Christmas Shopping for my Kids

It may seem a bit early to be discussing Christmas shopping, but we have less than 100 days until the kids are opening gifts. That being said, I’m not here to talk about how I shop for my own kids. Every year I have at least 10 different people asking me for a list of things/ideas to get my kids. It’s super hard to give out a different list to each person, because my kids do not need that many toys. Everyone wants to get toys for them, when it’s a complete waste of money. I understand wanting to get them something tangible, something that they can see and get excited over in front of you. So, in order to accomplish both I have a few ideas.

1. Experience

This is something that I wish more people did for my kids. If you want to get them something, have it be an experience. Whether it’s a day with you at the park, a trip to a museum, tickets to the zoo (which is still open in the winter), or anything like the above. They love going to places like this, yet it doesn’t happen very often for various reasons. Be the reason that they get to do something outside of their routine.

2. Art Projects

If you want to get them a “toy” get them something that they can create. There are so many different options for both boys and girls of all ages. My oldest is into robots and I found a build-a-robot kit at a craft store. You better believe I have that bad boy stashed away for Christmas. It may not be a fancy robot, but it will get her started on her dream of building them. My toddler loves to paint. Please be mindful of ages, and don’t get a 2 year old, real paint. Crayola has some awesome options for painting with little ones. Or better yet, take them to a pottery painting studio. This will combine the first two ideas into one!

3. Future season clothing

Kids are expensive! They outgrow clothes constantly, and it adds up no matter where you buy from. Give the gift of clothes that they can wear for the rest of the winter or even in the Spring/Summer. Just be sure to ask about sizes first, and be specific with parents. Sizes vary depending on brands.

4. Night Out

This may be more for the parents, but the kids won’t care πŸ˜‰. Give them a gift card for a place you will take them out one evening. Go ahead and get it scheduled with the parents beforehand and you can put the time and date on the tickets/gift card. That way the kids can do a countdown to their big night out.

5. If you must get a toy

There’s nothing wrong with getting toys, in all honestly. But there are a lot of toys that are pointless and a waste that my kids have been given. Many times those items end up at a consignment or donation center before New Year’s or at least before February. Whether you like it or not, I don’t teach hoarding and my kids have learned/are learning that if you don’t use it someone else will. Work with others and get something with many different parts. For example, if the parents are getting a play kitchen. Offer to get the play food, or a table and chairs, or even little aprons and oven mits. Kids love to pretend play, and these are toys that will be used over and over for years. If everyone pulls together to get bigger items, it will cost less for all of those involved.

Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions. Though, remember if you do ask those questions, stick with the answers given. If you don’t like what the parents are telling you, you do not have to give a gift at all. It’s not a requirement to give my kids gifts, and they know that. I remind them every year that Christmas is not about gifts. If you want to get them something but cannot afford anything, slap a bow on your head and come spend some time with them. Just be prepared for a lot of playing! I would like to state that again: my kids would rather spend time with you than get a toy that will end up in the donation box a month after the holidays.

Let’s start teaching our kids that people and relationships are more important than a “popular for the moment” toy.

Happy Holidays

Rachel ☺️

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Things to Remember When Buying Handmade

With the holiday seasons quickly approaching , many people, like myself, are preparing our small businesses for the influx of orders. Craft fairs happen year round, but during this time of year they really take off. Just like the store that I sell my handmade items in. There is a slow season and a high volume season. This is the start of that season. And with that, I feel the need to give some pointers for potential buyers.

Please do not degrade us by complaining of the prices. This is where crafters get hurt the worst. We are not machines, we do not mass produce products while manned by underpaid workers. We make our products in our own homes, not across or even out of the country. Our supplies are not ordered in bulk and shipped to us. We have to drive ourselves (and sometimes our families) to the nearest store to purchase these supplies. The money for the supplies comes from our pockets, not a business account.

