We Became A Shoe Free Home and It Has Nothing To Do With Cleaning

My children live on the floor. It doesn’t matter if we are in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom they are constantly stretching out on the floor to play, read, or watch tv. That has always bothered me and forced me to constantly say, “get up off that nasty floor!” mostly after they had already had their nightly baths and pj’s on. Technically the floors were never “nasty” because I try to stick to a reasonable cleaning routine that I’ve done for years, but it still bothered me to see them all stretched out on the floors that had just acquired the same germs from the shoes that we had just worn into the pee-pee filled floor from some public restroom. I know that I can’t protect them from all of the germs, but we can live comfortably in our own home right?shoe-free-home-the-mommy-365

My husband is a General Contractor and he goes into some really yucky places with his work boots most of the time. It always bothered me knowing that those places were coming into our home via the bottom of his boots. He finally stopped wearing them in the house after I pointed out his daily dirt trails in our bedroom carpet and other places. Yuck! I made the suggestion for us to try going shoeless for a weekend just to see how it worked for our lifestyle. This meant that we would only put on our shoes at the door and remove them once we entered back in.

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Product and Image Courtesy of Pixie Dust Louisville

It took some getting used to and of course, we forgot a few times. I did purchase a shoe tray for each door in our home so that we wouldn’t have to take our shoes to our closet immediately and to keep the doorway from looking cluttered. We were already familiar with removing our shoes on rainy days, so now it was just getting into the routine of doing it on other days. My son was the first to say that he loved the “no shoes” life in our home. That made me happy! After a few days of going shoeless in our home, it was time to clean the carpets and floors once over to make sure that we had a fresh start. I decided to add a basket with socks and shoe covers just in case visitors didn’t feel comfortable removing their shoes. So far, I’ve only had a few eye rolls and you already know that I don’t care. It’s our home and we have a right to live how we want inside of our home.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out from a few people that visited our home that they know lots of people that have the same “no shoe” rule in their own homes, so they were more than comfortable with respecting our request in our home. I was told by a few of our visitors that the people that they know that live shoe-free at home was because they wanted to keep their floors and carpets pristine and for others, it’s because of issues with their immune system. I never even knew that wearing shoes in your own home could negatively affect your health or immune system. I always believed and kind of still do, that a few germs are necessary to build up a healthy immune system. However, I was not shocked when this clip from The Today Show revealed just how nasty our shoes are and reasons that support my family’s efforts for going shoe-free.

Shortly after we became a shoe-free home we were invited to one of my daughter’s friends house for a birthday party. Surprisingly this home was also shoe-free and of course, we were no strangers to this way of living. I’ll admit that it kind of reassured me that I was still a normal mom and wife with just a preference on how I wanted things in my home. I could care less about cleaning. I am not against that, it actually is kind of therapeutic at times. Laundry is the monster that I hate in my home. I know that we have made the right choice for now. Going shoeless in your home may not be the right choice for you, but if you are considering it here are a few ways to get started today.

6 ways to become a shoe free home

 Carmen

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My Family is Finally Blended

I’m writing this post a day after Father’s Day for a reason, but mostly because God brought it to my attention early this morning that he took care of that little problem with my family that always made me feel sick, worried, and upset. I have a blended family that consists of my biological parents, step-parents, and of course siblings. However, I never equate spending the holidays with my siblings because I know how complicated it is with them having several sets of parents and in-laws. They don’t need the extra stress either.

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I love the holidays, oh my goodness, I love them so much, but leading up to the actual day use to make me nauseated because I was afraid to make my family upset. I’m close to all of my parents and I felt like they all equally demanded the same amount of attention from me during the holidays or other important occasions such as Father’s Day. My goal was to make everyone feel loved by first visiting my dad’s house where he and my step-mom are for a certain amount of hours and then jet over to my mom’s house with her and my step-dad for a certain amount of hours and this was all without even calculating my inlaws into the commute. My sweet and patient husband, bless him! At the end of the night, I felt like I had accomplished the goal but at the expense of my husband’s and my peace. It was starting to become unfair to my kids as well.

