40 Ideas! Number 1-Dino Fossils!

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com!   

Our first activity is dino fossils!!  I had no idea the boys would like these so much!  First we read "How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum".  Then I told the boys we were going to make our OWN dino fossils!  They were stoked!!
All you need is an air dry clay of some sort.  I used Crayola Air Dry Clay and I got it from Jo-ann.  There are several varieties of kid safe clay that you could use, I just had this on hand.

You also need a variety of small dinosaurs.  These were in our collection and were about 2in long.  
 These were simple and fun and got a huge reaction from my boys!  Here's how you do it...
Take a chunk of clay and roll it and knead it into an egg shaped ball and flatten it.  
I then put the "egg" on the lid of the clay container and let Moses gently put the dino into the clay. 
We pushed them in about half way...
Then pulled them out gently...by the tail worked best!
And voila! You have a fossil!  If your kids are old enough you can let them paint them when the clay dries.  
We made a bunch and the boys like to play a matching game by matching the dinos up with their fossils. 

Have fun!  And come back soon to see all the rest of the wonderful things you can try!

Until then you can have a "mini art lesson" or "paint with pudding" or "go crazy with shaving cream"!

the $10 coffee table.

Most people getting ready to move do things like pack, sort and clean.  Me?  What better time to start and finish projects, right?
We've been searching for a coffee table for some time.  We wanted cheap, real wood and a certain shape.  Hello yard sale find from a sweet old lady for $10.  It was in pretty good shape.  Normal people would have taken it home, polished it and called it a day.  But we had a vision. 
I wanted the top to look like a vintage sign.  Doug had the idea to add our last name.  I googled some inspiration, settled on a color and there we go.  (Spray paint was Rustoleum red- not sure of the name).     
I printed out my stencil and cut them out.  I used "Poster Script" and "Arial Black".  
I primed and painted.  
I traced the stencils after measuring for placement.  
I got this far the first night...
...then added a few more details the next day.
When it was dry, I gave it a good sanding to age it.  
And then I loved it forever. :) 
Just an FYI.  You may notice that if you sand over white words they will pick up some of the color they are painted on...in this case, my letters turned pink.  I just went over the letters with a magic eraser and it got them back to white and I was still able to sand them the way I wanted them. 

The best part is that the boys can't hurt it.  Win.  Win.  Win. 

I love a good makeover. 

on handling new baby advice (a huggies post)

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

What is it about a woman having a bulging abdomen or a tiny newborn that opens them up to advice from every. single. living. person. on the planet? If the average person received as much unsolicited advice from the population at large, there would be a lot more charges for assault.

If you are holding a newborn, it seems like everyone around you thinks she's an expert on how to care for that newborn. Everyone from sweet little grandmas to bossy know-it-alls with NO kids of their own will just cover you with all sorts of advice if you give them the smallest window of opportunity. Heaven forbid you actually give the slightest hint that you may actually NEED advice.

It's inevitable: you will get advice that you don't ask for. The real question is how do you handle it?

For me it was generally a nod-and-smile sort of situation. This was really the best way to avoid a long, drawn-out battle between someone who thought she knew better and the person who knows best (psst, it's the mother!). I tried my best to be polite and recognize that most people mean well. And in general, most people will eventually move on and go about their OWN business and leave you to go on your way. It was the insistent ones that made me crazy. The ones who said things like, "You should really put that baby down or you will spoil him." Yeah, no, I don't buy that. I would usually reply with, "Well, I know he won't let me hold him for much longer, so while he has no say, I'll keep snuggling him, thanks."

You know how you handle these people? You do your homework and have a great support system. Doug and I talked a lot about all the big choices and some about the little ones, and in general we just made sure we were on the same page for all the things that really mattered. That was step one. Step two was having a REALLY great pediatrician to back us up. Find a doctor whose philosophy matches up with the path you have taken to raise your kids. This second step is especially important when it comes to issues that will bring about lots of extra advice...like vaccinations, potty training, sleep training, etc.

We were very fortunate to find a great pediatrician right away. She agreed with our methods. She was helpful when we needed it and we could be honest about any sort of problem we were having. It was great to have a doctor back me up so I could say to the insistent advice-givers, "Well, we've talked about it with our doctor and she agrees with us." Totally not necessary, but it gave me the confidence I needed to gently brush these people off. Politely, of course. Being informed goes a long way.

Step three is to find people you can willingly seek advice from. I am fortunate that I have a great mother-in-law who is also a nurse. She has been endlessly helpful when it comes to all sorts of issues...baby and otherwise.

Really, what it comes down to is having confidence in your own ability as a mother. God gave you instincts for a reason. If you allow others to stifle them from day one, you will lean less and less on those instincts until you can no longer hear them!

How about you? How do you handle the gobs of advice you get as a mother of a newborn?

Be sure to check out all my other baby posts HERE.

Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

spoken by aaron.

Aaron:  I can't wait until I'm older and I can drive and chew gum.  I'll be able to get dads keys easily. 

Lord help us.

Calling all crafters...or moms!

