Tag Archives: family

Securing a trampoline to the ground

February 4, 2013

You may remember that we got Addison a trampoline for his birthday.  It has been money well spent.  We all love playing on it, it’s great exercise for me and has given us hours of fun family time.  How can I resist “mommy, come jump with me”?  After we’re worn out from jumping then we roll around on it, wrestle, snuggle and watch the clouds and birds overhead.  The benefits definitely outweigh the risks.  I know, I know, there is a risk of someone breaking an arm but there is also a risk of getting in an accident every time I get in the car.  Twisted metal and flammable fluids haven’t stopped us from getting where we need to go.

One risk that we didn’t take very seriously back in October was wind.  We didn’t take any precautions against the wind and found out the hard way what happens when you don’t.

One week before Christmas we experienced very strong winds in the middle of the night.  Nothing new for Oklahoma.  The next morning Addison looked out his window, ran outside, ran inside to announce that the trampoline was gone.  Upon my panicked inspection I found that the trampoline flew clean over the fence and across the street.

trampoline

trampoline 2

You’ll be happy to know that the fence was in no way harmed during the trampoline’s flight pattern.

Dear Husband and I were pretty upset as we thought our brand new trampoline was ruined.  Thankfully we were able to get it back into the yard (thanks to his co-workers) and bend it back into shape.

After a month of debate and google searches for ways to secure a trampoline we finally settled on the type of stake that you have to twist into the ground.  We initially thought the pet store was the best place to go to find a large dog, corkscrew style stake.  We found what we were looking for but each stake was over $20 and we wanted 5 of them.  A quick stop a the hardware store and we discovered a similar iron stake that was less than $5.  Bingo.

trampoline stakeWe (and by “we” I mean Dear Husband) weren’t sure the best way to secure the stake to the legs of the trampoline so we decided to try two methods.  I’ll let you know which works better in about two months when tornado season is upon us.

trampoline chain

trampoline chain

Book Review – Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back

January 23, 2013

Right before Christmas I was offered the opportunity to read Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen.  I was offered a free book if I would review it here on this little ol’ blog.  I checked out Laura Pedersen and turns out she’s legit so I said yes, please send me a free book.

Unplugged is the story of Ella who wants to spend time with her family but discovers that everybody would rather spend time with their electronic devices.  She channels her frustration and uses her ingenuity to get her families attention, and ultimately gets her family back.

Unplugged

In one scene Ella’s parents sit down with her to find out why she is so frustrated.  They assume it is because she is the only one in the family without a phone or device to plug into, but it turns out she doesn’t want one.  She wants everyone else to put their phones down and spend time with each other.  I love this because it shows that parents are just as guilty as kids when it comes to spending too much time online.  As parents we worry about how much “screen time” our kids are getting every day, what they are exposed to online and how the fast paced world of gaming is effecting their attention spans.  Those are all legitimate concerns but we should be just as concerned about who much “screen time” we are getting as opposed to “play time”.  I often hear a little voice beside me while I’m plugged into my computer, “mommy, play with me”.  When this request is brushed off or becomes annoying it is time for a serious reality check.

After Addison and I read this together I gently prodded him to get his reaction.  His initial response was negative.  His translation of the book was that Ella’s family cut out all electronics and screen time.  He wasn’t too keen on the idea of not being able to play Wii  or watch Lego reviews on YouTube.  I assured him that the family in the book didn’t cut out all electronics but rather dedicated just a little time each week to unplug and spend time together.  The next week we read it again at Addison’s request.  This is a sure sign that he liked the book and wanted to think about it some more.  After the third reading I suggested we take one night a week and have a family game night.  He liked that idea and I set off to Target to get some new board games.  So far he is a big fan of Blokus and our Friday night game night.

I recommend this book if you’re looking for an introduction of reducing screen time in your family.  Electronics and hand held devices are getting easier and easier for our kids to access and operate, there’s no question about that.  I know some parents who don’t seem concerned at all and some parents who are on the other extreme and want to severely limit their kids exposure to the internet, screen time, etc.  For me, I fall somewhere in the middle, recognizing that rejecting technology is out of the question.  Technology isn’t going anywhere and is going to become more and more a part of our children’s lives.  As parents, Dear Husband and I feel that we need to learn how to keep up with the changes and develop strategies on how to control technology, as opposed to it controlling us.

