Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to wrangle a snotty toddler
Winter is upon us and hopefully your kids have manage to avoid the dreaded first cold of the season. I always hate this time of the year solely for that reason. So how to do you wrangle a snotty toddler? Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way when Addy was in the hospital last year, so I thought I'd spare everyone the horrifying experience and just tell you the secret they told me. SWADDLE THEM!!! Who knew right?! Somehow as a mother of three I completely failed to see the usefulness of swaddling after infancy, but now I find it even more invaluable. So, here is some ways to help you snotty little munchkin be more comfortable so that they can get better faster and you can get back to bed fast.

Step 1: Booger Buster: 
This step is most important before and after sleeping for any amount of time.
  • Gather Booger Supplies: Paper towel, saline solution, booger sucker (nasal aspirator for those of you who like technical terms), large towel
  • Lay towel out and swaddle your toddler like a burrito. I prefer to separate the arms and place them down by their sides because toddlers are stronger than you think.
  • Explain that you have to suck out boogers so they feel better. Apologize in advance and say they'll get lots of snuggles afterward. Remember: you wouldn't be happy in a straight jacket being drown with saline solutions (they are still nose breathers so it feels that way to them) and then having your brains sucked out.
  • Squeeze about 1/2-1 tsp saline solution in one nostril and aspirate until liquid is gone. Repeat on other side. Then repeat UNTIL YOU DO NOT GET OUT ANY MORE SNOT! It will take a while and they will scream, but getting it all out can help ward off infections (ex: sinus and pneumonia)
Step 2: Elevate
I find that toddlers are way to mobile to elevate the top of their crib and expect to stay there. So, here are a few ideas to keep them upright:
  • Swing
  • Carseat
  • Bouncy Chair
  • Pillow (if they are old enough)
  • Reflux sleeper
  • or in recliner (a lot of co-sleeping parents find this helpful)
  • In a baby carrier (during nap time)
  • Stroller
Step 3: Drink, Gulp, Lick and Slurp
Hydration is key to thinning out mucus. Force liquids, especially clear liquids, as much as possible. Here are few ideas to help.
  • Watered down juice: Unless they have diarrehea
  • Pidialyte: Can also be frozen into Popsicle and ice chips
  • Jello: Need I say more :)
  • Popsicles
  • Soup/broth
  • tea (peppermint or chamomile)
  • Cinnamon stick or peppermint stick warm water. This works great! I fix them a cup of warm water and let them stir it with a cinnamon stick or mini candy cane for flavoring. (works great for sore throats)
  • Also try letting them drink with straws, out of a coffee mug, sports bottle etc to make liquids more fun and exciting. 
  • I let mine dye their drink (like water) with two drops of food color. I give them just a tiny bit (2-3 oz) and then let them pick a different color for the next time :)  
 Step 4: Toddler Tamers
Ideas to keep your sick toddler entertained without running around too much.
  • I spy
  • Stories
  • Art (time to get started on holiday crafting or bday present making)
  • salt writing (pour salt on a cookie sheet or a pan and let them draw in it)
  • Playdough
  • Play doctor with Dollies
  • Hide the Stuffed animal
  • Movies
  • Puppets

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pizza with Pazazz

Gavin's Snake
Not that you generally need a way to make pizza more appealing to kids, but here's a fun way to eat their favorite food with a little more pizazz!  I let the boys each pick their favorite animal and viola...we had an alligator and a snake calazone!

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Pizza Dough
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Any desired toppings (pepperoni, etc)
  • Olives for eyes (although I had to cheat because I ran out...mine our kidney beans :)
  • Scissors
  • Rolling Pin

  1. pick and animal (snake is the easiest because it doesn't have legs)
  2. roll out long oval about 4" wide by 12" or more long. Try to make the dough about 1/4" thick
  3. spoon a thin layer of pizza sauce only down the center of the snake...DO NOT GET SAUCE ON THE EDGES OF THE DOUGH!
  4. Fill with cheese and other toppings
  5. Carefully stretch dough over and pinch it to the adjacent side (should look like a long pot sticker)
  6. Roll the snake body so the pinched seam is underneath
  7. Coil the snake in a circle leaving the head slightly apart from the body
  8. Pinch two eye holes and insert olives or beans
  9. Take a pair of scissors and snip little "v's" into the top layer of dough. Be sure to not cut into the middle part or your fillings with bake out of your snake
  10. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 min or until golden brown 
Gage's Alligator

