Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I'm awake!!" "Haha! Yes you are!!"
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great meal with friends and family! Then we spent the night at Nini's and Grandpa's house. E was so happy to have time with her cousins. They had a cute, little cat named Nugget who she really took to. She spent most of the evening feeding him food and petting him. She was so giddily happy, she'd just laugh and cover her face every time she saw the cat. It was so sweet! This morning, she's happily playing with the toys at Nini's while we eat a home cooked breakfast and watch TV. I'm so relaxed I just want to go back to bed...

I have to work this morning, then I'm going to take some much needed time off. I'll be back on Sunday or Monday, and by then we should have our Christmas tree up! Also, we're taking E to her first movie today -- Frozen! I'm so excited! Last but not least, I have some fun craft ideas for the week ahead and hope to have some free downloads available if you want to join us in our art endeavors over at A Happy Muddled Mess!

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and are slowly coming out of your turkey (or tofurkey) comas today!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marker Watercolors

I thought E may be tired of painting today, but she was happy to get out the brushes. At first she just tried to drink the paint water, but she was more interested when I started drawing with markers then using water to brush the marker ink across the page.

I was impressed how quickly she picked up different brush techniques -- smushing it into the paper, letting the water drip off the brush, and splattering water on the page. She loved watching the water react with the marker ink and bleed into the paper.

I drew the brown vines and let her do the rest!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Happy Muddled Mess

Super happy to unveil our new, little "sister site" -- A Happy Muddled Mess!

As mentioned in my way-too-long Facebook post, I hope to grow it into something BIG!

Here is my little blurb about it!

Ok, ok, so I promise that I didn't *exactly* create another entirely new blog... I only *kind of* did. After spending a good chunk of time in the recliner last week, I made myself settle on some type of long term hobby/business model that I could grow and develop as my life changes. My life has always revolved around art and music, so why not develop that and share it with E and others, in a much more significant way?

So, for starters, I made an art journal site for me and E, with plans to turn it into a business in the long run, when life calms down a bit... to eventually integrate some different programs, events, local participation, and community outreach -- to put myself out there more. I resisted doing this, even publicly advertising YMIS, because I felt I had no direction. I think this site is better focused on what I want to do long term, even though I haven't entirely, 100% figured that out yet. I'm closer, and that's a huge deal for me!

And, for now, this site is just a platform for those long-term plans... Sorry for the huge post... just thinking "out loud" a bit.

Anyway, YMIS is still going strong and will still be where the majority of my writing lives. But our art projects will live on our new site where I hope others will join us in creating: A Happy, Muddled Mess!

Mixed Media Mashup

Since this is a short week before our 4-day Thanksgiving weekend, E and I are just creating some mixed media art.

We made two abstract pieces this afternoon using some miscellaneous art supplies -- stencils, markers, pencils, and watercolors. E scribbled, and I colored in the shapes!

I used a toilet paper roll dipped in paint to make circles. I also loved how the watercolor blended with the marker. I'm already planning some fun watercolor activities for E that involve just painting over our marker drawings on watercolor paper.

Next week, we're going to be making prints from all different objects found around the house. Can't wait!

If you want to share your own kid creations with us and other readers, use #HMMartsubmit in your Instagram captions. Your images will automatically appear in the slideshow on our home page!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Granny Square Advent Pockets

I wanted to buy E a special advent calendar this year, but we're going to be broke until the first week of December... Such is life!

In the meantime, I decided to make some crocheted advent "pockets" to hang on the Christmas tree -- E can take one off the tree each day of December and find a little "prize" inside -- a piece of candy, some stickers, etc.

My hope was to make 24 pockets altogether, but I'll most likely only finish 12 and have to refill them halfway through the month. Ah well, if I make any more compromises on this project, I'll be left with an advent ball of yarn.

I considered doing a tutorial video for these, but there are quite a few good YouTube tutorials for granny squares. I made mine about 3" x 3" and stitched them together using basic slip stitches around the outside (leaving one side open, of course). I'm sure you could also sew these together or use any type of stitch you prefer for connecting your crochet pieces.

