Eczema, eczema, read all about it!

Lately I've been getting a ton of direct messages, emails, and comments about how I keep Zachary's eczema under control. I love getting messages like this, because it makes me feel even more united with other mommas, knowing we are going through so many of the same things. With that said, keep the questions coming because I really don't mind. Since so many of you have asked, I will explain how I keep Zac's flare-ups to a minimum. You can see what triggers her allergies in a previous post I've written here.

 Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by:  Greer Rivera

Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by: Greer Rivera

Tackling Zac's Eczema:

1. Bath every other day

Although water is great for moisturizing skin, it can also really dry it out. Skin produces natural oils throughout the day and if you are constantly washing it off, the result can be drier skin. We give Zac baths only every other day to make sure her skin is well-balanced.

2. Use whatever soap/shampoo that works

I used to buy "specialty" and/or organic soap, hoping it would help Zac's skin. I tried Aveeno Shampoo and Wash, Aquaphor Shampoo and Wash, Cetaphil for babies, Honest, Burts Bees, Babyganics, and other miscellaneous, random hippie stuff. The last thing I tried when all those products did not make much of a difference was, dun, dun, DUN... Johnson's & Johnson's Baby Head-To-Toe Baby Wash. It's super affordable and works so well for Zac. No wonder it's been around for so long! It smells great too!

3. Always pat dry

As soon as Zac is out of the bath, I don't dry her off with a towel. I take her out of the tub, wrap a towel around her, take her over to our bed, pat dry just a bit and start applying moisturizer on her semi-wet skin. Applying the moisturizer on damp skin helps to keep the skin extra dewy.

4. Favorite eczema moisturizer ever: AVEENO BABY ECZEMA THERAPY NIGHTTIME BALM

You guys! This moisturizer has changed our life! It helped Zac's rough, dry and itchy skin even when it was at it's worst. This is what I apply when her skin is still damp from the bath. I am super liberal with it and apply it everywhere.

5. Occasional hydrocortisone

I mix either 1% hydrocortisone (you can find this over-the-counter at any Target or drugstore) or her prescription 2.5% hydrocortisone. I mix it with a bit of the nighttime balm and apply to those problem spots during flareups. 

6. Oatmeal baths

I only do this on occasion for extra irritated full body flareups. For example, if she ate something she is allergic to and is scratching everywhere on her body, I use the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Oatmeal Bath. This helps to calm it down to help her sleep a little better. Luckily, I haven't had to do this in months.

7. Trim & file nails

Pretty much a given. We use FridaBaby NailFrida. Long nails cut skin and harbor bacteria. Keeping baby nails short helps to minimize raw, bleeding flareups. 

These tips were not a prescription from her pediatrician. They are things I did on my own that has worked for Zac. I have heard great results from those who I have given this advice to, and I hope it's helpful for anyone who has been looking for a new regimen. Of course, it is important to talk with your own healthcare provider in regards to your own child if you have doubts or questions.

Better late than never

Christmas has once again come and gone. I had completed all my Christmas shopping (wrapped up and all) back in October and felt so accomplished. Here I am almost 2 months later, sitting next to a dried up Christmas tree and watching as the babe tosses around all her brand new toys she received as gifts as if she's had them forever. Over the past two weeks our mailbox had been flooded with Christmas cards from beloved friends and family, as a constant reminder for us to do the same. As we geared up to travel down to SoCal to spend the holiday with family, my to-do list consisted of one thing: send Christmas cards. We had planned on using some professional photos we had taken in September during one of our Hawaiian vacations. We figured it was a bit dated, but we knew there wasn't much time. When we touched down to my hometown, we busted out our laptops to draft up our card. Realizing that a dear friend down south happens to be a very talented photographer, with fingers crossed we sent her a text hoping she'd be available. To our surprise, she was! Without hesitation I Venmo'd her straight away and we were booked for December 23rd for a quick photo shoot at the Anaheim Packing District

She was extremely professional, fast, and so much fun to work with! It was such a joy to see her in her element. After knowing her for so many years, and hearing of her growth in both her profession (speech pathology) and side hustle (photography), I felt so proud to see her in her creative environment. Not only was she able to capture memories of my family in a pinch, but they were even better than we had imagined. Not to mention a same-day edit! So, shoutout to Nikki! Can't wait to see you continue to advance in all that you do. You da best!

