Our Family Unit
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  • January21st


    Happy New Year everyone!  I realize I’m a little late to the party, but things have been busy around here…planning for this new year and looking back to figure out what worked and what didn’t in 2013.

    One of the things I’ve been looking at in that process is holiday traditions.  As a family with young kids, we’re just in the early stages of building out the traditions we want to celebrate year after year.  It seems like we often go through a lot of trial and error to get there, cleaning up after more than one flop that looked like it would be so easy on Pinterest.  But I think we’re making headway…
    easter2013-2One thing the kids love is Easter Baskets.  I enjoy putting them together (plus it gives me an excuse to go to Target without the kids in tow) and they love getting them.  Other Easter traditions, like Egg Hunts, I’ve realized don’t have to depend on me.  It seems there’s always at least one group of friends doing one that we can join, and it’s less stress for me.

    I grew up celebrating Independence Day with a hometown parade and Kyle’s family never missed fireworks.  So we try to hit up both on the 4th of July.

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    Birthdays…this is one that seems to be ever-evolving.  We don’t do birthday parties every year for every kid, but we still want to make the day special for them.  So we’ve started decorating their bedroom door with birthday streamers and giving them a grand entrance to the day.

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    Another thing we like to do for birthdays is an elaborate (as I can manage to make it) cake.  They get to pick the subject/theme for their birthday cake and then I do my best to surprise them with it that night.  Lucky for me, at 5 and under they are all still easily impressed.  ;)


    Chocolate Monster Truck Cake


    6 Layer Neapolitan Cat Cake


    3 Tier Cat in the Hat Cake













    I love fall, and the week of Jessie and Buzz’s birthdays seems to kick off a 2 month holiday at our house.  So far, we’ve never missed Pumpkin Carving with Dad, although cleaning the seeds isn’t really anyone’s favorite part.

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    traditions oct-2Even if our block didn’t have a Halloween Parade, I think the kids would still dress up for Halloween.  They love that dress up box so much; we’re in costumes 5 days a week as it is.  Doing it with all our friends and neighbors on the same day just makes it that much more awesome!

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    This year, in anticipation of Christmas, we took the kids to see the Christmas Lights.  It was a lot of fun and I think I’d like to continue the tradition, however we might modify it a bit for next year.  A friend of mine told me that they had their kids go through the normal bedtime routine, then when the kids went up to bed they found “tickets” on their pillow.  When they came back downstairs, the car was running and hot chocolate was ready and they drove around to look at lights.  I think that might be the way to do it next time!

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    We love decorating Christmas cookies each year, but this time around we also did Gingerbread Houses while we were at the grandparents’ house in Colorado.  I liked it because not only do I want to be thinking about what traditions the kids do with Kyle and I, but also to develop a few that are done with the grandmas and grandpas, too.  The Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Kits made it super easy, too easy to pass up.  This’ll be a keeper.

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    Sometimes this stage of life makes traditions difficult.  My kids aren’t quite ready to stay up and ring in the new year, sometimes they’re asleep before the fireworks start, they don’t always  help clean up the mess or smile for the picture.  But that’s not really my goal with our family traditions (although it sure is nice when it works out).  My goal is to be intentional about creating some family time.  The tradition is more of an excuse to do something fun and a reminder to enjoy the little things.  If things never went wrong in the middle of it, think how boring our family memories would be 20 years from now.

    I’d like to incorporate more this year…something for Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day or Thanksgiving.  Maybe swap out mediocre ones with something better or come up with a few that we can do with our friends and cousins.  Maybe something not holiday related.  I’d love to start date nights with the kids or Family Adventure Days where we all go see or do something local once a month.  What is the one tradition your family wouldn’t dream of skipping, no matter how hectic life gets? Tell me what your kids love…

  • September23rd

    Not to put any pressure on, but only 6 more weeks until Halloween!  I don’t think Kyle and I planned as well as we could have…somehow we ended up with two birthdays and Halloween all in the same week!  That makes for one VERY exciting week around here, and one very busy mom.  :)  I’m trying to be better prepared this year though, and at least have the costumes figured out early.  Woody and Jessie have a plethora of costumes, thanks to the Dress Up Box, but we’re a little light on baby costumes around here.  Do you have any idea how expensive baby costumes are?  Even used ones are $20!  For 2 hours of fun on one night a year that he won’t even remember…

    I started looking around for an alternative and saw this cute idea for a DIY Sock Monkey costume here and decided to try  it.  She was a little more “professional” with hers, actually using a pattern for PJs.  This is my “down-and-dirty-done-in-an-afternoon” version.  You have to take into consideration that I am a s-l-o-w seamstress, not to mention, a little person interrupts approximately every 3 1/2 minutes.  A normal person could do this in less than an hour, I’m sure.

