Friday, July 5, 2013

Addy is Two! Oh, and hello again...

Wow, I can't believe how long it has been since I've done a real post.  It has only taken me until Will is 8 months old?  I can't decide if that is sad, or if I should be proud of myself for finally doing it.  Perhaps I will settle on the latter, leave how us moms never seem to take time for ourselves for another post, and just get to the fun part.

Little miss Adalyn turned two in May.  I just can't believe that we are here already.  This birthday party was so much different from her first - she was way more into the party, the games, the presents, and definitely the cake and ice cream.  For the week before the party, if you asked her what she wanted for her birthday, all she would answer was cake and ice cream.  She clearly is my daughter after all!

And since her latest obsession has been with Elmo and Sesame Street, we went with that as a theme for her party.  I found this fantastic blog post from Annie's Eats and got to work using her ideas. 

Matt found this Cookie Monster cake pan in his parents' basement from when he and his sister were kids.  I was soooo nervous about making the cake, but it really didn't end up being that hard, and I thought it looked great.
I did a little timeline of Addy from her three month pictures to her most recent two year shots.  Ah how time flies...
Straight from the blog post, we snacked on goldfish from Dorothy.  Above this table I hung printed pictures of each of the main Sesame Street characters from the chandelier along with an "Adalyn Street" street sign.  I made all the signs and decorations and just printed them out at home, backing them with bright colored card stock that I had from my scrapbooking days.
Instead of buying more expensive (and more flimsy) Sesame Street themed ones, I hot glued some eyes and noses on red plates.
And of course C is for Cookie.  The lunchbox was actually mine from preschool!
I lucked out and found awesome Sesame Street activity books and flashcards at the dollar store to give as favors (See Something Fun? Take One Before You Run!).  To save a few bucks, I separated a bigger pack of the good washable Crayola crayons into baggies with four crayons each.  I figured if it were me, I'd rather my kid get a few good crayons rather than a whole pack of cheap ones that might stain her clothes.
And little miss enjoying that cake!  The dollar store banner in the background had balloons in the middle originally, but I cut that Elmo head off the box of cereal that we had in the cupboard and glued it over the balloons.  Voila, Elmo banner.
We had stations set up outside for the kids to play - Golf with Grover (found a cheap set of platic golf clubs at Marcs for $3), Trash Toss with Oscar (a small borrowed trashcan and a pile of crumpled up newspaper to toss in), and Bubbles with Big Bird, which was Addy's favorite.  I also did a Count with the Count board like she had in the post as well.
Overall, it was a great success and I was so happy that I took the time to do the Sesame Street stuff.  Addy really enjoyed it and I think all the kids had a good time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Gluten Free Tweeting

For those of you that are interested in the gluten free side of my posts, I am revamping my Twitter account, gfincbus (gluten free in Columbus... I know, so clever). I will keep posting gluten free topics here too when I can, but I think it will be fun to start tweeting out the quickie day-to-day things I'm trying. So join in and follow along in the gluten free fun!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Should Be Napping

Addy is asleep. New baby Will is sleeping downstairs with a full belly, hanging out with daddy. But since I'm laying here wide awake, let's chat about new babies. Does anything really beat new baby snuggles? New baby soft skin? New baby smell - well, you know, the good ones? Seriously, it's baby crack around here, 24 x 7.

I know, there is all that work too. And we are tired. Too tired to sleep sometimes. And then there is recovering from labor. And the labor. But still. When you get that baby crack, those other parts are much easier to handle.

So here's to baby crack. And my supplier, new baby Will.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pinterest Project: Popsicle Matching Game

When I was pregnant with Addy, I remember experiencing that "nesting" energy that a lot of women report having in your third trimester.  You have a lot of anxiety about having the baby, but you are not in control of the situation by any means.  So instead, you take control of whatever you can - and for the first baby, for me this was in the form of suddenly feeling the need to organize, clean, and just generally get ready for the baby.  Put together pack n' plays.  Set up changing stations.  Obsess about onesies.

