Mommy Playdate

What started out as an idea for a cute Instagram picture turned into a full blown wedding photo shoot and what I am predicting a movement amongst mommies to relieve stress.  
Inspired by my friend’s Instagram post where she described a way cooler pretend play time with her boys after adding a doll that looks a lot like her to the mix of their testosterone-centric superheroes, I pulled my doll from the closet.  Bridal Barbie was given to me by my sister eight years ago as a wedding gift.  My husband owned a Tuskegee Airmen G.I. Joe that we picked up from a Goodwill nine years ago.   It was only natural for them to get married.  They have been living together for so long now, yeah, it was about time.

Boy did I have fun.

Along with my two boys, I pretended for a few hours while arranging these two love birds.  I hadn’t played like that in a very long time, not with dolls.  It was amazing how quickly my brain connected to the little girl.  Only now I was a little girl with a camera.  This simple act brought such joy to my heart.  This short lived moment will live for ever in my mind and in pictures. It not only lifted my spirits but reminded me of the power of images and play. When you place them together. Whoa Baby!  I foresee a lot more mommy play dates in my future.

There was a natural progression between set ups.  They became like real people with real personalities.  I was in full throttle play y’all.

I began to think of all the standard “wedding day” poses between bride and groom, like the “before” shots where couples each stand unseen on either side of a door holding hands to share an intimate prayer prior to the ceremony.  Or the “eavesdrop” shots where the couple’s private moments are captured.  Or the “reception” where bride and groom let their hair down in full celebration mode.  The ideas were endless.  If my boys had not begun complaining about food and something of the other, I would probably have a 1,000 pics instead of 250!  Don’t worry, I only shared a few on this post.

Check out the photo shoot. Do you think I can add wedding photographer to my list of skills?

The Before:

The After:

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The reception:


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The eavesdrop:

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and of course no event is complete pretend or real life without…

The selfie:

Hope you are smiling and inspired as I was to create these images and this post.

IG: @altesabaker

love,

altesa

What About Those Chairs?: Farmhouse Dreams On an Apartment Budget

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Bringing my farmhouse dreams on an apartment budget to life one DIY project at a time.

Next up: The chairs.

 

It all comes down to a vision.  When I lock into one, it’s on and the real fun begins.

Re-upholstering the kitchen chairs was one fun project to undertake especially since my vision included mismatched seating and building two new stools to complete the refinished table project.

Let’s begin with the inspiration:

This beautiful dining setup took my breath away. Besides the rush of natural light, the mix of bright and bold print along with the weathered table and chairs is a winning combo in my book.  I had to have it and since this particular print is way above my budget, I had to adjust.  Hey, I’m used to fiscally adjusting, so it’s no probs.

Next it was time to shop for prints:

I knew I wanted bright and bold floral types of print.  I always intended to use table cloths or shower curtains for my upholstery fabric since it is easy to wipe down.  I still have two young boys who have holes in their chins.   No luck with the laminate table cloths (absent of cute prints) or outdoor fabric (expensive) but found the mother lode in affordable, beautiful, water and stain resistant cotton table cloths at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross and Burlington Coat Factory.  In the end I used both table cloths and a shower curtain! (Yep. can you tell which one?) to upholster the stools and re-upholster the chairs.  Remember these aren’t your mama’s shower curtains.

Next it was time to purchase and cut wood for the 2 bar stools I was building:

The two bar stools were built using these plans from Rogueengineer.com.  Although I made my seating a bit wider than their plans called for, I loved their easy, simple, visual instructions.  As a newbie it worked perfectly.

IMG_7310.JPGFor the seats, I used left over plywood from the storage bed build project and had it cut to size at Lowes.  I also loaded up on a staple gun and staples.  Then off to buy batting and foam from the fabric store.  Since the two original chairs already had batting and foam, I only needed to cut off its old fabric, measure and staple the new.

Taking out the staples on my two kitchen chairs were probably the most challenging part of this upholstery project. Oh yeah, choosing which fabric would go where was a bit exhaustive not from intensive labor but from indecisiveness and fear of making a bad choice.  In the end, I am satisfied.  My farmhouse dreams on an apartment budget are shaping up.

