RSS Feed

Category Archives: Mother of the Year

Fully Loaded

As you now know — and I can’t stress this enough — I love having a calendar that’s merely dotted with activity. Truth be told, I’d prefer it be completely devoid of any and all obligations, with nothing but pop-up requests and spontaneous fun outings.

Which is strange, considering any deviation from my precious plan causes a momentary complete and total freak-out. I’m a rich tapestry.

This morning’s square was, for me, mind-bogglingly full. I worked in Bridget’s class, then went to bible study, then met with a repairman, then worked in the school library, then picked up the week’s CSA share, picked up the kids, and started dinner.

Actually, I started dinner this morning, after I’d already told the kids to get in the car, but before I made myself a slice of raisin toast for breakfast. Thank you, slow cooker! (This is a really terrific recipe, by the way. Super easy and the sauce is de-li-cious.) Then I went back into the house for my bible for the aforementioned study.

And you know what? It was a good day!

You know what else? I have so much trouble making the most of the downtime between each thing. For instance, there was a free hour between the morning and afternoon appointments, but I found it hard to do much. Same for the afternoon. I had to make myself do something productive, just so I wouldn’t be kicking myself at the end of the day. Know what I did? Finally sent out the not chain letter but totally chain letters that have been sitting on the table for a week. (The original arrived the week before school started, which is why it received exactly NO attention those first two weeks. I don’t know why this is — I just felt too busy to think about it, you know?) Ah! Such a relief! I hate when the stuff hanging over my head involves the kids, mostly because it begs them to keep gently reminding me…and then not so gently…and then they’re exasperated and puzzled. I have no reply for that, which is why Bridget’s coloring contest picture that has to be postmarked by the 10th will be going out tomorrow.

In fairness, it has only been sitting on my desk for four or five days, and had some vague instructions that hung me up. All things considered, this is definitely an expedited response.

Only Took Nine Years

As of August, we have officially been the owners of this house for nine years.

For nine years, I’ve thought about hanging family photos. I have hung precisely none. Not only do I not take many pictures (and let’s not even talk about having photos done by a professional), but the commitment of how to frame them, and what size? Color or black and white? Ugh. Too many choices!

So, the kids came home from Grandma Camp this summer with the most adorable self-portraits on canvas. Oh my gosh — too much! They went straight up on the mantel. Then, I started thinking that it would be cute to have actual photos beside them. Fun, right? And don’t forget, I was still riding the high of hanging the kids’ other artwork. Things were happening! But here we go with the choices again. Never mind — I dove into the files online to peruse.

And that’s when I discovered that I’d lost several years worth of photos. Noooooo. I’d transferred them to an external hard drive, which appears to have somehow fried. I can’t even think about it without wanting to cry. My favorite picture of Joey on his 6th birthday, with a bottle of root beer in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other, and the happiest little face? Gone. Gone gone gone. OK, where was I? So looking for pictures, discovered many years missing, decide to print some of the remaining and give them a better life immediately.

Which brings us to today, when I framed them and hung them on the wall in less than half an hour:

005

I am too excited to have brought this idea to life! The photos of the kids captured them at about the same age; I think Bridget was almost four, and Joey may have been in Kindergarten. I had really cute ones of them at exactly the same age, which would have been perfect, but the photo size wasn’t good for printing on one of them or something like that. Whatever. We’re not going for perfect, here. If we were, I surely would not have hung these using push pins. Yes, push pins, and yes, there are about five holes behind each frame. Hey, this method was good enough for my apartment, and it’s good enough for this place. Also, I got the frames for $3.99 at Hobby Lobby, and just used pieces of scrapbook paper for the background. Totally easy and affordable.

[In case you’re wondering, Joey is wearing a hat in his painting…and a monocle. And is holding up a mustache on a stick. Why not?]

In the Bag

The first week of the 2014-15 school year is a thing of the past, and we are officially off to the races! It’s funny how quickly we slide back into the non-summer routine; after the first day, I almost forgot what it was like to still be in bed at six. On the other hand, it’s surprising how exhausted we all were when the week came to a close. Especially me, considering I should be feeling so rested and accomplished, what with both kids on the same schedule now, right? Well, not so. Maybe after a couple more weeks it’ll be a different story, but so far every day has had something new to keep me hopping. That’s not a complaint so much as an observation — it was a great week!

In gearing up for the big first day, I went to the school and purchased the big pallet of supplies for each kid. Sweet fancy Moses! Once the “spirit day” t-shirts and planner (for Mr. 4th Grade) were added on, we were in over a hundred bucks. Now, I know this isn’t any big shocker, because I know how much I’ve paid just for the boy’s stuff every year, and yet…my brain failed to double that and prepare me for the grand total when I stood at the table three minutes after entering the cafeteria.

I’ll say that for buying the supplies from the school: It’s efficient.

