Adoption | Giveaway | guest posting

The Undeserved Life: Part 2 + Giveaway!

By on September 27, 2017

This two part series from This Undeserved Life is from Author Natalie Brenner. She is a fellow Mom of two babies who were born less than 5 months apart. I am so excited for you to read the second excerpt from her book. She has generously offered a copy of her book to one of my awesome readers. So sit back and enjoy the rest of this chapter and make sure you enter the giveaway at the end.

An excerpt from This Undeserved Life
(May 2016)

People refer to me as Super Mom or Super Woman. But these titles are the furthest from the truth. I am just as much a wreck as any other mom. I am a hot mess and need Jesus just as much. I am unsure how to tear down the false beliefs that I somehow have it together more than the next mom. It is probably the same as tearing down every other false belief and stigma: by being honest.
And so I am. I remind mamas I cry a lot, constantly wondering if I am messing up my child’s attachment forever. I need Jesus. Just like every other mama, I needed Jesus during our “waiting season,” in discovering we were pregnant (both times), as we considered our son’s situation, the moment we said “yes” and trusted He would provide, and when his birth mama chose us. I need Jesus every single moment of every single day and I know when Sage’s little brother arrives, I will need even more of Him.
Artificial or virtual twinning, whichever name society prefers, is certainly not for everyone, but it isn’t set apart for super women either. Raising two babies less than five months apart, in two different developmental stages, is going to be hard. I know this. But I also know He is with me. He prepared me for this. He used the weighty wait to create a hunger in me to be broken and poured out into little humans. He was refining me to invest in these little souls; it was God showing me how to teach my boys what it meant to love and be loved well. If I teach these two how to love well, I will have done my job. It’s easier said than done, and I’m not ready to think I know what I am doing. I simply agreed to take this beloved journey one day at a time, and be honest along the way.
There are so many reasons not to virtual twin and I agree with them. Before I knew I was pregnant again, I had an inkling we would live some beautiful, unique story. When our social worker told us we shouldn’t be trying to also get pregnant while adopting, something in my gut said, “But what if we were made for this?”
As we approached our biological baby’s due date, I relished in our time with Sage as an only child. He will hold this spot briefly: five months if all goes well. He won’t remember being an only child either. For us, this was unique and precious. We had a few months to be parent to one, before inviting our second treasure home. We will only experience being parents to one for a few, short months. This is unique and precious.
We don’t know how the story will unfold, how parenting these two so close in age will work out, but we are thankful for the opportunity to do our best. I fully believe that doing my best means constantly stopping to ask questions, listening to others, hearing from adoptees, other virtual twins, and people of color. More than ever, I am learning that loving my boys well meant listening to others who had already lived a story similar to theirs. I will continue to listen for the sake of my soon to be artificial twins.

I want to give a huge thank you to Natalie for sharing her story and giving away a copy of her new book. Make sure you follow all social media outlets for Natalie and fill out the rest of the giveaway entries below.

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NATALIE BRENNER is wife to Loren and mom to two under two. She authored This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the gifts of grief and fullness of life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. You can love Jesus or not, go to church or not: she’d love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a wanna-be runner. Connect with her at and join her popular email list.

Order her book, email her and receive bonuses: This Undeserved Life

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Adoption | guest posting

This Undeserved Life: Part 1

By on September 25, 2017

This two part series from This Undeserved Life is from Author Natalie Brenner. She is a fellow Mom of two babies who were born less than 5 months apart. I am so excited for you to read an excerpt from her book. She has generously offered a copy of her book to one of my awesome readers. So sit back and enjoy the first part of her story.

An excerpt from This Undeserved Life
(May 2016)

