Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sleep Cannot Stop Sibling Rivalry (and Other Things My Kids Taught Me This Month)

May 5, 2012
The kids were playing in Daddy's car, and Mia was pretending to drive while Logan rode in the backseat.
Mia: "We're driving to China."
Me: "Do you know where China is?" {I didn't want to tell her it was impossible, what with the ocean and all...}
Mia: "Yes," she said emphatically. "I have the GPS!"

May 8, 2012
Logan was busy pouring water on a June bug, apparently giving it a bath. (The dumb things keep attempting suicide in the kids' water table.) He told it, "Here you go, buggy. You gonna be nice and clean." Isn't he thoughtful?

May 18, 2012
At Dairy Queen:
Me: "What kind of ice cream cone do you want?"
Logan: "A big one!"
Me: "You can have chocolate, vanilla, or twisted together."
Logan: "Neminem!" (M&M)
He eventually settled for a twisted cone, but you have to admire his attempts at negotiating something bigger and better. Future lawyer, perhaps?

May 28, 2012
Mia came up with a new excuse for why she couldn't brush her teeth at bedtime: "It's a little heavy. There's too much toothpaste on it." Points for creativity, but no dice.

May 29, 2012
Logan screamed this during his sleep: "Let it go, Mia. It's mine!" So now we know that even sleep cannot stop sibling rivalry.

May 31, 2012
After putting on her pink boots (which were "firefighter boots" today) and a firefighter's helmet (because obviously you need to dress appropriately for a trip to the library), Mia told me, "Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to be a firefighter. And Daddy will be thrilled when I tell him!"

May 31, 2012
Mia sounded quite proud when she informed me after dinner, "I'm the wettest soup eater." Silly me, I didn't even realize it was a contest.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is Styrofoam Considered a Carbohydrate?

Recently, it has frustrated me that Logan has become a total "carbivore." I call him that because he is completely enamored with crackers, cereal, and bread, mainly although he loves tortilla chips, pretzels, and even plain tortillas, oddly enough. We try to ration crackers in our house, and even avoid buying them for stretches of time to avoid caving in to our little "cracker fiend," as we like to call him. Really, I am trying to offer him a variety of choices to try to ensure that he is getting a balanced diet, but I think he would subsist entirely on carbohydrates if we allowed him to. Sometimes, it's not worth the battle. Is he eating something? If the answer is yes, I think I can live with that (most of the time). So what if he sometimes makes a small meal/large snack out of croutons? While that would be strange for most people, I think it is within the range of normalcy for a toddler.

On the other hand, while I am trying to be tolerant of his taste preferences, I still cannot figure out why he is so quick to eat non-food items. In the past he has eaten everything from toilet paper and board books to sand, and that's not even counting the things I have caught him gnawing on (rocks, shoes, my hard glasses case, etc.) but not actually ingesting. Tonight, he added Styrofoam to his list of toddler taste-tested items. Ack!

We got a new programmable slow cooker delivered today. (Yeah!) So, of course, the kids were playing with the two boxes, one from the slow cooker and a larger one from Amazon. No big deal, I thought; that will keep them safely entertained while I flip through a magazine trying to find a how-to article I had read awhile back... Then, I looked up and saw bits of Styrofoam all over the floor. My first thought was that someone was tearing it apart just to be naughty, but when I started picking the pieces up I noticed they were wet. Then, Logan started gagging like he was going to throw up and I quickly realized that they had been in his mouth. He didn't get sick, and he seemed well enough for the moment, so I scooped up all the Styrofoam and ran it outside to the trash can.

After coming back in, I was trying not to worry, but I couldn't help but wonder if he had actually eaten any of the Styrofoam. And then, I wondered if he had eaten it, would it be harmful? I texted Brett, but didn't hear back from him, which didn't surprise me because I knew he was in a meeting at church. A quick Google search didn't yield satisfying results. Then, I thought about calling the pediatrician, but at 7:30 at night I knew I would get a message service that wouldn't be able to answer any questions. It didn't seem fair to the doctor to have her paged when I knew it wasn't an emergency.

My gut told me he was going to be fine, but still, there was the guilt-induced fear that something could happen and I would never forgive myself if I hadn't done whatever was necessary to avoid it if possible. He wasn't the most reliable source of information considering our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Logan, did you swallow the pieces? Did you chew them up so they went to your tummy?"
Logan: "Yes."
Me: {Thinking he may just be saying "yes" to be agreeable, I tried it the other way.} "Logan, did you spit out all the Styrofoam?"
Logan: "Yes."

