growing up good

mothering, homeschooling, and me

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Tape City Take-Down

A little over 10 days ago, I taped out a little city on my kitchen floor. You can read about that here. I had meant for the tape to stay down for just a couple day, but a couple turned into 10. Honestly, I was not looking forward to crawling around on my hands and knees and discovering just how much my floor needs a good scrubbing.

Evidently, the tape was getting to my husband! After dinner, he instigated a “Hey, Elliot, how big of a piece of tape do you think you can pull up?” challenge. It was ON! Both Elliot and Mary were on floor, trying to carefully pull up the tape. They were doing a mighty fine job, too! Mary managed to snag a 2-ft piece! Of course, I didn’t have my camera out at that point, but their dedication to getting the tape up inspired me to go grab it!


DSC_0146Even Edison helped!



From an educational perspective, this activity worked on hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and household responsibility.

But more importantly, I had help cleaning up!





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Confessions of a Consigning Junkie

Last fall's clothes, all ready to be sold!

Last fall’s clothes, all ready to be sold!

I love children’s clothing. I do, I’ll admit it.

Since I became a mom, I’ve looked for ways to dress my children that doesn’t make me half to get another job. It wasn’t very long before I discovered the world of children’s consignment sales, or, as they’re called here in Illinois: resales.

There are national/regional sales like Just Between Friends, Munchkin Markets, Rhea Lanas, WeeTrade, Big Red Wagon, etc.  My favorite sale by far, is the Growing Cents of Style sale in Barrington, IL. You can find out info on that one here.   I liked it so much I became a consignor a year ago. I’ve got two sales under my belt now as a consignor, and I’ve learned a few things.

If you’re going to consign, here are some things you can do to maximize your sales (if you’re NOT consigning and just shopping, scroll down, I’ve got tips for that, too!):

1) Wash and iron your outfits. Make sure everything is zipped, buttoned, and tied. The nicer it looks on the hanger, the more appealing it is to the buyer.

2) Sell as many of your items in outfits as you can. Outfits sell better than separates. Even if the brands don’t match, as long as the clothing does, it’s ok.  Ex: a Baby gap top paired with a Gymboree skirt (as long as they go together) will sometimes sell better together than apart.

3) Decide on your $$ game plan: do you want to get top dollar for your items, or do you want to sell a lot of items? If you just want to clean out your closets, price your items on the lower side- the lower, the price, the more items you will sell. Small sizes- especially those under 1 year, need to be CHEAP. Those racks are usually the most packed, and you’ve got to price your items low or you will end up hauling them all back home when you’re done.  Trust me, I just had to re-price at least a dozen baby girl outfits (and those are the ones left after I gave a bunch away to a friend) because I didn’t price them low enough last year.

Now, there are some items that are a little more sentimental, but I’d be willing to get rid of them…for a price. I try to limit myself to only one or two of these items per sale. If I’m too attached, I just put it back in the box rather than try to price it higher.  I don’t care how adorable it is, no one is going to pay $15 for a used size 2t dress just because I’m not ready to let go of it yet.

4)If you’re selling your baby gear, check Craigslist to see what similar items are going for in your area, and then take a few bucks off. Why? because you want to SELL your items. The last sale I went to had no fewer than 30 exersaucers- all priced in the $15-25 range. And PLEASE clean your gear before you try to sell it. No one wants to buy a crusty high chair! 🙂

5) Include accessories, if you can/have them. Barrettes, hats, tights, socks, if you’ve got matching items that are in good condition, put them all together. It makes it SO much easier for the shopper if it’s all together! If you can, put them in a ziploc so you can see all items, tape it shut, and attach with a zip tie or safety pin.

6) Which reminds me- make sure your items are on your hangars securely! Sometimes, these sales get crazy. Make sure all your items are pinned together, too.  The more time you take to hang them properly, the less likely they are to get separated or fall off the hangar during the sale.