Life is weird. It just is, you know? People are weird. People look at me and stare. I’m wearing a Target maternity dress, revealing my rounding body, wearing a tiny Sage against my chest in the Moby wrap. Grocery shopping in Costco is an invitation to comments and questions. It feels like every eye follows me around the produce section. As my body appears more and more pregnant, I guess people stop assuming my belly is leftover postpartum flesh and more pregnant flesh; people started staring. It makes me giggle, really. Loren and I smile and wave. Take a picture, it lasts longer, I want to sass. I often wonder why people don’t just ask, but then when people do they say the most hurtful things or ask the most intrusive questions. I find my jaw drop a lot in shock. It seems to be a lose-lose for us all. I pick through the bell peppers, smiling, when a lady smiles at me and asks how old our son was.  “About 4 months,” I say joyfully.  She responds to my smile with a smile of her own and asks, “And when are you due?” I want to hug her so hard.  “I am due in about three and a half weeks. So, five weeks?” I laugh, knowing full well I’ll go past my due date.
“My daughter is due around that time too! So, did you adopt?” She asks gently with love. She cares. I can always tell when someone is kind and caring, and when they are not.
“Yes! We did. We were privileged to adopt this little one while I was twenty weeks pregnant.” I found the purest looking bell peppers and stuck them in the cart.
“My daughter and her husband tried for several years and endured many miscarriages. She is now in her last term and due in the next few weeks. I am happy for you. Two babies in one year, wow. What a blessing.”
I nod with tears in my eyes. I feel seen and safe. I feel loved. It may be the only conversation with a stranger about having two so close in age that feels so safe. Usually, people raise their eyebrows and say, “You’re going to be busy!” Or, “Oh yeah, pregnancy always follows adoption. People always get pregnant after they adopt.” Or, “Are you crazy?” Or, “You are super woman!” They even ask, “So was his real mom on drugs?”
Some of these are true and some of them aren’t. Yes, I am going to be and am busy; but what parent isn’t? From the beginning of becoming Sage’s mama, I told myself one baby was easy. I made myself believe caring for one baby was easy, and soon we would have two. That was going to be hard. Busy was an understatement, but we were busy when we were building a youth ministry. Busyness isn’t reserved only for mamas of almost-twins.

Come back tomorrow for the second half of this excerpt from Natalie’s book. We will be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader! 

NATALIE BRENNER is wife to Loren and mom to two under two. She authored This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the gifts of grief and the fullness of life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. You can love Jesus or not, go to church or not: she’d love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a wanna-be runner. Connect with her at and join her popular email list.

Order her book, email her and receive bonuses: This Undeserved Life

Facebook Community / Instagram / Website / Twitter / Free ebooks [grief guide + fundraising guide]

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guest posting | parenting | Pregnancy

5 Tips for Preparing your Dog for a New Baby

By on July 6, 2017
tips for preparing dogs for a new baby

I’m Vanessa, mom of one 5 month old cutie named Noah, wife to a very talented media director & music producer, Julio, and blogger over at Dumpy Diapers I’ve been enjoying the past few months as a stay at home mom while on maternity leave, but am currently gearing up to return to my full time job as a teacher of preschool students with special needs. Dumpy Diapers was born of this time I’ve been enjoying with my little guy, as I wanted to reach out and share with others this beautiful sisterhood of motherhood!

Before bringing a bouncing, beautiful baby boy into the world, I was a very happy mom to two precious pups. Our dogs had been part of our family… well, before we even were a family. Our boy, Skillet is 10, and we adopted our little girl Chili, 2, just after our first anniversary. Pets really have a way of working themselves into home & heart, so we knew that making sure there was a positive relationship between them and the new baby we’d bring home was a big priority. I want to share with you some of the things we did that I feel really helped us nurture a healthy bond between our dogs and our baby, that might help you do the same with yours!

Make pet-talk and cuddle time bump friendly.
This might seem a little silly at first, but as highly social creatures, dogs will pick up in your behavioral changes as well as those in your body chemistry and physical appearance as your belly grows. So talk to them about it! Use the word “baby’ and the name you’ve picked out lots while gesturing to your bump. Bring the dogs up close for sniffing. I also worked on “gentle” to teach them not to jump or bare weight on me and baby. Once Noah was born, I continued to use the same terms repetitively, so they would hopefully make the connection. Do I know that they get it? Of course not. But do they seem to? I think so!

Bring home baby’s clothes for hospital-stay sniffs.
While we were stuck in the hospital, my husband would bring home the baby’s hats, onesies and blankets for our dogs to sniff. Because scent is such a big part of a dog’s world, knowing baby’s smell will limit chances that they could feel threatened or territorial, as it will feel less like a tiny stranger invading their home and will create a sense of familiarity.

Give them one-on-one time.
My dogs are not the super cute, baby-loving types you see go viral on The Dodo. They didn’t grow up with Noah. They are now the spurned older siblings, and they definitely get jealous. Yours may be, as well. To avoid your pooches feeling too left out when baby is too tiny for them to be near, make sure to give them extra snuggles, walks and playtime, as well as occasional treats to make them feel special. As hard as it might be not to just lay down when baby is down in those early weeks, invest some time in your pets without your little one. It will make their adjustment into furry siblingdom so much easier.

