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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3?! How can that be?


Full of energy, enthusiasm and personality, Sweetpea is both miss independent and mama's little girl. She knows no stranger and loves to meet new friends. I often hear her go up to a child close to her age and say, "hello friend, do you want to play with me?"

Sweetpea loves to dance, play ball and climb anything and everything. She loves to color and has just started drawing pictures of people over the past few weeks. My grandpa thinks Mr. Potatohead is her muse, as we all have big round bodies. :)

Any time she finds me in the kitchen, she wants to help. I've started planning our meals so that there is always something she can do to help. The promise of a craft can get her jumping up and down - especially if it involves glue or safety scissors.

Princess dresses are a favorite from the dress up box at the moment, though in our house princesses are brave, smart and strong - not just pretty girls waiting for their prince to come. When not all dolled up, Sweetpea is begging to dig in the dirt - planting flowers and looking for worms. She is so excited that the weather is warming up and playground weather is almost here!

Now that she's 3, I've started the tradition of asking a series of birthday questions. Here were her answers this year:

Favorite color: yellow

Favorite show: Max & Ruby

Favorite book: Boo Hoo Bird (by Jeremy Tankard)

Favorite song: Who loves Sweetpea (a made up song to the tune of Frerejaka)

Favorite thing to do: playing at the playground

Favorite game: playing dancing princesses

Favorite food: fruit salad

Best thing about your sister: Playing with her!

I'm a little late with this post, but I didn't want to miss the chance to celebrate Sweetpea's birthday. I'll be sharing party pictures in the next few days.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Win tickets to Sesame Street Live!

Sesame Street Live, Elmo's Green Thumb is coming to the Bank of Kentucky Center April 16-18! Here is a short description of the show:

Sunny isn’t just the weather forecast on Sesame Street - it’s also the name of Elmo’s sunflower friend! Join all your favorite friends on an amazing adventure as they help Elmo find a new home for Sunny in the all new Sesame Street Live stage show, "Elmo’s Green Thumb" Click here to learn more.

To save $3 on tickets, enter coupon code ERNIE at checkout. (coupon code not valid on Thursday April 15th shows or gold circle seats)

To win a family 4 pack of tickets, leave a comment here, making sure I have a way to contact you if you win. For an extra entry, register to be a friend of sesame street and leave me a separate comment letting me know! Good luck!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quick & Tasty Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies

photo by HappySkrappy

Since I'm on a low diary diet due to Sugar Plum's milk protein intolerance, I was excited to find this recipe for peanut butter cookies - better than I could have imagined or hoped for and very simple. Dairy and flour free, the only thing wrong with it is that it cries out to be enjoyed with a glass of milk!

Quick & Tasty Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies

2C peanut butter
1C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix the peanut butter and sugars together, then add the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla, then sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix well. (it's very thick, so I find this helps get the baking soda and salt mixed in well) Scoop roughly 1 tablespoon balls of dough onto a cookie sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart, and push them down with your thumb before baking. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350. Let cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Attractive and convenient toy or snack storage

Looking for a way to maintain the small toy clutter in your house, or organize snacks? Storing small toys or snacks that your child can safely access in makeup bags is an attractive way to hide the mess and group like things together.

If you have toddlers and preschoolers, it can also help them practice vocabulary and motor skills. Try having them "find the blue and white bag with the brown handle", let them practice opening the zippers and snaps. If your children are like mine, they will enjoy emptying and refilling the bags as much as they enjoy playing with what is inside of them!

What strategies do you use for containing the small toy clutter? Do you store snacks in a place where your kids can access them? We're just starting to try this - when Sweetpea wants a snack, I can tell her she can have one of any certain kind of snack by identifying which bag she can choose from.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

the vintage pearl {Giveaway}


I am excited to announce the vintage pearl as the newest sponsor at Problem Solvin Mom! I had the pleasure of meeting Erin at Blissdom, and proudly showed her my favorite necklace, which just happened to be one of her designs. Her jewelry makes an excellent gift, either for yourself or a friend, and if you don't believe me, ask Glamour magazine!

