Showering a mom-to-be with gifts is a tradition that dates back to ancient times. In modern culture, the baby shower is a staple for a first-time-mom. Though recently, some millennials have started throwing diaper parties for dads. As with all things related to gifting and soliciting gifts, this begs the question: Is a diaper party tacky? Should I have a diaper party, and if so, what is the accepted etiquette?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Is a Diaper Party Tacky

What is a diaper party?

A diaper party is a new social gathering gaining popularity among young parents. The goal of a diaper party is to stockpile diapers by requesting each attendee contribute a case of diapers. Diaper parties are typically for men only.

I’ll make no bones about where I stand on this issue. A diaper party is tacky.

First, stockpiling diapers before your little one is born is not beneficial, and you can read all about that here.

Second, soliciting gifts from and friends is never a good look. Society is shifting such that more people are becoming increasingly centered around themselves and meeting their own needs. This shift has become so pervasive and widely accepted that people behaving in this way don’t see themselves as acting selfishly because it has become the norm in some circles.

Having a diaper party or having a raffle-style donation at a baby shower is like asking people to buy you more gifts.

Many people love to give gifts, but that quickly vanishes when the person receiving the gifts seems greedy, ungrateful, or expectant. Giving gifts is an act of love, not an act of obligation. If someone wants to gift diapers, they will. And if they don’t, it is in poor taste to conjure up a situation in which they are expected or outright asked to gift diapers.

The very worst thing you could do is throw a diaper party for yourself (or your dad-to-be).

This feels icky just writing about. It would be like throwing your own birthday party or baby shower. It is just tacky. There’s no way around it.

If someone offers to throw the dad-to-be a diaper party, there is a lot to consider.

Can you politely decline and explain your reasons for not wanting a diaper party? (Try “That is such a generous offer! We are actually going to hold off on stockpiling diapers until we can see which ones our baby tolerates the best.” Or, “That is so thoughtful! We are so overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family who have already showered us with gifts for our baby, and we cannot possibly accept anything more!” Or, “The most important thing to us is having loving family and friends to support our baby! Instead of a diaper party, let’s have a gathering once the baby is born, so everyone can spend time together and get to know our new little bundle!”)

If there is no way to politely decline the offer of someone else throwing your dad-to-be a diaper party, you must consider the guest list. Just as with a baby shower, you should invite only close family and friends with whom you normally exchange gifts (birthday gifts, holiday gifts, etc.). And of course, be sure to follow all of the standard party etiquette below.

If you have a diaper party thrown in your honor

  • keep the guest list small
  • make it clear on the invite that diaper donations are much appreciated but not expected
  • convey your sincere thanks at the party to each guest who attends
  • send hand-written thank you notes to each guest who attended regardless of whether or not they gifted diapers

What can be done instead of a diaper party?

  • Encourage the new dad to have a celebration with his friends that would have attended the diaper party. They can trade advice or funny stories about being a dad.
  • Have a small party after the baby is born so family and friends can meet them. If people are organically moved to give a gift, they will give one.
  • Use the opportunity to promote the idea of time over money. Start expressing to friends and family early that you value them spending time with your little one over giving them material gifts.
  • If the new dad feels excluded, throw out the the idea of a female-only baby shower and have a unisex baby shower instead.

I hope this helps you navigate the difficult social waters surrounding gifting!

Mom on!

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When considering toys to buy for my kids, I am constantly considering safety and longevity. Toys for the bath tub are no different. There is an underwhelming regard of bath toy safety from toy manufacturers and retailers which puts an extra burden on parents to inform themselves about what is safe and what is not.

While you read, keep in mind that manufacturing companies and retailers do not do a parent’s job, and they certainly don’t have a parent’s discerning skepticism and desire to protect fueling their business models. Their job is not to keep tiny humans safe. Their job is to make money. Just because certain toys are still sold does not mean they are safe for children (just look at how many companies still produce and sell crib bumpers which the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American SIDS Institute issued strong warnings against in 2016). As with all products, particularly those for children, be sure to always do your homework!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Alright now that my cynicism and distrust has been aired, another factor that’s not always considered when purchasing toys is longevity. Will this toy grow with my kids, or will they tire of it after a few months? Is the quality such that it will last? Parents often fall into the trap of buying something their child wants NOW. But sometimes, even though that toy is enjoyed in the moment, the draw quickly fades and the toy ends up in the bottom of the toy box or donation bin.

Over the past few years I have focused on only purchasing toys with longevity, and I have found a lot of success and undoubtedly saved a good amount of money.

Read on for more info on bath toy safety and reviews of several bath toys so you can decide what’s worth your money and what’s not.

Bath toy safety

Safety concerns

  • Choking
  • Harmful ingredients
  • Mold

Bath toys NOT to buy

Toys that squirt

Do you remember back in 2016 when parents across the US and Canada were discovering mold in Tommee Tippee sippy cups? The issue was that there were parts of the valve that could never be completely dried and constant moisture causes mold to develop and grow.

Two years ago, I cut open one of our soft rubber water-squirting bath toys similar to those pictured below, and guess what I found: mold. The mold wasn’t there because the toys were never cleaned but because the insides could never dry. The tiny hole in the bottom that squirts water also prevents airflow, traps water, and doesn’t allow the toy to dry. Water and moisture are constantly sitting in there breeding mold and the worst part is you can’t see it!

Toys with tubes/small crevices/hard-to-clean areas (and batteries??)

The issue with the tubes, small crevices, and hard-to-clean areas follows the exact same principals mentioned above for toys that squirt water. But who thought it was a solid idea to make bath toys battery powered?? Is that really necessary? My kids are in the bathtub for all of 15 minutes, and I am certain they can survive 15 minutes without an electronic toy.

Bath products with harmful ingredients

There are definitely people who have accused me of being uppity and paranoid for the way that I choose what products are acceptable for my children. That’s all fine, and I understand all parents have different views. So I won’t get on my soapbox (tub joke!) except to say that I urge you to read about the ingredients in the following bath products and make sure they’re up to your standards before using them with your children.

  • bath paint/crayons
  • bath bombs
  • bubble bath, shampoo, body wash, soap (generally speaking, the cheap brands and novelty bottles are the worst offenders)
  • color-changing tablets.

