Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Early Thanksgiving Friends!

So this week, we're off to head down south for Thanksgiving with family.  We're planning to spend the holiday in warm {well, warmer} weather for a few days, maybe hit up the beach, relax a little, and try to wrangle two littles throughout two 14 hour drives and probably after very little sleep as I think we'll all be in the same room.

Wish us luck?

I am so, so excited though that I'll get to see a few of my lovely lady friends in addition to our family while we're there as well - Heidi from The Pajama Mama & MJ from Daisy & June.  Can.not.wait.

In the meantime, I may highlight a few of my old posts over on the Facebook page and add in one or two new posts pre-scheduled.  Because of the trip though, Thursday's Tips & Tricks post {about pre-cooking breakfasts to get you out the door in the morning!} and Secondhand Sunday will be postponed until next week.  You can also find me over on my Instagram account, where I'll be posting photos throughout the trip!  See you all soon & I'll be back in action when we get home!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

K'NEX Toy Review - these things are fantastic!

*Disclosure:  I was provided products to review by K'NEX as a part of the Toys"R"Us Mom Blogger K'NEX promotion.  All opinions are honest and my own.  

For those of you who don't know, DH is an engineer.  His area of expertise is in electrical engineering, but he did also take some courses in study of biomedical engineering as well.  So, in our household, toys that use the mind in creative and inventive ways are a top commodity.

When I was recently chosen to review seven {yep, you heard that correctly - seven} sets of K'NEX toys available this holiday season as a special promotion through Toys"R"Us, DH was on cloud nine.  Here's a photo of the fantastic K'NEX swag that I was sent:


As soon as the box made it through our door {thankfully after the lovely delivery guy carried it in for me - that box was heavy}, Little Man had the Lincoln Log bucket in his hands and asking to play.  He absolutely loved the Lincoln Logs Redfield Ranch, especially the cowboy, horse, and water trough.  Little Man also was super smitten by the gate opening and closing to keep the horse inside the fence.

Little Man's favorite!
The real test - however - was when DH came home later that night.  It was basically all I could do to keep him from opening every.single.set we were given all at once to play.  When we did open another set {I'm keeping him at one open set at a time!}, I was completely in awe of how fantastically intricate of a structure you could create with the K'NEX pieces - which consist of mainly rods, connectors, and other detailed pieces.

What DH decided to build - the Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster
As opposed to some of the other building toys on the market where your end products are finite, I can say as a speech therapist that the K'NEX products provide almost infinite designs and are fantastic for developing your child's skills in visual-spatial areas, fine motor development, perspective, and creativity - to mention a few.  I cannot wait for our children to grow old enough to play and learn with such fantastic toys!

In the mean time, you all know the K'NEX toys will see some definite love from DH!

One thing that I immensely appreciate about the K'NEX company is their environmentally friendly methods.  As a parent, I'm frequently looking for toys that not only stimulate my children's learning and development -  but also protect the world they'll live in long after their ages of playing with toys are gone.  I can't say it any better than they already have expressed, so here's a quote from their website:

"The Rodon Group is committed to environmental sustainability. The company's green initiatives make it a leader in the plastics industry. Its manufacturing process minimizes packaging, transportation costs, waste, water consumption and energy. Consider this example: in manufacturing just one of the more than 600 unique K'NEX parts, The Rodon Group recycles enough cardboard to save 300 cubic yards of landfill space, the equivalent of three football fields!"

How fantastic is that, right?  The K'NEX company also manufactures their products IN the United States as well!  Definitely a company that I can get behind.  If you're looking for an amazing learning toy that can provide hours {oooh yes, I can attest to that} of enjoyment for your children - and your spouse! - then you might consider taking a second look at K'NEX this holiday season at your local Toys"R"Us store!

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Secondhand Sunday #1 - Janie & Jack baby coat!

If you hadn't previously seen, each week as a new series on the blog I will be featuring one item purchased secondhand {from resale shops, garage sales, marketplace pages - or even hand-me-down's given to us free of charge}.  If you are a blogger who'd be interested in linking up each week - let me know and I'll add that to the end of the posts!


