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Another’s Perspective

Girls at Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

We met some friends at the Japanese Garden today. We got there earlier than they, and took that time to explore on our own. I used to come here regularly before kids, and only once or twice when Chloe was little. It is a lovely place, even in winter. Unfortunately, by the time our friends arrived, Leo was ready to go. However, we stayed for another hour or so, giving the girls time to hang out and enjoy being together. Leo was clingy and wanted holding the entire time. By the end I was ready to just get home.

Before leaving, we decided to exit the garden (no food or drinks allowed), and eat a snack outside the gates. The other mom is a newer friend of mine. She’s done a lot of traveling and living around the world, and married a man from another country. I love hearing about her experiences in other cultures, and I often see, by things she says, how it has informed her perspective.

Anyway, there are two particular instances that stick out in my mind, that I found myself thinking about later. The first is that she remembered to pack her daughter’s snack – a cheese quesadilla, some unpeeled clementines and a water bottle. I, on the other hand, did not consciously pack a snack, instead relying on what I happen to have in my bag for moments like this – a kids Clif bar, which Chloe and Leo shared, packets of organic gummies and two small juice boxes – all pre-packaged from the store. I also wiped my kids hands with a wet wipe and offered one. What do you think? Interesting to see the difference between the snacks, right? While I believe both are perfectly acceptable, I should have known, since my kids didn’t eat much for lunch, that they would be hungry. It was a good reminder to try and pack fresh more often than I do, though our impromptu snack was fine.

The other instance was when we got back to the parking lot. The mom took a peek inside our minivan, behind the kids’ row, and exclaimed “You could have a dance party back there!” It made me laugh, because it’s true (a preschool dance party anyway)! But her comment does put into perspective our choice of vehicle (newer, though we bought it used after David accidentally totaled our last car). I am really happy with it. It is comfortable for our family of four + dog, though it is the biggest car I’ve ever owned. It reminded me how lucky we are to be able to make these choices. From many perspectives, we are truly living the American dream right now. We have more than most. I don’t regret our choices (though I may in the future, and I did miss the AWD of our old vehicle when it snowed here a few weeks back). Looking through the other mom’s eyes was enlightening. It reminded me to be grateful. To be more conscious of my choices and time, and how they affect my children, our budget, and our family.

Sometimes an outside perspective really does work wonders.


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Transitions

siblings on the slide

I can say already that this is going to be a weird post. I know I’ve been neglecting this blog and I hope some day to get back into making it a part of my week again, but I’m just not sure when that might be. Its gone through several phases – randomness when I first started in 2006, a mommy blog after I had Chloe in 2008, a craft blog, and now I’m going to make it a personal journal? I don’t know, but I have a lot of things on my mind right now, and I think it might be good for me to share.

I’ll start with what’s likely to be the strangest one…I am having a really hard time accepting the fact that my son is potty trained. At 2 and a half years old, it’s a few months earlier than his sister, and yet everything I had read told me that boys were harder to potty train than girls. Well, that just wasn’t the case. I don’t know if its because we did everything right (read books, gave him opportunities, provided a fun and comfortable potty chair, had his sister encourage him, rewarded him with candy…), but he just decided one day that he was done. As a matter of fact, he might have been done months before that, but I didn’t really pay attention. Maybe he was ready, but I was not. And now, he’s done. No more diapers. Such a big, meaningful milestone…

An image of Leo painting at preschool, sent by his wonderful teacher

Walking the baby aisle at Target made me unexpectedly sad today – to think that I am done with all those things – those symbols of new motherhood. The fact is my baby isn’t a baby anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO proud of him. Even more so because he has overcome some SPD (sensory processing disorder) issues that I thought would make it extra hard for him. For example, his sense of smell is so sensitive that he often literally gags at his own poop. I’ve taken to giving him a piece of clean laundry (like a shirt or towel) to hold up to his nose so he doesn’t have to smell what goes into the potty. Also, he HATES the sound of flushing toilets in public restrooms. Even now that is a problem when he needs to go, but resists entering a women’s restroom, occasionally with kicks and loud protests. But all that didn’t make a difference – he was able to conquer those things enough to successfully potty train, which is, in a nutshell, AWESOME.

