Thursday, August 31, 2017

Construction in Tot School

I always try to find new ways to keep Bears attention while trying to teach him something.  For the past few months, he has been obsessed with CAT Trucks or any type of construction truck.  He won't go anywhere without his excavator.  Bear hadn't had much of chance to use them with anything more than pretend play when I remembered we still had the dyed rice.

 He tried to wait so patiently while I went over the colors with him.  He was able to tell me what the colors were with a bit of coaching.  Bear has a speech delay so we are always trying to push him to speak while keeping it fun for him. He would say just about anything I asked while working with the construction trucks.

I tried to talk to him and ask him questions or to do small tasks.  For example, I asked Bear to use the excavator to pick up the purple rice or to flatten out the blue rice.  I tried to focus on colors mainly with this task.

Bear does well when he can have a visual or hands on task to reinforce what he is learning.  He may not be totally sure of which color is which but he does know that green, purple and blue are colors which are part of the process.

Previously we have worked on "empty" and "full" so I did go over those with him once again when he seemed to get bored with colors.  Bear was able to tell me if the truck "full" so I could drive it away.  The excitement when he gets it is what I love to see.

This isn't a mess free tot school activity, but as far as cleanup goes a broom and dustpan or vacuum made quick work of it.  Bear even tried to help me out with this.  The rice didn't stain anything it landed on.  

I used an edible (yet gross) dye for the rice so some of the colors did transfer to Bear's hands and toys.  I washed them with just soap and water which seemed to do the trick.  There were one or two spots on his right hand that took a day or so to wear off despite washing several times.  I'm wondering if the rice got wet or something which may have caused the food coloring in the dye to stain his hand. 

Overall, Bear had a blast and learned a bit, but was terribly upset when he couldn't keep playing with it.  We have several more bags of dyed rice he will be able to play with so we can do more of this when we have free time.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

House Hunting Day 2

Turns out that "later this week" meant the next day. lol.  Having kids means finding the time when you can to do what you need (or want) to do.  So on to documenting day two of house hunting before the kids wake up!

Day one of house hunting produced a great house that we loved!  Day two had a few houses that we were excited to see because they were in great neighborhoods.  When we drove past we were happy with what we saw.  Did the pictures match the house?  Is it what we thought it would be?   The down side is that most were higher priced than the new build we saw the day before.  We were fine with that as long as the house was worth the price.  

The first house of the day was back in the first neighborhood as day one.  It was a waste of time, but I like to keep my appointments so I walked through it alone because the kids were sleeping.  The rest of the time went that way.  Hubby would only go in if it was worth it.  That first house of the day wasn't worth it at all!  The next two weren't either.

Then came the massive house I absolutely loved online.  The finishes were impeccable.  The rooms were spacious with massive closets.  The location was even great.  I would have been happy with that home, but there was just something missing.  I don't know what it was but it wasn't OUR home. 

Last up for the day was this one...

This house was an actual contender to the new build from yesterday.  This house was beautiful.  As you can see above, there is curb appeal for days!  The kitchens were comparable in size but I loved the gray tone of this house.  There was plenty of space in the backyard.  The biggest of all we had seen.  Bedrooms were a decent size with walk in closets.  The bonus space upstairs was an ok size.  Not as big as the new build but it would work.  

Hubby walked through it and picked up on a few things I didn't notice.  The tile in the living room and kitchen did not match up.  Likely because there was carpet in the living room they replaced with tile.  Since Hubby did the second walk through he helped the realtor close up the house.  He found out that there were 2-3 switches that worked most lights.  A bit annoying until you figured it all out.  However, I would for a house we did really like.

We drove home discussing the two houses.  I think while we liked both we knew what house we wanted.  That decision will have to be a post for another day.  I know, I know!  Soon I promise!  Now to start my morning since Bear is tugging on my arm wanting breakfast.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

House Hunting Day 1

Before we ever got to San Antonio we knew we wanted to buy a house.  We hated paying someone's mortgage for the last eight years. At the time renting made sense because we were moving all.the.time.  That isn't the case anymore.  Now is the right time for us to buy a house and start planting some roots! 

Thanks to the Army we have lived in so many different houses that we know what we like and more importantly, what we don't like.  This is extremely helpful when house hunting!  None of that House Hunters, "Sally wants to be by the beach but Jim wants to be in the country" situation here.  We were both on the same page in what we wanted in a home.  You have no idea how smooth this process has gone because of that.   

