Coco's Blog

Organized Living

Munchkin Logo We recently took a family vacation to Chicago (from the LA area) and I was so happy to have Munchkin’s Travel Booster Seat on our trip.  Those of you who have traveled with kids know how much stuff you need to pack for these trips - even on the short ones you seem to pack everything but the kitchen sink! We've been there, bringing way too much stuff on many trips, only to have to carry it with us.  Well, this time we wanted to keep our kid gear to a minimum,  so I really thought about what we were going to take on our trip.  With 4 young kids ages 1.5, 4, 6 and 8 years old, the gear adds up fast!  After reading some great online reviews of the Munchkin Travel Booster Seat I knew that this was a must-have item for our family.  I should note that this travel booster seat is designed for mealtime, not for safely transporting your child in a vehicle.

Munchkin BoosterFirst, the booster seat instructions are simple and in just a few minutes, you can securely attach the booster seat to a chair using the seat's built in straps. Honestly, I was wondering how the booster seat would stand up to my youngest son, who can wiggle out of almost everything – high chairs, car seats, baby swings! Guess what, the booster seat is very sturdy!   I didn’t have to worry about my little guy falling off the chair and hitting the travertine floor.

In addition to my 1.5 year-old son, my 4 year-old was also able to comfortably and safely use the booster seat.  The internal frame is strong (it's weight max is 50 lb.) and the height and legs can both be easily adjusted. This means that it can grow with your and it's ideal not just for toddlers, but also small children.

We brought it with us to restaurants, relative's homes and even on our sightseeing excursions.  Here's my younger son enjoying his breakfast from his booster seat.  Doesn't he look happy? Alas, I wish I had better pictures to share, but I didn't have my nice camera on our trip - the lens broke before we left and I had to rely on my phone.

Munchkin Travel Booster Seat

See how it secures to a chair?

Munchkin Travel Booster Seat Munchkin Travel Booster Seat

One of the best features of the booster seat is that while it's very sturdy it’s also very lightweight.  In fact, it was usually the job of my 4 year-old-son to carry it for our family - a job he really loved! That's me in the other picture with my two boys, and the travel booster seat!  The booster seats looks like a stylish bag, doesn't it?  One of the best features is that that it has a compartment that is perfect for storing your child's feeding items or extra travel accessories.  We kept a set of child's cutlery, snacks and a small plate in the there - perfect!

Munchkin Travel Booster Seat Munchkin Booster Travel Seat

There are two more features that I really liked about the travel booster seat.  The seat is padded, which makes it’s comfortable for little bodies.   It's also very easy to wipe clean.  That's a huge bonus for me, my kids are messy!

If you are planning a trip, I would highly suggest that you bring one these along for your toddler.  We were very happy that we did!  The seat retails for about $29.99, so it's a good buy.  In fact, I liked this travel booster seat so much that we now keep an extra one at my mother-in-law’s house.  She lives nearby, and we tend to visit quite often, so I like knowing that it’s available to use when the kids visit her and she likes knowing that she can easily put it away when we leave.  It's also great for daily use in your home, especially if you are low in kitchen space.

Follow Munchkin on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their awesome products.

GIVEAWAY!

Would you like your very own Munchkin Travel Booster Seat?   Enter our giveaway to win one!   This Giveaway is managed via Rafflecopter giveaway. Please follow the link below to enter.   It's super easy!  You can enter to win numerous ways!

Enter here!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: In the spirit of transparency, I received a Munchkin Travel Booster Seat to help facilitate this review; however all opinions expressed are my own (and they are honest!).  I appreciate when bloggers give honest opinions on products they review and I do my best to do the same.

Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:40

Christmas Budget Tips & Planner

We would all love to buy gifts for our family and friends without considering (and sticking to) a budget, but alas, budgeting is a must.

After all, you don’t want to be paying for your Christmas indulgences well into the following year, but you don’t have to be a scrooge either.   Here some easy tips to help you get something special for everyone on your “been good” list this year without going broke!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 18:39

My HGTV Episode Update

Some of you may know that over the summer my husband and I moved our growing family from our tiny condo into a larger home. The house needed a lot of work, and the kitchen was no exception.  We redid the kitchen on HGTV's Professional Grade - and finally I can share pictures of the finished product!   I love it!

HGTV Professional Grade remodel

It was so much fun redoing the kitchen on the show.  Basically, on Professional Grade homeowners tackle on a room renovation themselves.  They try to achieve professional results on a limited budget.   A team of contractors judges your finished work and if you can get them to think that your spent more money than your actual out-of-pocket cost, you WIN the difference! This was perfect for us!  We wanted a beautiful space for our family to prepare meals and to gather with family and friends, but we wanted to do so on a budget.   The first blog on this remodel can be found here.

It was a lot of work!  Honestly, more work than either of us anticipated.  We got off to a great start, but then our progress was interrupted by a break-in with vandalism and an unexpected business trip for my husband to China.   Juggling the remodel with 4 kids was not easy, since we were doing most ofthe work, but we are so happy that we took on this project.   The space is just what we wanted...