kids on scooters

The other thing that is really stressing me out is my oldest entering Kindergarten in the fall. Actually, I have no problem with Kindergarten – she is totally ready, but the question is WHERE. We are on the wait list for a reasonably priced, private kindergarten where I would love to see her go, but the waiting is KILLING me. Because if she doesn’t get in, then she will go to public school, and I am depressed to say that our local public school is rated one of the worst two schools in our entire district. I just don’t feel confident sending her there, at least not for kindergarten, and I am internally freaking out about it. When we moved here we were in a “good” school district (and we still are as far as middle and high school), but I am so scared that Chloe will not get that solid educational foundation that she needs to succeed once she finally gets to middle school. Of course, if I think rationally, I could help support her academically, but mostly, I want her school to be responsible for her education. Isn’t that what school is for? And most of all, I want her to be in a safe, supportive social environment. I want her to have opportunities to be inspired, make lasting friendships… to flourish. But I don’t believe that our public school is that place.

I will say that reading Design Mom’s article about letting her kids go to a public high school in Oakland also rated a 2 out of 10 gave me food for thought. However, I would much prefer a 2 rated high school over a 2 rated elementary school.

If worse comes to worse, and Chloe does not get into a private kindergarten, we will give public school a try. It might be fine. If not, we could try petitioning for a transfer to a different elementary school (although there is no guarantee that a sibling would get in, which means possibly two different schools for the kids). Or, we could move (which would be so hard because we love our little house). Or, I could home school. Of the school-aged families I know on our block alone, two elementary schools are represented and one family home schools. They are each doing what they think is best for their family, and we hope to do the same.

Wish us luck.

This is a sign someone posted to their facebook feed. There wasn’t a link, but it really resonated with me.


Home Project Dreaming

Yellow sliding door

In our imaginary dream home, David would have a 2-car garage, I would have my own office and the kids would have a separate playroom. Our reality, however, is 3 small bedrooms and one small office in about 1500 square feet, and no garage. I’m not complaining. We are lucky to live here. But it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?

With the back addition we did a few years ago, our house lives very well for its size. It morphed from tiny to a smallish medium, with a good flow and partially open floor plan that makes it feel bigger than it actually is. We are mostly comfortable here. It’s easy to access shops, schools, rec centers, libraries and restaurants and I love our neighborhood. But every once in a while I take a peek at the listings on rmls.com to see if something better might be in our price range. Its mostly just curiosity, because I cannot imagine moving. In the 10 years we’ve lived here, I never found a house in our price range that I would choose to move into. It is why the addition made more sense, because we could do it better than what we could find.

Though I can’t transform our simple ranch-style into my glassed-wall dream home, there are a couple of projects I’d hopefully like to accomplish within the next year or so. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and found a couple pics on Pinterest showing how others have handled these same ideas.

The first is to install a sliding barn door on the wall from the great room that would close off the doorway to the bedroom hallway. It would provide an attractive, architectural-style visual on an otherwise bare wall, and when closed, would provide a sound barrier to the rest of the house and possibly keep the kitchen smells from permeating into the bedrooms. We’d almost always leave it open, but it would be nice to have an option of a door there, when needed.

wooden sliding barn door with arrow styling

The wooden door above is my favorite shape (with the arrow), but I would prefer painting it. David wants to keep it wood, but we have no other matching wood surface or wood trim to make it look cohesive as it does concealing the wooden paneled mud room in the photo. David suggested leaving ours wood for a while, which we’ll likely do, but I feel like I’ll constantly be itching to paint it something bold.

white painted sliding barn door

sliding barn door, silver hardware

Red painted sliding barn door

The samples above show a black and a silver versions of the sliding hardware. Both would work in our home, but my gut says black. See more sliding barn door examples here.

wall to wall besta ikea cabinets

besta ikea shelves living room

wall to wall besta ikea cabinets

Another project that would make a big difference is to install wall-to-wall Besta cabinets underneath the back windows of the great room. One thing we always need is more storage space (I’d love to do something similar in the hallway nook as well, but that would be later on down the road). Ideally, they would look “built-in” so the plain walls of the room would have more structure and interest.

There are actually many more projects on our to-do (eventually) list – kitchen countertops, improved landscaping, new driveway – but those are larger ticket items that will have to wait.

How about you? Do you have any big or small home projects you hope to accomplish during the coming year or beyond?