I’d like to hear from parents — Do you “unplug?”   How do you stay connected to your family and technology?

(Disclaimer:  Yes, I was provided a free book in exchange for this post.  Rest assured that all thoughts, opinions, words, ideas are completely my own.)

Little Boys are Disgusting

November 1, 2012

This is a conversation that took place over dinner this week.

Addison:  There was something weird that happened in the bathroom at school today.

Me:  (thinking: oh God, what in the world could this be) Oh really, what was that?

Addison:  There was poop on the floor.

Me:  Ewwww, gross. I wonder how in the world someone got poop on the floor.

A little bit of silence.

Me: Wait, did you touch the poop?

Addison:  silence (I can see it in his face. He’s hiding something)

Me:  Did you touch the poop with your hands?

Addison:  No.

Me: (my tone is getting more and more anxious).  Did you touch the poop with your foot?

Addison:  silence

Me:  You stepped on it didn’t you?  Addison, what the heck?

Addison:  silence

A poker face this child does not have.  It’s written all over his face that he deliberately stepped in poop.  IN POOP. Continue reading

Monoprint for little hands

October 25, 2012

Harry and I have been attending Scissortail School of Art for his weekly dose of culture.  I like that he can get messy in somebody else’s space and I also kinda do it out of guilt.  Addison got all sort of extra curricular activities when he was a tot.  Gymboree, library story time, play dates, weekly trips to the zoo (I wasn’t a zoo freak…we lived 15 minutes away so it was an easy way to entertain the kid).  I chalk all that up to being first born and a high maintenance SPD kid.  Poor little Harry gets trips to Target.

Last week we made monoprints.  Here are three easy steps for little hands to make their own original work of art. Continue reading

Invites on Etsy

October 4, 2012

October is here…time to kick the birthday preparations into high gear.

This year I ordered a custom invite on Etsy.  How did I not realize to do this before this year?  This is a birthday game changer! In the past I’ve used a variety of methods to create b-day invites.  Tiny Prints…Cute but pricy.  Store bought and hand written…Old school but sloppy.  Created on the computer…A good idea if you have experience in creating custom, unique designs.  The year I created the invite on my own my husband took it to work to show his co-worker who does all their media ads, invites, you know; fancy stuff.  She took pity on me and redesigned it to make it look semi-professional.

This year someone suggested looking on Etsy.  (light bulb).  I found lots of choices in my theme with the ability to customize it.  This super cute invite was only $5.99.  It was emailed to me in a pdf which I uploaded to Target to print and then pick up at the store.  Genius!

I got this custom invite at Etsy store called A Vertigo Creation.  (They did not ask me to blog about this.  They had no idea I was a blogger when I ordered.  Just another mom trying to create an awesome party for her kid.  What length us moms will go to…)

My one word of advice if you ever order an invite from Etsy.  Have them create it in as a 4×6 card.  Target, Walgreens, Sams, Costco, etc. usually have incredible prices like .10 per print.  Printing it as a 5×7 increases the cost to around $1.60 per print.  If you have to print a lot of invites you will save a lot of money by going w/ the smaller print.  I didn’t realize that until after the fact.  You’re welcome.

What is your favorite method of creating b-day invites?

Boys on the Beach

September 11, 2012

Labor Day weekend was also my mom’s birthday.  Happy birthday mom!  This year my mom, my dad and I took the boys to Galveston Island, TX for her b-day weekend.  We stayed at the same beach house from our girls weekend adventure in May.

The traffic along the sea wall was crazy busy because of the holiday weekend.  The house we rented was much farther east so we didn’t have to mess w/ crowds when it came to playing in the surf.  However, driving anywhere took about twice as long as it normally would.  Oh well, I guess that’s part of beach life on a holiday.

The water may not be crystal clear but it’s warm and Addison had a blast.  Harry could have spent all day moving sand from one pile to the other and back again.

Scroll down for LOTS of photos on the beach and this isn’t even half of what I took.  Photos from the aquarium coming soon.

Continue reading

Saving money is a pain in my…

September 6, 2012

…Wallet.  You thought I was going to say ass, didn’t you?

