Tuesday, November 12, 2013

3 Recent Brilliant Helpful Ideas

Brilliant Idea #1
After trick-or-treating, any time your kids start to fight with each other, talk back to you, or "forget" to do something they've been told, you don't have to say a thing! Just walk over to their candy bag/bowl/pile and start eating. Do this each time and it will either cut down on fighting, talking back, and "forgetting", or, since you have to suffer, you can do it while eating something delicious!

Brilliant Idea #2
When the children come out of their rooms after the bedtime routine (brushing teeth, using the potty, getting on pajamas, reading stories, saying GOOD NIGHT), we have been giving them extra chores to do, but this has lost effectiveness with the older boys. So, lately, when the 11 year old or 14 year old boy comes out after bedtime, Husband escorts him back to his room and gives him an earnest, informative speech about something necessary, but generally awkward to bring up, like puberty! Or the birds and the bees! Or girls!

GENIUS.

Brilliant Idea #3
It took ONE TIME of every child getting on winter gear to go outside and play in the snow and then returning to the house and leaving a trail of wet winter gear in their wake for me to lose my mind decide that Something had to be done.

Meet Something:

This lovely over-the-door, wire shoe organizer may be purchased at T@rget for about $16 or delivered right to your door from Amazon for about $20.
It was assembled with minimal swearing effort on my part. (I suggest hanging it and THEN attaching the shoe holder things.)

MUCH. BETTER.

*fist pump*

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Being Pecked To Death By Ducks (Come, Play Along!)

As I've been emotionally exhausted lately, it has reminded me of another time I felt like this, when Ian was 3 years 8 months and David was nearly 2. That time, it occurred to me that I might be worn out because a certain someone NEVER. STOPPED. TALKING. So, I kept track of his questions for one day, and was surprised to learn that, on average, I was answering 106 questions each day from one little boy.

I've noticed for a while now that I find myself, in the latter half of the day, feeling agitated and snapping whenever a child wants my attention, so, today, for about 12 hours, I kept track of all of the times a person demanded my attention, usually when I was doing something else already, and often when I was in the middle of talking to another person who had just barely demanded my attention. (I did not write down every question or request; only the instances of wanting my attention for something different than the last time they wanted my attention. I also did not count the times I demanded the other person's attention for something first.) Every time someone wanted me for something, I looked at a clock and recorded the time and the person. I noted a few instances of pets wanting my attention, but didn't record most of those, and I know I automatically responded to the children a few times without remembering to write it down.

(If you aren't interested in the details, scroll down to the end.)

