Category Archives: Mama Life Hacks

Mama Life Hacks {#10}: The Magical Stroller Ledge

I don’t remember using a stroller that much with my first three kids. Weird, right? I mean, I’m sure I used one when I went to the mall (no shopping carts) or to the park, but I sure didn’t keep mine stashed in the back of my van like I do these days.

A single stroller just seemed like a lot of trouble to haul out and unfold/refold all the time for just one kid. And a double stroller seemed like a whole other level of inconvenient to me.

That is, until I had the twins. At which point, I bought a like-new Graco double-stroller from Craigslist and never looked back.

And by “never looked back,” I mean that I used that bad boy ALL. THE. TIME.

Our gym has an incredibly awkward entrance (think: 3 flights of stairs up to the main door and then 2 more to get back down to the area where you exercise). But there is a ground level entrance that the staff will let you into if you buzz them (worth the hassle for sure, and these days I just get one of the boys to open it for me), but it’s a little awkward too because it winds through the dark cinema room, and really, what mama wants her babies wandering through the dark when she can’t see what’s going on?

So…why the gym tangent? Well, it was/is the #1 place that my kids and I consistently go, so when the twins were old enough to come to the gym nursery, my new BFF–the double stroller–and I were suddenly suuuuper tight. Because as much as I like working on my fitness, hauling a car seat on each arm up 3 flights of stairs while herding three other little kids is a little extreme, even for me (not that I didn’t do it a time or 50).

Problem was, Della was only 2 when the twins were born, which meant that, most of the time, I had to figured out how to carry her and steer a monster stroller at the same time.

Which is when I discovered the magic of that little ledge near the handle of almost every stroller.

Wait, what ledge?

stroller1watermark

THAT one.

On practically every stroller I’ve owned, it’s the perfect size to perch a small child so that you can add a “seat” to your stroller without actually having to size up.

That little ledge saved me, since it allowed me to haul all three of my little girls in and out of the gym (and plenty of other places), quickly and conveniently.

And now for a little disclaimer.

My husband warned me when I mentioned writing this post that I might get some flack from the safety-police, and I acknowledged that I had already thought of that.

So, please understand that I do NOT recommend this if a) you plan on placing your child on the ledge of your stroller without anything to weight the lower portion or b) you plan on leaving them unattended or c) you’re letting a child do the pushing or d) insert any other unsafe behavior that a conscientious mama just wouldn’t do.

If, however, you need a fast, easy, safe way to transport your toddler without adding a seat to your current stroller, take it from a mama who couldn’t believe she didn’t figure this one out sooner and has been happily using it for the last 2 1/2 years: this one’s golden.

Of course, sometimes, the little girls get tired of walking, and we get even more creative and turn a single stroller into a triple.  stroller1

{Obviously, this wouldn’t work with bigger kids, but reclining the stroller back and stacking little girls in the seat works pretty well in a pinch}

It works great for street fairs…

stroller

{Anybody else think the photo-bombing dude in the trucker hat has his head cocked like that because he just counted all the kids in this picture?}

It EVEN works for hikes up a mountain.

stroller2

My girls are so used to it by this point that it’s just understood that, when we pull out the stroller, at least one of them will be sitting pretty on the stroller ledge (just as often, Theo is in the main part in his car seat, one twin is riding on the ledge, and the other is perched on the foot-rest, holding onto Theo’s car seat handle. We’re all about the stroller hacks around here).

What about you guys? Are you big stroller-buffs? Have you also discovered the “magic ledge?”

P.S. In case you’re wondering about the rather fantastic backdrop in that last picture, I’ll be sharing more about it soon. :)

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #9}: The Double Diaper Trick

I don’t remember where I first heard this clever little Mama Life Hack (I think it was from Mandy?), but I do know this: I have used it. A LOT.

So, what is it?

Well, first of all, let’s take a look at the conundrum that makes this hack necessary.

diaper3

Ever had this happen? You’re wrestling with your 9-month-old, trying to fit that laaaaaast size 3 diaper around his obviously size 4 girth, all the while that he flops around like a beached dolphin…and riiiiiiiip. There goes the diaper tab.

