Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Better Parent: Thank You Playdoh

Most people are aware that I have a bit of a Type A personality, in that I can occasionally be anal retentive. Yes I fully admit it and in the past I thought that this was a completely positive trait to have; a place for everything, everything in its place and so on. If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts (ie. Organization = Sanity) this bit of information won’t surprise you. Raising a toddler I have come to the realization that imposing my anal retentive behaviors onto my children is likely to set them back and prevent them from having the experiences that they must in order to learn and grow.

For Christmas, Sophie got a wonderful Playdoh set from her Uncle Chris. I added it to her wish list thinking it would be a lot of fun for her. Then once I saw it in physical form I immediately had these horrible images of yellow, green, and pink Playdoh mashed together in a mess of marbled colours. I so desperately wanted the colours to remain separate, but knew that left to her own devices Sophie would surely mix them all together. This is why the dough set remained hidden for 3 solid weeks after Christmas while I built up my courage to bring it out.

Against my better judgement about giving Sophie an opportunity to be creative, I finally opened one colour of Playdoh for her to play with. Little did I know that colour mixing would not be my only stressor…

This wonderful Playdoh set came with a whole mass of shape making tools and even a hair making station. On that first day Sophie thoroughly enjoyed cutting the hair that squished through the little holes. Then she decided she wanted a different colour. Terrible mother that I am I insisted we clean up the first colour and put it back in its container, safe from contamination. Luckily Jonas was around to enjoy the Playdoh fun with Sophie while I mercilessly attempted to get the previous colour of dough out of the hairdo guy. I now know that this is an impossible task. 

Fortunately for both Sophie and I, one afternoon I stumbled across a website dedicated to Preschool projects and activities, which clearly emphasized that young children must be given the opportunity to be messy, mix things together, and be wildly creative with toys and crafts. Needless to say, now when Sophie asks to play with Playdoh, I open every single dough container she wants and let her play to hearts content. We build white snowmen with orange carrot noses, pink hats, brown buttons, green scarves and I no longer stress over that silly hairdo guy. This doesn’t mean I don’t try my hardest to pull the mixed colours apart once she’s finished. For my own sanity I feel there must be some attempt made to put things back in order, but the white Playdoh is definitely not white anymore.

I’m still building up my courage to open up the finger paints she got for Christmas from my Mom. Every time I look at those bottles of paint a knot forms in my throat and I have images of carnage throughout my kitchen. I’ve seriously considered taking a page out of Dexter’s book by taping up sheets of poly so no square inch of floor, wall, ceiling or furniture is left bare. That will be a post for another day. Possibly sooner than later, because my Mom will read this and call me to tell me to “open up those darn finger paints for crying out loud, Christmas was two months ago!”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Make it Monday: DIY Craft Storage Containers

Don’t throw away your baby wipes containers!

I have been accumulating baby wipes containers over the past couple of years. Even when you buy wipes in bulk the boxes usually include a plastic wipes container. I couldn't bare to recycle them, they just seemed so useful. So I decided to use them to store craft supplies, but I didn’t like the fact that they looked like baby wipes containers so I brought out the mod podge and a little creativity and the result was these great little storage bins.

What you’ll need:

Empty baby wipes container
Mod Podge – Gloss finish
Paintbrush – I like the foam ones
Scrap fabric – 25” x 3.5”
Any accessories you like to add finishing touches (ie. Crayon wrappers, stickers, etc)


Iron your fabric so it is wrinkle free.

Spread a smooth coat of mod podge on the front of the wipes container, align your fabric so it is roughly centered on the front of the container and smooth it on.

Since the containers are slightly tapered at the bottom you’ll need to cut a slit in the fabric about ¾ up at each corner, which will then overlap (you can see how I did this in the picture above).

Spread a smooth coat of mod podge on one side of the container and smooth the fabric on keeping the slit you cut overlapped. Do the same with the other side of the container.

Spread a smooth coat of mod podge onto the back of the container and smooth both loose ends of the fabric on. Seal the overlapping ends with mod podge.

Finally spread a smooth coat of mod podge over the entire fabric strip being sure to smooth out the overlapping corners. Allow to dry about half an hour before decorating.

If you want to add solitary fabric pieces, like the oval I put on top of the two Huggies wipes containers (pictured in the very top of this post), you need to do an extra step to prevent the edges from fraying. 

Simply coat a piece of fabric on one side with mod podge, put wax paper underneath to prevent it from sticking to your work surface. Let it dry completely, turn it over and do the same to the other side. Once it is completely dry cut your shape out and mod podge it onto your container.

