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Friday, August 22, 2014

Halloween/Thanksgiving 2x4 Craft - Double Sided!

If it weren't for other people, I don't know if I'd manage to work in time for "fun" crafting very often - especially right now when I seem to spend most of my days in the garage working on drying racks or sorting through yet another closet or stack of boxes in an effort to pare down all the STUFF before we move.  However, I get pretty cranky when all I do is "work" so a couple months ago when I was asked to put together a craft for the women's group at a local church I was pretty quick to agree.  I love introducing people to one of my favorite hobbies!
It didn't take us long to decide on an easy (and hopefully quick!) 2x4 craft for Halloween and Thanksgiving - yes, it's double sided!    The easier it is to change out holiday decor and the less space it takes up in storage, the better, right?  The front side reads "BEWARE of little Monsters" and the back side says "THANKS for little Blessings."
We ended up with almost 30 people signed up for the craft - Yay!  I'm told most of them have never done anything crafty so I've been thinking extra hard about how to have it all go as smoothly as possible.  Over the last week or so I've pulled together a kit for everyone and while I was at it I figured, hey, why not pull together a quick How To for the blog.  I haven't done one of those in a while.
In the kit they will find the wooden blocks, vinyl lettering, patterned paper cut to size, a couple pieces of ribbon (which I forgot to put in the photo!) and even a nice little reference sheet.  I took the extra time to type up the reference sheet because 1) a few of the people won't be able to make it tomorrow but still wanted to make the craft and 2) with that many people they may not be able to have the example blocks right in front of them and I wanted them to at least have photos for reference and 3) some people learn better/retain things better if they can read it instead of just listening to a quick explanation.

*For those of you that are going to ask (and I know someone is going to ask!) here is a quick run through of the sizes for the wood pieces.  You can use a 2x4 for all pieces (I got 2-3 sets out of one 2x4).  Cut out two pieces 7 1/4" high, two pieces 4 1/8" high, and two pieces 3 1/2" high.  For the base block I cut it 14" long then ran it through the table saw (or rather, my awsome husband did) so that it was 2" high.

The rest of the process is pretty easy:
-paint all sides of all wooden pieces.  (Actually I would have preferred to stain them, but the stain has to dry overnight and it really messy so I figured paint was a much better option for craft day)  It will probably take two coats.
-cut your patterned paper slightly smaller than the size of the blocks.  Adhere patterned paper with Modge Podge or similar adhesive
-apply vinyl lettering
-apply another coat of Modge Podge over the top of everything, including the sides that are only painted (this keeps the finish consistantly glossy on all sides)
-when dry, attach ribbon embellishments using wood glue or a hot glue gun.

Told you it was easy! ;)  Now for the beauty shots.
 





The big craft day is tomorrow!  I've already been over to help set everything up - can't wait!  I'll let you know how it goes... ;)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Road Trip Activity Folder for the Kids

'Tis the Season for Road Trips!  At least it was for our family.  Typically we plan one big vacation every year to go back to Utah and see our families.  This year we wanted to be there for a few weeks, and not wanting to leave the pup with anyone for that length of time, we decided to road trip it.  Oh yes we did! LOL  Three full days in the car (each way!) with two kids and a dog.  I'll blog about how we survived that one soon.  But for today, I just wanted to do a quick round-up of some of the activities I prepped to keep the kids busy while we were on the road.  Because, let's face it, while technology is awesome and we used it a lot, I didn't exactly want to see this every time I looked in the back seat.
 
 Yes, we did pack the mini DVD player (and a brand new movie), the tablet (with a couple new free apps) and the Ipods (again, with updated playlists).  We also uploaded an audio book the whole family could listen to (we highly recommend the Heros of Olympus series by Rick Riordan) and that served to keep us entertained for the majority of the time.  For variety's sake - and to get the kids to look out the window or carry on a conversation with us once in a while - I prepped quite a few activities ahead of time and put them in a couple of binders.

I found quite a few cute printables (like the Slug Bug one) here  and you can check my pinterest board for other ideas.  Each child got their own folder full of printables and I packed some dry erase markers so they could write directly on the page protectors then wipe them off to use again.  I also kept another folder in my bag full of more activities so I could change it up if I needed to when they got bored.  This included things like Lego instructions for the little guy (a couple sets in his binder and more ideas in mine) and origami folding instructions for Miss Kate.

