Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boo to You!

I'm trying to start something fun in the neighborhood. The kids and I are "Booing" the neighbors. I filled cute little take-out style containers with goodies and then we delivered them. The containers are green and say "Trick or Treat" all over them, and I found them at the Dollar Store awhile back. In each box, I included some tea lights, candy, a small hand lotions from Bath and Body Works, and a little apple shaped photo frame magnet. It was quick and inexpensive to do since I already had all of this stuff on hand. Next, I printed off signs and poems that I found online and included them in the goodie boxes. I figured there was no point in reinventing the wheel. Here's the link:
I printed the BOO signs on orange construction paper and the poem on plain computer paper.
Attached to the handle of each take-out goodie box are the following instructions (printed on orange construction paper): 

You have been “Boo’d”!  Please keep it going by following these directions: 
1.    Enjoy your treat! 
2.    Place the BOO sign on your front door or so it’s visible in a window. 
3.    Within 2 days, make 2 treats, 2 copies of this note, and 2 BOO signs. 
4.    Secretly deliver to 2 neighbors without a BOO. 
5.    Keep an eye on nearby front doors to see how far and fast it spreads by Halloween!

I cut these out with crimping shears, affixed an eyelet and a little candy embellishment to each, and then tied them to the handles using raffia (which I had saved from some packaging). Lastly, I clipped on a short length of "Trick or Treat" ribbon with a small black clip. Now, we wait and see who plays along.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mommy Must Have: Wet Bags!!

Wet bags are wonderful! I don't know why they aren't talked up and marketed to new moms the way so many other baby products are. Why didn't I know about them sooner? I guess because they aren't really a "mainstream" type of thing. The only moms who really know about them and use them are the cloth diapering mamas out there. I didn't learn of their existence until I started cloth diapering when Logan was about 2 months old. But I have got to tell you this: whether or not you cloth diaper, wet bags are great to have for on the go. Every mom should have at least one!

Before I had wet bags, I had to put wet or soiled clothes or wet swimsuits and towels into plastic bags. The problem with this, besides the obvious lack of environmental-friendliness, is that I didn't always have with me. Plus, you have to tie them in a knot to close them. And.They.Leak.

Since I started cloth diapering and discovered the amazing invention we call the wet bag, my life has gotten simpler. I can use my wet bags for cloth diapers and wipes AND other for things! Logan had awful reflux, which meant lots of outfit changes. Where did the yucky clothes go when we weren't at home? In the wet bag, of course. And then Mia started potty training, which meant lots of accidents, big and small. Where did the yucky clothes go? In the wet bag. And whenever we go swimming or to the splash pad, where do the wet swimsuits and towels go? You guessed it: in the wet bag! And then the bag goes into the wash right along with the messy clothes. It's brilliant. I am seriously thinking of sending each kid to college with a wet bag and keeping at least one for myself even after the kids are grown. They are just that fabulously functional and they come in all sorts of cute prints. I don't know what else is more useful and more versatile for moms with kids of all ages, except perhaps a wet-dry bag!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Real Breastfeeding Kit

If you've delivered a baby in the past few years, you probably received a "breastfeeding kit" before leaving the hospital. I think it is silly that they call it this because the main thing included in the kit is formula. Although, to be fair, both "breastfeeding kits" I have received included an excerpt of The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S., which I consider to be the breastfeeding Bible. While I don't agree with how this information is provided to new moms, The Nursing Mother's Companion is a wonderful tool! I bought and read my copy of this book before having Mia, and I have found it to be invaluable. It includes sections for each stage of nursing, help for common problems, and a handy guide to medications that are safe to use by nursing. Some people assume that because breastfeeding is natural, it should come easily to new moms. Since that isn't always true, I like to include this book when I make my own "breastfeeding kits" as baby shower gifts for friends. (I only make kits when I know that friends are intending to breastfeed because I don't want to be the type of person who pushes my ideals onto others. While I love breastfeeding, feel it is the best thing I can do for my children, and have personally had success with breastfeeding both of my kids, I recognize that it can be hard or impossible for other moms for a variety of reasons.)