H-Husband
I-Ian
D-David
M-Marie
Jo-Joseph
Je-Jeffrey

*6:45 A.M. Get up. Only one child is awake. Head downstairs to workout. Cat follows me down, sits on a box, and stares at me the entire time I'm working out. Dog comes down once or twice to stare at me and wag his tail hopefully.
7:05 (I)
7:12 (M)
*7:20 Start workout
7:32 (I)
7:33 (I)
7:40 (I)
7:44 (H)
8:04 (Jo)
     8:04:57 (Je)
*8:05 Work out is over. I try to head upstairs to take a shower.
     8:05:30 (Je)
8:12 (H)
*Shower time!
8:40 (I)
8:48 (D)
8:54 (D)
8:57 (D)
8:59 (I)
     8:59:30 (D)
*9:00 Time for morning music and scripture reading
     9:00:02 (D)
     9:00:20 (Je)
     9:00:31 (Jo)
9:02 (Jo)
9:11 (Je)
     9:11:10 (I)
9:15 (Je)
9:16 (Jo)
9:20 (Je)
9:27 (D)
9:28 (I)
*9:30 Time to start spelling lessons
9:31 (M)
9:34 (D)
9:40 (Jo)
10:00 (Jo)
10:09 (M)
*10:15 Time to start stations (Children rotate through 4 different "stations" with 6 different activities.)
10:20 (M)
10:21 (M)
10:32 (M)
10:33 (I)
10:35 (Jo)
     10:35:20 (I)
10:39 (Je)
10:43 (A)
10:45 (Jo)
10:55 (Je)
10:56 (Je)
10:59 (D)
     10:59:30 (D)
11:10 (D)
     11:10:15 (M)
11:17 (I)
11:18 (M)
11:21 (D)
11:23 (I)
     11:23:15 (M)
     11:23:17 (I)
11:28 (Jo)
11:30 (D)
11:33 (I)
*11:35 Time for kids to fix their lunches
11:36 (I)
11:37 (D)
11:41 (D)
11:45 (I)
11:51 (I)
     11:51:09 (D)
11:52 (D)
     11:52:12 (I)
11:55 (I)
12:02 (Je)
     12:02:14 (Jo)
12:03 (Jo)
12:11 (I)
     12:11:18 (Jo)
12:12 (Jo)
     12:12:38 (D)
12:13 (Je)
12:14 (Je)
12:18 (Jo)
12:19 (D)
*12:20-2:00 QUIET TIME
     12:20:30 (M)
     12:20:35 (Je)
     12:20:38 (D)
12:24 (Jo)
     12:24:19 (I)
     12:24:50 (M)
12:25 (D)
*12:26 I close my door
*12:27 When I lie down, the cat joyfully meows at me because she hasn't seen me for DAYS hours, and stares at me intently until I lift the sheet up so she can crawl under and snuggle up next to me.
*1:45 I come out, even though Quiet Time isn't over until yet; nobody is supposed to talk to me until 2:00
1:46 (D)
1:47 (D)
2:13 (Je)
2:18 (M)
2:33 (M&Je)
2:45 (M)
2:50 (M)
2:52 (M)
2:53 (I)
2:55 (Je)
     2:55:20 (I)
2:58 (M)
*3:00 Sent the children outside to play
3:01 (Jo)
3:05 (M)
3:09 (Jo)
3:11 (Jo)
3:15 (Jo)
3:19 (Je)
3:24 (Je)
3:30 (Jo)
3:31 (M)
3:32 (Jo)
     3:32:07 (M)
3:39 (I)
     3:39:12 (Je)
*3:45 I try to do some sewing because a friend wants me to make some nursing pads for her.
4:00 (H) Husband is home long enough to tell me that he forgot something at work and has to go back.
4:04 (M)
4:07 (D)
4:15 (I)
     4:15:03 (M)
     4:15:48 (D)
4:20 (D)
4:21 (Jo)
4:22 (D)
4:23 (D)
4:24 (D)
4:27 (Je)
4:28 (D)
4:32 (D)
4:33 (H) Husband calls to ask me something before he comes back home.
4:34 (D)
     4:34:18 (M)
4:36 (D)
4:41 (D)
4:42 (M)
4:57 (D)
5:00 (H)
5:01 (D)
5:09 (Je)
5:10 (Je)
5:11 (Je)
5:17 (H)
5:19 (H)
5:25 (M)
5:35 (Je)
*5:40-6:00 Dinner
6:10 (D)
     6:10:45 (M)
6:12 (M)
6:14 (D)
6:15 Husband takes the kids to the park. (HALLELUJAH!)

GRAND TOTALS

*Number of demands: 142
*Period of time: 690 minutes/582 minutes of people having an opportunity to interrupt me
*Ian: 25
*David: 37
*Marie: 27
*Joseph: 22
*Jeffrey: 23
*Husband: 8

So, subtracting the time from quiet time when I was left alone and the time for dinner when we plan to interact with each other, that leaves 592 minutes of regular day time, which averages out to someone demanding my attention every 4.17 minutes. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Anybody want to play along so we can compare? Keep track of people demanding your attention for about 12 hours. Come back and leave a comment telling us how long you tracked, the number of demands, and what you spend your day doing. (I am home sch00ling 5 kids, if anyone didn't already know that.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tutorial: How To Make Cloth Shopping Bags, Part 2, Sewing

Click here for Part 1, Cutting and Pinning Cloth.
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This is the part of the bag construction when I like to use my serger, but if you don't have a serger, do a zig-zag stitch with your sewing machine, near the edge of the fabric, wherever I mention serging.

SO GLAD I labeled these knobs when I first got the serger!

Threading this beast can be a little...overwhelming.

Ooops. Remains of the last project. Time to vacuum the fuzz out!
Serging the straps:
If you ironed and pinned your straps as described in Part 1 of this tutorial, you can turn your knife off and serge without it because we hid all of the unfinished edges on the inside of the strap. Serge both sides of each strap, removing pins as you come to them.
If you are using your sewing machine for this step, you could use a decorative stitch.
Serging the bag:

Serge down one unfinished side of the bag, leaving a long tail when you clip the thread when you get to the end of this side. Take out the pins as you come to them, so that, after you finish this side, you can stick your hand inside to make sure you caught both layers of fabric.

