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My first “Rebeca project”

My friend Rebeca is the Creative Dominican. She is super talented (you can buy her stuff on facebook for a limited time). I told her if I ever tackled a project inspired by her, I would post pictures, so here it is! I finally came across a wood item that would work for a project.

My son’s bed is lofted so he collects books in his bed (and they fall down on the floor with a THUMP in the middle of the night). I was going to buy some IKEA spice racks, ala Pinterest. But, I came across this apple box at Goodwill for $3. I sanded it to soften the edges.

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Following Creative Dominican‘s instructions, I painted the edges with a brown craft paint.

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After it dried, I painted a middle stripe with wall paint (Pittsburgh Constellation), a reverse of my son’s room which is light blue with a dark blue stripe. I forgot to add Vaseline as a distressor, so I dry-brushed brown on top of it on the edges.

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Then, I applied Vaseline on the edges before I applied the dark blue wall paint (Pittsburgh Star Spangled). Once it was thoroughly dried, I sanded it all over.

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Finally, it needed some support. I sent my husband to Menards for $.99 L brackets and he came home with $3 fancy brackets that were a bit bigger and much nicer. More than I wanted to spend, but it was probably for the best since it was a big enough box to hold some heavy books and I was thankful he did this errand for me. Then, he helped me make sure it was anchored into the wall securely. See, Snowball is safe (my son put the books in there so it’s okay that they are upside down).

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See how proud he is? Once I started this project, he asked every day when I was going to put it up. There’s no better reward for a project like this than a happy smile. Love you, Charlie Bear.

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A Post about Poop

I don’t own a dog. Not yet anyway. We are on the fast track to doggie ownership and I don’t see any way around it. I mean, how can we resist when my daughter has not only been begging for years but also tells me, while having a discussion about the types of dogs she likes best and those doesn’t like as well (for the record, beagles and shih tzus top the list): “Mom, I want to get a sad dog and make him happy.” Still makes me tear up just thinking about it.

The problem is that dogs poop. They also smell, try to lick my face, chew my precious things and bark. But none of this compares to my disgust of dog poop. Don’t get me wrong, even I think dogs—and especially puppies—are cute. But I’m talking about poop here. Poop. It’s gross. You know this, I know this, everyone knows this. I don’t even like to talk about it much less deal with it. My parents remind me almost every time we visit (we just spent 5 glorious sun-filled days in Arizona) about how mad I would get when every night at the dinner table, there would be some discussion about the dog’s business. Really? Now? Can we at least wait until after I finish my Hamburger Helper please? Thankyouverymuch.

If there was some way to make the dog clean up after himself, I’d be all for that. But dogs are blissfully unaware of how gross it is to have their waste in my yard. Instead, I will definitely do my best attempt to make puppy poopy pick-up the kids’ jobs. There has to be some “responsibility” to bring down the excitement of a new pet, right? And the only thing worse than cleaning up the poop is leaving it, turning the yard into a mine zone of excrement. No, thanks. I also like the idea of making the dog carry the little baggies needed for walks in the neighborhood (yes, dogs poop in other people’s yards, too!). I think he can at least do that much after the “master” has cleaned up after him. I don’t think there’s much less disgusting task than swinging around the dog’s poop bag as I walk down my street (there’s really no way to be discreet about it either).

But, in the end, I know how this works out. It will be me. I’ll be picking up poop. And carrying poop bags. And bathing the dog. And getting licked in the face. And I’m sure it will be all worth it. At least the economy will get a boost with the upswing in sales of Softsoap and hand sanitizer. But most of all, my little girl (who seems less little every day) will get to make a sad puppy, happy.

PS By the way, this post is the result of a challenge from a friend to write about poop. So, please rate me 1-10 to let me know how I did. Of course, I’ll consider any rating at all a success because it meant you read to the end of this post.

What’s new?

New house.
New kitchen.
New entryway closet.
New neighborhood.
New schools.
New lamps, rugs and curtains.
New just about everything …
except me.
Everything is new and different, but I am still the same.
I’m still me.
Lonely.
Confused.
Sad and selfish.
Frustrated, discouraged, distracted.
Same old me.

