A Letter To My Girl On Her First Birthday

Dear Frances,

I thought I knew who you would be. Maybe the girl version of your brother, or at least a prissy, fussy, girly girl. But you showed me! You are your own person, the most unique little chubby person I’ve ever met!

Speaking of chubby, you weigh 24 pounds and some change. I’m guessing you’re maybe 28-28.5″ tall but I’m not sure because I haven’t taken you to the pediatrician yet and I haven’t improved my baby measuring skills whatsoever. You have chubby hands, chubby feet, 6 chins, and cheeks for days. You have a belly that hangs over your pants, and you’re pretty much limited to wearing leggings because nothing else fits. I never knew how much I love baby chub! You even have little wide, chubby feet and I have the hardest time finding shoes to fit you because you only wear a size 3, and your feet are thick and wide. It’s pretty much moccasins all day, every day. But I’m ok with that, because you and I have about 10 sets of matching leggings and I love matching with you!

You don’t walk yet, but you do crawl. Sometimes you do the one knee crawl that your brother did, but you crawl like a regular baby a lot of the time. You’re super, super fast at crawling! You pull up and cruise and can walk behind a walker, or if someone holds your hands.

You can wave, and it is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. You wave at everybody – people in the Walmart parking lot, people driving by in cars, if you hear a boat pass at the lake, if you hear anybody at all say “hey” or “bye.” You are such a social animal! You also say, “Heeey” sometimes when you wave, which is adorable. Speaking of what you say, you sign “all done,” but I can’t get you to sign or say “more.” You say Mama, Dada, Ira, Poppa, Nana, and “no no.”

For a long, long time you were an awful sleeper. You haven’t napped while being worn since you were a newborn, you kept me up half the night and never napped and would only sleep in my bed, while nursing. When you started crawling I had to put you in your crib and we had some painful naps (like 2 hours of crying and then finally napping) and a few painful nights. But once you figured out that you needed to sleep in your crib, you started doing it like a champ. Sometimes naps are still hit and miss but at night, you sleep really well. All night long!

You still nurse 5-6 times a day probably, and you love to nurse. You’re really easygoing, so it isn’t necessarily so much about comfort, I think you just love milk. You do NOT love whole milk though – I started offering it with meals and you make a face like you might throw up and then you toss the cup at me. But that’s about the only thing I’ve ever found that you won’t eat. You love fruit – blueberries and strawberries are especially your favorite. You love chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, waffles…okay who am I kidding, really anything. I truly don’t think you’ve ever refused any food I’ve offered. You’ll typically eat for as long as I’ll feed you!

You like to be worn but you’re not going to nap while being worn, under any circumstance. I wear the Tula with you most of all, and you like to ride on my back for greenway walks or maybe at the grocery store. Your favorite things to do at home are to dump out the play kitchen food and put some of it back in the container and then dump it again; getting in your little rocking chair and rocking yourself; walking behind your walker; dancing to music (you do a sweet head nod); and patting the dogs on the head.

On your actual birthday, we were home alone because Mimi and Poppa were at the lake and Daddy worked, so we all loaded up and had birthday supper at Chick-fil-a. You cruised around the play area, ate a ton of chicken nuggets, even more ice cream, and generally had a lovely time. We had your party this weekend at the lake – nothing fancy, just family and our close friends. Food Lion cake with whipped cream icing (that said “Happy Birtday Francie” in the most atrocious penmanship I’ve ever seen) and a chocolate smash cake. I still don’t believe in doing big Pinterest parties for a first birthday, because you know what one year olds care about? Cake. You loved it, you smeared it everywhere, and it was a good day.

We love you so much, my big sweet baby girl! Happy first birthday!

5 Reasons to Decorate Early for Christmas

I know a lot of people get in a huff about decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. And I get it, I do. I don’t want to overshadow the importance of being thankful and celebrating family. But who says we can’t have both? Here are the five reasons that I personally decorate early for Christmas.

reasons to decorate for christmas early

1. It changes my attitude.

It isn’t just dreary fall anymore – it’s Christmas! It can be freezing cold and raining every day and I don’t care, because I can be inside curled up next to the tree. You’re not a weirdo watching Hallmark Christmas movies in your barren, sad living room on November 3, you’re decked out and enjoying a holiday tradition!

