Busy Bags for Church and Car

Hubby and I started going to a new church more than a year ago. (We finally became members this month.) We love many things about this church, but it doesn’t have a nursery for the little ones to go to during the service. There is a play room with a speaker playing the sermon, but the children generally spend the entire service with the rest of the family. My toddler (almost preschooler!) did fine at first with a few toys and playing with my jewelry, but he has matured a bit and needs more stimulation now. This has forced me to get creative with small, quiet activities he can do in a church pew. We also drive 4-6 hours to see my in-laws a few times a year, so I also need some car-friendly activities. Here is what I have come up with so far for my almost-three-year-old:

  1. Duplo kits (current favorite). I have had my son help me put together Duplo kits to entertain him. We fill a bag with some Duplos to build different things. Usually, the little man, vehicle base, and flowers end up in the bag with some basic bricks. This past week, it was all red bricks. My son used these to make a plane, a horse, and other creations. These didn’t work so well in the car, but I think he just needs time to get used to managing them in his lap.
  2. Velcro sticks. My sister-in-law made these with colored craft sticks and velcro dots. These are great for learning colors and shapes with straight sides (square, rectangle, pentagon, etc.). My son used these to make a drill, a hammer, a triangle, a house, and many other things. These worked well in both the car and at church.
  3. Puzzles. Any puzzle will do. We are currently stuck between the puzzles with four pieces which make a shape and the regular puzzles. I think my son will do better with these later in the year. I don’t think this would work well in the car.
  4. Lacing cards. You can make these out of cardboard and a hole punch or buy the pre-made ones pretty much anywhere (even the Dollar Tree). Again, my son is a little young for these, but I think he’ll catch on to them sometime in the next six months. You could also do a string with large beads. This will make a great car activity.
  5. Pipe cleaners in a bottle. I cut down some pipe cleaners and put them in an empty spice bottle. To make this more challenging, you could put colored stickers around the holes and have your child match the colors. I think this one would also work well in the car.
  6. Matching cards. We have a set of cards where my son matches a colored vehicle to the corresponding shadow. He hasn’t quite caught on to this one yet. These are easy to make, or you could use a matching pairs game. My sister-in-law made our set for us. This is another one we haven’t tried in the car yet.
  7. Dinosaur farm. We have a pencil pouch with some small plastic dinosaurs we get out occasionally. If I include our duplo fence, my son can make a little farm on the church pew. We can also switch out the dinosaurs for some duplo animals we have.
  8. Books. This isn’t really a busy bag, but I usually slip a couple of books in our bag for my son to flip through during church. My baby also likes looking at the pictures once in a while.

I don’t pack all of these busy bags every week. My son usually picks out some duplos and 2-4 books. Then, I pick a couple of the other busy bags to include. Everything fits in my toddler’s play bag, and he likes carrying it out to the car and into the church. He also usually has a little stuffed animal he carries because he will sometimes fall asleep for nap on the way home. Let me know if you have any busy bag ideas.

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Summer Capsule Wardrobe

It is time for another capsule wardrobe! As always, I mostly follow the project 333 rules. I don’t plan on having any outerwear this season, so I think I will include jewelry this time around. I will not include the rings I wear every day in the count. I may add in more of my jewelry to my capsule. I plan on experimenting with wearing dresses over shorts to see how that works with breastfeeding. I hope to find another pair of shorts, more summery tops, and a pair of sandals. Here is what I have so far (items in bold have carried over from previous capsule wardrobes):

  1. Navy skirt
  2. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern
  3. Floral skirt (this is an old one I couldn’t wear while pregnant)
  4. Black and white skirt
  5. Dark wash jean
  6. Denim shorts
  7. Navy cardigan
  8. Navy short-sleeved cardigan
  9. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  10. Navy t-shirt
  11. Grey t-shirt
  12. Blue shirt with swirly pattern
  13. Patterned shirt with empire waist
  14. Teal t-shirt (I actually got bleach on this shirt and may put it with lounge wear)
  15. Navy tiered tank
  16. Navy belt
  17. Dark blue flats (these are wearing out and need to be replaced)
  18. Black wedges
  19. Grey sneakers
  20. Silver links necklace
  21. Floral statement necklace
  22. Gold dainty necklace
  23. Peacock necklace
  24. Long gold necklace
  25. Navy charm bracelet
  26. Diamond stud earrings
  27. Grey pearl stud earrings
  28. Sapphire stud earrings

I start a new part time job next week with a company shirt I have to wear during my shifts. I don’t know if this will affect my capsule wardrobe at all. Let me know if any of you do a capsule wardrobe as well.

Monkeys and Crawling

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Most of my creative energy has gone toward crochet projects, and I don’t have much left for my blog. Since more than a month has gone by since my latest post, I thought I would post a bit of an update.