Now that you know what to be on the lookout for, let’s move on to the good guys!

Bath toys that are good in my book

Stacking cups

I have gifted these with every baby shower gift I’ve attended over the last three years and recommended them to all of my parent friends. This set of plastic stacking cups is a great Montessori toy for endless scooping and dumping both in and out of the tub.

They are made of one solid piece with no crevices for mold to grow in. My only suggestion is don’t nest them together after bath time. Instead, I throw them separately into our little toy net so they can dry. If you nest them down together while they’re wet, mold will start to grow. Remember: the name of the game is letting toys dry out completely.

I throw them in the dishwasher every couple weeks to keep them clean. I also have a couple sets we take camping because cleaning them is so easy. My kids have played with these consistently from infancy through toddlerhood. They stack, they nest, they clean well, and they’re cheap. What’s not to like? Check them out on Amazon. 

Boon Jellies suction cup toys

From the makers of the ever-popular Boon Grass, this set of bath jellies is a kid and parent win win. These colorful jellies are fun, safe, and easy to clean.

My kids love sticking them to the shower walls, underwater on the bottom of the tub (swimming jellies!), and to each other to create little jelly towers. My toddler likes counting and sorting these by color, as well as creating shapes and patterns by sticking them on the shower wall in different groups, and my infant can easily hold, splash, clank, and gnaw them. AND they come in a set of 9 so there are enough to go around when I’ve got both kids in the tub. Plus the bright, jewel-tone colors look really neat when wet, and they’re just plain cute.

Another super fun Montessori toy for the tub (and maybe the pool once summer hits!). Check them out on Amazon.

And that’s it! We have had other bath toys that have not stood the test of time. These boats were easy to clean but really hard for little hands to connect plus they sank easily). My kids are super happy with these two sets of bath toys and are always coming up with new, imaginative ways to play with them.

Above all, just make sure your kids’ bath toys are not harboring mold. If you aren’t sure, cut the toy apart and check the inside. Or just toss them and invest in something new that you know if safe and will stand the test of time!

Mom on!

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Welcome to the second post in our Minimalist Pregnancy Prep series. If you missed the first post of the series, click here to read about what you ACTUALLY need on your baby registry. Let’s discuss all the details of preparing disposable diapers for baby and all of the diaper don’ts.

Here’s a thought to get us started: Would you order a year’s worth of coffee you’ve never tried just so that you didn’t have to be bothered to buy coffee for a year? Of course not. Substitute any important product into that scenario and you’ll likely come up with a similar answer.

The bottom line is: most of us would not stockpile products that we are unfamiliar with. Things we stockpile tend to be items we love and things we know we will use. Usually, the reason for stockpiling is that you come across a fantastic bargain on a product you love at an abnormally low price, so you buy a whole bunch. This makes sense because you’re saving money on something you would buy and use anyway. Or maybe there is a specialty store that you don’t visit often, so you stock up on their items a few times a year. This makes sense because you’re saving yourself time and aggravation by preventing the need to make an extra trip out of your way. But creating a stockpile of items you’re unfamiliar with and are easily obtained (can be purchased at most grocery, pharmacy, and big box stores) isn’t an efficient task.   

Minimalist Pregnancy Diaper Don'ts

Diaper Don’ts

Don’t stock up on diapers or create a complete “diaper stockpile” before your baby is born. I have seen countless articles and infographics on Pinterest advising you on how many of each size diaper you need to stock up on before your baby is born.

That is not sound advice for every mom

I don’t believe that that there are moms out there purposefully passing on bad information. Things probably went smoothly for those moms and their babies, so they aren’t aware of the issues other babies and moms face with diapers. This is great for them, but not great for the mom who may spend hours couponing, shopping, stacking, and organizing a year’s worth of diapers because someone promised her that diaper stockpiling was a genius idea only to find out those carefully prepped diapers won’t work for her baby.

What IS sound advice for every mom preparing for a new baby is to keep your options and your mind open. Wait to see what products will work for your baby before purchasing anything in bulk.

Downsides of diaper stockpiling

Fits of different brands or different product lines of the same brand might not work well for your baby. In general, all diapers have give and stretch to them. But some have more or less stretch, some fit higher or lower up back and belly, and some have more or less room built in for expansion of the hydrogel.

Also your baby may grow out of sizes quickly or stay in some sizes longer than the average baby. In which case someone else’s chart of how many of each size diaper worked for their baby will be completely different for your baby. No one’s baby is average in any way. Certainly there is a general growth curve that most infants follow, but by no means does every baby grow at the same rate. This makes it difficult to accurately predict how long your baby will be in each weight range for diaper sizing. There is also an average amount of wet and dry diapers that babies tend to produce by age, but you might have an above average producer of dirty diapers (congratulations!).

Another diaper variable is that certain brands are better than others for your baby in terms of absorption and containment. Blowouts are inevitable, but some babies constantly blow out in certain brands but not others. I believe this is probably all tied to the fit of the diaper on your precious individual’s bottom, and whether your baby tends to hold it all in and go at once or go frequently in smaller amounts. You won’t know this until you meet your little pumpkin.

A less likely downside of diaper stockpiling is that your baby could be allergic to a certain ingredient in disposable diapers.

Ingredients in diapers that can cause an allergic reaction on the skin (diaper dermatitis) or other irritation:

  • diaper fibers (although cotton-specific allergy is rare)
  • hydrogel (absorbent gel used to soak up liquid – also goes by the names Super Absorbent Polymer [SAP], sodium polyacrylate, Absorbent Gel Material [AGM], and others)
  • plastics
  • dyes
  • fragrance
  • preservatives

A baby’s symptoms of a diaper allergy can include redness, swelling, itching, pain, fussiness, raw skin, and general discomfort. Allergic reaction to ingredients in disposable diapers is not very common. However, in some ways it mimics the symptoms of diaper rash which can make it hard to identify. A process of trial-and-error with different brands usually takes place until a non-allergy-inducing brand is found.

More likely than a full-blown allergy is just the simple fact that different brands work for different families, and you will very likely find a brand that you love that works better for your baby. And you probably won’t know what that brand is until you’ve tried a few different ones.