So, not knowing for sure if he had actually ingested any Styrofoam, I did what seemed like the most logical thing to do: I called Poison Control. (Admittedly, this is not my first time calling them. Last summer, Logan had gotten a hold of the spray sunscreen, and possibly gotten some in his mouth, so I called them just to reassure myself.) Tonight, I spoke to a woman named Rita who assured me that Styrofoam is not considered toxic and that I didn't need to induce vomiting. (In fact, she said, they rarely tell people to do that anymore. The recommendation she said was to dilute the item of concern.) That said, if you are concerned about something your child may have ingested, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. I have a magnet with the number on our refrigerator. I also have the number programmed into my cell phone just in case. I promise that they are really nice, and don't interrogate you or otherwise make you feel like you are an awful parent.

Rita assured me repeatedly that Logan would be fine and that she had heard of kids eating just about anything. The only thing to possibly worry about, according to Rita, is that Styrofoam can cause bowel obstructions if large chunks are consumed. Fantastic. I don't know what is considered "large chunks." The pieces I picked up that had evidently been in his mouth were bigger than a quarter in diameter, and far, far bigger than I would feel comfortable with him eating if it were food. Rita told me that if he was eating and drinking now, then he was probably fine. So after hanging up the phone, I called the kids to the table for a snack. Mia was actually a bit suspicious, probably since it was so close to bedtime, and she asked, "Why are you being so nice to us and giving us crackers and lemonade?" I wasn't about to tell her that those were the quickest items that came to mind that he would be sure to eat and drink. After all, a mom needs to know her trump cards any play them at the right time.

The good news, is that he scarfed down the first 5 crackers I gave him, and immediately asked for more. Most likely, the little cracker fiend probably did not consume "large chunks" of Styrofoam. After he devoured the next 3 crackers, I decided let him have just 2 more. I thought 10 crackers was plenty to see if he had an appetite. Even guilt-ridden moms have to set limits, right? It was obvious that my little carbivore had no problem eating his beloved crackers. Now, only one question remains: Is Styrofoam considered a carbohydrate?

Friday, May 25, 2012

DIY Sidewalk Paint

I found this recipe for sidewalk paint, and decided we had to give it a try. It is quick and easy to make your own sidewalk paint with just a few items you have in your kitchen.

  • glass jars with lids (one per color)
  • water
  • corn starch
  • food coloring
  • measuring cup
  • funnel (optional)
  • foam paintbrushes (or sponges)
{green, neon pink, neon purple}
  1.  In a glass jar, add 1/2 cup corn starch, 1/2 cup water, and food coloring (approximately 12 drops).
  2. Make sure lid is on tightly and shake until contents are completely mixed. Repeat as desired to make different colors.
  3. Paint can be applied with foam paintbrushes or sponges.
  • This paint dries quickly.
  • It is kind of thin, so you may need to apply more than one coat. However, do not let it dry between coats, because the moisture will cause the original paint to be washed away.
  • Clean-up is easy. Paint can be hosed off if desired. Or you can just wait for it to rain. We used foam paintbrushes, and it washed out with minimal effort (even after we had allowed it to dry on the brushes -- normally a big no-no with paint).
  • Food coloring may stain clothing so you may want kids to wear old clothes before making/using this paint.
  • If the paint is unused for awhile, it starts to separate. You can simply shake it up again, and continue using it.
  • Colors are not as vibrant as sidewalk chalk and some colors may fade once the paint is dry. We noticed this especially with the neon purple.

The Dictionary According to Mama

Today, I have coined a new term, my latest "mommyism," if you will. I give you "fedorable," and photos of the adorable little guy who inspired my newest dictionary entry.



1. to be cute and charming while wearing a fedora: My child is fedorable!
2. worthy of being adored while wearing a fedora.

2012;  mommyism. See also Logan.

{Looking fedorable, Little Man!}
{He is so rocking that hat! Move over, big sis. This boy has his own sense of style.}

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Egg Yolk Painting

This home-made paint was something fun to try on a rainy day. It's quick to make, inexpensive, and not too messy. Plus, it uses items you probably already have in your kitchen, which is always a plus. We made two paint colors, one using 3 drops of neon blue food coloring, and the other using 3 drops of neon green food coloring. The finished product is glossy and the colors are quite pretty. Mia said, "Mom, it shows up really nice," although she thought the egg yolk made the green a bit too yellow. I wouldn't say it is ideal for keepsake painting, though, since the egg is bound to get yucky sooner rather than later. It's definitely more about the process than the product, much like corn syrup painting or raised salt painting. Egg yolk painting is something I would like to try again, however, as a decoration the next time we make sugar cookies. We will just need to use food-safe brushes to paint the cookies before baking them. I found the directions for making this paint here.

