Category: parenting

The Love of Grandparents

I love that she looks as though she is breathing her in.  
My parents are the best.
Obviously, I’m biased.
They came to visit last week and we had so much fun.
We didn’t do anything exciting, but spent the whole time playing.
They get down on the floor with my kids and don’t miss a minute.
The effort they make to love on my babies means so much to me.
Both kids absolutely adore Dede and Poppy.
It was such a great reminder to be on the floor, in the moment with my kids.  They don’t need anything fancy, or big experiences, or money spent.  They need love.  A quote hangs on a friend’s wall and keeps coming back to mind daily of late.  “Children have only one childhood.”  So true.  This one childhood is so fleeting as I’m reminded while packing up the tiny clothes they’ve so quickly outgrown.  I want to spend it with them, every bit that I can.  I want to be in the moment, on the floor, soaking it up.  

Look at those little toes! Can you even handle it?
What are you soaking up today?

Toddler Meal Battles and Sneaky Veggie Smoothies

We used to brag about what a great eater the Bear was, how he would eat anything, loved veggies, and wasn’t picky at all.  When he hit 18 months, everything changed.  All of a sudden he started drinking cow milk when previously he wouldn’t touch it and started refusing foods.  We continue to put all the healthy vegetables we eat in front of him at every meal, but he refuses them most of the time.  So frustrating! Desperate to get vegetables in to the boy, I’ve turned to sneaking them in to smoothies and baked goods.  Just like his mama, Bear will eat just about anything disguised as juice or a muffin.  I learned the smoothie trick from my dear friend Betsy, whose children are always slugging down a cup of veggie smoothie.  I’ve experimented extensively to find a recipe that maximizes the amount of vegetables while still tasting great.  It is a fine line, let me tell you.  I don’t have a fancy blender, but it gets the job done.  My recipe doesn’t add sugar or honey, but the Bear describes it as “dewishous”.  Perfect.  You could definitely add honey, but I’m not trying to clean that junk out of my blender on the regs.  Here we go…
Sneaky Veggie Smoothie Recipe:
2 cups water
2 cups (ish) baby spinach
2 cups full sized carrots, chopped to finger sized pieces if your blender isn’t fancy
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups frozen fruit of your choice
2 tablespoons flax seed
For the fruit I use blueberries every time, but vary the other fruit.  I’ve used peaches, bananas, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc, and they all work.
Add water and spinach.  Blend well.
Add carrots.  Blend well.
Add remaining ingredients.  Blend, then liquefy.  Enjoy.
If you have a fancy pants blender, you can probably just throw everything in.  I have to go slowly as to not make my machine angry.  If your toddler battles you at meal time, give them “juice” in a cool straw cup and call it a win.  The Bear asks for his special Bear juice all the time.  Little does he know he is getting great nutrition and making mama’s heart happy.
How do you win meal time battles with your kids?
I’d love to hear your tips in the comments section or by email.



Truth and Coffee

Growing up, we all made fun of my mom constantly for her habit of leaving half drunk cups of coffee all over the house.  I never understood how she could keep forgetting her cup and never quite get through it without having to reheat it.  Let’s just say the veil has lifted.

I am now the mother of 2 children under age 2 and can barely find time to feed myself, much less finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold.  I’ve found my forgotten half drunk cups all over the place from the microwave to the changing table and everywhere in between.  The other day I found myself complaining about never getting a chance to just sit down and enjoy my coffee and breakfast.  I felt an ache in my heart for my old job in full time ministry with Young Life.  I loved that job and pray that He calls me back to it when this season is over.  In that moment I felt the Lord’s gentle reminder that THIS is the season I am in right now and it won’t last long.  This season of 2 in diapers and nonstop breastfeeding and 3 hour intervals and never being alone and never having a completely clean house for more than 10 minutes – THIS is where He has me right now.  In a brief moment my baby will be a toddler and my toddler will be a big kid.  Before I know it their complete dependence on me will be gone forever and I will have all the time in the world.

I am so thankful for the reminder to be where He has placed me right now.  So today I am choosing gratitude.  I am thankful for 2 healthy children who need me constantly.  I am thankful for an easy childbirth and quick recovery.  I am thankful for a teacher husband who has only a few days left of school before summer vacation.  I am thankful for nap time.  I am thankful for this high calling to be a stay at home mama.  I am thankful for a God who loves me even when I choose to be a brat instead of a grateful child of His.

What are you thankful for today?

