Cheap bookshelf alternative for nursery or toddler room

I am a reader, I have always loved books. It was one thing I really wanted to pass down to my son when he was born. I asked for people to give me baby books for my baby shower if they preferred as a gift instead.

Let me just say. He has A LOT of books.

I am also happy to report that he loves to read… or at least be read to.

Here is my cost friendly bookshelf hack.

 

1. Buy any color of paint you wish your shelf to be. If you like the light wood pine color, then you don’t even need to buy paint and can save yourself that money.

2. Go to your nearest IKEA and get the BEKVÄM Spice Rack or order online here for only $3.99 each

3. Paint your shelve pieces and let dry.

4. Put together the spice rack

5. Mount on the wall and enjoy!

Due to all of his books, we now have ten racks, and they are FULL.

While this may not be ideal for an older child or teen with many books, this is perfect for those early toddlers and young child years.

Here is my end result for my son’s room.

Happy Savings!

We’re going to the zoo!

What happens when your husband is Military, and you get placed temporarily (read four months) in a hotel, in a city that is not going to be your final destination, and you have a 1-year-old?

You get a zoo membership of course!

Reality is, being a military spouse is hard, but you have to learn very early on to make due with what you have and what you are given. Otherwise, the results can be devasting as not only a person but a family as well.

So about a week into our stay in our temporary “home” (read standard hotel room), I realized the walls were very quickly closing in on my very active, then 14-month-old, son. Toys, books, and cartoons were just not cutting it anymore. I needed to find another outlet for his energy that would be entertaining for him and save my sanity at the same time. So that weekend we all went to the zoo.

As we were going to go and get our admission passes, I saw the military tickets were $14 per adult and my son would be free as a child under two. My eyes then went a little south and saw the member section, and Military annual was $89 for two adults and unlimited children of members. My brain quickly turned into a calculator. Each visit to the zoo would cost us in admission fees $28. So if we could come just four times in the four months that we were going to be here, it would more than pay for itself. After very little convincing, my husband agreed and got us the membership.

In the past four months, we have been to the zoo a total of 17 times. So that means we have saved $387. You cant do better than that!

I know some of you are wondering how the hell do you not get tired of going to the zoo so much! Well one, I have a toddler who LOVES animals. I am pretty sure I could take him there daily, and he would never tire of it. Secondly, we don’t do the whole zoo every time. Sure there are some days we walk it all, but mostly we’ll do a loop or segment per visit. Making each visit on its own a new adventure since we didn’t see those animals ‘last time’.

Of course, there are certain parts we see all the time. Tigers and the monkey sections are always a must. He just loves screaming ‘ooo-ah-ah-ah’ at the poor orangutangs that have no idea why the little imp in front of them is screaming and bouncing around so much.

Even though for me as a mother and wife, it has been difficult living in a hotel room for the past four months, these zoo adventures are something I will cherish forever.

I have learned to take the bad with the good and make the most out of any situation.

So if you are unsure of what to do, just go to the zoo!

Until Next Time

After the baby comes the…blues?!

When you are a first-time mom, I feel confident enough to say nothing truly prepared me for what came after the birth.

I read the books, saw the videos, heard the stories, babysat, cleaned the diapers of any parent crazy enough to give their child up. And yet, the one thing nothing talked about, that one thing no one told me about, “baby blues.”

Baby blues by definition is different than PPD (post-partum depression). With baby blues, they last a couple of weeks only and go away quickly on its own. PPD more times than not require some form of medical intervention, whether through medication or therapy and can last from months to years if untreated.

With me, PPD nor Baby-Blues ever crossed my mind. It was never even a possibility for me. My pregnancy, though full of trips to the toilet to puke my brains out, was happy and content. That doesn’t mean I had no idea about PPD. I knew a couple of close family members and friends that dealt with it. For me, it never seemed to be a real thing.

 

Then came one of the happiest day of my life. I had my beautiful baby boy. I managed to survive pushing “the thing,” as I called him in the middle of labor, unmedicated. He came out, clean, healthy, and even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined him to be. I felt great right after surprisingly, didn’t need an episiotomy (TMI sorry), didn’t tear (again, sorry TMI), all I wanted was a shower and food. So about 20 minutes after my baby was born, the pizza was on its way, and I was requesting a nurse for a shower. This is the point where things began to change for me.

