Our Heart Attack*

February 10, 2012 at 8:52 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 19 Comments
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Spoiler Alert: Are you married to or related to me? Then do not read this until after February 14. (I mean it, Mom!)

So you might have heard that it’s cold here in Eastern Europe. Record-breaking cold. Politicians-resigning cold. Hair-freezing cold. (Note to self: Do not go outside until at least 90 minutes after shampooing.)

Sledding? Skating? Snowman-building? My kids want nothing to do with it. Hence, we are stuck in the house. And we seem to have lost our quiet voices. Along with any interest in sprawling on the couch and watching hours of brain-melting cartoons … despite a little, um, begging on my part.

But I still have my sanity. (Really, I do.) How? you ask.

Arts. Crafts. And empty toilet-paper tubes.

I have no idea what to do with Lego wheels. Or “easy-to-configure” train tracks. Or Barbie shoes that just won’t stay on. But give me some card stock, pipe cleaners, and a Valentine’s Day Pinterest board? And a-crafting we will go. All. Weekend. Long.

Portable hugs? Check. (No pictures because I spent the entirety of the project choking back sobs over the volume of glitter being spilled on tables, floors, and toes.)

Old crayons turned new again? Check. Lollipop and I spent an hour or so arduously peeling labels from violet-red and red-violet nubs. We chatted about how tricky it seemed. And we agreed we were thankful for cheap Romanian crayons whose paper wrappers practically slid right off. (Damn you, Crayola, and your quality product.)

“I Love You Because” books for Daddy? Check. We went large on this one and broke into our precious felt and buttons cache.  (He’s totally worth it.) We experienced a momentary setback when Lollipop and Giggles realized I had made the covers different. (“How come he got a heart button?” and “Hey, hers has two buttons!!” and so forth.) But I fixed my “Stern Mommy” gaze upon them and we moved along …

Right to the recycling bin. Toilet-paper-roll finger puppets? Check. With eyelashes.

Craft hard or go home, that’s our motto.

Well, that, and there’s no such thing as too many stickers … And if all else fails, glue it … And buttons don’t go in your nose … And it’s not over until someone eats glitter … And …

What’s your crafting motto(s)? Which do you wield better: a Lego wheel or a color wheel? And how do you pass the time when marooned with bored children?

*See, even the title of this post comes from a Pinterest pin, one I am indeed planning to implement next Tuesday.

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This post is part of MEP’s Real Women of Pinterest series. Join in as we celebrate collaborative creativity (and the power of glue guns).

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Comfortably Numb

January 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Bun, Transylvania | 14 Comments
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Binkie. Paci. Soothie. Nuk. Around these parts, we call it a nummie.

And on Monday, we lost it. Lost it.

It happened during a sledding adventure that included an hour of squishing wiggly children into scarves and socks and snowsuits. Once bundled, we eked along an icy path behind their school. Six small mittened hands attached themselves to my elbows and pockets for a little extra purchase.

Finally, finally, we made it to the hill, where children with purple hats and orange coats and blue sleds flitted around like bits of confetti from a busted pinata. It started to snow. Of course it did.

Lollipop and Giggles walked halfway down as a friend coached them on beginner sledding techniques. They got on … pushed off … gathered speed … and crashed.

Sledding? Done.

Up next? Wipe tears. Distribute juice boxes. Cluck soothingly. Count children. Count mittens. Assess potential injuries. Pick up trash. Retie drooping scarf. Count children. Count mittens. Cluck soothingly. Pick up trash. Collect wandering baby. Reassess potential injuries. Count children. Count mittens …

Eventually we felt brave enough to trek back to the car. We blasted the heater. Buckled up. And wondered why the baby was screaming.

No nummie. No nummie anywhere. Not in the seat, under the seat, behind the seat, in his pocket, in my pocket, in the bag, in the parking lot, on the sidewalk, in the school, at the top of the hill, in his other pocket, in my other pocket. No. Nummie. Anywhere.

Which wasn’t all that bad, really, because I had more at home waiting to be sterilized. (Did you really think I’d move 6,000 miles away from Target for a whole year and not bring a couple of extra pacifiers?)

What I didn’t bring? An extra clip. You know, the thing that keeps the kid from chucking his pacifier on floors where giddy bacteria can hop on for a joy ride?

And our clip? Was with the nummie. Lost. Gone. Nowhere.

So I did what any self-respecting mom without access to FREE Super Saver Shipping would do. I went to Pinterest. And found this tutorial.

It required a scant eight materials. I had two of them. Still, I pressed on and MacGyvered something together out of felt, buttons, a hair band, and a clothes pin.

Is it durable? Probably not. Are the buttons a potential choking hazard? You bet.

But does it work? Oh, yes. Oh, yes, it does. We are all, finally, comfortably numb once again.

Have you ever lost something vital to the sanity of your household? Do you improvise well? And do you think gluing AND sewing the buttons on is enough to keep Bun from eating them??

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This post is part of MEP’s Real Women of Pinterest series. Join in as we celebrate collaborative creativity (and the power of glue guns).

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Driving and Crying

January 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 13 Comments
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We knew we’d be sad if we stuck around Romania for the holidays. No family. No decorated mantle. No cranberries. (And did I mention no family?)

So we hit the road. In the rain. On highways named E60 and M1. With an equal number of children and suitcases.

