4 Things You Need to Know Before Painting

Painting Tips

I was so excited to finally get the ball rolling on making our house truly ours. We'd lived in our home for about 18 months and the people who lived in the house before us picked some treacherous (and very dark) paint colors. The living room was the first room we ever painted in our home and I definitely learned a lot of lessons from that experience, which I’m sharing with you!

Remove the Trim

Any seasoned painter (or anyone who listens when their husband says we need to take off the trim) knows that you need to remove all the trim in the room before painting. Even if that trim is going to be painted the same color as either the base/primer color or the other color.

It's easier to paint it separately. Trust me! It can't be any more difficult than the way we did it. Plus, the wall under the trim will get painted properly this way, too.

So, if in the future, you want to update your trim (which I do) you won't have to worry about the possibility have needing to paint again. I'm still not sure why my husband listened to me when I told him we didn't need to take off the trim. I secretly think he was waiting to soak up that "I told you so" moment.

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Paint

Use the Wider Painter's Tape

We used the Duck Brand 1" Clean Release Painter's Tape. I actually bought a three pack from Wal Mart. The tape worked great! However, I should have known better than to think that the smaller tape would be enough to wholly protect everything.

Based on my experiences, you’re better off buying the wider tape! I'll definitely be using the 1" tape in the boys room for some detailing work I'll need to do. As far as protecting the ceiling and any trim/molding I can't remove, I'll be using the wider tape. I also plan on taping down a plastic sheet on the floor with the wide tape, which brings me to my next tip.

Protect the Floor and Do It Well

We had a tarp in our garage that was left by the previous inhabitants of this house. I was sure it'd be a great way to protect our wood floors during painting. However, I didn't tape it down or anything and it was really no help at all since it didn't cover the whole floor.

If there was only one person painting, that would be okay. However, typically there was my husband and me or my husband and a helper. So, paint drips happened. Oh, and my cat decided to jump onto a freshly painted window sill and then prance across the living room floor. Probably some new age way of marking his territory, I guess.

Anyway, next time I want to buy plastic sheeting or a drop cloth and secure it to the floor. However, eHow has some other suggestions, so I might look into those too.

Buy Extra Paint

Unless you've painted a particular room a time or two before, chances are that you're guesstimating how much paint it will take. Well, this guesstimating left me having to do two extra trips to buy paint for our living room.

My advice is to think about how much paint you'll need and buy at least one extra can. You don't want to get down to the last wall you need to paint and be fully motivated to do so, only to realize you're out of paint.

Some stores will let you return or exchange unopened paint, so you can check on that if you're worried. Personally, I don't think it's a terrible idea to have extra paint lying around.

Before & After

Before and After Painting the Living Room

The lighting is horrible in the before picture, but you should be able to see what an ugly pea-green the room was! I know it looks very minimalistic right now, but I was trying to avoid shoving crap back into the room that I don't want in there long term.

Of course, much of that crap has now accumulated in the extra space in the dining room. Anyway, I'm super happy with how it turned out. It's so much brighter. I can't wait to get new curtains (and furniture and other stuff, but I'm getting ahead of myself there). So, it's not designer living, but it’s definitely an improvement!

That collage is, once again, from The Coffee Shop Blog!

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4 Things You Need to Know Before Painting

7 Days to a Deep Cleaned House with Printable Checklist


Just before I delivered surro baby, I was agonizing over my dirty house.  After all, I was about to have my first c-section ever and was probably not going to be able to do anything at all for a while after, right?  Well, that turned out to be a little bit of an extreme assumption on my part, but nonetheless, it’s what I believed.

<< Just want to skip to the printable?  Click here! >>

So, as a push present to myself I created a deep clean list check list and paid someone—AKA my mom—to come clean my house while I was at the hospital delivering.  I’d never done this before but I remembered from delivering my own kids dreading going home to a potentially dismantled house from the days I’d spent at the hospital.

I kept this checklist for myself and am currently working through it to deep clean the house after several weeks of my kids and husband being home for Christmas break/shutdown.  The chaotic holiday break left the house dismantled and I’m always more relaxed and happy when the house is organized and clean.

Related Post: Organize Your Shower with a Shoe Organizer

To get your house deep cleaned in 7 days or less, work through at least one section of the checklist a day.

I like to start by going through the house and doing general pick up of clothes, trash, toys, dishes and clutter.  I sometimes take the time to sweep the entire downstairs—we have all wood flooring—at this point, too.

After that, I go room by room and complete the check list.  If you have other stuff to add, I’ve included some blank lines at the end.

Deep Clean Printable

If you’re exceptionally motivated, with plenty of “spare” time, and the kids will be gone basically all day…you might be able to complete this awesome checklist in one day!  If you’re super lucky, you can’t just hire someone to clean your house for you and have them use this list for reference.

You might also notice that there’s a reference to laundry in every section.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate the reminder to change over the laundry or the do laundry in every room.  Otherwise, I might just forget about the laundry while I’m cleaning the house and don’t remember until bed time that I didn’t even get one load washed, dried, and put away.

Happy house cleaning!  What tools do you use to help stay organized and get your home clean?

