Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nursing Friendly Dresses-They Do Exist!











Any other nursing/pumping moms out there feel like it is very hard to find cute nursing dresses that aren't actually maternity? I wanted easy to use, comfortable dresses I could nurse and pump in and I didn't want to pay a fortune for them. So here are a few that I personally own and have fed a baby in!



This Jersey Swing Dress doesn't look like it would be easy to nurse in but it is stretchy enough that you can easily pull down the neckline. Keeps you discreet and comfortable. This is a shapeless dress which normally I wouldn't like as much but being five months post partum it is perfect for hiding the lingering belly! Style it with sandals in the summer or transfer into fall with a denim jacket and Converse. And the best part? It's under $15 right now! (and definitely have your significant other take an awkward picture of you standing akimbo trying to figure out why your son is shrieking in delight like I did here). 





This dress from Target. Ok, technically it's Juniors, so maybe go up a size (I did and I wish I had gone up one more). But it buttons up and makes it really easy to just unbutton a few and nurse.  The straps are wide enough that you can still wear a bra (for me that is essential because I require nursing pads daily). Throw on some booties and a cardigan and you can easily use this in more than just the summer but it's perfect on it's own too. If you hurry over, it's only $19!



While you're at Target, go ahead and pick up this one too.  If you're following on Instagram, you may have seen this post.  This dress was perfect for going out with the baby because of that gauzy stretchy top that I could just pull down. It looks really cute off the shoulders, but I pulled them up so I could wear a bra. Best part: pockets! I should have gone up a size to accommodate the milk let down (and by that I mean nature's boob job that happens about every two hours!) but you may want to try it on so you know the length will be ok if you do go up a size.  Oh and guess what? It's $30 and comes in two adorable patterns.

Every so often I like to splurge and order a Stitch Fix box. Sometimes they hit it out of the park and sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they don't. But this past box I asked for nursing friendly when possible and they nailed it with this dress. USA made, easy to wear, can be used in all seasons and under $50! Haven't tried Stitch Fix but want to? I say go for it! Sign up and create your style profile and you can even link your Pinterest to give your stylist ideas of what you like and your Instagram so they can get a feel of who you are and cater to your lifestyle even better. It can get expensive but the quality is great and it's a nice treat every so often!  





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5 Ways to Make & Save Money This Month

Now that we are a family of five plus two dogs, I am always looking for more ways to save money and cut costs. We are working the Dave Ramsey baby steps (though I admit I've been lazy with it lately) and every little bit helps towards the ultimate goal of paying off those pesky student loans.



I do a lot of things throughout the month to cut down on expenses and save money, but here are just a few of the things I have done so far the past couple weeks (and my apologies that this is a long one):

1. Purge the house of clutter! Whether you're looking to donate items, toss them or sell, this feels so good once it's done. The process is daunting, but by tackling one room or space at a time you can really start to feel the progress. One effective things to do is to take everything out of a room and enjoy the empty. You're probably less likely to fill it right back up once you've seen the calm of an empty and clean space.  I suggest starting with a closet, yours or a kid's. Be sure to order a ThredUp Clean Out Kit  and fill it up with quality clothing items you're done with.  Since I began sending items into ThredUp, I've made $342.43! If it doesn't fit, isn't worn, or you just plain don't like it, get rid of it. You can consign with a local consignment shop, send into ThredUp, have a yard sale, post on Instagram or a Facebook group. Or there is always eBay.  Whatever avenue you take, you'll be amazed at how much you can make on items you aren't using. And it will feel so good to have a clutter free space.

2. Start a Coin Jar: this might sound odd, I know. But we recently started a family coin jar and everyone puts their loose change in. The kids have the option of adding their pennies and coins to it if they want but they don't have to. We told them that when the jar is full we will roll the coins (with an awesome coin roller) and when we eventually save enough money we will take a trip to Disney. This has worked as motivation in so many ways. It gets us to use cash instead of the debit card (that always makes me watch my purchases more) because we look forward to the change. The kids are less likely to ask for things at the store because I keep reminding them of the jar. Everyone is working towards a common goal and it makes us stop and think about our purchases and also motivates us to literally save our pennies.  Just the other day my kids stacked wood for their Papa and were paid in coins and you would have thought it was Christmas morning they were so filled with excitement.



3. Join iRazoo: I know what you're thinking. Another survey company, come on, Amanda! But iRazoo is different. The idea is basically the same, do some surveys, earn some points, get a reward. In their case, you can earn gift cards to Amazon, Target, Home Depot and so many more places. This obviously cuts down your household expenses but also passes the time if you're waiting at school pickup, pumping or nursing, at the doctor's office and there is a long wait, waiting for a flight, you name it! Do a quick five minute survey, rack up some points and boom! You're on your way to a gift card. They also have a great Refer a Friend program where you can score some major points and get even closer to your rewards goal. They are very user friendly, have a excellent help team and don't have a million pop-ups attacking you as you're trying to earn your points.  So next time you're aimlessly scrolling Facebook, do a survey instead and you'll really be making your time worthwhile.

