Parenting

6 Surprising Items You Need For Baby

6 Surprising items you need for baby

There are so many lists of recommended baby items out there. Honestly, some are better than others and some are full of things that you don’t really need. The following list is 6 surprising items you need for baby.. These are things I realized would’ve come in handy when Little One arrived so allow me to share…

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

Laundry Basket

The first item on our list of 6 surprising items you need for baby is extra laundry baskets. I recommend at least one, but the more the better. Somehow these tiny little bundles create so much laundry! You may have the best laundry system in the world but when that bundle arrives that system may very well go out the window.

We have plastic laundry baskets at home right now, but once these wear out I want to switch to wicker baskets. Mainly I like the more natural material of these baskets. I have made the decision to always try to get more Eco friendly materials. But if you already have something that works, use that to exhaustion instead of purchasing something new right away.

Cooler

I purchased two coolers when I went back to work after maternity leave. One was used to bring with me in my pumping bag and the other to send with Little One to day care. I needed something to put his bottles in to keep them cool on the drive. I purchased a small one (unfortunately it’s no longer available) for my pumping bag and this one for day care from Thirty-One.

This one or this one are also great coolers. I really like the small coolers for bottles because they are easy to fit into a bag and, for me, they fit the perfect number of bottles.

Mini Clip on Fan

This mini fan has come in handy so many times. We live in northern Minnesota but it does still get hot here. We use it in our vehicle, and with the rear facing car seat the air conditioner vents don’t cool off the car seat very well. So we invested in this fan which helps keeps Little One cool in his car seat during those hot summer days.

Hand Vacuum

Kids are messy…that’s not really news. So having a tool for quick clean up is so useful and convenient. A hand vacuum will turn into your best friend to help tackle those frequent messes!

Sheets

If you don’t already have an extra set or two of sheets for your own bed, now is the time to get them. At some point, your sweet angel baby will spit up, pee on, or have a blow out on your sheets. It’s gross but it happens, and it’s best to be prepared. We had just upgraded to a king bed before Little One arrived and didn’t get an extra set of sheets right away. We quickly found out that we needed an extra set for accidents.

So make sure you have an extra set ready to go so you are not scrambling like us. Learn from our mistakes – it’ll be worth it.

Bag Clips

I know – bag clips? But stay with me…they are so useful when walking in the stroller. We have been in many situations where we are walking with Little One and it is windy and the blankets are flying all over the place. The bag clips solve this problem! Clip the blankets down to the sides to keep Little One warm and the blankets now stay put.

We have also used the clips and light muslin blankets to help keep the sun out of baby’s eyes. I should take a minute to note that a blanket should not be draped all the way over a stroller or car seat when it is hot out. This creates a bit of an oven in the stroller and the baby is at risk of overheating.

To solve this we used a lightweight muslin blanket and made sure it was always clipped a certain way so there was still air flow into the stroller. We would stop and re-position the muslin as needed and checked Little One’s body temp to make sure he was not overheating.

Bonus Item

Wet Bag

Since a wet bag is technically a baby-related item, I’ll throw it in as a bonus because it is so useful. If you cloth diaper you will most likely be all over this one. However, if you aren’t planning on cloth diapering, these wet bags are still really useful. For example, they are great for sticking in the diaper bag and have handy when dirty clothes need to be changed (the polyester material helps reduce the smell). So if you have clothes that are messy from a blow out or anything else, slip the clothes in there and the mess will be contained. They are also great for wet clothes after the beach or pool!

I hope that you found my list of 6 surprising items you need for baby. Are there any other items that are non-baby related that you’ve found useful with your baby? Let me know in the comments below!

Reasons To Try Cloth Diapering

Reasons why to cloth diaper

I absolutely love cloth diapering! As soon as I learned more about it, I never questioned if I would use cloth diapers or not. My husband was on board early on because all of the fantastic benefits. Below you will find my top reasons for choosing cloth diapers.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Environment

Babies on average go through 2500 diapers in their first year and each diaper can take hundreds of years to decompose in a land fill. I did not want to add to that, so I started looking for alternatives. Enter the cloth diaper. They are more modern now with all in ones, flip, and pocket diapers. It makes it much easier, although the old version of flats are pretty user friendly, too.

