This week, we sit down with the Robinsons and discuss twinning, La Brea (because why wouldn’t we), and Haley’s love of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. We also created a brand new musical which we swear is the next big thing.
We discuss the climate change report that is giving Ali anxiety, more news on La Brea (quickly becoming an audience favorite), & can 36 questions really make you fall in love with someone?
Links to articles discussed:
Our son Jake is a huge fan of Jurassic Park. All five of them. At barely 2.5 years of age, he has somehow become obsessed with the film franchise. He absolutely loves all things dinosaurs, has asked us to call him “Tim” (Dr. Hammond’s grandson from the original movie), and has us play the theme song on repeat. So like all parents of an only child, we went out of our way to make his wildest dreams come true… on a budget. Now we are not the first ones to do this. With a simple google search, you can find a ton of really cool ‘Cozy Coupe Makeover’ ideas. We read a few different blogs from people who went with the Jurassic Park idea and took our own stab at it.
For around $35 (spare the change), we were able to turn our Little Tykes Cozy Coupe into a Jake-sized Jurassic Park Jeep and here’s how:
First you will need the following items:
-2 cans of tan spray paint
-1 can of red spray paint
-two Jurassic Park vinyl stickers
-trash bags and cardboard (optional)
-a Cozy Coupe (if you don’t already have one)
See instructions below:
Step 1: Sand down the Cozy Coupe and clean off any debris.
Step 2: Cover the wheels and the steering wheel with trash bags to keep them paint-free.
Step 3: Use the tan paint to paint the coupe (we suggest two coats). Let dry for an hour or two.
Step 4: Using painter’s tape, tape off the red stripes of the jeep.
(You will also need to cover the body of the car with trash bags or cardboard to keep the red spray paint from spraying onto the tan portion of the cab.)
Step 5: Attach the stickers and viola! You are ready to get attacked by a T-Rex, try and escape the velociraptors, or simple stare in awe as your set your eyes on a brachiosaurus (with the theme song in the background of course!).
Hello hello hello!
Well, I think we can all agree that 2020 was NOT the year we all thought it would be. With a global pandemic, a contentious election, racial injustice, a crashed economy, and the ‘In The Heights’ movie getting pushed back a full year, its been a doozy (and there are still a few weeks left!). As I think back on all 2020 has given us, it’s depressing… and it didn’t spare the Batirs. In April, we saw the oil futures plunge into the negatives for the first time in history, dashing all hope for Joe to find a job in the oil and gas industry in the near future. With his grant ending in May, we anxiously waited to see what the Lord had in store for us. The SMU Geothermal lab was able to keep Joe on until November at a reduced salary which was a huge blessing and a humbling reminder that we were some of the lucky ones. Many friends lost their jobs, had their salaries reduced, etc as the country tightened its belt. Then in September, Joe hydroplaned on the tollway wrecking his car. We definitely did not have a new car in the budget and though sharing a car was doable, it would prove tricky. But faithful friends rallied around us and offered their extra car at a price that met exactly what we had to spend. It seems that they wouldn’t be needing it anymore now that the pandemic moved his job remote permanently. A blessing in disguise for them and for us. As November approached, we watched as more and more layoffs were announced. Joe applied for the few job openings we could find but truly his options were limited. After praying and looking at the books, we decided that the best option for our family is for Joe to go out on his own as an independent contractor. We filed all the paperwork and Joe officially has his own consulting company, JoeCo Geosciences, LLC, and, by the grace of God, a few clients. With that said, 2021 will prove to be an interesting year for us as a family but we are trusting that the Lord will continue to be in control of it all. Huge shout out to our friends and our amazing family who has supported us through everything. We couldn’t have done it without you.
2020, with all its drama and mayhem, proved to be a year where we stripped everything to the bare bones. No fluff and no distractions. It has forced us to see the mundane as blessings and the blessings as privileges. But most importantly, it has shown us that we can’t take anything for granted. So as we put a bow on this present no one wanted, it’s my hope that amidst the sorrow and disappointments of this year, we can all look around and see the blessings we have in spite of it all. So from our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and good riddance to 2020.
If you’re like us, we have been going on lots of walks around our neighborhood during the Shelter-In-Place order. It’s been really fun to discover new places just blocks away and many quirky aspects of living in the Vickery Place historical district. Not sure if it’s all in my head, but with the drastic decrease in street traffic, I’ve noticed nature exploding everywhere. It’s is all around us! And in the midst of all the trees, plants and wildlife, you can find hidden jewels of edible plants right in your own neighborhood if you know what you’re looking for.
