January 30, 2013

Guess what, loyal readers? This blog is MOVING!

It’s time for a new look, a new web address, and a new name.

That’s right, folks! Change your reader settings, subscribe to email updates, and/or get notifications from the Facebook page to stay linked to the new NateandRachael.com.

Before you check out anything else, you should read the story of the new name. You can find it here: Nothing if Not Intentional.


Thanks for moving with us!

(As of 1/30/13, Godaddy was having problems with their servers. Apologizes in advance if the site is slow!)


The Woombie–Giveaway!

January 23, 2013

In just a few weeks, our not-so-little baby will be six months old. Six months! Fellow mamas, I know you know how bittersweet this milestone could be for me. Six months is when babies start sitting up. Six months is when babies rock back and forth on their hands and knees to let you know that they are dangerously close to crawling. Six months means solid foods and a fading bald spot. Six-month-old babies mimic “words” and are vocal about their likes and dislikes. Six months is, in my mind, when babies officially graduate from newborn to baby.

And when we hit the six month mark, I’ll be sad. I may cry. Because these past six months have been precious,  sweet, calm, and dare I say it?…fun.

Compare that to our first six months with our older daughter. As I’ve already mentioned, she was not an “easy” newborn. One mistake I think we made with our oldest is that we didn’t swaddle her long enough. That is not a mistake we’re in danger of repeating this time! This baby is still swaddled (loosely, I’ve read all about hip dysplasia) every night. And now that we have this new baby swaddle she’s in it for her long nap every. single. day.

Here’s what I honestly think of our Woombie (Convertible, Mega Baby):


It’s foolproof. When it comes to swaddling, I’m a complete fool. But even I can’t mess this up. And that, I believe, is the Woombie’s greatest strength. Lay the baby down, zip it up, done!

It helps the baby sleep. For reasons I cannot explain, our baby has regularly taken a three-hour afternoon nap since she was about 2.5 months old. Unfortunately, all of the credit doesn’t go to Woombie. If it did, can you imagine how fast their swaddles would sell? Parents everywhere would be begging for one! But our sweet, sleepy baby slept that long even before the Woombie. HOWEVER, this swaddle sack has reduced the number of times the baby has pulled out her paci and woken herself up. And I think it helps her sleep more soundly. Like all swaddles, it certainly reduces the startle reflex.

Our Convertible Woombie converts to a regular sleep sack. Now that she’s older, our baby likes to have a toy or lovey in her hand. The Woombie allows for that.

Woombie makes sizes that fit bigger and older babies. This is a big deal to me! Ours is the 20-25 pound Mega Baby size. No, our six month old isn’t quite that big, but I think the extra room is mostly in the length. Additionally, when we kept her arms in the swaddle, there was enough stretch and give for her to hold her own hands, a self-soothing habit she enjoyed.

Because they make sizes that fit older babies, the convertible option has use far beyond the normal age of a commercial swaddle blanket. Lots of moms use sleep sacks instead of blankets until their babies are toddlers. The “Convertible Leggies” option is also good for older babies.

There’s no velcro! Velcro can come undone, and my baby can wiggle out of a velcro swaddle. Also, time will take its toll on velcro, but the zipper on the Woombie isn’t going to wear out like the velcro on other swaddle blankets.

The two-way zipper allows for easy diaper changes. Since our baby is older (and FINALLY needs fewer diaper changes!), this isn’t an issue for us. But it is a handy feature.

There’s enough room for her hips and legs to move. Again, this helps with hip dysplasia.


The Woombie and our curly-haired, sleeping baby.


It’s looser than some of the other swaddles. If you want a tight swaddle, consider one of the other Woombie products, not the convertible swaddle (check out the Houdini).

It’s not exactly pretty: I hate to say it, but it looks like a baby straight jacket. (For the record, it’s definitely NOT a straight jacket. As Woombie explains, it needs to be snug to imitate the womb.  Plus it’s made with four-way, stretchy fabric. This allows the baby to move naturally.) However, because we use it for every afternoon nap, family, friends, and strangers had plenty of opportunities to give us odd looks and comments during Christmastime and on vacation. People just aren’t used to seeing a baby zipped up. But, parents, is that a deal breaker? If it helps your baby sleep, do you care how it looks? Absolutely not! Bring on the comments and stares!