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Safety First... 
Car seats, outlet covers, bouncy balls, toilet seat locks, etc...these are some of the many things parents will constantly stress about and all of these things seem obvious to the "safety first" rule. I consider myself vigilante when it comes to throwing away bouncy balls, making sure outlets are covered, car seats are installed securely and medicines are locked away, etc. One thing I completely forgot about was ID my children with serious health problems. Honestly, I'm not sure how it slipped my mind for so long. Most likely it's because I only leave my kids with friends and family, but today while speaking with my mom about Gage's allergies I realized that I need to make sure that his medical conditions are known to everyone who cares for him. I found these great bracelets (okay I found a ton of awesome ones, but they picked the plain ones) which let you document all of your child's allergies and medical conditions on an insert and they are kept inside the waterproof bracelet for easy reference. There are so many different medical ID jewelry to choose from that the task can be daunting.
Gavin chose this bracelet

Medical ID Jewelry/Identification:
  • Necklaces
  • Bracelets
  • Watches
  • ID cards
  • Clothing
  • Stickers
  • Medical Alarms
  • Charms
  • Tattoos
  • Even wearable flash drives with patient history (who knew right?!?!?)
Not to mention, that once you decide on what type you want there are many things to consider when purchasing one  for your child.

Other things to consider:
Gage chose this bracelet
  • Sizing 
  • Fabric
  • Colors
  • Ability to change information/update
  • Membership fees
  • Should they be able to remove it themselves or only you?
  • Engraved
  • Embroidered
  • Metal
  • Can it be worn during sports, bath, etc.
  • Comfortable
  • Latex free
  • Nickel free (if metal)
  • Let them have a say in what they want or not
  • Cost
The list could go on and on.  I decided on the type (bracelet) and then picked several styles that had the necessary characteristics I was looking for (ability to change, cost, kid friendly, unable to be removed by young child, waterproof). I allowed the boys to have the final say in color and design. Hopefully, this will make them having to wear it less of a battle and more exciting. After all, their safety is my first priority...their happiness is second.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Angel or Devil...A sweet note sets the right track!
I love notes...especially those sweet little love notes my mom used to send in my lunch box when I was little. So, I took a new twist on an old tradition because my guys spill everything and I got sick and tired of cleaning up dissolved post-it notes out of their bags. This way is tons more fun and is super easy!

Mirror  (windows work too!)
Dry Erase Markers
Creativity (...yes you have some in there ;)

1.) Pick a mirror
2.) Pick a Person
3.) Write a note and make them feel special today.

Most of all "Just Because" is the best reason <3

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fostering Love...not Hate

Open your home, Open your Heart!
I know that most of my blog posts are about crafts, recipes or just basic kid wrangling techniques, but I really feel the need to get something huge off of my chest. Welcome one and all to my venting therapy session. My family and I recently welcomed two very special foster children into our home. They're adventure with us was brief and beautiful. If I said that it was super easy, I'd be lying. If I said that I have no regrets, I'd also be lying. If I said that I learned so much about life, friends, family and the system, that would be the understatement of the century. I guess I'm quiet naive because I truly thought that I wouldn't feel any prejudice when we decided to become foster parents. We were warned, but I scoffed at the thought thinking that I was somehow immune to the racism that foster parents before me endured.
  Don't get me wrong. I expected the obvious questions like "Those can't be all yours?!" Which I answered as politely as possible when all I really wanted to say was "Actually, Yes!" and watch why they mathematically try to figure it all out. I also expected the looks...not to say that I don't get those anyways. For those of you who know our family, my children are mini clones of my husband with little assistance from my gene pool...most people think I'm the nanny. Needless to say, the looks never bothered me and I hardly noticed them.
  So you're asking, "what bothered you then?"  The thing that bothered me most about this whole experience is how people classify the children. I swear when I hear people refer to them as "those" children, I want to gouge out their eyes! REALLY!!! What do you mean "those" children? I truly wished they meant "those poor traumatized children," or "those horribly terrified children." Sadly no. I hate to say it, but these comments were geared towards labeling my foster children as "unworthy." When is a child ever not worthy of love, attention, safety and nurturing? They did absolutely nothing to get placed into the system. It was people responsible for their health, safety and well being that have caused them to live the nightmare of being ripped from loved ones arms and forced to stay in a complete strangers home. Please don't get me wrong, the loved one most likely was causing harm one way or another to the child and therefore, this necessitates the children be moved to a healthy environment. All children, not just privileged children, deserve and need a safe place to make sure all of their physical and emotional needs are met. This statement seems so obvious to me and yet here I am listening to self righteous, selfish people insinuate that I'm wasting my time loving them.
  Understanding the true tragedy of children being mistreated has opened my heart, mind and home to "those" children. We are so truly blessed to have them with us, even if for a short time. They have taught us how to appreciate all of the little things like food on the table, laughter, hugs, friendship,family and most importantly, the capability of the heart to love endlessly.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Potty Training 101

