Fall Activities

I know I have mentioned that October is the beginning of my favorite time of year.  There are so many awesome things that you can do as a family to make memories.  Here are some of my favorite things to do.

  • Yard cleanup as a family – raking and playing in the leaves.  A necessary evil that needs to get done
  • Apple picking – After my first nephew was born, we would go apple picking yearly. We haven’t done it in a couple of years, but definitely one of my favorite things to do.
  • Pumpkin patches – there are so many cool pumpkin patches out there.  They have a lot of activities for the kids, usually an assortment of crafts and lots and lots of pumpkins.
  • Halloween decorations – if you know me then you know I love to decorate for the holidays.  There are so many cute things you can do, make or buy to get yourself and your home into the holiday spirit.
  • Trick or treating – As a child, my sisters and I usually took this very seriously.  We barely got Mayson to dress up last year, and I think he went to a total of 4 houses.  I hope this year will be different.
  • Carve pumpkins – We haven’t even done this with Mayson yet and I am sure he would really enjoy it!
  • Roast pumpkin seeds – Yum!

Fall is one of our favorite time of year.  There are so many things that you can do as a family together that don’t require a lot of money or effort.  Even going on walks and exploring different leaves and the trees changing colors.  The cooler weather is a great reminder of the cold weather that is coming, so take advantage by wearing a sweatshirt and sweater!

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Baby Essentials

Over the years baby products have changed a lot.  There were a lot of items we felt we needed for Mayson, and being inexperienced parents, there were a lot of things we got.  Now that we are coming up to baby number three, we have our tried and true items that are hand me downs, and we have items we ended up buying new for this baby.  So what makes a baby item and essential one and not something that will just end up collecting dust?  I think a lot has to do with where you plan on having baby sleep, where you plan on spending a lot of time, and weather or not you plan on breastfeed/pumping or formula feeding.  I think you have to decide how much work you want to put into something – make your own baby food?

I think a common mistake people make is to open all gifts immediately.  There are always going to be items you don’t end up using and if you don’t open or take off tags immediately, you can always return or exchange them for other things.

How much money do you invest in something?  There are items babies grow out of so quickly or do not even enjoy using.  Are you going to invest a lot of money into something that doesn’t get used?  There are some items that are definitely worth putting the extra money into, especially if you plan on having more than one child.

When our babies come home from the hospital, they sleep in our room for six weeks.  We were gifted a sidecar crib that attaches to the side of our bed.  We loved it with our first two, and will be using it again with the next one.  Does it need to be attached to our bed?  No, but the thought is, with breastfeeding, they are pretty much right in the bed with you.  Would a separate cradle or pack and play work?  Absolutely.  With our new baby coming, we invested in a little crib that actually fits between where Ty and I sleep.

Burrito wraps.  Our first baby lived in these.  Our second child hated being swaddled.  What will the third want?  Who know, but I definitely think investing in 1 is a good idea especially if you end up having a kid that loves to be swaddled and startles easily from their own movement while sleeping.

We have always had vibrating chairs for the new baby but actually invested in some MomaRoos this time around.  We got both of them at great prices and we can keep one upstairs and one downstairs.  We will continue to use the car seat and high chair that we currently have.  We have slowly upgraded our strollers to accommodate more kids and to adjust to older or younger ones.  Local mom selling sites are great ways to find gently used baby things that are a lot less expensive.

To us, our useless list included bottle warmers, sanitizers and diaper genies.  We have always been fine with using alternative ways to to heat and sanitize, and I found it saved my sanity by having less appliances to clutter my counters with.

I think bottle brand preference is baby and parent specific.  Some babies do better on some bottle brands then others.  We invested in Tommee Tippee for Jackson and found that we never liked it.  We used Playtex bottles with Mayson and stuck with Medela bottles for Jackson.  Our hope is to use the Medela bottles for the new baby, since that is what I pump into, but only time with tell.

