Easy DIY Ideas To Save Memories and Keepsakes

Posted 09-14-2015 at 06:41 PM by admin

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Over the years we have accumulated thousands of photos, souvenirs, trophies, awards, favorite clothes, stuffed animals, and more. I have boxes upon boxes of items to go through. I never knew how much a child could have….times four! Below are my 3 favorite ways to keep those memories organized and even on display!

Create a shadowbox: There are so many great themes for shadowboxes. One idea is to make one with all the items from the hospital. The hospital bracelet (moms and baby’s), first outfit, hospital hat, and fingerprint card! Shadowboxes can be hung on the wall or placed on a shelf. And, if they are preserved correctly, they can be given to the child when they have their first baby!

Scrapbooks: Scrapbooking has come a LONG way over the years. There are so many options and digital scrapbooking has become very popular. Scrapbooks can be made for each year of your child’s life. Or, make one for each month until they are one, and then one per year. Once your child is old enough, he or she can help create them!

Memory Quilts: Head on up to the attic and grab that box (or boxes) of baby clothes that you can’t bear to throw away and turn it into a beautiful and useful quilt! You can do this yourself or if you’re like me, head to a crafty friend’s home for some help.

Do you have a favorite way to save memories?

 

Diaper Swapers

Safety Checklist For Crawlers

Posted 09-13-2015 at 06:41 PM by admin

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I remember preparing for my oldest when he started to become mobile. We started baby-proofing as soon as he began rolling over. I was so nervous, so I got an early start. And I am glad I did. It seemed like time flew during those first 9 months of his life.

These are just a few of the safety precautions I took early on.

Plug covers – use outlet covers or safety plugs
Keep electric cords out of reach. Behind furniture or use a safety cover for cords.
Keep hot liquids (like your coffee cup) up high and on a steady table that can’t be knocked over by baby.
Put safety locks on low cabinets.
Use door stops or door holders to protect babies’ little fingers.
Never leave crawling baby unattended.
Put soft covers on tables with sharp corners or edges.
Gate fireplaces and keep fireplace tools out of reach.
Use gates to keep baby away from stairs.
Consider a toilet child proof lock and a refrigerator child proof lock.
Gate any areas that you don’t want baby in.
Keep bathroom doors closed.

I found a FULL childproofing checklist that you can print out HERE. You can also check with your pediatrician for more great safety tips for all of your baby’s stages.

The Diaperswappers Everything Swap: What it is and Why You Should Be Participating

Posted 09-9-2015 at 02:25 PM by Agla

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One of the best kept secrets on Diaper Swappers is our regularly running Everything Swap.

– An ESWAP is a great way to move along items that you no longer use while getting some of the things that you actually need for your household.

Here is just a sampling of some of the things that I have received by participating in our ESWAP:

Custom made superhero capes.
Two brand new sun hats.
Mama Jewelry
New Tea Cup with Infuser with loose tea leaves
Custom T-shirts
Star Wars Action Figures
Organic Boys European Sweater

In an eswap you post the items that you have available and then shop from the items offered up for trade from other members.

There is a period of time where you are allowed to make choices and ask questions about the items available. During this time you can also post items that you are currently in search of.

Once the shopping period is over you submit your top three picks to the swap coordinator. It doesn’t mean you will get all of your top picks but the coordinator will try and match as many as people as possible.

To see more detailed guidelines (don’t be daunted the process is much easier than it looks!) please see this post about eswap rules and guidelines.

The DS members that participate in the eswap are a very friendly bunch that are very open to helping new participants.

Apple and Pumpkin Season is Upon Us

Posted 09-8-2015 at 02:08 PM by Agla

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If I didn’t know that Fall was upon us by looking out the window or the calendar I would know by the constant advertisements for everything pumpkin and apple flavored advertised in print and media. Instead of fighting the pumpkin and apple trend embrace it!

Here are some fun things you can do, make or taste to make the most of this time of year.

– Bake a pie. It really is much easier than you think and there are videos and recipes easily accessible online. Little hands can mix ingredients and help with the dough. Not sure if you know how to crimp pie dough? Fold over the sides and call it a tartlette instead.

– Add Pumpkin or Apple to Anything. Muffins, pancakes, waffles, soups there are so many recipes that can be enhanced by adding some apple or pumpkin.
– Go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. Don’t have one in your area? A corn maze or hay maze will do in a pinch.
– Have an apple tasting. There are many varieties of apples. Buy several and have a tasting. Which do you prefer? What words would they use to describe them?
– Wear some Fall colors. Put away the neon green and bring out the orange!
– With your kids, do some apple or pumpkin themed crafts.
– Check out books about pumpkins and apples for your kids from the library.