  • eggs (1 per color)
  • bowls (1 per color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • spoons (1 per color)
  • food coloring
  • paint brushes
  • paper
  • sugar cookies (optional)
  • newspaper (optional, to protect work surface)
  1. In a bowl, separate the yolk from the egg white. (I suppose you could use the egg whites for cooking or baking, but I wasn't thinking ahead, and just ended up discarding ours.)
  2. Add water and a few drops of food coloring. Mix with a spoon.
  3. Repeat for each color desired.
  4. Protect work surface with newspaper if desired. (You might also wish to cover kids' clothing or have them wear old clothes.)
  5. Paint onto paper (or sugar cookies). Let dry (or bake, as usual).
{"Our House" by Mia, Age 5}

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dish Soap Painting

Spending a rainy afternoon indoors led to some new painting techniques being tried out. We have tried out quite a few home-made paint recipes lately, and this one is definitely a winner. Mia was skeptical when she first saw the paint, and said, "We already made this..." She thought it was corn syrup paint, which does looks similar, but is not nearly as nice to work with. After she tried it out, she quickly changed her mind. Right away she exclaimed, "I like it! Please make me more colors." It's really hard not to like this paint. There are only 2 ingredients, so it is quick, simple, and very inexpensive to make. It also has a nice consistency, thicker than watercolors, but not as gloppy or opaque as tempera paints. And the best part of all is that it cleans up really well. I had a slight moment of panic when Logan dropped his paintbrush and got neon pink food coloring on the beige carpet in our dining room, but as soon as I scrubbed gently with a damp cloth, it came right out. This paint was hands down the easiest to clean out of brushes and bowls of any paint we have ever used, store-bought or home-made. I found the recipe for dish soap paint here. We will definitely make it again.

  • liquid dish soap 
  • food coloring
  • bowls (one per color)
  • spoons (one per color)
  • paper
  • paintbrushes
  • newspaper (to protect work surface)
{By Logan, Age 2}
  1. In a small bowl, mix dish soap and a few drops of food coloring. Stir with a spoon.
  2. Repeat for each color as desired. 
  3. Protect work surface with newspaper (and kids' clothing if desired).
  4. Have fun painting. Another nice thing about this paint is that it dries fairly quickly compared to other types of paint we have used.
{By Mia, Age 5}
  • I made small batches using 2 teaspoons of dish soap and 4 drops of food coloring for each color. 
  • This worked fine for most colors, except for yellow. Since we had blue Dawn dish soap, it was more green than yellow once the two were mixed together. However, doubling the number of drops of food coloring solved this problem well enough. (Using a colored dish soap may prevent the colors from being true. This will vary depending on how much food coloring you use, and which colors you choose. Clear dish soap was recommended by the site where I found the directions.)
  • The website where I found the recipe suggests that you can also use powdered tempera paints in place of food coloring. We don't have powdered tempera paints, so I stuck with the food coloring, but that is always an option for a different time.

Love Those Curls!

When I was pregnant with Mia, I imagined this curly haired little girl with Brett's eyes. I was right about the blue eyes, but it turns out that her hair is pin straight, not at all like mine. Then, while I was pregnant with Logan, I didn't know what to expect, although I thought he might get my eye color. Now, I am so happy to see a bit of myself in those unruly curls (and the hazel eyes, too).

When he first started getting "big boy" haircuts, I couldn't get used to seeing him with close-cropped hair, and when I realized that he was getting curls a few months back, I decided not to fight them. I am much happier with this curly tow headed look. He reminds me more of an angelic baby boy. After all, since he'll always be my baby, I want him to look that way for as long as possible.

Another advantage of the curls is that people rarely comment about the blond color anymore. This always bugged me. ("Where'd he get the blond hair from?" sounds kind of accusatory, don't you think?) Thankfully, people have started to give more and more compliments along the lines of "I love his hair!" or "His hair is so pretty!" I couldn't agree more.

 {His hair really is beautiful, and yes, it's okay to say that about a boy.}

{Love my sweet curly-haired boy!}

{Oh, yes, one more bonus of letting his hair grow: fun bathtub hairdos!}

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Latest Thing

While out with a friend and her kids today, her youngest one made a noise while eating ice cream. "Oh yeah," she explained, "that's her latest thing. She says, 'I burped.' She gets it from her brothers." I thought it was cute, but still I tried not to laugh because I could tell it wasn't her favorite thing that her daughter had picked up on.

