Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter goodness

Ok, so it's been almost a week since Easter and I'm just getting around to posting about all our fun Easter activities. What can I say – it's been Busy (with a capital B!) around here with basement stuff this week. More on that to come...

Anyway, without further ado, here's what we were up to in the days and weeks leading up to Easter.

Fun with Peeps!
I personally don't like Peeps – those sugary marshmallow treats you see everywhere each Easter season – but they are awfully cute and I happened to come across a couple of fun, crafty ideas for them, so I couldn't resist.

I found the idea for these "Peeps Pops" here. We brought a bunch over to the first of several Easter Egg hunts with Owen and they were a big hit.

A basket of Peeps Pops!

Ryan tied all those ribbons. (He wanted to be sure that I mentioned that.)

And I found this printable Peeps Treat Topper here. I gave these out as small gifts to a few of my favorite "peeps!"

In case you can't read it, it says, "A little something special for one of my
favorite PEEPS."

Jelly Bean Bark
I found this super easy and fast recipe for a new, fun snack here. It was a big hit at the Peterson family Easter meal.

Crafty Cards
I bought Owen his first set of finger paints and we had so much fun coloring, gluing, and painting these cards for all his grandparents.

Easter Egg Hunts
Owen enjoyed four(!) different Easter egg hunts this year. And once he discovered that there was candy inside those eggs, he was stoked!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terrible Twos - Be Gone!

Where, oh where, has my sweet, silly, giggly little boy gone? Occasionally I still see glimpses of him, but it seems that more often, I spend my days with a strange, new child who throws tantrum, after tantrum, after tantrum. This morning, before Owen woke up, I decided I was going to count just how many meltdowns he had today, but by lunch time I had already lost count. (By my best estimate, it was somewhere around 7 or 8, and he had only been awake for 4 and a half hours!)

We've all heard the phrase, "terrible twos," but I don't think I ever really realized just exactly what that looks like. OH.MY.GOODNESS! This morning, after a group Easter egg hunt, Owen got very upset when another child took the ball that he was playing with and I was unable to console him. He even started swinging at me, intentionally trying to hit me. It was at that point I decided to just leave. Humiliated and sure that the other moms (who I have tremendous respect for) were silently judging me, I did my best to contain his flailing arms and legs while I got his coat on, gathered our stuff, and all but ran out the door.

Sometimes (like in this video I captured today), he gets so upset that he resorts to hurting himself, usually by banging his head against whatever is close by.

For the most part, I try to lie him down in a safe place where he can't hurt himself and just ignore the fit, and often, that works – he usually calms down and gets back up a short while later. But the frequency of the tantrums (it seems he has more and more of them every day) and the embarrassment when they happen in public has got me at my wits end.

Out of desperation, I just typed "toddler tantrums" into Google and the very first entry that popped up was this link to I don't know that I'm necessarily a huge fan of the Dr. Sears approach to parenting, but there were some good messages in this. Here are a few things that jumped out at me during my initial review, although I intend to go back and thoroughly study this subject as if my very life depended on it.

  • Tantrums often come in two flavors: manipulative tantrums and frustration tantrums. If you feel that your child is using tantrums as a tool to get his own way (manipulative), give him verbal cues and use body language that says that you don't do tantrums. (In other words, ignore it, I believe.) Frustration tantrums, on the other hand, require empathy.
  • You are neither responsible for his tantrums nor for stopping them. The "goodness" of your baby is not a reflection on your parenting ability.
  • Temper tantrums in public places are embarrassing. Your first thought is likely to be, "what will people think of me as a parent?"
  • Some toddlers' behaviors push parents' anger buttons a lot, and some parents have very sensitive buttons. The combination of the tantrum-prone child and a parent with a short fuse is at risk for major conflicts.

Uh oh. This last bullet really strikes a cord with me. I know that I have a quick temper. And I know that I need to get it in check – fast! It does no one any good for me to react to Owen's fits by throwing one of my own. And I am making myself completely vulnerable and transparent here by admitting that I often do just that. I know it's wrong. I'm working on it. I need God's grace (more than my own will, I'm positive) to overcome this personal weak point.