Serge down the other unfinished side of the bag, again leaving a long tail when you clip the thread. Again, check inside to make sure you caught both layers of the fabric.
(I was starting so far over because I didn't trim the cloth before I started serging, so I had to move over that much to catch the inside cloth too.)

Because I am a worrier like to make sure these bags are nice and strong, and because I've never been able to find anything that tells me if the serging will unravel if I trim it close, I sew a line straight stitching next to the serging, pinning down the tail from the previous serging as I go.

Turn the corner and sew down the other side.

Now trim the ends close.

Iron your beautiful sewing job bag and straps. (I'm not sure why...something about setting the stitches, I think.)
Pinning the straps

With the bag still inside-out, fold the top over, all the way around, about an inch or so. If you don't want the unprinted edge of the fabric to show inside the bag, fold it over one more time to hide that. Iron it so it will stay down.

Since both ends of the straps will be sewn down, I trim the serging thread close.

Slip the strap under the top fold at an angle....

...and fold it straight up. Pin in place, being careful not to pin through to the other side of the bag.

Pin the other end of the strap the same way. Good luck getting it pinned so that the strap isn't twisted! I may...struggle...with that. Pin the second strap to the other side of the bag in the same manner.
Sewing the straps on
Starting on the opposite side from the side seam, and close to the edge, making sure you aren't sewing the bag shut, start sewing around the top of the bag.

When you get to a strap, sew a square around the edges...

...and an X inside the square. I sew over the sides of the square and the X a couple times since this is what is holding the straps to the bag.

The second part of the X

Get back to the top of the bag, and continue sewing around, making a square and an X on each strap you come to.

When you get back to where you started, sew over your first few stitches and anchor your thread. Cut the thread.

Move over to the bottom edge and sew around the bag. This step is much quicker because you don't have to stop for the straps.

Sew all the way around the bag and anchor your thread again.

A friend who worked as a checker at a store, suggested that I put some sort of tab on the bags so the checker can hang the bags on the bag holder.
Iron your beautiful stitching, turn your bag right-side out, and voila!

A very cute, very sturdy, easily washable, re-usable cloth bag!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tutorial: How To Make Cloth Shopping Bags, Part 1, Cutting and Pinning Cloth

Sorry to have teased anybody the other day! I accidentally hit "publish" instead of "save" after I had loaded some of the pictures!
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I LOVE this fabric! I chose to use red thread because of the cherries. I also used one of my sewing machine's 6 non-straight or ziz-zag stitches for decorative purposes.

Let me be upfront about this right now: my motto when sewing is "Good Enough" Is Better Than Trying To Be "Perfect" and Losing My Mind.

I am NOT a talented sewer; I don't know much about selvage edges or which direction the weave of the fabric is going or things like that, but I have figured out how to make a few things I like that aren't too complicated for me. Still Playing School requested a tutorial for these cloth bags, so here it is finally! You'll see a variety of fabrics in this tutorial because I was working on a couple different projects at the same time. Also, I'm sorry about the pattern on the ironing board cover; my choices were limited.

These instructions will help you make 2 cloth bags. I like to use 2 layers of fabric to make sure the bags are strong; my bags can hold 2 gallons of milk without breaking. I'm sure there are other, better ways to do this, but this is the way I know how to do it.

Materials
  • 1 yard of 45" wide material for the outside of the bag (I like to pick something fun and/or pretty for this one.) (Er, I think I used basic cotton fabric.)
  • 1 yard of 45" wide material for the lining of the bag (Often, I will pick a solid color of less expensive cloth for this layer.)
  • 30" of 45" wide material for the straps (You will lose about 2" of length on the straps when you sew them to the bag. Use a measuring tape to see if this is a length you like; if not, make them shorter. I like them long enough to hang over my shoulders so I can carry in lots of groceries in one load. Also, this is actually enough fabric to make 11 straps, so keep that in mind if you're making more than two bags; this gives you enough straps for 5 bags.)
    • Remember that lighter fabric will look dirty sooner, but these bags are easy to wash, so take both things into consideration when choosing.
  • Thread that matches or coordinates with your fabric
  • Tape measure or yard stick
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Serger (but if you don't have a serger, I hear you can use the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine instead) (for the story behind why I have a serger, despite not being an expert sewer, see here)

Cutting and pinning the bag
This is the fabric I picked for the outer of these bags because my friend likes this particular franchise.
Fabric has little circles of colors on one edge that tell you which colors are in the pattern and which color is most prominent. If I'm not trying to use up fabric I already have, I will use those circles to help me pick out a color for the inside of the bag and the straps.

