1st Birthday Carnival Party

This year I decided to have a carnival themed party for my son’s first birthday. It took about 3 months of planning but turned out to be a wonderful event. Continue reading “1st Birthday Carnival Party”

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budgeting

I would not say I am an expert at budgeting or finances, but I do work hard to keep our finances in order and to pay off our debt.  Although it may sound strange, I enjoy budgeting and financial planning.  I think this is mostly because I like a good spreadsheet (HAHA!) and I have a personality where I enjoy organization, which works well with budgeting and financial planning.  Also, I am not really a big spender, so I don’t see budgeting as something restricting.  I more see it as something that helps my family to be able to do the things that we enjoy. Continue reading “budgeting”

mom find: travel potty

My son is now completely potty trained during the day (and pretty much asset night too)! Yay!  It was a serious struggle, but we made it through.  One of the hardest things about potty training is feeling like you need to close to a potty at all times.  If your child is anything like mine, they don’t give you much notice for when they need to go.  When they say your favorite words “I have to go potty!” they really mean…you have about 2 mins to get me to a potty.  How do these words make you so proud and terrified at the same time!?!?  HAHA!!! Depending on what your proximity is to a potty, you might cheer your child on or beg them to hold it for a few moments while you try to find the closest toilet. Continue reading “mom find: travel potty”

diy dry erase alphabet book

My son has started to learn his alphabet and I was looking for ways to help him review his letters each day.  There are lot of printable sheets online, but I found myself printing so many and I needed a way to reuse them occasionally.  Some of my favorite alphabet printables are from “This Reading Mama” blog.  She has some great free alphabet printables, as well as other educational printables. Continue reading “diy dry erase alphabet book”

toddler shapes activity book

I am always looking for great resources to help me reinforce my son’s education at home.  When he first started to learn his shapes, I found this great activity book online.  It was easy to make and we still use it to help my son review his shapes.   Continue reading “toddler shapes activity book”

my sunday checklist

As a mom who works outside of the home, I have learned a few tips to help my week run a little smoother.  It is hard getting off to work each morning, but these few tips make my week so much easier.  It is amazing to think how much time I now have in the mornings and evenings during the week since implementing this list.

So my checklist includes several simple things.  My goal each weekend is to get these things done before Monday when I start work.  If it is a holiday Monday, I sometimes move my list to Monday.  This is my Sunday checklist.

  1. Meal prep:  I am all about meal prepping each week.  Not only does this make my morning routine quicker, it also helps me to eat healthier during the week.  I prep my breakfast, lunch, and two snacks for everyday I am working outside of the home that week.  I include everything needed in the meal (condiments, side items, etc.) in my meal prep, so in the morning I just grab and go with little, if any additional prep in the morning.  I purposely choose meals that will last for a full week so I don’t have to worry about prepping additional food later in the week.  I even prep my water bottle, since I carry a pretty big bottle and it takes a while to fill. 🙂
  2. Clothes: I try to pull all my outfits for the week (or at least 2-3 outfits to start the week).  This might even mean washing clothes to make sure I have the items I need for that week.  I have found this keeps me from having to wash during the week and in the morning I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear, which also saves time.  I just grab my outfit and get ready.  If you are not able to do a whole week of outfits, at least do a few days, but make sure you have an outfit ready for the next day each evening. This is a BIG time saver for me.
  3. Cleaning: I clean our kitchen, bathrooms, and some of the floors.  I straighten up in other rooms in the house as needed.  My husband helps with this as well.  We try to make sure all the bathrooms and the kitchen get a good clean.  Of course we also clean the kitchen during the week and the bathrooms, as needed.  It just makes me feel good knowing that we are starting the week fresh and clean. 🙂 Plus, if we have any visitors or guests during the week there is less stress and worry about trying to clean things at the last minute.  Having a weekly cleaning schedule really helps alleviate stress for me, plus I get to come home to a clean house.
  4. Change sheets, towels, etc.:  I change all the bedding and towels in the house at least once a week.  This kind of goes along with #3.  It just helps to have a schedule for doing this so I don’t have to think when were the sheets/towels changed?  I know, in general, they were changed last Sunday.  This goes along with starting the week off fresh.
  5. Update my planner/review my calendar: This lets me know what I have ahead of me for the week.  I usually try to do this before I plan my outfits for the week.  I can plan my outfits according to what is going on at work that week, plus I check the weather.
  6. Grocery shopping:  I do this before I meal prep, but this also helps so that we don’t have to run to the store in the middle of the week when we are both tired.  Occasionally, something is forgotten and a trip to the store is needed, but this cuts back on those trips by quite a bit.
  7. Family meeting: I will elaborate on this more in a later post, but a family meeting can help your family get on the same page before the week begins.
  8. Other items:  Depending on your commute and your family, you should prep any items you know you need for the week.  So if you have a long commute each week, you should make sure you have a full tank of gas.  That is one less thing to think about during the week.  If you have school aged kids, you should help them prep their book bags, clothes, and lunches for the week.  Similar to the prep you do for yourself, do it for your kids as well.  That way there is little thought for them in the morning either and this will help everyone’s morning run smoother.  Look for any items you might need for the week on Sunday night.  I HATE when I can’t find an item I am looking for on Monday morning.  I run around like a crazy person trying to find it and then I end up leaving the house later than planned.  It throws off my whole morning.  As much as possible, I try to prevent this by pulling out items I know I will need for the week and planning ahead either on Sunday or the night before during the week.

