crafty: diy quick leaf crown for toddlers

leaf crown words pixel

Let the Imperfect Crafting Games begin! This is either the beginning of a whole lotta spontaneous kid-crafting for us, or it’s a one-off. We’ll see. But the other night I decided my little prince (now 21 months) needed a crown. I was inspired by the **abundance** of leaves on our property and also by one of his favorite books, The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman.

The Crown on Your Head

If you’re not familiar with her books, they’re beautifully written and illustrated. Very magical. The only problem is that they are so touching they make me weep. In this one, every kid has a crown representing all that is unique and special about them…”With your crown made of glittering, high-flying things, you’ve got wind in your pocket, your wishes have wings…” Sniff sniff.

Anyway, first, we went out to the yard and gathered some leaves in this cart. I assure you, this was VERY important business requiring serious curatorial skills. “How about THIS one?” our son kept saying.

cart with leaves

Then I tore off a piece of wide painter’s tape, guestimating for the length. (You could measure your child’s head first if you are more meticulous than I.) I laid it out on the kitchen floor with the sticky side up. (We don’t have a little table for him yet.) I taped the ends to the floor so it would stay in place.

leaf crown toddler tape

I was in charge of sticking the leaves on the tape and Ian was in charge of pressing them down so they were flat-flat-flat (he was also apparently in charge of pulling many of them back off and returning them to their rightful place in the cart…but I am blessed with long arms and managed a quick retrieval when he wasn’t looking.)

crown craft painters tape

Then we sealed it up with another layer of tape so it wouldn’t stick to his hair. (For his stuffed animals, I skipped this step so the crowns would stick to them…) Then I snipped off some of the dangling stems and, voila!

leaf crown toddler stuffed animals

In case it’s not clear, here’s what’s going on in this photo:

Teddy, with sarcasm: Thanks for the crown, it goes perfectly with the outfit I’ve been wearing now for OVER A MONTH.

Lamb, with indignation: At least you got real clothes – I’ve been wearing these “ball” pajamas for the same amount of time and I don’t even like sports.

Little Prince: Let me see the picture! Even before you’ve taken it!

The crown stayed on his head for about 3.6 seconds with the help of some strawberry flavored puffs.

leaf craft puffs

This is my kind of craft : quick, simple, and utilizing items that are already in the house (or just outside of it). And no hot glue gun – something that terrifies me, though maybe I’ll get over this. There are probably at least 55,000 different ways to make these crowns. In fact, here are some beautiful versions presented by Rain or Shine Mama.

Have you done any good leaf crafts with your little kiddies? Please leaf (hee hee) a comment.  If you’re on the market for some more easy ones, here is a nice round-up on Bon Bon Break.

Happy Fall!

By the way, feel free to follow me on twitter…all tweets come with a bonus pine cone (until supplies last. which will be. forever.)

kitchen weather patterns: feeding a toddler


I recently learned that putting a pile of Parmesan on a toddler’s tray then turning your back even briefly to wash a dish, wipe the counter, or open a piece of mail is basically asking for blizzard-like conditions in your kitchen.

In fact, it turns out the weather can change at the drop of a…plate.

For example, if you give a small child a cup of water without a lid, prepare for a Tsunami.

Bowl of soup? Flood.

Granola with milk plus high winds created by flailing arms: Hurricane.

A ramekin of coconut? Flurries.

Bowl of steamed broccoli spun round and round with tip of index finger? Tornado with trees flying.

Of course, spaghetti with red sauce will result in a (un)natural disaster too horrible to name.


How’s the weather in your kitchen? Is it, I dare ask, ever sunny? And if so, I can only imagine that has something to do with splattered eggs…

By the way, you can follow me on twitter here.

are you drinking too much coffee?

morning+without+coffee(image source)

In honor of National Coffee Day, I was just wondering if you are drinking too much coffee…Because, you know, I don’t have this addiction myself – oh no no no – but I thought I’d try to help you in case your consumption is getting out of hand. Since the first step is of course realizing you have a problem, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

Are your hands so jittery they flap faster than hummingbird wings? In fact, when hummingbirds pass you on the street, do they temporarily stop flapping in order to point, laugh, and capture a video they can post on vine?

