October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween

It doesn't quite feel like Halloween around here, given what showed up over the weekend:
It sent chills down a lot of folks' spines here in the Northeast.
The snow was actually quite a treat, and kept a certain 3 year old busy all weekend long, making it an awesome weekend for parents too.  Heavy, wet snow on power lines caused lots of friends to lose  power all weekend (some are still waiting for it to come back on), but thankfully we just lost our internet connection.
Our trick or treat night seems like ages ago--last Thursday (odd, I know)--so Halloween is pretty much over for us.
But I hope you have a fun one with your kiddos (or not), wherever you are.

October 25, 2023

A Nightmare on Our Street

Just in time for Halloween, it seems as if Freddy Kruger has taken up residence in our basement.  In case you haven't seen the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, let me summarize: creepy, dead ex-janitor terrorizes teens in their dreams, making them unwilling to go to sleep, for fear succumbing to the razor-sharp knife/glove of Freddy Kruger.

All kidding aside, how does this translate to our house?  We've been having major sleeping issues with Soren, who all of a sudden cannot go to sleep without one of his parents lying down with him each night.   While there's nothing really wrong with that, and I know that 3 is an age where imaginations take off (which is both good and bad), it's challenging because it sometimes takes him an hour to drift off.
It's difficult for Chris and me, especially since Soren is so spirited and consuming of our own energy during waking hours, and now it's becoming that way at night.  Once a formerly good sleeper, S has also been waking during the night, and waking for the day anywhere from 3:30am until 5:30.  It is exhausting, especially coupled with Jude's nighttime wakings. 

Lack of sleep unfortunately is an impetus for losing my head.  I'm grumpier than my usual morning grumpiness and tend to lack ability to censor my emotions around S.  Then I end up feeling guilty all day for snapping at him.

On a deeper level, I know this is a phase quite common to preschoolers who can't shut off their imaginations when the lights go out.  And speaking of lights, we've had a parade of all kinds of night lights and flash lights to help transition our son into sleep.  No good luck charms there.  Mommy or daddy seems to be the security blanket of choice.

So until he outgrows this, I'm unsure what to do.  I've tried having him sleep in the bed with me, though I get no sleep due to his thrashing about.  I also find that his energy affects me, even at night, and I have trouble drifting off myself.  I'm also concerned that allowing him to sleep in our bed might reinforce the idea that his room is scary.

On that subject, he's suddenly afraid of his room and bed, even during the day.  I've tried asking him why, but he isn't specific about what bothers him.  I'm thinking that Halloween decorations around town might be a cause, as he's both excited about and fearful of them (at least at night).  I do try and spend non-sleeping time with him in his room, just to be comfortable there.  Maybe it's just something that will pass on its own.

Has your preschooler been having nighttime issues?  What have you done to soothe and help them?

October 23, 2023

Weekend Musings: Pre-Halloween Edition

Boy, it's been a really hectic week, with Jude suffering through his first cold and possibly starting to get some teeth.  Poor baby has just been having a rough time sleeping, and wanting to nurse all the time.  But we did manage to do some fun things around here, like carving the pumpkin that Soren picked from the patch last week.
He drew the face, and I carefully cut it out, with much patience and strength.  Who knew such a tiny pumpkin would be so unyielding to a steak knife?
Today, S and I went to an annual, pre-Halloween event at Chris' university.  I threw on Soren's skeleton pajamas and we enjoyed lots of games and treats, courtesy of the college students.
I love that our town puts on so much for Halloween, especially if you go through the trouble of making or buying a costume only to be used once.  We have activities all week, including a little fete at S's school, so S will get his fill of dressing up (my favorite part of Halloween, becoming someone else for a spell).
I'm still on the fence about dressing up, mostly due to the work of making even a simple costume. If I get some free time (um, what's that again?), I want to make a coffee filter collar and dress as a cutesy clown.
My plans of knitting a Yoda hat and Princess Leia hair were foiled, though S still wants to wear his Darth Vader costume.  We'll see what happens...
Any pre-Halloween plans this week?

October 13, 2023

Jack-o-Lantern Wind Catcher {Tutorial}

Trying to occupy a spirited 3 year old is rather difficult, especially with a baby in the house, but Chris and I do try to make time for some kind of art or creative play every day.  And when it involves paint or messiness, it's a joyful activity for Soren.  And it gets him to sit still for, oh, about 2 minutes.
Yesterday I revisited a craft I've made with preschoolers back when I was teaching art classes--a Jack-o-Lantern wind catcher.
Typically I've used paper plates to make the pumpkins, but since I don't normally have them on hand, I used cardstock (you could substitute another stiffer paper, even the inside of a cereal box).  Here's what you'll need:
Paper plates or cardstock (2 pieces per pumpkin) | Scissors | Paint/brushes (or markers/crayons if taking the path of least messiness) | Glue | Pipe Cleaner | Painters' Tape | Crepe paper streamers | Stapler | Newspaper for protecting your table

Cut out your pumpkin shape from the paper, if not using paper plates, which are already round.  Using painters' tape, make a face for the pumpkin by cutting out pieces of tape with scissors.  Older kids would enjoy doing this part themselves.

Break out the paints.  I wanted to teach Soren about mixing colors, specifically red+yellow=orange, so I let him mix the two colors in a cup.
He thoroughly enjoyed the mixing part.  We talked about what other things are the color "orange"--GG's cats, carrots, Jude's poop.  The good stuff.
Have the child then paint their pumpkin.  They can paint over the tape, as it will be peeled off when dry, revealing the face.
Set aside the pumpkins to dry, and maybe have a nice fall-themed snack like pumpkin seeds.

When dry, have your child peel off the tape to reveal the pumpkin faces.  This part can really be quite magical for young children.

Using the glue (I prefer glue stick with young kids), have your child cover the back of one pumpkin.
Then add some cut streamers along the bottom of the pumpkin face,
and "sandwich" them in between another pumpkin face.

Twist and curl a pipe cleaner for the stem, nestle it in between the two pumpkins at the top, and then have your child help you staple it to the wind catcher.  It's ready for hanging!
Which one has the scarier face, boy or jack-o-lantern?
We hung one in our kitchen from the ceiling fan,
and one in the window for passers-by to admire.
I'm thinking they'll look nice hanging on the front porch on Halloween night.  Maybe a coven of them, if we get time to make more.

Hope you make this easy craft with your wee ones.  Enjoy!

October 12, 2023

A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

We spent a lovely autumn day with Soren's preschool at a local pumpkin patch, complete with a hayride
pumpkin picking
a corn box to play in (probably S's favorite activity--he would have spent all day in there, digging and rolling around).
There was even this amazing combine-turned-sliding board that the kids loved.
And lots of hay bales and corn cribs to climb and out of to tire out the kiddos.
I love Pennsylvania in the Fall!  How are you celebrating the season where you live?

October 6, 2023

Jude at 3 Months

Well, I've made it though some of the hardest first weeks of a baby's life, and in general, living with Jude has been pretty easy.
Jude is a pleasant little fellow, a good sleeper, and I think he may have reddish hair like mine (pumps fist into the air).  Ok, that's a pretty shallow thing to write, but since he looks almost identical to my husband, I was hoping for at least one thing similar to myself, other than his oh-so-pleasant temperament, of course.

Some other things that define Jude at 3 months:
  • He smiles A LOT, especially when mommy is around and singing.  And he likes to have conversations with us (favorite sound is "ellll", fave songs are "Old MacDonald" and "Blackbird")
  • He sleeps deliciously long stretches at night, then will easily go back to sleep (unless mama decides to smile at him during a diaper change, then I'm done for)
  • He's able to hold his head up longer when carried
  • Still loves the sling and the upright carriers.  He actually has never been on a stroller ride yet!
  • He's gotten better at being in his car seat, and mostly falls asleep on car rides, a far cry (pun intended) from a few weeks ago.
  • He loves baths, except for getting out into the cold air.
  • Still likes to be swaddled during sleep.
  • He enjoys looking at his toys, and so intently watches them, as seen below.
I so love this little guy, who has really restored my faith in myself as a mother.  What a difference having an easy baby makes for one's self esteem as a parent!  All the time, Chris and I think "wow, this is why people say you'll miss these days."

I can't wait to see what this month's changes are.

October 5, 2023

Wordless Wednesday: It's October!

Yay for my favorite month, which is finally here!  Bring on the pumpkins, cider and Halloween gear!

