Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tumble, tumble

Yesterday was Broden's first tumbling class!

We went last week to check out the gym and he wanted to start that day. We signed him up for a trial class to see if he would really like it. That trial class was last night.

Since this would be his first time involved in some sort of class outside of church that wasn't a mommy-&-me class, I made sure to speak about it frequently throughout the day to get him geared up and ready for it.

My efforts weren't much help. He was fine until it came time to line up for class. That's when the waterworks and leg clinging began.

He spent about 40 minutes of the 45 minute class standing next to Kyle watching the other kids participate. It wasn't until the instructor introduced the marshmallow pit that he decided to give the class a try. 

We talked about the whole ordeal after class and he has decided that he wants to give it another try. Although, he did say that he's still probably not going to like the stretching part of class for a while. Hopefully after a few more classes he'll warm up enough to enjoy all that the class entails.

Vada will be starting her Beginning Girls Gymnastics class next Tuesday. She is very excited! She's already started practicing her flips on my bed, making me realize that as long as they're in gymnastics I will probably always have a disheveled looking bed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Top Ten Cleaning Tricks & Tips

The past few days have been spent trying to get my house clean. Not just a wipe-off-the-counters clean. More of a semi-deep clean. Maybe it's the nesting instinct kicking in a little early, but the littlest things make me cringe. From dust and fur on the baseboards to the layer of lint coating the floor underneath the washer. I still have a long way to go, but soon I'll be finished. Probably just in time to start all over again.

So, with cleaning on my mind, I decided to dedicate this post to my top ten favorite tips & tricks I've learned thus far.

FYI: I consider laundry a "cleaning" chore.

1. Baking soda to get whites whiter.

I read this in a magazine ages ago, but didn't try it until just a few months ago. We used to have a white duvet cover that just kept looking dingier and dingier as time went by. Even after being washed all on it's own. I gave this trick a try and it really worked!

I sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup, maybe a little less, into a large load of whites and it brightens them right up.

2. Shaving cream as a stain remover.

This I hijacked from the book Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean.

A few weeks ago I was driving the kids to Storytime at our local library after stopping my Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Soy Steamer. So, I'm driving along when I pick up my drink to take a sip of it. Little did I know that the lid wasn't placed on securely. As I tipped the cup towards my mouth, Pumpkin Spice Steamer poured right down my white shirt and tan cardigan.

Soon after Storytime, we went home and I immediately treated the stains with Resolve laundry stain remover. It didn't work. I used bleach on my white shirt and it did the trick on my white shirt, but I couldn't bleach my cardigan. I pulled down Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean and tried her trick with dish soap. I washed the cardigan, but that didn't work either. That's when I moved on to the shaving cream tip. While you can still faintly see the stain, it's only noticeable if you know to look for it.

3. Dish soap & white vinegar as a bathtub cleaner.

A little advice I received from a friend who heard about it through Pinterest.

One part vinegar to one part dish soap. My friend puts it in a spray bottle and just sprays her shower with it, let's it sit for a couple hours, and then washes it away with the detachable shower head. I, however, knew that my shower would need a little scrub in addition to this concoction. Instead of using a spray bottle, I bought myself one of those dish scrubbers that allows you to fill the handle with dish soap. I added the mixture into the handle and began scrubbing. I let it sit for approximately one hour and then rinsed every surface with water. Worked like a charm. The best part about it: it's safer than store-bought cleaning agents jam packed with chemicals. Especially since I am pregnant.

4. Lemons as a stain lifter for grout.

Our kitchen has nasty tiled countertops. I would like to know which genius thought it would be a great idea to use white tiles with white grout as the countertops in our kitchen and bathrooms, because he needs a good slap in the face. It's not just the fact that it's all white, but the tiles make it impossible to roll out dough for cookies.

I knew lemon juice could be used as a home cleanser and disinfectant, but I had no idea how amazing they really were until I saw how well and fast they pulled various food stains out of the white grout in the kitchen, and toothpaste stains out of the grout in the bathroom.

