Tryazon: Cool Maker – My Style Party!

We had a Cool Maker My Style Party earlier today with some friends and family. I didn’t get a lot of pictures just because I spent so much time fixing the machines and getting projects set up. This is not going to be like a lot of my other reviews or Tryazon party posts. Let me make that clear right now. The entire event was a disaster from start to finish.

Let’s start with the KumiCreator. This machine is cool. HOWEVER, the thread/floss/string that comes with the machine is a nightmare. It’s super shiny/slippery and that makes it really hard to get it started and maintain the correct tension. Especially on the white spools, which have less thread as they are meant to make bracelets. As you can see from the pictures, it was a disaster. I had to pull everything apart, rewind the white bobbins, and set up the machine 4 times. Finally, when the girls who wanted the make bracelets were almost in tears, I pulled out some of the empty black bobbins, wound them with embroidery floss, which is not shiny or slippery, and set the machine back up. They were able to finally use the machine without unwinding the bobbins, catching, or having the tension freak out.

The machine comes with the supplies to make up to 5 trendy bracelets and 2 necklaces! That’s 56 thread spools, 7 beads, and what they call a design book. I’d call it a pamphlet.

Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Next up is the Cool Maker Stitch ‘N Style Fashion Studio Sewing Machine Toy. OY VEY. I can sew, I’ve been sewing for over 20 years. I made a living full-time as a sewing and design professional. This toy is…. not good. It is a toy. It does not have a bottom bobbin, so it does a weird, loose stitch that easily ravels apart.  This machine takes 4 AA batteries (not included).

The kit comes with a piece of polyester fabric that has projects printed on it- all you need to do is cut them out and sew them together along the guidelines printed on the fabric.  Sounds easy, right?

The Tension on the machine is jacked up and the thread breaks easily (it’s pretty cheap polyester thread). When we pulled the scrunchy out of the sewing machine after it was done sewing (no foot- the machine has a sensor to start and stop sewing), the stitches all came unraveled.

After Margaret and the girls tried to make a scrunchy several times without success, I tried to give it a shot too. The stitches unraveled for me too. I now have to get out my sewing machine and make the girls custom scrunchies, as they are so disappointed that the machine didn’t work like they hoped (and I hoped too).

I give this machine 0/5 stars. It was seriously so hard to find anything positive about it.

I didn’t get a group pic of this event because the girls were grumpy, and the mommas were too busy consoling upset kids. At least there were snacks.

I’ve been part of the Tryazon community for years and this is the first time I’ve been disappointed with the products. I’m going to take the sewing machine apart and give it a tune-up and see if that helps. I’ll also put a different thread on the spool and see if that helps. Using cotton thread may help.

These toys are available for sale at Target, Amazon, and Walmart if you want to give them a try.

 

 

Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

7/22-7/23 OOLY Warehouse Sale in Carlsbad, CA!

This sale has been on my calendar for weeks and I has to share it.

I love Ooly. Never heard of them? Ooly, the whimsical and colorful arts, crafts, and school supply brand, will host its annual warehouse sale at OOLY Headquarters in Carlsbad July 22-23, 2022.

The woman-owned, San Diego-based company, will invite the community to its headquarters to take advantage of deeply discounted products ahead of the back-to-school season. With a portion of the profits benefiting ArtReach and Casa de Amparo charities, the annual event will also feature a craft activity area complete with OOLY favorites for visitors to enjoy. 

Where: OOLY Headquarters 5607 Palmer Way Carlsbad, CA 92010

When: Friday, July 22 from 12:00pm-6:00pm & Saturday, July 23 from 9:00am-3:00pm

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the following local charities. Both will be in attendance to highlight their work in the San Diego community.

ArtReach With a commitment to bringing art alive for children and classrooms, ArtReach empowers children with creative play and uniqueness. www.artreachsandiego.org

Casa de Amparo  supports those affected by and at risk of child abuse and neglect, through a range of programs and services that promote healing, growth, and healthy relationships. www.casadeamparo.org

ABOUT OOLY: OOLY is a whimsical and colorful arts, crafts, and school supply brand inclusive of an array of expressive and creative items for kids, adults, and everyone in between. Known for fun and trend-forward products, OOLY sparks imagination and inspires self-expression, inviting you to CREATE YOUR HAPPY. OOLY is a woman-owned, San Diego-based company that launched in 2005. For more information, visit ooly.com.

Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!

Give the Gift of Creativity with Craftsy (and FREE CLASSES)!

If you have a hard to shop for person on your gift-giving list this holiday season, I recommend the gift of creativity!

Craftsy has some amazing deals this Cyber Week!

All Classes and DVDs are 75% off with coupon code CYBER75 at checkout.

 

If you are new to Craftsy and want to check it out, they also offer a lot of free classes. Here are just a few that I love:

 

Gallery glass DIY: easy faux stained glass window clings!

About 10 years ago I was gifted a beautiful set of glass dishes from a friend. They were painted with my SCA device/badge (they are blue and white with blue and white Fleur de Lis). I still have them, what I love about them is they look like they were made from stained glass.

The person who gave them to me used Gallery Glass, which is a glass paint that looks like stained glass once it dries.

I have played around with this medium myself over the past few years, and recently I wanted to decorate the kid’s windows, a mirror, and make some window clings/fake stain glass for some friends.

Before we start this DIY, all of the items that you need to make these projects, as well as some more kid-friendly sun catchers can be found here in my Amazon storefront.

I do earn a small commission when you purchase items through my Amazon links, Think about it as buying me a cup of coffee, or a taco.

Using Gallery Glass is very simple. If you have ever used puffy paint or fabric paint, you can use gallery glass. You can paint on glass, you can paint on mirrors, or any sort of clear glass dish/cup/bowl, or you can make window clings like I will be showing you below.

For the window clings, I start with a high-quality heavy-duty page protector.

Find an image that you wish to make into a window cling. I’ve done Celtic Knot Bears, prehistoric fish, unicorns, mandalas. Whatever speaks to you!

Slip the printout/drawing of what you want to make into the page protector. You’re going to use the faux leading (if you run out of this and can’t find more in town, sometimes in a pinch I will use black fabric/puffy paint). If your image is all straight lines, you can use the peel and stick leading (found here).

For this project, I used white puffy paint on a glass picture frame. The black leading wouldn’t have “popped” as much, and the white gave me the detail I wanted.

You will outline your image with the faux leading, and allow it to dry. Depending on the weather/humidity it can be as little as a few hours, or it can take overnight to dry properly.

Finished project- Gift for my dad

Once the leading has dried, select your colors of gallery glass and fill in the leaded “panes“ and allow your creation to dry. I usually let them sit for 24 to 48 hours to dry all the way, and cure a little bit so they’re not tacky. Once that time has elapsed you can make it a permanent window cling by gently peeling your creation off of the page protector and applying it to the window/glass as needed.

If you want something you can move around, then you will remove the paper from the inside of the page protector, and cut the image out of the page protector. And then place the creation on the window. The side with the page protector adhered to it will be facing outwards/not against the glass.

If you were looking for ideas for different art styles or creations for your stained glass/window cling project, check out my Pinterest board here. This is a project that anyone can do. It is a fun project, it is not necessarily good for small children, but I would say anyone probably ages 10 and up can handle it. It does take a lot of patience. And a fairly steady hand. This is why I tend to get Suncatcher painting kits for the little kid to do while I work on these. She can sit and do her “Stainglass“ craft while I do mine. These make great gifts. And they are absolutely beautiful.

The supplies can be a little expensive, but once you have them, a bottle of gallery glass will last you between 5 to 10 projects, depending on what size, and how many other colors you’re using in your project. Some local craft stores sell gallery glass products in their stores, so before you buy them on Amazon, you might try your local craft store.

My next big project is a Pride Flag for my nibling. I’ll be using a piece of clear acrylic (18×24) and the peel and stick leading, since it’s all straight lines.

Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Holiday Crafting on a Budget with Dollar Tree!

I am a big fan of homemade gifts. This year the kids and I are making most of the gifts we will be giving, and thankfully, Dollar Tree has all sorts of craft supplies to help us out.

Our local Dollar Tree has a great selection of craft supplies: Wooden cut-outs, acrylic paints, decals, stickers, wreath making supplies, glitter paint, gems, beads, you name it.

This week we have been painting Christmas Tree Ornaments.  We’ve got a bunch of acrylic paints in our craft cubby, and I let the kids go wild.

