A Jar of Mommy Kisses

WAM MommyKisses

In our house, Mommy kisses are pretty important. They can make an bump, scratch, bruise, or any other type of owie feel all better. Instantly. When I was leaving for 5 days without my little boys I knew I had to come up with something that would work in place of a real live Mommy kiss.

I decided to make a jar of Mommy kisses. I filled a mason jar with cotton balls and sat my 3 year old down to let him know how they would work. My husband and I had been telling him for a week or two that I was going to be going on vacation, so it wasn’t a surprise to him. We sat together and he watched me put a mommy kiss on each of the cotton balls. He decided he needed to add a kiss too, which made it even sweeter. Then, I told him that anytime he got hurt, missed me, or needed a Mommy kiss for any reason, all he had to do was get one of them and touch it to the spot where he needed the kiss. I also told him that when he uses a kiss it goes right back in the jar because thats where we keep the Mommy kisses and he can use it again. Really, this was only so he wouldn’t be taking them out and leaving them everywhere and driving my husband crazy with pulled apart cotton balls all over the house!

It’s not that Daddy kisses don’t work or aren’t good enough, it’s just that sometimes a little boy (or girl) just needs a Mommy kiss. I left knowing that there was a way I could comfort him even though I was on the other side of the country.

It worked like a charm and the jar still sits out in our kitchen. Occasionally, he’ll use it when he needs a Mommy kiss and I can’t do it right away, or if I’m not home. What an easy way to let your children know you’re there for them, when you might not be able to be there physically! You can use this for grandparents houses, military parents who might be deployed far away, send a little baggie of kisses to summer camp, wherever they might need a little kiss.

Any sweet things you do for your kiddos when you have to travel and can’t be with them? Leave them in the comments!

Muffles for Breakfast!

Have you ever had a muffle? Let me tell you, it’s quite possibly the easiest and most delicious breakfast you can make that looks like it took you a lot of time and effort.

Now, I’ll begin by saying that I’m completely OK with using quick and easy, prepackaged things. Ya, I make homemade things from scratch too, but there’s not always time or the desire to. These Betty Crocker muffin mixes are great because they require only water and some stirring. They come in different varieties such as blueberry, chocolate chip, and triple berry, which is what I used. Oh, and they’re inexpensive. We used 2 pouches and got 3 large waffles, so you almost need a pack per person.

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Grab a few bags of these babies, mix em up, and pour them into your waffle maker.  MUFFLES! They’re SO good and SO easy and I like them even better than making them into actual muffins. We ate them so quickly that I didn’t even stop to take a photo of how pretty they turned out!

Top with fresh berries, maybe some powdered sugar or whipped cream, and you’ve got an amazing breakfast that only took a few minutes! Plus, my toddler loves to help make waffles muffles in the Belgian waffle maker, so it’s fun and keeps him involved too! Ours is the kind that you get to flip over, so it’s pretty much the best thing in the world if you’re three years old. If you don’t have one, it’s not a bad thing to get. You can pick one up right at Walmart.

Enjoy your muffles!

*The opinions in this post are entirely my own and are not influenced or endorsed in any way by Betty Crocker or any products or stores mentioned. 

KonMari Cleaning Method for People with Children

I’ve heard a lot about the KonMari method for cleaning your house. It pretty much talks about how to purge and live more simply. How we don’t need to have so much stuff.

I completely agree and I always try to purge when I can. When I think about the amount of crap that comes in our house, it truly makes me cringe. It’s no wonder it’s so hard to keep things neat and tidy. With toys, mail, clothes, groceries, fast food/coffee/soda shop drinks, and everything a toddler brings home such as rocks, sticks, and pinecones, it’s really a wonder that our house isn’t worse!

I’m always going through toys and throwing away bits and pieces that don’t work, aren’t played with, or came in any sort of “happy meal.”

Why keep things around that we don’t love or need!? I am someone who is in love with bins and baskets and I’m on a never ending search for new ones. I guess I wouldn’t need so many if I didn’t have so many things to organize!

You can read more about doing the KonMari method in a household with children here in a great article I found!

It’s time to get your sanity back! Happy Cleaning!

