We are nearly 1 week in and I have had a constant ebb and flow of children flowing around me. Today is my first time at my desk in about 7 days…
First of all, it is officially summer because someone broke a bone. The past 4 years one of our friends has been broken, this year is our turn. On the second to last day of school #1 had a collision with a friend while playing a game and they both went down. Slapping out only works when your friend doesn’t fall directly on your bent wrist. Hey, could have been worse, it is in a half cast, meaning the bottom is a cast and the top is a bandage so she can actually wash. (Only some of us count this as a perk…) She can do most things but it is sad to tell her she really can’t go to the climbing park with a friend. I’m on the lookout for a brace she can wear to swim, that should make the summer much better. She doesn’t really swim laps but she does enjoy pool time with sisters and friends.
Here are the first-day last day pictures – I’m always amazed by how much they grow in one school year.
Over the past 6 days, my kids have either had friends over, been over their house, or we met somewhere for them all to play. I don’t think I can keep this up all summer but it has been fun.
This weekend we had #3’s birthday party. We did an archery theme and the kids all had a great time. When you have a giant yard, why not just lean in? We have a softball field on one side of the garden and an archery range on the other. The party had some cute crafts for me to get excited over (thanks Pinterest) and thankfully #1 has the right blend of bossy and professionalism that she could run the archery range for the kids that wanted to do it for over an hour. Others choose to play elsewhere after the official archery, cake, gifts portion of the party was done. I like building in free play, I like even more when it works! If they were listless I had a backup plan but they bopped between playing with new toys, archery, and playset pretty nicely until parents came to collect them. Birthday season Complete!
Sunday we were supposed to meet the girl scouts for an end of year gathering at a park but the weather looked ominous so I volunteered our house. We were already tidy from the party the day before, not to mention had an archery range, so we had about 45 people for a couple of house for a very fun, zero stress party. Since we were expecting to be in a park, everyone already had food and drinks and even dishware ready so all we did was move a few things around and instant party! We had another dozen kids at archery and one mom even decided to clean up so when I got in from the yard the kitchen was cleaner than when they got there. She is invited to every party from now on.
Monday I was going to ‘take it easy’ but we were invited out to a park and I can’t resist. We were meeting #2’s friend there so I picked up other friends on the way so everyone could play. Pleasant morning and easy afternoon after dropping off again and then we were off to softball for a picture-perfect evening (even if we lost yet another game).
Tuesday and Wednesday #1 and #2 were signed up for a local safety camp. They learn a bunch of personal and bike safety lessons but most importantly they interact with the local police in a positive way. Half the kids there were familiar, including one girl that #2 saw and asked “did you play softball last night?” yes she did, I didn’t recognize her at all but #2 has a knack for faces. #3 had a playdate half of Tuesday so I had a tiny bit of time to do things at home but the afternoon got crazy with camp pickup, dash home then out to gymnastics then sprinting to softball. #3 moved up a level and is getting good at gymnastics and our Tuesday softball session was great and the game ended in a tie. Wednesday camp invited #3 to come back at noon for lunch and then a BMX bike trick show and then a magic show. The bike guy did have some lessons on trying hard and safety that fit the theme, the magic show was just pure fun as far as I can tell. It wasn’t the day I imagined but it was pretty fun. #2 even won a bike in the drawing.
And now we are at home today. The first day I don’t have plans to leave the house EARLIER THAN A SCHOOL DAY. How did that happen? We do have an extra child who slept over, we are expecting 2 more after lunch and #1 has a babysitting job at 3:30 so when I bring her we will go do the grocery shopping etc
Oh! Nearly forgot my crazy week last week included an awards dinner, a scholarship presentation thing that took about 45 hours, a school board meeting, and finally the graduation event itself. The speakers were fabulous, the weather was perfect, it was impeccably organized and if there was a glitch I didn’t see it. They all say handing out the diplomas is the best part of the school board and I think I agree.
May all 88 days of summer be so fun
When we were designing the house there was a wide hallway with 4 doorways and an opening (is that 5 doors or not? The last is more an arch and has no door) that was between our garage door and the rest of the house. On the single uninterrupted wall, they put in a bench and ta-da, they call the area a mudroom. I called it a *future* mudroom because it really had no place to hang anything. It got higher on my priority list when kids got back to school and there were backpacks all over the floor. It got even higher when it got cold and jackets joined the jumble. As with all good projects we start with Pinterest, but, one of my constant annoyances with Pinterest is that there are no directions, this is my contribution to the mudroom category.
