Friday, February 5, 2016

Luxur --- ious.

If you can just sing that title to the tune of "Notorious" by Notorious B.I.G., that would be ideal. If only the title would just sing it to you.

We drove to a farther YMCA this morning so the kids could have a little variety by playing at a new kid's area, but mostly for me. I usually use one hour of childcare, giving myself an hour workout and then leaving myself sweaty, smelly and unkept the rest of the day. I get my shower when they go to bed at night.

This time, I indulged in using 1 hour and 35 minutes of kid care so I could run a quick 5k on the treadmill and then relax in the sauna, steam room and hot tub, followed by a shower where I could shave my legs, wash and dry my hair and apply makeup. Just because.

I've been looking forward to this morning all week, and it was totally appropriate it took place on a Friday to cap off the week well.

We first discovered these additional amenities and really fancy locker room when we visited their pool for family swim last weekend and I vowed I'd be back.

We're not planning to keep this membership over the summer, as our main priority in joining was strictly to use the pool with the kids on the cold winter weekends of boredom. That, and we wanted to keep them comfortable in the pool since swim lessons would be an epic disaster with either of them. When spring arrives, we'll switch to our outdoor pool and I'll just run outside. Until then, I'm living it up. Because man... I could totally get used to that sort of morning full of relaxation.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

$10 IKEA Art Transformed

I'm a sucker for the As-Is section at IKEA. I see low tags and great potential. Sometimes it totally pays off, like when we scored that single panel Werna curtain for our bedroom re-do for $10 instead of having to buy the pair at $50. Or the castle tent (BEBOELIG) for $10 from being a floor model. Or the toddler bed (with mattress) that was also a floor model for $60 out the door. Or even the kid's kitchen that retails for $80 that we bought for $30.

We kinda sorta love scoring deals. But you guys knew that. It's just plain fun. 

This was one of the flops though. I saw potential, but this art piece sat in the basement closet for years. In an effort to declutter and sell a bunch of stuff (which was a success!), I uncovered this old piece of framed art. The goal was to take out the old art and replace it. The frame alone was totally worth $10, being quite large. I didn't want the art, though I have nothing personally against seeing the female anatomy. I just don't really want this woman hanging on our walls. 

Benjamin's been begging for projects lately, and I'm trying to use this enthusiasm from my typically art-hating kid to cultivate some learning experiences around here. Plus, it makes for a more exciting week when the kids are engaged and not tearing up the house for no good reason. Winter, hurry the heck up and turn into spring already. 

Before and after of the naked lady transformation right here and now. (Which was super fun googling to find the image because I forgot to take a "before" picture, but then it occurred to me to just look on the back of the frame for the correct IKEA name to put into the google searchbar. Um, right.)

The picture is raised, but stuck to the matting. The white matting is just stapled on the back, so really it's a frame without the backing... not as valuable of a frame. Claire and I picked up two bottles of cheap acrylic paint at Michael's for $.79 each when we went to score that grab bag a couple weeks ago. I chose teal and she chose a wine color. We had the mustard color from a year ago when Benjamin was Daniel Tiger for Halloween and I made him a DT watch to match his outfit.
We have (what seems like an endless supply of) a collection of cheap dollar store painter's tape that I don't recommend ever using to paint a room. Frog tape ALL the way and worth the cost. But for art projects? Yeah, sure. Super easy to peel off because they barely stick anyway. I painted two layers of white acrylic paint over the lovely lady and her black background and then taped away, intentionally creating a heart because I'm always thinking of Andrew and hearts make me think of how much I love him and simultaneously how much I love his brother and sister. The heart was also strategic to cover up the actual heart (and um, breasts) of the former art behind it. My next step was using plastic wrap to cover the matting because I didn't want that ruined during the kid painting session.
We started out organized and while I knew they would probably mix paint, I didn't realize it would become a goal. Dip one, two, three and then paint the art. Okay. So kids always find a way to make it more interesting. I helped a little, but mostly just participating and not trying to improve. B spent the majority of time on the heart and I spent time focusing on mustard because they didn't use much for some reason. 

