Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 Projects in 40 Days

As Lent approaches each year, I try to take some time to re-evaluate my habits.  We are not religious people, but I think it's as good a time as any to try to make some changes.  It's about that time of year when the New Year's resolutions are starting to tank and we start to lose our motivation.  One year I gave up soda, which, if you know me, is a HUGE deal.  :)  I wasn't quite that ambitious this year.  I saw a post on Facebook about getting rid of 40 bags of "stuff" laying around the house in 40 days.  I really liked this idea because our home is slowly starting to be overrun with "stuff".  I wish I could blame it on the kids, but we have started to accumulate things that are absolutely unnecessary.  However, I am giving this plan a little tweak.

Instead of trying to get rid of 40 bags of unneeded items around the house, I am going to attempt to complete 40 little projects that are staring at me everyday.  Someone I work with read that if a task takes less than 5 minutes, you should just go ahead and do it rather than putting it your to-do list.  I am broadening this concept to 10 minutes for the projects here.  Sometimes these will take me more than one day to complete, but I feel like if I work on it for ten minutes, that's a manageable chunk of time that will put me that much closer to checking it off my list.  Here's how this began:

Day 1: Emmett's bookshelf has been calling for some reorganization over the last few months.  We have one of those awesome IKEA Expedit bookshelves with the eight squares that we used as a changing table.  It also housed diapers, blankets, sheets, towels, etc.  We kept four brown buckets up top for these things, and then the bottom shelf had books and stuffed animals.  He's been potty-trained for two years, so the buckets started to hold toys, pajamas, and all those things I didn't know what to do with.  The teacher in me LOVES to have an organized bookshelf, but his books were cascading all over the floor.  We were lucky to find the one particular book he was looking for that evening, and we are also fortunate that he rarely has "that one book" that he must read before bed.  

Last night I gathered all those random baskets I had in the attic from my classroom-teacher days, and I brought them down to his room.  I started trying to sort the books into categories that made sense to him and not necessarily to me.  However, I quickly realized that I had too many genres of books, and I only had eight spaces.  I asked Emmett for his ideas on how to sort them, but he was absolutely no help.  :)  I am trying to remember that he has just turned 4, and this is not his idea of good time.  I got about 1/4 of the way through and gave up for the evening.

Day 2: Tonight I sat back down on the floor with him even though it was way past his bedtime to resume the task of sorting books.  I ended up with the following categories:
-Dr. Seuss
-As Seen on TV (Thomas, Bubble Guppies, Planes, Cars, etc.)
-Animal books (which then spread to Other Nonfiction)
-trains, planes, and automobiles
-holiday books
-books Emmett can read by himself
-other fiction
-Elephant & Piggie, Clifford, other series books
-other large books that won't fit in the other baskets :)

While he helped me sort these books, we came across so many of them that he loved but had forgotten that he had.  He had a very difficult time choosing which book to read this evening before bed.  He always gets to pick one, and Greg or I will pick the other book.  We both chose an "oldie but goodie" tonight that we hadn't read in a long time.  

The whole point of this process was not only to organize his books but also to help him remember from what awesome books he can pick.  We've turned them from spine-facing-out to cover-facing-out to help him choose easier and to make the books more enticing.  I have no idea if he will be able to keep them organized, but it's definitely a teachable moment.  Greg thinks they'll be trashed again in about a week, but I have more faith in the system.  Tomorrow's project will be making signs for the baskets to help him (and Greg) learn how they're organized.  I'll post the picture tomorrow when it's complete!

Friday, April 26, 2013


I can't believe that it's time for Annie's first birthday!  Where has the time GONE??  I'm planning a pink ladybug party for her, and I have a week to get it together.  :)

The first part of getting ready included making a tutu for her.  I have seen ones that I've loved on etsy, but I can't justify spending $40 for one.  I am normally craft-challenged, but I decided to make one myself for a fifth of the price.  After browsing multiple tutorials online, I sat down today to start.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and I'm pretty happy with the result!  