Of course I also printed out maps for each day of our route.  One of the most exciting parts of the trip was anticipating when we would cross a state line and we would start counting down the miles 5-10 miles out from each one.  Kaitlyn even marked her map with the times we crossed each one so we could really see our progress.
Trip Journal Page found here.
Origami instructions found here.
Printable State Activity Pages found here.  I thought these were absolutely fantastic.  I kept them in my folder as well and handed them back to the kids as we entered each new state.
Of course, best laid plans and all - they did a few of them but often they were busy with other things and most of the state pages went into their folders unused.  No worries - we will be making the trip again in a couple of months (EEEK!  The move is coming so quickly!) so I kept it all together in their folders and my activity prep will already be done.
Another activity they enjoyed was making duct tape projects.  Again, I printed a few instructions out ahead of time and Kaitlyn was able to use the techniques and make up her own design for a wallet.
I also printed off some very detailed abstract coloring pages and packed a set of colored pencils for us to use (crayons and hot cars sounded like a bad idea) and found that even I liked to pull them out and color a bit while listening to the audio book.  (now that is something we should all blog tips about - forget about entertaining the kids, how do we adults pass the long hours in the car?!)

All in all, an hour or two on the computer and a small collection of office supplies and we were all set.  If only all of my projects were that easy...


Friday, August 15, 2014

Moving!

 I've alluded to it a couple of times on the blog but I don't think I've said it straight out.  We're moving!  I'm oh so excited!  And nervous.  And kinda overwhelmed.

Any move is a big life event but this one feels like a giant leap since we made the decision to move not based on financial reasons but because our priorities have changed.  We really feel that the most important thing is for our kids to grow up close to extended family and in a place we know will be good for them.  I am not knocking the reasons we chose to go active duty four years ago and make the move out here.  It has been an adventure full of valuable experiences and lessons, fun times, new friends and definitely new perspectives.  I wouldn't go back and change that.  However, the longer we were away from "home" the more we knew that was truly where we wanted/needed to be.  And now we are finally taking concrete steps to make that happen.

The house is up for sale (or rent - spread the word please if you get the chance!) and the paperwork is turned in for the husband to go back to the Reserves instead of full time active duty.  We have made plans with my parents to start building a house on the family property and to live in their basement until the house is finished (yikes!  That's going to be an...adventure in and of itself).  And here I sit with a notebook full of To Do lists and an ever-growing pile of stuff in the playroom full of items that won't be making the move with us.

Wish me luck!  We have just over two months before moving day!  That doesn't feel like enough time to take care of everything while the other part of me wants to be on the way right now.  Funny how that works.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Many Days Til School Starts?!

It's creeping up on us.  AGAIN.  That time when the kiddos put away their well-used shorts and tank tops, put on their stiff new shoes and painstakingly chosen First Day of School outfits and... all of us Stay At Home parents get the house to ourselves again!
Kidding! ;)  I've really enjoyed having the kids home with me this summer and it went by all too quickly, as life often does lately.  But I do enjoy the Back to School shopping and the planning and anticipation of a brand new year.

We've been in school preparation mode for the last few days.  It started out with one of my pre-move sort/toss sessions - this time in one of the storage closets and a box full of office supplies.  Or maybe it was someone mentioning shopping for school supplies on Facebook.  Whatever it was, I finally remembered to pull out the kids' school supplies list and started seeing what I could pull from our already existing stash of school supplies.  As luck would have it, I was able to pull almost everything on their lists out of the supplies I already had on hand (well other than the multiples and random things.  Since the kids are only going to be at this school for about 6 weeks I don't think they need 20 gluesticks or 3 boxes or tissues, etc etc).  Score!  That only left new pencil pouches and a pack of lined paper that I easily picked up the next time I was out.  That really put me in planning mode and it wasn't long before I was on the computer seeing what else I needed to get ready for school.

If you need inspiration of your own, I have a TON on my Pinterest board. (here)  I've been reviewing it myself so I can print out this year's round of Must Haves for photo ideas and memories.  My picks so far:
-First Day of school signs for photos here or here.  I think I will use the chevron print ones again this year - at least here in NC.  I love the idea of the conversation bubble ones and am thinking those would be a great First Day of School AGAIN photo prop after we move and the kids have their first day at the new school.
-First Day of school interview questions (printable here or here).  I try to do this every year in one form or another.  I think I used this one last year
-Stocking up on lunchbox jokes like these cuties here and here.