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My mom was always the voice of reason by telling me, “you can’t make everybody happy or this person and that person will be okay at the end of the day.” That comforted me. God guided me by making me comfortable with inviting all my parents to the kids’ birthday gatherings and special life events. We started choosing what days everyone would have during the holidays so that we could still enjoy our day as a family. Turns out that the older my parents get they actually have a life outside of us as their kids and grandkids and don’t want us holding all of their time anyway. Ha! Having everyone gathered in small rooms together made them work it out or put aside their differences for the moment. God was working on us all and I didn’t even know it. What made it all real for me was at my daughter’s 3rd birthday party here at home. My dad and step-dad were talking leisurely about randoms like they have done in the past. They were able to throw in petty remarks with each other and it all ended in laughter from us and them both. At another time during the party, my mom, step-mom, my aunts, my mother-in-law, and I were all laughing in the kitchen in peace. God was just working it all out and my prayers were being answered. This Father’s Day I was able to post a pic of both my dad’s and my husband as my Facebook profile picScreenshot_2019-06-17-12-10-30~2.png without the fear of offending one dad or the other. Not that they would actually say something to me, but you all know people have other ways of expressing their dissatisfaction. What really put the icing on the cake for me was my hearing my dad tell me that it was so nice of me to put them all on a pic together and then having my step-dad to tell me that he really enjoys talking with my dad when we are all together. Mannnnnn, I was so elated and thankful! God did it all and I finally know what it means to have a blended family.

Do you have a blended family? How has your experience been?

Carmen

Oh Toodles! My Toddler Turned 3!

Time is moving so fast with my daughter. I don’t remember her sitting on our laps for a long time. We didn’t rush her to grow up, but she was just too determined to be held back for our cuddles and babying behaviors.

I know that it’s because she has an older brother and desperately wants to do what he does, but someone should have told her that I needed her to stay smaller for just a little bit longer. She’s my grace baby and yes, I cry a little inside when I say that and think of her like that.

The grace baby that we also like to refer to as ladybug, mook-mook, and sour patch kid turned 3 on May 29. She literally told us that her birthday was coming every day up until her actual birthday. She was just super excited! She told us that she wanted a Spiderman party and then a Peppa Pig party, and she finally settled with a Minnie Mouse theme party. On her actual birthday, we kept things simple with pizza for dinner and cupcakes. She knew that she was having a birthday party with her family and kept telling me that she wanted to jump outside in the tent like the last time. That meant that she wanted a bounce house. That also meant a hot outdoor party which I wasn’t looking forward to having. Because of the 98 degree temps that we are having every day, I decided to schedule her party for 10-12 a.m. That gave us 80-degree temps with a little breeze. Considering that it was rather early for a birthday party I didn’t want to serve pizza or barbeque like last year, so I turned to my favorite Pinterest boards to find some brunch ideas. I could not find any good ideas that would allow me to not have to be concerned about safe food temps, so I gave up in a little frustration and decided to leave it in Gods hands. My husband was settled that he would pick up kids meals from anywhere we wanted the next morning if we didn’t come up with something. I figured that whatever God decided to tell us to buy or prepare that morning was what it would be even if it was pizza. I kid you not, but at about 2 a.m. that morning the holy spirit told me to prepare a variety of sliders. I was like okay Jesus, help me make this taste good now! I got a few ideas of what meat to use from Pinterest and a few techniques to make them taste extra delicious. It worked perfectly for the time of day. I decided on Ham and Cheddar, Beef and Mozzarella, Turkey and Cheddar, and Turkey Sausage and Cheddar Cheese Eggs all on Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

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We also served strawberries, grapes, and bananas and cake. Our beverages were orange juice, water, 100% fruit juice boxes for the kids, and of course soda. My momma, you all, oh goodness! She is the real MVP! She got in the kitchen without a blink and made those sliders like it was nothing. To top it all off she helped me finish the edible desserts which were Oreo cookie Minnie Mouse ears on a stick. My husband’s sweet cousin bagged them up into treat bags with the little twist ties.

