Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ask the Frugal Momma: Throwing a Baby Shower on a Budget?


I am turning to you for some advice about an upcoming baby shower that my husband & I are co-hosting because I know what a budget savvy and creative person you are!

A roommate of mine from college is expecting her first child in May. After asking her several times if anyone was throwing her a shower and her saying no, we offered to co-host a couple's shower with a guy that works with her husband and his wife.

So here's where I get to the dilemma...she e-mailed me the guest list this week and there are 30 couples on it...that's 60 people!

I need some advice for how to pull of the kind of shower that they deserve, but on my budget!! I feel like we have to feed all of these people and provide adult beverages, but I don't know how we could do that for less than a small fortune!!



Thank you so much for your question and I am so happy to offer a little advice on your baby shower! As always, if you have any questions that you would like to send me, you can email them to me at amy(at)momadvice(dot)com and I would love to share any expertise that I can offer.

Here are a few tips and tricks for throwing a fun baby shower on a budget:

Keep The Decorations Simple

You can burn through a lot of money quickly just on the decorations so one cost effective way to decorate is to decorate with item's that the mother can use or by making a few sweet handmade items.

One of my favorite decorations for a table centerpiece are diaper cakes because it is a special gift for the new mommy and it can double as an attractive centerpiece for the occasion. You can visit my easy instructions and a little cost-breakdown and my tips for how to make these inexpensively.

(photo credit: Wendy Copley)

(photo credit: Janice)

Make a baby clothesline to hang near the food table or behind where the mother will be opening her gifts. Pick cute coordinating items and then give them as a gift to the mother at the end of the shower.

(photo credit: Jaime Compton)

A simple, sweet banner can double as a decoration later for the child's nursery. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate at all, in fact, the simpler the better. If you know the mother's nursery colors, try and coordinate the banner to the baby's future room. For a simple banner tutorial, I love this cute square banner, a bunting made from newspaper, and for the ambitious a knitted bunting. The possibilities are endless and could be made from supplies that you already have on hand in your crafting supplies.

Inexpensive Food to Feed the Masses

If you have a large group to feed, you could stick to between meal times and just provide fun snacks or a fun dessert table. Appetizers will go a lot further than a meal will. If you would like to do a meal, a brunch can be a really cost effective way to entertain and is a classy way to throw a fabulous spread.

Spinach Balls

Bite Sized Sandwiches with vegetable & fruit trays

Mini Quiches with an elegant salad (photo credit: chanmelmel)

Breakfast Casseroles & a Festive Punch

Mimosas (photo credit: K Santos)
A Creative Cake

Instead of doing an elaborate cake, offer guests mini-cupcakes in sweet pastel colors with a creative cupcake topper. These cupcake toppers from papertreats are just one example of cute homemade toppers that can decorate your cupcakes very creatively and that will make them sparkle when your cake decorating skills are lacking. If you are really ambitious, you could make your own cupcake picks with the baby's initial stamped on them or even something more elaborate like this. Check a scrapbooking supplies store or a craft store to find cute paper and embellishments for your project.

Remember that you can freeze cake ahead of time, so you can crank out those cupcakes even the week before and keep them in the freezer. I like to decorate the cake while it is still frozen because it helps reduce the amount of crumbs that can collect in your icing. Ice them the day before and assemble them on pretty cake stand or make your own cake stands for a thrifty and creative alternative.

You will need to modify the length of time you cook your cupcakes for cooking mini-cupcakes. Follow the instructions exactly, but just cook your cupcakes for half the time. Keep an eye on them just because they will cook quickly!

Here are some of my favorite cupcake recipes:

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Frosting

The Best Birthday Cupcakes in the World

Fun & Games

I may be the minority, but I am not a fan of baby shower games. With sixty people in attendance, you are going to have a hard time pulling off an organized activity. Spend that time socializing or do a game like these that will not require everyone being quiet and sitting in a circle.

(photo credit: Emma Black)

Have your guests email you a picture of them from when they were a child. Print out copies of the pictures and make it a party game to Guess Who? is in the pictures.

(photo credit: the higher nest)

How about a Baby Shower Price is Right card and choose the closest winner on how much common baby items would cost?

(photo credit: nhearon2003)

Of course the simpler the game, the easier! Why not throw candy in a clear jar and have your guests guess the total amount? With large group activities, the simpler the better! The bonus with this game is that this game can double as a centerpiece!

