Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 10 & 11

Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 10 & 11

This double feature was insane… I can honestly say there has not been a single boring episode this season!

Blindside.. blindside.. blindside!

After 31 seasons of any show- the ability to keep every single episode interesting and entertaining and keep the audience on their toes is pretty spectacular. Bravo CBS!

Perhaps the success of America casting this particular season will set a precedent that America will have more choices in Survivor casting… We will see!

(SPOILER ALERT-DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE EPISODES THAT PREMIERED ON NOVEMBER 25th, 2015)

The things I am most excited about:

-It is no secret that I am a big Ciera & Fishbach fan.. so this double episode was difficult for me 😦 However- both of them played hard and both went out at peace with the game that they played. According to their Ponderosa videos, neither one is bitter and they will surely advocate for the most deserving winner with the jury.

-Kelley Wentworth found another idol! Kelley is killing it this season and has to be moving up the ranks of my Top 10 Favorite Survivor Players ever.

-Jeremy played his idol for Stephen and still has another idol in his pocket.

-Joe finally lost an immunity challenge. Maybe there is hope that Joe will lose another immunity challenge? I have nothing against Joe and loved him in World’s Apart- but he certainly has an arrogant demeanor this season.

So, let’s get right to the post-Episodes 10&11 player rankings!

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Survivor Ranking 31

Pre-Merge Boot Order:

  1. Vytas Baskauskas (Ta Keo)
  2. Shirin Oskooi (Ta Keo)
  3. Peih-Gee Law (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  4. Jeff Varner (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  5. Monica Padilla (Bayon, Bayon)
  6. Terry Dietz (family emergency) (Ta Keo, Ta Keo)
  7. Woo Hwang (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo)

Post-Merge Boot Order, THE JURY:

  1. Kass McQuillen (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  2. Andrew Savage (Bayon, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  3. Kelly Wiglesworth (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  4. Ciera Eastin (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank 6/10
  5. Stephen Fishbach (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 2/10

Here are my power-ranking in order from least-likely to win to most-likely to win. These rankings are not intended to predict boot order.

I want to note here that I have read no spoilers and have no idea what the true outcome of the game will be.

8. Joe Anglim (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 10/10

I am going to keep Joe in the last spot this week. Okay- so if Joe does make it to the final tribal then he surely has a significant chance to win. He can rely on his sheer strength as an argument for the money . But when we look at the savvy players in this season, it is hard for me to believe that they will keep Joe in this game if he does not have immunity. I really thought this last episode was his episode to finally go to Ponderosa and reunite with his boy Savage and his girl Wigles, but perhaps the other players just though Fishbach was more of a strategic threat? Which I would agree with…

7. Abi-Maria Gomes (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 8/10

If this were a ranking of who-will-most-likely-be-at-the-final-tribal, then Abi would be number one. I think most people want to bring Abi to the end as a GOAT. However, her chances of actually winning this game are so super slim. Her social game isn’t great, she is annoying, and she hasn’t made any big strategic big moves. And, she called Stephen “Poopy Pants”.. grrr.

6. Tasha Fox (Bayon, Angkor, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 9/10

Stephen took Tasha on the reward and seemed to have won her back over to his alliance after losing her in the first vote of the episode. Unfortunately for Tasha, she was once again on the wrong side of the numbers and Stephen went home. So- Tasha has been on the wrong side of numbers a few episodes in a row now. Tasha is a strong player, but what has she done in this game to plead her case to the jury? Maybe we will see more from her, but right now I am seeing nada.

5.  Kimmi Kappenberg (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Prevoius Week Rank = 5/10

Kimmi is staying super loyal and this could be her lone argument for the million dollars (strategy-wise). It is hard to play a loyal game, especially considering this season is a hyper-accelerated New School version of Survivor. But Kimmi saw one of her biggest allies in the game, Stephen, leave this week and this does not bode well for KK.

4. Keith Nale (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 4/10

Keith is still truckin’ along. I heard him state twice this episode that “Joe is a big threat”. Aside from that, we aren’t hearing much from Keith. He is flying under the radar, but in a season of all-returnees who are playing hard, will this strategy be convincing enough for the million? I don’t think so.

3. Kelley Wentworth (Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 7/10

Kelley found another idol! I moved her way up on my rankings because I do believe her idol will bring her to the end of the game. Her previous idol play and her ability to scramble several times when on the bottom are great Survivor resume builders. It also appears that she orchestrated Fishbach’s blindside and essentially saved Joe from going home. Kelley is super-savvy and playing a heck of a game- I would love to see her win it all!

2. Spencer Blesdoe (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 2/10

Spencer- I have such mixed emotions about him this week! First off- I am ranking him at number 2 but it was a difficult decision and I was very conflicted about whether to put him at number 1. He is playing an excellent game- he is extremely intelligent and flexible and seems to be able to read his opponents well. I was shocked at his Stephen blindside because I believed Stephen and Spencer to be close. However, it seems that Stephen beating Spencer in the swim-off for the advantage and then beating him in the reward challenge changed Spencer’s mind about his alliance with Stephen. Both are highly cerebral players and Spencer might have seen Stephen as his biggest threat to his game.

If Spencer makes it to the end, he has built a great Survivor resume and could easily take the million.

Predicted Winner:  Jeremy Collins (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 1/10

Jeremy made a huge move in playing his idol for Stephen. Even though Stephen went home the next vote, Jeremy solidified his place as a power player. The only reason I ranked Jeremy ahead of Spencer is because he still has an idol in this game and because he has a solid alliance in Tasha and Kimmi- I do think that they will stick with him to the end.

There you have it- my rankings for this week! See you next week for more Survivor Cambodia Second Chances!

To read last weeks rankings, click here!

Until next time,

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Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 9

Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 9

Another solid episode of Survivor this week! Thank you, CBS- and do not ever stop producing this show ;)!

(SPOILER ALERT-DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE EPISODE THAT PREMIERED ON NOVEMBER 18th, 2015)

The things I am most excited about:

-Kelley, Ciera & Abi are still alive and happily using their “Coven” bloc to make big moves in the game!

-Stephen’s advantage! Not only can he steal a vote, he can cast an extra vote. This is potentially a game changer! #TeamStephen

-Jeremy has TWO hidden immunity idols. It is safe to say that he will be at the end of this game… I can’t imagine it any other way.

-Kelly Wiglesworth got the boot and has no chance at redemption from Borneo. I was so excited to see her play again but thoroughly disappointed with her lack of presence throughout the season. She seemed heavily influenced by Borneo and really determined to come in and play a game void of alliances and strategy.

However- as we all know, the game has greatly evolved since Borneo.

So, let’s get right to the post-Episode 9 player rankings!