Many people ask me how I potty trained my kids so young (15months and 22 months). It wasn't really difficult, it was mostly making a plan and sticking to it. The most important part of potty training is watching for your child to show interest. Believe it or not, many people don't recognize the signs. Since I spent a lot of years teaching preschool and potty training a ton of 18m to 5 year olds (Yes! That is not a typo...I had 5 year olds that were in my pre-k class not potty trained!) I've noticed several examples of showing interest that you might not have thought of...
  • Bathroom Stalking: Yep, they follow you everywhere! They want to see your #1 and especially your #2. They play with toilet paper and even take their favorite car for a swim. They might like the routine of it, especially the washing hands and flushing part.
  • Pretending: They start telling poop jokes (not necessarily a joke like we would like, but pretty much just say poop or pee and start cracking up), they're dolls/bears/cars make dirty diapers, they hang out in the bathroom a lot or like to sit on things and read (probably from bathroom stalking daddy). 
  • Farting is funny! If they can come up and fart on you, they should be potty trained! Stop laughing I'm serious. Once a child finds farting funny and tries to fart on purpose, it shows that they understand they can control their body.
  • Nappies are dry at Nap: If you're child wakes up from nap or bedtime and their diaper is dry or freshly peed in (ie it's super hot) then chances are they are ready for big kid pants.
  • Playing with themselves: Especially in the tub or swimming. They feel the urge and want to play in it...gross, but now that I have had kids of my own I can honestly say grabbing pee is the least of your worries! My little guys like to "kink" their hose and Addy tried to hold the pee pee in. 
  • Hiding: If they are hiding to poop THEY KNOW THEY ARE POOPING OR ARE GOING TO POOP!
Okay so now you are sure that they know what's going on and you want to give the whole diaperless thing a go. GREAT! Just a word on the exciting journey you are about to embark on...plan, Plan, PLAN! Don't just jump in and go. Take a few days to ensure success.

Day 1: Watch and note your child's behavior and potty times, most kids are on a schedule whether we realize it or not. Start talking about using the potty instead of diapers. Buy supplies (list below), make a game plan and look in your schedule for three yes 3 full days to spend at home.

Day 2: More watching and noting...time for some Rah Rah Big Boy potties are are the best cheer leading. NOTE: Great time to find out what incentive (bribery) is going to work.

Day 3: Watch/Note...any similarities between the days?? Let your child play in the supplies and check stuff out. My older ones liked help make a chart for the younger ones...they will also demonstrate for a small fee of jellybeans :)

  • Underwear: Let your child pick (even if you hate sponge bob they don't and that's motivating for them)
  • Carpet spot remover: enough said
  • Incentives: small cars, candy, stickers, sugary cereal, dress up clothes etc...whatever floats their boat. Try to think outside the box. My guys loved being naked, so if they peed on the floor they had to put their clothes back on. My other one loves his toe nails painted. Every time he went in the potty he got a nail painted :)
  • Waterproof matress cover/case
  • 2 waterproof mattress pads
  • extra sheets and blankets
  1. Follow the game plan! (sample below)
  2. Get up 30 min. before your child normally wakes up. Start coffee, grab a bite to eat.
  3. Wake your child up 10 min or so before they usually wake up, check diaper. If dry, give extra loves and ask if they would like a morning bottle/drink (I let mine have it on the potty).
  4. I believe in the naked approach, but either naked or panties follow this routine (you can adjust depending on your notes). Sit child on the potty every 30 min. 
  5. Praise attempts, Reward and Praise Success. Never punish accidents (kids believe any attention is better than no attention). Instead, have them help clean things up and have them set the timer for the next try.
  6. For nap time:  If they have done great all day (made at least 50% of all tries) then put them to nap without a diaper. Make sure you stop giving liquids at least 45 min prior to nap. If they had a rough day (successful less than 50% of the tries) put them to bed in a diaper. Either way wake them up 10-15 min before their usual wake up time and start the process again. 
  7. Continue 30 min potty breaks for the rest of the day, rewarding as needed.
  8. For Bed follow the same rules as nap time.
  9. Repeat for three days. By the third day you should be able to run short errands with you new big boy/girl :)
Helpful Hints:
  • Books about potty's are awesome :)
  • Reward yourself: It's hard work to potty train kiddos. Plan a treat for yourself when the job gets done.
  • Monkey see-monkey do: Continue allowing your child to accompany you to the bathroom. Demonstrate correct use of the toilet and proper hygiene. Don't forget you get to collect the treats you set for your child...mmmm M&M's.  
  • Pack a mini potty chair in your car because most kids are terrified of the large flush on public toilets
  • Layer beds with waterproof cover, sheet, then waterproof pad, then sheet, and waterproof pad and sheet again. This way if they have an accident you can cleanup and change bed just by ripping off dirty sheet set. My guys liked to try to pee the bed to get up...that never happened again after this :)
  • If teaching to potty standing up (Boys!) then feel free to throw a cheerio or scrap of colored tissue paper in the water to give them something to aim at.
  • If it's too stressful (after you try for at least 2 days) take a break and try again when they're ready.
  • Have a potty party :) 
  • Almost forgot keep it simple! Use baby gates to make the area smaller and limit hiding places by moving furniture. Take away plush toys, toys that you sit on, and any large toys they can stoop behind. Don't worry, they can all come back in 3 days! 
Example Game Plan:

