Wednesday, September 30, 2015

31 Days of Dollar Tree Buys

Howdy, Islanders! If you've been an island inhabitant for awhile, you know what happens on October 1st. 

No, we don't turn into a pumpkin, silly!  I participate in the challenge to blog everyday of the month.  You can check out what I talked about in previous years here.
For this year's challenge, I'm talking about The Dollar Tree (DT) and all of its amazing products.  What can you expect to see over the course of this series?

- Product surprises found at DT
- Recipes using DT products
- Crafts
- Halloween goodies
- Halloween costumes
- Gift Ideas and more!

I am excited to share these amazing posts with you and I'm even more excited because tomorrow is a big day!  Yes, it's the start to our 31 Days but I have BIG news to share with you also!

Until tomorrow!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

13 Unique Things To Do For New Parents

I don't know if you know this but I've been an aunt for less than a week and I'm a pro.  No, seriously.  I'm a pro.  What are my credentials, you ask?  Well, I've been through more than a dozen pregnancies with close friends and I can pull from my own experience. Simply put, I got this auntie thing down.

When baby first comes home, people will offer help but, to a new dazed and sleep-deprived parent, what does that mean?  It's kind of like when I say I'm starving and Hubbs asks what I want to eat and I say it doesn't matter.


New Parent Brain is real and it's very similar to the hungry person who doesn't know what they want to eat.  New parents need/want plenty of things but either a) don't know how to ask or b) don't know what to ask for.  These tried-and-true ideas will keep you on their faves list and will prove to be lifesavers for new parents.

At The Hospital

1.  The Snack Bucket.  Grab an inexpensive bucket or basket and fill it with snacks for the new parents.  Not only will it save them from having to splurge on the overpriced hospital snacks but it will allow them to snack even when they're hungry outside of the store hours.


I got all of my supplies from The Dollar Tree and included a mix of healthy protein-packed snacks (nuts, trail mixes, granola bars, peanut butter filled pretzels), childhood favorites (Gold Fish, Lemon Heads and Twizzlers) and chewy sweets (gummy snacks, dried cranberries, chewy candies and gum).  I placed a cute little candle in the front and used a basket bag (also from the Dollar Tree) and burlap ribbon to tie it up.


Depending on how long the labor can take, this is great for dad during the time leading to labor but it also makes a great snack station in the room during the hospital stay following labor.

2. Waiting Room Activities.  Ryan's room was packed.  She had a dozen people in the room and after awhile, I started to feel it was too much (and I wasn't the one in the bed having serious contractions).  There were people and their electronics and their conversations and their crap and ugh!  I made the first move to get people out and, once we were all in the waiting room, I pulled out the arts and crafts!!  Yep, in the waiting room, I had some family use markers and small poster boards to draw pictures and signs for Mason's hospital room.


Once baby was here and they were moved to their final room, I quickly hung the posters on the wall.



As they settled in, Mike and Ryan admired the sweet messages and artwork from family.

3.  The Door Decor.  Nothing lets the nursing staff know our new baby is loved more than a door sign.  You can save some of the baby shower decor or make a banner/wreath.  I planned to go all out but it slipped my mind until we were heading south.  I used some pennant banners and stickers I picked up from The Dollar Tree.  While we waited on his arrival, I made a quick banner and it was adorable:


All it cost me was 2 minutes and $3(2 packs of banners and 1 pack of stickers) and it did the job!  The nurses made Mike and Ryan feel so special telling them they'd never seen anyone decorate the door before and reminded them how loved they were (with an entourage of 20 people after delivery following you to your room plus room and door decor, who can be surprised to break records??).   Islanders, you just don't know how little things like this help nervous new parents feel the love.



4.  Food.  You'll see this on the list a number of times.  Coming with snacks is always a hit but, after giving birth, Mama is hungry!  If you come to the hospital to visit, call ahead and offer to pick-up food from their favorite restaurant.  Ryan wanted a grilled nugget meal from Chik-Fil-A and I was happy to oblige.