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Survivor Ranking 31

Pre-Merge Boot Order:

  1. Vytas Baskauskas (Ta Keo)
  2. Shirin Oskooi (Ta Keo)
  3. Peih-Gee Law (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  4. Jeff Varner (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  5. Monica Padilla (Bayon, Bayon)
  6. Terry Dietz (family emergency) (Ta Keo, Ta Keo)
  7. Woo Hwang (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo)

Post-Merge Boot Order, THE JURY:

  1. Kass McQuillen (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  2. Andrew Savage (Bayon, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  3. Kelly Wiglesworth (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 10/11

Here are my power-ranking in order from least-likely to win to most-likely to win. These rankings are not intended to predict boot order.

I want to note here that I have read no spoilers and have no idea what the true outcome of the game will be.

10. Joe Anglim (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 11/11

What are the chances that Joe can win 9 more individual immunity challenges? Although I think he is an amazing competitor and could win several challenges, the odds are against him. He is a huge threat and we know that Stephen will take the first chance he gets to vote Joe out. I am sticking firm in my ranking that Joe is least likely to win this game. IF he somehow did win-out and make it to the end, he totally deserves the money.

9. Tasha Fox (Bayon, Angkor, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 8/11

Tasha wasn’t included in this week’s blindside of Kelly, and therefore out of the loop with some of her alliance members. I think this is going to really irritate her, and an emotional player never goes far in Survivor. Tasha is a strong player, but she may be gradually gravitating to the wrong side of the numbers. And I don’t think Tasha will have a strong case to make to the jury as of now.

8. Abi-Maria Gomes (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 9/11

Abi’s game post-merge is completely different than her pre-merge game. And good for her! Laying low, not ruffling feathers (at least we are not seeing it)… this is so not Abi! But maybe it will give her a better shot at winning this game? And she seems to be in a good ‘alliance bloc’ because I would think Ciera and Kelley would be targets before Abi. That being said, it is hard for me to imagine the jury giving the million to Abi.

7. Kelley Wentworth (Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 6/11

I would truly love to see Kelley win this game, but at this point I think it will be difficult for her to make it to the final tribal. The other players know she is super-savvy and I think she will be a target for the ‘other’ alliance before Ciera or Abi are targeted. That being said- I am still doing the Wentworth dance each week!

6. Ciera Eastin (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank 7/11

Ciera keeps moving up my list! She is super flexible and in a great position to add numbers to other voting blocs. She seems to have a working relationship with Stephen and she escaped the last two votes and was not even a main target. Go, Ciera!

5.  Kimmi Kappenberg (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Prevoius Week Rank = 4/11

Kimmi isn’t very flexible in the game- she has chosen her alliance and she is staying put. This could definitely hurt her as it seems this season is all about flexibility and who you are voting with that particular tribal. Kimmi isn’t happy that Kelly left the game and she seemed to be just as shocked by the blindside. I like Kimmi 2.0 and I think she has a chance to win, but I would not bet on her.

4. Keith Nale (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 5/11

Keith is strong and he doesn’t have any enemies. I’ve said it each week and I will say it again: Keith is a boss. He’s not on anyone’s radar at the moment- he should keep truckin’ along without any trouble. Or should I say  Tuk Tuk’n along ;)!

3. Spencer Blesdoe (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 1/11

The last two weeks I have predicted Spencer as the winner of this game. I am pushing him back to spot three this week, though, based on the recent episode. First of all, Jeremy has the second idol and is playing a flawlessly influential game, Jeremy is going to be very difficult to beat. Secondly, Stephen is also playing a strategic game and he has an advantage now. I won’t be shocked if Spencer wins- but he currently isn’t my pick to take the million :(.

2. Stephen Fishbach (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 3/11

It is no secret that I want to see Stephen win this game. I love the way he is playing- he has a strong social game and could probably outwit most of the players any day of the week. Stephen is flexible and we saw him convince Spencer and Jeremy to vote with the “Coven” bloc this week. AND now, Stephen has the advantage! I hope he uses this sooner rather than later to avoid any targets on his back. As long as Stephen stays two steps ahead of everyone else strategically, I think he can make it to the end and will have a strong argument to win the money.

Predicted Winner:  Jeremy Collins (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 2/11

Jeremy is playing a flawless game. He has TWO secret idols. No one has seriously discussed voting him out, and everyone really likes Jeremy. His social game is outstanding. Even though he turned on the large alliance this week and voted with Stephen & Spencer and the Coven, I can see him escaping all heat for this decision.

There you have it- my rankings for this week! See you next week for more Survivor Cambodia Second Chances!

To read last weeks rankings, click here!

Until next time,

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World Prematurity Awareness Day

World Prematurity Awareness Day

December 29, 2011.

I remember the day so clearly; as if it were just yesterday.

I woke up completely miserable. This miserable feeling was familiar; waking up in misery had been routine for the past 3 weeks. When you are almost 35 weeks pregnant with twins basically nothing you do is comfortable.

Not that I wasn’t thankful to still be pregnant with my first babies. Back in week 24 of my pregnancy my doctor had warned me that I wasn’t consuming enough protein and we would be lucky to make it to 32 weeks.

Fast forward 10 weeks and I had successfully drank 10,000 Ensure shakes and made it nearly 3 weeks past the coveted Week 32.

Okay, 10,000 is a lie- but I will never drink another Ensure shake again as long as I live.

My pregnancy had been difficult from the very beginning. Weeks 6-12 of my pregnancy were a nightmare. I was so sick I could barely get out of bed. I lost at least 15 lbs and couldn’t even shower because any shampoo smell made me sick to my stomach. Life was pretty much a ‘get out of bed, go to the couch, binge watch HGTV, then go back to bed’ routine.

I wasn’t shocked when I learned I was having twins- this explained the dramatic symptoms I was having (I literally had every pregnancy symptom in the book). Also- my mom and my dad are both twins. So even though they say that twins aren’t genetic, I beg to differ.

In Week 16 I found out I was having identical boys and was over the moon! I had always wanted a son and I already had my boy  names planned and had bookmarked the Ralph Lauren baby boys clothes website on my computer.

However, we also discovered at this time that the twins were mono-di twins. Mono-di twins are very high risk because they share a placenta. That means that my one and only placenta was going to have to nourish both of my baby boys until I gave birth. Single babies have a placenta all to themselves and doctors can normally see the wear and tear on the placenta by week 40. Yikes!

My pregnancy became pretty dramatic starting in Week 20. Not only did I have to see my OB every other week, I also had to see a high risk doctor every other week. By Week 28 I was seeing each of these doctors every single week. Basically- I should have moved into the hospital.

