Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 is coming soon!

Another year is almost over. Which means it's time to start thinking about New Year's Resolutions. One of mine is to get my house cleaner and keep it clean! I can get the house clean when I know that company is coming over, but then after they are gone, it just becomes a mess again. I need to figure out strategies that will work for me in order to keep my house in order. Just recently I was reading the issue of Good Housekeeping with Lauren Graham on the cover. In the article about her, she mentioned a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I looked for it at my library and was able to get the ebook version of it. So far I am loving it! On the first page it says, "Have you ever tidied madly, only to find that all too soon your home or workspace is cluttered again?" *Raises hand* Yes!! That is totally me!! It pretty much explains tidying as consisting of two things: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it. My problem when I clean up and organize my house is that I just worry about where I'm going to put everything. I need to start really looking at things and saying "Do I really need this?" I probably have so many items in my house that I don't need and those items are just taking up space!

So while I'm going to definitely take into consideration what this book has to say about tidying, I'm not exactly going to follow it to a T. It says that you should tidy by category and then go in a certain order. The author says the best sequence is: clothes, books, papers, miscellany items, and momentos. She also says it's a big mistake to tidy by room, but I'm going to ignore that anyway and tidy in my own way. I figure as long as I'm throwing stuff away and putting things that I'm keeping in their proper places, that could work for me.

Throughout the next few weeks I'm going to kick this plan into gear and start getting my house in order! I will be sure to post my progress with before and after pictures!

Monday, December 19, 2016

One more week of Elf adventures!

Can you believe that Christmas is almost here?? It's crazy!! 6 days away!! We had our first Christmas celebration yesterday with my dad, step-mom, and her dad and sister's family. We had a great time! Big E got the Fisher Price Code-a-pillar (which I'm going to enjoy playing with) and Little E got the Fisher Price Dance and Move BeatBowWow. Big E got BeatBo last year for Christmas and Little E has been loving that so my step-mom figured he would love the puppy version of it, and he does!

Well, here are some pictures of Elf from this past week. Have a great Monday everyone!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The first year

Some people may argue with me on this statement, but I'm gonna write it anyway: The first year of a child's life is the hardest! Now my oldest is only 2 so I've got plenty of years ahead of me including the teenage years, but so far, the first year of both my kids' lives have been difficult. One reason it is difficult is the lack of sleep! Little E, my youngest, is now 6 months and he's had plenty of nights where he went to bed at 7:15 and didn't wake up till the next morning at 5 am. He started doing this pretty early on, but it was not consistent at all. Big E, my oldest who is 2 and a half, probably didn't start sleeping for that long until about this time or maybe even closer to a year. More recently, Little E has been waking up at 2 and then sometime between 6-7 am.

Now I know, I only have to wake up twice a night compared to some people out there who wake up 3, 4, even 5 times or more a night! So I could have it worse than what I do. But as we all know, sleep is important and I believe it's about quality, not quantity. I feel a lot better and more refreshed in the morning when I've only gotten up once, compared to 2 times or more. So I definitely can't wait till Little E truly sleeps through the night, every single night!

The first year is also rough because of me breastfeeding him. Now I'm not saying that I don't like it, because I do, I love it! I still find it incredible that the human body is capable of feeding another human being! It just blows my mind. I'm feeding my child and it's 100% free? But that also means that he's kind of attached to me. The only time I can really go out somewhere and not have to worry about leaving him bottles or taking my pump with me, is at night. This past weekend I actually did leave him during the day for a few hours both on Saturday and Sunday. It was probably only the 3rd or 4th time that he ever had a bottle and I was a bit worried on how he would do because the first few times didn't go so well. But surprisingly, he did very well! So now that eases my mind a little bit knowing that he will take a bottle so hopefully in the next 6 months, I can have a few more days like I did this past weekend where I get out of the house kid-free! As a mom, I deserve it! I'm with my kids 24/7 and I love them to death, but every now and then I need a break!

I also have to watch what I put into my body because of breastfeeding. Now I'm not saying that if I weren't nursing that I wouldn't care about what goes in my body, I'm saying that I wouldn't be as restricted. When I get sick, there isn't much I can take without it affecting my supply or having to pump and dump.

