An Uncomplicated Life Blog

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Girl Time Activities

Painting With A Twist is a great way to break the "dinner and a movie" mold of date night and is a blast for girls night!

My sister was in town over the weekend because my husband had an irregularly long work trip that spanned the whole weekend in addition to the regular work week. So he did me a solid and flew my sister out to Dallas to help me manage my rascals I mean sons keep me company. A few days before she arrived, I found out I'd have the opportunity to partner with Painting With A Twist and I thought hey! This could be a fun night out with my sister. She's artsy. I'm wanna be artsy. So I scheduled my nanny to come for an evening and we got some quality time together with paint and wine.

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The schedule at the Dallas location was full of different themes and events we could attend. They even had children-friendly classes, although paint + my children = a hot mess, therefore, I opted for a child-free event. And, I think the kid events start at age 5 or 8, so we're still a bit too young for it. Anyway, since my life revolves around childcare, it just so happened that the event we could attend was called "Stormy Night." We'd be painting a cloudy city line with a bridge over water.

We were the first to arrive and introduced ourselves. Quickly, we learned this was a BYOB event and we hadn't brought any wine. Boo! My sister isn't a big drinker, and I was driving, so we settled for water. As everyone else rolled in, we realized that we were the sober minority. Our leaders, David and Victoria, were extremely outgoing and welcoming.

Victoria had a unique accent that wasn't quite German but definitely wasn't from a romance language. Later, we learned that she was born in Brazil but moved to Sweden and served on the Swedish army for years. How one goes from the Swedish army to a painter I'll never know (side note- I thought they were such a neutral-based country, I wasn't even aware they had an army! I mean, every country has one but... It's Sweden! They never fight because they're so passive aggressive, right?!)

Victoria got on the stage and began leading us through the steps on how to paint our backgrounds. I got so into it, I splattered paint all over my DSLR camera! Thankfully, the lens cap was on. I even got a little on my iPhone. That's when I decided I'd better put away the expensive electronics. My sister, on the other hand, leaned over and was like, "You know what would make this more fun? WINE." Fortunately, there was a gas station across the street and she's an advanced painter. So while everyone else finished up their backgrounds, she went on a booze run and came back with the finest Pinot Grigio to be found at a convenience store.

Blank canvas
Completed background
After the backgrounds were done, we used chalk to outline how the city line should look, and where we should put the pillars of the bridge. Then we went to town filling in our lines with acrylic paint. Turns out, painting straight lines isn't my forte. My bridge turned out a little more abstract than I intended... Or, perhaps that was the wine, it's hard to say.

We wrapped up a little later than the class was planned for, but they told us that would happen at the beginning. I guess we were supposed to use a stencil for the bridge, but our instructor wanted to teach us how to free hand it. No wonder my lines were so shaky! I needed a dang stencil. That's my story, anyway.

The finished product! Mine is on the left and my sister's on the right.
This was a super fun and unique way to spend an evening! I'd say there were more people on date nights there than women together having an outing, but it would be fun either way. All too often we get caught in the "dinner and a movie" trap for date night, and "dinner and wine" night for girl night. Break the mold and do something different for your girl time activities! We were able to chat the whole time, laugh at each other, enjoy some fine gas station wine and get out of the house at Painting With A Twist. They have a bajillion locations around the country, so click that link to check them out!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Preschool Drop Off Tips and Tricks

Dropping your child off at preschool can be traumatizing for both parent and child. Use these tips for an easier school drop off!

It feels weird to be writing this in the middle of July. Especially since I've just dropped my kids off for one of the remaining weeks of their summer preschool camps. Down here in Texas, the school year starts back up in August and goes until May, and I wanted to get this out there before the first wave of kiddos goes back! Ahhh, preschool drop off. This may even apply to older students, but since my kids are just in preschool I don't have experience with that yet. I do, however, have a great system down for dropping HAPPY (read: no screaming and no crying!) kids off at school and have seen plenty of parents make mistakes that only makes the situation worse. Read on for some funny tales of preschool drop off, and my tips and tricks for making it easier on EVERYONE (including you, your kids, your kid's classmates and other parents). 

