Sunday, December 9, 2018

Books & crafts Advent calendar: 24 days of reading & art



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Candles are traditional, and chocolate is fun, but snuggling and spending time together is the perfect way to count down the days till Christmas.

Consider wrapping a series of winter or holiday books and craft projects, then having your child open one a day until the big day arrives. You'll get to enjoy a cuddly reading time or an interactive project opportunity together.


You can adapt this for Hanukkah by wrapping eight themed books, or as a countdown to Solstice or another celebration your family keeps.

You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to, so it's a frugal option to keep the spending and clutter down as well. I store our Christmas-themed books with our holiday decorations so that I can find them each year and keep them off the shelves when they're less relevant.



I'd seen this idea before of doing a solely book-themed countdown, but with our small space, we don't actually own 24 Christmas books. This year, though, I got the idea to sprinkle in other items:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Personalized photo gifts for the holidays at Shutterfly {Hobo Mama's Gift Guide}

It's time for my annual roundup of coupons and deals sent to me by my affiliate partners. These are companies I support and recommend and whose savings I'd like to pass along to you for your holiday shopping! If you shop through my links, it costs you nothing extra and I get a little reward from the company to support my blogging. Thank you!


I need to come clean.

I have something of an addiction to Shutterfly.They just have so many cute gifts, made even cuter by the addition of my favorite little faces!

Shutterfly has the perfect assortment of holiday gifts for Christmas presents for loved ones. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other dear relatives will appreciate using high-quality items that just happen to feature their favorite people. Plus, Shutterfly is always offering amazing coupons and deals that make these gifts affordable.

Here are some of the items I myself have bought over the years and that I recommend to you. Yes, I purchased these with my own money, not sponsored. I told you I have an addiction — don't judge me!




This is a memory card game. With your own photos! Since we live far from most of our family, I filled the images with relatives' faces and gave this to my little ones to practice names and relations in a fun-filled manner. I included their own faces for the recognition enjoyment of it. You could also go scenic or nostalgic with your favorite vacation photos or similar.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Simple DIY pop-up Halloween card craft for kids



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Our sweet across-the-hall neighbors knocked and left the kids surprise buckets with Halloween treats within. As a thank-you, we came up with this pop-up card idea.

My preferred type of craft is the kind that absolutely anyone could do, and that probably many have done before. I'm sharing because these turned out super cute, and maybe you'd like a Halloween card idea. If my kids and I could handle this, so can you and yours.




Get out some colorful paper, and determine your pop-up items. My kids didn't fancy being too scary, so we went with pumpkins, and chose an orange construction paper as the base to save on coloring time. Other options could be a ghost or bat or such.

Remember to keep your pop-up items smaller than your card interior will be. We fit two big and one small on a single sheet.



For the jack-o'-lantern faces, have your kids draw or color in as their developmental stage suggests.



Keep your workspace absolutely clear of crafty chaos. I cannot stress this enough. Absolutely clear! Like so. Do not get out ALL the glitter glue and stickers and markers. Unless you have to.



Pick a card paper and fold it in half. Then we're going to use one of these thingy-dingies to secure our pop-up to the inside.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Daily Show gets it right on breastfeeding in public


It's your legal right to feed your child in whatever way works for you wherever you're both allowed to be, so feed on. You can find a quiet space or cover while feeding your child if it works for you & your little one, but it should never be forced on anyone.


I think my favorite part was when Trevor Noah wondered if the guy comparing breastfeeding to peeing didn't realize women pee, too.

I am equally agog with the show that breastfeeding in public is still an issue in 2018. HOW?

Keep on keeping on, folks. Spread the word that feeding a child is normal and natural and perfectly reasonable to do in public.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Confetti fun!




I realize that, in many parts of the world, July 4 is well over.
But don't tell that to my neighbors, who are still setting off illegal fireworks,
and don't tell that to me, because I am finally getting this video posted
after umpteen technological delays.

I think you will find the wait was worth it.

