Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stripping the Beds

We are trying to get in the habit of making our beds every morning around here.
And if your brother jumps on your freshly made bed, you just might get a little mad.

When I asked them to strip their beds the other morning so I could wash the sheets, they happily obliged me.
I guess this is why...

I guess an unmade bed is an open invitation to jump from the bed to the pile of comforters on the floor.

I try not to spend my entire mothering years saying "no", so I pull out my camera instead.
And when I protest about jumping on a bare mattress because I don't want it to get dirty, they kindly place a blanket on the mattress for me. 
They had a hey-day in there.  Next time though, I might strip the beds myself and cover the bed nicely with the comforter so no one dares mess up the "made" bed.

And on a little bit of a different note, I absolutely love waterproof mattress pads.  Every bed that belongs to a child 6 or under (including my own bed, since my baby kind of owns it right now) has a waterproof mattress pad on it.  And no, I am not talking about the plastic-y things that crinkle and make you sweat ten-fold.  I'm talking about the $18 padded, cotton, comfortable, completely water proof mattress pad that you can buy at Target. 
Well worth the investment if you ask me.
Because I don't know of anybody who has gotten the pee, puke, or other bodily fluids smell out of a $100+ mattress.
If you have, I might have asked you your secret, but since I've outfitted every bed in the house, I won't be needing it. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day at the Creek

I hadn't realized how long its been since I've pulled out my camera and documented our family life.
I've taken random single shots here and there, but my camera has remained sitting on the desk for the majority of this last month.

That is not okay, I have growing kids!!  I need to capture them today, at this moment.  

Saturday we took a trip down Oak Creek Canyon, in search of some water to cool off in.
And this time, I grabbed my camera.

I never get tired of the beauty of this place.

The water was cold, and oh so refreshing (why, yes, I was the first one to jump in)!
We had a relaxing afternoon, chowing down cherries and snack mix in between dips in the water.

Brant had a hey-day catching dragonflies off of logs, our hats, and our backs.  He learned how to grab them by the wings so he could observe them up close before letting them go.  

Elaina LOVES the water.  She would try squirming out of our arms so she could be all the way in the water. She didn't care that is was cold, and squealed every time I took her out of the creek.

These fish kids of mine are pretty darn cute if you ask me.

We even did a little bit of hiking around, exploring up the creek a ways.  I love how my oldest two are getting so independent.  Before we left, they filled up their backpacks with their own towels, water bottles, hats, water shoes, and even goggles. They were ready for a day at the creek. 
And it made our load to carry that much lighter!

Yes, I do love our family outings.  
Especially when they are my hubby's idea, and he steps up to the plate and then some to make our day.
Daddy's are great.  They can do anything!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Customizing our space


Do you agree?
Our family is close. Both figuratively and literally.
And the trick to putting 7 people in a 1600 sq ft. home is efficient spaces.
..and outdoor living space... and kind neighbors who check the cul-de-sac for biking kids before backing out of their driveways.

We have three boys sharing one bedroom. Obviously we have a bunk bed. As well as another single bed (for some reason, I can't imagine bedtime going smoothly if two boys were to share a bed). We also have a desk and a dresser in there. And because our "family room" is miniscule, the toys are in this room also.

How do I fit it all, you ask?
Well, for a while, I didn't really. I had the toys and one boy's clothes in the closet. Another's were in a dresser. Another's weren't even in this room. Then I got tired of the crammed closet and the mess and decided it was time to do something about it.

Have you ever looked in your closet and realized there is a lot of wasted space? Why do builders put one shelf and dowel bar across the whole length of every single closet in a house anyway? Do they hang all of their clothes?

After coming up with a little drawing, based on this website, I presented Dean with his next project.
Aren't handy hubbies worth their weight in gold!?

He is marvelous! Check out the boy's closet now!

I can fit ALL three boys' clothes plus the toys and craft items.
We used 15" deep shelving from Home Depot, cut down and re-used the dowel bar, and re-used and raised the top shelf. The total cost for this closet was about $150. (I haven't done any painting yet.)

And while our plan was to sell the dresser, I am hanging onto it for now.
Because I like it. And because it looks better than plastic organizers.

I was able to get rid of a cheap little three-drawer cart that held miscellaneous little toys by putting those items in the dresser. Also, each boy has a drawer for their prized possessions (gosh, are my kids the only ones who hang onto tons of junk?).
The kids' piggy banks reside on top of the dresser too. Some day I'll get around to hanging a shelf for them.

In the meantime, I am planning on painting this room a gray color and accenting with navy blue and bright green.

And I'm wondering how soon I can pester my handy, handsome hubby to customize the rest of the closets. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Waving good-bye?

This little girl...

is STILL the boss of this household!
Eight and a half months after her speedy arrival, she continues to rule the roost.
Once she starts hollering, I move into overdrive and finish up as quickly as I can, whether I was setting dinner out or reading bedtime stories to the kids. And once her cries reach a certain decibel, I completely stop what I'm doing to attend to her, which is usually to nurse her to sleep.
I guess you could say that she has me wrapped around her very tiny, chubby little finger.

