Saturday, May 3, 2014

Screen Free Week: Planning Your Week

So you've taken the pledge here to go screen free for seven days. You want to do some fun activities, but don't know where to start. Here is a guide that I have made to help you plan out your week. Remember, this is just a guide, you can choose more or less activities from each category to fit your family and schedule.

Pick ONE big project to work on throughout the week


1. Clean up and clean out the kids toys

Between Christmas, birthdays and those random presents grandparents buy when they visit, the stash of toys can get out of hand fast. Take a little bit of time each day to go through your children's toys together and decide what to give away or throw away, what to pass on to a sibling/friend, and what to keep. Make a trip to Good Will or Salvation Army or other donation locations

2. Clean Out the Clothes

My daughter is almost two and a half and there are clothes in here closet labeled 6months (no joke!) Take some time to sort through clothes. Make it simple with three piles, give away, put away (save for a sibling or for sentimental reasons), or keep. Try to find a women/children's shelter or other donation location to pass on your children's clothes

3. Do a Kitchen Make-Over

Last year I was digging through my in-law fridge and I found salad dressing FROM THE 90's! That's LAST MILLENNIUM! We all have skeletons in our fridges, freezers or pantry. Take some time and get all the old leftovers, expired food, or food you don't eat out of your kitchen. Pick out some things to donate to your local food pantry and THROW AWAY the expired salad dressing...please! If you have more time, go through your tupperware, utensils and figure out what you don't need and donate it!

4. Plant a Garden

Pick out a nice spot in your backyard, buy some cinder blocks or 4x4's and build a raised garden bed. It doesn't have to be fancy or big, but planting a garden is a great thing to do together as a family and a great way to learn about fruits, veggies and nature. Check out this link about simple raised garden beds! Easy Raised Garden Beds

Pick TWO or THREE activities to do sometime during the week


1. Cook and drop off cookies to your local fire or police station to say "Thank You"

Baking cookies is always fun for kids. Help them do the baking and let them decorate a "thank you" card to leave with the cookies.

2. Take a Nature Walk

Find a trail or a greenbelt near your home. Take the kid exploring, asking them to find as many different types of nature they can. You can even make a scavenger hunt list (include things like tree, bird, lady bug, frog, puddle, caterpillar, butterfly)

3. Take a trip to your local library

Check out some of the libraries near you. Most libraries have reading times and toddler times with fun activities, books and songs that are age appropriate. Check out their website for times and location.

4. Buy or borrow an old favorite book and read it to your kids

One of my kids favorite things to do is go to Half Price Books and pick out a book. Pick out an old favorite or be daring and choose a title no one has heard of.

5. Plan a play-date with friends

Find other friends that are participating in Screen Free Week (or ones that aren't) and plan to meet at the park. Make it extra fun with a picnic lunch.

6. Visit a friend or family member at work or home

My husband works kind of far away, but he would love it if we came and visited him during lunch time. He loves showing off his kids to his coworkers. Think of someone who would be excited to see you and the kids.

7. Plant some flowers

Get an old flower pot or go buy one and plant some flowers in it. Petunias are $1.98 for a pack of 6 (small ones) Brighten up your window sill or porch with some color.

Plan a family night

Here are a few ideas to have a family night that doesn't include movies or TV

1. Have a board game night. 

2. Make a meal as a family.

3. Have a cook-out or a picnic.

4. Take a walk or bike ride together.

5. Play a family game of soccer or baseball.

6. Go out to a baseball game as a family. 


Take time for yourself

We play the role of mommy, wife, caregiver, cook and so much more, but we often forget that we have an identity outside of these things. Take some time by yourself before the kids get up, or maybe after they go to bed. I found a quick, but good Bible devotional from Bible Gateway and have a link for each day. (I have picked out devotionals that I thought would be good for this week, so the link on the website WILL NOT match my link) I suggest printing each out and putting them by your bed or somewhere you wont forget. Take time and read them, and refocus. We all need this time, and never take enough of it. Now you have no excuse! ;)

May 5, 2014 Neighbor Needs

May 6, 2014 Praying and Waiting

May 7, 2014 Toward Perfection

May 8, 2014 Permission to Rest

May 9, 2014 There's No Place Like Home

May 10, 2014 Perfect Peace

May 11, 2014 What are You Waiting For?

