September 30, 2009

Favorite 5 Baby Items

This post is for the readers who are pregnant with their first.  Here are my five favorites (in no particular order):

1.  PRIMO Eurobath.  I never thought I would love an baby tub so much, but I do.  We have used it from the day we came home from the hospital and we plan to continue for a few more months.  I know it looks funny, but it cradles a newborn or infant on one side and then once they can sit independently, they can sit on the opposite side.  I like that S is still in it because it keeps him safely contained and saves water since we don't need to fill our entire tub. 

2.  Kiddopotamus Rinse and Roll Bib.  It catches food well, can be put in the dishwasher, and rolls into itself for on-the-go.  I want a second. 

3.  Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddling Wraps.  These are so easy to swaddle with, great as a nursing cover-up or to drape over a stroller for shade. 

4.  Ikea Antilop Highchair.  We have tried three highchairs and this is my favorite and for $20 you can't be too disappointed.  It's attractive in our kitchen and so easy to wipe clean.  The only thing I don't like is that I wish it had a clear cover on the tray so I could place pictures underneath for learning purposes.  Note:  The tray is sold separately for $5.

5.  Medela Breastmilk Freezer Pack.  This is just a joke because of this post and this one (and because I couldn't think of a fifth item).

September 29, 2009

Little Baskets

I love using little baskets to put activities in for S.  I keep them on his table and rotate the activities in them (i.e. nesting eggs, stacking blocks, sound shakers...). 

September 28, 2009

Spool Stacker

I had this wooden dowel on a base from a weather vane kit in my fourth grade class and I thought of another use.  S has mastered large stackers, so I thought this would help to develop his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.  I borrowed these wooden spools from a lacing kit at our toy library, but you could use plastic spools or blocks with holes and support a dowel like this.

September 27, 2009

CVS $0.24

Here's this week's (and hopefully the only) trip to CVS.  I hope to do a CVS how-to post soon because it can save you a tremendous amount of money.  Today at the bottom of my receipt it said "Year to Date Savings $747.60"!

Tide 50 oz (x4)
- 1.00 (8/30 and 9/27 PG)
= $5.00 each

Dawn dishsoap
- 0.25 (8/30 or 9/27 PG)
= $0.75 and earn $10 ECBs for buying $25 of PG products (Tide and Dawn are PG products)

Vaseline Sheer Infusion body lotion
- $1.50 (printable)
= $6.49 and earn $7 ECBs

Used $5 off $25 or more coupon for taking a short flu quiz here
Used $15 ECBs earned filling out a survey as a CVS Advisor.
Used $7 more ECBs

Total OOP = $0.24 and earned $17 ECBs!

BRU Update

I spent $5.09 on $22 worth of clothing today at BRU!  I couldn't find a plain black shirt there for S's costume, so I got this Halloween shirt and I will turn it inside out for the costume.  He was also in need of some new socks for the fall.  Here's the breakdown:

black pants
- 1.05 (15% off one item coupon)
- 1.78 (30% off apparel printable)
= $4.16

Halloween shirt
- 1.00 (20% off sale)
- 1.20 (30% off apparel printable)
= $2.80

socks (x2)
- 1.50 (30% off apparel printable)
= $3.49

Used $10 BRU gift card from Pampers deal

Total OOP = $5.09

September 26, 2009

Free Magic School Bus

Today I received my free copy of The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up in the mail.  You can order one from the Environmental Protection Agency for free. 

September 25, 2009

Free Preschool Ideas E-Book

No longer available...

This blog has an e-book of preschool ideas you can download for free.  I looked at it briefly and there are some fun things you could also do with toddlers like peanut butter playdough and pudding finger painting.  Note:  The "(mostly) Free" in the title of the book refers to the projects.  The book is (completely) free. 

30% Off BRU Clothing Coupon

Horray!  Here is a 30% off printable coupon for your entire clothing purchase at Babies R Us.  I think (but have not yet tried) it may also work if you stack it with a 15% off one item coupon.  S needs black pants and a black shirt for the bat costume I am making him, but I have been holding out for a deal.  I also have store credit from my last diaper deal.  I'll let you know how I fare.  Thanks, Baby Cheapskate!

Another Use for Breastmilk Storage!

If you read my previous post about uses for breastmilk storage containers, I thought of another one!  S recently inherited my gigantic (and kind of scary) childhood doll and now loves to feed her (now a him).  Instead of giving S a large bottle, I screwed a regular nipple onto the storage container.  It's the perfect size and it's not breakable like our glass bottles.  I promise this is my last post on this topic (maybe).

