Posted in Uncategorized

Make a DIY Lego Block Piñata for Pennies!

My son’s birthday party was something I’d planned for a while…but true to my ADD ways, I procrastinated on some of the details.  Like completing his Lego brick piñata just minutes before guests arrived.  Well, lucky for me, AND you if you are wanting to make a fast yet impressive piñata for a Lego themed party, this project only takes about 20 minutes!  Put that paper maché paste down and don’t look back!

(You can watch the entire process in the video below to craft and chat with me about hosting parties or keep reading!)

The few inexpensive supplies you need are a box from your recycle bin (such as an Amazon box), six disposable cups, some crepe streamer paper and tissue paper in the color you want your piñata to be (snagged mine from the Dollar Tree), rubber bands, glue sticks and a hot glue gun.  My hot glue gun has the cool setting for things like foam, which I recommend using so your disposable cups won’t melt if they’re plastic and not paper like mine were.

1. Start by perforating the edges and tape seams of your box with a box cutter or knife so it will not be indestructible when kids are whacking at it, and add holes and a 12″ bit of string to make a handle (see photo).  If the kids at the party will be small and not especially powerful hitters, add a 3″ door to the bottom and a few pull strings, then secure using a glue stick and some doubled-up tissue paper.

piñata box with hanger

2. Fill with candy, confetti, and little toys and hot glue dot the flaps of your box closed.  Now you’re ready to make the click-on bumps of your lego-style brick! (Well, that’s what I’m calling them anyhow!)

3. While your hot glue gun is heating up, take your disposable cups, carefully pinch in the side of the cups to cut a slit horizontally about 3/4″ from the top rim. Continue to cut around the cup and recycle the bottom cup part, keeping the top rim for the click-shape.

4. Then cut a piece of tissue paper into 4″ wide rectangles, double up your tissue paper and cover the cup rim as if making a drum top, and secure with a rubber band.


5. As soon as your glue gun is ready, eyeball where your 6 click-bumps will go.  (4 for square or 8 if you have a longer rectangle box), and carefully glue around the rim. Press the little “drum” down in the first spot, being careful not to touch the hot glue! Repeat until all are secured.

Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 7.16.57 PM
Repeat until desired amount of uh…click-on bumps have been secured.

6. Now grab the crepe paper streamer and some glue sticks and start to mummify…er, wrap every last inch of that gonna-be-awesome piñata box!

That’s it!  Since you’ve used hot glue and glue sticks, this will dry very quickly.  My son’s party guests arrived just as I tidied up the remaining paper supplies, and I felt like a maven when my son “Ooo”ed and “Ahhh”ed over his piñata.  Comment if you you’ve made a piñata without using paper mache or feel free to leave any other comments!

Screen Shot 2019-10-05 at 6.10.37 AM
Make this in under 20 minutes!
Posted in autism spectrum disorder, Day in the life of a mom, Kids Activity Ideas, Mental Health, Uncategorized

Since Pursuing a Spectrum Diagnosis

Back In April, I posted about trying to get help for my young son whose spectrum-type behaviors, as well as SPD, some OCD, and anxiety issues were really making daily life exhausting not only for him but for our family. I was quite discouraged after hearing that the wait list for a leading autism resource center was almost a year out, and I knew we needed help before then.  Let down but not about to give up, I finally got ahold of a mental healthcare professional who could diagnose him.

We’ve had 5 months with Dr. B, whom we call our son’s “thought doctor” (and I have told him I have one who helps me, too.  Counseling is good for everybody!).  I knew it was a good fit when my son did not “stink face” him and warmed up immediately…not his usual reaction to new people.  He does connect with safe-feeling adults when he feels comfortable since he finds they listen better than kids to his topics of interest.  To him, “safe” people are generally the quiet ones that don’t approach him too quickly or demand a hug or response, etc. (Or ones with “cool hair” like our pastor, who got invited by my son to his 7th birthday party.)

Later on, the compatibility with the psychologist was confirmed when my son didn’t feel like talking and made his usual chicken “buckaw” sound or other nonsense (it’s called echolalia, basically a stimming behavior) and Dr. B was unfazed and even responded to my son’s question or two the same way in a friendly, bonding manner.  My son really feels accepted by him and is open to what he has to say.

