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I’m No Martha Stewart…

…but, I do consider myself a crafty gal. And I try my darnedest to make cute things for the kids that also keep them occupied, and figure there are many others who may feel the same way. Then again, maybe not.

My eldest had to decorate a shoebox for Valentine’s Day to use as a mailbox for school as a family project. They had about two weeks or so to do them, and, procrastinator that I am, combined with out-of-town husband, we started working on it the weekend before it was due (which was still a good four or five days in advance). As we bedazzled said box, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that her box was going to be the worst one (at age 4), because other people had already brought theirs in, and they had colored paper instead of white. I didn’t have enough of any non-Christmas paper left to cover this box, so I just used white packing paper to cover it for a base, so she could color, glue, and embellish to her heart’s (badum-bum) content. We had that thing covered with glitter, confetti (both put on contact paper then put on the box so we wouldn’t have it fall off and make a mess (for the teacher as much as for me…glitter multiplies like rabbits around here), paper flowers, foam cutouts, doilies, printouts, coloring…you name it, it was on there. Dad’s contribution was a picture of St. Valentine, which was like playing Where’s Waldo trying to find it among the other fancy-schmancy stuff. Though he was front and center.

She was so convinced that she needed more stuff (even on the bottom that no one would see), that she asked me to stick on a few more things she left out before bed the night before it was due. We’re talking a good four solid days of working on this thing. That’s how much stuff.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at school for their party to find that the other boxes had been wrapped in paper and, some, not all, with a few other doo-dads, but that was it. She still is convinced that her’s could have been better. Maybe we needed lights?

Color My World

This past week, the kids and I have been busy peeling the papers off crayons so we can melt them into hearts for Valentine’s Day cards for my oldest’s classmates.  The rest of the year, I find shreds of crayon paper all over the house, but give the green light to the two year old, and those things stay wrapped up like a tamale.

At any rate, the Valentines came out really cute, and they were super-easy and inexpensive, not to mention involved no candy. A bonus in my book…we still have Halloween candy (even good stuff) that keeps calling my name. And it’s rude to ignore that.

Homemade Valentine Heary Crayons

We separated the crayons by color family and put them in tin cans that were then melted double-boiler style on the stove. To make it easier to pour, I squeezed the top of each can to make a pour-spout, and used skewers as stir-sticks to make the color even and make sure there were no chunks.

The, I filled the cavities in a mini-heart candy mold, popped them in the freezer, and within a few minutes, they were completely cooled and I could tap them out and get the next batch in. I don’t need or want more than one of those molds, so this sped up the process, and it was just enough time to make sure the wax that had cooled could melt again. (A tip for freezing: Make sure the cavities are dry and have no condensation from the freezer, otherwise the next batch will have holes and need to be remelted. Not usually a problem, but if you see a drop of water in there, get rid of it!)

Then, I used some clipart that came with my computer to print the actual cards. I just used some four-to-a-sheet postcards that I have hanging around and popped them through the printer. The front of the card is two graphics, the big square with the floating hearts and whatever was in teh center of that, with the words, “Happy Valentine.” I blocked out the animal or whatever was there with some white shapes, found another piece of clipart that had a couple of kids hugging the Earth with a heart beneath it (coudl that have been more perfect?), and added “You Color My World” at the top. I also saved the top inch, give or take, of the card for a fold-over, so put some hearts and “From” upside down and printed them out.

On the back, I found some color blocks with hearts in the center, and just pasted it so it filled the whole side. Then, I got nervous that some kid was going to think they were candy, so I put a disclaimer, “Contents: Heart-Shaped Crayons,” at the bottom.

Then, the kids and I put different colors of the hearts in cellophane treat bags, folded them, stuck them in the folded card, and stapled. Easy-peasy.

