Toddler Proofing 101

The moment that Jane and Emma could scoot their little butts across the floor, Hershey and I began scurrying to find ways to keep them safe from the perils that they would inevitably get themselves into.  I’m not kidding when I tell you that everywhere we looked became a dangerous slip and slide into injury.  Look in the kitchen and the place that was once my very favorite place to be became the scariest place in the house, where little hands could find spices, poisons, and sharp objects.  Bathroom? More poison, slippery surfaces, and pools of water.  And forget the master bedroom.  Seriously, I wish that they would forget that it exists.
In an effort to keep our little explorers safe, we began following them around and relying on Amazon Prime to get us what we needed for toddler proofing our home quickly and at the right price. Each time they were in something that they shouldn’t be, I logged into my account, did a quick keyword search, and 2 days later our home was a safer place for curious little hands.  It’s important to look at your home through the eyes of a toddler in an attempt to be proactive.  What would interest them?  What could they potentially get into?  Here’s a breakdown of how we got ‘er done.
There is SO MUCH for littles to get into in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, it is also where busy and hungry families spend a LOT of time.  It was important to me that it be a child friendly place, while ALSO ensuring that all of my pots and pans stay where I put them for quick dinners.  When I looked around, I saw so much potential for the girls to get hurt.  First, we invested in a fridge that had the freezer drawer and double-door refrigerator.  It’s impossible for the girls to get the drawer open, and they can’t reach anything in the fridge.  HOLLER!  Next, we installed magnetic cabinet locks.  They are hidden, so they don’t muck up the facade of our beautiful, new cabinetry, and when the girls get bigger it’s a simple unscrew job that will take 5 minutes and you’ll never know they were there.  For drawers, I needed something quick, because after installing all of the magnets, Hershey was D-O-N-E, so I simply placed strap locks on the outside of the drawers, and was even able to use the extras in other rooms.  We also hid the garbage can under the sink, since our original Simple Human garbage can was constantly being explored.  Under the sink it’s “out of sight, out of mind”, but they can still get to it when it’s time to throw something out (I took the magnetic lock off of just that door).  Win.  Finally, my babies LOVE to play with the stove.  Go figure.  I placed knob covers on the lighters, but I’m still searching for the perfect stove top guard, AND a lock for the oven door.  I would also love to find a way to keep them out of my warming drawer where I keep all of my cookie sheets, but that’s low on my list of priorities.  The biggest issue that I have with that is that they use the handle as a step to see what’s ON the stove.  I’m just waiting for one of them to singe their eyebrows off one of these days…
Living Room
Because we bought a fairly small home with no real play room, our living room has become the play room.  Therefore, it has to serve double-duty.  It must be simultaneously toddler-friendly AND adult-friendly.  I need to be able to pick up and put away toys after the girls go to bed and still have a space where I can hang out and watch TV.  That being said, we opted for a TV stand with sliding doors that we could lock if we needed to, but could also hide toys in when the girls go to sleep.  We went cheap so that if we didn’t LOVE it, we could junk it when the girls get bigger.  It also needed to be somewhat HIGH so that Jane and Emma couldn’t reach the TV or pull anything down onto their heads, and the wires needed a place to hide.  I installed a strap lock to keep the door with the cable box and DVD player in it CLOSED.  We also moved our beautiful solid wood coffee table into the man cave for now, and purchased a cushion-top storage ottoman from Wayfair.  It houses our blankey collection and the girls’ Etch-a-Sketches, and when they fly off of the couch and hit that, they bounce.  Score. Before we purchased the ottoman, we used corner cushions on every pointy, head-level corner, including on our dining room table.  Additionally, since we have a split level home, there are lots of stairs for the ladies to tumble down climb, so I purchased a gate for each stair opening.  We have since removed the gates going up to the top floor, as the ladies have learned how to independently go up and down the stairs, and they play very nicely upstairs by themselves (and sometimes even together!) while I’m cooking or folding laundry now, so we wanted to give them the independence to do so.  We left the gate on leading from the kitchen to the lower level of the house, since I don’t think that they need to be playing in the litter box, laundry room, or man cave.  Which leads me to my next point.
Jane and Emma have become very independent, and in an effort to encourage that independence, we allow them to choose where they play during the day.  If they want to wander upstairs to their rooms, that’s allowed.  For that to happen, we had to kiddie proof big time up there.  First, I purchased door handle locks for the linen closet, bathroom, our bedroom, and their closet doors.  The only places that they can get into are their own bedrooms.  I then purchased pinch guards for their doors, as well as hinge pin door stops.  The girls LOOOOOVE to slam the doors and then FLING them open as hard as possible.  I found early on that those door stops near the floor become fun and DANGEROUS toys for little curious babies, so since they have successfully slammed holes into each of their walls from flinging the doors wide open, I installed hinge pin door stops on the top hinge.  They can’t get to them, and they also can no longer crash the doors up against the walls.  They also can no longer pinch their fingers, slam their sister’s head in the door, OR close the door with them on the inside of the room while I’m downstairs.  Since the doors can’t close, I can hear EVERYTHING that goes on up there, and intercept fights or respond to ouchies easily and quickly.  I also put out crayons and coloring books, wedged drawers that clothes are in shut using old burp cloths (very technical, I know, but worth it to save my sanity when they have unfolded everything that I spent so long folding for the 73rd time), and put baby clothes, extra blankies, and dress up clothes in low drawers that they can reach.  They’ve slammed their fingers a couple of times, but they learned quickly after that not to put their fingies in there anymore!  I also intend on installing a furniture strap for Emma’s tall dresser, because I found them both standing in the bottom drawer of the dresser once and I don’t want to find them UNDER the dresser next time.  I won’t be posting any pics of the girls’ rooms this time, as we are in the process of FINALLY working on making them into little girl rooms, and I’ll have a tour post coming up before the end of the summer!
Now, this obviously doesn’t solve every problem. It’s just the tip of the iceberg-that-sunk-Titanic. Last week, Jane fell down the stairs and smacked her forehead so hard that she had a golf ball sized goose egg within seconds of landing, and yesterday morning they were playing on the couch with Daddy and Jane grabbed Emma and they both FLEW off of the couch and landed on their heads, with Hershey LITERALLY sitting right there.  We can’t save them from EVERY boo-boo, but at least we can save them from SOME of the more obvious and preventable ones.  I also hide all cords, and buy STOCK in outlet covers, which I also throw a Ziploc bag full of into our suitcase when we travel for those outlets away from home. When it comes to their safety, I will spare NO expense to make sure that my girls are safe.  They are brave, independent, and curious, but as toddlers, they are also blissfully unaware of danger and will just throw their bodies around like they’ve got an extra body to spare. We want to foster their independence without saying “NO” a million kajillion times a day.  If they try to get into something and can’t they will usually move on.  Of course we are starting to attempt to rationalize with them (“Emma, remember when you fell off of the couch yesterday?  Remember how much that hurt? Maybe you should sit on your heiney.” “It hurt so much I needed a CHOOPIE Mommy!” “Right, so let’s sit down.” “Needed a CHOOPIE Mommy!” Okay, thank you Captain Repeat, now SIT THE EFF DOWN!!!), but as long as they are toddlers, they are always going to ACT like toddlers, so I’ll continue to follow them around and try to nix the ouchies before they start.
How do you keep your most precious cargo safe in your home?  I’d love to hear some new ideas (especially if you have any magic problem solver for that DANG stove??!).
To the right you will find links to the items that WE purchased and use every day.  Some are pictured above, but if you have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me.  I research everything very thoroughly before I purchase anything, so I stand by my endorsements of these products, or I wouldn’t be referring them!
I hope that you are having a great week everyone!
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How Essential Oils Saved Us