Can people hear your heart beating from miles away? Do your neighbors regularly call the cops complaining about your “crappy techno music?” But you don’t like crappy techno music and never have?

Did you get a second sink installed in your kitchen that spouts only coffee?

During the rare nights that you fall asleep, do you have dreams about rivers of coffee, walking toward them, kneeling down, and slurping from cupped hands? Do you have similar dreams about caffeinated waterfalls and geysers?

Have your friends attempted an intervention? Did they hold a mirror up to your face so you could see how yellow your teeth have become?

When your friends invite you out for drinks, do you order coffee? Or do you order coffee and a drink? Or worse, do you order a coffee with a drink poured into it?

When you have trouble falling asleep, do you get up and drink a cup of coffee hoping it will give you that extra boost of energy you need to close your eyelids?

Are you planning a trip to Columbia?

Does your child know and accept that Mommy’s ever-present “water” is brown with a slightly pungent aroma?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are definitely drinking too much coffee. Get some help, already! And by that, I mean, get some more coffee.

*Note that I used a lot of creativity and no personal experience to create this highly-scientific self assessment.

** In honor of National Coffee Day, why don’t you support your local INDEPENDENT coffee house?


the home tome’s list of banned baby books

READ Broweseabout Books bumper sticker In honor of banned books week, I decided to ban some baby books.

From our collection.

At least for the time being.

Please know that I very much believe in the freedom to read. If the bumper sticker on my car (pictured above) doesn’t prove this, then I don’t know what does. Though I don’t dare do the actual math, we may have spent billions of dollars on baby books and board books since our son was born 20 months ago: I am not ashamed to admit this. While we have cut costs in other areas, the writer in me is compelled to support authors, book stores, and the book industry. The handful of books we haven’t purchased? This is only because they are out of print. We got these from the library and have already read them at least 44 times each.

There could be a *few* exaggerations in the previous paragraph…the point is that there is a lot of reading going on here and a whole lot of love for books, so I don’t feel bad banning just a few titles. And by banning, I mean tucking them away in our guest room (a.k.a. hoarding room) for later reconsideration. Here’s what’s in there now:

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The Grouchy Ladybug 2

Chill out, little dude. Take your aggression down about fifteen notches and stop picking fights. Maybe consider some deep breathing or meditation exercises and then try to have a calm conversation based on mutual respect. While the artwork in this book is beautiful, the testosterone is not. Of course, in the end, this feisty bug gets exactly what he deserves, i.e. swatted across the land by a huge whale, but last I checked, two wrongs do not make a right.

Instead, we are big big fans of Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?, and corresponding Panda Bear… and Polar Bear…

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess

Green Eggs and Ham

Basically, the whole reason I birthed a child was so that I could read this book to him. I mean, green eggs! Green ham! And in all kinds of crazy locations! I can’t think of anything more silly or delightful. That is, until I read it as a mother of a toddler who is trying to teach her child the beauty of eating a variety of foods THAT ARE GREEN and make doing so seem like the ultimate eating party. Of course, the main character does eventually eat and enjoy the green eggs and ham but only after several pages of demonstrating how fun it is to reject them.

Instead: Dr. Suess’ Book of ABC, Oh the Thinks You Can Think, etc. etc.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

The Runaway Bunny(image source)

If I have any say in this, and I’d like to think I do, my son will never ever see this book again. Once was enough. Because I know the power of books. And I know the power of suggestion. I don’t want my sweet, sweaty, cuddly little ball of love to get any ideas.

Instead: Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, again and again and again for eternity…


How about you? Have you banned any books at your house?

(By the way, that bumper sticker at the top of this post is from the greatest independent bookstore in the universe where I worked for one blissful summer in 1994: Browseabout Books. Visit them in Rehoboth Beach, DE and tell Steve and Barbara I sent you.)



Edward Scissorhands please cut my toddler’s hair

Edward-Scissorhands-08-4image source

Dear Edward (can I call you Ed?),

Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of your work: I have long admired your Robert Smith-like coif, your creative topiaries, and the clever way you can spear a single pea with your fingerblade.