2. It gets me focused on my to-do list for the season.

Christmas shopping isn’t nearly as much fun when you’re just stacking boxes in a closet throughout all of dreary fall. Sitting in front of your tree shopping Amazon or wrapping up your presents to tuck under your Christmas tree feels festive and happy! Or when you wait until December 20, when everything seems to cost three times as much, you’re settling for what you can find in the store or get shipped on time, and you’re just generally scrambling. If the tree is up early, it reminds me that I want to look for good deals for Christmas and get my shopping done early so that I can actually enjoy the holidays.

3. It helps me keep up with the housework.

I don’t know why this works, I really can’t explain it. But for some reason, I will at least keep the living room a little bit more picked up if it’s decorated. Maybe it’s because next to the Christmas tree is my happy place, so I like to make sure everything is all zen around the tree. Or maybe I’m just crazy. But seriously, put your tree up and see if you notice a difference in your motivation to fold the clothes and put them away, put up the ten thousand tinker toys on the floor, or pick up the 25 water cups your family somehow accumulated throughout the day. I swear you’ll see a difference. At least most days. And until the toysplosion of Christmas morning happens.

4. Decorating is a lot of work.

I love Christmas, but let’s be honest. It’s a ton of work if you do anything beyond putting a wreath on the door. Hauling the tree and ten boxes of stuff up from the basement. Saying an infinite number of swear words when part of the tree isn’t lighting and then replacing 5,000 fuses to see if that helps (ask me how I know about that). Stringing the garland. Re-stringing the garland because it doesn’t please you the first time. Putting 200 Christmas ornaments on the tree and then rearranging them because their placement didn’t please you the first time. And if you do outside lights, bless your heart. That’s hours on a ladder with a staple gun, friend. And I am all for decorations! But if you’re going to put that kind of time and effort into it, enjoy it! Don’t put yourself through the horror of taking it all down and packing it back up in a month or less. Soak it up!

5. Your kids are never tired of Christmas.

Since I was in high school, I have always decorated early for Christmas, while my whole family moaned and groaned. I typically did it on Veteran’s Day because I was home from school, but this year I set a new record – November 2. The reason is because Ira is almost three and he could not possibly be more excited about Christmas. He bounced around the house all afternoon because we were decorating for Christmas. He didn’t want to go to bed because he was so excited that we got out the Fisher Price playset with Santa and Mrs. Claus (“North of the Pole” as Ira calls it). I didn’t believe in Santa for very long at all and I honestly have no memories of a Christmas when I really, truly believed. So if my time for Christmas magic is limited with him, then I want to enjoy it for as long as possible every single year.

What are your “rules” about when decorations go up and come down?

How to Find Amazing Christmas Gifts For $20 Or Less

Last year, I struggled so much with Christmas! I was working, but yet we were trying to save up for maternity leave and baby and I didn’t have a lot to spend. We didn’t have much to throw at Christmas, to be honest. Of course, I believe that Christmas is about SO much more than gifts, and gifts are one reason that Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday – they’re stressful, they’re expensive, and every year, my Christmas list makes me feel a little ill.

But this year, I’ve determined that things are going to be different! Truly, we can’t get out of gift-giving. We are blessed with a big extended family and they are all so sweet to buy gifts for us. That also means that I am left with a big Christmas list (to the tune of 20ish people).

So this year, I am determined to buy for all the important people in my life for less than $20 each. But I also want to give awesome gifts that people will love! So here is how I have mostly finished my shopping and come in under budget on every single gift. And you can too!

christmas gifts for less than 20 dollars

  1. Shop Amazon

This one is huge for me! And if you don’t have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend it. They post lightning deals every day that are only available to Prime members, you get free 2-day shipping on everything, you get a free kindle book a month, and Amazon Prime video (which is truly just as good as Netflix.)  It will pay for itself, let me promise you.  You can try it free for thirty days and I promise you’ll love it.

2. Join Barbee Dreamhouse Deals and Steals on Facebook

I do a lot of the hard work of combing Amazon to find those deals for you. Last night, some of our group members acted quickly and were able to get an HP chromebook for FREE. No joke. There was an amazon seller who was literally listing them for $0.00. And we all got our shipping notifications today. No signing up for anything, nothing crazy – just free stuff.  I don’t only post about Amazon – I post lots of links to sales, deals, promotions, awesome products on flash sale sites. I try to focus on things that I know will make great gifts, especially for kids and hard-to-shop-for like dads. Isn’t every dad pretty much impossible to shop for?

