Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

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Random: Automatic Public Toilets

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Yes, this post is totally random. You will most definitely get that from time to time with me. Well, today is that lucky, odd day. My totally random thought of the day is about: Automatic Public Toilets.

Regardless of the fact that it’s nice to not have to hand flush (or kick flush)… if you’re a parent of a potty training toddler… or maybe said toddler (or parent) is terrified of the automatic flush… or you just have the tendency to sit too still for far too long…
I think we can all agree that automatic public toilets can be a pain.

They sometimes flush too randomly… they sometimes flush too early… sometimes they repeatedly flush… sometimes the flush is just startlingly too fast or loud… sometimes you’re just not prepared…

Well, I have a tip for you!

Somewhere I learned the following hack (& boy, is it ever useful!). If you’ve already discovered this little trick, than kudos: you, too, have been enjoying being in the driver’s seat of toilet control. For those of you yet to discover, may I reveal the following secret to you. Ta-da:

I’ll tell you what… I was about 3-4 kids in before I discovered this trick! It’s so simple! I’ve never had freaked out kids (or me) in the bathroom ever since!

So, if this is the first time you’ve ever seen this: you’re welcome. Enjoy. Hope this random thought of mine today is actually a blessing to you.

Happy flushings!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#totallyrandomthoughtoftheday   #bathroomhack   #nomoresurprises   #pottypeacefully

Stop Waiting

Stop waiting. Make something of the moment you're in right now

Because of the Fall of man and the effects of sin on the earth, there’s always gonna be decay, failure, let downs, problems, sadness, and death this side of heaven. And quite frankly, I kinda think that because of sin, our brains may be hard-wired to immediately see the darkness around us. I think this because ‘seeing the good & the positive’ seems a skill that most of us struggle to naturally have and develop. It doesn’t seem innate to most.

Scripture says,

“… brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
~Philippians 4:8

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”
~Proverbs 4:23

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
~Romans 12:2

It matters what we meditate on in our hearts and minds.

If a negative thought comes into our minds, it matters what we do with it. Do we run with it? Imagine intentions of other people? Think worst case scenario? Ruminate over it? Meditate on it?

What we’re doing is creating mental ruts and grooves. And quite literally, we are creating neural pathways of negativity in our brains. The more we think negatively, the more ingrained that line of thinking becomes!

We must counter this with positive thinking. Not in a New Age-y way. But in a Biblical way! Focus on what is right and true and praiseworthy. Focus on the good that is all around us. Focus on the blessings of God. Focus on what Christ did on the cross for us.

Having a hard time doing this mentally? Just get out a notebook & pen or sit down with a blank Word document and just start writing. Even if it’s simple things like: the sun is shining and the weather is nice today, it’s Friday and I’m getting paid, no one’s sick in my family right now, we went grocery shopping and have a full fridge/pantry of food, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything huge and amazing. But what you’ll see is that there is a TON of things in our lives that are going RIGHT. We just need to be paying attention/looking for it. It’s there, I promise.

On learning to take a positive spin on events & circumstances…
An example: this Thursday (7/19/18) AM, I had a varicose vein procedure. I had my alarm set for 4:30a so I’d have ample time to get ready and drive to my appointment. Well, I forgot to turn that alarm off. So come the next morning (Friday), my alarm goes off at 4:30a. Besides scaring me out of a nice dream, my next immediate thought was “grrrrr… this upsets me… I want to sleep!” But I forced myself to take a positive spin: though I don’t like waking up at 4:30a when I don’t need to & I was awoken out of a deep sleep: I am now awake enough to take the Ibuprophen I have on my bed stand. Now, when I wake up at normal time, I won’t be in pain. Yay!

Though “yay” wasn’t my initial response, it’s the one I rolled over/fell back asleep to. I was genuinely happy and slept like a baby like a husband. 🙂 I knew I’d wake up with less pain in a few hours AND the Ibu would allow me a couple more hours of good, pain-free sleep. I successfully took a positive spin on that experience.

Note: I will NOT be accidentally be waking up at 4:30a on Saturday as I successfully deleted that alarm. 🙂

But no matter our situation or lot in life, there is ALWAYS something positive to focus on that can bring a smile to our face. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining. Look for it. Seek it. Search for it. Don’t “wait for it to happen”. MAKE it happen. It seriously starts in the mind and how we perceive the things that happen to us and that are said to us. Happiness starts within us. It’s not an outward thing that happens to us.