If you have any other questions about how I made these, feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

Hello Snow!

E loves the snow! We bundled her up this morning -- usual attire -- boots, snow pants, coat, hat, mittens. Mark dressed in the same. I donned my supportive boot on my broken foot. Haha! Snow hobbler on the loose!

We went out to the back of our lot where the most snow was piled up. Mark put E down and started making some snowballs. She freaked out -- not in a good way. It was so cold out, and the wind was blowing in her face. She only wanted us to hold her.

Even Mark's snow angel didn't impress her. We took her to play on the back porch, out of the wind. After a few minutes, she opened the door and went inside. We were out for maybe 20 minutes...

Still, I made her hot cocoa and a warm lunch and took some pics with my digital SLR.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Okay

One of E's newest phrases is, "I'm okay!"

Being a mom with anxiety, this is music to my ears! Even after she takes a tumble or pinches her fingers in a door, the sound of those two certain words, "I'm okay," triggers a sigh of relief from me.

Last week, we were out shopping, and I had stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I threw it in the cart with E. A few minutes later, I noticed her eating something. She was holding the prescription box, but it was clear that it wasn't open. Still, I worried something had been stuck to the outside of the box, something that she was eating...

She immediately noticed the look of concern on my face and said, exasperated, "Just pretend, Mommy! I'm okay."

Whew. Ok!

Somehow she's learned to respond to even the subtlest look of terror in my eyes with a, "Geez, Ma! I'm totally fine!" attitude.

As much as I hate that she has to have that attitude with me at 2-years-old, I'm so grateful that we're figuring each other out, that we're forming this funny little mother-daughter relationship.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tea for Two

I hobbled with my broken foot over to E's crib this morning and scooped her up.

"I need doggie, Mommy."
"And my new blankie. And kitty. And that blankie... And that doggie."

I filled my arms with all her security items until I almost couldn't see over the bundle. E tucked her head under my chin, buried her face in all her favorite stuffed animals and blankies and let out a sigh.

I took her out into the living room and put all the stuffed animals and blankets on the couch, but she didn't want me to put her down yet. So, I hobbled into the kitchen, toddler on my hip. I made myself some tea with honey to help my sore throat.

"I want tea, Mommy," E mumbled, so I poured some tea into a cup for her. It was decaf. With the promise of a grown-up tea cup, E happily got out of my arms and curled up on the couch. She was so happy to sit and have morning tea with me.

"This just like Bee's tea, Mommy!" Yes, Auntie Bee loves her tea!
"That's right! I love tea, too, it's so cozy!"

We sat and visited for a long time about the bandage on my foot, how it was a cold morning, the fire drill at day care yesterday, and which craft activities we would do when she got home. It was such a sweet morning with her. Then she went off to day care with Mark.

I'm home a few more days nursing my foot and this awful case of strep throat, looking for more craft ideas to keep E busy when she gets home in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crafts and Chaos

Yesterday, Mark was desperate to get some more work done in the afternoon. With my broken foot and strep throat on the mend, he's had to get Ellie from day care at 2pm and bring her home to me. Then, he works in our home office/bedroom/storage shed into the evening.

On Monday, this didn't really work, because E was much too busy and cranky for me to keep up with. She hadn't had a nap, so she was a beast, trying to escape out the front door, and running back and forth terrorizing us. Recliner-parenting wasn't going to be sufficient.

So, yesterday, I told Mark that I would come up with an afternoon plan, and I set up a few craft projects in preparation of her return. Luckily, he brought me a freshly-rested toddler! As soon as she came in the door, I got her settled at the table with two projects.

