Friday, August 31, 2012

Shopping for Kids Clothes

I don't know about you, but to me, shopping for kids clothes is a headache. Whether you are scouring overcrowded (non-stroller friendly) stores or searching the web the simple task of a new fall wardrobe can get overwhelming.

The problem starts with having to purchase a whole new wardrobe that you very well know they will not be able to re-wear past the current season. So the bargain searching begins. I've never been one to scour consignment shops. Tsk, tsk I know! I just personally find it a job to haul my kid out and store hop for a great deal. I do hit up the outlet malls and Kohl's from time to time, but really my search usually happens on the web. I can do it from my own home and anytime of day I want.

18022_Kohl's Buy More Save More: 20% Off $100 with Code FRIEND20, Valid 8/31-9/3

My typical go-to is Old Navy. I prefer to spend as least as possible on E's everyday clothes. Even with a second boy on the way, I know that these clothes will be pretty near worn out by the time E gets done with them. I sit and wait for a 30% off coupon or $5 T-shirt sale, order enough for free shipping and make sure to use my favorite money saving site Ebates

If you haven't signed up for Ebates you should! Basically how it works is that you start your shopping trip there, search the store you want to purchase something from and then click the link. It will automatically track your purchase and give you a certain percentage back on what you spend. Over the Labor Day Weekend there are several stores offering some really great deals...

Target - 4%
Macy's - 6%
JCP - 8%
Holiday Inn - 13.5%
Groupon - 6%
Kohls - 6%

Yes, I know some of these figures aren't mind blowing, but every little bit counts right? Combine cash back with your normal discount codes and free shipping and you really have yourself a deal! At the end of every quarter they will send you a "Big Fat Check" in the mail with your savings. And yes, they truly do....I've received several! In fact so far this year I've earned over $200 just by clicking through Ebates

You can also use Ebates for Zulily which is another place I've had luck finding E a few holiday outfits (which seems to be an adventure all to itself), toys, shoes and of course things for myself. 

Mostly for holiday outfits though I've been shopping on Facebook. Last year I shopped mostly on Etsy but I have to admit that I apparently did not know that you had to shop way in advance for Christmas and Thanksgiving outfits and have saved a ton by doing things ahead this year (think August people) and pre-ordering through FB auction sites. Yep, I've ordered pretty much all of Ethan's holiday stuff already and am awaiting for it to ship out. A few of my favorite FB sites are...

As for shoes...I also use the internet. I can't fathom the thought of taking E to an actual store to "try on" shoes. I'm pretty sure it would be my personal version of hell so instead I order multiple styles and sizes from places that have free shipping and free returns like Endless and Zappos. I just recently ordered over 10 pairs from these places combined. Only one pair fit (crazy, I know) but no worries returning is easy (and free) with these places so they are currently on their way back. A couple days ago I placed my first online order through Stride Rite which sadly does not offer free returns, but I can usually get a good fit out of their shoes since they offer a variety of sizes and widths in their brands that most places do not. In fact, this weekend they are having a BOGO 50% off sale with free shipping (not returns). And, if you order through Ebates you can get an additional 4.5% off as well!

So I'm curious...What are your favorite places to shop? How do you tackle the task of clothing your kid(s)? Any secrets???

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Toddler Time - Sponge Painting

Ethan and I have been keeping up with the Toddler Time routine and I have to say I really do enjoy it. It's not only providing Ethan with knowledge, but it's also great bonding time that is fun!

As a SAHM you would think that bonding time wouldn't even be an issue. I'm with him every minute right? It's true, I am. But sometimes, ok most of the time...I'm not 100% there. I'm folding clothes, getting dinner ready, paying bills...ya-da, ya-da. So it's nice to have a planned out time where he gets my 100% undivided attention. I clear my mind and my to-do list and it's just him and me having fun.  

I recently went to Jo-Anne's and the Dollar Tree to rack up on some "educational" supplies. There's a lot of crafty stuff I haven't put together just yet, but my shopping spree should keep us busy for quite awhile. One of the items I bought at the Dollar Tree was a packet of shape sponges. For $1 they are providing a lot of fun! In fact, Ethan even had the cashier open them up for him before we left the store. 

