Product Review: GentleGiants Co. Muslin Blanket

C is a blanket baby. He has snuggled with the same blanket since the day he was born and absolutely will not sleep without it. It’s cute and annoying at the same time. God forbid this thing has to go in the washing machine and isn’t dry by the time he needs to take a nap; it’s like World War 3 broke out. I’ve tried tricking him with other blue blankets with no avail. So for that reason, I am going to leave out C’s feelings for the blanket in order to make things a little more fair.

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Muslin is the “in” thing nowadays. GentleGiants Co. was nice enough to send us their muslin blanket to test out. Cutting straight to the chase the blanket is huge, fairly thin, white, but reasonably priced for the type of blanket it is.

The blanket is huge! It stretched out to almost 4ftx4ft. This makes it very versatile but not very transportable. I typically carry C’s blanket in my backpack diaper bag when we are out, and found that this blanket, even rolled up or folded, took up over 1/2 of the bag. At home, it was great… on the go, not so much.

The blanket is advertised as being 4-layers thick, but I have to say it does not seem that way at all. It is very, very thin and I was able to separate the fabric into 2 separate layers, not 4. I expected a little more thickness out of the blanket, but it would definitely be good for covering up while breastfeeding, covering a carseat or stroller or as a “safe” area while non-mobile babies during tummy-time.

I wasn’t impressed with the color. Now don’t get me wrong, the elephants are adorable and I love the unisex-ish colors and their cute little patterned ears but I don’t think white was a wise choice. I also, however, despise everything white when it comes to the kiddos, so take my opinion on the color lightly.

Price wise you’re looking at $24.99, over $30.00 with standard shipping. Compared to other muslin blankets I found that this is the median price for this size of a patterned muslin blanket.

The blanket itself is of good quality. After a washing, the edges stayed in tact and there are no holes or tears in the blanket. I was quite impressed due to how thin the fabric is. Oh, and it gets even softer after each washing.

I would rate a 4 out of 5 stars. I was expecting something a little thicker, and I would change the white to something that would conceal stains a little more.

-Kirstyn

 

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

 

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Product Review: The Story Box


The Story Box is a monthly book subscription that delivers new, age appropriate books to your doorstep every month…

Holly and her husband Clint, of The Story Box, were kind enough to send a free box to C for review. Holly is a speech-language pathologist and reading is a very important part of her life and job. However, as parents, reading with our children not only gives a boost to the learning process but it also allows for some bonding time.

Holly and Clint also use a portion of each subscription fee ($21.99) to donate books or other materials to benefit at-risk children or children with literacy disorders.

So  I…or should I say C, received this awesome little box and he loved it! The box contained 2 books (1 paperback and 1 hardback) and a handy-dandy parents guide. He loved the books! (He begged me to let him take “his cow book” to Sam’s Club on Tuesday.)


Downfalls are few and far between, because face it, it’s a box…of books…how could you not love it? However, what I didn’t love was the paper-ziggy-zag-frilly-makes-more-of-a-mess-than-it-is-worth confetti in the bottom of the box. Definitely not conducive to a 2.5 year old. I also wasn’t thrilled with the box design itself. I honestly expected to see brighter colors or more design to the box to intrigue children or get them excited from the start, essentially it get’s thrown away so it’s not a terribly big deal, but C wasn’t even interested in the box initially.

On top of donating books to those in need, The Story Box was kind enough to offer a coupon to all of our BurritoBuzz followers! When you subscribe use coupon code BURRITOBUZZ for $10 off! This coupon will be good on December 20th, 2015 and, like most, cannot be combined with any other offers and cannot be used by the same individual more than once.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 and I will sneak in an extra star for giving back to the community!

-Kirstyn

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Product Review: Imaginarium Mountain Rock Train Table


Let me start off by saying that if you don’t have 3-4 hours of your life to put together a train table, then this isn’t the one for you. However, if you can find a few hours, which I’m sure you can, it is well worth the time (and money) spent.

We bought the Imaginarium Mountain Rock Train Table for C last Christmas on sale, but for the quality, I would absolutely have paid the full price of $149.99.

The table itself is quite heavy, made of real wood, sturdy with a storage drawer. What I like about this is after the “train phase22711866-imaginarium-mountain-rock-train-table-05_updates” is up, the bottom platform flips over to a plain green so the table can be utilized for something other than trains. (We plan on attaching Lego boards to it and turning it into a Lego table).

The track itself and all of the components are of great quality as well. I was worried at first that C would end up breaking some of the moving parts (the working crane, doors, and destination board) but honestly they’ve he0ld up fantastic. The crane spins around, has a magnetic piece on the end to “pick up the cargo” and is able to be raised and lowered. There is also a bridge that makes train sounds as the trains are pushed across it. C loves making the trains say “choo choo” and gets extremely excited about the flashing lights. maxresdefault

So included with the train table is “eight trains, two vehicles, three traffic signs, a fueling station, five cargo bundles, four street lights, five wooden figures, four rock trestles, two viaducts, four trees, a crossing gate, two trestles, two construction zone cones, four rocks and over 55 pieces of wooden track and accessories”. There is A LOT of pieces. Almost too many. We bought this for C when he was right around 2 years old knowing that the recommended age is 3. C has always been ahead of the learning curve so I figured why not?  I kept a lot of the pieces put up initially as no one in their right mind would give a child this many items. Over the past year, C has free choosing of what pieces of his train table he would like to play with. However, I still have a huge problem with the “two construction cones” and the “four rocks”.  

