Mother’s Day Giveaway Extravaganza!

I am beyond excited to share with you The Whatever Mom’s VERY FIRST Giveaway! In honor of Mother’s Day there will be FOUR lucky winners of some really amazing prizes!

To enter simply sign up to follow my blog and like and share my Facebook posts about the contest! Winners announced on Tuesday May 6th!  That’s only 5 days away- better get to sharing!

Here’s what you could win:

arrival giveaway 2Arrival giveaway

A children’s book and coloring book set! The Toddler Room “Arrival” written by Hudson Valley author Jodi Lobdell Bulson, tells the story of a little boy’s journey to day care. This set is prefect not only for teachers and daycare providers, but also for parents of young children and for children starting a day care routine for the first time. Jodi holds an associate’s degree in early elementary education and now owns and operates a day care in her home.

bucci giveaway

A specially designed pair of  earrings from Bucci Handmade Jewelry! These brass and copper earrings are nickle and lead free. Karen Bucci began making hand crafted jewelry from her home in Saugerties, NY in 2008. She is passionate about creating unique pieces that allow women to express themselves and is very selective about the materials used in her original designs.

HVSC giveaway

A gift basket of extremely natural Hudson Valley Skin Care products!  Glenn and Cathie Arpino, owners of Hudson Valley Skin Care, hand make fresh, small batches of product right here in the Hudson Valley. They include local ingredients into their products as often as possible. This is perfect for yourself, or any mom in need of pampering! (Products in photo do no to represent products in gift basket).

And, the grand prize is:

Union-Health-Wellness-150-2 giveawaygreat_expectings giveaway

A FREE consultation and ONE MONTH of Health coaching with Holly Walsh! Holly is a certified Health and Wellness coach and owner of Union Health and Wellness LLC.  She is committed to helping people find a balanced nutritional path! Plus a FREE consultation and ONE MONTH fitness follow up with Christine McCracken owner of Great Expectings.  Christine specializes in helping moms get fit with or without a gym membership, and getting in shape before, during and after pregnancy. Who couldn’t use a total health makeover?

(Both Holly and Christine offer their services via telephone for convenience).

CONTEST RULES:

Must be 18 or older to win.

Do not need to be a mom to enter- all prizes are great gifts for anyone’s mom!

Must register as a follower of The Whatever Mom, or Like and Share The Whatever Mom’s Facebook posts about this contest.

Winner will be selected at random by midnight on Monday May 5th and announced on Tuesday May 6th.

One winner per prize item.

Happy sharing and good luck! 

*This giveaway is now CLOSED*

Spring Clean Your Look

Anyone else hear about this new fad called “spring cleaning?” It’s where you clean stuff simply because the season has changed?  It’s all the rage in my house right now. We are pulling apart closets and cleaning in corners we didn’t even know we had. It all started because I was tired of my ugly wardrobe. I don’t know about you but I am kind of over selecting outfits based on their ability to camouflage snot stains and glitter.

Before kids if something didn’t fit I would just go buy something new. I didn’t worry about labels like, “machine washable,” or “dry clean only.”  I had plenty of stylish clothing to wear to work, out with friends and while lounging at home. Now, I can barely tell those outfits apart. So, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe.

I started by thinning out the clothes I could no longer wear based on size, location of stains and tatters. This left me with a sparse amount to work with, but I’m a creative mom! I can make toddlers believe terrible things will happen if they don’t eat their peas!

Next, I coordinated a few outfits to have at the ready for moments beyond the standard issue mom uniform (t-shirt, jeans and sneakers).  I waste so much time over thinking and rethinking an outfit before leaving the house. Having outfits I can just grab and go saves me from all that!

 

My sparse, but clean ensembles
My sparse, but clean ensembles

I layered accessories right on the hanger so I have a complete outfit.

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit
Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

When I finished, I realized my makeup bag could use a little rehab. I have some “vintage” pieces in there it was time to let go of.  I don’t have a lot of time for make-up, but there are days I want a casual look. My new dash out the door (can’t tell I didn’t sleep a wink) look consists of a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, cream eye shadow I smear on with my finger, mascara and lip balm. Kiss My Face Lip TreatMint is  the only lip balm I wear ever ! Feels great and the SPF covers me for play dates at the park!

