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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Decorations

I made these last Fall.  The girls helped stuff them with the batting and loved helping me place them around the house.  We  have little groups of them all over the house.  If you're looking for some fall decor ideas, this is a great project.  I made several different sizes and used some remnant fabric I picked up at Joann's.  You know you want to make them.  Go ahead! Thanks for the How To, Martha.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Doll Houses

Since I was a little girl I have oo'd and awed over the doll houses at Hobby Lobby.  I can't wait till the girls are about 7 yrs old.  I think that will be a great time to start working on a bigger project.  In the meantime, I found a tutorial on So She Sews and fell in love with this little DIY doll house from Michael's.  We have spent the week sanding, sealing, painting and picking out carpet and wallpaper from my scrapbooking supplies (finally something gets done with all that paper!)  Last night I painted the final coats of Mod Podge and am anxiously awaiting Zion coming home from school so she and Zoan can play with them!  I think they'll be perfect homes for Polly Pocket and her friends! 

The fridge was made from 2 blocks of wood glued together and the stove was just a block of wood.  The tables are wooden spools with wooden discs glued on top.  The beds were some little wooden rectangles. All were found at Michael's.  I'm going to be looking for some other shapes to add a dresser for each and maybe some other fun things.  *Note to self make sure you use a SHARP exacto knife when cutting out the windows or just paint the side walls so you don't have to deal with that.  You live and learn!

Bath Crayons

I wanted to do something different than the typical bag full of candy to give our guests as party favors.  A few weeks ago I found some small spill proof bubbles at Target and bought a ton.  I added some party sized play dough but still felt something was missing.  I decided to revisit some bath crayons I made for the girls a long time ago and had Zoan help me while Zion was at school.  She loved helping me and I think even more loved that she was making something special for her friends. 

1 Cup grated Ivory soap
¼ cup warm water
Food Coloring

*Grate the soap very fine, if it's too chunky it doesn't dissolve well in the water and doesn't retain the color of the food coloring
*Use lots of food coloring
*You can use cookie molds if you like, but we just rolled them into little balls. 

We let the crayons air dry for a day then put them in little plastic bags and tied them off with a twist tie.  The girls have been playing with theirs at every bath time.  Good Clean Fun!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Solution for too much kids art!

My kids love to color pictures and create all kinds of art. The problem is I simply do not have enough room on the front of my fridge for it all!  If you're like me, you love everything your kids make and have a hard time tossing those precious creations.  But at the same time, you want to keep the clutter to a minimum. I created this "art line".  We fill it up and when there is no more room, we remove a few.  I let the girls choose ones they want to keep in a memory folder and they also choose ones to toss.

All you need is Scotch command adhesive hooks that are easily removable from your wall, some clothes pins, and some type of durable string.  I used some rustic looking hemp yarn.

Decide where you want to place the art.  Mine is upstairs in the hallway near the girls' rooms. Place the hooks on the wall at a reasonable distance following the package instructions.  Then tie a slip knot in each end of the yarn.  Slip the knots over the hooks and start displaying your kids' art!  For a bonus, you can use some pom poms to decorate the clothes pins and it's even more decorative!

I think it's time to bring out the crayons and let the girls put up some new art!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Camp Mommy

This past week my husband was out of town taking the kids from our church youth group to camp.  My girls LOVE their daddy, and especially love being tucked in bed by him each night.  Occasionally, he gets home late and the bed time routine is done solo by me, but there are usually a few tears shed as the girls miss their daddy.  So you can understand my concern at going solo for 4 nights straight!  The days usually aren't a big deal since I'm a stay-at-home mom and that's something they are already used to.  I decided to get creative.  On the spur of the moment after telling Zion that Daddy would be gone for a few days and seeing her eyes already begin to well up with tears I created "Camp Mommy".  I had no idea what that would mean, but it worked!  She thought this sounded fun and seemed okay at the thought of being without her favorite man for a few days.

I decided to let our normal routine kind of slack and added a few fun surprises.  We camped out in the living room the first evening and watched a couple of movies and stayed up much later than normal.  Several good friends made guest appearances and made the girls feel special by just spending time with them and even bringing a few surprises for the girls.  We did crafts, colored, played, went to a splash park and basically did everything I could to keep our minds occupied and off of the fact that Daddy was out of town.

I think all of us had a lot of fun.  The girls were very well behaved and still speak with excitement about "Camp Mommy".