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Thanks for reading,

altesa.

My DIY Epiphany: Trust your instincts.  Take the risks.  You have the advantage of changing something you don’t like anytime you choose.

 

 

 

COOL SUMMER CURRICULUM IDEA: FREE UNIT STUDY based on the Cars Film.


We homeschool throughout the summer.  It’s the time I use to experiment with ideas I have during the fall and spring sessions.  One of those ideas included a Cars Movie Unit Study.  I created this study last year and fumbled through it with the boys that summer.  My then 3 year old was and IS still obsessed with Lighning Mc Queen and the band of characters connected to the fictional town of Radiator Springs.  I admit I too love the movie and have watched it probably 1,000 times between both boys.  Although the 7 year old has out grown Lightning to some degree, we all embrace the joy it brings to the youngest of the house.  At any given time, you will catch us quoting lines from the movie to fit circumstances. It connects us in that annoying yet personal insider family way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Cars film, check out the plot here.

“If I was you I’d quit yapping and start working”. – Doc

I watched how my kids quoted lines from the movie, retold and performed full scenes while playing, made connections to real life .  Light bulb moment = Unit Study.  There are so many rich moments in this movie.  It is full of opportunity for teaching from Math to Geography to Reading/ Writing to Character study.  I have compiled a PDF list of fun activities and resources to launch into a unit study of 11 subjects.

Think of the list as a buffet where you pick and choose what meets your child’s appetite.  It is a work in progress as I will add to the study over time (Ex. Worksheets) (make sure you check back for updates) but wanted to make it available to you creative mamas & papas looking for a relaxed, cool way to keep learning alive during the summer for your 3-8 year olds.  You are able to adjust the ideas to meet your child’s age and level of interest.  We were very laid back and more project focused with an emphasis on play. We worked on a subject 2x a week. Your child may be more of a reader, history buff or arts and craftsy.  Whatever their bent, It’s all in the study with enough ideas to fill an entire summer.

Let me know your thoughts and how your kids liked learning through CARS in a creative way.

Below I have included a link to the Free Download plus pictures of a couple of the activities we enjoyed:

  • HOMEMADE RACE TRACK
  • MODEL AND REENACTMENT OF LIGHTNING AND “THE TRAIN SCENE”. 
  • A LEGO MODEL OF RADIATOR SPRINGS
  • HOT WHEEL CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP USING ROUTE 66 ON A MAP
  • SURPRISE VISIT TO CARS LAND IN CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!!

CARS MOVIE FREE UNIT STUDY DOWNLOAD







What are your plans to keep learning alive this summer?

DIY Easy Peasy Twin Storage Bed and it’s Mini Me

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With 2 boys and limited space, I want bed frames that are both sturdy and functional plus easy to make and affordable.  So I decided to build a simple platform Twin and Toddler bed frame with open storage. This is my first DIY project and these were my internet inspirations. RED, BROWN

This project per bed took me @1 day to build, and @2-3 days to sand, stain and finish. I will detail the staining and finishing experience in another post. In the meantime…

Let’s get to the building materials and supplies needed in a nutshell.

TODDLER

2- 1/2 inch Plywood sheets, cut 29in wide x 52in long

1- 2x12x8  @29 inches long , cuts 3

Wood Screws- 2 1/2 – 3 inch long

Wood Glue- Your choice

TWIN

2- 1/2 inch Plywood sheets, cut 39 inches wide x 75 inches long

1- 2x12x16 @39 inches wide, cuts 4

Wood Screw- 2 1/2 -3 inch long

Wood Glue- Your choice

Now for those who like me, could use some explaining, below are details -with pictures!

Regarding the Lumber —  You will need to purchase 2 full sheets of at least 1/2 inch thick plywood for the top and bottom of each bed. 1 sheet is @48 inches wide and 96 inches long. Plenty of wood. I asked my local Lowe’s guy to cut the 2 sheets of plywood to the dimensions I needed. There will be wood left over.  If you’d like, save that extra for a smaller project.  I did! and will post soon.

