Spring Cleaning! Re-Use Ideas for Kids and Home

Spring Cleaning - Add Color
It's spring-ish in Alaska! I'm donning my mud boots and old coats for the dirty leftover snow and dusty dirt that is piling on all the roads and everyone's cars! It's not such a beautiful season until you get deeper in the wild...but c'est la vie!

I'm cleaning out all our old clothes - trashing that which is beyond repair and giving to good will that which is salvageable is my routine, but I'm thinking I may try some new things this year in the spirit of being more green and earth friendly.

There are billion ideas for using old jeans and old tee shirts - If you google jeans crafts there are a myriad of good ideas out there. I'd really like to try a jeans quilt some day. 

A lot of the following ideas are from Rookie Moms and are awesome and genius!

Toddler dress from an old men's shirt - link
Toddler boy pants from an old tee shirt - link
Boy's pants with matching tie - so cute
Alter an old board book
Make boy shirt into girl shirt
Convert a regular bra to a nursing bra
Turn photos into placemats
Use an old cd case for a brag book or cd for an ornament
And where to send anything else from this post

Oh! And an Easter basket from an old sweater for the upcoming weekend!

Scrap Paper

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Photography Portfolios for the Art Lover

Jeremy is mulling over ideas for a book. So far, his ideas are great but I don't want to spill them here. Sorry!

I started browsing portfolios of famous photographers and just got lost in the art of it all! It makes me terribly miss our college trips to the MET in NY and the Smithsonian in D.C...if we could drive there in under an hour again, I would already be gone!

Anyway, thought I'd share a few I thought were interesting...

Joe McNally - The best, according to us anyway...I could spend all day watching his videos of how he does, no, performs his photography.

Chris Jordan - Emotionally stirring (politically charged?) photos ranging from dead birds due to pollution to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Matt Stuart - Matt Stuart has a funny way of capturing people and the website doesn't slow down my Internet - big plus!

Bobby Neel Adams - Work includes age maps, which are weird and fascinating - they completely pull you in...

Faces of Hope: Babies born on 9/11 - Google books allows you to browse through this sweet reminder that babies were born on on 9/11.

Zach Hyman - Warning: Nudity. This one was in HuffPo for his recent nude shots on the subway. Interesting.

Happy viewing!
Love, Amanda & Cubs


Thanks for the Birthday Gifts!

Mon-Bon and Angel Face had their birthdays and they got way more presents than we anticipated. Jeremy and I got around 2-5 presents per birthday and Christmas and we wanted to keep that tradition for our kids since it seemed that we appreciated those gifts so much more.

Apparently, that's not going to work! We bought gifts for them, 2 for each, as we planned. One useful/learning, and the other for fun. Then, after great-grandparents, grandparents, great-aunts, cousins, 2nd cousins, godparents, and neighbors - they ended up with about 10 times what we got, which is great! We didn't think that we'd love that occurrence so much!

How can you resist these happy faces?
 Mon-bon's new hair bows...
Angel face's new 24-piece puzzle (his newest obsession)
And you can't go wrong with play-dough, especially all natural play-dough!
Love, Amanda & Cubs


Indoor Herb Garden for Battling Long Cold Winter Weather

I am really going to plant an indoor herb garden. No, I'm for real!

I kill plants. It's a special talent of mine. My mom bought me this really nice (and expensive) bonsai tree when I was in high school because I'd had such bad luck with plants, indoor and out, and it was supposed to be a hardy plant.

I killed it.

Then when my husband and I moved into one of our apartments, my aunt who is a fantastic gardener, gave me this beautiful plant with soft velvety leaves and cute little purple flowers. It, too, was "hardy."

I killed it.

Then there were the Poinsettias. I was in the giving spirit and I bought 3 poinsettias from one of those Thanksgiving charity drives and planned on keeping them until I could give them away as gifts.

I killed all 3! Before Christmas!

