Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baby needs a new pair of shoes

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I've been pillaging through the kids' closets trying to figure out what they can wear that won't look like an absolute hot mess my favorite look for them for Christmas service. I think I've got it mostly narrowed down except for shoes.

Boo loves shoes. This fall she's mostly been rocking her fakie Uggs and a sweet pair of moccasins that she's got. But those are super not fancy enough for the baby Jesus. How to solve this dilemma while spending zero dollars? What to do, what to do? Do you remember the can of spray paint from the Christmas wreath tutorial? Of course you do.

So I answered to time honored question: Can you spray paint shoes?

Old pair of shoes. These were a pair of hand me downs as are 99.7% of Boo's things.

I stuffed them with plastic bags and sprayed away. Please note (mom): I did not spray paint in my kitchen. You're welcome.

Answer: Yes you can! She hasn't worn them yet, being as it's not Christmas yet.
Once we get a little wear and tear on those baddies I'll update you. Because I know you're dying to know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's not a Mompetition

I started writing this post as sort of a self-congratulatory goodbye to nursing, but somewhere in the middle of applauding myself for being so sufferingly unselfless I thought that I should just get over myself. Because here's a big secret...

It's not a mompetition.

That's right. 99.9% of all mothers I've met want the absolute best for their kids. Have you ever heard a mother say, "I only want second best for little Johnny?" No. So, why do some mothers act like every single thing that they do is better than what you do?
Oh, you nursed for six months? That's nice. I nursed for 37 years and sent hand expressed breastmilk to starving children in tsunami swept countries.

You use soy formula? Super. I use milk from goats milked by blind virgins.

You buy generic diapers? I use organic cloth diapers that I handwash and dry by spinning in circles in my backyard.

You co-sleep? Big deal! I never sleep.

Johnny can read?!? So exciting. I remember how excited I was when Sporto turned 2 and learned to read.

You get the idea.

So whether you paper diaper or cloth diaper, nurse or use formula, co-sleep or let the little bastards CIO, my hat's off to you. Because everyday you're making the absolute best choice you can.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I hate your kids

Now, before you get your knickers in a knot, let me preface that by saying I don't specifically hate your kids, I love YOUR kids (unless you were seated behind me last night at the mexican restaurant and you let your little boy stand and look over the booth and repeatedly bop my son in the head and toss a pea at us, in which case, I totally hate your kid), but, I hate them in more of a general way.

I think that my children are fairly well behaved in public (note the "in public." home is an entirely different scenario usually). They sit at in their seats in restaurants, and do not wander around. They hold the door for other patrons. They do not shout or lay on the booth. Good Lord help them if throw peas.

You might be thinking, well, aren't you lucky to have little angel babies! Hellz no.
But they know that if they act like that at a restaurant or store, there will be some serious ramifications. I am not going to take them out and beat them in the parking lot, but they know that there will be some rather unenjoyable consequence waiting for them.

I have heard parents say, "Well Johnny P is only exploring his environment. Why should he be caged in a booth?" Um, because that's what people do. And he's not a free range turkey. If, as adults, we are expected to sit at the table to eat our meal, how will your child learn to do it if it's not expected of him? When does it become expected of him?

If you let Johnny P get down, then the parents next to have a more difficult time keeping Suzy Q in her seat. Then Timmy R squiggles out of his chair and is doing penny drops from the railings at BW3s. Soon there's a whole alphabet of children milling about the restaurant, and no one is able to enjoy themselves. Once, at a restaurant I was approached by a rogue child who came up and told me, "I made poopy in the potty." Well, super duper. As a parent, I know that's awesome and I bumped her knuckles and smiled, but as a parent I also wish HER parents would have kept her in her seat so I could have a dinner that didn't involve talking about poop.

I am not a bad person, nor am I mean to kids. If your kid is in front of me in line at the grocery store, I might play peek a boo with him. Or if he's spazzing out, I might offer you a tiny packet of goldfish crackers so you can appease the angry beast. But while it seems A-OK with society for me to offer you those things, you might be less pleased with other things that I do.

