Friday, April 27, 2012

Responsibility Chart

My Magnetic Responsibility Chart





















My daughter Grace is 4 and will be 5 in September. I wanted to find a great reward system for when she completed her daily goals. I made my own chart once and you certainly can do that, however, I found this Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart to be bright, colorful and exactly what she needs.




The Chart is $19.99 and it comes with 90 magnets, including responsibilities, positive behaviors and rewards. You can keep all of the reward magnets and extra goals on the bottom dry-erase board or you can use it for whatever you'd like.

At the end of each day we take Grace over to the board and we discuss if she met each individual goal for that day and what she needs to work on. If she met her goal, then she gets to put a reward magnet next to the goal for that day. At the end of the week she receives an additional reward for the number of reward magnets she received.

She can "cash in" her reward magnets for small prizes, treats, movie time, an outing with Mommy or Daddy or anything else that we decide to make a reward for that week.





















She loves it, and we love that she is excited about her responsibilities. It's also a great reminder to her when she may not be behaving like we'd like. I'll remind her what her chart says and she usually corrects the behavior. Sometimes it's just a lot of praise. (We don't want her to think that the only reason for behaving or using manners is so she can get something).


The Daily Dish: Low Carb "Heroin" Wings 
Click Here For Recipe


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stretch Your Shoes!

From Ouch To Ahh!
So I purchased a pair of pumps online, and when I took them out of the box and tried them on, I could barely fit my foot in them. I wear a 7 1/2 in just about every shoe on the market, but these felt like a 7.

I hate sending things back, so I looked up a way to stretch them. I'm happy to report that it worked!

This is the freezing method for stretching your shoes. It works because when water freezes, it expands and the frozen water is what stretches your shoes.

I did this 2 times until I felt they were at the right comfort level for me. It may only take you once, or it may take you more. You'll have to try and see.

Here's how you do it:
I've read that you can do this with just about any shoe. I've also read that real leather tends to shrink back so you may want to repeat a few times. There is also a heating method you could try that uses thick socks, a hairdryer and leather conditioner. 

Take a Ziploc sandwich bag and fill it 1/4-1/3 full with water and seal.

Put the water-filled Ziploc down into the toe area of your shoes.

Put your shoes in the freezer and leave them there until the water is completely frozen.
I left mine for 3-4 hours...right next to the Eggo's lol
Side note: Make sure you tell your husband or roommate that you're doing this or they may think you've lost it. :) 

Take your shoes out and let them thaw for about 20 minutes, or until you can remove the ice.


I tried on my shoes and they were still just a bit too snug for my liking, so I did the whole process again.
After the second time they fit like a glove.
The Daily Dish: Buffalo Chicken Mac And Cheese
Click Here For Recipe


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Elevator Button Panel

Going Up? 


Grace is always pretending to use closets as elevators, so I wanted her to have a pretend elevator button panel so she could have fun pushing the buttons.

This is not only fun for her, but she can work on her number recognition skills at the same time. I'll ask her questions like "If you are on the 6th floor and you need to get to the 12th floor, which way do you go..up or down? What floors do you pass along the way?"

This was a simple panel made out of items that are found around the house or are easily attainable for not a lot of money.



Here's how you make this elevator button panel:

What you'll need:
1. Large Wiggle Eyes (aka googly eyes)
2. 1" Round labels
3. Cardboard 
4. Scissors (to cut cardboard if needed)
5. Marker
6. Glue for the wiggle eyes (I used scrapbook glue because that's what I found in the drawer)
7. Sticky tack or a wall safe tape.

1. Cut cardboard into a rectangle
2. Glue the wiggle eyes onto the cardboard

3. Write the numbers onto the labels

4. Stick the numbers onto the wiggle eyes (make sure to put the 1 at the bottom and go up)

5. Stick onto a wall or door and have fun! 



The Daily Dish: Iced Coffee Frappe with Cotton Candy
Click Here For Recipe

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Sun Catcher Fun

Contact Paper Butterfly Sun Catcher

My daughter Grace had so much fun making Easter Sun Catchers that I decided she should make a pretty Spring butterfly as well.

