How to dress your child without breaking the bank!

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was SOOO EXCITED and couldn’t wait to dress her. I went shopping (maaaaybeee daily) and QUICKLY realized that dressing these little beings is ExPeNsiVe!!! I needed to come up with a plan so that keeping our sweet princess clothed and looking adorable didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. Who doesn’t want their little girl dressed in the sweetest of dresses and bonnets with adorable lace anklet socks and mary jane shoes?!? I know that was my first thought until I realized that just that outfit alone was an$80 investment.


She loves posing these days!

She loves posing these days!

OH NO! This momma decided to come up with a concrete plan so breaking the bank didn’t happen on a monthly basis. I have several tricks up my sleeve and I would like to share them with you.

  1. I garage sale throughout the summer months looking for sizes in the next size and season ahead
  2. I LOVE second-hand stores. Kids are only in their clothes for a short amount of time and the clothes at a second-hand store look brand new. I have gotten all of my daughter’s Christmas dresses at a second-hand store, all of our outfits for getting pictures taken as a family, their “play” clothes, their Halloween costumes, etc. Basically, it is RARE that I step foot in a store that sells “new” clothes.
  3. Hand me downs are widely accepted in our household! I have friends and family who have little ones who may be 1 or 2 sizes ahead of my girls and they graciously give their gently used items to us.
  4. If and when I step into a department store, I go directly to the sale racks and purchase sale items in a size larger than what my girls are currently in. So…bathing suits for the following summer are purchased in July/August of the previous year.
  5. I buy all of the girls’ hair bows at Hobby Lobby. They are the cheapest I can find and look BEAUTIFULLY handmade!

I know that I have saved HUNDREDS of dollars keeping the cost of clothing down in our household. Let me know some of your tips in the comments below!

Family Picture Time!

Family Picture Time with all second-hand clothing.

Annora Family PicDelise Family Pics

123 Magic…Voila!

Your little one won’t eat their dinner, they REFUSE to leave a play date, they talk back in an attempt to really get you fired up, they stomp in refusal to do something you have politely asked them to do, they sit in protest of something you have said, they argue with their sibling….yada, yada, yada! I’m sure if you have a child, you can relate to this list in some form. Even the most even tempered, happy go lucky kiddos have a melt down that can drive a parent BATTY!

Now where did she learn this?

Now where did she learn this?

Annora, our oldest, has been testing the waters lately and Ben and I have decided to take matters into our own hands. The saying “Nip it in the bud” comes to mind when a new behavior decides to display itself. We see a new disrespectful behavior, wonder why the heck it started, and then try to navigate through the crazy cycle. Then, when the behavior is resolved, it seems a new one appears. Humph! The cycle continues and Ben and I scramble to find new approaches to stop the behavior before it gets out of control.

Got stuck in the tree and blamed it on me...go figure!

Got stuck in the tree and blamed it on me…go figure!

She is bumming about time out.

She is bumming about time out.

I had heard about a program called 1,2,3 Magic from my sister and thought I would investigate. It seems like a GREAT behavior management system that can grow with the child and covers EVERY undesirable behavior…THAT is my kind of program. Being a former teacher, I know the importance of keeping the peace and disciplining in a more positive way. 1,2,3 Magic seems to follow that protocol (and can be done with ages 2-13). I have included the short 3 minute video that explains the program but will also give you the breakdown of how it works.

For a child 2-13 years of age:

  1. The child is showing an undesirable behavior.
  2. Parent lets the child know the consequences if they continue. This is spoken in a calm firm voice and there is NO DISCUSSION. It is simply stated and that is it.
  3. Child continues so the parent states (in a very CALM but FIRM voice) “That’s 1.”
  4. Give the child 4-5 seconds and if the behavior continues, “That’s 2.”
  5. If the child still doesn’t stop, “That’s 3.” and the child then suffers the consequence.

THE KEY to the system working is that the parent NEVER loses their temper…they remain “Emotionless” throughout the entire process.

This is going to be implemented in our household and I will keep you posted on how it goes. I have heard FANTASTIC reviews on this program and I am excited to have ONE program that covers all behaviors!

