Toy clutter with two kids at this age (3 and 18 months) is overwhelming, and Devin is going through the dumping phase. It is a daily issue, an hourly issue some days! You think it’d be simple, but it isn’t. There are so many toy boxes and shelves on the market to help you organize toys, and most of them stink. See it doesn’t matter if you use a toy organizer if your tot’s favorite playtime activity is dumping bin after bin of toys.
Here’s what I need my storage solutions to do:
1. Keep toys visible. If the toys are out of sight, the kids will not play with them.
2. Keep toys from being dumped out and abandoned.
3. Sort toys by category and keep sets together.
4. Be repurposable as the kids get older.
With this criteria in mind, you can see that the typical toy organizer and toy box don’t work for me. The typical toy organizer allows for way too much dumping action, and toy boxes do not allow for organization or visibility.
If I had endless piles of cash, I would get pieces from Ikea's Trofast collection with lids or this style toy organizer, but I can’t swing the price tag of either of them.
After much experimentation, I use a combination of storage solutions to handle our toys. The $10 storage drawers pictured above are very important to our toy storage. The toys are still visible and dumping them takes effort. The drawers get dumped from time to time, but surprisingly, the kids usually just open the draw and pull out a few toys. They aren’t pretty, but they are practical and the price is right for us! We already had two in use elsewhere in the house, so we only had to buy one more. These are great for puzzle storage! I keep the puzzles separated in Ziplocs and put the bags in the drawers. I also use them for some of the train stuff, large transportation toys, and small blocks.
The inexpensive clear, plastic bins are also useful for sorting toys. Just to give you an idea, I keep our matchboxes, floor puzzles, a train set, and our music instruments in the small ones among other things. The larger ones I use for our play food, Devin’s age-appropriate toys, figurines, and a random assortment of sensory fun.
In addition, I use a few larger bins to store our train tracks, larger toys, balls, and some random stuff. We also have a toy box, but I only keep stuffed animals that the boys don’t play with in it. Its main purpose in our play space is to block an outlet. I can’t figure out how to hide.
Lastly, we have our books, which live in three large diaper boxes. We own a lot of children’s books, and with two climbing, jumping, thrill seeking boy, I do not want any sort of scalable shelving units around. In the past, I used small dollar store bins, but we out grew them. I should decorate the diaper boxes. I planned to, but I doubt it will happen. Just being honest. The boxes are too heavy for easy dumping, so if the books are out, it is because the kids are enjoying them.
Looking around, I think that is the majority of the storage solutions I use to keep the kids’ toys organized. Now if I could keep the art supplies organized!
It’s a new year, and that means it is time for a new bullet journal. (If you haven’t heard of bullet journals, you should check out the original creator’s video explanation.) I love, love, love my bullet journal. It keeps me on task and focused, and the task lists remind me that I am in fact accomplishing things on a daily basis. All around, I am more productive and happier when I’m using my bullet journal, and that is why I am sharing my set up for 2017 with you.
I decided the best way to share the pages was in a video on my YouTube channel, but below is a sneak peak of some the pages you will find!
This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog!
You don’t need much to start a Bullet Journal. The beauty of the system is that it can be as simple or as fancy as you want. All you absolutely need to start a bullet journal is a 20 cent notebook and that weird pen your insurance company gave you.
That being said, most people don’t keep it quite that simple. Some people have gorgeous, hand lettered, colorful bullet journals that are so pristine I don’t know how they dare write in them, while others stick to the basic framework. Most of us fall somewhere in between. My bullet journal is imperfect, practical, and fun. You won’t find fancy layouts or beautiful hand lettering in my bullet journal. Instead you will find cross outs, scribbles, and slanted lines. Still, I enjoy adding special touches even if they are amateurish. I do what suits me at the time, and that is the heart of why the bullet journal system works for so many people.
So, for the average joe bullet journal, what supplies do you need?
A notebook you love. I like a spiral-bound notebook with thick pages and a hard cover.
A ruler. Absolutely essential if you care at all about straight lines or anything that comes close to a straight line. I have one of these metal rulers, but I’d prefer one of these transparent, 6 inch rulers. I started out thinking I didn’t need a ruler, but after a few pages I gave in, and I’m happier for it.
