Vintage. It's pretty much just a nice word saying old. The other day, a friend of mine's child was over playing with My Little Ponies. Sunshine's My Little Ponies used to be mine, the originals from 1983. This other child's mom wasn't even born yet in 1983. But I digress. The child made a comment about wanting ponies like Sunshine's. I decided to get on Ebay and look them up. Vintage. That's what they are labelled as. I did the same search with Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears and Pound Puppies. Vintage and Classic. Those were the words used to describe originals for the 1980's. Originals that I still have and have passed down to my children. I'd hate to see the word they use for my 1977 Clifford the Big Red Dog. The positive spin on this is that "vintage" has a large price tag. My kids got vintage for free.
Starting next week, for the first time in 6 years, I will have kid free time during the week. I have all these huge ideas of what I plan on accomplishing. I have these crazy plans of getting my house in much better order. Honestly, it's not bad now, but there are some things that just can't find homes. I plan on finding them homes. I plan on refinishing my hardwood floors. A couple of months ago, I tried this product called Restore-A-Floor on half of my downstairs hardwood flooring. It wasn't a miracle restorer, but it worked nicely. Gave the floor back it's shine. Due to children and lack of room to move furniture, I never finished the other half of the floors. So that's on the list. I plan on baking. I love to bake, but lack the time. I plan on exercising. I may not run since my race will be over in 3 more weeks, but I plan on doing yoga regularly now. I plan on finally painting my bathroom baseboards (that technically the contractor should have done 5 years ago). I plan on having more fun activities planned for the kids. Well, not planned, prepared is a better word. I'm constantly planning them, but we get into it and then I don't have one or two things we need. I completely plan on being better prepared for that! I plan on making some cute little homework/paperwork boxes for the kids, OK, really for Husband, to keep the kids' school work separate from all the other paperwork floating around the house. I plan on reading. I plan on finishing projects I've started but found I can't complete with the kids around. Sunshine's tutu is a great example. I started it 4 months ago, but every time I pull it out to work on, Sunshine plays with all the tulle and then I spend the next session of tutu making trying to reorganize it to cut. I plan on walking Puppy. Since the kids are learning how to ride bikes, Puppy hasn't gone for decent walk.
In reality, I'll probably get very little of this done. I'm pretty sure the first couple of weeks I'll be so excited to have "free" time, I'll sit and watch Glee. Then I have to factor in the every other week doctor appointments for my neck and the every other week volunteering in Monster's class. Let's not forget the weekly grocery shopping as well. Even though I tend to be a realist, I still like to dream big.
I am that parent who does not send plastic baggies in my child's lunch. I am that parent who has 100 tupperware containers and my poor kid has to take keep track of them. Monster got to have the unique experience of eating lunch at preschool, which is quite uncommon in this area. Over the past three years, Monster has gotten better at keeping his stuff together. When he attended Goddard when he was 3, the rule was you immediately go put your stuff in your cubby when you're finished with it. The containers almost always made it to the cubby, but not in the lunch box, but he was 3. When he was 4, he went to a different preschool. They had to keep all their stuff together until the end of lunch. The first month was tough getting stuff home, then he got the hang of it. Camp Invention this summer, he only lost a lid. Not bad considering the boy eats like a horse so he literally always has about 5 containers in his lunch. Still, I thought there has to be an easier way that is still eco-friendly.
One day, the kids were watching an episode of Curiosity Quest Goes Green. The episode was all about cutting down waste in schools. In this episode, they had these awesome lunch boxes. I knew I had to get Monster one. It was just what I was looking for! Go Green lunch boxes are one piece boxes with separate leak proof containers. One of the coolest parts about this lunch box is that it can be used for many years. The soft cover/case can be bought separately when the old one is worn out. If a gasket starts to go bad, you can order new ones. And, it's dishwasher safe! Another great thing about this lunch box is that I was able to support an Ohio company. I ordered it online from Natural Kidz, which is based out of Toledo. The negative? The initial cost. It's about 3 times as expensive as a lunch box from Target. If you look at it as an investment though, it makes it worth it. You won't be buying baggies, containers or even lunch boxes for several years.
