The Rains Came Down, So We Went Puddle Hunting

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yesterday, a huge storm blew through in the late afternoon, thwarting my plans to take the kids to beat the heat at a splash fountain after naptimes. This storm was a DOOZY-- lots of thunder, crazy winds, and some of the heaviest rain I've seen in years. In direct result of this crazy storm, I was treated to some really lovely snuggles from the kiddos. Quinn, who is hating thunder so much these days, was especially content to stay close to me. I'd gotten him from his crib after his nap, and Lucy had trailed in after me, and both were so perfectly content to sit on my lap in the glider rocker while we listened to lullabies on the sound machine and watched the trees blow in the wind. Not too long after, Noah found his way into Quinn's small room to be near us, playing on the iPad for his screen time, and we had a cozy hour in that little room, just being together and marveling at Mother Nature. 

By the time the storm moved into a hail phase, Quinn had finally wriggled free, so we all headed downstairs to watch the hail from our front door. When everything lightened up again, I asked the kids if they wanted to go find some puddles and play in the water here, since we didn't get to go play at the park like we'd originally planned. 

I have to say-- sometimes the Universe has other plans for us, and sometimes those plans are even better than the original one. 

(Grandma got this little angel for the front yard flowerbed because it reminded she and I of Lucy. So Lucy calls it the Lulu Angel.)

DIY Photo Frame Pinboards: Colorful, Cute, and Easy!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Looking for a really easy, really inexpensive, but super cute crafty idea, perhaps for  a few of this year's Christmas gifts? How do you like these photo frame pinboards? I made these last Christmas, and I can tell you that ANYONE can do this.

Who's in? 

Photo Frame Pinboards Supply List

1. Photo frames:
Any frame will work, but these are 5x7s and 8x10s from Hobby Lobby. They have the cute shaped ones for about $7-$10 each (after their "frames are always 50% off" deal).

2. White foam core board: 
like the kind you used in school for presentations and things.

3. Approx 1/4 yard of fabric:  
The fabrics I used here are "duck" fabric, a thicker, canvas-like cotton that is often used for indoor/outdoor projects. But regular cotton should work, too. Steer clear of stretchy fabrics.

4. Xacto knife and straight edge with self-healing mat: 
Honestly, scissors, etc., will not work for this. And you'll rue the day you use an xacto without a self-healing mat. If you don't own one, maybe ask a quilter friend to borrow hers?

5. Duct tape: any color

6. Map pins or any other cute push pins


To start, you'll remove the glass and innards from your frame. Warning-- if you get a frame like that ornate mint one in the first photo, you'll discover AFTER you brought it home that the glass is glued in. Seriously glued in. But your husband might be willing to save the day and hammer/pry it out for you, if you ask nicely. To avoid this in the first place, just check while you're still in the store to see if your frame's glass comes out like most normal frames SHOULD. 

Okay, so once glass is removed, measure the inside area just to be sure it's 5x7" or whatever it is supposed to be. It might be a slightly bigger opening, so getting the measurements right is a good idea. 

Then you are going to take your ruler and a pen and mark a rectangle on your foam core. Make it a millimeter or two smaller than the opening you just measured. Then take your straight edge ruler and xacto knife and CAREFULLY cut out your foam board.

Next, you'll cut a rectangle of fabric that is about 2-3" larger all around than your foam board. This does not have to be precise. Just be generous. Looking at the image above, you'll see some pen parks at each corner. This shows where you are going to cut corners off of the fabric. You don't want them to be right at the edge of the foam board--- you need a few millimeters of room for when you fold the fabric onto itself. Giving this wiggle room keeps the corners from poking out of the fabric as it gets wrapped around. 

Okay. Your corners trimmed and your fabric is ready-- it's time to pull out your duct tape and get that fabric onto your foam board. Start wherever, and tape your fabric in place. It's like wrapping a gift, kind of! The next side you want to tape up is the one directly opposite the first one. This helps maintain tension in the fabric. So do opposite ends first, then turn it and do the other two opposite ends. No need to cover every inch-- just get it so it feels really nice and snug on the other side.

And you're literally almost done. Now you just push this fabric-covered board into the frame, like this:
And at this point, if you want a nice finish, you get to wrestle the back of the frame back on. I have to say, this was, by far, the hardest part of the whole thing. Because the foam board is thick, and the fabric makes it thicker, so in order to get your thin wood frame back to fit back on, it takes some muscle. I shoved one end into the pre-cut groove most frames now have, then just stubbornly muscled the rest of it in with a few choice words and a lot of perseverance. Once the whole thing is in the grooves, these frames have those metal prongs you fold back down to hold it all in place. 

And then, all that is left is to get your favorite photos, or maybe something cute your little one drew for you, or another memento like concert tickets, etc., and use a push pin to tack it to your photo-frame-turned-pinboard. Best part--- it's easy to switch out the things you display, because the fabric masks the pin holes as you change things over time.

And there you go--- because you can use nearly ANY frame, and ANY fabric, these cute pinboards are so easy to match to your style and favorite colors. You can go the shabby chic route with ornate white frames and some floral fabric, or trendy-modern like the chevrons and ikats shown here. You could match one to your baby's nursery. The possibilities are endless! Who on your Christmas list could use one of these?

(Oh, and bonus: if you have a crafty 6-year-old, you can give him your fabric scraps and he'll turn around and make them into "jet robots" with some scotch tape and a lot of inner vision. And then he'll write love notes on them and insist you never throw them away. And you might, if you're a little loony like me, laminate a few of them, just for fun, and actually keep a couple. But that is all super hypothetical.)


Day in the Life: Summer 2014, No. 3

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Morning light comes into this room-- the dining room, so the yellow walls really soak it in and give a pretty warm glow to the start of our days. Quinn loves to watch cars, buses, garbage trucks, etc. go by as he sits in his thrift store high chair every morning.

