubbanub/Dr Browns lovey pacifier: Yes, these are cute but they’re also incredibly useful. The extra weight of the stuffie prevents the pacifier from rolling away into a distant corner of the crib during the night.
  • Pack n play: These can range from simple to elaborate. If you’re going to use it in your bedroom for a while after the baby is born, perhaps you want one with a bassinet or changing station. We preferred something smaller than the pack n play and went with a simple one with no regrets (we’ve been using the same one for 3 babies over 7+ years)
  • Graco quilted pack n play sheet: The only pack n play sheet worth having! It adds a little padding to an otherwise stiff mattress and has real elastic around the edges for a tight fit. If you’re likely to travel often or for long periods of time, I recommend having 2.
  • Portable bassinet: If you have large pets or older children running around the house, I cannot recommend having a small bassinet to move around the house enough. If I were to buy one today, I’d stalk Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for a Halo bassinet.
  • Sleep sacks (wearable blankets) in multiple sizes: I’ve purchased (and liked) Yoga Sprout muslin wearable blankets for warmer weather and fleece Halo sleepsacks for winter. My babies have always slept better with multiple layers and I’m happy to do anything to get more sleep!
  • White noise machine: You get a white noise machine! You get a white noise machine! A white noise machine in every bedroom! The Marpac Dohm UNO white noise machine doesn’t loop and provides a constant, steady whirring sound.
  • Video Baby monitor: We received the Infant Optics DXR-8 video monitor as a gift when our second son was a baby. Even with a small house, having a video monitor was especially useful for the toddler years. I don’t use one this one on a daily basis anymore but will not travel to a vacation rental house without it! I’ve heard really good things about V-tech video monitors as well.
  • Pump (go through your insurance, most pay for at least 50%)
  • Bottles: No matter what your breastfeeding plans are, it is a very good idea to have a few different bottles on hand. Babies tend to have opinions about bottles so having 1 or 2 of several different brands is a smart way to start out before buying an entire set. Amazon and Target often offer a gift for the registrant once you’ve added a certain number of items to a baby registry and will often include bottles in those packages.
  • Lansinoh milk freezer bags: They lay completely flat in the freezer and take up much less space!
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter: Lanolin was so sticky and hurt to apply. This butter was a lifesaver!
  • Breast pads (disposable or reusable): There was never a point while I breastfed my babies where I didn’t leak milk before or during a feeding. I needed more absorbancy than what reusable pads could give me and settled on Philips Avent breast pads because they were easiest to open one-handed (a necessity)
  • Nursing bras (both for day and sleep): I loved the Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime seamless and Kindred Bravely Marvella Luxe for day and their organic cotton sleep bra for night
  • Nursing tanks: I loved the support and smoothing action of the Bravado Basics slimming cami from Target. They were great immediately postpartum through weaning.
  • Formula (always good to have on hand, regardless of your breastfeeding plans): Enfamil and Similac both have rewards programs that will send you coupons and samples
  • Nursing pillow (perhaps? I never liked mine. I preferred a firm bed pillow)
  • Burp cloths (plain white cloth diapers, 2 dozen)
  • Boon Grass drying rack with stem/twig/poke: We’re beyond the bottle/pumping stage and still use this daily. My parents bought one after seeing ours and use it for water bottles and small parts
  • Silicone banana toothbrush: This teether reaches spots on the gums that most other toys cannot
  • Silicone teethers: Flexible and chewy
  • Oball toys: From the basic ball to push cars, this line of toys is great for tiny fingers to hold onto. They’ve been a hit with all of our boys.
  • Bright Starts Lots of Links: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! They connect toys together, hang toys from the car seat handle, lock cupboard doors (at home and on vacation), are perfect first bath toys, and more.
  • Board books: We are frequent library visitors and I’m a huge advocate of making books available for children at their level from the moment they’re big enough to turn a page. I wrote about some of our favorite board books in this post.
  • Mirror: Our first baby was 5 weeks old when he started chattering to the picture of a baby on the side of a diaper package. I knew then that we needed a mirror! We kept this mirror through all of our boys’ babyhood and it made tummy time much more pleasant.