I have no before picture – imagine a navy room with a built-in bench.
First step was to evaluate use. For us we need lots of coat and backpack hooks at a height that my kids can actually reach. I also wanted a shelf for cool hats, I have a pretty good collection so they needed a spot. We also end up with wet stuff a lot so we needed wall protection.
Second step design and research. After some Pinterest searches, I fell in love with the ‘pretty shelf holders’ but that is not the name for them; they are corbels and can be very tricky. Some I found are decorative only, made of a plastic or hard foam. I needed structural corbels and the internet has plenty, some are very expensive, and I ended up getting them from Home Depot; 2 for $15 (I got 2 packs).
Home Depot also had wainscoting (the decorative wood panels) for $12 a panel, our wall is 90 inches so we needed just under 2 full panels. They are pretty flimsy MDF but they got less brittle after 2 coats of paint. I made the needed cut, using a circular saw, on the far corner and just ignored the asymmetry. I wanted to avoid too much cutting so I tested the hight dimension on the wall for hook rail #1 before I bought them and it worked for us.
Both hook rails and the shelf are pine from the dimensional lumber section. The hook rails are 1x4x8 and the shelf is 1x8x8. They cost about $20 total.
I painted everything (SW7005) Pure White to match our trim, the base of the bench and the door frames.
I marked the studs with masking tape in the area I was not planning on putting anything so I didn’t have to constantly look for them. In my 90 inches, I had 5 studs to work with. One thing I’ve had problems with in the past is overloading coat hooks so I wanted to make sure this was very strong. Yes, Dad, I overdid it I am sure, but now I know I can put everything, including a bag of
bricks books, on the hooks. Here is my hardware/mounting list (not the order of building)
- 2 of the 3 corbels are mounted on studs, 3rd is on a screw in anchor
- The bottom hook rail is mounted using 3in #10 cabinet installation screws
- The long sections of top hook rail are also mounted to studs with the 3in #10
- The two short sections of the top rail use wall anchors rated for 50lb
- Wainscoting is held up by finishing staples from a nail gun, but, finishing nails would work fine.
Order of building;
- Wainscoting first, making sure it was perfectly level. Fun fact, the bench is not level… I kept the nails around the edge for easier painting later.
- Lower rail next. I positioned the screws so I could cover them with hooks
3. Corbels mounted per directions – I decided on the height by a very scientific method; I put a mark where I could still reach but was high enough to look balanced on the wall. I’ve done enough ‘rule of 3rds’ that it is just part of my life. I like to use post-its to mark so I can stand back and look and easily move if I need to.
4. Cut sections of wood for the top rail, mine were 4 different lengths so cutting had to be after corbels. I decided anchoring to the studs was more important than perfect symmetry. In planning, I made sure each long section would have a stud, the short sections I used toggle bolts.
5. The shelf is mostly held by gravity but to be more secure I used the nail gun along the back to anchor it to the top rail.
6. I added hooks, starting by covering my fasteners and then eyeballing (using pink post-its) the others. The lower hooks are the bigger style and the uppers are small because I didn’t want to bang into the shelf above so I needed a low profile.
7. Touch up paint. Went over all the nail heads and the seam of the wainscoting and along the joins of the rails to the shelf above. Looks way better with the hairline cracks filled in with paint
8. Clean up all the tools, trash, and dust and took a picture because this is likely the last time it will be so empty ever!
There are 2 things I wish I could have done differently.
First, I’m not wild about how the upper rail looks cut up because it is slightly thicker than the back of the corbel. Paint helped but the only real solution would have been to put in verticle strips but that would have looked bad because my spaces were not equal, or, even with the wainscoting. I found other places on Pinterest that did the same so I’m not the only one with the quandary. I don’t think anyone will really notice.
Second, I would have preferred to run a router grove on the lower rail so it nested over the wainscoting adding to the structure. I didn’t because my router is still at a friends house and I wanted to get this done and he was on vacation. It worked out fine so far at least.
Even with those two reservations, I’m really happy with how this turned out. I’m proud to contribute this to the Pinterest universe.
Oh! I was asked about the color and we used SW6244 – navel here and in the front hall and it is scary dark on the chip but awesome in person. The bench stain is Koa, the flooring is a vinyl plank laid in a herringbone pattern (left that to the pros!)