For this particular Toddler Time I used finger paints so that he could do a little sponge painting. We talked about the shapes he was using as well as which color paint he decided to dip them in. 

Yep. It's messy. Nope, it doesn't last long. And yes, of course the clean-up takes longer than the actual Toddler Time, but to me it's worth it. He's learning and he's definitely having fun. 

Plus it's providing me with some great fridge art!

I've got a few more ideas for these water sponge art on the driveway. Hey! There's a clean solution to Toddler Time right? He also plays with them at bath time sometimes which is another great time to teach since there aren't many distractions. 

I hope you guys are finding this series of posts useful. I know a lot of these ideas aren't mind blowing, but sometimes I find that it's the simple stuff we overlook. I was surprised by how many ideas I got from just the comment section of my first Toddler Time post. It encouraged me to revisit puzzles with Ethan (which I found he loved if I cut out all other distractions) as well as do a little more talking in our everyday life. We count the steps every time we go downstairs (he can now say numbers 1-5) and we talk about what color the traffic light is and whether it means stop or go every time we are on the road. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section and make sure to come back to read others comments later on! You might get a spark of an idea, you never know. It's true that it takes a village to raise a child and I certainly appreciate this village and all the ideas and encouragement it has provided me with.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jackson - Week 22 in the Making

This little one is growing like a am I. I can definitely feel my energy slowly slipping away and the freak outs about just how much time I don't have left are certainly beginning. At this point I'm pretty certain I won't have the nursery 100% finished by the time this kid arrives. 

I'm hormonal and emotional, but otherwise feeling pretty good. Jackson's arrival date has been moved up to 39 weeks since I will be scheduled a c-section so instead of being what I had hoped a 41 week new years baby, he will be a 39 week pre-Christmas baby. Planning at it's finest folks. Cue major freak out sessions. Can you even imagine planning future birthdays?!?

Total Weight Gained: 14 pounds...seriously. Yeah...pretty sure I'm going to hit a 40 pound gain again! I may or may not have been having sugar cravings this past month and let's just say the sugar hits me right in the thighs. Lord help me because really, I can't help myself. I have no will power. Period.

Sleep: No more restful sleep for this mama. I've been waking up quite frequently either to pee or because I'm so freaking hot or just plain uncomfortable. 

Best Moment of the Week: How about of the past month since it's been that long since I've updated? Finding out the gender and picking a name! 

Belly Button: Still flattish. 

Labor Signs: Nope.

Movement: Looks like I'll have another busy boy on my hands. If I stop moving, this kid goes crazy. His favorite spot to kick me? Right in the bladder of course. I don't remember Ethan moving this much at all!

Food Craving: I'm just hungry in general these days. Sugar, crunchy stuff, McDonalds...bring it on! Yeah those 14 pounds I mentioned? I earned them.

What I Miss: I could really use a glass of wine...or three. 

What I'm Looking Forward to: Buying stuff for this new little one because he has zero things of his own at this point. I haven't bought a stitch of clothing for him or gotten started on his room. I may or may not be freaking out about this...see I could use that wine. Immediately.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Need a Recharge

I think I've hit that point in pregnancy where your head just constantly spins. If my husband read this sentence I'm pretty sure he would envision the girl from the Exorcist and think I was talking about how crazy my hormones have been, but no...I'm more talking about my brain spinning with all the things that need to get done before Baby #2 arrives.'s probably time for me to start referring to him by name and not simply Baby #2.

Every time the end of August rolls around I get this feeling of anxiety that wells up inside me about how jam packed the end of the year will be. Between an upcoming vacation, Ethan's birthday and all the holidays I know that we will be ringing in 2013 before we can even blink.  

The end of the year means we will be a family of four.


This should also probably mean that by the time 2013 rolls around we should have bedrooms for said children. Believe it or not...they do actually sleep at times. Currently I myself and not such a believer...two year molars are ZERO fun!

