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Dani Jean

Mama

Annnnd I’m Back! With Big News To Share

Big-Sister-Baby-Brother

Big News! Our Little Family Is Growing

It’s been a while since my last post, but I am still here and still loving mama life. In fact I love it so much we decided to add another kiddo to the mix. We are so blessed!

Since finding out the good news at the end of last year, we’ve been working diligently to get our house in order and prepare our toddler for becoming a big sister. She is doing great and I know she’ll make a great big sis. She helps out around the house and is loving her new big girl room (more on that later). Bug is now fully potty trained and proudly sporting Lightning McQueen and Tow-Mater panties that she insisted we buy for her. A major key to success was finding the best travel potty and taking it with us everywhere we go.

We’ve also worked to button up some of our lingering house projects like landscaping the backyard, clearing out the junk room (yes, we not only had a junk drawer, we had a whole room), and organizing our storage for maximum livability with minimum stress over toddler safety.

We look forward to welcoming the newest addition to our family in late August! Only three more months to go. I won’t leave you hanging any longer: Over the next few months stay tuned for Summer gardening info, preparations for the arrival of our little boy, tips on beating the heat and having some summer fun with our 2-year old!


Impromptu Photoshoot for Gender Reveal, Photo Credit: Aunt E

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Micro FarmerPlanting

Garden Planting Schedule Spring 2017

Happy-Harvest

With the Winter season coming into its final month here in the southwest desert, it is that time of year to start planting again. I love planning my garden planting. At the bottom of this post you will find my garden planting schedule for Spring 2017.

Garden Planning Resources

Important components of a good garden plan include the schedule of when to plant which plants, the best days for planting each type seed, and the actual layout accounting for companion crops (that’s a whole ‘nother post). I use this FREE guide from Farmer’s Almanac determine best planting times for specific crops in my local area. They list counties and cities for every state. I’ve found this resource to also be highly accurate when combined with their Gardening by the Moon Calendar . This Free planting guide is based on the age-old wisdom of how the moon’s phase and position affects the growth of crops.

The theory behind gardening by the moon is that Earth is affected by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. The moon’s pull is greater because of it’s proximity to Earth, even though it’s mass is much smaller. This force affects the rising and falling of the tides, air currents on earth and the occurrence of thunderstorms. It is greatest when at Full Moon and New Moon phase. Interestingly, the water content of the earth follows the same tide cycle as the major bodies of water on earth. More water in the soil means seeds sprout and grow better, with a stronger start. So, it makes sense to follow the moon for key planting times. Direct experience over the last several years planting my garden confirms that this works. Last year I purposefully planted a few seeds on days that were considered poor for planting and while the plants did grow, the yield from these plants ranged from bleak to nothing at all.

Ute York, in her book “Living by the Moon” says:

“The old-time gardeners say, “With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales. ” When the sap in the plants rise, the force first goes into the growth above ground. Thus, you should do all activities with plants that bear fruit above ground during a waxing moon. With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales. Then, the sap primarily goes down toward the roots. Thus, the waning moon is a good time for pruning, multiplying, fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and controlling parasites and weeds”
“Living by the Moon”, by Ute York. Bluestar Communications. Woodside, CA 1997

Now you know the method to my gardening madness. Below is my planting plan for the next two months. Succession planting of single-harvest items will keep your fridge or root cellar stocked as long as possible. I always plant garlic, carrots, celery, parsnips and onion sets in approximately two week intervals, Leafy greens in 3-4 week intervals. This staggers your harvest, and extends the life of those crops. Once these veggies get growing, we rarely have to purchase from the grocery store, and we get to eat organic produce for pennies. Another bonus is that my daughter will grow up knowing exactly where her food comes from and hopefully have respect for the effort that it takes to grow it! She’s already had a blast helping me plant peas this week!

Garden Planting Schedule Spring 2017

February
2nd & 3rd, & 26th: Sugar Snap Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery
13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 25th: Garlic, Onion, Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Potatoes (not sweet)
16th, 17th & 26th: Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard

March
2nd, 3rd, 29th, 30th: Above Ground Crops, Corn, Lettuce, Peppers, Tomato, Celery
6th, 7th, 25th, 26th: Beans, Cucumber, Summer Squash, Zucchini,
13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 25th, 26th: Root Crops, Onion, Beets, Carrots, Leeks, Radish,
15th & 16th: Leafy Greens, Lettuce, Swiss Chard
25th, 26th: Watermelon, Eggplant, Melon, Strawberries

What garden planting schedule or planning resources have you found useful? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Happy planting!

Below are a few links to products that I’ve used and found to be great gardening tools for very little investment.

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Diapers and Potty TrainingMama

Early Potty Training – Save Money (Over $1300)

Training-Potty

What if I told you I haven’t changed a poopy diaper since my daughter was 4 months old – would you believe me? Well, it’s true! No, I don’t have a full-time nanny to take care of the smelly task for me either. While all my other new-mom friends were lamenting the messy “blow outs” and stinky toddler poo diapers, I just had to laugh. And, I really smiled on the inside when I found out how much i’ve saved without any coupon clipping – over $1300! Want to know my secret? It’s elimination communication, infant or early potty training. It works more like mom & dad are trained to pickup on baby’s cues and react accordingly. We started when Bug was around 3 months old and haven’t looked back.