But now I have to get over this - I can do this. I've decided on something useful -an herb garden! I figure this is a good post about starting one since it lists the plants that do well indoors, as follows from The Frugal Life.

Herbs which will grow indoors:

Now I'm really excited and just want to get my hands dirty (pun intended! OW!) - but I also wanted to show you cute planters I found while searching for something to use...

Really Cute Planters:
An old typewriter 
Old shopping cart 
Beer drums 
An old washer 

I don't think I have anything cool to put them in, but I may just start with one plant...no reason to go overboard here knowing my history with plants...eep.

 A plant my MIL is keeping alive...so close and yet so far!

Love, Amanda and Cubs


Friday - Elijah will be 3!

My first baby is 3 tomorrow! Wow, time flies! My daughter's 1st birthday was last Saturday so they are sharing a party, which will be tomorrow. Daddy's schedule is pretty crazy (he has a photo shoot before the party and will be editing photos afterward too!)

Elijah was a labor of love - 24 hour long love! It wasn't all painful - my water broke and we all took bets of how much longer it would be. I won with Midnight - six hours before I actually delivered!

One thing my husband and I always say though is that it has felt like he has been here all along - seriously, we don't remember what it was like without him. We're not those people who say we had such fun before our kids - our kids ARE our fun!

So, here is a link to our flickr pics of Elijah and below is the slideshow - enjoy!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Temple Grandin and Autism: The World Needs All Kind of Minds

Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University with a Ph.D. in Animal Science, was recently interviewed and featured on CNN.com. She is an accomplished author, sought after public speaker, and well-respected consultant of animal behavior.

She has autism.

She is amazing in so many ways and when you slap that on, wow - you feel like autism is not this zero-chance for accomplishment diagnosis. She is hope for parents of children with autism and inspiration for those with autism.

The things I really would like to happen with our schools?

1. Teachers - We (teachers - I have a degree in English and am certified to teach) complain all the time that sometimes our brightest kids do not do well on standardized tests.  All of our teachers are expected to pass tests as well = we may be missing out on the brightest teachers! Some reform on testing should happen so that more people, people who have experience, knowledge, etc are in our schools!

2. National Curriculum - I firmly believe in a national curriculum. Students with autism who move will have a better chance of success if they move to another school and basically know what to expect.

3. Methodology & Testing - Standardized testing is just not the way to pressure our schools. Teachers begin frantically teaching to the test to save funding. And the test is not disability friendly.

I was the ideal student - never had any trouble, got good grades and graduated. Most of my ideas come from my husband, who tells me what he learned from when he struggled or someone he taught was struggling. I plan on homeschooling my kids and it'll be my first experience with that - so far, it has been like trying on several pairs of shoes looking for the right one...wish me luck!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Father and Son Pinball Board Project

It's Monday and I am just dragging. Monica's birthday was sweet and I think that this week I'd like to do something for Elijah as a gift. It's his birthday this coming Saturday (I know, they're 2 years, 1 week apart) and I found this little project gem on the blog Journey into Unschooling.

For those who know me, I am a little bit of a lot of things. Attachment parent and prescribed unschooling teacher are probably the top two. I think projects are a wonderful way to bond, show interest in the child's interests, and it's not pencil-pushing paperwork or regular glue-down crafts.

Elijah learns hands-on and visually the best. I think that I can get Jeremy in on this since he has fun with these projects too. Now off to find some hardware store coupons!

Here's the link to the project!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Happy Birthday My 1 Year Old Monica!

Monica's Birthday is tomorrow and I am just elated that she is 1!

I knew Monica was a girl before I was even sure I was pregnant. All I wanted was fruit, yogurt, and cheese...and the cat smell made me nauseous...and I just knew it was a girl!

I have always wanted a daughter...I want it all - the tea sets, the matching outfits, the baking and sharing of chores, the stealing of make-up and clothes, and the mother-daughter talks...

I love Moni-moo-moo and I literally feel like she's been here all along. She fits right in and I can't imagine our life any other way.

