Archive of ‘Kids’ category

DIY Cat Mask Halloween Costume – Fits All

DIY-Cat-Mask-Title Time to bust out your craft supplies because it’s HALLOWEEN! After much back and forth with J, she finally settled on a costume…a black cat. She was also very specific in her requirements for the costume: pink collar with crystals, black paws with white pads, white whiskers on a black mask and a white patch on her chest. While you may commend her for her specificity since she’s only 4 1/2, I can’t give her much credit. There is a picture collage of her first year of life hanging in her room. In it is her first Halloween costume. Guess what it is? Yup.

I decided to make the mask and a few other parts of her costume. I came up with this mask to avoid putting paint on her face. Of course, if your kid doesn’t like wearing masks, then you’ll need a new plan…or costume.

J also decided that I need to be a black cat too. BONUS: The pattern fit my face too, with a slight increase the size of the eye holes. Easy as long as you’re not scissor-phobic. A few extra snips and you should be able to see out of the mask.

Here is what you’ll need to make the mask:

  • Cat mask pattern (download and print the PDF)
  • Black felt (a felt square from the craft store is more than you need)
  • White pipe cleaners (minimum 4)
  • Black elastic
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins (optional, but really helpful)
  • Needle and thread (optional, but again, helpful)

DIY-Cat-Mask-Pattern-PinnedPrint out the cat mask pattern at 100%. I included a 1″ line in case you’re not sure if the pattern is the correct size when printed. The pattern is HALF of the mask. Cut it out of the paper and don’t forget to cut out the eye holes. Fold your felt piece in half and place the pattern on it, with the side where I wrote “fold” lined up over the fold.

The little circle on the pattern indicates where to attach your elastic. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s where the pins come in very handy. Pin around the pattern so it won’t slip while you’re cutting it.

Cut around the outside of the mask. Then cut out the eye holes. This part is a little tricky, but you can handle it! If you mess up, you probably have enough black felt to try one more time.

DIY - Cut out black felt mask

After the felt is cut, hold it up to your child’s face (or your own) and make sure they can see and breath.

Time for the big guns, err, hot glue gun. Fold your pipe cleaners in half and place them on the mask approximately where you want them. I opted for symmetry but you may not be so type-A.

Glue the folded end of the pipe cleaner to the mask. Repeat for all of the whiskers. Once the glue is dry you need to adhere the whiskers to the outer edges of the mask, otherwise they will bop around, sag, and generally look bad. Glue them to the side of the mask or tack them with the needle and thread. Either way will work. I tacked J’s mask since it was the first one I made. I made mine afterwards and used glue because I was getting lazy.

Whiskers glued onto felt mask

This is my mask. Look closely on the left side and you’ll see that I glued the whiskers to the edge of the mask.

IMPORTANT!! Check the length of the whiskers. Cut them if need be. Then DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. Put a small bead of hot glue at the cut end of each whisker so that the wire isn’t so sharp and pokey. Once the glue has cooled slightly, use your finger to smoosh it into the wire. Whiskers are not weapons!

Close up of end of whisker with glue

Add glue to the cut end of each whisker to avoid injury!

Almost done! Grab your elastic and pin it to the mask. Use the circle on the pattern for a point of reference. Again, straight pins will come in handy but not absolutely necessary. Use a safety pin if you have one. Adjust the length of the elastic as needed to fit comfortably around your child’s head.

DIY Cat Mask

I sewed the elastic to the mask to make sure it wouldn’t come apart when we went to Brick-or-Treat at Legoland. If you’re in a hurry, you could use hot glue. By the way, I’m a hot mess when it comes to hot glue. I burned myself several times making the mask and cat gloves.

DIY Cat Mask Full Costume

Be still my heart! October 2011 vs October 2015.

Anyhoo, J absolutely loves her mask and the other pieces of her costume that I made and bought. In fact, she helped make her collar. She meticulously lined up all of the crystals and glued them individually. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

The End of Co-Sleeping and the Start of Independent Sleep at Four Years Old

Independent Sleep at Four Years Old

J snuggles her Wolverine lovey (Go Blue!). When she was a baby I was her lovey, but lately she’s really gravitated toward this stuffed animal.

This is an update to the post published at the end of last year, My Preschooler Cannot Sleep without Me. After four freakin’ years, I am happy to say that J is sleeping independently! Crack open the champagne, because Mama needs to celebrate!

I hope I am not jinxing myself by putting this out into the Universe. I have talked to my friends about it so this isn’t the first time I’m making this revelation. She’s been falling asleep and sleeping independently for many weeks so I think (hope) this is a permanent situation.

