Wednesday, November 30, 2011

RWOP: I wreath I can, I wreath I can

My Real Women of Pinterest offering for today is a bit weak, but you can't win them all!

Excepting the company of a spider web from Walgreens back in October, our front door has been pretty lonely since we moved in. We needed a wreath. Now, I would very much like to order a wreath from the Williams Sonoma catalog, but I can't justify that purchase at this time ... or possibly ever.

Enter Pinterest. I saw a tutorial on making a wreath from strips of fabric. Unable to locate the big bag of fabric I absolutely could not get rid of before the move, I decided I would use a similar technique using some ribbon I did know where to find.

I didn't photograph my process, but here it is:

1. Find an inexpensive and not-too-thick wreath. I found an off-white grapevine-esque wreath at Dollar Tree.

2. Choose some lovely ribbon. I chose a wide, wire-rimmed ribbon that I purchased at Costco (personally think their huge rolls of ribbon there are a good value).

3. Cut pieces of ribbon long enough to tie around the wreath and knot. Do this a bunch of times until the wreath is covered.

4. Fluff and arrange the ribbons as you wish.

I wasn't sure about the project as I was doing it so I think that uncertainty subconsciously made me stingy with the ribbon. I probably should add more, but I think it's okay as it is. Not the most beautiful wreath ever, but I'm not embarrassed to have it keep my door company.

If you've done some Pinteresting or Pinterest-esque stuff of late, please link your posts below! Don't have a blog? Feel free to email me with pictures of your projects so I can share: mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

Please check out and comment on the posts of those who have linked up below. Join in next week for another edition of Real Women of Pinterest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RWOP: May the Force Be with YOU and you and you too ...

Welcome! It's time for the second week of Real Women of Pinterest. Please visit this blog and It's a Small World After All on Wednesdays to see Pinterest-inspired projects and link-up your own Pinterest-esque posts.

I've got a mountain of laundry to fold and four bags to pack for our Thanksgiving road trip so this post will be brief.

My son is obsessed with Star Wars. He received Star Wars bedding for his birthday back in June. This past weekend, he finally inherited his big brother's twin bed and was thus able to use that bedding.

I thought he could use a lamp. I thought it should be a Star Wars lamp.
We had an old lampshade that was slightly bent/cracked. I took photos of my son's bedding, printed them on full-sheet labels, did some cursory tracing and cutting, pulled the backing of the labels, and affixed to the lampshade.
If I had it to do over, I would have taken the time to cut a pattern out of plain paper before cutting out the labels. Then I could have avoided unsightly layered seams (see below). I also would have printed the labels on an inkjet printer and not a laser one. I think the colors would have been truer.
But, guess what? I can pull these easy-peasy labels off no problem and do it over if I want. I probably won't bother because really, it's pretty awesome, just as it is.

Not sure about the ethics of photographing the bedding, but I'm thinking: we paid for it and are enjoying this lamp in our own home, not trying to sell it or anything.

Let' s look at it one more time.
Link up your own Pinterest-inspired post below! Too busy with turkey day? Join us next Wednesday for the next installment of ... Real Women of Pinterest (RWOP).

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'll claim her.

Bub and I took a Wiggleworms music class starting when he was around nine months old. By the end of each 45-minute class, I would be completely pitted out, fully sweating from the effort required to keep Bub from crawling the perimeter of the room to dig through purses and diaper bags, stealing maracas from other babies, and grabbing on to the teacher's guitar (music class could not proceed until he was removed, over and over, from that guitar). We had our own struggles at Gymboree and also at gymnastics. The issue was too much energy and exuberance, more than anything, but I spent many a "circle time" wondering if I might some day have a little girl who would sit on my lap during circle time and make me feel like a "good mom."

And guess what? I do. My Sweet P takes music class and does Mother Goose story time at the library every week. Sure, we've had our moments -- Sweet P stole a baby's hair bow in the first week of music class and then proceeded to swat that baby on the head repeatedly once the little one's mom had wisely pocketed the bow. There was also a frustrating class when she kept trying to open the supply cabinet. But, all in all, she's good in classes. I am able to smugly (a little bit) enjoy circle time while feeling compassion for the moms who have little Bubs.