Step 1: Cut pieces of tulle to length (15 inches for this one)

Step 2: Fold tulle in half.  Slip bended end through the hole in the crocheted headband.  Pull loose ends through the bended end (look for someone else's tutorial online).  :)

Step 3: Keep doing this for about 3 hours.  Literally.

Step 4: Put on head and pretend it's an amazing afro.  :)

Step 5: Take picture of hard work.

Now if she can only wear this heavy thing for a few hours...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fire Trucks-Week 2

Our Mail "theme" went so well last week!  I felt like I was a good mom, and Emmett got a lot out of reading books about the post office, mail carriers, and how the mail system works.  We even got a letter back in the mail from his teacher!  She is fantastic!! :)

Since last week went so well, we decided to do it again this week.  We picked fire trucks because this boy is FASCINATED with fire trucks.  Well, everything except the noise.

We went to the library again and checked out books on fire trucks, fire fighters, what to do if your house is on fire, and how to prevent fires.  We also got to go visit a fire station thanks to our good friend Christopher.  It was SO HOT outside, but he let us look at the trucks, climb on the trucks, and he even put on his fire gear for us.  Jessica and her two sweet boys joined us at the fire station for the "tour".  :)

We had the best time "driving" the truck, seeing all the cool tools, and testing out all the equipment.  But do you know who I think enjoyed it the most?  My husband.  :)  He was like a big kid that day.  He asked a lot of questions that he probably wanted to ask back in second grade when he visited the fire station, but never got called on to ask.

Emmett has been talking about it since we went, and I can tell he had a good time.  We wrote Christopher a thank-you note and colored a fire truck picture for him, and then we mailed it (see, combining the two weeks).  :)  I feel like I'm doing my part to enrich him (including fussing at him to put down the rocks and look at the firetruck, damnit) and to give him those hands-on experiences, and I hope it helps him to put the pieces together.  And I'm having fun, too. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mail-Week 1

So in my quest to do things with Emmett, we decided to write a letter to his teacher.  Because he loves the mailman mail carrier so much, I thought this would be a great opportunity to do some hands-on learning with him.  We wrote a letter to his teacher (okay, side story: We were having a great time drawing, and he kept pretending like he was going to write on the wall with his crayons.  I kept telling him that if he did that, we would have to stop our picture/letter to his teacher and put his crayons in Toy Time Out.  So what did he do?  Wrote on the wall.  I think I was more upset that we had to stop our fabulous mommy-son activity that I was so proud of and forcing on my son than he was.  Isn't that always the way?) and put it in an envelope.  I had to explain what an address was and why it was important.  Of course, I didn't have any stamps so we had to wait for me to get some from the store before the "lesson" could proceed.  I finally got the stamps, let him put it on (we're lucky it made it to the envelope), and headed to the post office (another place he LOVES).

Now, mailing a letter can take about 5 seconds when you drive through and put the letter in the box.  But now that wouldn't really be the right way to go about this.  So instead, I drag a two-year-old and a baby inside the post office just so he can stick the letter in the mail slot himself.  I got a strange look from the man who held the door for me but still tried to beat me to the line.  Thankfully I wasn't headed there or he could have gotten the stroller on the back of his ankles in a heartbeat.  He seemed to be saying, "Um, lady, you can just drive through over there.  Idiot."  So in we shuffle, stick the letter in the mail slot, and shuffle back to the car.

At the library today, we got two books on mail/mail carriers.  One book talks about what happens to the mail (The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves by Gail Gibbons) and one is called Goodbye, Curtis which is about a mail man who is retiring.  Guess what Emmett's teacher's name is who we mailed the letter to?  CURTIS!  We were MEANT to do this.  :)

I added my own personal note in the envelope to Curtis to explain what we were doing in hopes that she'll make a big deal about it on her end when she gets the letter.  The books and a little explaining here have helped him understand how it works, and I truly think he gets it.  We went out and met the mailman today when he dropped off the mail, too.  I am happy with how this whole experience went, but now I have to think of another one for next week.  :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Have you seen this car commercial?

