It’s OK to Complain

I get annoyed by people who complain. 

Why complain if you can do something about it? 

I always felt this way.

I recently looked in the mirror and looked deep into my hazel eyes, I’ve had a lot of alone time lately, and realized I am a complainer. 

And complaining can actually be healthy and will get you a free hotel upgrade. 

My family moved to central PA about six weeks ago, four of those weeks I’ve been in Pittsburgh training for my new job. In Pitt I’ve been pampered with all expenses paid and classy five-star hotel rooms. I feel like the modern day Eloise at The Plaza, except I’m in my mid-to-late twenties raising havoc in Pittsburgh. 

After the initial shock of grand entrances, city views and ten crystal chandeliers in the lobby wore off, I started to notice my actual hotel room.. which was filled with white towels dirty with someone else’s makeup, someone else’s hair in the shower and someone else’s makeup all over the bathroom counter.

Gross.  

My normal self would have been disgusted but cleaned it up and go on with my life. But through my recent learning experiences, I decided to say something. 
So I complained. And I felt bad doing it. Then the room wasn’t cleaned,  so I complained again, and no lie, I had to complain four different times before someone at this hotel actually assisted me and put me in a new room. Which just happened to be an upgrade. ?

The moral of this story isn’t to complain to get things for free, but to make your complaints matter. 
I learned if something is an actual issue it is best to let someone know ASAP so they can actually fix it for you. 

Complaining about his dirty hotel room left me feeling empowered and strong, not annoying and greedy, which is how I initially viewed compulsive complainers. 

Once I got into this mindset, I started complaining about everything. Most pominate complaint, being away from my family for so long. 

I feel so helpless and lonely in Pittsburgh. I miss my husband, I miss my family and helping with homework. I even complain about not being home to clean the house. C’mon that’s a terrible complaint. 

After complaining to someone about being away from home for the gazillionth time, I stoped myself mid-sentence. How ungrateful am I? I was given a great opportunity and handed amazing resources to succeed with a company that actually values their employees, which shows through their rigorous training schedule. 

I get to play Eloise, eat a hot meal, stare at a beautiful city’s skyline and take a hot shower without interruption, all while learning out to excel at my new career. 

There’s a place and time for complaints, big and small. 

So the next time you want to complain, take a step back. Could you shift your perspective to be grateful? Can you do something to fix what you’re complaining about? 

Social media is filled with constant complaints – everything from politics to food at a restaurant to jobs, how many of your own complaints could you alter with actions instead of a status or tweet? 

Make an impact, not just another post to scroll by. 

But if you have a dirty hotel room, go ahead and complain. That’s just gross. 

Cheers from a classy hotel in the 412 ?

Easy DIY Thanksgiving decoration!

Surprise! I am alive!

The new house, new town and new job are certainly taking a toll on my free time, or shall I say lack there of.

Now with a beautiful, huge (huge for us after living in an apartment for five years) house I realized why my mom was always stressing about cleaning… there’s never enough time in the day to clean all the dirt. The dust and dirt multiplies like rabbits in my house!

To distract from the constant dust and dirt creation, I’ve decided to try my hand at decorating the house. Emphasis on try.

After Halloween was over I realized I didn’t put a single Halloween or fall decoration up.

Between unpacking, cleaning, traveling and training for work, and more cleaning, I didn’t even pick up a single pumpkin.

That had to change for Thanksgiving, I mean what would the neighbors think? We aren’t super boring, I swear.

I scoured Pinterest for Thanksgiving decorations.. and all I found were construction paper turkeys, kids coloring pages, and strangely, a lot of mason jars filled with dried beans?

I hightly doubted my teenage and preteen stepsons would like to color cornucopias and trace their hands to put on the fridge… I was stuck between construction paper pilgrim hats and a bountiful flock of hand turkeys.

Until the Thanksgiving Tree.


This EASY and beautiful Thanksgiving DIY decoration is the perfect centerpiece for anybody this Thanksgiving!

Plus, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family!

We found the sticks while taking a walk, actually my oldest stepson ran down the road with a large tree branch as a joke and it ended up on my kitchen table.

My father-in-law sliced up some branches from his yard while we collected acorns.

Bing-bang-boom, project almost done.

The longest part was cutting and gluing chalkboard paper onto the slices.

Lastly, the best part, what we are thankful for. Everyone, including Mimi, got to write what they were thankful for.


From God to dogs, phones to sisters, the tree has not only fulfilled my need for decorations, but filled our home with so much love!