Dr. B wrote up a paper for his school this year and it has been helpful for his teacher to understand him.  It explains why he reacts the way he does, making mention of his generalized anxiety disorder as well as a provisional spectrum diagnosis.  My son is really intelligent and for the most part blends in well, but he is quite inflexible. When he hits an emotional road bump, his strong, usually negative emotional responses would not go over well in a strict private school.

So I am thankful for the diagnosis; I don’t have to worry he’ll be misunderstood and labeled a bad kid, and he has the option to go to an area with a trampoline to self-regulate again.  (So far our only struggles have been getting him to school due to anxiety, clothing issues, etc., but not at school.)

What Counseling Appointments are Like
My son usually goes to appointments wearing some costume or other; He’s worn his police uniform and hat, army helmet and camo, and batman costume among others.  I figure while he’s young enough, why not if it makes him more open to learning new coping skills.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 6.50.53 AM
Since he was little, hats of some sort have made him feel more comfortable. (I wonder if it’s because it provides the feeling of an extra barrier between him and the world that barrages his senses).  Once when he was two or three my husband and I were sitting in church as the little ones were invited to the front for a kids’ time, and we noticed the bright red fire helmet he had on and looked at each other like, “You didn’t have him leave it at home?”  (Survival mode makes life a blur like that, and only when you can sit for a breather do things come into focus.  Then, I thought hats were more of a phase.)

In their time together (and usually I’m there with them, and my daughter as well) they goof off with toys Dr. B has in the office and chit chat about whatever my son wants.  Then, Dr. B discusses struggles of the week that I wrote on a note, so my son doesn’t shut down if he hears me talking about it.  (He struggles in particular with “big emotions”, knowing how to process them without wanting to run away to hide).  It’s usually broached like, “Hey, so was anything hard for you this week?”  And they go from there.  Lots of talk about flexibility, which has been helpful.

Since meeting often, I can tell a big cloud has lifted from over my son.  I think it’s because it’s not just me telling my son he’s alright and that mistakes are ok.  (He has felt his “brain doesn’t work right” because of different struggles, and has really low self esteem, with has perfectionism tendencies).  Dr. B tells us he sees lots of kids who worry a lot or struggle with behavior, etc., and little by little I can see my son relaxing and feeling more confident.

While we have lots more issues to work on, for me as his mom, having weekly or biweekly appointments also helps me to relax when I feel like things are so dysfunctional in our home.  It’s hard to watch a movie as a family without him getting upset (angry, disruptive behavior and running away) when he doesn’t know what to expect, or anticipates something bad happening, or can’t deal with the emotion he sees the characters displaying.

With his misophonia and a sister who is VERY loud and sensory seeking, there is lots of fighting and it can drive me nuts.  However, Dr. B has reassured me that he thinks I’m way ahead of some because I’ve done some much reading up and implementing of strategies to help him, and my son is still very young.

So right now, the plan of action is stress reduction and management for everybody (which will reduce the anxiety and intensity of reactionary responses).  And also I need to talk with insurance about OT for his sensory issues.  So yeah, if your child is a “spirited” child who has anxiety, SPD/OCD or is possibly on the spectrum, please do not despair and find someone who can help you both on your journey so you do not feel overwhelmed and alone. Your child is worth whatever the cost to be in a confident mental space, and as a parent and you need that, too! It is increasing the peace in our home, and I pray the same for you.

 

 

Posted in Mental Health, minimalism, Uncategorized

Reading, Decluttering, and Craft Rooms make me Happy…Eve Schaub Combines them All!

Did you pick up Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, only to toss it on your pile of stuff and think “That Konmarie method’s not for me”? Don’t let life and your mess overwhelm you.  Chill out, read THIS book instead, and get motivated because you’re not alone!

You’re not the only messy missy out there, and we can conquer our clutter together!  I get it! If you’re a “saver” (or admitted borderline hoarder, possibly) like me and Eve Schaub, the author of one of my favorite books which I highlight in this video, it can be an uphill battle…because we have LOTS of stuff. (Ok, maybe our hill is a MOUNTAIN of stuff!) Feel the camaraderie–savers unite! Let’s fight the battle of the bulging closed-door room!

You can find this awesome book , Year of No Clutter—a Memoir by Eve Schaub
at (*affiliate links to follow–see disclosure below) https://amzn.to/31eQZai .

