6 Nov
2014
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DIY Snowglobe Magnets

Here’s a re-run from last year because people have been asking about it lately. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll respond when I can.

This is the perfect winter craft project for those of you who thought you had run out of time for winter craft projects. Let’s make these adorable snowglobe magnets in the time it takes you to steep a cup of peppermint tea.

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What you’ll need:

–magnetic tins with clear lids
–fake snow
–personal photos or pictures from magazines
–pencil
–scissors
–kitchen sponge (a new one)
–tape

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Step 1. Buy these GRUNDTAL stainless steel magnetic spice tins from Ikea. You can find other tins online for cheaper, but these are nice and big and sturdy and they won’t rust and the lids will stay on and the magnets are already on there and you won’t be sorry, I promise. They’re just under three bucks a pop and totally worth it. (Commenters have also reported seeing these at Dollar Tree as of November 2014.)

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Step 2. Find an image that will look cute in a fridge-front snowglobe. I didn’t have any personal prints on hand, so I went through my stack of holiday catalogs and found some great stuff. In the image at the top of this post, the heart is a rug, the Merry sign is kids’ room decor, and the baby is from a sample holiday card. You could also print things from the internet if your printer isn’t an old fogey printer like mine is.

Use the clear lid of your container to trace an outline around your image, but then cut about 1/4 inch inside that line so the picture fits in the bottom of the tin. You’ll want it to fit as tightly as possible, with no gaps at the edges, so just cut a little at a time until you have the right size.

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Step 3. I found that the finished product looked better if the image wasn’t flush with the bottom of the tin, so to make the picture pop forward, a cut a little square of kitchen sponge, taped it to the inside of the tin, and then taped my image on top of it. If you’re going extra lo-fi, you could also just crumple some catalog scraps and tape the image to the pile.

Step 4. Add your fake snow! It’s not quite as bad as glitter, but it does have a way of getting everywhere, so be ye warned.

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And that’s it! Pretty cute, huh?

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They’re an easy way to add a bit of winter decor without adding a bunch of clutter, and kids love them. You know who else loves them with a picture of your kids inside? Grandmas. Tie a pretty ribbon around it or rim the side with colorful washi tape and you have a sweet little seasonal gift.

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If you like this, you might also like my other winter/holiday/Christmas crafts. Click for the list!

10 Sep
2014
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Hive Mind

Here’s how my husband filled out a portion of Wombat’s getting-to-know-you survey for kindergarten.

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He was mostly just being silly, and we all enjoyed a modest chuckle over it before moving on to more traditional concerns about starting a new school (will he get bullied? will he be able to tie his shoes? will he get suspended on sexual harassment charges for kissing the wrong girl? will he have so much fun he never wants to come home?), and then whaddya know, this is how he’s spent the last two days:

The kindergarteners get four (FOUR) recesses and also spend time outside for lunch, science, and gardening…except when they don’t because they’re pants-shittingly terrified of bees (figuratively! figuratively!) and end up spending that outside time inside with the awesome front office lady and a pile of books (score) or inside with the awesome kindergarten teacher and all the classroom toys (DUDE), which of course begs the question Why not be figuratively pants-shittingly afraid of bees? Being afraid of bees is great! Yesterday Wombat told me he had designs on the principal, who made the fatal mistake of telling the kids they were welcome to have lunch in her office once in a while, so here we are on the eleventh day of school and my kid’s trying to get himself sent to the principal’s office. *blink blink* Come on, now.

It’s been well documented that I’m no fan of shenanigans, and so my first reaction was to tell my dear, sweet, theatrical child simply and straight-forwardly to “Stop. Stop being afraid of bees.” Then, because I’m a tender, loving mother-goddess, I followed this firm directive with a list of facts and figures about pertinent topics, such as the naturally non-aggressive behavior of bees, the likelihood of being stung, and the likelihood of dying from a bee sting. (Facts: It could take as many as 500 bee stings to kill a non-allergic kid his size, and the average person is almost 300 times more likely to get murdered than die of bee stings, and that’s without including the non-insignificant factor of living in East Oakland. You’re way, way, way more likely to die from the flu or a lightning strike or a car accident. Welp! Sweet dreams, son!)

(I didn’t actually tell him all that.)