Infant Potty Training History

Before you think I’m crazy, hear me out. What do you think parents did before disposable diapers? Yes, in the late 1800s to early 1900s there were cloth diapers, but prior to that, and in developing countries still today, families rely on elimination communication or early potty training.
In fact, in the USA in the 1950’s 95% of all children were potty t
rained by 18 months. By the 1980’s about half of all parents used disposable diapers and the number of children were potty trained by 18 months declined to about 50%. Today only approximately 10% of children are potty trained by 18 months.

Benefits of Early Potty Training

  • Few to No Messy Diapers To Clean Up After
  • Reduced Diaper Expenses
  • Gives Your Child Dignity To Not Sit In Their Own Waste & Makes Use of Natural Infant Hygiene
  • No Diaper Rash – Ever! Nope, Not Even A Little Rash
  • Way Healthier For Little Girls, Especially Those Prone To Bladder Infections
  • Babies Are Ready & Eager To Learn, So Why Not Teach Them A Vital Life Skill?
  • Earth Friendly
  • No Need To Rinse Cloth Diapers In The Toilet Prior to Washing
  • Baby Never Gets Used To Sitting In Wet/Dirty Diaper, Making Complete Potty Training A Breeze
  • For Those Who Are Consistent, Full Potty Training Can Be Achieved As Early As 12-20 Months of Age
  • Can Use Elimination Communication Full-time, At Home Only, Or Part Time, As It Fits Your LIfestyle
  • Did I Mention It SAVES BIG $$ On Diaper Expenses!!!

How Elimination Communication Works: It’s Easier Than You Think

  1. It is easiest to start anywhere from 1 week to 3 months after birth, but can begin as late as 16-18 Months.
  2. Spend a few days watching your baby closely for cues prior to going pee or poo, usually they will make a face or a certain sound just prior to relieving themselves. Sometimes they will pause for a few seconds from their activity to eliminate. There is almost always a pattern/habit.
    It can be easier to do with observation a few hours a day with baby naked on a cloth changing pad or blanket with a puppy pee pad underneath. I love this cloth changing pad that a friend gave me as a gift. They are around $15 and I plan to buy a few more when we have kid #2.(Not an affiliate link, just an honest opinion)
  3. After you feel confident you’ve begun to identify your baby’s cues, begin acting on them. The goal is to start teaching your child to make the connection between the physical sensation that precedes elimination and the location where they should eliminate. So, when you notice your baby is about to go, take her/him to an infant potty, the sink, toilet or other receptacle and hold them over it while making a signal noise such as “psssss” or “wissss” or “poop” (we actually used the Super Mario Bros theme song with all high notes changed to “poop” for our little one’s poop cue – gotta keep it fun, LOL)
  4. Continue doing this as consistently as possible and after a few a few days to a few weeks (depending on age when started) your little one will actually begin to wait a few seconds to a minute for your cue.
  5. We replaced the majority of diaper use with training pants. I bought a few different types, some from China with cute animals on the butt, some lightly padded hanes underpants in the smaller sizes, and some Scotty Potty padded underpants. I had to purchase all of them online, since early potty training isn’t very common these days. The Scotty Potty padded pants were our favorite, hands-down. If given a choice, Bug always chooses to wear the Scotty Potty pants too. Though they are made for boys, they have a more absorbent lining and they must be more comfy too.


Voila your little one is virtually trained, or well, actually, you are trained which will help your tot out in the long run and save you from stinky toddler poo messes later on!

Additional Tips (From Experience)

    Consistency is key, but we never stressed over a missed potty. We only used this at home and later on long road trips. When Bug was about 18 months we started bringing her potty out on errands and play dates.

  • You will have people (read: Family) tell you you’re crazy, harming your child, etc. Not true. “Back in the day” this was the primary way things were done. You may also have the old-school relative tell you how their kids were trained when they were 12 months, 10, 9, or even “6 months – what are you waiting for?”. Really you just have to do what is right for you and your child.
  • This is where a steam mop entered my life. It is one of my favorite cleaning tools and will sanitize the floor with no chemicals if your little one has an accident. Read my unpaid review of the Oreck Steam-It Mop here.
  • Afraid of the initial mess? Grab some cloth pre-folds or towels to care your baby around on while you are first learning their cues. Lay the baby on these during tummy time as well. Like I said above, I used a KangaCare Cloth Changing pad and loved it. Throw them in the wash as needed. This will help you to learn to recognize their cues without having to check their diaper.
  • As your baby grows into a toddler, the transition to independent toilet use changes things a bit. Once they begin to walk, I found it useful to reward my daughter with praise and stickers to encourage her. Later as she was even more mobile and really began asserting her independence we started using a chart system. She would go on the potty and then get a star on the whiteboard. Every three stars she would get to play an educational game on my phone or watch a 7 minute video of her favorite show. As a bonus this helped her learn to count to three by the time she was 16 months! The key is to find what interests and motivates your child. We tried a “treasure chest” of new toys, puzzles and books she could choose from, but it wasn’t as strong a motivator for her.
  • Changes in routine for my child always brought about a new challenge. We recently had our backyard landscaped and began playing outside after breakfast every day. I learned that I needed to bring our potty chair outside for a visual reminder, and so that she didn’t feel her outside time was cut short by going inside to potty.

