Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My First Kid Craft Challenge!

Oh boy! I am super excited. I submitted my name for the Mom Trusted Kids Craft Blogger Challenge and was lucky enough to be selected to participate for December. I love crafts and have been meaning to incorporate more into DJ's routine. This little set up made it pretty easy. So, here's the scoop...

MomTrusted.com has links and ideas for hundreds of kids activities. Each month they send some surprise supplies to mommy bloggers and we are supposed to come up with a fun craft for kids to do using these supplies and include pictures and instructions. And that is just what I did. Yeah!

I was sent an envelope full of multi colored feathers, pipe cleaners and small tissue paper squares. I decided, since it is December and all, that DJ and I should make a Festive Holiday Tree. A fun and colorful project for a month full of holidays (and Birthdays in my home). It turned out to be a great centerpiece that she is proud of.


pipe cleaners
tissue paper squares
white glue
paper plates
construction paper
cotton balls

Color the plate and make a circle out of a pipe cleaner.

Twist 6 to 8 pipe cleaners around the original circle. Daphne said it looks like the Sun.

Carefully bend the pipe cleaners up and then twist them together at the tip top. Take a moment to gently bend them into a nice full cone shape and glue the original circle down to the center of your colored paper plate.

Prepare a second paper plate with a nice big glob of glue and another pile of glitter. We love glitter!

Dip the tips of each feather in glue.

And then dip it in glitter, of course.

They will look like this. Ooh, ahh, pretty.

Then, dip the quill of each feather in glue and place it towards the bottom of the "tree" on a pipe cleaner, glitter tips facing down. We started with the larger feathers on the bottom and worked our way up to the top of the "tree" with the smaller feathers.

Keep placing feathers all the way around, working your way towards the top in layers.

After all of the feathers are glued on, you can begin decorating the plate. We used the tissue paper squares and cotton balls to make it look like snowy grass under the "tree". Using the flat end of a crayon or eraser end of a pencil, wrap one square of tissue paper around it and pinch it in place with your fingers.

Dip the tissue squares in glue and place them all around the base of the "tree". Press down gently on the crayon or pencil to secure each tissue square and then slide the crayon up and out of the tissue. We used a little dab of glue for the cotton balls, too.

Cut a star shape out of construction paper and glue it to the top of your tree, right onto the twisted pipe cleaners. Voila! A fun and colorful Festive Holiday Tree. It turned out just like I had pictured in my head. I only used 6 pipe cleaners for the body of the tree. Next time I would use 8 pipe cleaners so that the base of the tree would be a little more full with feathers. I can see through spots at the bottom of ours. Other than that, I am pleased with this project. DJ loves it, too. She especially loved the dipping things in glitter part.

If you try it out, I would love to hear how it turns out or even see a picture. Hope you and yours have an amazing New Year! Peace and Love.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Where Did a Whole Month Go?

Oops. Really? A whole month (just over, actually, but who's counting?) has passed since my last post. This troubles me a bit. Only because writing is one of my favorite things to do now and I obviously do not get enough time to do it. I haven't been slacking off or anything. I'm sure that is what you are all thinking...unless, of course, you know me and that I have five kids and how finding that "me time" can be very tricky. Very tricky, indeed.

A couple posts ago I had a...what should I call it...a "mini meltdown", perhaps? I have since deleted that post for reasons that are my own, although I saved a copy and will re-post it again someday when the time is right. I am not ashamed of my feelings or my words. I own them. I am human. I do, however, need to protect myself sometimes...for now.

The reason I bring up the "meltdown" is because I have put a lot of changes into motion since that day. I realized, after putting my broken self in black and white for the world to see, that I needed to deal with some things in my life. I needed to make changes, make decisions, have conversations and figure out what exactly I want from this new strange life. Fifteen months ago I was a full time working mother of three. Overnight I became a stay at home mother of five. Before the twins I was focused, organized, busy and determined...in a good way. Since the twins were born I have been scatter-brained, indecisive and a little lost. I have also been extremely happy, though. I love being a mom so very much. I've said it before and I will say it again: motherhood is my favorite. Picture me saying it like Will Ferrell's character in Elf when he says, "I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite."

"I just like to be a mom. Being a mom's my favorite." But at the same time, I felt the real me slowly slipping away. I have had moments where I felt like I might drown. I was giving up so much and taking on way too much, all at the same time. I had to prioritize. That is where I have been for the last month or so. I feel much better. I have refreshed optimism (with a healthy side dish of realistic goals and expectations.)