3. Join Zulily

Zulily posts incredible deals just about every day. If there’s something super special, I usually post it in the Barbee Dreamhouse group, but it’s worth checking every day to see if there’s a need you can fill. They have everything from home accessories, women’s clothes, kids’ clothes – you name it. It’s often really unique and fun stuff that makes for great gifts too. This is where you want to shop for mom and grandma, especially the ones that have everything and really need a super cool and unique gift!

4. Craft it yourself

I really don’t consider myself super crafty. But if you really need to stay on a budget, crafting can get you there. I personally use my cricut machine to cut heat transfer and regular vinyl, so I go to the dollar store or Walmart and buy cups, mugs, and t-shirts to personalize. Those sell for $20+ on etsy – but they’ll cost you very little to make. I crochet or knit hats, face cloths, and scarves. Those are all projects that you can make up with pretty cheap, bulky yarn so they don’t cost much and they get done quickly. And bam, you have a handmade gift.  Even if you think you can’t do that, I promise you can. Here are a few easy tutorials to get you started:

Crochet Face Cloth (make a set of these in fun colors, and you can also market them as dish cloths)

DIY Sharpie Mug (make a fun mug even without a fancy cutting machine or vinyl)

The “Everybody” Scarf – a super easy beginning crochet project

5. Buy it used

This really isn’t something I do for anyone but my kids – but let me promise you that your kids don’t care if their Power Wheels is new out of the box. You can find great deals on Craigslist and OfferUp for big ticket items that other people’s kids have outgrown. Check eBay for electronics and gaming systems. You can also save yourself a lot of time because you’re not going to have to be up at 3am on Christmas Eve putting tiny little pieces together on a bike or Barbie Jeep!

 

 

 

Theme Nights to Make Meal Planning Easy!

Theme Nights To Make Meal Planning Easier

 

The worst part of meal planning is coming up with what to make that you haven’t already eaten 20 times this month. Or making a list of everything that jumps out at you from Pinterest…and then realizing you’re eating Mexican six times this week. Theme nights to the rescue! It gives you a framework for your meal plan and makes every week feel like there’s a lot of variety. And makes you less like to growl at your family when you ask what they want to eat this week and your husband says, “I don’t care, just whatever,” and your toddler says “Mommy, I just hate food.” (Those are real quotes, y’all. Real quotes.)

Of course you can switch this up to fit your needs – and I don’t use this exact meal plan every week. Some nights, we already have plans to go out on a night that isn’t Saturday. And on nights that PB is working, I have a strict policy about not cooking real food, so we will eat leftovers or raid the cabinets/freezer on those nights. Also, sometimes categories overlap – we might have a Mexican meal or sandwiches made in the crock pot and then have sandwiches or Mexican again on that night later in the week, but that’s okay! Also, if we have a meal that makes a ton of leftovers, I might go ahead and have leftovers the second night instead of waiting until Saturday. But this is a good starting point.

So here are some ideas to get your meal plans going for the week (or even the whole month!) These are all recipes that I know turn out really well – and more importantly – that my family will eat.

Sunday – Slow Cooker or Grilling:

*I adjust this based on what season it is or what the weather is. More grilling in the summer or nice weather – more slow cooker stuff in the fall and winter!*

Slow Cooker Recipes:

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Slow Cooker King Ranch Chicken

Slow Cooker London Broil

Creamy Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

Crock Pot Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Complete Barbeque Chicken Dinner in the Crock Pot

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Creamy Crock Pot Spaghetti

Slow Cooker Cube Steak

Grilling Menu Ideas:

Steak (I use a bottle of Moore’s Marinade, a stick of melted butter, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes as my marinade)

Chicken (I use 2 parts Carolina Treet Barbecue Sauce to 1 part John Boy and Billy’s Grillin’ Sauce as my marinade)

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Monterey Chicken

 

Monday – Mexican:

Tacos (plain ol’ tacos – seasoning, meat, shells, tomatoes, bottled taco sauce)

Doritos taco salads (Taco meat tossed over lettuce with crunched up Doritos, tomatoes, cheese, onion. I like to use taco sauce and the Taco Bell Creamy Ranchero Sauce*as a dressing.)

