Blog break is over and what we made today with these parts that cost only $16!

I had just started my writing adventure when everything around me became too much. Every area of my life had so much going on that I couldn’t have a proper thought for myself and if we find we aren’t good for ourselves at the moment, how could we possibly be any good for others?

So, against what I wanted, I set everything aside and focused on what I had to. One day at a time, one project at a time and one emotion at a time. Lots of deep breaths, lots of hugs from my kiddos and many chats with wine with my besties. This last part of the plan, video chats work beautifully if you can’t see them in person, is 100% essential to the healing process and should never be ignored.

Now that “schoooool’s out for…summer!” I’m enjoying time with my babies and planning adventures (cheap ones…hey this girls on a budget and I LOVE cheap, fun projects!!) What better ways to spend time with your kiddos then building new things and going new places while not breaking the bank. I plan to write mostly about these adventures this summer unless, of course, I have one too many glasses of wine and see a picture of Ryan Gosling without his shirt on…then I may feel compelled to write about that instead.

Today’s fun project? This fabulous sprinkler/bike wash toy.

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It cost $16 in parts from Lowe’s. Any other hardware store, with plumbing parts, would do just fine. It took us approximately 30 minutes to complete the project from start to finish and it proved to be loads of fun that will be great all summer! This kind of project is one of my favorites because it costs a small amount of money only one time, we built it together as a team and it can be used over and over on a hot day. Who needs an expensive water park? Not us!

 

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Making a doll wardrobe for free

Does anyone else become completely frustrated with the inflated price of doll furniture? I do.

While I love my kids, unless they receive it as a gift, I’m not spending $60 on a wardrobe (as seen in the Target version, called Our Generation, in the picture on the left) or a whopping $120 (as seen in the American Doll furniture picture on the right).

Seeing these sticker shock prices is what drives our creativity. We decided to make one of our own and for FREE!

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My daughter had received an American Doll gift in an adorable box, which we chose to use. You could also use an ordinary box and paint it and/or cover it with your favorite stickers to make it more special.

First, I removed the lid, laid the box on it’s side and cut one side off with an exacto knife (or any blade would do).

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Sitting the box upright again, this is what it looked like. While it was on it’s side, I reinforced the bottom with gorilla tape we already had on hand. Packaging tape would also work because it’s clear, as well, but being that’s it’s on the bottom and not viewed, duct tape would also be just fine.

I then cut two small slits in the middle of each side of the box. This is to hold the support that is to go across for the hangers. I had originally tried placing string across the box (pictured) but found the weight of the dresses/hangers to be too much.

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We then decided to use 2 strips of cardboard that we cut off the side I had removed, glued them together back to back to reinforce the cardboard, and then placed the strip in both slats and taped it down to reinforce it. It would be even better if you had a small piece of wood/dowel to place across the box that would hold even more weight.

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This was the end result which we found adorable! It was the perfect size for what she needed and we didn’t spend a dime. (She used hangers she’d saved from build a bear visits and hangers that came with different doll clothing purchases and gifts over the years.)

What have you/can you create that saves money and is functional and adorable for your kiddos?

What everyone should know about their significant other and what I learned too late.

Does this situation sound familiar?

Husband walks in the door, wife is instantly annoyed because husband is late from work and has thrown his socks on the floor tired from his long day. Wife says “Thanks a lot. Now I have to pick those up AGAIN,” under her breath. Husband becomes annoyed because the last thing he wants is to be nagged straight when he gets home and counters with “Seriously? This again?”

All of this could be prevented and especially before it gets worse. If husband knows socks on the floor are a hot topic, why are they on the floor? The kind act would be to place them where they don’t then have to be picked up. When wife made the snide remarks about his socks, it instantly made husband feel defensive escalating the conversation.

Here’s another situation. Husband walks in the door and places socks in the hamper knowing wife likes that. Wife says “Thanks for keeping those picked up. That means a lot to me,” adding positive reinforcement to his kid act. Husband gives wife a huge kiss and kids shout “gross!” from across the room. Beautiful, right?

Both set off by each choosing one small change.