Inside the Box

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Companies are thinking outside of the box to develop innovative ideas that benefit the environment at all stage of lifecycle … including inside the box. By finding such alternatives, companies can make a difference behind the scenes, with little consumer education or influence. Available sustainable packaging materials for shipping are 100 percent bio-based, including bamboo, rice, palm, and sugarcane. They are inexpensive and reduce energy and water use as well.

Ecovative, for example, offers molded pulp from mushroom fibers—grown on a farm—for protective packaging in lieu of plastic foam. The company is able to upcycle very low value waste products into renewable and home compostable packaging.

Mushroom Packaging is made from agricultural byproducts bonded together with mushroom “roots” called mycelium. “This technology is a radical departure from traditional bioplastics,” according to environmental director Sam Harrington.

Designers will customize Mushroom Packaging for individual applications. “Mushroom technology is a great way to protect glass bottles and cosmetic gift sets,” explained Harrington. “It’s an alternative that performs just as well, is cost-competitive, and provides a beautiful natural material that can be home-composted.”

Such sustainable packaging options deliver both tangible benefits and emotional rewards, allowing consumers to contribute without forcing them to step outside their comfort zone. 

But not everyone needs to make radical modifications to make a difference. “Everyone has the ability to shift in the direction of eco-innovation by starting small and building over time,” said cosmetics entrepreneur Kari Gran. From material to manufacture and from distribution to disposal or recycling, brands have opportunities to reduce their products’ impact on the environment one step at a time.

Sustainable packaging isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Read more about eco opportunities for product packaging in the June 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

Ask the right question

God did not send Jesus to live on the earth and die on the cross for the purpose of your redemption. At least not the way I used to think. It is clearly written in His Word, in Romans, that God sent Jesus not to save us, but to show His righteousness. For His glory. In the process, we were redeemed, but we were not the purpose. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about us.

Reflecting on this truth recently, while in turmoil about finding a new home for our family, I realized I was asking the wrong questions. It’s not: “Will we fit in?” “What best satisfies the needs of our family?” “How can we get the best value for our dollar?”

Instead, the question we should be asking is how can we honor God with our decision. What will glorify Him?

We don’t know the answer to that either yet but I feel certain that if we seek after Him first, we will be right where God wants us. By setting my heart to desire His will and not the “thing” I’m looking to fulfill my desires, He will meet our needs better than I ever could imagine.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:22b-26

Free to fail

As a perfectionist, failure is not an option. I am afraid of failure. As a mom, a writer, a wife, a friend, a coach, a mentor. Even though I fail–continuously, I don’t acknowledge or admit it very often. But what I have come to learn is that failure is not optional … because it’s required.

To reach perfection, you must fail. To do anything otherwise is to come close maybe, but yet be so far. Because it’s just not possible to be perfect. At least not on my own.

If fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, failure is the beginning of perfection. Because failure is how we come to know and experience and rely on God. In the midst of failure, we see God because we are not distracted by our own “glorious” self. Failure, according to Webster’s, is “to fade or die away, to be inadequate, lack, to leave undone … a defect in character or ability.” Call it what it is: failure is the inability to accomplish on my own. If I can be perfect–or think that I can–I don’t need God. When I fail, I know I need Help (yes, that’s Help with a capital “H”).

When I recognize myself as the failure I am, only then can God accomplish perfection for me. Jesus was perfect so I don’t have to be. Free to fail.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Christmas compassion

It was Saturday afternoon. I was walking around the Dollar Store with Avery as she prepared a “girl” box for Operation Christmas Child. She was sorting through the hair accessories to find just the right pretty things to add to her box, which already had a stuffed animal, cute socks, ring pops and Hello Kitty toiletries, while dad and Charlie were going through school supplies. She asked me quietly: “What about the mom?” I hesitated at first. But realizing what she said, and feeling tender-hearted at her question, I bent down to see her face to face. With eyes tearing up, I hugged her with one arm and said: “Oh, honey, the mom’s gift is seeing her child smile and to watch her child receive a fun box to open.” She nodded and smiled. I knew she understood.

Christmas is a great time to instill a heart for giving and to put into perspective how rich and blessed we truly are. We had talked plenty about these needy children. Both kids were excited about the “big” bag of goodies we went home with to fill the boxes, so we didn’t pass up the opportunity to contrast that with the pile of gifts they get each year for birthdays, Christmas and who knows what else …

The next day, we went through the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog as a family. As part of our Christmas shopping last year, we included gifts for those in need and continued the tradition this year, each of us making selections.