Crock Pot Chicken Ranch Tacos

Easy Beef Enchiladas from Skinny Mom

Easy Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas

 

Tuesday – Italian:

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Lasagna Bowls

Stromboli

Spaghetti and Meatball Garlic Bread Subs

Plain old spaghetti and meatballs when Mama is lazy – spaghetti, jarred sauce, frozen meatballs

Plain old spaghetti and meat sauce when Mama is still lazy – spaghetti, jarred sauce, ground Italian sausage

 

Wednesday – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner:

Pesto Chicken

Baked Bruschetta Chicken

Chicken Fried Rice

Bang Bang Chicken Pasta

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf Cups

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Breasts

Cheesy Chicken Potato Casserole

Trader Joe’s frozen orange chicken (for a lazy mama night)

Chicken and mushroom soup in the crock pot for 6 hours on low – serve over rice or noodles

 

Thursday – Sandwiches or Soup:

Crock Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Crock Pot Meatball Subs

Crock Pot Potato Soup

Cowboy Chili

Italian Sandwich Crescent Bake

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

 

Friday – Fun Food (Pizza, Burgers, Chicken Tenders, Hot Dogs….anything easy and fun!)

Chicken tenders – yep, just frozen out of the bag with some fries and dipping sauces!

Fish sticks – just remember to buy tartar sauce to go with them!

Loaded Oven Chili Dogs

Juicy Lucy Burgers

Pizza Calzone

Garlic Bread Mini Pizzas

Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, waffles, biscuits, you get the idea)

Walking Frito Pie

Reuben Crescent Bake

Pizza Quesadillas

Waffle Iron Pizza Pockets

 

Saturday Night – Leftovers, Takeout or Out to Eat!

I recommend picking whatever your busiest night is. For us, chances are good that we have plans to see friends, go out with family, etc. on Saturday. And if not, chances are we have leftovers from the week that we need to get rid of!

 

*Affiliate link used!

af3007059b004696ed38d0871e78ffcc8b48cb533e24d63b9d

How to Host a Traveling Wrap

traveling wrap traveler host babywearing

 

Have you ever wondered how you could try a gorgeous woven wrap for your baby without spending hundreds of dollars? Actually, without spending anything except a shipping fee? Yes?! Then stay with me.

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know I am all about babywearing. When my son was little, I couldn’t get enough of having him in the carrier, and to this day, he still likes to be worn at 2 and a half. I’ve had so many different kinds of carriers, but I consider myself a pretty new wrapper. If you’re not familiar with all things babywearing, when I say “wrap,” I mean a long, woven piece of fabric you can tie 100 ways from Sunday.

And I know it sounds crazy, but these things go for hundreds of dollars. Yes, I used to think that was totally insane and I had a $75 hand-dyed wrap that I bought used for my first wrap. After you try some nice wraps though, you realize that you truly get what you pay for in a wrap. It’s crazy, but a really nice piece of woven fabric can make a giant toddler feel absolutely weightless on your back.

I have been so interested in Tekhni wraps because I think they’re absolutely beautiful, and I’ve heard great things about them, but everyone prefers different things in a wrap. I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a Tekhni before I’d had a chance to try them out. The best way for me to get to know the brand better was to try to get a traveling wrap. Individuals sometimes send their wraps out to people with older/bigger babies so that the wrap can be broken in and easy to use by the time the owner’s baby is born. And in some cases, wrap makers actually send out samples of their wraps to travel for awhile.

It doesn’t cost you anything to host a wrap, but you do pay shipping to your next host, and you need to send it with tracking and enough insurance to cover the cost of the wrap. Still, a shipping charge for a week with a wrap to play with is well worth it in my opinion! So I got lucky enough to get a traveling Tekhni for a week (and to sign up for more in the coming weeks). If you’d like to try a traveling wrap, here’s what you need to know!

How to Snag a Traveler:

Join Wrap Facebook Groups – And Participate!

Once I got some insight into the world of wraps, I discovered there are different Facebook groups for each brand of wrap. People post pictures, get excited about new releases, post what wrap they’re searching for, swap wraps, and sell wraps. Those groups sometimes also have opportunities for people who’d like to host a traveling wrap. If you’re an active part of the group, chances are that you’ll notice when someone posts a wanted ad for hosts for a wrap. You can also check the “in search of” posts or threads for a particular group and see if anyone has a wrap who needs some places to visit. The more you participate in the group, even if it’s just liking photos, the better your chances of getting a traveling wrap from a fellow member.

