Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Park Play

I recently got a new lens for my Canon so I thought I’d play around with it at the park yesterday.  Tyler and Caroline love riding their trikes around the back deck, but since it’s not quite the size of a tennis court, I decided to load them up and for an afternoon of wide open spaces.  Connor always comes to the park with us, so he was more than happy to jog the court while the kids did their thing. 

I loved, loved, loved having the ability to sit at one end of the enclosure and not move. Telephoto lenses (mine is up to 250mm) are awesome.

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The hilarious facial expressions above are the result of a rather aggressive toddler we met running around the same court.  He decided he’d take the trikes for a spin first off, so Tyler and Caroline just stood side by side and watched him silently.  Connor found a ball and was generally un-phased by the newcomer.

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Eventually the wild child went home for supper and my bashful ones went forth.

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When Caroline found some “sticky balls” she got really excited.

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They obviously belonged in “Tyler’s trunk.”

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The funny thing about this game is that I remember being about five years old and riding Big Wheels around my friend Amy’s driveway with her and her younger brother Matthew.  We thought it was the most fun EVER to drive around and pick up every red berry we could find, sticking them into the holes in our seat (the seat back was adjustable and the unused holes were just asking for deposits).  The most berries in your Big Wheel merited something great, I’m sure.  Amy, if you’re reading this, remember that? :)

While I was looking through my camera and playing around with raw images, (or looking for birds, planes, and generally not paying attention to my kids for two seconds)… this happened:

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As you can tell, Tyler isn’t so great at lip gloss application.  On the contrary, Caroline is a master… I bet you can’t even tell she’s wearing any.  Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.

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We played around the courts until it was dark enough that the street lights came on.  Columbia is okay and all, but I’m not brave enough to play after dark anywhere these days.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Sew Mama Sew

Do any of you lug your DSLR camera around in a breast pump bag (guilty), wrap it in a t-shirt in your purse, or come up with creative ways of carrying it around sans “camera bag”?

I got tired of all that, so I googled my way around some tutorials and came up with this:

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This is my trusty Skip Hop bag that I’ve had for three years, so I figured I’d use it as a guinea pig first.  As a novice sewer (to say the least), this project looked a bit daunting.  I completed it during one nap time, so it turned out to be easier than it looked.  As much as I love it, though, I’m itching to buy a cuter, smaller bag that will be less diaper bag and more trendy-bag-that-holds-mom-stuff.  Now that I’m comfortable making these foam inserts, I can’t wait to go on the hunt for a new spring/summer bag.  I may even be excited about finding an awesome fabric that will coordinate with it, but I won’t admit that for sounding super annoying.  :)

The basics of this bag are:

- three-way foam insert (1” foam found at craft stores)

- three foam inserts with velcro sewn on to each side flap

It uses:

- two yards fabric (as you can tell, my camera strap cover is made from that same cut)

- 30 ft velcro roll (Next time I will do this part a little differently.  Above, I cut small sections of velcro and sewed them in where I wanted the inserts to be, but for my next bag I’ll sew long strips across the inside of the insert so that I can move the inserts around more freely).

The reason I decided to tackle this project are simple:  I am CHEAP.  DSLR “purses” are upwards of $125, and I simply don’t have time for that.  If I’m going to spend more than $100 on a bag, it had better have C’s or LV’s printed on it.

Here is the awesome tutorial that I used in case any of you want to make your own!  Otherwise, I’m considering starting a business – haha!  What I learned from my research of these bags is that they’re hard to find, and what’s great about this project is that it’s fully customizable to any bag you have.  All I need are the dimensions of the inside of the bag and I can easily make a DSLR insert for it, not to mention that the inserts provide an easy way to organize your wallet/keys/sippy cups/etc.  If you’re going to do this project yourself, though, I’d look for a bag that has more than a big gaping hole inside (if you’re not working with a diaper bag).  The foam does take up a good bit of room, so the other pockets on the inside/outside of the bag are really helpful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Digging for Gold (or perhaps Buttons).

Not only does this picture say “GO HEELS!,” but it also says “I’m smiling for you mommy, although I really don’t want to, because I have a BUTTON UP MY NOSE.”

True story.

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I realized about two weeks ago that my pre-purchased deal at Picture People was about to expire.  Knowing that I don’t have the energy on most days to dress Caroline and/or Tyler up in a cutesy outfit and sit props all around them, I decided to wait on Nathan to have a day off and make an appointment.  We have the most precious cheerleader/football/basketball uniforms for them (read:  Caroline has three cheer suits, Tyler has two football and one basketball), but due to the fact that two year olds more often than not tell YOU what they will and won’t be wearing, it’s a battle I haven’t felt up to yet. 

So, with an 11:30am appointment, we began getting ready to go about two hours earlier.  It seriously takes that long.

After cooking “bacon and waffles and eggs and smoothies” (direction I take from the two of them, obviously), I ushered them upstairs to rouse Nathan.  I got their outfits on, fixed pony tails, spritzed bed-head away, found socks, found shoes, packed brushes, extra clothes and everything else in between.  Once they were together enough, I made a mad dash for my closet to throw on some clothes while they were seemingly playing with unimportant paraphernalia around my bedroom.  ::Insert evil laughter here::  Since when is anything safe for curious toddlers, right?

