Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Importance of Sensory and Discovery Toys and Games

Babies love to explore and learn. Everything is new to them, and it's important to help them discover the world around them. A great way to encourage and develop is through play. Children learn more when engaged, having fun, and using all of their senses. As a dedicated Pinterest user, I find a LOT of helpful articles, blogs and photos giving TONS of ideas for helping baby develop-- and I love experimenting to see what he really likes. There are a lot of toys you can BUY to help them along, but I also find that it's important for parents to get creative during play time. It's fun for both you and baby, and it really feels good when you have a fantastic idea that they LOVE!

The best part of discovery/sensory toys is that you can pretty much make them out of whatever you have laying around the house. I've MAYBE put 10 bucks into the toys I have put together so far. While we also use purchased toys, I've noticed that he is far more interested in things that we have laying around already than the toys that have actually been purchased for him. It takes a little bit of creativity, and uses a lot of things you probably have just laying aroun.

Here are a few of the things we've made and used just from around the house so far.

This is probably the simplest and best toy we've created so far. A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law and I were wandering around Dollar Tree while in search for things to use for our discovery toys and Sullivan grabbed a bag of tinsel and was enthralled by it! He played with it all throughout the store!

So, we bought it and I simply put it into a gallon sized storage bag and squeezed about half the air out. Instant favorite! He beats it, chews on it, smacks it around, and shakes it up! If your children are a little older, my only suggestion would be to tape the bag shut so you don't have a gigantic mess of tinsel everywhere! 

Easy Discovery Bottle- Glitter, water, and food coloring. As kids get over, you can make more elaborate ones. Curled balloon ribbon, pompoms, oil and water-- the ideas are endless! I've even seen some beach themed ones that some moms keep in their purses for entertaining kiddos on the go. Easy, cheap to make, and will provide hours of fun! Make sure you glue the top on! I used a plastic epoxy (which is what I happened to have laying around) on the inside of the lid and waited a day or so until you couldn't smell it anymore. Make sure to wipe any excess off of the top should any of it get pushed out. 

Another discovery bottle. This one has small rocks and gemstone added along with the glitter and food coloring. I used a breast milk storage bottle. These are great because they're smaller and easier for younger babies to hold. I tried using lentils instead of water, but he wasn't as into that one.

Treasure Chest! Another great idea. We're entering the "Fill and Spill" phase where he likes stacking a bunch of stuff into his "treasure chest" and dumping it out to start all over again. I think I placed a rattle, an old broken cell phone, a bowl from the NICU, a baby hat, and some old soft soled shoes into here. Lots of different textures and shapes are important for developing tactile senses.

This one is temporary, I -REALLY- had to go pee so I dropped a couple teeny dinosaurs and some mardi gras beads into a glass bottle and handed it to S. He rolled it all over the floor and was happily distracted long enough for me to do what I needed to do and come back! Proof that you can pretty much just use anything you have laying around!

Painting! With cornstarch, water, and food coloring you can make your very own finger paints that are safe for baby. Getting dirty is what babies do best! My model here is obviously having fun with his paints! The recipe for this is found here. :) 

Old used keyboard! S loves this! After this picture was taken, we removed the cord. It just goes into his toy basket with all of the other toys when we're finished playing with it. These are great for hand-eye coordination, and PERFECT for any baby that likes to help mama and dad type and work on computers. I'm pretty sure this was purchased for about a dollar. A great place to pick one up if you live here in Salem is Norvac on Commercial N near Keizer. They have an entire room of old junky parts for super cheap! Just make sure you clean them off first!

This is all we've really done so far. I plan on making some fall and winter themed toys soon, but this requires an extra trip to the Dollar Tree when time permits!

For more ideas on things to do with baby, here are a few links that inspired me. I also have a lot of things pinned to my Baby Activities board on Pinterest!

Oh, and one of my FAVORITE Sensory Play blogs is Growing a Jeweled Rose. This mom LOVES to play with her kids and has ENDLESS fantastic ideas for babies and toddlers! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Week of Firsts!

