July 31, 2014

Vacation Day 1 Part 2 Philadelphia, PA

We arrived in Philadephia, PA on Saturday evening.  We had a hotel right downtown so we checked in and then headed out to see the sights.  

We headed towards the Liberty Bell and Washington Square Park. 

Mike was making fun of me because I was taking all the pictures above, and I didn't know what they were and what significance they were, but I figure it was better to have the pictures, I can always delete them later. 

On our way back we headed to JFK Plaza to see the LOVE Sculpture. It wasn't what I thought it would be at all. I pictured some huge thing, like 20 feet tall, it was barely 8 feet tall and up on a shelf so you could stand under it.  They had some other neat pieces there that Marley liked. 

We then headed back towards our hotel and ate at Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. Then it was time for bed because we were heading to Sesame Place in the morning!! 

July 30, 2014

Vacation Day 1 -- Hershey, Pennsylvania

It's time to share our vacation that we just took to the east coast.  

We left on Friday night around 8pm and drove until about 4am. By this point we were in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We slept for about 4 hours and then hit the road again to Hershey, Pennsylvania.  We arrived around lunch time and stopped at Fuddruckers.  Then we headed to Chocolate World. 

They have several tours and activities that you can do, but we just did the free factory tour and some shopping. 

 There is so much chocolate you can buy in different flavors and sizes. 

Marley picked out a giant Hershey kiss and ate it in two bites. 

It was so crowded.  We were there maybe an hour before hitting the road to our hotel in  downtown Philadelphia.

July 29, 2014

Homemade weed killer

Our house sat empty for 2 years before we moved in so it needs some serious landscaping help. Think 6 acres of oak trees with 2 years worth of dead leaves, that equals about 6 inches of leaves in the landscaping. We've started clearing out the front and it's very time consuming so we just do a little at a time.  There's a small rock bed in the back by the back porch that I decided to tackle the other day. I cleaned out all the leaves and then started pulling weeds. It was taking forever so I hopped on pinterest and found my pin for a homemade weed killer.  I had everything already except for the spray bottle that I picked up at Menards for less than $5. 

All you need is 

1/2 gallon vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon blue dawn dish soap

Just mix it up in your spray bottle and spray it on the weeds. 

It smells very strongly so I wouldn't go overboard with it. I just did a light spray down and then came back a few hours later and did more.  

This top picture is before I sprayed it and the bottom one is about 5 hours later. It did work, but I still needed to go through and pull the weeds out. This will kill all the plants you spray it on, so I would be careful around your good plants. 

July 28, 2014

Kids Road Trip Activity Packet

So, we just got back from vacation last week and I wanted to share the activity packet I put together for Marley to do. We were in the car for a total of 30 hours over the last week, but she actually used this more while we were out of the car. She mostly slept in the car, which was nice too.

First I searched pinterest and other websites for activity pages. I printed them on a fourth of the page and upside down so when I folded them it made a little book.  Then I stapled in the middle to keep them from falling all over the place. 

I also printed out some blank bingo sheets and filled those in with things I knew she would see while we were driving. I made two copies, but put the items in different spots so I could play along too. 

I printed out some coloring pages too. She had these colored in no time. 

I punched holes in all the big pages and stuck them in a trapper keeper that my mom gave me. I also put some crayons and colorwonder pages and markers in there too along with some plain computer paper so she could make her own art work.  

July 25, 2014

InstaFriday 13

We are currently on the 10 hour drive home from vacation. I'll be posting all about it next week, but here's an Instagram sneak peak for this weeks instafriday hosted by Life Rearranged.

I'm growingto4 if you want to follow me.