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8 Fun (and Cheap!) Halloween Candy Alternatives for Trick-or-Treaters

LED Finger Lights

Every year at about this time I start keeping my eye out for alternatives to give our neighborhood trick-or-treaters instead of candy. I’m not opposed to candy, but since most kids are going to end up with more than enough, I figure I could just as well spend that money on something unique. In the past that’s meant items like mini play doh (Costco), party bubbles (Target), and last year’s pack of miniature crayons (Michaels). This year I just placed an order on Amazon for LED Finger Lights. I’ve purchased them before on a flash deal. They’re pretty fun. Besides using them for these Valentine cards earlier this year, we’ve taken them camping and on trips, but even recently I’ve seen the kids playing with them around the house. This time I paid $11.99 (free shipping with Prime) for 80, making them less than 15¢ a piece. This is fairly comparative for what I would pay for certain snack-size candy bars anyway.

While I was looking around I spotted other possibilities for fun and/or useful alternatives. Here are some of my favorites (all free shipping with Prime), but be sure to check out your local dollar, party, and toy stores if you don’t want to buy online (or see my previous Cheap Halloween Alternatives post for more ideas).

foam toy glider kit

Foam Glider Assortment 12¢ each (Pack of 72) for $8.65. I almost decided to do these, they look so neat. Maybe next year!

neon zoo erasers bulk

Neon Zoo Animal Pencil Top Erasers 4¢ each (144 pc) for $6.17.

glowing bouncing balls

Glow-In-The-Dark Bouncing Balls 9¢ each (144 pc) for $13.45.

friendship bracelets bulk

Nylon Friendship Rope Bracelets 7¢ each (72) for $5.25

mini insect erasers

Mini Insect Erasers 4¢ each (144pc) for $5.52

rhinestone party rings
Colorful Rhinestone Rings
8¢ each (72pc) for $5.85

vinyl paratroopers
Vinyl Paratroopers Assortment
12¢ each (72pc) for $8.99

 


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Plaid FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint Cup & Napkin Project


Plaid recently sent me a fun box of goodies, including some colors of their FolkArt Multi Surface Paints and Handmade Charlotte Stencils, both now available at Michaels.

Not too long ago, it seemed that you had to buy a specific paint for a specific craft – glass paint for glass, wood paint for wood, fabric paint for fabric, but Plaid has come up with a formulation that works for multiple mediums – which is so awesome! A crafter’s supply closet has only so much room, right? Even better, this paint is dishwasher safe and machine washable!

For this project, I thought I’d test the paints on both glass and fabric. We have had this set of coffee and tea glasses since I was in college. Back then they were pretty modern.  I loved their minimalist look and fitted cork coasters (see before photo here). I figured a little colored paint would help jazz them up, while also making it easy to tell them apart.

Following the directions on the bottles, I cleaned the glasses and then wiped them with rubbing alcohol. Then I taped off a couple of stripes on each glass, and used the spouncers to daub on the paint. I found if I used a tapping motion (instead of wiping), the paint left an interestingly spongy texture. Now I leave them to dry for 21 days before use, or I could use the “bake” directions found on Plaid’s site to speed up the curing process. Tip: you MUST remove the tape immediately after paint application or the paint will peel up in patches if you remove it after it has started to dry.

Next were the matching cloth napkins. I wanted something that would really complement my newly painted glasses. I did a web search and found that
“proper” tea napkins are 12-inch square. Then I cut the squares using my pinking shears – no hemming required! There were several stencils from the Handmade Charlotte pack that were cute, but the mustache, arrow, star and crown were the perfect size for the napkins, adding just a touch of whimsy. Positioning the stencil on the napkin, I again used the spouncer to daub on paint the same way I did the glasses. Then I carefully lifted it off. Tip: All four stencils were on the same sheet. To keep the previous color of paint from smearing I stuck a sticky-note to the bottom of each stencil once I was done. I also put a sticky note underneath the top layer of fabric, just in case the paint decided to bleed through.



Now I’ve got a cute new set to enjoy! What about you? Can you think of a painting project at your house that would benefit from a coat or two of FolkArt Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint? Then don’t miss the GIVEAWAY! The lucky winner will receive a FolkArt Multisurface prize pack and $100 Michaels gift card! Enter to win here.

