Thursday, September 29, 2016

DIY Yarn Witch Hats

While I don't decorate my house for most holidays, starting in the fall I am all over holiday decorating. I especially love decorating for Halloween, and I have gathered quite a few Halloween decorations over the years. Something about Halloween also brings out my crafty side, and I find it really fun to make my own Halloween decor.

This year, I am not living in my own house. My husband is on sabbatical, and we are currently living with my parents. Obviously, I did not lug my three bins of Halloween decorations across the country with me, so I figured I would make a few things and just gift them to my mom when I leave. Last week I made a candy corn wreath that is hanging on my parents' front door, and this week I'm sharing some adorable DIY witch hats.

These Halloween witch hats are made of yarn and a few other craft supplies. They are easy to make and better yet, they are totally adorable! Such a cute addition to your Halloween decor!

I was shopping with my mom when I saw some really cute witch hat decorations. It gave me the idea to make my own with yarn instead of the plastic stuff the store bought hats were made from. I bought all of the supplies we needed at the local craft store and I headed home to make my witch hats.

You guys, they turned out so cute! I don't even think the pictures do them justice, and now I'm contemplating dragging them back to Michigan with me. But even if I can't justify bringing them home, they are super easy to make, so I'll just have to make a few more next Halloween!

Simple to make yarn witch hat. So adorable for Halloween!

Large Witch Hat—Supplies Needed:

(affiliate links)
Black Yarn (weight 4)
Purple Yarn (weight 4)
Orange Yarn (weight 4)
Green Yarn (weight 4)
Styrofoam Cone (I used a 12" cone, but you can go bigger or smaller!)
Stiffened Black Felt
Glitter Gold Craft Foam
2" Black Pom Pom
Halloween Ribbon (I chose a ribbon in the same colors as the yarn I was using, but there are so many choices—head to your craft store and pick your favorite!)
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks

This adorable candy corn witch hat is made out of yarn, felt, ribbon, and craft foam. Make one to add to your Halloween decor today!

Small Candy Corn Witch Hat—Supplies Needed:

(affiliate links)
Black Yarn (weight 4)
Orange Yarn (weight 4)
White Yarn (weight 4)
Yellow Yarn (weight 4)
Styrofoam Cone (I used a 6" cone for this project)
Stiffened Black Felt
Glitter Gold Craft Foam
2" Black Pom Pom
Candy Corn Ribbon
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks

Supplies needed to make yarn witch hats.


1. Decide on your pattern

For the larger hat, I decided on a black/purple/black/orange/black/green pattern. I wanted the black stripes to be wider than the colored stripes, so I ended up doing 5 times around with the colored yarn and 8 times around with the black yarn.

2. Hot glue the yarn to the cone

You don't need a lot of glue for this step. I only used a small dot of glue to secure the yarn on the back of the project. I would then add more glue as I changed colors.

As you change colors, make sure the colors always change in the same place on the back of the cone. This way, your project looks uniform.

How to glue yarn onto foam cones to make Halloween witch hats.

Take care not to burn yourself during this process! I have a low-temp glue gun so I am less likely to burn my fingers, but I still need to remember that a small amount of hot glue goes a long way in a project like this one!

Don't worry if your yarn shows a little bit of the cone underneath. It's part of the charm of the project.

3. Attach Pom Pom to Top of Hat

The cones I used had flat tops, so it was easy to attach the pom pom with just a bit of glue. You may need to use more or less glue depending on the size and shape of your styrofoam cone.

4. Make Felt Hat Brim

Find a plate that is about the size you'd like your hat brim to be. Lay it onto your stiffened felt and cut around it.
Use a plate to cut circle out of felt for witch hat brim.

Alternatively, you can use a pencil to trace the plate onto the felt and then cut it out, though this will be more difficult with the black since the pencil will be hard to see.

5. Glue Foam Cone to Brim

Since the cones are solid, the easiest way to do this is to put glue all over the base of the cone and center it right onto the felt.

6. Attach Ribbon

Cut a length of Halloween ribbon that will go all the way around the base of your cone. Make sure that the cut is attached on the back of the hat—you'll only need about three dots of glue to attach the ribbon securely.

7. Make and Attach Buckle

Cut a buckle out of the glittered craft foam. I made a triangular shaped buckle to go with my candy corn themed hat and a regular square one for the other hat. You can make the buckle whatever shape and size you like! The craft foam I used had a sticky backing, but I worried it wasn't enough to stick to the yarn, so I also used a few dots of hot glue to attach it to the hat.

