Saturday, March 30, 2013

The $9.00 Duck

Will is...intense. Anybody who's met him knows this.  It's great, because there's no mystery as to what he likes and dislikes.  On the flip side, he's three and there's no middle ground.  Ever. 

Anyway, Sarah needed a haircut before Easter, to tame the dreadlocks slowly forming in her untameable hair.  She requested getting a trim at the "kids' haircut place", and I acquiesced, mistakenly thinking it might be less crowded on Good Friday than the place we usually go. 

We get there and are told we have to wait for 25 minutes in standing-room-only conditions.  My kids each just tried to sneak a nap in the car, so I know we're in for trouble.  Never fear: I pull out the Ring Pops stashed in my purse for just such an occasion, and people are happy.  

Until Will drops his pop on the hairy floor.  Normally, I'm a 5-second-(10-second, maybe 10 minute) rule person, but there's HAIR all over his lollipop.  Thank goodness for the spare.  Everybody's happy for about 4.8 seconds, and then Will sees the Prize Machine.  It spits out rubber duckies wearing rain gear or firefighter outfits, which are, like, his favorite things in the world.  Besides cars.  And sticks that he's carved into bayonets. 

Mr. Smoothe Operator starts to turn on the charm, sidling up to me, and calling my attention to the splendidly-appointed rubber ducks. 

He wants one.  Bad.  

How bad? you ask.  Bad enough to agree to a haircut. 

But that's not part of the deal. No. The deal was that I take my (relatively) easygoing and unafraid first-born for a cut.  Nobody warned me about dealing with a wildebeest on a one-man stampede as well.  He's the whole reason we've stayed with man-to-man coverage, after all.  My womb remains unoccupied because there IS no known zone defense that can hold this kid.  Haircut? Forget it.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'd rather try to stuff a bobcat into a potato sack. 

Nothing doing, my persistent one wears me down, and I agree to a bang trim so that he qualifies for a rubber duckie prize.  He barely allowed Big Sis to vacate the seat before hopping up to take his medicine, eyes on the prize.  There's no howling, no biting, hissing, flailing, kicking, or growling. His eerily cheery demeanor throws me off my game.

Ring pops and prize vouchers in hand,  he took out 2 toddlers and a 3rd grader to claim his spoils. 

And then he wanted, no, DEMANDED backsies. 

Cowboy ducks suck.  Apparently.

Meanwhile, Sarah quietly deposited her ticket and sportingly pocketed her floral-motif duck.  Suddenly, THAT duck was the one he wanted.  His one and only.  The duck of dreams. 

A dropped nap plus dashed hopes pushes the man closer and closer to a vortex of pain and tantrums.  I remain calm while Sarah goes above and beyond the call of sisterly duty and offers to share her duck.  Cowboy duck flies off into the sunset.  Full-on rage takes hold of my son.  

Mayday! Mayday!

I employ the football hold, and we skedaddle out into the rain.  I've got a slippery handle on Will, and Sarah clutches not one, but two ducks in her hand as we scuttle into the car.  The only sliver of peace I experience all day is the walk around the car, between buckling Will into his seat, and before I open the door to snap Sarah in.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Game of Peeps

This is an exciting week: my favorite holiday and the premier of our favorite t.v. series converge on the same day this year.  

Feast your eyes on a scene from the Fist of the First Men, as reenacted by the Easter Peeps:

Three horn blasts means White Walkers!

"I am the sword in the darkness..."

I let the kids play with the Peeps in black after I got finished with them, and in true Game of Thrones fashion, there were beheadings.
 When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. 

 We also found something lurking in the frozen north that even the White Walkers fear...

Easter is coming.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peepin' Ain't Easy

Marshmallow Peeps are like the candy corn of Easter.  Both indispensable symbols of the holiday, both candies that nobody actually eats.  We decorate with them, buy them in bulk and make wreaths and vase fillers out of them, but we don't ever partake of them. 

Ever since I saw this tutorial, I've wanted to make these little guys.  This year, I finally got the chance.  They're hanging in the den, the living room, and even the kids' room, adding a nice pop of color and springy brightness.

But, I didn't stop there with the Peeps-related crafts.  Oh, no.  Next up: Peeps as hair adornment.

