Hurried Homemaker

- for supermoms short on time -
March 1st, 2012

Personalized Thank-You Cards

I have not always been good about thank-you notes. In the past few years, however, I have tried my best to be better about sending a kind thank-you for gifts and loving gestures. I want my kids to know the importance of gratitude, so I am doing my best to write thank-you’s with them. This past Christmas, things were a bit hectic around here so I decided to try another method. I took pics of the kids with all their gifts. I uploaded the photos to Snapfish and made postcards. Then, I sat my girls down (one at a time) and asked them to help me write their thank-you’s. Since they’re kids, their thank-you’s were short and sweet – perfect for a postcard – and each recipient got a new photo of my girls! I have received so many compliments on our postcards, so I thought I would share it with you!

 

January 15th, 2012

Pink Party!

The little one turned 3 on New Years Eve … and how did she wish to celebrate? With her favorite color, of course – PINK. She specifically requested a PINK PARTY and even chose the dress that the theme was centered around (a multi-pink ruffly number from Gap Kids). We put pink everywhere – pink lemonade, pink cups, pink candy-filled jars with pink rock candy arrangements, pink balloons and pink tissue paper flowers, pink cake, pink dress, pink wand and crown, and even a pink-iced cookie tree. I had pinned a pink ruffly cake a while back on Pinterest, but she saw another pink cake I pinned and decided at the last moment that she wanted it instead. That exact cake. And she got it. The only way it could have gotten any pinker was if I’d painted the walls. She absolutely adored it, as did I, so I wanted to share a few pics with y’all.

 

May 12th, 2011

Summer Reading Programs for Kids & Parents

The summer before our oldest was going into kindergarten, she expressed a BIG interest in reading. Never having taught someone to read before, we were at a loss as to what to do. Lucky for us, a college nearby was hosting a reading program for different age groups, beginning with 4yo and rising kindergarteners. And so we signed up.

It was a 5 or 6 week program. We spent maybe 2 hours on a Saturday morning there. They provided the materials and a cd. We showed up, paid attention, and practiced during the week. After the class and continued practice, she was reading before she ever went to kindergarten. She was 4 years old. Not only did the class help us work with her, but it sparked in her a love of reading that she continues to possess today.

 

I hope that if you, or someone you know, has a little one that wants to read – or even an older child that needs or wants help with reading and reading comprehension – you will check out the Institute of Reading Development website and find a class near you. No matter how hurried you may be, the few hours of work that this takes have a lifetime of positive results!

Hurried Homemaker was in no way compensated for this post.

April 18th, 2011

Tea Collection – Not Just for Kids!

One of my favorite brands for my kids is definitely Tea Collection! Matter of fact, Tea makes up somewhere between 1/2 – 2/3 of my 2yo’s wardrobe. It is stylish, unique, and well-made. So, when Tea approached me about reviewing something from their Women’s Spring Collection, I was thrilled! I had never thought about buying Tea for me … I never left the pages of kid clothes! How had I not shopped their women’s line?

First off, their customer service is AWESOME! I am probably one of the pickiest people in the world about customer service, and yet they WOWed me from the beginning. I was unsure of what size to buy and the lovely lady at Tea walked me through each garment I had chosen to help me select the right size for me. She was patient, kind, and a great salesperson (I ended up buying an additional piece that wasn’t included in my gift certificate).

I chose the Modernista Tee in 2 different colors, and added on the Hojas del Mar Tunic. The tees are a cool dolmen style and are so soft that my husband couldn’t stop rubbing my back when I wore one the other day (no complaints here). The best part about these is that they go with everything! I’ve worn them with yoga pants and tennis shoes; jeans, a beaded necklace, and a pair of sandals; and even slacks, nice jewelry, and high heels. I am a lover of the tunic-style, so the Hojas del Mar was the perfect item to add to my wardrobe. I wore it for the first time at our anniversary dinner in Disney World – it was comfy, cute, and fun.

Tea has added a few cool spring dresses that I have my eye on, too. There is one thing that I wish they had, but didn’t … wide-leg trousers. All their pants were of the skinny variety, and I don’t love that style.

And, although I was only asked to write about Women’s, I will add that they have the cutest summer dresses for girls right now – under $30! [I just ordered some for each of my girls.] Have boys? No worries! Tea has some great new arrivals for boys, too!

Hurried Homemaker was provided with a gift certificate to purchase items of my choosing to review. While some of the products mentioned in this post were received for free, this did not affect the opinions reflected in this post.