July 23, 2014

Birth story

Hello all! Let me begin by Introducing myself. My name is Christina Gasaway. I am a mother of two, one girl and one boy. Zoey is nine-years-old and Toby is eighteen months old. I am a full-time student/Stay-at-home-mom. That last part seems a bit contradictory to me since I am gone a lot. I wanted to share my birthing stories to others; to show that with the “bad” there can also be good!
    When I was 15 I became pregnant with my daughter. It was a problem free pregnancy with the only issue being low iron. That was an easy fix. I simply added some extra iron pills into my daily routine. I gained 21 lbs, after losing 12 lbs up until I was 5 months. I wasn’t sick all the time or starving myself. I was eating healthy and in good amounts. Because of this, the doctors said this was nothing to worry about and normal. My due date was June 5th and I delivered a 6lb 15 oz, 21.5” long baby girl on June 8th.
    I was 16 when I delivered my beautiful little girl. Being young I was unaware to all the information there was available about birth and child nutrition. I had taken quite a few child development classes prior to my pregnancy because it interest me. In comparison to the information available, those classes are miniscule. When I realized my water had broken, think kick to bladder trickle vs. popping large balloon of water gushing, we made our journey up to the hospital. I was in a small room by myself while they checked. The room was roughly 8 feet by 8 feet. Tiny! I am sitting there all alone crazy thoughts racing through my head. I had no support with me. I wasn’t contracting very much nor was I feeling them, but it’s a tough situation no matter what. After what seemed like forever, they moved me to my room for the rest of my stay. I had a LDP room. Once in my room I was hooked up to the monitors and laying in bed....the whole time. I was only dilated a few centimeters upon arrival (roughly 1:30 pm); around 7:30 pm they classified me as “failure to progress” and since my water had broken they administered pitocin. At 16 I was still optimistic in giving birth sans pain meds.
Unfortunately, when they administered the “liquid devil”, aka pitocin, my tune changed. I asked for demoral. I have never been a fan of the idea of epidurals. From the time my water broke until she was delivered it was a total of 13 hours.
    Fast forward almost 7 years later...Mother’s day weekend 2012. After three years of hoping, I found out I was pregnant. After trying for quite some time, it’s hard to process... just ask my five pregnancy tests. ;) This also was a great pregnancy. I am glad I am so fortunate to have no problems with them. I also lost weight with my son, and then...Boom! I have noticed a pattern with this. As long as I have healthy babies I am accepting of this.
    I became pregnant with my son when I was 23. With so much time between I was able to mature and become more knowledgeable in childbirth process, approaches, and pain management.  My daughter was born with a retracting chest and needing oxygen. This caused me to pursue a pain med free birth initially. However, after doing my research I feel it may not have been the pain meds that had affected her, but I still preferred the idea of no pain meds administered. As my pregnancy progressed I became more and more interested in natural approaches, no membrane sweeps or pitocin administered.
    My final prenatal appointment was on my due date. It was 5 p.m. and my doctor had checked me and said I was “definitely a 4.5-5cm”. My blood pressure was raised to a level she was uncomfortable with and suggested I head to the hospital to have my water broken. I took my sweet time... the 15 minute drive took us over an hour and a half. Oops? :) I got to my room and decided I would wander around in my room, do some squats, etc. before the doctor came to check again. When the doctor finally came it was nearly 8pm. My blood pressure was at a level that she was ok with at this point and I had progressed to a 6-7cm. I was in no pain and only had two contractions. Honestly, the only reason I knew why is because the monitor. She left it up to me whether to have my water broken or progress on my own. I had a slight fear of a dry birth, so I allowed them to do so. My water was broken at 8:30pm and contractions began increasing in intensity shortly after. About 9:45 pm they became quite uncomfortable. I still was maintaining no pain meds, even after being asked by the nurses twice already.  At 10:30 I began pushing and at 11:05pm my son was delivered. He was a “sunny side up” baby, meaning he was facing towards my pelvic bone versus facing my rear. With babies in this position, delivery could take longer and bleeding could be increased. I experienced both. The pushing with my daughter only took 5 minutes. My son didn’t nurse right after birth so I was administered a small amount of pitocin to help my uterus contract and control the bleeding.
    You know, something I didn’t know going in... after pains suck! After having my son I learned about after pains. I don’t remember them with my daughter at all; nor did I have hard, sore breasts or leaking.  The more children you have the worse the after pains, so I am told. I still used no pain meds, even though the after pains were worse than my labor contractions. It seemed like labor continued for a few extra days! Ow!
    A piece of advice for nursing moms, don’t be afraid to ask questions! There no silly, gross, or personal questions when it comes to providing the best nutrition for your child/children. Talk to someone close, someone you haven’t talked to in ages, or even a stranger! Also, take advantage of those days at the beginning when you are full and sore. I made that mistake; I was going to school fulltime and was pumping all the time to make sure I had enough milk, when I could have made a stock pile at the very beginning.
Alright! I think I have shared enough now. I hope you find my story helpful or just enjoyed the read. Happy birthing!