This process isn’t for everyone, and I don’t look down on those who choose to go the new-conventional route of potty training at 3, 4, or even 5 years old. Early potty training is time consuming when you first start out. Some days feel like you hoover over a toilet 50% of the time, especially when they are babies and go more frequently. You tend to watch the clock more closely, 45 min, okay, “let’s try to go potty…again”. When they are toddlers you turn into a broken record “Tell mama when you need to go potty, please”.

All-in-all, I am grateful that we stuck to early potty training. I would rather instill these habits now, than when I am dealing with a stronger-willed threenager with more deeply ingrained diaper habits. On the upside, our 20-month old has learned to count to 12, can verbally communicate when she needs to go potty and wears a look of pride when she accomplishes her goal of making it through the day without an accident.

Bonus: We’ve also saved nearly 75% what a traditional household spends on diapers in the first two years (or over $1300). According to Jessie’s calculations from MoolaSavingMom.com the average family buys about 175 Jumbo packs worth of diapers in the first two years, and at an average of $10 per pack, that’s $1750 in diapers alone! Let’s be honest, when it comes to raising kids, we could all use a few extra bucks in our pocket.Save-Money-Early-Potty-Training

What are your experiences with potty training? If you had another baby on the way would you consider early potty training, or elimination communication?

Here are quick links to check out our favorite training pants:

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Mama

My Prayer For Those Fighting Addiction

sunrise-light-prayer

I spent last half of the past year trying to figure out how to best reconnect and help someone very dear to me who has an addiction problem. After only a very superficial small success with reconnecting, I began to wonder how many others have similar experiences with a friend, Aunt, Uncle, Sister, Brother, Child or Parent. The feeling of not being able to do anything to help a loved one to break the cycle of addiction and self destruction can be heartbreaking. Heading into the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you how I maintain hope through prayer for those fighting addiction.

The holiday season can be particularly hard for those who are battling with an addiction problem. Often family ties that are strained or severed, due to the erratic and irrational behavior caused by the addiction, are particularly difficult to reckon with during a time of year that is about friends and family and sharing how much you care. There is a tendency for the addict to maintain a facade, to constantly lie or to just disappear, to avoid the pressure of their family’s expectations.

Addiction is something nobody likes to talk about; Not the addict, not the family, nor friends, nor children who are affected by the addict’s behavior. But the hard truth is nearly everyone has at least one family member or friend who has an addiction problem.

Now, I would describe myself as more spiritual than religious. Yet, when I lay my head on my pillow at night and when I wake each morning I literally recount the things that I am grateful for and then I say a prayer for the people I know who are afflicted by addiction. I know how helpless it can feel to watch people you love continue to make horrible choices. For me, this small daily act provides hope. Which is why I wanted to share this prayer with you.

My prayer for those fighting addiction:

  • I pray that you find inner peace; That you realize what truly matters in life and that you focus your actions around this.
  • I pray that you open your heart to a higher power, and accept the strength which comes through that relationship.
  • I pray that rather than a foundation of sand, you use the strength from that newfound relationship to rebuild your life on a rock. An immovable, solid foundation that will outlast the turbulence and turmoil, the cravings and the loneliness, and will provide you with the basis for lasting inner peace.
  • I pray that from that rock you find your tribe; your extended family of people who really do want to see you succeed, not just in on the surface but in living an abundant life that truly matters.
  • I pray that you help yourself decide to own your current situation and absolve yourself of all influences that helped enable you to arrive and stay in your present situation.
  • I pray that from your newfound family you find strength to engage your willpower to leave your past connections in the past.
  • I pray that you know that I am here to listen to you when you need to talk.
  • I pray that you know that I will help support you along your difficult journey.
  • I also pray that you know that I will not enable you to hide from your demons nor will I enable you to continue down a destructive path.
  • I pray that you are able to return to a life where you know that you deserve the love that is bestowed upon you. And where you love and respect yourself enough to not take your life for granted any longer.

Prayer Transforms and Heals

Research has proven the influential power of positive intention, positive thinking and positive prayer. One of my favorite studies on this was done by Dr. Masaru Emoto, from which he produced a free ebook for children.

The study is a demonstration of the effects of thought, words, prayer and music on energy. Since everything is made of energy, Dr. Emoto directed specific thoughts to water and froze it, which very apparently affected the patterns in which ice crystals formed on freezing water. In the same wayt, a prayer for those fighting addiction is a form of positive energy or intentions. So, even though you may not be able to do something for your loved one that produces immediate and tangible results, your prayer and positive thoughts are as important as ever before.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niebuhr

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Dessert

Fall Caramel Apple Pie – Yum!

apples-caramel-apple-pie

What do you do when a friend gives you two grocery bags full of the best little apples? You make a fall apple pie of course! But not just any apple pie. Today we are making the best Caramel Apple Pie you’ve ever tasted. Yum!

Fall Caramel Apple Pie
Fall Caramel Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

1 Pie Crust (boxed, Ice Water or Granola)

Pie Filling

  • 5-6 Large Apples or 10-12 Small Apples
  • 1.5 TBS Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger (optional)
  • Pinch of Cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 C Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • 2 TBS Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 tsp + Pinch More Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Pecans, Chopped

Caramel Topping

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

About 8 hours before making your pie, open a can of sweetened condensed milk, pour about 2/3 of the can into a pint sized mason jar and seal the lid. Place in crock pot full of water (covering the mason jar by about an inch) and set to low for about 8 hours. Place remaining sweetened condensed milk in a ziplock bag in the fridge.