At Week 30 I was put on a modified bed rest because my blood pressure was high and I had severe edema. I went to work in the mornings and then was told to spend the afternoons laying on my left side. Yes, the left side. The right side is apparently not as conducive to growing children.

Every week I didn’t deliver the twins was a blessing.

As I got ready for my ultrasound on that 29th of December, I remember having a strange feeling. It was a Thursday and I had always had a feeling that I would deliver my twins on a Thursday. My bag was packed and in the corner of my bedroom- we knew that it could be any day now. Still- I was only 34 weeks and 5 days so it was too soon. Most likely my boys’ lungs wouldn’t be ready to conquer the outside world.

We had been monitoring the boys’ growth via the ultrasounds for the past few weeks. It was important to make sure that each baby was still growing. These ultrasounds were intense and would normally last 1.5-2 hours because we had to measure every single part of each baby. A lot of times the babies were so cramped and twisted together that it was difficult to take measurements.

This specific Thursday, the doctor said that we were not going to have a growth ultrasound.

As soon as the doctor left the room, I told my husband and my mom that this was weird- that I felt we needed to check the growth of the babies.. that it had been too long since the last growth check. Personally, I am very non-confrontational and I normally keep anything that irritates me to myself. But- as soon as the nurse came back in the room I basically demanded we check the boys’ growth. I just had a feeling.

And I am SO glad I spoke up.

Fast forward an hour, Baby A hadn’t grown in 2 weeks and Baby B, who had always been smaller, was now much larger now- at least a pound.

The doctor gave me the option of delivering that day or the next day and something told me that it better be today.

And thank goodness, because I found out later that if we would have waited any longer, I could have lost both of my boys.

As I waited for my emergency C-Section that was scheduled at 2pm, I didn’t feel nervous. My husband had brought my overnight bag as well as my computer so I could play games and relax. I just felt that my boys would be fine and we would all be home in a few days.

I could not have been more wrong.

Dominic Joseph was the smaller baby. He came into the world at 2:22pm at 3lbs, 6oz. Dominic was the one who hadn’t been growing. But- he was born breathing on his own! This was great news!

I didn’t get to hold him. I don’t know what his APGAR score was. My husband didn’t get to cut his cord. He was quickly shown to us and then rushed to the NICU.

Giovanni Richard came two minutes later at 2:24pm at 4lbs, 2oz. Giovanni was not breathing on his own- so much like Dominic he was also quickly rushed to the NICU.

I briefly got to see the boys after I left recovery on my way to being wheeled up to my room. They were attached to every wire imaginable and Giovanni had a tube down his throat to help him breath. I wouldn’t get to hold Dominic until the next day and Giovanni the day after that.

It is really hard as a new mother to not be able to hold your babies right away.

In the next month, my husband and I experienced every high and every low of emotion you can have. The boys were little and they needed a lot of time. They had developed Twin-to-Twin Transfusion syndrome- basically the placenta was giving Giovanni all the nutrients and Dominic was getting very little to nothing. This was bad for both boys. Giovanni was so pumped full of blood and nutrients from the placenta that he literally had too much blood and stayed red in color for over a month- it is actually how we told them apart for the first month! Dominic was so white and skinny he had to have a couple of blood transfusions.

The boys had to be fed by a tube and eventually taught how to suck and feed themselves. Most babies that are full term are born innately knowing how to suck, but the twins came too early to learn this in the womb.

Each night the boys were weighed and we prayed they would gain weight. We prayed that they would keep improving and we prayed each day might be the day we take them home.

This happened less than 4 years ago- but our time in the NICU is blurry. I think I have repressed it all because it was the most difficult time in my life. The what-if’s were mind-numbingly controlling:

What if I had been better at eating more protein?

What if I had not demanded the growth scan?

What if the boys didn’t gain weight?

What if the boys always stay little?

The hardest thing I have ever had to do was leave my babies in the hospital and go home each night- for a month. I would sit in their empty nursery, freshly painted and decorated and baby-ready and I would cry for hours.

I truly felt that I had failed them.

Dominic came home first and Giovanni followed him 4 days later.

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November 17th- World Prematurity Awareness Day,  always brings my mind back to the days in the hospital with my little 3 & 4 pound babes.

We were so lucky to deliver at a hospital with a state-of-the art NICU and nurses and doctors that were truly committed to helping our babies grow.

Dominic and Giovanni will be 4 next month. They are still little guys- their 20-month old baby brother only weighs 5lbs less than them- but they are happy and they are healthy and they are perfect.

Until next time,

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Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 8

Survivor Rankings- Season 31 Second Chances, Episode 8

Wow! What. An. Episode.

(SPOILER ALERT-DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE EPISODE THAT PREMIERED ON NOVEMBER 9th, 2015)

Hidden Immunity Idols, blindsides, double ball challenges, several middle fingers, eye rolls for days and Keith Nale driving a Tuk Tuk on the beaches of Cambodia.

It doesn’t really get any better than that.

My hands still hurt from my vigorous applause of Kelley Wentworth and her outstanding use of the Hidden Immunity Idol. I’ve always been a Kelley Wentworth fan, even when she left Blood Vs. Water pre-jury. Episode 8 just proved that Kelley is here to play and she is a strategic force to be reckoned with!

So, let’s get right to the post-Episode 8 player rankings!

Survivor Ranking 31

Pre-Merge Boot Order:

  1. Vytas Baskauskas (Ta Keo)
  2. Shirin Oskooi (Ta Keo)
  3. Peih-Gee Law (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  4. Jeff Varner (Ta Keo, Angkor)
  5. Monica Padilla (Bayon, Bayon)
  6. Terry Dietz (family emergency) (Ta Keo, Ta Keo)
  7. Woo Hwang (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo)

Post-Merge Boot Order:

  1. Kass McQuillen (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun)
  2. Andrew Savage (Bayon, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun)

Here are my power-ranking in order from least-likely to win to most-likely to win. These rankings are not intended to predict boot order.

I want to note here that I have read no spoilers and have no idea what the true outcome of the game will be.

11. Joe Anglim (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 9/12

Survivor MacGuyver won another Immunity Challenge- shocker! But really, the moment he loses one of those, he’s gone. With each challenge that he wins, the target on his back grows larger and larger. I put him last because the one guy who truly had his back, Savage, was voted out. Who is going to protect Joe now? Unless Joe can win the next 8 Immunity Challenges, I just don’t think Joe has any shot of winning this game.

10. Kelly Wiglesworth (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 11/12

I suppose Kelly has finally redeemed herself from her disappointing rowing defeat to Gervase in Borneo- but this doesn’t do anything for her current game! I have yet to see Kelly establish any tight alliances or talk strategy. Even if she made it to the end, I can’t see her making a solid argument as to what she did in the game to earn the million.

