Definitely not 29

Categories: Family, Happy Things, Life

Family Portraits095I’m having a birthday this weekend. I love birthdays. I love that Iddo calls them happy birthdays. She’s been asking if I’ll have my friends help me with my happy birthday and says she’ll be four on her next happy birthday (she just turned 3 a month ago). But she knows we have to have my happy birthday, Brett’s happy birthday, and Shimri’s and Shimei’s happy birthdays before it’s her happy birthday again. That’s a lot of happy.

Many moons ago when I turned 29 I joked that it was my first 29th birthday. But a year later when I turned 30 I was more than glad to claim 30 and be done with being a twenty-something. The 30s are so much better than the 20s. My 30s have been amazing. They’ve had some crappy points too, of course. But life has been real good for me in my 30s.

So I’ll be celebrating the anniversary of my birth this weekend, not the anniversary of my 29th anniversary of my birth. And I know for a fact that it’ll be a very happy birthday too. I have a lot to be happy about right now.

Things to think about

Categories: Health, News, Science & Tech

NPR: Parents Can Help Reduce Pain And Anxiety From Vaccinations
I read this article the evening after taking Shimei in to get some blood work done where the phlebotomist complimented me on how calm I was while holding him and that it made it so much easier on her and him because of it. I hate to see my kids hurting. But I know they pick up on the slightest little mood change I have and I know the shot will be over so fast so I stay calm and sing in their ear and they’re over it before the band-aid is fully applied.

NPR: Overworked Americans Aren’t Taking The Vacation They’ve Earned
I was terrible at taking my vacation days when I was a school teacher because that involved finding a sub and writing lesson plans and then playing catch-up when I got back. I don’t think I had any vacation days when I worked while as a grad-student. And there aren’t exactly vacation days in my current job either (but I definitely make time to take care of myself). However Brett and I make sure we use all of his vacation days every year. And when we actually do leave the house for vacation and aren’t just hanging out at home we also do our best to disconnect not just from work but from social media as well. More people should be like us. ;)

Scientific American: New Dwarf Planet Found Far beyond Pluto
National Geographic: Why We Missed This Nearby Mini-Planet for So Long
More planets!! I want someone to redo the “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos?” thing to include all the dwarf planets that have been identified. Wait till they give this one a name though.

Scientific American: The Magic of “Untranslatable” Words
I’m not a linguist. But even before learning Portuguese I knew there weren’t enough words in English to describe the entire human condition. I really like that this guy is collecting feeling words from around the world. Maybe there’s a language that has words to help out Dave Matthews and Grover.

Road Trip Bag of Tricks

Categories: Featured, How To, Life

As we were preparing to spend 52 hours in the car last month I knew our biggest challenge would be keeping the kids happy while they were strapped down in their car seats that long. Turns out we have awesome kids and they mostly slept or just enjoyed the ride so we didn’t need to worry as much as we did. But we were prepared nonetheless.

For starters we arranged the car seats so Shimri and Shimei were rear-facing in the middle row and Iddo was sitting in the back row. I sat in the back with Iddo which meant I could see and reach everyone and had awesome leg room.

Entertaining himself.We left for the first, and longest leg of our trip, at bedtime. We got the kids ready for bed and then put them in the car instead of their beds. We stopped 4 hours later for gas. We stopped after another 4 hours for gas, breakfast, and to get the kids dressed. They went back to sleep and it wasn’t until we stopped for lunch 12 hours into our 13 hour drive that they all woke up. Brett listened to audio books to stay awake as he drove all night. We weren’t able to do the same trick for our next four legs (each about 6-7 hours long). But it worked great for the longest stretch and we’ll probably do it again.

For snacks and munchies we had vegetables, flat bread (because it’s less crumbs than rolls), homemade crackers (2 cups flour, 3 tbls olive oil, 3/4 cup water, bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes) and our minimal trail mix of Cheerios and craisins. We love Munchie Mugs for kids to snack from because they don’t spill even if you turn them upside down and shake them. And the company has excellent customer service.