I think everyone was happy with the food and that was my goal! Minnie Mouse decorations are one of the easiest party decorations that you can buy or make. I pulled party decor that I used from previous parties that included mason jars, tulle, and felt fabric.

I’ve realized that it’s much prettier and cheaper to buy a few yards of fabric as table covers versus the plastic table covers. You have fewer wrinkles and if you purchase a neutral color you can use them for years to come. Walmart had precut 1-yard fabric in just the colors that I needed. I used them to cover our tables and once I was done with them I just placed them into the washing machine to store away for future use. I knew that I wanted Minnie Mouse ears on everything, so I turned to one of my favorite websites, Canva. I love that you can create any type of design that you normally would have to pay for on Etsy.

Now, don’t get me wrong Etsy is still a great site because there are a few party products that you can find that save you time from creating and that Canva may not be able to reproduce, mostly the vinyl products. However, for the most part, you can DIY your own decor if you have time and only plan to use cardstock. I decided to make a happy birthday board that just says “happy birthday Mariyah” for the gift area. I always use our fireplace as the gift area to save space from a traditional gift table. To make the birthday board and other printables for the party, I switched between the Gochi Hand and Brusher font on Canva. To finish the birthday board I cut streamer paper into circles and my sweet son helped me glue them to the board. I also added some Minnie Mouse ears with a bow.

I love the party frame that allows guest to take fun pics, so I had to make one of those as well. I used pink paint, glitter, and my husband hand drew Minnie Mouse ears with bows. The glitter hearts where leftover from previous party decor and the Minnie Mouse hands were from a free printable clip art site. The old mason jars worked perfectly for a table centerpiece and the different shades of old tulle worked as a table runner. I didn’t place any of the pink plates on the table as decor because of sanitary reasons and kids. I also decided to use plain pink plates because I think Minnie Mouse plates would have been too overwhelming on a table along with all of the Minnie Mouse decors in the room. I had Minnie Mouse ears on the wall, on the doors of our dining room, and on napkins. My daughter also wore cute Minnie Mouse ears that she refused to keep on the entire time of the party. Oh well! The tags that I created to place into the mason jars were made from Canva and it was a card with my daughter’s birthdate and initial, a Minnie Mouse quote, and Minnie Ears.

You can find the craft sticks at hobby lobby or you can use kabob sticks for a sharp point to press through the tulle. My mother-n-law added the balloons to the jar as a special touch.

Let’s talk about balloons. I purchased two jumbo balloons from Winn-Dixie and for whatever reason that were deflated within an hour after the party started. I purchased them specifically for the cake table which meant that there was now no decor available for the cake table. Thank goodness my mother-n-law had already bought a ton of Minnie Mouse balloons, so we were able to use a few of those. I already struggle with decorating cake tables, so I definitely did not like that my $20 for two balloons was gone. Yes, I got my money back on Sunday. Now, you all should know me by now! Frugal….frugal!

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The bounce house was fun for the kids and everyone was happy. The cake was delicious as expected because the baker is so gifted with her hands. Mariyah has told me several times that she had fun at her party and that she loved her party and that was my ultimate goal, but next year I will let a party place do the work. I’m over this, but I do believe birthdays are important enough to be celebrated every single year. She’s three and I’m thankful that she’s thriving and healthy.

Did any of you celebrate your birthday in May like my daughter and me? Let me know in the comments below!

Simple and Safe Chores for Children That Just Want to Help

As a parent, it’s instinctual to want to do everything for our children. Especially our sweet toddlers. What I’ve noticed about my daughter in comparison to my son is that she is more eager to do things on her own. This may also be because she wants to be like her big brother or that she is just a naturally independent girl. She has asked to help me do a variety of things as early as age one and she hasn’t stopped just yet. If your little one is like mine and begs to help when you are cleaning, these chores are simple, safe, and will definitely help your young learner feel independent.

