The Ugly Truth

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There are days when I find it difficult to do every day tasks, days when just getting out of bed feels like it will take too much effort. Thankfully I can’t succumb to that weight because I have a little people who rely on me. I spend the majority of the day with the tiniest human who lives in our house. He laughs with me, smiles at me, yells at me when I don’t pay him enough attention. He keeps me focused so that I don’t get sucked into the black hole that sometimes calls out to me. The older kids need me but not in the way that he does. They spend more of their day at school than they do here at home, they’ve reached a level of semi-independence. Thankfully though, none of them have pushed me away yet.

I know we will reach a point in our relationships with our children when we will no longer be fun and cool. We’ll end up being those embarrassing parents and the kids will cringe at the sight of us and nothing we do will be awesome anymore. I hate thinking about that. I like that right now they think we’re the coolest people they know. Our kids are as proud of us as we are of them. They’re not embarrassed when I show up at the school to pick them up at the end of the day in my sweat pants and no make up. They love me unconditionally and I’m so thankful for that. I don’t know if this is the case for other mothers out there but I know I speak for Siobhan and myself when I say that our children give my life purpose. They give me a reason to wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other.

I have to admit that sometimes I lack motivation. I haven’t figured out yet whether it is laziness or depression that inhibits my ability to do the things I love. For instance, I love blogging. Writing here is one of the things I look forward to about my day when the kids are at school and Cullen is napping. Lately though, I just can’t seem to bring myself to the desk and write. I feel that need, the want, the desire to do it but I just can’t focus. I can’t make anything creative, imaginative, humorous, or interesting come out of my brain. This week I’ve sat down in front of my computer about 8 dozen times and stared at the blank screen just trying to will something out of my brain.

It’s Friday at 4 pm and I’ve finally managed to type out a post. I struggle with whether or not I should be completely open and tell you all of the things I think and feel. I don’t want to focus on bad or negative things. I enjoy writing my funny posts about my crazy kids and I love sharing with you the craft projects I work on. More time than not though, I’m struggling with these feelings that I am sharing with you now. In between all those DIY projects and funny kid posts, I’m struggling to see the silver lining in life; struggling to make lemonade out of all these lemons I feel like I’m being handed. I know some of you are thinking, “think about how someone somewhere has it worse than you and then you won’t feel so bad” but honestly that isn’t the case.

I know that I don’t have a bad life. I know there are people out there with far worse problems than the menial things I go through but it doesn’t change the struggle and emotion I experience. What I do with it and how I rise above it is what matters. I think sharing it with someone, like I’m doing now, helps. I can’t hide from it or deny it if I share it openly and expose the ugly truth. So thank you for taking the time to read about the not so glamorous parts of me, hopefully someone out there will read this and realize they are not alone.

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Digital Artwork by Tantalizing Trends

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I know I’ve been absent from the blog for a while. I’ve done a lot of reading about successful blogging and one of the things they tell you to do is blog daily and for a while I was pretty good at doing that. I’m going to blame my absence on the holidays. We’re all still trying to get back into the routine of regular, every day life around here. Four of the kids were gone for about 10 days so adjusting to early morning wake up times, school, and homework is a process. I think after this week we should be fine. You’d think that with them being gone for that long I would have gotten a lot of blogging done but that’s not the case. I spent most of the last week or so planning and researching. I’m not quite ready to talk about the family goals Siobhan and I have set, when the time comes I will share those. After setting these goals we knew we needed to take action to make them happen. I saw something somewhere that read “a goal without action is just a dream.” I think that’s true. We’ve spent countless hours talking and planning so that we can work in the right direction and in doing so I realized that there were things I could be doing to contribute a little more.

Those of you who know me in “real” life probably know that in October I lost both of my jobs. I was working 2 telecommute jobs so that I could be home with the baby and within 2 weeks of being let go from one, I lost the second job as well. It has been a tough transition for our family of 7 but we’re managing. Part of the goals Siobhan and I have set for ourselves revolve around finances. We have plans to pay off all of our unnecessary monthly expenses within the next 6 months and accomplishing that will be a huge relief for us. In the mean time though, I’ve tried to get creative and come up with ways to bring in a little extra income while still being at home with Cullen.