So this week has been a pretty big week for the littlest Tobin! Sullivan has starting hardcore teething-- you can see the little white buds poking out from his gums. He's also rocking back and forth on his hands and knees in preparation for crawling! He gets one knee forward and then face plants, typically. We tried our first solid food, which was avocado. I think he liked it? It's hard to tell with an infant, sometimes!! We took our first trip to the pumpkin patch with Grammy and the Fry family! We also got a visit from my mom Connie and brother Galen. OH- and he will also sit up without support for extended periods of time! AND! First real giggle! Oh, my... melts my heart!

In case you missed them, here are some photos from this week's adventures! 

"Mooooom! Let me drive!"

EZ Orchards with the Fry Family!

Monday, September 24, 2012

I kinda suck at this whole blogging thing.

So, yes. I suck at this! I keep saying "Oh, I'll do that later!" And never get around to it! Whoever says being a Stay At Home Mom is easy can bite me. Seriously.

Ok, so taking a page from a friend's book, I'm going to make a more dedicated effort to blog about S's escapades instead of flooding Facebook with all sorts of random posts. Wish me luck! I may forget about this by next week.

So, for those of you who DON'T keep constant tabs on Sullivan--  We're teething. Pretty hardcore. We're expecting him to actually cut one any day now. It's been almost every day for about a week now. His gums are uber sensitive. It's made for some LONG days.

Our week in review:

Normally we have a sunday "family" day and family and friends gather over at my soon-to-be mother in law's and hang out. We cook food, sip some wine (or beer for the dudes) and just overall have a good time. The past few weeks have been crazy busy for ALL of us, so we haven't been able to get together. Sullivan has missed his Grammy. Grammy has missed Sullivan. And let's face it, even loving caring parents need a few moments to themselves-- which we have definitely missed!

Last weekend was my cousin Ashley's baby shower! Unable to buy her much of anything, I gathered all of Sullivan's outgrown things and sifted through the ones we wanted to keep and saved the rest for her new baby-- Jaiden! There was A LOT of stuff. We went over to her Erika's and a few other family members were there too! It was fun to visit! I always feel great about passing items we were gifted forward because we are truly grateful for all the items we were gifted! Even if we were too lazy to send out thank you cards, we APPRECIATED everything and used everything we were gifted!

It's been a hard couple of weeks for poor Sullivan. Teething is terribad! He's in what some have called "Stage One" teething. Blargh. I've found that Hyland's makes a decent teething gel, but Punkin Butt makes an AMAZING all natural teething oil. Just a teeny bit of it goes a LONG way! That's definitely made our lives a little easier!

With the onset of fall, we haven't been going and doing so many things. A lot of our mommy/baby friends (and family!) have had a lot of interfering plans. We did manage to go hang out with several other moms and babies at the local coffee house Latte Play-- A family friendly establishment!

Pat's band Light's Demise has been rockin' the barn! They're in the midst of recording a few tracks for a demo cd and will be working on some shows soon! So stay tuned to their facebook page for upcoming events!

Other than that, time seems to just be flying by! Sullivan will be 5 months old by the end of this week. It's astounding. It seems like he should be older and younger all at the same time. But, I can honestly say, we are one happy family!

I also apologize to anyone who tries to get a hold of us. I'm not the greatest about returning calls and e-mails! Even worse now that S is getting mobile!

In exchange for your patience and forgiveness-- here is a video. It's super adorable!

Love you guys!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Blogging Challenge- Catch Up - Part Deux.

So, I am doing the Summer Blogging Challenge! 

Day 5- Short term goals for this month.

Well, as this is almost the end of the month, let's start with next month. 

I'd like to: 
1. Make an appointment with a Lactation Consultant about my very low milk supply. 
2. Have Sullivan checked for tongue/lip tie. 
3. Successfully explain to someone the awesomeness of cloth diapers.
4. Keep the apartment clean! It's kinda hard with a newborn, but I'm getting more used to wearing him, it should help a bit! 


Day 6- Nicknames & Why You Have Them:

I have a couple nicknames. 

Rin- Given to me by one of my best friends, Corinne. Her nickname is also "Rin", simply a shortened version of both of our names. I actually really like it. Especially in high school when there were several other "Aaron/Erin" sounding names. 

And Jinx. A shortened version of my WoW character name. My Priestess was my WoW character for quite a long time, until I finally gave up on having a computer and internet good enough to play it at the same time. 

So there. 

Day 7: Something That Makes Me Happy.

My Family. Cheesy, but true! I love these boys! Does this really even need an explanation? 

