ditching cable and streaming TV

18.05.15

How to ditch cable and stream TV @ohbotherblog

I get questions every so often from people who are interested in ditching cable, so I figured I’d put this down in one place once and for all.

When I moved last fall, I chose not to bring my cable package with me. Since having kids, my personal TV-watching time has decreased, but I couldn’t give up television entirely because, yes, I let my kids watch TV sometimes (!) and because my dad (aka my daycare) appreciates being able to watch TV throughout the day. So here’s what we do in my house:

  1. I switched to Verizon as my Internet provider (about $56 a month for the enhanced Internet package to accommodate streaming.)
  2. I have a Roku, which ranges from $39.99-$99.99 on Amazon.
    1. I also have an Apple TV in my upstairs bedroom, though I actually prefer the Roku.
  3. I have Amazon Prime Instant Video through my Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom account ($99/year, so $8.25/month).
    1. There are some shows/movies that require purchase, so I try to be discerning. For example, Season 2 of Yo Gabba Gabba is free on Amazon Prime, but you have to purchase other episodes or seasons. I finally broke down and purchased Season 4 for my own sanity.
  4. I have Hulu Plus for new episodes and full seasons of current TV shows and some movies ($7.99/month).
  5. I have Netflix for movies, older seasons of TV shows and Netflix Original Series, like House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Orange is the New Black ($7.99/month).
    1. If you can do without the Netflix Originals, this is a platform you could probably forego as there is quite a bit of overlap with Amazon and Hulu.
  6. I just signed up for Sling TV, which allows you to stream live TV on cable networks like Disney Channel, ABC Family (because I love Pretty Little Liars), AMC, ESPN, TBS, HGTV, Food Network and more ($20/month). You can also add HBO for an additional $15 a month.
    1. I signed up for Sling essentially just to be able to watch the Mad Men series finale live but it’s looking like it may become an integral part of our TV routine.
  7. I purchased a AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna for $24.99, which attaches to the wall behind the TV and gets me two networks (NBC and Fox)… and their weird digital channels (my Fox station has a digital channel that has all 1970’s sitcoms).
    1. This has been great for my avid Dateline viewing and some live events like awards shows that are on NBC or Fox.

So, for a $65-75 starting investment (Roku Stick + digital antenna), you can take the first step of saying goodbye to cable. Yes, I am still paying about $100 a month for my Internet and various streaming channels, but it’s less than I was paying for cable + Internet previously and I essentially have on-demand access to just about any TV show or movie imaginable. And, it keeps both my toddler and my dad happy. Annnnnd, most of these channels have mobile apps as well so you can stream on your phone or tablet.

By the way, if you don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership, I highly recommend, if only for the free two-day shipping. I Prime everything, including toilet paper (TMI?).

on working, mom guilt and saying “no”

17.05.15

Coming down from a very busy week that was filled with various work-related and networking activities, I wanted to share a bit about some things I’ve been struggling with lately. 

If you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should, btw), you’ll see a mix of photos, from what I’m eating for lunch, to Holdy’s outfit of the day (#whatholdywore):

 

#whatholdywore: a ridiculous outfit and a bad attitude #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

To photos like this:

 

 

Just another Thursday. @arthur_daughter @susquehannastyle

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

I count myself as very lucky to have a job that essentially blends seamlessly with my personal life. As Marketing Director for Downtown Inc in downtown York, it’s pretty much my job to tell everyone about all the fantastic things going on in our town. A lot of time that requires me attending those fantastic things. Other times, it requires me planning them. So that means, basically, that I work a lot. But I love it. As my boss says, “it’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle.” And I really believe that to be true.

That does mean, however, that finding a work-life balance has some additional challenges for me. Whenever possible (and appropriate), I love to include my kids in my work. In truth, I’m doing all of this for them: working to build them a town that they can be proud of and will hopefully want to come home to. Holden loves coming to the pretzel shop:

 

Surprise pretzel shop visit by #weefees

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 And attending some of our downtown family-friendly events:

 

My little #gogreenyork buddy! #weefees

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

But most of the time, I’m relying on the kindness of my parents (without whom I could not survive) or family friends to watch the kids while I “work.” I just recently (hallelujah!) found a non-family/friend babysitter who has a license and is reliable, which I’m sure will be a game-changer.

