Let your child get bored

In a world that is so fast-paced, we need to let our children become bored from time to time! Boredom actually allows the brain to recover from the overstimulated world that we live in.

So many parents think that it’s their responsibility to fill every moment of their child’s time with activities, extracurriculars or screens. We all know how it feels to see the moms on social media doing ALL the things— crafts, field trips, baking, sports, dance and so on. I’ve been there finding myself wondering, “am I doing enough?” And that’s one of the best parts about embracing and encouraging this unstructured time— no more guilt! We can let that go because boredom is actually GOOD for them!

Being bored teaches us that life isn’t all rainbows and fireworks because as adults, we all know know that IT IS NOT.

Unstructured down time encourages creativity, independent thinking, and problem solving skills. Allowing that open ended time gives our children the opportunity to explore their inner selves and the world around them, diving deep into their interests and discovering their unique skills and passions! We aren’t nurturing them by giving them a toy that makes all of the noise for them or plopping them in front of the TV OR keeping them so busy that they don’t get to spend any time with themselves.

When a child is bored, it allows their minds to wander. As stated above, it’s not our jobs to entertain our kids but rather give them tools to be imaginative and creative. If we spend our time filling up our children’s spare time, they’ll never learn to do it for themselves. Boredom is good for the brain!

“I think it’s necessary to let kids get bored once in a while— that’s how they learn to be creative.” – Kim Raver

Do you let your kid(s) get bored?

xxoo Kate

How to afford wooden toys on a budget

I’m cheap. I love a good deal. I hate spending a ton of money if I don’t have to. If you’re like me, keep reading… Here’s what I do to afford our wooden toys—

Sell things you no longer want or need.

I often sell random things around the house to fund the toys we want. I’ve been on a semi-minimalist journey for a few years now and it feels so good to get rid of clutter and unused toys from around the house. In return, we can afford those special pieces we’ve been wanting. Utilize Facebook marketplace, BST (buy sell trade) pages, Craigslist, Poshmark, Mercari, whatever works best for you. Another thing to note is that these toys hold their value. Most of the time, if you sell in the right place, you can get back what you paid if not more depending on the item.

*If you’re new to Mercari, here’s a discount for you: click here!

Shop second hand.

As stated above, wooden toys really hold their value so it’s not often that you can get a huge steal, but it happens from time to time. Keep your eyes out on all of the pages mentioned above and you just might find a needle in the haystack! This has happened with us several times so be persistent, it does happen!

Go thrifting.

You don’t need the name brands when it comes to wooden toys. Wooden blocks are wooden blocks and they’re amazing either way! And sometimes, you do find the sought after brands. I come from a small town and I remember thinking “eh, I’ll never find anything like that here” but I was so wrong! One time I found a small set of blocks with different rainbow shakers inside of them and when I looked them up, they were worth over $55 and I got them for $1.49. I’m not trying to sit here and brag about my finds, I’m simply stating that it makes it THAT much more rewarding and exciting when you do happen upon something. Again, keep your eyes out at all times.

A cute toy car I found for $2.49
A cute toy car I found for $2.49

Get crafty.

You don’t need to be super crafty to do some of these things!

Make some peg dolls, they’re super easy and can be purchased for a very fair price. Add some paint and wa-la! I made these rainbow peg dolls for my youngest daughter as a first try and they were really fun. I’m excited to make more and get even more detailed!

Items for purchase: peg dolls, paint markers, paints

Things like these would also be super easy to make too! Volcanoes, houses, wooden rings (purchase here) etc. (pictures below are not mine, used for reference).

Make a list give it out on special occasions.

Many of us know what it’s like to hear “what does little Benny want for his birthday?” And then panic sets in because you can’t think of anything in that moment. If you don’t have present family/friends in your life, the above options are very effective! However if you do, I encourage you to keep an ongoing list of “wants” available for times like these! You could even ask that loved ones go in on a gift together because some can be quite expensive! Encourage them to keep their eyes out for certain things throughout the year because the more people searching for you, the better!

