Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adventures in Cosleeping: Side Car Solutions

Granted this rubbermaid tote side car idea doesn't actually get used a whole heck of a lot. But at least it is there and does expand our bed another couple feet. Either way both girls prefer to be snuggled up close but on certain nights this make-shift side car toddler bed has come in quite handy.

We tried a couple of different ideas before this one. First we tried just the pack n play pulled up close since our youngest naps in it anyways. But no that didn't work for bedtime. Then I took apart and hauled in the crib frame with the front open and pulled next to the bed...and that probably would have worked if not for the style of crib frame that curves out at the sides creating a good 3-4 inch gap instead if being able to be flush against our mattress.

So it was on to plan c or d at this point. Ainsley was transitioning from sleeping in a cosleeper to next to me and big sis in the middle of the bed. This was no Bueno in big sis's mind so the sidecar was a way for her to still be able to cuddle up to me...little sis on the left big sis on the right. 

And at the time I was finally packing away tubs of maternity clothes and winter clothes. The two tasks sort of came together! Tote platform! Perfect height!

We have three equal height tubs holding up a crib mattress so it sits flush against our king sized bed. Family bed at its finest! :) 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Where we play: Greenwood Public Library

One of our all time favorite places to get out of the house and play, especially in the cold, long winter months, is at the Greenwood Public Library. The children's section is so great! From the facilities to the decor - they are truly fostering a love of the library in children by making the library a fun and exciting place to visit. They even have an aquarium and child computer stations! And in exchange for a temporary hold of a personal item you can "check out" play food and a cash register and other fun things!

Here is a little tour of the facilities: 

A space ship (the white triangle contraption) complete with mission control (old keyboards affixed to the dash).

Train table, dress up clothes and a road map carpet. Books and puzzles galore.

Magnet letter board.

Choo choo train.

For the fire engine enthusiasts. 

Three billy goats gruff bridge complete with hand puppets in the little bag. My little ones love to trip trap over the bridge as we walk back to the play area.

Attempted a panoramic view of the space. 

Great tree clubhouse that appeals to all ages from walkers to crawlers and beyond!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rethinking Olive Garden: Menu Tasting & Brand Updates

We were invited with other local media and bloggers to join our area Olive Garden for a menu tasting and celebration of their many great changes! The interior has been renovated and looks so modern and updated. New logo, new look and new menu items! Definitely a fresh new look, feel and taste that doesn't take away at all from what everyone already loves about Olive Garden. Just makes it even more enticing and exciting! Don't you love it when change makes a good thing even better??

Let's talk a bit about the changes:

Olive Garden's Menu Evolution 

Last year, Olive Garden unveiled the most significant menu evolution in the restaurant’s history, adding more than 20 new menu items that broaden the choice, variety and value it offers guests, prepared with new cooking techniques that accentuate new flavors. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing guests with more options to customize their meal experience at both lunch and dinner.

Fresh ingredients used in their menu items - fresh mozzarella bites, lemon, yum!

Remodels of Indiana Locations
Additionally, Olive Garden has completed the remodel of its Greenwood, Muncie, Anderson, Kokomo, Castleton Square Mall and East Washington (Indiana) locations. The restaurants now features a more open, vibrant and up-to-date design, with new artwork, fabrics and materials, lighting, seating, countertops and flooring, as well as a stacked-stone entry tower displaying the new “Olive Garden Italian Kitchen” logo sign.

Menu Tasting Checklist from the event we attended

Let's take a Look at the New Dishes!

  • Crispy Risotto Bites (appetizer) - A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce.
  • Artichoke Fritti (appetizer, coming soon on 1/19) - Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses. Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce.
Wings at Olive Garden?! Woah!
  • Spicy Calabrian Wings (appetizer) - Chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce.

