Making Colored Rice For Sensory Play

Colored rice is a great sensory activity, here’s why I think so:
1. It is SUPER easy to make.
2. Inexpensive
3. Appropriate for a wide range of ages.
4. It covers a lot of senses, touch, sight, put it in containers to shake and hear.
5. You can reuse it for art projects too.
6. Short list of ingredients.
7. It’s fun!

Here is what you will need:

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  • Tablespoon measuring spoon
  • Pan and parchment or wax paper for drying
  • Baggies for mixing
  • White Vinegar (1 tbs per cup of rice)
  • Food Coloring
  • Rice

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar with about 20 drops of food coloring into a baggy.DSC_0016.JPG
  2. Add 1 cup of rice.DSC_0017.JPG
  3. Mix it around so that all of the rice gets color on it.
  4. Spread it out on the pan.DSC_0018
  5. Stick it in the sun to dry. Every 5-10 minutes spread it around and break up any clumps. (You can also just dry it in your house, but it will take longer. I am sure a low temp. oven would work too, just didn’t try that myself.)

I mixed one color at a time simply because I don’t own a ton of pans, and I wasn’t in a hurry. Little man enjoyed helping mix the bags.

Having a variety of colors to explore with makes it even more fun! We mixed red (which came out more bright pink), yellow, green, blue and purple.

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Helpful tips:

  1. Be sure the rice has dried completely before storing it.
  2. Storing the rice in containers with lids ensures moisture won’t get in, and they are also fun to shake around.
  3. Get a large container with a lid for playing in that can double as storage. (The ones I picked up I got at the grocery store, it was reasonable for a two pack)
  4. You can mix more rice of each color, just adjust the amount of vinegar, amount of dye and size of your baggy.

 

The best part about it was watching little man’s delight at feeling the rice and mixing the colors. I am big into just letting him explore and figure things out on his own so, I just let him go at it whatever way he wanted. He preferred using his hands to put each color in individually, then mixing them. He also preferred playing with the empty containers. Playing outside made cleaning up even easier.

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When we shook it all together at the end, the result was pretty cool looking. All the rice is stored away in the same container we used to play in for the next time. We did not spend time to sort the colors back. HA.HA.

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How to Boil Diaper Inserts

This post contains affiliate links.

Before we even get started with how to do this there are some things that need to be said up front.

  1. NOTHING with SNAPS or PUL/TPU fabric can be prepped by boiling.
  2. DO NOT boil synthetic fibers
  3. This method is for NATURAL fibers that do not have snaps or PUL/TPU such pre-folds, flats, inserts, boosters, etc.

Why do natural fiber diapers need to be prepped anyway? Well, if not they will repel water like pictured below with these brand new Smart Bottoms Too Smart Inserts. The natural fibers have natural oils that need to be washed out before they can become absorbent. In a way, it reminds me of how a duck’s feathers repel water. DSC_0007.JPG

What you need: For boiling diapers/inserts you need a gigantic pot (similar to that of a witches cauldron), a drop of dawn dish soap, some natural fiber diapers/inserts, and water.  DSC_0050.JPG

What you need to do:

  1. Fill up your pot with water. Turn the heat on to your stove and wait a million minutes for it to begin to boil. DSC_0010.JPG

2. Once the water is boiling, add a small squirt, more like a drop or two, of Dawn, and your inserts/diapers. (best done in small batches, this is 3 inserts)

3. Reduce the heat slightly and boil for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. It is just like boiling lasagna noodles. 15 minutes should give you perfect “al dante” diapers…only they won’t really be al dante, they will just be prepped.

4. Rinse and wring to get out the dish soap.

5. Wash with a normal cycle of diapers or regular laundry.

6. They should be good to go!

 

This shows how the water immediately soaked into the insert after it was boiled for 15 minutes and washed once. This was my first time boiling inserts and I was shocked! I am a lazy diaper prepper and usually this would have taken me a month to get done by washing multiple times.

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Since I knew the inserts were prepped, I grabbed a dry one and put it in a Smart Bottoms Too Smart Cover and put it on my baby. I was impressed by how trim it was.

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If you are interested in purchasing similar inserts, covers, or exploring other cloth diapers check out Kelly’s Closet.

Tips For Working Parents

Disclaimer: This post is not to bash or down play the hard work that stay at home parents put in.

Being a working parent can suck. It can. When you are at home you have the constant feeling that you need to be the best parent and forget about work. When you are at work you have the constant feeling that you have to be the best at your profession while constantly thinking about your child. It is a struggle. It is a balancing act. It is possible to do both and do well at both.