Understand that when you place a custom order, you may have to wait more than a week for your item. I try to hold in my sarcastic tendencies around customers. But there are times that I find myself looking for the Amazon logo that must be stamped on my forehead. I literally have had a customer cancel their order because I could not have an entirely handmade outfit on her doorstep 3 days after she asked me to make it!! Again, we are not machines that run 24/7 making thousands of the same product. Each item that I sell, is made by me. No one else.

Understand the difference between quality and perfection. I put my heart and soul into what I do. I love making clothes, toys, and accessories for babies and kids. I will always make these items with care and precision. But I cannot guarantee that there won’t be a stitch out of line or that the print of the fabric will be perfectly centered. I try to create perfect items but again, I’m not a machine.

Buying handmade is fun and exciting because you are getting a one-of-a-kind item. You will not be able to find an exact match anywhere. What’s even better is that you are supporting a local family when you do buy handmade. Read that again, go ahead. You are not lining the pockets of some CEO. You are sending a child to camp, giving couples a date night, adding to a savings account, helping to boost a house- buying fund, or giving a family a vacation that may not have happened otherwise. The point is that you can actually see where your money goes when you buy handmade.

If you feel the need to criticize, walk away. You may not like what someone makes, but you are not the only buyer. I’m not a big fan of Nightmare Before Christmas but you can bet your left foot that I have a plethora of items made with Jack and Sally all over them. I do this because I know that it is a huge market! Even for baby items, parents want things that relate to them for their kids. You cannot find that at a retail store.

If you don’t want to pay for shipping, offer to meet them or to come pick your item up. I personally do not charge a lot for shipping. I make no money off of it, but I won’t lose money over it either. If you cannot shop in the store that I sell at, or come to my house to pick up an item (or meet me somewhere) then expect to pay for shipping. I don’t do free 2-day shipping. I will occasionally have a sale and offer free shipping on orders. If you can wait for one of those sales then great! Otherwise don’t complain, even retail stores charge for shipping unless you come to the store for pick-up.

If you think that you can make an item yourself, keep that to yourself. It’s extremely rude to tell a crafter that you can make what they worked so hard on. Even if you can do it, don’t say it.

Also, do not have the audacity to ask for a discount when purchasing an item. If the items are on sale then there will be a sign stating it. Otherwise, you are paying the price on the tag.

Please remember that the items we make are special to us. We took time away from our families, friends, and housework (not that I’m complaining about that πŸ˜‰) to make these crafts. Many crafters have other jobs, and do this as a hobby. Don’t ruin the spark.

Enjoy seeing what others can make. Let it boost your own creative spark. If you are looking for a perfect gift, ask a crafter. We can help. Even if we send you to a fellow crafter. I will always support my fellow crafters, and many of them feel the same way. Remember to have a great holiday season and enjoy the magic and creativity.

Rachel 😁

Too Blessed to be Stressed

My day has not been the greatest so far. One thing has gone wrong after another, and typically I would let it fester and spill over into my entire day. I then started thinking about how we are trying to work with our 7-year-old on not letting one bad moment ruin your day. How can I teach her to let it go, if I cannot lead by example? In that one instance I started to change my mindset. I started recounting what all I thought had gone wrong, and turned it into a positive.

1. My sewing machine kept eating the fabric I was working with

  • Business is good; I have orders to fill
  • I have more fabric
  • I can easily fix my machine
  • 2. Alexavier kicked his lunch (including red sauce) all over my white shirt.
    • It’s just a shirt
      It washes out; seriously I’ve already cleaned it.
      My son has food in his belly. Something that we often take for granted
  • 3. My plant-based bread was covered in mold (we are still eating to accommodate allergies)
    • It’s just bread
      There’s plenty of food in the kitchen
  • Again:
    • There’s plenty of food in the kitchen
  • There are many times that we take small things for granted and then lose our minds when they do not go as planned. My family lives comfortably within our means. We have never gone hungry, without clothes, or without shelter. We have transportation to get to and from school, work, and our extra-curricular activities.
  • All of the little things that have happened today, do not ruin my day but remind me of those things that I need to appreciate. Just like when my toddler has a tantrum. I just need to wait it out and look forward to the cuddles that occur afterwards. The baby makes messes when eating now because he is happy and enjoys his food.
  • When looking at the everyday messes, the laundry, the dirty dishes, it can be hard to see them as anything except chores that have to be done. Though they should be a reminder of the blessings that we have. That small change in attitude and the way we look at the negative aspects of life can make a huge impact on our mentality, and health in general.
  • I cuddled up with my sweet little 2-year-old, ate my lunch and calmed down my negative feelings. I am ready to start over and get my work done with a much better attitude.
  • Happy Friday!
  • Rachel 😊
  • My Cheap and Effective Command Center

