Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some Notes on Making Easter Art Camp Work(Able)

In addition to decorating easter eggs, our house, and doing egg hunts this year, we also did this fun thing called Easter Art Camp, which we finished up last week. Some people were asking me about it, so I thought I would type up a post about what we did and how it came about.

Basically it was an effort on my part to beat back my ever-pervasive fear of boredom and ennui with these kids underfoot. Every time my kids go on break, I worry that they will complain of being bored, and all of my depleted parenting resources will fall on permissive strategies and we will all end up sitting around watching TV.  {ugh} The weather has been great but you can only stare at flowers for so long. ;-)

So this break, similar to Fall Break {{which I wrote about in this post}} I armed myself with a plan. It is funny how some sort of marching orders or different things keep you hopeful when you're going through a rough patch. Last year it was something as small and simple as waiting for the crepe myrtle to bloom.  This year I think expecting a baby has gotten me through a lot. Having something to hope and wait for is resourceful. But for the kids, hearing "You'll have a baby brother soon" only goes so far. Not a strategy, really. Path of least resistance? ;-)

I broke it up by day and I did a *ton* of research and planning for it.

Unlike last year when I did a fun craft for each day, this time I did a craft and a little fun treat/snack.  They were not connected but they all had an "easter break" theme.  I will be completely honest in saying that none of these were completely original. *All* of the inspiration came from things I found and saved to a private folder on Pinterest. I changed some things around a bit at times but for the most part (**keep it real, always**) I was a totes copycat. :0) so sorry ;-)

Here are some notes on how to make it all happen:

1. Plan everything in detail.

I planned everything out in a day-by-day strategy. We did Friday-Monday. I had to get special supplies for each craft, so I went out on two differing occasions to buy the supplies. It took a lot of work up-front and I had to refer to my lists a million and twenty-two times in order to not forget something important/necessary/needed.
Cotton top cones*

2. Budget Accordingly.

This year the kids got *zero* toys in their Easter baskets. All of the money went toward these projects.  They got candy and one book in their baskets and they knew that was going to be it. ha ;-) I shopped at Dollar Tree and Walmart and kept everything simple.

3. Think with your kid-brain.

Kids LOVE treats. I remember growing up we always went to Bible School during the summers, and my favorite thing ever was snack time because we got fun things like pudding dirt cups and s'mores and rice krispies.  I personally want to gag on every peep that enters my mouth :-0 but these things are a HIT with the kiddos and that's an understatement. They will talk it up like there's no tomorrow.

4. *Be original

I found these cottontail cones on Pinterest from a Paula Deen recipe. The only thing I changed was that I added a brownie to the inside to "hold up" the cotton candy. And for our family we changed the name to cotton top cones :0) We then swirled them in lemon frosting and rolled the cones in sprinkles, then formed balls out of cotton candy and stuck it to the top.  I think the kids talked about these more than anything else all week, and bonus plus! They made them themselves. ;-)

5. Round out the sweetness with healthy meals and snacks.

Juuuuuust in case anyone is wondering if this was all the food or nourishment my kids had all week, I want to assure you that we also had plenty of healthy meals, snacks, and bedtime snacks throughout Easter weekend. It wasn't all treats and candy haha.  But celebrate we did and we had an absolute BLAST doing it.

to view all of things we did, see this

**Note: This post isn't image-heavy because I'm unfortunately working from a back-up Dell computer until we are able to fix or replace my macbook air. (CRYING emoji face here)**

One other thing you can try is a Staycation ... if your kids are on break or are suffering from a severe case of ennui and boredom.

And don't forget that Eastertide lasts for 50 days. It is definitely not too late to do some special crafts and snacks for Easter. :0)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ten Years of Easter Memories

I know this is late, but... insert lame excuse here. I've been posting our Easter Memories every year now for ten years. I love seeing the kids grow and seeing the additions as we go thru the years! ;-)
Year One: Annapolis, MD
Molly was born in January so she was still a tiny 3 month old munchkin for her first Easter. I remember my Mom sending us this dress.
Year Two: Annapolis, MD
This was our cute apartment near the Naval Academy. Molly was 15 months and my parents came to visit! I don't know why but for some reason I didn't get a picture of her Easter dress that year (although I know we went to church on Easter Sunday) ;-).