Don’t know what the wooden toy hype is all about? I break it all down for you here!

Those are my tips on how to acquire wooden toys on a budget! Do you have anything to add? Please leave your ideas down in the comments!

xxoo Kate

Wooden toys, what’s the hype?

First I want to start off by saying— The influencers that speak about wooden toys like it ain’t no thaaang to acquire them, are speaking from a place of privilege. To most people, the price points are quite shocking. I’ve been there. Like why on earth are we out here buying $100+ rainbows?! There’s so much more to it, so let me explain.

Quality over quantity.

Yes, that price at first is like *mini heart attack* however, most people investing in wooden toys know that it’s because they want quality goods. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t? Many people will choose to buy ONE big set of wooden building blocks vs five plastic-flashy-noisy-toys. The plastic-flashy-noisy toys will not last as long because there are way more moving parts, pieces, lights, etc. that can break or malfunction. (I’d love to touch more on the value of open ended play later on if you’re interested).

They’re open ended.

Oskars Wooden Ark does a good job at describing what opened ended play is- Open-ended play can be described as play that has no pre-determined limitations and no fixed answer – children simply follow their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their creativity takes them. As there are no set outcomes, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with open-ended play. Read more here.

Many plastic-flashy-noisy toys do not allow for this as they do the thinking for the child. For example, a toy truck that makes noises and flashes its lights, does not allow for the child to think for themselves by making the “beep beep” or “vroom” noises or simply imagining the lights. The imagination doesn’t have to work quite as hard. Working our children’s imagination is IMPORTANT because play, IS a child’s work. Wooden blocks are one of the best things you can purchase for your child. The possibilities are endless.

Better for the environment.

For a lot of people, the environmental factor is a huge reason they choose the wooden route. It seems like just more recently I’ve noticed a lot of anti-plastic movements and it’s great. I love that for the environment. Do we personally own plastic toys? Here and there, yes, but we are more conscious of it and I think it’s something everyone should be aware of.

Plastic toys account for 90% of the toy market. On average, the plastic toys are only played with for 6 months. Plastic toys have a shorter lifespan and they’re rarely recycled. It’s not often that a toy actually qualifies for recycling because they’re frequently made with other metals. You know what that means… they find themselves in a landfill. In 2014 Americans generated 33 million tons of plastic. We’ve got to do better.

Healthier for your family.

The health effects of the chemicals used in plastic toys are not fully known. One common chemical used is phthalates. Phthalates are known to cause birth defects and cancer. And don’t get me started on the toys made overseas. Those are even less regulated and many have been shown to contain lead, yes lead! Children are of course at higher risk of being exposed to these chemicals because toys commonly make their way to the mouth.

Fund a neighbor, not a large corporation

Many wooden toys can be purchased from small shops, Etsy, craft shows, local co ops, thrifted etc. I’m sure you’d agree that you’d like your money to go into a neighbor’s pocket rather than one of a big corporation’s overflowing money bags.

*Please don’t be shy about asking seller’s if they’re CPSC compliant. In 2008 Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) – this act states that all manufacturers must pay a qualified lab to test and certify any product intended for children (otherwise known as a “third party test”) and label all relevant products accurately in case of a recall. Read more here.

Can be used as heirloom toys.

Wooden toys last! Heirloom toys are toys that can be passed down from generation to generation and they function just as wonderfully as they did in the past. They’re used as a special keepsake to be given to grandchildren one day!

Cult Facebook pages, not necessary, not recommended.

Don’t join the cult-like Facebook groups unless you’ve got a seriously strong willpower to resist the social pressure and pandemonium. I’ve joined a couple myself and people go CRAZY over new releases, buying and reselling, having the newest and most sought after pieces. I’m not kidding, people are in there forking over thousands of dollars. DON’T DO IT.

