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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

This post contains affiliate links- please see our disclaimers page. Click on any image to check it out on Amazon

I feel like I am normally more well planned than this. With a cute craft I will have my toddler complete a month ahead of time…but quarantine has me all sorts of not motivated. I also want to purge things in my life and a bin full of canvases of toddler handprints in my garage seems unnecessary (i’m sure i’ll regret that thought process in 10 years).

Last year I took my 15 month old to As You Wish (A pottery painting place) to make a grill platter that I saw on Pinterest. It turned out super cute…but was very labor intensive and only required all of 5 minutes of Taylor’s time…so cue my dad feeding her pretzel bites while I frantically paint a grill plate for 2 hours. NOPE not this year.

Here are some practical Dad gift finds you can order online if you are a fairly last minute shopper!

My husband loves novelty t-shirts. I kid you not, I had to tell him he had to stop wearing his shirt that said “be nice to me my wife is pregnant” shirt when I was in fact no longer pregnant. So insert all the cute dad shirts for father’s day. I love the “Dad Bod” ones.

He recently got an apple watch and could benefit from some charging organization (couldn’t we all). This docking station can charge his apple watch and Iphone easily on his night stand. Hand in hand with this are double chargers that we never have enough of around our house. He uses these for everything (Can you tell I’m thinking practical?)

The teacher in me is a sucker for a book for EVERY occasion. For his first father’s day I got my husband the “Just Me and My dad” book of the Litter Critter series who I just love, and I wrote a sweet message in the inside cover. Here are a few book options you can grab from Amazon, just click the picture of each book and it will take you there.

Keeping with the book theme there are a lot of personalized book options out there. I have never ordered from them personally, but one of the ones I hear about a lot is Hooray Heroes. Books seem to run about $40+ I may be cheap…but I will stick to my under $10 Amazon books and write a sweet message inside. But I do know people that have ordered these and LOVE them.

Something super simple and thoughtful, but practical for us is this cute tape measure. Dave has no shortage of tape measures, but when we need them he literally can’t find a single one, so I thought this would be fitting. I happen to have a Cricut to make this vinyl label to add to the tape measure, but if you don’t a vinyl label like this would be $5 or so from someone local who has one.

Two year old quarantine life has us drinking a lot more than normal lately… I recently got myself a Brumate skinny can koozie (also did you know koozie was spelled with a K? because I didn’t until I started writing this) for my white claw & truly lemonade obsession. Quick PSA. If you haven’t tried this Truly lemonade variety pack you are missing out!

Brumate makes koozies for just about every size drink you could think of, in all the best colors. My husband would use a 12 oz bottle one and can koozie. Also those pictures below defaulted to mermaid colors…They definitely come in man colors, but while you are getting one for your favorite dad in your life pick yourself up a beautiful glitter one for all your Truly/Whiteclaw needs.

You can never go wrong with some simple basics like his favorite beer-Dave’s summer jam is the Sam Adam’s Summer Ale and their favorite snack. I also really like theme gifts. If your husband or dad has a hobby they are really into (Dave’s is cycling) you could get all gifts centered around that theme. We do not typically spend a lot on gifts for each other and bike stuff is EXPENSIVE so I am opting out of a bike theme this year.

My husband is easier to buy for than my actual dad. My dad has EVERYTHING, so it makes it tricky. He actually really loves my crafts and has always been very supportive of them so I may make him a cup and a custom door mat. Personalized gifts go a long way with him.

We typically would go out to dinner, but I am unsure what quarantine father’s day will bring, probably grilling at home! What is something you have your eye on for all the special dads in your life? Let me know in the comments!

Here’s to all the amazing dad’s out there! We couldn’t do it without you! Happy Father’s Day! May your families continue to stay safe, happy, and healthy!

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A Season of Life

I throw that phrase around a lot “it’s just a season of life” it won’t be like this forever. Something I frequently tell myself when I feel held back or frustrated that I can’t have everything I want right when I want it. My first full year as a SAHM is almost coming to a close and quarantine was NOT at all how I envisioned wrapping up this year.

I follow quite a few accounts on Instagram that make me feel envious. Envious that they are killing these side hustles or goals they aspire to do in life and some days i’m angry that I don’t have the capacity/hustle or whatever it is that I don’t have to make that happen right now. My current “season of life” is to focus on my marriage, be the best mama I can be to my girl, and keep my house somewhat clean. I didn’t quit my teaching career to become a professional crafter/blogger, I really didn’t- but that doesn’t mean it’s not a reality punch in the gut. I would love to be the one with the gorgeous instagram full of the 500 cup orders she fills in a month and a fantastic website, but that is just not in the cards for me right now. Right now anything I do “extra” as a side hustle is completely done at 6 am, nap time or after 9 pm when my toddler isn’t awake and it is HARD. I lost a ridiculous amount of sleep filling back to back 50 cup orders, but it was so gratifying. I desperately miss the feeling of going to work and feeling good at something, which I think most people in the work force totally take for granted, I know I did. I felt confident in teaching, I felt in my element. Nothing knocks you down on your ass faster than a toddler hitting you, arguing over Blippi episodes, or calling you a mean mom all day (hello terrible twos). Now don’t get me wrong SAHM life is full of SO many rewarding moments, and when this season of life passes I truly believe that I will never regret the time that I spent home with any children that we do have. That is precious time that I absolutely cannot get back.

