Posts by Nat

Friday Free For All?

Posted by on May 18, 2012 | 1 comment

I am having  a crazy time here, folks.  Cra. Zy.

I have three kids.  Up until a few days ago, Anna (5) was the only one not napping.  Jack (3), was a champion napper, and of course, at 10 months, Sweet Em is napping twice a day.  Those afternoon naps have been precious.  Anna has “quiet time” and Jack & Em would sleep and I…. could BLOG.  And WORK.  And most importantly, I could complete a thought, have a phone conversation, and go the loo without an audience.

Yesterday my sweet Jack was bound and determined to NOT.  NAP.  And “quiet time” does not translate for this boy, folks.  If he doesn’t want to be in his room, then he lets us know.  And conveniently… his room?  It’s next to Emily’s.  Neat.  Today it was the same thing- lots of protests, lots of noise, not a lot of down time for mommy.

So, this mom is doing her best to let go of the nap.

So there’s that.

And then… I just feel like I’m in recovery mode.  In the span of just a week I helped put on a Family Music Festival (1,500 people attended- holla!), planned and executed a much-more-relaxed birthday party for Anna (post forthcoming), and the very next night had a wonderful get together with old friends.  It was fun, but it was also exhausting.

And then there’s this fitness challenge, which I am not doing as well in as I had hoped.  And I know exactly why:  I need to workout more.  I’m eating really, really well (I think).  We bought a juicer (more to come on that), and I’m eating lean proteins, fruits & veggies.  But my body needs to MOVE and all I want to do… is sleep.   I’m hoping that the juicer and some major workouts this week will help.

I’m very excited, though, that this Saturday I will be attending a photography workshop.  I’ll tell you all about it next week.  Promise.   Right now, I need to go to bed.  Not my most stellar blogging week, but we all have our challenges.

Catch ya next week!

 

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!

 

{Prepare}

I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.

{Action}

The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!

 

Monday

Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.

 

Tuesday

Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!

Wednesday

I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!

Thursday

Parents bring in treats.  Easy!

Friday

I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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Knitting Project Complete

Posted by on May 14, 2012 | 1 comment

I’m so glad that I finished this cowl… just in time for June.  (Read that with as much sarcasm as you can stand.)

I don’t know what the deal is with me and knitting projects lately, but it takes me f.o.r.e.v.e.r to complete them.  This one will have to get tucked away into my closet and come out in the fall because I know I won’t need it this summer.  But I still LOVE how it turned out.  I first saw this on Pinterest, and sourced it to Jen Geigley’s blog, Hey! Jen Renee.  Jen so nicely posted here about seeing this cowl at The Gap and she just made her own version (without a seam, to boot).  I used the exact same yarn, just a different color.  I’m really into gray.  Grey.  However you spell it.

I did run out of steam at the end, so mine is not the full width it should be, but it’s still plenty thick.   And I LOVE the seed stitch- I’ve never done it before.  I do worry that with my next project my brain is going to get confused with when to purl and when to knit, but I’m sure I’ll get back on track.

So that you can see it in action, I even made you a video so you can see how it looks on….with my summer tanktop and all.

 

 

Thanks for such a great pattern, Jen!

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#iwillrockthis Challenge Update

Posted by on May 10, 2012 | 1 comment

Have you heard about the I Will Rock This Challenge going on?  I’m participating!  I’m on a journey to being healthier and more fit.  The more fit…man, that’s gonna take a while.  But the healthier, in terms of eating habits and choices, is coming along just splendidly.

Soon you will hear about my juicer, juicing, and anything fruit and veggie-ish.  Am I going vegetarian?  Vegan, even?  Nope.  (Sorry, Janis.)  But I AM cramming more fruits & veggies down my own throat, and I’m noticing a difference in the way I feel and how my body is, well, behaving, I guess.  I just feel better- we’ll leave it at that.  This juicer I ordered… it comes on Tuesday next week.  You will likely see me posting pictures of it on my Facebook page because I am SO EXCITED to get it.

