Wednesday, 29 February 2012

GLOOP... the kids have a new love!

    I have become addicted to Pinterest (don't judge me, I know you are too, and if you're not what's wrong with you?)  I am always looking for things that I can do with the kids.  I saw "gloop" a few times and was intrigued.  Two liquids form a solid, this I had to try.  I adjusted the recipe, because as usual I did not have the correct quantities of things.

    Here is my recipe... you will need two bowls.  In the first bowl I mixed one 4oz bottle of white Elmers Glue, then filled the bottle with hot water ( so in other words you will need 4 oz of water) and mixed the two together.  I then added green food gel.  Take it from me, use less than you think you should.  We all look a lot like the Incredible Hulk after playing with the Goop, because as usual I thought that more is better.
   In the second bowl I mixed 3/4 of a teaspoon of Borax with 1/2 cup of hot water.  I mixed them until the Borax was completely dissolved.
    Now for the cool part (yes I am essentially a little kid trapped in a woman's body).  I mixed the two bowls into one.  It became solid almost immediately.  The kids thought this was as cool as I did, I swear.  I then mixed it by hand to make sure it was completely blended.  It was then stolen from me by Rowan and Riley (Grace was too grossed out to play with it).  They played with it for hours.  Inevitably it became the stuff of many booger jokes.  When Elly came home from her visit at Nana and Popa's she too was hooked.

The recipe that I converted suggested refrigerating it, but hey I know better, we just put it in the cupboard (I'll tell you tomorrow if I am a complete idiot).  It made up about 2 cups of goop.

Sanity Savers a.k.a. "Travel Books"


        The car seat organizers have been sewn, and now I have begun to compile the kid's travel books.

I began by visiting my favourite store, the dollar store.  I purchase four binders of the same colour ( I have learned from experience to buy anything other than the same colour for everyone is begging for a screaming match).  I also purchased some letter stickers so that I could put everyone's name on their binder.  As you can see I also thought it might be fun to include "Florida".

I  purchased a few packages of page protectors.  I gave each binder two sheets of stickers so that they could personalize their own binders on the way there.  I put the stickers into a page protector.

I thought that it might be fun to include a map of the United States so that 
they could colour the states that we pass through.

I have included lots of mazes, crosswords, and spot the difference puzzles.

I have put a few pocket protectors in the binder.  You can't have too many Battle Ship games, Tic Tac Toe, Connect the Dots, or Hang Man.  I have included at least 6 sheets of each of these games and labeled the top of the pocket protector to tell them what games are in it.

I found some really great websites that have helped a lot!  They have some really great printable games and travel ideas.  I found the most helpful sites to be....


Please share your sanity savers.... I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

My Car Organizer...

Did you notice that I made no effort to clean the car?

    I may have mentioned a few million times, but we're going to Florida this March, in 24 days to be exact!  When we first booked it, it seemed like so far in the future, but now it is in hyper acceleration.  I have so much to get done, my head is spinning.  The trip is booked, the hotels are booked, some of the dining reservations are booked, the house sitter is booked, but there is sooooooooo much more to do.
    We are no strangers to long distance travel, in fact for the most part I enjoy it (minus the "are we there yets").  I actually am pretty together when it comes to planning for the long trips.  We are looking at a 24 hour actual time trip, so I really need to plan for this one!  Last night and this afternoon I sewed up 4 seat organizers.  I had the denim already and the other materials, so it made it easier.

I have the good fortune of owning a cutting board, rotary cutters and a plexiglas ruler.  Scissors would also to the trick.

I cut the denim into 24 inch long by 14 inch wide pieces.  This is pretty much the dimensions of our bucket seats and thankfully half a sheet of brisol board.
I cut the bottom pocket 12 inches by 12 inches.
The top pocket 12 inches by 6 inches.

I sewed the contrasting material wrong side to wrong side (how's that for excellent terminology)
I then turned the contrast material over onto the best side of the denim.  I sewed a half and inch seam at the top, rolled the bottom under and sewed the bottom of the contrasting material.

I found it easier to sew all of my contrasting materials onto the pockets before assembling.

