DIY Toy Shelf

My husband and I found this great detailed table at a garage sale marked for $5 and we couldn’t pass it up!  It was a little beaten up, but we both saw potential for something great!..but for what, neither of us knew.  It sat unused in our living room for quite a while until we moved into our new house and I decided what we were going to do with it.

 

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At 2 years old, we decided it was time to get rid of our son’s nursery and give him a big boy room!  A huge milestone for this mama!  He, like any 2 year old boy, LOVES Thomas the Train–or as we like to call it at our house, the choo choo train.  We had already bought him this great little Thomas play mat that came with a mini choo choo train, so that was my inspiration.  We found a great toddler bed set at K-Mart and ordered some wall stickers from Amazon.  It has come together perfectly!

I’ll be honest…my kid is a little bit spoiled!  We have toys in every room of the house and we’re running out of corners and boxes to stuff them away in!  I decided that I wanted to use this table as a practical and cute way to help with this problem!  Lucky for me, the shelves were the perfect height for these canvas boxes that we found at Big Lots for $5!

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The Stinky Truth…Cleaning Cloth Diapers

When people find out that I cloth diaper, their immediate reaction is always the same– “Eww.”  So let me clear some things up right away.

No, changing a dirty diaper is not my favorite thing to do.

No, I do not touch poo more often than anyone who uses disposables does.

No, I do not have little poo particles swimming around in my washing machine.

And, no, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Cloth diapering is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog on a walk.  And if you don’t pick up after your dog on a walk, you’re just a bad neighbor!  In many ways, I find that using cloth is significantly LESS disgusting than disposables for several reasons:

  1. I’m not contributing an enormous amount of hazardous waste to landfills.
  2. I NEVER have to deal with poo-splosions…in turn…
  3. I never have to deal with poo stains on clothes.
  4. Cloth diapers absorb the stinky smell, unlike disposables.

I thought I would share my method of cleaning cloth diapers for those that are thinking about making the switch to show how easy it can be.

The Stash

This is my set-up…

ez change

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Natural Soothing Baby Cream and Powder

I’ve had sensitive skin and severe eczema my whole life.  No amount of creams, ointments, tar, or oatmeal baths ever completely relieved me of the dry, itchy, scarred skin that made people always look twice at me when I wore shorts or short sleeve shirts.  My biggest fear was that I would pass that onto my babies.  Sure enough, my little boy was born with super sensitive skin just like me, and he has since had it rough on his teeny tiny behind!

When he was only two months old we were prescribed a steroid cream to help with his eczema.  I found that with fewer baths with no soap, he was able to produce more of his natural oils to protect his skin and prevent the splotchy, red rashes.  We cloth diaper now, but for the first two years of his life, he was in disposables which are full of dyes and chemicals.  Also, the harsh chemicals and drying alcohol in standard baby wipes always irritated his skin, and from the time he was only a few months old, we were trying out all kinds of different powders and ointments, but nothing ever helped for too long.  Putting breastmilk on the rash was the best cure that I could find.  But I quit breastfeeding when he was a year old, so after that, we were left again with nothing.

I was sure that  switching to cloth would solve all of our tushy problems, but unfortunately, he still suffers from diaper rash, no matter how often we change him.  It isn’t as bad since making the switch, though.  Also, instead of the chemically filled creams and powders, I have opted to an all natural approach!

Diaper Rash Cream

At the local farmer’s market in my hometown, we stumbled upon a woman who made all natural baby products and bought a diaper cream from her that consisted of: organic olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, and vitamin E.  When I looked at the ingredients, I was sure that was something that I could make myself!  I was on a mission!  After lots of research, I found that much of what was in this natural cream that I had bought was just filler.  The beeswax and cocoa butter, while soothing, are primarily to keep the cream at a harder, more manageable consistency.  The olive oil, though it makes the skin soft, doesn’t have healing properties.  And the vitamin E is a natural preservative.  I came to my own conclusion:

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Naturally Repel Ants, Spiders, Mice…and Everything ICKY!

