Friday, December 30, 2011

Final Fun Friday Finds for 2011

It's been way too long, and I realize the Friday is almost over, but here are a few final fun Friday finds for 2011!

Spinach Chips from Michele Made Me .... now on my to-try list!
Stegosaurus sox tutorial from Happy Together - definitely gotta try making these!
Squid dogs - found these on Pinterest and I finally tried them the other week...totally void of any nutrition but fun for the kids!
Super hero shoes...sold out on Etsy but what a fun idea if you can make them yourself!

Okay, I want to post more but it's getting late!  Have a fabulous last day of 2011, everyone!  See you next year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

DIY Monster Truck Birthday Party!

One day this past summer Sammy got a little toy monster truck at a garage sale.  When I told him what a monster truck was, he wanted to know more.  So, I pulled up this YouTube video of a monster truck show.  Ever since then he has been obsessed with Monster trucks, and has been talking about the Monster truck 4th birthday party he would like!  Luckily the Monster Jam came to Minneapolis this month so he got to go with Daddy a few weeks ago, and it was a hit.

FYI, if your kid likes Monster trucks and you don't want to fork over the dough for a ticket, or want to get up close without buying an extra "pit pass," they have the trucks on display at auto parts stores around the city for the public to view for free!  Just go to their website, click on your city/event location, and scroll down until you see the "Truck Display" list for locations, dates and times!

So, in keeping with my tradition of sharing my kids' birthday party festivities and ideas, here's what we did to throw a Monster Truck Birthday!

I did some Photoshopping to create this art which went on the front of his party invitations, which I printed at home and mailed out.

I downloaded some free coloring sheets from the Monster Jam website for the kids to color and spread them out on the table with some crayons.

Now here's an idea I wish I had thought of, but this part I am adding after the fact.  You may know that I'm a professional face painter, although I have yet to paint the kids at any of my own kids' parties...not that I don't want to but because I'm so busy hosting!  But if you can solicit a family member to help, try face painting!
I just recently began selling this great tire track stencil on my face painting website.  The sample track you see above was done using the stencil, black face paint and a "Spongit" sponge dauber.  It takes a little practice to get the right ratio of water to paint to get a clear image, but with a stencil it's easy for even a non-artist to make cool tire tracks on the kids!

I bought one of these great inflatable floaties that looks like a tire for a decoration.  Living on a lake I figured it would also double as a gift that he can use this summer!  His mouth dropped open when he saw it!  The garland you see above it I made with yarn and some flags and tires I printed out on the computer.  Click here to download a 3 page pdf with the "4" flags, the little tires and checkered flag to make your own garland!

I got a bunch of balloons at the dollar store near our house for $0.99 cents.  You don't need to pay a fortune for balloons to go with your theme.  I took a black sharpie and drew a monster truck on one, and wrote "The Saminator" on another!

Instead of buying a boring balloon weight, for the same price I got a fun squishy ball.  It had a loop that was perfect to tie balloons to and it was a toy he could play with later!

 The cake was quite simple with the right "props!"  I made a monster truck rally with some toy cars, and made a couple pieces on the computer that I printed out for the background and sign.  Here are some progress shots...

I baked a 9x13" chocolate cake and frosted it with chocolate.

I used a toothpick to trace out the oval track, and brownies (you could use cake too) to form the ramps.

Then I frosted the "track" with dark chocolate frosting.

Next I added some graham cracker crumb "dirt" and drew tire tracks with a tooth pick.

Finally, I added the monster truck, cars, candles and paper signs! (then took off the foil strips and added decorative details to the edges)

The finished product
I always have fun making pinatas.  My mom used to make us pinatas for our birthdays.  Hers we would whack with a stick in the basement, which was always bittersweet as she put so much time into them!
I started making these ribbon pinatas previous years, because we just didn't have a room big enough to let blindfolded kids swing a stick in.  You can see more on how to make them work in my robot/space birthday party post, but basically each kid takes turns pulling a string until one gets the string that opens the trap door to release the candy.  It's all made out of a cardboard box and toilet paper tubes, paper mache and paint!

