An Internship with Santa

The other day I was trying to get out of the house....with the kids... just to get some groceries.  I had a plan, a timeline if you will, to get out of the house and to the store and back before lunch.  I was optimistic.  I was overly optimistic.  I wanted to be walking out the door at a goal time.

Then this scenario began to unfold:
The baby was eating breakfast.  The 2 year old was eating breakfast.  Well, sampling breakfast. "I want to do it myself" to pour the cereal and then the milk "myself".  A few bites of cereal.  I want oatmeal.  Baby cries due to neglect, throws spoon with cereal on floor.  (How does baby food have that kind of trajectory anyway?) Pour the oatmeal "myself".  Add the water "myself".  Baby still fussing.  Put oatmeal in microwave "myself".  Push buttons "myself".  BEEP. Oatmeal is done.   "I get it myself". "I stir it myself."  "It's a bit-a-bit hot.  Mommy blow on it."  For some reason that is something she does not feel compelled to do "herself".  A few bites of oatmeal, run down to play (insert Mom voice "come sit down and eat your breakfast"). Repeat this a few more times. 

Sufficient amount of food is consumed that I don't feel like SRS will be knocking on my door due to mal-nutirtion concerns.  Now to clean up the mess created.  Drops of milk on the table.  Oatmeal spilled on the counter from "myself" moments.  Baby cereal on EVERYTHING!  How does it get EVERYWHERE? On the floor, on the wall, the table, the chair, the high chair tray, the high chair buckle and straps, the high chair legs...seriously.  EVERYWHERE.

Ok, now on to step two.  Getting everyone dressed and diapers changed!  The baby just wriggles around like a pig rolling around in mud, so getting him dressed is like... well wrestling a greased pig.  Basically it is a one-hand maneuver because I have to use one hand to pin him down which only leaves one hand free for changing and dressing.  After much screaming and my forehead beginning to glisten the little one is freshly clothed.  (Notice I did not try to dress him before breakfast because remember how the cereal goes EVERYWHERE?  No point in having to try to do this twice!)

Sadly, the easy part is over.  Now comes the 2-year-old.  A child who has two clothing preferences: jammies or sans clothing. I thought the answer to independent 2-year-olds was to give them choices, options they could pick from to make them feel empowered.  Humph.  Not this two year old.  "Do you want to wear this or this today?" "No. I wanna wear my jammies!"  "No, we have to hurry and get dressed so we can go to the store.  You want to help me at the store, right." "No, I wanna wear my jammies!"  "Ok, I will pick for you. Let's wear this." "No wanna wear that.  Wanna wear mine jammies."  Let the wrestling begin.  In mid-change of diaper: "No wanna wear clothes.  Wanna run naked!"  And she wriggles away and does.  Usually in circles around a chair. 


Enter the pleading and begging and convincing that clothes are a good thing, that going to the store is fun and that wearing clothes to the store is a requirement.  Usually this involves a chase, some tickling and finally with some creative maneuvers, despite many protests of suffering, clothes are on.  Whew!  Checking the clock.  Ok, later than I hoped, but we can still do this.

Now to tackle that hair!
My daughter is blessed with beautiful curly hair.  Pull one of those darling curls down and ask her "what is this?"  She will answer "that's my winglet".  (ringlet)  Yep, it melts my heart.  I love those curls.  She did not get them from me.  Unfortunately, I know she will grow up hating them, while her mama will adore them with a twinge of jealousy her whole life. 

However, after a wild night of sleeping, those darling "winglets" look more like the head of Medusa. 

Honestly, this is tame compared to many days. 
This requires some serious taming with a squirt bottle of water and a big brush.  If you were a betting person, would you bet she enjoys this process, or not so much?  The answer is: not so much.  Enter more screaming, another power struggle and me begging her to let mama find her "ringlets". 

At this point I am thinking, eh, if we have lunch a little late today, no big deal. 

After this, I realize, I forgot shoes.  Now we have to search for the shoes.  If it's winter, she will want to wear sandals.  If it is summer, she will want to wear her "boot shoes".  It is inevitable.  Sigh.  Convince 2 year old that wearing the appropriate shoes for the weather is a good idea. 