The ten steps that it took me to get from the bed to the bathroom were horrible. I was severely lightheaded and had to admit to the nurse I didn’t think I could make it back to the bed. The nurse quickly helped me sit on the toilet, told me to take deep breaths and she would give me a hand back. After that, I didn’t feel quite ‘right’ for a couple of weeks.

I got the joy of having two blood transfusions and two extra days in the hospital. My husband had to get me the baby for a good week after, because I was afraid if I stood with him I would faint.

It was hard I felt like I had just started my role as a mother and was already failing. I couldn’t get up to get my child when he needed me, and I had to rely on someone else.

I also struggled with breastfeeding in the beginning. I was an overproducer, so I was in constant pain and in fear of mastitis (which I somehow magically avoided), and my sons suction was tearing my poor nipples up.

Yes I know, all sorts of TMI here, again, sorry.

The days were long. I remember sitting on the couch, my son in his swing, calmly, being the best baby I could have ever asked for. My husband cleaned all diapers for the first three weeks. I only touched him to feed him.

I recall how my husband would ask me daily what was wrong, why was I crying? My response was always the same. I DONT KNOW. By this point, I could walk, and I was no longer reliant on him. Reality is, I didn’t know why I felt so much sadness. There was nothing I could pinpoint what was triggering the feeling of hopelessness.

 

So on it went, random times of the days, I’d cry for ten minutes and then go on with life as if nothing happened. Day after day, for about five weeks. Then one day I just stopped crying. The feelings went away. I no longer felt constantly sad, and for the first time I could carry and look at my son and enjoy being in his presence without the fear that I would break out in tears.

Once the fog lifted, I began to research. What had plagued me? What was this thing that was such a taboo to talk about? So I spent weeks reading and learning. It was interesting to read that both baby-blues and PPD were common that we could expect.

It’s so important to learn about baby-blues and PPD and to seek help especially when the When you are a first-time mom, I feel confident enough to say nothing truly prepared me for what came after the birth.baby-blues seem to linger.

So many mothers are criticized and judged for thinking or having these feelings, something that is so common. Rather than keep this to ourselves we should strive to talk about it, take it out of the shadows, get it out of the taboo sections. The more we embrace and empower ourselves and those we know who deal with this secret ‘ illness,’ the more that women hear about it, the easier it is to treat and learn that you are not alone.

For those of you that have ever experienced or are experiencing baby blues or PPD, know you are not alone. You are not the first person to feel like that, nor will you be the last. But know you are amazing!

To those of you who have experienced or are experiencing “baby blues” or PPD, I hope that you are aware that you are not alone. You are human, and you are amazing. And more importantly, seek help, this is not something to be ashamed of.

For more information on PPD go here.

To learn more on the difference of baby-blues vs PPD go here.

5 easy tips for getting organized using a planner

You always hear, organization is key.

Well, for most of us, (especially me) organization just does not come easy! So here are a few tips and tricks on using a planner to help with getting organized.

1. Figure out if you are more of a sit and write or write on the go. This is a crucial step. I like to sit and write, meaning I make time early in the morning to sit down with my coffee and planner. I add new things to it, along with checking out what I need to do for the day. If you are a write and go, means you need something regularly with you to remind you of tasks throughout the day, and to jot down spur of the moment things.

2. Color is key! For me it is. I love to write in different colors and make my planner a bright mess. While I do use my black and gold template, I write in blue, pink, purple, green, any color I can get my hands on really.

3. This one kind of goes with 2, color coordinate. It makes it easy to spot certain types of tasks. I know anything written in red means medical. Blue is work. Green is dates. Purple is birthdays. Find your colors and make your key chart to remind you what colors to use where.

4. Use it for lists. Some of mine are, grocery, medical, dates, birthdays, appointments, writing for work, research, etc.

