Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things My Two-Year-Old Taught Me: Part III

It is spring break for area teachers, so K is home with her mommy and next week, K is home with her Daddy!  Fun for them, and fun for us!  We all love playing together, but it’s bug does like to have his mommy and sister all to himself!  
I have often wondered if anything I say gets through to my son.  I feel as if I am talking to myself... why must I repeat the rules?  Why does he continue to throw his toys and scream when he’s upset?  Am I simply giving him pointers and wisdom for my own benefit and not his?
Today I had bug and mini downstairs while I went to get them clothes to wear.  I could hear mini crying, but as it was the “pay attention to me” cry and not the “I think I’m going to die” cry, I decided to continue grabbing clothes before running back downstairs.  As I was coming back, the absolute most adorable sounds met my ears.  
“It ok, it ok.  Don’t cry!  What’s the matter?” bug crooned quietly to his baby sister.  “what’s wrong?  You’re fine!”  he told her softly.  I entered the room and saw him holding her hand, using the calming words he has so often heard mr and me repeating.
So he does listen.
More proof positive?  Later on, while running quickly through the grocery store, (grabbing those forgotten items) I tossed a bag of rolls in the back of the cart.  I was in a hurry and I grabbed them from the shelf and threw, without stopping the cart or missing a beat.  bug looked at the rolls, then back at me, with wide eyes.  
“Mommy, threw those.” he said, matter-of-factly.  I was distracted.  “Hmmm?  Yep.  I did.”  “Mommy throw things.  Mommy stand in the corner.”  He said accusatorially.  This got my attention.  “You’re right, bug.  We don’t throw things.  I should have set it nicely in the cart.”  He nodded, “Yeah.  Mommy hand it to the cart, don’t throw.”
So I guess some things are getting through.  And even now, as I listen to him rant at one of his toys that is not doing what he wants it to, saying alternately “darn it” and “doggone it”  I am realizing that they do listen.  
They are listening when you think they aren’t.  Heck, they are listening even when you don’t want them to be!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why I will not be posting for almost a week

P.S. I know I should not leave two two-year-olds alone in the same room with a computer, but it was only for the amount of time it took me to go upstairs and come back down, i.e. about 2 seconds.  Have I learned my lesson?  Yes.  You will hear from me again in about a week.  Hopefully.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I got my sister a cookie tin for her birthday.

Here it is.  My sister’s birthday present.  It’s empty, too.  No cookies.  Now before you start thinking what a horrible sister I am, let me show you what it looked like when I gave it to her:

So, really, I gave her an altered cookie tin, not just a cookie tin.  And although it had no cookies in it when I gave it to her, it wasn’t empty either.  It’s actually a mini scrapbook album.  In the interest of frugality, I have decided to make all presents I’m giving away this year.  (If you are a family member or friend, this news may disappoint you.)
I’ve been kind of obsessed with the idea of altering objects into mini albums for a while.  I’ve seen altered match books where they are little flip-books of people’s kids or pets, with teeny tiny little pictures, or altered metal lunch boxes with pictures separated into categories using the alphabet organizers from recipe boxes.  Anyway, there are so many things you can do to create unique albums.  I had two of these little cookie tins leftover from Christmas.  It seemed such a waste to throw them away, so I kept them, thinking I would find a good use for them at some point.  And then it came to me.  An accordion album folded up and attached to the inside so when you open it, the accordion opens.  

A How-To:
(Just click to enlarge)

When I decided this is what I wanted to give my sister, I had to come up with a theme that she’d like.  I figured that anything including my niece would be a sure winner.  The shape of the tin naturally lent itself to the title of the album, “You are my Sunshine.”  Each page in the album represents a month of K, so there are 24 pages for her two years.
I traced out 28 circles.  (The extra circles are for the first and last page which I was planning on leaving blank so i could attach them to the tin).  At this point I would like to tell you that for someone who failed cutting and pasting in kindergarten, cutting out 28 circles and pasting them together to make 14 double-sided circles wasn’t the easiest feat.  I won’t do this again.  (If I make it again, I’m borrowing my sister’s cricut and die-cutting the circles.)  I originally thought it would work like this:  