Take time together as a couple

This is another thing that most parents don't do enough of. We forget to spend time with our spouses because we are too worried about the kids, or too tired after a full day with the kids. Its important to take that time and its important for your kids to see you and your spouse take time out together. So plan a date night out (dinner and putt-putt) or wait until the kids go to bed and play cards or a board game. My husband and I love to play scrabble together. We like the challenge and it's something that our kiddos (2 and 3) can't do (and its nice to do something they can't do sometimes!) Mainly just take time for each other and enjoy each other.

I hope this guide is not overwhelming, but helps guide your screen free week to be successful, fun and fulfilling for you and your family! Good luck and let me know how you celebrated your week! Here is a link to an activity log that will help you organize your week or you can let your kids fill in the activities they did!

Activity Log

God Bless,
Katie <>< on Facebook



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Screen Free Week: How to Prepare

I know it's hard to admit it as a parent, but sometimes our kids get too much screen time. I know that with the third baby on the way, its really easy to stick the kiddos in front of the TV and have some resting time on the couch.

Well, I have a challenge for myself and other moms out there. May 5-11 is Screen Free Week. This is a national (often international) event put on by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, where families, schools and other groups pledge to turn off all sorts of media for seven days and find other things to do.

To find out all the information on Screen Free Week you can go to What is Screen Free Week?

Here a small portion of what the website says about this week, " Screen-Free Week is an annual, international celebration when schools, families, and community groups pledge to spend seven days without entertainment screen media. Instead of watching TV, surfing the web, or playing video games, they read, play, think, create, get physically active, and spend more time with friends and family."

So you are on board, but don't know where to start? 
Let's get prepared to keep the TVs, smart phones, tablets and computers off for a week and make it fun for everyone in the process!

Here are some tips on how to get prepared:

1. Decide as a family what "screen free" means

Screen free to one family might mean that they just keep the TV off all week, while other families might eliminate all sources of media. Talk about what is best for your family. Does someone need the computer for school work? Are text messages and email included or excluded. Decide as a family so everyone is on the same page.

2. Talk to your kids about what is going on. 

Prepare them, let them know that this week is going to be different, but fun! Make sure they know its not a punishment. Present it like a challenge or a game if they are discouraged. Ask them how many things they can think of to do other than TV.

3. Prepare Yourself

Try and plan out your week beforehand. Try and think of some things to do. Maybe have a few coloring/activity pages already printed out when your kids start saying "I'm bored". I will be writing a blog post about activity ideas and suggestions and will link it here when I finish it.

4. Be Reasonable

Don't try and do too much. We ALL want to be Supermom, but the idea of this week is to show your family that there are plenty of fun things to do besides sitting and watching TV. Pick a few fun and easy things to do during the week, but be flexible (We KNOW we can do flexible, right moms?!)

5. Have Fun

This week is supposed to be fun for the whole family! Don't stress about creating the perfect week. Take some time for yourself as well. After the kids go to bed, instead of watching TV read a favorite book or have a good conversation with your spouse.

I hope you will take the pledge to be screen free this next week!
Take The Pledge

I know we will be taking lots of pictures of our adventures (to be edited AFTER screen free week is over!) and I hope to see others pictures as well! Good luck and have fun!

God Bles,
Katie <>< on Facebook

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're Expecting!

Hello GFD friends!

It's been a while, but this is why! I am happy to announce that we are expecting baby #3! Baby #3 is expected to arrive in mid to late October 2014. We aren't going to talk exact due dates because, lets be real, only 5% of babies are born ON their due date and 0% of my children have been born on their due date.

Being pregnant after becoming a doula is HARD! Not only do I have to process my own other births, but now I know WAY MORE than any pregnant woman should and have seen lots of different birth happen in lots of different ways. I have noticed a lot more fear this time around, but my midwife (who is also pregnant) is helping me to process it and and remind me everything is going GREAT.

SO......Everything is going great! Baby is growing and making this mommy feel really sick....all the time, and really grumpy....all the time! My poor kiddos! They know Mommy doesn't feel good because the baby is growing inside of me, but I know they are ready to have their mommy back (the non mom-zilla version)

In case you missed it on  Facebook or wherever, here is our announcement!

