Kartwheels

Tuesday, November 27 2012

It doesn’t seem possible that life could have engulfed us like this; twisting us around and spitting us out the other side into late November!  It’s been a true whirlwind of birthdays, holidays, and travels.  Of course, the added dailiness tossed in as well; work, school   programs, practices, painting (up-date on this soon), and trying to balance it all.  I try to look back, about a month ago (when I lasted posted something), and I  am not sure where one event stopped and another started.  I have a feeling that this scenario might play out throughout our holiday season, as well.  Hopefully, I will be better at documenting it, however.

In preparation of Halloween this year, beginning to feel overwhelmed, I decided (just barely), to say ‘”No” to the expectation of throwing the best costume party EVER for a third year in a row.  Saying ‘No’ meant I didn’t have to entertain and feed 60 some people while most of them were souped up on sugar and about to run rapid in the streets.  Containing my own wild beasts ~ or, I guess, pirates and chicken ~ was all I felt up to amid the Halloween chaos.  And, I truly enjoyed the event this year, more so than I remember…well, except the year our chicken was born.  Mindful of our three-year old’s Halloween birthday, we celebrated extra hard three times that week as well.  I did not think my children could handle any more sugar without numerous meltdowns and bellyaches.  So, on November 1st, I tore down all the Halloween decorations and declared all celebrations OVER.

Detox began.

And,so did the countdown to Thanksgiving…

…as did the basement painting, which ate up all of our free time (AKA when the kids are asleep) in that three-week time span.

But we ended our whirlwind in a beautiful paradise with so much to be thankful for.  So, much to appreciate and so much life to soak up.  So much time without schedules to keep, appointments to attend, and routines to follow.  So much time to focus on the importance of smiles and being together.  So much so, that computers and blog posting were farthest from my mind.

Is this place for real?

This little man was ready to explore our magical island at 5 am every morning.

From swimming with dolphins

to hunting for sea turtles,

to enjoying the multitude of colorful sandy beaches,

we packed a lot in!

And, that’s what happened to November!

I have to admit that this vacation has given me a new sense of calm; island rejuvenation of some kind.  We came back feeling refreshed to conquer our routines and schedules again, for another quick four weeks, I suppose.

Bring on the holidaze!

I’m ready.

Laura

Images: All Laura for Monkeysonmyback

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Rock On! An Educational Game

Friday, September 21 2012

When I was little, I collected sea shells, caught turtles and snakes, and made piles and piles of papers which I stapled together and called ‘magazines.’  It must have driven my mom crazy!  My kids collect rocks.  From the shiny little pebbles, to the rough and jagged larger version.  Yep, rocks!  It really used to drive me crazy.  I had pebbles in the wash machine, rocks in the cup holders of the van, in jacket pockets, in my purse, and just piling up and up.  “You don’t need any more rocks!”  I’d beg…but, boy, was I wrong!

For my daughter’s birthday last year, she received this box of rocks.  Some may have second-guessed receiving a box of rocks, but this box contained the most intricate collection of beautiful stones, rocks, and colorful game boards.  Her interest in collecting ‘ugly’ landscape rocks was blown away by this amazing assortment of geology.

The game is called Rock On! (by iLaughnLearn) and was invented when a mother of four answered her six-year-old son’s request for a geology themed birthday party.  She ordered some rocks and created a game board.  After many tweaks from the original, this Rock On! game is rock solid!  The game not only keeps the kids engaged with its brightly colored pieces, it teaches kids (and adults) while they play.

I am so impressed with the fact that the rocks are not plastic, myself.  I mean, check out this short collection of a few, my favorite the Green Calcite.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. And since the birth of ROCK ON! my children’s fascination with the earth’s elements has resulted in some amazing collections and their geology knowledge is equally amazing. But maybe most important of all, some of our best times together are now spent in nature looking for treasures the earth has to offer,” says Melissa Weisner, creator of Rock ON!  

We certainly agree!

Here are two of my kids setting out the Rock On! game.  They often spend equally as much time matching the rocks with the cards and copying down the interesting facts located on the playing cards.  This game encourages education on so many levels, and might I add, without having them stare at a computer screen or TV!

Perhaps my favorite part about this amazingly beautiful display is the container in which it comes.  No matter how scattered these rocks become, the clean up is so simple, with each rock having its place, which does not include a spot in my cup holders!

Rock on!….

~Laura

Images: Laura @ monkeysonmyback

I like sharing great finds and this educational game is one of them.  I was not compensated in any way for this write up.  

To find out more about Rock On!, click here, here, and here.