Nothing can stop us now!  And maybe one day we’ll consider minimalism…

* Disclosure: My site contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission that will help support this channel if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I share the links though for your ease and to offer resources that I personally found beneficial in my life and goals, and would love for you to have a similar positive experience with them.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Mental Health, minimalism, Uncategorized

How Minimalism Helped my Mind

Overwhelmed.  Distracted.  Discontent with status quo. Disgusted with myself and my inability to get organized. All that is how I felt a few years ago in the depth of my anxiety and discouragement with where my life was.  It just couldn’t stay that way.  I couldn’t stay that way.

I contemplated getting a professional organizer.  That would hurt the budget bigtime.  So I decided to start thinking like an organizer.  I started watching Lori Marrero videos on youtube.  Then I discovered Clutterbug, Clutter Fairy, and A Slob Comes Clean.  (That last one made me go, Nony the Slob is SO ME!).  I realized you can’t keep organizing if your space is too small for your stuff.

Enter Minimalism.  I dove in, and this was the last holdout: my craft room.  The room I’d close the door to when guests came over.  The room for a good portion of the time I couldn’t even walk in.  The dumping ground for completed project supplies and the graveyard for creative dreams I couldn’t achieve because I cringed at the idea of going in there.

My craft room was the place first place that made me want to get organized and declutter, and yet it was the last place I conquered in my home because I felt SO OVERWHELMED by it!

Check out my journey and how Minimalism helped this momma’s mind!

Posted in Featured Inspiration, Mental Health, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized

Summer Break: Parents, Don’t let it Break You!

Parents, need ideas to keep kiddos occupied so you don’t go insane…without micromanaging their every move this summer?  AND without them being glued to screens?  I’ll be honest…I was kind of dreading summer, until I remembered I’m in charge of the way things go, and if I determine to plan a fun summer, I’ll most likely get it!  Our family vacation will provide a change of scenery (and checking out dinosaur bones!) but after that, I know I will come back to our everyday reality, and when I do, I’m prepared!  I’ll share what we’re up to as we go along!

The key isn’t to smash a billion activities into the weeks during summer.  That will add stress (to mom, especially), even if you are keeping everybody occupied.  The solution is providing opportunities for self-led play, discovery, and creativity.  And I feel really lucky that my daughter received an ideal birthday gift for montessori-type fun just in time for summer!

This kinetic sand gets my vote for most amount of active playtime in one sitting!  So far, they’ve been playing with it more than any other toy or activity opportunity in our house.  This week since we’ve been back from our trip to Ohio over Memorial day (when we weathered a tornado), it’s been out by my kids’ own volition three days in a row, over an hour each day at a time, and for several hours yesterday morning! And it’s already been out this morning again!

My kids are 5 an 6, but I think it would be a hit for younger and older kids as well! I even like playing with it because it doesn’t leave a weird feeling on my hands like play dough can. 

It’s easy to sweep up if some falls on the floor (but if I’d thought to have them use a rimmed tray that wouldn’t have happened), no drying and gunking things up!  (In fact, another part of occupying themselves has been customizing it with glitter…and you know how glitter gets everywhere…and setting them loose with a cordless hand vac like this one:

Which of course with a lot of praise about their skill and thoroughness makes for a proud, happy kiddo…and mom.)  Check out the full kinetic sand assortment on Amazon if you want to see the different varieties…dino digs, sand castles, Paw Patrol, etc.!)

#Summerbreak #summeractivity #notbored

(*For your convenience, I’ve used affiliate links to the products on Amazon. Saves you time finding the product I’ve talked about, no extra cost if you purchase the item, and helps support me in creating more content!  Thanks so much!)

Posted in Uncategorized

My Biggest Goal yet…a goal within a goal..

I just posted about committing to paint more and doing a portrait for my friend, and here’s the video of the process below.  It was actually my biggest goal yet since starting my productivity journal.  But it got even bigger when I decided to document the process and make a youtube video about it.

The editing process was a BEAST! I lost four hours of editing on Shutcut due to a corrupt file.  I like to stick with something when I learn how to use it…but man…I think I’m going to switch to something else after Shotcut did a LOT of malfunctioning on me, quitting and kicking me out of the program a lot.  Phew.  May have even been more agonizing to me than labor.  But, I hope people enjoy the video and are inspired to set their own creative goals!