This is a sponsored post by Blueprint Social and Plaid. I was happy to have the opportunity to test these products and to be compensated for the time it took me to create, write about, and photograph my project.  The opinions and craft project here are completely my own.

Learn more about Plaid Crafts:
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Malware, Lock-outs and How to Check if Your Blog is Infected

I’ve been having a hard time with my blog. On one hand, I have REALLY enjoyed having it.

On the other hand, I am sick of the spam.

Earlier this year the blog stopped working properly. After some online research my husband and I found that someone (or more likely some thing) had infected it with malware. Eventually David was able to get advice from a co-worker and learned how to identify and strip out the bad code. Unfortunately, it just kept coming back. Over and over no matter what security measures and plug-ins I tried. Then, just recently, they locked me of my own site.

Jerks.

So, you may notice that the blog looks and works differently now. It was a hassle, but my husband kindly took the time to switch service providers (this is a self-hosted wordpress site). Some things were lost, and its going to take some time to put back what I can find. Then we updated to a newer, less vulnerable WordPress theme, changed to a stronger password and took steps to make everything more secure.

Not surprising, this whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth. I had to seriously think about whether the blog was worth saving and how much I’m willing to invest in something that may again disappear out of my reach. And maybe it won’t ever happen again.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Meanwhile, if you’re curious about your own blog you can go to Securi Sitecheck and type in your web address to be scanned. I’m happy to report that thepaperseed.com is “verified clean”, and I truly, truly hope it stays that way.


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Toddler & Preschool iPad Case Reviews

Kids on their iPads, Case Review

My kids have been blessed with grandparents who believe in the benefits of technology. Because of this, each of the kids has been an unlikely recipient of an ipad by the time they turned two. It is an amazing tool, even in the hands of a toddler and preschooler. We do limit the amount of time they spend using it, but its ability to entertain and educate has been a priceless. Like most parents, we try to choose apps wisely – mostly educational and skill-building apps, and also ones that engage their creativity (more on those later).

Being the sensitive (and expensive) handheld devices they are, an iPad can’t survive little hands without a case. Chloe’s case was chosen by Grandpa and still looks good after almost three years. It is a pink Hard Candy Street Skin Case. It fits very snug, but can be pulled off (by adults) to clean when needed. It also came with a solid screen cover, which is nice when its going into a carry-on and might rub against things. For Chloe it was perfect. She has had no problem carrying it around and her iPad has been safe ever since.

When Leo received his iPad, I had a hard time finding blog-style reviews on cases and mostly had to rely on amazon ratings. Eventually I chose a blue i-Blason ArmorBox Kido Series case. It’s been great! At the time, Chloe’s case was selling for $40 on Amazon. The i-Blason is $20. The soft handle makes it very easy to carry and use for little ones, and I often choose this iPad when watching movies at night because of the handy, built-in stand. Although it is more padded than Chloe’s, it still feels nice, and the iPad is quite protected. The only negative is the case density cuts down slightly on the sound quality, but it just means the sound has to go up a bit more. Overall, I’m really happy with this choice and would recommend it as an affordable choice that I would buy again.

Hope this helps others who are looking to buy a good iPad protection for their kids, and I’d love to hear what case you are using!


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Paperseed on Instagram

A couple months ago I finally joined Instagram. At first, I thought it was just a fad, like Hipstamatic, something that I didn’t really like or care to be a part of. I’m not sure what made me change my mind, but I’m really enjoying it now. It’s like photography practice on an (almost) daily basis, but using my phone instead of my dSLR. It’s so easy, too – no having to find time to sit at my computer to download photos (like I do with my dSLR), and then uploading them onto the web when I have time. It’s all so… instant. And taking good photos with my phone is part of the challenge.

The other thing I like about Instagram is that the people who chose to “follow” me do so because they are interested in looking at photos. They expect it. This is different than on Facebook, where I only uploaded photos if I thought they were relevant to me, my family, or my friends. After all, would my FB “friends” want to see a minimalist photo of sunlit bamboo leaves against a perfectly blue sky? Or a closely cropped architectural detail of Pittock Mansion? Or a single, rich sapphire-blue feather found on a walk? I don’t really think so. It would be too random, and then I’d feel like I had to explain it using words. And sometimes words just aren’t necessary, don’t you think?