I would love to hear what type of activities DS members do during this time of year.

Closet Organization: Fall Season

Posted 09-7-2015 at 02:05 PM by Agla

 

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For some of us this is the time where we have to open our closets and figure out what needs to be put away, given away and put out. This can be a daunting project and there are many ways that this task can be approached. I am going to share some of the ways I have learned to get this task done through the years.

Keep, Store, Give Away
Anyone that has watched a home organization show is familiar with the sorting technique in which you quickly assess your items and sort them into three categories: Keep, Store and Give Away. If you are looking at an item for more than 30 seconds still debating if you can get use out of it then the item should probably be in the Give Away pile. For parents that are thrifty another category for sorting can be made titled “Sell/Trade.”

When the Weather Is Temperamental
Some of us have the joy of living in areas where the weather can change from one second to the next. I’ve learned the hard way that putting all the summer things away as soon as the weather cools can be a mistake. For example, yesterday it was 90 degrees here. Today, one of my kids left the house wearing shorts, a long sleeve T-shirt, and a fleece, because it was much cooler. To keep your organization time and frustration level to a minimum I suggest doing your closet change over in stages.

First, clear out the items that are overtly summer related. Things like your 4th of July T-shirts can be cleared out. Most tank tops can be cleared out with the exception of those that you can layer as the weather cools. Clear out items that are stained or damaged as well.

At this point I would make sure that long pants and sweatshirts are also accessible so that they are available for cooler mornings and evenings.

Keep shorts out as they can still get some wear as the seasons change but gather them in one location so that they can easily be gathered and stored when the weather gets too cool.

Hand Me Downs
Here is where things can get a bit complicated. For some reason kids grow like weeds in the summer. As you go through the closet make sure that the items still fit and assess what is about to be grown out of. If your same gender children are close in age and born in similar seasons then it does make sense to keep clothing to hand down. Just keep in mind that trends do change, the build of children vary and so do their tastes. You usually won’t lose if you hold on to classic pieces. I have one gender neutral nautical themed sweater that has been passed down for fourteen years. I prefer sorting hand me downs by size and season and using storage containers I keep in the basement. I know others that keep separate sections of closets. The storage method will vary based on your space and the amount you need to store.

Is There Too Much?

One of the things that can make a closet change overwhelming is when there are too many items to deal with. Realistically, the clothing needs of a school aged child are not huge. If you are swimming in clothes and are constantly frustrated by your efforts to organize it all then it might mean that it is time to purge and free yourself of items that are creating more work for you.

Saving Money on Back To School Clothes

Posted 08-5-2015 at 10:02 PM by Agla

 

Once again, it is the time of year where moms are hitting the stores, searching everywhere for back to school deals. One of the biggest expenses is the inevitable money that needs to be spent on clothing, after the growth spurts that take place in the summer. Here are just a few ideas on how to make your back to school clothing budget stretch:

Buy in the Previous Season
One of the best ways to save is to plan in advance. Many basics can be purchased for great prices during clearance sales and then put aside for future use.

A few years ago, I found basic navy hooded sweatshirts for $3 a piece during a clearance event. I purchased the sweatshirt in a couple of sizes and stored them. The sweatshirts have gotten lots of use and since it was a basic non-trendy item my kids will be wearing those sweatshirts for years to come.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Local Thrift and Consignment Stores
I happen to have several thrift and consignment stores in driving distance. I have seen the traffic in these stores rise exponentially as living costs have increased. Unfortunately, prices at these type of stores have also risen but they still beat traditional stores for some items. However, you have to be familiar with the cost of quality items because in some instances it is more cost-effective to buy new.

At a national chain children’s consignment shop I found a pair of boys dress shoes that retail for $75 or above. The shoes looked as though they had never been worn, and they cost only $8. I also found a brand new, with tag, Janie and Jack boys shirt for $4. The full retail price for the shirt was $34.

Clothing Discounter
There are many stores that specialize in selling off season clothing. Sometimes the only reason an item is considered off season is because full price retailers have introduced the items in different colors for the new season. The older colors are then moved to discounters.

Recently, I purchased a pair of men’s pants at a department store. I bought the pants while they were on sale and I applied a coupon I found online. Later that day I found the same pair of pants at Marshall’s in a slightly darker khaki color for a few dollars less than the price I paid without the hassle of waiting for a sale or coupon.

Watch for Sales and Coupons
There are coupon experts out there that can make a “dollar out of fifteen cents.” I am not one of those people, but I do search out coupons and sales before going out to make any purchases.