Final verdict? It helps my baby sleep and makes my mommy job easier. Of course I love it! And if you win the one that Woombie has offered to send one lucky winner, I hope you will, too!

Want to win a Woombie?

Click on over to the giveaway link and enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

(It’s easy! I promise!)

By commenting, you agree to the official rules. Giveaway ends on Monday, January 28 at 3:00 p.m. EST. 

Playing through Winter

January 22, 2013

For me, January, February, and March are the toughest months of the year. The holidays are over. Sunshine is scarce; the days are short. It’s cold.  Stinkin’ cold. So stinkin’ cold that a two-year-old might walk outside and promptly say, “It really cold. My teef (teeth) hurt.”

On top of all that, it’s flu season. We really don’t want to risk getting sick again, which means this mama is about to go stir crazy!

It’s time to get back into fun, creative, at-home play. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Cotton Ball Snowman

Inspired by an online tutorial (here), we made a snowman.

I drew three circles. The toddler helped me squeeze out glue. She added the cotton balls.


I drew a little hat. She cut it out. (Yes! By herself!)

I drew one arm. She drew the other.

We added buttons (pom poms).

We added eyes.

The toddler saw no reason to stop with just two eyes, so our snowman has five eyes. None of them actually made it on his face.


Colored Snow

We’ve had one notable snow storm so far, and it melted so fast we hardly got to enjoy it. Oh well, I’m sure there will be more. Probably in April or something. This is Indiana, after all.

One day we had a few minutes to kill while we were waiting for Daddy to get home for lunch. We grabbed the condiment bottles we use in our water table, filled them with water, and added a few drops of food coloring.

Then we went outside to “color the snow pink.”

It didn’t take long for her to empty the bottles and ask for a refill.

PicMonkey Collage1

At one point she said, “Look, Mommy! I make heart!” What do you know? That does look like a heart.


Are you collecting ideas for toddler play on pinterest? If so, send me the link to your board!

Any other winter activities you think we should try?


A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

January 21, 2013

Bethany House Publishing was kind enough to send me another book to review!

Do you want to know the great thing about this particular book? It was good.

Will it be a modern classic? Probably not. But I enjoyed reading this book.

A few thoughts:

Surprisingly, it reminded me a bit of the Sound of Music. The protagonist runs away from her true identity to play the part of a governess. She then leaves her governess job and becomes a maternal figure for the children of a widower. The widower, of course, ends up being her love interest. I think the Sound of Music comparison first came to mind when I read this (page 106):

“I suppose I should start at the beginning,” Hamilton said, taking a seat beside his mother.

“I always find that’s the most prudent place to start,” Gloria said.

Sound familiar? Anyone else now singing “Do-Re-Mi” from Sound of Music?

I’m obsessed with names. Many of the characters had, in my opinion, great names (Cora, Eliza, Hamilton, Zayne, Salice, and Penelope, to name a few).

As the mother of a two-year-old, I found it interesting that the three-year-old boy was repeatedly referred to as a baby. This was offered as an explanation for his inappropriate behavior and seemingly constant napping. Do most people consider a three-year-old to be a baby? Did they in 1880? More importantly, can I use that as an excuse to justify my two-year-old’s behavior?

Several times I caught myself smiling at a clever phrase or interesting piece of dialogue.

When I read for pleasure, I do my best not to edit. But sometimes I stumble over awkward writing and typos. For instance, there is one section (page 166) in which the main man is struggling to find the right words. There is a bit of narrative commentary that says, “He was normally perfectly capable of turning out a pretty phase (italics mine) when the occasion called for it.” Given the context, I’m convinced that should have been “turning out a pretty phrase.” Distracting, but not a deal breaker for me.

It was a quick read. In some ways, it may have been too quick. When I see the book on the counter now, I longingly wish I had more to read.

However, there are several loose ends. I’m hoping for a sequel!


Don’t Get the Puppy

January 15, 2013

Young Couples Everywhere,

Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice: don’t get the puppy.

Even if that two-pound bundle of cuteness is on sale. Even if you discover it’s hypoallergenic.


Don’t get the puppy. 


Because if you do get the puppy, that little puppy will become your child. She’ll go with you everywhere.