I correct other people's children. GASP! That's right, I do. In the situation above, where little pea-throwing Jo-Jo was making my family's dinner unpleasant, I politely asked him to sit down. And when that didn't work, I used my mommy voice and told him to "turn around and sit down." I got an ugly look from his mother, but at least we got to eat in peace. If we're at the park and some kid kicks sand, guess what? I'm going to tell the little hellion, "We don't kick sand." And, if it's my little hellion, I expect you to do the same. There was a time when kids had to be responsible for their behavior in front of ALL adults, not just their own parents.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then why can't that village tell the child to sit down and shut up?Do you correct other people's children? Would you be offended if somebody corrected your children?
I didn't have a picture of my kids behaving or misbehaving in public. So I just put this one of the baby misbehaving at home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Wreath Tutorial

I bought a wreath at Michael's several months ago with no real specific purpose in mind. It was on clearance and I am a sucker. I also bought a can of silver spray paint, also on clearance. At the time, these two items were unrelated.

The aforementioned wreath.

Until today.
You will need:
A twiggy wreath
Spray paint
Felt or other fabric
Needle and thread or glue
Hot glue gun and glue

Spray paint is known to cause birth defects in California. Thank goodness I live in Wisconsin so I don't have to worry about that. But, you should probably spray paint your wreath outside, or at least not on your hardwood floors (don't worry, it came off. mostly).

Now we're going to make some festive felt flowers to attach to the wreath. This is a little difficult to explain, but I'll do my best. Because that's really all I can do.

Fold a length of felt in half. This piece was 12 inches long and about 2.5 inches deep.

Fold the end in on itself a small amount. Make a little wad out of the felt. It doesn't matter too much what it looks like.
You then flip and twist the long end of the felt around the small inner part. I realize that is incredibly vague. You are wrapping the long tail end of the felt around the base, and twisting it at the same time. In your head you will be saying (or at least I do), "Flip, twist, flip, twist." It is not a science, but the more you do it, the better you will get at it.
When you are finished, you will have a fabulous little flower like this. Secure your flowers by sewing up through the bottom of the flower and back down in a crevice or very close to the original spot you brought your needle up in. Alternately, you could secure with glue as you make the flower.

Repeat until you have as many flowers as you want. Use different colors for variety and different widths of felt in order to achieve different sized flowers.

I made five because I wanted an odd number (OCD will not allow an even amount of flowers) and three wasn't cutting it, yet seven was too many.
I made some red ones to add to the festiveness of the wreath. And because I ran out of the off-white.
In hindsight, it probably could have handled seven flowers.

Hot glue gun those flowers to your wreath and you're done. It took me like 20 minutes to do this whole thing. Not including the time that it took to look for the hot glue gun and curse my husband for hiding the glue gun IN THE GLUE GUN BOX. Seriously, who does that?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Woo hoo!

I don't think that I have ever been more proud. Well, of somebody who didn't actually grow inside my uterus. Because, let's face it, I've been pretty proud of things my kids have done..walked, pooped in the potty, learned to read, etc, etc.

But this? I don't even have to be proud of this one. We're not blood kin.

That's my manfriend getting his degree. Isn't he sexy? My kids didn't recognize him because he took his glasses off.
Seriously? That's all it takes to fool you? I'm cutting my hair or something so I can hide.
But this feels amazing.

This dude was the keynote speaker. He's a Packer. I don't remember which one. He gave a speech
that emphasized the 3 Ps of something. It made my middlest need to go pee right in the middle
of said speech. So I left my oldest with a stranger and did the ol' butt in your face dance down the row to take
him to the potty.
It was me and my three kids in the auditorium for three hours. Not gonna lie. I wanted to walk out, but nothing was
going to keep me from seeing my manfriend walk across that stage. There was blood, sweat, and tears. And a
lot of crackers. But we made it through.

It took two and a half years, all of our savings, and all of my patience and understanding. There were times when the kids and I went days without seeing him as he rotated between his (unpaid) internship, classes, part-time job, side jobs, and his position as a volunteer firefighter.

There were times when I was so frustrated and angry with him for being gone, and felt like we couldn't go another day.
He's the one with the glasses. He apparently didn't get the memo about wearing his helmet.
But we just kept going on. Sometimes the mortgage was late. Some bills went unpaid. We ate a lot of pasta and a lot of beans. We did without. We borrowed a lot that we will probably spend the rest of our lives paying back. We gambled on our future. And I can honestly say that it's been a struggle every. single. day. of the last two and a half years.

So proud of that man.

But now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, boy, is it bright.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Felt Garland Tutorial

Felt is hot. I mean, not physically hot, but it's everywhere in the DIY world. I guess if you lit it on fire it would be hot. It probably burns really well. But that's neither here nor there.

Here's my take on a felt garland. I used holiday colors, but you could totally do it with nursery colors or a birthday theme. Whatevs. This project was really easy. You could even do it without sewing if you have a hot glue gun or some craft glue. Hell, even Elmers would probably work.

