Favorite Blogs of 2012!

I, like anyone else, have the blogs I am faithful to and have been reading since the beginning of my Blogland existence. I also have blogs that I've only began following more recently. Either way, they've made my list of favorite blogs for 2012!

I find new blogs a few different ways, through Instagram and by scrolling through link-ups, comments, and keeping an eye out for bloggers mentioned on a blog I already read. I am totally guilty of clicking on random peoples profiles on IG. If they have a public profile, I scroll through their pictures and if they have a blog, I click the link and read a few posts. If I like their blog, I keep the Safari tab open on my phone until I get home and onto my computer. Stalker status, say whaaat?

Oldie But Goodies:
I Love You More Than Carrots
- Loves of Life
- The Mommy Dialogues
- Wrangling Chaos

New Loves:
- From Mrs. To Mama
- Table For Three
- Love, Fun & Football
- The Daily Tay

There's a reason these ladies have so many followers. They keep it real and show us the good, the bad, and the ugly. These eight blogs are the ones I made sure I read first in my blog roll and can't imagine myself not following. That'd be so weird.

What are your favorite blogs? Share them with me in the comments! (:


Saying No To Plastic

**Written on December 17, 2012**
I've decided that from now on I will only buy wood toys, for my future children and as gifts for the children in my family. I was shopping for my mom's co-worker's nephews (think personal shopper) today and realized how accesible high quality wood toys are. That's when I made my decision.

On my journey to eat less processed food, using more chemical free products, and taking the ecosystem and earth into consideration; I found this was a natural step. I am refusing to fill landfills with items that are nearly impossible to biodegrade and burden our children with this mess.

I will limit the amount of bottled drinks I consume and use a reusable bottle when I need to carry fluids on the go. Think about it - if I consume two bottles of water a day every day for one year, thats 730 plastic bottles per year, for only one person! What about your family of five? Two bottles per day for a year; 3,650 plastic bottles that will take 450 years each to biodegrade.

Here's what fueled my decision:
- It's takes the average plastic water bottle four hundred and fifty years to biodegrade and over 90% of bottles aren't recycled. Even when you throw that plastic bottle into your recycle bin, it can only be recycled twice.
- Bottles made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) will never biodegrade.

Yes, I know I'm using plastic bottles as an example when I'm refusing to buy plastic toys. But think of how thin that bottle is, in comparison to how thick the plastic on that toy is. 

The complete biodegradation of the average household wooden chair takes thirteen years. Paint, wood treatment, and landfill conditions are all factors in how long it takes for natural resources to decompose. Seeing as how wood toys are a lot smaller than furniture, the time it takes for them to biodegrade would be less. 

Think about land fills...

How many are there? What's in them? Where are they?

According to this site, there are 3,091 active landfills in the United States. They contain things like paper products, textiles, and wood scraps - along with things like disposable diapers, plastic and styrofoam. Disposable diapers and plastic take 450+ years to biodegrade, whereas styrofoam exists forever and is not capable of breaking down into organic matter.

I don't have children yet, but when I make these decisions I think of them. I think about how disgusting their earth will be if we continue on the track we're on. How filthy their world will be if God forbid, it get's worse. I think about Baby L, who won't turn 18 until August 14, 2030. What will our world look like then? I think about J's young cousins and my best friend's son. I want their world to be clean, safe, and free of toxic chemicals.

All biodegradation information is taken from here.


Merry Christmas!

We hope your holiday celebration is full of love, food and family fun!


Buckle Bopper: A Review & Giveaway!

I first came across the Buckle Bopper on Instagram. One of my favorite crunchy blogs had posted a picture of their product from the ABC Kids Expo. I thought the idea was brilliant and made so much sense to me. I had acrylic nails at the time and opening the crotch buckle of a carseat was hard, and it hurt!

What IS the bucklebopper™?
"bucklebopper™ allows you to unbuckle your child's car seat without using your fingers or thumbs. bucklebopper™ is also the perfect tool to help unbuckle a standard passenger seat belt buckle in most vehicles.  It is ideal for individuals with temporary or chronic hand pain or weakness caused by a variety of circumstances including:
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • de Quervain Disease 
  • Thumb or Hand Injury
This unique ergonomic hand-held tool is soft and pliable in the palm of your hand.  The hard shaft is capped with a soft rubber tip which comes into contact with the buckle surface, and is just the right texture to grab hold of the buckle for a secure fit.  bucklebopper™ works with most activator-type buckles."

After receiving the bucklebopper™ in the mail, quickly might I add, I HAD to use it right away. I took it to a family party and ended up showing my best friend, Kimberly. Then thought, "Duh! She has Fibromyalgia." It would make so much more sense for her to add to my review, since I just wanted to keep my nails cute. 