This got me to thinking about "the latest thing." I remember when that used to mean some trendy thing, something fashionable like, say, when I wore pegged jeans. (I know, I know. Totally dating myself here, but I figure I can't keep being in denial about getting older...) I've never really been all that fashion forward, and even though I try to stay on top of current trends with new technology, (I actually opened a Twitter account yesterday, not that I really know what to do with it...) it's hard work to keep up with "the latest thing." Thankfully, that now that I am a mom, I can't help but think of "the latest thing" as whatever the kids are into at the moment. That's actually much simpler than technology and fashion, and more enjoyable, anyway.

For example, Logan is so cute. Okay, that's not news to anyone who knows him, but here's what I mean. His "latest thing" in the past week is that he has started referring to himself as "Baby Lion." Of course, this means that he calls me "Mama Lion." He has tried to call Mia a lion, too, but she gets upset whenever he does, so it's become exclusively our "thing." I adore having a "thing" that's just between the two of us. Now, I try to remember to call him "Baby Lion" when I say goodnight or any other time I happen to think of it, which he also loves. I'm trying to savor these little moments, especially while he still wants me to call him a baby.

{My Little Fashionista}

Mia's "latest thing" is her favorite footwear of the moment. I found a pair of pink boots (rain boots, I think) on clearance at a consignment shop for $1 and stuck them away until Mia grew into them. I brought them out recently, and gave them to her to try on. I think they are actually a smidge too big, but that doesn't seem to matter because she loves them so much that they are about all she wears right now. She wore them yesterday along with a cape she made herself. It was a baby blanket fastened at the front with a cupcake shaped foam sticker. This was how she got dressed so that we could go to the library, and I wish I had taken a picture. When I asked about her outfit, she told me she was a superhero and her name was "Cupcake Speed." She cracks me up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Little Butterfly

It's hard to believe that my baby girl is heading to kindergarten in the fall. (Wasn't she just a little preemie who I was afraid to hold?) On Thursday, May 10, she graduated from preschool. She has come so far from the shy 3-year-old who started at Parker's Place Preschool in the fall of 2010. It is really evident that spending two years at the same preschool really boosted her confidence and helped her to bloom into a "social butterfly," in her teacher, Mrs. Hengesbaugh's words. The high school students had the following things to say about Mia during her graduation ceremony: "When we got her last year, we could barely get her to say one word. Throughout this year, she sure did find her voice. She loves to play with Maggie, Anya, and Lillyonna. We call Mia 'our little architect' because she is amazing at math and science, especially her knowledge of butterflies. We will miss Mia's laughs and squeals as she moves on to kindergarten." How could we not be proud of her accomplishments? Especially, when we consider her to be the perfect mix of Mommy's creativity and Daddy's natural talent for math. Hmmm... Maybe they aren't that far off when she call her a little architect. I was feeling apprehensive about her moving on to kindergarten, but now I am feeling excited to see what is ahead for my little butterfly.  
Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.  ~Deborah Chaskin
{Mia chose a fancy dress to wear for graduation and happily posed with "Presto."}

{This is sweet! After the ceremony she asked to have Logan be in the picture, too.}

{Walking to the classroom for cake, modeling her shirt, & holding Grandma's hand.}

{She was a bit nervous after all of the excitement, and didn't want her photo taken.}

{After a fun picnic in the park with both sets of grandparents, she was happy to pose with her cap and diploma "as long as Ritzy can be in the picture with me!"}

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I am having a beautiful, blessed weekend. On Friday evening, Mia and I attended our first Mother/Daughter banquet at church. It was so fun to have Mommy/Mia time, and the theme was cupcakes, which we love.

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm 33 in case you are wondering. I would love to tell you I am 29, but I fear that those little "crinkles" (I'm not ready to admit that they are wrinkles...) that have cropped up in the past couple of years will give away my little white lie, so what's the use? To start off my day, I got to sleep in!! Then, Brett made me blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Heaven on a plate. After that, he gave me a super-sweet and amazingly thoughtful gift:

{I am not sure I did it justice, but the shoe is super cute!}
These are some shoes I found at DSW last year... They were so cute and amazingly comfortable, but not so practical, and being a full-time mom meant that I couldn't justify spending the money for something I didn't need. We waited and waited for them to get down to an acceptable sale price. Sadly, they never did and I was bummed at the end of the season when we lost out on the price-is-right-waiting-game. Enter Brett. A couple of months ago he informed me that a box would be arriving from Amazon, and that I was NOT allowed to open it. Do you know how hard it was not peaking into that box on the top shelf of the closet, especially when he told me it was my birthday present? My curiosity was heightened since I have not received a birthday present from him in about 3 years. (Okay, the back story there is he got me a lovely emerald heart shaped necklace on my 28th birthday, which like this year, fell on the day before Mother's Day -- my first Mother's Day. The problem was that the gift caused stress for us because he kept talking about how he shouldn't have spent so much money. However, I can't really wear it much. If you have little ones you know that they love to pull on jewelry. I have lost plenty of costume jewelry to little hands, and I definitely do not want anything to happen to something I will always treasure. I still don't know how much money he spent, and I don't want to know. All I know is that the necklace is beautiful and I love it. So, I think that this is why he has avoided giving me gifts for my birthday and/or Mother's Day since then.) Now, you can imagine my surprise when I found out what the contents of that box were.