Avery was already disappointed she couldn’t put food in the Christmas Child gift box, so it was no surprise that she selected Fruit Trees first thing out of the catalog. We also have talked a lot recently about the need for clean water in other countries so I was glad to see her choose a Freshwater Well, too (having updated it from Clean Water for a family because it “would help more people”). Matt and I agreed that we would have added the well if one of the kids didn’t pick it, it was marked “urgent need” after all. I told her to pick 3 items but these were the two most important to her so we focused on those. Charlie can’t help himself, it was harder for him to narrow it down; he chose 4 so it evened out. The first thing I read, he wanted to give. “Of course they need that!” It also touched my heart that he selected Training and Equipping an Evangelist as well as Transform the life of a Disabled Child. Instead of the soccer balls. I shouldn’t be surprised by my sensitive boy, but I was. Of course, watching a child select any item to give to someone in need brings joy to a mom’s heart.

We all have a lot to learn. I know how easy it is to think only of myself. But every act of compassion makes it that much easier to think of others. I hope, for me and my family, the trend will continue after the “giving” season.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ ” –Deuteronomy 15:11

The “talk”

As a parent, having “the talk” has always been a daunting idea. It’s embarrassing (though it shouldn’t be) for both parents and the kids.

A friend I greatly respect once told me that age 8 is a good time to start talking about sex with your kids. I have no idea where she heard this or why. My oldest was probably 5 at the time so it seemed a LONG way off. I was okay with that. So, I kept the goal in mind but didn’t think much about it … until only days before my daughter’s 8th birthday. Could it really be time? No. It seems too early. It can’t be. It’s not.

I decided to start doing some research anyway so I’d be prepared when I decide that it IS time. I happened to pick up a book at the library that had me nodding and saying “amen!” I began to realize it is, in reality, NOT too early. In fact, I could have, should have started the process already! I skimmed the book quickly. The main premise I got from the book was to relay a positive message about sex. Instead of focusing on dos and dont’s, disease and pregnancy, we should help our children understand that it’s a healthy part of the marriage relationship. That it is a gift from God and not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about or to be treated lightly. Then I started praying for the words and opportunity to have that first talk–to establish an ongoing discussion–with my daughter. Avery is a quiet type and not usually inquisitive, so we don’t normally talk about intimate things. I knew I’d have to be the one to start the conversation. Suddenly, I was armed and ready!

I have my best opportunity a month after her birthday. Our family was planning a split vacation. My husband and son were going to a father/son camp and Avery and I were going to my sister’s for a few days and then to a lake house. We had a few mornings free while my sister was at work and my niece was at a middle school prep class. I declared one morning a mommy and me day. I let Avery pick whatever she wanted to do (still can’t believe she wanted to go bowling instead of get manicures!). We bonded over silly bowling shoes and horrific scores. Then we went to a local pet store to see the kittens, turtles, hamsters, bunnies and mice. She loves watching the mice spin their wheels and fall all over each other as they play. Finally, we went for short walk on a path and stopped at an open baseball field. She sat on the top row of the miniature metal bleachers and I sat backwards on the next level, so we could sit and face each other eye to eye. I told her I had something important I wanted to talk to her about …

What I said, basically:

You know what marriage is? A man and a woman who love each other get married. (We have a short discussion here because she is concerned about who she is going to marry and how she will know when she meets the person she will marry. So tender. Of course I let her know that mom and dad will help her! She probably won’t appreciate that much in a few more years.)

Just like we bring gifts to birthday parties and weddings, God gives a gift to couples who get married. It’s called sex. Have you heard that word before? Do you know what that means? Well, you know how boys and girls are different, right? (I do go into detail here about what is physically different, using correct terms to show that I’m not embarrassed about it, and truly I wasn’t! even though I tend to be a prude lol). I continued this trend by telling her in no uncertain terms what sex physically is and even that “it feels good all over.” (Yep. :} I said that.) Men and women fit together perfectly because that’s how God designed it! And that is how babies are made (We get sidetracked here because she asks some questions about that, it’s also a precursor to a discussion we still need to have about puberty).