I'm not trying to rush the next 6 months, but I will be kind of happy when they are over. Our babies are only little for so long, so I'm definitely cherishing every single moment while they are little!! But I think after the first year, things get a little easier because they are a little more independent and not as needy. But stay tuned, I'm sure in about 11 years I'm going to be saying that the teenage years are the hardest!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oily Wednesday

This week's Oily Wednesday post is going to be a little different. Instead of talking about an oil that I love and how I use it, I'm going to write more on why I love Young Living. As I mentioned in this post, I bought my Young Living Starter Kit right before my little one was born this past May. So I've been using the oils for a little over 6 months now.

People who don't know that much about essential oils may say "I can get those oils at 'insert store name here' for so much cheaper!" That is true, but are you getting the same quality oils from that store as you get from Young Living? The answer to that is no. The FDA has really loose labeling on essential oils so it is misleading for those who know nothing about it. Other companies can label their oil as 100% pure when in reality it is probably just a drop of pure essential oil and the rest is dangerous solvents and fillers. In some stores, you will find their oils in the aisle with potpourri. That should be a big red flag there.

Young Living owns all of their farms and have really strict standards when it comes to the quality of their oils. They hand-pick their weeds, don't use any pesticides, and don't allow any motor vehicles onto their farms. They also invite anyone to their farms and allow them to partake in the harvesting and distillation process. I would love to be able to visit one of their farms in the US some day!

Looking at oils at a health food store or even a grocery store, you will see that they say they aren't safe for ingestion or use on the skin. But yet they say they are 100% pure. Really? If they were truly 100% pure, they would never say those 2 things. You will definitely pay more for Young Living oils than you will for any other brand but that's how you know you are getting the best quality products.

So before you buy that $17 bottle of Frankincense (for those who don't know, Frankincense is an expensive oil so if it is under $70, it's not pure), be sure to do your research. Ultimately it comes down to 2 choices: price or quality. I'm one of those people that is willing to spend a little extra for the better quality. I want what is safe for me and my family and I hope others do, too! Contact me if you would like more information about Young Living essential oils and the starter kit. I'm hoping to jump into the business side of things and share my love of oils with others!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Money Making Monday

This may be my last post for Money Making Monday because I'm running out of ways that I make money from home. But this week I'm going to talk about Shopkick. This one is especially great for people who love to shop! This is an app that you can download on the App Store and Google Play.

Once you download the app, there are 4 ways to earn kicks, or points.
1. Walk into a store
2. Scan products
3. Purchase items
4. Submit receipts

How simple are those 4 things? If you go to Walmart, Target, CVS, Rite Aid, Kohl's, etc, check the app to see if there are any walk-in kicks available or items to scan. You don't have to buy the items, just scan the barcode, it's that easy! 

Once you are at a store, see what that store has under the "Scans" tab. Find those items in the store, scan the barcode, and earn kicks.

To get kicks by purchases, just link your credit or debit card to Shopkick and then at stores that have the credit card icon beside it, use your card as credit and you'll get kicks for that purchase. I think I've only done this once because I forget to use my card as credit instead of debit. I'm just so used to using it as debit that I completely forget!

While looking at the list of items to scan at a store, if you see a pink receipt icon listed with the item, that means you get extra kicks when you purchase that item. After you make your purchase, just snap a picture using the app making sure to include the store name, date, and total.

Shopkick can be a great way to earn gift cards for a bunch of different places like Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Old Navy, and more. You can even earn items such as headphones, purses, and even a kitchen aid mixer! (That one takes 125,000 kicks though, that would take you a while!) But the key to earning lots of kicks and earning them fast, is to make sure every time you go shopping, open up the app! If you don't have the time to scan any items in the store, at least see if you can earn kicks just by walking in. Most of them require you to be right at the entrance to get the kicks. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to Walmart or Target and missed out on kicks because I didn't open the app. So starting now, I'm going to try and remember to open up Shopkick whenever I go shopping! And maybe I will start doing more of the scans so I can earn more kicks!! Go and download Shopkick today!!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Elf Adventures

Well, we're another week closer to Christmas and here is what Elf has been up to...

Our local library did a storytelling of The Polar Express so Elf gave us our tickets!

