Monday, April 30, 2018

Dawning of the Age of Extracurriculars

             So...It's finally happening. Myka has reached the age where she can actually participate in “extracurricular activities”. I've been looking forward to this for awhile, but I still have mixed feelings about it.
             It makes me kind of sad because that means she is getting older. :( On the other hand, I'm kind of glad because I think organized activities with other kids will be good for her for multiple reasons.
             First of all, there is obviously the social aspect. If you didn't already know, we homeschool, so she could definitely use some more social interaction with kids her age. We used to go to music class and storytime at the library pretty regularly before the baby, but so far we haven't made it for either because it's just so early for us to be able to get there on time! (For the record, we have been to the library other days since the baby was born.) I already struggled before with just two kids! We also go to nature school occasionally and have play dates with friends even less often as well as make it to park days for the homeschool groups around here, so she could definitely stand some more social interaction! I know, totally my own fault, but I am trying!
             Second, Myka could also stand some more structured activities. I'm all about free play, but she REALLY needs to start working more on learning to follow directions. Like I tell my husband all the time, I don't think it's that she doesn't understand how to follow directions, she just refuses to. Because she's stubborn. She is definitely one of those kids that listens to other adults better than her parents. ;) I believe the nice way to put it is “strong willed”. Ha ha
             So, yah. I think it will be good for her to learn something new she already seems to enjoy (we've been having lots of “dance parties” at home lately ha ha) in a structured atmosphere (while still having fun, of course), practice following directions, pick up on some social skills interacting with other kids, and...getting some time away from arguing with her younger sister. ;)
             I'm not sure how good all of this will be for my sanity, though. It's so hard for me to get them all out of the house by myself. (Who am I kidding? It's hard with my husband too!) I have Myka signed up for dance class this summer, which will be in the evening around the time that baby gets all clingy. She has also informed me that she wants to do swim lessons again, which I'm glad, but I'm sure the week she has them will be during dance class time too, so we will end up going two places one day. :/
             She also says she wants to do “real soccer”, so I agreed that she could try it out in the fall since spring soccer is already in full swing. At least I should get a month long break between dance class and soccer! I definitely don't want or plan on becoming one of those families who is constantly running kids around from one activity to another, but I feel like it's important and beneficial for kids to try things out.

Are your kids involved in lots of activities, or do you limit them?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Library Picks of the Week: Insect Edition

            Hey folks! To be totally honest, I've been kind of strapped for post ideas lately, so thought I would share another library pick post! Not that books aren't fun and important. ;)

Caterpillar Dance

What kid doesn't love butterflies? We have read this one several times already. Although it's kind of boring for me as the adult reader, I do like that it is so repetitive since that helps the kids remember the story. Plus, read it enough, and they will remember it and think they are reading it after awhile. ;) Not to mention my 5 year old could definitely use some practice in the memorizing department! It's also a fun book for little ones who are learning their colors...and the caterpillars are soft!

Oh my a Fly!

Both of the kids have enjoyed this book as well. How can you not with pop up pictures? Myka also likes the morbid sense of humor at the end. Can't imagine where she gets that...

Who am I? Insects

Are you seeing a theme here yet? To be fair, two of the books on our list this week did come from the Bugs early literacy bag from the library. This is a fun book about bugs to get kids thinking, made even more fun with pull out pictures!

Is Your Mama a Llama?

This was my personal favorite, though the kids seemed to like it too. I loved the rhyming and silliness. The kids enjoyed identifying the animals.

Have you read any of these books with your kids? What are your favorite recent library finds?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Monday, April 23, 2018

Activities to Keep Kids Entertained While You Can't!

             Hey folks! Nursing a newborn and having to take care of/entertain other kids can be challenging! This is especially true if you have younger kids who may not be capable of keeping themselves entertained yet. So, here is my list of things that require little or no forethought that your kids can do the next time they claim they are bored while you're stuck on the couch. ;)

*Build with blocks or Legos

*Paint with watercolors (In theory, how much damage can they do?)
*Play with playdough (If you trust him/her not to eat it!)
*Look at or read books
*Play learning games on the computer or Kindle (My 5 year old is currently obsessed with the Wild Kratts games on PBS Kids.)

