Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snow Day!!!!!

It started out as a regular Tuesday.  Wake-up call at 5:15.  Fumble around for my glasses and slippers, and head out to make coffee (blech!) and tea (Mmmm...) and eat breakfast lumberjack-style before the kids get up. 

But, passing by the living-room window, something catches my eye.  

Something glittery and white.  

Something that covers the ground and (fingers-crossed) the street.

Detour to the TV and the morning news.  
Sarah and Will are probably out and my school is probably in, 
wreaking childcare HAVOC on our schedules. 

But, what to my wondering eyes did appear in the crawl of school closings 
at the bottom of the screen? 

My school district.


I had to watch the crawl 3 more times before I believed it, and then I got a phone call with the best news a teacher can get:  


Mike was slightly less enthusiastic when I jumped on the bed at 5:30 
with the glorious news that we could all sleep in a little bit.  But, I was too excited to sleep.  
I remember that feeling from when I was 7 and going on vacation.

We braved the blizzard conditions even before breakfast.
 And sledded to our hearts' content.
 That is, until Will claimed an allergy to the snow and people's noses turned blue.
We took a hot chocolate-and-breakfast break, watched a little Tom & Jerry, and then headed back out to perfect the lost art of driveway sledding.
 Though it was lovely to have the day off from school, thank goodness for our awesome neighbors who let us come over for snacks and even better driveway sledding.

There are risks involved with hurling yourself head-first down a concrete strip, such as face-planting while your mom is playing on Instagram (#momfail).

Anyway, the aforementioned awesome neighbors gave us some TLC and band-aids, and the little guy was super-tough about the whole thing. They even gave us a pretty serious carrot and some raisins for our very own snowman.
 Sarah is actually the one with the creative vision behind this loveable guy, and she said he's singing.  That's why his mouth is in a perfect "O".  

Perfect for a Music City snowman.  

Here's to more snowmen and snow days this year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Polar Bathtime

This fall, I haven't been real great at the mom thing.  
Sure, I've kept the kids alive and stuff, but that's pretty much it. 
And Mike has done most of the heavy-lifting around here kid-wise.

Sunday, it was time for a change. 

Our late-night (read: 7 o'clock) cultural outing at the ballet meant that we skipped bath Saturday,  so the kids were kind of stinky.  

Stinkiness + crummy, cold weather = bathtub fun!

Since we were well-stocked with Ivory,
 I decided to try out a wintry-bath version of microwaved soap.

We stuck a bar in the microwave for about a minute,
The microwaving is arguably the best part.

and were rewarded with this fluffy, squishable, frothy goodness.

Toss in some bubbles
and a few kids,
and you've got yourself a par-TAY!
(And, quite possibly, a few fight-free minutes to yourself.)

Of course, my instinct was to turn it into some snooze-fest unit of learning about glaciers and polar animals.  Luckily for my kids, I can't find our Toob of seals and igloos and Inuit, so they're safe from the words "habitat" and "ecosystem".  

At least for now.

They got to play Hot Chocolate Stand, and I got to listen to the sounds of their giggles 
without stressing about APA formatting.
Cheers to that!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Super Obsession

It's no secret that we're into superheroes around here.  Besides the fact that Sarah and Will have alter-egos (Lightning Girl and Lightning Boy), they enjoy all things 
Ninjago, Batman, and Captain America. 

Will was Iron Man for Halloween, and totally nailed the character.

Notice, if you will, Mike's costume: Clark Kent.  

Up until recently, Superman was the one superhero the kids were staunchly uninterested in.  And then we visited Metropolis, Illinois. 
On our way back from a super-fun Fall Break trip to St. Louis, 
we stopped over in Metropolis to check out the scene and the swag. 

Oh, and the 20 ft. tall Superman statue in Court Square.
While Will was adding to his rock collection, Sarah got into true super character, 
gamely striking a pose with me and the Man of Steel.
Next up was the souvenir shop.  This proved to be overpriced and underwhelming (my kids wanted to buy an old Happy Meal toy for $3), but there were lots of photo ops outside.
My faves were the Daily Planet sign, the phone booth, and the Supergirl cutout.  I know we got a picture of Sarah as Supergirl, but I can't find it anywhere. 
I did snap a quick one of my own little Man of Steel getting ready to change into his super suit. 
Since our little stopover and watching old Superman movies, the littles have gained a certain appreciation for him.  Their favorite part is when Super Kid's space-pod crash-lands in the Kents' farm, and the little guy lifts the car all by himself. 

So, if you ever find yourself on the road from Nashville to St. Louis, stop over in Metropolis for some cheesy photos and $25 t-shirts!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey Photo Booth Swag 2.0

We've got 9 days to go until one of my favorite holidays of the season.
Last year around this time, I was contemplating my contribution to the family Thanksgiving festivities in the form of silly photo props.  

This year, with a baby on the way and school winding down, I'm mulling over just how many naps I can take in five days. 

We're staying local for the big day, but I still wanted to get some fun pictures with beaks and wattles.  But, when I was pulling out the swag from last year, I noticed it looked a little worse for the wear.  