 C has never been one to put things in his mouth however, I feel that even for a 3 year old (the recommended age) these pieces are far too small.  If a child would happen to put these in their mouth, they would surely choke. The rocks are roughly 1″ in diameter and honestly, they scare the heck out of me! I can safely say that they will be going in the trash. The traffic cones are on the smaller side as well (about the same size as the rock) so for safety, I put those up as well.

Another thing I like about this train table is that it is compatible with Thomas the Train, Chuggington, and Brio trains. We still had some Thomas trains from when E was younger that we were able to pass down to C and they work and fit perfectly. They even have the same sensor to allow the bridge to make noise when its pushed across.

Assembly wise. My gracious. Overwhelming to say the least. The instructions are semi-helpful in letting you know which boxes to open and what is contained in those boxes. They also instruct you on how to put together the accessories such as the Train GarageUntitledMy problem came with track assembly. None of the pieces are actually labeled leaving it up to you to figure out which piece is a “L” and which piece is a “J”.  It was definitely a pain in the butt and took about an hour just for the track. After it is all assembled, KEEP YOUR INSTRUCTIONS! I threw mine away thinking I wouldn’t need them again. I almost had a full blown panic attack when C walked up to me with a piece of the track and said “it’s broken Momma.” I had a vague image in my head of how it was supposed to look… and since I threw the paper instructions away, I had to look them up online but it would have been way easier if I had the instructions handy.

Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Hours of fun for the whole family and definitely versatile. Just keep the rocks and cones (They’re in Box B) out of little hands until you personally feel comfortable giving them to your child.

-Kirstyn

Gobble Gobble. 

I’m a fan of Thanksgiving for the sole reason that I get to spend an entire day with people I love…and craft…I absolutely love crafts. What I love more than regular crafts is Thanksgiving crafts. Who doesn’t love hand print turkeys?!

Every holiday (and all other days that end in “y”) I find myself scrolling through Pinterest looking for the next crafty item to do that I can use to decorate the house with. Since Thanksgiving is approaching, I decided I would share some of my personal favorite things to do to keep the kiddos busy during their break.

1. Thanksgiving Apron found on Education.com


2. A Paper Fan Turkey from A Girl and a Glue Gun.


3. This simple Tissue Paper Turkey from CraftyMorning

All three crafts are cheap, simple, and virtually mess free. The paper fan turkey makes a really adorable centerpiece and the apron, a fantastic gift for the cook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Kirstyn

Product Review: Easie Eaters Fork and Spoon


C is a lefty. It’s very apparent, especially when he’s eating. He was having a rough time initially with hand to mouth coordination using a straight spoon and couldn’t grasp the “turn your wrist” concept. This resulted in more food messes along with him getting frustrated that he kept dropping his food.  I decided to look into left-handed utensils and found these.

Pros:

  • Thick, textured handle-wonderful for tiny hands
  • Lightweight
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Bright color
  • Fork actually stabs into food (unlike most children’s plastic forks)
  • Angle is perfect.

Cons:

  • Spoon is shallow compared to the My Spoon Left Handed Spoon
  • Price ($6.25+$5.25 S&H) is a little steep, although this is sold as a set.

Overall I would give the Easie Eater Fork and Spoon a 4 out of 5 stars with my main concern being the depth of the spoon. Definitely worth the purchase as we have significantly less mess and less frustration during meal times.

-Kirstyn

Product Review: Tooth Fairy Tykes


I received this adorable doll from Tooth Fairy Tykes and couldn’t wait to give it to K as she recently discovered she had a wiggly tooth!

I think her exact words when I gave the doll to her were “It’s so amazing, I’m going to go pull my tooth out right now!” and boy did she sure try with no success.

But then one day…

 She was so happy to finally be able to utilize the doll. Under her pillow, the little doll slept with her tooth in its tiny little pocket.

Speaking of the tiny little pocket…that is one of the 2 things I would change. The pocket is tiny, and I mean tiny. I was actually concerned about the tooth falling out in the middle of the night. I think a fantastic upgrade would be to make the pocket about twice the size with some sort of velcro closure or a way to keep it shut.

The other thing I would change would be to line the pocket with some sort of wipeable material. I would have loved to be able to wipe it out after use since there was a recently pulled tooth in there. Instead, I went ahead and washed the whole doll. Oh well, that worked too!

