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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

Can you guys believe Halloween’s less than a week away?! The fact that it’s on a Saturday this year makes it super fun, but also offers a chance for boredom to creep in. I mean, how does one actually celebrate Halloween when it’s not on a school/work day? (Maybe, as an educator, I’m just used to seeing what we do during the holiday with the kiddos at school.)

Here’s how we plan to do it up. I foresee a creepy breakfast of some sort (pancakes with strawberry “blood” or made purple with crushed blueberries, maybe?), a trip to our favorite farmers’ market, a spooky-but-healthy lunch (to make up for the inevitable junk food), fingers crossed for a long nap and early dinner, fun craft, then getting dressed up for trick or treating! Since our guy’s only 3, we’ll head back early for some popcorn and our traditional Charlie Brown viewing. Bam. Bedtime.

Sure, if one or two of those things goes by the wayside, it’s no big deal. But, I’ve found tons of SUPER simple, can-be-done-very-last-minute craft projects that I’m hoping to choose from. Maybe your family will like trying out one or two, as well!
Okay, I’ve heard of apple stamping before, but to make PUMPKINS…out of APPLES…is genius.

Cotton Ball Ghosts
Cotton balls + a ghost cut-out & face + glue = super simple ghost buddy.
Add some string to make it into decor.
Considering Hadley’s being a ghost, this one’s all sorts of awesome.


Spooky Hanging Ghosts

Got white coffee filters? You’re all set for this one!
In our house, toilet paper tubes are called “doot-dee-doos” and these ones are beautifully imperfect!
I love when you can tell that little hands had a part in making the craft, don’t you? There are some on the interwebs with perfectly placed wrappings, but this one’s awesome.
Got an early scissors user? (We do!)
This is a cute, simple way to “sharpen” those skills AND make a fun little project.
Paint Chip Halloween
Paint chips are just darn awesome…and FREE!
Plus, all you need to do is cut out shapes and let your little one glue them on.
Super cute and super simple.
See anything you’d like to do with your family?
Or do you have something else you’re planning on doing to celebrate this Halloween? We can’t wait to hear!

babywearing or stroller

There are so many ways to travel with your newborn, it’s crazy town! Strollers and baby carriers of all shapes, sizes and styles. Researching it all can almost get as in-depth as researching cloth diapers. Almost. 😉

With our first son, we went the traditional route: a collapsible stroller. I tried a structured carrier a few times early on but it never quite stuck; kind of like our first attempts at cloth diapering. I just wasn’t as committed as I’d have liked. So, over the years we’ve used the same kind-of-clunky single stroller. It has served us well, but has seen its day.

Now, with a second on the way and a still-doesn’t-quite-listen 3-year-old, I’ve looked into all the options. I still have a wrap and a structured carrier, so especially having an older kiddo to chase around, I’m actually quite motivated and excited to give these a solid try this time.

However, knowing that we’re in need of a new stroller, I also decided to research the option of a double stroller. I was going to ask everyone here in this community what their thoughts are with regards to these (particularly, the non-side-by-side style, which seems way too wide), but since we haven’t really “allowed” anyone to buy anything new for this little one, we took some family members up on their offer to get a new stroller (and other relatives who offered to get a new coordinating car seat – talk about generous!).

We went with a 13-position sit-and-stand model which will hopefully help with those times that we need to contain both munchkins – I mean you, farmers’ market trips – and motivate me to get out for walks with the littles more often when the weather warms up again! One can dream, right?

I like to think there are pluses to both methods of baby-wrangling, or else I wouldn’t have gone with them both. My biggest positives for babywearing are the bonding and the hands-free awesomeness. The stroller eases my mind that our older son isn’t running off while my husband or I are tending to the baby and will hopefully help with bigger trips – I still remember being stroller-less at an amusement park on a super hot day last summer kicking myself at how exhausted the little guy looked. (He’s literally a very tall, big-for-his-age boy, so he’s never been much into being held and snuggled. Insert bummed mama face here.)

I’d love to hear what you guys think, though.

What’s your favorite method? A stroller? Jogging stroller? Umbrella? Double? What about babywearing?

What’s your favorite way to get out-and-about with your little one? I know every mama’s experience is super personal, so there’s no judging either way here – as always!

Before you know it, that creepy, spooky, super fun day will be upon us again! I’m not the biggest Halloween fan, but I do totally get it as far as the fun factor for kiddos is concerned. A day to play dress-up, socialize with neighbors (our super social 3-year-old LOVES talking to our neighbors…”stranger danger” is a work in progress), AND get treats? Why the heck not? Plus, the fact that my husband and I are involved in community theatre, the idea of creating a costume and putting on fun personas gets us excited.