    Where are all my busy families?? Go ahead, raise your hands because we all know that all families are busy. No matter how many kids you have, their ages, or what they are involved in; we πŸ‘πŸ» are πŸ‘πŸ» all πŸ‘πŸ» busy. Getting organized takes effort, and determination. Not only do you need a way that works for everyone, but it also takes money. My family is on a budget, and I do not have the wiggle room to create a Pinterest worthy command center (no matter how fabulous they look).

    For those that are new to my blog, I am a wife to a very busy man, mother of 3 crazy kiddos 😜 and a business owner. My husband has multiple jobs, our oldest is involved in extra-curricular activities. Our two youngest are still going to the doctor every 3 months, and I sell items at multiple locations which has to be kept up with.

    Hey handsome 😘

    I chose our recent move as the perfect time to set up a command center. To do this I had to find what would work best for our family. What all did we need?? We need a monthly calendar, a weekly outlook, and places to set mail and school folders where little hands cannot destroy them. We do not need any extras. I do not need a place for bookbags (we have a hall closet for that), I do not need a place to hang keys (there’s a place for that too), or a place to hang art work that the kids do (there’s a playroom for that). I like simplicity, because it is easy to keep up with and continue using.

    Next, I had to decide how to make it happen. My husband and I found a wall in our main hallway that worked as a central point for everyone. This makes the perfect place for a command center. It’s in a place where everyone can see it and you do not need to go out of your way to look at the calendar. I then went to Dollar Tree. Anyone that is into DIY should know that Dollar Tree is worth a look. I found everything that I needed there and left spending less than $20.00! This included grabbing their version of command strips to hang up everything, dry erase markers, wall stickers for a little extra decoration, and wall art.

    I laid out each item on the kitchen island before hanging anything. I needed to figure out how I wanted to arrange it on the wall. After deciding on a layout, I used a sharpie and ruler to create a monthly calendar on a 14″x16″ frame (I think that was the size πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ). Then wrote out the days of the week on the other seven small frames (these are 4″x6″). I didn’t use colorful paper in the frame simply because I can do that later if I feel the need. For now, all I did was flip the sample picture over. Also, later on down the road if I need to change things up, I can paint the frames. Or just buy a pack of paper and change those out every few months. But who has time for that?

    Simplicity is key

    After using the sharpie to fill in what I would not ever need to change, I picked out six colors in my pack of dry erase markers. One color for each person and then a main color for the monthly calendar/family events. If you choose everyone’s favorite color for your calendar, you won’t need to create a “key” to remember which color belongs to whom. I went ahead and filled out the monthly calendar for September since we only have a week left in August, but filled out the weekly outlook for the last week of this month. All of the papers with our various schedules on them are tucked away in a cabinet. I’ll only need to pull them out once a month now, which is fantastic. Plus, the calendar on my phone helps to keep up with the random dates that I find out about throughout our daily lives. Since I work from home, I can easily add things to the monthly calendar if it is within the current month.

