Baby Care Play Mat Review – Update

baby care play mat

So it has been almost a year since I bought my Baby Care Play Mat.  I have had a few questions about how it has held up so I figured I would do an update on the review I posted a year ago.

Baby Care Play Mat Review – 1 Year Later

baby care play mat
Baby Care Play Mat

I have to say, the Baby Care Play Mat – Pingko Friends (Large) is honestly one of the best pieces of “baby equipment” I have purchased for Little Bird.  I am really surprised it has held up for this long, especially with our dog.  There is not a single scratch or tear in it.  Athena (our 100 pound dog) has taken off on it at a full run towards the door.  (When someone comes she has to see who is there).  Still it there is not a scratch on it.

I figured like anything it would wear down after a while, get broke or torn, and just not last.  Some of her toys and other items didn’t last very long so I figured this would be the same.  I was wrong.  It still looks brand new.

Little Bird plays on it almost everyday.  All of her toys are located right near it so she sits and plays.  I know she is comfortable because when I sit on the floor and play with her I don’t get as sore than as if I were to sit on the carpet.  Now that Little Bird is climbing everywhere it is nice to have near the couch.  One of her favorite things is to fall backwards on the couch.  Scares the crap out of me.  But I put pillows on the couch for her to land on and she loves it.  Every once in a while she rolls off, and when I can’t catch her, she lands on the mat.  She doesn’t cry, she just gets back up and does it again.

The last time I checked the price it was $94.95.  I paid a little less for it but I really feel like I have got my money’s worth out of it.  That doesn’t mean I want it to break, but it has lasted a whole year with our dog and Little Bird.  I am really impressed.  We are going to continue using this mat into her toddler years and who knows how much longer.  She loves the animals on it and trying to say their names so it is great for that too.

So if I had to buy the Baby Care Play Mat again, I would.  It is definitely worth the money and has impressed me how long it has held up!

DIY Bathroom Vanity Makeover

finished vanity

So this past weekend was our “project weekend.”  We are still behind on our projects since we moved in because of bed rest, giving birth, and then having a new baby!  So my parents offered to take Little Bird for the weekend while Jeff and I got some things accomplished.  I was nervous at first because it is always nerve wracking when I’m not with her.  But I knew she would be in good hands :)  My parents picked her up on Friday and Jeff and I got to work right away.  Ok, not right away.  We ended up watching Divergent on DVD (which was awesome!).  I can’t remember the last time we sat and watched a movie uninterrupted.  The next day we really did get to work!

DIY Bathroom Vanity Makeover

We recently painted our bathroom “bright Caribbean yellow” (Jeff’s pick), so we were looking for something to tone it down.  Our vanity is that stock laminate ugly thing that you get cheap from the box stores.  We’ve never liked it and aren’t at the point of buying another one yet.  So we figured, why not paint it?

boring vanity
Choosing colors

Learn from My Mistakes

You cannot sand laminate, so to make the paint stick to it you need a good primer.  Even more important than this is good paintbrushes!  I cannot stress this enough!  We bought cheap ones and during the more intricate work I messed up a lot and ended up swearing more than painting.  So buy good ones then take care of them :) They don’t have to be super expensive.  I have used Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-Inch before and it worked great.  It is only around $5.  So something like that or even smaller paint brushes would work.

Start Priming

So primer.  Take everything apart and prime it.  Don’t let the primer dry completely though.  Wait until it is tacky, like 20-45 minutes depending on the primer, then start painting.  This will help the paint stick better.

Priming the vanity


Use one of your good paint brushes you’ve purchased and start painting.  If you use cheap ones brush lines will show and hair will be everywhere!  Although, I did learn how to remove those stubborn paint brush hairs.  Just take a pin, like a safety pin or one used for sewing, and pick it up with that.  Much easier than trying to grab it.

Important!  Don’t lose the pin!

Ok back to painting.  We decided to go with two colors to make it a little more visually interesting.  I have to say, it worked.  I really like the way it turned out!  Let the paint dry then put it back together and enjoy!