All that to lead up to today’s crafty story. Given the expense of all the other stuff, you can imagine how ridiculously pleased I was with myself for saving Joey’s kindergarten tote these past three years. Waste not, want not! Never mind that the savings is a whopping $7.00. Pay no attention to the tiny holes in the bottom (which I failed to notice in my excitement of having found the tote exactly where it belonged and in “perfectly good” condition.) See, every kindergartener is required to carry said tote; no backpacks are allowed. This allows the teachers to quickly identify them…or somethin’. And they encourage you to doll them up and bling ’em out! But for all my craftiness, I’m not one much for bling. And I couldn’t wrap my head around any other ideas, and that spells trouble as far as executing something not totally embarrassing. I know when to holster my glue gun, friends. It was bad enough that I jumped right into this task at the spur of the moment, and promptly cut the fabric without adding the proper seam allowances. Doh! This is why taking several seemingly unnecessary days to plan and ruminate are key. Then again, I managed to skimp a little and still get the job done, so maybe there’s a good middle ground. Who’s to say?

Instead, I took thirty minutes today and killed two birds with one stone:

001

Note the addition of the fancy, rainbow-hearted lining, completely non-standard issue*. You may also note that the blue heart totally matches the blue bag — love it when a plan comes together! I remembered Betz White upcycling totes this way, so this bag may even have a third life turned inside out after this year. I don’t have that high of hopes for its durability, but it made it this far so who knows.

Even better?

002

I found the iron-on name tags from two years ago, right where they belonged!! Done and done.

 

*Here’s another thing non-standard issue: the bag itself. Yes, sometime in the past three years, they stopped adding the black bottom to the bag, so Bridget’s is the only one not like the others. Oops. She likes that hers is easy to find amongst the twenty other bags hanging there — good enough for me!

The Pop-In

010

I think this just about sums up the state of affairs around here. The nice fresh greenery from the beginning of summer is a pitiful, drooping husk. The Grand Ol’ Flag — which was the extent of our 4th of July decorations — is still waving proudly. Trying, but not that hard.

In other words: The wheels have come off. It’s August. Let me say that again: AUGUST! How did we already get here?! I’ll tell you how: one action-packed day at a time. And my definition of action-packed is not really all that packed, but we’ve had somewhere to be just about every day for the entire summer, which has been really great…and really frazzling. You know I can’t maintain that level of activity for long. It makes it hard to keep up with the day to day stuff, you know? But…it’s summer. I can’t be bothered to care all that much.

Know what else I have trouble caring about right about this time of year? Cooking dinner. Or, evidently, changing lightbulbs. Three out of the five in the chandelier overhead have been burned out for weeks, but have I taken the three minutes to change them? Nah. I’ll just continue to strain my eyes for a little while longer. It’ll get done eventually. (P.S.: We’re talking about the room where I do all of my work. Yeah.)

Oh, but there has been sewing going on. So much sewing! I sneak in stitches every chance I get, and you know why? Because Christmas is coming (yes, I just said that on the first day of August), which means that our annual winter boutique is coming even sooner, and this stuff doesn’t make itself, friends. But since we’re on the subject, I’ll tell you another secret: I’ve finished the bulk of my Christmas gifts. YES!! I think that’s a first! Too exciting. I can’t remember the last time that I actually came across an idea, printed it out, and then made up all that I needed with shorter than a six month lapse.

In a nutshell: Christmas prep in full swing; too hot to cook; house in disrepair. How has your summer been?

Nice and Easy

A couple of posts back, I made mention of my recent adventures cooking with the kids. Now, if you’re someone who naturally digs cooking with your little ones, you are not going to be impressed; trust me on this one.

However, if you — like me — tend to get a little frazzled, and were not born with that super useful ability to unclench a little because they’re just kids and this is supposed to be fun for all, well, this post is for you.

Also: if you like delicious chocolate, this post is for you. We’ll be covering both.

So, my kids love to go through this book and make their requests. I like that, since I’m all too happy for new lunch ammo, and the recipes we’ve sampled have been hits. This time around, my son lit on the oatmeal bars. I told him that we’d give them a shot one day. Ah, that mythical day, when we have some free time, and I’m in the mood to get everyone into the kitchen with me and the table is clear….

It just doesn’t happen that often. And why? Because I totally overthink it! This time, after he went to school, I looked at the recipe again, and realized that we had everything in the cupboards. And the table was 80% cleared off. And we had free time in the afternoon. Oh, and it is a super easy recipe. Why not just make the darn cookies? No reason not to. I did, however, try to think of a way to make it less stress-inducing for me, because it just makes sense.

Brace yourself — here it is:

  1. Prep all the ingredients and have them all set up before calling the kids into the kitchen. Yes, this takes some of the fun learning out of it, but it’s a process. We’ll get to more fun hands-on stuff down the road. Probably way down the road.
  2. Pick something easy!

I can’t stress that second one enough. The oatmeal bars were as easy as they read, not to mention delicious, and took about ten minutes to put together. I thought it might have been too easy, and they’d be kind of let down by the experience, but no! They were happy to have cooked, happy to be done, and didn’t fight for the rest of the afternoon.

