Historic Blizzard Juno (in pictures)

I’m not sure if you heard, but we had this huge colossal snow storm here this week! And when I say huge and colossal I mean about 10 inches. Yep. The forecast called for 40. But that’s okay. They can’t get it right every time. Predicting the future is hard work. Now I know I mentioned I’m not big on snow, but this was kind of fun. Kind of. Because of all the hype associated with the blizzard that never came, most businesses were closed. Which meant as a working parent I got a guilt free snow day! (Mad props to all my peeps who got stuck working from home. This snow storm was the first time I’ve ever been thankful that I can’t telecommute).

ONE
As with all snow storms, my crew was up at the crack of dawn and ready for some light snowmanbuilding/sledding/snowballfighting/snoweating action. Naturally I had no more than walked out of my bedroom before I was dressing children in 30 layers and attempting to pull boots on over 3 pairs of socks. Juuuuust when the big kids were about ready to get outside, we noticed Mariyah’s mittens were missing. We looked high and low. Checked every backpack, coat pocket, and couch cushion crevice, until we found…. the mitten thief giggling in another room. This child seriously loves to wear her big sisters clothes.
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TWO
Once outside we found that the only mittens she wanted to wear were big sisters. Her own, not so much. Keeping mittens on a baby. The struggle is real people.
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THREE
Love my little snow bunnies.
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FOUR
In the afternoon we finally headed to the park for some sledding with friends. We have this awesome park near our house with several different sized hills. Mariyah made it down the big hill which surprisingly doesn’t look as steep in this video as it does in real life when looking down. James the daredevil went down a million times but requested I not video it because you know, “that’s embarrassing mom!” (If you do watch the video you may want to mute it first. Some impatient mother is yelling for Mariyah to hurry up because other children are waiting. That mother may or may not be me).

She was a little nervous but finally made it down the big hill #sledding #juno

A video posted by Erin Bohn (@erinbohn) on

FIVE
Is there any better post sledding treat than hot chocolate? Apparently I make the best hot chocolate ever. That’s what James’s friend told his mom and now I’m bragging about it to anyone who will listen. (Disclosure: We compared hot chocolate recipes and found that we actually both use the same recipe. 1 Hot chocolate package and 1 mug of hot water. I must have better tasting hot water or something like that.)
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Easy Personalized Valentines Day Cards

We’re pretty big on personalized picture cards. Although I did go with an evite for my big kid’s birthday party this year, I usually send out a picture invitation. I think it helps remind parents which kid is which (large class sizes and an ever changing student body make it difficult to remember who is who – at least for me anyway, and I figure other parents have the same problem). Plus it’s super cheap, and the kids and I have a lot of fun with it.

We went with a fish theme this year for our personalized Valentines cards. I only planned on doing cards for James and Mariyah’s class, but you know how my big kids react when they think their little sister is being left out. They begged for us to make cards for her class too. I caved, because I love seeing how much they adore her. And because it was pretty humorous to see them try and get her to stand still and pose for a photo with the fish bowl.

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1) Pick your cheesy quote
The kids picked their own sayings and decided on Violet’s together.
Mariyah: You are o-fish-ally awesome!
Violet: I am o-fish-ally hooked on you!
James: So glad we swim in the same school!

2) Pose for a picture
I took a few pictures of each child with our empty fish bowl (RIP Kona Noony). If you haven’t yet accidentally murdered your child’s fish and therefore do not have a spare fish bowl, just cut a fish bowl shape out of poster board and have your child hold that instead (to be honest I think this would have looked better, but my kids were set on using the real deal).

My advice on taking a picture is to take it outside on a fairly solid background so that the text will be most visible. We have a brick wall on the side of the house I wanted to photograph them in front of, but it was an icy day so we went with the front porch for safety’s sake. We snapped these pictures pretty quick since it was cold out and the kids had decided to forgo coats. James insisted on making fish faces and putting a guitar in the background of his – because he’s him.

jamesmariyahpose

3) Add the text
I used my digital camera, then uploaded the pictures to the computer and added text in. There are plenty of free and easy programs you can use on the computer such as Picmonkey or Gimp. You can also just take a cell phone picture and add the text through an app like Over or Typic.

