Monday, January 16, 2017

I was soapin' you'd be my Valentine!

Right after we pack away the Christmas decorations, I start brainstorming about class valentines.  The Nugget's gifts are especially challenging since he's at the wonderfully hippie Montessori school - no sweets, nothing that feels too disposable, and of course now he's a big third year, so nothing too "babyish".  Tall order, but I do love a challenge!

The Nugget and I both love science, and awhile ago, we tried out the Ivory soap experiment.    I thought I could cut the bars and type out simple instructions to make a take-home experiment!  I suggested it along with a few other ideas, and the Nugget immediately wanted to share his love of scientific discovery.

The Nugget's first question was, "But what will you write?"  In our house, valentines = cheesy sayings.  I had no clue, so I actually Googled "cheesy valentines messages" and found this glorious list.  The winner was, "I was soapin' you'd be my Valentine!" and had the Nugget rolling on the floor in laughter.  He chose the font, printed and cut the paper strips.  (He's been given official permission to use the paper cutter and boy does he love it.)  I used a glue stick to mount the strip onto red construction paper.  You could use cardstock or cute patterned scrapbook paper if your child would like to fancy it up a bit.

We went to the store to buy Ivory soap (only $4/10 bars, which become 20 valentines) and inexpensive cello bags.  He happily peeled and chopped the soap bars with a pastry cutter, and I packaged them.  Normally, getting him to put the soap wrappers in the trash would have been a huge ordeal, so I just pulled the trash can out of the cabinet and sat it on the floor below his workstation, and he dropped them right in as we went along!

The baker's twine is from the Target Dollar Spot during last year's Valentine's clearance.  I have an old dresser in the basement with drawers dedicated to holding goodies for the smaller holidays, so it was easy to find in the Valentine's drawer.  I stacked the gift tag with the instruction tag, hole punched them, and attached them to the bag with the twine.

I'm super excited and only mildly concerned that I will get emails from annoyed parents ;) It is just soap, after all!  Bonus use for the expanded soap foam - Fairy Mud!  Giving the Nugget permission to unroll a whole lot of tp made his day!

Christmas 2016

The highlight of my Christmas was spending time with family, especially my newest nephew!  Let's blog-name him, shall we?  We accidentally have a food theme going, so Baby Brisket it is!  Anyway, Baby Brisket is perfection - snuggly, soft, adorable, and has that fabulous newborn smell.  Since I'm an adoptee genetic island without any family resemblance before nor aft, it is crazy/amazing/wonderful to see a tiny clone of my brother.  (Wouldn't trade my gorgeous non-clone children for anything though, of course!)

Day 1:

At Aunt B's party, while I was marinating in Baby Brisket goodness, Spork got busy drawing a snowman and leading a raucous parade.

Tater reunited with uncles, cousins, and possibly ate nothing but potato chips and Aunt B's famous butter cookies.  And the Nugget (not captured on film) somehow mastered playing "We Three Kings" on a toy accordion.

Day 2:  

A glorious early morning with a solo trip to World Market for mama and then splashing with our little swimmers in the hotel pool!  The Nugget has a serious love for hot tubs.

Delicious taco soup at Grammy and Grandpa's and hanging out with Aunt E and Uncle N.  Aunt E generously let Tater play with her Samantha, while we looked through a crusty old Caboodle full of "treasures" from our youth like plastic sunglass pins, a t-shirt clip made from a seashell, and single clip-on earrings.  

Then off to introduce my kids to Milk & Honey.  Spork asked 3 times if we could come back here every time we visit, and he's determined to eat a banana split next time.

The Nugget was slightly panicked by the vast quantity of ice cream on his rootbeer float, but he managed.  We threw our sugared up children into their church clothes and made it to the most crowded Christmas Eve Mass I've ever seen.

Day 3:

Sparkling grape juice for the Nugget in a wine glass at Aunt K and Uncle J's Christmas extravaganza!  Toys everywhere, "A Christmas Story" running on a loop, cousins laughing and chasing each other hysterically up and down the stairs, cheesy potatoes and plenty of wine.  Maybe the best Christmas ever.  Except for Daddy, who had to put together the Nugget's robotic hand, ha!

Day 4:

Movie time! We met up for "Sing", then lunch at Burntwood Tavern (thumbs up for the fish sandwich, thumbs down on the chicken parm, and I want a date there so I can sit in a tent!) and SkyZone.