But it is winter now, which means coats.  Groan.  Put one in arm.  Now the other arm.  Zipper.  Baby down.  Now for the 2 year old.  "I no wanna wear a coat."  "I no wanna wear that coat, want dis coat.  No, go away.  I do it myself.  (2 seconds later) Mama I need help."  Sigh. 

Ten minutes later:

Ok, we are ready to load up.  Diaper bag, check.  Purse, check.  Two-year-olds babies, check.  Load baby in car.  Baby screams and screams because he hates the car seat.  Realize I forgot to make the bottle I had planned to have at this point to pacify this predicted scenario.  Run in house to make bottle while baby screams in car and 2 year old begs "hold me, mommy, HOLD ME"!

At this point I debate on whether it is worth even trying to go to the store at all...but we have one kid locked and loaded so I sort of feel committed and at a point of no return. 

Bottle complete, baby quiet for a minute.  Two year old screaming "HOLD ME"!  Realize I forgot the keys.  Go back into house for car keys.  "Oh no mommy! I forgot my keys.  I need my keys! Oh no, I forgot my bag.  I need my bag, too!" 

Oy vey.

Alright, ready to load one more child in the car.  As we pull out of the driveway, I look at the clock in the car.  AN HOUR AND A HALF!  IT TOOK US AN HOUR AND A HALF!  In a twisted way, I can see the humor in this, but mostly I just keep thinking there are other mothers out there with twice as many kids and I know they can get their kids out the door in less than 30.  What is my problem?

As we pull out of the driveway and my daughter begins to comment on Christmas lights and decorations in my neighborhood, I realize there is a guy out there that seems to manage hundreds of little people and not only gets out the door, but travels the entire world in one night!!

Thus, I have concluded I need to do an internship with Santa, on how to manage little people, because my elves are taking over and I am starting to look like Mrs. Claus with all of the white hair!


Halloween Illuminaries

If you haven't noticed, I am in to decorating for Halloween: cheap!  And upcycyling.  We recycle alot in this household and I am proud of that. 
I was very close to my grandparents when I was growing up.  They grew up during the Great Depression.  The idea of saving everything because everything could be useful was how they lived until the day they died.  (This probably is much of the reasoning behind my slight hoarding tendencies, although I am afraid to admit this.  The honey will hold this over my head forever.)  Still, I would like to start finding more ways to reuse the things that we are already bringing into this household anyway.  Glass jars are my latest project. 

Glass jars, tissue paper, black construction paper or scrapbook paper, modge podge and a Cricut are all I used for the fun project that even my 2 year-old helped to "paint".  (The Cricut is not necessary, but a convenient option.)

I used plain old tissue paper, torn in strips to cover the glass jars I had from my recycling bin.  Salsa jars, pasta sauce jars, pickle jars... you name it. 

Use Modge Podge liberally to attach the tissue paper onto the jars.  You could be as creative as you want with this.  You could use stripes or create a stain glass kind of look.  I wanted to stay with solid colors this year, but who knows next year?

Next, I used black construction paper to cut out my designs.  I used a Halloween Cricut cartridge, but you could easily cut out Jack o' Lantern faces by hand.  Or print an outline of clip art and then trace around it and then cut the image out of the black paper. 

Really, the possibilities are endless. 

So many options, so little time. 


Finally, use the Modge Podge again to attach your design to the jar and it is complete.  Simply add a tealight in and the mood is set. 

 I think I will add some ribbon at the top for a more finished look.  My sister-in-law suggested hanging those black spider rings on some of them with the web.  I think that could be fun.  See...the possibilities really are endless!

I tried to get some pictures of them staged on my front porch:

However, my little "helper" wouldn't leave them alone and kept rearranging them. 

"Mama, want to put this one here? Oh, ok."

"Oh, this one goes here, ok?"

"Over here, Mommy?  Want this one over here?"

"No, put this one here, right here. There."

(Please understand these are not really questions to me in a way to imply I have any input in this decision, what this really translates into is: I will put this here.)

What can you do? 
The little designer is already coming out. 


Simple Spider

I love the web, but it does look a little lonely. 

I need a spider. 