Picture this:  It is 11:30 at night.  One of your children is throwing up for the 11th time since 5:30.  Your other child is in her crib with a 104 degree fever and strep throat.  There is an ice storm outside, and your street has been closed for hours because it is a solid sheet of ice.  The doctor tells you over the phone to get child #1 to the ER as quickly as possible.
Fast forward 2 months.  Child #1 is vomiting again.  Every 1/2 hour.  Your spouse is away for the weekend, so you frantically call for back up.  2 hours later, child #2 pukes all over her crib.  And the cycle begins again.
You can say that I was at the end of my rope.  Or tissue box.
This year was the first year that I put Jane and Emma into day care.  They were exposed to a whole new bag of germs, which meant that they were sick every single week.  Whether it was simply a yucky cough and some green snot or one of the above scenarios, I can tell you that my kids spent more time sick than healthy this past school year.
On top of that, I was at my own all-time high for sinus infections.  I have literally never had so many infections before.  I was running to the Emergi-Med every spare second I had when one of the twins wasn’t sick to grab some antibiotics.  And fuggedaboudit with Hershey.  He used a whopping 15(?!) sick days this year, all for himself!
I had become desperate.  I posted on the local Mommy Facebook group that I follow that I needed some help for my children’s respiratory issues fast, and a mom in the neighborhood wrote back that she had some miracle essential oil that she used with her LO, if I wanted to stop by.  I drove there, in a snowstorm (I know, this sounds like some ridiculous movie, but it is MY LIFE, people), and picked up a tiny little container with a thimble of coconut oil and 6-7 drops of “Breathe” essential oil.  I went home, said a little prayer to the EO gods, and smeared some of this stuff on my kids’ feet.  And I can honestly say that they slept easier that night.
I then went trolling.  I looked into several different brands of Essential Oils, and finally found one that I liked.  I believed in Young Living.  I did some research, read some testimony from a few of my favorite bloggers, and started to realize that this stuff was EVERYWHERE.  Literally everywhere I turned, someone was talking about the healing powers of Essential Oils.  So I bought in.
I can’t say that Young Living essential oils have cured all of our ailments, but whenever we need a little extra boost, this is where I turn.  Maybe it’s the whole “mind-over-matter” thing.  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s therapeutic grade.  Maybe there’s just something more to it.
I now use essential oils for everything from clearing the air to scrubbing the counters to concocting immune boosting teas to drink when I start to feel a bug come on.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to my new oily life.  So what’s up with the hype?