9. Abi-Maria Gomes (Ta Keo, Angkor, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 12/12

I moved Abi up a bit this week due to the fact that she is all of a sudden laying low. I think it has been 3 weeks in a row that Abi has essentially been silent- except for taunting Andrew Savage as he left Tribal 🙂 I still don’t think Abi has a great shot, but I do not think she is last on the list, either. Do I dare say that I may kind of like Abi now?

8. Tasha Fox (Bayon, Angkor, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 7/12

Tasha is in a good alliance and a good spot, but I doubt she will have any friends on the jury, especially with Queen Kass ruling the roost in that arena. Tasha’s ability to win this game is foggy in my head right now, but I would not bet on her.

7. Ciera Eastin (Bayon, Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Orkun) Previous Week Rank 10/12

I am impressed with Ciera. She is still on the wrong side of the numbers, but she is proving that she is crafty and has connections beyond her current alliance of Kelley Wentworth and Abi. We saw Ciera talking to Stephen at the beginning of the episode and then talking to Joe mid-episode about a possible Stephen blindside. Obviously, she is still keeping lines of communication open, and this could bring her far.

6. Kelley Wentworth (Ta Keo, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 3/12

It is no secret that I am on (hashtag) Team Wentworth. But I moved her down in the rankings because she no longer has that Immunity Idol. Even though she played brilliantly this week, unless she finds another idol she is still on the wrong side of the numbers. So, let’s all pray to the Survivor Gods that Kelley somehow finds another idol! Or convinces Joe to start voting with her! Or just stays in the game as long as possible!

5. Keith Nale (Bayon, Ta Keo, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 6/12

Keith got some quality screen time this week. Keith handles balls like a boss. Keith drives the Tuk Tuk like a boss. Keith is a boss. And no one could possibly dislike Keith. So just like I said last week, I can’t see anyone bringing him to the end.

4. Kimmi Kappenberg (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Prevoius Week Rank = 5/12

We haven’t seen Kimmi do much since the Monica blindside. However, we know that Kimmi has built good alliances and she is on the right side of the numbers. I think Kimmi has a lot of game left in her!

3. Stephen Fishbach (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 2/12

I was on the edge of my seat this week in fear that we were going to lose Stephen! I am so happy he stuck around and avoided being idol’ed out of the game! With Savage out of the game- the one person truly targeting Stephen- Stephen’s odds of going to the end are good. However, Joe is still in the game and Joe knows that Stephen is targeting him. If Joe manages to win immunity and sways Ciera, Kelley and Abi to vote Stephen, we could see Stephen leave the game :(. Luckily, Jeremy seems to want Stephen around as was evident by his ability to shift the target away from Stephen this episode.

2. Jeremy Collins (Bayon, Bayon, Bayon, Orkun) Previous Week Rank = 4/12

No one knows that Jeremy has the idol and Jeremy seems to have a very deep and trusting alliance. We saw Jeremy convince the others to not vote for Stephen and instead target Wentworth. Even with Savage leaving as one of Jeremy’s ‘shields’, Jeremy still has strong ties with the other players and is playing a great social game. Jeremy could very easily win this whole thing!

Predicted Winner: Spencer Blesdoe (Ta Keo, Bayon, Ta Keo, Orkun)

This is the first week that our TVs were not flooded with Spencer. I kind of miss him! Spencer may have not made the big move this week, but he is one of the most strategic players in this game and it seems like he is finally safe and with the numbers. This is great for Spencer and I have no doubt that if he makes it to the end, he will win!

There you have it- my rankings for this week! See you next week for more Survivor Cambodia Second Chances!

To read last weeks rankings, click here!

Until next time,

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How to Survive Series: 5 Tips for Maintaining Cubicle Etiquette

How to Survive Series: 5 Tips for Maintaining Cubicle Etiquette

Everything written here is in jest, I’m lucky to work in the best office ever!

I am currently living the cube life.

My square block of work paradise is cozy and comfortable; full of my family pictures & my postcard collection, my mini-fridge stocked full of water and yogurt, and a variety of cute little organizational tools and trinkets that I have collected throughout the years. A little oasis in the middle of a rather quiet and unremarkable building situated on the south side of a little university campus.

It is ideal.

As a former middle-school teacher, I welcome the quiet qualities of cube life- the privacy my cube affords me and the calmness I get knowing that I only have to interact with myself on a daily basis.My current profession allows me to interact with others as much as I want or as little as I want.

And this folks, is a wonderful thing!

There are days that I simply want to go to work, do my job, and go home- I know a lot of people can relate to that sentiment. There are other days I want to chat with my colleagues- swap dinner stories or talk about the news headlines or the good shows that were on TV last night. But unlike teaching, I do not have to be on everyday- being on everyday is exhausting.

Of course, there are things about working in a cube that are… not ideal. Over time I have come to realize that in order to maintain my sweet little utopia, a cubicle etiquette must be adhered to and diligently respected. And let me tell you- there is always that one coworker who does not follow cube etiquette.

Here is my Survival Guide for maintaining a highly-productive & peaceful cube life.

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5 Tips for Maintaining Cubicle Etiquette

  1. Keep it quiet! – Wow, shouldn’t this one be obvious? I mean, there are meeting rooms and break rooms and even restrooms for a specific reason. These rooms should be utilized when you are feeling especially social. If you are adamant about discussing last night’s American Idol evictee or the current Red Cup Controversy at Starbucks or the utter adorableness of your brand new puppy, and you see that people around you are working hard, trying to meet deadlines, or basically just being more productive than you; well dang it! You should respect that! After all, would you want to listen to mindless chatter when you are deep in thought? Absolutely not! Cubicle area is not the area to be social- book a meeting room and move your social party there!
  2. Eliminate personal phone conversations from the cube!– I can’t tell you how much I have learned from people having personal discussions on the phone in their cube. A lot of the things I hear I would prefer to have never heard- you never want to know the intensely personal details of a colleague’s life. I am amazed that people even take personal calls at all in the midst of an intensely quiet work environment. I mean, would you not be somewhat mindful of discussing personal details where everyone can hear you? One time, I even heard a guy discuss his credit score with his wife and their outstanding bank loans. Gah! Take your personal conversations outside where they belong, people! I can’t even.
  3. Cubes don’t have doors, but you should pretend that they do!– I will oftentimes work with headphones- jamming out to the Backstreet Boys station on Pandora or listening to Rob Cesternino’s latest podcast. When I have my headphones on, I do not hear anything else and I get pretty entranced in my work. So much of my job as an Instructional Designer takes a deep amount of concentration that I often get lost in what I am doing. Folks, I cannot even list the number of times I have been faced with a pop-in that has literally made me jump 2 feet off my chair. After said pop-in, it takes me at least an hour to slow my heart beat to a work-able pace and re-focus. Let’s just pretend each cube is really a mini office with a door- find a solid surface and give a girl a courtesy knock!
  4. No tuna fish in the office!– Or anything smelly for that matter. Your left-over tuna fish casserole is probably delicious, but day old fish smell is NOT delicious. Take your fish to the break room, or eat your fish outside; the options of where to eat your fish are endless. Smelly food is a great way to irritate the cubes around you, and then you become that person. What if a client visits after your fish feast? Smells always trigger memories, and that client’s memory of your encounter will always be tuna. Is that how you want to be remembered?
  5. Don’t sit on someone’s desk!– Seriously. I mean seriously- do I even have to write it? Yes, because people believe that having a conversation sometimes requires them to sit right on your desk. This is not an acceptable way to conduct business regardless of how casual your dealings may be.  Note that in this conversational setting you are most likely still sitting at your chair so this arrangement will likely be conducive to putting you at eye-level with the offender’s booty. And can I say germs?? I don’t know where this person has previously sat or when they last time washed their pants! The germ possibilities are endless.