These cute DIY witch hats made out of yarn will be a fun addition to your Halloween decorations this October.

That's it! The project is pretty easy, and the winding of yarn can easily be done in front of your favorite tv show.

I love how mine turned out—they are WAY cuter than the ones I saw at the store (if I do say so myself)!

post signature

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tulle Halloween Wreath—Candy Corn Style!

There are a few things you should know about me: I love Halloween, I love candy corn, and I love tulle wreaths. I know that loving tulle wreaths might seem like a weird thing, but even I didn't know how much I loved them until I made my first Halloween tulle wreath a few years ago. I haven't been able to stop since then and now have a lovely collection of Halloween wreaths.

Something about the tulle/tutu style of wreath really lends itself well to Halloween. It can look both spooky or whimsical and the best part is that they are super easy to make! I decided this year I wanted to pay homage to my love of candy corn and make a wreath in candy corn colors, and it turned out so cute!

Make this delightful candy corn tulle Halloween wreath this year. It's simple to make and you'll have the most adorable decorations on the block!

Materials needed:

(affiliate links)
orange glitter tulle
yellow/gold glitter tulle
white tulle 
wreath form
stiffened white felt
orange felt
yellow felt
orange polka dot wired ribbon


Cut tulle into strips

Measure from the inside of the wreath form to about where you want the tulle to end when the wreath is made. For this wreath, that was approximately 9 inches. Then cut a piece of cardboard double that size—I used an 18" piece of cardboard for this project.

Wrap the tulle around the cardboard, and then cut both ends of the loop. This is the absolute easiest way to get uniform strips quickly. You can measure and cut them one by one, but that will add hours to your project.

I don't cut all of the tulle all at once because I don't want to have too many extra strips cut that I won't use.

Decide on your pattern

I actually had a different pattern in my head that used a lot more orange tulle. I was trying to more closely mimic an actual piece of candy corn, which is mostly orange. But once I had about a fourth of the wreath tied that way, I realized I hated it because it needed more white. So, I took it apart and made a new pattern. The pattern I ended up using was 2 orange, 2 white, 2 yellow, 2 white, etc.

Tie the tulle onto the wreath form

I prefer tying double knots rather than looping the tulle onto the form. Not only is it more secure that way, it uses less tulle. I also really like the way the knots look.

Cute candy corn wreath for Halloween. So simple to make that your kids can help, too!

Make a candy corn & bow decoration to finish it off

Use stiff white felt as the base for your candy corn decoration

I used a piece of stiffened white felt and just sketched a candy corn shape onto it. I cut that out and then used it to trace the orange and yellow pieces. I used a hot glue gun to glue the orange and yellow to the white felt and voila! A cute little candy corn for my wreath that was also pretty sturdy due to the stiff felt.

Add orange and yellow felt cut outs to the stiff white felt to make a cute candy corn decoration

I just used the orange polka dot ribbon to make my own bow, but you can also purchase a premade bow if that is easier. Once the bow was finished, I glued it all on to the wreath and hung it on the door.

Finish off your Halloween tulle wreath with a felt candy corn decoration and an orange polka dotted bow

I love it.

Because tulle Halloween wreaths are my favorite.

See my other Halloween tulle wreaths!

The original tulle Halloween wreath
Black tulle Halloween wreath
Whimsical Witch Halloween wreath

post signature

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why I Quit My Job to Stay Home With My Teenagers

To work or stay home? Many moms grapple a bit with the decision to either stay home or go back to work after having a baby, but I didn't. I knew from the get go that I would be staying at home when I had my first. It wasn't until I had my third daughter 6 years later that I had to finally face the idea of going back to work. Sophia was only about a month old when I started teaching voice lessons at the local university for just a few hours a week.

By the time Sophia was in Kindergarten, I had expanded my teaching to around 20 hours a week. I've made every effort to design my schedule so that I was home from work before the school bus dropped the girls off. We really did have a pretty good system going on. But then my second daughter became a teenager and I started realizing that it wasn't as easy being a working mom with older kids as I thought it would be.

The decision between working and staying home with kids is never an easy one, but the questions are different when you are thinking of staying home with teenagers instead of toddlers.