Streamlined make up routine
Streamlined make up routine

After I cleaned everything up I realized my nails looked shabby too. It seems the mani/pedi is the first thing to get the boot when moms go on a budget. A friend of mine shared her secret for a one minute manicure- press on nails. I know sounds really tacky (no pun intended). But, not only did my husband think I spent big bucks on a manicure, I also got a lot of compliments from friends and strangers. These are great for date night, mom’s night, grocery shopping, or whatever. I don’t have to find time to get out to the salon. No dry time! No smudging!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!
Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Three and a half years into the mom gig and I realize how easy it is to get sucked into a wardrobe rut. It’s sad how little I’ve invested in my appearance due to time and feeling overwhelmed. Now I have a simple, clean wardrobe to select from and I gain a few extra minutes in my day with a simplified routine.

What does your mom routine look like? What are some tips for keeping your wardrobe current?

 

 

A Funny Bunny Photo Booth

Our sunny funny photo booth
Our sunny funny photo booth

I wanted to do something really fun for the girls Easter pics this year. Short on time and money for a professional photographer, I decided to create my own funny bunny photo booth. But once I made the booth it was too cute to keep to ourselves. So, we invited a few friends for an impromptu bunny bash. Luckily, my very awesome (and talented) friend Danielle brought her fancy camera along to get some great pics of our little party goers.  A total bonus!

Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney
Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney

I selected a fun background to give our photo booth a casual feel. I used a chevron designed wrapping paper taped to an extra piece of paneling we had lying around. You could tape it to your wall, but hanging the paper on the wall is a two person job and I am a one mom operation. Using the panel was easier and allowed me to hide the back drop so I could surprise the girls in the a.m.

Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place
Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place

I strung a line of foam shaped chicks across the patterned paper. I simply taped some twine to the back of each chick. You could easily skip the paper and just hang a string of fun themed shapes to a clean colorful wall inside your home. Or, move outside and hang the shapes along a fence, around a tree, or on the side of your house.

Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland
Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland

This time of year you can find bunny ears at every dollar store- a must have for a funny bunny photo booth!

Bunny ears from Target
Bunny ears from Target

To make a bunny face I used a wooden mustache prop I found at Michael’s.  I added a fuzzy pom-pom nose and some colorful pipe cleaner whiskers for a touch of whimsy. I tried to use Elmer’s glue, but the hot glue gun worked the best.  Of course I had to add in some recognizable bunny teeth. I used white craft foam with adhesive backing and attached directly to the mustache.

Easy to make props
Easy to make props

I situated our photo booth in the sunniest spot of our house. Natural lighting makes for the best photos! Then, we handed the kids the props and let them have fun! I wasn’t worried about them posing angelically; I was just shooting for nobody crying. My goal was to make some fun memories with our friends. Mission accomplished! How cute are these kids?

Friends posing as bunnies
Friends posing as bunnies
Bunny buddy
Bunny buddy
Little bunny
Little bunny

For less than $10 I now have some fun pics to commemorate our Easter holiday. I can print as many photos as I’d like and email copies to distant relatives (thank you Danielle!).

A themed photo booth is a great alternative for kids who are afraid of the Easter bunny, or maybe too little to meet the EB yet. It’s also an easy, affordable, fun activity to do for birthday parties, play dates, or holidays. Just change up your props!

 

Have you taken your own kid pics at home? What do you do to make it fun?

Gratitude

Cheers to my readers!
Cheers to my readers!

Just a quick post to say thank you to everyone for supporting my blogging efforts! I truly appreciate that you take the time to comment, like and share my posts. It was your support that gave me the courage to start this blog in the first place. THANK YOU!

I am also very thankful my blog was picked up early by a local magazine, Hudson Valley Parent. If you are already following The Whatever Mom blog  you should receive an email every time I post a new entry. If you are not already following me here, please do!!

Get additional pics and updates on The Whatever Mom Facebook page! I will share my Hudson Valley Parent posts on all my Facebook pages!

If this is your first visit to my page- thank you for stopping by! You are welcome to join the party and get weekly updates. Simply click the small gray follow button in the low right hand corner and follow the instructions. To find out more about The Whatever Mom check the about me section.

Please feel free to comment below, or contact me via Facebook with craft ideas and questions!

Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart! Cheers!

How not to host a glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.

Bucket of glowing eggs
Bucket of glowing eggs

I was prepared to write a whole fluffy craft piece about how to host your own glow in the dark egg hunt. I realized it is more important to share what happened behind the scenes during party prep.

Being a “whatever” mom is new to me. I am by nature a high strung personality. I like things to go my way, as planned. I had several plans for this night. It was going to be epic! Not only did I plan on glowing eggs but glowing treats too. I planned for glowing Jello and glowing frosted cookies accompanied by glowing Sippy cups of milk. My kids would ooh and ah over the spectacle. My husband would think, “Wow my wife is so talented!”