September 24, 2009

CVS $1.07

Ack!  I try to go to CVS only once a week (and I like to go early in the week before they run out), but sometimes I learn of another deal later in the week and I just can't resist.  Like today...

Wheat Thins (x2; smaller boxes)
- 1.00 (printable coupon)
= free

Colgate toothbrush (in the trial section)
= $1.00 plus earned $1.00 ECB

Total OOP = $1.07 with tax, plus earned $1.00 ECB

Fall Cleaning

One of my two "fall resolutions" (I'll blog about the other soon) is to do a better job of staying on top of cleaning.  I keep an organized and tidy house, but it is hard for me to find time to clean.  S is a light/short napper and I always seem to make too much noise when cleaning.  And when he's awake I find it hard to occupy him while I am cleaning. 

So I bought him this cleaning set for him to "help me" when I clean.  It's pretty cheap and plasticky and I would prefer a nicer one, but it was $2 at Tuesday Morning.  As a side note, I recommend Tueday Morning for saving money on toys.  Some visits are a bust, but at times you can find great quality toys for half the price.  I put the set in a caddy so that he could tote it around and the pieces would remain together when stored.  After I bought the set, I thought you could easily make your own with things you may already have: a clean spray bottle, sponge, rag... 

Also, S loves to push around our big broom.  I was going to buy him a child-sized one, but I found a Swiffer with one or two less handle extensions works just as well and it actually cleans the floor! 

Last, this or any other push toy works well in our house as a vacuum cleaner if you don't have a toy one.  Perhaps I should go clean instead of spending time blogging...

September 23, 2009

Sensory Table

Here is an inexpensive way to create a sensory table (aka sand/water table).  I purchased an under-the-bed storage box and put it on a bench on our deck.  It's cheap and comes with a cover to keep out the critters.  It's a little high for S right now, so I think I will move it to the ground for now.  We also have more exciting sand "toys" (funnel, strainer, cups...) since this photo was taken.  In addition to sand or water, you can also use rice, beans, corn, styrofoam peanuts, gravel, large iceblocks with small toys frozen inside, soapy water and small dishes to "wash", leaves with plastic bugs, sand with plastic dinosaurs, soil, sod, shaving cream, hay, shredded paper, cotton balls...In fact, after making this list, I think I need to go buy another one for indoors.

September 22, 2009


One piece of advice I would give to a new mom would be to form a playgroup with other new moms.  I was so very fortunate to have stumbled upon several other new moms when S was a few months old and over time we have formed a close-knit group of seven boys all within five months of each other.  Several of the moms I knew beforehand and the others I feel like I have known forever. 

1.  Play dates.  We try to get together about once a week at a house, the park, the children's museum for social (mom and boy) interaction.  We are learning to be gentle, share, not throw at - all things I can't replicate alone at home with S.

2.  Email.  This is our primary means of communication.  We vent, celebrate, vent, plan, joke, vent.

3. "Professional Development."  We have grown professionally as mothers through attending a CPR class and having a book discussion on a popular parenting/discipline book (I may discuss this in another post one day).

4.  MNO (Mom's Night Out).  Self explanatory.

I am so thankful for my playgroup and don't know how I would have survived the first year (and future years) without their support.  I look forward to the day when S is fifteen and says, "We've been friends since we were babies."

September 21, 2009

CVS $0

I have been doing this for about seven months now and have quite the stockpile of certain items (i.e. toothpaste and razors).  It's time to start donating some of my freebies to a women's shelter.  I spent nothing out of pocket this week and used up some ECBs that were close to expiring.  I don't have many ECBs now, so I may need to spend a bit more on things we need to build up my ECBs.  Here's this week's trip:

Schick diposable razors 2 pk. (x4)
- 1.29 (8/16 or 9/13 SS)
= free

Right Guard Extreme Dry Fast Break deodorant (x2)
- 1.00 (printable)
= $1.99 (+1.00 ECB each)

Crest Prohealth toothpaste
- 0.75 (8/30 PG)
= $2.24 (+2 ECBs)

Aquafresh Isoactives toothpaste
- 1.00 (printable)
= $2.99 (+ 2 ECBs)

Used $10.00 ECBs

Total OOP = $0 and earned $6.00 ECBs

Flash Cards

Let me preface this post by saying we do not use flash cards in a drill-and-practice/traditional sense. With that being said, I have really found them to be wonderful in helping develop S's vocabulary.  I keep these two baskets on a shelf in the playroom where he can reach them.  One contains board books that are concept oriented (colors, numbers, etc.) and the other contains flash cards.  I punch a hole in the corners and fasten them with a ring so that the sets stay together and I don't have to deal with the boxes.  We use the flash cards much like the board books, but they are even better because they are "pages" that can be manipulated.  We sort them into groups, spread them out on the floor and talk about the animals S is familiar with, match them with pictures in the board books, etc.  Some of them I have made (computer print outs, stickers on index cards, paint swatches from Lowes) and others I have purchased inexpensively (Dollar Tree, Michael's dollar bins, Target dollar bins, Half Price Books).