A very large spider. 

A very inexpensive, large spider. 

Isn't that why they made black trash bags?  I stuffed the trash bag half full with newpapers from the recycle bin and tied with a zip tie. 
I have a new found love and respect for zip ties!

Add a little more newspaper to make a head, and you guessed it: another zip tie!

Then I used black electrical tape to round the corners of the body a little so it didn't look so boxy.  I also used the electrical tape to hold back the excess trash bag behind the head. 

Now the body is complete, just need to add the legs.  Hmmm.
I need another inexpensive solution. 

At the hardware store there are foam tubes that are used to insulate pipes.  Conveniently, they are a black/dark gray color. 
 (Conveniently, my brother had some extras in his basement we borrowed.)

Enter the infamous zip ties again.  Four pieces of pipe insulation gathered and zip tied together.  (Ooops, this picture only shows three.  That's what I started with.  Then the honey came by and said, we need to be anatomically correct, so four it is. You will notice four in the final picture.)  These are flexible, so just manipulate them and zip tie the ends to the webbing to hold them in place. 

Yay!! I love it!

I had a few rubber spiders in my stash I got from Oriental Traders a few years back.  I added them to areas of the web for extra effect. 

Finally, I added the "mother" spider, by using a zip tie to attach the spider at the neck to the center of the web and the look is complete!

I am so happy with this, especially that it only cost  a couple of dollars at most to make.  I had almost everything on hand.  Web and spider cost me less than $3. 

Big impact, low cost. 

Sign me up. 

 I am beaming with pride!!!


The Tangled Web We Weave

I was pretty proud of myself and my door decoration plan that I was inspired to try one more low-cost, high-impact idea this year. 

My honey built two beautiful trellises for our front flower bed. 

They seemed the perfect place for an extra-large size spider web(A few years ago, my friend hosted a Halloween party at her house and she had created this huge spider web on her front porch and I have always wanted to try it myself, so this seemed as good a time as any.)

To begin with, I used a wire wreath frame I had from making Christmas wreaths.  I used this for the center of my web.  This, zip ties and rope are the only supplies you need. 

Notice the use of zip ties to attach the nylon rope to the wreath frame wire.


I tied the ends to various parts of the trellis.  Then I began to weave the concentric circles around to complete the web.  I never had to cut the rope, I just hid the rope behind another piece, always using zip ties. 

I have decided that really all you need in life is zip ties and duct tape and you can do anything!

Use the zip ties to keep the circles in place. 

And voila!!
An extra-large spooky spider web. 

I had both of the kids with me while doing this project, which slowed me down a bit. (You know, cleaning dirt off of a 10-month-old who insists on taste-testing potting soil.  Chasing said 10-month old off the front porch steps because he has decided his newest skill is to climb them. The usual.) Plus, this was my first time constructing it, so it was a little slower going at times, but I would say I finished this in less than 90 minutes total, even with with kids. 

This truly is a low-cost, high-impact project and will become a staple in our Halloween decorations from now on!


For Whom the Bell Tolls

As a hearing person, I often take for granted information that I gather about my surroundings and what is happening through sounds.  Some obvious things that come to mind include fire alarms, emergency vehicle sirens, oven timers, horns honking, etc.  However, recently, our household has had a couple of situations that have left an impression on me and what I take for granted in my environment. 

One afternoon, both kids were down for a nap.  I was busy in the kitchen and the honey was outside loading recyclables in the truck to take the recycling center. All of a sudden a blaring, honking noise filled the air.  The first thing I thought was "please don't wake the kids!"  I scurried outside to see what the commotion was about.  The headlights on the truck were flashing on and off and the horn was honking continuously.  My honey dear's bottom half was sticking out the side of the truck as he calmly organized the bins in the truck, unaware of the cacophony surrounding him.  He had the keys in his pocket and had accidentally hit the "panic" button. 

His face changed as he saw me frantically running towards him.  I tried to explain what was happening, but it was faster just to grab the keys and push the panic button again. 

 Ahhh... happy silence. 

The honey stood there, confused.  He knew something had happened, just didn't fully know what all it entailed.  Luckily, the munchkins slept through it. 

