wrapping paper crowns and storage boxes edited

“When are we going to make princess crowns?” This is what I hear as my four-year-old daughter, Adalyn, comes into the kitchen where I’m slaving over a gourmet meal of hot dogs and mac and cheese. This was the first I was hearing of the request to make princess crowns, but that didn’t stop her from making it sound like I was behind on meeting her demands.

While I don’t normally give in to her requests so quickly, I remembered that I had just purchased some pink wrapping paper for another project (see below) and thought maybe I could kill two birds with one stone (that’s such a morbid saying).

So, I got out the wrapping paper, some rainbow duct tape I bought for the cheap storage boxes I was going to make later in the week, and I began creating a princess crown.

First, I cut a strip of paper and measured it around her head. Then I put a strip of duct tape on the top and bottom of the strip to reinforce the designs I would cut out later.

wrapping paper and duct tape 1 edited

I quickly Googled what a crown looked like and tried my best to replicate the design. She wanted it to be “sparkly,” so I found some sequins in my craft box and helped her glue them on.

decorated crown edited

Here’s a picture of my little princess sporting her wrapping paper crown.

princess ady edited

After hers was complete, she decided we should make one for her little brother who was napping. I used some boyish paper I had in the closet and box tape instead of duct tape for the inside. He was excited to be included when he awoke from his nap, but decided he would be a pirate king. He’s saying “arrr.”

asa the pirate king

So, there you have it. Cheap crowns that were probably trampled by the next day. But anytime I can cheaply indulge my little girl’s imagination, I am willing to try.

Cheap Storage Boxes

My daughter’s closet had become a disaster of knick knacks, old clothes and puzzles that were taking up too much room and were not easily accessible. So, I decided I wanted to find some storage solution. Because buying pretty storage boxes wasn’t in my budget, I decided to make them.

Step 1: Gather up all of the ugly diaper boxes from the garage

edited diaper boxes

If you don’t have a plethora of diaper boxes, seek out a diapering friend or ask the grocery store for some extra boxes.

Step 2: Cover the boxes with wrapping paper

edited box with wrapping paper

This was a learning process, and the last two looked better than the first two. I sort of wrapped them like a present and folded the excess paper over the sides.

Step 3: Place colored duct tape around the sides.

edited finished box

This isn’t necessarily a must for every box, but I thought it made the boxes look cute. And Ady is very into rainbows, so it worked. I also added a stick-on, vinyl, chalkboard label so that I could change the box’s purpose if I so chose.

Step 4: Weed through the mess and put the boxes to good use.

closet boxes edited dollhouse box edited

I threw away a lot of things we didn’t need and consolidated. I also put some of the puzzles in plastic bags if their boxes were falling apart. I also used one of the boxes to hold all of Ady’s dollhouse furniture and accessories that usually end up on the floor by the end of the night.

There you have it. Cheap storage boxes that will help simplify (if that’s even possible) your life.

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5 Things to Do While You Wait for Your Prescription

Trapped. That’s how I feel when I’m sitting in line at the pharmacy, waiting for a prescription. There’s no one in line when you pull up, and you think, ‘Wow, I might actually get out of here before my youngest child graduates from high school.’ Even pulling up to the window gives you hope because the scrub-wearing staff member is holding the tin can-sounding phone that makes you think you might be next.

But, then, it happens.

After telling you they’ll be right with you, your wait begins. So, I’ve devised a list of things you can do to pass the time while you’re waiting for the sweet relief of death or for your prescription to be ready.

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1. Shop online. Maybe if you order your prescription online it will get here faster.

2. Catch up on all the texts you’ve ignored…nah, maybe tomorrow.

3. Gather up all of the trash in your car. Find all of the lost cheerios, discarded sippy cups, crushed styrofoam Sonic cups, stray socks, sticky-paged books and Barbie shoes, and put them all into a grocery sack you will throw away as soon as you get home. Oh, you don’t have a grocery sack? Just put the trash back where it was.