October 3, 2023

Phillies Phever

As the wife, sister, and daughter in a family of Phillies fans, how could I not resist dressing up the boys in Phillies gear and taking a photo?
 Well, maybe a dozen photos (that older boy just can't sit still!).
Come on Phils! We're hoping for another World Series appearance!

Halloween Crafty Fun with M&M;'s #MMsGetCorny #CBias

As a member of Collective Bias, I had the opportunity to shop and try new M&M’s Candy Corn White Chocolate candies.  I'll freely admit that I dislike traditional candy corn--mostly a texture thing, which is not unlike soft plastic to me.  However, I don't mind the taste, and was curious about M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate candies.
I've always liked M&M's, especially that there are so many tasty varieties (almond, peanut butter and pretzel ones are my favorites).  I wondered how the Candy Corn White Chocolate ones would taste.  In addition to tasting the new M&M's, I was challenged to use them in some kind of craft project.
Here's a peek at what I made (tutorial is later in the post).
I headed out one evening by myself to Walmart to search for the candy corn M&M's. Luckily, our local Walmart carried them, as I've heard that they're a little hard to come by.
While I was at Walmart, I liked moseying about, checking out all the Halloween stuff.
After all, as the mama of an infant, I don't get out much so I was savoring this solo shopping trip.
Lots of pumpkin paraphanlia
Plus I love Halloween, and enjoy seeing what costumes are out this year (pirates continue to be popular).
I finally found the M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate candies--not amongst the Halloween candy, but with in the candy aisle of the grocery area in an end cap display.
$2.48 is not a bad price for trying out these new candies, so I picked up 2 bags plus a bag of Chocolate M&M's in harvest colors, and headed to the crafts and home departments to buy some items for the craft I wanted to make with them--a M&M's mosaic.

First stop, picture frames.
Quite a selection with pretty good prices.  I liked the Better Homes and Gardens ones best.
I picked up a 5x7" white one and headed to the crafts department for some hot glue sticks.  I didn't want to use wet glue due to the M&M's color running off.
I then headed to the checkouts to finish the shopping trip and head home to make the mosaic.
Once home, I got out all the materials needed for the craft--M&M's, frame, stiff paper, scissors, hot glue gun/glue sticks, and pencil--and went to work.
I started by cutting my stiff paper to fit into the frame, then tracing the area that is on the inside of the matte, where the mosaic would go.  I also took out the glass, because the M&M's are too thick to fit underneath it.
Then I sketched out a candy corn shape to guide where I'd place the M&M's.
Next, I opened the M&M's--which incidentally, are actually pretty good with their subtle vanilla flavor.  I probably ate more as I was working than I used in the mosaic!
Then I sorted the colors into their respective areas of the mosaic.
It's better to sort them and lay them out first rather than gluing as you go, just in case you need to rearrange them.
Once I finished the candy corn shape, I moved onto the background, which would be brown.  I picked the brown ones out of the autumn colors bag--a pretty mix of reds, yellows and browns which are deserving of a craft of their own.
In retrospect, I would have used a black paper instead of white, just so the candy corn shape would "pop" more.  But with a border of brown M&M's, they still looked nice.
Next. I used the hot glue gun to work on gluing down the M&M's row by row, however I found that it dried too quickly for me, especially for how long it took me to line up the M&M's just right.  So I tried another method--Glue Dots, which I had in my craft stash.  They worked perfectly.
Once I had all of my M&M's tacked down, which didn't take as long as I thought it would, I popped it into the frame to see if I had to tweak any of the M&M's.
Perfect! And none of them fell off when I stood it upright.
And take a look at all those (mostly) perfectly lined up "m"s on the M&M's.  That takes patience!
I think it looks very festive hanging on our kitchen wall, and appropriate for the candy holiday known as Halloween.
Now to just keep my preschooler from snacking on it!  If I made this again, I think I'd go larger. I think it could really make an impact in a poster-sized frame.  However, with a newborn, I just don't think I'd be able to do all that gluing in an evening.

I do like how it turned out, and think it's a perfect seasonal addition to our home.
Plus I think the M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate candies will be making an encore appearance in our pantry.

You can check out my "moment" on This Moment too. And I'd be thrilled if you'd vote for my craft on the M&M's Get Corny website when the polls open on the 7th.
It's a competition between bloggers to create items with the M&M's candy corn in categories of crafts and recipes.  I can't wait to see what the other bloggers have cooked or crafted up!
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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