Ok, seriously! Isn't is adorable! My husband said he loved this announcement and he usually has no opinion on stuff like this. So I consider this a WIN!

So be prepared for more, pregnancy, newborn, baby, sibling posts, because my head is spinning with ideas for blog posts and I seem to be writing like crazy!

Thanks for sharing in our excitement about our growing family and God bless you and your family!
Katie <><
Grace Faith Dirt on Facebook

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Calendar & Jesus Tree

Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree

In addition to our weekly tradition of lighting the Advent Wreath, my husband and I wanted to do something small with the kids each day to celebrate Advent and again keep the focus on Jesus.  If you want to know more about Advent, check out my Advent vs Christmas post.

Many people do an "Advent" calendar where each day leading up to Christmas you open the door/pocket/stocking and there is a small gift inside. I would probably rename these Christmas calendars because although lots of families enjoy doing these, those calendars do not have anything to do with Advent.  Advent is for preparing for Christ not Christmas. So I took that idea and turned it into a true Advent tradition for our family. I picked 24 Scriptures and 24 names for Jesus. One for each day in December leading up to Christmas. Each day we will read a part of Jesus' story from the bible and put an ornament on our "Advent Tree" that has a name for Jesus. The scriptures range from prophecies about the coming of Jesus, to the preparing a way for Jesus and Jesus' birth.

How we do our Advent Calendar 


Our Advent Calender (not hung up)

I made the Advent calendar in the picture with small stockings hung on small rope. On each stocking I painted a number for the corresponding day of December leading up to Christmas. Inside each stocking is a printed card with the scripture for the day and a small ornament with a name of Jesus.

Painted ornament with a name for Jesus

Every night after PJ's are put on and teeth are brushed, we get together and do our Advent Calendar. The kids pull out the ornament with a name of Jesus and the card with the scripture on it out of the stocking that corresponds to that day. We sit down together as a family and Daddy reads the scripture and then we tell them what ornament says. Then they hang the ornament on our Jesus Tree.

Our small "Jesus Tree" for our Jesus ornaments

Here are the scriptures we are using for each night and the name for Jesus:

                             December 1:             Isaiah 7: 13-15;              Immanuel
                             December 2:             Isaiah 9: 6-7;                 Prince of Peace
                             December 3:             Isaiah 11: 1-5;                Wonderful Counselor
                             December 4:             Isaiah 11: 6-10;              Lion of Judah
                             December 5:             Jeremiah 33: 14-16;         Savior
                             December 6:             Micah 5: 2-5;                Good Shepherd
                             December 7:             Luke 1: 11-17;                The Way
                             December 8:             Luke 1: 21-25;               Lord
                             December 9:             Luke 1: 26-38;               Jesus
                             December 10:           Matthew 1: 18-21;          Messiah
                             December 11:           Matthew 1: 22-26;          Holy One
                             December 12:           Luke 1: 39-45;                Son of God
                             December 13:           Luke 1: 46-56;                Mighty One
                             December 14:           Luke 2: 1-5;                   Christ
                             December 15:           Luke 2: 6-7;                   Healer
                             December 16:           Luke 2: 8-12;                 Anointed One
                             December 17:           Luke 2: 13-14;                Light of the World
                             December 18:           Luke 2: 15-18;               Lamb of God
                             December 19:           Luke 2: 19-20;               Redeemer
                             December 20:           Matthew 2: 1-2;            God With Us
                             December 21:           Matthew 2: 3-6;            King of Kings
                             December 22:           Matthew 2: 7-8;            Rabbi
                             December 23:           Matthew 2: 9-12;           Everlasting Father
                             December 24:           John 1:14                     The Word

I found many different lists of scriptures online and in print and adapted the list of scriptures to what I thought was the most important. I wanted to make sure that the scriptures to cover the prophecies, the preparation of Jesus' birth and Jesus' birth, but did not want the scriptures to be too long each day. So I read the all the verses, shortened some and lengthened others. The list that I have compiled is, for the most part, in chronological order. Most of the names for Jesus relate to the verses read for that day, but some do not, but all are names used for Jesus.

