Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why I Decided to Red-Shirt My Child


Yesterday I did my first ever shop for school supplies. Be still my heart. Cry. My Big Princess turned 6 in June and is starting kindergarten. Yup, you read right, six and starting kindergarten. Something I didn't write about last year was my struggle over whether to send her to school or not. You see in our state you can start your child at 5 or 6.

Let me tell you I agonized over this decision. One day I was sending her, the next day not. This went on for months. I drove the husband nuts. I read blogs and early childhood research papers. I talked to her pediatrician. I talked to other mums. I talked to kindergarten teachers. I talked to the lady at the checkout at Walmart (seriously). Everyone had a different opinion. Everyone for the most part supported their opinion intelligently. I evaluated the pros and cons and at the end of the day I decided to not send her and have her home for one more year. Once we made this decision I then very carefully in my head began to rehearse the rational behind my decision. It involved statistics, case studies, a well rehearsed speech on the direction education has taken over recent years. I was ready to justify why I was not going to send my child to school that year. But then I realized, no discussion was necessary and not because people don't expect a reason behind the decision but because we don't owe one to anyone.

How often do we feel like we need to give the rational behind a certain decision. Why we co-sleep (or don't). Why we bottle feed (or don't). Why we rear-face our kid until they're like 12 (ok so maybe not that old). Now I believe in sharing information with one another for the sake of education if the other person is interested but not for the sake of explaining ourselves to others.

Here is my response to when someone asked if Ava was starting kindergarten last year:

"We are keeping her home this year."

Full-stop. Period. Shut up. Now.

And you know what, I never had one person ask me "why". Turns out that when you act like you owe an explanation to no one, no one expects an explanation.

So next time someone asks you if you're doing something...

"Are you breastfeeding?" 
"Are you sending her to pre-school?"
"Are you really going to let her eat that?"

Here are your answers...
"Yes (or no)."
"Yes (or no)."
"Yes."

Then put your hand over your mouth and don't let the justification slip out. Resist the urge to Google a blog that supports your answer and post it on your Facebook (I'm talking to myself here -PassiveAggressiveBook). Instead just sit and be content and confident in the fact that you are making the best decision for your child with the knowledge you have. And that, that makes you an awesome mum.

-C

PS: If you're struggling with whether or not to send you kid to school at 5 or wait and really want to know why I made the decision not to send her, shoot me a message at onelittlekiwi@yahoo.com.

PPS: FWIW, she is super stoked about starting kindergarten this year. August cannot get here soon enough!

Friday, July 18, 2014

DIY Double Loft Beds With Slide Yo!



Soooo, you might have missed me lately (I flatter myself!). But people, I've been busy (and a tad lazy) and my computer broke (cry) and it's summer time and mostly, I've been nutty busy. Did I mention I have nine people living in my house? My sister and her family are here for the summer (3 months...not that anyone is counting). One day you will read an entirely fictional blog post about when an anonymous friend of mine had some house guests for the summer winter and you will read about the hilarity that ensued. That post will have nothing to do with my visit with my sister and her family. Nothing. ;) 

But just because I have been quiet on blog-land doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything. Oh let me tell you all. Me. This girl, she made furniture. And not just furniture like a pallet table. Pallet tables..pshaw...those are for amateurs! This girl, she made this yo!


And let me tell you, I will never, ever do something like this again (we all know the truth). Sorry, but if my children ever grow up and tell me that I never do anything for them, I will point to this picture and I will always win. Boom.

You want to make one? Seriously? Do you know how much work this will take? Do you know how much money you will spend on pizza for dinner? Do you know that you might kill your husband and give yourself a concussion while you assemble it? You're good with that? Crazy people...

Ok, so here's a brief outline on how I did it. First, measure your room. Use a tape measure but if you can't find yours you can measure your room by walking heel to toe from one end to another, then measure your shoe and multiply. Don't ask me how I know this. (Side note: When we were putting it together with everything cut and painted the husband asked me if I had measured it and I advised him of my method. I thought he was going to have a stroke. But, the thing fits perfectly. There is absolutely no wiggle room. It's not attached to the wall but it's not moving. Ever. It's that tight. Yup, I am really awesome lucky).

My room was too short to fit two beds and a slide so I had to shorten the beds. I could have just done two beds end to end and no slide but where's the fun in that? So both beds are around 68" long. A typical twin mattress is about 75". I figure they'll be short for a long time so losing the inches would be fine. 