Sometimes people have sex when they aren’t married and that doesn’t honor God. (Also got sidetracked here because I tried to talk about how the world has “corrupted” sex but I used an analogy of weeds and she took me too literally. Oops!) We want to honor God with our bodies, don’t we? I’m so glad we can talk about this and you can come to me whenever you have any questions. I love you so much.

On the way home, I realized I hadn’t prayed with her so we did that too. And I was certain to include that special someone who God was preparing for her to marry.

I could tell that most of what I said went over her head. But that’s okay. That’s great, actually! I think that’s why it was so easy, she wasn’t embarrassed and so I didn’t have to be either. And I know we laid the groundwork for the future. She heard it from me first. And it fulfilled at least the first step in my goal of preparing my child for a meaningful, fulfilling marriage and healthy relationships by shaping her character, her understanding of who God is and who she is.

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15

Craniosynosto-what?

Praising God today for my little boy! He had his checkup with the neurologist today (it was moved twice and landed on a school day morning. They tell you when to come in not the other way around! He’s a brain surgeon for crying out loud.) Anyway, it made me think about what a handsome little man (almost 6!) he is and so bright, after such a scary time with his surgery when he was only 3 months old and all that could have been. I am so thankful for God carrying us through that time and realizing that we hardly ever even think of it now! To God be the glory forever.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Pinterest home decor

I don’t get Pinterest. I really don’t. But in trying to figure it out, I did find a couple ideas I wanted to try. I’ve been watching altogether too much HGTV lately and thinking (now that our house is decluttered and depersonalized for selling) it’s rather … boring. So, I decided to put my own twist on this “shoe box lid” wall hanging (especially considering there was no “how-to” to be found):

In the interest of keeping this experiment at low cost, I used materials I already had. I had already recycled just about all our shoe box lids, so I cut up a cardboard box instead. I used spray adhesive to cover it with scrapbooking papers (making each one a bit wider than my board so it could wrap to the back) in colors and patters that coordinated with my living room and gave it a bit of a Scandinavian twist I was looking for. I was thankful to have a reason to use the pretty papers that have long been neglected.

I printed letter outlines, backwards of course, on the back of light/dark patterns, then outlined it with brown/white paper to help it pop off the contrasting pattern. Again, I used spray adhesive. For an extra touch, I used an ink pad to brush the edges (with mild success).

I found coordinating ribbon in my craft collection and hot glued it to the back with a knot tied in the middle, which is simply hung on a nail (and also covers it) in a “random” up/down pattern (which helps especially since I didn’t take precautions to center the letters or the finished boards).

The finished product was inexpensive, quick and easy, and adds color and interest to a previously empty wall with a personal touch.

Maybe I “get” it now? Hm. I might have to try another project to find out.

Cigarettes and teenagers, a 5 year old’s perspective

An early summer morning conversation, while cuddling with my 5 year old.

Charlie: Teenagers might offer you cigarettes.
Me: Yeah, I suppose sometimes they might. What do you say if anyone offers you cigarettes?
Charlie: No!
Me: That’s right. No! Or “No, thank you.” If you want to be nice.
Charlie: Or I could say “You shouldn’t do that.”
Me: Well, you could. But they already know they shouldn’t be doing that.
Charlie: Why are teenagers so mean?
Me: They aren’t usually mean, they just tend to think only of themselves and what they think is cool and make poor decisions because of it.
Charlie: I don’t want to be a teenager.
Me (thinking): Me neither.
Charlie: I want to be 3 and little and cute forever.
Me (laughing, esp since he’s 5): You will always be cute. And you are gonna be a great teenager.

There’s always hope!

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Microphone Cake Pops

It’s not a Disco Dive Dance party without microphone cake pops!

I was determined not to make cake pops this year for my daughter’s annual park play date. We usually have so many moms and kids, it’s a lot of work. Plus, it makes a mess. With our house up for sale and showings etc, I gave myself the out weeks ago. And then the week of her park play date came and … here I was making cake pops. It was just meant to be. I had made 4 for her sleepover party and discovered it wasn’t so bad if I wasn’t using the melted chocolate or almond bark coating. Besides, I had 36 mini cones leftover (that I can’t imagine using for ANYTHING else, they are so *tiny*). I tweaked the recipe a bit (and used colored sprinkles instead of only silver), but they were easy and a hit with the kids!

