Monday, September 26, 2016

Baby Jimmy: 10-month update.

He answers to "Bob", "Jimmo", "Jim Bob", "Jimmy", and "Jameson". How and why our baby boy has so many nick-names... I have no idea.

Jimmy, 10 months old.

Baby Jimmy is now 10 months old, and is quite the opposite of his big sister. He is rough, has absolutely no fear of heights, and is such a spaz. He started crawling last month, and for the last couple weeks he's been trying to stand up on his own. He gets up on his hands and feet, then gets into a sumo squat, and can balance in that squat, hands-free. When he tries to stand up, he just falls back on his butt. Jimmy's big sister Linna didn't even start crawling until she was almost 10 months old, and didn't take her first steps until she was almost 16 months old. I have a feeling that Jimmy will be walking before he turns one.

Siblings: Linna and Jimmy.

Air show and pancake breakfast in Mankato.

Jimmy absolutely loves his big sister, but the "novelty" of having a baby brother has worn off a bit for Linna. Linna recently started carrying Jimmy around the house, which made my stomach turn when she first did it, but she is so cautious of Jimmy when he's near a staircase or something that could hurt him. No matter what Linna does, Jimmy finds it hilarious.

Jimmy is not a fan, however, of loud noises. From the sounds of vacuums, to dogs barking, Jimmy's eyes become the size of saucers and he starts shaking from fear. If Jimmy is home when I need to vacuum, I have to hold him while trying to clean. If our neighbor's dog barks, he can't crawl to me fast enough for a cuddle. We're trying to break his fear by making loud noises in the house often, and making it a positive experience. I think he might have super sensitive hearing, because the kid can hear everything. He does, however, love when his Papa says "Jim Bob Tor-TON!" in a loud baseball announcer voice. I don't remember when of how it started, but Papa Saigh loves calling Jimmy "Jim-Bob Torton".

(Jimmy vs. a popcorn bag. Such a spaz.)

(Jimmy says "ball".)

When it comes to food, Jimmy is eating just about everything. Although some days he's pickier than others, he loves raspberries, hotdogs, frozen peas, smoothies (avocado, whole plain yogurt, banana, and orange juice), and Lara Bars. He is also a very good sleeper, which is something he has in common with his sister. Both of our kids are in bed by 6/6:30 p.m. every night, and they sleep until 6:30 a.m. Jimmy takes a morning and afternoon nap every day, and each average about 1.5 to 2 hours. He makes it very obvious when he's tired, because it's just about the only time he cries (although he does whine alot). He has an 8 oz. bottle before his morning nap, an 8 oz. bottle before his afternoon nap, and an 8 oz. bottle before bed. He's drinking formula, as well as whole milk (pediatrician approved), and he's a pro at slamming water, milk, and juice out of a sippy cup. Jimmy goes to sleep very easily with his pacifier ("wah") and blanket ("snugs"), right after he has his bottle. I'm am so thankful for my two great sleepers.

Family walks to our neighborhood park.

Yes, he did this. I went up to check on Jimmy because he was sleeping in an awkward position, and when I walked
into his room, he was covered in poop. He had even EATEN some. So many things were thrown into the garbage
that day. I still can't believe this happened!

Jimmy at his 9-month check-up. He was 19 lbs. 6 oz., and 29 inches long.

Since Linna is at school all day now, Jimmy and I get to spend a lot of one-on-one time together. He is into absolutely anything he can get his hands on, but he's also starting to understand the word "no". He's learning about the things he is not supposed to touch, and when he even gets close to those things, he looks at me as if he's waiting for me to tell him "no". He's a smart little cookie. His favorite word is "ball", and loves playing with anything that has wheels. His favorite toys right now are his musical zebra ("Zara"), trains, trucks, and tractors. Jimmy also loves the bath, and is in the tub every night because he's an incredibly messy eater. He has no fear of water, loves splashing, and is even trying to stand up in the tub. Linna gets in the tub after Jimmy, and Jimmy loves to sit in the bathroom so he can laugh at his big sister being silly in the tub. Linna won't take a bath with her baby brother though, unless I rinse all the food off of him first, and make sure there isn't any floating food in the tub.

His third haircut at 8 months old.

(Jimmy trying to stand at 10 months old.)

