Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easy Peasy, No-Cost, No-Sew All Saint's Day and/or Halloween Costumes

Yes, I know I'm getting this out awfully close to Halloween and All Saint's Day.  But, hey this post is for the slackers and the procrastinators, the disorganized and the lazy and the non-crafty (like me). 

If you're one of those people who plans our their costumes a month in the advance or goes out and buys an expensive costume or spends hours sewing to make the perfect costume, this post is NOT for you. 

If you are non-crafty and on a tight budget and just participate in those parties/trick or treating for the fun, food/candy and social opportunity and always end up throwing a costume together at the last minute just so you can say your kids are dressed up.  Well then, this is the post for YOU.

So, here are five different pictures of Halloween/All Saint's Day Costumes we've done with no cost and no sewing.

Actually, we do like to learn about Saints for All Saints Day...but Halloween...we're just in it for the candy. 

So, first let's talk about Halloween.  Because that comes first. 

For Halloween we typically just cobble something together from our costume/dress-up clothes box and call it a day.  As I mentioned before, I tend save all costumes.  And girls love princess dresses...like this one.  So, we tend to accumulate these things and then pull them out.

And, over the years, we've tended to have other costumes given to us as well, like this:

or this.

So, I just pull something together.

This year, I have a  bumble bee costume someone gave me for Elsa.  John is going to wear an army hat and camouflage shirt that someone gave us for the swamp buggy parade we were in last November (sorry, I don't have any pictures of that).   Greta is going to wear a fancy white dress and her first communion veil and be a bride.  Heidi is still undecided, but probably going to wear a long skirt, a flowy shirt, tie a scarf around her neck and be a peasant girl.   But, I'm trying to convince her to wear a business skirt and jacket and my glasses and she can be a lawyer.  I don't think she's going for that though.  Oh well. 

Now, onto All Saint's Day.

Here are some costumes we did in the past.  Saints costumes are even easier to cobble together than other costumes. 

Mary, St. John Bosco and St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Mary's costume is a white, floor-length dress that she already owned, with one of my long, white cardigans on top (to make it long-sleeved, as you can tell from the picture, the dress was sleeveless).  For the veil, she is wearing a blue shirt on her head and it flows down like a veil.

For St. John Bosco, he is wearing one of Ben's white t-shirts with my black t-shirt on top.  On him, they were over-sized and robe-like.

St. Elizabeth is wearing a borrowed red dress, a black t-shirt (one of mine) and a piece of raw  (un-hemmed) blue fabric that we happened to have tied around her neck.  The crown is just from our dress-up bin.


 St Therese and St. Adelaide.

St. Adelaide is wearing my long green skirt and has a red blanket tied around her shoulders.  This was really hot, because we were in Fl that year.   The crown was made out of poster board and "gems".  We had "gems" aplenty in our craft bin.

This St. Therese costume was actually given to us..it was a "real" costume. 


 But it's really easy to cobble together a nun costume.

Greta is wearing an adult sized brown t-shirt (which is that size on her) a white shirt underneath and Sr. Veronica's extra nun veil, with a piece of rope tied around her waist.

Heidi is wearing one of my brown long-sleeved shirts, one of my brown skirts, a white t-shirt underneath, and on her head is a another white shirt with a black shirt on top.   Again, we tied a rope around her waist.


Saint Dymphna, St Appolonia, St. John of the Cross.

St. Dympphna is wearing that same long green skirt, my long-sleeved black t-shirt, my white t-shirt and a white scarf tied around her head.

St Appolonia is wearing my red dress, her own t-shirt underneath and a pink sash from another dress tied around her waist.  She made a necklace out of marshmallows (meant to represent teeth) since St. Appolonia is often pictured with a necklace made out of teeth.

St. John of the Cross is wearing my brown t-shirt and he has my white cardigan tied around his neck.  And he's holding the cross.

Costumes for little kids are super easy, because grown-up sized clothes are frequently robe-length or habit-length on them.  Put a t-shirt on your head and you have an instant veil.  Blankets and towels and safety pins can make an easy veil or robe as well. And, lots of saints were princesses, so just pull out that old princess costume and you're good.