Here's what Kimberly had to say: 
"I have been using the bucklebopperfor about two months now and it has helped me out tremendously. I have had Fibromialgia for about eight years and some days it is extremely hard for me to do the simplest tasks, such as button my pants or put my hair in a ponytail. Fibromialgia is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain. In my case, the pain is joint stiffness that can really change my whole day. 

I’m a busy working mom with a two year old son, whom Elise refers to on her blog as B. We are always on the go and I don’t have time to struggle with his carseat buckle every time the joints in my hands hurt. The bucklebopper made my life easier because now I don't have to struggle trying to get my son’s carseat unbuckled when I have a flare up. 

The only thing that I would change about the bucklebopper is that I have to use both hands to operate it, with one hand on the and the other hand behind the buckle so that I'm not pushing it into my son, although it’s not something that would be a deciding factor in whether or not I would purchase this product. All in all, the bucklebopper is a great product that I would definitely recommend for moms and caregivers like me who have chronic pain or for those who have difficulty undoing buckles because their hands are weak. I think the value is great and it has become detrimental in my every day life!"

I agree with Kimberly. I would also change the two handed operation if there was a way to. L's carseat is in the rear middle seat and having to use two hands means getting all the way in the car, rather than leaning in and unbuckling him. I do drive a medium sized SUV, so it's just me being lazy. I think that maybe if I had problems getting the buckle undone rather than trying to keep my nails cute, it would be a different story. 

Marlene has so graciously given me two buckleboppers to give away to two of you! Enter below. (: Giveaway ends on January 5, 2013 at 12:00a Pacific Time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to get your hands on a bucklebopper™of your very own? They are available for purchase on the bucklebopperwebsite as well as on Amazon.com! Thank you to Marlene & bucklebopper™for allowing me to review this product and hosting this giveaway!
Disclaimer: All opinions are 100% honest and are either mine or Kimberly's. 


Sandy Hook: How To Help

I've been seeing so many ways to help the families in CT, and I wanted to share a few with you. 

Created by AP of I Love You More Than Carrots. She is collecting night lights for the children affected by what happened in Sandy Hook last Friday. Many of us found comfort in night lights as children, and she wanted to make sure that all the kids who were affected know that they can seek comfort in having one. Knowing that there is hope, and are reminded that they are not alone. For more information and where to send your night lights, head over to AP's post where she explains everything. 

Click here to find out more info on how to help. Its the little things that can mean the most. 

Brickyard Buffalo has collaborated with several talented designers and created a series of prints that are now available for purchase. All proceeds are being donated to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund established by the United Way. Head over to Brickyard Buffalo to purchase.

This event is weighing on our hearts and all these amazing people have taken action. 
Help however you can. These babies need our prayers.


Silence & Support

Today, December 18th, will be a blogger day of silence. 

 We are also raising money that will go to an organization in the memory of this tragedy. The organization is called The Newtown Family Youth and Family Services.

Here is the official description of the support service we are donating to:

"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic 
and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their
highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support
groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.


Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

 We can't imagine how they must be feeling, especially this close to the holidays. We would love for you to spread the word on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let's make a difference and use blogging in a positive way.

Thank you in advance for participating.

The Blog World
All contents of this post are taken from Don't Quote The Raven with permission, click the link to grab the above button.


DIY Christmas Card Holder: Hey, That's Pin-tastic!

What do you know...
I actually got my ish together and made time to do a little somethin' for the holiday season and am linking up with AP after taking a few weeks "off", also known as I suck at making time for projects.

I feel like I should give you a little back story- I live the with my paternal grandmother. She doesn't decorate for Christmas at all, last year Joshua even offered to hang up lights for her. She said no. I've never made any effort to decorate my room before, because I've never had to. This is the first year I've sent and received Christmas cards.
i love you more than carrots

There were so many options when searching "Christmas card holder" on Pinterest. Most had the same concept, especially if they were DIY, so I kind of just went with it and did my own thing.

I knew I wanted to use the existing cork bulletin board that I already had hanging on my wall, that I've owned since high school. I really should upgrade soon, its starting to show it's age. I change out the pictures every so often, but not nearly enough.

The pictures were an array of my loved ones - family, friends, and former nanny kids alike. The pictures in the upper right hand corner (the Angel stadium) and left hand side (with the shoes) are my two favorite photos I've ever taken. 

I measured the length of ribbon I needed the lazy way. Held it up to the board, then cut the ribbon. Boom. Easy peasy. No fancy stuff over here. After that, I melted the ends of the ribbon to keep them from fraying. Be careful during this part, I actually lit one of the ends of a piece of ribbon on fire. Oops! 

Thumb tack the ribbon in place. I left a larger space at the bottom in the event that I received some larger cards. I'm glad I did this. 