Here's one of the crafts that was a big hit with the girls:

We decorated a couple of Daddy's old undershirts with miscellaneous items from my craft drawer and some fun things my friend Veronica brought over.  We used markers, Aleene's Tacky Glue, buttons, sequins, lace, ribbon, and anything else we could get our hands on.  After the glue dried, Veronica, Chazaq & I were the audience for a wonderful fashion show.  Zion & Zoan were so proud to show off their creations.  And when Daddy came home, he was quite impressed with the transformation of his old shirts!  I think the next time the girls want new dress up clothes, this will be on the agenda for sure!  Plus it kept them entertained for hours!  Anything that can do that is a hit in my book!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Homemade Baby Food

Just last week I was blessed to spend time with a friend making baby food for her little one.  I have made all the baby food for my older 2 children and look forward to doing it for Chazaq when he's ready.  If you're interested, here's the simple steps!  It's so easy and so cost effective!  Plus you know exactly what ingredients are going into what your baby eats!

All you need are some ice cube trays, some zip loc freezer bags, a marker and whatever fruits and veggies you want to prepare for your little one.

I like to start with veggies.   Some of my favorites are winter squashes like butternut, acorn & spaghetti, sweet potatoes, carrots, & beets (although, beware-it causes purple poop!). Most fruits you can simply puree without cooking if they are ripe enough.  Ones I like to use are pears, peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. 

For the winter squash I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, place them in a 9 x 13 pyrex baking dish with and bake at 400 degrees for 1hour to an hour & 15 min.  I use the time it's baking to prep carrots, beets, or spinach and to puree the fruit.  You can steam or boil them.  Use as little water as possible and reserve it for thinning the purees.  Once you have the veggies cooked, puree them and pour them into your ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  I leave mine to freeze overnight then pop them out into the freezer bags labeled with the date and type of food. 

To thaw, just place a couple of cubes in a bowl in the fridge to thaw.  My pediatrician recommended trying the same food for a few days before introducing a new one.  Once your baby has had a good assortment, you can start to mix and match to disguise foods he doesn't like or to just make it a little more interesting.

I like to keep a stash of purees in the freezer even without a baby in the house.  The winter squashes and carrot purees are great to add into our Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and the girls don't know they are eating veggies while still getting one of their favorite meals.  And the fruit can be added to yogurt and you have a nice smoothie!

I know I've enjoyed making food for my little ones.  Hopefully these tips will give you a little inspiration to try it out for yourself!  Have fun!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fuzzy Critter Craft

My girls love to craft!  I try to do some kind of craft with them even if it's just coloring in their coloring books, at least once a week.  This week, we made fuzzy critters with pom poms and pipe cleaners.  It's easy, affordable, and a ton of fun!  Here's how we did it in case you want to do it yourself.

Here are the ones I made that I'll use as examples.  I made a Teddy Bear, a dragonfly, and a birdie.

For the bear you need 1 large pom pom, 1 medium pom pom, 4 small pom poms, 3 a little smaller pom poms and one tiny pom pom.  And of course googly eyes are always fun!
I used my hot glue gun because I have no patience, but the girls used Aleene's Tacky Glue for their projects.

The next one is probably one of my favorites.  I love cute little bugs! 
First we wrapped a pipe cleaner around a wooden dowel.  A pencil would work well for this as well.  Then glue on a small pom pom.  Cut one 2 inches off of one pipe cleaner for legs and use the remaining por

Another fun critter to make is a birdie.  For this I used one large and one medium pom pom, a set of googly eyes, and 3 pipe cleaners.  Cut off 1 inch for a tail from one of the pipe cleaners and then cut that one in half for the wings.  For the beak, cut off 1 inch and use the remaining for the legs.

Wrap the longest pipe cleaner around a dowel or pencil.  Glue one end to the largest pom pom and the other end to the small pom pom for the head.  Glue on eyes, beak, tail, wings, and legs.

These were so easy to make.  After we made a few of the critters from my head, the girls decided to come up with a few of their own.  I'll let you guess which is which, but we now have a snake, a caterpillar, a couple of snowmen, and a lion in our critter collection.

Now head to the  craft store, get some pipe cleaners pom poms and googly eyes and get ready for some fun with your kids!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The importance of "Just because"

When we get married, most of us register for a China pattern.  I didn't do this, I just got some plain black plates that Jeremy & I both enjoyed.  I had always had a secret desire to collect Fiestaware and adorn my dinner table with the vibrant assorted colors.  It took a little convincing, but after finding several sets at a store that used to be here in Phoenix called Off the Rack for $5.00 for a complete set, Jeremy was sold.  Especially when I took him to an antique store and he saw how much the vintage plates are priced at!

Since that time, I've begun to collect various serving pieces and place settings.  These beautiful dishes for years decorated the pot shelves in my kitchen, only to be brought down for "special" occasions.  Then I decided to redecorate a little and moved the Fiestaware into the cabinets where they would accumulate less dust and would be more easily accessible.