Frugal Friday: Our Top 3 Cheap Babysitting Solutions

As parents on a tight budget, we are always looking for a cheap babysitting solutions so we can have date nights, go to social events, and spend time with friends.  We don’t have any family near us, so that’s not an option.  In Dallas the going rate for babysitting one child is around $10-15 per hour.  PER HOUR, people.  That means if we want to go out to dinner and a movie we are shelling out an additional $40 to the babysitter, minimum.  There is no room in our budget for that kind of expense, unfortunately.  Our whole dining out and entertainment budget for an entire month is $95.  Yep, that’s it.  We are on one income and prioritize saving for retirement and other things above dining out and entertainment.  So, we’ve had to get creative when it comes to babysitting solutions.  We’ve found a few things that work well, and one we really want to try.

Cheap Babysitting Solutions:
1) Parents’ Night Out – Several churches and local kid businesses (YMCA, etc) host Parents’ Night Out evenings a few times a year.  We sign up for every one we come across.  In our area these are typically a 4-5 hour window where you drop your child off and pay a fee to help the church youth group raise money.  Most churches are well equipped to care for children because they do it on a regular basis, and we feel good about helping out a local church.  Usually you don’t have to be a member, and most in our area charge $10 for the first child for the whole time slot, and $5 for each additional child.  This is a steal!  To find a Parents’ Night Out in your area, just do a google search or call local churches or kid friendly organizations.

2) The Swap – Trade babysitting nights with another family.  We’ve done this a few times and hope to schedule more in the future.  Most kids Bear’s age go to bed around 7 pm like he does, so we put him to bed and then have 1 parent from another family come over and watch tv, read in peace, etc on our couch while we go out for a few hours.  Then one of us goes over to that family’s house on another night to relax and watch the baby monitor while they go out.  Everybody wins.  This doesn’t work as well for single parents unless you can take your child to the other house and put them to bed there, then transport them home when the parents return.

3) The Co-op – My parents were part of a babysitting co-op in our neighborhood growing up, and my mom has encouraged me to start one here with our friends.  A babysitting co-op is a group of families who organize themselves to trade off babysitting using a point or voucher system.  You earn points by babysitting for others, and then cash them in when you need a sitter.  I haven’t gotten around to starting or joining one, but hope to soon.

What’s your best cheap babysitting solution?  


Best of Bare Feet on the Dashboard: Baby and Pregnancy Edition

Looking back over my Best of Bare Feet on the Dashboard series I realized I left out a crucial category, baby and pregnancy posts from the last 3 years.  We remedy that situation today.  I have so many baby and pregnancy posts I love so I’ll break them up by category below.  Enjoy and please feel free to share the love.  
Cloth Diaper Posts:
The Great Cloth Diaper Trials: 11 Brands Tried and Tested
We do the leg work so you don’t have to.
Choosing Cloth Diapers
Why did we choose them over disposables?
Our Easy Cloth Diaper Routine
Figuring out how to wash cloth diapers can be complicated, so I show you our simple routine. 
Saving Money with Reusable Cloth Swim Diapers 
One simple change can save you up to 90% on the cost of disposable swim diapers.  
Breastfeeding Posts:
*Cute nursing cover by Hope Springs Etsy Shop
Our Breastfeeding Battle Part 1
Our Breastfeeding Battle Part 2
The Big Latch On
Pregnancy Posts:
The Top Ten Things I’ll Miss About Being Pregnant
My Hometown Baby Shower
Maternity Photo Shoot from My First Pregnancy
Frugal Pregnancy Tips
Taking the 3 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test: What is it like?
Weirdest Pregnancy Dreams Ever
Our Homemade Baby Book with Free Printables
A Big Brother T-Shirt to Announce Our 2nd Pregnancy
A Morning Sickness Cure with No Side Effects
My Postpartum Fashion Crisis
The Battle of the Baby Weight
Child Birth Posts:
The Bear’s Birth Story
Trying for a VBAC: Why?
Saving Big Money on Medical Bills
We saved 20% on Bear’s birth bills!
Decorating the Nursery Posts:
Birds in Flight Nursery Mobile with Tutorial
The Bear’s Nursery Part 1
The Bear’s Nursery Part 2
The Bear’s Nursery Part 3
The Bear’s Nursery Part 4 
A Ribbon Mobile for Baby’s Nursery
I hope you enjoyed my Best of Bare Feet on the Dashboard series.  I have so much more planned for this blog and can’t wait to see what the next 3 years bring.  I’m now accepting sponsors AND swapping ads with other bloggers.  Check out my Sponsor page for more info.  Thanks so much for reading!  

