Snow Sanity

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little bit sick of all this snow. I like the snow when it comes, hangs around for maybe a day or so, and then GOES AWAY. But the weeks, on weeks of snow hanging around? Not so much. You say, just let your little one play in the snow! But she doesn’t like the snow. She gets her hands wet, she cries. She falls and face plants, she cries. She lasts maybe 5 minutes outside in the snow, and then she’s done. And she is a very active toddler! My girl needs the outdoors, and walks, and playdates! But what do we do when MOPS gets cancelled? And our zoo playdate? And we can’t go outside to the park, or for walks??

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Well, there are a number of really good indoor places to take your kids in Colorado Springs, and I could use a few more ideas of other places from all of you! So I’ll tell you about my places, and you tell me about yours!

And, to be honest, I definitely need to make more of an effort to get out and about despite all the snow. Being from Alabama, I still tend to have a bit of a Southern mentality when it comes to snow. Snow = stay inside. Don’t go anywhere. Stay holed up in your house for warmth and safety. But in Colorado, its really not that big of a deal. We have a 4WD Jeep that can get me where I need to go. I just need to be the one to make it happen.

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(About 5 seconds after this she face planted and then proceeded to scream for about 10 minutes! Ha!)

So, without further ado, a few of my snow sanity ideas (including a few indoor activities).

1. Playdough

My girl loves playdough! Eden was given two packs of playdough for Christmas from our good friend Jena, and she absolutely loves it! It is such a fun, easy activity that keeps her busy and contained. I can stick her in her high chair, give her a few things to cut/manipulate the playdough with (like cookie cutters and a plastic knife) and she is good to go! It is also a great way to work on fine motor skills. We have some jingle bells of assorted sizes that I had laying around the house (but any small object would work). After flattening out the playdough, I press the bells into the dough making it slightly difficult to remove. Eden especially has a hard time with the smaller bells. She just loves this activity! Especially if I give her the playdough container to put the bells into. I love that it is such a mental activity and also great for fine motor develpment!

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2. Focus on the Family

You may or may not have known that the guest center for Focus on the Family is right here in Colorado Springs, and it has two kids play areas, as well as a “Soda Shop”, bookstore, reading section, dress up areas,and other fun kids activities (which I admittedly don’t know as much about because they are for older kids, but I do know about the 3 story slide!!) And the best part, is that they have a toddler room. It is great because it is designed for kids 4 and under, so all of the play pieces are nice and soft. There are even a couple of benches in there for parents, and I typically find another mom to talk to while Eden gets to play with her kids. This is also a really nice place to have a playdate with friends. Moms get out of the house to visit and the littles get to burn off some energy. Win Win. My only complaint about this toddler room is that it feels pretty closed off. Its not a huge room and it doesn’t have any windows (its downstairs) so it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are really “getting out”. I’ve talked to a few friends who were concerned about the religious aspect and maybe having it shoved down your throats, but this really isn’t the case. So if that has been holding you back, you shouldn’t be too worried! It is just a family friendly play area to bring your kids. All they ask of you is you sign into their guestbook and wear a sticker.

3. Chapel Hills Mall Play Area

Not all moms are super huge fans of this particular area for a couple of reasons. While it is intended for just smaller kids (under 4 feet, I think) parents definitely let their older kids play there too, which can be a bit hazardous for the tiny ones. Eden has done fine when I have taken her, I just need to be somewhat paying attention. I also have several friends who are not crazy about the germ aspect, but honestly I’m not too fussed about it. Again, this play area features nice soft and squishy structures that are all designed around Colorado Springs (which is a nice added bit of interest). This area definitely has more of an open feel, as it is in a wing of the mall, but it is also a bit easier to escape from than the Focus room. There is an opening in the border at one end that your little could escape through, but if you are paying attention it isn’t a big deal (where as the Focus room has a half door to keep tiny ones contained). This area is also considerably larger than the one at Focus, and the entire thing is lined with benches for parents as well as a couple of shoe cubbies. This is another great place for indoor fun and playdates.