I made half the circles with little tags and glued the tag of one circle to the next.  Then they started ripping and tearing, which made me cry a little inside.  So I came up with this solution:    

I hot glued bits of ribbon between each circle.  Then I used permanent white glue to glue circles on the back of each original circle, sandwiching the ribbons in the middle and masking the frayed edges.  (Although I have learned now that all you have to do to stop ribbons from fraying is take a lighter to them!)  
***This is where I stop and give you the most important advice you will ever get.  Be sure to triple, no, no, QUADRUPLE check the fit of the circles BEFORE you glue the ribbon and circles on.  See, my downfall?  I only single checked.  And the whole lot of them fit in a neat stack inside the tin.  But, with that little bit of ribbon added, they no longer fit.  At this point, I cried a little inside and outside.  But only a little.  So give yourself a little wiggle room with the fit, too.  I had to go back and trim the circles, which would have been easy to do if a) I hadn’t failed cutting and pasting, and b) I hadn’t already glued the darn ribbons on.  I had to trim AROUND the ribbons, which turned the circles into little football shapes.  mr would appreciate this - and if the album had been for him, I wouldn’t have cried at all.  I think I would have felt it a fortuitous mistake.  But it wasn’t for him.  I decided not to worry too much, knowing my sister would forgive my little blunders.  After all, she knows me pretty well.
Anyway, at that point I had fun embellishing the 14 circles, front and back - the front for the first year and the back for the second year.  I tried to use mostly flat items that weren’t adding a lot of bulk because I knew that the tin was only so deep.  I used coordinating scrapbook paper, ribbon, buttons, stickers, and some dimensional flowers.  When I tested the fit in the tin, I realized I’d had a little too much fun because the lid wouldn’t close and I had to go back and rip some of the embellishments off and cover up the flaws as best I could so I could squish it all in the container.  
I printed out pictures of K, size 2x3 so they would fit nicely in the circles.  I put them in chronological order on the circles (using my glue runner, I love that thing).  Some circles ended up with two pictures and I varied the angles, overlaps, etc. so it was random and not symmetrical or contrived.  I left the first and last circles photo-less.  I trimmed off excess photos and embellishments, and voila!  

Now came the task of figuring out how to attach the album to the tin.  First, I poked a hole in the center of the lid and the center of the first circle.  I attached this first circle (which had no photos, remember, but was embellished) to the inside of the lid using hot glue and a brad.  Then I poked a hole in the last circle and the bottom of the tin.  I attached the circle to the tin using hot glue and a brad but this part was much more difficult than the first circle had been because of the angle and the rest of the circles kept getting in the way... When I was done, I was convinced I had attached the last circle backwards, messing up the accordion fold.  Part of me died.  I ripped it out, fixed the embellishments, and put it back together the right way.  When I folded it all up, I realized I had done it right in the first place.  Now part of me wanted to kill the dumb project.  I ripped it out again, fixed it again and put it back together - the REAL right way - again.
Then, I decorated the outside.  I hot glued ribbon around the bottom of the tin, avoiding the area where the lid overlapped the bottom.  Then I painted the letters, decorated the top with paper, ribbon for the sun’s rays and buttons and glued the letters on.  Presto!  Cookie tin album du jour!  I was so excited I gave it to her early.
(just click to enlarge)

So, lesson #301:  Don’t get sloppy.  You don’t want to end up lopsided, glued to the spot all willy-nilly.  But, never fear.  A little embellishment can cover any flaw.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm not Irish.

well, maybe the tip of my pinky is, if you go back far enough along the roots of the tree...  but, I wouldn’t consider myself Irish.  St. Patrick’s Day has always made me feel a little left out.  A) not Irish. B) don’t drink alcohol.  And there you go - the only reasons to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day up in smoke.
I didn’t even wear green on the 17th. (I’m admitting this after the fact, so none of you can go and pinch me now... I didn’t even know about that pinching thing until this year...)  However, when my mom requested the recipe below, I decided that I would make it this week in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  (Yes, I know it’s belated, but that’s often the case with me...)
So, here it is: Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie

OK, no, that’s not my Shepherd’s Pie.  Apparently that is what this recipe is SUPPOSED to look like.  Mine didn’t.  Mine looked like this:

Not quite as appetizing.
My big flaw here is that I thought I had more potatoes on hand to make into homemade mashed potatoes.  I figured homemade mashed are so much better than the flakes... but when I started cutting them up to boil them, I saw there just weren’t that many left in the cupboard.  Plus, after I did mash them up they were very sticky - unlike any mashed potatoes I have ever made before, so it was hard to layer them over the top.  Mom said this was due to the starch content (apparently the starchier the potato, the stickier, who knew?).  Side note: kudos to mr. for doing the actual mashing for me!
The only thing I did differently than the recipe is use beef stock instead of chicken stock (on accident.  In the ingredients it lists “stock” but doesn’t specify.  I figured since it was a beef dish, you would use beef stock.  I guess you shouldn’t make assumptions!)  But even with the beef stock, the gravy was really good - thick and meaty.  Next time I will be careful about the potatoes I use, but that’s the only change I’ll make.
For a side I did something of my own creation.  

I took crescent rolls, laid them out, brushed them with olive oil combined with fresh basil, put a few cherry tomatoes on, sprinkled with mozzarella cheese, rolled them up, sprinkled the top with a bit more olive oil and basil and cheese, then baked at 350 for 15 minutes.  They were pretty good - kind of an easy more pastry-like take on bruschetta toasts.

And then the grand finale - my favorite part of the night, of course.  The dessert.  Buttermilk Pie.  If you have not tried this, you must.  When mr. and I lived in Utah, we would get buttermilk pie for a treat from one of our favorite restaurants.  When I saw buttermilk pie in Martha Stewart a few weeks ago, I had to try it out.  It was NOT what we remembered and though my parents liked it, we were disappointed.  So, I was determined to find a better recipe that was more like the one we remembered.  I found this one on Recipezaar and am so grateful for the guy who posted it!  It was phenomenal.  It was nice and crisp on top and smooth and creamy in the middle!  I served mine with raspberries in their juice and homemade whipped cream.  (If you don’t know how to whip your own cream, you can see my post here.  It’s ridiculously easy).  

(Don't cringe at the amount of butter and sugar... I know you are.   It's not everyday you make a pie like this!)  You could do what we did and click on both links, make both pies and compare.  Or you could just trust me on this one and make the recipezaar version.  

This pie recipe is definitely going in the Mueller cookbook.  You know, it’s a good thing I only make dessert once a week.  As it is, it’s a wonder I’m not 600 pounds!
In short, try the shepherd’s pie if you’re Irish, like meat and gravy, or have some decent potatoes laying around that you’re wondering what to do with.  And try the buttermilk pie if you eat.  Seriously.  Try it.

Here is bug, enjoying his pie and especially his "razbees."  When I set the shepherd's pie on the table he said, "Oooh, cake!"  and then when we dished it up for him he said, "beef cake!"  So shepherd's pie is officially called Beef Cake in our house...

Monday, March 22, 2010

True Story.

**important note: the main floor of my house, where most of the action occurs, is all one room even though I refer to it as a living room, dining area, etc.  It’s only sectioned off by furniture.  Plus, I do have gates on all the stairs and the typical toddler proofing devices on cupboards and such.  This is important to the story because I don’t want you to think I am a neglectful, horrible mother or caregiver (read on and you will understand...)