This is the fabric I picked to go with the outer fabric. I made 2 bags with a dark blue lining, 2 with a light blue lining, and used dark blue (or was it black?) straps for all 4 bags.
Before I cut anything out, I wash and dry the fabrics I'll be using, just in case they are going to shrink at all. After the fabric comes out of the dryer, I iron it, using the steam setting if I need to, to get out the wrinkles. If I'm making more than 2 bags, and have 2 yard pieces of fabric, instead of measuring and cutting at the 1 yard point, I fold each piece of fabric in half and cut there so that the resulting pieces are approximately 1 yard long.

Here is ~one yard of 45" wide fabric, washed, dried, and ironed.

Cut the fabric in half so that you end up with (2) ~22"x36" pieces. I was able to use the pattern on this fabric to cut relatively straight down the middle.

Cut the lining fabric to the same dimensions. Since this fabric didn't have a pattern, I folded it in half....

...held it down with one hand so it wouldn't move, and then cut along the fold.

Place one piece of the outer fabric, with the pattern side facing you, on top of one piece of the lining fabric. I match up the finished sides, the selvage edge(?), the one side of the fabric that hasn't been cut, and make those the top of the bag, if I can. If you are using a pattern that has a definite "up" and "down", pay attention to which way is up so that you don't end up with up-side down bags...not that *I* have ever done that. Ahem.

Pin every so often around the edges so the fabric doesn't shift when you move it.
NOTE: If you are not using the finished edges of the fabric for the top of your bag, you will want to serge or ziz-zag the two pieces together right now.

Fold the pinned pieces in half, with the patterned piece facing itself on the inside, so you end up with a 22" tall, 18" wide rectangle, and pin around the edges again, taking out the pins from the previous step as you go so that you don't accidentally sew over them. I pin the bottom and the side frequently, but put one pin in the top so that I know which side is the top. Trim the edges so they are even.
Cutting, ironing, and pinning the straps

You are going to cut the straps ~30" long, 4" wide. I like to use a yardstick for this part.

I lay the yardstick near the top of the fabric and make a cut every 4" all the way across the fabric. (Pretend I did that correctly instead of cutting every 2 1/2" because I hadn't done this in a while and forgot.) I slide the yardstick down and keep cutting until I have my 4" strips. I'm sure there's a better way to do this which involves a rotary cutter, but rotary cutters make me nervous.

Iron the strip.

Fold the strip in half the long way and iron again.

Open the strip and notice the line you ironed in.

Fold the top down to the middle line. Fold the bottom up to the middle line. Iron again.

Fold the strip in half so that all of the unfinished edges are on the inside and iron again.

Pin the strap so it doesn't come unfolded.
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Next up: Part 2, the Sewing (and more ironing and pinning)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Suprise From the Internet

I knew this month was going to fly by, and I WAS RIGHT. In TWO SHORT WEEKS we will start our journey across the country. And there is no turning back because some Lovely Ladies on the internet cheered me up and gave me the strength to continue packing by sending me the most awesome moving reward I was bribing myself with...

Such a fun box!

Aren't they BEAUTIFUL?!?! And they will stay that way because the children are not allowed to touch them!!
...and a gift card to Target (which I think I'm going to use to help buy a toaster oven because I've wanted one for a while now!), so I MUST go through with it! And, you know, my family would probably certainly miss me if I didn't go with them. Thank you, again, ladies!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What I Have Learned On This House-Hunting Trip