Prepare your pie crust. Take apple coring tool and core washed apples. Slice in half and then in rings about 1/4” thick. As you work, place sliced apples in a bowl of cold water with juice of 1/2 lemon to prevent browning.

Once finished slicing apples, drain the water from your bowl and dry apple slices on a tea towel or paper towels. Place back in dry bowl. Add pie filling spices and brown sugar and mix well. Next, arrange apples slices in pie pan on top of crust.

Add several thin tabs of butter on top of apples.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Now we will make the streusel topping. Mix brown sugar, flour, nuts and cinnamon together with a fork. Then add in melted butter. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over top of the apples.


Bake at 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Use a pie ring or foil to cover the edges of the pie crust after the first 10 minutes of baking. After baking time is complete, remove from oven.
Dulce De Leche Apple Pie
Caramel Apple Pie

Allow to cool completely. Now, take your caramel topping from the crock pot and pour into a small bowl. Mix in the remaining sweetened condensed milk from the fridge. Use a whisk and mix well until it is smooth. Drizzle this over top of the Apple Pie. Slice and enjoy a bite of homemade caramel apple pie goodness.

I think the caramel topping is more of a dulce de leche flavor, which works really well for a Caramel Apple Pie and any leftover can be put on the scoop of vanilla ice cream that goes with your pie. Yum! If you still have leftover caramel topping, put it back in a mason jar, seal and store in the fridge. It will keep for about 5-7 days.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Ice Water Pie Crust

1 Cup Flour
1 Stick Butter, Frozen and Cubed
1-2 TBS Ice Water

Mix in food processor until small beads of dough form, give a few pulses more. Put dough on floured surface, roll to just large enough to cover pie pan. Try not to handle dough more than necessary to avoid transferring heat from hands to dough.

Tip: If your pie turns out “soupy”, next time either dry the apples more thoroughly or add in a tablespoon of Corn Starch (non-gmo of course!) to the apple filling spice mix.

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Mama

Cure A Cold Fast (In 1 Day)

cure-a-cold-fast

Getting sick sucks. It sucks even harder when you have a toddler who is all up in your face all day long. You just want to keep your germs to yourself and curl up on the couch with your Kleenex box and jug of water. So, you give in and put in the Frozen dvd and hope that buys you an hour and a half of peace. Your little one is still right there comforting you, jumping on your head and stomach, knocking over your glass of water and trying to get you to play! Quick, you need to cure a cold fast.

Well that is how I spent last Saturday. Luckily I don’t get sick often anymore. In fact, last time i was sick was over 3.5 years ago. Being sick is a good reminder to be grateful for our good health, as it is one of the easiest things to take for granted. After all morning of Bug dancing on me and begging for my attention, I relented and turned on a movie in the afternoon. The next day I felt 99% better and I wanted to share my go to routine for the times when someone in our house gets sick with the cold or the flu. It has never failed to return us to good health quickly. Here is how we cure a cold fast.

Note: I am not a doctor, nor am I posing as one. See my full disclaimer at the bottom of this article. I recommend a consult with your doctor if you are taking certain prescription medications where contraindications may occur with certain foods.

Cure A Cold Fast

  1. Sinus Wash, 3-4 times during the day, using distilled water and sterile buffered solution
  2. Chicken Noodle Soup with Cayenne pepper, as hot as you can stand for lunch and dinner
  3. Crush a clove of garlic between two teaspoons, add honey to cover the garlic and gulp it down (take my husband’s hard learned lesson and do not chew). Do this 2-3 times
  4. Drink lots of filtered water (more than 8, 8oz glasses), add 1 TBS of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar per 16oz
  5. Gargle with warm salt water
  6. Do not eat any sugar, or refined foods (except noodles in the soup)
  7. Eliminate dairy from your diet for at least a week
  8. Get as much extra sleep as possible (Queue the laughter, no but seriously, its an important one)

You Want Me To Do What?! Here Is Why:

I want you to cure a cold fast! Your nose may feel like a leaky faucet, but your sinuses are likely getting gunked up with goo that could lead to infection or prolonged illness. Sinus wash can be found at your local pharmacy, usually on the cold remedy isle. In my non-professional opinion, this is really the only cold remedy that is worth buying. There are many brands, but Neti Pot is the best known. I have used several brands and they all seem to work the same, but Neti Pot only has one ingredient, which is nice. Make sure you use Distilled water. These washes work by rinsing your sinuses with a saline solution, which works to dissolve mucus and reduce inflammation. It’s like your mama’s remedy for sore throat “gargle with salt water”, but for your sinus cavity.

There is something special about chicken noodle soup when you are sick. I prefer a homemade bone broth soup, but lets face it we don’t always have that sitting in our freezer. Store bought soup still does the trick. Add in some cayenne pepper and you amp up the healing power tremendously. According to traditional Chinese Medicine, Cayenne pepper targets the spleen, stomach, lungs, and large intestine and moves qi, dispels cold, warms the middle and lungs. It is known for thinning mucus which reduces the symptoms of the cold as well. There are contraindications for using cayenne pepper, so be sure to look into those if you are taking other medications, like blood thinners or aspirin to name a few. I also understand that it shouldn’t be given to children under 2 years old, not sure what kid would actually eat anything with cayenne pepper in it, but thought it was worth mentioning.