Firstly, I think it goes without saying that YOU SHOULD NOT EAT ANYTHING THAT YOU AREN’T SURE ABOUT. There are tons of poisonous and toxic plants out there so be smart and educate yourself. There are many resources available for free that can help you identify edible plants. My personal favorite is the Google Image search which you can access using your smart phone. We also have a great book called Foraging with Kids that is available on Amazon. Also, don’t trespass onto private property. Anything on the street side of the sidewalk is fair game but if you aren’t sure, just knock on the door and ask permission. Most people don’t mind if you pick a berry or two from front yard shrubbery and most people aren’t even aware of the edible plants in their own yards. Just be kind and use your common sense. Below are a few edible plants found in our neighborhood that could very well be in yours… if you know where to look!
Mulberries are delicious berries similar to blackberries but less sour. There are surprisingly a lot of mulberry trees in our neighborhood (two on our street alone) and I have to keep Jake from scooping up handfuls off the sidewalk and shoving them into his mouth. You can use mulberries for pies, jams, yogurt toppings, or just eat them by themselves. They are easy to pick and easy to eat!
In Texas, you can find pecan trees literally everywhere. We have one in our backyard and have a neighborhood who invites Jake to pick them off her lawn (free child labor). They are ready to eat when they fall on the ground. Just don’t wait too long to pick them or they will start to rot. You can roast them, make pecan pies, or add them to homemade trail-mix. As you can see, Jake is annoyed with me because I’m not cracking the pecan open quick enough… calm down child.
Just across the street is a Mexican plum tree. When the fruit is ready to pick, it’s covered with a dust which is actually yeast that you can use to make all that sourdough bread you all have been making during quarantine. Just don’t eat the pits. They are toxic.
“But Ali, there are no fruit trees or nut trees in my neighborhood!”
Well, my friends, those dandelions that your kid picks and blows are edible. EVERY PART OF IT, even the flower. So grab some dandelions and throw them into your dinner salad. They taste like arugula so they add a nice punch to your otherwise boring run-of-the-mill salad.
Everyone uses rosemary. EVERYONE. This herb grows great in Texas climate and is a shrub often used in xeriscaping or native landscaping for homes and businesses (we even have rosemary in our front yard). You can use it to season pasta sauce, meat, in salad dressing, use it to make your bathroom smell nice…. Just one sprig goes a long way and we happily invite anyone to come forage some of ours…. PLEASE. IT’S TAKING OVER.
Cactus (Prickly Pear)
Cactus. It’s spiky but apparently delicious! Now, we have never eaten cacti, mainly because we don’t know how to prepare it, but cacti is actually used in many different cultures’ cuisines. You can eat the pads and you can eat the cactus blossoms (purple bulbs), which are commonly called prickly pears. Cacti is another plant that is commonly used in Texas landscaping. There are many in our neighborhood including our front yard. We have seen multiple people drive up and chop off pads. Our neighbor was nice enough to actually ask us for some which we happily gave him. Just a perfect example of why you should ask permission. It can be scary when someone shows up with a machete and is hacking at your cactus. Not so scary when you know them and know what they are doing.
Figs are underrated fruits. Joe and I never ate them until we took a fig cooking class at Central Market which was a GAME CHANGER. Figs are great and super versatile! You can make jams, fig bars, stuff them in a chicken with goat cheese, dry them for trail mix, eat them raw, and many many other things! I was shocked to find so many fig trees around Dallas and a lot in our neighborhood. There was a large fig tree on the corner of Greenville Avenue and Belmont Avenue that we used to pick fruit off of but sadly it was demolished when they developed that corner into a restaurant… However, there are a few scattered throughout our neighborhood and in other neighborhoods around Dallas, even one on the Katy Trail. We have one in a pot in our backyard that we haven’t quite found the perfect place for.
So how do your forage in your own neighborhood? Honestly, just start exploring. Look up and around. Take in your surroundings. Ask questions… do you know what kind of tree that is? Look it up! See a berry? Google it. I bet you’ll be surprised to see what you can find. In fact, let me know what you find in the comments below!
When we put cloth diapers on our baby registry, people thought we were crazy. We were told that we would never be able to keep up with it and were encouraged to throw in the towel before we even started. On the other hand, we met die hard cloth enthusiasts who shunned anyone who would even think of using non recyclable materials on their children’s bodies, not to mention the carbon footprint that disposable diapers leave behind. Joe and I tried to settle on a happy medium and have chosen what we think is a realistic approach to sustainable diapering. Parenting is hard enough as it is without making it more complicated. So I wanted to share with you how we have incorporated cloth diapers into our busy life while still maintaining our sanity.