Honestly, it kind of feels insulting. Like, really? I just chunked between 17 and 50 cents in the trash while attempting to contain my child’s poop? Whomp whomp.

But wait! No you dih-in’t

diaper

Instead of throwing the torn diaper away, just grab another one, layer it over the first, then fasten it up like normal.

diaper1

{Double-diapered and not mad about it one bit}

Then, when it’s time for a diaper change, simply undo the top diaper, slip the torn, soiled diaper off, clean up your baby’s tushy, and RE-fasten the top (and now only) diaper back up.

And then smirk a little about the fact that you live in a day and age when diaper tabs can be reused.

diaper5

I know a lot of you mamas are past the diapering stage (lucky ducks…although…no diapers means no more chunky baby thighs so…never mind), but I guarantee that your mama-friends with babies will love you forever for sharing this one.

BONUS: If you’re heading out somewhere for a quick trip and don’t want to carry a bulky bag, you can do the double diaper trick, even without the broken tab. That way, you’ll have an extra diaper with you (and already on your baby’s bottom, no less), and you can throw a pack of wipes in your purse and be good to go!

P.S. Why, yes, I did intentionally rip a tab off of a perfectly good diaper and then double-diaper Theo just to take pictures to show you guys. Good thing this hack works so well.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to tag your own #mamalifehacks using that hashtag on social media!

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Kiss your mascara goodbye (And say HELLO to eyelash extensions)

Here’s the thing: when I get asked to review something, if it doesn’t appeal to me, I just politely decline.

And, every now and then, if I agree to try something out, it just doesn’t work for me, in which case I don’t review it at all.

Which, as you might have already deduced, is why, anytime you see a review of something on this here blog, it’s positive. If I take the time to tell y’all about it, it’s because I really like something and feel like it’s worth sharing.

But then, every now and then, there are things that I actually seek out, breath held in hope that they will be as great as I’ve heard, and what I’m going to tell you about today definitely falls into that category.

Several years ago, Emily posted about her experience with eyelash extensions (all positive), and ever since, I’ve been pretty intrigued with the concept…but majorly turned off by the price (about $200 for the initial application).

So, when I saw a friend post about her experience with lash extensions on Facebook with a friend of hers who was looking to expand her part time business, I decided to seek her out and see if we could come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Code for: she’d do my eyelashes, and if I loved them, I’d tell you guys to go get your eyelashes done with her.

Y’ALL.

To say I l.o.v.e.d them would be such faint praise that it’s a little embarrassing.

(In other words: this not just a review. It’s a rave).

But more than anything, I loved Makenzie.

People, she comes to your HOUSE.

(Let me try that again)

YOUR house.

As in, you don’t have to find childcare for your children (assuming your husband’s around to watch them, or you can schedule a time when they’re all in bed, of course).

And then, she proceeds to play with your children, since you got home later than you hoped and are still running around getting dinner ready. I don’t think that’s technically part of her job description, but, considering that Evy (my shyest child) crawled up in her lap and started babbling away her life’s story in her ear within .03 seconds of Makenzie’s sitting down in my living room, I think she should probably add “Toddler Whisperer” to her business cards. Oh, and “Patient-as-all-get-out.”

And then she sets up all her gear and gets you all situated on this comfy table with an even comfier pillow and tells you, “I don’t mind if you fall asleep. You can even snore. I have people that do that. Doesn’t bother me at all.”

makenzie

Note: I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t have snored had I fallen asleep, but…I didn’t. Because Makenzie is such an easygoing sweetheart that you feel like you’re just chatting away with a friend you’ve known for ages. And the time flies.

makenzie1

I got my first round of extensions done about a month ago in anticipation of family pictures that we had scheduled. Sadly, “rain” has been the predominant theme of our weather this spring (with a heavy side of tornados…yikes!), and our pictures have been canceled so many times that I’ve lost count.

The lashes last about 3-4 weeks, so just this last Monday, she came back to make sure they were perfect for pictures (even though they got canceled again)…AND she brought her husband with her to hold Theo (Shaun was out of town), claiming that he wanted to ride along (pretty sure he could have found a football game to watch or something, but I wasn’t complaining).

Her husband, who was just as easygoing and friendly as Makenzie, proceeded to hold Theo for over an hour, y’all. And T loved him!