 I sewed up the first generation of Peep-clips about 2 years ago for Sarah.  Even though I made about 5 of these clips, only one survived, because we all know what happens when 2-and-a-half-year-olds wear barrettes: they lose them. These are just barrettes covered in felt, and hand sewn together.  I always dread hand sewing, but when I finally gather my materials and actually DO it, it's relaxing and enjoyable and I start thinking, "Hey, I should do this more often." 

Would you like a little how-to?  Well, how about it!

Here's what you need:
  • Metal hair clips (regular size, not tiny)
  • Felt scraps
  • Brown or black Sharpie
  • Embroidery floss in coordinating colors
  • Embroidery needle
  • Hot glue gun
Step 1.  Trace the outline of your hair clip onto a piece of card stock.  Remember to add about 1/4" seam allowance all the way around.  This will be your template for cutting the felt to cover your clip. 

Step 2.  Cut 2 of your barrette templates from a contrasting color of felt.  About 1/2" from the top of the wide end, cut a small slit in the bottom piece of felt.  This is where the snappy part of the barrette will come out of the casing.

Step 3:  Use a blanket stitch to sew all around the top of the barrette.

Step 4:  Cut out two bunny shapes from your main color of felt.  You can use my template found here.

Step 5:  Draw eyes and a nose on your Peep face like I did here.

Step 6:  Sew the two layers of bunny together using a blanket stitch and a coordinating color of embroidery floss.  *Optional: You could stuff your Peeps with a tiny bit of fiberfill to make them nice and marshmallow-y, but I didn't this time around.

Step 7:  Hot glue the bunny to the barrette, and you're done!

Will REFUSED to wear his Peep because it wasn't blue.

She's got two Peeps in her pocket.

The Peeps t-shirts evolved from a desire to make the kids something Easter-y but not dressy that they could wear to various egg hunts. After all, we're in it to win it this year and that means fierce competition, possibly a thrown elbow, and definitely some grass stains.  Plus, I don't really like making holiday outfits because a.) I never get them done until, like, the day before said holiday;  b.) why ruin a perfectly good shirt?; and c.) my kids would probably end up wearing Easter shirts around Halloween, and I wouldn't stop them, no matter how weird they look.  

So, I gave them Peeps for their pockets.  Removable, cute, and fun.  They're just two pieces of felt sewn together and dotted with a tiny bit of fabric paint to look like the Peeps candy. 

Here's the link to the Pocket Peeps template, because, let's face it: we could all use a few more Peeps in our lives.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Do You Wear a Maxi Skirt and Not Look Like a Sister-Wife?

 Make sure your maxi is NEON pink.

Believe it or not, I actually sew things for myself almost as often as I sew for the little folks.  And, not to alarm you or anything, but what I make for myself is not usually made from felt. Or tulle.

 I'm instigating a full rebellion against Mother Nature. Flurries the week of Easter?  Hats and gloves when it's officially spring? Nope.  It was time to whip up the neon pink maxi skirt I'd been pinning and planning ever since I started on Pinterest. So, there.   I used this free pattern, and it fit like a glove.  The knit is from Hobby Lobby, and, admittedly not the highest quality, so I have to wear a slip underneath.  Because my momma raised me right. 

Check out the finished product:

Lame mirror picture.  Why didn't I get Mike to take a picture of me?
 If Sarah was my stylist, she'd probably have me wear a wild floral in, I don't know, red or something, and demand I wear red cowboy boots with it.  I think I'll stick to neutrals on top (until I get some sort of black-and-white polka dot or chevron fabric), and sandals on the bottom.  

Surprisingly, Mike liked my skirt.  Normally his taste runs to the short, tight, and tiny side of things.

For me.  Not for him. 

I will be making more of these. Maybe in emerald? Chevron?  It's definitely a step up from the running skirts and sports bras that I wear around like a poser when I have no intention whatsoever of running.  Anyway, as if a bright pink skirt wasn't enough, I just got an amaze-balls swimsuit from Athleta, and I'm working on a tankini refashion.  And now the wheels are turning on some coverups...  Come on, warm weather!

P.S. I don't look like a sister-wife, do I?

 In other news, Mike was miffed because I dedicated a whole post to my coral paintings, and didn't include his hibiscus painting.

Pssst... That's because I wanted all of the attention.

So, here it is, making us all have the sudden urge to try surfing.