I'm working on compiling a list of 40 activities to do with kids over the summer (and anytime!).  So far I have some pretty awesome bloggers doing some guest posts!  If you have a blog, have a cute, simple and cheap kids activity and YOU would like to be a guest blogger, email me at ricracandpompoms at gmail.com! 

Each post will also have a list of even more simple ideas to jog your brain! 

My goal is to have a nice go-to list of things you can do at a moments notice!  I think it will be way fun!

Have an awesome weekend!


raising my ebenezer . part one.

I've said for a while that once our story was near it's end, that I would share all the awesome ways that God has helped us along the way.  This is partly for those of you who read this blog, hopefully you can gain a little comfort from my stories of God's protection and provision.  But mostly, this is for me, as an effort to keep my memory long term and not be short sighted.

The stories in the Bible that frustrate me the most are almost all of the ones involving the Israelites.  Those freshly saved from slavery people...who five steps into the desert are complaining and crying out about why God never helps them and WHY did he lead them into the desert to die anyway?! They gripe and complain like spoiled children.  It's not like they saw great miracles and awesome wonders performed by the creator of the universe...oh wait. 

The worst part is that we are all often just like them.  Turning our heads from a recent blessing only to complain about never getting anything we want. 

I don't want to be that way.  I want to do as so many in the Bible did and set up a pillar of stones to remember.  

Like in 1Samuel where it states: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."  

Or in Joshua 4:9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

To me this says: make a mark, write this down, make sure you don't forget.  And when people see your Ebenezer and ask about it tell them about all God has done for you.  

And yes, I am looking for an actual, physical Ebenezer to "set up and remind us that "Thus far the LORD has helped us".  I just don't know what that will be yet.  Any ideas?

So here's part one of the story.  

September of 2010-April 2011 

Homesickness hit us like a ton of bricks.  We always felt like we didn't belong here in Charlottesville but it just became very obvious and uncomfortable and painful to be away from home.  We know for a fact that God protected us from this level of homesickness for the most of the time we lived here.  For the first three years or so, it wasn't too bad.  We got through knowing that it was all for Doug's career and that his employers would keep up their end of the deal and that this place was just a stepping stone for bigger and better things.  

From September through December and on into February of 2011 Doug's bosses and bosses bosses talked to him about going to various places in Virgina.  A transfer was an exciting idea to us...a fresh change, a boost in Doug's career, new skills, etc.  Starting in September Doug's boss would say essentially "get ready to be ready to move because things will happen quickly".  Doug was pretty much promised a promotion/transfer (multiple times).  We got our house ready to sell, but we didn't put it on the market quite yet.  We barely made it through the holidays, we were so emotionally raw, holding our breath waiting for things to happen.  I don't remember the exact sequence of events but I do know that we went through a cycle like this "you will be moving here, actually we gave that position to someone else, hold on we have something better for you", repeat.  It happened at least 3-4 times where we were promised a position only to have it go to someone else.  Many times within 24-48 hours of a decision being made where Doug was promised a position it would be taken away.  It was a tough time for us.  Hopes would SOAR and then the bottom would drop out and we would soar into a free fall.  

I should say that Doug was GOOD at his job.  Excellent even.  And you don't have to take it from me.  You can look at the numbers (which have drastically fallen since he left), you can talk to his employees (many who cried and wrote heartfelt letters to him when he left) or you could just look at how well it's not being done since he left or how terribly it was done before he got there.  He was good at his job and he liked it a lot.  A large part of the problem was burnout.  His position (Logistics) was only supposed to be done for 18 months tops.  Doug was at almost 48 months in position when he left.  And no one seemed to care.  So THAT was why a transfer and new position seemed so appealing to him. 

Finally, it felt like things were going to work.  There was a position.  Doug could have it.  We just needed to take care of the house.  Good news!  One of Doug's coworkers, we'll call him McD was interested in buying a house in Charlottesville.  He came and saw our house, loved it and went to the bank to start the loan process.  A crazy miracle right?  We thought so.  Then McD draaaaaaggggggeeeedddd his feet more than anyone I have ever met in my life.  I know now that it was God slowing him down but more on that soon.  Doug needed to give his boss an answer.  Doug would ask McD how things were going, where were they in the process, etc.  More with the feet dragging.  Weeks later and much stalling on Doug's part, McD says that the bank won't lend to him until he has been in his position for six months.  Bummer but we were willing to work it out with him.  We talked about renting to him until August when he could buy.  More dragging of the feet.  Finally, Doug had to turn down the position because of the feet dragging.

Again, we were heartbroken.  Beyond heartbroken.  This was a broken heart on top of five other broken hearts in a 7-8 month period.  It was a dark, dark time for us.  All we could wonder was WHY didn't it all work out when it seemed so perfect? We knew that God had good plans for us but wasn't THIS a good plan?  I mean, the move wouldn't take us HOME but we would have taken anywhere but here.  We were settling for OK.  We were settling for the long way home.  We were devastated that God wanted to keep us in Charlottesville.  

So Doug turned down the offer.  And McD was fired from his job soon after.  

