Monday, February 25, 2013

Walking where God leads

Whenever children are involved, it seems there is a lesson to be learned.  There's something God is trying to teach me through the children I am with.

When I remember God is my parent and I am His child, it makes it easy to translate since I am Sam's parent and he is my child.

A month ago I literally laughed out loud when one of these comparisons came so close to home.  I tend to be a worrier and over and over again my husband would tell me, "The birds of the air do not sow or reap and yet your heavenly Father feeds them, are you not much more valuable?"  On this particular day Sam was melting down and I was scrambling to prepare some food for him...and then I yelled said, "Sam, I always feed you.  Why do you still freak out!?"  Seriously!?  I just paraphrased Matthew 6:26 to my one year old without even realizing it, yet I still have trouble trusting the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE for my own needs.

My sister gives a tear-jerking comparison about fearing God here.  Running with abandon sometimes gives me the chills.

Today my toddling son wanted nothing more than to walk up and down the sidewalk on our street.

No wait, he wanted to walk IN the street.  He wanted to chase the leaves that blew off the side walk and pick up rocks he saw in the road.  He settled for the sidewalk as I continued to steer him that way.  He would then begin veering off towards the road again and I would take his head and gently steer him back toward the side walk.  Even though Sam didn't know that the road was dangerous, I knew the street was not a safe place for a toddler to play. 

And isn't it like that with God?  We continually try veering off to the left or the right as a crunchy leaf catches our eye as it blows down the road, but gently God leads us back to where we need to go.  We don't know that the way we want to go is dangerous (well, sometimes we do,) but God knows what's ahead.

What lessons has God taught you through a child?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Our 'Ready to Pop' baby shower for under $100

I had a blast planning my friend's baby shower.  I'm a sucker for a fun theme and really enjoyed thinking up fun ways to incorporate our "pop" theme.  What made the challenge even more fun (and challenging) was having to stick to a budget.  (Unfortunately 'stay-at-home-mom, though having a great benefits package, has pretty poor pay!)

There were two of us giving the baby shower and we each agreed that we could contribute $50 which gave us a grand total of $100.  As far as I know, that's not a huge baby shower budget, but we're thrifty girls.  We'd make it work! 

...and we did!  ...and it was a hit!  ...and I'd like to share it with you!

Here are the basics of a baby shower: 1. guest list 2. venue 3. invites 4. decor 5. games 6. prizes 7. food 8. favors

1.  I left the guest list up to my guest of honor.  Our shower was one of three that were being thrown for her and including the two hosts and guest of honor, the list totaled thirty.  Of the thirty, thirteen ended up coming and it was a great size.  (Obviously this was $0, total-$0)

2.  Because the majority of our guests would be traveling from the same area, we ended up choosing to throw the party at one of the campuses of my friend's church that was close to them.  ($0, total= $0)

3. I put my graphic design skills to good use and designed a postcard invitation that I printed on my home printer.  The postcard included all the important info and barely took any of our funds.  Our guest of honor had a friend hand deliver several of the invites at her church which cut down on the already minimal  postage cost of 32 cents/card (postcard stamps are now 33 cents, by the way!) ($10 for stamps, paper & printing, total=$10)

4.  We tried to think 'sweet & simple' with the decor.  Our plan was to string balloons from the ceiling alternating in yellow and silver/grey, but as with most grand plans, we ran out of time to accomplish that and opted for balloons on the floor, which besides being a tripping-hazard for pregnant ladies, worked out just fine.  My co-host also made an awesome banner that read, "Molly's ready to pop."  It looked awesome above our food table which was draped with a yellow cloth.  Believe it or not, that was it, but it was just enough.  We accomplished our goal of 'sweet & simple.' ($10 for banner making paper and balloons, total=$20)

5.  Baby shower games.  Just reading those words makes some of you cringe!  I was determined to bring games that were fun, easy, and didn't make our guests roll their eyes!  We chose to do 3 games.

The first game (which was really an 'activity') took place when the guests arrived.  There were diapers laid out and sharpies to decorate them for our guest-of-honor to use during those late night diaper changes.  (Our mama brought about 15 from a pack of diapers she'd already received.)  Guests enjoyed being creative and writing funny/clever things on the diapers!