March 25th, 2011

“Wii” Love Country Dance

About two weeks ago, I got an invitation to check out the premier of Country Dance for Wii here in Nashville. The invite was noted for “media and industry” so, naturally, I asked about bringing the hub (a singer/songwriter, performer, and record exec) and my kids. Luckily, it was cool. So …

The next week, I loaded the girls up and headed into town to pick up the hubs. We made the short drive over to the Country Music Hall of Fame to check out this new game.

Keep in mind, we do did not own a Wii (more on this in a minute). But the kiddo had played at friends’ houses (since pretty much all of them have one). I just have never been convinced why we needed to own one.

First off, it was a small and intimate presentation with demonstrations by girls who make a mom of 2 try to remember the last time she could wear jeans that tight (and look good in them). It looked like lots of fun, but then again those girls would make anything look fun – the question was, could I do it?

Then, they got the kiddo up to try it out with the PR gal and 2 other volunteers. She did great and then asked me to join in on the next one. I reluctantly agreed. But the baby had other plans – crying for Mommy. And so, I did it … while holding my 2 yo.

Um … Best. workout. in a LONG. time. No joke. (And I only partially say that because I was holding the babe.)

Not only was it a terrific workout, but it was a BLAST! We ALL had so much fun.

They gave us a free copy of the game and we left. What did I do? Dropped the hubs back off at his office, took the kids to Target, and yes … I bought a Wii. Seriously.

I play by myself after the kids have gone to bed as my “workout”. I have seriously already lost a little weight and have begun toning – just from this game!

Here’s a quick video out about the game:

It is LOADS of FUN (and I’m not just saying that because I got a free copy of the game)! It will be available March 29, 2011 in stores – and WalMart will carry a special copy with a bonus track (Alan Jackson’s “Good Time”).

QUICK NOTES:

  • Songs are great – everything from “Achy Breaky Heart” to “Cowboy Casanova”
  • Songs are ranked with 1-3 stars for difficulty level
  • Lyrics are displayed so you can sing along
  • Up to 4 players can “compete”

Learn more on the Country Dance Facebook page or by following Country Dance on Twitter.

Hurried Homemaker was not compensated for this post. We did receive a free game, but this is no way affected or swayed our opinions.

February 4th, 2011

Toddler Room

As you probably know, we recently moved to another state. The house came together pretty quickly. Sure we still need some art in a few places, but overall it’s not bad. The kids rooms are still in progress. The oldest only needs a rug, but lately I’ve been in the process of decorating the toddler’s room.

Since she has always slept with us, it is really important for me to make sure this is a room she LOVES. That way, she’ll get more excited about transitioning to her own space. Her favorite colors are orange and turquoise. This has been the basis of the room. I found a cheap toddler bed on Craigslist – last weekend we sanded and painted it turquoise. I still need to add a little art and a rug, some curtains and a quilt.

Once it is done I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. Until then, I’d love for you to share your toddler rooms by emailing or commenting with a link. I can’t wait to see them!

Hubs sanding down the Craigslist toddler bed

Cute new bed after several coats of turquoise

September 22nd, 2010

Eco-conscious, Budget-friendly Birthday Gift Tips | Guest Post by Michelle from Doudou Bebe

I asked Michelle from doudou bebe, one of my favorite online baby boutiques, to write a guest post. She has amazing taste and some fabulous ideas. I love that she decided to write about birthday gifts. And not just any birthday gifts – she is right up my ally with this take on ideas/tips for the mom who is thinking about greeness, budget and ease of purchase, while still wanting to get something that the birthday child actually will enjoy.

Be sure to get more great ideas and advice from Michelle by following her on twitter (@doudoubebe), on her blog, and/or her fabulous website.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

In the early years, I was always excited to get a birthday party invite for the kids: it meant a nice afternoon of playing and cake. For me and for them because back then their friends were exclusively the children of my friends. But as they’ve gone out into the world and acquired their own little circle of friends (humph!), brightly coloured envelopes come home in their backpacks and cheerful emails arrive with RSVP by dates that I will never actually meet.

One of the more difficult aspects of this has been selecting appropriate gifts for kids that I don’t know well whose parents I know even less (if at all). Until you’ve faced it, it seems like a minor thing, but the things we give our kids have says a lot about our values. With my friends, I know pretty well if a craft set will be well-appreciated or relegated to the back cupboard because it’s too messy (or too potentially toxic or too ‘feminine’ for their boy… the pitfalls are many).

