Thursday, February 27, 2014

doodley embroidery

I love to embroider.

But I'm a total beginner. I've embroidered, like, 3 projects in probably 10 years. It's just not something I've made time for, but I love the look of it and I'd love to do more (loads and loads) of it.

A few years ago, on a whim, I bought this fun book...

Doodle Stitching.  And it is awesome. I love the fun projects. And I love Aimee Ray's approach to embroidery. Doodling. Brilliant. 

And I love to doodle, as illustrated by my latest writing notebook. 

So, months and months (and months) ago (before Rory was born), I took a jean jacket of Zoe's and got busy. I didn't plan anything. I just started doodling. With thread....

It was super fun! It's an excellent thing to do while watching a movie. And isn't this such a great way to upcycle a coat? Or imagine what you could do to jean pockets. (I'm kind of excited by the possibilities. Yep. I love embroidery.)

Next...that jacket got plopped in a plastic box and shoved into a corner. We had Rory, school started, I attempted to shower more than once a week (sometimes failing), winter came, Christmas chaos and then, finally, a few weeks ago I worked on it some more. 

I'm happy as a lark about that butterfly. Oh, and I love how the words turned out there above the sun. You can't see them too well in the picture, but it says, "hello sunshine". 

It's not done. I still want to add all sorts of things to it. I want it to be really colorful and fun. But Zoe wanted to wear it anyway. 

She told me after the first day she wore it to school, that she went around showing everyone the back and saying, "My mom made it." 

Cute girl. 

Molly is anxiously awaiting for me to start hers. Luckily, I have a jean jacket all ready for it. She's requested a mermaid and a girl playing on the playground. Hmmmm. This will be interesting. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

our present ball tradition

A friend asked me about this funny tradition of ours the other day. After telling her all about our present ball she decided to try it this year. And I thought it would be a great thing to blog about, just in case anyone else wants to give this nutty, chaos-inducing tradition a shot.

So, here's the general idea. We save all the wrapping paper from holidays and birthdays all year long, wrapping and wrapping it all around a present. And then on New Year's Day we make a game of it and tear it open.

Now for more of a detailed explanation. 

On Christmas we save all the paper and ribbon. We stuff it in bags or boxes and then it gets shoved to a corner in the food storage room in the basement. Then I forget about it for awhile. But when I run downstaris for a can of corn or black beans I see the bags and remember. At some point I actually think to pick up prizes for the middle of our new ball. (Obviously this may not be the best way to go about doing this.)

Finally I take some time and get wrapping! And our new present ball is begun.

Then throughout the year I continue to add to it. After someone's opened all their birthday presents, we stuff the used paper into a bag. Sometimes I ask the kids to add the next layers. They quite like it!

Finally, on New Year's Day we play a crazy game.

You'll need:

Pair of dice
Two cooking spoons or oven mitts
A massive present ball

Gather your posse in a circle. The first person rolls the dice, hoping for doubles. If they don't get them then they pass the dice to the next person. The first person to get doubles gets to start opening the present ball. But, of course, if they used just their hands it would be waaaaaaay too easy. No, this needs to be a challenge. We've been saving that paper ALL YEAR! We're going to make this game take a bit more time.

So, they must either don oven mitts or use spoons (or maybe even both!) to unwrap the present. While they're going to town, tearing paper and throwing it willy nilly through the air, the rest of the eager participants continue to roll the dice, hoping for doubles and then passing them onto the next person.

Whoever gets the next doubles gets to take over the fun task of relieving the ball of its paper. This continues until, finally, someone manages to get to the middle. Then...Eureka! Whoever gets their first, wins the contents.

Now, a word about that center. It wouldn't be too much fun for all the participants if just one person won, right? So, we like to put some suprises in the center for everyone and then one fun thing for the winner. This last year I put punching balloons, chocolates (this would not normally be the case....but I didn't get the present ball wrapped until...THE DAY WE DID IT! Yes. That whole having-a-baby-thing put me a bit behind last year.) and a package of scented markers.