As our summer went along,  the older two kids took to sleeping in a bit--- around 7:45-8:00am, so Quinn was usually the lone kiddo keeping me company after Joe left for work. Now that school is back in session, Noah gets woken at 7:00am, so he's the first one in the dining room, and Quinn wakes around 7:15 and joins him. Lucy is still sleeping in most mornings. And hey, there I am, keepin' it real with a post-shower, flushed, no-makeup face, waiting for my curly hair to air-dry. Cute.

On this day back in July, I had time before the kids were all up to go get some miscellaneous toy tubs from our stash in the basement and reintroduce them into the daily rotation. The kids get to dive into these almost-forgotten toys, play with them all morning, and then when it's time to clean up, I fill the tubs with the old toys they'd had for a few months, and leave the "new" ones out for them for the next several weeks. We've only really been rotating toys since moving to this house and I LOVE IT. The kids do, too. Not only do we minimize constant toy clutter, but the kids fall in love all over again, every time new-old toys get re-revealed.

Smoothies for breakfast. The sherbet is to sweeten it.... The kids just aren't ready for hardcore fruit/milk/ice only. Sorrynotsorry. Yum.

Quinn is obsessed with smoothies. I love that they are not as spill-y as regular liquids.

Lucy opts for her usual: a huge cup of skim milk. Every day. This girl loves her milk. I think she still had her smoothie.... but milk first.

Then playtime. Oh, those toy buckets. SO AWESOME.

Meanwhile,outside our front door, there continues to be some major things happening as the city prepares to replace our water main. Today, it is parts stored right in front of our house. SO COOL.

And then happy mail to Lucy. (Thanks Amanda!)

Then some happy mail from us to that little 6-year old with cancer who was getting cards from all over the country back in July. Why not? I hoped it would set a tiny example of service for Noah. Never mind he got really sheepish and reluctant when I proposed the idea, as the kids and I walked to our very-near Target to pick out cards. My hope is that even if the initial feelings aren't warm about these kinds of things, the ultimate residual feelings about it all will be positive and Noah will become more acclimated to the idea of serving others... Even strangers.

Hey, lookie at me! I even made zucchini bread this day! New toy tubs, a walk to Target, AND baking? I was more on FIRE than I probably felt that day! Hindsight is so rich. Why does it take looking back to appreciate so many things? Good thing I take so many photos.... I get even more hindsight reflection than most!

(Noah's red leaf, found on our walk. The abnormally cool summers must really be messing with the poor trees cycles!)

As the afternoon wore on, I hosted a photographer friend for a quick shootout/hangout. Her gorgeous little man turned one year old, and I offered her the use of my backdrops and setups to capture a cake smash for him. Poor guy wasn't too into the idea, but she got some cute shots anyway! And at one point I stepped in with my own camera to see if he would do better with her near him instead of behind the camera. But yeah, nope.

After she and her baby headed home, Quinn showed unusual interest in my setup. And I, never one to pass up the opportunity, yanked over a small chair and that fedora I've been DYING to photograph him in, and crossed my fingers his curiosity would last long enough to get some photos. Never mind the blue hat didn't match his brown shirt... Or that none of this was planned. Carpe diem. Especially when  a kid who usually runs away decides he wants to sit still like that baby did. And wear that hat like the baby (kind of) did. Oh how rivalry/envy works in our favor with kids sometimes.... Haha!

And my stinker gave me more than a few photos!

(His dino in hand. Hat not matching. I don't even care. Look at my baby boy!)

First shot of Quinn: 5:24pm. Last shot: 5:26pm. And then he was off. See, you gotta work fast with little ones. And I pride myself on being fast and effective when I photograph little kids. Make a note, if you are looking for a session. Two minutes might not sound like much, but look at all that eye contact! And a smile or two! I WIN! Call me! (Heh. I can solicit on my own blog, right?!)

Somehow Lucy got ahold of the dino...... Probably by force. Tears were probably shed by Quinn. They're.......... not the best of friends. *sigh*

But Lucy sure is cute. Easy to forgive. And Quinn still seems to like her, even when she hollers at him, takes toys from him, pushes him. Oh girl. Someone tell me this is just a phase? That she's not a psychopath-in-training?

Oh yeah. Noah's feet were cold. And he is currently scared of going upstairs by himself. Ever. Even just to fetch a pair of socks. So here are dad's socks, from the clean laundry basket nearby. Nice.
(Scroll too fast and it looks like Lucy's top half and Noah's bottom half are weirdly meant to go together. Ha. Oops. Go do it. Scroll back to see. You know you wanna.)

WAY nice. This kid means business.

Hey! Evening approached and we welcomed a visitor--- Uncle Steve, my brother. He came to town from CoMo to hang with us since his wife was out of town on a school trip that week. And Legos were brought out (also from the basement stash). And everyone waxed creative and happy with varying levels of Lego-play.

 Finally, bedtime, and some Lulu shenanigans- that girl loves a good dress-up....

And that was another day in our life, back in that week in July when I undertook this project, but then never finished editing and blogging the durned things. Though I did manage Day One and Day Two. And this ends Day Three. And that is all I have to say tonight. BLOG DONE. 

Except--- Hey! I didn't blog last week. LAME. So I will repent by posting a second blog this week--- Thursday night, I have a craft tutorial post to share! A TUTORIAL!!!!! It's been.... like.... YEARS, I think, since I've done that! I've shared finished crafts here and there.... but not with step by step process photos. But I have them for this post coming up. It's..... a miracle. 

The end. It's past my bedtime. 

Love you, loyal readers. Don't know why you stick with me, flaky as I have become... but I'm grateful for you. 

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