Exchanging and returning diapers

Most stores will exchange unopened diapers if you need to swap out sizes. For this reason, I never open a box of diapers until I’m ready to use it.

Some stores will offer store credit if you return unopened diapers without a receipt. The tricky part here is that you often need to know what store the diapers were purchased from. Grocery stores, pharmacies, baby stores, big box stores, and club stores sell different pack-ups of diapers. For example, you might only find a 236 count box of size 3 Pampers Baby Dry only at Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club or similar club stores. (Also you usually need a membership to exchange merchandise at a club store). Target might only sell Pampers Baby Dry size 3 in boxes of 180 or smaller. Store will not take a return or exchange unless the item is absolutely identical to the item they sell.

Being stuck with boxes of brand new diapers you can’t use or exchange is a real bummer. Diapers are expensive! You don’t want your hard-earned money or someone else’s sitting in a box in the closet waiting for your guilt to dissipate enough to donate them. 

If you are trying to return or exchange diapers that you received as a gift, you could try downloading an app like ShopSavvy which allows you to scan the barcode and then lists a number of online and local stores that sell the product. I have found that this is not reliable 100% of the time, but it does work to some extent.

More products to hold off on stockpiling:

  • diaper cream
  • lotion
  • baby wash or shampoo
  • healing balm
  • wipes
  • baby’s laundry detergent

It’s very likely that you will identify your favorite products for you baby through trial and error. Don’t invest yourself heavily into a ton of product you may end up not using. 

HOWEVER, I am not an unrealistic person. I realize that you both want and need to be prepared.

My suggestion is to buy a small pack of size 1 diapers in a brand that is sustainable to you (cost-wise). Don’t buy a small pack of the most expensive organic, environmentally friendly diapers to try out if your budget won’t allow you to continue to buy that brand. Buy ONE each of the items above (diaper creams, laundry detergent, etc.) and then wait and see how your baby reacts to it. Use it and see if it’s effective and if you like it. THEN after the brands have passed your scrutinizing mom test, go ahead and stock up to your heart’s content!

Many people want to have every. possible. thing. ready for their baby, and that is fine. Just be sure you’re not setting yourself up for more aggravation down the road! 

Mom on!


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What is castile soap, and why should I care?

People in the US are becoming increasingly more discerning and aware of the ingredients in everything from food to beauty products to cleansers to clothing. This is a material society, and we have been conditioned to think we need to buy a million products to be truly clean. We need shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, face wash, hand wash, body wash, and bar soap to clean our bodies plus laundry soap, fabric softener, scent beads, liquid bleach, and stain remover to clean our clothes. We need toilet cleaner, surface cleaner, glass and window cleaner, antibacterial cleaner, dusting and furniture polish, dish soap, dishwasher soap packets, scouring powder, and carpet cleaner to clean our homes. AND we need air fresheners, aerosol sprays, fabric refreshers, candles, and wall plug-ins so our houses smell clean. The list is dizzying. The cost is staggering. And if you stop to think about every ingredient in each one of those products, you might really start to question what you’re spritzing, spraying, and scrubbing on every surface of your home and yourself every single day.

Now with the “Why should I care?” question answered, what is castile soap?  

What is castile soap?

Castile soap (pronounced cast-eel not “tile” like the tile on your kitchen floor) is a type of soap that is

  • vegan (vegetable-oil based and contains NO animal products)
  • nontoxic
  • biodegradable
  • natural (meaning it doesn’t contain synthetic ingredients)
  • versatile
  • most commonly liquid (but can also be found in a bar soap)

A Brief History of Castile Soap

Castile soap originates from the Castile region (central) Spain and the Mediterranean as far back as the year 300. This type of soap was made primarily from olive oil and laurel oil (laurel leaves are commonly called bay leaves and are used as seasoning for soups and stews). See there. I told you it would be brief. 

How Does Castile Soap Clean?

The principal of how exactly soap cleans stuff (chemically speaking) is largely the same over most different types of soap, castile soap included.

Soap molecules have one end that is attracted to water and one end that repels water (but is attracted to dirt, grease, or other non-water soluble atoms or molecules). Think of the molecule as a tug-of-war: one side trying to get to the water, and one side trying to get to the grime. This “pulling” action is what loosens and removes grease and dirt from surfaces (clothing, skin, countertops, dishes, etc.) Once the grime has been removed from the surface, it is trapped in the soap molecule (like a snow globe). Since the tension on one side of the tug-of-war has stopped, the end that’s attracted to water takes over and joins together with H2O molecules. Now the grime is suspended in water and can be easily washed away. 

Understanding the principal of how soap works will make it clear why using antibacterial products is unnecessary and may give you more confidence in using milder cleansers.  Soap REMOVES grime, grease, dirt, and germs. Killing something that is going to be removed is redundant and unnecessary in many cases. I agree that there may be a time and place for bleach and harsh cleansers, but I don’t think it’s nearly as often as we are lead to believe. 

What can I clean with castile soap?

  • hands and body
  • hair (with a caveat to not use castile soap on color-treated hair or without conditioner)
  • clothing
  • produce (washing your fruits & veggies)
  • dishes (also effective on greasy things: stovetops, microwaves, mechanic’s hands)
  • pets and all of their stuff (beds, toys, harnesses, etc.)
  • sinks, bathtubs, toilets, floors, surfaces
  • minor cuts and scrapes
  • makeup brushes, soft-bristled hair and beard brushes

What NOT to do with castile soap:

Don’t combine castile soap with vinegar or lemon. Even though there are many recipes on Pinterest for “castile soap this that and the other,” do your homework before deciding to use someone’s recipe! You should never directly mix castile soap with an acidic agent because it leaves a very stubborn, noticeable white residue. Castile soap newbies often fall into this trap set by well-meaning yet uninformed authors and then fall off the castile soap bandwagon for life thinking its a bunch of crunchy hoopla. I repeat: don’t mix castile soap with vinegar or lemon (or lemon essential oil), or you will end up making more work for yourself! 

Don’t ignore the type of tap water you have (hard or soft). Hard water contains minerals that leave a white residue when combined with castile soap. Know your water first so you can better understand how to use castile soap most effectively in your home. 

