Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Miles is happily occupying that gray space between "baby" and "toddler." Every morning, he looks a little older to me, and it's bittersweet. But every morning, his personality shines a little brighter too, which makes me excited to get to know him more. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You can see the resemblance, can't you?

A few months ago, I let B watch "Shrek 2." Aside from some potty humor that is over her head, and one reference to smoking catnip, it's a pretty tame flick about love and acceptance, eschewing the world's aesthetic theories and embracing your inner beauty. Peace. Love. Happily ever after.

That, and it has some hilarious pop culture references and hidden jokes that only the adults will understand (like at the end when the people of Far, Far Away are fleeing the gigantic gingerbread man, and they run from one Starbucks across the street into another Starbucks).

Anyhoo, it's not surprising that B aligned herself with Princess Fiona. Of course, she would want to act out the favorite protagonist. The princess. The ever-lovable Cameron Diaz in ogre form.

What did surprise me is that B cast me as Shrek and Kris as Prince Charming (or just "Charming" as she likes to call him). For MONTHS I have been Shrek. At home, I'm Shrek. In the grocery store, I'm Shrek. At the YMCA, I'm Shrek. Everywhere we go, she introduces me as Shrek.

I've stopped being embarrassed by it, actually. When B yells for me in public "Hey Shrek! Look at this, Shrek!" and people's heads turn, I no longer stop to explain.

Around the house, we have full conversations, Fiona and I. Just the other day, out of nowhere, she said, "You know, Shrek, bees are our friends. They make honey."

"Good to know, Fiona. Good to know."

Tonight, before bed, B said to me, "I love you Shrek. You're so beautiful." And I had to laugh. Calling me Shrek is probably the greatest honor B can bestow. Because it has nothing to do with how the characters look, or even their gender, but how they interact and what their relationships are in the movie. And if she's Fiona, then Shrek is the person who loves and cherishes her no matter what. I'm happy to fill that role.

I guess Prince Charming comes in a close second. Though I wonder if B is conveniently forgetting what a brat he was in the movie? Hmmmm.... Or maybe she's just identifying Kris' thick, wavy hair and chiseled body. (Remember THIS??)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Upcycled Dollhouse

As you might have guessed, I made B a dollhouse for her 3rd birthday. I began with a $2 wooden CD rack from Goodwill and gave it a makeover. I love the Plan Toys modern dollhouses, so I used that as inspiration for the design. I'm also really inspired by the simple, brilliant toy designs at Made By Joel. You should check out his blog for other cool dollhouses.

Here's the wooden rack before I started:

I cleaned it up and painted the roof and walls, then pulled together some craft paper and felt to make flooring/carpets. I used one sheet of paper and made a template for all the flooring on the bottom level:

For the top floor, I just laid one large sheet of craft paper and folded/cut it to fit. I attached all the floors and sealed them using Mod Podge.

To decorate the interior walls and give the house a bit more dimension, I grabbed my IKEA catalog and clipped some images, then pasted them to the wood with Mod Podge. So, when you peer inside, it looks like the house has closets, bookshelves and some artwork hanging on the walls!

I fashioned some little furniture with cardboard and scrap fabric and some bottle caps.

Like all well-loved homes, this one will remain a work in progress. It needs more furniture, and I'm curious which of her toys B will move in (her Little People maybe?). We might need to get her some of the Plan Toys dolls--they're the perfect size.

Her birthday is still a couple weeks away, so I've enjoyed playing with the house and taking photos before she gets her hands on it. But I think she'll love it as much as I do. (I hope!)

I haven't decided what to make Miles for his 1st birthday, which is also coming up soon. If you know of any DIY toy projects for boys, please suggest them in the comments.

UPDATE: The dollhouse is a big hit :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday dance session

Friday, September 24, 2010

A sentimental post with some videos that will make you smile...

Maybe it’s the events of recent weeks. Or maybe I’ve been reading too many blogs about 6-year-olds who are battling inoperable brain tumors. But today, I am looking at my children, and I am overcome. I’m brimming. I am literally dancing with joy for them. For their health, and their love and their beautiful, unique personalities that make me smile each and every day. For all the hope and innocence they embody.

On the darkest days. My grumpiest days. My most exhausted days. On my loneliest, most self-pitying days, I still get to smile and snuggle my children and feel a large measure of joy. What a gift!

For those who are new to the blog, there's this tradition we have that started when B was about 6 weeks old. Around 5 every evening, we turn on music and dance. It’s usually the hardest time of day—that hour or two before Kris gets home, and I’m trying to cook dinner, and I'm tired and growing impatient, and the kids are grumpy and whining. The music somehow has a magical calming effect on their mood. (Mama has a beer, too, which helps)

Lately, B has been requesting Barenaked Ladies. Specifically, she loves “Get in Line.” She calls it the “falling over song.” (I have no idea why) Here she is twirling to it:

Miles, I think, prefers Kris' music. Here he is dancing to Flogging Molly:


Is that not the cutest?? I just want to freeze moments like this.

How do you get through those stressful moments of the day? Share with us in the comments.....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

another little makeover project...

I'm in LOVE with B's hair. She was born with these thick, fabulous curls, so irresistible that strangers would stop me in the supermarket and ask to run their fingers through them. I think B learned to crawl just so that she could get away from me, because at least 50 times a day I'd grab her and snuggle her up under my chin so that I could feel those soft curls on my cheek. Her hair never fell out the way some babies' do, so I've just let it do its own thang for the past almost-3 years.

Since we moved to the surface of the sun, however, those long wavy locks have become a burden for her. She's developed a little heat rash on her neck, and she hates wearing pony tails and all the brushing and tangles and more brushing. So Kris and I have been trying to convince her to let us cut it. Her response is always a dramatic "NO!! NO CUTTING!"

