mom find: mini pump

For all the breastfeeding (or soon-to-be) moms out there, this mom find is for you!  I saw this mini-breast pump, sometimes called a bullet pump, online and decided to give it a try.  It was pretty cheap, so I thought that I might as well check it out.  The pump is great!  There are many versions of this pump, I’m sure they are all the same, but this is the one I purchased: Silicone Breast Pump  Continue reading “mom find: mini pump”

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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”

registries

A few months ago I set-up two baby registries.  One was though Target, which is one of my favorite places to shop and the other was through Amazon, which is one of my favorite places to shop online.  🙂  Both of these registries offered great registry gifts, so I thought I would share. Continue reading “registries”

Amazing Notebooks

Hello. I’m Kia and I am a planner and office supply addict.  I know I have a problem!  I love planners, office supplies (mainly good pens) and cute office decor…and I LOVE a good notebook.  My friend, who is also an addict, introduced me to May Designs (https://www.maydesigns.com/).  May Designs makes personalized notebooks, as well as stationary and calendars.  I LOVE their notebooks! Continue reading “Amazing Notebooks”

planner review

I LOVE PLANNERS!  I have loved them since I was in middle school.  They were much more simple back then.  Now, there are so many options.  I have tried a few and decided to do a review of three of the last planners I have used.  I think each of these planners are great for certain features they offer, but they are all a little different.

First up is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.  I used this planner for several years.  I think the best way to define the LifePlanner is fun.  It is very customizable, which is not offered by most planners.  You can choose a custom cover for your planner or one of the pre-designed covers.  You can also customize the inside of your planner as well.  There are so many options!  This planner also includes stickers to use in your planner for events throughout the year.  I felt this planner was a little more casual than others which was the reason I wanted to try other planners.  I loved all the features of the Erin Condren, but as I got older and was taking my planner to meetings at work, I felt I needed something a little more formal.  

So here is a breakdown –

Pros:

  • Very customizable
  • Free stickers
  • Fun & colorful
  • Pockets & zipper pouch to hold extra items
  • Lots of extra blank pages

Cons:

  • Casual look (not as professional)
  • Large size (depends on your preference)
  • Price (but along the lines of other planners on the market)

Next, is the Passion Planner.  The Passion Planner is a newer planner with an awesome purpose.  First, they are a get one, give one company.  Similar to TOMS, when you buy a planner they give one away.  The Passion Planner is the ultimate goal setting planner.  This planner includes monthly reflections which include pages to look back over the previous month to see if you have reached your goals for the previous month.  It also helps you to focus at the beginning of each month on what you need to do to move towards your goals.  This planner is not very customizable, but does offer different color covers.  It is very simple (black and white) on the inside.  They also offer the option to download a planner on their site for FREE, so you can test it out. This planner comes in two sizes.  I LOVED the goal setting included in this planner, but I did not like the weekly format (I prefer a daily format).  

Pros:

  • GOAL SETTING
  • Price tag! (This is one of the cheapest planners I have purchased)
  • Smaller size (great to fit in my purse – not too bulky)
  • Small pocket in the back
  • Lots of blank pages in the back for planning
  • Professional look

Cons:

  • No customization
  • Plain covers (mostly)

Finally, my current planner is the Day Designer.  This planner has a very simple design to it.  The pages are black and white, but it offers a daily format, which I love.  Each day includes a small space for notes and daily gratitude.  It also includes space for a daily to-do list which is one of the reasons I love daily planners.  I usually have a lot to do in one day and the daily format allows me to fit everything and plan what I will do each day.  This planner does not include as much extra space for note taking, which I miss from my other planners.  They offer a few different covers, which allows you to customize your planner to some extent. This planner comes in two sizes (I have the smaller size).  It also has a small pocket in the front.

Pros:

  • Some goal setting at the beginning
  • Daily option
  • Simple inside
  • Professional look
  • Cover choices

Cons:

  • Price (but similar to other planners on the market)
  • Few blank pages for notes

 

Some planners I would like to try are the Emily Ley Simplified Planner and Agendio Planner.

What is your favorite planner?  

❤ K

My Natural Hair Routine

I often get asked about my natural hair routine when I am out or from friends.  I have been natural since 2009 and I have tried MANY natural hair products.  Some I liked more than others and some were more expensive than others.  The main things I look for in my natural hair products is that they are easy for me to use, work well on my hair, are not too expensive, and create a style that will last for a week or more.

For a little over a year, I have been using the Pantene Truly Natural Hair line of products.  I rarely hear anyone talk about these products, but a friend at work recommended giving them a try.  Since the price was very reasonable, I figured there was nothing to lose.  They worked great on my hair for wash and go’s and twist outs!  I was told, at some point, that for wash and go’s a good product for your hair will give you the same curl pattern that you see when your hair is wet and has conditioner on it.  Products will not create a curl pattern that does not already exists unless you add twists or braids or do some sort of manipulation to your hair.  This product holds my curl pattern and even with a little shrinkage, my style will hold for most of the week.

So here is my typical hair routine:

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I start in the shower and wash my hair with either the Pantene Naturals Shampoo or Co-Wash.  I use the Co-wash most weeks, but I shampoo about once a month.  I shampoo more often in the summer, depending on my activities, and if I am working out a lot I will also shampoo more often.  I make sure to rinse all the shampoo/co-wash from my hair before moving on to the conditioner.  I section my hair into 4 parts and I use hair clips to hold the sections.  I work the conditioner through my hair section by section.  I comb each section from end to root with a detangling comb.  After each section is detangled I wash out the conditioner, section by section.  I keep my hair in the four sections and get out of the shower to continue my routine.

