Saturday, October 4, 2014

100 Days of Happiness: 65 days in!

In the past few weeks, I have neglected to update the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge that I started at the end of July.  See below for the highlights since day 27:
Day 31: Two little boys while we camped for the final time this summer.
Day 35: The Back to School Ice Cream Social day!
Day 36: Watching 5 kiddos hop on the bus the first day of school!  Back to routine, and I LOVE it.
Day 37: Enjoying my delicious Keweenaw Coffee Works coffee in my new cup = Perfect Morning.
Day 41: I spent a couple hours in the blueberry patch. 
Day 42: The middle dude celebrated his birthday with 2 of his cousins.
Day 44: Road trip with my sisters - to meet the others.
Day 46: Large American flag along the highway that you could see for miles. 
Day 48: Got to see some of my favorites at an 8th grade football game.
Day 52: I looked up one evening and saw these small stacking objects in the railing.  Kids are so interesting.
Day 54: I caught my boys making faces into the mixing bowl -
I remember doing the same thing when I was a kid.
Day 59: I made these shirts for my girls last weekend. They think they are awesome.  
The knit was so easy to sew; I am looking forward to my next project!
Day 63: I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, so the chairs became a fort for the littles.
Day 64: My magic mom shoes.  My mom sent these to me, while I was expecting #8, occasionally I take them out.  The 5 year old is very skeptical of their magical abilities and insists they are not as magic as Santa!

Happiness is a choice!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Hug a Pillow - Saying Good-bye and Good Luck

Late this summer, we learned that a friend of ours was moving 500 miles south for a large portion of the this school year.  My kids were so sad, because she always made time for them - coming over to visit at sporting events, hauling them to get ice cream, even coming to our house occasionally to hang out.

I was trying to think of something that would let her know that we love her and would miss her, but also a bit unsure what a teenager would appreciate/use.  I finally decided a small pillow would be easy to fit, take with on trips, and cozy up with if she got lonely.

I started with red and blue jersey and some grey/white polkadots.
I had this jersey sitting around for a few months, and I was a bit nervous to try it out because of the stretchy/softness.  The pillow was a perfect project to try it out.  All I needed was 2 squares, so that should be easy... wrong! This particular knit stretched in both directions, making it difficult to make perfect squares.  Carefully laying the fabric out and not sliding the ruler, I was able to get the faces of the pillow cut out.  

I decided to add a  ruffled edge with the polkadots. I cut 4" strips of the fabric and sewed them together to make a long rectangle 1.5 times the perimeter of the cut squares.  Folding it in half, I ironed wrong sides together, and began creating the pleats.\

1. Lay the folded ironed fabric next to a ruler

2. Pull the fabric over 1/2" and pin in place.

3. Slide the new pleat to the 3" mark and repeat the process until the length of the fabric is pleated.

4. Baste pleats in place.

5. Sandwich between the pillow panels and sew together, leaving an opening for a pillow for or stuffing.

After stuffing or inserting a pillow form, it is the perfect gift to give someone you love - have the kids hug it for extra comfort!

Happiness is a choice!

Linked up to some of these parties.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LeapBand Review {Promotional Post}

Disclosure: I was sent a LeapBand for review after use by my kids.  All opinions below are mine alone.

I love that LeapFrog is expanding beyond handheld video devices for older children.  The idea of making a fitness tracker that includes child friendly challenges and motivation is brilliant.  However, there is room for improvement with this initial model.

I took it out of the package and directly handed it over to my children.  They seemed to figure out how to operate the watch without any problems, even though it is button operated versus the touch screen they are so used to from LeapFrog.

So far their favorite feature of the LeapBand is the stop watch and using it to time each other running different 'out and backs' through my house.  I have encouraged them to take it outside, but so far they have not attempted our 1/4 mi long driveway.

Here is my official list of pros & cons:


  • Easy for kids to operate
  • Kid friendly rewards
  • A 'like mom has' fitness tracker
  • Large variety of challenge activities to hold interest.


  • No step counter
  • Lacks volume control (even a loud/soft/silent would be nice)
  • Not touch screen (as they are used to)
  • Bulky band that is a bit sweaty on my hot children.