Our little man is growing up way too fast, and it makes my head spin when I think that he will be a year old in about a month and a half. With every haircut (he's had 4 in 10 months), he looks more and more like a little boy, and less like a baby. I have a feeling this little guy is going to keep me on my toes the older he gets!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DIY with mama saigh: Fall home-decor.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp, but the weather is still warm during the day, and chilly at night. It's the season that Papa Saigh and I were married (swoon!).

Fall simply screams "cozy"... And boots!

Right after Labor Day weekend, I pull out the plaid throws, shop for gourds and white pumpkins, and get our front porch ready for this inviting season. Wednesday, I was back on The Jason Show with some DIY fall home-decor ideas, that our family put together this year...

A rocking chair is a staple porch-piece for fall. We found ours at Lowe's for under $100. Drape a warm, plaid,
trow-blanket (IKEA) over the back to add some texture, and surround it with baskets, pumpkins, lanterns (IKEA), and crates (IKEA) filled with burlap and gourds. You can also get a little crafty, by making your own burlap pillow! The DIY burlap pillow isn't a Mama Saigh "original", so I used The SITSgirls tutorial to help me out.

Getting ready to stuff my "thankful" pillow.

I'm also making a "boo" pillow for Halloween. A foam brush comes in handy when filling in your traced, stencil letters.

I cannot keep plants in my planters alive... To save my life (ha!). I'm trying, but so far my attempts have been miserable.
So, this fall, instead of planting actual plants in my urn-style planter, I decided to "go green". This "no-planting planter" adds a modern richness to our porch, in a fail-proof planter that will last throughout the fall. No watering required!

All you need is a great planter (we love our urn-style planter from Lowe's), some sheet moss, styrofoam
balls (Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores has green, as well as white styrofoam balls), scissors, and a glue gun. Simply
wrap each ball in the sheet moss, using the glue gun as an adhesive. The sheet moss is messy, so be prepared for shedding!

And finally, the project that only took me 30 minutes to complete. My fall burlap wreath. I bought everything I
needed for this DIY project from Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts (a wire wreath-form, burlap ribbon, and some pipe cleaners).
I love this black, fall-leaves print on the burlap ribbon I used (bonus, it was 50% off). If my demo on The Jason Show
didn't make sense, check out this "how-to" video". 
Happy fall, ya'll!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Cirque du soleil's "toruk - the first flight" tickets.

Cirque du Soleil's Toruk - The First Flight is coming to the Minneapolis Target Center on September 28th, and we're giving a family 4-pack of tickets to the show to one of you! To enter for your chance to win, simply comment on this blog post with your first and last name, as well as the city and state you currently reside in. For an addition entry, share our Facebook "Toruk Ticket Giveaway" post with your Facebook friends. Your entry/entries must be received by 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21st (CST). This contest is only open to US residents, and the winner will be posted on our Facebook page, as well as this blog. The randomly selected winner must claim the 4 tickets via email by 9 a.m. on September 28th, 2016, or the tickets will be forfeited. Good luck!

Plus, use the code "child25" to get Children's tickets for $25 online.

Friday, September 16, 2016

KidsEmbrace batman activity walker.

When Jimmy started crawling and embracing his new love of being on his feet (no, he's not walking yet), I knew it was time to get our baby walker out of storage. However, it turned out that we got rid of Linna's old walker when we moved to Singapore.


So, I started my search for a new baby walker: A walker that would grow with Jimmy, keep him busy/entertained, and wouldn't scratch our new floors or dent up our walls.

After careful searching and reading reviews, we decided to go with the KidsEmbrace Batman Activity Walker. Come on... Batman?! I was sold. At $99, this walker was more expensive than other walkers I looked at, but we also just invested thousands of dollars on new flooring in our home. The last thing I wanted to risk was scratching up our new floors. Plus, Walmart was selling this walker for under $80 (price was current as of the date this blog was posted).

The walker arrived pretty quickly and did require assembly. The directions were clear enough for me to understand, and I had the walker put together in about 20 minutes. I love that the seat is removable and machine washable. That comes in handy when you have an explosive pooper like we do. Jimmy cruises all over our main floor of the house, and this walker keeps him busy while I am making dinner. He loves the vibrating activity area, and chasing his big sister around the house in his Batmobile.