Although K arrives at about 6:50, the chaos really begins about an hour later, around 8.  That’s when bug wakes up.  Actually, for some inexplicable reason, bug and mini get up at about the same time every day.  Inevitably, as soon as I hear bug talking and singing loudly in his crib (yes, he is still in a crib.  I know we must make the switch soon, I’m just afraid of loosing the whole night’s sleep instead of the few hours I lose currently), mini also starts to cry.  I run in, grab bug out of bed, and put him in his high chair with some cereal.  I run upstairs again, grab mini and some clothes I set out the night before for both her and bug, run back downstairs and by this time, K has (in fits of ecstatic enthusiasm at seeing her cousin again) flung the flash cards all over the floor, tossed bug’s hats out of the cubbies by the door, rummaged through the front closet and is now running laps wearing my red heels.  (This has taken her a total of the point 4 seconds that passed while I was lifting mini from her crib and picking up the clothes.)
I calm K down with her sippy and a snack, then feed and change mini into her clothes for the day, leaving her on her blanket with a toy.  By this time, bug is yelling that he is all done and wants to get down.  He has dumped the leftover milk from his cereal all over his highchair tray and thrown the bowl and spoon across the dining area.  He is wearing most of his breakfast.  I give him a quick wipe down and herd the kids together into the living room area where I can start the first round of changing diapers, wiping snotty noses (and foreheads, eyelashes, mouths, arms, hair - basically anywhere snot can stick) and get bug dressed.  With all three kids finally out of jammies and into normal clothing, we can start the big task of the day: grocery shopping.  
I tell the 2’s to get their coats and shoes.  This is when I notice that mini has erupted out of her diaper.  And I mean erupted.  Poo is everywhere - down both legs to the ankles, up her front, up her back - anywhere there was a hole in the diaper.  I strip her down while the kids play and plop her in the kitchen sink (where I have started keeping baby wash for occasions such as this).  She’s now clean, but naked.  I run upstairs with her, grab some other (less cute) clothes (less cute because I have two seconds due to the other children running wild, instead of the ridiculously long time it takes me to decide what she should wear the night before...) and run back downstairs, where bug is now howling because K won’t share her snack.  K starts howling because bug is chasing her and mini begins howling just to howl (probably because she is cold).
After calming down the masses, we go back to the task of leaving for the grocery store.  At this point I find that K has stripped off her socks and they are nowhere to be found.  I send the 2’s on a hunt for socks.  When they are finally located (at the bottom of the stairs, where bug had thrown them during my two second absence) I redress everyone who needs it and get shoes and appropriate outdoor clothing on and head out to the car.  Finally.  
In the parking lot of the store, I try to find a spot close to a cart station so I can load the kids into a cart, wheel them into the store and then transfer to a bigger cart... but no such luck - the carts have all been taken inside.  So, I get bug and K out of their seats and we unload the baby.  With the baby seat in one hand, bouncing around against my leg, I grip one of bug’s hands and one of K’s hands in my other hand and begin the straggling shuffle to the door.
Once inside, I strap the kids to the cart and only then realize I have forgotten my wallet at home.
Back to the car, back in the car seats, back on the highway, back in the garage... I run inside, grab my wallet and book it back to the store.  There is a window of opportunity here when no one is crabby from hunger or sleep and I must grab hold.
Back at the store, I repeat my steps until we are all loaded into the cart, wallet in pocket.  Barely through the door of the grocery store, K and bug have made a game of screaming.  They take turns shrieking, each one increasing in volume and intensity, laughing with every other breath.  Taking advice from “The Experts,” I am ignoring them.  