Day 8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure. 
Let's see. Lately, my favorite guilty pleasure is cloth diapering. And really, it's not that guilty. 

I mostly feel guilty for parading it around. It makes me proud. I love it. As I said in one of my previous blogs, I really am a  supporter for anything that's going to prolong the earth's life. I feel like it's really not that much more difficult than disposables, and the money you save more than makes up for the work you have to do cleaning them. My favorite thing lately is taking a look at diapers made by WAHM's (Work at Home Moms) and planning out ways to make our own, just for fun. The accessories are fun too, a travel changing pad, and a changing pad cover are on my list of things to try my hand at making. It's really an addiction.

Second Guilty Pleasure: Babywearing.
I know, I know. I'm totally one of "those" moms. But there are benefits of babywearing, other than showing off your awesome baby.  I admit, this is one of my favorite parts of babywearing. I -LOVE- showing him off. Babies love to be close to mom and dad. Babywearing totally allows you to keep them close, but lets you do what needs to be done. It calms them down, and you can be much more in tune with their needs this way, eliminating the need to cry almost entirely. Babies cry as a last resort, so if they're on you, it's easier to recognize the signs of  whatever is going on and fix it before they start to cry. Another awesome benefit of wearing your children is that when they're itty bitty like mine is, it stops people from touching them. Especially before you vaccinate (if you choose to do so), you don't want them exposed to dangerous contagious illnesses-- like Pertussis (whooping cough). It's not fool proof, but definitely helps! 

Disregard the cliche bathroom photo, including a toilet. Especially disregard the toilet. 

Day 9: Worst Cooking Disaster

It involved Southern Comfort and an upside down pizza on the oven element. Let's leave it at that. 

It sort of looked like this. Well, I imagine it did. We were a little bit tipped.

Day 10: Cost Aside, What Piece of Famous Art Would You Have in Your Home?

I actually like local artists and like to purchase their work and support them. My friend Shannon has some really awesome art/photography that I'd like to purchase sometime! :)  Click on her name to check out her stuff! Her photos are amazing! She also paints and draws. <3

Anyhow... That's enough for today. It's taken me several hours just to get this done! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Blogging Challenge! (Waaaaay Late Start)

So, I thought this might be pretty fun. I love trying to do things like these. Also, I need things to do besides just clean while Sullivan is napping :). I'll also be adding a blog about his birth. Probably later this week.

Even though it started on June 1st, I'm going to try to do a few of these. And I'll start where they are now. Go Here: Summer Blog Challenge if you want to follow along as well.

This will be Day One & Day Two. And Day 3 & 4 :)

Day One is an explanation of why I'm doing the challenge.
Day Two is a picture of me smiling. So Here.

Day 3: 15 Interesting things about myself.

1. I used to Ghost Hunt.
2. I used to work at Spencer's Gifts.
3. I have had Pink, Purple, Blue, Red, and Green hair.
4. I'm a brand new mommy!
5. It's taken me more than 2 hours to write this blog, saving/updating multiple times to make sure it doesn't get lost.
6. I secretly know the words to almost every old school Disney song from all of their musical movies.
7. I secretly know a LOT of Broadway musicals.
8. I LOVE cloth diapers. Everyone knows that, though.
9. I clean with Vinegar, not 409 or anything like that.
10. I don't use shampoo or conditioner.
12. I love babywearing. :)
13. I'm an atheist.
14. I am a cheese fanatic.
15. I absolutely love sushi. Yum!

And 16. I believe that everyone should do what they can to be "green" and conservative. Not only is it leaving a better earth for our kids, but it's cheaper. Go figure.

Day 4: The meaning behind my blog name:

I'm geeky. I like girly chic things. And I'm a mom :) My hubby and I always try to think things through before making parenting decisions. Vaccinations, Cloth Diapers, etc. These choices weren't made on a whim!
So, let's see how many of these I get done!! <3

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I've spent $300 diapering my baby. What about you?

So. It's been two months since I blogged. I had totally intended to post photos and the birth story, blog about our daily stuff... Yeah. Nice plan. Poorly executed. Anyhow. 

Some (ok, probably everyone) knows that after about 2 weeks we chose to cloth diaper (with some prompting from Pat's mom, but it was something I had briefly considered before he was born). Sullivan was having some pretty ugly reactions on his little bum to the chemicals used in disposables to make them absorbent.  Something had to be done.