Later that same night, I put our 2-year-old to bed.  Recently, she has been more reticent about going to bed.  

Me: "Mommy and Daddy and baby brother are all going to bed now, too.  Good night, love you!" 
And then an electronic sound "doodle-ooo" (I have no idea how to represent this sound, just play along please).

2 year old: "Daddy TV!"

Yep, that electronic sound was from our man-sized LED TV.  Busted! We have had the thing for 3 years now and I have become quite familiar with the sound of the TV going on and obviously my 2-year-old is on top of that as well, but my honey had no idea

When he first got it, I might have told him it made the sound, but that would probably have been the only time he would have ever known and 3 years later...
no way to remember that

He had no idea that he had just helped to provide evidence to build a case that mommy was a big, fat, liar!

Sometimes it is the little things that I take for granted.  Tidbits of information that most of the time are inconsequential, but at the right time, they are invaluable!


Halloween Door Decorations

This year, holiday decorations are on a budget. A shoestring budget.  I have collected several little decorations over the years; things to hang on the wall, place on the mantel or other flat surfaces to collect dust and look cute.  With a toddler and 10-month-old, these are NOT practical or safe
Plus, I realize I need to focus more on big-impact design ideas.  But big-impact and shoestring budget seem mutually exclusive.  Enter my new love affair with Pinterest! (Follow me here) Where I found this:

My door is not painted that cool green, but with a little help from some big rolls of paper like you find at a school, I was able to create something similar.

It's not quite as sophisticated as the painted inspiration version, but I think it makes a similar big impact.  You can see this in the porch shot:

I do have a semi-protected porch and a glass door to help proctect the paper from the elements.  I am rather pleased with the big-impact, almost no-cost combination.  Now I am on the hunt for other similar decorating ideas. 


The First Dress I Ever Made and the Girl Who Refused to Wear It

I have always enjoyed dabbling in arts and crafts and doing things "homemade".  (Don't you love playing with language and making adjectives and nouns verbs?)  Once I became a mother my desire to create homemade food, games, activities, decorations, parties, clothes, toys... basically everything, has jumped into hyperdrive.  Funny how that this unrelenting need has occurred at a period of my life where I have less time than ever before.  This desire has driven me to the blogs and a whole new world of inspiration.  This blog world is a love/hate relationship.  Again, less free time in my life than ever before and yet I crave spending hours online looking at what others have created and trying it for myself.  That's just the time to puruse and add projects to my list, a list that grows exponentially while the actually doing and crossing off the list happens at a rate that imitates the growth of coral.

Despite all of this, I decided that to prove my worthiness as a mother I needed to make my daughter (who turned 2 the week after Easter) an Easter dress this year. I found this tutorial at KoJo Designs and thought that I might actually be able to pull this off.  My broad sewing knowledge involves: a basic straight line.  Yep, that's it.  And really you can translate "straight" to mean "pretty wobbly, but basically going in the right direction".  Still, my need to create handmade goodness for my daughter gave me the confidence to look past my lack of skill and take on this dress.  

For a week, I poured my heart into this thing.  A couple of nights staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish this project after the babies were in bed.  Bless my mom's heart, she burned the midnight oil with me trying to help me figure this out and manage a very cranky 5 month old at the same time.  Gotta love a woman who supports my whims, however ridiculous.  (Don't I have a great mom as a role model?  Lucky me!)

Finally, the dress was complete.  Suprisingly, if you don't look too close, it doesn't look half-bad.  Not perfect, but not horrendous.  Not "The Christmas Story-bunny-outfit-gift" embarrasing.  Someone squinting might even say it was cute. 

Triumph!!!  Perhaps all of my efforts have been redeemed! Perhaps my standing in motherhood is saved!  If I wasn't so tired I would almost be glowing with pride.  If I'm this excited... I can't wait to see my daughter's reaction!  

Imagine my suprise when I tried to put it on her and she screamed bloody-murder and ripped the thing off her body. 

I am not exxaggerating. 

Seriously screamed as though I was trying to kill her. 

I quickly checked for pins. 
It's made out of a t-shirt it can't be scratchy. 
I tried again. 

