praybigsign

Making a Simple, Rustic Sign

There is this amazing family in our community and we happened to meet them at church. Last December, when I had a 10 day old and a 2 year old (and my husband and mother-in-law had the flu), this family really came through for us. They were out of town and allowed me to bring my kiddos over to stay at their home. My hope was by removing us from the flu stricken house, I could protect my kids from getting sick (especially my 10 day old little girl)! As I unloaded both kids, arm loads of groceries and tons of ‘stuff’ (i.e. pack-n-play, rock a puppy, toys, etc.) I was about ready to break into tears. I look up and on top of the kitchen cabinets were standing letters that spelled ‘PRAY BIG’. Pray big is what I did that night and a foundation I hope to instill in our family forever.

Fast forward a year and I was looking for a sign to go above the kitchen cabinets in our new house. PRAY BIG came to mind so I started scavenging the internet looking for a sign to order. They make them, they do, but not in the size or colors I needed! So, thanks to my mom sending me a cricut and a leftover roll of vinyl, I channel my inner DIY and get to work! If you don’t have a cricut or vinyl, just print out your words and tape them on… roll with it.

Are you ready for the simplicity here?

  1. Get the boards. Put them together (or just use one… whatever your space calls for). Or follow my example and just get your sweet husband to do this part for you!
  2. Print out your words (PRAY BIG in this example) on any color of vinyl on the cricut.
  3. Stick the words to the boards in the design you want them.
  4. Spray paint the boards (over the vinyl). I chose black spray paint that was leftover from another project. First do a light coat and then follow up with a second, heavier coat.20160124_143449.jpg
  5. Remove the vinyl letters to showcase the natural color of the boards.
  6. Gently sand the boards, paying special attention to the corners and any natural wood grains (to make the sign look more rustic).

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And YOU ARE FINISHED. Amazing! Now here is my new, mom motto… it’s okay if it’s not perfect. It just needs to be perfect enough. There will probably be another blog about that later on but for this example, it’s okay if the paint bled over a bit into the letter. Sand it and make it look like a natural, rustic fade. It’s okay if you held the paint too close to the board and there is a slight blob… just sand it out. Just let this be the crafty, therapeutic project it can be!

 

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Preschool, what?!

How in the world is it time for us to be considering preschool for our firstborn? Whoa. Time flies; most days! This weekend our local community held a preschool fair, so we loaded everyone up and headed over to learn about the options.

What a blast! The planning and effort that our local community put into this fair was very impressive! The time for the fair was set from 10 am – 12 noon, but I bet they stayed much longer with the number of people visiting. When we first walked in, they had a sports activity room set up to the right where you could drop your kids off if desired. Since ours were so little, we bypassed that and went on into the gym. Front and center was an information table where you received a goody bag (mainly filled with info to help you recall details later). Then the booths were set up along the exterior of the gym… you had all (or most) of the preschools present, but there were also booths for local kids dentists, sports and music classes, the public library, etc. In the center of the gym were large activity stations where your kids could play while you chatted with the booth representatives.

My husband watched the kids while they played and I made the rounds to the preschool booths. For those booths where my son joined me, they had activities arranged to engage the kids… I walked away completely impressed with the event. And from a wannabe event planner, that is an amazing thing! Now we just have to select the preschool! Any tips there?

Sports Class ‘Bump on the Log’

We are a sports family. Sure we’ll love our kids if they choose not to play sports, but you better believe we will exhaust every sports opportunity there is before accepting that. My husband and I played basketball, among other sports, and hope our children find a niche on a sports team as they grow.

When our local community center offered a sports introduction class for 2-4 year olds, I almost became giddy! Most of the classes previously offered have been dance related. While I have heard of the benefits of dance for athletes, it would have been a hard fought battle to get my husband to sign off on enrolling my son in dance. D was enrolled and we packed up the car last week for his first of ten classes.