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4. Join Stitch-Fix: Ok, this one I bet you're really thinking "you want me to shop to save money?" but hear me out! I get a Stitch-Fix box every quarter and I look forward to it so much, it actually helps me not to shop in between fixes. Knowing there is a fun, surprise, hand picked box of great quality items headed my way makes me empty my Target cart of wardrobe purchases I'll likely get sick of in ten minutes. New to Stitch-Fix? Not a problem! Here's the run down: you make a style profile, tell your stylist a bit about yourself and what you like and more importantly, what you grossly dislike. You can provide them with your Pinterest where you can have a style board and also your Instagram so they can get a sense of who you are and what you like. This helps a ton when they are picking things out for you. A stay at home mom like me doesn't need work pants and blazers, so they don't send that to me. I recently asked for my box to be nursing friendly and was so happy with what they sent. I also learned a couple weeks ago that their customer service is great. I get really excited when my box is set to arrive and I was disappointed when I received a box with a personalized letter to Teresa, not me!  It was all my size so I tried it on anyway and ended up buying a cardigan from it so it turned out ok. They sent me a new box and credited my account the style fee and they were wonderful about the mix up. But be careful here. Don't just buy the items because they're in your hand. Try them on, feel them. Keep what you absolutely love and what has a place in your wardrobe. And if you happen to love all five items, you get a 25% off discount. What are you waiting for? Go make your style profile now! 

                                           Image result for stitch fix

5. Ask Other Moms: As a general rule thumb, if there is a baby item I need, I usually ask my mom friends, mom group or consignment shop before buying new. Especially with this being my last baby, I don't want to spend a fortune on things.  I recently bought a new stroller at Target and didn't like that it wasn't a system with my car seat so I asked my mom group if anyone was selling one and immediately found one. I got a great deal on a barely used stroller and another mom got some cash in her pocket. Now I'll be selling the original one I had so the circle continues! My sister is so good at consignment sales, she's like a thrifting goddess. But here is where it gets tricky-do not, I repeat DO NOT just buy all the second hand things because they are good deals. Don't do it. If you don't need it, or already have it (you don't need seven baby plat mats) just put it back. A deal doesn't mean you have to have it. Someone else will need it and scoop it up. You aren't looking for clutter or bad quality. You're looking for the same item you'd buy at Target only at a discount and from another family who will benefit more from your purchase. And to go back to number one on this list, when you're done with it, especially baby gear, sell it. It's a win win.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

I'm Back, Baby! (Like, literally, I had another baby)...

Hello, my friends! I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything over here but I promise, I have a good reason.  In February we welcomed our third baby, a 9 lb 2 oz bundle of snug named Mira Jolene.  If you're following on Instagram (@KnaptimeKnitter if you're not and you want to-you totally want to) then you've likely seen my baby spamming...


A lot of people ask me about transitioning to three babies. So here's my breakdown: zero to one is the hardest ever. One to two, you learn you can juggle, and that's a necessary skill.  And then two to three, for us at least, has been the easiest transition. Mira is a very patient and wonderful baby, and she has taught us all to be more patient too. I think also, as we have more kids, we get more confident in what we are doing and that helps a lot. Seriously, you're doing amazing. Keep doing it.

Mira slid right into our family in such a way that we can't remember being without her. I know that is said for all babies, but I found this to be the easiest one. She's our last baby so I can't speak to any more than three.


Now, don't get me wrong here. It is hard. It is very very hard. We are a military family, and where I am thankful we don't lose my husband to deployments (not yet anyway), he is often traveling for work or at military schooling.  That leaves me grossly outnumbered a lot. My juggling skills come in very handy these days! To all you moms out there with one kid, or 10 kids, I'm thinking of you as I'm walking around with bags under my eyes, chugging coffee, wondering how I'm going to make it to bedtime. No matter how many babies you have, one thing remains the same: it's worth it, all this hard work and fatigue. Because they are just amazing.

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I get asked a lot of questions (which, honestly, makes me feel honored because I'm still learning my way around this mom thing), so if you have a question, please feel free to email me! Just fill out the Contact Me info and leave me a message. I love hearing from you and I'll do my best to answer them for you. oh, and don't forget to add yourself to the email and/or follow the blog so you'll know when I have a new post up. I promise you, I won't let months go by. But I also won't spam you. A happy medium, perhaps?




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Target Beauty Box (Who Knew?)