Little by little.
As baby grows, work with your pets being around and near him. Let them sniff (and lick, if you’re willing) to get to know their new little human brother or sister. Practice gentle petting with baby, and redirect any hair, ear or tail pulling as little one gets more adventurous. You’d be surprised how early your baby can start doing damage (and to your head of hair, too)!

Always supervise.
Even the gentlest of dogs still has animal instinct, so be sure to keep a close eye and stay within arms length when your fur babies are hanging out with your tiny tot.

Our geezer doesn’t care much for his baby brother, but since Chili is younger (and oh so spoiled) she plays hot and cold with Noah all the time. We are constantly using the tips I shared with you today, so I hope you find them as useful as we have! Feel free to share about your own experiences with your pets and babies in the comments below and tag us in your super cute photos @dumpydiapersblog on Instagram. We’d love to see them!

Happy mommin’!

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guest posting | parenting | Summer

Summer: Fun Weekly Themes by Fallan

By on June 10, 2017
Thank you Fallan for giving some fun weekly themes to keep our kids busy this Summer! 

Summertime is upon us and if you’re like me, you must be wondering how to occupy the kiddos to curb summer boredom (trust me, it’s coming) and save your own sanity.

The plan? Weekly summer themes.

Hear me out.

I’m a planner. I work better with a schedule and so do my children. My children have never attended camp because I make summer both fun and educational (I can’t help it! I’m a teacher!).

Weekly summer themes can be incorporated anywhere, even with vacations. It works for children of all ages and with both free and expensive activities. All you need is a bit of planning and some research. 

Let me break it down:

These are the weekly themes I came up with for this summer, with some help from my kids: Zachary, 8, and Oakley, 4:

You can be as specific or vague as you want with your themes. When my daughter was younger, I was broader with the themes to incorporate activities for both age groups. For example, last summer we had a week of transportation so my son could read up on submarines and space shuttles while my daughter learned about the different types of transportation we use in the air, on land, and to sail the seas.

Once you have your themes, now comes the research. With every theme, we go to the library once a week. It allows for quiet time, it’s free, it’s in the air conditioning, and it lets us chose books that help us learn about that week’s theme. We look for both fiction and non-fiction books.

Next, I think about local attractions and events that may accommodate our theme. Some of these are easy, like going to the science museum for science week or seeing the fireworks for the Fourth of July for the week focusing on America. 

But it helps to think outside the box here. You don’t want to necessarily go to the same attractions your family would go to on a regular weekend. I like to find something we rarely do or even something we’ve never tried before.

For example, we plan to try the glass blowing demonstration in Hollywood, as it’s something they’ve never seen and we’ve wanted to try. 

Summer is known for being kid-friendly so flipping through a local parenting magazine, such as South Florida Parenting, or searching online for a few keywords or even on Pinterest, can give you a multitude of ideas for your themes.

I like to look up free or cheap options to help keep costs down so we can often be found free museum days or at local parks with a magnifying glass. You could choose to just do a few weeks this summer.

Weekly summer themes can be as detailed as you want them to be. Have fun and happy summer!
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Disney | guest posting | Travel

5 Best Character Breakfasts in Disney World

By on June 26, 2015

Today I am so excited to welcome Roxie Reynolds from I Heart Dreaming to Guest Post on Perfectly Imperfect Mom today. She is talking about one of my favorite places, Disney World! 

Hello, my name is Roxie Reynolds. I’m a Disney obsessed college student from South Carolina. If you’re also a Disney fan come check out my blog I Heart Dreaming, where you may find anything from “Best resorts for families of 5 or more” to “50 Ways to Make Walt Disney World More Romantic”. You can also find me on Facebook , I Heart Disney Facebook Group, and Twitter

Character meals are one of the best parts about eating at Disney. Children love to meet their favorite characters while enjoying Disney’s famously delicious food options. Breakfast is the perfect choice for a character meal because the excitement and magic will set the tone for the day. Always book your character meals as far in advance as possible. Disney recommends at least 180 days in advance. 

