Monday, August 27, 2012

diy chalkboard coffee table

For our playroom I knew I wanted chalk paint SOMEWHERE.
However, I didn't want the typical black or green chalkboard paint.
Plus, I could only find it in spray paint and knew I wanted to brush it on.
I found the best stuff ever, called Clear Chalkboard Coating at Hobby Lobby. It can be brushed on over any painted surface and makes it a chalkboard!
Much more possibilities!

Since our budget was "", I decided to use a hand-me-down coffee table we had been given.

We had originally planned to use this coffee table in the family room.
I had sanded down the top and tried a stain, but it didn't turn out how I wanted.

But it's perfect in the play room.

Here's what I used:
A sample can of Lowe's paint + primer in Magnet Dapple (on sale for $2)
A bottle of Clear Chalkboard Coating from Hobby Lobby ($4 with 40% off coupon)
And a brush
I forgot to take lots of in-progress pics, but here's what I did:
Applied 2 coats of the Magnet Dapple paint, letting it dry for an hour in between.
Then applied 2 coats of Clear Chalkboard coat.
The first coat goes horizontal, the second brushed on vertical, allowing an hour dry time between coats.
 See how great the swatch matches?

After letting dry for 24 hours, you take a piece of chalk and rub it's side along the whole chalkboard surface, then erase.
It's ready to go! 

It works really well! I was skeptical of the "chalkboard coating" at first, but it does fantastic! 
I can't wait until Mr. Levi can draw all over it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Frugal Baby Finds

This past Friday I hit up our local Just Between Friends Sale. Admission was a $10 donation, but teachers and first time parents got in for free!
I scored some major deals!
Look at how HUGE this sale!
All items are consigned, and each consigner sets their own price.
You really have to dig to find the lowest price on each item, but it's worth it!
Check out some of these pictures!

 It was absolutely HUGE and pretty overwhelming!
I got some great deals!

 I got this jumperoo for $10
This play kitchen for $10

 This play puppy for $5

 This Leap Frog play table for $10
This play mat for the sitter's house for $7

One thing I would not recommend, is their clothing. 
They had a huge, varied selection but their prices were not that great!
Used footed pajamas for $6 and $7?
I can buy them brand new on clearance for much cheaper!

But overall, definitely worth a visit if you have one in the area!
Anyone else go and grab some deals?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Levi and Motherhood- 6 months!


Levi is now sitting up pretty much on his own.
He will occasionally topple over, but can usually sit and play with his toys.
He is also *thisclose* to crawling.
He gets on all fours and rocks away.
He can crawl backwards, but not forwards quite yet.
Not sure I'm ready for him to be so mobile! 

He also said "Dada" this month!
He's done it a few times and sometimes says, "Dad-EE!!!"
So super cute.
Melts his daddy's heart big time.

At his 6 month check-up he was 25 1/4" long and exactly 15 lbs.
He's in the 11% percentile for height and 10% percentile for weight.
Such a little peanut.

New School Year

I started back to work, teaching music each afternoon.
I think it's a great fit for our family.
Each morning I get to get the chores done, dinner prepped and cuddle time with my little man.
Then evenings are spent quality time as a family.

Levi's sitter is AMAZING.
We knew her from church and she loves Levi SO much.
It makes me feel so much better about leaving him for a few hours.

Cloth Diapering

Still lovin it.
Lovin saving some major moolah, thats for sure.
We've started using our diaper sprayer (ours is from Bum Genius) since Levi is know eating solids.
It's worked fantastic.
Highly recommend it.

Well, Levi is seriously fed nearly every which way possible.
We still nurse and supplement with formula.
We are also during puree's twice a day along with a little Baby Led Weaning.
(For those unfamiliar with BLW, you can read about it HERE)
 Obviously I don't get my panties in a wad over how my child is fed.
As long as he is fed, that's what matters.
The philosophy behind it, doesn't really matter.