Oh yes. Best ten minutes ever! I could not believe the difference.

Fast forward to yesterday. I love a couple bites of tasty chocolate at the end of the day, but always feel a little guilty when I throw the “good” bars into the cart (especially since I don’t like to share. Shhhh.) Also, we have been eating A LOT of dessert lately, so I thought that having a nice nibble of something sweet at the end of the meal might wean us off somewhat without all the ruckus. What about chocolate bark? I found this recipe on Pinterest and figured that it would be a good one to try sometime. Doh! Here we go again! See how ingrained this tendency has become? So my little buddy and I stopped at the store for a bag of Ghirardelli chips, rummaged through the pantry for fancy add-ons, and made us some bark.

005

(I meant to take fancier step-by-step pics, but then I forgot, what with all of the excitement over actually doing something.)

We added chopped salted almonds and flaked coconut to our chocolate. I spread out the chocolate puddle, and Bridget rained down the toppings. And then I rained down some more, because she totally refused to get out to the corners. Teamwork!

006

Here it is after it’s chill time, all nice and shard-y. It’s quite delish, and it sure has done the trick as far as making everyone forget their nightly cries for ice cream cones (mine included), but next time I think I’ll stir some of the toppings into the chocolate to add more flavor. We’ll see.

I’m going to need a lot more of these quick little projects before the summer is upon us.

 

Love is In The Air

The second her teacher said, “Wear your prettiest Valentine dress on Thursday!”, I could tell by the look on my girl’s face that I was hosed. See, she does not have a Valentine dress — not a specific one, at least. Silly me, I thought that her favorite red and gold sweater dress would do just fine. It’s red, it’s gold — it has short sleeves! Short sleeves rule!

But no.

“Mom, I need a dress for my party.”

The next morning:

“Mom, don’t forget my pretty dress. Oh, I can’t wait to wear my pretty dress for the Valentine party!”

Oh boy.

Okay, so a mom who is not super cheap would just mosey on down to Target and get whatever glittered heart madness they’re churning out this year, but I’m not always that mom. It was cold yesterday. So, so cold. Better to hit the fabric shelf and see what I could come up with…except I didn’t want to make a dress. More importantly, I don’t know how to make a dress. My only trick is attaching a skirt to a t-shirt, and I didn’t like any of the options on hand.

And then

I took one more look in her closet and found this:

006

A $6.00 H&M dress with a spot on the front. Well! This looked promising! After a quick peek at the Pinterest files, I came across some reverse applique instructions, cut a sleeve off of one of my old shirts, and was off to the races. A couple of hours later, voila!

007

Best of all, the young boss loved it! (I wasn’t sure it was going to fly, since she’d already said that the red and pink tunic she was wearing would be “crazy” for her to wear, due to the black and grey in the color scheme. Imagine!)

Bolstered by this success, and drunk with ideas after the whole Pinterest perusal, I also cranked these out for the kids at my AWANA table:

008

They were…well, less than enthused, but I bet they’ll use them sometime. Or leave them to get smushed up at the bottom of their bag. I really am trying not to overthink these things. They certainly weren’t going to be any more excited over the stuff that I’d thought about doing two weeks ago and never did, so there we go.

Two more bookmarks are in the works today for the two at my breakfast table. Theirs will be stuffed into new books, so that ought to be worth something. Not that they wouldn’t prefer them to be sticking out of the top of a Lego box, but come on. Speaking of Legos, we saw the movie on Saturday and thought it was terrific. I think Kevin and I laughed more than the kids. Anyway, one of the great points the movie makes [spoiler alert, but not really] is that there are so many creative things to make with those little bricks that aren’t on the instruction pages. True! But then what’s with all the movie tie-in sets? I mean, I know what’s with it — cha ching! — but it really offended my sensibilities.

 

Whatever

What day is it? With all the crazy “snow” days interrupting our regular schedule, and all of the other stuff making our days a little cuckoo, I’m feeling even more scattered than usual. But that’s winter for you.

Still, we press on! This weekend we made ninjabread cookies (thanks, Ms. Heather!):

006

Later, I gave new life to one of Bridget’s old faves, thanks for this tutorial:

003

008

She was so happy. I, of course, spent the next hour wildly looking for more ruined long-sleeved shirts in my stash to try that trick again.

And then yesterday we had Cold Day (which is when they close the schools on account of the weather, and then it doesn’t actually do anything), so I decided to make good on the beef bones in the freezer and whip up another batch of stock. Oh, it simmered away all afternoon, and I had big plans for french dip sandwiches and pot pies in our future. Finally, I lovingly strained it into my largest bowl, and caught the bottom of the pan on the edge of said bowl, tipping it over and dumping the entire contents down the drain. I mean straight down the drain, as though it were being vacuumed down the disposal. AGH!! It was just disgusting. So I washed the nasty, greasy dishes and closed the kitchen for the night. Or maybe FOREVER! Ugh.