Friday Faves

When I went home to visit Iowa last fall, my best friend from high school told me about Stroller Strides.  She had just bought a franchise and was teaching the classes.  I LOVE the idea of incorporating my kids into a regular work out.  I want so badly for someone in town to start this.  I would sign up so fast!

I mentioned a few months ago that I was loving the ‘She Reads Truth’ Instagram feed.  I didn’t know that there was so much more to it.  I just discovered the app, and am encouraged daily by their devotionals.  I specifically recommend the Hymns series that they have.  Fan.tas.tic.

This just cracks me up.  I’ve wanted a roomba since I was in high school.  Now I really want one.

I’ve been trying to find a good way to organize gift cards and I found this idea on Pinterest.  I thought it was worth a try, but it turns out that I can’t find these kind of photo albums anywhere.  I didn’t think about it until I walked into Target, but no one sells photo albums anymore.

My Facebook feed has been inundated lately with recipe videos and I’m a sucker for it every time.  This one is especially appealing.  Anyone tried it?


Mom life shirtSpeaking of things popping up on my Facebook feed lately, this shirt showed up a couple weeks ago and I laughed out loud when I read it.  I am not a novelty apparel kind of person (Iowa Hawkeye apparel excluded), but I could totally wear this.  With my leggings.  And my hair in a messy bun.  To Target.  As I spill my coffee on the shirt trying to carry a tantrum-prone two year-old and oversized infant into the store.  #themomlife

Grow Into\Out Of Bins

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes ::

When you’re pregnant, you hear people say “kids grow out of clothes so fast.”

They’re right.

I thought my daughter grew out of clothes quickly, but it’s nothing compared to the rate at which my son grows out of clothes.  He was 10 lb. 5 oz. when he was born and, remarkably, fit into newborn clothes for the first week of his life.  He wore both 3 months and 6 months sizes for just over one month each.  He just turned 3 months old and I filled his drawers with all the 9 month clothes we had.  I am professional drawer emptier and refiller.  #nosuchthing

I’ve tried a couple different systems to manage the kids’ clothes transitions  and one that I found that works best is what I call ‘Grow Into & Grow Out of Bins’.

Here’s how it works.

Grow Into Bin

Create a ‘Grow Into’ bin for each child.  As you acquire clothes (as gifts or that you purchase when you find them off-season and cheap!) that are too big for that child, store them in this bin.  Once they grow out of one size and move up to the next, start in this bin to see what you already have.  Go from there to assess what else you need in order for your child to not walk around naked.

I store our ‘Grow Into’ bins in the garage because I don’t want to waste closet space with something that I only access seasonally.  Where you store it is more of a personal preference.  What’s important is knowing where it is and easily being able to access it.

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes - Keep bins to collect clothes that they will grow into ::

Grow Out Of Bin

Create an ‘Outgrown’ Bin for each child.  As a child outgrows clothes, throw them in the ‘Outgrown’ bin.  When I say throw, I mean throw.  Don’t overthink it or worry about folding or stacking.

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes - Keep a bin in their closet to collect outgrown clothes ::

When the bin is full or you reach the point where everything that you have of a certain size is in that bin, then you can organize it.  Empty the bin, sort and fold the clothes.  Pack them away, label the bin and put in storage.

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes ::

Most of the time, I swear by doing things a little bit at a time rather than letting it become a big, overwhelming task.  But in this case, I’ve found that it works best to wait until I have everything all together that needs to be packed away.  I also try to fit as much in bins as possible, so, depending on how much of one size I have, it’s possible that one bin might have two sizes in it.  And there’s no way to know that until I have all of those sizes together.

Store these bins in the child’s room or closet so that you can you can easily throw items in there as you realize that the child has outgrown it.

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes - Keep bins in their closet to collect outgrown clothes ::


One benefit of this system is that it will work indefinitely as the kids grow up.   I wonder if they’ll have ‘Grow Into’ and ‘Outgrown’ bins in their college dorm rooms…..

Organizing & Storing Kid Clothes ::


Portable Diaper Changing Station

When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew that I wasn’t going to want to go to her room every time her diaper needed to be changed.  I had the idea to get a small basket and put diapers and wipes in it and leave it in our living room where we spend the majority of our time.  It worked really well to have the necessities right there and change her on our ottoman.  I think she was three months old before she ever laid on the changing pad in her room.