Have a Babywearing Feedback Link

There are a ton of babywearing swap groups on Facebook, and almost all of them have their own correlating feedback groups. Most people who want to send a wrap traveling will want to see positive feedback for their hosts. You have to realize that they’re sending out something that is (in some cases) worth hundreds of dollars, and they need to trust that you’re going to be honest and responsible with it. This isn’t to say that you have to have done 100 different wrap transactions with feedback documented. If you’ve never bought or sold a carrier in one of the Facebook groups, or maybe you didn’t get feedback for it, you can usually substitute feedback from other websites. Etsy, eBay, half.com, or any other large website where you’re being judged on your ability to participate in a fair, honest transaction are all helpful evidence that you’ll make a good host. Have all of those links prepared when you message someone to inquire about hosting their wrap.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Chances to Join Traveler Groups

In one group I’m in, there was a short window of time where people could ask to join a secret wrap traveling group, where someone from the wrap company is the administrator. This particular group has almost every style of wrap that the brand makes. They’re all out traveling around, so there are tons of chances to try out different things. Once you’re in the group, you’ll need to keep an eye out for when host sign ups for particular wraps are going to happen. Jump on them when you see them, because they usually fill up within minutes. As long as you set yourself a reminder and make sure you’re on the sign up page as soon as it opens, you have a great shot at getting a host spot.

When You’re Hosting a Wrap:

Report ANY Flaws Right Away

And I really do mean ANY flaws. Go over the wrap carefully when you get it, and make sure you let the owner or the group admin know that there are stains, shifted threads, or pulls, as soon as you pull it out of the package. Document with photo evidence if necessary. It’s normal for wraps to get some pulls and shifted threads, and they can be fixed, but you just need to make sure that you don’t get blamed for somehow damaging the wrap. With that in mind –

Be Gentle

I am the first to tell you that I’m not easy on my wraps. They’re meant to carry babies and a lot of times, that needs to happen outside when your tails might touch the ground. Babies can also be nasty little creatures who get slobber or other bodily fluids on your wrap. None of that is a big deal. Just be a courteous host and don’t be around cigarette or campfire smoke with your wrap, try not to do a ton of cooking that could subject your wrap to stains or smells, and try to pull your dog off of it when she wants to burrow into it. Maybe you’ll only have that problem if you have a weenie dog named Brenda, but you know. Add it to the list anyway.

Wash If Needed, But Get Permission First!

Frances can be a little rude, and she pooped on my traveling wrap. You can always count on France for an inopportune diaper blowout! No way was I sending a traveling wrap on to the next host with poo on it. I made sure to ask the group admin if it was okay if I washed the wrap and explained the situation. I also checked with her that it was okay to use Charlie’s Soap on it. Most people will say that it needs to be washed in a detergent without optical brighteners, so don’t throw it in your washer with your regular Tide. I also use the delicate cycle and tumble dry low heat to make sure I don’t mess up or shrink the wrap.

Let The Next Host or Owner When You Pass the Wrap On

Make sure you get a tracking number, you ship on time, and you let the owner/admin know that you’ve shipped, as well as the next host. It helps everything run smoothly and gives everyone peace of mind that the wrap isn’t floating around without a home. Remember that a lot of these wraps cost a lot of money, and some have sentimental value to their owners, so treat them well.

And that’s everything you need to know about hosting a traveling wrap! Have you ever hosted a wrap? What was your experience like?

Five on Friday

It’s Friday! Time for another round of Five on Friday!

Come play along and link up five things you’ve had going on this week, five things you love, or just whatever makes your heart happy to write about on a Friday.

 

{ONE}

IMG_0218 IMG_0266

Francie girl had her six month checkup, which confirmed what we all knew already; she’s huge! She’s super happy and she’s my little social butterfly. As long as I’m within sight, she loves to smile and flirt and play with anybody. She still loves to be worn, still won’t take a paci, and she won’t take a sippy with milk – but she will take one with water. She’s stubborn, is basically what I mean. Hmmm, wonder where she ever got that from? She’s not been sleeping well at all at night – it takes me from about 8:30 to midnight or 1 to get her settled down for a few hours stretch usually, and then she’s generally up a few more times after that. It’s easier to have a little perspective on that when you have a second baby though. Ira sleeps for 12 hours at night and takes a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon. No fuss, no crying, no problems. So I know that this phase is likely short! And she’s so sweet and snuggly at other times, you couldn’t be mad at her even if you wanted to.