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    I started with three men’s sweaters from the thrift store, total cost $10.  I purposely chose the gray sweater to have a zipper, which then eliminated the need for me to sew one in down the road.

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    I laid out a current pair of PJs right on top of the gray sweater, and just cut around it, leaving everything from the neck to the arm cuff in tact.

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    I was left with this.  I just flipped it inside-out and sewed three seams.  From each arm cuff in and then down each leg, and then a u-shaped seem between the legs.  The giant man-sized zipper in front made the perfect closure, so like I said before, I didn’t have to put one in.

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    Next I took the white sweater and cut two strips from each arm.  These would turn into the hands and feet, but were way too wide left as is.

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    I just made a quick seem down the middle to narrow each one.

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    Then pinned each one to the sleeves and legs and attached.  Nothing pretty here, it’s for two hours of fun on one night of the year that he won’t remember.  :)

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    After they were attached, I shaped the excess and sewed it closed.  Bodysuit done!

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    For the hat, I didn’t want to bother with finishing edges, so I just used the hem of the shirt to be the hem for the hat.  I cut the two pieces directly from the bottom of the shirt.  This is all freehand, no need for patterns.  It’s for two hours of fun on one night of the year that he won’t even remember.

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    For the ears, I sketched a pattern on paper (so that they would be roughly symmetrical) and then cut four pieces from the remainder of the gray sweater.

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    I cut the sleeve of the red sweater into a few strips for “hair”, pinned everything together and sewed around the edge to close it up.  Voila!  Hat done!

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    For the scarf, I cut the bottom three inches off the read sweater, and just looped it around his neck, again letting the hem of the original sweater be the hem of the scarf.

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     And that was it!  So simple.  I am now the proud owner of the most cuddly sock monkey on the planet!  And we are ready to enjoy the two hours of fun on one night of the year, that he will OF COURSE remember, at least via pictures.

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  • February27th

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    This is my brother, Jacob (the picture below, not the one above), one of my absolute favorite people in this life.  He’s 2 1/2 years younger than I am and pretty much just better at life than me.  We have lots of the same interests, but his free spirit just takes things to a different level.


    For instance…

    • I like cheese…he makes cheese
    • I like wine…he grows a vineyard
    • I like to cook…he roasts a whole hog in his backyard for 150 people

    Sometimes his free spirit drives me crazy, like the time I literally beat him over the head with my umbrella while standing on a lonely country road in France; but most of the time it leads him into fun hobbies, like brewing his own beer.  So for Christmas, I made him a set of personalized beer glasses.

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    I used my Silhouette to design and cut out a logo and the name “Modern Brewing”, then I tested the etching cream on one of my own glasses.  I used Armour Etch and it worked beautifully!  The next step was to do it on the glasses I’d bought for him – this proved to be much more difficult since they were tapered.  But after a lot of cutting and nudging and letting go of perfectionism, it was time to do the etching.

    I covered the stencil in the etching cream and then let it sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Then I just rinsed it off and removed the stencil.  Voila!  One-of-a-kind beer glasses for my one-of-a-kind brother.

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  • February26th

    DIY Fort Kit

    Posted in: DIY

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    Welcome to my kids’ DIY Fort Kit!

    Do you ever pin stuff on Pinterest knowing it would be the PERFECT thing for your kids/home/wardrobe, promising that you’ll do it ‘the next chance you get’ only to have life happen?  I know some people say that Pinterest is depressing for this exact reason, but I’ve discovered the solution!  Pin stuff, not so that you have to make it, but so that someone else can make it FOR YOU!  :)  That’s what happened with this Fort Kit – Thanks Mom!

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    I’d seen this on Pinterest and knew my kids would love it, so I pinned it.  That was almost a year ago and I still had not put one together!  But Marmie came to the rescue this Christmas.

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    She gathered all the supplies (sheets, rope, clips, clothes pins, suction cups and the VERY ESSENTIAL flashlights) and then made a drawstring bag out of the pillow case.  I cannot begin to tell you how many forts have been built in our house (and out) over the last 2 months.  It makes for such a great adventure every time!  Just one word of advice…make sure everyone gets a flashlight.  :)

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