Thursday, May 17, 2018

Get Ready for Summer Babywearing with Comfy Joey! (Review)

            Hey folks! Spring is finally here and it's time to get outdoors with the babes! Looking for a lightweight carrier to use during warmer weather this year? Read on!
             Comfy Joey specializes in linen ring slings and water slings. Founded in 2005 by a mother of 4, Comfy Joey's products are made right here in the U.S. In Boise, Idaho. Even cooler, they are completely owned and operated by moms!
             Before I dive into my review, let's talk a little more about their slings.

*Per the Comfy Joey website

*Can be used from 8 to 35 pounds
*Can help soothe a fussy or colicky baby
*Can fold compactly to fit in a diaper bag
*Can be used while nursing on the go
*Our 100% linen fabric, airy and supportive, though a bit stiff at first, will soften with wash and use. Linen slings are good for newborns or toddlers, and excellent for summer heat.

I decided to go with a Medium, in case you are curious. ;)

             Comfy Joey was kind enough to send us one of their linen ring slings to try out. I have to admit, even though I had been tossing around the idea of trying a ring sling for reasons I'll talk about below, I was still leery. After all, how the heck do you keep the baby from falling out?! As it turns out, using a sling is not nearly as scary as I thought. Here are some more thoughts and notes I took on our Comfy Joey ring sling experience.

*Comes with informational DVD on how to do different carries and other important noes on how to use a ring sling. Very handy for noobs like me who have absolutely NO idea what they are doing! (Although I still recommend watching videos online as well.)
*Great choice for all sizes of wearers. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am on the bigger side. I am not skinny by any means! With a lot of other carriers, us fluffy girls have to worry about whether they will even fit us or not! That is not the case with Comfy Joey slings. They offer a wide variety of sizes (and have a really nifty size chart on their site to find the perfect size of carrier for you!) and are easy to adjust so you get the perfect fit, regardless of what size you are! (Which is also handy if you have multiple people using the sling.)

For those of you out there that are hardcore babywearers, you probably noticed in the post image at the top that I didn't quite have baby froggy legged enough. I just wanted to show you that we did get it corrected! :)

*Very comfortable! Seriously, I have had such a hard time with carriers being uncomfortable in one way or another in the past. The Comfy Joey ring sling alleviates even shoulder pain with the way they are designed. The shoulder spreads out quite a bit, which avoids getting any pressure points while wearing. It is now tied with my other favorite carrier! Plus, it also seems comfy for baby because...
*It definitely helps calm fussy babies! Gillian cannot be in this sling longer than 5, 10 minutes tops, without falling asleep. In fact, sometimes it's the only way I can get her to go to sleep during the day when I know she needs to stop fighting it! It came in very handy at a canvas and cupcakes party I recently attended when she was ready for a nap, but wouldn't sleep in her car seat. But, I'll get to more on all the places/situations I've worn her in the Comfy Joey so far in a minute. ;)

She's a happy bunny, even if the lighting does make her look like she's balding on top. 😂

*As far as comfort for baby, she also seems to like this carrier better than the stretchy wrap that I usually just use when they're tiny like she is because she can move her head around more. All of our children have had freakishly strong head and neck muscles from early on (probably have to so their necks don't break from their giant heads!) and Gillian has been a cross between our two older daughters so far: She likes snuggles, but she also likes to look around. (aka try to fight sleep even more) The stretchy wrap just seems to tick her off compared to this one. BUT, if you do have a tiny babe who still needs the head and neck support, you still get it. Just pull up the top rail (edge) higher and/or roll it to support baby's head! Oh. And speaking of that stretchy wrap...
*The Comfy Joey ring sling doesn't slip like the stretchy wraps that a lot of people wear their newborns in! Seriously. I can't tell you how annoying that is. It's nice to not have to worry about readjusting now!
*I will admit: This carrier has the biggest learning curve out of any styles I have tried...But it's worth it once you get it figured out! I didn't find the stretchy wraps too hard to get the hang of. Mei tais are basically the same, so it was a breeze. But, personally, I found ring slings a bit tricky getting “just right”.