That was over a year ago and since that time we've used these wonderfully "festive" dishes for many "just because" meals.  My daughters get the honor of choosing the colors we will use for such meals and who will get which color.  It's a very fun time and I truly believe they will look back on these times fondly as they grow.  Our most recent use of the Fiestaware was this Monday night, "just because."  I made a roast, mashed potatoes, corn, and fried some zucchini and eggplant.  The meal was delicious and the company most precious:  Jeremy, Zion, Zoan, myself at the colorful table & Chazaq sleeping comfortably against my chest in my Wrapsody wrap.  There was no special occasion, but I wanted to celebrate my family.  I'm the momma so I can do that.  After all, if I don't make my family feel like the most special people in the world "just because", who will?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Elimination Communication

Chazaq is 8 weeks old!  I can't believe it has gone by so fast, but it feels like he's been with us forever.

Several years ago Jeremy & I were in China where we noticed that none of the babies were wearing diapers.  It seemed strange to me so I asked some of the folks there and also saw moms taking their babies to the restroom.  I decided to do a little more research.  That's when I first discovered Elimination Communication. 

It seemed a little strange to me so I didn't try it until I read a few more articles about the time Zoan was 1 yr old.    One thing that stuck out to me, "If they are eating and suddenly seem a little fussy, they probably need to potty."  So at Zoan's next meal, I noticed her getting fussy, took her to the little potty and... she went #1 & #2! Zion had turned 3 years old before she was potty trained and I thought anything could be better than what I had already tried.  Using this method as a tool,  Zoan was very easy to potty train from this point forward.

Now we're on baby #3.  At 2 weeks old after his circumcision had healed, and his umbilical cord had fallen off, I started taking him to the potty.  I had already noticed that he hated even the smallest amount of urine in his diaper.  His cues are pretty easy to interpret.  Typically after waking or eating, I can take him to the toilet and he will quickly begin to use it.  I'm not catching every time he needs to go, but on average, I figure he uses to potty at least 5 times a day.

I asked my mom when I was training Zion how old I was when I was potty trained.  She told me I was around 18 months.  I didn't really believe her.  My argument was "Zion can barely walk, can't really speak, how could she possibly be potty trained?"  Now, I believe she was right!  (Sorry, mom!)  She must have been much more in tune with my cues.  If only I'd been paying closer attention to my children, I might have saved a mint on pull-ups and diapers!  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recycled Crayons

It is inevitable.  If you have children, you have broken crayons.  Today we solved our problem.  I had the girls help me remove the paper (I did most of it).  Then I had them divide the colors into color families.  I had read that silicone muffin cups work well.  So I pulled out the snow flake ones I bought at the Target dollar spot a couple of years ago.  They didn't work for muffins so this was their chance to redeem themselves.  Once we had the colors divided, I put them in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I let them cool for 30 minutes and now my darling daughters are enjoying their new crayons.  Zion even asked if we could do this to our unbroken crayons so they won't be so boring.   Hopefully she won't break them on purpose, but this was so easy, we will have to do it when the inevitable takes over the crayon box once again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

As a mom, I'm always looking for ways to make my life easier and to do things more quickly and efficiently.  If at all possible, I like to be a little greener, too!  Here are some things that help me do just that.

I LOVE my Wrapsody baby wrap.  It makes being the mother of 3 a piece of cake.  I have done so many things while wearing my little one.  Vacuuming, ironing, moping, taking a walk around the neighborhood, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, playing drums at church, gardening, the possibilities are limitless!

A must have for anyone with a baby in the house is Gripe Water.  It calms a colicky baby, relieves hiccups, and for my little one who sometimes gets a little cranky and just needs to relax a little, it seems to be just the thing to get him to calm down enough so he can nurse.

I'm also very in like with my Udder Cover.  It is just the thing for nursing discretely when company is over or when I'm in public.

 I love anything made by Burt's Bees.  I get a little scared of all the chemicals so many cosmetics contain.  I like knowing that what I'm putting on my skin is natural and pure.

Hylands Teething Tablets.  They are great for when the teeth start coming in.

Probiotics... If you're not taking some kind, just find one.  Your immune system and digestive tract will thank you!

Mother's Milk Tea...Tastes great and helps with milk production.

I'm a big fan of having the right tools for whatever job you need to do.  It may mean more of an investment initially, but if you can buy quality, you won't have to buy quantity.  It may seem a little old fashioned, but the best gifts I've received are my vacuum, my iron, and my washer/dryer.  Research what your needs are and what will work best for you, then look for a bargain.  Never pay full price for anything!  These things obviously didn't come as gifts for one occasion, but over the 10 years we've been married, we've accumulated these things.

Homemade cleaning products made easy

For the past couple of years I've been making my own cleaning products and laundry detergent.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes.  Enjoy!