She screamed again. 
She pulled and tugged and put up her hands and arms in some kind of karate defense move. I decided it was because I hadn't had enough sleep. 
She's almost 2, she's kind of like Kansas weather: wait 5 minutes and it will change. 
I tried to stay positive.

Easter morning arrived.  I was exhausted.  I was hopeful.  I was shot down.  She wanted nothing to do with my handmade creation.  Two years of her life and the child had never ripped off a single piece of clothing in her life, unitl now.  Until my handmade creation touched her skin and all of sudden it was like the fabric was burning her skin.  I laid in a puddle on the bed and cried. Alot.  We went to visit family and she wore pants.  I sulked with my wounded pride and my plummeting score in mommyhood.  
This is her "Easter outfit".

It turns out that moment began a 2 month period where she refused to wear all dresses, but it still stings that it was my handmade dress that started it all.  Finally in June she was willing to don the "shirt".   

The shades really make the outfit, don't you think?

We still couldn't call them dresses.  I will never make anything for her again.  I have learned my lesson!  Well... except for Halloween costumes... and maybe a decorated T-shirt or two...

ok, maybe I didn't learn much after all.


Jammin' Like the Old Days

My childhood was filled with fresh vegetables.  My grandparents tended a garden the size of their entire backyard and when that wasn't enough, they crept over to the the neighbors.

I love sliced cucumbers in vinegar and water.  The closest thing to heaven is eating a freshly picked tomato straight from the vine... sliced... with a little salt. 

Seriously salivating right now. 

Everything that was grown, was also canned.  I remember spending days scalding, peeling and canning tomatoes.  We used pie plates for the scraps, aprons tied around our necks and tomato juice dripping down our arms.

Someday I want to do that with my own garden and my children.  But two little ones and a new house with clay soil means it will take me awhile to get to that point.  But in the meantime, I had a hankering to try something.  With recent berry sales at the grocery stores
($.88 and $.99 per pound!),
Strawberry Freezer Jam fit the bill.

My 2-year-old helped...or tried to help.  She did quite a bit of sampling and likes to pour ingredients, but measuring isn't quite her style.  Despite my assistance penchant for doing it her way, by following the instructions on the package of Certo pectin or Ball pectin, we had 24 8-oz jars of freezer jam in a short amount of time.   

I LOVE these decorative Ball jars. So pretty.  I am definitely planning to consume lots of jam, but I also plan to use these as gifts.  These particular set of jars came with labels as well.  I have already passed out a couple for thank you gifts and will probably decorate them a bit more at Christmas times. 

This was my first attempt at this and I am rather pleased with myself.  If catastrophe struck, we may not have alot of vegetables, but we could sustain ourselves for at least a few days on Strawberry Jam. 

Now the biggest challenge will be to not eat it all myself and save some for gifts. Maybe one more biscuit tonight though. :)


Summer Splashing

I saw this on Positively Splendid first in her Summer Survival Guide, but this is originally from House of Hepworths.  I love the simplicity of this. 

 It's like reusable water balloons

You can't replace water balloons, but they do take hours to make and are gone in just a few minutes leaving everyone wanting for more. 
 These fabulous little creations are so simple to make and can be used again and again

I first brought these out for the 4th of July and then used them again just recently for a playdate. 
These have been a hit with little ones and adults alike

The men boys in my family enjoyed them as much as the little ones.  My two-year-old is happy to carry them back and forth from one bucket of water to the next over and over again.  She is too funny to watch and a little OCD at times.  :) 

I found my sponges at Dollar Tree and I am saddened that I can't find anymore of these sponges there.  I am still looking at other stores. 
I like these particular sponges in particular
1) because of their bright, fun colors and
2) because these are more like foam and are very soft. 

The cellulose sponges are more stiff and dry very hard.  I am still on the look out for more. 

I cut each sponge lengthwise into 4 pieces.  Then chose 8 fun color pieces that I liked together and tied in the middle. 
It truly is that simple!

The first time I made these I used fishing line, but the line cut into my fingers as I tried to pull them tight and despite my best efforts, some of them fell apart after a few throws. 
 So I redid them with zip ties.  Using zip ties makes them much easier to construct, but you want to be careful to cut the excess zip tie length as close to the clasp as possible.  Otherwise, there might be a sharp part when being tossed around. 