July 20, 2014

3 summer fun ideas for families with teens and toddlers

Hi all! I am Jo Davis, author of the blog “Surviving Teens and Toddlers: A Mother’s Tale Straight from the Trenches”—my story of raising five kids ages 17, 15, 14, 11 and 13 months while trying to keep my sanity. All of my posts touch on the gap between the teens and the toddler. Mostly, the posts are my observations, but some are tips and ideas for other parents of teen and tots. Today, I share a tip with all of you, one that I have recently discovered out of necessity. Enjoy.
It is the peak of summer. You have tried every traditional summer activity, the vacation, grandma’s house and even a few trips to the mall. You’ve scoured Pinterest and tried things so weird that your children will never trust your sanity again. You’ve performed every Facebook suggestion, Tumblr idea and Parents Magazine tip. Nevertheless, summer is still here--more than half over actually--and you have NO IDEA what to do with the couch potato teens and mischievous (probably naked) toddler for the rest of the summer.
No clue.
I’ve been there. A few weeks ago when I ran out of things to do and the kids seem to run out of energy to find their own activities. The biggest dilemma? What on God’s green Earth, can I do to engage the teens and appease the toddler? This took some thinking and a few trial runs before I came up with a formula of sorts for entertaining the gap, or planning activities to fit a family with both toddlers and teens.
3 Formulas for Summer Fun
This is going to take a little thought on your behalf, parents. The following formulas are only criteria to look for in potential activities for the family, along with a few examples. Make this your own, to fit your tribe.
1. Open Air + the Arts
You can never go wrong with activities that take place in the wide-open spaces.
These places allow room for the toddler to run, play, sing, dance, get loud and go nuts without bothering other people nearby. The teens get to talk, laugh and get comfortable as well. The arts part is a wide component to this formula. It includes anything from a drive-in movie to an air show, music festival (during the day when bands are most family friendly) or even plays in the park. It’s basically anything that engages the teens’ by the senses—which works for the toddler as well.
2. Food for the Eyes + Random Facts
      Toddlers love shiny things and colors. So do the teens, but with a little something more. Believe it or not, random facts do capture the teen’s interest. They love knowing something odd, freaky, crazy or just plain weird about some of the most mundane things. Surprising facts about history and culture can be found at any museum—art, science, history and museums built to honor special people or places. Walking tours are another option. You can strap the toddler into the stroller and let the teen navigate you through a tour of historical sites, art, or buildings. Anything to engage, stimulate and keep them moving.
3. Getting Dirty + Good Deeds
Okay, this one may a harder sell for the teens—volunteering to do anything is against their nature. Trust me, they will change by the end of the activity. Why? Doing  a good deed makes us feel needed and more connected with our fellow human race. (Don’t tell teens this. They will try to commit you if you do so.) Not even the surliest teenager can resist the feeling. The getting dirty part is for the toddler of course. You can find volunteer opportunities around you or in nearby towns such as the local parks, the zoo, botanical gardens, or beaches. Beach cleanup is an example, or trail maintenance with the local park service. These opportunities are posted on social media sites and the websites of the parks, beaches, etc.
There you have it, 3 summer activity ideas that you can use to help plan out the rest of the summer. They are designed to work for the kids on both sides of the age gap so that you can do things together, as a family. Just know that the hardest part comes after the planning. That’s figuring out the most creative way to get the teens off the couch (and if he is anything like my Mikey) your toddlers to put clothes on for entering public space. I’ll leave those ideas up to you.