September 18, 2009

Free Pretend Food

S and I shared an oatmeal cookie I got from my Target Kashi deal today.  I put the rest in a Tupperware so they would stay fresh and just as I was about to recycle the box, I realized the photos of the cookies on the box would make great pretend cookies.  I cut them out and put them in a Ziploc.  S won't let go of his "cookies" now!  I am sure there are lots of other great snack photos on boxes you could use too.


When S turned a year old, I began choosing a theme each month so that my choices at the library and toy library were more focused.  I also pull toys, figurines, puzzles, stickers, books, magazine photos, etc. from around the house (and my mom's house) that are related to the theme.  Here are the themes I have used so far:
  • May:  Farm 
  • June:  Ocean
  • July: Transportation
  • August:  Jungle/Zoo
  • September:  Fruits and Vegetables
Here are some I have planned, but may change:
  • October:  Sports
  • November:  Weather/Seasons
  • December:  Insects/Bugs
  • January:  Pets
  • February:  Feelings
  • March:  Jobs
  • April:  Forest Friends
As he gets older, I would like for the themes to become more focused around literature or culture.  For now, I tried to pick themes that I felt developed his vocabulary (i.e. zebra, football, rain, broccoli...).  Any other theme ideas?

September 17, 2009

Toddler Coloring

This is simple, but because of S's age, I wanted to recommend getting a large paper tablet and splat mat on the floor to color.  This way he doesn't color on our floors and it's also big enough that we can color together on it.  We also use jumbo crayons since they are less breakable in his fist hold. 

September 16, 2009


I am not direct teaching S his ABCs because he is only 16 months old and I want to foster a love for reading rather than teaching him how to read at this early of an age.  However, I think it's important to surround him (literally at times!) in a print rich environment and here are some of the fun ways we use the alphabet:

1.  Classroom Alphabet.  S loves this book.  It opens up to make a giant circle and he loves the feeling of playing in the middle with all the sea life around him.  So I thought I would try to do the same with the classroom alphabet.  I backed it in tag board, laminated the pieces, and used book tape to hold the sections together so that it would fold up nicely to store behind our playroom door.  He likes to sit in the center and move in a circle, naming all the photos that he is familiar with and sometimes he just likes to sit and play in it.

2.  Sing and sign the ABCs.  I like signing them as we sing because toddlers love hand motions to songs. 
3.  Magnetic (fridge) and foam (bathtub) letters. 
4.  Fridge Phonics.  I normally try to stay clear of electronicky gadgets, but this seems really fun.  I looked at them in the store and I like how it says the letter name and the sound each letter makes.  It's on S's Christmas list this year, but I can't decide between this one or this one.  The first is for younger children, but it uses capital letters and I personally like to introduce lowercase first because of their frequency in print (note: others prefer capital and still others feel they should be presented simultaneously) and I feel like the older one "grows" more with the child because there are 3 different levels.  Perhaps I will wait another year and get him the second one.  Hmm?  Anybody have this or have an opinion?

September 15, 2009

Target $13.87 plus $10 giftcard

Today's total may not look like a great bargain, but it is because in addition to all the products shown I also earned $10 in Target giftcards from this week's Kashi promo (I forgot to include them in the photo) to use during my next visit; not to mention we love Kashi products!

Tide Stain Release (x1)
-1.50 manufacturer's (arrived by mail in free sample request)
-1.50 Target (RP 8/23)
=  $0.79

Chef Michael's wet dog food cans (x6)
-0.84 B1G1 (Target printable; used 3)
-0.84 (3 FREE can coupons found in bags of dry food from last week!)
= free

Kashi TLC crackers (x2)
-1.50 (Kashi peelie)
= $1.04 each

Kashi TLC cookies (x1)
-1.50 (Kashi peelie)
= $1.04

Kashi waffles (x2)
-1.00 (Kashi peelie)
= $1.28 each

Kashi chewy granola bars (x1)
-1.50 (Kashi printable)
= $1.38

Kashi frozen meals (x2)
-1.00 (Kashi peelie)
= $1.88 each

Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal (x1)
-1.50 (Kashi printable)
= $1.38

Kashi Heart to Heart oat cereal (x1)
-2.00 (Kashi mnf. coupon; arrived with free sample of cereal in mail)
= $0.88

TOTAL OOP = $13.87 and I earned $10 (2 x $5) in giftcards to use next week!

