Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 Ways I was an Awesome Step-Mom this Summer

I have found myself doing several things this summer that I think qualifies me as a pretty awesome step-mom!

Awesome Meter #5-Taxi Mom:
Waking up everyday during the week to take my step-son to football practice. Soon I'll be making 4 daily trips to the school for a.m. and p.m. practices. Most of the time I end up waiting as practice runs late. I probably spend up to 4 hours a week just in traveling for this school sport! As an add on-I helped push two mini vans that got stuck in flash-flood water in the school parking lot. I was up to my knees in water and not a single part of my body was dry by the time everyone got pushed out. I was just lucky I saw them stuck before I, myself, was stuck along with them!

Awesome Meter #4-I See Ice Cream

Purchasing on sale pints of ice cream at the grocery store despite our best effort at a diet. It is part of the fun of summer to get occasional frozen treats. Who can pass up $1.50 for a pint of Starbucks ice cream?!

Awesome Meter #3-Raising a Baby Squirrel:

We found a new born squirrel and I agreed to not only get it to a safe place (away from my dogs), but keep it and raise it until it is old enough to survive on its own in the wild. You can read about the squirrel in the original post here as well as the first week update on the squirrel here.

Awesome Meter #2:-Upcycling

Made the salvaged purple bedside tables for my youngest step daughter's bedroom.
It went from
<-----  to  ----->.

You can see the original post for this project here.

Awesome Meter #1-Watch N' Sniff Honey Boo Boo:

Running out to the store 20 minutes before the "Watch N Sniff" season premiere of Honey Boo Boo to get the magazine with the corresponding scratch and sniff paper. I figured despite my feelings of the idea being ridiculous it is a once in a life time (I hope) type of novelty and it makes my step daughters happy!

Anyone else want to share their awesome parenting or step-parenting experiences they had this summer? Let us know with a comment either here or on our facebook page!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Raising a Baby Squirrel-Week 1

We found a baby squirrel in the backyard that had been in a nest very close to the ground. My dachshund had it in his mouth and I got him to quickly release it to the ground. We left the baby near the nest hoping the mother would take him but she moved all of the other babies and considered taking him too but ultimately left him behind.

We did some quick research and decided to help raise the squirrel until it would be old enough to survive on its own. One of the first things we did was go out and buy unflavored pedialite and an oral syringe. This was to keep the baby hydrated until we could purchase some puppy formula to feed it.

We also placed a heating pad under half of the area the baby was confined within. We used a small size dog crate with a non-pile fleece fabric for the squirrel. I ended up using my lepord print Snuggie brand dog bed and it worked great! If you look closely you can see the squirrel near the bottom left quadrant of the kennel. Typically I use that blue beach towel pictured behind the kenel to drape over the entire cage. This helps keep the heat in and light out.

When this young, he isn't even able to open his eyes, they can not regulate their own temperature so it is important to have heat available. The picture below is the squirrel about 4 days after we found it (compared to the photo at the top with it in the box minutes after discovering it).

He is starting to go from a light pink color to a darker purple color. We have determined that this is because the hair that will eventually grow is going to be a darker color in those places. The belly and legs are still the light pink color (which is traditionally where squirrels have white hair).

One not so great part of taking care of this squirrel is helping it go to the bathroom. I will spare photos here, but basically you just stimulate the area they would go to the bathroom with a light touch or a cotton ball. From the research I have done they can not go on their own. I am not entirely convinced the squirrel doesn't go on its own sometimes, but if they do not use the bathroom they will die because of toxins building up within their body.

At this point, we have been caring for the squirrel several times a day to make sure that he is keeping warm and eating enough. I can not even place into words what will happen once this cute little guy can open his eyes! I can tell the definition of the slit in his eyelids is becoming more defined. I just hope it doesn't scare me too much to help feed and hold it once it can look back at me.

So long as this squirrel survives I will have a week 2 update on how he is doing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quick tip: Diaper Rash

Stephanie Stepford told me about this one!

For the worst diaper rashes (even those caused by yeast) use a mix of equal parts liquid Maalox and Aquaphor or A&D on your baby each time you change a diaper. It is best to either air dry or dry with a soft cloth before application so that no moisture gets trapped underneath the paste.

The Maalox soothes irritation and feels cool upon application. It will reduce the acidity of the urine and stool it comes into contact with, while the Aquaphor or A&D cream will help create a barrier between the skin and urine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Salvaging Road-Side Treasures

I found two matching 70's bed side tables by the street driving home earlier this month and decided to see if I could come up with something. My step-daughter piped up and said she would like them for her room. The wood wasn't in perfect condition but it was not beyond repair. We decided that since the wood would not exactly match her existing furniture that we were going to give it a fresh coat of paint.

