Thursday, June 25, 2015

Henna Tealights

Everyone has that friend who is really hard to shop for.  I know I have at least one of those, and I'm sure you do too.  They love unique items, or they seem to have everything and not really want anything specific.  While shopping for such a friend, I came across a site that is really going to help me shop for certain individuals in my life.  And guess what - I'm going to buy some for me too, because I like them that much!  Check out these henna tealights.

The henna tealights from http://designsbynn.com/ are beautiful and unique.  Just like your friend. And just like you. 

Because I'm interested in knowing what I'm supporting, I checked out the "about us" section of the site after drooling over all the beautiful tealight designs.  I loved what I found.  The creator of these tealights started this business in 2013 to share a love for henna inspired art.  The design inspiration for these tealights comes from the artist's Asian culture, from nature, and from architecture.  It is pretty obvious by the descriptions on the site that the artist is passionate about the work.

The next time I need to buy something for a friend who appreciates artistry and beauty, I'm going to buy her a set of these lovely henna tealights.  And I'll be making my own order soon too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creative Recharge

I don't know about you, but I find when I'm busy doing creative work, sometimes I have to stop and take a break.  It's important to recharge.  Here are some ways I like to recharge when I've reached a creative block.

Games
I had been playing games on my phone, but that requires a download for each different game, and then I'm sitting in front of a computer and holding my phone at the same time.  Then someone showed me a site that has a cool collection of games that I can use when it's time for a creative recharge.  It's called funbrain Games.  Their goal is to provide fun and relaxation with a variety of games on a single site. 

You don't have to go anywhere else to find lots of different games to play because you can find it all on funbrain!  From arcade style to the kind of games you may have downloaded in the past, this site has it all. Playing games is a great way to take a step back and work your brain in a different way.

Arts and Crafts
Another way I love to recharge is to color.  Yes, you heard me right.  There are lots of adult coloring books out there just for this purpose.  You can break out your colored pencils or fine-tip markers or pens and have a blast creating something beautiful.  Coloring is great for mental relaxation.  Along the same lines, crafting does the same thing for me.  I'm always happy to break out the hook and some yarn when I need a creative break. 

Meditation
Let's talk about meditation a little bit.  Just taking a mental break and clearing your mind helps.  Listening to calming music and not thinking about anything can get the creative juices flowing again.  Focusing on a single word or image can help you come up with creative solutions to your problem.

Exercise
And last but certainly not least, get moving!  Exercise is a great way to recharge your creativity - and with an added bonus of making you healthier and happier (yay, endorphins!)  So get up and get moving, even for a few minutes.  It will make a world of difference.

Those are just a few things I like to do when I need a creative recharge.  What are some things you do?  Let's share our ideas!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Perspectives

I actually may have written about this once before, but I wanted to do it again.  Can we talk about perspective for a moment?  More specifically, a shift in perspective and what that can do for a person.  Because I'm learning that this is pretty much the key to staying happy with life.

I'm not talking about joy - that comes from a good relationship with God.  I'm talking about being happy with life.  Genuinely happy.  Because you can have joy but still be sad.  You can have joy but still be dissatisfied.  And that's where a shift in perspective is required.

I've been struggling lately with various aspects of being a stay at home mom - especially with a toddler who wants to test everything right now.  I have joy.  I even have happiness with my life and the way it is right now.  But I find myself becoming angry easily, frustrated more often, and upset about the smallest things.  A shift in perspective is required.  So I listened to this song, thinking about my personal journey and my life, and decided to make that shift.


So how do you shift your perspective?  Do you think about people who have it worse than you?  Do you pray?  Do you meditate on your blessings?  There are many ways to do it, and of course you should choose the one that is right for you.  I personally like to do a mix of these things.  I find if I take a moment to actually stop and think about my life and the good things in it, the problems I'm upset about tend to become very small.  I find if I take a moment to do something nice for someone in need, it helps me (maybe even more than it helps them) because I gain a new perspective. 

What is your perspective on perspectives?  (See what I did there?)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Excited about "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee

If you are as bookish as I am, chances are you've heard about this (and even if you aren't bookish, since it's pretty big news!) new book.  Raised in the South, of course "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a book I read early and often.  As with any other book by an Alabama author, I studied it closely, being an aspiring author myself.  And now we have another fantastic work by Harper Lee, "Go Set a Watchman".  Seriously, I can't wait. 

In fact, I just found out I can pre-order the book and get something extra, so I'm extra excited!  Check this out.  Ol' Curiosities & Book Shoppe, a bookstore in Monroeville, Alabama (Harper Lee's hometown) is running a very special offer.  This description of the offer is from their website:

SPECIAL OFFER FOR THOSE WHO PRE-ORDER: To commemorate the special occasion of Harper Lee's new book Go Set a Watchman, we are going to be providing certificates of authenticity and embossing the title page of this hard-cover first batch of first editions we get here at Ol' Curiosities and Book Shoppe. We want you to have a one-of-kind special edition that signifies that your copy came straight from Ms. Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. This service will be free of charge to anyone who pre-orders Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee through us. These first edition books from Monroeville, AL, will go fast, so don't miss out!