Here's a few from the shoot:

And thanks to Postable, we were able to send out our Christmas cards later that night. Thank God for technology! Here's what they looked like. 

I hope that you all had a wonderful (and successful) Christmas holiday! 

Our Family Emergency Kit

 We will store our kit under this bench. The small first aid kit will be in the car. I have a duplicate first aid kit in the luggage.

We will store our kit under this bench. The small first aid kit will be in the car. I have a duplicate first aid kit in the luggage.

In response to the recent natural disasters and wild fires here in California, my family has decided to take action and become prepared for any type of emergency. Many people have asked me what we packed, so I am sharing my comprehensive list here. Please feel free to add or subtract to your own list according to your own family's needs. We live under a large, dry hill with homes at the top in the San Francisco/Daly City border of the Bay Area (scroll down to see photo). You can blame my medical background for being slightly over-prepared, but I'm okay with that!

We will be keeping our large kit under this bench at our front door for easy access on the 1st floor of our house in the event that we need to evacuate. I encourage families to have at least 1 member who is CPR certified. You do not need to be a medical professional and there are plenty of places you can get this certification. At the very least, you can read up on emergency procedures online, thanks to the Internet. The CDC has a ton of information on getting prepared.

I hope you find this list helpful. I'm disappointed that I didn't do this sooner, but it's becoming more and more apparent how real this all can be. You might also find that it starts to get a little pricey once you start to add things up, but for less than $400, being able to provide for your whole family after a natural disaster will be worth it. Please continue to pray and support those who have been affected by the recent fires. GoFundMe has a list of verified accounts to donate to fire victims if you are able to help out.

Thanks and be safe, friends!


Family Emergency Kit (2 Adults, 1 child & 1 large dog)

For 2 Adults:

  • 1 Four-person, Three-day Deluxe emergency kit containing all survival supplies. We bought ours from Leejay's work, but you can find one on Amazon. Among all the awesome supplies in included, there are N95 masks in there too! When the air quality gets bad, this can help save you from having serious respiratory issues. I recommend getting one from your local hardware store now if you are experiencing breathing problems if your area was affected by the fires.
  • 1 Complete first aid kit (complete with all supplies for injuries). This one also contains a sewing kit.
  • Medications: Calamine lotion, Anti-diarrheal (Imodium), Laxative (Dulcolax), Antacids (Pepcid), Antihistamines (Benadryl), Pain relievers (Tylenol), Hydrocortisone cream, Cold & Flu meds (like Nyquil/Dayquil), and Decongestant (Sudafed).
  • 1 Emergency Lantern
  • 1 Crank Flashlights with radio and charging station (the deluxe kit also came with one)
  • 1 Life Straw
  • 6-pack Emergency drinking water. These have a 20-year shelf life, people!
  • Snacks: protein bars, granola bars, trail mix. We chose Lara Bars because Zac is able to eat these.
  • MRE’s (Instant food). This is the stuff they use in the military and it's on Amazon!
  • 1-2 Towels (Can be cut up in case of emergency for injuries, as dog bed, cut into hand towels, etc. There are many use cases. We packed old beach towels we've had for years)
  • 2 Hoodies (We packed old, oversized ones we don't really use)
  • 2 Leggings/Sweats (For all clothing, we just packed old items from home, 1 of each thing for each of us)
  • 2 Shirts
  • 2 Thick socks
  • 1 Sports Bra (For me, not Leejay! Haha)
  • 2 Packs of underwear (5 per pack)
  • Travel size toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, tampons, etc.
  • No rinse bathing wipes
  • Fire lock box: Containing important documents, blank checks/cash. Keep 1 key with your emergency backpack. We have 2- this small one and this large one. Make digital copies of all your documents and put it in a cloud/ email it to yourself/etc. We store the fireboxes in our bedroom closet.
  • Keep at least one pair of shoes or sandals/slides near your main exit (we always have 1 pair each near our front door).