While it does take more water to wash cloth diapers it doesn’t create anywhere near the amount of waste. The conscientious user can offset this added water usage with modifications to other water-using habits, like showers and washing dishes.

The Money

Depending on what cloth diapers you use this can be very inexpensive. I personally like Alvababy and Anmababy but I have a few others I use for specific purposes, like Mama Koala. On average, they cost $5 per diaper (some of the high end ones can be $20-30 per diaper). I would recommend 28-32 diapers, bringing it to a total of only $160 for all of the diapers! These diapers can last years, all the way through potty training years and on to multiple kiddos. Here’s the rough math: 1 year of disposable diapers can cost $850, and after 3 years of diapering it would cost $ 2550 for each kid!

We actually didn’t end up paying anything for our cloth diapers. I added them to my Amazon registry, and had loving friends and family members purchase them for Little One. I ended up receiving all that I needed through baby showers, so my diapering costs went down to $0!

We did end up purchasing more bamboo and charcoal inserts, which I would highly recommend over the micro fiber inserts. Not only are bamboo and charcoal natural products, they are able to absorb a little more pee than the micro fiber.

The Bum

Cloth diapers are so much better for Little One’s bum. They drastically reduce the risk of diaper rash. Many disposable diapers have chemicals in them that are bad for babies’ bums, though there are some brands that are addressing the issue. They also dramatically reduce the risk of blow outs (meaning poop goes all over the place if you aren’t familiar with the term). We have been cloth diapering for over a year and have only had 3, and really they weren’t too bad. I remember my sister-in-law, who used disposables, sending me a pic of my nephew and it was all the way up to his neck!

The Cuteness

Cloth diapers are so cute! I don’t really need to elaborate…check them out for yourself.

Reasons why to cloth diaper
Reasons why to cloth diaper

Have you thought about trying out cloth diapers, but not quite convinced? I hope this post on the reasons to try cloth diapering helped. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments blow!

Next, check out my Harry Potter Nursery post.

Reasons why to cloth diaper

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Little One’s first birthday is just around the corner, I can’t believe it! He is just growing up way too fast. So, as well as planing a birthday party, I wanted to make something special for him as a gift. During our brainstorming for gift ideas a swing came up. Of course, trying to rid ourselves of plastic, I didn’t want to get him a traditional baby swing. So off to the craft store I went with plans for a DIY toddler hammock swing. I had found a couple of tutorials online; however, I wanted to make some changes to those plans.

The biggest issue was safety. In addition to gathering supplies that could safely hold 200 pounds (a little overboard for my 20 pound baby, but still), I also added a safety strap to the hammock swing using a couple of D rings. All the supplies I needed were found at JOANN Fabrics and Home Depot. (I linked all products that I was able to on Amazon since I know some people don’t have access to the same stores). Some additional changes I made included doubling the fabric and adding a layer of batting for added comfort.

You can see my post on basic sewing terminology here if needed for this project.

I do have this hammock swing available in my store, click here to find out more!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Supplies for the DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Found at Craft Store

  • Outdoor fabric 1 1/2 to 2 yards, depending on how much extra you want
  • D rings
  • Batting – I had some left over from a quilt that I used. Remember, reusing is one of the 5 Rs of sustainability
  • Poly-fill – I also had some left over from another project. See, craft hoarding can save some money!
    • Find Batting and stuffing here I would use this instead if I did it again. I happened to have some old poly-fill and batting, but in the future I would go 100% cotton.

Found at Hardware Store

Additional supplies

Step One – Preparing Pieces

Each of the following pieces need to be cut out of the outdoor fabric. If the fabric you choose has a pattern to it, double check that it matches up. While the fabric I chose has a pattern, it is a little more random and allows for more flexibility. Cut the following pieces out of your fabric (and then proceed with the other cuts and measurements for the other materials that follow):

  • Fabric
    • 37″ x 12″ pieces for the seat – cut 2
    • 12″ x 11″ for the back – cut 2
    • 6 1/2″ x 11″ for the front – cut 2
    • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front strap – cut 1
    • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
    • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1
    • 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow (optional) – cut 2
  • Batting
    • 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 6″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 36 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ – cut 1
  • Dowel
    • 4 pieces that are 15″
  • Rope
    • 2 pieces that are 11 feet long

When starting to stitch the DIY toddler hammock swing, I wanted to make sure that every seam was very secure. So technically I sewed them twice…a little more work but so worth it. (Check out basic sewing terminology to help with following this tutorial.)

