Monday, August 24, 2015

Outdoorsy activities for fashion-challenged children

Today in lame parenting news: I signed D up for Beaver Scouts! 

(And yes, I'm mostly learning to not snicker when I say "beaver" because I am a responsible grown-up type.)

I was never in Sparks or Brownies as a kid, and neither was my sister. We have asked our mother about this, and she was no idea why we missed that particular activity. We both attended exactly one meeting each, on Friend Day, and that was it.

Darling Husband, however, had a great experience as a Cub Scout (the next level up, I'm told) and stayed in the program for several years. I asked him about his memories, and he was like "Uh ... we camped in a cabin on the floor, in sleeping bags, and had farting competitions."


(I think that may have been the first time I used the F-word on this blog. I'm sorry, readers.)

But! I think D will really like Beavers. He's going on the same evening as his best friend, because we wanted them to have a special activity together since they will be attending different elementary schools (*sob*). 

I don't know what to expect, other than the fact that he will possibly go on hikes and do crafts and play games? 

Also ... he will look like a total fashion victim, as I've Snapped just about everybody on my list ... 

I don't know what's worse -- the bucket bat, the neckerchief, or the sad little brown vest.

Where's my Bedazzler?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting organized for the new school year

We've got two weeks until D's first day of school, and C will start preschool the following week. HUGE changes for our family, and that means I've got to up my organization game.

Here are a few goals on my mind right now:

  1. Picking up what we need (before the last minute).

    I don't do well at Walmart in the best of situations, but I *really* don't do well in a crowded Walmart. Or mall. Or any store, really. So I've been trying to keep on top of what everyone needs for school before we get too close to D-day. I navigated a surprisingly calm trip to Payless and got them each two pairs of shoes (for $60 total! *heart-eyed emogi*). We still need jeans.

    D picked out a new Ninja Turtles backpack and a thermos, so we just need a water bottle for his desk. C got a new backpack for her birthday, so she's all set. I'm a little sad over the fact that we don't need to buy school supplies -- D's school requires a $30 cheque, and they provide everything. It's good, though, because I'd probably have spent $30 on gel pens alone.

  2. Turning the hall closet into a mudroom.

    This is done, and it's still working out sooooo well. Like, I can't even, you guys.

    You complete me, hooks. 

    Sometimes we get too many bags hanging on the hooks (ahem, my tote bags) but it's an easy fix. The kids are great about putting their shoes and hats in their bins (sometimes the odd dirty sock, too), and it's been a solid solution for our house. Full tutorial here, if you want to make your own. 

  3. Being better about meal-planning and grocery shopping.
    We've dropped the ball this summer, I'll admit. Darling Husband does the grocery shopping and I do most of the cooking (albeit badly), and we've been guilty of quickie meals (ahem, I made fish sticks and Goldfish crackers for SUPPER the other night, I can't even ...) and even quicker grocery runs to "grab a few things" rather than planning a week's worth of meals.

    I wrote out a full week's worth of meals the other day, made up a list (as much as I love making lists, I dislike writing grocery lists for a reason I can't understand), and Darling Husband dutifully went out and bought everything we needed. Now we'll see if I can stick to it.

  4. Finishing (well, starting) a Family Command Centre. 

    If I'm going to stick to a meal plan, I need to see it! Written down! Keeping me accountable! So one of my upcoming DIY projects is going to be a Family Command Centre on our kitchen wall. It's going to have a spot to write out the week's menus, a calendar, a grocery list, and a place for all of those notices and newsletters that are bound to come home from school.

  5. Sewing back-to-school wardrobes. 

    My sewing skills are really picking up, and I've branched out from just making dresses and leggings for C to making shirts for D! He loves it, and I love that he's going to have his own sense of style (well, my style?) in the classroom. I'm also learning that sewing collared shirts take waaaay more time than sewing a simple dress.

    (Sewing friends, I've been making the Anytime at All Tee and the Maxwell Shirt, both from Shwin Designs)
The kids are counting down on paper calendars until their respective big days, and I keep getting panicky/excited flutters for them. Are they ready? Am I ready? Is the house ready? It doesn't matter -- school is coming soon!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Faux flower lamp makeover

When the craft store had a “Grab Bag” sale — $2 for a huge bagful of random craft supplies — I may have let out a little shriek. Two of the bags were overflowing with fake flowers, and I’d been meaning to pick some up for this project. It was crafting kismet!

I’d had this project in the back of my mind for a while now. The idea was to take a bunch of (really ugly) fake flowers and attach them to a lampshade and then to spray the whole thing one solid colour. I had no idea if it would work or not, but I had to try. There aren’t too many good uses for fake flowers in modern decor, so I still haven’t figured out why they’re so expensive most of the time.

I went home with two of the $2 grab bags, bursting with fake flowers, and a can of pale pink spray paint. We had a couple of old lamps I was ready to upgrade, so I grabbed the smallest one and removed the shade.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Easy bento lunches (without buying those crazy-expensive boxes)

A dinosaur-shaped sandwich surrounded by star-shaped pieces of cheese. A container of yogurt dressed up with a few sprinkles. A toothpick skewering little chunks of apples, strawberries and grapes.

There’s something about tiny portions of all different foods that makes lunch SO VERY EXCITING for a little kid.

Bento lunches started in Japan as “visually-appealing meals packed into boxes,” and they’re all the rage in the school cafeteria. You can buy fancy space-age metal or plastic bento boxes with containers that fit neatly inside like puzzle pieces.

Of course, you don’t need to shell out $30 for a real bento box. Personally, I think that’s just asking for OCD frustration -- I’d hulk out when my kids inevitably lost one of the irreplaceable little containers and the box was no longer a complete set.

Continue reading how to make bento lunches on a budget over in my "This DIY House" column in Family Matters magazine.

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