Parting Gifts

In a party of this size, I do not think people will be expecting to take home a party favor. Everyone is going to be happy to be included and will just be enjoying the celebrating. Concentrate your efforts on the food, cake, and entertainment and your guest will leave with the wonderful memory of the occasion rather than a gift that they probably will not use.

Consider your shower and any of the centerpieces and decorations your gift to your friend. If you want to add a special gift that she can use, give her a basket of thank you cards and stamps which she can use to thank all of her guests for their thoughtful gifts!

Good luck with your shower and I hope these ideas will give you a good starting point for a festive and frugal celebration!

(Photo Credit: Picture 1- Jerusalem)

Do you have any tips or advice for the hostess for throwing a great budget-friendly shower? I know she will really appreciate it!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

InfantSEE- Free Vision Care for Your Infant

At J&J's Camp Baby, my favorite speaker of the day was from a program called InfantSEE. Dr. Scott Jenns, a successful leading optometrist, discussed children/infant eye care and shared warning signs that could alert parents to potential vision problems. He was a very moving speaker who shared heartbreaking stories of parents who were introduced to the program and were able to alter the course of their child's life with this amazing and free program.

The American Optometric Association encourages parents to include a trip to the optometrist in the list of well-baby check-ups. Assessments at six to twelve months of age can determine healthy development of vision. Early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure your child has healthy vision for successful development—now and in the future.

InfantSEE is a public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child's quality of life. This program is FREE to parents and all it takes is a quick moment to look up your zip code to locate a doctor. Just head over to the homepage and click the button at the top to explore doctors in your area. Explore the parenting section as well with tips for vision care for your baby.

I hope this will benefit someone out there. I know that vision care is often not covered by most insurance companies, and this is a way for you to get the care you need for your baby at a very critical time in their lives.

Before this presentation, I would have never thought to schedule this for my infant, and now I will hope to pass on and promote the message that Dr. Jenns was able to share with us! I was disappointed to see that there are no optometrists in my area, but hopefully the word will spread about this excellent program and more optometrists will want to participate.

Sound Off: Do you take your children to the optometrist? How do you save money on your eye care needs? Does you/your husband's company offer any insurance, flexible spending account, or a way for you to get this expense covered? Please share!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cleaning Out the Coffee Carafe

I love my coffee carafe and use it regularly. When we had a mommy's helper this summer, I would pour all of my coffee into it and then take it with me into my office and shut my door. It was a great way to keep the coffee warm and also keep me from going up and down the stairs for refills while I worked.

Cleaning a narrow thermos or carafe can be difficult, but my trusty baby bottle brush has pulled through for me on these occasions. I use this to wash these narrow items and get them squeaky clean. They also are great for washing wine glasses or other dainty glasses.

Sound Off:
What baby items do you still use in your house? What new purposes have you found for these things?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Parenting Magazine Editors Share the Baby Must-Haves

The editors at Parenting Magazine have recently come out with a new book called, "Baby Must-Haves: The Essential Guide To Everything From Cribs to Bibs" and wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing their new book.

This book would be a great guide for a new mom or for an expecting mother because it covers everything your baby would/could need and what items are just a plain waste of money. Included is information on the best stroller, what every mom should keep in her medicine cabinet, how to outfit your nursery, and the essential safety gear that moms will need. They also have mom tips, from the real-life mom experts, on things that they have done that have made their lives easier.

I got the opportunity to interview the editors about their new book and here are some of my questions that I thought our readers might find helpful.

When it comes time to outfit the nursery, what is the one item that you feel it is a good idea to splurge on? Do you have any recommendations for where to purchase this item or what brands you feel confident in going with?

A Baby’s crib should be a safe haven—a place where she can sleep or play comfortably, without any dangers of getting hurt. This is one necessity that moms shouldn’t feel guilty about splurging on, as the child will use it every day (several times a day!) for the first couple of years (it’s not time for a toddler bed until your child is 35” tall, or the top of the side rail is below mid-chest level).

Many of our Mom-Tested retailers, such as Babies ‘R’ Us (babiesrus.com) and Buy Buy Baby (buybuybaby.com), feature countless styles of cribs that meet moms’ highest standards – safety, solid construction, durability and sleek design.