Pens that write nice. I picked up a 3 pack of these Micron Pens on sale at Michael’s, and they were worth it! They make a nice smooth line and don’t bleed my pages. I use them to create my layouts, but not to write in my bullet journal because they are on the pricey side, and I write a LOT.
Colored Pencils. If you want to add color to your pages, go with colored pencils. They don’t bleed through the page, and they add a touch of color without being overwhelming. I use regular old Crayolas!
An everyday writer. This should be your favorite pen and reasonably priced if you plan to use it often. I love these Lamy Safari Fountain Pens with this refill adapter and Noodler’s Ink. The initial expense is high, but a bottle of the ink lasts forever and the pen does too.
That’s all I use for my bullet journal. My equipment works for me in practical ways, and it makes my journal enjoyable to keep. For the average person, the items on this list will get you well on your way to a great bullet journal.
Have you seen the gorgeous home libraries of children’s books neatly organized and colored coded? What a beautiful dream, but I just can’t see myself doing it. First of all, I can’t do shelves with these kids. Both of the boys are climbers and have no qualms about disobeying me when I tell them to stop climbing on top of the computer desk. That’s just life right now. Shelving would be unsafe and drive me nuts. On top of that, the kids are too small to help me keep the books organized, and without their help, it’d be impossible.
I do try, however, to keep the books somewhat tidy, and finding the right organizing principles and storage solutions has taken time. We own a lot of books. The boys enjoy being read to and “reading” on their own. I keep the books available at all times, and I don’t have restrictions about them. I only discourage damaging them, but otherwise, have at it! (Their love of reading and positive experiences with books comes first.) Finding a way to manage our library has been difficult, but I’ve finally hit upon a solution that works for us.
The lowly diaper box. It ain’t pretty, but they are the perfect width for children’s books, and they are big.
I try to keep them organized, but at the moment, and most of the time, they are a jumbled mess. I go through them checking for damage and sorting them into five categories. Honestly, it isn’t a high priority because organizing them doesn’t impact whether or not they are used and loved. It is more for me than anything.
I sort them into five categories, and each category gets its own bin or box.
1. Board books
2. Picture books (Not board books) -- I keep some of these in the livingroom for the kids, but many of them I put away so they don’t get damaged. When the boys are more gentle, I will bring them back out.
3. Favorites and books I want to read with them -- I try to keep a smaller bin to keep these books accessible.
4. Bedtime books -- These books live in the boys’ bedroom.
5. Christmas books -- I pack these up with our Christmas stuff so they stay fresh for the holiday season. After Thanksgiving, I bring them out.
Once the books are all sorted, the kids pull them all out again, and the disorganization begins anew.
Where have I been you ask?
Not only did we just have a baby and not only was Damian just finishing up finals, but to keep things at maximum levels of stress, we moved. Blogging and vlogging has not been happening at all, nor has most other things like my morning routine or anything that wasn't taking care of three small children and moving. I wish I could say that I was happen to keep all my plates spinning, but I didn't. It is what it is.
It's been almost a month since we started the move, and we still aren't completely moved in, but Damian just finished his last final of the semester, we turned in the keys to the old place, and Christmas will soon be over (not that I look forward to that!). There will be a lot of more time to tackle the last of our unpacking which is basically organizing toys (I have a whole new method that I can't wait to share!) and our bedroom/electronics/office-ish stuff.
I'm finally getting back into a bit of a routine. I've pulled out my bullet journal, which got abandoned half way through October. I'm trying to get back on track with my morning routine. The bullet journal and morning routine are the cornerstones of a happy mommy. They keep me centered, focused, and productive. By January 1st, we are going to be fully settled into this apartment, and I'm going to be ready to rock 2017!
On November 7th, 2016, we welcomed the newest member of our family into the world. She is happy, healthy, and beautiful! This is the story of her birth.It seems to be a trend with me. Just like with Drake and Devin, this birth story starts with a date for an induction. I was about halfway through my 39th week when I had an ultrasound that confirmed that Maddie would be a big baby. No one was surprised. We all suspected she would be big because Drake and Devin were both big, but this confirmed it. She measured 10 pounds exactly at that point.