What to do?

Make some more!

And, when I remade the templates, I added in some more fun stuff.  
So, the new swag also includes a turkey drumstick, pilgrim collar, 
and Native American headdress.   

Just click on the links below the pictures to print them, and enjoy!

Your materials can be pretty much anything you have on hand.  I used felt and foam for the props themselves, and bamboo skewers for the sticks.  If you have cardstock, that would work just fine for the hats, beaks, and accessories, while paper straws might be cute for the sticks.

1. Just cut these little templates out,

2. Trace them onto cardstock, felt, or foam:

3. Cut, 

4. Hot glue,
5. and get silly!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Brown 5.0

We have some big news to share, so I thought I'd let the kiddos tell you.


So, yes, I'm pregnant with #3, and Will is being promoted to the role of big brother, as of mid-March.  We're all very excited, and Will checks my belly button a few times a day to see if it's popped out like a turkey thermometer. "No DING! yet, Mommy," he says, scratching his head 
and giving my tummy a thoughtful pat.

At least I've kept my 100% wrong baby-gender prediction streak intact.  We were all calling this little drumstick a girl, dreaming up girl names, and anticipating a shift in the balance of power to those of us of the x-chromosomal persuasion, 
when the ultrasound tech announced 
that our little ninja was a boy!  

The littles were not disappointed at all, but I was a tad bit anxious.  See, Will got the only two boy names we could ever agree on.  In an effort to avoid a  catastrophe of George Forman-esque proportions, we polled the prospective siblings for suitable monikers for this little nugget.  

So, without further ado, I give you:
Mittens Jack-Jack John Smith Brown.

It's going to be a challenge for monogramming purposes, but I bet there won't be anybody else in class with a name like THAT.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leafy Fun

Sorry to leave you hangin' (hehe), but this fall has been crazy.  Anyway, since I'm averaging about 1 post per month, this might be it for November.  

But I hope not.   
Today, we had just enough energy, gorgeous golden leaves, and daylight after school to play in the leaves, so that's just what we did.  Every year the kids look forward to jumping in a big ol' pile of freshly-raked goodness, but this fall has been so busy and rainy 
that we hadn't had time until today.

 It's amazing how a pile of leaves rates just about as much enthusiasm as Disney World. 

Sarah recreated one half of American Gothic.

 And Will rolled around and begged to be buried in the leaves again and again.

 These faces.

Sis can always get a smile out of Mr. Intense.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Halloween Costume Ideas


I know it's been awhile (like, almost exactly a month), but I just wanted to surface for air to say that we're all still here.  


With me working full-time and going to school, and Mike working overtime, 
the phrase "keeping our heads above water" doesn't really cut it lately.  
Really, we're just bobbing up for air when we can. 

The great news, according to Sarah, is that I'm  not just trying to be a teacher anymore,
 I am one.  


The bad news is that all my free time goes into lesson-planning, homework, and trying to keep us off Hoarders, Buried Alive: Laundry Edition.  

Case in point: in a supreme act of rebellion the other day, 
I cooked a meal AND watched a show from the DVR

Anyway, no more whining. 

Since it's almost Halloween and the only thing I seem to sew around here are costumes, I thought I'd do a little round-up of some of the dress-up clothes made around here over the past few years.  Just in case.

Last year, I got jealous of the kids' glow-in-the-dark skeleton pj's and super-sized some just for me (stencil pattern included).
Also circa 2012, we have the little Jessie the cowgirl outfit Sarah wore.
Instructions are here.

If superheroes are your thing and your household isn't still mad that Ben Affleck will be playing Batman, check out this idea for getting the whole family involved.

By the way, if anybody wants to be a cute little bunny, Purl Bee has a sweet little pattern for a rabbit hood and mittens.  I used them for Easter 2 years ago, but the hood pattern has been a big help for completing bat and bird costumes as well.  
 In fact, I even changed the ears up and turned 
Will into a bull for Cow Appreciation Day 2 years ago.

Don't leave your house out of the dress-up fun! 
I saw all of these on Pinterest, so you can find the how-to's there, but I can attest to the fact that these next projects are easy, cheap, and pretty tacky.  

Because, hey, just like the Christmas spirit, tackiness should be practiced all year-round.  
Below are some Halloween-related ideas for keeping the little people occupied, 
like this autumn-themed busy box.

Or, how about making some yummy-smelling pumpkin pie-spiced playdough.

Watch it now: these guys have some bite to them.

Ok, so now you're set.  Go forth and craft!

I guess I should do the same, since I have two bird costumes and a 
Monster Pizza ensemble to construct. When I figure out what that is and whether it's supreme or plain cheese, I'll let you know.  

Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Little Things

It seems that consistency isn't really my thing lately.  There are lots of good reasons for that, lots of doing of things that prevents the writing about them. 

There are also a lot of mundane things and general busy-ness that seem to prevent the doing of fun things.  

Like a new job. 

And narcolepsy.

Ok, there you have the excuses. 

Now I'll get to a few fun things that I've just finished up.  

Since sleep is at a premium these days, I'm feeding the creative beast in other ways besides big, time-consuming projects.

