Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Green Toys Review


Awhile back, I was given the opportunity to review a little red dump truck for Green Toys. We received an awesome little red and yellow dump truck to review and my boys have really put this to the test, and it has come through with an A+.

We use our dump truck as an indoor and outdoor toy. From carting blocks around the house to dumping sand in the sand box, this little baby gets the job done. One thing I love about it, is that it's super sturdy. It will stand up to the "toddler test". You know, getting rolled off the table, stepped in (dump truck roller skates...yeah, I was thrilled), jumped on, sat in, smashed against the wall. It's been through it all and is no worse for the wear. Of course, I don't suggest that you do any of those things.


Another thing that I personally love about this toy, is that it is simple. It is not overly painted, doesn't have flashing blinking parts, and doesn't make "monster truck" sounds or play obnoxious rhyming music. There is no need for any of that either! I don't understand why it seems like every toy is competing to have the most bells and whistles. I love that this truck leaves something to the imagination. There is nothing wrong with a truck just being a truck.

Most importantly, I love that Green Toys makes their items using recycled milk jugs. You can read more about how Green Toys are made here, but in short they are made from one of the safest and cleanest plastics possible. Their packaging is also 100% recyclable cardboard boxes that are also recycled. The packaging doesn't contain any of those obnoxious and not so eco-friendly cellophane, twist ties, or plastics. They are made in the USA and meet all of the CPSIA requirements, and drum roll please.....do not contain any traceable amounts of BPA or phthalates! That is a toy that I can get behind! Way to go Green Toys!

To learn more about the company and see their full selection of toys visit their website here. Take a peek at the recycling truck. It's adorable.

This review is written by myself and is full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving product to review.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Welcoming Fall

It's officially fall. I welcome the change in season with open arms.

We started to change our nature table over to fall. These new additions from WoodMouse are a welcome change to the table. They are part of the Children of Nature series that WoodMouse is offering and they are darling! The only downfall is that I can't keep them on the table because B loves playing with them. They're reasonably priced and she has some other darling items that I have my eye on (this and this, oh and this one too to be exact).

B and I have been reading about and talking about apples this week and we did a fun apple printing activity together. It is so easy that it doesn't need instructions, but I'll give them anyway. Cut an apple in half. Give your child said apple, big blob of paint, and some paper. They'll know what to do. Make sure they don't try to eat the apple when they are done and it is covered in paint, like my child did. ;) Excuse this first picture...we are silly people and like to cheese it up.

My favorite book this week was One Red Apple by Harriet Zieffert, which follows the life cycle of one apple from the seed to eating and back to the ground. The pictures are spectacular. Here are some of the other books that we have been reading and a few that we'll be reading next week, when we start reading about pumpkins.

Friday, 24 September 2010

A Sensory Tub for B

I need to come up with much more enticing and creative titles for my posts. "A Sensory Tub for B"...gosh how boring.

One day last week, during nap time, I threw together a sensory tub for B to enjoy. I got this idea from Counting Coconuts. Her tubs are much more impressive than mine, so make sure you check them out. I had planned on making a fall themed tub, and I had intended to go out and shop for some little fall related things to go in it, and I was just never able to make it out of the house. So, I just tossed in what I had.

The tub has lots of little things in it, so it is always used with supervision and not around the babies. Some of the things in his tub are multi colored noodles, lots of rice, red beans, pom poms, little plastic farm animals and turtles, and various buttons. I also threw in some measuring cups and other kitchen tools to play with. He really loves scooping the pom poms with a spoon into the measuring cups.

B has had a lot of fun with it, so my basic sensory tub works for now. I think next month I'll change it up a bit and try to make it themed...or at least add some things to it.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Our Stash

Holy cow! Someone must be sneaking diapers into our stash, because there is no way that I have bought this many diapers. I really didn't realize how many there were until I laid it all out to photograph. I'm now asking myself, why on earth didn't you start sewing diapers earlier, before you bought a stash large enough to diaper quads?!

Ok, here we go.... I'm starting with the wool, because it's my favorite part of the stash. First picture is all longies, second one is soakers and the third is shorties. If I counted right that is 30 pieces of wool.
On to the fitteds! The diapers in the top row are BuBuBeBe. The second row are GoodMama and one Fluffy Mail. The last row is all made by me. That's 17 fitteds in all.
Now to the Pockets and AIOs! First up is a whole mess of Bum Genius. The top two rows are one size 3.0s, the bottom row is 6 organic AIOs, 4 med 3.0s and 1 small 3.0.



Followed with the rest of my AIOs and pockets. Top row One VB AIO made by me, rumparoo, 3 TKCuddlers (s-hook closure). The next row is 2 Ella Bella Bum pockets, and one chunky monkey AIO. The bottom diaper is a VB o/s pocket, made by me.
And now the more boring stuff. Two dozen blue edges prefolds, one dozen yellow edged, one dozen red edged. The second photo also shows two daddy flats, 6 birdseye flats, a big stack of wipes, and another stack of inserts. The last photo is 10 covers, mostly bummis.