This is so cool, y'all.  A first edition from her hometown!  You can bet I'm going to be pre-ordering mine.  You can use this link to get directly to the offer - either in hardback, paperback, or audiobook!

http://ocbookshoppe.com/pre-order-go-set-a-watchman-here.html

The book will be released on July 14.  Pre-order your first edition now!  I know I'm going to - right this minute.   

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poop Happens



There's a saying I've heard most of my life.  I'll make it more family friendly by saying "poop happens."  You've probably used the phrase or something similar in your own life.  It usually doesn't mean literal poop.

Unless you're the mother of a potty-training toddler and an infant.  If you are, that phrase takes on a whole new meaning.

The Gargantuan Toddler (aka Nathan) had a day without any accidents the day before The Incident. Our potty training method seems to finally be working.  (If you want to know our method, it is very complicated.  He gets a sucker for going teetee and a piece of chocolate for going poopoo.  Don't try to point out the irony of using chocolate for poop - he's two and doesn't understand.  He just knows he likes chocolate.)  Not the best method, probably, but it is working for us.  When he wakes in the morning, I take off his diaper and put on "beebee wawawear" which is his way of saying "big boy underwear" and then he tells me when he needs to go throughout the day.  It's a pretty good system, and the accidents are fairly rare.  My mistake was allowing myself to relax.  NEVER relax, people.  Never.

So I'm feeding the baby a bottle and watching an episode of Gilmore girls while Nathan is playing with his train table.  He suddenly jumps up and runs out of the room.  This would ordinarily seems suspicious, but my kid is extremely unpredictable and hardly ever has a reason for doing abrupt things.  So I was a little curious but didn't worry.  He was gone for several minutes.  I called out to him, asking if he was okay, and he answered "I'm okay," so I assumed everything was fine.

After a few more minutes, when he didn't return, my curiosity turned into fear.  What was he doing?  Why was he quiet?  So I put the bottle down, got up, and started down the hallway.  I saw him in the shadows, holding out his hands.  He was naked.

He said "Mommy," weakly, as if he was afraid to say the words.  The dogs rushed past me into his bedroom and I knew.  I knew something was wrong.  And then the smell hit my nostrils like a fist.  I got close enough to see his outstretched hands and yes, my worst suspicions were confirmed.

Poop.  Everywhere.  I shouted "Don't touch anything" and ran past him into his bedroom.  His carpeted bedroom.  And then I found the dogs.  I don't even want to tell you what they did - I will just say I didn't have much to clean up at that point.  I choked back my own vomit for a moment, and somehow managed to get Nathan cleaned up.  I also put the dogs out in case they got sick after their snack.  I really, really didn't want to have to clean that up.  Ugh.

So after cleaning him up as much as I could, I got him into the bathtub and let him play around a little, just to make sure he got very, very clean.  I also scrubbed his hands to get everything out from under his fingernails.

When I finally got him settled in the bathtub, I went to get the baby.  When had I put him down?  I didn't remember, but he was safe on Nathan's unsoiled bed.  I picked him up and he immediately became redfaced and gave that telltale grunt.

"No way," I thought to myself.  "Et tu, baby?"

I guess it's true what they say.  Poop happens. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shadow Boxes for Baby

I'll never have a completed baby book for either of my boys.  I tried with Nathan, but it just didn't happen.  I plan to keep a memory box for each of them with special items from their childhoods, but that's probably the best I can do.  It's sad, because I always thought doing the baby book would be the most fun activity - but I have found my priorities are different and I just haven't made the time to do them.  Plus, it's a LOT of information to find and fill out!  I mean, who knows the price of milk when their baby is born? 

One of the projects I did want to do, though, was this shadow box.  The onesies were gifts from their grandmother, and I picked other small items to include from their birth of just after.  So, here's how I did it. 



Frames
They came from Hobby Lobby.  I kept an eye on the sales until I found them 50% off, so I was able to buy them for cheap.  :)

Background
I really struggled to figure out just the right background for these.  In fact, Nathan's had black felt as a background for two years, but I never really felt right about it.  So, when I got ready to do one for Nicholas, I pulled Nathan's down and revamped it.  I'm completely happy with the result.  I decided to go with a receiving blanket for each one as a background.  I would love to tell you it was the blanket they were brought home in or something special like that, but it wasn't.  I just picked a blanket that I thought would look best with the items I had in mind for the box.  For Nathan's I chose a blue one with white elephants on it because the print on his onesie was blue.  For Nicholas, I didn't have a green receiving blanket, but I did have a great white one with beige dots that I think works well with the other colors.  I cut the blankets to fit the backing exactly and then attached them using double sided tape. 

Items
For each boy, I used their birth announcement, a diaper out of their first pack from the hospital, their first pacifier, a tiny baby hat, and a photo of us.  I had a little extra room in Nathan's, so I put in a photo of just him in the hospital.  The hospital gave us the cute button with his footprint on it.  I wish the hospital we used for Nicholas had done that, but they didn't.  They did, however, have little old ladies who crocheted hats for all the newborns, so I included that.  It wasn't the first hat he wore, but it was one of the first. 

