Friday, October 5, 2012

Truffula Trees - What everyone needs!

We love the Lorax.  We've loved the Lorax for years.  It was my husband's favorite Dr. Seuss book growing up, so since our kids were babies we have read it to them, and they love it. 
We were so excited when the movie came out!  It completely surpassed our expectations.  It was cute, funny, and so colorful!
So, when I asked my boys what kind of birthday party they wanted to have this year, there was no question.  The Lorax!

I wanted to keep things pretty simple, just kind of in that mood lately.  However, there aren't a ton of (any!) Lorax decorations out there to just pick up at the store.  So, I put together these truffula trees quickly.
Really, I'm not just saying quickly, I mean it. I made 7 in about 30-40 minutes.

If you want to make some, because truffula trees are what everyone needs, here is how you do it:

A marabou boa
A piece of cardboard
A stick (I sent my 3 cute nieces out in the field at my in-laws to gather branches -- they're awesome!)
Wire/jute (just something that ties tightly)

Cut your cardboard into a "circle"  - clearly it doesn't have to be a perfect circle.  In fact, if you could not cut perfect circles, that would probably make me feel better about my lazy circle cutting.  Just sayin'.

Start by stapling the end of your boa into the center of your cardboard circle. 

Wrap it around the center, stapling every once in awhile as you go.

When you get to the end, just tuck the tail of the boa in.

Sooooo... my "circle" needed a little trimming after I finished wrapping the boa.  No big deal.  Trim it down until you can't see it.

Move the boa aside a little and poke two holes in the center of your circle, stick the wire through.

Wrap it tightly around the stick, the trim excess wire.

 Turn it over, and fluff!

Now, obviously this isn't a project that is going to stand the test of time, but it did last the party (and beyond), and that's all I really hoped for!  Plus, nothing was damaged, so I can re-use the boas for something (no clue what, but something!) Not to mention, what else am I going to need 7 truffula trees for?! 
I bought the boas on sale, used an old box in my basement, found sticks -- I'd say the price was right! :)

Fluff those tufts, and stick 'em in the ground.

Because after all,

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." :)

The rest of the decorations consisted of this Lorax face stuck on orange balloons, and on the drink dispenser - filled with orange sunkist. 

The grab bag was a tulip bulb (the last truffula seed of all), with a tag (made from a picture I saw on pinterest, but every time I tried to click to it's origin to give the person credit, it said page not found... ugh... frustrating... so, if you created this... thank you!)
We finished the night with cake, of course!  Well, cupcakes, that is.
I used brown paper straws, cut in half, and cotton candy balls (found at the dollar store.)  All you have to do is stick the cotton candy on the straw and stick it in the cupcake -- that simple!
My amazing (AMAZING!!) friend painted faces too. It was so much fun!

My boys were so happy!  When it comes right down to it, that's all that really matters!!
Happy 4th birthday boys!  I love you so much. You made me a mom, and bless me everyday by letting me raise you. We are so proud of the little men you are becoming, and I know Grandpa Louie would love watching you grow, seeing you love life the way you do.
Thanks for being you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Door Decor

So... I think I took a little vacation.  To no where.  Just an unintentional break.  But I'm back!

I've never really been a "Halloween" person.  I like Halloween, and the excitement over the holiday has certainly increased since having kids, and I'll never argue with the candy (of course!) but I've never really gone all out on the ghosts and ghouls and such.  (Although I will admit, I could be convinced with all the cute purple/green/black Halloween stuff that's been popular for the last few years.)
I LOVE fall though!  So, when September hits, I get pretty anxious to put up all the fall decor, put on sweaters, and bake exclusively with pumpkin.
I only have a couple of Halloween decorations anyway, so I usually just toss them in with the fall stuff, then pull them off as soon as October is over. 
I wanted to try to be more Halloweenie ... Halloweenish... Halloweenie-ish-er this year.  I'm baby stepping in though.  Maybe I'll take a bigger step next year, but for now -- a little burlap, a few bats, some black lanterns, and a couple of ravens will do.

 I even added a little ghost boy to the window... just to add that extra creepy chill factor. :)  Maybe I'm more into this scary Halloween thing than I thought!

 I got the bat garland from The Wood Connection

Creepy little bird.  We have one inside the house too.  Kids love it, scares the living breathing death out of my husband and I.  That's the point though, right?