Is castile soap baby-safe?

Yes. Castile soap is baby safe. The nontoxic and mild nature of castile soap makes it a good choice for sensitive skin. Almost all castile soap brands offer an unscented option. Unscented is a smart choice for babies since some scent agents (usually essential oils) can cause irritation for some little ones. Dr. Bronner’s offers a line of castile soap especially for babies

Castile soap use in hospitals

Many hospitals purchase individual castile soap packets and provide them in patients’ bathrooms for use during their hospital stay. Unscented castile soap is hypoallergenic, nontoxic, extremely versatile, and cost-effective. It’s the perfect choice to for an inexpensive, gentle clean. To me, this is a huge vote of confidence for the safety and effectiveness of castile soap use on the body. 

Castile soap, kids, and mom life

I never gave much thought to the cleaning products in my house until I had kids. Once I had a tiny human to care for, I started to wonder if spraying his high chair down with harsh chemicals was a great idea. That was the very beginning of my product and ingredient awareness. Since then, I have made many changes regarding what kind of products I use in my home and around my children. 

You can’t beat the peace of mind that comes with using nontoxic products. Plus, the list of products I spend my hard-earned money on has really dwindled. Finding safe products that serve many purposes is common sense! It helps my budget and relieves the aggravation of fitting 59 bottles of cleansers in the cabinet under my kitchen sink.

Another amazing benefit that never occurred to me until my son was older is that I have no worries about letting my kids help me clean! I know the products I’m using are safe for me, my kids, and my pets.  So yes, my child, grab that rag and help momma clean!


Alright time for me to get off my soap box. Oh my gosh I ended with a soap joke!!!

Mom on!



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Minimalism is all the rage these days, and many people are wondering how that idea fits in with the holiday gift-giving season. This year, my family is focusing on gifting experiences instead of things.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

We have two December birthdays in our house. Once you throw Christmas in there, December turns into a homier version of Toys R Us. And the thing is, my kids don’t really need more stuff. They have a bunch of toys they love. They have more clothes than they actually wear. As a family, we are sort of drowning in material items. This is actually true of our whole extended family. We always have a hard time choosing gifts for people because we all have what we need. We don’t need any more stuff. So this year, my husband and I are focusing on gifting experiences more than things like toys, gadgets, and clothes.

Family & Kids Gifts

  1. Family zoo or aquarium membership or passes
  2. Swim/dance/gymnastic/karate lessons
  3. Theme park tickets or season passes
  4. Disney theme park tickets or annual passes
  5. Concert/theater/orchestra tickets or local events (Disney On Ice, Paw Patrol meet and greet, etc.)
  6. Online or in-person classes and courses (sewing, painting, pottery, photography, graphic design, MasterClass, etc.)
  7. Camping reservations (we use Reserve America)
  8. Sporting even tickets or season passes
  9. Laser tag/mini golf/roller or ice skating rink passes
  10. Kids’ gym/bounce house passes
  11. Movie theater or drive-in tickets
  12. Local children’s/science/art museum or conservatory memberships
  13. Kindle gift card (you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books – just download the free app on any smart device)
  14. Weekend trip to a local indoor waterpark
  15. Local tour passes (get to know your community!)
  16. Adventure/Escape room tickets
  17. Helicopter/railroad tours or skydiving
  18. Netflix subscriptions
  19. Summer/adventure camp certificates
  20. Go kart track passes

Adult Gifts

  1. Winery/brewery/distillery tour passes
  2. Local food tour passes
  3. Couples massage
  4. Ghost hunt tours
  5. Consumable gifts such as wine, coffee, tea, spirits, or food
If you want to know what’s available in your area, search for “Things to do nearby” in an app like TripAdvisor or Yelp. That should help get the creative juices flowing!
I hope this helps you come up with some fun and meaningful ways to gift experiences and memories this holiday season! Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
Mom on!

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Once you add a baby to your family, you might at some point start to wonder if you should show affection toward your partner in front of your children. This is a common question many parents wonder about.

In short, the answer is yes. You should absolutely show affection toward your partner in front of your children to a certain extent.

Whether you do or don’t show affection toward your partner in front of your children will affect them not only in the present but also later in life. (Read more about how your marriage affects your children here).You have a lot of control when children are young to shape their behavior and expectations of others later in life. Putting appropriate affectionate gestures on display can teach children about respectful, loving, and fulfilling relationships. What you and your partner model for your children now will be echoed in their own behavior within their marriage and family.

One of the biggest ways children learn is through observational learning.

Observational learning occurs when children witness something, remember it, and call that information up later as a reference on what to do.
For example: a toddler picks up a cell phone (a remote, a toy phone, a banana) and puts it up to his ear. “Hello?” Thank you! OK. Bye bye!” This toddler was likely never directly taught what a phone was for or what to say while talking on it. However, after repeated observation of adults using the phone, the child has now learned what to do with it. This is a prime example of an outcome of observational learning. (Adults commonly practice observational learning as well. It’s the main reason tutorial videos on everything from how to fix your lawnmower to how to write a resume are so popular on YouTube.) We learn best by watching.
In showing affection toward your partner in front of your children, you teach them what a caring relationship looks like. You teach them not to be cold to one another but to openly show your love, appreciation, and respect for the person you care most about. They learn that showing affection for others and others showing affection for you is normal and healthy.

The caveat to this is that you must be conscientious of what is appropriate and what is not. You can set your child up to be a great partner to their spouse and search for a spouse who has positive qualities, BUT you can also do the exact opposite.

Some couples hide almost all affection from their children. They don’t hug or kiss their spouse in public or around their children. Kids who grow up in this kind of environment may think that affection isn’t normal or acceptable, or they may question whether their parents love each other. Later in life they may be uncomfortable showing affection or receiving it. That could pose a challenge in their inter-personal relationships.

Consider what is appropriate.

