2010 glasses

I was on the look out for a super easy craft idea that would help us ring in the new year (be that at midnight or say 8pm) and I found this great tutorial over at Make and Takes for 2010 glasses made from pipe cleaners. Here are our creations modeled by Jack and EJ.

We used shiny, sparkly (and therefore semi-pokey) pipe cleaners for the 2010 portion and the normal, fuzzy (and therefore easier on the ears) pipe cleaners for the sides. For EJ's pair, I followed the sizing given in the tutorial...1/2 a pipe cleaner looped on itself for each zero, 1/2 pipe cleaner for the 2, and 1/2 pipe cleaner (minus about 1 inch) for the 1. The 1 inch piece then connects the 2 zeros and the 1 together (the ear piece connects the 2 to the first 0).

Jack's needed to be bigger though if he wanted to see through them. I ended up taking the pipe cleaner and sizing it around his eyeball so I could see how the two circles would sit comfortably. His ended up being about 2/3rds of the pipe cleaner. Then I just sized the rest accordingly. On both pairs, cutting a pipe cleaner in half for the ear pieces worked perfectly.

I think I would play with it and just size them appropriately for each specific kid. EJ has a small head and Jack has a big head, but EJ's was made according to the tutorial and they fit Olivia too! I think that is saying something about their size.

These were so quick to make and he kids absolutely loved them! I think I'm going to make a couple more pairs tomorrow so everyone can ring in the new year with these fancy specs on!

Until then...Happy New Year from Mr. Magoo! :-)

Only My Baby Brother...

...could give me a Christmas present as great as this!

And those 2-liters? There is half of one remaining.
And the CD? He stayed up all night on the 23rd creating the soundtrack and ripping sound bites from the movie for me! (thank you D!)
And this? Should be my alternate blog name...make sure you check out the url name too!

Goop mess, play-doh victory

This is a case of some days the Internet saves the day and sometimes...not so much! We made some homemade gifts for our friends and Jack & I wanted to make slime/goop for Owen. We found a "recipe" on the Internet (can't remember where from exactly though) and bought the appropriate items...you know like the industrial-sized container of Borax (cause that is the only size available) for the 1/2 tsp. needed for the slime. Anyway, we get ready to make it (the night before our exchange of course) and guess what we end up with? Not slime, not even putty...nope we have a big rubber ball of gunk. And not something we could pass off as an actual rubber ball either! Ugh!

side note:
I ran into this post later in the week and found out they had the same problem. Aimee's advice for the future was to use generic glue (definitely not washable) and add 1 tsp of Borax at a time. She may have told me to be patient as well (not my strong suit). Thanks for the advice Aimee!

So...back to the problem at hand...while I have a boatload of Borax, we are completely out of white glue and we still have that exchange looming! What to do? Oh, and keep in mind, Jack is still completely set on slime so if I suggest anything else, he is just not having it!

So I start searching the Internet for any slime or play-doh type recipe with the following criteria:
a) i have to have all the ingredients in the house
b) it has to have some sort of edge that will win Jack over

And then I found it...Chocolate Scented Play-doh!

I forgot to take a photo of our end result, but it did look similar to this, it smelled heavenly, and it was a hit for a gift. It's definitely going on the list for quick snow day craft fun!

1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup salt
½ tablespoon cream of tartar
1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt & cream of tartar. Add the oil and boiling water. Stir quickly. When mixed well, let cool. When it has cooled (warm to touch), mix thoroughly with your hands.

Simple holiday vacation craft

Looking for a super easy craft project to do with the kids during the vacation week? Check out the super cool free printables shown below! Just click on the image to go to the original post to download the file, then print and get ready for some creative play. Both are sized to fit on a cookie sheet too (great for containing the craft)!

images courtesy of babalisme found via one pretty thing

Ornament craft

I saved the link for this felt ornament tutorial as it looked SO cute and seemed pretty simple too. About a month ago, I decided that they would be the perfect thing to give as a favor at my sister-in-law's baby shower. I went and picked the perfect shades of blue and brown to match her invitation and a cute striped boyish ribbon. And then Christmas crafting, baking and life in general got in the way a bit...

Fast forward to yesterday when I actually pulled out my materials (at about 3pm) and looked again at the tutorial...one day before the shower! Add in a dinner out with the sister-in-law in question and you no longer have favors, but you do have a great new idea for a possible table decoration. What do you think? We are having a small shower so will just have a large rectangular table...and yes, they are hanging from Jack's new IKEA art paper stand.