So as you can see, purchasing/acquiring wooden toys is done for many different reasons, all of which are pretty good if you ask me. If you’re wondering how you can buy wooden toys on a tight budget, click here!

Also coming soon- popular and loved wooden toy brands, our favorites and more! If Amazon is more your speed, click here to explore some of the toys we adore!

xxoo Kate

10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

Sometimes it can be so hard to get children to drink water. I think it’s safe to say that most kids lean towards the sugary drinks if given the option, but that’s not a very healthy habit to form. Things like juice or some chocolate cashew milk (my children’s fave) is fine here and there but what about the water?! Here are some fun ideas to get them drinking that H2O.

  1. Make it a game. Sometimes we all sit down at the table and have a chugging contest to see who can drink their water the fastest. My kids are really competitive with odd things like this so they are always excited when they “win”!
  2. Add fruit. Adding fruit whether it be lemons or strawberries makes it so much yummier! These stainless steel tea infusers are fun for the kids to dangle in their own cups. There are also water bottles that have infusers built in like this one. OR- just toss the chunks in.
  3. Offer a reward. Sometimes a chocolate chip goes a long way. “Finish that water and I’ll sneak you a choco-chip”—Works like a charm.
  4. Have them eat ice chips. I don’t know what it is about ice, but my kids could munch on ice chips all day. If you don’t have a built in ice maker, these portable ice makers are pretty cool!
  5. Add a dash of juice. I know we try to avoid the sugar but if it gets them to drink a whole glass of 99.9% water, the trade-off is worth it in my book. My kids love when I add a dash of apple juice.
  6. Put it in a fun cup. Sometimes putting water it in a water bottle or fancy glass makes it more fun to drink! My kids seem to carry it around with them and sip on it all day.
  7. Set a good example. Sometimes I exaggerate when I’m drinking water like, “MMM, this water is SOOOO good. I just love water. Water is the best.” It becomes a bit more appealing because they seem to want whatever I have these days.
  8. Explain to them why our body needs it. I have one kid who needs to know ALL the whys! Often times, if I just give her the reminder that our bodies need it to function, that’s enough. Disclaimer- This will likely not work on feral children. I know this from experience.
  9. Give them a straw. Straws just make things easier to drink, am I right? Even I find it easier to drink when I have a straw. We love these stainless steel ones!
  10. Make popsicles. Freeze water with chunks of fruit in a popsicle mold. These are the best to hand your kids when they’re outside playing. These molds work so well, and there are even baby sized ones!!  

I hope you’re able to try out some of these ideas and best of luck to you my friends!

xxoo Kate

How to sterilize a Wubbanub pacifier

Maybe it’s allergies, maybe it’s a little cold but everyone in our house has been a little stuffy lately. With a new baby I’m on high alert because my daughters are obsessed with giving their new sister kisses… aka, smothering their little sister’s face with their wet mouths and runny noses. No thanks!

I’ve been pretty good about having them kiss the top of her head, or not at all but one thing I can’t seem to keep track of are her pacifiers! My toddler always seems to find them and proudly bring them to us after she’s tested them out herself.

It was all fine until Winter got ahold of Olive’s Wubbanub. If you don’t know what a Wubbanub is, it’s a pacifier that’s attached to a little cozy animal.

I was like great… the puppy doesn’t detach so how in the world am I supposed to sterilize this now?!

I did not like suggestions that the Google offered such as soaking it in soapy water, using a sanitizing wipe, and even running it through the washing machine using a “baby” detergent. I didn’t want to use anything that involved chemicals so those were no-go’s for me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered this so let me share with you how to sanitize them, chemical-free!

All you need to do is boil a pot of water on your stove, dangle the pacifier in the boiling water for 5 minutes, let it dry and wala, that’s it! Just do your best to hold it out of the way of the steam because ouch! You’re welcome!

xxoo Kate

Our third baby is here!