The caring and loving gestures I am writing about are not sexual. Sexually motivated gestures are inappropriate for display around children. This includes playful sexual comments and actions. Children who witness sexualized behavior are more likely to engage in sexually inappropriate behavior.
Go for respectful, supportive gestures such as (G rated) kissing, holding hands, hugging, compliments, and affirmations.
Don’t teach your children that kissing is “gross.” Kissing is not gross. It’s a gesture that is incredibly ingrained in humanity and one that is important to a healthy relationship. Instead of teaching that “kissing is gross,” have an open discussion about kissing (as is age appropriate). Think about the social structure within your family to determine what is appropriate. For example, some families only hug extended family members and don’t kiss, and some families peck everyone on the lips. Encourage your child’s choice to kiss someone. Don’t ever force your child to kiss family members or anyone else.
Love and affection are basic human needs for almost everyone. Showing affection toward your partner in front of your children can set the stage for successful relationships for your kids later in life and can help develop their social-emotional skills.
Mom on!

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Learn how to make extra money for the holidays starting today! That sounds salesy, but it’s not. This is just a review of my personal experience.
Today is Halloween, and you know what that means….. in a few hours my children are going to be sugared-up adorable little monsters, and also…. the holidays are around the corner! If you’re like me, you’ve probably already started some shopping or at least brainstormed for gifts. The inevitable question is now looming: is there a way to pay for the holidays in cash without putting purchases on credit cards? My answer is yes! In fact, I have made almost $1,000 in the last 2 months with this one simple trick.
Right now I am saving up for the holidays, but you can use this money-making strategy to make extra money anytime of the year.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How is this possible?

Sell your unused stuff on eBay.

OK stick with me… I used to have very blah feelings about selling stuff on eBay. Of course I always knew it was an option to make some extra money, but I never thought people would pay for my used stuff. I can tell you for certain based on my experience that people will definitely pay for your used stuff… shipping costs and all.

What exactly can you sell?

Stuff that is
  • gently used (not in terrible condition)
  • useful (maybe you don’t have a use for it, but someone else would)
  • collectable
  • rare or difficult-to-find (especially if you can offer international shipping because people outside of the US don’t have access to the same products and are willing to pay to ship things overseas)
To my surprise, I have had great success selling my used clothing. I never thought people would want to buy my used clothes and pay to ship them, but I have been proven completely incorrect. I have sold a lot of gently-used clothing items. The key here is that I only sell my quality, brand name clothing that is free of stains and visible wear. Obviously no one wants to pay for my $4 black T-shirt that I bought from Walmart. However, I am an ENORMOUS fan of Stitch Fix (I am raving-crazy-lunatic-level about it actually), and I have a crap load of cute, quality clothes. These brands sell really well on eBay because most Stitch Fix brands are exclusive and can’t be purchased from other retailers. Therefore people are eager to buy them used on eBay. Some other brands that sell easily are any of the designer brands (Michael Kors, Coach, etc.), LuLaRoe, trendy brands (Lucky, Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, etc.). OK so basically anything name brand.
I have also sold a lot of handmade goods (craft items primarily.) I love crafting, so I have a ton of stuff I’ve made that I don’t really have the space or a use for. Also name brand household decor (Yankee Candle, Partylite, Pottery Barn, etc.), electronics (graphing calculators, GPS units, digital cameras), designer purses, toys, books (particularly textbooks), and tools.

How to sell on eBay

  1. Take a read through the eBay policies and get informed about the cost to sell on eBay. (eBay will keep a percentage of your sale depending on the type of item and other factors. The fee is usually 10% but can vary slightly due to many factors. Read all the info here.)
  2. Take a walk around each room of your house and identify items that are in good shape that you don’t mind parting with.
  3. Check that the item is in good shape, and clean it up if necessary.
  4. Search for your item on eBay, and see if others are selling the same thing and what price it’s going for.
  5. Take quality pictures of your item. (See below for more on pictures.)
  6. Create a listing for your item by starting a new listing or clicking “Sell a similar item” on someone else’s listing (that’s the easier way). EBay allows small sellers to list up to 50 items per month for free. This means no listing fee for your first 50 listings per month. Listing fees are usually $0.35 each) You may need to create a Paypal account if you don’t already have one. (It’s free!)
  7. Decide on the price. You can list your item as Buy It Now which acts just like regular online retail – if someone wants to buy it, they click the button and pay immediately. You can also list your item as an auction lasting up to 7 days. This is the traditional way that most people think of when they think about selling on eBay. Buyers bid on your item over your selected period of time, and the highest bidder gets the item. The third option is to list your item for auction but include a Buy It Now price also. (If I list for auction, I always add a Buy It Now price.)
  8. List the item. You’ll get an email from eBay verifying your post is live. While you’re waiting for it to sell, pack it up to ship so you can ship as soon as you receive payment.
  9. Ship. I recommend buying your USPS shipping labels through eBay (They offer a discount so it’s cheaper than going to the post office, and will automatically link the paid item to the tracking number)
  10. Collect your money. (See Paypal tips below if you’re unsure how to do this.)

Tips for successful selling on eBay

  • Post lots of pictures.
  • Post quality pictures. (Use a plain background if possible; otherwise use a clean, neat background. People don’t want to buy stuff that looks like its coming from a scum house) Also: consider good lighting, and do not include grainy photos.
  • Be honest. (If your item has a flaw, let buyers know.)
  • Ship quickly and put tracking numbers on everything.
  • Don’t get greedy. (Price things to sell, not to sit and wait for the one person on earth who MIGHT pay a higher price.)
  • If you aren’t sure how to price something, list it as an auction vs. Buy It Now.
  • Stay away from selling large items (they are usually too costly to ship efficiently), make-up or beauty products, and medical devices/machines. (If you needed a prescription to get it, you cannot sell it.)

Paypal tips

  • Connect your Paypal account to your checking account so you can easily transfer over the money you’ve made on eBay.
  • Many retailers accept Paypal as an option at checkout, so you may not even need to move your money out of Paypal to use it (depending on how and where you plan to spend it).
  • You can request a Paypal debit card (easily do this online at the Paypal website) and use that to shop online (or in store) at places that don’t accept Paypal. I am mainly talking about Amazon which is one of the largest retailers that doesn’t accept Paypal.
  • If you’re saving, don’t transfer your money from Paypal. You can let your money sit and build in Paypal until you’re ready to use it for your holiday shopping or whatever occasion you’re saving for. In this way, it acts as a separate bank account and you aren’t tempted to spend it on other things. 😉
Because eBay offers free listings 50 times each month, there is nothing to lose by trying to sell your stuff to make extra money for the holidays. I hope these tips help to encourage you to give it a try and make some extra side money! I would love to hear about your success and your experience, so feel free to leave a comment letting me how how it goes!
Mom on!