 Seriously, this is what we did all weekend. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coral Wall Art

Ever since Liberace Santa installed himself in our den, Mike thinks he's DaVinci or something. It's time he was taken down a notch or two.  It is with great pride that I give you...

A Study in Coral


When the kids are away, the mice will paint. 

Actually, Liberace Santa was an eye-opener to both of us that we didn't have to settle for buying the junk artwork out there, that was either to expensive or not our taste.  Nope, now we can make some ourselves that costs less and is in exactly the colors and scale that we need.  And cheap?  Of course.  This whole project cost about $20. 

So, now that our decor is ready for summer, we're supposed to get snow flurries tomorrow.  
Great.  Where is Spring?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Giveaway This Weekend!

This weekend, we're giving away not one, but TWO angelic preschoolers!

Made ya look.

This sweepstakes was fixed all along, because my parents are the big winners. The kids are spending a long weekend with them in Memphis.  In theory, this will give Mike and I a chance to get a bunch of stuff done around this house.  In practice, we probably won't make it through even half of our to-do list. 

I have extracted the promise from Mike that he will leave me alone for a few hours to do some major sewing, but we'll see if he makes good on that. I imagine it will shape up to be a lot of forced labor yard work, examining house plans, and watching Predators: The Sequel. 

Freedom from children for an ENTIRE WEEKEND is a heady brew, and we usually handle it with all of the finesse of a yard dog who's been given the run of the house.  What to do first?  Where to look? SQUIRREL! Where to go? Run, slide, chase our tails!  We'll turn in frenzied circles until we finally flop down, give our ears a scratch, and pass out.

But, oh, how we will pay for this weekend once our progeny return to us.   There will be approximately 3.7 seconds of, "Mommy! Daddy! We're so happy to see you!", and then it's Game On.  Meltdowns, tantrums, chubby arms crossed over their chest, backs turned, the refusal to look at the source of all of their pain and anxiety eventually giving way to glaring eyes and pouty lips; we have all  that and more to look forward to upon their return.  But I won't think about that today.  I'll think about it tomorrow. 

So, if you're in the Memphis area this weekend, keep an eye out for a little girl rockin' some red cowgirl boots and the man workin' the sweater vest/sweatpant combo.  They'll be the ones with the very tired grandparents.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leprechaun Houses

Sometimes somebody pukes on your leprechaun trap.  And sometimes you notice crusted-over vomit on your jacket, and you can only make an educated guess at whose it is.

We had viruses, strep, and ickiness running rampant through our house last week. Like, the kind of ickiness during which you can't leave the house except to fetch the essentials (Gatorade, Clorox wipes, and Saltines), Even when you do just dash into a store, it's coming out of one end or the other of your cherubic progeny. 

Anyway, I had planned to do some fun stuff for St. Paddy's Day, but it didn't happen.  Sarah spent about 4 days drawing up blueprints for our traps. I don't know if Scrooge McSar-Bear thought she would have unlimited amounts of gold at her disposal if she owned a leprechaun, or what.  I initiated some mandatory fun with the kids while they were on the mend about a week ago involving glitter, construction paper, and some oatmeal canisters.  Approximately 5 minutes after the kids finished halfheartedly decorating their leprechaun traps, Sarah suffered a relapse all over them. 

Fast-forward to yesterday, and the fabulous weather, and we felt like trappin' some leprechauns.  But this time, we changed our tactics and made houses for the little pranksters. 

We started out with some $1 bird feeders from Michael's and watercolor paint sets. 

  A Sharpie and broken popsicle sticks were all that was needed for some signs. 

Now we have some cozy little houses for any leprechauns, fairies, or other such magical folk who might wish to stay awhile in our garden.  I can definitely see us adding some walkways, flower pots, and anything else that might make our friends feel welcome. The kids are getting their own patch(es) for digging, growing, and playing in the back yard, so who knows what they'll dream up over the next few months!

Monday, March 4, 2013

He Put a Ring On It (Squared)

Exciting events are afoot in the extended House of Brown.  Not one, but TWO of Mike's brothers have just gotten engaged!

One of the engagements involved the groom petitioning for the bride's hand through a series of tasks, including eating an unhatched baby bird, plowing 5 acres of farmland, and awaiting the vote of the bride-elect's family. (There might be a touch of poetic license on my part here.)

The other involved a trip to Montreal and popping the question over dinner.