5. Baking soda as a carpet powder.

With two dogs sharing our living quarters with us, what little carpet we have in our house begins to stink like dog after a while. Especially our bedroom, which is where they sleep. Instead of buying over-priced and chemical-ridden carpet powder to sprinkle on our carpeted floors I instead use plain ol' baking soda (which is an ingredient in the pet carpet powder anyway). I sprinkle it onto our carpets, let it sit for an hour or so, then vacuum. It absorbs the most invasive odors fairly well, and it isn't loaded with perfumes that clash with the scent of my candles and pillow spray.

6. Newspaper as a container deodorizer.

I learned about this months ago at a Tupperware party. Simply put some old newspaper into your stinky food containers, or garbage can, and it will absorb any odors leftover from foods that were previously stored in it. One of my pet peeves is going to use a clean container to store that evenings dinner in, but when I crack open the lid I can still smell last weeks dinner in it. Yuck!

7. Vinegar water for...well...just about anything.

One part vinegar, one part water. Dip your rag into the mixture and use it when cleaning the baseboards or wiping down doors. Use the warmest water your hands can stand in the mixture and use it to clean the shelves in you refrigerator. Poor the solution in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for 30-60 seconds. Everything crusted onto the walls of your microwave will wipe right off. Anything really. It may be stinky for a little while, but vinegar is awesome at killing germs and bacteria. It's also not a harsh chemical, making it a safe cleaning agent for the environment.

8. Disposable non-latex gloves.

I personally cannot stand reusable rubber gloves. I wash my dishes with my bare hands. Sure, they feel a little dry afterwards, but I just keep applying lotion for about an hour. When cleaning, especially when I'm using cleaners which contain bleach (I'm trying to use up all that I have left, and once it's gone I don't plan on buying more), I wear disposable non-latex gloves instead. Yes, the kind you find in the doctors office used to examine the human body. I buy them in bulk at Costco and they last us months. Vada also uses them to pick up dog poo.

9. Baking soda & vinegar as a toilet bowl cleaner.

One part vinegar and one part baking soda poured into the toilet bowl. Works just as well as the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner I had been spending precious money on. Once again, much safer for you and the environment than chemicals. It is also less frustrating for me to use than those pesky toilet cleaner bottles. Only a handful of times has it actually come out of the spout correctly. Instead, it would pour out from the underside of the twist cap, making a mess all down the side of the bottle.

10. Tea Tree oil as a Goo Gone substitute.

I confess, I haven't actually tried this one yet, but when I read about it here I knew I would use this eventually. I am saver of glass food jars. Spaghetti sauce jars, jelly jars, salad dressing jars, wine bottles, etc. I just can't bring myself to put these jars into our glass recycling bin. They have so many good uses left in them! I frequently use Goo Gone to remove the glue leftover from the labels. Some glues are rather strong and require the Goo Gone process two or three times. If I can use Tea Tree oil instead for a more environmentally-friendly solution to removing stubborn glue then I'm all for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top Ten Stocking Stuffers for Kids

With holiday music playing in the stores, and Black Friday quickly approaching (yes, I'm one of THOSE people) I have been thinking more and more about Xmas (that's right. I take the "Christ" out of Christmas and make it Xmas). My kids know that this year, with a little sister on the way, gifts will be limited and only one toy on their list will be purchased by us. We have given our family a $100 per person Xmas budget. This, of course, does not include stocking stuffers. I've never really put a limit on the total amount spent on stocking stuffers. I like to keep each item under $5...$12 max. How many items in each persons stocking just depends on how bulky the stuffers are.

This year, these are my top ten picks for kid stocking stuffers:

1. Toothbrush

I know what you're thinking: She probably hands out dental floss at Halloween too. No, we actually don't hand out anything because we go trick-or-treating with the kidlets.

Believe it or not, my children actually get excited over new toothbrushes. I mean, there are so many options out there. You never know which one you might find in your stocking. Will it have a tongue scrubber on it? Is it one that requires batteries? Does it come with a toothbrush cover/case? So many options!

2. CableDrop Cable Clips

Weighing in at less than $2/each, these would be loved in my household. The kids could attach them to their nightstands for their iPod charger cords. If we couldn't find a use for the others around the house (they come in a pack of six) I'm sure Kyle could use them at work.