And if you need the extended version of the best part,
by popular demand from Alrik & Karsten,
here it is,
20 minutes of "Whoa! It's taken by wind!":

Monday, June 11, 2018

Gentle fathering books to read with your kids




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In honor of Father's Day, here is a collection of 8 children's books that portray gentle fathers for dads to read with their kids.



Oh, Oh, Baby Boy! by Janine Macbeth — From birth into his father's arms through becoming a father himself, a boy experiences the nurturing and hands-on care that will guide him his whole life.



Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram — Little Nutbrown Hare learns he can never outlove Big Nutbrown Hare, who loves him to the moon … and back.



Daddy Hugs, by Karen Katz — Count along with the hugs daddies can give, from "I gotcha now" hide-and-seek hugs to "Don't be afraid of the dark" hugs.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

PSA for Tiny Home Hunters: Your baby will get bigger



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I have watched my share of videos of tiny house conversions, to the point where YouTube now shows me more as recommendations. I say, Sure, YouTube, ok, just one more. And the cycle continues.

I don't live in a cool tiny home, just a normal small apartment. But I find it inspiring to see how people use a little space and still live big.

Except, that is, when a family is growing.

Don't get me wrong — I love seeing families with little children navigating small spaces. As a family of five living in under 960 square feet (capacious by tiny house standards, I admit), you'd think that would be right in my wheelhouse, and you're right.

However, it's primarily these families that make me yell at my computer screen.

Because they don't know a simple undeniable truth. Ready? Brace yourselves.

BABIES GET BIGGER.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Because you are the mother, that's why



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You're the one who knows the exact knee-bend bounce for soothing a crying baby.

You're the one who starts bouncing instinctively as soon as you hear a crying baby in earshot.

You've been taking prenatal horse pills for years, to be on the safe side.

You've been wearing nursing bras just as long.

You're the finder of lost shoes, lost toys, the jacket that never made its way into the closet, the remote in the couch cushions, the stuffie under the couch, the sippy cup under the sink.

You're the one who knows what condiments each kid likes with each food, and who gets them out without asking or being asked.

You could change a diaper with your eyes closed but know not to.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

10 easy ways to go reusable at home

In the spirit of Earth Day, I'm sharing 10 simple changes you can make to create a more eco-friendly environment in your home. Some of you might have done all these and then some, but for those of us who need a nudge in a new direction, here are some baby steps to pick and choose from, according to where you are on your environmental journey.

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1. Replace paper towels with cloth dish towels, sponges, and rags.

It can seem daunting to discontinue paper towel use when you’re accustomed to grabbing one several times a day for all manner of cleaning projects. If the idea of going cold turkey scares you, keep a roll at hand but gradually increase the number of reusable options you have as well.


Here’s what we use in place of paper towels:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fishy fun & mammal merriment at the aquarium

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Library pass in hand,
to the Seattle Aquarium we go!



This was Karsten's favorite part:
matching orca trading cards.
High points at naming to Oreo
and her sons Double Stuf and Cookie.



Tidal pools are splashy!
I'll point out that Alrik is advertising
his self-designed merch (#notforsale).



Marine Mammal Mania meant lots of fun activities.



Alrik swims with the jellies.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Make it special: Take time for one-on-one parent-child dates



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If you have multiple kids, or even just multiple parents, you might have the worry of how to give one-on-one attention to a child, apart from the spotlight-hogging of siblings or everyday routines. Your kids will relish time to be with a parent free from distractions, with all the attention for the space of a special outing.

My husband recently instituted a new family custom of parent-kid outings, where each child gets a special date with each parent. We have three kids, so he set up Saturdays on our family calendar with a code for which parent goes out with which child, and it rotates around so that every three weeks, a child gets a date, and every six weeks, both parents will have gone out with each child. Did that math make sense? Let's assume so.