Putting away the dishes is a simple task that most children really enjoy doing. They can help by setting the table, cleaning the table, unloading the dishwasher, and putting a few dishes away. As always it’s important to make sure that you put away the fragile dishes and sharp cutlery such as knives. In keeping things fun, most children will definitely want to play with the pots and pans when they help put them away.

At this age, laundry hasn’t become a headache to children. As a matter of fact, most kids think its pretty fun. I think that we just get caught up in the correct way to do laundry, so if you’re like me in this aspect leave the folding for yourself. The goal is to make sure that they are having fun.

Children under the age of 5 that are asking to help out with laundry can do so by gathering laundry from hampers, placing and removing laundry in the machines, and if they are becoming skilled in sorting they can even help to match socks. Matching socks can be made into a game that also helps them learn an important skill. If you have laundry that is slightly more germy such as underwear or bath towels I would recommend that you have your little one clean their hands immediately after handling.

Putting away toys, crayons, and books, and personal items are just a few things that children under 5 are skilled at doing, but may not necessarily enjoy doing. When we ask them to begin to clean up there own things they suddenly become sleepy, tired, hungry, or confused. It’s mostly funny to see their expressions and ability to wiggle out of helping.

Teach them the designated areas that things must be returned to after play if they intend to play with them the next day. This chore will also help children that attend preschool learn how to be a team player and keep their classroom tidy. Trust me when I say that their teachers will expect them to do their part in helping. Why not begin at home? Children between the ages of 14- 24 months will require a little more patience from us as they learn to help put away their toys.

Dusting furniture is another chore that we may find absolutely boring but can be made into a fun game if young children want to help. Especially if you use a Swiffer to get the job done. Young children can imagine that they have a magic wand or sword. If certain areas are extremely dusty skip from allowing the kids to help. You wouldn’t want to run the risk of an allergy flare up or skin irritation.

Putting away the groceries is really fun for young children. They see it as a huge responsibility that only the grown-ups take care of, but are wowed that you are allowing them to help. They can help by putting bottled water into the fridge, snacks in the pantry basket, or fruit in the crisper drawer. It doesn’t last long, so if they are asking to help you’d better enjoy the help that you are getting right now.

When children ages 5 and under ask to help out they can do so by keeping their bedrooms tidy which also includes them making their own bed. Now it will not be perfect and the comforter will not be smooth, but they can easily learn how to fold the covers back and how to place their pillow upright. This is especially easy if they have a montessori/toddler style bed.

Putting away shoes or clothes in a drawer, clothes basket, or hamper is another chore that young children who want to help out can do fairly simple with maybe a few directions. Once the laundry is folded children can help out by putting reachable things away.

Have you ever found yourself making a pile of paper trash while decluttering the mail that is not worth shredding? This is a good time to allow your young child to learn how to recycle. If you cringe at the thought of your child going near your recycling bin simply take a bag and have them put the unwanted papers into the bag and you can recycle it at a later time. Disclaimer: Be careful and keep a watchful eye out if you decide to use a plastic bag. Plastic bags can cause suffocation in infants and children.

As the weather begins to get warmer children are much more anxious to spend time outdoors. It

is a very fun experience for them to learn to water plants or flowers. A child between the ages of 2.5 to 5 are more likely to be able to fill a cup or watering can with water to help out.

No matter what chore that you decide to allow your little one to help with, try and remember that they are learning and it will not be 100% perfect. They are mostly asking to help because it looks fun. Be sure to compliment their efforts or give them a small reward.

