Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

PostHeaderIcon It’s 2013 and I’m way behind cause I have 3-year-old twins

Things have been moving non-stop for the last few months. It’s not like I don’t spend time sitting on the couch absorbing a couple of my favorite shows, but my down time is necessary for rebuilding the patience cells that are depleted throughout the day. My boys take some serious patience. They are amazing and imaginative. I am constantly in awe of the things that they say and do. It’s in between all of the good stuff that we have excruciating tantrums filled with blood curdling screams and big tears.

The tough part about 3-year-old twins (or any 3-year-old for that matter) is that you never know when they are going to strike with what. There are a cast of characters including whiny, nudnick, sweet, cuddly and crazy tantrum crybaby. One of my boys has an incredible knack for repeating the thing he wants over and over until you get mad or your give it to him. He commits to it and settles in. This can all fall smack dab in the middle of a day with new experiences and perfect behavior.

I am learning to keep my goals for the day simple and loose. I am learning that 2013 will be my chance to redefine how I live, make and accomplish my goals. It’s all going to happen (whatever that is), but I might have to stop along the way to relax or debate with a screaming toddler.

PostHeaderIcon Road Trip 2012: Journal by Pictures

PostHeaderIcon Please Touch Museum

For $150 we got a 4 person membership for our local Please Touch Museum. The kids love it and within two visits the membership has really paid for itself. Now toddler twins don’t make it easy, but with two adults it’s always a blast. Here are some images from our last trip. Can’t wait to go again. I highly recommend it as there are very few toddler-centric activities out there.

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PostHeaderIcon Vegetarian Thanksgiving….Yeah, it can happen

no meat 300x300 Vegetarian Thanksgiving....Yeah, it can happenI’m a vegetarian. I’m no hipster with a knitted cap and weird skinny jeans. I’ve been a vegetarian since high school, but really wanted to be one since birth. Let’s just put it this way, eating meat was torture and dinner time was hell. When my Mom gave up trying to get me to eat that piece of chicken and I realized I could create my own food destiny, I came out to my family as a vegetarian. Over the years, I’ve had to explain this to people. I’ve had to justify. Luckily, the hipsters have made it acceptable enough that I can just hang out and be a vegetarian with little to no questions. I have heard a thing or two about the diet I choose to feed my children, but that’s a story for another day (a long and annoyingly frustrating story!).

After 11 years of living with me, my husband’s meat eating had really dwindled down to the occasional BBQ chicken and steak in a restaurant. Recently, in an effort to do some healthy living, and as a result of multiple food documentaries on Netflix, my husband has gone all out vegetarian. We eat the occasional fish, but this is rare. Good fish is both expensive and generally far from local. Cooking a balanced diet has not been an issue. That is, until I remembered that Thanksgiving is held at our house. Thanksgiving with a room full of voracious meat eaters. So, now my Thanksgiving planning begins. A mostly vegetarian Thanksgiving (My meat eating brothers will prepare a turkey).

Unlike previous Thanksgivings, I will not ask someone to prepare a red meat dish for my picky father-in-law. I will not prepare a vat full of shrimp for everyone to attack as the turkey is being carved. And I will not concern myself over the number of heavy proteins on the table for these meat eaters. This year, I will give them all a taste of how we eat. I will let them all experience how well we eat, taste and satisfaction. There will be loosening of belts and long sighs over full bellies. There will be heavy eyelids. There will be Thanksgiving my way.

Stay tuned.

PostHeaderIcon Having fun on a dime

It’s no secret that most of us struggle financially to live the American Dream. In the best of economies, this is true. We all want more, whatever the definition of more is to us. Since having my little twin nuggets, that “more” has changed. Sure, I still love the hot new boots and a gourmet meal in a five star restaurant, but my kids come first. Like most parents, my husband and myself have chosen to re-prioritize to give our boys the best life possible. This means one income, less frills.

As a result of an almost frill-free lifestyle, I do not want to forsake the fun. The boys are getting older now and exposure to music, culture and art is becoming more important to me. Every week I do my research to try and plan at least one fun activity out of the house. Some weeks the surprises of life, such as a recent domino effect of plumbing issues, keep us from our fun day out. Nonetheless, I fill my arsenal of cheap or free days out in preparation. When you pay close attention, you really can come up with quite a list. Here are a few of mine. Feel free to share yours.