Elf thought we needed something to help us countdown to Christmas!!

Elf thought that it was time to start potty training again!!

She was really serious about starting potty training! (We did try it for a day but it was too stressful for me and my daughter was just not getting it, so we are taking another break from it, but that's for another post, another day)

Elf had some fun coloring!

Elf couldn't believe her eyes, it was snowing!!

What will our Elf be up to this week? You'll have to come back next Sunday to see! Have a great rest of what's left of your weekend!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Naptime is the best!

It really is! It's the one time all day, besides bedtime, where I can just sit down, relax, and do nothing! Ha, who am I kidding! Naptime is the only time during the day when I can actually get housework or blog work done. See, once both kids are in bed at 8:00, my cleaning duties are done! I don't feel like cleaning that late at night. So I have to either do it while the kids are awake (which can be a pain) or while they are napping. Now that both kids are napping at the same time (for the most part, sometimes my little guy gets up before my oldest), I have more time to myself.

I start out by changing the litter boxes right after I get them both down for their naps. I used to change the litter boxes every other day (or sometimes every 3rd day), but have found that when they get changed every single day, it makes it a lot easier and quicker! So having a set time of day to change them makes me more likely to do it every single day.

Let me back up a little here and show you what I use to keep track of what I'm going to clean around the house and when. I mentioned in a previous post that I started using Young Living Essential Oils right before my little guy was born. Well, while listening to The Essential Oil Revolution Podcast, I was introduced to another blog called The Confident Mom. Every year she posts a Weekly Household Planner that you can download for free! I just went on her page the other day and she has the 2017 one on her site and ready to download!

She also has a supplemental pack for $7 that you can purchase which includes a master family planner, special occasion calendar/gift planner, holiday gift planner worksheet, babysitter information, quick contacts, and much, much more! You can click here to download the planner and/or supplement kit. I have been using this for a few weeks now and I'm definitely going to keep using it!!

What I love about it is that it is completely customizable! You can either start with a blank template and fill it all in on your own or start with the filled in template and add or delete items where needed. I'm telling you, this has really helped! I've tried other check lists to help me keep track of the housework, but this one actually works for me! I like having a visual of what needs to be done and feel so accomplished when I get to check each item off the list! And it isn't like there is that much to do each day. For example, Tuesday I clean all the toilets and then Thursday I clean the bathroom sinks and mirrors. So it's not like I'm cleaning the whole bathroom in the same day. So check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Oily Wednesday

I'm back with another Oily Wednesday. In my first 2 Oily Wednesday posts I talked about Thieves Household Cleaner and Lavender. This week I decided to talk about Thieves. As I mentioned in the Thieves Household Cleaner post, this is a blend consisting of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary.

I use Thieves every single day, on both me and my daughter. This is a "hot" oil which means it may feel hot to your skin, so you definitely want to dilute this oil by mixing it with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or grapeseed oil, just to name a few. So far I have only used fractionated coconut oil but I plan on trying another carrier oil when I run out of my current supply of the coconut oil. You can find these oils at health stores or Amazon, which is where I got mine. Thieves is best known for helping to support a healthy immune system so every night before bed, I take my daughter's roller bottle (filled with 2 drops of Thieves and the rest carrier oil) and rub it on her feet. Then in the morning I put it on my feet (although my roller bottle has more drops of Thieves in it) and on my daughter's feet. I put it on more often during the day when needed. The feet is a great place to apply oils topically because they are less sensitive than other areas of the body and the pores on your feet allow the oils to be absorbed more quickly. Another place I like to apply Thieves to on my daughter is her spine. Side note: there is a lot of controversy on the use of oils and kids, use your own judgement when it comes to this. I have read that Thieves is not recommended for use on children under 18 months. But again, it is up to you on whether or not you want to use essential oils on your children. Just make sure you are using a good quality oil such as the oils that Young Living sells.

This is also a great oil to diffuse in a diffuser to support the immune system. Today I had it in my diffuser with some drops of Christmas Spirit and it smelled wonderful! If you want your house to smell like it has been freshly cleaned (but it really hasn't been), then Thieves is the oil to use!!