    Our weekly outlook

    Just in the short time that we have had our command center, it has helped tremendously. When my husband calls about an upcoming game, scrimmage, or work event, I can quickly add it to the calendar and make sure that everyone’s schedules work together. I can schedule meetings and drop off days for my own business without having to change things up at the last minute because of interferences. Believe me, it has happened before; I’ve had to take the kids to a meeting that I could not reschedule because I forgot that I would be the only parent home that evening πŸ™ˆ. Electronics only work so long for active kids. Soccer and Girl Scouts do not interfere with each other, and I can easily see where we are going during the week so that I don’t send Aurora to Girl Scouts dressed in her soccer gear. Also, I know what to pack for the little ones, or if I need to adjust nap schedules. Don’t freak out at me for that, if you have multiple kids then you should know that nap time can and does get interrupted. I’d rather do it willingly and still have my kids nap than to have cranky kids that scream the whole outing.

    If you have a lot of schedules to keep up with, I highly recommend a command center. Even among couples without kids or singles. Figure out what you need to stay organized and put it all on a central wall or whatever works for you. Especially since it can be done on a tight budget! Even broke college students can do this. It’s easy, highly efficient, and can be filled out in 5 minutes or less.

    Get creative, have fun, and most importantly get yourself organized!

    Rachel 😁

    Our Big Move

    It has been a whole week since our big move. There were some ups and downs along the way (mostly ups) but I’m so very happy to say that the only thing left to unpack is the random junk that seems to accrue over time….maybe I’ll just stash it away (in a dumpster).

    Last Thursday, we officially closed on the house and were able to take a few things over. The big move, however, happened on Friday; and that’s when everything got really crazy. The movers weren’t supposed to arrive until the afternoon, so we scheduled our security system install for that morning. Well, halfway to the new house, I received a phone call from the moving team…they were 10 minutes from the apartment 😱. Fortunately, my husband and I were driving separately and he was able to go on while I turned around. The issue here is not just the fact that they showed up 5 hours early, it’s mainly that I hadn’t cleaned the new house yet. Not that it was filthy but I wanted to mop and remove the dust that had settled since the previous owners moved out. Plus, there were some last minute items that I was planning on doing that morning before the movers arrived πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ. Things like taking apart the crib since they don’t disassemble or reassemble baby items, and unhook the washer and dryer and all other electronics and of course box up the remaining loose things.

    Guys, it was a mad dash around the apartment. The kids were supposed to be at the new house during the move but instead they were with me. Trying to contain 3 kids while complete strangers take all of your belongings out the door is really difficult. Alyssa (2 year old) kept having a melt down every time they touched any of her things. Although, once I reminded her that it was going to the new house she was fine. Aurora (7 year old) kept trying to ask them questions and tell her never ending stories. Which is cute, until you notice that they aren’t working and you pay by the hour. Then, poor little Alexavier (less than 1 year) wanted to roll around but wouldn’t stay contained in the empty room that was meant for them to hang out in.

    Trying to contain them meant that the last minute items that were not boxed, didn’t get placed on the truck. The moving company did an effective job, but not as I expected it to be. They kept getting confused about things, kept stopping to chat, and left behind enough stuff that it took 2 trips with my SUV and the bed of my dad’s F-250 to finish the job. Plus, while I wanted them to take the boxes (that I had so very specifically marked) to the correct rooms, I ended up telling them to just put them all in one empty room. This happened because they were already going on 6 hours 😣. I was quoted a 4 hour job tops including travel, so that was an issue for me. When it was all said and done, our stuff was moved with no damage at all. And since I wasn’t doing any heavy lifting, I was able to unpack a lot after they left. So, while I was frustrated and stressed more than intended (isn’t it always like that) I was happy to have had someone else move the bulk of our stuff.

    On Saturday my parents and brother helped a lot. We were able to clean out the rest of the apartment. Do the touch ups that we were responsible for and install all the safety items in the new house. It went rather smoothly and Saturday quickly rolled into Sunday. Aurora got up and dressed for church, and really we could have gone but while I had help (my husband was gone a lot during the move πŸ˜”) I wanted to get as much unpacked as possible.

    On Monday, my MIL came down and helped distract the kids. At this point my husband was home as well and we were able to work together to knock out the rest of the kitchen. We even had a date night. It was nice to get away together for a short time. I had been very frustrated with him over the weekend and this helped. Talking about frustrations is a lot easier when you are away from the stress. The margarita probably didn’t hurt either 😁.