Have a Happy Halloween and All Saint's Day Everyone!

Linking up with Mama Needs Coffee for 5 Favorites
post signature

Sunday, October 27, 2013

WIWS: Outfit Fail but At Least We Still Have Some Winners

Linking up with FLAP for yet again, another edition of What I Wore Sunday. I have no idea why I keep posting these...other than the fact that I feel like taking photos of an outfit give me a more objective view than just looking in the mirror.  Plus, I might be getting a bit vainer as I get older.  Actually, vainer is not the right work..probably more like conscious of my outward appearance and how it comes across to others.  Because, like it or not, people do judge us by our clothes and appearance.  I'm trying really hard not to fall into the frumpy, mid-30's, mom of several kids look...because no one likes that.   I think looking at least somewhat decent and put-together helps give society a more positive view of what I do.  

Anywhere, he is what I wore.  Today's outfit is a definite fail and that orange sweater is going straight into the "give-away" pile...because people who are well-endowed should not wear turtlenecks.

So first I tried this....but I'm afraid that color combination is reminiscent of Ernie from Sesame Street.  

The tights are from Wal-Mart.  Everything else is old and thrifted and I don't know where it's from.  Which is fine..because you probably wouldn't want to buy these pieces anyway.  Although, I do like that skirt...I only wear it with tights, though..  It feels too short to wear with bare legs, but I like it with tights underneath. 
It's slightly better without the cardigan...but still I'm getting rid of this sweater....it's way too short...and I said above, well-endowed people should not wear turtlenecks.

So, I feel like this outfit was a fail.
But, at least we do have some winners in the family.  Yesterday we took the kids to a chess tournament and came home with these.

And here's one with their chess coach and a cute little future chess prodigy.

Greta and John as the Bentrup Homeschool Team won 3rd place in the K-5 Open/Rated Section.

John won an individual trophy for 3rd place (and he actually tied for 2nd) in the K-3 Rated/Open Awards.  Not bad for someone only in Kindergarten...especially since he was playing a lot of 5th graders.

Heidi won 2nd place (tied for 1st actually) in the K-8 unrated awards.  It's called K-8, but was basically just 6th, 7th and 8th graders and she actually played against kids all the way up through 12th grade.  So, pretty good for only a 6th grader. 

And, Greta won a ribbon in the K-5 rated section.

And, Elsa...well she's just biding her time until she's old enough to bring home her own trophies.

Happy Sunday!!

post signature

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Unusual Ways to Save Money

A few weeks back I wrote a post called 7 Things I Don't Buy and One Thing I Do.   While I wouldn't call it wildly popular, it was somewhat well received by my extremely small base of lovely and loyal readers.   So......I thought I would do another post on saving money...because we all want to save more money, right?  Even if you have plenty of money...if less of it flies out the window on dumb stuff, you have a lot more of it to spend on fun stuff.

So, here are 7 of my more unusual money saving tips...so you can have more in the piggy bank and less gone out the window. 

1.  Phones

We pay about $20 per month (total) for 2 cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phones that cost $20 each.  We don't have a landline, so this is our only phone expense. 

Since the minutes are more expensive this way, we take certain steps to minimize our minute usage. 

Did you know that if you have a gmail account, you can use it to call anywhere in the United States for free over your computer?  We use this for calling out to businesses or other places where we may have to be on hold for awhile.  Or, it's really useful if I'm home alone and can't find my cell phone because a certain someone walked off with it...I can simply call it.

We sometimes use Skype for long-distance calls to friends and family and as a bonus, you get to actually see the person.   Of course, the disadvantage to this, is you can't talk while in your underwear...but life is all about sacrifice.

And those $20 cell phones...they are way hardier than anything more expensive we've had.  They've gotten wet and been dropped numerous times and still work just fine. 


