Saturday, March 31, 2012

Which Etsy Shop Banner?

I want to buy an Etsy shop set since I can't use any Winnie-the-Pooh images. I've gotten it down to two. Which do think better fits my shop, The Shop at Pooh Corner?

*This one has bees and honeycomb, representative of Pooh's favorite treat.

*This one reminds me of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sunshine Flowers Cute Kid Contest

My friend from Sunshine Flowers, whose work I reviewed in January, is having a giveaway on her Facebook page. Like her page and post a photo of your cute child. The three that get the most votes will win store credit! I need to find a cute photo of Caden to post.

Potty Party

Out of nowhere, Caden is suddenly interested in potty training. He went from refusing to sit on the potty to wanting to sit there all morning while I sing Primary activity songs to him (his favorite is "Roll Your Hands"). Once he even told me he had to go by pointing to the potty during a diaper change. He's only gone a couple times in the potty, but I'm just happy he's willing to sit there!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Choosing the Perfect Middle Name

There are so many resources out there on how to choose the perfect baby name that we often forget about the baby’s middle name. A baby’s middle name can be just as fun to choose as, if not more fun to choose than, the first name. Use these tips to choose the perfect middle name for your baby.
  • Family names make good middle names if you would like to honor a family member or relative but do not like the person’s name as a first name, especially if it is old-fashioned or in another language. Our son's middle name is his great-grandfather's name (and my husband's middle name). The same idea applies to the names of friends and other important people in your life.
  • Your maiden name could be a middle name if you want to honor your family name without hyphenating it with your new last name. This idea also works for Latino families who live in the U.S.: my nieces and nephews all have two names as first names and “Huerta” (my sister-in-law’s maiden name) as their middle name.
  • If you like a certain letter but cannot agree on a middle name or you want to honor two people whose names have the same initial letter, simply use the letter. For example, my half-brother’s middle name is just the letter L because his parents couldn’t agree on what it stood for.
  • Quirky names are good for middle names because your baby can be unique without having to deal with the problems of having a weird—or weirdly spelled—first name, and because middle names are minimally used. For example, one friend of a friend gave his baby boy the middle name “Pez” because he obsessively collects Pez dispensers.
  • If there is no special name you already have in mind, then pick a few other names that you like. Try them out with the chosen first name to see which one goes best. Listen for a nice flow.
  • If your baby has two first names, such as Mary Ann, then consider not adding a middle name. Keep things simple for your baby.
  • Remember to consider what the baby's initials would be.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Healthy & Yummy Toddler Snacks

photo by ramasamy chidambaram
Toddlers don't have to be as picky as they tend to be. If we feed them the right foods from the start, they will develop a taste for healthful foods. It's much easier than giving them junk food first and then trying to switch to vegetables! Of course toddlers will still have a sweet tooth, but you can satisfy their cravings with better options. Try feeding the following yummy snacks to your toddler.

Raisins and other dried fruit: Sweet and chewy and more nutritious than fruit snacks. My son's favorite is dried apricots.

Plain air-popped popcorn: I've never had a kid complain even though they've had microwave/theater popcorn.

Plain yogurt with granola and fresh fruit: Granola's sweetness will mask the tartness of the yogurt. If your child still doesn't like it, try Yoplait kids' yogurt. It has 25 percent less sugar than other kids' yogurt, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Or make a fruit salad coated in a little vanilla yogurt.

Nuts and all-natural peanut butter: Excellent source of protein and good fats. See if they like the nuts raw and unsalted for an even healthier option. (Note: Some pediatricians recommend toddlers not eating nuts and nut products until they are two years old).

Plain tortilla chips: If you have to have junk food, choose the one with only two ingredients, one of them being a whole grain. Skip flavored chips.

Various veggies: Think outside the carrot stick. Try cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, celery (make ants on a log using peanut butter and raisins), or cooked squash (my son likes spaghetti squash with olive oil and salt).