I should add that I cut the top corners off of the denim to accommodate for the bucket seats.  I turned the denim edges under, then sewed the pockets on.  I made one large pocket on the bottom, and sewed across the middle of the top to create two pockets.

I did the yellow hearts material for the girls and cars flannelette for Rowan.  I did some small embellishments at the top of them.  I seem to be addicted to the rag tie so, I added it to the one above. For Rowan's I cut some flannelette into small pieces and sewed them across the top with a fancy button for embellishment.  To attach them to the seats, I turned the top down and created a small pocket to fit thick elastic through, I guess time will tell if that was a good idea or not, wish me luck.

Tomorrows blog.... the activity binders I am working on.

Monday, 27 February 2012

My Easter Centre Piece

    Valentines Day is over, and now I begin my Easter preparations ( I am not a fan of St. Patrick's Day, no offense to the Irish).  As you may now have figured out, I am OVER THE TOP.  I like to decorate the house for the different holidays/ seasons.  The funniest part of this is that I am a dreadful house keeper, so there are adorable decorations, and piles of garbage all around them, it's sad really.  I keep hoping that one day I will wake up and be a clean freak, it has not happened yet.
    For Christmas I had a great idea.  I brought in evergreen branches and placed them into one of my flat baskets.  I then took one of my vases and put my battery operated faux candle in it (so that it would look like a hurricane candle).  It looked great if I do say so myself!  It sat on the coffee table for the Christmas Season, and looked pretty good.  I liked it so much that I decided that I would do a coffee table display every holiday.

For my Easter display I ... 

I used a flat basket, basket filler, bunches of eggs I got from the Dollarama, and a ceramic bunny (again Dollarama), my battery operated candle and my vase.

I filled the basket with the basket filler.  Then I put the vase into the middle and dropped the candle in.

 I cut the eggs off of the branch they came on using wire cutters.
I placed the bunny then the eggs.  I tied ribbon around the bunny's neck and around the neck of the vase.  It took about 10 minutes and cost about $4.00.

  So there you have my Easter coffee table display.  I have already made my Easter curtains, and this week-end I'm going to make Christopher bring up the rest of the Easter decorations (it's a wonderful little surprise for him).  Maybe I will actually clean up before we decorate, nah who am I kidding.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Maybe They're Twins After All

    Riley had her first ever slumber party last night.  I can't believe it, but she lasted the night.  I kept waiting for the phone call.  As the night rolled on I kept thinking "we'll get the call at 1:00 am, just watch".  I picked her up this morning, I am in shock.  Here is the other thing I am in shock about, Rowan kept wondering about her.  I did not expect that.  It occurred to me that they really had not been away from each other.
    Riley and Rowan are fraternal twins, which means they are a brother and sister who just happened to be born at the same time.  When they were little people used to ask me if they had a secret twin language. My reply was "they are not identical, they are fraternal.  If by gibberish you mean a "secret language" then yes, but all of my kids spoke that."  They are as different as different could be.  They don't look alike, their personalities are completely different, Rowan is a full head taller than Riley.  Honestly you would not even take them for siblings never mind twins.
    Up until recently they acted like they didn't even really like each other.  As babies they used to kick each other.  In ultrasounds I could see them hitting each other through the membrane.  I remember thinking, "Wow am I in for it!".  Having said all of that they were each other's build in best friend (that best friend that you don't always like).  Most toddlers parallel play.  Not Riley and Rowan, they always played together.  They did interactive play that most kids did not do until they were 5 of 6.  It always amazed me.  I wonder if other twins do this.
    Recently the kids all invited over a friend for the PA day.  Grace and her friend went off and played by themselves.  Riley and Rowan and their friends played as a group, I did not expect that.  It was really neat to see.  A few days later I ran into a girl I went to school with.  She and her brother were the only twins I had ever known.  I was telling her that she and her brother were my example of twins, she laughed.  I was telling her about Riley and Rowan's play date.  She said that all growing up, right up even through high school she and Derrick had the same friends.  This was interesting.
    Rowan asked about Riley quite a few times last night, and then this morning he kept asking when she was coming home.  Maybe he does like her.  Maybe they are not just a brother and sister who happen to have been born at the same time.   They have known each other longer than they have known anyone else, and that includes me.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Riley's First Slumber Party.

