Tuesday, November 29, 2011
It has been interesting living in a mostly-military neighborhood. There is usually one friend/neighbor that is deployed or anticipating deployment or going off for training of some sort. It makes for an unusual dynamic as well as some unique experiences. We've had more than a couple "girl power" moments helping to change tires or repair fences when the husbands weren't around - oh how fun that was (ha). And though we've had our share of deployments, I've been thankful that there haven't been any recently, nor are there any on the horizon for my husband.
This weekend I got to experience deployments/homecomings from a slightly different angle. The husband of a friend of mine has been gone for the last seven months and he returned Sunday. It's been a rough one for her, as she found out she was pregnant just a few days after he left and the pregnancy itself hasn't exactly been an easy one. Of course she's been incredibly excited and nervous about the homecoming and shortly before leaving to pick him up she asked if I would tag along and take photos (and the added moral support probably didn't hurt either).
It was a fairly smooth homecoming, as far as those things go. They had the place for the families to gather all prepared and were handing out little flags and things for the kids to color while they waited. The plane itself was only 30 minutes late. And talk about your celebration plans - there was a marching band, some sort of honor guard of bikers holding a line of flags, and they literally rolled out a red carpet on the tarmac. Then there were the families, who I'm sure had spent the day cleaning their houses and planning big dinners, with homemade signs and balloons in hand, all shined and polished and dressed up (oh some of those outfits were absolutely darling. A little girl in a camouflage tutu, a toddler in a mini set of fatigues). All of this for just that one moment of seeing their loved one for the first time - a guy who cares about none of it except for the big hugs and kisses.
I stood back and watched it all - for once not being the one experiencing all of those crazy emotions. Seeing it from the outside while understanding it from the inside. It made me think about things a little - that endless time spent waiting, all those hopes and plans and dreams and preparation leading up to that moment...totally worth it.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Like this pinwheel BBQ one - I had completely forgotten about it!
So I thought I would do a quick round-up of past party posts from the blog. You can see the complete list of party posts here. (or just use the keyward party on the labels list on the sidebar)
Topping the list for my most Over the Top or labor intensive birthday parties is either:
Kaitlyn's Sleeping Beauty Birthday party where I created an entire castle out of cardboard boxes
Kaitlyn's Dora the Explorer birthday party where I turned the whole thing into one giant episode of the TV show.
And the most popular party on my blog - Tyler's Dump Truck Birthday Party. According to the blog stats that post gets the most hits monthly and of all time, by a huge margin. (I thought that was interesting, don't you?)
I have a "thing" for the word happy. Or joy. If I see a quote using one of those words, it almost always calls to me. One of my other favs is "just for today, be happy."
I believe that a lot of our moods are based on our perspective and outlook on life, not on what happens to us. I also believe that it is our "job" to find and create happiness for ourselves and other people in our lives. We can decide to have a good day. We can recognize when we are cranky and do something to lift our moods (chocolate always works! haha or music). We can enjoy whatever small moments life hands us and not go looking or wishing for something better. Because whatever we have right here, right now is enough, in fact, I bet it's pretty great.
We are celebrating Thanksgiving here at home today, just our little family of 4. We had the option of traveling back to Utah for Thanksgiving with our extended families but we chose not to. And we're still relatively new in town so the neighbors and coworkers we felt close enough to to invite to join us for Thanksgiving already had plans. That's ok. Because the people that are here in this house right now (currently all sitting on the couch watching cartoons) are all it takes for me to feel loved and happy. I know the rest of our loved ones miss us and may even spare us a thought or a phone call today but I want them to enjoy their Thanksgiving without us as well.
Parties and celebrations come in all shapes and sizes, right? It's all about putting forth just a tiny bit of extra effort to make a day, or a moment, just a little more special than the norm. So today we are doing our own version of Thanksgiving dinner - a turkey that Sam will spend the day smoking (with menu plans for at least 2 other meals that incorporate leftovers!), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy (Kaitlyn's favorite), rolls, dressing, and corn (another request from Kate) and two pies (pumpkin and chocolate, already waiting for us in the fridge). The green bean casserole, jello salad, mac and cheese and other things that may usually grace the table didn't make it into our top 5 and we're ok without them. (in fact, other than the jello salad, the kids are probably glad about that) And instead of spending the day sitting around the kitchen visiting while the kids are off playing, maybe we'll have them help more with the meal preparation. Or sit down and make a family list of things we are thankful for. And probably print off one or two of the great printables I've seen online (like this printable placemat or
this Roll a Turkey game). But whatever it is, I will be happy to be spending the day with my adorable kiddos and great husband, and very thankful for all the wonderful people and things that make up my life.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Traditions aren't just for the holidays. I'm sure a lot of you have ways you like to celebrate birthdays or good grades on a report card or a promotion or National Cheesecake Day. ;) The kind of things that make the difference between and ordinary day and one that's just a little bit more. Please share!