*I like that there are tons of different ways to carry babies in this, depending on what age they are, but I'll also admit I have only tried one so far. I've also been meaning to try it out with my toddler, but just haven't gotten around to it...And I'm not sure she would go for it. But, the options are there and I absolutely love that this is a “one size fits all” for babies through toddlers. Not many carriers can boast that, and especially not for the reasonable price! (Hooray for being economical too!)
*As I said, I was leery of trying a ring sling for a long time, mostly because A) It looked complicated and B) I was worried baby would fall out somehow. Now that I've finally tried one, I wish I had tried one sooner since it's such a great option for being economical and its ability to use from birth to toddlerhood, as I just mentioned. PLUS, so long as you're getting baby positioned correctly, of course, it really is more secure than it looks once you get the hang of it.

*I highly recommend practicing a lot at home with the Comfy Joey until you get comfortable with it before attempting to use it in public. Otherwise, you will have lots of adjusting to do! I thought I was ready to take it elsewhere, but got confused when I tried to use it the first time we all went to the park because I wasn't as familiar with it as I thought I was. lol
*I have worn the Comfy Joey sling doing quite a few things so far, such as walks in the woods, playing hide and seek with the older two kids, going to the park, doing farm chores (though that was a bit tricky and hasn't happened since! Haha), while painting, and shopping.
*Another thing I really love about this carrier is that you can just roll it up and throw it in the diaper bag. It takes up hardly any room, especially compared to our soft-structured and hiking carriers! When you're cramming three kids and all of their stuff into your car, this is more important than you may think!
*Last, but not least, this sling is easy to take off or use for nursing. I haven't attempted to use it while breastfeeding yet because I'm un-coordinated enough as it is, BUT, I like that I can easily take this on and off. This aspect of it is a real game changer when I have to nurse in public, plus I can use it as a nursing cover! What's not to love?!

             Comfy Joey also makes toy slings for your budding babywearers to practice with their dolls! Also, if you are reading this from Canada, Comfy Joey now offers shipping to our friends up north as well as offers a manual in French!
             Be sure to stay up-to-date with Comfy Joey on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Mixed Bag Mama received free product in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
Letters to my Daughter

Monday, May 14, 2018

Plan Your Kids to Parks Day 2018 Adventure!

             Hey folks! Kids to Parks Day, hosted by the National Park Trust, is happening THIS Saturday, May 19, 2018! If you're unfamiliar with this initiative, it is basically a fun way to encourage youth (and their families!) to get outdoors and explore all of the great parks and rec areas our country has to offer. Read on for more resources from Buddy Bison and the National Park Trust on how to make your outing more fun!

*Check for a special local event on their map. (More events will be added the closer it gets to the date.) Don't have anything going on near you? Download this free resource sheet to plan your own adventure!

*Pledge to participate. You could win some awesome prizes!

*Share any photos you take on your adventure on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with #KidstoParks and #BuddyBison

*Use the nifty park finder to plan your day out...Or future trips!

What local, state, or national park will you be visiting this weekend?
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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Life With 3 Kids

            Hey folks! Since I'm obviously no longer doing pregnancy updates (Gillian is already 2 months old as of last Friday! What the heck?!), I thought doing a post partum update might be fun. (Don't worry. I'm not talking about gross, body post partum stuff. Lol)
             So far, knock on wood, it's actually been easier to transition from two to three kids than it was one to two! From what I have read and heard from others, I am in the minority on feeling this way. Shocker.
Even though the kids outnumber the adults in our household now, I think I am just used to how things seem to flow for us with multiple kids. I'm already used to taking forever to get everything ready to go somewhere. I'm used to it taking forever to actually get in the car. I'm used to being fashionably late. (Ok, a lot of times it's not-so-fashionably.) I'm used to my older two being demanding. I'm used to them bickering all the time. (Not to say it doesn't annoy me to no end!) Really, taking care of the baby is a nice reprieve. It gives me an excuse to chill out for awhile.
             We have been super fortunate and all of our babies have been easy. Even Gillian never really fusses for no reason. The only time she really gets like that is if she's bored. She likes having someone talk to her. :)
             She seems kind of advanced for her age when it comes to some things (What parent doesn't think that, right?), but I attribute it to the fact that she was so big to begin with! She already has her own version of a laugh, though admittedly, is not a full on laugh. We've been lucky in the sleep department too with all of our kids and she has been sleeping through the night since she was 5 weeks old. It's just too bad my boobs wake me up after 6 hours! She ends up sleeping more than I do!
             The older two kids have adapted to her presence well. Ripley was extra snuggly for awhile, but she's done a LOT better than I expected for being such a mama's girl. They both like to hold her and I've been letting Myka help give her bottles lately.
             Speaking of which, I've unfortunately had to supplement with formula again. She was fine until 2 weeks, then it's like her chunkiness finally caught up to her. Lol But, a fed baby is most important...with my sanity a close second. :D
             The biggest difficulty I've had so far is going places. It stressed me out before, so now it REALLY stressed me out! I've only ventured out a few times by myself with all of them. It's hard enough when John goes with us too! I've truly come to appreciate the phrase “it's like herding cats”.
I hope things keep going as well as they have been. For now, I'm just going to enjoy only two of them being mobile!

