Monday, March 27, 2017

A Clean Home is a Happy Home - Spring Cleaning

A Clean Home is a Happy Home - Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning doesn't get me excited, but the thought of organization and the smell of fabreeze in the air does seem to have some appeal to it! I think Gina said it right, when she said "there is something about a plan that makes a huge task seem more do-able".  

We haven't started a full-out spring clean at my house yet (and by "we" I really mean the Mr.), but I know it is right around the corner! I have several closets that need organizing, cupboards that have more junk than actual food and too many storage areas being used for random stuff! To get myself going I asked some fellow bloggers for some "Spring Cleaning" inspiration and here is what they had to say:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Experiences vs. Presents - Beauty and the Beast

Experiences vs presents - Beauty and the Beast
Last week I pinched a nerve in my back and so have had more time laying in bed (or limping around) than ever before! It has been a real struggle for me (mentally) but I am so thankful for my mom and the Mr. for basically taking over everything and making it possible for me to recover as quickly as possible.

Since the doctor's order was to rest and do nothing I got to thinking... which is never good (as the Mr. would say). I thought about a variety of different vacations we could take, renovations we should do, cars we could buy, blog posts I could write and that brought me here...

The same weekend Beauty and the Beast (real people version as my parents would call a non-animated film) was released I had all this time to think. Although I deeply wanted to see the movie on its opening weekend it just wasn't possible for me to expect to be comfortable in a movie theatre given my situation. So I started thinking about when the original animated film was released in 1991. I was 6 and burning with anticipation to see this movie. Finally, there was going to be a princess with dark brown hair and green eyes - just like me!

I will never forget it... my mom brought me to the drive-in movie theatre (Dad might have been there as well...), which in itself was a huge treat. I didn't know what movie we were going to see, but I was excited to be at the drive-in! It was such a grown-up thing to do and after-all, I was 6 (maybe 7...I can't remember exactly when we went). We had all of our movie snacks, blankets and pillows in the back seat with the front seats laid back so we had the best view possible. Just before the movie began Mom tuned into the specified radio station so we could hear the movie on the car stereo system and then, it started!

The magical music of the opening scene where you feel as though you are travelling through an enchanted forest until finally the trees open up and you're told the story of how the prince became the Beast still gives me chills just thinking about it. Then, we meet her - Belle! She sings and ends up in fields that almost remind you of scenes from The Sound of Music. The story, the scenery, the music, the characters - everything about this movie is simply enchanting.

Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite movie ever since - I have been "Belle" for Halloween, collected Beauty and the Beast souvenirs throughout my childhood and even skated to music from the soundtrack as a teenager.
Experiences vs presents - Beauty and the Beast

And even though I still love the movie and can't wait to see the "real people version" it's not the movie that makes the memory so special. The experience my parents created for me was magical. When I think of the movie I think of that first time I saw it at the drive-in movie theater and how excited I was - it's a feeling of pure joy.

Now as a mom, reflecting on this childhood memory, I can only hope to create lasting memories and experiences for our Little Dude similar to this. My key take-a-way from this experience is that I have no idea what I received for Christmas or for my birthday that year, but I vividly remember this experience and how it made me feel. For every Mom and Dad trying to make sure you buy the "best" or "enough", keep this in mind.... make your children feel special, loved and valued; those gifts will last a lifetime.
Experiences vs presents - Beauty and the Beast
My shoes for that: Disney Princess Flip Flops

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Prepare Baby for Daycare

How to prepare baby for daycare
If you are anything like me when you start thinking about sending your precious little bundle of joy to daycare you immediately begin panicking. In my case I wasn’t scared of daycare, I was scared of yet another change that I had no idea how to prepare for.

Rewind for a minute – Probably the number one thing you can do to help your child prepare for daycare is signing them up EARLY! I was so paranoid about this I actually had Little Dude signed up at daycares (on the waiting list at three) before I even announced I was pregnant. I started the process by going on the government website and finding the list of “approved” daycares, then developed a list of questions to ask when calling each one and started calling based on locations. I sought feedback and recommendations after doing all of this only because I hadn’t announced I was pregnant yet. Luckily two out of the three I had chosen cam highly recommended by others and narrowed my choice down to two in the end.