Step Two – Stitching Base

Start out by using the 6 1/2″ x 11′ pieces, placing right sides together and pinning. Starting at the base of the long side, start stitching up the side. Back stitch when first starting out using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stop stitching 6/8″ from the edge of the fabric.

You will now have to turn the fabric; however, there is a neat trick I learned to make a crisp corner. Instead of making a 90 degree turn. stitch one stitch at an angle, then turn the fabric again to begin sewing straight as shown in the picture below.

Stitch along the 11″ side to the 6 1/2″ side and back down the 11″ side, back stitching when done. This should leave the 6 1/2″ side open. Clip the corners before turning. Use this side to turn the front piece right side out. Next, press the fabric with the iron. The outdoor material will be hard to get to lay flat. Try using a pin to pop the seam out (note that it will want to collapse inward) and steaming the fabric. Once complete, insert the piece of 6″ x 10 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of fabric.

Once complete, stitch around the edges again. This time stitch on the right side of the fabric with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance. When turning the corner on the right side of the fabric, use the traditional 90 degree turn. Continue to leave the one 6 1/2″ side open – we will deal with it later.

Follow the same procedure for the pieces that are 12″ x 11″, leaving the 12″ side open for turning.

Step Three – Assembling the seat

For this next part, use the 37″ x 12″ pieces and the front and back that had already been finished. It’s a bit tricky so please stay with me. Find the center of the 37″ side and mark either side. Next, find the center on the front and back piece on the open side. Lay the back piece on top of the right side of one of the 37″ x 12″ pieces, lining up the center marks on each side. The raw edges should be together and the back piece should be on top of the seat piece. Next, line up the front piece with the center of the other side of the 37″ x 12″ piece and pin it down.

Lay the other 37″ x 12″ piece on top, right side down, and line it up and pin. Sew around using a 1/4″ seam allowance while leaving an opening to flip right side out. It is best to leave the opening on one of the 12″ ends. Use the same method as listed above for the corners. Flip the seat right side out and press with an iron. When flipping the seat, the back and front pieces should now be hanging out of the seam.

Next, insert the batting and stitch around the seat again. Fold in the open part and stitch closed. This is the basic seat structure.

Step Four – Creating Pockets

Next, on each of the sides, front and back, create pockets for the dowel. Using the dowel, estimate the pocket size needed by folding the top part of the fabric over the top and pinning it down. Make sure the pocket is even all the way across and is snug enough that the dowel doesn’t easily move, but still loose enough that you can easily insert the dowel into the pocket. Stitch a straight line where pinned, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Repeat these steps for each of the sides and the front and back. Measure each side to ensure that all the pockets are the same width and make changes if needed.

Step Five – Create Safety Straps
  • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front – strap cut 1
  • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1

For the next step use the the above pieces and iron press each of the straps in half the long way. Next, fold in the raw edge on either side and press with the iron. Fold in the ends to from a clean edge and pin. Stitch all the way around the strap. Fold down the shortest strap to create a pocket for the other straps to sit in. Stitch the edge of the pocket down. Using the medium strap, place the flat edges of the D rings on the strap. Fold over the fabric and stitch down.

Attach the two longer pieces to either side of the back piece (not the side that has the D rings attached). Make sure they are evenly placed on the center of the back side piece and pinned down. Back stitch at the beginning and the end. I chose to sew in a square around the tab of the strap to ensure it was secure. Next stitch the smallest strap to the center front of the seat in a similar manner.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Six – Sewing The Pillow

This step is optional but adds a whole lot of comfort. It’s also really cute. Create a simple pillow using the 12″ X 12″ pieces. Pin the pieces right sides together. Leaving a small gap for flipping, stitch around the pillow using the corner method as described above. Flip the pillow right side out and press with an iron. Next, stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or cotton stuffing if able) to the desired amount. Then hand stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. There you have it – a cute little pillow! The pillow is especially great for little ones because it gives extra support and helps them sit better in the swing. The pillow can be removed for older toddlers, which makes this swing versatile for a number of years.

