A few good reads

A friend sent this link out as a good read and I have to agree, it’s great.  We really don’t yell, but I definitely snap at Jackson more than I’d like. And 99% of the time it’s because I’m in a bad place- low on sleep, trying to get something done,  trying to have some “me time,” hangry, etc. Not because he’s done something bad. I know we haven’t seen the start of it, but I hope that I can keep my cool “orange hippo” on when what I really want to do it yell and possibly teach the kids some new words.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-orange-rhino/10-things-i-learned-when-i-stopped-yelling_b_2886161.html

And this is a phenomenal organizational tutorial- we follow it to a T at our house:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-kooiman/10-simple-strategies-for-a-clean-and-organized-home_b_4170622.html

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Halloweenie!

This post contains some very scary images. Read at your own risk.
This post is also quite late.  Story of my life.

Somewhere in the last few years I have started loving Halloween. I love dressing the kids up, decorating, seeing kids in their costumes, and having candy everywhere I look.  We have an awesome community for Halloween too- it’s a little neighborhood with only one main street access in it so it’s low traffic, lots of young families, and everyone participates.

This year I went all out. For the last few months I have been making little decorations here and there during naps or after the kids went to bed. Most of them turned out really cool! I even got compliments from parents walking around.

Inside, I put up the decor for about a week before Halloween. Here are the Halloween pennants (made from 12×12 scrapbook paper I got at Hobby Lobby):

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I also made a mummy vase. I bought some white muslin at Hobby Lobby (1/8 yd) for under $2. I tore strips… maybe 4″ish but didn’t measure. Then I tied them around a large vase I already had. I use the vase a lot so I didn’t want anything permanent and actually kind of like the ties in the back.  It makes her look like she has on a girdle. Which is scary.   Then I cut out two circles of black paper for eyes and an oval for a mouth and just slid them in between the fabric strips.  With a candle in there, it was really cool! I mean scary.

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The table was one of my favorite things. I had a template printed that I found on Pinterest and stuck it in a frame.  I bought two glass candle sticks at Hobby Lobby and had the rest around the house. Those willow branches were from a flower arrangement from my grandmother’s funeral. The black pumpkin and Boo sign were also from Hobby Lobby (I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on sale or that I couldn’t use a 40% coupon for).

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For outdoors, I did it all just on the evening of Trick-or-Treat.  Nothing was very sustainable (glass and paper) so I didn’t want to risk it all going to the pot (is that a saying?) before the 31st.

I had a bunch of glass jars on hand (because you never know when you’ll need them! I have done so many Art Therapy activities using these babies, I always save them, unless they had something really strong in them. Usually a few washings and some baking soda + vinegar solves any smell but sometimes they’re just beyond help and pitched). I painted them with acrylic, drew on the faces with a Sharpie and sprayed them with sealer. I liked the streaky feel, but if you want something more solid you could just do another coat.  I spray painted the lids black and punched holes in them with a hammer but ended up just using the rings or no lid to make sure the tea light didn’t go out. This picture doesn’t really do them justice.  They were super cute. And when it was dark, they were expecially neato. I should have gotten an up-close picture.  Maybe it will be Halloween 2014 by the time I actually get this posted and will have them out again.

Halloween Decor

Then there are the bats.  I love these guys.  I decided to do this the day of Trick-or-Treat.  I left work a bit early and hammered these out in 25 minutes (before I got the kids from daycare)!  I looked at some bats online, folded my black cardstock in half and drew half a bat (like you would draw half a heart if you were in 4th grade) and cut it out. I did a few different ones until I ended up with what I wanted. I also used my little punch thing (I think it has an official name) and punched out some black circles. I loved them with the bats at first but then decided it kind of looked like the bats were pooping so I only made a few of those and then split the bat garlands from the circle garlands.  Then I took my little step stool to the patio and taped those babies up!

Halloween Decor5Halloween Decor3Halloween Decor4Ooooohhhhh scary! I’m surprised anyone braved coming to our door!

I got the kids from daycare at 5:15, quick fed Jackson some dinner, then got them all dressed up!  We tried some photo shoots but that was (obviously) a disaster. Here are some of the best ones:

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Halfway through the night I remembered my last little craft- I cut holes in paper towel rolls and had glow sticks to put in them (from the dollar section at Target). Then I stuffed them in bushes and they kind of looked like creepy eyes staring out.  They turned out… OK.  I’ll have to tweak those for next year.