My husband had the day off. We decided to have pancakes. We were LATE. We walked into a small room with 10 kids and at least one parent/guardian present. My son became a Bump on a Log. He didn’t move. He didn’t participate. He clung to my legs. This isn’t like my son, especially when sports are involved.

After chatting with several of the parents, we tried a few things differently this week. And IT WORKED. Self admitted, this is only the second week and I am no expert but here you go… just in case your little one needs to get off that log in class this week.

  1. Be Early. Forgo the pancakes. Get to class 10 minutes early and help the coach set up. Better yet, beat the coach there and allow your kiddo to run around the room like a crazy person for a few minutes.
  2. Introduce your child to another kid. Last week when things were going so badly, I looked around the room at the kids standing out (in a good way). I found a boy that looked around my son’s age who was participating well. I asked the boy’s dad if we could introduce the kids after class. This week, my son knew another kid and it helped.
  3. Provide incentives. Even in the anguish of last week’s class, D enjoyed getting a stamp after class. He enjoyed going to the playground after class. You know it… I really talked up that stamp and playground visit after good participation this week.
  4. Talk about it. Yeah, pretty self explanatory but we discussed it. I asked him what happened after last week’s class. Then we didn’t mention the negative parts again. Last night and this morning, we really harped on all the positives of class (stamp, new friends, sports, running, throwing balls, etc.)

Good Luck!

House Project Weekends… with little kids

Have you ever been there? So excited to finally get your list of house projects complete on a long weekend? That was my husband and me this past weekend, well me anyway! He had Friday-Monday off and we started off strong… making a task list of everything to be accomplished. Bookcases to install, computer desk and stand to install, tv to buy and mount, little girl’s room drape to install (he’d already painted her room), boards to cut for decorative projects, etc.

Insert the big unknown… getting things accomplished with a three and one year old! Our three year old son was helpful for about 10 minutes (hahaha) and then dumped his train set out in the floor and played loudly while dear husband was trying to think. Our one year old little girl decided momma couldn’t do anything but hold her; you’ve been there, right? All it took was the little kink in the project (i.e. the retro box to rewire the tv mount to not fit) and all hell breaks loose!

Momma is no longer caring if the projects get done this weekend or not. She really had wanted to ‘assist’ her dear husband with everything. Dear husband is dreaming of going back to work on Tuesday. Darling children are still our darling, little children.

Whew! Any suggestions for making these weekends go better? We don’t have family in town to dump the kids with… maybe I should have hit our friends up!

crispymandmcookies

Crispy M and M’s Don’t Make Good Cookies

My son is infatuated with M&M’s. I mean, seriously infatuated. He cannot get enough of them. We initially used them sparingly to teach colors but the overwhelming sweetness of chocolate bite sized candies was just too much… now they are our go-to bribe to keep him quiet on airplanes, in doctor offices, in the car, and yes (I admit somewhat shamefully), even when we want to snap a cute picture.

At our local grocery store this weekend, they had the crispy M&M’s on sale so I bought a bag. It’s almost gone. And it’s only Tuesday. Why do we do this? If the M&M’s are in the house, we have trouble keeping the bag in the pantry. Yes, I have cucumbers and carrots and apples and oranges but D is begging for the pretzels and M&M’s. I reach for a handful instead of cutting an apple. My husband grabs a few to tide himself over as dinner is being prepared.

I know there are numerous conversations and perspectives on the amount of snacking appropriate for toddlers, and the types of snacks appropriate for toddlers… what do you guys give your kiddos? How do you balance a very obvious 2 year old sweet tooth with the healthier veggies and fruits? What times of day do you allow your children to have snacks?

Oh yeah, and since I’ve confessed our obsession with M&M’s, let me go get the crispy M&M cookies out of the oven. PS – If you are going to make your son M&M cookies, just buy the original bag. I snuck one out of the first batch and trust me… the crispy ones baked just get too crispy!

