The Perfect Halloween Candy Bags

Peanut’s bag was a fishbowl when she was The Cat in the Hat.

Every year I’ve tried something different for a candy receptacle when trick-or-treating, but nothing has been quite right. The ones you can buy at the store are crap (we actually had some of those this year that were given to us and two have already broken just from carrying around at a short trunk-or-treat). I’ve made ones out of felt that are super cute (I may be biased), but I can’t ever get them big enough that we aren’t constantly dumping them into something else. We’ve tried old pillowcases like I used as a kid, but they’re too long and the girls end up dragging them.

So this year I’ve put my mind to it and I think I’ve combined ideas to finally find…

The Perfect Halloween Candy Bags

First, we start with a pillowcase. I got some from sheets we no longer use that I plan on being on keeping as our candy bags for every year. You could also check your local second-hand store for some cheap pillowcases.

I had Twig hold one up and I marked it in a spot that keeps it big enough to hold a good amount of candy still, but not so long it drags on the ground. I flipped it inside out and did a basting stitch (for sewing novices: this is when you turn the stitch length all the way up so you have really long stitches that are easy to pick out later, also don’t do your finishing stitches on either end) at the marked height so that we can take it out to lengthen it for future years when they’re taller.

Then turn it inside out and just tuck the extra fabric inside.

Now you can stop here if you want, but if you’d like to cute it up too, add something that’s along the theme of your costume! Peanut is being Merida from Brave and Twig and Banana are being two of the little brother bears (I’m the mama bear and my husband is King Fergus). There’s a third brother bear though, so Twig’s pillowcase gets a bear! Then Peanut’s has a horse like Angus. I just cut the shapes out of felt and then hot glued them together, then pin them onto the pillowcase with safety pins.

And here’s Twig’s pillowcase in action! Happy Halloween!

Newsletter – July 2014

Hello children!

We’re still in our catchup of newsletters (I swear I’m going to make it! Only a few more months to go!) and now we’re on to July. Another wonderful summer month full of sun and swimming and parks and awesome. Seriously this summer was amazing.

Peanut, we read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this month. Every year I have a tradition of re-reading the Harry Potter series right around my birthday (and also Harry’s) and this year I decided to involve you in the fun. We just read the first book and you loved it. I couldn’t read more than a chapter, sometimes two, at a time without you getting antsy, but you wanted to read it every day. I love that you can get really interested in stuff like this now.

You also learned all the coins this month to go along with your address and phone number. It was another thing in your Miss Binderkarten book that you should know before entering kindergarten, making it the last thing we had to check off. It was a little more tricky for you than the phone number and address, but you got it down pretty quick. Now we get to play fun games like “Would you rather have…?” and you get to choose which pile gives you the most money.

Lastly, you did swim lessons this month. You were both excited and nervous about going, but just really excited once they started. Every weekday for two weeks we went to the pool for your lesson. I was amazed how much more confident you became in the water. Now you’ll put your whole face in no problem and do so in the bath all the time. You’re really excited to continue with your lessons next year when you’re 6.

Twig, you had a really fun month too! This month you had your first sleepover at Oma and Opa’s. I was really surprised that you weren’t upset or anything. You haven’t had once since though because you always change your mind about staying at the last minute.

You also decided that you adore cows. Every time we go out to the farm to get milk you get so excited. Even if you were about to pass out in your car seat, pulling into the farm makes you wake right up and start waving and yelling “hi moos!” at the baby cows. Then when we leave you say “bye moos! Love you moos!” and “bye mama moos!”

You also started telling me this month that Peanut is your best friend. Whenever you’re mad at me you go running to her for a hug. And you even tease her saying “I see your gina!” whenever you see her changing.

Banana, your sisters are so excited to meet you! They give my belly hugs and kisses every day (and multiple times a day!). This month you’re still plumping up and getting ready to join us on the outside. A big milestone was at the end of this month you reached full term. Of course that doesn’t mean I was going to rush you out or anything, but it was a big reassurance that you were big enough to be born at home now. Less than a month until your birthday!

Love you all!
Mama

Boba 4G Review

The two big girls goofing around with our new carrier before Banana was born.

As I’ve made it clear in the past, I’m a big lover of Boba. The company is amazing and so are their carriers. So I jumped at the opportunity to review a Boba 4G with my new little Banana.