Year Three: Annapolis, MD
I remember carefully cropping out her brown shoes because I didn't have time to buy white ones. Molly was 2! I loved that dress, though haha. 
Year Four: Annapolis, MD
Stephen's parents and his sister and her kids came to visit us for Easter. Molly was 3 and Frances (not pictured) was 6 months old. Stephen's Mom Sandy was helping the kids dye Easter eggs.

Year Five: Hyattsville, MD
Molly was 4 and Frances was 18 months. I remember going to the Dollar Store to buy those tiny Easter baskets!

Year Six: Tennessee
Our first year in our "new" house.... Madeleine's first Easter! She was about 11 months old.

Year Seven: Tennessee 
This is at our parish. Anders was about 8 months, Madeleine almost 2, Frances 3, Molly 6.

Year Eight: Tennessee
Anders 1, Madeleine 2, Frances 4, Molly 7

Year Nine: Tennessee
Molly 8, Frances 5, Madeleine 3, Anders 2, Annabel 9 months

Year Ten: Tennessee
ages: Molly 9, Frances 6, Madeleine 4, Anders 3, Annabel 1

I finally broke the fast of not blogging on Tuesday and if you missed my life update you can read it here: Life Lately: February and March

Linking up with Kelly for 7 (ish) quick takes ;-)  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Life Lately ~ February and March

Oh hey there! I'm back to blogging again...😊  

So hi! Even though it is not the end of the month I feel like I have to make the disclaimer outright that I'm not going to do a typical "What I'm Into" post for February and March, because I basically just didn't keep track for all of Lent.  I usually work on those posts all month long, and since I haven't even opened Blogger, due to a broken computer, I haven't written down what I've been into. This will instead be a recap of all things interesting around these parts.

 And I have to say: I'm not the sort of blogger who comes back to blogging only to admit that I didn't really miss it, and I'm hoping to post this Summer, but *crosses fingers*... we'll see. I'm actually the kind of person/gal who thinks about post ideas in her head all the time, really misses writing when I'm not doing it, and has future posts planned/ counts down the days until Lent is over and it is ok to hop into the blogger vortex again. My brain goes fuzzy and I can't articulate thoughts that well when I'm not writing. I'm not gonna lie ;-) I guess it's because writing is a passion of mine, up there with sewing, baking, and reading. ;-) And loving babies and SAHM-ing and cleaning the grout between my tiles.... ;-)

However, I'll nevertheless try to catch you up on our life lately.  😜 As some of you may know I considered not returning to blogging. But writing is a strong enough pull. And the community of bloggers I've found. I can honestly say I'm thankful for that and wouldn't trade it for anything. And.... by the way, if you are curious about what I've been reading or want to follow me on Goodreads, or just view my Reading Challenge for the year, you can see that here.

I can't say that our February was all that eventful, other than just living life and trying to make each day 'life to the fullest,' as best that we can.  I cooked a baby, which is something (I'm now 36 weeks... about a month away from my due date!!!).... and I did a lot of reading in my spare time, as well as watching The Great British Baking Show in between stopping to cook and bake delicious things. I made Les Religieux (nuns) out of pumpkin spice muffins with cream cheese frosting, and I think I may have redeemed myself in the kitchen for all eternity ;-)

Our March was a bit more crazy. We decided against the beach for Spring Break this year, and just like last year, we ventured to Birmingham during the girls' time off from school.  This time, however, Stephen and I split up, and I took just Molly and Frances to see the sites of Birmingham, stay in a hotel Embassy Suites (4 life!), swim in the indoor pool (unheated;-), and relaaaaaaax.... something I had fantasized about for weeks prior. No dishes, no diaper changes, no tantrums, no clingy or whiny screams from the 4 & under fan club (love my dearies, but...) And guess what? It lived up to the hype AND THEN SOME.  I felt so completely  at ease and relaxed and the feeling lasted well over a week after the trip. There was something so restorative about letting the exhaustion of pregnancy + hip huggers+ all of my daily responsibilities and chores just fade away. We had a BLAST. ;-)

We only stayed 3 days, but we were able to pack a lot into the trip. We did the Zoo, the McWane Science Center, and the Art Museum.