The doll also comes with an app timer to help children brush their teeth for an appropriate amount of time and also an e-book download. This doll definitely beats those cheap plastic treasure chests I had for my teeth when I was K’s age, but would I truthfully purchase a doll for $14.99 for a tooth? Not so sure. However, I do believe in supporting companies with heart. Tooth Fairy Tykes regularly donates their dolls to children’s hospitals to help bring a smile to every child. In my opinion, supporting a company that gives back is worth a couple extra bucks.

This would definitely make a cute gift from Grandma or a special bribe if your LO is particularly scared to lose a tooth!

-Kirstyn

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Week On. Week Off. 


I feel obligated to tell people I meet about the fact that we have week on, week off custody of all three children. The reasoning is so when they try to make plans and I reply with “if we have the kids”, they don’t give me the crazy stare and wonder where I would be stashing my children for the night-and “their mom (or Dad in C’s case)” is not an acceptable response to “whose watching your kids?”

Divorce is ugly. Divorce with children is even uglier. Essentially, the only people who lose are the children. Our parenting plans are set to up to maximize visitation to the benefit of the children. Week on, week off. Sunday to Sunday. Holidays are split up as well. So breaking it down in a non-legal fashion, we have all of the kids one week and 0 kids the next. Holidays are dictated by a piece of paper.

At first, we had C full-time, so although E and K got picked up at 6pm, C kept us in “parent” mode per se. Then things changed. The first Sunday exchange with C was terrible.  He was a little over a year old and had no idea what was going on. I shut the door, turned around and burst into tears. An eerie silence flooded the house. It was unnatural to be away from him. My DH, who had been doing this for 5 years, knew the feeling all to well and explained that it never gets easier.

You’re probably thinking how awesome the break is and yes, while it’s nice sometimes, deep down it sucks. It allows for the scheduling of the doctors appointments without having to find a babysitter, it allows for me to get my house clean and laundry caught up and it allows ample travel time (which we do often), but it also allows me to miss milestones, school projects, football practices and school dances. It allows me to be secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) judged by the gaggle of moms at the park who want to set up a play date, for “next week”…

So having only have 182.5 days a year with your children, how can you maximize the time?

  • Plan accordingly

 I have it on my calendar in my phone when we pick up the kids. It allows for me to easily see when to schedule appointments, family vacations, and sleepovers. It definitely helps me keep track of everything and when to plan things.

  • Don’t waste valuable time 

When the kids are home, we don’t like to sit in the house. School nights are slightly different, but we at least try to play family games or watch a movie together. Weekends are a different story though. We plan fun things the kids will remember that get us out of the house and active.

  • Be involved

We go to (almost) all school programs, events, and class parties whether the kids are with us or not. We also try to go once a week to eat lunch with the kiddos at school. They love it and so do we. That extra 30 min on a random Tuesday definitely helps break up the week.

  • Be flexible

At some point in time you will have to celebrate a birthday the week before, do thanksgiving dinner 4 days before, or move Christmas until the next day. Don’t worry, it will be okay. It’s not so much about the date, but the memories and meaning behind it.

My husband was right, it never gets easier. As a parent, being away from your child for any reason is unnatural. However, making up for lost time is quite possible with proper planning and a positive attitude.

-Kirstyn

From Pregnancy to Preschool- Bluum Box

Click here to starting bluuming today!

Who wouldn’t love a monthly subscription box of baby (and mommy) items delivered every month to your doorstep featuring some of the best reviewed products out there? This is where Bluum Box comes into play!

Bluum is a monthly subscription box (starting at $19/month) that not only will deliver mom & baby products directly to your doorstep- They will deliver relevant, customized, full-sized mom & baby products to your home- with FREE shipping!

When you subscribe to Bluum, one of the questions they ask is for your child’s birth date or due date and gender. This information is then used to select the best age appropriate products. You can even chose their “customize box” feature and input your child’s developmental milestones and routines so the products that are sent will be even more relevant to your child and not just the general age group. They also offer a “Pick a Product” feature which allows you to choose exactly what you want inside your box each month.

Bluum also offers special member benefits to include a free app, the opportunity to shop exclusive products at member-only prices, and their Bluum rewards program. You can earn points (which are redeemable for as monetary equivalent) for making purchases, registering on their site, subscribing to their newsletter, submitting reviews and numerous other actions.

If you would like to learn more about the Bluum Box Subscription service please head on over to their site, here or watch this short video explaining their service:

-Kirstyn

BurritoBuzz is a paid affiliate of Bluum, Inc. 

Who Doesn’t Love Grocery Shopping?!

I never knew food was so expensive until I became the SAHM who takes care of all groceries. (I also never knew packing lunches was the most miserable “mom” task ever).

We have a family of 5. I shop only at  big name stores (Publix and Kroger) and we have a $500/month grocery budget. If we break that down, that is $100/person…it seems like a lot of money but to some it will seem impossible. However,  I stay at or under my given budget most of the time. Have there been months where I have spent $800 on food? Absolutely. But there has also been months where we’re barely touching $350. But trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

The question is how?