I wore my new shoes to church today, and I felt so pretty. (Plus, I was relieved to discover that they continued to be comfy throughout the morning, and I didn't have any problems with my hip. I'm not able to wear heels any more sine it aggravates the bursitis in my hip -- yet another reason I probably can't get away with claiming to still be 29. However, I can apparently get away with wedge sandals. Hooray!) I think that he has resumed gift-giving at the perfect time, when I needed to be reminded that I am not just a mom; I'm a woman, too. And sometimes, moms need pretty things, even if they aren't all that practical. Now, if Logan will just out-grow the pulling phase, I can get back to wearing that emerald necklace.

After getting my fantastically impractical gift, it was time for me to pack up my gear because I headed off for an entire day of scrapbooking -- 8 whole hours to myself to do what I enjoy!! Oh, yeah, I even accomplished a few pages. One or two more sessions, and I should be able to finish the 2011 album. On a side note, while scrapbooking, my parents called to wish me a happy birthday. My mom asked if I felt "older and wiser." I told her, "Well, I definitely fell older, but I'm not sure about wiser." (It turns out that eating the fried chicken at the Mother/Daughter banquet wasn't a wise choice. I haven't had it in years, and there's a reason for that. It doesn't really agree with me, and it has been that way for awhile now. Oh, the joys of getting older. Do you see why I am in a bit of denial?)

Now, all joking about getting older aside, this was the icing on the amazing cake that was my weekend, a sweet hand-made Mother's Day card from a sweet little five year old. Brett must have patiently told her how to spell each word and I am sure it took awhile for Mia to write this message: "DEaR MaMa I HOPE YOU HaVE a HaPPY MOTHERS DaY." (Don't you love the backwards "S" in "Mother's?") The drawing on the left is a self-portrait of Mia walking her stuffed dog, Browna. So cute! 

Mia gave me another Mother's Day card that she made during Sunday School. Okay, this one wasn't really a surprise since I am the Sunday School teacher, but it's nice that she still wanted to make one for me.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Brett got me a Mother's Day present, too. I got $30 in iTunes gift cards. Oh, to splurge on music for myself -- what a foreign concept! I am sure I will love it once I get over the shock and uncertainty. I don't know how many years it has been since I have bought a CD for myself, and the tiny little iPod I own (which I am sure is hopelessly obsolete as it has been sitting in a cupboard for quite awhile) never really got much use. I have never even downloaded my own music before. (Maybe doing so will help me to not feel so old.) Seriously. All the music I listen to is kid-friendly stuff I play in the mini-van while driving kids to and fro. It's either kids' music CD's, Disney soundtracks, or the Christian station, not that there is anything wrong with those. I enjoy them all, but sometimes Mommy misses country music and 80's rock, for example. (Another side note about how old I have apparently become: Do you know that they play 80's music on the oldies stations now? How can it be possible that the music I grew up listening to is now considered "oldies?")

So, now I need to back to my point that I really want to remember: My weekend was fabulous. I received beautiful, thoughtful gifts from my amazing family. But the best gift was the one I gave myself, the gift of some downtime (and not feeling guilty for taking it). I thoroughly enjoyed letting myself relax and celebrating the fact that I am a person, too. I went for a walk in the warm sunshine with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and this is the best part: there was no dog tugging on her leash or needing to have her poop cleaned up, there were no children whining that they were too hot/too cold/too tired/too whatever, there was no need to turn around and tell anyone to get his fingers away from the wagon wheels or to sit down or we'll have to go home... It's interesting that I know that I need to get to church each week in order to feel centered once more, but after 5 years of being a parent, I still struggling to understand how important it is to have me time. It really does make such a huge difference. Good thing I happened to have read this blog post recently, aptly titled, "Mommy Is A Person." Sometimes we need gentle reminders. Other times we need to be bombarded with the same message over and over. I think this weekend was cathartic for me in this way because it really helped drive home the message that even though I am all of this stuff to my kids, Mommy is also a person!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cherry on Top Cupcake Craft

Oooh... I must have really been in the zone, creatively speaking, when I came up with this idea for a Mother's Day card (or gift). I think these cupcakes could also be used for Valentines or for a birthday gift for a special little girl or even as a gift for sweet teacher.

