Friday, July 29, 2011

Showering the Baby - The Only Option

I was talking to someone today about the only way I bathed my children. My children heard me talking and asked that I write about it on my blog so they can know all of these tips. I asked if they were serious and they told me they were so here is my suggestion for the easiest way to bathe a baby. Of course if you look at the top photo, there are many option but for me, there was only one....

When I had my first Princess, I got the baby bath and back then they had the long flat baths. I put it in my tub and washed the baby and had such a back ache and knee ache that I thought that was such a stupid idea.

The next bath time, I tried the kitchen sink and counter. That was such an ordeal and several times the baby got slippery with soap and shampoo (she had a ton of hair) that I almost let her slip out of my hands. That option was then out.

As you know by now if you have read many of my posts, you know that I ponder thing often. I seek out a solution to many every day things asking myself how can I make this task faster or easier.

After not much pondering, I came up with showering the baby with me. I would get her little baby chair ready by putting a blanket on first and then I would put a towel in it. It didn't take more than once by putting a wet, warm baby into towels and blankets to learn that I needed to add a diaper to the mix.

I don't have any photos of the actual "set up" but this is the chair I used. Put a blanket in first, then a towel, I usually had several of the hooded baby towels I made so I would use one of those so I could keep them warm. I then would put a diaper down.

Next, I would undress myself and the baby and then turn on the water and make sure it was the right temperature. I would pick up the baby and NEVER let her go once I had her in this position. I would cradle her in my arm and with that same hand I would wrap my hand around her outer leg with a vice grip and once I was in the shower, I didn't let go of that leg until she was washed and I was placing her in the carrier covered with the towel.

With her in that hold, I would wash her hair from the back and rinse it from the back, then I would turn and wash the bottom and between the legs, then up under the arms and neck etc.

Once she was washed, I would open the shower, stick her in the chair making sure to pull the diaper up around her and wrap her well in the towel and blanket. It never failed to put them to sleep. They would sleep while I finished showering myself.

My children were never afraid of showers as almost any child I have ever tended or baby sat has been. They weren't afraid to swim either. They were used to getting their face a bit wet and I never bathed them at home unless they were older or it was a social event with bubble and toys. Most of the photos I have of my children in the bath are from friends when they were visiting someone as in both of these photos.

As we talked about it today, the girls all talked about how the enjoyed taking showers and would play in the shower until the water ran cold sometimes. The other blessing is that once they are old enough to sit, you can just let them play in the shower with you until they are old enough to shower alone. We have always taken showers every night before bed as a routine and I have never worried about any of my children drowning in the tub because they never did take a bath unless they were older or with friends for fun.

I know two people personally that have had children drown in the tub. One was saved and the other was not. The only option I used was the shower option as it saved my peace of mind, my back and knees, helped my children enjoy water and it conserves water as well!

Always watch your children when they are around water. Try this at your own risk as there are risks with any option. For me, this was the best option. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water. There are 100 deaths a year in the U.S. of children under five due to drowning in bathtubs! Here is a link to an article on it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Come Rock With Me - Hammock

We owned a hammock for many years and never had trees in our yard to hang it up. Sometimes camping, we tried to use it but it was so much work it wasn't worth it.

Several years ago when I was looking at making a "play" area in my back yard, I wanted to be able to hang up a hammock and pondered on how I could do that without planting trees in just the right spot. I thought about using a clothes line but unless it was the right distance apart and cemented in, it really wouldn't be sturdy.

I was at a second hand store one day and next to the dumpster they had an old swing set. It had cement on the bottom of one or two of the posts but and idea came to me. I asked if they were going to throw it out anyway, if I could buy it for a few dollars and so I brought it home. I bought a few cans of spray paint and colored it the color of my swing set and hung up the hammock.

We have really enjoyed having it in our yard. I really enjoy it after mowing or working hard in the yard and I can lay in the twilight looking up at the stars starting to show. It is also really nice to look at meteor showers.

It has been a hit with the kids that come over to play. They go from the tire swing (see post "Tired Swing" here) to the trampoline to the hammock, to the swing set. It took some effort to landscape the backyard but it was well worth it as it is minimal work now compared to what we used to have. Here are some photos of before and here is a link to the post about how it looks now. "Playing Hard in the Yard."

If you are ever in town, "Come rock with me!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Honey Bear Solution

I don't know about you but we don't eat much honey. The main reason is that it always goes crystal soon after buying it. The raw honey seems to do that and then what do you do to melt it so you can actually use the honey?