Espresso with a shot of sanity.

Normally, we drive 17 hours across the States to get to our parents’ homes for the holidays. In one day. It’s a hellish, survival-of-the-fittest kind of trip with way more marshmallows, McDonald’s fries, and gas-station cappuccino than anyone needs. Plus, we wing it with activities for the kids. (Read: What do you want to watch now?)

I decided that probably wasn’t the best strategy this year.

Especially because they don’t have marshmallows in Romania. And there’s not a McDonald’s every 4.2 miles. And the gas stations wouldn’t deign to sell powdered cappuccino.

So, I went a’Pinteresting for tips on traveling with children.

Game Boys (& Girls)
First, I searched for car games I could print. And struck out. Road-sign bingo? Nope. Different signs. The license plate game? No states. Tic tac toe? My kids would never get past who got to be X.

Does anyone see a Q??

But I did find enough ideas to come up with my own Europe-appropriate games (Count the Romanian Flags) and continent-neutral ones (Rainbow I Spy). We also attempted the Alphabet Game, except we passed more sheep than billboards.

Which was equally fun.

It’s in the Bag
I also put together a special bag for each kiddo. Inside? Puzzle books. Reading books. Crayons. Magazines. Paper. Stickers (with a gentle reminder that cars are allergic). Popcorn. Pretzels. Cheerios. Goldfish. Graham crackers.

They loved these. Lollipop meticulously went through the entire puzzle book and then moved onto the magazines. Giggles meticulously ate every single snack and then dumped his bag on the floor so he could pick everything up with his feet. (Whatever keeps them occupied, right?)

Chocolate bribes: they work.

I kept the baby’s bag by me and supplied him with various snacks, books, and toys when he started to scream.  None of it really worked, except to remind him that he was still in the car and still not able to sleep and still wearing a wet diaper. But it did pass the time. For both of us.

Sweet Treats
Since no road trip is complete without sugar, I stocked up on tried-and-true Barni cakes and promised one every hour if the kids behaved during that hour. And when their treat bag was empty? They’d know we were close. No need to ask “Are we there yet?” every 37 seconds.

They still asked, of course. But they also understood both the incentive to behave and the time frame of our trip. And they were too busy buzzing on chocolate to notice my distress as we passed semi after semi with no business driving on those narrow, curvy Romanian roads.

Trimming the Tree
Since we spent Christmas in a hotel, I wanted to have some kind of tree to spruce (ha! spruce!) up the generic white walls, white radiators, and white down comforters. So I made a felt tree, trunk, and star, thanks to a glorious Michael’s-inspired care package from my mom. The kiddos were in charge of ornaments.

Have tree, will travel.

I gently suggested they trace shapes with cookie cutters. Or attempt to freehand circles. Or cut something remotely ornament-like. But they preferred the pattern-free-and-with-abandon method, creating polygonal potpourri that any Cubist would be proud of.

They loved it. I loved that they loved it. And Bun loved to undecorate it. It was perfect.

Onward, Ho!
In the end, we made five trips to five different cities. Lollipop completed approximately 2,219 puzzles. Giggles drew on the back seat with purple and green crayons. And Bun discarded about half a bag of Cheerios on the floorboard.

But overall?

There was peace on earth … and in our silver Opel.

How do you keep your kids occupied in the car? Have you ever spent Christmas on vacation? And how many Disney movies is too many?

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This post is part of MEP’s Real Women of Pinterest series. Join in as we celebrate collaborative creativity (and the power of glue guns).

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Reason #173

November 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Me, Transylvania | 12 Comments
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Reason #173 I miss the USA: Michaels.

Yes, Michaels.

Aisles and aisles of ribbon. (Solids. Polk dots. Stripes. Glitter. Wired or nonwired.) Tubs of buttons. Tubes of finger paint. Bags of beads. Yarn. Pipe cleaners. Felt. Hot glue, Elmer’s glue, fabric glue, wood glue, tacky glue, glue sticks.

Styrofoam. Styrofoam.

I better stop before I make myself cry.

See, I don’t have any of the other crafty goodness I mentioned above. I’m having to improvise. To let go of perfection. To lower my creative standards. And be cheerful about it. (You saw how that turned out with the reindeer.)

Add pages and pages of Pinterest craft ideas tempting me with descriptions like “quick,” “simple,” “adorable,” and “no-sewing required.” I’ve spent the week feeling like a big fat 3/4-inch-circle-scrapbook-punch-less crafting failure.

Felt flower tutorial: fail.
Scrap wreath tutorial: fail.
Baby footprint ornament: fail.

Like I said: Big. Fat. Feltless. Failure.  Until I saw this one.

I turned on Christmas Vacation and watched Clark fumble his way through twinkle lights as I made pompoms from one of the two precious skeins of yarn I had brought with me from the States. I wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung and wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung and wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung all the way through the pass-the-Tylenol speech.

And then I put my garland on the tree. And it was lovely.

But the best part? It’s fabricat în România. By me.

Now, what was I saying about Michaels??

How do you let go of perfection? Are you a crafty person? And what store would you miss most if you moved far away?

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I’m a Real Woman of Pinterest. So are my friends MEP and Erin. Come see what we’ve all been making and join in the fun (feltless or otherwise)!

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

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