Anyway, I think the actual ornaments came out cute enough. They are easy to make, but more time intensive than you would expect...it takes awhile to trace and cut the 6 circles for each ornament and knotting off each time you stitch takes longer than the actual stitching!

I may not have finished today but I think these will make an appearance next year. If nothing else they would make a nice affordable price point for the holiday gift fair at Jack's school (when kids are shopping with their own money it's better to have prices under $3!).

Christmas in Pictures

Our kids are exhausted! This morning Jack and I played the first game of checkers on his new set and I won (probably the first time ever)...he cried for a good 10 minutes after. That was at 9am. Overall though the kids did great both last night and today, but I am very glad for a mellow day before we hit the ground running again on Sunday with me hosting a shower for the newest baby in the family and Matt & the kids hitting an indoor fun place with all the cousins.

Anyway, I'm very much ignoring the kitchen packed with dirty dishes and the house which is begging to be cleaned by checking out the few pics I took & blogging. After this I am going to bed with fingers crossed that my exhausted kiddos sleep in later than 7am!

So, before I head up, here are some quick pics from our Christmas celebrations (brought to you with limited Mommy talk because, let's face it, this will be the longest post ever!!!)! Hope everyone had a wonderful day!

Quick pic before heading to Grandma's for Christmas Eve



Crazy woman!

She LOVED tissue paper!

Puzzles with Auntie Alice & Uncle D

Santa brought EJ a big girl dolly that looks like her with pigtails (just what she asked for!)

Jack's gift from Santa led to some crazy am indoor baseball

Liv got her very own books!!!

Everyone checking out Liv's touch book (i love this pic)

Jack setting up our game

Jack opened his gift from T one piece at a time...every part was a hit (all outer space/astronaut themed) but this space blanket was living room tested immediately!

When he hit the space suit that smile was plastered across his face for good! (freeze dried ice cream was tried by all the cousins later in the day too)

i may have cried a bit at this gift...and EJ was very proud to wear her new shirt from Auntie too! She wouldn't take it off until I bribed her with a pretty dress & new hair beads!

she's just a little excited to test out her new sleeping bag...

visit from santa

oh yeah, one hour after matt's family arrived, jack switched from dress-up clothes to space gear & never went back (he insists on wearing nothing but undies under his space gear...yikes)!

we even let "santa" hold the baby...after his insane ej drop 2 years ago he wasn't so sure we'd give him clearance!

the newest cousins...evelyn (one month) & olivia (8 months) (miles is there too...he's in the belly on the right! coming in feb)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our couch to yours! Hope you are all sharing this day with the people you love!

This much-talked about (and loved) card is the work of the uber-talented, amazing, beautiful and greatest best friend in the world, Tracie! Please check out all her amazing work at {tsj} photography and if you live near our 'hood and are in need of pics, give her a ring...she's super affordable, really fun to work with and you'll LOVE the images! (I mean seriously? Look at my babies!!!)

Handmade Gifts - Jack

Gift from EJ & Olivia: Art Supplies from IKEA
Jack's sibling gifts were honestly just some things I picked up on my last trip to IKEA that I knew he would like. The first are these shapes

and these beads that you put on the prongs of the shapes and then iron somehow (we'll have to actually read the directions first) to make them fuse together into art shapes.

He also got this stand

and a roll of paper to keep handy on his art table. I think he'll have a lot of fun with both!

Gift from Mom: Checkers Set
It's finally completed! I went down to the wire but had it completed just as Christmas Eve began (so photos were taken at 2am, so please ignore the bad lighting/color). While I normally at least start from a tutorial, I did this one on my own (well of course I bugged my friends and mom with a million questions along the way, but mostly I did it myself).

I started by borrowing a checker board from my friend Leslie and measuring all the pieces out. I cut a 16" square piece of wool felt to be the base and then cut 1.75" squares from yellow and light blue art felt for the checker squares. I laid out all the pieces (semi-eyeballed it and semi-using a ruler) and then put a small dot of glue in the center of each one to keep it's place. It's hard to see in the photos, but I then took a corresponding color of embroidery thread (2 strands) and did a straight stitch around the border of each checker square to complete the "board."

I added another piece of the dark blue wool felt as a backing (second time was a charm on cutting that piece to size) and stitched along the edges to hold the two pieces together (3 strands of the yellow embroidery floss). Not one thing about this checker board is perfect and I kind of like that! I am by no means a great embroiderer and the glue dot only kept things so straight, but I hope Jack will love the imperfections too.