How to Save at Babies R Us

The key to saving money at Babies R Us is to stack as many coupons as possible (ideally during a sale).  As with most stores, you can use one manufacturer's coupon in addition to a store coupon for the same item.  Here are some examples:
2 boxes of Huggies wipes ($12 x 2)
- 4.00 BRU coupon (2.00 each; arrives in home mailer)
- 3.00 Huggies manufacturer's coupon (1.50 each)
- 1.80 15% off one BRU item (arrives in home mailer; can only use one in transaction)
- 5.00 off purchase of $25 or more (printable; add a small filler item to put the total over 25)
TOTAL $10.20 for two boxes

Baby Bjorn potty seat

- 4.50 15% off one BRU item
- 3.00 BRU $3 off all potty seats/chairs coupon
- 5.00 off purchase of $25 or more
TOTAL $17.50 

3 Melissa and Doug puzzles ($10 x 3)
- 10.00 Buy 2, get one free promo
- 1.50 15% off one BRU item
- 5.00 off purchase of $25 or more
TOTAL $13.50 for 3 puzzles

September 14, 2009

Photo Books

I made this ABC book from Shutterfly for S as a first birthday gift back in May and I highly recommend it.  S loves looking at pictures of himself and pointing out other people and objects in his life.   Then about a month ago on Cool Mom Picks, they had a contest for creative ideas for photo books.  I love what people came up with and thought you might too.   My favorite is a feelings book using photos of S with different expressions.  Also, I like these at Snapfish as a cute Halloween gift idea. 

September 13, 2009

CVS $0.53

This is from my trip to CVS today.  I only spent 53 cents!  I will write a post at a later date explaining how CVS Extra Care Bucks work.  

Huggies Little Swimmers 10-pack (on clearance)
-2.00 coupon (mailer)

Colgate Total toothpaste (+2.00 ECBs)
-1.00 coupon (SS 2/13)

Reach twinpack toothbrushes (+2.00 ECBs)
-1.00 coupon (SS 6/14)

Clean and Clear travel size face wash (x2)
-1.00 (SS 8/23)

Used $6.99 ECBs

TOTAL OOP = $0.53 and earned $4.00 back in ECBs

Amy Wilson Sanger

I wanted to share one of S's my new favorite children's authors.  Amy Wilson Sanger has a series of board books called World Snacks.   Her illustrations are done with cut-paper collages and each book has sweet verses that rhyme, not to mention they are culturally educational.  We first checked out Yum Yum Dim Sum at the library and  I became hooked.  I ended up buying the whole series on eBay for 5ish dollars for me S last Christmas.

September 12, 2009


Everyone should own Twister.  It has so many uses:
1.  S loves to sit and play on it since it gives him a different sensory experience while on it.
2.  While he plays, we talk about colors.  I will take a red object and place it on one of the red circles.  Over time, he will be able to take over this color matching and sorting.
3.  It can also double as a splat mat for art, sand/water tables, and under highchairs.
4.  Finally, it will be a fun activity to practice right/left hand/foot when he's older.

September 11, 2009

4 Alternative Uses for Breastmilk Storage Containers

1.  Bubble Maker.  Just put a little liquid soap and water in a container.  S loves to shake it to make bubbles.  You can also add food coloring if you like.  Thanks to Amy at The Wonder Years for the idea. 

2.  Shakers.  Add dry beans or rice (or anything else I suppose) to make a shaker instrument.  S likes that beans make a different sound than rice.  Thanks to my friend, Kristen, for the idea. 

3.  Open/close practice.  I try to give S various types of containers to practice opening and closing.  These work well for screw tops since they are not breakable and the perfect size for little hands.  Of course, once they master this you may want to screw the lid on tight or tape it shut for #1 and #2.  Thanks to Productive Parenting for the idea.  Side Note:  If you sign up at Productive Parenting's website, they will send you an email each day with an age appropriate activity idea from birth through four.

4.  Snack Containers.  I like the slim fit of the containers to keep snacks in my diaper bag for S. I find them less bulky than small Tupperware types.  #3 led me to this idea.

Any other ideas you want to add?

Beach Bag

I apologize if this post belongs in the obvious column, but it helped me stay organized this summer so I thought I would pass it on in case others hadn't thought of it. 

I kept a beach bag (from the dollar bins at Michael's) packed with swimming/summer fun gear so that I didn't have to pack up each time we left the house to go swimming.  I could just grab the bag and go.  These items were dedicated to staying in the bag:  toys, float, swim diapers, regular diapers, wipes, sunscreen, bug repellent, hats, towels, a snack, and a water bottle.