We jumped on Zillow, put in our specs, then checked out what was listed.  There were so many homes in our price range that it became overwhelming.  After looking at a few homes we had to narrow our search, even more, to make it manageable.  With an idea of what we wanted we contacted the appropriate realtor who helped us out tremendously!  He showed us houses not listed on Zillow or any other site we were using.  He also gave us some advice on the various neighborhoods we were looking in.  Our goal was to have a list of 20 or so houses to view when we finally made it to San Antonio.

Once here we did not waste time.  Within the first week, we touched base with our realtor to set up walk throughs of homes on our list.  The top 10 of what we liked only.  It would take a few day to do so as some were occupied at the time.  We took that as an opportunity to drive around and explore the various neighborhoods.  This allowed us to get a better idea of the area, something you can't get from an online ad.  

The first area we drove through was for the number one home.  We were not ok with the run down look of the older development.  It was not well maintained at all.  Even if we loved the house I didn't think it would make up for the neighborhood.  

The next day we did the walk through which went as expected, a big flop!  The next three houses were more of the same.  They just didn't seem to match up with what we were seeing online.  Camera trickery at its finest.  It all started to get us a bit nervous about buying.  How could our picks be so off?  They were great for renting but for buying is something completely different.  It's a different mindset we needed to get into. 

The last home we looked at was in a new development they were still building.  They had the cutest charm and great amenities visible when we pulled in.  Then we found out that the home we wanted was off the market.  We were bummed.  Our realtor ran in to grab one of the builders to show us another home that was on the market but not yet built.  

This is the home they walked us though.  This particular home was already sold, but it was like one that was in the process of being built.  That one would be done by the end of October.  We would be in a hotel for at least 40 days anyway due to closing time, but this would extend that time even more.  However, we loved the house.  It was what we were looking for with some extras we didn't even know we wanted.  Hubby was sold.  I loved it but I felt like we still needed to look at the other homes we had scheduled for the next day. 

 The builder said we had 24 hours to make a decision as they go super fast.  On the way out he took us to the actual house to get a feel for the property.  IF we picked this house we would NOT be able to pick the finishes in the house.  It would be one of three finishes.  The builder was not sure which one that particular house had.  Since there isn't any customization to the homes they can get them up quickly.

The next day of house hunting will have to wait, Sorry.  The kids are waking up and I need to get my day started.  I'll write up day two of our house hunting venture a bit later this week.  Look out for that. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

mifold Review

This post is sponsored.  I received a booster seat to review, however, all opinions are mine.  You will find nothing less than 100% honest review from me.

The goal of mifold is making sure that our kids are safe whenever they are traveling.  Be it to and from school or in the cab from the airport to the hotel, there are times when older kids are not in booster seats when they should be.  Now that Bear is moving into the booster seat realm we wanted to ensure that he was still just as safe, especially since we are out and about a lot more.  Between traveling, play dates, and back to school kicking off the mifold booster seat will get tons of use! 

While we could use this full time I think its best use in our family is for traveling.  Not living near the majority of our family we are always flying to see them.  It's small enough that we can put this into our carry on for him to use on the plane by simply putting the shoulder strap to the side.  No more lugging it through the airport or worse yet having to check it. This makes the whole rental car situation that much easier.  

Hubby also brought up that he really like that he could carry it in his book bag without an issue.  While Bear isn't in preschool just yet he will be starting soon.  Some days it will be easier for Hubby to pick him up but I will likely always be dropping him off.  We really did not want to pick up a second seat just for his car so this booster seat is perfect!  The same concept would apply for play dates or when we visit family.  The mifold is easy for any adult to set up and use making sure our kid is safe!

We were given our choice of color from the six options available.  Personally, I prefer more neutral colors for things like booster seats or anything like that so it can be passed on from kid to kid.  The Slate Gray color was right up our alley as was the gray color.  Since the color is on the outside, you will only see it when it is folded up for the most part.  If you went with a brighter color that your kid preferred more, you wouldn't have to be staring at it all the time in the car.    

Starting out I knew Bear was on the small side so I was not sure he even needed the strap holders open for it to fit.  It turned out he needed the seat adjusted to the first setting for proper fit.  The red sliding buttons made this super easy to do.  

Since it was so easy to adjust I had my Nephew also try it out to find out where he would be before bringing them to the car.  He turned out to be the third setting.  As long as you know where you need to be It should be easy for someone to switch between kids.  You could easily adjust as needed on the fly.  However, I like to over prepare.  