So, anyway, I know I’ve been scarce in these parts the last month or so. That is soon to change, hopefully. We’ve done some pretty neat things this summer, which I’d love to share once I have some time. Plus, I also have some sponsored posts in the works (hooray!). Meanwhile, checkout my Instagram feed to see more of what we’ve been up to, and I’ll be back soon!


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A Healthy Abundance vs. Too Many Toys

Fisher Price Little People Toy Cars on a shelf

Abundance requires simplicity — because in order to have abundance in one area, you must reduce something else. You can either use your toy budget to buy a roomful of random toys or you can decide to focus on investing in only two or three open-ended toys: say, wooden blocks, a wooden dollhouse, LEGO.
— from Camp Creek Blog, Project Based Homeschooling

Yesterday, I read a post called Parenting with abundance and simplicity. The timing could not have been better. I had just spent hours organizing and sorting the kids toys that morning – a task always fraught with indecision, nostalgia and little hands trying to undo the progress I’m trying to make. I only have enough energy and motivation to do this every once in a while, so when I decide to do it, I make it count. Some things are perfectly clear, like how all the stuffed animals have a designated bin Chloe’s room, all the small junk toys (party favors, happy meal, or dollar store stuff) goes in a “travel” bin (since I don’t care if they get lost) and all play tools and most vehicles go in Leo’s room. This is not to say, for example, that Chloe doesn’t play with the trucks, it’s just that she almost never does, but she’s free to play with them whenever she wants.

One of the toys that has gotten the most cooperative play in our house from both kids is the play kitchen. You may have seen it in the background of other photographs because it is near the dining table and family room. The concept written in the Parenting with abundance and simplicity post clearly reflects what I’ve seen in the kids’ creative play: That because we have an “abundance” of play dishes and pots and foodstuffs, there is almost never a reason to fight over anything. They are content to play together. The kids have tea parties, pretend to make dinner, feed each other… it is a pleasure to watch. They get really involved and I can almost see their little brains at work while they concentrate on their self-directed tasks. It’s usually quite peaceful… until Leo decides it is more fun to throw plastic fruit across the room (or at each other). Or it’s time to clean up. Even then it’s fairly easy because its fine with me as long as everything generally makes it back into the cabinets.

The Abundance concept makes me realize something else… Chloe and Leo often fight over the blocks. We have four different types (duplo, classic wooden, mega blocs and a generic brand – not including Legos). I always thought it was cool that we had a variety, and rotate bringing them each down for play. But what if we had double of just one or two sets? Would the kids play longer and possibly collaboratively? Would Chloe complain because she is out of a certain color before she is finished implementing her idea? Would she stop trying to steal them away from her brother causing him to then knock down her structure in frustration? Also, now that I am thinking about it, Chloe usually says she’s ‘finished’ once she’s used up all the blocks. So what if there were a lot more blocks to use? Would she then spend twice as long and be twice as involved in her project as she currently is? For example, the photos in the previous post were taken when she was ‘all done’ – both times because she didn’t have anymore blocks left. Do you see my light bulb moment here?

This leads me to the other things they most often fight about. The biggest one, naturally, is the iPad. I’ve taken to putting Chloe’s Netflix shows on the regular TV (using the appleTV) and letting Leo have uninterrupted time with the iPad. Otherwise, it’s a pushing/pulling match with Chloe yelling and Leo pulling her hair. Another thing the kids have been fighting over lately is Leo’s new cozy coupe that his Aunt Katherine sent for his birthday. But there is no way we are fitting another one of those in the house, despite how much play it gets!

Anyway, this whole abundance thing really makes sense to me. Yes, kids should learn to share, but yes, providing an abundance of well-chosen open-ended toys also allows for meaningful benefits I hadn’t considered before. This is a parenting concept that sort of rocks my world.

 


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Bike Trailer Adventures

Have I mentioned that we bought a bike trailer? Do you have one? Do you love it? I have been wanting one since last summer, made a few inquiries, scanned the “for sale” listings. We asked ourselves would we use it? How much should we spend? Where would we even store it? Then autumn came and we decided to wait and look into it again this summer.

One brand we kept seeing was InStep. The parents we talked to said it was a good deal for the price (also because it doesn’t come with the stroller attachment, which we decided we wouldn’t need), and we started looking again. Then David noticed the InStep Take 2 Double Bicycle Trailer went down to $68 on Amazon (score!). We decided to go for it!