They ended up really cute, kept us busy for a bit, and were only slightly more than the regular boxed cards. Heck, the mold was only $1 after the half-off coupon at Michael’s, and that’s reusable, I had the postcard sheets laying around, used pouches of broken crayons, and spent $1 on a bag of 100 small cellophane treat bags, and I still have 80 left. I can handle that.

SuPURGEatory

As any normal mother of young children will tell you, life is consumed by keeping the kids clean, fed, occupied, injury-free…you get the idea. Due to the nature of my day (and night) job, my bosses have had more clout on where we end up journeying when a new boss is added to the mix. It has become increasingly more difficult to just get up and go to places that are not child-centric now that I have three bosses.

The result? The kids are really well dressed, and I have found myself in need of some clothing since much of my time over the past several years I have not been my normal size, due to either pregnancy (all-over) or nursing (make room for the girls). Needless to say, I took a look at my wardrobe and some of the tops that were acceptable before children/ when I was a few years younger just don’t cut it anymore. Now I’m at the point where I like my shirts to fall a little lower than just over the top of my waistband, and don’t really want to flash a bit of belly when I reach for something.

Thankfully, I have not had any problems getting back to my normal size, but girlfriend needed some new tops, aside from the fact that I’m not a t-shirt and sweatpants girl. I own one pair of yoga pants, and even those only see the light of day when I am exercising or, very occasionally, tossing something on fast to bring my daughter to school in the early AM. Even then, I get changed once I return home. I always tell my husband that if I ever buy a pair of sweatpants, lounge pants, or anything velour to wear outside of the house or for not-PJs to just shoot me, because at that point I will officially be done. (I used to be asked why I was “slumming” in college on any day I wore jeans. That was before they really became trendy in a not-just-the-easiest-thing-to-put-on sort of way.)

Ahem, I digress.

So, I found myself looking through my closet at all of the things that I would probably never wear again, but I hate to throw things out, especially if I have even a glimmer of thought that I could wear it again. There was a skirt that I had held onto from high school days that came in handy just two years ago for part of the perfect Halloween costume, and my nieces have been able to get some new wardrobe pieces that have come into style again, so it’s not that far-fetched. And I hate having to buy something that I know I already have, so I find myself in what I’ll call, supurgeatory.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours solo last week, though, and scored some cute tops and skirts, promising myself that I would remove at least one item per thing I purchased from my closet. It was harder than I thought…just because of that whole could-I-possibly-wear-it-again thing (see above).

My husband and I cleared out a bunch of things a couple of years ago in a joint effort to clean house. We ended up donating 8 bags between the two of us, and knew we could have probably purged more, even then. Plus, I had the nieces over to “shop” through things before making any donations, so there was even more than that. I have to get on one of those bents again. Clothing? Gone. Shoes? Adios. (Though I do love, Love, LOVE me some shoes.)

Let’s see how it goes.

Murphy’s Law

This morning, I set my alarm extra early so I could cut up some apples for my oldest’s class since we were assigned to bring the snack today. Nine apples, a bag of carrots, and eighteen zip-loc bags…shouldn’t have taken more than about ten minutes. Silly me…

I set my alarm for 6:00am, knowing full well that I probably wouldn’t get a shower in before taking her to school at 7:45. My two-year-old gets up by 6:30 at the latest, so I figured half an hour shoudl be plenty. Off went the alarm, signaling me to scoot to the kitchen.

First things first. I have three cutting boards, two of which are plastic ones that can take a tri pthrough the dishwasher, and I couldn’t find either, despite knowing that one was just removed from the dishwasher and put away within the past two days. Since this was really bothering me, I kept looking for at least one of them for several minutes, until my son came down the stair sto greet me, not a second past 6:10. My older daughter following within minutes, and still no board, hence no cutting. At least I had washed the things by this point.

To my son’s room to change his bottom and dress him for the day, and get him to start his turn of brushing teeth. Then, to have my daughter start on her teeth, and get some clothes out for her. (Thank goodness she can completely dress herself.) Did I mention that the baby woke up and wanted to eat right after the other two woek up? Yeah, that happened, too, so I went to her room next, changed, dressed, and fed her, then put her back down so I could finish brushing teeth and get things ready for school.