Caroline has never been a child to stick anything up her nose, EVER.  She may go up there with a finger every now and then, but I’ve never even seen her come close to shoving something up it.  Which explains why I never considered that to be the problem as she cried and whined on the way to the mall… saying “It huuuuurts Mommy!  Nose huuuuurts!!”  I looked over my shoulder to make sure all was well, and well it seemed. 

“Caroline, quit picking your nose!  It won’t hurt if you’d leave it alone!” I repeated, over and over.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at Picture People, Tyler enjoying the UNC basketballs we’d brought as props and running loose through the mall with them.  By this time, Caroline had totally forgotten about her nose and made a bee-line for the “rides” they have strategically placed in front of the children’s picture studio.  She pranced around in her cheerleading skirt, skipping from bulldozers to buses to trains, begging Nathan to “ride Daddy!  RIDE!!”

Finally our name was called and we made our way back with the photographer, and once again, Caroline told me that her nose hurt.  I laid her across my lap and nonchalantly glanced up there, even feeling around a little bit to see if she really had a bothersome, ahem, booger.  (Funny how words like that are just everyday speak these days).

I told her that her nose was fine and she needed to smile pretty, trying to bribe her in between with promises of getting candy from the machines outside Picture People (also strategically placed, real nice) when she was done.  If you’re wondering why this story doesn’t include Tyler, he was having NONE of it and absolutely refused to participate AT ALL.  He played basketball with Nathan the entire time instead, and we concentrated on Caroline since she was at least willing to stay in once place.  I say that loosely, though, because her sitting still involved actually sitting on top of me.  If you look at the picture above, those are my jean-clad legs she’s perched on top of.  The sweet photographer was doing her absolute best to get them to cooperate, but in reality, I think she just scared them to death.  She was obviously resorting to every “make this kid smile” trick she had in her pocket, but my two just looked at her like she had fourteen heads and gave her the stank-eye.  The smile on Caroline’s face above only occurred when I played the tickle game with her, and even then, she wouldn’t even give me all she had.  My kids are stubborn as mules sometimes… which they totally get from their daddy… :)

After half an hour of this business, I finally just told the photographer we could wrap it up and hopefully there was one picture I would like enough to use my deal on.  It was for just one pose anyway, so as much as she hated it, I was ok with walking out of there with my few sheets of one-pose-prints.  Too bad it only had one child in it, but those are the breaks.

We had promised candy and Chick-fil-A and a whole host of things while we were desperately trying for good pictures, so when we finished up I decided to change Caroline out of her cheerleading outfit and into something more suitable for the food court.  As we’re sliding her shirt on, she points again to her nose and tells me it hurts.  I popped her back into my lap and, with no one around to see, stuck my little finger in her tiny nostril and searched around.  I almost fell over when I struck something so ROCK HARD and BIG… it took me back for a second.  I tried not to freak out, but I was sort of freaking out.  WHAT COULD IT BE?  I finagled and coerced the object lower and lower, then finally got it low enough to tilt her head back and slide it out.  What came out both shocked me and made me laugh so hard I could barely breath.  A BUTTON?  WHAT THE ???

Apparently, in my frenzy of getting ready and turning my back for 3.5 seconds, Caroline found my travel sewing kit and dug around and found herself a button.  It was my fault for having it within her reach, but my mom had been here last weekend and we’d used it without putting it back where it normally resides.  Either way, THANK GOD it didn’t make its way up to her sinuses (which is the first thing my husband says, as he’s seen this in the ER more than once) and we were able to reach it easily.  Just a tip for you all, though, if this ever happens to you and you can’t reach the “object” in your kid’s nose:  cover up the unclogged nostril and give the child mouth to mouth to shoot it out.  According to Nathan, this will work!

In the end, I now have a great reminder of the time Caroline sucked it up and dealt with a button in her nose just so I could redeem my Picture People Groupon.  That’s making memories, folks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 Monkeys

Normally I talk about my two children, but then there are days like today when two become three.  Gotta love a fun daddy!

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Monkey Joe’s is a good time, if you didn’t already know.

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Half price day makes it even better.  :)

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And then when there are bulldozers & buses to drive, well, we’re happy as clams.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

What would we do without the zoo?

In case you haven’t recognized the fact that we Sims love the zoo, here’s yet one more post to remind you.

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A week or so ago, we took advantage of a cool, cloudy day and took off to Riverbanks.  That is a “safe place” for us – one where Tyler and Caroline always have a great time, can run/walk freely, and we can spend a few hours out of the house.  Not to mention that the animals are on their best and funniest behaviors mid-day. 

For instance, the penguins put on a great show-

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And one of the “exotic” birds faced T & C in a staring contest.

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(I love that you can see how intent Caroline was by her reflection in the glass!)

We caught the baboons giving foot rubs…

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The lions playing it casual…

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The zebra showing his stripes…

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And the monkeys lounging about, deep in thought.