    Riley came home from school a few weeks ago, little face all lit up and an invitation in her hand.  She had been invited to her very first slumber / birthday party.  It is all she has been able to talk about.  Everyday we get the count down "only ___ more days until Maddie's birthday party".  I do not think that she will last the night, and if she does I do not think that she will get much sleep.  For girls sleep overs are a right of passage.  It means you are growing up.
    Last week-end we went birthday shopping.  We bought a pair of cupcake pajamas for Riley and a matching pair for her to give to Maddie as a her gift.  Riley thought that would be a great gift.  She had already begun imagining Maddie's face when they went to change into their p.j.'s and she saw Riley in hers.
    I was thinking as I lay in bed last night about the pajama bags my sister and I had as little girls.  I had a powder blue poodle and Mandy had a cotton candy pink poodle.  They had a zipper on their stomach that opened up for you to put your p.j.s in.   I would put my p.j.s in there religiously and then put it on my pillow, every morning.  I thought it was pretty special.  As I lay there thinking about it, I decided that I would take a trip to Belleville in the morning and see if you could still buy such a thing.  Then the snowstorm hit.  I was not going to be leaving the house.  I decided to try my hand at making my own.  The pajamas have cupcakes on them, so I would make cupcake pajama pillows.  One for Riley and one for Maddie.

I jotted down a sketch (drawing is not a strong suit for me).  I then cut a template out of bristol board.

I cut the polar fleece. 

I thought it might look like cupcake paper if I sewed lines into the fleece ( I think I may have been nuts.  I only did it for one, because sewing the lines took longer than the whole project).

I sewed everything together except for the bottom.  On the bottom I sewed velcro.

The pajamas fit into the bottom.

    When Riley came home from school and saw the cupcake on the table she thought it was pretty neat.  When I told her what it was, and that I had made a matching one for Maddie, she was over the moon.
I just hope that Maddie is as excited to receive the gift as Riley is to give it, I guess I'll hear Sunday morning, or more likely late Saturday night.

Sometimes A Shirt Is Not Really A Shirt

     A terrible thing happened at my house yesterday morning, I had looked out Gracie's clothes for the morning, and when she put them on, we discovered that one of her favourite shirts was now too small.  My husband unthinkingly announced to Riley, "Hey it looks like you've got a new shirt!"  Grace's face dropped.  Being the quick thinking lady that I am I said, "No no, that's Grace's special shirt, she does not have to pass that one down".  The morning was saved.
    You may be wondering what all the fuss is about an outgrown t-shirt, I would be too.  It is not "just" a t-shirt.  It is an American Girl t-shirt that she bought with her own money at the Boston American Girl Store.  With money she had saved all year for the trip.  This shirt had a twin, a much smaller, cuter twin, that belongs to Grace's doll.  It represents memories, experience, (I know I am pushing it,) but even childhood.  She's 10, almost 11, a tween.  She is no longer a little girl, but not yet a big girl.  Soon she will not want to play with her dolls, or us.
    That shirt is a memory, a snap shot of last year's almost magical family vacation.  My big girls LOVE American Girl.  The dolls cost an arm and a leg, but it really is a fantastic franchise, and if we were smart, we would own shares in the company.  The American Girl franchise consists of dolls that you can purchase to look like you, books, magazines, DVDs, clothing ( for girls and matching outfits for their dolls), accessories, pretty much you name it!  What I like about this franchise is that it empowers girls.  All of their products encourage girls to love who they are and accept others.  The DVDs have great messages, as do the books.  Most of the books feature historical characters that have overcome their circumstances. It really is a great franchise.  As I mentioned Grace has hit that "tween" phase.  I'm not sure how much longer she will even like dolls.  It is because of this that I talked my husband into taking a trip to Boston, Massachusetts, because this is the closest American Girl Store.   I told him we needed to do this, it was really important to me.  A beautiful family vacation all blossomed from this.
    When we walked through the doors of the store I looked at my two little girls faces.  They were in awe.  The look on their faces was worth everything.  I stood there blinded by tears, hoping that they would not look up at me.  I was so overcome with the beauty of my children's delight.  They were so excited.  We saw every single inch of that store.  At one point Grace was touching the plastic bubbles in a display (we have always had our hands full with her in stores, she has always been a toucher).  I told her my usual "Do not touch".  One of the workers had overheard me and came up and told us, "in this store you can touch everything, so go right on ahead".
    It was just the two big girls and I (Christopher had taken Elly and Rowan to the Franklin Zoo).  The store was like a little girls department store.  In the store they had a restaurant. Everything was pink, and girly.  The waitress spoke to the girls like they were adults, which made them feel special and important.  The company had thought of everything.  There were little bubble gum pink chairs that looked like high chairs, that attached to the tables.  When the waitress brought the girls meals, she also brought dishes for the dolls.  Magical and very memorable.
    The girls had saved $100.00 dollars for the trip.  I told them that it was their money, and they could spend it however that they wished, but I recommended that they spend wisely.  We decided we would look at everything in the store first, and make our purchases after lunch to make sure that they were sure and not buying on impulse.  Riley spent her money on a seat like they had at the restaurant, a sparkly skating dress for her doll and doll shoes (which cost more than Riley's shoes).  Several times I asked her if she was sure that is what she wanted to spend her money on because when the money was gone, it was gone.  She was sure.  Grace on the other hand was more thoughtful in her purchases.  She purchase that same marvelous seat, some new American Girl books and DVDS and matching t-shirts for her and her doll.
    So Riley will not get that hand me down.  That now pillow will be Grace's until she is ready to let it go.  It is not just a shirt, it is beautiful memories.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

