"Psy Peas!"

 

When Amelia says "Psy!  Peas!  Psy!  Peas!" over and over again, she's not asking me to turn on the song Gangnam Style by pop music sensation Psy, nor is she looking for the round green vegetable that grows in a pod.  

No, Amelia wants to go outside.  Ever since she learned outside was a thing, it's the only place she wants to be.  She cries, she whines, she points.  She brings me her shoes.  She whispers "Mama, mama" and gestures to her coat hanging in her closet.  Weather be damned, rain or shine Amelia wants out.

This morning, at 7:25am when Chris and the big kids shuffled out the door for school and work and she couldn't go, Amelia lost her damn mind.  She hates to be left out, and the poor kid doesn't understand that they would have happily stayed home with her if they could have.  I don't think any of them would've even been awake if they had a choice.  But words like "cold," and "rainy," and "please-just-let-me-drink-my-coffee" are meaningless to a toddler.  I distracted her with breakfast for a while, but when 9 o'clock rolled around and she tromped on over to the door clutching a piece of toast, with her right foot in her left rain boot, crazy hair and dinosaur pajamas, and asked for the umpteenth time "Psy?  Peas!" I compromised and took her to the play place in the mall instead.

I'm all for playing outside, even in the rain, but I really didn't feel like sitting out there with her today.  Bonus for me- I ran into an old friend from elementary school at the mall, so I got to chat for a bit while Amelia played.

Proof she gets to go 'psy' plenty.

 

Outtakes

 

I took Amelia outside the other day to take some pictures for the new bibs and headbands going into the Etsy shop this week.  She wasn't really into it.

She kept running off, or trying to get behind the camera to see the picture.  She's a busy girl!  Thankfully the outtakes are hilarious.

Say cheese!

I got a few winners out of the deal.

Check out the goods!  www.softsoledshoes.etsy.com

 

Hibernation

 

I'm not usually one to lament the rain, but I've been dreaming about sunshine lately.  The weather has fluctuated between drizzly grey skies and torrential rain banging about in gale force winds.  I might be exaggerating a bit, but it's been dreary.  It makes me want to curl up and sleep for another month or two.

January always sounds good in theory.  It's time to clean up after the holidays, stretch your legs, and eat something fresh- with a little more vitamin C and a little less butter.  January feels like potential.  December is fun, but it comes with a lot of demands on our money and our time.  Comparatively January feels free- at first.  

But after we take down the tree and run the vacuum, we realize the weather still sucks, everybody is still sick, and it still gets dark at 5:00pm.  I don't want to exercise, I don't want to get up early, and I don't want to eat anything but potato soup and maple cake.  Even now as I sit here and write the baby is napping, the animals are all laying around the living room snoozing, the fire is going and it's taking everything I've got not to fall asleep myself.

My planner has a place in it to jot down a few broad goals for each month.  In January I wrote "building momentum."  I'm only just realizing how appropriate that was.  My weekly lists have plenty of to-do's left unchecked, but slowly I am moving forward.  I am trying and failing and trying again to build the habits I want, and drop the ones I don't.  A month feels like a long time to just 'warm up,' but apparently even my optimistic January 1st self knew that change doesn't happen overnight.

Enjoying a break in the rain.  One of my goals?  Get this kid playtime outside every day, rain or shine.  Fun fact: she couldn't care less about the sorry state of our backyard.  She just wants to be outside.

Enjoying a break in the rain.  One of my goals?  Get this kid playtime outside every day, rain or shine.  Fun fact: she couldn't care less about the sorry state of our backyard.  She just wants to be outside.

 

Making A List

 

Yesterday I was a little unkind to my main man Craig.  I want him to take his responsibilities more seriously- specifically school- but he’s 9 and doesn’t really take anything seriously.  I get frustrated when the things that are important to me aren’t important to him- yes I see the flaw in that.  Anyway, I didn’t yell at him or anything, but the words just didn’t come out right and I felt the need to apologize.  He actually said, “You don’t need to be sorry mom.”  I said, “I know, but I like you, and that’s not how we should talk to the people we like.”

In an effort to stop the nagging I feel like I do all the time, we decided to make a checklist of all the jobs he’s supposed to do everyday.  Hopefully this will prevent the arguing that typically results from the nagging, and stop us both from getting so frustrated.  He was so excited, he wanted to make one for school, too.  Now he’s got 2 hanging in the kitchen (one for Monday-Friday, one for the weekend), and one in his backpack.  They have things like “Brush your teeth,” “Put clothes in the hamper,” and “Put your shoes on.”  So the lists are long, but it’s because they include a lot of simple stuff.