But in the mean time i’m choosing to be honest with myself. I’m choosing to allow myself to feel all the feelings and express them, even if they aren’t good. I’m positive that jealously is not a good color on me and I am sure i’ve seen plenty of pretty quote displays somewhere that says “comparison is the thief of all joy” so someone should just go ahead and gift that to me to hang over my bed……because all I do is compare (don’t we all?) While I never want to squash my dreams of always wanting to be bigger and better at everything I do, but I also want to learn to appreciate all that I have. There are so many moms out there that long to be a SAHM, but can’t financially, or women who are longing to become moms. I am beyond blessed to stay home with my girl and I don’t ever want to take that for granted, there are just parts of me that miss the me that was more than a mom. That felt like an amazing teacher, friend, coworker, sister, daughter, wife etc.

I am positive that when my kids grow up and are in school full time, I WILL miss this (cue Trace Adkins you’re gonna miss this) playing in the background…. And maybe there is someone peaking at my instagram posts of me and my girl wishing they had this. This season of my life is messy, long, exhausting, rewarding, and beautiful and while I may not have time to run any successful businesses while I am a full time mom to a feisty 2 old year, that’s okay because I am certain that I will NEVER look back on life and wish I worked more.

Hugs and virtual cheers to all the mamas/women/family/friends feeling conflicted in your current season of life. More people feel the same way as you than you’ll ever know. Let’s try to surround ourselves with gratitude and make sure you add in things you enjoy doing, that get you a little out of your mundane routine. For me it is crafting for a little creative outlet or getting out to the gym (pre-covid). Find what sparks some joy in you outside of everyday life and try and do more of it.

Also, if you want to feel better about your day…Here is my toddler friend losing her mind over not being able to eat marshmallows for lunch… Just a season my friends, just a season!

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The Positivity Struggle

Is anyone else tired of people telling them to think positive or have a positive mindset during all of this?? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I wasn’t really the most positive person before quarantine happened….SO I wasn’t just going to become a Disney princess while being on lockdown with my 2 year old ALL day EVERY day you feel me?

I spend most of my days in an internal battle with myself of whether to take on the world with a cleaning routine, work my side hustle, become a top chef with all my new Joanna Gaines cookbooks, and get active…. or to allow myself a Netflix & chill day ( I know I know non 30 year olds have a different meaning for this) and let my kid sit on her IPAD with Daniel Tiger songs on repeat, while I drink all the coffee and we stay in our pajamas.

It’s hard and I’m struggling daily. I miss the fricken gym so much. Okay maybe not the actual working out…but I miss my gym friends and the childcare. Oh my gosh the glorious childcare. You’ll never know the true power of an hour to workout yourself with your friends unless it is snatched away from you with 0 warning. Sure I am working out at home, but trust me when you have to use nap time to do so, so a toddler isn’t hanging on your leg the entire time it is not nearly as satisfying…that’s my lifetime movie watching/snack time. I miss MOPS group and all my amazing mom friends (PS there is childcare there too). Do you sense a pattern in all of the things I miss?? Really i’m just a SAHM asking someone to please take my toddler for ONE DAY! I kid I kid….but not really, nope. I have been a SAHM since last June and that term is totally deceiving because we very rarely “stayed home.” We always had lots of stuff going on. The extrovert in me always made sure our schedule was full of bustling activities….and I am 100 percent mourning them. I don’t know how to stay home….ironic coming from a SAHM.

Insert some sweet image of a mom hugging her child saying everything I need is right at home across my Facebook feed (I GET IT) i’m complaining. (I warned you about my lack of positivity). My husband is an “essential worker” but really who isn’t in the state of Arizona (that’s a problem for a different day). I sanitize the crap out of everything, make him change in the garage, and shower right away. So there is also the stress of that. I miss grocery shopping, such an odd thing to miss. I HATED grocery shopping before all of this, but my husband has been going because he is already “exposed” if you will for being “essential”. Im just full of quotation marks today because I just don’t even know the true meaning of all of these words in my head anymore- also quick side note…does anyone else want to scratch their eyes out as they watch the Corona Virus task force?? I quit…I now read the cliff-notes version from every person on my neighborhood page who now thinks they are experts on infectious diseases.