Posted in Uncategorized

Got Creative Goals? Why they’re Worth Pursuing in my life:

Have you thought of yourself as a creative person yet realized that you feel like you have too much to do to take the time to be creative?  That has been me.  I keep my calendar pretty simplistic to keep stress low. (In my opinion, that’s a MUST when you have either a chronic health challenge [for me currently it’s the hormone and digestion/food intolerances issues mainly] or a high-support-needs child or two).  Navigating life’s challenges while trying to stay sane AND keep the house from becoming a complete disaster while also maintaining some semblance of a social life left me feeling like my schedule was pretty crowded.  So I’d say I didn’t have time for anything else.  I believed that, too.

And the truth is, I DON’T have time for things that cause more stress and drain me. I’m in a season where I do not volunteer much unless it doesn’t stress me out, because I can love my family and others better when I’m not a cranky ball of angst. I also recently stopped attending a moms’ group that has been so meaningful to me EVEN THOUGH I love it!  Why? I need to give my “best yes,” and right now there isn’t enough capacity in me to attend that and also build the relationships I’ve been feeling led to grow more in my community.  

Yet I realized something.  You know the crazy thing about productive, resilient, remarkable people?  They don’t have any more hours in the day than you or I yet somehow they MAKE time for exceptional activities.  So I thought, Well, I want to be resilient and not settle for merely surviving!  I need to make time for things that energize me, give me a zest for life, which in turn helps me be a better version of myself for the world!

I value art and consider myself a creative person, yet that was one area I had let go to the wayside.  I’m not sure how to express it, but doing art (or a garden, etc.) awakens something in a person, at least in me, that invigorates the soul.  I wanted more of that along my journey out of survival mode.

In learning about goal-setting and knowing the fact that 40% more of our goals are accomplished when we write them down, I committed to doing more artwork.  My friend was the catalyst for action when she saw one of my smaller pieces of art I did 10 years ago and challenged me to do more.  I’ve done maybe one painting a year to give as a gift the past 10 years, if that.  So when she said, “Will you do one for me?” I felt like that was confirmation and the reason to get to it!

As an aside, realistically, artists cannot do art upon request to give to people for free very often, if at all in some cases (especially if that is their livelihood).  Not to be too woo-woo, but artists put some of their heart into every piece of art.  I personally have to consider the pull on my time taking me away from more focused attention on my family, or say, re-organizing that disaster of a basement, if I’m doing art for someone else.  But her genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for something that was already stirring in my heart before she even spoke it just made me want to say yes, kind of as a thank-you for being the impetus.  

Saying a goal out loud to another person and putting a time frame on it helps light your fire.  Also, doing my Youtube channel with the idea of living creatively and intentionally also was something that motivated me.  If I’m hoping to share my love for intentionality and creativity to encourage others to be creative…well, I kind of have to be actively and intentionally creative.

Doing the painting was not only an exercise in goal-setting, reigniting a passion, and connecting with my friend, it was also just about being.  What do I mean? I had to stop all the commotion of my life and just be in order to do that, to be still with paint and a paintbrush and a blank canvas. I had to be an artist who knew what her subject was.

So I did a portrait of my friend and her two cultures.  I wanted to capture what matters to her and who she is as a person–someone with a big heart. The world is better and more beautiful with her and her perspective, which is the sentiment behind my painting.  The validation of that,  the whole process of goal-setting and creating art, and growing along the way makes it worthwhile to me.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A Portal to Discovery

I moved a lot growing up (and since getting married for my husband’s job) and there were two places we’d check out first to get settled into a new location.  First, as people of faith, we’d find a church which would be our surrogate family in our new location.  This last time almost three years ago, I was really struggling with hormone issues I didn’t know about and it felt like chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.  The playgroup and moms’ group at the church down the road was a place of acceptance and care where I could recharge and connect with other moms a while with my kids under the care of some grandmotherly-type volunteers.

The second place we’d find was a library.  I believe libraries, too, are key for a healthy community.  It’s a place where you do not have to have anything to offer, and yet be given so much.  There you can find tools for life, productivity, and your interests in the self-help section, or just some fun entertainment or serious research. I used to joke that I need a wheelbarrow for every library trip…but now I just got one of these carts and let the book-grabbing spree begin!  What most people don’t know is that the library is a richly experiential place too, with clubs, classes, and opportunities for even things like 3D printing or fishing!

When I was a kid, I used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey, a radio broadcast where fictional characters would learn life lessons by climbing into something called the Imagination Station and traveling somewhere, maybe back in time to a historic event, and seeing for themselves.  To me that’s what the library is as well.  A portal to discovery, awakening the imagination and possibilities.
(By the way, several of my friends work at libraries, and they’re some of the coolest people around because they are passionate about discovery, too!)