For 1 Child:

  • 1-2 Outfits (pants/sweater/shirt) and size up. it's better to be bigger than smaller
  • 1 pair long socks
  • 1 set of PJs
  • 1 Baby blanket (one of her old swaddle blankets)
  • 2 stuffed toys/ puzzle (comforting for the babe)
  • 1 Can of Nutramigen formula
  • 5-10 Baby food pouches
  • 1 Sippy cup
  • 1 Bottle
  • Snacks
  • 2 Pack Diapers (Size up! You can always make a big diaper small, but you can’t make a small diaper big)
  • 1 Large pack of wipes
  • Bulb Syringe
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby meds: Infant Tylenol Melts, Kids Benadryl Melts (generic), 2 Epipen (daughter with severe allergies)

For 1 dog:

  • 1 Collapsible Bowl
  • 1 Bag dog food
  • Leash/Collar
  • 1-2 dog toys (comfort for your furry kid)

For Car:

For Everyone:

  • Prayer - Pray for protection and safety over your loved ones and community. Pray for wisdom when getting through it. Pray for continued faithfulness and strength when things get scary, intense or difficult. 
  • Awareness- Be aware of your surroundings, the risks, and the possibilities. 
  • Common Sense- Use your best judgment when making decisions in any emergency. 
  • Love- Speak love. Give love. Show love. Just love. (This world could use a lot more of it)

Note: Check expiration on all items annually.

 This photo is the view from our kitchen window (second floor). You can see that thin the event of an earthquake or fire, our location might be at high risk.

This photo is the view from our kitchen window (second floor). You can see that thin the event of an earthquake or fire, our location might be at high risk.

Memoirs of a SAHM: Growth Spurts

I haven’t posted in awhile but I’m taking this opportunity now while Zac is literally in my arms, finally napping, as I’m rocking her in our glider. I felt an urge to vent about how growth spurts are a real struggle. They’re  a lot like tangled yarn. It’s like no matter how patient you are, trying to remove all the little knots, it somehow gets worse and much harder to unravel. Every time you think you’ve got it and it’s almost done, it appears as though you never even started. As one knot loosens, another one begins. This is my life right now. 

 Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Here's an example of what this growth spurt looks like. One moment Zac will be cheerful and singing, and seconds later she’ll be in tears. Then she’ll rub her eyes and act sleepy, and as soon as she lays down to nap she becomes a chatterbox. As a result of a lost nap, she’ll be grumpy and fall down to the ground at random times, upset that she’s sleepy. When it’s time to eat she’ll take a bite, smile and show us the sign language for “eat more.” As the spoon enters her mouth, she’ll hit it out of your hand and furrow her eyebrows. Then when you try for a second attempt, she’ll gladly take it. Like I said, tangled yarn. 

To be fair, I’m more sensitive because I definitely have more on my plate these days. The feelings I share come from a place in which all things are magnified. For the past few months I’ve been involved in a little side hustle (let’s face it, I got bills to pay), but it’s becoming more and more apparent that being a full-time SAHM and also part-time working parent is a freakin’ challenge. I’m being tested every single day. 