Here's another snippet on the subject (from here): Know your anger tolerance. If you lose patience easily when your child throws a tantrum, know when to walk away. Count to ten (or more!) so that you can gather your thoughts and react calmly. Remember, your son is simply acting his age. You aren't responsible for his tantrum, nor for stopping it. When a toddler loses control, he should at least be able to count on the adults to stay in control.

Ok, so here's my prayer, God.

First off, thank you, VERY dearly for blessing me with this child. I trust that you chose me to be his mother because you love me and know that I am doing the very best I can. But I need your help. Please help me to remain calm, focused, and loving during this dear child's trying moments. Help me to understand that he is simply lacking the verbal capacity to communicate his desires and help me to do my best to help him choose a more appropriate way to express himself. Help me to distinguish between a manipulative tantrum and a frustration tantrum and to react accordingly. Help me to remember to count to 10 when I feel my anger rising and my patience waning. Help me to be creative and think quickly on my feet when something simple and unexpected sets him off. And above all, help me to lean on you when I just don't know what else to do. Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Please Do Not Disturb

I have been on the hunt for a "Do Not Disturb" sign to hang on my front door while Owen naps for nearly a year now (as long as we've lived in this house, for sure), but can never seem to find one. At one time, I considered stealing one of those plastic door tags from a hotel, except that I always had a vision of a cute, wooden, painted one from a craft store or something, but so far, I've not run across one.

Then, just a couple days ago, it occurred to me to DIY one. I recently learned about a beautiful product called, Mod Podge – maybe you've heard of it. I am absolutely baffled at how, given my love of pretty paper and textiles (see more about that in this recent post), this product has managed to miss my radar all these years. It's not new. According to its web site, it's been around since the 60s. It's known as "the original all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish" for decoupage projects. I am in lurve!

Ok, so on to my project details...

I started with these materials (all purchased items came from Wal-Mart):

  • 5x7 wooden plaque ($1.12)
  • Wooden painted owl decoration ($.97)
  • Mod Podge ($7.47)
  • Wide ribbon ($1.97)
  • Ruler
  • Paper trimmer
  • Paint brush (not pictured)
  • Hot glue gun (not pictured)
  • Brown Sharpie (not pictured)
  • Drill (not pictured)

The "print" is something I designed during Owen's naptime today (appropriate, eh?) on my handy publishing software (InDesign), using a paisley image I found on Google images as a background. I wanted the message on the sign to be a little friendlier than just "Do not disturb!!!" in case a neighbor should pop over to deliver a plate of freshly-baked cookies (a girl can dream). But simply saying "Please do not ring bell" or " sleeping" – all Post-It notes that I've tried in the past – doesn't work either. You see, Kinnick, our dog, has a very shrill, very loud, very constant bark when alerted to anyone approaching the house, so even a soft knock on the door would set off the doggy alarm, disturb the wee one's nap, and effectually render the sign completely useless. So, I went with the phrase, "Please do not disturb. Try us again later. Thanks!" Friendly, but gets the point across, I think.

This being my first experiment with Mod Podge, I have to admit it was a little rough.

It's kinda hard to see here, but the ink on my print-out started
to bleed as I brushed on the Mod Podge. You can see some
purple-ish "bruises" around the bottom corners of the "P' and
"l" in "Please." Suggestions on how to avoid this???

Here you can see some air bubbles that eventually (and fortunately!)
worked themselves out – magically, in fact.

Here's an example of BOTH the ink bleeding thing AND some 
more air bubbles.

After two coats of Mod Podge, I hot glued the owl on (he was so cute and so cheap, I decided to use him as my inspiration for the colors on the sign). Then Ryan drilled the holes for me, I tied on the ribbon and, here she is!

Well, it sure beats what I've been using.

And the walls come tumbling up?

After two weeks without any progress on the basement, the drywall process has finally begun! Yesterday, they "hung the board" and today they taped and plastered (or something like that). Whatever it was requires there to be two large fans blowing non-stop for the next day and a half to circulate the air and dry things out. It is so exciting being able to actually see all the room dividers up! It really feels so real now!