I won't go into a full tutorial on how I did it. I used this blog as my primary guide. Theirs looks prettier than mine. Their room is more staged than mine but I'll get there (probably not). Their instructions on making it are fabulous. Really, if you want to make one stop reading my post and go read theirs. 

For our beds we made two "boxes." (Hello husband!) My husband and I worked on this project together. We almost killed each other.


Then we painted everything before we assembled it. (Child labor)


Next we simply lifted those plywood topped box frames onto four legs...


Actually, this is the part where we almost killed the husband. Husband had hurt his sternum playing basketball earlier in the week so was already in some pain. . Our plan was to put the four legs into the right position and then we would simply lift the box up and place it on the legs. Did I mention the box is really, really heavy? So I managed to hoist my end up and onto the legs but the husband due to his injury couldn't get his end up so I moved to help him but as I did he twisted his end making my end turn and fall (this with me underneath screaming). I push the box away from me. It crashed to the floor and my husband fell on top of it. Fun, fun times. 

So, carefully lift your box onto the legs (bring in reinforcements if you can) and secure the legs with lots and lots of lag bolts. Lots. Then change your mind about how high it is and insist that you take off one legs at a time and cut them shorter. Watch husband stroke out again for the second time. 

Once your boxes are up on both sides, add the railing. My measurements for these are almost identical to the ones on the blog I referenced. 

For the slide platform I simply used 3 2x4s bolted between each bed and screwed down a pieces of plywood on top. Screw the slide into the platform.

Speaking of the slide. This slide does not come in pink. I spray painted it. It was tedious but not hard. So far the finish has held up in most places. There are a few scrapes because someone big might have done a test run before she let her children use it and that someone might have had buttons on her pockets that scraped the paint. Opps. No, there are no pictures of me sliding down the slide. I got the slide for $30 off our local "buy,sell,trade" Facebook page. 


Honestly, I'm super proud of this little project (though if you ask me I will moan and complain about it). And really, if you have littles you should totally do this. It gives you some serious mom-cred. Yes, for the first few nights (ok so maybe a week) you will find little things randomly sliding down the slide on their own after bedtime (stuffed animals can walk apparently) and in the morning you will wake to the sounds of little bottoms going swoosh and giggles. But that's part of the fun. So yeah, do it. You might say bad words while doing it but it really is a fun project.

Future plans:
- Remove crib. Crib was left as a threat incentive in case a certain 3 year old decided to play on the slide all night. It really needs to go now.
- Make a special area for each kid under each bed. Bean bags. Book shelves. Place for special things.
- Hang curtains. I want to hang a curtain that can be drawn across each side for privacy (and to hide mess)

-C

PS: Did I miss something? Hit me with your questions!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Frozen Inspired Easter Dresses



Frozen. Oy. Just seeing the word makes my hair stand on end. And the songs. Oh the songs. I know, I know, I should just "Let It Go." But seriously, when you have everyone in your household quoting the lyrics multiple times a day it might just make me all kinds of stabby. Even the simple act of making lunch can cause a 5 year old to walk up to you and say, "I think it's crazy." To which I innocently respond, "What?" And she replies, "We finish each others sandwiches!" Cue 2 year old..."That's what I was gonna say!" I cannot make this stuff up people.

Fun story. So when we had to rescue the van from Bledsoe (read about that here) I called "dibs" on driving the van home. Alone. We left the other car seats back at home (kinda accidentally on purpose if I'm honest) so both kids had to ride in one car. And yes, I did really call "dibs" and yes, we are 10 years old. So the husband had to drive home with both kids alone. And because I'm evil...I snuck the Frozen soundtrack into the CD player for their ride home. Bwahahahahaha! (That's my evil laugh...)