September 10, 2009

Infant Sign

I began signing with S when he was about 6 months old and am a huge advocate of it.  It is so nice to have S tell me that he "hurts" or even better sign "potty" as he grunts.

I am doing this post because I have realized that I rarely sign with him anymore now that he is so verbal.  I want to continue though because I think it's important for S to understand that there are different ways to communicate and that there are different ways of representing something (this is an important math concept).  Below are a few thoughts I wanted to share with you after experimenting and learning from my mistakes.  

1.  Keep Signing.  When you first start, you may not see progress for a looong time.  When S was about 9 months, I backed off of the sign because it seemed to not be working, until I saw Baby Fireese and she inspired me to keep at it.  Now S can sign over 50 different signs and has begun to make up his own.

2. You don't need to buy baby sign board books.  Your baby most likely will not understand how to interpret the illustration or picture of the sign.  I used regular board books (i.e animals) and showed him the sign when showing him the picture. 

3.  Look up signs.  Use a good ASL resource (I like this online video dictionary) to look up what is applicable to your household.  If you just made carrots for dinner, look up the sign for carrot.

4.  Be forgiving.  Your baby will not be "correct" at first (or ever it seems) with the sign.  Just like they may say "ba" for ball when learning to talk, the sign will not be precise in the beginning. 

5.  Videos.  This is where I began to break the "no television before two" rule (more on that later).  I bought some videos for S that I got for a really great bargain, otherwise I would have only used the Signing Time videos at my library (which I used as well).  I do not recommend using signing videos if you haven't been signing.  I used them after a few months of signing to reinforce signing with him.  If you are going to stick to no television, good for you.  Ignore #5.

6. Sign.  The hardest part for me is to remember to sign.  The more you do it, the more it comes naturally. 

Nesting Eggs

This is one of S's favorite activities.  He loves to nest objects- balls into Tupperware, blocks into empty tissue boxes, etc.  I got the idea because we have a wonderful local toy library and we checked out a similar toy.  When he loved it so much, I realized I could make it with different sized Easter eggs.  He loves taking it apart and putting each egg together, but we haven't yet mastered the nesting aspect of the eggs.

Ooh.  I just realized I should get him a Matryoshka doll.

September 9, 2009

Sequential Awareness

To provide S with a predictable environment and to develop sequential awareness, I made these cards about a month ago with stock images from the internet, backed them with construction paper, laminated them, and put magnetic strips on the back.  My original plan for them was to put our "schedule" up for the day, but I quickly realized that was very overwhelming for a 15 month old (not to mention how unsightly it was on our fridge), so each time S is eating in his highchair I put up what we are doing and what is coming next in our day; no more than 2-4 events.  He took to it more quickly than I thought and can now tell you the name of each thing we are going to do.  I also made ones for breakfast, dinner, playgroup, library, shopping, walk the dog, and bedtime, but realized I forgot several other reoccurring events (like visiting grandparents). 


I recently printed copies of the Texas 2x2 Reading Lists to use as a guide when we check books out from the library.  It's important to me that we are reading quality literature and this is one way for me to guarantee that happens.  We have started with the books aimed at 2-4 year olds and we will work our way up as S gets older. 

September 8, 2009

Water Transfer with a Sponge

I discovered it was a little early to introduce this to S at 16 months, but I think he will be ready for it in a few more weeks. The idea was inspired by a Montessori activity.  When I share Montessori ideas, please keep in mind I am not Montessori trained, am not following proper Montessori presentation of activities, and am only claiming them as Montessori inspired.

Thanks to Amy at The Wonder Years for the idea (and for many more to come!)
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Target $2.13

Here are my Target deals from today.  I only spent $2.13!  The Annie's Bunny Grahams are a splurge, but S (and I) love them.

Chef Michael's dry dog food 24 oz (x3)
-3.00 (8/23 RP)
-1.50 (Target printable)
= free

Chef Michael's dry dog food 5 oz (x3)
= free with coupon (8/23 RP)

Chef Michael's wet dog food (x6)
B1G1 coupon (8/23 RP)
B1G1 coupon (Target printable)
= free

Softsoap bodywash (x2)
-1.00 (8/30 SS)
-1.00 (Target peelie from Skintimate shave gel)
= $0.99 each

Cheerios single serving cups (x3)
-1.00 (Target printable)
= free

Annie's Bunny Grahams (x1)
-0.50 (Target printable)
= $1.89

Total OOP $2.13

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