And my incredibly bad DIYing self made something that may actually be Pinterest worthy!


Don’t worry, I’ll probably do some hand turkeys too, can’t leave those bad boys out.

Cheers, gobble gobble.

Tools:

  • Mason Jar
  • Branches
  • Chalkboard Paper
  • Twine
  • Chalk
  • Something to fill the jar with to keep branches in place

Place branches in jar, write what you’re thankful for in chalk and hang chalkboard ornaments on the branches.

DONEZO

SOLD!

Well folks, we’ve got some big news coming out of the Amspacker household!

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

Not just any house, but a beautiful, big, mid-century home with a white picket fence and a big oak tree out front.

It’s pretty much our dream home.

Catch? Does there always have to be a catch? Well, yes.

This wonderful, beautiful home is located in central Pennsylvania.

Like three-and-a-half hours away from good ol’ Sayre, PA central Pennsylvania.

Now, let me start off by saying, it was never a goal or dream in my lifetime to move to another middle-of-no-where small town, or even a town with close ties to Penn State, because well, I went to Temple University and my blood runs cherry and white, not white and blue. T for Temple U.

But there are two things in this three-and-half-hour, middle-of-no-where small town with close ties to Penn State University that make this move worth it.

Their names are Gabriel and Owen, my amazing stepsons.


Now, instead of being far away from them, we will now just be a short drive away.

A short drive away from their mom’s house, a short drive away from their school, a short drive away from baseball, basketball and any other sports, or anything, they decide to do.

We can now be the crazy, overbearing, cheering-too-loud parents we’ve always wanted to be and not just there for activities on every other weekend.

After going through a brutal custody battle in the beginning of the summer, and losing. Aaron and I were left with some choices, but really only one option. If we wanted to have the best environment and family for the boys, we needed to relocate to Mifflin County.

And so the house hunt began.

Well sort of, upon seeing a few houses online, we got together with a wonderful realtor (thanks again Kim!!) and we ended up putting an offer in on the first house we saw!

After a grueling mortgage process (seriously, I’m in banking and I don’t understand why it is always so tough), we finally closed on this beauty last week!!


It’s real now.

It was hard to wrap my mind around this all happening when everything was a hypothetical. Now, it’s real. We own a home. We are painting, we are moving, we are unpacking. It is ours.

Ours.

While I may be moving from my home town, and Aaron moving away from his home for the past eight years, we are making our own home in Lewistown.

Because home is where the heart is, and our hearts are with our boys. There’s no running from us now!


So I may be a little MIA for the next few weeks while I try to wrap up the last few days at work, packing and unpacking and starting a job in t-14 days.

But don’t worry, this process has already inspired many blog posts, and ways to further embarrass my stepsons when I pick them up from the bus stop.

Cheers family. ? ? ?

The Potty Trials

So Charlie pooped on the potty! Exciting, right? Yes and no.

I never thought my daughter would be ready to start potty training before I was ready for her to. I mean, seriously, who wants to change diapers?

Now, I keep having flashbacks of the bright green, raisins and stained carpet.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s take it back to where it all began.

My daughter makes distinct noises and crouches down like she is a tiger stalking her pray in a field of tall grasses when she goes number two.

I became acutely aware of this after she added some company to one of our baths one night.

While cleaning up, I noticed some crouching tiger hidden dragon going on in the corner of my living room.

Upon this discovery, Charlie and I made our way to the bathroom to sit on her stinky skunk potty.

It was then I realized the hard part is keeping her on the potty long enough to do the deed.

So, I did what any parent would do. I bribed her. I let her play with something she knew she was never supposed to touch, my nail polish bottles.


After picking up and dropping all of the nail polishes, the thunder came down into my bathroom.

It was really the sound the got my attention. It was like a rescue airplane dropping gallons of water on a burning fire in California. The sound also scared my daughter so much she jumped up off the pot before she was actually done going and got it all over the bottoms of her pajamas and shoes.

The color, the smell, oh goodness she ate raisins today.

Between figuring out how to clean this catastrophe in the corner of my bathroom and pure shock that Charlie actually used the potty, I missed the tiger crouching down behind me on my bath mat. After cleaning out the potty and yelling congratulations to this little child, I turned just in time to catch her finish her poo all over my bathroom rug.

It was then we decided to take the second bath of the day.


And when I realized I needed more wine, a lot more wine to even consider the potty training process for at least another month.