So yeah, Frozen, love it and hate it all at the same time. But on to what this post is really all about. Dresses. If you know me you know I make all the princesses costumes. Costumes get more wear in our house than clothes do (actually, you would think we don't have clothes with the amount of time the small people spend naked. Am I the only one with this issue?) so I like our costumes to be pretty well constructed so they don't look ratty after the first wear. Last year it was Belle, the year before was Rapunzel and Pascal and we've also done Ariel. Every time I make one I moan and complain and say that next year I am just going to buy it. But I never do because secretly, I really enjoy making them. This year I stumbled across The Little Dress Up Shop. Both Princesses had asked for Frozen dresses for their birthdays and The Little Dress Up Shop had these:

They had a pre-order special so I paid $25 per dress. I cannot make these dresses for $25 (I like nice fabrics if I'm making them myself). So I ordered the princesses' first costumes. Please don't think less of me. ;)

But..Easter rolled around and we started talking Easter Dresses. And of course, Frozen came up. Of course. I was begged, bribed, threatened until finally I relented and decided to see if I could come up with something "Frozen Inspired". And here's what we came up with:


These dresses I made by making some minor changes to THIS pattern. Really the only changes I made were to the skirt and I just did the basic underskirt without all the ruffles on top (if you get the pattern you'll know what I mean). It's a really easy pattern to use and follow and I can see myself making it many more times for different occasions. The fit is so nice from the length to the shirred bodice. It really s a pattern you want to have on hand for your basic dress. And don't be scared of shirring. It's a piece of cake once you get the hang of it.



For "Elsa's Dress" I used some clearance fabric I found at Hobby Lobby. It was $3 a yard. For the snowflake I just Googled "snowflake" and picked one I liked. I then ironed a piece of Fuse N Bond to the back of a piece of felt and traced around the snowflake. Then I cut it out and ironed it to the dress. Easy! The hardest part was deciding where to put it!



Near impossible to photograph this child! She was trying to make snow!
 For "Anna's Dress" I just used the plain quilting cottons from Hobby Lobby. I love that I can just throw them in the washer and dryer and they come out perfect, ready to be worn 3 or 4 more days in a row! The design on the front I just kinda winged from a picture I found online. Same process as with the snowflake. Felt and Fuse N Bond. Be creative, it will be close enough.
Don't tell but I think this is my favorite dress ever made to date!

 

She insisted on the boots Anna wears boots.


So in the end I probably didn't need to buy Frozen costumes but oh well, one can never have too many Frozen dresses I guess...

-C

PS: Total cost per dress was less than $10. Woot! Can't beat that!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bledsoe - The Friendliest Town in Kentucky!




Bledsoe, Kentucky. If you can tell me where Bledsoe, Ky is you win a prize (and no, you cannot Google it first!). This is what Wikipedia has to say about Bledsoe, Ky.

Bledsoe is an unincorporated community in Harlan CountyKentuckyUnited States. The Bledsoe post office was in service from 1900 to 1918.
Yup, that's it. I tried to find the population of Bledsoe, Ky and the land size of the town (not sure you can even call it that) and it's not on the internet which when you really think about it is a bit shocking. I mean everything is on the internet. Seriously. I won't even go there.

Today we spent 6 hours in Bledsoe, Ky. Six long hours. Do you want to know how one spends six hours in a town no bigger than the size of your thumb? You break down. In the nine years my husband and I have been together, this is the first time we have ever broken down. Strong.

10:20am - We were on our way to the funeral of a dear, sweet old lady from our church. The road out to Harlan, Ky was long and winding (just like the song...). About 30 minutes from our destination the steering loses power. Not good. Especially bad due to the whole long and winding thing. So we pull over out the front of a little white house on the side of the road. My husband pops the hood. I'm pretty sure he popped it because that's what he's seen on TV (hunny, I love you but you know you're no mechanic). The gentleman who lives there comes and asks if we need help. We explain our predicament. He gives us the number of the mechanic. The only mechanic for miles is about 2 miles away (coincidence? I think not!). We thank him and the husband decides to start the van up and try again. Half a mile later - no power. Bad. Long and winding. We pull over again and call the mechanic. He has us call the tow truck. We wait. Everyone needs to pee, of course. Tow truck arrives. Decision, leave kids in car seats in the van while being towed (= dangerous) or climb into the truck and sit the kids on my lap while we drive to the mechanic (= eeeek!). I won't tell you what we opted for but I will tell you that you can fit 3 adults and two children into the front of a tow truck and it makes it a whole lot easier of one of those adults sits on the cooler between the seat. Just sayin'.