One brand that gets high marks for quality is Pottery Barn Kids (potterybarnkids.com). The “Kendall Crib” ($599) is available in a wide range of baby-safe finishes and combines style, functionality and the highest safety standards. Built of solid pine, the crib can be converted into a toddler bed. This allows mom to truly create a room that grows with the child, and justifies the splurge.

One mom in our survey raved about the durability of her Babee Tenda Crib (babeetenda.com). A mother of five, she attests the crib is just as sturdy for her youngest child as it was for her first. Another tip? Always splurge for a new mattress.

- When moms find the glider of their dreams but debate over splurging on the matching ottoman, it may be worth it: Elevating the legs can help take pressure off the back, especially while nursing. And besides, it just feels good!

Most ottomans sold as accessories to specific gliders also glide, making it easy to keep that gentle movement going. Expect to pay around $200 for an ottoman.

What are some items that parents tend to buy that they really don't need? Are there any good substitutions for these items?

- Organic bedding and clothing have gotten a lot of press lately. They may be better for the environment, but you don’t need them—some organic fabrics, like wool, can actually irritate delicate skin. Just stick with 100 percent cotton that’s soft and lightweight.

- You’ll spend a small fortune on bottle sterilizer contraptions that steam-clean bottles, nipples, pacifiers and such, but tossing those things into the dishwasher and setting it to “heat dry” will kill germs just as effectively and so will boiling them for a few minutes on the stove. Save the bucks for a date night instead!

- Several companies are turning out infant tubs that come with spray attachments—but they are pricey and tend not to work very well. A plastic pitcher or cup is just fine for rinsing.

You feature tips from real moms in your book. What is one of the best "Mom Tips" that you have received?

While there were a number of really useful “Mom Tips” featured in the book, three of our favorites are:

• Buy a car seat for each car: Once it’s positioned correctly, you’ll never want to take it out again. Spending the extra money will save lots of time and annoyance for everyone. (Pg 151)

• In the store, see if you can lower the crib rail with one hand (which you’ll need to do if you’re holding your baby). Also, make sure it raises and lowers silently so you’ll be able to move it without waking a sleeping baby! (Pg 14)

• When making up the crib, layer on two crib sheets, with a plastic mattress cover/liner in between. That way, if your baby spits up or has a leaky diaper in the night, you can just strip off the top layer without having to change the whole bed.

When it comes time to give baby gifts to your friends and family, what are some frugal baby gifts that are always a hit?

-Brilliant Basics™ Snap-Lock® Beads by Fisher-Price are only approximately $5. Snap them together and pull them apart, over and over again. Babies love repetitive play, and these brightly-colored beads offer stimulating fun while strengthening developing skills. There's even a bright, shiny surprise with rattling beads inside!

-A number of moms in our survey swore that teddy bears that make womb noises (like a heartbeat) soothed even the fussiest newborns. Check out the super soft and cuddly Womb Sounds Bear, approximately $20, available at Target.

- Ocean Wonders Aquarium by Fisher-Price ($30). For many moms, this is just dreamy! The crib toy resembles a small aquarium, in which sea creatures swim calmly in sync with mesmerizing aquatic sounds and music.

- Changing a crib sheet can be a challenge: You practically have to lift the entire mattress out of the bed to get the sheet on. This gift could come to the rescue: The Quick Zip Crib Sheet from cloudsandstars.com ($33) a fitted sheet with a rectangular panel that zips on and off for laundering

With September being Baby Safety Month, what is one of the most overlooked areas in a home? Can you offer some inexpensive solutions for keeping your little ones safe?

The best way to approach childproofing is both room-by-room, and age-by-age. Ensure that you cover every room in the home by getting down at kid’s-eye level, going through your entire house looking for potential hazards. Moms should repeat this process as the child grows: What's dangerous for a crawler will be different than what's dangerous for a walker.
Some Mom-Tested products to try:

• KidCo Adhesive Mount Magnet Lock Starter Set ($16; kidco.com). A magnetic key gives you—but not your child—easy access to cabinets and drawers.

• First Alert’s Tundra Fire Suppressant ($20; firstalert.com). This compact fire extinguisher will put out small household fires, including cooking oil flare-ups.

