Potty Training – Updated

A few years ago (I cannot believe this blog has been going for so long), I did a series all about my potty training adventures with my two daughters. I am thankful to say that my house is a diaper free zone, and that means that my littlest, the energetic little boy in our family, has finished his potty training. Since I have friends that are also braving potty training, many for the first time, I thought I would do an update post about potty training, along with specific tips for potty training little boys. If you want to read any of my original posts about potty training (which are way more detailed), click here.

potty training boys

When to Abandon Before You Begin

There are several instances when you should avoid starting potty training. If there is any major life change coming, for example. Our oldest daughter had been potty trained at 16 months, and then we moved. It was a disaster and back on the cloth diapers went. She didn’t end up being ready again until she was two. I guess she got over her irritation with the wet cloth diapers at some point after the move. That is just one example, but here is a quick list of times to avoid potty training (if you can).

-You are planning to move within three weeks.

-You will be traveling anytime in the next three weeks.

-The child has not exhibited any of the steps of readiness: waking up with a dry diaper in the morning, being able to go without liquids two hours before sleep, being able to communicate effectively to tell you when they need to go.

-You are not in a place mentally or emotionally where you can support them through accidents.

-You will not be able to be with them 24 hours for the next two weeks.

Prep Work

You will need to get the following items to prepare for your 2 week potty training adventure.

-2 waterproof covers

-Training underwear (7 pairs)

-Plain underwear (7 pairs)

-Character underwear your child would love (7 pairs)

-A reward system. I used gummy bears, but if you are anti sugar you could use craisins or something else that is tasty

-A reliable alarm of some sort (I use my iPhone)

-An extra sheet for their bed Read more

Make Your Guest Feel At Home

Two years ago I did an entire series on how to be the best guest, along with an articles on how to host guests. As missionaries we are often guests at various houses, and last year we stayed with over 10 different families as we traveled around the United States. It was a blast, and all of hosts were amazing. Today I want to talk about a small trick that has made a huge difference for our guests at our place here in Athens.

There are three things that will make your guest feel more like they are at home, and they are affordable and easy to find, even if you don’t have a guest room.

make your guest feel at home

Three Easy Things You Can Provide Your Guest

1. A Storage Space

If you have a guest room, it is likely that you have a spare dresser for your guests, which is ideal. Living out of a suitcase can be exhausting. But what if you don’t have an extra room and your guest is sleeping on a fold out couch or on an air mattress? Well, you can still provide storage for them that can be easily stored away with a few different options. What we use is an Ikea Vessla. When guests are not here, we simply store it under another Vessla that we use in the living room for a few toys. Since we live in a small place, making sure we can put our storage container away (by hiding under a storage container that we always have out) is very important. This way our guest can unpack their suitcase, and have easy access to their clothes and other things. Ikea also sells a lid for this bin, and that is great because it provides a bit more privacy, and then you can also put items on top of the bin when it is not open.

2. A Laundry Hamper (or bag)

We use a Pasig storage bag to give to guests for their dirty laundry because it is lined with plastic inside, and is easy to fold up and store away when we no longer have guests. It can be a bummer to have to store your dirty laundry with your clean laundry (especially in your suitcase) because if you have something that is particularly dirty, it can stink up your clean clothes. Plus this is a great way for your guest to hand you all of their laundry without it feeling awkward if they are staying for an extended amount of time.

3. Bathroom Storage

We have an extra shower caddy for guests. This eliminates confusion over which bar of soap is theirs, along with a place for them to unpack their toiletries. Of course, it is also nice to save them some space on your bathroom counter, if you can. The more the are able to unpack their bag, the more at home they will feel, and this applies to bathroom toiletries as well.

Obviously, you can have all these things and still have a guest that does not feel welcome. The most important part of hosting any guest is to have an open and self-sacrificing heart. Let them know how happy you are to have them in your home verbally, but even more in your actions.

Happy hosting,

Kristin Spencer

How to Save Money on Kids Clothes – Your Travel Piggy Bank

I’m a realist. I know that in order to travel with your family, you need to save up some money. Traveling can be expensive! This is especially true if you want to go somewhere far away (and why wouldn’t you?). There are ways I try to cut back on our family’s spending in the long run, so I can set aside funds for leisure travel (we have career necessitated travel as well).