I am acutely aware of the judgment I receive sometimes. This week in particular, I could tell my dad was annoyed by the schedule changes and juggling. It’s even gotten back to me that some feel my parents are “raising my children for me,” which is beyond hurtful to hear.

Which brings me to the guilt and the struggle. The guilty mom struggle is real. I know that I need to start saying “no” to some extracurricular things that take me out of the house, particularly during the week. I say “no” to Holden all the time; why is it so hard for me to do it elsewhere? A lot of what I am doing outside of the house is for the kids–a new board appointment for example; though I can’t use that excuse for everything. But then again… do I need an excuse?

I’ve read some articles recently about a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in April 2015 that concluded the amount of time mothers spend with their children, ages 3 to 11, has little relationship to how successful those kids become in life. Success is far more dependent on the mother’s education level and family income, the report says.

That’s not to say that parent time isn’t important, of course. But it seems to show that quality over quantity is the key. Though if we’re being honest, I’m sure I lack in the quality department sometimes as well.

Some other pieces from the study that felt somewhat validating:

The study also found that mothers today are actually spending more engaged time with their children than they did in the 1970’s, and that’s even with more of them in the workforce.

The report also debunked another common myth: That time spent specifically with mom is better than time spent with anyone else.

Suck on that, haters.

When it comes down to it, there is always going to be judgment. And there’s always going to be guilt… no matter whether you’re working or staying home; whether they’re in daycare or family members are watching them; whether you send them to public school or you home school. You’ve got to get to the point where you feel confident and validated in how you are raising YOUR family.

So… now I’ve just got to work on that. And on saying “no” a bit more.

Here’s more info on that study, if you’re interested:

Mother’s Day in Cape May

12.05.15

 

Every year over Mother’s Day weekend (and again in October), my family visits Cape May as a tribute to my late Nanny. You can read all about it in a previous post and about my fun (funny, wonderful) Nanny here.

This past Mother’s Day, the Ladybugs (my mom, aunts and cousins) and two Stinkbugs (my uncles) made the trek to the shore.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

We always stay at the Marquis de Lafayette, partially because of the large rooms, partially because of the great location, and mostly because of the bangin’ breakfast buffet that includes pounds and pounds of bacon.

The ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

 

Our trip always consists of shopping on the Washington Mall and Happy Hour (that turns into Happy Evening) at Cabana’s Beach Bar & Grill.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

We spend the evening drinking cheap pitchers of cheap beer and dancing to fun cover bands.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

This trip, for something a little different, we visited Willow Creek Winery. It’s super gorgeous and has only been open for 2.5 years. We got a kick out of their Wilde Cock wines.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

I sported by new culottes jumpsuit from Elizabeth & West Fashion House in downtown York, plus my new sun hat, purchased at a Cape May boutique.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

We took our growlers of sangria out to the patio for sunshine and tapas.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

Oh man, the tapas.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

On Mother’s Day, we always head to the beach to “Nanny’s Spot” to spend some time with her.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

We sign balloons and release them into the sky with messages for her.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

And we leave little tokens behind in the rocks where we scattered her ashes.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

This time, as we left the beach, a little visitor tagged along.

The Ladybugs visit Cape May @ohbotherblog

 

We love and miss you, Nanny. Happy Mother’s Day.

A Trip to the North Museum

07.05.15

Holden and I were recently invited to check out the newly-renovated North Museum of Nature and Science in Lancaster, PA. I was excited to have an afternoon to spend as “just the girls,” though my excitement was checked as soon as we got in the car:

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog  

Luckily, she perked up by the time we got to the museum, which is an unassuming building that blends pretty well into the Franklin & Marshall College campus.

IMG_7119

Holden told the sweet lady at the ticket counter that she wanted to see the dinosaurs, but only if they were nice. The lady assured her that there are only nice dinosaurs at the North Museum.

The museum is recently renovated, so there were a few of these signs hanging around:A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

But no real signs of the place being under construction were to be found once inside. I had never visited the North Museum prior to this trip, so I have no comparison, but wowza. Talk about a visual impact as soon as you enter:

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

So many cool things for kids of all ages to play around with.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Lots of hands-on activities to keep little hands busy.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Holden really enjoyed what I’ll call “busy boxes”–themed boxes with different activities inside.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

She did not care for the box full of animal feet.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Anytime she gets to touch a screen is a plus.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Or play with things that move, shake and make noise.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog IMG_7133

We really enjoyed the amphibian and small animal room.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

 We loved these two turtles who were “holding hands.”