Anyway, here are the latest photos (taken yesterday).

The view from the bottom of the stairs. 
(Doorway to the bedroom on right side, family room on left.)

Looking into the toy/play room.



View of large room from kitchenette area
(looking toward family room, beyond the half-wall)

Opposite view – looking toward kitchenette from family room

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kids' Craft Paper

Check out the WAY fun scrapbook paper my sister found (and split with me!) at TJ Maxx yesterday.

Let me just say – I do not scrapbook. But I do L-O-V-E paper and textiles with beautiful and funky prints. I get giddy just thinking of ways to use these. Very soon, I will have a toy/play room to decorate, and these give me so much inspiration. The colors are gorgeous and I can already picture some of them framed up on the walls.

When I finally get to that (and other possible projects involving these prints), I will be sure to share. But for now, you can find me basking in the crafty goodness sprawled out before me. Aaahhhhh!

Friday, April 15, 2011

One of those days

Don't judge. I know I look terrible in this photo. I generally look terrible in most photos, which is why you don't see many of me on here, but this one is exceptionally terrible. And that's why I'm posting it. You see, I seem to be having "one of those days" today. Let me explain.

After staying up for some time last night with a very upset, and clearly not-feeling-well toddler, I took Owen to see the doctor this morning. He does NOT like the doctor's office. He doesn't like the nurse. He doesn't like the scale. He doesn't like their toys. He doesn't like the stethoscope, thermometer, or ear viewer thingy. He screams and cries the entire time he is in there, regardless of the reason. Our poor pediatrician has yet to see the sweet, fun, charming little guy that I get to spend my days with. Instead, he sees Sir Temper Tantrum – every time! Anyway, turns out my poor babe has a double ear infection, so at least we now know how to treat him. Which brings me to the photo above.

I grabbed the bottle of amoxicillin I picked up at the pharmacy out of the bag by the lid, which apparently didn't get screwed on correctly after giving him the first dose, thus the bottle fell, bounced off the counter, and the contents shot straight up in the air, landing directly on my face and in my hair. (Oh, a little bit landed on the counter, too.)

What is a girl to do? I just stood there for a minute, unsure of whether to laugh or cry, looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, and decided to snap a photo of this silly, disgusting mess. (Oh, and blog about it.)

So, here I sit, with sticky and rained-on flat hair (did I mention that I had to carry Owen out to the car in a torrential downpour?), smelling of cherry (the flavor they added to "make the medicine go down"), which, fortunately, isn't pink - it's white. All the while, Owen, who fell asleep for about 20 minutes in the car on the way home, is in his crib refusing to take any more of a nap than that.

Ugh. I'm done for the day. Hopefully things turn around for the weekend, but for now, I'm off to go wash my face. Later.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For the love of binder

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the Simple Mom 5-week Project Simplify challenge, feeling proud at the time to have purged and reorganized my master closet (the first week's "hot spot"). I also mentioned in that post that the second hot spot was paper clutter, which I didn't have time to tackle then, but hoped to get back to eventually. Well, last week, I kinda, sorta did! I finally got so fed up with the massive amount of papers and other junk all around me that I mustered up the energy to deal with it.

Here are those "before" pics again:

My computer desk – a.k.a., bill-paying, blog-posting, 
mail-reading, facebook-stalking, idea-generating hub.

The counter space that we refer to as our "deskette" (for lack
of a better term.) Seriously, though, what is a better term for
this little mail-collecting, tool-storing, cord-wrangling,
general junk center?

And now, the "after" shots:

"Ahhhhhh" (I feel like I hear a choir of angels singing in

And the "deskette." Yes, there is still a pile of
mail and random cords (all Ryan's), but I did
as much as I could with my own stuff. Getting 
him on board with this whole organization 
frenzy can be hit or miss.

These photos were taken five days ago, and I'm proud to report that both of these areas still look pretty much the same. True, that means that Ryan still hasn't addressed his small (although growing) stack of junk, but it also means that something I did is actually working!