I made the following video to share my excitement for our real-life imagination station.  In my opinion, it is the best trick in the bag for moms.  Rainy day?  Whiney kids? Need a change of scenery?  Trying to save money but have the urge to shop? Trying to be a minimalist but want all the books and things?  The library is the solution! Give your kids an experience, and give them the keys to their own entertainment instead of trying so hard to entertain them yourself!  Get them to love books and learning so they can be equipped to cure their own boredom.  And that can start even before they can read!  Picture books are a wonderful imagination-prompter.

You may be surprised what is waiting at your local library!

Posted in Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, Uncategorized

Gluten-free Sugar-Free Blueberry Crumble Recipe

This is a no-fuss treat that both non-GF friends and GF folks all can enjoy together, and it’s great both warm or cold, as dessert or breakfast!  I tend to serve this when we have company, since it’s quick and no-fail and makes the house smell great! (I use Wyman’s of Maine frozen wild blueberries, since Ibotta has an offer for a few dollars back on up to 5 bags sometimes, which I deep freeze.  This recipe takes about 1/2 bag.)

Prep time 10 minutes, bake time 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serves 8.screen shot 2019-01-19 at 7.38.23 pm

  1.  Pour blueberries into the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole dish filling it about 1 inch deep (about 1.5 lb/half the bag of Wyman’s frozen blueberries).
  2. Stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional) or 1 tsp zest.
  3. Mix in 3 Tbsp maple syrup (optional).
  4. Stir 1/4 cup brown rice flour into the berry mix (or other GF, but I like the brown rice flour to give it a sugary texture).
  5. For the crumble topping, mix two cups of old fashioned oats with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon and another 1/4 cup brown rice flour.
  6. Melt 1/3 cup coconut oil in a pyrex bowl, and stir into oats.
  7. Mix in 3 TBSP maple syrup.
  8. Spread oat topping evenly, and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers if you have any.  The coconut oil makes it retain its crunchy topping texture–my favorite part!

 

 

Posted in DIY, Gluten Free, recipe, saving money, Uncategorized

Recipe for DIY Corn-Free Baking Powder

If you have intolerances or food allergies, you know it can get tiring trying to read all the ingredients and look for “safe” consumable goods!  When I started my hormone recovery journey, I went gluten-free and soy-free.  That was a lot of effort, and I guess I was well-prepared for eliminating an even longer list.  When I had some IGG blood testing to find out what else my body couldn’t handle, though, I was in disbelief.  Actually, I laughed when the lady read me the results because the first thing she said was chocolate.  Are you kidding me? *Sigh.* My morning treat had been frothy hot chocolate (cacao, maple syrup or honey, and milk).

Then there was dairy. (Oh cheese, how I miss you.) And yeast. (Well…I guess no GF pizza for me at MOD anymore…but what’s pizza without cheese anyhow?).  Coffee (well, I’d already ditched that a few years ago, though occasionally I would swipe a sample at Trader Joe’s).  Eggs (I’d been having one each morning with salad.  Ugh).  Peanuts. Tomatoes. Some other stuff I probably have forgotten and need to look up.  And corn.  Which is in a rather lot of gluten-free things–have you noticed? So my already limited fare got even more narrow of a selection.  (On the bright side, my symptoms of chronic tiredness and achiness in the morning have improved! So I guess it’s all worth it.)

While I generally read food labels for ingredients, as someone who is constantly baking, I actually had never noticed that BAKING POWDER contained corn! I would never have thought to check because I just sort of figured it was its own ingredient, like baking soda.

Thankfully, a friend mentioned her nephews have corn allergy and can’t even having baking powder in things.  Enlightened, I was on a hunt for corn-free baking powder.  Almost impossible to find and very expensive, I decided to make my own replacement to refill my old baking powder container using 2 TBSP baking soda plus 1/4 cup cream of tartar (while cream of tartar usually comes in tiny spice containers, I bought mine in a big bulk container because it’s handy for cleaning powder as well).  It works!  I do smash each teaspoon it in my palm before adding it to recipes because it can clump a bit.  (FYI, If you are not corn free and do not have cream of tartar, you can still make your own baking powder if you need some in a pinch with the same ratio of baking soda to corn starch.)