Step Seven – Making Supports

The next step is to cut the dowels to the length of 15 inches. Then using a drill bit, drill a hole 1 1/2 inches from each end. Using sand paper, sand the dowels down and curve the ends to take away any sharp edges.

Step Eight – Finishing The Dowels

At this point I wanted to finish the dowels, but didn’t want to use a product like polyurethane because I know Little One will end up munching on them. Instead, I used coconut oil! This is a natural alternative and is something I keep in my cupboard. Using a small glass bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Next, apply a small amount to each dowel with a rag. The dowels will remain wet feeling for some time, so give it a day or two to dry completely. I think the coconut oil brings out the natural beauty of the wood and gives it a really nice shine.

Step Nine – Securing The Rope

Cut the rope into two 11 foot long lengths. Finding the middle of each piece, combine and tie around the metal rings. Create a loop through the metal rings and pull the remaining length of rope through the loop that was created. I added an additional knot for security.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Ten – Inserting the dowels

The next step is to insert each dowel into the pocket on each side, as pictured below.

Step Eleven – Tie the Dowels Together

Layering the sides over the front and back and dowels. Insert the rope through the top hole and then through the second. Tie the rope with a secure knot and repeat with the other three sides. Burn the ends of the rope using a lighter.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Twelve – Hanging The Hammock Swing

Find a good place to hang the hammock swing, ensuring that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the swing and your baby. We used a thick tree branch, but plan to use a C hook in a beam in our basement playroom for winter time. Using the left over rope tie around the tree, use the other O ring and tie to the bottom of the rope. Using the carabiner attach the two O rings together to hang the swing.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

While the fabric is weather resistant, the hammock swing will last longer if it is not left outside for extended periods of time. The carabiner makes it really easy to put up and take down. We store ours in the bin that holds our outdoor cushions.

Little One is only 12 months old right now, and has room to grow with it. My three year old nephew can fit in it, too. I absolutely love how this turned out. I know that is it many steps but it was fairly easy to make. This DIY toddler hammock swing was definitely worth the time, and is so much cuter and softer then the plastic ones available in stores.

Have you tried this DIY toddler hammock swing? How did it turn out for you? If so, left me know in the comments below!

If you want one of these awesome hammock swing but would to order one you can do so by clicking the button below!

Note

Please check that all materials are intact and strong enough to hold your child before each use. While I hope you have success with this DIY toddler hammock swing. I am not responsible for any injuries. Ensure that you have tested all the equipment before using with your child and never leave your child unattended in the swing. While there is a safety belt, kiddos can be squirmy and get free. Use at your own risk. If you have any questions about the product or how to make this please contact me at maria@littlefamilyonthebiglake.com

Hammock swing

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Smash Cake for Baby’s First Birthday

Banana Smash Cake for First Birthday

I can’t believe Little One is a year old! The time has gone by so fast and Little One has grown up so much in that time. I am constantly amazed at his development and seeing the world through his eyes. Every day he wakes up with a simile on his face and lights up the whole world. Check out the recipe below on how to make a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Little One’s birthday landed on a Thursday this year. My husband and I both took the day off work and had a fun day. It started with a special birthday shirt and a trip to the aquarium, but I wasn’t sure how Little One was going to do at the aquarium. However, he loved watching all the fish and playing in the water tables. After a nap we went swimming and then went for a walk. We ended the day with a smash cupcake. This was good practice for when he had a smash cake for the family birthday party!

We had our family birthday party two weekends after Little One’s birthday (it was how the timing worked out with everyone’s schedules.) Of course we had food, presents and a smash cake. This was a simple banana cake with whipped cream frosting, made with a 6 inch layer and berries for decoration.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Smash Cake

I honestly didn’t think much about this cake because it was pretty simple, but then a friend messaged me and asked for the recipe. I had posted it on Facebook and she wanted to use it for her son’s first birthday, too. Normally I don’t post recipes on Little Family on the Big Lake, but this cake was so easy and turned out so cute I thought I would share it.

