Wednesday, December 18, 2013

natural homemade disinfectant

'Tis the Season.
Not just the Holiday Season, but Cold & Flu Season.

Ever since Thanksgiving, everything has been going around in our little corner of the world.
The flu, stomach flu, strep throat, upper respiratory viruses, etc.

So this year, instead of running off to the store to by some Lysol and spraying down every surface in our home, I decided to research some natural alternatives.

I perused the internet and saw all sorts of recipes, so I kind of combined some using items I own. 

This is a pretty basic recipe and you can obviously play around and find what works for you and with smells you like.

And you can read about the many benefits of vinegar, tea tree oil and citrus oils.

I picked up some spray bottles and labels at Target (love that dollar spot!)

And here is the recipe!

The tea tree oil and sweet orange oil smells so nice together!
And if you happen to eat any citrus, I always just peel it and put some of the peels into my disinfectant and all purpose cleaner bottles.
Adds a great fresh citrus scent!

 I've used this recipe for a few weeks now, spraying it on all the germy surfaces
(door knows, light switches, tables, counter tops, toys, etc.) and the benefit is it makes my house smell great too! Plus is so cheap to make!

I've been diving into the world of essential oils and all-natural body & home care products. I will share more recipes and tips as I find and use them!

Do you have a favorite essential oil or all natural recipe? Please comment and share!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The ULTIMATE List of Toddler Stocking Stuffers


Play Dough
Finger Puppets
Little People
Small Doll
Bath Toys
Bath Crayons
Egg Shakers
Toy Balls
Matchbox Cars

Tickets to Local Event

Do A Dot Markers
Coloring Book
Washable Paints
Art Smock

Sippy cups
Fill Yourself Food Pouches
Snack cups 
Cloth Wipes
Bath Soap

Festive cloth diaper
Play Jewelry
Play Purse

Applesauce Pouches
Granola Bars
Dried fruit packets

Do you have anything you'd add to the list?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Family Blessings Tree


This November our little family was blessed with an empty calendar and a heart to make this season intentional.

Though Levi is still little, he is grasping concepts and the world around him at a crazy pace.
So this November, each morning I would ask Levi what he was thankful for.

Out of construction paper I simply cut out a brown trunk and some leaves out of yellow, red and orange paper.

Hearing what Levi was thankful for made me smile each morning. His little personality shone through. Like being thankful for "Baby Bear" and "Elmo".

Mr. Free and I also contributed when we remembered.

The tree has been up on a door in our dining room and it has been a blessing to see it each day and be reminded of just how good God has been to us.


I've really enjoyed doing this activity with Levi and I think it's helped put our hearts in a great place to begin advent. I pray that my son can grow with a heart of gratitude.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of quality time with the ones you love.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

DIY magnetic train board

Levi is currently LOVING playing with his "toot toot". (Thats what he calls his train set he got last year).
I love seeing him creatively play with it. It is adorable.
The one thing I don't like? How the pieces come apart and he screams in frustration because he's not quite old enough to piece the track together. Frustration for all.

I love the many train tables that are available for kids, but they are pretty pricey and take up a LOT of room. Room we don't have. Plus, I don't know how long he will be in his "toot toot" phase.

So I had seeen on Pinterest ideas for train boards. Basically taking plywood, painting it and then screwing the train tracks onto the board. The great part? It can just slide under the couch for storage.
The part I didn't like? The fact Levi wouldn't be able to move the tracks and items around when he gets a bit older.

I had also seen on Pinterest the idea of buying a giant Oil Drip Pan from the automotive section at Wal Mart and using it as a magnet board.

So I just merged the ideas together!

So here's how I did it;

You can buy the drip pan for around $12 at WalMart. An amazing price considering its size,
Layout your train set and make sure it will fit the way youd like it to be set up.

I then hot glued magnets to the bottom of the tracks.
No, it isn't a permanent way to keep the tracks together, but it does help and I want Levi to be able to recongifure it (rumor on the street is his grandma is getting him some more train pieces...)
So I hot glued magnets on all the pieces and also numbered them in the order of putting the set together. I don't know why I didn't do that sooner....makes it MUCH MUCH easier!
I then took all the pieces off and spray painted the drip pan a fun green.
I wanted it green to look like grass, but not a dark green. I wanted it fun and cheery.
Here is the spray paint I used
It was like $4 at Wal Mart.

My next step was making accessories for his landscape.
I used some odds and ends I had in my craft stash.
I took blue foam and cut the shape of lakes and ponds, then hot glued magnets to the back.

I also cut out bushes from green foam and stiff felt. Attached magnets and glued some colorful buttons on a few to look like flowers.

It was still missing something.
So I headed to Hobby Lobby to find some buildings and trees to add some dimension.
I forgot to take a picture, but I got 2 already painted trees. A 6 pack of wooden unpainted pine trees I painted and a 4 pack of unpainted wood houses I painted as well.
I hot glued the trees and houses to some foam and then hot glued magnets to the foam.
They stood up! I was a little nervous about that!
I think it looks much better with the trees and houses. And I know Levi will love arranging them!
The hard part is going to be waiting til Christmas to give to him! It's hidden under our couch until Santa brings it to him next month.
I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Home Preschool

For the time being, our family has decided to "home preschool".
Granted, our child is one.
But since Levi doesn't go to a daycare center and is with me most of the day, I knew I needed to start working on some of his academic skills.
And, I know I'm his Mama and I'm supposed to say this, but.... this kid has some smarts.
Must take after his daddy.