Recently, we have moved to the tiny town that my husband teaches in. When I say tiny…I mean the biggest thing that has happened here is the Subway they opened up a couple years ago.  No grocery store, no mall, no STARBUCKS!  A big change for this mama!  While this move is temporary, we are doing everything in our power to make the old, abandoned farmhouse we moved into a warm, comfortable home for our babies.

The one thing that I didn’t expect to be such an issue is all the little critters sneaking around.  The first time we left a plate out next to the sink without rinsing it, our whole kitchen seemed to be taken over by little, teeny tiny black ants in an instant!  I’ve found several GIANT spiders lurking around including in my sons bathtub right before a bath, and our BED right before I laid down on it!  YUCK!  I’m lucky that I have a husband willing to take care of all the nastiness that comes with moving into an old farmhouse, and a dog that will eat anything I point out to him when my husband isn’t home.

Recently, though, my biggest fear became a realization…a MOUSE in the house!  I don’t know what it is about them that freaks me out so much…maybe it’s how quiet they are so you never know when they’re around until you find the little droppings, or maybe it’s the fact that they can contort their little, disease-infested bodies into cracks and crevices so small, they are impossible to keep out completely!

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Wool Dryer Balls

One of the most dangerous, chemical-ridden products on the market is most likely sitting in your laundry room right now and you’ve probably never given it a second thought.

Dryer sheets.

The chemicals that make these products work remain on  the clothes even several times after they are washed.  They’re absorbed through the skin and lungs and certain traces of these chemicals have been found in urine, blood, and even breastmilk!  The worst part of all is that the manufacturers aren’t required by law to put their full list of ingredients on the product!  So when you read “Fragrance” on the box, you have no idea how many chemicals that “Fragrance” contains or how extremely detrimental to your health it is!

Research of these chemicals have linked them to:

  • asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • reproductive and fertility problems
  • developmental issues
  • skin irritation
  • kidney, liver, and nervous system damage
  • cancers
  • massive hormones disruptions

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Natural All Purpose Cleaner

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If you’re looking to live a more chemical-free lifestyle, there are some big changes you’re going to have to make, but the hardest part is making the commitment to do so.  The easiest transition for me was switching to natural household cleaning products.  We learn to love the strong, chemical odor that our favorite cleaning products give off because it reassures us that the product is doing what it’s supposed to do…clean.

After my son was born, a different perspective worked it’s way around me.

Let’s face it, babies are gross.  They pick up anything they can get their tiny little fingers on and it goes directly into their mouths.  They lick the windows.  They eat off of the floor.  I knew this was going to happen.  So, I would clean and clean and clean to make sure that all the disgusting things my son was bound to do wouldn’t be as disgusting.  But all of those products are chemicals.  In fact, the labels TELL you that they are dangerous and that you need to seek medical attention if ingested.  So why would I be wiping these dangerous, hazardous chemicals around my house, when I know that they are going to end up in my son’s mouth?  I started looking into alternatives and found that not only do they work just as well as the chemicals I had been spraying everywhere, my homemade concoctions save me money, too!

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Free Breast Pumps for ALL Mamas!

Are you a breastfeeding mama?  Want a free breast pump?  Good news!..you can get one!

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Here is my receipt for my FREE breast pump!!

Under the new Health Care Reform, insurance companies are required to provide breastfeeding equipment, counseling, and support for all new mamas!  If you are a breastfeeding mom, you know what a big deal this is!

Breastmilk, or Liquid Gold as I like to call it, contains antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells that protect against bacteria and viruses.  This increases your baby’s immunity to disease and infection from infancy and continues throughout your child’s life.  Breastfed babes are less likely to develop:

  • ear infections
  • respiratory infections like croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia
  • urinary tract infections
  • certain types of spinal meningitis
  • gastrointestinal and diarrheal infections
  • childhood diabetes
  • obesity
  • SIDS
  • allergies
  • childhood cancers

Some moms, however, are unable to breastfeed due to low milk supply, baby latching issues, thrush, mastitis, engorged breasts, and more.  Other moms are unable to breastfeed for as long as they want to because they have to go back to work.  Breast pumps allow these moms the opportunity to still give their baby all of the benefits of Liquid Gold!  Though FMLA only gives moms 12 weeks of maternity leave (see bottom of page for more info), that is enough time to produce a stock of breastmilk for a little one.  Pumps can also help boost mom’s supply, reduce engorgement, and help heal mastitis.