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deep clean printable list

5 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Surrogate

Things to Know Before Being a Surrogate

Becoming a surrogate is a huge responsibility, whether you’re a traditional or gestational surrogate.  It might be easy enough to assume you’re “informed” after researching surrogacy and understanding the basic process. 

However, there’s actually an overwhelming amount of things that could potentially be overlooked altogether or disregarded as not important if potential surrogates aren’t looking in the right places.  I’ve put together five things potential surrogates should know before committing to a journey.

1. Surrogacy can be a long process.

Sometimes surrogates are surprised at the length of time from finding the perfect intended parents to the birth of a baby.  Patience is important and you, honestly, don’t want anything in this process to be rushed. 

Every part of the surrogacy process is a process in itself and might take weeks or months or longer.  Some surrogates have reported their journey taking 2 years or more from start to finish.  Statistically speaking, the first transfer isn’t likely to take.  It can, of course, but be prepared that it might take more than one shot to get pregnant.  Be ready for the reality that this might not be quick.

Surrogacy Time

2. Surrogacy might have an upfront financial cost.

Surrogacy related expenses should all be reimbursed to you, of course, but the key word here is “reimbursed.”  Some expenses cannot or are not paid ahead of time or up front by intended parents or surrogacy agencies.  Rental cars, for example, have to be put on your credit card and then reimbursed later.

Sometimes it’s because of policies companies have—such as the case with rental cars—or because costs are often variable and intended parents should only have to reimburse you exactly what you needed.  This might not be the case with every journey, but it’s better to be prepared to cover these costs with your own cash or credit and then be reimbursed.

If you’re not in a financial place to do that, then you might not be financially secure enough to be a surrogate, anyway.  If you’re hesitant to cover costs up front and be reimbursed, you could avoid some of those issues by matching with local intended parents.

3. Surrogacy has real health risks.

Whether you realized it or not, even your pregnancies for your keeper babies had risks. Pregnancy causes major body changes, and potential surrogates shouldn’t take this lightly, even if they’ve had easy, relatively uncomplicated pregnancies in the past.

Prior pregnancy ease or success does not guarantee a smooth surrogate pregnancy!

Prospective surrogates should consider that there are risks up to and including death.  Thinking “it won’t happen to me” is a great way to be unprepared if it does, indeed, happen to you.  This is why you should have appropriate plans in place for possible bed rest, hospitalization, and even death.

Pregnancy Risks

4. This is not a way to get rich quick.

This shouldn’t have to be stated, but I’m going to put it out there anyway.  It’s not a get rich quick—or at all—deal.  If that’s what you’re after then, please, leave now.  This is a long, often difficult, process for intended parents and surrogates.  It’s an emotional and physical investment and there’s even a chance that your journey will end without you ever giving the intended parents the baby they wanted.

It could be months or longer before you ever receive any compensation.  You may need to pay for some expenses up front before being reimbursed.  Basically, you need to be financially stable.

5. You may not end up being friends with the intended parents after birth.

Many surrogates and intended parents go into the journey planning to be friends and keep in touch afterward.  However, relationships between surrogates and intended parents can change for a variety of reasons.  Be prepared for that because unfortunately not everyone finishes their journey feeling like best buds.

For whatever reason, your relationship may not be ideal and you might not see the baby after birth or after the parents and baby leave the hospital.  Even under good circumstances, you may lose touch or simply not be all that close with the baby and intended parents.

It’s irresponsible to be a surrogate without being informed.  Your team of people can only be expected to do so much.  It’s important to take responsibility and research surrogacy thoroughly before entering into any kind of legal agreement.

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5 Things You Need to Know Before

Ten Toddler Approved Chores

Toddler Approved Household Chores
As moms we’re good at taking full responsibility for everything—ourselves, our children, our spouse, our home…everything.  I know I find myself feeling overwhelmed at times because I have 5 million things that I think I need to do. 

When I get to this point, I often realize that I’m the one putting all of that on me.  I’m not asking for help when I need it.  I’m not giving myself any grace.  I’m not expecting my family to do things for themselves.

And I’m suffering because of it.

I won’t lie and say that I never feel overwhelmed anymore or that I don’t still mom guilt myself and when I try—and fail—to do everything.  However, I’m making a conscious effort to not hold myself responsible for everybody’s everything.  I’m working on remembering that my family has responsibilities, too, and needs to be held accountable.  It’s helped tremendously.

I know we moms want to do everything for our children, and sometimes we even feel guilty for expecting them to do things.  Or remember that sadness—and pride—you felt and still feel with every shred of independence they acquire?

Well, eventually our precious little angels will need to be self sufficient adults.  I, for one, do not want to do my 25 year-old’s laundry or grocery shopping.

Children can start doing chores and helping out right around the time they start walking.  Starting them young makes it the norm, instead of surprise! you’re thirteen and now I expect you to do all these things I never taught you to do.

When our kids are younger, they even enjoy chores.  Part of this is because they get to be involved with something you’re doing.  So, no, you probably won’t be able to expect your toddler or preschooler to handle most chores on their own.  And, no, it might be as fast as if you just do it yourself.  However, those days will come.