We have made slow progress on our new house. Nothing feels really done yet, but the house definitely looks improved from what we started with. Since we gutted the bedrooms, built out and insulated the walls, and put new drywall and flooring in, we know we don’t have any unknown mold issues in those rooms. Hubby also updated all of the wiring in the bedrooms and painted the rooms. He also added another outlet and more lighting in the kitchen. We hope to get more work done during Memorial Day weekend.

My younger son turned six months old last week. He started crawling about three weeks ago, which is much sooner than my older son. This has kept me on my toes and started the dreaded sibling rivalry. My boys got along much better when the baby couldn’t get into the toddlers toys. I’ve heard sharing is a real struggle with firstborn children.

Meanwhile, my toddler (soon to be preschooler!) has become really interested in monkeys. If a monkey is involved, he loves it. He became attached to a stuffed monkey when he was younger and has slowly become more interested in them. He likes Curious George books and movies, we even found a little stuffed George at a church rummage sale recently. A monkey shirt I bought him is always the first one to be chosen when it’s clean.

My family received a zoo membership for Christmas. I took the boys for the first time on Tuesday, and my toddler loved it. He liked seeing the capuchin monkeys on the monkey island, the Tasmanian devils loping around their enclosure, the giant shark tank and fish tank, and many other animals. Since we have a membership, I decided to check out a book about an animal in our zoo each week as a way to help my toddler learn more about animals around the world. Then, we can see the animals at the zoo (we probably won’t go every week). This week’s animal was the capuchin monkey, of course.

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Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

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Spring has arrived here in the Midwest. We had one day of perfect weather followed by several days of rain two weeks ago. This just serves as a reminder to include a wide variety of clothes in my spring capsule wardrobe. Nursing my baby is still going well, so I won’t be including any dresses this season. The weather usually starts out as cold and rainy (with the possibility of snow today) and transitions to consistently hot weather. I will probably have to swap out some items as the season goes on, such as exchanging my winter coat and a pair of pants for shorts and/or skirts. Here is what I will start the season with (as always, items in bold carried over from previous capsule wardrobes):

  1. Red and blue floral scarf
  2. Grey cable hat
  3. Trench coat
  4. Blue winter coat
  5. Navy jacket
  6. Navy skirt
  7. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern
  8. Dark wash straight leg jean (these are wearing out and need to be replaced)
  9. Dark wash jean
  10. Wine-colored jeans
  11. Denim shorts
  12. Navy cardigan
  13. Grey cardigan
  14. Navy short-sleeved cardigan
  15. Navy and white long-sleeved shirt
  16. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  17. Navy t-shirt
  18. Grey t-shirt
  19. Navy short-sleeved top with striped detail
  20. Teal top
  21. Navy tiered tank
  22. Navy belt (repurchased)
  23. Brown boots
  24. Dark blue flats (these are also wearing out and need to be replaced)
  25. Black wedges
  26. Grey sneakers

I plan on looking for a few lighter weight shirts for late spring/summer because a couple of my short sleeved shirts are a sweater+like material. I would also like to find another pair of shorts and/or a casual skirt.

Capsule Wardrobe Update

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More than a year has gone by since I have done an in-depth update of a capsule wardrobe, although I did recently write a post about my capsule wardrobes in general. Since I had some difficulty putting together this capsule wardrobe together, I thought I would take this opportunity to go over what worked and what didn’t and why. Here is what I started with:

  1. Striped scarf
  2. Red and blue floral scarf
  3. Cobalt blue silk scarf (favorite scarf this season)
  4. Grey cowl scarf (didn’t wear at all)
  5. Grey cable hat (rarely wore)
  6. Trench coat
  7. Blue winter coat
  8. Navy skirt
  9. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern (my go-to for church)
  10. Dark wash straight leg jean
  11. Dark wash jean
  12. Navy leggings (rarely wore)
  13. Navy cardigan
  14. Grey cardigan
  15. Dark grey sweater (rarely wore, switched to lounge wear)
  16. Teal 3/4 sleeve sweater
  17. Blue and green plaid shirt (rarely wore)
  18. Dark blue button down shirt
  19. Navy and white long-sleeved shirt
  20. Teal long-sleeved shirt
  21. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  22. Navy t-shirt
  23. Grey t-shirt
  24. Navy short-sleeved top with striped detail
  25. Teal top
  26. Navy tiered tank
  27. Navy belt
  28. Brown boots
  29. Dark blue flats (rarely wore)
  30. Black wedges
  31. Grey sneakers

We had a very mild winter here in the Midwest. This meant I didn’t wear my scarves, crocheted hat, leggings, and sweaters as much as I have in years past. I think I will include fewer scarf options in the future. On days when the temperature required a scarf, I didn’t reach for my lighter weight scarves or my cowl scarf. I think I will include fewer scarf options in the future. My heavy grey sweater moved over to the lounge wear category because I rarely wore it outside my home. It’s too bulky to fit under my coats, and I tend to feel hot in it anyway. If I don’t get much use out of it next winter, I will probably donate it and get a lighter sweater.