Here are a couple reasons that prompted us to try for some one-on-one special bonding time with each child:

  • Sam had been working a lot recently, so his time with just the kids was scattershot and hurried. In contrast, my time with the kids was always en masse and filled with distractions like errands and housekeeping.
  • We have a 10-year-old, 6-year-old, and 3-year-old, and we started realizing the 10-year-old was the non-squeaky wheel who never got the grease. After spending his baby and toddlerhood in dramatic isolation, Mikko is now the quiet, chill tween who lets his brothers talk over him. We figured each child would appreciate some time to express himself without any competition.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Don't Touch This Book! (With rampant book touching)



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Here's video proof that my kids can't obey ONE SIMPLE DIRECTION. Don't Touch This Book. Couldn't be easier, right? See what incredible things happen when Karsten and Alrik can't resist.



This book by Bill Cotter, along with the others in his canon, is hilarious and interactive read-aloud fun for kids. Highly recommended!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Having babies broke my body



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It was during my last period, cursing my menstrual cup's repeated and messy failures, that the sobering thought finally hit me: This might not get better. After having my third baby, my body is broken.

I don't know how much is age, or how much is particular to my body's foibles, and I don't know what I hope to accomplish by cataloging this except to offer sympathy to anyone else going through this realization.

But here are the ways my body seems to have reacted to repeated pregnancies and births:

The peeing.

That pre-baby body has gone the
way of the woolly mammoth.
Oh, the peeing. My kids think it's hilariously exasperating that I must use the restroom every half-hour. I know where every public toilet is on our usual routes, and I cannot afford to be choosy about conditions of some of the sketchier ones, as well as the hellish stretches where there is not one. I have been known to duck into an unoccupied construction zone's porta-potty. I'm not proud, but it's better than wetting myself.

Speaking of which, I have spent too much time fantasizing about ordering pee undies. They are so much moolah, though. Why so very much? Would a cloth menstrual pad be as good? Can I make my own pee-wear from old cloth diapers?

And I've had to cut way back on caffeine, or woe betide me. Again, just ask my kids about my comical dance to get the keys in the front door, race up the stairs, and make it into the bathroom before I need to throw my pants in the wash. I often lose the race.

Menstrual cup confusion.

This might or might not be related as it's a down-there situation, but what the actual heck is going on with my cervix and adjacent ladybits now? Almost every month is a game of Will My Menstrual Cup Catch Any Blood? The answer is usually, No, no, it won't. The blood will go around, adhere to the side, or do other fun things. WHERE ARE MY PARTS NOW? Did the babies MOVE them?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

DitDoo's World is amazeballs



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Alrik has decided that it's time he broke into the glamorous world of YouTubing. He has done so with aplomb, with the release of his own channel, DitDoo's World.

DitDoo is what his baby brother inexplicably started calling him when he learned to talk, and we stuck with it. Karsten has strong opinions about things like what your favorite color is or how to pronounce your name, and we've found there's no point in arguing with him.

Anyway, DitDoo's World has everything fabulous a 6-year-old can offer, to wit:



Journal entries featuring illustrations of adorable dreams




Inventions like the wearable phone glove and paper-tube robot arms,
which the world will be clamoring for as soon as these vids goes viral




DitDoo the author's own books,
self-illustrated and self-published with love

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Taste test of 28 British crisps, chocolates, biscuits, & more!



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And now for something completely different…

Our U.S. kids taste tested a treasure trove of U.K. delights that Sam had bought himself for Christmas.

Sam made a playoff competition for each kid and each type of snacky goodness, culminating in the champions of nonsensical yumminess.

Enjoy the enthusiastic tummy-rubbing, the slow-mo yuck faces, and all the thumbs up, down, and sideways!






Saturday, January 13, 2018

Kids sad Christmas is over? Keep unwrapping "gifts"!



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Does anyone else have a 3-year-old who continues to pine for more gifts to unwrap?

One who looks longingly into the corner where the Christmas tree stood and says, offhandedly, "Any more presents?"

A child who peers into backpacks and bags hopefully, thinking maybe a bonus gift was forgotten inside?

Here's what's helped us stem the disappointment of humdrum, non-present-opening life between Christmas and his birthday:

Giving each other pretend gifts wrapped in pretend paper.