I am writing because my son is in desperate need of a a haircut. In case you are not familiar with the concept, he is what you would call a “toddler,” so when the scissors or buzzers come within 40 feet, he instinctively begins to impersonate a highly-caffeinated worm. He wiggles to an extent that makes a haircut simultaneously impossible and terrifying.

My husband and I have cut his hair 2.5 times. We have avoided those kiddie hair cutting salons because we suspect the wiggling could escalate in an unfamiliar setting. Besides, we once heard that those places occasionally provide the friendly service of passing along head lice and we only needed to hear that once.

For our first attempt, our son was 10 months old. He seemed calmly curious about the process. He sat relatively still and appeared somewhat relaxed, as if the clippers were giving his head a much-needed massage, as if this was relieving all that built-up tension from crawling around and gnawing on rubber teething toys. I saved the clippings for the purpose of posterity, which is something that sentimental women like me tend to do.

first haircut

The second time, at 18 months, he was FAR more aware of his surroundings and the weirdness of the situation: he kept turning his head to examine that intriguing buzzing noise. Once the clippers actually made contact with his head, he jerked around as if getting tickled. Since we are not barbers or hairdressers by trade, nor do we have hands made of scissors, you can imagine that we were more than a little challenged by this task.

The end result was slightly more extreme than intended. It was one part skate board punk rock and one part Professor Fink from the Simpsons (except of course much much cuter):

professor frinkimage source

Note from the following photo that the line around his head was jagged as a jigsaw. He looked more like he’d been attacked by the clippers than trimmed by them. Note also that photo is blurry and not head-on because he was once again busy impersonating a worm, in this case playing an epic game of peek-a-boo with the help of a curtain:

toddler haircut 2

The .5th time was last weekend, at 20 months. We methodically set up a cartoon featuring a group of anthropomorphic trains and handed him a snack with a sugar content much higher than usual. Unfortunately, once clippers were in hand, we realized they might not be fully charged. We decided to abandon the mission in case they pooped out half way through (as if that result would be any worse than if we could finish the haircut). Instead, I did a quick snip-snip with the baby fingernail scissors so he could actually see through his eyeballs and hear through his ears. While I did so, he swatted me away as if I was a pesky fly. Therefore, the rest of his hair remains long, hangs straight down all around his head and appears to be getting longer by the minute. He’s beginning to look as if he’s been the recipient of the dreaded “bowl cut.”

The point is that we are wondering if you have time in your busy schedule to take on this project? We predict that, with your proven dexterity and scissoring savvy plus the relatively small circumference of his head, it will take you about 7 seconds or less. And that kind of turnaround is exactly what we are on the market for. We think we can distract him for almost that long but we of course cannot guarantee it.

What’s in it for you? Perhaps whole plate full of peas? A gift certificate to a local tanning salon? A knife sharpener? Your choice – and of course, you are welcome to try something creative with his hair if you are looking to expand your portfolio.

Please get back to us at your earliest convenience as we are anxious to make stylistic changes immediately. We look forward to partnering with you on this.


The Home Tome

exclamations in celebration of my 200th post!



(Apologies in advance to exclamation point haters – I know you’re out there! Please make an exception just this once, for I can find no other punctuation to adequately express my excited state!)

Zoiks! 200 posts: That’s a lot of navel gazing, over-sharing, and doling out of pretend advice. Some contend that “everything’s already been written” and I agree with this to an extent – especially when you consider cave drawings,  ancient scrolls, essays, books, newspapers, on up to present day blogs and tweets, etc. Sure, it all may have been said, but I still enjoy trying to put my own spin on it and reading the attempts of others as well.

Hooray! In the last three-ish years, I sometimes posted twice a week or more… and sometimes once a month or less. Basically, I have been inconsistently consistent or consistently inconsistent, whichever way you look at it. In that time, a lot of Life has happened, much of it wonderful, some of it sad, and a lot of it documented here. One of the weirdest and coolest things about having a blog (and being a writer in general) is constantly wondering – how would I write about this situation?

Basically, I think with my fingertips. Perhaps a lot of writers do. I process events – big and small – by writing about them. Even though writing, like any creative pursuit, can be occasionally frustrating, I feel lucky that I have this outlet. Fun things have happened since I started the home tome: I have been “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress three times, (to see those fascinating posts, click here, here, here); I wrote and published a humor book about the hazards of homeownership, and I have had several articles published around interwebs.

