A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Days 26, 27 and 28: Repeats, Mommy Out and Mother’s Day Reveal May 17, 2010

This weekend Mommy hosted and participated in a rite of passage we all call a Bachelorette Party. Anyone who has been to a B-Party lately will tell you that they are no longer one night of partying, they are weekend long extravaganzas. While Mommy was out having fun, Daddy was on duty with the kids. You can give him his cookie now.

So, since I was for the most part absent this weekend, I’ll run through a quick retelling of the events and then will reveal the details of last week’s Top Secret Mother’s Day projects! Woot!

Day 26, Friday, Repeat: Today Zach learned the art of waiting for delayed airport guests :). While we waited for friends to arrive, we busied ourselves doing what I like to call the “Hurry up and clean! PEOPLE are coming!” dance.¬† After our guests arrived and Zach charmed them with his freshly awoken from nap shyness, he asked me for a repeat activity. And, well, I never promised we’d do NEW activities everyday. Just that we’d do SOMETHING. So, we took a repeat visit to the Car Wash, since that’s what he wanted.

Day 27, Saturday, Mommy Out: Friday evening I left to stay at a hotel with the girls. So, Pete was on duty. So here is Saturday, as told by Pete:

Actually, Pete’s entry will come later. Whenever he writes it. In the meantime, here are the pictures from what they did.

Took the "SUV" out for a spin

Went to the playground

Went to Lincoln Square

Learned to fly oak tree "helicopters"

Off it goes!

Day 28, Sunday Sundae: Sunday’s are fun for Zach because he gets to spend time in the nursery at church. It’s his time to see friends his age, play with toys, do arts and crafts and eat snacks. I am told that Zach sometimes can’t be bothered to stop playing with toys to participate in the craft, but he never. EVER. misses snack. This does not surprise me. Then after he woke up from his nap, we went for a walk as a family and got some ice cream at George’s. I ordered myself the most DIVINE chocolate ice cream in the whole wide world, Zanzibar Chocolate and got it in a cake cone. It’s a little serving of bliss and whimsy all at once. I ordered Zach his typical plain vanilla in a cup with a spoon. Today though, he decided he wanted MY ice cream. And nothing was going to stop him from getting it. So, wanting to avoid a big, public temper tantrum, I gave in on this battle and switched ice cream with him. I hope he knows how much I love him. I don’t give up Zanzibar Chocolate for just anyone.

Anyway, I so wish we’d have thought to bring the camera. He had chocolate ice cream everywhere. Up his nose. All over his face. His shirt. His arms. His hands. Man, did he love that Zanzibar Chocolate. He is his mother’s son.

And that pretty much covers our weekend!!

So, to update you on our Super Top Secret Mother’s Day Projects That Can Now Be Revealed. We did 2 handmade crafts for the 3 grandma’s. Both using items that you can recycle from your own home and probably have sitting around right NOW.

The first was Milk Jug Watering Cans. I read so many kid blogs these days that it’s hard to say for sure if I read about it or not. But I’m 99% certain I came up with this one on my own. Woot!

First. Drink a lot of milk. We needed 3 watering cans. So, 3 gallons of milk. That’s part of the reason this particular set of projects took a few days to complete, we had to go through those gallons first. Also, the 2-year-old only has a certain amount of patience for crafts. Doing 3 jugs at once was not happening, but spaced out over a few days was fine. Even if his only job was to scribble.

So, I washed out the milk jug and removed the labels. Then, I took a fondue fork and heated it up over my stove flame. I used it like a hot poker to make holes in the milk cap, arranged like you would see on a watering can. I ran some cold water over the cap after that was done, just to kind of harden the plastic that had softened from the heat.

Water holes

Before going further, I decided to test out the watering can on my own plants, just to make sure it would actually work. It does.

A working watering can made out of a milk jug

Then, I had my child use permanent markers to color on the jugs. We did this BEFORE the infamous dining room table incident and is where we got the permanent markers to use for that other project. But, I used permanent in this case because these jugs are meant to be used to hold and pour water. I figured washable markers would run right off of it eventually, especially if they get stored outside. I did attempt to make them a bit prettier with my own embellishments, but wonder if I should have left well enough alone. Oh well!