I was on such a roll that I decided to finish the Back to School shopping over the weekend.  We had run into fantastic deals for Tyler while we were on vacation so he was already set for new clothing.  So Kaitlyn and I left the boys home Saturday and went shopping on our own.  Turning it into a Girls Day Out was so much fun.  At almost eleven she has opinions and a style of her own but is young enough that the thought of spending a whole day out shopping with just me feels really special - especially when she gets to chose the restaurant for lunch.  She talked non-stop the entire day and I realized how easily I go through my days with the kids not fully tuning in to what may be on their minds or having full conversations with them.  So I gave myself a "good mommy" pat on the back for doing that and vowed to be better at that.

Sunday found us all out at the Outlets in search of shoes - the final thing on the list.  Does anyone else find that shoes are the hardest part?!  We hit three full stores before Kaitlyn finally decided she wasn't going to find any she was truly in love with (and I had already accepted last year that I was no longer going to get off without shelling out a good chunk of change for shoes from now on *sigh*) and settled for a pair that were comfortable but not much of a fashion statement.  Thank goodness we had already ordered her a super-cute inexpensive pair of boots online a couple weeks ago.  The compromise on the gym shoes wasn't as big a deal when we remembered that.  We found Tyler a decent pair of new cowboy boots plus some gym shoes he was excited about and after getting home I spent the next 30 minutes reteaching him to tie his shoes.  Any bets on how long it takes me to get frustrated with his slow progress every morning and change out the laces for elastic again this year? lol

With that I considered myself entirely done with Back to School prep.  Until yesterday.  When something prompted a discussion on dressing up Kaitlyn's jeans and I heard myself mentioning we could Bedazzle them.  Mental head slap right? I was DONE.  She was HAPPY.  But we had settled for 4 pairs of the exact same style of jean because my skinny little girl always has a hard time finding pants that fit and those were the only ones that worked.  And they were very Plain Jane and you should have seen Miss Kate's eyes light up at the thought of adding sparkles to her jeans herself.  So today they went from this

to this


Ta Da!


Now I'm done with Back to School Prep... except I need tags for the teacher gift...and maybe something cute to dress up the table at my annual Back to School Mom's Brunch... ;)

Linking to:
Best DIY Projects and Recipe Party
BFF Open House Link Party

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm Ba-ack!

Wow.  Whirlwind summer so far.  I love it - we've had a lot of fun and it's always better to have time fly by than to crawl.  But, oh the poor neglected blog! ;)  I have four, yes four, partially finished posts sitting in the drafts folder plus the Back to School one I started this morning.  Yikes.  It's a good thing there aren't any blog police!

So what have we been up to?  Well as soon as school let out we had a couple short weeks here at home full of swimming lessons, friends, time at the pool, and me valiantly trying to get ahead of orders on drying racks (for the Etsy shop).  All leading up to a more-than-three-week-long trip to visit our families in Utah - road trip style, at that!  So so fun!  (even with taking the dog with us cross country LOL.  That's a blog post of it's own right there)  Even more exciting is we are now finally moving ahead on plans to move back home to Utah! We absolutely cannot wait!  But of course that means that in the two weeks since getting back from vacation I have been frantically playing catch up on the Etsy orders, putting the house on the market, getting the ball rolling with all the other things needed for the move, trying to look ahead and get things taken care of for Back to School, sneak in a little more time at the pool and with friends, and on and on.  It's a lot.  Still kind of overwhelming, actually, until I remind myself that I only need to tackle one thing at at time.  I can do this!  Right?!
And just look where we will be when it's all behind us.  The view from my parent's basement, where we will be living while we build our new house. :P  Oh the adventure that awaits...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Scared of Summer Boredom? No way!

The last day of school is finally here!  Better late than never, right?  This year I find myself just as excited as the kids are for summer to officially begin.  I'm ready to slow down a little bit, to not worry about having to get everyone up and out the door early every morning.  But unlike other years, I don't find myself with that bittersweet feeling of losing some of the independence having them in school gives me and I'm not forecasting long days of the kids bugging each other and me because they are that dreaded 5-letter word - Bored.