Sweet P is also, NTB, better able or more willing to entertain herself than her brothers were at this age. She sits on the floor and flips through books (!!!!), moves her babies all around, pauses to watch five minutes of television now and again, and travels around the house looking for action.
As adorable and independent and sweet and good during circle time as Sweet P is, she is also trying my patience these days.

In the car, she refuses to sit in her own car seat, leaving me to either wrestle her into it or sweet talk Little Bit into trading. Also, when we arrive home, she wants to stay in the van attempting to re-buckle all the seats. Who doesn't like hanging out in the garage?

During her bath, I spend the entire time trying (and failing) to keep her from drinking bath water and from turning the water back on. After bath, she runs around my room naked and climbs onto the bed to jump and roll around. Always a treat getting her into jammies.

Every diaper change is a wrestling match. This gets messy.

Sweet P has never encountered a bin of toys that she didn't want to empty out.

We keep a big container of crayons on the kitchen table with paper. While Sweet P is happy to color quietly for a few minutes (again, something the boys never did at her age), she also dumps those crayons all over the floor two or three times each day.
She's gotten better about keeping her bows in her hair, but she still manages to look disheveled by mid-day and often has snot and/or pieces of her meals caked into her hair.

She's a bit pushy about her breakfast, grabbing Daddy's handing and leading him to the kitchen where she says, "Nonuts. Nonuts. Nonuts."

It used to be that at bedtime, we'd just say, "Okay, Sweet P, time to give kisses and go night night." She'd stop what she was doing, give kisses, and start heading upstairs. Now, she says, "No."

"No" is her new favorite word. Would you like pasta? More milk? Ready to go pick up Bub? "No."

I won't go into all the things that can go wrong if the boys or I forget to close the bathroom door.

She has now figured out how to open the fridge. She dumped one container of leftovers this afternoon and brought three juice boxes to me for straw help (for the record, I put them all back amid screams of protest).

She also dumped half a bottle of fabric softener on the floor. My fault, of course, for not putting the lid back on tightly, but honestly I don't even know how she reached it.

I keep my make-up bag in the kitchen (oven door is my vanity) and she was inspecting its contents after dinner.
"Your daughter," my hubby says with a smile. Over and over. She's got him wrapped around his little finger to the point that he never gets frustrated with her, and he's endlessly entertained watching me respond to her.

She drives me nuts some days.

Lucky I'm nuts about her.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Real Women of Pinterest Unite!

An Interview with NTB founder and lead writer, MEP.
Are you seriously going to talk about Pinterest in another post? Didn't you just write about your Pinterest obsession?
Yes and yes.

Okay then, who are the Real Women of Pinterest?
Friends and fellow bloggers who have been inspired by Pinterest and who want to share their creations.

The phrase "Real Women" conjures images of Bravo's Real Housewives? Should we expect excessive consumption of white wine, cat fights, backstabbing, and botox?
More like glue guns, fabric, and paint. Pinterest is inspiring, but sometimes when you look at the beautiful rooms and homes and creations on there, you can feel a bit inadequate. I'd love to show real people motivated to make their lives more beautiful in big and small ways. My bloggy friends and I are going to share our own Pinterest-inspired creations on Wednesdays.

Oh, so you have loads of bloggy friends?
Well, not loads, but it's quality not quantity that matters.

How many participants are you expecting?
One for sure. It could be as many as three if only I had remembered to send an email telling people about it.

But anyone is welcome?
Yes, bloggers can link up their Pinterest posts here on Wednesdays. Non-bloggers are free to send a digital pic and brief description to mep AT nottobrag DOT net. I'll find a way to share their Pinteresting.

I'm getting bored. Anything else to show me?
How about my Pinterest-inspired Coat and Corkboard Center?

I have a feeling you just made that name up right now, but go ahead and show us.
"Coat and Corkboard Center"
In this photo, you can see the laundry room and the door leading to the garage. I'm thrilled to have a laundry room that is not a basement dungeon type like we had before. However, the kids would come in from the van, walk a few steps through the laundry room, and start shedding. They removed coats, shoes, and backpacks and strewed them about. Note the past tense.
Now they hang their coats and backpacks carefully on their hooks and line up their shoes just-so beneath. Sure, they don't do these things 100% of the time, but when I step over a coat, I can now say, "Bub, hang your coat up." And there's an actual spot that he can reach where the coat goes.
There's a bulletin board too. The long-term plan is to have the kids' school, sports, and activity schedules on the boards. Party invitations, permission slips, reminders, etc. We're not in the schedule-heavy years yet so we are playing the boards by ear for now.
This picture is included solely so you can admire Sweet P's adorable rain boots. It does remind me though that I saw a pin on Pinterest where someone had what looked like a cookie sheet filled with stylish rocks that was used as a sort of mat/draining board for wet boots.
This picture is tacked on at the end because I felt that something was missing when I took the others and realized it was Little Bit's cute backpack.

