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Monday, July 31, 2017

August 2017 Instagram Challenge

Even though I am now retired, I sometimes can't believe how fast summer flies by! Tomorrow will be the first day of August and around here, school will be beginning very soon. It's time to have a little bit of last-minute, summertime fun!

This month's Instagram challenge is definitely different from my usual prompts. You may not realize it, but there are wild and wacky holidays celebrated virtually every single day somewhere in the world. I thought it would be fun to base our photo ops this month on some that are specific to August. Now, remember, just because the holiday is called "Race Your Mouse Day", it doesn't mean that you have to actually race a mouse---just use the prompt to inspire your creativity and interpret it any way you want.

Have fun and be sure to use the hashtag #MTWackyHolidaysAugust2017.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And Now He's Three

Baby D is no longer a baby for sure. And really, he is not longer a toddler either in many ways. We celebrated his birthday this weekend and had such a good time. The boys came over to our house for a couple of hours prior to the party so that Callie could get things together at their house. I tried to talk them into a few birthday pictures, but I was the only person on board for that idea.
Jordan grilled burgers and hot dogs (one of his new favorite foods) for dinner.
After dinner, it was time for presents.
Toddler D seems to have a new confidence about him in many ways. As he reached for each gift, he asked who it was from and then thanked each person before he'd even opened it.
He was thrilled with everything!
As was his little brother!
One of the sweetest moments of the night came right after presents were opened. He suddenly realized that it was time for cake and he got so excited that he broke out into spontaneous song and dance!!

He had given precise details for what he wanted this cake to look like and his mama did a great job making that dream come to reality.
"A heart-shaped chocolate cake with all the planets on it and candles in Mercury, Venus and Earth!"
And he got to eat Jupiter, his favorite planet of all!
I must say that it was quite yummy!
I was able to get a few pictures outside.

Then, there was time to relax and watch the boys play. Did I mention how much he loved his new binoculars?!
And now he's three!
We sure do love you a bunch!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Felt Campfire Set

We have a family birthday to celebrate very soon and I have been busily working on some homemade goodness to celebrate the birthday boy. Even though I've been a bit under the weather lately, I've had time to do some sewing and now have everything ready for this special 3-year-old.

Using felt, I constructed a toy campfire, complete with logs, flames and marshmallows to roast. I didn't take a lot of photos during the process, but I am working on a pattern and complete tutorial.  In the meantime, I will give you a brief description of how I did the logs and flames.

Log Supplies:
Dark Brown Felt (1 piece per log)
Tan Felt (1 piece is enough for 4-5 logs)
Tan Embroidery Thread
Sewing Thread & Needle
Fiberfill Stuffing

Log Directions:
1. Fold the brown felt in half lengthwise and trim off about 1 to 1-1/2" from the open edge, allowing for a small "branch".
2. Cut out circles for the ends of the logs from the tan felt (2 per log). My circles were about 3 to 3-1/2" in diameter.
3. Using the Tan Embroidery Thread, I used a running stitch to create wood-like motifs on the flat piece of dark brown felt.  I didn't draw these out beforehand, I just made it up as I went, trying to keep the grain somewhat straight and making a couple of swirls for knots in the tree.
4. Make circles of running stitches on the tan felt circles.
5. With the felt folded in half lengthwise, sew that seam on the sewing machine, going around the branch.
6. While the log is still inside out, sew a tan circle to one end of the log. (This is not an exact thing--sometimes my circles fit better than other times, but they all ended up looking just fine.  Just go slowly and turn as you go.
7. Turn right side out and use a knitting needle or other stick to turn the corners of the branch.
8. Stuff with fiberfill. I used the knitting needle to be sure the fiberfill got into the small branch area.
9. Stitch the other end closed with a tan circle.  I put right sides together and stitched halfway around the circle before turning it and hand-stitching it closed.
Now, every campfire needs some fire, right?!?  These flames were super easy!

Flame Supplies:
Red Felt (1 piece per flame part)
Orange felt (1 piece per flame part)
Yellow felt (1 piece per flame part)
Matching Embroidery Thread
Sewing Thread and Needle