You need:
  • felt (two sheets of each color. I used red, while, and green)
  • two circles to trace (I used one 2.5 inch in diameter, and one 2 inch in diameter)
  • scissors
  • about a foot of ribbon if you're sewing your garland, about six feet if you're gluing
  • various sewing tools (or glue)
Here's my circles.
Trace your circles on the felt. You'll need twelve of each color, each size (so that's 24 of each color, got it?). I found that twelve of the large circle fit on one sheet of felt, whereas I only needed half a sheet for the smaller circles. Cut those bad boys out.
Once you have them all cut out, lay the larger circles out in a line. Do it in a manner that pleases you. I went in a pattern, red, white, green because I knew it would tickle my OCD bone if two of the same color touched, but if that doesn't bug you, go nuts. Then, lay the smaller circles on top of the larger, again in a manner pleasing to your aesthetic.
I ended up with a lovely long line of circles.
Then stack them up in order. Like this:

This kind of makes me want pizza.

I then chain sewed the circles together. Like this:
I've got the smaller circle on top of the larger and I'm just sewing them together.
When I get to the end of one set of circles, I just grab another off my stack
and sew it on creating a chain.
When you have all your circles sewn into a chain, sew your ribbon to the end.

If you didn't want to sew this, you could glue each smaller circle onto a larger circle and then glue that circle sandwich to a longer strand of ribbon. Same basic principle.

Then hang them up and revel in your awesomeness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh no she didn't.

The baby really likes to help. Unfortunately, her help is...less than stellar most days.

For instance, often when I am in the kitchen and she is happily destroying the living room, she will overhear me open the dishwasher and come running. After several attempts to touch the knives and repeatedly banging the dishwasher door into my shins, I will give her a sippy cup to put in "her" cupboard (a small stand-alone bakers' table with all the baby crap in it). She will scamper off and return with several more cups from the aforementioned cupboard. I take most away and she scampers away again only to return with a JAR OF GLITTER. She clearly does clearly not understand "being helpful."

Another for instance, when I am vacuuming, she will pick up an object, like string or cookie crumb, and wait until I'm done vacuuming and then throw it on the floor. Hmmm. I'm starting to feel like she knows what she's doing.

Today, I was attempting to workout and work off those last few baby pounds. Like, those last 20 or so. Boo was supposed to be taking a nap. Instead she screamed and threw herself about until I was forced to go and get her. She played nicely for a few minutes, cruising around on her walker-come-scooting toy, until she scooted over to me, stood up and squeezed my belly fat.

Nicely played, baby.

Monday, October 31, 2011

She's literally wearing a poppy smock!

Sure, I enjoy being incredibly frugal and barely scraping by as much as the next guy, but sometimes it just feels good to be frivolous. Like using three pilfered Taco Bell hot sauces on my burrito instead of two, using actual bubble bath instead of dish soap in the kids' bath (what? it totally gets them squeaky clean), or turning the heat on before November 1st...but I went a little crazy this time.

I made my daughter a linen dress. So, some of you may be thinking what's so crazy about that? And, really? Three TB packets? That's excessive.

Let's discuss the impracticality of linen for a moment. It wrinkles like crazy. A second in the car seat? Wrinkled. Sliding around on the floor pretending to be a snake? Wrinkled. And because of said wrinkling it really should be ironed after washing. But, in reality, I have three kids so very little gets ironed. And I like things spicy, so yes, 3 packets. But I had a yard of soft, red linen just begging to be made into a dress for my little boo. I used a vintage pattern from my stash (it's a bit of an addiction really) and made this:
I liked it but it was really missing something. Some sort of...zing! So I painted it. I've been following this amazing blog No big dill for a few years and admire her creativity. I also love the way she embroiders "no big dill" on a lot of her daughters' clothing. It really fancies things up. She also painted a dress (couldn't find the precise post) for one of her girls. So I totally stole the idea. And I LOVE it.

I dragged the kids out for a photo shoot. Well, boo had a photo shoot and the boys mostly threw rocks at each other and bickered about whether we should have french toast or pizza for dinner.
OMG. Those chubby little fingers.
I painted poppies on it. It's literally a poppysmock. Rad, no?
I wanted to name my baby Penelope just so I could call her Poppy.
But instead we named her after my manfriend's grandma.
Isn't she a peach?
I love this teal wall with her red dress. She loved the dandelion.