Tonic water farse
Tonic water farce

Turns out, the science guy on goscience.com is liar. Tonic water does NOT phosphoresce under a black light (at least not the bottle I purchased). I was more than a little disappointed when the Jello did not glow. That meant my frosting would not glow either. I shouted a bristly, “Whatever!” through gritted teeth and tried to move on. But, I carried that disappointment with me. I attempted a little razzle dazzle with glowing Sippy cups. Not what I imagined. It seemed so much simpler in my head. I thought, “OK, there’s still time to salvage this party. I’ll start filling the eggs early.”

Glowing sippy cup
Glow Sippy gone sideways

Now, all you need to make glow in the dark eggs, is a twisted up glow bracelet placed inside a plastic egg. You can get plastic eggs and glow bracelets at your favorite dollar store.

Twisted glow bracelet
Twisted glow bracelet of doom

I couldn’t bend the bracelets small enough so I enlisted my husband to help. He tied them into a small pretzel shape and jammed them into the eggs. He only broke open six bracelets- releasing glowing ooze (Supposedly “non-toxic.” We’ll know more if he starts growing appendages). I was so disappointed that nothing was working according to my plan. This night did not look anything like I had envisioned. I was about to throw in the towel and call this idea of mine an epic fail. Then, I heard giggles and little voices squeaking with delight. My girls had picked up a pile of the glowing sticks and began running through the basement playing their own games. They used them to cast magic spells and send each other signals- all the while oblivious to the frustration building inside moms head. Suddenly it hit me, I didn’t need to get so worked up about what was going wrong. I simply needed to enjoy what was going right.

Actual glow egg
Actual glow egg

As soon as I let go and said, “whatever” (for real this time) the party turned out pretty perfect. My girls had so much fun hunting for glowing eggs, they didn’t even think to open them to look for treats. They took turns hiding eggs for each other and even cheered each other on. We had a lot of laughs and it was a total blast.

Learning to let go of perfection and the stress it creates in my parenting – that is what being a “Whatever” mom is all about.

Eggs on parade
Eggs on parade

 

How not to host a glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.

Bucket of glowing eggs
Bucket of glowing eggs

I was prepared to write a whole fluffy craft piece about how to host your own glow in the dark egg hunt. I realized it is more important to share what happened behind the scenes during party prep.

Being a “whatever” mom is new to me. I am by nature a high strung personality. I like things to go my way, as planned. I had several plans for this night. It was going to be epic! Not only did I plan on glowing eggs but glowing treats too. I planned for glowing Jello and glowing frosted cookies accompanied by glowing Sippy cups of milk. My kids would ooh and ah over the spectacle. My husband would think, “Wow my wife is so talented!”

Tonic water farse
Tonic water farce

Turns out, the science guy on goscience.com is liar. Tonic water does NOT phosphoresce under a black light (at least not the bottle I purchased). I was more than a little disappointed when the Jello did not glow. That meant my frosting would not glow either. I shouted a bristly, “Whatever!” through gritted teeth and tried to move on. But, I carried that disappointment with me. I attempted a little razzle dazzle with glowing Sippy cups. Not what I imagined. It seemed so much simpler in my head. I thought, “OK, there’s still time to salvage this party. I’ll start filling the eggs early.”

Glowing sippy cup
Glow Sippy gone sideways

Now, all you need to make glow in the dark eggs, is a twisted up glow bracelet placed inside a plastic egg. You can get plastic eggs and glow bracelets at your favorite dollar store.

Twisted glow bracelet
Twisted glow bracelet of doom

I couldn’t bend the bracelets small enough so I enlisted my husband to help. He tied them into a small pretzel shape and jammed them into the eggs. He only broke open six bracelets- releasing glowing ooze (Supposedly “non-toxic.” We’ll know more if he starts growing appendages). I was so disappointed that nothing was working according to my plan. This night did not look anything like I had envisioned. I was about to throw in the towel and call this idea of mine an epic fail. Then, I heard giggles and little voices squeaking with delight. My girls had picked up a pile of the glowing sticks and began running through the basement playing their own games. They used them to cast magic spells and send each other signals- all the while oblivious to the frustration building inside moms head. Suddenly it hit me, I didn’t need to get so worked up about what was going wrong. I simply needed to enjoy what was going right.

Actual glow egg
Actual glow egg

As soon as I let go and said, “whatever” (for real this time) the party turned out pretty perfect. My girls had so much fun hunting for glowing eggs, they didn’t even think to open them to look for treats. They took turns hiding eggs for each other and even cheered each other on. We had a lot of laughs and it was a total blast.

Learning to let go of perfection and the stress it creates in my parenting – that is what being a “Whatever” mom is all about.