All of these items do not have to occur on Sunday.  Sometimes if I have a busy Saturday or just want to relax on Saturday, they will all be done on Sunday (it is possible).  It really just depends on how my weekend is going.  Saturday is usually our family day, so we try to focus more on doing things with our family and getting out of the house, so most Sundays this is my checklist.  If I am exhausted, traveling, or have a busy Sunday, some items might not get done, but this is my goal checklist and I try to do what I can and prioritize other items for later in the week.

What items do you include on your checklist that help you have a better week?

❤ K

toddler room ideas

Recently my son turned 3 years old and we decided it was time for him to move to a big boy room.  We were hoping the room would get him excited about moving out of the old room to make way for our new baby.  We have a new baby coming this Spring and we needed to move my son down the hall.  So, for his birthday we decided to give him a room makeover!  We used a lot of items that we already had and bought the rest from IKEA or Amazon.

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We already had a twin bed, dresser, and nightstand (these were mine as a child) plus a few other items we used for decor.  So the picture above shows many of the items we purchased from IKEA (I know it looks like a mess!).

We decided to do a Lion Guard themed room since that is my son’s favorite show right now.  He got a Lion Guard bedding set from my parents for his birthday, plus my husband found some great wall appliques on Amazon.

Here is the finished product:

His bed with the appliques on the wall.  He already had Kion and Simba stuffed animals.  Plus we had a green throw to add to the bed and the lamp (from IKEA) for the night stand.

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All of the bins were from the Dollar Tree.  I love their bins!  They have so many colors and, of course, everything is a dollar. 🙂

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The shelf ($34.99, but we purchased during a sale) for his books and toys is from IKEA and so are the tables ($7.99) I used to make a train/play table.  To hold his books that are on the wall, we used IKEA spice racks ($3.99)!  We got his stool ($7.99) and stool cushion ($4.99) from IKEA as well.  We already had the car track rug and tent (both from IKEA).

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The rocking chair was a hand-me-down from my mother.

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I added a number and alphabet banner to the wall, which we already had (purchased from the Target Bullseye Playground).  The lamp on his dresser is also from IKEA and was in his old room.  We added a few of his toys around the room because we were hoping he would want to play in his room more often.  We are thinking that when the baby arrives we might need to spend more time upstairs and we wanted him to actually want to be in his room.

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He LOVED the room and slept in it the first night.  Since our son is an early riser, we have discovered that he will even play in his room by himself in the morning until we get up and dressed.  He never wanted to do that before and always wanted to come watch TV in our room.