In case you're not familiar with the vintage pearl, each design is handmade using sterling silver and either freshwater pearls or birthstone crystals. Here are some of the beautiful designs that you can custom order:

Now for the fun part - Erin has generously offered a $50 gift card to one lucky reader! To enter, visit the vintage pearl and tell me what you would purchase if you win.

For additional entries, leave a separate comment for any of the following:

Subscribe to Problem Solvin Mom


Subscribe to the vintage pearl blog

Follow me on twitter (@psmom)

Follow Erin on twitter (@thevintagepearl)

Tweet about this giveaway (once per day) and leave a link

This giveaway will close on April 2 at midnight and a winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back to the {Menu} Plan


It's been a while since I've made a formal menu plan and 10 minutes in front of the computer to post it in the same week...mainly I've been working from notes scribbled in my planner. It's time to get back on track, things work much more smoothly when I'm organized. EmDee has two days off mid week this week, which will be nice! Here's what we're planning:

Monday: Beef Stroganoff over rice, buttered peas with almonds
Tuesday: Maple Mustard Chicken, onion and potato skillet
Wednesday: French toast, bacon and eggs
Thursday: Sweet & Sour chicken and fried rice
Friday: chicken nuggets (a variation of the sweet & sour chicken above) and home fries with green salad

What's on your menu this week? For more ideas and inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Things - ideas and inspiration


First, some housekeeping things. Jennifer reminded me that I hadn't announced the winner of the Yo Gabba Gabba Live tickets - oops! The winner was entry #3, Heidi who had accidentally entered as anonymous. Since she'd emailed me to let me know, her entry was valid. I do have fun prizes for the other entries as well - Julie and Jennifer, I don't have email addresses for you, please contact me for your prizes!

Here are some links I'm loving this week:

Adorable Washcloth bunnies from Petite Planet

Saving on Easter clothes from the Happy Housewife


We've printed out several copies of this fun castle pdf for Sweetpea's sticker play

Several of these springy kids crafts from One Pretty Thing are on our activity list this month

I love this idea for practicing stitching with little hands from Filth Wizardry

This Make and Count Ladybug craft from No Time for Flashcards is a wonderful way to encourage learning through play

With the time change last weekend, this post from Simple Kids on small steps to adjust schedules is especially timely (pun intended, forgive me!)

So often I feel like Megan at SortaCrunchy is speaking directly to me - this post on modeling behavior is something we're working on.

What are you enjoying lately?

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

As a Bravado Mama Ambassador, I’ve recently had the chance to try out Bravado’s body silk seamless nursing bra. I was familiar with the essential tank, as I’m a bit of a nursing tank junkie, but I’d never tried the silk seamless bra. I have to say, I’m in love. As comfortable as the sleep bras I live in, this bra is much more supportive, even for larger sizes. (I’m a 36F) The clasp lays flat and is easy enough to unhook and reattach with one hand, especially important if you’re nursing in public. The bra is designed to stretch with you during pregnancy and the fluctuations experienced as milk comes in and then eventually regulates. How exciting to find a comfortable bra that will last through pregnancy and nursing! In order to comfortably nurse in public in my fancy new bra, I’ll be sporting a “regular” tank over it. Then I can just pull the tank down when I unfasten the bra, while still covering my midsection.


Something else I really like about Bravado is the new website they created to support breastfeeding moms. Members can find a wealth of information on breastfeeding, from tips for proper positioning to nursing in public and the impact of family support. Perhaps you’ve seen my favorite sites for breastfeeding information – I think this is another one for the list. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some guest posts from this new website and its contributors!



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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Half Birthday


It seems like just yesterday we learned we were going to have another baby, and now here you are sitting up tall and proud, playing with toys and rolling a ball with your big sister, crawling to reach whatever it is that catches your fancy. You are so calm and happy, and yet you cling tightly to your mama. You go happily to most anyone, but feel most at home on my hip. Daddy says you look like my little monkey, because you're so often riding along there, clinging on for dear life. Slow to anger, you are not shy to let us know if you've had enough.

I had a hard time imagining room in my heart to love another baby as fiercely as my first. I'd been told not to worry, that there was plenty of love to go around, and my goodness was that the truth. This little Sugar Plum has wound herself so tightly around my heart that often times I feel it bursting with joy. I stare at you, my dear, in wonder - so strong and at the same time delicate. You light up when you see us and laugh quickly and with abandon. And your first words, "Mama Mama Mama" were such a sweet surprise. Happy half birthday, my dear.