1. It is most unpleasant to fly across the country to try to find an appropriate house for your family, even after doing hours and hours and hours of work on this project before you fly out.
2. The journey of a thousand miles is likely to end very, very badly.
3. There is definite potential for a house-hunting themed Demotivator.
4. NEVER, EVER, EVER GET MY HOPES UP. I cannot think of ONE TIME that has ended well, and isn't the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for a different result?
5. No matter how tempting, DO NOT excitedly tell the children all about the house you finally decided on, after much agonizing, until you have closed on the house, lest something should happen, and you have to listen to their bitter complaints about the house that got away. (THANKFULLY, this occurred to me in time and, therefore, I did not have to learn it from hard experience!)
6. In the future, I need to ask the realtor to do a more thorough check on any house I want to see so that I do not get my hopes up unnecessarily, only to find out that there was an easy-to-find reason that I could not have that house.
7. Looking at 12+ houses per day, knowing that you have a set amount of time to find a house that will meet the various needs of your large family is not any sort of vacation.
8. House-hunting is A LOT like dating which sucks even more if you didn't particularly enjoy dating.
9. Be sure not to wear mascara and remember to take a box of tissues with you forget your house-hunting notebook, person who knows how to look for things like water damage and cracks in the foundation, a flashlight, a measuring tape, something to drink, and some snacks.
10. The house-hunting notebook was very helpful for keeping track of the details of various houses since they all blur together when you see so many in such a short period of time. Part of the reason it was so helpful was because I took notes on every house we visited and made sure to write things down in the "Pros" and "Cons" categories.
11. It is quite disturbing to walk into a house and be assaulted with the unmistakable smell of drugs, cigarettes, old person, or animal pee.
12. It can be uncomfortable to walk through a house when you know that somebody else already lives there.
13. If something looks to good to be true, it probably is.
14. Just like looking at my first baby's face in the hospital did not help me figure out what to name him, only one house called my name....and that one didn't work out. So.
15. If you only have 5-6 days, make sure you see as many houses as you can in the first days, so that when things go wrong, you'll still have some time.
16. It's a good idea to have a 2nd tier list, just in case none of the 25+ houses on your 1st tier list work out.
17. Have MINIMAL preferences/requirements so that you aren't disappointed with whatever you end up with. OR
18. Have All The Money so that you can buy what you need.
19. People can be jerks.
20. There is not enough ice cream or chocolate IN THE WORLD to make some things better.
21. I must be allergic to house-hunting because it has made my eyes and nose leak MULTIPLE TIMES. Maybe someone else should be in charge when this must be done again in 3 years (*SOB*).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Example of a Crappy Day Package #19

There are still spots available in the Crappy Day Present Exch*nge. Registration ends this Friday at 9pm, Pacific Time.
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A Lovely, Lovely Person* sent a package of Crappy Day Presents to help me hang on a little longer brighten many of my days!

Yarn! And a beautiful plate that is just the right size for brownies! And lots of cheerfully decorated presents!

This was a nice thing to open on one of those "Why do you have to be so MEAN, MOM?!" days.


These delicious chocolate bars and this awesome vegetable cutter were opened on a day when Husband was working late, and I was in the middle of trying to fix dinner, so, naturally, Baby's stinky diaper oozed all over him, the carpet, the chair, and the nearest piece of furniture. Then a friend dropped off some cookies I was trying desperately not to eat, and, of course, since I was hungry dinner took much longer to cook than it was supposed to! CRAPPY DAY!

Yummy! And such a fun Valentine's Day present =)!

I laughed when I opened this one because just THE DAY BEFORE, I had been thinking of sending someone some brownie mix along with a bag of chocolate chips and instructions to mix them together, and, even so, I hadn't guessed what was in these presents =). Great minds think alike!

I can't remember what was stressing me out on the day I opened this probably kids, but I will be taking it with me to use during my house-hunting trip!

The kids had SO MUCH FUN with this! SO MUCH! Which I thought was funny, considering how much play-doh we have in our house, but, apparently, M0del Mag!c is MUCH more enjoyable to use!
You know, with the number of Lavender-scented things I've received, I'm starting to think that you ladies think I need to relax or something ;-).
Thank you, Lovely Person! Your thoughtfulness and support are much appreciated!!
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*I will be keeping Crappy Day Present senders anonymous so that the sender doesn't have to worry that Person Q is going to see what they (the sender) sent me and possibly feel bad that their (Person Q's) package was not as fabulous as mine ;-). But if you don't worry as much as I do aren't worried about that, you are welcome to claim your package in the comments!