• Summer Infant’s Turtle Spout Protector ($5; summerinfant.com). Moms and babies alike love this adorable way to protect from bumps and scalds during bath time.

What are the top three items that every mom should have in her medicine cabinet?

1) Thermometer

It is important to have a thermometer that is both accurate and easy to use; especially in the first 3 months when even a slight fever could be serious. A rectal thermometer is the most reliable. As neither mom nor infant will be pleased with the task of sticking one in baby’s bottom, opt for a digital one that registers quickly and is fail safe.
Try the Timex Acrobat Bendable Thermometer with Indiglo rectal thermometer for $16.

2) Pain and fever relievers

Simply; your choices are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Parenting suggests that you keep both as each one has its pros and cons:

Acetaminophen is gentler on the stomach and can be given to newborns, but only lasts about 4 hours.

Ibuprofen lasts about 6 to 8 hours and may be a more effective fever-reducer, but is only approved for babies 6 months and older.

It is fine to use generic brands of both, as long as they are labeled for infants or children. Of course, check with your child's pediatrician before giving her any medication. A great mom tip? Check out the Web sites for particular drugstore products. Many offer printable coupons, often for at least a dollar.

3) Rehydrating solution

These are drinks that can help to replace fluids in a child who has been vomiting or had severe diarrhea. The most popular, Pedialyte, comes in liters, single serving sizes and freezer pops.

Sound Off: What do you think is the most useless baby item? What are you glad you splurged on?

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Product Review: Silly Billyz Bibs

The Live Love Dream company sent me one of their Silly Billyz Bibs to try for my daughter. I explained that our Emily was a very messy eater and that I would welcome any bib that could keep her well covered and mess free.

In response, the company sent us their Silly Billyz Long Sleeved Bib in a pretty pink. I knew my daughter could put this bib through some rigorous testing and she did not fail me.

When I got the product I was impressed with how lightweight it was. My first concern was that she would be hot, but the sleeves and neck are both made of a very light nylon. The front of the bib is made of a fleece material that does not pill or stain. The bib attaches with Velcro in the back, but is open to keep your baby nice and cool.

Emily ate pizza in it, smashed up some peas into it, and smeared her peanut butter and jelly all over this bib. With a quick swipe of my washcloth, I was able to take all of the food off of it, with no staining left on the fabric. The bib has also survived several rounds through our washer and is showing no signs of wear or tear.

I would highly recommend this product to any mom who is looking for a bib that will cover their entire baby and especially for any mom suffering through those beginning stages of self-feeding. These bibs are great when you are out and about because they will tuck neatly inside of your diaper bag. They are also great when you have baby all dressed up for church or pictures and want to keep them looking clean and fresh.

The bib is priced at $12 and can be ordered through their website or at one of their listed boutiques. They come in large or small sizes and can be ordered in a variety of colors.

We thank the Live Love Dream company for giving us the opportunity to review their product!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cheap Outdoor Music System

I love to listen to music outside, but we don't have a spare radio that we can use while we are dining outdoors. I decided to create our own outdoor music system using our baby monitor. I hooked our baby monitor up next to our computer, and then turned on our computer with our music loaded on that. The receiver got placed outside and we were able to hear all of our favorite music without making any additional purchases.

Using my baby monitor outside works for me! Please visit Shannon's entry for all of the other participants and their great Works-For-Me Wednesday ideas.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Eat Your Heart Out, Martha! (Or How to Make a Diaper Cake)

If you can believe it, I have been sitting on this blog entry for a year now. I only know this because the cakes that I have pictured were for my nephew and my best friend's son and they are both celebrating their first birthday!

Even though I haven't shared about this, my heart swells a little because I was so proud to carry such a pretty gift into the hospital. I felt even more proud when the nurses stopped me and asked me where I bought it. It was one of my proudest Martha moments because I am not very crafty, but I try oh-so-hard to have those impressive moments in my life.

Making a diaper cake is so easy and the results are extremely impressive! I had seen many companies advertising these on their websites, but they were charging fifty dollars (or more!) for these cakes. I ran a search and ran across this great picture tutorial on how to do it, and decided that it was definitely something I could do with just a couple of small purchases.

For my diaper cakes, I needed to establish a base for them so that I could transport them easily. I found a box in our garage and cut a square of cardboard out of it to rest the cake on. I then covered the cardboard with pretty wrapping paper in blues & pinks.