    I grew up in one house; my parents built their house when I was an infant and are still there almost 30 years later. I’ve moved into a town home and then to an apartment. Both were rentals, and the moves were simple. Something about moving into a house that you own makes things a little harder. I don’t know why. Then again, maybe it’s just because we have 3 kids and life doesn’t stop simply because you are moving.

    The kids have adjusted really well. The 2 youngest are doing way better than I expected. Neither of them have ever had a room to themselves, and boy are they loving it! Aurora was excited to have a room to herself again, until bedtime and then apparently it was too quiet. But that’s what sound machines are for. We have one in each kid’s room so the whole upstairs sounds like one giant ocean wave. It’s rather relaxing to be honest. Travis and I had an interesting time adjusting to the stairs. Our legs were sore for the first few days of going up and down constantly with the kids. Also, hardwood floors are not very comfortable to lay on. Alexavier still wakes up once in the early morning hours to breastfeed and I end up laying on the floor to sleep the last few hours so that I don’t wake anyone up.

    This morning though, I brought him downstairs to my room to feed him and sleep in my own bed. It was much better! Now that we are at the end of our first week, I’ve started exploring the town with the kids. We have found a really nice playground, a splash pad, and even signed Aurora up for her first sport! She randomly said that she wanted to play soccer and we jumped on it. We made it at the tail end of registration, but it happened!

    The only thing that I still need to really work on is my office. I’ve started setting it up but there’s just so much stuff πŸ™ˆ that I’m having trouble deciding where everything should go. I’m determined to finish it this weekend because I’ve got orders to fill and new items to make for the store. So, hopefully my determination doesn’t get thrown towards something else. Like organizing all the toys in the new playroom…

    Thanks for reading!

    Rachel 😊

    Product Review for 1 Day Color Spray

    My oldest, Aurora, has been asking me all summer to color her hair purple. I haven’t been too keen on doing it because:

    1. She has beautiful red hair that many would throw away their life savings to have

    2. I didn’t know how to go about doing it without spending a ton or having permanent color put in

    My long time hairdresser told me once that you shouldn’t color your hair until you’ve at least hit puberty. Which I agree with. Kids love fun, funky colors and that’s great. But I do not want to damage my kids’ hair simply to achieve that. I’ll wait until their teenagers that “know everything” to do that, so it’ll be their fault not mine πŸ˜‰πŸ˜†.

    A few weeks ago, though, one of my Facebook friends shared pictures of her son’s hair that she had colored along with the product used. It was a cheap spray-in color that washes out found at Walmart. I don’t shop at Walmart often; they have the store set up for you to buy more than intended and I fall for it most times. However, we were there earlier this week for some random reason and I came across the spray-in color.

    There were options for a 1-day and a 3-day. I went for the 1-day since I wasn’t sure how it would work. No need to make something horrible last longer. So, off we went with our spray in color and a super excited girl ready to have purple hair.

    We didn’t use it the day it was bought. I decided to watch a few videos of other people doing it first, to make sure I wasn’t going to mess it up. I’ve never colored my own hair, so I’m the last person to ask about such things. Anyway, I also wanted her to wash her hair before doing this (she washes her hair every other day).

    After preparing myself, and my canvas, the big moment arrived. We were in the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her shoulders. I had hair clips to move her hair around as I did it in sections. The spray actually worked rather well. I was skeptical about it showing up in her red hair but it turned out to be a deeper shade of purple once mixed with her hair color. Anyway, halfway through, Alyssa popped in wanting purple hair too πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ. I sprayed a little on hers, and since she has blonde-ish hair, it didn’t take much at all.

    I only did the tips of their hair. The can says that it’ll take more than one to do an entire head. After it was all said and done, their hair looked great. But everything else was purple. Somehow, purple ended up on the floor which transferred to our bare feet. Luckily it didn’t go past that onto the carpet. But the toilet had purple on it, the potty stool and seat (remember I have a toddler), we weren’t even standing near them either. It was easy to clean though; I used a wet washcloth and it came right up. Then washed my hands and any parts of their necks or ears that may have been sprayed indirectly.