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This post was written about how your marriage and/or committed relationship with your spouse or partner affects your children. However, there are many aspects that can also be applied to the relationship between any two authority figures living in a house and raising children. For example, a mother and grandmother, aunt/uncle, etc.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the unsolicited advice of many a well-meaning person who has confidentially spoken the words to a newly-pregnant mom, “Well it’s not about you anymore. Now it’s going to be all about them.” **Points to barely pregnant belly.** While there are many levels on which that is an entirely accurate statement, there are some aspects of you that must be maintained and can greatly affect your children. Two of the biggest are the relationship with your spouse and the care of your marriage.

Anyone who’s been married for a while knows that YOU MUST CARE FOR YOUR MARRIAGE. It is like a child in a way. You must nurture it, you must pay attention to it, feed it, and care for it when it’s sick. When you care for your marriage, you not only care for yourself and your partner, but also for your children.

How your marriage affects your children:

You and your partner set the first and strongest model of what a marriage looks like.

Your children see your interactions with your spouse EVERYDAY. Even when you think your child is in their own world and not paying any attention to what the two of you are doing or saying, they are noticing. They hear your tone of voice, and they see your affectionate gestures toward each other (or lack thereof). They absorb the way you communicate with each other, how successful the communication is, and how often communication takes place. And most of all: they notice the respect each parent shows the other.
You can teach your children the importance of respecting people by being respectful of your spouse. Read about the importance of respect and how to improve your marriage through respect here.
Even though you aren’t actively teaching your children about marriage, they are learning about it daily. They are learning about relationships. Eventually, they will model your behavior in their own relationships with friends, relatives, and other people they care about.
You will instill in your child the core belief about how they should be treated in a relationship AND how they should treat their partner. The life-long effect of which cannot be understated.

Your children will learn how to handle disagreements.

If you blow up over small matters or use a harsh tone with less that kind words, your children will likely mimic that behavior when encountering their own arguments. On the other hand, if you’re able to react calmly, you have the opportunity to show your child communication and respect in action. The skill to be able to effectively and diplomatically handle disagreements is a core life skill. It will be extremely important in determining your child’s success in many aspects of life including personal relationships and business.

You can teach your children that marriage is sacred

Regardless of the demographics of the two people involved, a marriage or partnership is a revered commitment that commands and deserves great consideration and respect. You have the opportunity to teach your children the responsibilities and implications of making a life-long commitment to someone. This can set them up for a successful and meaningful relationship later in life.
We all have our less-than-grand moments, but we should always keep in mind the affect of our marriages on our children. If you strive to teach your children through example, it will be a great benefit to your whole family!


Mom on!


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To restate the old colloquialism: marriage is hard work.

Great marriages don’t get thrust into existence magically. Great marriages are built, fixed, improved, and cherished. They are curated, changed, and strengthened over time. If you are called to marriage (not everyone is), being in a successful marriage is one of the most meaningful, fulfilling, and treasured experiences in life. On top of that, having a strong marriage is an amazing gift to your children. But you cannot have an enduring marriage without respect for your spouse. It is absolutely a key factor, and everyday there are opportunities to show respect to your spouse. Of course on the flip side of that, there are also many ways we inadvertently disrespect our partners. Read on to learn the importance of spousal respect, and how to respect your spouse including practical, applicable, and meaningful ways to improve and strengthen your bond with your partner.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What NOT to do when showing respect for your spouse:

1. Do not show violence toward your partner.

This is doubly important if you have children. Your behavior is a model for your child’s behavior, and no one wants their child to be violent or think that violence is acceptable even in jest (play fighting, slapping, etc.).

2. Do not make sarcastic or passive aggressive comments.

Instead, say what you mean. If you have something to say or something you want them to know: say it. Don’t wait for it to come up in conversation. Don’t wait for them to magically guess it. Tell them. Put your adult pants on and deal with the problem actively. No digs. EVER.

3. Do not build yourself up by cutting your partner down.

In a marriage, you should want you partner to succeed. If you’re rooting for them to fail in order to make your success look more impressive, that is a problem.

4. Do not use hyperbolic statements during an argument such as “You always….” or “You never….”

These types of statements are almost never completely true. There are very few things people ALWAYS do or NEVER do. If there is a behavior your spouse tends to repeat that upsets you, communicate your needs and feelings to them in a logical and realistic way.

5. Do not throw the past in their face.

Forgiveness is a choice. You must actively choose to forgive someone for their wrongdoings. Forgiveness doesn’t just happen after time or come from thin air; you create it consciously and consistently. Part of choosing to forgive someone is accepting that the mistake happened and cannot be undone. If you forgive someone, you cannot come back later and use their mistake as ammunition. That is not what true forgiveness means.

6. Do not gossip with other people about problems in your marriage.

The exception: if you are in an abusive situation, please absolutely speak to someone about it. (You can find information about domestic violence here). But for everyday marital issues (arguments, disagreements, sex, etc.), don’t pour over every detail with your mom or your best friend. There are many aspects of marriage that are private and should be kept and communicated about with your spouse or trusted therapist only. Speaking about shortcomings in your spouse, arguments, and sex is gossipy and disrespectful.

7. Do not make insulting or passive aggressive comments about your spouse to your children.

This is hurtful on so many levels and is truly unhealthy for your kids. Children learn by observing, and if parents are disrespecting each other in front of their children, their children will learn to show disrespect toward their parents and others.

How to show respect for your spouse:

1. Follow through with what you say you’re going to do.

I am a big fan of “under-promise and over-deliver.” Don’t agree to things or make commitments if you aren’t serious about seeing them through. When you say you will do something: do it. If you think it’s possible you may not be able to get it done: don’t commit to doing it. Following through shows your spouse that you respect your promises and teaches them that you are reliable.