4. Monkey Bizness

This is another really fun play area that we haven’t been to in a while. In fact, a friend just reminded me of its existence and I am wanting to go back! To be upfront, the downside to this is that it isn’t free. Admission prices can be found in the link above, but for walkers 2 and under the cost is $7. I don’t quite remember if this includes parents, or if we are separate? I can try to find out… This is clearly a downside to this outing, seeing as how most people prefer free, but it is still a great option. For older kids, there are a lot of great play structures including slide and bounce house, while the tiny ones have an entire upstairs play area to themselves. It is gated, so they can’t escape, but have their own soft and squishy structures to climb on. There is even a designated area for crawlers so they don’t get trampled. There is also an art room, but we haven’t actually checked that out yet (Eden was barely walking the last time we were there). They also host birthday parties if that is something you are interested in. The kids definitely love it, but the parents don’t always love the prices (myself included).

So these are the main things I can come up with at the moment. How sad is it that playdough is my main at-home activity? Although Fun At Home With Kids is a great blog that has amazing DIY sensory ideas… In reality, I just need to make it more of a priority to actually do these. Eden has loved the handful we have actually tried, like our discovery bottles, and cornstarch and water play. But some of her other stuff has seemed a bit too old for Eden. Also, while many of her activities are edible, they still aren’t intended for eating. And up until now, Eden has really enjoyed exploring things by eating them. It is still fairly challenging to keep her from eating the playdough, ha! But she is doing much better in that area, so maybe we will start trying out a few more of these! In fact, I think that sounds lovely. Maybe I’ll have something to report to you soon! ;) Stay tuned!

What are some of your favorite indoor activities? Any suggestions for getting out of the house with your littles when the weather insists on being gross? I can use all the ideas I can get!

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Baby Wearing Mama, Pt. 2 The Bjorn

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 (Just check out all of this baby wearing awesomeness!!)

Everyone seemed to really enjoy my last post about baby wearing and trying out the Ergo, so I thought I would write a post about another carrier we have used and loved.

Carrier #2: Baby Bjorn Active

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As you saw in my last post, we started off baby wearing with the baby Bjorn. Most of you have probably heard of this carrier, as it is rather popular. We decided to get the active version because of the great back support and ventilated mesh. One thing we love about the Bjorn, anyone can use it! Once you figure out how to put it on (it’s not too difficult) anyone can wear it by adjusting the straps to fit their body. My hubby has used this carrier plenty of times, and even one of my good (not a mommy) friends has tried it out! This thing has seen TONS of use.

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 (My dear friend, Gayle, trying out the Bjorn!)

One of its best uses has proven to be for plane trips. Moms and babies can avoid body scanners at most airports by going through security baby wearing. Also, it keeps your hands free for suitcases and diaper bags while navigating the airport. Once on the plane, baby is securely strapped to your chest. Although, airlines do require them to be free during take off and landing, but with the Bjorn this is amazingly easy. Even with a sleeping baby, all that was required was unhooking the top strap at the shoulders and letting the bjorn fall open. Eden got to continue sleeping on my chest, and I just re-fastened her once we were in the air. Easy Peasy. Granted it is not the most pleasant thing to have your baby spit up down your shirt while in the Bjorn and confined to an airplane… Cleaning that up was a little tricky! And on several occasions, we were able to ditch toting the stroller with us through the airport, because I could just wear her.

We have also absolutely loved this for hiking. Jd wore her many times, especially when she was smaller, for family outings. And one of our favorite things about the Bjorn when she was this age, was being able to face her out. She loved getting to look out at the scenery and giggle at our dogs while going on hikes. This is definitely a huge bonus for this carrier, and as I mentioned in my last post, one of the main deciding factors for getting this carrier to begin with.

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Another plus to this carrier, you can breastfeed your baby hands-free! It does take some maneuvering and loosening of straps, but once you have it figured out it is fantastic to be able to nurse while, say, walking around the zoo! I’ve done this many times and loved how easy it was to nurse my baby without having to get her out, find a place to sit down, and nurse her instead of being able to continue on with our friends during a zoo playdate. And this also came in handy on some of those plane trips! And with a nursing cover over us, no one is any the wiser :) Happy baby, happy mom.

And these carriers fit pretty much everybody, from dads to moms to friends. A great all around carrier.