It's just baby steps... I know, but it's worth it when my kids say, "It's turning into Halloween at our house, Mom!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Hi Daddy,
Today is your birthday.  We celebrated the same way you would have, by going to lunch at one of your favorite restaurants.  It was good to be together with family, and it felt like you were there too.  I told the boys this morning that it was your birthday and that we were going to go to lunch.  They jumped up and down excitedly and said, "Grandpa Louie is alive again?!  He's all better? He gets to have lunch with us?!" 
If only.
They miss you too.  We talk about you all the time.  The boys pray for you every night.  It's sweet, and so genuine and innocent.  I always wondered if they would remember you, but they do.  I'm so grateful for that.  I want nothing more than to keep your memory alive for them.  I want them to know the type of person you were.  I want them to know about your personality.  Your wit.  Your intellect.  Your compassion.  Your heart.  Your love.  You would have been one of their very best friends, I know that for certain.  You could make everyone feel like your best friend.  Everyone who got to feel that was honored.  Your dedication and loyalty to those you cared about were so inspiring.  I so long to be like you in that way.  You made it seem effortless.  It was just part of who you were.

I could surely use your friendship now.  I'm not the only one, either.  How deeply our entire family is missing you now.
I'm sorry I haven't written a letter for awhile.  I've wanted to, but there are things that are sometimes just too hard to write about.  Too hard to even think about really.  I have a deeper understanding of why you were taken when you were though.  God knows the plan for lives much more clearly than we do.  I believe that strongly.  Our family needed you fighting for us from the other side.  Someone who cared as deeply for us as you do.  Someone who would never give up on any of us.  Keep fighting, keep pushing, in the long run I'm certain it will pay off.  We'll do the best we can here, and you fight for us all from there.  Heaven knows you're a fighter.  :)

We're lucky to have known you.  Our family I mean.  We were blessed to learn from you, and to continue learning from you.
I was blessed beyond measure to be your daughter.  In my eyes, there was no better dad for me in this world than you.  You taught me how to be loved, how to be confident, how to laugh, how to trust, and how to tolerate.  Pure love.  If I can share those things you've taught me with even one person in this life, I'll know I've made you proud.

I love you, Daddy.  Happy Birthday!


Monday, July 9, 2012

4th of July Tutu - with mini Tutorial

So this may seem a little late... you know, with the 4th of July being last week and all, but we were away for the holiday so I'm just getting this up now.  Maybe it will be useful to you next year, or you can use the idea of it for another holiday!

Here's the 4th of July Tutu!

I actually made the white part of this tutu before my baby was born, in December.  I thought it would be cute, all white with some ornaments and what-not for a picture.  Problem.  I tried to take the pictures myself, and I tried to involve my boys. 

I had no idea how hard it would be to take a picture of three kids at once.  How many times can you say, "Stop touching your sister.  Hands to yourself." ? Kudos to all those photographers out there who specialize in capturing children.  Saints, really.

Anyway, I never pulled the tutu back out again.  I think I was trying to block the nightmares of us trying to get those pictures 5 days after the baby was born. 
It felt like a waste, all that cute tulle for nothing.  So as the summer approached, seemed like a perfect time to convert that white tutu into a red, white, and blue tutu!

I removed just a few pieces of the white tulle to add the red.  For the blue, I took out about a quarter section of the white tulle, added all royal blue then glued on a few felt stars, just to feel extra patriotic :)

I know there are a lot of tutorials out there on how to make a tutu, but it really is so simple, I thought I'd add a quick tutorial here, for anyone who may be stopping by and might be wondering.

Start with an elastic measured to your child's (or the child it is for) waist. I cut it exactly to measurement (maybe even a smidge under), because the tied- on tulle seems to hold the elastic out to a larger spot.

Overlap the elastic by 1/4 to 1/2 inch, and sew.

Now it's time to tie on your tulle.

Measure the length you want the tutu to be.  Then double that measurement and add an inch.  You will be folding it in half, plus tying a knot. (For my newborn I cut it 18 inches, and that length still worked for her at 7 months.  There is a lot of play length-wise with tulle)

Fold a piece of tulle in half and take it behind the elastic.

Put the long ends of the tulle over the elastic, through the tulle loop on the other side.

Pull tight.

There you have it.  Continue that quick and easy process all the way around your elastic until you have a nice full tutu.

Don't forget to snap pictures of your little one all fancied up! 

Oh, and as you can see, even 7 months later, we STILL haven't figured out how to take a picture of all three kids together.  If someone out there has a tutorial on that, meaning - getting two 3-year-olds to hold still, not "over" smile, and a 7 month old to stay focused... LET ME KNOW!! :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Junk Pile Chairs

I always love a good "trash turned treasure" story, don't you?
Enter, the junk pile chairs.

My father-in-law has a farm with his siblings not far from us.  As with all farms, there are lot of random buildings filled with a lot of random stuff.  A few months back they were cleaning out one of those buildings (I'll call it a treasure box) and my husband and I grabbed these chairs out of the dump pile.

They were wet, and pretty beat up, but the potential was totally there for something amazing.

So, we enlisted the help of a family friend who is a master wood worker to fill in the gaps, and sand down the wood.

We followed it up with a good coat of Minwax Dark Walnut Stain, left over from the coffee table, and finished them off with some lacquer, to protect from our children, and their toys.