The last Boba I had (or actually have, as I’m keeping it for wearing Twig) was a 2G and they’ve added quite a few nice things. The overall construction works the same, so I’m not going to go over all that in detail. Just know that if you’ve seen past Bobas, it still works the same. If you haven’t, it’s intuitive and you’ll learn it quick.

Happy in the Boba at just 9 days old.

So on to the new things I love!

Let’s start with the pockets. Pockets on a carrier are something I’ve scoffed at in the past. Past me would say “Well isn’t that what a diaper bag is for?!” Yes, I could keep my phone in my diaper bag, but it’s so much nicer to have it right on me. And for someone who doesn’t wear jeans a whole lot these days, the carrier having a pocket is amazing. I use the bottom pocket for my phone almost every time I wear the Boba. The top pocket hasn’t found its use yet (keys and wallet are too bulky for a pocket right by baby’s head), but I’m sure it’ll come in handy soon.

Next, let’s talk the bag strap. It’s always been super annoying to try to keep my bag’s strap up on my shoulder while using a carrier. Even with something like a backpack or messenger bag, it’s always falling off. And when you’re walking through a parking lot holding hands with two kid and wearing a fussy baby, the last thing you need is to have your bag fall off and smack your toddler in the head.

Trying out the strap on a trip to Target.

This simple strap and button keeps every bag on without falling. Even when it’s falling off to the side because I haven’t adjusted it for forever, the snap still doesn’t give way. It still feels awkward like it’s going to fall off (even if I know it won’t) so I end up adjusting it eventually, but I tested it during a long Target trip by purposely not adjusting my bag and it never gave way. I’ve even chosen to keep the baby and the bag instead of giving the bag to my husband simply because it doesn’t bother me to hold it anymore.

Then there’s the little things they’ve just slightly altered to make the carrier more functional. The foot straps come off so you aren’t constantly catching them on things when your kiddo is too small to need them. The hood comes off too as well as going down into a zippered pocket (the top pocket I mentioned earlier) instead of the semi-awkward stretchy bands holding it in place. The little things that take a carrier from like to love.

He stayed happy and comfy the whole time we were at Black Island Farms.

Saving the best for last, there’s the infant insert. Holy mole the thing is great. When I got my new Boba in the mail (while still pregnant), the set up seemed kind of weird. Fast forward to having an actual baby and it makes perfect sense. Baby sits up on top of the insert like a little seat with their legs inside of the carrier rather on the outside. Such a simple idea that makes this carrier function in the exact same way for both the tiniest and the biggest kiddos.

There are two settings for the insert, one for 7-10 lbs and one for 10-15 lbs. Banana was born nearly big enough for the second setting, but I kept him in the first setting for quite a while because it made him tall enough that I could always see his face. Now at two months and over 14 lbs, we’re almost out of the second setting, but I may keep him in it a bit over the 15 lbs recommended. The reasoning now isn’t height (this big boy appears to be rocketing up in weight as well as height), but rather the hip alignment. The second setting, especially given that it has a U shape on top, puts baby’s little legs in a perfect M shape. Without the insert I’m sure we’ll still get much of that, but it may not be quite so comfortable of an M shape until his legs are long enough that the carrier extends knee to knee (though he’s close). Who knows though, maybe the 1 lb and accompanying inch(es) will be enough to make it comfortable without the insert.

So that’s my review of the new Boba 4G. Seriously this thing is amazing and I would (and do!) recommend it to anyone looking for a carrier. It’s the only one my husband actually enjoys wearing and it’s my favorite for running errands. The learning curve is virtually non-existent, but it’s crazy comfortable at the same time. Now that it has all these extra perks as well as the ability to go from birth up, it’s just perfect. Go get yours today!

Newsletter – June 2014

Hello children!

More catch up and summer is finally here! This summer we had our little weekly routine of going to our Summer Movie Clubhouse (Tuesdays), story time at the library and 50 cent tacos at the park (Wednesdays), and swimming (at least once a week!).

We also spent time preparing Peanut for kindergarten with your Miss Bindergarten book. You aced your kindergarten placement test (3 wrong on the whole test, and even mama didn’t know what a rhombus was), but we still decided to do all the things on your checklist. As part of the checklist, we helped you memorize your phone number and address. Surprisingly it wasn’t difficult at all! I just tried to ask you at least once a day and we put a little sign up in the hallway to help you remember to do it yourself and you had the phone number within a few days and address in maybe a week. Next we worked on the different types of change and they took a little longer, but not by much. You have a fantastic memory!