This has basically become word vomit (Thanks Mean Girls)…but I don’t see friends anymore so I have to get it out somewhere! My husband and I argue over bedtime with our toddler EVERY night because no one I mean no one wants to deal with 2 year old bedtime. I will pay someone to come over every night and put my kid to bed. I’m done making deals, going through every color on her Hatch sound machine before she finds the “better” one or not having the right blanket. I am sure there are parenting techniques for this too….I just don’t want them. Survival mode. I’ll save that for a day when I am ready to take on the world…. and 10 pm on a Wednesday night when The Masked Singer decided to give us a recycled sing-a-long instead of a new episode is NOT the night (anyone else think that is crap??).

I am just here to say hang in there. If all you ate was bread, cookies, and fruity pebbles cereal today that’s okay! (speaking purely hypothetically of course)…. I hope the end is near, and trust me that I know I could have it a LOT worse. I am very grateful for my husband’s job to not be affected by this, so please do not take this post that way. I am just a tired extroverted mom who misses people and activities, and I highly doubt that anyone locked at home with a toddler is coping THAT well…and if they appear to be…it’s a lie. If you are looking for a super upbeat, WE WILL BEAT THIS post follow me on one of my take on the world days. But until then…i’m here for you and enjoy virtual happy hours.

If you haven’t checked out the house party app- download it. It has provided a lot of laughs for my family during this hard time. Also get yourself a bottle of Malibu and a case of white claws because those help too!

I would love to know how you are all feeling about everything. No need to hold back, I didn’t! Leave me some comments below!

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How to Make Homemade Easter Egg Dye

This post contains affiliate links- please see our disclaimers page

While we are all in “quarantine and chill” mode what better way to kick off Easter than a DIY activity while we are all…you guessed it, HOME! Do not spend time around crowds rushing to the stores for materials to dye Easter Eggs. I am 99.9% sure that Easter egg dying kits are non-essential items..you with me?

Also it seems so strange to be worried about “Easter Traditions” like baskets and egg dying during a worldwide pandemic….however I also feel determined to hang onto a sense of “normalcy” for my own mental sanity, even if my 2 year old has ZERO clue as to what is going on.

Most of these ingredients are things you should already have around the house. Even I found all of them in my very disorganized kitchen!

Here’s what you need for homemade egg dye:

I love the look of mason jars to do this. They are high enough to avoid splatters (cause toddlers, duh!) and they are glass so they nicely show the colors.

Instructions:

  1. Boil water (6-8 oz per color..I did 6 colors)
  2. Combine boiling water, vinegar, and food coloring in a mason jar (bowl, measuring cup…whatever!) and stir well.
  3. Place eggs in dye for 2-5 minutes until you reach the desired color
  4. Allow eggs to dry and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Check out these fun combos!

Don’t forget to have some FUN with it! I mean we are all going to need it this long into quarantine! Use a white crayon to add designs to your eggs BEFORE dying them. The darker the color, the less time the egg will need in the dye.

Quick plug for a mother’s helper stool here! It has been CLUTCH for us during this quarantine because she never wants to leave my side. From baking to egg dying, to busy toddler activities… you name it, Taylor is constantly on that stool right now. Ours is from a local mama (in Phoenix, AZ) called @littlehelperstools on instagram check them out- she does ship! Here’s a similar one on Amazon as well!

Check out our finished product!

Ready to take it one step further?? Check out how I marbled this one!

I stumbled across these recently and LOVED them…also SUPER easy!

How to Marble Eggs:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Dye your eggs a solid color- see above directions for that
  2. Choose a color to marble your egg with (Pro-tip- it needs to be darker than the solid color of your egg)
  3. Stir in a generous amount of the darker color you chose (the water should be much darker than when you first dyed the egg)
  4. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the water and gently stir to create swirls and bubbles on the top of the water
  5. Roll the egg around in the water- the longer you roll the egg the more marbled it will become!
  6. Place it on a rack to dry
  7. Repeat with however many colors you would like to marble with
  8. Wipe each egg with a paper towel when dry to remove any excess oil

Don’t need this yet??

Click on the picture below to PIN for later!

PIN THIS for later!

Wishing you and your family a SAFE, HEALTHY, and HAPPY Easter! I hope you can find some peace in these unsettling times.

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Is Produce Wash Worth It??

This post contains affiliate links- please see our disclaimers page

I’ve been working on some Sunday routines that will help make the week easier on myself. Toddler life is no joke, are you with me?? I feel like I’m raising a sour patch candy all day everyday. My husband commutes an hour to work each day on top of a 10 hour (+ OT sometimes) SO it’s a whole lot of time with my 2 year old friend (love her, but MAN she’s hard work) So in a nut shell I need ALL THE THINGS to make my week easier as a SAHM.

One of these Sunday routines is produce prep. When I actually get my grocery shopping done over the weekend (i’m about 50/50) i’ve been washing/cutting/storing all the produce, which makes my meals/snacks so much easier.

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen?? Most of the fruit & veggies we buy are on this list!