 

Airplane Mac And Cheese

My husband has to work late tonight, so I need a thrilling dinner for my two year old son, D. Dinner needs to be easy, quick and one of his favorites because I won’t have the down time I normally do in the evenings. As is probably the case with most two year olds, you can’t go wrong with good ole mac and cheese.

But let’s make it ‘thrilling’… just so I won’t have any issues getting him to the dinner table. Muffin macaroni is all the rage these days. I’ve never tried it but it looks easy enough? You just add an egg and a little sour cream and bake it in a muffin pan?

Inspiration struck… why not substitute a baking pan for a muffin pan and use a cookie cutter to make one of his favorite shapes? I pulled out the airplane cookie cutter and got to work (by work I mean making a super easy dinner in 45 minutes during nap time)! See below for the details and comment with questions or suggestions! Any thoughts on getting the mac and cheese to stay together even better?

Airplane Mac And Cheese – this is sure to make every (well, most every) 2 year old rush to the dinner table!

1. Gather your ingredients. You’ll need elbow macaroni, sour cream, milk, cheese (I used Colby jack and grated Parmesan simply because I didn’t have Velveeta on hand) , breadcrumbs (if you have them), an egg, salt/pepper, a pot, a baking pan and a cookie cutter (my happens to be an airplane design).

airplane mac & cheese
Ingredients

2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. I salted the water slightly. Most of you are probably moms that cook mac & cheese as much as I do!

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Cooking Pasta

3. Add approximately 1/2 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 egg and 1 cup of cheese (I used Colby Jack here) to drained pasta. Stir, and once combined, gently smooth onto baking pan.

pan macaroni
Mac & Cheese on Pan

4. Sprinkle bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese on top of macaroni. I didn’t have bread crumbs but think they’d make a great addition. I used the grated Parmesan pretty liberally! Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

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Parmesan has been added!
baked mac & cheese
Baked Mac & Cheese

5. Press your cookie cutter (I used an airplane design) into the baked pasta just like you would for cookies. I would suggest using a spatula underneath the mac to help you move it… spoon away enough mac and cheese around the cookie cutter to allow you to get the spatula underneath. The mac and cheese won’t stay together for more than one move (in my experience), so have your serving dish ready! That’s it! Eat and enjoy… be flexible as you’ll most likely have to reshape some of the designs. The airplane may have been a little complex of a design for mac and  cheese but you get the idea!

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Cookie Cutter in Pasta
airplane mac and cheese
Airplane Mac & Cheese
airplane mac and cheese
Single Airplane Mac & Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just to let you know, my son lit up with delight at having ‘Airplane Mac and Cheese‘. He ran to the bathroom to wash his hands, climbed up in his chair without prompting and asked for seconds and thirds. I’d say that was one successful dinner!

househuntingwithkiddos

House Hunting with Kiddos

It’s that time. We’re looking for a new house! In a market that is extremely fast paced and seller oriented. Houses are listed on Thursday and are pending by Monday, for 20-25k over asking price. Wish we were sellers instead of buyers!

We live near Seattle, WA and have a 2.5 year old son and 4 month old daughter. We don’t have family anywhere nearby, and we’ve maxed out our friends for watching the kids. That said, there are still 6 homes the realtor wants to show us this weekend. What do we do?

Top 5 Tips for House Hunting with Kids –

5. Talk to your kids about house hunting. Clearly my 4 month old will do what she will. However, my 2 year old may understand ‘these are not our homes’ and ‘just look; don’t touch’. He knows to stop and take his shoes off at the door. Will he remember these rules? Probably not… but it’s worth the conversation to try!

4. Get creative. ‘Explore’ each house. ‘Oh, D, what do you think is in this closet?’ Make a game out of what spaces you can find. I let him climb the stairs, and challenged him to climb them 5 times in a row (this was during a conversation with our realtor). I also packed a kid’s flashlight in the diaper bag to help him ‘explore’ the house.

3. Don’t hesitate to use bribery! Haha, some of you will disagree but it was a necessity in my book. M&M’s? Check. Pretzels? Check. Ice cream stop? Check… just make snacks a treat for the car. I didn’t want D walking around the prospective homes with chocolate covered hands.