I love that we will be able to use these for
many ages and stages and when we need more or they need to be replaced it's a quick, easy project



All over the U.S., we are experiencing horrible drought conditions.  Our yard is falling dormant and walking across it sounds like crunching leaves in the fall.  My daughter is particularly tired of being cooped up inside to avoid the intense heat.  I hadn't noticed how difficult this was to her until we went shopping the other day and she took great joy in running up and down the aisles.  I know, I'm sorry my kid is "that kid", but if you had seen the joy of freedom on her face, perhaps you would have realized, as I did, that the poor thing has needed to do that for some time now. 

We fiercely need rain.  Not a light rain, but a good solid rain that comes and goes over the course of a few days.  My flowers are all shriveling up and trying to shrink from the scorching blaze that never seems to go away, even at night time.  (I know that doesn't make sense, but when the nightly low is 84 I have decided the sun must come out again while we are sleeping to keep things so hot.) 

The dry conditions remind me of a time when my brother and I were young.  We were both still in elementary school.  It had been hot and dry for awhile and everyone was complaining we needed rain.  I don't remember who had the idea first, but we got it in our heads to do a rain dance.  We took brown grocery bags cut and painted them for costumes.  We made headdresses with feathers on them and proceeded to do a rain dance in the middle of our driveway.  I can promise you that we shamed Native American culture with whatever moves and chants we made up.  I don't think the dance lasted long.  I have a feeling the preparation of the whole thing was the real time commitment, but we did it. 

No... I mean we DID IT...we brought on the rain.  Later that evening it did, in fact, rain.  More than three drops.  Seriously, a good, solid rain.  The details of the dance and even the costumes are fuzzy.  I am sure my mom has a picture of us somewhere.  What I remember is that feeling that we DID IT!  We were so excited.  I remember feeling so POWERFUL!! We defied science and the weathermen.  Ha! 

I have been thinking of that memory often.  Not just the whimsical thought of getting out on my driveway and doing a rain dance to give my poor plants some relief, but also the sense of power and accomplishment that moment brought into my elementary-aged life.  It was like someone pouring a pitcher full of hope and moxie all over me.  In the last couple of years my life has changed drastically.  Completing a master's degree and going from a couple to a family of four has been a whirlwind of change, not always easy change either.  In that short time, I have had days where I have needed a pitcher of hope and moxie poured over me again.  New challenges await everyday.  Sometimes you may be living in a drought.  I am reminding myself, sometimes the rain will come, but sometimes you gotta make your own rain... you just gotta dance!


A Grey Hair Made Me Do It

For over a year now I have followed several blogs and loved looking into the lives of others, especially mothers, who I wanted to emulate, to be as cool, as crafty, as creative, as talented, as thrifty as each one of them.  It never dawned on me that I would ever write a blog myself.  It seemed above my reach, my life and small ideas never seemed to be good enough.  The perfectionist in me would never want to put out something this public that might show any flaws or weaknesses. 

And then one day...my darling honey and I were chatting briefly in the sunlight when he said to me, "What's that?" and then with far too much enjoyment plucked a wayward hair from my head.  Upon examing it closely my darling gleefully demonstrated that he had found a treasure: my first grey hair.  I have to admit it took my breath away and not in that "Top Gun"-theme-song-by-Berlin-way, but in the someone-hand-me-a-paperbag-and-quick-because-my-lips-are-turning-blue-from-lack-of-oxygen-way.  In his ever-so-supportive way, my darling partner in life also reminded me that with this new development it will be harder to lie about my age now.  (At this point, I have no intention of stopping this little charade.  The important part is that I buy into my own denial whether others do or not.)

Crossing this milestone in my life made me think that perhaps I could write something that others would find interesting or humorous.  But more than that, I think I am looking for a way to rage against the "dying of the light" (the light, in this case, maybe my youth and then perhaps my relevance).  So I begin this new journey of sharing my thoughts, projects and daily life in a public realm.  I hope to learn something along the way and maybe find a way to be less hypertensive should another errant grey hair find its way to my head.