Where did you find the materials and labor for this Pinterest project, MEP?
I purchased the three-hook boards at Home Depot. The corkboards I already had because I have long been obsessed with incorporating, for better or worse, bulletin boards into my home decor. My hubby was not super enthusiastic about this project (though I don't think he minds the result) but my father-in-law was kind enough to hang the hooks and boards for me. I am very thankful.

Are you completely happy with the final Coat and Corkboard Center, MEP?
So glad you asked. I am not happy with my current wall color (though, to be fair, it is not as olive-icky as it looks in the photos), but we are having some painting done in a couple of weeks. I'll choose different fabric for the boards after I choose new paint. The black and white fabric was already on the boards from a previous decor moment. Any recommendations for non-boring neutral wall colors? Or, are neutrals necessarily boring? Same fabric for each board or mix it up?

Hire a decorator.
Do you know any decorators who work for free or for Activia yogurts? We are all stocked up on those right now.

How can bloggers link up?
See below. Just cut and paste the url for your Pinterest post. Feel free to link to multiple posts if you wish.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ready, Set, Go

You know how there are some moms who are able to do their holiday shopping throughout the year -- buying the perfect gifts as they think of them instead of forgetting all their brilliant ideas, taking advantage of sales instead of flailing around desperate and hasty, stockpiling treats in a secure and secret spot rather than misplacing them? Do you know those moms?

I am not one of those moms, and it's a shame. It's not that I get incredibly stressed out preparing to play Santa Claus. I don't. Desperate and hasty are probably a bit strong for describing me. Our kids have been happy every Christmas morning so far. However, I always end up feeling a bit disappointed in myself, like I could have done better. By better I don't mean grander or more lavish. I mean better as in more creative and surprising.
My ideas and plans for Christmas this year are still foggy, but here are some ideas I'm thinking about ...

For Bub:
Make good on my promise to turn part of a basement storage/furnace room into an art studio. I'd love for him to open the door and see a rug on the floor, the easel he already owns set up with new paints and brushes, a clothes pin art gallery ready and waiting for his creations, a smock, a variety of paper, and one of those 10-packs of blank canvases they sell at Michaels for $14.99. Also, a new bulb in the overhead fixture in there so he can see what he's doing.

For Little Bit:
He's really into the puppet theater in the library's "learning garden." Hubby and I don't have the time or DIY skills to construct a wooden puppet theater, but I think I could rig up something cool with some fabric and a tension rod -- maybe for a doorway or part of the playroom. Or, if I had a giant sturdy cardboard box, I think he'd be just as excited by that. I'd buy a few puppets and also search Pinterest (I know, I know, when will I stop mentioning Pinterest? Never.) for some directions on making your own paper bag or sock puppets.

For Sweet P:
Sweet P is flat-out obsessed with babies. Each night before she goes to bed, she has me tucking in three battered and semi-naked Cabbage Patch dolls (two of mine, one of her dads), her dad's "Baby Troy," a stuffed Elmo, and a Barbie-sized Princess Leia. She is constantly bringing me various babies to be swaddled. We've made some makeshift beds out of cardboard boxes, and she gets a real kick out of taking the babies in and out of the beds. For her, I'd love to create a miniature day care center -- a corner of the playroom or basement that has some baby beds or little pack n' plays, car seats, high chairs, strollers, etc. I've seen all this baby doll stuff at toy stores, and I imagine I could improvise as well. I think she could spend hours moving the babies from one spot to the next, especially if any of these baby doll items have straps to latch and unlatch. Actually, if I can't get the child care center set up, I'm just going to find a used infant carseat (we gave ours away when I could no longer carry it and Sweet P at the same time) so she could spend her days buckling and unbuckling it.
Speaking of babies, anyone have a source for inexpensive clothes to fit Cabbage Patch dolls?