How to Know the Difference

Here are 8 questions to ask whenever you’re considering purchasing from an essential oils company (source):
1. Can this company guarantee that the land used to grow their plants & herbs is free of residual herbicides, pesticides, & chemicals?
2. Does this company own their own lab to test an oil’s composition?
3. Does this company ever purchase oils from outside suppliers? If so, does the company visit the farms and oil distilleries to observe the process and make sure that there are no added chemicals to the distillation of the oils and that the herbs and plants are grown completely free from contamination with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers?
4. Does this company only use crops that were harvested at their peak time? And if so, does the grower test to make sure that the crop is at its peak time for harvesting?
5. Does this company continuously monitor the process of distillation to make sure that the oils produced from the distillation contain all of the correct therapeutic components?
6. Can this company guarantee that oils are discarded and not sold if mistakes were made during the distillation process that affect the quality of the oils?
7. Does this company’s oil suppliers use extra solvents during the distillation process to extract extra oil from the plants?
8. Can this company guarantee that nothing is added to the oils during bottling?
Young Living answers all 8 of these questions in a way that made me feel comfortable using their oils with my family, especially with Jane and Emma.
So how do you get your OIL on?
When I signed up through Living Well, Spending Less, I was enticed by the fact that I could just sign up and get the member discount (24%!) and not have to actually sell anything to anyone.  All I had to do to keep getting my discount was to buy $50 worth of products per year.  I began with the Premium Starter Kit, and upgraded my diffuser to the bamboo diffuser, which I use most days (and some nights!).

Here’s how to sign up:

1. Go to the Young Living page here and fill out your information.
2.  BE SURE the “Wholesale Member” option is checked so that you don’t end up paying retail prices.
3. BE SURE the “Sponsor ID” and “Enroller ID” say 2626103.
4. If you do not feel comfortable putting in your social security number (this is only for tax purposes if you decide to turn this into a business) then you can get an EIN from the IRS in just a few seconds here and use that number instead (the IRS just needs to be able to connect some number with you for tax purposes).   They need a Social Security Number or an EIN because if you make $600 or more per year selling Young Living products, you will receive a 1099 form in the mail (which is required by law). Young Living will never share this info with anyone.
5. Select which starter kit you want. My recommendation would be the Premium Starter Kit.  Those are the most popular and easiest to EASE INTO oils that you will use the most.
6. I normally recommend skipping the Step 3 (Optional) part of the sign-up process and doing that later.
7. Go through the checkout process.  Young Living accepts most major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