What was the hardest transition for you when you added kids on?
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Monday, May 7, 2018

Tips for Camping with Young Children

            Hey folks! I'm so excited it's camping season again! While I keep my excitement in check until baby gets better at regulating her body temperature, I thought I would share some suggestions for keeping kids (and, in turn, parents!) happy during your next camping trip.

*Take lots of snacks and drinks. Kids are bottomless pits. Make sure you pack enough for the car too!
*Take entertainment for the car ride: DVD player, Kindle, coloring books, car games, etc.
*Entertainment for down time too. Definitely limit how many books and toys your kids bring, but make sure they have something that will keep them entertained in times of need.
*Bring bikes or scooters, if able. This is a good boredom buster when you're cooking or otherwise hanging out at the campsite not doing anything.
*Bring extra clothes. Kids are bound to get dirty!
*Bring extra blankets and jackets. Weather can be unpredictable. It's better to have something and not need it in this case than not have it!
*Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray! Nothing makes for a miserable trip like sunburns and bug bites!
*Wet wipes, wet wipes, wet wipes! Again, kids are filthy creatures, only exacerbated by food, being outdoors, etc.
*Get help with shower time, if able! We were pretty much the only ones using the shower house on one trip, so we all just went in the women's shower house one evening and showered. Ripley was only 1 ½ at the time, so we didn't really want her to slip and fall. Plus, I don't think I could have handled myself and both of them at the same time!
*Camp at non-peak times. It's not much fun when you're constantly worried about young kids running out in the road, not paying attention while riding bikes, etc. Plus, it's just a lot more pleasant if you're going for a little peace and quiet!
*Make sure to wear them out during the day so they will go to sleep faster/easier at night!
*Don't forget their “comfort item”: Special blankie, toy, stuffed animal, etc.
*Bring extra shoes or a pair of boots as well as tennis shoes. Easy off shoes are especially handy when tent camping!

Have you ever went camping with young kids? What advice would you give to others to make the experience go as smoothly as possible?
Letters to my Daughter
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Lucy At Home

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The 3 Types of Park Moms

             Have you ever noticed that there seems to be distinct groups of different types of moms at the park? Maybe I just people watch too much for my own good (I majored in psychology my first year of college. I can't help myself!), but I especially noticed this on our most recent trip to the park and found it a bit humorous. Let's explore the three different types of “park moms”...

*The Anti-Social, Cranky Mom

These are the easiest moms to spot as they try to distance themselves as much as possible from the rest of the people at the playground. They make no move to try to talk to anyone and seem to avoid even having to interact with their kids. Some look pissed off to even be there and some even sit in their vehicles! Maybe it's because they usually have at least two kids with them, oftentimes more, and the only reason they are at the park is in hopes that said kids will burn some energy off after school so anti-social cranky mom doesn't totally lose her shit when they get home. If you are one of the next two types, it's best to just not even bother. Heed the body language!

*Friendly, Young Mom

Now when I say young, I don't necessarily mean the mom's age, although a lot of times she will be on the younger side too. I'm referring more to the mom who shows up with a young kid, usually only one, that is usually under the age of 1 ½, roughly, 2 at most. These moms can almost be described as perky, because, you know, they only have one kid to deal with and they are loving life. Baby is still in the cute stage and I don't care what bullshit you've heard, one kid is WAY easier than 2, 3, 4+! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! They haven't sucked perky mom's will to live yet and it's still actually enjoyable to do things with him/her. But, I'm rambling...