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5 tips for affordable party favors


Sweetpea had her first "friends" birthday party this year, and they were so cute! I wanted to send the kids home with a little something, but it had to be both fun and affordable. You can see above what we ended up with - each one costing roughly $0.40! Here are some suggestions for making favors affordable:

1) keep an eye out for after holiday sales - the heart shaped bubbles were $0.25 for a set of ten after Valentines day, and they were a big hit with the 3-5 year old set at our party. Michael's crafts, Hobby Lobby, CVS, Wal-Mart are all good places to check - I check anywhere I happen to be shopping the two weeks following a holiday.

2) look in dollar bins or the clearance section in the party area for affordable trinkets or toys - the Backyardigans coloring sets are normally $1 for eight at Party City.

3) fill in as needed with snacks or candy you have around the house - that way you aren't buying something extra, and don't end up with something you don't want lying around afterward.

4) get creative with packaging - we used plastic cups and tissue paper that we already had at the house to package the favors. They were cute and a good way to recycle something from our kitchen and craft space.

5) keep it simple - favors don't have to be extravagant. Consider what the birthday girl or boy is interested and let that help lead you.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Who's training who? A few words about cloth training pants...



Now that Sweetpea is three, we're starting to get a little more serious about potty training. We'd been making good progress over the summer, but as I'd expected there was quite a bit of regression after Sugar Plum was born. Between the holidays, a few scheduled trips and the general round the clock care of an infant, I've had my hands plenty full. I had some great resources, including this guest post from Brooke, (go check it out if you haven't yet, I'll wait...) now all I needed was some "transitional" underwear. The price of pull up trainers nearly made me faint, and I've been seriously considering cloth lately. Cloth trainers seemed like a natural choice. With the power of the internet, how hard could it be to find a good option? Harder than I thought, apparently - I had a hard time finding the kind of cloth trainers I wanted!

I wanted something that was at least semi-waterproof to protect the house and allow us the freedom to leave the house while we were training. I wanted something that was absorbent enough to catch most if not all the accidents, while allowing her to feel the wetness. I wanted a design that snapped off in case of dirty accidents that needed more than a quick rinse.

Since I was having a hard time finding the snap option, I went ahead and bought one of the Imse Vimse training pants. These are advertised to have a waterproof layer and catch accidents. There is a waterproof layer in there, but not enough absorbent material, so everything ran right out the leg holes. After one wear, these made an expensive addition to the goodwill pile.

After that I thought to check Etsy. I should have thought of that to begin with! I found several shops that had just what I wanted, and rather than getting frustrated at NOT finding what I wanted, I had a hard time deciding which ones to choose. I settled on two designs, one from QTBunns and the other from 3monkeysclothdiapers.

The QTBunns are thin and absorbent and I love them, the only thing they are missing that I wanted were the snaps. I highly recommend them if you are looking for a pull on design. What I ended up rounding out my stash with were the 3monkeyclothdiaper trainers. They are a little bulkier, but not much. They have an adjustable waistband (2 sets of upper snaps) and can be pulled or snapped on. In the case of a messy accident, they can be snapped off like a diaper to help contain the mess. As you can see here, Sweetpea is a big fan!

I mentioned before that I'm considering cloth for Sugar Plum. I'm still on the fence, so I'm going to be placing small orders for cloth AOI designs from both of these shops. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Perseverance


The birds announced their return this week with beautiful song and warm temperatures. I feel like I'm soaking it up after more than a month of snow. I really hope spring is here and this isn't just a tease.

Coming into the house yesterday I couldn't help but notice these bright leaves - covered literally by more than two feet of snow for over a month, had managed to survive an Ohio winter. These crazy snap dragons are annuals! Normally they drop seeds and come back when the weather warms up, but we still had flowers at Christmas. The next time I'm having a hard time getting through something, I'm going to pull this photo out for inspiration.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Still Twins? You decide...