Literally, everywhere–church, weddings, walmart, football games, and on airplane rides.


You’ll buy puppy sweaters and special puppy chew toys. You’ll go to puppy class, and you’ll teach her tricks. You’ll brag to everyone that she is the smartest, most-talented dog ever. She jumps through hoops! She puts her toys away! She dances! She’s probably even smarter than Lassie.


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You’ll take her on long walks, and you’ll watch the Dog Whisperer. You won’t mind when she eats a whole package of birth control pills or chews through a leash. She’s just a puppy, after all.



Eventually that puppy will get older. You’ll still love her, because she’s your dog daughter. But you start to notice how inconvenient she is. You’ll still travel (because you swore a dog wouldn’t hold you back), but it’s a pain to find someone to watch your (usually) sweet schnoodle pup.


You’ll get annoyed when she has accidents. You’ll look for ways to get her to stop barking and to stop eating poop. She’s no longer a puppy. Shouldn’t she have outgrown those bad habits by now?



And then, if you’re like most couples, one day you’ll decide a dog daughter is not enough.


You start to want a real daughter.


And one day that daughter will be born, and you’ll wonder how the dog will do. Will she like the baby? Will she growl? Will she bite?


But then you realize it’s not the dog’s behavior around the baby that bothers you. It’s that the dog eats Kleenexes out of the trash, licks the lotion off your legs, and barks at all the visitors. And every day she needs silly, inconvenient things like walks and dog food.




Gradually, the dog will stop going with you everywhere. Not because you don’t love her (although you may begin to doubt your love), but because you just don’t have enough hands or energy to manage hauling around a dog and a baby. 



A few months later, you’ll come home with a second baby. And you’ll struggle to even find a picture with the dog, because the dog gets even less attention now that there are two babies. The dog is no longer important.


And one day your dog may escape the house and disappear for awhile, and (to your surprise) your first feeling is relief. (One less thing to take care of.) And then guilt. (She was/is your dog daughter.) And then sadness. (Because deep down you believe there is something good about kids growing up around a dog. They learn to love animals and have fewer allergies.)


But, still. This parenting thing is hard. Maybe there’s a compromise? Your husband takes the dog to work and tries to convince his coworkers they need an office dog. And it seems to be working.

Until one day your two-year-old cries as daddy and dog are leaving and says, “No, Daddy! You can’t take Sofi. I miss her.”

And that’s when you realize…she’s no longer your dog.  Although it will be a few years before they can walk/feed/care for her, the dog belongs to your kids. You can’t (ever) get rid of her.  Because she’s part of the family. Your babies love her unconditionally. They need you to keep her. They don’t know life without her.

So young couples, make it easy on yourselves. Don’t get the puppy.

Or do.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Survival Mode–Cold and Flu Season

January 8, 2013

All families have seasons when they’re surviving rather than thriving. Sometimes it’s because of something tragic, but let’s not go there today.

Today let’s talk about the everyday life kind of things that kick us into survival mode: weekends when Mom shivers and shakes on the couch. Nights when Daddy brings the toddler to the guest bed with him because that’s the only way to get her to stop crying and coughing, and it takes the tot four hours to fall back to sleep. Afternoons when the five-month-old worries her parents with her raspy cough. Mornings when the two-year-old screams and cries, “Go, Mommy! Go! I don’t want to see you! Daddy! Dada? Daddy! I. WANT. MY. DADDY!” But Daddy’s not there because he goes to work so that Mommy can be there on days when her kids wake up tired and sick and want nothing more than their mommy… daddy?


Yep, the worst cold ever has hit our family, and we’re simply trying to survive. What does that look like for us?

1.) We put relationships ahead of tasks. Actually, “relationships over tasks” is a family motto. But it becomes even more important when we’re sick. The laundry baskets are overflowing. The counter has crumbs. The house is filled with post-holiday, post-vacation chaos. And a poopy pair of the baby’s pajamas may have been thrown on the hallway floor this morning. (Both girls were crying! My head was about to explode!) But that’s okay. Because giving myself permission to ignore those things helped me to feel calm when I picked my screaming toddler up out of bed and rocked and held her (which, unfortunately, did not stop the screaming. I told you it was bad around here.)