Monster can not wait to use his new lunch box. We went to a environmental magic show on Monday, and he tried to tell the magician all about the lunch box, but the magician had never heard of it. I'm hoping that kids seeing Monster's cool lunch box gets the word out and these kind of lunch boxes become more of the norm. Bento boxes are another good choice, but then you still have the problem of kids keeping track of all the pieces. We'll probably move into Bento boxes for middle school because they definitely look "cooler" and more mature. My biggest issue now is that Sunshine wants a Go Green lunch box, too! She's not going to a preschool where she takes her lunch, so she's out of luck until first grade.
Monster is above average in reading by at least two grade levels. This makes finding books for him a challenge. He's still at the age where he enjoys picture books, but he gets bored with them quickly because they are too easy for him. He loves Magic Tree House, Magic School Bus, and Flat Stanley books, but I want to give him more variety.
When I came across this list on Pinterest, I was, of course, excited and intrigued. I repinned it, and left it for when I could look at it more closely.
I finally got a chance to do that today. I was extremely disappointed. First, more than half the books aren't quality books. They are books that I would deem inappropriate for any child, let alone younger kids. Yes, they might be "funny" for boys, but they're teaching bad manners and lessons. Then there are the superhero books. These would be fine for a lot of boys, but Monster isn't into superheros. There are some good baseball books on this list, which Monster would be interested in, for a moment, but he's not that into baseball either. The bigger problem though is that the books on his reading level are inappropriate for his age content wise.
I guess I'm going to to have to come up with my own list. A list for gifted readers. I plan on introducing the Boxcar Children series next. Encyclopedia Brown is also good, but just a bit above his comprehension because of the content, but he'll be there soon. He currently reads those to Daddy and then Daddy helps explain parts he doesn't understand. It's great one on one time for them.
So, my mission for the summer is to compile a list of appropriate books. Wish me luck and PLEASE offer up suggestions!
Holiday weekends are always insane around here. Often times, we need at least one more day off to recover from our day off. This weekend was no exception. Memorial Day weekend is always a little bit more crazy around here since Monster's birthday falls right around, or on, it. Our weekend started out with Monster having an ear infection. Five years ago, the same thing happened. Not a great start to the weekend, but Monster is tough and, other than his hearing, was feeling fine by Friday afternoon, sort of. Nothing says, "Happy Birthday", like throwing up your dinner. Monster was not about to let a little puke get in the way of a cake pop though. After tossing his cookies, he showered, brushed his teeth, came back down, and devoured more macaroni and cheese and a cake pop.
Saturday, I spent the day with my mom. After soccer that is. I love starting out my Saturday mornings with Sunshine's soccer. It is so much fun watching her and the other little kids out there. When soccer was over, I headed up to my parents' house to help out my mom for the day. Even though my dad is a huge help, there are just some things that need a little more patience. Like shopping. We spent the majority of the day at Sam's Club, the Hallmark store and Miles Farmer's Market. It was so much fun! I love taking time and shopping with just my mom. Reminds me of when I was young. She was wiped out and I was pumped up by the end. We accomplished a lot. I like that I was able to do something to help her out. Can't wait until we plan our next day out!
Sunday was A Day Out with Thomas. We went last year as well and the kids loved it! This year, we learned from out mistakes last year. We did tattoos very first thing, because that's what the kids were most interested in. Then, we got to the bounce houses before everyone else. From there, we got pictures done before a line formed. Then it was time for our ride! Sunshine said, "Dat was super fun. Can we ride on Thomas again?" After our train ride, we listened to Thomas stories, colored Thomas pictures, and played with Thomas legos. Everything other than the ride is free of charge. I highly recommend it if your child is a Thomas fan!
After Thomas, we went out to lunch at Subway. This is the first time Sunshine has ever eaten there. Apparently, if we need fast food, this is the place to go. Monster and Sunshine both ate more than Husband and I. No kids meals for my kids. They get the 6" subs! During nap time, we decided to move the computer desk. That required cutting all the zip ties that held all the cords together. Monster loved helping. He especially loved that there was a Children's Dictionary that we took off the desk to move it. He's been reading the dictionary on stop since. We had a tiny bit of down time after rearranging furniture before Grandpa came over. The kids love hanging out with Grandpa. We made pizzas for everyone and watched a little Jack Hanna.