Fresh fruit: Introduce a new fruit every week: kiwis, pineapple, various melons, peaches, nectarines, papaya, persimmons, plums, blood oranges, pears, or olives (it's fun putting them on your fingers and then eating them).

Graham crackers: Good replacement for cookies.

Annie's all-natural shells & cheese: Tastes way better than Kraft macaroni and cheese. I like to add in mixed veggies.

Fruit juice popsicles: Freeze 100-percent fruit juice (and maybe some fruit bits too) in popsicle molds for a cold, sweet treat.

Of course, you can also continue feeding them all the healthy foods they ate as babies, found in my post Cheap and Easy Baby Food.

Happy eating!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the Leafy Treetops--Or Under My Porch Awning

Several months ago I noticed a bird nest under the back porch awning. I never saw a bird in it. Then a few weeks ago I noticed another nest next to the first! But still no bird.

Then a couple days ago when we were outside, I noticed a bird flying around my house, the neighbors' houses, and my yard. Whenever we were far from the awning it would get close, and vice versa. It finally clicked that this bird was the owner of the nest(s) and that I probably hadn't realized until now since we only started playing out back recently.

I saw the bird resting in the nest from inside, but whenever I tried taking a picture, it would fly away.

It took me numerous tries to get a closer photo. This is as close as I could get. Does anyone know what kind of bird it is?

I wonder if there are eggs or chicks in the nest? I can't tell and I don't want to get too close.


The winner of the Bundle Baby Nursery 8x10 customized print giveaway is comment #77 by Ashley Morrissey. The winner of the Easy Stroll stoller handle is comment #5 by Mama Love. Congrats to you both and enjoy your prizes!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Caden's Room Is Finally Finished!

One of my goals last year was to finish decorating Caden's room. I just put up the last decor yesterday (and we move in a few months--good thing it's just sticky tack and paper). I bought the paper either shortly before or after his birth, used it for one project a few months later, then a few months ago cut out Caden's name on the Cricut. I wanted to mount it to cardboard to make it sturdier, but cardboard would damage my Cricut blade. So I finally decided yesterday to put it up as is.

Even with everything up, I still think his room looks so bare. But that's my style: simple.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mommy Jokes

It's been a while since I've posted some jokes! Here are my favorites from Will and Guy's Funny Clean Jokes.

While assembling furniture, Liz asked her friend's six-year-old son, Ricky, to bring her a screwdriver.
"Do you want a 'Daddy' screwdriver or a 'Mommy' screwdriver?"  Ricky politely inquired.
Confused by the question, Liz responded with, "Bring me a 'Mommy' screwdriver."
Ricky returned and handed her a butter knife.
Jimmy Johnson forgot his lines in a Sunday school play. Luckily his is mother was in the front row especially to prompt him.
She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Jimmy's memory was completely blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, "I am the light of the world."
Jimmy beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice announced, "My mother is the light of the world."
4 years old - My mommy can do anything.
8 years old - My mom knows a lot.
12 years old - My mother doesn't really know quite everything.
14 years old - Naturally, mother doesn't know that, either.
16 years old - Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 years old - That old woman? She's way out of date.
25 years old - Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 years old - Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 years old - Wonder what Mom would have thought about it.
65 years old - Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Little Teddy Bear: Why I Co-Sleep with My Baby

I became a co-sleeper by accident. My newborn baby nursed a lot, and I wasn't getting any sleep since once I am awake I do not fall back asleep easily. I decided to try nursing in the side-lying position, and wa-la, co-sleeping was born. It was so much easier to just fall back asleep than to stay awake waiting for him to finish.

There have been some negative consequences (for me) from co-sleeping, but for the most part I enjoy it. I love snuggling together as a family, knowing we are all safe and sound. I love knowing that my little one finds peace and security sleeping with us. I love when my son cuddles next to me, rolling over until he finds me and settling in like a little teddy bear. I love seeing my husband and son bond in their sleep.