How To Get Your Toddler To Clean Up Their Toys

WAM cleanuptoys

Do you struggle with getting your littles to clean up their toys? In our house, we try to always clean up toys at the end of the day. Yes, throughout the day we try to do the whole, “clean this up before we take out something else” thing, but by the end of the day, there’s always toys out. It’s not a big deal. Houses where children live should have toys out. Organized and neat, maybe contained in one area, but out. I feel like when someone walks into my home, it’s ok if they can tell we have children. Anyway, every night before bedtime we make sure the living room and bedrooms are cleaned up so when we wake up the next day we can start fresh again! But, sometimes it can be difficult to get a toddler to clean up their toys. Shocking news, right? It’s not that he’s not a good cleaner. It’s not that he doesn’t know how to pick up toys. It’s that doing everything else in the world except cleaning up toys is far more fun at that moment in time. Until he heard two new words…TOY EATERS.

One evening as we were coaxing my three year old to clean up, I casually said, “You don’t want the toy eaters to get them!”  His ears perked up and he followed up with a giggly, “What?”

I told him that when he’s asleep, the toy eaters come and they eat any toys that aren’t cleaned up and put away. The excitement (and small bit of real concern) of it had him diligently working on getting his toys cleaned up and he went to bed knowing that his toys were safe from the toy eaters! It was almost like he was a super hero saving his toys from being eaten.

We don’t say it every day, but when he’s having a particularly difficult time getting toys cleaned up, I just remind him about the toy eaters and it works again. Occasionally, he will even bring it up when we are cleaning. Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to lie or use scare tactics to get my child to clean!” Really? Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Elf of the Shelf, the Easter Bunny, the list goes on and on. You say “lie”, I say “magic!”

*A few additional tips for getting toddlers to clean up…
1. Clean with them. If you are cleaning along side them, it helps them see a good example and they also see the job done quicker when everyone pitches in!
2. Be specific and verbalize exactly what they should clean next. If I tell my toddler to “clean up your toys” he doesn’t know where to start. If I am with him (see #1) and I tell him, “Ok, now pick up your fire truck and school bus and put them on the shelf.” He is focused on a specific task and he gets it done!
3. Make it a game! -Insert Mary Poppins singing A Spoonful of Sugar- But really, how can you make cleaning more fun? Any cart or wheel barrow that can be filled with toys is awesome! Just today, my little guy filled up his small plastic wheel barrow with his billion cars that were all over the living room and wheeled them to the bin where they belong! On his own!

Good luck getting your toddler to clean! And share any tips that work for you!

 

100 Ideas for Stocking Stuffers

WAM StockingStuffers2

Do you love stockings as much as I do? It’s pretty much our favorite part of present opening. Growing up, my family never did stockings. We were all about the presents and the stockings were just hung for decoration. When Josh and I got married, he told me how fun they were and that we had to do them and the rest is history.

We like to put a couple of regular gifts that happen to be small in size inside our stockings too, but for the most part they are filled with fun items, treats, and goodies that you can run around Walmart and find that remind you of the person it’s for. It’s not hard at all, just have fun and be creative. Although, if you don’t think you’re creative or you just want some new ideas, here’s my list of 100 stocking stuffer ideas!  *Just so you know, not everything actually fits INSIDE the stocking. We pack them good and full and some things lay outside, next to, or against them.