Next I use the LOC method, which is Leave-In conditioner, Oil, and Cream.  For my leave-in, I use Carol’s Daughter Leave-In (Sacred Tiare).  I use the Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Pure Hair Oil for my oil and I use the Pantene Natural Defining Curls Styling Custard for my cream.  I usually start in the back and split one section in half.  I spray with the leave-in and follow up with the oil trying to get it mostly at the root of my hair.  I apply the custard next.  I run the custard through my hair with my fingers and detangle a little if needed with my fingers.  If the ends are really tangled (this only usually happens when I need a trim) then I use a Denman brush to detangle the ends.  I try not to brush or comb my hair too much though.  I find this makes it frizz more.  Based on the thickness of your hair you can divide it again for your twists or to run the custard through your hair.  I usually twist my hair because I will wear it twisted for about a week and then remove the twists and wear it loose for another week or so.  I do this process over my entire head.  In the front I usually do a part to one side and I try to make my twists a little more neat.  

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Once my hair is all twisted I usually wear my Slap Cap (http://www.satinlinedcaps.com/) the first day since my hair’s still wet and you see the product on your hair for a few hours.  This entire process usually takes me about 1 hour or so…a little bit longer if I am trying to make all my twists very neat and parting my hair with a comb (usually I part with my fingers and grab the hair).  It is a little bit shorter if I am doing a wash and go with no twists.  You can also do twists to stretch your hair a little bit, and then untwist your hair while it is still damp.  This will stretch your hair a little bit, but show a little more of your curl pattern.

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I will write another post about the different styles I wear throughout the week to extend this style.

 

❤ 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

 

Truly Free Tax Returns

creditkarma

I have recently started working on my taxes and helping others as I do most years and this year I decided to try out a different provider. Typically I go straight to TurboTax and they make things fairly easy, however, the past few years I don’t like the hidden fees and the way they up-sell to get done what you need. This year after getting an email from credit karma I decided to try out their services. Also note credit karma is great for checking your credit scores and looking for ways to improve your score as they give free advice and suggestions. What was great about credit karma is the fact that everything truly was free. They don’t require you to pay for any filing for state or federal and your full refund is 100% yours. The set up is almost exactly the same as TurboTax and they will guide you through the pages that you need to fill out. I had no problems and someone with little to no tax experience should be able to file with no problem. You can register to use their services at http://www.creditkarma.com/tax.

Happy Tax Season All!

❤ A

Awesome Toddler Items at IKEA

One of my favorite stores is IKEA.  I love the way they style their products, the environment in the store, the MANY items they offer, and good prices.  I don’t mind putting things together, so IKEA is the perfect store for me.  Outside of the many pieces of furniture and household items, I have also found some great baby, toddler, and children items in the store.  They offer inexpensive cribs, that all convert into toddler beds, training potties, and children’s furniture. 

Here is a list of some of my favorite items, but I could not list them all so make sure you check out the store and website:

For eating I LOVE the Kalas (yes, all IKEA items have Swedish and Norwegian names) bowls, plates, cups, and flatware.  We have purchased several sets because after several moves pieces have come up missing.  Each piece of the set is $2.49 for 6 pieces.  They come in multiple colors to make everyone happy. They are dishwasher and microwave safe.

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Kalas bowls, plates, cups, and flatware ($2.49 for pack of 6) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50192959/

Also, if you are looking for a basic, inexpensive high chair check out the Antilop.  We purchased one for my son and just recently stopped using it.  It is easy to clean and with the removable tray you can use it as a toddler chair as well when you are ready to move your child up to the table.  

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Antilop Highchair with Tray ($19.99) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S79067506/

The wooden toys at IKEA are amazing.  I really like wooden toys because they don’t break so you can use them forever.  IKEA has A LOT of wooden toys, so these are just a few of my favorites.  The Mula crane with blocks is great for fine motor skills and learning shapes.  Your child will have to match the correct shape block for it to fit on the back of the crane.

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Mula crane with blocks ($14.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20294879/

They also have traditional stacking rings and a shape sorter.  

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Mula stacking rings ($7.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50294887/

Mula shape sorter ($7.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10294889/

One of my son’s favorites is the train set.  We have the 20 piece basic set, but we also have the 12 piece extension.  My son loves trains and the price is great for this wooden set.

Lillabo Train set ($9.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30064359/

IKEA has art supplies as well.  They have one of the best prices around for their wooden easel.  They also have paper, markers, pens, colored pencils, paint, and more.  Make sure to check out this section if you get the easel.  The large roll of paper they sell is great too.  We use it even without the easel for my son’s masterpieces!

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Mala Easel ($19.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50021076/

Mala art supplies (ranging from $0.99-$9.99) – paper, markers, colored pencils, pens, scissors, paint, and chalk http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/childrens_ikea/18735/

I also found that they had great prices for crib sheets.  I bought a few packs and have never needed more.  They are a soft cotton and mine have held up well.  I have only gotten the all white, but they also have pink, blue, and green.  

Crib sheets ($9.99/2pk) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00130879/ (available in white, pink, blue, and green)

For those of you that are near a store (or traveling near a store), it is definitely worth the visit.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to walk through the entire store if it is your first time!

 

❤ K

ultimate baby registry list

Recently, I was speaking with my cousin and sister about my baby must haves and I wrote a pretty lengthy list.  I decided this would be great to share with you as well.  Although this list is kind of long, most of these items you will get at your shower, or are pretty inexpensive to buy.  The items I believe are essentials are in BOLD: Continue reading “ultimate baby registry list”