Oh! The wreath! One of my favorite parts!  I perused Hob Lob for one that I could just spray paint black, but those babies are pricey! Holy smokes! I found one I loved that was all berries but it was $95.  Ninety-five. Dollars.  I wouldn’t even touch that thing with a 40% coupon. But I found this guy in another section for $6. Now we’re talking.  I suppose people buy these and then hot glue things to them? I don’t know. I don’t understand it.  But I actually kind of liked it and it was perfect for what I had in mind (=cheap). Brought ‘er home and spray painted ‘er glossy black. Bam Halloween wreath.  At one pointed I tucked in some dead flowers from my mum but those seem to have blown away. Oh well.  That porch was sceeery enough as it was!

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So for the post title- one of the kids came to the door and yelled “Happy Halloween!” After she took her candy and was running off she said “At least I didn’t say Halloweenie!!!” Her dad in the driveway put his head in his hand and said with defeat, “did she just say what I think she said?” It was great.

On that note, what the heck is with kids just coming to the door and getting candy? Where I’m from we had to tell a joke to get something. These kids just stand there (albeit adorable in their costumes) and hold their (cute little) hands out!  Seth thinks I’m crazy that I expect a joke. A cartwheel maybe? SOMEthing!

I am super sad that the night is over, but it was so fun! We saw a lot of friends and loved seeing the kids dressed and jacked up. Jackson even had a mini Snickers which led him to literally spin in circles and then hop around the house (followed by pulling every candy bar out of the bucket and saying “mommy I need that!!”  Luckily Grandma Sheri brought over a treat bucket filled with organic cereal bars, raisins, and yogurt that we could redirect him to). )He’s going to be so mad at me when he learns that raisins are not a decent trade for Twix).

Holiday Gift Idea!

My good good friend Iris got us a mini subscription to Citrus Lane after I had the twins.  Citrus Lane is a monthly box subscription for kids and sends samples of natural and organic snacks, toys, etc. I was interested in it a while ago but it seemed like it was too spendy (I think $25/month?) so this has been such a treat!  I catered the profile to Jackson since I figured whatever we get for him can be later used for the twinnies…poor kids have nothin but hand-me-downs. The first month was great- I can’t remember everything we got but I remember a little nail polish which just seemed really sweet of them! My mom thought it was for Olivia but I assured her it was a treat for Mommy. I hope.  My newborn didn’t need her nails did.  Anyway, last month we got this little night light called Cloud B (http://cloudb.com/sight/dreamz-to-go-octo-bluee). It projects stars, circles, and goldfish (I agree… huh?) onto the ceiling.  Jackson just LOVES the darn thing! Every night at bedtime he gets so excited to see “mients sars?” (translation- “my stars”). Then we sit and talk about all the things he sees.  He points out the huge goldfish, the tiny goldfish, the moons, the stars…. when you’re two everything is pretty awesome.  Actually, he usually starts the conversation off by saying “Dat’s awesome mommy.” He’s since become obsessed with seeing stars outside too, which is convenient since they’re out at 4pm (boo). However, he’s still getting the hang of it and will point to street lights and excitedly exclaim “SARS!!!” so we have some work to do there. Another thing I like about the Cloud B is that the battery door is held in by a screw, so you don’t have to worry about your toddler popping it off and eating the batteries.  It’s a thing, just ask my dad. He’s an expert at finding the million ways my children are going to end up in the hospital because my house is apparently no safer than an alley in Detroit.

In other news, I can.not.stop. eating popcorn from Gatton Farms. We buy their popcorn to give to customers around the holidays and Mr. Gatton came in this morning to go over our order. Of course he brought samples. I’m currently housing cheddar-caramel.  I agree, that sounds gross but it is amazing!  Sweet, salty, chewey, crunchy, lovely.  If you think that’s weird, they also have a cheddar bacon flavor.  I didn’t try it last year but was brave this morning after Mr. Gatton left and I gotta tell ya, it’s good stuff.  I’m maybe not a great critic because popcorn is one of my favorite food groups, but it’s quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And it’s out of Story City, so you know I extra love it.