I push the cart, eyes straight ahead, trying to avoid the stares, telling myself they just want attention and willing myself not to give it to them.  Finally, when my ear drums begin to quiver on the verge of bursting, I snap.  I pull the cart over, bend down to their level and explain in my sweetest mommy voice that we do not scream like that inside, especially in public places.  Besides, they are scaring mini and that’s not nice, is it?  They smile little angelic smiles at me.  I smile back.  Start pushing the cart again.  Take that, Experts, I think smugly, you CAN reason with a two year old!  The quiet lasts all of two seconds.  This time, the screams gain in intensity much more quickly than before and I’ve had it with the game.  I stop the cart, bend down and say in my firmest, no-nonsense mommy voice, “That’s enough.” They look at me seriously.  Stop screaming.  I go back to pushing.  It lasts a bit longer this time, maybe 10 seconds, before the screaming starts again.  I’m on my final straw.  One can only be patient and understanding for so long.  I’ve asked them again and again...  And so I break.  I stop the cart, squat in front of them and pull out the big guns.  “Do you want french fries?”  I ask.  Well, they are all about that.  “If you stop screaming and act nicely we will get french fries on the way home.  But only if you are good.”  The bribe.  I use it.  I admit it.  It’s the only thing that really gets their attention, and it works.
Pushing the cart down the main aisle, I reach into my pocket for the grocery list... which is hanging on the fridge at home.  
Unable to do anything but laugh at this point, I decide to shop by memory instead of giving the whole thing up as lost.  Things go pretty well - aside from the occasional hitting, kicking and hair pulling for which I have to stop the cart and re-warn the 2’s that if we’re naughty we can’t go to McDonald’s - until we make it to the cracker aisle and bug insists that he must have animal crackers, now.  No, he cannot wait until we are done, no he cannot eat the fruit snacks I brought with me in the diaper bag.  He wants a particular box of animal crackers, he wants to pick them out himself and he wants them now.  I never thought I would be one of those moms who gives in to her child’s every whim (and I still hope I’m not...) but this one time, I break.  Here have the animal crackers.  Heck, I’ll buy you a whole live CIRCUS if you just settle down.
And that is when mini has a meltdown.  She cannot handle it anymore.  The stress of being a perfect baby, the smiling, the cooing, the incessant oogling of strangers... how much pressure can one little princess take?  Not much, apparently, and she has to let me know.  I scramble around, looking for her pacifier.  I search the diaper bag, I search my pockets, I search BUG’S pockets.  I turn the diaper bag upside down.  It has disappeared forever.  I make funny faces, I sing songs, I do everything that makes people with babies look ridiculous.  Finally, I high tail it to the baby aisle, grab a package of pacifiers and rip them open, stuffing one in her mouth.  She quiets immediately and starts smiling and cooing at me - the pacifier falling to the side, ignored.  
Later, heading for the check-outs, I am relieved, nay ecstatic, to be done.  This is when bug says sweetly, “I take my shoes off!”  “No, no, bug, leave your shoes on,” I say absently, looking down at him.  What he meant to say?  “I TOOK my shoes off.  And then I dropped them.  And now they are somewhere in this gigantic store, alone and making a bid for freedom.”  
Turning around, I begin the arduous process of retracing my steps throughout the entire superstore.  If I were bug’s shoe where would I be?  I ask myself.  And I answer myself, “On bug’s foot, where I’m supposed to be, gosh darn it.”  “Shoe, where are you?”  I ask quietly of myself.  This prompts first bug, then K to begin calling out, “Shoe! Shoe! Where are you?”  (And I have to admit, amongst it all, I laugh at this...)
Find the shoes.  Amazingly.  Shockingly.  Actually, they aren’t that far away, in the produce department, lazing about among the tomatoes.  I put the shoes on his feet, pleading with him to keep them on this time.  
Through the check out line... in my mind I urge the cashier to hurry, HURRY for the love of Pete!  I can see light at the end of the tunnel and all I have to do now is make it back to my car!  bug is pushing buttons on the debit card machine and K is begging for gum...  mini is asleep, which means she is going to be MA-AD when I take her out of her seat at home.... oh, please, just shove them in a bag, no, no, I don’t care if fabric softener is in with the bread just toss it all together!  Bananas are PLU 4011, 4011, for crying out loud!  You type it everyday, 4011!  Do you HAVE to look that up?  No price tag??  No price tag???  Forget it, I didn’t want the socks, anyway.  Remain in control... I begin my mantra, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok...” (It’s not much of a mantra, I know, but if it can get me through labor it can get me through this...) And we’re done!
Back to the car, I’m rushing, rushing.  Load the kids, load the bags, start for home... “buckow up?”  K asks, utter terror in her voice.  Smart girl.  She won’t ride with me without her seat belt on.  I pull to the side of the parking lot, jump out, buckle her up, check the other kids, jump back in.
I cannot bring myself to repeat the experience all over again, so I go through the drive-thru instead of hauling everyone inside for the promised fries.  