As far as diapers and wipes, we prefer Target Up&Up brand diapers and Pampers brand wipes.  The wipes are something we’ve settled on, for years we’ve used both Target and Walmart brand wipes.  We really liked Water Wipes but couldn’t justify the cost.  There are all natural brands like the Honest Company and going 100% cloth diapering.

When it comes to babies and everything available, there are so many options that it becomes overwhelming.  Things that may work on one baby may not work on another.  Finding what works for your family may be a  game of chance.  My suggestion is to not go overboard, save things that could potential be returned or exchanged, and find ways to cut costs.  Buying used, clearance or with coupons is a great way to  shop for baby goods.

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DIY- Making your own Laundry Detergent

For about a year and a half, I started making my own laundry detergent.  At first Ty was skeptical about how the clothes would feel and smell.  After making my first batch, we realized our clothes were just as soft and smelled just as great as before.  The product lasted a long time, it smelled good, was HE washer safe and saved a lot of money.

We ended up switching to a newborn detergent when Jackson was coming and we actually have been using since.  Once the new baby’s skin has been acclimated to the world, we will probably switch back.  If you are interested in making your own detergent, I have the perfect recipe!

The best part about homemade detergent is that it can make a really great thoughtful gift.  If you package it in a cute container, it would make a great housewarming gift or gift to someone going off to college!

Recipe:

1. One 12oz box of Borax

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2. Three bars of Fels-Naptha soap

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3. One 4 pound box of Arm & Hammer baking soda

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4. One box of Arm & Hammer super washing soda

 

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5. Four pounds of Oxy Clean

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6. Laundry softener cyrstals for scent. I prefer the Gain brand

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Directions:

To Mix the recipe:
1. Grate the Fels-Naptha bars into a bowl
2. Dump Fels-Naptha into a large container
3. Mix all other ingredients into the bucket & shake it all up together.
4. Place into container of your choice!

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Pretty simple recipe and it lasts forever!  It is safe to use in the HE washer and all you need is to add 2 tablespoons per load at the bottom of the washer!  Feel free to use dryer sheets or your own version of fabric softener, but we have never felt like we needed them.

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October To-Do list

Oh my gosh, it is my favorite time of year.  I am so in love with October through April.  I know a lot of people suffer from depression in the winter time.  I am not one of those people.  This is my season!  I love the cooler weather, the holidays, the decorations and the snow.  People think I am crazy, but I am more likely to get depressed in the summer.  So here is my October to-do list.

  • Pack my hospital bags – less then 6 days before this baby is here!
  • Write up extra blogs – that way I can still entertain you while I am out
  • I want to write up a couple of letters to my boys
  • Deep clean and organize the house from top to bottom.
  • Decorate for fall – do I even need to list this?  Its probably already done
  • Carve a pumpkin with the kids
  • Roast pumpkin seeds
  • Get Halloween costumes and candy
  • Visit a pumpkin patch
  • Home maintenance
    • Replace air filters
    • Check weather stripping/thresholds
    • Clean gutters
    • Rake Leaves
    • Winterize gas lawn equipment
  • Spend time with family – life is very short and we should cherish our time spent with our loved ones

I am sure there are more things that I need to get done, but for now I have a lot to do!

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8 Questions for better conversations

Here is a fun post!

 

What make you feel most alive?

There are a few things that make me feel alive – when we are doing something fun as a family like going to the splash pad, going on walks, playing games, or just eating dinner together.  When I spend quality time with Ty – we have great conversations, we laugh.  When my house is clean – I’m not stressed, I feel organized and its a great feeling

Have you ever cried in Public?

Have you ever met me??  I am an emotional person for sure.  I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad.  I cry when I voice my opinion and stick up for my family or my beliefs.  I don’t think its a bad thing, however it can be very difficult for me not to cry when I am trying to stand firm with my beliefs. Then again, I have been pregnant 3 times in the past 3 years, so hormones may definitely play there part.

Do you read the reviews before you see the movie?

