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I am a big pusher of sending out thank you notes when receiving gifts. I've been writing the notes from "A", but really feel like it's not personal enough.  So I came up with this idea.  (And yes, it can be a bit time consuming).  I let "A" play with (or wear) his new gift and set a white board next to him with a note about how much he likes it.  Then I print out the picture and stick it in an envelope!  Whalah! A thank you note from "A"

 
 
So my sister was recently the Maid of Honor in a lovely wedding.  She wanted to make flip flops for the bridal party to wear to the mani/pedi's, and after the ceremony.  I thought they turned out so pretty!  

She bought the flip flops at Old Navy for around $5 and the rest of the supplies she got at Michaels.  Here's what you need:
Bride's Shoes:
-  White "fluffy" ribbon.  This ribbon was in the bridal section.  She didn't wrap the ribbon around the straps.  It was so pretty, all she did was hot glue it straight onto the straps.  

Bridal Party Shoes: 
- Satin ribbon in whatever color you want.  My sister chose brown because that matched their bridesmaid's dresses.
- Satin flowers.  These come in a six pack and are hanging on the ends of the aisles.  They were very hard to find, but worth the search.
Again, she used hot glue, but wrapped the ribbon around the straps. Then a dab of hot glue under each flower, and *poof* fancy flip flops!

Flower Girl Shoes:
- Remnants of the bride's "fluffy" ribbon.  These shoes were very simple to make, and the flower girl loved them!!  But what little girl wouldn't love pink flip flops with ribbon??-  Embellishments for the corner of the straps.  You can't really tell in the picture, but she bought a little "I" and "Do" embellishments and glued them onto the ribbon.   
 
 
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1) Buy a plain wood plaque from Joann's.  Or you can cut your own board if you're handy that way. :)
2) Paint the edges and back of the plaque any color.  I chose black because my photo was black and white.  I didn't paint the entire plaque because the picture would cover the majority of it.  Allow it to dry entirely.
3)  Lay down a layer of wax paper and paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on the back of the photo.  Then paint another thin layer of Mod Podge on the front of the wood
4)  Lay the picture on the wood and smooth out with your *clean* hand.
5)  Allow to dry for at least 20 minutes.  
6) Paint another layer of Mod Podge over the entire front of the picture and sides of the wood.  Allow to dry.

 
 
This is a super fun and super easy activity.  
Supplies:
- 1 white coffee filter per child
- Washable crayola markers (I learned the hard way and didn't use washable)
- Either. . 1 spraybottle or 1 eyedropper or cup for water
- Water
- 1 brown sheet of construction paper
- 1 colored sheet of construction paper
- scissors
- pencil or pen

Directions:
1) Trace your child's foot on the brown construction paper
2) Help your child cut their footprint out
3)  Let your child draw a turkey face on their footprint. (You can also use colored paper to cut out a beak and use googly eyes.)
4)  Let your child go crazy with the washable markers and color the ENTIRE coffee filter.
Hint:  You may need to hold the coffee filter while they color it and you may want to put a protective cover on the surface your child is using.
5)  Wet the coffee filter to allow the colors to run together.  You can wet it 3 ways. . 
     1) Use a spraybottle and have your child lightly spray it a couple times
     2) Use an eyedropper and let your child drop a few drops of water over each   part of the coffee filter.
     3)  Have your child wet their hand in a cup of water and spritz the coffee filter.
*Don't drench it!! :)
6)  Allow the coffee filter to dry
7)  Glue the coffee filter onto the TOP of the separate paper.
8)  Glue the footprint on the coffee filter so it's slightly lower.
9)  Have your child draw legs on the turkey.
 
 
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The other night I was CRAVING something sweet, but I really don't keep a lot of sweet things in the house. So I threw together some ingredients I had and I was in sugar heaven!!!  "A" couldn't stay out of it either.
Ingredients: 
- 1 bag microwave kettle corn popcorn
- 1 cup butterscotch morsels (found with the chocolate chips in the baking aisle)
- 2 Tbsp butter

1) Pop the popcorn according to the directions (pour into a bowl and try to remove as many unpopped kernels as you can) 
2) Pour morsels into a microwave safe bowl and add the butter.  Microwave for about 1 minute (stirring every 30 seconds).  
3) Pour butterscotch onto popcorn and mix evenly.
4) Enjoy!!! 

 
 
I have a love/hate relationship with "A's" sippy cups!!!  I love the fact that he can walk around the house with his milk and it doesn't spill (that's the key word. . . spill), but I hate the fact that they LEAK!!  I've tried so many types and been unsuccessful  Ironically the sippy's that have actually worked for us are the 7 year old cups that my friend had saved when her daughter was a baby. And yes I cringe at the thought of them having BPA. 

Here's the pros and cons of my sippy cup quest!
Nuby Gripper Sippy:  
pros:  
- They are contoured to make it easier for little hands to hold.
- Cheap
- The silicone spout is a good teether (bonus!!!).
- The silicone spout is soft on their mouths.
cons:  
- They leak out of the spout!  (I just bought a new set last week. . . I know stupid. . .  and the suction was ridiculous).  As soon as "A" tried to suck , the whole sippy part suctioned in.  So my husband tried to make the air hole bigger, and well that made them leak.  Needless to say, both of those cups went in the garbage!
-  When you take the silicone spout out to wash, you have to rematch these ridiculous little notches.  This sounds easy, but it's not.  I don't know if it's my brain, but I fight and fight with them!