Again, probably not technically part of her usual job description, but I was just so impressed with her thoughtfulness and how she went the extra mile to make sure I was comfortable.

Another thing I love? Her rates. She charges $95 for the initial application, which is less than half of what salons cost, not even factoring in the fact that she comes to you. And she’s only $30 for refills (when I told my husband that, his eyebrows shot up, and he said, “She’s going to pay that in GAS coming to our house!” :) ).

When I asked her why she charged so much less, she said, “I just really love helping moms out, and I looooove doing lash extensions and making mamas feel pretty while simplifying their days, so I want it to be as accessible as possible, while still worth my time. And charging more just seems dishonest.”

The first time she comes, it takes between 1 1/2-2 hours as she meticulously glues either silk or mink individual eyelashes on top of your own eyelashes to take them from this…

eyelashes3

{Believe it or not, I have the exact same amount of mascara/liner on my left and right eyes, but the light coming in from the left makes it look totally lopsided; Also, for some reason the only thing I can think upon seeing this picture is: “Selfie of a camel.” Apparently, I shouldn’t take pics straight up my nose}

…to THIS

eyelashes4

That would be lash extensions with ZERO mascara. Zero eyeliner. Zero anything. And I still look awake. (Also, between the automatic “beauty filter” on the reverse setting of my phone camera and good lighting, I have the skin of a 12-year-old in this pic. Don’t be fooled).

eyelashes

And the best part? They’re completely weightless. I remember sitting up after the first application, expecting to feel the weight of the extra lashes or for them to be tangling with my lower lashes, and I felt…nothing.

Makenzie just smiled and said, “That’s how they’re supposed to feel.”

Mission accomplished.

I’ve had so many people compliment me on my lashes in the past month, and pretty much nobody could believe it when I told them they weren’t real. One lady even told me how pretty and awake I looked when I walked in to teach a 9 AM BODYPUMP class and how unfair it was that I looked so good in the morning, and I thanked her but walked off truly confused.

Because the truth is that I don’t look good in the mornings. I have major puffy-eyes, and even when I wake up with a lot of energy, it takes a long time for my face to get that telegram.

I was puzzling over her words the whole time I set up my weights, until, suddenly it occurred to me–duh!–it’s the lash extensions. They just make my eyes look awake, which translates into a much better morning look, even though I haven’t changed anything else in my routine.

I ran back to tell her why I had made such a good impression that morning and that she should have Makenzie come over to her house ASAP.

Seriously, in case you can’t already tell, I’m Makenzie’s biggest fan. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Of course, even though $95 is waaaaaay cheaper than you can get it done anywhere else (and did I mention she comes to your HOUSE??! Still blows my mind), it’s still a chunk of change on something that I certainly would not label a “life essential.” I get that. And totally agree.

You know me. I’m the cheap girl. The thrifter. The extra 60% off the sale rack shopper. And I’m usually very low maintenance. I don’t get facials or have my eyebrows plucked. And I can go months upon months without a pedicure or a manicure (I think I’ve had 3 in the last 8 months, and that’s higher than average). I get my hair cut about twice a year.

But this is different.

I would gladly scrape my pennies together for months or have this be my sole birthday gift, if that’s what it took. I can’t even fully articulate why being able to walk out the door with zero eye makeup on is so freeing and enjoyable. But it is. That much I can say for certain.

I would even go so far as to call this a #mamalifehacks post!

So! If you’re in the East Texas area (Makenzie lives in Tyler) and have ever even had an inkling of getting lash extensions, Makenzie’s your girl. All the way. I can’t imagine getting better service or results no matter where you go.

You can contact her at 3 zero 7-7 five 1-9 two 1 zero. (Just replace the words with the numbers they represent. I’m trying to protect her from getting tons of spam calls).

You an also email her for an appointment at: lashesbymakenzie{at}gmail{dot}com

Just tell her Abbie sent ya!

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #8}: The Sunglass Rack

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty bad about keeping a pair of sunglasses for longer than a few weeks.

Either one of the twins decides to “try them on,” which, of course, is code for “break them.” Or I drop them one too many times while trying to juggle toddlers + baby + stroller + bag + keys, etc. etc. Or I set them down in a store to look at something and then get distracted by some sentence or other than starts with the Four Letter Word, “Mama”…and walk off and leave them there.