My only complaint about the Bjorn (and I was well aware of this when we bought it) is that it can’t be worn on your back. I find that there are pretty much two categories to carriers. Those that can be worn with baby facing in or out, and those that can be worn on your front or back. As I mentioned in my last post, there are a few carriers that have overcome this and can be worn in all configurations (the new bjorn, as well as the Beco gemini). And because the Bjorn can’t be worn on your back, it limits how long you are able to use this with your baby. Once they start getting a bit bigger, it just doesn’t work as well. Its definitely still doable, but personally I prefer this carrier for younger babies.

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 (Loving the outward facing and getting to pet the doggies!)

Rating: B+

This carrier is amazing for small babies. But once they start getting a bit bigger and heavier, I find myself wanting something a bit more substantial.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried and loved the Bjorn? Or didn’t like it from the get go?

P.S. See if you can spot the Bjorn featured in my post about Making Baby Food!

Disclaimer: All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not paid or endorsed in any way to write this review, I just love the product!

Baby Wearing Mama

I know, I know. You are just shocked that I love baby wearing! Now, I’m not quite as religious about it as some people are, but I do love a good baby carrier. And I have quite a few kinds too (more on those later!) But today, I’m going to tell you about my new carrier love.

Carrier #1: Ergo Baby Carrier.

I had a hard time initally picking out a baby carrier. Even when I was pregnant (well if I’m honest, before I ever got pregnant) I knew I would want some type of baby carrier. I just didn’t know what kind. So during my pregnancy, the search began. At the time I really wanted a carrier where baby could face away from your body. I’m not entirely sure why this was such a priority, but it was my main one. And of course, I wanted good back support. So we went with the Baby Bjorn. Specifically, the Baby Bjorn Active.

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(Eden, 6 days old, being worn around the neighborhood at Halloween)

And we loved it. It served us very well for quite a long time. And with Eden being as tiny as she was, weighing in at only 5lb 11oz, it fit her really well also. But the downside to this particular carrier, is that it can only be worn with baby in front, not on your back. Although, Baby Bjorn does apparently have a new carrier that allows baby to be worn front or back, inward or outward facing (but this one is pretty new). So now that she is 15 months old and about 18lb, I found myself wanting to be able to carry her on my back.

We made do with the bjorn, baby slings, and a Moby Wrap for a nice long time, all of which I absolutely loved but for different reasons (more on that later!)

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 (Sick days with mama, loving the Moby wrap)

But recently I have really been searching for a little more…

So I went to my favorite cloth diaper store, Baby Cotton Bottoms, to try on various carriers. They pointed me to the Beco Soleil Carrier which felt amazing on. This carrier boasts a 7-45lb weight range and nice padded straps with a few other amenities. But for me personally, it had a fairly major drawback. I’m a petite woman, and it just didn’t fit my frame. The waist strap fit fine, but the shoulder straps couldn’t be adjusted to fit my small torso, a problem BCB has been noticing with smaller women. Beco does have another carrier that would have fit me better, but the weight range only went up to 35lb, and I wanted something that worked well for a bigger baby.

Shanda, at BCB, helped me try on the Beco Soleil and then the Ergo, telling me about how much they love both of these for older and bigger babies. Well, after trying on both of them I was convinced, but still not a huge fan of the $130 price tag. Fortunately, I’m not afraid to buy things a little used to get a great deal! I looked around on Craigslist, Varagesale, and a mommy group on facebook before finding one I really liked. Ultimately, I went with a Petunia Pickle Bottom print Ergo carrier. And I love it!!! I have already used it several times just around the house when Eden was feeling fussy. She is so comfortable back there, and I love being able to have her on my back. It is just so much more comfortable for me, and especially for my back (which is currently healing from carrying her wrong for 12mo… oops).

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 (Testing out the Ergo)

Also, I should mention one of the downsides to the Ergo. When they are infants, you do have to have the infant insert since they are so tiny. They recommend using the infant insert for babies from 7-9lb, and under 4 months. But at $25 that isn’t too bad.

Rating: A-

My main drawback really is that baby can’t face outwards. And Eden really loves being able to look out at the world! Also, the necessity of the infant insert isn’t my favorite thing. But I’m sure whenever we have baby #2, I will be headed straight to the store to pick one up!

And just for fun, lets take a look at how adorable these two are going skiing together! (This is a carrier we borrowed so Jd could take her down the slopes at Loveland, thanks Whit!) And can you believe it?! They went blue runs the whole way! Had she actually had a nap that day and not been exhausted, I think she would have loved it. As it was, she seemed pretty content :) The most nerve wracking part was being on the lift….