So my midwife decided induction would be best, and I agreed. I would start the long induction process on Sunday night with plans that she would be born on her due date which was Monday.
I hoped and wished that she would come before the induction (which happened with Devin) because I preferred laboring without Pitocin, but little Maddie refused to budge.
Sunday night I went in and the doctors gave me Cervidil to help things along. By morning, it was giving me crazy contractions. I called Damian and told him to get to the hospital before the nurse checked on me because the contractions were so close together. They removed the Cervidil and checked me before Damian arrived. I was a measly 2 cm dilated and the contractions stopped immediately. I panicked for nothing, but at least Damian didn't miss any of the action.
They started my Pitocin around 8:30 am. At the birth center, you can move around, eat, and drink as much as you want. They don't check your cervix every 5 minutes (thank goodness). I basically stayed in my room, paced quite a bit, and waited, anxiously for things to get moving.
The contractions weren't bad most of the time. I was able to breathe through them and rest in between. No problem really. If that was all labor was, everyone would be doing it! Around 1:30 pm they came in to check on my progress. At first the midwife thought I was only 2 cm still, but then she said “oh no, 4cm! We can break your water!”
I was happy because I knew that would speed things along, and I really wanted to have my baby and get all the painful parts over with. Once my water was broken, they had to kind of push on the baby's head a bit so the water could come out. Her head was blocking the way. The actually breaking of the water isn't painful, but the pushing on the head and such was pretty uncomfortable, basically like a prolonged cervix check.
Finally, they left me to it. My contractions picked up quickly. I already told the midwife that I would probably want some pain medicine, so my nurse was ready to give it to me when I asked for it. At 2:30 pm, I told my nurse I was going to wait until 3:00 for my pain medication, but I didn't make it. At 2:45 pm, I called her in and asked for the goods (Nubain, I believe). The pain was real. I was in an odd mindset with this labor. I really didn't want to go through it. I wish I'd had a better mindset as I think it would have helped, but there you have it.
The medication almost put me to sleep. I remember thinking about all sorts of random things, and every so often, I'd feel a contraction, but mostly I was feeling just fine. The medication makes you super relaxed, and it has always helped me get through the transition phase of labor. I'd do it again in a second!
An hour later, I began to feel the contractions again, and they were intense. I asked the nurse if there was anything else they could give me and she said we could do the intrathecal, and I thought about it. It is similar to an epidural, but you can usually still feel a bit and you aren't hooked up to it constantly. Like I said, I was very resistant to the pain this labor. I said I wanted it.
Too bad for me though! My midwife came in to check me, and I was 9 cm dilated. She said I could still have the intrathecal, but that likely the baby would be here before they got it to me.
Rock and a hard place. I told her not to bother with it, and labored on for about half an hour. I was not pleasant. There was a good amount of yelling/groaning through contractions and a fair bit of whining that I didn't want to do it in between. I'm not proud of it, but it was how I was feeling in the moment, so there you have it. I didn't yell at anyone, so I suppose that is good.
After those 30 minutes, I was in the middle of a contraction when I felt Maddie drop past my cervix. It was an odd sensation and not one I remember with my first two. It felt like a popping cork. I told my nurse something was happening. She checked, and I knew she would bump into the baby's head because I could feel where her head was. And so she did. She calmly called in the midwife and another nurse, who were there in less than a minute. I pushed once more, and then again, and then Madeleine Luna was born.
I held her against me, but I was in a position where I couldn't see her well. Once all the cleanup was done, I looked at my beautiful girl, and fell in love instantly. It is the moment that makes me forget all that happened before, and the moment that makes me want more babies. For me, in this moment, I have always felt an immediate connection to my new baby. I loved them instantly and always. My heart leaps to care for my baby, and that desire doesn't go away.
For video footage from the big day, check out my video on YouTube.
I have a small galley kitchen. It’s about 100 square feet if you took all the cabinets and appliances out. With everything in, there is 20 square feet of linoleum for me to maneuver in. Every inch is used properly. There are top and bottom cabinets and a decent layout for the appliances, including a dishwasher (thank goodness!), but there is only so much you can do in 100 square feet. My only sadness is that I wish I had drawers instead of cabinets on the bottom. My back isn’t the best (especially when pregnant). Squatting and digging around for what I need is downright painful.