Twig, you started to understand how counting really works this month. Surprisingly you get the first few numbers correct even, though I don’t think you have the concept that these numbers correspond to anything. You like to count “1,2,3,4,5,7,18,14…” and so on. You always get one-five correct and then start skipping around. It’s really cute.

Both of you are getting super excited to meet Banana! Banana, you’re a real hiccupper, so we watched mama’s belly twitch with hiccups all the time. Both girls got to feel really hard kicks and big movements this month rather than just the “was that really it?” kind of stuff. They wanted to feel my belly All The Time.

Peanut really loved to read books about babies and watch birth videos on YouTube. Of course Twig did these things too, but Peanut really loved it. Twig, you talked constantly about the baby in my belly. Telling strangers, telling people who already know, talking to the baby, talking to mama about the baby. It was clear that you really understood that a baby was in there and were getting excited. Mama was getting pretty excited too!

Until next month! Love you three!
Mama

Newsletter – May 2014

Hello Tiny Humans!

Back to more catch up on our newsletter. Now we’re on May. We spent this month having fun at home and starting to get outside in the warming up weather. Yay for almost summer!

This month Peanut took on a whole different part of the role Big Sister. Everywhere we went, you made sure Twig was involved in whatever game you and your “friends” (mostly kids you just met and decided to play with, but would tell me are your friends). And when a kid was being mean to her, you let them have it! You are Twig’s protector and it’s awesome. You also make sure that she’s not doing things that can get her in trouble or hurt, which is extra helpful for mama.

You also seemed to really leap developmentally. For a long time it was really hard to get you to do quiet time. We’d try to do an hour every day (since you don’t nap anymore) whenever we were on break from school, but you’d like fight it like mad. Now though, you seem like you really need and enjoy it. That break in the day is really helpful for all of us.

You also seemed to start to really understand reading. I got a Hooked on Phonics app that went on sale (for free!) and you just took right to it. You’ve known all the letters and their sounds for a couple years now, but putting them together into a word just wasn’t clicking for you. This month, with the help of this app, you started to get simple words just by saying their sounds. This proved super helpful later in the year when you started kindergarten.

The baby goat is eating your hair!

Lastly, you started to cook simple recipes completely on your own. You’ve always loved to help in the kitchen, but now you’re doing recipes from start to finish with very little assistance. You started with crepes and now do pancakes and French toast too. We’ve also done muffins where you did everything except grate the carrots. And of course you still love to help with steps in other recipes like chopping veggies and measuring ingredients.

Twig, you also love to help. You want to get the laundry out of the dryer with me, pick up rooms, load the dishwasher, and everything in between. Sure, these tasks take a lot longer with a two year old helping, but you love it. I’m also hoping it instills some good habits.

You’ve also started listening to my belly with the little play stethoscope from Peanut’s Doc McStuffins set. Every time you put it on my tummy and listen, then offer the ear pieces to me to let me listen, just like they do with the fetoscope at the midwife’s office. It’s so cute!

Both of you girls have been preparing for the birth too. One day in the tub I heard you two having a long conversation about anatomy and babies. Peanut taught Twig all about how girls have vaginas, boys have penises, and how babies come out of their mom’s vagina or sometimes get cut out of their tummies. Twig just absorbed all of it and immediately started talking about all of it as if she knew it all along.

27 weeks 4 days

Banana, not much to report for you. Still kicking away and growing away. Your big sisters are getting so excited to meet you!

Love you all!
Mama

Removing Milk Stains From Baby Clothes

The clothes go into storage looking great, but when they come out they’re covered in yellow stains. What’s going on?!? Milk stains!

It turns out there’s something about breast milk that causes these stains to pop up with time. Possibly with formula too (as the lady at the consignment store actually called them “formula stains”), though I don’t have first-hand experience there and I’m guessing the same techniques wouldn’t get them out since it’s not a bodily fluid. Anywho, I digress.

Well I’m here to tell you that these stains are ridiculously easy to get out of your baby clothes. Seriously, you will be amazed. No special products. No real effort. When I was pulling things out before Banana was born I found these stains once again and decided to share with you all the process of removing them. First, wash the clothes as normal (we just wash on cold, by the way, since there’s no real reason to wash clothes on hot). Second, hang them in the sun to dry! That’s all! Well, there’s a third optional step of either washing them again or spraying them with a little lemon water and letting them sun some more if the first time doesn’t work.