Cure A Cold Fast with Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

Garlic has allicin which has been used for centuries and a natural antiviral and anti-fungal. The clove must be crushed and allowed to sit for about 5 minutes to fully activate the allicin compound. Honey, specifically raw honey, also has antiviral properties. Combine them so that you can swallow the garlic without gagging. Yes, you’ll smell like a pasta factory for a few days, but there are worse things to smell like… Garlic also acts as a blood thinner, and honey shouldn’t be given to infants under 1 year of age.

Apple Cider Vinegar that is unprocessed and unfiltered has the “mother” intact and is beneficial to your gut’s good bacteria. Add a bit to your water and it actually helps to alkalize your body. Most of us eat processed foods and have habits that make our bodies more acidic than they should be, which weakens our immune response. As acidic as this vinegar tastes, the effect once consumed is alkalizing.

Sugar is inflammatory, which provokes an immune system response, and if your body is already busy trying to attack the cold, you don’t want to distract your immune system with any extra enemies. Eliminate the sugar. And the processed foods. Yes, that includes the sugar drinks, including Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, etc.

Dairy is also an inflammatory, and mucus multiplying food. Eliminate it, at least while you are sick and in the few days following your recovery.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but sleep is essential to recovery. Us mamas rarely get the sleep we need when we aren’t sick. “How am I going to get extra sleep”, you ask? Tell you husband or SO that weekend plans are off and he’s on full-time kid duty. Phone a friend if you have to, and bribe them to entertain your little one for a few hours while you get some sleep. Nap when they nap and go to bed early.

I know it seems like a lot of torturous things to do when you don’t feel like doing anything at all, but to cure a cold fast, I haven’t found anything better. I promise that our family uses this every time we get hit with the cold or flu and we are back on our feet in no time. So, toughen up buttercup! Bite the bullet! And all those fun phrases of encouragement. A fast cold remedy is at your fingertips.

It’s your health, take care of it, because you are worth it. I wish you the speediest recovery.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or registered nutritionist. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian.

This is merely an opinion blog. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of a laymen individual. The research and information covered in this blog is open to public domain for discussion and in no way breaches or breaks the boundaries of the law in any state of the the United States of America where I live. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.

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DIYFun and Games

DIY Bubbles Recipe – Giant Bubbles

giant-bubble-solution-diy-3

Bubbles bubbles in the air, bubbles bubbles everywhere! Who doesn’t love to play with bubbles!? Small bubbles, giant bubbles, double-bubbles, bubbles that you can catch and bubbles that you can race. Bubbles are a great sensory science play opportunity, as well as an awesome excuse to linger outside and soak up this beautiful Fall weather we’re experiencing in the southwest. While playing one day, I noticed that our bubbles all came from China or Mexico which made me a little wary of the ingredients. Plus, bubble soap is expensive when you look at the per ounce price. This set me on a mission to make my own – DIY Bubbles Recipe. I wanted a strong solution that we could use for blowing giant bubbles and for having bubble races.

Giant Bubble String Wand DIY
Giant Bubble String Wand DIY

After testing many recipes I found online, (and suffering serious dry hands from a few bad recipes) here is the DIY bubbles recipe that I ended up making. I absolutely love it:

DIY Bubbles Recipe

  • 3 Cups Distilled Water
  • 1/2 Cup Blue Ultra Dawn
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar (or Karo Syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp Glycerin (optional)

Use a wire whisk to mix all ingredients slowly. Take care not to form too much foam or bubbles on the surface. Carefully pour into a shallow pan, (i used an aluminum disposable pan) and bust out the giant bubble blowers! Voila, awesome GREEN bubbles. We call them hulk bubbles, or if you’re Irish: lucky leprechaun bubbles. If foamy bubbles form in the pan from pouring, allow them to settle/pop. Bubbles on the surface will steal the bubble fluid from your wand as you lift it from the solution.

Fun Bubble Play Ideas:

  • Blow giant bubbles with wands created from wire hangers
  • Create a string bubble wand with two straws, a needle and a piece of yarn. Thread the yarn onto the needle, then push the needle through one end of each straw. Then tie a knot to form a loop. Hold the straws and dip the string completely into the solution, hold the straws apart and drag through the air to create a bubble, bring straws together to close the bubble.
  • Blow several bubbles and have your child pick one; using their breath to move the bubble, race the bubbles across a designated finish line, first one there without popping wins!
  • Catch a bubble without popping it, sometimes you can bounce them off your hand
  • Have your little one count how many bubbles they can pop before they hit the ground
  • Challenge your little ones to pop bubbles only with their right foot, left foot, pinky finger or their nose! (This makes for fun photo opportunities)
  • Take a minute to explain to an older child why bubbles float when your breath is warmer than the outside air (warmer air rises). Have them experiment by holding an ice cube in their mouth while blowing bubbles and note the change in speed at which the bubble rises or falls.