2. Acknowledge your own mistakes and short comings and ask for forgiveness.

EVERYONE make mistakes. Admit when you’ve done something wrong. Be up front, and tell your spouse about your mistake before they discover it for themselves. Apologize and take responsibility for what you’ve done.

3. Maintain your respect independently from your spouse’s.

We are all human, and most people occasionally say things or react in ways that are less than ideal when we are cranky or in distress. If your spouse makes a less than kind comment, don’t respond in the same way. Try to reset the conversation by remaining calm and respectful.

4. Be a champion for your spouse.

Sing their praises far and wide. Broadcast their accomplishments. Point out their strengths to others. Compliment them publicly. And most importantly: stand up for your spouse. Don’t let other people trash-talk your spouse ever. Be their champion like you would want them to be yours.

5. Be on time.

Being late is one of the best ways to show disrespect. When someone shows up late, they are broadcasting the message that their time is more valuable than yours or that there was something more important than you that kept them. Most people are late once in a while for reasons beyond their control. But being consistently on time shows your spouse that you are reliable and you value your promises and commitments to them enough to responsibly manage your time.

6. Accept your partner for who they are without making them feel embarrassed or ashamed.

Being in a marriage allows you access to all the cooky, intimate, and sometimes just weird details of someone else’s personality. This is a gift! If your partner is allowing your to see their strange side, it means they trust you enough to let you in. Accept and love all the strangeness because it’s what makes your person YOUR PERSON.


I am sure there are more things that could be added to these lists, and there are likely things that are not on here that are important to your spouse. The best way to make sure you know how to respect your spouse is to ASK THEM. Open the lines of communication and find out what is important to your partner specifically. Ask if they have ever felt disrespected by you. Ask if there is anything you could do to be more respectful. Getting information straight from the horse’s mouth is always your best option, and after all, communication is key to a strong relationship.
Mom (and wife) on!


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Welcome to the first post in our Minimalist Pregnancy Prep series. Every expecting mom loves planning for their baby’s arrival. Getting a baby registry together with all the items you’ll need is a fun and exciting way to prepare for your baby. Read on to find my top baby registry tips from a second time mom who’s been there and done that.

Baby registry tips form a second time mom

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The absolute essentials:

  • clothes (launder only a few outfits and leave the rest with the tags on and receipt attached just in case)
  • bibs/cloths
  • crib
  • crib sheets
  • car seat

Red light: What you really don’t need and won’t use:

Wipe warmer

Hear me: YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR BABY GETTING ACCUSTOMED TO WARM WIPES. Trust me on that. This will cause all sorts of fun changing-room drama when you’re out and about and dare to put a room-temperature wipe on your little one’s butt. DRAMA. No thanks. My babies both survived on room-temp wipes (shocking, I know) and your baby will, too!

Bottle warmer

Bottle warmers are super aggravating to me. They take up valuable counter space and they really are not worth their weight. The thing I disliked most about my bottle warmer was that it took a ridiculous amount of time to heat up the bottle to the “perfect temperature.” It also made the outside of the bottle pretty warm. Too warm, in my opinion, to put near my infant. I ditched the bottle warmer fast and never looked back.


SAY WHAAAAATTTT? Yes, I am telling you not to buy diapers. Don’t register for diapers. Don’t have a “diaper party.” I hear you. You’re saying, “Why in the hell would I not stock up on those expensive little disposable butts????? Do you know how much those things cost?!?!?” Yes, I know. I have 2 in diapers right now. I KNOW. HOWEVER….. I have a lot of good reasons, and you can read in depth on why you shouldn’t start a diaper stockpile here.


Even more than my (excellent and convincing) reasoning above for diapers, do not buy formula in advance! Formula allergies and sensitivities are even more prevalent than diaper allergies and sensitivities. I don’t even remember how many types of formula we tried with our first son before settling on the only one he would tolerate: Enfamil AR. We threw out A LOT of basically full containers of formula because our son couldn’t eat it and we didn’t have anyone to give them to. Luckily we found that our pediatrician had sample cans of a bunch of different formula brands and types and would give us one to try so we weren’t constantly buying cans to try and then ultimately throw out.

Crib bedding and bumpers

Don’t do it! Babies should sleep alone in their crib without crib bumpers/pads, bedding of any kind, or stuffed animals. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say a baby should be in a crib with a firm mattress and well-fitting fitted sheet ONLY. NOTHING ELSE!!!! I know crib bedding and bumpers are adorable and can make the nursery look just so, but the beauty of it is not worth the risk to your baby.
We see gorgeous nurseries on Pinterest and in magazines all the time with bedding and bumpers. I see crib bedding and bumpers in all the baby aisles. But I have never owned any and never will. God forbid something terrible ever happen, I would never forgive myself. The potential risk is far too great for me to even consider using any of these products. I have adorable fitted sheets, and that’s perfectly good for me.
I also don’t think you need to buy waterproof crib mattress pads. Almost all crib mattresses are waterproof and can be cleaned off with mild baby-safe cleanser. Or my favorite: castile soap.

Boppy or other nursing pillows

I won’t try to hide it: I really loathe the Boppy pillow. It seems like every pregnant person in the last two decades has put this on their registry, but I am not sure why. When I was breastfeeding in the hospital, the lactation consultant didn’t come waltzing in hailing the Boppy pillow. We rolled up some hospital pillows and called it a day. Once I was home, I actually found that a rolled up throw blanket worked the best for me and was easier to manipulate to the exact shape I wanted when I was nursing. The Boppy has been upstairs in a closet where I move it around every so often and swear about the space it takes up.

The Cadillac of portable cribs

Portable cribs come with some crazy stuff these days! Adjustable heights for newborns, newborn changing tables, mobiles, mirrors, diaper caddies, newborn napper, etc. You honestly don’t need any of these things. Plus when your newborn outgrows all of it and you just want the actual crib part, you are going to have to find some place to store all of that crap. I do recommend having a portable crib, but just something basic like this. 

baby registry tips

Yellow light: Not necessities, but things you may want to consider:

Diaper Genie

I’ve heard people say you can just throw diapers in the garbage. That is absolutely true, but if you don’t want to live in a house that smells like baby poop 24/7, I highly recommend making the small investment into a Diaper Genie.
These things really do contain the odor (and I don’t even use the odor-neutralizing pouches). Plus they have a small footprint and are easy to use. Replacing the refill bags is super easy and if you have a BJ’s membership, you can almost always get at least a $4 coupon off the refills. Also big box stores like Walmart and Target sell store brand refills that fit the Diaper Genie on the cheap.
This is something with a relatively low cost that is worth every single penny. That coming from a mom with 2 babies in diapers. Check out the one I use here.