I had a lot of misconceptions about cloth diapering at first.  I really was hesitant because I thought cloth was gross, and a huge pain. The biggest thing is making sure you don't screw up the diapers with waxy detergents, and stripping the stank out of them. I thought they were messy, and expensive. Pretty much everything I thought about cloth was wrong! 

I thought they were gross. I thought ew... touching the poop. Washing the poop. SMELLING the poop. But you know what? You do all of that anyway! There's no way to avoid smelling crap when you have an infant around. It's going to happen. And, unless you make a daily trip to your dumpster, you're going to have a poopy diaper sitting somewhere. Because disposables (a.k.a. "sposies" in the CD community. "CD" meaning "Cloth Diapers") were intended for us to use them just like cloth-- rinse out the toxic shit and then toss in the garbage in stead of washing them.

I didn't KNOW that. 

I don't know of ANYONE who does that. 
Do you? 
No, I didn't think so. 

I thought they were expensive. WRONG. They are SO not. If you take into consideration how many diapers an infant uses per week-- Newborns use between 80-100 on average, sometimes more. That costs about $25 per week. Expensive.

Firstly, if you're too lazy to wash you cloth/don't have your own machines, in the Salem area, Tidee Didee will bring you 100 diapers for 20 bucks a week (plus gas, but that's not too much). So, that right there ends up being about the same as disposables. But wait! If you purchase your own diapers (we waited until he could fit into "regular" sized cloth-- which typically start at 10 or 12lbs and run to toddler size) it's even less. Yeah, you have to pay up front. But depending on how often you're willing to wash, that dictates how many you'd need to buy. 

We have around 7 dozen prefolds, I think. That's a lot. We don't have our own washer/drier-- so we go twice a week to wash at grammy's. Most people do NOT need this many. At $32 a dozen from Little Bums & More, you'll spend a little over $200 if you buy that many. I think most people can probably get by with 2-3 dozen. You'll need covers(otherwise the poop goes everywhere, thus defeating the purpose)-- which again is dictated by how often you wash. We have 5 printed fancy covers, and 2 plain ones for back up, we only wash twice per week, though. Most people can get by with many less! The covers can be anywhere between 12 and 30... let's say you buy 6 (the recommended amount for starting) at about $18 each.  
That's $224 for the prefolds.

Plus $108 for the covers.

So, we've spent approximately (Grammy included. Thanks Grammy! <3) $332 on cloth diapers. Ever.  These will last until we have our second (theoretically 3 years or so from now). Like I said, not everyone is going to need that many. So you'll probably spend less.

Now, that sounds like a lot. But, think about this. Cloth diapers get reused. You'll maybe have to replace the covers. Maybe have to buy some new diapers now and then. That's still less than what you spend on disposables.

But cloth diapered babies on average potty train a year ahead of disposable diapered kids. Truth. 
So, factor in that $25 per week on average (because even though kids use fewer diapers, they also sell fewer diapers for the same price as they grow.) and that's approximately $1300 per year. PER. YEAR. On diapers. You're literally throwing your money in the garbage. 

And, multiply by 3 years (that extra year) if your kid isn't stubborn on potty training or a heavy wetter-- You're spending $3900 PER CHILD. Ridiculous.

I'd also like to add that disposables take over 500 years to decompose. When exposed to the elements. Most diapers are in landfills, so we don't really know how long it's going to take them. If they ever do. Fucking disgusting. If disposables had existed when Christopher Columbus was an infant, his shit would be sitting in a landfill somewhere in Europe.

I won't go into how disgusting the chemicals are on our children, or on the environment. Instead, here's an article. How Disgusting Disposables Are. 

Plus, cloth diapers can be really cute. And addicting. I mean, just look at how cute these little cloth diaper bums are? Freaking ADORABLE.

I'd like to add, if you're handy with a sewing machine, you can totally make your own covers, or even All In One diapers. Which is even less expensive still. Even if you get addicted to the "fluff" (CD term for cute cloth diapers and accessories), you will still save THOUSANDS of dollars over disposable. That alone is worth not using disposables. 