I didn't really tie in the menu with the party theme this time...being the day after hosting a big Christmas turkey dinner, I tried to go a little easier on myself this year.  I did lasagna which works great to assemble ahead of time and feed a crowd, some frozen garlic bread which was a hit, salad, and one of my favorite cheesy corn crock pot recipes from my sister in law.  We had plenty of food, between that and my "appetizers" of fruit, veggies, cheese, meats and crackers!

The kids use their goodie bags to collect their pinata candy in...

I always use simple paper lunch bags for goodie bags, then print my own party theme labels on sticky backed label paper to decorate them.  The bags each had a toy monster truck, a pencil with cars on it, a blow-up beach ball, a little jar of bubbles, and some candy.  Here are some links to other monster truck party favor ideas...

Next up...little Toby's 2nd Curious George birthday next month! Stay tuned for photos from that one!

Check out the links below to see some of our previous parties...
Robot / Space Birthday Party
Circus Birthday Party
Thomas the Train Birthday Party

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Preparations...

Well, I haven't posted much lately...sorry!  I've been busy with some fun Christmas face painting gigs, and of course getting ready for Christmas and my winter babies' birthdays!  Here are a few things I've been up to...

I always make tons of Christmas cookies, a tradition passed on to me by my mom.  This year I tried a couple new recipes, but this one is a definite keeper: Cookies & Cream Fudge
Ooooh, just looking at this photo makes me want to get some out of the freezer and indulge myself...

The boys had fun making our "play dough cookies" again this year, and we also made some salt flour dough ornaments that I can't show yet because they are going to be Christmas gifts!  But maybe I'll make a post out of it for you all for next Christmas!

We are now in the midst of hosting out-of-town in-laws, and with Christmas eve tomorrow, then Christmas day, followed by Sammy's birthday on the 26th, I'm one busy Mommy!  This is really the first year I have actually FELT my age due to the holiday busy-ness.  I have been so physically exhausted and sore all over my whole body for the past week it's nuts!  But, hey, Christmas is awesome because Mommies make it awesome, am I right?!  I'm still having a blast!!

I'd love to post a bunch of fun Christmas project ideas, but, well, I'm exhausted.  I have, however, found a lot of fabulous ideas from younger, less exhausted moms on Pinterest lately and you can check them out on my "Stuff to Make with the Boys" board!

Have a very merry Christmas and happy new year, and stay tuned for my review of our big 4th Monster Truck birthday party!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homemade Teacher Gift Ideas

I had a friend ask me yesterday if I had any ideas for teacher gifts that she could make.  I'm still a year away from having teachers to get gifts for, but I can see how the cost can quickly add up when your child potentially has multiple teachers and teacher aids! So, what a great, timely idea for a blog post!  (thanks, Kim!)

I pulled several ideas together from my Pinterest boards and some of my previous blog posts.  Here's what I came up with so far!  I'd love to hear if you try any of these and if they go over well!  These are great ideas for ANYBODY, by the way, not JUST teachers, if you're looking for some fun homemade gift ideas!

Bake cookies and wrap them up in empty Pringles cans!

Make hot chocolate dipping spoons! This would be great paired with a couple packets of Swiss Miss!
Felt apple coasters!  So cute!

Fabric wrapped hangers!  Everyone has clothes to hang, right?  This is a great way to recycle fabric scraps from other projects too.
And speaking of hangers, this is posted as a wedding dress hanger, but I was thinking it could also make a cute teacher gift, whether it's hung on a wall as a decoration or actually used.
Framed initial made from crayons!  I've always loved this idea.  You can often find shadow boxes in thrift stores too or you can use a regular frame and skip the glass.  Here's another idea to use pencils!
Cookie cutter fudge!  A treat to enjoy now and a cookie cutter to use later!

Try blinging out a clipboard!
Peppermint bark always makes for a pretty presentation!  Try doing a search on Allrecipes for bark.  You can try peppermint, or maybe a chocolate mint, etc...maybe try a few and do a little sampler of a few kinds in a tin!  I also LOVE this nutter butter bark recipe.

This would be a fun twist on those jars of cookie mixes...make your own spice mixes!  These would make great teacher gifts, of course with a label that looks cuter than a piece of tape ("Seasonings Greetings?"), and maybe some cute fabric covers over the lids.  Take a trip to Whole Foods to buy spices WAY WAY cheaper by bulk.

