Preschool Pet Rock Craft

Posted by Carly Morgan

Pet Rock Craft

Pet rocks = easiest pets ever.

Pet rock craft = easiest preschool craft that results in a pet…ever.

Start with a Sharpie, a hole punch, and a stack of wedding favor boxes.

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Build the boxes, punch a few air holes in the top, and write “Pet Rock” on the front with the Sharpie.

Fill with some kind of paper fluffy stuff for bedding.

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Decorate the box with markers and stickers.

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Make your pet. Pick a rock…

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…use a glue stick to stick some googly eyes on…

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…and stick that guy in bed until his eyes dry. Voila! Pet rock. You’re welcome.

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Postpartum Fitness Tips

Posted by Kate Ardohain

Postpartum Fitness Kate

Let’s be real, after I gave birth in December, the last thing I wanted to do was get out and go for a nice, long jog. Truth be told, I was worried that I would not be able to get out and even walk for a while because I was in so much pain with the normal after birth downstairs issues (see my Things Women Rarely Talk About Postpartum post) and also because I was dealing (unknowingly at the time) with a prolapsed bladder and prolapsed rectal muscles.

Honestly, this was disappointing to me because I was getting a little stir crazy and would have loved to just get outside for a nice walk in the fresh air, but that wasn’t happening. It took about 2 weeks for me to get up and feel good enough to go for a walk around the block with Chris, the baby and the dog and it was slowwww going. As in it took me about 25 minutes to go around the block slow. Chris was extremely patient with me and was also patient with the fact that I’m sure he wanted to tell me that it may be too early to get out and get moving again when I was so sore.

DO WHAT YOU CAN WHEN YOU CAN AND LET IT BE ENOUGH

It’s different for every woman and I’m the first to say that whatever works for you, go for it. If you feel like you need more time before you can get up and go for a short walk, then, by all means, wait until your body tells you it’s good to go. That being said, it was important for me to start walking as soon as I was able so I didn’t fall into the rut of “let me spend another week finishing all the bad food in my house and sitting around because I don’t have to be anywhere.” I’m the kind of person that needs routine and can easily fall into the trap of “well, I already ate a donut this morning, so today’s diet has gone out the window and I need to have a burger and fries for lunch and a pizza for dinner to round it out and then start fresh tomorrow.”

I knew that I had to start slowly and for me, that meant just walking. At first it was around the block, then it was around the block twice, then twice a day. It was what I could do that day and I told myself that was enough for me.

Quick side story: when I first started running, I would put music on and tell myself I would run for the length of one song. Then two songs, then three. I would never go for pace or distance, just for the length of a song. It really helped me build my endurance up and help me wrap my mind around running because I always knew there was an end in sight and if I could just make it the next 1 minute and 32 seconds, I could walk. This is the advice I give to everyone when I’m asked about general running, but especially distance running.

It was great to be able to put Steven in the stroller and take the dog out and just take my time and enjoy nature and being out of the house for 5 minutes. It felt like some “me time” even though it was with the baby and the dog. It was also great for me that Steven was super comfortable in the car seat and stroller and fell asleep about one minute into the walk (and has continued to do so since that first week). A quote I saw on InstaGram one day really changed the way I thought about my fitness journey:

Let it be enough

It sounds so simple, but so many people (me included) tend to beat themselves up over missing a workout or cheating on their diet. As for me, I start to get obsessive about most things in my life when I’m trying to make a positive change and repeating the “let it be enough” mantra to myself on days when I am just wiped out and can only get in a quick 5 minute walk or when I pick an apple over a brownie, but end up eating the brownie at 2 a.m. when Steven is up to nurse… just “let it be enough.” Let the choice to made in that moment be enough for the day. Small changes lead to big changes and that choice to go on a five minute walk instead of sitting on the couch watching another YouTube video is a step (no pun intended) in the right direction.

