The Price Of Neglecting Your Pool

Stupidity often comes at quite a price and we have paid for it dearly this past week. We have a small pool in the back yard and we made the fatal mistake to not have it serviced regularly enough over the winter. This has led to quite a large bill, but it was entirely our fault. So in today’s post I want to share our mistake and a great experience we had with the pool service company.

swim-ring-84625_640Our previous service provider went out of business some time last year and this led us to simply postpone finding a new pool guy. As a result we had some pretty serious issues with the pool filter pump, but also a small leak has now caused several tiles to come lose.

In late April we decided to drain the pool and fill it up with fresh water and get the chemical balance set again. All seemed fine, but what we didn’t realize was that the pump was malfunctioning and it ultimately led to the water becoming unsafe. So not only did the pool pump need to be fixed, but a whole pool filling had to be drained again.

In addition there was a small leak due to a crack in one of the tiles. This led to water seeping behind the tiles and about a dozen of them have come loose and had to be fixed as well. We felt pretty stupid to say the least.

Thankfully the guys from Orange County Pool Cleaning Service CA came to our rescue and had dealt with similar situations many times before. They assessed the problem and on the first call out fixed the pump, which had become clogged up and there was a problem with the motor as well. We then drained the pool, as this was going to mean that fixing the tiles was not going to be as expensive as it would have been to fix it below the water line.

So the following day they were out again and did a fantastic job at getting the pool tiles fixed. They recommended that we wait a day before we started filling up the pool and we did just that. But their follow up service was great as well. A day after the tiles were fixed one of their team called out again to inspect that everything was ok and we could go ahead to fill the pool again. We did not expect this and were not charged for the visit either, so we were well impressed to say the least.

Overall they were hugely professional and did a fantastic job at fixing our pool. We have also signed up for their regular pool maintenance service and they will now call out once a month to check up on the pool equipment and do some regular cleaning. Hopefully this will mean that we won’t be hit by such big problems again.

We would highly recommend them if you are looking for any minor or major fixes to be done, and you can find their contact details here.

Stroller Solutions For Busy Moms

Most moms will know too well the different routines that come day in and day out. I work as a nurse and shift work can be very difficult on family life. On those days when I am not working in the hospital there is always plenty of work to catch up on at home and our two kids are relentless. When I have a day off during the week, it usually means getting our eldest to school and then trying to get the grocery shopping done.

This is made a little more difficult with a 2 year old boy, and the fact that we like to shop in different stores for different things we need. For a long time I tried doing this with our full size stroller, but this just became too much of a tedious task. I think that we just had one child it didn’t really register, because there was a little bit less to do every day.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 22.03.18Anyway, I eventually decided to buy a lightweight umbrella stroller and in typical fashion I bought a piece of junk. I spent $35 and thought I was being thrifty, but within 6 months it was falling apart from wear and tear. That is when I found the Babywheels.net website and it was a true savior.

They really have a great array of information about umbrella strollers and based on their reviews we figured that investing a bit extra for the Bumbleride Flite was going to be the way to go. I use this stroller so much for all the quick trips in and out of stores that I knew I needed something that would sturdy and not fold within 6 months again. We now have it 6 months and I really put it through its paces.

Except for a few scratches and stains it has really held up to the test of time. There is absolutely no comparison to the piece of junk we had before and my little boy seems to be a lot more comfortable as well.

The best thing about it is though that it really works well for vacation trips. We spent a week with family in Florida for Thanksgiving and the stroller was an absolute dream for travelling by air. Airport security is a pain in the you-know-what at the best of times, but we were really not looking forward to the trip. But with some advance research on the TSA website we know exactly how best to handle it.

The stroller was so easy to fold down and lift up onto the security machines that we really didn’t have much difficulty. Because it was so small were also able to bring it right up to the aircraft where we handed it over to staff. Once we landed in Orlando the airport staff were friendly enough to have it ready for us once we got off the plane.

Overall it was a very pleasant trip and I would not be as scared of planning a vacation with the kids by air again. But even for our weekend trips away by car, it is so small and light that we practically always prefer it over the full size stroller. It just makes life so much easier for us; we really couldn’t live without it.

New Phone System For The Busy Family

I have blogged before about how we picked out Baby monitor and it is not the only piece of high-tech equipment in our family home. Just like any other home we have multiple cell phones, some private, some for work, and we also have a home phone system. One thing that always annoyed us was the fact that there really was no integration between the cell phones and the cordless house phones.