All3Cards4) Print the pictures and secure your themed snack
After adding the text I simply uploaded the pictures to TargetPhoto and selected one hour prints for pickup (you can have them mailed to your home if there isn’t a Target nearby). I chose the 3×5 matte option. After that we headed to Target to pick up the pictures and grab the snacks to go with them. Our plan was to use Sweedish Fish for the big kid’s cards and goldfish for Violet’s card. Unfortunately they were out of individually wrapped Sweedish Fish, so we settled on Goldfish for everyone. These Valentine themed ones were just 4.99 for 25!

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5) Attach your fish
The original idea was to cut holes in the card and have the Sweedish Fish peering through as if in the tank. Naturally the little bags of Goldfish didn’t peer through in the right spot as the Sweedish Fish would have, so we cut out fish from an old workbook and taped them peering through.

fishworkbook mariyahfishcut

We attached the Goldfish packets to the back of the cards. Although they didn’t have the optical illusion we had been shooting for, they still matched the theme. Wa-la! Valentine’s day ready.

James decided to run over a few of the fish bowls with a black marker - because he's him.

James decided to run over a few of the fish bowls with a black marker “to make it look better” – because he’s him.

We did 50 cards total (21 for James, 21 for Mariyah, and 8 for Violet) and the price came in just under $15.

easypersonalizedvalentinescards

Yogurt Covered Strawberry Hearts

I’m not sure if we’ve established this or not yet, but I can’t cook. I mean I can boil pasta as well as the next frat boy, but I can’t cook anything delicious. I used to try to cook. When I was like 12. But I got banned from the kitchen for accidentally exploding pistachio pudding in the microwave. The ban was eventually lifted, until my friend and I made cookies with no regard for the difference between a teaspoon and tablespoon. I was still allowed to cook after that, but my family knew better then to eat anything I served.

Since I can’t cook and generally fail at keeping up with the other mom’s on pinterest, I came up with this extremely easy Valentine’s day treat which takes all of 10 minutes effort. Just my style.

Yogurt Covered Strawberry Hearts

yogurtcoveredhearts

Ingredients:
Strawberries
Ice Cream
Yogurt
Sprinkles (Optional)

1) Wash strawberries and cut off the tops.
This part is easy and I have faith in your abilities.yogurtcoveredheartsa 2) Cut strawberries into a heart shape.
First I cut them in half. Then I used a cookie cutter to cut the tops off into a heart shape quickly. But if you don’t have a heart shaped cookie cutter, just cut a little V into the strawberry with a knife. Most strawberries already come to a point, so making them heart shaped is easy.yogurtcoveredheartsb 3) Use your left hand to slap your right hand every time it tries to eat yet another one of those perfectly cut, red ripe strawberries.yogurtcoveredheartsc

4) Dip strawberries in yogurt and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer.

yogurtcoveredheartsd

5) (Optional) After about an hour, add sprinkles and continue freezing
This is totally optional. I mostly did it to use up some pink sprinkles that I’ve been toting since Valentine’s Day 2012. Those babies don’t go bad do they?yogurtcoveredheartse6) Once yogurt has frozen (approximately two hours) serve with ice cream!
We put it in a wine glass because we’re fancy like that.
yogurtcoveredhearts2

Bonus: If your baby is teething, they make great chew toys.

sydneymeaghantreats
If you’re looking for something even fancier this Valentine’s Day, check out my friend Sydney’s Sweet Ombre Treat or my friend Meaghan’s Red Velvet Trifle.

 

Monday Morning Coffee Talk: Snow Days

JamesCoffeeTalkThere was a time in my life when I had a love affair with a certain fellow. I would hope and pray for him to pay me a visit, talk about him constantly with my friends, and even wear my pajamas backwards because I heard that was how he liked his ladies. As much as I wished for his presence in my life, he only made an appearance 2 or 3 times a winter. Yes ladies and gentleman, I’m talking about that elusive childhood charmer, The Snow Day.