11am - We arrive at the mechanic and nobody (child or adult) has wet their pants. Miracle. We ask to use the bathroom. The mechanic warns us that it's a "little untidy - the boys wash up in there." Surely it can't be that bad, I live with small people. Wrong. If "the boys" "wash up" in there then it means that they throw water around the bathroom and then throw toilet paper on top of it. Every surface is wet and its so dark in there I don't know what the wet is from (ewwwwww!). I paper towel every surface and FORBID them to touch anything. We try to wash our hands only to find there is no soap. "Wash up" my auntie! Outside I bathe them in hand sanitizer.

11:30am - The mechanic claims he doesn't do a lot of work on these kinds of vehicles and says he's going to go check something inside. I am convinced he is consulting Google.

11:50am - Diagnostic tools say the power steering is gone and a part won't be in til Monday. We put in a mayday call to one of our church elders. He rounds up the rescue posse. It will be about 3 hours before anyone can get here. Joy.

12:00pm - Thankfully in the great metropolis of Bledsoe, Ky there is a mechanic and a gas station/general store/restaurant. Double thankfully (that is a phrase!), they are almost next door to one another. The road from the mechanic to the store is a very busy one with fast cars and huge semis so the mechanic suggests to walk up the back of his house, across the grass dodging toys and trash, along his porch so the three dogs tied up don't jump on us, down his driveway and across the road. Remember, we are in funeral clothes. This my friends, is why I never wear heels.
Brock's Market is where it's at!
12:10pm - We walk into the store and the owner immediately says, "You broke down didn't you?" It is that obvious that we are not from around these parts. Or news travels REALLY fast. Either is a strong possibility.  We order lunch and sit on the front porch of the store. Best burger I've had in a long time. Seriously, next time you pass through Bledsoe, Ky you have to get one!

Fine dining!
1:00pm - Food is gone. We sit and watch the world go by. Last night we talked about needing to slow down more. Well, maybe this is a sign. We found Bledsoe, Ky to be a busy place full of colorful, genuine characters. There were probably 100+ people who stopped into that little store. Each person greeted us with a "howdy" which thrilled the BP no end since we are really into horses and cowboy stuff right now. Then each person came out with only a few items but were in there a lot longer than they needed to be to find what they were there for and believe me, they weren't browsing the aisles. They were visiting, catching up on the gossip, taking their time. Asking about the strange people on their porch. On the way out they would congregate on the porch and ask how their "mama was doing." Everyone had a mama and everyone wanted to know how they were doing. And they talked about bears. A lot.

1:30pm - The store owners came out clutching two little plastic bags, one for each of the princesses looking "pleased as punch" with themselves. Each bag contained a bottle of red juice, blow pop, red sucker, a "flip phone sucker" and  a pack of M&M minis. A bag of sugar and Red #40 for a 5 year old and a 2 year old confined to a store porch. The gesture was so thoughtful and kind and the girls we thrilled. It was like Halloween coming on Christmas morning. They were on a sugar high and there was no coming down!




2:30pm - A lady stop and smokes a pack of cigarettes on the other side of the porch (she was not our first porch smoking friend. In fact a lighter was left on the porch permanently for anyone who stopped by). BP remarks about how the lady has "smoke in her mouth" to which the lady replies that it's yucky and BP should never do it. She throws her butt on the ground (in the direction of the gas pumps!). BP tells me she threw it because it didn't taste very nice. LP tells the our porch smoking friend that she loves Frozen. They lady replies that yes, it is a bit cold outside.  The husband tells her LP is referring to the movie. Porch smoker says, "oh, that's that movie about the elephant and the furry thing that chases the nut!" I don't have the heart to correct her and BP whispers to me that maybe they don't have Frozen here yet. I think maybe she is right.

2:45pm - A gang of bikers show up. Ok, so it was a few men on some road bikes. Their use of helmets and well, clothes (most store patrons thus far tended to be in overalls or pajamas) told us they too were not from these parts. They spoke to one another in another language (eastern european?). Our friendly smoking porch friend asked them where they were from. They replied, "Illinois." I'm pretty sure they weren't from Illinois. In fact I was convinced they were actually Russian Mafia trying to make their way through the country undetected.
Russian Mafia! 
3:00pm - Cue downpour. And wind. And wet clothes. People beep their horn as they pass us on the porch. Yup, we have been here long enough to be considered locals now.


Skipping through the rain drops! Our porch friend says, "I don't think that hat's going to keep him very dry..."