They turned out even better than we had hoped.  The combination of the metal with the wood is so industrial-chic (is that a real thing?), and I feel like we have two designer chairs sitting in our living room now.  There are so many interesting details to these chairs that make them so appealing, like how the front two legs are wood, but the back two are metal. 

We're happy with how they turned out, PLUS... they are actually super comfortable to sit in!  Bonus!

One man's junk... ha!  Our treasure!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lunch with Dad

Hi Dad,
Today we wouldn't have had lunch.  It's tax day, afterall.  We would have picked up your favorite shake -- chocolate, banana, marshmallow -- and gone for our annual late night drive to the post office.  They used to put on quite a party at those things.  I don't know if they do it anymore... seems most people just do their taxes online now.  Shame really.  It was one of my very favorite bonding times.

Those tax nights are some of my best memories with you.  Well, aside from us rapping in the DMV line on my 16th birthday while we were waiting for my driving test.  You forgot that memory toward the end of your life.  That was difficult for me, but I feel confident now, that you remember all of those little things that slipped your mind as your body was shutting down.

Something about driving around with you and just being funny -- well, we thought we were funny anyway -- always put me at ease. 

You always loved to go for "a ride."  I remember being really little, and you taking the boys for rides down to "Hart's" for a drink after their Saturday morning basketball games.  Then, I got old enough to play, and I got to go for rides with you too!  There is no question, you loved cars.  That's what made it so fun to go for rides around town with you.  There was no hurry, just sit back, don't ask where we're going, and enjoy.  You usually had some kind of destination in your mind, but we never knew where it was, we were just there to enjoy your company. 

It's good for me to think of you on days like today.  Makes me miss you, but it also makes me grateful that I got to know you so well.  You were, are, the best friend a girl could ask for, but I was also lucky enough to have you for my dad too!

Love you forever,

DIY L Bunk Beds

This post has been a long time in the making.  I keep starting it, then deleting it and putting it on hold for something more "seasonal."  Not anymore!  Here they are... our L Bunk Beds!

I'll apologize in advance that the pictures aren't very good, but it was sort of a snap a picture here and there kind of project.

After realizing we would need to squeeze both of our boys into one tiny room when the baby arrived, we started searching for the best bed situation.  We had a few things to consider.  1.  Our boys were just two at the time.  2.  They still ended up in strange directions on their beds when they woke up in the morning.  3.  I'm a paranoid mom.  I worry.
My husband's vote was for bunk beds.  I just didn't quite see how that could work with the three previously mentioned issues.  I like to make him happy though, so we looked all over online for the perfect bunk beds and just couldn't find something to work for all of our needs.  The few we saw that were similar to what we wanted ran around $1,500.  That's insane.  For a bunk bed?!  Who do people think they're kidding?

So, I decided to design one of my own that would fit just what we were looking for, and I was certain I could do it for significantly less.
Amazing the things you can do yourself when you just pull out a calculator and paper and put your mind to work.

I measured the twin mattresses we already had, then added two inches to both the length and width for easier bedspread tucking.  I decided how high I wanted the "top" bunk to be.  Not so high that we end up with a broken arm, but I also wanted it low enough that when I check on them at night I could stand by the side of the bed and still see in.  I also told my husband "NO WAY" on a ladder.  Looking back now, I think my son could have easily handled it, but at the time we were building the bed he was getting in and out of bed a lot for "just one more drink of water," and that made me nervous thinking there would be a ladder involved.  So, the stairs were a must.  We also had to address the rolling.  So we decided to make the beds kind of like a box bed.  The sides of the beds come up higher (about 5 inches higher) than the mattress, so they can't roll out.

So... after several late nights in the garage, and with the patience of our very very kind neighbors putting up with all the noise, plus the pure brute strength of my sweet hubby, we finished our boys bunk beds!

They went from this...

to This... 

Within less than two weeks.  (that's pretty good considering most nights we didn't get to even work on it until after nine.)

For the bedding:

I bought the navy and green sheets from Ikea.  Then bought four of the cheap-o white sheets (two for each bed) from Ikea to make their duvet covers.  Making your own duvet is SO simple, and extremely cost effective.

For the top of the duvet, I just bought some solid cotton to match the sheets, and sewed on three stripes.  Then the back, I did just like an envelope pillow, with a center that overlaps, utilizing the finished edges from the sheets.  I also added a few strips of sew on velcro to hold the duvet shut.
These are not great instructions, but at the time... getting it finished was my only goal.

The boys have absolutely loved their "bonk" beds, as they call them.

So... for the wood, paint, and bedding we spent somewhere between $250 and $275!  Yep!  Sure beats $1500 any day of the week!

There is still some "decorating" to be done in here... but we are very happy that we could fit both the boys and their toys, and still leave some room for playing.

There is certainly some trial and error when you are making things up as you go along, but I would say we got just what we were hoping for out of the whole project.  Success!!