LOOK FOR ENCOURAGEMENT AND HELP

There are mommy/daddy groups and work out groups all over the world. I live in a military community and found a group called the “Stroller Warriors” that do twice weekly walk/runs with other moms and dads in the community. It’s really nice to be out with other parents who are just working on themselves and happen to have their kids with them while doing it. In fact, the first workout I did with them was the day before I gave birth! Not only has it been nice for me as far as accountability and getting back into jogging in a new way (aka – the added dynamic of the baby and stroller) but it has helped me become more social with other parents and talk about things I’m dealing with as a new parent. There are so many options out there for whatever you’re into whether it’s walking, running, swimming, or even mom and baby yoga (believe me, this 7 pound little boy gives my arms a workout on a daily basis).

FIND OTHER WAYS TO FIT IN FITNESS

There are hundreds of fitness apps out there, but for me, FitSpark is my favorite for a busy mommy. It was made by Tammy Uyeda, a Physiotherapist, Certified Group Ftiness Instructor, and mom of three. The app is great for me because you can select the amount of time you want to do your HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout from as little as 7 minutes up to 20 minutes. Depending on how long or how soundly Steven has been napping, I can select a length of time to workout. Sometimes, I just continue to do 7 minute workouts until he wakes up! Before I know it I’m almost up to a half an hour of exercise.

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The workouts consist of short bursts of exercises that last for 30 seconds to a minute long then have a break in between. After selecting the time length you want, the app shows you a preview of the workout with all the exercises, how many rounds of exercises, and the interval between exercise and rest. You can click play on any exercise in the set and it shows you exactly how to do it. If you don’t like that set of exercises, you can select “change workout” and get a whole new workout. Tammy is also on InstaGram and she posts weekly with new exercises that require little to no equipment (the most “equipment” I’ve used is a chair from my kitchen or my coffee table: stuff that I already have, not things like hand weights or resistance bands that some people don’t own). Tammy is not only great at fitness but is super kind and interactive with her followers on IG and routinely responds to comments and tagged posts despite the fact that she has over 15,000 followers, is an entrepreneur, and busy mom of three!

BOREDOM EATING AND FINDING ALTERNATIVES

Lastly, on the food front, I am the kind of person who would rather eat what she wants and exercise it off than eat kale and carrots for every meal and not have to go for a walk. At the same time, I am realistic, and know that not everyone feels that way, so each their own! For me, I just try to make healthy choices when I can. Sometimes, cookies are it and I try to just limit myself to not each the whole package. I have been known to throw half a package of Oreos away after dousing them in Windex because I ate the other half and couldn’t stop myself and even throwing them in the garbage wouldn’t be enough because they are packaged and really didn’t touch any of the gross garbage that’s in there and I could just open them back up and continue to eat them so I force myself to cover them in poison and even then I consider it, but tell myself I shouldn’t because I’m breastfeeding and it’s just not responsible for me to ingest ammonia…

This goes back to the old mantra let it be enough. Just make the best choices you can for that moment and move on. Beating yourself up about eating a cookie doesn’t make the incident disappear, but you can make a better choice next time.

One thing that has helped me with mindless eating (I tend to eat most when I’m bored) is coming up with a list of things I can do when feel the urge to just snack on everything in the pantry. My list is: brush and floss my teeth, (ice cream after toothpaste? Gross) write a handwritten card or letter to a friend, (how fun is real mail amongst all the bills?) go for a walk, do a quick workout, (thanks 7 minute FitSpark!) start a load of laundry, drink a cup of tea, or play with the baby for a while. It helps that moment pass and usually when I’m done, the craving is gone or I’ve had enough time to think more about if I really want it. The last thing that works for me is having a snack size bag of cheerios. A full cup of multi-gran Cheerios (which are delicious and taste like Lucky Charms, sans marshmallows) is only 110 calories and they are so tiny that I’m kept busy for like 20 minutes eating them while tending to the baby!