We had all the family together for Sweetpea's third birthday this past weekend. (I know, three, seriously, how did that happen?!? More on the party later, I still have to post Sugar Plum's 6 month photo too) My grandma asked me to bring this little birdbath toy to get some pictures of Sugar Plum that were similar to ones we had of Sweetpea at the same age. That lady is brilliant, I tell ya.

So what do you think - do they still look a lot alike, or is it just me? :) And which one carries an extra two pounds on her small frame? (and where is she hiding it?!)

I mirrored this picture so they would both be sitting the same direction, you're not seeing things...

Who are you lookin' at?

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba Live Discount & Season Premiere Week

NICKELODEON’S YO GABBA GABBA! RETURNS FOR STAR-STUDDED THIRD SEASON, WITH GUESTS SARAH SILVERMAN, MOS DEF, WEEZER AND MORE
MONDAY, MARCH 8

video


Season Three Premiere Week Also Features Weird Al Yankovic, Anthony Bourdain, Devo and Recurring Guest Stars Biz Markie, Mark Mothersbaugh, Jack McBrayer and Paul Scheer

Future Guest Stars Include: Fred Armisen, Erykah Badu, Rob Dyrdek, Flaming Lips, The Killers, Solange Knowles, Angela Kinsey and Charlyne Yi

The schedule for the season three premiere week of Yo Gabba Gabba! is as follows (all times are 10:30 a.m. ET/PT on Nickelodeon):

  • Monday, March 8 – “Circus” – Weird Al Yankovic plays the circus ringmaster; Sarah Silverman teaches the “Time to Mime” dancey dance and Black Kids sing the original Yo Gabba Gabba! song, “We Love Clowns.” The episode also features Jack McBrayer and Paul Scheer telling a “Knock Knock” joke and Mark Mothersbaugh in his “Marks’ Magic Pictures” segment.
  • Tuesday, March 9 – “Bugs” – Weezer performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song, “My Friends Are All Insects” and Mark Mothersbaugh is featured in his “Mark’s Magic Pictures” segment. The episode also features a special remix segment arranged by Travis Barker.
  • Wednesday, March 10 – “Doctor” – Anthony Bourdain plays the doctor when Toodee gets sick. Of Montreal performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song “Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast!” and Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment.
  • Thursday, March 11 – “Superhero”– Mos Def plays a superhero; Devo performs their song “Watch Us Work It;” Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment and The Aquabats perform a “Numbers” segment.
  • Friday, March 12 – Encore of “Circus”
Which episode are you most looking forward to seeing? I can't wait to see Anthony Bourdain, and of course we are really looking forward to seeing Yo Gabba Gabba Live! If you still need tickets to the show, don't forget to use the coupon code "MUNO" to save $5!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

The diaper dilemma continues

I've written just about everywhere but here (okay, only 2 places) about P&G and the giant breech of trust they pulled recently with the Pampers cruisers design. I can see there have been several searches here for diapers and cruisers, so maybe it's time to bring it up here as well.

In case you're a loyal cruisers buyer and you don't know what I'm talking about, the design has gone through a major overhaul (aka downgrade). In case your wondering how Pampers has been responding to loyal customers that have called and complained, I've talked a little about it here. I'm still looking for a suitable replacement, as we've sworn off P&G diapers, (cruisers, baby dry, luvs) and I'm considering boycotting the rest of P&G products as well. They have proved to me that I can't count on the quality of their products from purchase to purchase, as they are willing to redesign a product without so much as a mention in the small print on the package.

I'm still not sure what diapers we will end up using now, as I was so in love with the old cruisers design. During the day we're using CVS supreme diapers and at night we've been using Huggies overnights. I hate paying a super-premium for good overnight protection. We went cloth for trainers with Sweetpea, and I'm back on the fence wondering if I want to go with cloth diapers for Sugar Plum. Any suggestions/stories?

In the meantime, I know I swore off P&G above, and I really do mean it...but I made a discovery that might help some of you looking for the old style. I've heard conflicting reports as to whether swaddlers will be moving to the new design or not - as best I can tell they won't be changing over as quickly. I was told by someone at P&G that swaddlers size 2-3 are the same size as cruisers 3. Since Sugar Plum is a size 3, I picked up a swaddlers 2-3 today and looked at it. In the fine print along one side I saw some magic words - "absorb away mesh liner"! They were on sale, and I had a coupon for nearly half off, so I walked away with a jumbo pack, and the love affair continues, if only for 30 more diapers.