Back to the kitchen to get the kids breakfast.  I finally found one of the boards, after asking my husband where they were stashed (not in the usual place, and one is still missing). Everything was bagged, drinks and paper products in a bag and out to the car (not to mention the important show-and-tell bag for the day), and finally I was ready to get myself somewhat presentable. Then the baby started crying.

Blowout city. Really, baby? You were already dressed for the day, and couldn’t hold that in for any more than fifteen minutes? And you rolled over so it was all squished up the front, and all over your sheets? Awesome. Oh, and while I was rinsing poop-clothes in the sink, my husband mentioned that he had to be in for an early meeting, so couldn’t be much help. (I will say he is usually very helpful, and I’m lucky that I am afforded the opportunity to stay home to raise our children. That being said, girlfriend still stays up way too late to put in a couple of hours for my own job each night, and needs a nap. Which the kids have not been taking at all this week.) 

Long story short (or as short as it’s going to get), I managed to get myself dressed, get everyone out the door, and make it to school with minutes to spare. We actually had to wait in the lot for them to open the doors, we were that early. How did that happen?!?

A Bird in the Hand…

You know that old saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” Well, the bush is gone.

I came home from a friend’s house with my kids this morning, and noticed a new phone book up on my porch, so I darted out the garage to the front door to grab it. While I was there, I happened to noticed a small package that had been delivered next to the step.

When I say “small package,” I mean a flat mirror box weighing 41 lbs. We have had good luck with other furniture that we ordered online recently, so we ended up ordering a set for our daughter, with the first piece of the delivery being the mirror. It was scheduled for Friday, and the remainder for today, but we’re not on some sort of schedule with this, so no big thing. The big thing is the 41 pound package that was not only dropped in our landscaping, but took out half of our holly bush on the way. (Now is about when I had a replay of that youtube video of the FedEx guy throwing a computer monitor over the gate from a few weeks back.)

What the what? About a month ago, UPS delivered several large boxes and scratched our hardwood inside, but that was from pushing one of the boxes that they were being very helpful in bringing in for me (bummed about the scratched floor, but they were super nice and I would not have been able to bring those things in myself). I get one mirror from FedEx and it’s not only not visible unless I’m at the front door, but the delivery notice (that they leave on the door to let you know where they delivered something) was on said box (not helpful, since I couldn’t see the box), and I now have a BROKEN BUSH from a box that was clearly not carefully placed that had marking indicating “fragile” and “glass” aaaaalllll over it. I’m just debating whether to contact FedEx today about it, or wait until the rest of the shipment is delivered so I don’t end up with something worse than a bush that’s been snapped to pieces.

The good news? The mirror is not broken. The bad news? The mirror isn’t broken…The back of the top wood frame is a little cracked, I’m guessing from the fall, but I’m not sure that it’s enough of a problem to report damage and get a replacement from the furniture company.

Out the Door

As [almost] any parent will attest (anybody catch the Tracy Gold Celebrity Wife Swap this past week? Never late, not even once? Really?), sometimes we just can’t get out the door when we planned. This morning was a good illustration of how that happens.

Sunday mornings are reserved for a usually leisurely breakfast, reading the paper, playtime, then getting ready to head out to Noon Mass. We live exactly one mile from Church, so it should be easy. Somehow, we are still scrambling to get out the door and in the pew before the bells start ringing, and we’re usually in the pew right as Mass starts, occasionally with even a few minutes to spare. This morning, though, left us a wee bit late.

My husband bathed the kids while I changed the baby, got her dressed, and picked out the older two’s clothing and my own. Then he showered and dressed while I took care of the other two, then I head to get ready. While I’m finishing up and we’re doing the everybody-head-downstairs-roundup, we tell the oldest to go to the potty, to find that the outfit that I had her put only not even 30 minutes before had been removed to make way for dress-up clothes. The result is never as simple as just getting the other clothes on, we have to find her regular clothes among the dress-up options, which is exactly why I had them stored on a high shelf for a couple of months until a friend came to play the other day.

