Tuesday, August 30, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

After a week of crazy weather and random tornadoes, we finally saw a peak of some sunshine.  We took full advantage of it and headed to a new park that has been in the works by my husband's work.  This kid was a little ninja climbing, jumping and swinging to every place he could.  I promised him another trip there this weekend and secretly I'm kind of excited to go back myself.

Red cheeks and sweaty hair is a sign of some serious playtime.  Lola was all about climbing and sliding by herself.  I'd stand there and spot her, which would prompt her to yell at me, "Mom! I do it myself!"  Apparently I need to let go of the leash soon...

My favorite squinty smile!  Rems was loving the soft rubber ground, which made easy for the knees to crawl, play and attempt to catch up with brother and sister.  I love how she catches sight of one of them and immediately gets excited.  She's so happy just watching and observing, especially if we are outdoors.



Monday, August 29, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

This kid has grown leaps and bounds over the past three weeks.  While it breaks my heart that I have to put him in before and after care for just a bit each day, I think it was the best decision to keep him in his neighborhood school.  His behavior has matured and every day he comes home for school telling me how much he loves it.  I do have to credit his amazing teacher too, because you can't love school if you aren't having a great experience! 

Right before summer ended, our neighbor took some family pictures for us.  This picture sums up my girl in all the right ways.  She is such a little spitfire but truly has a heart of gold.  I love how she loves and wants to be independent all at the same time.

From crawling to standing, my baby has quickly decided it is time to take toddler life by the reigns.  Ten months has been big for her and I actually just ordered invites to her first birthday.


One Roll Ahead with a DIY Toilet Paper Canister

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubTheMess #CollectiveBias

It has been a month since I headed back into the teaching world full time.  I don't think I have been this overwhelmed in a long time.  With the addition of new curriculum at school, my first baby going to Kindergarten and two children who want nothing to do with naps at their babysitter's house, my life is basically a circus these days.  If only I could have a few extra hours in the day I may be able to catch up on the crazy town called life. My laundry may get washed but continues to pile up on the living room chair just calling for someone to come and fold it.  Dinner usually consists of anything microwavable or precooked that can be warmed up in the oven in under twenty minutes.  And then there's my house. I have been praying that no one will show up unannounced because the mess and chaos is a little embarrassing I must say.

 An actual overhead view of my chair right now.  #mommyproblems

This past weekend was full of rain and clouds.  Basically it was God's way of telling me to get up and clean this mess.  And he's right.  My house was a, for lack of better words, hot mess.  But I figured if I did a good, deep cleaning it would make the week more manageable.  So I hit the one place that needed it the most - the bathrooms.  For some reason it is the one room that I always put off the longest.  Don't judge me because I know that's really gross but seriously, the last thing I enjoy doing is wiping down bathtubs and scrubbing toilets.  I mean toilets with boys and toddlers who are in the midst of potty training are beyond disgusting.  You know you are nodding in agreement as I type this statement.  But on a recent trip to Kroger I was able to grab a Scotch-Brite® Disposable Toilet Scrubber which was designed to scrub those messes your family leaves behind!  This scrubber made the cleanup so much easier and a lot more tolerable because of the flexing head design which allows for maximum contact with the toilet bowl.  It is shaped to get those stains that are hidden under the rim - you know, those super disgusting onesSimply just click the scrubber on, scrub your toilets and then dispose of it when you are finished.  Plus, these Scotch-Brite Disposable Toilet Scrubbers contain a built-in bleach alternative cleaner with pumice that works wonders on hard water stains and rust.  After my I was finished cleaning my bathroom, it smelled fresh and the toilets were sparkling clean from the genuine Scotch-Brite scrubbing power.

One downfall of having multiple bathrooms is ensuring they are always stocked for those times of need.  There is nothing more annoying when you have a little one on the potty and an empty roll by the toilet.  Our house is a tri-level too, which means running down three flights of stairs to grab several rolls to take back up to your kiddo, all while praying they stayed put on the potty.  I decided to creatively make something that wasn't a bathroom eye sore yet solved my lack-of-toilet-paper-when-needed problem. 

DIY Toilet Paper Canister

You Need:
*One (1) Oatmeal Canister
*Scrap Book Paper
*Tape or Glue

How to Make It:
1.  Clean out the oatmeal container but save the lid - you will want to use it in the end!

2.  Cover your container with your fancy paper.  I found some that matched our bathroom decor.

3.  Glue or tape on your paper to the canister.  I used tape because it was easier for me to secure to the canister.

4.  Pop two rolls in, seal it up and conveniently place within bathroom for future use!

Our toilet paper container has been so handy!  My plan is have Cohen refill it weekly as one of his chores.  Plus, it has also given my husband NO excuse as to why he can't replace the roll of toilet paper when it's actually empty.  Am I the only wife with that pet peeve?