Back at home, I’m coaxing the 2’s to eat while feeding mini after having wrangled everyone into the house.  A few more bribes and some ketchup stains later, the 2’s are done and it is high time for a nap.  
In the piece and quiet of the late afternoon, I think I might sleep too.  If mini will let me.
Later, when mr gets home he peeks into the fridge.  “Didn’t you go shopping today?” he asks innocently.  I look at him incredulously.  Did I go shopping?  Did I go shopping???
Oh...I forgot the groceries in the car.  
I think I left my sanity back at the store.
This is not an exaggeration.  It’s just Monday.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Even hopeless optimists have bad days.

Aren’t these shoes the cutest ever?  I have to put a plug in for my mom here, she made them for mini and I think they are adorable.  So adorable that I decided she needed a whole outfit to go with them!

I bought this black onesie at walmart - it was only a dollar!  

Probably because it isn’t New Year’s anymore.  And it’s kind of ugly, to be honest.  But it’s actually difficult to find black baby clothes... and I thought that with some changes this could be perfect for the leopard outfit.
My plan was to follow the idea of the original onesie.  I would make it a ruffled tuxedo top, with leopard material to cover the pink printing.  Easy enough in theory.  (Every time I start a project like this, I think to myself, this is going to be so easy, I won’t be able to expose all of my mistakes to the world!  I really should stop thinking this.)  
I do not have a serger.  I didn’t want the edges of the strips of leopard print material to fray, so after I cut them into strips, I folded the edges over, and then sewed a basting strip down the middle.  When I was done doing this with all the strips, I started pulling the bobbin thread to gather the strips up into the ruffle.  That is when the trouble began.  The threads just kept breaking.  One after the other... I would set one aside to re-bast, and the next one would break, and the next, and the next... The first lesson I learned here is that I will never again try to gather up 3 layers of fabric into one ruffle.  The second, and probably more important lesson, is to never buy thread at St. Vinny’s.  St. Vinny’s is usually good for toys, sometimes furniture, sometimes clothes but NEVER thread.  Someone got rid of this thread for a reason.  
So, after changing my thread out, I re-basted and re-ruffled each strip at least three times.  When they were finally all gathered, I pinned them onto the onesie in the tuxedo shape, starting with the longest one in the middle.  It took some shimmying to cover up all the pink beneath, and some is still visible (which bothers me... but everyone else says it isn’t noticeable).  Then came the task of sewing the ruffles on.  It’s a straight stitch down the middle of each strip.  Probably even easier than basting and gathering, right?  Pretty basic, right?  Yep.
So I got right to work, and after my third strip, proceeded to sew the ruffle to not only the front of the shirt, but the BACK of the shirt as well.   
I didn’t realize this at first, but when I did -  I was ready to throw in the towel.  I got out the trusty seam ripper and detached the back from the front.  Of course, in doing this, I put three very small holes in the cheap fabric on the back by the neckline.  Unsure of how to fix this, I went to bed.
With renewed vigor, I attacked the project once more.  I was determined not to let it get the best of me.  I safety pinned the back of the onesie down, to keep it out of the way.  I sewed on the rest of the ruffles, pulled out the basting stitches and hand sewed the little holes on the back closed.  I finished it off by adding some shiny black tuxedo-like buttons down the middle.