For those of you who are curious about what I did…it wasn’t much! I refused (and still refuse) to let J cry by herself if she needed me at night, so this is really about her being ready. I noticed she was not waking in the middle of the night for several days in a row, so I decided to build upon that and see if I could get her to fall asleep without me in the bed.

The first night was somewhat of an accident. I needed a shower so after I finished reading her a story, I said I smelled! I made a silly game of it and told her I was too stinky to stay in bed. There was a small amount of protest on her part, so I said I would check on her when my shower was done…hoping that she would fall asleep before that time. Guess what? She did!

I kept up that same routine for several more nights…telling her I need a shower and then getting out of bed. Lately, she’s asked to read books so I keep the light on when I leave the room. Usually within 20 minutes she’s asleep!

Sometimes she asks for me to sleep in her bed and I avoid giving her a direct answer. I tell her I’ll check on her and usually she’s satisfied with that. I also tell her if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me, all she has to do is ask and I’ll come to her room. This has happened a couple times and as soon as I’ve come to her room she’s rolled over and fallen back to sleep. I want her to have the security of knowing that I am always here for her if she needs me. She seems to know this too, and I believe it’s helping her feel safe to sleep by herself.

A few mornings she’s woken up super pissed to see that I’m not in the bed! Most of the time she wakes up and I go in her room and cuddle her for a few minutes before it’s time to start the day.

At this point, I have not given into her requests for me to sleep with her. She asks but it doesn’t turn into a complete meltdown or even result in tears. Being consistent with our bedtime routine is very important and I know if I give in, even one time, it will set us back.

I am satisfied with the way she grew into independent sleep on her own. I didn’t want to force it on her, even though it took four years. I’ve seen a lot of changes toward independence in her personality lately, and I can’t help but think that it’s stemming from the overall way she has been parented, when awake and asleep.

Funny Things My Kid Says

Funny Things My Kid Says

The vocabulary blender that is my daughter.

Every kid has their own way of speaking as they acquire language. Proper grammar and pronunciation is a learning process. J is your typical four year old and has difficulty pronouncing the “y” sound so “yellow” is “lellow”. She also has a hard time with the “th” sound so she says “teef” (teeth) and “froat” (throat). But she has also put some words in her vocabulary blender, and here is the result. I am hesitant to correct her because some of them are super funny and I know as she gets older she will figure it out.

What she says What she means
Cantaloupe Antelope
Head Brain Forehead
The day after this day Tomorrow
Splinter Blister
Bones and Arrow Bows and Arrows
Eenie eenie eyenie oh,
catch a tiger in your toe
Eenie meenie minie mo,
catch a tiger by the toe
Bounce back to me Ricochet
Racoon Cocoon
Golf course Obstacle course

And my all time favorite “Lightning the Queen”, which would be Lightning McQueen from the movie Cars. After all, he is a race car, so drag…racing isn’t that far fetched. :D :D :D

What are some funny things your kid says?


Playground / Beach Review: Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Pier - Playstructure

A pier, a beach, a playground AND lots of parking all within close proximity of each other…am I dreaming?! Nope, I’m at the Oceanside Pier and beach.

I’ve been here several times with J and even had her 1 year old photos taken at the pier. Most recently, we ended up here two days after Christmas as a detour from Legoland. Somehow J talked me into taking her to the Legoland Aquarium on the Saturday after the jolly man in the red suit made his appearance. Not a smart move, as the entrance to Legoland was backed up to the freeway. We drove right by the exit and the first suggestion that popped into my head was the beach.

Oceanside Pier

J’s one year old photo shoot. My ovaries may have twitched as I was looking at these photos.

Luckily everyone was at Legoland and the beach was not busy. It was beautiful weather and not windy so we hunkered down for a couple hours and played in the sand, waded in the water (yep, my bare legs were in the water in December and I wasn’t freezing) and played on the playground.

I found very few “cons” during this trip to the playground, however I have experienced some in the past which I will list after the “pros.”

Oceanside Pier - Panoramic

This panorama is a little disorienting because the two play structures are next to each other in real life. I stood between them to take this pic. Remember, this is December! (Click the pic to see it bigger and not blurry.)


Parking – There’s plenty of it both paid and free. I opted for paid parking and it cost a whopping $4 for two hours. There are kiosks where you can use a credit card to prepay for parking. For all you math challenged, parking is $2/hour with a maximum of $8 for all day use. There are several parking lots and pricing may vary slightly. Free parking can be found above the beach and the walk only takes a few minutes.