Recently, I was visiting a friend of ours and sitting at her kitchen counter I saw a fancy looking black box with a Target label on it.  I had to open it! There it was, a box filled with all sorts of fun beauty products in both sample and full sized packaging. I asked her what the heck this cool thing was and she told me about Target Beauty Box.

So here's how it works. Target puts out a Beauty Box each month and it's just $10 and free shipping, available online only.  Pictured above is the September box (photo is from the Target website), and the first one I had the excitement of getting. I was really happy to see it included sample and full sized items and from what I've tried so far, the products have been great. My favorite so far (I haven't tried them all yet) is the Biore face wash. My pores are very happy.

Something I really liked about this beauty box in comparison to others that are available out there is you don't need to subscribe to anything.  Each month they will email you letting you know the new box is available and you can see what's in it and decide if you want to order or not. 

So to sum up, here's my experience:

The cons: it isn't available all month (this September one is unavailable now).  Jump on it if you want it when it comes out! Also, the lipstick was way too dark for me, but that's more personal preference so I only count this as a partial con.

The pros: A fun way to try new products at a great price, and no pressure to buy it every month because it isn't a subscription.

All the details on this month's box and where find them is here.  I will definitely be ordering again next month.

**this post is not at all sponsored by Target and all opinions are my own based on my experience**


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Free Coloring Pages




My daughter is a Daniel Tiger fanatic.  She recently got into coloring and asked for a "Tigey coloring" so I looked around and couldn't find any.  I eventually saw some on Amazon but they were expensive so I decided printable would be just the thing we needed.

If you head on over to PBS Kids you'll find a bunch of fun coloring pages that you can print for free.  Best part is you don't have to download anything, you just print right from the page.


 
 


While you're on PBS, be sure to check all the other cool things they offer.  My son enjoys the games they have, there's loads of coloring pages, videos, and a place with information for the parents, too. The PBS Parents Page is really helpful, filled with meal ideas, milestone information, birthday ideas and so much more. 

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Road Trip Essentials

Lately it seems we have been in the car every single weekend and our calendar doesn't seem to be slowing down.  Our families are both four hours away in opposite directions, so we travel a lot to visit friends and family.

The past few weekends we have gone away on weekend trips, one to Maine and one to Boston have learned from past mistakes and successes that we need a plan and a checklist when traveling.  Here are some of our essentials when hitting the road.

 (York, ME)

1. Snacks-do not leave the house without snacks, even if you're traveling alone.  Being gluten-free, this is especially important. Some of my go-to travel snacks include:

-cheese & gf crackers
-veggies like carrots, cucumbers and celery
-apples and peanut butter 
-cheese sticks
-rice cakes
-grapes & other fruits

2. Water-pack a bunch of water.  We use Nalgene bottles and I pack one for each of us. This saves so much money and prevents a million stops when people get thirsty.

 
(Freshly out of a 3 1/2 hour car ride to Boston)

3. Music-I don't know about you, but music is a must for me.  We do audio books sometimes too, but I like music and I like variety. As you can see by my Spotify Playlist, I enjoy variety maybe a little too much, but songs that are throwbacks for you, good sing alongs, or just that song that you hear and think, "wow! I'm so happy this song came on!" are songs you should add to your list. 

My playlist is a collection of some of my old faves and nostalgic songs, mixed in with a few newer ones that I've been enjoying. Yes, you'll find Underoath and also Justin Bieber and some Hanson. Bayside makes an appearance twice because they are my favorite. In any event, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Aubree, if you're reading this, Mariah was for you.  Alyce and Bec, I don't have to tell you what ones were for you.  It's a long list but I know I'm forgetting some, so I'll likely be adding to it as I think of them!





4. Cash-don't forget to grab cash before you leave so you can avoid the ATM fees and having to stop for some if you encounter a toll you forgot about or just in general needed some cash on hand.  We've made this mistake before and it gets expensive.

5. A reliable car-this sounds like a no-brainer, right? But believe me, we've packed up the car and headed out on an adventure and had the "oh crap" moments of cars breaking down.  Our transmission went once. It was the worst.

If you're taking your own car, do the run down of tires, oil check, gas check, wiper fluid, all of it.  You'll be happy you did. And if you are a AAA customer, be sure to grab your card!

If you're renting, be sure to check out the CD player too, especially if using a rental company like Turo.  You might just find a surprise playlist!  Turo is a really neat car rental option where you rent from a person, rather than a company, essentially the Airbnb of cars. It's a great option too if you want to make a little money off you're car too and they have ways to save when parking at airports as well.  To find out more about Turo, you can go here.



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6. Entertainment for the Kids-We don't do movies in the car, but we try to bring supplies to keep the kiddies entertained.  Generally speaking, they are fantastic in the car, but our two year old gets a little bored sometimes. We pack books, coloring supplies, all their favorite stuffed animals and let them choose four things each to take with them in their own backpacks.  They love to pack their bags, and the rule is, if it fits it can come. If it doesn't, it stays home.