My kids love snow days. They wake up every winter morning and run to the window with high hopes that they’ll see some powdery white stuff on the ground. If there is so much as a dusting they will start putting on their snow pants, pulling out their sleds, and fist pumping at the thought of a school cancellation. This scenario usually ends in disappointment when they are reminded that a little frost on the ground doesn’t actually warrant a snow day.
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I feel guilty saying this when I know my children are in love, but I’m over The Snow Day. I’m not really sure when it happened. I think is was when I moved out of my parents home, thereby becoming the one who had to shovel the walkway. Or maybe it was when I got my first real job in a Subway operated city where we are still expected to show up to work no matter what the weather conditions (“Oh the Subway was damaged by the hurricane and you can’t get over a bridge or through a tunnel without 3 other people in your car and you’re out of gas and it’s being rationed? Well can you ask any of your neighbors if they have room in their carpool for you?” -2012 Hurricane Sandy). Or perhaps it started when I had children and snow days became a time of dressing, undressing, and redressing small people in multiple layers of snow proof clothing instead of an excuse to sit on the couch and binge watch episodes of My So Called Life. I don’t really know. But I’m done.

We haven’t had any official snow days yet this year. But a dusting began at 5 this morning. And school is already letting out at noon today in anticipation of a snow storm tonight. My kids are off the wall excited about it. And I keep looking out the window and shuddering. Ugh snow. It’s on its way, and with it bringing my guilt for being a working mother who calls out because of her children, my desire to live in a tropical location, and my tendency to over indulge on hot chocolate.

What are your thoughts on snow days? Do you love getting out there and playing in it? Or do you feel like e’ry day you’re shoveling? What’s the forecast where you live? And if you don’t happen to live in a snow infested region, any chance you have a spare bedroom I can borrow for the next few days? Talk to me on this Monday Morning!

TGIF IV

Five Quick Updates From Our Week

-ONE-
I planned a birthday party for my kids. And when I say “planned” I mean I hired some science people to come into our home and do science experiments so I can sit back and relax with a slice of pizza or 3. Pros: They do all the entertaining. Cons: I miss my arm and my leg. I’m pretty excited about it though. My kids were both kind of like “wait I wanted a sleepover party” and “I wanted a skateboarding party” and “do we really have to have another joint party?” And I was kind of like “You spoiled rotten children! Enjoy your party or pay the price!” The’ll have fun though. They always have fun when cake is involved. I’ve also officially switched over to the world of evite’s which I vowed never to do.

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-TWO-
I turned DUN-DUN-DUN 29. Yep 29. The big 2-9. It’s not so bad. I’m not used to it yet. It’s like wearing sneakers that haven’t been broken in. I keep putting my feet in and feeling funny and wanting my old sneakers back. But pretty soon I’ll be perfectly happy to wear them around town. James asked me if it was harder to turn 9 or 29. My immediate thought was 29, because at 9 you still have this whole world ahead of you. And at 29 you’re almost old. But then I remembered those terrible horrible fraction worksheets which I would never want to relive and I settled on the fact that turning 29 is much easier than turning 9.

-THREE-
I’m on the hunt for a new book. The last book I read was Some Girl’s by Jillian Lauren. You might see that and assume it means I haven’t read anything since 2010. Nope. I’m just really behind on the times (I also just finished The Hunger Games in December – so you know, not exactly an early adopter over here). If you were anything like me and living under a rock in 2010, I would highly recommend reading Some Girls today. It would be riveting for anyone, but I think surprisingly it is especially good for adoptive parents. Jillian herself is an adoptee and there are several adoption themed subplots which I hadn’t expected. If you have a book recommendation I would love to hear it.

-FOUR-
The Adoption Link Up debuted! You may or may not have realized this already depending on how many social media platforms you follow me on and whether or not you’ve blocked me on Facebook for posting the same thing 7,000 times. But I am excited and proud, so it’s definitely a big update for this week! The other hosts and I put a lot of effort into finalizing the schedule and trying to get the word out. We are all really excited about getting to know more adoption bloggers this year.

-FIVE-
This happened. And I needed to share it with someone. In case you can’t tell from the grainy cell phone picture, that is Violet going through Mariyah’s dirty clothes basket and putting on her shirt and sock. After this picture she wrapped a pair of tights around her neck like a scarf. She absolutely did not want to take any of it off and was not too happy with me when I removed her outfit at dinner time. She loves her “Yiyah” so much.
violetlaundry

Adoption Talk Link Up: Stories

It is the first week of the Adoption Talk Link Up and the topic is “Our Stories.” I’m really glad that adoption stories is our first topic because I have been meaning to write our adoption story for ages, and haven’t gotten to it. So here we go! If you have an adoption story to share please feel free to link up at the bottom of this post.

Our Adoption Story

Ever since I was a small girl I knew I would adopt. There were a couple things that led me to adoption as a child. 1) I didn’t like babies. In my mind they cried and needed a lot of attention. I thought kids were pretty cool though (since I was one and everything), so I figured I could adopt a cool older child like me that didn’t cry. 2) I was majorly grossed out by vomit. Just looking at it made me sick to my stomach. I have a vivid memory of being around 8 and declaring to my father that I would adopt older children so I wouldn’t have to clean up as much puke (because in my still developing mind, baby spit up=vomit). 3) I had learned where babies came from and made a solemn vow to myself that I would never be doing that. Yep. As much as I would like to say there was some philanthropic reasoning behind wanting to adopt when I was young, the three main reasons that led my heart to adoption were avoiding crying, cleaning, and the “horizontal hokey pokey” if you will.

As I grew older my reasoning evolved. But I still stayed pretty set on the idea of growing my family through adoption. When I was in my senior year of college I talked to a friend about becoming a foster parent. She had started fostering at the age of 23 and it was something she was passionate about. “Don’t you have to be an old married person?” I remember asking her. “Nope, you just have to be a person” she responded. The seed had been planted.

After college graduation my boyfriend Rob and I planned to move in together. We had been apartment hunting for a one or two bedroom apartment. In my heart I knew I wanted a two bedroom to be a foster parent, but was afraid to bring it. When we found a two bedroom apartment that we both liked I remember saying, “it’s spacious, and affordable, and on the first floor so easy to walk the dog…. ohhh and did you notice the spare bedroom? I was thinking maybewecouldbefosterparents…” the words came tumbling out of my mouth unexpectedly. The look my 22 year old, recently graduated, unmarried boyfriend gave me was exactly the look you are imagining. After he picked his jaw up off the floor we agreed to sign the lease.

A few months later we did decide together to become foster parents. Just days after completing the licensing process, before our official license had even arrived in the mail, a caseworker called us about a brother and sister in need of a placement. At first we were unsure about taking two children, as our spare bedroom was very small, and we weren’t sure we could handle two. When the children’s caseworker mentioned splitting them up we instantly agreed to take both.

littlebohns

The brother, James, was almost 4. The sister, Mariyah, had just turned 1. The plan from child protective services for James and Mariyah, as it usually is in foster care, was to be reunified with their birth mother after she completed her case plan.

Adjusting to being a parent for the first time was a little like adjusting to living at the North Pole. It looked extremely beautiful in pictures, felt very isolating, and there wasn’t much to do besides eat cookies and play Candy Land. (Disclosure: There may be other things to do in the North Pole. Like watch Polar Bears. And drink wine. You can do those as a parent too. If you can get it together to go to the zoo or the liquor store which I couldn’t for several months.)