We’ve now been on two bike rides with David pulling the trailer. Both times the kids LOVED it. Both times I was so happy to be back on my bike again. There was a time past that mountain biking and snowboarding were a big part of my life. Eventually, I left that life behind. Before Chloe came along, I would still occasionally ride with Barkley trotting beside me. After Chloe, well, it was just one of those pastimes that went by the wayside for a while.

We are going to have so many bike trailer adventures this summer, I just know it! Next on the agenda: to finally get these kids some helmets! Chloe has been making a push to learn to ride her own little bike  with training wheels. She is particularly motivated since our road is full of kids on bikes. Also, earlier this year I decided to buy a micro scooter for Leo (for his birthday, I told myself). I wanted to give him the chance to keep up with his sister and I figured that might be his best shot.

Bring on summer!!!

 


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Make Every Moment Count Blogger Challenge

Photos for Scrapbooking

Did you know May is National Scrapbook Month? I’ve been invited by Michaels to join the Make Every Moment Count Blogger Challenge to create a scrapbook project for displaying memories. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time.

You see, my mom and I live on opposite sides of the country. With the cost of flights and school schedules and the logistics of traveling with two small kids, we don’t get to see her very often. Also, heartbreakingly, she has recently undergone difficult months of chemotherapy and side effects. From here, all I can really do is call her up, or send her a care package to show we’re thinking of her. I have been meaning to send photos of the kids for ages. She doesn’t have a computer, so she doesn’t get to keep up with all the photos and stories of the kids I post here or on Facebook. A scrapbook would be an ideal Mother’s Day gift for her, don’t you think?

scrapbooking page supplies

scrapbooking page supplies and stickers

Here’s a look at some of the beautiful goodies I purchased with my Michaels gift certificate. I better get on it, though. I need to get it in the mail tomorrow if I want it to arrive in time!

Need some tutorials or inspiration for your own scrapbooking project? Michaels has a list of videos and a lookbook here .


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5 Mother’s Day Gifts for $5

Mother’s day is this Sunday! It seems everywhere I look there are gift ideas with price tags in the triple digits. Just to prove that that you can show her you care with very little $, here are 5 extra budget-friendly Mother’s Day gift ideas for $5 or less, including a couple DIYs. But truly, a simple phone call can make a difference. Your mother is priceless, so be sure to take a few moments to tell her so.

Mother's Day Photo Cards from Target

1. Target Photo Greeting Card. For the same price as buying a traditional Mother’s Day card, you can create your own personalized 5×7 Photo Greeting Card for just $3.99! There are several nice designs to chose from. You know she’ll love it!

2. A Cheryl’s Cookie Greeting shipped straight to her door ($5 includes shipping). I can personally vouch that these butter cream cookies are delicious. Don’t you think it would be a cheerful treat for mom to find in her mailbox?

trader joes body butter

3. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter ($4.99). Have you tried this yet? Super rich and creamy with a sweet coconutty fragrance. Lots of natural ingredients, too. Mom will love it after showering or before bedtime , especially for tired hands and feet.

DIY Wooden Popsicle Stick  Seed Plant Markers

4. Herb Garden Markers DIY. The things you can make with popsicle sticks! These garden markers are pretty and practical, and Lil Blue Boo has a great tutorial and a free download to show you how.

DIY Paperclip Earrings

5. DIY Paperclip Earrings. Learn how to make these unique paperclip and string earrings by Evie S. from her post called Art From Everyday Objects: Paperclips + String. Definitely unique!

 


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On Craving Solitude

Overlook on the Pacific Coast Highway Towards Manzanita

I’ve read somewhere that there are two kinds of people. The first kind gains energy by being social and spending time around other people. The second kind makes their own energy, but needs to recharge by being alone, often in pursuit of things they enjoy. I am definitely the latter. While I enjoy an occasional get-together, I know that I NEED time to myself.

It is hard to believe, but this Sunday was the first time in four and a half years that I had a full day completely to myself.