Whatever their demise, I have long since learned to buy cheap (CHEAP) sunglasses. Of course, you might argue that if I bought pricier shades that I would then be compelled to take better care of them, but at least 1/2 of the reasons that they bite the dust are fairly out of my control, so I’m gonna stick with buying $5 shades from Ross every other month or so, thankyouverymuch.

Of course, no matter how fancy or humble (yes, humble, always) the origins of my glasses, they don’t do a smidge of good if a) I can’t find them (thank you, baby brain) or b) they’re so out of sight that I don’t remember to grab them on my way out the door.

Enter: this brilliant idea from my friend, Lindsay.

sunglasses

She has this cute little rack + hooks hanging RIGHT next to her front door, but instead of the usual stuff like keys or wristlets hanging from it, she has her sunglasses. I mean, you could add the other stuff as well, but I was just so struck by the ingenious simplicity of this little organizational tip that I had to share.

Because even scatterbrained, distracted mamas might at least have a chance of remembering to take their glasses off and hang them just as they came in the door. And especially scatterbrained, distracted mamas would have the best chance they’re ever going to get of remembering to actually grab their sunglasses for the road when they leave.

So simple. So helpful. And cute to boot!

Just the way we like it with #mamalifehacks.

What about you guys? Do you buy pricey shades or stick with the cheap-o, easily replaceable variety? I bought my husband a pair of Ray Bans for Christmas, and, while I am the one who scored a REALLY great deal, I can’t really claim any credit for the fact that they haven’t been lost yet, seeing as how I only wear them when he’s out of town, and I filch them on the sly. (And then, I’m anal about returning them to their rightful owner…so maybe THAT’S the secret to forcing myself to keep up with them!).

Do you lose/break yours often? I try not to make it a habit of buying the same item over and over on any kind of regular basis when I could just keep up with the one I have. But sunglasses are my Kryptonite.

Any easy/clever organizational tips to share this week? You can share here or tag them, along with any other #mamalifehacks you have on social media. Who knows? I just might feature YOU!

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #7}: The Onesie Roll-down Tabs

I feel like such a doofus admitting that it took me 8 1/2 years and 5 kids to learn this simple little Mama Life Hack, but there it is. I’m just slow sometimes, I guess.

Of course, I feel a little better, considering that I was tipped off by my midwife, who, by nature of her job, is around newborns all. the. time and still had only learned the trick recently before telling me.

So, what is this momentous discovery?

onesiewatermark

Say what?

Oooooooh, you mean theeeeeese….

rolldown tabs

Yup. Those mysterious (at least to me) little notches at the neck of almost every single newborn onesie. I always wondered why they made them that way and always assumed it was to make it easier to get your baby’s head through without hurting her.

Yes. That.

AND…

onesie3

The best, most ingenious purpose of all?

Those tabs make it ridiculously easy to roll the onesie DOWN your precious little’s body when he has done something less-than-precious (i.e. exploded like Mt. Vesuvius) in his diaper.

For years, I’ve done the awkward “roll-under-then-lift” as I attempted to corral diaper explosions in the bottom half of the onesie whilst wrestling it up and over my baby’s head, hoping (always in vain) to avoid spreading the mess up his back and in his hair.

Did I mention I can be slow sometimes?

onesie1

{Good thing he’s okay with having a mama that’s not super quick on the uptake}

ANYhoo, once my midwife shared her good tidings of great joy, I found myself almost looking forward to the next blowout, eager and curious to see how well the trick would work.

I didn’t have to wait long (Theo was a champion diaper-exploder in months one and two), and you know what?

It totally WORKED!

The mustard-poop stayed contained. None got in the hair. Huzzah!

So…just in case you’ve never had this particular little mama nugget shared with you, I felt compelled to pass it along.

And now that I have…

Fess up. Did you already know what the tabs were for? Am I the only clueless Mama out there? Please say no. Or at least lie a little to save my vanity, m’kay?

P.S. Don’t forget to share your own #mamalifehacks using that hashtag on social media so I can feature YOU! (And don’t worry if I haven’t featured you yet. I’m making a list, I promise). .