Inspiration Link~DIY Headboard

Thursday, August 23 2012

Have you checked out the ‘inspiration link’ to the right of this post?

If not, it’s time to get inspired!  We did!

Design Sponge

We are currently working on a similar headboard for Jada’s room, and are almost finished.  Can’t wait to put that puppy up on the wall and share the results!

Of course, there are two methods of thought when it comes to decorating a room, such as the bedroom:

1. Buy the bed with the matching headboard (and, possibly purchase the matching side tables  dressers, or armoires).  This is a great way to get a room furnished all at once.

American Furniture Warehouse

2. Find furniture pieces that balance out the room by complementing each other and add texture and visual interest to the room without being too matchy, matchy.

I choose the latter approach.  (This does take me quite a bit of time, however).  Mixing new pieces with older ones, and modern pieces, such as the small table, with traditional, can add visual interest to a room.  And, if we can put our personal touch on something in the house, consider it done!

You may remember Jada’s room idea shared awhile back.

Gray & Pink Room
So far, we’ve purchased the bed, the duvet, some wall art and painted the walls.  It’s coming together nicely as we pull pieces together from various sources.  But, as mentioned earlier, this method takes me a long time…it’s not one stop shopping!
So, in the mean time, here are some more great DIY Headboard ideas!
Door-Turned-Headboard
tufted headboard final
We hope to have our headboard up shortly.  Have you thought of trying a DIY headboard?  Or, maybe you were just a little bit inspired?  I hope so!
~laura
Images: All Image sources linked below picture

Planning a Shared Room ~ Final Result & Sources

Tuesday, August 13 2012

I am finally here to share the end result of the boys’ shared room, which was first mentioned w a y back in April; see that here, and here, and here.  And, considering everything (from building benches, to taking two distant vacations, from day-to-day fun), I am pleased with the speed of our progress.  That being said, why beat around the bush?  Let’s take a quick look at the beautiful bright green room beforehand, with its minimal furniture, and little storage, this room was in dire need of a revamp.

Not to mention, Big bro still thinks Little Z will sleep with him, which has not happened and is protested daily by Z.  I think Z will cave eventually since most of his toys are now stored   in this cool, newly organized, room and he has a dresser here as well.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

We are really pleased with how this room turned out.  And, in our books, the room is complete for now.  I say this knowing that at this time there is still only one boy sleeping in here full-time.  When Number 2 moves in, he will bring more toys, which will mean I get to buy more storage containers and organize again!  There is plenty of room under the bed for storage and I have already eyed up some handy low storage for the future, such as these from Land of Nod.

Storage_TubTrug_LG_Shallow_1011

I am also really considering some more book storage for when Zander moves all his books over, each his favorite so there will be no parting.  I am liking these, also from the Land Of Nod.

LockerBasket _0111

Now back to the room reveal.  Of course, we love our low storage shelf under the window that holds some books and a few baskets of toys.  The small table to the right,  fits perfectly in this strange little corner, and is used daily for Lego building.

And, one of our favorite pieces in the whole room, is the mid-century dresser that was found at a local consignment shop.  After being painted in greys, orange, and teal, this dresser has found its new home.

The stenciled numbers, in case anyone is wondering, are actually the boys’ birth dates.  They are mixed in with some random numbers.  If you look closely, you can see one birthdate, 02/07/07.  (The other birthdate is painted on the top of the dresser.) A neat way to add a little personal touch to something made especially for the boys!

Here is the Room Source List:

Bunk Beds:  Owned and painted Benjamin Moore Arctic Shadows 1559

Book Shelves above beds:  IKEA Spice racks

Curtains: Fabric is Premier Prints Storm Twill Zig Zag from Fabric.com

Bamboo Shade: Homedepot.com

Book Shelf under Window: IKEA EXPEDIT

White Storage Tub (in book shelf):  The Container Store

Floor Pillows: Made from old Duvet (PBteen still carries  this Duvet)

Small White Table: IKEA

Espresso Table Chairs: Target.com (clearance)

READ Letters/A & Z Letters: Hobby Lobby (spray paint Rustoleum Aqua)

Elephant Head: Amazon.com

Dino Sinclair Sign: Hobby Lobby

Hanging Metal Buckets: IKEA

Large Map: Wayfair.com

Duvet on Beds: Target.com  (RE Style Duvet)

Dresser Paint Colors: Drawers, Benjamin Moore Classic Grey; Outside, Benjamin Moore Silver Song; Drawer inset, Behr Citrus Blast; Stencil/handles, Behr Spring Stream
Lastly, a few close-ups of some personal touches, here and there…
~Laura

Smoothie Madness ~ Recipe

Thursday, August 8 2012

We have been really into smoothie making lately, mostly due to our new Ninja !  And, during many a concoction on our road to the ultimate smoothie, we happened upon this delicious and nutritious, ‘double-thumbs up’, blended perfection of veggies and fruits;  The Pink Drink Smoothie (I did not name this).