For my initial Secondhand Sunday - I went big.

And, by big, I mean one of those baby/children's brands that unless I find items used, I can't justify {or afford} to spend the cash on purchasing.  But, oh... the cute.

Yep, I'm talking about Janie & Jack.

I absolutely love how adorable their clothing is for both boys and girls, but there is no way in heck I'm spending an amount similar to our weekly grocery budget on only one item, because - for real - that's just silly.

However, when I came across a super adorable Janie & Jack jacket one size up from what Little Lady is wearing right now - I had to jump on it!  Before I show you the pictures, though, I want to chat about the price.  After a quick scout on the J&J website, I found two similar jackets initially priced at between $70-90 each.  Each, guys.  My purple 12-24 month Janie & Jack quilted jacket below?

A whopping $6.





After trying the jacket on Little Lady, I was excited to find out that if I rolled the sleeves, it already fits at only 10 months.  Thankfully, the liner on the inside of the coat is a nice light purple that looks just as cute cuffed as it does with the sleeves at full length.  Since it fits now, and I know Little Man {of similar body shape} wore his 24 month clothes for quite some time, I'm sure that Little Lady will be wearing this jacket for many, many months.  I also absolutely love the sweet floral detailing as seen above on the inside of the hood.

What item did you purchase or were gifted this weekend secondhand that you absolutely love?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

New blog feature upcoming! Get ready for some TNO weekend action!

Starting this weekend, I'm going to add a new feature on the blog.

Many of you know that I'm all about ways to save money and reduce my environmental impact by purchasing and gladly accepting items gently loved from resale shops, garage sales, local marketplace pages, and from friends/family.

The thing is, though, that before I had children and realized how to manage my cash a little better - I probably {okay, not just probably, but surely} scoffed a bit at used items.  After adding many pre-owned items into our wardrobes and home the past few years, however - I realize just what a benefit it can be to see the upsides and begin your own love of used.

So.  In saying that, I'm adding my new feature:

Secondhand Sundays

Each Sunday, I'll post one of my recent finds up on the blog.  Some weeks, it will be an item that we use right off of the rack {or not, as it were} that we can wash and use immediately.  Other weeks, the item may be something I've had to finagle with a little bit to make it work for our family or home.  And - as with any time you purchase used items frequently - I'll also share those items I purchased and didn't have so much luck rehabbing, repainting, or re-purposing.

If there's enough interest, and this turns out to be something I end up enjoying chatting about with you all, I'd definitely consider making it a linky party for other bloggers as well.  If you feel like this is something you'd also like to share on your blog, let me know and we can start linking up!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tips & Tricks 40 - Keep that shower clean!

In the past, I hated cleaning our shower.

Hated.

That's a pretty strong sentiment coming from me, seeing as I actually enjoy most cleaning.  But cleaning our shower was terrible.  Our bathroom is set up so that the shower, tub, and sink are set apart from the toilet, with a wall in between.  The vent fan in the bathroom sits above the toilet area, so when cleaning the shower, it feels like there is absolutely no ventilation.

Any time I used a typical shower cleaner, the smell of the chemicals got to me before I was even able to finish cleaning.  Also, because of the way our shower and doors come together, to clean the inside of the pan by the door - you actually have to be in the shower, increasing my likelihood that at some point during the cleaning process of me standing in whatever cleaning product I've just applied.

Instead of spending a bunch of money on healthier store-bought shower cleaner, I finally switched over into using a few Pinterest finds - and have loved the result!



The recipe I began to use is extremely simple.  Mix equal parts vinegar to Blue Dawn.  If you prefer less suds, increase your vinegar to three parts and your Dawn to one part.  That's it.

Now, the method you use does make a difference for your application of the cleaner.  You basically have two options - adding your mixture into a scrubber brush or putting your mixture into a spray bottle.