When I was pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to create the portable changing station again.  However, I learned a few things the first time around and decided to use this as more than just a place to hold diapers and wipes.  I wanted one place in our living room that would have the things I needed most often.  I bought a bigger basket this time and thought through what I needed.

What to include in your portable changing station will be different for everyone, depending on what you use most for your baby.  Diapers and wipes are the obvious contents.  I use a thin flannel baby blanket as a changing pad.  Thankfully, neither of my children have had issues with diaper rash, but I have a tube in there for those few instances when they do need it.  We use this basket as home base for pacifiers; whenever we find one laying around, it goes here so that whenever we need one, we know right where they are.  We also keep a burp rag, swaddler and thin swaddling blankets in this basket.

Changing Station contents -

It works well to have one central location for all the baby necessities.  As any parent knows, it’s a rule of nature that whenever you need one of these items, you need it immediately and don’t have the time to rummage through drawers or even walk into the next room.

The 2nd Time Around — Baby Gear

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was very intentional about trying to figure out what items I really needed.  I didn’t want to accumulate a lot of stuff and I didn’t want to spend money on or receive as a gift something that I wasn’t going to get a lot of use out of.  We made sure to get (almost) everything in gender neutral colors so that we could use it for future children regardless of their gender.

As far as “baby gear” for the first child, we went with the bare minimum: car seat & stroller, breast pump, and video monitor. We received the crib, dresser (to use as a changing table), high chair, pack & play and activity mat as gifts.  Friends told us that they had a swing we could borrow, and when they brought it to us, they also had a vibrating baby seat and a rock & play.  As she got a little older, we purchased a bumbo seat and an exersaucer.

As we were preparing for the arrival of our second child, we tried to decide what we needed that we didn’t already have.  It’s not a very long list, but three of the five items were big investments and I’m so happy that we got what we did.

Baby Gear the 2nd time around -

  1. 4Moms Mamaroo – We weren’t able to borrow the swing and rock and play this time, so those were at the top of the list.  Elida used the swing a little, but I knew that baby #2 wouldn’t be held as much as she was and that I would need to put him down (#reality).  I had seen the mamaroo in  a couple stores and read about it online shortly after Elida was out of the swing stage.  I was intrigued by it, but, at the time, it wasn’t something we needed.  When we had our first discussion about what we needed for baby #2, this was at the top of my list.  I had since done more research and decided that if we were going to get a swing, this was the one I wanted.  We have a tiny living room, and the Mamroo takes about 1/3 of the space that most swings do.  I also really liked how it had a range of different motions at different speeds that were made to mimic the way parents move when they hold infants to soothe them.  We’re eight weeks in to this little guy’s life, and I love the Mamaroo!  He spends four to six hours a day – waking and sleeping – in it and it was totally worth it.
  2. Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs – Every other mom I know sings the praises of Aden & Anais swaddle blankets.  We received one as a gift when Elida was a baby, and I liked it, but not as much as I liked our other swaddle blankets.  I didn’t know what all of the fuss was about.  But when I saw these burp rags, I was intrigued.  I liked the size (MUCH larger than most) and shape (made to drape around your neck and over your shoulder).  I was not, however, a fan of the cost.  $10 for one rag?!  My grandma bought one for us as a gift.  It took me less than a week into Wyatt’s life before I bought more.  Not only are the size and shape so much better than any of the other rags I’ve used, but they are also super absorbent.  They’re expensive, but I don’t need as many of them as I did other rags because of their absorbency.
  3. Bob Duallie Stroller – We actually bought this stroller before I found I was pregnant with our son.  But we knew we’d want a double stroller at some point, and found a stellar deal on this one (25% off at REI). Much like the Mamaroo, I did some serious research on this.  I talked to a LOT of people, and everyone that I knew that owned a Bob swore by it.  There were a few other double strollers that were good options as well – namely the Uppababy Vista.  We “test drove” both of them at baby stores (I’m not kidding), and loved them both.  Ultimately, it came down to the fact that the Bob was less than half the cost of the Vista.  Wyatt was born in October in Minnesota and he’s already logged quite a few miles in the stroller.
  4. Beco Gemini Baby Carrier – We registered for a carrier when I was pregnant with Elida, but didn’t receive one.  There were a few times that we wanted to use one, and just borrowed one from a friend.  I knew that the second kid would be worn in instances where kid #1 was carried, so a carrier made it on the list of purchases.  We tried a few varieties when we borrowed friends’ carriers, so I had some idea what we were looking at.  I found the Gemini at a baby store in St. Paul, MN and they had a generous return policy, so we tried it.  I liked that I could wear him on the front with him facing in our out, on my back or on my side and that we didn’t need any special “newborn inserts” or any additional equipment for it to be comfortable.  At least once a day, Wyatt wants to be held when I need my hands.  I strap on the Boba and have gotten very good at doing dishes while wearing him.
  5. Rock & Play – We didn’t even know what this was when our friends gave us theirs to use with Elida.  But use it, we did.  It was an obvious purchase for baby #2.  It’s great for portability and he can sleep at an incline when he’s congested.  He’s sleeping in it next to me as I’m writing this.  I would put this item on any one’s must-have baby gear list.