Eggs on parade
Eggs on parade

 

Eggless Easter Fun!

2014 Easter Blog 002

Last year I discovered the simple beauty of plastic Easter eggs and fuzzy pom-poms. With Easter right around the corner I’m bringing these back! It usually buys me at least 30 uninterrupted minutes. I can almost hear my own thoughts while finishing the dishes!

First, I picked up some plastic eggs and pom-poms at the dollar store.

Pick up items at any dollar store.
Pick up items at any dollar store.

Next, I dumped them into a deviled egg tray for easy access and storage. That’s it! Done! The kids will take care of the rest! (If you don’t have pom-poms you can use cotton balls).

Eggs and pom-poms
Eggs and pom-poms

You can find an egg tray similar to this one at the dollar store. I just happened to have one on hand.  You can also recycle an egg carton to store the eggs in. Use whatever works for you.

The first things my girls do is sort and match the colors by placing the pom-poms into the matching colored egg.

Color sorting/matching
Color sorting/matching

Next they enjoy using kid sized plastic tweezers to count out the pom-poms and fill the eggs. (This is a great activity for developing fine motor skills).

2014 Easter Blog 003

Then they just like to make up their own games through pretend play. They grab handfuls of pom-poms and pile them up and mix them up. Sometimes they pretend to go shopping for eggs and fill up an empty shopping bag.

2014 Easter Blog 011

No matter which scenario they choose, we almost always end with – you guessed it- an Easter egg hunt. They like to take turns hiding the eggs and finding them.  Of course I have to help look for the eggs too.

Last year when I first introduced this to my girls they were 28 months old. I was worried they’d eat the pom-poms, so I sat nearby while they played with them. They also enjoyed taking them into the bath tub, dumping the pom-poms into a bowl to mix with a spoon, and just comparing the fuzzy feeling of the pom-poms with the smooth feeling of the eggs.

This year they found a new way to play- Pom-pom soccer!

Use a straw to blow pom-poms across the finish line.
Use a straw to blow pom-poms across the finish line.

The first one to blow a pom-pom into an egg using a straw wins. I love that there are so many different ways to play with these simple things many of us already have around the house.

Got a favorite simple (mess free) activity you’d like to share?

 

Thank you to everyone for following my blog! You can also find me at at http://hudsonvalleyparentblog.wordpress.com/

 

 

Reclaiming my passion for painting.

My finished painting.
My finished painting.

I walk into a Vine Van Gogh paint night so excited to spend time with other moms (and a glass of wine). It really does not matter what we are painting, I am just happy to be out of the house and among other adults. In the last three years I’ve made due with stolen moments alone at the grocery store, or late night drives to run errands. FYI, none of those are fulfilling or deeply gratifying.

Connecting with friends.

Connecting with friends.

The instructor shows us how to set up our canvas and lets us loose with paint. My mind is flooded with distant memories of moving a brush around on canvas in another life. It feels like a refresher course of all the art classes I have taken. Then without expecting it, it becomes a refresher course in how much I love painting. I spend so much time painting with my toddlers I have forgotten how much I love painting for myself. There was a time in my life (before kids, marriage, house) I couldn’t go a day without painting, or drawing something. Don’t get too excited I’m not an artist by any stretch. But, I am creative. I can see new ways to reuse something, or finish a project in simple easy steps and occasionally I can get downright crafty.

Remembering how this painting thing works.

Remembering how this painting thing works.
Class shot.
Class shot.

I love my kids and I love that I get to stay home with them. I simply forgot the value of having my own space and time, or a project just for me. Something I clearly took for granted before kids. I feel guilty spending money on myself, or leaving when I know my kids will melt down. But, it’s OK to let dad feed the kids whatever for dinner, and so what if they skip a bath because it’s what dad needs to do to get through his night with the kids? The important thing I try to remember is it is one night. They will survive and so will I! I realize I am not spending hundreds on myself. The occasional expense of nurturing my own happy pursuits goes a lot further than just me. When I am personally fulfilled I am better at nurturing my family.

I love my time out painting and chatting (and I love escaping the monotony of laundry and the constant barrage of shrill screeches of“Mama! Mama! Mama!”  that jumbles all of my thoughts).  The class is nearly 3 hours long- which is long enough for me to reconnect with a long forgotten passion. Now, I can’t wait for the next class!!

Class photo.
Class photo.

We are all busy women, whether you’re a mom or working girl- what are some ways you keep in touch with your passions?

How To Build A Busy Binder

Top view of binders.
Top view of binders.