Baby Breeza

It’s expensive. I’ll give you that. But the convenience cannot be matched (especially at 3am). I am an enormous fan on my Keurig, and the Baby Breeza is basically a Keurig for babies. It has a water tank that keeps the water constantly heated to the perfect temp for bottles, and it has a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 ounce setting. You can put the powdered formula in a reservoir in the top, and it will mix the right amount of formula and warm water and pump out the perfect ba-ba. You can also use spring water or filtered water if you don’t like using tap.
To be honest, I don’t put the formula in mine simply because I don’t feel like cleaning it. We use our Baby Breeza just for the perfectly warm water on demand. This means no waiting for tap water to heat up in at 3am in the dead of winter, no microwaving spring/filtered water, and no bottle warmer. It is absolutely fantastic, and if you can afford it or are lucky enough to receive it as a gift, you will love it, too. Check it out on Amazon here. 

Something to set your baby in

I am not big on swings at all. I think they are a waste of money and space. We were gifted a swing that has been used MAYBE 10 times across two children. If you can get a swing on the cheap, then go ahead and try it, but I would not recommend spending $250 on a Mamaroo. Although in total transparency, I’ve never tried the Mamaroo, so who knows, it could be amazing. But it would have to be pretty great to justify spending that kind of money.
With that said, you will want to have something you can set your baby down in. With my first, we put a baby blanket on the floor and set him on it, and it worked perfectly. However, if you have other children or pets, you will want something more secure and out of the way. With our second, we set up the portable crib downstairs in the family room which worked perfectly. We already owned one that we used as a travel crib, and I am big on getting as much use as possible out of one purchase. That was a win for us.

Green light: The A List. The PLEASE-TAKE-MY-MONEY list:

Halo Sleepsack

There is a reason they give these out in hospitals and you hear parents raving about them: they are fantastic! With my first baby, I used a different brand which I liked, but after trying the Halo, I am officially converted. This sleepsack is amazing quality and most importantly: helped my infants sleep!
There are many things that contribute to great infant sleep and this is definitely one of them. Everyone knows swaddling babies helps them sleep better, but blanket swaddling takes some skill, and even then babies tend to wiggle their little arms and legs out. The shape of the Halo is perfect for keeping tiny limbs contained (which also helps calm a baby’s startle reflex), and the Velcro is plentiful and high quality. I have washed all of my sleepsacks a million times and they hold up perfectly.
These are also made in a variety of materials so you can get lighter or heavier weight fabrics depending on your climate and needs. This is my number one recommendation when people ask me what they should put on their registry. SLEEPSACKS! Lots (OK maybe 4 or 5) of sleepsacks. Check them out on Amazon. 

Halo Sleepsack Wearable blanket

I feel very strongly about abiding by The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines which state you should not put anything in baby’s crib including blankets. However, we live in a cold climate and I am always worried about my baby being too cold. 
This wearable blanket is the perfect solution. It is just like the Halo Sleepsack but without the swaddle. When your baby starts rolling, you don’t want to swaddle them anymore because it could pose a risk of suffocation. However, once you ditch the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, you lose all of that comfiness and warmth it provides. Don’t be tempted to put a blanket in your baby’s crib at this point. Just switch over to the wearable blanket.
It keeps them nice and cozy warm and is available in different fabric weights just like the swaddle. It’s the perfect balance of safety and comfort. Check it out here. 

Amazon Echo Dot

When you have a new baby, there are a lot of things to keep track of. If you formula-feed, you will need to track feeding times, time between feedings, and feeding amounts. If you breastfeed, you will need to track feeding times, time between feedings, and how much time is spent nursing on either breast. Your hospital and pediatrician will also ask you to keep a count of wet and dirty diapers. And if you’re trying to adapt your baby to a specific schedule, you will want to track their nap times and length.
This is A LOT of information for an exhausted new mom to keep track of. I remember being so exhausted as a new mom that it was starting to affect my vision. Tracking so much important information (about 12-20 times a day) with paper and pen is a real challenge. It’s inevitable to forget to log something or lose the papers all together. After a few weeks, we found the most amazing (and cheap – about $35) solution to this problem: the Echo Dot.
I formula fed both our babies (the first one due to breastfeeding impairment because of my epidural) and we took shifts switching on and off to feed the baby overnight. Now let me tell you: when you are an exhausted, EXHAUSTED new mom and you get a few hours of sleep in a row because your amazingly fantastic, dedicated (and hot) husband is getting up to feed the baby, you do not want him waking you up to ask the time of the last feeding. And really, he doesn’t want this either because tired new moms can be cranky to say the least.
The newborn phase (especially for new parents) is this exhausted haze where you have no idea what time of day it is, you haven’t left the house in a week, and everything starts to blur together. Eat, wake, sleep, repeat on what feels like an endless cycle. 
We used the Alexa Skill called Baby Stats to track everything (IT’S FREE!). Put the Echo somewhere convenient either in the kitchen where you make the bottles, in the baby’s room, or next to where you will be doing your feedings (or buy multiples and put them everywhere). Then you just ask Alexa to add a feeding or ask her when the last feeding was. It tracks it to the minute.
The Echo Dot is completely controlled by your voice, so you don’t have to keep a physical log.
Baby Stats skill tracks:
  • kicks
  • pumping
  • breastfeeding
  • bottle feeding
  • wet/dirty diapers
  • sleep
And you can get weekly pregnancy updates tailored to your due date. The Echo Dot has to be in my top ten list of things I have ever purchased. Trust me, just go to Amazon and buy it now.
I hope these tips help you craft the perfect registry for your baby! Keep in mind that you don’t need to own every baby product in existence to be a great mom and have a happy baby!
Mom on!

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This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.