I added some crayon wrappers to the outside of my container and used some foam stickers from the dollar store for the top. The other two containers are filled with foam letters & numbers, and foam animal stickers.

There you have it. Simple craft storage containers. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby vs. Baby

I know you have this image of two little tykes in diapers sitting in a play pen with their wild-eyed mothers shouting “Take him down!”

No? Just me? Well sometimes it can feel like that when you’re talking to other mom’s about what milestones your little ones have reached.

Yes, we all do it. We compare our children to others and it can quickly turn into an unspoken competition. In fact I think it’s human nature -- you know survival of the fittest and all. We do it to assure ourselves that our kids are developmentally similar to others of their own age; to determine whether we need to stage an intervention early on to help our children advance; or to confirm our assumptions that our children are far superior than others. Healthy or not we do it; even if we keep it to ourselves.

We compare everything.

Who poops more often, who sleeps longer, who’s bigger, who’s crawling, scooting, rolling or walking. Who’s eating more, who babbles, blows bubbles, squeals, or says mama. Who claps their hands, plays pat-a-cake, or can turn a page in a book. Who’s talking, singing or dancing. Ugh.

We’re all told by community health nurses that babies and young children develop at different rates so we shouldn’t be comparing our children. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t help it. It’s a fast-paced world out there and no one wants their child to be left behind in the dust.

All this competition can sometimes leave us feeling a little self-conscious about our parenting abilities, especially if our little one hasn’t reached all the milestones that his best bud has. So what do I do?


Sure this photo looks like Sophie is just playing with fridge magnets like any other two-year old does…

But a close up of the finished product shows her mad skills at long division; Uh huh, who’s smarter now?

And this photo looks like Willow is drooling and slobbering all over a block like any other 5 month old…

But there you have it; she’s stacking irregular shaped blocks, amazing!

So this strategy is not honest, but if you have a friend that always has to one up you on what amazing thing their kid is doing, this will certainly get them to keep a lid on it next time. Can't argue with hard photographic evidence. Tee hee.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Make It Monday: Hair Clip Picture Frame

Sophie has a whole variety of hair clips and bows that have been tucked away in a little box on top of her dresser. Occasionally I’ll pull one out in the hopes that she will finally allow me to not only brush her hair, but jazz it up a little in the process. If I throw in an “Oooh pretty” and “Look what I found!” I will sometimes be permitted to fasten the chosen accessory into her hair. But I usually have to do so while she’s riding her rocking horse or dancing to one of her favorite Wiggles’ songs. Needless to say the outcome is rarely what I would hope for.

During one of my Pinterest browsing sessions I stumbled across this idea for a DIY Bow Holder from The Paro Post. To be honest I'm not a big fan of the pink, but the idea in and of itself jumped out at me. Not only is this a brilliant idea for storage, but perhaps I could finally get Sophie excited about the idea of wearing cute hair accessories.

So here it is, a fun DIY project: Hair Clip Picture Frame

Here's what you'll need:

A wooden picture frame
Fabric ribbon - 1" wide (length will vary depending on the size of your frame)
Hot glue


Cut your ribbon to equal lengths that fit within your picture frame - The number of ribbons you use will depend on the size of your frame. I used 3 for this project.  

If you have an odd number then center the first ribbon on the back of your frame and hot glue each end into place.  

Glue the next ribbons into place equal distance from the first ribbon and the edge of the frame - you can eyeball it or use a ruler and pencil to mark precise points to place your ribbon.

I made two of these to hold all of Sophie's clips and bows. I hung them up in plain sight in the bathroom hoping that when she brushes her teeth in the morning she'll see them and shout with excitement "Mommy can I please wear a clip?!!!" Okay, so I recognize that it seems totally ridiculous, but one can hope.  

The hair clip frames look cute regardless. And the ribbon matches her Ocean in a Jar, which also has a home next to the sink to jazz up the kids bathroom.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sick Child and Paranoid Parents

My husband Jonas and I have learned quite a few things about little kids over the past couple of years, one of which is what to expect when they are ill.  So, it has come to be that we are now completely and utterly terrified of a child that has the potential of expelling the contents of her stomach.  And even more so when said child is securely buckled into a car seat.  Note: Car seat companies make it incredibly difficult to take the fabric off the seat to wash it and if you do succeed then plan to spend an entire weekend putting the stupid thing back together.