For all three:
They all love singing and dancing, and I think they'd get a kick out of a dance area with a spot light. Our CDs and digital music are pretty disorganized right now. If we get our act together in that department, we could create an atmosphere more conducive to dance parties.
Okay, I've got to end this post and get to work on these ideas ASAP. I probably should have started months and months ago.
And, just warning you, I feel like I have more semi-creative Christmas ideas percolating. Stay tuned.
Any creative surprises in mind for the kids in your life? Please share in the comments.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

PFMP -- Phase One

Yesterday, I finished Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I adored this book. Kaling is smart, hard-working, and refreshingly honest about what's important to her: her parents, her friends, her hope to one day be in a happy marriage and be a mom. Her book of personal essays is extremely well-written and genuinely funny. If I were still teaching high school English, I would offer an excerpt to students to illustrate the elusive quality we call "voice." Hers is clear, strong, and engaging. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? would make a great gift for anyone who enjoys a smart, funny read that does not rely on shock value or cheap shots.
One essay is entitled "These Are the Narcissistic Photos in My BlackBerry" and includes photos from Kaling's BlackBerry with commentary.
I don't take many photos of myself with my phone, perhaps because I seldom need to check my hair and make-up on the way to awards shows. I do snap a lot of pics with my phone though, often with the intention of sharing them in a blog post.
Here's the first phase of PFMP (Photos from My Phone), complete with commentary approximately 96% less funny than Kaling's and with insight into the accompanying posts that never quite materialized.
Okay, here we have Little Bit taking a walk amongst some still-melting snow mounds last winter. Since it snowed here for about seven minutes this afternoon, this photo called out to me today. There's my old city street -- aawww.
Here's the Charlie Sheen auction package at the boys' school fundraiser last year. Can't remember if I took the photo because I thought it was funny or inappropriate. Discuss amongst yourselves. Actually, don't bother.
There's my Bub holding one of the Sweet Pickles books we read at Grammy and Pop's house. I'd love to have a complete set even though some of those Sweet Pickles are more grumpy and/or depressed than they are sweet.
A Caprese Salad my mom made. Delish.
Ahoy, mateys. We took the boys on a fantastic pirate cruise when we were in Florida last March. Loved it -- one of those rare totally-got-our-money's-worth experiences!
Whoa, step back. Is that the Biebs peeking out of my sister's front door? Or maybe just the life-size Justin Bieber cardboard cutout I got my niece for her birthday (pre-alleged-baby-mama-drama). I photographed each party guest with Mr. Bieber but never ended up putting a post together.
And here is the button I sewed onto my husband's shirt ... after that shirt sat on top of our china cabinet for two months early this year. Bet you're sorry that thrilling post never came to be.
We'll end with the money shot.
For as long as I can remember, the garage door above has had Snoopy as the Red Baron painted on it. It's next to a main road in the town bordering my hometown, and I have passed it thousands of times on my way home. I snapped this from the Odyssey as I was pointing it out to my kids --the very same garage door I had looked at from the back seat of the station wagons and conversion vans of my youth!
And there you have it, PFMP, Phase One.
Any gems saved on your phone?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Picture Lady in the House

I am visiting Bub's kindergarten class as part of a parent-sponsored Fine Arts Program.

At my grade school, this program was called "Picture Lady."

Tomorrow I am the Picture Lady. I feel old and yet strangely proud because I always found Picture Lady and the picture ladies themselves to be kind of awesome.

I'd say I was worried about doing something that would embarrass Bub, but the truth is that he is still so young, innocent, eager, and sweet that I doubt I could embarrass him if I tried. He is over-the-top excited that I'm coming to his classroom tomorrow.

And so am I.
Off to get some beauty rest and dream of Van Gogh's The Bedroom in my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Word Up

Well, I've reached that point in November when daily posting is getting difficult. I'm too tired and uninspired to write anything worth reading, but too stubborn to give up on the NaBloPoMo daily posting challenge.

