Friday, November 13, 2015

Halloween

It's nearly Thanksgiving already, but let's talk about Halloween, shall we?

Charley has been talking about what she wanted to be for Halloween since November 1st of last year. Disney princesses were talked about the most often, with Rapunzel obviously leading the pack. We (or, I. John just goes along with it and helps in the crafting.) really like to make Charley's Halloween costumes so I was dreading her choosing a Disney princess this year. We could definitely pull something together, but if you were to lay an actual dress-up princess dress next to one of our creations, she would undoubtedly choose the dress-up dress every time. So I just crossed my fingers things would change before Halloween was here.

At about a month pre-Halloween Charley was still very much leaning towards Rapunzel. I didn't want to tell her she couldn't be that but I was brainstorming ideas on how I could get her to change her own mind. She's very much like her daddy in that if she believes something was her idea she will get enthusiastic and excited about it. Now if it is a suggestion that you make to her, she's resistant. BUT! The way around that (and I have a decade's worth of experience with this thanks to her daddy!) is to plant seeds so you still get the ultimate outcome you want. Don't tell John my secrets. (Hi John!)

So, one day Charley was playing at her desk and I was perusing Pinterest. I typed in "DIY kids costumes" and marveled over some of the ideas. I then invited Charley over to look at the cute costume ideas too. And that's when she spotted Astrid from How To Train Your Dragon.



She LOVES these moves and the Netflix series too. She was sold! It was one of the first ones she saw but she kept coming back to it. Not even this octopus (which would have been my pick!) could sway her.


I was perfectly fine with her choice though. It was very much a DIY costume and it wasn't a Disney princess. (Which she dresses up as every single day of her life.) My tactics worked and she was excited too. In case you aren't familiar (which I don't think anyone at all we saw while trick-or-treating knew who she was), this is how Astrid looks in the movies.

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In another interesting turn of events this year, I didn't wait until the absolute last second like in years past. Sure, there were things we still finished up on Halloween day itself, but it wasn't the whole costume that we completed at the last second. All of the sewing parts were done a couple weeks in advance, which John was very thankful about. Things always get a little stressy between us when I inevitably wait until the night before Halloween and I'm rushing him through stuff on the sewing machine. So he and I were both glad to get those parts done early.

So, with Charley being Astrid who is one of the dragon trainers in the movie, it meant Laney needed to be her dragon of course! Astrid's dragon is blue with yellow wings. Not wanting to spend a lot of time or money on a costume for Laney who isn't really trick or treating anyways, I was just going to get a blue zip-up hoodie and sew some yellow wings underneath the arms and add big eyeballs and horns to the hooded part. Done! But, about 10 days before Halloween the blog Hip2Save posted that Wal-mart had a dragon costume for only $5! I didn't like the one she shared, but after perusing around I found a blue dragon costume that even had the yellow wings for only $7. Sold. It wasn't much more than I'd spend on a jacket and supplies.

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She had too much cheek to velcro the hat closed.

Back to Charley's costume. So we used a combination of a few different tutorials we found. In addition to the one up there, this one was really helpful too. Mostly everything we did came from something in one of those two tutorials. So, it definitely wasn't our own ideas, but I still think it came out great!

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Most importantly, Charley loved it! I loved that it was a little out of character for her to NOT be something super girly and princessy.

We used these supplies:

  • An army green long-sleeved shirt from last year. The sleeves were too short for this year so it was a perfect free shirt to ruin. 
  • denim looking leggings
  • faux leather
  • elastic tape
  • black ink pad for "distressing" the metal spikes a bit
  • green duck fabric
  • 1 sheet of grey fun foam
  • 2 bags of Crayola model magic
  • leather roping
  • 1/8 yard faux fur
  • her regular boots
  • and at the last second we made the shield and axe from cardboard
Charley and I made the spikes from the model magic together. We let those dry overnight and the next day Charley painted all of them silver. While she painted I made the skulls and the "metal" pieces for her headband from the model magic as well. The model magic is very light and takes paint very well. We did have a couple of issues with it though. I must have made my skulls too thin because a couple of them crumbled when I tried to glue them to the skirt or shoulder armor. Luckily I'd made extra though. Also, even though they'd stayed glued onto everything for about a week leading up to Halloween and Charley had tried the stuff on a few times too with no issues, for whatever reason just before we set out to trick or treat, the little spikes started falling off! We used hot glue but they were falling off both the faux leather AND the shoulder armor so I don't think it was an issue with what they were adhered to. Not a huge deal, but something I'll consider if we use the model magic again in the future.