I searched everywhere for an idea on what to use for the checkers themselves...everything from crafting clay pieces to buying plastic ones came into my head, but nothing seemed easy or right. Leslie suggested looking for wood discs at a craft store, so I checked that out and guess what? They actually sell plain wood checkers there in bags of 8...I needed 24 checkers, they were a bag short! Luckily I was actually shopping early, so had time to run back to get more after coffee with my bestie (the cool craft store is in my hometown not my current town darn it!). I painted them with acrylic paint until they were opaque (3 coats for blue, 4 for the yellow) and then finished with a single coat of matte mod podge to seal them. I used one of our extra advent calendar bags and freezer paper stenciled a crown motif on it. Of course this time around I had my fancy new precision cutter (which I LOVE!) and thought I totally knew what I was doing...until I went to iron the stencil on to the bag and realized I had used parchment paper instead (with no shiny side to stick). Do over!

I am SO excited to give Jack this gift. Last weekend we were all at Target and there were some games on an endcap on sale for $2. We bought a bunch to donate and one was checkers. Jack just about had a heart attack and was literally begging for one for himself (and he knew he had the $2 to spend himself too, so it was hard to say no). See the whole reason I got this idea was that he played with and loved his old checkers set (which was actually my old checkers set from Grandma's house) so much that the board ripped in half. Hopefully this one will be more durable but just as loved!

When it comes right down to it, my kids really like the simple things in life. Like for instance...a big box! Hours and hours of entertainment...and lots of fun to watch!


Late nights, early mornings and naptimes have been filled with my booty sitting on the couch stitching some Christmas gifts. Because I get bored, and because I had a couple free Redbox codes (DVDONME and BREAKROOM if you're interested), I've watched a few more movies than usual. And seeing as I really liked most of them, thought I'd do a quick post and maybe help you find a good flick too.

First up...Julie & Julia
Loved it! Seriously awesome...all the actors were great (Jane Lynch even has a small part...love her!)...well done blending the two stories. I'd just like to say (full disclosure) that I've never read the book, so I didn't have that clouding my judgment (as it almost always do if I read the book first). My favorite line..."57 comments and I don't know any of them!" :-)

Next up...My Life in Ruins
Cute flick (how can you not smile at Nia Vardalos), beautiful setting, not groundbreaking but not bad either. Matt and I both cracked up at..."what do you call the guy who waves his stick around? well we called him Uncle Phil."

I saw The Proposal on my girls trip in November and of course I had to say how funny it was...or maybe it's that I can't get several scenes/songs out of my head! Well and how hilarious Betty White and Oscar Nunez were too!

And last a holiday movie for you that I am so in love with...Four Christmases. I truly went in expecting a semi-funny chick flick, but it was seriously funny! So many great actors in this one too. I'm still waiting to watch this one with Matt, but I'm hoping there is enough physical comedy to allow me 5 less viewings of Christmas Vacation each year (seriously can you guys believe John Hughes did that to me?).

And what will be our first movie watched in 2010? Well I know the kids are dying to see the new Chipmunks movie, so I'm thinking it will be our first parent-big kid date of the new year. I hear the rival girl chipmunk band does a killer rendition of Single Ladies. But to be honest, I don't think any rendition could be as great as this one (I heart Glee)!

Glee Football Dance (single Ladies) HQ Full Video - The most amazing videos are a click away

Taking a moment

This morning I was stressed! Actually that is beyond an understatement on how I was feeling...it was bad. Matt took Jack to school, so I used that time to start mapping out my week. Now I'm a to do list-maker by nature, but this week is serious business. It's more of a grid...days across the top, time of day going down...I mean there are some things that can only be done during nap or after the kids are in bed.

Anyway, I'm working on my list...EJ is in the playroom and Olivia is playing on the floor next to me and I am completely focused on my list. When all of the sudden I realize that Olivia is sitting next to me crying...what do I do? Well first I tell her to hang on, but then as her crying gets worse, I think I actually yelled at her. Yes, I yelled at a baby to stop crying! Seriously???

And it was then that I had that "seriously" moment, stopped my insanity and scooped her up into my arms. After a minute or two, I realized that she was sick (EJ and I both have semi-nasty scratchy throats right now, etc), so I gave her some Motrin & a nukie and held her until she fell asleep. It took about 30 minutes to get her to give in completely (and yes that means she was so sick that she woke up at 7:30 and was back in her crib at 9), so I was forced to "take a moment" and relax.