One was from my sister's day care curriculum -- a fresh twist on the classic hand-print turkey.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Guess Which Weekend Event Is False

Allow me to sum up my weekend... One of the following is not true:
  1. E ate a Tootsie Pop for breakfast on Saturday morning.
  2. On Sunday, I sat down on an old chair.
  3. It shattered.
  4. My foot hit the underside of the table when I fell.
  5. I broke my toe.
  6. I spent an hour in the ER getting wheeled around, x-rayed, and set up with crutches and a boot.
  7. The doctor demonstrated how the human foot moves by running his hand up and down my thigh.
  8. The nurse was the same nurse who I thought was kidnapping E from the nursery when I was in the maternity ward 2 years ago. I told him that and recounted me stumbling through the nursery door at 4am and demanding, "What's going on!?"
  9. He said, "I'll never forget that..."

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Hear Sleigh Bells!

Rearranged the living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree!

And so it begins – my Christmas quest. I spent yesterday afternoon rearranging our living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree. I still have some more decorating and decluttering to do, but it's getting there!

Would you believe that Mark is actually considering getting a real tree again this year?? Yeah, me neither.

This year, I was content to put up ol’ faithful, the “plastic disaster” – our $20 WalMart tree that we bought when we first moved in. We bought it out back, in the Lawn & Garden section. A masculine woman knocked it off the top shelf of a warehouse pile, and it fell 30 feet to, what we thought, was its certain death and dismemberment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ready for Christmas Cheer

First year with a real tree -- Christmas 2010.
‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and crotchety, old bookstore ladies!

Yesterday, E and I went to the bookstore just to browse. We sat down on the floor to look at some books. The woman working the counter sounded annoyed that we were there, as she grumpily said, “Can I help you?”

We had just sat down, and it was clear that I was just helping E look at books. E is always good with her books, but a few minutes later the woman yelled, “Hey! Don’t bend that book back!”

“She’s absolutely fine!” I said.

Beside the fact that she wasn’t bending the book back, I was supervising just to be sure she was being gentle.

“Well, she’s too young, and I thought she would bend them.”
“Well, she’s not,” I said.
E piped up, “I want to go home, Mommy!”
“Me too!” I said loudly, “and I have no desire to come back!”

Don’t yell at my child because you think she might misbehave! How rude! Bookstores are supposed to be fun!

We spent the rest of the time browsing the mercantile downstairs, where no one else yelled at us for picking up items to look at.

Ugh. Now I’m ready for some holiday cheer, some hometown friendliness, and some Christmas magic!

Tonight I’m hoping to rearrange the living room to make room for our Christmas tree, which I hope to pick up the day after Thanksgiving this year. I’m so excited for E to experience this Christmas. She’ll be so much more aware. I’m making the most of it and starting as early as possible, and spreading some holiday love -- despite Grinchy old ladies!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vacation Success!

On our way down Hunter Mountain!
Hello, friends! So, you may have noticed (at least I hope you did) that I’ve been pretty quiet over the last week. That’s because we were on our first official family vacation of the year! We rented a house in the Catskills with a group of friends (a yearly tradition) and spent time enjoying some much-needed relaxation in front of a TV, fireplace, and on the mountain – playing disc golf and enjoying some park time! We also had many good cooks among us who created some delicious meals including ziti with homemade sauce, taco soup and nachos, and baguette French toast with cinnamon butter glaze (drools). After E was in bed, we drank too much wine and soda and stayed up until all hours playing Cards Against Humanity – oh the inappropriate humor! I woke up every morning sore from laughing.

E did great on the trip, but the fact remains that we brought a toddler to an otherwise adult party. I felt bad when people held back their swearing, and I insisted that we didn’t mind. I felt guilty when, after a night of restlessness, she cried and whined a lot for most of the next day. Typical toddler behavior that I dealt with as patiently as I could.