7. Your Knitting!-If you're a yarner like me, do not forgot your projects!  I usually bring my current one and a spare just in case we get stuck in traffic or something and I get some extra time on my hands.  

Do you have any Road Trip Essentials?  Please share them! 

And if you want to see more of our adventures, follow on Instagram @KnaptimeKnitter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tips on Starting a Household Clutter Purge

I have been on a serious house purge these past couple months. So far, I have donated NINE enormous black grocery bags filled with random things from the house.  I've sent out THREE bags to ThredUP in the past two months. Dropped things at consignment shops, given things away, and eBay'd some items.

This is all part of my master plan to declutter our lives, and bring in some extra cash. It all started when I had a meltdown recently after stepping on things that I swore I had just put away (ahem, Legos).  I was sick of spending my day picking up clutter and trying to find homes for things I really didn't care about.  I knew something had to be done, and I stopped thinking about and just started doing.  Opperation Declutter and organize was in full effect.



When picking up an item to contemplate getting rid of, ask yourself the following:

-does this make me happy?
-am I keeping this only because I bought it and I'll feel bad for just getting rid of it?
-will I even notice this is gone?

The first is easy. No joy, you don't keep. The second is a toughie and I've been there. But at the end of the day, don't keep something just because you bought it. It made sense at the time, and oh well, you've change your mind. You're forgiven. We've all done it. We learned our lesson. Get rid of it. 
And last, the answer probably is: you won't miss it.  Ask yourself: why am I keeping this?  The answer should tell you whether or not you should be. 




Here's a few things I did to get started, and I tell you, it's so much easier to purge your house of clutter once you donate those first few bags.

1. Get a garbage bag or a box and put it in a location where everyone in the house sees it.  For us, this is by our front door.  I wanted this donation bag to be in the way so everyone remembered it was there.  This served as a reminder that clutter is in the way, and also to encourage everyone to donate things as they saw them.

2. Start in one area of your house.  I started upstairs in my son's room.  Go through EVERYTHING. If you don't have time for a deep clean/purge, no worries! Only look on surfaces.  If it's toys cluttering up your life, pick some to donate, sell, or put in storage to rotate later.  If you pick it up, or your child does, and no one has a positive from it, it goes! Broken or missing pieces? Goodbye!  One trick for doing this with kids is to go in like a ninja when they aren't looking. I emptied an entire toy box of my son's stuff and put it in the basement.  I thought he would notice. He didn't.  He never asked for anything specific in there and when I showed him his new, decluttered room, he actually said, "wow! Look at all my toys!" It was like Christmas when he saw all the toys he had forgotten about because they were buried under clutter. 

3. Decide whether to donate, give away, sell or keep. If you want to donate, throw it in the donate bag!  Keep your friends in mind when you find something to get rid of. I found a pack of diapers we didn't need and gave them to a friend along with a few other baby items I thought they might want. Have a cute shirt your friend would look great it, that you don't wear anymore? Give it to them!




If you have something of value, consider selling it. This takes a little more time but is worth it.  I sell clothing on eBay all the time. If it's clothing, check around for consignment shops too, and make an appointment to drop things off to sell.  EBay of course is a great place to sell anything, Facebook swap groups is awesome for kids/baby items.  Kidizen is an awesome app for selling kids and baby clothes.  There are so many options and you can make a little cash doing it.  My breakdown for the last month alone was:

$25 from ThredUP
$37 from the adult consignment shop
$25 from eBay
$10 from Kidizen


I promise you, once you sell even one item and realize there is cash in your clutter, it will motivate you even more.

4. Get the donation bags out of your house! I bring them a few at a time to the donation bin and it always feels amazing.  I usually just toss them in the bin, but you can also donate to local churches, Goodwill, thrift stores.

5. Keep up on this! I found that once I started, it was easier to get rid of things.  And I'm not saying get rid of everything you own. Not at all.  But I am saying, if it doesn't make you happy or have a home, you don't need it.  The less you have to pick up, the more time you have for other things.  We are still in the beginning stages of this.  The garage needs a purge, as does the basement.  But it's ok to start slowly!  Even getting rid of one item is a start. 





When you start this process, it is overwhelming.  That's why I suggest starting in one place and diving in.  But you can also do it by item as you find them.  Say you are in the living room, and you see a pillow that always finds it way to the floor. You pick it up, curse that damn pillow and put it back on the couch.  Five minutes later, there it is again on it's migration path to the floor.  This time when you pick it up, ask yourself: does this pillow bring me joy? Why am I keeping it around? Does this serve a purpose other than to irritate me?

Much like our cluttered houses, this post has a lot of information coming at you, and if you read it all, you really mean business and you're ready to go!  So get your garbage bags, and get ready to purge.

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