I will stay home for minimum three days to potty train Gage. I will start on April 16th and not leave the house even for a cup of coffee with friends till April 18th or later date. I will be encouraging and not punish for accidents. I will push liquids so that we make the most of our three "work" days together. I will even sit on the potty to demonstrate it's friendliness. After observing Gage I have noticed that he poops everyday between 3:30pm and 4:30pm, with sometimes the occasional after bath poop. I will not give in a allow him a diaper to poop even if he asks for one. I will set the pee pee timer to every 25 mins and adjust accordingly. If he sits on his potty he earns praise, if he pee pees in his potty he may run around the house naked and get's a pee pee dance, and if he poops on the potty he earns chocolate milk.
     ~If he has a pee pee accident I will look to see if the timer needs to be adjusted to a shorter length of wait time. I will ask him to help clean up the mess. While we are cleaning up, I will explain that pee pees belong in the potty and not on the floor. Upon first accident I will give a warn that making pee pees in the potty get's Gage "nakey time," otherwise we will have to wear clothes. I will try again and again regardless of my urge to quit for a least two days!
     ~If he has a poop accident I will make a note of his new potty time. I will have him help me pick up the poopy, put it into the potty chair/toilet and then flush it good bye. Chances are that he still has to poop if I have caught him in the act. I will encourage sitting on the toilet especially if I see any straining. I will show him his M&M's and explain that he will get to stay naked and have a treat if he makes his poop in the potty. I will also teach him that everybody poops (that's also the name of a great book) and that he has nothing to fear bc poop is funny. I will try again and again regardless of my urge to quit for a least two days! 
     ~If he has an accident a bed time or nap time. I will remind him to use the potty. (I left it in his room close to the bed beside the night light) I will remove the top layer of sheets and put new blankets on. Use wetwipes to clean him up and then immediately leave the room with the soiled laundry. I will not discuss anything and will not give extra attention. I will change the bed and wipe down Gage in 5 min. or less bc it is already set up and I do not want him to have an excuse to leave the room. I will repeat this step until we make it down to the mattress bag and I am out of laundry or until the rest time is over. I will launder the linens immediately and dress the bed as soon as possible, even if only one layer at a time is ready. I will leave his bed made in this layered fashion until he has slept one month without an accident. Each morning I will remind him of his "Big Treat (Pez dispenser)" if he sleeps through the night dry. If he wakes up dry I will immediately put him on the potty. I will give him his "Big treat" before breakfast to show him how proud I am of him....Kids require immediate praise!

    Hopefully this helps! Feel free to email me if you have any questions xoxoxoox

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011


    I know alcohol isn't the answer, but sometimes sipping some "mommy juice" is good for the soul on those hot long days. What better way to celebrate summertime and motherhood than a good old fashioned glass of fruity wine? Joyfully dealing with puke, tantrums and boogers should at least earn you a glass or two right?! Here's a great recipe for sangria that you are sure to love!