When we started this semi-impulsive move I looked ahead and saw that there were absolutely 2 birthday’s that would be quite in the thick of things and decided I HAD to give myself a break from doing ‘too much’ for the birthdays. However, Fiona and Zoe’s birthday shouldn’t really suffer too much from our move so I tried to find a compromise. Here is what I did.
#1. Since their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart, we found a weekend (the only free weekend day) in between and put their party on ONE day.
#2. We decided to use our new YMCA as the venue since they offered decent party packages and did have our date available so in a nod to the two kids, we actually booked 2 parties
- Zoe turning 7 had more options based on age so we booked her a 3 hour party that included 1h of swimming, 1h of the bounce house, and 1h in the party room.
- Fiona turning 5 had fewer options and to stagger the starts we just booked her a 2 hour party with 1h in the bounce house and 1h in the party room.
- The staggered start meant we could greet each party of kids independently and they moved together as a group and we finished all together in the party room for 2 cakes.
#3. I gave myself a ‘pass’ on making all my decorations and running around to 3 different stores went to Oriental Trading and just clicked around until I had a party in a box. *because of my ongoing relationship with them, Oriental Trading treated me to this build your own birthday party in a box and in return I’m telling you all about it!
- The girls agreed on the emoji theme and that is pretty in right now so it was an easy enough shopping trip. There is even an emoji category at Oriental Trading in the party theme section. I had to cover the standards;
- Table wear; plates, cups, napkins
- treat bag and filling
- some decor to fill up the impersonal (yet nice) room
- a craft to have something to do while food is served etc
I had to be a little creative in some ways and in others there was a super obvious and easy choice but here is the party fresh out of the shipping box (a box I have reused and packed a bunch of family pictures in);
The EASY part was treat bag! First I saw the cellophane bags (bottom right) and then I found the face bag (top right) and I just got both. I hedged my bets about size and quality and in the end I actually used both. The face bags have a narrow top but are otherwise really cute and easy to fill. I put Boom Chicka Pop, the most awesome popcorn, into the cellophane bags and that gave me some nice bulk. The other goodie bag fillings were also pretty easy to hunt up – the emoji stickers, stampers, and pins were all on the theme and good value.
Second most easy were the craft. There are emoji scratch off crafts front and center on the site. They really don’t create anything grand but kids really love scratching off the black to make the design and each packet comes complete for the craft so it was just hand one per kid and let them do what they do.
The Harder part was table wear. Napkins and cups, no problem. No easy options for plates? I searched emoji and smile and nada in the plate family but then I saw these ninja plates and figured they would work just fine. I ended up just using some leftover paper plates for the dinner plate so it was all fine and looked festive. **going back today for links I see they have a dinner plate now! Must have been sold out, but no cake plate so my ninja pick is still a good tip if you are doing an emoji them birthday**
The Hardest part was decor. I didn’t need balloons because filling a balloon you purchase elsewhere is nearly impossible so I just buy them here. In the end, I got the plain yellow pennant banner and my sharpie and I decorated while we watched some TV the night before. Let me tell you, a 200f banner is REALLY long. It did make the room look emoji theme with only 1 decoration so that is a big impact. I ended up cutting it so I had a big one on the wall and a small one to decorate the serving table.
Overall a party in a box + a venue I didn’t need to clean made it a very fun and pretty easy party. There were questions of service and organization on the part of the Y, but, I’m working on that. Let’s just say you can’t expect much from teen party assistants….
It is not a secret that Oriental Trading is an easy one stop party shop but now there is proof that in 20min of shopping and a few minutes of assembly you can have a nearly Pinterest worthy party with nearly no effort.
I’m not sure I’ll be stacking parties like this again, it was a whirlwind, but give the time we have it was the best we could do and everyone had a good time so that is what counts.
Last night after I finished up here I got a phone call telling me that Niamh won a competition in school for her grade. It was for an anti-drug poster and I’m really glad she won, not just because winning is cool, but she has asked me at semi-regular intervals since LAST YEAR why she didn’t win last year and daily since she turned in her poster this year. She did a good one but I’m torn because it was not exactly original because she got the idea from Pinterest. On the other hand, I like the use of research tools, and, interpreting the picture on the screen into real life. It was a real project, she got leaves from the yard as templates and then cut them out of construction paper. She wanted me to draw the tree and I did but I declined to help more. It came out about how you would expect an artistic 3rd grade project to be. Maybe now she will get a little more confidence in her art.