We replaced some art in our formal living room (turned bounce house/playroom) after selling the furniture in there (should be a post in itself, stay tuned!) to make it a more purposeful and fun space for the kiddos. We even took the mountain goat art from our entryway and shifted art a bit elsewhere to make the spaces work better. 

bounce house deflated, but not the action this room gets... anymore! Boring to BOMB.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

$2 Grab Bag Revealed

In an effort to maintain some frugality, I didn't get crazy when I saw the bin of 25 or so grab bags at Michael's during a $.79 acrylic paint run this morning (in sub zero temps). That Claire is a trooper.

The acrylic paint is to spruce up and repurpose a mistake of a purchase in the As-Is section at IKEA. A little acrylic paint, some painters tape and kiddo help should keep that undesirable and regretful purchase from ending up on the curb for Tuesday's trash pickup.

My method is fairly simple when choosing a grab bag. Simply, peek and prod and try to use my Sherlock Holmes senses to find at least $2 worth of goods I actually would use to justify the purchase. It was mostly of the Christmas variety (makes sense) and there were lots of rolls of mesh fabric to create Christmas wreaths and coffee mugs which will forever and always get a big, huge heck no attached. Seriously, does anyone actually need more coffee mugs?

The one thing I knew was in this bag that I definitely use as a consumer product were a load of muffin liners. I made banana bread muffins for the kiddos for breakfast and then freeze them for easy mornings. I usually pay about $.50-$1 a pop for a 50-count, so getting 4 would make my money back. Obviously I'm blabbing way too much about a $2 investment, but this sort of thing totally geeks me out; stretching two single dollars as far as I can, but then blowing a bunch of cash on a totally overpriced shirt at Anthropologie.

Without further adieu... the moment you've all been waiting for (I'm sure). The reveal of Grab Bag 2016.

Come on... who is excited? Oh, just me? Hah!
The loot!
13 bags of cupcake liners (50ct!), 36 holiday party picks and some sticky holiday flowers
112 wine bottle tags (that's a lot of pinot!), 6 small burlap drawstring bags and 117 gift tags (closeup middle).
650 muffin liners should have me set for awhile. 
Verdict: My detective skills didn't even sniff out scoring THIRTEEN packs of those muffin liners! Those alone definitely made the grab worth it, as it values them at just under $.16 each. I definitely spend more near the buck range on these when I need them, so yup. Pretty thrilled.

Anyone else hit up Michael's for a Grab Bag recently? I think it might actually make me more crafty with these little gambles. I also posted about my 2014 grab when ironically, I went to buy two bottles of the same brand of acrylic paint (different colors, different project slated to tackle) and was suckered in to buying FOUR of those babies. And when Benjamin requested to work on "an activity" this morning, I broke into those miscellaneous supplies of crafty ...ehm... crap and pulled out the perfect mosaic activity for Benjamin and Claire to work on while I prepared the lunch they didn't want. As moms do, right? Oh, just me? Yeah, probably that too. ::insert side-eyed emoji with smirk here::

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Claire is Two!

Our sweet little chicken (nickname because, short, erratic hair) is now officially 2.


This absolutely delightful little miss has changed our lives in so many ways. When brother is high strung, she is calming. When things are hard, she hugs harder. When something exciting is happening, she's laughing and smiling from ear to ear. She eats actual food. Gasp. She senses our needs and is full of love and comfort. She's the best at hide and seek, has herself a mean sweet tooth and knocks out fine motor activities like a boss. She loves to be with her people, no matter what we are doing.

She cuddles up to her brother, even when he's pushing her away. She calms him like no one else can.


She can count to 11 all on her own, knows the entire ABC song and is ridiculously adorable singing the ending part.