2014 is bringing a lot of changes to our family and one of those is the face of our existing side business, Tantalizing Trends. We started Tantalizing Trends in 2011 as a children’s boutique but over time the traffic and sales fizzled. We didn’t have any business over the last year. I spent the week before New Year’s cleaning up our Etsy shop and Facebook page. I removed all of our old product and created new logo designs. I decided that 2014 is a new year bringing changes to our personal lives so why not bring change to our business. I began creating digital art to list in our Etsy store. I’ve invested countless hours over the course of the last week or so creating templates and designs. I’m pleased with the work I’ve got so far and I wanted to share it with you here.

There are several purchasing options available and the most popular is a digital download. I’ve formatted the artwork to be printed and when you decide to purchase a digital file, I’ll send a high resolution image and you can print it at home or the printing lab of your choice. Some people don’t want to worry about printing so I’ve given the option to have it printed for you. We offer 8×10, 11×14, 16×20, 20×30 posters, as well as canvas in various sizes. I’m really excited about the new products we’re offering and I’m enjoying the challenge it presents me. Creating unique designs from scratch requires me to flex my brain and challenges me to use parts of my brain that don’t get used on a daily basis. It’s good for me.

So anyway, here are some samples and I’ve linked the Etsy shop as well as the Facebook page here for you to check it out, hope you enjoy! These are just a few of the many new things uploaded into the shop and the fan page.

Personalized Birth Stat Chalkboard Sign

Personalized Birth Stat Chalkboard Sign 

Personalized Chalkboard Birthday Invitation

Personalized Chalkboard Birthday Invitation

Home State Outline - City Love

Home State Outline – City Love

Personalized "Our Life Together" Tree

Personalized “Our Life Together” Tree

Personalized Monogram Wall Art

Personalized Monogram Wall Art

Important Date Subway Art - Love Story

Important Date Subway Art – Love Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but with the holidays and all the chaos that surround Christmas and New Years, I hadn’t gotten around to doing it. Some time before school let out for the holiday break, I took Madison, our 2nd youngest child, to have an ultrasound of her stomach. This medical office was much like any other office. There were rows of chairs in the waiting room, a coffee and water station, a long check in counter, books and magazines to entertain the children, tv, and so on. After we got checked in, we had about a 15-20 minute wait as the technician hadn’t arrived yet so I told Madison to find herself a book to look at while we waited. She went over to the big basket of books and dug through it for a few seconds until she found one that she was interested in. It was a really cute pop up book, lots of fun to look at. I think pop up books were always my favorite as a kid. We read the whole thing together and once we were finished, we still had another 10 minute wait  so she went back to the basket to find another book. I wasn’t prepared for what she brought back…

You read that right folks...the story of farts.

You read that right folks…the story of farts.

I really wish I had taken a picture of her face because it was hilarious. I think she chose the book at first because it had an elephant on the cover but then when she started reading the title out loud to me, she realized what the book was about. Imagine her sitting next to me, pointing to each word as she reads it out loud and when she gets to the word “farts” she sounds it out and then pauses, mouth drops open, eyes get big, she looks up at me, and lets out the funniest giggle I’ve ever heard. Then she says, “Amanda! This book is about FARTS!!!” and she laughs again. It was hilarious and of course I’m laughing at her reaction but I’m also a little shocked and amused by the book myself. So now of course she’s eager to crack it open and see what its all about. She opens the front cover and this is the first page…

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts

Yep. When an elephant farts, the farts are really big, that’s to be expected right? Big animal, big butt, big fart…makes sense. Madison finds this page particularly amusing. Seriously wish you could see her face, I should have recorded her reading this book. As a parent, who doesn’t allow the kids to use the word fart because it sounds vulgar, I’m a little put off by the book. I’m amused by it but also a little concerned. I’m assuming the book is going to educate the kids on why you get gas but so far all we know is that elephants have really big farts. Then we turn the page….

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts

You guys. Do you see it? I mean, I see it. I saw it the second she turned the page. So did she. Thankfully she didn’t ask me to explain it, her reaction was “eww gross he’s naked!! And he tooted!!” Which in turn made me laugh but seriously, this children’s book about farting also has anatomically correct drawings!! In addition to the drawings, the author uses correct terms such as anus. Try explaining that one to a 6 year old. “Amanda, what’s anus?” Do you see me dying, curling up inside my coat in this doctor’s office? Thankfully we were the only people in the waiting room so there were no witnesses to this awkward story time.