I initially began with the scrubber brush, but found very quickly that {since I used more vinegar} it had the tendency to run out of the brush before I was actually cleaning anything.  I found a tall cup and placed the brush {scrubber side up} for storage and if I needed to set it down during use, which fixed that issue.  The scrubber is excellent for an extremely dirty shower and worked so well on the difficult-to-clean water line in our tub.  I would highly recommend at least starting with the brush if your shower is in need of a little TLC.


Your second option is a spray bottle - and this is definitely what I'll use most of the time once we use up another spray bottle to have an empty.  The spray bottle option would work really well for daily, after-shower quick cleans in order to maintain the fresh and squeaky clean shower you've created after using your scrub brush.

As for use, DH & I have been scrubbing the shower down {and once we get the spray bottle we'll spray down} after the shower he or I takes at least 2-3 times per week.  He typically showers in the morning where I typically shower at night, so he just leaves the vinegar/Dawn solution to soak and dry - and then when I shower next I rinse it off.

So far, the vinegar and Dawn mixture has worked SO well at keeping our hard water shower super clean and for almost no work at all.  Best part about it for me?  The mixture doesn't smell and I'm not afraid to stand in the shower to clean it, even if I end up stepping in the cleaning solution as well.

How do you clean your shower?  Have you tried this method?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monthly Crock Pot Freezer Cooking Version #2!

Slow Cooker Meal Planning Recipes

Our first month of crock pot freezer cooking went so well that DH and I decided to do it again this month - with a second month of fantastic results!  Here's how month #2 went:

First things first, here's our grocery list:

Slow Cooker Recipes Meal Planning

We spent right around $130 again for this month's dinners.  Outside of our monthly date night and one night of ordering pizza, we ate all of our dinners from the crock pot.  So - for our family of four - that means we spent under $4.50 per dinner, which I find to be fantastic.

This month, we did a few new recipes and a few older recipes.  I'll list the titles of all of the meals first, and then go into each recipe separately.  I will purposefully be omitting photos until after the recipes so that if you're copying and pasting to print- you won't have to mess with deleting out the pictures to save paper.  Without further ado, here are the recipe titles:

1.  Pulled Pork
2.  Lemon Garlic Chicken
3.  Pork Chili
4.  Sweet & Sour Garlic Chicken
5.  Creamy Chicken Stew
6.  Vegetable Lasagna
7.  Sweet Potato Soup
8.  Honey Garlic Chicken
9.  Beef Sandwiches with Aioli

And here are the recipes:

1. Pulled Pork


Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • Pork shoulder 4-5 lbs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Pork Rub if desired
  • BBQ Sauce

Instructions

  1. Cover roast in pork rub.
  2. Slice onion
  3. Layer onion on the bottom of the crock pot, place the roast on top.  Add chicken broth.
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.  

2. Lemon Garlic Chicken {this was a repeat from last month}


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts {boneless, skinless}
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1 package cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Mix oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Rub the mixture into the chicken.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken for 3-5 on each side.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
  2. Mix water, lemon juice, garlic, and bouillon and bring it to a boil - pour over the chicken in the slow cooker.  {We skipped all of the browning steps and just put all of the ingredients into the bag to freeze and then dumped the whole bag into the crock pot when it was defrosted and we were ready for use.}
  3. 15 minutes before you're ready to serve, remove the chicken and put it on a serving platter.  Add the cream cheese to the juice in the crock pot and whisk until smooth.  Ladle the sauce over rice or pasta if desired and then put the chicken on top.

3. Pork Chili


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Coat the inside of a 4-6 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Lay onions on the bottom. Add in cubed pork, followed by garlic, beans, tomatoes, green chiles, lime juice, and spices. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours. Stir in cilantro about 20 minutes before serving.