Mike is giddy in anticipation of his brothers' initiation into doom marital bliss.  Though I'm excited to have both of these super-sweet and cute girls join the family, I'm kind of sad to be slipping down in the rankings of daughters-in-law.  I'm pretty sure I was a solid fifth place, behind some cousins and non-blood-relations, thanks to my womb's status as Sarah's first apartment and her status as the first Brown Baby Girl Born in 150 Years. (*Note: Mike has only one other married brother.) Now, I fully expect to slip to somewhere in the high teens. 

Mike's brother Dan will be married in the Philippines in July, and the hubs has been asked to be the Best Man.  In keeping with an "if it never worked, keep trying it" theme, Mike's passport photo looks like the mugshot of a white-collar criminal serving a life sentence with a terminal illness.  The kids and I probably won't be able to go to the wedding, which is really a shame, since I was looking forward to 30 hours of "Are we there yet?".

Anyhoo, all of the wedding excitement has spilled over to the littles and now we find ourselves in the midst of daily wedding ceremonies/crime-fighting sprees. (Since we live in Tennessee, it is perfectly acceptable for siblings to get married.)

 We've had a dragon wedding:

your standard fairytale princess ceremony... on bicycles:

a shotgun wedding:

And an everyday, average superhero wedding. 
  As one would expect, Sarah is a total Bridezilla, demanding that her dragon wings and tail are just the right shade of marigold.

 My role as Mother-of-the-Bride (and the groom) is pretty standard: handle floral arrangements, make the cake, and be the Bad Guy when the ceremony is over and the crime-fighting begins.

No matter what wacky turns the ceremony takes, the happy couple rides off into the sunset:

And runs into a tree.

And deals with car trouble.

 But, it's back on the road again, off to exploring and adventuring,
 avoiding potholes and discovering the World's Biggest Ball of Yarn.

Congratulations to all of the happy couples!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Seeing as how yesterday was March 1st, and we've had such a mild winter, you'd think we'd be getting ready to put away the sweaters and boots and break out the flip-flops.  Nope.  We've gotten snow for the past two days. 

Even so, I am rebelling against Mother Nature and the crummy weather outside, and I'm putting up some Spring-y decorations.

The first thing to go up was this rather understated pussy willow-and-ribbon wreath on the front door.
Understated is all well and good for the front door, but we like our holiday decorations just this side of tacky.  With Easter coming up fast, I wanted to do a riff on this monster wreath (the same tutorial I used for the Snowths).  So, I tried my hand at making a tulle bunny.  Judge for yourself whether it's cute or scary:

I used a pool noodle and duct tape to make the wreath form, and craft foam, styrofoam balls, felt, and ribbon for the features and bow tie.  The kids seem to like him, and I kind of like his quizzical, clueless, and just a leeeetle bit creepy expression.  Decorations that can pull double duty just make sense, and Easter/Halloween decor is a rare combo.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bird Jell-0

We've had this bird seed sitting around in our kitchen for a year.  Just sitting there, because a.)Will hates birds, so I felt kind of bad attracting them to our yard; and b.) those little buggers were eating enough of the food out of our garden, I didn't want to add to their own personal Golden Corral during the spring, summer and fall.

So, the other cold, cold morning, when Sarah was writing her book (more on that later), it seemed like a good time to hang out and try out a non-peanut butter recipe.  This method for making bird feeders involves combining unflavored gelatin and birdseed in muffin tins or cookie cutters, putting them in the fridge to set, then tying some twine through the hole and hanging them on a tree.

Measuring and mixing was the best part:

So was putting the "bird Jell-o" in the cupcake pan.

"Mommy, are there baby birds in here?"
We put some straws through the middle to make a hole.
Happy birthday, birds!

Cupcakes = birthdays at our house, so the kids thought that maybe the birds were celebrating with this special treat. 

We stuck the bird jell-o in the fridge overnight.

 And it STILL fell apart.
I guess in this case, it was more about the process, rather than the final product.

 Sorry it's been heavy on the "Here's all the goofy stuff I did with my kids!" lately.  I promise I'll get back to heckling Mike very soon.  BTW, do you like the new pegs?  Leprechauns.  Sarah is drawing up plans for an elaborate trap to catch some on St. Patrick's Day.  We're also going to enlist the help of Eddie the Elf on the Shelf, to see if he'll help us.  After all, elves and leprechauns are both magical beings that show up once a year.