2. Be flexible.You are stressed, rushed, nervous and tired. This is not a good combination. Be flexible. Take a deep breath. Remember they are kids and will need exercise (highly suggest stopping by one of the neighborhood playgrounds if you can fit it in… also helps you get to know the potential neighbors). Remember they will get antsy and tired. They will interrupt your conversations. They are kids… be flexible.

1. Don’t take the kids house hunting! Haha, after all that, still drop them off with friends if you can. In fact, it may be worth making new friends if you’ve maxed out your welcome with current friends. I love my kids but not having them allowed me to actually house hunt… an amazing concept!

Crab Handprint Thank You Card

It’s tough to live so far away from our families… I find myself missing them even more after we vacation to see them. It doesn’t help that my son is of an age where he asks where GG and Granddaddy are for a week afterward! Since we have so many cute beach pictures from the trip, I searched for a beach themed toddler craft on Pinterest to turn into a thank you card. I found a cute crab handprint project that was super easy (because that is what we’re all about these days!)

Items Needed: washable ink (I used red), paper (I used blank, white computer paper) and your child’s hands (this could be the most difficult!)

Directions:

1. Lay the paper out on a prepared surface and have your ink pad ready (remember the ink may be swiped somewhere other than the paper if your child is anything like mine).

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2. Gently rub the ink pad across one of your child’s hands and immediately place his handprint on the paper, thumb side up.

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3. Repeat the process with your child’s other hand… the goal is for the base of your child’s hands to be the crab’s body, the thumbs to be the antennas and the fingers to be the claws.

4. Add googly eyes or draw eyes and a smiley face to complete the project.

5. Optional – I taped a picture of each kid, added a name and thank you/date on the side of the crap handprint as a personal touch.

completedcrabhandprint

That’s it! Easy enough, right? Like the quick and easy Crab Handprint Thank You Card? Subscribe to the blog to have new crafts emailed your way!

To the Amazing Mom of 4 That Bought My Costco Lunch Today…

Costco

To the amazing mom of four that bought my Costco lunch today, thank you. Thank you for the $1.50 hot dog and coke, and for so much more. For realizing I didn’t have my act together as I stood in the food line with the infant car seat perching on the loaded buggy and the 2 year old running off to press the handles at the coke dispenser. For realizing I felt horrible as my head cold made my entire face feel 5 times its normal size (yes, we for some reason tried to squeeze this trip in after the kids’ doctor’s appointment). Thank you for the perfect combination of listening, empathy and advice… you get it, not everyone does. Thank you for saying the transition from one to two kids was the most difficult for you. Some days I feel like we are getting into our groove and some days I just don’t know where to start.

You see, I’m learning… that in this most important role of motherhood, we are always learning. Just when you think the day is running so smoothly, boom! The temper of a hungry 2-year-old becomes the fuel to the 4 month old’s starvation cry and the flame to my already pounding headache. I’m learning there are moments when I just have to put my agenda on hold to meet the needs (or wants) of the kiddos.

‘Mama said there’ll be days like this’ and I’m learning just how true that is. I’m realizing how strong we mommas actually are! We cannot throw in the towel when we’re sick and need to rest. We gather the troops and go to the doctor and Costco because we need groceries and daddy is working (bless him). We snuggle, play, feed, clean up and do it all over again (and love most every minute of it). We go through hundreds of tissues a day during these household cold seasons. Seriously, it’s like a never ending wipe cycle. And sleep… don’t get me started there.

This ‘motherhood’ thing is so incredibly special. Women from all walks of life get it. I’ve been encouraged today by you, amazing mom of four. You took a moment out of your day (and $1.50 from your wallet) to stand beside me, telling me to hang in there. Telling me that being a mother to these two little rascals is the most important and satisfying role I could ever hope for. Thank you!

Oh and wait, you’ve done this four times? Wow. You are amazing! I will pay this forward.