An Ode To White Sauce (rue)

    I consider myself to be a kitchen wizard.  Not because of my mad culinary skills, and certainly not because of my housekeeping skills (or lack there of), no because I can make something out of nothing.  I was wondering what I could make for dinner last night.  I in my usual state of preparedness had left nothing out, and not given it a thought until 5:00.  As I was running through quick meal ideas.  I came up with fetticini alfredo or macaroni and cheese, both quick and always well received by the kids.
    It got me thinking about how many ways there are to use a white sauce or as the culinary community call it, rue.  All it is is 1/4 butter, 1/4 cup flour, two cups of milk, easy.  My mother would kill for it on anything, I myself not a big fan of plain "white sauce". (1) Add some dill, some pepper, you have delicious dill sauce for salmon.  (2) Add two cups of old cheddar cheese, cheese sauce.  (3) Saute onions in the butter before adding the flour, add some pepper, then add two cups of old cheddar cheese, boil some noodles, mac and cheese.  (4) Increase the amount of butter, add some cream instead of milk (or if you are one of those healthy people keep the butter and milk) add some parmesan cheese and a tablespoon of cream cheese there you have a simple yet delicious fetticini alfredo.  (5) Boil some broccoli or celery in chicken broth, drain and save some of the water, make your sauce, add some of the vegetable water, and there you have cream of broccoli or cream of celery soup. (6) If you are feeling adventurous, reduce the amount of milk and add some wine, pour it over chicken breasts.  The possibilities are endless!
    So there you have it, and ode to white sauce.  Please feel free to share your white sauce recipes, I'm always looking for something new.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nature vs Nurture, who knows?