4:30pm - The rescue posse arrives to cheers. We thank out wonderful, gracious hosts who allowed us spend a fun, relaxing afternoon on their porch letting us traipse through their house to use their restroom and offering us coffee. We get in the car and bid goodbye to Bledsoe - the friendliest town in Kentucky! On the way home LP promptly fell asleep crashing after her sugar high, I am exhausted and am starting to nod off when I hear BP sleepily say to me, "Mum, this has been a really great day!"


-C

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thanks for the welcome Whanganui, it's been fun.


This is not a typical post of mine but since this is my blog and it's only read by my Mum and sometimes my husband, I can write whatever I want here. Today I realized that I have become a grumpy old lady. Or at least have the mindset of one. Something happened today that has stuck in my mind and I'm having a hard time letting go of it.

We are visiting family in New Zealand and are having the most wonderful, relaxing, slow holiday. It has been a trip of healing and perspective (more on that some other time). Today we took a trip into Whanganui. If you go to the official website for the city you find this description:

"Whanganui is a place steeped in history, art and culture. Big enough to draw crowds and small enough to be intimate. There is something here for everyone. We are surrounded by mountains, Mount Taranaki, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro, a beautiful natural landscape, dramatic west coast beaches and unspoilt native bush for tramping and wilderness trips. Our vibrant community prides itself on its parks and reserves, cycle and walk ways and an abundance of creativity. Don’t be surprised to find an immediate sense of connection, an unexpected little slice of heaven, and real New Zealand authenticity. Enjoy our manaakitanga – our legendary hospitality. We look forward to welcoming you to our part of the world."
And you see the beautiful picture:


And it really is that lovely. There are hanging baskets on every lamppost, well manicured lawns, outdoor cafe seating, street performers busking on the corners - it's beautiful and relaxing and we were having a wonderful time browsing the numerous gift stores along the avenue.

However, the day was quickly overshadowed. We stopped to use the public restrooms and upon coming out we were greeted to the sight of two gang members facing off to have it out in the middle of the street, blocking our exit. My mother and I hurriedly pulled back Miss 5 and Miss 2 and hid them in a corner but not before they got to witness one grown man pick up a store sign and hurl it at another grown man and then proceed to pummel and choke him to the ground.

Next to us a young girl whipped out her cellphone and began filming the fight, laughing as if it were some form of entertainment. I told her to call the police and she told me I should do it. I told her I didn't have a phone or I would and she just said, "I don't want to get involved, it's not my problem."

At first I was scared for my children. Who knows what kind of weapons they may or may not have had. But then I was just angry. Angry that it was acceptable for two grown adults to fight out their differences in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. Angry that these two idiots who apparently don't like the way the other did their make-up that morning, decided to pound each other in front of my children. I have no problem with these two morons beating each other silly and removing themselves from the gene pool but please, do not do it in front of my children. Throw your childish temper tantrums elsewhere.

But what kind of society is it in which we live when two grown adults think it is ok to act like animals in the middle of the street in the middle of the day?!? What kind of society is it in which we live when a young woman thinks it is a big joke and makes home movies out of it?!?

Since this incident we have heard about the bad men a lot. My 2 year old clung to my mother because she was "scared of the bad men." "Why were they fighting?" "Why did they want to hurt each other?" Well sweet children, it's because they belong to a super special club and one club doesn't like the other club so if one of them looks at the other the wrong way then they fight. No, it's not very mature but grown-ups can be real morons sometimes.

Oh and you two idiots who think you're so big and bad, tonight my five year old prayed that the police would find you and help you to make better choices. Have a good life.

-C

(PS: I know that gang issues are really complicated and the issue of whether or not people should get involved is even more complicated but that is another topic for another day. Tonight I am just a frustrated and mad mum who needed a good vent. Peace.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Used Stroller Buying Guide


There are just some things that you in general should not buy used - carseat, underwear, yeah, no. But when it comes to getting what you want on a budget, the used stroller is the way to go. Higher end strollers are often feature-packed, durable, great quality, and let's face it they're just plain pretty! However they are often out of reach for us "common folk." By buying used the unattainable can become very affordable. If you are smart, patient and know where to look, you can get the stroller of your dreams (if you don't know what this phrase means then this post is probably not for you) for a fraction of the MRSP.