Coloring the jug


We did this times 3 for our specific number of grandmas. But you should do whatever number you need. In case you couldn’t figure that out.

Then, I tied some ribbon to each handle, just to be festive. And the watering cans were complete. Easy peasy.

Finished projects

The next project we did was coffee filter flowers. These were also super duper easy to make. I got the inspiration for our project from two sources. Here and Here.

I used new coffee filters to make my flowers, but I love the idea of recycling used ones. I certainly drink enough coffee (actually, it’s my only means of survival!), but this particular week I was out of them and so was boy scouting my coffee filters out of paper towels. A trick my roommate in college taught me. He said he learned to do it in boy scouts, hence why I called it that. So, I bought brand new ones so I wouldn’t need to do that, but did not have enough time to drink¬† enough coffee to recycle them. Make sense?

Anyway–my supplies:

Coffee filters, spray bottles with water mixed with food coloring inside


Green construction paper, a black marker and pipe cleaners and scissors (which are not pictured, oops)

First, I took some spray bottles and filled them with water. Then I added a few drops of food coloring in each bottle. This actually took more food coloring than I anticipated. Just a drop or two will instantly turn your (hopefully) clear water into what appears to be a deep hue. But, after spraying a filter or two, I figured out that it actually required more like 10 drops per bottle to color the filters properly. There is still a lot of dyed water left in each bottle after this though, so we will certainly use it for other projects.

Then, I had Zach spray the coffee filters with the dyed water. The spray bottles are actually difficult for him to use. They took a lot of pressure to push the pump down and he would get frustrated, so we did it together. I think a trigger style sprayer would be easier for the little ones. Or maybe we just had especially difficult spray bottles.

Zach spraying the filters

All colored and drying out

After the filters were dry, I took each one and gathered it around my finger in the center of the filter. Then I wrapped a green pipe cleaner (which they now call chenille stems these days, fancy huh?) around each gather to attach the “stem” to the “bloom”.

Connecting the flower to the stem

Then I just kind of spread the filter out a bit to make it look more flower-ish.

Unfurling the bloom

It almost looks like a real flower

After I created all of the flowers, I made some leaves out of the green construction paper. I folded the paper in half and drew a rough leaf shape. I drew it along the folded edge so that when I cut it out there was a crease in the middle of the leaf. This crease would be the part that wrapped around the stem. The leaves created a kind of “card” effect. I made 1 leaf per flower.

Drawing the leaves

All cut and ready to go

After Zach got up from his nap, I asked him to help me with the next part. I asked him what he loved about his grandmas. This was a little bit of an abstract concept to him, especially since his grandmas weren’t there with him. So we looked at some pictures on the computer. I was kind of prompting him, I’ll admit, but he did recognize his grandmas and answered yes when I asked if he liked the things they were doing in the pictures or things that the grandmas do when they are here.

On the front of a leaf I would write, “I love my grandma because…” and on the inside I wrote a reason (“she gives me cookies” or “she plays trains with me” or “she reads me books”, etc.). Other leaves said, “Happy Mother’s Day” on the outside and “Love, Zachary” on the inside.

Outside of the leaf

Inside of the book

If I were to do this again, I’d make the writing on the outside a little further from the crease. It got difficult to keep the glue away from the writing when I did the next step, which was to glue the leaves to the flower stems. Once the leaves were all glued on and dried, our bouquets were complete. 2 flowers for each grandma. And an extra for mommy. Because I want one.

Finished flowers

Oh Grandma, I love you just as much as I love my sippy cup of milk. Happy Mother's Day.

What did Zach learn? Patience. That worthwhile activities are worth repeating. About gravity and toys don’t always need batteries. The concept of love, even when those we love are far away. That we give gifts for special occasions.

What did Mommy learn? Once again, Daddy can handle himself with the kids, even overnight by himself. That worthwhile activities are worth repeating. That I am not 22 years old anymore (we did this cardio dance class that I am STILL sore from 2 days later. OUCH!).