Even though I still suspect shenanigans are playing into this at least a little, he does seem legitimately terrified (his teacher told me he tried to climb into her shirt to get away from them), and I am definitely sympathetic to the situation, I really am. Our camping trip six weeks ago will go down in history as the one that went in with a wail and out with a whimper–the latter because Wombat insisted on reading while we drove on winding mountain roads and then got carsick and barfed up his PB&J into a plastic bag, poor muffin–because fifteen minutes after we pulled up to the campsite, the kids stuck a stick into a hole in the ground (sticks are for sticking; it’s right there in the name!) and were summarily enveloped in a swarm of offended wasps, who stung each of them once and then Wombat, the wielder of the stick, two more times for good measure.

I’ve never heard such screaming, and thank goodness that was not the time we found out any of the kids was allergic. (Science note: Bee stings are acidic, so use bases like baking soda to neutralize them. Wasp stings are alkaline, so use vinegar or lemon juice. We were in the vast pantry-less wilderness and ended up using ice, which worked well enough.)

I gave Wombat a nature journal earlier that day, intended for leaf rubbings and poetic musings on man’s place in the universe, and he basically turned it into an illustrated safety pamphlet. Page 1:

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You’ve got your bees, your bears, your raccoons, your spiders, and your gravity. At least the kid knows a threat when he sees one.

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Today we sent him to school with a peppermint tea bag in his pocket and instructed him to, should the need arise, KILL ALL THE BEES with a pleasant herbal beverage. For real, though, mint is supposed to repel bees, I guess, but I mostly just hope that giving him something that makes him feel protected will be as useful as actually protecting him. I don’t want him to spend his long career at this school as the kid encased in the Pigpen-esque plume of toxic insect repellant.

Also no:

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You know it’s high fashion because the footwear makes absolutely no sense.

This is where I’d love some help from the hive mind (HAR). Short of directing the lunch ladies to allow my child to take his repast in a bee-free janitorial closet, what should I do? My ask is two-fold (not to be confused with my ass, which is also two-fold):

1. Do you have any tried and true methods for repelling bees? and
2. Do you have any tried and true methods for helping kids deal with fears that are disproportionate to the actual threat but aren’t completely irrational or imaginary and in fact have just enough actual danger involved that you feel compelled to address that risk truthfully while still trying to not totally freak them out? This is a child who believes the curiously water-like “monster spray” I keep under the kitchen sink truly wards off the beasts beneath his bed, so feel free to get creative.

Additionally, please consider helping me collect hard data to make him feel more at ease in a world with bees.

1. How many times in your life have you been stung by a bee?
2. Did you die from it?

I’m hoping for 100 percent on that last one. Don’t let me down.

10 Sep
2014
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Testing, Testing

Hello? Is this thing on? That was quite the surprise hiatus I took (longest in the history of my eighty-seven years of blogging, hashtag oldskool, hashtag noonecares), and although I’m 100 percent sure I missed blogging more than it missed me, it feels good to re-enter if not the [awkward air quotes] “scene” then at least the headspace where I’ve spent so much of my [awkward air quotes] “adult” life. (I say it feels good, but perhaps a better word is “right,” since, to be honest, I’m finding the entire prospect strangely intimidating. “Wait, you want me to write out some personal thoughts in long form and then post them onto the internet? Are you sure that’s a good idea? Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that; no more of that.”)

Lear quote in evidence, I feel like I’ve aged an eon in the last three months, in part because one gigantic work project took fifteen years off my life *shakes fist, riffles Benjamins*, but also because Wombat graduated preschool wearing a paper mortarboard and went to summer camp on the bus and learned to cartwheel in gymnastics class and then started kindergarten like it was no big thing, like he’s been ready for it all his life. And Fox…Fox turned two (TWO!) and is Foxier and twoier than anyone who ever Foxed or twoed, but he can also suddenly say all the words and make little jokes and do nutty things like take off his shoes and socks and pants and run around the house with a foam crown on his head declaring “The king! The king!” We laugh with him now more than we make varied noises of frustration in his general direction, so that’s a nice change.

Meanwhile, I’ve become one of those women who grows her hair cartoonishly long yet only ever wears it in a bun. What’s up with that? I hate those women. The worst part is that when I don’t wear it in a bun, I wear it in a side braid a la a certain frosty Disney enchantress, and this close to Halloween, I can’t help but entertain thoughts of transforming myself into an approximation of a kiddie sensation except…other people’s children make me nervous. Can I be Elsa but also guarantee no small folks mob me or possibly even acknowledge my presence? Can’t I be admired but also somehow invisible? Hell, I should probably just cut my hair. (But how awesome would it be to dress Fox as Olaf? SO AWESOME.)

Lots to look forward to, lots to look forward to looking back on. Let’s not be strangers.

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