Kids Clothes

When it comes to kids clothes....save the expensive/necessary stuff and get rid of the "easy to come by stuff."  As I mentioned in my other post, the vast majority of our kids clothing was given to us...a few things we purchased.  I generally save everything that is a bit "harder" to come by and get rid of anything that is not...for example, I save things like Halloween costumes, coats/jackets, hats, mittens, bathing suits and rash guard shirts, shoes (if still wearable) and "uniform" clothing (items which may typically be found in a uniform..navy or khaki skirts or pants, white polo shirts, while button down shirts, black skirts).  These items have come in useful over the years..for various events and activities.  The rest of their clothes, I pass on as soon as they outgrow..because we've moved too much for me to want to hang onto things.   Saving the "harder to come by stuff" saves us a lot of money...since things like rashguard shirts and uniform skorts aren't often given to us..while we get jeans and t-shirts a plenty. 


Food Costs/Nutritional Analysis

Image credit on bottom of photo.

When looking at food...don't just look at the cost/oz. or price, but look at the cost/nutritional benefit.  Goldfish may be cheap...but they provide ZERO nutritional benefit and are the most annoying snack ever...because they are so ubiquitous.  We can't get away from goldfish...no matter where we go, someone is always offering my toddler goldfish.  Why can't people bring sunflower seeds everywhere?  Anyway, sunflower seeds and raisins and cheese and fruit and nuts may be more expensive...they are also loads more nutritional.  Sometimes it helps to think of cost/gram of protein instead of cost/oz. when deciding what to buy.


From Britax Marathon to Cosco Scenera

Don't assume that just because something is more expensive...that it is better.  When Heidi was a baby, she rode around in a Britax Marathon...at that time, considered by many to be the best carseat on the market (and definitely the most expensive at $230).  Now, Elsa's main carseat is an Evenflo Triumph and when I needed an extra seat for our second car I ran right out to Wal-Mart and picked up the cheapest one I could find...the Cosco Scenera for only $40.00.  And, you know what...the cheaper one is just fine.  It's rated to the same safety standards, and was actually the EASIER to install rear-facing.   


Procrastinate Shopping

Yes, procrastination can be a GOOD thing.  Impulse purchases are one of my weaknesses.  I'm a real sucker for a sales pitch.  Seriously...I am.  I KNOW when I'm being sold, and I'm still a sucker.  So, I try to make a point of not buying anything without considering it's purchase for at least a week.   Because, I have a really bad habit of thinking I need something, right now and running right over to my trusty laptop and ordering it on Amazon right away.  I'm especially prone to do with this vitamins/minerals/supplements...I've spent a fortune on unused vitamins.  So, I've started procrastinating when it comes to buying something....I just keep putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, until eventually I either realize I DO need it and buy it, or realize that I DON'T need it and save the money.


Borrow Books

Did you know that you can borrow books on Kindle?  It's true, you can.   If you lend someone a book, it goes off your Kindle account and onto theirs, and then they can return it and it goes back to yours.  Pretty cool..huh?   It's just like borrowing real books...except you never have to worry about the book getting lost or ripped or destroyed.   So...if anyone wants to loan me any books....I love reading!

And, speaking of borrowing (real) books...if you happen to be like me, and prone to forgetting when library books are due and wracking up fines, you can avoid this by marking on your calendar when the books are due, sending yourself a reminder (I use Google calendar and email myself reminders) and then going online and renewing the books before they come due.   I've managed to avoid lots of library fines this way.


Combine Errands

Okay, so this isn't that unusual a tip..but it really does make a big difference in gas.  Combine all your shipping and errands so they are grouped by location.   And, consider the gas cost when deciding where to go....but only do this up to a certain point..because if you do it too much, you'll decide you can never go anywhere, and then you'll drive yourself crazy.  Or at least, I would drive myself crazy!

Oh...and one other thing.  Yesterday we got an absolutely wonderful and generous surprise in the mail! So if you happen to read this blog, thank you, thank you..whoever you are!

Linking up with Jen    Cari for 7 Quick Takes Friday

post signature

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pretty Happy, Funny, Real, Theme Thursday: Letter W

Linking up once again with Like Mother Like Daughter and Clan Donaldson

On Sunday we took a picnic and went on a Walk (the theme for this week's Theme Thursday is W...so we're calling what we went on a walk instead of a hike).  So, here are my pictures  from our hike . walk.