In general, my kids are active on their own, so encouraging movement is not really necessary, but the LeapBand is a fun accessory to promote physical activity combined with learning - healthy choices, telling time, and earning rewards.

{All photos are courtesy of LeapFrog}  A LeapBand giveaway coming soon!
Linked up here.

Remember: happiness is your choice!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kids Jobs {the Ongoing Battle}

Getting kids to participate in the daily household chores is an ongoing battle - at least at my house.  In their own unique way, kids do have a desire to contribute to the household, but they are also kids, so they do not see messes in the same ways that moms see messy rooms.  

Here I will share 8 ways that I keep my sanity while getting my kids to do their fair share.  I am no expert, so take these and apply them in your own way to your household.

  1. Weekly job lists.  Rather than try to come up with daily jobs lists or fixed rotating lists, my kids have set jobs for each week.  This is so much easier for me - I print a list one time with each child listed and the week number listed in a table, so all i have to refer to is the week number and they all know what is their responsibility. Also, weekly jobs allow kids to repeat tasks and in theory master a chore.
  2. Short list of tasks.  Under the table of jobs, I have a task list for them to complete for each job.  The daily items are just normal upkeep - sweeping & straitening.  The scrubbing and dusting are saved for Saturdays (or me during the week).
  3. No Rewards. I have tried to reward for cleaning and contributing to this house.  But I stink at keeping track of these kinds of things.  So, jobs are just part of their daily routine.  My older boys are on a salary every 2 weeks, but they are not directly rewarded for completing cleaning jobs
  4. Jobs for all kids over 3.  My 5 year old, although not in school this year, is part of the job rotation.  I keep all the same jobs for all 6 of my older kids.  Obviously this is with the realization on my part that when the younger end have bathrooms or kitchen duty, that I will need to help pick up the slack in that area.  But often times, the 3 or 4 year old kid WANTS to help - so why not capitalize on that attitude.
  5. Kitchen = Weekly Job.  In past attempts to have job lists, I did not include dishes in the after school jobs, but instead kept that as a daily rotating task - per my kids request.  However, midway through last school year, I decided I wanted to try it as one of the weekly jobs.  The. Best. Decision. Ever.  The minions grumbled about it in the beginning, but they quickly realized that they would have a 5 week break before they were in the rotation for dishes again.
  6. Bedrooms. These rooms are the jobs of the kids to keep tidy.  I truly believe that bedroom doors were invented for a reason - for me to close.  I was not a neat child (and struggle with neatness as an adult), so I tend to give my kids a bit of freedom when it come to their rooms.  It is interesting to see that some kids tend to be more particular and others not so much.  However, to instill some type of routine in their lives, I like to have bedrooms cleaned and vacuumed each Saturday.  There are also other jobs in the basement and outside that are randomly assigned to the Saturday (or weekday) job lists.
  7. Letting Go.  My sister once shared advice from her mother-in-law regarding kids cleaning and not quite getting it done as a mom would like: 'Half a job is better than no job.'  I try to remember this when they speed through with a lick and a promise.  There are days when that is all the attention their jobs get, because we have a list 5 bullet points long to accomplish elsewhere that evening - sports, school, meetings, etc.  If there is something that I notice not up to par, I try to point it out to them so that it can be rectified at that moment or in the future.  Raising a house full of kids (mostly boys), I have learned that not everything is going to be perfectly cleaned (and I really do not require it to be) and that there is not possible way that I can do it all myself.  
  8. Gender neutral job distribution. On the boys note, boys in this house are learning to clean a kitchen, scrub bathroom, bake brownies, make supper, etc.  It is out of necessity - their sisters are only 8 and 2.  As they grow and they girls are able to take more of the 'girly' tasks, I may change my way of doing things, but for now I would like to think that I am raising well rounded young men!
Here is a photo of my list this year.
Each time I institute a new method of job distribution in this house I hope that it will be the last time.  This school year is the first time I have used the same system as the previous school year.  I am thrilled with that.  It means that something is working, and for the kids they are not having to learn a new system at home this year.  Adaptations are sure to come on the future, but I think I may have finally landed on something that works.

Be Happy!