I have watered it down with warm water. I have boiled some water and set the bottle in the water. I have tried to microwave it. It takes forever and is frustrating so instead of having peanut butter and honey, we usually have peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

The other day I was visiting my sister and on her counter she had the solution. She was using her candle warmer to melt the honey! She had the type with the light that shines down from the top like this one. However, I thought you could use the small candle warmer that is like a small hot plate and keep it on your counter plugged in all the time if you use your honey often and just keep the honey in a glass jar rather than a squeeze jar. Or, you could have a mug of water on the candle warmer and keep the plastic squeeze container in the mug of warmed water to keep it liquid.

My sister would just pour off whatever honey melted into this squeeze jar and there was always more to pour in as she walked past. I will have to experiment with what works best but either idea was a brilliant one on my sisters part! She is so amazing!

I hope your future is SWEET!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes

You may think this is a stupid post but I have an interesting story about the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes that I thought I would share with you.

I wondered since I was a teen about the sweepstakes offers that came in the mail. I remember reading one that came when I was about 14 and was sure we were the winner. I sent in the reply then just hoping we would be the next millionaire family.

I got busy with life and decided I didn't have time to read the junk that came and stopped sending them in while I had young children.

We had my friend Sara move with us when we moved across the country and she was with us for about a year. (She also happens to be the friend that suggested I start a blog.)

We had just moved to this small town and we got some forwarded junk mail dealing with the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. They had some past winners listed on the flier. It gave the person's name and how much they won and the town in which they lived.

My friend Sara was just sure that these names and photos were models or fake people and not real winners of prizes so in her frustration with that, she called information and asked for the person listed in the town which was also listed. She got the phone number for a nice old woman who won some money.

Sara called the woman and asked her directly if she really had won the money or if it was a "fake" statement. The woman replied, something like, "Why yes dear, I did win the money."

When she told us the story when we arrived home later, we couldn't stop laughing. However, from that time on, I have faithfully sent in my sweepstakes entry. Yes, I realize that my chances at winning any prize with them are one in a few million or more but I figure someone has to win and as you can see by my many "Big Win" posts, I have won my share. Heavenly Father has taken good care of my family!

So, if you aren't sad for the loss of a stamp a few times a year, it is a nice opportunity. If nothing else, they sell your name to companies who send you lots of address labels so you don't have to write out your return address on any of your out going mail!

Either way, I see it as a Win / Win! I wish you all luck. But, wouldn't it be the funniest thing if I won $5,000 a week for life! It is around the time of my birthday..... Wish me luck! As my friend Michelle always says, "Never have a dream, never have a dream come true!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Ultimate Water Fight - Old/New Tradition

When we were young, I lived in the city for much of my childhood. I remember going to my mothers best friends house in a nicer suburb and they had neighborhood water fights. They would send out invitations and have everyone bring buckets full of balloons and the whole street would have one big water fight with treats at the end.

When my older kids were young, we did the same thing. However, with my children going to their dads during the summer and vacations, camps and other activities when I had them, this fun activity was forgotten until my oldest two princesses were home this weekend.

My eldest suggested that we "have a water fight like we used to have." My youngest called some friends and told them our idea. They showed up with squirt bottles and whatever they had at home. I bought some balloons bulk a few years ago on clearance for $.25 for a bag of 150 balloons. We had three groups filling balloons.

Some of the water balloons you buy come with a hose nozzle to fill balloons. I used a hose holder for one of the hoses making it easier for one person to fill them. We had two people in each group. One filled while the other tied. We filled some in the kitchen and each group worked until we had three coolers and a bucket full of balloons.

We also filled up old laundry soap buckets with water and had one in each corner of the yard full of sponge water balls. We have three soaker water guns and a few other assorted sprayers, guns and sponges.

We all had fun and enjoyed Popsicles after cleaning up while we dried off in the sun. I will also let you know that my sisters neighborhood had one last year that was the whole street and each house had those huge round buckets used to store gear full of water. They had one up in each front yard, they also had hoses and sponges, guns etc. None of our neighbors on the whole street have any children at home so ours wouldn't be the best street for that but if you have a child friendly street, that could be fun as well.

Keep your eye out in a month or two for clearance sells on the water-balloons, squirt guns, super soakers or water sponges so you can be ready for next year!

One caution: If there are little children around, broken balloons are a choking hazard so make sure you use the sponge balls if there will be any small children around during the fight or after as it is difficult to get all the small balloon pieces picked up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A "Wicked" Blanket

My oldest Princess collects Wizard of Oz items. She isn't really active in collecting but asked when she was about 11 if she could collect that. We started with her and it went from there.

Because I have all girls, people assume we need Barbies and stuffed animals for each holiday. Each girl was getting one or two each birthday or holiday and we kept getting more than our house could hold. I thought the collection thing was a good idea so that people could focus their gifts onto something the girls liked and in the end, if they wanted, we could sell their collection as a collection and it would have some value rather than toys we would not have room to keep.

