Sunday, September 16, 2012

Overheard: Weekend edition

RF: Little girls are made of sugar, and spice, and everything nice.
MF: Not me, I'm made of black holes, unending pits of doom and bombs. Cause I'm mean.

Me: I don't know, I'm a little annoyed right now, so we'll see once we get home.
WF: Mom, how can you be annoyed at Meatheads? It is happiness between two buns!

 MF: I don't have an ear infection yet but it's coming. It's like the ear infection train, next stop MF's ear *choo choo*

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Too school for cool

Last year, I spent a lot of time yelling at the kids about all their "stuff" and how they could never find anything and neither could I. Lunch boxes weren't getting washed, forms were getting lost and no one could ever find their jacket as we ran out of the house each morning. In short, it was OBNOXIOUS and I decided I wasn't doing that anymore. I browsed around Pinterest looking for something that would work for us. I found several "command centers" that would work, sort of. Eventually, I cobbled something together which is going to be great. All it took was getting rid of a bunch of stuff and completely re-arranging the garage/family to accommodate it. I hit up Walmart for hooks to hang the coats and back packs on.
They have a ton, ranging from about $5 to over $50! Pick the one you like. Then I picked up some cheap dry erase boards to mount above the hooks. This will let us write down things for each kid, like PE Days (since they change from week to week because of the rotation schedule) so they know when to wear tennis shoes. We can also put things like snack days and field trips so everybody know what is going on.
Then, in my biggest stroke of genius, I bought paper trays to manage all the paper that comes home. Staples sells the kind that are specifically designed to mount to the wall but at $10 a piece, they were out of my budget, since I needed 4. I bought some of the regular desk top kind and convinced RF to make them work. :)
Each kid has one for papers that come home and one for papers to go back. The plan is when they get home, lunch boxes go on the counter by the sink, homework goes on the table. Everything else gets taken to the organization center. Coats and back packs are hung up, and any papers that came home from school that day go in their "from school" tray. Once snacks and homework are done, I can go through their "from school" boxes and sign forms and throw the rest away (Side note, I sure wish we could go paperless but with a low SES school, too many parents don't have access to email so it isn't feasible). Anything that needs to go back gets put in the "to school" box. Each morning, the kids can look in their "to school" box and pick up anything that needs to go back.
You'll note in the picture that no backpacks are hung up there yet. We have them, they are just packed full of school supplies and even though the hooks are in the studs, I'm afraid they are too heavy to hang without pulling them out (they are almost too heavy to lift), so we are waiting until after school starts to get them out there. This should keep things more organized, so stuff isn't getting lost and it puts them in charge of their stuff. I know that it will take some time to get in the habit but once they get it, it should make my life easier, and their's too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Earlier this week, I stumbled on a fab DIY blog where she made a really cool neon bracelet. I'm a fan of anything neon so I figured I needed to make this. It was wrapping thread around a band, it couldn't be that hard, right? Well, the actual construction wasn't hard, but finding the materials proved more difficult that it should have. After visiting 2 of the 3 craft stores in town, plus Walmart, I was still empty handed. Fortunately, I'm married to a genius and he suggested that we stop at Claire's for the cuff at least. I found a couple that were ok but nothing that really grabbed me. Then RF knocked it out of the park again and found these.
Yes, those are giant hoop earrings and they were perfect! I used wire cutters to snip off the posts, so I wasn't stabbing myself all the time.
We went back to Hobby Lobby and looked at several different types of threads. None fo them were quite right. Some were too thin, meaning it would take a million wraps and a ton of thread where others were too thick and scratchy (I can't do scratchy). Then we found this. It is a nylon thread, but it is thicker than regular thread.
I put a dab of Aleene's Tacky Glue on the inside of the hoop and held the thread in it until it dried. Then I wrapped the thread around the hoop. The key is to wrap it tight and pull it so there are no gaps between the wraps. I wrapped it all the way to the end and glued it down. Then I put another small dab over the 4-5 rows at the beginning and the end, just to add some stability to the wraps. Ta-da, fab neon cuff bracelets
And because anything neon needs to ready to wear to the see the Brat Pack, I bought some cheap letter pins and pinned them to the bracelets, to show my BP love!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dumpster Diving