Cute felt pencil toppers!  I'd love to post a link to this to give the creator credit, but it was shared on Pinterest with a link to a blog that is only shared with invited readers.  (If this is yours, let me know and I'll be glad to credit you!)
Another broken Pinterest link here, so I can't share a tutorial unfortunately.  But these are coasters made from cheap 4" tiles from Home Depot.  Cut scrapbook paper into squares to fit, adhere with mod podge, and put felt on the bottom! Sweet!
Apple cake pops!  Cake pops can get real time consuming, from what I hear.  But if you're up to the challenge, these are totally adorable!
I wish I could knit, then I might try this cute knit apple!  But you could do this with crochet too.  Cute to use as a pin cushion, or just a cute decoration!

What kind of business woman would I be if I didn't promote my own products?!  ;-) I've sold quite a few of my Junk Mail Gems letter magnets to people looking for teacher gifts.  For $1 per letter you can spell the teacher's last name, or choose words like "teach" or "learn," etc. 
I also sent out a Facebook message to my fellow teacher friends.  Suggestions included things that they can really use as opposed to gifts of the knick-knack variety.  Also, you can't go wrong with gift cards!  But don't sweat the expense...they seem to me to be just as happy to have a hand written note, a picture made by the kids, or just a heartfelt verbal "thank you!"

Are you a teacher?  I'd LOVE it if you would comment on this post with your favorites and least favorite gifts to receive! (And feel free to shoot down any of the ideas I've found!) I know it would help out a lot of moms!

For more ideas for teachers and other family and friends, be sure to check out one of my posts from last year which has more fun ideas for homemade gifts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Random Blonde Mall Woman,

This post is for all of you moms who have had some stranger lecture you on how to parent your children in public.  And you, random blonde woman in the mall. Especially you.

So tonight I was a the mall in the Apple store waiting for someone to help me get a new iPhone.  Fifteen minutes into waiting for help the boys were getting antsy and wrestless and naughty.  This happens every time we go to the Apple store.  They hate to sit and wait in the stroller and I don't blame them. They were in a double stroller, Sam behind Toby.  So, naturally, Sammy starts to kick Toby in the head, and poke his ears with chopsticks from our previously enjoyed dinner at Big Bowl.  (Typical entertainment idea that pops into the head of a toddler.) Figuring that it probably would NOT benefit Toby in the long run to have chopsticks shoved into his brain, I immediately grabbed Sammy's hands, yanked the chopsticks out of his grip, and yelled, "Stop it, Sam!!"  I think my husband grabbed his chin and turned his face toward his and also yelled "stop it!"  Seems like a normal reaction to protect your youngest child from being turned into a vegetable, right? 

My hubby decides to go take the boys to the soft play area while I continue to wait.  They had a BLAST and I'm wishing my phone hadn't taken 45 minutes because I wanted to play with them too!  But, as I'm wandering around looking at stuff, this random blonde woman comes up to me and says, "excuse me, it's probably none of my business but...." oh, here we go.  I should have stopped her right there and said, "you're right, it's not!"  But, being the civil person I am, I smiled, nodded, and listened.  She went on to tell me that "when you were dealing with your kids just then, EVERYONE was watching!" (in my head: "um, so what?! I care about my kids' safety more than the opinions of random strangers!")  She goes on, "I just wanted you to know that it really bothered me to see that..." (uh, once again, so what?! Who the heck are you again? Oh that's right, some completely random stranger in a mall who knows NOTHING about me or my kids!) ... "and you know children are a GIFT!" I resist the urge to punch her in the face, figuring that it wouldn't help my case that I happen to be an insanely loving and quite capable mom.

Well, I was in such shock and disbelief all I could say was, "uh, okay," and "I didn't hurt anybody."  And to her last comment about children being a gift, as she walked away from me I added, "Believe me, I KNOW THAT." She of course had no interest in what I had to say as she walked away while I was talking. But after the fact of course I have all these things running through my head that I wish I had told her.

So, random blonde woman in the mall, if you ever come across this blog post, here is what I'd like to say to you:

#1 - Yes, you are absolutely right, it IS none of your business how I parent MY CHILDREN.