There you have it, folks! A simple etiquette that is easy to follow and will ensure the preservation of your work utopia.

Until next time,

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How a Busy Mom Spends Quality Time with her Kids Everyday

How a Busy Mom Spends Quality Time with her Kids Everyday

There were many nights that I would put my kids to bed and realize that I hadn’t had a true connection with them all day.

I know how that sounds- it sounds awful.

I am their mother; I should be the person who knows them the best; the person that learns the intimate details of each of their lives everyday; and the person that is closer to them than anyone else in the world. It seems that each day I turn into the person constantly telling them ‘no’ and telling them what to do and when to do it; but never truly connecting with them.

After all, I have spent so much of my life dreaming about being a mother- what would my kids be like? What would they inherit from me? What silly little personalities would they develop? There is nothing more satisfying than watching your child grow and discover and learn.

But the truth of the matter is- I am super busy. I work full-time, I am a graduate student, and I am a full-time mom and wife. My kids are in childcare a good portion of the day and I stay busy so that I can provide for my kids- I want them to have the best life imaginable!

I am not making excuses for my lack of connection. Once I came to the realization that my kids’ childhoods were passing by and I was barely noticing; I felt a profound sadness. In trying to provide a better life for my kids and trying to get everything done every single day, am I taking away what they need the most? Their mother?

I realized that I needed to make the most of the time that I have with my children every single day. Sometimes, work needs to be put aside and school can wait; at this point in my life, my kids are my greatest investment.

I started doing 4 little things each day in order to generate a greater connection to my kids. Since making these weekly changes, my relationship with my sons has grown substantially and I feel like I am able to fully experience their childhood while still maintaining my job and other obligations that come in my busy life!

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quality time

How a Busy Mom Spends Quality Time with her Kids Everyday

Dinner as a Family Every Single Night

This one is important and it is why I put it first. Dinner time is always a great time to connect with your kids. I can remember only a few instances growing up that I did not have dinner with my mom and dad and my brother. Dinner was always the time we could talk to our parents about our day and hear about their day, and basically discuss whatever we wanted. I know that this can be hard to do with varying schedules and work and activities and the numerous other daily life obligations, but once you make dinner an obligation and you force the other stuff to wait, you are on your way to making daily dinner a habit.

My boys look forward to dinner now. The moment we get home from school/work, they start asking me (every 5 minutes!) if dinner is ready yet. My 1 year-old, Vincent, even likes to help me make dinner. He will grip the spatula with me and help fry up the chicken or he will carry the boys’ plates to the table.  Dinner has become a family event.

The best part about the whole thing is that I am learning so much about my kids. They tell me all about their day- who they played with at daycare, what they ate for their snack, who is going to whose birthday party- the important things in a kids’ life :)! And in turn, my husband and I tell them about OUR days. They do not understand everything, but this conversation teaches them to articulate, to listen to other people, and to be respectful as they learn to interact with others.

Even if we only have 20 minutes for dinner because we are having an especially busy day, we make a point to all sit down together for that 20 minutes. Whether you have 20 minutes or 2 hours, your kids will remember any quality time that they spend with you.

Turn the Radio Off

My commute to and from my kids’ daycare is about 10 minutes. These commutes used to be somewhat quiet rides- I would have the radio on with a morning show in the background or an audio book or a podcast playing, and the kids would look out the window quietly. Now- I make it a point to turn off all noise and instead talk to my kids all the way to and all the way from daycare. Really, I turn the radio off anytime I am in the car with my kids. You wouldn’t believe all the things I have learned about my kids during this time! I almost look forward to getting in the car each morning and sometimes even take the scenic route to daycare just to squeeze in a few more minutes of quality-kid conversation.

I ask the boys what they are going to do that day, who they want to play with, what they see outside the window, what color they are wearing, what they want me to make for dinner, and so on and so forth! The question opportunities are endless! Sometimes we will sing songs together or play little games of trying to spot certain objects out the window. I also encourage the boys to talk to each other. If I ask Dominic what he wants for dinner, I then tell Dominic to ask Giovanni what he wants for dinner. Not only am I connecting with my kids and learning more about them, I am encouraging their language skills and teaching them new words and how to express themselves. This is so much better than any audio book!

10 minutes of Active Time Together

I am a firm believer that staying active makes a kid happier and healthier. My kids always get plenty of active time. Even during the cold winter months I like to bundle my kids up and make them run around outside. Even playing chase around the house gets the kids off the couch and running around! Most of the time- my kids play with each other.

One day, I had 10 minutes of free time while dinner was cooking and decided to join my kids on the trampoline. We played ‘mommy monster’, one of their favorite games. It is an easy game- I chase them and growl :)! Not only did I get a little exercise, mommy monster became a hit! That night as I was folding laundry, my Dominic came up to me unprompted and gave me a kiss and said, “love you mommy monster”. There are no sweeter words! I realized that playing with my kids, even for 10 minutes, can have such a profound impact on our relationship. In addition- I am showing the kids that being active and exercising is important, even for a mommy monster :)!

Read Together Every Night

Reading is so important. The best way to demonstrate this importance to your kids is by reading with them every single night. In turn, you are spending quality time with your kids while essentially building their brains and teaching them numerous things. We read one book a night. My kids are still young, so the books do not necessarily have to be long books, but the boys look forward to their book each night. We rotate which kids gets to pick out the nightly reading and we do not put any guidelines on what they can pick. My husband and I rotate reading each night, but whoever is not reading sits on the bed with the kids and actively listens.

