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Monday, September 23, 2013

Outsmarting the picture frames

I have decided to get serious with organized parenting. (Ok, waiting 8 years may not have been the smartest way to get started...) I think I actually did have a handle on the situation until our last move and our third child came along...or was it the move before that? Sheesh. Clearly, this moving every three years and having babies every two years has kept me busy doing things other than organizing. But my eldest is borderline OCD and he has recently inspired me (along with an episode of "Wife Swap") to get my booty in gear.

I know. "Wife Swap" is probably not the best source for parenting advice or organizational strategy. But with four kids in three sports, two musical lessons, two in scouts, plus school clubs and our family activities...we have alot going on each week. Suri is not cutting it. Relying on my iphone calendar reminders and my wall calendar and my email account and my husband has resulted in missed birthday parties, lost school supply lists, last minute scrambling and yelling to get to an event, and a stressed out mom.

I went to the dollar store and bought several dry erase charts. One was dedicated for "weekly activities," one was for a shopping list that the kids could add to, and one was for a "star chart." Then I bought three packs of shiny stars and let each child pick one color that would be their stars. We've been using the charts for three weeks, and I have to say, I'm impressed! Though my 4 year old doesn't really care one way or the other, my older two are on the BALL! I haven't had to remind them to do things AND my son is practicing piano in the mornings before school (on his own accord) to earn extra stars. Yeeeea me!!!!  So, this chart thing is a little more work that I thought, but worth it. Now, for phase two....refining the system.

 I foolishly thought that these fancy (haha) dollar store dry erase boards would easily release the star stickers. Nope. Plus, (as you can imagine), the these charts were not the most appealing things to see taped to the side of the fridge. Bright primary colors, random cartoon frogs and get the picture. It did not bode well with my OCD.

I decided to commit to something a little more permanent. (Plus I had a kitchen wall that needed some eye candy.) So, I found some adorable frames at Michaels that were on clearance and went to work finding some cute scrapbook paper that would match my newly painted kitchen. This took way longer than it should have...but that's because I'm a second guesser. ("Should I buy it? Yes, I can return it. But I must remember to keep the receipt handy. And put the item in the car.......or else I could just save it for another project???" Daaaaah.)

I then used word to type out the text that was on the cheap-0 charts. I did add some personalized chores and decided to have a "menu" of how the kids could redeem their stars. (Getting to choose the music in the car, a piece of gum, a confiscated toy, a date with mom or dad, a play date or sleep over, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, etc.) Yes! It all matched! I chose to leave two of the frames without text so I could write notes, use it as a weekly menu board, etc. Flexibility! My plan was to hang these and then use the dry erase marker directly on the glass. Of course, I had to hang them high enough where the kids couldn't reach and give themselves extra stars (ok, so I opted for initials...I am not peeling 50 stars off the glass every Sunday!)

Now, I love the look of collages on the wall, but we did that project on our staircase and it was a total PIA. How the heck do people do that without an acrobat or some kind of snazzy ladder? Ours turned out ok, but I had to do the splits with one leg on the banister and one on the ladder. NE who, it was the measuring out the distances between the frames and then between the holes and then leveling them and centering them on the wall that was the biggest downer. So, I had a stroke of genus tonight.

1. I designed the layout by laying the frames on our floor (the wood planks helped me align the frames without a ruler.)
2. I flipped the frames face down and then broke out some leftover painter's tape and made a square, with the tape bordering the frames (sticky side down, so that it sticks to the frame.) I also made sure to cross over where the hangers where on the frames (you can add extra pieces of tape that go all the way across if you have more than 4 frames.)
3. With a pen, I marked (and poked a hole) in the tape on top of the spot where the hangers were.
4. Then I peeled the tape off the frames and placed it on the wall, using a level to make sure the horizontal and vertical lines were straight. I used my handy J hook hanger things where the holes were, peeled the tape off the walls, and hung the pictures. I was sooooo exited! Our staircase has about 3 dozen extra holes where we mismeasured or didn't like how it looked once it was on the wall. But this took me about 10 minutes (I suck at using a level) and no extra holes in the wall! Here are some pictures.
 Hope it helps some one else, too!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arrrrr Matey! Pirate makeup made easy.

Arrrrr Matey! It's Pirrrrate Day!