If I’m going to spend money on something, I want to make sure to get a lot of use out of it, and if we didn’t use any of these items any more after today (which won’t happen), I would buy them all again.  And I don’t like spending money, so I think that says something.

Family To-Do Lists

Living in Minnesota means that I spend about 8 1/2 months a year looking forward to summer and all the spoils that come along with it.  The only thing that makes enduring Minnesota winters worth it and soaking up all that Minnesota summers have to offer.  The problem is that they offer so much and there is such a limited window of time in which to take advantage of those offers.

Going into my first summer as a stay-at-home mom, I knew that I wanted to be intentional about doing as many of those things as I could.  I’d seen ‘Summer Bucket Lists’ that my friends did with their kids and I loved the idea.  I also knew that I had so many ideas of summer activities that floated through my head through the non-summer months, that if I didn’t write them down, I’d forget them and get to September and realize that I never did fill-in-the-blank.  And I hate living with regrets, so I made a list.

Upon completing the list, my OCD kicked in.  I decided that an arbitrary list of activities wouldn’t be helpful to me without some sort of timetable.  I found three pieces of tag board and made calendars on each of them.  Using my cricut, I cut out the letters for ‘June’, ‘July’ and ‘August’.  That’s about as artsy as I get.  I wrote each of the bucket list items on a small post-it.  I wanted to be able to map out the calendar of activities, but I also knew that there was no way that I could know in June what day in August would be best to make a Cheerio necklace.  I also made a ‘To Do’ board for the activities that weren’t yet scheduled.

I hung the calendars and to-do list on the wall by our basement steps.  It was a high-traffic area where I was reminded each day of the things I wanted to do.

Family Calendar 1

Family Calendar 2

Here’s the thing.  It became more of a task to get post-its off the ‘To Do’ list and on to a calendar.  I wouldn’t say that it went so far as to take the fun out of summer, but what was intended to maximize our summer days became a little bit of a chore.  In hindsight, I made what I assume is the typical rookie mistake: I had WAY too many activities on our ‘To Do’ List.  By the middle of August, I made peace with the fact that not every post-it would leave the ‘To Do’ list.  I decided that the goal of the ‘To Do’ list was to give me ideas of fun things to do with my family and make the most of these wonderfully warm Minnesota days; not to be one more thing that just had to get done before September came.

That was a game changer.

Family Calendar 3

Family Calendar 4

Family Calendar 5

Family Calendar 6


After summer, I decided to make family to-do calendars for the fall as well.  I had learned my lesson (or so I thought), and I was due with Baby #2 in October, so I wanted to make sure to enjoy the last few days with just one child and make sure that I didn’t use pregnancy/newborn as an excuse not to enjoy all the things I love about my favorite season of the year.  I was very conservative in our activities for the Fall.

Not conservative enough.  It turns out that taking care of a newborn AND a toddler is a perfectly good excuse to let fall fly by.  I should have made post-its that said ‘Keep 2 children alive’, ‘Change 10-12 diapers a day’,  or ‘Shower once a week’.  (Now that I think of it, only two of the three of those would have made it from the ‘To Do’ board to the calendar.  I’ll let you guess which ones….)  By the end of November, more post-its were on the ‘To Do’ board than on the calendars, but I’m okay with it.  We had a great fall.  And we did a lot of fun things.  And we became a family of four.  AND I kept 2 children alive.  Success.

It took me two seasons to learn a few important lessons, but now that I have, the Family To Do calendars are here to stay.  It’s a great way to be intentional about getting the most out of these days with young kids and create memories with my family.  I look forward to when the kids are big enough to help me make the lists.