Next I followed the instructions for making the first diaper layer and used a stretchy headband that I had to bring the base diapers all together, making the first layer of the cake. It had suggested using a rubber band, but I didn't have any that would secure that many diapers together. I then wrapped pretty ribbon around it and tied them together with that, securing them together with white tipped pins, which made it look like part of the ribbon itself. With the next two layers, I was able to use a rubber band to put them together, and then covered the rubber band with the ribbon.

Once you have all of your layers, you can stack them and stick a dowel rod in the center, or anything that is long and will help them stay jointed together.

I went to Target and found little man blazers that would be perfect to go with the cake. I pinned these to the back and stuck a little stamped card in the pocket that said, "Congratulations!"

Next I went to the dollar store to buy some shrink wrap and two sets of wooden blocks (over by the baby supplies). I spelled out BOY on each of them and saved the rest of the blocks for our daughter to play with.

Shrink wrapping is very easy! Take the bag and pull it over your item and hold it at the top. Turn your blow dryer on and blast it until the wrapping shrinks tightly to fit your item. Use the bow that is supplied, or tie off with a bow of your own!

Diaper cakes can have small items tucked in the center of them from the mom's registry or you can go with a themed cake. Remember, the more items you add, the more you add to your cost. If you are trying to keep the cost down, keep it simple.

Here are a few theme ideas:

Bath time Cake- add a baby towel, tuck washcloths in the center and put a Rubber Ducky on top. You can also add small bath toys or bubble bath.

Elegant Cake- Make your diaper cake look like a wedding cake, and surround it with fresh or silk flowers. People will hardly believe their eyes when they see it.

Beach time Cake- This would be for a little later in the baby's life, but you can fill it up with beachy items. Some suggestions are a shovel, pail, baby sunglasses, a hat and some sunblock.

Night-Night Baby- Include a copy of, "Goodnight, Moon" with this cake. Add a little sleeper set, some calming nighttime lotion, and a compact disc of sweet baby lullabies.

The cost for each of these was:

Diapers- Free! they were given to us as a gift and Emily wore cloth so we never used them!
Diaper Cake Base- Free- made out of an old cardboard box we had!
Ribbon- $1.98
Little Man Blazer- Clearanced out for $2.98 at Target! Gotta love those clearance items!
Shrink Wrap & Baby Blocks- $2

Total Cost= $6.96

Sound Off: Would you guys like to see more, "Eat Your Heart Out, Martha!" moments on here? I have one a year, but I am happy to share the few I do have! I hope this gives you another thrifty gift alternative!

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dressing Your Kid Like a Celebrity...Or Die Trying

I love to look at pictures of celebrity babies and see what stylish ensembles they are wearing. It provides inspiration to a small-town girl who wants her kid to look cute. I wish I had the money they had to spend on those cute clothes, but I am a woman working on a Goodwill budget so those items have to come second-hand or have to be invented by me.

Here are a few ideas for dressing your kids like stylish stars.. or at least getting them to the fashionable point where they don't stand out.

- I love iron-on transfers. I scored a great deal at Michael's where I got some really cute iron-on transfers for my son to be placed on t-shirts. The black t-shirt was $2.50 at the craft store and the iron-on was $1.00. Super cool, "Rock Star" t-shirt cost me $3.50. If you have a knack for design, you could actually design the transfer yourself and then get the transfer paper from the craft store. Same idea, except an "original" that no celebrity baby will ever have.

The t-shirt pictured here was a hit with my son and his mom & dad. He said he can't be a rock star until he is ten or a hundred though. At least he can look like one in the meantime.

- Check your thrift stores and try and buy when they run sales on specific items. I keep a closet of clothes that actually don't fit our son...just yet. Look for basic items that will never go out of style and start stocking up for the years ahead. Make sure to thoroughly check the items before purchasing them though. Items that are donated could be donated for a reason. Check under the arms of shirts, the seams on the item, the knees of the pants, the bottoms of the pants, make sure the zippers zip, and buttons and clasps are intact. Nothing is more disappointing than bringing home a "deal" and then finding out is, in fact, a dud.

- Make old items new again by embellishing them. Boys jeans can be quickly converted into a little girl pair with a cute heart applique or a little beading or pink buttons sewn on the pockets. A little boys shirt can be made into a girls shirt with a sweet pink shirt underneath it. Try to think outside of the box.