Our Easy Cloth Diaper Laundry Routine

One of the most intimidating things about cloth diapering a child is the actual washing of the diapers.  There’s a different routine for every cloth diapering family, but I’ll share the super easy routine that works for us.  We tried and tested 11 different types of cloth diapers and you can read about that by clicking the link.
Here we go.  We need a few items for our routine, besides the obligatory washing machine.  We use a plastic bucket from Ikea with a lid, bumGenius Diaper Sprayer, and Country Save detergent.
Step One: After The Bear soils a diaper, we spray it off in the toilet with the diaper sprayer.  We spray both poop and pee diapers, to help get the ammonia stink out of the cloth.  The diaper then goes into the bucket, and the lid stays on til we are ready to wash.
Step Two: We wash our cloth diapers every other day.  I turn on the washer on the heavy duty cycle with cold water, and let the water begin to fill.  I add 1/4-1/3 the amount of Country Save detergent I would use for a normal load.  I toss the diapers in, making sure the velcro tabs are closed so they don’t get crazy in the wash.  Close the lid and run that sucker.
Step Three: After the cold wash finishes, I turn the dial back to heavy duty wash, but this time in hot water, with no detergent.  Run it.
Step Four:  We pull out the diapers and hang them on the clothesline if it is nice out or from the shower curtain if it is rainy.
And we’re done.  We’ve learned a few things over this year+ of cloth diapering.  Never soak your diapers because it damages the waterproof liner.  Always double check your velcro/hook and loop.  Don’t be afraid to start using cloth diapers.  You CAN do it.
Do you use cloth diapers?  What is your cloth diaper laundry routine?


The Great Kiddie Pool Disaster

So innocent looking, right? 
How could a tiny wading pool cause trauma, 
screaming, weeping, and gnashing of teeth?
When a rookie mom fills said kiddie pool with ice cold water straight out of the hose, all hell breaks loose. Big time rookie mistake, people. There was screaming, there was hysterical crying, there was lots of clinging to Mama long after the 5 second pool dip was over.  I had visions of a happy baby splashing and laughing and thinking, “My Mama is the best mama in the whole world because she bought be this awesome $5 kiddie pool.”  Let’s just say that little dream was crushed.   
The Bear finally calmed down after we moved over to a blanket in the shade.  I tried showing him how fun it was by sticking my feet in it.  It felt amazing.  He wanted no part of that action.  Oh well.  We will try again another day, but this time I’ll let the water warm up in the sun first.  
What was your latest rookie mistake?

What a Way to Make a Living

The Bear loves to help with the filing around the Young Life office (my dining room).  And by help I mean destroy every file folder within reach and repeatedly open and close the filing cabinet drawers. He really has been the best baby ever while I’ve worked from home this year, but it kills me every time he wants my attention and I can’t give it to him fully.  Which brings me to my next point…
Over the past 2 years we have prayed, discussed, debated, and finally decided that it is time for me to quit my job and stay home full time with the Bear.  I am so sad to leave Young Life, but at the same time so excited to start this next chapter.  I can’t wait to be able to focus my attention on my family.  I love my job, but as anyone in full time ministry knows, it has a way of owning you.  This ministry has given me so much over the last 12 years, and I am so thankful to have had the privilege to be a part of the lives of so many people through it.  If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever want to be a stay at home mama, I would have said you were crazy.  Now it is the desire of my heart.  Thankfully we have budgeted and saved and are debt free so that we can afford to live off one income.  I know things will be much tighter around here, and I look forward to sharing our even more frugal ways with you.  I have a little over a month left at my job, and am currently trying to finish well and set my yet-to-be-named replacement up for success.  
I would love to hear from any of you have made the transition from workaholic to stay at home mama.  How did you make it work?  How do you structure your days? How do you live on one income?  Share your ideas with me.  

The Wait is Over

The wait is over, people. Teeth have arrived.  
After nine glorious months of a gummy, toothless grin, teething came at us full force.  Within the span of six weeks the top four came in first, followed shortly by the bottom two.  Let me just say that all the horrid things you’ve heard about teething babies are true.  Our sweet angel turned briefly into a fussy, screaming, restless, no appetite, wake up all night, ball of frustration.  I felt so sorry for him.  I’m so thankful he won’t remember it, because it was ROUGH.  As I’m sure it is for every other baby out there ever.  Poor things.  Hopefully we get a little reprieve before the next teeth try to break through.  
Side note: He has only bitten me twice while nursing.  I screamed and that seemed to be an effective deterrent. 
Please share with me any brilliant strategies for dealing with teething.  Help!       

The Great Cloth Diaper Trials – 11 Brands Tried and Tested

  When we made the decision to use cloth diapers, I had no idea where to start.  I started reading every blog and website I could find that had information to help me.  I entered lots of diaper giveaways and won a few.  I asked the few friends I knew who had tried cloth.  There are so many options out there, and it was hard to know where to start.
Here the Bear is modeling his SoftBums Hot Diggity Dog Diaper.  Does it have wiener dogs on it?  Why yes, yes it does.