Bean was determined to sit next to the Nugget and watch him Minecraft away, and Tater wanted to color with Cabbage, so we swapped kids for lunch with pretty good results.  I got to sit at the boys' table!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monsters from the north

This child has discovered makeup and face paint, and let's just say that moderation isn't her strong suit.  This was layer #1 (she's an owl), and she added layers 2, 3, 4, and 5 after the picture was taken!

Tater occasionally tiptoes down the stairs in the middle of the night, does something mysterious, and then goes back to bed.  We don't interrupt the process - so far, whatever she does at night doesn't seem to cause messes or trouble.  Anyway, in the morning, sometimes she will recount a bit of what happened during her night walks.  "When I came downstairs last night, there were tiny people walking down the railing and down the steps with me.  They were so tiny!"

Tater was putting the finishing touches on a creation made from washi tape, paper, band-aids, curling ribbon, and Scotch tape.  When we asked her to please set it in a safe place before bed, she declared, "Well, ooookaaay, but the monsters are just going to get it."  I offered to write a sign for the project that read, "Monsters, do not touch!"  She was pleased with the suggestion and helped me make the sign, but when I positioned it next to her project, she shook her head.  "It needs to go over here.  The monsters come from that direction."  (She pointed to the north, just in case you need to adjust your own monster-related signage.)

T:  When I sleep at night, there are a lot of tiny Mommies that sleep in my bed too.
M:  Do they look like me?
T:  Yep!  But they're wearin' pajamas and making little sleepy sounds.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Woodworking with Beavs

So it's been awhile, but the long running joke is that Spork is a reincarnated beaver.  It all started, because he was round and roly-poly just like the beaver I used to love at the zoo.  He also made a whiny vocalization that was exactly the sound the beaver made.  Then we started seeing other similarities - the way he would buck and twist to get down...just like the beaver!  The way he was fascinated with sticks and logs!  The way he gnawed on his wooden crib rail and the windowsill!  He is round-cheeked, industrious, and strong.  Anyway, he did some renewed beavering this past month.

One day, he was furiously running from couch to doorway with loads of pillow and blankets.  He stacked them with great fervor and precision.  This is especially notable because Spork usually begs for help and feigns incompetence with most projects, but he was boldly and decisively working at great speed.  When asked what he was doing, he said, "I buildin' dis so nuffin' can get through here!"  "Like a dam?" I asked.  "Yeah!  It a dam."  It was indeed, a well-built dam.

We recently got out the nativity set, and while Tater and the Nugget made the types of comments you would expect:  "Ooo, I remember this!  There's a baby in here!"  "I think there's a donkey and a lantern that lights up."  Spork had a different focus:  "Oh, I love dis.  I chop wood, put it in a pile."  He was remembering background accessories - a woodpile with a tiny hole for a mouse, an ax and stump, presumably for chopping firewood.  He immediately hunted for the ax and went to work chopping the wood with exaggerated flair.  This kid keeps me laughing!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tater's Rollerskating Party

Tater celebrated with her friends at the roller rink this year.  The local rink is a bargain but sticklers about the time - 10 min to set up, 10 min to tear down, and that's it!  So I scaled back a bit on decor and the cutesy signs I usually do, and just focused on giving the kids a great time.  Found a cute sprinkles invitation on Shutterfly and used the colors from that plus the outfit Tater was wearing in the photo I added to use as a color palette for the party:  fuschia, turquoise, purple, and lime.

Applesauce, individually bagged popcorn, and chocolate milk boxes from Costco.  Fresh clementines, juice pouches, water bottles from Target.  Carryout pizzas from the joint closest to the rink - ordered online and picked up hot on the way there.  As a parent, it can be a bit stressful to guess whether a party around the dinner hour includes food, so on the invite, I added, "Eat, skate, and celebrate!"

Cupcakes from a box mix with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.  I also brought a store-bought cheesecake for the adults, and we bought each child an ice cream novelty from the rink.  Tiny working pinwheel toppers and cupcake liners from Party City.

Birthday girl fueling up before hitting the rink.

 Adorable friends!

Making fairy wands - Spritz kits from Target on clearance this summer.  Watch those end caps for goodies!  I also painted faces - rainbows and cupcakes were the big hits today.

My one blooper turned out ok.  I thought I'd picked up enough polka dotted paper favor bags from Target, but alas, I was 2 short.  I used regular lunch bags that I always keep on hand for party emergencies and glittered some Dollar Tree clothespins to fancy them up.  Alphabet stickers spelled out the guest names.  Inside are skate passes so the kids can visit the rink again, a tiny jar of glitter putty (Tater's favorite busy bag item), and a Trader Joe's lollipop (free of artificial colors and HFCS and way cheaper than YumEarth).

