Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You're supposed to give teacher gifts?! Quick help...

I am SO not one of those moms that have it all together!

So here I sit in blogland (a lot of them for this area) and learn that most moms/students give their teachers a gift upon arriving the first day back. So I see all these adorable back to school gift/crafts. I had NO idea!

Now when I was a wee one we never gave stuff to our teachers upon our arrival back to school, I mean besides the momentary excitement over the new outfit and the possible blip of excitement over new school pencils, crayons, and folders we weren't all that happy to be back. They were, after all, taking away our freedom play time!

So anyhow I am now seeing all these cute projects that I have absolutely no time for. and to be honest, like I said since i had no idea this was the trend, I wasn't planning on giving anything! Needless to say, I was not prepared! Story of my life.

Last minute, yes that is me, last minute Colleen, I decided I wanted something for the girls three teachers. Now why can't I ever decide to do something that doesn't put pressure on myself? When i say last minute, I mean it. It was 5pm the night before school starts. So I needed a quick and easy project that a teacher would actually use. I am NOT about giving gifts that one feels obligated to keep but really doesn't need or want. I really refuse to subject people to that!

I ventured to the dollar store, and alone with my 6 year old, tried to come up with an idea. About 10 minutes before I had to pick up the Cakes from soccer practice it struck me! Crayons (they are teachers of lil ones) a vase/votive holder, and flowers.

This is what I came up with....

Isn't it pretty? I am actually WAY more pleased with it than I expected. And it was fast and easy. And the cherry on top, not expensive, especially if you plan ahead, even dirt cheap! shhhhhhhh

What you need:

Glue gun
Crayons (the fat kind)
3. oz Dixie cup (plastic ones)
Vase/votive holder
Fresh flowers
Flameless tea light

All of these items came from the dollar store...

First take your crayons and open them up so you can move quickly. Then as you start, space them out just a little (they, at least in this vase don't go perfectly around. always do a test run first to see how they fit)

Put a dot of glue on the bottom and along the top side. Quickly place and press it into the jar. Continue this all the way around until your inside is filled with the crayons. Make sure they are stable and adding glue to any that might seem loose.

There your major part is done! Now just take a ribbon and glue it snugly around the neck of the jar (to cover the glue) and glue your little embellishment flower on.

Next fill the Dixie cup with half water, and set it in the middle of the crayons.

Arrange your flowers.

To give an added use I purchased (3 for a dollar) flameless votives and included an extra cup with the votive in it.

There you have it. A perfect cute back to school gift for your teachers!

The note I attached was cute, it said:

To color your day
Or to light your night
Hope this helps your school year
to start out right!

I even made my own floral pick by taking a stir stick and gluing a business card with the saying on it to the stick. Then I just stuck it amongst the flowers.

There ya have it, a pretty, cute, useful, inexpensive back to school teacher gift! Let me know if you think you might try something like this. Or upload pics (if you can?) or tell me about your variation on this project. I would love to hear/see the creativity!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frying pans, a belt, a medicine dropper, and an airplane....

An odd list at best. Strangely these things have quite a bit in common.

It all goes back a few weeks. Since we travel so much, one of the items on the girls menu of play is "airplane". So I wasn't surprised when Ali asked me if she could use one of our small travel bags to play with to take their babies on a plane. " Sure", I said and promptly didn't think anything more of it. (Hence the reason the bag sat there for weeks, in the first place!)

Fast forward a week or so, and then a little more to today. I swear I had been losing my mind over the past few weeks. And my hubby his sanity. He would ask me where his belt was, and in frustration I would answer, "the last place you put it." Wrong answer...I'll explain later.

I started to find I was missing things too. Maybe it wasn't him...maybe it was me!?! For example, the baby's medicine dropper, I had a couple, but couldn't seem to find the spare. Which was a pain because I don't always get it washed out right away.

Then my small frying pans (they were just in the back of the cabinet right?), and sippy cups, those things were disappearing faster than ice-cream for dinner (that's a whole other blog post!), and blankets were misplaced as well. But with three kids it is easy to see how one can lose her mind, ah-hem, mis-place things. So I chalked it up to small children memory loss.

Then today I decided to finally put away that little black suitcase that has been sitting so neatly by the couch for a few weeks.

Much to my astonishment I discovered...........