Like making rain-bows. 
(Feel free to roll your eyes at the lameness.)

Sarah has to wear a uniform to school, so the main parts of her outfit are pretty blah.  We're finding ourselves leaning heavily on accessories to add some interest to her daily wear, and cool hair bows are just the ticket. 
This particular one was inspired by something I found on Pinterest, and the rainbow tied in perfectly with her class's celebration of all of the colors of the rainbow for two weeks.  

Plus, the 5-year-old in me loves rainbows, even if they're in someone else's hair.

               Something I've been working on is some back-to-school gear for the AG/BB dolls.                         Unfortunately, it'll probably be next school year before any of that stuff gets sewn.
I still have a uniform and a bag to sew up for Sarah Jr., but I thought I'd go ahead and show off the super-cool lunchboxes I made for two of the dolls. 

Let me just preface this by saying, I've always been a doll person.  Growing up, my room was overrun with Cabbage Patch Kids, Barbies, and various other dolls and their accessories.  I was fascinated with doll houses and anything in miniature, and that hasn't changed.

I had one of the first generations of AG dolls (back when there were only 3 to choose from), and mine was Kirsten.  I still have her, and refuse to let the kids play with her and her stuff.  

But, as my husband clearly does NOT understand, it's the STUFF that makes dolls fun.
Lately, I've been looking for stuff to shrink down and repurpose into doll-sized accessories.
For back-to-school, my brain got stuck on lunchboxes, but I couldn't find anything the right size.

Enter the humble Altoids tin...
...Covered in printed duct tape.
Will picked Angry Birds, and Sarah went with Hello Kitty. 

They turned out pretty cool, and the kids love them.  I have enough trouble packing lunches for the actual humans in my charge, so Sarah and Will Juniors are just going to have to go hungry for lunch.  But, hey, they'll look good doing it, right?

Next up, Halloween costumes.

Which, let's be honest, probably will have to come from Costco 
if they're going to be wearable this year.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend Fun

This summer has been intense.  Like, I-need-a-vacation-from-my-summer-vacation intense.  Now, with the start of school for Sarah, and Will's and my return to school looming, 
weekdays are full of go-go-go and checking things off the to-do lists.  

So, this past weekend we decided to take it easy and let the kids decide what to do. 
 First up on Saturday: the Tomato Art Fest in East Nashville. 

This little festival, held in the dog days of summer over in the heart of  Five Points (I think that's what it's called), celebrates the tomato as "a uniter, not a divider", according to the slogan.  There's a 5K (totally skipped that), a parade, street vendors, and tons of *free* stuff for the kids to do.  Yay, free!
We started out by going all Jackson Pollock on a 
collaborative painting project with other pre-schoolers and barely-schoolers.

Then it was off to a local churchyard to get our bounce on and our hair did.
This is how Sarah rolls, tomato-style.
See the green stem?

                                                On a day like this, forget the pearls. 
                               A tomato-beaded necklace completes the look of any outfit.

Where was Will during all of this painting, hair-dying, and bedazzling? 

Conducting a Zagat survey of the bathrooms and scouting the free food. 
I'm telling you, the man doesn't play around when it comes to eating

After we got tired of the crafting and bouncing, we headed off to see what else there was to see and ended up following the fresh trail of Sno-Kones to the Y.  
Those clever people had games and activities inside, so we cooled off and one of us got a butterfly painted on her cheek, while a certain young man won an Angry Birds pencil by knocking some tomatoes off their stands.
Sno-Kones were had by all.  
And they were glorious.
This girl scored a whole lotta loot.
But, even at the laid-back Tomato Fest, we had appointments to keep.
Namely, with the World's Biggest Ice Cream Sundae.
At high noon, the good folks from one of the local ice cream parlors dished out about a zillion scoops of plain vanilla into two rain gutters.  
Kids lined the sides, armed with sprinkles, whipped cream, and syrups, and, 
at the Ice Cream Marshal's signal, started pouring on the toppings.
Sarah and Will chose not to contribute to the actual making of the sundae, 
but they were wholeheartedly involved in the eating of it.
The Fest was timed perfectly, since all other 
outdoor fun has been rained out for the past 3 weeks.

Saturday was the one day that we actually saw the sun for more than 30 minutes.

On Sunday, Mike had to work and I had to meal-plan (ugh) and drag the kids to the grocery.  But, we threw in a little kid-driven fun by playing hooky from Sunday school 
and going to see Planes.

This was Will's first-ever trip to the movie theater, so it was kind of a big deal, 
and, to be honest, I was a little nervous.  The good thing was, we met up with some 
church-hooky-playing friends, so I had some mom-backup if I needed it.

I mean, the kid doesn't stay put during an episode of Ninjago, how was he going to do in a theater with other people around for over 90 minutes?   

 Thanks to a bucket of popcorn and some Capri Suns, he did great.

I wish I'd gotten a picture of everybody flying around, arms outstretched afterwards, but that photo is going to have to stay loaded in my mental camera.

Our friend snapped this shot of my country girl playing
 "Buck Shot Masters" or something, though, so enjoy.