Nature vs Nurture, who knows...
     I have 5 kids.  Each one of my children is very different.  I find this baffling.  I like things to make sense, I need explanations.  I'm not sure why it is that I spend so much time on this conundrum, but I do (maybe they make a medication for that).
    I have one sister.  She is three years younger than me.  She is naturally blonde and has always run to being thin (much to my chagrin).  I have dark hair and have gained weight just from smelling other people's food (that's my theory and I'm sticking to it).  I am quite a bit taller than her.  We share a lot of the same facial characteristics, but no one ever takes us for sisters.  We are also very different in our personalities, but we share some of the same core values.  I always found this so perplexing.  How could two people who had the same parents be so different?  I thought I had it all figured out.  It made sense to me.  Although we both shared the same parents in terms of DNA, we did not have shared experiences.  I am the oldest.  Because I am the first, I was treated differently.  Mom and Dad were new at this whole parenting thing when I came along.  Mandy is their last, their baby, they had learned from me.  I always thought that she got away with murder (they will tell you different), but she was their baby, I paved the way for her.  The things that seemed so important for me, in experience no longer seemed so important.  So although we had the same parents, we did not have the same experience.  This explained it, I had my answer, wasn't I so smart?  Not really.
    When I had my own children this theory held water, at least at first.  Gabe was my first, he was my guinea pig, poor kid.  I thought I had it mapped out, and then came Grace.  With Grace, none of the same rules applied.  The same discipline was not as effective, so we had to change it to fit her.  I still held on to my theory, we were different parents with her, we were 6 and a half years older, we had a lot more life experience under our belts.  When Riley and Rowan came along they annihilated my theory.  Here you have two children who are exactly the same age, they had the "same" parents at the same stage in our lives.  They were and are night and day different.  You would not even take them for siblings.  Rowan looks like Christopher with red hair and Riley looks just like me.  I was brought back to the drawing board!
    So here is what I have determined, there is no answer.  For us there is no nature vs nurture.  They simply are different.  None of them seem to like the same things at the same time.  Perhaps instead of rolling my eyes, and shaking my head, I should make myself a cheat sheet and actually chart who hates what.  I should just take them shopping with me when I buy them clothes, so that I can avoid returns.  Maybe I need to just calm my type A personality down and embrace their differences.  All I can hope for is that they will share the same core values, the ones that we as their parents most value.  As long as they are healthy and happy, it should be enough (maybe if I keep telling myself this I will actually believe it).

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

One on One Easter Craft

Our afternoon one- on -one craft...
    This morning Elly and I went to the library and enjoyed story time, which also included a craft.  She LOVED it.  I never really think to do crafts with her.  I'm not sure why either, because I used to do crafts with all of the older kids.  I think it's because with Riley and Rowan there were two of them, and now that there is just one it hardly seems worth the effort (how's that for some great parenting).  After I saw how much she enjoyed the craft at the library, I decided to get off my lazy butt and do something fun with her.
   Today we decorated paper Easter eggs using the marble technique.  Being the together housekeeper that I am, I had no idea where any of the millions of marbles that we own might be.  Instead of marbles we used big wooden beads and some small beads (because that's what I could find).

I used three colours, and made sure that the beads were really covered in paint.

I cut construction paper into the shape of an egg.  I then taped it into a dollar store storage bin.

I was smart enough to keep a wet rag right beside Elly, but not smart enough to cover her clothes.  Luckily that t-shirt is getting too small.

She sprinkled glitter onto the wet paint.  I put some of the glitter into a salt shaker in the hopes that it would minimize the mess (it kind of worked?)

Elly loved shaking the container to make the beads roll.  She got a bit carried away a few times and the beads flew.  I had some paint clean up afterwards, but it was worth it, she loved it.
I guess we'll do more crafts.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Things They Didn't Tell Me About Twins

Things They Didn't Tell Me About Twins...