4. Sweet & Sour Garlic Chicken


Ingredients

  • 2lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut into 6 fillets)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup diet lemon lime soda
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and place in slow cooker.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (all EXCEPT the cornstarch), and pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from slow cooker and pour all the leftover sauce into a medium sized sauce pan, and set over medium high heat.
  5. In a very small bowl, mix together the cornstarch with two tablespoons of water. Then, add that into the sauce. Bring to a simmer, and stir continuously until sauce begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for about 1-2 more minutes as the sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  6. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

5. Creamy Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 pound mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, rinsed under cold water to thaw
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, combine mushrooms, shallots, and 1/4 cup water.
  2. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth, celery, zucchini, carrots, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; bring to a boil. {We skipped everything except for dumping all the ingredients into the freezer bag and then putting it into the crock pot when we were ready.}
  4. Place chicken in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker and sprinkle lemon zest on top. Turn heat to high. Carefully pour in the vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a bowl; discard bay leaves.
  6. Skim fat and pour the juices into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened.
  8. Add half and half and lemon juice; stir until boiling.
  9. Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Just before serving, stir in peas and parsley.

6. Vegetable Lasagna


Ingredients

  • 15 (12oz) whole-wheat lasagna noodles uncooked
  • 1 15 oz container fat free ricotta
  • 3 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large portobello mushroom caps thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine egg substitute, ricotta, salt, pepper, oregano, spinach, mushrooms and eggplant.
  2. Mix both kinds of tomatoes and their juice, basil and garlic, in a medium bowl.
  3. Coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with non-fat cooking spray.
  4. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker.
  5. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible.
  6. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.
  7. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles.
  8. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
  9. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours.
  10. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

7. Sweet Potato Soup
Ingredients:
- 2 cups fat-free chicken broth
- 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
- 2 packets Splenda or Truvia
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
NOTE: To make this into a vegetarian recipe, just use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
Directions:
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes. Place them with the chicken broth in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on medium for about 3 hours (or until the potatoes are tender).
Using an immersion blender (or putting the sweet potatoes and broth into a food processor), blend until smooth. Put the soup back into the crock pot. Add the half-and-half, Splenda, salt, dry mustard and allspice. Cover and cook on medium for about 1-3 hours.
8. Honey Garlic Chicken

Ingredients
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sprite
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag.  When you're ready to cook, put all ingredients in the crock pot, add the sprite, and let cook for 3-4 hours on high.

9. Beef Sandwiches with Aioli


Ingredients

  • One 2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 Kaiser rolls or buns
  • 1 recipe Avocado Aioli {mash 2 peeled avocados with a fork.  Stir in 2/3 cup finely chopped radishes, 2 tablespoons mayo or salad dressing, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove garlic minced, 2 teaspoons fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.}
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
***Note- we had several of the pantry staples already for the Aioli, so if you don't keep things like lemon juice, salt, pepper, mayo, oregano, etc. - you may need to add these to your list!

Instructions

  1. Trim fat from meat and add salt and pepper as desired.  Place in cooker {cutting to fit if needed}.  Add onion, water, Worcestershire, oregano, and garlic.
  2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  Remove and shred meat.  Serve on rolls with shredded lettuce and Aioli.

After completing this second month of crock pot freezer cooking, DH and I are completely convinced that we're going to continue this method of dinner preparation for the long term.  It is saving us money, time, and energy each day.  Our family is eating many, many more homemade meals and significantly fewer processed foods.

Slow Cooker Recipes

Our next step after this month's crock pot meals is to start doubling our recipes and cook for multiple months at a time.  For the past two months, we've prepared one month of meals at a time.  But for the next few months, we'd like to take a few recipes that we know we already love and either double or triple them, plus add in some new single meal recipes.  That way - since we have a deep freezer - we can store quite a few meals and have to only prep one day per every few months for ALL of our dinners.

Has anyone else switched to crock pot freezer cooking for their dinners?


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Monday, November 18, 2013

Homeschool Co-ops - Our choice instead of preschool!

As the weather has been getting cooler and the lazy days of summer turned into fall, I'd been looking for classes and activities for Little Man and Little Lady.  We currently participate in play groups and play dates, but I've been looking for something more structured for Little Man.