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 (Skiing with dad!!!)

Disclaimer: All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not paid or endorsed in any way to write this review, I just love the product!

Eden’s First Birthday Party!!!

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So we are all aware that the first birthday party, while a big deal, is really all for the mom. I decided to just embrace this fact. Keep in mind, that after this, Eden will actually have some opinions in the matter. This one is the only birthday party that I really get to hijack and make all my own. And it was amazing.

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As many of you know, I am a huge Phantom of the Opera fan. My dad took me to see it for the first time when I was 11, and I have been in love ever since. In fact, Music of the Night was the first song Eden ever heard. I played it for her in utero and even had the album playing in the delivery room (after I got the epidural and just wanted some rest). I also play it for her sometimes to help her go to sleep (especially during the really terrible reflux nights…) So it was only fitting that she have a Phantom of the Opera themed First Birthday Party. Complete with candles everywhere.

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And since we are already embracing the fact that this party is really for me, I decided it should be a Masquerade Ball. Yep. Completely over the top, and wholeheartedly unnecessary. I accept this.

My inspiration for the colors and decor came from the Masquerade scene from the musical, and decided to go with black, silver, gold and pale pink for the colors.

One of my favorite party things ever is a photo booth (clearly very popular right now) and since it was a Masquerade Ball, it was only fitting that everyone get to make their own mask at the party. Mine clearly had to be outstanding, so I made mine a week or so before the party. Ornate and over the top, coming right up! I went on Pinterest to find a few ideas for centerpieces and masks.

The centerpiece for the table I made using a wine bottle, gold spray paint, pink tulle and lots of frilly things. Jd made all of the food for a French theme with beef wellington bites, spinach artichoke dip, and some delicious cupcakes for dessert! He also put together a pitcher full of our favorite drink, the Gin Gin Mule. So tasty… I had great fun arranging all of the champagne glasses with little pink tulle bows on them :)

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For the guest masks, I kept it simple. Just a handful of assorted colored basic masks. To decorate, guests had the option of using metallic sharpies, feathers, sequins, and glitter.

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The photo booth was a huge hit and so simple. We hung a big black table cloth as a backdrop, and added a frame that my friend gave me and I spray painted gold. Add a few feather boas and personalized masks, and you have a photo booth!

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Eden adored her frilly gold dress! She just loved prancing around in it and playing with the skirt.

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And she loved having all of her little friends there to play with. They were just adorable!

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You can’t have a first birthday party without a cupcake smash…

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 And here are a few more pictures from the evening for you to enjoy!

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DIY Discovery Bottles

So I have been wanting to make Eden some discovery bottles lately (if you don’t know what those are, just search on Pinterest….) They look so fun! My friend Jena and I decided to get together and each make a set of 6 for our babies. After doing some research, we found that most people like to use the Voss water bottles (which can be found cheapest at Home Goods) because they are pretty and hold up well. Also, they are BPA free, so good for babies who mouth things. We weren’t sure whether or not others had used the glass or plastic, so each did a different version. The glass are taller and skinnier, while the plastic are shorter and fatter.

Being worried about the glass breaking, we decided to test it a few times and dropped a bottle a few times on a hard wood floor. We even dropped it at an angle. (In hindsight, please use glass. It turns out a four year old can do a bit more damage than just dropping it on the floor. One of mine broke within days haha) Keep in mind, too, that you can’t get the label off the glass bottles, while the ones on the plastic peel right off. Just go with the plastic….

We decided ahead of time on the different themes we wanted for each bottle. We wanted several that incorporated items that would sink vs float. We both loved the idea of a beach one, and a glitter and glue version (the glue slows down the glitter so that it takes several minutes to settle out). I also wanted a sound one, that would not have water in it.

We were most excited about the beach one, so started there. We used sand from a sand box (which needed lots of rinsing after the project was completed, craft sand would be cleaner and prettier from the start) blue marbles, and sea shells small enough to fit through the mouth of the bottles.