Now that Vada is finally beginning to really reading, this is a given. She can use it in the car during road trips or on nights when she wants to read herself to sleep. It would also come in handy during  story time in Broden's room. His ceiling light and bedside table lamp don't cast the best of light to read by.

4. Art Supplies

Things such as crayons, kid-friendly scissors, paintbrushes, finger paints, etc.

My kids love doing arts & crafts (Vada just recently so), as I am sure many others do as well. So, anything to utilize their creativity would be well received.

5. Mittens or Gloves

Kids are notorious for losing one glove somewhere. When Vada was about four years old, I'm pretty sure I bought her about six new pairs of gloves in one winter because she kept coming home with only one. I even bought her two sets of those mitten clasps that are supposed to prevent lost gloves, but she would lose those too. We finally reached the point where she just had to start wearing mismatched gloves.

With this being stated, is it any wonder that this makes the top ten list for kid stocking stuffers? I make sure to buy black if possible. Red would work too. Any colors that allow either boys or girls to wear them. That way, if both gloves in a pair survive an entire season, they can be handed down to the next child to lose.

6. DIY Treat Coupons

I used to love making these for my mom and dad when I was younger. They are just slips of paper bound together in some way, shape, or form (you could get really fancy and use large popsicle sticks - all decorated and nice) with a favor or treat written on them. The recipient can redeem them whenever they would like. Some restrictions apply. They can be used for anything from "extending bedtime by 30 minutes" to "one day off of a certain chore". I think Vada would LOVE this gift. And the best part: it doesn't cost moolah!

7. A New Ornament for the Tree

Woodland Creatures Ornaments from Crate and Barrel

This one is perfect for me since I am slowly building up our collection of coordinating ornaments. Without spending too much money in one year, I am attempting to switch our Xmas decor over from a-little-bit-of-everything to woodsy-nature-plus-red-and-white. A new ornament in each persons stocking that fits our newish theme is one way of accomplishing this. And this year, especially with Broden's obsession with mice, it should be just as pleasing to them as it is to me.

8. Starbucks Gift Card

If your children, or other children you know, are anything like my kids then they would be ecstatic to have their very own Starbucks gift card. Then, when someone wants a pastry to go along with their drink, and I say "no, it's too expensive", they can whip out their card and say, "Psh. I got my own money."

9. Fun Shapes Ice Cube Trays

Found here.

My kids are suckers for ice cube trays that make funky shaped ice. They like them in their drinks. and also just to suck on. I've found small enough trays that would fit in a stocking at Bed Bath and Beyond.

10. A Disposable Camera

In this day and age, some kids may have to ask what it is when they pull it out of their stocking. They may even ask, "So, where do you see the picture after you take it?" But trust me, they'll have fun with it. It's always exciting to go pick up your pictures from the local drug store to see how they turned out. Especially when you didn't have the opportunity to edit or delete any before developing.

If you want to make sure you aren't going to spend good money of developing photos of kitchen cabinet close-ups or your dogs back, include along with it a list of things to find and photograph. Make it a sort of treasure hunt. That is what I will be doing.

These are ten of my personal favorites. If you have time, let me know of stocking stuffers for kids that would be in your top ten. I'm open to new ideas and suggestions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's a...

That's right. Lil' Mc is a baby girl! In honor of the excitement, this Top Ten list is dedicated to all-things-for-baby-girl that I can't wait to get my hands on, make, or at least dream about getting my hands on or making, for Lilly...or Phoenix...or Alice. It's early yet for name picking.

Now, this item I KNOW is a dream. Ever since I first set my eyes on an iron crib in a baby boutique I have been in love with the idea of owning one. With Restoration Hardware being renown for quality furniture, I can see this being an item worth hanging onto for my children's children. That's only if I could convince Kyle that it's worth the attic space.

The down sides to this crib being (1) the price tag of course, (2) the fact that it doesn't convert into a toddler bed, and (3) it is rather feminine if we do decide to try for kidlet #4 and we are blessed with a boy.

2. Graco Snugride 35 Infant Car Seat - Vance

Picture borrowed from BabiesRUs.com

This car seat scored high on the 2013 Best Baby Car Seat comparison for safety, ease of use, features, and help & support. 