Dinnertime! Scarf it, Mark!
When we arrived the first night, we were surprised to find that the half of the house that was shown online, the main living area, was, indeed, beautifully kept, had a nice, new kitchen and cozy fireplace – but the other half of the house looked like something out of a 1970s horror movie – teal wood paneling, half detached from the wall, nails sticking out in places; cobwebs and closet-spiders galore; and rickety old beds with equally old bedding (though it smelled clean). Over my bed, I even found what I believed to be blood spatter. I’ve seen enough episodes of Forensic Files to recognize the aftermath of blunt-force trauma, and I was certain I had uncovered evidence of a grizzly murder scene… or possibly a nail-painting session gone awry in the 1980s with polish shade #105 – Like, Totally Wicked Red. It’s anyone’s guess, but as I curled up in bed with my True Crime novel, my mind wandered, and my anxiety rose.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Note to Self: Always Wear Pants

Yesterday, I put on my skinny jeans. Ugh. They fit okay in the waist… even though I haven’t run in the last two weeks and still have a weakness for mini-cans of Coca Cola (Lord, help me), but they were snug in the legs, so when we got home, sitting on the floor with E was a bit of a challenge. I shook them off and opted to run around in a t-shirt and undies. Our apartment is on the third floor and always gets too hot anyway, so I was comfortable.

I went about making some dinner, boiling some macaroni. E must have shared my feelings about the 80-degree kitchen. As soon as she spilled a bit of milk on her shirt, it was a good enough excuse to wrestle her way out of it. Ok.

At that moment, the timer for the macaroni beeped, then the corn.

From the stove, I glanced over my shoulder to check on E. She was over in the corner, by the door, up to something – I think she was hoarding a piece of cracker she found on the floor.

“What do you have?” I asked suspiciously.

That was enough to trigger her flight instinct. She grabbed the doorknob in a storm of giggles. She could only get the door open about a half-foot, so I waited to see what she would do. Apparently, that was all she needed to squirm through. I rushed to her side, reached for her arm, but she quickly made it outside and into the hallway.

I ran after her, forgetting that we live in a building that has one other apartment and a business on the other side of the hall, and that I was in my underwear…

I realized my situation once I was in the hall, pant-less, in a very public, drafty place. I hid behind a corner wall and peeked around to see where E was. She was standing against the opposite wall, no shirt on, giggling, next to one of the office doors, waiting for my next move.

I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, as no one had come out of the office yet, and it was 5:00 PM -- only a matter of time before the end-of-business-day mass-exodus.

“Ellie! Come here!” I whisper-yelled.

She laughed harder.

“Ellie, right now!!” a little louder…

I heard some commotion on the other side of the office door, so I ducked back into our apartment. Most of the employees know me and E, so I wasn’t too worried about someone finding her out there. I might just look like a not-so-great mom who has no idea where my half-dressed kid is... I ran in my bedroom and grabbed my jeans, throwing them on quickly.

I ran back out in the hall. Someone had come out of the office and must have scared her. She was now standing, pouting, terrified outside our door. I quickly pulled her inside.

I told her that she couldn’t just leave whenever she wanted – that I didn’t want to lose her or have her get hurt out there, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. I’ll do better next time.

No burnt food, slightly over-cooked macaroni, and no one saw me in my skivvies. I'm counting this as a parenting win.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Running Away From Ham

E having a sad moment at day care.
I feel like every morning is like the Amazing Race, even today, though more successful than yesterday, was a blur of lunch boxes, neon pink clothing, curls, and one orange sneaker. Then the sounds -- of my nagging voice, Mark’s calm one, and one whiney toddler. Oh, the whining…

“Use your big girl voice.”
But I don’t want to wear a shirt….!
“Here. How about this purple one?”
“No, no, no!!”

And, off she runs, to hide in the corner near the front door.

I finally grab the first shirt I find and try to make it fun… It is the I Rode the Prudent Living Train t-shirt – 3 sizes too big, but I’m desperate. I also realize that it’ll require a warmer sweatshirt over it, but I decide to deal with that later (or let the day care teacher handle it).

“Here you go, how about a train shirt!?”
“YEAH!!” she cheers.

Yeah, happy toddler! I keep my cheer to myself, not wanting to jinx it, then take advantage of the next few minutes of happiness to get her diaper changed, pants and socks on.

Then I find a sweatshirt. But she wants a fleece sweater. Ok, fleece sweater it is. NO, now she wants the sweatshirt. I put both on the floor for her to choose and put on. She picks the sweatshirt.

