Category: Parent

Kid’s Art Storage

During my last visit home my mother handed me this haphazardly filled box of some of my old artwork and collectibles. Not everything fit and it was spilling over the sides of the box. I dropped most of its contents on the way to the car. I was excited to see mementos of my childhood but overwhelmed by sorting through it.

My sad little box.
My sad little box.

This made me think about how to store my kid’s little creations. Now that they are in pre-school they bring home new art projects each week (times 2). I went in search of ways to organize and store their creations. I wanted something to last through their school years.

Some time ago I found a nifty and thrifty way to display our weekly creations. I fashioned a very simple and inexpensive hanging gallery using twine, 3M Command hooks and clothes pins. All stuff I already had on hand. This hangs close to our entry way so the girls can clip their art as soon as they walk in the door.

Our gallery line
Our gallery line

Simply apply the Command hooks according to directions and tie the ends of a piece of twine to each. Clip artwork to the line with a clothes pin. You can get as fancy as you’d like by using colored ribbon and colored clothes pins, or just keep it simple and use what you already have.

3M Command Hook

3M CommandHook

Artwork stays in the gallery for about a week (when the next round of art work starts coming in) before I sort through which pieces to keep and which pieces to toss. I am a ruthless chucker. I only keep the pieces that are really special. I’m a sucker for hand prints, projects made for mom and dad and anything that looks like more than practice scribbles. We haven’t had any over sized pieces yet, but I am already planning to toss those (unless my children are prodigies in that case I’ll keep them).

For storage, I purchased two plastic file bins at Walmart for less than $20.00. I re-purposed some file folders I already have and downloaded some free printables I found online. I like the simplicity of someone else doing the work and then downloading to print.

File storage bins
File storage bins

I don’t have enough storage for each child to have their own file bin, so I am doubling up. One bin is marked for preschool through sixth grade. The second bin is marked for seventh grade to twelfth grade. I will drop keepsakes for each child into one file folder and let them sort it out (10-20 years) later. Each folder is pre-labeled with the school year and inside each folder is a cover sheet to include school picture and school info. Since everything is labeled I can just drop kids’ keepsakes into appropriate school year and be done.

Pretty little tabs all in a row
Pretty little tabs all in a row

I save myself years of organizing time, and I save my kids the hassle of dragging toppling boxes to the car one day. The whole project took me less than 30 minutes. The most time consuming part is cutting out the labels and putting in the tabs. A project you can do easily in front of the TV.

How do you save your kids artwork? Are you a ruthless purger, or a keepsake queen?

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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:

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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*

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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?

 

 

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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?

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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!

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Eggless Easter Fun!

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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).

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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.

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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/

 

 

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The Day I Became the Whatever Mom

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I think it is important to share that I am afflicted with a type “A” personality; which basically means I am very high strung and I want things done my way. I tend to fall apart when things do not go according to plan. And, by fall apart I mean I have a full systems meltdown (which I did when my girls were around two and a half).  I am very lucky I get to stay home with my twins. I do not however have access to family, back up child care and my husband works 98% of each day. So, most days I am out numbered.

Now, let me share with you that having twins as your first born is hard work. There is already a major learning curve to being a first time parent, but you throw in that extra needy little human and things get tough. Whether you have one, two or several, that first year is all about getting your parental bearings. Even with all the curve balls I hit that first year, it was still the easiest so far. Both kids were on the same eating and sleeping schedule. Juggling feeding and bathing two babies alone was difficult, but I managed. By the grace of God they both took two naps a day which gave me approximately three and a half hours to complete my household chores, maybe rest and watch TV. They were in bed by 6 p.m. and I had three more hours to get things done (and drink some wine). Since they were so portable we went for a walk three times a day. Errands were nearly effortless when I only had to pick up their carrier and lock it into the stroller. I was able to get things done, maybe not as perfectly as I could before kids, but my house was orderly, my kids were clean and dinner was on the table every night. I felt like I was THE domestic goddess. My type “A” was happy!

It all changed when my twins started walking. In opposite directions. I could no longer keep them contained and everything they touched was now out of place. They started protesting against diaper changes, wardrobe changes, bath time, car seats, the stroller and what was on the menu. It was exhausting. But, somehow I was determined to continue operating at a level of perfection only I had created. Until one day I landed myself in the ER with my first ever panic attack (a fore mentioned full system melt down). I hated it. I hated feeling like I did not have control. That was the scariest part. After meeting with a neurologist (I was convinced it must be “a tumah”) I realized I needed to make some changes. I needed to let some things go- namely my expectations.

My kids deserve a healthy mom. So, “whatever” became my mantra. I started saying “whatever” to the dishes now and then. I started saying “whatever” to the crumbs on the floor and the splatters of paint on the table after art projects. I even started saying “whatever” to keeping every single thing perfect. I lowered my standards from unattainable perfection to “whatever works.” I’m not going to lie. It was and still is difficult to do. I still get a twinge of “oh man I should be doing THAT!” when I go to other kids parties, or see friends awesome Pintrest projects. I get in a rush to make things bigger and better than I have planned. Then reality sets in that the only extra hands I have are little ones and I call upon my mantra of, “whatever” and I let it go.

I started this blog to give moms permission to do Whatever it takes to get through the day as a parent. You don’t need to keep it all together and make perfect crafts. You don’t need to put perfectly hot meals on the table every single night and hand deliver perfectly folded laundry. So, give yourself permission to leave the dishes in the sink a little longer while you play dress up with the kids. Our little ones actually want to be with us and shower us with kisses for a very short time.

Is your mail piling up? Is the laundry calling your name? Does your neighbor give you funny looks because you feed your kids out of a squishy pouch while driving to school? Repeat after me, Whatever! It works for me!

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