Here are the tables the way they were when we saved them from the trash along with the materials we will need to complete the project (steel wool, spray paint primer, colored spray paint).

The first step is to use the steel wool pads to scruff up the entire wood surface of the tables. This will allow the primer to have something to hold on to rather than a slick surface.

After getting all of the shine off the wood (and a few bumps) I took the tables to my grass and turned them upside down. Make sure to wipe off the table from the dusty debris so it doesn't get trapped under the paint!

 I sprayed the legs and posts while the table was upside down. This will later help avoid any drips ending up on the finished (and viewed) surface of the table.

I flipped the tables right-side up and primed the remaining surfaces of the table, making sure to use large motions and keep a distance from the furniture so it wouldn't spray on too thick.

I let the tables sit overnight with the primer before adding a coat of purple spray paint. I took more time with the final color and let the legs and spindles of the table dry completely before flipping the table upright and spraying the table surfaces.

After allowing the paint to completely dry, it was time for the tables to find their final home upstairs in a bright green bedroom!

Don't be afraid to rescue furniture from the roadside! For two tables the only cost to me was $11.23 for spray primer and paint. That's less than $6 a table and I still have left over paint and primer for another road-side saving project!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Give Your Kitchen a Face Lift for Under $20!

My  $20 Kitchen Makeover:

Okay, so here is the back story.  Two years ago, my husband and I came across an offer we simply couldn’t refuse.  My mother in law was getting remarried and planned on moving in with her new husband.  The real estate market wasn’t in a place where she felt comfortable selling, so she offered for us to buy the house from her…for a steal.
I ADORE my mother in law and I am so thrilled we got this house…but her taste is definitely not on par with mine.  The hallways are half wallpapered with flowery nonsense and each room has an awful border.  Also, my mother in law was apparently afraid of color.  White. White. White. Everywhere you don’t see wallpaper you see white.  
When I gave birth to my daughter 12 weeks ago, my husband informed me that I could stay home with the children and not return to work. What a blessing.  Since I have been spending so much time at home I am noticing all the little (okay, a lot of them are big) projects I want to tackle.  I decided to start in the room where I spend the most time and somehow manage to keep clean despite a man, a boy, a baby and me…my kitchen.
Here is are a few shots of my boring white kitchen.  I don’t have one of the kitchen table because at the time of the photo shoot it was overrun with products for my husband’s business.

This kitchen is where my fellow Stepford Sisters and myself spend a great deal of time and I decided it would be best to start somewhere that the changes I wanted to make were going to require minimal output of time and effort and maximum intake of pleasure, joy and bragging rights.  

I started out thinking I would paint the cabinets, until I realized what an undertaking that would be. I’m not one to spend a ton of time on DIY’s and with a new baby, my time is limited as it is.  I decided instead, that I would paint only the center of the cabinet to create a modern ‘accented’ look.  Then I looked to Pintrest for advice.  (I found a lot, but wound up doing it my own way.)
I chose my paint color based on my counter tops and decided on a popping grey.  The color is called Iron Mountain and it is a matte finish Behr Premium Plus Ultra quart sized can. (which, incidentally, turned out to be MORE than enough. I had to rein myself in from painting more just to use it up.) I also bought a darling stencil and decided I would accent my grey with a white stencil, so I also purchased a trial size container of Behr Premium Plus Ultra, also in matte and the color is called Flat-Ultra Pure White.  The total damage for my supplies was about $19 and change, so I rounded up. I spent $20 on my supplies.  Here is the finished product!

What do you think? Pretty simple and cheap, but a big impact!

Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Crafts for the Birds

In the summer birds can get dehydrated and over heat just like everything else. To help out the birds in your yard why not make them a bath: We love this easy Wreath Birdbath by Intelligender

Here is a neat all natural way to feed your feathered friends! The Citrus Peel Bird Feeder by Canadian Family

This is a great springtime craft to do with the kids. You can help the birds build their nests. Then you can enjoy their colorful homes in your trees! Nest Ball by Kids' Activities

This one is an oldie but a goodie and fun to do! Milk Carton Bird Feeder by Raising Sparks

The birds that stick around in the winter would definitely appreciate the extra food provided by this Sparkling Edible Ice Wreath by Flower Pot Crafts

Crafting, it's totally for the birds!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Quick Tip: What to do if you lose a lost tooth before the tooth fairy comes

So, we forgot to put my son, Kasey's tooth under his pillow the night he lost it. Then I lost his lost tooth. No worries, this tooth fairy knows how to handle a lost lost tooth! 

First he wrote a note to the tooth fairy explaining the situation...

He wrote it all by himself, just asked me how to spell 'mistakenly'. Mistakenly!! My son chose to use the word mistakenly! #proudmama :)

Then the tooth fairy left him this!

