Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back and Looking Forward

The five goals Little Misters and I had for 2011 and an assessment of how we did:
  1. Work on infant potty training: He was great in the beginning of the year and went downhill in summer.
  2. Learn five ASL signs: Little Misters signs milk, all done, more, please, and up (my own version). He knows potty but doesn't sign it and will copy eat.
  3. Play and read books together: I was inconsistent throughout the year. I read a lot to him when he went through his huge book phase a few months ago and we've been going to the park once a week for the past few months. At home I can improve.
  4. Have a consistent schedule: Check! But now that he is older, I need to make a new one.
  5. Finish organizing and decorating his room: Almost done. I just need to hang up a few more things.
Our goals for 2012:
  1. Work on infant potty training. I want him to at least tell me when he has to poop. I'll start by taking him every hour and diaper change. No more laziness!
  2. Get him sleeping in his crib and waking up no more than once. He was doing great until 9 months hit and so did chaos for three weeks. Since then, every time he made progress something drastic happened, so I gave up. I'm hoping that converting his crib to a toddler bed might help because I can lie with him in his bed to help him back to sleep.
  3. Wean! This kid is very attached to nursing. He drinks cow's milk and water, but I still nurse 4 or more times a day and at night. I had gotten it down to 3 or 4 a day, but this last week Little Misters was sick from a double ear infection and teething and wanted nothing but me. I want him completely weaned by the time he turns 2.
  4. Make a new schedule. It will include play time with me and with Dad and learning time. Our mornings are usually good; it's just the afternoons that are hard.
  5. Establish discipline. I just started reading The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, which I got for Christmas. I hope it works for us!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Kings Day Giveaway [CLOSED]

January 6 is Three Kings Day, a huge holiday in the Hispanic and Catholic world. It celebrates the day the three wise men arrived to worship the Savior and brought Him gifts. The traditional tale is that the wise men still travel around the world giving gifts to all the good children. Children leave out their shoes or bowls filled with hay and water to feed the kings' camels (or horses), and the kings leave their gifts in the shoes.

I grew up celebrating Three Kings Day in my family and at The House of Puerto Rico--San Diego with salsa music and delicious Puerto Rican food. Christmas was bigger in my house in terms of presents, but we were more excited to leave grass and water for the camels; we never left out cookies for Santa. We looked forward to being surprised with another gift or two in the morning.

It is my pleasure to share this tradition with you. I will give away three gifts to one lucky winner (since I am sponsoring this giveaway, no reviews or advertising besides the shop links are included):

1. A felt wool coin purse from The Loft Full of Goodies.

2.  A 2012 desk calendar from Jim Meissner Fine Art/James Otto Contemporary Art.

3.  A necklace from Lady Hawke Originals (you choose which pendant; chain included).

Mandatory Entry: Like my Facebook page.

2 entries: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Tell me what is one of your favorite posts on this blog. If you are new, take a look around.

1 entry: Post this giveaway on Facebook.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Sunday, January 1. The winner will be announced Monday, January 2. Please leave your email in one of your comments so I can contact you if you win. Good luck! (This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada only.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tips for Healthier Macaroni and Cheese

Every kid loves boxed macaroni and cheese. You make it because it’s easy and fast, but it isn’t very nutritious! The good news is that you can ease your conscience and satisfy your child with healthier macaroni and cheeese by doing one or more of the following ideas:
  • Use nonfat milk and half the amount of required butter to eliminate a lot of fat.
  • Add peas or mixed vegetables for some fiber.
  • Use creamed corn instead of the butter to make the macaroni and cheese creamy.
  • For protein, mix in canned tuna or low-fat chili. Adding both protein and vegetables will fill up your child faster, causing them to eat less and one box of macaroni and cheese to last a lot longer.
  • Buy all-natural, whole-wheat boxed macaroni and cheese at your local health food store.
  • Serve macaroni and cheese as a side dish instead of as the main meal to ensure your child eats less of it and more of something healthier, like a sandwich, an apple, or salad.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shopping Smart at Walmart