For Shimri and Shimei I grabbed our tote of toys and kept it at my feet to toss one in their lap to play with when they got bored or dropped whatever they were playing with before out of their chair. Shimei had a lot of fun entertaining himself with his wash cloth. He’d put it on his head and play peek-a-boo or shake his head till it fell off.

And then I went to Pinterest and got some ideas for activities to keep Iddo entertained. Thus my bag of tricks.

Random Giggles: Road Trip Bag of Tricks

We get the little plastic zipper bags from the dentist and they turned out to be the perfect size to keep supplies in. I made some quick cloth bags to keep thicker/bigger things in. And I had a binder with sheet protectors to keep bigger/thin things in. Then the whole set went into a free bag I got from my OB with Brett’s old Pac Man metal lap tray and it was my bag of tricks.

I pulled some Legos and had Iddo help me make stacks with them before we left and then colored the cards so she could make matching stacks while we were gone. She enjoyed making random stacks more than the matching. The page to make the cards can be downloaded here.

Big colorful beadsI found some super-sized beads and colorful beading strings at Jo-Anns. I grabbed some pipe cleaners and figured she could bend them or put beads on them or whatever she wanted to do.

Colored pencils (because they don’t melt or color on other things) and some half-sheet coloring pages were great. Since we were going to Yellowstone I printed coloring sheets that showed Old Faithful or animals we’d see on our trip. I also bought a pack of Crayola dry erase crayons and found a dry erase board at the dollar store. Coloring was a great activity.

We had Ikea finger puppets and a travel sized Magna Doodle. We had some animal Olliblocks to play with.

I bought some animal lacing cards at the dollar store but the cardboard didn’t hold up as well as the foam ones I made. I used our cookie cutters to put an impression on the foam and then cut it out and punched holes around them with a regular hole punch. She had a lot of fun with them.

Squigz are always a great toy. They stuck to the metal lap tray too.

We made a pair of binoculars with three toilet paper rolls and some duct tape and electrical tape so she could use them to look at things out the window. She has a small fleece marble maze. And I put together a scavenger hunt but we never pulled it out. She calls over-passes “unders” so that’s how I labeled them on the scavenger hunt. It’s better to be over-prepared than under.

We never once pulled out a screen of any kind for the kids. No movies. No shows. No digital games. Just the way we did it when we were kids. It helps that our kids slept so great in the car. But they’d miss too much if we were too quick to pull out screens for them. We’ll see how well our next trip goes.

Something to talk about

Categories: Education, Learn Something, News, Random

If you are looking for things to talk about around the water cooler or at dinner, here are a few options.

National Geographic – Is Iceland Really Green and Greenland Really Icy?
That whole Iceland/Greenland name thing so people wouldn’t attack either isn’t a factual thing. The truth is, as it generally is, much richer and more interesting. And the photo of the houses at the end is just gorgeous! I love the colors.

National Geographic – What a Toilet Shows About Life During the American Revolution
Fascinating! Pretty sure our toilet won’t help future archeologists learn a whole lot about us. But isn’t it great how much we can learn from these ones?

NPR – The People Vs. Coloring Books: The Verdict Is In
Iddo got some coloring books for her birthday and is in heaven. I myself love to color pre-drawn pictures. But I, and Iddo too, love to draw my own pictures as well. I recall last summer drawing pictures on our back wall using sidewalk chalk with Iddo. The scene had three suns, left, center, and right. They were all happy. I realized while drawing that for her that I almost always, probably 99% of the time, draw my sun on the left. I kind of liked the one in the center best and have tried to mix it up where the sun is ever since. When (not if, because I know it will happen) our kids come home from school with worksheets that have a coloring element I’ll encourage them to be creative with colors and use the lines as mere suggestions. :)

NPR – Personality Can Change Over A Lifetime, And Usually For The Better
One of my big beefs, and I have several, with personality tests is the requirement that you answer how you would have as a child in order to determine your “true” personality. Bull! I’ve known ever since people started giving me personality tests that my personality is not the same as it was when I was a child. I’m glad the science is finally catching up with what I’ve always just intuitively known.