I am making all his food.
I can get behind that philosophy.
Cheaper, and better for him.

I am honestly just loving being a mom.
I love this little man more than I ever thought possible.
It's so fun being in "boy land", as I was raised in an all girl home.
I love finding adorable clothes and toys and all that comes with having a baby boy.
I am so so blessed.
 Isn't that outfit adorable?! H&M!

Products I'd Recommend:
Wubbanub- Can't say enough good things about it! He LOVES his!
Playtex Straw Sippy cups- It's the only one he will use!
The First Years Reclining High Chair- We use it all the time! Not just for eating!

And for one last "awwwwww"
Look at my little man at 1 day old vs. 6 months.
Time slow down!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spare Change= School Supplies

Office Depot currently has school supplies crazy cheap.
 (Limit 10)
(Limit 3)

 Yes, you read those signs correctly.
Pocket folders and pencil cases for $.01.
No coupon necessary.

They also have scissors, compasses and packs of pencils for $.25.

So if you have kids back in school or could use these to help organize your home, get down to Office Depot this week!
I  nabbed 10 folders and 3 pencil cases for school for a grand total of $.14 with tax.
I paid with a quarter and got change back.
How crazy is that?!

Anyone else know of any great back-to-school savings?
Happy Shopping!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mama's Survival Guide: Returning to Work

 This past week I joined the workforce after having an amazing extended maternity leave for 6 months.
I truly enjoyed every minute being home with my precious son, and returning to work seemed impossible.
The days leading up to returning were filled with lots of tears.
I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to still teach, but on a part-time basis. I teach for 3.75 hours a day in the afternoon. Such a blessing.
But, my Mama Guilt set in. Was I going to miss his milestones? Was he going to cry when he realized his Mama was gone for awhile? Will I be too busy with work?
Many tears were shed thinking of these "what if"s.
Now, that I've had a few days under my belt, I wanted to share some tips that have worked for me. 
Every Mama, baby, child and circumstance is different.
But, I will say...our first week back went so well. Neither I or Levi cried! It felt about as "natural"as it could. So, here's whats worked for us.

1. Find a sitter you trust.
This is absolutely vital. This person (or people) will be helping to raise your child. No matter the length of time, they will have an influence on your son or daughter. Make sure that this person loves and cares for your child and you trust them. 
Our sitter is absolutely wonderful. She is a strong Christian woman that is in love with my son. Seeing how happy she is when he comes makes my heart happy. I know he is so loved when he is there!

2. Have open communication with your sitter.
This is your child, so make sure all your concerns and wishes are made known. For me, making a Sitter Binder helped keep that communication open. 
(read about that here!)

 3. Prep everything the night before
 Have the diaper bag, your work bag, and clothes laid out for the next day. Go ahead and put the bags in the car so they are ready to go.
 That way in the morning, things will move much smoother. As a new mama, this is also a new concept. Having to not only get myself ready for work, but a baby ready as well. By prepping the night before, you will save a lot of frustration.  

4. Cherish the mornings
Make sure you wake up early enough to spend some cuddle time before the rush of the day and demands begin. Whether its by nursing or just snuggling for a few moments in bed, it will really help you keep perspective on your day.

5. The Crock Pot is your friend
Prep food the night before and in the morning, throw in the ingredients. When you get home from work...dinner is ready! This gives you extra time to snuggle with your baby and kiss on your hubby. Not jumping right into the kitchen when you get home!

6. Stick to your chore chart!
As stinky as chores are, if you stick to doing the assigned area or task for the day, you will save yourself a lot of work in the end! For me, I do the daily task during his morning nap before going to work. You could even do it after your little one goes to bed for the night. This will help you maintain your home and not have to spend an entire Saturday cleaning top to bottom!