Pets and Babies Safety Tips: How We Prevented Our Dog from Attacking our Newborn

I recently read that a 5-day old baby girl was brutally attacked by her family’s pet in their Dunnellon, Fla. home. What’s even more haunting about this story is that this also occurred in Florida just one month ago when a 7-month-old girl was mauled to death by her family’s dog while sitting in her car seat. Both families assumed that their babies were in safe places, but we should always remember that there is generally no safe place for a child to be left unattended with a dog, cat, or any other animal that is likely to bite under stressful situations.

Dogs are cute and cuddly and quickly become members of our families just like children. This is where we fail as humans. We quickly forget that they are still animals with animal instincts and needs. As a two-time pet owner, I’ve adjusted my thoughts to accept this and we take care of our family pet accordingly. Our first dog, Rambo was like our child because at the time we did not have children. We hugged him, allowed him to roam through our house unattended, he sat under our dinner table every night, he even slept at the foot of our bed a few nights during the month. He was a part of our pack. Family members that were frequent visitors were allowed to come into our home without him freaking completely out, but others were not. Yes, we had a crate to subdue his mighty and harmless roars, but he was clearly expressing to us that those people were not welcome as a part of our pack. This is how all dogs think no matter how cute they are or how many sweaters they wear.

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Three years into our bond with Rambo we welcomed our son. We did not introduce our son to Rambo the way that we should have because we were ignorant that this was a very important solution for forming a bond between a pet and a new family member. Our son’s first night in our home included lots of attention and of course a lot of crying. It was simply too much change for our dog to take in so suddenly. With every whimper and cry that our baby gave, Rambo began to express his disapproval of our tiny baby by growling, howling, and barking loudly and uncontrollably. Of course, my husband told him to “shut it up” several times, but to no avail, he did not stop. In fact, he amped his bark up a few notches. This scared me, shocked my mom who was briefly staying with us to help me with our new baby, made the baby cry louder, and made my husband upset. We decided that it was best that he go into our backyard until we could properly train him to be around our son.

It took almost two years for this to happen. This is where we go wrong as pet owners. We rush the process. Dogs sometimes take time to accept change just like people. My husband slowly allowed him to lick our sons toes sometimes and smell our son. We would allow our dog to see us interact with our son and ask him as our pet to join us. We walked as a family and my son would join my husband in feeding and bathing our dog. Our dog, like all dogs in families, needed to understand that our son was a member of our pack. He also needed to know that my son’s position in the pack trumped his. This concept has to be taught to pets because it closely resembles their natural instincts with their parents, siblings, and breed. The biggest steps that helped my son become a part of our pack was when he began to give our dog treats and play with him. We never left them unattended together. Never! It is really easy for pets to assume that babies or small children are a threat. Here are some helpful tips to introduce your child to your family pet and to prevent your child from becoming a victim of pet attacks.

Pets and Babies Safety Tips

1. Children sometimes touch animals inappropriately in places that they may find sensitive or target areas for confrontation. Begin to teach them soft touch or no touch. Babies will not understand this concept, so it’s best to hold your child in a safe distance when they are interacting with your family pet.

2. It is also a good idea to teach children to allow dogs to eat their food uninterrupted. Most animals are sensitive about their mealtime. Unlike humans who are able to fix food for themselves whenever they like, pets have to wait on scheduled times. If the pet is really hungry or frustrated during meal time this can lead to aggressive behavior from the pet towards your child.

3. The high pitch sound of a constant cry can be disturbing for a dog’s sensitive hearing, so it may also be helpful to remove them from the room during the introduction phase if your child is visibly afraid or unable to be calmed. Dogs are very smart in sensing energy and moods.

My husband and I initially sought help from a professional dog training academy in our area, but soon after arriving, our dog being to suffer from severe separation anxiety. At the recommendation of our Veternarian, we decided to stop the training and bring him back home. We began to read and watch information from the world renown dog trainer Cesar Milan. Cesar Milan is a great dog expert. Most of his tips can apply to cats or pet pigs as well. Cesar recommends a few helpful tips for introducing your baby to your family pet. You can read more of them here.