Even so, I don't plan on regularly co-sleeping with the rest of my children. But our bed will always be open to them. I have fond memories of Saturday mornings climbing into my parents' bed along with my brother, playing and laughing until my mom left because there was no room. I loved the times when my mom would lie down with me when I was sick until I fell asleep. I remember when my other brother and his small family would all sleep together in the same bed when they came to visit us. I want all those tender moments for my family too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baby Food Jar Favors

Once Caden started eating baby food, I found myself with a ton of jars I didn't want to throw away but had no use for. Then I came up with an idea: as my gift/favors for the blessingways I attended, I decorated baby food jars with paper and ribbon and put a tealight candle inside for the ladies to light when the mother went into labor. Super cheap and easy!

First version:

Second version:

Third version:

I ran out of ribbon, and the store didn't have any more, so I used what I had and it came out ok:

You could fill the baby jars with candy instead for baby shower favors. Baby food jars also make great storage containers for craft items, such as buttons and confetti. How have you used baby food jars?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Piqued My Pinterest

A couple weeks ago I joined Pinterest and last week I unjoined. Here's why:

You may not feel the same. But since I had hardly been on there, it was easy for me to leave. One less thing I have to worry about updating and sharing, too!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blessingway vs. Baby Shower

In the past four months I have hosted three blessingways (and have zero photos--sad, I know). I had never even heard of a blessingway until I offered to throw a baby shower for a friend, but someone else wanted to, so another friend offered that we would give her a blessingway instead.

What is a blessingway?
A blessingway is a special event to honor motherhood and birth. Its purpose is to encourage and support the mother as she mentally prepares for her baby's birth. Instead of giving gifts for the baby, attendees write letters or poetry for the mother or give her a pampering or handmade item, such as lotion. The women may address fears the mother has or share their own inspiring stories. Other activities may include drawing on the mother's belly, tying yarn on their wrists or ankles as a reminder of the mother, or doing a bead ceremony (each person chooses a bead for a necklace and says a positive word, like peace).

How is it different from a baby shower?
A blessingway focuses on the mother and her mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation for birth. It is more sacred in nature. A baby shower focuses on the baby and material preparation and is more lighthearted and fun-oriented.

Who should have a blessingway?
Blessingways are great for women who either find great joy in or fear childbirth, enjoy bonding activities, or have all the baby things they need.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Whenever new neighbors would move into our neighborhood, my mother would welcome them with homemade bread or invite them over to dinner. After I got married, I invited new couples to our home. Very few of them became lasting friends. Often, including when I was growing up, people would accept my friendship until they found their niche and forgot me. Ever since we moved out here, I've only invited a handful of people over, some who are good friends now and some who are not.

The first street we lived on housed mostly single students. We didn't have any problems until Caden was born and partyers moved in next door. Every weekend we had to call the cops. Fortunately, they moved out after that semester. Then we were transferred to another house for safety reasons. The cul de sac was mostly deserted, but more people moved in at the start of fall. I didn't bother getting to know anyone.

I usually take Caden to the park, but after my mother visited and cleaned up my backyard last month, I let Caden play outside. The yards are not fenced and are circled around a little grassy area, connecting the houses on my side of the cul de sac with the three houses on the street behind us.

The boy to the far right is the one who played with Caden.

Monday a young boy, who lived next to a family I knew from church, was outside too. My sister-in-law was here with me and went out and introduced herself to the boy's mother and dog. I was polite but a little standoffish at first. Once I began talking to them, I realized I liked them. The six-year-old boy was very smart, sweet, and silly and didn't mind playing with my eighteen-month-old son. They invited us to play on their slip n slide later that afternoon. When Caden woke up from his nap, I put him in last year's swim outfit, which surprisingly still fits him, and went outside to join the family I knew and the neighbors I just met.