The fact that our government has realized the amazing benefits of breastfeeding and required insurance companies to help moms through the process is a HUGE WIN for America!

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My New Best Friend…the Crock Pot

I don’t know what kind of stigma I had against the crock pot, but I was afraid to use one for several years.  My husband and I bought one a couple years ago, before our son was born, and it sat idly in our kitchen cabinet for much too long.

My good friend Pinterest opened my eyes to the beauty of crock pot meals very recently, however. Since having our second child and again taking on the task of being a stay-at-home mom, not at all realizing how incredibly different two babies is than one, dinner has become more of a challenge than I ever could have imagined.  I came across several posts about preparing several crock pot meals at once and freezing them, so all that it takes to make dinner for the next couple of weeks is dumping a bag into the pot!

I HAD to try it!  I had my husband “babysit” for a couple hours so that I had plenty of space and alone time to get everything chopped, portioned, and bagged.  Trying to keep my 2 year old out of the kitchen and MYSELF from running to my 2 month old every time I heard a peep was not the easiest task, but I am glad I did it!  The meals turned out wonderfully!  In fact, there was enough in each bag for two dinners and at least one lunch for either my husband or me.  Six bags lasted two weeks!

I just made another batch of meals this past Sunday and thought that I would share some of the recipes that I found on Pinterest and in the crock pot recipe books I found laying around.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have

Combine all ingredients for each meal into a gallon freezer bag, mix it together, push out all the remaining air, and freeze!  Simple as that!  When ever you’re ready for a meal, put the bag in the refrigerator the night before so that it can thaw (or just run it under some hot water if you forget…GUILTY).  And there you have it…you’ve got a hassle free, family dinner ready to go!

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Honey…more than Pooh’s favorite snack

I don’t know about you, but as soon as my kids were born, all of the money that I had spent on myself previously seemed like nothing but waste.  Of course we ladies still need to indulge and pamper ourselves every once in a while to keep our sanity.  Pampering nowadays consists of half a bottle of wine and maybe an interrupted hour to take a nice, hot bubble bath.  Spending obscene amounts of money on beauty products just didn’t make sense to me anymore.  It’s easy to find affordable beauty products, but looking at the labels is a bit scary.  Do I really want all that junk that I can’t even pronounce seeping into my face?!  I don’t think so!  I started looking for alternatives and what I found was a little shocking.

honey

Honey.

You know, what bees make.  The same sticky sweetener I have in my kitchen to put in my tea.  All of the research I did to find the easiest, all natural face and body wash lead me back to honey.

So…how does it work?

Have you ever seen The Bee Movie?  I justify watching it as much as I do because I have a 2 year old, but let me tell you, Jerry Seinfeld knew what he was doing with that movie!  Basically, it divulges into the life of worker bees and all of the work that goes into making honey.  Pretty empowering stuff.  Anyways, there is some merit to what I am getting at.

Bees use nectar and nectar contains over 600 different compounds.  Honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, which is a gentle antiseptic.  Basically, when you put honey in your beauty products, it actually cleans!  It also contains other antioxidants, which help eliminate free radicals and encourage growth of new tissue.  That means that it heals irritated and damaged skin and also prevents scarring.  Honey is a natural humectant which means that it attracts and retains moisture, leaving your skin hydrated and fresh!

What skins types does it work on?

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Adventures in Potty Training

toilet

If you think this is going to be a how-to on potty training, you are greatly mistaken.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  My son turned 2 this past August.  As soon as I noticed how quickly he caught on to things (like Baby Sign Language), I knew that he was going to be so easy to potty train!  Before we had even begun, I looked up tips and tricks for best practices and asked advice from other parents I knew, still confident that it would take a week (tops) to get this kid out of his dipes.

Well, I guess it’s time to admit, I was a bit naive…and perhaps a little too big-headed. Read more