Since I started using a produce wash (Young Living- Thieves) in particular i’m always incredibly shocked at the results that I wouldn’t get if I simply ran the produce under water.

These grapes were NASTY. Incredibly cloudy and gross and NO amount of water was going to make them better (FYI I don’t typically buy organic produce- which i’m sure is a debate somewhere).

The thieves fruit and veggie soak is super simple. I add a cap full of soak to a bowl of my filtered fridge water. I use this same bowl for a few rounds of soaks. I fill the bowl with whatever produce I have (Today it was grapes and strawberries) and let them soak for 2 minutes.

Then I rinse in a colander and lay out to dry for about 20-30 minutes on a rack before putting cutting and storing for the week.

The amount of dirt/pesticides what have you that are left in this bowl speaks for itself.

I know there are a few brands out there- I only have first hand experience with the Young living fruit and veggie soak but here are a couple other options- I’ve heard great things from the Norwex brand one too!

Click on the pictures below to check out some affordable fruit/veggie soak options

A great companion to a fruit/veggie soak is the Norwex Fruit/Veggie scrub mitt. I use just water and use this for apples, potatoes, and corn. It’s amazing how clean it gets some stubborn produce.

If DIYs are more your jam here are some homemade options:

Homemade Produce Spray

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the glass spray bottle
  2. Shake well
  3. Spray your produce- all it to sit for 10-15 minutes on the counter
  4. Rinse in cold water and prepare as usual

Homemade Produce Soak

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Fill your bowl with a ratio of 3:1 water to vinegar
  2. Add lemon essential oil or lemon juice
  3. Add your fruits or vegetables to the bowl (be careful to not overflow it)
  4. Allow your produce to soak for 10-15 minutes
  5. Using a strainer rinse your produce well in cold water

If you’re wondering if you should give a fruit/veggie soak a try…. go back up and check out those pictures! It is worth the extra few minutes in your Sunday routine, I swear!

Still not convinced?? Check out this side by side comparison in the video of broccoli soaked in water vs. Thieves produce soak

What other things do you like to do on Sundays that help your week run smoother? Tell me below!

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What does a SAHM really do all day?

I have to be super honest that before I became a SAHM (stay at home mom) I had 0 insight to what they do all day. I always thought they had it made. SIGN ME UP for netflix and playin with babies all day! A reality check was in store for me…

I did not read much about SAHM days before I became one because I didn’t want to have set expectations in my head for what our day’s would look like. I honesty thought I was going to fail and be ready to go back to work because this was never a dream of mine. But through every messy day I would choose to be home with my girl again and again.

Here’s a peak at typical day for us

6:00am– try to get up 4 different times…. I aspire to become more productive in the mornings.

7:25am – Actually get up…. quickly rush to cut vinyl for all of my orders for the week.

7:45-8:45am– Work on my orders for the week (it takes a lot of intricate planning to do any sort of work at home with kids! I’m quickly finding out)

8:45am– Taylor is now awake- kicking the back of her crib wall with force and shouting. When I worked I had to wake her up at 6 am and she was miserable. She will typically sleep until at least 8:30.

9:00-10:00- Breakfast

  • Taylor watches Blippi (she is obsessed… and we watch entirely too much TV…judge away) in her booster while I make breakfast.
  • She hadn’t been feeling well so I made her bacon and eggs (Not a typical breakfast for us….typically its a waffle and fruit with yogurt)
  • Spoiler alert- she ate nothing! maybe one bite of bacon…glad I spent time making her a more elaborate breakfast.
  • Insert nutrigrain bar she crumbles into 1,000 pieces and raisins
  • While strapped into her chair I make coffee and empty the dishwasher (I cannot do this while she is running around…cause toddlers +knives and she goes for them EVERY TIME)
  • I went to the bathroom while she was eating…and came back to her having taken every.single. wipe out of the package that was next to her.
  • Make her a sandwich for lunch (PRO TIP from busy toddler!) on the days I remember to prep lunch at breakfast it saves me.

10:00-12:15 pm- Play Time/Chores/Leave the House- random catch-all time of day.

This time of day is always a little different depending on what we have going. Sometimes we play outside during this time, other days this is when we leave the house to run errands like Costco, Target, grocery store, bank etc. Take a gym class some days- gives me a nice childcare break too!

But on this particular day we didn’t leave the house (which is usually 2 days for us) Finally made myself a bagel thin. I NEVER understood how people forget to eat. Like how is that even possible?? I love to eat….well once you have someone who needs something constantly it is very very possible to forget to eat. But of course Taylor didn’t like her breakfast and needed mine. Share said bagel thin….

We play with toys…read all the books, she asks me to open everything from her makeup kit 16 times.

I half watch the friends re-runs playing in the background while trying to get some more work done (doesn’t happen. I will wait until nap time)

She LOVES to help me when I’m working

We have a playroom upstairs in our loft so we will typically split time between downstairs and upstairs depending on what chores I need to do.