Here’s 100 ideas…

  1. candy
  2. magazine
  3. razor
  4. chips
  5. movie
  6. gum
  7. headphones
  8. shaving cream
  9. body wash
  10. slippers
  11. a watch
  12. a book
  13. nail polish
  14. chapstick
  15. pens
  16. cellphone case
  17. Starbucks gift card
  18. socks
  19. lotion
  20. perfume
  21. eye shadow
  22. belt
  23. toothbrush
  24. toothpaste
  25. video game
  26. crossword/sudoku book
  27. matchbox cars
  28. playing cards
  29. a necklace
  30. journal
  31. manicure set
  32. scarf
  33. sun glasses
  34. hair ties
  35. headbands
  36. cookies
  37. beef jerky
  38. fruit snacks
  39. tote bag
  40. wallet
  41. car air freshener
  42. travel mug
  43. key chain
  44. stickers
  45. action figures
  46. beanie hat
  47. earrings
  48. gloves
  49. stuffed animal
  50. fast food gift card
  51. wine
  52. energy drink
  53. mini hot sauce
  54. hand sanitizer
  55. fun bandaids
  56. vitamins
  57. candle
  58. face wash
  59. loofa
  60. shoe laces
  61. CD
  62. a tie
  63. mascara
  64. mini screwdriver set
  65. crayons
  66. coloring book
  67. candle lighter
  68. wall calendar
  69. reusable water bottle
  70. iTunes gift card
  71. nuts-peanuts/pistachios/almonds/cashews
  72. shoe inserts
  73. mini lego set
  74. USB drive
  75. pacifiers
  76. underwear
  77. snack cakes
  78. bag of ground or whole bean coffee
  79. flashlight
  80. travel tissues
  81. homemade coupons
  82. silly putty
  83. play dough
  84. travel pillow
  85. makeup bag
  86. comb/hair brush
  87. bath toys
  88. small fleece blanket
  89. granola/protein bar
  90. stylus
  91. personal planner
  92. ornament
  93. massage gift certificate
  94. electric hair trimmer
  95. batteries
  96. mouthwash
  97. picture frame
  98. kids plate/silverware/cup
  99. flash cards
  100. sports ball

Does your family do stockings? Tell me about it! If you like to include something else in stockings that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear it!  Leave a comment!

How Do You KEEP Your House Clean?

Cleaning the house is fine. I mean it can be a little bit difficult when you have children, or a dog, or a husband. But still, it’s fine. It’s the KEEPING it clean that really gets you. If you missed my post about cleaning routines you can read it here. You can also get a copy of the cleaning routine I created and {try to} use each day.

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Then I found this post from simplemost.com and it made perfect sense. The 12 Habits of People with Homes That Are Always Clean. Twelve…I guess I can try to make at least half of those work for me! Seriously, shooting for all twelve seems like I’d just be setting myself up for failure. I get it though. There are just some things that IF you can do them every day, your house stays so much neater.  I always tell my husband that cleaning and straightening are two different things. If the house is straightened up, meaning toys and clothes are put away, the sink is empty, counters are clear, etc., then it just looks and feels so much better. It’s ok if there’s some dust bunnies, but just having the “stuff” cleaned up makes a huge impact. How many of these twelve do you do?

Pamper Yourself on a Budget

WAM Pamper yourself

It can be hard to pamper yourself when you feel like you have very little time for YOU. Between working, cleaning the house, taking care of our sweet kids, taking care of our sweet husbands, making sure everyone is fed, making sure everyone has had a bath, and trying to make sure you eat dinner too, it can be nearly impossible to get a little down time. And when you are trying to stick to a budget, it gets even harder. BUT, no matter how hard you think it is, repeat after me…”I am important too and I should do things that make ME happy!”

Go ahead and say it again. Maybe a few times. I’ll wait…

OK, now that you’ve hopefully realized that you deserve to have some time to yourself, let’s talk about how we can make that happen!

First, you’ve got to make the time.  There’s never enough time in the day, we all know that, but if something is important to you, you make the time. Maybe you put the kids to bed 20 minutes earlier, maybe you wake up half an hour earlier (HA!), maybe you have everyone make their own PB&J sandwich for dinner or pick up pizza for the second time this week. There are times when you have to LET GO. Stop controlling everything and feeling like the world is going to end if your child has a bean and cheese burrito for dinner for the third night in a row. It’s OK sometimes. It all balances out.

Second, decide what you’re going to do! OK, I suppose this might need to come before you make time for it, but now that you’ve made this time for it, here is where you get to start doing it!

Here’s some ideas for what IT could be. Remember, these are budget friendly ideas. Sure, you could spend a lot and go to the spa for the day or go on a shopping spree, but we’re talking a little smaller scale right now. Something you could do with a smaller amount of time and money.