Other items I like to include in my real breastfeeding kits include: lanolin (I always used generic because I figure it's all about the same, so why pay extra for a name brand?), breastmilk storage bags (I like Lansinoh since they are good quality, have a space you can write the date and amount on, and are the best value I have found.), and nursing pads (Lansinoh makes my favorite disposable pads, which is usually what I give as a gift, but I also have reusable pads-- I think they were made by Johnson & Johnson, and truthfully, they aren't that wonderful. However, if I had the chance to do it over, I would try some other reusable pads until I found some that were nicer and then stick with those.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Awesome Autumn Leaf Craft

Funky Oak leaf, by Mia (age 3 1/2)
I have seen many fall craft projects involving leaves, but this is by far, the coolest I have come across. You will love the results! I found this idea on this website:

Materials Needed:
  • real leaves
  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • watercolor paints
  • paintbrushes
  • white acrylic paint
  • scissors
  • pencil, pen, or marker
  1. Lay a dry leaf on top of newspaper and trace around it. Larger leaves tend to look better.
  2. Use watercolors to fill in the leaf outline.
  3. Let watercolors dry and cut out leaf shape.
  4. Paint a white rectangle or square (larger than your leaf) on another piece of newspaper. Foam brushes work nicely for this. You don't need more than one coat of paint. It looks nice if the newsprint shows through somewhat.
  5. While the paint is still wet, lay your watercolor leaf on top. It will adhere itself as the paint dries. No glue necessary!
  6. Cut newspaper into a rectangle or square and display. You may choose to leave some newsprint border around the white, which looks nice.
My "traditional" Maple leaf
  • I used a black gel pen to trace the leaves with. When cutting out the leaf shapes, I left the black outline because I like the graphic quality, plus is was softened by the watercolors, giving it a kind of blurry look. You could trim the outline off if you prefer or use pencil so it doesn't show as much.
  • Mia used lots of colors to paint her leaves, not all of them ones that you would see in nature. I chose to stick to the traditional fall color palette for my leaves. I think both turned out equally well.
  • I didn't have to actually do step #6 (trimming paper to a square) because I used an insert in the newspaper that was already the shape I wanted.
  • I left a bit of the newsprint border showing not just for the graphic contrast it provides, but also because it has today's date at the top. (If you're like me you save all kinds of projects the kids make but you don't always remember to date them because they were drying, for example. This eliminates that problem!)

Easy Apple Tree Craft

The inspiration for this craft:

Materials Needed:
  • large piece of paper 
  • brown crayon
  • green paint
  • red paint

  1. Trace child's hand (with fingers spread apart) and forearm all the way to elbow to make the tree trunk and branches. We used 12" x 12" paper for this.
  2. Color the tree trunk brown. Mia used crayon, but colored pencil, marker, or paint would work, too.
  3. Add the leaves. Mia painted them using green finger paint, but there are several ways you could do this: marker, crayon, colored pencil, painting with a brush. (See Variations for more ideas.)
  4. Make apples by dipping finger into red paint (we used acrylic paint after the finger paint was dry) and then dotting it onto the leaves.

  • You could make an autumn tree by painting the leaves with fall colors, by using foam stamps and paint to make the leaves, or by gluing on silk leaves or real leaves.
  • You could create the apples by using foam stamps, by adding shaped buttons (or plain round buttons), or you could make the apples green or yellow for added variety.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Embracing Change

 "If things never change, there'd be no butterflies."

I read this quote in our church bulletin on Sunday, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. With another school year starting up, and having just completed my first year as a full-time mom, it hit home for me. More and more, I am realizing that all the junk that happened which led to my becoming a stay at home mom (which was never really my plan at all), may have been a blessing in disguise. 

I still get to teach kids all day, they're just my own. And, when you think about it, what I teach my own children matters a whole lot more to me than what I can teach other people's children. I get to be there for all of the moments, big and small, good and bad, that will shape who my children become. 

I am far from being a perfect mom, and although I may be harder on myself than necessary, I feel that this (not being a full-time working mom) is an opportunity for me to become a stronger version of myself. I have more time to work on the relationships that matter the most-- the ones with my family. And I have more time to focus on my own growth-- figuring out what makes me happy and finding a way to add more joy to my day to day life. I found this quote by Josh Billings that I think is apt,
"To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in awhile."

Monday, September 13, 2010

The "S" Word

I was really sad the other day when my sweet little Mia said the "s" word. No, not that "s" word. The other one. S-t-u-p-i-d. She was sitting on the toilet and sort of missed and made a bit of a mess. Not really a big deal, but she was upset and called me in to help her clean up. That's when she told me, "Mommy, I am stupid." It broke my heart. I know it would bother me if she started calling other people stupid, but it just pains me to hear her call herself that. I feel like a lousy mom since I am pretty sure she heard it from me. And the worst part is that I was saying it about myself because I was frustrated about messing something up (that really wasn't that big of a deal, either). It's stuff like this that stresses me out the most about parenting. I want my kids to be well-adjusted and capable of succeeding in this big crazy world (hopefully better than I have done). The problem is how to achieve that when I have so many hang-ups, and of course, I model my fears, anxiety, and self-esteem issues whether I mean to or not.