Now we just remind him to check his list.  It’s tricky- teaching your kids independence and responsibility at the same time.  I think even as an adult that’s not always an easy balance to strike.  We’ve gotten into a groove with the girls, but haven’t quite figured it out with Craig.  Part of it is his age, and part of it is personality.  Hopefully this will help, only time will tell.

 

The Pantry

 

Our weekend wasn't all rainbows and sunshine- I also spent 6 hours cleaning and organizing the pantry and kitchen cabinets.  It might not seem glamorous, and I somehow pulled a muscle in my back doing it, but it feels amazing to have it done.  When we moved in 6 months ago we kind of just shoved everything on the shelves, and it's annoyed me every day since.

It took forever to find anything, putting groceries away was a colossal pain, and stuff was constantly falling off shelves.  The floor in the pantry was basically just a massive amalgamation of crap. 

Like a dummy I forgot to take a before picture, so I hope you'll accept the pictures I took halfway through moving everything to the table.

Here's what it looked like several hours later:

All of the jars and containers are things we already had, and were in fact sitting empty right next to the piles of poorly organized food.  We actually had several left over that we gave to friends or donated to a thrift store.  I love pictures of beautifully organized pantries as much as the next person, but I don't have time to dump every last bite of food we buy into a matching container every week.  If it came in a box or a bottle that stacked neatly on the shelf- it stayed that way.  If it came in a bag it got dumped in a jar.   

Our 3 day old system has already made it easier to grab snacks, make grocery lists, and put things away.

Ironically, despite the hours I put in writing a menu plan full of delicious recipes, cleaning and organizing the kitchen, and filling our pantry and fridge with fresh healthy foods- we ate Taco Bell for dinner last night.  

We tried!  Chris put black bean ragout in the crockpot at 2 o'clock.  At 5 I started making garlic toast with the fresh sourdough baguette I'd picked up at Trader Joe's that afternoon.  At 5:05 it was burnt to a crisp.  Chris ran to Holiday to buy another baguette, came home, and cooked it.  At 6 he opened the crockpot to see if the beans needed salt, and they were nowhere near finished, despite the fact that we've cooked them in only 3 hours countless times before.  We gave up, decided the universe was conspiring against us, and ate crap food instead.  We'll eat the beans tonight.  You win some, you lose some.  My pantry still looks good, though!

 

Weekending

 

Highlights: Nice weather, Amelia's "cheese" face, and conversations with Lola about her hopes to visit Japan one day.

*The last 5 pictures were taken by Craig, our little budding photographer.

 

Memory Keeping

It's the time of year again for me to order our annual family photo album.  I'm a little stressed out about the fact that I haven't even started it, but I'll get it done.  This will be my third year making one, and I feel like the more I do it, the better I get.

We love our photo albums- I order them from blurb.com.  I downloaded the BookSmart tool and create them on my computer.  I use the same few layouts and upload all of my favorite pictures from the DSLR, my phone, and Chris's phone.  The results are stunning, and we love flipping through them all year long.  I can't wait to add a third to our collection!

I don't add text to our photo books.  If I tried, I doubt I'd ever finish.  I record some stories on the blog, and occasionally I journal, but I picked up a "One Line a Day" book to jot down random bits of our days.  I have to keep it on my nightstand to remind myself to write in it everyday.  So far it's mostly funny things the kids have said or new milestones they've reached.  I think it'll be a fun thing to look back on as the years go by.

For my videos I downloaded the One Second Everyday app.  It is exactly what it sounds like- you save a one second video clip every day and at the end you have a video montage of your entire year.  I've heard great things about it, but I've only had it for a week so no review from me yet.

I used to love making video montages on my own.  I'd like to make one of Amelia's first year, but every time I sit down to work on it I end up spending hours just watching old videos of her.  I guess I'll get through it eventually, but it may not be before she's 30! Heh.  

Lola

 

I'm taking a day each week to talk about one of the kids.  They're growing up so fast, and this is my way of holding on to a small piece of this time together.  Human memory is so weak and fallible, I want records to look back on when they're adults to help me remember what they were like when they were young.

Lola...

Reading Naruto, Werewolves, and The Walking Dead.  We bought her mostly books for Christmas, and she spent another $70 at Barnes and Noble a few days later.