 

You will also need to purchase 1- 8ft long block of common wood (Toddler) 16ft long(Twin) at 12 inches high and 2 inches thick of Green Douglas Fir (Lowe’s) or Pine(Home Depot). These will make up the sides and center of the bed (aka support). 8 ft will allow you to cut 3 pieces @29 inches each piece for the toddler and 16 ft will allow you to cut  4 pieces @39 inches each piece for twin. The 12 inch height allowed for a greater storage space but you may go for a lower height.  Again, my local Lowe’s guy did the cutting.  Thank you Adam!

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2x12x8 common wood
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12 inches high

Wood Screws —You will need to buy 2 1/2 inch  to 3 inch long wood screws.  In addition to the length, there are various size screws to consider as well.  It measures the thickness of screw and width or diameter of the screw head. 6, 8, 10, 12 even 14.  This was perplexing because no one mentioned this part in their blogs or videos. I mean no one. Not even Ana. Perhaps it is common knowledge.  But not for this sister.  I opted for size #10 in part, on the advice of another shopper dude in line with me at checkout.  He told me it didn’t matter what size I chose. The screws are there to keep everything together until the glue dries. Enough info for me.

Wood glue — I used Titebond II and Elmer’s Wood glue.  I switched to Elmer’s because it claimed stainability.

I forgot to mention a good, reliable crew is great to have as well. This is mine. They work for food.

Once we got the hang of drill bits and driving bits, torque, speed and pre-drilling, everything was easy peasy, for the most part. There was that time we googled ways to unscrew stripped screws. Below are pictures of the toddler bed project. The twin build has an identical process except it is bigger with an extra set of storage space.

Overall this was a very simple weekend project. I am very happy with the results. You may think, nice, but it looks like a table.  Once the kid grows out of the toddler, I plan to use it as such or a day bed, oooh the possibilities.  For now, I plan to place baskets underneath when I find or make the right ones.

Thank you for reading. I hope my experience here (at least) cuts in half your trips to the hardware store, saving you time and gas.  At most, may you be inspired to start what you’ve only thought about till now.

Check out Farmhouse Dreams On An Apartment Budget for more DIYing it.

Thanks for reading,

altesa.

P.S.

My DIY Epiphany:  Just start.  You’ll be glad you did.

THE CLOSET ACTRESS: Waiting to Exhale

THE BACKSTORY

You know how birthdays have a funny way of inciting reflection and possible depression.    Well, It’s about 2 weeks shy of my **th birthday and I had been reflecting and depressing, cleaning and shopping when I came across clothes in my closet l had not seen since before I had become a wife and mother to two– 8 years ago.  Naturally, I want to try them on. Of course to see if this aging lady has really changed.  Because if they still fit then that would mean, in my world,  I haven’t really aged or changed “physically” at all. (oh yeah!)  After praying and slowly slipping on the first dress, memories of a slimmer waistline flooded my mind.  If. I. could. just. hold. my. sto. mach. in… I could fit it.  (exhale). It worked.  I have to capture this moment.  Honey take a picture!

…and The Closet Actress Series was born.

I’m in the closet too. Me, the actress. Much like my forgotten but favorite digs, Me, the actress has been tucked away for so long for reasons I am not prepared to explore in this post. Perhaps the stills below would help to express the frustration behind that story. In any case, this series premiere of The Closet Actress is about rediscovering the forgotten.

It was my birthday and I needed a way to celebrate. Dinners and lunch with friends were on the list but I wanted something more. Purposefully more.  

THE WARDROBE

The clothes I am wearing in this episode of The Closet Actress are dresses and skirts I haven’t worn in 10 years.  I am proud to say they fit! not perfectly as in pre-kids perfectly but they never the less fit at least for an at-home birthday photo shoot with my husband.

I am glad to have created an occasion to take both the clothes and the gift out of the closet.

May you be inspired to rediscover what’s been tucked away and forgotten in your life.