Start a load of laundry

12-12:45 pm- Lunch

  • Taylor eats lunch for FOREVER…pretty sure she does this in an effort to stall nap time.
  • Meanwhile I snack on animal crackers….while she eats and I try to finish making 2 custom Starbucks cups while she eats
  • My mom calls to facetime….talks to me for the entire lunch. I get nothing done.
  • I clean her up and bribe her with her vitamin (she thinks its candy) to go upstairs for nap

Taylor goes down pretty well for naps. We hug, kiss, and rock a little and I tuck her in. Always melts my heart. She says “I love you” now and it’s the best thing in the whole wide world.

1:15-4:15- Nap Time

I LIVE for nap time. Sounds bad….but my kid is a strong sleeper and when she sleeps for less than 3 hours I feel cheated. As I type this our jerk of a dog is outside barking and if he wakes her up he’s finding a new home (I kid….maybe)

During nap time is when I

  • Shower (Some days….new sahm reality)
  • Workout
  • Work on orders/blog
  • chores like vacuum, put away clothes, laundry etc.
  • eat
  • catch up on shows/sometimes sleep

Everyday is a little different and I don’t usually accomplish what I set out to do for the day. I think thats a struggle for me from working. It was a lot easier for me to stick to my goals for the day at my job than it is at home. If Taylor is having a rough day a lot of my “goals” for the day just don’t happen and I have to try again tomorrow and that was a big change in expectations for myself. I finally stopped picking up the playroom at nap time because she literally makes it her goal in life to re-destroy it right when she wakes up.

4:00-6:00 pm- The longest 2 hours of our life.

OMG I dread this time of day waiting for my husband to get home. Taylor is a baby GRUMP (whyyyy would you be grumpy after sleeping 3 hours? inquiring minds want to know). We typically spend most of this time either outside now that the weather is getting nicer (cue swing meltdowns when it’s time to come inside) or watching a Disney movie and eating all the snacks.

I try and get dinner ready at this time too- usually when I turn to giving her snacks while she’s strapped into a booster with an IPAD because otherwise all the unsafe things happen.

I am the farthest person from a cook. Most days we eat take out or frozen pizza or pancakes…cause that’s who I am as a mom. On this particular Tuesday we ate Del Taco. No shame in this game….but seriously I do need to cook more in life for us to save money on our day to day bills to pay off my student loans, but that’s a post for another day.

6:00-8:00pm- Daddy’s Home!

We eat, watch tv, play together, usually one person cleans up the kitchen and downstairs while the other does bath/bedtime. Anyone else have a husband who retreats to the bedroom to poop and comes back 45 minutes later??? Like right in the middle of utter chaos downstairs? I always wonder to myself if this happens to other people.

8:00-10:00pm– My husband and I get downtime. Most days we spend it with each other watching tv, videos, talking, paying bills etc. On this particular day we were putting together an ikea table and pegboard in our master for my work area- I’ll share those pics in another post it turned out so cute!

10:00pm- My husband goes to bed- he typically gets up a 4 am. I am wide awake til all hours per usual….I go downstairs and made him a lunch, while I’m making him a lunch I really get ahead of myself and make Taylor a sandwich for the next day. I switched more laundry, finished the dishes and sat around doing who knows what on my phone for the next 2.5 hours.

12:30– Finally get in bed for the night.. to do it all over again tomorrow

So here you have it. Mom life is a tough. Whether you work or stay home (former teacher) I have experienced both, and both have their unique set of challenges. Is this similar to your typical SAHM day?? I’d love to know because this is just my experience. I am sure the day looks different with multiple kiddos too. I am just a parent to one 2 year old girl.

What is your best advice for other stay at home moms? What are some of your biggest challenges?

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Tax Season is in Full Swing!

Let’s talk taxes!! Tax season is in full swing! (We still haven’t sent ours in yet 🙈) quick disclaimer….I am not a tax professional and any content is strictly my own opinions.

People seem to think getting a big return back is the way to go, but it’s actually not.

The government is essentially taking your money interest free and then returning it… when you could have more month to month for your debt free journey, investments, savings, whatever it is.

We have always been big tax return people. Last year we got $11,000 back! 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 would I have loved to go to hawaii 🏝 with that money oh yes! But we were right in the middle of our debt free journey…busting our butts to get out of debt so I could quit my job that $11,000 went right to credit cards and finished paying off my husband’s car and OH.MY.GOD was that painful.

We have now adjusted withholdings per our accountant’s recommendations to not get a huge refund and maximize our month to month income for our budget, and I’m excited to see where we end up this year!

As sad as I am about knowing I won’t get some huge refund back…it takes SO much stress off of working with a much tighter budget knowing that we get more from my husband’s paychecks each month.

Dave Ramsey has a great article about taxes below! 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/tax-refund

He talks about where you can go to fill out a W-4 if you need to adjust your withholdings moving forward.