But for me, the second baby was a little different.  I still felt that same nesting energy, but things were much more ready than the first time.  It didn't take much to get the supplies I needed.  We already had pretty much any clothes, blankets, equipment, etc., that we would need.  I did wash them, but then I was done.

So part of my nesting energy this pregnancy went towards finishing up projects that I had started or bought materials for, and this fun little popsicle matching game for Addy was one of them.  She has been really getting into her colors lately, so I thought this would be another fun way to reinforce the idea.

The project was pretty simple. I cut out a pattern for the popsicle, and then commenced tracing and cutting it out of each color.  I thought I might as well make some extras for gifts this Christmas, and the size/shape that I ended up with allowed me to make four sets out of one standard piece of felt (the kind you find already cut for you at Joann's - I think they were like 33 cents each).

The next step was sewing all the little pouches together.  As you can probably tell from the end result pictured at the top, my sewing is definitely not stellar, but this was good practice in sewing curves.  And I'm guessing that my young recipients won't notice my not-so-smooth turns, either.

The last step was to add the colors and writing to the sticks; one side has a square of the corresponding color and the other side has the actual word.  I bought some popsicle craft sticks at Marc's for less than a buck, which was a good find.  I had to borrow an orange highlighter from my neighbor, but I managed to find some sort of marker or sharpie for every color I needed. 

And that was it!  I cranked out four sets of these in maybe an hour, and if I spent $5 on the materials I would be surprised, so I am calling this a worth while project.  I'm so proud of myself when I actually make something that I see on Pinterest instead of just surfing for another hour and finding more ideas.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Breaking the Breakfast Rut - Baked Oatmeal Cups

I tend to get in breakfast ruts.  Months have gone by in which I have eaten the same thing every day in the morning.  Lately it has been strawberry yogurt with corn chex in it.  I guess I should say corn chex style cereal, since I've been getting it from Aldi's.  Sometimes if we have strawberries or blueberries, those will get tossed in, which is a big treat.  But needless to say, it's been pretty boring.

So I needed some breakfast inspiration and found one on Pinterest - this amazing baked oatmeal.  Of course I had to make it gluten free, but Bob's Red Mill has gluten free rolled oats at Marc's for a decent price, so that part was easy.

I love the fact that you can make different varieties of these in the same batch.  I've done some with chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, blueberries, and combinations of all of those things together.  I've even left some plain and they are still very tasty because of the applesauce and banana in the base recipe.  Addy loves them, and they are a great alternative for toddlers since they can be cut up into pieces and eaten easily without the mess of traditional oatmeal.

Notes about the recipe... I made my version with honey instead of stevia, and it makes waaaay more than a dozen.  I have been getting at least two dozen and usually about 30 or so out of one batch.  They freeze and reheat great, so I haven't minded the large batches at all.  I just pop them in the fridge the night before and then the toaster oven in the morning.

We've had fun using the mini muffin tin too (as seen in the picture above), but it makes them even more snackable which is dangerous (particularly the chocolate chip ones).  I also have found that I like to bake them for longer, usually 40/45 minutes, to get them nice and firm. If you like traditional oatmeal or are planning to put milk over them, the time called for on the recipe is probably right.  I like mine more in the muffin category than in the oatmeal category consistency wise.

So this has all the bases covered - not too complicated, whole foods without much sugar, easy to make, makes a lot and freezes well... definitely something that I will be making for a long time.

And this is my kitchen after getting the first batch in the oven with my 16 month old "helping."
It didn't take too long to throw together, so not too bad of a war zone at all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Update on Mind Organization for Moms and Link to Program Giveaway

I've done a couple posts so far on the Mind Organization for Moms system (M.O.M for short), and I am still a big fan, using it every day.  It's a great way to think of your to-do list in a less intimidating, organized fashion without too much extra work.