I don't know if this is going to work! Here's a link to my flickr set of Monica's First Year! And a slideshow!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Panicky Hearts and Baby Games!

Elijah is almost 3 and Monica is almost 1 and I love watching them play together!

I posted before how Elijah has been tricking us and enjoying it thoroughly! Well, our studio leads into a boutique next door. We entered the studio and I put Elijah down, everything's normal. Elijah took off running, opened the joining door to the boutique, and just left! I'm hurrying taking off Monica's coat to go chase him and when I get over there, he's no where!

Just because I know he's in the building doesn't keep my heart from beating faster!

I call him and I call him, and finally I hear something...

*hee* *hee* *hee* *hee*

I grab my camera from my pocket after I figure it out.

Monica figures it out too...
Where are you?

 BOO! Elijah thinks he's so clever and cute...

They play peek-a-boo out from under the table for a long time!

I love how much they love to play with one another...makes my job cake (ok, well a cupcake).

Love, Amanda & Cubs


The Wonder of Childhood Memories and Car Rides

I used to love getting in the car and going for a ride. My grandpa (my grandparents raised me) was a taxi driver and he would just talk about driving, road conditions, shortcuts, and funny times with other taxi drivers. I loved it.

After a long night shift, if he really missed me I guess, he'd wake me up and we'd go find an all night diner for some ice cream or a 24-hour donut shop. He wouldn't wake up my grandma and I just cracked up when she'd scold us when we got home...school nights and such...good memories.

I wonder all the time what memories we are creating for my children...

I have these fuzzy memories of being 3 and Jeremy does too...My memories would probably surprise my mother, because all I remember are these everyday mundane things, like her washing the dishes or putting away laundry, but it was significant for me...makes me think that we don't need to try too hard or stress about it. They just want to be with you!

I think everyday "I wonder if we did anything memorable?"  I wonder what my kids are storing away in their hearts...and I kiss their noses and tickle their feet just to hear them laugh and see them smile.

Anyway, pics of us going for a car ride...

  Moni-moo-moo fell asleep. She looks so long. (Don't worry! I buckled her up right before we left!)
Love this coat from Grandma Nelly. Her sweet face is just cuddled in it.

Close up of her first shoes. She hates them! She refuses to walk in them.

We figured out how to hook up the iPhone (which he loves) in the car so it plays through the speakers. He plays when we stop at the store or bank and we have to wait for Daddy. He likes to listen to his kid music and play his games (I reviewed some). He looks older than 3 when he does this and makes me miss my baby Elijah!

Anyway, off to try to make some memories!

Love, Amanda & Cubs


Homemade Sugar Scrub

I went to a bridal shower yesterday for a friend and scored some awesome goodies in the gift bag. It was the usual I guess but my foot lotion was low and my pumice was worn so they were sorely needed and appreciated (by my feet!). And I thought that I wanted to treat my dry, dry hands after this long, cold winter to some TLC too, but I am lacking the funds.

I was in complete luck to find a mix for homemade hand softening sugar scrub! I want to try The Perfect Homemade Sugar Scrub posted on Chase N Kids in January by a mom who is also in Alaska - neat!

I love sugar scrubs and my favorite used to be one that cost $30 but since I've cut out all luxuries, I have been going without for awhile now and my hands are chaffing in the cold!

Here's the mix:

Sassy Brown Sugar Scrub
::insert screams and applause here::
1 cup –  Light Brown Sugar
1 cup – Pure Cane Sugar
¾ cup – light olive oil
2 tsp. – cinnamon, powdered
2 tsp. – ginger, powdered
2 tsp. – nutmeg, powdered
1 16 oz. – glass container with lid
Cinnamon sticks, optional

The beautiful thing here is that this works on your face as well! I don't know yet, but I'll edit in my reaction when I finish with this.
Back to all the fun preschool stuff I have planned for Elijah and Moni-moo-moo...

Love, Amanda & the Cubs