One of my favorite traditions for the upcoming holidays is the month-long visit from Santa's Elves. This is an idea I started 4 years ago (original post here) and the kids have been in love with it ever since. In fact it's very highly anticipated and Kaitlyn has already been talking about them this year.
For those of you that aren't familiar with what I'm talking about, our Christmas elves are a variation of the Elf on the Shelf. Santa sends his elves to our home to report back on the kids' behavior. During the day the elves are just stuffed toys, but of course they're magic and at night they like to play. We often wake up to find they have been up to some silly stuff while we were sleeping. Sometimes they bring things for the kids. Sometimes they leave notes. Sometimes they get in a little bit of trouble. (really it just depends on how creative I am and how well I planned ahead!) It's all a lot of fun.
Now, it's time for me to get a couple orders ready to go in the mail before heading up to the school to watch my daughter race in the elementary school's traditional pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. I'm interested to know though - what are some of your favorite traditions (holiday or otherwise)? Do Santa's elves visit your house, and what do they do while they visit?
Monday, November 21, 2011
Here is my inspiration photo.
I started out with a couple sheets of posterboard. Cardboard or foam core would work too. Whatever you have.
For the sides of the chest I cut a rectangle approx 10" wide and 8" tall, then cut off the corners to make the top wider than the bottom.
I also made 2 half circles, the diameter of each the same width as the top of the side pieces (8")Once I had the sides for quidelines, I measured the angled pieces and cut a series of rectangles for the rest of the pieces. I decided I wanted the chest 15" wide, so that is how wide all the rest of the pieces will be and the other measurement corresponds to where it fits on the chest. The width of the bottom piece matches the bottom of the side piece (approx 7"), the front and back match up with the sides on the side piece (approx 8 1/2"). I cut the top piece slightly larger than the round part of the half circles, again, at 15" wide.
I added an extra piece of posterboard (using spray adhesive) to the top piece in the center, then punched holes through both and ran a piece of yarn through it for hanging.
Now it's time to assemble! Using small tape pieces I took one side and just started adding pieces. Once the pieces were in place I went back in with larger pieces of tape and fully covered every edge with tape.Assembling the top as one piece and the bottom as another piece, then joining them together from the inside at the back and sides. I left the front open so I could stuff the pinata later.
On to the decorative part! I simply took a roll of crete paper and using spray adhesive, applied it in overlapping strips (you could also fringe the edges, but that's a whole lot more work). Once the entire thing is covered you can go back and trim the edges and put on one more strip of crepe paper to make it all clean and pretty.
Time to add the prizes!On any other pinata I would have left a small tab opening on the side to stuff the items into. As the design on this one worked better to just leave the front open and it's hard to get tape inside to adhere it as we did the other sides I fudged it a little by punching a few holes and kind of lacing the front together with yarn. You hardly notice it and could cover it up with decorative items later if it bugs you.
It was a pretty simple matter to add the lock and the trademark sword on the sides. I just free-handed something that kinda, sorta, resembled them onto some golden yellow cardstock and cut them out.And there we have it! A fully assembled treasure chest pinata in under an hour and probably less than $2 in materials (not counting prizes). Yay! Next on the list - party favors or games...
It seems appropriate to start up again now since I'm back in party planning mode. It took me a while to get my enthusiasm back (after Kaitlyn's party in Oct) and many days trying to make myself stop procrastinating. But here we are, less than 2 weeks from my son's 5th birthday, and I have spent the afternoon working on party prep - go me! I wanted to get the invitations done ASAP so we can deliver them this week. Luckily, once I got going it was pretty easy to continue working on the rest of the printables. I not only have the invitations created, printed and ready to go out but the tags for the favor bags, coloring pages, pieces for the banner, signs, and misc other things are spread all over my craft table :)
Up next - the pinata!
Monday, November 14, 2011
10 months after the move, we finally got around to refinishing it! It was part of our big project day right before my birthday (last month) and I've been excited to show it to you. But let me show you what else we worked on that day before I show you the reveal.
They were replacing all the tables in Sam's classroom at the base and were giving away all the old tables. These things had been beat up, what with being used to clean guns on, etc. And they were pretty utilitarian looking to begin with. But really - free tables? Can't pass that one up. And they had to be an improvement over the teeny tiny table I had been using in the craft room.
And those tables? Well they look pretty good too!
Total cost: under $50 for paint, stain, poly, and new handles. $50 for all three pieces!
I think I can get a lot of crafting done in this space, don't you?