My kids love camping so much that that is one of their favorite "pretend games" too!

*Play pretend (Make up their own game or pretend with a play kitchen, tool bench, etc.)
*Play with a quiet book
*Put on a puppet show
*Have a photo shoot (Either you take the pictures while they're being silly or let them take the pictures! You may be surprised at what you find. ;)
*Play with trucks or dinosaurs
*Watch a movie together

What are your go-to ideas to keep your kids occupied when you can't?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Friday, April 20, 2018

Earth Day Giveaway-Enter to win an Omaiki Diaper Cover!

Welcome to the
Omaiki Diaper Cover Giveaway!

Sponsored By: Omaiki

Did you remember that Earth Day is this Sunday? What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway for a reusable, green item!?

Simply enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an Omaiki diaper cover in winner's choice of currently available print or color! Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. And Canada over the age of 18.

Mixed Bag Mama is not responsible for prize shipment. No compensation was received for hosting this giveaway. This giveaway is not associated with any social media sites, including, but not limited to, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Learning Activities with Leftover Easter Eggs

             Hey folks! I'm a little behind on this, but does anyone else still have plastic Easter eggs hanging around their house? Hopefully we're not the only ones who hoard Easter eggs all year long. ;)
             It seems kind of wasteful to throw all those eggs away, doesn't it? Well, don't! There are plenty of ways you can reuse them, all year long! Here are a few ideas I've seen around the internet and came up with myself.

*ABC/123 Egg Hunt
My 5 and 2 year old are OBSESSED with hunting for eggs. They don't care what is hidden in them either. So I figured, why not make it educational?

I wrote down all the letters and numbers 1-20, cut them up, stuck them inside the eggs, and scattered them about outside. As always, they had a blast! We brought them in and named off the letters and numbers inside along with words that start with that letter.

*Upper and Lowercase Match Up
Write the uppercase letters on the top half of your eggs and the lowercase on the bottoms. Mix them up and have your child match them together!

*Counting/Number Recognition Practice
Write numbers 1-5, 1-10, or whatever your child needs to work on on your eggs. Find some small items that will fit in the eggs or, even more fun, some treats, like M&M's or goldfish crackers. Have your child count out the appropriate number of items in each egg...Then enjoy your treats!

*Scavenger Hunt
You can go several different ways with this. Make up clues (you'll likely have to help your child with understanding or reading this part) and have your child follow them to each egg. You can work on colors, numbers, shapes, etc with this!

*Color Matching
For younger kids, mix your egg halves up in two piles: one for tops and one for bottoms. Have your child put them back together with the right colors!

*Finish the Pattern
Work with your child on making or finishing patterns. For older kids, use a different color for each egg halve for more of a challenge!

*Bonus Ideas

-Use as bath toys
What kid doesn't love pouring water in the tub?

-Make noise shakers
Super fun and easy to make to boot! Fill your eggs up with rice, beans, sand, etc. Tape up/super glue any holes and where the two halves go together, of course. Tada!

Do you keep and reuse your plastic Easter eggs?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Monday, April 16, 2018

5 Reasons to Grow Tomatoes (Even if you don't like them!)

            I don't know about you, but I am ready to get out there and plant some stuff! If only Mother Nature would stop PMSing and the weather would stop flip-flopping back and forth. As I write this, it is over 70 degrees here in Indiana...With a chance of snow again in a few days! Ugh. Stick a fork in me. I'm done with this nonsense!
            Anyways, I thought we could all daydream some today until the time comes when we can actually plant! Let's talk about tomatoes...
To be totally honest, I can't stand tomatoes by themselves. I don't eat them on sandwiches, salads, very rarely tacos, and you get the idea. Don't like 'em. However, I still definitely eat tomato products: ketchup, taco sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. I don't know what it is about mashing them up and adding other ingredients to the mix, but it makes them ok. ;)
             With that being said, we still grow tomatoes in our garden every year. Why? Here are a few reasons we (and you) should grow tomatoes too!