With another work week on the horizon, I am heading into it with high hopes of less stress and a semi-clean house.  The upcoming three day weekend can do anyone's soul good, right?
Happy Monday, friends!

Want some more cleaning inspiration?  Check them out here!

Look for the Instant Redeemable Coupon on the Scotch-Brite Disposable Toilet Scrubber: "Try Me Now! Save $2".  The coupon can be remedied at the resigner when checking out.

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How do you deal with the stress of life and maintaining a clean household?



Sunday, August 21, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

This is my sweet boy on his first day of Kindergarten.  While I have plans to get up a post here soon about his big day, I still get a little weepy when I look at this picture and think about how I was anxiously awaiting his arrival six years ago.  Time is a real jerk, ain't it?

Lola is my clone, my mini me, and I laugh at how much she resembles myself and the things I did at her age.  She is all about making people laugh but has a sweet, sensitive side too.  The kid is 100% a Mommy's Girl and even though that means I have to put her to bed every night and wake up with her in the middle of the night, I'm really okay with that.  She's got me hooked.

I love so much about this picture, but mainly because it shows how much these two girls adore each other.  I see Lola do everything Cohen does, but I'm starting to see Remy want to do everything Lola is doing.  Considering the two are less than two years apart, I'm really hoping they become the best of friends as they grow older.


Lunchtime Fun with Simple PB&J Bites

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  
#BacktoSchoolSimple #CollectiveBias

You guys.  THIS KID IS A KINDERGARTNER.  Seriously, I feel like I was just prepping to bring him home from the hospital and embark on this journey called motherhood.  We spent the last week getting his backpack ready, picking out our back to school clothes and purchasing last minute school supplies.  Cohen also got to meet his teacher, visit his classroom and take a brief tour of his HUGE school, as he describes it.  I have to be honest, I was a weepy mess that day he walked into school.  Anytime anyone asked me how my day was going or mention the word "kindergarten" my eyes would well up and I had to start thinking happy thoughts.  But the year so far has been great for him.  His teacher is amazing and I'm really impressed with everything his school has to offer.  After his first day at school, he excitedly told me everything and anything he could remember about it.  But the one thing he continues to tell everyone and their brother about is that his school has a "huge cafetorium!"  The kid is an extremely picky eater so it seems ironic that lunchtime is one of his favorite times of the day!

Cohen has packed his lunch at school for the past four years.  His preschool didn't offer hot lunch, so I knew that it would be a rare occurrence that he would actually eat school lunch.  But honestly I'm okay with that because I like to make his lunches special just for him.  It's like my own way to let him know I'm thinking about him in the middle of the day, especially since I can't be there.  I love to have cute lunch themes with all of his favorite foods. 

Before school started up last week, I hit up Market District (our local Giant Eagle retailer) to stock up on lunch items, food for breakfast and of course afternoon snacks.  I knew I'd be able to find everything I needed to make sure I sent Cohen to school with a lunch he loved!  Market District is the one stop shop for all things Back to School.  I took my time in each aisle, quickly filling up my cart with his favorite things.  If I couldn't be with him at school, I surely was going to let him know I missed his cute little face!  Soon my cart was filled with Jif Peanut Butter and Smucker's Fruit Spread for the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, little bags of his favorite baked Cheetos,  Goldfish crackers for everyone in the family,  mini Oreos for his sweet tooth and Giant Eagle cheese sticks for lunch and most likely after school snack too.  But I couldn't forget his favorite Capri Suns to wash it all down before heading to Gym class for the day.  I love knowing that I can find everything I need whenever I shop at Market District!

As I mentioned earlier, Cohen is a picky little eater.  So I try to pack things that I know he will eat, but I like to present them in a new way.  He isn't a huge fan of lunch meat so PB&J is our staple sandwich.  However, I wanted to try something new and see if he'd still eat it.  I mean seriously, you'd think the same meals over and over would be a little boring, right?

PB&J Bites
You Need:
--One (1) slice of bread
--Smucker's Fruit Spread
--Jif Peanut Butter
--Rolling Pin

1.  Cut off your crusts and flatten your bread with a rolling pin.  You don't want it to be too thin, but thin enough to roll into a hearty sandwich.

2.  Begin by spreading the peanut butter.  

3.  Top it off with the jelly.

4.  Then, slowly roll it up lengthwise.

5.  Take a knife and cut the roll into pieces.  You can use toothpicks to keep them together, which also makes it for fun eating!

These bites were a hit with Cohen!  I was excited too because I personally was getting bored with packing the same old sandwich everyday.  Lola, who will eat anything, loved these roll up pieces with cheese and turkey.  The bite sized pieces are perfect for little fingers and fit nicely within the lunchbox.

While sometimes I will use bags to organize Cohen's food, I also love to use muffin cups in his lunch box too.  I usually stock up when I find them on sale and I like to buy them in a bunch of different sizes.  It's an easy way to sort the food and make sure nothing touches. (I know I'm not the only one with a kid like that!)  Clean up is simple and easy too because Cohen will just throw it all away when he's done.  Plus it looks super cute.  But in the scheme of things I'm really the only one who cares about that one.