I am very happy with this little Batmobile, and I found out that KidsEmbrace makes a Batgirl activity walker too. I guess we'll just have to have another baby, and make sure it's a girl;) Plus they are coming out with new walkers for 2017. Oh, and make sure you check out the KidsEmbrace website, because they have a new line of car seats and booster seats. If your kids love Paw Patrol, Batman, Cinderella, Dora, Spiderman, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob, or the Ninja Turtles, they will go crazy for these car seats. I know our 5-year-old has eyes on the Paw Patrol Marshall Booster. Through September 24th (2016), the Paw Patrol and Minnie Mouse car seats are 20% OFF on Amazon for "September Baby Month"!

(Linna and Jimmy playing around with the Batman Activity Walker)

Monday, September 12, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Beautycounter.

Today, a brand new line of skincare, makeup, body, and children's bath products will be available at Target (a limited 19-product line, available for 9 weeks, or until supplies run out). I recently heard about Beautycounter, when I was asked to review their line of products. Beautycounter offers beauty, bath, and skincare products that are rigorously screened for questionable or harmful chemicals. They keep these chemicals out of their products, so people can feel confident about what their putting on their skin.

As a mom, I find it extremely difficult keeping up with everything organic and non-toxic. Even though I try to keep harmful products off my kids' skin, it's impossible for me to stay on top of every ingredient in every product that we use (let alone pronounce the names of many of these ingredients). I simply don't have the time, nor the energy. There are so many serious health issues on the rise, and many of these issues are linked to our exposure to toxic chemicals. Toxic chemicals that we put on our skin every day.

Beautycounter's products are free from phthalates, parabens, and about 1,500 other questionable ingredients used in skincare and makeup. For the past month, I've been using Beautycounter's Rejuvenating Skincare Collection, Tint Skin Foundation, and Lip Sheer, and my 5-year-old and 9-month-old have been using the kids and baby hair and bath products. I really like the sulfate-free gentle cleanser, as it removes makeup and contains antioxidant-rich botanical extracts like apricot kernel oil, and raspberry seed oil. I also liked the Eye Cream and Rejuvenating Radience Serum, as they are both lightweight products that I'm able to wear under my makeup. I'm not sure if I see an improvement in my fine lines and wrinkles just yet, but I have only been using this skincare line for 4 weeks. The Tint Skin Foundation is great mixed with the Rejuvenating Day Cream, and I wear it as an everyday tinted-moisturizer. The Lip Sheer is also my new go-to when I need to pretend that I have my face put together. It's one thing I always have in my diaper bag.

Our family's absolute favorite products from Beautycounter are the kids shampoo and conditioner. I can honestly say that I have yet to find a kids shampoo and conditioner that leaves my 5-year-old daughter's hair as soft, clean, and manageable as Beautycounter's products do. Both my daughter and I were shocked at how easy it was to run a regular brush (we usually have to use the Wet Brush) through her hair after bath time, and her hair was incredibly soft and shiney when it dried. The products have a hint of a citrus scent, and they don't weigh my daughter's hair down at all. Plus, just one pump of the shampoo provides an amazing lather. We are huge fans of this haircare line, and will continue to use it.

(5-year-old Linna's thoughts on Beautycounter's Kids hair products)

Bottom line: I feel confident putting these products on my skin, and my children's skin. It's a company I feel that I can trust to keep on top of all the disgusting chemicals that manufactures sneak into makeup, skincare, hair, and beauty products. I am not a Beautycounter consultant, but I can see why many women are wanting to find out more about the opportunity.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

Now, the best part. We are giving away a Beautycounter Kid's Bath Collection (Body Wash, Shampoo, and Conditioner) to one of you! To enter for your chance to win, simply comment on this blog post with your first and last name, as well as the city and state you reside in (one blog comment per person, please). You will also be entered for a chance to win with any Beautycounter purchase made on our Minnesota Baby Social page. One winner will be selected at random. This contest is open to US residents only, and all entries must be received by September 16th, 2016 at 8 p.m. (CST). Good luck everyone!

* Here are a few other great deals that my Beautycounter Consultant, Heather Dahlen, is offering through the end of September 2016...

- Get a FREE Charcoal Bar ($24 value) with your purchase of $150 or more
- Half-off a Beautycounter Band of Beauty Membership

* All Beautycounter purchases made at Target come with a promotional gift-with-purchase, redeemable on Heather's site.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Linna update: Off to kindergarten.