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #6}: Cute Complete Car Caddy

Really quick, the winner of our Rockin’ Baby sling is:

Melody, who is looking for a good baby-wearing option to use on their upcoming move to Germany.

Shoot me an email at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get you hooked up with your new sling!

Two notes on the title of this post: 1) Trying saying it five times fast and 2) It could alternately be titled, “Don’t you wish you had a sister-in-law like me?” (You’ll see why in a sec).

So, I’m not exactly the best at keeping my car neat and tidy (I think I just heard my Mama say, “Amen,” and she lives 30 miles away).

Since we live in the country, we do lots of driving into “town,” and with six kids filling up literally every single seat in the back of our Odyssey, and the requisite s-t-u-f-f that travels with said 6 kids, my car fills up with junk fast.

I’m okay at reminding the kids to get stuff out of the back on their way out, but I’m not awesome at making myself do the same in the front, usually because we’re getting home at 7 PM, and I’m rushing to get kids out of the car and get inside to finish the dinner I prepped earlier in the day. (Excuses, excuses). Hashtag hypocrite.

Which is how I end up with a front seat that looks a little something like this:

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Purdy, no?

But here’s the deal, I kid you not when I say that every time I do a really thorough cleaning of my van, theverynextday, I regret taking something out. Either I cleared all the kids’ extra clothes out, and then, of course, somebody peed themselves, or I took all of  my hair paraphernalia inside and ended up teaching BODYCOMBAT with my hair in my face for want of a hair-tie.

It’s hardly an excuse for a constantly jacked up car, but it definitely begs a solution that leaves less chaos without completely clearing out my traveling arsenal of Mama supplies.

Enter this ingenious idea:

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That would be the complete cute car caddy of this post’s title, and I can call it ingenious because it wasn’t my idea.

It was my sister-in-law’s (yes, the same awesome chick who inspired this freezer meal baby shower Mama life hack).

She gave me that whole adorable set-up as part of my Christmas present. And the thought and detail and sheer sweat equity she invested into it kind of blow my mind. Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

I added the lint roller and the diapers, but everything else, including the idea to cover the entire thing in cute fabric and sew a matching bag to hold all the Walmart bags, was all hers!

And did I mention the matching trashcan?

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I know, right??

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what’s in that “bag of awesome”…

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Napkins, hair bands, gum, ibuprofen, band-aids, tampon, SEWING KIT! Seriously, all I can do is stand back and clap.

Now, if you scroll back up to that embarrassingly messy car pic from above, then you’ll see that, even with my car caddy, I don’t always keep things ship-shape.

But it helps. Oh, yes it does.

It has saved my bacon on multiple occasions, shielding me from downpours, soothing a sudden, nasty headache, and being the saving grace (for me and whoever I breathe on) after a particularly–ahem–fragrant meal.

Plus, you can NEVER have too many Walmart bags in your car. I use them to bag stinky diapers, gather trash, divide up the kids snacks to take inside the gym, stash my sweaty gym clothes when I change, etc., etc. etc.

Anyhoo, I’m working on doing better about my car situation, which is why the front of my car currently looks like this:

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(And, no, I didn’t just clean it out to show you guys; although, you were good motivation to follow through on what I needed to do anyway)

I didn’t do anything drastic like–oh, I don’t know–vacuum it out or anything, but it’s certainly better than it was, and the only reason my awesome car caddy is not perched on the passenger seat is because I took it out to take a picture. (Believe me, it’s back now).

Now, who wants to be my accountability partner for keeping it this way?

What about you guys? Do you struggle to keep your car cleared out too? I’m always kind of flabbergasted at how quickly the junk builds back up after only a day or two after I clean it out. I shouldn’t be, considering that I literally sweep my kitchen three times a day and am well-acquainted with the fact that, when kids are involved, things deteriorate at an alarming rate.

What would you put in YOUR car caddy? Once I added my diapers, mine was pretty much perfect for me.

If you’re an impeccable car type, feel free to share your secrets. I’m guessing one of your tips might be taking more stuff out than you put in? ;)

Sorry, girls, but my sister-in-law is not available for rent. I need her freed up to have enough time to make more awesome things aaaaaallll for me. :)

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #5}: Sam’s Club Pickup FOR THE WIN!