Monday was crazy catch up, do nothing, do everything day. Kids slept in, which was awesome. I got on making up some Chore Cards. I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea. Problem was, I didn't actually LOOK at the pin until I was ready to use it. It was an Etsy pin and the pdf for the cards cost $6! Ridiculous! I knew I could make my own. I did two different cards. Not sure which one I like better, but here they are, for free. Chore card 1...it's bigger than business card size, about 2 business cards put together. Kind of like that about it. Chore card 2...used a free business card template on Google Docs. Like this one because there are more per page. Basically, what the idea is that for each chore, the kids get a hole punch. Once their cards are filled, they get something. In our case, it's 10 cents (my kids are still young enough I can get away with 15 chores for a dime). Then we can go to Ritzman Pharmacy and get a sucker or candy. They still have candy for a penny there!
After making up chore cards and hanging out with the family, marathon laundry started. Kids played outside. Husband cleaned the garage. It actually went very smoothly. Went to Home Depot in there also. After lunch, both kids fell asleep! When everyone got up from naps, we played outside more and did more laundry. Grandpa came over again, too. Kids taught him how to play Mille Bornes. We cooked out....after all, it was Memorial Day! Before dinner, I was testing Monster's hearing, which had been off since the night before we found out he had an ear infection. I happened to ask, "Do you want ice cream?" Well, he heard, and so did Sunshine. Because of this, after dinner, they both expected ice cream. On the spot, I happened to remember seeing a "recipe" for homemade ice cream in a bag, in 5 minutes. Did a quick search for it and found it. Because I'm a crazy coffee drinker, I happened to have half and half, which is the main ingredient. The kids loved it and it was so simple. I found it on the Family Fun website. Here's the "recipe".
1 c. half and half
2 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pour ingredients into a pint size (I only had quart) Ziploc bag and seal. In one gallon Ziploc bag, use 1/2 c. Kosher salt and fill half way with ice. Place cream bag into bag with ice. Shake for about 5 minutes, checking to see when cream turns solid.
Note to beginners. The gallon bag will leak from all the shaking. Don't do what I did and shake it over your nice hardwood floors. That gets salt water everywhere. Also, don't set the bag down on your oak kitchen table. Same thing. Next time, I'll either shake over the sink or on the porch, not walking around the house. However, it was a good reason to mop my floors.
After the kids were in bed and Grandpa left to head back to Illinois, Husband and I cleaned the basement. I love cleaning the basement. I just love cleaning. It looks so nice down there now. All that's left to do is vacuum, which I'm headed to do as soon as I finish typing this.
All in all, it was a crazy, busy, fun weekend. Makes me look forward to summer with the kids! Now if we just set up our pool, we'll be set!
This weekend, we finally got around to refinishing a desk that we had for Monster. One of the local schools had closed and was just giving away all their desks. The desks were old and not in the best condition, but I saw potential....and it was free. We took the desk apart. We scuffed the top with fine sand paper so paint would stick. We used steel wool on the metal bottom part to remove the rust. Then, we painted. We used chalkboard paint for the top of the desk. I was planning on doing this to a table we have when the kids get older, but this worked out even better. The bottom, since it wasn't in the best shape, we used spray paint with primer added and a hammered finished to cover the imperfections of the desk. Only problem we encountered was that we painted it outside and got a lot of dust stuck to the top, so it's very rough and doesn't clean up well. I'm thinking of sanding it a bit and then adding a layer of magnetic paint. Even with a rough top, it turned out pretty nicely.
Because Monster got a "new" desk, Sunshine got the one Husband had built for Monster. I asked her if she liked her new desk and she replied, "Not so much." When I asked her why she told me, "I wish it were pink." That's Sunshine. I guess this weekends projects will include stenciling some pink and purple ballerinas on the white desk.
My kids had their first friends sleep over Friday night. They are used to friends coming over and then going to bed here, but when they wake up, the kids are gone. This time, their friends were still here!
Sleepovers are right up my alley. I had fun stuff planned. The girls were going to make masks (Monster already made one), we'd go to the park, we'd all snuggle and read in our jammies, when we got up, everyone would have a fun breakfast. I think big. With a 5, 4, and two 3 year olds, things don't always follow a plan. It was still fun though! When the girls got here, they all just wanted to play inside. I was all prepared to let them dig in the dirt outside, but no one was interested. I made dinner and they all entertained each other. I tried to sneak in some extra veggies with Kraft's new Veggie Mac and Cheese. Not so good. The two oldest devoured their first helpings and asked for more. They each took about 3 bites of their second helpings and were done. Monster came over and whispered to me, "The more bites I take, the less good it is". The two youngest wouldn't touch it. So, that was a fail. However, the zucchini cupcakes were a hit...I can't take credit for those though. The girls' mom made them.