Whew! That's a lot of diapers: 30 pieces of wool, 17 fitteds, 37 pockets/aios, 48 prefolds, 8 flats, and 10 covers. That's a total of 110 diapers and 40 covers. And that doesn't even include the for sale or trade pile! (which I'm now convinced that I should add to.) The diapers they've outgrown aren't shown either!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Rhythm; The Cure For the Common Home

As you can imagine, our house has been in utter chaos for months. It is a lot of work to manage all that is on my plate. I found myself feeling frustrated that I can never seem to get ahead. There is always a massive pile of laundry, dirty dishes on the counter, a pile of diapers to put away, toys ALL over the living room floor (and other odd places), and well, you get the picture. To add to the chaos, B-Bear has been going through a really difficult stage, needing extra attention, and has been expressing his own frustrations in not so pleasant ways.

A few weeks ago, I was worn down, defeated, and panicked that I was failing miserably at motherhood and creating a pleasant environment for our family. In an effort to save my sanity, I ordered a few highly recommended books from Amazon and started reading.

The first was "Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids". This book is absolutely amazing, and I swear to you has changed our life. I was drawn to it, thinking "Simple. This is what we need. Yes yes yes!!", and as I read it, I found myself repeating that thought over and over."

The book is full of ways to simplify your life, including making changes to your environment, and filtering out the adult world, both of which I would love to get into at a later time. The part that really helped us was chapter 4, Rhythm.

I'm not talking about running a tightly scheduled household, where dinner must be eaten at 5pm on the dot, every single night. What we have done is established a certain order to our day, that is consistent from one day to the next. As Payne says in the above mentioned book, "Rhythms establish a foundation of cooperation and connection." You've got that right Mr. Payne!

I spent a few days off of the computer and off the phone. I concentrated on watching our habits and establishing a daily rhythm that would work well for us. The first few days was a bit tough, but it has paid off in a huge way. With predictability and some simplification, I have noticed huge differences in both B-Bear and myself. B knows what is coming next. He is more cooperative throughout the day, seems to feel more included with daily household activities, and is also more respectful of my authority. He is truly a happier toddler.

I am now significantly less stressed out and have found myself laughing more. I have been able to lighted up and un-tense. I feel like a totally new person. Having certain times during the day for housework has really helped me to make use of my time. I used to feel that I was constantly running around all day, trying (and failing) to accomplish a never ending list of chores. Dinner was always late, and it seemed that no matter how hard I worked, I was always getting farther behind. This life style is no more! I can't explain in words how much better things are now in the OnceUponaBaby house. In addition to less stress and more order, I am a calmer and more attentive mother.

And now ladies and gentlemen, this is the rhythm that has done wonders for us. Such a simple thing, but such a dramatic difference. Keep in mind that none of this happens at a certain time, or goes by the clock. It isn't a schedule, just the same routine every day. I don't include things like diaper changes or nursing sessions in this, as they happen whenever they need to happen.

Wake
Prepare for the day (shower, take B potty, change diapers, brush teeth, get everyone dressed)
Breakfast
Chore Time: This usually lasts around 45 minutes. The babies play together on the floor while B and I do chores. B loves helping with things like throwing laundry into the washer, splashing in the sink while I wash dishes, putting all of his blocks in a basket, putting his undies in his drawer, etc. (On Thursdays, we spend chore time running errands around town)
Morning Snack
Outside Time: At this time the babies are getting very sleepy and they go down for a nap. Once they are happily snoozing away, B and I go outside. This happens rain or shine. I feel that toddlers need to play in the dirt and mud, pick up sticks, dig holes, find ripe tomatoes on the vine, throw grass into the air, find bugs and chase butterflies...and yes, every single day. He looks forward to this and we had so much fun during outside time. (the dog appreciates it too) Outside time normally lasts around an hour, sometimes longer.
Wash Up
Lunch Time: As I prepare lunch, B works on a quiet activity at the table. (ex: coloring, color sorting toadstools, lacing beads)
Story Time: B picks 3 stories and we read them together
Nap Time: by this time the babies are up, have fed and will usually nap again in the afternoon
Mamas Time: As the boys nap I either work on sewing diapers, housework, or RELAX (I'm surprised that I even have that word in my vocabulary)
Afternoon Snack: I try to have a snack ready for B when he wakes. By this time it is normally around 3pm.
Project: B and I work on a tot-school type project together. Examples from this week are apple printing, making granola bars, setting up our nature table, and finger painting.
Dinner prep: I set the babies up with a finger food snack in their highchairs, give B a fun activity (sensory tub for example) and start dinner.
Dinner Time: Daddy is home by now and we all sit at the table and enjoy dinner together. No one gets down until we are all finished and we discuss our days. B loves telling his daddy about his project, or things like the school bus that drove by our house.
Clean-up: Immediately following dinner, we clean up any mess associated with it. Mama, Daddy, and B do this together. This really helps mama out and has reduced her work load.
Family Time: From the moment that dinner is cleaned up until it is time to start getting the boys ready for bed, we enjoy family time. We spend this time doing things like playing with train tracks and blocks, or dancing around the living room and singing "Here we go loop-di-loo" with various noise makers (even the babies love that one). There is no TV during family time.
Bed Time: Tooth brushing, jammies on, bath time (if need be), reading a story, and tucking them in.
After the boys are in bed, the hubs and I either spend time together or work on whatever is left to be done around the house. Sometimes I will cut fabric or sew and he will browse blogs that he loves. Then, we go to bed. Easy peasy...and so simple, right?