Flame Directions:
1. Fold the red felt in half and cut out a flame shape. (You will have 2 pieces now)
2. Layer the orange felt on top and repeat the process,  cutting these pieces about an inch smaller all around. (you will have 2 orange pieces)
3. Lastly, do the same with the yellow pieces. I just free-hand cut these and didn't worry if they didn't fit exactly.
4. Use the embroidery thread to stitch the orange and yellow flames in place over the red piece.  Remember that this is a flame, so it should be irregular.
5. Repeat with the other side (be sure that you are doing it on the correct side of the flame)
6. With right side together, stitch around the outside of the flame, leaving the bottom free for stuffing.
7. Turn right sides out, using a knitting needle or other stick to get into the points.
8. Stuff with fiberfill.
9. Stitch the bottom closed.
Given our birthday boy's fondness for s'mores, I stitched up some felt marshmallows and even a couple of hot dogs that would fit on the ends of "roasting sticks".  The process for these was a bit complicated to describe, so you'll have to wait until I can take more pictures and develop a step-by-step guide. (The hot dogs are a little bit wonky, but I think they will still be fun!)
Using an embroidery design that I purchased from NNKidsEmbroidery, I stitched some crackers, chocolate and melted marshmallows so that the pretend play can be complete. The design was quick and easy and stitched up really nicely.
Using some leftover canvas I had on hand, I made a simple drawstring backpack to carry all the pieces and we are including a pair of real binoculars and  this amazing lantern. Not only does it serve as a real lantern, but it also displays stars on the ceiling.  How fun is that!
Now, let the pretending begin!
Monday, July 17, 2017

Cousin Fun, Louisiana Style

Summers have always been fun, but with little ones around, the fun times are multiplied for sure. Jana and Silas came to Louisiana  recently and were able to stay for two weeks!!! I got so spoiled having them around--the house is sure quiet now.
I know you won't believe it, but Jana and I had absolutely NO big projects planned for this trip! It's probably the first time ever, but don't worry, we managed to fill our days with all sorts of mini adventures. I rarely pulled out my "big girl camera" for these adventures, but I almost always had my phone with me, so I snapped away.  And video'ed as well.
As you can imagine, having a two 2-year-olds and a 1-year-old around keeps life pretty busy. There were lots of trains and cars and toddling and books going on around here.
In the mornings, Jana was able to work from our house while I helped entertain Silas. We walked to the library for story time a couple of days. While he loved going, he became quite shy and chose to stay in the stroller during the activities.
We also made another trip out to the Sunflower Field for a few pictures. It was hot and Silas wasn't a huge fan, but we found the best field ever, with a maze cut through the tall stems. 
I went back to check on the nest we'd found a couple weeks before. Because the nest is rather deep within the stems, I just held my phone out and took a "blind" picture. Imagine my surprise to find two tiny baby birds fresh out of their shells!! 
No wonder their mama was squawking at me from a nearby plant.Don't worry, mama bird, I won't bother them anymore!
In the afternoons, when Callie's boys were home from school, we did things together.  We went out to visit Mimi one afternoon. She is now 92 years old and while she cannot hear a thing, she definitely enjoyed watching the boys play. 
Our visit to POP, the children's museum within our science museum, was lots of fun. Each of the boys found their favorite things to explore.
Water . . .
Emergency Professions . . .
And Culinary Arts.
One of my favorite activities was visiting the grounds of Norton Art Gallery. It really is such a beautiful place and we had a fun picnic before looking for the chickens that are sometimes free to roam the grounds.
We took lots of walks and one day even took cookies to the neighborhood firefighters.
We took a trip down to Alexandria to visit Uncle Dan and take him to lunch. Everyone was pretty cranky on that trip, so you wouldn't believe how many tries it took to get this shot.  (We later learned that 2/3 boys was sick, so there is that)
On Saturday, we headed out to the Gators and Friends Zoo.  It was so much fun to see the boys with the animals. They were so excited and ran from fence to fence.
Some were brave enough to feed the animals
. . . while Silas was brave enough to ride a pony!
All of them loved watching the alligators being fed!
Michael and Adellelyn came in with their parents for the Fourth of July, so the crazy got even crazier. But, the kids had a blast! 
One night, we set up blankets and pillows in the living room and let the little ones take longer afternoon naps than usual, in anticipation of our "cousin movie night".  
 Armed with popcorn and hands to hold for the "scary parts", they watched (sort of) a movie while the adults played board games.
On July 4th, we headed to the Firecracker 5K for our annual tradition. Ron and I met at this race 5 years ago, so we loved having most of our families together for it this year.
This year, the kids participated in the 1/2 Mile Fun Run for the first time. It was fun to watch and cheer them on!!
As you can tell from this video, Silas was not really sure what all the hype was about (yep, those other runners are finishing the race as he begins it).
After that snippet, this is how he ran rest of the race! A half mile is a really long way when your legs are so short!!
After that, we all did the 5K--the guys ran it and the rest of us strolled it!
That evening, once all the little ones were in bed, Chad led the bigger kids in some fireworks in the street.  
There was a lot of this . . . 
 Which usually turned into something more like this . . .
 Sweet, older cousins helped younger cousins.
 . . . and PaPaw became the favorite toy of them all!

 There was yummy food
 . . . and a whole lot of bouncing.
We even had some picking and grinning!

It was a wild and crazy two weeks, and I ended up with enough germs to put me under for a while, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. The house is so much quieter now, but I will the pictures and the memories for a lifetime!


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