Several weeks ago, we went to a school event at our new building (our school is moving buildings this year while our current building is upgraded and expanded). The school that was in the new building before is getting a brand new building, with all brand new furniture, so they didn't want the stuff that was in this building. Our school didn't really need any of the furniture, since we had our own stuff as well, so the district decided to toss most of it and it happened to be outside, in and around a huge dumpster, the night of our event. Several of us snagged various pieces of furniture, including wooden teacher desks, 6 foot long solid wooden tables, teacher chairs, student desks, bookshelves, etc. I grabbed a small wooden desk, which was pretty beat up. However, it was solid as the day is long and I figured I could refinish it fairly easily, since it was all straight pieces. RF wanted to use it as a game table, but I decided I wanted to use it as a TV table in the living room. Here is the picture before I started working on it. You can see the scratches, gouges, and paint splatters all over it.
I took it all apart and sanded it all down and put poly on it. I don't like painted wood and I'm not a huge fan of stain on wood either, so I kept the natural color and used a clear coat. It was about as easy as I expected it to be, except for the fact that it has been a thousand degrees recently and I wasn't interested in working on it in the heat, so it has just been sitting in the garage. But I've decided to do some redecorating in other parts of the house and it all hinged on getting this table done, so I can repurpose, and get rid of, other furniture. Since the weather was nice on Friday, I hauled everything outside and hit it hard. We bought some new hardware (the bolts were all mis-matched and different sizes) and got it set up this afternoon
We are using the drawer for loose games and things and Xbox and controllers are perfect on the shelf. For a total cost of less than $4, for all new hardware, this is one of my better dumpster diving finds!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nailed it!

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, which is my super favorite holiday! Other than the heat, there is nothing I don't like about this holiday. In that spirit, I decided to rock an awesome 4th of July manicure. Before I start, I should mention that one color and a little glitter is about all I can ever manage and even then I usually make a mess. 3 colors is so far beyond my skill set, it's amazing any of them turned out. I started out by painting my nails with a coat of white. Next I grabbed some painters tape, although the tutorials online say you can use basically any type of tape, from medical to Scotch.
Then, because who wants silly straight lines, I grabbed an old pair of scrapbooking scissors and cut the tape into shapes
Here, make a note, when the tutorial says wait for the first coat to be completely dry, it means it! 100% totally completely dry is a requirement. In fact, if I do something like this again, I would likely do the base coat one day and the tape the next. Once things are completely dry, apply the tape to your nail. Make sure that it goes from the nail bed all the way over the tip. Also make sure that all your edges are sealed tightly, to prevent bleed. Next, I painted one side of the tape with a dark blue and the other side with red. Once that coat of paint was dry, I carefully peeled off the tape and came out with this:
I had several issues with the white peeling off, because it wasn't dry enough when I put the tape on but I was able to touch it up for the most part. I'm hoping it all smoothes out a little bit once I get the clear coat on it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

