Wednesday, June 27, 2012

10 Tips and Tricks for Summer!

Ahhh, summer. How I love thee.  Warm days, cool nights and three glorious months off.  Here's a list of Tips and Tricks that can help this summer- or anytime you need em!

1. Emergency Contact Information Stickers for Car Seats.  I pin alot of stuff- hey a girls got to do SOMETHING during nap time- with the intention of getting to it.  This I did right away. With summer coming, I know we'll be traveling quite a bit and in case something happens where I cant communicate I want them to know how to get ahold of family ASAP so someone can come take care of Grayson.  Its pretty simple, print out all of the important info (name, birthday, address, phone number, allergies, etc) on a piece of paper and use a nice piece of packing tape to adhere it to the car seat. This idea came curteosy of the super funny blog Dont Pat the Belly.  Momma G keeps me in stitches with the posts $#*! My Three Year Old Says.  If you need a good laugh, check her out!

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Image Via Dont Pat The Belly

2. Sparkler Shield! Hello, genius!! Shauna from over at Love 2 Dream, Do You came up with the perfect solution for little ones who love to hold sparklers. The answer- a simple Red Solo Cup. Simply poke a hole through the bottom and feed the sparkler through-no burns! You can bend the wire if you're worried about little ones pulling the sparkler through. And dont worry, Shauna tested the cup and as long as the lit sparkler is not placed inside the cup it will not melt!

3. Gwen from over at Gwenny Penny gave me an idea for Grayson Boy's birthday party- and one that we can all use all summer long. Reuse a laundry detergent container for that handy dandy bubble refill station. No having to go out and buy a new container and it keeps the bubbles going all summer long!

4. Kim over at All Things Simple shares some valuable info for traveling with kiddos. One of the best things on the list is for packing their clothes. Pack one complete outfit, clothes, socks, undies, hat, hair accessories, etc. in a zip lock baggie. Then when you get to your destination you can put them in a drawer and pull one out per day- no more rummaging around in a suitcase!  This would work well whenever kids are going anywhere- esp if you are not going to be with them and they need everything in one place to get ready quickly!


5.  If you remember back to my post on Fathers Day I said we went hiking. Well I used all of the bug spray on the boys and missed a leg- biiggg mistake because my right leg came home COVERED in red, itchy bug bites.  Michelle over at One Ordinary Day said to try rubbing a bar of dried soap on them- and that worked great! The pharmacist I talked to also said to try some Preparation H on them.  Apparently whatever is in there works wonders and kept those babies itch free all night long.  If you dont want to be seen buying hemorrhoid cream, Id try the soap first.  Lucky for me, I got a tube in my hospital goodie bag and it was just hanging out in the bathroom cabinet.

6.  Summer is the time to clean out the closets around our house- and this year I will definitely be using Erica's tip from her home design blog Tart House. I tend to have alot of a whole lot. Its bad.  Currently my purses are all in their cloth bags sitting on some shelves in my closet- but as of next week they will all be hanging up nice and pretty with shower hooks!  (PS- how amazing is that shoe organization as well? I only wish my closet looked this nice!)

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7. One of my fave things to bring back from any trip is booze. A good bottle of wine, a bottle of tequila from Mexico, delish new vodka- Im really not biased. However I do want to avoid looking like a raging alcoholic on an air plane by having it break in my suitcase and having to do the walk of shame through Pgh International smelling like hooch. So when I saw this from Real Simple I was super excited- wrap bottles or breakable objects with kiddos inflatable pool floaties!

Use kids floaties to pack wine bottles

8. Another summer travel must is the umbrella stroller. Sometimes its just not practical to drag the Travel System somewhere, and that lightweight little stroller is just what the doctor ordered.  However, the absolute worst is the fact that the stroller is so light that if you try to hang your diaper bag on the back without the baby weight in it- it falls right over.  Well, not anymore. Courtesy of Real Simple- wrap those ankle weights we all have lying around to the front bars right above the wheels.