Guess what?  Saving up for something you really want to buy instead of just putting it on the credit card really stinks.  Sure, it’s the responsible thing to do but it’s a real buzz kill.

One year ago Dear Husband and I put ourselves on a serious budget savings plan.  It all started when we calculated how much college will cost in 12 years.  Before the budget we would put money away to a savings account but never really earmarked it for anything specific.  Then something would happen to the car and there goes a few hundred bucks.  Soon we would want to take a trip and plane tickets for four ain’t cheap.  Home Owners Association dues would roll around and before we knew it our savings account was depleted and we still had to pay for season football tickets including a hefty donation that accompanies them just to secure the right to buy the tickets.  Next thing we knew it was Christmas and we hadn’t saved up for that and who the heck knew where all our money went.  Oh, and the college savings?  Ummmmmm

Dear Husband does what he does best and made Excel spreadsheets, charts and graphs.  Soon he had multiple savings accounts opened and direct deposit into each one with exact amounts that would help us pay for these regular expenses that we know come up every year but always seem to surprise us.  He’s a wiz when it comes to Excel and figuring out percentages and things that make my eyes glaze over.  We have 11 different savings accounts all with a specific purpose.  We’re not kidding around here.

Awesome.  We were on the right track.  We spent the year living lean.  I had a grocery budget that I kept a close eye on and I learned to stay away from the side of Target that can turn a simple grocery trip into a $300 spending spree.  However, this new system put a serious kink in my need for instant gratification.  No longer could I buy that super cute dress just because it looked awesome on me.  Soon I was paranoid about spending $3.50 at Starbucks.

Thanks to credit cards we have become a society of instant gratification.  You want something?  Then go out and get it and pay for it later!  Only, they don’t really tell you that you will be paying a whole lot more for it if you take that route.  I remember my first credit card was in college.  There were tables set up every five feet in the student union luring unsuspecting co-eds to their credit doom.  They told me that I could have a credit limit of $10,ooo and only have to pay $20 a month.  $20 a month?! For whatever I wanted?! Yes, please and thank you.

Now I’m a little older and a smidge wiser and married to someone who has more self-control.  However, I still am peeved that I can’t buy whatever the heck I want whenever the heck I want it.

Last week we were really close to buying a new couch.  Our current couch has served us well but it’s becoming saggy and worn.  We were soooooooo close.  I found a really good deal on a tax-free weekend with 12 months no interest.  Perfect!  But wait…Addison’s birthday is coming up and I’ve had my heart set on a trampoline.  Oh, and Harry is ready to move out of the crib and needs a big boy bed.  Those two things plus the couch are NOT part of our spread sheet savings plan.  Well crap.  There went my couch.  Instead I stuffed the couch cushions with old pillows that were taking up room in the linen closet (because what are you really supposed to do with pillows that are too uncomfortable to sleep on anyway?)

Where is my instant gratification!?!  I’ll tell you where.

In my spending defense…my old Toms literally had holes in them.  I really got my money’s worth out of them and it was time for an upgrade.  Give me a chance and I can justify almost any purchase.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately for our bank account) many of those justifications have to go through the keeper of the spreadsheets.

Coffee Table to Train Table to Lego Table

August 28, 2012

Once upon a time there was an Ikea coffee table.

This is a story of a coffee table’s journey to becoming a Lego table.  (if you want to skip the tale, jump to the bottom for instructions on how to turn a coffee table into a Lego table)

In 1999 I moved into my first post-college, pre-marriage apartment.  I was living all by myself for the first time in a tiny place in West Hollywood.  Where does one go when they have no job and are on their own for the first time?  Ikea!  I found a rectangular, pine coffee table.  I don’t think they sell the style anymore but I imagine it came from the Herfenklunk collection.  It served me well, then me became we and it continued to do its duty as a place to eat dinner, rest cocktails, artfully displayed coffee table books, etc.  Soon we became three and the cocktails were replaced with sippy cups and coffee table books turned into board books.  It took a beating from Thomas trains and never complained a bit.

Soon we three moved across the country and expanded our living space.  We (and by we I mean he would play and I would have to sit and watch) played with trains night and day and I knew we needed a designated table just for trains.  Like the Giving Tree, the coffee table called out.  Come boy, come and dent my soft pine with your incecent pounding.  Come and play.  Who was I to deny a faithful table’s wish?  I sanded it down, added trim around the edge and painted it to match the new room.  Voila’!  Train table.  Boy and table were happy.