I’ve eliminated processed carbs like bread and refined sugar.  I’m eating little to no dairy, and for someone who really loves ice cream and anything creamy- this is a huge step.  I used to allow myself to drink a huge glass of milk each morning, milk on my cereal, yogurt every day for lunch, cheese & crackers as a snack, ice cream after dinner/before bed…  And then I’d wonder why my stomach was in knots a few times a day.  Duh.

Has my weight changed?

Well, that’s interesting.  I posted earlier about my attempt at my own version of the HCG diet.  Since starting that diet I’ve lost about 17 pounds.  But during the I Will Rock This challenge… I’ve just held steady.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been more active and I’m not eating as strictly as I did doing HCG- I needed more calories.  So I’m still balancing everything out, and hope to move up in the rankings in the coming weeks.

I’m working out as often as possible.  I have to work really hard to make the time and get it done.  I’ve been on two runs, tried the 30-day-Shred workout, a Pilates workout, and I’ve cleaned my house, which counts for something.  I also recently went through my closet and was able to put on seven, count ’em, SEVEN pairs of pants and shorts that did not fit me before my birthday.  Holla!

One thing I’m loving about this challenge is the group of women who are participating.  We are so nice to each other, even though there’s a nice pile o’ cash at the end of this health rainbow.  We exchange ideas, vent, and cheer each other on.

And so, there’s my update.  I’d post a picture update, but there’s no huge change to how I look.  After I get my haircut next week, though- you’ll see a pic of me soon enough. 😉   Be sure to check in tomorrow- I finally finished a knitting project!

(click here for photo credit)

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DIY Chalkboards {Summertime Fun!}

Posted by on May 9, 2012 | 5 comments

…..

I want this summer of 2012 to be one my kids remember.  I want it to be fun.  I also want to be able to say to them, “Go Play Outside!” as often as possible.  I have lots of memories of being sent outside to play when I was growing up.  There’s just nothing like summer when you’re a kid.

For a long time this area of our house has been off limits.  It was full of mud, gopher holes, and sharp, dangerous tools.  This fall we’ll have been here three years.  And thankfully, this is the first summer where I think we really NEED this space for our family, and it’s ready!  I’ll be showing you more later, but for now, we’ll stick to these home-made chalkboards I made for the kids.  They’ve been a big hit, and were very straightforward to make.  I saw this idea on several blogs a few years ago, and of course now I can’t remember any of them.  I knew I could buy a chalkboard somewhere, but I wanted them to be small so the kids or I could move them easily, and I didn’t want to feel bad if they get banged up, as I’m sure they will.

I went to Home Depot one day to get something completely unrelated and came home with all the fixings to make these.  I grabbed three square pieces of wood (I could wander in the lumber part of Home Depot all day just to smell the wood).  I believe they are 2 ft. x 2 ft. I also grabbed 2 cans of this primer by Rustoleum:

And 2 cans of this Chalk Board Paint, also by Rustoleum.

Making these was very simple, but a bit time-consuming in order to let the primer and paint dry.  I just followed the directions on the can.  I’d throw on my painting clothes in the morning and slap a coat on.  Then in the afternoon I’d do another.

I did three coats of primer and three coats of chalkboard paint.  I think it took 3-4 days to complete.

The thing that was most helpful was using extra pavers to elevate the boards.  See this picture below?  This is how I started; do not start this way.  Find something thick and even that you don’t care about and stick it under the boards so you can’t see it.  Then you can paint the entire surface of the board AND the edges, and it is easy peasy.

We already had quite a collection of sidewalk chalk.  I was thinking about buying regular chalk until I saw how much sidewalk chalk we have.  We can wait.

I bought this handy carrying case at Target.  The bottom compartment still needs something- haven’t decided what we’ll put in there.

We use some planters I got in the dangerous dollar section at Target to hold water for dunking our chalk.  It makes the colors so vibrant.

The day we started using these, Anna was in heaven.  I drew a picture on the middle board to show her how to do the water, and she was ready to go.  This little girl is a creative type, just like her mommy. :)

Jack just has fun making a mess and asking me to draw things for him.  Helicopters are the most popular.

What fun things do your kids like to do outside?

And by the way- do my pictures not look SO much better?!  Hooray for new cameras!

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