Of course, I have to take a picture of actual walking.

And the turtles walking on parade

It's a turtle pile-up

That turtle there on the right is just like me....always going the opposite way of everyone else..


We found a huge hollow tree.  Thankfully, there were no bears, or bees or other dangerous animals inside.

Just a couple of wild children inside.  Don't worry..they're not dangerous. 


Before, we went on our walk, we had a picnic.  Elsa was being her usual toddler self and insisted on scaling the picnic table and then trying to pull everything out of the cooler.  Because I pride myself on being smarter than a 1-year old, I came up with the genius plan of taking everything out of the cooler, plopping it on the ground and plopping Elsa inside.  Whereby, the baby that hates cribs and playpens and all baby containment devices was more than happy  to sit in a cooler and play for a good long time.   Mommy 1: Elsa 0.

She likes to eat those mandarins...peel and all. 

See that there orange residue on her face.  That would be orange cheesy puff residue...because I deserve the parent of the year award. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Scrumptious Blog Award

Laura from String of Pearls tagged me in this super fun game!  And, I'm a big fan of Laura and her blog, so I figured I'd play along.   If you aren't familiar with Laura's blog...Laura is a blogging grandma and the authoress of Finding Grace.  Here are Laura's questions.

1. What was your favorite sitcom growing up?

We never really watched sitcoms. The only TV we watched was PBS or cartoons on Saturday morning.  My favorite PBS Show was Square One.  It was a geeky math show and my absolute favorite part of it was the last 10 minutes of each show was this detective skit called MathNet. I loved that little 10 minutes part of the show...it was my absolute favorite.  I can still clearly see the detectives pulling their calculators out of their pockets and yelling "MATHEMATICIANS FREEZE" as they were about the apprehend the bad guys. 

Yes, I was a geek.

2. What song makes you happy every time you hear it?

Hmmm...that's a tough one.  I don't listen to much music.  In fact, every since having kids 11 years ago, I greatly prefer the sounds of silence.   I do like a lot of songs...I just have to have total silence to enjoy listening to them (which doesn't happen often). 

But, one song that always makes me smile when my husband sings it is The Errant Apprentice.   Everyone loves a good Irish drinking song, right?

3. Have you ever had anything happen to you that you thought was bad, but it turned out to be for the best?

Yes, probably too many to count. The first instance that I remember feeling like that comes to mind is when I was about 16 or so.  I was horse crazy and worked at a stable down the street from me.  It was a really small stable and the owner would let me ride his horse in exchange for grooming, cleaning stalls, etc.  Sadly, the horse got Eastern Equine Encephalitis and had to be put down.  I was obviously quite sad, but I ended up going to work at another, bigger stable where I was able to get actual riding lessons and learn jumping and get a lot more experience with horses, so it turned out to be for the best.. 

The other main instance have occurred is as an adult...we've gone through lots of job loss which led to different jobs and opportunities and living in different areas so looking back, I suppose the job loss was all for the best.

The third main instance is a bit harder to talk about, but back on Christmas Day, 2003 I miscarried my 2nd baby at 7 weeks pregnant.  I was due Aug. 15th 2004.  Which as it turns out would have been an absolutely terrible time to have a baby as during that time we were unemployed, didn't have health insurance and were in transition between jobs.  Then just 2 months later in Feb, I got pregnant with Greta, who was born Oct. 2004....a much  better time to have a baby, as we had a job and health insurance.   So, while I'm sure we would have loved and cherished that baby that we lost, if I hadn't miscarried that baby we wouldn't have Greta and she is just awesome...the world would be a sadder place without Greta in it.

4. Do you have a favorite saint you pray to, or one to whom you feel a special friendship?

St. Jude....because with me, every crisis is an impossible cause.

5. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian.  More specifically, a large animal veterinarian...I wanted to travel around to farms and work with horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, etc.

6. Do you prefer scary movies or comedies?

I prefer mysteries/detective movies, so I guess those are more scary than comedic.  But, I don't like horror movies, which is what one usually thinks of when they mention scary movies.

7. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I've always wished I could sing beautifully, but I am sorely lacking in talent when it comes to singing, so that will NEVER happen.

8. When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you spend?

Either blogging or reading blogs or reading a good mystery novel.

9. What's the hardest thing you've ever done?

Move to Florida with my family so my husband could attend law school.  We had 3 kids and it was really scary, financially speaking.  Somehow we survived and didn't starve to death, and now he has a law degree!

10. If you could be any fictional character, whom would you choose?

Nancy Drew...because she's super cool and always solves the case.  And., she escapes death at least 5 times every book. Plus, she's super talented at everything and always kind and basically perfect in every way.  So who wouldn't want to be her?


Here are the rules for the SCRUMPTIOUS BLOG AWARD:
1. Once you are awarded, post about it on your blog and link back to the person who awarded you.

2. Answer all of the questions on the tag.

3. Do not award anyone who has more than 100 followers.

4. Come up with 10 new questions.

5. Tag 5 to 10 people.

I'm tagging.

So, play along ladies, if you like this sorta thing.  Or don't...I won't be offended, I promise. 

Here are your questions.

1.  Are you introverted or extroverted?

2. When did you start blogging and why?

3. What is your greatest strength in your parenting?  Or, if you don't have kids yet, what is your greatest strength in your other significant relationships.

4. What is your biggest weakness in parenting?  Or, if you don't have kids yet, what is your greatest weakness in your other significant relationships.

5. If you had to choose a "last meal", what would you choose?

6.  Do you have any pets?

7.  Do you consider yourself to be "crunchy/granola"?  How?

8.  Are you living where you want to live? (ie. Would you rather be living someplace else right now?)

9. How would you describe your fashion style?  What types of clothes do you typically wear?

10. What is your favorite season and why?
post signature

Sunday, October 20, 2013

WIWS: the dwarf and the Giant..and some fall pictures.

It's finally fall and we had some really fall-ish weather today, which was awesome!  Sunny, beautiful, high's in the mid-60's.  Just perfect!

Everything is old and thrift-ed and I have no idea where any of it is from.  Sorry.  I guess I could look at labels, but I'm lazy. 

So, I have no idea how we got such an hilarious picture with these proportions, but it totally looks like the little dwarf girl is looking up at the big giant mommy with something akin to horror.  I don't think my outfit was *that bad* but maybe it was?

I couldn't decide whether or not to leave the sweater half-tucked or untucked.  Which do you prefer?

And, since it's fall, I decided to try to get some pictures with the kids on the huge mess of leaves that is covering our lawn, which we probably should rake, but we don't own a rake, so whatever.  How necessary is raking leaves anyway????

John can't stop moving, he's doing some weird dance and Elsa is crying because she hates standing still. 

This is probably the best one of all 4..which isn't saying much.

Happy Fall Y'all!!

post signature

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why my laziness makes me a better mom. (and Theme Thursday Orange)

What would your response be if your son or daughter came home and said that he/she wanted to dye their hair bright orange?

A)  No way!  Only heathens do that!  What will our friends/neighbors/church members think? 

B) Do whatever, I don't care.

C) I've always thought blue was more your color.

D). Okay, let me help you find an all natural, non-toxic, chemical-free dye made from organic henna seeds handpicked during the full moon and grown on local henna plants imported from New Zealand. 

I recently came across an article on the Home Educators Association of Virginia website entitled Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing Major Blindspots of Homeschoolers.  The author shares how he and his wife "lost" their relationship with their son because they were too controlling, too concerned with outward appearances and did not accept him as he was.  They discuss one incident where as a teen, the son came home from work and wanted to dye his hair blue and the dad basically hit the roof with an a resounding NO WAY.

It got me thinking about what my own response in that situation would be.   I'd probably go for D, because you know..chemicals. 

Or, I'd use orange chalk, which is totally temporary and basically brushes or washes out. 