With 4 cell phones and 2 cordless phones we would always scramble to figure out which phone was ringing and where it was. By the end of the day our cell phones would need charging so they would be plugged in somewhere in the house and we’d scramble to find them.

We then came across the site bestcordlessphoneguide.net and we quickly found a solution to our problem. Several phone manufacturers now offer cordless phone systems with integrated Bluetooth that build the bridge between wired and wireless phones. We picked out a Bluetooth cordless phone with two handsets and the ability to hook up a hands free kit.

headsetWithin just a few minutes we were able to pair our cell phones with cordless phone system and then we were able to see on the home phone handsets who was calling on a cell phone and take the call there. Essentially all our incoming calls can now be answered on the home phone and we do not need to scramble to see who’s calling.

This may sound a bit like a gadget, but if you have several cell phones and rely on them for work, then this can really be a great solution. Now, when we get home we can charge our cell phones in the office and not miss important business calls because we cannot hear the phone or don’t get to it on time.

It did turn out to be a little bit more difficult to get all our numbers onto the cordless phones, but it turned out that we were not following the instructions correctly. Now, all our important numbers are available on all phones and we can see exactly who’s calling no matter which phone line is being used.

Overall we found this new set up very convenient and well worth the investment. As a busy mom with a very busy household it is important to me to make all the little annoyances of life and find a way to get rid of them. Let’s face it, most of us have got unnecessarily annoyed over an accumulation of little things. I have snapped at my kids and husband and have regretted it after.

By taking simple steps like this I have gradually reduced the amount of recurring things that annoy me. And you will have often heard me shouting around the house asking everyone if they have seen or can hear where one of my phones was. Those days are now gone and a little nuisance will not cause any issues around the house. I think this will become increasingly important, as our kids grow older.

First Experiences With A Meal Planning App

As a full time working mom keeping diversity in the family meals can be a bit of a struggle for me. For a while it just seemed like our family of four were very predictably eating the same things every week. While it was all healthy food there just was a lacking of something different. One thing I wanted to avoid is having our kids get too used to certain foods and that they would then not want to try different things later in life.

1280px-Good_Food_Display_-_NCI_Visuals_OnlineFood and diet is very important to us, and we certainly watch out to keep it very balanced while keeping trash food to an absolute minimum. So, about 6 weeks ago a friend of mind recommended an online service and it has been an absolute great recommendation.

Cook Smarts is a website portal that features tons of free information on recipes, blogs and some free meal plans as well. The free info is very good, but I decided to sign up for an annual membership which cost $6 per month. This gives you fantastic resources where entire meal plans are created for you.

Essentially you enter details about what type of food you would like, e.g. vegan, vegetarian, paleo, high carb, etc.and you will then receive new recipes every week which you can add to your list including a very handy shopping list. What is really great about the service is that you get detailed instructions including video that you simply follow along.

Over the six weeks since I have been using it I have been able to surprise the whole family, including myself with new dishes several times a week. For me it just takes the whole guess work out of planning food for the week. I simply choose a couple of recipes that are new on my list and then do the grocery shopping for a couple of days ahead.

We still cook our favorite meals every week but it is just so nice to have so much more variety on a weekly basis. So far we have not encountered a meal that didn’t please everyone, and it is just such a great way to find new ideas without having to go through old recipe books that have been done too many times.

I would really recommend this service highly and for the couple of bucks a month it really takes a lot of stress out of my busy family life.

Choose A Baby Monitor Carefully

Baby monitors have been around for many years and they are a great way to make sure you hear the cries of your baby when you are in another room or part of the house. While most babies can create quite a bit of noise from a very young age, it does help to hear even little wimpers as an early indication that you baby is about to wake up. But not all baby monitors are the same and some are just better equipped with additional functionality that give you peace of mind.

With our first child we just got a simple sound monitor and it certainly did the job. We could hear our baby even if we were outside or in the garage. The sound quality was decent, not that you really need to have a very clear transmission, but it did the job it was supposed to. It was only after a few weeks that a friend of mine started talking about a baby monitor that helps detect sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

This was one of our biggest worries from the day our daughter was born and we just couldn’t help getting up several times a night to check that she was still breathing. Even though the chances are very small it is just something that is out of a parent’s control, so anything that helps to mitigate it was worth an investigation.