Here’s how I did it:

Step 1.
Make a cake, per directions on the box. I made a vanilla cake from Betty Crocker.

Step 2. Let it cool, then crumble the cake into a large bowl.

Step 3. Add frosting, about 3/4 of a can (I used vanilla whipped frosting from Betty Crocker).

Step 4. Roll into balls (I squished two scoops of a small melon baller together).

Step 5. Put a light coat of frosting on the edge of the mini cone (and on the inside of the cone if you want, to make it more fun to eat).

Step 6. Place the cake ball on the cone.

Step 7. Frost.

Step 8. Cover with sprinkles!

Step 9. Serve! I poked one end of a toothpick into a styrofoam block (covered with tin foil) and inserted the cone onto it (make a hole in the cone with the toothpick first).

Birthday Party: Disco Diva Dance Party & Sleepover!

Hard to believe my baby girl is now 8. 8 years old! She was very adamant about her party this year, a sleepover with her closest BFFs. She found a cupcake-cake in a book that she wanted for her party and decided to build the whole party around that theme. It was microphones with a disco ball. The disco ball in the picture really had nothing to do with the cupcakes, but I think that’s exactly why she chose it. So, a dance party it is! We invited 3 local friends, plus two who lived too far away to make it but it didn’t seem right not to include them anyway.

Invites
We recently cleaned out our office and were throwing away a bunch of CDs. That’s when I realized I could make a disco ball for the cake AND I used some leftovers for the invitation. Never mind that “disco” and “CDs” don’t really go hand in hand … Anyway, Avery worked with me to select the colors and look of the invitation and we promptly sent them out (I only had the idea to do this a few weeks before the party).

Decorations
Once the invites were out, we didn’t do much in the way of planning until the week of. Since our house is for sale, we wanted to keep things simple and low-mess. I made the disco ball for the cake cutting up a few CDs (note: use SHARP scissors) and hot glued them to an old whiffle ball (no way I am paying $3 for a styrofoam ball!). But when I realized how disappointed Avery was that it was so small (although she said, “that’s okay, mom!”) I went on the hunt for a disco ball. Thankfully, I found one at Five Below, where I also bought the colored hair extensions, peace headbands and lipgloss for the party gifts. At the dollar store, I bought pink plates for the dinner. Since it was a “fancy” French restaurant for celebrities only, we used our wine glasses, which was a huge hit with the girls. I taped a few more of the discarded CDs to the hutch cabinet near the table and that was the extent of our decorations this year, but it looked pretty good!

Dinner
The dinner was a big ordeal. I’ve been talking about doing a “mix up” dinner like my mom did once (for Halloween) when I was a kid for a long time and finally had the opportunity to make it happen. Avery wanted pizza as well as several other of her favorite foods, and nothing had anything to do with a disco or dance, lol. Anyway, I put everything (including utensils) on a menu … in French. (In retrospect, nonsense words from the 70s or dance-related terms like “The Twist” for pretzels would have been a better fit to the theme. Oh well. I had a beret. So, yeah.) The girls had to order without knowing what anything was. The only things guaranteed were the personal pizzas, a plate and a drink. I broke the menu down into Drinks, Side dishes and Miscellaneous so that they would get a variety (and possibly some kind of utensil). Of course, I wore a beret and spoke as much as I could in a French accent (or at least my interpretation of one). The girls loved calling me “Madame” and dining the silly “Voila!” restaurant. It was a great icebreaker though I could sense some frustration that they weren’t getting what they wanted (I let them order multiple times). They had fun with it. One girl was trying to eat her pizza with a toothpick! Eventually, I made sure everyone had what they wanted and there was plenty for everyone. Avery wanted to do it again when her friend from out of town came to visit, for lunch this time. This is definitely not the last mix up dinner we’ll be having at our house! Avery thought it was hilarious. It also took a big chunk of time and the girls were FULL.

Menu cheat sheet:

Entree: Pizza (pepperoni or sausage or both was offered) with Jell-o

Drinks: Pop, punch and water (colored red, though they figured out pretty quickly that it was water!)