So through all that rambling, what was my point? Until now I'd never seen anything indicating whether the cruisers diapers were an old or new design. If you are still using swaddlers, you can look on the edges of the package - if the diapers have the old design, the description will include "absorb away mesh liner" on one side. The cruisers diapers have all changed to the new design as of March 1, 2010.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Make your own Rice Cereal

I've not been nearly as excited to start Sugar Plum on cereal as I was with Sweetpea. Partly because the novelty is gone, partly because I know she's getting plenty of nutrition from nursing, partly because of her problems with milk protein...I checked out the cereal boxes while picking up diapers the other day, and every one of them had soybean oil and soy lecithin in the ingredients. I believe from food elimination that Sugar Plum is also soy sensitive, and even though I've read that, "it is believed that most individuals that are allergic to soy can tolerate soy oil and lecithin" I'm not feeling so good about it.

I made baby food for Sweetpea, but never cereal. I'm not sure why, it just didn't occur to me. So since I couldn't find a boxed cereal that I was comfortable with, I dusted off the food grinder and ran some rice through it. Mixed with breastmilk (or formula if you're not breastfeeding) and it looks just like what comes out of the box.

We gave Sugar Plum a few spoonfuls, most of which was fed and refed as it ran down her chin. I think she just liked having something to do other than watch at the dinner table!

Hey, what's this spoon thingy for?! I'm supposed to eat this stuff?

Mmmmm...my mommy is a good cook!

Homemade Rice Cereal

Cook rice according to package directions.
Run 2x through a food mill and mix with liquid of your choice to achieve desired consistency.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baby Bliss

What happens when you go to a fabulous conference, get snowed out while you're away, stay with grandma (and 2 littles under 3) for 4 days (while waiting for sweet neighbors to clear your driveway) and then take a vacation to Disney World? Right, you start writing run on sentences! :) And get terribly behind on blogging due to lack of internet access...so now that things are nearly back to normal, I'd love to tell you all about our adventures!

I was a bit nervous about Blissdom - I had decided to go at the last minute, and after my only other conference experience I was worried I just wasn't conference material. I was bringing Sugar Plum with me, and I wasn't sure how that was going to go either. I'd heard Blissdom was very baby friendly, and that was absolutely the truth! Not only did Sugar Plum get all kinds of love from several sweet bloggers, but thanks to Christine at From Dates to Diapers and ForBabyGifts, there were even goody bags and strollers and carriers for us to try out!

I was able to use theKolcraft Contours Options 3 wheeler throughout the conference! I loved the smooth ride and maneuverability, but even more exciting was the fact that the seat can reverse, allowing baby to see mommy (or whomever is driving!) or see the world. This stroller also has a carseat attachment, which is something I didn't have at home. With Sugar Plum weighing in at an adorably plump 17lbs 11oz that comes in very handy! At the end of the conference there was a drawing for the strollers we'd been trying out, and I got to take mine home!!

Before I knew I wouldn't have to say goodbye to my wonderful stroller, I wanted to make sure I got a decent picture of it. I asked a nice looking lady with a big camera (my new friend Darcy, you should really go say hi and check out her amazing photography skillz) if she would mind taking a few shots for me, and she so sweetly said yes. The lighting was so so, and apparently she had a better lens that wasn't with her at the time, but even so I think these turned out fabulously, don't you?

Can you tell she likes it?! I adore the way Sugar Plum's eyes pop in this shot, and the stroller doesn't look half bad either!

Here you can see the spacious compartment under the stroller for carrying things - I have a mei tai, a diaper bag, a laptop, a notebook, a sweater, and a blanket. In this picture the toy bar is attached, which easily comes off.

And this picture shows those baby blue eyes again - oops, I mean the easy folding mechanism...just pull up on the red tabs (in the upper right corner) and the stroller folds right up. The wheels lock automatically when the stroller is folded to keep it from rolling away.

Thanks again to Christine, Darcy, ForBabyGifts and Kolcraft! I'm sure to be talking about Blissdom more this week, and eventually our trip to Disney.

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