Young Living also has a line of oils called Vitality. Young Living oils that have this label on it means they are safe for proper internal use. I haven't tried the Thieves Vitality yet, but it is suggested to put a drop of it in your morning juice, tea, or coffee for a flavor boost. You can also add a drop to your oatmeal, granola, or other cereal. Even just adding it to a cup of warm water or milk will help your immune system.

Thieves is definitely an oil I never want to be without, especially during the cold months!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Diapers, diapers, and more diapers!

My oldest turned 2 back in June and she still wants nothing to do with the potty! The week after she turned 2, with the help of my wonderful aunt, we tried to work with some potty training. We got her some of these:
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and put her on the potty every 20-30 minutes. Well, she wasn't able to tell us she was wet because we noticed little puddles around the house. And most of the time, it was my cousin that found them, poor thing! We only had 3 of the training pants at the time so I had to wash them quite a bit that day! The other day I was at a local kids consignment store and found a pack of waterproof pants to put over the training pants. I'm going to go to Walmart soon to get her more training pants and then using them and the waterproof pants over top, we are going to give this potty training another go! I'm really hoping she will start to realize when she wets herself and not like the feeling so then she will want to go on the potty. So once I get to Walmart and get her the training pants, she is going to be wearing them all day when we are home so hopefully we can say bye-bye to diapers!!!

Leave me a comment and let me know if there's an awesome potty training tip that worked for you! I'm hoping to get her out of diapers soon so then I only one in diapers! I started saving money on diapers by buying them in bulk from, but it is still expensive and will be so nice once she is potty trained!! Have a great day!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Money Making Monday

I forgot to write my Money Making Monday post last week but I'm back again this week with another way that I make money while staying at home. In case you missed my first 3 posts about how I make money, here is the one about Quick Thoughtsibotta, and Receipt Hog.

This week is similar to my previous post about Receipt Hog. It's called Yaarlo. There are 3 ways to earn money through this app, available on both the App Store and Google Play. I have only explored one way so far, scanning receipts. Like Receipt Hog, you can scan your receipts and earn money. I joined on August 24th of this year and so far am only up to $4.62. So this one, like Receipt Hog takes a while to earn money with it, but it eventually adds up. I already scan my receipts once a week to Receipt Hog so I just upload them to this app. This app is a little easier to upload because all you have to do is take a picture of the receipt and hit upload. Receipt Hog asks you who was with on the shopping trip and then asks you to rate your trip.

There is also a "Gift 'n Earn" section on the app. You can buy gift cards for you or as a gift and earn cash back. Again, it isn't that much, but it eventually adds up. It varies by store on how much cashback you earn per gift card, but from what I saw when looking at it, you can earn from 1-5% cashback from buying gift cards.

The final option is "Shop 'n Earn". This is like Ebates, where you earn cashback on your online purchases. So before you buy something online, open the app and see if the store you are buying from is on the list. If it is, then make sure you click on the store through there so you can earn cashback. You can also go to their website on your computer and click on the link through there. I will be buying our holiday cards from Shutterfly soon and when I do, I'll be earning 4% cashback from Yaarlo!!

So go check out this app for yourself and use my referral code NICOLENE390. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas is near!!!

Happy December!! Only 21 days till Christmas!! It will be here before we know it. Christmas is always a busy time of year for us and this year is no different. Today my husbands work is having a Christmas party for the employee's kids and next week is the party for employees and spouses. The week after that we go to celebrate Christmas with my dad, step-mom, and step-mom's sister's family. Then comes Christmas Day which we will spend with my husband's family. Then in January we have 2 more Christmas get togethers, more of my husband's family and more of mine.

Since we have so many extended family members, I'm so glad that we don't have to try to see them all in one day. I remember one year that my husband and I were dating, we went 3 different places in one day for Christmas. And we ate a little bit at each one! Now that we have kids, we are definitely not going to go more than one place on Christmas Day.

Have you heard of Elf on a Shelf? If not, check it out here. Our elf, whom my daughter named Elf (so creative, I know!), came to us about a week ago. My daughter still doesn't know what to think of it, but I'm sure she'll be more into it  next year! Here is what our elf has been up to so far! I will try to remember to do one post a week to update you on the fun Elf has had!

Be sure to stay tuned to see what Elf does next! Have a great rest of your weekend everyone!!