What makes this recipe unique is that I have modified the recipe so that it makes two 6-inch round cakes. (You can find 6-inch cake pans here.) This is the perfect size for a smash cake. It can easily fit on a high chair and isn’t too wasteful for the clean up. I will note here that your child shouldn’t eat the whole cake – that would result in a very upset belly! My son smashed it a bit, but before he did he gently removed all of the berries and ate them first.

The other unique thing about this recipe is that I tried to modify the sweetness. It still has sugar but not too much. Let get to making a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Smash Cake for 1st Birthday
Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Time needed: 50 minutes.

The Perfect Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

  1. Ingredients for the cake
    *1/2 cup milk
    *2 teaspoons lemon juice
    * 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
    *2/3 cup sugar
    *1 egg
    *1 teaspoon vanilla
    *1/4 teaspoon salt
    *1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    *1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    *1 cup whole wheat flour
    *1 ripe banana

  2. Ingredients for the frosting

    *16 oz heavy whipping cream
    *3-5 tablespoons sugar
    *1 teaspoon vanilla

  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 6-inch cake tins using cooking spray or butter along the bottoms or sides. (Note: for some reason I only have one 6-inch cake tin, so I baked it twice in the same pan.) Prepare parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Then grease the parchment paper.

  4. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until it’s together and creamy.

  5. Add the lemon juice, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix it until it’s together and smooth, scraping as necessary.

  6. Using the low setting on the mixer, add the flour and milk slowly and in alternating amounts. This will hopefully prevent the flour from getting everywhere.

  7. Smash a banana and mix it into the cake batter until it becomes smooth.

  8. Pour half of the batter into each of the pans and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check the cake at 25 minutes using a tooth pick. Once the tooth pick comes out clean the cakes are done. Allow them to cool on a drying rack before adding frosting.

Frosting
  1. To make the frosting, pour the heavy whipping cream into a mixer and start low to high. Add vanilla and sugar when medium peaks form. Add as much sugar as you would like for sweetness. I generally add 4 tablespoons. Then continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  2. Place the cake on a cake stand and peel off the parchment paper on the bottom. Place a generous amount of frosting on the top of the cake and spread it evenly. Next, flip the other cake upside down and place it on top of the first cake. Peel off the parchment paper. Add a good amount of frosting to the top and spread it evenly with a spatula. Then add frosting to the sides and make it smooth with a spatula
  3. It’s finally time to decorate! I used blueberries and strawberries because they are among my Little One’s favorite foods, but anything can be used. Store the cake in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be eaten. Take the cake out 10-15 minutes before use so it can warm up just a bit.

That’s it, that’s how you can make a wonderful little smash cake for baby’s first birthday . Have you tried this? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Want to see what we made our Little One for his birthday, check it out here.

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

The summer season is fast approaching so I thought I would share with you one of my favorite places on the North Shore – Gooseberry Falls. Gooseberry Falls is a Minnesota state park that is located 40 miles north of Duluth on Hwy 61. It has three main waterfalls and one more that requires a hike into the park, but most visitors just visit the big three. The park also hosts many other trails for hiking and biking, as well as beaches on Lake Superior. Here are my 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

My husband and I used to drive up to Gooseberry on a whim and spend time at the park, but it takes more planning now that we have a little one (like everything when kids are involved!). So below are my top 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

Tip #1 Getting Started

Gooseberry Falls is an awesome place and you will probably spend more time there than you would have anticipated. With that in mind, pack water and snacks just to be safe. There are not spots out on the trails to refill water bottles or purchase snacks so bring your own. Just be sure to take every thing that you bring in out of the park again…remember, no littering! Also, there are lots of stairs in the park and on a hot summer day you can become dehydrated very easily. The visitor center is by the parking lots if you would like to fill water bottles before you get started. Another thing to consider is the weather. If you aren’t familiar with Lake Superior, it can be noticeably cooler than even a couple miles inland. Prepare for you and your little ones by packing an extra layer or two.