1. Festivals such as a recent Apple Festival in a nearby community. The general buzz of the festival is free and we bring our own food and beverages. If we choose, we can put out a little money for a pony ride or a sweet treat.
2. A trip to a different playground or park. We live in the Philadelphia suburbs. There are a ton of parks in our area, but on occasion we trek over to one in a nearby town or even in the city to get the kids excited about a new environment.
3. Free under 2- I have one more month on this one. There are some amusements that are free for kids under 2. One local money draining facility only requires that parents pay, but the fee is nominal. They are really targeting the older kids in these types of places.
4. Nature Center- My boys are nuts about animals, probably since they now know the sounds most animals make and can identify them in their books. There are local nature centers that are free or incredibly cheap and even provide a little education.
5. Story time at the library is a great one. My boys will soon be old enough to sit still for this. Some books stores also have great story time with music and costumes. Just do your research.
6. Airport is on top of my list but I have yet to visit one. My kids always point out planes in the air and get super excited. I’m thinking an air show or just the simple local airport might be an hour of fun.
7. The mall has its own hidden treasures. Shopping at the mall is pricey and my kids don’t like it. I really don’t ever drag them out on errands if I can help it. The local malls, however, do plan some special events geared toward parents of young children. Just because they get you there, does not mean you have to shop. Have fun, bring your own snacks and pay for coffee alone.

PostHeaderIcon Playing Outside with Toddler Twins

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One word: Challenging!!

In order to play outside with my two little ones I need a partner. Our yard is quite large and not fenced in. We try to keep the boys involved in their play set, but inevitably they run in the other direction. They love sticks, stones, mud, leaves and pretty much anything they can pick up, push or kick. All toddlers are a true test of patience, but twins are like a marathon every day. And taking them outside, while healthy and good, is so very exhausting. Whew! I welcome other parents to share their tips and tricks for keeping their toddler multiples occupied. For the time being, we’ll let them enjoy the air and get our baby workout on!

PostHeaderIcon Who knew it was upcycling??

So before there was a term called upcycling I was doing it. Had no idea I would eventually be so hip as a result of my passion for marrying art and junk. It all started because I grew up with the important lesson from my parents that things should not be wasted and if they can be fixed or reused, then do it.

Eventually, my collections of empty boxes, scraps of material, mismatched jewelry, old belts, etc. was parlayed into rehabbed (what I always called upcycling) old purses, sculptures and fancy boxes. Some were successful, some were not. When I started making jewelry amongst other things, this upcycling really came in handy. At this point, I try to use something from my collection in every project. I just don’t have an affinity for a bunch of store bought elements slapped together. No creativity!

As I organize my sewing room/dressing room and art studio I am coming across some of the pre-twin projects I started and some of my earliest pieces. Here are a few purse examples. I sported many of these. It was the 90s and I was in my twenties, so they might look a little ragged at this point. Still, fond memories and inspiration!

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PostHeaderIcon Garage Sale over: Next Project to Obsess over

The Garage sale went well. We had a really cool day which may have kept some people at home. Overall, I made $213. It’s better than nothing, but not quite the fortune I had anticipated. It did, however, force me to take stock of what was considered sale worthy and decide carefully where all of the remaining items should go.

As we cleared out the driveway I separated items as follows:

  • Continue to try and sell on CraigsList
  • Donate
  • Save for future craft project
  • Save for future Garage Sale

The reality is, I have a lot of junk but I also have a lot of space in my unfinished basement. As I was sorting things, I decided to go with the above mentioned categories because I could always decide on donating at a later date. When viewing 10 or so glass vases and about 10 champagne glasses I realized that I have been guilty of purchasing such items at the dollar store to create party decorations (centerpieces). So, why not create a stock pile for now? Other items for keep included pictures that had decent frames. If I can’t sell them, why not utilize the frames for my own decor- hell, there is always spray paint to really make stuff work!

Now, the keep for garage saling in the future, well that may be a bit presumptuous. But, I am a planner and planners often have a hint of hoarder to them (with thinking ahead and what not). These items walk a fine line between valuable and not valuable to me. Plus, they are too small or less than the $5-$10 mark that I think they must be for CraigsList. Yes, I categorize things like crazy- in my head, on paper and with labels.

