Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Halloween 2015

My kids are big fans of Clash of Clans.  It's an app/game for phones, tablets, etc.  It's another one of those Finnish creations (like Angry Birds), and it makes me happy that my kids like it.  So this year they decided that that's what they wanted to be for Halloween.  They actually decided this way back at the beginning of the year.  I wasn't sure they'd stick with that idea, but they did.  Originally Evan and I were going to have costumes, too, but between the pregnancy and Evan's prep for his conference, costumes for us were just something that we didn't need to deal with along with everything else.  

Spencer decided he wanted to be a wizard, and Mea wanted to be an archer.  Even though Clash of Clans is over 2 years old, and is still increasing in popularity, not everyone knows about it yet, and there are no costumes to purchase or patterns to make them.  So I closed my Etsy shop at the beginning of October in preparation for my baby to be born, and spent the month of October designing and making these kids their costumes (and working on other projects for baby).  
Spencer's wizard robe was made by modifying the pattern block for an overcoat/jacket from this book.  I made it short-sleeved, drafted my own hood, added the detailing on the sleeve seam (it's hard to see in this picture), and added the white trim.  Using the t-shirt block from the same book, I made him the brown t-shirt underneath the robe (it was easier to just buy knit fabric and make it than to search stores for a plain brown t-shirt).  The belt was made with some leftover vinyl from a previous project and purchasing the belt buckle at Joann's.  I made the fireball using a styrofoam ball and felt pieces cut to look like flames.  And I cut out his goatee from felt and just used duct tape to attach it to his face (ghetto, I know, but better than using spirit gum or some other crazy adhesive).  His pants were some he already had.  I tried to get him to wear his winter boots to finish off the look, but he wouldn't go for that.  
I think I did pretty well!  The color is slightly different because Spencer wanted to be a level 5 wizard, which has more of a navy blue robe instead of the light blue pictured.  

Mea's costume was designed to look like this:

I modified the Simplicity 1435 pattern top into a t-shirt dress and added long sleeves (to accommodate our cold Halloween's).  The cape is the older version of Simplicity 1583.  And I used a purchased belt but made the satchel (no pattern; I just winged it as I sewed it).  I used some old boot covers of Evan's to cover her snow boots to finish off the look, but she didn't want to wear them.  The wig was purchased, and the bow was one we've had hanging around the house forever.  

Spencer's friend, J, decided he wanted to join in on the fun and made his own hog rider costume:
 Davin was supposed to be a wall breaker:
But I really didn't want to go through the hassle of making him a costume when Carter's sold these skeleton pj's for $10.  And I knew that he wouldn't wear a hat (even though I made him one), so to everyone he just looked like a skeleton:
 We celebrated Halloween at the church's trunk or treat, and then headed out on Halloween (despite the rainy weather).  The kids got quite a bit of loot and were kind enough to share it with us.

 My parents flew in on the 29th and were able to participate in both activities, and Erik showed up for Halloween:
 Some of Mea's loot:
Evan, though, flew out to Philadelphia for his conference on Halloween morning, so he wasn't there for the fun.  Thank goodness I had my parents and Erik around to help make it fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Little Lady is 8

Wow.  I can't believe she's 8!  How did I get such big kids??

 Birthdays are a huge deal for this girl.  She plans them months and months ahead of time.  It's to the point where I tell her she can't talk to me about her birthday until a month before it happens.  This year she kept flip-flopping on what she wanted to do, and I kept telling her we couldn't have a big party (9 months pregnant and big parties don't go hand in hand!).  We initially told her she could invite 3 friends and we'd go do an activity somewhere, then come home for pizza and ice cream.  But then I'd overhear her with her friends saying something like "should I invite ______ to my party?", usually in front of someone I didn't think she was planning on asking to the party.  One friend's mom even sent me a text a few minutes after picking up her daughter from a play date and said, "thanks for the birthday party invite.  _________ will be there!"  So I had to turn to Mea and ask what was going on.  Apparently she was making her own invitations and had handed them out to a few friends.  I asked her what they said, and she told me it had the date (her birthday--which fortunately was on a Friday), time (right after school), and then the message, "don't forget to bring me a present."  Oh, I was so embarrassed when I found out!

So we finally decided that with all the friends that she'd talked about her party to, we had to make it a bigger party and just have it at home.  And invite all those she'd "invited".  Exactly the type of party I was hoping to avoid.  It turned out okay, though.  A few girls couldn't make it. the movie that was picked, Disney's "Descendants" was a movie that most of them hadn't seen yet, so they were actually interested in watching the whole thing (unlike last year's Rio 2).  We made it only a 3 hour party (with an almost 2 hour movie).  Halfway through we took a break and Mea opened her gifts:
 And had ice cream sandwich cake:

Then resumed the movie.  And it all turned out to be perfect timing!  So in the end it was a great party.  But with so much anxiety and drama leading up to it.  Silly girl!