I had Bear try to adjust the seat himself and he was not able to.  He is only four so I had my nephew (8yo) give it try.  He was able to adjust this to where he needed it to be with ease.  This is something I would expect most older kids to be able to do.  That said, there were a few small negatives I saw with this booster seat.

The clip on the shoulder was not easy for either kid to do on their own.  This would mean the adult would need to do this each and every time they had to place the seat in the car.  The height once adjusted would make this a quick thing to do.  Additionally, I would love for there to be some sort of elastic to hold the extra strap.  As you can see below it just sort of hangs possibly getting in the way.  Again this is nit picking.

The obvious problem mainly is for younger kids.  It was impossible for Bear to feed the seatbelt through the holder, over his lap, then into the other holder before buckling it in.  My nephew was able to feed it into the holder when he wasn't sitting in it as practice.  When in the car trying to buckle himself in was a whole other story.  He struggled quite a bit while getting frustrated in the process.  There was one adaptation that he managed to figure out that would help him for everyday use.  He figured out that if you kept the shoulder strap attached and fed the seatbelt through the first holder, he could do the rest on his own with a little bit of time.  He told me that he didn't want adults buckling him all the time.   I completely understand this so I am glad he was able to figure out a solution that works for him.

Along with something to hold the extra strap, I would love something to hold the strap around the booster seat when folded up.  It's a small thing, but it would make it that much easier to transport.  

My nephew did not want to be pictured, but he was willing to try it out and give me his thoughts on it.  While he is only 8 years old he does not like that he still has to use a booster seat while most of his friends don't have to.  Sadly he got the short genes that run in our family which means he still needs to be in a booster seat for safety reasons.  He really liked the mifold booster seat better than the traditional booster seat he currently is using.  He liked that it was low to the seat and blended in.  Or as he said, "it's not big and puffy" and "you don't know its there."  Two great points!  He went on to tell me that he liked that he didn't feel like a little kid having to use the same thing his 4-year-old cousin (Bear) also has to use.  

The whole point of the mifold, in my opinion, is its portability.  My kid can take it with him for those times we are traveling or under someone else's supervision.  I likely wouldn't use this full time with younger kids like Bear even though you could.  I still feel like he needs the bulkier booster seats with racer backs for everyday use because of his age/maturity.  That said for those times when he is traveling this would ensure he is safe in someone else's car!  Likewise, this would also work well for those visiting us because it does have a wide height/weight range and is easily adjustable to fit the child in need of the booster seat.  

Since we travel quite a bit, I would gladly fork over my cash to Target, Amazon, or any other dozen places you can find the mifold booster seat.  If you can combine that with the back to school tax-free week, car seat turn in, or even one of targets gift card bonus' then that's just icing on the cake.  Don't forget the carry bag which I will be heading out to pick up this week!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Switching Hotels Fail

When we got to San Antonio we went to stay at a pet-friendly hotel for a week until space opened up at an extended stay hotel near Hubby's job.  The new hotel resembled a studio apartment as it had a small kitchen.  The main benefit was the kitchen, we could cook our own food and save a bit of money that way.  We weren't looking to do anything fancy, just some easy meals.  Eating out gets old fast!

While the front desk was extremely helpful upon checking in, making sure would get the best rate possible, it did not make up for the layers of filth in the room.  The smell of the room was overwhelming.  We hoped it was from someone nearby cooking but come morning we realized it was just the room.  The hallway had its own "unique" smell. 

The carpets were stained which caused my Eve's clothes to turn brown after crawling on it for just a short period of time.  The dresser, kitchen cabinets, and fridge needed to be cleaned.  We went out to get our own Clorox wipes to do so since maid staff couldn't clean the room properly prior to check in.  

The door was missing part of the safety lock and looked like someone forcefully tried to either enter or exit the room.  Clearly not something that made us feel comfortable being alone with kids and pups in a room all day.  The dogs would be useless if someone did try to break in.  

The final straw came in the morning when the top of the window frame started to leak as a bad storm blew in. The worse the storm got the faster the water poured into our first-floor room.  Understandable that accidents like the water happen however in combination with everything else I could not in good conscience stay there with my family another night.  The management staff in the morning did offer a full refund which was reflective of our experience.  Back to the original hotel, we went. 

That said the choice to move hotels didn't work out as planned.  I'm glad we tried it for the night but we are all much happier here at our original hotel.  We plan to make it work with just a mini fridge and a microwave without eating out the majority of our meals.  This could get interesting!

Barbie Hair Fixes Part 1

Let's jump right on into it.   Every doll hair fix tutorial I could find started with brushing out the dolls hair.  It may look worse...