We have a billion and one things to do to this new house we just moved into, but at this point we are in the process of finishing up the guest bedroom. Ethan's big boy room is secretly (or not so secretly anymore) my "stash it and forget it" room. Seriously it could put some of those hoarder shows to shame. Ok, not really, but to me it feels like it. Maybe it could win a scene on Clean House at least? All the decor and wall items we haven't put up yet are still sitting in there along with all my craft stuff and all the other crap that builds up when you lose an additional bedroom. 

Please tell me...what are you suppose to do with all the stuff that you "have to keep" but don't really use when you have enough kids to fill ALL the bedrooms...eeks!

I'm starting to form a great plan for E's big boy room in my head, but as for Jackson's nursery??? I've got nothing. No inspiration. No thoughts. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Hopefully that will come as I get E's room underway. For head is in a million different places and I...well...I'm creatively maxed out. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Toddler Time - Play-Doh Fun

Now that Ethan is almost two we seem to have days where I feel like he is into everything and nothing all at the same time. What a contradictory statement right? If you are a toddler parent though I'm sure you know what I mean. He's into everything I'd like him not to be into (like the freezer, the cabinets, the dog bowl) but if I try to distract him with toys his attention span for those might last 30 seconds at best.

He's also at the point where he's ready to start learning and I've got a general list of things I'd like him to know before he turns three. The problem is...I don't know how to teach him. At first he responded well to me telling him what something was and then repeating it back to me. Now when I ask him questions I'm either ignored or I get his irresistibly cute, but equally irritating "Nooooo". 

I was not very into school. I was in all the honors classes and such, but it didn't come easy for me. The problem was I never really knew how to study. Therefore I think it makes it difficult for me to teach. I don't want Ethan to have to struggle like I did and I'd like to do my best to get him off to a great start.

Last night I started researching on Pinterest for toddler friendly learning activities and I gathered that maybe I was going about this whole learning thing the wrong way. He's simply not ready for me to quiz him. He just wants to explore. The idea is that through exploring hopefully he will organically learn all the things I'm desperately trying to teach him. So I hit up Pinterest for some ideas and came up with at least 30 that I can start trying out. 

At first I was looking for worksheets. A teaching plan if you will. As usual, I was ahead of myself and rushing things. After everything I saw on Pinterest I learned that teaching a toddler is all about fun and exploring the senses. The biggest thing I picked up on was that I just needed to relax and have fun with him. He would learn things as we went along. 

It turns out I had unknowingly already started teaching him a few weeks ago when I began setting aside some time for art sessions. I have to admit that I originally started doing this to distract him while I was getting dinner started, but that was a big flop. He needed my full attention to keep him seated there for more than a minute. Let's just say putting the paint out and cleaning it up were taking longer than the actual project. So I moved activity time up to right after his nap and made sure to keep myself fully focused on him. 

I've been desperately trying to teach him his colors so I broke out the crayons and paint. I'd constantly quiz him on what color he was using and tried to make sure he was doing everything in the right order. "First water, then paint, now paper....NO, not your fingers!...use the paintbrush." I'd be frustrated because he wasn't doing things in the correct way. After reading several blogs I figured out that it was me that was holding him back. I needed to relax and let him figure things out for himself. Fingers are okay in paint. Paint does not ultimately have to make it to the paper. Breathe. Stop quizzing. Just talk. 

Because he asked nicely, we actually did our art time early today. Today we played with Play-Doh. I cut out shapes of animals and told him what they were, what sounds they made and what color of Play-Doh we used. I try to keep the quizzing to a minimum and the fun to the fullest. 

Then he asked for his favorite toys at the moment...trucks! So we brought a couple over and I made "rocks" for him to haul and push around. I flattened some play-doh out and taught him how to make tire tracks.

We both had a lot more fun. I was a ton less frustrated. Yes, we still had moments...there will be no throwing of the Play-Doh...and of course that led to toddler-like acting out, but overall we had a great time. 