My daughters are hoarders!

Or at least really crafty lil buggers, i mean, packers.

It was like opening Mary Poppins purse! I discovered at first what seemed a normal child would take on a play airplane. A blanket, a few doll bottles, a few stuffed baby animals, but who ever accused my family of being normal!?

Then it started to get weird.

Mommy win moment; the pair of shoes I have been fighting with my daughter about loosing for a week. Another pans! Yes two of my very randomly missing skillets and one small sauce pan. And a lid.

As I unpack further I notice the baby's medicine dropper (still sticky by the way) and a nuk. And some more shoes. Oh don't forget the 5 belts, two pair of slippers, and a few diapers (which we are always low on by the way). And then there it was...

my husbands belt

Yep that's the one.
The one I so smartly, er-uh, sassily told him it was wherever he last left it. So it was true, he didn't loose it. (Does this mean I have to apologize? He knows I didn't mean it, right?) And my sanity, that wasn't lost either...until now!
Two lil thief's came and hauled it away.

Now I should have caught on a long time ago. They are constantly using the STRANGEST items to put/hoard stuff in. I can't even explain the odd things I have found in slippers, boxes, socks, shoes, purses, baskets, or any other random "open" item you can think of.

So there you have it. If you ever find you are missing something you know you shouldn't be missing. Go look in the strangest place you can think of and I promise, if you have small will be there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to pack Kids for an airplane ~ or any mode of travel

I write this, what seems would be such a simple topic, because I have never found one online tutorial to help me out.

I feel i have become quite an expert in the area, because exactly one year ago we moved 1,600 miles from home in WI to our new home in Sandy UT. When my hubby was deciding to make the move, he made sure we would be able to travel back to WI quite often to see family and friends.

So in the past year my children have made somewhere around 12-16 flights. (not including connections...just the there and back portions)

All of these flights have gone exceptionally well, except for flight #10, which you can read about here. Be prepared to laugh, it is quite humorous, now at least, looking back. Not so funny at the time however.

Any which way, I had searched and searched online for ways to pack three small children (6months-5) and keep them quiet and entertained on the excursions. We all know of, and are possibly guilty of, "the look" that other passengers give a poor young family.

There was next to nothing to help me. So after many travels I have my system down to a snap. I figured I'd share it with you. My hopes for this particular blog post is to really get it out there and circulating for those who are looking for something to help them, because there IS a science to traveling with small children!

So here goes. (how to pack a baby is at the bottom)

1. You want a backpack with NOT too many openings. (we tried that) and the more openings = more confusion and less your children can do themselves.

2. You want it to be LIGHT so they can carry it themselves. My middle was 3 at the time and she could carry hers most of the way.

3. You want to have enough different choices to keep them busy over several hours.

4. You want to keep their tummies full.

5. Everything you have/purchase for travel should only be for travel, do NOT let them play with it any other time, or it WILL loose it's power!

Coloring book
Crayons, pencil, and pens
2 Reading books
Pillow Pet
Water Bottle
Small Pouch with food
Food ideas: Squeeze applesauce, granola bar, dried fruit, rice krispie bar, 100 calorie packs, kool aid single...
Small McDonald Toy
Small toy
Tic Tac or small candy

The backpack we got had one big pocket and one smaller one (with a few compartments with in it)

Then one of the smartest purchases you can make is a SMALL pillow pet (ONLY let them use it for travel, then he is always new to them) They will almost always pull him out and lay on him. And a few lucky times you may just get them to fall asleep when they weren't planning on it.

To go with the pillow pet should be a blanket. You can't always count on the airplane to have em, and really are you sure you want to? You never know who has used them previously.

Wal- mart has these children's lap blankets that fold up nice and small, yet cover the child for $4 in the baby isles. I HIGHLY suggest them. Surprisingly these blankets come in handy in more ways that one. A blanket for when the air is on. A towel in an emergency, a floor cover for when you flight is delayed and they can play and rest on a clean spot.

Next you want quiet activities that dont involve you! ALWAYS a hit with boys or girls would be a small notebook (think dollar store or target dollar spot) and a baggie full of stickers. Again the dollar store has a great selection (if the page is big cut it in half) and target and walmart both have $ .99 stickers.

The can draw you precious pictures like this...