Munchkin Mighty Grip Straw:  One of my fav's!
Pro's:  
- Thick straw makes it easy for "A" to suck, and it works well for smoothies.
- Easy to clean.
Con's:
-  Like other straw sippy's, when the liquid warms up (and expands), it starts flowing out of the straw.  Which in turn makes a mess.  
Playtex Coolster Tumbler: 
Pro's
-  Keeps the liquid cold
-  Stops most leaks (however, lately it's started leaking. grrr)
Con's:
-  The silicone stopper inside the cup has to go in one way and it's incredibly hard to see the little arrow unless you're in good light.

Camelbak Kids:
Pro's:
- Rarely leaks (if put together correctly)
- Easy to disassemble for wash (and dishwasher safe)
- Has a bite valve which really helps with leaks ("A" figured out how to bite it 
at 9 months)
Con's:
- Not insulated
-  And. . . we found out the hard way that you shouldn't use it on a plane.  (We opened it and it squirted water all over the passengers behind us!)
Tommee Tippee Explora:
Cons:
- Super duper expensive!!
- We got the 2 pack and "A" couldn't suck hard enough to get any liquid.  I followed the directions on how to put it together and no luck.  The second cup in the package didn't work either!!  Back to the store they went!!!

Playtex Insulator Twist and Click:
Pros:  
- Insulated so the drink stays cooler longer
- Easy to suck
- Spillproof
Cons:
-  Liquid comes out of the straw when it warms up, and makes a HUGE mess.
-  Expensive
-  4 parts to wash.
(My friends have the spout versions of this cup and LOVE them) 
The Nuk Active Cup!!!
We just recently went on a vacation with our friends who also have a 20 month old.  They were using this cup so I HAD to buy it.  I absolutely love it!!
Pros
- DOESN'T LEAK AT ALL!!!
- Soft silicone spout
- The silicone spout snaps back in easily after cleaning (no matching notches)
- Holds 10 oz.
Cons
- Not insulated
 
 
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So my toddler has turned into the pickiest eater.  One bite he may love, and the next bite, he will spit out (and that's if I'm lucky enough for him to even put it in his mouth).  I worry so much about him getting all the nutrients he needs to grow (even though the pediatrician has told me this is normal and is nothing to worry about).  So I've ended up making him smoothies and he LOVES them.  The best part is, I hide vegetables in the smoothies. I steam and puree these vegetables just like I did when he was starting solids.  Then I freeze them so they can be the "ice" part of the smoothie. "A" gets so excited when I make them for him, he can hardly wait for me to blend them up.  Here are a few recipes for our favorite smoothies.

1 banana
2-3 (frozen) cubes of pureed acorn squash
milk
A few spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt
2-3 strawberries (I usually use frozen strawberries)
1 small handful blueberries
1 small handful oats (you can also use flax seed if your pediatrician ok's it)
Honey (optional)
Then blend, blend, blend!  

You can switch out any of the fruits and vegetables you see listed.  

Another smoothie I tried this weekend turned out to also be a hit!
1 banana
1-2 large chunks fresh pineapple
3-4 chunks of cantaloupe
milk (you can try coconut milk or almond milk if you're not at risk for allergies)
A few spoonfuls yogurt
A few spoonfuls coconut
2-3 (frozen) cubes of steamed and pureed eggplant
1/2 cup applesauce
1 small handful oats (or flax seed if your pediatrician ok's it)
Then blend, blend, blend!

I always feel better at the end of the day knowing that "A" ate so many nutrients (even if this is basically the only thing he "ate" that day).


 
 
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So I made the best trail mix EVER the other day.  I've decided that I can never make it again because it's just too addicting and doesn't help my goal of getting into a bikini this summer.  But it is SOOOOOO good! Here's how to make it:
Ingredients:
1/4 lb white chocolate (I got the block with worked really well)
2 cups Reese's Cereal
2 cups Golden Graham Cereals
1 cup pretzels (I used the Gold Fish pretzels)
1 cup peanuts
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
3 Tbs butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar

- Stir the cereal, peanuts, and pretzels in a large bowl.  
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces
- Microwave peanut butter, butter, and white chocolate for less than a minute.  Make sure you stop and stir it every 20 or so seconds.  (Remember to use a microwave safe bowl).
- Stir the chocolate/peanut butter into the cereal and stir until it is evenly coated.  
-  Dump the mixture into a gallon ziploc bag and pour in the powdered sugar and shake! 

 
 
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Here's a simple favorite for me this summer.  My sister and I used to order Diet Coke with strawberries from Sonic, and so I thought, why not make it at home.? Simply wash and cut strawberries and add them to a glass of Coke Zero.  In the picture I used Coke Zero Cherry (to be honest, I was too lazy to walk to the garage and get a regular Coke Zero) and it actually turned out pretty yummy.  Enjoy!

 
 
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Well I went grocery shopping the other day and found yet another reason I love Safeway.  One employee came up to me and I have to be honest, wasn't looking forward to whatever she was trying to promote.  I thought "my little man is actually being calm, I don't have time".  But then she told me about the best service.  She quickly signed me up for their program Just For U.  You may ask, what is Just For U?  I will explain. . . .

1) Sign up with just your email address and club card at the Safeway website
2) Go through the manufacturer coupons and store coupons and click on "add" to add them to your card.

Yes!  It adds the coupons to your club card! No clipping and shuffling through coupons. When you check out and use your card, the coupons are automatically deducted  It was great.  The employee added the coupons to my card right there in the store and I saved $100! 

Another question you may ask is "how do I remember what coupons I added to my card?" Well, that's another easy solution.  If you have a smart phone, you can download the Just For U app and when you add the coupon to your card, it makes you a shopping list.  If you don't have a smart phone, you can simply email or print the coupon list.

This made me so excited.  I love to use coupons, but haven't lately because it makes my shopping trips so long and "A" tends to run out of patience.  I hope you can save time with this fantastic service!