  • Mediterranean Flatbread (appetizer, coming soon on 1/19) - Basil pesto and olive oil, topped with a blend of four Italian cheeses, artichoke hearts, olives, capers, roasted red peppers and garlic.
  • Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper (salad) - Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.
  • Salmon Bruschetta (entree) - Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on seafood risotto with sautéed shrimp.
  • Citrus Chicken Sorrento (entree, Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories) - Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the Italian city of Sorrento, famous for its lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables.
  • Northern Tour of Italy (entree) - Asiago tortelloni with meat sauce, Chicken Lombardy and fettuccine with creamy parmesan portobello sauce. 
    • Last year, Olive Garden turned to fans to crowd source the next Tour of Italy dish. Fans have spoken - and you tried the winner. Inspired by Olive Garden's chef Flavio Tagliaferro and a twist on the classic Tour of Italy, this dish features ingredients and flavors of the region of Italy where Chef Flavio grew up. 
  • Bucatini with Spicy Three Meat Sauce - part of Cucina Mia:
    • Choose your pasta: Bucatini, Cavatappi, Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Giant Rigatoni, Whole Wheat Linguine, Gluten-Free Rotini
    • Choose your made-from-scratch sauce: Five Cheese Marinara, Spicy Three Meat, Asiago Garlic Alfredo, Creamy Bacon & Sun-Dried Tomato, Primavera
    • Add a topping (additional cost): Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Chicken Meatballs, Grilled Chicken, Sautéed Shrimp. 
  • Pappardelle Pescatore (entree) - A traditional, coastal Italian dish with sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed in a creamy, red pepper seafood sauce. Served with fresh asparagus, tomatoes and pappardelle pasta.
  • Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding (seasonal dessert) - Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial apples, then topped with caramel and rich vanilla cream.
Long Island Limoncello

Food isn't the only new items on the menu. There are a few tasty new drinks as well. We tried the amazing Long Island Limoncello and new Sangarita!

Many thanks to the Greenwood Olive Garden for having us - was a great experience - wonderful service and staff!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How We Conquered the Yeast Beast

Yeast diaper rashes are no joke. To be honest before the last two months, they baffled me. Our oldest never got much of a diaper rash at all - let alone a yeast rash - ever. So I was mystified when my youngest would have rash flare ups. In the past Aveeno Diaper Rash cream would be our go-to product, but after a round of antibiotics to clear up a double ear infection, our youngest's rash took a turn for the worst. Little round pimple looking bumps, and a raised nasty looking rash that was painful to even look at - poor baby!

After hitting the internet we came up with several solutions and cream combos to try. But after over a week it seemed to be taking turns for the worse and become raw and blistery instead of healing or clearing up at all.

We were missing a crucial step. Airing out the area.

After lamenting my concern on a cloth diaper mama group on Facebook, someone commented with a simple, "try less cream." All the  creams and lotions and whatever we tried helped keep that area warm and moist - perfect for yeast.

Part of not airing out for us before is because our youngest tends to go potty as soon as her diaper is off- gah! But a few accidents was worth the healing effect.

And our second secret weapon that finally brought relief was baking soda baths. 

We tried it all folks, from Destin Ultra, A&D, a homemade version of "Riley's butt cream," bag balm, lotrimin -- it was frustrating to see days turn into weeks with no relief and several set backs.

So here is our routine, something I was constantly seeking advice on but not quite getting so hopefully it helps someone else out there seeking some help in figuring out how to tackle the diaper rash yeast beast.

1. Sensitive Diapers/Sensitive Detergent. If cloth diapering, you may want to consider getting some bleach and chlorine free all-nature sensitive type disposable diaper during this time and if using a detergent for cloth diapers make sure it is sensitive or that you are adding in enough rinse cycles. And definitely run your cloth diapers through a wash cycle with the recommended amount of bleach (in the bleach compartment) or vinegar to kill off the yeast and spores.

2. Ease up on the use of creams. I know for us our first reaction was to slather on as much as possible hoping they would work their miracle before soaking into the diaper etc. But what we were doing was creating a consistent warm moist environment for the yeast to continue and for the raw skin to stay raw and not heal. We back off on the amount and kept it at just a thin layer of lotrimin on the pimple looking bumps and raised meaty looking rash areas. We would mix it up with a thin layer of diaper rash cream like butt paste or A&D or Destin every other diaper or so.

3. Air out. It can be hard to do especially for an accident prone babe but helps so much. We found that letting her run around a bit after baths helped, or in between diaper changes - a good 10-20 minutes or so.

4. Baking soda baths. I read it was 2TB per baby bath tub, but we don't use the baby tub any longer so we were using around 1/4 cup and just lowering the water amount so it wasn't so watered down. We did this 1-2 times a day morning and night.

5. Disposables at night. We love cloth diapering, but 8-12 hours at night in a warm wet diaper is not going chase yeast away. Let that baby sleep and air out her bum a little in a disposable.

6. Frequent changes. And throughout the day change the diaper more often whether cloth or disposable - this lets you keep an eye on the rash and continue to layer on thin amounts of cream or have more chances to air out.