5. Chores. Yes, no one likes this word, but making a written plan helps me stick to it better. I, for example, do all of our laundries on Mondays and Thursdays. Towels get done Thursdays as well (we have a whole lot of towels where I can put it off for a month unless I see that written reminder!) Mopping is Tuesdays. Grocery is Friday. Having chores spread out throughout the week actually helps me too. It makes me feel like I am doing less since I don’t spend an entire day on them.

These are my secret five musts for organization using a planner. It really does help me keep up with all of my goals and tasks of the day. There is just something about putting pen to paper that makes things commit to memory, and then the added benefit of seeing it all colorful and bright catching the attention of anyone within a hundred yards finishes bringing it home for me.

I hope my small, easy tricks to organization helps you as much as it did me.

Be sure to sign up for my free planner templates!

Until Next time!

Cheers!

Getting ready for the baby, what you really need in your hospital bag!

You have finally come around to making that pesky hospital bag. Whether you are 20 weeks pregnant or 35 weeks, it’s never an easy task.

I am sure you have heard it all by now, I know I did. From the must-haves in the hospital bag to the just leave behind you’ll never use. And truth be told some were right, not to mention everyone’s experience is different. The reality is, it also has to do with your hospital and what they give. So here are some of my musts and leave behind, with a few extra tips along the way.

1. Non-slip socks. Forget the slippers or the shoes, just plain old socks. If you have your baby in the little bassinet beside you, you’ll still need to take a step to reach over for your bundle safely. If you already have socks on it makes it much easier than having to search for and put on shoes. I got these cute ones from amazon, here.
2. Hair ties. I don’t know how your labor will go, but my contractions came on my hair wash day. Now, I am a first-time mom and didn’t realize I had quite some time to shower and do my hair, but my panic and rush to the hospital had me in labor without my hair being done. Hair ties were my savior.
3. Boppy. That is if you are planning on breastfeeding. It will get you used to it for when you get home, not to mention much more comfortable than having your arm floating around while you and your little learn to bond.
4. Electronic chargers. Phone, laptop, e-reader, whatever electronics you take remember the chargers.
5. 2 comfortable sets of clothing. I had a natural labor, meaning comfy for me was a dress. If you have a c-section comfortable for you may be leggings. Plan for both occasions, you never know what turn things may take.

Now comes the maybe section. I brought toiletries, but my hospital gave me everything from toothpaste and brush to a hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner. I also took makeup that I did not use. So if you are a big makeup user take it, otherwise leave it behind. You will be too enamored of your new bundle to worry too much about what you look like, though you may want to dabble on some makeup for those first few pictures.

They gave me tucks (which are wonderful! you can find them here if you don’t get them) as well as pads, and the pain relief spray. I had heavy bleeding where I needed two blood transfusions, so I ended up sending my husband to buy me Depends because I leaked through the pads. Future pregnancies I will take depends, however, because they were much more comfortable than the mesh panties they give you.

I took magazines and some “entertainment” things to keep my mind off the pain (no epidural) but never used them. I just closed my eyes and tried to rest in between contractions. That is something I will leave behind next time, but it may be helpful for some. Especially if you do an epidural, you’ll want something to do to pass the time.

The don’t include section. Do not take too many clothes. For me, it was better to use the hospital gown because it had breastfeeding flaps. Much easier and if it got milk or blood on it I could just request another.

Nipple cream. I got about four “sample” tubes that lasted me up until three months postpartum.

Breast pads, I got two boxes of them from the hospital.

Never be afraid to ask for things. Alcohol swabs to clean the babies belly button. They may not give you the breast pads and cream unless you ask for it. Anything that may be for your well-being and your babies, they will have so ask away. My hospital also gave me a bag of diapers and wipes, though I have heard some hospitals do not give wipes anymore. Like I said, ask for everything, worse case scenario you can send someone to the gift shop for you to get anything you may need.

Happy Packing!

15 Dairy-Free Snacks for Toddlers

While there are many options out there, here are some of my overall favorites, not to mention one’s toddlers will love.

1. Fresh cut veggies with dip – This one is pretty easy. Bring out the carrots and hummus, or mashed avocado. Quick easy and not to mention healthy.

2. Celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins – You know what I’m talking about. Good ole fashioned ants on a log. You cut the celery in half long way, fill with peanut butter and drop a couple of raisins on top. Tada, a fun, healthy dairy free snack for your little one.

3. Sweet potato fries – Forget snack for the toddler, this mama loves these. Just slice up that sweet potato, add a little salt and pepper and pop into the oven.

4. Apple sauce – Whether bought or purchased this is a traditional favorite for kids all ages.

5. Raisins – Just like apple sauce, a typical favorite for kids.

6. Banana Pops – All you have to do is peel the banana, cut in half, add a popsicle stick and dip the banana in melted dark chocolate. Freeze, and that’s it. Your kiddo can have a delicious frozen treat without the worry of dairy in there.

7. Grapes – These are great as is, or even frozen. Great anytime snack.

8. Apple sauce oatmeal muffins – There are a couple of recipes out there floating around the internet. The apple sauce will replace all the dairy, leaving you with a delicious dairy free muffin the whole family will love.

9. Granola bar – Great alone or you can dress it up for picky eaters with a smear of peanut butter or dairy-free chocolate spread.

10. Pretzel sticks – alone or with hummus dip

11. Oreos – Nuff said!

12. Hard Boiled eggs – These puppies aren’t just good for breakfast, boil one or two for a good healthy snack that will hold them over until dinner.

13. Cheerios – a Good family staple. They can eat it alone, or in a bowl with some almond milk (or milk of choice).

14. Popcorn – Just be sure to get the one with no butter!

15. – Oatmeal – Any type works as long as it is made with water or whatever dairy-free milk of your choice.

Do you have a dairy free kid? Have you made your very own recipe? Have a picture of it? We’d love to hear from you! Message me, and I will feature you and your recipe on one of our posts.

Cheers!

Our Breastfeeding Journey, 16 months and counting!

We hear the stereotypes all the time, the crazy uber liberal breastfeeding mom that walks around everywhere shirtless.

There’s also the hermit breastfeeding mom that never leaves home for fear that the baby may need to be fed in the ten seconds she manages to step foot outside of the house.

Yes, they may exist. You may know one, or maybe even be one! But the reality is, those are the extremes of breastfeeding, most are just regular moms.

Then you hear the horror stories. The teething child that clamps down on nipples. The one lady who’s kid bit off a chunk of said nipple, the pincher, the distracted nurser, the hour long drinker.

So how did I survive breastfeeding for this long? Simple, I didn’t listen. I shut my ears to the “stories” and decided to experience nursing my child for my self.

That is not to say that I didn’t deal with my share of horrors because believe me I did. But there so many sweet moments in between that just made it all worth it.

I lived through an oversupply issue, which for you just enoughers or those that don’t make enough, it’s not as great as it sounds. Severe constant engorgement (even with my ‘baby’ being 16 months old), the endless purchases of breast pads, mastitis (which I have miraculously avoided), plugged ducts, pumping for ‘relief.’ The list could keep going.

There was also the whole him exposing the nerves on my nipples thanks to his monstrous sucking powers. Side note, it was just his sucking, there was no lip or tongue tie, latch issue involved. We were checked, by at least five professionals.

We lived through nipple confusion which lasted six weeks, only to go back to the breast and refuse bottles. I mean the kid still refuses them, wouldn’t even take water from it, though he now just uses cups and straws.

Of course, he is a typical child and hates nursing covers, so I had to learn how to breastfeed in public without using a cover, as discreetly as possible. By the way, the double shirt method is probably the best way.

Those were my bad, the moments that made me question my sanity for continuing the path that caused me so much pain. But I did continue because it brought me so much joy.

I get asked by new moms how do I do it? And why am I still breastfeeding at 16 months, with no signs of stopping?

Well, how do I do it? I just do. Whenever he needs milk, i take out my breast and feed him, regardless of my surrounding or needs to myself. Why? Because this little being is solely dependant on me and I want to be able to give him what I believe I could best give him. And whats better than milk created by the person that created him, milk personally tailored to him and his needs. That is what I think of when I question myself or feel some pains caused due to breastfeeding. I focus on the broader picture.