Also the tried and true crayons and coloring book. Get them a neat little pencil bag and new crayons to put in it. (right now is a fabulous time to purchase all of this, and if you plan on traveling a lot pick up a few packs (new is always more fun!) Add a pencil and maybe some dollar store gel pens and they are set.

A child of any age can "read" so pack them two books (you really dont need more, we have found two is the perfect limit, otherwise you are just adding bulk and weight, in the end for YOU to carry) Make sure these books are the paper back ones because they are easy to find and light to carry.

Save up, if you can, McDonalds or fast food toys. They make GREAT surprise toys that are free and fun for your children to discover. (Also dollar store sunglasses make them feel "cool")

Another great thing to find, is search garage sales, or goodwill for a small but really "busy" toy. In a girls case (I have three) I found this small wooden doll set (two dolls and tons of clothing) for $ .10 at a garage sale. Probably the BEST $ .10 I have EVER spent! They play for hours!

Lastly your food needs:

I found a great little clutch bag for $1 on clearance which makes finding the food easy and it is cute, therefor fun for the girls. I fill it with "treats" that they don't normally get. They mostly get healthy stuff, so for the purpose of the trip, they get fun candy and treats. They keep themselves busy eating this stuff for at least a good half hour.

You want a portable water thing (again not too big) because you can't bring water on, but I usually end up wanting a bottle myself and then I can just pour a small amount for each of them.

Additionally I pack a kool- aid packet for emergency like, THE HORROR, a delayed plane.

I always make sure to include a few healthy snacks as well. Dried fruit is wonderful and the best is the squeeze applesauce. They don't need to be refrigerated and they are approved by TSA so you don't have to do anything but disclose you have em!

Notice the pillow pet and blanket in the first picture?
One last important note: See the zippers in the last picture. Oddly enough, this is very important! It makes getting the items out of the bag MUCH smoother and accessible for the children if you make sure to keep them this way.

You don't want to over stuff the bag because when it is time to get off the plane surely everything will just be THROWN into the bag, not nicely folded and put away. Remember you will be in a hurry to get to your connection/destination.


Packing a baby/early toddler for the airplane

There are only a few differences to remember with a baby.

1. Their ears, they will not like ascent or decent
2. The busier they are the less they are aware
3. Food keeps em busy
4. They count on you for protection and comfort

For the baby you DO want a bag with many compartments, makes it easier on you to keep items separated.

The tower to the left is the most wonderful amazing baby food container. It holds cheerios, fishie crackers, etc and each is a small separate bowl. I LOVE IT!!!
If you can't find something like that, a bag like the one above for the girls works just as well.

The best part, you CAN bring juice and "baby food" for your child on the plane!! TSA approved. The Gerber small yogurt and/or juice drinks are approved. As are happy baby squeeze baby foods! They all fit easily in your bag and don't require ANY hoopla for bringing it on the plane!

You will always want a lovey, and favorite blanket, for obvious reasons.

You want a nuk even if your baby doesn't use one, you might be surprised that he/she will with the up and down of an airplane. (KK never used one, until teething and airplanes)

Have a fun snack (if they are old enough) that they don't normally get, I like the BUG graham cookies, because they like to tell you what you have, and eat it. Animal crackers is another good one.

Make sure you have two cups/bottles however if you plan on a juice, you will need one for water too. (again if the baby is old enough)

Some great toys for airplane play are:
Make it yourself! (or buy it for about $15) a seek n find. (notice the rectangle above) it is rice filled with a bunch of tiny charms. Stitch clear coat and fleece together and there ya go!!

A toy car

A small quiet rattle, they love some noise.

A Lovey to play peek a boo. This can keep a baby entertained for over a half hour if played right (over the backs of the chair, peeking from under your leg etc)

A board book to read (one by baby Einstein is the best, it has mirrors on every page and every baby loves the "baby")

Again a McDonalds toy or small building blocks keep them busy if it is new. Stacking blocks (small) w0rk well too.

Dont forget the diapers, a FULL thing of wipes. NEVER EVER assume you will be safe. Diapers, for a three hour flight you should have at least 4 and more likely 5.

Have a change of outfit

And lastly some handi wipes, because if baby is old enough to eat, if you can let him/her do it themselves, it takes longer and that means more of your flight time. However that will result in messy hands that need to be wiped fast and easy.