Is he ready for a pop quiz? Nope, not hardly. But hopefully over time, he will pick up on the things I want him know. He will learn them because he had fun doing so not because I constantly quizzed him or printed out nifty worksheets. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So What Wednesday

It's been way too long since I've joined in on Shannon's So What! Wednesday so I thought I'd join in the fun today. 

So what if...

  • I feel myself slowly sliding back into my sugar-holic-ness even though I told myself this pregnancy I would not. It started with an extra sugar in my beloved iced coffees, which then led to caramel, oh and whipped cream....yes, please. My thighs are already showing effects.
  • I refuse to scrub our shower while pregnant. I hate shower chemicals but I've yet to find any alternative that I feel cleans just as good. I say I don't do it for the chemicals, but truthfully, it's just a good excuse to get my husband to do it.
  • I wear the same pair of shorts every day. They get washed....occasionally. 
  • I still have several Olympic events recorded on the DVR. I want to watch them, but now I feel so uncool doing so after it's already over.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with our dark hardwood floors. OMG no one tells you how much work they are to keep clean! I refuse to steam clean more than once a week, but they could use it every other day.
  • I went to Wal-Mart yesterday to grab a new x-acto knife and somehow came out with $50 worth of stuff...why does this always happen?
  • I watch every single series of RH but I'm refusing to watch Miami ever again. They wasted too many hours of my life watching them have lunch the first go around!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Few More Jackson Updates

Thank you so much for all the love on our gender reveal video! We are so happy to be having another boy and can't wait for him to get here so all the fun (errr...trouble) can begin. I have high hopes for Ethan and Jackson to be the best of friends later on. Hopefully their closeness in age will help this as well. I see them being involved in so many of the same things, but of course if they have different interests that will be fun as well.

We had so much fun making the video. Sadly it almost didn't happen. I put things off to the last minute and up until the morning of our appointment I thought we would not be finding out that day until we opened the box. Of course, we didn't have people lined up to get balloons and sneak them in the box I hadn't made yet so that didn't exactly pan out. So we found out at the appointment (hence the lack of surprise on me and my husband's faces in the video...we really do need to work on our acting skills!), but it was all for the best. It made making the video so much more of a fun process and really all the joy was in watching Ethan open the box full of balloons. 

Speaking of Ethan, he has no idea what is coming. I'm pretty sure he won't grasp it until Jackson is here either. We try to explain that he will be a big brother and that there is a baby in mommy's stomach at which he promptly lifts up his shirt and points to his belly and says "Baby!". For now, he's in love with his new blue balloons. 

Some of you may be wondering why we picked the name Jackson and really...just like the name Ethan...we picked it because we like it. I've been in love with the name Jackson ever since watching Steele Magnolias. It just sounds so southern. People are already coming up with nicknames of course...Jack, J.R (whatever as long as it's not Jr.)...but to me he will always be Jackson even when he's all grown up. 

After all of our family watched the video I received an email from my uncle that informed me that my choice of names was not so random after all. We used the family name of Reed as his middle name because it was my grandmother's maiden name and my father's middle name. It turns out that 6 generations back there was actually a Jackson Reed so it looks like we picked a true family name afterall.

I feel like time is going so much faster this time around and crazy enough I feel like we have double the amount of stuff to do before Jackson gets here than we did prior to Ethan's arrival. I'm currently brainstorming on big boy rooms and nurseries. Not to mention Ethan's big boy room is currently my junk room (everyone has one of those right?) so all of that needs to find a proper home. 

I have a feeling that between all the home updates, room re-do's and a certain someone's 2nd birthday I will be creatively maxed out by the time January arrives. I'm looking forward to every bit of it though. Just crossing my fingers and sending up a prayer that I can get it all done in time!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gender Reveal!!!

Will we be on team pink or blue??? Turn up your volume and watch to find out!

Friday Tidbits

  • The most exciting bit of news is that we are finding out the gender of Baby #2 this morning! I had high hopes of having a gender reveal party, but with the move and what not, things just didn't pan out. We'll see if I can pull something together to make this gender reveal a little special...seeing as how it's suppose to happen today...the odds aren't great.