And I'm really glad that her birthday wish didn't come true--baby girl was NOT born on her birthday.  :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Picking

A few weeks back, Erik came up for a visit.  He really wanted to go visit an apple orchard just over the border in Wisconsin, about an hour away.  So we tagged along with him; our first trip to a farm since leaving New Jersey. 
We found when we got there that pumpkins were available (and that apples were too expensive to bother).  So we let each of the kids pick their pumpkin.  Spencer and Mea both sought out the biggest ones they could find:

 Davin just had a blast trying to pick all of them up and bring them to the car:

 And then I tried to take a picture of the 3 of them together:

 Too bad the grass is cutting across Davin's face or I'd consider this one perfect:
 Erik picked out a few for himself:

 Spencer, smiling???   What??!!!!
 Mea kept asking me to take pictures of her:

 And then the REAL reason we wanted to go to the farm--apple cider donuts!
 We had to wait an entire hour to get these (totally worth it!!):
And then we splurged and spent a whopping $7 on a gallon of freshly pressed apple cider (that we were able to watch being made):
It was a fun, much-needed family outing.  Thanks to Erik for his planning and motivation!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Day of School

5th and 2nd Graders:

Please stop growing up!

August 2015, Part 3--Time with Mummi and Pappa

The first morning with my parents is always a Finnish pancake day:
 While Erik was still around for the day after the wedding, we went up American Fork canyon for a barbeque.  Davin spent the entire time throwing rocks into the creek.  And that was the beginning of his obsession with finding "Daddy rocks" to throw.
 Mea was not happy--she's still freaked out from her 5 wasps stings 3 or 4 summers ago in Finland, so whenever she sees a wasp, she becomes irrational.  Spencer can be as well.  So it took a lot of convincing to get them to do anything.
 Erik left later that day, and then Evan left the day after Erik to get back to his research. And the rest of us spent the day packing and shopping for our upcoming camping trip.

We ended up deciding to camp in two different locations, for 2 nights at each place.  We're kind of nomadic campers, and the idea of spending more than a few days at a campsite doesn't really appeal to us.

We started out at a campsite just past Mirror Lake in the high Uintas.  We've camped at most of the places before Mirror Lake in the past, and my parents were worried about me camping at 10,000 feet elevation while 7.5 months pregnant, so we decided to try out a new-to-us campground past Mirror Lake.  Turns out they aren't so great.   But one of the last ones before exiting the national forest turned out to be a good one.  A lot of the campsites were too open (meaning no trees or underbrush), which we usually don't prefer, but we found one right along the river that had a cluster of trees for our tents, with just enough open space for the kids to play around in.  The kids spent the majority of the time playing near the river throwing "Daddy rocks" in.

 Spencer decided he wanted to show us the skills he learned at summer camp this summer.  So he chopped the wood and started the fire:

Our only full day at this campsite was spent hiking. We found a hike that wasn't too long for the kids (just a few miles round trip) called Ruth Lake.  Davin ended up hiking almost the entire thing, so it took us longer than expected.  But here we are at the lake:
 Did I mention that Sonja and Jokke joined us??  We're so glad they did!
We ended up hiking around the lake, too.  The kids saw this huge, flat rock and decided it'd be cool to have a picture of them on top of it:
 Mea really liked the lily pads and wanted a picture of them, too:
After that hike, we drove up to Mirror Lake for a late picnic lunch and then walked around Mirror Lake (another couple of miles).  So we were all pretty worn out by the end of the day.

The next morning we packed up and moved on.  Next location: somewhere near Bear Lake.  Spencer really wanted to go boating with the inflatable raft that my parents have.  But Mirror Lake was too cold.  Bear Lake is much warmer, but camping at Bear Lake would've been too hot.  Luckily Sonja and Jokke knew about a canyon close to Bear Lake that had some good camping, so that's where we headed.  Unfortunately, it was approaching a weekend, so a lot of the sites were taken.  We were really hoping for a site next to a creek again, but the only site available next to the creek was really sunny and had a lot of bugs (including wasps--so Mea was having fits again).  Then we found this gem:

It was perfect.  Lots of trees, but with enough space for the kids to run around.  And nowhere near as many bugs.

Further up the canyon was the Minnetonka Cave.  My kids have never been in a cave, so I thought it would be a good experience for them.
 We left Davin back at the campsite with Mummi and Pappa, and Sonja and Jokke accompanied the kids and I.  The cave had 888 stairs.  I think if my parents had known it had that many steps, they wouldn't have let me go.  They were being quite protective of my pregnant self.  But it was no problem for me.

I'm not a great photographer, so the pictures of the cave aren't good:

 After some lunch back at camp, we headed down to Bear Lake for some swimming and boating.  It was quite windy, and the air quality was really bad because of all the fires further west.  But we all had fun.  Spencer got to do his boating and the rest of us got to rinse off some of the 4 days of camping grime:

 The nest morning we packed everything up and headed home.  On our way out, though, we stopped and had some Bear Lake raspberry shakes:
A few days after that, we said our goodbyes and headed back home to Chicago.  It was a great trip with lots of events and memories, but it was great to come home at the end of it.

Thanks, Mummi and Pappa, Sonja and Jokke, for the great camping experience!