It surprised me a bit that I felt I needed to look at this question again. Who quits their job to stay at home with their teenagers, anyway? In fact, many moms choose this time to finally go back to work simply because their children are more self-sufficient, child care costs are no longer a factor, and the extra money is probably needed more than ever with all the expenses that come with teen kids.

But more and more last year I was feeling that I needed to quit. I was completely stressed out by working and trying to also parent and keep my house clean, no matter how helpful my husband was. I found that I was giving my best energy to my students and often had no more to give when I got home in the afternoons. My children were getting a tired, grumpy, overwhelmed mom right when they need love and patience and guidance.

I couldn't do it anymore, so I decided to quit.

Now that my kids have been in school for nearly a month and I haven't been working, it's clarified my decision even further. Nearly every day I get little confirmations that help me to see exactly why this was a necessary move for me and my children.

Here are some of my recent realizations:

1. My teenagers are under a great deal of stress

I read a statistic a while ago that said the average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950's.  Another study shows that teen stress is actually higher than adult stress. This blew me away, and I started paying more attention to the stress and anxiety levels of my teenage daughters. I learned quite a bit by really watching them and thinking about all the things they are asked to do on a daily basis. 7 hours of school, several more hours of homework and studying, extra-curricular activities, household chores, a mom nagging them to do all of the above, and maintaining a social life on top of everything else.

Being a teenager is not easy.

A sign at a boy's school telling parents they were not allowed to bring forgotten items to their children recently went viral online. The premise was that if parents do this for their kids, they will never learn how to problem solve. While I do agree that we can't hold the hands of our kids and make everything easy for them, I have come to believe that helping them is necessary. It's about balance.

My daughter Bria called me last year to beg me to bring her cross-country shoes to the school. The bus was about to leave to a meet that was two hours away and she was completely beside herself that her shoes weren't in her bag. I actually had to leave work, run home to get her spikes, and then rush to the school where I barely caught her before the bus left. I was late to teach my next lesson, but I did not want my daughter to fail in that way. Not when I knew she was up until late studying for a test and that she had never forgotten her cross country spikes before. Not when I knew the tremendous pressure she was under to do all that was asked of her. I could help to alleviate some of the major stress and anxiety she was experiencing by simply helping her out.

(And while it's not what this post is really about, the fact that she called me for help WAS solving the problem.)

Now that I am not working, I will be available for these types of emergencies whenever I am needed, and that makes me happy. And it isn't just about taking them their forgotten items—it's about being more emotionally available to help them deal with their stress, it's about having more time to do housework so that I am not putting too large a burden on them, it's about being home with them when they are sick, it's about helping them manage their priorities.

2. My relationship with my teenagers has improved

I don't think I ever really had a terrible relationship with my girls, but when I was working I did not have the energy for a relationship with them. Plus, my tween is incredibly strong-willed, and I had a much shorter temper with her after a long day of work than I do now.

Now I can be the calm one while my daughters are having their emotional breakdowns (which come often for teenage girls, I assure you). I can be more aware when they are having friendship troubles like Chloe did her first year in middle school.

Even though I made every effort to be home when my children were home, now I actually feel present. It's amazing the difference it's made already. Do they still roll their eyes at me? Daily. Do they ever refuse to answer my questions with more than one word? Often! But they also open up more and they want to be around me.

3. I am a better example to my children

While I know there are working moms out there who somehow are able to do it all, I was not one of them—and I didn't even work full time! I feel that now I am a better role model to them in many ways. I am less stressed, I keep the house cleaner, I can help them with their homework, my temper doesn't flare as often. You get the idea.

And because I am doing better at those things, they are too.

4. Our lives are much calmer

Part of it is the later schedule of the new schools we are attending this semester, but I'm enjoying the calmer mornings of not working. Instead of trying to get ready for work myself, I am able to be available to the kids. I am more available to help with homework checks, feed them breakfast, help them study for quizzes and tests, etc.

After school, when the girls are at their busiest, I am feeling more rested and calm and taking them to their activities all over town doesn't feel nearly as frenetic as it did when I was working. If we don't have somewhere to be, I have more energy to help them with homework and practicing at home.

5. My teenagers need me now more than they did when they were smaller

When I was in the throes of raising babies and toddlers, I'm not sure I would have ever believed that they could possibly need me more as teens than they did when they were little. But the truth is, they do. Teenagers are straddling a difficult time of life—they are really still kids, but they are given so much responsibility and are thrust into many adult situations. They need guidance and communication. They need to know that their mother is available for them at any moment to help them work through all the big things.