This brings me to the next project: CraigsList sale items. Pictures, detailed listings and get those suckers outta here!!!

PostHeaderIcon Yard Sale Virgin

I admit it. I have ventured to many. Spent my money at a few. I even participated in a group yard sale. I, however, have never held my own yard sale. I actually never had much of a yard, or a driveway for that matter, to handle such an event. Until now!

As my family grows, acquires crap, grows out of crap, and just plain gets sick of crap its a general progression to the suburban yard sale. I started preparing for this yard sale over a year ago when we were moving. I packed boxes marked specifically for the occasion and put them in the corner of the basement. I have amassed a little mountain that is slowly creeping into the rest of the basement. So, fall is upon us and it is time to get grooving.

I’ll share with you how I’ve organized this event and then let you know if it worked. First, I started my assessing my wares and deciding on the categories. It always helps to be organized. It’s easier to manage others and if you have a map of your plan people are not always asking you where things go. My categories go something like this:

  • Clothing and shoes (overall, this is a fashion section)
  • Baby items (strollers, car seats, etc)
  • Dishes and kitchen utensils
  • Appliances and Electronics
  • Christmas Decorations
  • Office and craft supplies
  • Housewares/Decor
  • Lighting, Fixtures, Window coverings
  • Books, movies and toys

My plan is to hang the nicer clothes on a rack and neatly fold the remainder by general size and orientation (example: 4-10 women, infant boy, etc) in a retail style. The clothing, along with the remainder of the the smaller items, will also be sub-categorized by price. I would like to have, for example, an entire table or box that is $1, $2, etc. The big ticket items will be priced individually. You might think that pricing and organizing is jumping the gun a bit as the sale needs to be promoted. But, there is a method to my madness.

I advertised for this sale via Craigslist and Ebay Classifieds. In addition, I found a local news station that also allows you to put in a free ad for garage and community sales in the area. I created multiple ads every day starting one week prior to the sale. Some people only search by the most recent ad, so the duplication is necessary. Some of my ads (Craigslist) included the description of a big ticket item, like one of my twin strollers and infant car seats. This opened the sale up to really interested buyers early on and left it open to those on the fence to come to the yard sale. My internet campaign also included a message out to my Facebook friends.They were invited to sell their own stuff, come visit or pass the message on. The last form of advertising was very old school: signage. I found bright garage sale signs, some even staked for easy installation, at my local dollar store. I put up about 10 of them at the various entrances to my neighborhood. One sign sits on my front yard and the morning of the sale, two more will go at the end of my street to direct traffic (I don’t want to anger neighbors in advance).

The most important part of any retail environment, once you get the folks there, is keeping them there, shopping, happy and with the right customer service. For that, I am preparing a pot of coffee (should be a cool morning) and all the necessities for a proper store. Here is my list, but I invite you to customize for yourself:

  • Shopping bags
  • Wrapping paper/Newspaper (for fragile items)
  • Clear price tags and price signage (to provide a haggle starting off point)
  • Tape, markers and scissors (Cause you never know)
  • Calculator
  • Change (Dollar bills, small change and maybe a couple of $5 bills)

Ready to go! I’m following my yard sale bible and we will see how it works. I’ll report back to you later!

PostHeaderIcon Oh my Toddlers!

Usually, when people ask me how I have handled two, I just say “I don’t know any other way,” or “I don’t have a choice.” Really, aside from a lack of sleep or the pressures of using my body for 14 months of breastfeeding, having two was not that challenging.

Cut to 19 months. Oy.

At about 16 months my boys began to walk. They were late bloomers, which made me both anxious and relieved all at the same time. Now that they are walking, feeling confident about it and eager to explore, getting them into a car seat, stroller or height chair can be challenging. Ultimately, I have to deal with tantrums, screaming, crying, kicking, thrashing about and general mayhem. Now, I am challenged.

I am challenged in keeping my boys entertained and getting their energy out while maintaining my sanity. All suggestions of activities or appropriate toys or venues are all better suited for kids 2 and up or for singletons. Even as I strolled down the aisles of a discount store looking for an emergency vacation rainy day toy, I was struck at the gaping void of appropriate toys for toddlers.

Now I am convinced that the right book or strategically released toy would make some parents seriously happy.