A few years passed happily then one day the boy declared that he “wasn’t into trains anymore” and the train table became a regular ol’ toy table.  It’s paint chipped, it became dusty and it’s purpose was forgotten.

Time went by and I decided that my dining room had just about had enough of the Lego explosion that had taken place.  This past weekend the coffee table was granted a new lease on life.  We cleaned her off, cleared away the dust and broken toys and set out to make her into a Lego table.

And the table was happy.

Should you wish to turn your old coffee table into a Lego table, here are simple instructions.

Supplies:  table, wood trim, sand paper, wood glue, 3/4 inch screws, paint, Lego foundation sheets, industrial strength adhesive or epoxy  (I used E 3000.  Hopefully it can take a beating).

Step 1.  Sand table.

Step 2.  Add trim all the way around the edge.  Measure and cut 1 1/4 x 1/4 trim to fit.  If you don’t have a way to make a clean cut, take your exact measurements to Lowes or Home Depot and they will do it for you.  Use wood glue and 3/4 inch screws to secure trim.  Don’t use nails.  Your child will eventually rip the trim off despite the fact that you put more nails than necessary.  Take it from me and use screws.  Make sure to pre-drill holes in the trim to prevent splitting.

Step 3.  Paint.

Step 4.  Position Lego foundation sheets on the table where you want them.  Before gluing create one big sheet by connecting the individual sheets with Legos.  Mark the corners of the Lego sheet on the table. DO NOT glue the sheets to the table flush up against each other without first connecting them with Legos.  Carefully remove the now connected Lego sheets and set aside.

Step 5.  Glue.  We decided to take our large sheet apart and glue down two at a time.  It’s really important to keep at least two sheets connected with Legos.  If you are gluing down in segments, only apply glue to the table in the area of each segment as you go.  Don’t apply all the glue at once.  You’re asking for trouble.  Line up the corners with the marks you made and hold firmly in place for a few minutes.  When you’re ready to glue the next two sheets, have a couple of Legos attached and hanging off the edge of the pieces you are going to glue next.  That way you can line them up with the sheets you just glued down.  Use the Legos as a guide to connect the new sheets next to the sheets you just glued down.  Again, if you just glue them flush up against each other the spacing will be off by a fraction of an inch and Lego play will become frustrating.  The last thing we need is irate Lego builders.

Each of the Lego sheets were $4.99.  This train table re-do cost me $40 plus glue and some new containers to sort Legos.  Addison and I spent the evening sorting Lego pieces.  My guess is that they will stay sorted for about 2 days and tiny Legos will get burried in the carpet but it’s worth it to see him being creative in his own space.

Favorite Summer Memory

August 23, 2012

Now that school has started I’m in summer reflection mode.  We have had two great family vacations, hours in the pool and playtime with friends.  I grilled to my heart’s content and created an adult beverage that will become a summer staple for girls night in.  Despite all of that my favorite thing about this summer was not having to wake up to the alarm clock.

Here’s the deal.  I hate getting up early.  During the school year I stumble around the kitchen making breakfast and lunches.  Getting my oldest up and going is a struggle every single morning.  Despite our best efforts to prepare for school the night before the next morning is a frustrating rush out the door.  I usually end up yelling and threats are made that he will either have to go to school with one shoe or will be left behind because the ‘train’ is pulling out.  On days when I have to get myself and the toddler out the door early means getting myself ready before the kids and that means getting up even earlier.  It’s stressful and I don’t like it.

This summer the only time we set the alarm was the day we had to make it to the airport on time.  The rest of the time I let the sun and the sounds of my two year old playing in his crib wake me up.  I made no effort to be any place early so each morning was a lazy stroll through cartoons and breakfast in our jammies.  The best part of all of this was there wasn’t any yelling.  I didn’t have to yell to hurry up or find a shoe or rush to finish homework that should have been completed the night before.  No mommy guilt here, just the morning paper and a cup of coffee.

Picking wild blueberries and them baking them into a pie was amazing but stress-free mornings were priceless.  What’s your favorite summer memory?