So, when Sophie developed a fever on Sunday night after a day of fun with family we were concerned about making that hour and a half trip home from Grandma’s house.  Sophie fell asleep early on and I comfortably settled into a daze watching other cars whiz by, but the moment she started coughing I frantically grabbed for the grocery bag that was caught under my seat.  The 30 seconds it took me to untangle the bag felt like an eternity as Sophie’s hacking got worse and Jonas started breaking into a sweat in anticipation of the potential bio-hazard scene that would soon be our car.  I shoved the bag towards Sophie just in time for her to stop coughing and fall back to sleep, false alarm. 

The rest of the car ride home I sat twisted in my seat staring at Sophie as if she were a geyser about to erupt, with a death grip on the bag.  Every time I heard so much as a throat clearing I would thrust the bag towards her as fast as I could and she would open her eyes look at the bag and me in confusion and doze back to sleep.  Luckily we made it home without incident.

The last couple of days at home Sophie has still been coughing and of course I have made attempts to limit the impact of any stomach emptying that might occur in my house.  During one incident I frantically disassembled my Tupperware shelf, grabbing the largest container I could find and in a stunt worthy of MLB praise skidded across the kitchen floor towards my coughing child.  Sophie stopped coughing immediately and with the biggest smile on her face said, “What’s Mommy doing?”  As I fought to try and explain my actions we both broke out into hysterical laughter at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation.  Although I’m pretty sure Sophie was laughing at me not my actions.

And today, during a particularly bad coughing fit, I desperately grabbed for whatever was close by, which happened to be a donation box full of baby stuff; I swung the box in the air quickly divesting it of its contents and effectively scattering it across my living room, shoved the box at Sophie just in time for… a snort-laugh.  Yup, she is in fact her mother’s daughter, she snort-laughed at me.

All this effort I’ve put in to preventing a disastrous afternoon of cleanup and Sophie has not gotten sick once.  In fact I’m pretty sure she just has a common cold.  But really if you’d seen the damage that one tiny little person can do when she’s sick you’d be paranoid too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Make It Monday: Tissue Paper Heart Valentine

The clock is ticking and if you have yet to create a heartfelt masterpiece for your valentine then you’ve come to the right place.  Here is a very simple, kid-friendly yet beautiful Valentine’s Day craft.  The idea for the Tissue Paper Heart came from the Meet the Dubien’s blog.

Here’s what you need:

-          Paper – I used white cardstock
-          Pencil
-          Heart shaped cookie cutters or similar (optional of course – you could always freehand it)
-          Tissue paper (I have a ridiculous amount of pink tissue paper on account of I have two little girls and there must have been a memo that went out saying all gifts for little girls must be put in gift bags with pink tissue paper – end of rant)
-          Scissors
-          Glue stick


Trace or draw a heart or two or three on the paper
Cut the tissue paper into small squares

Smear glue within the lines of the heart
Scrunch up the tissue paper and stick it to the gluey heart, so simple

There you have it, a sweet valentine.  You can jazz it up with stickers and what not.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sophie's Valentine's Day Treats

What can I say, I'm always looking for fun stuff to do with Sophie and sticking to the theme of the month seems to be my go-to for inspiring creativity.  I helped Sophie make these very sweet Valentine's Day goody bags and think they turned out pretty good so I'm sharing them here.  It was a great activity to keep her busy and she's quite proud of her creation.

To make the cookies we used the Roll-Out Cookies recipe from  I picked up heart-shaped cookie cutters from the dollar store and really wanted to use them so this recipe was perfect.  Plus Sophie had a blast cutting out the heart shapes.

To make her valentine heart Sophie very carefully (Ha ha) coloured a sheet of purple construction paper.  When she was satisfied with her masterpiece I cut it into heart shapes.  Sophie jazzed up the hearts with a couple of Valentine's Day themed stickers.

A perfect preschool age Valentine's Day project.

Just a warning, the Make It Monday post is likely to be Valentine's Day themed as well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Embracing Pink

I can’t remember a time in my life when I liked the colour pink.  I admit I have made a few attempts at wearing pink, usually on those days that I feel like trying something new, but eventually that practically brand new shirt makes its way back into the dusty corners of my closet where other forgotten clothing items go to die (ie. chunky turtlenecks, denim jackets and wide leg jeans).  Over the past several years I have been able to ignore the pink which would seldom enter my life.  And then…

I was blessed with two darling little girls and suddenly my living room, kitchen, laundry baskets and hallways are exploding with pink.  Pink pants, shirts, socks, underwear, cars, strollers, babies, bibs, bottles, blankets – AHHHHHH!!!! Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink!