Image from: http://www.srednja.hr/Novosti/Svijet/Otkriveno-koji-tip-ljudi-ima-najvise-sanse-za-uspjeh-i-srecu

What specifically have I changed? The most important thing I have done since the "meltdown" is to have a heart-to-heart talk with my beloved husband. I will begin by saying that I try very hard to leave my marital issues out of this blog out of deep respect for his privacy. I am the one who chose to put my life in print, not him. I must also clarify that when I say "marital issues", we have very few negative issues. He is an amazing man and my perfect match in every way possible. I love him unconditionally and trust him explicitly and I know, without a doubt, that he feels the same way about me. How could we possibly go wrong with a marriage like that, right?

One thing. Since the twins were born, bless their little hearts, we have probably experienced the hardest thing that we have ever had to deal with as a couple. Five kids is no cake walk. And after a little while, instead of leaning on each other as we should have, we sort of both retreated to our own corners, in our own ways, to lick our wounds like beat down dogs and suffer alone in silence. So silly. We should know better. So, we spoke our minds, we shed our tears and we made some changes that have already begun to work their magic. All is well and we are the stronger for it, both as a couple and as a family. Yeah us!

Where are my priorities? I am only taking on one volunteer project for the school this year. I am the Scholastic Book Fair Chair for my son's middle school. This is something that we can do together; bonding with each other while doing something important at the same time. Win-win.

Instead of quiting The Mommies Network, I took a leave of absence from my volunteer posts. After speaking with the founder of the organization, this seemed like the right choice. After the holidays are over, I will continue as chapter manager for MinneapolisMommies but I have chosen to step down as their Blended Families Forum Moderator. This will allow me to focus on the part that is most important to me, which is building a local community of mothers who can get together, support each other and go out and have a good time every once in a while. If I need these things, there have to be a whole lot of other moms that do to.

I am making an effort to play my guitar more. I am even trying to write a song or two and have started to get callouses on the tips of my left fingers again, which I haven't had since high school. I am putting no pressure on myself and it feels good. Whatever happens, happens. I am not working out, trying to get the perfect body back. I probably won't get to fulfill a long time dream to be in a musical this summer. I am not going to be in a pageant and represent my town. There are so many things that I want(ed) to do, but I am learning to accept the fact that not all of these wishes will turn out to be. I am forcing myself to be much more choosy in my efforts. This will help me not feel let down or broken hearted. I don't want to be the girl that is all talk with no follow through. I am now trying to allow myself to really focus on the most important things. This will take some discipline.

I just celebrated my birthday. I am now 36. I am 100% okay with this. I embrace my aging. Although, a thought did cross my mind this week. I had a moment where I was sad because I realized how old I was and that I had nothing to show for it. No career, no degree. I had not accomplished a single dream that I had for myself from when I was a kid. I am not even remotely close to where I thought I would be. This moment of sadness was brief. Partly because many of those dreams were far fetched and a tiny bit unrealistic for regular people. But mostly, the sadness was brief because I thought to myself, "Ginny, don't be an idiot. Look at your life." I have a lot to show. I have an adoring husband and five of the best kids a mom could ask for. I have a house and two cars, health insurance, savings and investments. I have a huge family full of love and support for each other. I am healthy and alive. I get to be a stay at home mom! I have food in the refrigerator and clothes on my back. Not everyone can say all of these things. I am not saying it to brag or to pat myself on the back. I am saying it for perspective. I am saying it to remind myself that I have no reason to feel bad about what I have or have not done with my life.

I am going to digress for a moment...but when the hell did we become grown-ups? Seriously. Over the last year there has been so much change and loss and pain and happiness. I have lost old friends and acquaintances to cancer, suicide and death by natural or unexplained causes. People in my world have experienced abuse and divorce, marriages, births and miscarriages, custody battles and lawyer bills. New homes have been purchased and old homes have been lost or sold. There have been home improvements, both planned and not so planned. (Don't even get me started on my damn boiler heat issue) Jobs have come and gone. Life is in constant motion all around us and it can knock us on our asses at times by the pure heaviness of it all. I was out with an old girlfriend a few weeks ago and we were in total disbelief about all of the real "grown-up shit" that has unfolded itself before us, and people we know, from all possible angles. One day you are twenty years old and then you blink and suddenly you are an adult and real life just sort of happened all around you. Again, perspective. I really need to complain a lot less.

So, what do I want? I want to continue being a stay at home mom. I want to be more patient. I want to be a better wife and mother. I want to write more. I want to volunteer. And I have decided to go back to school and finish my two year Associates degree that I started back in 2001. I will officially be a full time student, entirely online, in January. This is my list to focus on. These are the things I have decided are most important to me. These are the things that made the cut. This is how I move from sink to swim. Wish me luck.