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Holden’s favorite exhibits were, of course, the dinosaurs… who were all very nice.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

She wasn’t quite sure what to make of this guy.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

But loved this guy.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

At one point she escaped from me and ran around an “Employees Only” corner, where she was delighted to find this dinosaur butt.

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Overall, a really fun trip, even with an almost-three-year-old. Perfect for a rainy afternoon when you need to get out of the house for everyone’s wellbeing. 

If you go:

www.northmuseum.org

Tuesday – Saturday (10 am – 5 pm)
Sunday (12 noon – 5 pm)

Summer Hours:
June 1 through August 31
Open Mondays throughout the Summer

Museum Only
Adult – $9.00
Youth (3 – 17 years) – $8.00
Senior (65+) – $8.00
Child (2 and under) – Free

Museum & SciDome Theater
Adult – $13.00
Junior (3 – 17 years) – $12.00
Senior (65+) – $12.00
Child (2 and under) – Free

SciDome Theater Only
Adult – $7.00
Youth (3 – 17 years) – $6.00
Seniors (65+) – $6.00
Child (2 and under) – Free

A trip to the North Museum in Lancaster @ohbotherblog

Thanks, North Museum!

 

SPRAY PAINT ALL THE THINGS!

03.05.15

Have I shared with you yet my love for spray paint?

Today, I found some crappy old folding TV tray tables in my basement. Rather than following my first instinct of tossing them, I instead decide to spray paint them fun colors to give them new life.

Spray paint makeover @ohbotherblog

I’ve become slightly obsessed with spray painting things. It’s been my goal in the last year to add more color to my home and spray paint certainly does the trick. I also appreciate that it doesn’t have to be an exact art, so I can be somewhat haphazard in my application.

Have a boring old piece of furniture or home good just sitting around? Pick up a can and go to town. 

Check out some of my other spray painted pieces:

Spray paint makeover @ohbotherblog Spray paint makeover @ohbotherblog Spray paint makeover @ohbotherblog Spray paint makeover @ohbotherblog

(yep, that’s TMNT on TV in the background.)

Viva la spray paint!

 

DIY Party Decorations

19.04.15

GB's red and aqua mustache and bowtie first birthday party @ohbotherblog

Many of you have asked me, “Meg, how did a moron like you manage to make such cute decorations for GB’s party?” Okay, well you didn’t exactly say it like that, but I know you were thinking it.

If you want the truth, the answer is… glue dots! So here’s how I did it:

Cupcake Picks

DIY cupcake pick decorations @ohbotherblog

I punched my circles–one red and one blue for accent colors, and stuck them together with a magic glue dot.

I then rolled up a glue dot for the back of my little mustache because it wasn’t actually a sticker.

DIY cupcake pick decorations @ohbotherblog

Rolled up a glue dot for the back of the lollipop stick and slapped it onto my paper medallion.

DIY cupcake pick decorations @ohbotherblog

Boom. Done.

DIY cupcake pick decorations @ohbotherblog

(Now you understand why I was able to do this myself).
GB's red and aqua mustache and bowtie first birthday party @ohbotherblog
Seriously, so easy.

Paper Banner Bunting

DIY paper bunting banner @ohbotherblog

I printed my own scrapbook paper because I couldn’t find patterns I liked in my color scheme, but you could of course use any scrapbook paper you like.

Print out the bunting template and use it as your model. Cut the paper to match the template.

DIY paper bunting banner @ohbotherblog

Pop on some glue dots and attach the pennants to the jute, cut to whatever length you need. Apply as many pennants as you want to each banner.

DIY paper bunting banner @ohbotherblog

 Boom. Done.

GB's red and aqua mustache and bowtie first birthday party @ohbotherblog

So, like I said, glue dots are clutch. They can make anyone a crafting star.

And that, my friends, is how this moron made decorations for her son’s first birthday party without it being a true Pinterest fail.

Go Green in the City in Downtown York

08.04.15

Central PA parents, I know you’re itching to get your kids outside. May I humbly suggest you take them to an event I’m planning in downtown York next weekend?