Why had it taken me so long? Maybe guilt. Maybe always feeling like I needed to be there for the kids. Or make family time happen on the weekend days that David is home and not out fishing. I told myself that doing what was good for my family was the same as doing what was good for me. But over time I’ve realized that is not right. What is good for me is what is good for me.

haystack rock, cannon beach, OregonHaystack Rock, Cannon Beach

So, on Sunday, David took the kids to the zoo in the morning, and I packed myself for a day trip doing whatever I wanted (after I ran a couple errands, of course). I packed an extra jacket, a pair of sandals, my camera, a book, and the dog and headed to the beach.

Oh. My. Goodness. I felt positively giddy knowing I could do whatever I wanted! I could take my time, listen to whatever music I wanted, sing at the top of my lungs. I could stop anywhere to look around and take photos (which I did). I could eat wherever I chose for lunch, not worrying if it was kid friendly. I never felt rushed, or impatient, or worn down. I felt carefree and unburdened. Like being fully alive again after being only half-alive for a while.

Giant Driftwood, Manzanita

Needless to say, it was very good for me (and for Barkley. He doesn’t get many opportunities to wander off-leash like this). We were so happy, the two of us.

Eventually the day ended and we returned. And we were fine with that. Glad to be back, feeling refreshed. That was a couple days ago, but the effect of that time still lingers. I can tell in the way I have gone back to doing the same old things – making meals, changing diapers, interacting with the kids. I have more patience, more energy, and a better attitude.

bruce's candy kitchen, cannon beach, oregon coastA shot from inside Bruce’s Candy Kitchen, Cannon Beach. I treated myself to a piece of dark chocolate-covered seafoam and some haribo gummi cola bottles.

It is true that I don’t have the proverbial “village.” My generation is increasingly spread far and wide from what used to be traditional extended-family units. Its unfortunate. But it doesn’t mean I can’t have days like this when I need them. I don’t like the idea of leaving my children and husband behind, but in the end we all benefit.

What I need to do is make this a priority for myself. Hopefully, with practice, it will get easier.

The photos above are ones I instagrammed during my day. Do you use instagram? I finally decided to join the tide couple weeks ago. You can find paperseed on instagram here.


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Minimalist Parenting Downloadable Ebook Giveaway!

Minimalist Parenting Co-Authors Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

Happy Wednesday! I know I promised a free printable for today (which I promise to have tomorrow!), but we ended up going to a last minute birthday dinner for a family friend and I didn’t have time to pull it all together properly. You understand, right? I love writing for this blog, but sometimes life throws some surprises to which I just have to say yes. 🙂

However, I have some wonderful news to share! I got an email yesterday from the lovely Mrs. Asha Dornfest. She is providing one lucky Paperseed reader with a free downloadable e-copy of her brand new book Minimalist Parenting! If you read what I wrote here, or read her blog Parent Hacks, then you know that I am a big fan and that this book is filled with quality information and tactics on modern parenting without all the fuss and bother (well, at least ways to minimize the fuss and bother!). I am really enjoying my copy and I know that you would, too!

Just leave a comment here on this post before Friday at 5pm PST. The lucky winner will be chosen using random.org and notified via email (so be sure to provide one). Since the prize is digital, this giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. Best of luck!

Update: Charlotte is the Minimalist Parenting Ebook giveaway winner! I will be emailing you shortly with the code. Congratulations!!!

 


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This and That: Links Worth Sharing

Kale Soup with carrots and beans

Friday is finally upon us! I have some amazing reads worth sharing this week. You may have already seen them from my twitter feed, but each of these ring with truths that have me shaking my head. And a couple are sure to make you laugh.

First, though, I wanted to share a recipe for Kale Soup. I tried it at my wonderful friend Greta’s house this past weekend and it was so good! Hearty and healthy with only basic prep and cooking time. I don’t have her exact recipe, but I was able to make it up from what I remembered. It is a lot like the one shown above from The Curvy Carrot, except with garbanzo beans and no cream. I also threw in some some turkey meatballs that I had from the freezer. This made a delicious lunch the next day (instagram photo here) and even the kids ate some!

 This post was my favorite read this week – about the four bases of a mom-to-mom relationship, amusingly called a ‘mom-lationship’.

Don’t miss reading The Sad Reality About Life as Adults, a Wake-up Call for Kids. The comparison chart had me laughing out loud!