I am so happy with how the room turned out!  My son said “I LOVE my new room” and he walked down the hall and said “That’s the baby room now” to his old room.  It all worked out perfectly! 🙂

❤ Kia

Best Jeans for Kids

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I have been looking for the best jeans for my kids that are cost effective yet durable since my kids play hard. After searching high and low I have ranked the best jeans for your money.

  1. The Children’s Place – they have jeans that are $7.99 pretty much every day of the week. They claim it is a “sale” price yet the sale never ends. They have skinny, straight and bootcut pants options which are good for kids of all sizes. My son is very skinny and the slim jeans fit him rather nicely. They aren’t too tight and they aren’t too baggy. For the price of $7.99 it can’t be beat.
  2. H&M – if you have an H&M near you they are the 2nd best option. They provide the slim look that all the kids are crazy about these days and they are only $9.99.
  3. Old Navy – everyone pretty much has an Old Navy close to them. The sale price of their jeans typically falls right around $10 but you must catch them at the right times. Like The Children’s Place, they offer the different styles that will fit your kid just right.
  4. Crazy 8 – what I like about them is their Rockstar jeans. They have the perfect fit to them and my son looked absolutely amazing in them, he even won best dressed at his football banquet when having them on. What puts them at number 4 is only because of the higher price of $12 which isn’t really even high at all.

For my parents with kids out of the child sizing (5-14) I believe one of the top stores for girls is Forever 21. They have skinny jeans that come in at the low low price of $7.99. You aren’t going to find that price for adult jeans anywhere. For those with the older boys, I will have to recommend Old Navy as they tend to have more sales than most places and the jeans are offered in multiple styles. If your child likes the distressed look you can also easily YouTube how to do it yourself so you aren’t paying an arm and a leg.

Happy Shopping 🙂

❤ A

natural hair styles that last

I wrote previously about my natural hair routine, but I also promised to post about different styles I wear after doing this routine.  Here is a list of a few of my usual styles.  I usually can make my twist out style last for at least two weeks (or longer if I really need to make it last).  Of course, all of these styles will not fit everyone since we all have different hair lengthens.  I still hope you can give some of these easy styles a try.

When I left off in my last post my hair was twisted and in a Slap Cap.

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So for a day or two I wore a twisted bun.  Basically I do two flat twists with my already twisted hair and make a bun at the back.  This style is quick and is something you can wear to work as well.

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I also flat twisted my hair and wore it in a higher bun.

Another style is a regular bun to the back.  This is very simple and I just pull my twists to the back into a ponytail.  Then I form a bun from the ponytail.

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Next, I untwisted my hair and wore is down for a few days.  I can usually wear my hair like this for 3 – 4 days before it starts to frizz.

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Once my hair starts to look a little frizzy I will try some updos.  This one is a flat twist in the front that goes to a high ponytail.

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Another simple style is a high ponytail and I use a little edge control gel, if my edges are frizzy.

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My final simple style is a high bun.  I use a little edge control for this style as well.

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Once I make it to the weekend, I usually wash my hair and start my routine again.  

Each night I pineapple (tie on the top of my head, similar to a high, loose ponytail) my hair with a silk tie and then cover it with my Slap Cap.

What are some ways you make your natural hair last?  What styles have you tried?

❤ K

Cloth Diapers 101

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, who is now 3, I decided I wanted to do cloth diapers.  I have been asked by multiple people about my decision to use cloth diapers.  Initially when I told people that my husband and I planned to use cloth diapers people thought we were crazy.  We were asked why and told that we would probably give up on it, but we used cloth diapers up until my son began potty training.  I also plan to reuse my diapers with my second child.

Here are a few of my tips and lessons learned…

I decided I wanted to use cloth diapers mostly because I try to live a green lifestyle and I knew they could save us money in the long run.  Once we found out we were pregnant I told my husband I would like to try cloth diapers…he was not on board initially.  I think most people picture the old school cloth diapers (that many people now use as burp clothes) with pins and rubber pants.  Cloth diapers have come a LONG way.  I showed my husband the new cloth diapers and explained how they worked, then he agreed to give them a try.  I began researching cloth diapers and spoke to a friend that had tried out several diapers to see what she recommended.  We decided on the bumGenius Freetime All-in-one One-size cloth diaper.  I picked these because I thought they would be the easiest to use, although they are more expensive than other diapers with inserts.  The Freetime diapers are one-size, so they fit babies weighing 8 – 35 lbs and they are considered all-in-one because there are no inserts to use or extra pieces. They also come in a lot of cool colors!