Many retailers mail out or email coupons periodically and waiting for those coupons can make the difference between saving money and overspending. Combine your coupon with sales or by buying items that are on clearance to extend your back to school budget.

Despite my planning ahead I sometimes find that I have to purchase a last minute clothing item. I recently needed to buy shorts for my son before a trip. I walked into the store and immediately suffered from sticker shock. I looked around some more and I found shorts that were actually closer to my price range. Once we figured that the shorts were a good fit and decent quality I calculated that the sale price combined with a store coupon. The combination of the sale and coupon bought the shorts down to exactly the amount I had budgeted to spend.

Use the Diaperswappers FSOT Forum

The Diaperswappers forum has a section of the sale and trade forum dedicated to children’s clothing. Members will often list clothing that their child has outgrown that is good quality and a good price point.

For example, there is currently a pair of Mini Boden lined cargo pants listed in our forum for $15. These pants retail for $54 new.

Back to school clothing shopping does not have to break the bank. By planning your purchases carefully, and familiarizing yourself with the various ways that clothing costs can be reduced, you will be able to hopefully enjoy your back to school shopping instead of worrying about your budget.

Simpler Is Sometimes Better

Posted 07-24-2015 at 04:02 PM by Agla

I spent three days making one batch of rolls this week. Each day there was another step in the process to complete. Once the rolls were baked and everyone had a chance to taste them I asked, “Were these rolls better than the rolls that take me only a few minutes to prepare?” My husband admitted that he liked the taste of the simpler rolls. Like other areas of our life I realized that I get better results when I stick to a simple routine. Here are some ideas on how to simply things in any household:

Simplifying Your Wash Routine
In a family, the laundry beast can get overwhelming. There were years that I refused to buy any white clothing, because during that time I felt like I was constantly swimming in laundry and separating whites and darks was just too much to deal with. As well as buying no white clothing, I also simplified the laundry by reducing the number of items in my family’s wardrobe.

For my diaper laundry I realized that after trying several cloth diaper specific detergents and different laundry additives I found that the one that worked the best for me and my machine was basic Tide detergent with a couple of extra rinses,

Simplifying Your Menu
I love to cook and try new recipes but I know that there are people that struggle with menu planning and meal preparation. I see the same people attempt to elaborate recipes with several ingredients in an attempt to improve their cooking. Once while watching a TV cooking show I watched three different chefs gasp with delight. What caused their reaction? One of the contestants had placed a fried sunny side egg on top of the meal he was being judged on. Good simple basic ingredients can go a long way to making a meal taste good. Good basic cooking technique are also important and can elevate most ingredients from ordinary to delicious.

Keeping Your Home Tidy Simply
Simply put, “The less you have the less you have to clean.” This seems obvious but many people spend a great deal of time dealing with the clutter that has accumulated in their home. Get rid of things that are not being utilized. Have proper places to store things so that anyone can pick up something that is out of place and know where to put it. These are small steps that can help keep a home neater and less cluttered.

I would love to hear from DS blog readers about the ways they have learned to simplify. Please share your tips and tricks in the comment section below.

Road Travel With Toddlers

Posted 07-23-2015 at 12:51 PM by admin

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Car Travel With Toddlers

Are you hitting the road this summer with a little one in tow? If so, there will definitely be some planning involved. Over the years, I have learned how to pack and travel efficiently with babies, toddlers, school aged kids, and now teens. And each age requires something different. Today I’m focusing on traveling with toddlers.

Pack heavy:  I know this seems like overkill, but I promise you, you will thank me. If you have the room in your vehicle, pack heavy for the toddlers on your trip. Games, snacks, change of clothes, their favorite pillow, animal, sippy cups, wipes, napkins, toys, snacks….yes I mentioned snacks twice! They are important to having a happy toddler. I highly suggest checking out a local dollar store for new toys that will keep your toddler engaged, without breaking the bank.

Independence: Toddlers love their independence. Consider packing their own separate backpack full of their own things.

Break it up: Back in my college years, my goal was always to get to my destination as fast as possible. Which meant, little to no stops. This is very hard with a toddler. They need to get their energy out. Plan stops at parks, restaurants that have play areas, or just open fields so they can stretch their legs (you too!) and get some exercise.

Avoid rush hour: No one likes to be stuck in traffic, including toddlers!

Sleepy Time Travel: Leaving at night so your toddler sleeps through most of the drive is a great idea. As long as the drivers are not drowsy too. Make sure if the driver is drowsy, you pull over immediately. If it’s a short trip, driving through naptime is a plus as well.