  • Planning-both trips and meals

I typically spend Sunday’s planning my meals for the week (Yes, I grocery shop every week). While I’m planning my meals, I also write my grocery list. Going to the store without a list is asking for trouble. You’ll most likely wind up in the candy aisle trying to decide which chocolate wrapper will be quieter when you’re trying to sneak it from your children. But no really, a list is necessary. I don’t make a fancy list with aisle numbers on where everything is but I do try to keep it organized and grouped together by food group. Also, there is an amazing app Grocery IQ that allows you to input your grocery list either via typing, barcode scanning, or voice. The app also lets you put in the quantity you need, and the aisle category it in is. It also keeps a history of past items so if you’re like me and buy most of the same stuff every month, it saves you a little bit of time. Best perk of them all, it’s free!

Now back to the meal planning, I only plan dinners. Breakfasts are usually cereal or something quick and easy for the kids before school. Lunches are typical as well so it’s easy. A typical week in our house goes something along the lines of cook, cook, leftovers, cook, out to eat, cook, cook. I also plan quick, easy (healthy) meals that I know my kids will eat. Meatloaf, homemade pizza, tacos, quiche, spaghetti, chicken fajitas, sausage and rice, and chicken fried rice are just some of our daily meals.

  • Skip the prepackaged items

Just because it’s prepackaged doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Companies typically hike up their prices (and preservatives) for prepackaged food because it’s convenient. People pay for convenience. When you break it down, you can roughly get more than twice as much product for generally the same price and it’s typically healthier.

For example, you can buy a box of (4) Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches for $5.44  -or- you can buy (12) English muffins for $2.28, (12) eggs for $1.98, and (12) sausage patties for $3.96. So for $8.92, you can get 12 sandwiches (that freeze and defrost perfectly)

  • Stock up on non-perishables

Especially when they’re on sale! I have enough cans of green beans in my house to survive the end of the world…twice. Seriously, there is a lot. If something is on sale, and it won’t go bad, save yourself some money (and time) and buy it. I recently just purchased 5 containers of juice as they were on sale from $3.98 to $2.00. So not only did I save myself almost $10, I saved time on shopping trips because I have juice for at least 4 weeks. Most items that you keep in your pantry, won’t go bad for quite sometime as long as they’re closed and sealed properly.

  • Buy in Bulk when practical

We have a Sams Club Membership and it’s fantastic. I typically buy bulk items there. It is definitely worth the money we spend on the membership and keep an eye out because sometimes they do free memberships or passes.

Buying in bulk is initially more expensive. Calculating it out however is more cost effective and beneficial. We typically buy non-perishables or foods we go through quickly from Sams. Buying in bulk again helps save time and money.

Believe it or not, it is cheaper to buy (1) 3lb container or peanut butter than it would be to buy the equivalent in single jars.

  • Coupons

I was the crazy coupon lady for a little while. I was getting shampoo and conditioner for $.33, toilet paper for $.10 and free toothpaste. It was fantastic! I then realized that companies rarely put out coupons for everyday food items. They’re typically for paper goods. Sure, you can find some ones for food and absolutely use the ones you find. Because essentially, cents leads to dollars.

Saving $.35 on cottage cheese two times per month is a yearly savings of $8.40…that’s almost enough to make homemade breakfast sandwiches!

I know grocery shopping isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it’s a necessity. With a few tips and tricks you can make it almost, almost pain free.

-Kirstyn

Spooktacular and Safe

Halloween is just around the corner and between the candy, costumes, and children it is a fun-filled time for both kids and adults. I love handing out candy to the neighborhood kids and looking at their costumes, but as a mom, I can’t help but to cringe when I see a costume clad kid dart across the street without looking both ways in order to score some free candy. It scares me to death.

So here are some tips for both parents and kids in order to keep your Halloween experience a treat:

Kids

  • Never go to a strangers door alone. Always make sure you can see the adult you’re with and the adult can see you.
  • Never go inside of anyone’s house.
  • Don’t approach any cars, occupied or not.
  • Look both ways when crossing the street and always cross at a corner or a crosswalk.
  • Don’t eat any treats until they have been inspected and gone through by an adult.

Parents

  • Make sure your child’s costume is visible in the dark. Attach reflective tape to the costume if necessary.
  • Make sure the child’s costume fits properly. Make sure it is big enough to be able to wear long layers underneath if necessary but small enough as to where it doesn’t pose a tripping hazard.
  • Skip the masks. They often obstruct the child’s visual field which can pose a hazard when crossing the street. Use kid-friendly face paint/makeup instead.
  • Provide each child with a bright flashlight or LED Trick-or-Treat bag.
  • Check their candy. I know it sounds silly but it’s the truth. The chances of your child tripping over their shoes and getting hurt are greater than them receiving tainted candy, but why take the risk?

Halloween can absolutely be a fun-filled night for both parents and children. Take the extra 5 minutes to ensure your child knows the “rules” for having a safe time.