I think I’ve mentioned before here that, in my opinion, my greatest strength as a mother is my tenacity. My stick-with-it-ness. I’m not naturally super-creative or compassionate or patient or fun when it comes to this whole mothering gig…although I have better days than others, of course, in all of those categories, and I am continually striving–by God’s power–to grow in grace.

But, give me a certain kind of challenge, and, by golly, I will pounce on it, punch it in the face, and take it prisoner (most of the time).

(Now, who wants me to babysit their kids?)

Which means that grocery-shopping with 6 children–while far from my favorite activity ever (walking on hot coals and poking my own eyeball with a plastic fork come to mind as more appealing options offhand)–is something that I do regularly and am not afraid of.

I will even wrangle unsuspecting checkers into taking pictures of me and my motley crew.

sams

Theo–hiding out under the Ergobaby–was exactly one-month-old here. (Insert ALL the crying emojis as I realize just how fast time is flying). (Also, let it be known that we do NOT go to Sam’s Club for one gallon of milk plus a tin of peanuts for Nola to use as a seat; there was another stuffed-to-the-gills basket right behind me).

The thing is, though…give me the choice between A) dragging 6 small humans inside a giant store filled with food (most of which they want but can’t have–cue the 2-year-old meltdown parade) and B) having someone else grocery shop for me…

And I don’t have to think about it.

Not for one hot second.

All of my self-proclaimed tenacity and I-ain’t-skeered-of-grocery-shopping-with-six-kids bravado takes a flying leap out of the nearest window, and I’m all, “Where do I sign?”

*Sigh*
If only such a magical service existed.
Oh, but it does.
Say whaaaaat?
Did you know that you can go online at www.samsclub.com and click on “Services”>”Club pickup,” and then proceed to either use the “easy reorder” button (it tracks your purchases so that the items that you buy often are the first to pop up as options) or the “upload a list” button, and–BOOM–your grocery-shopping is done?
samspickup
Once you select your items and choose the time you’d like them ready, some glorious little Sam’s Club grocery store fairy waves her silvery wand over the aisles, and–just like that–all of your grocery dreams comes true, packed neatly into a cart just waiting for you to pick it up.
Or something like that.
Regardless of whether fairies or gnomes or plain old Sam’s Club vest-wearing employees are responsible for the wonderfulness that occurs, occur it does. Which is all I care about.
Honestly, I’ve known this for a while now. But I’m a ridiculous creature of habit. So, I continued to haul all of my offspring up and down the aisles over and over for many months even once I had been gifted with this morsel of heavenly wisdom. Just because I plain forgot.
(Don’t be like me).
One day, a few weeks ago, as we were dumping our many, many items onto the belt, a Sam’s Club manager noticed my brood and said, “They’re really cute. But…you know we’ll shop for you, right?”
And, at first I was like, ????? And then, remembrance dawned, and I was like, “OOOOOOoooooh. YES!”
And then I gave her the biggest hug ever (no, I didn’t; but I thought about it).
So, there you have it. My Mama Life Hack this week is the wondrous knowledge that, if you have a Sam’s Club membership–you are now able to shop from the comfort of your own couch. At no extra charge. As Emperor Cuzco would say: “BOOM, baby!”
And, yes, I have actually done it now. And yes, it is just as easy and fantastic as it sounds.
Now, if only they would bring all the groceries out to me and swipe my card through the driver’s window of my van…
A girl can dream.
So, what about it? Did you know this magical service existed? Have you used it? Are there other such services at other stores that I’m unaware of? Do share.
Oh, and don’t forget to share your #mamalifehacks on social media using that handy hashtag. I’ve got several squirreled away to share with you soon, but I’m always on the lookout for more to feature!
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Mama Life Hacks {Tip #4}: Post-it Notes to Stop Potty Flushes

I honestly have no clue what kind of hits I’m going to get on this post based on random Google searches that correlate with my title results. But I bet I’d get a kick out of them if I bothered to look.

But here’s the deal: even though there’s no NOT ridiculous way to title this particular Mama Life Hack, it’s a legit concern, yo, so we’re going with it!