Yes and no.  If I am not that interested in seeing the movie, I’ll review it.  If its a movie I really want to see, I don’t care about the reviews.  We don’t go to the movies often, and when we do, we are usually sneaking in a movie during the day, so whichever movie is playing at the time we are available is usually the movie we go see.

Do I say sherbet or sherbert?

I’ll be honest, I don’t really use this word often, but I guess I would say sherbert?

Have I ever had a paranormal experience?

Maybe?  I believe things like that can happen, but I guess not really to me.  I’ve seen orbs in pictures at my mother in laws kitchen table.  I’ve seen my oldest son interact with someone?  I don’t know to be honest!

What do you get from the ice cream truck?

As a kid it would have been a push-pop.  Today, I don’t even know what they offer.  Maybe a Choco-Taco?  Do they still make those?

What was your high school gym teacher life?

The one that comes to mind was also the football coach.  He didn’t like me very much because I was dating one of his football players and he thought girlfriends distracted them.  He wasn’t very nice.

How do you feel about cilantro?

Cilantro is okay.  I like it in guacamole and salsa but otherwise I’m not a huge fan!

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22 Facts about me!

Here are 22 facts you may or may not have known about me, in no particular order

  1. I love my family with all my heart
  2. I’m a very emotional person
  3. I have very few friends
  4. I’m extremely introverted and self conscious
  5. I’m scared to have 3 boys age 3 and younger
  6. I’m impatient
  7. I work very hard
  8. I’m OCD about most things, but my closet is always a mess
  9. I love to give, especially to our family
  10. I’m married to my best friend and the love of my life
  11. I’m addicted to Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Teen Mom
  12. I’m not very good at sticking up for myself or fighting for the right thing
  13. I absolutely love watching my husband be the most amazing dad to our kids
  14. I’m a middle child and suffered from the symptoms greatly
  15. I am extremely appreciative of my husband and all of his support, but know I don’t tell him as often as I should
  16. I was an extra in 3 different movies, including Home Alone 2, Dennis the Menace and Groundhog Day
  17. My first car was a 1988 Chevy Suburban
  18. I won an award for excellence in biological research for work I did on neurological tissue
  19. I love being sarcastic and making people laugh
  20. I love being creative and artistic although my sister got those genes
  21. Our baby who is due in October will have 10 older cousins.  He will be grand baby number 6 on my parents side and number 8 on Ty’s side
  22. I have the most amazing family who supports everything I do – 2 sets of loving parents, the most amazing sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles, and I am truly very lucky.

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Update: 5 ways to save money

It’s been over a month since we implemented 5 different things our family is going to do to help save money, I decided to do a follow up post.  We have had great success with implementing and following the rules we set up to try to save money.  I even had my sister write a guest piece on how to knit up some simple rags to use instead of using so many paper towels.  Ty has been taking his lunches to work daily, we have been shopping generic first and we have been conscious of turning lights off when we are not in the room! So here we go again, more cost saving sacrifices we are going to make to help our family save money.

  1. Make our own snacks.  Now that Ty is taking his lunch to work everyday and we are eating out less, snacks have been a big budget waster when it comes to grocery shopping.  So I am going to start making some of our snacks.  Mini muffins, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, fruit snacks and even bread.
  2. Coffee.  Ty could drink coffee made from the same coffee grounds that we used yesterday.  He is not picky at all when it comes to coffee.  I, however have a brand of coffee I love.  But its expensive.  To help save money and still enjoy the coffee I love, I will mix half and half with store brand generic columbian coffee.
  3. Ty has also made an adjustment to his work schedule.  By increasing his time at work a little bit everyday, he will now get to enjoy every other Friday off of work.  The benefit of this, besides spending more time with him, is saving money on commuting to work another day.
  4. Pay cash only.  This pertains to grocery shopping and any major purchases.  Cash only so you don’t overspend and you don’t use credit.
  5. We are going to dedicate one meal a night to a cupboard clean out.  This means that we have to find something in our cabinets and make it work.  This will help us to use things before they expire and go to waste.