Are cloth diapers really that complicated?
For most of us, the idea of cloth diapers seems DAUNTING. I know when Joe suggested it when we got pregnant, I was a bit hesitant. “You want me to wrap Jake’s butt in a handkerchief and safety pin it together without stabbing him!?” But here we are over a year later still using cloth diapers and really loving it. Cloth diapers have come a LONG way since safety pins and handkerchiefs. There are a ton of brands who make washable diapers with snaps (no safety pins!) that make changing a wriggling baby a breeze. These diapers come in all kinds of adorable prints and include absorbent inserts to soak up whatever your kiddo decides to expel from his body that day. ALVABABY is a great brand that we really enjoy.
We bought three sets of 6 diapers and do a load of diaper laundry on Wednesdays and Sundays. Each set can run $30-$50 (depending on the brand) but the investment really pays off. You could easily buy more sets to allow for only one laundry day a week and not have to dig too deep into your pockets money-wise.
Do you use them 100% of the time?
When Jake was first born, we used disposable diapers for the first few months because we were given so many diapers from friends and family. I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about cleaning cloth diapers during this time because newborns go to the bathroom CONSTANTLY.
Would it have been impossible to use 100% cloth? No… but it would have been a challenge. Especially because the cloth diapers feel wetter than disposable diapers if you sit in them long enough. Jake would last longer in a disposable diaper than the few times we used cloth and this was extremely evident during nighttime.
14 months later, we use both cloth and disposable diapers. Jake sleeps exclusively in disposable diapers (we use Hello Bello diapers which is an affordable sustainable baby brand) and we use cloth during the day. We also don’t expect baby sitters or Sunday school volunteers to change a cloth diaper so we use disposables during those times too. Essentially, we aren’t chained to the idea of cloth diapers. We LOVE them and find them easy to use and a money saver in the long run but we realize that in the modern world, sometimes you just gotta use a disposable diaper.
Are they easy to clean? (HOW GROSS IS IT?!)
This is probably the question I get the most. The best way I can describe it is this: If you think the Nose Frida is gross, then cloth diapers are not for you. Otherwise, with babies, you get covered with poop a lot anyway so you get used to it. We keep all the dirty/wet diapers in a bag by the changing table and wash them twice a week. For poops, we put as much of it as possible in the toilet right after we change Jake and then wash them out before putting them into the washing machine. Otherwise, cloth diapers are easy to clean. We wash them three times before drying. One rinse cycle. One cycle with bleach and detergent. One final rinse cycle to make sure all the bleach residue is gone. BOOM, dryer time!
When we first started, we were honestly winging it and didn’t realize that cloth diapers require a little bit more TLC. We didn’t use bleach at the beginning and Jake ended up getting a yeast rash, which is really common with cloth diapers. Its harmless and doesn’t hurt but can look terrible. A couple days in disposables and it goes away but thats when we did the research and started bleaching them during every wash. Haven’t had a problem since!
Is it worth it?
Yes. It is.
We go through approximately 40 cloth diapers in a week and do two loads per week. At $0.31 a Hello Bello diaper, we are saving $12/week. We have been using them for roughly 50 weeks, saving us $600 that we would have had to spend on disposable diapers. We haven’t seen a noticeable increase in our water bill but we also have a high efficiency washing machine where you can select load size and we run the diaper loads on the lowest water setting.
If you aren’t sold already, I’ve done some research and kids who use cloth diapers tend to have an easier time potty training. So that’s a plus.
They also have extra padding for when your kiddo is learning to walk so they soften the blow a bit and help your toddler get back to toddling.
Lastly, you never run out. Period. There is never a time when Joe and I have had to
run to the store at 3 AM because we need more diapers. If a snow storm hit Dallas (never going to happen) and all the roads were closed but we needed diapers. We would be covered. If a zombie apocalypse happens (more likely than a snow storm),
people will be hunting us down just to steal the cloth diapers from us. They will be the new form of currency. Mark my words.
At the end of the day, if you are still planning on being a disposable diaper user, that’s fine. Cloth diapers aren’t for everyone and I won’t call you a planet killer for not using them. But I hope I was able to make them seem a little less daunting and a little more possible to fit into your world. The last thing parents need is to be shamed for their choices especially when, in the grand scheme of things, those choices have to do with poop.