Every time she read a page and prepared to turn to the next one, I cringed. I didn’t know what to expect! Thankfully we were saved by the ultrasound tech so I can’t tell you what happened next in the book. I can imagine though, that Madison went to school and had one very interesting conversation with her friends about her trip to the doctor’s office and the book she read while she was there. For those of you who are curious and want to learn more about farting, you can buy this book on Amazon.

DIY Family Birthday Board

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diyfamilybirthdayboard

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally post about some of the homemade gifts I did this year. I think my favorite is this DIY Family Birthday Board I made for my memaw. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that this was a simple project because it was not. It probably took me a total of 10 hours or more over the course of several days to complete. It was however, fairly inexpensive (about $12). You guys know I like to use what I’ve got on hand and spend as little as possible when it comes to purchasing supplies for projects. I challenge myself to not be wasteful and use what I’ve already got plus this way I don’t blow our family budget on craft projects.

I started with an unfinished piece of wood I got from Hobby Lobby. I painted it white and then hand wrote the lettering in black sharpie. I had to do a little measuring to be sure I had enough space for all 12 month abbreviations. It would have been easier to use stickers for this part but I didn’t have enough of the same style to make it work so I used the sharpie method instead. Once the paint and sharpie were dry, I measured out and marked the spaces for the eyelet screws. I just hand screwed these into the underside directly under the month abbreviation. I didn’t have any picture hanging brackets so I just used two larger hooks, screwed them into the top, and then added a ribbon to use for the hanger. I also made a decorative bow to fill in some of the blank space on the board.

Once that was finished, I started painting my wooden nickel circles. I wanted to include all of our immediate family so I wrote it out on paper first and grouped everyone by family. I included my memaw and pawpaw, all four of their children and spouses, all of the grandchildren and spouses, and all of the great grandchildren. After I had my list and each member grouped accordingly, I chose a color to represent each family and then I started painting the circles. My package of circles had 45 in it and I didn’t need that many for our family but I painted the left over circles white for future family members or anyone else Memaw might want to add to the board.

Once the circles were all dry, I used the drill and our smallest drill bit to put two holes in each circle. One hole at the top and one at the bottom. After I had drilled all the holes, I started writing the names and dates on each circle. I just used first names and then the number under the name represents the date of the birthday. For example, my circle reads Amanda 9 and is hung under the April abbreviation because I was born on the 9th of April. After all my circles were named and numbered, I added the jump rings. Essentially each circle gets two rings, one to connect it to either the month hook or an existing birth date circle. I also added jump rings to the bottom holes of all of the circles so that it would be easier for Memaw to add them on as connectors if she needed to add new people to the board.Once all my circles had rings, I connected them together and hung them off the appropriate month. We had two months that did not have birthdays so I just added blank ones to fill the space.

I am pleased with the way it turned out but it was definitely a lot of work, not a one day project for sure.

Close up of the date circles linked together

Close up of the date circles linked together

 

Close up of the eyelet hooks and the jump ring connectors.

Close up of the eyelet hooks and the jump ring connectors.

 

DIY Pin the Nose on Rudolph Game

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DIY Pin the Nose on RudolphLooking for a fun game for a class party? Look no further than this DIY Pin the Nose on Rudolph game. I can’t take the credit for this one, it was my friend Charity who made her game board first for her son’s kindergarten glass. However, when Madison’s room mother said she needed help finding a game for the class party, I volunteered to do this one since I knew I could get Charity to help me (and by “I volunteered” I mean that Siobhan volunteered me). This was a thrown together, last minute, rush idea and it really took me less than half an hour to get it finished. Good thing since the party is in 2 days!

You guys know I’m always looking for ways to avoid going to the store to buy supplies for my projects and this one was no different. We’re on a strict budget so I knew I’d have to make whatever I had on hand work. I did have to purchase the poster board. I only got a red one because that was the only color they had besides neon colors. I originally planned to buy a white one but I’m happy with the red one looks. I also purchased one sheet of brown foam and the large wiggly eyes. Grand total for this project was a whopping $2.18. All other supplies came from my craft closet!