Lastly, just don’t beat yourself up about fitness or getting back to your “pre-baby” body immediately after you leave the hospital. You just grew a human and gave birth to it! Give yourself a break, do what you can, and let it be enough.

The One Where the Two Year Old Put a Bean Up His Nose

Posted by Carly Morgan

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So, another ER visit for the Morgan family. Woo hoo!

This isn’t even one of those helpful blog posts where I tell you all sorts of special medical stuff because EVERYONE knows not to let your toddler put beans up his/her nose. I did not win at parenting yesterday. So consider this something like a photo essay on the joy of paying a huge co-pay for a bean. A bean!!!!!

This all happened because we used to have a rice and pinto bean mix that the kids had in a sensory table. It was a huge hit and they loved it…

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…but then Calvin developed a habit of putting things up his nose and we had to toss all of the beans out. We also had to remove erasers, puff balls, small foam stickers, buttons, Barbie accessories, etc.

He finally broke the habit and we’ve been letting him use the occasional nostril-sized object. Or, we thought he’d broken the habit. Blah.

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Kyle noticed that Calvin kept saying his face hurt but he wouldn’t tell us why and then I looked into his nose and saw a something that was not supposed to be there. So Kyle held him down and we used an aspirator and saline solution and a pair of tweezers, but eventually we got to the point where (A) the screaming had us worried someone would call the cops and (B) I didn’t actually know if I was pulling it out or pushing it farther in.

So, I took him to the ER. It was almost an Insta-Care situation but I was afraid he was going to choke…I don’t know. I hate making that call and I feel like I have to make it all the freaking time. WHY ARE WE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM SO OFTEN, UNIVERSE? NOT FUNNY.

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We waited for a couple of hours, which is sort of a bummer but always serves as a reminder that we are the healthiest/luckiest people in the ER if we aren’t making the top of anyone’s to-do list. Finally, the nurse and the doctor came in.

Side note: Calvin is a surprisingly agreeable kid despite being the most mischievous person I’ve ever met. He has his two-year-old moments but on the whole he doesn’t freak out about strangers and he’s generally pretty polite. So I wasn’t surprised when he cheerfully allowed them to swaddle him until he was immobile. They were surprised though and told each other this was going to be easy because he was being so cooperative.

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Not so much.

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There was kicking and head whipping and eventually I had to help the nurse hold him down so the doctor could get a Foley catheter up and inflate it to pull the bean out. It was a pinto bean, leftover from our sensory table days, and I did get a mini-lecture from the doctor about how that’s not an appropriate plaything for a two year old which I KNOW but couldn’t really be defensive about because…yeah…not winning.

The amazing thing is that we put the rice and beans table away a year ago and somehow that bean survived the clean up and all subsequent clean ups and Calvin was the one that found it and he must have immediately shoved it up his nose. That’s a Christmas miracle right there.

It’s been tossed and we are again a bean-free house, but Eva made a sign for their room just in case:

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If you can’t read Eva-ese, it says “Don’t put ‘eans in your nose” and that’s a picture of sad Calvin with a knife hovering in front of him because she thought they were going to cut his nose to get the bean out.

As for the bean, Calvin was too terrified of it when it finally came out to let me take a photo. To be fair, apparently it went in dry but grew as it got soggier (ew ew ew) and it was actually stretching his little nose to the limit so it was probably pretty painful. To give you the visual, I snuck in while he was sleeping:

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Ew, right? So don’t let your kid put beans up his nose. And now you know.

Corned Beef Hash with Kale and Mushrooms

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HowDoYouHash #CollectiveBias

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I love corned beef hash. Love love love it. It’s been my favorite breakfast food for as long as I can remember. We only had it every now and then (birthdays, etc.) so it was a huge treat to wake up to that yummy aroma. One of my favorite memories of my grandpa is getting up early when we were visiting my grandparents and finding him reading the paper at the table. He’d pull out a can of hash and cook it up just for me, a treat that was made even better by the fact that (A) I was out of bed so early and (B) I wasn’t even going to get in trouble for it. Hash with my grandpa is one of my strongest memories from being a kid.