And I am going to give the credit for that to my pal Mary Sievers who gave me the idea for a "Home Management Binder" (which I think she got here from those organizing gurus over at Simple Mom). It is so genius! Honestly, I can't believe I didn't think of it before. Just a regular 3-ring binder filled with tabbed folders – here it is so far, though it is a work in progress, bound to evolve over time.

So pretty! A beautiful sight for an organizing 
nerd like me.

My tabs currently include:
  • Today's Stuff – Stuff that needs to be addressed today, like bills that need to be paid, doctor appointment reminder cards, etc. Ideally, this folder should be emptied and re-filled each day. So far, that hasn't happened, but it does help give top billing to the most pressing things I need to do each day.
  • This Week's Recipes – I've been trying to plan out all of our meals for the week on Sunday night (or sometimes Monday morning) since I do my major grocery shopping after story time at the library every Monday. Keeping all of the recipes for the week in this folder (in the order I intend to make them) makes them easily accessible.
  • Owen Craft Ideas – Stuff I run across that I would like to try to work on with Owen...eventually. Currently, it includes 3 sheets of alphabet stickers that I'm not entirely sure yet what to do with, but I've got a few unsolidified ideas knocking around upstairs.
  • Other Craft Ideas – This one sits empty for now, but a good one to have on hand, I thought.
  • Coupons – I am not a coupon-clipper. I tried it for a time and, for me, it just wasn't worth the effort. I found myself spending altogether too much time at the grocery store trying to find the right item to match the right coupon. Instead, I just try to shop what's on sale. But this folder holds coupons like 20% off at Bed Bath & Beyond that come in the mail (a hot commodity around here!), my VS free panty mailer (who can't use a new, FREE! pair of underwear?), and lots of other random coupons – like a Buy 1 Get 1 Free sundae at, yes please!
  • Home Deco Ideas – Stuff that inspires me when it comes to decorating or fixing up the house. I've got a few paint color swatches in here and a fun frame that was advertised in the latest BB&B flyer that I can't wait to get my hands on.
  • HSA Receipts – A place to store all our medical receipts so that we can get reimbursed for them at the end of the year.
  • To Be Filed – Pretty self-explanatory. Since our file cabinet, which usually resides in the basement that is currently under construction, is presently unavailable, I am just storing these up for when I can get back at it.
In the back of the binder, I have just started collecting random lists (I'm a grade-A list maker!) and other items that I want to keep handy, but just don't want lying around anymore – like an ongoing list of songs to download on iTunes, iron-on transfer paper (don't ask), and quotes and scripture verses that inspire me.

On the front of the binder (currently taped to the outside cover because I don't own a 3-hole punch...yet!), is a sweet little thing called a "Daily Docket." Again, found here over at Simple Mom, I make an attempt to fill this out each day, just to help me get a handle on what I need/hope to accomplish each day. It's so easy to waste precious naptime by surfing around on facebook or other blogs and then end up feeling completely unaccomplished at the end of the day. I've found that this little gem helps me stay focused, as I am a sucker for being able to check items off a list. It includes sections titled, "What's for dinner?," "Today's To-Do List," "Schedule and/or Appointments," and "Notes."

"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?"
- Stevie Wonder

A great way to start the day.

So now that you think I'm a complete nerd for typing up an entire post devoted to my love of binder, I am off to bed. I've got a full day of tasks to complete tomorrow!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A beautiful day for a slide

I picked up this fun little outdoor slide today (used) for only $15.

I could not get Owen off the thing! As you can see, it was a little cold to be outside for too long, but I wanted to let him give it a whirl right after we picked it up. I can tell already this will be one of those (rare) activities that holds his interest for a while. Woo hoo!


I can never get him to smile for photos,
but he had a perma-grin going on this thing!

When he saw these numbers (I guess they're supposed to be like the house address?), he shouted, "two!" So, I counted them off for him, "one, two, three!" He responded with "fo, fi, sees." How he knows that "four, five, and six" follow "one, two, and three," I'm not sure. He's a smart one! Well, sorta. Right after that, he got up close to the number 2 and started licking it. Ewww!

They just look so yummy, don't they?
Don't they???