Young, perky mom is usually friendly enough, but she doesn't seem to be actively looking for new mom friends. In fact, half the time you can find her with a friend who is roughly the same age who also has one child who is roughly the same age as her child. Again, these types are nice enough and usually willing to engage in conversations about your youngsters, but don't expect any phone number/Facebook friend invite exchanges.

*Desperate to Connect to Others Mom

These types of moms can sometimes be tricky to spot. Why? Several factors go into this. Sometimes disconnected mom is so desperate for adult interaction that she can come off a little too eager. Other times, though, these moms can be timid for the same reason: They're so used to talking and interacting with children all day that they tend to become socially awkward and shy, though they very much want to connect with other moms. Don't fault them for this.

A good indicator of this type of mom is if she has two or more (usually more like three or more) children with her. The younger the kids, the better. These poor souls, as you can imagine, don't really get out of the house much to do fun things any more, unlike perky young mom. Again, this can go either way, but over eager mom will likely seek any adult interaction, whether they have that much in common with the other moms she meets or not. The shy ones, on the other hand, will tend to seek out meaningful relationships. After the initial “how do you do?” phase, they may ask more personal questions, like what you or your kids are into.

             The next time you are at the park, take a look around. It's fun to people watch. :) And who knows: You may just find your next best new mom friend! After all, making friends when you're a mom is kind of like dating. ;)

(P.s. This post is written in (mostly) good humor, so please don't take offense to anything written here!)
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Lucy At Home

Monday, April 30, 2018

Dawning of the Age of Extracurriculars

             So...It's finally happening. Myka has reached the age where she can actually participate in “extracurricular activities”. I've been looking forward to this for awhile, but I still have mixed feelings about it.
             It makes me kind of sad because that means she is getting older. :( On the other hand, I'm kind of glad because I think organized activities with other kids will be good for her for multiple reasons.
             First of all, there is obviously the social aspect. If you didn't already know, we homeschool, so she could definitely use some more social interaction with kids her age. We used to go to music class and storytime at the library pretty regularly before the baby, but so far we haven't made it for either because it's just so early for us to be able to get there on time! (For the record, we have been to the library other days since the baby was born.) I already struggled before with just two kids! We also go to nature school occasionally and have play dates with friends even less often as well as make it to park days for the homeschool groups around here, so she could definitely stand some more social interaction! I know, totally my own fault, but I am trying!
             Second, Myka could also stand some more structured activities. I'm all about free play, but she REALLY needs to start working more on learning to follow directions. Like I tell my husband all the time, I don't think it's that she doesn't understand how to follow directions, she just refuses to. Because she's stubborn. She is definitely one of those kids that listens to other adults better than her parents. ;) I believe the nice way to put it is “strong willed”. Ha ha
             So, yah. I think it will be good for her to learn something new she already seems to enjoy (we've been having lots of “dance parties” at home lately ha ha) in a structured atmosphere (while still having fun, of course), practice following directions, pick up on some social skills interacting with other kids, and...getting some time away from arguing with her younger sister. ;)
             I'm not sure how good all of this will be for my sanity, though. It's so hard for me to get them all out of the house by myself. (Who am I kidding? It's hard with my husband too!) I have Myka signed up for dance class this summer, which will be in the evening around the time that baby gets all clingy. She has also informed me that she wants to do swim lessons again, which I'm glad, but I'm sure the week she has them will be during dance class time too, so we will end up going two places one day. :/
             She also says she wants to do “real soccer”, so I agreed that she could try it out in the fall since spring soccer is already in full swing. At least I should get a month long break between dance class and soccer! I definitely don't want or plan on becoming one of those families who is constantly running kids around from one activity to another, but I feel like it's important and beneficial for kids to try things out.

Are your kids involved in lots of activities, or do you limit them?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Library Picks of the Week: Insect Edition

            Hey folks! To be totally honest, I've been kind of strapped for post ideas lately, so thought I would share another library pick post! Not that books aren't fun and important. ;)

Caterpillar Dance

What kid doesn't love butterflies? We have read this one several times already. Although it's kind of boring for me as the adult reader, I do like that it is so repetitive since that helps the kids remember the story. Plus, read it enough, and they will remember it and think they are reading it after awhile. ;) Not to mention my 5 year old could definitely use some practice in the memorizing department! It's also a fun book for little ones who are learning their colors...and the caterpillars are soft!