And lastly, you have probably already seen this video of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, but just in case you missed it:

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Photo Friday: Peach Blossoms

First, I just wanted to announce the winner of the the Elmer’s Painters and $25 Walmart Gift Card! Congratulations to latanya who said “This would be great fun for the summer!” Also, a BIG thank you to everyone who participated with a comment on the Spring Painted Flowerpot Makeover. I was crossing my fingers for 40 entries, but ended up with over double that. Awesome!

Now, back to the photo above -  two pink blossoms from our young peach tree. While not as showy and profuse as the plum blossoms, they are still special. Each of these little flowers is capable of transforming into a delicious piece of summer fruit. This will be our third summer with this tree. We plan to move it out of its container and hopefully find it a permanent home in the back yard.

Proper pruning technique still eludes me, but one thing I learned last spring was to thin the amount of growing fruit. This is done by rubbing off over half once they are about the size of cherries. Thinning allows for better spacing and lets the remaining peaches grow to an edible size. Its silly, but I found thinning to be somewhat sad. Pruning is like cutting hair to me. I get that. But rubbing off all those little hopefuls… well that was different. However, the results were sweet, small-to-medium-sized peaches, so it was definitely worth it.

I guess that’s a lesson that applies to life in general, right? Some things are hard to do (like exercising, or practicing a skill, or raising children), but doing so is rewarding. Food for thought (ha!).

Have a great weekend everyone!


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Making Exceptions

I am making a lot of exceptions today. Right now, as I type, I can see Chloe playing in the backyard with Leo and Barkley. She is wearing her Mini-Mouse princess dress. Her legs are bare and on her feet are Keens. It is cool outside, but at least she is wearing her coat. Normally, I don’t let her wear any of her dress up clothes outside, but today I don’t care. I’m just glad the kids are out of the house for a while.

This week I’ve put in extra effort to keep the house clean. It is so hard! One of the problems of wanting a clean house is recognizing that the house has clutter in the first place. And noticing that the kids are causing the majority of it. So then I get frustrated. Two minutes after picking up, there is a mess on the floor again. Right now I am looking at the discarded wand, butterfly wings, and light up princess shoes by the back door that Chloe dropped in her haste to get outside. I can either pick them up or I can ask her to do it. Either one involves me getting involved. Its easier to just do it so I don’t have to remember to ask her, or to follow up and make sure they go back to their proper place. Or I could ignore them.

And there! Chloe just presented me with another example. I mopped the floors this morning. She just ran in, through the kitchen to the living room before I noticed the muddy shoe prints she was leaving and called for her to stop. Stop!

It’s impossible. I can’t keep up.

I’m tired of being the cleaning lady today. I’m tired of being the cook, the laundress, the referee, the coach, the safety monitor, the naysayer.

I just want to be the mom. The hugger, the playmate, the tickler, the storyteller, the teacher, the explorer, the kisser of bruises, the planter of ideas.

But today isn’t that day. I’m too tired. It is my fault. I’m not getting enough sleep, or eating right. And today is not a day I can dedicate completely to the kids. There are other things I’d like to do. But I’m too tired to do anything more than sit here right now. And drink water, and take my vitamins. Remembering to begin again with the little things, one at a time.

The kids have abandoned their lunch on the chair outside. Another exception, because I let them eat partially unsupervised. Which means they may have eaten a little dirt.

There they are. Getting muddy, having fun, enjoying the sunshine that just recently flooded the yard. The birds are chirping merrily. Someone is mowing their lawn. When the kids come in they’ll be a mess, but I’m going to help them calmly because I never care how messy they get outside, as long as they’ve given me a little peace while doing it.

Better yet, it will be nap time soon.


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Plum Blossoms

plum_blossoms

Did you know it will officially be spring next week? I’m so glad! We’re seeing signs of it throughout our neighborhood, little splashes of brightness here and there – daffodils, crocus, candy tufts – and our daphne smells divine! But most of all, I love seeing the plum blossoms start to open. Every year about this time, I take a moment to bust out the good camera and document the opening of their tiny pink buds. So sweet and serene and lovely.

This plum tree is actually in our neighbor’s yard. A few years ago she allowed us to dig up a runner that we placed it in a pot. It hasn’t gotten much bigger, but just last week David planted it in the back corner of our yard. Someday we’ll have plums! I’m looking forward to it.


Taken with a Canon T4i, 50mm 1.4

 

 

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