I am really happy how it turned out. It didn’t take too long to accomplish, this could be done over a few hours on a weekend.  It was definitely cheaper than buying a new vanity and looks nice :)

finished vanity
Finished Vanity!

Our Hospital Visit

balloon and baby

Last week Little Bird was admitted to the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights. This is every mother’s (and fathers) worst nightmare.  To see their daughter lying there sick and there is absolutely nothing you can do.

How it Started

It all started with diarrhea.  She had massive amounts of diarrhea for a couple days.  At this point she was not too interested in eating but was still drinking pretty good.  She then developed a rash on her face which made more a little more nervous.  We called the doctor and they got us in that day.

The doctor said it was most likely an intestinal virus and the rash was a cause of that.  I kind of figured the diarrhea was a virus but I didn’t know they could cause rashes.  I asked about this and the doctor said viruses can cause all kinds of crazy rashes.  So that was interesting.  They sent us home and told us to watch for dehydration.

Throughout the rest of the day Little Bird’s drinking and eating decreased a lot!  She was not acting the same and I was starting to get a little concerned.  We figured we would see how she does in the morning.

Morning comes and she refuses all food and drinks.  I set out all of her favorite foods that she eats really well like toast, grapes, and everything else I could think of.  I did the same with drinks.  I had water, Gatorade, and pediatlite all in various types of cups.  Every couple minutes I would offer her drinks and she would just flat out refuse everything.  I was starting to get worried.

lots of drinks
The Drink Buffet

Jeff got home around 2:45 that day and Little Bird had only a little pee all day.  He called the doctor and they told us to go to the ER.  We decided on Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids because most of my family is up there and they have a children’s emergency room.

Our Hospital Visit – The ER

We arrived at the ER and they took us right back.  The PA came in and kind of explained the same thing the doctor told us, about the virus and keep offering her drinks.  I didn’t think he took me seriously at first.  I explained to him I have tried everything.  After a little more convincing on my part, he started to realize everything I had done to try and get Little Bird to drink.  He finally decided to give her an IV and draw blood to make sure everything was normal. They also gave her pedialite (which she refused) and Zofran for nausea.

The nurse was a little rough with the Zofran.  Then it was time to start an IV.  I was a little worried because how rough the nurse had been.  My husband has been a Paramedic for over 20 years and I was a Paramedic for 3, so we know how to start IVs.  Well this nurse pulled on Little Bird’s arm, a little rough again.  I took a deep breath.  They gave Little Bird a numbing shot then she stuck the IV needle in.

At this point Little Bird is crying which was hard to watch.  But I knew she needed an IV to get fluids, there was no way around that.  I just focused on the end, that she was going to get fluids and get better.  In the meantime I was watching the nurse.  She blew the vein and proceeded to try and draw blood from it.  Most of the time, the blood from a blown vein is not good.  Finally she admits she blew the vein.  Really?  I was standing to the side and could see it blow.

The second nurse, who was much gentler and nicer, got the IV in right away.  Whew, that part was over.  She easily drew blood and taped up the IV.  Fluids started going in and I felt much better.  Little Bird just laid on our laps, you could tell she was sick.

Iv in baby arm
IV in arm, she was just laying with me

The PA came back with the blood results.  Her bicarbonate was a little low, which is an indication of dehydration.  Hers was 17, normal is 20, and low is 15.  So she was borderline.  My mom asked a question about the bicarbonate and the nurse responded “Hers was 17 but I’ve seen lower.”  Really?  (It doesn’t matter what you’ve seen, your opinion is not needed). The PA asked if we wanted her admitted (they automatically admit at 15).  We debated and since she still was refusing all drinks we decided to stay.  I’m so glad we did!

Our Hospital Stay – Admitted

They got us up to the floor pretty quickly.  The room was huge and very nice!  We had our own bathroom and the couch folded into a bed.  Not the most comfortable, but functional.  The first night we hardly got any sleep, neither did Little Bird.  The monitored her throughout the night and kept the fluids running.

feet and bunny
Just wasn’t acting like herself.