What did Daddy learn? That it’s not so easy getting 3 kids out of the house by yourself in a timely fashion.


Day 14: Day with Uncle Chris (UPDATED) May 3, 2010

Filed under: family,guest blogger,hot dog dance — Erin Brambilla @ 11:46 pm
Tags: ,

Update at the bottom!!!


This post will be coming soon.

And no. I’m not a slacker. Well..OK…Maybe I kind of am. But not for this!!

Day 14 will be a very special post brought to you by a babysitter guest blogger! Wow! My first official guest blogger. I think that means I “made it” in the blogging world.

Pete and I had some stuff to do all day Sunday. Stuff that a 2 year old would NOT want to do. So, we enlisted the help of Uncle Chris to come and hang out with Zach after church. Uncle Chris will be writing today’s post!! Woo hoo. As soon as I get it, I will post it. And no, he’s not a slacker either. He’s a hip, single guy with a job and a life :).

In the meantime, I was going to embed a video of Zach doing the “Hot Dog Dance’, which is pretty darn funny. But, um…I guess I have to pay to upgrade to embed videos. And I haven’t talked to my husband about that yet. And it’s almost midnight. And I don’t think a financial discussion (small and paltry as it might be) would be in good taste at this hour :). So instead, look at this picture of just a hot dog who is CLEARLY dancing.

Hot dog!


And here is Sunday, as told by Uncle Chris:

Sunday with Zach

I always look forward to the days I get to visit Zach. It’s another day that I get to see his rapid growth and ever increasing vocabulary but babysitting him has many of its own enjoyments and challenges.

Sunday was a fun yet easy going day, Erin, Pete, Isaac and Emily were going house hunting and Zach and I were going to hang out on the town and enjoy the gorgeous day. First stop was Starbucks for the craving uncle (its hard to enter a door with a stroller, Erin, I don’t know how you manage that SUV of strollers around town), then we just went to a nearby bench and sipped on our coffee and apple juice while the town buzzed around us. I was even able to lure a pretty lady over while I was informing Zach what color the flowers were (now that’s multitasking!).

After the coffee, it was time for grilled cheese sandwiches at Georges (an ice cream parlor with a small sandwich menu), and that’s where I found out Zach’s new way of um…. displaying good manners at the dinner table. I mean, I saw him a week ago and even then, he wasn’t trying to imitate Riley eating his food. So, I found it very funny that he was diving in to his plate, face first, going after that grilled cheese sandwich, or when I’d try to hand him a piece of it and he’d try to take it with his mouth. A lot can change in a week!

After lunch at George’s we headed back to the house and both slept for about three hours (yeah, I had a late night out with a friend from out of town), and a half hour later, Mom and Dad were home!

So, yeah, it was an easy going day but for other reasons, I think he and I both learned a bit more about each other. I’ve been noticing a big difference in how Zach reacts when Erin and Pete leave him with me for the day. He just seems more happy, excited and content these days, which to me says he knows me very well. I am also understanding him better when he tries to communicate with me, I mean Erin will hear the slightest creek of a baby’s cry from across the house and know that it’s Emily and she must’ve misplaced her pacifier. But even still, the bond I am making with Zach as much an honor and gift as it is a learning experience for the both of us.

I have yet to tackle all three of them on my own and I just want to say that I give Erin and Pete all the credit in the world for what they have accomplished with these children.
OK, back to Erin here.
What did Zach learn today? Well, if I’m reading that right…how to pick up chics? LOL! I actually firmly believe that spending time away from mom and dad actually helps to strengthen his confidence in us. We always come back. He can count on that. I also firmly believe that spending time with other family members gives him perspective and builds special relationships he’ll always treasure. We wish we lived close to all of our family members, but love that Uncle Chris is here to spend so much time with us!
What did Mommy learn? To appreciate my brother more. He’s a great guy! And ladies….as of now…he’s SINGLE!!! Single. Cute. Good with kids. Values Family…If you’re taken, set him up with your nice sister or cousin!