How often do you find awesome projects on Pinterest and think, “who has time for that?” Or, “I would never think of that!” That’s what inspired me to create these super simple busy binders! I used items I found at dollar stores. No need to use up my ink to print off a ton of pages. No need to laminate. These are re-usable, inexpensive and require very little time to make.

Materials for busy binder
Materials for busy binder

I found activity books at the Dollar Tree. (Target  has similar books in their dollar section). I picked up some colorful 3 ring binders at Big Lots for .90 cents each along with matching zipper pouches for $1.00 each. I reused some plastic page protectors and dry erase markers I found at home. So, each binder cost around $2.90. (I made 4).

Zipper pouch to always have pens on hand.
Zipper pouch to always have pens on hand.

The zipper pouch in the front of each binder holds dry erase markers for easy storage. I especially like the dry erase markers with the felt tipped eraser caps. This way the girls can erase their marks on their own if necessary.

Be sure to use dry erase markers.
Be sure to use dry erase markers.
Use book cover as first page in binder.
Use book cover as first page in binder.

The first page of the binder holds the cover of the activity book. If you want to get fancy, buy a binder that includes a front and back clear view pocket. Place the front cover of the activity book in the front clear view pocket and the back cover of the activity book in the back clear view pocket. The clear view binders run about $3-$4 each. The plastic page protector is my cheater version.

Insert individual pages in pockets.

Insert individual pages in pockets.

The following pages include activity sheets I detached from the book. I inserted one page per plastic sleeve.

Pocket protectors make it easy to erase and use again.
Pocket protectors make it easy to erase and use again.

Now the girls can re-use the pages as many times as they’d like. I simply erase when they are finished, or encourage them to clean with a paper towel before putting the binder away.

Inside binder
Inside binder

I keep the binders on a shelf for easy toddler access.

Binders on shelf.
Binders on shelf.

I have an open shelf area at the end of our counter that I keep busy activities for the girls to grab and play with any time they like. This has saved me during phone calls, while chatting with other adults and that rat race called dinner hour.

Open access to activity shelf.
Open access to activity shelf.

I assembled all 4 binders in less than 20 minutes! The materials are easy to find, inexpensive and assemble quickly. No printing! No coloring! No laminating!

What are some busy projects you have to occupy little ones?

You might also like my Dinosaur Counting Folder Game.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy. 

Rainbow Rice Bin

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s day (or as my kids call it ‘Leaf Day’) we made Rainbow Rice boxes with little gold gems. We already made the traditional paper crafts with painted hand prints and shamrocks. So, I wanted something a little different and interactive.

This is how it went down:

All I used to make the colored rice.
All I used to make the colored rice.

I was expecting a much bigger mess than we made, hence the double layering of foil and paper on the baking sheet. I did  not have parchment paper on hand, so I just cut open a couple of brown paper lunch sacks.

Baking sheets lined with aluminum foil and brown paper.
Baking sheets lined with aluminum foil and brown paper.

I filled 6 plastic zipper bags with 1 cup of rice.

Rice prep
Rice prep
After color mix
After color mix

I used 1 tsp. of vinegar and several drops of food coloring. I did not measure the drops of food coloring, but used a small amount to start and added more if I wanted more vibrant colors.

Layering the rice to dry
Layering the rice to dry

The kids helped me spread each colored rice onto the paper. I expected by adding vinegar and liquid colors the rice would be more wet. But, it just needed an hour to air dry. Be sure to spread it nice and thin one color at a time.

While the rice dried we added our gold pieces (gems) to the bins. We talked about St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, Leprechauns, rainbows, and pots of gold while we cleaned and dried the gems. I was amazed by my kid’s questions. Our conversation felt like it was a lesson without being a formal lesson.  While we waited for the rice and gems to dry completely we hung our St. Patty’s decorations around the house.

Gold gems served as our gold pieces.
Gold gems serve as our gold pieces.
Separated for binx
Separated for bins

Once the rice was dry I separated it into two columns to divide between two bins (clear plastic shoe boxes).

Scooping the rice into bins
Scooping the rice into bins

The kids chose to use a spatula to scoop and dump the rice into their bin.

I remembered I had left over black paper cups! Thought it made a great “pot” for our gold.

Black paper cups become our pot of gold.
Black paper cups become our pot of gold.

I added small plastic shot glasses as little scoops for the rice.

Smaller scoop cups to sort our gold.
Smaller scoop cups to sort our gold.

The whole project took around an hour and a half- including drying time. My husband noted the rainbow rice looked pretty similar to Fruity Pebbles. If you really want to you can dump cereal in a box and throw in some gold gems and be done. But, we really enjoyed the entire experience!