A few notes:

  • Glycerin can be found at the pharmacy first aid section or sometimes in the baking isle of the grocery store
  • I used agave nectar because it was what i had on hand, but any sugar syrup should do. Karo Syrup is cheap and effective
  • The bubbles perform better a day or two after mixing them up. Leave them out overnight and have fun with them in the morning
  • This solution works well in dry weather
  • This solution will leave your floors sticky, best used outside in grass or dirt
  • What is your favorite bubble recipe? If you try this DIY Bubble Recipe, please come back and let me know how it worked for you!

    Bubbles Sensory Play
    Bubbles Sensory Play

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Mama

Stop Toddler Hair Pulling & Eating

Stop-Toddler-Hair-Pulling-Eating

The day I discovered my little girl was pulling and eating her hair I was horrified. Toddler hair pulling & eating can turn into a very medically concerning problem if continued for long periods of time. In some cases it can require to surgery to remove accumulated hairballs. Not to mention temporary baldness.

Noooo, Not The Hair!

I opened the car door to get her out of her car seat, and there she was with two fists full of beautiful blond hair, eagerly trying to gulp down a several strands she had in her mouth. Quickly, I pulled the hair from her mouth. Then took a deep breath as I wrestled to remove the hair from her tiny fists. Another deep breath and I looked directly into her eyes and calmly said, “We don’t eat hair. It can make you very sick. You won’t be able to poop if you keep eating your hair. Not being able to poop is very painful. If you continue to eat hair and you can’t poop, you won’t be able to eat the foods you like: cheese, yogurt, bananas, dessert. Promise mama you wont eat any more hair, okay?” To which she replied “na poop?” While looking at me skeptically.

Looking at her later that afternoon, after the shock that my toddler eats hair had worn down, I started to suspect that she’d been pulling hair out for a little while. She used to have some pretty curls coming in at the back, bottom of her head. Now there are only two wisps left, one on each side behind her ears.

Queue Manic Mama Mode

Naturally, that night I didn’t sleep, I lay awake listening for the sound of her pulling and eating hair in the next room. What that sounds like, I am not sure – but it kept me awake all night. More importantly, what would possess someone to want to eat hair? Yuck! This led me to think about when and why she pulls her hair.

She always loved to play with my hair when she was nursing. I often wore pigtail braids to keep my hair out of the way when she was an infant. She liked to play with the ends of my pigtails. Now that she is older, she plays with my hair if I carry her in my arms when we’re out and about. She only plays with her own hair in the car and when she is falling asleep, which tells me that boredom and self-soothing factors are at play. Her hair isn’t long enough for me to pull back in a tie. Since I was awake anyway, I decided to do some informal research.

Toddler Hair Pulled Up
Toddler Hair Pulled Up

Stop Toddler Hair Pulling & Eating

After an all-nighter Googling what should be done to refocus and undo the toddler hair pulling & eating habit, I came across a several recommendations. Most common suggestion said to ignore the behavior if it happened at times when the child was trying to get attention. Some said redirect by giving the child something tactile to play with. A few articles I read said that it could be a form of pica, if on going, and to ensure the child is getting sufficient iron in their diet. By far the best suggestion for us was posted on the forum netmums.com: add mittens to her wardrobe.
Note: Statements on this blog should not be taken as medical advice. I am not a doctor and do not purport to have any schooling or licensing as such. If you suspect your child has pica or they are a chronic consumer of hair, I encourage you to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Since I believe she pulls hair to self-soothe at night and occasionally due to boredom, I decided to sew mittens onto her pajamas. The next day we played with her socks as puppets on our hands and laughed quite a bit.

Later that night we tried on her new “mitty pjs” and made a big deal of how fun they were. We played sock puppets with them for a few minutes and then finished our bedtime routine as normal. Success! The next morning there was no more hair on her mattress or on the mittens.

Mitten Pjs
Mitten PJs in Action

The car boredom wasn’t as easy to cure, we bring lots of books and her water sippycup along with us everywhere we go. In addition, we sing songs, play peekaboo at stoplights and talk about things we see on the road. If I hear her being too quite I sneak a peek in the mirror to make sure she isn’t snacking on her hair.

I’ve since sewed some silky mittens to additional pajamas. The finished prodcut isn’t too pretty, but it does the job intended. Here is the pattern I used for my 1 1/2 year old who wears 24 month PJs.

Cut two pieces of silky, breathable fabric, fold over the flat side on each piece, pin and sew down. Next, pin the right sides of the fabric (the smoothest side you want to face out) together so that you are looking at the wrong sides of the fabric. Then sew together with 1/2″ seam allowance. Finally, sew mitten to pajama sleeve, stretching the sleeve a bit as you go. Repeat for the other sleeve. For safety, I wouldn’t use these mitten pjs on a child less than 1.5 years.


Have you had any success with other methods to stop the toddler hair pulling & eating habit? If so, I’d love to hear about it, please share in the comments below!