Caden had a blast playing in the water and with the other children. After the other family left, he stayed outside with the other boy for another hour or so playing with the trucks the boy had given--yes, given--him, while I talked to the mom. The boy asked if he could knock on our door anytime to see if Caden could play. I was so touched by his desire to play with a toddler and the fact that Caden made a new friend. Yesterday we knocked on his door to see if he could play, and he did.

I am so sorry I did not step out of my comfort zone sooner and get to know our neighbors, especially since we're leaving in a few months (closer to Justin's work in Scottsdale, Keshia). I really want to throw a neigborhood party now so that I can meet the rest of my neighbors.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bundle Baby Nursery 8x10 Customized Print Giveaway [CLOSED]

I came across Bundle Baby Nursery through the LDS Etsy team. The seller, Jessica, creates adorable nursery art:

*Absolutely darling artwork! And unique.
*Great prices.
*Customization offered (colors and/or name). Look at the other photos under each listing for options.
*You can also make any print into a card, which I'm doing with the above elephant one for Father's Day.
*Awesome seller!

*Her work is so great that I would love to see more variety and different sizes.

Jessica is graciously giving away an 8x10 print of your choice with customization. If you would like to buy something from her shop, use the coupon code 15BBABYBLOGFA for 15% off! It expires May 1, 2012.

Mandatory Entry: Visit Bundle Baby Nursery and tell me which print you would choose or a print you would like to see in her shop.

3 entries: Enter my other giveaway.

2 entries: Add Bundle Baby Nursery to your favorite shops on Etsy. Leave your username.

2 entries: Add Jessica to your circle on Etsy. Leave your username.

1 entry: Follow this blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Friday, March 23. The winner will be announced on Saturday, March 24. Please leave your email in one of your entries so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!


Kim has graciously declined the Easter package prize (she's our mother-in-law). A new winner has been chosen: comment #17 by Nancy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eighteen Months Update

Caden turned 18 months last week. At his appointment, he weighed the same (23 lbs.) but he grew 3 inches! That would explain his sleeping more and always being hungry. I feel like I'm feeding a newborn, except newborns are easier to feed.

He asked to wear the hat. Trying to be just like Daddy.

Caden's favorite thing to say is still "What's that?" He's really into learning and discovering new things. Smart kid (no surprise there considering who his mommy is, jk). A few days ago he repeated after me and said socks and Titi (Auntie in Puerto Rican Spanish).

His molars are coming in and he has been in a lot of pain. Poor guy. He still has no interest in potty training, much to my dismay. Caden loves being outside. If he could have it his way, he would spend all his time at the park or walking around the grass behind our house. I hope that stays with him as he grows older. He is also a little rebel. Whenever he does something he knows he's not supposed to, he scolds himself, "No, no no," imitating my intonations, and then does it anyway.

(I was holding him--that's why the photo came out weird)

Two Sundays ago was his first official day in Nursery. He has spent time in there much longer, of course, since I'm a Nursery coordinator. Ever since he was one, I would leave him in there while I set up and cleaned up the rooms. He would get mad when I took him out or, when he was older, would only cry if he saw me. Then the past month I stayed with him the whole time and he freaked out whenever I left to clean up. Last Sunday his aunt dropped him off. It didn't help. He cried for half an hour. He was starting to calm down, then heard my voice outside and started up again. I stayed with him the rest of the time, but he was still emotional. Why, now that he is Nursery age, does he not want to stay when he had no problems a few months ago? Many of my friends have said they experienced the same with their child(ren). We'll see how long it takes him to go without crying. But we'll be moving this summer, which will probably throw him off again. Sigh.


The winner of the A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle Easter package giveaway is comment #2 by Kim. Congrats! That's the first time such a low number has won a giveaway on this blog.

The winner of the PrintRunner customized stickers giveaway is comment #22--also by Kim! I promise I used to choose both winners. Just looks like 2 is your lucky number!