So, whenever you think you have a bad case of the Mondays, just think, you could be cleaning multi-colored poop off the floor while chasing a pant-less toddler. Or you could borrow mine for a few hours.
Cheers. ?

Another year older, another year wiser?

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, I smell like baby poo, happy birthday to me!

Welp, one year older.. one year wiser? Maybe.

Looking back on the past year it has been heartbreaking, challenging, and absolutely incredible. Our family has become older, stronger and closer than we ever have before. My darling daughter turned one, and my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary.

So what has being 26 taught me? In a nutshell.. life goes on.

26 was filled with amazing memories of taking Charlie to Philadelphia, watching friends get married, growing with my husband and watching my amazing step-kids grow up, etc.

But it was also a difficult year. I mourned my grandmother and close friends taken too soon. I watched a custody battle breakdown two boys and my husband. Friends moved away and friendships drifted apart. Divorce drew lines in the sand.

My point? I am still here talking about the last year.

I am still here watching my daughter turn into a vivacious toddler. I am still here snuggling with my husband after a long day at work. I am still here FaceTiming with my stepchildren every chance we get.

Life doesn’t stop when bad or tough things happen. So, we can either let these challenges hinder us from succeeding, or let them fuel the fire pushing us to go better, faster, stronger into our futures.

Recently I have been studying the Bible. Obviously I was not a good Catholic girl growing up because this has been the first time I have cracked the good book open to see what God’s message says to me.

From 1 Corinthians 10:13 :

“Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward.”

I can’t lie, I am still so new with the Bible that I did google search what part of the Bible that quote was from and even how to spell it, don’t judge.. it’s a sin. 😉

But the meaning behind this quote has kept be motivated to get up every morning and put a smile on my face. God only gives us what we can handle. We all have tough times, difficult days, heartbreaking situations.. so God must think we are all so incredibly tough.

It’s true. We are given this life full of challenges and obstacles that turn into beautiful life changing events and build the character of the person we are today.

Fifty years from now when I turn 77, I am going to look back on my life and ask was I a good person? Did I make a difference in this world?

I won’t remember the stress of trying to make ends meet. Or the nauseating feeling watching people lie in a court of law. Or the sting of losing friendships.

I’ll remember the joy in my children’s eyes. The motivation behind decisions for our family, and how we chose to stay happy.

I will also have one of my great-grandkids make me a stiff margarita while riding shotgun in one of their fancy flying cars and tell them all about what the internet was.

I will remember how this was the year I finally started to believe in myself. I stopped second-guessing and underestimating myself before I even tried. I started to build confidence and fierceness, cue Beyoncé music.

So happy birthday to me, one year older and yes, one year wiser. It’s a new, fresh start.

The moral of the story here, people, is treat everyday like it’s your birthday. Wake up fresh, be nice to people, and don’t let the small stuff, or big stuff, keep you down and keep you from doing you, dawg.

First and last time I’ll say dawg as a late-twenties woman, whoops I said it again. Look at this 27-year-old tryin’ to be hip like she know somethin’

Cheers to another trip around the sun.

Why my kids watch the Olympics

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days, it’s been hard to miss the Olympics are going on. Surprise!

The 31st Olympiad kicked off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday, August 5.

I have to admit, I’ve always been a sucker for the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong, I like watching sports year round, but there’s something about cheering on the United States of America and these amazing athletes.

This is my daughters first Olympics, and let’s be real, she’s only sixteen months old (almost a year and a half for those who hate the month age thing), so she doesn’t cheer the athletes on or really sit still at all while we watch the competitions for an hour before she goes to bed.

She’s not be biting her nails when USA is only one spike away from winning it’s beach volleyball match, and she doesn’t cringe when the gymnasts don’t stick their landings, but for the first time in a long time I am showing her a program on a national news channel that is bringing the country together instead of dividing it.

The Olympic Games are competitions, obviously. But it’s also so much more. It teaches it’s athletes, spectators and the world so many valuable lessons. And for me, passing those along to my kids are the true gold medal.

The Games unite the world, while embracing all of the different cultures, religions and views.

Via FirstPost.com
2016 Rio Olympics – Beach Volleyball – Women’s Preliminary – Beach Volleyball Arena – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 07/08/2016. Doaa Elghobashy (EGY) of Egypt and Kira Walkenhorst (GER) of Germany compete. Via FirstPost.com

They also prove that you can make your dreams come true with dedication, hard work, sacrifice and lots of muscle.