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DIYDress Up

DIY Halloween Costumes Tinkerbell Under $10

no-sew-tinkerbell-costume-diy

Want a cheap, easy, no-sew costume for your little girl this year? Think Tink! This is costume is great for Halloween and/or to add to her dress up wardrobe. For bonus “awesome mama points” you can make her favorite doll a matching Tinkerbell dress too! Since Halloween is Hubby’s favorite holiday, I really wanted to make our Halloween costumes this year. Something simple, easy and cheap. After some looking around online for inspiration i found a new-sew Tutu dress that could easily transform my little pixie into Tinkerbell – just add wings. As luck would have it I already bought a set of purple wings at the dollar store for a photo session that has yet to happen. I also had a 20 Yard spool of light purple 1.5” ribbon I bought a year ago on clearance. DIY Halloween Costumes Tinkerbell under $10! Looks like I am getting out easy this year! Hubby was good with dressing as Captain Hook (what guy wouldn’t want to brandish a sword and hook on Halloween?!?). I had a dress that was in my pile of clothes to donate that was perfect match for Wendy, it just needed a bit of blue dye. DYI Halloween costumes here we go!

DIY Halloween Costumes : Tinkerbell

I found the photo of this Etsy listing posted on Pinterest and followed the link but the seller didn’t have the dress available any longer. It looked easy enough to attempt to make on my own and I had made no-sew tutus in the past so this should be simple.

Tinkerbell Costume Inspiration
Tinkerbell Costume Inspiration

Tinkerbell Costume
Here is the list of supplies and steps to making an adorable Tinkerbell Dress for your little one:

  • 4-5 spools of 6” wide tulle in bright green (I used 60 yards in total)
  • 3/4” no-roll elastic
  • Min 10 yards of 1” -1.5” ribbon
  • Fairy Wings (found mine for $1 at the Dollar Store)
  • Circular container to use as dress form
  • Dryer sheets for removing static from tulle

Grab your fabric tape measure or simply a string and ruler or standard tape measure. Now measure around your child’s chest, right under their armpits. Subract 1.5”. Cut elastic to this size. Next, glue (or sew) the elastic ends together by overlapping about 1/2”, to form a circle.

Tinkerbell costume elastic band
Tinkerbell costume elastic band

Find a somewhat round container to stretch your elastic around. This will be your dress form. I used a 1 gallon plastic water jug.

Tinkerbell Costume Dress Form
Tinkerbell Costume Dress Form

Measure your child for the length of the dress. Start at their armpit and stop just below the knee or mid-calf. Take that measurement and add 4 inches. Example: Bug’s length measurement was 18” + 4” is 22”.

Find a photo frame or cut a piece of cardboard to that length measurement. Grab your tulle and start at one end of the frame or board and wrap the tulle around it until you run out (don’t pull the tulle too tight or your measurement will be off). Example: I had a photo frame that was 22” across and the frame was relatively thin. Once you’ve wrapped your spool of tulle, cut only one end of the tulle, so that your strips are double the length measurement.


Fold the tulle in half length-wise. In this example the strip would now be 3″x44. Now, cut from the creased corner up at a 45 degree angle, repeat on the other end (effectively cutting off triangles from both ends). This will give it a pixie look, with pointed tips.


Now, take one strip at a time, fold in half width-wise and grab the middle of the tule. Grab a dryer sheet and run it over the strip of tulle once or twice to remove the static if necessary. Check to make sure the ends are even. Next push the middle of the tulle upwards between the elastic band and the dress form. You should have a loop sticking up out of the top of your elastic band.
Note: it is important to push middle of the tulle UPWARD through the elastic band and not from the top down. I made this mistake and the knots were waaaaayyy to poofy to wrap with ribbon, which forced me to undo all of my knot work and start over, oy!


Take the two loose ends of tulle and shove them through the loop and pull down/tight. Make sure that you don’t pull so tight that your elastic band curls up. Repeat with all the tulle strips. Periodically you will need to squish (technical term) the knotted tulle together along the elastic band, so that the band is covered well by the tulle.


Once you’ve looped tulle all the way around your elastic band, you will grab your ribbon. Choose a starting point and push your ribbon up between the elastic and your dress form, between two strips of tulle. Leave a few inches hanging out so you can tie it when you are done. Wrap the ribbon around every two knots. Take care to make sure the ribbon doesn’t bunch up at the top. Also tuck in the ribbon for the smallest footprint at the bottom of the elastic, this will ensure your dress doesn’t have too big of gaps between the tulle. Continue until you’ve wrapped the entire band. Here is a quick, thorough video tutorial by Sandy Bell on how to wrap the ribbon.


Grab your wings. Cut off any unnecessary elastic (mine came with elastic loops to put your arms through). Take the ends of the ribbon that you used to wrap the elastic band with and singe the ends with a lighter briefly to keep them from fraying. Then wrap them around the center of the wings, securing them to the top of the dress.Tie a knot in the ribbon.

Finally, we will shape the dress. Tinkerbell’s dress was slightly shorter on the sides than in the front and back. Looking on from the front, Start at the right side and trim so that it is a few inches higher than the lowest point on the front middle of the dress. Repeat with the left side.

Once the dress is on your little one, then use the same ribbon to tie around their waist, finishing in the back with a bow.

Step back and take in all the cuteness you can stand. DIY Halloween Costumes Tinkerbell for under $10, done!


