It snowed this past weekend and while there wasn't enough snow to call for a snowday, even if there had been school this week, it was still the first real snow of the season - and my oldest loves loves loves to wear his boots so he was extra happy. The younger ones are just as happy to stay in warm living room with me and drink hot cocoa. They also love projects and this one was so simple, I loved it too.
My first grader came home with it from art class the other day, and the concept is quite smart and at the same time, easy enough for six year old fingers to handle. Younger kids shouldn't have too much trouble either.
I love simple and easy, especially simple and easy made with things we already have around the house.
The kids started with large pieces of black construction paper. They each used white chalk to draw a snowman or winter scene on a regular sized piece of blue construction paper; I'm guessing blue because the sky is blue. The blue sheet was glued onto the black sheet, slightly off center. Then a 3/4" inch strip was cut from one long side and one short side of the black construction paper and crisscrossed on top of the blue paper to form a window pane. Staples and or glue were used to put it all together.
Looked at from afar, it really looks like you are looking out of a window and seeing a snowman. Very cool.
Have you ever played The Veggie Stick Game? We play it all the time.
But first, do you know what Veggie Sticks are? Technically they're called Veggie Straws
, but for some reason we call them sticks, not sure why. Anyway, these Veggie Straws
are, according to the Sensible Portions website, "a light and airy treat built for the seasoned snacker".
Really, they're yummy and crunchy little sticks that dissolve in your mouth in such a way that I was comfortable giving them to the kids when they were really little, like less than a year old. They also come in three flavors, all mixed in one bag - potato, spinach and tomato. Don't get too excited, a bag of these will not bring you anywhere close to being able to check off a daily serving of vegetables but they're a good little snack and the kids all like them.
Like I said before, they come in three colors or flavors, all in one bag - yellow, green and orange.
The rules of the game:
1. Close your eyes and open your mouth. (Not necessarily something I advocate but you're hopefully playing this game with loved ones, so I think you're okay here.)
2. Have another player put a Veggie Straw in your mouth.
3. Chew and swallow.
4. Guess the flavor Veggie Straw that you just ate.
Can't do it? Me either. I have never once guessed right. But the rest of the family - the kids and Josh - plus all the friends we've played this with all guess correctly. Apparently there is a distinct flavor between all the different straws. For me, not so much. They all taste exactly the same. But everyone else loves the game.
You can play this the next time you don't feel like standing up and walking over to the game closet to get the Candyland for another rousing round of "you cheated, you picked two cards! No, it's not your turn, it's mine!". Sometimes, putting food in the kids' mouths is a much easier idea.
As part of my Happiness Project
, I have been trying to break down big goals (declutter house) into teeny tiny little goals (clean out a drawer). And so far it seems to be working. The high I got from cleaning out these two kitchen drawers was well, pretty high, I must say. I immediately felt calmer when I was done, and every time I need to get something from either of these drawers, I smile. And I use these drawers all the time. You see, these two drawers are also known as the junk drawers in the kitchen. You know you have one, it's okay. We all do. I just had two.
I knew they were a mess but I let them be until one afternoon. I had just closed one drawer when I heard a huge crash of what sounded like pots and pans and breakable Pyrex dishes. I couldn't understand what had happened, there were no pots and pans in my little overstuffed drawer. I opened the cabinets beneath my overstuffed drawers and there it was. The contents of my overstuffed drawer had overflowed its boundaries and had poured out into the cabinet below. My slamming the drawer seems to have caused an avalanche of stuff, which in turn caused the drawer stuff to topple over an entire shelf of pots and pans. And time for a mini-goal it was.
This is what my drawers looked like before.
I purged, I sorted, I put things where they actually belonged. Then I tried out every pen in the drawer to see if it actually worked.
Then I put back each item that was allowed to live in these drawers. I feel like I need to hit The Container Store for some drawer dividing items. Well, not really The Container Store, but some cheaper priced store that sells the same items.
Here are my after-drawers.
This took fifteen minutes of my time. Imagine. And it used to take me at least five minutes to find something specific in these drawers. Oh Happiness Project, I'm so happy already!
It's not totally done, but it's done enough to share.
The walls are painted.
The carpet tiles are down.
The furniture has been moved into the for-now places.
And we even took a trip? adventure? to Ikea on Friday to pick up a storage unit for the toys. Bought and built in an afternoon. Amazing.
Here are some pictures. I will add some more as more work/decorating is done.
As a reminder, here is a before picture of my basement. Pure wasted space.
Bear in mind that we still have some lighting issues down there and so the quality of pictures leave something to be desired, but here's an after:
Ignore, if you will, the laundry drying on the stairs gate. This is a picture of half the basement, I couldn't get it all into one shot.