This was voted a favorite by my kids and they ask for it every morning.  It has some great ingredients, which, since they don’t watch me during the blending session, the kids don’t really know what is in it.  I am not sure they would drink it if they did, so don’t tell!  But it’s oh-so good, I thought I’d share.

Pink Drink Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup Orange Juice

2 heaping spoonfuls of organic vanilla or french vanilla yogurt (fat-free? you decide)

1 cup Almond Milk Unsweetened

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/2 small avocado

1 Banana

1 Peach

2 generous shakes of Flax seeds

Handful of spinach

1 1/2 Cups Strawberries (frozen)

(We add frozen blueberries if we have them around, too, but then it’s not really pink anymore.)

Directions:

Pile ingredients, in no particular order, in blender and puree to desired consistency.  (Ingredients will reach the top of the blender before blended.  Fill ‘er up!)  This makes almost 8 cups of smoothie goodness!  Our blender is 7.5 cups.  If using a smaller blender, adjust ingredient amounts accordingly!  Also, the sweetness comes from the yogurt, fruit, and juice, but we have omitted the juice altogether and just added a cup of water or extra ice cubes and it is still delish!

This Pink Drink is my secret way of getting  my kids to eat some fruits and veggies in the morning, waking their bodies up with energy and natural sugars.  And, it’s so tasty, they will never know how good it is for them either!

I hope you’ll try it!

~Laura

Images: all for Monkeysonmyback

‘Sconsin…

Fear not, Friends!  We are back!…just barely!

During our sicksteen-hour (yep, you read that right, SICKsteen), car trip home, I was reminded how painful driving for so long can be.  Perhaps it was the sick children, (Summer flu?  Really?)  or extreme Nebraska boredom that set in, but I was right there complaining and whining with the best of them.  With a good night’s crash in our cozy beds, we are ready to focus a little bit more on the fun that was had during our annual summer ‘Sconsin visit.

We sure kept busy during out trip, of course, enjoying every minute of it.  Sharing time and laughter with family and friends whom we don’t see often enough.  Here are only a few of the 250 plus pictures we took during our visit.

EAA Oshkosh

County Fair

Put-Put in the Dells

Swimming Fun/JO Family Reunion

We truly enjoyed our visit!  (Forgetting the awful drive home, of course!)  And, we are getting back to the grind around here,… well, when everyone is feeling better.

~Laura

Images: All Laura for Monkeysonmyback

Planning a Shared Room ~ Hunk-o-Bunk Progress

Tuesday, July 17 2012

Looking at this before picture again gets me really excited for what I have been seeing lately in our shared room.  Here is the refresher picture:

And our current view, a sneak peek:

I truly feel like screaming, “The bunk beds are done!  The bunk beds are done!” Which, around here, is quite an accomplishment.  I don’t recall what inspired me to try out my spray paint gun on a typical hot and gusty Colorado afternoon, (p.s. Not a good idea to spray paint in 55 mph wind gusts!) but I did, and I’d say it turned out okay.  We love the color and how it mutes the bright green background walls.  We are working on the final tweaks of our shared space as the room comes together, nicely..and, slowly.  Celebrating this small feat of spray painting bunk beds (each board individually) triple coated, of course, is surely necessary.  After finishing this hunk-o-bunk, I swore I’d never spray paint again…  Of course, that was short-lived! (Dresser reveal is on its way).

But I am proud of my accomplishments, including hauling the air-compressor to the back yard without tipping over the wheel barrow and breaking my toes!  And, the end result is oh so much nicer than the once honey-oak.

Paint color: Benjamin Moore’s Arctic Shadows 1559

Images: All Laura for Monkeysonmyback

Easy Chair Update

Saturday, June 16 2012

PetrieChairCamdenSnowS10

Ooh la la, isn’t she pretty?  This is Crate&Barrel’s Petrie chair.   You may remember that I added this chair to our Cozy Living Room Plans a while back, but dishing out the dough for this beaut (x2) with three sticky kids is simply NOT a good idea.

Which is where this, equally fantastic chair from IKEA comes into play.

KARLSTAD Chair IKEA Soft, hardwearing and easy care leather ages gracefully.

This is of the KARLSDTAD leather series.  These chairs are super comfy, and did I mention leather!  Well, we bought two of them, even though we did not like the look of the chair legs at all.  The legs look a bit, well, naked, or something.