Sure I was one-handed emailing and twittering a bit, but I wasn't being a freak about everything that HAD to be done today. Instead I relaxed and thought about how lucky I am that my kids just have colds, how lucky I am to have these kids (and a great husband & family to), and how everything doesn't have to be perfect all the time. But mostly I thought about how in striving to make everything perfect all the time, I really just succeed in making everyone around me crazy...myself too!

My friend Leslie forwarded me this post today about escaping the trap of perfectionism and I realized how I set myself up to fail so often by wanting it all to be perfect. So I thought about my typical holiday prep...

Will it matter to guests if my bathrooms are clean? Yep
Will it matter if my baseboards are dusted? No (and if it does isn't that really their problem?)

Does it matter if we serve food? Yep
Does it matter if the food I serve is some amazing new recipe I've never tried before? Nope, in fact no one will even notice (well unless its a complete flop)

Do the kids want to spend time with us doing fun activities? Yep
Do they want to do every fun activity available until we are all completely stressed and tired? Not so much

I think you get the point and I know it sounds so totally simple (even to me), but the trouble is following through. I said in my comment on the perfectionism post that I'm a recovering perfectionist. I can't say I'm not prone to relapses like this morning, but I sure am trying my best!

And if you are stressed and need a good laugh, take a minute to read this post. A super funny story from a Dad who just wanted to take his kids to buy a Christmas present for his wife. It's a good one!

PS All those tasks on the to do list for today...completed. Stressed or relaxed, everything will still get done, so why choose the stress right?

PPS I do have to admit though...I have misplaced 3 presents. I know they are together, but I have no idea where I put them. They are all represented on the blog, do you think EJ and Olivia will accept photos of their gifts?

The Perfect Last Minute Gift

Okay so Grandmas and Godparents...move it along! Nothing for you to see here today. Maybe tomorrow okay?

So, for the rest of you, I have the PERFECT gift for everyone and anyone left on your list. Yep, there is a "one gift that fits all" out there! Charity: Water

100% of your gift goes to building wells in Africa, India, Honduras, and other places where people are forced to drink disgusting water because that is all there is! Almost a billion people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Many people in developing nations (usually women and children) walk more than three hours each day to collect water that is likely to make them sick. Water that looks like this...

A gift of $10 buys clean water for one person for TEN YEARS! Seriously...it's that easy! Click here to donate...there is even an option where you can donate in someone's name ($20 donation) and have Charity:Water send a cool e-card. What could be simpler than that?

I'll go one further though...I made these cards for the kids to give with their gifts. Nothing too fancy, but I'd gladly personalize the file for you and send you a pdf to print (just leave a comment or shoot me an email).

Simple gifts are always best!

Christmas in Hollis

I've had these t-shirts since summer and we just hadn't found the right time to bust them out...I thought visiting Santa was the perfect time!

And for an alternate Christmas card photo too...

Third Child Neglect

Poor Olivia! I took that photo of her in the high chair yesterday and realized I never take photos of her just in life...unless it's posed and she's wedged between her siblings, it just doesn't happen. So yesterday afternoon she was jumping away and I realized I have no documentation that she is ever in that thing (despite the fact that she spends close to every waking moment in it...she loves it that much!).

We also have very few videos of Liv, so I decided to take care of both at once. When Liv first saw the Flip, she started posing, but eventually went back to jumping. And while this may be the most boring video ever, as her parent I think it is funny that she basically hits all her "tricks"...jumping, babbling, rocking herself, even the scream makes a quick appearance. The only thing she didn't do was get the jumper going and then lift up her feet to "ride" (one of my favorite tricks she does). Obviously she knew this was her one moment to shine!

Oh and two quick things...yes, she is rocking out to Young MC and yes, I lifted up the level of the jumper after looking at this video and seeing how much air she was getting!

Our crazy day

My plan for today was to post about a cool (well at least I thought so) gift I made for my friend, but after an all-nighter, I still wasn't done (seriously!) and then today...well today has been a blur! So instead, you get a little photo post! That's good right?

We started out the day here at Jack's school Holiday Sing. Jack kept a big secret that in the opening song he got to stand on the risers and ring a hand bell. How cool is that?

He took his job VERY seriously...I had to get an action shot (and photos were hard to get from our vantage point standing in the back...the place was packed!)

It was a big day for all my kids as from there we went to tour another school...a preschool for EJ (is she really that old?) and then headed to the post office to apply for a special booklet for the baby! Yikes!

Then I spent the afternoon with this machine making some cookie doughs...

And with this non-napping baby...

And working on a concoction with these...

While these turkeys played in the kitchen behind me.

And now I'm heading to a friends to spend some time baking the cookies and drinking some of this!

But I promise that project is coming soon!