After the book, we always asks the kids what happened during the book and which character they liked best. Quality time + reading comprehension is a win-win!

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While there are numerous things that you can do with your kids to build your relationship and foster a strong sense of family, these four things: dinner together every night, turning the radio off, 10 minutes of active time, and reading together every night are really easy things that you can do each day that will have a profound impact on your relationship with your kids.

I go to bed every night feeling like I have made the most of my day with my children; like I know who my children are, who they are developing into, and how I can have a daily impact on them.

Until next time,

Erica

5 Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night (By 12 Weeks Old!)

5 Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night (By 12 Weeks Old!)

It has been the same story since I was a kid- if I do not get 8 hours of sleep each night, I will inevitably get sick or turn into a real version of The Walking Dead. That last part is obviously an exaggeration, but you catch my drift. And even worse- anyone that has to deal with the post-crappy sleep Erica will definitely regret that they even know me. Let’s just  say this: I am a girl who loves my sleep.

When I found out that I was going to have twins (my first pregnancy!), one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was OMGosh- I am never going to sleep again!

I know that a lot of moms can relate to that sentiment.

How on earth am I supposed to take care of two babies if I am not rested? Personally, this just would not work for me. In addition, I am not a stay-at-home mom and I planned on keeping my job- which at the time, was that of a middle-school geography teacher. I could not imagine staying up all night with two babies and then going to school at 7am and teaching hormonal adolescents until 4pm! YIKES!

I am someone who Googles and researches to the extreme when I have an sort of worry or issue. The market for Baby Sleep Tricks is flooded with a ton of contradictory information that can be difficult to navigate. Someone is telling you to “not spoil your baby” while another someone is telling you that it is “impossible to spoil a baby”. I borrowed tricks and tips from several different books and articles and blogs- but I ultimately found my own method that worked best for me in getting my babies to sleep through the night.

4 years later, I am a happily-rested individual who is working full-time and has successfully sleep-trained 3 boys to sleep through the night by the time they were 12 weeks old. My method has been so effective that my boys have never experienced sleep regressions, difficulty sleeping when they are sick or teething, or difficulty adjusting to time changes or seasonal changes.

I want to share 5 of my main tips in hope that they will work for you as you begin the process of sleep training your baby! Remember, all of these tips take time and I generally believe it takes a week or a new method to transform into a habit.

*I want to note that I read a lot of resources on the subject and some of my tips are variations of sleep training methods that are already ‘out there’. However, any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author. All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Living Generation Millennial makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information. 

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Baby STTN

5 Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night (By 12 Weeks Old)

1.Wait Until the Time is Right– Babies who are younger than 8 weeks really cannot be sleep trained. First of all, they are too little. Second of all, they are still used to being awake at night and sleeping during the day. When they were in the womb, your movement during the day essentially rocked them to sleep and your lack of movement at night kept them up. This is the time to cuddle up your baby and give them comfort and love :). It is important that your baby eat and grow during the first 8 weeks of their lives; it is a strange new world for your baby! I did not start the sleep training process until my boys were at least 8 weeks old, were eating 28-32 ounces a day and weighed 10lbs. Some sources will say that you can start sooner than this, but these are the numbers that worked like a charm for me!

2. Feed on a Schedule & Use the Bonus 5th Feeding– I know this can be a highly debated topic; whether to feed on demand or feed on a schedule. As a mom, you have to choose what is right for you; this is no proven correct method!

However, I found that feeding on demand will bring your baby to sleep harmony so much faster. And if you are like me, this is the ultimate goal! I stated above that I do not sleep train until at least 8 weeks old, but I will say that I do try to make good habits happen before the baby is 8 weeks. My boys’ eating schedule looked like this:

  • Every 2 1/2 hours their first 2 weeks
  • Every 3 hours from weeks 3-8
  • Every 4 hours when I started sleep-training (in this case, after 8 weeks)

So, my boys were typically eating at 7am, 11am, 3pm and then 7pm when they would go to sleep for the night. That was just our schedule, you have to adjust for what works in your family.

Now, that bonus 5th feeding comes into play. I noticed that my babies would be hungrier in the evening so oftentimes I would add a bonus 5th feeding in between the 3pm and the 7pm feedings. This feeding would generally have less ounces than the other feedings but allow the babies to get to 7pm and not be hungry. Your 4-5 feedings per day should add up to 32 ounces. If you are breastfeeding and you do not know how many ounces your baby is eating- you could try to pump for a day to see how much you are producing and that would give you good insight into how much your baby is currently eating (this is what I did). If you are exclusively breast feeding and not pumping, you probably have a good idea of when your baby is full anyway. For my boys, 32 ounces was the amount of milk that they needed to make it through the night. If your baby is not able to drink this amount of milk spread between 5 feedings, you can adjust the timings between feedings as it works for your baby. The important thing is that you stick to the feeding schedule that you set & and you do not let a feeding last longer than 30 minutes.

3. Don’t Rock Your Baby to Sleep, Use White Noise Instead!– I rocked my babies in the first few weeks of their lives because I was just SO excited to be a mom and have sweet little babies to rock- but never rocked them to sleep. Nor did I let a swing rock them to sleep. My babies all slept in their cribs the very first night they came home from the hospital. It is important for the baby to learn to sleep in their crib right off the bat so you do not have to make this adjustment later. My boys always loved their crib because they had never slept in anything different. This was their own personal space from the beginning. Swings and bouncy seats are great for soothing a fussy baby, but I never recommend letting your baby sleep in them.

Instead of rocking my babies, I invested in a sound machine to play white noise for my babies as they went to sleep. Babies do not like quiet environments and logically that makes sense! They just came from a noisy womb.

Our sound machine worked like a charm in getting our babies to fall asleep and stay asleep!

4. Early Bedtimes- My twins are 4 and they still go to bed at 6:30pm. Over the years, this has been met with varying opinions, and oftentimes people cannot believe that I put my kids to bed so early. But they are kids- and sleep is good for kids; it is the time that they grow, heal & re-energize.

I realized when my babies were young that the earlier they went to bed, the longer they slept-in and the better they slept throughout the night. My youngest son, Vincent, started out with a 7pm bedtime, but he kept waking up earlier than his ideal first feeding. Once we moved his bedtime to 6:30pm, he easily slept until 6:30am the next morning. I have offered up this tip to several of my friends in the past- if your baby keeps getting up early, put them to bed earlier. It has ALWAYS works like a charm.

5. Be Consistent- Babies can sense when they are able to dictate the schedule. But this baby is joining your life and becoming a member of your family, it is important that they adapt to that family. You must be consistent in your feeding routine, your early bedtimes, and your resistance to rocking your baby to sleep. If you allow yourself to break your own rules- even once- your baby will expect this in the future.