My checkerboard carpet. Kind of like a checkerboard cake.
My new couch pillow. It makes me happy.
My Ikea storage unit. And a small Ikea toybox next to it.
All the little hands that helped build the new toy storage unit.
And because I know there are some people keeping count, my total expenditure so far for the basement has been $431.
Primer/paint and brushes and stuff: $61
Carpet tiles: $294 (99cents a square foot. You can't really beat that.)
Toy storage: $76 (The unit with the bins above and a toy box.)
Pillow: $0 (my dad bought it for me, but it was really on sale in Bed Bath and Beyond for only $10!)
My time spent: about 14 hours so far, spread out over about 2 weeks, maybe a little less.
If we had hired someone to do the painting and carpet tiles, this would have already run us a minimum of $1000 before materials. All I can say right now is go me!
I've been working on the basement these past few days so I haven't been
here. But then I just had to share last night's dinner. I don't know why I never
thought of this before. And all four kids ate it. Miracles do come true.
This is the last thing I'd ever thought my kids would eat, possibly because
it grosses me out. Hot Tuna. With an emphasis on both t's and you'll
understand. Or maybe not, maybe you love Hot Tuna. But it doesn't do a thing for
me. For my kids though, these Tuna Melts are heaven. And also, the easiest
Lay out two slices of bread - preferably on a paper towel - so you don't
have to dirty an extra plate. Put some tuna fish (already drained, mashed and
mixed with a little mayo or whatever you mix into your tuna) on each slice of
bread. Top each piece with a slice of yellow American cheese (please don't judge
me). You can also use whatever cheese you like, I won't tell. Place the bread in
the toaster oven (or in the oven if you are making many sandwiches) and toast
until the cheese just melts. Remove from the toaster oven and turn one piece of
bread over onto the other, making a sandwich, or as my 5 year old explained,
make it so it's bread, tuna, cheese, cheese, tuna and bread. No
Serve on paper towels or on a plate, depending on your mood. I did plates
last night but only because there were already other dishes to wash.
Happy Easy Supper!
The past couple of days were biggies in a world where basements morph into
Tuesday morning I cleaned the floor, scrubbed like I've never done before.
If nothing else, it was a calorie burner.
And yesterday morning was the whole point of everything I've done so far; I
The baby and I went to Home Depot on Tuesday afternoon to buy some no VOC
and odorless paint. Home Depot didn't have any, they just don't carry any paint
that is not-bad for the environment. No really, that's what the guy in the paint
department told me.
Me: Do you have no-VOC paint?
Paint Guy: Nope, we don't carry that good-for-you-stuff.
Me: Okay then.
At least he had the decency to not point out that I had a granola
bar stuck to my skirt as I paraded around the store.
So then off to Lowe's we went. And Lowe's carries a huge assortment of
those good-for-you paints. After much deliberation (me) and ripping of those
little and thankfully free paint cards (baby), we chose a color. It looked like
a light green to me, the kitchen area in the basement has some green in it so in
theory it should all blend together.
Wednesday was painting day and a totally spontaneous one at that. I had
been planning to paint at night after the kids were in bed, but some days you
just have it all together, you know? So when the baby went down for her nap, I
ran down to the basement and painted for an hour straight. And when I looked up
after those 60 minutes (I knew it was an hour because I had thrown a load into
the dryer and set the timer. I am nothing if not a multi-tasker), I was done.
All the walls were now green. When wet they kind of looked like a pukey green
and I was kind of nauseous myself. But now that's it's dry, it looks much
better, more like a seafoam green or pistachio. I am not sure I would pick this
color again for anything, ever, but it's fine for this project.
And the baby cooperated too. She woke up as soon as I finished washing the
And then last night Josh was kind enough to move all the furniture that had
been sitting in the center of the room so we'd (I'd) be ready to go when the
carpet tiles came. I really had no idea where he was going to put everything,
especially the couch. This is what he did:
I have no clue how he got it up there or how he will get it down. But that's his
project. I have enough projects of my own right now.
Today my helper and I went down to clean up a little more.
Is my Happiness Project working? I think so. I am definitely happy that I
am done painting. Let's see how happy I am when the carpet comes.
Who knew diaper rashes were so interesting?
We have been dealing with a particularly insidious diaper rash for a
few days now. To combat it, we have been using Triple Paste, an over the counter
medicine that I have found to wipe out (no pun intended) every diaper rash since
baby #1. But this time it wasn't doing the trick. I posted this as my Facebook
status the other day: "Anyone know what's stronger than Triple Paste for a
diaper rash? We need help."