It’s not just about being the best. Except it kind of is, but it’s also teaching how to be humble and a fantastic teammate.

The ‘Final Five’ is a perfect example. The USA’s women’s gymnastic team earned the gold medal Tuesday night. Two of the athletes faced the battle of coming back from the London games, and are now overshadowed by a fantastic, Olympic-rookie athlete named Simone Biles.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: (L to R) Gold medalists Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles of the United States pose for photographs with their medals after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: (L to R) Gold medalists Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles of the United States pose for photographs with their medals after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gabby Douglas, 2012’s All-Around Gold Medal winner, was knocked out of the running for this year’s all-around by Biles. But instead of pouting and cowering down, Douglas came back strong to compete in and help USA win the team competition and to cheer on Biles and the rest of her teammates. Proving sportsmanship is not lost.

I get sucked in to each of the athlete’s stories that play before, during or after their events. They give an in depth look into their lives, and it shows their accomplishments and struggles.  We can succumb to our problems, or beat them. How we react to our obstacles shape who we become in the future.

For these three weeks, it’s not about dividing our country by race, sex, sexual orientation, or political views. These three weeks we all wear red, white and blue.

So do yourself and your family a favor and turn on the tube together. Watch some of the amazing things our fellow Americans are doin’ and doin’ and doin’ it well.

Go for the gold, cheers.

 

Veggie Packed Zucchini Bread

My parents have an absolutely amazing garden. It’s one of those gardens that make people drool just by looking at it. My step-dad and mom are pretty much super gardeners.

The star of their super garden right now? Squash and zucchini.

And me, the amazing daughter that I am (let’s be real they love my daughter more) was blessed with bags full of zucchini and squash.

I stared at them on my counter for a few days wondering how I am going to get my daughter and husband to eat all of this mega green machine veggie.

And then it hit me, hide it!

There’s no better way to hide a vegetable or fruit than in a bread!

For this recipe I shredded the zucchini with a cheese grater, and threw in the smallest squash for a little extra veggie punch.

Shredded joy

One of the keys to this recipe is to make sure all the ingredients are mixed very well together each step. I didn’t mix in my zucchini and squash as well as I should have and there are some chunks in my bread (but it’s still a hit in my house!)

Impatiently waiting for the bread to be done!

This bread is perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee, on the go, or just a snack! The cinnamon is the perfect touch for the end of the summer, and will be a great recipe for this fall!

Delicious Zucchini Bread

Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 20 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Occasion Casual Party
Website A Family Feast
Need your kids to eat their vegetables? Check out this Delicious Zucchini Bread recipe that even fooled my husband!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Zucchini (Shredded)
  • 1 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Directions

Pre-heat
Step 1
Pre-heat oven to 350. Covered loaf pan liberally with butter and sprinkle with flour.
Combine
Step 2
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt. Stir to combine.
Shred
Step 3
Shred zucchini, lightly packing down to get out extra water.
Mix
Step 4
In mixing bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla extract and sugar.
Combine
Step 5
Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet, about 1/4 at a time. Beat well.
Fold In
Step 6
With rubber spatula, slowly fold in shredded zucchini (optional : add in nuts here).
Step 7
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Step 8
Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Momma, make that milk!

It’s World Breastfeeding Awareness Week!! Shout out to all of those milk-makin’ mommas out there!!

Breastfeeding my daughter for over a year is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Not only is it the best thing to feed my daughter, but it also created a magical bond between us. I wouldn’t trade the sore, cracked nipples, late night feedings or bites for anything!

I quickly became obsessed with making more and more milk, because ‘what if Charlie didn’t hit the quota of wet diapers for the day?’

And then I obsessed over making too much milk, ‘oh no Charlie spits up after I nurse her, I’m now overfeeding her.’

Which are both crazy thoughts I had during the beginning of my breastfeeding journey.

Check that six month chub!
Check that six month chub!

I felt like once I got the hang of nursing her, I was only a few weeks away from going back to work and had to build up a stash in the freezer for her while I was away… ‘There’s no way I can make enough milk when I’m only pumping one ounce.’

Then I really became obsessed with making more milk.

And more milk.

And more milk.

For over a year I pumped twice a day at work and nursed at home. And scowered the inter-webs for ways to make more and more and more milk. Some things worked, some things didn’t.