We go the route of “use whatchya got” and “repurpose as much as possible” in our household. Since we try to live a pretty eco-friendly life, buying a one-time use costume seems like a waste of money and resources. (If you know your little one will get a lot of use out of that costume in their dress-up box, though, go for it!) Today, I’m sharing some of my tips for putting together a great DIY costume for little money, time, and waste!

halloween tips

Tip #1: Ask for your child’s input first. This isn’t possible with the wee ones (yay, Mommy and Daddy get cart blanche!), but it’s best to get their opinion. We’ve actually asked our three-year-old for months what he’d like to be. Not too surprisingly, it hasn’t really changed: he wants to be an old-school ghost. Not too creative, but he’s excited about shouting “BOO!” and thinking that he’s actually scaring people.

If you know they’ve repeatedly said the same costume idea over and over, that’s what you’re aiming for. If they’ve changed their mind a million times, ask them for a final say, once and for all. And, don’t be afraid to combine ideas that they can’t seem to decide between. Who doesn’t love a cool, creative idea like a princess clown? This is their time to be heard.

Tip #2: Find some inspiration.
Just because you’re putting together a DIY costume doesn’t mean it needs to look shoddy. (Although, there’s nothing wrong with looking “homemade”!) I like to take a quick spin around Pinterest to see what ideas they have that may make the process easier. Seriously, knowing that a traditional “sheet” ghost costume will equate to lots of tripping up and down stairs and possible lack of vision, I was hoping they’d have some better ideas for me. And, guess what! My son’s costume DOESN’T have to be a safety hazard. Whodathunk?

Layer white tulle over a long white shirt - smart! And a plain black mask to still get the ghost look without having a sheet over your kids' head. Craft, Interrupted: BOO! A Homemade Ghost Costume.:

Plus, this gives you a chance to show your little ghoul an image of what their costume may look like. It definitely takes the “I didn’t WANT it to look like THAT!!!” bickering to a minimum when the big day rolls around.

Tip #3: Break it down. Analyze the costume. Sometimes it’s just a simple, one-piece affair. Other times, there are several components to put together. Figure out whether or not you already have the items on-hand (whether in your child’s wardrobe, your OWN wardrobe, or your dress-up box, if you have one). In our ghostly case, I’d like a black mask, a white cap (isn’t that stinkin’ adorable?!), some white layers, and black pants (or striped tights) and shoes. I try to take into account the fact that our weather can range from darn-near-snowing to just-need-a-light-jacket, so the more layers, the better.

As far as what we have on-hand, we really only have the black sweatpants that would work fine (although I’ve also found the striped tights on sale, so it’ll probably be a down-to-the-wire weather decision), but the rest of the stuff I’ll need to figure out. No big! We’ve got this.

Tip #4: What can serve double-duty? Anytime we buy anything, especially kid-related, we ask ourselves if it’s a one- or multi-purpose item. In this case, I’d rather not use Thomas the Train sneakers to go with a ghost costume (we’re nothing if not thorough in our theatre-loving family). So, since I like to have two comfy pairs of sneakers around, anyway, I’ll use the excuse to find some cheap black sneakers on sale.

I also know that a homemade felt black mask will get TONS of use in our dress-up box beyond its ghostly purpose, so I’m excited to put that together. The white hat will also find its way into the box, so the only thing that might not be multi-purpose will be the layers of white. But, then again, you never know what the little guy’s imagination may come up with!

Tip #5: Keep it thrifty!
Next, it’s time to hit up our local thrift shop! For us, that means Salvation Army and Goodwill. You could also put out a sweetly-worded request for the items out for your friends on Facebook; you never know what another family already has sitting around and can loan your way. Some of my favorite costumes as a child came from a family friend whose kids had gorgeous hand-sewn costumes in their dress-up box! (Hello, Laura Ingalls Wilder!)

When I hit up a thrift store for this costume, I’m looking for WHITE and, hopefully, over-sized. So, of course this means checking out the adult sections for a white shirt or sweatshirt to cut down to size. I also check out the rest of the store just in case I find something in, say, the bedding area (a sheet, curtain, or pillowcase, perhaps) that might help the costume out.

Tip #6: Sew simple. In my case, I lucked out and found a ladies’ long-sleeved white t-shirt that I’ll hem the arms. It’s not long enough to go past his knees, but I’m thinking a white pillowcase (with arm and head holes cut in) will work great. If I feel like grabbing gauze, I will, but it’s not a “must”. So, all the sewing I’ll be doing is the arms (unless I cut them at a zig-zag and call it a day), and the rest is just cutting. Don’t worry if you’ve never sewn before; Halloween costumes are GREAT practice, and often you can even get away with using a fabric glue or iron-on fabric tape to adhere things.