  1. Take a bath– Never a bad idea-Add some bubbles and make sure the door is locked and the music is drowning out everything else! Wine is optional.
  2. Buy a magazine and relax while reading it– To me, this is splurge. I rarely read magazines other than on airplanes or something, so it’s exciting to purchase one that looks fun and get lost in pages of things like fashion, makeup, and home decor!
  3. Paint you nails– If you’ve never used the Sally Hansen gel polish, it’s amazing! I can paint my nails in ten minutes and they are completely dry! Plus, they don’t chip off the next day, because let’s be honest, I’m not going to give up precious free time during naps to paint my nails and have it chipping off the very next day. I always feel “put together” and fancy when I have painted nails. You’d think I’d do it more.
  4. Invite a friend over to chat over coffee or drinks or to watch a TV show or movie. Let your family know you are off limits (or send them to grandma’s house) and enjoy talking about characters and plots like you’re back in high school.
  5. Go swimming ALONE. The idea of not having to keep an eye on little ones around the pool can be relaxing all by itself. Get a nice cold drink in your hand, some music, and you’ve turned the idea of a relaxing bath into more of a beach getaway!
  6. Get a FREE makeover at a beauty counter- Make an appointment at your favorite department store at any of the beauty counters you choose and walk away feeling like a new woman! Pair this with a date night and you’re all set!
  7. Subscribe to a monthly beauty package.- Ipsy and Birchbox are two good options. For only around $10 a month, you’ll get a package delivered to your door with great new beauty products to try and fall in love with! Plus, as you use the new products, you’ll be pampering yourself throughout the month!
  8. Ask for samples– Now don’t hold me to this because I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I read something that said Sephora will give you a sample of ANY product in their store if you ask. You could find a great new eye shadow or lipstick and give it a try for free! What a great way to brighten up a Tuesday, or get glammed up for a night out.
  9. Ask for gift certificates– When it comes to “stuff” we’ve all got plenty. When someone asks you what you’re wanting for your birthday, Mother’s Day, or Christmas, don’t be afraid to tell them about that pedicure or massage you’ve been thinking about. You don’t get what you don’t ask for!
  10. Go anywhere with a friend.- Spending time with friends is fun and automatically makes me feel refreshed and ready to get back to “wife mode” or “mommy mode.” You could go for a walk, go grocery shopping together, meet at Starbucks or for FroYo, even just walk around Target. No matter what you’re doing, it’ll be fun!

Happy pampering!

What other ideas do you have? Do share!

Never Break Plans with a Stay At Home Mom

Never, ever break plans with a stay at home mom.

Moms who stay at home each day with their children do not get the chance to have adult conversations for the greater part of the day. They never get to discuss the latest world news, or gossip about their favorite shows…ha ha, just kidding, they don’t have time to watch anything other than Curious George and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! But still, the point is that the conversations their days are filled with are usually about how exciting it was to see a lizard in the backyard and whose body that noise came from.

If she’s got plans to meet you for dinner, fro yo, at the gym, maybe you’re supposed to stop by after work, whatever it might be, don’t flake out on her unless you absolutely have to! Something you may be fine with postponing to the following week might be something she has been looking forward to for days. Not just looking forward to, but counting on. Life gets busy, I get that, I really do. But just make sure you can’t shuffle some other things around before you up and cancel your plans.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stay at home moms are some fragile butterflies that you have to treat as if they’ll cry at the drop of a hat, although postpartum hormones can sneak up and they might. All I’m saying is that I guarantee she’s been waiting for that time of adult interaction like a child waiting for Christmas morning. It’ll be as if she’s going on a first date…I can’t wait until tomorrow night! I think I’ll wear that new shirt I bought two months ago and still haven’t gotten to wear! Should I shave my legs? It sounds ridiculous and yet it’s completely true!

So if you’re a forgetful person, get a planner, set an alarm on your phone, write it on your arm, write it on your forehead, but be there. If you lead a glamorously busy life, make your friends who miss you (because I promise you, they miss you. They miss talking to anyone who is old enough to vote.) a priority.

And don’t forget: When you do meet up with them, don’t be surprised when they offer you hand sanitizer or ask you if you need to go potty before your meal comes! Just say yes and “try” anyway!

Now text your favorite stay at home mom and let them know you’re thinking of them. And maybe bring them wine…lots of wine.

Breastfeeding 101

WAM Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding the second time around has been completely different than what I experienced as a newbie.  Not only did it just seem easier, but I now know what works and what I can live without.