And if you're feeling extra creative (or extra frugal) you can make your own wipes as well, and just wash them along with the diapers. Easy Peasy. You'll save an extra few bucks, that way!
Anyway. Let me step off of my soapbox now. I really do love our cloth. Sullivan was in disposables until his cord fell off, and constantly had a rash. It was so heartbreaking. Once we got him in the cloth. Gone. 

I really think everyone should give cloth a try. It's better for baby. Better for your wallet. Better for the planet. I'm not an expert, but I do know some! So if you ever have any questions about this-- or other ways to be Eco-friendly and save a ton of money, please don't hesitate to ask me. I'll be glad to help out! We also have a group for this- Green Team: Salem! Please feel free to join for more money and planet saving ideas :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birthaversary & 7 Days Shampoo Free! (Plus a mini Baby update!)

Tuesday was my 28th birthday! It was also our second anniversary! =D I can't believe it's already been 2 years, and that we're about to be parents! AHH!

Anyway, here's a photo of how pregnant I am on my birthday! Pretty SUPER pregnant! I'm sort of amazed that the shirts I already had were long and big enough to cover my belly for the most part... And still look good!

Anyway, as I am 9 months pregnant, we didn't do anything super exciting. We also took our trip to Portland on Sunday, so that was kind of part of it :) My adoptive mom Victoria came and picked me up for lunch at the Olive Garden! Soup & Salad combo... YUM!

We then walked around some stores for a while (trying to walk out the baby! I swear it doesn't actually work!) And then hit up a new cupcake shop downtown for dessert. It's called Twinsies and it's RIGHT next to the Elsinore Theater on High St. Delicious! I think this will be a permanent stop on girls day out trips! 

I got a Samoa Cookie Cupcake (obviously the chocolate one) and Victoria got a NY Cheesecake! Both were delicious! Though, I totally wish I had tried their Cherry Pepsi cupcake! 

The ceiling at Twinsies. Cute, right?! The flower lanterns were LED and changed color. LOVE IT! 

We also ran a couple errands that mom needed to get done and we stopped by my Freddies. It was nice to see everyone, but I don't think I quite miss WORKING yet. I miss the people, though! 

After I got dropped off at home, Patrick and I went out for our "Birthaversary" (As dubbed by my friend Sarah! I loved it and kept it!). We went to the Roadhouse Grill on Lancaster. I told Pat to pick a place and surprise me, and I'd never been there! So it was a great choice! After a yummy dinner, we came home, cuddled up and watched Naruto. Nothing super exciting or outrageous this year, but that was perfectly fine! 


No Shampoo update!

As I said in previous blogs, I'm apparently just allergic to all kinds of shampoo. My scalp breaks out, I get horrible dandruff, my skin breaks out around my hairline.. It's awful! While probably partially due to pregnancy hormones, I've always had issues.

So, I decided to go as minimalist as possible and do a baking soda rinse, and condition with apple cider vinegar. Here's my hair after 1 week. It's still working out the "poo" from everything and finding it's own balance, but it FEELS better. I still have some flyaways, but I think I just need to use more of the vinegar. It takes approximately 3 weeks for your hair to find it's balance, but apparently after that it's FANTASTIC! So, here's hoping! 

To crush the smell of the vinegar, I just apply some perfume oil on my temples and the usual spots on the neck area, and it smells lovely for DAYS!

One Week Shampoo Free! My hair feels lighter and curlier already! Excuse the gigantic mess in the background, as well as my unhappy expression. Haha.


Baby Tobin Update:

So far we're not dilated (not that this actually means anything), and I haven't had Braxton-Hicks Contractions lately either. He's Due Saturday, so we'll see if he decides to make his appearance on time! I know some of you were asking if we still needed anything, and we have a wishlist on amazon going. We could -REALLY- use some diaper covers since we're cloth diapering. It doesn't really matter what kind since we don't know what works best for us yet. :) We'll also want a cool mist humidifier, and a few other things. The list is located here! :)

Thank you again to EVERYONE who has been so helpful, supportive and GIVING to us and our almost here son! I just feel like we can't thank you all enough for all the awesome gifts you've given us!!!

<3 Hopefully the next update will be the birth of Baby Tobin! Complete with pictures and a name! 

But, right now I'm off to meet up with Tauna for Jamba Juice, and Bryttni is swinging by to give me her leftover Evening Primrose Oil before she heads out of town! It should be a fun day! 

Love you guys!