The first daycare I called I think must have thought I was completely crazy… they said they served snacks and lunch every day except Wednesday (which is bring you own lunch day) and I nearly fell of my seat. Having never been to a daycare before as a child or an adult this was news to me! The Mr. got quick a kick out of my surprise when telling him all about my calls one evening… he had gone to a daycare as a child and remembers them as “the best years of his life”. Yes, that is a direct quote. The Mr. to this day talks about daycare food as though it was served from a five star restaurant and the experience as though he was at an amusement park on a daily basis.
how to prepare baby for daycare
Little Dude looking pretty sleepy, but all set for his first day at daycare!
About a month before Little Dude started daycare I started googling (nearly every day) “How to prepare baby for daycare”. I found a variety of blog posts that were SUPER helpful and so decided to compile all of my favorite advice into this post for all of your benefit.

The two blog posts I followed the most were from Mamas Like Me and Laura's Plans. I fell somewhere in between, since we do not use cloth diapers….

The post from Mamas Like Me talked about things you could do to prepare your baby and yourself for actually going to daycare while the post from Laura's Plans concentrated on preparing the “stuff” you need to bring to daycare. Both were extremely helpful to me, but here are the things I actually did:

How to Prepare Baby (and yourself!)

1) Don’t go get your baby from his/her crib immediately after they wake up – at daycare there will be more than just your baby waking up and he/she might not be able to be picked up right away. Getting them used to being patient and learning to play in their crib should help them adjust to their new surroundings. At home our Little Dude has his two favorite animals (Bunny & Snuggles) at the foot of his crib. He plays with them through the night occasionally and "talks" to them every morning before we get him out of bed.

2) Write things down - prepare a schedule for the daycare workers and be as detailed as possible. Don't say "has a bottle in the morning" be specific and say "has an 8 oz bottle of homogenized milk between 9:30am and 10:30am". 

3) Be flexible - even though you have written everything down it doesn't mean your baby will react the same way at daycare as they do at home. Don't be too quick to judge the daycare workers and think they are not listening to you if your baby missed a bottle or drank it later than normal or only drinks a portion of what they would at home. This is a big adjustment for everyone!

How to prepare the “Stuff”

I felt so disorganized bringing Little Dude to daycare since I had no idea what to expect, but in the end I think I had everything “right”. I’m pretty sure the women who owns the daycare thought I was a little (probably a lot) OCD, but seemed to appreciate the organization.

I used large Ziploc freezer bags and divided up all the stuff I would leave at daycare in Little Dude’s locker by three categories:
how to prepare baby for daycare

Extra clothes – two complete outfits that I didn’t care if I ever saw… keep in mind you are sending them to daycare as backup so they might never get worn or they might get worn and sent home for washing. In my case he hasn’t used his back up clothes yet so they are now too small and still at daycare. I recommend buying a few inexpensive second hand items if possible or sending outfits that your little one has worn many times already that you are tired of seeing.

Use as needed – swaddle blanket (which he sometimes liked to cuddle with when going to sleep at the time), sunscreen (since they go outside every day at least once), diaper rash cream (obvious reasons…) and Tylenol (in case of a fever etc.)

Just in case – two bibs, a baby mum mum, a soother with a clip, a onesie and a card with Little Dude’s emergency contacts.
how to prepare baby for daycare

The other items I sent to daycare the first day (to leave there) included a sleep sac, diapers and wipes. Not shown in the picture is a bottle – I sent one on the first day and assumed they would send it home every day to be cleaned etc. to my surprise they have kept it there, clean it and use it every day. Also, in the late fall I also sent a snow suit (that I bought on sale for $10!) to stay at daycare so it is one less thing to drag back and forth. Side Note: even though it's almost spring now would be a great time to find a discount snowsuit for next winter if you can guess the size! Second Side Note: Since I have been back to work I have been ordering diapers on and having them shipped to me rather than worrying about them on the weekends. This is a great time saver I highly recommend!

For labeling you can certainly be fancy about this an buy labels, but after asking several other moms and reading other blog posts I went with a good 'ol sharpie marker to write Little Dude's name on the ziploc bags, tags, milk, inside his shoes, diapers wipes, etc.
how to prepare baby for daycare
All the "stuff" to leave at daycare packed in a reusable grocery bag
how to prepare baby for daycare
Little Dude's bags for his first day!
Every Monday Little Dude leaves home with his backpack (which contains his snow boots and mittens), his lunch can (just in case he won’t eat what is being served….remember from my Thriving Through Change post talking about how fussy of an eater he is?!), and a 2 litre of milk with his name written on it (which was originally a case of formula with his name written on it) for his bottles.

And then every other day he has just his backpack (still with the boots and mittens, they come back and forth with him every day) along with his lunch can.