I know it was meant to sell cars, but it struck home with me.  I feel like I spend most of my free time in front of the TV and the computer.  In this day and age where childhood obesity is at its highest, and I am certainly not winning any awards for being in shape, I am trying to look at the message I'm sending to my children.  When Emmett comes home from daycare where he's had fun all day with NO electronics, he sees me sitting in front of the TV or the computer, he gets bored and wants to do nothing but watch TV.  I feel like that's a huge parenting FAIL.  Don't get me wrong, there are times when I just need 10 minutes to feed Annie or 5 minutes to unwind, and Fireman Sam IS super hot, but he doesn't need to see me doing that for hours at a time.

So this week I have made a promise to myself to try to make a change.  When he comes home or when I spend time with him, I want to be completely unplugged.  This morning, it would have been so easy for me to turn on Super Why and he would be a happy camper.  However, Annie was cooperating while Greg cut the grass, so I sat down and played with my child.  We looked at pictures, we wrote a letter to his teacher at school, we played with puzzles, jumped up and down (not recommended for those with prolapse), and just had fun spending time together.  I feel better (less guilty), and I have to say I feel like I have a little more energy.

I don't want him growing up thinking that "really living" is us sitting in front of the TV or the computer.  In this age where everything is on a screen, I want him to look up and see what's going on in the world right in front of him.

To anyone reading this: PLEASE do not feel like I'm being judgmental of you or your parenting if your child is watching TV.  This is something I want to do to help ME unplug, to enjoy the world that's around me, and to encourage my children to do the same.  I may be back to watching TV tomorrow, but for today, I want to try to make a change.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Craft Addict

Pinterest is the devil.  Seriously.  I love looking at it for all the cool ideas that other people come up with and then decide that I need to make some of these things myself.  But as I've said earlier, I am not crafty.  Not in the slightest.  I have started two projects and found 3 more that I've either bought materials for or want to do and haven't completed ANY of them.  See below:

1. Pallet bookshelves started June...of LAST year.

2. Annie's hooks

3. Hair bow board...good thing Annie doesn't have any hair yet.
4. Growth chart ruler (see Sarah's blog) :)
5. Crate (see hell, I mean Pinterest)
6. Butterfly wreath (see Pinterest again)

Greg won't let me buy anymore supplies until I'm done with the projects I have.  Smart man.  To my defense, I AM taking care of a newborn.  She sleeps a lot, but I still don't feel like I can go run power tools outside while she's sleeping inside.  I guess that's what monitors are for, though.  I also don't feel especially confident in what I'm doing, so that makes me procrastinate as well.

Okay, goal for the week: Finish the bookshelves, Annie's hooks, and stain the wood for the ruler.  That should be simple enough.  Yeah, right.  :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012


While on maternity leave, I find myself needing to get out of the house EVERY DAY or I become super crabby.  Even though I previously vowed never to return to Hobby Lobby, I have found myself there at least four times.  It's like a moth to a blow torch...  I completely disagree with a large retail chain that is closed on Sunday and closes during the week at 8:00.  REALLY?!  How do you stay in business??  Oh, people like me, I guess...

On my most recent trip, I perused the fabric section.  Let me mention that I do not sew.  At all.  I don't even know how to turn on a sewing machine.  I have seen all of these fabulous projects on pinterest that require a sewing machine, and then I hang my head in shame.  Hot glue is my friend...thread is not.  I came across three beautiful fabrics that I would LOVE to do something with, but other than cutting them into a square, that's about the extent of my capabilities.  Here are three I saw:

This third one...had I seen it earlier, I would loved to have built a baby nursery around these colors!    I am sensing a pattern (pardon the pun) with the first and third one.  I had no idea I was drawn to black, white, light blue/teal, and lime green together.  :::Drooling:::

I did end up buying a simple fabric that's pale pink with brown circles on it.  I am going to use it (with my hot glue gun or stapler) to make a hair bow holder for Annie's room.  I just have to find a good frame and some ribbon I like.  Oh, and a place to hang it on the wall.  Did I mention I also bought fabric off of Pick Your Plum the other day as well, and I have NO IDEA what I'm going to do with it.  I think I was secretly hoping I would grow sewing skills overnight, but that is yet to manifest itself.  I'll keep you posted.  :)