Last week, I posted this picture to Instagram…

potty

…with a caption thanking Hobby Lobby for having old-school potties–AKA – the ones that don’t flush at random and literally scare the–ahem–you-know-what right out of you, while you’re sitting on them.

As an adult, I’m not a fan of them. But my little girls? They’re T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.

And with the twins pretty much completely potty-trained at 2 1/2 (my earliest successful potty-trainees to date…HUZZAH for peer pressure), I have no interest in introducing anything that might trigger a regression (never mind that they decided to potty-train 1 day after I bought my first mountain of Sam’s Club size 4 diapers in ages. Because irony). (Not that I’m too worried about it at the rate Theo’s growing).

It seems that I’m not the only one with this problem. I got a slew of “AMENS” and also a fair number of suggestions for how to stop the potty monster from roaring while your little darling is astride her perilous perch.

The best one?

Stick a pad of Post-it notes in your purse, and every time you encounter a self-flushing potty, whip one of those bad boys out and place it over the flush-sensor.

Et voila!

no more scary flushes

{Side note: my husband saw this post-it lying around after I took the picture, and was like ?????}

If you’re anything like me, then remembering to put the Post-its in your purse in the first place is your biggest obstacle to executing this ingenious little trick. But never fear! If you forget the first time (or dozen), lots of people reported success with simply hanging a square of toilet paper over the sensor or–in a pinch–employing the somewhat less reliable sister/brother’s hand method.

So, what about y’all? Do you have a kiddo who is/was petrified by the curse of the auto-flush potty? I don’t know of too many kids who love it, but Della is definitely the most afraid of our bunch. Recently, an unfortunately-timed flush sent her flying off the potty mid-pee shrieking in terror. Poor thing (poor mama).

Did you use the Post-it trick? Or just suffer through like I’ve been doing?

 

 

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Mama Life Hacks: Easy Chick-Fil-A Knock-off Breakfast Sandwich

Most Tuesday nights, you can find us in the (torturously long) Chick-Fil-A drive-thru line. (Side note: did you know that “tortUous” is a word? It means “windy,” “twisty,” or “complicated/confusing.” I just learned that today).

It’s our favorite family fast food restaurant (pretty much our only one, actually) (say that five times fast, by the way), and Tuesday nights are kids eat free nights (one kids’ meal for every adult meal ordered), which means that we can feed our entire family for $20.

Our tab is usually a bit higher than that, though, because I almost always order an extra sandwich or two to bring home.

Shaun likes his sandwiches best cold for breakfast (such a sweet, handsome weirdo, my husband), but one morning, I got a brilliant idea to make “his” sandwich stretch a bit further so that everybody could enjoy some Chick-Fil-A yumminess for breakfast without a) another trip into town and b) the expense of buying individual sandwiches.

It was such a big hit that it’s fast become our Wednesday morning breakfast routine.

Here’s what I do:

First, I scramble about a dozen eggs in my usual way (a good splash of milk, generous salt and pepper).

Then I chop up the chicken from a Chick-Fil-A sandwich into tiny chunks and toss it into the eggs fresh off the stove (the hot eggs warm the chicken through in no time).

chicken eggs

I’ll serve them to my kids in bowls (everyone except Simon absolutely LOVES them; not sure what his problem is since he like scrambled eggs and Chick-Fil-A chicken separately). But for me and Shaun, I’ll toast the bun from the sandwich + whatever bread we have at home with a little cheddar, and then pile them up with what we have now dubbed, “Chicken Eggs.” (We’re creative geniuses. Next thing you know, we’ll be naming a baby, “Girl,” or, better yet, “Human”).

Paired with a little Chick-Fil-A sauce (and I do mean a little…that stuff is a heart attack in a tiny plastic pouch), the result is two ridiculously delicious breakfast sandwiches + enough eggs to feed the rest of the family (usually with leftovers) for about $6.

Of course, when you just so happened to have gone to Sam’s the day before and, moreover, just so happened to have let your kids talk you into bringing home a giant box of even more giant croissants…

Well, let’s just say that breakfast this morning was especially decadent.

breakfast sandwich

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes, just something small like an especially yummy, restaurant-style breakfast (and the knowledge that I did it on the cheap) is enough to start my morning off on a really good note and keep it rolling all day long.