I am also glad she won because Zoe has been raking in the rewards from school this week. My thought is that 1st grade just gives them out more than 3rd, and, Zoe may be an ‘example’ kid in her class. (I think she saves her crazy for home) because she said she got one today for being the only kid doing what the teacher asked. Honestly, I would like a little more of that good listening at home and a few less kudos from her teacher, but, she actually is good at just getting things done. Regardless, Niamh was feeling left behind and not good enough but this came at just the right time.
It also happened that I was able to go to school to see her get the award. I remind myself I choose to stay home so I could be there for my kids. They don’t need a super clean kitchen, my contract work is flexible on timing, and if I can I should so I did! She was double happy to see me AND I was able to get tons of good pictures of all the kids to post on the PTA facebook site.
Today I started the list of what to do before we leave. I combined culling out the summer clothing, because winter is really here, with pre-packing for the trip and I’m done with 2:5. If I keep this up I’ll be mostly packed over a week early, that is a new record for me. There are also a few lingering things like bikes that need to be really put away but fall is seriously the best biking weather. I think the list is do-able, just need to keep doing.
And with that, I’m off to do more.
Waaaay back when Pinterest was super new, this was one of the first things I pinned.
Every year I got to thanksgiving and just never got around to doing it, or, decided we had enough dessert and I didn’t want a whole box of cones just to make a few. This year we were looking for school snack ideas and Vola! this finally came to the top of the pile.
Since it is for school, I’m not sending a cone of candy, so I decided to fill them with popcorn instead.
I went back to the original pin and read the post and there is a bunch of conflicting information on how to actually bend the cone. I can’t say the other methods don’t work, but for us this DID work easily.
- soak the cone tip in water for 15 seconds
- put the cone into a glad ware container (microwaveable and sealable) and microwaved for 15 seconds
- Immediately on removing from the hot steamy box, bend the tip by hand slowly and then hold it for a few seconds.
- Let dry on the counter
Niamh was in charge of soaking, Zoe handled microwaving, and I did the bending since it was a little hot but not burning. We did all 20 in under 10 minutes!
We found that the cone really does not hold much popcorn. Oops! so we just put a scoop of popcorn in a bag and nested the cornucopia onto it and taped the bag shut for easier opening on the other end. I didn’t want them ripping the bag and spilling, or, getting frustrated with ribbon. I happened to have some pumpkin candies so we added that in too for color.
By all reports the kids liked the popcorn, didn’t actually eat the cone. Oh well, it looked cool, and I think they were all happy to get something fun.
I’m pretty glad I finally tried this and it was actually really easy so I’m sure I will do it again.
I’m back to having the teacher that does class snack. Once a month each child brings the snack for the whole class and all the other days you don’t have to worry about snack. It is something I looked forward to when Niamh was in her class.
The first month we kinda phoned it in, didn’t really have time for anything involved because it was the second day of school . This month we had time and there is nothing more inspiring than Halloween on Pinterest. I think the site was MADE for Halloween. The only down side to Pinterest is that most of the time it is just an image and there are no instructions. This particular snack really does not need many instructions but some clarification of what I used might be useful to you
Our class is 21 kids and we made 3 extra for the teachers.
We used 9oz cups in ‘crystal clear’ (picture is bigger)
To seal the top we used Press n Seal (picture has fitting lids, no idea where she got those!)
It took 8lb of grape to fill the 24 cups. Seems excessive but, as you know, grapes bunches always have bad ones. We picked, inspected, then washed
In many of the pictures it looks like they use two marshmallows, but, we used 1 per cup cut in half and instead of drawing on a pupil on the cup we added a raisin. The cut marshmallow makes a very natural sticky side so sticking the raisin was easy, and, sticking it to the cup side was easy too.
We made the cups by;
- putting a bottom layer of grapes in each
- adding ‘eyeballs’
- filling in the remaining space with grapes
- closing up with press-n-seal
- drawing on smiles with a sharpie
The other consideration to class snack is how easily the child can manage 20+ snacks to school. Not that I love driving them daily, but, in cases like this the sky (or my weightlifting ability) is the limit because I don’t have to worry about the bus ride. So, if you found this through pinterest please please consider transport when creating group snacks! I used one of our many cardboard boxes because we have an addiction to amazon, and, to Blue Apron so we never without a transport box.
This project is super easy if you have the right things to hand. My 8 year old did the cutting, 6 year old did the pick/sorting and washing (I supervised). I cut the press n seal but Niamh sealed them all. I ended up doing the faces because they had to go to jujitsu but maybe I stalled so I could have that fun for myself….