In the morning she still was refusing  food and drinks.  I think if we would have went home she would have gotten very dehydrated and would have had to stay longer.  Eventually they gave her more Zofran for nausea which helped.  She ended up eating and drinking some in the evening.  They decided to keep her one more night until she was eating and drinking like normal.

That evening my Grandma came and visited which I think perked her up some.  Then my parents brought my nephew which really perked her up.  She was laughing and they were playing together.  They brought her a Minnie Mouse balloon which we still have and she carries around.  The second night was much better.  We all got some better rest and things were finally looking up.

The next morning Little Bird ate almost like normal!  She was eating, drinking, talking, and acting almost normal.  She would have spurts of energy then have to recover, but she was so much better than when we came in.  They were going to discharge us that day and I felt comfortable with that.  I did ask for Zofran because I think that helped her to eat and drink.  She must have been nauseous but there is no way to communicate that with an 18 month old.

Going Home

The whole time Little Bird wasn’t allowed to leave the room because they didn’t want her diarrhea spreading.  She would stand by the glass door and wave at people.  It was cute but kind of heartbreaking.  So I decided she was going to walk out the door.  When it was time to leave I put her shoes on, she walked out the door, and waved bye to all the nurses.  It was cute and she seemed happy about it.

balloon and baby
Waiting to leave

Almost Back to Normal

Little Bird is eating and drinking again.  She mostly is eating bland stuff because that is all she wants, but at least she’s eating!  She drinks water and juice all day and is having wet diapers again.  I’m so happy she is doing better!  I have learned to trust my instincts and that they may be right!






Zucchini Pizzas

zucchini pizzas

I saw this recipe the other day and thought we would give it a try.  Little Bird is still not eating meat so we are trying all sorts of new things to give her some variety.  Some weeks we do better than others.  The Zucchini Pizzas she actually liked pretty well.  We did put pepperoni on them to see if she would eat them, she didn’t.  Jeff did though!  But they are super easy to make and are a great weeknight meal.

zucchini pizzas
Zucchini Pizzas

Ingredients for Zucchini Pizzas

2 medium zucchinis (enough for my husband and Little Bird)

Pizza sauce

Mozzarella cheese

Vegetable toppings of your choice

Pepperoni – optional


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice zucchinis in half and take out the seeds. (If they are your own from your garden you may be able to save the seeds and regrow them next year).

Put the pizza sauce on zucchinis, as much or as little as you like.

Top with cheese and your favorite toppings!

Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.

zucchini pizzas
Zucchini Pizzas

Jeff and Little Bird loved the pizzas.  She still spit the pepperoni out but we will keep trying.  She still gets enough protein so there are no worries there :)

Ok, I Cheated in Gardening

weed killer

This is a little update on my garden.  Apparently, first time gardens are a lot of work!  I knew it was going to be work but it takes a lot of time and effort.  Weeds are also more prevalent in first time gardens (I didn’t know that before).  So I am learning a lot but i am still loving to garden.  The weeds were getting way out of control so I needed to do something drastic.

I Cheated in Gardening

Originally, my goal was to have an all organic garden.  I figured I would pull the weeds and not use any chemicals.  Well, with the busy schedule and a 1 1/2 year old running around, the weeds got out of hand.  One day while weeding, I looked at the garden and thought “There is no way I am ever going to finish weeding.”  So I decided I was going to buy weed killer.

lots of weeds
An insane amount of weeds

I went to Family Farm and Home and bought weed killer.  Jeff told me “Just don’t buy RoundUp.”  (RoundUp is made by Monsanto and if you haven’t read about that controversy, Google it.  It’s very interesting.  We have tried very hard not to buy Monsanto products).  But I ended up buying RoundUp.  It had everything I needed at that time such as the sprayer and was the right size.

So I took it home and used it.