Ankle weight on a stroller wheel

9.  If you're like me, sometimes your hair gets greasy in the summer. Its lovely mix of sweat, sun screen, bug spray and salt in the air that gives me this pretty sheen- which is not always as attractive on me as it is on the Victoria's Secret Model 'beach' hair ads. Whatev. Before I dare to spend 10 bucks plus on some dry shampoo I reach for my $3 bottle of baby powder. Sprinkle a little on your roots and brush through and woosh- good as new.  Also good for those new Mommas who can't remember the last time they showered, but still want to appear as if they have it together when unexpected company shows up. Hey, we've all been there!

10. This one is everywhere on-line, but I can tell you from personal recent experience- it works like mad.  When your cell phone decides its too hot and needs a dip in the swimming pool (or your sweet little boy chucks it into the toilet like mine did), fill a container with some dry white rice. Remove the SIM card and place the phone into the rice for 24-48 hours.  Hopefully this will do the trick and save you big bucks at the Verizon store!

Happy Summer, Lovelies!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Have a Banana Split for Ryan

If you haven't heard about 21 month old Ryan Roberts, get your tissues out and see a video about him here and read about him here.

Ryan's Banana Split Party

Hes the most adorable little guy who was born with Downs Syndrome and a congenital heart defect.  A few weeks ago his parents got some devastating news- there was nothing more doctors could do for this sweet, sweet boy. So they made the decision to fill his reaming time with as much fun as they could- creating a bucket list of things that he needs to do like pet a puppy, get a speeding ticket, have a beer, and eat a banana split.

People started asking his Momma, Diane, if there is anything they can do for the family and her response was so self-less and sweet, it needs shared.

"Go out and create a memory with your kid. Throw a banana split on the table for dinner," Diane says. "Wouldn't you remember having banana splits for dinner one night when you were a kid?"

I give all of the credit in the world to this family, I can not imagine the emotions they are going through right now. When I read about them, I cant help but getting tears in my eyes. I would do anything I could to help someone in this situation, and if all this family wants is for me to feed my kiddo ice cream they can consider it done.

A facebook group called Ryans Banana Split Party was created by a family friend where people have posted pictures of them doing just that. Forgoeing the veggies and protein for one night to eat banana splits all over the world.

So one more thing is added to our summer bucket list for the summer, to have a Banana Split for Ryan.  Tonight for dinner Grayson will be having his dessert for dinner in honor of this sweet boy

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Daddy's Day Hubs!

You know I love my husband to bits when I volunteer to go out into nature without him having to ask first.  I wanted his first Fathers Day (out of the belly of course) to be nice, so I decided to take him hiking at Ohiopyle.

(Plus, you know, it was on the bucket list...Im determined to get that thing finished!)

Now let me explain.  I grew up playing outside. We went to the beach. I played in the woods.  I enjoyed nature, but was by no means an outdoor gal. I didnt camp, I didnt sleep outside in the summer, I didn't look for bugs and snakes and think that stuff was 'neat'.

Meanwhile, the hubs I think was birthed into the wilderness.  He loves hiking and camping.  He thinks bugs and lizards are cool. He spent a week in high school hiking the Appalachian Trail and carrying all of his equipment on his back like a billy goat. He would have me sleeping in the dirt every weekend if I would agree to it- which there is no way in hell I ever would.

So my surprising him Saturday night with a day of hiking, picnicking and playing in the water was an amazing gesture on my part- and the hubs was more than excited. He had our stuff packed an in the car before bed on Saturday night. He was also excited to learn I had invited his cousin and his kids to go along- so it was going to a big adventure.

We broke out the hiking backpack- the one where Grayson fits right in.  We were not sure how he would take to it..but he's his Daddy's boy- he loved it.

Matching Backpacks

The Cascades

Splashing in the water
Checking out the water
Making Momma nervous as heck
He had no fear, he crawled, splashed and played in every pool Patrick set him in.

Somehow I think this means Im going to have many heart attack moments with this boy.