Here’s a list of all the thing that worked for me –

10 Tried and True Ways to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply:

  1. DRINK! – Drink lots of water, drink your weight in water. Up your water intake and you will see a boost in your supply!
  2. Nurse on Demand – I tried schedules, I tried saying no, but when I cut back or made Charlie wait longer to nurse, my supply dropped. Nursing is a supply-demand kind of thing. The more your nurse + the more your body thinks it needs to make milk = more milk.
  3. Lactation Cookies – the best midnight snack during those middle of the night feedings. I tried a few difference recipes, but the best one I found was from BellyBelly . It comes down to the amazing, milk-making ingredients, like coconut oil, flax seed, BREWERS YEAST (emphasis on this milk boosting ingredient), and oatmeal. I added some chocolate covered raisins to mine for some extra oomph.
  4. Mother’s Milk Tea – This goes back to the water intake, but this tea seemed to have magic in it! Though I do have to warn you, you have to develop a taste for it. I drank one cup a day at work in between pumping sessions!
  5. Blue Gatorade – Back to drinking your weight, blue Gatorade is amazing. I don’t know why the blue, but that seems to be the key. I recommend the blueberry pomegranate or glacier freeze.
  6. Pump – Pumping can be tough, but the stash you build and how it affects your milk supply make it worth it! Make sure you get a good pump, I have a Medela Freestyle, and pump after you nurse. It will help trick your body into making more milk, and you will create a supply for when you are not near your babe.
  7. Power Pumping – Once you get the hang of pumping, try power pumping a few times and see if it helps. Pump for 20 minutes, stop for 10, pump for 10 more and continue for about an hour, or how long you have till the babe needs you. This will help trick your body into thinking you need to make more milk.
  8. Look at your baby – While nursing, take in that bald head, long eye lashes and baby-soft skin. Soak in all of the love and bond you two are creating together. If you’re pumping, look at pictures or watch videos of the babe.
  9. Switch sides – Charlie was a one-side feeder, so I was constantly lopsided, but it did help my supply on the days I could get her to nurse off both instead of one.
  10. RELAX – This is my biggest tip – if you are stressed, anxious or sad, it will drastically affect your milk supply. As a postpartum woman your hormones are already going haywire and your haven’t had decent sleep since before you found out you were pregnant, so relaxing isn’t something you do often, but try. The minute you let the muscles in your back loosen up and exhale that deep breath you will really see a difference in your supply!

Need help relaxing? Cheers with a dark beer. The darker the beer the more active yeast. Brewers yeast is key in breast milk production!

All of the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it momma.

Milk coma!

Not only did you create a magical being inside your body, but now you are giving this baby all of the vitamins, nutrients and liquid that it needs to survive for the first six months.

You are a miracle too!

Cheers to normalizing breastfeeding.

How do we explain all of this hate to our children?

I don’t have much time to write since I am on my lunch break, #workingmomlife. But, in light of the recent violence and murders that occurred within the last 24 hours I felt like something needed to be said.

I had to stop reading, listening, and watching the news this morning – and as a former news journalist that’s a huge deal – because of all of the terrible things going on in the world – this time right in our own country.

I am disgusted, sad and shocked with the actions that have happened in Dallas.

According to CNN, the killing of five police officers and injuring seven others is the deadliest single incident for U.S. law enforcement since September 11, 2001.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment, the deadliest law enforcement incident since a massive terrorist attack that changed our nation. And this attack was by a 25-year-old Texas man.

It is terrifying and hard to explain terrorism and war to our children, but now we have to explain the racism and hate that is flowing through our country and taking lives? Lives of those who have sworn to serve and protect us. How do you make sense of that to children and teenagers?

I am not a political person, nor do I always follow up with national news/debates (hence the ‘former’ part of news journalist), but I’d like to think that I do know right from wrong. 

It is wrong to kill people. It is wrong to hate. It is wrong for our country to be divided.

Racism is wrong.

There are good cops, there are bad cops. Just like there are good African Americans and bad, good Caucasians and bad, good Asians and bad – do I need to go on?

It scares me to think of the world my children will grow up in if this is the course our nation is taking. It is scary enough with the enemies we have outside of our boarders – never knowing when another terrorist attack might strike – and now we arguably just as much conflict right here in the U.S.A.

We need to stop flooding our newsfeeds, twitter feeds, youtube channels, etc. with hatred and pointing fingers, and start filling them with love, compassion, understanding.

Let’s treat people equally, no matter their skin color, job description, sexual orientation, etc.

C’mon people.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” – MLK Jr.

Cheers.

Pull your stroller backward on the beach

I was filled with hope, anticipation, excitement and stress as we packed up and made the hike for our first family vacation all together – including the kids’ Maw-Maw.