We're still debating on whether or not an infant car seat is really necessary. We still have Broden's Britax Marathon car seat which is still in great condition. However, Kyle mentioned how much he loved being able to just pull the infant car seat out and tote it around if Broden was sleeping. No having to wake him up every time we got out of the car when running errands. I will agree, it was handy. And purchasing a second base to keep in Kyle's truck would make switching cars ten times easier. As with the crib though, I have a hard time justifying the money spent on an item that would only get a years use out of it.

3. Apron Towels

Found on etsy.com at BLISSFULPatterns

When I first stumbled upon this on Pinterest my first thought was: why didn't I think of this?! This is one of the most genius ideas ever. I found it incredibly worrisome trying to hold a wet baby, which is the equivalent of trying to keep a good grip on a cube of jello when your hands are covered in vegetable oil (something I have never experienced, but I can imagine would be difficult), while reaching for a towel and attempting to get your baby all wrapped and snug inside of it. With this amazing invention, you can slip it on before getting baby out of the tub, pick up baby securely, hold her tightly against your body with one hand while simply lifting the towel up around baby with your other hand. BAM! No heart attack! I want twelve of these in girly prints.

4. Crochet Floral Baby Blanket

Pattern can be found at Etsy store: adikeren.

Adore! I don't know how to crochet, but I am hoping I can get someone wonderful to crochet this blanket as the baby's comforter. Seeing that Vada's comforter was sewn by my grandmother and Broden's comforter was sewn by my mother, I can't bring myself to purchase a bedding set that wasn't handmade. This blanket just screams girl, and it's a great way to incorporate all of the bedroom colors into one comfy creation. I guess I have four months to learn how to crochet, but I would probably have to make about twenty of them before I could make one as perfect looking as the one pictured. I hear crocheting is much easier than knitting, but my patients level in learning how to knit didn't last long before I gave up. So, after blanket failure #1, I would throw the crochet hook in the garbage and search Etsy.com for something similar, or enlist my mother to sew together some other beautiful creation.

5. Cloth Diapers in Feminine Prints

Bumkins Stuff-it Cloth Diapers

Kyle and I haven't discussed much about which way we would like to go as far as diapering goes. Cloth or Disposable? There are pros and cons to both, and cloth diapering can initially be expensive, but I hear they turn out to be much cheaper and less harmful to the environment in the long run. If we do choose to go with cloth diapering, having the variety in girly prints will be fun.

6. Felt Wall Flowers

Find these here.

I cannot wait to make these for above the baby's dresser! In red of course. They would solve the problem of lack-of-wall-decor in their room (Broden and baby will be sharing) and they would give her something pretty to look at while getting a diaper change. They look relatively easy to make, although a couple of mine will be a few inches bigger than in the tutorial (link below the picture).

7. Flower Headbands

Think Pink Boutique

If time allows, I will be making several headbands similar to these for baby. The band itself isn't obnoxiously wide, and the flower won't be as big as her head. They will be dainty and feminine. If I can't get around to making some myself, I will have to cave and buy them from Think Pink Boutique's Etsy shop.

8. Tutu's

Scrap fabric skirt/tutu from Lullaby Birds on Etsy.

When tutu's as other-than-ballet attire started becoming popular, I kept wishing I had a little girl to put them on (we all know Vada wouldn't be caught dead in one). Now is my chance. Although, I have noticed that lately they have become pouffier and pouffier. I like the look of a simple pouf, with minimal ruffles. The skirt pictured above is absolutely adorable. I'm thinking it can't be too hard to make one myself.

9. Mary Janes

Toms Mary Janes

Nothing is more classic girl than black Mary Janes. A must. Although, these will have to wait until she's walking. My personal opinion, shoes on infants who aren't walking yet, or even standing, is rather pointless and ridiculous.

These would suffice until she's walking:

Trumpette Mary Jane socks

10. Hair Accessory Organizer

DIY Tutorial for the above bow holder

Something similar to the one above. I could possibly designate one of her small dresser drawers to hair accessories and such, but that's not as fun as sticking them on display. Although, Broden might appreciate them being tucked away. Hmm...? I'll just have to make him a hat rack for his caps and beanies. Something such as:

(minus the 3M hooks,
adding maybe some dyed clothespins) 

This, with a decorative front