If you are getting a big tax return back, make a PLAN!! It’s your money! What will you do with it? Will you use it to really get your debt snowball rolling on your debt free journey? Tell me below! 👇🏻

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Pantry Makeover

This post contains affiliate links that I earn a very small commission off of at no cost to you.

So it seems like one of my goals every year is to get organized. As a teacher I was SO organized (give me all the perfect cute animal print labels and color coordinated bins that match my theme)! However…my house is a different story. We have a VERY small pantry- definitely not walk in, and it is my least favorite. Because our pantry is so small we do have some big pantry cabinets next to the fridge where I store overflow items but they would be way easier if the selves were pull out drawers (but that’s a project for another day/year)

Ripping off the bandaid here is the before picture…..

Mind you without organization my toddler goes in there (we do have a pantry lock that we forget to use A LOT) and pulls out white claws and pretends to drink them (parents of the year) We are also missing a bottom shelf that was damaged in a house flood we had last year. We just never replaced it and use it for bigger items.

I knew I wanted perfect Rae Dunn inspired labels (because who doesn’t??) I made all of the labels on my cricut using the font “The Skinny” which is a free download from dafont.com

Here’s how the tiniest pantry ever makeover went down:

  1. Measure the space to see how many white bins/canisters I needed
  2. Group food into categories for said bins
  3. Design labels and cut on my cricut machine
  4. Apply labels at 11 pm at night because you are determined to finish this project.
  5. Have to re-cut at least 3 labels…because you were tired and messed them up (story of my fricken life)
  6. Stand back and admire perfect pantry and hope it stays this way for at least a week!

Ready for the AFTER???

I got all the products for our pantry makeover from Ikea, but found similar products on amazon.

Click any of the pictures to check them out on Amazon

Happy Organizing!

& check in with me in a month…to see if it still looks like this (wishful thinking!)

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Montesorri Inspired Toys for Toddlers

This post contains affiliate links to products we use and love

Any other moms tired of the crazy amount of loud light up toys for their kids?? They do not keep my daughter’s attention for more than a minute or two and I felt like she wasn’t actually learning how to engage in play. My degree in Early Childhood Education taught me all about Maria Montesorri and her principles for manipulatives and play and I wanted to change up the way we were approaching play. For those of you not familiar with Montesorri, the Montessori Method is a child-centered approach to education and development that embraces hands-on, multi-sensory activities that kids can engage in at their own pace. Some key Montesorri toy guidelines are as follows:

  • Natural materials
  • No bells and whistles
  • Realistic play items
  • One-task learning toys
  • Toys with a purpose
  • Only a few choices at a time

Now don’t get me wrong….we do NOT only follow Montesorri in our house. My 2 year old watches entirely too much TV and still takes out way more than 1 thing at a time…and I am far from the perfect early childhood education mom, but I wanted to gradually introduce less electronic toys and see how it would impact her play because I know all the benefits of this type of approach. Busy toddler (one of my favorite pages ever) frequently discusses the concept of “independent play” so providing more open ended non-electronic toys that focus on exploring through senses has really helped my daughter to gain more focus and extend her independent play time.

I’m going to highlight some of our current favorite Montesorri inspired toys. I say inspired because to be a true “Montesorri Manipulative” there are a TON of guidelines that most of these do not meet, but again my goal here was less electronics…more free exploration and independent play.

Montesorri inspired toys we love

  1. All the wooden puzzles. You cannot go wrong with any of these. We love all things Melissa and Doug and these latch puzzles are no exception! Taylor has been working really hard on an chunky number and alphabet puzzles. Click on any of the puzzles below to check them out.

2. Learning Tower– This toddler safe counter height stool is AMAZING! Montesorri principles really encourage independence through self care and involvement in daily tasks. This stool lets my toddler feel involved in what I am doing and allows me to provide her with hands on tasks that she loves! It is recommended for ages 18 months and up, as they need to be able to safely stand up there on their own (There is a safety bar, and my toddler gets herself up and down with ease) Our learning tower is from a local shop called @littlehelperstools on instagram but there is a similar one on Amazon right here https://amzn.to/37ir98E

3. Rainbow shape stacker– we’ve been practicing lots of counting with this!

4. Counting bears with silicone cups– Taylor has learned all of her colors and will sit forever and engage with these bears and sort them by color. It is so fun to watch!

5. Melissa and Doug pounding bench. This has not been Taylor’s favorite just yet which surprised me because she loves to pound things, but I am intrigued to see what she does with it with continued exposure.

Realistic play items we love

  1. Wooden Play Kitchen + Accessories– how fun is this? I may be biased but this is the cutest chef ever.

2. Dyson Vacuum– She LOVES to vacuum especially when she sees me cleaning.

3. Melissa and Doug Cleaning Kit– perfect for all the little helpers in your life

Things on our wish list for Taylor’s 2nd Birthday

  1. Wooden blocks– Can you really ever go wrong with these?? A million possibilities. These are NOT Melissa and Doug brand because ($$$$) so these are a great cheaper alternative- very much true Montesorri.