Thank You! Merci! Grazie! Danke! This makes it sound as if I have a multi-lingual, international, jetsetting following, which may or may not be the case. I do know I have many loyal readers near and far. THANK YOU for taking the time to check in and contributing to this dialogue. I have certainly appreciated your comments, many of which have given me a good chuckle. It is my goal to try to see the lighter side of this often difficult/ sometimes mundane/ and slightly terrifying journey – this venue has helped me to remember to laugh. And laughter is best shared. Having written in many different formats and types of venues, I have to say that blogging is EXTREMELY gratifying – the immediacy of the audience, and the opportunity to connect with readers and other writers so directly is straight-up amazing.

I’d also like to thank my husband Rob for not only being a sounding board but also a source of creative and humorous inspiration. I really appreciate his acceptance and encouragement to spill the so-called beans on our home life.

Finally, I’d like like to thank the mushrooms, yes the mushrooms. Since my first post, they have been standing tall on my header above. They have unexpectedly popped up on our lawn and elsewhere in my path. They keep reminding me that magic is always just around the corner.

Here we go! Though this started as a home and lifestyle blog (i.e. my “housey” blog), it has gradually become more mommy-centric. I am letting my circumstances lead me and trying to be open to changes (isn’t this the definition of parenthood?) For example, I made some design modifications i.e. a new spiffy “theme”- do you approve?

In other news, I just started TWEETING, despite five years of resistance. I am surprised to say that I am having fun with it. If you’d like to follow me, you can do so here, or click over in the new twitter part of my sidebar —–>. (Instagram, etc etc, etc may be next, but one social media step at a time…)

Seriously, thanks. Exclamation Point.

mommy wash dishes: greetings from the kitchen sink

dishes in sink 2Sippy cups. Milk bottles. Tiny spoons. Funky bowls and plates meant to make mealtime more fun. Last night’s nasty pan still reeking of salmon. Ad infinitum. Motherhood has changed many things in my life for the better but I can’t say I’m a fan of all this new sink time. And something weird has started happening now that my 20 month-old has started talking:

Whenever I try to walk away from the kitchen sink, he pushes me back toward it and says, “Mommy wash.” This gesture is gentle but firm, and I’m usually compelled to double-back, turn on the faucet again, and dig into the mountain of dishes, etc located there. Sometimes, while toddling around behind me – with a toy car or alphabet magnet in hand – he repeats over and over again, Mommy wash. Mommy wash. Scrubbing diligently, I think about the many possible layers of meaning behind these two simple words.

It’s an encouragement: Mommy wash. As in, keep going, I know you can do it. Remember when I couldn’t get the crocodile piece lined up exactly in the animal puzzle and you told me to keep trying? Same thing. You got this.

It’s an identifier: Mommy wash. As in, this is what you do. This is who you are. Own it.

It’s a comfort: Mommy wash. As in, this is where I am most accustomed to seeing you stand, moving your arms vigorously with suds flying all around, and I feel uncomfortable when you leave this position.

It’s an admonishment: Mommy wash. As in, you probably should have cleaned those up last night, or throughout the day yesterday before they piled up. This is the result of serious slacking, so deal with it.

It’s a preference: Mommy wash. As in, Daddy and I are going to play. First, he is going throw the red airplane and we are going to clap with delight. Then I am going to throw the red airplane and we are going to clap with delight. Next, we’re going to spin the top and possibly read some books or just see where the next hour takes us. Daddy and I will spend that special time together, and you, you will wash.

It’s a brilliant manipulation, my son is a genius: Mommy wash. As in: Daddy, you see how well she rocks these dishes? I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this? She must be the only person in the universe who knows how to do it…

I kid you not, last night when my son said, “Mommy, wash,” my husband chimed in defensively with these exact words,  “I can wash dishes, too, you know.”

(Yes, he really can do dishes, too, and does an admirable job, but in more isolated bursts, and usually early in the morning before our son is awake and therefore without an audience.)

The point is that, yes, Mommy does wash, and wash, and wash (and she works on a many other projects in a myriad of locations) but now she is ready to play.

clean sink

How about you? Do you ever feel like dish soap has become your…main squeeze?