Today's solution? Borrow some wise and inspiring words from others, the collected wisdom of my Pinterest "Inspiration" board. Sources for the quotations included whenever possible.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
Be kind and be truthful and your life will be fruitful.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt
Cleaning House while the kids are home is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing.
(I'd replace "home" with "awake" for my purposes)
Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?
(my friend E... has started an awesome series of gratitude posts inspired by this saying)

What words are offering you inspiration and perspective these days? Which of the sayings above resonates with you? Please share in the comments.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pick a Card, Any Card

Here are my memories from kindergarten: distinguishing myself by preferring white milk over chocolate, sitting on the rug and talking about the weather, going into the little classroom bathroom once and finding poop on the seat, being part of the group with the gold folders, hearing my teacher say she was "ready for my golden girls and boys," and calling my teacher at home to tell her that my new baby sister had just been born.
I don't remember learning any sight words in kindergarten and that may be the reason why one of my memories of first grade involves having one of the thickest stacks of sight word flashcards. It could be that kindergarteners in 1980 did not learn sight words.
Kindergarteners in 2011 do learn sight words, which I think is fantastic. Bub is so eager to learn to read, and watching him on this journey is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of parenthood so far.
We were given a list of sight words for each quarter at the start of the year and some suggestions for helping our children learn them. One of the tips was to play games like Memory and Go Fish with the words. I bought a package of index cards at Walgreens and made two cards for each word. What I found was that the index cards were a bit too big for these games. When we played Memory, the cards took up too much room on the table. When we tried Go Fish, Bub couldn't manipulate all the cards in his hand.
One easy solution? Take the index cards left in the package, cut each in half, and make a new set of smaller, easier to handle cards.
Feel free to stop reading at this point.
* * *
I got it in my head that it would be so great to play Memory and Go Fish with the sight words if they were on actual playing cards. So, here goes.

Materials Needed: list of sight words appropriate to your child's grade level, computer/printer (though you could handwrite if you wish), full-sheet labels, playing cards, scissors, plastic container

1. Type the sight words (each word twice) in a large, easy-to-read font. I used three columns and typed eight words per page, but there may be more efficient ways to arrange your document if you did more measuring.
2. Print on full-sheet labels (these are labels the size of a piece of printer paper -- available at any office store). Cut each word out (tedious).
3. Pull the sticky back off each word off (more tedious) and stick that word on the face of a playing card. Since I did not measure precisely, some words did not fully cover the original face of the card but this does not seem to matter.
4. Shuffle and play Memory with your sight word cards.
Memory is my favorite even though Bub clobbers me every time. And, yes, he has a pencil attached to his shirt collar.
5. Play Go Fish with the sight word cards.
6. Store in a little plastic container (could use the cardboard boxes to sort by level).
Things to Consider:
* if your child's sight words are sorted by quarter or level, you may consider using different colors of ink for each level.
* these sight word cards would be a great way to re-use playing cards from an incomplete deck -- be aware that it might make sense to make sure words from the same quarter/level are adhered to the playing cards from the same deck
* you don't need to throw out the Jokers as they just get covered
* you can buy a two-pack of playing cards at the dollar store for ... a dollar!
* probably best to make playing these games totally optional and not a chore/obligation

Remember that I said you could stop at this (* * *) point? Just checking. There are tons of great ways to learn and review sight words that don't involve cutting and adhering full sheet labels. I'm just sharing something we've had fun with at our house in case the project appeals to you.
I do this kind of stuff because I enjoy this kind of stuff. I think Bub gets a kick out of having the words on actual playing cards, and I don't regret the extra time and effort it took to assemble them. Bub and I both genuinely enjoy playing cards with the sight words. When the second quarter began, Bub knew all the second quarter words (NTB) just from playing these games a couple times a week.
Fun and learning together? Win-Win. I'll play those cards. Deal me in. I'll bet on that. A winning combination however you shuffle the deck. Okay, I'm stopping now.
Any sight word tips or success stories in your house?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Rhymes with Lame?

Here's another round of the Favorite Game:

Favorite New Television Show
New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel

Favorite New Christmas Album I Haven't Even Heard Yet
A Very She & Him Christmas ("She" of this duo is Zooey Deschanel)

Favorite Variety of Chobani Greek Yogurt
2% Pineapple

Favorite "Female Story" I've Read
My bloggy friend Dusty's post "The Best/Worst 'Female' Story You Will Ever Read"

Favorite Books Read in October 2011
Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang and Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad

Favorite Male Television Personalities
Tom Bergeron and Regis Philbin

Favorite Class/Program for Young Children
Music Together

Favorite Blog Tag Line
Wendi Aaron's "they're not all gems" (seems quite applicable to this post)