Our friend suggested we buy an Angel Care sound and motion monitor, and I have to say I was initially sceptical. On the sound side it works just like any other monitor. But what differentiates it from the rest is that it includes a motion sensing plate that is placed under the matrass. The plate can be fine-tuned to pick up even the slightest movements even from a new-born baby breathing. That’s right, even the slightest movements are picked up and should they stop an alarm is sounded.

acWe decided it was worth the investment after my friend told us how great it worked. So, the first day we set it up and decided to give it several tests. Over a few days we placed our baby to sleep and moved the motion detection plate further away from her to simulate what would happen when she gets older.

We very quickly found out how sensitive this detector was, when on numerous occasions we forgot to turn it off when we picked her up. Also, as she grew older and moved more in her sleep she sometimes moved too far away from the motion sensor, setting off the alarm.

This gave us such an amount of peace of mind that we have recommended it to all our friends and often buy it as a baby shower gift. As soon as we knew how well it worked, we were able to sleep a lot better, knowing that we would be notified if our baby suddenly stopped breathing.

Car Safety Seat Advice

Advice number one: Do not rush into a decision and do not go for the cheapest one you can. Your child’s safety in traffic is absolutely the most important thing to keep in mind. The unfortunate reality is that you can be the safest and best driver around, but that does not protect your from the idiocy and recklessness of others on the road. The news is littered with too many tragedies, so make sure that you keep your child as safe as is possible.

One of the first ports of call for information is this US government site where you will find some great insights. There are many resources and it will pay to read through them carefully before you head into a store to be confronted with a sales pitch.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 21.59.20Firstly you should be aware that car seats are designed for certain age and size categories. For new born babies you will find that car seats are always rare facing as this provides the most protection against whiplash and other injuries in the event of a crash. The great thing with these car seats is that you can usually leave your baby in the seat and take the entire seat out of the car. There are even strollers available that you can directly attach the seat to making it a lot easier for you to get in out of cars with your baby.

Once your baby outgrows the infant car seat you should investigate the next size up. Some makers now offer car seats that can be gradually adjusted to increase in height, size and padding as your child grows older. Ultimately your precious bundle will be tall enough to only require a booster seat which basically ensures that he or she does not run risk of being choked by the regular car seat belt.

It is absolutely important that you know exactly how to securely fit the seat. So make sure you have someone show you or view some video clips that demonstrate it. You can have the best and safest car seat on the market, but if it is not fitted properly it will not provide enough protection.

With two of our own kids we have had experience with a couple of car seats. What we have found that those seats with the highest safety records and standards are usually ones that are not the easiest to fit. Which in a way makes some sense, as the more solid and rigid they are, the more security they will provide. We also found that one feature to look out for when you’re looking for a car seat for an older child, is head protection. The car seat we have our eldest in now has great side protection which also functions as a head rest for her to lean against when she falls asleep.

Ultimately it all comes down to doing plenty of research and know about various features before you meet a sales person. And before you commit to buying a specific model, check out if there are any negative safety reviews or worse yet recalls.

Portable High Chairs – A Great Solution For Vacation Trips

Last summer I went on a long weekend trip to Yosemite with the whole family. The four of us packed up the car and we arrived at a busy campsite right in the heart of the park. If you have never been to Yosemite, then you should make plans right now. It is one of the best places for family trip, because there is so much outdoor activity and there is tons of stuff specifically for kids. But this post is not about the park and what there is to do when you get there, but some really great advice we got the day we were leaving.

My husband was packing up the car with our bags, and stroller and toys and the bells and whistles we could possibly need. Our neighbour Janet came over to tell us she would keep an eye on the house and we just had a quick conversation about where we were going.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 21.26.36This is when she told us to wait for her to get something that we would definitely need if we were staying in the camping huts. She dropped off a foldable portable high chair. Despite the car already being full of our stuff, we had no problem squeezing it in the trunk. At first I thought I would just take it because she was so nice to offer it, but the minute we got to the camp site, we realized that we would have been lost without it for our 2 year old.

While all the cafes and restaurants do have plenty of facilities for kids, the camping huts did not and this would have been a problem. We often spent time in the mornings and evenings sitting outside with other families having breakfast or just winding down after day out and about. This would have been a lot more difficult if we would have had to keep Sam on one of our laps, to feed him.