Go Green in the City in downtown York PA @ohbotherblog

Go Green in the City
Saturday, April 18

10am-3pm
North Beaver Street and North Pershing Avenue in downtown York

Here’s the deal: this is a family friendly street fair that promotes eco-conscious, local living. From 10am-3pm, we’re taking over 2 blocks of downtown York with:

 Go Green in the City in downtown York PA

  • More than 60 eco-friendly vendors and artisans
  • Local farms and CSAs
  • Mobile food vendors
  • An interactive graffiti moss art project
  • Live music
  • Alpacas (!)
  • Live bees (!)
  • Adoptable dogs
  • A chainsaw artist
  • The WITF Go Green Kid Zone on N. Pershing Ave. (that’s right – I got PBS Kids to sponsor!) with:
    • A 4-H Petting Zoo
    • White Rose Credit Union mini donkeys
    • Kids’ Zumba at noon
    • Face Painting
    • Kids’ Crafts
    • Kids’ Planting Activities
    • A Kids’ DJ
    • “Touch a Truck” Republic Services Trash Truck
    • The Pennsylvania WoodMobile Interactive Classroom

 Go Green in the City in downtown York PA

It’s going to be a really, really great event to bring the kiddos to.

Check out details at www.downtownyorkpa.com/gogreen. Hope to see you there!

 Go Green in the City in downtown York PA

happy 12 months, gb

25.03.15

 happy 12 months, gb @ohbotherblog

He’s a year old now, so we can stop tracking all of this stuff, right?

Weight: 20 lbs

Likes: Eating! Doors! throwing stuff on the floor, climbing up the steps, pulling himself up on everything, stealing things from his sister

Dislikes: Not being paid attention to, being diverted from his target destination (the dog food bowl, the front door), not eating

Eats: Everything and a lot of it. The kid ate a full slice of pizza on his own last night.

Sleeps: A great sleeper–goes down and stays down no problem. Two naps a day.

Teeth: Seven

Accomplishments: Climbing! Pulling up on everything, standing, waving, clapping, high fives, mimicking, screeching, “So big!” Not walking yet–I put some big boy shoes on him and now his legs don’t work anymore.

happy 12 months, gb @ohbotherblog

 

 

 

GB’s First Birthday

23.03.15

While GB’s First Birthday party was Saturday, today, March 23, marked the one-year anniversary of his arrival. March 23 at 2:31pm, to be exact (despite the fact that his birth certificate incorrectly states, “2:41pm.” I was there people–I know! They also originally spelled his name, “Gatsy” so clearly they cannot be trusted.)

I have stolen appropriated the Birthday Clock Photo tradition from my friend’s mom who’s done it my friend’s entire life. The idea is simple: take a photo with your kid on their birthday at their birth time with a clock showing the time they were born.

Take a picture of your child every year on their birthday, holding a clock, at the time they were born. @ohbotherblog
(Thanks, Kel & Alesa!)

Holden was born at 7:23pm, so the time is a bit more manageable. She, of course, is not so manageable.

Birthday tradition: clock photo showing birth time @ohbotherblog

Holden's 2nd birthday @ohbotherbotherblog

To capture GB’s 2:31 photo, I skipped out of work for a bit (sorry, Boss). When I got home, he was napping. I figured I’d just sneak in and snap a quick photo while he slept. Hey–at least it would be kinda funny, right? When I got up there at 2:30, though, he was awake in his crib. Even better. We’ll just sit the clock phone with a clock display in there and snap a shot easy peasy.

Welp.

GB's first birthday @ohbotherblog GB's first birthday @ohbotherblogGB's first birthday @ohbotherblog

I mean, at least it’s better than this, right?

Birthday Tradition: First Clock Photo at Birth Time @ohbotherblog 

Tonight after dinner, I let the little hoss enjoy more birthday cake. While he was a little tentative at his birthday party at first, he seemed to have gotten the hang of it the second time around.

GB's first birthday @ohbotherblog

I told you this kid loves to eat.

GB's first birthday @ohbotherblog GB's first birthday @ohbotherblog

Birfday Sugar Rush! #babyfees #ohbotherblog

A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on


 

Happy Birthday, Little Man! Our lives are so much richer with you in it.

GB's first birthday @ohbotherblog

to my son on his first birthday

23.03.15

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog 

Dear GB,

My sweet, sweet GB. I could tell while I was growing you that you were going to be a gentle soul. You waited until your exact due date to come into this world. I say it’s because you just wanted to hang out with me as long as possible, and you have, indeed, been a Mama’s Boy this first year of your life. Not in a derogatory way, but in the way that you and I have a special bond that is impossible to describe.