I just don't see that happening this year.  Crazy, right?  And it's not because I plan to fill our days with activities or let them spend all day watching TV.  In fact, they have both agreed (unprompted by me) to start the summer with a 10 day V-tox, starting tomorrow.  No screens or technology of any sort.  I'm not V-toxing myself because, well that feels a little bit like torture (haha) and with the Etsy shop I do have online responsibilities.  However, I do intend to pay a lot more attention to the time I do spend using technology effectively and not "wasting" time as I often do.  But I'm getting side-tracked...
So why am I not afraid of summer boredom this year?  Well, I think part of it is the ages my children have reached.  They both have recently hit growth spurts in addition to becoming much more independent and self-directed, especially my oldest (who I have now started to be able to leave home alone for short periods of time - so nice!).  For the most part my kids get along really well with each other and can entertain themselves together and separately - and that's a big step.  The rest of my confidence resides in the fact that there is just so much to do!
Our Summer Bucket list is all ready to go.  A good chunk of our summer will be spent in Utah visiting family and friends.  We are road tripping it this year so that we can take the dog with us (yikes!  Three days in the car with kids and a dog - but I'm optimistic.  I'll blog about my plans for that soon).  Before we leave we will be busy with swimming lessons, vacation prep (which includes lots and lots of time spend painting drying racks in the garage.  Oh boy), swimming in the pool, playing with friends, BBQs, and if we're lucky the blueberries will be ripe before we leave and we can get in another berry picking session (we already picked strawberries about a month ago).
During the times when we are not out and about, the kids have plenty to do here at home.  I firmly believe that if you give kids the right tools, things go along pretty smoothly.  So of course they have access to many things both inside (art supplies, legos, games, etc) and outside (bikes, roller skates, sports equipment, water, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and even the corn hole boards we finished recently).

And if that isn't enough I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. I still have the Summer Fun Ideas jar I put together a few years ago.  Inside are slips of paper with ideas for everything from creating your own pretend restaurant to sweeping the kitchen floor.  If they are ever at a loss for something to do, they just have to draw out a slip of paper.  The catch is that they MUST do whatever is on that paper for at least 15 minutes before moving on to the next activity.  Most of the ideas are fun, but I threw in a few "chores" so that they don't use the idea jar frivolously.
 The library system always has a great summer reading program and a lot of planned activities and events.  I haven't even had a chance to look at that list yet.  Both of my kids have reading goals for the summer - well, Kaitlyn does and I have decided on one for Tyler.  ;)
 My kids are also excited to earn "brag tags" again this year with their cousins.  They live in a great town that started an "unplugged" program last year that is simply fantastic.  A bunch of local businesses sponsor each activity on the list, and as the children complete the activity they go to that business to collect their tag to add to their lanyard.  The activities range from simple things like taking a photo of the sunset or making cookies and delivering them to the nursing home, to hiking to the top of a mountain or becoming a Jr Ranger at the state park.  Some are associated with the business itself and offer free services or a discount on things like bowling or a carousel ride.  I was surprised with how well thought out the whole thing was and how unique a lot of the ideas were.  (see the website here - even if you don't live in the area there are a lot of great ideas on the list.  There are a handful of areas that have adopted the program this year too - maybe next year yours will join in)  The kids earned around 15 tags in the two weeks we spent in Utah last year and are hoping to top that number this time around.

So I'm interested - what are your plans for the summer?  Any ideas I need to add to my list?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

4th of July Subway Art

Don't you just love it when out of the blue, not only do you get a few minutes to craft but you actually know what you want to make AND already have the supplies?  That's exactly what I lucked into this past weekend.  A friend of mine wanted a 4th of July wreath for her front door and we scheduled a little spur of the moment crafting so I could be on hand in case she needed any help putting it together (mostly that means tying the big fluffy bows :)  and saying "yes that looks great!").  I had a few orders for countdown blocks that I needed to work on, so my plan was to finish those and not really worry about other crafts.  Then I remembered I had been thinking about adding something to my 4th of July decorations that I put up a few days ago (blog post here).  In true craft-hoarder fashion I was able to dig up exactly what I needed in no time at all, including some scrap wood that was the perfect size (approx 13" x 24") - I didn't even have to sand it! A simple coat of blue paint, a few pieces of vinyl and it was all ready to go up on the wall.
The hardest part was setting up the cut files for the vinyl lettering.  It always takes a little bit of playing around to get the difference sizes and placement for subway art to look right (and I'm no expert with any of it) but I kept this one pretty simple and instead of changing fonts I just adjusted sizes and spacing.


 The husband turned out to be a big fan of this one too - yay!  (He has a soft spot for anything patriotic, I think)  It didn't take long for him to route a keyhole on the back so I could mount it on the wall.  And now I can happily move on to the Next Big Thing on the list...soon as I decide what that is ;)