Did you catch that?  It all made sense.  The dragging feet, the never ending days, the stalling, the giving away of positions.  God was protecting us from a HUGE financial mess.  

Had Doug taken the offer and had McD agreed to rent and rented in a timely manner...we would have most likely been left high and dry.  We would be living in a new city paying rent, while trying (impossibly) to pay a mortgage as well.  We wouldn't have even been HOME.  Just elsewhere in a huge HUGE HUGE mess of our own making and alone.  God saved us from our own short sightedness.  God held out on giving us what we were begging for because it was for our own good AND He had something way better in mind.  

Standing where we are now, it takes my breath away to see all God has done and how it pales in comparison to what we wanted for ourselves.  

But more on that in part two.  

the schedule. to have or not to have. (a huggies sponsored post)

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

This week's topic is a hot one among parents: the schedule!

It seems to me that you either care about it a lot or it's no big deal to you. For me, I had two kids that required strict schedules--Moses especially so. If it was naptime or bedtime, Moses's head needed to be hitting the pillow, to the minute. Aaron was nice enough to give us a 15-minute window, but to this day he still needs us to stick to that window for naps. From the time they were tiny babies they NEEDED the structure of a schedule.

Also, because of my nature, I need a schedule to feel "not crazy." I'm so blessed that I was able to stay home with both boys, so our schedule was up to me for the most part. I could organize my entire life around my firstborn's needs for sleeping, feeding and pooping. Even when Aaron came along, we still did our best to keep to a regular schedule. As soon as we could, both boys were napping at the same time. This created a nice little bonus for my husband and me to catch up and have some alone time in the middle of the day (even with a NEWBORN!).

Having kids that need this kind of schedule DID require some sacrifice on our part. We missed a few events, were home by 6pm EVERY night of our lives and were homebodies for the most part for a few years. Honestly, though, I believe that this is the best possible formula for recovering from the traumatic event of adding another person to your life. We found that when we made OUR family the priority over everything else, life was better, calmer, less frantic and altogether much more peaceful and happy. Those first couple of months we definitely benefited from being able to determine our OWN schedule and follow it with limited disturbances from outside. We could follow the flow of our newborns and not have to "train" them to follow ours.

I realize that being homebound isn't for everyone, but for us, those years of tending to our own little nest above all other things provided a bounty of blessings we would have missed had we tried to continue on at a frantic pace. Sure, we made a few people mad because we wouldn't drop everything to be somewhere, but we had to consider who would pay the price for throwing a wrench in how we did things: we would. The small handful of times that we did break our rule, we paid for it. Doug and I could both tell you about the times we made that choice, and it ended up being just often enough to remind us why we like our scheduled, homebody lifestyle.

In reality, we are just getting to the stage where we are saying good-bye to our carefree homebound ways. Next year Moses will be in kindergarten and that will determine our new schedule. For now, though, we savor each day that we control the schedule and call the shots based on what is best for us in that moment. More than having tiny babies, that newborn smell or all those firsts, I will miss setting our own schedule most of all.
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before. during. after.

Happy Memorial day to you! 

As crazy as it sounds...this has been the best holiday ever.  Do you want to know why?  It's not because of what we did or where we went.  It was because this Memorial day was the FIRST holiday EVER for us as a couple where working retail was not part of our lives.  It feels SO great knowing that Doug has off EVERY weekend.  He get a ton of paid holidays that he HAS to take...no more begging for time off and being denied.  He gets a WEEK off for the 4th of July!  We are so thrilled to be leaving the world of retail faaaaaar behind us.  Though I will say, it should be a law somewhere that everyone has to work in retail and be a waiter/waitress at some point of their young lives.  You learn a lot about how to treat people in both worlds.

So, we didn't do much but for the first time ever we got to do all American holiday things ON the actual holiday.    
We had a cookout and I made Moses a hedgehog watermelon.
We went swimming at a local lake and the boys and I made the news!
And I knocked this project OUT!  I found this gem at Goodwill for $30.  It was ugly.  But I knew there was a good shell in there.  It is solid wood and HEAVY.   
Here she is cleaned, shined and with new handles.  We lived with her like this until spray painting season began here in Virginia.
Here she is in her undies! 3 cans of Valspar primer.
And here she is all dressed up!  3 cans of "Exotic Sea" by Valspar.  The knobs are from Lowes.
 Once the paint was dry, I gave all the edges a good sanding!
Look at all the pretty character...

I love it.  She sure will bring some nice color to our new rental...which is painted fully in builder beige. :)

I love Goodwill! :)

first and last day of school!

 Here's Moses on the first day of school this year!
And here he is on the last.  Sadly, I did not make it through the goodbyes to his teachers without crying.  They are just too good to part ways with easily and we will miss them dearly. 
And even though Hoho isn't really in school he did go to childcare for Bible study, so here he is at the beginning and end of that. :)

I can't even handle how fast time is going and how fast my boys are growing. 

Moses is in kindergarten next year.  Kindergarten.  Ugh.

I need to go stress eat.  Time is an unfair player. 
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