She still sleeps in a crib because she loves the security and comfort, but it's probably her mom's decision most because I don't feel like locking another kid in their room at night. She naps, but can skip that nap and rally like a champ. She doesn't want to miss life.

Baby dolls are her favorite. She totes around a small baby and a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal most places and defends them with intense screaming.

She hugs with her entire body. Her very favorite word is "hugs" and when she says it, she usually fully envelops her body within your arms and must have her head rested on yours with her hands tucked inward.

She's terrified of all characters, both real and fiction, despite having been to both Disneyworld and Disneyland in her first 24 months of life. Strangers take a bit to warm up to, as she reminded her doctor this morning for her perfect 26th percentile checkup. "All done." "No more doctors." "Doctor ouchie." "Mama hug." That intense grip she had on my arm at the doctor this morning is similar to the grip she had on her Gawbee and Grandpa when meeting Minnie, Mickey and the princesses at Disney last week.

She loves the gym daycare dropoff, children's museum and only tolerates our interest to water exposure about 2-3x each week. And baths are just the worst thing about bedtime for her.

She's just the most wonderful last child we could've ever imagined. Smart, considerate, loving, fun. The insanity of her high risk pregnancy was worth every single bit to have her here with us, enriching our lives.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I Want Mommy to Do It

Words I'm hearing a lot lately.

No matter who is around, he wants me. And sister is starting to follow down this (frustrating) path.

We were lucky enough to have the Maryland grandparents visit a week ago. We were able to have some freedom and also lots of time to catch up and indulge Benjamin and Claire in nonstop attention for a few days. Gramie and Grandpa went home quite exhausted. But when a tantrum is on the horizon, the words start coming.

"NO. I want Mommy to do it."

No one else will do. Even when there are 4 adults around to help. We visited the Field Museum downtown one day and as we were finishing up our last exhibit, the exhaustion and frustration started to rise in his little body. When this happens, clothes usually come off (lately... somehow these tantrums have evolved over time). Socks and shoes are first to go and then the rest. We try to avoid a fully nude episode in public though, of course.

This time, socks came off and Gramie helped put them back on.

Pulled back off because... you guessed it. Mommy wasn't the one who put them on. And Mr. Bossypants thinks he can choose who helps put things on, including things he is fully capable of handling on his own. Like socks.

On principle, I refused. It was like 20 degrees outside and we walked carrying the angry child about 1/2 mile to the car without a sock or shoes on.

I could've just done it. The problem is, he wins. And while I'm cool letting him win sometimes (and often as long as our needs are both met-- like getting ready for school), I don't want the precedent to be set that he is always in control (particularly about things that are simple and stupid!) and affect us as he ages. It's simply unacceptable to raise him to be the bratty teenager and entitled adult. I refuse to allow that. There's no denying he was born with the tenacity he has, but it's how to break this behavior before it affects him in his life, career, relationships.

He proceeded to scream the majority of the way home and peed himself in the process. This has now happened 3 times since (during tantrums). Twice it appeared he intentionally did it (as he was naked and I watched!) and twice I'm unsure. He's been potty trained for a year, including nights. I can count on one hand how many times he's peed the bed, so this is truly confusing to me. He's been throwing tantrums of large magnitude for 1.5 years and now he's peeing himself as he does it? Is he doing so because he's trying to punish us, knowing that would require us to do lots of cleaning?

Yesterday, the trigger was set because I wouldn't put on his Crocs for him. Out of the blue, he requested I do it, despite him turning 4 next month and having been putting these exact Crocs on himself for about 1.5 years. This ridiculous and unnecessary episode resulted in me taking Claire to the children's museum solo, him peeing his carseat, and Dad spending that time doing a load of laundry and cleaning that carseat.

Sister is seeing this behavior and now I'm the chosen one to brush her teeth and put her down for nap and (insert the activity here). It has this mama feeling exhausted.

His Gramie said it best when she mentioned that he's a really awesome kid about 90% of the time. It's that 10%. Oh, that 10%.