What DIY Halloween Costumes have you made? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Tips:

  • Shop around for the rolls of tulle.The first store I went to sold the same tulle for $4 a roll (JoAnn’s). I found some at Michael’s for $2 and at at Walmart for $1.79 . Walmart’s rolls of tulle were 2.5 times as long as the more expensive rolls.
  • Add a wand to your child’s costume. Hobby Lobby carries wooden dowels with various toppers attached for $1.79. Grab one and wrap it in the same ribbon you used on her dress. Cover the topper in glitter puff paint (the glitter won’t wear off that way). Or buy a small piece of dowel and create two small pom poms to affix to the ends (less likely to injure self or others with pom poms on either end).
  • Create two small pom poms from leftover tulle and affix them to your little one’s shoes.
  • Glitter tulle is evil. it sheds everywhere, and for the next 6+ months of your life people may think you moonlight as a stripper, because you’ll have that much glitter on you everywhere you go. But hey, what is a pixie without her fairy dust?
  • If you do go with Glitter tulle, make your project outside, away from your doors and major traffic paths. Better yet, go to the park and make this. Share the glitter love with fellow park goers and shake it out on the grass.

Parting thought from a dear friend: glitter is the herpes of the arts & crafts world. Eeeewwww!

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MamaNew Mama 411

Mama Product Reviews: Oreck Steam-It Mop

Oreck-Steam-It-Mop
9tech score

This review was not paid for and the product described was not discounted in exchange for my review. All opinions are in-fact 100% my own.

I know, cleaning – blech, boring. But with a new baby in our home, a good steam cleaner was one of my most important purchases. What better way to sanitize than to steam clean! With steam there are no chemical vapors or residue. With my baby’s face down on the floor during tummy time, eventually crawling and then rolling around trying to eat things off the kitchen tile, I wanted to make sure all my floors were as clean as possible.

I borrowed my sisters SHARK steam mop, which worked well but I found the head of the mop was bulky and difficult to maneuver. I researched dozens of steam cleaners. I had a budget of $100. I read Amazon reviews, review websites, I talked with friends and family.

I finally decided on the Oreck Steam-It mop. Here is why:

  1. It sanitizes hard surfaces in 5 seconds
  2. Pressurized dry steam means that it dries quickly
  3. 25 Foot cord (so you don’t have to fumble with those infant outlet protectors too often)
  4. At only 10 Lbs it is pretty light
  5. Several attachments come with the Oreck Steam-It (so it can be used for spot cleaning, window washing and grout) including a mini funnel for filling up the reservoir
  6. You can use it with the bonnets that come with the package or with small towels

Steam Mop In Action

Since purchasing I’ve used the mop at least one time per week on all tile in my house and occasionally to spot clean after meals and to sanitize my carpet. I loooooove how clean it leaves my tile; no residue and dry within seconds. Lets give this a moment of thought: every time you mop with a sponge you are spreading around bacteria and whatever else has been growing on that sponge since your last mop job – eeeeewwww! Clearly, you can see why this is such an important item to add to your cleaning arsenal. Especially when you have chickens who free range and leave little bird bombs all over your patio, dogs who leave presents on the lawn, and little feet that don’t mind where they walk…well, you get the idea.

I recently tried the grout attachment. While the steam rocks for a quick to like-new finish, the bristles don’t really stand up to much scrubbing (maybe that’s why they sent three replacement grout bristles with the mop). The steam followed by a rag underfoot along the grout lines cleans just as well if not better than scrubbing with the bristles anyhow.


Window cleaning and shower cleaning is easy, and with the tank 1/2 full, it is light enough to lift up and use on these surfaces. I’ve even cleaned my bathroom mirrors with the window attachment. Did I mention that I loooooooove this Oreck Steam-It mop? Cleaning attachments are easy to change with the press of a button.

The Oreck Steam-It mop does fall victim to hard water, so, it is best to use distilled water to avoid having hard water build up inside the unit. It also needs to be cleaned every 10-15 uses or so. This is a simple 5 minute task, which only requires the cleaning bristle and wire that comes with the mop. Admittedly, I’ve only cleaned it twice since I bought it over a year ago, and it still runs great.

Pros:

  • Cleans awesome with no residue and very little effort
  • No chemicals needed to sanitize
  • No more sponges! Yes!
  • Dry surface in seconds because it produces a pressurized dry steam
  • Long cord, minimizing need to fumble with baby outlet covers
  • Light enough to clean shower tile, mirrors, windows (about 10 Lbs)
  • Quick to heat up and produce steam
  • Amount of steam produced is easy to adjust while operating the mop
  • No waste: wash the bonnets or towels in the washing machine

Cons:

  • When using the main cleaning head on the mop, it squeaks and creaks. Plastic parts don’t sound durable, but have stood up to regular use so far
  • Grout Bristles should be made stronger to stand up to more scrubbing
  • Mop should be cleaned internally every 10-15 uses (for $100 bucks there were no self-cleaning units)

Oreck Steam-It Mop Attachments Bonnets
Attachments & Bonnets

Warning: Hot steam needs to be used with caution as it will burn if it contacts your skin. Do not use around toddlers and babies.

Bug likes to help me mop, but she knows “hot” means it’s gonna hurt if she touches it. So whenever I get the mop out she gets excited to see the steam, but she is always cautious not to get too close.

I bought the Oreck Steam-It mop over a year ago from Discount Cleaning Products website (not an affiliate link). A coupon code I found online saved me 20%. I searched recently and couldn’t find any valid coupon codes – Bummer. Their price ($115) is still the cheapest I could find on a quick search. Shipping was fast and packaging was adequate.

If you’re an Amazon Prime junkie like me, you can get is with two-day shipping at a very low price here as well:

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