{Linked up here}

Friday, September 5, 2014

Playing with Leather

I got a phone call the other day from a friend giving me a heads up to some leather being on sale at a local store (how can you not love a friend like that?)... well, needless to say, I hustled over there that afternoon.  Maybe, perhaps, I bought more than I needed too.  And then maybe, I told my sister about the great opportunity... I just might have purchased a few more pieces when I brought her to check it out....
Making a long story short, I now have a large quantity of leather in my possession... 
I do have some ideas crashing around in my brain for what I might use it for.  This seat cushion was in need of updating, so I covered it in grey leather - LOVE!  I need a little bit more foam to fill out the cushion, so it is still technically a WIP.
I hit the store for the first time as we were leaving town for a quick night away.  While we were in the city, I used the opportunity to pick up some tools for working with leather - most importantly a punch to help make sewing lines, leather needles, and some polyester thick thread.
My dear had a wallet that was falling apart, so I offered to make him one.  I had a straight edge, but no hard surface... I wanted to try making something while I had some quiet minutes.  For being made in the car I am happy with how it turned out.  There are a few squiggly spots in the sewing, but it lends a bit of character and reminds me of some of the things that I learned while working with a new material.
Leather is a different experience than sewing with cotton/cotton blends. 
  • The edges do not fray, so hemming is not necessary although on the new seat cushion, I did hid the seams inside the cover.
  • Pins are not recommended - I used binder clips to help hold seams.
  • I found I could easily cut with my rotary cutter - at least through the thinner pieces.
  • Marking on leather is tricky - I used permanent marker for my large wallet (below), which was fine because I did not have any places where the marks would be seen.  I think that if you can find a way to make a cutting groove with perhaps a nail or something that would be helpful.
This new material has been a fun change/challenge for me to work with; I am looking forward to creating more items with the leather that I have purchased.  Check out our leather project pin board here!
I am still doing the 100 Happy Days challenge, and will update with pictures again soon.
Remember Happiness is a choice!

Linked up to some of these parties.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Swaddle Blankets {Happiness pictures}

My baby LOVES the swaddle blankets - he pulls it all up around his face and nuzzles in when he goes to sleep.  His whole body relaxes noticeably when he gets his hands on his favorite blanket.  I always like to have a few 'favorite' blankets... for those moments when 'there is that I am putting this nasty thing into your bed.'
In fact I have found on our family trips or camping trips, it is best to have one blanket designated for the crib and a separate one assigned to the more dirty duties - beach afternoons, holding spots on the bleachers in Williamsport, etc.
BUT.... those brand name blankets are very expensive at 4/$50 - they are super nice, but to stock up it is a little expensive.  Believing I could make a set, I did a bit of searching and found this fabric from  Initially, some of the fabric was really coarse feeling, with each washing they become more and more cuddly perfect.
 I pre-washed all of the fabric before attempting to sew these blankets.  I cut out a square of fabric that was as wide as the width of the fabric.  As suggested in several of the on-line posts about sewing with cotton gauze/muslin, I did not pin the edges, but slowly rolled them over and sewed the hems in place.
 I love that the end product is a perfect square - exactly what I need to swaddle my babies.  This particular set was given as a baby shower gift.

Happy Photos for my past week or so:
Day 14: Who does not enjoy to swing?  Even I took a ride on this day!

Day 16: He was explaining to me what smiling and crying meant at the same time 'Happy-Sad"

Day 17: I will stay warm this winter

Day 18: Throwing sand/rocks in the lake.  What a perfect way to pass some time.

Day 19 - biggest boy giving the other a ride into town 
Day 21: Saying good-bye to our friend, in a very great party!

Day 22: We celebrated our 14 year anniversary.  And took an overnighter in Minneapolis

Day 23: I filled my cart and emptied my wallet at IKEA.

Day 24: My almost 5 year old can ride a bike... He was taught by his much younger cousin...

Day 25: The 3rd one from the left side is mine - the others are his birthday buddies.

Day 26: Mostly was a sewing mess... oh well, Life will continue.

Day 27: They thought it was kind of funny that he is taller than his auntie.

Remember friends, it is a choice - choose to find happiness in the little things!
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