Pier – Geek out on a few pier facts here. It’s a wood pier and you can walk to the end where Ruby’s diner will greet you with the smell of greasy french fries.

Beach – the sandbox at other playgrounds ain’t got nothin’ on this mother. Bring your sand toys and other beach supplies and you’ll be happy as a (razor) clam.

Playground – The playground is on the beach! There are two structures with slides and climbing apparatus as well as swings (baby and regular).

Bathroom – There are public bathrooms near the pier. I haven’t been inside them, but assuming they’re your average public beach bathroom, I see this as a positive, especially with small children.

Seating / Tables – There is a covered area with picnic tables and seats.


Location – How is this a con? Well…Oceanside can get sketchy. There is a police station right next to the pier. So either you can feel really secure knowing the cops are close by or you can wonder why they need to be so near.

Seating / Tables – Also a con because some of the sketchy people will sit at the tables and stare you down.

Wind – The beach at Oceanside can get pretty windy. While it was calm the last time we were there, you should check the weather before you go, even on warm summer days.

Oceanside Pier / Playground / Beach

See how sandy J’s legs are? We had a fun day.


You can find the pier, beach and playground at

301 N. The Strand
Oceanside, CA 92054

For more info visit The City of Oceanside



My 15 Minute Rule for Arriving on Time

J running in the driveway

J running circles in the driveway, completely oblivious to the fact that we’re supposed to be in the car.

I hate being late.When I first moved to San Diego from Portland, I noticed that everyone was at least 10 minutes late, but it bothered no one! This was a looooong time ago and I have become more relaxed about my punctuality when it comes to informal engagements but there is still something in me that dislikes tardiness. If you’re supposed to be somewhere at 10am, how hard is it to get there?

Enter exhibit A, a small child age 3.75 years old and you will understand why I am more or less perpetually late.

I figured when J was first born I had a free pass for being late. A last minute explosive poo or feeding pretty much always happened before leaving the house and no one blinked twice when I showed up late. My inner Timex was always agitated but the newly birthed “mom” in me fought that demon down. I also told myself that things would get better once J’s bowels matured and she was more reliant on solid foods instead of the boob.

Wrong. AGAIN. As a parent I am reminded daily that I have done, am doing, or will do something wrong. Now that J can articulate herself very well, we go through a laundry list of “things” before we are ready to leave the house.

J in car seat

This blurry picture totally captures the mood. J was totally cranky and NEEDED her Ariel earrings and princess crown before we could go anywhere.

To compensate, I plan to leave 15 minutes ahead of when I actually need to leave. Most of the time this works and I end up starting the car at the actual departure time. Then there are times when no matter how far ahead I try to leave, there is a force of nature keeping me anchored to the house or I will be compelled to make a u-turn at the end of the street for a forgotten snack/water cup/toy/jacket/etc.

Here are just a few of the things that take up the extra 15 minutes:

  • J needs socks for the “owie” shoes. If I get the “wrong” socks then I must go upstairs to get another pair.
  • J needs a toy or a different toy than requested 5 seconds ago.
  • J needs to put the toy in a purse.
  • J needs to get the paper in the driveway.
  • J needs to see if there are any new rollie pollies in the front yard.
  • J needs to climb into her car seat via the driver’s seat and examine every speck on the way from the front to the back.
  • J needs to buckle her toy into the seat next to hers.
  • J needs the Frozen CD liner notes so she can obsessively follow along with each song.
  • J asks if I brought the Pirate Booty/Princess Fish/Cheesy Crackers in the snack bag and if I’ve guessed incorrectly, I go back into the house to get said snack.
  • J needs to examine the sticker from Trader Joe’s that she dropped on the car floor five days ago and cannot get in the car seat before doing so.
  • J has to pee. But she doesn’t tell me until we’re 10 minutes into our drive. If we left on time, we’ll now be late because we pulled over for a pit stop.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not placing all of the blame on my child, as I know her sense of time is in its infancy of development. She still sweetly calls tomorrow “the day after this day.” There have been a few (or more) times when it’s entirely my fault we’re late. Most notable is the time I forgot my shoes and the time I forgot J’s swim suit. These were two separate events, but both involved getting to her swim lesson on time. If anyone has paid for their child to learn how to swim, you know how expensive lessons are and that you don’t want to be late! I walked in that door barefoot (and totally skeeved out). I bought her a reuseable swim diaper on the day she didn’t have a suit. That was about a year ago and wouldn’t fly today as she would be too embarrassed to swim “nudie.”

I now carry an extra pair of flip flops in my car in case I am ever caught shoe-less again.

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