I added a string of lights and the cards I'd already received, and there you go! I think it's super cute and I'm happy with the way it turned out, especially because I decided to do it on a whim on Friday. 

The Details:
- All supplies were purchased from Michaels. They're already putting their holiday stuff on sale. The ribbon was 60% off and the lights were 30% off. 
- The lights are a 7.5 foot long string. I have an outlet directly below the bulletin board, under my desk. 
-To secure non-folding cards I'm using mini clothes pins. 

You'll Need: 
- Cork Bulletin Board. I'm gonna guesstimate my board is 22"x35", the brand is The Board Dudes available at Target. 
- Mini clothes pins.
- Cloth ribbon, I only used one spool but bought two just in case. 
- 7.5 foot long string of Christmas lights.
- 8 thumb tacks
- 3M light hook thingys ;)

Visit I Love You More Than Carrots to link up, and be sure to follow the "Hey, That's Pin-tastic" pin board to see what everyone else is doing!


Win a Custom Blog Design!

If you've been around my little corner of this here internet for a while, you'd know that I had my blog design custom made a few months back. Melissa, who designed my blog, is offering a contest for a custom made blog design (a $275 value). If you don't win, she offers an array of pre-made designs and other goodies in her shop

If I was in need of a design, I'd totally be entering. But alas, I don't need or want one. 
Click the button below to find out more and enter! 

Melissa is also having a special on business card design! If you're in the market for business cards, you can check that out here. I'm in the market and have been waiting for her to announce this special for a few weeks. 

I just wanted to note that I am not being compensated in any way for sharing these specials with you guys. I wholeheartedly think that not only is Melissa's work incredible, but she is incredibly helpful throughout the entire process and makes your vision come true. I went in not knowing what to expect or what I wanted, but she made it happen.  


Inspired by Finn: Coupon Code

Today I'm giving you a coupon code for Inspired by Finn!
I talked about them in this post from a few days ago, so you already know they're my favorite and that I think babies in baltic amber are pretty much the cutest thing ever.
If you've been on the fence about picking up any baltic amber or hazelwood jewelry, now's your chance to get it on a discount. (:

Enter coupon code EVW25 to receive 25% 
off your purchase from Inspired by Finn!
Expires: Dec 25, 2012. 
Disclaimer: If fifteen sales are made using the coupon code, I get a free piece of jewelry. It's a win-win situation.

Life Stuff.

Real life gets away from me, sometimes! This is what's been happening...

I registered for school. I'm super excited to get back into the swing of things, educationally speaking. I took a much needed break over the fall semester and I'm ready and motivated to start "fresh". I'm only taking one class, but I'm still excited. It's also the first class I'm taking with Joshua, so I'm excited to see how we'll feed off of each other and use our different study strategies to help each other.

I'm going to a mini conference geared toward natural parenting in January! It's called MommyCon and is being put on by the lovely ladies at TMD (one of my favorite blogs). They're having some awesome speakers and giveaways, along with some vendor booths. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us & tell you all about it. Eeek!

I haven't even started Christmas shopping, and I'm not sure that Josh and I are shopping for anyone but each other. This year has been a harder year for us both financially, and we just can't swing it. We might be doing baked goods or homemade items, but we haven't decided yet. Joshua is getting two parts for his gun, he's picking them out and knows he's getting them so I'm allowed to say. (: He's in the process of building an AR, before they're made illegal.

I have this week off work, and it sucks. I'm a workaholic because I love my job. I also got an email out of the blue about a temporary night nanny position, asking me if I was interested. I could definitely use the money right now, so of course I said yes! I'm kind of freaking out about it, but am excited at the same time. We will see. 

What going on in your life? Anything that needs jotting down?


It's a Nanny Life Christmas!

...and it's time to buy your nanny baby and his parents gifts. Say what? So, what do I buy? 
At first, I was at a loss. I've only been working with them for a short time and didn't feel like it was my place to get them something too incredibly expensive. 

Baby L- 
A baltic amber necklace from Inspired by Finn. My first purchase from Inspired by Finn was for my best friends son, who we call B. He used to be a horrible teether, and would be so grumpy that they'd have to stay home. He's been wearing it now for about seven months and refuses to take it off, and if you ask him where his necklace is he'll show you proudly. I prefer the look of polished beads, which is what I will be purchasing for L. I'll be getting him the 11.5" Polished Butter & Honey.

I love the quality of their amber and won't buy from anywhere else. I know their products are of the utmost quality, and are geniune baltic amber. I can't rave enough about the quality of the necklace I purchased. It's knotted between each bead, preventing beads from flying everywhere in the case that it accidentally breaks. Their necklaces fasten with a screw clasp, and contain no metal. To learn more about Baltic amber, view more information here.

Coupon code for Inspired by Finn: click here.