Electronics: While we try to discourage too much time on electronics, long car trips is the exception in our home. Investing in a TV/DVD Player combo is definitely worth it. You can stop at Redbox machines along the way for cheap movie options. If the TV/DVD Player is not in the budget, there are options. Pick up a fun CD full of singalongs or stories for your toddler to enjoy on the trip.

Clean up: Do not forget all the clean up supplies. Pack plenty of napkins, wet ones, disinfectant, plastic bags, and more in case of spills.

 

 

HAPPY TRAVELS!

Like the Brady Bunch but Not Really

Posted 06-19-2015 at 11:33 AM by Agla

As a child I watched the Brady Bunch and dreamed of being part of a big family.  I didn’t realize that I would eventually become part of large family but, unlike my childhood fantasies, I ended up playing the part of the mom instead of one of the fun-loving kids.

Having a larger family isn’t exactly how it is pictured on television. I’ll go over some of the major differences between my family and the Brady Bunch:

I don’t have a maid.  Alice on the Brady Bunch was an awesome maid that cared for the children as if they were her own.  The house was immaculately clean and there was never a stray toy in site.   I get to clean everything on my own until the kids are old enough to pitch in.  But unlike Mr. Brady who was always too busy working in the office for housework, I have a husband that does help clean.

I don’t have the equally gender balanced family.  The Brady’s had exactly 3 boys and 3 girls.  My household is boy heavy.  I’ve been living toy cars, wooden trains, and Lego for over a decade and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  Luckily, I had one daughter so that I at least had a small window of shopping in the girl’s section.

My kids weren’t already potty trained when I got them.  The Brady’s became a family by blending two families with older children.  I had to diaper and then potty train all of these kids.

Our problems don’t come in increments of one that are easily resolved in a half hour period.  In the short time I’ve been sitting down to write this piece I’ve had to deal with a broken lightbulb, lost sneakers, fighting over snacks, helping put on socks, and a toilet that won’t stop running.

Even though my life doesn’t match that of the Brady Bunch I will always appreciate the show for leaving me with the impression that a large family could be loving and supportive of each other.   Even when we have our worst days I have never wished for a smaller family.  I’m grateful that I was able to get positive messages about larger families as a child. Thank you, Mrs. Brady!

 

Help! I Want to Cloth Diaper but I Have No Money!

Posted 06-19-2015 at 10:35 AM by Agla

One of the most asked questions that we get on our forum is how to cloth diaper on a very limited budget.  While many people choose to cloth diaper to save on diapering costs there are many who struggle with the initial investment needed to create a stash.

Here is a sampling of some of the most popular inexpensive diapering options available:

Flats

Flat diapers are an inexpensive but useful diapering option that can be used for a large range of sizes.  There are now “elite” flats that come in gorgeous fabrics but the budget minded cloth “diaperer” can make their own flats by using fabric that might already be in the home.

T-Shirt Flats-  Old t-shirts can be cut and made into flats.  T-shirt material will roll at the edge when cut but will usually not fray, which makes the t-shirt flat one of the best inexpensive options for those that do not feel comfortable sewing.  If absorbency is a concern an inexpensive doubler can be added for extra wetness protection.

Receiving blanket flats-  Thin receiving blankets are also an inexpensive solution.  They can be purchased new for as little as $2 a blanket and usually they can be found at tag sales or thrift stores for even less.

Flour Sack Towels- These are an option that have gained some popularity as people realize how versatile they can be and how easily they can be found.  Once you are done using them as a flat diaper then you can use them pad folded in a cover, as an insert or even as a doubler.

Covers

There are now cover options available to fit every type of budget.  But if those options are still out of reach there are some basic and functional cover options that require minimal investment.

Upcycled Wool- Wool sweaters can be used to make soakers and longies (wool pants.) With my fourth child I got busy recycling old wool sweaters to make longies to wear over CDs.  It was surprisingly easy and I ended preferring some of my upcycled wool to wool that I purchased new or had made.  Several soakers can be made from a large sweater and absorbency can be increased by sewing an additional layer of wool into the soaker area.

Fleece-  Fleece soakers and longies can be made inexpensively by upcycling old sweatshirts or buying yards of fleece while on sale.  Fleece can also be used as a stay dry liner.

Training Pant Covers-  Otherwise known as Gerber pull on (although I’m sure there are other brands) are a basic no frills pull on cover.  They cost about $2 a cover and are now being sold in prints as well.

The cloth diaper industry has gone through a transformation in recent times, but the changes and innovations have come with increased prices, or, in some cases reduced prices but questionable business ethics.  Fortunately, there are still ways that a parent can choose to cloth diaper while keeping out of pocket expenses to an absolute minimum.