Oh ok and a PS, two quart sized zip lock bats. One for a diaper you just might not find a garbage can for and it is a total blow out. And one for a dirty outfit that can't be cleaned and is covered in scoopable poop. Come on it CAN happen to you!!!

Ok so there you have it! If you have any questions at all PLEASE ask away. I would love to help anyone in need of travel advice! Not only do we have experience in air travel, but our first treck out here was by van...with three sad daughters, and three unhappy kitties! So please ASK AWAY!!

Hope I have helped someone!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Resolution

Nope I didn't say New Years. Got ya. Just as well might be though. I have made it a few million times right now. I really want to post every day. This time I have a pretty legitimate excuse though...
I got a new computer and it decided it did NOT want to be friends with me!
Anyhow I have a short update on my precious lil girl. I figured this would get me started and maybe I will even do another post today to get me started. Do you even read this? I know some do? What changes would you like to see/make? I would gladly adjust my content etc to what you read. I mean you are the most part as to why I write :) So comment away.
Anyhow onto Alia:
Just when you are ready to pull out your hair, ready to give your kids away....for a day, ready to mark it impossible then they go and do something amazing.
We were at a welcome party for the girls school (for new families to the area and school) and Alia saw a lil girl that I had pointed out. She was sitting all alone with such a sad and far away look on her face. She was ever so quiet and still. She looked like she was almost to cry. I told Alia to go say hi, she could have told me no that she was too nervous (the girl did look a bit older) and I would have been ok with that. But nope not my Ali. She went over and met her and learned that she just moved here much like Alia did just a year ago (yesterday! can you believe it?!) The little girl had arrived two days prior to this meeting and she was sad no second graders were there.
What happened next won't leave this mommy's lil girl made her feel welcome and friended....My little Alia proceeded to tell her all the good spots on the playground and all the wonderful things about going to her school.
We as moms should make more of an effort to be like that. Once again we are reminded of that bible verse where we are told to "be like a child" "have faith like a child" Now you can see why. Children have an amazing way about them, that should be celebrated and cherished!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For the love of PAPER...and BINS

Go ahead and say it. I am weird. I know I know.

With all this modern technology that I do absolutely love. There is one flaw with me. I can't seem to totally catch on to it. I am one of those weird people who actually likes....paper!

I have an Ipod, Iphone, Ipad and a new computer. i have tried a million and a half apps for to-do lists and calendars. Note taking galore. Yet I still am waiting to find one that suits me. Yes I am quite complicated. It isn't as simple as it seems. I need the perfect combination of alarms (due to my quite alarming (hahaha no pun intended) ability to forget things, ie write your blog today colleen), "pretty" bells and whistles.

Yes I admit it. My name is Colleen, and I am a gimmick addict. A marketing sucker. The part my hubby finds hilarious? I majored in marketing and that is what I do on the side...advertising/graphical stuff. Yes, you can bet I love it if it is pretty.

Anyhow call me weird but I have a paper monthly calendar, note cards for my grocery lists and to do lists with a neat little case to hold it all, and bins. Tons and tons of BINS.

Over at Diaries of a Grumpy Grateful Mom she wrote this post on hoarding. You should go read sometime, she is so fun! It was quite hilarious. I love reading her posts because she is so real, and sooo like me! :) Anyhow it made me start thinking about my own desire to organize, yet again. I've been slacking on my "Hoardaing Buried Alive" show watching. (my motivation for cleaning)

I went downstairs and surveyed my bin pile, er-uh collection, I mean organizing tools. Yes I collect bins. I love organizing tools. The problem is, I have such GRAND ideas for them I hardly ever seem to fill them. I still buy them though. I really can see the end result right? I really do intend on using them, I promise! I WILL show you picture someday!

See this room? It WILL be empty and organized someday. Now mind you I just moved here a half year I do have some sort of excuse right? The other part of the excuse? I have not one, not two, but THREE daughters! You try to organize all those clothes. At their ages they grow out of them faster than I can "bin" them!!
Sooooo do you have any of this fancy technological stuff? Do you have an APP that you love and can't live with out? Please do share!! Leave a note below and tell me how you keep yourself organized and on track.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just simple thankfulness

I wasn't sure what I was going to write tonight. Another tutorial? A devotional? Something hilarious? (ok so am I ever that funny?)