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The next was quickly a favorite. We did pom poms and pipe cleaners (spiraled around a pen). And added a little bit of glitter, because you can never have too much glitter ;)  It turns out you need to put the pom poms and pipe cleaners into the bottle the way you want them to ultimately look. And be careful not to add too many, or they can’t shift in the bottle.

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To continue with the idea of floating vs sinking, we next used buttons and ribbon. The idea being that the buttons would flow through the ribbon, helping it move in the water. At this point we were a bit distracted having fun and making a mess, so I’m afraid I forgot to take pictures.

Next up: sequins! In Jena’s bottle, we used red sequins, tiny red beads, and her super fun addition of a red corvette matchbox car! The car ended up “driving” through the beads and sequins, throwing them up in the water. It was kind of amazing.

For my sequin bottle, I used red sequins, these red spiral things that Jena had on hand, and red bells. The red spiral things didn’t fit very well in the bottle, so it meant it got stretched out as it went in, and only fit at the very outside of the bottle. This ended up having a really neat effect, as the bells would roll down the outside of the spiral.

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I also did bells and beads, for my sound bottle. Eden had great fun playing with all of the Mardi Gras beads, and this bottle was the first favorite for her. She loved the sound of the bells against the glass bottle! This is pretty much the only one that I would recommend using glass for.

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Next was the glitter and glue. For this one, we used hot water to help melt this glue. We added a nice amount of glitter, mixed it all in, then added it to the bottle to check the consistency. This was one other bottle where the glass came in handy at the moment, we could pour the mixture in hot and it wouldn’t melt the bottle.

*Side note, these glitter bottles can be used as a time out tool! (Obviously Eden is too young for that right now, but maybe in the future.) You just add enough glue to make the glitter take a certain amount of time to settle out. For example, add glue until the glitter takes two minutes to settle out. When your munchkin needs time out, the bottle gets shaken, and they can’t get up until all of the glitter has settled out.

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And here is the finished product! All of our discovery bottles :) Oh, we had decided to make tiny diaper bag versions of the poms and pipes using baby food jars. How cute are they?! And as you can see here, one glitter bottle has settled, while the other is still swirling. I just love the color! We were both pretty disappointed by the beach ones. The sand had just been too dirty, but getting them home and rinsing them out a bit really cleared out the water. I do recommend sealing the lids of the bottles with super glue, or something of that nature, so that inquisitive children can’t spill them all over your floor ;)

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Jena and I may have had more fun with them than the babies! But I think they just need some time to explore. Eden has definitely enjoyed playing with them since then!

Flamingos aren’t real, are they?

No wait, I’ve seen them at the zoo – the hubs

 

So I’ve been working on a bathroom re-do for Eden’s bathroom (aka the guest bathroom). I wanted to make it more kid friendly, but not so much that it is weird that its our guest bathroom. I didn’t take any before pictures (re-do began before I started the blog) so I’ll just have to tell you about it. I had a pretty, but plain gold colored shower curtain and used tan and green towels, with no bath mat.

And then, one fateful Ikea trip, I decided I was tired of not having bath mats, and didn’t care if they didn’t perfectly match our towels, I wanted bathmats! And then, I spotted this super adorable pink flamingo shower curtain on clearance for $7! Umm, yes I want it!

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So since it was for Eden’s bathroom, which I wanted to be more kid friendly, I figured I might as well buy two coordinating bath towels, a hand towel and washcloth, and of course, a bathmat.

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I also decide to do a fun little project to bring a little bit of personalization to the bathroom. I wanted to some flamingo hand print art. I used paints I already had on hand and some basic art paper.

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I used kindergarten technique to make myself some pink paint from the red and white I had.

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I made several different prints because we all know that babies love to cooperate and give us perfect handprints.

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Once I had the prints made, I cleaned the baby up and put her down for a nap (she was having a meltdown haha).

Now for drawing the actual flamingo. All I did was look at some examples online, and draw a head and legs from the pink paint, and then added a beak and eyes with black paint.

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One of my friends had the adorable idea that I could have used my own thumb print for the head of the flamingo. How cute would that have been? Oh well, too late.

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I then picked out my two favorites and put them in frames that I already had. Don’t they look great in Eden’s flamingo bathroom?! There are still a few things I want to do for decoration in here, I’ll keep you posted!

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 It already looks much cuter and more cohesive, which was my main goal, so yay flamingos!