In hindsight, I think I should have used darker construction paper for the outline of the butterfly. I used a white, speckled paper and the light shines through a little. Not a huge deal though.

Here is how you make this butterfly:





What you'll need: 
  1. Construction paper
  2. Scissors
  3. Pencil 
  4. Contact paper
  5. Tissue paper cut into small squares (or any shape you like)

 6. Fold your construction paper in half
7. Draw half of a butterfly onto the paper

 8. Cut out butterfly
9. Draw a line about a half inch in to make the holes for the wings

10. While paper is still folded, cut out the inner sections of the wings
11. Unfold

12. Lay down a sheet of contact paper with the sticky side facing up
13. Lay butterfly onto the contact paper with your tracing marks facing up
14. Have your child put the tissue paper shapes all over the inside of the wings
15. Lay a new sheet of contact paper over the butterfly, sticky side down
16. Cut out butterfly


17. (Optional) I added two small googly eyes and a smile
18. Hang in a sunny window and enjoy!





 I am loving my new Pop Of Chic Giselle Earrings.
Everything on her site is fabulous and the prices are even better.
Like her on Facebook so you don't miss out on any deals! 

The Daily Dish: Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie Sticks


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Dukan Diet

Yes, The Dukan Diet Really Works!

Click Here For Purchase Info.

So I stared the Dukan Diet for the 2nd time this past Monday. Now, this is by no means an easy diet, but I will tell you that it works!  My favorite part about this diet is that I don't feel like I'm starving all the time, as I can eat as much protein and certain vegetables as I want. The last time I went on this diet, I quickly shed 7 pounds, taking me from 135 to 128. (I am 5'6..on a good day lol). Since stopping I have only gained back 2 pounds.

So how does the Dukan Diet work? Here's the diet described by Cosmopolitan.com:

Step 1: The Attack Phase
The initial phase of the plan limits food to just one of three food groups—protein. Though no food except egg whites is pure protein, you should aim to consume snacks and meals that are made up of foods whose composition is as close as possible to pure protein. Think: lean meats, fish, other seafood, poultry, and nonfat dairy products.
Dukan claims this is easy for everyone—even the most diet averse people—to follow because protein keeps you so full. Remain in this phase for 1 to seven days, depending on how much weight you want to shed. Because I only want to lose 5-8 pounds, I only need to do 1 day of the attack phase.

Step 2: The Cruise Phase
Now, start to alternate the protein-heavy stage with the same diet plus any green or cooked vegetables—all you can eat. Go back and forth daily between the two, a move that Dukan claims helps to burn up a ton of calories. There's no special breakdown of protein and veggies on the alternating days; just eat whichever you're craving and in whatever combination you prefer.
Stick to this stage until your target weight is reached, probably about five days for every pound you want to drop. It may sound like a drag, but Dukan swears that since you can eat as much as you want, satisfaction through quantity makes up for any lack of variety.

Step 3: The Consolation Phase
This is also known as the soothing phase and yes, it's as good as it sounds. You add two slices of bread and one portion of fruit and cheese to your daily diet, along with two servings of carbs and two "celebration" meals a week.
For every pound you lost, stick to this third step for five days. So if you dropped five pounds during the prior steps, you'd stay in the Consolation Phase for 25 days. Why so long? Dukan explains that the most common reasons people fail to keep off just-lost weight is that they reintroduce heavy foods in too quickly. Easing your body back into a more normal eating plan will help you from having all that hard work go to waste.

Step 4: The Permanent Stabilization Phase
Go back to eating a varied, yummy, not rigid, pretty-much-whatever-you-want-but-still-healthy diet without putting too much thought into it. Except for one day a week. For that one day, return to the Attack Phase.

This diet is pretty similar to Adkins, however you add Oat Bran to your diet and can only eat lean meat instead of fatty meats. You slowly add carbs back into your diet so you don't gain all the weight back once you stop.

Will I stay on the exact course forever....most likely not, but throwing in pure protein days definitely helps your body to shed those unwanted pounds. I'm a HUGE bread and pasta fan, so cutting them out is certainly difficult for me, but after a week or so, I promise it gets much much easier to say NO to them :)

Here's a link with even more info about the diet, and you can always search it on YouTube as well. I bought the ebook off Amazon and downloaded it to my mac.