If you've been to a preschool drop off, you know what I'm talking about. It's like a war zone those first few weeks of school. Complete chaos. Screaming kids, clueless parents, everyone is in the way, nobody can hear anyone else. Seriously, a baby-infused war zone. I absolutely dread the first few weeks of school because it's such a zoo getting my kids into their classrooms!

Preschool drop off doesn't have to be a nightmare of tantrums and crying if you follow these easy tips

There's the "frantic mom" who woke up late, doesn't know where her purse is, doesn't understand how to take a lunchbox out of a backpack and hang it on her child's hook, loses her older child because shes's taking so long trying to get everything together, doesn't understand how to use an iPad for signing in, doesn't know if she's paid tuition, lost her shot record sheets, and on and on. This mom annoys me, but I feel for her, since she looks so frazzled and frantic. I want to slip her a Xanax and say, "Go home and pour yourself a big glass of wine and take this. It's ok. School is a whopping 5 hours long. Your child WILL be ok without you for five hours!"

Then there's the "explaining mom." Ohhhhh, this one gets me! I don't even feel for this mom. She holds up the whole line by monopolizing the teacher's time with every small, mundane and unnecessary detail about HER child. There's 12-16 kids in the classroom sweetheart, I promise you the teacher isn't going to pay that much attention to your kid, remember what you're telling them, or really - care about that level of detail. They have a system down. Let them be the teacher! Let them be the leader! Shut up about your kid already! You're making every other parent and child wait while you give your speech about your child. You create hallway backups and add to the anxiety of other kids. You are a figgin problem!

The next mom I see often is the "clingy mom." She can't seem to walk away after she's dropped off her child. She hugs him or her several times, reminds the child that she loves them very much, and right as she's about to walk away so the next family can deposit their kid in class, she steps over you to go back into the classroom and kiss the kid again. This usually (no, ALWAYS) results in that kid losing their sh*t, screaming and crying for mom. This mom makes a big deal of her exit and in turn causes a total scene. I'm convinced this mom loves drama and all eyes on her. Once she has everyone (rolling) their eyes at her, she has to put on a show of how much she loves her child and how hard it is to leave.

Then, friends, there's the moms like me. I've got the lunch box out, backpack on the hook, and kid signed in on the iPad in less than 30 seconds. I give my child a high give or a quick kiss on the cheek, and immediately leave the scene. I trust the the teachers have got the situation under control. And guess what? If they don't, I know I'll get a phone call! Efficient, quick, in and out is my style. And guess what? My kids are the ones who don't cry at drop off, are self assured and confident. No be mistaken, I wasn't always this mom! I had a learning curve - even with each kid. I've been the clingy mom and I've been the frantic mom. It's because of my mistakes that I'm able to confidently give you these tips.

My sweet peanut on his first day of preschool last year

Here's the thing: The longer you drag preschool drop off on, the worse it is for your child. They have time to understand that mommy is leaving. It builds anxiety. They cling to you as opposed to getting interested in a toy or activity the teachers have out, ready for their arrival. The longer you make preschool drop off and the more anxious YOU are, the worse THEY'RE going to be. And once you have a crying kid, other kids start to cry, and you've created a whole mess of preschool drop off. So here are some tips, mamas and daddies:

1) Do your research. Email the teacher, headmaster, principal, or parent coordinator a few(ish) weeks in advance so you know what they expect of parents at drop off. This will prevent you from being the frantic mom! If they don't allow juice (our school doesn't) then you'll know not to pack it. If they want your child's lunches out and placed somewhere, you'll know to have that ready. You'll be familiar with the sign in procedure and have a heads up on the general process. The more you know, the calmer you are and in turn, the calmer your child is. Win-win.

2) Make it fast. Whatever the protocol is at your school, learn it fast and do it efficiently. At our school, parents are responsible for hanging backpacks on their child's hook and getting lunches out and placed on a shelf, then signing their kid in. There's a rhythm to it. Learn it and make your life easier.