LEAST Favorite Candy Bars (had to tweak category since I am abstaining from candy)
KitKat, Three Musketeer, Nestle Crunch, Hershey's

That's it for now. I'm finding it trickier to come up with categories in which I have clear favorites than I thought. Feel free to offer your own answers in the categories above and/or additional categories for consideration.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pretty Perfect Morning

Sweet P was up and at 'em early ... so I took the early train into the city and caught the sunrise.And on that train, I read this book and laughed aloud at least five times.
When the train arrived in Chicago, I walked the almost-empty streets and enjoyed the rare freedom of having no stroller to push and no little hands to hold.
Then all of a sudden on that almost-empty street, I crossed paths with two of my sister LAP's good college friends. LAP's roommate's son took a picture so we had a record of this happy, surprise meeting. They were headed to run in the Hot Chocolate Race.
As they headed toward their race, I kept walking but paused to admire the Chicago River.
Then I walked into that Hot Chocolate Race. And guess what? I needed to cross that street. I'll wait it out, I thought, surely the runners can't keep coming forever. Twenty minutes later, I got up enough nerve to Frogger my way across the road. No one was injured, and I felt strangely exhilarated.
A little more walking, and I knocked on the door of the hotel room of one of my very favorite people in the whole world. I captured this city view from the room's window as she dried her hair and we talked in that very comfortable way you talk with someone who already knows you and loves you and appreciates you just the way you are.
Then we walked a bit to earn our tasty breakfast. Matching bowls of oatmeal, Diet Coke, and the croissant (which we split). And more talking.
Then some browsing and some analysis: Kit's scooter? Bitty Baby or Bitty Twin? Does Julie indeed have a pet rabbit? We gave each other the nudges we needed to give Santa some help. Then we got in a cab, met her hubby back at the hotel, and loaded up their sleigh.

Pretty good picture for a parking garage backdrop. A few pretty, perfect hours with a pretty stinking awesome friend.

That was my Saturday morning. And yours?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sippy Cup Chapel

I promise that not every post will mention Pinterest, but here's a photograph of an old prayer that has been pinned by me, my sister, and a dear friend.
There are many moments in each day when it would be good for me (and thus for my kiddos) to pause and offer this prayer. There's certainly weariness, confusion, and noise to spare around here. I know my eyes are not always "gentle and smiling" but perhaps they will be tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, I printed this prayer and taped inside a cabinet door. It's the cabinet with the shelf that houses the children's cups. Several times a day, I stand at this cabinet trying to match cups with lids and keep track of who wants what. Regular milk in big boy cup with straw? Got it. Water with ice in a sippy but no, not in that one but that other one? Done. Can I have a sprite? No. I changed my mind and want chocolate now? Too late, well okay, actually not. Don't spill. Who needs more ketchup?
Anyway, since I stand there so often, especially at mealtimes when confusion, noise, and disorder are high, I taped the prayer there. I'm hoping it will remind me to pause and find patience, perspective, and joy in the moment.

What have you or would you like to tape inside your cabinets?

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Here's a job I would like: Pinteresting. I would sit at the computer uninterrupted for an hour each morning, with a chilled Diet Coke and some delightful carb by my side, and pin things on Pinterest. Maybe I could be trusted with an important client project like "Pin all the best ideas for a nautical themed birthday party for a two year-old boy" or perhaps I would just be so admired as a pinner that I could pin and categorize whatever struck my fancy. Then, I'd go about my day as usual, taking care of the kids, doing school pick-up, heading to the park, making lunches, etc. At around 1:00 p.m., after Sweet P goes down for her nap, someone would come in and clean up the kitchen and family room, transition the laundry and occupy the boys for about ninety minutes while I got out my glue gun, paint, oil drip pan (yes, really), and ribbon and got to town turning my Pinterest dreams into realities. Actually, since I won't be beaten down by the thrice daily tidying of the kitchen, I will have the patience to let the boys join me in Pinteresting.

Some of you are nodding your heads like, "Oh, yes, I hear you MEP. I also am addicted to Pinterest and want to apply for a job as a pinner too."

Others are all, "What the hell is Pinterest?"