How to Save Money on Kids Clothes

One of the ways I try to save money is by spending as little as possible on clothes for our family. When Ksena was a baby I used to shop at Baby Gap on the clearance rack, but I have learned my lesson about that. With three kids, Baby Gap is too expensive, even with their best sales. But the trick is that I need clothes that last. The goal isn’t to buy the cheapest clothes available, but to buy affordable clothes that can be worn by several different children, survive countless washes, be easily stain treated, and last through whatever different fashion trends may arise. There are three main ways I save money on clothing, and two of them are online!

How To Save Money o Kids Clothes

ThredUp

This online consignment store is my absolute favorite. I also buy most of my own clothing on this website, and since I can alter clothes, I can fix things that don’t fit me perfectly. But back to kids clothes. ThredUp just had their first 99 cent sale, where thousands of items were 99 cents. I got almost all of the school clothes I need for my oldest daughter for next year. I also found some summer dresses for my youngest and some cute button up shirts for my little man. Normally the prices range from $5 to $15 per item, which I find extremely affordable. The best way to save money through Thredup is to purchase used jeans, winter coats, and dress clothes. They have name brand items from Gap, Old Navy, Osh Kosh B’gosh, Ralph Lauren, and Gymboree (just to name a few). I wish the would ship internationally, but for now I will have to be content shipping things to my dad’s house and waiting until we can put them in someone’s suitcase or ask him to send them to us. Last year they even offered ThredUp cash back when you spent a certain amount on “Back To School” clothes. I used those store credits to get a few things for my little guy and a wonderful sweater dress for myself.

How To Save Money o Kids Clothes 2

Crazy 8

Let me start by saying, don’t bother going to a Crazy 8 retail store in the mall. Their website has much more in terms of selection, especially sale items. They also have a lot more to offer in sizes on the website. Last year I stumbled upon a Crazy 8 $2.99 t-shirt sale. I think Diana Wrote mentioned it, or maybe it was Scattered Thoughts… I can’t remember. Regardless, I decided to order a few of their shirts and see how they stood the test of time. I have to say, I am very happy with these shirts. They are responsive to stain treatment, wash well, and are the girls’ favorites. I only bought one for my youngest daughter, which was a huge mistake, because she tries to wear that one shirt every single day. Right now Crazy 8 is having their winter sale, complete with $2.88 shirts. I just bought all the t-shirts the girls will need for next winter, and they are super cute! I also got a few PJ sets for little mister, they were on sale for $6.88 a set, which is comparable to the Carter’s Outlet Store. And that brings me to my final clothes shopping favorite.

Outlet Stores

My mother-in-law lives considerably close to a very popular Outlet Mall in Southern California. This is my last stop for kids clothes. Did you know that you can use many Carter’s and Gymboree coupons at the their outlet stores? If you go when they first putting out new stuff for the season, you can get the clothes that were switched out last year, having been previously abandoned in their storage area, and the prices are super low. I was able to get all the winter pajamas I needed for my youngest two kids for under $100. Since I’m only in the US once every two years, I plan ahead and purchase accordingly.

Bonus Plan – Ebay

I don’t know how you feel about shopping on Ebay.com for kids clothes, but you can get really good deals. I like to shop for lots (clothes grouped together in similar sizes for specific seasons), that way I can get several outfits for a good prices, and not have to spend too much on shipping. Last year I got four pajama sets for my oldest that would have been $20 a set individually for a total of $20 with shipping. I have no had very good luck with feetsie pajama onesies from there though, as the feet usually fall apart pretty quickly after I start using them. My new plan has been to buy them new from the Carter’s Outlet Store.

I hope you are able to find a few great deals and save some money for your next family vacation with these true and tested tips.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Fingerless Gloves – Traveling Moms in Winter

I don’t know how the weather is in your part of the world, but here in Athens it has been getting pretty cold. In fact we have had a few days of soft, white flakes, that melt as soon as they touch the ground. Today we decided to have a fun day with the kids, since they go back to school tomorrow, and all proceeded to bundle up in scarves, hats, coats, and lastly, gloves. Today I want to talk about why fingerless gloves are great for traveling moms.

fingerless gloves traveling moms

My Mom is Crafty

Rewind to when my mom last visited Athens in May of 2013. She spent the long flight here crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves for me. The reason being I told her that they are the best for photographers since you have to have your finger tips free to adjust the different settings when you are shooting in manual (and if you are calling yourself a photographer, you had better be shooting in manual). I have been using them since then, whenever it is a little chilly out, but today I realized how useful they are for mothers.

The Nightmare That Is Bundling Children For Winter Weather

When you have a pack of children that need your help with winter bundling, there is always a complicated thought process. You have to get their shoes on before their coats, because or else they won’t be able to bend over to tie their shoes. You have to get their scarves on after their coats because you don’t want to risk getting their scarf stuck in the coat zipper, again. And then there are the gloves. They MUST go on last because with gloves on everything else becomes impossible. Have you ever seen a five year old zip a coast successfully with gloves on? I have not.