On the way back out of the gorge, we passed a tree that I just so happened to look up on.  On the branch sat the biggest spider I had ever seen in my life- no lie, it was bigger than my hand.  It looked like something you see at the zoo. 

And the hubs wonders why Im not a big fan of nature...its cause guys like this can eat me.

After the hike it was time to eat- we had a wonderful picnic lunch in a nice cool spot.

Smooches before Sandwiches.

We wanted to hike another trail, but the only problem was that two of our kiddos were ready to pass out, so we decided to head home for the day.  Its only a little over an hour drive, so we'll go back again to hike another trail and ride the natural water slides.

After a good long scrub in the tub we took our official Fathers Day picture.

Happy Fathers Day, hubs. You're seriously the best Daddy I could have ever asked for our little guy.  You love him unconditionally and more than the Moon- and he feels the same way about you. There isn't a thing you wouldn't do for him, and for that we are both grateful. For you I went out into the woods and came home with a leg full of bug bites because I sprayed you and Grayson first and ran out by the time I got to me, but I'd do it again and again to make you happy.  Ill just stock up on the Off and bathe in it first next time.

We love you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Children's Museum

On my last day of school for the year (woo!) Grayson and Daddy came to pick me up for a fun filled afternoon at The Childrens Museum of Pittsburgh.

It was on our summer bucket list- and it was a nice way to spend a few hours.

If you live in the Pittsburgh area, Im told you HAVE to take your kiddo to Tot Time on Tuesdays or Wednesdays...everyone I know raves about it.  Grayson is still too young (18 months to 3 years), but its something we'll do next year for sure. 

The hubs was worried that Grayson would be too young, but from all of the Mommas I had talked to they said that he would be able to enjoy over half of the exhibits, so I wasnt worried.  He actually enjoyed more than half of it, which was a nice surprise. What the hubs doesnt know that I didnt care if Grayson hated it...they have a visiting Wizzard of Oz exhibit and this Momma is slightly obsessed with that movie. We were going, and at least I was going to have fun! (Truth be told, I knew they had a nursery floor and a giant floor that is for water play- my fish would be just fine!)

Off to a good start in the Gravity Room


Making music

Ruby Slippers!!! I may have been the only one excited for this.

Riding Miss Gulch's Bike

The Garage was much more both of these boys idea of a good time...

Playing in the tree from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Okay Lovelies- I need some help. Grayson spent like 45 minutes playing with this snail. It had no distinguishing marks on it, no brand name or anything. It had beads in the clear ball that when you spun it around, ran down over the hard plastic lines and made noise. If anyone knows who makes it PLEASE let me know...the poor kid cried when we walked away from it!

Close up! 

Making bubbles!

 Playing with the blocks.

Overall we spent three hours at the Museum- and had one super tired kiddo on the way home. I think that was the first time in a very long time we took Grayson into a restaurant, and he slept on my lap rather than tried to scam me out of all of my food.  We will definitely have to go back...even if its just to play with the snail!

He Speaks!!!!!

Grayson has had his "voice" for awhile. He has been babbling on and on for a few months now and he distinctly says Mama and Dada- but he had never really associated them with anyone.

Until last night- 6/20/2012 will go down in infamy in the K house.

The hubs took Grayson upstairs to put him to bed, and he fell asleep laying on Daddy's lap finishing his bottle.  When this happens, its almost inevitable that the hubs will put his head back and fall asleep as well. So after about 30 minutes of silence on the monitor up the steps I trudged to wake the hubs and put the babe down for the night. 

When I walked in, I first woke up hubs so he could look at the sight of Grayson sleeping with his foot sprawled above his head. Well, something happened and Grayson opened up those sweet blue eyes to see us staring at him.  His face broke into that sweet grin and he said plain as day the best thing I have ever heard...thats right, he said "Mama"!

*Insert giddy dance here!*

The sun may shine out of Dada's rear end around here, but my baby boy said Mama first.