7. Pray
Pray, pray, pray. Pray for peace. Pray for your child. Pray for your sitter. Pray with your husband. 
If returning to the work force is what is best for your family, then remind yourself of that. Even though it is hard. 
The first few days and weeks are tough, but routine helps.
Pray with your husband over your concerns and anxieties.
Reach out to some veteran working moms you know to pray for you and give you their own tips.
Motherhood is a challenge whether you are working out of the home or not.
So Mamas...does anyone else have any tips they would add to the list?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sitter Binder

Well...tomorrow is "the day".
The day I go from a stay-at-home mom to a mostly-home mom.
I am so so thankful to be able to teach part-time. It is such a blessing.
With that, I've been trying to get things organized for our new sitter.
She is a wonderful lady from church and Levi will be the only child she is watching.

This is all new for me, but I'm trying to make things as easy on all of us as possible!
With our work schedules, I will be dropping off Levi and Mr. Free picking him up.
So, I thought in order to keep communication as clear as possible I'd create a "Sitter Binder".
I just grabbed a binder we had laying around the house.
Inside, I created some pages.
The first, had all our contact info, emergency info and notes about Levi's schedule
Then I included calendars, filled in with my work schedule and days off.
The sitter can also add to it events planned, like going to the zoo or library, etc.
Then I created a page for her about how the day went.
It includes feedings, (how much and when) diaper changes, naps and a spot for notes. (He was fussier than usually, was super silly, etc.)
 I've made this sheet available to print for free!
 This all completely new to me, so we will see if this works!
I'll keep you updated and please share any tips you workin' mamas have!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nearly-Free Playroom: Reveal

Come on in!
The playroom is an unfinished storage area in the basement right off our new family room.
I forgot to take "before" pictures, but imagine bare concrete walls, bare concrete floors and filled to the brim with JUNK!!!
We did some major purging and craigslisting to get to an empty space!

Keep in mind....this room was created for nearly nothing. We didn't finish the walls or install carpet. We repurposed old furniture we had.
So with that...

 The couch was a hand-me-down and we actually had the slip cover. $0
I bought the red and white striped pillow at HomeGoods for $10.
The stool is hand carved with the motorcycle (I knew Daddy would love it!) for $15 at HomeGoods.
 The shelving we already had and it was already painted. Perfect and $0
I got the blue and white basket, blue wire basket and blue chalkboard basket at HomeGoods (I love taht place for a total of $21.
The green basket was from Dollar Tree.
Luckily, many of the baskets are EMPTY. 
This will be great, especially once Christmas and Birthday rolls around...
The green stool I had had since childhood. $0.
 The coffee table was Mr. Free's parents.
It's a great coffee table, and we had sanded the top to use in the family room with a darker stain, but went a different route. I painted it and then added a Chalkboard laquer on the top, so it'll be fun for Levi when he gets a bit bigger to draw on! ($6 for paint and chalkboard)
Red basket from HomeGoods $5
I will have a post soon on how to DIY your own chalkboard table.
 Mr. Free had painted the mural of the KC skyline a while back, so it became part of the "theme" if you will of the room. City and transportation.
I thought something hanging from the bare rafters would be fun, so found these flags at Hobby Lobby for $4 a piece. (Then used 40% off coupon!)

 We have my dad's old headboard we needed to store, so we put it behind the love seat with a painted board on top. On top are the cars and planes my dad and I built together.
 The rug is from Target and is $25, but I used a gift card I had. 
I know it'll be so fun for a little boy and his cars!
The carpet and padding were leftover from finishing our basement, so we just laid them down to make a cushy play space. $0
 In the corner is a Little Tykes slide that was graciously given to us! $0

 The "entertainment center" is just a vertical storage piece on its side. 
Creative, huh?
The stereo and TV were Mr. Free's and thought they'd be just fine for a playroom.
The white storage shelves we already had. $0
The green basket from the dollar store and the blue wire basket were $8.

The little man has sure enjoyed this space!
It may not be the prettiest but it is sure functional.
It's great to have a place to store all his things right next to the family room.
And not have to be in the family room.
Grand total: $72
Not shabby!