4. Play the license plate game. As other cars in the second lane of the pharmacy drive thru come and go with their prescriptions, see what exotic places they might be going to or hailing from. It could be somewhere exciting like Oklahoma.

5. Look for shapes in the clouds. Relive your childhood days by finding hidden gems in white, fluffy clouds. There’s a dog chasing a cat. There’s a race car. Oh, wait, that looks like your car. And it’s waiting in line at the pharmacy. Well, forget this.

How To Keep Your Kids From Getting Sick

There’s nothing worse than being awakened by a still small voice saying, “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” Mostly because that voice is usually followed by a projectile body fluid and days of soggy tissues, stain remover and sleeplessness.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these helpful tips, and you too can avoid certain couch fabric destruction.

1. Stay On High Alert

Peruse Facebook and other social media outlets for signs that kids in your area are fighting a “bug.” Contact your local health department and find out if any of those previously-eradicated diseases have come to your area. Sign up for health alerts from all of the 24-hour news networks, just in case there’s another outbreak of SARS (hey, it could happen).

2. Seal the Perimeter

Put all socializing and interacting with people on immediate lockdown. No children in and no children out. Germs can’t hitch a ride on Johnny’s dripping nose if Johnny’s not allowed inside your home.

3. Sanitize Everything

If you must leave the house, make sure germs cannot breach the perimeter. Use as many cart wipes as it takes to assure yourself that all of the germs leftover from the man with the hacking cough have been terminated. And make hand sanitizer available at all times—belt clip, keychain, cup holder, bathroom sink, kitchen table, tree house.

4. Never Touch Surfaces With Your Bare Hand

Bathroom door handles, toilet flushers, plastic utensils in an open cup and elevator buttons can all be handled safely with an extra paper towel or an extended shirt sleeve.

5. Realize Your Efforts are Futile

Once you have done everything humanly possible to create a germ-free environment, you will realize that those little germ carriers you call children will inevitably lick the shopping cart handle before you’ve sanitized it, drop their toothbrush in the toilet and continue using it and share a lollipop with the kid at the doctor’s office.

Just take a deep breath…and hold it. You don’t want to get sick, too. 

My Hometown

When I first moved to Belton, Texas I was a bonafide city girl used to the familiarity and convenience of all of my favorite stores and restaurants within five minutes of home. I loved UMHB, and I knew it was where I belonged, but the thought of living in Belton really scared me.

At first I didn’t even think of it as “living in Belton.” I lived “on campus.” It was a magical place that had all of the comforts of home in a controlled environment. I could stretch my wings, but I didn’t really have to fly. But then came the day when I had to venture from my bubble and buy groceries. I was terrified. And I have to admit that for the first several months I lived on campus I would buy groceries at home and cart them 200 plus miles from Arlington and haul them all the way back in a cooler. Crazy!

But as I became more comfortable with myself and my surroundings, I began to feel more at ease with small-town life. I was no longer afraid to drive at night. Back in Arlington, I would sometimes forget to turn my headlights on at night because street lamps and glowing neon signs were there to light my way. But in Belton, it was dark. It was darkness that could swallow you up. Yes, the stars shone brighter in Belton, but I was too distracted by my apprehension to notice.

And then, in my junior year of college I met the man of my dreams. He whisked me off my feet with his southern charm and chivalry. He opened doors for me, took my hand when I exited his beat-up (sorry, honey), red pick-up truck and didn’t sit down at the dinner table until I was already seated. I have to say some of this must have been to win me over (although he still opens doors for me when I’m not buckling in a squirming toddler), but for the most part his gentlemanly behavior was a large part of what attracted me to him.

So, there I am, swept off my feet by this country boy, never wanting to leave his side. But, what’s that? He’s from a small-town, and wants to raise his kids in a small town? I have to admit, I was terrified at the notion of living anywhere but a big city (or suburb). I wasn’t used to being 45 minutes from Old Navy or 20 minutes from a decent big-chain restaurant. I wanted comfort, familiarity.