Charity helped me out by printing the template for me since our printer has officially died. I cut out the Rudolph face and small antlers. I then traced them onto the brown foam. Once I had traced the face, ears, and antlers, I cut them out and hot glued them to my red poster board. I then glued on the wiggly eyes. I used one eye to trace the nose circle and then I colored it black with a sharpie. After my Rudolph was finished, I pulled out my foam letter stickers. I managed to have enough to create the “Pin the Nose on Rudolph” title at the top. I peeled the sticker back off and used some hot glue on each letter to make sure the letters stayed in place. Once that was finished, all I had left was to cut out the nose circles! I used my 1 inch circle punch to cut out each numbered circle. I placed each circle on a self-laminating sheet and then I trimmed it close to the edge but not too close so that it would stay stuck together. That’s all there is to it!

Laminated circle nose pieces

Laminated circle nose pieces

There are plenty of variations to this. If you’re super artistic, you could free hand your Rudolph and use paint or markers to color it in. You could do the same with the lettering or you could use a stencil. I always look for the easiest route and since my artistic abilities leave a little to be desired, using a template is always my best option!

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Picture Frame Ornament Christmas Wreath Alternative

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christmas wreath logo

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed I like wreaths. In fact, I’ve had three different wreaths on my front door in the three months that I’ve been blogging. What can I say? Our front door likes to accessorize. Technically the wreath I made for Christmas/New Year is really more of a wreath alternative created from an old picture frame and ornaments. As I’ve been blogging these craft projects, I’ve learned that I can be pretty resourceful. I never really thought of myself as having that ability, being able to create things with left over scraps but I’m realizing that I actually do that quite frequently.

This project is no different. I made this door hanger last year and I really like it, enough that I didn’t feel compelled to make a new one. Basically it started like any other project, I wanted to make something and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I think the only thing I actually bought for this project was the glitter snowflakes. I got those on sale at Walgreen’s. They happened to be the same colors as the extra ornaments we weren’t using for the tree. I hot glued my snowflakes around the picture frame, alternating the silver and blue. Then I tied silver ribbon to the three ornaments and two jingle bells. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted them to be so I just played with the length until I was happy with it. Once I decided how long they should be I cut the ribbon and hot glued it to the back side of the picture frame. To add extra security, I glued a wide piece of ribbon flat across the individual pieces on the back side. That’s it!

This was seriously one of the easiest projects I’ve ever done, it took no time at all and I am really pleased with the way it looks. It is a great alternative to a traditional pine or twig wreath.

DIY Glass Christmas Ornaments

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DIY Glass Christmas Ornaments

DIY Glass Christmas Ornaments

Every year we try to make a home made gift for the kids’ teachers and this year I made these DIY glass Christmas ornaments. We actually bought these ornaments last year to make as gifts and we never got around to it. This has been a pretty difficult holiday season for us, money is very tight so I knew that whatever I was going to make had to cost zero dollars. Not to mention the fact that we’ve been snowed/iced in since last Friday, I wasn’t trying to drag all 5 kids out in the weather for a trip to Wal-Mart.

Our four school aged kids all attend the same elementary school so I decided it would be fun to make each of their teachers an ornament that represented the school. The school’s mascot is an owl and the colors are green and gold. Owls are pretty popular and not incredibly difficult to draw/paint so I figured that even though my artistic skills aren’t that great, I could probably still pull it off.

I used acrylic paint and painted the owl directly onto the glass ornament. I got lucky that I had the colors I needed. Once I had the owl shapes painted on, I sealed the paint with acrylic sealer. I was worried that the sealer would made the ornament look cloudy but I think it turned out okay. I didn’t have much choice because if I hadn’t sealed it there would be a chance that the paint could chip or rub off and I wanted these to be long lasting. After I sealed the paint, I used E6000 and glued on some wiggly eyes and I think those really finish off the owls perfectly.

I wanted to include each teacher’s name and the year on the ornament but I’m not very good at painting words so I opted to write them with black sharpie. I had to go over it a few times to make it really dark but I am pleased with the way it turned out. I still felt like the ornament was a little plain. I had a few packages of feathers left over from my feather earring making days so I pulled those out and added some inside the ornament. I used plain white, speckled tan/white, green, and yellow. The feathers aren’t very noticeable at first but when you look at the ornament up close you can see them. I like how it subtly adds a little extra texture to the ornament.