5. Animal Kingdom Tusker House 

If you’re starting your day at Disney World in the Animal Kingdom, consider booking a character breakfast at the Tusker House. This popular restaurant is located in the Africa section in Animal Kingdom at the Harambe Marketplace. At this breakfast you will get to hobnob with Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Goofy and Mickey Mouse. The best part is each character will be decked out in safari gear — fitting outfits for the environment. The restaurant is buffet-style and features a mix of classic American breakfast favorites and interesting African choices. You will find eggs, mickey waffles, quiche, and cereal right alongside basmati rice with lemon, cinnamon and cardamom and a tasty coconut sweet potato casserole. The ambiance is one of the biggest draws. The buffet is found in a “plaza-like” enclosure with colorful cloths slung up in the thatched roof. 
Expect to pay around $18 for a kid’s breakfast and $30 for adults. 

4. Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare

This tongue-twister breakfast is located at the Disney’s Grand Floridian resort in the popular 1900 Park Fare restaurant. If you’re looking for a character breakfast in a sweet environment, this one is for you. The restaurant is fully decorated in a “fancy”, Victorian carousel theme. The room is awash in crèmes, pinks, and golds with impressive carousel statues scattered throughout. Look for the large, elaborate organ called “Big Bertha”. Kids will get to meet and take photos with unique characters such as Alice, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh. The food is classic and sure to please everyone. In the buffet you’ll find an array of fruits, pastries, pancakes, bacon, and eggs, but the most famous item on the menu is the strawberry soup, so make sure you give that a try. 
Expect to pay around $13 for a kid’s breakfast and $25 for adults. 

3. Crystal Palace 

Your morning at The Magic Kingdom Park can get off to a truly magical start with the character breakfast The Crystal Palace. This Disney favorite was designed to emulate an 1800’s Victorian Greenhouse with sweeping white architecture, expansive windows, and plenty of topiaries and tropical palms. You’ll find Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh making their way through this sunny breakfast spot, entertaining kids and posing for pictures. The breakfast is buffet-style and features fresh fruit, cereal, pastries, eggs, and the popular build-your-own omelet station. 
Expect to pay around $15 for a kid’s breakfast and $25 for adults. 

2. Chef Mickey’s 

Chef Mickey’s has always been the most popular character dining destination at Disney, and with good reason: it’s a total classic. One benefit to Chef Mickey’s over some of the other restaurants is that the restaurant serves both breakfast and brunch. Having the brunch option is nice for those days when the family needs to sleep in a little to get extra rest. The characters at Chef Mickey’s are the classic Disney favorites: Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto. Each character is dressed up in chef jackets and hats, which adds to the fun atmosphere. Chef Mickey’s is not a relaxing, quiet breakfast locale. Of all the character meals, Chef Mickey’s is the most rambunctious. Expect lots of laughter, music, singing, and general loud merriment. The décor at Chef Mickey’s is colorful and contemporary, which is perfect because the restaurant is located in the Contemporary Resort right outside the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant is easily accessed by the monorail, which just so happens to run directly through the restaurant. The fare is classic and American. 
Expect to pay $18 for a kid’s breakfast and $33 for adults. 

1. Cinderella’s Castle

The breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle is a unique experience, and quite different from other options. First, this is the only breakfast included on this list that is not buffet style. The price of the meal is higher, but if your kids are interested in Disney princesses, the price is a small one to pay. At this breakfast, children will be greeted by the likes of Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White and Jasmine. Children are encouraged to dress up in their own princess/prince costumes. The venue of the restaurant is impressive since it is located right within the castle. You’ll have views of sweeping stone arches, rich carpeting, medieval style tapestries and flags, and glittering candelabras. The food on this menu is fancier which is befitting to the setting. You’ll find items such as caramel apple stuffed French toast, beef tenderloin and egg, and poached lobster and shrimp. 
Expect to pay around $35 for a child’s breakfast and $55 for adults.

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guest posting | Travel

Guest Post: Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

By on November 24, 2014

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I’m no stranger to air travel with kids.  We took our first airplane ride when our oldest daughter was 4 months old and she’s now been on over 100 airplanes and visited 9 states and 27 countries.  We’re now a family of five and as our family has grown, our luggage space seems to have shrunk and I’ve had to get creative with packing in order to avoid extra baggage fees.