Well, I knew I wanted her to wear it to church, so she’d need a skirt to go with.  And a basic black skirt is a staple in any girl’s wardrobe, anyway.  So I made one out of a “Miley Cyrus” skirt ($1, Walmart!).  I didn’t have to do much to it... (wink, wink - I mean have you seen those skirts??  Not much fabric...)  I just took the waistband off and took the sides in.  It turned out kind of like a pencil skirt, which I liked because it seemed so mini-adult like.  But I don’t have a picture of that skirt in use because I lost it.  Not the picture.  The skirt.
Yes, that’s right.  I lost a skirt.  An article of clothing.  Do I do this often, you ask?  Well, the truth is that in one weekend I lost not only this skirt, but my cell phone, my credit card and $100.  (I found the $100 finally, though, so that’s good)  Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that yes, I am slightly on the forgetful side.  I forget to turn my hair straightener off.  I forget where I put my keys.  I forget to call people back.  My excuse is having too much on my mind at all times, so it’s hard to focus on any one thing.  
So, last night, I searched through my pile of "clothing to be recycled into something better" for something black that I could quickly turn into a skirt for church today.  I found a shirt of mine that had seen much better days.  What I liked about using this for the skirt was how soft it was.  It was a bit hard to work with because it was so stretchy; I had to keep stopping myself from pulling it while I sewed.  

I cut out a skirt shape, using the hem of the shirt so I could skip that step on the skirt.  (Actually this step wasn't even all that straightforward.  I just about took my finger off with a rotary cutter.  Those things are a little scary.)  I put in some elastic.  Then I used the arm of the shirt to cut into strips.  I used these strips for the trim along the hem, which is just folded in an overlapping pattern and tacked down.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but it’s a little long, so I will have to fix that.  The only rough spot was at the beginning, when I started sewing.  I couldn’t figure out why the machine kept jamming.  Then I thought back to the ruffle dress and checked to make sure the machine was threaded properly.  Nope.  (I do generally learn from my mistakes!)
I wouldn’t normally put her in a leopard bow on top of everything else, but I just couldn’t resist today.  I mean, if anyone can pull it off, she can!

Lesson from this project?  Don’t get over confident.  When you do, you sew your back to your front and lose your skirt completely.  

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Snowing.

Well, no playing at the park in our t-shirts today!  Way too cold.  We stayed inside and made vases for our coffee filter dip dyed flowers.  

March is such a tease.

Things My Two-Year-Old Taught Me: Part II

bug, like most two-year-olds, is very independent.  Or, at least he tries to be.  Forget about asking him to put his shoes on now so we can go to the store; he’ll put his shoes on when he darn well feels like it, thank you very much.  Asking him to clean up his toys?  Sure, he’d be happy to.  On his own timetable.  Things seem to take much longer with a two-year-old around.  
I’d always been a pretty snap-to person.  When it was time to get ready, I got ready.  When it was time to leave, I left.  (The only scenario this did not - and does not - hold true for is waking up in the morning.  I’m a “snooze” pusher.)  I’ve got about a billion things going on in my head at one time and about a billion other things I’d like to get done, so it’s go, go, go!  
Combine these two very opposite philosophies and you’ve got some problems.  Now multiply that by yet one more pretty independent two-year-old with some girlie diva tendencies and a new baby who can’t do a thing for herself... it spells trouble, right?
Think about trips to the store.  (I know, I know... I could just wait and go by myself in the evening after mr gets home.  But there are a few reasons I don’t want to do this.  Firstly, I want to spend time with mr when I can - I’d rather be talking about his day than hunting for ripe avocados.  Secondly, I do not like being in my house all day.  And neither do the kids.  Going to the store - especially in winter when you can’t play outside as much - is a welcome break in the routine.)  In the past, I could get my grocery shopping done in half an hour, 45 minutes tops.  Now, it takes about that long just to get ready to go and buckled in the car.  If you want or need something to go fast or smoothly, don’t take two toddlers and a baby with you.  I’ve learned that!
Sometimes I miss the days when I could tell bug to do something and he would just do it.  No sassiness, no dawdling, no whining.  Whenever I miss those days I try to remember how sometimes, when I am hurrying him up, he’ll start walking in this funny little slow bounce.  Which makes me laugh.  Or he’ll crack a smile and start walking even slower, on purpose (stinker) so I’ll “attack” him.  Which makes HIM laugh.  Or I think about how last summer, he was so infatuated with airplanes that every time he saw one he had to stop and point, saying “awtah!” (his word for airplane for a long time) even if we were in the middle of a parking lot in a VERY big hurry.  But his chubby little pointing finger was so cute and his joy at finding an airplane in the sky so pure... 