I just used velcro to make the faux fur loops that slipped over her regular boots. The armor on her shoulders was just strips of the grey fun foam held together at both ends by brads. John secured the armor to her shirt, but I think he used another brad through small holes he made in her shirt to get them to stay. It was either that or safety pins. I think we tried both and can't remember what ended up working better. Regardless, they stayed secured all evening, even if some of the spikes were already missing before we even got to our first house to trick or treat!

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The weapons were a last minute addition. The shield was a cardboard circle painted black, and I used leftover fun foam to make a border around the edge. I cut a smaller circle to place in the middle and used an extra skull there and extra spikes around the edges. We just made a velcro loop on the back to put around her arm so her hand was freed up for carrying her pumpkin.

The axe was also cut out of cardboard and then painted silver. I used the black ink pad to distress it a bit too. For the handle, I asked John to get one of her dollar store rakes or shovels out of the garage so we could use the handle. I was just going to paint the handle brown or black. Instead, he came in from the garage with the best axe handle ever! He sawed off a piece of a tiki torch we had in the garage that we haven't used in years. It was perfect! He used zip ties to secure the axe head on top and I added the last of the extra spikes on it as well.

The underskirt was triangular pieces of the duck fabric sewed over a piece of elastic. The outerskirt was strips of the faux fur sewed to a belt, and then the belt closed with velcro. I hot glued the skulls and spikes on top.

Also! This costume also consisted of my very first french braid! I get the technique. I know how it is supposed to work. It is my fingers that don't quite get it yet. But they sort of somehow got it together that day! Charley however started whining about it hurting when I got closer to the end so it ended up being a french braid into a ponytail. But still! Not too bad right?!

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Laney napped maybe only an hour the whole day of Halloween so she was not having the pictures or especially not the hat part of the costume. So I never did get a good one of both Charley and Laney together. Oh well. I try not to get too bummed when I don't get great pictures. I definitely don't want to spend too much time trying to take good pictures instead of enjoying the moment of which I'm taking pictures. You know?

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In the end though, I was pretty darn proud of Charley's costume! Can't wait to see what we will do for next year! Even if Charley starts refusing our homemade costumes, I'll still have Laney to do with as I please. Perhaps she'll make a good octopus next year!

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And finally, a couple weeks prior to Halloween the owner of the company for which I work sent out an email asking us to dress up for Halloween in the office on October 30th if we'd like. Also mentioned that there would be prizes for the top 3. A few days prior to the 30th I started asking around to see who was going to dress up and I wasn't sensing a whole lot of participation. I decided my chances to win something for the costume contest were pretty good and so I tried to think of something to throw together really quickly. Tuesday evening while perusing my closet for something anything to pop out at me I figured it out. I threw together a couple of black/white striped pieces, a longer black cardigan, boots and tights and became the Hamburglar. 

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I purchased the red tie from Goodwill and the black mask from Michael's. I borrowed the hat from my niece and used felt and ribbon to make the rest. It cost me around $6. And as I suspected, there were only 8 participants in the costume contest, so yours truly brought home first place! 

I won dinner for John and I at a place of our choosing. So tonight we are cashing in on that offer and going to Melting Pot. I know I should have chosen McDonald's for our dinner for giving me the easy costume idea, but another time, Ronald and pals, another time. I'm super excited to have a dinner date at a place that is most known for their DESSERT. My mouth is watering at the thought of it!

Anyway, the good candy from our kid's candy loot has all been consumed and our thoughts are no longer on Halloween but focused on Thanksgiving (who am I kidding) Christmas. Bring on the holidays! My little crafty self goes into overdrive this time of year and I'm feeling pretty trigger happy with my glue gun. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Just Me & Charley

Saturday was yet ANOTHER rainy weekend day here. I feel really bad for any of the fall festival type businesses in our area this year as almost every weekend so far this fall has been rainy. So, when we woke up to yet another rainy day I knew we wouldn't be able to stay in the house all day and an outing would be necessary.

In an effort to not spend much money I decided our outing would consist of these stops:

A trip to the library to return books and check out new ones

A stop at Barnes & Noble to use a birthday gift card (we don't have one super close so it's always a special trip to be able to go spend it)

A visit to Toys R Us so Charley could find ideas for her Santa list


While getting ourselves ready Laney was pretty tired and was getting fussy so I decided I'd nurse her and put her down for a nap and just take Charley out instead. It's much easier to just take Charley and she appreciates the one on one time too. Laney hasn't been the greatest napper for us at home lately so I wasn't sure how it would go for John. But I was able to get her down and get myself ready and we were out of the door around 12:30.

Our first stop ended up being the gas station a couple miles from our house. While I'm about to pull out of the gas station I get a text from John.