1,2,3 Magic Video Explanation:



Pay it Forward!

“Do you know what Firemen do? Police Officers do? Nurses and Doctors?” I asked.

Annora replied, “Yes. Firemen get to ride in red fire trucks, police officers help people and get bad guys and nurses and doctors take care of boo boos.”

Oh the simplicity of a child and the way they think! So black and white and nothing seems to ever be gray. They are constantly trying to figure this world out and figure out where they fit in. It wasn’t until I had this discussion with Annora that I realized I had done her a disservice. She had been exposed to the bare minimum when it came to professions and “heroes” in the community. She had NO IDEA that these people put themselves selflessly on the line to help others in a desperate time of need.

It just so happened that our church decided to participate in a national event called “Serve Day.” Churches around the US collaborated together to go out into their local communities and serve others. Anywhere from serving lunch at a nursing home, paying for people to do their laundry at the laundromat, free car washes in a local neighborhood, organizing and restocking the shelves at the local Habitat for Humanity, cleaning up parks, and feeding the local fire station lunch as a THANK YOU for their service to the community. It was a FANTASTIC opportunity to serve others, get the kids involved in serving, AND it provided me TONS of teachable moments to my 4.5 year old little daughter.

"Serve Day" in the Ann Arbor, MI community.

“Serve Day” in the Ann Arbor, MI community.

The drive to and from the fire station where we were providing lunch to the local firemen was a solid 1 hour 5 minutes. PERFECT opportunity for me to really express what local heroes do for each and every one of us. How they selflessly put their life on the line to keep us safe. I started with a story about how, as a child, I used to be scared of firefighters because sometimes they wore scary outfits. We chatted a bit about that and why they wear the gear they do. The conversations quickly turned into a question asking event. She asked about the fire dog and if we would meet him, she asked about if she would be able to honk the horn and hear the sirens, she asked if the firemen would be dressed in their scary gear, she asked if she could eat lunch with them and why they “blow” fires out. She was curious beyond belief! It was then that I decided to make a shift from all of the cool things firemen are and do to why they are so important. I explained that it is important for us to give back to them because they give so much to us EVERY DAY! That we are taking them lunch to “Pay it Forward.”  That life is precious and they do what it takes to keep everyone safe.  After the firemen lesson, we moved into police officers, doctors and nurses with a similar conversations and teachable moments.

On our way home, Annora expressed her LOVE for giving back and saying “Thank you” for a job well done. She was ecstatic to meet a “real” firemen and shake his hand. With a small grin on my own face, I knew she had learned a valuable lesson. Teachable moments are all around…it is up to us, the parent, to expound on them.

When a temper tantrum is no longer just a tantrum but something more…

Vacation is supposed to be a time of REST and ReLaXaTiOn right?!? I mean…really right?!? Well, not when you take 2 kids (4.5 and 1.5 years old…one having a fever and screaming the ENTIRE trip) and travel 12.5 hours. To say Ben and I were at each others throats was an understatement. I was amazed at how much 1 child could affect the way Ben and I treated one another. We were uptight, GRUMPY, on edge and ready to EXPLODE!!! I’m sure many of you can relate…

We decided it would be a fun adventure to visit Ben’s twin sister and her family who had recently moved to Georgia. Waking up the morning before we left, Delise, our youngest, had a fever of 103. I called the doctor and the office said that it was really up to me if I wanted to bring her in to be seen. I figured that it was something we could take her to urgent care when we got to GA if it didn’t break overnight. So…Georgia it was! We packed up the kids first thing in the morning and headed out.

The trip started out easy. Delise found herself drifting off to sleep before we hit Findlay (just 20 minutes into the trip). Annora was content coloring in her new princess coloring books and listening to The Wiggles on Pandora, and Ben was driving happily down the expressway. Ben and I sighed and settled ourselves in for the peaceful 9.5 hour drive about to begin….or so we thought!