All in all, I make our small kitchen work. It isn’t perfect and is more cluttered than I’d like, but I’ve worked with less and am thankful for more than 2 square feet of counter space like in my first apartment.
How to Use Your Space:
No Kid Zone. I keep baby gates on both entries into the kitchen, and unless Drake is helping me cook something, kids are not allowed. It is just too small to have kids running under my feet while I’m trying to chop vegetables or put something in the oven. We also don’t have to childproof it as much, and everyone stays safe. Luckily, the layout of our apartment allows for me to be in the kitchen and still able to see and hear the kids playing in the living room.
Clear the counter top as much as possible. I try to do this every night. It doesn’t always happen, but having a nice space clear makes me feel less squished in my kitchen. Before cooking something that requires a lot of space, I always make sure I have a nice working space. Sometimes this means putting the clutter on the kitchen table or stacked on the stove temporarily.
Put a cutting board over your sink. I don’t use the cutting board to chop on because it is unstable, but a large cutting board over the sink gives me a place to set things down.
Keep awkward equipment in baskets. I have a dollar store basket with my electric knife, pastry cutter, mixer, and immersion blender stored on a top shelf. It keeps all those cords and odd bits confined. When I need something, I just pull the whole basket down and dig it out. I also keep my spices in a big basket to contain the mayhem. (Spices are always full of mayhem.)
Use overhead space. I put bulky, never opened items on the top of my cabinets. It doesn’t look nice but using the space on top of my cabinets helps keep the countertop clear of bags of chips, packages of hamburger buns, and other food items I can’t find a place for. Unopened is important because I don’t want to deal with a mess up there.
How To Save Your Space:
No gadgets. Okay, some gadgets are useful, but be picky about what you buy for your kitchen. Always consider where you will put a gadget before you buy it and pick out space saving models. You don’t need a donut maker, cotton candy maker, and a breakfast sandwich maker unless you have a place to put them. I’d argue that even if you have a place, you probably don’t need them, but to each their own.
Minimal equipment. Two saute pans. One flat frying pan. One grill pan. Two sauce pans. One pasta pot. One pyrex casserole dish. Three roasting pans or cookie sheets. Nesting mixing bowls plus one spare. These plastic cutting boards. That is about all I use! I love these pots with the strainer lids because I hate washing strainers.
Minimal dinnerware. I keep enough dishes for six simple place settings. If we have company and need more than that (rare for us), I buy paper plates.
Kids dinnerware. Don’t buy anything that doesn’t nest! I love the Ikea KALAS plates and bowls because they stack. All those plates with the little compartments are great, but keeping them neat in the cupboard is impossible! I’ve pared down to the Ikea plates, Ikea bowls, a couple of plates with compartments, Munchkin cups, and a few specialty cups with straws or sports tops. I’m not buying anything more until those wear out!
Use other spaces for storage. I store a lot of the kitchen stuff I don’t use regularly in a hall closet or a in a nook by our bedroom where we put a shelf. I keep things like my stock pot, crock pot, extra peanut butter, juice, and spaghetti sauce there. It’s a mini stockpile!
Don’t over buy food. I only stock up when I get a good deal on something and the savings is significant or when it is an item we will use within three weeks.
Go through the cupboards. Go through your cupboards once a month. Donate what you know you will not use, throw away anything opened and stale, and reorganize. The process of organizing will remind you of what you have to use and clear some space.
Keep your cookbooks some place else. Plain and simple. They don’t need to be in the kitchen unless you’re using them. (Which is how often really?) This will keep them from getting dirty as well. (I like to type up my favorite and keep them in my recipe binder. If I spill food on them, no big deal!)
Having a small kitchen isn’t easy when you’re cooking for a family of four (soon to be five), but don’t lose heart! There’s one big advantage to a small kitchen I remind myself of daily… It’s less to clean!
Devin, my second born, my sweet, little cave man. Just like with Drake, this birth story started with an appointment to be induced. I was almost 40 weeks, showing no signs that labor would come any time soon, and according to my ultrasound, I was going to have another big baby. My appointment was for 5 o’clock on a Wednesday so that they could let the medicines do their work overnight, and I would be able to labor more intensely during the day after a good night’s sleep. They called Wednesday morning, however, to move my appointment to the next night because the birth center was full. Although I was disappointed, it was no problem. What’s one day?
