Homemade Halloween

I have a problem. Seriously, my husband would agree. I HAVE to make my kids Halloween costumes. It’s a thing. And I am not a seamstress at all. I feel like I have A LOT of potential to end up on some Pinterest-fail list. But I will say, I am somewhat realistic about my abilities, or lack thereof, so I try to aim on the smaller, easier side and use “hacks” (i.e. regular clothes, just modified). Of course I also really, really, really want them to coordinate or have a theme…yep, I’m that mom…but I don’t want to “force” them to be something, I like to let them decide. So all that makes it even harder to find coordinating costumes that everyone is happy with and that I can actually execute on my own.

But last year was a success, if I do say so myself. Without further ado…The Ghost, The Black Cat, and the Spider!


Ghost (age 2), Black Cat (age 4), and Spider (age 5)

So my oldest really wanted to be a spider so we started tossing out other typical Halloween costumes and my daughter was super excited to be a black cat. That left the littlest who of course, at age 2, picked random household objects or whatever was in his line of vision. haha! But when we suggested ghost and showed him a ghost costume, he was all over it – he’s shy in groups or with anyone new, so I think this made him feel safe. And bonus, it’s THE EASIEST COSTUME EVER!

GHOST – Yes, I did it old school. Forget making it cute. I took an old bedsheets that I happened to have, threw it over his head and cut around the bottom. I didn’t want it to drag or make him trip (or get muddy/wet) so I cut it above his shoes. Then I cut out arm holes so it would stay put (and he wouldn’t get tangled) and finally eye holes. DONE! So easy! And it’s great for any locale/temperature because you can simply adjust what they wear under it.

BLACK CAT – the easy part was that I bought black tights and a black dress. I found the dress at Old Navy and you know they always have sales! I made the tail and ears myself…

The tail was easiest…simply sew a “tube” of black fuzzy fabric, whatever length you desire, and then curse yourself for making it thin while trying to turn it right-side-out. 🙂 Then stuff with pillow stuffing (I literally bought the cheapest option!) with help from small hands.


My helper, stuffing the tail.

I then used a random piece of wire from my husband’s tool shed and stuck it down the middle…this allowed the tail to hold it’s shape and not drag. Sewed the whole thing shut and then sewed it onto a piece of black elastic cut to the size of my daughter’s waist. Why the elastic? Well, I debated just sewing the tail directly onto the dress but decided I would like to use the dress again! So I used a seam ripper to take out a small piece of the back seam in the dress, at waist height. She could then wear the tail around her waist UNDER her dress, the tail could come out the small hole, and after Halloween, I simply stitched the hole closed again and viola, a black dress she could wear every day (with cute, funky leggings of course!). 🙂

I *could* have just bought a kitty cat ear headband, but wanted to make my own. I used a plain headband, cut two pieces from a wire hanger, bent them into ear shape, and used hot glue to attach. I then sewed a little triangular “sleeve” of the fuzzy black fabric to fit over the ears and also used hot glue to attach at the bottom. Finally, I took cut a long, thin strip of the black fabric and wrapped it all around the headband, covering the plastic and securing the ears. I put a dot of hot glue every couple of centimeters and viola, soft cat ears! She still wears these on a regular basis! 🙂


Overall, the black cat costume was pretty easy, took minimal skill (straight stitching, seem ripping, hot gluing), and turned out super cute!

SPIDER – I think this is my favorite because it’s clearly homemade but super cute, comfortable, and fun! Everyone loved it! It actually took me awhile to find what I wanted as the base…plain black long underwear-type separates. I found them at Target, as a set, and bought two sets (so I had two shirts and two pants – for all those “legs”!).

I started by removing (cutting off) a set of arms and a set of legs. These I then sewed shut (the ends where the ankles and wrists would be) and filled with stuffing. The most annoying part here was ripping out the seams all along both sides of the shirt that was uncut. I then took the stuffed arms and legs and stitched them back into the seams, leaving equal space between them all. Viola, the top now had six “legs” (four stuffed, two for my son’s actual arms) plus we would have his two real legs as the other two spider legs for the grand total of eight. Whew.

One problem – the legs all just drooped. I originally debated about using wire (like for the black cat’s tail) but realized that they would get in my son’s way. So instead I just used black ribbon to attach all of the “legs” together…so when we raised his real arm, the other two below raised as well. It turned out so cute and he loved showing people his “legs”. 🙂


One last thing – I used the extra fabric from the middle of the cut/armless shirt to make a little beanie hat. Yeah, I could have bought a black hat but this was free. I then glued on large googley eyes. The spider was done and, again, didn’t require much actual skill on my part.

Overall, I really loved this theme and both the ease and cuteness of these costumes. We got lots of compliments and my kids were really thrilled. 🙂 In fact, the two pictures here are the only ones we have because we were too busy having fun…which is the whole point, right?!


Average Mom “Art”

Listen, I am not an artist or Martha Stewart, nor am I vying for any Pinterest prizes. I don’t have time for elaborate art projects or crafty things for the kids. In my world, if it takes the adult longer to plan and prepare than it takes the kids to execute, the adult is losing. I prefer winning and this gem is winning…

So my kids love to paint, which we do with some frequency. Usually good old printer paper and cheap watercolors. But every now and then we bust out a canvas because 1. they think it’s really special and it makes them really happy and 2. canvases can be really, really cheap when on sale at Michaels. And they think it’s special for two reasons…it is “real art” and we hang them on the wall in our hallway (I have got to get a picture of that to share!). They absolutely love having their art displayed and, if I’m honest, I do too…my favorite walls in the whole house are the hallway filled with my kids paintings!