While my mind was swirling with what life would be like in a small town (I pictured livestock and lots of outdoor activities), I found myself in a small country church called The Well where I was introduced to Jared’s family. I was completely intimidated by these strong women (I wasn’t so intimidated by you Chad, sorry), and their protective nature. I was sure they would hate me. I was a city girl who was trying to steal away and brainwash their little (well, he’s not really little) country boy. But, instead of prejudices and hands pushing me away, I found love, acceptance and hands around my shoulders.

Suddenly, this life that was different than my own was starting to make a lot of sense. And as we settled into Belton, it started to become my home. It hasn’t hurt that other UMHB “family” members have settled here to raise their families as well—some city transplants like me—but I found a comfort in this new way of living. Yes, I’m still terrified of wasps and you won’t catch me hunting or fishing anytime soon, but I have learned to appreciate the treasures of my new “hometown.” From the deer who are more like pets to the way people smile at each other in the grocery store, every aspect of this small-town life has become a part of me and will someday become a part of my children’s histories.

While I sometimes still ache for the city where I grew up where I learned to ride a bike, learned to drive a car and learned how to be a part of a family, I know that a hometown is really much more than an address. It’s the place where you love and live out the moments that are more precious than anything this world can give. I hope someday my kids will look back on Belton, when they are living in cities far away (not more than 30 minutes away) and remember their childhood and their hometown with as much fondness as I do my own.

“I Trying”

It’s been a stifling, hot and humid summer in Central Texas. But last weekend, the heat succumbed to a small cold front that brought a breezy sigh of relief.

For my two-going-on-twelve-year-old, Ady, this weather meant one thing –time at the park. Her little round face and the soles of her tennis shoes lit up at the thought of walking down the street to the neighborhood playground. So, we packed up the wagon and our squirming two-month-old, and headed down the road with our slightly overweight dog panting behind us.

The playground is nothing special. It’s probably 30-years-old and desperately needs a paint job, but to Ady it’s a castle just for her. She bound through the dusty pebbles and conquered the stairs she’d been afraid to climb the last time the weather had been tolerable enough to play outside.

But as she made it to the highest point of the structure, she saw something greater to experience–the tunnel slide. With it’s height and lack of speed-regulating curves, the “big slide” was exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

“Go on, baby. You can do it. We’ll catch you,” we chanted from the opening at the end of the slide.

She peered down at us, alternating between smiling and looking like she was going to cry. She tried putting one leg down into the slide’s open mouth. No, too scary. Now, the other leg. No. still too scary. Then her arms and head. Nope. Not going to happen.

We repeated our encouraging words, but each time she attempted to go down the slide, she retreated back to the safety of the wooden platform. She trusted the structure. Even though her parents were telling her everything was going to be okay–she could do it; there was safety at the bottom of the slide–she still couldn’t make herself take the risk.

Each time she made an attempt and pulled herself back to security, she would say, “I trying.” She wanted to take the risk. She knew what she had to do to make it happen, but she was afraid.

Finally, my husband climbed up the playground equipment (in one step I might add – he’s 6’4”) and stood next to her. He picked her up, slid both legs into the open slide and gave her a little nudge. Down she went. Although the first few seconds were terrifying, there was nothing but pure joy and pride at the end of her wild ride.

“I did it, Mommy,” she said with a big smile.

This whole incident might seem ordinary. It seemed that way to me until days later when I was bringing my burdens to God. I was telling him that I was scared, that I knew what I had to do, but the risk seemed too great.

“I know I’m not there yet, Lord, but I’m trying.” There was that phrase again. I realized in that moment that I was looking at my Heavenly father through the tunnel slide. He was telling me that I could do it; that he would catch me. He wasn’t going to let me fall. But, I was clinging to my safe wooden platform.

It’s time for me to take a risk and let my Heavenly father be there to catch me. I just have to have faith that there’s joy and pride at the end of my tunnel.