We went to parks and went out to eat and got ice-cream (sherbet for me).

We also had the chance to reestablish our connections and relive the traditions we had established from last years Spring Break. We swam in the pool and we ate at the exact same restaurants as last year. Except this time, we didn't have to stop for nap times in the middle of the day... or take turns watching kids at the hotel room. It was a relief, and like I said just so relaxing to hang out with just Molly and Frances and invest time in them.

Lent-y Things:

+Our hotel in B-ham was great, BUT the hot tub was broken and the pool was ridiculously cold. I usually always cheat a little and get in the hot tub while pregnant... the nervous pregnant woman/person I am not and never will be. ;-) I got used to the pool water and amidst much wincing was able to get some exercise.... but it just felt... Lent-y for lack of a better word.

+Like I said I really missed writing and not blogging was hard. (For me!)

+Ok, here's a good one: our not-so-fancy vacuum cleaner broke. Coincidentally that same week, Annabel somehow tinkered on my phone and ordered a $600 robotic vacuum cleaner. I thought it so strange and ironic that I started laughing... until we missed the Fed Ex guy who came to pick it up, and it ended up taking 2 weeks to return it and get the full refund.  With everything else going on + making sure we didn't break the bank, let's just say our house looked *interesting* for a little while. ;-)

+Frances' hair had finally gotten long and in true  Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day form, she got gum stuck in it and had to get it chopped off.

+Although during my last pregnancy I went to bed early and always slept really, really well, this pregnancy has been very different on that front. Normally I have trouble sleeping during the third trimester so that's normal. This time, however, I have had many, many nights where I just cannot fall asleep and then when I do I wake up three hours later... and can't get back to sleep. The entire next day I feel like I have the flu.... morning sickness symptoms, drowsiness, and just general wooziness. The only thing that seems to heal the ailing is a cinnamon roll from Panera and the hazelnut coffee with cream... I can't drink any other coffee, just in general. Sleep... something so basic but guys... so, so, so necessary.;-)

+Not blogging was difficult at first, but it did completely change my morning routine and I have to say, after a few weeks I didn't miss it in that sense at all. ;-)  All of the other things like worrying about stats and hits and *crapola*? I didn't miss that for ... a ... second! ;-) I tried to stay consistent in posting on Facebook, Twitter, and instagram, though and- AND! I have definitely seen some growth on those fronts, so I think the investment was definitely worth it. ;-)

To counterbalance what might sound like complaining, the weather has been fantastic. I love Spring and after a few really warm days in February, March was mild, cool, and we had some perfect 72 degree days, perfect for playing outside and lunch/dinners on the back porch.

Also, I know that God uses our suffering during Lent to refine us, weed out the yucky, and remind us of our need for him. Oh, also-- h.u.m.i.l.i.t.y.  And so for all of that am grateful to God and my Mother Mary for all of the moments of divine and maternal assistance that came and were really so-much-needed.
this was me at 35 weeks

Other than that, you can continue or start following me on instagram for all of the details and ins and outs of our life, specifically, catch up on all the time I wasn't blogging.  I'm @tacywb and... for all of you who don't follow me, I miss having you in that space! I've been dipping my toes into instagram stories and it has been so fun. I follow some really cool people on there and watching insta-stories is my youtube. :0)

Oh! I do want to say before I go, just to be really random and pull a fast one on you:  I (suddenly, without ever loving it before) heart country music (I know... unfriend me now), Neil Gaiman  (creepy) , writing posts in my head (adore), and (once again) Spring weather. I know enough to know after being back in the South, that I have reason to be slightly terrified of a scorching Summer, so I'm drinking in the Spring. ;-)

and with that... baby beck numero 6, see you in a month :-0 huh what?!  ;-)
Linking up with Tuesday Talk