Mark helps her into her shoes, then she runs up to me in the kitchen, where I’m finishing up her lunch.

“Mommy, I want ham, please!”
“You can have a piece,” I say, as I attempt to hand her a slice.
“NOOOooo!! I want that plate!”
“That’s the plate with your sandwich on it. You can have another plate for your slice of ham.”

I hand her a paper plate with a slice of ham on it. She screams “Nooo,” and throws it on the floor. And, now I’m ticked off. I am patient, and I have raised a good kid. I pick my battles wisely, sometimes letting her do things I wouldn’t normally encourage, because she asks nicely. And, 90% of the time, I have an angel – she knows that she will usually get what she wants (within reason), if she is gentle, nice, and does not whine. And, when I do say "No," she knows that there is an alternative solution -- a compromise, so we have fewer temper-tantrums. We discuss more, we bargain. We communicate. I'm proud of how far we've come.

But, when we do discuss, compromise, communicate, and I give her what she wants, and she throws it on the floor. ARGH!

“Absolutely not! You will pick up that plate right now!”
“Excuse me?? You don’t say no to me. Pick it up now.”

She refuses, so I lead her over to the plate to help me pick it up and put the ham in the garbage. Then she runs back to her corner to pout. I go back to finishing up her lunch.

Then I hear the door close.

Mark says, “Did she just?”
“Yep, she just left,” I said, nonchalantly.
“I’ll go get her.”

“Okay.” Fine. Whatever. She can’t get far, can’t open the door at the top of the stairs. But, did my not-even-2-year-old just run away from home for the first time? Because of… ham? I cringe to think what other tricks she’ll have up her sleeve in a few more months.

Mark came in holding her. She wore an exaggerated pout, pointed right in my direction, from the safety of his arms.

She got her coat on, and somehow we all managed to get out the door on time, hugs and kisses, and I-love-yous all around.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Can I Just Say...

YAWWWNNN... Ugh. What a Monday morning. Mark and I had complete communication failure this morning. Yesterday, I had asked him if he would mind bringing E to day care, so that I could get to work at a more decent time (since I have to be to work earlier than him).

He swears he agreed to this, but all I remember is him wandering off silently to never speak of it again. As usual, I interpreted this as a "no" and went about my Monday morning as usual. I got myself ready, made lunches, then turned around to find Mark all ready but not E.

"What's going on?" I asked.
"I'm just getting myself ready. You're getting her ready, right?" he said, sleepily.
"No. I don't know. Why?"
"The new plan, right? You get her ready, then I take her to day care?" he asked.
"Did we agree to that? You didn't say anything."
"Yeah, I did. I was like, 'Oh yeah, fine.'"
"Yeah... 99% sure you didn't say anything."
"Well, are we doing it or not? I can go either way with this..."

So, I rushed to get E ready in time for him to take her to day care, trying to make sure that he wasn't late for work.

Once they were gone, I proceeded to clean the kitchen, look everywhere for the key to the office (which I never found -- thank God for early-arriving coworkers who could let me in this morning), and plopped down in my chair at work ready to conquer my day.

Then I had a meltdown, because I didn't get to see her off to day care, as I have almost every day for the past year and a half. I can't get her face out of my mind, her big eyes, looking up at me all confused, asking, "You take me, Mommy?" and me having to tell her, "No, Daddy will take you today, but I'll pick you up."

My little 1.75-year-old, looked up at Mark, then back at me. Then, she reached out for his hand and casually walked out the door. No tears. I know this is a good thing, but sometimes I'm not ready for her to be so grown up.

And, in this moment, a (relatively) smooth Monday morning getting out the door leaves me a nervous wreck and weepy. This mom stuff is so weird...

Up next: grocery shopping, dinner prep, cleaning the apartment, then getting ready to head off to New York on Wednesday for our very first 7-day vacation with friends (and E)!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

From The Craft Table

Just wanted to say a happy "Hello!" from our craft table today -- where there's more paint on the table than on the paper, our limbs are more decorated than our canvas, and our accidental-art approach takes "mixed media" to a whole new level!