That seems shady to me

When we bought our house, our main complaint was that there was no shade in the backyard. We have a couple of nice trees out front but just nothing in the back. The yard was part of the appeal of the house and we enjoy having people over and cooking out. For the past two years, we have made do with various umbrellas and portable shade canopies. They all work but none of them were quite what we wanted. I mentioned to RF that I would like a roof over our patio but since we are planning to expand the patio in the next few years, we didn't want anything too permanent (or anything that took up too much space, since the patio is kind of small). One day a few weeks ago, he drove past a house that had used PVC pipes and canvas to make a semi-permanent canopy and we decided it couldn't possibly be that difficult and set about doing it this weekend. We started by getting 3 5 gallon buckets and filling them with 60lb bags of concrete mix. Then we sunk 2" PVC pipes into the wet concrete and set bricks on the top of the bucket to stabilize the poles while the mix set up.
After the mix was set, RF attached the cross pieces across the top with 90 degree elbows and PVC cement.
Then we got 3/4" PVC and cut it to fit our canvas (more on that later). RF drilled holes in the cross pieces and screwed in eyebolts. He did the same to the 3/4" pieces. The eyebolts in the cross pieces were 5/16x4 and into the 3/4" was
Then we attached the 2 pieces together with quick clips. 3/4x80mm
RF drilled above the gutters and attached eyebolts there as well. The eyebolts into the house were 5/16x5
To keep the frame stable, we attached tension ropes to the frame and staked them out in the yard. The weight of the canvas pulls the frame in and the ropes help pull it out and keep things tight.
I can do a lot of things, but sewing is widely outside my skill set, so we called my mom and she brought over her sewing machine and helped us sew rolls in our canvas. As a note on the canvas, you can go to Joanna's and get colored or patterned outdoor canvas. At our local store, it runs about $11 a yard. Or you can go to your local hardware or paint store and pick up canvas drop cloths for around $20 a cloth. We ended up getting 9x12 foot drop cloths because none of the other sizes fit our patio correctly. We did 2 9' panels and cut the excess off the 12' side. My mom sewed a hem on the cut side and then sewed the roll. We went with 4.5 inches, so it was large enough to slide over the eyebolts, instead of having to take them off to slide the fabric on the 3/4" post. We had planned to have 2 eyebolts on each post but because of the size and weight of the canvas, we ended up putting a third one in the center to support the weight.
The final product! Plenty of shade for all of our gatherings!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life is such a chore

The kids have been asking for an allowance or at the very least, a way to make some money. WF had previously had an allowance that was tied to chores (above and beyond the regular things that he has to do as a part of the family), but was having trouble earning it and keeping up on it, so we let it go. I was browsing around the internet and saw some ideas for chore charts that I liked. I decided to make one, with extra chores and price value on each one. Some of them were chore sticks, that you pull out of a jar but I liked the magnetic ones, since our front door is metal and I don't need more stuff to sit somewhere.

I went to Michael's and picked up some large glass rocks (in the floral section) and some large magnets.

Then I took some card stock I had left over from old scrapbooking projects and traced each rock. Something to note on this step is that each rock is shaped slightly differently so each circle needs to be traced individually. When you cut them out, cut very slightly inside the pencil line, so that it doesn't show on magnet. I came up with a list of several chores that the kid could easily do and assigned them a monetary value. The price varied depending on the amount of work required to complete the job or the gross factor of the job. For example, vacuuming the family room is worth $1 because it requires the person to pick up all the toys on the floor and put them away first. Changing the litter box is also $1 because it is gross. I'm pretty cheap when it comes to labor, so make your own call on the values :) After I wrote it, I traced it in black Sharpie and then hot glued it to the flat side of the rock.

After the hot glue was dry, I flipped it over and glued the magnet to the back

Wash, rinse repeat for the other 16 chores I figured out and the kids now have a way to earn money, that they are currently very excited about. I'm not holding my breath on that lasting very long, but for now I have a little cheap labor. :)

Currently, they pull one off the middle and put it on their side to complete (magnetic letters denote whose side is whose). At the end of the day, they get paid for the chores they completed correctly. The operative word being correctly, because no money changes hands for halfway done work. They have to do their "family" chores, stuff like keeping their rooms clean, putting away their laundry, cleaning up after themselves, etc, before they can do the money earning chores. If I do a chore, because it needs done, they lose the chance to that chore until the next time it needs to be done. Some chores need done every day, like the dishes, but some are only once or twice a week, like mopping the bathroom floor.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm so egg-sited!

I've decided I want something on my front door for all the holidays. I didn't really have anything for Easter and the wreath I wanted was almost $20 and we all know I'm far too cheap to pay $20 for a silly decoration! After browsing around Pinterest, I decided that I could totally make my own for cheap.