What about you guys? Any fun restaurant hacks to share?

Or any other little tip or trick to make Mama-life a little easier (cheaper!) and more manageable?

I’m all ears!

P.S. Don’t forget to tag your tips in social media with #mamalifehacks so I can feature YOU!

P.P.S. Have you entered our fun Younique giveaway yet? Entries close TONIGHT!

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Mama Life Hacks {Tip 3}: $1 Magic Spatula

Confession: I turned off the email notifications on my phone the second I pressed “post” on my “Choose” blog.

Not because I doubted a) that I was supposed to write it or b) that God’s word would stand, but because it’s really hard to get those little “comment notification” dings on your phone all day long after you’ve written a hard post and open them, one a time, with one eye squinted half-shut and your chin tucked in, not knowing whether it’s going to be an affirmation or an attack.

Honestly, I expected a lot of the latter. Anytime you talk about truth, especially of the Biblical variety, they’re bound to come.

Except this time, apparently.

Out of 80+ responses here and on social media, I received not one hateful comment.

Yesterday, I looked at my husband said, “Um, did I do something wrong?”

And he leveled this look at me that kind of said, “I’m sorry, but are you actually complaining about the fact that people aren’t yell-typing at you?”

Anyway.

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t know most of you personally because, as much as I’m not usually a big huggy type, after reading all of the lovely, encouraging, downright inspiring things you wrote in the past few days, I’d probably be all up in your grill, making us all 50 kinds of uncomfortable.

So, all that to say: Thank you.

I am just as convinced as always that I have the nicest, awesomest readers ever, and I am thankful to God for each of you. Truly.

Okay. Moving on…

What if I told you that $1 could change your life? Or at the very least your kitchen habits.

magic spatula

Yup, that rather streaky little fella there has been a bit of a revelation in my kitchen since Mandy gave it to me for Christmas (don’t worry; that wasn’t my entire gift).

But before you go diving for the comment section to give me suggestions for how to get the streaks off of it, let me expound upon this unassuming little tool’s many virtues.

First, it is THEE thing (I just borrowed that spelling from the hilarious Grace of Camp Patton because, well, I just like it) for getting even the gooiest, stickiest, most baked on cookies of them all off of the pan in one neat swipe.

Seriously. This may sound kind of minor, but, take it from a woman whose favorite chocolate chip cookies include bake-directly-onto-the-pan-and-never-come-off toffee bits…this is kind of a big deal.

Also?

It’s an excellent stuck-on-food scraper for anything from burnt cheese to dried on eggs to…whatever.

Speaking of eggs, if you ever wanted to make yourself thee (there I go again) best fried egg with no broken yolk…yup. This little miracle can do that too.

And, perhaps best of all, it makes for an incredibly effective butcher block and floor scraper.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we eat a lot of Raisin Bran around here. AKA g.l.u.e.

Seriously, that stuff gets so stinking stuck on, well, everything. But especially wood and tile. But this little spatula doesn’t even blink an eye. It just goes to town, peeling all of that gluey, bran-flake mess off of any surface I’ve yet to tackle with it.

So, there you have it, folks. My (and Mandy’s–she has been to known to rave about its qualities as well) pick for this week’s Mama Life Hack.

Get yourself on down to your nearest Dollar Store and grab ya one. No thank you notes necessary.

If you’re thinking of sending chocolate, however, my address is…

Oh, whoops. I just remembered what my husband would think about that idea. :(

ANYhoo, now it’s your turn to tell me about YOUR favorite kitchen tool. Or how to get the streaks off of my magic spatula. Or…anything else that might make all of our collective Mama-lives just a little bit simpler and more manageable.

P.S. Don’t forget to tag your tips out in social media land with the hashtag #mamalifehacks. I’ve already gotten several I’m going to feature soon.

P.P.S. Y’all pretty much cleaned me out on my last closet sale, but I’m about to post another round of cheap, cute closet goodies, so if that’s your thing, head on over to @mifmcloset on Instagram (for some reason, that link is not going to the instagram account, but if you search for @mifmcloset, the account will show up) and follow along for the best deals!

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