If you are GOING to a consignment sale, here are some tips to help you have a good experience:

1) Read the rules. Some sales allow bags, some don’t. Some allow strollers, some don’t. Some provide baskets, some require you to bring your own. Read the fine print, and follow the rules.

2) Note start times and policies: what time will the doors open? What time can you start lining up? Do they give out numbers or do you have to stay there the whole time until door open?

3) Get there early!

4) Get there late! Some sales offer half-priced items on the last day or hours of the sale. Often times items that were overpriced for the regular part of the sale (and therefore unsold) are a new bargain at half price!

5) Many of these sales get CRAZY. Be prepared for long lines, crowds, noise. If this is an issue for you, consider going to the sale later in the day.

6) Go with a plan. Know the sizes your kids will be in for the season of the sale. Know what they have, what they need. Write it down. Yes, that means going through their clothes before the sale, even if that means you’re going through summer clothes in February. I have gone in with just a mental list, and I forget things, and I get overwhelmed by the crowds and amount of stuff. I lose focus, and then I don’t come home with what I need.

An example of a list I’ll make:

Elliot: size 6. Needs shorts: denim and sporty, t shirts, new soccer shin guards. Doesn’t need pjs, swimsuit, jeans or socks. Could use a dressy outfit. Needs a spring jacket. Likes orange, green.

Mary: Size 4T. Needs play shorts, tshirts, sundresses (2-3).  Doesn’t need a raincoat or boots. Look for tap shoes, size (    ). Also needs a jacket.

Edison: Size 2T. Only needs 2-3 outfits. No pjs. Rain boots size 7.

Toys/furniture: looking for a desk (Mary), a shelf for Elliot’s room, another cozy coupe (so they stop fighting over it!).

7) Finally, either while you’re in line waiting to check out or before you get in line, go through every.single.item.  Inspect each piece, front and back for stains, rips, tears, etc.  Check to make sure zippers zip and all buttons are there. Check that the sizes match what they’re listed as on their sale tag. Sometimes people will pair a size 3T top with a 2T bottoms. Maybe that works for you, maybe it doesn’t, but at least you’ll know before you buy it.

Well that’s it. Most of my consigning knowledge. Hopefully, someone will find it useful!

I’m also curious to know what sales are like in other parts of the country- if anyone from other areas actually reads this, please comment on your experiences!


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Tracks: not for the neat freaks.

Tracks is what I call an activity we like to do on a once-in-awhile basis. Why? Because flour is messy. It’s almost glitter messy. However, I’ve found that with the help of a vacuum, this activity is totally worthwhile.

All you need is a cookie sheet or cake pan (or any other receptacle), about 1/2 cup flour, and a couple cars.

That’s it.

Familiar with this activity (though it's been awhile), Elliot dove right in.

Familiar with this activity (though it’s been awhile), Elliot dove right in.

Mary had her own way of playing, SO much neater than her brother, which isn't typical for her.

Mary had her own way of playing, SO much neater than her brother, which isn’t typical for her.

Edison dove right in, as if he's done this this activity a million times before (it was his first)!

Edison dove right in, as if he’s done this this activity a million times before (it was his first)!

All three kids played their own way, it was so neat to see how each one took to this activity.



When I got out the vacuum, Elliot and Mary actually wanted to help me clean up! Woot! I’ll jump at that offer!

When he finished with his cars, he vacuumed the table AND the floor for me! Woo-hoo!

When he finished with his cars, he vacuumed the table AND the floor for me! Woo-hoo!



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Jumping on the Ice Balloon Bandwagon

We’re in the middle (maybe the end?) of a cold spell here in Chicagoland.  It hasn’t been too bad here, really. Most of our days have at least stayed above zero. I’ve got friends and family in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa that have suffered through much worse temps than us.  I haven’t experienced negative 45 wind chills since I was in college in South Dakota, but my friends there experienced them this week!