Tune in to HGTV's Professional Grade to watch the episode!  It will air this Sunday January 29th at 7:30 a.m., PST. I'll post more pictures  soon in another blog.  Here's the episode guide's description from HGTV.

Host Matt Blashaw challenges a married couple, Dan and Coco Peate to remodel the ruined kitchen of their newly-purchased home like the pros for a chance to win cash. Matt and guest judge, general contractor Dawn Howard, will inspect the new space and estimate it's cost. If their estimate is more than what Dan and Coco actually spent, the Peates win the difference in cash!! Dan and Coco just bought a home in foreclosure, and are renovating the entire house. They need to move in quickly because they're living in an 1100 square foot condo with their four kids! Neither of them has really renovated in the past. Dan has been around construction projects, but hasn't really done the heavy lifting. Coco has done some light design work around the house, but nothing like a kitchen remodel - and Coco is meticulous about details, and having things a certain way. Do they have enough know-how to make due, especially when they encounter ancient wiring, mold, and a home invasion?

Thursday, 05 July 2012 16:09

Summer Cleaning with Kids

Child CleaningGuest Post by Lydia Quibbin-Jones

In the lazy days of summer, it can be hard being organized. With the heat and the circumstances of not having to get up early to get your kids ready for school, most families just take this opportunity to sit back and relax. When my boys were younger, we were part of this majority. My children’s rooms were little more than piles of mess, until I put my foot down and came up with some kid-friendly ways to keep my whole house spick-and-span.

Here are some ways you can encourage your children to help make your house neat during the summer months:

Make it a rewarding experience.

To start off the summer cleaning fun in our house, we go through all our closets to check what we can still use. Clothes that don’t make the cut, books that aren’t needed anymore, toys that don’t hold any appeal go in the garage sale box. After all the cleaning up, we set up a yard sale, with each of us manning our own table and pocketing the profits we all get from our perspective sales.

These rewards get my sons revved up about cleaning out their closet, since we turn something that is usually a boring chore into something fun and profitable too! Don’t forget to monitor the things that your children put on their tables because they might just be selling something they could find valuable in the future. To be sure, I go over everyone’s boxes and check what’s for sale and record it by taking pictures. This way, we know where an item went when we look for it in the future.

Make it easy to do.

Try to see things through your children’s eyes. To make it easy for younger kids to do their own organization, have their clothes at a height they can reach. Hang lower hanging rods and hooks, and place two hampers (one for light and another for dark-colored clothes) near your children’s door for effortless clothes organizing[1].

Ensure that your kids will understand why they need to do the cleaning, and make the process as seamless as possible. Explain the task thoroughly, keeping in mind their level of thinking. Full understanding is the key to making tasks much simpler. This will also help prepare them in handling other responsibilities in the future.

Make it fun.

Having two sons, I know it can be more frustrating to get boys to care about organization than it is with gi(generally!), so I took steps to make it fun. Fun ideas [2] work the best. Remembering my husband’s penchant for shooting paper balls into a trash can after he works was a simple way to integrate a bit of sport into cleanliness.

We found a small basketball hoop from a toy store to put over both my sons’ hampers so they can shoot their way to cleanliness. Pump them up during cleaning time with fun songs like Eye of the Tiger or some Black Eyed Peas songs to get them energized.

Make it a team effort.

To make it clear that you are not the organization dictator, do the cleaning with your kids. It would help for them to see you as a teammate who joins them in tidying up. Barking orders and then relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine after your kids were just told to spring into action can give them a bad impression of you as a parent.

Set up a house cleaning hour, where everyone is taking care of their own spaces at the same time. Urge your older child to assist the younger, and vice versa.

Make a list.

A Checklist is one of the things that keep our family flowing smoothly. All chores are listed on a board in the kitchen, with each family member with his/her own column to take care of. Each week, we all get together and fill up the checklist, and throughout the week, we check off all that we’ve accomplished. The one who finishes first gets to pick what we do for Sunday afternoon!

Getting your kids to be more organized is a cinch when you follow these steps. Try them out this summer for your children to start their own habits when cleaning up!


About the Author:
Lydia Quibbin-Jones is a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) and organizing maven who attests to the wonders of practical living. A mother of two, she sees every day as a great opportunity to teach her young boys the importance of keeping a neat home. Aside from being a dedicated parent and wife, Lydia works part-time for a light fixture retailer, where she puts into practice many of her homemaking skills.

[1] Feldman, B. Closets, Clothing & Kids…Summer Organizing. Role Mommy. Retrieved June 30, 2011. From http://www.rolemommy.com/blog/closets-clothing-kidssummer-or.php.
[2] 6 Fun Ways to Teach Kids Organization in their Rooms. January 6, 2011. http://stagetecture.com/2011/01/6-fun-ways-to-teach-kids-organization-in-their-rooms/

Thursday, 16 September 2010 17:04

Mabel's Labels

Mabel's Labels

As a mom to 3 young kids, I know that kids loose things – quite often! That’s why I was so excited to learn about Mabel’s Labels through a good friend.