Listening to iTunes radio and Panic at the Disco album.  She's got at least one headphone in whenever possible.

Lucky she made it through basketball season without a concussion or life altering knee injury.  She did amazing and put on a great show, (she was the only kid I saw do a somersault on the basketball court), but she played hard and beat herself up more than once.

Learning to be a little more open minded, especially about other people's thoughts and preferences.

Worried about high school, and meeting with her future counselor next month.  I keep promising her it's not scary, but she doesn't believe me.  Why do teachers tell kids high school is scary?  That no one there will help them?  Is it supposed to make them more responsible?  That tactic doesn't work on my kids.

Looking forward to a Supernatural convention that takes place next December.  It's a year away, but she's stoked.

We love our Lola.


 

DIY Flannel Crib Sheet

 

We like flannel on our beds in the winter, because it's so cozy and warm.  There aren't a lot of choices out there in the crib size.  You can buy one online, or you can be awesome and make one!    I thought I was going to whip one out during nap time, but Amelia woke up early.  I finished it after picking the big kids up from school, but I lost the daylight so the pictures aren't amazing.  Hashtag mom life?

Anyway, I used this tutorial with a few changes.  I'll try not to over explain the whole process, as it feels a bit redundant.  

I cut my fabric to allow for the width and length of the mattress, the depth, and a 1 inch seam allowance on each side (more on that later).  It's 42"x66".  

I have no idea why but this turned out to be a bit long.  It still fits fine, but if I do it again I'll shave 2 inches off the length.

I measured and marked a 7 inch square on each corner.  I folded the fabric over so the lines matched up, making a triangle.  I sewed along the line, trimmed the extra fabric, and zig zag stitched the edge to keep it from fraying.

At this point you have the right shape, but need something to hold the sheet on the mattress.  Wanting to work with what I had- a modest amount of normal 1 inch elastic- I sewed a hem along each corner, extending 8-9 inches down each side.  I wasn't terribly precise about this part.

I attached a safety pin to a 10 inch piece of elastic and threaded it through the hem.  I went up and down each end of the elastic with a zig zag stitch a few times to make sure it was completely secure.  Rather than stretching the elastic along the hem, I just bunched the extra fabric in the middle.  Elastic is a total pain to sew when it's stretched out.

Repeat on the other 3 corners, and you're finished!  Amelia helped me photograph the final product.

I'm happy to finally have another flannel sheet in the rotation- her snowman one was not getting washed as often as it should. She's in her room snoozing on it as we speak- fingers crossed she stays that way all night!  She's got a cold and getting 2 teeth- it's been a rough few days.

Zzzzzzz...

 

Backyard Plans

 

One of our top priorities in the new year is to make the backyard more useful and enjoyable.  When we moved into this house over the summer, most of the landscaping was dead.  The fences are functional but ugly.  There’s a lot of potential and plenty of space, but we won’t have the time or money to do everything on our list this year, so we’ll focus on a few big impact projects first.

This is the view straight ahead when you come out the sliding glass door in the dining room.  There's a retaining wall along the whole back fence, because the backyard behind ours is a good 2 feet higher.  Not only are the cinderblocks ugly, they're falling down, so we'll have to redo that.  I think I'd like to do brick to match the patio, but we'll do some research before making a decision.  

We'll till the soil in the box on the left, add a ton of compost, and make that a vegetable garden.  The patch of dead ground to the right will be a small lawn.  We're not looking to maintain (or water) a ton of grass, but we'd like a small area for the kids to play on.  We'll till the soil, add some compost, and lay sod on top.  It takes less water to install sod than to try and grow grass from seed.  For a relatively small area, we decided it's worth the money.

Further off to the right is where we'd like to put a playhouse and some playground bark.  That elevated area in the corner is quite large, so I hope to put the playhouse up there with stairs going up and a slide coming down.  Then, in the bark area we can put some other outdoor toys or climbing equipment or something.

Looking back toward the house, you can see the patio needs some work.  We'll trim those bushes down first.  That big hole is a plumbing clean out, so we can't patch it completely, but we can clean it up and fill it in a little. Other than that, we'll probably just move the patio furniture around and maybe add a potted plant or two.

Eventually all of those windows and doors need to be replaced, and I'd love to put up a pergola that covers the whole patio.  Those are expenses that will probably have to wait another year, though.

In the yard around the side of the house I want to build a chicken coop and a compost pile.  I think I'll be able to squeeze those projects in this spring.  I'm excited to finally get some use out of our yard!  Updates to come.