Thursday, January 24, 2013


There are a lot of things that I try to make my kids do. I try to get them to eat healthy, I try to get them to stop fighting with each other, I TRY to convince them that I know whats best for them at any point in time, etc. So all-in-all I'd say that I'm a pretty pro-active parent. (Smile and nod) But there are some things that I just don't do. One of those things is potty-training. I don't want the stress, I don't want to nag, I don't want to clean up pee/poo on my floor... I just don't wanna... and you can't make me! (Insert arm crossed stopping with a giant pouty face)

Now my blatant potty training defiance doesn't mean that my kids will eventually be sent off to college with a suitcase full of young adult sized cloth diapers, or that I'll receive phone calls from elementary school counselors daily because the teachers refuse to continue to wipe my kids butt. Instead, they do what all children do every day with virtually everything in life.... they figure it out.

I call my method "un"potty-training. I completely leave it up to the child. We've found that its relatively stress free for all involved when we let them handle it themselves and tell us. We keep them in diapers and take them off if they say that they want to go potty but we don't make the actual transition to undies until they are dry every day for a week. This goes for night time as well, which we've found takes several additional months for them to grasp than day time pottying. Approaching it this way keeps it easy for us. I don't mind diapers, we use cloth, it doesn't cost extra money. We almost always have a baby in diapers anyway, so it's not like getting the kids potty trained according to our own schedule would make much of a difference. The best thing is that we very rarely have to deal with accidents. In the time that they were "proving" their abilities during the "week of dry diapers" they magically figured out that they need to go potty as soon as they felt prompted to by their body, because if they didn't, they would pee where they didn't want to. (I don't know the psychology behind it, again... smile and nod). My oldest two were in undies completely around 3.5 and my third was in undies at 2.5!

I am by no means saying that this method works for everyone. Heck, it's not even a real method (I don't think, I'll live in my ignorant bliss thinking that I created it). But ultimately, the hands off, child led approach seems to work really well for our kids.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013= Cha, cha, cha, CHANGES!

Well we've made it, this morning we all ushered in a new year. 2013! Sure to be a year of excitement and growth. But for the Dresser clan it's going to be a year of BIG changes!

If you recall several months ago I mentioned my husbands graduation from college which was coupled with the ever dreaded "finding a job" waiting game. We applied to every job we saw, every state possible, fully intending on it being a 6 month+ endeavor. Two months later, we have a job offer! However, not only do we have a job offer but we have ACCEPTED a job offer!

I would love to be able to say that the job is in Illinois and we'll be able to stay by all of our new friends and our amazing church, but unfortunately I can't. Kyle's new job begins February 4th! So that means, my diligent readers, that our family will be setting up some new roots in Scottsbluff, Nebraska!! Where, you ask, is Scottsbluff, NE? It is located smack dab in the middle of nowhere on the western line of Nebraska, 40 minutes from Wyoming and 3 hours from Denver, CO.

It is a town of about 17,000 people connected to a town (Gering, NE) of about 6,500 people or so and then not much else for about 50-80 miles in any direction! 

We're incredibly excited for this opportunity to start our lives over. While we will miss the friends that we have made, the family we have here, and our church that has changed so much in our lives we realize that this move is probably the best one that we can make. It will afford us the opportunity to get plugged in somewhere else, live the simple life that we desire SO much and experience a new GORGEOUS area. 

So what's next? Well... January 8-10th we're going to fly out to Denver (the closest major airport) and make the 3 hour drive to Gering, where Kyle will fill out his new hire paper work and we will begin the search for a place to live! Our goal is to all move out there together, but understand that if that is not possible we will move when we find a place.

I would ask that you just be in prayer for all of us. This is a big move that will come with big adjustments for all of us and that is difficult with little kids. We trust and know that God is sovereign and will not lead us where he doesn't want us, but it's still a little scary! Pray that we will have a quick and easy adjustment and that the house search is easy so we can all move together and not be separated.

Oh and if anyone has any boxes that would be AWESOME! haha....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My 3 year old challenge

All of us with more than one child have that "one" kid. The one that challenges your every nerve and conviction. The one that makes you question reproducing ever again. The one that makes you consider starting on a six pack at 9 in the morning. It's normal, I understand, we've all been there (please Lord tell me I'm not alone in that!).