Due to the recession, Walmart increased in sales and clientele. If you are among the Walmart shoppers, there are certain things you need to know to save money.
  1. Usually buying bigger or more lowers the price of a product. However, Walmart takes advantage of this fact to trick shoppers, sometimes increasing the price of a product as it gets bigger. Check the unit price to see if buying two smaller packages would save you money.
  2. The Walmart brand is not always the cheapest brand, although store brands are usually cheaper than name brands. Look at the other brands to see if you can find the product at a cheaper price.
  3. Walmart price matches, meaning that if you find a product they sell being sold cheaper at another store, they will sell it to you at the other store’s price. Browse the flyers you get in the mail to check competitor prices. You don't even need to bring in the ad; just tell them the price (be honest!). This is especially great if Walmart is closer to you than other stores, because you also save on gas.
  4. Use coupons. Print out manufacturer coupons from online (including or cut them out of flyers. Go here to read Walmart's coupon policy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Save Money on Greeting Cards

Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, weddings—they all require cards. With so many holidays and events throughout the year, the bill for greeting and thank-you cards quickly adds up. Try these tips to save money on greeting and thank-you cards, making both your wallet and loved ones happy.

Craig P
Buy greeting cards at the dollar store. They have very nice cards, and some stores even sell them for only 50 cents. Check out sales, especially after holidays, at regular stores too. Buy thank-you and all-purpose note cards in bulk packages and Christmas cards in box sets. Although blank inside, they are cheaper and allow room for longer, more personal messages.

Cut off the front half of a received greeting card if there is no writing on the back. Punch a hole in it and tie it with ribbon to a gift bag or tape it to a wrapped present. Write a short message on the back or just to and from.  Or make your own card by gluing the cut card to the front of folded paper. You can also cut out the inside message of the greeting card to use inside your own card.

Alaina Cherup
Instead of buying greeting cards, make your own. Putting in time and creativity will make the card more personal and appreciated. Use cardstock or scrapbook paper and decorate it with stickers, photos, ribbon, stamps, buttons, and other craft items. Browse greeting cards at the store or online for design and message ideas. Search for jokes, quotes, and poems online or write your own.

Have a greeting card you've made that you would like to share? Post a photo of it on my Facebook page!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Avoid Returns and Exchanges

Long lines at the store don't cease after Christmas. In fact, they might get even longer from everyone returning or exchanging their Christmas gifts. Here's how to avoid that situation:

As a Getter
~Make a very specific Christmas wish list of things you would like to ensure you don't get something you wouldn't like.
~ List things of different prices to give people options that fit their budget.
~Include your clothing and shoe sizes and favorite brands and styles.
~Share your favorite color, band, movies, restaurants, etc.
~Let people know what you already have or really don't want. It's better to be bold now and save you both embarrassment if you don't like their gift.

As a Giver
~Ask for all the above information from the people for whom you're buying gifts.
~Always include a gift receipt to make returns/exchanges easier.
~If you're at a complete loss of what to buy, just give them a gift card or money. Sometimes being creative can be a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Remember Christ during Christmas

"Be It Unto Me" by Liz Lemon Swindle

“Jesus is the reason for the season” is more often said than remembered. This Christmas use the following ideas to remember Jesus, for this holiday is in celebration of His birth.
  • Have each family member give a gift to Jesus by writing down a promise to do or not do something, such as helping more, being nicer to a sibling, or not lying. Keep the written promises in a wrapped box under the tree. On Christmas Day, New Year’s, or the following Christmas, open up the box and have everyone evaluate his or her improvement.
  • Set aside one night, such as Christmas Eve, as a holy night of reading from the scriptures the Christmas story and other stories of Jesus’s life and teachings. Sing together or play on an instrument the Christmas hymns.
  • Follow a scriptural advent calendar, reading a scripture about Jesus every night.
  • Involve the family in service: the Savior’s life was all about serving others. There are plenty of opportunities during Christmas.
  • Visit friends, bringing treats and singing holy Christmas carols.
  • Watch religious Christmas programs, pageants, and choir performances to remember Christ. Even better, participate in one.
  • Decorate your home with nativity scenes and favorite pictures of Jesus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cheap & Easy Christmas Ornaments

You don't need to splurge on fancy Christmas ornaments to have a gorgeous tree. Here are some simple, easy, and inexpensive ideas for decorating your Christmas tree on a budget:

Tie Christmas-themed/colored ribbons to the tree branches or wrap ribbon around the tree like a garland. Michael's has good sales on ribbon.