B's necklace is a 12.5" Polished Amber Four Different Round

L is also getting a Cuddle Blankie from Whimsyboo Baby. He sleeps with a fuzzy blanket touching his face, and we carry it everywhere with us. I have heard amazing things about their products, especially their bath towels! All their products are made with organic bamboo velour, which not only makes them super duper soft, but eco-friendly and biodegradable, as well. 

The Bosses-
Still debating on this one! Either a bottle of wine, or a movie gift card and free babysitting. Leaning towards the latter, mostly because I know they'll be getting lots of wine for Christmas from other people.

What are you getting your nanny kids for Christmas?


Friday's Letters

Late because I chose to watch Harry Potter movies on HBO, rather than blog during nap time today. But hey, at least I have more to write about now. ;)

Dear Traffic & Construction- You made me AN HOUR late for babysitting Thankfully she was okay with it and didn't really need to be somewhere at a certain time. And? I gave myself an hour to get here. Typically more than enough time. Meaning it took me two hours to get about 45 miles.  Holy hell.

Dear Weekend- Go by fast, mkay? Tell your buddy (next week) to go by fast too. I want to work again already (the week of the 17th). Can't wait to start full time on January 2nd, then I get to see my Bebe every week! That makes me so happy! (:

Dear Developmental Leap- Thanks for being over. It's exciting to see L find his feet, try to roll over, and ohmygosh be so vocal. I can't wait until he masters rolling for real. Buuut? Then comes baby proofing. Ah! Side note: I'm stoked for next summer and spending it with L. Working in a beach city is going to be sa-weeet!

Dear People Who Honk Excessively- You make me nervous. As if being in a pretty major car accident six months ago didn't make me drive grandma enough. Just lay on your horn if you want me to show waaay down. It makes me think someone is going to hit me or someone else. Hayl no.


Phew, now that that's off my chest. (: 
Happy Weekend! 


Nanny Life: Infant Diaper Bag

My Diaper Bag- Petunia Pickle Bottom Glazed Boxy. I can't find the print I have anywhere, leading me to believe that it's an older print. This is my favorite from the current collection. I also think the Scout by PPB bags are awesome and much more gender neutral, which is a quality I choose to look for in my diaper bags. If you like PPB but aren't willing/can't afford to spend the money on a full price bag, Craigslist and PPB's Outlet Page are your best friends!

That being said, I'm in the market for a new bag! I LOVE my Petunia Pickle Bottom, but am looking for something with shorter straps (think crook of the arm fitting types), because I like to wear L in a carrier when we go out. We went to the mall the other day & I ended up leaving everything in the car because I didn't know what to do with my bag since I normally wear it cross body style. Send me your recommendations! (:

The Contents:
* L is only three months old and still very much in the newborn stage on life. The car puts him to sleep, no matter what. He's only awake for an hour or so at a time and still takes three or four naps a day. I implemented the "eat, play, sleep" schedule from the very beginning and he does really well with it.

Diapers: I try to have four with me at all times, just in case.

Wipes: I have a full sized pack with me right now, but would normally carry the Huggies travel pack. I also carry bink wipes and individually packaged boogie wipes.

A+A Blanket: I'm currently carrying the diwali print bamboo ones.

Two outfit changes: Typically one Carter's matching set and one sleeper. I also carry a few pairs of socks.

Feeding Items: a water bottle, pre-measured formula in a dispenser, bottle with 4oz water in it. If we're gonna be gonna for a feeding I gotta bring the goods. That boy is on a schedule like whoa, unless he's sleeping. He eats 4oz every 3ish hours during the day.

Binks: We have been playing around with different binks to see what type L can keep in his mouth the best, we tried both Nuk and Mam. He uses the Mam Air Silicone. He has the blue set, and is getting this from me for Christmas.

I also carry stuff for me: a pen, my wallet, phone and snacks. Because a hungry nanny makes for a grumpy nanny.

Is there anything you carry that I don't? Let me know!


Show & Tell: My Christmas List

This week we're supposed to be showin' off our Christmas lists. My have a short but expensive list, and in all reality I doubt I'll get anything on it. But? If money were no object, these are the goodies that'd be under my invisa-tree.

* A Nikon D3100. Oh man. I've been wanting one of these for while. My goal was to have one by November 3rd, but with my job loss only a month or so before, I just couldn't make it happen. I can't wait to take photos of Baby L, for his parents.

* A Didymos Stripes Wrap in Iris. These wraps are beautiful & my little guy would be so comfy in it. They're pricey, but are versatile if you're looking for quality and longevity. For girls, they have something similar, a wrap whose pattern is called Eva.

*An iPad. #TeamApple. Nuff said?

That's all I got for this year. I want both a handgun and shotgun as well, but those are things I want to purchase on my own. I'm also asking for cash because I need new basics, like camis and tee shirts.