And pretty soon, there were about 25 comments, ranging from "go to
the doctor" to "let them run around naked". All good ideas, but since we have
run this baby race four times already, these were things we already knew. And
then came Josh's friend, Josh. Josh has many friends named Josh. Anyway, his
Maalox? I wasn't really sure I understood what he meant. Do we give
some to the baby? Put some on the rash? Do I take some? And how did he know that
this whole diaper rash was giving me heartburn? After a quick phone consultation
with Josh (the friend, not the hubby), I was made to understand that Maalox is
used much as one would use Desitin or Balmex, except that because it is a
liquid, you just kind of dab a small amount over the rash. Friend Josh also pointed out
that the flavored kind lends a nice scent to the whole process.
We had wild berry flavored so we went with that.
We tried it and shockingly, it worked. Half the rash was gone an hour later.
A few tiny Maalox hits during the day and we are almost rash free.
You gotta love it.
Continuing on our merry way with my totally unprofessional rebranding of
our basement into a playroom, I present, phase two - the taping off of the walls
and ceilings with the blue painter's tape.
Blue Painter's Tape. Just rolls off your tongue. At least now it does. About an hour ago, it
wasn't coming that easily. If fact, I think the taping of the room was more
difficult than the priming of the room. I don't remember the last time I had to
hold my arms over my head for such a long period of time. I really must start
Anywho, here are some fascinating pictures of the blue painter's tape
sitting, for the most part, right where the wall meets the ceiling.
And, and for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the paint tray and
brush that I used last night, now all dried out. I knew I forgot to go back
downstairs for something. Oh well.
Next Up - tomorrow night: the amazingness that is the cleaning of the basement
floors. I know, I know, you're waiting with baited breath. But don't. You might
pass out before I get down there. Especially because my Swiffer broke the other
day. I'm pretty sure this is going to be me, my knees, some paper towels and a
bottle of Fantastik.
Oh, Happiness Project
, are we happy yet?
Wow, it's been a bunch of days since I've been here. The girls and I have
had extra bad colds, the kind where no one goes to school, no one does any
laundry and everyone is too kvetchy to even take a nap.
Thankfully, the tissue avalanche has come to an (almost) end, the three
year old is back in her beloved nursery classroom and the baby is, if not off my
lap for an entire minute, at least not hanging from my neck and crying "stand
up, stand up" because she's only happy when one of stands and holds her.
So what would you do after finally seeing there might be a light at the end
of the Bad Cold Tunnel? Take a shower? Sit and look at a wall? Maybe make a cup
of hot chocolate and not share it? All good ideas. Not me. I mean, I did have a
hot chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. No, what did I do? Last night,
I painted the basement. Well, really, I primed it, with my new love, Odorless
Kilz White Primer.
After spending the entire week with two of the kids on the couch,
surrounded by tissues and toys that have been Lysoled, I realized that even
though I really don't want to throw any money into making a basement playroom,
especially in a basement that is somewhat prone to flooding when it rains, I
realized that I have no choice. So I am going to do this as efficiently, as
quickly and as inexpensively (read: on the cheapo scale) as possible. And I know
myself, if I think too much, nothing gets done so I'm just going to jump in and do it.
And this is how I came to be standing in the basement at 9:30pm on a Sunday
wearing and an old and ripped t-shirt and Josh's old sweatpants that have lost
all the elastic - have you ever tried to paint while holding your pants up? -
looking at the newly primed walls of my basement. It looks better already.
I wanted to show you what the basement looked like before, but I forgot to take a picture.
Sadly, this is what the basement looks like after it's been cleaned up and after we threw
out bags and bags of stuff and moved everything to the middle of the room.
I'd show you a picture of the primed walls, but they're still white, so
that would be silly.
But I will update you as the project continues.
And how does this relate to my Happiness Project
had decided to start thinking about? The first chapter of that book talks about
creating energy in your life, and doing that by releasing things that are
bogging you down and making you drag your feet everyday. And clutter is at the
top of my list. And if the consequence of cleaning out the basement is having to
paint it, so be it. It's worth it. So far. I haven't had to fight with that roll
of blue painter's tape yet.
Wow, first post of 2012. I had intended to post a follow-up to the purging of the playroom on January 1st but things got in the way. The long weekend full of seeing old friends and rearranging some furniture has morphed into an even looongger week full of sickie kids with colds. And now I have one.
And this is how you know there is a cold circulating in our house.
The Tissue Bag.
A lovely Shoprite bag where everyone is encouraged to throw their dirty tissues.
Because the floor is not a garbage can. (Words to live by.)
That, and a bottle of Purel hanging around.
I hope to be back soon with germ-free kids.