When dinner was done, we all headed out to the park. Me and four kids. It went better than I anticipated for the first 20 minutes. Then, there was almost a trip to the ER. Sunshine fell off the teeter totter and landed on her arm. It was hanging limp. I have to say, the kids were AWESOME for this. I told everyone we had to go and get Sunshine home so Mr. R could check out her arm to see if we had to go to the ER and they all hustled! Mr. R just happened to be walking up to the park to meet us at that moment and checked it out. Sunshine was able to move it and freaked out about not being able to stay and play, so we figured she was fine (and she is). We got to stay for another 20 minutes at the park before we all walked home. All the physical activity must have worn everyone out because when we got home, one of the girls asked if it was bedtime yet! I was going to make the masks with the girls then, but everyone just wanted to play. I love that all four of the kids were able to get along. The four year old was such a great helper. We were looking for the GloDoodle pen and she helped me pick everything up and organize to try to find it. By the time we were done, we still didn't find it and it was time for bed. I expected some tears for feeling like she didn't get to play since she was helping me, but there were none! My kids would have lost it and I would have heard, "But I didn't get to play!". I may have to borrow her every night to teach my kids to clean up!
Bedtime went a lot more smoothly than I had thought. Mr. R. read stories to the girls. I tucked everyone in. Then, Mr. R. read stories with Monster. One of the girls asked why Monster got to stay up and read stories. I let her know he would be going to bed soon, too, but he was older so he got to stay up a little later. A problem that I didn't foresee was Puppy. Puppy desperately wanted to sleep with the kids. Any of the kids. He first tried Sunshine, but was shooed out. Then he tried Monster and was again shooed out. Then he found he could bother the girls. The girls asked to sleep with the door cracked open. Puppy kept nosing his way in. The last time I had to drag him out, one of the girls came downstairs to tell me Puppy was in the room and when I found him, he was hiding on the far side of the bed facing the corner as if to say, "You can't see me!". After we finally locked Puppy on the porch, everyone fell right asleep.
Husband blew up an air mattress and we camped out in the living room. By 9:30, I could no longer keep my eyes open and fell asleep while Husband watched TV. At 3 am, Husband and I collided. Either he didn't blow the mattress up enough or there was a slow leak, either way, the mattress was going flat and we rolled into each other. We spent the next 3 hours trying not to move or bump into each other, unsuccessfully. Finally at 6am, we gave up and tossed the mattress aside and slept on the floor.
A little after 7:00, the girls got up. A house rule is that, on weekends, kids don't get out of bed until 7:30. I'm a firm believer in everyone following house rules, even if they are guests. Luckily, I know these kids well enough to know they (and their parents) will have no problem with this. I have the oldest one go to the bathroom. She comes out and her sister goes in. While her sister is in, she whispers to me, "I didn't flush so I wouldn't wake anyone up." About 10 seconds later, her sister flushes the toilet. The look on the older one's face was priceless. It was a mix between panic and annoyance. She stops and listens and then says to me, "Good, that didn't seem to wake anyone." Such the little mama. They both got back into be and just hung out in their room until 7:30 (after I had made coffee and had my first cup). We were building with Lincoln Logs when my kids got up. I could hear Sunshine upstairs, super excited her friends were here. Monster came down and started building with us. When Sunshine came down, the first words out of her mouth were, "No! I don't want you play with that!". And so the struggle began. From that point up until we left for soccer, Sunshine was no ray of sunshine. It's obvious we need to work on sharing.
There was a 40 degree in drop in temperature over night, so soccer was cold. Very cold. The girls and I all went to soccer while the boys got their haircut. We froze. After about 10 minutes, I asked the girls if they wanted to sit in the van. They jumped on that opportunity. The older one came out and joined me again, but the younger one wanted nothing to do with being out in the cold drizzle watching Sunshine kick a ball around.
After soccer, I took the girls home. Monster was a little sad I didn't bring the girls back to play more. We had a lot of fun with our sleepover! I was beat. I actually took a 2.5 hour nap. The kids can't wait to do it again. Now that we know the girls will definitely sleep here, we will most definitely do it again! Hopefully next time, I can work in all my fun plans :)
I do not consider myself a trendsetter. I also don't jump on the bandwagon. In fact, I tend to rebel against the bandwagon. A question someone asked me the other day got me thinking about this though. For some reason, I'm always a step ahead of the trends. I was grunge before it became J Crew. I was a vegetarian before people even knew what that meant. I was green before it was the new black.