For example, if your baby simply won’t go to sleep at night and you think, “I will just rock them this one time”, the baby will come to expect this comfort every single time. I cannot stress the importance of training your baby to fall asleep without you! Learning to self-soothe is an important skill!  I love my children very much and that is why I want them to be sleep-self-sufficient. Now, whenever one of my 4 year olds gets a cold or my 1 year old is teething or we are faced with Daylight Savings Time, there are absolutely no disruptions in their sleep because they have learned to self-soothe.

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These tips should work for a baby of any age! If you are reading this and thinking- well shoot, my baby is already a year old!- it doesn’t matter! It is NEVER too late to start sleep training your baby!

These are my top 5 tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night. I hope that they can help you and bring you some much-needed rest!

Until next time,

Erica

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Halloween + Star Wars + Survivor

Halloween + Star Wars + Survivor

I would have to say that Halloween was pretty epic this year. The kids dressed up as Star Wars characters:

Dominic- Storm Trouper

Giovanni- Darth Vader

Vincent- Chewbacca

Spooktacular (and Star Wars)
Spooktacular (and Star Wars)

With the new Episode VII coming to theaters on December 17th- Star Wars was basically seen everywhere. Normally I strive for original costumes that you are not going to see pop up mainstream. However, the kids being Star Wars characters was a victory for my husband and I. Prior to July when I ordered my kids’ costumes, neither child was interested in the movie. Fast forward three months and we are eating Star Wars mac & cheese and Star Wars cereal and we will only wear clothes that have a giant Darth Vader or Storm Trouper on the front and we are making sure our breath is fresh with Yoda mints. It is pretty wonderful. This is considered a personal victory in my household. I will never get tired of Star Wars, and now that Disney has taken over the franchise, we will never living a world where we don’t see at least one Star Wars related item/mention each day. Fine by me.

This is also the first year that JR and I tried to get on Jimmy Kimmel’s “I told my kids I ate their halloween candy” segment. We have been waiting for the day that our kids were old enough to be tricked by Jimmy’s genius plot. I have always secretly hoped that when we did this, the twins would respond sweetly and not throw a fit- I’ve tried my best to raise them as sugar-free and polite as possible. However, this certainly was not the case. There were tears; there were attempts to slap JR and I; and there were reprimands that we were only allowed to have ‘one piece’ (which from a 3 year old is hilarious). We didn’t make the show this year; but we are pretty committed to pulling this prank on the kids every year.

JR & I did not participate in the Star Wars theme. First of all- adult costumes were pricey. Second of all- my main love right now is the show Survivor. I convinced JR to be Jeff Probst and I of course was a sole Survivor. The costumers were put together an hour before trick-or-treating and I got a twitter reply from Jeff Probst himself (after tweeting him a picture of our costumes)- so I consider our Survivor costumes a success as well.

I can only hope that next year’s Halloween will be this epic.

Jeff Probst & Sole Survivor
Jeff Probst & Sole Survivor

Until next time,

Erica

How to Survive Series: Cold & Flu Season

How to Survive Series: Cold & Flu Season

I’m a summer girl at heart.

Sunshine, swimsuits, longer days and warmer nights, vibrant colors and daily outside activities are the ingredients of my ideal life.

When the air starts to get cold and the leaves fall off the trees, my seasonal anxiety goes into full force. Sure, fall is pretty and whatever- but all I am thinking of is November 1st, the unofficial start to Cold & Flu season; it always hits me like a ton of bricks.

When you have three young kids in daycare and a husband that is a teacher, you know sickness is almost inevitable.

Or is it?

My winter-hate has fueled my research and I have come up with a list of ways you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy during Cold & Flu season! For my family- these work every time!

*I am not a doctor. This blog is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. All opinions are based on my own research and observation.

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Probiotics Probiotics are my favorite little critters in the entire world! Probiotics are super trendy right now- but for good reason! The research backs the many benefits of consuming quality probiotics on a daily basis. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health and specifically your digestive system. Much of this bacteria is naturally found in your body and adding a probiotic supplement can help fight the ‘bad’ bacteria in your system and keep your stomach environment balanced.  Probiotics can be found naturally in many different foods, especially fermented foods and various dairy products. Probiotics have even been shown to improve skin conditions like eczema, allergies, oral health, and the prevention of colds!

Some of my favorite foods that include probiotics are: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh, dark chocolate, and algae.

It is important to find a quality probiotic supplement and my suggestion is probiotics that you have to keep in the refrigerator; these seem to be evident of higher quality. My family uses Jarrow probiotics- they are widely reviewed as high-quality probiotics and they even made several options for kids! You can obtain Jarrow from most health-food stores or online- just make sure they will ship them cold!

Baby's Jarro-Dophilus
Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus

Hand Washing- Wash your hands. All the time. Period. Wash them when you get home. Wash them after you go to the bathroom. Wash them before you eat. This is such a simple way to prevent illness! I read somewhere that your hands are dirtier than the inside of your mouth! That being said- I avoid touching my eyes, nose or mouth if I have not washed my hands.

Clean Eating + Greens  As the old adage goes, you are what you eat! Okay, so this one is pretty obvious. 75% of your immune system is in your gut! If you are eating well and getting all of the recommended daily vitamins and nutrients, your chances of getting sick go way down. Nutrient-rich food over processed food is going to have a profound impact on your overall health.

During the winter months I try to cram as much spinach down my family’s throats as possible. I put spinach in their smoothies, I serve spinach salad each night, and I like to finely chop spinach and hide it in various things like tomato sauce or lasagna. My kids- as most normal kids go- are not too keen on eating spinach. But when it is hidden in a smoothie or their favorite tomato sauce, they have no idea! Mom gets a point!

Here are some other immune boosting foods: yogurt (we eat this every day, no exceptions), oats & barley, garlic, bone broth, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli, ginger, almonds, turmeric, green tea.

Apple Cider Vinegar A quick internet search will give you several uses of apple cider vinegar- this stuff is liquid gold! My husband and I have two teaspoons per day and the kids have one teaspoon per day. You can mix it with water or juice, drink it like a shot, or mix it with honey (this method is preferred when you have a sore throat!). Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be a weight-loss tool as it boosts your metabolism; it also helps lower your blood sugar level, contains iron, calcium, and potassium, and helps keep germs in our bodies under control!

We take it to ward of ailments; ACV puts your stomach in an alkaline state and many viruses and bacteria have a tough time in a non-acidic stomach! My favorite brand is Bragg’s because they contain ‘the mother’- strands of enzymes and proteins and friendly bacterial. You can find Bragg’s at most grocery stores.