I love the theme dress up days at school. I loved them when I was a kid, too. But I'm armed with Pinterest! I may even be slightly overwhelmed with all the amazing ideas. And maybe a little worried that my "costume on the fly" won't come close to all those other kids with fellow Pinning mommies. This is where I happily play my, "I have four kids" card. Plus, after three house on Pinterest getting all those good ideas, it's too dang late in the evening to whip up a costume fit for Broadway. So I wing it.

Last year, I lucked out and found an actual pirate costume in our dress up bin. Score! One costume down, one to go. What the frick do pirates wear??! Stripes. Yes, stripes. I stumble across my daughter's Fourth of July and white stripes are piratey, yes???! Score! I find a bandana and a scarf at the bottom of the Halloween bin (mental note, get rid of all the slutty costumes I thought were cute on me before kid #3 and #4.)  Oooo, and dress up beads. Perfect!

Now for makeup. The pirate trademarks include
1)a parrot (I did not have any kind of bird other than a Beanie Baby, and I couldn't figure out how to perch that on their shoulder for the school day)
2) a peg leg  (not gonna happen)
3) a hook (Yes!!! This was part of a Captain Hook costume several years back...woo hoo!)
4) an eye patch

I like the idea of an eye patch. It's an easy prop, you can stick it in their pocket or maybe they can wear it as a headband when they get sick of being a cyclopse...but my daughter is very particular about how things "feel" (which translates to a total pain about what she wears.) I knew the elastic band would drive her bonkers. She is also irresponsible with her stuff and I figured I didn't want to give her the one we had because I knew she would lose it.

So I came up with using my grocery store liquid eye liner. I've McGeyver'd all kinds of painted faces at the zoo with this magical little tool. I used it for my son's eye brows, too...I gave him sort of an angry jack-0-lantern look. It totally went with the scruffy beard!  And then I gave my daughter a goatee with it, too! All in about 5 minutes. The bonus, she got lots of ooos and aaaahs at school (she loves the attention) and didn't have any l about it. Woo hoo!

Airplane Tag Blanket

So last week we had a friend's baby shower and I got a boost of creativity around 10pm the night before the shower. I already had the rest of the gift wrapped, but I absolutely LOVE cute home made baby stuff and a brilliant idea popped into my head. Our Marine hubbies both fly C-130's and my poor boys already have their rooms decked out with airplane stuff...but this was fresh blood! I could make them some sort of cargo airplane looking craft. Something useful, but not as quick lived as burp cloths....a taggie blanket! I surfed Pinterest for ideas and decided it was easy enough. Then I surfed Google for KC-130 airplanes (so I could be anatomically correct...very important to my husband.) Yes yes yes! Simple lines, a few windows, I can totally pull this off in a few hours!

So...down to the craft room I went, scavenging for coordinating fabric and ribbons. Yes! Finally, my ridiculously large assortment of impulse Michael's and JoAnne's purchases was going to save me a trip to the store (Walmart, specifically because it is the only craft store open past ten and avoiding that store at that time of evening made it worth EVERY penny.)

I love the pink and brown and blue and brown combo, so when I saw several coordinating fabrics and ribbons at the craft store a year or two ago, I bought the whole shebang. I also had some minky fabric and some super soft polished felt. Since I recently made my daughter's tooth fairy pillow, I also had some of that pillow stuffing material- yes!  Now I just had to make a template. All the DIY taggies I found on Pinterest recommended a 1/4 inch allowance for I broke in to my daughter's Hello Kitty jumbo size coloring book (9x14) and used a sheet to draw my template. I freehanded in pencil and got the ok from my husband ("This looks like a C-130, right honey??!") Then I added 1/4 inch dotted line and cut it out. I doubled the fabric (one layer of white minky, one layer of the brown and blue print, since she is having a boy) and put it right to right facing.

I cut it with my handy fabric rotary tool. Then I cut out 5 different coordinating ribbons- some satin, some grosgrain, one felt...each 5 inches. Then I took the felt and cut out little windows and the nose of the plane. I used the "no sew" fabric stuff and just ironed this on, I didn't want there to be stitch marks.

My husband had pointed out that my airplane didn't have any engines, so I used some blue stitched ribbon and sewed it on to the wings like a double bow...they are SUPPOSED to be engines. Use your imagination!

Then I stuffed it and sewed. It came out pretty darn cute. Not quite as cute as I pictured, but good enough to give as a gift. It will only take me five more to perfect it.