My Life of Travels and Adventures: October 2014

How I Finally Got My Toddler To Sleep

31 October 2014

Friday Favorites: Sleep Edition
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I know I have posted before on Reid's sleep (or lack thereof) issues.  But as a parent, the whole sleep issue has been so frustrating and exhausting.  

Reid didn't sleep through the night until he was almost a year old.  And then it wasn't consistent at all.  Eventually we were able to get him to self sooth and eventually fall back asleep on his own.  But it was a long time coming.  

Now that he is a toddler, the sleep issues are entirely different.  Our biggest issue was that he was getting up at 5:30/6am for the day.  And now that he is in a big bed that meant actually getting up and coming into our bedroom.  Ugh.  

So after a couple weeks we finally have a toddler that goes to bed without a big struggle and pretty much stays in bed until 7am each morning. Heaven!  

So how did we do it and what did we use?

1. A Lovie Item: Reid has been using these little taggie blankets since he was an infant and started daycare.  I wanted his love item to be easily replaceable and to have multiples.  (We have 3).  They are the only thing that are consistent in the rotation of blankets and stuffed animals that acquire in his bed.  
2. Black Out Panels:  I bought these blackout panels way back when I was hugely pregnant with Reid and have been using them in his bedroom ever since.  
3. A Night Light:  We have the turtle version of this nightlight.  And use it pretty much nightly.  I love that it has a timer so the light goes out after a set amount of time.  Now, we have this on the bed stand next to Reid's bed, so that he can get up and turn the light on if needed.  Every once it a while he doesn't fall asleep before the light shuts off and I will hear him moving around and turning the light back on. 
4. A Video Monitor: This monitor is great!  It has a feature so that I can talk to Reid in his room.  So when he does get out of bed, all I have to do is tell him to climb back in bed and most of the time he will.  Of course he went through a phase were he would look at the camera and shout No Way! That was fun.  

5. OK to Wake Clock: This has been the game changer.  This clock has a night light feature which glows yellow.  It also has the best thing ever... The OK to Wake feature.  Basically you set this for a certain time (7am in our house) and then each day the clock will glow green at that time.  The idea being that your child will stay in bed until they see the green light. 

It took Reid a while to actually do that though.  Maybe 2 weeks or so.  He knew and would repeat, "I stay in bed until turns green", but would still get out too early in the morning. When he did get out of bed before the green light, we just took him back in, covered him up and said, "Stay in bed until the light turns green".  And now he does.  The majority of the time.  
6. Books: Every night one of us climbs into bed with Reid and reads a couple books.  Steam Train Dream Train and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are two of our favorites right now.  

7. Clocky: Just in case you are having a hard time waking in the morning (lack of sleep and all, I get it!)... introducing Clocky.  I have had this alarm clock for a while now and its great at getting you out of bed.  You can customize it but the premise is that if you don't get up or hit the snooze too many times, the clock rolls away.  It will roll off your night stand and around your room while beeping at you.  It's utterly annoying, but works.  

So there you have it.  My favorites in the toddler sleep division.  

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Maple Walnut Banana Muffins

30 October 2014

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I was doing really well with not having over ripe bananas on the counter for a while.  But then this past week, our banana consumption was low resulting in a several ripe bananas needing a home.  

So this Maple Walnut Banana Muffin recipe was born.  

3 Ripe Bananas
3 Tbsp Butter, softened
1/4 C Brown Sugar (or Granulated Maple Sugar)
2 Egg Whites
2 Tbsp Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 1/4 C Flour
1/2 C Walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. 
2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl. 
3. Mix in the butter, brown sugar, egg whites, maple syrup oil and vanilla.  Stir well. 
4. Add the baking soda and flour.  Mix until just combined. 
5. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full.  
6. Sprinkle the walnuts over the muffins. 
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.  

Makes 12 muffins. 