    Throughout the rest of the day, I noticed more issues. While Alyssa was able to run around without transferring purple color to any of the furniture, Aurora was not. Her hair is thicker so I’m assuming it was taking a lot longer to dry. Again though, a wet washcloth cleaned it up. Alyssa did start to turn purple 😳. Her hair wasn’t holding the color as well (I’m assuming) and it was bleeding onto her neck and shoulders. She looked like she had some very traumatic bruising going on.

    Went to Target in our jammies πŸ˜‚ cause we’re classy

    I was able to clean her up pretty quickly before they went to bed. I was tempted to put towels down for them to sleep on but bed sheets are just as easy to wash so it didn’t matter. This morning, after they woke up, I didn’t find any purple on their beds. Instead I found it on their skin. Both of them look like they were in a fight during the night. There’s still plenty of purple in their hair. But I’m not sure how long I’m going to let it stay. After brushing Aurora’s hair this morning, my hand turned purple along with the hairbrush.

    I know that you get what you pay for, and I didn’t expect it to last very long. It is 1-day color after all. But the color has yet to stop bleeding all over the place. It’s not something that I would do for school or any thing. But I am willing to try other options like hair chalk or whatever. I’m just not sure how well the chalk would show up on Aurora.

    This is after brushing her hair almost 24 hours later

    The best thing about it is that we had fun and my girls were/are excited about having their purple hair. The worst part is that it keeps getting everywhere. They know that we won’t be using this form of temporary color again. But, as I said before, I’m willing to try other products in the future. Do you have any to recommend??

    Rachel 😁

    Well…it finally happened

    As a parent, whether you are a newbie or grandfathered in, we expect certain things to happen as our children grow. There are things that I had never needed to worry about with my 2 girls, that I’m now anticipating with my son.

    As a quick side note here: girls can spray pee off a toilet too. Ever since having a boy, people are constantly telling me to wait until he starts spraying pee everywhere. It just makes me wonder if they’ve never had a daughter (or themselves) lean back or hunch while peeing. Cause that mess goes everywhere.

    Anyway, back to my story. My son has brought a new dynamic to our family. He’s so chill compared to our wild girls. I love having a boy to model new sewing projects. And being able to throw a onesie on him to leave the house and no one complains that I’m not slapping bows and other coordinating accessories on my child. Seriously people, girls don’t always have to have frills πŸ™„.

    He also hasn’t fit the typical stereotype of peeing on me at diaper changes. Actually, he’s never peed on me 😱. He has sprayed the wall one time in his 10 months of life, but that’s been it. However, tonight he made a discovery that will forever change him (note my sarcasm here). While getting him ready for bed, I was holding his legs up to place a clean diaper under his tush. During that brief moment he poked his penis, and it moved/wiggled/whatever you want to say.

    That in itself is not a big deal. All kids “discover” themselves and start to get really curious. The part that makes this worth telling is that after his penis wiggled, he laughed. It was super cute and pure…until I fastened the diaper and made his penis disappear. He immediately started crying and actually got upset with me! My super chill, quiet baby boy became an emotional mess all because of his penis.

    The stereotype is true. It’s all about the penis, even at this young age he thinks it’s a toy. And is already attached (πŸ˜‰πŸ˜†) to it after only a few seconds of knowing it was there. I couldn’t help but laugh and just pick him up and say “it’s okay bubba”. It’s a new experience for me, cause girls don’t usually get too curious until they are closer to 2 and even then there’s not much there to be curious about.

    Now I’m wondering how things are going to progress. What am I really in store for here? I’ve been laughing so hard that I’m crying. My husband thought it was funny but not that funny. Maybe I struck a nerve making fun of the situation πŸ˜†. Anyway, hopefully someone out there gets a good laugh out of this. If not, I’ve laughed enough for several people! Have a fantastic night.

    Rachel 😘