Tip #2 Plan for the Littles

Gooseberry is great for people of all ages and as far as water-falling on the North Shore, it is very accessible. The parking lots are easy to navigate and the visitor center is large and accommodating. The trail to the upper falls is nicely paved and easy to access via stroller or wheel chair. However, that is only to the upper falls – there are four in total. If you would like to visit the other waterfalls, a stroller is not going to work. I suggest a carrier for the little ones if you would like to do more exploring on the trails or falls. There is a lot to see at Gooseberry and a good carrier could make your trip that much more enjoyable!

Tip #3 Before you Hike…

As I said before, there is a visitor center near the parking lot. This is one of the only areas in the park where there are restrooms (there are also some down by the beach and campground but none along the falls). So be sure that everyone in your party uses the facilities before you start. I guarantee that if you only kinda have to go and you get to the falls and hear the thousands of gallons of water rushing over the cliffs, your kinda-have-to-go will change into a need-to-go!

Tip #4 Events

As mentioned, there is a fantastic visitor center at Gooseberry. For example, they have a section that is a dedicated education center. There is much to learn about the geography of the area and the plants and animals that call the park home. Gooseberry also offers many special events for learning at the park (you can check out their full calendar of events here). There is something for all levels of interest, including guided hikes, birding, interesting special programs, and geocaching.

Tip #5 Safety

I hate to bring down the mood with safety but it should be a serious consideration when out in the forests. Most accidents should be able to be avoided if the safety rules are followed. Gooseberry has signs posted that indicate warnings and risks – read them, follow them, and ensure everyone in your party follows them. There can be some real dangers in the park, so they are there for a reason. One of the biggest rules that I see people disregarding all the time is playing in the water. Because the river has some very strong currents, little kids could very easily be swept away. Stay out of the water in non-designated swim areas. These areas are also liable to change, so if you visit one year to the next the park may update these due to the ever changing nature of the river.

Also pay attention to warning signs at the beach. Lake Superior is obviously a very large body of water that is unpredictable. Things to be especially aware of are postings regarding rip tides and E. coli in the water. You can find more information on rip tides here and here. Though they are not an everyday occurrence, it is best to be informed!

I have one last safety note to pass on: be cautious on cliff edges because it’s easy for anyone to fall. But another is that the rock edge may not be stable and rock slides can (and do) occur, potentially endangering others. It is best to stay back from the edge and enjoy the view.

I sounded very much like a concerned mom in that last tip. But then again I am a mom so I guess if the hat fits, right?

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

Bonus Tips

My first tip is that it can get really busy during the day. Shoot for visiting early in the day and/or early in the evening.

Second tip – Gooseberry is family friendly, and that includes our four legged friends! Be sure that your pet can handle being around many people and keep them leashed at all times. Also clean up after your pet…it should be a given but some people don’t do it.

I hope with these tips you can have a fun family vacation at Gooseberry Falls. It is one of my favorite places on the North Shore and definitely worth checking out!

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. I would love to hear about your adventures at Gooseberry, so leave a comment below!

See more post here.

How to Treat Clogged Milk Duct at Work

How to Treat Clogged Milk Duct at Work

So you’re going about your day, checking off your to-do items, when you feel it – that hard lump that means a clogged duct…and if you are anything like me an exasperated sigh follows. This post is about how to treat clogged milk duct at work.

What to do? I would simply nurse my baby if I were at home with a clogged duct, then take a hot shower and maybe pump. Most of the time it would correct itself. But I have a feeling that my co-workers might be wigged out if I tried taking a hot shower in the sink in the bathroom…not so professional!

After having to deal with multiple clogged ducts I have developed the following system that works for me every time. Hopefully it works for you, too!

Relax

My first tip is to relax, which is really hard when you are stressed about a clogged duct and getting your work done. But seriously try to relax, it makes everything go easier if you are calm. Try a couple of deep breaths, listen to calming music, or whatever else it takes.

Heat

Before you start pumping, apply heat to the affected area. You could try a DIY heat pack like this. Due to their slimness, these can be easily hidden in your top. I have also used neck heating packs, which are a little bulky but whatever works right? If you don’t have access to a heating pack try a mug with hot water. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes. Heat is so important for helping unclog a duct Taking a hot shower also achieves the same thing.