#2 - I have never hurt either of my kids, nor do I ever plan to. ever. If I were abusing my kids in public, then yes, you may be the hero of the day.  Didn't apply here.

#3 - You are telling ME that children are a gift?! You have no CLUE what we went through to get our two most precious gifts in the world and have a heck of a lot of nerve to even suggest I don't know that with every fiber of my being.  Yes, they are precious...too precious to ruin by lack of discipline or by a foot to the skull.

#4 - You say you and "everyone" in the store were "watching." I'm sorry to hear how concerned you are with what strangers think.  Must be a lot of pressure for you.  But did you happen to notice that one child was about to scramble the other's brain with a pair of chopsticks?!  Because I think if these gifts are so precious I wouldn't want one of them mutilated by the other.  And I'm guessing you didn't turn your head until we were yelling "stop it" and had no clue what we were trying to stop.

#5 - And heck, as long as you're here, why not take a stroll through my blog history.  You may notice how much I dedicate my life to my boys.  How I spend every waking and sleeping moment with them as a full time mom.  How I put their best interests above my own on a, minute-ly basis. See how happy, well adjusted, loved and blessed they are.

I am actually embarrassed to say that I let her get to me at all.  That on my way home I was so infuriated and that tears were welling up in me at the thought that anyone on the planet, even a complete stranger, was doubting that I did not love and cherish my precious boys more than life itself.

To you, random blonde woman, and all random people who think they know how others should handle their children and feel the need to tell them, I tell you this.  Unless you see someone actually ABUSING a child, not preventing physical harm like I was, Keep your opinions to yourself, because that's all they are...opinions, first reactions with absolutely no background information or context. If the first words out of your mouth are "it's probably none of my business," that's your flag to shut your mouth.  I understand you probably had good intentions, that you do have kids yourself, and that you were looking out for my kids, and I appreciate that.  But take a second to think before you judge someone you don't know based on nothing more than the information you gathered from the one thing I did that was loud enough to catch your attention in a crowded mall. Somehow I am thinking the giggles, cuddles, kisses and hugs I gave my kids that very same night in the very same mall didn't catch your attention.

And to all of my wonderful friends and family on Facebook, thank you for helping me cool my blood from a boil to a simmer.  I'm hoping it'll be lukewarm by morning.  ;-)  And from here on out I'm gonna try very hard to tune out clueless strangers and only tune into those who actually know me and my kids and care about us.  And our brains not being scrambled by chopsticks.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween, IDMommy Style

 Happy Halloween!!! Here's some random Halloween fun going on in the IDMommy's house today...

Sammy as Clifford
 Sammy wanted to be Clifford, and since I found I could buy a like-new costume on ebay for less than I could buy the material, I didn't make his.  But, I did make the little yellow tag that says "Clifford" as it really needed that!  I just used two pieces of yellow felt sandwiched together and sewn on the edges, then wrote the letters with black fabric paint.

 Toby loves Curious George, so I had fun dressing him as the Man in the Yellow Hat!  I got a new witch hat at the thrift store, spray painted it yellow, and added a band around it with some black vinyl I had in my studio.  The boots, pants, shirt and belt were also from the thrift store.  I had to take a couple trips to find yellow pants but found some!  I did have to make them shorter and smaller around the waist though as they were too big.  For his belt (which you can't see here) I just got an adult sized black belt, cut it shorter, and punched new holes in it to fit him.  The yellow shirt had a couple blue stripes sewn across it, which I removed with a seam ripper.

 Here's a close-up of the little bit of sewing I did on the shirt.  I just made a fake collar on the front and a little tie, an then glued some black felt polka dots on it.  It came out okay!  I couldn't find a yellow tie anywhere so this worked.  I just cut the shapes, folded the edges in and ironed them, then sew the edges and voila! Faked dress shirt and tie!

We did our pumpkins this morning so I'll have to share pics of those too...

Sammy isn't too interested in getting dirty so I scraped the insides loose and he helped scoop the guts out into a bowl. That was about the extent of his interest in pumpkin carving this year so I pretty much did all the work, which is fine, because I love carving pumpkins!