Doing a little learning at the Children's Museum
Not that there is anything wrong with this, but he is always in our home or our daycare provider's home - and mainly with Little Lady and babies her age.  When we do have playdates out of the home, it's either groups mainly of Little Lady's age or one on one playing with friends his age.
As he gets a bit older, I'm really looking for him to participate with a larger group of children his age in more varied experiences.  Some of the classes we've taken in the past were great, but focused more on his individual skills and not necessarily interacting with others during those courses {like swim class, etc.}.

But I am not ready for preschool yet.

I know that a lot of parents start really early with preschool or nursery school, even at the age of 2.5 as Little Man is now - but for our family that isn't an option yet.  I don't think Little Man would be immensely comfortable if I just took him to a class and left him there, and at this age I'm 100% supportive of his need to be near DH, myself, or a trusted caregiver all the time.  While I completely believe that independence is an important skill to learn, I also feel that understanding you can rely on the people who love you to support you and keep you safe is just as important.

I'm not saying that he wouldn't be safe or supported in a class without me present - I just feel that for our family at this stage, it's not a path either parties are willing to walk down just yet.  I mean, he's only two for goodness sake.  We have plenty of years ahead for him to be away from us, and we plan to enjoy the years where our children want and need to be close by as long as they'll have us in some scenarios.

In my search for something slightly like preschool but not - where Little Man can interact with other children, learn new things, and experience new environments but at the same time be with both Little Lady and me - I came across our local homeschool co-op.

Indianapolis is fantastic in that there are multiple homeschool co-ops, and we found one that fit perfectly for our family and our needs.  Small class size, secular, encouraging of parent involvement, understanding about babywearing and breastfeeding and keeping Little Lady with me until she's old enough to participate, children Little Man's age, and in general completing tasks and curriculum just like a typical preschool would as well.

After visiting that specific homeschool co-op to check it out, watching Little Man interact with a few of the children and participate in a few of the activities, and being able to chat with a few of the other parents - we immediately signed both the kids up for the baby/toddler class.

Since the co-op is only one day a week, we don't have to sign up to send the kids off five days a week or be away from home more than we're there.  It's just enough to provide that structure and social interaction Little Man needs right now, without being too much.  Additionally, the cost of the preschool homeschool co-op is, like, a ridiculous amount less expensive than every other preschool I researched in our area.  And when I say less expensive, I mean by - in some cases - hundreds of dollars less.

While I was signing the kids up, I was able to chat up a few of the parents with children currently enrolled, and felt like my thoughts and views really corresponded with theirs.  When I talked with them about my concerns of finding a community of homeschoolers in our area so we wouldn't be on an island if we decided to teach our children ourselves, one of the other mothers responded with exactly what I needed to hear - that they'd been concerned with the same issue.  The other mom had wrestled with homeschooling her children at first, but through this group and several others in our area had found their community to a point where she said they often had to turn down extracurricular activities because they do so much.

We started classes a few weeks ago, and I am so glad we opted for homeschool co-op as opposed to preschool.  We're all loving it!

Has anyone else chosen a less typical schooling option?  What do you do for your children's preschool or school?

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Friday, November 15, 2013

My almost three year old wanted to be rocked to sleep.

The other night, after a long day of two sick & unhappy children, several temper tantrums, and about a thousand and a half sneezes and runny nose wipes - it was finally bath and then bedtime.

I'd lost my temper a few times that day... more than I typically do and more than I'd like to admit.  There were at least two or three times that day where I raised my voice above my normal calm tone.  I don't think I actually yelled but there were certainly times that I wasn't able to mask the upset in my own voice when responding to the little voices around me.

After DH and I bathed the kids, DH took Little Man to read in our room while I nursed Little Lady to sleep.  After Little Lady was fast asleep, I went back into our room and Little Man asked me if I would take him to bed.  When I walked him into his room, instead of getting into bed and saying goodnight, he instead asked if I would rock him.

I definitely took a double take.

Seeing as Little Man is almost three, that hasn't happened in quite a long time.  I can honestly remember rocking him one night a month or two before Little Lady was born and crying quietly to myself as he drifted to sleep - knowing that these days in which he needed my comfort in this way to fall asleep were probably very numbered.