I've found that many owners of expensive, fancy-smancy strollers tend to take very good care of their strollers. Often they are bought and then only used once or twice (think jogging stroller, think bassinet) and this translate into a great opportunity for you. Now there are some negatives to buying used, the big one being that most companies will not stand behind the warranty on a used stroller. So keep this in mind when making your short list of strollers you're stalking. Look for strollers that have an excellent reputation for durability or for companies that have excellent customer service (Britax! They're awesome!).

Having bought and sold the odd stroller here and there I have learnt a few things that I am going to pass on to you.

1. Make a List (and check it twice)
Make a short list of what it is you want. Are you looking for an All Terrain stroller? Want to Jog? Need something to travel with? Identify your needs then narrow it down to a few specific options. To help you with your list ask yourself these questions:

- Who are/is my rider(s)? Double? Single? Triple (gulp!)?

- How long will they be riding? Example, if you have a 2 year old and don't plan for more then a bassinet is not a feature you really need (trust me, you do not want to be the crazy pram lady pushing her dollies around...)

- Where do I plan to use this stroller? (Mall? Everest? Sahara?)

- How will it be transported ? This is an important question! Buying a Bob Duallie and trying to fit it into a Mini Cooper? It kind of looks like this...
Not happening! So make sure your car and you stroller are compatible.

- Now write down the three most important features it MUST have. You only get three because no stroller can do EVERYTHING (though some come petty close) hence the "need" for multiple. ;) Don't know what you need? Here are a few options..
  • Basket (Big, small, don't care?)
  • Tires (foam, plastic or air?)
  • Push (Want to push it with one finger or do you expect to get a workout pushing it?)
  • Size (Is compactness important or do you want something so big crowds will part when you're working the sale at the outlets?)
  • Customization (Do you want accessories, the ability to make the stroller match your outfit?)
  • Do you want it to make you a latte? (I lie, none can do this yet but there are some that will fold all on its own AND can charge you phone as you walk. True dat.)
Ok, list, done.

2. Start Stalking 
You cannot get the stroller of your dreams the day you dream of it. It takes time and patience while you wait for the gods of the stroller universe to send it to you (if you must, go and make you an Oprah dream board). There a few places you need to keep your eye on. 
  • Your Local Craigslist (and the one your Mother In-Law lives in!)
    • The best way to keep an eye out of deals it to set up a Craigslist alert. Go HERE. By having an alert set up you can avoid having to check it 3000 times a day because when it comes to scoring a major deal on CL you have to move fast.
  • Ebay
    • Make sure you ask lots of questions and get lots of pictures before closing on an Ebay deal. Also check ratings and feedback. 
  • Stroller Buy Sell and Trade Groups on Facebook
    • Yup, there are Facebook Groups dedicated to buying and selling strollers. This is one of my favorite ways to buy and sell. The ones I belong to have members who love and care for their strollers like children (no, seriously) and take exceptional care of them. These people are the best people to score a deal from. They love to enable help you fulfill your every stroller fantasy.
3. Make sure you're getting a deal.
Having a fancy, smancy brand name on it (Bug-a-who?) does not always make it a good deal.  If you live in an area of the country like I do, stroller deals do not come by often so don't get caught up in the excitement of spotting a potential deal. When you find the potential newest member of your stroller family there are a few things to check:
  • Price. Look on Ebay, check other Craiglist listings, ask on Facebook stroller forums. Know what a good price is. Know what a great price it. Don't get so excited in finding something pretty and shiny that you end up over paying for it.
  • Condition. There are some things you can fix when it comes to strollers and some things that are just a no-go. Things you can fix/overlook if the deal is good enough are:
    • Fading of the fabrics (maybe you can replace them)
    • Scratches to the frame (you'd be surprised what a Magic Eraser can do)
    • Basic cosmetic flaws
    • Dirt. You'd be amazed at what a hose and dish soap can do. 
         Things that CANNOT be overlooked are (in my book):