Well, as fate would have it, the next morning I woke up around 6 am with strong cramping in my lower stomach. I thought I needed to use the bathroom, but when that didn’t help stop the cramps, I figured out that I was having contractions. For about three hours, they were consistent, getting stronger, and becoming closer together, and then they stopped. I would have one every 20 minutes or less. They were very painful and at some point during the day, they began causing excruciating pain in my lower back. But, I wasn’t sure if I was really in labor at all because they were so sporadic. Everything you read and your doctor tells you about labor contractions is that they get stronger and closer together, and that wasn’t happening for me.
Our original plan was that Damian would drop me off at the hospital and return home to be with Drake once I settled in, but since we thought I might be in labor, we decided he would wait until they checked in on me.
Damian’s mom came over to watch Drake shortly before our appointment. We stopped at the Panera Bread drive thru, and I remember the contractions picking up as I gripped the door handle. I enjoyed my soup and sandwich despite them. Then we stopped at Damian’s work to drop off some (late) FMLA paperwork, and headed to the hospital.
We were a little early, so we waited in the car and snapped this picture. As we were about to go in, I crossed my fingers that I didn’t have a contraction as I walked in through the door because I wasn’t sure I could continue standing. The back pain was amping up! The belly part of the contraction was completely bearable, but the back pain was not.
We walked in and they brought us to a room. Thankfully, I didn’t have a contraction until I was in the safety of my room! I informed the person checking me in I thought I was having contractions, but they weren’t getting closer together. I changed into my gown, went to the bathroom, and collapsed into the bed. People were trying to talk to me, but my contractions were serious, and I wasn’t about the talking. I kept wondering how the expected me to answer, and why they kept pestering me.
Finally around 6pm the midwife came in, and I promptly announced I would like some pain medicine as soon as possible. She smiled and said it was a good sign because people don’t usually ask for pain meds unless they are in labor. I barely heard her. I just wanted her to go fetch the nurse for my IV.
She checked me, laughed again, and said, “You’re 7 centimeters dilated! You’re having a baby tonight!” Poor Damian was in the middle of a horrible cold.. He grabbed an energy drink and a sudafed and geared up for the big moment.
A nurse came in and gave me my IV with the pain medication, and I felt my whole body relax. The medicine doesn’t stop the pain all that well, but helped me relax, and in that moment, I needed to relax. About an hour after that, they broke my water, and I dilated the rest of the way soon after.
At 9pm, after 15 minutes or so of pushing, my precious little Devin was born. Only he wasn’t little! At 22 inches long and 11 pounds and 3 ounces, he was the biggest baby my doctor had ever delivered without a c-section! He was perfect! Unlike Drake, Devin screamed and cried! He wasn’t too happy about being out in the world, but we were happy to have him.
The Reading Nook is a series of posts that feature my kids’ favorite books! These are the books my kids love. They are not intended to be full reviews. Instead, they give my general impressions and my kids’ reactions so you can decide if your little one would like it too. This post likely contain affiliate links.
I’ve already told you how my kids love If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Pig a Pancake written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, so it isn’t a huge surprise that they love It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by the same author and illustrator.
It’s Pumpkin Day Mouse! is a short book about the lovable Mouse’s pumpkin painting fun. He paints pumpkin faces with different emotions and Dog (from If You Give a Dog a Donut) shows up too. As always, the illustrations are attractive, and the animals are full of toddler comedy.
We bought this book last Halloween when Drake still called pumpkins “hogums” and knew only a few words, but after reading this book a few times, he introduced some feeling words into his vocabulary, which we were very excited about! He adores this book, and we leave it out all year round because of that. It’s a great book to start your Halloween library.
Paint a Pumpkin!
Make a construction paper pumpkin with different faces
Put a Pumpkin Coloring page in a transparent sleeve to make a play doh mat
This is my third time packing a hospital bag, and each time, I’ve brought less and less to the hospital with me.
With Drake, my first time packing a hospital bag, I had four bags! It was overkill for sure! The lists you find online for what you should bring are long because there are a lot of thing you might want, but everyone is different. Those lists aren’t all that helpful!