 We filled our SUV to the brim with three adults, two car seats and two preteens.

I couldn’t wait to finally get some sand between my toes after four long years landlocked and, even more, I couldn’t wait for Charlie to see the beach for the first time and fall in love with it.

I stressed for weeks about this trip – having everything we needed so we didn’t have to do any last-minute runs to the store, and really, I wanted to make sure everyone had a fantastic time all together since it’s something we rarely get to do.

Side note – my six-year-old step-daughter lives in Tennessee and we get to see her about four times a year, mostly around holidays. This summer we had her for three fantastic weeks, including this beach trip.

We also had a custody hearing for my step-sons a few weeks ago and got pretty much the opposite verdict of what we were all – including the boys – hoping for. And we were all, and still are, pretty bummed about it. So I was hoping this trip would turn around all of our moods and get us back to our fun-loving, happy selves.

And with all the pressure I put on our ‘Amspacker Beach Takeover’ obviously it would not go as I planned.

Charlie did not like the beach. She hated it.

She hated the sound. She hated the smell. She hated the sunblock, the sand and the fact she had to wear an enormous hat to block the sunshine from her beautiful, super iridescent baby skin.

I was that mom with the screaming baby at the beach who was throwing off her sun hat, getting sunblock in her eye and refusing to put her feet in the sand.

Stress level: high.

After she fell into her milk coma, I sat back in the beach chair, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and sank back in defeat into the chair.

“Waaaaaaaa.”

I sat straight up to check Charlie and try to get her back to sleep. But when I opened my eyes it wasn’t Charlie’s cries I was hearing. It was the little boy two umbrellas over who was crying because he couldn’t eat sand.

And as I listened more, in the other direction a mom was yelling at her son for knocking over her toddler’s sand castle. And the tent in front of us had two kids crying because they had to put on more sunblock.

I stood up and looked around and finally realized that it wasn’t just Charlie, and this was what going to the beach was: sad tears, suntans, salty hair, smiles and family together.

I already knew having children meant pretty much everything is unpredictable and as a parent you have to adapt to every situation, and I didn’t know why I thought going to the beach would be different.

 As the salty air hit my face, it was a slap in the face for me to wake up and enjoy this time with my family. I felt the crashing waves on my legs and the pull of the tide and as the water rushed back into the massive Atlantic, it took all my stress and anxiety with it.

I used the rest of our trip coming up with ways to make our trip to the beach and around the sandy towns easier.

Family Beach Trip Tricks and Tips with Toddler and Kids

1.     Bring a stroller to the beach. Use it to help carry all the towels, bags and shovels on the sand and use it as a make shift crib for naps. PULL THE STROLLER BACKWARDS ON THE BEACH, it makes all the difference, and works out your calves.

2.     Buy a baby sun hat with straps. Under my husband’s recommendation, we bought one with no strap and that hat spent more time in the sand and making Charlie mad because we kept putting it on her head and she wanted it off.

3.     Put sunblock on before you get to the beach. It’s less crowded at the beach house/hotel/car than at the beach, there will be no complaints about having sand in the lotion and it usually takes some time for the effects of the sunblock to actually kick in. Spray sunblock is amazing.

4.     Bring baby powder. It will help with wet, sandy hands and feet. It will take away the wetness and the dry sand will just brush right off.

5.     Have drinks handy. From swimming in the salt water to playing in the hot sun, your family needs to stay hydrated. Have a cooler packed with water, juice packs and a sippy cup ready to go.

6.     Use an umbrella, or any other sun-shielding device, like a tent. You will want somewhere to put your babes in the shade and keep cool. We like to rent ours at the beach to help save room in the car.

7.     Swim diapers – pack them but don’t put them on unless your babe is getting in the water. These diapers are great, but they are only made to catch #2 not soak in #1. So if they are in the stroller, car seat, on a towel, etc. and have a swim diaper on it will not stop the flow and everything will get all wet. No bueno.

8.     Create a baby pool – it’s an easy way to get your babe adjusted to the beach and enjoy some of the water. Either bring your own baby pool or create your own with a deep hole and a shower curtain.

9.     Ziploc baggies – are a God send. Perfect for everything you don’t want sandy or wet – cell phones, cameras, binkies, baby blankets, jewelry, etc.

10.  Alcohol. This is your vacation too, mom and dad. Kick back with a cold one and relax!

 Cheers beach bums.