Oh my a Fly!

Both of the kids have enjoyed this book as well. How can you not with pop up pictures? Myka also likes the morbid sense of humor at the end. Can't imagine where she gets that...

Who am I? Insects

Are you seeing a theme here yet? To be fair, two of the books on our list this week did come from the Bugs early literacy bag from the library. This is a fun book about bugs to get kids thinking, made even more fun with pull out pictures!

Is Your Mama a Llama?

This was my personal favorite, though the kids seemed to like it too. I loved the rhyming and silliness. The kids enjoyed identifying the animals.

Have you read any of these books with your kids? What are your favorite recent library finds?
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Activities to Keep Kids Entertained While You Can't!

             Hey folks! Nursing a newborn and having to take care of/entertain other kids can be challenging! This is especially true if you have younger kids who may not be capable of keeping themselves entertained yet. So, here is my list of things that require little or no forethought that your kids can do the next time they claim they are bored while you're stuck on the couch. ;)

*Build with blocks or Legos

*Paint with watercolors (In theory, how much damage can they do?)
*Play with playdough (If you trust him/her not to eat it!)
*Look at or read books
*Play learning games on the computer or Kindle (My 5 year old is currently obsessed with the Wild Kratts games on PBS Kids.)

My kids love camping so much that that is one of their favorite "pretend games" too!

*Play pretend (Make up their own game or pretend with a play kitchen, tool bench, etc.)
*Play with a quiet book
*Put on a puppet show
*Have a photo shoot (Either you take the pictures while they're being silly or let them take the pictures! You may be surprised at what you find. ;)
*Play with trucks or dinosaurs
*Watch a movie together

What are your go-to ideas to keep your kids occupied when you can't?
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Friday, April 20, 2018

Earth Day Giveaway-Enter to win an Omaiki Diaper Cover!

Welcome to the
Omaiki Diaper Cover Giveaway!

Sponsored By: Omaiki

Did you remember that Earth Day is this Sunday? What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway for a reusable, green item!?

Simply enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an Omaiki diaper cover in winner's choice of currently available print or color! Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. And Canada over the age of 18.

Mixed Bag Mama is not responsible for prize shipment. No compensation was received for hosting this giveaway. This giveaway is not associated with any social media sites, including, but not limited to, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Learning Activities with Leftover Easter Eggs

             Hey folks! I'm a little behind on this, but does anyone else still have plastic Easter eggs hanging around their house? Hopefully we're not the only ones who hoard Easter eggs all year long. ;)
             It seems kind of wasteful to throw all those eggs away, doesn't it? Well, don't! There are plenty of ways you can reuse them, all year long! Here are a few ideas I've seen around the internet and came up with myself.

*ABC/123 Egg Hunt
My 5 and 2 year old are OBSESSED with hunting for eggs. They don't care what is hidden in them either. So I figured, why not make it educational?

I wrote down all the letters and numbers 1-20, cut them up, stuck them inside the eggs, and scattered them about outside. As always, they had a blast! We brought them in and named off the letters and numbers inside along with words that start with that letter.

*Upper and Lowercase Match Up
Write the uppercase letters on the top half of your eggs and the lowercase on the bottoms. Mix them up and have your child match them together!

*Counting/Number Recognition Practice
Write numbers 1-5, 1-10, or whatever your child needs to work on on your eggs. Find some small items that will fit in the eggs or, even more fun, some treats, like M&M's or goldfish crackers. Have your child count out the appropriate number of items in each egg...Then enjoy your treats!

*Scavenger Hunt
You can go several different ways with this. Make up clues (you'll likely have to help your child with understanding or reading this part) and have your child follow them to each egg. You can work on colors, numbers, shapes, etc with this!

*Color Matching
For younger kids, mix your egg halves up in two piles: one for tops and one for bottoms. Have your child put them back together with the right colors!

*Finish the Pattern
Work with your child on making or finishing patterns. For older kids, use a different color for each egg halve for more of a challenge!

*Bonus Ideas

-Use as bath toys
What kid doesn't love pouring water in the tub?

-Make noise shakers
Super fun and easy to make to boot! Fill your eggs up with rice, beans, sand, etc. Tape up/super glue any holes and where the two halves go together, of course. Tada!

Do you keep and reuse your plastic Easter eggs?
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