Now that I’m a mom, we still have hash as a special weekend breakfast treat, but I’ve mixed it up a bit to add some variety. One of my favorite ways to have hash now is to add some fresh veggies and make it even heartier. There isn’t much you can add to hash that won’t taste more amazing because you added it to hash, but kale and mushrooms are my personal favorites: complimentary but they still hold their own. Plus, you know, vitamins and fiber and all that.

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This breakfast dish looks a little fancy but it’s very simple. First you fry up a can of HORMEL® MARY KITCHEN®  corned beef hash and when it’s just about all crisped up, you add a carton of sliced mushrooms. Typically when I’m making mushrooms I add a little seasoning, but in this case the mushrooms grab all of that amazing corned beef flavor from the hash so you don’t need to do anything but flip them occasionally until they get cooked through and golden brown around the edges.

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This next step comes down to personal choice. You can toss your washed and torn kale leaves right on top of the hash and mushrooms and it will cook up just fine OR you can do what I do and fry up the kale in a separate pan using a little olive oil and a dash of garlic powder until the kale is cooked through and just a little bit crispy. The crispiness is something I love about kale (reminds me of kale chips fresh from the oven) but I’m sure I’m probably cooking some essential vegetable-ness out by doing it this way so your call. If you do cook the kale separately, just fold it in to your mushroom hash mixture when you’re done. Is that not the prettiest ski-lodge-brunch-esque little skillet?

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The real way to enjoy this is with eggs. Everyone has their personal preference, but I like a nice soft poached egg on top – no salt or pepper or anything. It ends up being like a cream sauce for the skillet.

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Oh, and if you really want to rock your world, add a dash of buffalo hot sauce. It’s just…it’s the best thing ever.

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You can find HORMEL® MARY KITCHEN® corned beef hash (and other varieties) in your grocery store with the canned meat products. Be sure to pay attention to the labels – roast beef hash is good but it has a completely different flavor profile than corned beef hash! The two are not interchangeable!

Also, be sure to visit http://hormel.com/coupons to get your coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of any two (2) HORMEL® MARY KITCHEN® hash products. The coupon is good from today until March 17th, so don’t wait! (Oh, and this is an awesome breakfast or brunch recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. Just sayin’…)

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Salt Lake City Smog and Our Escape to Boulder, CO

Posted by Carly Morgan

Salt Lake City is at an air disadvantage. Since the city is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, we have a weird phenomenon called inversion which creates disgusting clouds of smog at different times of the year. The only way to clear it out is a good rain or snow storm, but since we’re located in a desert we occasionally go a week or so with the poison in the air just building up and building up.

For the Morgans, that means that eventually we’re breaking out the masks and staying inside all day:

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This past week was so bad that our air quality turned red for days on end and the hospitals filled up with people who were getting sick from the air. As the mom of an asthmatic, I was particularly worried (although, to be fair, I wasn’t keen on the fact that any of us were breathing that crud) so we finally packed up and left the city on Friday.

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We are incredibly lucky to be able to do this. We have flexible jobs, a great car, and friends in other states who don’t mind when we give them less than 24 hours notice that they’re going to be having some house guests. It makes me so frustrated to think about all of the families who were just stuck in the bad air praying for rain and the parents who took their kids to the hospital for oxygen treatments because our air doesn’t have enough air. Salt Lake can’t keep ignoring this problem.

As for us, our trip raised some questions. We like living in Salt Lake, but being forced out of the city by smog isn’t something we’re looking forward to as the air keeps getting worse. It’s scary to think we might be uprooting and moving on, but…you know…air. We need air.

In the meantime, here are some photos of our spontaneous visit to Boulder, CO, and our long weekend with our friends Jed and Steve.

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