{Cupcake by Mia, Age 5}

  • white paper (We used 8" x 8" scrapbooking paper.)
  • colored cardstock
  • paper crimping tool
  • scissors
  • glue
  • shaving cream
  • food coloring
  • tray/plate/bowl to hold paint
  • paintbrush
  • red pom pom
  • green pipe cleaner 
  • picture frame (optional)
  • black marker (optional)
1) Take your cardstock and run it through the paper crimper to get texture like a cupcake wrapper. Cut into a trapezoid shape. I found this template that should work if you don't want to cut the shapes freehand. Have your child glue the paper trapezoid "cupcake wrapper" to the paper, making sure to leave enough room for painting the top of the cupcake.

2) On your tray (We re-used a Styrofoam meat tray), squirt a small amount of shaving cream. Add a few drops of food coloring (We used neon pink) and mix with a paintbrush to get the desired color. Have your child paint "frosting" above the paper trapezoid. Set aside to dry. This takes awhile, and varies depending upon how thick your painting is. Ours was still a bit tacky after 24 hours, so this isn't ideal for last minute gifts.

3) Once paint is dry, glue a red pom pom onto the top of the "frosting" to make the "cherry."

4) Cut a short length of green pipe cleaner, shape as desired, and then glue by the top of the pom pom to make the cherry "stem." (I realize that cherry stems really are more of a brown color, but green seemed prettier.)

{Another Finished Cupcake by Mia, Age 5}

5) Once the cupcake is finished, you can turn it into a card by writing a message with a black marker. My ideas are along the lines of "Hope Your Mother's Day is Extra Special with a Cherry on Top," "Happy Birthday to a Sweet Girl," or "Thanks for Being a Sweet Teacher." Or, you can write your message and then place the finished project in a frame and then give it as a gift. (Michael's has 8" x" 8 frames for $4.99 that are perfect for this.)

Other Ideas:
  • Mix paint with the shaving cream in place of food coloring. (If you are worried about stains, have your child wear old clothing or a paint smock. You might also wish to protect the work area with newspaper before starting.)
  • Add sequins or beads to make "sprinkles" for your cupcake.
  • Add a flower embellishment in place of the cherry on top. (Try felt or silk flowers since paper may not hold up the best on top of the shaving cream paint.)
  • In place of colored cardstock, consider decorative scrapbooking paper for cute cupcake wrappers.
  • Or, you could try using actual cupcake wrappers if you wish. (I felt that once you flattened them they lost the proper shape of the cupcake, which is why I decided to make ours from cardstock.)
  • If you don't have red pom poms, buttons would make cute cherries, too. (They just won't have the same 3-D effect.)
  • If you don't have green pipe cleaners, try short lengths of ribbon or yarn to make the cherry stems. (The nice thing about pipe cleaners is that you can bend them the way you want and they retain that shape.)
  • I think this would be cute for things other than cupcakes. I am imagining a triple decker ice cream cone with 3 different colors of shaving cream paint... or an ice cream sundae ... or maybe even a whole cake. There are lots of sweet possibilities.

Monday, May 7, 2012

News from the Front Line

This just in: Logan has given up on naps. Unfortunately for me, this frees up his afternoon, giving him an extra 2-3 hours of mischief-making. For example, this afternoon, he dumped all of the crayons out on the living room floor and then began eating them. While I gave him The Look, (you know the one that all moms have mastered, the one that says "Watch it, Buster. You're heading for trouble." ) he looked directly back at me and innocently said, "What?" as if he had no clue what I could possibly be unhappy about. So I said, "Stop eating crayons, please." In typical two year old fashion, he responded with an emphatic "no." Then, he resumed eating crayons, seeming to grin while opening his mouth wide and taking big bites, even larger bites than before. It was as if he was daring me to try to stop him, but I wasn't going to engage. I figured this was a losing battle, and since it wasn't really hurting him, I did nothing... until about a minute later when he gagged and began throwing up what I assume was the apple he had recently had for snack. (Of course, it was interspersed with multi-colored flecks of wax.) Then I had to console him, offer him a cup of water, and clean up the mess. My fingers are crossed that he learned a lesson here, specifically: crayons are not for eating. I just wish he could have learned this lesson before I had vacuumed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Alien Invasion?

Last spring, this tree (I'm not sure what kind of tree it is, exactly.) was damaged by another tree that fell onto it during a storm.

While checking out the damage, we discovered these strange growths all over the tree. They are hard and dark brown with dimples on them, which remind me of brains, in a way. I figured it was some weird tree disease, but I couldn't find anything online to determine what it was, and since the tree was doing well, we did nothing.