We have been using them on so many things around the house – shoes, clothes, sippy cups – you name, and a personalized label from Mabel’s Labels in some of our favorite colors helps us keep track of it.  I was so excited to finish back to school shopping this year because of Mabels’ Labels – all I had to do was “peel and stick” their labels to school supplies – and yes, the school wanted each marker, marker cap, pencil, etc. labeled!  Last year I made the labels on my computer, but this year my job was easy so easy - just peel and stick the super cute and colorful labels!

One of the reasons that we love Mabel’s Labels is because it was started by a group of moms who had a simple goal – to keep their kids from losing their things.  How many hats, gloves, or even shoes have your kids lost?  We can all relate.  We’ve definitely had our share of missing things around the house, but Mabel’s Labels is helping us get things back!  And as practical moms, these moms made sure that their products are durable, dishwasher, microwave and laundry safe – a 10 in my book!   At Vidacoco.com, we love to support innovative moms who create products that make our lives easier!

Mabel's Labels TagsMabel’s Labels has a variety of products that will help you keep track of your family’s things.  Mabel’s Labels have an extensive variety of products for your labeling needs including clothing labels, household & kitchen labels, bag tags, shoe labels, ID wristbands, personalized stationery products and even allergy alert labels.

I do have my personal favorites…Mabel’s Labels Shoe Tags are simply the best.  Just stick these labels on the inside of a pair of shoes, apply the special seal on top, and no more guess work as to whose shoes belong to whom at the next playdate or birthday party. Tag Mates are great because they let you label clothes on the care label.  My 1st grader accidently left her uniform sweatshirt at school and we got it back right away!  Best of all, the labels are not itchy and I can finally give up on using a marker to label clothes.

Back to School Back Mabel's LabelsMy favorite Mabel’s Labels product is their Ultimate Back to School Combo. This $44 combo pack includes all the durable, waterproof labels needed to keep your kids’ stuff out of the lost and found.  This Combo Pack Includes: 50 Tag Mates™,  40 Skinny-Minis™, 16 Shoe Labels and 2 Teeny Tags™.

I'm now looking forward to receiving my next Mabel's Labels product - the Custom Canister and Spice Lab.  Finally I'll b able to quickly and stylishly organize my pantry!  Once that task is complete, I'll move on to the garage - it's a mess in there and I'm certain that the Custom Bin Labels will come in handy.

NOTE:   This giveaway is now closed, congrats to our two winners - Jessica and Frances!

Have you used Mabel’s Labels products? Let us know what you think! Haven't tried them yet?  Which of their products would you and/or your family most enjoy using?  Visit our Facebook page, "Like Us" and leave us your feedback for a chance to win one of two Ultimate Back to School Combo packs described above!

A few notes:
  • I have tested Mabel’s Labels in our home, this is not a paid advertisement.
  • This giveaway is only open to residents of Canada and the US.
  • 1st two people to leave their feedback will win the giveaway.
  • I will notify the winner on September 16th, 2010 via Facebook (please respond within 48 hours). You can email us your contact information to ensure confidentiality.
  • If you have won one of our giveaways in the month of September you may not win in this one - sorry!
Sunday, 21 February 2010 22:35

Toys & Other Clutter – Go Away!

Toy clutterHave you said this recently? “That’s it, I have tripped over or stepped on the last doll/car/Lego/(fill in blank)!”

I routinely clean out our closets and toy bins, but lately it seems like despite the toy and clutter control efforts in place around our home, the battle is being lost. As our family has grown, the amount of toys and other miscellaneous objects have also grown. Before Christmas I even slipped on my son’s toy car and landed on another toy!

My friends and I have often joke at the fact that our homes have so much stuff in them. Toys are the biggest culprits. But there are other things too. Most of us have that plastic bin (or two) with the scrapbook stuff we never used, or books we’ve read but can’t give away, or clothes that no longer fit us…I am guilty of wanting to keep every birthday card anyone in my family receives. I blame the extra stuff in our house on the “big” stores that have everything in one place. We all have our favorites, I sure do. I LOVE office supply stores; they make my day! I can’t remember the last time that I went into one for “just one thing” and only bought “just one thing.”

I committed myself to trying to get rid of some of the extra stuff around our home this spring season. My more organized friends have lots of great tips on how to keep tabs on the toys and clutter around their home. One friend gives away every book after she has finished reading it. Some only allow for one toy/game to be played with at a time. Others ask for lessons and memberships to zoos for their children at birthdays instead of more toys. We rotate our larger toys. Most of the bigger toys are kept in the garage and only a new one is allowed in the house once another one has been taken from the house and put away back in the garage. Are there clutter control ideas that have worked well for you and your family? I suppose that I could not worry so much about the kid’s stuff and clutter and just put a sign on my front door that reads something like “kids live here, get over the mess”?