The MOST important thing to remember when it comes to breastfeeding is that it’s OK if you can’t or don’t do it. All too often, a mom gets her heart set on breastfeeding, and then it just doesn’t work out for any number of reasons. After wanting so badly to successfully breastfeed your baby, and trying so hard, just know that the first time you give your baby formula, you will cry. You will feel defeated. You will feel like you can’t provide for your own baby. Wrong. You are providing for your baby by giving them the nutrients they need. Once you realize that it is completely alright for you to feed your baby formula, you will begin to feel much better. Whether it be breastmilk or formula, you are feeding your baby in the best way you can and you have to do what will work for you.

With that said, here’s what I’ve learned about boob to baby feeding…

  1. It hurts at first. I’ve had a few people tell me that it never once hurt for them. Ok. Just not the case for me, so this is worth sharing. For about the first month, every single time your baby latches on, you’ll think, “OW, OW, OW, OW, OW!” And then after about five seconds, baby is suckling nicely with a deep latch and everything is great. But those first few seconds, man…painful! Think of it as an intense workout for your nipples. You’ll be sore, but the more you do it, the more in shape they become.
  2. Drinking a ton of water makes an unbelievable difference in your milk production! The first time around, I was working all day and never made myself drink enough water. Like, not even close. The end of the day would roll around and I wouldn’t have even finished half of my water cup. NOT OK! If you drink a ton of water throughout the day and especially before bed, you will definitely increase your milk supply. Getting good rest helps production too, but let’s be real, who is getting good rest with a newborn!?
  3. If you’re a working mom, PUMP, PUMP, PUMP! With my first little guy I was still teaching. The school day isn’t all that long, so I assumed I could pump once before lunch and that would be enough. WRONG! I would feed Mason before we left the house, then pump in the late morning, and then I would feed him again when I picked him up around 4 or 5pm. I was thinking, “He can go 4 hours between feedings, so I really only need to pump once during the day. If your baby is not eating from you, you should pump more like every three hours. Every time your nipples get that stimulation to get the milk flowing, it encourages more milk production. After a few months, I would only get 2 ounces when I would pump. That’s not nearly enough to cover a feeding, not to mention wanting to build up a freezer supply. It began to feel like it wasn’t even worth it to go through the process to get so little. *Enter: supplementing with formula and the tears that came along with it. I should have been pumping WAY more to ensure my milk supply stayed where I needed it to be. Whether working or not, I highly recommend pumping every morning, about 30 minutes after you feed your baby. This is what I am doing now and I have created a great freezer supply! Or as I like to call it, “liquid freedom.”
  4. Get a GOOD pump. I’ve had numerous friends tell me they had problems with maintaining a good milk supply because their pump just wasn’t doing what it should have. Saving the extra money isn’t worth it. Just think how much you’ll save by not buying formula! Check into what your insurance covers too. After doing research and asking friends, my top choice for a quality breast pump is Medela. The Pump In Style Advanced (see photo below) comes with everything you need in a handy black tote bag or backpack. I could discreetly grab my backpack and no one questioned a thing. Check into them. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.Backpack_Front_500x500
  5. There’s plenty of great items out there to help with sore nipples. My favorite is the Medela Tender Care Lanolin. I use it a lot at the beginning, after every feeding, but then I gradually move to just putting it on before bed. However, the BEST, and when I say best, I mean THE BEST thing you can put on your nipples to soothe them is your breastmilk! At first it’s a little bit like, “um,what?” But it’s sooooo nice. I would keep a small little container of expressed breastmilk in the fridge and after a feeding, just dip your finger in and apply it to your sore nipples. It’s cold, you don’t have to rub it in, and it heals them and helps soothe so much quicker than the other stuff. Oh, and it’s free!
  6. There’s no hunger like breastfeeding hunger! Or thirst for that matter. Before you sit down to feed your baby, get a nice big cup of water. I’m a lover of Tervis cups (if you aren’t familiar, please google them. They’re amazing!) so with my first round of breastfeeding, when I was at home I would have this cup filled with ice water by my side at all times. As soon as your baby latches on, it’s as if your boobs are directly linked to your thirst indicator and the light goes off. It’s nuts, but happens every time. Also, do yourself a favor and get some healthy little snacks you can keep handy such as almonds, yogurt, granola bars, peanut butter. When you wake up in the middle of then night to feed, the hunger that sneaks up on you can be crazy! Keep those snacks by your bed or wherever you do nighttime feedings. You’ll be much happier to be awake at 3am with your bundle of joy if you’re munching away on something delicious and sipping nice cool water.
  7. I never found nursing pillows to be convenient or comfortable. They never fit on my lap the way they should. They were often too thick and made my baby too high up. Both times, I preferred to use a regular standard pillow. It’s big enough that it can lay across your entire lap and support your baby’s whole body, even when they begin to grow. You can go to Target or Walmart and get a couple of pillows for just a few bucks. Grab some cute pillowcases while you’re there and you’re set! You just saved a ton of money. Plus, when your baby spits up or poops on the pillow, (because it WILL happen) you can grab a new pillow or pillowcase easily.
  8. Try feeding your baby in different positions. When you find the ones that work for you, stick with them! When baby seems fussy, try a different one. It sounds simple, but when a baby is crying and not latching on, it can be easy to forget this. Turn them every which way until they seem comfortable and can get a good latch. And try to be patient.
  9. The last thing I’ll say is that breastfeeding is not for wimps! A breastfeeding mom makes many sacrifices and it takes a lot of discipline to do everything involved. The pain, the pumping, getting up early, staying up late to wash and sanitize all your pump things, engorged boobies, mastitis, and the list goes on. So why do people do it? Because it can be so rewarding. The extra snuggle and bonding time, the fact that it’s FREE, the nutrients you pass to your growing baby, the fact that it helps you drop baby weight quicker!, and many more.