*They are easy to grow.
As far as actually growing them goes, they're pretty easy plants to take care of. Sure, you need cages for them, but that's not really a big deal. Other than that, the biggest issues we've had taking care of ours are the tomato hornworms and, if planted too close to squash, squash bugs. Really, though, they're a great plant for a beginning gardener to try out.

*Canned diced tomatoes.
You can used diced tomatoes in a LOT of things: chili and other soups, stuffed peppers, Mexican dishes, etc.

*Tomato sauce/spaghetti sauce.
Again, tomato and spaghetti sauce come in handy for a slew of dishes. Now, to just learn how to can! (Sorry. Can't help you there. I make John do it. Lol)

*Sell them at a local farmer's market.
Whether you sell them at a physical market or an online group (not sure if that's a thing or not, but we have a local farmer's market group on Facebook that is not actually associated with the physical market), there is someone out there who will be more than happy to take some maters off your hands!

*Share with friends and family.
Even if you don't like them, chances are someone else in your family does and they may not be able or willing to plant a garden. From what I've been told, nothing beats a homegrown tomato over a store bought one!

What about you? What's the main reason you grow tomatoes?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Friday, April 13, 2018

Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox Giveaway

Sponsored By: Best of Machinery

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy is running a fantastic giveaway that appeals to Moms and Dad’s, Uncles and Aunts, and of course... Grandparents! The prize is a functioning Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox! This is no ordinary sandbox. It features a sand area with molded ramps and roadways, and a real working excavator to dig the sand and load up the toy dumpster truck! It includes all the accessories, too!

Winner Will Receive:

Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox! (a $50+ RV)

Product Details:
Sand area features molded in ramps and roadways
Use the real working excavator to dig in the sand and load up the dump truck
Truck ramp doubles as lid to keep sand dry
Accessories included: 2 characters, sand cup, sand sifter, shovel, rake, dump truck

Open To US & Canada entries and must be 18+ to enter
Giveaway Dates ~ 4/13 9:00 AM EST through 5/4 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Top Breastfeeding Tips

            Hey folks! If I haven't said it before, breastfeeding is hard! At least a lot harder than media and marketing seems to portray it. It may be natural, but that doesn't mean it's easy!
            This is one of the many things I wish I had known with my first baby. On top of trying to deal with having what I still feel was an avoidable c-section, I felt like an extra failure when I wasn't able to breastfeed my first daughter. While my husband and mom were supportive, that was about the extent of it. The lactation consultant at the hospital was an appalling joke. I don't recall the pediatrician's office talking about lactation consultants either. Basically, I didn't know what the hell I was doing and there didn't seem to be anyone else around who did either. (We also lived in a different state than my family and friends at the time, so there was no help from that front either.) I couldn't even get her to latch!
             While I was able to nurse my second daughter, we had a slew of issues with her tongue and lip ties. Though I had them corrected, I was still only able to nurse her about 5 ½ months. My supply just seemed to keep dwindling/not keeping up with her and my poor nipples were still so sore all the time that I wanted to scream whenever she nursed and dreaded it. :(
             So far, knock on wood, baby #3 and I have been having a much better nursing relationship than I did with my first two. She definitely has a lip tie, which makes for sore nipples, but it's nothing in comparison. I have no desire to get it fixed and go through the hassle of lots of LC and physical therapy appointments this time.
             With that being said, I'm no expert on breastfeeding, but I would like to think by this point I have a lot more wisdom and tips to impart to others who may be struggling. This is just a short list of my personal favorites as you can find tons of suggestions for just about anything breastfeeding related online. I hope you find something useful here!

*Use a burp rag in place of nursing pads.
I don't know about you, but I have one boob that's extra leaky. I usually just nurse on that side first, but if I don't for whatever reason, instead of blowing through a bunch of nursing pads, I just shove a burp rag under my boob if I'm at home. Ever better, invest in a Milkies Milksaver so you're not wasting any liquid gold! You can learn more about it in my review.