-Kirstyn

Bear Slippers

Let’s take a moment and reminisce about those cute little matching outfits that your opinion-less child once wore. You know which ones I am talking about: those cute outfits with the matching pants (they even let you dress them in cute little themed outfits, like a train conductor and didn’t say a word about it.)

Oh no, Mommy. Not anymore. The days of your LO being a tiny fashion model are over. Your child now has an opinion. 

We’ve slipped into the “no Mommy, I wear (insert item that doesn’t match anything) today”.

Exhibit 1: 

His pajamas matched until he realized it, at which point he decided to change out the previously matching Cars bottoms for Minions. I tried to explain to him that you can’t mix Disney and Pixar. He didn’t believe me. So for the remainder of the day, he looked like a child’s movie cabinet threw up on him. Oh well.

Exhibit 2:  

I would like to direct your attention to the bear slippers. I tirelessly attempted to convince him that his bear slippers needed a nap and that he needed to put on his flip flops, to which he replied “they wake. See Momma, wake on my feet. Flop (flip flops) napping”…and we proceeded to go pick up his older siblings from school with him sporting fuzzy bear slippers.

So what do you do? You let them. Let them use their tiny new found opinions and independence as much as they want.  These moments won’t last and will be a story of the past just like their cute matching outfits are.

Self-dressing is an important fact of life, because let’s face it… as much as we want to wear our pajamas to work, it’s just not an option. When your child becomes a toddler their brain is developing at such a rapid speed, and part of this new neurological function is motor skills! So yes, your once baby has now developed into a tiny human that can grab, choose favorites, and dress themselves! Here is a great article about those new skills.

Getting dressed takes practice. Thankfully, most of that practice occurs when our children are young and not being mocked by their peers yet for wearing slippers around. (Though, anyone with a teenager will tell you that they aren’t sure that taste is really “developed”.)

-Kirstyn

“Oh, You’re a Private School Mom”

Uhm well, I’m just a regular mom whose kids happen to attend a private school. No need to be rude.

I always dread that simple question.

“What school do your kids go to?”

It’s like a staple for any conversation when it comes to moms of school aged kids…it’s also the question that I blame for the demise of my adult friend life. I never realized that there was such friction between private school and public school moms until I experienced it first hand.

There is one day I remember so vividly because it was my very first run in with the hatred. I was at the park, carrying on a  conversation with another mom, we’ll call her “Random Mom.” Our booger faced toddlers were running around, throwing mulch at each other, getting along just fine. Somehow it was brought up that I have 2 older kids as well. I’m sure you can guess the next question out of Random Mom’s mouth…”Oh neat, what school do your kids go to?”. I replied like any polite person would, and by the look on her face, people passing by would have thought I just pushed her child down a slide. I was a little caught off guard by the wide-eyed look, but what happened was next was just baffling.

She said in the snarkiest tone ever, “Oh. You’re one of those. You’re a private school mom”. She then proceeded to get up off the bench, summon her spawn and told him that they had to leave and he could no longer play with C because they don’t talk to people like us. 

Wait a minute. Our kids can’t play together because my kids go to private school? What sense does that make? Oh, it makes no sense at all? Exactly.

But it didn’t stop there, she then proceeded to go on a rant about how private school is the reason for the downfall of the public school system. How I should send my children to public school and make a charitable donation to the school system every year instead of paying their tuition. She honestly made me feel bad. But why?! Why did I have to feel bad for choosing an educational system that suits my family?

I will start off by saying that in no way, shape, or form am I badmouthing public school systems. There are some fantastic public schools out there but unfortunately, they’re not for my kids. I would never look down on a parent (or their child) for going to any school whether it be public, private, or in-home. My entire family and DH graduated from a public school. I didn’t have any problems with it. However, my school aged children attend a highly rated private school. They attended private preschools as well and their younger brother will follow in their footsteps. Does that make me any different from the moms of public school children? No. Does it make me a bad person? No.

Many would do great in a public school environment, however, my children, more specifically E, is not one of them. He has ADHD and needs the extra attention and focus that his private school can provide. His entire school (PK-12) has less than 600 kids. He needs that. He needs the consistency, the attention, and the communication that is provided. Depending on your child’s specific needs, here are some benefits for each school type that I’ve experienced:

Benefits of Public School:School house

  • Teachers tend to be more qualified
  • Higher focus on core subjects (up to 3 hours per week)
  • More diverse population
  • Typically offer more sponsored clubs and activities.
  • Offer disability services

Benefits of Private School:

  • Smaller classes
  • Less time spent on federally mandated paperwork and more time spent on instructing
  • Strong parental involvement
  • Most teach foreign languages starting in Kindergarten
  • More focus on individual success and not school wide ratings.

So now what’s my point?

Ignore the “Random Moms” and do what is right for your family. 

People may judge you. There will always be someone who isn’t happy but, unless that person is directly effected by the decision, their opinion doesn’t matter. Do your homework and research the schools in your area. Decide what your child needs and what is overall best for your household.

