A (Green) Toy Review

This past Christmas was the first Christmas I ordered everything off of Amazon and didn't step foot into a brick and mortar store.  


I loved it. 


We gift our children three gifts each and we only buy them things that we would want to keep in our home for a long time. With just $300 and one hour, we got Christmas shopping done for our five little ones.  

Here are two of my favorite purchases from our Amazon Christmas:


Our two year old absolutely loves this toy just as much as her big sister.  

Our two year old absolutely loves this toy just as much as her big sister.  

We bought this make your own garden set for our three year old daughter who absolutely  adores picking flowers.  

Even my six year old son enjoys this toy. He made this creation.  

Even my six year old son enjoys this toy. He made this creation.  

It's a "green" product which is awesome and all of the pieces can be configured to make almost endless arrangements of flowers. We just love this toy. 


Our favorite purchase has got to be this wooden marble run we got for our six year old son. We have had so many fun hours of play and it's a "go-to" toy on an almost daily basis. How many toys can you say your children still actively play with 7 weeks after Christmas? Not many, right?


The marble run my son made without instructions.  

The marble run my son made without instructions.  

I would highly encourage parents to check these toys out and just revel in what your child comes up with. I love open-ended toys because they're classic, they typically last through multiple children, and, most importantly, they encourage critical thinking and engineering skills.  

And honestly, who needs another loud, light-up or techie toy in their home?! Not me. No, thank you.  


Nothing. And Everything.

Yesterday morning, my sister texted me and asked what my plans were for the day. I immediately thought and responded with "Nothing". But before I could hit send, I typed "And everything."

She laughed and said, "that's a good reply."

Most all of us know what's it's like to have a new baby and you kinda feel trapped at home for several weeks and months. Not because you necessarily have to be trapped, but more so because the daunting task of going anywhere around a newborn's very random "un-schedule" is almost never worth it. And, if you add in several more children to the mix, well, you get where I'm going with this...

So yesterday was another day of nothing... and everything.

IMG_3012.JPG helping a newborn poop is a part-time job without pay or benefits

IMG_3014.JPG but when the newborn poop train starts, it goes on a cross country trip of sorts

IMG_3016.JPG when cabinet locks fail you, the toddlers and their lollipops win.

IMG_3019.JPG then the sugared up princesses beg to go outside on one of the hottest days

IMG_3021.JPG this "get up" easily adds an extra 10 degrees to the situation outdoors

IMG_3022.JPG proactive dinner. Smoking ribs all day long.

IMG_3025.JPG "lather,rinse,repeat" copy and paste this scene all day long. Sitting down to nurse.


IMG_3029.JPG playing with the full-bellied baby

IMG_3031.JPG dealing with preschool aged emotions is tough

IMG_3033.JPG equally as tough is cleaning up after this one

IMG_2970.JPG making sure these two don't end up in the ER is also a part-time full-time job with no pay and few benefits

Add in meal-making, school-teaching, laundry-folding, bath-giving, spill-cleaning, disaster-preventing, story-telling, and countless other tasks...I guess I shouldn't feel so unimportant for not having plans most days. Because everyday we do "nothing" gives way to a day we do "everything".

Love, Alicia

How we made all of our children awesome sleepers

The first three months of parenting our first child, we experienced major sleep drama. He was a colicky little guy and we were rethinking our ability to parent nearly every second of every night. Then, one night around his three month birthday, he switched his nightly tantrum button off. The reminder we experienced once this three month period was over: sleep can and will coexist in this house with a baby.

Since then, we've had four additional babies. Either we're completely insane to you, or we figured out how to make each evening predictable, peaceful, and positive.

Here are some key points to our success with avoiding nighttime battles with so many little ones each night.

Aside from the colicky stages we experienced with both our oldest child and our fourth child, we made sure we established a predictable nighttime routine from the start.

I feed my babies on demand

I have never breastfed my babies on a schedule. Throughout the day, night, whenever, I offer my babies comfort and nourishment at first sign. This also encourages me to pick up on my babies cues from the beginning. Usually, within a few days after birth, I've established which noise or cry is hunger and which is discomfort. This is important because it develops the earliest trust between myself and the baby. I believe establishing trust first, encourages a good, independent sleeper later on. Notice I said, "later on".

We are strict on bedTIME

We have given all of our children early bedtimes. The MOST important reason why is so my husband and I can enjoy one another, sans children, before we get too tired to even care about enjoying each other. New babies and toddler aged children always go to bed between 7-7:30pm. We don't schedule things that bump into this time. If we're out, we almost 100% of the time make sure we are home with time to spare to complete the short nighttime routine and get the children in bed. If you're older than preschool age, which our boys are, we usually allow them an extra hour of awake time from the time we put our tiny ones down. They are always in bed before 9pm, but it's typically 8-8:30 when they get to bed.

We don't let the children sleep with us

Sometime between when our babies start sleeping all the way thru the night (which is around their first birthday) we stop bringing them back into our room to nurse and cuddle. We always respond to our children, no matter what. No matter what age. The key is we go to them. If (older) baby or toddler cries in the middle of the night, we go to them, assess their need, possibly pick them up and cuddle right next to the crib and if they are fine and just needed a hug or two with mommy or daddy, we gently put them back in bed. Same for bad dreams with the toddlers and olders. We go to them and comfort or pray, etc. But we've not made it an option to come and cuddle and stay in mommy and daddy's bed. (And, these "cry outs" are very few and far between.) Guess what? Our children don't come in and wake us up in the middle of the night, they don't hop in between us and settle in and wet the bed for us in the middle of the night, etc. We co-sleep and tend immediately to every new baby, but at a certain, older age, we make sure that the child knows that mommy and daddy will always quickly respond to them, but our bed is ours and your bed is yours and thats where we sleep and this is where you sleep.

We don't do cry it out

This one is a given considering the above information. I was told to do this with my oldest at nine months by my pediatrician and I ended up hating her for it. It was a horrible idea and wrecked me to the core. I know some swear by it, but I will never do it again. Never. And now, that's all I will say about it for fear of planting my feet on that proverbial soap box.

Jammies, brush teeth, books, prayer, bed

We follow a very strict and predictable sequence of events for our little ones. This is key too so that the child isn't caught off guard by the bedtime hour. We choose our jammies, we tagteam (if he's home in time) the teeth brushing, we read a book or two (depends on how tired we are at this point), we always pray holding hands, and say the same little song: "Mommy loves you, Daddy loves you, and Jesus loves you". This comes right before smothering each child with lots of hugs and kisses and a "see you in the morning, I love you". We always stand at the door and say "Happy Easter" to the little girls. You'll find a good explanation here. Our boys are almost 8 and 6 years old, so we've modified our routine with them over the years. It generally follows the same pattern as the girls, but with more independence on their part. We always pray with them after reading to them out of the Bible and a chapter book we're working on. We make rare exceptions for the boys bedtimes to be altered. Some examples are fireworks on July 4th, special fishing trips or camping trips, and maybe some other random event.

Because we've been so consistent, we don't have bedtime meltdowns, we don't have arguing from the boys, and we don't have children coming into our room. I can't imagine if that were the case seeing as how we now have five children to work bedtime around.

I hope you can take something from this post and hopefully make your nights more peaceful and conducive to the ultimate goal: sleep.

love, Alicia


my babies before bedtime <3