At Their Home

5. Clean.  While I was pregnant, I was most afraid of coming home to a dirty house and being too weak to clean before all of the inevitable visitors would arrive.  I talked to my mom everyday and mentioned this nightmare all the time.  When I was given the thumbs up to go home, all I could think about was that we left dinner on the stove and laundry on the floor... how I grabbed my bag and hurriedly walked out of the house without any concern for the state of my home.  Depending on your relationship with the new parents, your level of cleaning support may differ.


If you have a key or access to their home, go on the day they are scheduled to be released from the hospital and clean.  I was able to arrive before they came home and I had the place looking and smelling great!  Start in their bedroom and make their bed, dust furniture and place a few bottles of water on their bedside tables.  During my two hours, I folded laundry and cleaned.  It was so awesome my brother thought the cleaning lady came; he was pleasantly surprised and both parents were VERY grateful.  There's something about coming home and settling without the worry of dishes or clutter.  It's like when you return from vacation to a spotless home... you know, that 'there's no place like home' feeling; there's nothing like it.  If you aren't able to deep clean, when you visit with baby, just take a few moments to help tidy up the place.  With an increase in people traffic, there's always something you can find to clean to help out - wipe down counters, wash dishes, wash/fold laundry, pickup any day-to-day trash, etc.

6. Feed Them.  Bring a casserole.  Bring lunch.  Schedule a pizza for delivery.  Pickup a meal from their favorite restaurant.  Whatever you do, keep the food coming and don't expect a meal when you arrive.  If you think about it, they won't be able to eat out so treating them to their favorite restaurant is a great way to make them feel like functioning adults again!

7. Make a Sign.  No one ever tells you one of the most awful sounds as a new parent is the doorbell.  Most times, baby could care less but for new parents, it can be a cause for headache.  Here's a good rule:  don't ring or knock.  Text upon arrival!  To help Mike and Ryan with this rule, I made a small sign that I'm going to hang above the doorbell.


Guess what? I'm sharing the FREE printable with you too!

I printed mine in 3x5 size on computer paper and cut it to fit comfortably in a 4X6 frame I picked up from the Dollar Tree.  I might change it to a wooden orange one but I think it's super cute and I'm super glad I could share it with you.  Enjoy!

8.  Welcome wreath.  Nothing says welcome home like a wreath on the front door.  How awesome would it be to have a wreath hanging on the hospital door that can transition to the front door when they come home?


I'm thinking of making a wreath out of a map that says, "welcome to the world, Mason!"  It hasn't been a month so I still have time and it'll look sweet on his nursery door afterwards.

9.  Survival kits for Mom.  There are things moms need when they come home from the hospital.  These things help with the recovery weeks and are things nobody wants to ask for but most new moms will appreciate.  To take the guessing game out of it, I've compiled a list and it's print-ready for you to take to the store while you shop!


I placed most of the items in the small trash can and gave it to Ryan when she came home.  This makes a great gift for the baby shower or your hospital visit as it is full of things new moms need but first-time moms don't think to ask for.

10.  Hold the baby.  Give the parents a break and let them rest while you hold the baby.  Sometimes just heading to the next room will help them relax enough to take a nap.  The best thing you can give a new parent is rest!

11.  Don't overstay your welcome.  Keep your visits short and sweet.  They're always gracious and kind but really, they just want to sleep.  Don't be the person who sits and talks about nothing for hours on end.  If the baby is resting, they should be too.  Just gauge their conversation, if they're fading after a few moments, don't take it personally.  Tell them you're going to straighten up the kitchen and that you'll see yourself out.  It's nothing personal, they're just exhausted.

12.  Snap pictures.   Take as many pictures as you want and send them to the new parents.   I got some great shots with my cell phone and I sent them to Ryan while I was still in the house with them. Oh, and I learned from my time with Devona that one thing every new parents needs to have is a photo sharing site.  While I did what I do best (cleaned), Devona put her IT skills to use by creating a place where all the family can access photos of our perfect baby.  How cool is that?!  Don't be afraid to document pieces of baby... you don't need an entire face all in the pic.  If your baby is as cute as my nephew, a PIECE of his face will explode with cuteness.