E climbs up on the table -- she insists on sitting on the table top, so all her tools are within reach.

"I want black paper, Mommy. And red paint," she insists, very seriously instructing me on the preparation of her supplies. I happily comply, curious about what she might create. She continues to politely list her needs:

"Some yellow paint here now." She points at the bottom left corner of her page.

"Mommy, can we make orange?"

I quickly show her the two tubes of red and yellow paint and begin mixing. She scoops some up with her brush and continues to work away.

Then blue. It glows against the black paper. She squeals with delight as she spreads it across the page.

"Now I need those paints, Mommy." She points to her watercolors and adds, "Need some water."

I go and fill one of her little play teacups with a little water. She takes it from me and very carefully pours the water across each of her watercolors (and drenches the case). She dips her fingers in paint, then her paintbrush, and begins making dots on the paper. She carefully watches how the watercolors are absorbed by the paper. She tries each color until she finds just the right one.

"Purple! Oooh, purple!" she says. The purple is only partially absorbed by the black paper and creates areas of shadow and light -- a grungy but shimmery effect. She smiles happily, then dots the purple across the page.

By now she tires of painting the page and proceeds to paint the table (ok), pen cup (alright), bulletin board (um, well...), and lamp (wait a minute...). I reach for her, but she squirms away from me, legs flail over her painting, watercolors tip and spill.

I get her in the bathroom for cleanup, which must happen completely by her terms. "No bath," she insists, though standing in the tub to wash her hands and legs is acceptable.

"If you just want to sit down," I offer...
"No, no, no, Mommy."

Sitting down would qualify this cleanup time as a "bath," which may lead to the inconvenient "washing up time" in which there will be no avoiding the torturous "hair cleaning."

Half a bottle of soap later, her hands are washed, a task that distracted her enough to allow me to wipe most the paint off her legs. She runs off to play, and I wipe down the table.

Tomorrow, we'll start again.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our HappyMess!!

Ok, so I know that I've been saying "More art!!" on the blog for awhile now, but now I have the inspiration to actually follow through!!

Lately, doing art projects with E has been more "mess" than creation -- which is creation, really, I know. And, E has been running around saying "happiness" as "happy-mess" which is, quite honestly, adorable. I wanted to change my entire blog name to "Our HappyMess" and start fresh doing only art projects from now on, but... you know me, next week, I'll be into... um, fly fishing or something.

So, my sister-in-law suggested maybe just making that one part of the blog... She knows me so well. I may even just make it a weekly feature, who knows...

But anyway, the point is... while looking for fun things to add to my Amazon wishlist... I stumbled upon the Art Lab books. Wow! I guess I'm late to the Art Lab scene. The author of the drawing/mixed media Art Lab book, shown here, was -- Carla Sonheim! I had never heard of her, so I Googled her... and do you know what I found out??

She has a BLOG -- the Art of Silliness (and an Etsy shop)! She even posted today! I commented right away, of course. She has online classes, and free online tutorials! And, I'm just so inspired to do more fun, silly art projects with my amazing kid -- more messes, more creativity, less of me saying, "Careful, that's permanent marker!" and more of me saying, "Let's create! Let's explore!"

I just hope that E is up for it this weekend! Maybe some left over Halloween candy at the craft table will sweeten the deal! Of course, I'll post all of our creations here.

Check out this sweet, "blob" illustration from Carla's site, found on her Go Blob Hunting Tutorial page!

Wonderful Halloween!

So, what do I do when I'm too tired the day after to write about our Halloween?? I direct you to my sister-in-law's site to see pics and read a beautiful post about Halloween in a small town. I felt like I had grown up there with them!

We had such a nice time with family! We did crafts and danced at the town hall, trick-or-treated in the parking lot, went on a hayride through town, then back to Nini's house for pizza and candy!

E got out some of Nini's toys and played for a long time in the living room. She was so happy to talk about the entire adventure this morning on her way into day care.

"I dance in the lights," she said, and "I eat candy!"