It is really that simple.  We have been using the oils in the Starter Kit for MONTHS and still have plenty.  And I promise you that we feel better overall.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this website with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. 
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The Preggie Blues

As I told you in my MDW post, one of my very best friends, Erin, is pregnant with a set of twins of her own.  We found out that same weekend that she is expecting identical twin GIRLS!  Hershey’s dream of having our own girls’ basketball team may come true after all…
Twin Girls!

I picked 3 different pics of the same thing because OMG the faces on the different family members.  I especially love little Livy’s face in the last pic.
My poor bestie has been so under the weather lately, and it’s been a while since I did a pregnancy post (especially considering that Hershey and I will NEVER be on the preggie boat again, with good reason), so in honor of my dear preggers friend, I would like to offer you my top 5 must-haves for staying healthy during a multiple pregnancy.  Some of these things can work if you’re also having a SINGLETON, but I have never been pregnant with only one child, so I can only offer my advice for being pregnant with MORE than one!
5.  Belly Band. I have written about this little wonder before, and any time any of my pregnant friends complain about hip pain, I point them right in the direction of this piece of wonderful fabric.  I didn’t always wear the belt over my tummy because it sometimes gave me belly burn (yup, that’s the technical term), but even without it, the belt gave Jane and Emma some great support and made my hips not feel like they were going to crack in half.
4.  Rest. And the only way that I got that when sleeping with 3 people in one body was with the Pregnancy Boppy (the body pillow AND the wedge pillow).  I used the body pillow until I was too big to fit in the bed with my husband if I kept it, and then I got the wedge.  When I got really desperate towards the end, I got this giant wedge pillow.  I remember having this bad boy on the couch with me the night that I went into labor for REALS.  It helped TREMENDOUSLY.
3.  Fresh air.  Whenever I was feeling totally overwhelmed and like I couldn’t deal anymore, I got out and got some fresh air.  Whether it was going for a ride, shopping, or just down the stairs to the front door, I got out.  Having a clear mind is integral to having healthy babies.  If you are in a funk, the littles feel that.  Fresh air and sunshine can help that.  Not CURE it, but definitely help.
2.  Healthy food.  I know, you want to give in to the litter in your belly’s every whim and just feed the masses the chocolate dipped Oreos that are screaming your name, or you want to vomit up everything you’ve eaten for the last 5 years, but doing that always made me feel worse.  In fact, when I got close to the end of my pregnancy, because I had eaten frozen Stoeffer’s Mac n’ Cheese 167 days in a row, my iron levels were scary low and I was facing a blood transfusion.  So I went home and ate a steak and some spinach.  Of course, shortly after that I went into labor, but if I had been eating balanced, nutritious meals the entire time, I would have probably avoided having a nurse stick me with a needle to draw blood every couple of hours, even when I was sleeping! And if you’re too nauseous to eat anything at all, my doctor gave me something even more wonderful than chocolate dipped Oreos…
1.  B-Nexa.  This little wonder supplement changed my freaking LIFE people.  I’m not even kidding. I was so nauseous all of the time, and even tried a couple of prescription anti-nauseas (Zofran, which actually wasn’t approved by the FDA for that use, being one of them), but nothing worked except for B-Nexa.  I had Preggie Pops and Sea Bands and lions and tigers, and…You get the point.  B-Nexa was the ONLY thing that worked, and I will swear by it from now until eternity.
So that’s it!  I am wishing Erin a vomit-and-headache-free remainder of her pregnancy, but she is also raising a toddler as she is going through this, so I know that it’s going to be rough no matter what.  If you know someone who is expecting, please share this post with them.  Over a Margarita.  Nonalcoholic.  But buy them the tequila.  They’ll need it after the babies are born.
Do you have any tried-and-true methods for staying sane and healthy during pregnancy?  I’d love to hear them!
See you soon, friends!
Cheese Face~For Erin – Love you, girl.
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