You know I've been stalking my nephew and sending pictures constantly to anyone who will confirm receipt, right?


Sometimes, I take it a step further and edit the photos on my phone:


Even swaddling moments are cute.  What's cuter than a burrito baby?



Trust me, in the early stages, parents miss some of the sweet moments.  I took all of these photos while I held my MaseFace (that's his blog name...cute, right?!).

13.  Compliments.  Yep, those things that every woman, especially one whose body has been disfigured by another human being, needs to hear.  The things that help keep the baby blues at bay.  The things that don't hurt anyone... use your [kind] words and tell that mama she's beautiful and glowing... tell that daddy he's an awesome dad... and tell them both how perfect that baby is.  They appreciate it and they don't mind hearing it. Constantly.


If you do any or all of these things, I guarantee you too will hold the title of best [friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma, etc.] ever!  The beauty of what we've covered today is that you're not just helping out, you're doing things that will leave an impression on the new parents and may shape what they do in the future for other new parents.  The beauty of giving a gift that makes a difference in someone's life is the realization that THEY may do the same for others in the future.


Not to mention, there's a baby to hold and you, amazing person, are the baby holder to do it.  Go, help, hold and be a blessing to someone else!

Oh, and you can totally feel free to scroll back up and check out my awww-dorable neph, Mason.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Auntie Status: It's Official!


My nephew was born Tuesday, September 22, 2015.  


I held him and fought back tears; it's overwhelming to finally meet the little person you've been waiting for.  


Islanders, he is awesome and amazing and perfect and delicious and adorable and scrumptious and I can't get enough of him!

Friday, September 25, 2015

So This Happened - Nuke and Bae

You may recall the following picture I shared in a recent Wordless Wednesday post:


What I didn't share was that Nuke ran in the room and, as soon as I turned the corner behind him, he flopped on top of Bae.  For those of you wondering what a "bae" is, per Urban Dictionary:

Bæ/bae is a Danish word for poop. Also used by people on the internet who think it means baby, sweetie etc.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recipe: Easy Salmon Kabobs

I've mentioned how back in Munch's younger days, she and I shared Mommy-n-Me Mondays.  On this day, we would bake or craft or play or whatever we wanted.  As she got older, we slowly moved away from our weekly activities.  Every now and then, when schoolwork is all caught up, we will spend an evening having fun!

On a recent night, Munchface asked to help with dinner. I planned to make salmon but, with her offer to help, I had to jazz up the recipe.


So, the salmon kabob was made :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WW: Everything's Better On a Stick, Right?

Wordless Wednesday


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Back To Schoolin' Ain't Easy

You see the cute little graphic up there.  Back To Schoolin' Ain't Easy!  Part of my struggle is my years of having an evening routine that was a constant race against the clock.  Munch is used to a tight schedule.  Now, she is home by 3:30, has a 30-minute break, finishes homework, reads and has HOURS left before her bedtime.  We use this time to prepare for the following day, eat dinner, bathe and more but there is still plenty of time... Not to worry, Islanders, she's occupied.  Actually, Munch has used this time to master her ability to get on my last nerve.

So, this leads to my next series on the blog.  We'll call it "So This Happened" and, as a heads up, just get ready for some unreal - yet totally real - updates.  It won't be often (like the Maya Mondays or Wordless Wednesdays) rather, it'll be reserved for whenever I need to share some of the random things that happen in my life.

Yep, another cool graphic for it too...movin' up.  Back to my latest 'what in the WORLD' moment.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Maya Mondays - Jealousy in Romance.


"Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and under certain circimstances, can be life-threatening." ~Maya Angelou


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Friday, September 18, 2015

Back to Black: SheaMoisture Hair Dye Review

Have you ever had a week where you woke Monday thinking, "is it Friday yet?"