After I finished with the inside and replaced the cap, I still felt like it was missing something. I had seen online that a lot of people add ribbon to the ornament hanger. I had originally purchased some owl themed ribbon so that I could make each of the girls a spirit bow to wear on Fridays so I used some of it for each of the ornaments. I then added a hanger to the ornament and called it finished. It took me pretty much all day to get them finished since I had to wait for each coat of paint to dry but I’m very pleased with the way they turned out and I hope the teachers will enjoy them.

 

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Inappropriate Artwork Drawn by My Two 6 Year Olds

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As parents, there are moments when our children make us feel so proud. We feel in awe of them, of their abilities, their sense of humor, or their intelligence. Then there are those moments in which they embarrass us and make us want to hide out until the apocalypse. That moment when they speak their mind or quote you word for word including the naughty four letter word they weren’t supposed to hear much less repeat. Sometimes we are even lucky enough to have those moments forever immortalized on paper for the world to see…

One of my favorite  things about going through the kids’ backpacks after school is finding their little treasures. There are always really interesting projects they’ve made in art class using strips of paper or random cut out shapes. Recently they came home with some really interesting water color paintings full of vibrant colors and shapes, they were awesome. I especially love when they are asked to illustrate stories.

For instance, last week, Madison came home with a book she made that was all about her. There were prompts inside and she had to complete the sentence and draw a picture that fit the prompt. I’m not sure how long ago she made this adorable little gem but unfortunately it didn’t quite survive the trip home in the backpack. In fact, her construction paper likeness lost a limb and apparently was very disgruntled by the fact that she was so carelessly shoved into a backpack and forced to travel in such horrible conditions. How do I know this? See for yourself…

madisons art

I assure you that this is exactly how the project looked when I removed it from the backpack…

That’s right folks. Madison’s art project was flippin the bird when I pulled her out of the backpack. Now, I’m not 100% sure that this gesture was directed toward me. If I had to guess I’d say Madison’s paper self was really more upset with Madison for dismembering her but either way, I found it a little amusing that the artwork sort of mimicked Madison’s “I don’t give a…” attitude. If ever a piece of art has accurately displayed the artist’s outlook and disposition, it’s this little paper Madison.

I couldn’t help but laugh when I pulled this project out and put it on the table. Kind of like that time Micah was asked to illustrate three rules; one for the class, one for the hallway, and one for the restroom. The first two rules were pretty straight forward, keep your hands to yourself in the classroom and walk in a straight line in the hallway. Each of these were illustrated with little stick figures. And then I turned the page to read the 3rd rule, the rule for the restroom…

The sentence reads, "Do not pee on nobody"

The sentence reads, “Do not pee on nobody”

When I saw this page, the first thing I noticed was the improper grammar he used, what does that say about me? It was a few seconds later that the drawing itself caught my attention. In case you weren’t sure about bathroom etiquette, it is not appropriate to pee on someone as illustrated by Micah, complete with stick figure penis and a stream of urine. It is however appropriate to illustrate this for your first grade class. Thankfully his teacher found humor in it and he didn’t get in trouble for drawing semi-anatomically correct people giving each other golden showers.

So we’ve got one paper doll with a bad attitude and a stick figure penis….this is fine art folks, worthy of hanging in the Louvre. I couldn’t be  more proud!

 

 

November: Month of Thanks Day 26

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Day 26:

thankful30Today I am thankful for the internet because without it, I wouldn’t be able to publish this post. Profound I know but what do you want from me? I’ve got a 4 month old who has an eye and ear infection. He doesn’t want to sleep or eat he only wants me to hold him while standing. If I even think about sitting down while holding him he starts crying so needless to say, I’m a little worn out and this is as good as it gets today.

November: Month of Thanks Day 25

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Day 25:

thankful28 Today I am thankful for headache medicine! I’ve been waking up with an awful headache for the past few days. The kind of headache that can be completely debilitating if you don’t get rid of it. Thankfully we keep a wealthy stock of Excedrin and Aleve. Take one of each and poof – headache be gone!

Today I’m especially glad to have the medicine because Cullen is sick and not feeling well so he’s been especially crabby which means he cries A LOT!! The sound of a baby whaling at the top of his lungs doesn’t help the headache, in case you are wondering, it makes it worse.