I have always be concerned about the earth. When I was young, maybe 11 or 12, I made my parents buy these things for the toilet that helped conserve water. This is back when Seventh Generation was one of the only green companies around. I wanted my parents to use all of their products. My parents weren't exactly on board, but they gave in to some of the stuff. They started recycling because of me, and then the city caught on several years later. In high school, one of the first clubs I joined was the Environmental Club. My Senior year, I was co-president. I went to Earth Day rallies before people even understood what Earth Day was. I have always believed that one person can make a difference.
Now that I'm older, I've improved my green practices. We recycle, even though our city swears they pick through the trash and get all the recycling out. I don't believe that's effective enough. I actually start to feel guilt if I throw something away that could potentially be recycled. Just the other day, I took a new package of bubbles and blowers to a friends house and I brought the packaging home with me to recycle since I knew she doesn't recycle those things. Crazy, I know. Extreme? I don't think so. Other than recycling, I clean green. I use a LOT of vinegar and essential oils. I'm also still a Seventh Generation fan and like Method as well. I buy biodegradable trash bags. I try to buy local, organic produce. I don't use chemicals in my garden. I'm also raising tree huggers. Both my kids are very aware of their impact on the environment. Monster even has the terminology correct and lets people know that he's trying to reduce his carbon footprint.
The issue comes with my desire to rebel against trends. It seems as though everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon. When everyone jumps on is normally when I jump off. I am thrilled to see people being more concerned for our planet. At the same time, I don't think most of these people actually get it. I'll use my mom as an example (sorry mom). My mom takes her own bags to the grocery store. She recycles. She may even be more fanatical about recycling than I am. She donates unused items instead of throwing them away (but I don't consider that green, I consider that common sense). My mom loves her chemicals though. Up until a year or two ago, my mom used to put the super strong Lysol disinfectant in her laundry along with her detergent, a color brightener, and liquid fabric softener. Every cleaning product in her house is a super strong chemical. I also think my mom needs to buy stock in Ziploc. Even though my mom recycles, she also uses a ton of paper. She prints things left and right. Now, my mom is also 76 years old, and, she's gotten WAY better and she's not jumping on the bandwagon. A lot of the stuff she does is because I've talked her into it. I'm just trying to prove a point. A lot of people doing "green" things are doing them because it's now popular, but they aren't changing their other habits. In fact, even companies who claim they are going green still use a ton of packaging materials. For the same event in which I brought the bubbles, my friend had brand new sidewalk chalk. The chalk was in a box. Each row of chalk was wrapped in cellophane. Come on. You can't just stick the chalk in the box?
I am so happy to see the United States moving towards better environmental practices. It disappoints me though that we have to sell the public on these practices by making them seem "cool". It disappoints me that the public is jumping on a bandwagon they know nothing about and most don't even care about. At least I know I'm still doing my part and raising kids who aren't just jumping on the bandwagon. They are the future of environmental trendsetters.
As some of you may have read before, I swear by Shout Color Catchers. I also swear by OxiClean. So when I saw Shout Color Catchers with Oxi, I was totally up for trying them. Here's my advice. Don't bother. Not enough Oxi booster to do any good. I'm glad I fought off temptation to buy a million boxes and just bought one to try. Not worth the extra money.
...that's the song that Husband says keeps running through his mind today. Two crafty projects done today. I'm pretty excited about them. First one is my lost sock holder. The whole family participated in this one. Husband found the perfect piece of plywood. Sunshine and Monster painted it. I painted the clothespins and the 'Lost Socks'. Husband nailed the clothespins and hung it up. I don't have a fancy laundry room. In fact, I don't have a laundry room. It's just our basement, so I didn't need anything fancy. This is plain, simple, and functional.
Second project I did today took no time at all and the kids haven't stopped wearing them. I made Super Capes. Not just Super Capes, but super simple super capes! I've always got clothes to give to the homeless shelter, so I didn't have to go digging for anything special for this project. I just grabbed 2 shirts, a pair of scissors, and a Sharpie. I cut the backs out of the shirts and the cut "straps" out. After that, I super super letters on the back. These aren't as nice or fancy as the super shirts with capes we got from SpoilMeRottenGifts, but they are great for quick play. Best part, if these get destroyed, it doesn't matter, I can always make more.