So after lots of research, we dove into the school year with our own little version of preschool.
Right now, at 20 months old, Levi's goals are:
Learning his colors
Learning shapes
Begin counting (he can count to 5!)
Begin identifying letters
Lots of reading together
Expand his vocabulary
LOTS of creative play

In our family room, I carved out a little area for his preschool things:

The key being that I wanted his items accessible, but organized.
Clearly labeled so that he can help in putting things back where they belong.

How I've structured our time is that we do mini-units every 2 weeks (give or take).
So for now, we are on "Fall".
We are still working on his general concepts (shapes, colors, etc.)
But through structured play that corresponds to the theme.

I've gathered a billion ideas from Pinterest, and organized them into a little binder so I can keep it all together.
It is filled with everything you'd need to start Tot School inclduing free printables!
You can also follow my Preschool Pinterest board for ideas!
 Each week, on our book shelf is 3 baskets. 
Each basket has an activity or toy that goes with the theme.
They may be homemade stick puppets that go along with a book, blocks, toy animals, leaves, etc.
This helps keep toys fresh and interesting.

At Levi's age, with the attention span of an active one year old boy, we only do preschool for 20-30 minutes. Much of the time is lead by him. 
We usually have time for him to explore the activities in his basket, we then read a book that goes with the theme, then usually some type of art project.

Really? You can make it what works best for you and your little one.
This is meant to be intentional, fun learning.

To get's items I recommend.

 I got this one at Target for $25.
You can get refill pouches for cheap on Amazon.
Definitely recommend this.

Velcro Dots
Work great when making puzzles or labels

Binder rings
For making your own books

So items are organized and accessible for little ones

Lots and lots of baskets. Organization is key.

Kid size work space
A little table and chair are great for them to do reading or art

Magnet Board
Great for kids to manipulate items and practice storytelling

Paint Dot Markers
These are washable and fabulous for little hands!

And to help you get started, just right-click and download these labels I made in organizing your own preschool area!
Just print, laminate and attach to your baskets!

And for us, teaching Levi the Gospel is the center of our day.
I pray and strive to show Christ-like patience and love to him.
We look at the wonders outside and how our Creator made them.
We practice saying sorry and forgiving.
We read Bible stories and try to recall the characters.
We pray for those around us.

God has entrusted Levi's precious mind and soul to me to mold and shape and I pray daily for His wisdom.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Is anyone else a "home preschooler"?
Have any great tips or resources?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today is Pregnancy & Baby Loss Remembrance Day.
A day I wish didn't exist.
I wish every positive pregnancy test ensured a healthy baby.
That pregnancy would be full of joy and anticipation.
That all baby's are born healthy and get to live a happy life.

But many of us know the cruel reality.
The dropping HCG levels.
The silent face of the technician during a sonogram.
The many heavy decisions to make.
The calls of telling loved ones the terrible news.
The sleepless night sobbing and wondering what could've been.
The feeling of helplessness.
The disappointment in your own body.
The surgeries.
The doctor's appointments.
The tucking away of cute baby things that bring too much sorrow to look at.

I also know we have a loving God. A Father who loves us.
That we do not know the plans He has for us. And for our children as well.
The year that we lost 3 pregnancies and underwent infertility testing and treatments were the darkest months I have yet to encounter.
I felt so alone. So isolated.
I felt incredible sorrow and jealousy.
I felt doubt and confusion.
But through it all...though I did not understand, I knew God was good and He had a plan.
That was my rock that kept me going.

It's been nearly 3 years since that very dark time.
The Lord has since blessed me with my sweet little boy.
I am thankful each and every day to have experienced a healthy pregnancy and getting to mother my son.
Motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
It has grown me in so many ways.
I am not the same woman I was prior.
But I am thankful.

I am thankful that no matter where my life would be now,
whether I would still have empty arms and a broken heart,
or a home full of children.
My God is good.

And for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm still here.

I'm alive. I promise.

We sold my laptop at the beginning of the summer, and that's where I did all my blogging (we are hoping to get an updated laptop this fall!). Plus, I was just enjoying spending time with my little family.
So I hadn't updated.
But hoping to get back in the habit.

So, here is a recap of the last 2 months in pictures.

It has been an absolutely amazing summer.
I have cherished the time I have had with my husband and wild little boy.
We had way too much fun and tried to cram in as much as we could into 2 months.

Tomorrow is the first day of school and Levi and I are beginning "Tot School" in the mornings when I'm home.
We did a little trial run this past week when I went back for teacher meetings.

I plan to do several blog posts about "Tot School" and what is and isn't working for us.
(The briefest summary: tot school is learning through active, intentional play)

I've also been making Busy Bags to help increase his learning of colors, shapes, animals and Bible stories.
I'll have several posts and those as well.
Here's to a great school year!!!