I'm adding more things. This post bas been live for fifteen hours.
*Adobe Photoshop CS6.
*Two fonts from Emily Lime Design. Bombshell Pro & Carolyna Black.

Okay, I'm done for real now. (:

Hey, That's Pin-tastic: Photo Edition

Joshua and I recently had our Christmas card photos (re)taken. This time around, I was armed with inspiration pictures from Pinterest that I liked and wanted to try to recreate. Obviously I can't show you our card, yet. ;) But I've decided to share some of our other favorites with you.

No inspiration photo here, just a classic one. J said he was going to add a dirt bike going up the hill behind us. (:

I can't find the exact photo that I saw, but you can find a similar one here.

[Inspiration Pin] This is my absolute favorite out of all the ones we took. 
I felt like our photographer captured a special, intimiate moment between us, and I love it. 

I'm back linking up with AP after taking a few weeks off. I have lots of things in mind and can't wait to actually do them!



November Favorites: Beauty & Etc.

Recently I've been trying to purchase products that are better for me, either by going chem(ical) free or eliminating as many dangerous chemicals from my regimin as possible.
Dangerous chemicals are:
-Parabens, or things that end in "-paraben"
-PEGs, ceteareths and polyethylene
-DMDM hydantoin

Everything is a work in progress and I'm slowly purchasing products that are "better". I find myself reading ingredients now and actually paying attention to what's in my products. Yes, I still eat processed food. Like I said, work in progress. 

Wanted to give you the low-down so you weren't all "WTF?" about my favorites this month. (:

I've been trying to get my skin into a good routine and trying to get it to look better. I used to be really bad about using moisturizer and only used to wash my face at night when I took a shower. Since changing those two things, my skin is SO MUCH BETTER. I learned that the uneven texture on my cheeks was due to them being dry, which I had no clue about before! I can definitely tell the difference now when I have a "lazy day" and don't follow my routine.

This stuff smells so good, plus it's sulfate free. It's gets the job done. 
I'm not putting the conditioner because I'm not sure I like it. It's doesn't leave my hair with that conditioner-ed feel, which I like. I'm not sure if it's because it's sulfate free or if it's just that brand. It's also pretty expensive and I feel like I use too much conditioner to make it worth it. I definitely want to try out more brands. Next on my list is The Honest Co. Shampoo & Conditioner

Baby/ Nanny Stuff

OMG, so soft. I have the Dwiali print. I got mine on eBay for like $35, but I would definitely pay full price. I think they've lowered the prices on them, as well. I wanna say they used to be $50/pack of three. The ones from Target do not compare. 

2. My nanny baby LRT. He's got my heart.
    His parents are pretty swell, too. 

3. The daily logs I made. They're working like a charm so far. 

4. LRT's binks. He cries when he's done eating, no matter what. He also sleeps way better with one, rather than without. He uses these & these. No preference really, but I'm working to figure out what he can keep in his mouth better. Yes, I'm pro bink. I love them so.



Simple & Delicious Chili

I have to share a recipe I tried out tonight.
I have been craving chili for a few days, and decided to make it for dinner because Joshua was coming over before school, as he does every Wednesday. I shared my idea with him yesterday, and he said he was down for it. So onward I went. Someone I follow on Instagram posted a picture of a bunch of cans a few days ago, stating that it was how she made her chili. So I inquired more...

Here's her recipe:
-1 lb ground turkey
-1 package chili seasoning
-16 oz can chili beans
-28 oz can crushed tomatos
-10 oz can original Rotel

Brown your meat and drain.
While my meat was draining, I dumped everything else in my crock pot.
Then dumped my meat in and mixed it together.
Now, there are two ways to cook this. I put everything in my crock pot and turned it on high for about an hour, but then decided to turn it on low for the two remaining hours. What can I say, I was wingin' it. I'd recommend three hours on low. If you're crunched for time, you can cook it on the stove top. I didn't do that, so I can't tell you for how long...

Then? Bam. Dish up the yummy goodness and top with more yummy goodness. We added cheese, Fritos, and sour cream.

SO GOOD. Seriously, try it. Of course I don't have a picture, I ate it too quickly. ;)
*100% credit goes to Katie from Loves of Life. This is her recipe.*


First Day of Work: Baby L

I'm tired. And? I only worked four hours today. 
L is hitting a developmental leap, according to my Wonder Weeks app, and is at the attention needing, cuddly, fussy period and he's (hopefully) going through a growth spurt, so he slept a lot today. Tomorrow we will probably take Beckett (the dog) for a walk along the beach, so we can get out of the house and I can explore my new work surroundings. 

I am so smitten with Baby L. 
Tomorrow is my first full day 100% alone with him. I got this. (:

I am so blessed that his parents picked me to care for him and watch him grow.
His auburn hair and bright blue eyes make me happy, as does his love for furry blankies.