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Race Medal Holder

28 October 2014

Running for me is a struggle.  It always has been.  Some runs and races are better than others (Hello, 2014 Buffalo Half Marathon!) but most of the times I struggle more than I would like.  But I do finish. 

Anyway, thats a long way of saying I worked hard for the medals at the end of a race and wanted a nice way to display them.  Instead of thrown in a dresser drawer or over a door knob like they have been for the past 3 years.  

So I made this little race medal holder.  

Piece of Wood
Minwax Dark Walnut Stain
White Paint
Small Curtain Rod with Hangers
First I stained my piece of wood with two coats of Minwax Dark Walnut stain. Then I printed of the saying I wanted using Jenna Sue font.  

I taped down the paper and traced the letters with a pencil... and then a pen when my pencil lead broke and I couldn't find a sharpener.  
Next, I just used white acrylic paint and painted in the letters.  It took two coats of white to get an all around even color. 
On the other side, I painted everything in for the PR's but the times.   Before applying three coats of polyacrylic to seal everything. 
To hang the medals, I used a small curtain rod and just looped the medals over it.  
To write in my times, I used a chalk paint marker.  As for if I ever get faster, I seemed to wipe off okay.  There was a little smearing but I didn't really scrub at it either.  

We used two picture hooks to hang the medal holder to the wall.  Tada!
You might remember last year, I made my sister a Race Bib + Medal Holder also.  

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Anything Goes Chili

23 October 2014

Anything Goes Chili
We are headed into chili season around here.  This recipe is one that I have been using for years.  But each time I make it, it is just a little different.  

Depending on what we have on hand when I make this, sometimes there is extra onion or pepper.  Sometimes its fire roasted tomatoes, sometimes its white beans, it really is never the same.  
2 lb Ground Beef
1 Onion, diced
1 Pepper, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Oregano
1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Hot Sauce
1 (28oz) Can Tomato Sauce
1 (14.5 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes
2 (15oz) Cans of Beans

1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onion and pepper. 
2. Drain the beef. 
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large pan.  Stir well. 
4. Bring to a boil.  
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. 
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Airplane Tot School

22 October 2014

See all of my Tot School Lessons Here
See all of my preschool posts Here.

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Before we headed on vacation way back in August, I wanted to prepare Reid for the airplane and airport.  So we spent a week focusing on airplanes during tot school.  Along with reading just about every airplane book available at the library.  

I precut the construction paper into tail wings, wings and the fuselage, then let Reid glue them together.  We ended up gluing them onto white paper since a certain someone got a little glue happy.  

I made this little airplanes by covering clothes pins with washi tape then hot glueing the craft sticks on as wings.  
We played with these airplanes forever.  I used them to talk about colors and matches.  
Printables from RoyalBaloo

We used the addable plane printables to focus on colors.  I read the color for each plane, Reid picked it out and colored the plane.  
Printables from RoyalBaloo

We focused a lot on the letter A this week with tracing and coloring. 

Reid is really into crafts so he loved the idea of building his own airplane. I let him paint the craft sticks and clothes pins and then once they dried we assembled them into airplanes with a little hot glue. 
Printable from TheMeasuredMom

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Painted Shim Art Work

20 October 2014

Painted Shim Art Work
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Reid’s room has been lacking artwork / wall hangings since we moved in.  After hanging the whale art work I made, I had a few ideas for more but sat on them for a while.  Mostly so that I could finish unpacking the rest of the house. 

And now… well now I am just sick of staring at brown panels walls.  I want nothing more than to paint Reid’s room, but with renting that makes things all sorts of complicated. So for now we are making due.  
As I was brainstorming ideas (simple ideas) I found this pin on Pinterest.  And I rolled with it.

I love what a simple concept this is and how it can easily be adapted to any room/color/etc.  I also am really happy with how it brought more color to Reid’s room and brightened up the space.  Win win all around.   