But anyway, I digress, as usual. We didn’t have a ton of time today so instead of everyone getting their own canvas, I wanted them to work on one. Have you ever tried to get a 3, 4.5, and 6 year old to work together on a painting? Yeah, don’t try it. Unless you do this:


Everyone absorbed in their work!

You’ve seen it on Pinterest, I don’t need to give you detailed directions – just use painters tape to tape off a letter (or shape or design) on a canvas, give them some paints, and let them go to it! There was some concern from the oldest that all the colors would mix together to make “mud” so we picked to use just cool colors, which I think was an excellent choice. They really had a good time, took the job quite seriously, and the finished product is fantastic – one of my favs because I know they all worked together on it! They were SO excited to peel of the tape and then even more excited to show their dad when he got home from work. I cannot wait to get this one up on the wall! 🙂


The finished work of art! A true Masterpiece!




Summer Fun!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions – and strange looks! – when people find out we don’t “do” anything over the summer. No long weeks away, no month-long summer road trip, no camps, no summer school or daycare or mother’s day out, no babysitter or nanny. Nope, just me (pregnant) with a 6-year-old, almost-5-year-old, and just-turned-3-year-old. All day. Oh, and remember, we don’t do screen time at all (for personal reasons and reasons like this). Yes, I am tired by the end of the day, but I’m in my third trimester and it’s literally 100 degrees everyday and I’m playing with three young kids – you’d be tired too! And admittedly a break would be nice some times – I am not some supermom, I’m not here to make you feel guilty because all I do is gush about how perfect my life is and how I enjoy every moment with my kids. Nope, sometimes they annoy me and I want to run away just like every other parent. 🙂 But overall, we are enjoying our summer and having fun and my mental state is just fine. So…to answer the big question…what exactly do we DO all day and all week!?!?

First of all, my favorite part of summer…as a kid, as a teenager, even as an adult (since I was a teacher) is the change of pace, the slowing down, the not having to rush and be scheduled. So we slow our pace a lot over the summer. I do maintain our general wake-eat-sleep schedule because, well, I believe kids do better with routine and schedule (and one of mine, in particular, needs to stick to our basic routine). We still wake up around the same time and of course we still brush our teeth and make our beds and all that, but we take our time and some days we stay in pajamas half the day…one less Momma vs Toddler battle! 🙂

Generally, the first hour or so of the morning (after breakfast, of course) is just free play on their own….legos or dress up or trains or the hit of the summer, playing “family”. They play with the things we always have available, they use their imagination, they play by themselves or with their siblings, but not with me…while I get ready for the day, do dishes, start a load of laundry, etc. We do this for two reasons: 1. for me – I need to have my bed made and be feeling productive. 2. for them – I also feel very strongly that kids need free play, they need to be turned lose to entertain themselves, figure out how to play with others, and just have unstructured fun. For some great articles on free play check out this and this.

One or two days a week we try to get out of the house – in the morning hours and mostly indoors because it is ungodly hot here. That may be someplace we have a membership or someplace that is free or very low cost (because even inexpensive adds up with three kids). Our list includes…the library (free) to check out new books, the art museum (free), the science museum (we have a membership), story time (free), a local or new park/playground (free), the butterfly garden (membership), a splash pad (city ones are free), children’s aquarium (low cost), open gym time at the rec center (super low cost), special events thru many of the museums or libraries (free, I just check all the calendars frequently), the mall (free to walk around, we usually check out the fountains and art and buy a small snack), and if I’m feeling really brave and energized, a city pool (free or low cost).

One day a week, usually Monday or Tuesday, we need to go to the grocery store and maybe run another errand or two. Yes, it’s easier without kids, but I don’t really have that option. And frankly, it’s an activity and a learning opportunity. My kids help me meal plan (at this point, mostly give their opinions BUT I make them help think of a veggie or side to go with the main meal), with making the grocery list, they retrieve things from the shelves and help pick the produce, they unload the cart onto the conveyor belt, they help carry in groceries and put them away – they are learning important life skills and realizing that this stuff doesn’t just magically get done on it’s own! I often incorporate in little math or letter recognition questions as we go and I love when they suddenly learn to “read” (or at least recognize) a word or when they want to try new foods!

On the days we “just” stay home, we do a lot more free play. We might ride bikes/scooters or play in the backyard in the morning, but it gets so hot here that we are inside a lot. This is when the really elaborate lego inventions get built or a magantile tower reaches the sky (or at least as tall as the tallest kid can reach!). We might make an indoor obstacle course or we bust out the sensory bin (we love colored rice or water beads or pom-poms) or do an experiment (like our “snow“!). There’s also always the old trick of coloring on a big box and then pretending its a fort or whatever. Our “art projects” are never very elaborate and never planned ahead of time, and they don’t need to be! Forget Pinterest…kids love a bank canvas and some paint! Or scissors, construction paper, and glue! Many times I get them started on something but then I can tackle some project – this summer, with a new baby on the way, my “nesting” has been insane so projects have been cleaning out and organizing…sometimes they even help with that! One thing I love – I often find one or all three of my babies quietly “reading” (no, my 3-year-old isn’t a genius, but he does like to look at books and make up stories or “recite” what he remembers). I love books almost as much as I love my family, so this makes my heart especially happy. We do A LOT of reading together when they are little and we still read several books every day before nap time (to all kids, even those who don’t nap) and before bedtime, plus sometimes randomly throughout the day. So they get it honestly and I’d say every day this summer has had at least an hour or more of books time! That’s a win for everyone!

So that’s our low-key, laid-back, not-stressing-to-entertain summer. I’ve got no pinterest pictures to share, we were too busy having fun or just relaxing. 🙂 And I’m very thankful for the time we’ve had, even if I do feel just a little nutty. Only five more days until school starts – but who’s counting?! 😉