Massage

Next, give your self a massage in the affected area while heating, before pumping, during pumping, and after pumping. Use your fingers to apply gentle pressure in a circular motion over the clog.

Pump

Pump as normal and massage as you go. You should pump when dealing with a clogged duct at least every couple hours, as well as following the other steps until the clog is gone. Using this method, I have only ever had to go through the procedure once, but some clogs can be stubborn.

Clogged ducts, if left untreated, can lead to very painful mastitis that requires a prescription to treat. Hopefully by following these tips you can get rid of any clogs before they turn into something more serious.

Have you had a clogged duct at work? Do you have any extra on how to treat clogged milk duct at work that worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Harry Potter Flying Key Mobile



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Flying Key Mobile

For Little One’s Harry Potter-themed nursery I wanted to create a flying key mobile. In search of ideas, I went to my favorite site, Pinterest. I was amazed at some of the ideas that I saw but couldn’t find any great tutorials on how to make it. For all the other Potterheads out there, I thought I would share how I made this one and what I would do differently if I were to make one again.

One disclaimer before we begin – Little One loved looking up at the mobile and watching the keys fly around. For safety reasons, it will have to go before he is able to reach it. This mobile is definitely not a play toy.

Tools and materials

  1. Embroidery hoop. You can find these at most craft stores. The hoops I got were from JoAnn and are 10 inches in diameter and made out of plastic. Normally I would prefer wood because it is a natural material but the wood ones I found were really flimsy and I wanted it to be able to support the weight of the keys. You can find a wooden one here or a plastic one here.
  2. Keys. I purchased these keys from amazon.
  3. Spray Paint. I used Rust-Oleum Hammered Brown but any color that matches your room would look good.
  4. String or thick thread.
  5. Ribbon.
  6. Hot Glue.
  7. Fairy Wings. I printed out these pages for the wings on my home printer.
  8. Embossing powder and pad (optional). I used clear embossing powder and a pad to attach the powder.
  9. Heat Gun (optional). I have a heat gun that I have had for a very long time…I’m not even sure if they make it any more but here is one like it.

Assembly

Step One

Before you begin, gather all of your materials. Then spray paint your embroidery hoop. For this project only the inside of the hoop is needed (the outside layer has a fastening system that is not used). Spray paint the hoop in light, even coats and watch out for drips. It may take a couple of coats before it is even all around.

Step Two

Print out the appropriate amount of fairy wings to match the number of keys you’re using. I purchased a 30 pack of keys and ended up using most of them. Once printed, carefully cut out the wings. I decided against trying to get the print on the front and back of the wings (if you are a printer wiz that would be a cool look!). Next, use the pad to apply a clear layer over the wing. Then coat the wings in the embossing powder and use the heat gun to set it – the gun melts the powder together and forms a hard coating. This step helps the wings look shimmery. I decided against decorating with glitter because I didn’t want any to fall off into the crib. The wings would look cool, too, with just the paper but I though the embossing would add a magical quality.

Step Three

Attach the wings to the keys using hot glue. Then attach a string or a piece of thick thread to each key. To attach the ribbon to the dry embroidery hoop, tie on four pieces, all being at least 18 inches long, and equal distances apart on the embroidery hoop. Tie the four free ends of the ribbon together but create a loop at the very end for hanging from the eye screw (mentioned later). Depending on your ceiling height, decide how long you would like the hanger to be. Finally, attach the key strings at varying levels around the embroidery hoop. Trim all loose threads and seal the knots with a little glue.

Enjoy

Your Harry Potter Flying Key Mobile should be ready to be hung up. We used an eye screw for attachment to the ceiling. Our little one has spent lots of time lying in his crib watching the keys fly around!

After completing my mobile and using it over these past 10 months, one thing I could have done better right away is securing the knots. Admittedly, I did not do a good job of that the first time around and had to go back and put a little glue on all the knots.

This flying key mobile has added to Little One’s magical Harry Potter nursery in a very cute and whimsical way!

Have you made a flying key mobile or have any questions or comments? Let me know below!