And then I think about teaching him to master his little tricycle (which he's working on...) and how pretty soon I'll blink and have to do it all over for a bike.  And then (even worse) I'll blink again and he'll want his driver's license.
And I think that’s what I’ve learned.  Sometimes, you need to stop being in a hurry.  Sometimes you need to slow down.  


Look around.  



I’ve tried to stop saying, “hurry, hurry!” to bug.  I think instead, I need to meet him at his own pace.  I think if I do, I’ll enjoy my time with him more.  And I may just see a lot of things I would have missed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So easy a caveman could do it...

Or me...

It has been incredibly, uncommonly, wonderfully warm here for this time of year for the past 5 days.  Therefor, the 2’s, mini and I have spent a lot of time outside and almost no time with our regular routine.  We’ve been doing a lot of this...  

and this... 

and some of this... 

which is great, because just a few weeks ago we were doing this... 

(yes, that’s a pool in my kitchen.  When it’s 20 degrees in March and you have cabin fever, you do just about anything to beat the winter blues!)

This leaves very little time for what we would normally be doing at any given moment of the day.  Including napping, crafting and blogging.  Therefore, today’s artsy/crafty moment is a departure from my normal attempts to tackle bigger projects than my skill level will allow.  Yes, today’s project is right up my alley.
I’ve been feeling very springy lately due to the sunshine and general cheeriness of the weather.  I even made up a little song for the kiddos about Spring... I’m a little shy singing in front of people, so I won’t bore you with a rendition, but it involves blue skies, trees, green grass, sunshine and, of course, flowers!  Beautiful flowers!
Last fall I was doing some searching (through the internet and my own craft stuffs) to find toddler-worthy arts and crafts for bug and K.  I wanted some things that were educational and some that were just artsy and fun.  I remembered doing this coffee filter “dip dye” when I was in 6th grade science (in fact, I still have my best friend’s coffee filter that she made in class and gave to me).  I really don’t know what this has to do with Science, to tell the truth, so I think the lesson actually failed.  But I do remember the activity, which is really the important part, anyway.  
Basically, you color all over a coffee filter with markers and then fold it in half three times.  You dip the point into a bowl of water and watch the water spread up the filter and bleed the colors together.  The more saturated with color the coffee filter is, the better.  Then you unfold them and lay them out to dry.  They end up looking a little like tie-dye.  
So I figured, why not make some flowers?  What better way to welcome Spring?  And this is something little 2-yr-old hands could help with.  
The kids had fun coloring with markers - especially since I NEVER let them color with markers (what sane person would?) - and we used washable.  
Which was good because bug thought it was super funny to color all over himself.  He started by drawing on his hands.  Then he moved to his mouth.  He laughed as he drew on his lips, “I putta lipstick on!”  Silly boy.  But it was bad because it was a little too washable when we dipped the fliters in the water.  They still turned out alright, some of them were just a little pale.  
Then we took turns dipping, and I let the 2’s use a little dropper to sprinkle water on the filters, which they thought was so cool.  
bug had a minor meltdown when K took her turn with the dropper, so all fun and games were put on hold for nap time.  

I turned the filters upside down for a while to let the water and colors run all the way down, then spread them open to dry.

After nap, we came back to the table to play with pipe cleaners.  bug and K thought bending the cleaners into shapes was oh, so cool.  I made them both circles and we sang the circle song while I started shaping stems and leaves and poking them into the flower.  I initially tried to make a structured flower shape, and discovered it was really better to just gather the filter up, stick it together with a little bit of tape and wrap the top of the “stem” around the bottom part of the flower.  

(please ignore the pink hair clip.  I think he sometimes feels left out in a house full of girls!)

Tomorrow we are making a vase out of a Pringles can to go with them!  And voila!  My Spring centerpiece!
It’s not rocket science, I know, and it probably isn’t even very original.  But it is a tribute to spring that even my two-year-old can do!  You gotta love that!  

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