Above is the IKEA version sitting in our living room.  I think they look much better in person, creamy, not stark white.  But those naked legs kept staring at me as I walked into the room.  I wanted to pretend I bought the Petrie chairs because I loved the look of them at first sight, so I decided to simply change out the chair legs.  I didn’t even know if it was possible at first, to switch them out.  Having googled the question, I found specialty sites on the web related to this exact issue.  The chair legs on the specialty sites were not exactly what I was looking for,  too ornate and colorful, but overall inspiring.  Heck~ I decided to just go for it after I found an Ebay seller, Wholesale Upholstry Supply, who sells similar chair legs to C&B’s; only not black.

I ordered the 6 inch legs, tapered.  After two rounds of spray on Zinsser Primer, and two coats of Rustoleum spray on semi-gloss Black, we have this:

And,  I love KARL’s new legs!

We are happy with the new modern, dark look of KARL’S legs.  The chairs look so similar to the C&B version now, too.

Oh, and did I mention they have easily wiped clean of all messes, from syrup to peanut butter  to markers, that the JAZ team has escaped the kitchen with?  This was certainly an easy update for our cool chairs.

~Laura

Images:  1) Crate&Barrel, 2 &3) Laura for Monkeysonmyback 4) Ebay seller Wholesale Upholstry Supply, 5&6) Laura for Monkeysonmyback

Planning a Shared Room ~Some Window Progress

Wednesday, May 16 2012

Did you ever get those Highlights magazines when you were little where you had to look at two pictures and try to find the differences?

My highlight is to report that we are actually making some progress on the shared room plan.  Mostly because our sleeping arrangements are not quite working, read that here.

If you forgot, here is our pistachio green car room before,

and we have some major differences to report!

Yes, this photo above was taken at night-time. ( Can somebody please tell me how to take a picture of a West facing window without getting glare?  I am not very camera savvy,  but there must be a way.)  

Anyway, I really needed to take away those short-crop drapes, although they did their duty making the room very dark, the blue on the green was too intense for me.   The actual window blinds, which are ‘glared out’ above, are the white, slat cut-to-order kind from HD.  Now, as convenient and inexpensive as these can be, they are really frustrating when your child manages to twist every string making it nearly impossible to open them.  I replaced them with another inexpensive HD product, bamboo blinds.  In an effort to maintain extreme room darkness, I glued the back of these bamboo bad boys with some blackout fabric…so far so good.   And, how about those zig zag no sew curtains!?  Aris said it looks like superhero lightning and so I went with it.  No sew, who knew!?  (Would have been much faster with a sewing machine though).

We think they are pretty sweet.  And, I am really liking the calming gray color.

If you noticed, the bed frame is also missing in the picture above.  We don’t always make our children sleep on the floor, however, it is surprisingly comfortable.  The bed has been taken apart, sanded, primed, and sanded again in an effort to paint over the honey gold wood.  I must confess that I bought myself a Mother’s Day gift this year; a paint spray gun.

I am excited to use it.  I am sure there is a learning curve, so I am starting with something that doesn’t have to be perfect; the boys’ bunk beds.

Well, we are bending over backwards about our bed room progress!

There is much more to do and will be more to report soon!

Images: 1,2, & 4) Laura for Monkeysonmyback, 3) Google Images

Sometime Around Midnight~From the Toddler World

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Last night I woke, in the fetal position, my right ribs aching, cold.  It took me a while to remember how I had gotten to be there, sleeping on a wooden railing, without covers…little tufts of hair tickling my nose and the sweet sounds of Z’s breath; in and out, in and out, shallow and calm.  I was in his toddler bed.

As I woke up and realized that I actually fallen asleep with him, I remember how this came to be.  It was sometime around midnight that his sweet, quiet voice chirped through the hum of our room fan startling me awake, “mommy?” as to ask if I was there or not.  In that moment,  I stirred to see which kid it was, mostly still asleep and cozy in my bed, (my bed with the thick duvet and the double pillow top mattress) I felt my eyeballs as hard as marbles trying to focus in the dark, “mommy?”

Of course, I kind of knew this was going to happen at some point.  The start to Toddler Bed World was much too easy.  The child was saying good night and only getting up once to open his door and spy on  his older siblings checking to see if they were yet asleep.  Just once.  But the urge seemed to grow, and grow, and over the last two weeks he has turned into a full-blown insomniac!  Fighting rest time and bed time and  any time that means he has freedom to decide whether to roam the halls in the glistening moon light or lie down and sleep like the rest of the house.