Anyhow, as I was considering this I was watching nightline and it struck me. Something simple. Just my list of thankfulness.

Why did I come to this conclusion? They had on one of those 6 year old children, same age as my Alia, on. The ones from Toddlers and Tiaras. Don't even get me started on that show. But this was an interesting perspective. It was an interview and the mother TRULY believes she is doing for her daughter, when it is so plainly evident that she isn't. That poor little girl is so incredibly well trained to look for cues, non verbal mostly, from her mother for every instance for her life that she doesn't have the true ability to think for herself. It just makes me so sad to see. I want to cry for the little girl. Where has her innocence gone? where is it going if she gets, and I quote the mother, "the American dream of her getting a big movie roll"?

So that got me thinking of all the blessings I have been given in my children:

The fact that they can paint whenever they want, as in yesterdays post
The fact that they can throw a tantrum and get punished for it, and learn, and grow
The fact that they KNOW i love them no matter their looks or performances
The fact that they can revel in Gods beauty from nature
The fact that they can enjoy tubing in the chilly pristine mountain water
The fact that they can eat junk food as treats like kids are meant to
The fact that if they ask me to go play with them I can, I'm not too busy working on their next feat

I vow:
To protect my girls
To preserve their innocence as long as I possible can
To love them unconditionally
To discipline them when needed
To give an element of fun in every day they have
To teach them right from wrong
To teach them to respect and humble themselves to others
To adore my girls over anyone or anything else
To raise them to love Jesus, who he is, and what he stands for
To create excitement about learning
To teach them compassion
To hug them every day
To tell them I love them every time that feelings comes upon me!

So right now, when maybe yours are frustrating you. Just remember, they are all precious in His sight, and He did give them to you for a reason. They, naughty and all, are lucky to have you as their parent! Love them with every breath and strength you have. Treat every day as your last. And be glad you aren't famous!

Sorry this may have not been the most exciting post to read today, but I guess it is what is on my heart at this moment. And the next bed! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Learning how to paint chalk.....

Oh my goodness! It has been almost a month since I posted?! I know, that is a no no! So sorry. We went back to WI for vacation. And man did I miss it. We just moved out to Utah almost a year ago...and I do like it here, but LOOK at these beautiful sunsets over the water? Couldn't be more calming.

Isn't it purdy?

Anywho, getting to what I wanted to write about today. If you haven't heard or caught on, the new biggest "thing" is Pinterest. And I think I am in love. I saw my fellow bloggers posting about it for a while and never checked it out, then, just then someone posted a recipe i wanted so bad, but you needed pinterest for it, so she said we could ask for invites, and that is exactly what I did! And I AM IN LOVE!

So I learned of sidewalk chalk paint. And I thought MAN that sounded easy and fun, so a paintin we went...

However getting there I have a few additional tips I learned.

I started out, with dixie cups, which I DON'T recommend! I put two TBSP cornstarch and two TBSP water in each of them, which proceeded to create little cups of cement! Not exactly painting material!

So don't get any ingenious ideas like me, stick with the good ol classic bowl.

Put in approximately (really it is much easier to just add till it feels right) EQUAL parts water and cornstarch. Mix till it is dissolved and your spoon doesn't grab at the bottom (if it does add little bits of water to it), It will seem fairly "watery" for "paint" this is ok, that is what you want!

Then pour your solution into those dixie cups, or for me, DI had (goodwill) your old fridge egg holders, which were perfect for this.

Note the cute little handle? How PERFECT is that for little kids!? I was pretty excited. They were, get this, a whopping $ .25 each!!

Once ready put at LEAST 5 drops of food coloring into each one. If you do less it really won't show up.

Viola! You are done! Go out and paint and have fun.

Ok I'm gonna tell you something, but promise to not laugh at me? Pinkie swear?

This stuff dries looking like you drew a creation with chalk!

I know I know, hence the name. But I was just thinking more sidewalk paint, so I was tickled pink when I saw it dry and look like this:

I know lame right! I guess I don't get out much these days. Or wait I do, to join in the fun! Pardon the fingers, my 6 year old wanted to take a pic!

So there ya have it. It took minutes to make and was worth over an hour of fun! Go for it. Let me know how yours turned out!