I love my job. 



Show & Tell: Thanksgiving Weekend.

Since Joshua and I have been dating (going on three years), our holidays tend to rotate and be a product of organized chaos. Some time with one family, some time with another. Albiet slightly crazy, I wouldn't change it for the world.

All of his dad's side of the family met at Joshua's aunt's house at around four o'clock, and we ended up staying there waaay too late. We enjoyed an awesome dinner, kiddo amusement and lots of family fun. Our family events consist of toddlers running around and chatter in the backyard, kitchen and living room. It's awesome. My mom also attended this event and my dad and step-mom went to their friend's house since none of the kids were going to be around.

After we left family event numero uno, we drove out to J's momma's house about an hour away where we were spending the weekend. We got there pretty late, so I was ready for food again. Green Bean Casserole all the way, guys. So delicious. Also, hell yes I totally wore yoga leggings and a loose fitting sweater. I only got one picture of Joshua and I, and it's with my iPhone front camera. This is the only picture I took all weekend. At this point, we really needed to leave, but the conversation was really going and we didn't want to be rude.

On Friday, we passed on the Black Friday shopping & hung around the house. I watched lots of episodes of Bones on Netflix and got a few last minute things done for work, which starts tomorrow!

Saturday, we went to a family-friend's 3rd birthday. She's so cute and growing like a weed! Every time she opened a gift, she would exclaim "Oh! My! Gosh!" Her vocabulary is quite extensive and I love it. Chatty toddlers are the bomb dot com.

Today we retook our Christmas card photos. We had them done a few weeks ago, but weren't happy with how they turned out, so we had a friend with a DSLR retake them for us at a park we liked better. I bought a new cardi for today and I am friggin' in love with it. I like longer fitting shirts, so Old Navy's Boyfriend Cardigan is right up my alley. I fully expect myself to own one in as many colors as possible. 


Five Biggest Car Seat Mistakes!

I recently completed by Child Passenger Safety Technician Course, which included twenty-one hours of intense book and hands on work and a six hour community carseat check. During the carseat check, there were some major mistakes I kept seeing repeatedly. I'm going to share them in hopes that my readers will take notice and check the carseats in their cars.

I am still finding my voice as a CPST. I'm still nervous about informing parents I don't know of the mistakes they're making. That those mistakes could mean the difference between life or death in the event of a crash.  It's a harsh reality, but I hope what I'm writing can help empower parents and caregivers to keep their children safe.

1. The seat belt not being in a locked position, if not using LATCH. Parents tend to think that all you have to do is buckle the carseat in the car, when in reality doing so provides little to no protection in the event of a crash. Read your car manual for directions on how to fix this.

2. Incorrect chest clip position. The chest clip needs to be at the chest. An easy indicator for correct positioning is "right across from the tickle spot". Meaning that the chest clip should line up with the arm pits.

3. Incorrect harness strap position. For forward facing carseats, the harness straps need to be at or above the shoulders. For rear facing carseats, the harness straps need to be at or below the shoulders.

4. Looseness of straps. Oh em gee. I cannot handle this one. Think "snug as a hug". Tighten those babies up! It's essentially what keeps your child in their seat in the event of a crash.

5. The allowance for tightness is one inch, both side to side and front to back. You can check the tightness by wiggling the seat at the belt path, aka where you put the seat belt through the carseat.

There are so many more hints and tips that I could share, but I will stop... for now. (: These are the most basic ones that I saw a lot of last Saturday.


Nanny Life: Daily Log Binder

I've found that this is the best way for me to stay organized at work. As L grows, it might not be so detrimental to my routine but for now it is. This way I can pay attention to patterns in his habits and spot any illness or minor allergies he might be developing. I also use this so that I can communicate clearly with his parents and they can tell how our day went. If I feel like an issue has risen, I jot it down in the notes section. I also note his overall mood, that way they can be better mentally prepared for the hours to come after I leave, especially if he's having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day". ;)

Depending on the age group your working with, download and print either the Infant Daily Log or the Toddler Daily Log. I printed fifteen to start, I figure that should last me until I start full-time on January 2nd, maybe a week or two longer. The infant one is two days per page, whereas the toddler log is only one day per page. I tried really hard to make the toddler one two per page, but it was a no-go. 

I'm printing a yearly calendar, that I'm putting it in sheet protectors like these. They stick out from the rest of the pages just enough that they're doubling as dividers. I've been using the yearly calendar printable from Blooming Homestead since last year and think its fabulous. Click here for 2013's Monthly Calendar. They have a bunch of nifty printables that I didn't know about & I totally plan on exploring her blog some more! 

Last but not least, a "week at a glance" type calendar. Out of all the ones I've found, this one is my favorite. I usually just print out the first page (multi-colored) one over and over again. :)  If you print out the entire document it prints out eight weeks worth.