3) Don't block the hallways. As soon as your child is dropped off, get out of people's way! Our school is a small church school, so any parent that assumes a conversation in the hallway is in EVERYONE'S way. I'm not saying don't say hi to parents you know or don't socialize, just move it to a location where kids aren't waiting to be dropped off or picked up. Also, probably not at the top or bottom of stairs, either. Man, people love to stop there and chat! No. Don't do that.

If you've got a kid headed to preschool this fall, congrats! You've just gained a few more hours of freedom and are providing them foundation skills they'll use for the rest of their educational career. Early childhood learning has been proven essential for future success in and out of the classroom. High five to you, parents! Just please... Don't be any of the "moms" I listed (at least, don't be her for long - we all make mistakes!) Use these preschool drop off tips for non-crying success this fall! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

Easy to make and customizable, these DIY bracelets diffuse your favorite essential oils all day long!

It's been a minute since I posted anything essential oils related. It was a massive bummer to have to take all those posts down since they were, by far, my post popular posts, and frankly, it made me not want to talk about essential oils at all anymore. But I'l licking my battle wounds/destroyed page views and moving forward! Something cool that I know that I can talk about is making your own diffuser bracelet. What I like about this is that it doesn't look any different than a regular mala bead-type bracelet so the diffusing part is under wraps, but your body heat and the lava rock keep those oils coming at you all day long. Affiliate links used.

Another cool thing about this is that you can make it to reflect your style. I loved the amber and jade combination, but you could literally do any color combo, size of bead, shape of bead, etc etc that fit your style. The key part, if you want to use these as an essential oil diffuser too, is to include a porous rock that will absorb the essential oil and react to your body heat to keep it "activated" (or diffusing) on you for as long as you wear the bracelet. I went with a lava rock because it's extremely porous and the essential oil I used soaked right in. In fact, I added the oil three days ago and it's still going strong (I have the bracelets sitting right next to me as I type this).

I threaded mine on elastic, and working with elastic takes a little getting used to. I learned a few tricks as I went, so no - this DIY isn't as easy as picking out beads, cutting string the length of the circumference of your wrist, beading and tying a knot. Read on for the tips so you don't get frustrated!

DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet  
- Porous rock bead (like these)
- Other stone or glass beads of choice (I used these and these)
- Elastic threading
- scissor

Cut the elastic MUCH larger than what you'll need to fit around your wrist. I wanted these to fit right at my wrist (no bangle effect - that drives me nuts!) but not so tight it would leave imprints. I ended up doubling the length I initially measured for my wrist, and that made the process so much easier.

Tie a small knot on one end of the elastic. This will prevent the beads from falling off the other end. Pick a pattern for your bracelet: I did one that alternated the three beads I selected; one that did three of one separated by one of the amber beads; and on that doubled the amber and surrounded the lava rock with a jade bead. Whatever your pattern, make sure that there's a start and a finish to the design so that when you tie the bracelet together, the pattern is seamless. Example: I started the 3:1 jade/amber design with an amber bead, and ended with three jade beads. This way, when I tied it together, the pattern is the same all the way around.

After you've threaded your beads, pull them to the center of your overly large elastic. Make sure the bead pattern is the right length for your wrist by wrapping it around to double check. Then use the long length of the extra elastic to tie three knots. You'll want to pull the elastic extremely tight to tighten the knot properly! As in, I thought I might break the thread.  But this way, it wont come undone!

After you're done with all your designs, use a small plate and add about three drops of whatever essential oil you want diffused on you all day. Roll the lava bead (or whatever porous bead you decided to use) in the oil.  The three drops of oil covered all three of my bracelets.

Wear and enjoy the smell! I used Peace and Calming essential oil on mine, and was told by two people later that day that I smelled amazing. Which is hysterical to me, because I shower about twice a week... If you need a boost, you can lift the bracelets to your nose and smell directly. Some other great oils to use would be lavender and cedarwood for relaxation, lemon and peppermint for energy, or orange for a mood boost.

Like it?Pin it! DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet