Bubba Speak

These past two days as Jay left the house, he encouraged me to take it easy, reminding me that these are my last few precious days of summer.  I love that guy.  Yesterday I took that as permission to take a big fat snooze during the kids’ nap time and not do a lick of housework all day long.  It was fabulous.  Today I took his advice again and did something fun I’ve been wanting to do all summer…make a video to highlight Bubba’s funny little way of talking these days.

When Chica was in the learning to talk stage, she was a regular chatterbox.  She would spout off what sounded like whole sentences or paragraphs, but only one or two words might be recognizable.  This offered a perfect opportunity to record her and then add closed captions that were completely nonsense and quite funny.

I eagerly awaited this stage with Bubba so that I could make more closed caption videos, but he never got there.  While Chica’s speech has always been profuse, Bubba’s has always been precise.  He just doesn’t attempt a word or an idea unless he’s pretty sure he can get his point across.  And he’s not afraid to repeat it over and over and over until you get it.  : )

So my idea instead was to record him repeating some of his funniest/best words and make YOU guess what he is saying.  If you decided to take the Bubba Speak Challenge, let me know how many you get right!  Good luck!

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Dollar Tree Valentines

So there’s a reason I don’t write a craft blog. It’s this:

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I never clean up as I work. If you write a craft blog, you have to take pictures along the way, so you clean up as you go. Me? I make a mess, scoot to the next open space on the table, and plan to clean it up when I’m done. Or tomorrow. Ok…..so definitely by two weeks from now.

Actually, there are a few other reasons I don’t write a craft blog. I’m always doing dumb stuff like cutting my own fingers with scissors or pressing print before I double check my spelling. I also am frequently missing essential items like a paper cutter or a whole punch, and my improvised tools don’t work so well. Projects that look like they’ve been cut out by a second grader don’t make for very good close-ups.

I definitely like to be crafty, but most of the time it seems that it takes too much time and money…two things I don’t have very much of that is unspoken for already. But tonight the pinspiration hit me, and I managed to pull off homemade Valentine’s for both of my kids’ classes. (Oh gees…I really did just use that word.)

Jay was at a meeting at church, and the kids and I had a few hours to kill. I now have just enough experience as a mom to know that if I wait until Wednesday night to figure out Valentines, it will be disaster all around. That’s certainly not enough time to pull off something homemade, and the only premade cards at Wal-mart will be either very expensive, inappropriate, or something you’ve never heard of in your life. Yeah….been there, done that.

So I pried Chica away from My Little Pony (what is it with that show these days??), loaded both kids up, and headed to the Dollar Tree. Actually, first I showed her a few non-food Valentine ideas that I thought we could pull off with stuff from our one-stop shopping trip. She didn’t seem particularly thrilled by any of them (I was rooting for these), so I told her we’d just be on the lookout for something else there that would inspire us. And then, of course, I had to define inspire.

After nixing the heart shaped mazes (Come on….”You amaze me”……so perfect!), the silly straws, and the bugs, she finally landed on glow sticks. We had seen a glow stick idea before we left, so I liked the idea of something I wouldn’t have to recreate. I also found bubbles for Bubba’s class (I was thinking, You blow my mind, Valentine), glue sticks for Chica’s teachers (I’m stuck on you), and lotion for Bubba’s teachers (Thanks for making every day so smooth). Oh, and she picked out a card for her daddy, complete with jokes she didn’t really understand, and one somewhat useful item from the man aisle. Useful if you were stranded on a deserted island, maybe?? We made it out of there and managed to only drop $15.

Anyway, I got home, made the usual Daddy’s-not-home dinner (PBJ), and decided to look for ways to pull off these projects quickly and easily. Guess what?! I found something ready to just print, cut out, and tie or tape on for three out of four of my projects. Since we’ve only recently acquired a printer as a hand-me-down, I am just now realizing the miracle that is the “free printable.” Jackpot!

In case you need a quick, cheap, and easy homemade Valentine, here’s a rundown of my sources:

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Glow Stick Printable. All that’s left to do is to have Chica sign her name to all 17 of them. You don’t think that will take all week, do you? : )

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Bubbles Printable. This mom made the pattern to fit Dollar Tree bubbles, so they were absolutely perfect. This turned out to be my favorite of the night.

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Stuck On You Printable. Her actual craft that goes with the printable is way cooler than my dollar store glue sticks, but my glue sticks are way more useful in a pre-k class, I guess.

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I couldn’t find anything I really liked for my lotion idea, so I used these gift tags and some super-cute fonts I found here to make my own.

Oh gees, it’s 11:00. Wrap this thing up, Tracy!

So here’s the big money idea (or maybe two) for the night: creative people are really just people who are good at borrowing other people’s ideas. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to. If you have an idea, chances are someone else has had it before too. If it’s something crafty, check Pinterest and Google images to see if you can mooch off their hard work. And spend the time you saved yourself on cleaning up your work space when you are done. (Ugh…still have to do that.)

Big money #2: I am not too proud to admit that this project today was 95% about me. Chica would probably be much more thrilled with a box of My Little Pony tear off cards than her homemade Valentines. Bubba’s classmates might enjoy the bubbles, but they’ll be oblivious to the perfectly-sized wrap I so carefully (ha!) added. But seeing this project from start to finish has made me feel good. I like creating (or recreating, I guess) and admiring the finished product when done. Oh, and I like writing about it.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish you a little time this week to do something you enjoy doing, too!

Summer Day #32: Mist, Barbie Princess, and Planks

I have come to accept this sad fact:  I just can’t compete with the Barbie princess movie.

This was to be a perfect day.  Thanks to Jay, I got to sleep in until 8 a.m.  Highs were finally dipping into the frigid 80s so we could play outside.  The only must-do item on my to-do list was catching up on four days of Bible Study… that I’ve had two weeks to complete.  The topic was becoming more disciplined.  Hmm.  Almost as good last time when I fell asleep reading the chapter about being worn out.  Anyway, I planned to fill the rest of my day with lots of fun projects with Chica.

My first idea seemed to rate about a 7 out of 10 on the fun scale for her.  She painted with colored ice cubes and used a squirt bottle to melt three big ice blocks.  Her biggest “aha” moment was learning the word mist and finding out that we can change the way the water flows out of the bottle.  We misted each other, rubbed our feet against the ice blocks, and spied on an inch worm until Bubba had had enough.  I left Chica outside playing while Bubba and I came inside to work on a nap.

Let’s just say my cool-mom points for the day ended right there.  No matter what I suggested after that, she just wasn’t interested.  Project?  No.  Craft?  No.  Game?  No.  Puzzle?  No.  “I just wanna watch a mooooovieeeee.”  Not just any movie….the Barbie princess movie.  Blech.

I should have just gone with it.  A few hours (or a day) to veg never hurt anybody.  It would have bought me some more time to either clean the house or play with Bubba.  But instead I got an attitude.  A major ‘tude.  I kept my pout on way longer than necessary today.

I’ve been trying to figure out what that was all about.  My latest conclusion is that the very things that make me crazy about Chica are things that I dislike the most in myself too.  I get cranky when all she wants to do is watch movies, but I also hate that I waste so much time in front of the computer screen.  I wish she’d eat more healthfully, but I’ve sat here munching on junk food the whole time I’ve been writing.  I cringe when I watch her get all pouty and moody when her neighbor friend doesn’t want to play the same game as her, yet I did the exact same thing today.  Sounds like a case of the plank and the speck to me.

So tonight during our Bible study about discipline, one wise woman reminded us that God’s mercies are made new every morning.  What a relief.  I made a mess of this day, but thankfully I get another go at it tomorrow.

Now if we could only accidentally lose Barbie princess….

Chica and Bubba’s Mom

I have hit the inevitable point in adulthood where I am no longer Mrs. Somebody but Somebody’s Mom.  When I pick Chica up from school, this is how her friends (and even teachers, sometimes) refer to me.  I expected to find this annoying, but I think I actually like it these days.

This summer I sat out to fall whole-heartedly into the role of Chica and Bubba’s mom.  I purposely passed up lots of super-fun sounding professional development type opportunities in order to develop the relationship with my kids and sharpen my mommying skills.  Many thanks to Jay who politely forbid me to take on any more projects ’round about April.  He had seen the toll that six semesters of masters classes in a row had taken on our family and my sanity.  His ban on anything extracurricular definitely made it easier to say no each time.

The first few days of my new role as a short-term SAHM were quite messy.  There was little napping, fair amounts of yelling, and lots of self-pitying.  About halfway through, though, I began to get into the tiniest bit of a rhythm and routine.  (When I say tiny, I mean like finally found a time to take a shower.)  When I was tempted to whine and construct all sorts of negative Facebook statuses in my head, I tried to remind myself just how blessed I am to have the time to spend at home.  Having to beg a four-year old for the hundredth time to eat her lunch does in fact trump even the best lunch duty with 150. I’ve spent the last few weeks fully focused on being Mom and learning to love it.  There have been lots of cool moments…


One afternoon she played happily for a good hour with just a bucket of beans and some egg crates.  Who needs expensive toys?


Another evening she experimented with sinking and floating objects.  We’ve been talking about these ideas ever since.

Well, then life happened.  A huge unexpected windstorm came through our city and knocked out the power on Friday night.  We had a big limb fall in our yard and knock the phone and cable lines off of the house.  We relocated to Nana and Papa’s house because I’m not sure my kids would have survived my grumpiness in an un-airconditioned house paired with 100 degree weather.  Yesterday was day four of no power, but it has thankfully now been restored.


Dad cut, I hauled the big stuff, Chica carried the little limbs, and Bubba watched from his pack-n-play.  Thankfully we had very little to clean up…plenty of families had much worse!

While at Nana’s house I had a welcomed chance to step back from the role of All Mommy-All the Time.  I spent time making greeting cards in Nana’s basement for a friend’s fund-raising raffle.  I stayed up WAY too late working on this project, but it was SO worth it.  I have such a great feeling of accomplishment when I take time of my own to create.  Being a mom is so fulfilling, but this night reminded me that I must carve out time for myself too.

I set out this summer to be a better mom to Chica and Bubba.  Among plenty of other things, I want both of them to grow up to be creative people who use their gifts for both work and fun.  If I want that for them, then I must of course model it.

This mom thing takes an incredible amount of balance, and I don’t expect anyone can ever get it completely right.  But here’s to hoping this summer affords me time to find balance in even the tiniest form.

Summer Fun in a Tub

Hi.  My name is Tracy.  I’m a Pinterest addict.

There, I said it.  Admitting you have a problem is half the battle, right?  Maybe I should look on Pinterest for ways to fight addiction.  Oh.  Wait.

So I spend several hours a day nursing sweet Bubba with a laptop balancing on my knees.  He is very easily distracted, so I usually have to sequester myself away from anything noisy (i.e. Chica).  After weeks of poking around on Pinterest during this time, I decided to finally get my own account yesterday.  (Gees….was that only yesterday?)  There were way too many ideas floating around in my head for fun things to do this summer with my little kiddos.   If only there was a way to keep track of all those ingenious blog post ideas.  Ha.  I finally get it.

Temperatures in the ‘Burg are expected to reach triple digits in the next week, so I’ve got my pins all ready for engaging indoor experiments and cool-yourself-off outside water play.  My list of things to pick up from the store to pull off all of these ideas was getting longer and longer, so I decided to make yet another “project” out of the shopping itself.  I made Chica her own shopping list that we would take to the Dollar Tree, complete with words, pictures, and a place to check off the items we found.   I told myself that this idea would be a great way to practice using picture clues to sound out new words.  Truth is that shopping with Chica is usually torture for me.  The last time we ventured out together, I turned around to see her feeling up a mannequin.  No joke.  This shopping list was really my attempt to reign her in a bit so that I wouldn’t jump ship before we found what we needed.

I told Chica ahead of time that we were on a mission to find the items pictured, and we sounded the words out together.  I also explained that after perusing the whole store, we would walk back through and each pick two additional items that might be fun to add to our Summer Fun Tub.  Okay, so I ended up with three, but luckily she didn’t figure it out.

We ended up spending $19 on the following:

  • Two spray bottles and four sponge balls for outdoor water fun
  • Magnetic Numbers for cookie sheet practice
  • Tweezers for fine motor skills
  • A dustpan and handheld broom for cleaning up the messes we will make
  • Butterfly shaped flyswatters for an outdoor painting project
  • Sea creatures for freezing in ice blocks
  • Measuring spoons and cups for experimenting with capacity
  • A calculator for practicing reading digital numbers
  • My three freebies were a 500 piece puzzle for myself, masking tape for creating Hot Wheel-sized roadways on the floor, and mini popsicle molds
  • Below are Chica’s extra two choices.  I have no comment.  Jay’s comment was, “What did you expect when telling a four year old she can pick what she wants at the store?

Jay just returned from Wally World with Round 2 for the tub.  He spent about $16 on these items:

  • Plaster of Paris for a craft I’ve always wanted to try
  • Funnels and a sprinkler for more water play
  • Marbles for making homemade butter and a pool noodle race track
  • Glycerin and straws for making bubbles
  • Markers to replace the ones we’re always losing

Tomorrow I’m hoping to finish my collection with tempra paint, pool noodles, squeeze bottles, and a few more odds and ends.  I have also added a few things from around the house that I already had….food coloring, ice trays, sidewalk chalk, cupcake liners, pipe cleaners, etc. My goal is to create a go-to box that will last us all summer for under $75.

Our first two pin-inspired projects today were successes.  We have a family of sea creatures captured in ice blocks in the freezer waiting to be set free by a squirt bottle tomorrow.  We also experimented with food coloring and pouring while discussing phase change in four year old language.

One final thought….I could fill my tub with tools, my boards with pins, and my calendar with events, but nothing is as inspiring as everyday objects in the hands of a curious and creative child.  Tonight Bubba sat on the edge of a blanket and explored the grass for nearly 20 minutes.  While he played, Chica gathered all the sticks in the yard and built two pretend campfires on which she roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  No advance planning, materials, or prompting from Mommy needed.  Take that, Pinterest!