EDIT: I've decided to scratch the idea of the yearly and weekly calendars for the time being. I was thinking too complex, and that's something I don't want. Instead I purchased a standard monthly planner from Walmart. It will sit at the front of the binder, being readily available to both myself and L's parents. I didn't want to take my old idea out of the blog post, for the purpose of equipping those who do need something like that for their charges. 

I made my cover page using Adobe InDesign. I have a lot of fonts on my computer from Kevin & Amanda. She turns peoples' handwriting samples into fonts and I think they're super cute. The one I used on my cover page is called Pea Ellie Bellie. I don't have any pictures of Baby L yet, but as soon as I do, there will definitely be a picture of his adorable self on the cover. :) The covered part is his full name, and I don't feel it's right to share it with the entire world unless his parents give me permission.

The order inside the binder will go monthly calendar, weekly calendars for the month, then daily logs...aaand repeat. I'm doing one month at a time. 



Show & Tell Monday: Gobble Gobble

1. Tell us about your family traditions for Thanksgiving.
I don't think I have any really intense/ set in stone traditions. Obviously taking we turns saying what we're thankful for, but I feel like that's pretty standard. Before I was eighteen, I'd spend one year with my mom, then the next year with my dad. Now Joshua and I shuffle between homes, and my mom comes with us to at least one.

2. Tell us about your favorite foods.
Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, & rolls for the win!
That is all. I hate cranberry sauce, stuffing and all other "traditional" Thanksgiving foods.
I also hate pie, but if you have some sort of vanilla cake or chocolate chip cookies, we can be best friends. :)

3. Show us a picture that reminds you of this holiday.
...I got nothin'. I have ZERO pictures from last year's festivities.
I just know J and I spent time in traffic due to all the crazy people driving toward LA.
In 2010, I spent the holiday in El Paso on Fort Bliss with my family. T'was freezing.

4. Tell us, do you wait to decorate for Christmas before or after Thanksgiving.
I don't get to decorate due to not living on my own. But imagine it being a day after Thanksgiving thing, in the future. We shall see! Maybe next year...

5. Tell us what you are thankful for this year.
My health, my loved ones, & my new job (six days!).

Linkin' up with Becky!
I still can't get her little dealy bob to paste correctly.


CPST Course & Life Stuff

If you don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram*, you wouldn't know BUT for the past three days I've been driving to Los Angeles to attend a Child Passenger Safety Technician course at the children's hospital. The class starts at 7a, so I had to leave my house at 5:20a. I promise I will never complain about the traffic in Orange County ever again. Pinky swear.

Despite the traffic, the course was SOO amazing and made the two-hour-each-way traffic worth it. I already considered myself a carseat nerd, but I learned so many new things! I would definitely recommend the course to anyone who drives with a child in the vehicle, even if it's on an irregular basis. I wish I could share all my new knowledge with you via osmosis. But alas, I've spent 21 hours over the last three days learning my non-existent bootie off. I have to attend a check event tomorrow then I am officially certified! I'm glad it's over, because I'm pooped!

We watched a bunch of crash test comparison videos in my class. As non-judgmental as I try to be, I don't understand why parents wouldn't want to extended rear face, or why they take their children out of a five-point harness early. The effects of using child restraints incorrectly are devastating. Here is a playlist of carseat safety videos from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

If you are thinking about become a Child Passenger Safety Technician, need to find a technician in your area, or want to find a SafeKids Coalition event, click here for more information. If you have any questions please feel free to email me! Just click the envelope on the "Let's Get Social" bar. I typically respond within an hour.
Postscript- I start work in NINE DAYS!! Stoked 'bout it. :o)
*My Twitter is private, as I share more personal bits of my life on there. Feel free to request, but I fully reserve the right to stalk your social media outlets before I approve you. Instagram is public. 


What I Read in November

One for my goals for Thirty By Thirty was to read 250 new books by the time I turn 30 on August 29, 2020. I thought I'd start sharing which books I read at the end of every month. Nothing too serious, just a way to keep track and remember which books I enjoyed and which ones I didn't. I open to recommendations! 

1. Beyond the Sling (Mayim Bialik, PhD)

     I first heard of this book when my dad got it for my step-mom, they love the show Big Bang Theory, to which Mayim is one of the stars. I made a mental note to read it one day, not for who the author was, but for the principles she wrote about. Attachment Parenting makes sense to me in many ways, but it was definitely something I wanted to read more about. I knew that I like babywearing, and plan on birthing and raising my children naturally in the future. 

     Do I agree with everything Mayim talks about? Not necessarily. I understand where she comes from, they're just not things that I would do mostly because I'm not comfortable with them. My favorite part of this book is that every single thing she writes about she practices first hand with her two children, unlike so many other parenting books on the market. 