The Results of My Weed Killer

It actually worked really really well.  I had to tear a few weeds out first before I could actually access the base of  some roots (ya, it was bad).  Once I could access them, I sprayed the weed killer right one it and waited.  I didn’t see results until the next day, but by then all of the weeds were dead.  I was pretty happy about that.

weed killer
With and without weed killer

I did a few Google searches and there is natural weed killer that you can make.  Most of these had to be applied before planting and in some cases, you couldn’t plant anything for a few months.  I did find this organic weed killer: Nature’s Avenger Organic Weed & Grass Killer 32oz Concentrate.  I didn’t know that was an option beforehand, I would have tried that instead.

baby tomatoes
Growing tomatoes

Next Year’s Plan

For now I will use the RoundUp just to finish it up.  Next year I am planning on trying the DIY natural weed killer a few months before planting.  I am hoping to go have as many weeds as next year as it will be the second year.


Sugar Cookie Recipe

baked cookies

Last week Little Bird and I decided to make some sugar cookies.  The ultimate goal of these was to decorate them with frosting and sprinkles.  Well, we didn’t get that far.  We did make awesome sugar cookies though.  They turned out soft and yummy!  She didn’t mind that they weren’t decorated.

Sugar Cookie Recipe


2 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

To Make:

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Stir until they are well combined.

Next, cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl.  Add egg and vanilla and beat together.

Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

cookie dough
Making the dough

Round dough into small ball shapes and place them on cookie sheet.  (These don’t need cookie cutters which is nice!)

raw cookies on sheet
Raw cookies ready to start baking

Cook in oven 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Let stand then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

baked cookies
Finished cookies

Sugar Cookie Frosting Recipe

This the recipe I would have used if we made the frosting.


1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp milk

1/4 tsp almond extract

Food coloring of your choice

Mix ingredients together.  If too thick add more milk.  If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  I like to add just a little extra almond extract.  Enjoy!


3 Easy DIY Gifts

Finished Gifts

The other weekend we went to my parents house.  My mom informed me on Wednesday that we were celebrating Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, my sister and my moms birthday.  So I had two days to get presents ready plus pack.  With a 17 month old, that is really hard!  I decided to make some gifts this year and decided on these 3 easy DIY gifts.  I found a few things on Pinterest and decided on whipped body lotion, body scrub, and bath bombs.  I gathered all the ingredients from Micheal’s and the Dollar Store then went to work.

DIY Whipped Body Lotion

This was probably the easiest one to make and it turned out awesome.

You will need:

12 oz coconut oil (Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, 32-Ounce or at a health food’s store)

12 oz baby lotion (unscented)

4 oz vitamin E cream

4 oz cocoa butter

2 jars

Essential oil fragrance of your choice (optional, but I used Lavender, it was kind of my theme)

To make:

Dumb all ingredients into large mixing bowl.

mixture of lotions
Lotions ready to be whipped

Stir until combined then whip with a Kitchenaid or electric mixer.  I added a few drops of Lavender essential oils (Now Foods Lavender Oil, 1-Ounce) to make it smell even better.  You will notice the mixture starts to get thick and look almost like whipped egg whites.  This  is when the lotion is complete.

whipping lotion
Whipping the lotions and my essential oils

Transfer to jars.  I got my jars from the dollar store and painted chalkboard paint on the top to label them.

DIY Sugar Scrub

I think this was my favorite to make and almost as easy as the whipped lotion.

You will need:

3 cups of sugar

8 tsp coconut oil warmed until it is liquid

1 tsp coloring of your choice (used to make soaps:Colors .75oz 3/Pkg-Lilac, Peach and Seafoam)

Essential oils (I used Lavender)

2 jars

To make:

Warm up the coconut oil until it is a liquid.  Add the coloring, sugar, and essential oil right away.  Stir to combine.

sugar scrub
Sugar scrub

I used the jars from the dollar store and painted chalkboard paint on these as well.

DIY Bath Bombs

These turned out great, I was a little nervous when I first started them.

You will need:

1 cup baking soda

3/4 cup cornstartch

1/2 cup citric acid (I found mine at Meijers, it is normally used for canning)

1/4 cup Epsom salts

Coloring used for soaps

Essential oil

Spray bottle (or make your own like I did)

Ice cube trays

2 jars

To make:

Mix the baking soda, cornstarch, and citric acid together in a mixing bowl.  Make sure to work out any lumps (a whisk works well for this).  Add Epsom salts and stir to combine.