Placement
Honestly, it was all about how to fit everything in without it looking too cluttered.  Using the larger birth announcement for Nicholas really took up a lot of room and I may eventually pull it down and substitute one of the small ones instead.  I used straight pins to pin each item to the backing.  Be careful not to push the pin all the way through, or you will have a nightmare on the back of your frame.  Your fingers will thank you for keeping it angled and shallow!

Hanging
I hung them on the same wall, side by side, with a decorative wreath that we were given when Nathan was born between them.  I may move them later, but I liked having them on the same wall, beside each other, so I can look at them together. 

Some Tips
  • Don't put too much in there!  I know you want to preserve every little memory and item, but remember that this is a display and if you cram every little thing in there, you won't be able to see much.  Pick the most important pieces and do something else with the rest.
  • Choose a good background.  I love the idea of using receiving blankets, or even those striped blankets from the hospital.  We had a million little blankets, so it was easy to find and cut two.
  • Do include a special onesie or outfit.  Remember that you will forget how tiny they were.  If you use the outfit you took them home in or something that they wore during their first week of life, it helps you remember just how small they were.  I love these little onesies with all the stats.  You can find lots of vendors on Etsy who do them, or go with someone local the way my mother in law did.  
  • Do include a diaper.  I know it sounds gross, but putting a diaper from their first package is such an amazing way to show how little they were and how much they have grown up.  I look at that tiny diaper that Nathan wore and I think, "no way did he ever wear that."  But he did.  And it was actually too big for him at the time.  
  • Do include a birth announcement.  If you had them made.  Or a photo of the baby if you didn't do birth announcements.  
  • Have fun with it! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"To Do"

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Every day, I get out of bed with one thought in mind.  I will get something done today.  And I probably shouldn't. 

You see, I've been doing this stay at home mom gig for about a month now.  But before that, I worked in the corporate world (and the nonprofit world) where the entire day was ruled by my schedule and my "to do" list.  But when you are a stay at home mom, what is on your "to do" list?  What are the priorities?  And how do you balance the "need to do" with the "want to do" in a way that makes everyone happy?  I don't have all the answers, but I do have some ideas on how to make it all work for me.  Maybe some of them will resonate with other moms, too.

A Master List
I do so much better with a list of items to cross off.  If I do a list for each day and something throws me off, it's a problem.  I won't get to everything on the list because Nathan will poop on the floor or Nicholas will need lots of extra attention that day.  Or one of the dogs will vomit in my shoes.  Making a master list of things I want to get done eventually helps keep me on track but doesn't put me under too much pressure.  If your house is anything like mine, you probably have dozens of projects you want to do.  Organization, rearranging, deep cleaning, crafty stuff - anything beyond the routine of cleaning the kitchen, sweeping/mopping the floors, straightening rooms, cleaning bathrooms, and doing laundry - these are all on the master list.  I try to cross at least 1-3 of these projects off my list per week.  But guess what - more projects are added every week.  Just like at the office, the list is never-ending.  But it feels so nice to cross things off.  Side note - a few days ago, Nathan spilled milk on my master list.  I rewrote the entire thing, including the crossed-off completed projects, just so I could cross them off again!

A Loose Schedule
With a toddler, a schedule is pretty much required.  We try to follow a loose schedule every day that includes play time, TV time, craft time, learning time, meal/snack times, and nap time.  Just as important as having a schedule is being flexible with the schedule, however.  If something derails, I have to remind myself that we are not missing a client meeting or losing out on a million dollar contract.  If we miss the MOPS meeting this week because Nathan had a fever the night before, it's totally okay.  This schedule includes leaving the house as much as we can.  It keeps us sane. 

Multitasking
Yep, one of the best skills for the corporate world works in the mommy world too.  My best tip is cleaning up while cooking.  My mom would always do this and it saves so much time. 

Make It Fun
If you have a toddler, get him or her in on the action!  We are working on this right now.  If you make it fun, they are more likely to help.  Sing a song or do a dance while picking up toys.  Alternate the task, "I put a toy into the box and you put a toy into the box."  Anything you can do to make it fun for your child will work.

Spend Time Playing
I'm still working on this.  I've been working so hard to make sure my staying at home is "worth it" to my husband (by making sure the house is clean and the clothes are washed and dinner is on the table) that I haven't been making it "worth it" for the kids.  Or for me.  I've realized the main reason I'm staying at home is to be with the kids, so I need to BE with them.  The priority should always be them. 

Me Time
Every single article or blog post about balancing life and work recommends "me time."  Why?  Because it is the way we recharge.  Right now, we alternate bedtime so that one of us takes the toddler and the other takes the baby one night, then we switch the next.  If I have the baby, I can watch something on TV while feeding him and getting him to sleep.  After they are both asleep, I can have some "us time" with my husband or we can both have time for ourselves.  He likes to paint miniature gaming figures.  I like to crochet.  We sit in the same room with something on TV as background and pursue our hobbies.  Or we watch a movie.  Or we go to bed early and talk.  Or have "adult time," as I like to call it.  ;)  Whatever we choose to do after the kids go to bed, it is always something for US.  It is so important. 

What are some of your tips for doing things on your "to do" list when you are at home with the kids?