    • Deep rust to the frame 
    • Widespread Mold
    • Bent frame
    • Non-working brakes
4. Check it, then double check it.
If you're buying locally make sure you check it out thoroughly.
    • Check online for recalls. Make sure those have been repaired or that you can still get a repair kit for them.
    • Open the stroller (does it stay open?)
    • Push it (does it roll smoothly? Straight?)
    • Check the harness works (put a child in it if you can)
    • Set the brake (does it work?)
    • Close the stroller (does it fit in your car?)
    • Open the canopy (check for mold in the folds, seams, etc) 
    • Operate the foot rest
    • Recline it (if it reclines)
    • Check the fabric for tears, wearing, etc. 
    • Examine the frame. Make sure there is no bending, warping or deep rust.
5. Negotiate
If you're buying from someone who loves their strollers then don't insult them by low-balling them. Those people generally know what their stroller is worth and you're probably already getting a good deal or a great stroller. However, buying from your local Craigslist will probably allow you the most wiggle room in negotiating. Any flaws or problems you find that are not disclosed on the ad can be used as negotiating points. At the end of the day, know what price you're wanting to pay and it you can't close the deal, walk away. There will be other deals to have. 

So there you have it! Happy Stroller Hunting!
C

PS: Have you scored a fabulous deal on a stroller? Brag about it in the comments section!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Easy DIY Mermaid Top


One of Big Princess's best little friends is turning 5 next week and today was her birthday party. When BP learnt that it was a mermaid themed party her first thought was to wear her "go-to mermaid party dress" (What? You don't have one of those?) that I made her last year. This lead to a conversation about some parties are not costume parties and sometimes just the birthday girl gets to be special and dress up. Eventually I just bought her compliance by promising to make her a mermaid shirt. Sucker, I know. Unfortunately, I was reminded of this promise at 9pm on Friday night. The party was the next day. I sent the husband on a mission to Wal-mart (don't hate me - we sometimes use the 'W' word around here) and sat down to worship at the alter of Pinterest. I am such a faithful follower and I am feeling particularly disloyal right now. I may be losing the faith. A quick search lead to pictures of grown women in mermaid outfits that they apparently can actually swim in. Who in the hello does that?!? I mean seriously! If I showed up at the local pool dressed like this...well, it wouldn't be pretty!


Apparently this is set to be the big thing in swimsuit fashion next year. I am not making this up! Quick, someone write a crochet pattern so you can DIY one for yourself and sell it on Etsy. You're set to make a killing! NOT!

Anywho...the promised shirt which finally got started at 10:30pm (why on earth do I do this to myself?). As I was thinking and googling I remembered the mermaid printables I used for the Birthday Bash this year. The sweet and amazing creative mind over at Living Well Spending Less offers (FOR FREE YO!) these adorable mermaid printables. For my mermaid shirt we used THIS ONE. Cute huh?

And here is the finished shirt...(oh and that's not fuzz on "Ariel's" hair, it's got a little sparkle to it)

And modeled :)



Wanna make one?

Here's what you need:
1. Felt
- 1 Piece for the hair
- 1 Piece for the skin
- 1 Piece for the tail
- 1 Piece for the top

2. Heat N Bond Lite (get the one you can sew on or else you're stuck hand stitching it. Yowch!

3. A shirt

4. Sewing Crap (Scissors, thread, music to jam to)

STEP 1
Print THREE copies of your mermaid picture

STEP 2
Cut out your mermaid pieces. You'll need hair, a tail, a body, and a top. You'll notice my top is a little different. We don't do belly buttons around here ;)  Here are your pieces cut out (the top piece is upside down - opps!).


STEP 3.
Now, I want you to pretend for the next three pictures that there is Fuse N Bond already attached to the pieces of felt. I always forget to attach the Fuse N Bond before I trace and cut - grrr! So attach your Fuse N Bond according to pattern directions and trace your pieces RIGHT SIDE DOWN onto the Fuse N Bond side of your felt.


Don't forget on your hair piece to cut out the bangs so you can slide your head up into it.


There's not a picture of the top piece but you get the idea. :)

STEP 4.
Now let's assemble and iron your mermaid down. Slide your head up into the bangs of the hair and place the hair and body piece on the shirt where you want it. Place another piece of plain cotton fabric over the felt pieces and iron into place according to Fuse N Bond directions. Next add the tail and the top (in any order). Sew a plain straight stitch around the pieces to make sure that mermaid isn't going to swim off the shirt in the next was and you're done! Easy ay? ;)


Now for your viewing pleasure...




 Photo bombed by a penguin!
 JAAAAAAWS!

Side bar, BP told everyone and anyone who would listen (as well as those who didn't!) that her mummy made her shirt. I've decided to bask in the glow of praise coming from my 5 year old. The day might come before I am ready when I will instead hear, "I cannot believe she is making me wear that!"

-C