I'll try to keep you all posted on if I make it to my goal weight or not :)

***Of course with any diet, please make sure your doctor says you are healthy enough to begin a diet like this.


***UPDATE 5/4/2012***
So after 18 days on the Dukan Diet (and I also use my elliptical 20-30 minutes each day) I have met my goal weight (I wanted to lose 10 pounds and I have)! I am feeling great and getting toned and that is what I really wanted to get out of the whole diet. Since I've met my goal weight, I'll probably stay in the Cruise Phase for another week or so (by choice) and then I'll hit the Consolation Phase where I'll start adding bread, fruit and cheese to my daily diet. I'll also be adding two servings of carbs and two "celebration" meals a week. :)

I haven't been this weight since I was in high school, so "naturally" I got my senior prom dress out of storage and tried it on. I'm happy to report that not only did it fit, but it was a little roomy as well! What mother of 3 (and I just had twins 20 months ago) wouldn't be thrilled to fit into her senior prom dress?!?!?!  I'll admit I wore it for about an hour before I sadly took it off lol.





















Ok, since I've had some people ask: Here is my 2001 Prom pic. (Always scary to break these out lol).






















***Update:
 
















The Daily Dish: Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" 
Click Here For Recipe





Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Favorite Baby And Toddler Products

My Favorite Baby/Toddler Items

I'm the mother of 3 (a little girl and twin boys). Now I know there are thousands of baby/toddler products out there, and I'm sure I don't know about them all, but here are a few that I own or would like to own and my thoughts about them. (They are in no particular order)

1. Clouds and Stars Quickzip Crib Sheet Starter Set & Sheets

Click Here For More Info.
I HATE wrestling with crib mattresses/bumper pads when I'm trying to change the sheets. I have two cribs to change too so it's doubly bad. Well no more! The Clouds and Stars Quickzip Crib Sheet Started Set and Sheets are one of my favorites! Just zip off the old sheet and zip on a clean one. Easy peasy!

If you go to Diapers.com and enter the code AMC90001 at checkout, you can receive $10 off your first order of $49 or more (If it's your first time to Diapers.com). 


I'm a HUGE Diapers.com fan. They have basically every baby/maternity/new mommy item you can imagine and some great deals. Plus, if you spend over $49, you get FREE 2-day delivery. I almost always get my stuff the next day which is awesome! I've bought cases of organic baby food, diapers, wipes, shoes, clothing, shampoos, Desitin, toys, breastfeeding supplies...basically everything.


 2. Summer Infant Kiddopotamus Swaddle Me Cotton Knit
Click Here For More Info. 






I think with my daughter I gave up trying to swaddle her too early. I swaddled the boys in this great Velcro swaddle blanket and they slept so much better than if they were not swaddled. Plus, I have twins, so swaddling them helped keep them from hitting each other in the face. 


They have different sizes as well, and you can un-velcro the bottom portion for easy diaper changes. 

3. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
Click Here For More Info.

























Now I nursed my twins for 12 months, and this was literally my breast friend lol. I used the twin pillow and it was basically my 3rd arm. I took this thing everywhere and I wouldn't have been able to nurse the twins at the same time without it! It's contoured so your baby fits snug and won't fall off, has handy compartments for storage (I stuck my cell in one pocket), and clips around your waist with a back support. I LOVED this thing! 



4. Medela Pump In Style Advanced On-The-Go Breast Pump

Click Here For More Info
Speaking of breast feeding...this pump is awesome! It's a little pricey so I borrowed one from a friend and I bought all new tubing and bottles and such.

I do recommend buying the SoftFit breast shields as I found they were more comfortable. I never had any issues with loss of suction and never had any problems with this pump.

 5. Cloud B Sleep Sheep
Click Here For More Info.
I bought 2 of these little guys for my twins and they love them. The sheep has 4 sound options from mother's calming heartbeat to the gentle sounds of nature. I started using this the first night they came home and I used the heartbeat setting for a few months. They seemed to fall asleep better when it was turned on. There is volume control and also automatic time off setting after 23 or 45 minutes. 