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We had our baby!!! — Three weeks ago…

I’m sorry guys but finding time to blog while managing two toddlers and a newborn while averaging 1.5-2 hours of sleep per night, nope, not happening. Well until now that is!

Here’s the story of our third baby’s birth—

I was 38 weeks pregnant. The longest I had ever carried a baby! It was just after 10pm and I was going to the bathroom before bed. I had been “leaky” for a couple of weeks but that’s to be expected towards the end of pregnancy so I brushed it off. The doctors didn’t seem concerned either when I mentioned my symptoms at my appointments so we never investigated further. However, in that particular moment, the leaking was quite excessive.

Rather than feel excited, I felt so defeated. Deep down I knew I needed to go in to the doctor’s office but I was SO tired. If you didn’t already know this, you can’t sleep towards the end of pregnancy because your body hurts so badly, you have to pee all night or the baby kicks you incessantly. At least that has been my experience. The control freak in me wasn’t ready. I wasn’t emotionally prepared. I kept thinking “any other day, even tomorrow morning, I’m just so tired right now.” 

Well we all know that having a baby doesn’t work like that. They come when they are ready, when GOD is ready, not when you decide it’s time.

I strolled casually into the bedroom where my husband laid waiting for me. “I’m gonna head to the doctor’s..” I said. He perked up and insisted that he wanted to come. I convinced him into staying home much against his wishes, because our kiddos were sound asleep and if it was a false alarm I didn’t want everyone to be rushing around trying to accommodate for nothing.

On my way to the hospital I called my mom to vent (as I often do when I have even the slightest inconvenience).  I told her about how I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind and I wanted to get some rest. She offered to come with me so I scooped her up on my way. It was a nice arrangement because if it was indeed amniotic fluid, she could run to our house to stay with the kids so TJ could join me at the hospital.

The nurse ran the test and low and behold, a faint line popped up. Just like a pregnancy test, whether the line is faint or not, it was positive! 

It was time to be admitted. My face in the photo below says it all.

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I started to feel a little anxious but I deep-breathed the fear away and quickly accepted that it was “time”. I spent the next hour emotionally preparing myself for labor and praying to the good Lord above! 

My husband and mom swapped places and though I tested positive for amniotic fluid, I was not in labor. I started to get excited jitters but I was still exhausted to I attempted to take a nap before the contractions commenced.

Unfortunately they didn’t start so they decided it was time for Pitocin. I was NOT a happy camper. Why you might ask? It intensifies the pain SO much. I didn’t want an induction.

Finally, after several hours of them coming in every half hour to up my dosage, I started to feel my contractions.

I was fairly determined to do a natural birth this time around but the pain became so unbearable that I opted for an epidural. Which is something I would’ve never even considered in the beginning. They called the on-call anesthesiologist and informed me that he was on his way. In all honesty it would’ve been at least another half hour before he could’ve gotten to me.

Well no wonder that pain was so intense, within two minutes of them telling me he was on his way to the hospital, my water officially broke and I informed them I needed to push!  It happened so fast. The doctor was called in as my body was already pushing her out on its own. My mom came over to my left and my husband took position up towards my head. He held my hand, prayed and encouraged me.

I pushed 3-5 times… movie-style screaming. In that brief moment, the pain was so intense but in just an instant she was on my chest and it was the biggest relief I have ever felt. The pain, just gone and my heart so full.

I’m so proud of my body. Birthing naturally was the most empowering thing I’ve ever experienced. I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing.

Welcome baby!

xxoo Kate

Hospital Bag For Labor and Delivery

If you’d rather watch the video click here.

The following items are not all necessities. I’ve given birth twice already with no bags packed due to my water breaking early so we were extremely unprepared. With my first, my husband ran back home and threw some things together. With my second, we were cramming things in a bag and heading out the door (and it’s a good thing because I showed up to the hospital dilated to a 7)!