I have always known that my third baby, Mason, was "that child" for me. He has always marched to the beat of his own drum in every way possible. He talked really late, but walked very early. He didn't eat purees until he was 9 months old, but nursed around the clock until he was almost 2. But it wasn't until recently that I really started to take a look at his behaviors and I began to get worried. Daily (almost multiple times daily) I'd say to myself, "He's so much more than strong-willed, there has to be something more going on!"

Until last week, I'd been putting off getting him evaluated. Part of me wanted to know so badly what I was missing. Why was he NOTHING like my two older children. (I know every child is different, but this was so much MORE than different.) And the other part of me was genuinely afraid because I desperately didn't want anything to be different about him, he's still my perfect little baby boy with crazy curly hair and a spunk that I could only dream of.

Wednesday came around and his appointment was here. I nervously brought him in and we talked over a lot of things. All of his behaviors were analyzed. We watched his actions and then the Dr turned and talked to me. "We can't officially classify him as anything yet," she said, "but right now we're going to call him hyperactive with a possible touch of OCD. We'll reevaluate him once he's in school." It wasn't at all the answer I was looking for. There was no start to make things better, no parental closure... nothing. I was told he needs to get as much activity as possible. If he gets antsy I'm supposed to bundle him up and have him run around the yard for 30 minutes. I need to keep him entertained and his mind moving.

So now, we wait. We do what the doctor has suggested and see what happens. Keep an eye on his development (which is apparently a little delayed) and his behaviors and just... wait. I have to say I'm frustrated that there is nothing intensive that we can do right now. I didn't want to medicate him or anything, but maybe some sort of behavior therapy or head-start program so that every day doesn't have to be such a challenge.

I will continue to do my own research and work with him the best way I know how. Through all of this I've just come to realize more and more that there is no cookie-cutter kid, even within the same family. Parenting philosophies and "modes of operation" are supposed to be tweaked and altered with each child. So... I will continue to alter... until I get it right! (Whatever THAT means!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Very Cheap-O Christmas Part 2: Freebies!

There are some people (grandparents, spouses, siblings) that I like to give a little mass produced extra in addition to a DIY creation for Christmas. However, the same situations applies... money is tight. So I search for FREEBIES to give as gifts. There really is nothing better than getting something that is normally $15+ for no more than shipping and giving it to someone and having them think you spent a small (relative) fortune on it.

Here is my current list of Freebies:

Free 2013 Photo Calendar from Vistaprint

Free Custom Mug from Vistaprint

20 Free Custom Gift Tags from InkGarden

10 Free Christmas Cards from InkGarden

Free Flip Book from Vistaprint

Free Baby Talk Magazine Subscription

Free Samples of Airborne (4 packs).... seems silly but a great stocking stuffer!

Free Jiffy Corn Bread Recipe Book (again seems silly... but think stocking stuffers people!)

50 Free 4x6 prints from Shutterfly (for new members only... create a new email if you have to)

Also, make sure that you sign up and ask to be on the email list for Walgreens, Shutterfly, Vistaprint, InkGarden, Walmart, ect. They are always emailing you freebies! And if you don't like your email being bombarded with spam make a new email specifically for freebies (and sweepstakes if you're into that kind of thing ::wink::wink::)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traveling for Two Part 1: Airplane Travel

There is an age old question that parents frequently ask, especially around the holiday season. "How in the world do I travel with my child without completely pulling my hair out or leaving him/her on the side of the road?!" Thankfully, over the past 6.5 years I have traveled...well... A LOT. Therefore I have some tried and true methods of travel with baby/child that ensure that you will still have said child, and your wits, at the end of the trip.

This installment of Travelling for Two will be all about air travel. This is best done with only 1 child (or two if you have two adults). I can feel you cringing now. Long lines, security, close quarters, the whole bit. I get it... I really do. But this is actually one of my favorite ways to travel (minus the debilitating fear of crashing and dying in Lake Erie) and can go relatively smoothly if you follow some really simple advice.