*Invest in a quality breast pump!
Seriously, do yourself a favor and get a good pump, even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding. If you live in the U.S., take advantage of the programs many insurance companies offer now to receive a free (high quality too) breast pump! It is totally worth having on hand, whether you plan on pumping when you go back to work or just a night out occasionally, need to boost your supply, or just want to bottle feed pumped milk etc. Whether you buy one yourself or get a free one, don't get a cheap one price-wise. Pumps are one of those things that I have found that you definitely get what you pay for!

*Get properly sized flanges for your breast pump.
I'm not sure about all brands, but I know at least Medela sells flanges in different sizes. Why? If you have ones that don't fit properly, especially ones that are to small and pinch your nipples, it can cause you to not be able to express as much milk as you should be and can even affect your supply in a negative way!

*Pump after nursing.
There are a few reasons for this. 1) To increase your supply if you're having issues. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. (In theory) Also, you want to make sure your breasts are completely empty as this is also conducive to making enough milk. If they don't get empty after nursing/pumping, that tells your body, “Hey! You're making too much!”, which won't do your supply any favors.

2) The main reasons (besides trying to keep my supply up) I do this a couple times a day is to help deal with cluster feeding and give my nipples a break. I know it's perfectly normal, but cluster feeding literally makes me feel crazy! My nipples are already sore and I can't stand sitting around so much. So it's nice to have some extra milk waiting in the fridge for these occasions. Plus, as I mentioned, it give my nipples a bit of a break. Extra bonus: Daddy can do it, so extra break!

*Eat certain foods to help increase your supply.
By now you are probably aware that certain foods are said to help increase your supply, such as oats, hummus, flaxseed, etc. Each person is different, but I can attest to oatmeal helping!

*Be cautious of fenugreek.
I know what you're thinking: I thought fenugreek is supposed to increase milk production? For some...yes. More and more information has been coming out in the past several years that indicates that fenugreek may only help about half of women who use it, but actually negatively impact the supply of others! If you're already having supply issues, it's not really a gamble you want to take. I hear blessed thistle is the new fenugreek in the breastfeeding world.

*Drink plenty of water.
Getting plenty of fluids is just a good habit to get into regardless of whether you're nursing or not. While there are lots of factors that go into how much breast milk you make, it's going to be a lot harder if you are dehydrated. I recently read, as a general rule of thumb, that a nursing woman should drink about 96 oz of water a day. It seems like a lot, but if you consciously make an effort to get into the habit, it's not so bad. I know many women like to keep water on hand while they are nursing so they don't forget!

What would be your #1 breastfeeding tip for a new mom?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Homesteading Update: Baby Pigs, Barn Clean Up, & More!

            Hey folks! I am super behind on this, but thought I would share a farm update in photos nonetheless!

             As per usual, we have had some crazy weather here in Indiana already this year. As you can see in the photo above, daffodils have already been popping up like crazy! They're always a nice reminder that the end of winter is near and spring is right around the corner!

             We had our first litter of baby piggies almost 2 weeks before I had my own baby piggy! Ha ha While exciting, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little pissed at the time that even our hog had babies before I did. Lol
             As I was walking back to feed Mr.Bruce and Gabby in the evening on President's Day, I noticed that she was nowhere to be found, which was odd. She didn't come out of the old pig house until I was dumping the food out. It was strange for her to be in there during the day, so I had a feeling something was up. I checked her rear end out and sure enough, there was some blood. Being 38 weeks and super pregnant at the time, I waddled as fast as I could back to the house to let John know. We went back out and sure enough, there were baby piggies in the old house!
             Gabby had 5 piglets altogether. Unfortunately, one was stillborn. Over night, the others wandered off and we thought maybe one of the adults ate them at first. We eventually found 3 of them over the course of the day, but one of those didn't make it overnight either. :( So, we ended up with 2, a boy and a girl, and they are doing well now! As a matter of fact, the boy is getting super pudgy! Needless to say, we also learned some lessons for next time!

             John also got around to making a new lawn mower cart before our littlest farmer arrived. Our old one held up surprisingly long considered it was almost entirely made out of scrap parts and as much as we used it! This new one is wider and is insanely heavy. It's going to take some getting used to!