  • Play Gym: There are many different kinds of play gyms but my recommendation is one where the baby has room to roll from side to side and can be tempted by a manner of hanging toys. Of all the larger pieces of baby gear, this is one you may need earliest. Most babies are interested in talking to their reflection by one month old.
  • Some sort of containment unit (jumper, walker): Our house is many things but big is not one of them. I preferred to have only 1 larger baby item out at once. We cycled through a Jumperoo (so, so much love for the free-standing jumper), swing, and walker on wheels as baby developed.
  • Hanging toys
  • Infant car seat (Graco and Chicco are most popular)
  • A stroller (that lays all the way flat for young babies and naps on the go): I fell in love with a rented City Mini Double on a trip to Disney World and have since found the double and a City Mini Single, both gently used, at a deep discount. They fold with one hand and, speaking from experience, are great for air travel.
  • Some sort of baby wearing device: I like a wrap (Baby K’tan over the Moby- Moby was too much thick, heavy fabric) for small infants and a soft structured carrier like the Ergo 360 for bigger babies and toddlers. If you’re serious about babywearing, search Facebook for your local Babywearing International chapter for support and resources (like a lending library!).
  • Rear and forward facing convertible seat (usually go up to 50+ lbs): I preferred the ease of an infant bucket seat for my small ones through their first winter and/or when they could sit unassisted in a shopping cart. We’ve used a Britax Marathon through all 3 of our boys’ toddler hoods and it is still our favorite car seat.
  • Car mirror: Pick one with a swivel base for better adjustability
  • Extra infant seat base for a second car
  • Quilted cover for cold weather: These have such a short lifespan for a child that they’re very easy to find second-hand so if you’re faced with buying one on your own, check your local children’s consignment stores.
  • Nail clippers: The tiny cutting edge and larger plastic handle makes cutting itty bitty nails as easy as it can be
  • Gripe water: Helps gassy babies pass those bubbles. I used Mommy’s Bliss brand due to its short and simple list of ingredients
  • Gas drops: Affectionately referred to in our house as “Baby Beano,” simethicone drops are a lifesaver for a gassy, uncomfortable baby. Target’s house brand is inexpensive yet effective
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Baby ibuprofen
  • Diaper rash ointment: Depending on your choice of diapers, you may want to go with a natural, petroleum-free ointment or something with zinc oxide for stronger and more stubborn rashes.
  • Nose Frida and extra filters: Yes, it sounds gross but is wildly effective and one of the most common “most-have” baby items
  • Cool mist umidifier
  • Boogie wipes: Gentle on the nose that is getting wiped 1000x daily
  • Baby wash
  • Lotion (unscented): In case of fragrance sensitivities, start with unscented products
  • Kneeling Pad: We resisted for so long before buying this kneeling pad while our third son was a baby. No regrets.
  • Bath toys (can easily wait on these for their 1st birthdays)
  • Fragrance free wipes (I like Huggies, they’re thicker)
  • Newborn to size 3 diapers (Pampers Swaddlers for little sizes, Huggies Movers/Kirkland Signature for really chunky babies and older babies but your mileage may vary based on the size and shape of your child)
  • Changing pad and 2 covers or the Keekaroo peanut changer if you happen across one second-hand
  • Trash can/diaper genie: Beware of any trash can with plastic internal bits. They will eventually absorb the odor of diaper trash and there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it.
  • If you’re thinking about cloth diapering, I have a separate post of recommendations!
When you go on your initial hospital tour, find out what your hospital does and doesn’t provide. I didn’t have to bring much to the hospital with me but I know some places have very few resources for new moms.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom balm: I have never tried anything from this brand that I disliked
  • Tucks wipes: If these are necessary, you can ask for them at the hospital
  • Dermoplast spray (Blue top! Can get at the hospital)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Robe and comfy sweatpants
  • Pads
  • Epsom salt
  • Rice bag/heating pad
  • Plain onesies (short and long sleeved in many sizes)
  • Footed sleepers in light weight fabric and fleece
  • Infant mitten
  • Socks of all sizes
  • Towels and washcloths
Toddler Feeding
Large Items (easy and way cheaper to buy these second hand)
  • Diaper bag (one with stroller straps or a XL carabiner to attach to stroller)
  • Comfy nursing chair + table + dimable lamp