As to why I am still breastfeeding my now toddler. Well, you try telling him no.

Breatfeeding isn’t a one-way relationship. It is a relationship your little person is highly invested in. Not only is it a food source, but it is also a soother, some quiet time with mom, a cuddle session, a snack, a boo boo fixer, it is so much more to them.

Plus, there is nothing wrong with adding those extra nutrients and vitamins in there when they go through an “only chicken” phase.

So this is my breastfeeding journey. It has been long, and gone on for more than the ‘average’ time frame, had its ups and downs, but it is mine. There are many stories out there, and sure you can read them all in hopes to prepare yourself for your breastfeeding journey. Or perhaps you are here reading this in hopes of a magical answer to make it instantly better and easier, but sadly that doesn’t exist.

Some have very easy and smooth journeys, some have some bumps along the way as I did, but the goal is the same. To do the best you can do for your child.

If you can push through the bumps and continue breastfeeding, congratulations. Welcome to the “you’re breastfeeding a toddler” group, be ready for all sorts of comments on what a weirdo you are for doing so. Know, you are not alone.

What happens if you are one of that 40 % of women who don’t make it to breastfeeding past three months? You grab your bottle, prepare the formula and feed your baby. You are doing right by your child. You breastfed for however long you could or wanted to and now you formula feed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Know, you too are not alone.

If you can take one thing from this, I hope that you understand each journey is different. Do not expect yours to be like anyone else’s. So close your eyes, and enjoy your time breastfeeding, because before you know it, it will be over.

Until next time!

Top 10 tried and tested baby items worth the money

 

10 Tried and tested baby items that are worth the money.

As if having a baby wasn’t overwhelming enough, especially as a first-time mom, but having to pick the “right” items makes it that much more stressful.

I remember running around my local baby store six months pregnant scanning everything in sight.

I had no idea what was worth buying. While family and friends loved to give me their opinion, the items were all over the board.

Then there was my none stop research and Amazon adventures. I will gladly say, my name is Michelle, and I am an Amazon addict. I mean hello, we have prime, two-day free shipping! Nothing can beat that. Especially pregnant with sciatica, and the summer heat.

While I do not claim to be an expert, I have tried and tested a few different types of the same items from brands, to styles. So after all of these trial and errors, and more money spent than I am willing to admit to my husband, I am confident enough to compile this list. Here are my top ten tried and tested baby items that are worth the money.

*I am not affiliated to any of these items or companies*

 

1.Infantino Grow with Me Activity Gym + Ball Pit –This is wonderful, and I was so excited when I got it for my baby shower. It has a decent amount of cushion where I felt it safe to lay my baby in there without any additional padding in the bottom. My son loved the bright colors from the animals hanging above. Then once he began to roll over, I lifted the mesh border which helped him stay in there. And once he learned to sit up I turned it into the ball pit setting. It was a great staple in my house until he was about one year old.

 

 

2.Diaper Dekor Classic Diaper Disposal System –
I had heard for so long how the Diaper Gene and all other diaper pails were such a waste of money. That once you opened it, the smell wafted into the room and it reeked. Now, these diaper pails I noticed were just a single top with a special liner. Then I ran across the Diaper Dekor. Not only does it have a self-closing lid, but an interior “trap door” which opens only as the diaper is dropped in quickly closing once it passes the opening, actually minimizing the time in which smell can get out. Another thing I liked about it was the fact that you could create the size of your bag. Meaning you could take it out daily and not “waste” any bag space. I love this so much I have purchased it as a baby shower gift three times already!

 

 

3.Fisher Price 4-in-1 Rock N Glide Soother-
Oh, the glider, how I love you. This item is fantastic! Not only does it rotate to glide front to back and side to side, but you can take the seat out and make it a rocker. Forget the swing; the glider was our lifesaver!

 

 

 

 

4.ezpz Happy Mat/Bowl-
While it may be quite a few months before you sit your little one in a high chair to eat this is still something you will want. It sticks to the table or highchair and is a mat and bowl/or plate all in one. Perfect for that “lets toss all our food and plate on the floor” phase.

