I don't always get it right on the first try. These wonderful fabric letters made by my now sister-in-law have been sitting int their little pouch for almost a year. I tried velcro, I tried string. And then, I found 3 sheets of sticky magnetic paper and thought "Yup, this could work!"


Craving structure

I am not really sure who is craving it more. Actually, that is not true. I know.

It's me.

As the fog of the first six months of new babyhood is starting to clear and a predictable schedule is slowly beginning to form (yippee), I am getting back to creating a bit of structure for our family, our toddler and myself. Though I am totally unsure how one marries the dual nap schedule of a 6 month old with the action packed needs of a 3 year old, I am certain that a little bit of "here is how we do this" will be good for everyone.

I am of the belief that children, especially toddlers, tend to thrive when they understand what is expected of them, when they feel empowered with some decision making and when they have structure. And as I am a visual person who still uses a big paper calendar on the wall, I wondered about a visual activity chart.

I started to look around for different activity charts and came upon the wonderful designs by A Kid's Day. Simple, appropriate design for little ones.

I ordered 2 sets of custom labels and used our magnetic board as the chart back-drop...

With the few blank ones that I received, I made bilingual days of the week titles.

By ordering the custom labels, I was able to mix both German and English words. The artwork is by far my favorite thing, as it is clear and totally recognizable. (Well, the clean up label below is actually made by me and you can see that my artistic hand is not even in the same ball park! But I tried.)

The labels are up and in plain view and this when preschool starts again, I plan on spending some time talking about the activities and letting him help set each day up. For now, I have noticed this:

1. He immediately could identify each label based solely on the artwork
2. He immediately started to ask what the word next to image said
3. Many activities, when I referenced back to the chart, were done without push back or tantrum

Not bad for setting up a little structure. Maybe I need to order some for myself.


Give the boy a hammer

I wish I could remember where I got this idea, it certainly wasn't an original one but I knew I was up to something good when even my husband remarked, "That is clever."

And indeed it was hit.

What was it?

A tupperware container + water + plastic toys + 24 hours in the freezer =

And if you are wondering about the real looking tools, you are correct. They are real, just smaller, made  for a child's hand, albeit an 8 year old hand and not a 3 year old one, but I believe you can teach children to have respect for real things. You can see, he didn't waste any time with the proper safety precautions. And yes, proper supervision is required. 

As for next time, I will get new little toys. Freezing things he recognized was less exciting. I like the idea of putting dinosaurs in and making it an archeological dig!

Red Toolbox Kid size tool set available here.


My version of "No spend month"

Do you know Rachel Meeks and her wonderful blog Small Notebook? It is one of my favorites because it if pertinent and real and simple. Since baby number two arrived in January, I have been far away from writing or reading but during a late night perusing of my Google Reader account I stumbled upon a post of hers that has changed everything.

Rachel and her family did their 4th annual No Spend Month and it inspired me to do the same. I wasn't organized enough to set up a budget and plan for a whole month of not spending or get my husband totally on board (for now) so I started with the simple act of not buying anything except groceries and gas.

And after about 15 days (I didn't start exactly on the 1st), there a bit more money in the bank, but there is a lot of awareness and awareness of one's habits, especially around money, can only lead to good things.

What I realized:

From Groupon to Craigslist, Mini Social, I realized how much of my spending was reactionary or circumstancial - justifed with a "This is a great deal" or "It's used" or "It's at the second-hand store" or "My baby needs this to sleep through the night" or "This will help my 3 year old sit at the table and eat all my himself."

What I did:

1. Removed my email from lists like Groupon and Living Social
2. Removed the craigslist, ebay and Joss&Main apps from my iPhone
3. Donated several bags to the local charity shop
4. Sold several pieces of furniture I was saving for "someday"
5. Let every online purchase sit in the shopping cart overnight. By the next day, I didn't go back to buy.

All in all this was an incredibly eye opening experience and I will get my act together to do this again next summer.


The train table gets a face-lift

A close friend remarked a few days ago "I miss the creative me, even if that creative me was showing up while making play dough."

And I realized that is how I feel. People keep asking how life is with two. But really it should be "how is life with a 3.5 year old and an infant? It's exhausting and all consuming. I forget that I have a 7 month old baby and that we are still in that tumultuous and topsy turvy time known as the 1st year of life because my ideas don't care if I am too tired. They just keep on coming and I have to choose to let them pass or find the time and energy to make them happen.

Well, I made this one happen.

Remember our train table?

It was time for a switch-a-roo. We did clean up with Thomas and Friends and tucked them away in the red chest for another day. I cleaned off the Lack Table...

and got out the Autobahn Tape that I bought last summer and shipped to Oma and Opa's house in Germany. And 30 minutes later...

And if you are wondering how I found the time. It goes like this: send 3 year old to swim class with papa on Saturday morning, put 7 month old down for the morning nap, make a cup of tea, get out the scissors, take pictures with my iPhone, send them to Blogger via an app called Blogger+ and then wait for a 10 minute window (days later) to add some text and hit publish.

And now, it's nap time for me.


Some early morning engineering...

Don't get me wrong - I would have rather been sleeping at 7:14am this morning. But the Lego "jumdo jet airbus" that a certain uncle so kindly put together yesterday needed a runway and the flimsy piece of paper I used yesterday only lasted 5 minutes.

I knew I would find a use for that left over piece of peg board.


Toddler + Target = Meltdown

It only took one trip to Target a year ago with my then 2 year old son for me to say "I am so not doing that ever again." And luckily my life allowed for that. 