And so, I ripped off my cozy comforter, and stepped out into the cold night house air.  “no mommy, want to sleep in your bed.”  I ignored this request, pretending I did not hear, and took his little hands, gave him a hug and told him we are going to get used to his big boy bed guiding him back down the hall.  He was resistant, pulling in the other direction, but we made it and lied down.  I tried my best to get my 5’5″ frame in his 4 foot bed;  Me (fetal), Zander, 5 stuffed doggies, one small blanket, and the toddler bed.  My eyeballs hurt.  He mumbled something….

Then my ribs hurt and I was suddenly awake, and confused. I realized I was in the toddler bed.  Of course, this bed has rails to make sure you don’t fall out, which I apparently was sleeping on, and a mattress, hard, the same one that Zander slept on since he was a  newborn.  In that moment, I needed my bed back.  I needed my thick duvet  that I pull up to my chin and my the double pillow top mattress…..but he was so peaceful.  Asleep.

I wondered how long I’d been there.  Not more than 10 minutes, I guessed.  I slowly got up, trying not to disturb the peace, feeling my knees crack as I straightened them, and slipped back down the hall.

Now, I glared at the clock quickly counting how many hours were left in the night before 5:00am.

1:45am

So much for 10 minutes!  I cozy-up and turn over and drift to sleep feeling accomplished and thinking that I had won.  But the battle had just begun…

Click-Clack BAM!  A sound echos through the house and I am awake!

In that moment, my heart was racing!  My eyes jolt open, still hard like marbles, like I had never fallen asleep.  I felt myself get hot, my blood flowing.  I turned to look at the clock.

2:20 am

Zander opened his door and shut it.  Will he lie back down when he sees the dark night?  I doubted this.  I heard the click-clack of the handle again, and then he started to whimper, like he suddenly couldn’t figure out how to open the door in the dark.  My bed felt extra warm, of course, and oh so cozy with the covers all drawn up around my chin, my ribs happy…but, before I knew it, I was up, and out, in the cold house air once again, tripping and walking toward the silhouette of a child now standing in the hallway. “can’t find Buddy,” he said.  Simple enough.  This darn blanky will be found and off to bed!  Buddy had fallen behind the bed.  I found it.  Tucked him in and said goodnight.

And, so goes the rest of the night…

3:30 am

Click-Clack, Click…

Seriously?

He’s standing in my doorway now.  My body aches, this time with sleeplessness.  I don’t move.  He lays down in the doorway on top of Buddy.  Oh, how cute he is, in that moment, so wanting to be ‘Big’ but knowing his freedom will get him so much closer to a cuddle in a much cozier place.  How can I blame the kid?  Really, I can’t. 

(He has slept in our bed whenever he needed, for a few hours here and there.  Usually, it’s just a belly ache or teething or travels that screws his sleep patterns, all understandable things.  But this, this is inability to resist his craving for mommy, and his new-found freedom.  In that moment I became the enabler, too tired to fight it anymore.  Really, it’s been 3 hours since he was slept soundly!)

I still don’t move.  I can see him, but he can’t tell I am looking.  He picks his head up and whispers, “mommy?”  from the doorway floor: as if to ask if I was really there or not.   I stir a bit and open my covers…he pops up and jumps to his feet and runs to the bed, softly and slowly climbing up and cuddles in…

In moments, tufts of hair tickle my nose once again as his sweet breath goes in and out, in and out, and he is asleep!  Spooning me, I wrap my arms around him.

That little stinker!  He totally won.  I was defeated with his sweetness, his talent to win me over.  His stubbornness.  But who could blame him?  Now he’s gotten another taste of the ‘good life,’ in the bed with the thick  duvet and the extra soft double pillow-top mattress. My Bed, not his bed…  we will have that talk tomorrow....

Before I fall asleep, I look at the clock.

3:41 am

The Three-hour Battle was over.  I succumbed to my defeat as his little breath turned into sweet snores…

Around four o’clock, my husband stirred, as he normally does around this time, and noticed the little man in bed with us.  He scooped him up and carried off, back to the world of the Toddler Bed.

I know that Three -hour Battle from last night is far from over.  I have a feeling it will continue for nights and nights and months and months.  What’s a mother to do?  Cuddle them or make them sleep on their own…I know the answer is different for everyone.  I know my answer.  I never truly fall asleep with him in the bed.  Plus today, I am really tired.  My decisions around this situation in the day time often play out differently in the night-time.  Therefore, I am sure the battle  will be revisited, tonight, with a little silhouette of a boy poking around my room, chirping out into the moon lit night, “mommy?”

…probably sometime around midnight.