Let’s make it happen.
Let’s look for something good to savor today.
Let’s choose now to be happy!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#lookforthegood   #bepositive   #livefree   #choosehappiness   #happinessstartswithin   #becarefullittlemindwhatyouthink   #smile   #behappy   #liveawakened   #livefullyalive

Being Spoiled

We were recently gifted from a family member a free trial of meals from Blue Apron. Up until this past month, I’d never heard of this company. How that happened, I do not know. Because now that I have been made aware of it, I see BA everywhere (as scroll through my Facebook feed, as I navigate through the internet, etc).

Basically, you pick out the meals that interest you (we chose our meals from the vegetarian menu), and they ship them right to your door. Since our trial included 2 meals this week, they packed everything we’d need for those two meals into one (very insulated) box: herbs/spices, cheeses, canned and/or fresh vegetables, noodles, etc. And the recipe cards (which were extremely detailed, but super simple to follow). You still have to wash and cut the vegetables, shred the cheese, and cook everything yourself. But all of the ingredients are pre-measured and pre-packaged for ease and simplicity. One meal is exactly enough for two people.

From start to finish, our meal took 30 minutes to prepare.

Here’s our Bucatini with Tomato Sauce from dinner last night:

 

 

What was truly fun (besides savoring this dish!) was working alongside my hubby in the kitchen and cooking together. We’d both had a looooong day and just needed to do something to refresh our spirits. I love how food can do that.

Our BA shipment had come in just that morning, so we were eager to have a go at that first meal. The kids had already eaten their supper earlier and were quietly enjoying their evening. Perfect time to spend some quality time in the kitchen. In fact, we had a couple of little helpers (and tasters) join us in the kitchen: our 11 and 1 year old daughters.

Here’s what the recipe card (& nutrition facts) looks like:

 

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It was just a meal, but it was also fun and light and happy and simple. Just what was needed to cap off the day.

And, by the way, dinner was delightful.

I truly feel pampered by having these BA meals delivered to us. So very thankful for this yummy gift. Looking forward to preparing our next dish (potato tacos)!

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Prancercise

Prancercise

Not quite sure why I was thinking about Prancercise this morning. Perhaps it was my own giddy gate as I “pranced” around the kitchen making coffee that shook the memory loose. Mornings are my absolute FAV time of day. I’ll get up at least an hour before the rest of the family just to soak in the aloneness that’s all mine. I’ll even forfeit sleep to have these moments of quiet. It’s.the.best. I get AM adrenaline surges that literally make me go “eeeee” and make my hair stand on end. My husband, aka “the corpse”, is my exact opposite. Our kids seem to (thankfully) be a happy middle ground between our extremes.

Let’s face it… I “prance”. Esp in the mornings. Or to 80’s pop music. Or to fantastic summer breezes blowing in my windows. Basically whenever everything is right with the world and I’m overcome with energy and happiness. I “get” this Prancercising lady.

Do I prance in public? Uh… no. I guess that’s why I kinda envy the boldness of Joanna Rohrback. She’s so genuine, so true, so… herself. Looks like she could give a flying flip about what anyone else thinks. She gets to walking. She gets to listening to some music. She gets to jamming. And then she just lets herself get lost in the moment to the music. Does her movement look like everyone else’s? Not at all. But that’s ok. That’s how SHE rolls. And I TOTALLY appreciate that. I LOVE that. She is who she is and she does what she does regardless of what other people say and think of her. She put herself out there and shared from her heart, probably in hopes of encouraging others to free themselves from the shackles of what others think and to embrace their own inner beat. To get fit while having fun.

But boy, she’s been made fun of for doing so. Lots of parodies and jokes and whatnot out there bashing her for being so weird/strange.

Anytime anyone puts themselves out there, they risk the chance of being made fun of. Actually, it’s a guarantee… they WILL be made fun of or ridiculed or bashed, etc.

It’s a shame really. And with social media, people can hide behind their anonymity. They say things online that they’d NEVER say to someone’s face.

There’s def an art to learning how to let crap like that roll off your back and not let it affect your heart. I liken it to bullying. The very mental flow of a bully is this: 1) the bully feels like crap inside (for whatever reason), 2) they see someone else that’s “better” than them (or that has something good going on), 3) the bully feels even yuckier (& prob threatened), 4) so they say or do something mean in hopes of tearing that “better” person down to their level (or lower), 5) their wounded ego (temporarily) gets stroked, and 6) they (temporarily) feel better. It’s primal and requires very little thinking. But that feeling of ok-ness only lasts a for a little while. Then they have to repeat the process again in order to re-feel better about themselves. The only thing that will REALLY heal a bully is for they themselves to work on/through their issues. Bashing other people is not a permanent fix.