One of those friends has a knack for making lemonade, so to speak. The cold temps inspired her to give one of those pins on Pinterset a whirl, and she and her kids set out on an ice balloon adventure, and she shared her picutres on Facebook.

Those pictures inspired ME to get more creative. We’re a bit isolated this week- 2 of my 3 have had colds that have kept us home all week. Seriously. ALL. WEEK. Just when I thought they were getting better, a return fever sent us to the dr midweek, and that was our only outing. Whew. We made it though! And one of those days, I decided we’d give those colorful Ice Balloons a try.

Here’s what you do.

Take a balloon.

Put a few drops of food coloring in it.

Fill it with water, close it with a knot.


Pop the balloon, revealing the frozen colored ice inside.

Enjoy the pretty.

I learned, after filling my first balloon, that you need to put the food coloring in first. Oops. So, we have one clear/white ice balloon (which still looks pretty cool).

Here’s our little experiement:

Step 3: Freeze.

Step 3: Freeze.


1 day later: Frozen.

Elliot was excited to break them open.

Elliot was excited to break them open.


And super-duper excited with the results!

And super-duper excited with the results!


Mary couldn't wait to help pop a few too.

Mary couldn’t wait to help pop a few too.

And now we've got a colorful view from our table.

And now we’ve got a colorful view from our table.

The kids LOVED this activity! When we were filling them we talked about colors, and what colors are made when mixed, etc. The yellow-red mixture made a very pretty orange, but the blue-red mixture made the ice ball that looks brown. Hmmm.




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Leftover Turkey, cranked up a notch, 2 ways!

Last weekend I roasted a turkey breast. I follow Ina Garten’s recipe here. The only substitutions I make are dried herbs, at roughly 1/3 the quantity, for the fresh herbs (because I never seem to have all the fresh herbs on hand, especially in the winter). It’s delicious, and becoming my staple roasting recipe.

Usually when I’ve got turkey leftovers, I make a delicious and comforting cheesy turkey concoction that goes great on a crusty roll.  However, I’m trying to lighten it up a bit this month, and came up with 2 great ways to use my leftover turkey in a healthier way.

Yes, you could just make a turkey sandwich, use light may and once slice of bread. That thought did cross my mind. But I’m in the mindset right now to cram as many veggies in per meal as I can, so here’s what I did. You can include everything but the cucumbers and avocado and have the core components of 2 meals at once. I’ll include the details of the 2 below.

All ingredients are estimates, increase/decrease as your taste desires (and if you don’t have that much turkey, that’s ok, just up the veggies):

3-4 cups cooked, de-boned, and chopped turkey

1/4 chopped onion (green, red, yellow, whatever)

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

3/4 cup diced cucumber

1/2 red pepper, diced

2 Tbs cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, sliced and chunked

Seasoning: I used 2 tsp of Wildtree’s Adobe Lime Rub (which was AMAZING), but you could use a fajita or taco seasoning, or just salt and pepper, whatever your taste is, really! I’d recommend a squeeze of citrus, it adds a great flavor!

Gently mix together, it will look like this:


Option 1: Flavorful Southwest Turkey Avocado Salad

Serve as-is on a bed of lettuce. Dress with a mexi-ranch dressing (light, if you wish), a lite-sour cream/salsa combo, or light ranch (which was my choice).  Top with a sprinkle of cheese if you like (I love cheese), tomatoes too.

Option 2: SW Avocado-Turkey Wrap

This was the recipe that inspired the salad. I mixed in 2 Tbs of lite mayo to the above mixture, spooned a couple scoops onto a wheat tortilla (I found ones that are lower in fat, calories and carbs than the ones we usually get, but not as expensive as the low-carb option!), topped with some shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, and wrapped it up. For this part I didn’t add the avocado to the mixture, but sliced the halved avocado and put  the slices on top before I wrapped it up. It was delish!

Other ingredients that would taste great with this mixture:

black beans


tortilla strips (the chip kind)

those taco-salad chip bowls