We are slowly getting back into our school routine and I'm excited to see how Cohen grows this school year.  My hope is that he will love school and get everything that he possibly can out of this experience.  While I miss him like crazy, it really has been fun watching my little buddy grow up.

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What are your favorite go-to foods for Back to School lunches?


GoodNites, Sleep Tight: How We Tackled Nightmares

Sunday, August 14, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RestEasySolutions #CollectiveBias

Summer was so good to us.  We had an abundance of sunshine filled days, warm weather and just absolute fun together.  My favorite part of each day was when we would all wake up and decide where we would go or what we would do for that day.  The daily goal was to wear these kiddos out.  If they went to bed tired with dirty feet and heavy eyes, it was a win for this mom.  But unfortunately sleeping hard means one thing - we don't wake up for potty breaks.  We actually SLEEP THROUGH them so there was lots of extra laundry and middle of the night sheet changes for this tired mama.  Cohen's been potty trained for years, but I recently learned that your child's bladder doesn't wake their brain up in the middle of the night.  This problem happens a lot more than one would think!  Actually, 1 in 6 kids ages 4-12 will wet the bed at least once a week after being potty trained.  But in the scheme of things, I really didn't need to be getting up with anymore kids in the middle of the night because Remy was enough for the moment.  I turned to GoodNites, the #1 Night Time Protection brand to help this tired mama get at least a few more moments of uninterrupted sleep.

I had been wracking my brain on how to deal with this problem for the time being.  The problem stemmed from a few things but I knew that the culprit was late night thirst quenches.  I mean the kid plays hard so there was no way I was going to deny him a drink.  Usually we limit drinks past 7:00 pm to avoid this problem altogether.  But again, I wasn't going to dehydrate my child nor keep him from burning off steam on the daily.  Cohen also had been waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares and then would ask for a drink, which doesn't help our situation much either.  However the bedding and clothing changes in the middle of the night were a struggle.  Cohen is a big Kindergartener now and wearing baby diapers are out of the question.  Plus I would never do that to him at this age.

On a recent diaper run to Walmart I decided to check out the different options that GoodNites offered for our situation.  As a busy mom, I love how Walmart offers the best variety of solutions and value for bed wetting management, including a $2 coupon (while supplies last-so keep checking back for it!)  Immediately I was drawn the to GoodNites Bedtime Pants which are made for both boys and girls ages 4 and older with outstanding protection for any sleeping position.  These pants look and feel like real underwear and help them maintain a sense of privacy and self-esteem even in an uncomfortable situation like this one.  The GoodNites Bedtime Pants are more absorbent than leading training pants with five layer protection, offer new zoned protection where boys and girls need it and move like underwear.  I also grabbed some GoodNites TruFit Underwear because these too look and feel just like real underwear yet use a disposable insert to help provide the ultimate nighttime protection.  Plus I loved that they were machine washable so I could throw them into the wash and reuse them again if needed.

I also decided that I needed to tackle these nightmares to see if this would help solve a bit our nighttime issues too.  Cohen has always been a concrete kind of learner - like he needs to physically be able to see or do something in order to learn from it.   I had the simple solution of making a Monster Spray that I would keep by his bed.  Therefore if he woke up and was scared he could spray it before calling one of us to his room or before he came running down to ours.

Monster Spray

You Need:
--One (1) spray bottle
--Lavender Essential Oil
--Optional - Decorations for Bottle

How to Make It:

1.  I began by creating and laminating a label for my bottle.  (I'm a teacher.  Of course I have a personal laminator.)  Here's the printable you can use for yourself!
Monster Spray Label 

2.  Fill the bottle with water and add 5-10 drops of lavender into it, depending on the size of your bottle.  I used lavender because of the calming effect and the gentle scent.

3.  Add your label and decorations.

4.  Show your kiddo how to use and spray those monsters away!

Cohen and I talked about how we can use our Monster Spray to get rid of anything we may be scared of at the time.  I told him he had to use the spray first before running to our room.  Our agreement was that if he was still scared even after he used our Monster Spray he could come down and get me.  After about a week of giving Cohen his Monster Spray the middle of the night wake-ups really decreased.  Not only was it great that I didn't have to get out of bed with him, but he also wasn't asking for water which has really helped with the middle of the night accidents.  Now if only there was a spray I could use when I wanted my kids to nap at the same time...

I'm sad that summer break is over for us, but I know this upcoming school year will be full of just as much fun!  The best part of my job is that I get to spend these extended breaks with my kiddos, creating these memories we will remember for a lifetime.  And now that we have tricks to tackle these nighttime problems, we are ready for the new school year!

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How do you manage nightmares with your kiddos?