    Christopher came home last night talking about double strollers.  He had been looking at double strollers on the internet with our acquaintance who is expecting twins.  "Things sure have changed in almost 8 years" he said.  Again it got us to reminiscing about Riley and Rowan.  I really do think I should write a book that covers areas that "the books" don't cover.
    When Riley and Rowan were born they were so tiny.  I was terrified of them.  I told this to the nurse at the hospital and she laughed at me.  "You do know that they are the size of most full term babies, right?  That they are huge for twins?"  I did not know this!  Keep in mind Gabe was 9 pounds 3 ounces, Grace was 9 pounds 10 ounces and our youngest was three weeks early and was 8 pounds even.  Rowan was 6 pounds 12 ounces, and Riley was 6 pounds 4 ounces.  To me they were tiny.  They were 4 weeks early.
    What no one told me is that the medical community pretty much consider 32 weeks term for twins.  32 is the holy grail for twin pregnancies.  I was 36 weeks.  My pregnancy was pretty easy, until the last month of it.  I was more sick with Gracie our oldest daughter than I was with Riley and Rowan.  It wasn't until 8 months or so that things really began to get unpleasant.  At that point we were into June.  Come July I was ready for them to come out!  I woke up every morning with everything swollen.  My face looked like a big red moon, ad my eyes were just slits.  I had to wear flip flops because my feet wouldn't fit into shoes.  At my last OB appointment before I went into labour I begged my OB to induce me.  "We'll talk about that next week" he said.  Next week, I wasn't sure if I could survive another week!  What no one told me then, and I did not discover until I was in the hospital for a month with Placenta Pre-via with Elly, was that before 37 weeks there can be lung difficulties with premies.
   Every year Belleville (our closest city) has a Waterfront Festival and Folklorama in July.  The downtown area closes off the main street and has really fun activities for families as well as sidewalk sales.  They had a bouncy castle, games, face painting and the train.  The train was made of plywood that had been all painted up and was pulled by what looked like a lawn tracker.  So Gabe and Gracie and I climbed into the train.  The kids loved it.  It was really bumpy.  That night I did not feel so great.  My Mom harassed me to go into the hospital.  I knew I was not in labour, but decided it was easier just to shut her up and go (turns out sometimes Mom does know best).  I thought I might just see if I could beg someone into inducing me.  Well it turns out there was no need, because I was already in labour.  They moved me into the labour room.  At one point there was my OB and his medical student, the next moment there were at least twenty people in that small room.  Now normally I do not like strangers to see my privates, but at that point, I did not care who saw them, as long as they got those babies out!  There was a team for me, and each baby had their own pediatrician and nursing team, it was a little like a three ring circus.  The babies were born and there were no health issues, their lungs were great.
    Turns out that labour was the easiest part.  Who knew?  Now we come to my pet peeve, not just with twins, but with babies in general.  I know that "breast is best".  I know that the human body makes exactly what the human infant needs, that's just common sense.  I know that Feminism is all about woman's rights, and that women over the years have fought hard for the woman of today to have the rights that we have, I get it.  I don't understand why society makes woman feel so degraded if they choose not to breast feed, like you are not a real woman if you choose not to.  If you told someone that you were going to solely formula feed you would get the same reaction as if you told them you were solely going to feed your baby beer and vodka.  I was formula fed, exclusively and at the age of 40, I don't feel any ill effects of it (other than that third arm I grew).   I don't understand why the nurses at the hospital harass you until they can watch you several times a day to make sure that the are seeing "a good latch".  They were not going to let us leave the hospital because they did not feel that I had a good enough latch (keep in mind I had a 9 year old and a three year old who had survived infancy).  In the end I told them that we were leaving good latch or not, that I planned to supplement with that bad word, formula.  In the end I did both.  They got the best of both.  I am not a really great milk producer, I would not have made a very good Holstein.  The formula allowed their Daddy and others to feed them, but mainly it allowed them to get enough to eat.
    In the beginning Riley and Rowan wanted to eat at the same time, poop at the same time, this made it tricky when Christopher went back to work.  In the end they settled into one would eat, and fall asleep, then the other would wake up, eat and fall asleep.  This sounds perfect, but it took up a lot of time.  In the end we found a rhythm that worked for us.

Don't worry, I will inevitably be sharing recollections until that acquaintance has their twins.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sock Bunnies

Sock Bunnies...

    Today we made sock bunnies.  The kids loved it.  It actually was pretty fun.
 So here's how we did it.

Take a sock.  I bought these in a three pack from Dollarama for $2.00
I then turned them heel up and cut down the middle of the top.

I turned the sock inside out and sewed where I had just cut, to make two ears.

 The tough side is turning it right side in.  I slowly and carefully used the one leg to pull it through.
 Ready to stuff.
 Let the stuffing begin...

 The final product from the back.  I used the hot glue gun to glue googly eyes and a pom pom nose on.  We used a sharpie to for the mouth.  We used ribbon to tie for the head, and at the bottom of the ears.