Both my husband and I work full time. We both have significant drives to work. His commute is about 20 minutes, mine is about 45+ minutes. We also have different days off, meaning he has off while I work, and he works every weekend. Here are some things that we have found help us stay sane at work and at home on a regular basis…wait, are we even sane on a regular basis? These tips would probably be helpful for anyone.

  1. Help each other out. This one is huge! Helping one another is truly the key. With both of us working one of us usually makes dinner while the other one plays with the kid. One of us packs up his bag for the next day, while the other one packs up his lunch. Neither of us complain. We never really tell each other no. If one of us needs help, or asks for something to be done, the other one just does it. It helps us to both be happier at home.
  2. Have a plan. For everything. Plan for the expected and the unexpected. Plan what everyone will wear the night before. If you have school aged kids, have them wear their school clothes to bed so getting dressed in the morning is argument free and thoughtless. Plan what you will eat for the day, for the week. Have a plan for what will happen if the kid is sick. Who will stay home? In our house, my husband is first in line for sick duty since he doesn’t have to write sub plans when he misses a day of work.
  3. Learn to let it go. Be okay when said plans do not work out. When things go wrong at work, let them go before you get home. When things go wrong in the morning at home, learn to let it go before you get to work. It’s not your kid’s fault you had a crappy day at work, just like it’s not your boss’s fault that your kid slept horribly the night before. There will be nights when you get NOTHING done at home. There will be dishes in the sink, or laundry piled high, but I assure you, it will be okay. Let it go, let it go!
  4. Find childcare you can trust. Find someone or somewhere you can take your child that you feel comfortable. As parents, we all worry a little bit when our children aren’t with us. That worry gets multiplied a thousand or more times over when we do not 100% trust who they are with. Visit childcare places when there are children present. Ask questions. Pop in. Be open with them about your expectations.
  5. Put down your devices. How much time do you waste on your device at home? This is an issue for us. Set aside a couple of hours each night that are device free. You would be shocked at how much more productive you can become.
  6. Early bedtime. Send those kids to bed early. Kids need more sleep than adults anyway. Bedtime in our house is around 7. Once he is down we get ready for the next day, taking care of any house work that needs to be done or personal things. This is also our time to be together. Sometimes, we just hop into bed, stalk Facebook, play some games, talk and go to sleep.
  7. Quit comparing yourself to others. Social media is the worst for this. We see an unrealistic picture of what other’s lives are like. Does it really matter what is going on in their house? Do what works for you and your family. Just because their child will have homemade cutesy Valentines to bring to school does not make her a better mom than you. Because he caught his son’s first steps on camera does not make him a better father than you.
  8. Continue to love what you do. You chose your job before you had kids. You loved your job. Remember why you love it, and continue to love it. Now, you are also a parent. Parenting is also a job. The most important job you will ever have. Love it. Love it when it’s fun. Love it when it’s tough. Be the type of person you would want your kids to be. They are watching.

Hand Print Frame for Mother’s Day

I love creating homemade gifts for different holidays. They are a great way to mark milestones when you have little ones, they can be more cost effective, they come from the heart and everyone seems to appreciate them.

I was looking for something simple for our toddler (14 months) to make for Mother’s Day for myself, my mom, my husband’s mom and his step mom. This project appealed to me for a few reasons. One, I could easily get the materials. Two, it wasn’t overly complicated. Three, it was a project that didn’t need to be perfect but could still come out looking good, which is key when working with a toddler. And forth, it was within our budget.

What you will need:
Paint, I used paint I already had, but similar paints can be purchased at Walmart for around $0.50.

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Picture frame with a large mat that can fit handprints. The frame I used is a 15×17 frame with an opening for a 5×7 picture. In fact, it’s actually meant to be a signature frame. I purchased these at Hobby Lobby. Continue reading

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

Today, the Clark Kid and I participated in our first ever Great Cloth Diaper Change. It was hosted by USA Baby in Franklin, TN.

So what exactly is this event? In short, it is a bunch of crazy parents who cloth diaper all changing their babies in one giant room all at the same time. They are held throughout the country on or around Earth Day each year.

We were told to arrive early, so we did! We had to get on the road early since USA Baby is about an hour and a half away from our house.

The Clark Kid enjoyed making new friends and sharing toys while we waited to be let in. Once we got in we received a swag bag and enjoyed playing with the “big kids” on the play equipment. The swag bag was loaded with goodies, reusable wipes, coupons, samples, and an adorable little doll diaper from Rumparooz.

As it neared closer to the time of the actual change everyone shut their cameras off and got ready to change. You hold the cloth diaper you will be putting on your baby up in the air, then change and hold your baby in the air.

Lastly, they raffled off some amazing door prizes, some with quite a hefty price tag!