What? It's fiber.
Enough, Old Lady.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To my Neice on her Sixteenth Birthday

I'd like to give you the world, or a car, or a smooth hundred dollar bill, but most of all, I would like to give you the ability to see clearly.

I want you to see how incredibly amazing you are. You are unique of spirit and heart. You are filled with grace and drive in a way that is uncommon among adults, let alone girls becoming women.

I want you to look in the mirror and see clearly what a beautiful creature you are. You are an individual with style and taste and there is no reason to look like the other girls when how YOU look is perfect. I want you to like what you see. I want you to LOVE what you see. I want you to see what I see...

I'd love to be able to give you the ability to see clearly the obstacles in your path so that you may make the wisest choices and avoid unforeseen hurts along the way. See men that may hurt you, and walk away from them. See friends who don't wish you well, and walk away from them. See what it is you want and walk up to it and find a way to get it.

I want you to see the choices before you and choose with gusto. See that there isn't always a RIGHT or a WRONG choice, but just a choice. Whatever choice you make, make it boldly and with zest. Be your own best advocate and not your own worst critic.

See in you what everyone else sees.

Love you,
Do you remember your sixteenth birthday? What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Because I love you. And they were free.

OMG. I googled Sweetest Day just to confirm that it was, in fact, a made up holiday and this is what I got.
But mostly because I love you.

In honor of Sweetest Day (which is totally a made-up holiday in which you're supposed to buy things for your lover) I gave my manfriend 9 scratch-off coupon cards from the grocery store. I know! I'm a giver at heart. I didn't even scratch them off first. In return, he let me go watch Dancing with the Stars at a friend's house. Because that's the kind of love that we have for each other.

I don't even know if he won on the scratch-offs, but that would totally be like him. Just to prove his love, you know? And I suppose a little bit because of luck.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cut Chenille Baby Blanket

Sometimes I make things to sell or give away and it takes all my power to actually put it in the mailing envelope and take it to the post office. This was one of those projects.

The blanket is made with a Art Gallery fabric that I purchased back when I made Boo's bedding. (We try not to call her Big Baby anymore because her brothers started calling her that and we felt it might be detrimental to her self-esteem later in life.) I purchased just a yard of it thinking that I would make a blanket or something to go with the crib, skirt, bumpers, duvet cover, and sheets. But after all of that I was just done sewing for awhile. I've lost the fabric in my stash a few times, but when it resurfaced I knew what it needed to be made into. This gorgeous cut chenille baby blanket.

The process is time consuming and labor intensive, but not particularly challenging. I used a tutorial found at Aesthetic Nest, only I don't have a chenille cutter. So I just used scissors, but taped over the tip of the bottom blade so I didn't accidentally poke through the printed layer.

The project essentially involves sandwiching layers of fabric together, then quilting them together with miles of straight stitches on the bias.

Then you flip that bad boy over and cut through all but one of the layers to create the "chenille." Add some blanket binding, wash it up, and you're done.

Boo loved it and of course it matched her bedding perfectly...but this one's shipping out today. Sigh.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy Vegetarian Lasagne

This is my go-to meal that I take to friends and relatives when they have a new baby. It's delicious, it's easy for me to make and mom to heat, and it's vaguely good for you. Pair it with some garlic bread and you're good to go. I brought it to my cousin-in-law (is that really a term?) when she had her baby awhile back and her mom has been gushing over it and asking for the recipe ever since. Since I'm super on top of things I'm going to get that right to her. It's only been 20 months or so. No big.

P.S. I totally cheat and use a jar of spaghetti sauce. Ragu actually because it's crazy cheap and delicious. And no one will know unless you tell them. Or write a blog about it.

16 lasagne noodles
4 ounces of fresh spinach, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 small onion
16 ounces of ricotta
4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 jar of spaghetti sauce of your choice

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water.
2. Saute onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts in olive oil until onion is see through. About 5 minutes.
3. Spray bottom of 9x13 pan so your lasagne comes out smoothly later.

4. Layer noodles, sauce, cooked veggies, chopped spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella. I use my hands to spread out the ricotta because it's sticky.
I left out the artichokes because there's no way Thing 1 would eat that.

5. Repeat. Each layer uses four noodles. When you run out of noodles, you're mostly done.
6. Top the lasagne off with a little bit of sauce and mozzarella. I find it hard to ration appropriately for the topmost layer and sometimes we don't get any goodness up there. Sad face.

7. Cover with tinfoil and cook at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove tinfoil and cook for 5 minutes.

Super yum. AND miracle of miracles, everyone ate it. Even Thing 1 who is super picky.