Tip #7: It’s not about perfection. Actually, that felt-and-glue route is exactly what I did last year. See the little guy’s not-puffy-enough apple costume (which he had requested for months)? He didn’t care a bit that it hardly resembled an apple; he loved it. I used markers on felt to draw a cute worm and “organic apple” sticker (we’re cheeky like that), threw on a gifted knitted apple hat, his green corduroys, and used a 50-cent bushel basket (which I now use for decorating around the house) for candy collecting, and he was happy as a clam.

And, in the final analysis, isn’t that what matters? A fun time with a fun, doesn’t-have-to-be-perfect costume? We think so.

What are your kiddos going as for Halloween this year? Are you going the store-bought route (no shame in it!) or handmade? I can’t wait to hear those ideas!


The name you choose for your little bundle of joy is kind of a big deal, right? There are so many factors to consider when trying to make the right choice. What’s it mean? Does it go with your last name? Does it hold sentimental significance? Is it too weird? Is it too common? Will it suit them for the REST OF THEIR LIFE?! How many syllables? (Seriously, some people find this terribly important.) Does it go with their sibling’s names?

Some of these factors, people don’t find to be very important. Others hold more clout. Then, there are those times when you and your significant other don’t necessarily agree — not just on the names, but the “why”s behind the names.

Our first son’s name is “Hadley Allston” (Allston is my deceased father’s middle name that goes way back). We pretty much adore his name as much as we adore him. Since we didn’t find out his gender beforehand, we went into the hospital with a handful of names for both a female and male, plus a couple of possible middle names. It may have driven our families nuts (and, in this case, definitely caused an eyebrow raise or two), but we kept them all pretty much locked up tight in advance. When the little (big, 10+ pounder) guy was born, all the other names flew out of our brains. His face just emanated “Hadley.” We feel we nailed it, head-on, with his name.

Even those who were doubtful upon hearing his name on Day #1 have come to say, “No, he’s a Hadley. He just is. No other name suits him.” It’s a general consensus. Thank God and whew. Not that it matters that family and friends deem it an acceptable name; it just helps. We still get strangers who respond, “Uuuummm…okay.” But, who cares? 😉

The fact that we feel “Hadley” hit it out of the ballpark puts the pressure on for Baby #2. We haven’t pored over the baby name book quite as thoroughly (we actually did the activities in the book our first time; this time, we’re just perusing the name dictionary part), and while I’m not feeling a huge sense of urgency about tightening up our current list, my husband totally is.

Our challenges? I look at everything. If the name has a meaning that’s really cool (or, at the very least, doesn’t mean “steaming pile of feces in the yard”…you get the gist), I’m more apt to be on board for it. Same goes for origin: since I have an ancestry with Welsh/Irish/English roots, I gravitate in that direction. If it’s got too many syllables or doesn’t sound good with our kind of unusual last name, I’m out. Add to that the fact that I’m an educator, and it cuts our list down tremendously.

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t think any of those things is really important. He doesn’t care as far as ancestry is concerned (he likes to say he just feels “American”). He seems to have more of an organic way of picking ones that just sound good to him. And I can respect that. I just feel awful when he mentions one and I immediately shoot it down: “I have three of those in kindergarten as we speak.”

So, our criteria, at present?

– Not too common, but not too “out there.”

– Not a name I’ve taught before. (Or, at the very least, only once and they have to have been a good kid. I’m weird.)

– Should have at least a good flow with our last name. (There’s one my husband LOVES, but I just don’t think it sounds good with our surname. Just doesn’t.)

– If it could be slightly Anglo, that’d be great. (My husband has even taken to saying, “Hey, nudge nudge, this one’s even Irish!” He knows my soft spot, what can I say?)

– Compliment “Hadley.” (Not rhyme, or necessarily start with the same letter, but be in a similar “family”, if that makes any sense at all.)

So, the list-making continues. Our fingers are crossed that, come November, this baby’s face will do exactly what his/her big brother’s did: sneak us the answer.

Did you guys have much trouble naming any of your children? What criteria was super important to you? Did you use any cool books or tools to help you figure it out?

While autumn is our family’s favorite season (we even got married in October because of it), my favorite times of the year are actually the transitions between them. There’s something rejuvenating and exciting about the change from one season to the next. When it comes to summer into fall, it’s the spark of magic as summer breathes its last breaths of warmth and sunshine as the leaves slowly take their opportunity to change into their earthy autumn tones. The sight of pumpkins and mums bursting with color and smell of sweet decaying leaves is great for resetting your attitude, too.