Are you a closet actress, photographer, artist, writer, knitter? Do tell.IMG_5898

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Wardrobe in order of  appearance:

Green Circle Dress with Belt, MICA   

Floral Halter, Mario Balthazar   

Black Sleeveless, Rubi Rox  

Pleated Skirt, Mohji Kohji   

Film and Theater Inspirations:

The Birds, 1963  Imitation of Life, 1959

Raisin in the Sun, 1961  Grease, 1978

The Elephant In The Homeschool Room

I came across this interesting article, “Confessions of an Unsocialized Public Schooled Child”,  by Eliza De La Portillia, via HuffPost Parents at thee perfect time. For weeks, I have planned (in my head) the words to write for a post of my own on it’s very subject…

Socialization.

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For the first time in my homeschool journey, (a whopping 7 months now), I was asked about socialization. It was by a well-meaning, dear friend, who I have known since grade school. City girls, she and I watched our single moms work 2 or more jobs to provide for us outside of the home.  School/Career/ Work was our immersion program.

Getting married and having children were rarely apart of our childhood or young adult conversations, although we both are married with kids now.  Much less, staying home with our kids.  Much, much less, (like never) HOMESCHOOLING!  Who?! is going to do What?!  The tradition of school and friendships are ingrained in us.  After all it was through school that we met and remained friends these many years. So I understood her reaction to “homeschool” with a question about socialization.

Yet, I felt unprepared and offended.

Feelings of defensiveness rose.  I replied to her query in my best matter-of-fact, nonchalant way.  The truth is socialization never really played apart in my husband and I decision to or not to homeschool.  It is a non factor.  It is something I read about on other homeschooler’s blogs but never concerned myself with personally.

This direct question about socialization and the timely HuffPost Parent article was my call to action.  Not as you may suspect.  It woke me up to the need to educate myself on this subject further for the sake of those who are allowing it to be the elephant in their homeschool rooms or on their long distance phone conversations, as it related to me.  It’s probably the #1 question any given homeschooler is asked by a new, non or anti-homeschooler.  It’s time to demystify this reactive argument that is often bait for anxiety and worry.

There’s a popular saying: “The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.  While I work on cutting up that elephant, why don’t you take a gander at Confessions of an Un-Socialized Public Schooled Child originally posted on www.TheTattooed Homestead.com. Perhaps you will be inspired by her perspective on socialization as I am.

Thanks for reading.

altesa

 

Happy New Year or nah

New Year’s Day is like a reset button for most of us.  It’s a chance to start again–fresh and focused!

While you are planning to start at 1 and do “life” differently this year, consider equipping yourself with these three timeless truths from the Bible, sure to keep the happy in your year long after it loses its new.

Monitor your progress by comparing yourself to your past and not to others.

“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” (Galatians 6:4).

Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress.

“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG)

Sometimes we need to wait to sense God’s presence and help.

“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.” (James 5:7, MSG)

Thanks for reading!

 

Source: Bill Gaultiere, Soul Shepherding 

 

THE LAWLESS ONES

 

Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager shot and killed by Missouri police officer, Darren Wilson, and some of the “disruptive” protesters of his death in Ferguson, MO has often been called “lawless”.  It’s been the one consistent outcry among some folks in the days since this tragedy occurred August 9, 2014.

    I can’t see pass the rioting and the looting and violence.

Michael Brown is a thug who robbed a convenience store and was high on pot.

He disregarded the law and deserved to reap the consequences.

These are just SOME of the unnerving comments I am reading and hearing throughout social media.

While I agree the violence, looting and rioting in Ferguson, MO that followed the grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown was unfruitful, it should hardly be the center of our attention.  Let’s face it, besides the obvious, its greatest tragedy is that it DISTRACTS– giving the world an EXCUSE to be insensitive and judgmental, publicly shame, settle as unworthy and LABEL folks “lawless”.  It becomes an “acceptable” reason to WITHHOLD mercy, grace and compassion. It draws attention AWAY from the real, deep, ailing issues while justifying stereotypes, profiling, labeling and negative opinions. It becomes the Great Big Excuse to EXCLUDE and eventually IGNORE those who are crying out.

RIOTING IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD.-MLK

I get the wisdom behind the nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. As aptly spoken by  SELMA film director, Ava Duvernay, “Someone standing up against a trooper with their hands behind their back is a more sympathetic image than someone with a rock in their hand.”  Non violence against injustice is a back door approach into people’s hearts.  It takes great spiritual strength to commit to it. Not everyone has that type of strength or understanding in the face of systemic oppression.

