Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Christmas Towel and #LightTheWorld

Several years ago I received one of these Christmas towels as a gift.   They are just white tea towels with the word Service embroidered on them and a little story attached.  Although I've never used mine as a towel, I enjoy reading the story each year as I unpack it from my Christmas decor box.

I thought they'd make a cute gift, and perfect for this time of year reminding us of our Savior in the everyday acts of service we do.

Here's my version.  I don't know how to embroider so I omitted that step and used a festive red towel instead. 

I love how a useful everyday object now has deeper meaning because of the story.  These would make great gifts for neighbors, friends, or large church groups.

If you are looking for more ways to serve this Christmas season, check out the Light The World campaign from Mormon.org  There are 25 ways to serve over the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  Each day there is a short video, a scripture and a challenge to serve.  We've been watching the videos each night and trying to be more mindful of serving others this holiday season.  It's a great way to remember Jesus which is what Christmas is truly about.

You can download the calendar which has each day's scripture HERE.
And if you're looking for how to apply these ideas for families, teens or little kids, check out THIS POST or THIS ONE.  Thanks to Emilie of A Year Of FHE for putting these together.  If you need FHE ideas, she's got you covered so be sure to check out her entire site.  

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Favorite Things - Baby Edition

I'm back with another edition of "My Favorite Things".  In case you missed the last one about my favorite inexpensive kitchen tools, you can check it out HERE.  This time I'm talking baby items.  So if you have an expectant mom, new mom or baby to buy for this Christmas, you can't go wrong with any of the items below.

Being a mom of 4 kids, I've used my fair share of baby stuff.  With my first baby, I wanted everything and anything I might need, and the cuter it was the better.  Over the years I've learned a few things about what works and what you actually need.  By the time my fourth baby came along, I was ready for a minimalist approach.  If my house was going to be overrun with baby gear, I only wanted the essentials, not the clutter no matter how cute it was.  Here are a few of my favorites.  

Essentials for baby to wear

I've blogged about how much I like this swaddler HERE.  I received one as a gift with my fourth child and wish I would have had it for all my babies.  This makes swaddling so easy and it grows as your child grows. 

So much easier to get on and off baby with the zipper rather than snaps.  Attached footies means you don't have to worry about loosing socks or cold feet.  My babies lived in these for the first couple of months.

Robeez Soft Sole Leather Shoes

These shoes are great for beginning walkers.  They stay on their feet and the soft sole makes it easy to maintain balance.

My Favorite Baby Gear

A good baby carrier is a must have when you have more than one child.  This is a great way to keep your baby close yet your hands are free to play, work, clean, whatever.  Also it's a great way to travel with baby when a stroller isn't an option such as hiking or in a crowded place.  Some of the carriers/slings/wraps feel like my baby could fall out and I use my hand to hold onto them just in case.  Not so with this one.  I felt like my baby was safe and secure.

Having a second place for baby to nap or to change a diaper is great if you have a two story house.  I didn't have this exact model but I did have those features.  I kept mine in the living room so I could keep an eye on my other kids too.

Snap and Go Stroller

If you are looking for a minimalist approach, then this stroller is for you.  You just snap the car seat in here and off you go.  Once your child outgrows the infant carrier type car seat, you will have to get another stroller, but that is when I start using the umbrella strollers.  No need for big bulky strollers if you go that route.  

Having a lightweight stroller is handy.  So much easier to store in the back of your car.  I started using one when my babies were about 6 months and could sit up pretty well.  This is not a cheap umbrella stroller.  It is small and light but it's sturdy too.  I've had several and I prefer the Chicco brand.  There is a basket for storage on the bottom and the seat part is larger than most - great if you have big kids.  I had this for 3 out of my 4 kids and then accidentally ran over it so I had to get a new one for my 4th.  I found a used Maclaren which I thought would be better since it's a more expensive brand.  Nope, I much preferred the Chicco.

OK, so here is a big bulky stroller and it's worth it if you take your baby on a lot of walks.  Having only one wheel in front makes it more easily maneuverable than the other strollers.  Plus the large wheels are great for traveling over gravel and grass.  My youngest is 3 and has outgrown the umbrella type strollers (yeah, he's big) so this is the only stroller we use now.  It's bigger than traditional strollers but it also accommodates bigger/older kids so you'll be able to use longer.

I've never used this car seat, but my friend raves about it.  Her daughter had an unfortunate accident in it and taking off the cover to wash it was super easy.  She didn't even have to uninstall the car seat to clean the cover.  As one who has had to do that several times due to sick kids and diaper blow outs, that's a life saver right there.

I had both of these.  One on the main floor of the house, another upstairs in my bedroom or bathroom so I have a place to put the baby while I'm getting myself ready for the day.  They made my life easier and the baby loved sitting in there.  It also was a safe place to put the baby so siblings could interact with him.