As we were getting groceries the other day at WalMart and picking up some paint, we passed the fabric isle and in the center where we were walking they had a clearance rack and on the rack we could see some fleece with the "wicked witch" on it from The Wizard Of Oz.

I thought for years now that my oldest had "out grown" her collection and would be OK getting rid of it for the most part. She does have some really cool items that are one of a kind that she would probably keep but all in all, I didn't think it was an interest to her.

She got very excited about the fleece. We saw that the fleece was on clearance for $3 and $4 a panel. She wanted to make a blanket out of the two different yet matching fabrics. We bought them.

Last night she brought them home and laid them out and cut the corners off. I asked why she did this and she said when you are knotting them them together, if you tie the corners, it gathers them up to much so she cuts off the corners so they don't bunch up.

Today, she cut the edges into strips about 1 inch apart and 2-3 inches long through both fabrics and all edges. Then she just tied the two blankets together using a square knot. It didn't take long and the blanket is cute for what it is. She said she could use the collection to decorate her nursery when she has children and I told her she would give her kid nightmares sleeping on that blanket. We both had a good laugh.

It was a cute inexpensive craft project. Even a small child can tie these. They could make a baby gift by themselves without much help. It would be nice to make some of these to donate to the homeless or women shelters but I think I would choose different fabrics! :-)

I realized this week that we have made 10 quilts and countless aftgans since my eldest arrived home in November. We now have lots of blankets at our house.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Called To Serve - Happy Day

Today was a very busy day. It started with a Board meeting for the local food bank. I rushed home to drive with Princess number 1 to a job interview almost 3 hours away in a small town where she thinks things went well. She also drove half way up and back in a stick shift car which is new for her so that was fun.

While I waited for her I went to a local drive in to get a cool treat and wouldn't you know there was a dime on the ground. I took it as a good sign. I told my daughter on the way up that I looked at the clock at 11:11 and 1:11 before leaving and thought that today would be a good day.

As I was going to post about today, I forgot that when I posted about Kenya the other day, when I looked at the time I started posting, it was 1:11. I laughed and took a picture so that is the photo at the top.

Along with getting to spend the day with Princess number 1, I also got a letter in the mail the states where Princess number 2 will be going on a mission for our church. She will be going to Taiwan, Taipei and will be learning to speak Mandarin. She will be leaving October 26 after getting her visa and other items in order.

We enjoyed having everyone home tonight but Princess number three who is still in Kenya but will enjoy our weekend together and hope she is enjoying hers in Kenya.

I was going to post on some projects we are working on but I think I will leave it as it is late and I am tired and I will share those things with you tomorrow. We have so many projects going right now things are a bit crazy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy 12th Birthday Princess number 5

It is official. I am old. My baby is now a young lady. Last week I had my oldest out of town visiting her boyfriend. My second finished up her last class at college and sent in papers to go on a mission like her older sister. My third daughter left for her service mission to Kenya and my fourth was at a week long religious youth event. That left Princess number 5 alone with me for her 12th birthday.

I was sad for her as this is such a big birthday for her and most summers she has been with her father on her birthday but it just worked out to be a weird week. This wasn't all bad for her though because we celebrated her birthday 3 times with another party in the plan.

We had a party with most of her sisters before any left. We had another the Sunday before we headed off to drop off sisters and one with her cousins on her actual birthday and we have one planned for her friends.

On her actual birthday, I was up at 4 a.m. taking her sister to the airport. We had all had a late night the night before so she slept in. We then went swimming at a friends house with her cousins. After that, we picked up pizza and ate and then we all headed to a rollerskating rink/bounce zone/laser tag place with her cousins to play.

I took her to get Sushi and we went and did service at one of our temples with her cousins. To do service there, you have to be 12 so this was her first opportunity to be able to assist there. It was a wonderful experience for her and she asked when she could attend again. She told me that she had a wonderful birthday because she got to celebrate it so many times with so many people in so many ways.

Happy 12th Princess!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lions on the Road to Africa

Princess number four is in Africa! She decided to take a friend along. The local Lions club gave her some money to help fund her trip and while she was at their meeting, someone made the comment for her to bring them back a lion. We laughed but the more we thought about it, we came up with the idea for her to take a little lion with her on the trip. She wants to get pictures of her and the lion together starting with packing and then all along the way so she can do a slide show after her return to thank those who helped sponsor her trip.

The lion helped her pack and got his hair braided when she got hers braided. He even got a bead.

He was up at the early hour of 4 a.m. to get to the airport and went through security peeking out of her backpack.