-Kirstyn

Please Don’t

…no seriously, please don’t randomly touch my kiddo. It’s creepy. It’s weird. It’s rude and completely unsanitary. No, I’m not a germophobe but I have no clue when the last time you washed your hands was and they don’t need to be all over my kid’s face. End of story.

It started at the mall (only like the most germ filled place ever because no one covers their mouths and they bring their plagues in with them just to get all the good sales.) C was happily in his stroller continually asking me 150 times for Mickey Mouse on the iPad while I was shopping. I didn’t have the iPad, so in order the keep the peace, I settled for my phone. So there he sits, singing along to Season 2, Episode 9 Mickey’s Color Adventure at the top of his little baby lungs and out of no where his bubble is popped. Not a literal bubble…but his personal space bubble. I looked around in  dismay as to why this random lady was touching my child…and it’s not like it was a you’re-cute-I’m-going-to-pat-you-on-the-head touch. I’m talking like full palms to his cheeks, lots of squishing, making kissy faces and overly excited expressing how “precious” and “handsome” my child was.  Now, I’m not typically a mean person, I’m not confrontational and I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings but I stared at this lady like she had 3 heads and before my mouth could even open, poor C shrieks “ow! no touch me!” And she laughed..logically, first reaction would be to remove your hands from the now screaming child’s personal space but no, she laughed and proceeded to exclaim how “daggone adorable” he was. Oddly enough, none of the things she is calling my son (precious, handsome, adorable) require any sort of tactical anything. Keep your hands to your self.

Like my mom always told me, “you look with your eyes, not with your hands”.

They make signs for it because obviously it’s an ongoing trend. You can pick one up here.

Moms, it will happen. Everyone and their brother will want to squish your LO’s face and tell you how adorable your kid is (like you don’t already know). A simple “please don’t touch him/her” may sound mean, but it’s for the best because you really have no clue where their hands have been.

-Kirstyn

The Sound of My Sanity

…being flushed riiiight down the drain.

Legos. You know what I’m talking about…those little expensive sharp cornered bastards that you can never find when you’re trying to clean up…only when you’re barefoot in the middle of the night trying to check on your LO. Yea, those. They suck and I hate them. What I hate more that Legos themselves is the bucket I store them in…and worse than that is the noise it makes when the whole…entire…damn…bucket is being dumped out. The whole thing.

And you know just as well as I do that once you tell a two year old to help “clean up”, and he sings that cute little song, that he still won’t clean up and will subsequently destroy everything you’re trying to clean.

So what do I (try) to do…

  1. Cycle out the toys. C has a toy shelf thing with bins on it. Some bins get put up depending on how much I feel like picking up that day..errr I mean so he’s not overstimulated… diversified stimulation is a good thing…or something like that. Each bin is organized… One has Legos, one has cars, one has trains, one has foam letters, one has musical instruments, puzzles, random junk that doesn’t belong anywhere else, etc. I typically leave out something fun, something busy, something intellectual and always his trains. He also has 24/7 access to his bookshelf.
  2. Start a Routine. C knows that before nap time and before bed time we clean up… And then I typically clean up little by little throughout the day. He also knows where his toys are kept and what goes where, so that definitely helps. He cleans up well, just not to my standards.
  3. Task it out. “You clean up your shapes, while I clean up your cars”…and he will. Then I get the “I help you” phrase and quickly have to find the next spot for him to clean before he all of the sudden wants to play with his cars again. Keeps him busy so he doesn’t destroy too much, and helps at the same time.
  4. Set up designated areas. I’m not a “helicopter mom”…frequently C plays in his room, unsupervised, by himself (gasp!) and he’s perfectly fine. He will bring his shapes (or letters), his guitar, and his (unloaded) nerf gun to the living room when I’m sitting out there, and he is absolutely allowed to but he knows that nothing gets left on the floor and his toys either stay on the love seat or the ottoman. He also knows that the living room and the main hallway are “play zones” and knows the whole house is not his for his toys. Don’t get me wrong, he is allowed anywhere in the house (except upstairs by himself) but the toys, not so much… designated areas.

Now if you’re one of those moms that’s perfectly okay with your entire house looking like Toys’R’Us threw up in it, more power to ya. I’m too much of a neat freak for that and I know I’m not the only one out there. The most important thing is make your kiddo responsible for his/her mess… After all, you’re the mom not the maid…

-Kirstyn

Fruit with a side of ketchup

As parents we always try to do what is best for our kiddos, especially when it comes to nutrition and eating. With C’s gluten intolerance it makes me slightly harder but we’ve figured it out…except when he wants to be picky.

Seriously. This kid will ask for crackers and only eat the cheese out of the center and then stack all of the slobbery crackers up and say “ew momma” but if you give him plain cheese he won’t eat it, but he will devour plain crackers…whatever, the crackers are the least of my worries, especially after last week.

No exaggeration…the kid would only eat:

  • Fruit snacks
  • Oatmeal
  • Hot dogs
  • Ham
  • Chicken nuggets
  • And fruit…but only if he had ketchup to dip it in. :gags:

I’m seriously trying to figure out how he survived on 6 items all week…and even more so, why I let him!