I know well how frustrating it is to have gifts that contradict the values that I want to teach my kids – but that the kids inevitably love more than life itself. Recognizing too that our low-plastic, creative play focus isn’t what every family sees as ideal, I’m also trying to use these opportunities to teach the kids about kindness and generosity in the wider world. It’s not easy to balance, but it’s a big lesson so we keep at it.
It doesn’t help at all that asking a 5 or 6 year old what their little friend likes rarely elicits useful information. I once trekked out to the toy store to buy a Spider-Man doll that Isabelle was quite sure her friend really wanted for his birthday – only to find out that the way she knew he liked it was that he had brought the one he already had to show and tell. Sigh.

Nonetheless, with a few years of school under our belts now, birthday season has become much less stressful. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up:

  • Set a general budget based on the number of parties you’re likely to attend in the school year and stick to it
  • Have your children participate in the selection, wrapping and card-writing for the gift
  • Have one or two back-up gifts in case you find yourself remembering at the last moment that you have a party, at noon that day (not that this has ever happened to me, of course!)
  • For older kids, gift certificates can be a good option; for younger kids, the idea of a gift certificate is too abstract. Also, the gift preparation that’s so important to your kids largely gets lost with a gift card
  • Classic toys will appeal to most parents and kids
  • If in doubt, be conservative: if it occurs to you that someone might object, then chances are someone will. If you go for it anyway, be sure to have a gift receipt.
  • If you find a cool neutral gift on sale, buy a couple of the same one to keep on hand (but remember that without the gift receipt, if it’s not a really cool universal gift, some of them may end up in the broom closet)

Take heart too – birthday parties are for the kids and they are supposed to be fun. Even if one or two (or even all) of the gifts you thoughtfully purchase and present are never really used, it really is the thought that counts.

September 7th, 2010

Back-to-School Guide: Fashion – BabySoy

HH BRIEF:

I am a HUGE fan of babysoy (as you may already know)! So, when they told me about their new Oh Soy collection, I had to check it out! And I’m glad I did … BabySoy did it again! This collection is an adorable set of illustrated bodysuits, playsuits and shirt. The Oh Soy collection also has pants and knotted hats that go with just about anything. There are even matching reversible burpies and blankets. These folks know what a mom needs!

As always, the clothes are the softest I’ve ever felt. Given the choice between other pants and her new babysoy Oh Soy brown pants, the baby chooses the babysoy. She really knows how to pick the best of the best.

Not only is the reversible hoodie an award-winner (iParenting Media Award), but now their kimono bodysuit has been deemed award-worthy (PTPA Media Award) as well!

SAVES:

Buying clothing for your tot (newborn – 4t) from babysoy saves the environment and money. Not only is their clothing some of the most environmentally-friendly you’ll find, but it is so reasonably priced you’ll wonder why they aren’t sold in stores everywhere!

FROM THE COMPANY:

Babysoy is the 1st company in the world to use soybean protein fiber to create a soft and natural newborn wardrobe. The eco-friendly fiber uses leftover non-gmo soybean pulp from tofu and/or soymilk production as raw material for the fiber. Babysoy’s layette line promotes a green environment by reducing and recycling while bundling babies in the softest eco clothing and accessories. Each piece is designed by co-founder Amy Liang and tested with her daughter for comfort, style, and ease to dress.

GOT MORE TIME?

Read more about babysoy on their website.

Join babysoy on Facebook.

See how babysoy cares here.

See their awards here or here.

Hurried Homemaker was not compensated for this post. We were provided with items of clothing for a fair/honest review. This in no way affects our opinion of this product/company.

September 5th, 2010

Back-to-School Guide: Health – Culturelle Probiotics

HH BRIEF:

Probiotics are a great way to keep your intestinal system operating properly. Not just that, but (believe it or not) they help keep your immune system on track too! The kids and I tried out Culturelle® [me] & Culturelle® for Kids [kiddo & baby]. Not only were we all regular, but we were less gassy and bloated, too. And we craved sweets less and felt a lot more energy. (And I certainly needed more energy!)

I have taken probiotics before, but none like this. Culturelle® works faster and more gently than any other probiotic I have tried.

SAVES:

Keeping yourself and your kids healthy saves time and money for the whole family. Less time being sick and/or at the doctor means more time for the important things, like spending time together.