But anyways, back to Prancing. Joanna Rohrback is prob a truly happy person. An energetic person (obviously). And this prancing… it’s from the heart. And if I had to bet, there’s prob a LOT of other people out there that, if stripped from the cares of what others may say, they too would prance in public. Even on a fitness level, that added movement incorporated with regular walking probably does indeed burn more calories!

Though I may not “prance” in public for my exercise routine, I do genuinely appreciate Joanna’s staying true to who she is. That’s a technique we should all be learning to do in our own lives– a lofty goal we should all be attempting to achieve. It’s taking that risk and putting ourselves out there. It’s sharing our life, thoughts, experiences, successes & failures… to help others, touch other people’s lives, encourage them, and to better someone else (even if it’s just 1 person). It’s standing tall regardless of the ridicule.

For more on Prancercise, Joanna has a YouTube channel. You can also read up more about it on Wikipedia.

In closing, I hope you my reader are learning to care less about what other people are thinking about you. I hope you’re taking that risk and putting yourself out there to reach and touch other people’s lives. I hope you are learning to listen to constructive criticism but to let hurtful criticism roll off your back (and to have the wisdom to know the difference between the two). In your life, do your own form of “prancing”– be & do what you were created to be & do.

prancercise

 

Get Inexpensive Medical Tests Done!

Here’s how our family saves a decent amount of money on medical matters! This may help you and your family save some cash as well!

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Have any of you ever heard of www.RequestATest.com.

A few years ago, I was needing some blood labs drawn for my mild hypothyroid condition. At the doctor’s office, a basic routine thyroid lab costs over $100 (and that was a few years ago- I have no idea what it costs today). When talking to my girlfriend, who also has thyroid issues (and who regularly gets labs drawn), she suggested I check out Request A Test.

It’s SO easy and inexpensive to get labs through them… WITHOUT needing the doctor to call them in. YOU can call them in.

If you know what specific test(s) you need (or have a general idea)- be it blood, urine, stool, etc- you can easily search for them on their website. They have just a TON of labs available- common ones, uncommon, and everything in-between. Heart health, hormones (male/female), celiac, autoimmune, cancer, STDs, Lyme, heavy metals, etc. If you don’t see what you need, they have “additional testing available”. Simply call them at (888-732-2348) to inquire. They could probably hook you up with whatever you are needing.

So, you pick which lab(s) you want (either “ala carte” or in a “package” deal), put them in your shopping cart, and go to checkout. There’s usually a “special of the month” promo code- check it out on their home page and see if it applies to what you’re ordering. Prices per individual test/package are easily seen. Sometimes there’s even a price slash or sale available.

At checkout, they have you search for a local lab near you by address, town/state, or zip code. Just click on the lab you want to go to.

Once you hit the finalize button, you will receive 2 emails… one is the receipt and the other is the actual order confirmation. These are basically just for your records. You do NOT need to bring these with you when you visit the lab. An order will also be sent (from Request A Test) to the lab that you requested.

At the lab that I go to (LabCorp), it’s not imperative that I make an appointment, although I could make one either by phone or online. Maybe some lab offices request that you make an appointment. But I’ve never had to.

Be sure and look at the requirements for your test! If you clink on test “info”, it will tell you what the requirements are, if any. It also appears on your receipt and order confirmation. Some labs request that you fast several hours prior to getting your lab done. Glad I looked for myself today because I ordered my tests this morning and was ready to go to the lab. But then I saw that for the CMP I needed to have fasted for 9-12 hrs. I’d already eaten breakfast at this point. :-/ So… I’ll go tomorrow morning. Be sure and look!

Just an FYI, the receipt will come to your email inbox right away. The order confirmation may take some time to come though. Mine comes in fairly quickly, 5-10 min. But depending on circumstances, it could take longer. Do NOT go to the lab until you have received that second email, the order confirmation. When you get that confirmation, you now know the lab has your order in. THEN you can go to the lab.

So anyway… that basically how it goes: search/find, order, pay, find a lab, and get your test(s) done! Easy-peasy.

Results come back fairly quickly. They can either be sent directly to you doctor or you can have them sent to you via email or you can view them online (securely).

Today I ordered a Comprehensive Blood Count (CBC), a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), and a Thyroid Basic Panel w/ TSH (T4, T3 uptake, Free Thyroxine Index, & TSH) for a grand total of: $107!              (CBC– $29, CMP– $29, Thyroid– $49 = $107)

Un-real! No joke!

So seriously, if you’re needing labs, check out Request A Test!!!