Some of my tips are:

1) Be prepared if your baby is not 8 lbs at birth.  Our son was not so we decided to use disposable diapers until he could fit the cloth diapers.  It took about 2-3 weeks.  Some people choose to buy the newborn size, which is also an option if you don’t want to use disposable diapers at all.

2) GET A DIAPER SPRAYER!  I had never heard of these until my friend told me.  bumGenius makes a great one that I use.  You use a diaper sprayer to clean the diapers over the toilet so you don’t have to dunk your diapers in the toilet to clean poop.  The sprayer works kind of like the sprayer that is on your sink.  It is great for infant diapers since there poop can’t really be caught with diaper liners.  Diaper liners can be used once the baby begins eating solid food.  Then you can toss the poop and liner in the toilet and flush.  I used Baby Sydie Liners (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HV6GXS4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  

3) The sun can remove almost any stain or dinginess from your diapers.  I read this online and didn’t believe it.  After you wash your diapers there are stains sometimes, even though they are clean…similar to a clothing stain that won’t come out.  If you lay your diapers in the sun (inside or outside) to dry the stains will come out.  I typically dry my diapers outside on nice days because they dry quicker. I have been able to remove all of my stains so far just using sunlight.  You can also spray a little lemon juice on stubborn stains.

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4) Depending on the diaper you choose, you can’t use regular detergent.  You can make your own diaper detergent.  I found a diaper detergent recipe online that I liked.  Of course, you can always buy detergent from the bumGenius or other cloth diaper brands.  I also tried Nellie’s Laundry Soda (https://www.amazon.com/Nellies-NLS-50-Natural-Laundry-Soda/dp/B001BYBHHE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483490973&sr=8-2&keywords=nellies+laundry+soda).  I started using this when I didn’t want to continue to make detergent.  For really stubborn stains on diapers (or my son’s clothes), I used the Buncha Farmers Natural Stain Remover Stick (https://www.amazon.com/BUNCHA-FARMERS-NATURAL-BIODEGRADABLE-REMOVER/dp/B00CBSMXNQ).  This stick is great on ALL stains, so I recommend it even if you are not cloth diapering.  I was able to get almost all stains out of my son’s clothes.

5) Purchase a few wet bags to store your diapers until they are ready to wash.  I purchased one large wet bag and two smaller ones to send to daycare and to use around the house.  My grandmother also made me two smaller ones that I have been keeping in the diaper bag.  It turned out that my son’s daycare didn’t use the wetbags and would just put the diapers in a plastic grocery bag, so two smaller bags might not be necessary.

6) As your child gets older, consider additional inserts for night time diaper use.  I used Thirsties Hemp Inserts (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002FB7FLY/ref=pe_385040_188349810_pd_te_s_rp_ti/189-4948380-3194815).  They worked great as my son got older and was wetting more at night.

7) Look for sales!  As I said above, cloth diapers are expensive, but they are cheaper in the long run…especially if you use them for more than one child.  I was able to get all my diapers when they were on sale through the Cottonbabies site and Target. You could also include the diapers on your baby registry if you are having a shower.

Some other items you will need are a drying rack or clothes line and clothes pins.

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You will usually wash diapers every 2 – 3 days depending on the number of diapers you have and how many your child uses in a day. I have 24 diapers and I usually wash every 3 days. You probably don’t want to keep diapers dirty much longer than that because it is not good for the diapers. You could also consider a diaper service which is an additional cost (could include on your registry as well) if you did not want to wash.

My son was so cute in his cloth diapers!!

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If you have any cloth diapering questions or experiences, please share!

❤ K