Take that, Daddy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a pony to go purchase.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Aviary

If you've never visited the Pittsburgh Aviary, you have to try and get down there.  Its been completely redone, and gives you a chance to really get up close with birds. 

Now, confession time. When I was younger I was on a field trip to the Aviary and nearly had my finger tip bitten off by a Parrot when a classmate decided to pull out a tail feather.  I'm terrified of birds. My in-laws have an African Gray who talks and that bird KNOWS I'm not a huge fan.  She has dive bombed me more than once, and I swear she laughs at me as shes doing it.

I reallllyy don't like birds.

Grayson, however, loves them.

So off we went on a Sunday to show him some birdies.

Hey, ma, its really bright in here.

Watching the bird feeding show in the wetlands room.  They have you hold up little worms and fishes and the birds fly right down and take them out of your hands. (I did not volunteer for this- and I may or may not have ducked as birds flew too close to my head for comfort.)

He was watching so intently, he would not even look at Dad for a picture.

Feeding the pelicans- he was squealing so loud.

Checking out the Penguins!

We really liked the penguins. What can I say? Hes a Pittsburgh Kid.

They have the feeding times all coordinated, so you can walk through the rooms and see them interacting and feeding the birds in each room.  You can also pay a little extra money to feed them yourself, or meet one up close like a penguin or flamingo. We will be doing that as Grayson gets older for sure.

And before you ask- no, we did not get pooped on while we were there. But I hear if that happens the Aviary gives you a cool button as a prize. Ill take the clean shirt anyday.

We had a blast- even the Momma who isn't thrilled with birdies.  It was a great way to kick off the bucket list- and to spend a few hours on a cool day!

Summer Bucket List

Hey lovelies, its officially SUMMER!!! The best three months of the year if you are a teacher- or a momma dying to spend some time with your beans. As luck would have it this year, I am both. Instead of spending the summer like I usually do, working a summer job, I plan on filling it with fun memories with Grayson Boy.

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone had any ideas for our summer bucket list, and some people had some really good suggestions. Other people had some very random suggestions, and some of them made the list as well. Its lofty, and my goal is to not only visit these places but blog about them as well. Once they are completed, I plan on coming back and crossing them off to track our progress. I also printed this out as a Publisher document and put it in a photo frame to check off as we go. (If you're in the area and want this list, shoot me an email and Ill send it along!)

So here it is- The K Family Summer Bucket List 2012

The Pittsburgh Aviary
Play on the Water Steps at PNC Park
The Pittsburgh Zoo
Take a Road Trip
Hike at Ohio Pyle
Go Swimming
The Children's Museum
Eat Ice Cream from an Ice Cream Truck
Storybook Forest at Idewild Park
Feed the Ducks
Make a Big Mess
Bath a Puppy Outside
Go Fishing
Take a bike ride
Story time at the library
Play in the sandbox
Visit Gus and Yaya's
Play in all of Pittsburgh's Parks
Craft Project
Ride the Incline
Eat Popsicles
See a Baseball Game
Play Dates with Friends
Take a walk in the country
Steelers Training Camp
Play in the Splash Park
Plant a veggie garden
Catch lightning bugs
Watch fireworks
Have a water fight
Phipps Conservatory
Visit a Farmers Market
Color on the Sidewalk
Pick fresh berries from a farm
Ride a Carousel
Go on a picnic
Have a dance party
Visit Sarris' Ice Cream Parlor
Have an at home drive in movie night
Mail a hug to Grandma and Grandpa
Go to a County Fair
International Village
Play in the rain
Blow bubbles
Take family pictures
Go to yard sales
Bake cookies for the neighbors
Take a day trip
Slide at Mammoth Park
Pet some animals
Make a Photobook of our fun summer

Im super excited to do all of these things with Grayson and the hubs. Some of the best memories I have are doing some of these things with my Momma when I was little, so Im downright giddy to do them with my kiddo.

What are your must do's this summer??