  • Week one of MDO has come and gone and I have to say it has already been such a blessing. I can feel things getting back on track. The house is a little cleaner, I'm a little happier and Ethan is loving it. I think we both needed a better schedule. Ok let's face it...we had zero schedule. So this new thing we have going on is very refreshing.

  • Being in a new town, I'm on the prowl for new mommy friends. For some reason, this makes me feel like I'm dating. I dressed up all nice (read: not yoga pants) for MDO open house and actually seemed to make some connections, and now...I'm constantly keeping an eye out for these PNMF's (potential new mommy friends) at every drop off and pick up. I did manage to track down one PNMF on FB but I feel too stalker-ish to send her a message. Did I mention I hated dating...ugh.

  • I've been crazy emotional this week. Like crying numerous times while driving down the road just thinking about anything and everything, but mostly about baby #2 and what that's going to mean for our family. I guess my hormones are in full force, but being pregnant the second time around is nothing like the first time. I think it's safe to say that I always feel on the edge of my seat that it could be taken away from me at any moment and yeah...well. Maybe this is a post all in itself.

  • My 10 year class reunion is right around the corner and this pregnant lady needs a dress. Any suggestions on where I might find one...I've looked at A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood, but not sure where else I should check? A reunion is terrifying enough, but going pregnant is just not dream scenario. Ugh. 

  • Ok that's all I've got. Literally, I cannot think of anything more than ultrasound, ultrasound, ultrasound! Be on the look out for the gender announcement soon! YAY!!! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Relishing in the Moment

Normally I'm the type of person who rushes from one thing to another. I'll start a project and can't wait for it to be completed so I can move onto the next. Rarely do I ever take the time to just relish in the progression of something. I just want to cross the items off the list so I can...well make another list and begin the process again.

I guess it's something about the thrill of knowing I completed something. I accomplished something. I can say...ok, well, I did that. Now what?

In some ways I view my kid(s) this way. 

There's x amount of time to grow baby number two before I can say...great, I grew a healthy baby now lets make it past the first year. 

There's x amount of time before Ethan should be transitioned to a big boy bed before I can begin on number 2's nursery.

Although I know that each moment I spend with my son is precious, yesterday slapped me in the face pretty hard when it reminded me of how fast time really goes. Ethan starting Mother's Day Out was a big milestone for our family. Other than family, Ethan has never been in anyone elses care and now, two days a week, he will be spending his days elsewhere. 

I saw time flashing before my eyes as I was packing up his little lunchbox the night before. 

How did this happen? How did he grow so quickly? Yes, today it is just Mother's Day Out, but in a couple of years it will be Kindergarten and then before I know it he will be graduating and moving away.

Dramatic? Maybe. 

Hormonal? Definitely.

Pre-baby days I always said I could happily skip to the part where they were 5. I knew nothing about babies, but I knew that taking them to school, carting them around to ballgames, helping them with school projects would all be a blast. 

Present me? Well, I realize how fleeting each moment is. I realize that once I cross these milestones off the "Kid To-Do" list I will never get another chance to do them again. That time will be gone and I want to make sure I relish in the progression of each of those milestones because they are precious. 

I made it through the day yesterday without shedding a tear. I woke up extra early, so early in fact that I was twiddling my thumbs (in case you didn't know...this never happens. I'm always late. Always.). I dressed Ethan in his cute little outfit and tried to take pictures. 

He found sweeping more interesting. I kept clicking away anyways.

We drove to "school" (Mmhmm, I call it school. Get over it.) and I talked to him about what his day would be like and promised that he would have fun and that I would pick him up later that day. 

I got him out of the car, put his backpack on him and held his little hand as we walked toward his teacher. He was gripping my hand so tightly, but he let her pick him up and they walked away.

He never looked back.

He was going to be okay. 

He truly has grown so much, so fast, it makes me both proud and sad at the same time. 

How do they grow up so quickly? 