Back to the Future

Oh, hey.

It’s been a while.

This happened.

This meaning the birth of our third boy, Lincoln Charles, back at the end of May. We’re all in love and he seems pretty smitten too.

This also happened.

Ben is now 6 and a total big kid. His birthday post is currently drafted so expect that to come soon or at least before his 18th birthday.

And then there was this.

Teddy is 4 and started preschool in the fall. There are two whole mornings each week that it’s just me and the baby. It’s weird but 100% ok. I also have a birthday post for him and have another 14 years before he turns 18. It might get posted soon.

So here’s to the end of 2018! I hope to blog more in 2019 but I’ve said that before. If you want to keep up with our circus, I’m way more active on Instagram.

Cloth Diaper Recommendations

Dirty Diaper Storage

Diaper Pail: IKEA Knodd (it has a tight fitting lid that has held up through 2 kids and 5 years of diapering)
Pail Liner: Planet Wise liner (We rotate through 2 of these and haven’t noticed any waterproofing failure over hundreds of washes)


I started building my cloth stash knowing I ultimately wanted to use BumGenius 4.0 (since updated to 5.0!) because they were about as simple as cloth diapers can be. My husband had never changed any diaper before our first son was born and we felt we didn’t need to add more complication to our lives. I still feel strongly that we made the right choice!
However, I knew there would be a period of time between newborn stage and when our babies reached the BumGenius weight limit that I would have to find an alternative. Enter Green Mountain Prefolds and waterproof covers. If I were to start off my stash on a shoestring budget today, I’d definitely go with all prefolds and covers. Two dozen newborn size prefolds and 2 dozen small prefolds kept us fully supplied until the boys were around 9 lbs.
We tried many different kinds of diaper covers (wool, fleece, PUL) but liked the PUL best, particularly the kinds with extra leg gussets for my skinny legged boys. Thirsties Duo Wraps with snaps were my top favorites (I’ll likely have to buy more for Baby 3) but Bummis Super Whisper Wraps were a close second. The Bummis covers don’t have the leg gussets so we had a few more problems with explosive leaks. For older babies, we liked (and still use) Flip covers, made by the same folks as BumGenius diapers.

Washing Cloth Diapers
Every washing machine is different but essentially you’ll want a cold soak, a hot wash, hang dry anything made of PUL, and dry everything else on high to kill off bacteria. I wrote more about our specific washing routine in this old post.

A few helpful additions:
Charlies Soap: An additive-free detergent that rinses clean and doesn’t leave build up in diapers or clothes. Since starting to use Charlie’s 5+ years ago, we’ve since switched to washing all of our clothes in it. I bought a large 5 gallon pail in 2013 and am just starting to scrape the bottom in 2017, in spite of washing diapers, clothes for 4, and household items in it.

Diaper Sprayer: Breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble so this wasn’t something I needed to bother with for the first 6 months but you might need it! Any solids should be removed from the diaper before putting it in the pail for washing and the easiest, mess-free way to do that is investing in a diaper sprayer that connects to the water line of the toilet. It’s super simple to spray off solids, flush, and put that diaper back in the pail.

Biokleen Bac-Out: If you find that your diapers are a little funky smelling and don’t smell clean after washing, try spraying them with Biokleen. The enzymes in the spray start breaking down the odor causing bacteria while the diapers are in the pail and gives you a fresher smell after the wash (and prevents build up that can cause diapers to repel liquids)

Diapering Accessories
Bummis Fleece Liners: Cotton cloth diapers don’t do a great job of keeping moisture away from sensitive newborn skin and my babies kept getting rashes. Those rashes stopped once I started using a fleece liner. To be fair, these are literally rectangles of microfleece and anyone with scissors and some cutting skills could make their own for much less money

GroVia Magic Stick: An excellent everyday diaper rash stick (that you don’t have to get your hands gooped up to use!)

Earth Mama Angel Baby Diaper Balm: Definitely a more intense ointment but still cloth-safe

A wet bag for dirty diapers on the go: I started off with a smaller wet bag but quickly decided that a bag that could only fit 2 diapers tightly rolled wasn’t very helpful. I fell in love with the wet bags from Alva Baby; they’re roomy enough for many diapers and include a second pocket for dry clothes or spare diapers. As a bonus, they work GREAT for spare clothes during potty training as well (I bought a second bag for our preschooler’s backpack when he started 3s preschool).

Happy 5th Birthday, Ben!

What is your name?

How old are you?
4 and a half, ssss five!

What is your favorite color?
Every color

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A grown up

What is your favorite food?
Watermelon or chips and cheese and beans

Who do you like to play with?

What is your favorite book?
It Looked Like Spilt Milk 

What is your favorite animal?
Kitties! And puppies!

What is your favorite song?
Friends are Family

What makes you laugh?
When people tickle me

What do you like to do with your family?
Play Lego with everybody

What does Daddy do for work?
I don’t know

What does Mommy do for work?
Post Status 

What is your favorite movie?
Brainiac Batman

What is your favorite show?
Miraculous Ladybug

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Where do you like to go on vacation?
Disney World

Happy birthday to my favorite biggest boy!