To add essential oil and water you will need a spray bottle.  If too much water is added they will start to fizz and they will be ruined.  I didn’t have a spray bottle so I took a water bottle and poked a couple holes in the lid with a pin.

Add coloring and water together in bottle and shake gently to combine.  Spray on the mixture while stirring constantly.  It will fizz a little but that is okay.  Once it starts to look like a crumbly mixture stop adding the water.

making bath bombs
Bath bombs in the making

Add the mixture into your ice cube trays.  I packed mine in really tight to make sure they would form correctly.  Throughout the night, they did rise a little but that is okay.  Let them dry 24-48 hours before removing.  Mine was about 36 hours and they were hard and stayed formed.

I again used the jars from the dollar store with chalkboard paint and put the finished ones in there.

Finished Gifts
Finished Gifts

Next time you need to make some gifts, try these 3 easy DIY gifts.  They turned out so good!  Enjoy!

Miss Independent


Little Bird will be 18 months July 8th, I can’t believe it!  It definitely has gone by so fast!  This is a fun age now where she is exploring everything.  She is also learning to gain some independence, okay more like demanding independence.  But 17 months has come with a lot of developments that really caught me off guard at times.

Walking her own way


The biggest development would have to be her independence.  She is still so small in my eyes but she wants to do everything by herself.  How do I know?  Because she tells me “I do it.”  The first time she said it it surprised me.  But she repeated it a few times until I let her do it.  (I don’t remember exactly what it was).  Now, I think this is her favorite sentence.

When she tells you she wants to do it, but you don’t listen, she will push your hand away.  In certain cases we have to hold hands, like where safety is involved.  Otherwise I just let her do it.  I guess this is the way to go, right?  She has bumped a few knees but for the most part she has been totally fine.

The other way we know she is serious is by her “lectures.”  They are just long sentences that go on for a while while she is giving you a stern face.  It is actually very cute.  Jeff wouldn’t let her do something one night at dinner time and she lectured him for a few minutes.  She had the stern look on her face and was just going on and on.  I have no idea what she was saying but it was the cutest things I  have ever seen.

Learning A Lot

This has been a big learning process for me, Jeff, and for Little Bird as well.  We are trying to find the balance of fostering her independence but still keep her safe.  After the zoo incident we are a little nervous but we can’t keep her sheltered.  When she grows up I want her to still be independent and safe so it is just finding that balance.

Gourmet Dark Chocolate Mesquite Brownies from Sweet Debbie’s


I received a complimentary cookbook from Debbie Adler the owner of Sweet Debbie’s in Los Angeles.  She has put out a cookbook titled Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free and Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery which is all baked goods that is allergy-free, vegan friendly recipes.  They are also gluten, egg, dairy, soy, sugar, and nut free!  Jeff’s side of the family is gluten and dairy free.  My side of the family has kids that are allergic to many different things.  So this cookbook is perfect for us!  We always try to eat organic and now we can eat baked goods that way too.

Gourmet Dark Chocolate Mesquite Brownies

You can find this recipe on her website as well by clicking on the link above.  I am also going to put it here so you can try it out.  Trust me, you will want to!  I got most of the ingredients from our local health food store.

For the Brownies:

Grapeseed oil to grease the pan

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (she has a recipe to make this)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons mesquite powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon guar gum

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

7 tablespoons grapeseed oil

5 tablespoons coconut nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/8 teaspoon stevia powder

1/2 cup water

For the frosting:

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons coconut nectar

1/4 cup powdered erythritol

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 tablespoon warm water

1/8 teaspoon stevia powder

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Flours used


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use 8 x 8 inch baking pan and grease with grapeseed oil.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, mesquite powder, baking soda, guar gum, and salt in mixing bowl.  Mix well then make a well in the middle.

dry ingredients
Dry ingredient mixture

Add grapeseed oil, coconut nectar, vanilla, and stevia.  Stir to combine.  Add water and stir until water is absorbed and the batter becomes smooth.