The second game was a twist on a game that is a party favorite among my friends.  It goes by different names--we called it Fish Bowl.  Here's how to play:
Fish Bowl {Baby Edition}
Baby-related words are in "the fish bowl". One team then selects a player to describe each slip in turn, while they guess what the slip says. They receive a point for each slip they get correctly. You cannot skip slips. A timer is set for one minute, at the end, the teams switch. This continues until all the slips have been correctly guessed. Next, the slips are put back in, but this time people can only act it out (not speaking). Finally, they are put back in and the individual trying to give away what they are can only say two words.
The third game was played while guests were eating and socializing.  It was a great way to do another game without making everyone stop and be quiet.  I'll call it, "Diaper Bag Game."  I filled Molly's diaper bag with a bunch of baby things from my own house (nail clippers, rubber duck, Vaseline, diaper, wipes, comb, etc.) and gave each guest 20 seconds to feel around in the bag and try to figure out what the items were.  Then, they were given time to try to write down and remember what was in the bag.  The person who got the most number of items correct wins!  An optional rule (which I put in because sometimes people are VERY competitive) is to award one point for each correct item and subtract one point for each item a guest wrote down that was not in the bag.

Since I used baby items I already owned, diapers Molly had already received, and my own old paper and printer there wasn't any cost for these games. ($0, total=$20)

6. When people hear that there are games at a baby shower, they know to expect prizes too!  Just like our 'sweet & simple' decor, we didn't get crazy with game prizes either (after all, people come to showers to give, not receive.)  We stuck with our pop theme and let winners choose from a bag containing Pop Rocks and Ring Pops.  It seems kind of silly for grown women, but they seemed really nostalgic about Pop Rocks and excited to share their ring pops with their kids at home!  We awarded prizes to each winning team member from "Fish Bowl" and to the top 3 winners of the diaper bag game. ($6, total=$26)

7.  The food at this party was a little more tricky than other parties I've thrown.  Our mama-to-be has Celiac Disease which meant that we could not have any gluten (wheat, oats, & barely) at the party.  Our food included POPCORN (you know, stickin' with the theme), chips and dip, gluten free pretzels, a fruit salad, a veggie tray, and our sweet item was gluten free chocolate chip cookies.  Our mama requested not to have too much sweet stuff at the party, so cookies were a great choice.  Our food was served with yellow napkins and plates.

We had pitchers of water and lemonade to drink.  The yellow lemonade looked great with our yellow and grey color scheme.  Our co-host brought along a stack of clear cups from her house and some forks for the fruit salad. ($52*, total=$78)

8. Every good baby shower is made complete with a cute party favor in which your guest will remember your party!  My co-host and I came up with this cute Blow Pop idea (with the help of Pinterest.)  We made the circles, stamped them with our pregnant lady, added a circle that read, "Molly's Ready to Pop," punched threading holes, and threaded a Blow Pop through the tag.  I was super please with the final result. ($3, total=$81)

There you have it.  A baby shower for under $100 that was super fun to throw and (I hope) also fun to attend!  We had plenty of food, fun, and favors to go around!

I hope you have fun planning your next baby shower! *The price for food will obviously be higher depending on how many guests you have, but keep in mind that people don't come expecting a meal and you have $19 extra dollars in your budget to cover the cost of extra food!

Friday, February 15, 2013

picky eaters

I have a woman-crush on Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  It started back when she was a contestant on Survivor--before she was a cast member of The View.  I thought she was so cool--and I guess I still think she's pretty cool.  When I flipped on the tv and The View co-host was on the screen, I wasn't in a hurry to change channels.  I was even more intrigued when I heard Elisabeth talking with a chef about cooking multiple things to make all her kids happy with their meals.

I have no sources, except the show, to back up what I'm about to share with you.

The chef said that he had a pediatrician once tell him that if a person is not exposed to a food before his or her third birthday, that it is a natural instinct to have a fight or flight reaction and be apprehensive of the food and not be able to eat it.  Whaaa!?  That's crazy, right?  But if that's really true, then we need to start trying more foods.  We try a lot, but still, we've got less than two years to get in the rest!