If you showed up to the hospital with nothing, you would be just fine, however, the belongings I’ve listed below make things much more comfortable, at least for me.

  • Wallet, Insurance card and photo ID: It just helps everyone out and you never know if your husband is going to need some dolla bills for the vending machine! If you have a will or advanced directives, include that too!
  • Robe: You could pick a cute one for photos and/or visitors or a fuzzy one for comfort. I’m going with my old fuzzy one.
  • Snacks: I will be sneaking a snack because let me tell you, soup broth, jello, and ice chips do NOT cut it. These Clif bars will be in my husband’s bag as well.

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  • Blanket: I’d prefer my own blanket over a bleachy hospital one any day!
  • Body pillow: Because I cannot WAIT to snuggle it while sleeping on my stomach like I was able to do pre-pregnancy!
  • Fuzzy Socks: I just like being comfortable, okay!? I prefer fuzzy socks to slippers which a lot of people like to pack.
  • Birth Plan: It’s always nice to have an “ideal” birth plan laid out ahead of time. You never know what’s going to happen. Here is mine.
  • Tea: Laugh all you want but tea makes me happy and calms me… therefore, it made the cut. Here is the kind I’m bringing along.

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  • Oil Diffuser + Oils: Not all hospitals allow this but I absolutely love a familiar smell in the air while I’m in labor. Once again, a comfort thing. Here are some of my favorite oils.

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  • Hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair ties, make-up: Chances are, I won’t even use my makeup but it’s nice to have on hand just in case. My hubs and I are due for new toothbrushes anyways so we are packing our favorites from BambooRoots. And of course, my favorite anise flavored toothpaste from Dr. Bronner’s!

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  • Reusable nursing pads: My favorites are from Kindred Bravely and they’re much better on the nips than disposables.

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  • Pump Bag: I’ve had to start pumping almost immediately to stimulate my milk to come in with my past two births because my babies were taken straight to the NICU. I love this bag from Sarah Wells and the convenience of all the little compartments!

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  • Nursing bra: I love my Ollie Gray bra because it’s comfortable and extremely easy-access if you’re planning on nursing your little one.

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  • Long charger: It’s just always nice to have on hand.
  • Cloth pads: Don’t get me wrong, I love the coverage of the mesh undies that the hospital provides but I love the healthy fabrics used in my cloth pads even more. I’m bringing some from FemmeCloths on Etsy!

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  • Shampoo + Body wash + Deodorant: You know, for when you’re ready to attempt to smell nice.

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  • Heating pad: When your uterus is shrinking back to size, this is a life saver. I remember thinking I was dying after I had my first baby because I didn’t realize you had contractions AFTER labor as well.
  • Natural gum: It’s just nice to have something to chew on, during or after labor. Some of my favorites are Pur, Tree Hugger bubble gum, and Glee Gum.

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  • Glass Water Bottle: Helping the planet one bottle at a time. I’m bringing my pretty purple one from The Life Factory!
  • Hand Sanitizer: Dr. Bronner’s makes a really gentle, yummy smelling one!

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  • Prenatal vitamins: It’s important to keep taking your prenatal or a post-natal vitamins after birth as well! I have used RainbowLight my entire pregnancy and plan to continue after birth because I love them!
  • Thayer’s Witch Hazel: I have a slight obsession with witch hazel and this kind just so happens to be my favorite. It’s great for hemorrhoids and healing in general. You can add into your postpartum spray bottle (which is probably my favorite thing ever).

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  • Clothes: This is kind of a given. Pack things that are comfortable, this isn’t a fashion show. Two pieces I’m for-sure including are my nursing nightgown from The Savi Mom and my Blanqi leggings to wear home because they’ll suck everything in and that support after a baby is exceptional!

Obviously everyone’s hospital bags will be tailored to them but hopefully I’ve offered you some fun ideas you may not have thought about yet. Best of luck ladies!

xxoo Kate