I'd recommend this read to any parent (even if they don't practice attachment parenting), nanny or other primary caregiver, and future mamas I know. I also believe that everyone should watch the documentary the Business of Being Born before they have kids. Eye opening, folks. You can find it on instant Netflix. 

2. Pandaemonium by Lauren Oliver

The sequel to Delirium. It takes place in a dystopian world where love is a disease for which everyone is treated. Gotta read the first one, then we can discuss. I refuse to be the spoiler of books. (: 

The only thing I'm quite frustrated with is that the bindings of the books I have don't match. OCD, much? Meaning that I bought Delirium in paperback, but was essentially forced to buy Pandaemonium in either eBook or Hardcover, as the paperback edition won't be released until next year. The author has also released one mini story (about 50 pages, available only in eBook), and another is scheduled for released at the end of December.* The last book in the trilogy, entitled Requiem, is scheduled for release in Spring 2013.

Like The Hunger Games, the first book starts slowly. Its something one has to trudge through in order to get to the good parts! After that you're smooth sailing.

I do realize it's not the end of November yet, but I have a lot of things coming up in "for real life" that won't allow me to start any new books this month. 

* Mini stories are entitled Hana (released) & Annabel (expected release date: 12.26.2012). 


Show & Tell Mondays: Cold Weather Acitivities

1. Tell us what you like to do when it's cold outside.
Stay inside. Watch movies. Cuddle under heaps of blankets. Sleep. Eat grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Sleep with my feet in front of my space heater. Plan gifts (we're keeping it homemade this year). Read.

2. Tell us some of your favorite "winter" recipes.
I don't make anything special, but I loove Green Bean Casserole. I could eat it everyday. Especially the way my mom makes it. Nom nom nom.

3. Show a picture of something that makes you think of the cold. 
Supercross. Takes place at the beginning of January in an outdoor arena, at night. 

4. Tell or show us some of your favorite accessories for the winter.
I work inside and it doesn't snow here, so the only change in my clothing choices are my shoes. I go from sandals to boots. Ugg style or equestrian depending on the day. I also wear a lot more hoodies, VS Pink is my favorite brand. #nannystyle. I keep it simple. 

5. Tell us if you had the option of snow or no snow, what would you pick?
I was born and raised in Southern California, I don't do snow. Freezing to me is 60*. Once it gets below that temperature, it all feels the same to me. It's COLD. 

Link up with Becky, here!



Nanny Life: Older Infant & Toddler Daily Log

Update (1.29.2013): To see how I utilize this daily log at work, head on over to this post

Release of the Toddler Daily Log is here! (:
This one is meant for older infants and toddlers who consume at least some sort of solid food throughout the day. Just click the link and go from there. I tried really hard to make it two per page just as I had the last one, but there were just too many details that needed to be included.
If anyone is using these, please let me know how they're working out for you. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Especially if you think they need improvements, I want to make them as user friendly as possible. 
I apologize for being away for the past few days, especially after I'd been on such a blog writing roll. I've been babysitting my favorite two year old, who I also think is the most adorable toddler EVER. His ice blue eyes and tiny toddler voice, oh my. 
We went to a local kid-friendly science museum yesterday & he loved it. After spending over two hours walking around, I told him it was time to go. He told me "no" in his tiny toddler voice. I then asked him if he was hungry and needed to feed his belly. Know what he said? 
"No, Wally. I feed my mouf!"


Nanny Life: Infant Daily Log

Update (1.29.2013): To see how I utilize these daily logs at work, head over to this post

I've found that one of the most useful things that I've learned since becoming a Nanny is to keep a daily log of what happened during the day; including everything from activities to diaper changes and the times they happened. For infants, this is crucial. The first indication of illness is a change in appetite, lethargy, and lack of dirty diapers.

Parents appreciate that you're keeping a track record and that they can refer back to a certain day if they need to. Most Daily Logs include a 'notes' section. I use section this to note anything I think that the parents might need or want to know, normally things that don't seem quite normal, a fun activity we did, or a milestone that my charge is working on.

There are A LOT of different options to choose from in regards to Daily Logs that are floating around the Internet. Some sucked, and others I tried to work with, but in the end I couldn't find anything that fit my style and included everything I needed it to.

So I decided to make my own & thought I'd share them with you! It's nothing fancy, but it serves the function it needs to in an organized way.

The first one I'm releasing is the Infant Daily Log. Meant for an infant still relying 100% on breast milk or formula. All you have to do is click the link to view it & you should be able to download or print it from there. I will be releasing more logs for different age groups in the weeks to come!


If you're having problems downloading or viewing it, please email me and I can send you the PDF document.
*Do not crop or alter the file in anyway. Please give credit where credit is due.*