    Image from:
    1/2c Brandy
    1/4 c Lemon Juice
    1/3c Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
    1/3c Orange Juice
    1 Bottle Red Wine ($2 Chuck from Trader Joe's works great!)
    1/2c Triple Sec
    1/4c Sugar
    8 Maraschino Cherries
    2c Sparkling Water/Ginger ale
    Dash of cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
    Dash of Cardamom (or a couple pods if you want)
    Lemon, Orange sliced in rounds
    Any other favorite fruit you like (pineapple, pear, kiwi, apple, berries etc)

    Mix all liquids, sugar and spices in a large container. Add fruit and refrigerate overnight if not longer. Stir and serve over ice! (no really I mean it...LOTS OF ICE!) It is strong, but scrumptious! I just made a triple batch for our annual 4th of July block party and it was a hit. Hint: My good friend Natalie told me that freezing the used fruit and spices makes an even more amazing batch the second time around :) I'll take her word for it. She's like Martha Stuart only more hip and gorgeous!

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Become a Warlord!

    Yep you heard me, I am 100% pro WAR...chore wars that is :) If you haven't checked it out, I highly suggest stopping in for a look. Chore Wars! is a great interactive website to help motivate kids to do their chores. I recently read about it in some parenting magazine and thought that it was too advanced for my guys. Today I became desperate for them to help out around the house and decided to give it a whirl. What's the worst that could happen? Right! They could not get it and I would still be cleaning house by myself OR they could love it. I'm not saying it's kid perfect. My guys are a little young for most of the elements of the game, but they do enjoy earning gold coins, battling the "giant stuffed teddy bear, enormous dust bunnies, and killer earth worms" of my chore world. I know you're thinking, "that sounds great, but what's it going to cost?" IT'S FREE!!!! Yep really and they don't even require an email address. It is slightly time consuming to set up unless you request a standard "adventure." In a nutshell, if your kids are younger it would be best if you take the time to set up easy "adventures (ie chores" for them to complete, make the treasure kid friendly (squirt gun, sling shot, bubbly potion, sunglasses, etc) and please PLEASE make sure that you edit the monsters to be anything but what they see in their nightmares!!! I'm sure I mentioned it before, but Gage is terrified of ghosts. I changed all the monsters to giant stuffed teddy bears, enormous dust bunnies, stinky bed bugs, killer earth worms etc.  So far my guys love it! They ran from room to room cleaning to earn points and even went as far as to plot their chores for tomorrow. I don't know if this enthusiasm will last forever, but as of right now I am one happy mommy!!!!

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    It's a pirate's life for me....

    Arghhh Mateys I'm turning 3!!!
    I often fret that I haven't made my little guys birthday parties as special and memorable as I would have liked. Not this time! Gage chose to have a pirate party this year for his third birthday and I'm having the best time planning everything! So check out some of my favorite pirate resources if you are interested in throwing a pirate party or just having a swashbuckling great time with your kids.

    Face Painting 
    Ideas: courtesy of
    Example: Boy Pirate from website
    Example: Girl Pirate from website

    Decorate Treasure Box:
    Here are some examples of inexpensive treasure boxes
    I bought my treasure boxes at Joann's Craft Store and used my coupons (you can double up with the iPhone app coupon and mailer :) I also purchased stickers, paint and gems!

    Balloon Pirate Sword:
    Pirate Sword made with two balloons

    Single Balloon Pirate Sword
    I haven't had time to test this out yet, but I found a ton of online tutorials on how to create simple balloon pirate swords using a single balloon animal balloon. I'm super excited and will let you know how it goes!

    Buy a couple yards of pirate fabric
    Cut in half length-wise
    Square off and cut
    Fold into triangle and cut again...Viola!!! Pirate Bandana (no need to sew unless you are going to wash)
    Tie the bandana on and have a great time!  (see Gage's pix of my bandana!)

    Treasure Chest for Favors:
    After a long search for a pirate chest that would hold larger size favors for 20+ kids I gave up. Fortunately, one of the mom's at Gavin's preschool was uber crafty and made this pirate chest from a Rubbermaid container. It works great and I'm so grateful she let me borrow it for the party!

    Top View

    What's Your Pirate Name?
    Gage has my favorite pirate name: Swashbuckler Morgan the Dark Heart
    Gavin's is:Second Mate Sylvester the Gold
     Addy's is:Admiral Mary Cricket the Dark
    Jeff's is:Bartholomew Rough Eye
    Mine is:First Mate Esmerelda

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    A Day at the Spa

    It's been so long since I posted and I feel like I need a little pampering after such a crazy month. Yet out of madness came such a great idea. I would love a spa getaway and maybe my kids would too. Truth be told I have never seen them so excited! After a long afternoon of running errands and helping me clean house I decided that we needed a little TLC. We enjoyed it so much they are already asking if they can do all the chores tomorrow morning and earn another :) Here are a few of the things we included in our spa day  and some ideas I want to try next time. Hopefully, this will get your creative juices flowing and help you and your kids Zen!