{TWO)

I just started using Periscope and I think it’s so much fun! I’m going to try to participate in the #octoberscopers challenge even though I totally failed at it yesterday.

october scopers

I hope you’ll head over to periscope and follow me, and you can watch me make a fool out of myself and broadcast likely un-showered! My username is @barbeedreamhse

{THREE}

pumpkin pie spice cookie butter trader joe's

My mom happened to be over by the Most Fantastic Trader Joe’s Ever yesterday. She bought all of the pumpkin stuff. All of it. She said you might as well call her “Forest Gump-kin” – pumpkin cookie butter, pumpkin pop-tarts, pumpkin Joe Joe cookies, pumpkin granola, pumpkin macarons, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin bar mix, pumpkin O’s cereal….seriously, I have every single one of those things sitting on my kitchen bar right now. And I have tried just about all of it, and it is ALL amazing. So get yourself over to Trader Joe’s if you haven’t been and buy all the pumpkin!

{FOUR}

Funny Ira-isms of the week. He’s been such a character this week. We went out to supper at the Stag and Doe on Wednesday and my friend Sam said “Hmm, I’m not sure what to get.” Ira looked up and responded matter of factly, “You should probably look at your menu.” He kills me!

Then last night he jumped up on the bed in Francie’s room and grabbed the Boppy. He said, “Mommy you just put Francie up here and I will nurse her for you. I will give her milk from my milk parts on my tummy.” Buddy, if you could do that, mama would be getting a lot more sleep!

IMG_0273

He picked out this new bike helmet because his 1-3 years helmet wasn’t fitting him very well anymore. We went to the park the other day to ride his balance bike. It’s been raining so much that I packed everyone up and headed out the moment we saw the sun peeking out because I thought we might all go crazy otherwise! I think we are slated for more rain for what feels like another two years with Joaquin heading up this way, so I’m glad we were able to at least play outside once!

five on friday

{FIVE}

IMG_0274

I felt like we needed to take a sketchy selfie last night because I was having so much fun with these guys watching The Little Mermaid! I couldn’t believe how into it both kids were. I’m pretty excited to be able to start watching some family movies together. I also loved The Little Mermaid as a kid, but I hadn’t seen it so long that I honestly couldn’t remember all of the plot details. It’s actually such a good movie!

 

What have you been up to this week? Come link up and tell us about it!

How I Wash My Cloth Diapers

washing-machine-707161_1280

I’m now cloth diapering my second kiddo, and I have been through a few re-workings of my wash routine between two hineys in fluff. Much of the popular wisdom on the internet in years past said you needed to use a “cloth diaper safe” detergent. Think Rockin’ Green, Bum Genius, Charlie’s Soap. I used Rockin’ Green and Charlie’s Soap and couldn’t figure out why my diapers were all stinking something TERRIBLE. They smelled like a goat pen, y’all. It was bad.

I started doing some research and joined the group Fluff Love & CD Science group on Facebook and discovered I was doing everything wrong. I stripped my diapers according to their recommendations (not with blue Dawn! Ever!) Then I started over with a new detergent and wash routine. It took a week or two, but my diapers were back, baby. No more stink. They actually smelled like lovely fresh laundry straight out of the dryer. Instead of, you know, dried llama poop.

I just got the Periscope app and have been playing around with it and decided to do a scope about my wash routine, since it’s laundry day! I’ll link at the bottom if you’re interested in hearing me talk about how I do diaper laundry.

I’m also going to give you guys a written version of the way I wash diapers. I have a Maytag front loader, and contrary to what the old CD advice was, if you’re using a good detergent (Persil, Tide, or Gain) – front loaders and HE machines actually are much better at cleaning cloth. I’ve never been happier with my wash routine!

Detergent: 

You need a real, honest to goodness detergent. Not Charlie’s Soap, not Rockin’ Green, not Bum Genius. I talk about it in the video ad nauseam, but I started using Persil and I absolutely love it. When I was using Gain, I was happy with my routine but I still needed to add a scoop of Oxyclean to every wash to avoid stink issues. Not so with Persil! I have used the liquid and the powder and I like both, but I find the powder is less messy, and some say it works better than the liquid if you have hard water.

Pre-Wash:

Quick wash (or whatever the quickest setting on your washer is)

Cold water

Extra high spin

NO extra rinses – I forgot to mention it in the video but you really don’t need a thousand extra rinses on your diapers like I used to think. In fact, you specifically want to avoid it in this pre-wash cycle because you’re going to be rinsing your diapers with nasty water.