This goes back to the “pick your battles” scenario. Is it worth fighting over? Is it really that bad that he will only eat his pears if they’re dipped in ketchup? No. At least, no matter how disgusting or redundant the meal may be, at least he’s eating.

So let your kiddos eat their 6 special items all day every day, because trust me, it will change and soon they won’t like those either.

Product Review: Boogie Wipes

If you’re anything like me, you cannot stand snotty noses. If it wasn’t frowned upon, I would wipe other people’s kids noses. I have actually offered other moms wipes to clean up their kid…I hate snot that much.

C is also over dramatic. I could touch his face with a feather and he would say “oww” and he really hates having his nose wiped. I’ve tried everything…Kleenex (both with lotion and with aloe), baby wipes, paper towels, my tee-shirt, his tee-shirt, my hand, toilet paper, everything and it was always the same “oww” response…and then by the grace of God, I remembered I had gotten some Boogie Wipes at my baby shower.

My initial thought was that this was just a fancy wipe with some grape scent to entice kids to not scream like banshees while getting their noses wipes. I was wrong.

Boogie Wipes are saline based wipes to help dissolve and clean up those (un)lovely dried up boogies that happen more times than not.

Pros:

  • Alcohol free so they don’t dry out little noses.
  • Available in different sizes; 30 count or individual for on the go.
  • Saline based so they’re softer on the skin

Cons: 

  • In comparison with baby wipes, they’re pricey. It’s roughly $5.00 for the 30-count pack and if it’s allergy season, this adds up quick.
  • They’re not very absorbent. If there is a lot of snot, best bet would be to use a Kleenex first, then the Boogie Wipe.
  • The Fresh Scent is very strong and overpowering in comparison to the grape and unscented.

Overall, I’d definitely have to give a 4 out of 5 stars. They’re fantastic for those dried on boogers, but for a truly runny nose, grab your kleenexs too.

-Kirstyn

Keep Calm And Carry Epinephrine!

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The only words I need to see are “wheat flour” and “may contain peanuts” and the product gets put right back….depending on the child I’m buying for.

You might read labels to check how many calories you’re eating. I read labels so I don’t kill my children. I’m sure caloric intake would be far less frowned upon.
K has a severe peanut allergy. It’s manageable because it is often very clear what has peanuts and what doesn’t. I never leave the house without her epi-pen and she too knows to read labels.
C’s allergies started out in infancy when he had an adverse reaction to dairy…the red dye 40, gluten, tomato and corn allergies didn’t hesitate to follow… I knew nothing about food allergies and was so upset that my little baby would never be able to eat some of the best foods around!  I began making a lot of his food and purchasing anything that had the words “gluten free” and “dairy free” plastered on the front of the package. Of all of his allergies, his gluten intolerance was by far the worst. The littlest trace of gluten would disrupt his digestive system in such devastating ways. He would get so sick he would become dehydrated and refuse to eat or drink anything. He cried in pain. I could tell in my LO’s eyes that he didn’t care about the food, he wanted the pain to go away. When he started to get a little older, and we frequented restaurants more and more I began to wonder what people with a gluten allergy eat at restaurants! Everything seemed to have some sort of sauce, bread, seasoning or dressing on it and even the simple request of “on the side” became a daunting task because it was often messed up. It was frustrating.
So I compiled a list of resturants who off Gluten Free menus.  You will have to ask for it (if they don’t have it already listed) and you will get weird looks but it works. You and your LO can go out to eat like a normal family and eat (semi) normal food.
Here’s the list:
Applebee’s
Chilis
Red Robin
Claim Jumpers
Ruby Tuesday
Olive Garden
Baja Fresh
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Chipotle
Bonefish Grill
Red Lobster
Outback Steakhouse
Longhorn Steakhouse
Mellow Mushroom
P.F. Changs
Wendy’s
Arby’s
McDonald’s
KFC
Panera Bread
Subway
Denny’s
Starbucks
Coldstone Creamery
Dunkin Donuts
I hope this helps!
-Kirstyn

Octopus Hotdogs.

BigBlendedFamily.com_

Blend·ed Fam·i·ly
noun. a family that includes children from a previous marriage of the wife, husband, or both parents

Well, Merriam-Webster, you should put a caveat somewhere in your sounds-so-easy-to-do definition that truthfully explains well, that is not so easy to do and at most moments in time you will stand wide-eyed staring at your DH about what the in the heck just happened. It’s not like the movies and there is no “What to Expect When…” book.

Now, I will say I’m not a psychologist, therapist or an expert for that matter. I’m just another step-mom trying to figure out the secret, but this is what I’ve learned. (My focus initially is going to be more on the relationship with the older children, C is still to young to figure out or realize what is going on)

Our History

I got divorced from C’s father when he was just shy of being one. It was a huge change, but thankfully, he won’t remember most of it and although I’m sure it did, it doesn’t to this day seem to have an effect on him. His father and I are civil. We worked out a parenting plan that worked for us, we communicate freely as necessary, we’re flexible when it comes to times, days, etc for visitation. It’s great.