Place batter into greased pan and smooth with wet spatula.

ready for the oven
Brownies ready for the oven

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, turn at 9 minutes, or until batter pulls away from sides of the pan.  Insert a toothpick and if it comes out with a few crumbs attached it is done.

Place pan on wire rack and let sit for 30 minutes to cool.

For the frosting mix coconut oil and coconut nectar in bowl.  Add powdered erythritol, cocoa powder, warm water, stevia, and salt.  Stir until it is smooth.

Frost when the brownies are completely cool.

Taste Testing

Little Bird was the first taste tester and she loved them!  She was trying to eat all the crumbs.  I liked them as well.  they are very sweet and satisfying.  Jeff came home and tried them right away and he was all about them.  He kept saying how much he liked them and talked about them for the rest of the night.

This was my first attempt at gluten free and vegan, and the brownies turned out extremely well!  I think Debbie Adler has definitely found the perfect combination of ingredients to make the most amazing brownies.  Next I am going to try Mushy Monkey Banana Muffins.

If you are gluten-free, vegan, or have allergies I highly recommend this cookbook.  You will satisfy your sweet tooth while staying organic and safe for everyone to eat. Enjoy!




John Ball Zoo

stingray tank

The other weekend we went to my parent’s house for the night.  Grand Rapids has a lot of family things to do.  One that we haven’t done in a long time was go to John Ball Zoo.  I went all the time when I was younger whether it was one field trips or family trips.  We had heard it changed a lot and decided to check it out.

At the Zoo

The zoo was much more natural than I remember.  It seems they are trying to incorporate nature everywhere which I think is really great.  Before, it was a lot of black pavement which made it really hot.  There were little waterfalls along the paths as well as more greenery.  It was very pretty.

Little Bird likes to pet things so we went to the Stingray touch tank.  I was actually pretty excited about this myself (I think Jeff was too).  Little Bird was a little short to touch the Stingrays, even when we lifted her up.  She was fine though, she splashed in the water and was content.  Jeff and I both got to touch the Stingrays which was awesome.

stingray tank
Stingray touch tank

Another petting area was the children’s farm (I don’t know if that is the actual name, but that is what it looked like).  She went right for the goats.  She has pet them at Binder Park Zoo so she knows what they are and loves them.  The goats didn’t seem to mind and she was very gentle with them.  She would make grunting noises at them which I think she got from from Frozen.  It was very cute.

petting a goat
Petting the goat

Her First Real “Injury”

Little Bird has been on an independent kick lately.  She will say “I do” and refuse to let you help you.  Like holding hands, she would much rather do it on her own and pushes our hands away.  She is good at walking, hasn’t started running yet, but will walk pretty fast.

We were walking down a gentle sloping walkway made of new wood.  It is by the new Tiger enclosure (which we go a glimpse of the Tigers, so cool!).  She pushed our hands away and went on her own.  Jeff and I were on each side so we thought she would be okay.  Well, she fell.

When she fell she hit a knot in the wood and bit her lip.  So it was bleeding everywhere and she was screaming.  I felt horrible! Blood was dripping on her shirt so I grabbed a napkin out of the diaper bag and stopped the bleeding.  We immediately went on a search for ice because her lip started swelling fast.

swollen lip
Swollen lip

The first stand had no ice available.  So we walked to the front stand which had ice.  We got a bag and a cup of ice and sat down on the bench to take a closer look.  The zoo workers did offer us First Aid which was nice, we didn’t need it though.  By now she stopped crying and was feeling her lip with her tongue.

She was most interested in the ice though.  I put it on her lip and after about a minute she would push it away.  I figured some was better than none so we kept this up for a bit.  In the meantime she was playing with the ice and putting the cubes on her mouth so I figured that counted as well.


It was pretty scary but she was fine.  Her lip stayed swollen for a couple days but it didn’t seem to bother her much.  She would just play with it with her tongue.  It was not a horrible injury but probably the worst one we have seen so far.  I am glad she didn’t hit her head or need stitches.  We still let her walk on her own because (in Jeff’s words) “You can’t pad the whole world.”  Which is totally true but sometimes I wish I could!