Main Wash:

Heavy duty (but I avoid the sanitize cycle or the power wash cycle because I think it’s too much exposure to hot water – I talk about that in the video!)

Hot water

Extra high spin

Max extract

 

You are fine to dry them in the dryer on a normal heat setting. Yes, sunning is great for stains, but it is totally not necessary that you get out there and hang them on the clothesline three times a week like you’re a pioneer wash-woman. If you want to, great. If you have children who are marking all over their feet with markers like my eldest child did today, put the diapers in the dryer instead and make sure he at least doesn’t write on the furniture.

Here are the videos if you’d like to see me chat about my wash routine! And I would love it if you came over and joined me on Periscope. Come follow me @barbeedreamhse – It’s a fun app and it’s more fun if I have people watching!

Part 1: How to Pre-Wash Your Diapers

Part 2: How to Do Your Main Wash on Cloth Diapers

Oh hey, Joyce Parker

closet before

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up * by now. There have been blog posts about it, it’s been on the Today Show, and now there are even Facebook groups celebrating the magical method of KonMari. Because y’all know I am a SAHMess, you know tidying up is a really big problem for me. I love stuff. I have lots of stuff. I love cheap stuff that I find on eBay or at consignment sales or at the CVAN thrift store. I keep stuff because one day I might have a use for it.

Well, I read Marie Kondo’s book (because in true nerdy slob fashion, I’d rather read a book about how best to tidy up than actually just spend an hour tidying up). To be honest, my house should be cleaner than anyone’s because I have followed the Flylady system, I have read Dana’s blog over at A Slob Comes Clean and I’ve listened to a lot of her podcasts, and I’ve read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. I have tried very hard to develop “habits” that keep my house clean like they all say I have to do. And habits are important. But sometimes, the toddler has screamed and had a wrestling match with me about wearing a pull up to bed. And sometimes, it took me an hour to nurse the baby to sleep. And sometimes, after I do both of those things, I want to sit in front of the tv with a cold beverage instead of putting away clothes or loading the dishwasher.

But tidying up is different. You go by categories, starting with clothes (tops, more specifically). You get out every single thing you own in that category. Every. Single. Thing. And then you decide whether that item sparks joy. You touch it, pick it up, and even try it on if necessary. If it isn’t a joy sparker, you don’t keep it. In one of the KonMari Facebook groups I am in, someone’s husband said “Who is this Joyce Parker you keep talking about?” and now it’s sort of the running joke about the KonMari method.

When we came home from the mountains this summer I had just finished the book and I dove into my categories the night we got home. I took all my tops out of the closet and piled them on the bed and got rid of anything that wasn’t a Joyce Parker item.  Because I LOVE tops, and I’m always buying a new top at Target, or the CVAN thrift store, or buying a new t-shirt from a place I like to visit, tops are a serious issue for me. It felt awesome to get rid of four huge garbage bags of just shirts. And just summer shirts, at that. I have a few more totes of winter shirts in the basement!

IMG_9084

But I kind of got stalled out after that, until this weekend. I was over at Mom’s because PB was going to wire their TV for them. Mom decided to work on her closet while we were there, so I jumped in to help her. We did a big impromptu KonMari session in one afternoon. Tops, bottoms, shoes, purses. It was amazing! She started out with her whole closet about six inches deep in shoes, stuff on shelves, stuff on hangers, you name it.

closet before

When we were done, she had about half of her hanging space freed up! And all of her floor space!

IMG_0161

Look at this huge pile to go to the thrift store! Woohoo!

IMG_0162

Just looking at her closet made me want to go home and do some KM magic of my own. I decided it was time to clear out the shoes and purses, so I tore them all out and ta-da – filled up three more big trash bags to take to the CVAN thrift store.

And then I got the itch to do my cup cabinet, even though that’s technically out of order. But if I opened up the cabinet one more time to have all the sippy cups fall out on my head (literally), I was going to scream. One big diaper box full of jars, coffee mugs, and sippy cups later, and my cabinet was sparking all kinds of joy!

IMG_0197

Now that I have freed up a ton of space and realized we only drink out of Solo cups and plastic cups from UNC basketball games and Tweetsie, I have thought about getting 4 new Pioneer Woman glasses that I’ve had my eye on. They’re SO gorgeous.