             Although I'm more concerned about building chicken tractors and hatching more chicks at the moment * ahem *, John and his parents have been working on expanding the pig area yet again. Which I knew was going to happen eventually, but I guess I just hadn't planned on it being a project we were going to work on this soon. Anyways...

             We are conveniently expanding it all the way down to this old hog shed. So, we obviously needed to get it cleaned up and fixed up first. The before picture is from when we bought the place. It was clearly in rough shape, but they tell me it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked as far as fixing it up. Whoever lived here before was super lazy and nasty, in my opinion, and left piles of trash EVERYWHERE scattered about the woods. Old tvs, Christmas decorations, batteries, mail boxes, tires...You name it. Not surprisingly, this hog shed was no exception. They've been clearing it out a little at a time. They are actually out there right now working on moving stuff as I write this! (Before you go thinking I'm lazy, I just had a baby 2 weeks ago and most of that stuff is super heavy. :P )

             I'm starting to think we are cursed as far as keeping rabbits goes. Our newest girl bunny that we've had for a month or two died the other day. :( She is the third female bunny we've had! Not exactly sure what happened to her as she hadn't been acting sick or anything leading up to it. :/

             That's it for today! Hopefully next time I will be writing about our chick hatching endeavors and homemade incubator!
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Monday, April 2, 2018

4 Ways to Help Little Ones Adapt to a New Baby

            Hey folks! Whether you have 1 kid or 10, adding a new baby to the family is always a big deal, especially if you have younger children who might have a hard time adjusting to the sudden change. As parents, we can get so caught up in taking care or and worrying about the new baby, that we might forget how hard it can be for little ones to adjust to all of the changes. With that being said, here are 4 easy ways you can help younger siblings adjust to having a new baby in the house!

*Do an activity they like with them.-Yes, even if it's not something you may particularly enjoy yourself. ;) For littles, this will probably consist of painting, coloring, building with blocks, playing pretend, etc.

Although I'm pretty sure I'm crazy, I've still been trying to plan a few activities for the kids to do each week, especially with the recent holidays because there is always an abundance of fun things to do involving them. St.Patrick's Day scavenger hunts, Easter egg hunts, etc. Most of the time, though, our older two kids favorite activities are playing Minecraft and painting.

*Squeeze in some extra snuggles time!-Our 2 year old has been getting up WAY early since we got home from the hospital, for some reason. She's been waking and getting up at least once, sometimes two times a night and still getting up at crazy hours, like 6. A lot of times, I tuck her back into bed, but occasionally I will let her stay up for a little bit because she keeps requesting to snuggle. Even if it's when she gets up early, we usually get to snuggle on the couch and watch cartoons for a bit before everyone else gets up.

*Let them hold the baby.-Obviously you'll need to supervise this and help them, but I feel like NOT letting your older kids interact with the baby at all will lead to resentment.

*Let them help out.-Again, don't shut your other kids out. Little kids especially usually like helping mom and dad out doing “grown up” work, such as helping put dishes away, sorting through laundry, etc. They can even help out with the baby by retrieving pacifiers, setting bottles in the kitchen to be cleaned, getting diaper supplies ready, etc.

With that being said, I also personally think it's a bad idea to try and force kids to help out with the baby if they do not want to. Again, I feel like this could lead to resentment and jealousy. You can always continue to ask them occasionally as they may (hopefully) warm up to the new baby, but again, I wouldn't force it.

What do you do to help your older children adjust when you bring home a new baby?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Sunday, April 1, 2018

$50 Amazon Shoe Credit Giveaway

Sponsored By: Shoe Adviser

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

This April, is running this giveaway that appeals to all Moms, Dads and Kids!
The prize is any pair of shoes for yourself or your kid from Amazon up to $50! Choose from any design, brand or style you wish. Into walking, crossfit, running, dancing or just need some new heels for the weekend, ShoeAdviser has you covered! One pair of shoes up to the value of $50. 

Winner Will Receive:

Any pair of shoes they want! Up to a $50.00 Shoe Credit To Amazon

Open To US & Canada entries and must be 18+ to enter
Giveaway Dates ~ 4/1 9:00 AM EST through 4/22 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.