2) We accept help. I was about to turn to freezer food when my parents offered to give us a meal for the second time in one day. And then the next day I texted them to ask them to take the toddler for a few hours so we could rest. Shameless or smart? You decide.

3) We avoid our (young) friends. As desperately as I’d like to have the distraction of my toddler’s friends, it’s so not cool to expose them to our nastiness. Granted, the girls haven’t had a fever (yet?!), but from the first day of symptoms, we avoided places with little people–like church and play dates with friends–until we’re officially on the mend.

4) We make exceptions. From the moment she opened her eyes this morning, the toddler cried. And screamed. And wailed. After thirty tortuous minutes, she asked to go back to bed with her “bobby” (her word for pacifier). Are we trying to lose the paci for good? Yep. Has it been almost a year since she’s had a morning nap? Yep. Is today a day for exceptions? Yep.

5) We try natural remedies. Dang it, people! I want some NyQuil! I’m so sick of the pressure and congestion. But I’m nursing, and I can’t take those kinds of drugs. And, ultimately, that’s okay, because I’m certain that nursing has protected the baby from the worst of the cold. And really, this cold is likely caused by a virus and what can you do for a virus? Treat the symptoms. So the toddler gets warm water with honey and lemon juice. (Does it help the cough? Maybe?) I’ve tried a heating pad, a bag of frozen peas on my forehead, vapor rub (with caution since it’s not approved for babies and the baby is on my chest when she eats), nasal spray, Breathe Right strips, and even tylenol and ibuprofen. I didn’t need any medicine for my delivery or postpartum recovery, but the pressure is too much! What else would you recommend?

6) We choose convenience. While I believe good nutrition helps keep us all healthy, I just had a protein bar and a can of diet coke for breakfast. True story. The toddler will probably get a frozen waffle (which is, honestly, not that unusual). For lunch, we’ll do leftovers–cut up cantaloupe, yogurt, oatmeal (yes, we have leftover oatmeal.). Anything somewhat healthy that we can pull out of the fridge or freezer. Desperate times, people, desperate times.

7) We look on the bright side. (And use clichés! Clichés are allowed in survival mode.) The toddler’s extra nap gave me extra play time with the baby and a free moment to take care of those poopy pajamas. And since both girls were asleep this morning, I had time for some much-needed, therapeutic blogging.

8) We pray. Am I proud of the fact that I don’t pray as much when I’m healthy as I do when our family is sick? Absolutely not. But there’s nothing  like sickness and weakness to remind me of my need for God.

I wanted to come up with a nice, even list of ten tips But that’s just not going to happen. Because we’re in survival mode. But, hey! The toddler is awake after her morning nap, and SHE’S HAPPY! Are we on the mend? Let’s hope!


Traveling with Two to the San Diego Zoo

January 6, 2013

The adults loved San Diego because we love travel, the ocean, adventure, and sunshine. Our two-year-old loved “Sandy Eggo” because of the airplane ride, the sand, unlimited access to grandparents, and the animals. Oh, the animals! What toddler doesn’t love animals?

For animal-loving tots, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see. It’s famous. It’s huge. It has cute (rare, famous, giant) pandas.

Included in our multi-park pass was a bus tour around the park. Do it! You see 70% of the zoo in just over half an hour. We walked the first day and rode the bus the second. With two strollers, lots of hills, and two tired little ones, it’s no surprise that we were all much happier on the second day. One of my favorite things about the bus ride was seeing the zoo’s animal ambassadors. We saw an arctic wolf out for a casual stroll with its trainer. On other days, you may see a cheetah or a blue-tongued skink.

The Skyfari was also included in our pass. It’s a four-minute ride over the zoo forest. Strollers that fold can ride, too!


With little ones, the petting zoo is a must. There aren’t any really special animals in there, but when was the last time you got to pet a sheep or a goat?


Like SeaWorld, the zoo has live animal cameras–pandas, polar bear, ape, and elephants. Check them out before and after you go!

Parking at the zoo is free! It’s located in Balboa Park, which is also home to a Science Center. Our local museum membership got our family of four in for free because of the passport program. Score!


The best bang for your buck is definitely with the multi-park pass. (Did I mention kids three and under are free?) With that option, how can you go to San Diego and not visit the zoo? Next time we’ll be sure to visit the Safari Park as well. Has anyone been there?