But that's okay with me, I love her to bits and pieces.

The whole family celebrated once she popped a tooth.  We clapped and cheered once she started to crawl (just last week) and we regularly coo at her to coax out a smile or chase away her frown.

Our latest excitement is over her new "wave".  She holds out her arm and bends her wrist repeatedly in what looks like a wave buh-bye.

I am beginning to wonder, though, if that is what she is really doing.
At this age, babies are developing so quickly, I would love to be able to 'see' the rapid-fire of sensors going off in her brain.

While I will mourn the end of infancy and all the sweet, cuddly moments it means, I marvel at her growth and the new things she has learned to do.
It is at this age as well, around 9 months old, that babies can learn to sign.
You see, I've been signing 'milk' to her right before I nurse her and while I am nursing. I have not been religious about it (though I should be), but have been signing to her sporadically for the last couple weeks.  It was while I sat down to nurse her today, her knowing what was coming and impatient for the snack, that she started doing her little wave.

I am of the opinion that my little queen is starting to connect the dots.

She is starting to play and experiment more with her hands, and I am eager to take off on a signing journey, one that will begin much earlier than my other experiences if we keep this up.

Oh the places you'll go, little Elaina!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Setting Limits

Two things.

First, I welcomed Connor home from camp this evening. He was a few shades browner than when he left home, but came in with a grin on his face and a bounce in his step.
I missed that kid these last four days. But I knew what a special time camp can be and I was so glad he could be there, especially after his return and hearing a little bit about the fun he had. We had a busy evening, and I didn't get any specifics yet, like was he warm enough? and what was his favorite part of camp? but we'll get there.

Second, I am in the middle of a great book, slightly old but helpful nevertheless, called Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. MacKenzie (I highly recommend this book to any parent by the way, not just parents of a stubborn child). It really makes me think about what exactly I am teaching my kids.

I've always thought it counterproductive to holler at your kids to stop hollering, but have probably done it myself, and believe that many parents do not have any idea they are teaching their child the wrong lesson.
"When your words are consistent with your action, your child will begin to tune in to your words and take them seriously" (from MacKenzie's book).

As I've shared before, my middle child is a challenge.
But I've learned a lot of things, especially after starting reading this book.

I've learned that there is nothing wrong with my strong-willed child. There is nothing wrong with me either. The problem lies in matching my parenting methods with my child's temperament. I have a persistent, sensitive, and analytical boy that resists change and tests every boundary multiple times. Basically, he is strong-willed; and raising him is a lot more work than raising my compliant, oldest child.

To quote MacKenzie "children are concrete learners. What they see, hear, touch, and feel determines how they think things really are. Children believe what they experience more than what they are told".

What exactly am I teaching my kids? Am I inadvertently teaching them they can ignore my requests because that is what I let them do? Am I teaching them to holler when they get frustrated and angry?
Am I demonstrating patience and unconditional love?

If only we parents would realize that our words have to match up with our actions, otherwise the words are not even heard! If only every parent would strive to understand their child! If only we would all discipline out of love and respect!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

slipping past me

Today, I sent my oldest son off to youth camp.
I am simultaneously excited for him and nervous .
I had such fond memories of youth camp that I was giddy to send him out the door (certainly more excited than he), confident that he will come to love these camps as much as I did.
At the same time, images of my sweet boy not fitting in or getting lost in the woods are creeping their way forward.
He will be fine.  I know that.  I am just doing my motherly duty - worrying. ;)

Today, (after I had mopped all the floors) Elaina started crawling. On all fours. From one end of the house to the other.
I can't decide if she's going to be a neat freak and only crawl on clean surfaces, or if I have a sixth sense and knew my baby was going to traverse the floors today, which were pathetically filthy. Perhaps I am just flattering myself.
My baby is growing up and it makes me grin from ear to ear.

Today, I looked at my two year old (who actually is a month and a half away from turning three) running around in his skibbies and thought that he was getting kind of skinny.  As in losing his baby chub.  As in becoming a big boy.

Hello?  When has all this time been slipping past me?
It's not like I've been busy or anything.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Play-Doh filled stress relievers

Do you ever have mornings you wish you could just start over?  Or better yet, that you wish your kids ould start over? 

It seems we are having a lot of those lately, caused by late nights, yes, but mornings we have to get through none the less.

With my very stubborn and sometimes quite difficult boys, I am constantly asking myself three questions when they are having a meltdown - are they hungry? are they tired? do they need positive attention from me?

I'm finding that almost always, the answer to one of those questions is "yes!"

While that may help prevent a meltdown, it does nothing to help us get through a meltdown.

Enter Pinterest (gosh, but isn't that site the greatest?)