[Read more…]

A Few Easy Organizational Tips for a Tidy Household

organizationaltips

I thought it might be fun to put together a list of easy organizational tips that we implement in our house to keep things running smoothly. I spent around 20 minutes just peering in to different cabinets and closets trying to come up with the very best for this post. My standard takeaway was that most spaces in our house could use a little work. Figuring I still had something I could share, I decided to consult another member of the family.
Me: If we were going to give organizational tips, what would they be?
James: Memorize where your stuff is supposed to go and put it there.
Me: Ohhh thats good! What else do you have?
James: Why do you ask?
Me: I’m trying to help people get organized.
James: You’re giving organizational tips to others? Are you sure that’s a good idea mom?
Me: Of course! Who wouldn’t want organizational tips from our family?
cleanhouse

1) Memorize where your stuff is supposed to go and put it there.
This is James’s tip and he is clearly a pro at it. In case you can’t tell this is the bookshelf space between his bed and the wall.
jamesbookmess

2) Implement a paper rack
A few years ago we got one of those paper sorter things from Ikea. The top shelf is mine. The center shelf is James’s. The bottom shelf is Mariyah’s. We put the things that each of us need to do on each shelf. For example permission slips, bills, etc go on my shelf (and apparently library books and children’s artwork). Homework, study guides, and birthday invitations go on the kid’s shelves. It’s a great system but tends to be a little bit top heavy. That library book may or may not have been due last fall.

paperorganize

3) Have your children sleep on top of their covers.
Mariyah came up with this one a few months ago when she decided that making her bed every morning took far too much effort. “How exactly does this keep one organized?” You might be wondering. Well this handy little work around cuts down on dirty laundry (since you always have clean sheets) which eliminates the need for spares in the closet. No extra sheets means no linen closet to keep orderly. Instant organization. Bonus: Also eliminates that whole “make your bed!” argument that some families are prone to every morning.
mariyahbedmade

4) The Junk Drawer
I have this tendency to lose things. The stamps? The tape? The phone charger? Never where I want them to be. The most fool proof way to keep track of these little buggers is definitely the junk drawer. Die hard organizers may believe that those things should have an assigned spot in the house. I believe that assigned spot should be in the junk drawer. (Full disclosure: most drawers in our house are junk drawers.)junkdrawer

5) Create can art
I know I’m not the only one who is guilty of going a little overboard at the can-can sale every January. If you are anything like me and have come home with far too many cans to fit in your cabinet, organizing them can be a bit tough. Just stack them on the counter like a piece of modern art. Who needs a Warhol when you’ve got a shop rite?
warholcans

Monday Morning Coffee Talk: Martin Luther King Day

MariyahCoffeeTalk

Growing up every January in school we were given the standard assignment to write out our dream. In the younger years the papers had a blank spot at the top for a drawing, and a line or two for text at the bottom. In the older years we wrote full on speeches. They always started the same “I have a dream….” and then we filled the rest in with our dreams for life.

My kids have received the same assignment each year. This year Mariyah wrote that she had a dream to be a doctor and help make sick people better. Last year she wrote that she had a dream to eat cake everyday. James tends toward more humanitarian dreams, in third grade his paper read “I have a dream that there will be no more murdering.” With an accompanying picture that included both blood and guts. I pointed out that perhaps a picture of no more murdering should show a bunch of happy smiling people. He told me that was too boring.

My dream as a parent is for my beautiful children to grow up in a world where they really are racially equal. We have come so far, but we have so much further to go as a society. I want them to grow up comfortable, strong, and proud of their skin color.

My kids are home from school, and things are a bit rowdy this morning. We’re going to head out soon for some Martin Luther King Day festivities. But first I’d love to hear what your dream is. It doesn’t have to be race related. If your kids have had this assignment in school, what have they written about? Talk to me on this Monday Morning!

Matching Sisters

 

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My girls are really in to wearing matching clothes. And when I say “girls” I mean Mariyah, since at this point in Violet’s life she would rather be running around in her birthday suit. Finding matching outfits for them is harder then you might think. Since Violet is in infant sizes and Mariyah is in girls there are few stores that carry things that will fit them both. Many of the well known brands like Gymboree, Children’s Place, and Oshkosh have very different prints and color schemes between the different sizes.

When Mariyah first started asking for matching clothes last Spring I had a heck of a time finding anything. She said it was important to her to be matching, because she wanted to make sure everyone knew that Violet was her sister. Obviously that is the kind of thing that will tug a mama’s heart strings and send her on a shopping frenzy. I admit I have gone a little crazy on the matching stuff over the last few months. Unfortunately I realized today that I haven’t gone crazy enough on the picture taking.