With Devin, my second time packing a hospital bag, I had one large bag with everything I needed, and if I remember correctly, a spare technology bag with things like my computer. Damian didn’t plan to stay the whole time because he had to be home with Drake, so we only packed a couple of things for him.
This time around, as I prepare for the birth of Miss Maddie, I have been trying my best to keep everything as simple as possible. With two littles already running around in my life, Damian’s crazy work and school schedule, and a potential move on the way, simple is really appealing right now.
The fact is that you don’t need much. There is a lot you can bring to make yourself more comfortable, but there’s no escaping the fact that you’re at a hospital and you just pushed a watermelon out of your body. Not having a bunch of stuff is liberating, and before you know it, you’re home!
There are a few things that factor into my packing so lightly.
So what did I pack?
A newborn size outfit
A 0-3 months size outfit (my babies are big)
A snuggly blanket
A soft toy that I’m want to encourage her to take to
2 pajama pants
2 nursing bras
1 pair of socks
3 pairs of underwear
2 hair ties
Snacks -- Veggie Straws, Doritos, and Twix
Travel size toiletries -- Deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash
A picture of my Grandma who passed away
Last Minute Grabs:
Interesting in taking a peek into the bag? Here’s the video!
I love sharing my birth stories for my children! As my due date for Maddie approaches, I find myself thinking more about the births of my sons. So I thought I would share their stories in the weeks leading up to my next baby's arrival.
With Drake, it started with an induction at 40+ weeks. His heart rate kept fluctuating, so we decided it was time to force him out of his comfortable nest. I was in the hospital two nights as they used different methods to get things moving. First they dried Cervidil, which did nothing for a whole night, and then they tried Cytotec. I didn’t like the idea of using Cytotec, but it did get me a handful of contractions that second night.
By 9am the next morning, I hadn’t made much progress. I was only 1 cm dilated when they broke my water and started me on Pitocin. My doctor said if this didn’t work, they’d have to do a c-section, and I lost my mind with anxiety. I cried, and I was scared. My doctor said I was being difficult, and I almost ripped his eyes out. Luckily, the nurses and residents who helped me through this tough moment were amazing. (That doctor is the reason I changed hospitals for Devin’s birth.)
My contractions were immediately painful. Only an hour into this stage of the induction, I started requesting pain medication. Anything. The nurses checked my contraction monitor, and they kept insisting that the contractions were not that strong, which made me feel like a big wimp.
Around noon, I got them to give me the good stuff! I didn’t get an epidural, but they slipped something nice in my IV, and I became relaxed. I almost fell asleep even though I could still feel the contractions.
It must have been about 2pm, when the nurse decided she should check my cervix as I was having serious pain. After a moment, she said she’d be right back, and scurried out of the room. This is never a good sign. I didn’t think much about it at the time because I was… well, preoccupied. She brought in the resident on shift, a young woman who I’d grown to trust in my stay at the hospital. She checked me and informed me that I was fullt dilated. It shocked everyone. I don’t think anyone expected it to happen that quickly.
I was so uncomfortable, and I kept getting up and sitting on the toilet because it was the most comfortable place to sit while feeling the need to push, and I was feeling the need! I wasn’t actively pushing as I didn’t want to have my baby in the toilet, but everyone was in a mad dash to prepare for my baby to come. They brought in an instrument table and called in the doctors.
It seemed like forever before they were ready for me, but, just in time, they made me get off the toilet and onto the bed. I pushed two times, and Drake quite literally shot out into the arms of the resident waiting there. They lay Drake on my chest and the doctor hurried in (late to the party!) to handle my stitches. He was born at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I’d been in labor a whole 6 hours.
Drake didn’t cry much. He looked around at the world with wide blue eyes full of wonder. He had a head full of dark hair, and that pink newborn skin. He was perfect.
I remember saying how tiny he seemed, and the meeting nothing but silence from the room. After quality snuggle time with me, they measured and weighed him and checked him out. Everything came back great, but I soon realized why no one agreed with my comment about his size. He weighed in at 9 pounds and 10 ounces, and we’d had no idea!