I could go on and on. I’ll plan on another post soon about nursing covers and tips for nursing in public.

I’d love to hear any tips you have about breastfeeding.  Also, are there any questions you have about it? Leave a comment and ask! I’d love to chat about it!

How to Make a Woman Smile

WAMmakeawomansmile

I reached out and asked the experts a very important question:

“What does your significant other do for you that brings a smile to your face?”

These are some of their responses.

Ladies, feel free to bookmark this page, email it to your husband, boyfriend, boss (Just kidding! That’s probably not a good idea!), or print it and highlight your favorites, tape it to the TV, leave it on the table, you get the idea.

MEN, keep this list and read it often! Unless you like being married to, dating, or living with a woman who never gets any of this treatment. If that’s the case, I’d have to say, good luck. These are things most women will just love. These gestures will remind the lady in your life why they chose you! Some are big, some are small, many are FREE! All are worth it to see your honey smile. You don’t need to do all of them, all the time. Just use it as a guide. Also, please be aware, it is not romantic to print this list and ask your wife or girlfriend (hopefully you don’t have both) to “pick a couple.” Do them on your own and surprise her, man!

Here you go…

  • kiss her hello
  • clean something without her asking
  • bring her flowers
  • write her a {nice} note and leave it somewhere for her to find
  • dance with her, even when there’s no music
  • kiss her nose or forehead
  • unload the dishwasher
  • tell her that her hair looks nice
  • compliment her on a meal she made
  • wake up before her and make her coffee
  • compliment her on how great of a mom she is
  • cook her dinner
  • tell her she’s smart
  • bring her a little treat from the store or a trip you take so she knows you were thinking of her
  • get up with the baby/children and let her sleep
  • wash her car
  • spoil her diet (every once in a while) with treats you know she’ll love
  • text her during the day, just to say you miss her
  • remember the brands or items she likes
  • say nice things about her to others
  • say nice things about her to your children
  • tell her she’s beautiful, especially when she may not feel like it
  • kiss her goodbye
  • remember dates like her birthday and your anniversary
  • buy or make her a card for no reason
  • let her pick the movie
  • let her pick out your outfit once in a while
  • surprise her for lunch
  • try new things
  • get along with her family
  • get her car door  get every door, all the time
  • hug her tight
  • let her pick the music
  • send her articles or pictures (not THOSE kind!) you think she’d like
  • ask her how her day was
  • give her a massage
  • draw her a bath
  • tell her you appreciate all she does for you

Is there anything you would add to the list?  And ladies, don’t forget…you can do most of these for your guy, too!

Now go out there and start making those smiles happen!