 

 

5.Fisher Price Deluxe Fast Finder Backpack Diaper Bag-
Oh, diaper bags. There are just so many! So many designs and colors, brands and prices. I know I was slightly addicted to buying them in the beginning. I think I totaled four before finally trying out the backpack diaper bag I had purchased for my husband. Well, I LOVED it and never used any other kind again. WHile there are many backpack designs out there this one is my favorite. The individually designed spaces for items makes finding things super easy and convenient. If this isn’t for you and you want something “girly” or “classy” check out leather backpack diaper bags. I can not stress enough how more convenient it is to have the backpack versus the totes.

6.Chicco Lullago Delux Travel Crib-
A go to life saver. If I had to work, I could easily take it to another room. Nowhere near as clunky as a pack n play, and so much lighter. I also used this as his bed in our room until he learned to stand. It is deeper than the average bassinet and longer as well letting you use it for a much more extended period. Not to mention it’s put away quickly and perfect for on the go for any getaway trips.

 

7.Graco Swift Fold High Chair-

An absolute must have. This highchair folds so easily and takes up almost no room once folded up. Especially ideal for those with little storage space.

 

 

 

8.Aquatopia Bathtime Saftey Kneeler-
This is one of those items I see people say all the time is a waste of money. While you can survive without it, all I will say is your knees will thank you for this.

 

 

 

9.Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Drop Shape Humidifier-
I saw many reviews on this humidifier, some good some bad. My honest take on it is that for the price it is worth it. Easy to take apart and clean, though you may need some cotton swabs to reach a couple of places. It never took me longer than five minutes to clean. I used it daily for months at a time and still works great. Also very quiet, which we all know is a must for a sleeping baby.

10.Halo Sleepsack-
My son was a master at getting out of the blanket swaddle, so when I came across this, I hadto try it. Man was it a game changer. Not only would it keep him swaddled, but it also allowed me to let his arms free and keep his feet in the sack for daytime naps.

 

 

BONUS – VTech Super Star Learning Table-
Yes, a bonus. Why, well because I love spoiling my baby and buying him toys. This is one of those grows with them toys. Once he learned to sit, I pulled this bad boy out, left it on the floor without the legs and he loved it. Then once he began trying to stand, I put the legs on and it was sturdy and strong enough for him to pull himself up and stand. Now at 16 months, where he walks and runs he still plays with it. (He loves pretending to drive). SO if you want to invest in a toy, this is one that will be worth the money and more for a long time use.

 

I hope that you all find this helpful! I know that if I had a list like this from the get go, we would have saved quite a few hundred dollars.

Until next time!

Every story has a beginning…

Every story has a beginning, and yours was wonderful.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, it was a constant mixture of pure happiness and terror. I had lost a pregnancy just a few months before yours came to be. See, we had been patiently and anxiously waiting for you.

There were scares, in the beginning, the terror of losing you before being able to have you, but then I heard your heartbeat. It was the best sound I had heard my whole life. It was strong and fast. Many said you’d be a girl because the heart rate was so high. Oh, how wrong they were my sweet little boy.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I vividly remember sitting on the couch, barely seven weeks along and looking over to George, “It’s going to be a boy.” I was sure of it. He smiled and said twin girls, nearly causing me to have a heart attack!

We had many appointments, got to see you wiggle and grow. Thankfully your father got to attend every one.

You were supposed to come in May, but you couldn’t wait and came early. Instantly April became one of my favorite months because it gave me you.

That was the month we introduced you to the world and told everyone your name.

Something we had kept to ourselves selfishly. We wanted a secret, something that was just between the two of us, and your name was it.

And after 16 hours of labor, learning anesthesia in epidural doesn’t work on me and having to deal with an unplanned un-medicated labor all while laying on my left side because your oxygen would go down, I was more than ready to meet you.

Pretty sure you were more than ready to meet us since the doctor walked in with your head almost all out, couldn’t set up the lamp, and his robe had to stay un-tied since there was no time.

After all that, and knowing I’d need to have two blood transfusions later, I’d still do it all over again!

Every beginning has a story, and yours will

forever be my favorite for it is the day I met you.

 

Until next time

Michelle