- Work out a deal with friends. I have a great friend who shares her bounty of clothes with me before taking them to resale. I am able to get quality name-brand clothing without having to hunt for it. She sells it to me dirt-cheap and she avoids the consignment shops while I avoid the hassle of running from store to store. Don't hesitate to ask if one of your girlfriends has children that are bigger than yours what they do with their clothing. You might be surprised that they just donate the items and would be willing to pass them off to you or could sell them to you.

- Outlet shop, but make sure it really is an outlet. Have you ever been to an outlet store that had the same or higher prices than the regular store? I have and what a disappointment that is. Know what regular pricing is versus the factory store before doing your shopping.

- Shop the end of seasons, but hold out until the bitter end for the really good deals. At the end of the season, I purchase winter coats for the following year. I never fail to have an amazing jacket for our son, but rarely do I pay more than twenty dollars for it. Check stores that you don't normally shop and hit the clearance section to get a quality jacket for a fraction of the price.

- Garage sales are great for scoring cute clothes for your children. We hit the garage sales all summer and stock up on clothing for our kids. No one knows that the Baby Gap shirt my daughter wore once was purchased in a garage.

How do you make your kid look like a star? Any tips to share with our readers?

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Parent Product Review: Philips LCD Digital Baby Monitor

Philips Baby Monitor The folks over at Philips Company contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing a new baby monitor that they were coming out with. Despite the fact that I already had a baby monitor in my possession, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to accept the offer and see what the differences were between my old monitor and the new one that they could send me. Seriously, how different could two baby monitors be? Don’t all monitors do the same thing? Don’t they just tell us if our little ones are crying?

I received the package in the mail and opened it up. Boy, was I ever wrong about baby monitors. My monitor must have been invented in the dark ages, or Phillips is ahead of the times because this monitor is AWESOME!

Let me begin with the design aspect because that was one of the coolest parts. This monitor looks like an iPod. It is white and bright yellow- not ugly nursery room colors. It is sleek and, much like a cordless phone, has a charger that you can charge it up, but no cords to be dragging it around. The first powering up happened overnight and then in the morning the monitor was fully charged. The receiver in the baby’s room can also be battery operated, but we decided to plug that one in.

I browsed through the handbook and my husband and I had a great time trying out all of the features. One thing that I have always wanted is to be able to talk back to my little girl when she is fussing. Being the super cool parents we are, my husband starts talking into it and we make up all these little scenarios that we are going to start saying into it to Emily. He leans into it, presses the button and goes, “YO, BABY! Stop your crying.” Laughter erupts and then we start acting like we are fifteen again. Can you figure out when our last date night was? This was probably the highlight of reading through the instructions.

The things that I absolutely loved about this monitor:

It has a little nightlight on it, which makes it visually interesting to our daughter

It plays lullabies for her. It has lots of lullabies on it, or you can make a "mix tape" of all of them for your baby. We tried it out while she was eating her dinner and she stopped eating and started smiling the biggest smile. They are not annoying lullabies and you can adjust the volume. You can also start the lullabies up from your own receiver and play them into the baby’s room without coming into their room to do it.

You can talk to your baby. This remote feature and the talk feature were so nice when I was taking a shower and she started to fuss. I cued up her music, told her she was fine, and hurried up and got out. I do feel like I am Oz or something. I am sure part of her stopping crying was her looking for where the heck I was? Whatever! It worked for us!

It has a cute carrying case so you can take it on trips with you. It is not a cheap pleather case either, it is well made and holds the units well.

It monitors the temperature in the baby’s room. At first, I thought this was a bit excessive because I am not one of those people that puts television monitors in our room to watch our baby or sound alarms on her mattress if movement is undetected. Despite thinking it was a little bit over the top, I actually began to realize just how brilliant this idea was. Should there ever be a fire in our home, I would know because the monitor would sound a warning beep and let us know if her room became too cold or too hot.

This monitor will not interfere with your neighbor’s monitor because it finds and searches through channels until it finds a channel that is not in use. I don’t fully understand this, but what I am getting from this is if I am talking about Mr. Wilson across the street and the fact that I think he has made his grandkids slaves to his perfectly-perfect lawn, he won’t be able to pick that up on their monitor at their house.

