Sunday, January 22, 2012

Affordable Art Space

Occasionally on this blog I'll post a "mommy win" that comes out of a mommy fail.  We should celebrate the small victories, right?

Mommy fail: Sometimes I get discouraged that I can't offer my children the amazing playspaces other parents can, or afford time at a play center. I see pictures like this and get discouraged. I know my children would wreck this play space in 2.4 seconds.
We have a play room in our house with all their "stations" like painting, Play-Doh, blocks, legos, etc in their own containers. Not as accessible as I'm sure any homeschool or preschool teacher would want, but they're visible and all they have to do is ask.

My kids love to paint. They like to mix the colors, smash the paintbrush or foam brush, swirl, fingerpaint, even taste (blech). But have you seen the prices on fingerpaints or Tempura paints? and special "leak proof" paper, that won't seep onto your dining room table? Small fortunes. So what's a thrifty mommy to do?

Mommy win:
With a little creativity and advanced planning, you can have TONS of fun for very little money!

Suggested supplies:
  • Egg carton: styrofoam is best so you can rinse and re-use. 
  • Brown Paper Bags: like from the grocery store. Each time you head to the supermarket, just ask for one paper bag to supplement your re-usable canvas bags.
  • Baby Jars: If you happened to have some lying around, ask a friend who has a little one, or browse Freecycle or Craigslist for someone junking them. Honestly, even salsa jars, spaghetti jars, or any jars from your pantry before you recycle them.
  • Sponges: If you don't feel like purchasing some cheap foam brushes (I got 25 assorted foam brushes from Joann's Fabrics for $5.99), you can cut up Dollar Store sponges into different shapes (use cookie cutters!) and hot-glue them to tongue depressors or popsicle sticks. Or, leave them be for little hands!
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Tape
  • Old T-shirt
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  • Food Coloring
  • Water
  • CAMERA!!
First, make your own finger paints.  This recipe was taken from another mommy blogger:

  1. Combine 3Tbsp sugar, 1/2tsp salt, 1/2c cornstarch, and 2c water in a small saucepan.
  2. Warm until mixture thickens
  3. Cool and pour into containers (your baby jars!)
  4. Add food coloring to create desired colors. Remember your color wheel? You can make purple if you only have red and blue!
Prepare your workspace:

  1. Cut your paper bag open
  2. Tape to the cookie sheet
  3. Arrange different colors of paint (make sure it's cooled if you just made it) into your egg carton. If you have more than one child, just cut a dozen egg carton into two!
  4. Give a few sponges, paintbrushes, etc.
  5. Outfit your monster, er, child in the old adult T-shirt (fun tip: next time you're at the dentist, ask the hygienist for a spare disposable gown. They're AWESOME for crafts for the kids! I've used the two I've gotten for over a dozen times!)
Offer the paper-covered cookie sheet, paints, and accouterments to your little one and enjoy!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water Beads

Sibling rivalry has its place in families. With our siblings, we learn how to negotiate, fight, work as a team. It's with your brother or sister you figure out where that invisible line is in an argument that you don't want to cross in the real world.

It's also a huge pain in your mother's ass.

I am fairly certain I am raising a future CEO or dictator in my oldest who is determined to own every, single toy the moment his younger brother even considers playing with it. Every night I'm so glad I did not become a lawyer because the conflict management and negotiation that occurs between 6 and 8 every night is enough for my taste.  Ben squeals, Jack yells "MINE!" and mom (and dad) intervenes. Five minutes later, repeat.

Tonight, while attempting to heat up my dinner (for the second time) at 7:45pm, Ben was squealing, Jack was yelling "GIMME THE BEADS BEN!!!!" and I was mediating from the next room. This went on for about 10 minutes. I'll be honest, I went purely on previous experience and assumed Jack was doing something to piss his brother off and Jack got the bulk of the blame. Okay, all of the blame.

Finally tired of the squealing and in need of some sort of peace if only for 2 minutes for me to eat my lousy dinner, I walked into the playroom to discover the err of my ways. Ben took the entire bowl of dog water, dragged it to the playroom, and then proceeded to dunk about a dozen Mardi Gras bead necklaces into the water and then fling it against the wall and patio door. Jack was attempting to STOP the flinging.

Mommy fail.

Moral of the story - not every squeal and every "STOOOOOOOOOPPPPP!!!" is the same. Also, maybe eating in peace is overrated.

Friday, March 18, 2011

burst your bubble, er...balloon

This is a two fails with one stone story for you...bribery and property damage.

Jack is potty training and for the longest time did not want to do #2 in the potty. My years of psychology suggest control, stubborness, etc. Apparently this control and stubborness only extends to the HOME potty since he is perfectly capable from christening every other toilet in the greater Columbus area (grandma, sitter's, even the YMCA nursery!). So to get him to do what we wanted, we offered an incentive.

A bribe.

Mommy fail #1 - bribing your child to get them to do what you want.

Call it incentives, enticing, negotiating, bargaining. Or call it what it is - bribing.

Take a dump, get a balloon. It's how the real world operates in one way or another, so why not start early?

Jack finally connected with the home potty (sounds like mothership or home base, but anyway). So, we're off for a balloon. Every grocery store seemed to only have sympathy or happy birthday balloons. Honestly, as a side note, who the hell gives balloons when someone dies? So sorry for your loss, here's a helium balloon? Really?

So we're off to the craft stores. We go to the Flower Factory (think BJ's Wholesale club for crafters), just Jack and I for some mommy-first born time alone. We shop, try on different goofy hats and feather boas, and then choose a Micky Mouse Happy Birthday balloon over Thomas. Wait patiently in line while trying EVERY toy in the checkout line to only find they're out of helium. If we buy the balloon, it's not blown up, and therefore is NOT part of the deal. Explaining this to a 3yo at 8:30pm on a weeknight is reinforcing the bribe portion of the story. More negotiating.

We leave to go to Party City, and the first question is "do you have helium?" After weird looks but confirmation of supply, we head to the balloon section. Good LORD the selection. Jack eyes the Pixar Cars Lighting McQueen balloon and I figure we're going to go big or go home. We get the $8.99, size of a small child balloon. Jack's so proud and I have him tell the lady why he's getting a balloon. I POOPED! I had to make the trip worth it in some way, and the cashier's reaction was priceless enough.

We get home and have the requisite, you have to share with your brother - but he didn't poop in the potty conversation, then off to bed. The next day, the balloon is sinking. By Thursday, it's on the ground. Uncool. After a few times hearing, "Mommy my balloon is broken" I decide to return to Party City with the half-deflated Cars balloon bribe and ask for a new one.

Party City was extremely accommodating and blew up a new balloon. I was so proud of my son, and now proud of myself. I was able to fix a mistake that disappointed my son. I was able to fulfill a promise and tomorrow morning when he wakes up he'll be reminded of the good job he did and continue on the potty training bandwagon.

I get home and popped the damned balloon.

First I bribe, then I pop the balloon AFTER I fixed it.

So now Party City is closed, I'm without a balloon, and I'm hoping my 3yo's attention span is as short as the life of a large, $8.99 Pixar Lighting McQueen balloon.

Mommy fail.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sign Language

Here and there we've been teaching our youngest (DOB 9/2009) a few signs to have in his vocabulary. It can't hurt, right? Besides, ASL for kids is trendy so there's lots of information out there.

I've been working on the sign for "milk" to be used interchangeably for drink. He ALMOST has it. Then I chuckled to myself remembering "Meet the Parents."

Oh crap (literally).

My sign for milk is actually the sign for poop.

For reference, here's the sign for both.

Mommy fail.