I only have two more school years with my eldest before she is off to college and away from my daily influence. She's already a month into one of those years, and the time moves so quickly! I want to be certain that I am giving her my best during these critical years. I want to know that I gave everything I could in helping her to be prepared for adulthood.

It all really comes down to the fact that I am spending all of my energy on my children, my family, and my home. When I was working, a huge part of that energy was spent on my job and I had little left. It's amazing how much that shift in focus has improved my life and my relationship with my girls. 

My energy is now focused exactly where it should be during this time of life—on my children.

post signature

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

9 Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

There are few things kids anticipate more than starting school each fall, but it can be stressful for students who are beginning at a brand new school. As parents, we naturally want to make the whole process easier on our kids, and it can be pretty frustrating for us, too! The good news is that whether the switch is due to a move to a new city or simply a transition from elementary to middle or high school, there are several things parents can do to help our children adjust to their new schools.

Moving to a new school is hard! Help your children get adjusted to a new school by using these 9 tips.

This fall semester, my husband took a sabbatical leave from the university where he teaches in Michigan and moved us all the way across the country to Utah. The girls have been in school for almost three weeks now, and it has not been easy for them, though they have been extremely courageous in this situation. I don't know if the fact that we are not here permanently has made it easier or harder, but it is what it is and I have learned quite a bit as a parent as we've navigated the last month.

Here are 9 tips that I've come up with that have helped us and continue to help us during this transition time.

1. Listen and Communicate

If your kids are anything like mine are, they will put on a brave face and not say too much about how they are struggling. Then it will suddenly bubble to the surface and they will break down—this happened with each of my girls during the first week of school. When they do have that breakdown, just listen. Hear them out and don't try to fix it all right now. Besides, they don't even want you to fix it, they just want you to understand how they feel. It's easier for them to stay courageous when they feel understood.

Each child handles things a bit differently, too. Talking to your kids will help you really have a grip on how they are handling their school day. Knowing their temperament and how they usually handle hard things will help you to understand them even better. Mostly just listen.

2. Keep Family Tradition Alive

My girls love our family traditions. I think that one of the reasons is because they know what to expect and have something to look forward to at specific times each year. If you have back-to-school traditions, make sure you keep them alive during these difficult transitions.

Our favorite back-to-school tradition is having a feast the night before and introducing a new family theme.

If you don't already have back-to-school traditions, this would be an excellent time to start one! Our feast was started for just that reason—we had just moved to Michigan and I wanted to help my girls get really excited about starting at a new school in a new place. It's definitely become one of our favorite traditions of the year!

See this year's back-to-school feast and family theme here: 2016-17 Feast and Theme

See all of our past feasts here: Back-to-School Feasts and Family Themes

3. Get Familiar With the School Early

We had some good opportunities to go to all three schools (I have a junior, an 8th grader, and a 5th grader) before school started during the process of getting the girls registered. It was especially nice because I took each child to her new school separately, and we took a lot of time finding their classes, opening their lockers, checking out the school facilities, and more. I wanted them to feel as familiar as possible with the school before the first day.

I actually spent about 2 hours in the high school with Bria and 3 hours in the junior high with Chloe. I was amazed at how much time they wanted to spend with the process, but I didn't mind at all. This was about making things easier for them (even though my feet hurt by the time we were done!).

4. Encourage Involvement

Get your kids signed up for all the things they loved doing at their old school, and don't take no for an answer. The best way to meet new people and make friends is through sports and extracurricular activities.

While I sometimes wish that I didn't sign them up for everything this fall—we are already in the thick of soccer and music lessons and dance—I'm glad I did. It really is making the adjustment easier for them. Chloe is thankful for her soccer team friends in the halls of the junior high and Bria feels more comfortable talking to orchestra people, so she's glad she has orchestra to do that!

Communicate with them and be sure you're not pushing them into more than they can handle, but don't let them get away with not doing anything. Bria usually runs cross country in Michigan, but was really adamant about not doing it here. We decided not to push it—mostly because the team had been practicing for a month already when we arrived in town and she wasn't comfortable joining late. Instead, she's doing orchestra, and that's just fine.

There's nothing like a new school and a new place to try something brand new. If there's something that's offered at the new school or in your new area that your child has always wanted to try, encourage them to try it!