The Easy Stroll giveaway is being extended again and another giveaway will be up Monday.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How to Afford a Baby: Baby's Room

One of the best parts about finding out you're pregnant is getting to decorate the baby's room--until you realize how much it will cost. Save yourself some stress and money by following these tips:
  • Don't get a changing table. It's easy to change them on a blanket on a bed when they are young and on a blanket on the floor once they get wriggly.
  • Skip the diaper pail too. Just throw diapers out in a grocery bag right away, which also eliminates the need for odorizers.
  • Expensive cribs do not mean they are safer. Our crib ranked high on safety in Consumer Reports and was less than $150 at IKEA. It doesn't look as fancy, but that was something I was willing to sacrifice.
  • Get a crib that converts to a toddler bed for longer usage.
  • Skip the bedding sets. Most of the items are unsafe to have in the crib anyway. If you still want them, check thrift stores, Craigslist, and yard sales. Or if you are willing to spend the money, get safer bedding, like mesh bumpers.
  • Also check thrift stores for nursery wall decor. I see them often.
  • Consider making your own nursery decor. Read my post on how to make your own cheap and easy wall decor.
  • Be creative. For example, I used wall decorations from my baby shower.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Get It on the Shelf!

If you've entered the Easy Stroll one-handed, ergonomic stroller handle giveaway, you know what an amazing product it is. Let's help get it on the shelf at Walmart. Text 4239 to 383838 once daily or go here to vote for it through Facebook. No account sign-up necessary. Thanks!


The winner of the Udder Covers nursing cover gift set is comment #34 by octoberthings. Enjoy your prize! For the rest of you, there are still three other giveaways you can enter! Thanks.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Muppets

Warning: Spoiler Alert!

Yesterday on a whim we decided to go to the dollar theater to see The Muppets. It was Caden's third movie and by far his favorite. He bobbed up and down in his booster seat to the music. And, of course, stuffed his face with popcorn and M&Ms and Reeses Pieces (first time for the candy).

The movie was super ridiculous and random but very funny. Justin and I died laughing when The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper came into the mirror as Walter's human alterego. Definitely the best part. I highly recommend seeing this movie as a family activity because it has something for everyone.

The movie brought back a lot of memories of watching the Muppets growing up. They were big in my family. We still watch A Muppet Christmas Carol every year. It was nice seeing the Muppets together again.

How to Afford a Baby: Diapering

One of the biggest and longest baby expenses is diapers, especially for those with two or more kids in diapers at once. Consider these other diapering options to help you save money.
  • Cloth diapers: They require a lot of money up front, but not if you start as soon as you find out you're expecting and buy a couple cloth diapers every month. The cheapest way to go is prefolds and covers. For convenience, use all-in-ones (AIOs) or pocket diapers that grow with your baby. The only extra expense is special detergent which is pricier than regular detergent, but since you use so little per wash, it lasts a long time. For more information, read my post on cloth diapers.
  • Cloth wipes: Cloth diapers may not be your thing, but cloth wipes or homemade wipes can be. I use cheap baby washcloths and a fleece shirt I cut up into squares (fleece is soft and doesn't stain easily). Just spray them with water and wipe after wet diapers or non-mushy dirty diapers. We have saved so much money on disposable wipes by only using them for big messes.
  • Elimination communication: Also known as infant potty training, EC teaches your baby to recognize the urge to go, communicate that with you, and wait until on the potty to go. This worked for my son from 4 to 10 months old (read our journey with infant potty training). Obviously, the advantage here is that you use significantly less diapers and wipes.
  • Disposable diapers: If you want to stick with disposable, ask for diapers size 2 and up for your baby shower. Most people receive newborn and size 1, and babies outgrow them quickly, so ask friends for any leftover diapers they have.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Afford a Baby: Clothes, Accessories, & Toys