Bragg's ACV
Bragg’s ACV

Essential Oils- I used to be a skeptic of this one. Now, I am so convinced of their immune-boosting capabilities that I sell oils for an awesome EO company (email me at ericaln26@gmail.com if you’re interested in learning more!). Essential oils are naturally obtained by distillation of plants and other natural sources and have been used for thousands of years to heal naturally. You can use the oils aromatically, topically, or internally.

My family mainly diffuses germ-fighting oil blends during the winter and applies them topically to ward of ailments (soles of the feet and spine of the back). I personally use lavender daily as a calming agent through the winter. The oils have the added perk of always making your house smell great!

Exercise- It is hard to get your exercise in during the winter- but it is oh-so-important for keeping yourself healthy! Exercise improves your mood, boosts your energy and significantly strengthens your immune system. I make my kids go outside and run around for at least 30 minutes a day. If there is snow on the ground or it is bitterly cold (as it usually is in the deep winter months in Nebraska) I still make them go outside. They have hats, they have gloves, they have coats- they can handle the cold! Exercising even just 20 minutes per day has been shown to have dramatic health benefits and I notice that my kids sleep better when they have had a significant amount of outside time.

There you have it folks- a few simple ways to keep yourselves healthy during this Cold & Flu season!

Until next time,

Erica

How to Survive Series: Fantasy Football Season

How to Survive Series: Fantasy Football Season

I used to love August.

It is the month of my birth, it is back-to-school shopping, it is still so warm outside, and hey- it is National Goat Cheese month (I love me some goat cheese).

Now August is a drag. Not only is August the ‘Sunday of Summer’, August is the month that my husband starts setting up his multiple Fantasy Football drafts and leagues.

UGH

January thruJuly go by and I nearly forget about the trials and tribulations of living with a Fantasy Football-obsessed man during the fall.

My husband normally has at least three leagues that he participates in, and these leagues are no joke. They are about as serious as Fantasy Football can get. At the beginning of August (sometimes even late July -yikes) the group texts start. Group texts are almost as unbearable as Fantasy Football itself. His buddies & him text about the new rules of the league, who had better luck in their mock draft, whether they should do a keeper league and who they are going to keep this year, and the shortcomings of the commissioner. What should trade rules be this year? Should we adjust points in the various categories? Who is injured? Who is a sleeper-pick? Etc etc. This is all really serious business, too. Even with the wonders of the Internet and all of its capabilities, it is a requirement for the Fantasy Footballers to get together in a 4 hour long draft to make their expert decisions while binging on pizza and deciding the all-important draft order. If someone decides to auto draft they are basically screwed and ostracized by the other group members.

Now, I fully realize that I could be getting a lot of the FF terminology incorrect. After all- I am simply an observer of the obsessive-ness that occurs in my house, and many houses with the approaching Fantasy Football season.

Pre-marriage I was totally supportive of my husband and his dealings and his leagues. I would even ask him about his strategy of who to bench and who to play. This was when I was all about being the best girlfriend ever! Now, and especially having kids- unless you’re making a monetary gain off of this stuff- I do not want to hear about it!

Survive

That being said- Fantasy Football continues to dominate our house… so rather than fight the phenomenon, I have come up with some strategies to survive Fantasy Football season. Thus far, I am half way through the season and people- it is bearable.

  1. Earplugs/Headphones– These are a must. Most of your Thursday nights, Sunday days and nights, and Monday nights will be filled with the sound of announcers getting overly-excited about a bunch of tough guys throwing an odd-shaped ball around. The same plays happen over and over, yet it is still somehow novel and exciting. On those 4 glorious days that NFL football is not on TV- my husband manages to make sure his Matthew Berry podcast is on full volume- you know, just in case the house was missing football action. Headphones provide a solution. First, they are to be utilized on football nights and days; buy an audiobook, download an interesting podcast, or listen to some music! The football-er will still be happily watching football and you won’t have to hear a single word of it! Also- when he starts to blare Berry, offer the headphones as gift to him. Problem solved! And hey, if you don’t want any noise at all- ear plugs, a hot bath & a glass of merlot will do the trick.
  2. Bacon– Bacon is the fad these days. Let’s face it, bacon has always been a fad. Pretty much everything in the world tastes a tad better when you add bacon to the mix. Even the recent reports that charred bacon is a carcinogen and causes cancer is most likely not going to remove the cool factor from bacon. What doesn’t cause cancer these days? Bacon can also be an effective survival tool for Fantasy Football season. I recommend brunching on Sundays and including bacon as your main dish. You will need to start cooking about 20 minutes before the first game so you can fill the kitchen with the smell of delicious bacon. If your football-nut is like my husband, the smell of a gourmet bacon meal will lure them away from anything that is on the TV. While said football-nut is enjoying that bacon, take the opportunity to switch the channel to HGTV or something not annoying. The football-nut can’t even be mad because you JUST made a delicious brunch with bacon as the main course! Stay tuned for bacon recipes to come.
  3. Guilt Factor– The first few weeks of Fantasy Football is not the time to use the guilt factor. The season just started, an early win or loss can set the tone of the season and give you a read on your team, and the excitement of the new season beginning is just too intense. However, by about week 4 or 5, you can definitely start guilt-tripping your football-lover into spending more time with you. Use phrases like, “All you ever think of is football and not me!” or “I made you that exquisite brunch with bacon and you have yet to show me appreciation in the form of time!”, and if you’re playing dirty “Everything I do is to better our relationship, everything you do is to better your football team.. who did you make vows to?!”. Only you know the best way to guilt-trip your football-fan… number three should be easy.
  4. Join ’em & Beat ’em– Last but not least, the most effective way to survive any Fantasy Football season is by joining a league yourself. You do not need to know anything about football or the players to be successful at Fantasy Football. Many people would disagree with my statement; but as someone who has won her league in her inaugural year, I stand by this statement. Of the 17 match-ups I have had with my husband over the past 6 years, he has only beaten me twice. 2/17! If you want to get your football-fan to stop talking about football 24/7, all you need to do is beat them in the weekly match-up and they will shut right up! You can add some music to your morning alarm the next morning as a reminder of your football-prowess; I suggest Queen’s We Are the Champions, it works like a charm. In addition, having a team of your own will make football slightly more bearable. In your quest to win, you will find the players a bit more interesting and find yourself actual rooting (gasp) for certain teams, QBs, kickers, defenses -etc. This will making your football-fan so happy; you will be doing something together! Maybe there will not be as much football talk if you can school your football-fan in a match-up? It is all about survival here, folks.

Remember, January is right around the corner! Stay strong!

Until next time,

Erica