Ultimately a very small and simple high chair solved a huge problem. I would never have thought that such a thing existed, until it was handed to us. But it does make perfect sense for these kinds of trips. Since we came back from Yosemite we have been on several weekend trips with the kids and have bought a portable high chair. It is one of the first things we pack along with the stroller as it has made our life so much easier.

If you are planning on going on a short or long vacation trip by car and you have a young baby then you should definitely look into getting such a high chair. You will be able to take much more advantage of your valuable R&R time with the family, without the stresses of everyday work/ family life.

Diaper Bag Advice For The New Mom

Until you have a baby, you really don’t have much of an idea as to how much stuff you will need to bring along when you leave the house. Having a designated bag is the best way to stay organized. It really is all about getting all the stuff in one convenient bag and that bag needs to carry more than just the diapers.

With two kids of my own, and a busy job as a nurse, I have rushed into buying 3 diaper bags before I actually stopped for a moment and found the one that would actually do what I needed it to. Admittedly, the second one I bought was pretty good, but then we had a second baby and it was just not going to fit everything I needed.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 21.24.39Having the right bag that fits everything can hugely reduce the stress of getting out of the house and also being away from your entire baby inventory at home. And getting out of the house is sometimes necessary and sometimes just healthy. Obviously diapers and baby wipes are one of the most important things to bring along, because you can guarantee that you will need one at the most inappropriate time.

As a busy mom you should look at the overall size of the bag and how the inside is divided into compartments. Rummaging through a bag where everything is just wildly falling around will just add stress in a situation where you least need it. The bag should also have pockets on the outside where you can store smaller things that you know you are going to need to have readily available; for example pacifiers, bibs and wipes.

So, what kind of things will you need to be able to pack:

-       Diapers

-       Wipes

-       Pacifiers

-       Bibs

-       Change of clothes

-       Nappy cream

-       Bottles

-       Snacks and food

-       Toys

 

And then there is stuff for the busy mom:

-       Bottle of water

-       Wallet

-       Phone

-       Keys

-       Glasses

-       Makeup

-       Magazine

 

Essentially, you want to avoid having to carry a diaper bag and handbag, as this will just add hardship and mean you need to keep track of more stuff. For that reason, you should also not compromise on style, and thankfully you will not need to do so as there are so many bags available in different styles to suite every type of fashion you may be into.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that the bag should fully open and not just have a small flap at the top. Because you will have so much stuff in the bag you want to be able to find things by looking in, not by feeling for things.

The bag, when empty should also be light, and not made of very heavy material. You could end up carry the bag around for long periods of time and the things you store in it will all add up to considerable weight. When it comes to diaper bags, lighter is better.

Finally, our personal top tip is to stay away from Velcro. It is noisy and will very easily get stuck to clothes and sometimes the diapers, causing all sorts of problems.

Welcome To Busy Moms Boutique

I am delighted that you have found our website, which is currently undergoing a redesign and total refresh of content. For years we have been providing moms, and sometimes dads, with product information that can make the busy lifestyle of today a lot easier. Having kids is a tough job and with most parents being dual income earners time with the family is limited. Making most of that time can be made easier with some very innovative gadgets and tools, and sometimes just plain old fashioned items that have worked for generation.

Each month we will be featuring new and old products and giving you advice on how these can help your lifestyle as a busy mom. I have too often bought something because I was in a rush, thinking it would do the job. This rushed process has led me to buying a stroller that wouldn’t fit in the car’s trunk, a car seat that was too small and countless other bits and pieces that just did not do what I thought they would.

This is why I have put this site together, so that you can avoid some of the mistakes I have made. On numerous topics we will list how to go about choosing them and also tell you about our own purchases.

I also try to account for people’s limited budget and will rarely be recommending highest priced products unless there is a very good reason to do so. Some products we review, like car seats, should be anticipated to cost quite a bit of money, and you really want to make sure that you do not save on safety features. Strollers are similar, while certain brands are more expensive just because of a reputation, you still have to make sure that they will do the job and cause discomfort to your child.

We will also be taking a look at very handy stuff for day trips and vacations, travel tips, newest fashion ideas for moms and kids, and also the occasional gadgets that will help life as a parent. Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest info. We promise to not spam you with rubbish and advertising.