2. These number pegs really intrigue me! My toddler is all about counting these days and these look to be really interesting- and very much Montesorri

3. This simple peg board with carrying bag will really lead to an endless amount of activities

4. A Color matching wooden bee toy– How great is this for fine motor skills?? Taylor will love this

As we get into reading I am really excited to try this phonics word builder– which would’ve also been great for when I taught kinder and first grade.

Some great Montesorri inspired options for younger kiddos

  1. Infant shape sorter- great for kids of all ages

2. I belong to a great Montessori group on facebook where other moms share their ideas and resources. This is hand made by a mama in that group! How cool are these??

These amazing hand made color sorting toys can be found on Etsy!

3. To avoid choking hazards for small babes check out this larger color sorting set

4. While younger babies can certainly use the wooden blocks these colorful blocks with animals are a great option as well for some extra fun!

I hope you found some great ideas to try at home with your littles! Please share with me any activities you love to do at home or if you have tried any of these products.

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Let’s Talk 2020 Budgets…

Any Dave Ramsey followers? my husband and I took his Financial Peace University class about 3.5 years ago and have since currently paid off over 90k in debt 😱 I’ve recently become a SAHM (stay at home mom) to my almost 2 year old daughter and have really needed to reel in my spending and get a handle on the budget (meaning stop having the amazon truck show up at our house everyday 🙈) now that we are on just 1 income. One tool that helps us immensely is the cash envelope system. It’s certainly not rocket science…. you determine budget amounts for each category and pull that money out in CASH 💰. For me the term ”realistic” was huge because I so easily got discouraged when trying to budget. I tracked expenses in our over spending categories like eating out and amazon/target for months before I found the sweet spot for us. We eat out a LOT…and I say a lot because you guys, we were spending $900-$1,000/month eating out 😱 I’m telling you, ADD IT UP! It will blow your mind.

Check out these gorgeous cash envelopes!

The sweet spot right now for categories for us is as follows:

  • Eating out:$400/month (still a daily challenge, I hate cooking) but aiming for only 2 meals out a week at $50 each
  • Household: $200/month(all the Costco, Target, amazon things
  • Groceries: $360/month (I’m getting good at shopping ads!) we are a family of 3.
  • Gas: $360/month (my husband drives 42 miles to work each way 🤦🏼‍♀️) this is estimated high and I actually just save receipts to track this versus cash because I don’t want to have to go inside with a toddler (moms you get this)

I for one find that I can hold myself much more accountable if I have physical cash versus my debit card. I’ve been busy making budget envelopes for a lot of families in my neighborhood (on my awesome cricut, from the best husband!) and I hope that simply starting the budget conversation can help others who are living in debt. The ONLY reason I am able to stay at home now is because I got on board with my husband‘s desire to get out of debt. We are still on baby step 2 ( Dave Ramsey lingo for paying off debt) but crushed 60k in credit cards so I could quit my job and stay home with my girl.

If you are interested in purchasing a cash envelope set they are custom orders, because every family has different needs visit our Facebook shop today!

The Catch-all Mama Facebook Shop

Do you have a budget plan that works for your family?? Please share it with me below #familybudgets#financialpeaceuniversity#daveramsey#cashenvelopesystem

Learn more about our budget by checking out our

BUDGET BREAKDOWN page

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A catch-all of thoughts…

“It’s no wonder so many mothers send me notes telling me they’ve lost themselves. Of course they have! If you live your life to please everyone else, you forget what used to make you you.”

― Rachel Hollis

Welcome to the Catch- All Mama blog! I am so thankful you are here. Join me as I navigate through life being a wife, mama, daughter, sister, friend. I promise it will be messy, but real fun too!

Still a rookie mom…my sweet babe is only turning 2. Pretty sure I will consider myself a rookie until she is at least 16. This community of mamas is unlike I have ever seen before. We are constantly striving for more. To be better moms, friends, wives, nothing ever seems to be enough. We manage massive to do lists, activities, Pinterest perfect parties all while still feeling isolated and burnt out most days. Just know you are not alone. I see you. I feel you. I am you. Let this be a place where you can relate, have a laugh at my expense, or just feel heard.

XOXO Your friend in all of this,

Sam

Some Misconceptions I had About Becoming a SAHM

This stay at home mom gig has been the hardest job i’ve ever done…and this is coming from someone who has taught 31 first graders (yes, really 31).

1. That I would be bored

My days fly by trying to keep a 2 year old entertained. Just trying to get everything packed up to get out of the house seems to take forever. I find myself constantly racing the clock to fit in everything I need to do each day around meals and nap time. Except for the hours between 3:30-5:30…time literally stands still. When I first started staying home I massively over scheduled us with baby classes, gym classes and plans with other moms because I was so afraid to be bored. Now I am really finding value in the days we do stay home and lounge because my kid needs the downtime too.