-ONE Cherokee from Target-
This was actually the first matching brand I found. After spending several hours at the mall checking H&M, Gap, Gymboree, Crazy 8, and every other kids clothing store I gave up and headed home. I stopped at Target on my way for a gallon of milk (because you know that’s all I go to Target for). While passing the children’s section I noticed a cute pair of shorts with a purple and white print on them. 30 seconds later while passing the infants section I saw the same exact pair of shorts. At that point I had given up hope of finding anything that matched outside of the internet, so of course I bought them on the spot. Now Cherokee doesn’t have a TON of matching stuff, but they often use the same colors and patterns across sizes. So for example in the photo below its the same Turquoise dye color. This is awesome for when you’re attempting family pictures and want everyone to match, but not be TOO matchy matchy.
matching1
-TWO (and three) Jelly The Pug and Corky’s Kids-
I know I’m not the only parent out there who loves Zulily. If you haven’t joined (which I think just about every mom in America has) it’s a fun website that has deals on kids clothing everything. Two of my favorite brands they often have sales on are Jelly the Pug and Corky’s Kids. Now it pains me to admit that for all the adorable dresses I bought my girls last summer, this was the ONLY picture I could find. Ugh. The fabric patterns are super cute close up and the styles have a nice, whimsical feel.
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-FOUR Baker by Ted Baker from JC Penney-
Baker, which is a brand carried by JC Penney, offers a consistent line between infants and girls. The only problem is you have to run back and fourth from the one side of the store which has girls, to the other side of the store which has infants. Mariyah had originally been hoping for the green sweater to match these dresses. After heading to the infants section we found they were sold out in Violet’s size. Mariyah then settled on an orange sweater in the infants section, headed back to the girls section and they were sold out in Mariyah’s size. Mariyah finally settled on the pink sweaters. And I vowed to do any and all future JC Penney shopping online. I love these outfits though. They have been our go-to dressy outfits for weddings, unnecessary graduations, and just generally lookin’ purdy.
matching5 matching6-FIVE Tea Collection-
The Tea Collection has been one of my long standing favorite brands. You really can’t beat the quality of their clothes. We’ve bought dresses from Tea for Mariyah, that despite being washed, worn, and spilled on numerous times, are still in excellent condition to save for Violet. Tea Collection is definitely my favorite place to buy the girls matching clothes. We just got these adorable dresses last week during their semi annual sale. I’m kicking myself because the sale’s even better this week, you can take an extra 40% off sales prices with code TAKE40. I think I might go back and buy a few more things.

matching3Where I’m linking up.

 

Adoption Talk Link Up Schedule

The Adoption Talk Link Up starts next Thursday, January 22nd! After that we will be hosting the link up on the first and third Thursday of every month. Feel free to save the below image for your reference. Just right click it and select the save option.
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Anyone involved with the adoption triad or foster care in any way is welcome to join (even if you are just starting the process). The first link up topic is hopefully an easy one, we would love for everyone to link up their adoption stories. If you’ve got thoughts to share, we want to hear them.

A few things to consider:

1) Be respectful of others. Adoption can be a sensitive subject, and opinions may differ from your own. Please be respectful to everyone.
2) Try to read and comment on at least one other post. The point of a link up is to mingle and meet other bloggers. Have fun and check out a few of your fellow blogger’s posts.
3) Feel free to link an old post. We know you may have already blogged about some of the topics on our schedule. If you would like to link something you have already written that is just fine.
4) I would still love to have an adoptee host. I’ve asked a few of my blogger friends but none have been able to thus far. If you know of anyone PLEASE let me know.
5) Follow Your Hosts. No need to follow everyone on everything, but make sure you follow in enough places that you’ll be reminded to link up.

Erin @ No Bohns About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Jamie @ Starfish Confidential | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Jenni @ Joyful Journey | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
Jill @ Ripped Jeans & Bifocals | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Tamara @ Adoption Mama Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

6) Grab a button for your post or blog to help us spread the word so that other adoption bloggers can join in the fun.

No Bohns About It

And that’s it! We’re excited to see you next Thursday!