Strangely enough, when the earth goes about its quarterly shifts, our family tends to see our biggest transitions, too. I’ve mentioned that we’re expecting our second little one in November and recently told you all about our son’s change to a “big boy bed.” Throw on (hopefully) the completion of potty-training (I know we’ll have accidents, so I use “completion” very loosely), my heading back to my work at school with more duties than ever, and just the general aches, pains, and exhaustion that comes with pregnancy…and you can say that our family’s experienced plenty of transitions and adjustments!

So far, though, we’ve made preparations for all these transitions. Things have been pretty casual. But, now that we’re seeing the word “OCTOBER” coming at the end of the week, our heads are getting a bit scattered. We’ve definitely gotta pick up the pace so that it’ll be a more relaxed jaunt towards the finish-line come November!      

We try to live a simplified life, so when stress hits hard, it’s best to take a deep breath, relax, and follow a few of my own tried-and-true tips.


Write it Out – First and foremost, a list can be your BFF. I know some people have a love-hate relationship with them (and I, for one, used to mock my mother for hers; seriously, she was obsessed, but now I totally get it). But they can really help you breathe and feel like you won’t forget something at the end of the day. In other words, you totally won’t have those wake-up-at-3am-with-worries moments. Ahhhh.

So, there are times when I’ll write out one long list only to re-write the whole thing. The reason for this? The first list is a total brain dump. It’s just there to get out whatever worrisome tasks I may have floating around in my brain. Then, I’ll organize that list into general areas: stuff that needs to be done in the nursery, important work tasks that must be figured out before I leave the joint, around-the-house chores, and so on. For some reason, seeing it separated and organized in this way helps me feel a little more on top of things. 

Purge – Okay, I’ve talked a lot about purging STUFF, and, sure, with less to surround yourself, you’ll definitely feel calmer. (Heck, it’s one big thing on my to-do list at the moment.) But, in this case, I’m actually talking about purging your to-do’s.

In my case, I’m analyzing, truthfully, what NEEDS to be done before the baby comes. There’s not a lot as far as the baby is concerned, quite honestly, and that’s the main thing. Then, when creating the aforementioned to-do list, I’m figuring out what else I’d LIKE to get done. See? Two totally different beasts. Then, among the things I’d LIKE to get done, I ask my husband and those friends and family who have been offering assistance if they’d like to help out with a task or two. Whatever I’m left with, I’ll pick ones that I wouldn’t mind (or, gasp, would actually ENJOY) doing and leave the rest. Let’s call it donating. Sure. We’re donating the rest of our to-do list. 😉

Bye-bye, unnecessary stuff. Hello, feeling of accomplishing the important stuff.

Take Your Time – Now that you’ve figured out what needs to be done (and, truly, what doesn’t need to be done), set timelines for yourself to achieve them. Knowing there’s a flexible end in sight (read: we all know some of those projects that we expect to take 15 minutes can end up lasting three weekends, so allow for some leeway) helps to further alleviate that nagging feeling.

My husband and I both tend to have issues with this tip, fitting far too much in our mental schedules for a rare free Saturday and being disappointed when not everything gets checked off my list. But, it’s okay! Think about what can realistically be done (while accounting for things like, say, meal prep and toddler potty breaks) and jot down, for the whole family to see, what the goals are for the day. Then, put an asterisk next to the couple that you’d be happy getting DONE. If you have extra time in the day to get the others done, great. If not, figure out another time for them to fit.

And remember NOT to beat yourselves up about not being able to accomplish every single task. Relish the tasks you were able to get done and let the others roll off your back, knowing they WILL get done — just not today!

Don’t Forget Some Happy Time – When things are transitioning, it’s so easy to get caught up in the less fun side of the to-do list. It’s totally understandable; there are things that need to get done and only so much time to do them. But, don’t forget to manage the mental health of you and your family. No matter how busy or stressful times may get, there’s nothing like a little downtime as a family to reconnect and remember what matters most.

In our case, this can range from having one-on-one play time with our little guy to instituting a “tech free night” with my husband to enjoy a movie and homemade popcorn or completely normal, adult conversation. Even getting a pizza with my parents can have the ability to pull us out of the whirlwind of planning, prepping, packing, etc. Yup, strangely enough, my husband is actually most relaxed at my parents’ house, and our son loves any place with a large enough yard to run around or bird feeders to help fill. You just have to find what works for YOUR family.

I’ve even taken to working on a Sudoku puzzle at the end of the day to try to clear my head. It helps SO much, it’s nuts.

Do you have any transitions happening in your life, whether happy or sad? A big move? A new job? A wedding? A new baby? How are you handling the stresses that inevitably come along with these times? Any tips to share with us?