Mondays are the same for Nuke and  me; we just don't wanna... Don't wanna move.  Don't wanna wake up.  Don't wanna -- wait.  Did somebody say food?  Well, we always 'wanna' for that, okay?  This week has just been a blur and not because I'm running around crazy but because I'm adjusting to my new schedule and need to remind my body late nights are no longer an option when I have to wake up before 6:00 a.m.

All that aside, I have something to say.  *taps mic* Is this thing on?


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recipe: Birthday Cake Blondies


Islanders, there was a time when Munch and I enjoyed making something together every Monday.  We would bake or craft to our hearts' delight.  We called this awesome day Mommy-N-Me Mondays.  As she grew, Munch's homework requirements increased and so did my work responsibilities.  This year, for the first time ever, Munch doesn't have childcare after school.  She was wait-listed and I refuse to pay one of the local facilities close to $200 for a few hours each week.  As a result, Hubbs is responsible for the morning routine - wakes her up, refreshes her hair, makes sure she has breakfast and puts her on the bus - and I changed my schedule so I can be home when she gets off the school bus.  Islanders, this is a major change in my life.  MAJOR.  I am now in a position to start our evening routine 5.5 hours before bedtime instead of trying to race against the clock in a short 2.5 hours before bedtime.  One of my new schedule's benefits is the return of Mommy-n-Me time!  It's great for us and for you guys too because I'll be sure to keep you in the loop with our creations!

We made these yummies during the first week of school and they were a huge hit! 

Birthday Cake Blondies

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WW: Birthday Cake Blondies!

Wordless Wednesdays



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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Paint Chip Guest Book Tutorial

Last Wednesday, I posted a sneak peek of the completed guest book from the surprise safari baby shower.


It's been awhile since that post so, here you go!

Paint Chip Mobile Guest Book

Supplies

- Paint Swatches (they're free from any store that sells mixed paint) in your choice of colors. Note: I used 60 for this mobile
- Paper punch (I used 1.5" circle punch)
- Hot glue 
- Small lamp shade (I used a chandelier lamp shade)
- Ribbon (3 types, 1 you will glue circles to, 1 thicker one that will fill gaps, and 1 thin ribbon that will layer on top of the thicker ribbon)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WW: Paint Chip Guest Book Idea

Wordless Wednesday


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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Target Knockoffs at Goodwill!

Hey, Islanders!  Once Labor Day passes, I get in the mood to nest.  I want to clean and cook and bake and, well, that means lots of goodies for you!  It's kind of ironic to feel like nesting because I usually kickoff my nesting season with a good purchase and, currently, I'm on a home decor shopping break for awhile.  The house is at a done state but, not to worry, I've got lots to share!

Today, I'm sharing a recent thrifty find.  It's from Goodwill and I love love LOVE it.  I've shared some family room updates.  We've talked about this room's paint, the photo gallery, thrifty finds and some of the artwork and furniture.  I was pretty pleased with most of the family room; it's coming along nicely.  I felt, however, like one area was missing something.


Can you see that wall area on the other side of the fireplace in the photo above?  It just seemed like a blank canvas... Don't get me wrong, I love a blank wall and use intentional decor on my walls but this space felt like it was waiting on SOMETHING.  I thought of creating a large scrabble board using canvases and wooden letters to connect words like family, love, fun, etc. After careful consideration, I decided it might distract from the feature wall of photos.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day 2015



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Friday, September 4, 2015

Summer Farewell - 2015

In this week's Wordless Wednesday post, I shared highlights from our last day of summer vacation.  After church, we headed to an area park for our first annual church kickball tournament.


While the grill and buffet were set-up, the church family played a fun game of kickball.  Of course, we lined up to pick teams.


I was hanging out behind the fences with no intention of playing the game because I wanted to snap a few pics with my phone...



Munch's Fifth Grade Graduation

Throwback Thursday (TBT) to the time my kid graduated from Kindergarten.  Do you remember that post( click here to read )?  It was when I...

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