I started at the I.D.E.A store where I spent no small amount of time digging through a huge barrel of plastic egg halves and matching them up. For my trouble, I got a pound of plastic eggs for $2

Then I went to Michael's and picked up a wreath form and some Easter ribbon. Surprisingly, 3 yards of ribbon was not enough to wrap all the way around the wreath form, so I have to go back tomorrow and get more to finish it off with.

I started off by hot gluing all of the egg halves together, so they wouldn't come apart, once they were on the wreath. Then, I hot glued the first end of the ribbon and then wrapped it tightly all the way around the form, putting a dab of glue on each overlap on the back.

Then I smeared some hot glue on each egg and glued them to the ribbon on the form.

After some discussion, it was decided that more eggs were better, so I added some additional eggs on the inside of the form.

Tomorrow, I'm going to wrap the rest in ribbon and finish gluing on the eggs. Then I'm going to make a loop of ribbon and glue it to the back so I can hang it on my door.

As you can see, I'm very egg-sited to have my Easter wreath nearly done.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Luck of the Irish

Have you seen those cute Easter egg ornaments that they have all over the place right now? I like them and I bought a set, along with the tree to hang them from in the Target dollar section a few weeks ago. I decided that if I had some little shamrock ornaments, I could set the tree out now and have it work for St. Patrick's day and then change them out for Easter. Well, I looked all over for little shamrock ornaments, like my eggs, and couldn't find them anywhere. Being a DIYer, that wasn't really a road block, I just had to find 3D shamrocks and my glue gun and I were good to go!

I found them at Michael's at 40% off

Then I scored green glitter ribbon for $1 I will admit that this wasn't quite what I thought it was. I thought it was green glitter wire, instead of ribbon, but this was great too. I was kind of disappointed that they didn't have any other options (they were all too wide or too Valentine's) but green glitter worked for me :)

Shamrock ornament

Shamrock tree!

It took me about 20 minutes to make 16 of them, although most of the time was spent trying to peel the hot glue strings off my fingers and the shamrocks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Today was my birthday. WF came running into my room and told me I had to get up because he needed me in his room. I asked what was wrong and he told me it was an emergency and I needed to come right now. He seemed a little shifty, so I went to the bathroom first and then joined him in his room. I asked what the emergency was and he yelled "It's a birthday emergency" and gave me jazz hands. Then he presented me with my presents. He got me a card and a small cutting board with a pairing knife. He also made me pumpkin bars with help from my mom. Apparently, they went to Dollar Tree to get me a card and young guy overheard him talking about getting his mom a card. The guy gave him a dollar and told him he also had to get his mom a present! After appropriate thank yous, they spent a long time looking for something that I would like. He eventually settled on the cutting board because I've been complaining that I want a new cutting board for the kitchen. :) On the way home he said "hey, now mom has a knife to cut her pumpkin bars with! Best present ever!" LOL All my presents have been hidden in the house since Tuesday and I had no idea.

RF complained that I don't ever want anything for birthdays so yesterday when my headphones broke, he had a fit when I tried to by myself a new pair. Instead, he went and bought the pair I picked out and had MF give them to me. I got a nice card from work and a raspberry mocha and a cake pop after school :)

But quite possibly the best part of my birthday was the fact that I did absolutely NOTHING after I picked the kids up at school. I bought KFC for dinner, put on my jammies and spent the afternoon/evening sitting in my chair. i didn't have to run anyone anywhere or do much of anything. It was the best night of the week! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's for dinner

I'm really tired of answering the question "What's for dinner?" Even though I make a menu every week, my kids still insist on asking this question a hundred times, each, per day. I decided to take an idea from Pintrest and do something about it. On Pintrest, they took picture frames and made a weekly calendar, that you erase and write in each week to keep your family on track. I use my calendar on my phone so I just wanted menu boards.

First, I went to the dollar store and picked up cheap frames. The hardest part of this whole thing was finding frames I liked and it took some doing.