Growth spurts mean a hungrier, more curious, clingy (to me), extremely active, running, singing, tantrum throwing, super sweet, yet mischievous, teething toddler who would rather play than sleep. What keeps me sane is the app Wonder Weeks.  I highly recommend this app! It has helped Leejay and I feel like we are not alone and that Zachary’s behavior is completely normal for her age. Her little brain is getting filled with so many new things and she's really trying to process everything. I can't even imagine how hard that can be for a baby. But, DUDE. Sleep deprivation is slowly making its way back into our lives.  Just a week ago, she was going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at 7:40am (like she has been doing for months and months). This week she suddenly hates her crib and even if we are able to put her to sleep in it, she wakes up crying and screaming for one of us around 3:00am. It takes a over an hour to get her back to sleep unless we give in, of course, and allow her to be in her Dock-a-Tot (Grand) in our bed just so that we can a get a couple more hours of sleep. We’ve been spoiled by her 12 hours nights for so long and are really trying to adjust to all of these changes.

And, hey, maybe all of this is a result of our recent trip to Hawaii and the time change is to blame for some of it. I don’t really know and I can point fingers all day at pretty much anything just to find a valid reason. But I know that this is temporary, and it feels good to be able to jot it all down and get these current frustrations out of my head. I know that there are a TON of other serious and devasting things happening in this world today, and I am humbled and blessed to be where I am, to have a roof over my head, to not be negatively swayed by the media or physically affected by the natural disasters and hate crimes happening in our country. 

So I write this for the mommas (and poppas) who feel like me. The burn, the exhaustion and the frustration, because it’s okay to feel it. But this is also written to encourage and remind us that we are extremely, without a doubt, blessed for the ability to be with our littles everyday, to protect them and teach them as much as we can as we watch them grow in a world like the one we live in today. We get to be an example of strength to them when days are hard and when things get scary. To show them that no matter the circumstance, faith and love is of utmost importance. The burn, exhaustion, and frustration of parenting is nothing compared to the gift of parenthood itself.

Cheers to all the 1-year-olds being 1-year-olds around the globe. I can’t wait to see what you all grow up to be. 

11-12 Months of Motherhood

We survived the first year! This is the last of my "monthly" lessons in motherhood.

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I feel that this first year has taught me more about life than the last 30 years I've been on this earth. It's funny how your perspective can change when you become a parent. It's so easy to become overprotective, anxious, and scared. ALL. THE. TIME. I hate to break it to you, but this becomes the norm. Not to mention the teething. Ughhhhh. The teething. But there is good news! Although those not-so-fun feelings surface in the first year of parenthood, the happy feelings overpower it. Here's a few that I've learned:

1. Hilarious, nonstop entertainment!

Because the first year is full of well, firsts, every attempt to do anything is so funny! The first time Zac said "Banana", I literally lol'd! She saw a banana and screamed "Na-nana!" In the past month, she's been learning her different body parts. The first time I asked her where her nose is, she pointed to her nose correctly. But then when I asked her where her eyes are, she pointed in between her nose and her eye. I figured, hey, it was a great guess! Now that she's entering the toddler years, some things are funny, but not necessarily good. When Zac was younger, she would do things like copy me if I stuck my tongue out. She still copies me now, but it's not as cute as it used to be. One time I saw that she was trying to pull on something I didn't want her to pull on. She turned around, as if looking for permission, and then pulled it anyway. Because I'm teaching her baby sign language, I firmly said the word "no", while signing it with my hands. She then looks me right in the eyes, smiles, and signs "no" back at me! I'll definitely be working on this more.

2. Daily exercise comes easy.

What better way to get in my steps than chasing Zac around the house, or having to carry all 23 pounds of her up and down 2 flights of stairs throughout the day? Last week Zac finally took 3 steps! She isn't full on walking yet, and I am cherishing this special time. I'm hoping that despite her increasing mobility, she doesn't lose all her chubbiness. 

3. Every moment is a Kodak moment.

I'm pretty sure the majority of the population uses their smartphone to take photos of their kids (sorry, Kodak!), but when you have the ability to take great, quality photos at any given moment, why not? I'm not sure if all kids like their photos being taken, but Zac seems to enjoy it. I've learned that you can't take too many. There are moments when she is doing something wild, like rolling around, blowing raspberries out of control, or dancing up a storm and I end up using the burst feature on my phone, only to end up saving ALL of them. It's a problem. 

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