Time On The Clock

Then you have to think about when you, their mother, will find time to put your own things on, because once they are bundled, the clock starts ticking. It is only a matter of time before they start complaining about how hot and sweaty they are as they wait for you to get ready. This is where the fingerless glove comes in!

You can get yourself ready, and still be able to tie shoes, zip zippers, get their tiny fingers into tiny gloves, and pack your purse. Your fingers are free!!

Following The Trend

Luckily fingerless gloves are pretty popular right now, and come in many different styles. You can get ones like mine, that don’t have individual holes. If you are looking for a little extra staying power, you can find ones with finger holes. There are even ones that have a mitten option to slip over your fingers when you want to save your finger tips from frost bite (personally I just mooch the warmth off of whichever child’s hand I happen to be holding). If you have a crafty mom like I do, I’m sure you can talk her into making you a pair.

I also love how easy it is to get things out of my bag with fingerless gloves. Taking them on and off again over and over is annoying, in my opinion. So there you go, one more travel tool to add to your personal arsenal of Traveling Mom items you cannot live without.

I hope your winter is full of fluffy scarves, rosy cheeks, and cheerful children.

Happy travels,

Kristin

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial for Wiggly Toddlers

When I originally posted a photo of my son in the “Travel High Chair for Wiggly Toddlers” I made using two separate tutorials, I didn’t realize I would get so many emails asking for an actual tutorial on how I smashed these two ideas together.

DIY Travel High Chair 2 DIY Travel High Chair

I had every intention of measuring out the one I made and posting all the measurements online for you, but somewhere between unpacking and cleaning out our summer clothing I lost the actual Travel High Chair. Bummer. Hopefully it will turn up before our next road trip.

However, I made some drawings that should help you put one of your own together. As far as measurements, feel free to use the ones on this tutorial, however I found that for an 18 month old the measurements were too small. You also need to keep in mind what size chair you will be using it for. You should definitely measure the width of the top of the chair to make sure you make the top strap for the shoulder straps long enough in circumference. If I was going to make another one, I would use my child to make the correct measurements and then add an inch or two so there would be room for growth.

Let me just pause for a second to say this is not a beginner sewing project. In order to do all of this and make it look finished, I would say you probably need to be intermediate at sewing because of all the different pieces you need to put together to make something like this. The normal Travel High chair without the shoulder straps would be considered a beginner project.

Travel High Chair Tutorial for a Wiggly Toddler

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial_1

The different pieces you need.
The different pieces you need. (Two of each, or four if you see the x2 mean you need 2 completed pieces of each of those items.)

There are three groups of sewing you need to do. The first group is the yellow group, also known as the shoulder strap group. I used velcro to keep the two straps together so my little guy wouldn’t squirm out. Make two straps that look like the letter T cut in half. Cut out four pieces and put two pieces together, wrong side out, to make each strap. Make sure to leave an opening to turn them right side out. Then make the top strap by taking two pieces, sewing them wrong side out, and leave both ends open so you can sew the elastic inside. Sew the half T shaped straps onto the bottom of the top strap. Add velcro to your straps as indicated on the drawing. Your first section is complete.

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial_2

Next make the pink group, which are two straps that you will use to tie around you little one’s waist. Make sure they are long enough for you to have room to tie a bow! Tying a knot is going to be a pain to untie every single time you use your Travel High Chair.

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial_3

Next cut out your green section. I used two pieces of cotton and then one piece of felt that I sewed on the outside so it would then be inside the final product, to add strength and padding. You are going to need to pin the Yellow Section and the Pink Section inside before you start sewing, so they will be on the outside once your pull your high hair right side out. Just make sure you pin it really well and go slow, so you don’t accidentally sew through part of the shoulder straps or waist straps that you don’t want to sew into!! And make sure you leave the back part open to turn everything right side out (I highlighted where the opening should be in blue).

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial_4

DIY Travel High Chair Tutorial_6
Match up the colors where and pin them inside. The yellow for the bottom of the shoulder straps, and the pink for the waist straps. The blue is where you should leave an opening to pull everything right side out. Make the button holes last.

The last thing to do is sew the opening closed and put in two button holes that are long so the waist strap can go through them, keeping your child securely on the chair.

If you have any questions please feel free to post them below. I will try to answer them the best way I can.

Happy travels,

Kristin