My dark blue flats also didn’t really work out for this capsule wardrobe.Since they are made entirely out of recyclable materials, I can’t just take them to get re-soled and keep wearing them. On the plus side, I don’t have to just throw them away and can put them in the recycle bin. I will probably replace them with either a pair of sandals or another pair of flats.

I didn’t wear my two button-down shirts as much as I expected. I really just like wearing cardigans so much more. I plan on putting these away for the spring. I will pull them back out in the fall to give them another go. If I don’t like them as much, I will probably just donate them and stick with my casual top and cardigan uniform.

I tried out my first pair of colored pants in almost a decade. I bought a pair of wine-colored jeans. Since several of my tops were in neutral colors with matching cardigans, I was able to pull them off. The ones I bought have very deep pockets, which I loved. These became the pants I wore the most often this season.

I have a few items I put aside while I was pregnant which I had no desire to include in this capsule wardrobe and will probably donate. These include: my purple cardigan, my emerald top, and my navy and white sleeveless top. They just don’t work for me anymore or don’t fit.

I will ponder on these things while I put together my next capsule wardrobe. Spring is always a temperamental season here in the Midwest. We can have snow one day and beautiful, 70 degree weather the next. I will try to put a post with my Spring capsule next weekend.

Recent Nonfiction Reads

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I have spent the past year or so trying to incorporate more nonfiction into my reading. I like to spend the last half hour or so of my day reading. Sometimes, that happens while I nurse my baby right before I go to sleep. Other times, my youngest goes down for a long stretch a little early and I get to take my time with my evening routine and read for a little longer. Still other times, I don’t get to read before bed at all.

Reading has always been important to me. My dad used to read to me when I was a little girl. When I learned how to read, he would have me read to him. I definitely inherited my love of reading from my dad. I have tried to pass along the love of reading to my sons. My toddler seems to really enjoy books, and hubby and I try to make sure he gets bedtime books every night.

My tastes usually run in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Last year, however, I tried out several nonfiction books. While I probably won’t switch to mostly nonfiction books, I did enjoy a few books more than I expected. Here is a list of nonfiction books I have read in the past year or so (in no particular order):

  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner goes through some unexpected connections between things, such as teachers and sumo wrestlers (they both cheat).
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo encourages people to declutter and only keep items which spark joy. (Read my full review here.)
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby is a memoir written by a man who suffered a stroke and could only blink his left eye.
  • Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan helps people shop my consciously and includes several ethical brands to try out. (Read my full review here.)
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines tells the story of how the couple got started in the tv business and a bit of their love story.
  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes goes through the journey of making the beloved film The Princess Bride. This is probably the nonfiction book I would most highly recommend.

Have any of you read any good nonfiction books lately?

Farewell Makeup

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When we moved into our new house almost a month ago, I tried to do some decluttering. While going through things in the bathroom, I came across my makeup bag in one of the drawers. I had toyed with the idea of getting rid of my makeup for several months, but I kept putting it off.

Makeup has never appealed to me much. Even in high school, I really only wore it for show choir competitions and special occasions. I used makeup even less. I’ve certainly never incorporated it into my daily routine.

When I came across my makeup bag (which was only the size of a large pencil pouch), I realized I had not used anything in that bag in more than a year. I decided it was time to just give up on makeup for a while. I only have three products I use: an acne product for the occasional bad pimple, Burt’s Bees replenishing lip balm with pomegranate oil, and Burt’s Bees sweet violet tinted lip balm. I use the pomegranate lip balm almost every day. It works like chap stick and tints my lips ever so slightly. I rarely reach for the tinted lip balm. It serves as more of a lipstick and doesn’t last very long.

I may eventually experiment with makeup. For now, I’m happy with my simple daily routine. I would much rather spend my money on books 😉

Free Printables

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I have slowly gathered inspiration for my boys’ room over the past couple of weeks. Since we no longer rent, I want to create a fun room for my sons. This has proven difficult as my oldest, who is still a toddler, changes his mind about what interests him very frequently. My youngest won’t really care about his room for a while yet because a) he still sleeps in our room and b) he is only three months old.

The basics of the room will remain pretty much the same: bright green cubby shelves, brown and green bins, dark wood dressers, and a jungle quilt for my oldest’s bed. However, I really don’t know what to do for art and decorations for the room. My toddler’s interests include: Curious George, dinosaurs, and the little wooden tool set he got for Christmas. My baby also has a few fox things I would like to incorporate into the room. For now, I decided to just hang some black frames with some free printables once the room is done. I found a few good printables online, but I also decided to try my hand at creating my own. Check them out below and feel free to use them (just right click on the image and select “save image as”).

 

monkey-printable

rawr-printable

We Bought A House And Had A Baby!

I have seriously procrastinated on writing this post. Our home buying journey started in August of 2016. At that point, we had a small down payment saved up. My hubby and I were not too serious about buying a house as baby #2 was due in early November. (I haven’t posted about his arrival yet, either.) We found a house we really liked and even had an offer accepted on it in September. However, a few pricey repairs came up in the inspection which caused us to withdraw our offer. We decided to wait until after the baby was born to start looking again.

15000206_10210921069568004_6800210323327572351_oBaby #2 arrived via scheduled cesarean during the first week of November. I wanted to try for a vaginal delivery after having a cesarean the first time (read about that here), but I just didn’t really show any signs of going into labor. This had some benefits, such as being able to have my out of state in-laws come stay with my toddler while I had to stay at the hospital. My husband once again wrote an awesome birth announcement: Baby Boy #2 “was brought, screaming, into this world at 10:01 AM precisely, exactly as he dictated. Viceroy Supreme Marshall, Ruler of Many Lands, Executor of the Grand Manifesto of World Domination, will be formally bestowed with title, land, and mandate by Supreme Emperor Brother, once Stuart arises from his nap. Viceroy Supreme Marshall bids all well wishers to kneel before him on the morrow.”

About a week after baby #2’s entrance into the world (and while he was still on paternity leave), hubby started looking at houses on his own. He took photos and videos for me to look at to decide which houses were worth actually visiting. The house we settled on is definitely a fixer-upper. It needs renovations in pretty much every spot of the house, but it comes with a solid foundation and a decent location within walking distance of an elementary school, middle school, and high school.

We hesitated about telling people about this house after the first one fell through. My postpartum check up ended up being on the same day as our closing day. Six weeks later, we finally finished the house enough to move in. My husband started with gutting the bedrooms, updating the wiring in the bedrooms, building out and insulating the exterior walls, and hanging drywall. He also insulated the attic. Several friends helped us through the process, but we have still been camping out in the living room for the first week while hubby and some friends have sanded, primed, and painted the bedrooms. We hope to finish them tomorrow and finally move out of the living room. Our next major project involves completely renovating the bathroom.

 

 

2016 Reading Challenge: Nov and Dec

I forgot to post in December about the 2016 Reading Challenge. I had a bit of a conflict in November and didn’t end up reading a book for that month’s category either. The categories for November and December were “a book you’ve already read at least once” and “a book published this year” respectively. For November, I signed up for a reading challenge with my local used book store called the Books Are Better November 5k READ. For that challenge, I had to read 16 books in November (the idea is 16 books averaging 300 pages each adds up to about 5k pages). After the challenge started, I realized the rules said I couldn’t count books I’ve already read before. So, I didn’t end up reading a book for this challenge in November. I did end up completing the 5k READ challenge, though.

fantasticFor December, I ended up reading J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay. I get sick in movie theaters, so I couldn’t see the film when it came out in November. Luckily, my local library had the screenplay available for me to read during my trip to visit my in-laws last week. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the movie, here is the synopsis on Amazon:

“When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…”

I enjoyed this book much more than the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play I read earlier in the year. Since Fantastic Beasts was actually written by Rowling, it felt like it fit in the Harry Potter universe better than the Cursed Child (which just felt like fan fiction to me). Since I got to see several clips and theatrical trailers for Fantastic Beasts, it was also easier for me to picture what was going on in the book.

I enjoyed learning more about magic in the United States from this book. Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the North American school for magic, was mentioned. I also got a peek inside the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), which is the governing body of magical society in the US. From the screenplay, I learned MACUSA’s main goal during the 1920s was to prevent no-maj (muggle) detection of magic. The Second Salem Society in New York tries to expose witches and wizards and wants to persecute them.

This book was a quick, fun read. I look forward to when the movie comes out so I can see the magical creatures described in the book. In the mean time, I appreciate having the screenplay available for a peek into this new era of the wizarding world.

Other books published in 2016 my friends read include:

  • The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
  • Swan Knight’s Sword (Moth and Cobweb book 3) by John C. Wright

My friends and I plan on doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge. We will probably do a combination of the fun and growth lists.

Check out my other reading challenge posts for the year: January, February, March, April, May and June, July, August, September, and October.