Hot Glue
Picture Hook

* I used Apple Barrel Cobalt Blue, White, Folk Art Pure Orange and Rust-oleum Driftwood Stain

  1. First up, I painted the shims. I just did one thicker coat all around.  
  2. After the paint dried, I randomly arranged the paint shims… making sure that the ends alternated thick + thin side.  
  3. To hold all the shims together, I hot glued extra shims to the back.  
  4. Once it was all assembled, I brushed two thin coats of polycrylic onto the front and sides.  
  5. After everything dried, we hung a little picture hook on the back and hung it up in Reid’s room.  

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Even More Chocolate Muffins

16 October 2014

Sometimes muffins are not meant to be super healthy and the perfect breakfast/snack.  Sometimes muffins are meant to fill a craving.  Like a need for chocolate.  

And sometimes that means a lot of chocolate. 
These muffins have melted chocolate chips, cocoa powder and are topped with chocolate chips.  Which I think is just about the perfect amount of chocolate. 

3/4 C Milk
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Eggs
3/4 C Sugar
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 C Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/3 C Cocoa
1/2 C Chocolate Chips, melted
1/4 C Chocolate Chips, for the topping

1. Heat the milk in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Add the lemon juice.  Stir and let sit for 20 minutes. 
2. Preheat the oven to 350.
3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and olive oil together.   
4. Add the homemade buttermilk (lemon-milk mixture) and mix until well combined. 
5. Mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa into the egg mixture. 
6. Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave, in 30 second intervals.  Stirring every interval until fully melted. 
7. Fold the melted chocolate into the four mixture. 
8. Spoon the muffin mixture into 15 muffin liners.  
9. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. 
10. Bake for 23-25 minutes.  
11. Cool on a wire rack. 

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Dining Rood Chair Remodel

14 October 2014

Shortly before we listed our Philadelphia house for sale, I spray painted our dining room chairs white.  

They were old, scratched and not really in that good of shape.  We bought them 10 years ago together at Ikea for like $20 each.  

Well they lasted a little while longer.  Until our most recent move.  Our old rental had a dumpster for all the rentals to share.  And we took advantage of it.  One chair literally fell apart a few months before we moved.  The other three lasted until moving day but they all ended up in the dumpster.  Actually 2 were in okay shape so I set them next to the dumpster in case someone wanted them.  

Meanwhile, last fall, I had sanded down 4 chairs we acquired from my Grandpa and Mom. 
Neil made seats for all 4 of them.  One was a simple piece of plywood (sanded really good) while the other 3 required inserts and some bracing. 
 At the time, I considered staining them but was worried since they were such different darknesses to begin with.  So I settled on painting them white.  
But then it got cold.  And snowed a lot.  So I didn't do anything with them all winter.  

This spring when our one chair fell apart I almost painted them.  But I didn’t.  I don’t remember why. 

But these lovely unfinished chairs made the move with us and lived in the garage for a while.  And we didn't have dining room chairs for several weeks. 

Then on one of the many trips to Lowe’s, I decided on dark stain.  I picked up a quart of Cabot Premium Wood Finish Stain + Sealer in Midnight.    The selling feature besides the dark color was that it contained stain and sealer in one.  

Thus eliminating the need for additional top coats.  Bonus points all around!

The darker chairs took two coats.  While the lighter chairs needed three coats for all around coverage.  
It wasn’t as easy as staining. Think no wiping.  More like painting.  The coats needed to be even.  No dripping.  Etc.  But it didn't require a top coat.  And it dried fast.  
That and I love the dark color.  The wood grain doesn't show through as well as staining.  But it is there.  That and I choice a really dark color.  

Our dining room with its lovely old white walls is a really bright space.  So I like the way the dark chairs balance a little of that bright white out.  
Also pay no attention to the dining room table.  That will eventually be refinished.  Eventually.  

You can see how the chairs tie into the pictures on the wall on this post.   Also, I still have 2 more chairs to redo.  They were given to us by my Grandma recently and have been sanded but still need to be stained/painted. 

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