    My Crazy guy went bonkers over his crazy hair!!
    ~Fancy Hair (let them style yours too for a great laugh)
    ~Make-up (innocent as chapstick or as divalicious as you like)
    ~Face Mask (I used cetaphil because there's no need to rinse)
    ~Beauty sleep mask (with classical music)
    ~Warm face wrap (warm wash cloth)

    Gavin relaxing with his "foot bath"

    ~Body Scrub (easy recipe: 1/2 c Brown sugar, 1/4 almond oil/olive oil, drops of vanilla)
    ~Massage (we formed a massage circle for shoulders then yelled "switch!" then we quickly turned 180 degrees to rub the other person shoulder. They thought it was hilarious)
    ~Yoga or Peewee palates (my guys lasted 3 moves)
    Miss Addy's 1st Pedicure

     ~Warm foot bath
    ~Paint toes

    Remember: No spa day is complete without delicious snacks and drinks. We ate fruit kabobs drizzled with honey, mini sandwiches, and drank tea and "spa water" (just water with ice and lemons/oranges/mint or cucumber floating in it).  

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Say Cheese!

    Pictures are worth a thousand words! If you are a parent, they are worth more than that, but what about your kids? What do they think pictures are worth? My guys are head over heals with the idea of documenting all of their daily excitement. They love to look at past photos, take photos and play photographer. I'm not here to lecture about putting together baby books (partially because I'm still working on Gav's and he is 4), but I am here to advocate that you let your child experience the joy of capturing their loved ones on film. Nowadays, thanks to the camera phones, taking pictures has never been easier. My kids are better at working all of my electronics than I am and they haven't even entered grade school yet. Here's some of the best ways to have your child help capture special moments and they'll gain a new respect for how hard it is to get a great photograph.

    Photography Opportunities:
    1.) Let them take a picture of their birthday cake and guests.
    2.) Pet Perks: Animals almost always look great and are always doing crazy stuff. Let them snap away as Fido runs through the sprinklers or snoozes in his favorite bed.
    3.) Family: I give the camera to the kids and tell them to take pictures of each when they do things that they think are fun, that they love, or that are silly. Nothing says fun like a silly face contest...print them off and vote for a winner :)
    4.) Vacation: Everything looks different from their point of view. Have them take some pics and you'll see. Example: I could not figure out what in the world Gavin was snapping away at the grass for...turns out it was a tiny little spider on a blade of grass...How he saw that while walking past I'm not sure, but it was the cutest thing I ever say (him talking to the spider telling it to hold still, not the actual spider)
    5.) I Spy: Great for practicing how to use a camera and making sure the picture is in the viewer.
    6.) I LOVE: This is my favorite game ever and I mean EVER! I gave the boys the camera and told them to take pics of things they love and they surprised me. Here are a few of the things the love...I hope you love them too!
    "I love that our sissies love each other"

    "I love my Gagey laughing"

    "I love her cute little nose dots"

    "I love my sissy in my hat"

    "I love hiding in pillows"

    "I love sharing with my baby"

    Gage and Gavin's Hospital "We love the hospital that made Addy can come home!"

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Behind every crafty woman....

    Happy 1st Birthday Adalynn!!!

    It's difficult for me to admit, but behind this crafty woman lies an even craftier husband! What can I say, he's got skills when it comes to all things handy! So for Addy's 1st birthday we wanted to make something special and I had my eye on this gorgeous wooden kitchen set. It was over $1200!!! That is an absolutely ridiculous amount to spend on a play kitchen. Fortunately, Jeff is always game for a new building project and Gavin and Gage are super helpers when it comes to playing with tools and sewing. Needless to say, after a few trial and errors we gifted Addy the most beautiful play kitchen I could imagine and the best part is that we as a family made it especially for her (and it cost less then $350)!

    Wardrobe closet

    Dress-up central...mirror on order

    Vintage style Apron Front sink


    Vintage style Refrigerator and Freezer

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Functional Photobooks

    Our Wedding 2002
    Most of the talented mom's that I know are marvelous at scrap booking, but I hate to admit that I have neither the desire nor the time to complete a project of that magnitude for my children. I know that sounds horrible, but maybe when they are older. I can't even fathom doing one book, let alone three (because you know that I would get a ton grief if I were to only do one). I on the other hand settle for online photo book creations because I can take as long as I'd like to and there's no mess to clean up. Here's a great site I found that isn't as extensive as shutterfly, but is much more economical. Right now they are have a sale. YES A SALE! Up to 100 pages for the price of 20 and the books start at $16.95. The site is Our family has made a few different photo books through this site and we haven't been disappointed. Hope you can relish the discount and go splurge on a little something for yourself.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    LEMONADE!!! Enough said!