This week, April Perry from The Power of Moms (where the M.O.M. program comes from) did a guest post on Simple Mom titled "Eliminating the 'sticky points' of the day."  She does a great job of explaining one of the main ideas behind system that I really love - the context based lists. 

For example, I was at Target last night getting new socks for Addy.  This definitely needed to get done this week; the weather has started cooling down and the girl needs to learn how to wear shoes and socks.  Anyway, I digress.  I looked at the other items on my Errands list, and I remembered I wanted to buy her another green sheet for her new bed.  Booyah, two errands knocked out at one time.

One thing that has changed about how I use the system since my last update is that I've gone paperless with my lists.  I'm now using Astrid, a great little task app, and so far it is working out great.  The fact that I miss being able to physically cross things off on a piece of paper has been overshadowed by always having an up-to-date list wherever I am.  You can access it on your phone, your iPad, or any computer through the web.  And it's free.

Astrid makes it easy to use the context-based lists (as you can see on the left side of the screen shot below - this is actually from my iPad, but looks pretty much the same on my iPhone).  Anything that is on my list for this week gets a due date so it will show up on the top (and also in the My Tasks list). Anything I'm not focusing on this week has no due date and shows up below the line.

Simple Mom and The Power of Moms are giving away 100 free programs to boot, so click over and check it out if you are at all interested in taking some steps to organize your never ending to-do list.

To catch up on my experiences with implementing and using the system, check these out:
  • My initial post about Mind Organization for Moms talking about my experience in learning about the M.O.M. system and what I liked about it.
  • My follow up post talking about a piece of the M.O.M. system, the weekly review.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cloth Wipes - An Update

Back in August, I posted my plan for trying cloth wipes again. Having been a little discouraged by them not working the way I wanted, I had a few more things that I wanted to try to see if it could be a more sustainable process. I am happy to report the end result a success, but I did have a few trials and errors along the way.

I made some wipes out of an old receiving blanket, and I thought they turned out rather well. I don't have a surger, so I just used a zig zag stitch and tried to get as close to the edge of the cloth as possible. It was a great little project to practice sewing a straight line. Here is how they turned out:
And here is what they looked like after they were washed the first time:

Not nearly as neat and tidy anymore! Apparently I didn't get as close to the edges as I really needed, which allowed for some unraveling.  I trimmed them up and they turned out much better after each subsequent wash. So overall, a fine tool for something that is going to wipe up poo. No frills needed, and a little unraveling isn't going to bother me.

However, these wipes have the same problem that my flannel BumGenious ones have - they just don't remove the poo very well. I'm still not 100% sure if it is the wipe or the solution, but tiny pieces/residue just hang onto Addy's skin and won't come off. I end up grabbing a disposable wipe and which finishes up the job in two seconds.

Then I stole some of the thinnest washcloths from our stash of kitchen clean up cloths. Wow, so much better! I absolutely love them, and they work fantastically, usually only requiring two washcloths max, even for the largest of messes.

I also bought two small (I think eight ounce) bottles from Old Time Pottery for $2 each to use for the solution.  They look like a sport bottle that you would drink out of, and are made out of a squeezable plastic.  Having two has been great because by the time I refill one of them, the other one is almost empty, so it gives me time to keep up with making solution.  Yes, I know this is a 5 minute job (max), so it's not hard to keep up with it, but you know how it is - anything that takes effort needs to be as simple as possible or I just do it.  I think each bottle is currently lasting about a week or so.

I've been putting washcloths in an old wipes container and then squeezing some solution on them.  The bottles are small enough to fit in the diaper drawer with the wipes box.  I have stopped folding the washcloths since I end up wadding them up in the box anyway (easier than folding them I think).  It actually ended up looking a lot like Emily's description from Simple Homemade.

So I am happy to be back to using the cloth wipes again - both from a greener living and a practicality perspective.  No more picking poopy wipes out of a diaper for me!