The lamb is soft and cuddly and I still use it every nap time and bed time, except now I use the ocean sounds. I even take it on long trips when they need to sleep in the car. There is also a Velcro strap attached to the back so you can secure it to a crib. 


6. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

Click Here For More Info.

Ok, this thing is the best thing since sliced bread as far as I'm concerned lol. My daughter loved it and my twins couldn't get enough of it either.

There are 3 different height adjustments, toys all around and above baby, lots of fun jungle sounds and lights and lots of jumping fun for your baby. 

I was sad when they grew too big for it. 


7. Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Vanilla Teething Rings


Click Here For More Info


I own most of the Vulli Sophie the Giraffe collection, but I have to say my twins loved these teething rings the best. They are vanilla flavored and smell delicious as well. 
They are BPA and Phthalates Free and that always makes me happy.


8. Little Playzone With Lights And Sounds Play Yard
Click Here For More Info.
I actually own 2 of these and they were a life saver! At first I only needed one, but as the twins became more mobile, I felt they needed a larger play area. I love this play yard. It's easy to put together and rearrange and it has a fun activity panel that makes noises and lights up. It gave me peace of mind that I could leave the room for longer than a few seconds lol.

9. The ErgoBaby Carrier

 
Click Here For More Info 





I LOVE this carrier! I had a baby Bjorn when my daughter was a baby and I hated it. She outgrew it so quickly. What I loved to use with her was a sling from Hot Slings, but I am not sure you can still get them anymore. When the twins were born, I purchased 2 of the ErgoBaby carriers. I would also order the infant insert for the carrier if you plan on carrying around your newborn. This carrier is very comfortable and can be adjusted in several areas. Click on the info under the photo for all the great features as there are many. I bought mine from Baby Steals and got them for around $65 each I think so keep an eye out for them on there.

10. Fisher-Price Zen Collection Cradle Swing
Click Here For More Info.

I really liked this swing. I'm still a big fan of an older cradle swing too, but this one is very soft, has an attached blanket, the seat removes and you can use it as a baby seat. The baby can rock forwards and backwards or side to side, and the seat reclines. I loved the music and the best part is that you can plug it in if you don't want to drain the batteries. I know with my last swing we went through tons of batteries so that was a huge plus!

11. JJ Cole Bundle Me Car Seat Cover
Click Here For More Info.
Click Here For More Info.



















I've owned both styles and liked them both. The one on the left is just a cover and the one on the right is a full insert. Both are nice, however the insert can get a little bit hot at times.  These are great so you don't have to put a large bulky snowsuit on your baby. 



12. Padalily
Click Here For More Info.
This is an item that I wish I would have owned. I didn't find out about it until the boys were out of their infant carriers. It's a padded cover that wraps around the infant car seat handle to make carrying that heavy thing easier. This is an item that I look at and say "Now, why didn't I think of that?!??!"

13. Fisher-Price Deluxe Rock n' Play Sleeper
Click Here For More Info.
This is another item that I do not own, but heard it's the cat's pajamas lol. I think I most likely would have purchased this if I had only one baby and not twins lol. 

14. Tots In Mind Cozy Crib Tent II
Click Here For More Info.
Ok, so before you flip...this is not a cage!!!! lol. When my daughter was around 17 months, she fell out of her crib one night and hit her head. Well that freaked me out, so I purchased this crib tent. She absolutely loved it. It zips open or closed and it gave me the peace of mind at night that she wasn't going to hurt herself. I'm sure I'll be purchasing a 2nd one soon since my boys are quickly figuring out how to climb out of their cribs. Fun Fun!

15. Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover
Click Here For More Info.
So this may seem rather trivial, but you certainly don't want your baby/toddler smacking his/her head on the bath faucet. This one is nice because it won't get moldy, adjusts to fit almost every faucet, has blowhole for access to shower diverter and is BPA Free, phthalate free and PVC free. 