Feeding Must Haves

Since I had gotten rid of all my baby gear by the time I had my fourth baby, I got to pick and choose what to buy instead of using a hand me down.  I went through several high chairs before finding one I loved.  Good thing I bought them used and was able to resell them for what I paid.  I thought I wanted something nice, not plastic, so it would blend in with our home a little better.   The first high chair I got was a Graco wooden high chair.  It looked nice, the dark wood matched our kitchen cabinets, however, it was a pain to clean.

All those nooks and crannies for food to get stuck in.  And even though the cushion was machine washable, it was just another part that needed to be cleaned.  Since my little guy was a messy do it yourself eater, this chair was more work than it was worth.  I sold it when I found something different.

My second highchair was sleeker and more modern looking, the Keekaroo Height Right Highchair with insert and tray.

It had several height adjustments and could convert from high chair to booster chair.  Again, it was wood so it didn't look all cheap and plastic-y.  The seat cushion was rubber and much easier to clean than the fabric cushion of the Graco high chair.  However, once again, food would get everywhere:  in the seams/joints of the wood parts, under the cushion.  This also became a pain to clean and I knew I had to get rid of it too. 

That led me to do an internet search for an easy to clean high chair. 
The Antilop high chair from Ikea got rave reviews about how easy to clean it was. 
And for only $20!

Even though it was plastic and not as nice looking as the wooden high chairs, I instantly fell in love with it after my son's first meal.  The seat is all one piece so no joints or seams for crumbs to get caught.  It was a breeze to clean and I wish we would have gotten it sooner.  I wouldn't recommend it for a baby just starting out in a high chair since it doesn't have much support to hold them up, but for an older baby or toddler, it's definitely the best high chair around.

Kangaroo Bib
Long before I had the perfect easy to clean high chair, I had the perfect easy to clean bib.  I actually found this at a yard sale and bought it for my 3rd baby.  It's a kangaroo bib.  It's plastic and has a food catcher at the bottom.  I just wipe it up after every meal and it's clean and dry in seconds.  I used this bib multiple times a day for a few years. I don't think they sell it in stores, so here is a link to a similar one on amazon.com

I like to use metal utensils when my child gets enough coordination to feed themselves.  The plastic ones or the metal with plastic coating on them, never really picked up or held onto the food like the all metal ones would. 

Silicone divided plates

I like these because the silicone provides a little bit of grip to them, making it harder to just slip away.  The divided sections are great for separating out food since many toddlers don't like their peas to touch their carrots.  

Gerber Graduates Spill Proof Sippy Cups

A lot of sippy cups say they are spill proof but they aren't.  I've used a lot of different kinds, and I can say these truly are spill proof.  I Still use these on car rides just to make sure there aren't any accidental spills.

And A Few More Things 

A must have for any breastfeeding momma out there.  

I have these Light Blocking Basketweave Curtains from Target in both my master bedroom and my 3 year old's room.  Our bedroom has the tan color, while my son's room is done in blue. The darker the color, the more light is blocked out, but compared to other light blocking curtains, these are the best I've found for the price (about $25 per panel).  If you have windows that get direct sun, these will help keep the light out and you can get more sleep, something that is a precious commodity when you have little ones.

I'm planning to do at least one more edition of My Favorite Things, so check back in a few days to see what toys have stood the test of time with my kids.  Happy Shopping!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

DIY Toy Horse Bridle and Reins

We were given some horses recently, the kind that fit with the 18" American Girl Dolls.  My 7 and 3 year olds have loved playing with them and are now wanting to ride a real horse.  My 3 year old son, especially wants to ride a horse since he's the only one of the kids who hasn't done that yet.  Well, there was that one time over the summer at a local petting zoo when he sat on a horse then cried and wanted to get off because the kid in front of him got bucked off.  Luckily that didn't prevent him wanting to ride a horse again.  

Enough horse riding talk, back to my DIY.  Recently my son has been wanting to ride a horse with reins. Maybe it's all the pictures of Santa in his sleigh holding onto the reindeer reins, but my son asks everyday to ride a horse with reins.  So I thought maybe for Christmas I'd get his toy horse a set of reins.  Well, I could for about $20, or I could DIY them myself and he could play with them right away.  

A quick Pinterest search yielded only one result.  Really, is there only one person who has figured this out and shared it?  Luckily one was all it took.  I was able to follow her step by step directions and make a bridle and reins for our toy horses.  HERE is the link to the step by step directions I used to make this bridle and reins.  Jessica from American Girl Fan does a great job of spelling out each step with pictures and I had no trouble following along.  It took maybe 10 minutes to make one and my kids love them.

Luckily I had all the supplies on hand:
Tape measure or ruler
parachute cord (I had some from THIS paracord bracelet making kit)
duct tape

My son chose green paracord and black duct tape, and my daughter chose pink paracord and flowered duct tape.  I love the bright colors and how we could customize them to be much cooler than a plain old brown store bought bridle.  I made the reins about twice as long as suggested in the tutorial because my kids wanted to ride the horse, but if it's for the dolls, they don't need to be that long.

Looks like he loves it.

 And here's my daughter's horse modeling her new bridle.

Of course my daughter couldn't wait to try it out.  Yeehaw!!

It's not too late to make these in time for Christmas.  

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