Want to see some before and after pictures so you can see how well this works? Well you’re gonna!

Before: 

During: 

With my umbrella clothesline, I make sure the most stained clothes are on the outside and I try to stagger the layers of clothing.

After:

Isn’t it awesome?! They’re completely gone! This nice little trick works with any bodily fluid, so if you get something like blood on your clothes this will help too. Yay sunshine!

Did-do List

I did accomplish getting a smile out of this little guy this week.

Lately I’ve been having the feeling that I don’t accomplish anything even though I am constantly doing things all day. I’ll clean throughout the day, but the house still ends up messy. I change endless diapers, potty Gideon (we’re doing part-time elimination communication), and nurse constantly, but there’s always more of those things to do. Same goes for playing with my girls. I’m always on the move, but my husband comes home from work and the house is often more mess than when he left. The kids are the same, if not more crabby (yay evenings!). Yes, I’m doing the most important job in the world, but it’s hard to see that in the day-t0-day.

So yesterday I made a “did-do list” rather than a “to-do list.” I read about it in some book for new moms. I’m surprised at how much I really accomplish in a day! Seriously, this list is long (and no, I’m not usually so on top of the cleaning, this was an unusually productive day in that respect). And so many of the things I do are simultaneous. If you’re feeling kind of burnt out and like you’re not accomplishing much as a mom, I’d definitely suggest you make one of these. So, without further ado, here’s my

Did-do List

Woke up (6:45am)
Nursed Gideon
Wiped Mere’s bum
Put the girls in the tub
Changed, pottied Gideon
Got Curtis fruits and veggie
Got the girls breakfast
Nursed Gideon
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed Gideon
Fed pets
Braided Dea’s hair
Helped the girls hold Gideon
Made my coffee
Took Dea to school
Read Facebook
Took bath with Mere
Started my breakfast
Helped Mere get undies on
Changed Gideon
Stopped my breakfast
Nursed Gideon while pumping
Comforted hurt Meredith
Cleaned/massaged Gideon’s eyes
Started my breakfast again
Helped Mere get on her dress
Put Gideon in the carrier
Cleaned spit up off floor
Bounced while cooking my breakfast
Made egg for mere
Froze pumped milk
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Put baby in swing
Corrected Pascal for barking
Cleaned up a little trashcan
Set a trap for little trashcan
Put away clean dishes
Wash all dishes in sink with Mere
Clean sink
Transfer and brew new water kefir
Drink some water kefir
Boil water for sweet tea
Make snacks for girls
Cut and freeze questionable broccoli
Wash newly acquired dishes
Gather dirty laundry around house
Put on shirt and deodorant
Start load of laundry
Put away clean diapers
Change blowout diaper and clothes
Start dirty cover soaking
Clean Mere’s pee off floor
Put teabags in water
Picked up Dea (late)
Signed permission slip
Put Gideon in the swing
Put on a movie for the girls
Switched laundry
Scooped cat litter boxes
Vacuumed laundry room
Showered
Picked up crying Gideon
Thawed chili
Ate snack, nursed, facebooked
Switched laundry
Nursed
Started chili
Made sandwiches
At lunch with the girls, nursed
Changed, pottied Gideon
Put diaper on Mere
Got Mere down for a nap, nursed
Switched laundry
Filled up pet water jug
Jolted upstairs to get awake Gideon
Wrapped Gideon
Bounce-walked Gideon to sleep
Made vaccine appointment for Mere
Helped Dea read a book
Bought Gideon’s birth certificate
Switched laundry
Put sheets upstairs
Started folding laundry
Played Blokus with Dea
Finished folding laundry
Put away laundry with girls
Sorted photos
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed, pumped
Sorted photos, nursed
Dish out chili for dinner
Put away clean dishes
Wash dishes in sink
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Nursed
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Read books to Mere, nursed
Got Mere to sleep, nursed
Put away clean dishes
Prepared coffee for tomorrow
Took out trash
Changed Gideon
Watched tv, ate, nursed
Put sleeping Gideon in the wrap
Finished a hat, started a second hat
Changed Gideon
Went to bed (11pm)