Let me know if you catch yourself a deal and save some money doing this!!!

This is a fabulous way to get labs done if you don’t have insurance, are self-pay, your insurance doesn’t cover certain tests, have highly sensitive tests you want/need to take but want confidentiality, need results fast, are monitoring your own health for personal info, don’t want to have to go (or pay) for a doctor’s visit every time you need a routine test done, etc. No hidden fees or pricing. Super easy to use website. Great customer service.

I highly recommend Request A Test!

 

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How to Wash a Pack-n-Play

We have (2) Pack-n-Plays over here… one, we’ve had since 2003 and the other is slightly newer, just over 3 years old. Our *old* PnP stays stored in the basement for travel and guests. The *newer* PnP was being used by our youngest child for FAR too long. Yeah, we actually JUST recently purchased her a toddler bed and we’ve discovered she LOVES to sprawl! Poor thing. Can’t believe we never thought to get her a big-girl bed all this time. With Baby I being due in 4 weeks, we needed that PnP from her. It’s all good. We got the newer PnP all ready for Baby… and Miss Pebbles got her big girl bed. Everyone’s happy.

Well before I went and got the bassinet and everything attached to the *newer* PnP, I decided I better clean the thing first. I found online a loooooong time ago a recipe and instructions for just how to do such a project. I think I originally found it here at Mommy and the Minister.

Before I went and washed my newer PnP, I decided to experiment with my older one from the basement first, ya know… just in case I ruined it. LOL. If it got ruined, I’d be upset, but not devastated. If I ruined my newer one, now THAT would be upsetting.

So here’s the recipe:

Pack-n-Play Cleaner
1 scoop Dreft (or comparable brand gentle detergent)
splash of white vingar
1/4 C baking soda
Fill a bathtub with the hottest water possible from the tap. Once filled at least half way, add the Cleaner ingredients. No need to stir. Place PnP pieces in the tub. If it’s not completely submerged, keep adding water. Leave for 30 min. Flip pieces. Leave for another 30 min. Take outside to rinse well with a hose. Allow to stand outside to completely air dry.

Now… I believe *all* GRACO Brand PnP’s have a particle board type filler in the mattress to make it hard. Other brands may be made with plastic. Of course I have GRACO’s so I was *not* able to submerge my mattresses. GRRRR. That was the part I REALLY wanted to clean super good. I even called to company to confirm the materials in the mattress. Yep… particle board. So frustrating. If you have a different brand of PnP, it could very well be made of plastic– if so, you are in grand luck. CHECK YOUR OWNERS MANUAL or the TAGS on your product JUST TO BE SURE before you submerge. If you submerge particle board, you will totally warp the mattress material and it’ll be ruined.

What I did was make up a smaller batch of the Cleaner and put it in the sink. I then used a wash cloth to spot scrub the mattresses. It still worked well… but man alive, if only I could have dunked it, it’d probably have had an even better cleaning success.

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Old PnP- dirty

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Cleaner ingredients

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Going in

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After 30 min soak

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Made a smaller batch of Cleaner in the sink for spot washing the mattresses.

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Spot washing the old mattress.

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Getting ready to spot wash the newer mattress.

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After 1 hour soak.

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Pulled it out and laid it on some towels to carry it downstairs without it dripping on the floor.

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The water after the soak. YUCK.

 

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Newer PnP going in for a soak.

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Close up of grime.

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Old PnP after being hosed down. Air drying.

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Both mattresses, post hose down, drying outside. They look SO much better.

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The water after 1 hr with newer PnP. Not nearly as bad as the old one.

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Old mattress, after cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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After cleaning.

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Bassinet pieces of newer PnP after cleaning.

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The stain on the warning label came right off.

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Newer PnP all cleaned and dried and almost ready for baby.

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The mattress, after cleaning & drying.

Since I wasn’t able to submerge my mattresses and get a super deep clean, I will be sure and buy some mattress sheets. Probably would be a good idea anyway, what with spit up and diaper leaks that will for sure occur.

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This cleaning process worked SO well. I am QUITE impressed.

So impressed, in fact, that I decided to use this same recipe on some cloth folding chairs we owned.

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Filling up the tub.

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30 min soak.

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After 1 hr. Truly nasty!

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Out to air dry after a good hose-down!

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They look SO MUCH better!!!

I think I may do another soak on these chairs as there are still a few lingering spots. This time, though, instead of leaving to “soak” I will actually try scrubbing them.

If you try your hand at washing your Pack-n-Play using this method, be sure and let me know how it turns out. Hope you have as much success as we did!!!