Then I went to the fabric store and scoured the remnant bin for an acceptable fabric. To do 5 8x10 frames, you need less than a yard, so there is no need to pay full price, unless you just can't find something you like in the remnants. To my great delight, our local fabric store in moving in a few months and have already started putting things on clearance, including 50% off remnants, so I scored a yard of flannel for $1.25! The best fabric for the job is lighter colored, solid or lightly patterned, fairly thin fabric.

RF ripped the tripod off the back of the frames for me, since they were just in the way and then I put them on the fabric and marked for cuts. I cut a little extra, to make sure that it would cover completely.

Then you place your cut fame in the frame and secure the back in place.

Here you can see how the extra fabric I left earlier leave the back looking a little lumpy, so you now you can trim that excess fabric, leaving it a little longer under the tabs that are holding the back in place.

The finished product!

Now you can get out your Command Picture hanging strips and hang your frames up. My frames were very thin, so I ended up cutting my strips in half and using one half on each side, instead of one full one in the middle.

Here they are, after RF took a lot of time measuring and hanging them all up exactly level

This is after I took them down, wrote on them and put them back up.

The best part of using the Command strips, is that I can pull them down to write on them each week instead of having to stand on the table to reach them.

Also, instead of trimming your fabric, you could use a bit of hot glue and tack the fabric to the back of the frame, to keep the excess from being in the way. I don't do well with commitment to decor, so leaving it loose works best for me. This way, I can change out my fabric for different holidays or as the mood stikes me for a change.

This was a pretty easy craft and didn't take a lot of time. Most of the time was spent measuring and hanging the pictures. It was also cheap (which is my favorite kind of craft). $5 on the frames, $1.25 on the fabric and I already had the Command strips and dry erase marker.

Hopefully, this will end the question of what we are having for dinner!

Friday, January 6, 2012

School update

You all know the WF has issues at school. We started talking about getting him real help in the spring but had to wait for school to start again this fall to have the actual meetings and paper signings. Starting in September, he finally started taking a battery of tests every week for math and writing. He also met with the OT several times and was evaluated by the speech path.

We had our IEP meeting yesterday afternoon and what came of it is that he has hyper flexible joints, which is causing some of his motor control issues. He also has low tone and needs core strengthening work. They suggested some kind of focused training program like Tae Kwon do, swimming lessons or gymnastics. I'm on the fence about forcing him to do something he obviously has no interest in, especially something that is going to cost me a fortune. The OT suggested that he needs a desk that allows him to stand and work, since he simply won't sit and ends up laying across the desk or kneeling in his chair and none of that is helping his hand writing.

The speech path said despite observing him in several situations and even trying to induce some stress to trigger his stutter, she was unable to observe any stuttering that impedes communication.

He ended up being labeled as having a specific learning disability, so he will now be getting 60 minutes of individual writing instruction each week. He is also going to start using voice recognition software and dictating all of his writing. Part of his writing instruction will involve learning to edit those dictated documents, since VR doesn't always have any idea what you are saying. We have crossed fingers that since he is using his own laptop (we bought it for him last year when he was supposed to be typing everything but it has spent most of it's time taking up space on his desk), it will actually learn his speech patterns and will get better as he uses it. He will also be allowed to use spell check on those documents, which was something his 504 plan prohibited.

The only thing I was disappointed about was that he isn't getting any accommodations in math. He scored within the normal range on all of his math tests, despite not knowing most of his math facts. He can find the answer but can't spit them out in speedy manner, so he isn't able to pass the timed tests they give. I was hoping for the ability to use a calculator on math work or at a minimum, a times table. Barring that, I was hoping for either additional time on timed tests or and end to those completely. In a couple of years, calculators will be available as a matter of course, so he just needs to hang in there until then.

So although it has taken FOREVER to get to this point (initial evaluations were discussed 2 years ago) I'm pretty happy with the outcome and I'm thrilled with his team. His case worker is super and the whole team is working hard to get him started on the right path.

Right now, he is struggling with the dictation because his VR program is flubbed up. It only picks up about every second or third word, which means A LOT of editing, which he has never really had to do. It feels like once he gets the hang of it, this will be a far better option for him.