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015PK31GE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B015PK31GE&linkCode=as2&tag=thyomaam0f-20&linkId=V4R7KAOACRTF4TKW”><img border=”0″ src=”http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B015PK31GE&Format=_SL110_&ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thyomaam0f-20″ ></a><img src=”http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thyomaam0f-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B015PK31GE” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

So if you haven’t read the book, I definitely recommend it and I’d love for you to feel the weight of less clutter lifting off your shoulders! It’s pretty amazing!

*In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything through them. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands!

Giveaway!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been part of a giveaway so I’m excited to say that I’m part of one starting today! It’s running until October 9th. The prize is a $20 Amazon gift card and a super awesome assortment of pink and gold prizes!  There’s the cutest mug I’ve ever seen, a really sweet pink and gold planner, and a set of pink pencils with #hustle in gold (I’m dying!)

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Pockets

Oh, breakfast. It is a continual problem at our house. Me, I’m not really that into breakfast. A cup of coffee Two cups of coffee Three cups of coffee and maybe a protein bar and I’m good to go. My husband, however, bless him, is a Breakfast Person. Someone who requires breakfast every day like this the Waffle House.  This is not to say he’s a jerk about it because he isn’t – he’s never asked me to make him breakfast. But we just have this constant struggle about “What do we have that I can eat for breakfast?” And my usual breakfasts of protein bars or dry cereal or English muffins with peanut butter don’t work for him. He just blinks at me. He requires an actual hot breakfast including meat. It’s crazy. But there you have it.

Before, when I was working, my attitude about breakfast was that I’d buy whatever he wanted to cook himself when I was at the store. After that, pal, you’re on your own unless you’re one of my kids. For awhile, that meant hot dogs. But then we decided maybe he was going to turn into a hot dog, so maybe we should scale back on those. The problem is, neither one of us are morning people – we just aren’t going to wake up at 6am to cook eggs and bacon. We are left with this problem of What to Feed the Bear for Breakfast.

Since I’ve started my journey as a #SAHMess, I thought maybe I would try to help him out. The thing is though, I’m still not getting up at 6am to make eggs and bacon. I have a baby who doesn’t go to bed until midnight a lot of nights, and who wants to nurse half the night once she does go to bed. And even if I’m ready to get up because Phillip is banging around the bedroom getting ready for work, I don’t dare move or start the coffee maker, because I’m guaranteed to wake up at least one kid. And chances are, that kid is going to be a super grouch.

So, I’ve been trying to develop solutions to this problem. This week’s attempt at a solution are these:

IMG_9973

I made these little, ugly sandwiches. Phillip doesn’t like biscuits, isn’t really a fan of English muffins (see above) and doesn’t really do the whole breakfast burrito thing. So here you have it. Ugly little breakfast nuggets! I adapted this recipe from Meal Planning Mommies but I decided that making homemade dough was just more than I could bear. Instead, I grabbed crescent roll dough sheets and saved a ton of work!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough Sheets
  • 4 slices American Cheese (or you can use shredded)
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 package bacon

Instructions:

  • Cook bacon – I did this by putting it in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. You could add a little more if you really like crispy bacon, but we don’t.
  • While the bacon is cooking, whisk eggs together in a large bowl, adding salt and pepper (and a splash of milk, if that’s your thing in scrambled eggs).
  • Cook eggs until they are just barely starting to solidify. Remove from heat so they don’t keep cooking too much! You want them just scrambled enough so that they hold together somewhat. If we’re being real here, I probably cooked my eggs too much. Seriously, take them off before you think you should – they’ll keep cooking in the pan.
  • Roll out dough and cut into squares (I cut each sheet into 6 pieces with a pizza cutter).

IMG_9967

  • Place bacon on dough squares, then top with scoops of egg and pieces of cheese.
  • Roll up dough squares into ugly little breakfast balls.

IMG_9968

  • Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes.

I wrapped each of mine in a piece of wax paper, then in foil and put in a freezer ziploc bag. Then they went straight into the deep freezer. To reheat from frozen, put on the defrost setting for about 30 seconds, then heat on high for another 30.

IMG_9970

I am hoping that this solves our breakfast dilemma in a way that doesn’t involve me getting up at 6am to scramble eggs, or PB spending $5 every day at the drive through. They aren’t fancy, but they solve a problem for us! What are your go-to breakfast foods?