WHERE’S THE LOVE?

Michael Brown was allegedly caught on tape robbing a convenience store, unarmed, moments before his confrontation with police officer Wilson.  This gave a lot of folks the information they needed to conclude that 12 shots with 6 of those bullets to his death, by Wilson, was justified.  Despite popular belief, an unarmed Michael Brown did not DESERVE to die because he committed a theft and to narrow our focus on this act of “lawlessness” falls, once again, into the deep abyss of DISTRACTION.

This focus on civic disorder or “lawless” behavior reminds me of another time in history where a public outcry of “lawlessness” toward a woman caught in an act of adultery hid hypocritical hearts until Jesus exposed them.

Deserving of death according to the law, the adulterous woman was escorted to a public square by the law-abiders of the day, called Pharisees and Scribes, “put before the crowd” where Jesus stood and in a twist of fate, given grace instead.

“‘The Law of Moses says to stone her, What do you say?’, they asked.” Jesus knew the law, yet He approached her accusers with a directive that leveled the playing field and the “lawless” adulterous woman’s death sentence was reduced to a warning and her accusers silenced.  Jesus was the only one qualified to throw the first stone but he didn’t.

The public stoning was cancelled.

I believe the public stoning of the late Michael Brown, Jr., the rioters and looters would be cancelled too if we brought them before Jesus in our hearts. Because there’s a greater, wider, deeper issue at hand here that is being buried under the scrutiny and cry of “lawlessness”.

People are hurting in a real way and have been for a long time. Refusing to acknowledge the hurt hurts.  Pointing the finger at bad behavior does not in the least deal with the heart of the matter and is as unfruitful as the bad behavior itself.  Speaker/Pastor Ed Stetzer shared on his blog, “For many, this is about an incident. Yet, for many African-Americans, it’s about a system. It’s worth listening to why people are responding differently to the situation in Ferguson.”  The bible urges, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). When we refuse to do so, does that not make us equally “lawless”?

It’s hard. It’s hard to see pass the burned out businesses, destruction of property, thuggish examples and rage as broadcast on the news.  It’s hard to see pass abusive cops and political cover ups. It’s hard to see pass all that is wrong. It’s undeniably hard. But we must.  According to scripture, it’s the law.

The law breakers, law-abiders, nor the upholders of the law are flawless. A flawed legal system indicted Jesus over two thousand years ago and a flawed legal system kept officer Darren Wilson from facing trial for the death of Michael Brown.

NOW WHAT.

However, it is worthy to note, the public execution of Jesus Christ was not cancelled.  He went to the cross and died so that all of us FLAWED, lawless folks would not have to.

 

 

Taking Flight on Paper Airplanes

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We all know a paper airplane can only fly but so far, except in the hands of a 5-year-old.

Daily reading lessons with my five-year old son is so much more bearable (for him) when he has his newly made paper airplane in hand.  He plans flights all over the world when a nearby dresser top is not enough.  He takes flight to places like New Zealand, Africa, and Asia, making emergency stops in the middle of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  This is the method we use to break the monotony of our 30 minute reading lessons. Short breaks are necessary particularly for a child who prefers moving around, telling imaginative stories and pretending to pilot a jet airliner over repeating short vowel sounds.

The symbolism of the paper airplane is not lost on me.   I see how excited he is when the airplane leaves his hands and into the air for .2 seconds before either gliding or doing a nosedive into a nearby bed.   I see his passion for explaining to me about rocket boosters and engines.  I see it and it connects me to my imagination and passion.   As I teach him to read,  I imagine with excitement the day he will take flights to faraway places through books.  As his mom, I imagine the many times I will, by God’s grace, get to release him from my hands to  glide over the deep waters of life or nosedive into them.  Like a paper airplane in the hands of a 5-year-old, he may look like an average kindergartener boy to the naked eye but in my heart and mind he is already that pilot, secret agent, engineer and world traveler.

Hello Fall!

 

Who ever said transitions had to be ugly and awkward? Some are done with style and grace and beauty.  Here’s to embracing the many transitions in our lives. May they be as beautiful and natural as a Fall leaf in October.