 If you're new to pumpkin carving, here are a few tips...
1) as shown above, don't just cut a circle, put a "V" shape somewhere around your circle.  This will help you line the lid up perfectly every time when you cover it.  Little trick I learned from my dad!  
2) Cut at an angle as shown above.  If you cut straight, your lid won't sit on top; it'll fall inside! 
3) Make sure you cut the hole big enough for your hand to get in, and more importantly, out of the pumpkin to clean it out!

So, Here's what I did this year...

Toby loves George, as we've established earlier, so I made him a George pumpkin! I was gonna just do a face, but found this image of George floating away on his kite on a Google image search and liked it.  I used some brown acrylic paint and a sharpie for the black.

 I can take NO credit for this great lantern design idea...I found it on Pinterest! The original link can be found here, on Country Living.  Such a fun idea.  I didn't use their templates but they are easy enough! I used a drill for the little holes and a permanent marker for the black.  Much simpler than they look.

And last but certainly not least, the semi-truck monster truck pumpkin!  Sammy is currently obsessed with monster trucks, and wanted a monster truck pumpkin.  We scrolled through images of monster trucks on the web and chose this one that looks like a big rig.  I think my new favorite pumpkin carving tool is my cordless drill!  I used it for all the round lights, and also for the corners of all the spots I cut out.  I used some paint pens for the color and the metallic silver, which worked great!

After a little pumpkin carving, fun with Play Doh, and playing in the yard, we had lunch.  I made some "super special cheesy Halloween toast"...

So, that's our day so far!  The boys are resting up now so they'll have lots of energy to go trick-or-treating with Daddy after supper!

Hope you and your family have a fun and safe Halloween!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

ID Mommy Tip: Blaze Orange. it's Not Just for Hunters Anymore!

I think many moms would agree that one of the most tiring things about taking your kids out to busy, crowded places is trying to keep your eye on them.  I've always tried to dress my boys in bright colors whenever we go on a play date to a playground, or any other place with lots of kids, so that I could easily pick them out of a crowd.

Recently I picked up this blaze orange hoodie at a garage sale for a buck, and boy does that thing stand out!  I guess those hunters know what they are doing when it comes to visibility.

A couple weeks ago he wore it to our visit to a local orchard, where we went with some friends from church.  Hmm, what do you think...can you spot my kid in these pictures?


It seems like such a trivial little thing, but wow, I have to say that simply lifting my eyes and immediately spotting my child took away so much of the stress that comes with keeping track of my kids! 

Now if only I could find one just like it in Toby's size, I'd be all set, as he was the one I had to really chase after...heck, I could almost sit down and have a conversation with another adult and possibly even get one coherent thought out of my head without interrupting myself by frantically scanning the crowd!!! Now THAT is one mind blowing benefit of blaze orange hunting gear!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making Tie Dye Shirts for Halloween!

Sammy and I had a blast making some Halloween tie dye shirts a week or so ago, using a kit I got at Michael's with my 40% off coupon.  They also had t-shirts for $2, but you could easily use any old white shirt or pick one up at a thrift store!

First I had to wash the shirts, with no fabric softener.  I pulled them out of the washing machine and, leaving them wet, we put rubber bands on them...
 One for Sammy, one for Toby, and one for Mommy!

Sammy got a kick out of the plastic gloves!
 The kit was super easy...just add water to the bottles which already had powdered dye in them, and shake!  Then apply with the bottle.  I was picturing myself having to mix up buckets of dye and do it out in the back yard, but this was nice, neat, and simple enough for this almost-4-yr-old to do with a little help!

Sammy applying the orange dye up to the rubber band

Finishing off the dye

I set them on a foil lined cookie sheet, with a piece of plastic wrap over them, for 8 hours or so.
 Then comes the fun part...opening them up and seeing how they turned out!  The instructions had some cute ideas for jack-o-lantern and spider web designs and we pretty much followed those closely.  I kindof made mine up as a spinoff of Sammy's pumpkin shirt, with 3 pumpkins...
 Then after you wash them and dry them you can add some designs with the fabric paint. The kit also came with a glow-in-the-dark paint but I just used this black:

Here are our 3 shirts all done!  Toby won't fit into his until at least next year, as the smallest shirt Michael's had was still too big for him.  But, I think I like his the best, with the spider web!


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