Danny got divorced from E and K’s mother in 2010. They were a bit older (7 and 3 at the time) so they remember a little more about life before the “Big D”. There is not a single drop of civility between Danny and his ex-wife and it’s truthfully not Danny’s fault. I could write a whole book about that situation and the effect it is having on the children who are now 12 and 8, but it’s honestly not my story to tell it’s theirs. It does however play a gigantic part in what goes on in our household because there is a lot of brainwashing, bad mouthing, and negativity being fed to them by their mother about Danny and I. I will however, spare you the details.

I met Danny in college in 2013. We instantly hit it off. We were very open and honest with each other from the start. He knew about C and I knew about E and K. We didn’t however introduce our kids into the relationship until we knew this was a for sure thing.

Our parenting plans match almost exactly. We have week on, week off, 50/50 joint custody. Broken down this means, all 3 kids 1 week and 0 kids the next.

So here it goes…

What I’ve Learned

  1. You are not their mother. They will make it known and it will usually be out of anger.

    Let me start by saying I am in no way trying to replace E and K’s mother. I know the maternal bond is a unique, strong, unbreakable one and I fully understand this. I would be lying if I said it didn’t suck because I love them just as I love my own.  It really hit me when K (in rebuttal to me sending her to her room) said to me “Just wait until I tell my real mom”. I’m 100% positive that she took my heart with her to her room and stomped on it. Repeatedly. I was speechless. It was one of my many wide-eye staring moments. I then offered her my phone, she refused, and stomped up the stairs and slammed her door. What do you do at this point? You breathe. You don’t take it personally. They’re testing their boundaries. They’re figuring out just how far they can push you. You know that you’re not their real mother but still hearing from their mouth is still pretty painful. Eventually, they’ll apologize and life will go on.

  2. There will be jealousy.

    It might be towards the kids or it might be towards the ex, but it will happen. You’re secretly (or outspokenly depending on your attitude) going to resent her because she gave birth to them…because she took off the fingernail polish that you put on your step-daughters nails to replace it with a color that matches hers..because your step-son has a picture of her and him on his iPad. The list could go on but trust me on this one, it will happen. You’re going to be jealous that your spot on your DH’s lap was taken while you were up getting a drink of water or that he is upstairs having a tea party instead of sharing a cup of coffee with you. Mark my word, it will happen.  Jealousy is such a difficult emotion to manage. I won’t lie, I still struggle with it everyday. It still hurts when K comes home with her nails blue instead of pink and with a huge smile on her face says “They match my moms”. I choose to join in her excitement and let her know that we will repaint them again when it starts chipping off KNOWING it will be taken off again the following week. Again, breathe. It’s trivial (most of the time) things that don’t have any lasting effect on your life. I’m sure 5 years down the road, the color of her nail polish the week of September 3rd won’t have any bearing on life.

  3. Your marriage will hardly ever come first.

    If you’re reading this for advice then it is safe to assume as some point in the not so distant past, you were single parent whose child/ren came first. It’s not easy to switch back to the focus-on-my-marriage aspect of life. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take time. What I recommend and what I have found to work for us is to set your alarm for 30 min before the kids get out of bed. Spend this time laying in bed, talking, catching up, drinking coffee, reading emails, etc. with your DH. On the weekends, they know after they wake up to play quietly in their rooms until Danny or I come to get them. It helps. Try it.

  4. You are set in your ways. More than you thought.

    You’ve been the only adult in life making decisions and things were done how and when you wanted them. Your husband is the same. Cram that all into one household, add in the children, and (in our case) the dog and hold on because things are about to get crazy. You will be used to sleeping with the door shut, he’s going to want it open. You’ll compromise with leaving it cracked. You make hot dog octopus with little beady ketchup eyes and he cuts them into slices. Seriously?! Slices?! Where is the fun in slices!? This is a pick your battles moment. Not everything is worth it. Let him cut the hotdog into slices, it’s less work for you.

  5. You’re going to love his kids.

    You’re going to love them more than you ever thought was possible. You will be proud of them, you will be sad for them, you will fight for them just as you would your own children. You will place them on the same pedestal as your do your own child. Eventually the word “step” will get left out and the fact that they aren’t technically yours will fade. The Mama-Bear will come out, the snotty noses will be wiped without second though and eventually you will be the one they are waking up at 3 am because they dropped their stuffed elephant and can’t find him.

    Lastly,

  6. There is no secret or answers.

    You can read books, you can read blogs, you can message me personally and I will happily answer your questions and give you all the advice in my mind but honestly, what will make it smooth is what works for you, your children, your SO, and essentially your family. There will be tears. You will yell and I am sure at one point in your wide-eyed stare you will wonder what you got yourself into. But at the end of the day, it’s not all bad. You may have taken your family of 2 and squished it together to make a family of 5, but that’s just more hearts to fill with love…and more octopus hotdogs you have to make.

-Kirstyn