Because the design is not baby monitor ugly, you could actually use it later as an intercom in your home when you no longer need it for your baby. This way, instead of me yelling down the stairs that dinner is ready and to get their rears in gear if they want to eat, I can now just shout it into the monitor. That is going to be *so* nice!

The things I disliked about the monitor:

The lullabies sometimes end abruptly when you choose to play them all. It almost starts into replaying the first song again, and then switches after the first beat.

I wish this had white noise on it or the lullabies played continuously. It is listed as a feature that the lullabies automatically go off, but we are a white noise kind of family. My son has a white noise machine, we have a white noise machine, and our daughter has one. It kind of sounds like a thunderstorm in the Amazon among a trickling creek, should you venture upstairs while we are sleeping…which would be creepy and weird…so please don’t!

If you are interested in learning more about this super cool monitor, you can find out more at hearmybaby.com.

Thanks to Phillips for allowing me to test drive this! Our family greatly appreciated the opportunity and we think your monitor rocks!

If you are a company that would like a product review on my blog, please contact me at [email protected] to discuss it with us. We love to share these reviews with our readers.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Formula

Head on over to Baby Cheapskate to get the tutorial you need on store brand formula versus the "good stuff." Are store brand formulas just as good as their brand name competitors or are we being duped? This blog entry has some very valuable information in it.

Now on the market are many organic baby formulas. Just what is the difference between the organic stuff and their other counterparts? Her blog entry shares all of the information you need to justify whether or not you should be buying this expensive formula.

When I had a visit with a dietician a few months ago, for low blood sugar, I was deciding whether or not I wanted to continue nursing my daughter. She was draining me and I have never felt worse in my life. After five bouts of thrush, two cases of mastitis, and plugged milk ducts, low blood sugar, and feeling like I was going to die, I was debating on whether or not I was dedicated enough to continue. Needless to say, the dietician agreed that it might be a good move for me to make the switch to formula. We had children just a few weeks apart and she had switched at six months to formula. Curious to see if being a dietician influenced her decision to buy the brand name versus the store brand, I went ahead and asked her what she purchased. She said that she did extensive label checking and discovered that the store brand that she felt was closest to the big name stuff was...Target store brand formula. Walmart, although cheaper, did not fit the bill as closely as this store brand. I found it interesting information and being as frugal as I am, I am always wanting to know how to get the best stuff for the cheapest price.

I admit, I buy the Walmart brand and my daughter is as healthy as a horse. She is happy and her momma is happy too. We love Parent's Choice formula and it is the cheapest brand that I have found.

Feel free to share your experience with store brand formula, organic formula, or the brand name stuff.



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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cloth Diapering 101

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have written a new article on cloth diapering. If you have ever entertained the idea of cloth diapering or are just wondering what it is all about, please visit our Cloth Diapering 101 article. To someone who has already taken the cloth diapering challenge, it will be old news to you, but to someone just starting out...I am hoping it is a goldmine of information.

Feel free to sound off in our comments section on cloth diapering. What is your favorite kind of cloth diaper? Where have you gotten the best deals? (No advertisements please- just personal experiences!)

If you are a cloth diapering distributor and would like to be listed in our Cloth Diapering Resources links, please send a $15 PayPal payment to [email protected] with a name & link to your company. We would be happy to include you as a resource for the moms who visit our site!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

WFMW: Foamy Soap

It is Works-For-Me Wednesday and I am happy to participate in this weekly event. For more great tips for you & your family visit the WFMW Founder, Shannon, at her website Rocks in My Dryer. There are a whole slew of great ideas for your family.

My little tip this week is regarding those foamy hand soaps that you can buy. I got three of these from a family member for Christmas one year and I love them. There is something about a foamy hand soap that makes me feel like my hands are so much cleaner. Ironically, the foaming hand soaps are only about ¼ soap and the rest is just good old-fashioned water.

When I ran out of soap, I decided to save the container and reuse it. I filled this container with our daughter’s bath wash (1/4 full) and then filled it the rest of the way with water. Gave it a good shimmy shake and ta-da! This makes your very own foamy bath soap for your little one. I just squirt a dollop of soap directly on her and rub it in with a washcloth. When you have a wet and wild little wiggle worm like I do, this soap makes things a lot easier for us during bath time.