A few days ago, we noticed that the growths had gotten larger and they had sprouted horns. I thought this was odd, but didn't get a photo. Now, I wish I had because things got really, really weird after that. Two nights ago, we had a large thunder/hail storm. Yesterday evening, while playing outside, I noticed something from across the yard: the tree looked really different. The growths had transformed into BIG bright orange blobs. Upon closer inspection, this is what we found.

These things had transformed overnight into HUGE alien beings with long gelatinous tendrils in a garish shade of orange. I was afraid to touch them, but I had to find out more... For example, how big had they gotten? I went back inside and grabbed a ruler. The anemone-like things were about 2 inches wide and 2 inches long and really, really creepy looking.

Brett told me that I shouldn't have even touched the things because I may now have an alien being growing inside of me. (I'm not going to lie. I wondered the same thing myself, but curiosity won out.) Plus, it will lead to some really interesting blog posts if it turns out that I am incubating an alien baby.) So, I picked one of the globs off the tree. Aren't I brave? I had to get a closer look... This is totally gross by the way. I brushed up against a tentacle and some slime got on my skin. (And, yes, I briefly panicked that I had just absorbed alien DNA before laughing at myself and wiping it off. We'll just call this a close encounter of the squishy kind.)

Some research led to this new knowledge: we have a tree, probably a juniper or cedar of some sort, and it is sick with a really, really weird disease (okay, that wasn't a surprise at all) called cedar-apple rust disease. (This year it was helpful to be able to Google "weird orange growth on tree" instead of just "brown growth on tree." Apparently, that turns up much more relevant and helpful stuff.) We don't have any actual apple trees in our yard or in the neighborhood, at least none that I am aware of, but we do have a crab apple tree. I am fond of the crab apple tree since it has pretty flowers in the spring and the blue birds enjoy eating the fruit during the winter, which we can watch from our kitchen window. For the time being, our cedar/juniper/whatever-it-is tree is thriving. It's even bigger than last year, so I see no reason to do much of anything except maybe cut off the brown thingies should they continue to emerge. The gelatinous masses have "melted" since yesterday, so I am hopeful they will dissolve completely and I won't have to touch them again. (Really, I can't be too careful when it comes to the possibility of incubating an extraterrestrial, you know?) See here how the tentacle thingies have been "reabsorbed" into the glob. (And notice how I have such amazing technical and scientific jargon to toss around? I'm not just a pretty face, you know.)

I know the orange Jell-o growths are disgusting and ugly, but the tree is at the back of the property line so we don't go over by it all that much. I am thinking of just letting it be, and honestly, I am wondering what the next stage will be, if there is one. However, if this weird symbiotic disease starts to affect the health of the crab apple tree I may need to do something about it. Fingers crossed that I don't have to do anything besides sit back and watch our tree growths evolve. (And wonder how long alien offspring take to incubate...)


Remember a couple of weeks ago when I ran over Logan's tricycle? Well, the new wheel came, and Brett eventually got it put on. (It turns out that Radio Flyer wheels are especially tricky to remove.) Anyway, he was happy about that, but once he saw what I came home with today, I knew I was completely forgiven. Yes, Mama scored a sweet "new" ride on a virtual garage sale site: a Cars bike! And best of all, I only paid $10, so it was practically the deal of the century. (Unlike those Craigslist sellers that were asking obscene amounts of money like $60 for similar bikes.) Actually, I was prepared to pay the lady $15 which was the amount she had originally said. I thought was a good deal since it was exactly what I wanted, in good condition, and it had training wheels included. (After a quick trip to Walmart, I learned that the training wheels alone would have run me $15 brand new.) Then, when I met up with her today, she only wanted $10. I told her that was a steal and she said she didn't care because she just wanted someone to enjoy the bike. Believe me, he will enjoy this bike, and I am so happy to watch.

{Checking out the new bike while Daddy adds air to the tires}

{He couldn't wait to hop on!}

{One ridiculously happy boy saying, "Pedal, pedal, pedal" and "Go, Lightning McQueen!" Maybe I should paint a lightning bolt and number 95 on his helmet...}

Thursday, May 3, 2012

DIY: Oven Bake Clay

We have made play dough a few different ways, but never before made clay, although they turned out to be similar in terms of ingredients. The main difference is that the clay is a bit drier. The recipe we used came from this website.

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup salt
  • 1 Cup hot water
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil (This was optional for a smoother texture, so we used it.) 
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add hot water and oil if desired.
  3. Allow clay to cool before kneading. (If desired, add food coloring.)
  4. Knead until pliable.
  5. Have fun making clay creations.
  6. If you want your sculptures to be permanent, bake clay or allow to air dry. (You can also paint your sculptures after they are dry.)