Lay the foundation.  Include even our youngest kids.  Let them know they’re needed and an important part of the family unit, too.  Everyone can contribute and feel proud!  Show your appreciation, thanks, and pride.  Your toddlers will appreciate it.

1. Dishes

Toddlers can help with dishes, but be warned that they really enjoy playing in the water, if you’re a dishwasher-less house, like mine.
  • Load/unload dishwasher
  • Put away dishes
  • Help with rinsing dishes
  • Sorting dishes
Responsibility Kids Quote

2. Laundry

My two year-old loves helping with laundry almost as much as much as she likes playing in the dryer.  Thanks to his early involvement in laundry, my 10 year-old can do the whole laundry routine without me and has been able to for a few years now.
  • Help empty dryer
  • Help load washer
  • Help transfer clothes from washer to dryer
  • Close lids/doors of appliances
  • Pour laundry detergent in
  • Push buttons to start laundry

3. Feeding Pets

Feeding our pets is pretty much the full responsibilty of the kids at my house, with some prompts from mom and dad, occasionally.
  • Pinch of food for fish
  • Scoop dog/cat food into bowl
  • Feed treats to dog

4. Training Pets

If you don’t mind your dog responding to commands from your children, they love being involved in dog training and reinforcement.
  • Helps give commands
  • Helps give rewards/treats when dog follows commands

5. Clean Their Room

This is one of the earliest tasks kids can easily be involved in, and I think it’s really important for them to take care of their own things/space.
  • Pick up their toys
  • Put their laundry in hamper
  • Throw away dirty disposable diapers

6. Wipe Up Spills

I fully encourage and insist that my kids, including my 2 year-old, clean up after themselves.
  • Wipe up spilled liquids
  • Pick up dropped food
Related Post: Kid Approved Jokes

7. Set and/or Clear the Table

If you’re a family who sets the table, you can get your kids involved in that and after dinner clean up, too.
  • Help set table
  • Clear dirty dishes from table
  • Put own dishes in sink/dishwasher
  • Throw away disposable plates/cups
  • Dispose of uneaten food

8. Hand Vacuum

I know some kids are afraid of vacuums but mine love to vacuum and a hand/mini vacuum is the perfect size for children!
  • Vacuum furniture
  • Vacuum crumbs off the floor
  • Vacuum staircase

9. Water Plants

Maybe your kids will have a green thumb.

10. Help Bring In/Put Away Groceries

Depending on their size, age, and maturity, your toddler can help with various grocery tasks.
  • Put away groceries
  • Help carry in lighter groceries
What chores does your toddler or older child do? What age do you start including your kids in household responsibilities?
10 Toddler Approved Chores

3 Cool Products You’ve Never Heard of for Lactating Moms

Products Lactating Moms

We’ve all had that experience where we come across some really cool product but only after it’s useful to us.  That happens to me all the time with kid and baby products, such as when I discovered the Kiinde breast milk storage system!  Lucky me, I keep getting new nieces and nephews so I can buy those things as gifts for them, instead.

Whether you’re breastfeeding or exclusively pumping, there are some really awesome products out there!  Unfortunately, many of them aren’t widely advertised or sold.  I know I’m on my third lactating experience and I’m still finding new products to make it easier/better. 

Related Post: Where to Donate or Sell Breast Milk

So, fear not, you don’t have to wish someone told you about that cool, unique product.  I’m going to do just that right now!

1. Freemies—Pump on the Go

Freemies—Pump on the GoFreemie Collection Cups The Only Hands Free and Concealable Breast Pump Milk Collection System

Freemies are a unique breast milk collection system.  They are hands free and concealable.  The cups go in your bra and the system is set up to work with a variety of breast pumps and can be hacked to work with others.  Some women have reported trouble maintaining supply with the Freemies or taking longer to empty, while others just can’t stop raving about how they’re the best product they ever found!

2. Haakaa—An Improved Hand Pump Design

Haakaa—An Improved Hand Pump DesignHaakaa manual breast pump

The Haakaa is a manual breast pump, by definition, but really it’s something different.  You squeeze the body of the Haakaa to form suction on your breast.  You can choose to ‘pump’ it if you want, but I think the Haakaa is ingenious for other reasons. 

Because of the suction many women have had success with using the Haakaa to suction to their breast and catch milk from one breast while nursing from the other.  Also, pumpers have utilized the Haakaa lying down and in bed.  Don’t try the knock offs.  They don’t compare to this awesome device and aren’t worth the minimal money saved.

3. Milkies Milk-Saver—Wearable Breast Milk Catchers

Milkies Milk Saver

The Milkies Milk-Saver is a unique way to avoid wasting or losing breast milk, because we all know every drop counts.  You wear the Milk-Saver and it collects any milk you have from leakage.  It can be used on one breast while you’re nursing on the other or you might even buy two of these bad boys to wear when you might be going a little extra time between pumping.  Although they claim to be discreet, the general consensus is that they’re a little bulky for continuous wear.

Have you tried any of these products?  Do you know of some other super cool, not mainstream product you wish everyone knew about?  Tell me in the comments below!

Cool Products for Breastfeeding