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Traveling in the summer months with kids is a big enough challenge, but traveling in the winter time AND during present giving season presents its own unique challenges!  Here are some tips for surviving holiday travel with kids:
  • Pack light because the clothes are heavy.  Pack clothes for the whole family that can be worn multiple times like jeans and things that can layer and mix and match.  I am always tempted to pack extra clothes for the kids in case of spills and messes but I also know that pajamas tops can be used as emergency undershirts and things that aren’t soiled can be reworn if necessary.
  • Pack all the hats, gloves and coats in a carry-on duffle bag.  This way you’ll have them all handy when you arrive at your destination and need them but you won’t have to manage multiple extra things at security and when boarding/deplaning.
  • Leave the big and heavy gifts for the kids at home. There is no need to lug unnecessary large or heavy items both ways.  Instead, take a picture of the gift for older kids or just a small part of the gift for younger kids to play with (this also helps prolong the holiday excitement when you get home!)
  • Shop when you get there or online and ship ahead.  Instead of buying gifts for people where you’re traveling to, wait to shop until you get there (if you’ll have time) or order the items online and have them shipped directly to your destination.
  • Leave room in your luggage for coming back.  If you’re visiting family for the holidays, you’ll most likely have gifts (or after-holiday shopping steals) to bring back and while you can ship them, I like to have extra room available in my suitcases.  I’ve used a few different strategies for having space including:
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    • Nesting suitcases.  Fill a small or mid-sized suitcase and pack it inside a larger suitcase or pack a soft sided duffle bag in your suitcase which gives you around twice the luggage space coming back and saves you from paying extra baggage fees.
    • Take disposable items you’ll need.  When traveling in the summer I usually have my family pick up diapers and wipes for us but in the winter I usually take enough for the trip (and I always take our favorite snacks and baby food).  Once we’ve used up the diapers and eaten the snacks we have extra room in our suitcase to bring back our new treasures.
    • Use expandable suitcases.  Most suitcases now have an expandable portion that zips out to give you more packing space.  I always leave it zipped up when we go so I’m guaranteed to have extra space coming back.
    • Pack gifts.  Take the gifts you have for your family in your suitcase instead of shipping ahead so you have room to bring back the gifts they give you in exchange.
  • Pack little travel surprises in the kids’ carry-ons.  I like to go to the dollar section of my favorite store and pick up little games, books and craft items to surprise the kids with on the plane.  During the holidays I try to get holiday themed items to help them get excited!
About Melissa Roy:
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I am a full time stay-at-home mommy to three, part time ballet teacher and dedicated author of Beyond Mommying.  I love traveling and sharing the world with my children which led to our decision to undertake homeschooling.  With a first grader, toddler and one in between, my mommying journey is never dull and constantly takes me new places and teaches me more than I ever thought I could know about love, patience and this big, confusing world we live in.  I have a B.A. in Dance Education and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction focused in Early Childhood Education and use my skills and education to guide my mommy life.

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guest posting | Halloween

Guest Post: Throwing the Best Halloween Bash for Your Little One

By on October 3, 2013
Don’t forget to check out my HUGE GIVEAWAY with over $200 in prizes. 

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s finally time to start planning the best parties of the year! While grown-ups will enjoy ghoulish galas and spooky soirees, Halloween also provides the perfect inspiration for a fabulous kids party. Gather the little ones together and plan a fun-filled event featuring lots of pumpkins, sweets, and exciting activities.
Here are a few creative Halloween party ideas for kids to get you started:

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Pumpkin Cupcakes 
No party is complete without sweets, and pumpkin cupcakes will help to create the spook-tastic theme for your kid-friendly Halloween event. Bake cupcakes in your favorite flavor and then let the decorating begin! Use orange frosting as the base, and a small tube of black frosting to draw on jack-o-lantern faces. These are always a Halloween party hit and can also double as a Halloween party activity. If you’re planning to let the kids decorate their own cupcakes, provide a buffet of interesting toppings like black licorice, candy corn, and edible glitter.
Dance Music 
Like any good party, there should be great music to set the mood at your Halloween party for little ones. Here is a list of songs to help create your Halloween mix:

  • The Addams Family Theme Song
  • “Monster Mash”—Bobby Boris Pickett
  • “Clap for the Wolfman”—The Guess Who
  • “The Flying Purple People Eater”—Sheb Wooley
  • “Ghostbusters” Theme Song—Ray Parker Junior
  • “Hedwig’s Theme”—from Harry Potter
  • “I Put a Spell on You”—Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  • “Little Red Riding Hood”—Amanda Seyfried
  • “Thriller”—Michael Jackson
  • “I’m Your Boogie Man”—KC & The Sunshine Band
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Pumpkin Painting
A fun Halloween craft activity is a great way to entertain young guests. Pumpkin painting is perfect for kids because they can paint regardless of their skill level and have a great time. It also makes for a much safer alternative to pumpkin carving since there are no sharp objects involved. Be sure to designate an area for the kids to paint (lawns make great target sites), and lay down plenty of newspaper. Remember to ask parents to bring appropriate painting clothes, or provide smocks for all your young pumpkin artists.
Ghost/Monster Storytelling
Kids love story time, and Halloween has inspired some wonderfully spooky tales. Gather the kids for a bewitching book reading. The story you choose will have to depend upon the ages and maturity levels of the kids at your party. Two crowd pleasers like Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley and Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems are sure to be a hit!
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Party Favors
At the end of your kids Halloween party, send your guests home with a memorable party favor. The party goers can take home their painted pumpkins, but you can also put together little sacks with fun Halloween items like zombie eye patches, skeleton necklaces, and ghost stickers. Don’t forget to throw in a little candy corn for the ride home!
Thank You Cards
Don’t forget to thank your guest with eco-friendly eCard.

Stephanie is the Director of Marketing at Punchbowl, Inc. She blogs about celebrations, party planning, and free digital greeting cards. 

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guest posting | Home Decor

Guest Post: Four Tips For Remodeling On a Budget

By on September 5, 2013

 photo ScreenShot2013-09-05at35350PM_zps370f73f3.pngHome remodeling is a wonderful way to increase the value of your home, but it’s important not to go overboard and spend more than you end up gaining in value. Kitchens and bathrooms are the areas that tend to look dated the fastest, so these are the areas that homeowners are most likely to remodel. Be sure to plan your remodeling project carefully and have a realistic budget before you begin. 
Start Small 
The things that people notice the most in other people’s homes are often the smallest details. Just putting new pulls on your drawers and handles on your cabinets can bring a fresh look to your kitchen or bathroom. The hardware is inexpensive, and most people can change it themselves with little effort. You can install new covers on all your switch plates at the same time to update your rooms in just a few hours. 
Rearrange Your Furniture or Appliances 
Simply rearranging a room can give it a completely different look and feel. It’s difficult to rearrange your kitchen because of the fixtures, but you can give your bedroom, living room or office an entirely different feel by changing the way the furniture is arranged. You may need to store a few things in your garage or outside while you are reorganizing, so pay closer attention to your home security to keep your belongings safe. 
Add Mirrors and Lighting 
One of the biggest complaints that many homeowners have about their homes is the lack of natural light. Adding more windows to your home may be an option, but it is expensive and time consuming. Another option is to add a mirror on the wall opposite every window in your home to reflect the natural light. You can also add more lighting to dark corners and hallways to increase the amount of light in your home. 
Replacing the decor items in your room with a new theme is another inexpensive way to change the look and feel of your home. Be sure to clear all of your old decor items out before adding new ones so that your spaces don’t end up looking cluttered and disorganized. Recovering your furniture or adding new accent pillows also changes the look of the room. A fresh coat of paint and new window blinds or curtains finish the updated look of any room. Repainting a room has a huge impact on how it looks and paint offers a big bang for your remodeling buck.

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guest posting | Toddlerhood

Guest Post: The Big Kid Bed

By on June 14, 2013

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You’re thinking about transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed.  But you’re not sure if you should?  And if you do, you’re wondering the best way to go about it?  
Ask yourself a few questions:
  • Is my child maximizing the weight limit on their crib?
  • Is my child climbing out of the crib, in spite of having the mattress in the lowest position?
  • Is my child pottying at night?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, it might be time to consider the big move outside of the four barriers which keep your child contained during their sleep!
The first suggestion: keep them in their cribs as long as possible. 3 years old is actually a very appropriate age for a transition to a bed. Why? They’re just older and better able to understand instruction, rules and cooperation. Sometimes the transition involves a lot of cooperation! As well, that child will have more enthusiasm for growing up and being a big kid by then. 
The transition can be a lot more seamless when the child is completely on board. 
Here’s some of top tips for planning a seamless shift from crib to bed:

Plan Your Approach: Some kids transition quickly and easily. They’ll see the bed one day and will be able to have a great sleep in it right away. Some will need a big lead up time of weeks or even months before they’ll feel comfortable. Consider the disposition of your child and how quickly they adapt to change and gauge your approach from there.  Focus on building enthusiasm and keeping the experience positive.