Last but certainly not least... you may be wondering what containers I use is in his lunch can? Since he is so picky I was searching for containers that would hold a variety of foods as well as have ice packs with them to fit in his lunch - I found these Rubbermaid Lunchblox that work like a charm and keep everything cold all day! I highly recommend these containers and they come in many varieties depending on the shape of your child's lunch box. I have since purchased another set (in different shapes) to have variety and to be able to prepare for more than one day at a time.
how to prepare baby for daycare

Did I forget anything? Do you have lunch ideas to share with me? I still struggle with this on a weekly basis! I would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences! Leave a comment here or on any of my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)- I can't wait to hear from you!

If you found this post helpful why not share with a mama you know? It would make my day :)

My shoes for that: Little Dude's new sneakers - perfect for daycare since they have white soles
how to prepare baby for daycare

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Mr's Favorite Mops

The Mrs Favourite Mops
Most women would agree that a man who cooks holds the key to our hearts. I agree, but have to say that it's a man who cleans that stole the key to mine.

When it comes to cleaning I am no expert! I know the basics... enough to maintain a tidy and somewhat clean household, but cleaning is not my strong point. Organizing on the other hand is where I shine; when it comes to tasks like cleaning out a closet or re-organizing the kitchen cupboards I am the right person for the job. However, the actual “cleaning” stuff is the Mr’s area of expertise. What do I mean? You know, all of those tasks most of us would rather not even think of like cleaning light fixtures, dusting, washing the floors, washing windows, cleaning bathrooms, etc.

When I started thinking of spring cleaning goals for myself (I really mean the Mr. and I as a team…) I thought you may enjoy hearing about his favorite cleaning tools. Mops (which includes devices to clean the floors in general) in particular rank amoung his favorite cleaning gadgets to test out. At one point I can say that we owned 5 mops which is incredibly excessive since our house is 1000 square feet! Hopefully this interview style post with the Mr. will help you choose the right mop  and give you some tips for all of your spring cleaning needs!
The Mr's Favorite Mops

My Interview with the Mr. 

The Mr. - a 30 something husband and father who lives in a 1000 square foot house and loves to clean. He grew up with a father who loves to clean and is passing down the family tradition to his son (Little Dude). Proud Moment: watching Little Dude sweep the floor for the first time at Christmas 2016 (he received a small mop/broom as a gift).

Me - a 30 something wife and mother who hates to clean. Proud Moment: Marrying someone who loves to clean.
The Mr's Favorite Mops

What features do you look for in a mop before purchasing?
The mop head has to be soft and re-usable. Disposable heads are my preference for dusting (aka Swiffer) but when it comes to wet washing the floor a re-usable head is always better. Side note: None of the mops or brooms in our house are very fancy or expensive... so don't let a crazy price tag make you think the mop is significantly better!

Which mops you currently own?

Which one is your favorite and why?
Rubbermaid Reveal: it has a sprayer with the right consistency between wetness and cleanness. The head swivels making it easy to get to corners etc. It is perfect for laminent floors and hardwood floors.

What type of cleaning product do you put in the Rubbermaid Reveal?
Vinegar and hot water is the ideal “product” to put in the mop. It leaves no streaks, is a simple solution without chemicals and does a good job cleaning the floors. Mr. Clean is my second choice… but it is harder to avoid creating streaks when washing the floor.

Does the type of floors in your house or where you live influence your decisions and why?
Yes, the type of floors and also how many corners there are in your main living areas etc. If I was cleaning a cushion floor I would choose the Spin Mop over the Rubbermaid Reveal one for example.

If someone was buying their first floor cleaning device what would you recommend they buy?
Swiffer Vacuum – a regular Swiffer doesn’t always do the full job and sometimes pushes dirt around, its super easy to use, the pads a disposable and is a good intro to floor cleaning.

Has your mop preference changed since becoming a dad?
No, but something that is quick and easy is required! Prepare, spray and go… there is no time for buckets of water and old fashioned mops.

Do you have any special techniques that you use when cleaning the floors? 
If possible try to mop in the same direction as the flooring especially on laminent or hardwood floors. But basically…don’t walk through where you have just cleaned and you should be good.

Do you always vacuum /sweep before you mop? 

What sort of tunes/playlist to you listen to while you clean? 
Country music “Google Play – Today’s Country Hits”

Tell me about what your reaction would be if I told you right now I bought you the Hoover Steam Mop? 
“Those are pretty sweet” were his exact words. Side note: it looks like that might go straight to the top of this list for potential Father’s Day/Birthday gifts this spring!

That does it folks... do you have any of these mops?! If you have any suggestions for us or want to know even more leave your comments and we'll get back to you.

My shoes for that: Reebok Runners