1. Babywear- I really can't emphasize this enough. As soon as you get to the airport, whether it be at the curbside drop off or parking lot, strap that baby/toddler onto you and don't take them off! My favorite babywearing apparatus in the airport is a soft-structured carrier like a Boba or an Ergo. They are easy, distribute weight, and really comfortable. "But... but... the security person will make me take the baby out of the carrier and then put the carrier on the belt and then I have to carry the baby and blah blah blah" you exclaim. FALSE! There is a new TSA regulation that says that you do not have to take your baby out of the carrier... you simply need to have your hands swiped for explosives once you go through the fancy scanner.

2. Bring your infant seat with you- I use a convertible car seat in my car but I have an infant bucket seat for travel. I always, always bring the bucket seat with me. Do NOT check it at the front desk even if you didn't buy your baby a seat. Here is why: first of all, checking your car seat can be dangerous because they don't necessarily treat your items with love and respect. Also, if you did NOT buy baby a seat but the plane isn't full you can have the lady/guy at the gate change your seat to one with an unoccupied neighboring seat, then you can USE THE CAR SEAT for the flight! Tip for easily carrying the car seat through the airport: position the handle part not quite all the way down and not quite all the way up (there should be an in between setting) and then flip it over and hang it over the handle of your rolling carry-on.

3. Schedule your flight at the right time- this tip might work for some and backfire for others. It has always worked for me so I'll include it. If I know that I'm going to be bringing a child with me that likes to nap I schedule the flight for during nap time (or stupid early in the morning... like 6am). The reason being is that I can usually nurse the baby to sleep during take off, they sleep during the flight and then wake up refreshed and jovial upon landing. Which brings me to my next point...

4. Nurse/Feed baby on takeoff/landing- Most babies have a hard time equalizing the pressure of the elevation and often end up screaming bloody murder because they are in pain. Some people will say, give them a sucker, give them benedryl, ect. I beg of you: DO NOT DO THAT! Giving your child unnecessary sugar for a flight is not going to end well. Also, Benadryl has the opposite effect in children under 3 and will turn them into an extremely hyper mess of a human being. All a child needs to equalize pressure is light sucking motions in their mouth. Pacifiers, nursing, bottles, even a sippy cup for older kids will work wonders for them.

5. New toys/treats- If scheduling during nap time isn't an option or your kid just doesn't like to take naps I highly recommend new toys. If your kids are like mine you can probably liken their attention span to that of a fruit fly. Therefore, I would recommend buying enough new toys or a special treat for every 30 minutes that you will be on the plane. They do not need to be expensive in any way, just new and different. Go to the Dollar Tree (ya know, my favorite place) and pick up a couple things that would catch their attention.

If none of these tips help you, my last piece of advice is probably the best:

6. Try not to care- Babies cry. Children cry. Heck, even grown adults cry. Do the best you can with your baby and do not worry about the rest of the passengers. You will never see them again, you do not owe them anything. The more you stress about it, the more stressed the baby/child will become and that will just escalate the problem.

I hope this is helpful for you... happy flying!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Very Cheap-O Christmas: Part 1


Lets face it sometimes mass produced gift baskets can be chinsy, overdone and show little effort or forethought.  But a DIY gift basket can be just the opposite! When you make it yourself you have the ability to customize something that fits the recipient to a T and paints a picture of painstaking consideration and care.

When designing these baskets-o-love its very easy to go overboard (trust me I'm the queen of overboard) and spend way more money than originally budgeted. You walk down an isle full of pint sized goodies and very quickly fill your cart, all the while imagining this elaborate creation that will surely shock and amaze the person who you will bestow this gift upon. But I challenge you... ere on the side of minimal and thoughtful instead of elaborate and expensive because you do not need to spend a lot of money to let someone know that you care.

Case and point: I was invited to a very dear friends wedding a week and a half ago and knew that between a flight out to New Jersey as well as gas money, food money, and the like I just wasn't going to have the funds to get her some big beautiful gift, or even an envelope full of money. She understands our "financial strapped-ness" and therefore I felt comfortable giving her one of my DIY creations. So I started brainstorming, and thinking, and considering. In my opinion the kitchen is a central hub of a family. It is where conversations happen, where the morning starts, and relationships are made. Yes, I was going to focus on things for her new kitchen!