And for a little bit of beauty, check out this lovely Rose is Rose comic strip – “To dance is to dream in motion.

Two More Turtle Quilts

Categories: Quilting/Sewing/Knitting/Crafting

The thing with twins is that you often have twice as many things to get ready for them but you don’t have twice the time. Which is why if it took me two months after Iddo was born to finish her turtle quilt, it isn’t surprising it took me just over 13 months to finish Shimri’s and Shimei’s turtle quilts. They did have mommy flannel blankets when they were born, so they haven’t been without a blanket. But their quilts are finally done. And I love them. I love that each of our kids’ quilts are unique but that there are elements in each that tie them together too.

The backgrounds and turtles are all from the same fabrics and they all have pinwheel blocks at the corners. The girls both have flying geese borders (Shimei’s is a piano key border) and their turtles face the same direction. The green and white fabrics on Shimri’s and Shimei’s quilts are the same. The bows on the girl turtles and the blue balloon on Shimei’s quilt are the fabrics from their coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits.

Iddo's turtle quilt
Shimri's turtle quilt Shimei's turtle quilt

And yes, per Brett’s request, those are Mario style mushrooms on Shimei’s quilt.

I hope they can always feel the love I put into these when they wrap up in them.

Fool-proof way to pack for a trip

Categories: Featured, How To, Life, Random, With the Kiddos

Random Giggles: How to Pack Kids for a TripWe recently took a 10 day, 9 night, 4 hotel room, 3,000 mile, 52 hours in the car road trip. We are 2 parents, 1 pre-schooler, and by the time we got home 2 full-time toddlers (Shimri and Shimei both decided walking is their thing while we were gone). You can imagine how much we packed into our van.

The basics included 2 pack-n-plays, a double stroller, a baby carrier, 3 high chairs/booster seats with 3 folding chairs to put them on, 2 camp chairs, diapers and wipes, food, books, toys and games, cameras and computers, pillows and blankets, and of course clothes.

I packed clothes for myself for that long in a carry-on sized bag and Brett did the same. My problem was how to pack the kids’ clothes. Because their clothes have a lot less mass and volume there is greater chance of them getting all mixed up and jumbled if left loose. And the internet’s suggestion to put each outfit for each kid for each day in a ziplock bag was going to be way too many bags for me. So I figured out something better and cheaper. And as a bonus, it worked out that without having to ask, Brett knew what each kid was supposed to wear each day too.

I started by laying them all out on the floor, in order, and lined up next to each other. Iddo likes to match Shimri whenever possible and I like when Shimri and Shimei coordinate so seeing everyone’s clothes together helped. I made sure each kid had a full outfit for each day and then started bundling them up.

Laying out the clothes

Instead of putting each bundle in a bag, I rolled them up and put an elastic band around each bundle. I tucked a slip of paper with the child’s first initial and date for that outfit in the elastic. Then I just put the clothes for all three kids, in reverse order, in a carry-on.

The pockets of the carry-on held spare clothes on case someone got sick, hats, and swimsuits.

It was super easy. And since a lot of the elastic bands came free with newspapers and produce, a lot cheaper than 30 ziplock bags.

If I figure out an easier way to pack the rest of this, I’ll definitely let you know.

But not the kitchen sink

Laundry Day

Categories: Happy Things, Life

I love the smell of laundry dried outside. It has a crispness to it that makes it feel that much cleaner. And I don’t care how much a laundry product says it makes your laundry smell like sunshine or fresh air, it pales in comparison to the real thing. It’s like the lotion I had as a kid that said it smelled like citrus blossoms and I couldn’t understand why that was supposed to be a good thing because the lotion didn’t really smell that great. And then I smelled real citrus blossoms and the scent was pure heaven, and absolutely nothing like the lotion when I was little. The real thing is always so much better.

So on days like today when it’s in the 90s (thankfully not the 100s, yet) and there’s a good wind blowing, it’s nice to have a line up for laundry day. Our sheets will be heavenly to fall asleep on. And they make for a great treat to play with for the toddler. Her laughs and smiles add an extra level of freshness to our laundry.

Around! Through!

Happy Laundry Day!