If you feel that you would benefit from a little more rhythm in your home, I highly recommend Simplicity Parenting. A couple of other great books are Seven Times the Sun and Beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

Friday, 10 September 2010

You were supposed to be a pumpkin!


Every year it seems that we end up with at least one thing in our garden that we did not plant. Two years ago we has some adorable teensy tiny volunteer tomato plants, last year it was the attack of the "birdseed" sunflowers, and this year we had two "mystery plants". Normally we are pretty good at identifying our volunteer plants, but this was a tough one.

We were pretty sure that it was a pumpkin. You see, in the fall we always buy a couple of pumpkins to sit on our doorstep and welcome our visitors. As the season goes on, our pumpkins start to look less and less welcoming. So, once they reach a certain point, we just set them in our garden. The theory is that they will rot and wither away, and in the spring we will some lovely little pumpkin sprouts in it's place. It has worked for us before.

Well, not this year. We thought all along that these plants were going to provide us with our fall pumpkins, and about a month ago we realized how wrong we were. Little itty-bitty cantaloupes appeared on the vines. Let me tell you, this was much to my husbands dismay. If there are two things the man does not like, they are cantaloupe and cucumbers, in that order. We are assuming that they must have come from some cantaloupe that ended up in our compost bin and was turned onto the garden plot as we spread compost. (And by the way, I say "we" as if I actually took part in the manual labor of turning or spreading compost. Hehehe.)
B-Bear and myself were thrilled and have enjoyed watching them grow. Last week I decided that it was time to break in to one of these bad boys and it made for a fun little activity for B, demonstrating that our nourishment comes from the earth and it's resources. I don't really expect him to understand that any further than, "This came from my garden. I picked it. I'm eating it.".
We went out to the garden and B-Bear picked out which cantaloupe he wanted to harvest. He lifted and twisted, wriggling it away from the vines, all by himself. He even carried it back inside, and insisted on doing this by himself too. It was a struggle, but he did it. Then, I cut into it, revealing the perfectly ripe and sweet yumminess. (No that is not a word, but it fits so well.) We took it back outside and enjoyed it for snack time, fighting off Oscar the dog as we ate it.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

WubbaNub Review


Some time ago I agreed to do a review for WubbaNub, and like all of my other reviews, it was put on the back burner until the summer craziness died down a bit. Today, I am delighted to introduce you to the cutest little binkies you will ever see.

WubbaNubs are adorable little plush animals sewn onto a Soothie brand pacifier. We were send the Yellow Duck to review and upon using it for a week or so, I promptly ordered another (the lion) so that both twins have their own. This makes it easy to distinguish which pacifier belongs to which baby.


Have you ever stopped everything to go on a binky hunt around your house? I know we have, and these make it so much easier. Since they have the stuffed animal attached, they are so much easier to find than your average binky. Another plus is that you are more likely to notice if you drop it when you are out and about. My boys love to spit out their pacifiers and play with them while they are in the stroller (or carrier) and we lose countless binkies over the side, never even noticing.


Another thing that I like about them are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free! Woot Woot! You can't beat that! WubbaNub puts safety first and strives to exceed the various safety standards for this type of product, in fact many NICU units and hospitals use them. They are also super easy to clean. Just pop them in a mesh bag (think delicates) and throw it in the washing machine and air dry. Easy Peasy!

They are also easier for baby to pick up and manipulate. As my little ones grew, they had an easier time getting these to their mouth than our other pacifiers.

I really and truly love these little suckers. (hehehe "suckers"...get it? Dork..yep, I know.) I love them so much that I ordered this little monkey for a dear friend who just welcomed a new addition to their family.


You can purchase WubbaNubs at boutique stores nation wide. They are also available through various online retailers, including diapers.com.

As always this review is written with my own honest opinions. I personally try out (or my kids do) every single item that I review. I was not compensated in anyway for this review, other than receiving a product to review.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday...well nearly wordless


Gathering flowers from our yard.

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