Swimming- Check!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Porch Beautification with Thompsons Water Seal

Our house has a pretty awesome front porch. It spans the whole width of the house, and gives us a great view of the street.  In our neighborhood we tend to spend alot of time talking to neighbors on porches...esp since our house doesn't have AC...the breeze out there feels great at night.

The only problem? Our porch was UGLY.

It looked old, dirty and tired. However, in a house built in 1890 it was really low on the list of projects to tackle (yay for having plaster that cracks off the wall at random times!). So imagine my delight when I checked my email one day to see an offer from Thomposons WaterSeal to review some of their products.  Looks like the old porch just got a violent shove to the front of the to-do list.

After talking with Karla- who was the sweetest lady ever- she let us know that before we stained we would need to use the Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner to get rid of the gunk before applying the new stain.

This stuff is pure awesome in a jug. No lie.
All we had to do was put it on with a rag, let it sit for 15 minutes then power wash it off.  Seriously, it made the wood like new again.
Doesn't he look good with a power washer?
It took us a total of about 3 hours to clean the whole porch and the adjoining fence, which is a pretty big job.  After it dried, you could totally see the difference.  We let it dry for a full 24 hours before getting to work with the stain.
Holy cow- its clean!
The instructions said to thoroughly spray down any plants this product may come in contact with before you start, cover them to protect from over spray, then spray them again after you finish. We sprayed before and after, but didn't cover them...hubs claims that was my job, and I forgot. It didn't really matter though, because they turned out just fine.  Beneath our porch in the flower beds we have hydrangeas, lilies and roses and not one was harmed by any chemicals in the product.  
We used the Thompsons WaterSeal Deck and House Latex Semi Transparent Waterproofing Stain, which we had tinted at Sherwin Williams to a color called Banyan Brown.
While at the store we asked the guy working the counter which brush would be the best, and he suggested this guy.
The brush is super thick, and made the stain go on super easy. Once we had all of the tools, then it was time to paint. I have used other stains in the past, and with this one I must say it was SO easy to maintain a solid color.  No blotchy spots to be found, it glided on so super smooth and thick. We had absolutely NO problems with puddles or drips, and I'm a horrible painter so that in itself was a small miracle.  Although I did have a *minor* freak out moment.  I had labored over the color choice for days, and when we started to paint I noticed that the color did not look like it was supposed to.  Then my hubs pointed out that as it dried it turned into the color it was supposed to be- just like latex paint, it changed as it dried.  Once it dried it looked perfect. (You can see my complementary brown color on the side back there- sneak peak of the porch saga part 2!)
All told it took maybe three hours to paint, mostly because of all of the spindles on the railings. Within an hour of it being done, five of our neighbors walked up to see it- because it made such a difference from the street view.

Seriously, it was so easy to do.  I hate painting with a passion, but this was so quick and easy.  The porch measures 30 feet by 8 feet, plus the fence and railings.  Total of work time was maybe six hours- which is nothing when you consider it looks like a brand new porch.  Now the when it rains you can see the water bead up, which lets us know the wood is truly protected- not just painted.  That's really a relief, because in a climate where it rains and snows a fair amount we're no longer worried that it is going to rot and need replaced in a few years.  Plus, with the stain being semi transparent you can actually see the wood grain- which I love.

Clean up was so simple, it was just soap and water.  Typically stains are horrendous to clean up after, because you need a chemical solvent- but not this time.  The paint brush and paint cup were clean and set out to dry in less than 10 minutes.

I'm so super grateful to Thompsons for sending us this amazing product- the hubs has already gone out to buy more to stain our back fence to match.  Plus the neighbors a few doors down have decided that they will be re staining their porch as well.  If you are thinking about re-staining or staining any wood product, I HIGHLY recommend these two products. I know that after using them I will never use anything but Thompsons products for staining again- they made the process so easy and user friendly.
Next up is to paint that u-g-l-y green that is chipping off and get some new porch furniture out there! Even the hubs is excited to get it finished...and that never happens!