    Image from
    What better way to celebrate summer's rapid approach than LEMONADE!!! This is by far the best recipe I have tried. I hope you enjoy it! It also taste great using less sugar or sugar substitute instead.

    2-2 1/2 c Sugar
    5 c water, divided
    1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
    1-3/4 c lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

    1. Combine sugar, 1 c. water and lemon zest in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
    2. Remove from heat. Stir sugar mixture with remaining water and lemon juice. Store in pitcher and refrigerate until well chilled. Serve over ice.

    This recipe for Old-Fashioned Lemonade is from Best of Taste of Home Spring 2009

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    The Art of Charts

    Honestly, I get asked frequently how I manage to do it...manage three kids, two pets, a husband, a house and my sanity. The truth is I don't. I manage what I can, prioritize, consume large amounts of caffeine, learn to let things go and CHART! As ridiculous as it sounds my guys do great with charts! I had always used them in my classroom (they worked wonders), but never really thought to use them at home until about six months ago. Then again today I was thinking how chaotic life is...I decided that  need to revisit the land of peace and order. I have found that single day charts work the best (my guys are small). Having immediate results that are tangible are even better and one chart for multiple kids is an amazing way to make peer pressure positive not negative.That being said I hope this idea helps you too.

    Chart I used for getting the kids to take family pictures

    Microsoft Excel/Office (other word docs work too)
    Uploaded photo of child
    Clip Art

    1. Start by making a grid (# of rows for # of children AND # of columns for desired behavior+1). I have three kids and want them to work on seven things. My chart is 3x8. Set aside a row for each child (I kept mine in birth order to make it easier on me). 
    2. The first column is for their picture and the subsequent columns are for the desired chore or behavior. I have recently added phrases to my chart because my oldest wants to "read." It's not necessary, but is nice to have. Pair clip art with the desired task. Remember LESS IS MORE! This is especially true when starting out. 
    3. Repeat step 2 until all tasks have clip art to match.
    4. that you have that done do a quick print preview to make sure it fits on one page...Mine needed to be adjusted to landscape instead of portrait.
    5. If all looks great hit PRINT
    6. Discuss the chart with your child before using it. Have them help you decide an appropriate reward. It can be overwhelming so offer choices. Example: "I know you are going to do great. When you earn stars in every box would you like to walk to the park for bubbles or have a movie night?" Two options generally is enough. They might think of one on their own, but by beginning the conversation like this they will know what type of prize you are willing to give.
    7. Once you have decided on the reward start your chart. I like to have my guys draw their own happy faces or stars on the task that they completed. If they do not complete it, they don't earn a shape in the box. Without all of the shapes they don't get the reward. IMPORTANT: FOLLOW THROUGH!!! This only works if you hold your ground. Younger children may require more than one opportunity, so start simple.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Paint Perfect

    He's soo excited I couldn't get him to hold still!
    Yeah Spring has sprung! What better way to gain back sanity than send the kiddos outside for hours of entertainment with minimal effort. My boys love this activity, as did I when I was little. A special thanks to my mom for the great idea!

    Old paint brush (several styles if possible)
    Bucket or paint tray if using a roller
    food coloring

    Fill the bucket or tray 2/3 full of water and add 2-4 drops of food coloring. Turn the kids loose to paint wooden fence, deck or even stucco. Beautiful part is that as long as the color isn't vivid you can't see it when it's used. The wetness makes the wood appear dark then dries the same as before.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Hop to it!

    Jump for JOY because this project is easy!
    Every baby deserves a cute swaddle blanket and some fashionable burp rags without spending a fortune. I decided to make my own (although this one was a gift) because I got sick of looking at pale blue and light pink. This little craft project was super easy and the blanket only took 15 minutes!!! The burp rags took longer because I'm super picky and couldn't make my mind up on how to finish the edges.