It is ok to not have an Advent calendar or a Jesus tree. If all you do is sit down as a family each night and read the verses and learn the name for Jesus that day, that is wonderful! I hope you join us in celebrating Advent with a little piece of the Christmas story and a little bit more of Jesus each day!

God Bless
Happy Advent
and Merry Christmas,

Katie <><

Check out my related posts!
Celebrating Christmas at Home: Advent Wreath
Advent vs Christmas

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath

Although the true origin of the advent wreath is not known, we do know that the advent wreath started being used in the Middle Ages by the Catholics. Each part of the wreath has a significant and symbolic meaning. The four candles around the outside represent the four weeks before Christmas. Lighting the candles each Sunday and participating in the traditions of the Advent wreath are a wonderful way to help prepare our hearts and our families for Christmas, the coming of Christ.

If you want more history on the Advent Wreath, the Catholic church explains the history here.

The tradition of the Advent Wreath is commonly done at church, during the services on the four Sundays prior to Christmas to help celebrate the season of advent and prepare us for the coming of Christmas, but as I was growing up we did it at home as well. I loved it growing up as it kept us centered and made us closer during this season. The wreath has three purple candles and a pink candle around the outside and a white candle in the middle. Each Sunday night we light the candle for that week (and any candles for the weeks prior), read a scripture, sing a song or two and then have a small discussion. On Christmas Eve, we light all the candles and the white Christ candle in the middle. This is done at the Christmas Eve service at church and then at home right before we went to bed.

Our Advent Wreath at Home

Week 1: Purple candle of Hope
Week 2: Purple candle of Love
Week 3: Pink candle of Joy (some traditions have 4 purple)
Week 4: Purple candle of Peace
Christmas Eve: White Christ candle

If you are interested in more about each week, or a guide to follow for each week, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church have good family devotions for each week:
Advent Home Worship (United Methodist)
 Lighting of the Advent Wreath(Presbyterian)

 I really believe it's never too young to do things like this even if your kids don't understand everything. If their favorite thing to do is blow the candles out each Sunday night when you get done its ok. They are soaking in a lot more than you think they are! I know because I am keeping my parents' tradition of doing the advent wreath at home as a family. The goal for my husband and I is to keep our family grounded and centered on Jesus' birth and the grand importance of it. I want my children to be thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ first.

God Bless,
Happy Advent,
and Merry Christmas,

Katie <><

**SIDE NOTE: I bought the octagon mirror, purple/pink/clear candle holders and votive candles for under $20 at Hobby Lobby! It was super easy to assemble/disassemble and is a beautiful decoration to leave out during the Advent/Christmas season!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Coth Diapers Part 5: Stripping Cloth Diapers

No matter how awesome your wash routine is, eventually you will have to strip your cloth diapers. So you think you need to strip your cloth diapers, now what? Here's all the info you need to know about stripping your diapers.




 How will I know when I need to strip my diapers?

 There are a few tell-tale signs that it is time to strip your cloth diapers:
  1. Your cloth diapers smell bad even after being washed. Usually smells of ammonia or just generally "stinky".
  2. Your diapers have a good fit for your diapers and they still seem to be leaking.
  3. You have noticed your baby has a reoccurring rash for no apparent reason.
  4. Your cloth diapers feel like they have some sort of film or powder on them. Some people describe them as being "extra soft".
These things indicates a build up of soap/detergent film on your diapers. Don't worry! There is simple way to rid your diapers of any residue/build up.

How do you strip cloth diapers?

There are countless ways to strip cloth diapers, but after some research and a lot of trial and error, I found the fastest, most efficient way to do it.  Here is what I figured out:

  1. Wash your cloth diapers using your normal washing routine (with a cold rinse cycle at the end) OR  throw your already clean and dry diapers into your washing machine on a cold rinse.
  2. Wash your diapers on the hottest, longest, largest setting that uses the most water. Add only one tablespoon of original blue Dawn dish washing soap (no laundry detergent). Make sure to put the soap right on top of the diapers and NOT in the laundry detergent drawer.
  3. Wash diapers again on a long, hot cycle with out any laundry soap or Dawn. (I put vinegar in with this wash. It seems to help with stripping the diapers of any residue and eliminating smells)
  4. Run diapers through a cold cycle until you do not see any suds. This will take between 2-4 times depending on your washer. Usually front loaders will need a few more rinses than top loaders.
And voila! You have like new, freshly stripped cloth diapers for your baby!