So if you need a gift for a toddler in your life, I’d suggest this one (the Cloud B, not the popcorn.  Because I’d just distract him with something shiny and eat all his popcorn anyway)!  What are your toddlers loving? Besides the dollar aisle at Target and a tote bag (genius friend Jamie has also realized buying tons of toys for toddlers is silly and has been entertaining her 19 month old with some new tricks). Has anyone else started making Christmas 2013 spreadsheets? I made mine a few weeks ago.  It’s color coded, in case you had to ask.  We are going by the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” rule in our house for the kids and I’m looking for some ideas for what Jackson “needs!”

Laundry Schmaundry

I really really strongly really dislike doing laundry.  I’m fairly particular about certain things in my house- I don’t like dirty dishes in the sink, our bed is always made, the floors are (almost) always clean, and I try not to let the kitchen table become a catch-all.  But if you came to my house and saw my laundry room, you’d think I was raised by wolves.  It’s a disaster.  We call the crazy pile “Laundry Mountain.” Every time I throw something on top I just hope and pray the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down (it used to be whoever knocked it down had to deal with it- now I just refuse).

I should post a picture here of it, but to be we worked on it all weekend so the current scene in there doesn’t do it justice.

For a while there we had it down. I would fold a load while Jackson took a bath (they’re in the same room), then switch the W to the D. In the morning I’d throw a load in the W and set the timer so it was just getting done at that night’s bath time. Sounds great, right? Only if we actually do it…   So the actual system is that either Seth & I spend the entire weekend washing, drying, and folding and then arguing all week about who didn’t put their clothes away.  Which is usually me.  Seth will even put my clothes on hangers and put them on a bar in the closet so all I need to do it put them where they go. Not that I can complain that he does that much, but it’s a basic organizational system- first sort by seasons (tanks, T’s, long-sleeves) then by color. Which in my closet is super easy. It’s either white, black, gray, or navy. Or that one crazy green shirt I bought 6 years ago. It has it’s own home. Nobody likes to hang out with her. So for a guy who organizes evvvveeeerrryyything via Excel, you think he’d get a minor 2 level sort (love you dear).

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Otherwise, it builds and builds until my mom or my MIL comes to watch the kids and is frightened by that room and does it for us. At first I was mortified when this happened, but have since embraced it and get a little excited when they babysit knowing laundry is probably in a better state than it was when we left.

Now, having said that, I am crazy particular about how laundry is done for someone who almost refuses to do it myself. Certain things can/can’t be washed together, there are specific detergents for certain loads, and the way things are folded is very important. One night my mom was over as I folded dish towels and she asked if there was a particular way I liked them folded. I laughed. Nice to meet ya mom.

There are times I hope my kids don’t get my OCD on things like this, but then I come back to reality and remember that it’s not OCD, its just the proper way of doing things.

Laundry has to be a pain for everyone, right? How do you deal with it?

Daily Round-Up

Favorite part: 3-way tie. Livie putting herself to sleep at nap time, Calvin’s gigantic smiles, and Jackson snuggling at bedtime.

Longest 10 minutes: Waiting for Seth to get home after he said he left work.

Biggest surprise: How well J handled his time out after I caught him coloring. On the couch. With a pen. He totally knew he was going to get in trouble for that one.

Most predictable: Calvin waking up immediately after I texted Seth that he was napping like a boss.

Funniest: Jackson using his foot as a phone (put his foot to his ear and said, “Hello? OK bye. Mommy that’s my foot phone”).

Moment when the Heavens parted: Starbucks. Has. Red. Cups. Pure glee.

Most helpful….. Goes to Jackson. Around 5pm I was feeding the babies in the living room and he started bringing all the pots & pans in and laying them out. I asked what he was doing and he responded “making supper.” In one pot he mixed a cereal bar, raisins, craisins, & a mini pumpkin. When I went to the kitchen I saw that he had gotten out the milk too. Luckily he didn’t take the lids off!

Most musical: When I was singing along to the Pandora Toddler station as I washed bottles….45 minutes after all the kids were in bed.

Yummiest: Leftovers from last night! Iowa Girl Eats Italian beef sandwiches. Awesome. New staple. Close second is the glass of wine I am currently drinking.

Cheers!