Forty minutes into our trip and Delise awoke, started screaming, and didn’t stop screaming until, well, we got to Georgia. It ended up taking us 12.5 hours to get there and once there, the toddler temper tantrums continued…and continued, and CONTINUED! We were at a complete loss of what to do and why Delise was acting out so badly. I knew she didn’t feel the greatest so I showed some sympathy in the beginning days. As the week wore on, my sympathy started to dwindle and Ben and I were OVER IT! The only thing we knew we NEEDED to do, was be consistent with our discipline. Poor Delise ended up being in time out more than she wasn’t in time out. The park, the store, the restaurant, the puppet show, the house, the pool, etc. You name it, Delise probably spent a time out there. Unfortunately “time outs” became the theme that week.

The many times Delise was in time out while we were on vacation.

The many times Delise was in time out while we were on vacation.

As we wrapped up the week and were packing to head home, we were emotionally drained and EXHAUSTED. Delise had taken the temper tantrum to a whole new level and the overwhelming feeling of defeat set in. I did what I do best in situations I am at a loss of what to do…I Googled it! What I found made me feel a deep sadness inside and I immediately called the doctor to discuss the issue.

I realized that maybe what Delise was displaying was much more than the usual toddler temper tantrum. I started to read the red flags of tantrums and realized that Delise displayed ALL of the red flags WebMD ( shared. I knew she had always been a difficult little one (since birth), but this started to set in that maybe there was a bit more to what was going on.

Dellise fit

When we arrived at the doctor, I had a pit in my stomach that felt like maybe it was also in my throat. I was nervous and scared. We talked with the doctor and she agreed that maybe something more was going on. She asked us several questions and came to the conclusion that we needed to be more strict and use more restraining techniques when Delise goes into one of her fits. This broke my heart…mainly because what I was feeling was, in fact, true.

Delise Fit at pool

I was so glad that we made it a point to go to the doctor and have Delise’s behavior evaluated. Not only did it reinforce my thoughts and feelings, but it gave me concrete ideas and steps to take when she has one of her fits. By no means are we at the end of the road, but we certainly aren’t at the beginning anymore either. Life isn’t all about the destination but the journey that gets us there!

Our journey may be long but it will be done together!

Our journey may be long but it will be done together!


What to do in a day?!?


Oh don’t tell me you don’t get those words coming out of your child’s mouth…I would tell you you’re lying! LOL

In all reality, kids need structure to their day…whether they are 1 month or 18 years old. Structure creates a feeling of safety and security. Making it a point to create structure in your household will only make life MUCH easier and I PROMISE you will hear less of “I’m Bored!” comments coming from your child’s oh so clever mouth.

Toddler Busy Bag Exchange

Two years ago I started, ran and participated in a Busy Bag Exchange with 11 other local moms, and hit the busy bag JACKPOT!  It was really very simple…I created a Facebook event page, invited all of my mommy friends, we met 3 weeks later and exchanged our homemade activity at my home. Prior to meeting, we all signed up with what type of busy bag we were going to make, then worked for about a month creating 11 identical bags.  When we got together, we exchanged our bags, so we all got to take 11 different busy bags home with us for our kiddos!

There was a huge variety of bags included, some original ideas and some made from tutorials found on other great blogs and/or Pinterest.  If you’d like some great busy bag inspiration, here are all 11 bags that I received from this swap.

The BEST part of the “Toddler Busy Bag Exchange,” I made 11 of each activity so I didn’t have to buy a ton of different supplies, I had activities to keep my daughter busy at home, at restaurants, on airplane rides, in the car, at relatives houses that don’t have kids, etc.


Made with paint color samples from Home Depot.

Made with paint color samples from Home Depot.

1.  Color Match

blog mr potato head

2. Mr. Potato Head (made out of felt)

blog photo puzzle

3. Popsicle Stick Puzzles

Blog Search and Find

4. Search & Find

Blog color sorting2

5. Color Sorting

Blog Pizza

6. Make Your Own Pizza

Made with paint color samples from Home Depot.

7. Shape & Color Sorting 

blog abacus

8. Abacus

blog apple tree

9. Apple Tree Math

Blog Buttoning

10. Buttoning Practice

blog pom pom push

11. Pom Pom Push Activity