It's an online home for every recipe, design idea, craft project, gorgeous photograph, handy tip, inspiring quotation, or party plan you've ever been tempted to rip out of a magazine (and obsessively sort and save in binders you rarely open -- wait, that might just be me). Since all the cool stuff is there, you just "pin it" on virtual boards in categories of your choice. If your friends are on Pinterest, you can see what they're pinning and "repin" their cool finds. I love seeing what my friends pin and it makes me happy to think that so many people are seeking inspiration and outlets for creativity.

So, here's a recent example of Pinteresting at Casa MEP.

I repinned a friend's link to this template for a beautiful thumbprint tree, intended to be a wedding guestbook (guests place thumbs in ink to make leaves for the tree). The tree was meant to be printed out large-scale, but I cropped the image (did not need the text on bottom for my project) and pasted it into a word document and sized it as I wished.

I then threw the ink pads on the kitchen table and said, "Go to town, peeps!" Ha! I hovered a bit and strongly suggested they not use the blue ink and only the purple very sparingly because "don't we want our trees to look Fall-like and beautiful?"

Luckily, the boys ignored me and did their own thing.
Bub made a fist and pressed the whole side of his hand on the ink pad to create a flaming maple type effect. Love it.
Little Bit used the same fist trick and was drawn to the very blue and purple ink I had strongly suggested they avoid. The result -- a lovely, twilight effect behind his tree.
Sweet P needed a little help getting her small digits pressed into the ink far enough, but she caught on and enjoyed herself.
I typed each child's name and the season and year before printing. I think if I did it again though, I'd have handwritten those details in the corner to make the trees seem more like the pieces of beautiful art that they are.
I loved the final result so much that I popped them into some inexpensive frames from Michael's and cleaned off the mantle so I could display them.

New plan is to come up with a creative take on Thanksgiving and then Christmas to rotate into the frames. I think I might stick with digit prints for now and will, of course, search Pinterest for ideas. It will be tough though, to switch things out, because looking at the autumn fingerprint trees is making me so, so happy.

What about you? Do you Pinterest?

And, what are you waiting for? Follow the link above to the tree template and get cracking!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's in a day?

My dear friend E... recently wrote about a day when she cried over spilled milk, a day when she asked herself, "Where has this day gone? Any why can't I accomplish anything, except walk around in the ten foot path between the kitchen table and sink?"
I have those mom days too. Days frittered away in a haze of cleaning up the kitchen, begging the boys to pick up the Magna Tiles and then doing it myself, wrestling my Sweet P for diaper changes, settling arguments, preparing meals that I am embarrassed that my kids eat, and, sadly, getting so caught up in trying to create some order around this place that I'm less mom and more worker drudge.
As a mom and an individual, I want to be loving, energetic, fun, creative, attentive and, most of all, present. I'm doing the best I can.
One quality about myself that I have come to appreciate is my hopefulness and my faith in my own ability to grow, change, improve, evolve ... whatever you want to call it. I like thinking about the projects I want to accomplish (Pinterest -- I heart you), the books in my to-read pile, the recipes yet to be tried, the notes to be written, the exercise plans to be implemented, the fun stuff to be experienced and enjoyed with my husband and kids. I wake up many mornings, especially Mondays, thinking maybe this will be the day that I figure out how to do it all. Not sure that day will come and have certainly had many days that end in frustrated, brain dead, semi-exhaustion ...
But I still have hope for what each new day might bring. For what I might bring to that day.
With that in mind, I share with you a few glimpses of a new favorite children's book, one that would, in my opinion, make a better graduation gift than Oh, The Places You'll Go (though, that's a good one). What human being of any age or stage couldn't use a little inspiration regarding the value of a day?
Cynthia Rylant is one of my very favorite children's authors. I've given her book Give Me Grace as a baby gift many times and love reading the the rhyming prayers for each day to my kids.
In addition to Rylant's eloquent and inspiring text, I love Nikki McClure's illustrations in this book, which she created by drawing images on black paper and cutting them out with an X-Acto knife.
I love how simple the palette is: black, yellow, beautiful blue/gray.
I almost get chills here with "A day is all you have to be, it's all you get to keep."
How can you argue with that?
Okay, find a copy of this book so you can enjoy and be inspired by the whole thing. Then, buy some copies for people you love.
And go fill today up with you.

Disclaimer: I checked this book out of my local library. I was not compensated for this post. I will be buying copies of All in a Day as part of new baby gift bundles.

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