Attending the GCDC was a fun way to get to know new vendors, meet other mom’s who cloth diaper and give the Clark Kid some social experiences too.

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The Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Cloth Diapers

This is our first official blog post! It is also Earth Day. Before we had seriously thought about having a child, my husband brought up the idea of using cloth diapers. He had seen an add online. I thought they were cute. I agreed to consider them. This was about 3 years ago. Last year, we finally had our first little bundle of joy. We have been using cloth diapers successfully since he was a few days old.

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In light of Earth Day, here are our top 10 reasons why you should consider them too:

1.  Cloth diapers are better for the environment. The amount of disposable diapers sitting in our landfills is pretty disgusting when you really think about it. What gets even more disgusting is when you think about what is in those diapers and the proper way to dispose of human waste. Not to mention how long it takes for most disposable diapers to break down, they haven’t been around long enough for anyone to actually witness it.

2. When you use cloth diapers you are exposing your baby’s most sensitive parts to fewer chemicals. What exactly are disposable diapers made out of? Diaper companies are not required to list what is in their diapers. Isn’t that kind of crazy to think that we don’t even really know what we are putting on our babies when we use disposables? Some common things found in disposables include polythene film (similar to plastic wrap), polypropolene, wood pulp that is usually bleached with chlorine, sodium polyacrylate, dyes to get the pictures/size on the diaper and sometimes perfumes. Some little bums are too sensitive for these materials.

With cloth diapers, you can choose what type of fabric you want against your baby’s skin. Many brands of diapers use natural, organic fibers. Some cloth diapers leave a soft stay-dry fleece against your babies skin. Would you rather have the feeling of a disposable or soft fleece against your bum?

Not to mention, our little guy is 14 months old. He has very light, sensitive skin. Guess how many diaper rashes he has had that have lasted longer than one diaper change? None.

3. Using cloth diapers is a fabulous way to support small businesses. Many places that sell cloth diapers, such as Kelly’s Closet, are run by families, or small groups of moms. I love that every time I place an order I am supporting their business, their family, their well-being. When you shop small the customer services is second to none. I love getting my “fluff mail” and having handwritten notes in it from the owners of these small businesses. Many retailers including Kelly’s Closet, offer reward points and freebies for purchasing too.

4. Cloth diapers help save money in the long run. There is an upfront cost with cloth diapers. However, there is not a weekly need to buy diapers when you go grocery shopping. There is no need to clip coupons and try to find the best deals.

Many have argued that we are not saving money due to the upfront cost and the increase of water use.  While we dealt with the upfront cost, by the time our baby is potty trained we will have spent significantly less. Our water bill has increased by about 2 dollars a month, but we also added a new person who also wears clothes, and needs clean towels and bedding.

We will also be able to use these same diapers on our next children. This is where it will really save money.

You can also re-sell cloth diapers after they are used. Some even increase in value. I swear, it’s like Beanie Babies all over again! There are numerous groups on Facebook for the B/S/T of cloth diapers, they are also popping up on eBay. I joke that when we sell our diapers we will get to go to Disney.

5. Cloth diapers create less “blow-outs”. We have been using cloth for over a year and have had one big “blow out” due to user error. ONE. ONE!!!! And let me tell you, dealing with poop in a diaper meant to contain poop is a heck of a lot easier than dealing with poop that is all up the back and out the legs of your newborn. This, to me, is where cloth diapers really set themselves apart. Back elastics are amazing.

6. You will never run out of diapers if you use cloth. If you do, you just wash them. Then you have nice clean diapers all over again. This is also huge if you are on a tight budget.

7. Cloth is just cuter. Ok. I lied. This is really where cloth sets itself apart. It is so stinking cute! You can have dragons on your diaper! You can have ducks, dogs, cats, trucks, flowers, anything! And you can reuse them! They are so stinkin’ cute. Want to make your professional baby photos look even cuter? Put the baby in a cloth diaper! You can match them to outfits, dresses, the options are endless.

8. Modern cloth diapers are much different than what most people think. When people hear you are doing cloth they assume pins and plastic pants. That is not what the diapers are like anymore. They are convenient and sometimes all in one piece that you just put on your baby like a disposable diaper.

9. Cloth diapering can almost become a hobby. Once you discover what works best for your family, your routine,  what style or brands you like, you might become addicted. You will want to collect them all.

10. The cloth diapering community is pretty darn amazing. Words actually don’t even describe how amazing this community is. I have met some of the most awesome moms and we have become friends through Facebook groups. Some of them I have never met in person, some I have. We all support one another, it is like a family. I probably talk to them more frequently than I do my “real” friends.

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