They also discussed how, if you've missed this window, how to get your kids to eat.  They talked about giving your child the option of eating the (one) good meal that you've cooked, or to not eat.  All, except Whoopi, agreed that eventually the child will come back to the table and try it when he or she gets hungry enough.

So what do you think!?  Have you found this to be true with your kids?  Do you cook multiple meals for your kids?  Are you a picky eater?

This is my pin board of kids food:

Do you have a pin board to share?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spraying, Storing & Stripping Cloth Diapers

 I've had several people ask me about cloth diapering because, for various reasons (money, the environment, disposable diaper allergies,) they are considering using cloth diapers too!  This, of course, thrills my heart even though, if I'm being truthful, my husband and I usually take the weekends 'off' and rarely travel with cloth. 

Here's some FAQs I get from friends about cloth diapers:

1.  Why do you use cloth diapers?
I do it to save money.  "But cloth diapers are expensive." I received most of my stash during baby showers, so the start up cost was very inexpensive for me.

2.  Do you use diaper pins and everything?
No.  You can, but I don't.  Cloth diapers have come a long way over the years.  To check out my detailed explanation of all the different types, check out this post.  If you want to know the specifics of what gDiaper supplies I use, check out this post.

3. Is it gross?
Sometimes, but not often.  It's more gross when my son poops in the bathtub.

4. Is it a lot of work?
It's work, but not a lot of work.  Obviously you can't just trash the diapers and you have to wash them.  But those things are not really that difficult once you get the hang of things.

5. What do you do with the poop?
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, his poop is water soluble.  There is no pre-cleaning needed.  The diaper just goes into the pail until it's time to do a load of laundry.

before diaper sprayer
after diaper sprayer
Once your baby starts solids (or if he's using formula), the poop changes.  Something that has been GREAT for our family is having a diaper sprayer.  We have this one.  It was another gift (we did not pay the $60), but we are so glad to have it!  There are also other options that are less expensive including homemade options that you can find on Pinterest/Google.  The installation was pretty easy, however, I did buy a new hose that was flexible rather than the stiff one that came standard with the toilet.

Now that our son is on lots of solids, when he poops we take his diaper over the toilet, hose off the poop (flush) and put it in the pail that's next to the toilet.  We like keeping our pail in the bathroom because of the distance to the toilet as well as keeping any unpleasant smells in the bathroom where they belong.

When it comes time to wash, I take the pail over to the washer and dump it in.  I do my best to avoid touching poop if I can! 

And now a little about diaper stripping: 
What is this scandalous thing you ask? 
When your diapers start smelling funky the moment your baby pees into them, when your baby starts getting fierce diaper rashes, or when your diapers start to leak after just a short period of time, it may be time to strip them.
But why?
If you've used too much detergent, it begins to build up in the diaper causing it to not get as clean.
If you've used a diaper rash cream, it creates a barrier on the diaper that will prevent it from absorbing and will not wash off in a regular wash cycle.
So how do I strip them?
I've read that the easiest way is to use really hot water and do several extra rinse cycles checking to see if there are still soapy bubbles while the washer is agitating, but this didn't do the trick for me.
After 5+ rinses there was still just as many bubbles as the first time.
So then I tried adding Dawn.
And then I tried adding bleach. (If you try bleach, make sure to rinse several times, it can be harsh on baby's bum.)
After that I tried rinsing some more.
I still saw lots of soapy water/bubbles.
I finally tried vinegar and in about 2 rinses my diapers were rinsing clean.  Wahoo!

There's lots of ways to strip diapers and washing machines, water, and diapers are all unique, so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works for you.
I'm so thankful I finally found something that works for me!  (And there's plenty of other blogs that have lots of detailed instructions for all different kinds of options.)  Hope you find something that works great for you!  Also, if you have some yucky stains, take advantage of sunny days to line-dry your diapers.  The sun is a natural way to bleach out the stains.

Need help figuring out the differences between different types of cloth diapers?  Click here.
Want to look at the cost of cloth diapering and the supplies needed to gDiaper?  Click here.