Reading The 5 Love Languages, by Gary D. Chapman, recommended to me by a good friend (Thanks Dawn!), has completely changed my perspective on my past marriage and all relationships (including my kids, close friends, and family). 

It states that there are 5 love languages which are “spoken”. Many people have more than one. 

1. Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.

2. Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.

3. Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.

4. Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.

 

Physical touch? I’m not going to go too deeply into this one since you can use your imagination for most of it, but a back or foot rub after a long day is a big one that gets overlooked. Holding hands more and making sure to get small kisses in more often. It’s too easy to let each day go by and not set time aside for the small things in this one because of work, kids, and housework and remember… “Hugs… release oxytocin, the bonding hormone that appears to build trust, reduces fear, and increase compassion and generosity.” Sounds good to me!

Here’s to the jerk parent!

As I was driving around today, picking up new bikes for my kids I purchased from other people whose kids had outgrown them, I started to tear up hoping they’d like the bikes because their dad just went out and bought them each new $200 mountain bikes.

My ex and I have very different ideas when it comes to raising kids and how to show love.

When my kids ask for something, he says yes. If it’s not a birthday, holiday or need, I  typically say no. I’m the jerk parent.

They visit the Nike store regularly and the girls have so many Nike sweatshirts and tennis shoes, it’s ridiculous. Here they get excited about our consignment store “binge purchases” where they each spend $60 and receive roughly 14 new (name brand) outfits each.

When they want to watch, read or try something new, he buys it. At my house we try the library, dollar store and finally consignment shops first for ideas.

When my 11 year old loses her lunch box, he buys her a new one immediately. I would’ve had her brown bag it for a few weeks in hopes she learns to take better care of her belongings or at least look harder for them. I’m the jerk parent.

He does all the expensive and extravagant vacations. I believe kids can have fun on road trips to wherever and make your own nachos in the kitchenette after a day on the beach. (And I was right on that one, we had a blast.)

This doesn’t mean that his versions are any more right or wrong than mine, but if he’s going to choose all the expensive ones, then I’ll gladly chose the lesser to keep my kids feet on the ground.

I hope to help them understand that shiny and brand new does not always mean it works or looks better. Wearing the latest thing or name, means nothing. I just recently bought a cute, flowy shirt from Rite Aid for $8 (Yes! Rite Aid), and I had so many compliments on it at work and no one could believe it. My girls thought it was hysterical.

So I get to be the jerk parent who has to make sure they keep from being spoiled and hopefully have a better understanding of reality and money as they get older. I get to be the parent who says no, write it on a list, sorry you’ll have to go without, you’ll be ok without it, and you could save up for it. I’m ok with that.

As adults, we can’t just walk around randomly asking for everything and receiving it. I wish. So if I have to be the jerk parent who says no, but they become better people for it later, I’m ok with that too.

My kids love me and the amount of time that we spend together coming up with cheap, hair-brained ideas. Our time together and the memories are better than any store could provide. When their Nike sweatshirts and shoes don’t fit anymore, my girls will have all the pictures and memories of how mom did just as great and with so much less.

So cheers to being the jerk parent…some day they’ll get it.

Are you a proud jerk parent?

 

 

What we don’t say but should.

About a year ago, I was brushing my girls hair after a shower. I asked them to look in the mirror and name one thing they liked about themselves. I was floored that they couldn’t. They actually even got upset.

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I know the things to not say in front of them, and I always compliment them too. I don’t put myself down in front of them (sadly I do in my head) but I don’t pat myself on the back either. I always feel like I can do better, and I’m the worst at accepting compliments. However, it’s not just about what we say. It’s also about what we don’t.

So I did. I complimented things about myself over and over until they started to giggle. Finally they each picked something about each other. They found that easier to start. Then they found things about themselves. Then we went into things we’re good at and we found it hard to stop. Soon we were in fits of laughter because one fessed up to loving her toes. Lol.

We decided to do this more often. Even though I was on a quest for them, I found it was good for me too. It’s too easy to focus on the negative all the time.

Even at 34 I’m still learning that.

Hopefully this new process is working. At least it appears to be when my youngest writes messages like this for me to find.

This is me