Laundry Detergent:
4 Cups Borax
4 Cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 bar (grated) Dr. Bronner's bar soap

Mix together and use 3 Tbsp per load

Fabric Softener:
16 oz. Vinegar
20 drops lavender oil or tea tree oil (both of these are great at preventing moths)
3 Tbsp will do the trick here, too

Furniture Polish:
1 part Lemon Juice
1 part Canola Oil

Put in a spray bottle and polish away... Very good at getting up what little hands leave behind!

All Purpose Cleaner (windows, countertops, etc.)

2 T ammonia
1 t dish detergent
1 pint rubbing alcohol
4 drops food coloring (I use 2 red and 2 blue to make it look like 409)
favorite essential oil (I like lemon, orange or lavender)
fill remainder of a gallon jug with water

Glass cleaner
1/2 c ammonia
2 c rubbing alcohol
1 tsp dishwashing detergent
fill remainder of a gallon jug with water.
(add blue food coloring if desired)
I like to add a little lemon or orange essential oil just to hide the alcohol scent.

Another great way to clean your windows that keeps them from getting streaked is just mixing a couple of tablespoons of corn starch into a gallon of warm water.  I put it in a bucket, use a lint free cloth to wash the window and immediately dry with a second cloth.  This works very well for the outside windows.  Plus it costs next to nothing!

Hope you all have as much fun as I'm having!
(You save quite a bit of $$$ too!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pineapple works!

Well, the due date of March 14th came and went.  The 15th I had some very consistent contractions so my dear husband and I walked around the block for about an hour and since they didn't disappear and seemed to get closer together we made the trek to Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Birthing Center.  We got there had maybe 2 or 3 contractions in the triage room, walked the halls for about an hour holding hands and talking with each other and went home.  It was a nice little date, although I could think of many more romantic places I would've liked to be. 
No progress for the next day so I decided to go shopping with the Z girls, my mom, sister & niece.  We walked around Target, hit the dollar spot to spend the money all the cousins got from Poppy and before heading home, made a stop at Sprouts to get a pineapple.  My last attempt at coaxing Chazaq to make an appearance on the outside. 
We arrived home, everyone else had delicious sandwiches for lunch and I ate half of a pineapple all by myself.  That happened around noon and by 2:30 I was having SERIOUS contractions every 15 minutes.  I texted Jeremy who was at work and went to take a bath to see if they would go away.  I called Jeremy again and told him he'd probably better start heading home.  He came home, and we made the trek once again to the birthing center.  This time I needed a wheel chair to even get to the elevator.  I was in real labor finally!  I had hoped to have this child without an epidural as my blood pressure dropped drastically with my 2nd child.  But something in my gut told me this would not be the easy delivery I had experienced twice previously and I decided to get the epidural.  My fear was that I'd have to have a cesarean and without the epidural I would have to be put under general anesthesia and would not get to see my baby immediately after birth.
We went to the room I was going to deliver in, got the epidural, and after my labor seemed to be progressing nicely,  the Dr. broke my water as that had been a tried and true way for me to have a baby in less than 45 minutes in the past.  Chazaq's heartrate began to drop and I could see a look of concern on Jeremy's face.  I was moved in all different kinds of positions to try to get him off the cord but nothing was working.  The Dr even tried to reach in to pull him out.  We were both becoming distressed so off the the "back" we went. 
Jeremy was taken to a room to get dressed for the surgery and all I could see were masked faces and eyes.  None of which were the eyes that I wanted to see.  I heard Dr. Schwartz command someone to "Get her husband in here!" and the eyes I longed for were there comforting me.  Our son was delivered and we discovered that he was face up with the cord wrapped around his neck twice.  Both of these factors made it impossible to deliver naturally.  Praise the Lord for a Dr that knew how to decide what to do quickly and acted on it efficiently.  
After the surgery was completed I was taken to a couple of different rooms before settling in our room that we would stay in for 4 days.  This recovery was much more difficult than my previous two deliveries. I remember saying to the nurse, "People really request this on purpose?"  It was much more difficult than I had anticipated.
All in all, the birth went well even though it was not as planned.  I have a healthy, happy baby boy who has stolen my heart!  I'm thankful for that gut feeling that helped me do what I felt was best for myself and my baby.  And I'm thankful for the pineapple that helped to get it all started!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Waiting Game

Strange that this should be the first post, but this is what's going on right now!

Mack #3 is on his way any day now.  Well, at least we hope!  His estimated due date is March 14th.  I had my 39 week Dr. appointment this morning, and Dr. Schwartz thinks he's going to be a big little guy and thinks it wise to induce if I go past my due date.  So, unless things start to progress on their own in the next few days, it looks as though we will be inducing next week.

Things I'm doing to coax him out:
-Raspberry Leaf Tea
-Accupressure on some points around my ankles I found suggested online
-Sitting on an exercise ball

So far, none have these have seemed to make much difference.