Make paper chains out of Christmas-colored/themed scrapbook paper.

Cut snowflakes out of paper or fabric.

Hang candy canes on the tree branches. Or make fake candy canes out of red and white pipe cleaners twisted together.

Make fancy stars out of leftover wrapping paper. (Just make them smaller so they fit on the tree.)

Let your kids make handmade ornaments out of paper and glitter, pine cones, popsicle sticks, etc.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Have you already bought the big Cristmas presents only to be stumped by what to put in the stockings?
The ideas are endless! Here are a few to get you started. Just keep in mind each person's likes and interests to make the gifts meaningful and appreciated.

Practical Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  • chapstick
  • makeup
  • nail polish
  • small school or office supplies
  • bath & body products
  • small kitchen gadgets
  • treats: nuts, candy, exotic fruit, gum/mints
  • gift cards, including prepaid
  • money
Fun Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  • golf balls or tees 
  • tickets to an event or place
  • small craft items
  • ornaments
  • stickers
  • bubbles
  • jewelry
  • receipt to something that hasn't arrived yet or for a virtual purchase (like Netflix)
  • inside jokes, like bandages for a klutz or something silly the person frequently borrows from you or never seems to have when needed
Where to Get Cheap Stocking Stuffers
  • dollar stores
  • Target's $1 spot
  • Michael's
  • Party City's party favor and candy aisle
  • clearance

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Family Christmas Pageant
 Make this Christmas memorable by having your own family Christmas pageant.

First, assign the parts for the Christmas pageant. Make sure everyone is included.  If there are extra parts, have someone double up on smaller parts or invite another family to participate.

Dress up the family in bathrobes, sandals, and towels or shawls around their heads. Check old Halloween costumes for angel wings, crowns, and anything else relevant to the Christmas story. Use your children’s toys (stuffed animals, baby doll, etc.) as props. Spend time together making other props, such as the star or manger.

Decide whether you will narrate the Christmas story from the scriptures, write a script so the children have speaking parts, or both.

If you want, invite family and friends to watch your Christmas pageant. You may want to practice a few times before the performance. Set apart a "stage" area and provide enough seats if people are coming. Play holy Christmas music softly in the background and use candles to set the mood. Record the pageant to watch every Christmas or to send to relatives.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

I found this yummy blueberry recipe on The Colorful Apron. They were perfect for a sugar-free Halloween party I attended this year and everyone liked them. I made them again last night and changed a few things:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and applesauce.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until moist. Add the honey and fold in the blueberries.
  4. Bake in a greased muffin pan for 20 minutes. (I used paper cups and the muffins stuck since I took out the oil.) Makes 1 dozen.
I love them and I usually don't like blueberry anything. My husband likes them and he's picky about healthy recipes. I hope you enjoy them too!

*or 1/4 cup coconut oil

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No More Cold Sheets

Does your baby wake up when you place him or her in the crib (or bed, if you co-sleep) because the sheets are cold? Have you been told to warm the sheets up in the dryer only to realize it's too much work? Here are three easy solutions for no more cold sheets:

1. Lay a flannel or fleece blanket on top of the sheet and tuck the edges between the mattress and crib. (For co-sleepers, tuck the top edge under the pillows.) Flannel and fleece don't get cold easily, and if they do get cold, it's easy to throw just a blanket in the dryer instead of undoing and remaking the bed to warm up the sheets. You can also make or buy flannel or fleece sheets, but using a blanket is cheaper and easier.

2. Place a microwavable heat pack or an electric heat pad in the middle of the crib or bed. Make sure it's not too hot before placing the baby down.

3. For co-sleepers, simply have another family member lie down in the bed to warm it up before putting the baby down.


The winner of the Lilly's Lucky Penny vintage children's book giveaway is comment #20 "I had forgotten all about the coloring books that you colored with water. What a memory that was!" by AmbreRose. Congratulations!
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