After we made our clay, we divided it into 4 parts and added a different neon food coloring to each. Mia and I made beads by rolling out "snakes" and then cutting them with a knife, punching out a hole with a plastic straw, and then re-shaping as needed. We also used a rolling pin to flatten the clay, cut out shapes (I stuck with a circle cookie cutter; Mia did more free-hand cutting), and pressing rubber stamps into them for decoration. We used the straws again to punch holes so that we can hang the finished clay pieces as ornaments or tags. I put the leftover clay in a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator. We played with it the following day and it still seemed to be a good consistency, so I think it will keep for awhile if you don't want to bake it and just keep it for modeling clay.

{Before kneading food coloring into the clay}
{After kneading in food coloring}

{After Baking}
{Before Baking}

I put our clay pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet and then baked them for 50 minutes at 250 degrees since this was the suggested way for the clay to not get a "golden-brown" look, and I figured we didn't want to dull our neon colors. I am not sure if this would have mattered or not since the colors are noticeably less vibrant now that the clay has been baked. The clay came out dry on top but not fully hardened on the underside. I left them to air dry for a day or so before flipping them over. They have been air drying for another day and a half, and are still not completely dry. The website said they would take about 5 days to dry, which is quite awhile for little ones to wait. Plus, I am supposed to be rotating the pieces twice a day, and I haven't been doing this, because, really, who has time for that? I think it is safe to say that the clay will eventually be hard, but I wonder if I could have put it back in the oven for a longer amount of time and sped up the process? I hope the beads are ready for Mia to string before she has given up on them entirely.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Little Sunshine Mask

{Mia made this sunny mask in preschool.}
  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • orange and yellow paper
  • glue
  • crayons
  1. Cut the center out of a paper plate.
  2. Have child color the paper plate ring as desired.
  3. Cut triangles out of orange and yellow paper. (You can also use a template.) Older children can do this themselves.
  4. Have your child glue the colored triangles onto the paper plate ring.
  5. Once glue is dry, your child can wear her mask.
This is such a simple craft, which makes it really nice. I like how happy it makes her to wear the mask, and of course it makes me happy, too. I may just burst into song with "You Are My Sunshine" or "Mr. Sun." We could use some sunshine on this dreary day. By the way, I just discovered that there are far more verses to "You Are My Sunshine" than I ever realized. I only know the first two, which I sing sometimes when Logan requests a lullaby. (I love that he's 2 1/2 and still asks me to sing to him.)

Lovely Little Ladybug

{Ladybug by Mia, Age 5}
  • small paper plate
  • red paint
  • paint brush
  • something to hold paint
  • black construction paper
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • 2 googly eyes
  • scissors
  • circle punches (optional)
  • paper trimmer (optional)
  • glue
  • clear tape
  • newspaper (optional, to protect work surface)
  1. Protect work surface with newspaper. Have child wear old clothing or cover up clothes. (We use an old t-shirt of mine for a paint shirt. Pour some red paint onto a tray or plate. Have child paint the bottom side of a small paper plate. Set aside to dry.
  2. Use paper punches or scissors to make circles out of black construction paper. We used a 2" circle punch for the ladybug's head and 1/2" circle punch for the ladybug's spot. Depending upon your child's age, she could do this on her own. (I just made lots of different sized circles and had them ready. There was a third in-between size that Mia chose not to use. Punching circles and cutting pipe cleaners were the only parts of this craft that I did.) Note: You can also make a long, narrow strip of paper to show the division of the wings on the ladybug's back. Mia opted not to use this.
  3. Cut a black pipe cleaner in half. One half will be bent to form the ladybug's antennae. The other half will be cut in half again. Take the second pipe cleaner and cut it into quarters. You will now have 6 shorter pieces of pipe cleaner to use as legs.
  4. Once the paint is dry, make the head by taping the 2" (or larger if you prefer) circle to the plate so that it is slightly overlapped by the plate. (Note: I had suggested to Mia that she might want to tape the backside so it wouldn't show, but she wanted to tape it on the front.) Glue on two googly eyes. Bend the 1/2 length of black pipe cleaner as desired to make the antennae and then tape it to the top of the head (on the backside if you don't want the tape to show).
  5. Glue the smaller circles to the ladybug to make the spots.
  6. Tape the 6 shorter lengths of pipe cleaner to the ladybug's body (on backside if you don't want the tape to show) and bend as desired. You now have a lovely ladybug to display once all the glue is dry.
Here is the source of inspiration for this project. Other favorite bug crafts that we have made include beaded clothespin butterflies, coffee filter butterflies, and butterfly footprint paintings.