While we’re headed into Church on this unseasonably warm day, I noticed, since her jacket was open, that her shirt was actually on backwards. It’s a cute little gymboree number with a “necklace” that attached to buttons, but the closure buttons from the back were on the front, and the necklace was backwards. That was help from dad. She wanted to hit the bathroom before we headed in to switch it, but we were already late, so I figured no one would notice.

Otherwise, things were pretty smooth. Until I picked up the baby and she pooped through. I guess that *technically* that was smooth, too.

At least we were not the last ones in. So there’s that.

Junk in the Trunk

Nope, I’m not talking about my boo-tay, I’m talking about actual junk.

Today, I promised my daughter that I would take her to Wal-Mart to use a gift card that was given to her months ago. Before, I told her it would be a better idea to wait until after Christmas to use her “very own credit card” (as she called it) to see what she might have wanted that didn’t pan out.

Off to the store we went, full of wonder of getting pretty much whatever she wanted, as long as it totaled $15 or less. I would supplement up to a couple of bucks, but otherwise, it had to come out of her piggy, and we don’t want to do that.

She has been talking for at least a week or two about getting a Barbie car, so much so that in the store where we went first, the cashier was told that we were on our way to get a car for Barbie, using her very own gift card. Once we got there, there were aisles of marked-down toys, including Barbies that sprayed glitter, lit-up and sang, swam, sparkled, and came with play-sets, not to mention a Polly Pocket boat set that was spotted. And the garbage truck that Santa had a hard time tracking down anywhere before Christmas was at this very store for half-off of what (I’m guessing) Santa paid. Boo.

Despite having a glitter Barbie in hand, plus enough left over to get something else, we trekked up and down the regular toy department aisles in search of the Barbie car.

There is was. I was so happy that they actually had it, with the added bonus that it was within gift card range. She looked at it, said, “nah,” and continued, wide-eyed, to peruse the options available for getting (almost) anything she wanted.

“Nah?” Really? Apparently, the kicker was that it was light, not hot, pink, plus she saw “doll not included” on the box. Lalaloopsy dolls were a little out of range, but we revisited the discussion of dipping in the piggy bank and mom supplementing a little for her good performance on her responsibility chart the week before, a wild card she saved for her trip (she gets some sort of treat, piggy bank money, a piece of candy, or a small toy for reaching her goal in the week).

Further down was a Disney princess CD player, a la the Fisher-Price record players from when I was a kid. Never had one; always thought they were cool. But this just struck me as cheap, overpriced junk. It came with 3 “CDs” that amounted to nothing more than small plastic circles with a sticker on them. $14.97. So, I tried to get her to shy away from it, but she kept coming back to it, and carried it around, even while I tried to get her to take a gander at actual CD players. “I know, mom. This one won’t play real CDs, and only plays what it comes with, but I still want it.”

Fast-forward to a price-check loving little girl, a pile of no less than four Barbie dolls, three mini-Barbie playsets, the aforementioned Polly Pocket Boat, and some Barbie toothbrushes that someone left by the price scanner (that resulted in a trip to the toothbrush aisle to check those goods), and we ended up with the same junky Disney princess CD player from before.

I still think it was way over-priced, but she does really like it so far, and mentioned how easy it would be for her younger brother and sister to use when she outgrew it. A very wise 4-year-old. So we listened to all five of the 30-second clips of digital music-only Disney songs that it came with, and a small handful of other allegedly princess-y tunes that also came on the player. I don’t know why I was so averse to it, but the joy on her and her brother’s faces as they dined on PB sandwiches and raisins to fine music, then jumped on a jumpy-cushion to the same songs over and over was priceless.