We were testing this chalk-hair color thing as part of a no-cost, easy-peasy Halloween costume.  It looks more orange on Greta's lighter hair than Heidi's darker hair.  Don't worry, we also celebrate All Saint's Day with no-cost, easy-peasy All Saint's Day Costumes that I will probably highlight in a future blog post.

And, the reason for that is really because I'm lazy...because it's easier to give in than to argue..and really..it's just hair, not exactly a matter of morality, so who cares what color it is....as long as you don't use any nasty, carcinogenic chemicals that is.   No one can ever accuse me of being too authoritarian or controlling.  Many, many years ago, (after graduating from UK with a master's degree in reproductive physiology) I got a job teaching elementary school.  Why? I have no idea...I was probably the least qualified person there is, and I had ZERO classroom management skills because I am most definitely NOT the super authoritarian type.  And, that's okay with your own kids, but definitely very bad when trying to manage a classroom.   My kids are the ones walking down the street in princess dresses barefoot because they prefer to be discalced (my husband is probably swooning right now, because I used the word discalced in a sentence).  They have REALLY tough feet.    Don't worry, we do have some rules, but I try to keep those rules to general hygiene things (as in why yes, you do have to brush your hair, and no a dirty, peanut-butter stained shirt is not appropriate to wear outside the house). 

I've posted before about acceptance and relationship being they key to parenting and I believe this article is saying something very similar. 

It's mostly a very good article...definitely written from the evangelical Protestant viewpoint, so not something I can totally relate to seeing as how I'm not an evangelical Protestant, but it has a lot of good points for everyone, not just homeschoolers. 

As homeschoolers though, I think the main point is especially important.  It's easy to feel so judged and put under a microscope by the world, that we feel pressure to put on an appearance of perfection...perfectly behaved children, perfectly dressed, perfectly smart, perfect manners, perfectly advanced,  perfectly perfect in every way.  But, that's not realistic nor healthy. 

Sometimes I think my own laziness is my best parenting asset...because I'm too lazy to be controlling or micro-managing or helicopter parenting.   It's so much easier to just let them be themselves, than to try to fit them into a mold of what I think they should be.  Don't worry...we do have rules...we're not totally permissive, but we also try really hard to just accept them as they are..warts and all (for the record,  none of my kids have warts).   

The author talks about having your child's heart, which I guess is just his way of saying having a good relationship.   It's so important not to let our own insecurities and fear of judgement get in the way of our relationship with our children.  Love is the most important thing...our children need to feel loved and accepted, no matter what.  We may know that we love them, but do they know it. Do they feel our acceptance....or just our criticism and judgement?
post signature

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Favorite Books We Brought Home From the Library Yesterday

Linking up with Jessica for What We're Reading Wednesday and Hallie for Five Favorites.

Yesterday, we made a trip to the library after coop and being the super organized, always totally on top of things, occasionally organized, once-in a-blue-moon on top of things homeschooling mom that I am, I actually remembered to bring our syllabus and then look at it more than one day in advance.  I was amazingly able to pick up a few books for the coming weeks.  Even more amazing was that Elsa slept the sling the whole time I was looking up books.  Yes, the stars were aligned yesterday for sure.  No doubt, today everything will fall to pieces.

When I was looking up books, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few childhood favorites. 


This book is in Greta's third grade syllabus.  It's a super sweet, old-fashioned factual story about a pioneer girl and her dealings with Native Americans.

The rest of these books are recommended Literature from John's kindergarten syllabus. 

Who here remembers this sweet tale about Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne?   This is a classic book with even more classic, simple pictures.  I especially love the pictures of people in their old-fashioned clothes.


Also by Virginia Lee Burton

I've always loved this story of the big snow, and wondered why we never got a BIG SNOW like that.  I'm still waiting for the day to see snow up to the second story windows...or even first story windows.  I'm sure I'll be waiting a long time!


Another Virginia E Burton classic....although this isn't quite as classic as Katy or Mike Mulligan, it is still a very cute story and very endearing. 


This actually isn't a book I read as a child...but I loved reading it to John.  The drawings are so simple and the story is engaging.

Now, check out everyone else's favorite literary suggestions. 

post signature


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...