16. Summer Infant Baby Touch Digital Color Video Monitor

Click Here For More Info.
Ok, so this puppy isn't cheap, but it's so cool! My brother and his wife own this and it's the neatest monitor. I own an older Summer video monitor and I like that just fine. Here are some of it's features:
  • 3.5" color video display
  • Digital technology, pan, scan and zoom
  • 2-way talk back feature
  • Docking station for easy charging, battery indicator on screen tells you how much battery life the parent's unit has left
  • Up to 400' range     

17. Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator
Click Here For More Info.
So before you get all grossed out, let me just say that this is the last nasal aspirator you will ever have to buy. This thing WORKS! No, you do not get any snot into your mouth. It gets sucked into the blue tube where it stays until you remove the lid and wash it out. It also sits right at the opening of the nostril which makes it more comfortable for your baby/toddler. My son Liam actually laughs when I use this on him. 

18. The 2-In-1 Potelle Plus Potty Seat
Click Here For More Info

So when you're driving and your little ones says "Mommy I have to go potty RIGHT NOW!!!" What do you do? Most find a gas station or pull off to the side of the road and hold your child up while he/she does their thing.  I LOVE this potty! I bought this when Grace was potty training and she still uses it.
  • Full size travel potty that folds flat into a trainer seat; contoured seat for your child's comfort, and hygienic trainer seat can be used on all toilet seats
  • Non slip, durable and comfortable; improved sturdy, well-balanced rubber base helps keep your child feel secure
  • Legs lock into place when opened, folds flat so it can fit in a purse or diaper bag
  • Uses self-absorbing, disposable liners that discard like a diaper
  • Comes with three super absorbent, leak-proof and easy-to-use disposable liners and a drawstring carrying bag    
If we are on the side of the road somewhere (usually on our 7 hour trip to my hometown), I just sit this beside the car and most times I don't even use the bags (you can also use a walmart bag with some paper towels or a diaper on the bottom if you had to). It's also nice for nasty gas station stops. You can put it right on the toilet seat and your child won't be afraid that he/she will fall in. 
Hey...when you gotta go...you gotta go! 


19. Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Step Up
Click Here For More Info.
While we're on the topic of the potty, this is my favorite potty seat. It comes attached to a step stool which really helps them be able to go to the potty all by themselves.  My daughter (4) says she likes it because "it has steps to help me get on the potty and it won't let me fall in." When she's done, it folds up and we slide it beside the toilet.

20. Flora Baby Infant/Toddler Probiotic Formula
Click Here For More Info.
So this is a great Probiotic for your baby. Here is a little bit about it: FloraBaby Advanced Infant/Toddler Probiotic Formula with Active Cultures‡ *4 billion active cultures per gram *Bifidobacteria & Lactobacillus *Contains 5 viable strains of beneficial bacteria, including essential B. infantis *Mixes easily with infant formula, juice, milk or other liquid *Pleasant taste Infants receive their first beneficial bacteria during the birthing process. Supplying additional beneficial bacteria throughout their early years can help support their overall digestive and immune health.‡ FloraBABY™ provides 5 strains of beneficial bacteria specifically chosen for their prevalence in the digestive tracts of infants and toddlers, including B. infantis, the most important strain of beneficial bacteria.‡ 

I added this to the boys' Rice Milk cups after they were done breastfeeding. My kids all have some milk protein sensitivities, so this really helped their bellies. Keep it in the refrigerator so you keep all those good bacteria alive. 

21. Mommy's Bliss Gripe Water
  This may be a miracle in a jar! I love this stuff and so did my boys. Any time I could tell that their bellies were upset, or if they had the hiccups, or when they were teething, this stuff did the trick. Within 5 minutes of giving them the gripe water, they began to calm down and would then drift off to sleep. 
  • A natural herbal digestive aid for babies, to ease the discomfort due to colic, gas, hiccups and teething
  • 100% Natural
  • Paraben-free
  • No Alcohol
  • Pleasant tasting and fast acting   
 Now I know it might not do the trick for babies who have more severe digestive or colic issues, but it certainly doesn't hurt to give it a try. It worked for us!



***Ok, so I've given you 21 of my favorite baby/toddler items and believe me, I have probably close to a 100 more, but I figured this is a good start. I may be adding to this list as time goes on, so check back for updates.

I left out car seats and strollers because there are so many personal preferences there so I just left them alone. :) Feel free to let me know what your favorite baby/toddler items are in the comment section ok? Thanks! ***