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As we walked around I desperately tried not to take a million pictures, but when your kids are this excited about everything they do, it’s hard not to want a digital memory. 

This was Caroline’s reaction to the monkey sitting oh-so-close to us and making faces at her-

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and Tyler, for once, even hammed it up for the mamarazzi.

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As we made our way to the farm animals, both kids got really excited to see the llama.  I don’t know what it is about him but they think he’s pretty awesome, and after watching him eat hay less that a foot from my face, I’m a big fan, too.  If only I could’ve gotten the perfect shot of his hilarious under-bite and ginormous teeth… those were the highlight of my day I think.

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(I’m pretty sure this look means “get out of my face you crazy lady or I’m gonna bite you.”)

Not to be outdone, the ostrich (another T & C favorite animal, maybe it’s the Big Bird connection?) put on a good show as well.  In return for tossing him lunch (pine needles), he graciously offered this stunning head shot.

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Caroline and Tyler weren’t sure how they felt about this guy up close and personal, after all.

Time to feed the giraffes!

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The gorillas wrapped up our visit, napping (the gall!) rather than being social.  Caroline couldn’t understand why he was just sitting there.

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In case you weren’t privy to the actual size of a gorilla, their behind is bigger than the broad side of a barn.  We should know, since it was pressed ever so gently against the glass for us to see quite plainly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pinspired.

Hi, my name is Mandy and I am a Pinterestaholic. 

BUT!! The good thing about being a Pinterestoholic is that you aspire to be an even better version of yourself.  I’ve always thought bloggers (particularly mommy ones) make my life a little harder, particularly because it makes me compare myself to others in every department of life, but then along comes Pinterest and it made me feel less of “wow, I suck,” and more of “wow, I can do that!”

So after deciding that my family would be much better off if only I could sew, I marched off to the store and came home with a Singer machine.  It sat on my newly arranged “craft table” for at least two months, then after being called out by Nathan (on the fact that all I’d sewn was one measly blanket for the kids), I decided that I would become a sewing vixen.  So far, I am pretty proud of myself (and it’s only been a week since I learned what a bobbin was and how to thread a needle).

First came the dishtowel “rig-up” for the stove-

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I felt so good about that one that I became hooked, and quickly jetted off to Hobby Lobby in search of more fabric to make something out of.  I remembered that our ironing board was quite a sad scene, so I made this-

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As you can see, Connor just loves it.

At this point I was feeling really great about my Martha Stewartness, so I moved on to a new camera strap cover.  Natalie made one for me back when I first got my camera, but since I had a few scraps from the ironing board cover I figured why not? 

Forgive my pictures, I had to use my iPhone and it was midnight-

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After patting myself on the back for such a successful day, I decided Caroline needed a new pair of pajama pants.  I shockingly don’t have a picture of them, though… since the final product is pretty funny.  They turned out just fine and she loves them dearly, bless her heart, but they look like rainbow clown pants due to the fact that I didn’t buy a great looking fabric in case I royally effed them up.  Just trust the fact that I made pants!  Yay me!

Moving on to non-sewable crafts, I have gotten the wreath-making bug as well.  It all started with the mesh wreath I fell in love with at the Southern Christmas Show, but as awesome as it was, I did not fall in love with it’s price tag.  I set out to recreate it myself, and after a little Pinterest research, I found a great tutorial and got started.  Here is my final product, and I absolutely LOVE it.  It hung above our fireplace until almost New Year’s Day-

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Then I found and pinned some burlap wreaths.  How did I not know about these this fall?  Shameful.  Regardless, I figured they were not totally seasonal and changing out the bow could make them fit anytime, anywhere.  So I made one of those, too-

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I put those glittery poinsettias on first and didn’t like them, so I ended up leaving the red bow.  Although Nathan found it “too much like a potato sack,” I loved it and so did my mom.  So much so that she asked me to make her two of them for her birthday, which was yesterday.  Aiming to please, I set back off to Hobby Lobby and bought many, many yards of green-hued burlap to match her house, along with coordinating ribbon, wooden letters, and flowers.  I wasn’t sure what would look best, and I figured it was best to have more than enough.

My first attempt at her wreaths went pretty wrong.  I thought about going a different route since the “bubble Burlap” wreaths had been pinned all over the place, so I thought that one may look better than my original version.  I worked furiously on the first wreath, and after four hours (and many pin-pricked fingers later), this was my result-

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Not bad, but not in love.

So back I went to Hobby Lobby for more materials (each of those bubbles actually took lots of fabric, and since I’m frugal, I’m using it on my door now even though I kind of hate it.)  My second go-round was a TON better, and they look great on my mom’s front doors-

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Lastly, I decided to do some real arts & craftsies and get into the Mod Podge generation.  If you can't already tell, I'm super in love with the two pictures that now grace the top of this blog.  They were on our Christmas card, and now they're also on canvas, on our mantel-

As you can see, I am eaten up with a Pinterest obsession, but don’t you think it’s at least productive?  If you don’t already follow me, you should!  :-)