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

You are remarkably easygoing, for which I continue to count my blessings because, as we all know, your sister is not what you would call easygoing. You’ve been pleasant and content the entire first year of your life. Once you learned how to smile, you pretty much haven’t stopped. When someone smiles at you, you smile right back. You now have a big toothy (7 teeth!) grin that’s infectious. And you have a special smile that’s just for me that melts my heart every time. You give me the biggest kisses (sometimes with tongue–lol you’re going to be so embarrassed to read that later).

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog 

For the longest time, really the only thing that ever upset you was not being held enough to your liking–as I said, “Mama’s Boy.” I’ve taken advantage of holding, hugging and snugging you as much as I could this past year. You pretty much shared my bed for the first two months of your life. Now that you’re crawling and almost walking (!), your desire to be held is weaning :(

 A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

And oh boy, do you crawl. You climb the stairs like a champ all by yourself. You pull yourself up on everything. You’ve had a few tumbles into the coffee table… sorry about that. You’re strong and determined and persistent. Before you crawled, you rolled everywhere to get to your destination–I would watch you identify your target and then roll across the room to get there. You’re curious and investigative and full of joy. You’re obsessed with doors for some reason.

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog 

You’ve been a wonderful sleeper your entire life. Now when you’re tired, you’ll lay your little head right down on the floor–or on me–and I know it’s time for bed. No fights; no fussing. You’ve slept through the night (10-11 hours) since you were about 15 weeks old. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It really has made raising two kids under the age of three just a little bit easier. 

Newborn only wants to be held @ohbotherblog

 

Newborn only wants to be held @ohbotherblog

Speaking of the second child thing… I’m sorry, Buddy. I’m sorry I only got your photos professionally taken once. I’m sorry I have yet to make a Shutterfly album for you when I made three for Holdy in the first year of her life. I’m sorry most of your toys are your sister’s hand-me-downs. I’m sorry I would sometimes prop your bottle up on a pillow because I wasn’t able to sit and hold you while you drank. I’m sorry that I work long hours and I can’t be with you all the time. It’s tough sometimes, Buddy. I hope you’ll understand. I will make you at least one Shutterfly book though, I promise.

You love to “drum” and I swear, a few times, you’ve mimicked my patterns and rhythms. You and I will have screeching sessions and you’ll match my tone and volume. Your laugh is contagious. You love when I dance like a dork and make up silly songs for you and your sister.

 A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

Oh man, do you love your sister. From very early on, you’ve only had eyes for her. You love to watch her and try to join in what she’s doing. You’ll both probably kill me later for saying this, but you guys love taking baths together. You shriek and laugh and splash, so much so that I usually end up as soaked as the two of you.

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

For her part, Holdy is a wonderful sister and is very good about sharing with you (or at least giving you a consolation toy when she takes one from you). She may get a little rough sometimes with her affection, but she loves you just as fiercely. I can’t wait to watch you grow and play together. I hope you’ll always remain so close. I always tell her if she doesn’t start to eat, her little brother will soon outgrow her so she better treat him nicely.

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblogA letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblogA letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblogA letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

Whoa boy, you love to eat. Since we started you on solids about six months ago, you can’t get enough of food. Often you’ll get hangry and yell at me for not feeding you fast enough. I’ve improvised by mostly allowing you to feed yourself so you can eat at your desired speed. Needless to say, mealtimes around here are messy. You and I usually share dinner… with you eating about 75% of it. We just stopped nursing in the last week or so. I have to admit it makes me kind of sad, though I’m also relieved to take ownership of my body again. I’m proud to say I nursed both of you for a year.

A tale of two eaters - picky toddler and hungry baby @ohbotherblog

GB, it has been my absolute pleasure to be your mom and watch you grow this past year. You’ll probably never understand this, but your arrival into my life saved me. I was forever changed when you were first placed on my chest.

A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

Raising you and your sister has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s also the most important and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job. Sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I break down. But please know I will always try my best to do right by you and Holdy and to make you proud. I hope you’ll always want to be your Mama’s Boy.

 A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog A letter to my son on his first birthday @ohbotherblog

I love you, Buddy. Happy, Happy Birthday.

GB big kisses @ohbotherblog

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