So, who won this last year? ( was New Year's, this year!)

It was Molly.

And there just might have been a bit of help from her cute brothers in that matter.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

one of the happiest families on earth

Holy Hannah! We were so excited to get to this place. We started planning this trip early on last year. I didn't want to buy the kids loads of things for Christmas, toys and more clothes and all the other stuff they don't really need. It all just ends up under their beds or pushed into closets anyways. I wanted to take that moula and put it towards a fun trip to Disneyland instead. I'd much rather have great memories than more things. Luckily, I got Ryan on board with the idea. And then it was easy peasy to convince the kiddos. 

But we didn't want to go at Christmas time because it would be way tooooo busy. So, we went at the end of January instead. 

And, boy, did we have fun!

Molly didn't remember our last trip, so this was like her first time! She was over-the-moon, bouncing-off-the-walls excited.

First up, Space Mountain!!! Yes. We were slightly thrilled about this prospect. Oh my. This is our very favorite ride! Sadly, Molly was still too small for it. And since Ryan gets motion sickness, he held Rory (although we got him on it later on in the vacation and it didn't make him sick! Although...he didn't want to go on it again). 

We must have jumped on the Haunted Mansion, at least, a thousand times. Seriously! I have no idea how many times we rode this. The kids love it. And it's one we could all go on, Rory included. Although I'm 
not so sure how much he loved it. 

Especially when we got stuck on it for about 15 minutes. Ack! We were right near a ghost jumping up from behind a grave, too. Molly just stared at it. It was totally freaking her out! I didn't want to go on that thing again. And I didn't think she'd ever want to, either. But she did! The very next day we were back on it again. 

It was so great going at this time of year! We walked onto most of the rides. There were hardly any lines. It was awesome!

The kids got into a bit of pin trading. That was something new for us and totally fun. 

Grizzley Rapids. Weston's favorite ride at California Adventure. He went on this with a lot...with his brothers, with everyone and even running off to go do it by himself a few times! 

Molly wasn't tall enough though. So, we watched for them. And, of course, I took pictures of her....

I asked each of the girls what kind of princess dress they wanted me to make for them. Molly chose Ariel's pink dress. 

This little girl was (mostly) so good and patient about the rides she couldn't go on. I think it helped that we prepared her for it. I showed her pictures of the rides she could ride and we talked about them. And I warned her there were some she couldn't do. 

The Ladybug ride was the one she was most excited to try! And look at that face! Yes. She was definitely loving it.

Zoe asked me to make her Sleeping Beauty's dress. So, our girls were very very pink for one of the days. 

Oh! I love this family of mine. I love that we were able to take this crazy fun trip together. And I love the memories we built.

We splurged and took the family to Ariel's Grotto for lunch one day. The girls loved meeting so many princesses at once. They chatted with each of them and got their autographs and pictures taken with them. It was great!

Although Rory wasn't too impressed with those sparkly-dressed ladies. 

Maybe it's crazy to bring a baby along to Disneyland, but I think he had fun! In other news, I have no idea what Ryan was looking at. 

California Screamin' Oh my! Zoe was really looking forward to this. She was finally tall enough for this ride and she could. not. wait. And her brothers were pretty excited, too. 

And I think the next picture speaks for itself about whether or not they enjoyed the ride...

We even managed to convince Ryan to go on that one later. And he loved it! It didn't even make him sick! So, he went on it again. I was so happy he could ride it! 

I love this blurry shot of my little princess. This was her for almost the whole entire trip. She practically danced everywhere! I have this lovely, snapshot of a memory of her walking down the Disneyland Main Street toward the exit on our first night. All the bright lights were shining. We'd had a great day. And we were definitely under that magical Disney spell. Molly danced and twirled down that twinkle lit street, parading along, happy as a lark. Everything was completely perfect and wonderful in her life. It was the best.

These boys went on the Grizzley Rapids quite a bit together. I love that they were able to spend time together, laughing and having fun. 

Family trips are the very very best.