My main objective was to make sure that I could stay under $10 without anything looking cheap or overly DIY. Ultimately I decided to make two mugs (a his/hers situation), a hanging towel (flippin' love those things!), and a weekly menu planner. But Lordy! How was I going to stay under $10?? Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby here I come!!!! (Insert maniacal laugh...)

Here was my shopping list
Dollar Tree:
2 Mugs- $2
1 8x10 picture frame- $1
Kitchen Towel- $1
Sweet basket- $1

Hobby Lobby:
Pretty Printed Paper- $0.50 $0.24 (IT WAS ON SALE!!!!)

Things I had at home:
Extra fabric laying around
Black and red Sharpie markers

That's a total of $5.24! Now here's what I did with it.

Gathered my materials (pay no attention to the extra fabric and kitchen towel... I'm making one for myself too)

Drew lips/mustache and Mrs/Mr on each mug respectively... like sooooo
Baked for 30 minutes on 350 degrees

 Then gather my supplies for the menu planner: Picture frame, pretty printed paper and your computer. In a word document write "Menu" at the top and then "Monday" through "Friday" down the side of the document. Please make sure that you print it on plain paper first so that you make sure that the placement is right and then you can print it on your pretty paper. Then you just pop it into your picture frame and your end result should look something like this:
Finally you are going to gather your materials for your hanging towel. If you know anything about sewing a sing straight line this should be pretty easy for you. You could even hand sew it. Either way there is a great tutorial and pattern to show you exactly what to do. I didn't have a button so I decided to use a snap. You could do a sew on snap, I did a press on snap. Here is mine "pre-snap":
Then you just neatly place it all in the basket and stick a card in there. (This is my quick placement... I later fixed it so that it was more organized but I just didn't get a chance to take a picture of it.)
You will also want to include a dry-erase marker for the menu planner but that should NOT cost you more than $1 if you have any frugal skills what-so-ever.
Voila! This gift could be given to a newly married couple for their first Christmas, but really could go to ANYONE as long as you customize the paper what you write on the mugs. The possibilities are endless!
Stay tuned for more Cheap-O Christmas crafts and ideas!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Very Cheap-o Christmas

There is a commonly expressed misconception that I hear all the time when people find out how many kids I have. It goes something like this, "How many kids do you have?" I answer, "I have 4." They respond, "Whoa! You're Christmas' must be really really expensive!" I'll briefly address my problem with this notion that our children need to get 81575642 gifts at Christmas and we need to break the bank to get the biggest and the best. What happened to quality instead of quantity? What happened to teaching appreciation instead of entitlement? What happened to the TRUE meaning of the season??? End rant, back to the topic at hand. In answer to the question: "is your Christmas really expensive?" I exclaim, "NAY!" (ok maybe I don't yell "nay" in the middle of the check out line at Jewel but you know what I mean.)

So why is Christmas not that expensive for me when I have so many people to buy for (because lets face it, its not just the kids. Its grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles too)? The answer is simple: DIY. I have found that the best way to save money, and really the most heartfelt gifts are DIY gifts. So for the next several weeks until the week before Christmas I will be posting some of my crafty Christmas creations. 

Just a couple things to consider when you go to make your Christmas DIY list:

1. Consider the recipient- You can find the cutest, easiest, most inexpensive beer mug makeover tutorial, but if the person you are giving it to doesn't drink beer it won't mean diddly. 

2. Consider the budget- The worst mistake you can make is to set a budget and then not stick to it. Trust me, I know this is hard. I am the person who walks into the Dollar Store for 3 items and ends up spending $20! 

3. Remember... QUALITY not QUANTITY- Focus on only making a couple of crafts per person. The more you make, the more you end up rushing, and the less cute/crafty/legit the item will look. 

4. Some things are better left un-crafted- Please, PLEASE, I admonish you. No-one needs a hand crocheted bikini, a coaster set of pictures of your dead pet, or pe**s shaped soap.

I would absolutely love for you to share your DIY Christmas ideas! I'm always on the hunt for inspiration! Also, be on the look out for my first DIY Christmas project this year! I'm working on it now and its PREEEETTTTY fantastical!