There’s nothing like that first night with your new baby. Your brain is telling you to sleep, but you can’t stop looking at him. You worry, you love, you hold him tight. It is a special time, and one of those memories that sees you through the hard times.
This post may contain Affiliate Links. Thank you for supporting the blog!
Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids! We might not trick or treat, but we have a ton of fun on Halloween itself and in the week or two leading up to it. I try to make it fun and memorable because we are all about making memories!
To celebrate Halloween this year, we plan to enjoy some good books, crafts, and the great fall weather at a local farm where we will pick pumpkins. I always prepare for holidays with a flexible plan so that I’m not caught at the last minute wondering what activity we should do. Some of the activities I planned are more appropriate for the preschool age than the toddler age child, but I have found that my youngest is up for a challenge when his big brother is modeling how to do the activity for him!
Here’s Our Plan!
I always start with a handful of books…
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus
Room on the Broom
Happy Halloween Daniel Tiger!
Then with the help of Pinterest, I add in some crafts...
Tissue Paper Pumpkin
Construction Paper Pumpkins
Pumpkin Themed Sensory Bin with rice base
Invitation to create monsters
Pumpkin Painting and Carving
Pumpkin Potato Stamp
Cotton Ball Ghost
As I mentioned before, we will also be doing a farm visit! One of our local farms has a great Halloween and harvest themed event every weekend. It is always a blast.We might not do everything on this list, especially since Madeleine is due to arrive the first week of November, but we will do as much as we can!
Apple picking has been a yearly tradition for us since before we even had kids! Fresh picked apples are amazingly delicious, and September is a beautiful time of year to enjoy walking among apple trees. Now that we have kids, it is more important than ever to enjoy apple picking as a fall activity. It gets us outside, teaches the boys where their food comes from, supports our local farmers, and creates memories. Why wouldn’t we do it? Especially with multiple orchards within 45 minutes of us.
This year we went to Rose Hill Farm, a smaller farm than our usual apple picking haunt, and all the better for being smaller. It had a cozy, family-friendly feel, and it was gorgeous. It is the kind of farm that makes you want to quit your day job and take up raising goats. The kids had such a nice time riding in the wagons, walking among the trees, and picking (and tasting) apples. Drake was excited to pick them himself and did a great job this year collecting apples to fill our bag. Devin stumbled around in the high grass and nibbled an apple the whole time.
It was a great day! In the end, Drake didn’t want to leave, and we had to drag him away kicking and screaming, but when you are dealing with an autistic 3-year-old, sometimes that happens. At least, we know he was enjoying himself!
For more details about our adventures, check out our vlog from that day.
Some people say babies are expensive, and that can certainly be true if you aren’t budget conscious! Having a baby can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Babies are simple creatures and require little. It is the older kids that suck your bank account dry.
That being said, babies do need some things during the first year of life, and since we all have different budgets, I’ve broke my list into two categories: things you need and things that are helpful.
Things You Need
Things that are helpful
I can’t write this post without sharing my personal pet peeves for useless baby crap. I'm sure some people love these products, but I can’t share that love!
So, as you can see, there are some big purchases to make for baby, but it isn’t such a long list as Babies R Us would have you believe. You can get by on very little, and, sadly, before you know it, your baby will have outgrown that swing any way.
If you have any must haves or pet peeves to share, please a comment so we can all benefit!
After two horrible experiences at hair salons with Drake, I vowed to cut his hair myself so he wouldn't have the stress of the salon, and he wouldn’t look like he got in a fight with a lawn mower. Haircuts are notoriously difficult for people with Autism. I don’t know if it was the age or Autism related struggles, but it doesn’t matter. He hated them, and his hair never came out good.
The first few times I cut his hair, it still looked like he’d been in a fight with a lawn mower. I was learning after all, but after a few tries, I got it right.
Why haircuts at home work for us:
There was no single resource I used that helped me learn. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos showing how to cut kids hair. These were helpful, but I never found one video that helped me do it.
Besides that, I just kept at it! I learned through trial and error. I made mistakes, but I learn from them, and I get better every time I cut his hair.
If you have trouble taking your kid to the salon, or want to avoid unnecessary expenses, try cutting their hair yourself! Don’t expect amazing results right away. It takes practice, but after a couple of bad haircuts, you will have it down.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.