When he asked me to rock to sleep, I honestly thought at first that it was just a stall tactic so that he wouldn't have to go to bed.  However, when I said yes - he immediately crawled up into my arms and laid his head on my shoulder and let out a big sigh.  It was really cute though, when I began to rock back and forth, he kindly alerted me that I needed to walk.  When I began to walk, Little Man started telling me where I should turn and which directions I should be walking until I was pacing a path suitable for his preference.

Rocking a toddler, people - I tell ya.

After I had rocked for a few minutes, he leaned back away from me and looked straight into my eyes with a kind of grin that catches.  He just kept staring at me, smiling - like we had this perfect little inside joke that no one else knew.  After a minute or two, I couldn't hold it in anymore and starting cracking up laughing - which of course prompted Little Man to begin to giggle for a few minutes as well.  We just stood there, in the middle of his room, me holding him, laughing for several minutes.

It was perfect.

It was like none of that bad day had ever happened.  It was like no matter what, we were the perfectly connected mother and child that we've always been.

I get so, so afraid sometimes.  Afraid of the time passing too quickly.  Afraid that I'll miss one of these moments I should have seen or forget one of those fantastically important details that I've tried so hard to burn into my brain.  But this, I mean this moment.  It just shows me, right?

That even though it hurts so badly that your baby is not longer a baby - even as much as you tell yourself they still are - that there will always be these moments.  You may feel them in a different way, and they may happen in a changed scenario vastly far from that cooing baby wrapped tightly in your arms, but they will always be.

After we giggled for a few more minutes, I put Little Man back into his bed.  He gave me a quick kiss, told me he loved me, and said goodnight.  I said I loved him, too, and goodnight as well.

But what I really should have been saying was,

Thank you.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tips & Tricks 39 - Handle those misplaced socks!

I'll admit it into the mic.

When it comes to matching socks - I have not been the most organized.  Heck, I'm not even sort of organized.  What typically has happened in our household is that I give up on the socks and dump them all onto a pile on DH's dresser or throw them into the kids' sock drawers.  But recently, DH got really tired of having to constantly haul a pile of socks into the bathroom each morning to find a match while still not trying to wake me or either of the little ones up in the process.  So, he decided to develop his own system.

Swoon.

Instead of the pile of socks on top of his dresser, he came up with a much better, much more organized system - for free.

organize your socks, missing socks, misplaced socks

Since our bedside table drawers in the master bedroom tend to serve only the purpose of housing old magazines and {in my case} about 4,309,728 hair ties and hair pins, DH was able to easily clean out one of his two drawers only to house socks without partners.  Aw.  Poor socks.  

That way, we'll be able to dump all the old socks into the drawer and after a few washes when the pairs have likely made their way back up to the bedroom {let's all pray to the sock gods that none were eaten by the washing machine, which - you know - happens sometimes... to DH's dismay as he's fixing the washer for the 30th time}, we can pair them back up together.

The single sock drawer accomplishes a bunch of goals.  It gives the socks a place to reside until we can get them matched that doesn't look messy, it gives me a visual cue {when the drawer starts getting more full} of when I need to sit down and start re-pairing when I'm putting clothing away, and it's 100% completely free.

Now, you could accomplish the same result if you don't have extra space in your bedside table by simply buying a small basket to place on top of your dresser.  I'd wager this would work more if you have a taller dresser where no one could see your sock collection - and all they see is your pretty basket.  If you're thrifty, my friend Nicole has found some fantastic finds of small and large previously loved baskets at Goodwill in fantastic condition on the serious cheap.  You can check out a post of hers detailing painting her Goodwill basket finds here!

If you were wanting to spend just a bit more cash, you can always check out the slightly more creative sock storage system I found on Pinterest below:


Super cute, right?  That would look adorable sitting in your laundry room OR sitting on your dresser next to another glass container labeled belts, sunglasses, rolled up ties, hair ties, whatever!  Either way, making one simple an easy change to contain all of those random socks can make your home look and feel more organized and put together!

Where do you currently house your unpaired socks?  Do you have a system?

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