    1 1/4 (I bought 1 1/2 yards) yards of flannel fabric in two complementing patterns/colors
    2 cloth diapers (mine are Gerber)
    sewing machine
    scissors (rotary and self healing mat if you have one)
    dinner plate

    Directions for Blanket:
    1.) Pre-wash fabric if desired...sometimes I do...sometimes I don't. I would if I were quilting but I haven't seen anything bad happen to this project by skipping this step. That being said, if you are nervous and don't want to chance it knock yourself out, just don't forget to press the fabric before starting the next step.
    2.) Square off fabric. This can be done by pulling the corner up to outer edge to form a triangle. Cut along the edge to square the fabric off. (Once you open it, it'll be square :) Do this with both colors.
     **Cut along this line***

    3.) Trim off any strings from pre-wash.
    4.) Compare both pieces of fabric. Make sure they are roughly the same size...OBVIOUS RIGHT?! Wrong! I wasn't paying attention once and bought fabric that had different widths :( Added some extra work and wasted money
    5.) Fold fabric into quarters.

    6.) Put dinner plate on the open ends corner and mark with a pencil or similar color washable marker..even a crayon (I've used all three). Thanks to Pam Barkdull for teaching me this fancy trick!!!

    7.) Remove plate and cut along the line.

    8.) Repeat with other fabric
    9.)You should have a 2 rounded edge squares now. Turn them right sides together and sew around using 1/4" seam allowance. Make sure you leave at least 6" unstitched to turn your blanket right side out.
    10.) Turn blanket right side out and smooth the fabric while turning in the edges of the opening (pin in place if you like)
    11.) Sew the entire edge of the blanket leaving 1/4" seam allowance. HINT: start with the un-stitched opening.

    Directions for Burp Cloth:
    1.) Measure the length of the burp cloth and subtract 2".
    2.) Decide on how wide you would like the center section then add 1". (Mine was 6" finished, 7" raw)
    3.) Cut your fabric to these measurements.
    4.) Fold the edge (length) of cut fabric over 1/2"and press. Repeat other side.
    5.) Center the fabric on top burp cloth leaving equal distance between the two sides and equal distance from the top and bottom. Pin in place.
    6.) Stitch the length of the fabric to the burp cloth. Repeat the other side. Hint: the top and bottom of the fabric should be open.
    7.) Measure the bottom of the burp cloth and add 1". This will be your length.
    8.) Cut two strips of the contrasting fabric 3" wide by the length from step 7.
    9.) Fold the edges of the strip in 1/2" and press.
    10.) Sew the pressed piece of fabric right side up to the top of the burp cloth. This should overlap the center portion by roughly 1". Repeat on bottom side of the burp cloth.

    Sorry, but my phone decided not to save the last few photos :(  I'll post more when I make the next gift set

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Eco-Chic for Earth Day

    Earth Day is approaching quickly and I decided to make a cute reusable bag to celebrate. The kids love it for playing pretend "Trader Joes" and I love it because it's not ugly.

    Fabric (I chose two contrasting)
    -12"x28" of one color
    -6"x14" of another (I didn't have this much so I used leftovers)
    Sewing Machine, Thread, Scissors
    About 20-45min to complete

    1.) Fold over the 12" side of the main fabric twice (each fold should be about 1/2") Press or pin in place...Unless you are like me and way to impatient. Then stitch along the seam to hold in place.

    2.) Repeat with the other 12" side
    3.) Fold your main fabric with WRONG sides facing each other to make a 12"x12" square.(mine came out more of a rectangle)
    4.) Use a basic straight stitch (1/4" seam allowance) to sew the three unfinished edges of your square. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SEW THE TOP...that's the area you just finished cuffing.
    5.)Flip the material inside-out and Repeat Step 4...Congrats you've just made a French Seam!
     6.)Set bag aside and start on the handles
    7.)Cut your fabric lengthwise so you end up with two 3"x 14" strips of fabric
    8.)Fold the fabric WRONG sides together and stitch the length of the fabric on the open side.DO NOT STITCH THE ENDS

    9.)Turn the fabric right side out...This is the most time consuming part of the whole project :( I had to use a butter knife to push the extra fabric through.

    10.)Repeat Steps 8 and 9 with the second piece of handle fabric
    11.)OK the handles are done but now you need to center the seam like this so that they are easier to sew on and they look pretty this way.

    12.)Lay the handle smooth side up and stitch where the handle meets the bag (mine was about three inches from the edge of the bag)

    13.)Repeat this on the other end of the fabric. Hint: make sure the fabric handle is spaced evenly from both edges of the bag AND that it is sewed to the same side of the bag. 
    14.) Now stitch the bottom of the fabric handle 1/2" lower to add more support. 
    15.)Repeat with the other handle