It was a really fun, relatively easy party, which is really what you want in mid-December!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow Day and Random Acts of Kindness

The Nugget and I are enjoying our first snow day of the year!  I contend that, "What Montessori kids do on a snow day" would make a really hilarious and inspiring documentary.  He declared, "I'm going to compose my own music!" and sat down with a ruler and pen to make staffs.  Now he's toiling at the keyboard, while I bake the organic free-range eggs from the school's CSA and fold school laundry.  We're totally ridiculous.

When we're not so insulated by coziness, I have to admit that the Nugget and I are feeling the election results painfully.  I've been hiding from this blog and processing what I need to say about it.  We are sensitive souls, he even more than me.  I shielded him from the worst of the ugliness, but he is too old to be oblivious.  It pains us to feel and hear hate spewing forth in our country.  It also is a different, exquisite pain to know that while others didn't vote for him because of the hate in his platform, they didn't consider it a deal-breaker.  We feel scared, betrayed, confused, and wary.  We are trying as gracefully as we can, to be loving, to listen, to turn the other cheek, to be the best "representatives" of "brown people" we know how to be, to show others that we are non-threatening humans with feelings, needs, and dreams.  That just because we look different, we are not here to take away anything from anyone else.  That our very existence threatens nothing and nobody.  Someone asked us, "Why do you feel afraid?  He's only threatening to deport undocumented Mexicans and Muslims"  But we are ALL ONE, and the Nugget and I feel that so strongly in our blood.  And so we are also trying to be courageous enough to speak up for others who are hurting.  We practice what we would do if we see a fellow minority being verbally or physically attacked.  We practice what HE would do if someone attacks him.  I have talked with Hubby about what we would do if war broke out with North Korea and internment camps were set up for Korean-Americans.  I had a nightmare that a truck with a Confederate flag bumper sticker jumped the curb to intentionally run over Tater, then zoomed away.  I woke in a silent scream and I didn't sleep another wink that night.  Did I ever for one second believe this would be reality for my family in 2016?  My heart breaks over and over with practically each new Cabinet appointment.  We rely on the kindness of strangers, the hope that love wins.  We always have in fact, but my awareness of our vulnerability now is raw and real.

In an effort to raise our spirits, we have been practicing random acts of kindness during Advent.  I think we will continue throughout the year, because it's the only thing that has truly helped the both of us feel better.  Honestly, I hope that some recipients of our good deeds are White Nationalists, maybe we will be one tiny drop in their subconscious that helps them change their minds.  Here are some ideas of things you can do if you want to take on the cause!

1.  Candy cane a parking lot (the Nugget's favorite so far)
2.  Let parents with a toddler cut ahead of us in the grocery store line
3.  Give an impromptu tutorial about the APC at the post office (my favorite so far - the gift that keeps on giving)
4.  Hold the door for a stranger
5.  Pay for a friend's lunch
6.  Donate items from your school's wishlist or a giving tree
7.  Drop off donations to Goodwill/St. Vincent de Paul/charity of your persuasion
8.  Pay for the car behind you in a drive thru
9.  Deliver cookies to neighbors
10.  Buy children's books about peace and diversity and read them often at home
11.  Donate those same books to a preschool
12.  Surprise someone with flowers
13.  Use Amazon Smile or a Scrip program to support a school while you holiday shop
14.  Branch out and give gift cards from local small businesses you love
15.  Help the usual chef in your family prepare a meal
16.  Chip in with the laundry
17.  Help a classmate who's struggling
18.  Slip a love note into a lunchbox or briefcase
19.  Donate food to the food pantry
20.  Shovel the neighbor's sidewalk
21.  Fill the dog's Kong toy
22.  Tip your server generously, or if you can't afford to, give him/her a pack of pens to make up for all the ones that get swiped each night!
23. Let your little brother or sister snuggle with you when they have a bad dream
24.  Make funny faces to cheer up little sibs who are cranky in the car
25.  Help carry in the grocery bags

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Halloween Madness 2016

Halloween got really elaborate this year.  I always tried to get to a couple different events to make the holiday last and the costume purchases/Grammy's hard work seem worth it.  This year, however, there was an explosion of festive fun everywhere you looked.  On our 4th trick-or-treat experience before Halloween, I think Hubby was feeling a little Grinchy about it.  Wait, wrong holiday.'s done, it was glorious, and we have enough candy to last until Easter.

Zoo Boo

Looks like I ordered her straight outta PBK!

Snite Museum Family Fun Night

Downtown Trick or Treat

Haunted Happenings Horse Show

Pumpkin Carving

October 31 - the grand finale!