 

Thats it for this month! Do you or your family do anything regularly to help save money?  I’d love to hear what you guys do and perhaps it will inspire us for some more things that we can do as well!

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Meal Planning Monday

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Monday already?  The weekends are flying by!  Only 16 more days until baby Barr number 3 is here .  The meals this week are easy, but seem delicious.  We will be experiencing a lot of cooler weather this week, so I think the option of having two different soups is going to be great.

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Last week we had ready good success with the Mini-Meatloaf Pepper Rings – they didn’t last long at our house.  The Cuban Picadillo was also delicious.  There was 1 left and I had it the next day for lunch and it was delicious as leftovers too.

Hope everyone has a great week and look out for some pretty great blogs being published!

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The top 5 blogs/people I follow

There are so many blogs and people on the internet that provide information, helpful tips and advice and ideas.  With the overabundance of information that is out there, I wanted to list my favorite ones that I find the most motivation from.  A successful blogger or motivator is someone that people really feel they can relate to and benefit from.  Here is a list of my top 5 people or blogs I follow and why you should follow them too.

  1. Moneysavingmom.com – This is probably my favorite blog to follow.  She is a minimalist, she loves to save money, she is organized and kind.  She has a lot of great information on her blog and website.  She has also written a great book called “Say Goodbye To Survival Mode”.  Its a great book and I just ordered another one of her books.
  2. Passionatepennypincher.com – This is a great website for finding some deals at different stores.  She is all about trying to get the most for your money.
  3. Homestoragesolutions.com – I’ve definitely mentioned this blog/website quite a few times in my posts.  She is the organizational queen and I strive to make sure I do her daily organization activities.
  4. Dale Partridge – I just recently found out about Dale.  He is a young millionaire with a great deal of advise on family and business.  He posts  amazing, insightful wisdom and provides a great deal of advice for business.
  5. Dave Ramsey – I am sure you have heard of Dave.  I am new to him, but I am trying to incorporate his advice and wisdom in regards to debt, budgeting and savings.  I just recently ordered his book as well, and I can’t wait to read it!

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Guest Post: How to Knit a Simple Rag

After I posted “5 Things we are going to do to save money” I spoke with my extremely talented and creative sister Jessica about doing a guest post.  Since one of the ways I planned on saving money was to use less paper towels and utilize rags more, I knew Jessica would be able to come up with something.  Jessica is a knitting genius and she offered to come up with a simple tutorial for knitting up some rags to use.  The best part is, its pretty easy, even for a beginner!

Guest Post from Jessica

There are hundreds of knitting patterns for dish cloths, and with good reason. Dish cloths are small, quick to make, great for the beginner and experienced knitter alike.  Dish cloths are a great vehicle for practicing or becoming more proficient in a new stitch.  When finished, the end product is useful and lasts for a long time. Which brings me to the next point, they are very economical, one skein should get you at least two cloths.  They are great for both kitchen and bath, are super absorbent, wash up wonderfully, and last for years. If a bigger cloth is needed, just continue the increases until the desired size is achieved. Happy knitting!

Materials:

One skein 100% cotton yarn. Like Peaches and Cream.

Size 7 knitting needles

This pattern is designed with the assumption that basic knitting skills are known, cast on, knitting, make 1, knit two together, and bind off. There are many great tutorials out there to assist if needed. You don’t have to be great at cast owns or bind offs, there are only four of each.

Cast on 4 stitches:

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Row 1: knit across

Row 2: Knit 2, make 1 stitch, knit to the end

Repeat row 2 until there are 44 stitches total

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Next two rows:  knit across.

Next row:  knit 1, knit two together, knit until the end

Continue this row until only 4 stitches are left, turn and bind off

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Weave in ends and it’s all done!

Jessica King is a stay at home mom and knitting queen!  She is truly talented when it comes to the projects she makes and things she knits.  She lives in Cary, Illinois with her husband and two sons.  She graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from The Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.  She can be reached at mamazoya28@yahoo.com.

Here are my finished dish rags!

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