Until last week. 

I was feeling bold and brave. Determined that I could reason my way out of not buying him one little thing, I even indulged his request to go to the toy section. I was convinced I could get out empty handed and without a complete melodramatic meltdown.

Trains and cars and firetrucks and machines oh my.

The requests started and my determined no followed. I could see it - the brewing frustration and need and want and utter desire to have all these amazing wonderful things just out of his reach. Maybe for Christmas or your birthday, I replied, thinking how reasonable that sounded. Good idea but three year old's live in the now - who the hell cares about what happens in 9-12 months.

And then it came to me. Just as the tears were about the flow like Niagara Falls and the dinosaur like screeches were about to overwhelm my ears I said, "What if you take a picture of things you want and then we can make a list for Nikolaus (Santa Claus)?"

Gold. I had struck gold.

I gave him my phone and here is what followed, with the spoken words between each shot, I kid you not.

"This mama.."
"and this.."
"and this.."
"and this.."

"Ok, that's it."

And that's how we walked out of Target without buying a thing. It may never ever work again. But it doesn't have to.


Dreaming of outdoor play


“Put the swing where the children want it, the grass will grow back.”
 – Amish Proverb


One family makes a difference...

{Stayed tuned for a new DIY in May...}

I was just about to call it quits on Facebook and then some "middle of the night, up-nursing the baby FB scrolling" challenged me to rethink its usefulness.

Here is why.

I don't stay in touch with everyone that I want to and what I realized last week is that my occasional peeping into FB allows me to catch a glimpse or two into the lives of people I wish I talked to more often. My friend Becky is the perfect example. We went to college together and as I sit here writing this my mind is flooded with one smile inducing memory after another. Makes me want to run to my photo albums and take a look and then call her. Regardless, she moved, I moved. Marriage, babies, jobs, life. That's how it goes, though I will take full responsibility for not staying in touch over the years for really no clear reason at all.

This is where Facebook comes in. She happened to post something at just the right moment that totally caught my attention:

In 2011, she and her family took it upon themselves to Buy American for one year.

In an attempt to simplify and buy locally, this was their path. Eye opening and at times challenging, it goes to show that one family can in fact make a difference.

For their blog Buy American for One Year, click here

For the story in the local Sun Valley paper, click here


Repurposed wrap

I haven't bought ribbon or wrapping paper (except for 2 rolls last Christmas) since our wedding in 2006. From years of doing invitation design and working in paper stores or creative environments, my drawers were stocked with supplies and one day I thought "Why am I buying more when I haven't even used up what I already have?" So I challenged myself to use it up before buying more.

And that included my bin of fabric scraps. One of my favorite things is to wrap gifts with something I find in there. Plus I have yards of ribbon to use up, which means I can usually find something that works.

Much like this baby gift.

What repurposed materials do you like to wrap with?


On being 3

Image found on Pinterest via Jennifer Kable of the fantastic blog Let the Children Play

There are several 3 year old birthdays happening in our neck of the woods these days, including someone in our very own house.

And if I have learned anything in the last 12 months, the 2's were a walk in the park. Hello 3.

I haven't been able to get this image and its wisdom out of my head since Jennifer pinned it months ago. I think I think about it at least 25 times a day - usually when I want a certain someone to sit still, be patient, keep his hands to himself, be quiet and share.

Maybe I need to print it out and hang it on the wall.

Happy birthday to all of our little one's who are embracing 3 and all the parents who are navigating unchartered territory, yet again.


Reusing your child's artwork

We seem to have a plethora of one of kind Piccaso like sheets of paper collecting in our closet. Instead of recycling them immediately or feeling obligated to hang them on the wall or keep them tucked away in some box, I figured why not reuse them. 

Seems I was not alone in my thinking - my dear friend Colleen sent over the top and bottom images of artwork she had transformed!

Would love to see pictures of your DIY giftwrap! Leave a comment and a link to your images!


A dad, a marker and some packaging pieces...

I was about to toss these pieces of cardboard into the recycling bin.

So glad I didn't.

Welcome to my Friday night.


Birds of a feather

Another gift from the lovely Miss Emily, soon to be Auntie to two very lucky little boys. She brought this as a gift for new baby a few weeks ago and of all the wonderful gifts she has made for us, this might be my favorite.

I hung it yesterday and now I {we} get to see it everyday.


A sling transformation

Do you know this sling? It's the gypsy sling from Serena + Lily, no longer available but still so lovely.

I was blown away when I received it as a shower gift from Sabrina and Eunice of Hello!Lucky fame - it was by far the most wonderful gift to get as I had been eyeing but could not rationalize actually buying it for myself. Regardless, I was more than excited to use it.

Unfortunately, its beauty out weighed it practicality and as soon as our nugget was over 10 pounds, the back pain from carrying him for too long made me pack this one up and save it for another day. So it went unused for almost 2 years. With each move and each "get rid of unused baby stuff" I could never part with it.

And last week, I thought I would just have to deal and add it to the pile of things to part with, until a moment of creative genius hit me. Okay, maybe not genius but a little bit of repurposing sparkle.

A needle, some thread and a silver hoop from the office supply store, and voila, it can now hold blankets and burp clothes and whatever else. Initially I had intended it to hold laundry and now looking at it it could hold dolls and cuddly toys as well.

Either way, it makes me happy that we don't need to part ways.

Do you have any favorite baby items you transformed into something else?