2017 Goals

Like many people, I enjoy spending some time at the beginning of the year drafting goals for the next 12 months. 2016 was a great year in some aspects (Ben potty trained and started school! We road tripped to Disney and Colorado!) but there were some hard bits as well, like Teddy spending time in the hospital with viral-induced asthma. There’s no doubt that there will be similar ups and downs in the coming year but perhaps having lived through 2016, we’ll be better prepared to deal with them. Looking back on my personal and our family life over the last year, I’ve come up with 3 goals to help focus my energy in 2017.

Less Waste

I’ve grown frustrated by how many resources I waste due to carelessness or laziness. I buy but don’t cook food because it didn’t feel convenient and it needs to get thrown out. I sit on my phone or computer instead of making use of the very little productive time I have and the house and family suffer for it. My goal is to waste less by planning more. If I plan our meals better, less food goes to waste. If I set daily goals, I don’t waste time trying to figure out what I should be doing with my free time instead of just doing it. This is a pretty far-reaching goal since the “less waste” mentality spreads into so many aspects of my life (waste less space in the house by purging things we don’t use, use up the craft supplies we have on hand instead of buying new, etc). I’m hoping there will be some positive financial side effects from this goal as well.

Grow My Business

I started working as a virtual assistant (VA) for Brian Krogsgard at Post Status in 2015. I’ve always had the capacity to work more hours but haven’t made an attempt to promote my VA skills and expand my client base. That stops this year. My goal is to increase my client load by 2 and max out my available work hours. As a subsection of this goal, I bought a domain and started creating a site by myself to promote my work. Marketing myself is a huge stretch; I didn’t know it would be so challenging! I foresee lots of learning in this area over the next year.

Complete One Large House Project

We bought and moved into my grandparent’s house in the summer of 2012, a few months before Teddy was born (I don’t recommend moving during the third trimester). We painted, cleaned, and did minor renovations very quickly so we could get settled with our then 22 month old before the new baby arrived. Since that summer, we have done very little to improve the house. It’s in great shape but, as expected since it was owned by people two generations older than we are, there are lots of aesthetic changes we’d like to make to make it fit our family better. I think this means we’ll finally be replacing the flooring in the kitchen, dining room, and bedroom hall to something more kid friendly (we currently have cream colored carpet in the dining room!).

Do you set goals or make big plans at the beginning of the year? What are your goals?

Baby Gear Recommendations

After two babies of my own, it turns out that I’ve become opinionated about the acquisition and use of baby gear. Our family is of the philosophy that “enough is as good as a feast” and while we love our children, we do not want to live inside a primary colored, cluttered home with no space to enjoy the home as an adult. I’m also super Dutch (literally and figuratively) and abhor spending more money than necessary. I’ve come up with this basic list of (mostly) essential baby and toddler items that we trust to work well with a few extras thrown in to answer the question, “What do I need for this baby?” Realistically though, a baby needs food, shelter, diapers, and attention, and most baby stuff is extra but the right tool certainly does make a job easier! Clearly, I didn’t include clothes on the list because what you need varies so much due to seasons and climate. Start with one piece sleepers and white onesies and you’ll be set for newborn stage.


  • Miracle Blanket (I thought these were overpriced until my first child peed through his at 3 days old. I ordered a second immediately)
  • Aden + Anais swaddle blankets
  • Crib with properly fitting firm mattress
  • 2 waterproof crib mattress pads
  • 2 crib sheets




  • Breast pump (most insurance providers give a steep discount or provide a pump gratis. Check with your medical insurance provider before making a purchase!)
  • Milk storage bags (Lansinoh bags freeze flat!)
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter (lanolin-free for those that need it)
  • Boon Grass
  • Boon Twig
  • Formula dispenser
  • Bottles with different flow nipples
  • Sippy cups (different babies like different cups and bottles so my best recommendation is to have a few different styles around and fully buy into a system when you know what works for your child)
  • Infant soft spoons
  • Toddler silverware (1 pack of spoons, 1 pack of forks)
  • Munchkin snack catchers
  • Toddler dishes
  • Pacifiers (another item that can be child specific. We’ve had good luck with Soothie pacifiers but our boys hated Nuk, MAM, etc)
  • Pacifier strap
  • Pacifier holder (I swear, having one of these makes a pacifier so much easier to find in the dead of night)
  • Bibs

Health and safety

  • NoseFrida and extra filters (sounds gross, is amazing and a game changer when your baby is sick)
  • Saline nose drops
  • Temporal thermometer
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby Orajel
  • Baby dye-free Tylenol
  • Head-to-toe baby wash
  • Baby monitor (this one is the bee’s knees!)
  • Basic bath toys
  • Bath pillow
  • White Noise Machine (ok, this isn’t really health related but good sleep leads to better mental health!)