And just like that, our first baby is off to kindergarten. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was rocking her to sleep in her nursery?! I know that every mom says this, but time has flown by WAY too fast.

5-year-old Linna on her way in for her first day of Kindergarten.

I am a ball of emotions today. I'm actually sitting in the car with tears in my eyes as I type this. I just dropped Linna off for her first day of kindergarten, and Baby Jimmy is sound asleep in the back seat. With Linna now at school for nearly 7 hours each day, I'm making a cautious effort to update this blog more frequently. Having two kids at home all summer long has kept me busy, and left this blog neglected. So while I'm struggling to let go of my baby girl, I look forward to having more time to embrace my passion of writing... On the same blog where I started writing about our little miracle, nearly six years ago.

Linna and Papa Saigh on Linna's first day of kindergarten.

At times, this summer seemed to drag on, and on... And on. But looking back, our family was busy as ever, and the 3 months of summer just flew by. Linna did a few summer camps, spent a lot of time playing with her neighbor friends, and we made the trek to my family's cabin on weekends. Linna enjoyed time with her cousins at the lake, sleepovers with her grandparents, and dates with her uncles and aunties. This summer, Linna celebrated her 5th birthday, and received a fishing pole and tackle box as a gift from my cousin Carly and her boys. To my surprise, Linna has found a new love for fishing, and everything that goes along with it... Even the worms. She is so interested in learning more about this sport from her uncles and cousins who are avid fishermen, and I think Papa Saigh is looking forward to having this hobby that they can share together.

(Linna's very first cast at the cabin this summer)

(The first fish that Linna ever caught, all by herself)

The neighborhood kiddos with Nanny Sam (our neighbor's summer nanny) on her last day.

Carver County Fair this summer.

Linna is attending a Chinese immersion program within Minnetonka's public school system. She's been learning Chinese since she started nursery school in Singapore when she was 2.5 years old. She's now able to count to 20, understand simple conversations, as well as many words in Chinese. At Linna's kindergarten assessment earlier this week, she was able to count to 100, write her first and last name without any help, rhyme, and can even spell and read simple words (in English). She is such a clever little bug.

(Last day of Chinese summer camp)

(Linna writing her first and last name without any help)

Carver County Fair this summer.

Linna competed in her first tractor pedal-pull this summer at the Carver County Fair.

While Linna absolutely adores her baby brother, she is having trouble sharing the spotlight. Who can blame her though?! She was an only child for the first 4 years of her life. If we say something as simple as "Good eating, Jimmy!", Linna will respond with "Why don't you say 'good eating, Linna'?". So that's been frustrating. She also gets super emotional whenever Baby Jimmy cries. The absolute worst is when I'm driving around with both kids in the backseat, and Jimmy starts crying because he's hungry or tired. This sets Linna off, and I then have two screaming kids in the car. She has gotten much better about remaining calm when her brother is crying. I love this sensitive side of Linna (just like her Papa).

Linna with her baby brother on the 4th of July.

Lots of swimming at the club this summer.

Our family at Papa Saigh's parents' cottage in South Haven, MN.

If you ask my mom, she'll tell you that Linna is a clone of a younger me. Linna is sassy, silly, argumentative, pushy, and loves being the center of attention. She is a little spitfire, and while I often finding myself wanting to pull my hair out when trying to get Linna do everyday tasks, I can't help but giggle at her unique personality. She says the funniest things, and will challenge anyone who gets in the way of what she wants.

(Linna, "The Performer")

Linna loves singing, has some incredible dance moves, and is so creative. She will spend hours at her arts and crafts table, making tiny figures out of paper, scissors, tape, and anything else she can get her hands on. She also loves playing "Alvin and the Chipmunks" with her neighbor friends Paytin, Leiney, and Brody, which apparently is the reason she's wearing her shirts backwards these days (she wants the front of her shirt to be a solid color... like the Chipmunks). Linna and her friends made their mark on every square inch of our neighborhood this summer, and were little Energizer Bunnies from sunrise to sunset. We feel incredibly lucky to have made such wonderful friends in our new neighborhood.

Linna discovered a new hobby in "clipping coupons" this summer.

Linna and the neighbor girls doing cartwheels in the backyard.

The "Valley Kids": Nolan, Brody, Paytin, Linna, Leiney, and Jimmy.