DISCLAIMER: All pictures of Jake in a cloth diaper are bad photos because the kid won’t sit still for photos anymore. So enjoy and let me know in the comments if you are a fellow cloth diaper family or if you have any more questions!
This morning, Jake and I were outside playing in the backyard, taking full advantage of the unseasonably cooler morning temperatures. I was sitting and enjoying my iced coffee while he toddled about the yard. As a new walker, I sit in the balance of letting him explore his new found independence while trying to keep him from smashing his face into the hard concrete. It can be difficult at times to allow him to hurt himself, knowing he won’t fully learn how to walk unless he knows how to fall. So I sat. Half relaxed and half ready to scoop him up at a moments notice. As Jake played, a bumblebee appeared. An intruder of our backyard haven. I jumped up ready to swat him away if he veered to close. Jake, on the other hand, was mesmerized. He was fascinated by this buzzing creature, a new addition to his tiny world. He watched in a trance until the bee got closer and then reached out with his chubby little hand. I immediately snatched him up. Perplexed, he writhed in my arms, trying to touch his new friend. I explained to him that this little bee, though cute, had a stinger and that if provoked, he would sting his little arm and it would hurt. But all Jake could see was something new and exciting… something he wanted to touch. In that moment, I realized that the next seventeen years will be filled with many moments just like that. Those moments will range from simple explanations of the dangers of a backyard bumblebee to life’s more complex subjects. And as I was lost in thought, I got a bit sad. The bee buzzed away in his quest for a flower and Jake went back to exploring the yard. But Jake’s little life had flashed before my eyes and the realization of his autonomy and free will hit me like a load of bricks. He won’t be a toddler forever (I’ve already accepted that). But the many life lessons yet to come seemed daunting. As his parents, we are tasked to train him and equip him. To get him ready for the big wide world beyond the backyard. We can have great conversations. Give him sage wisdom and deep insights learned from our own lives but, ultimately, the choice to apply that wisdom is up to him. We have no control over his life choices and, if I’m honest, that can be a hard pill to swallow at times. At the end of the day, Jake is a sinner just like me. He will be faced with moral quandaries and tough choices. He will be tempted by all the bumblebees of the world and will probably get stung more than once as he grows into the man he wants to be. Just as I can’t catch Jake every time he falls now, I have to allow him to make his own mistakes and learn his own lessons. The next seventeen years will be full of joy and probably some pain but thats how we grow. But for now, I choose to soak up our backyard adventures, watching my little person take his first steps in the wonderful journey we call life.
I am no expert at being a mom. By a LONG SHOT. However, I do pride myself on being an expert on frugality and finding free stuff. When I was pregnant with Jake I stumbled upon the crazy awesome world of “pregnancy boxes”: boxes of free items and samples for new and pregnant moms. A ton of companies will give you free swag just for being pregnant (and obviously in hopes that you will buy more stuff). We took advantage of all the freebies we could find and it helped us through the first 3 months of Jake’s life and a few of the items we still use over a year later! So below are my favorite (and FREE) pregnancy freebies!
Babylist is a really cool baby registry website that lets you sync all your registries onto one place AND it lets you put items from websites that don’t have registries like your favorite boutique baby clothing store. All you have to do is create a registry on the Babylist website and post one of two items on it. I didn’t even share the registry with anyone so it took me a total of 5 min. This was one of my favorite freebies. The items are high quality and not always just samples. We ended up getting a free onesie and a sun hat (which Jake still wears!) amongst all the samples.
- Amazon Baby Box
Amazon’s freebies were honestly the BEST and valued up to $35. However, its a little bit more complicated to get them… You need to do the following:
- Create your Amazon Baby Registry.
- Sign up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial.
- Add products to your Baby Registry.
- Purchase $10 worth of eligible products from your registry (or have someone by something off your registry… which will happen the second you have a shower)
- Claim your Welcome Box!
This Box contained a lot of cool items but the highlights for me were a muslin swaddle and an Avent 4 oz bottle. You can check out The Gentle Nursery’s blog on what they got in theirs for more proof that going through the extra steps is totally worth it!
This one is SUPER easy to get. All you have to do is make is registry online or in store (which most people do anyways) and go to the Guest Services desk and ask for your free gift. BOOM. They claim it’s $80 worth of stuff, and though I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, some of the items require you to contact the company directly and pay shipping to receive…. is that really free? HOWEVER, I still got a ton of great samples as well as full sized products like a Dr. Brown Natural Flow bottle (which are NOT CHEAP) and it comes in a cute reuseable tote bag. So Target… you did good.