Over the weekend I painted laser-cut pineapples and a laser-cut pineapple light- all from Dollar Tree. As part of our holiday crafting, the kids are I are making a photo frame- We painted it, the next step is to trace and paint their hands on it.

If you are on a budget and wanna get crafty this holiday season either to give as gifts or to decorate your home, check out Dollar Tree either online or in-person (following all social distancing regulations for your area).

Exploring Free Play- Fostering Imagination and Growth

As a Gen X parent, I never quite understood why we “had” to fill our kids afternoons and free time with 10,000 activities (sports, club meetings, scouting, etc.). My brother and I didn’t have tons of stuff each day after school. By the time I was in the 5th grade, both my parents worked, and frequently we were left home alone for a few hours after school a couple times a week.

We did our homework, played, read, and did chores. Even before that, there were plenty of times where we were home without structured activities. We still had scouts, soccer (my brother did AYSO for one season and decided it wasn’t for him), Key Club, Choir, JV Football. Many kids in my generation were latchkey kids and filled their afternoons with free and imaginative play.

Free play is an incredible learning tool for kids. It fosters imagination and gives kids opportunities to discover and explore. There are all sorts of toys that encourage free play- dolls, food toys, blocks, legos, to name a few.

My two love Playmobil. Playmobil is a German company that has been around since the 1970’s. They have so many different sets and types of toys- everything from princesses and fairies to knights and safari sets.

A jungle adventure after preschool. Complete with a feast

Recently, my son and daughter started pulling out some of their people as well as some of the animals and created their own adventure. Enter Carl the Mongoose and Mr. Chicken. Carl is a Meerkat, and Mr. Chicken is a Bald Eagle, but the names have stuck.  Other characters include The Birdkeeper and The Man with the Gray Hat, and Cleopatrick (my daughter named her). All of these people are from various sets, Cleo was the only one that sort of resembles her name, as she came from an awesome set of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.

The animals and their people have all sorts of adventures. They have run a food truck, run a zoo, been on a cruise, gone on safari, hunted for wild animals, opened an iron and gold mine, run an orphanage (we have a lot of little kid Playmobil people), gone to college, gone to preschool, and taken a road trip to the “ocean” in Ohio. We paused the game for a bit to look at the US map to discover there is no ocean in Ohio, but they could go to Lake Erie instead. It was deemed the “Lake Erie ocean beach” adventure.

These adventures give the kids a chance to explore themselves and work on interpersonal relationships, even if it’s as a talking Bald Eagle and his keeper.

Even in these crazy times where nothing is certain, give your kids some time to play and explore. Taking a “brain break” (which is what the big kiddos teacher calls them) throughout the day for some playtime may help your kids more than you think.

Right now we are all home together, trying to scramble into some sort of routine of distance learning, being quiet while we all learn/work, breaks, and trying to play after school is over without making too much noise while grown ups work. It’s tough. It’s crazy. The house is messy, we’re frazzled, and we weren’t “with it” last week to follow our meal plan. But we got through it, and we’re trying again this week.

We’re all learning. And that means we should grant ourselves grace.

Be kind to yourself. Wash your paws, wear a mask, flatten the curve. Have a good week!

 

Fun with National Day: Today is National Argyle Day!

file0001631089542.jpgI bought this calendar a few weeks ago, and it lists several non-holiday “days” each day. I thought I’d share some with you each month.

I love “National Days“- they are so much fun, and some of them are really silly. It’s a great way to get the kids out of a funk, especially when there are no holidays or fun days for a long stretch of time. It’s also a fun way to teach kids little facts. For example, Pancake Day usually coincides with the start of Lent (Shrove Tuesday) .

Today is Argyle day. We are all celebrating by wearing argyle socks. Mr. has a vast array of argyle socks. I bought him these last year.

It’s also national Bubble Bath Day! The kids will be celebrating later with a “disco bath”- that’s a bubble bath with a few glow sticks thrown in. Even the big kid can’t resist a disco bath. In addition to this bubble bath, which the kids love, the big kid is a fan of these bath bombs.

Friday the 10th is Houseplant appreciation day, I’m not sure what we’ll do to celebrate, but if I figure it out, I’ll post about it on Facebook or Instagram.