I have no link to share sorry because I didn't actually pin it. 
We now own a set of Play-Doh filled balloon stress balls.

the cute faces, drawn on with permanent marker, eventually rub off. Darn!
Some live in my purse (for those errand running meltdowns) and some live on the fridge.
They are the perfect size for little hands and are also great boredom busters for travelling and waiting rooms.
I'm hoping they can help us through some rough mornings and other tense moments. Because lets face it, as a mother of five, its not always possible to attend to the needy at the exact moment they need it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Choosing paint colors for your walls

We are working our way through this house with a paintbrush and roller, one room at a time.  Nine months after moving in, I think I dare say that half of our home's interior has been painted. Of course there is paint on all of the walls, but the walls were white and they were scuffed, dirty, and splotched (by what, I have no idea. I don't think I want to know).

Choosing paint colors was not what I expected!  I thought it would be simple - until I started looking at the 1.897 million different colors of paint.  At least it felt like there were that many!

So, while I am by no means an expert, here is what I have learned along the way thus far and what works for me in my room by room conquest:

-When picking a color for a room, look to a rug, curtains, piece of art, or other item you love for inspiration.

My living room wall color came from my rug.

My sitting room wall is still primer white because I have no rug, no curtains, nothing on the walls - basically the room is a blank canvas.  I'm guessing the wall will be pained within a week of finding a rug and/or curtain material. I can't wait to be at that point!

-Paint swatch cards are your friends.

Bring home any that catch your eye. Look at them next to your furniture, current colors, or fixtures. Tape them on the wall. Lay different swatches side by side to compare tones, or to coordinate colors.  
I have a sample card that is the exact color of some swirls in my marble sink.  I was able to choose a cabinet color easily by comparing the sink swatch to various colors out in better lighting.

-Use the sample paint pots, no matter how impatient you are!

They are only $2.94 at Home Depot and $6.24 at Sherwinn Williams (this one is larger, and even comes in a satin finish, perfect for small projects). Paint a section of your wall and look at it in the morning, the middle of the day, and in the evening. Even sunny days versus overcast days can change the look of your painted walls.  
This will save you time and money!!  It took three sample pot tries to get the living wall color right, four tries to get the hall/dining colors. Who wants to paint an entire wall twice, or even more, times?
I made the mistake of buying a whole gallon of red paint (I have no idea what I was thinking. I'll blame it on postpartum hormones) before trying the color on our dining room wall.  Thank goodness I didn't paint the whole wall! Currently, I do not plan to have any red walls in my house, and certainly not the shade of the gallon sitting in the garage.  There went $25 when it could have been $3 if I were only thinking clearly.

-When matching a paint color to a textile item, choose a lighter, more muted version of the color.

Let me explain.
After browsing pinterest, Aubrey and I decided to go with a teal and raspberry color scheme in her room. I bought fabric at Joann's for two twin comforters and decided to pull the wall color from the fabric.
The closest color I could find (because those color matching computers in the store never work) was the bottom color on this paint swatch. I wasn't sure what a "muddier" or more muted version would be, so just brought home a sample pot of the lighter, middle color, called cool jazz.
On the wall it was incredibly bright.  It practically glowed! 
So yes, a color is always more overwhelming once on a whole wall, or four walls.
Back to the drawing board, I chose a color that had more gray in it.  
The middle color of the swatch card on the right, called Tide Pools, is what ended up on Aubrey's walls.  And we love it! It's a calm color, not over-powering or bright at all.

So there you have it, what I've learned about paint in the last nine months through a lot of trial and error.

That being said, I guess it's back to the stack of fabric.  Gosh, does anyone love cutting fabric??
Okay, I have one last tip, though its about quilting, not painting: 
a banana bar or some other yummy treat works wonders on giving you the gumption to attack the stack.

Happy Friday everyone! With any luck, I'll have my entire stack of fabric cut into nice 8 inch blocks come Monday. Thankfully, I have a second rotary cutter blade in my drawer and a plate of banana bars in the fridge.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

sweet spontaneity

Whew, there's a lot of cobwebs on here [swinging my arms to clear them away]. And *cough* the dust! My goodness, I suppose a body could at least come on here and clear the dust away, but *cough, cough* I guess I've been slacking in that department as well. 

Hey, in my own defense, I have to say I've had lots of ideas and blog posts in my head this last month.  
And that is where they have stayed.

So, lest you think I have fallen off the face of cyberspace...

Do you want to know what my daughter said after I snapped this picture?

She said "this is the first time we have gotten ice cream from the ice cream truck!"

I couldn't help but think "is that sad or what?!"

Hooray for spontaneity! Actually, I'd have to say that deciding to buy ice cream from the ice cream truck is more spur of the moment than spontaneous. And it can't really be anything but that, because who wakes up and says "lets go drive around the neighborhood and find the ice cream man so we can buy some treats."

Hooray for sweet treats, sunny breezy days, and green grass!

Here's to hoping our summer break (today is my kids' last day of school) is full of plenty of spur of the moment sweet decisions.

Happy June and start of summer to you!