- Buy Buy Baby
Just like Target, all you have to do is make a baby registry (you really just have to add one item, they don’t even check) and then go to Guest Services to collect your goody bag. Honestly… I wasn’t a fan of BuyBuyBaby’s bag and with the nearest location being 25 minutes away, it wasn’t worth my time. BUT it did have some good samples and gives you a coupon.
- The Baby Box Co.
Ok… so I’ve gotten a couple looks for this one but I promise you, it’s awesome. The Baby Box Co. provides FREE literal baby boxes. To sleep in. Having your baby sleep in a box next to your bed is the norm in Finland (the hospital gives you a box when you leave with your baby!) but in the U.S. people think it’s weird. The website explains the history the best so he is an excerpt:
A Baby Box is a Finnish tradition dating back to 1938. In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high. Enter: the Baby Box program—a state led initiative to give expectant mothers the tools they need to raise a healthy, happy baby. And, it works! The initiative, which enables every expecting woman in the country to get a Baby Box once she receives prenatal care and parenting information from a healthcare professional, is credited with helping to decrease Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013.
Well, the Batir Family has never been a normal family and we eagerly signed up for our free baby box and mattress and Jake slept in it for the first 4 months of his life until he outgrew it.
This one isn’t the easiest to get (we were DETERMINED). You have to watch a few videos on the BabyBoxCo website that teaches you baby safety and then you have to pick your box up from one of their local partners. It also comes with some free samples so needless to say, we were pumped.
There are more ways to get freebies like diapers and kids books, but these were my favorites and the ones I deemed worthy of my time. No shipping costs, no subscription sign ups. Just all American free stuff! If you find any other cool freebie boxes, let me know! I’ll definitely be signing up again for kid #2 when that happens. ENJOY!
For the last 2 years, Joe has been ‘in transition’. Which is a fancy way of saying ‘unemployed but looking’… ANXIOUSLY. After graduating with his PhD in May 2017, its been a rough road to a full time job in the oil and gas industry. We navigated the path God set out for us as best as we could which led us to our beautiful son and Joe’s season as a stay at home dad. Though Joe has rocked this role out of the park, we have been working toward employing him and having me stay at home.
As of July 19th, our goal became reality. Joe has taken a ‘Post Doc’ position at the Southern Methodist University geothermal lab and I have resigned from my property management position and will be taking up residence as a stay-at-home mom. With this shift, there will be a lot of changes. We ultimately don’t know where the post doc will lead. In the next year, we could be moving across the country, the world, or the street. We are leaving the life we have known for the past 7 years and embarking on our next adventure. SCARY stuff, people!
So I’d like to ask the masses to be praying for us as we make this transition. It will be an adjustment for all of us! For Jake not to see his dad all day, for Joe not to see Jake all day and be running the geothermal project, and for me as I adjust to stay-at-home motherhood after coming from a very fast-pace, high-stress career.
Also… any current stay at home moms: give me a call!
We recently were given the opportunity to try “The Super Spoon” from The Evolved Parent Company. This awesome company was founded with a simple mission in mind: to make the lives of parents just a little simpler. Jake is still trying to figure out utensils so I was pumped to try this spoon. This self-feeding spoon has a soft handle and good-sized silicone bowl that allows your kiddo to easily feed himself. I was skeptical at first but turns out, this is the only spoon that Jake has been able to properly use!
First things first: the packaging. Anyone else out there hate when companies require you to have ninja skills to open up the plastic packaging? I have spent hours wrestling with plastic and scissors trying to get things open. Thankfully this product was SUPER easy to open which was very much appreciated by this mamma. The spoons themselves are SUPER soft. The handle is firm but easy to hold and the silicone bowls are flexible and easily to move around a tiny mouth.
The bowl is a decently large sized bowl so this spoon is perfect for yogurt, oatmeal, and eventually soup (when we get brave enough to try!). We used it for steamed veggies, which worked, but since the bowl is so deep, Jake decided to use his hands to get the remnants out of the scoop. Despite the user error on our part, Jake loved using this spoon. Not only is it a great starter spoon but it also acts as a teether! Which God knows we need right now. After he was finished with his dinner, Jake was happily chomping his gums on the bowl as we cleaned everything up.
You can find The Super Spoon on amazon at www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RV62PKQ. OR you can buy it straight off The Evolved Parent website and use Promo Code “SUPERLAUNCH” for 50% !