I can’t even tell you when it all happened.  I remember when Sophie was first born I was determined to avoid pink like the plague.  Of course I wasn’t totally disillusioned thinking she wouldn’t get pink toys and clothes, but I figured I would try and control the amount as much as I personally could.  Thinking back on it maybe if I had kept the gender of my children secret, like that family in the UK did, we wouldn't have been so bombarded with pink.  On the other hand, the image of a little boy in a tutu and fairy wings has me a little concerned about the presence of bullying in his future.  So being a conventional, stereotypical, bully-fearing mother it is not surprising that I didn't choose that route.

In the beginning, when I went to clothing stores I would seek out blue, green, yellow, orange and even purple items, but the dizzying sea of pink was so overwhelming.  The pink outfits seem to be mass produced so if you want to take advantage of a sale you're likely to get something in pink.  

Everything from potties and booster seats to underwear and pajamas are sold in either a Disney Princesses theme (Pink of course!) or a Cars theme.  Personally I think the Cars stuff is much cuter, but I got in trouble from our friends daughter for buying a Cars booster seat and since I have a healthy fear of tween's I will never make that mistake again.

So, I followed the age-old adage, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.  Yes I am wearing pink nail polish (and it is bubble gum scented, thank you Revlon).  What can I say, I've totally cracked!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Make It Monday: Paper Rose Bouquet

I’ve decided to start something new with my blog: a weekly Make It Monday post.  Along with my other random blog posts about my parenting exploits, every Monday I’ll share with you a craft or DIY project.

In keeping with a romantic February theme today’s Make It Monday post is a sweet bouquet of paper roses.  Over the past few years I have accepted the fact that I will rarely have a fresh bouquet of flowers on my table (due to my husband's determination not to "set the bar too high"), but that’s fine by me because my success rate with delicate flowers is not so good.

I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be perfect to add a little pizazz to my dining room table in true Valentine’s Day spirit.

Here's what you'll need:

Here is a photo with directions on how to make the paper flowers from Oh Crafts

1. Draw a spiral on a square sheet of paper  - I used 3.5” square pieces of cardstock (red, pink & white)
2. Cut out spiral along lines
3. Begin rolling it up from outside to inside
4. Keep on rolling until there's no more left to roll

5. Put a dab of hot glue at the base of each flower to secure it
6. Using a straight pin, make a hole at the base of each finished flower
7. Use a wooden skewer to make the hole large enough so the flower can slide onto the stem

I attached all of the flowers to a plastic stem from a dollar store silk plant; I just pulled off all of the little silk flowers it came with so I ended up with a bare branch.  You could easily hot glue the little roses to your branch; I chose to just slide them on so that I can easily take them off when I’m tired of it and try something new.

The “vase” is a Vodka bottle that’s been sitting on my counter for the past few weeks just waiting to be used for a DIYer.  I'm still contemplating whether or not I should spray paint it in a matte white finish.

There you have it.  A beautiful bouquet that will never wilt.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Toddler Diaries: Fashionista

If there was a TLC show titled What Not to Wear: The Toddler Edition, Sophie would definitely be a candidate.

I loved it for the first two years of her life when I could choose her outfits and make sure she was always wearing something that matched and looked cute.  The transition to independence started with Sophie deciding that she would pick out her own shirt to wear, which for about 2 months was a pink shirt with a Chihuahua on it.  Sometimes I wonder why I buy new clothes at all when she always wears the same darn thing.  At one point I attempted to tuck away that Chihuahua shirt so she would pick something else, but the resulting meltdown was not worth it. 

During those early days of fashion independence I was at least permitted to choose coordinating pants, but alas those days are over and now my presence is only required to get her into her chosen duds.  Which means at least they aren’t on backwards and inside out, I’m sure that will come soon.

Her outfits range from red tights, the aforementioned Chihuahua shirt and her bike helmet to her much loved tiger costume, which she insisted on wearing every day during the week before Christmas.  She is also very creative with accessorizing, her dad’s toque and her 3D glasses from the movie theater are some of her favorites, but bowls, baskets, and everyone’s shoes other than her own are not uncommon.  And on those days that she’s particularly proud of her clothing ensemble she’ll be in and out of the bathroom giving herself a once over in the mirror.

Days that we have company coming over or are heading out of the house I make every effort possible to influence her clothing choices.  This is one of my go to strategies…

“Sophie, do you want to wear tights today?”  Mommy says with excitement.  (This question almost always results in the desired response: “YES!”)

“Okay, if you’re going to wear tights then you need to wear a dress.” 

The times that this strategy works the result is wonderful.  The times it doesn't are epic failures; meaning Sophie ends up wearing transparent tights that show off her princess underwear and that freaking Chihuahua shirt!  Hardly suitable for dinner out.