I just peeled the label off of the front of the Bath & Body soap and labeled it (with my trusty label maker) and popped it in with her bath soaps & toys. It is amazing how much further our soap goes when we use this versus the regular old pump soap.

Want more WFMW solutions? Here ya go!

Adventures in Shipping

Frugal Exercise Solutions

Microfiber Obsessions

Sand Between Your Toes Blues

Giving the Gift of Magazines (Frugally)

Solution for Cheap Trash Bags

Programming Your Cell Phone

Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snack

Weeding Through Your Child's Art Work Creatively

Using the Coffee Maker With Ease

Making Your Spice Rack Usable

Maximizing Space

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Store Brand Diaper Reviews

Have you ever wondered if the Target diapers are actually as good of quality as the Pampers or Huggies? One of my favorite bloggers over at Baby Cheapskate, actually answers this question and reviews each of the off-brand diapers in her two part series on her Diaper Odyssey.

Store Brand Savings & Quality: A Diaper Odyssey Part 1
Store Brand Savings & Quality: A Diaper Odyssey Part 2

If you have ever considered buying an off-brand diaper, be sure to visit this site to get the scoop on who has the best bang for your buck.

We are cloth diapering our daughter, but we did do disposable with our son. I found the Smiles brand of diapers (carried by Sam's) to be our personal favorites. This was both for cost and for quality!

Included in the reviews are Target, Walmart, Costco, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, and Publix.

Are you looking for free diapers? If you write a store brand diaper review for Baby Cheapskate, they will pick up the tab. You can read more information on this opportunity here.

This is a MotherLoad must read!

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cheap Baby-Making

Yes, I realize that some people can make babies for FREE (lucky folks!), but there are those of us out there that have a harder time getting pregnant.

With my son, we had absolutely no problems getting pregnant. He came exactly when we wanted and there was no stress associated with getting pregnant. Getting pregnant with baby #2 was much harder than I could have ever anticipated. We tried for two years to get pregnant and God had a much different timeline then we could have ever imagined. During that time I tried everything (other than any invasive fertility treatments) under the sun to get pregnant. I was desperate to get pregnant and was open to just about anything to achieve it.

I wanted to share with you ladies, a couple of resources that I found to be invaluable during this time, and how we finally ended up getting pregnant with our daughter.

Fertility Friend is a GREAT website and was just what I needed to figure out exactly when was the optimal time to try. A girlfriend had suggested it to me and since then I have been telling anyone & everyone about this site. It is a free service (you can, of course, pay for extra membership goodies) where you can chart everything into one place. The chart then will highlight the days that you should try, based on the information you have put in it, and it helps you to actually try when the trying is good...so to speak! Thanks to my girlfriend, Xtina, for sharing this information with me!

If you are a habitual tester, you will find this website to be of great value. Save On Tests is a great discount spot to get your ovulation & pregnancy tests. Purchasing these tests (even the Walmart off-brand) was becoming w-a-y too expensive. I decided to look into finding another resource for these tests. Save On Tests just sells the strips and they offer great inexpensive package deals that can really help save you a lot of money. For example, 25 ovulation test strips is only $10.25! That is such a bargain! They also offer ovulation & pregnancy tests in one package deal. These are so much more affordable than anywhere else and you will feel a little less guilty testing so often if you aren't paying an arm & a leg for your tests. Just a note, the packages that are the cheapest are JUST the strips. You are not paying for the little plastic thingiemabobs that they come in. It does not make it any less effective, just a little messier. They do offer the plastic test cassettes, but you do have to pay a little more to get those.

Finally, investing in a copy of, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility," will help you greatly in trying to achieve pregnancy. This book is, what I have termed as, the fertility bible. It has information in it about how your body works and understanding the signs and timing of ovulation in women. I highly recommend this book to any woman (not just those who are trying) because it can help you in NOT getting pregnant too.

A lot can be said for simply sitting back and waiting for God's timing. Was God's timing good for us, after waiting this long for a baby? Yes! Would our timing have been quite as good? Probably not! Even though, God had wonderful timing, it did help me to feel more proactive, in our situation, having these tools at my disposal as we were trying to get pregnant.

Yes, I know what you are thinking! The answer is yes. I really am that frugal!

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