 (They are sugar coated "bloody" marshmallow "teeth", in case you couldn't tell)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding A Newborn Baby Squirrel

I so wish I had wonderful pictures to share with this post, I have some but none the quality I would love to have captured with my cameras. Spoiler: I found a baby squirrel...but we didn't know what it was at first!

It all started at dusk a few days before I found a baby. We heard all of these high pitched squeaks that sounded as if they were birds. I assumed that was what it was and thought: "Man, we have a lot of birds in the trees in our backyard."

Today our two "lazy" dachshunds were pawing and walking all around the tree we have in our back yard. The trunk splits into several trunks very low to the ground so there is ample stick and leaf debris in the middle where a human would not typically try to reach to clear out (and I, in fact, had not ever tried clearing it out!) It wasn't your typical squirrel nest up high.

My step daughter decided to take a stick to investigate because the dogs were going crazy at the spot. Very quickly after she started moving leaves a baby wrinkled mess fell out....and within a nano second my dachshund picked it up and had it in his mouth. I put my hand around my dog and he let go of it onto the ground. The baby squirrel started the high pitched cry I had heard a few days before and we were scared it was hurt by the dog.

I more than half expected the baby to have puncture marks on the side of its body that was against the ground that I could not see. The baby is so young that it does not even open its eyes yet. We grabbed a shallow cardboard box and very carefully lifted it off the ground into the box so we could look at it better.

This thing was strange looking. we didn't immediately know if it was a rat, raccoon, mole, squirrel, or some other mutant creature. After looking at the head from the right angle we were pretty sure it was a squirrel and google images confirmed without a doubt that is what we had.

The first thing we quickly read to do was leave the baby and see if the mother comes back for it within an hour. We reluctantly left the squirrel in the box next to the place we had found it. We thought that perhaps the nest was high in the tree and the squirrel fell into the middle of the tree, got hurt, then found by us. We waited no more than 6 minutes before a momma squirrel came near the tree. We couldn't believe it! My step-son said it ran away with the baby in its mouth.

Our celebration was quickly not as happy as we thought. It turned out she was moving the whole nest of babies and the baby we saw her with was not the same one. We believe to our count there were 4 total babies (they typically only have 2-3). We spent the next 20 minutes glued to the window. I took some pictures, but please know that my back window is covered in dirt, grime, and cobwebs. A great shot was just unrealistic. It was amazing to see this mother squirrel hold the baby in her mouth and navigate the trees and ground to relocate her young.

For wildlife, it was also apparent to me that the mother wanted to take the baby we had left for her. What we had read was that smell should not matter to the mother. She walked around that box and the area for eight minutes just trying to figure out what to do. We will soon see if she ever came to get her baby. If not, I might just be writing a story soon about our family raising a baby squirrel!

Update: I now have the baby squirrel in my house with a heating pad because the mother did not take it...there will be a story and actual personal pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 Summertime Crafts

Summertime is upon us and for most of us, the kids are out of school and in need of some entertainment that doesn't come from a television. Time for a craft round up!

Here are our top five summertime crafts:

This hand-print sun by Kolcraft is sure to brighten anyone's day. It is perfect for even very young children to make.

Positively Splended's Sponge Bomb is a great summer craft because it becomes the perfect toy for a hot summer day once you have finished it.

These fans from Mr. Printables are super cute and will also help keep you cool!

Spoonful's woven tie dye wall would be a unique craft to do this summer.

and last we have these awesome DIY kites from Giddy Giddy which are not only gorgeous to look at, but also completely functional!

Hope you are having a great summer!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The wonders of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is an astringent produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors. Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States.
It's mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care. It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent, which makes it very useful in fighting acne. It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, aftershave applications, ingrown nails, to prevent sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites, poison ivy, and as a treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is found in numerous over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparations and it is recommended to women to reduce swelling and soothe wounds resulting from childbirth.

More ways to use Witch Hazel:
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with witch hazel in your fridge this summer. Spritz to cool down, revive tired skin and soothe sunburns. 
  • For varicose veins, wrap a towel soaked in witch hazel around the area to tighten the veins and reduce pain and swelling.
  • Use a cotton ball to dab on diaper rashes to relieve pain and heal the rash.
  • Soak cotton balls in witch hazel and place them on your closed eyes for ten minutes to reduce puffiness.
People sometimes take witch hazel by mouth. A dosage is 2 grams of dried leaves three times daily or as a tea. When taken that way it is used to try to treat conditions as varied as:
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Colitis
  • Colds and fevers
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tumors
  • Cancer
 Because studies are limited, avoid using witch hazel if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless you use it on the skin in small amounts and for short periods of time.

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