She left on Thursday morning and had a layover in Washington where they toured a few places and left Friday morning for Africa. I was on the calling tree for parents and got a call Saturday morning saying they were in Africa and doing well.

I have to say that I was a little nervous about letting her go. While I was feeling stress about it, I looked down and there was a penny. I laughed and knew that God let me know months ago that he wanted her on this trip. He blessed her with people who donated to the trip and she was able to come up with the funds to go so I need to trust that and Him.

On Friday, she called saying that all the group was at a movie in Washington D.C. and she was in her hotel room alone. Once again, I stressed that she was far away and alone. I was trying to give suggestions as she hadn't wanted to see that movie and she told me she was going to bed and just then, I looked down (I was at a party) and there at that exact moment was a penny at my feet. I let her know about the penny and how proud I was of her choices in life and that she would have a great trip and to get a good sleep for the busy day of flying the next day.

As I was driving back to where I was staying, I stopped at the store for some ice cream and I was thanking my Heavenly Father in my head for the blessing of the penny that night as it gave me peace to know he was watching over my children wherever they were. I finished my prayer of gratitude as I got out of the car and there on the ground was a nickle. I laughed out loud and got to share with my nephew and niece who were with me, the story about the penny and how they always show up and when I give gratitude for the penny, or whatever it is, he gives me more. I told them about the jar I have where I keep all the coins.

I also took Princess number three to a week long religious retreat for youth where she had classes, dances, games and activities with other youth of our faith. She enjoyed it. These two princesses won't see each other for a month with all they have going on. It's a crazy, yet wonderful summer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cornrow Braids For Kenya

My third Princess wanted to have her hair in cornrow braids when she went to Africa for her two week service mission. She knows the convent in which they are staying has limited shower use and was worried about head lice, bed bugs and many other things that could make her long hair become and issue so she asked me to braid her hair.

I asked her if she wanted it straight down the sides or away from her face so she didn't need a head band, clips, barrette, bobby pin etc. She wanted it away from the face so that is how I did it.

I have cornrowed the girls several times over the years. When my oldest was little I had an ethnic African tell me that I really did a good job on the cornrows. I thought that was a good stamp of approval on my talent.

Basically, cornrows are just small french braids. If you can do a french braid, you can cornrow. French braiding is done with three small pieces to start with. You then braid those in a regular braid but pick up a piece of hair on the outside each time you take the braid from the outside to the inside. That is it.

To make the design you want, you take a small toothed comb and use it to make the lines you want. She wanted the top to go straight back and away from her face and the sides to go away from her face but not straight back. So, I made the part down and then away.

All you do is use an elastic to hold the other hair out of your way and then french braid the piece of hair you have parted braiding it until you can't anymore. We used little elastics purchased at the dollar store but in the past, someone in the "know" told me to use waxed dental floss which worked well but not as well as the small black elastics you can buy now.

She also wanted beads in her hair but didn't decide that until we had already braided several so we put them on the bottom. I found this new back of glow-in-the-dark beads unopened for $.50 at a second hand store so we thought those would be fun. We put those in at the bottom of her hair and used another elastic to hold it in place.

On the back, she wanted more volume so we just parted the hair into squares and braided them in a plain braid rather than cornrow so she could pull them up into a pony tail as she liked the look. This took much longer because the back had 4-5 braids each row rather than the one cornrow braid. It did have a great look however. She was happy with the results.

My youngest braided three of the smaller braids into one braid which gave an interesting look. We left one of the triple braids in so you could see how it curled the braids overnight. I thought it gave a cute look for variety but Princess number three wanted the straight cornrow look for her trip.

It was fun and now my youngest princess wants her hair cornrow braided for girls camp which is coming up in a few weeks. It will be fun for her to have her hair braided. I am glad we cut her hair as it will be a much easier task.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dehydrated Pickle Tuna Sandwich

I posted earlier this week about dehydrating some pickles. The result wasn't that great but I have to post about the tuna that I made today.

I didn't tell the kids that I was using the pickles that were dehydrated and I have to say that none of them liked the rehydrated pickles.

I made tuna in a bowl with mayo and tuna. I then added several dehydrated pickles broken in to small pieces. I crushed some white onions that were dehydrated into the tuna as well. I then added sunflower seeds, chopped celery, and put some organic salad on top.

I mixed it together and put on the lettuce and added some chips on the side and every girl told me it was good and said "Thanks mom" and two ended up having seconds because they liked it so well.

I found a use for the dehydrated pickles. I don't know that I would do it again because in an emergency, I wouldn't probably have tons of tuna but it was an interesting experiment and we will use up the other dried pickles in a similar way.