I’d still have never bought the thing myself in a million years.

Number Three

My family ventured out tonight with a list of things needed for the house, namely a dresser and nightstand for our oldest. The furniture shuffle will move her dresser to the baby’s room, you know, because the sterilite drawers in there for now won’t cut it once she’s out of the bassinet, and out of our room. (PS- Said drawers are cracked, right down the side. What the what? I’m guessing that it was that way in the store when I bought it, since they’ve only been in the room for about a week, and the older two are waaaaay more interested in scattering the basket of baby toys around than exploring the world of “putting things away.”)

During the day, we went room-to-room making a list of things we need so we can pick them up when we spot something that will work, some a little more important than others. Curtains, paint, that pesky dresser…things like that. So, we leave close to dinner time, decide to eat out, and away we go.

We figured we’d hit a couple of places to check the goods before ultimately deciding to The debate is mainly should we spend a little more now, or get something for the next however many years that will probably need to be replaced. So we hit Big Lots first, only to find that the stuff was so cheap that we would probably only get a year out of it. The result? Two small bags of spicy Chex Mix and a roll of kraft paper. Nice.

Then we told the kids we’d take them to dinner. The plan was to feed the baby, head in, get something to eat, and hit the next place on our list.

I fed the baby in the car, and, long (or not so long) story short, she pooped all over my lap. I had a stain on my jeans, and a handful of baby excrement, not to mention two kids in the back who wanted to eat in. Naturally, I had removed the change of clothes from the diaper bag earlier because something leaked on them, and never replaced them. Undeterred, I undressed the baby, cleaned her up and changed her diaper, kept her socks and bib on, and headed to a drive through for din-din. (Yes, it’s not the best, but it’s such a treat for the kids because we let them have it maybe once every couple of months…)

After eating, my husband asked what I wanted to do. “We may as well head to where we were going.” She has one of those nifty zip-up car seat covers, plus a blanket…not to mention the bib, diaper and socks. As long as no one unzipped the cover, it would go unnoticed that she was nearly a naked baby. And off we went to the next place on our errand list. Thank goodness, because it takes darned near as long to corral everyone to get out the door as the amount of time we were actually out.

And so it goes with the third child.

Tales of Christmas Passed

That’s right. Passed. As in, “I’m going to pass on celebrating all twelve days of Christmas.” This, I don’t get.

Growing up, we always bought our tree on Christmas Eve (one year mom even had us return it because it was a Canadian Pine…forbidden in our house. Can you imagine, returning a [live] Christmas tree on Christmas Eve? Nevermind that, but the DQ with the tree lot took it back. And off we went to the Eagle nursery down the street for our usual last-minute pick-up). Part of the reason behind putting up the tree weeks later than most of those around us was that Santa brought it when my brother and sister were young. We also firmly believed in keeping the tree up at least through the Epiphany…still do. So, often it is creeping up on February before our tree is down.

Which brings me to my next point.  Why bother with the tree if it isn’t kept up after Christmas at all? There used to be someone two doors down from my family who would have the tree out on the curb by the time we got back from Mass on Christmas morning. Really? That strikes me as at least a little sad, that the very day being celebrated is spent tearing down evidence of the holiday. I’ve seen more than a few houses that have done this very thing over the past few years.

Though the presents that Santa brings have become a big point of Christmas, the whole reason for Christmas still remains Jesus’ birth, not just for kids, but for everyone. And the arrival of the Three Kings is a large part of the holiday, arriving (ta-daaa!) on the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6. So, despite the fact that the wrapping is on the curb (and the kids have been happily occupied with new toys all week…hope that lasts), and I spotted Valentine’s Day candy and gifts in the store today when I went grocery shopping, our house will happily have our inside and outside lights on for the next couple of weeks. Feel free to share the joy well into the New Year!🙂

Bracelet #2

Bracelet #2

I’ll call it “the sidekick,” since it was for the teacher’s assistant.

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