**A special thanks to Ruffles and Bow Ties for making Ethan's super cute shirt!**

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This..

To say that I'm ready for this week to be over is like the understatement of the year. It's gotta be a full moon out there. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is. Right? Yeah...pretty sure. 

**Sidenote: Why does a full moon make everyone crazy...I've never gotten an explanation on that one.**

You know how earlier this week I was all "Cue: crazy emotions" about Ethan going to MDO? Bahaha....don't tell him but...I'm so ready now. I love him and all, but this toddler is nuts. He has decided to no longer eat anything that he doesn't find himself, "No!" is his new favorite word and taking him out in public is hardly an option anymore. Yesterday he decided that he needed to open or throw out everything in the grocery cart. I tried to get the milk and found him mere seconds away from throwing an egg across the store. I'm telling you...we are going through a phase. 

This would be my child ON our kitchen counter licking up the sugar and coffee grounds he spilled.....yes, you read that all correctly.

We recently bought stools for our bar top counters and they are going to be the death of me. Literally my little monkey will not stay off of them. He's also learned to push them around EVERYWHERE. So that knife you were thinking about setting on the counter? Yeah no, you might have to put it in the cabinet instead.

I'm two seconds away from rush ordering those crazy kiddie proof door knob things for my pantry. 

The stools are also used for letting my little guy help himself to anything and everything in the pantry. Yesterday he threw Orzo pasta around like rice on newlyweds.

You would think that I never watch this kid, but I do. I swear. There are just times that I have to go to the bathroom or Lord forbid, change out the laundry in the washer and dryer. I know. I could take him with me, but he has this love for flushing the toilet a million times and I don't know about you, but I've never taken a liking to bidets.

In other non toddler related rants, I have taken a liking to the color purple. I have this affliction where every season I unknowingly pick a favorite color and buy everything in it. I've had a blue phase, a black phase, a grey phase and's apparently purple.

The guest room and guest bathroom are about to be my next purple causality. Today as I was picking out paint colors I became convinced that my laundry room should also be purple. The sensible me realizes this is probably not good for resale and I should stop while I'm ahead. Crazy me, thinks purple looks pretty damn good. My husband warns me that I don't want to be that person who has that crazy guest room that people hate to stay in. I've always believed you want to make them comfortable, but not so comfortable that they don't want to leave...purple might be the answer. Besides, my high school science teacher always told me "It takes a special person to wear purple, but you wear it well.". I always took that as a compliment, but now I'm not exactly sure what he meant by the word "special" ?

Speaking of the husband...I slaved away on a dinner that included not one but TWO sides last night. Um, hello....this is a miracle. He has the audacity to come home late because of work (pish, posh...who needs work) and then tells me my fabulous Alton Brown Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes taste like Spearmint.....what????? 

Did I mention that this entire meal was cooked while listening to high pitched toddler screams while I had him trapped in the pack-n-play. Did I husband, did I???? Did I also mention that said toddler refused to wear a diaper the whole time thus creating a lot of laundry???? Chipotle tasting like spearmint....I never.

So, I used this opportunity (like any sensible woman would) to talk him into buying me a cake. You know, because cake makes everything better. 


Yeah....I'm more than ready for Friday. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ethan at 21 Months

We are 4 short days from being 22 months old. I got this one in just under the wire folks. 

Secret: The only reason I'm looking forward to him being two is so that I don't have to do these anymore. I know, I know. Awful, but true. I hate when I have to do things. We will just chalk that up to the artistic side of me. 

Ethan's interests are quickly expanding while his attention span...not so much. He goes from one fun thing to another within a matter of seconds. Sometimes I find it hard to keep up with him!

I've been hearing "no" a lot more from this kid lately. My usual questions of "Are you ready to do X,Y,Z" are having to switch to commands otherwise it is a sure fire "No!". Although this stage has certainly not been easy, it is so much fun to watch him learn and explore. 

PS: Please overlook his mismatched pajama bottoms. Sometimes we are so busy having fun that we just give up on matching outfits. 

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