Excluding a brand new furniture item, I only spent $25 on my son for Christmas. He got tons of books, 3 puzzles, a little riding car, bath toys, and a toy truck--all from shopping at thrift stores and on Craigslist. You can stretch your dollar too by following these money-saving tips for buying clothes, accessories, and toys.
  • Buy baby clothes and toys at thrift stores. Since babies grow so quickly, you can find a lot of new or nearly new clothes. Also, there are usually brand new stuffed animals and good non-mechanical toys. My son goes through board books quickly, so I get them in great condition at the thrift store for a dollar or less. 
  • Secondhand baby-item stores sell only gently used clothes and working toys for a slightly higher price.
  • Join a freecycle group. Freecycle is a site that helps you find and get rid of items for free in your local area. Search for baby clothes and toys offers or request them.
  • Shop garage sales. You can get bags of clothes and working toys really cheap! Craigslist is good too.
  • Shop clearance racks for baby clothes. My favorite places are Walmart and Target. For full prices, Ross and Burlington Coat Factory have great deals, especially on dressy clothes.
  • If you prefer new, trendy clothing and toys, sign up for a daily deal site like Zulily. And, of course, enter giveaways!
  • Make whatever you are able to: clothes, hats, toys, blankets, etc. Remember, babies have no idea where their stuff comes from and they don’t care!
  • Hold off on big or fancy toys until babies are older. Most babies are happy playing with everyday items. Proof positive: my photo post "Who Needs Toys?"
  • If you plan on having more babies in the future, consider storing outgrown clothes and other items for the next baby.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle Easter Giveaway [CLOSED]

I got my sister-in-law Kirsten into crafting and Etsy, and she has opened up her own shop, A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle (a million points if you know where her name comes from)! She sells cards and gift tags. Some of my favorites:

*Original, unique designs. Simple yet cute.
*Variety for any occasion, taste, and age. Most are left blank for you to use however you like.
*Cheap prices.
*International shipping.
*Friendly seller.

*We had paper cutter problems, so some of her first cards are a little crooked and jagged at the edges. However, she has since gotten her own paper cutter. (I still have yet to find my replacement blade.)

Kirsten will be giving away an Easter package: an Easter egg decorating kit, a decorative bunny, an Easter card, and four Easter egg tags.

Mandatory Entry: Visit A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle and tell me your favorite item.

2 entries: Add A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle to your favorite Etsy shops. Leave your username.

2 entries: Add Kirsten to your circle on Etsy. Leave your username.

1 entry: Follow this blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Enter another giveaway on my blog.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.s. MST on Friday, March 9. The winner will be announced Saturday, March 10. Please leave your email in one of your entries so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

PrintRunner Customized Stickers Giveaway [CLOSED]

A few days ago I received my first company contact for a giveaway, from PrintRunner, an online printing company: "PrintRunner, Inc. was established with little more than a small press and a dream. Ten years later is one of the foremost quality printers in Southern California and occupies over 25,000 sq ft. Our growth is due to our commitment to providing the best value in high-quality full-color printing at an affordable price."

*They print everything you can think of, including print stickers, DVD sleeves, magnets, bookmarks, and yard signs.
*They offer a free sample kit with seventeen different products.
*They have numerous coupon codes.
*They offer price matching. Just click "Seen this item for less?" to enter the information. (Read their Price Match Guarantee here.)
*Their site is easy to use.

*VistaPrint is cheaper for printing regular business cards since they have super discounts by clicking on their ads. However, for designing your own business cards, PrintRunner is cheaper than VistaPrint and UPrinting.

PrintRunner is giving away 250 customized printed stickers (standard shape, 2" x 3.5", premium sticker stock, full color or b&w, no proof, ready to ship in 3 business days).

Mandatory Entry: Visit PrintRunner and tell me a product you like.

1 entry: Like PrintRunner on Facebook.

1 entry: Follow PrintRunner on Twitter.

1 entry: Follow this blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Enter another giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Friday, March 9. The winner will be announced Saturday, March 10. Please leave your email in one of your entries so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Good luck!

*I did not receive compensation for this giveaway, but I will receive the same prize when the giveaway is over.
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