Today, for whatever reason, as I was brushing out her tangles and she was whimpering AGAIN, I reminded her that if she lets mommy cut her hair, she'll have less tangles. And amazingly, she said "Okay."

I gave her a lollipop to encourage her to sit still, pulled her hair back into a pony tail and cut.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DIY: homemade play dough


The high temperature crept back up to 110 on Monday, so I was desperate to find some fun indoor activities to keep us all busy (and sane). One of my favorite standbys is play dough. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, it keeps the toddler busy for hours, and you can store it in the fridge for about a week.

Here's the recipe (this makes a huge batch, so you can divide it up and make several colors):

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
3 1/4 cups boiling water

Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix them thoroughly. Then, slowly mix in the oil and the boiling water and stir until dough forms. Once it's mixed and cools a bit, you can knead the dough and add more water if necessary.

For coloring, I like to use spices. I used a few teaspoons of paprika to make the orange. Curry makes a nice yellow. You can also use spinach or beet juice for greens and pinks/reds. I kept some white, and I used just a couple drops of blue food coloring to make the turquoise.

I set B up with cookie cutters and a nice surface to work, and she went at it.

Of course, you have to supervise the kids....I left the room to refill my coffee and when I came back, this is what I found:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

B's 3rd birthday gift (sneak peek)

I've been working on another fun upcycling project for B's birthday. Here's a glimpse:

I'll be ready to unveil the whole thing next week....

11 months

Of course, Miles thinks it's his birthday every day, because sister throws pretend parties for him.

Friday, September 17, 2010

DIY Barbie clothes

Had you asked me a few months ago whether I thought I'd ever have the desire to sew Barbie clothes, I would have laughed. Actually, nevermind. A few months ago we didn't even own Barbies, so I would have just given you a dumb look.

But times are a changin'. We inherited these lovely vintage girlfriends (plus one Donny Osmond doll, not pictured). And I fell in love with their 70s homemade wardrobe.

Then, I came across THIS tutorial on how to make your own Barbie clothes, and it looked so easy, I decided to try making a skirt.

Here's what I came up with:


Me: B, it's time to go to the grocery store. We need to pick out some clothes for you to wear.

B: No clothes mommy. I go like this. (completely naked)

Me: Sorry, babe. You have to wear clothes when we leave the house. They won't let you in the store naked.

B: I wear my princess panties.

Me: You can wear your princess panties, but you also need a shirt and shorts, or a dress.

B: No, Mommy! NO dress! My tummy wants to be out!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A facelift for the pantry

This is just a quickie naptime project I completed this week. Our kitchen has sort of a French country theme. It's lovely and really functional, but some of the details clash with our taste (which is a bit more modern.) The thing that bothered me the most is the pantry door. It has frosted glass and this scroll type pattern that says "Pantry"

Here's a before pic:

I just didn't think we needed to announce to everyone that this is our pantry. And I didn't like that you could see through to our clutter inside. So, I grabbed some chalkboard paint and painted over the center panel. Here's the result:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Easy Halloween Costume

This fun idea comes from a crafty friend of ours who made this as a gift for B. She took a plain T-shirt and ironed on a superhero badge, then she hand sewed a rectangle of sparkly, sequined fabric to the back neckline as a cape. Instant superhero!

If you can't find a superhero iron-on, you could use some fabric markers to get the same effect.

B hasn't decided what she wants to be for Halloween, but this is a contender. Do you know of any other easy homemade costumes?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barbie goes camping

I think B has struck that perfect balance between princess and tomboy, as evidenced by Kris' photos from the camping trip.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is your emergency?

Labor Day, 2:42 AM: I was home alone with Miles when I was jolted awake by the sound of glass shattering.

Kris and B were out camping a few hours north of here. They were supposed to be home the previous day, and I had already endured hours of anxiety over them being overdue. I had tried to track them down to the campground where I thought they were staying, only to be told that they never checked in there. My evening was filled with calls to campgrounds, checking our online bank records to see where they bought gas, calling the police, and then long conversations with the county search & rescue (wherein I described our car and every stitch of clothing I thought they might be wearing, and also assured them that my husband was NOT the type of guy to kidnap his daughter and leave his wife and infant son).

Thursday, September 9, 2010


We had quite the eventful holiday weekend around here. A few calls to 911 (more on that soon), a bedroom makeover, and our littlest friend took his first steps. Welcome to the biped world, Miles.

Everyone is safe and healthy, and I'm happy to report that public services such as police and search & rescue really DO work. Thanks, taxpayers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

B's Room: Before & After

Another room complete, and I'm proud to say this one was our cheapest design yet. Total cost came in at $176.

For B, we just wanted to give the room a little switcheroo and make it more fitting of her vibrant personality. We already had all the furniture she needs, so it was mostly just a matter of painting, rearranging, and creating some artwork for the walls.

Side note: I know some of you think I am cranking out these room makeovers at lightning speed. But, in fact, aside from the painting (which I do quickly to avoid displacing anyone from their beds), the rest of the work is completed over weeks of naptimes and evenings--whenever I have a spare 20 minutes to sew a pillow or finish an art project. I think if I had to wait for a huge (3-4 hour) block of time to work on our home design, it would never happen. So I've learned to bite off small pieces. Of course, I'm also motivated by the desire to make this unfamiliar house feel more like "home" as quickly as possible.

Ok, so here's a shot of her room BEFORE:

Just kind of blah. Kris said it looked like she was sleeping in a big shoebox.

Now here's the AFTER:

Friday, September 3, 2010


B is watching a DVD featuring kids Irish dancing...and dancing along. (Jenn and Jess, this one is for you.)
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