2. That I would relax when she sleeps

I maybe do this 1% of the time…. and in 2020 i’ve got some goals to sleep more (clearly I’m setting the bar high) SAHM life has caused me to keep some odd hours. As a teacher I was super scheduled and got up at 4:30 am every morning, but in this new we don’t actually HAVE to go anywhere if we don’t want to life I end up staying up til 1-2 am and not getting up until Taylor wakes up around 8:00 am. I thought I would spend every nap time sipping coffee under a perfect chunky blanket binging Netflix (ya know living my best mom life) BUT in reality I am actually trying to shower, pee, sometimes workout, shove a bagel thin down my throat and figure out what I’m making for dinner and typically by the time I start picking up her toys I hear her wake-up and we start life all over again…. Let’s bring back relaxing in 2020, who’s with me??

3. I would brunch with my perfect group of mom friends

Now this one sounds stupid….but who doesn’t love a good brunch?? But this one is actually probably the hardest for me because meeting mom friends is hard and i’ve gone through my fair share of them…because spoiler alert, you won’t click with every mom you meet and your kid will probably shove their kid down at the park at least once or twice. SAHM life is lonely. I was lucky enough in my teaching career to have really made some great co-worker friends while we were all in the trenches together. But then you leave your job, and suddenly the people you saw everyday are gone and it is isolating.

I have been really blessed to join MOPS this year at one of our local churches and have met some really awesome women there. My group typically meets every other Thursday for 2 hours..the kids goes to childcare and we moms spend time eating, connecting, playing games, and making crafts and it is seriously the BEST time. MOPS is an international organization, so if you are feeling like you need to get out and meet some people this is great place to start to find a group in your area. I also joined a gym that has childcare so a few days a week I drop Taylor off and go take classes. When I first started I spent my whole workout class stressed that they were going to come get me because my kids was screaming, but the more I went the quicker that feeling went away. Now she goes running towards the bubble machine and slide, and I get an hour to work on myself. It is really special protected time for me and I’ve met some awesome women while going (bonus…I’m down almost 50 lbs!)

I don’t think this is an area for me that is going to get any easier over time. All of us moms are just trying to juggle the 57 tasks we have going that keeping plans with other mom friends isn’t at the top of our priority lists. So I try to find outlets within social media and texting friends throughout the day, but it is HARD. If you are feeling alone in this mom life…you aren’t the only one.

4. That I would instantly become a better wife

This one is actually really hard for me to write about. When I was a full time teacher last year with an infant I made a LOT of excuses for everything I didn’t do around the house or for our marriage. I would tell myself oh when I stay home i’ll always do the trash, or the dishes, or our house will never look like this when I stay home. I’ll make sure I make his lunch and do all I can to make his life easier because I won’t be working…that will be my job now. I was really really really wrong. I’m only 8 months into this new SAHM gig, but I am really hard on myself. I never feel like I am doing enough (totally on me, not from my husband at all) I feel like if I am not teaching I should be thriving. If I could teach 31 kids and take care of my infant at home, why can’t I cook and keep my house clean now that I don’t work?? Because staying at home is a JOB. A really fricken hard one. She needs something every minute of everyday, and your needs as a person get put on the back burner. It truly is a successful day if we managed meltdowns and had some fun. I have had to lower a lot of my expectations because I am my own worst critic. I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but you are doing a REALLY GREAT job and people around you do notice.

5. That I wouldn’t enjoy not working

I am a workaholic, hustler in life. Before having my daughter I put in a TON of hours at work because I could. I was constantly figuring out ways to get better and do more things at my job. I cannot tell you how many people said to me, oh you’ll be ready to come back to work after a year of being at home…and you know what, I was genuinely scared of this.

I am happy to say I wouldn’t trade staying at home for the world. The connections I have made with my daughter are unreal, and I tell myself everyday that I am so lucky to have this time with her. We literally have the best time together and we are both happier people because of it. Staying at home has really had a positive impact on my marriage because my husband can now work overtime hours as he needs to without the stress of who is picking up the baby, or staying home with her when she is sick. I still really miss making my own money, but we worked SO hard to pay off debt so that I could stay home and I still have some great side gigs that bring me joy. I don’t regret one minute of this decision to stay home.

If you are embarking on this new SAHM journey or are on the fence about becoming one, or you long to be a SAHM, but don’t think you can swing it financially.. you can do hard things. You can have anything you want in life. Just make a plan. I NEVER thought I wanted this in life. EVER. I have 2 older sisters both with kids, but have very lucrative careers..very different from my current goals in life. We were spinning our wheels paying out $1200 in minimum debt payments each month (Check out my BUDGET BREAKDOWN) but as soon as I had my daughter a switch flipped and I had to do everything in my power to stay home. No matter what your choices are in life, YOU get to choose them.