One big event that happened over the summer was Linna's first surgery... A double Strabismus surgery on her eyes. Linna has been seeing an ophthalmologist since she was about 2 years old, after we started noticing a lazy eye. We tried patching and glasses, but her eye doctor in Minnesota ultimately decided it would be best to correct the issue with surgery. During an almost hour-long surgery, the surgeon tightened muscles in both eyes to prevent her "lazy" eye from drifting. We had a wonderful experience from start to finish with the staff at Northwest Eye and Children's in Minnetonka. Watching Linna being put under before her surgery, however, was one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness as her mom. Nothing can prepare a mother for this. Thankfully, after a couple weeks of healing, Linna's eyesight is perfect, she no longer squints to focus, and her eye doesn't drift. I am happy to have this "first" behind us.

My baby being put under for her eye surgery.

All smiles with "Snuggs" (the blanket she's had since she was a baby) before surgery.
When I picked Linna up from her first day of kindergarten, she was ALL smiles, and so excited to see me. We did the pick-up line this afternoon, where they ask parents to stay in their cars (we are given a pick-up tag/number, that our child is associated with). Once the pick-up line gets going, it actually runs very smoothly. But, man, was it a circus today at pick-up and drop-off.

(Picking Linna up after her first day of kindergarten)

Linna said that she loved choosing a healthy snack off the snack cart when she walked into school this morning, and she talked mostly about the cafeteria when I picked her up from school. I think she loves being a "big kid". I packed her lunch today, but I think she's interested in doing a "hot lunch" sometime soon (we'll go through the lunch menu). We went to the pediatrician (a TB test follow-up for Linna) and Brueggers after school pick-up, and Linna wasn't as tired as I thought she'd be. However, when we got home, the tired "delirious crazies" set in (as seen in the video below). Both kids were up this morning at 6/6:30 a.m., and Jimmy didn't nap very well today, so both kids were in bed by 6:30 tonight. This is a bedtime that I was shooting for, because of the early school start time (7:50 a.m.). Jimmy, Linna and I had dinner, did baths, read books, and waited for Papa Saigh to get home from work around 6 p.m. He took a couple minutes with each kiddo, and then we each put one to bed. We might have to make mornings our quality family time during the week.

(Linna, at 4:45 p.m., on her first day of kindergarten)

And now, I'm off to relax with a much-needed cocktail. My babies sure know how to turn their mama into a puddle of emotions.

Cheers, fellow parents, to a happy and successful school year!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

DIY with mama saigh: Back-to-school organization.

I was back on the Jason Show this week, with some back-to-school organization ideas to get the entire family ready for the school year ahead!


One of our neighbors was getting rid of a couple wooden pallets, which we luckily got our hands on. Papa Saigh
used a reciprocating saw to cut the pallets, and we were able to turn them into a couple bookshelves for the kids' bedrooms.
Reading is vital in the development of a child's brain and vocabulary, so giving your children a special place to read and
do their homework at home can encourage this positive after-school activity.

We had to pry a couple boards off of a piece of the pallet that we weren't using, and secure those pieces of wood to the
base of the shelves. I then sanded and stained/painted the shelves. Papa Saigh secured the shelves to the
kids' bedroom walls using drywall anchors.

Here is one of the shelves on the wall - At the kids' eye-level, for easy accessibility.


We found this 3-tier mobile cart at IKEA for under $30, and loaded it with healthy snacks, for an eye-level, easily accessible snack cart for kids to utilize before and/or after school. We pop our own popcorn and put it it sandwich bags, and buy freeze-dried fruit in bulk and place it in snack-size bags, as a sugary fruit-snack alternative. Target also has a lot of
great, inexpensive, prepackaged snacks to add to the cart, along with fresh fruits.


We used this kids'-space organizer from IKEA, and painted the front section of each bin with chalkboard paint to label each bin with the day of the school week (M-F). This is a great way for parents and kids to stay on the same page with day-to-day fashion selections, while letting school-age children "dress themselves". You can label the excess bin however you choose (i.e. gym clothes, etc.). The best part is that you can reuse this piece as a toy, arts & crafts, or other household organizer.


Bento-boxes have become a popular lunchbox for school kids, as they offer spaces for a variety of snacks/food. But you
can also make a bento-box style lunch yourself, using a plastic container and muffin sleeves/wrappers.