I have to admit, I did not come up with this procedure myself. During my research, I found a wonderful blog post by Mama's Laundry Talk about stripping cloth diapers. Check out her post!

Mama's Laundry Talk: How to Strip Cloth Diapers-- Part 2
She also mentions many other ways to strip cloth diapers. So if the Dawn did not do the trick or you are looking for something else, check out her post!

I have found that I need to strip my cloth diapers every 2-3 months. When I had a top loader, I only had to strip them every 6+ months. You will soon figure out how often you need to strip your diapers.

Here are a few ways to avoid having to strip your diapers more often:

  1. Use only cloth diaper approved laundry detergent to avoid soap build-up (Check out my Washing Procedures and Detergents blog post to find out about what detergents are best to use).  
  2. Use diaper liners on your cloth diapers. This not only helps minimize how soiled your diaper gets, it also protects the diaper from any diaper creams/lotion you put on your baby.
  3. Which leads me to my next one: Avoid diaper creams/rash ointment when using cloth diapers. These are not made to be used with cloth diapers and will cause them to loose their absorbancy and leak. 
  4. Do not let your diapers sit too long before washing them. I would make sure you wash your diapers within two days of using them (no more than 48 hours)
  5. If you have a front loader, trick it into using more water during normal washes by adding a wet towel to your load of diapers. The more water used in washing normally, the less often you will need to strip.

This is the fifth post in my Cloth Diapers series. Here are the other Cloth Diaper posts in this series:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cloth Diapers Part 4: Cloth Diaper Accessories

Now there are lots of different types of accessories to make cloth diapering your baby easier. Some are less than useful, but there are a few that I would recommend investing in.

Diaper Wet Bag- This is what would replace a diaper pail that are used to dispose of disposable diapers. 

These contain the soiled/wet diapers and any smell you might be worried about until it is time to wash them. Simply pull all of the parts of the diaper apart (take the insert out of the pocket diapers, etc.) and put all parts of the diaper in the wet bag and zip it closed. When it is time to wash, unzip the bag and dump it into the washer.

Here are links to a few different wet bags:
Itzy Ritzy *This is what I use
FuzziBunz Zipper Tote
FuzziBunz Hanging Diaper Pail

There are more brands of wet bags than I have listed. I got mine off EcoBabyBuys.

Diaper liners- These are thin, single sheet liners that you put on top of the open diaper. This liner goes between the diaper and your baby's bottom. There are two kinds of liners:

1. Reusable liners- These are usually fleece, and very thin. They are very soft against baby's bottom, wick away moisture and protect your diaper from messy diapers. These can be washed with your diapers, and line drying these liners will keep them looking good for longer.
Bummis Reusable Fleece Liners

2. Biodegradable liners- This is every cloth-diapering mom's golden gem! These are wonderful liners that usually come in a roll (like toilet paper) of 100. Simply put this between your baby's bottom and the diaper. When you change the diaper, simply remove the liner (and anything that might be in the liner...) and simply flush the soiled liner down the toilet! No messy poop to clean up in your cloth diapers!

Here are links to a few different biodegradable liners:
Bummis *These are the ones I use

Diaper Sprayer- This is a sprayer with an attached hose that connects to the base of a toilet. This is to spray down those extra soiled diapers over the toilet before putting them into a wet bag (or in some cases, right into the washer)

These are wonderful and useful in washing cloth diapers, but I would not consider them a necessity for cloth diapers. Let's call it a cloth diaper luxury item (even though they aren't that expensive)

Here are links to a few different diaper sprayers:
Diaper Sprayer on Amazon
bumGenius Diaper Sprayer

Hope this gives you a good idea of what accessories are helpful in making cloth diapering your baby as easy as possible! There are lots of different cloth diaper accessories out there. Please feel free to leave a comment about your favorite accessory!

This is the fourth post in my Cloth Diapers series. Here are the other Cloth Diaper posts in this series:

Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie <><
Trained Labor Doula
Cloth Diaper Educator