Role Models: Older family members or friend’s children who’ve already made the transition are excellent role models. Introduce the idea of a big bed and how “you’ll get to sleep in a bed like this too when you get bigger!”. From there, you’ve planted the idea and can continue to cultivate the thoughts of growing out of the crib and graduating to a bigger bed. 

Sleep Manners: This might be a good time to introduce any “sleep manners” you might have.  Manners are like rules, but with a more encouraging tone. Keep them positive too by emphasizing what your child can do versus what she can’t do: Don’t get out of bed versus lying in bed quietly until we fall asleep. 
Age appropriate choices: Kids are enthusiastic when they get to be part of the decision making. Involve them in selecting a bed, mattress and/or bedding/linens. Being part of the choices helps them feel grown up and in control.  This doesn’t mean letting them loose at PBK and telling them to pick out whatever they want.  It means narrowing it down to a couple choices you could live with and having them select from there.

Safety First: You’ll need to be extra diligent about any hazards in their room. Hanging cords from blinds, window guards (or locked windows), covered outlets, shelving/furniture secured to the walls, remove hazards from closets, etc… They will be able to easily get out of bed and inevitably they will explore. Make sure they’re safe.

Keep your baby monitor. I also suggest locking your exterior doors too, just in case you’ve got a mini Houdini.

Depending on the size of the bed you’re introducing, you might need bed rails if your child moves a lot during their sleep. You can always eliminate those at a later date.

What to Expect: The biggest issue I see with kids who transition to a bed: children who can get out of bed any time they like, and do. Some children wouldn’t even consider getting out of bed (thank your lucky stars if this is your child!). But some can and will give you countless curtain calls. Kindly and firmly remind them of their manners by and lead your child back to bed. Every. Single. Time.  It should improve quickly and the novelty of getting out of bed independently will begin to wear off.
Above all other things, be consistent. As I’m sure you’ve experienced: if you bend the rules, so will they.
Krista is the Founder and Curator of Sweet Dreams at Sleeperific Children’s Sleep Consulting. Sleeperific provides professional advice and custom sleep solutions, helping families with babies and children meet their sleep needs.  You can follow Krista on Facebook or Twitter.

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Guest Post: 5 Ways to Dress Your Best on a Budget

By on June 13, 2013

Five Ways To Dress Your Best On a Budget
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One of my favorite style inspirations is Merrick
Sticking to a budget can be tough work, but there is no reason why you cannot dress well, even when funds may be tight! Here are five ways to dress your best on a budget: 

1. Shop Your Closet 
Before you ever spend a dime, do a thorough evaluation of your closet. Pull everything out and donate what you never wear. (Perhaps you can take your unwanted items to a consignment shop and actually make some money!) Take note of your favorite pieces and put together new outfit combinations. Brainstorm outfit ideas and figure out what you actually need before you ever go shopping. After all, if you shop without a plan you will likely end up over-spending! 

2. Hit Up the Outlet Malls 
When you are on the budget, outlet malls can be your best friend since everything is marked down! We recommend looking for sales offering 50% off or more for the best savings. Planning your trip to the outlet mall around a holiday will usually yield you even further savings. 

3. Shop Online 
You will almost always find the best shopping deals online. For double the savings, most online stores have sale sections and that is where you will find the really good deals!

4. Like Your Favorite Stores on Facebook 
One of the quickest ways to find a discount is to like your favorite stores on Facebook. Brands and retailers often give away coupons to their fans, and some stores often host product giveaways! Plus, liking your favorite stores will keep you in the know about the latest news and new product offerings. 

5. Think Quality, Not Quantity 
One of the easiest ways to dress well is to invest in your wardrobe. In certain situations, you will be better off saving to purchase a high quality item than purchasing something cheap that may fall apart immediately. One high quality blazer will look better than three cheap blazers and could cost the same amount! The same is true for jeans. Designer denim will look better and last longer than cheap denim. 

If you follow these five easy steps you will be on your way to dressing well on a budget in no time!

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