FROM THE COMPANY:

Culturelle® is the only probiotic dietary supplement containing Lactobacillus GG, the “good” bacteria strain used to restore and maintain a healthy balance in the digestive system. Culturelle works to help promote overall digestive and immune health. Diet, stress, travel and even some medications encourage bad bacteria to flourish in your intestinal tract. When bad bacteria outnumber good bacteria, your digestive and overall health is open to a host of potential concerns. Culturelle, with Lactobacillus GG, safely and naturally replaces the bad bacteria in your digestive tract with good bacteria leading to healthier digestion and a stronger immune system. Not all probiotic supplements are created equal. The amount of live bacteria listed on many probiotic labels is often the number of bacteria at the time of manufacture, not use. Culturelle, however is manufactured with at least 30 billion live cells with at least 10 billion guaranteed at time of usage. This is about 10 times the amount of probiotic bacteria found in many yogurts (and without the additional sugar or calories).

GOT MORE TIME?

Read more about Culturelle on their website.

Join the Culturelle Facebook page.

Follow Culturelle on Twitter.

Check out some funny Culturelle videos on YouTube or here.

Get more coupons here or here.

*Bonus $1 off coupon!

HH was not compensate for this review. We were provided with the product to try for a fair review – this in no way affects our opinion of this company/product.

July 6th, 2010

Traveling with Tots

Last week was our first long family trip with two kids. We’ve taken the short 4-hour drive to Nashville with both kids, but we haven’t taken a full-fledged trip since our last vacation (which was when we had only 1 kid).  I asked around the Twitterverse and FB-union for some tips on traveling with kids and got a couple suggestions. The rest was up to us to figure out on our own, and we did. I will, in turn, pass along what I recommend.

The Challenges

  • The oldest is 8 and the baby is 18 months … there are none in between, so we have a huge age difference to contend with.
  • The baby is what one might call “high maintenance” – she is demanding, picky, and can throw a tantrum better than any 2 or 3 year-old I’ve ever seen.
  • The trip required two early wake-up calls – as in 4am and 5am!
  • Two airplane rides in one day with a toddler – doesn’t that sound fun?
  • One of the planes was an 18-passenger tin can with no beverage service, much less a bathroom. (Of course we wouldn’t know about this challenge until after we were about to board.)

Tips from Others

  • My friend Irene (@notsusiehomemkr) recommended ring pops … (doesn’t work for me since I try to avoid giving candy, but may for someone else)
  • My cousin suggested the ABC game (great for kids who know their ABCs)

As you can tell, I didn’t get a ton of ideas from the world-wide web. So, it was up to me and the hub to figure it out. If you know anything about my family, you know that by “me and the hub” I really mean “me” because the hub got back in town only a few hours before we had to get up to catch the first flight. So …

Our Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

  1. Early AM flights are actually a good thing – tired kids sleep on airplanes
  2. Wheel Easy Car Seat Travel Bag is perfect for toting along the car seat to check with baggage (there are a number of other options out there, but I found this was the most reasonably priced option for our travel needs)
  3. Pack a small bag for the oldest to carry-on filled with all-age activities (a pad of paper, Crayola Twistable crayons, Play-doh, Rubik’s cube, and finger puppets filled our bag)
  4. Have a change of clothes for each person in a carry-on. Fold each item in 1/2 and roll to avoid wrinkles.
  5. Bring along a diaper bag for the little one, but have your diapers delivered to your destination ahead of time using a service like diapers.com.
  6. Dress everyone in layers: We left Atlanta at 6am and it was about 75 degrees and humid. The plane was comfortable. We landed in Denver to 59 degrees and breezy. Then we got on a hot little airplane to get to South Dakota, where it was 89 degrees but windy. On the way home, it was FREEZING on the airplane, then warm in Denver, comfortable on airplane #2 and then HOT in Atlanta. Layers, people.
  7. Nurse that baby on the plane. I cannot emphasize it enough – their little ears have the hardest time with the pressure changes. There were 2 babies other than ours on the plane at one point – I nursed, they didn’t. Guess who’s baby was screaming? (Hint: it wasn’t mine.)
  8. Have to take more than 1 flight? Schedule yours so that your layover is about 2-3 hours. This gives the kids time to wander the airport, stretch their legs, get a snack, go to the bathroom, and play for a bit. And then take a nap on the next flight.
  9. Different time zone? Try to keep everyone on the time zone in which you’re accustomed – this is only reasonable if you’re only an hour or two off.
  10. Relax. Being uptight about every. little. thing. makes the trip stressful and difficult to enjoy. Every moment doesn’t need to be planned. There are bound to be hiccups that will throw things off a little. It is ok. Enjoy it.

Do you have other tips that I should have mentioned?

P.S. – Here are a few of my favorite farm-country pics from our trip:

Hurried Homemaker was in no way compensated for this post. We are actual customers of all products/companies mentioned above.

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