Sides: Cheesy chips (Doritos), pea pods, strawberries, apple slices, pretzels (thought they were smart to figure this one out!), carrot sticks

Misc: Fork, spoon, straw, napkin, whipped cream, peanut butter, toothpick, Ranch dressing

Dance Party and Karaoke
Then, we turned up the volume on the music and the dance party started! The girls danced to Cha Cha Slide, YMCA, We Will Rock You and a few others before they began to become more interested in the karaoke microphone. They played some of their own games with the sound and then I turned on Sunday School songs and Christmas carols. I was impressed that they each took turns (mostly in pairs or all four of them). It was fun to watch. Finally, we sang Happy Birthday and had our cupcakes with cupcake microphones (only difference is an added pink nonpareils in the bottom of the cone).

Then it was time to open gifts and play Story Cubes. Before long, the girls were ready to cuddle in their pjs to watch a movie and … not sleep. All in all, it was a memorable party and a lot of fun for the girls and me.

Bragging, part II

My son, a Kindergartner, is in his second season of soccer through ALITHSA. I don’t mean to brag, okay, well yes I do, that’s the point of this post. But not about his athletic ability. Anyway, at almost 6 years old, Charlie is one of the oldest on his team of 4- and 5-year-olds. And physically he’s naturally strong and fast. So, it’s not surprising that he has control of the ball a lot during games and he scores quite a few goals. He loves to win! He and one of the girls on his team who is really athletically gifted and handles the ball well generally dominate. However, this year especially, I have seen great team work and just about everyone participates and has scored at least one goal. We talk occasionally about sharing the ball with your team mates and not “stealing” it if your team mate has the ball. Mostly, though, we play games that teach simple skills and just have fun. I love being their coach and it makes me smile that Charlie is proud to have me on the field with him.

This past Friday, Charlie had a particularly good game. He even scored the last goal at the last second with an angle shot, using his left (non-favored) foot. It was awesome!

But my favorite moment of the game came in the 3rd quarter. Charlie had control of the ball and moved toward the net. But instead of kicking it in for another goal … he passed the ball. He kicked it straight to a girl who has been on his team both seasons. She reminds me a lot of my daughter. She’s not as aggressive as other players, although she has shown a lot of improvement this year. I think she touched the ball more in the first game than she did the entire season last year! Anyway, she was in the right place to receive the ball and she kicked it right into the net for her first-ever goal! Her mom, who is the assistant coach, and I were so excited for her we jumped up and down and squealed with delight.

She for her daughter.

And me for my son and his generous assist.

Super suckers

I don’t know why but I am dead set against buying the typical valentines character cards from the store. They are cheap and they are easy. Typically two requirements for me to get on board with something.

But my mom taught me the value of making something from the heart. So, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, there’s no question about it, we’re making 60-some valentines for the kids’ classmates. It’s not very often that we get elbow deep in glue and glitter, but I always look forward to those projects (as stressful as it can be sometimes). The creative side of me enjoys seeing the kids express themselves with crafts.

Of course, mass producing valentines means finding something simple enough for the kids to do but also fun/cute enough to keep them motivated.

For my son in Kindergarten, I found a cute caped sucker in the Family Fun magazine at the library, then looked it up online at Familyfun.com. I tweaked it a bit to simplify even more, but they are still “super” cute.

I cut a cape from black stock to use as a template then cut out capes from red, purple and green paper. Charlie wrote on each cape “You are super!” and his name (we’re asked not to personalize them for his classmates). I punched a small hole at the top and we slipped it on a Dum Dum Pop. I tried to get by without the masks, but my son was so excited. To simplify the pattern I found online, I cut thin strips from matching paper and hot glued them on the suckers. My son then colored eye holes on the masks for a finishing touch.

For my daughter’s 2nd grade class, we could try something a little more challenging and, of course, girlie. She picked the Familyfun.com Hershey Kiss rings.

The store was out of regular kisses, so she picked the caramel ones in gold wrappers (I was rooting for the dark chocolate kisses in purple foil). And we had just enough pipe cleaners in green for the boys and pink or red for the girls. Using scraps doesn’t always lend itself to the most coordinated holiday colors (the boys ended up with green/brown rings and red tags lol). We still had to work together to complete the twisting just right on each one. To conserve pipe cleaners, we used only one for each instead of two as called for, so it had to be done just right.

We still enjoyed this project, but the end result certainly didn’t have the same ka-pow as the suckers (or as the ones we copied). Maybe if we had followed the exact instructions, they would have been more charming …