Chloe was excited to see that ballroom dance is on the curriculum at her new junior high school and she is absolutely loving it. It's fun for me to see what a great time she's having and I'm thankful that she took the opportunity while she has it.

5. Make Family a Priority

My mom always used to tell us that "friends come and go, but family is forever" and now I say it to my own children. Never is this more true than when you suddenly find yourself in a new place where you know nobody but your family. Make sure that in the craziness of moving that you take time to not only keep up with your family traditions, but that you are really spending quality time together.

Home is going to be a refuge for your children more than ever as they are adjusting to a new place, so make it a refuge. Their siblings are going to be their best friends and confidantes during this time, which is actually a wonderful thing! Sometimes friends get in the way of that, so this is a great time to really let your children rely on you and on each other.

6. Establish a Routine

It really doesn't matter if you're in a new school or not, routine matters! But I think it's especially important when the upheaval of being in an unfamiliar environment happens.

Make sure you're clear with your children about what is expected of them this school year: what time they are to wake up, what their chore responsibilities are, when they should do homework, etc. And then make sure you follow through. Children and teens need that structure—it actually helps them to feel more comfortable because they know what to expect.

I am not as good with this one as I know I should be, but I am working on it.

7. Keep up With Old Friends While Making New Ones

In this day and age, just because you move away doesn't mean you should have to lose contact with your old friends. Encourage your kids to keep up with them so they don't feel like they suddenly have no friends (except their family, of course!).  My teenagers have enjoyed texting their friends in Michigan and Sophia has even been FaceTiming her Michigan friends fairly regularly—technology is awesome!

While they definitely should stay in touch with their old friends, keep encouraging them to make new ones in their new place.

8. Stay Positive

The first week of school was just plain hard for my girls. There were lots of tears and a few emotional outbursts. While it broke my heart, I knew that I couldn't get bogged down it. I have to stay positive for them. I pray for them and with them, we talk about how to make friends, I remind them of all the positive things about their schools and the new city we live in.

I still listen and seek to understand their feelings (see #1), but I do my darnedest to help them also see the good in the situation. To make lemonade out of lemons, if you will.

9. Be Patient

Finally, be patient. It gets better, it really does, but before it gets better it will be hard. Your child will probably be more moody or snappy than usual. It may take several weeks or even a few months, I don't know yet, but right now my kids are still having a bit of a difficult time with the transition. Sophia came home today and told me that she is bonding with friends at school finally, but my teenagers aren't feeling it quite yet.

But I'm being patient. I know it will happen!

Even as you do all of these things, keep watching your kids closely to be sure their adjustment is going well. If you notice behavior that concerns you, you may want to talk to their teachers and possibly even your family doctor about the stress and/or depression they are feeling.

P.S. This post was a good way for me to sneak in the girls' first day of school photos! I hope you enjoyed seeing them—Bria is a junior, Chloe is in 8th grade, and Sophia is in 5th grade.

post signature

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

September 2016 Visiting Teaching Printable

September's visiting teaching message (Parenthood is a Sacred Duty) couldn't have come at a more opportune time for me. We have been on sabbatical for a month now, and my sacred duties to my children as their mother are front and center as I help them navigate living in a new place. Not only did Heavenly Father place us in family units so we could be taught correct principles, he did it so that we would have a loving atmosphere to come home to after being out in the world.

It is our sacred duty as parents to create that loving atmosphere in our homes. That's why President Monson's quote was my favorite from this lesson.

Download and print this handout for your sisters this month—September 2016 Visiting Teaching: Parenthood is a Sacred Duty

“Give your child a compliment and a hug; say, ‘I love you’ more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”

I'm afraid I sometimes let the daily problems overtake my children in importance—or at least I act like they are more important. I'm ready to stop doing that and to really listen to and love my children, despite all of the headaches and worry that life brings us.

It's a perfect extension of August's message—"The home is to be God's laboratory of love and service."

To download:

Enter your email address in the form below to download the visiting teaching handout. Click here to see the form if you are on a mobile device.

The printable will be sent directly to your email inbox, where you can either print it out at home or send it to a photo service for printing.

I print all of my visiting teaching printables at 5x7—they look wonderful in a frame! (I like simple black frames like this one: Black 5x7 picture frame)


September 2016 Visiting Teaching handout. Download and print this Thomas S. Monson quote for your sisters.

post signature

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.