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Good grief. That nap lasted for all of twenty minutes. LANEY!! I call John back and ask if he wanted me to come back and get her so he could continue working on his project at home and he told me no and to just go ahead and he'd take care of her. So onward we went.

When we got close to the area where the Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us were located (they are right across the street from each other and by a shopping mall) I noticed that we were not the only ones that decided to shop today. Apparently the whole city had cabin fever and the exit ramp was backed up to the interstate. Luckily I knew a shortcut through a neighborhood so I skipped that traffic and went to the next exit.

We were just about to our first stop of Toys R Us when Charley tells me she may be getting carsick. She tends to feel that way when she gets hungry and we are in the car (obvs!). I asked her right before we left home if she wanted lunch and she declined (she slept until 9:00 that morning so we had a late breakfast & I believed her lunch would be later too). Change of plans. The Barnes & Noble is actually attached to the mall food court so I told her to hold it together for a couple more minutes and we'd get lunch first.


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Why yes. She is wearing a character shirt that has WORDS on it. My sister is very generous and bought this for her and laughed all the way to the register, I'm sure. :P

Whew. Crisis averted.

So after lunch in a very busy food court we moseyed on over to the bookstore. 

Charley ended up choosing Uni The Unicorn. A good choice for her (unicorn lover) and for me (not too long!). As we walked by the Barnes & Noble snack bar she asked for a treat & I just couldn't tell her no. Plus, do you see these smiles? Totally worth it.

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After we ate our treats (of course I had one too) we hopped back in the car to go to Toys R Us. We only come here once or twice a year to get ideas for Christmas or birthdays. It's further than I usually drive and let's be real - I do almost all of my shopping online and normally they just cannot compete with prices online. But I knew we wouldn't be getting out of the store without buying something so I told her if she was good she could pick out something small.

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We had a lot of fun wandering around and oohing and ahhing over all of the things she'd love to have. I opted to take pictures of things she wanted to ask for so she'd remember what to write on her list when she got home. Or, so SANTA would be able to add these to the Amazon wish list and not forget about them.

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Once she'd visited the very pink rows several times each and was sure she'd seen it all, she then began to look for something small to buy that day. Of course, nothing small is at kid eye level so everything she asked for was out of the budget I'd set in my head of ~$15. Finally though she found something that she really wanted. She's been really into Scooby Doo lately and although it was priced at $20 & therefore a little over budget, they were action figures that I knew she'd get a lot of play time out of so I agreed.

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She played with these things ALL WEEKEND. And she turned her Shopkins ice cream truck into a Scooby Doo Mystery Van which I thought was pretty creative, too. I checked the price on Amazon once we got home and was very pleased to see the action figures were the same price on Amazon as they were in the store.

After we left the store she had no interest in going to the library any more. "My feet are so tired, Mama." so we headed home. Laney was napping, John was happy & project-ing, and Charley and I were happy too.

Take that dreary, rainy Saturday! If only we could do something about this dreary, rainy Monday now.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week In Review

This is for the week of November 1-7.

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The highs of the week were:

Some friend time on Friday night.
A really great Charley/Mama outing Saturday which is getting a blog post all its own.
Two free lunches at work. I mean, it doesn't take much to make me happy & free food is an easy way to do so.
Securing someone to do the next step in finishing the basement. (Sheet rock hanging/mudding/sanding/finishing)


The lows of the week were:


Working until 8:40 p.m. Friday night. 


The best money I spent was on:

A couple of Stitch Fix pieces. Got some really great jeans from my actual fix, and then a shirt from a Stitch Fix Buy/Sell/Trade page that I really love.


The book I am currently reading is:

Still not reading. Unless you count Uni the Unicorn which was last night's bedtime story.


The TV shows I watched were:

Monday Night Football, Survivor, Amazing Race & Dateline

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The meals we had were:

(This is indicative of the crazy/on the go/unprepared week we had)
Sunday: Steak/mashed potatoes/green beans 
Monday: Pizza Hut at the Target snack bar for Charley and I (I fed Laney some veggies while we ate too) and John ate at his Monday Night Football game tailgate. 
Tuesday: Out at Hubee D's - a local place that has chicken & wings
Wednesday:  Take-out pizza from the place John where got a couple happy hour beers
Thursday: Chicken Alfredo
Friday: I'm not sure what they ate since I worked so late. I think my parent's fed Charley and John ate some leftovers. I ended up eating the last slice of pizza from Wednesday around 10 p.m. that night.
Saturday: Fiesta Chicken (one of our favorite crock pot meals) 

My favorite picture from the week was:

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Don't worry I took the rubber bands off her arm soon after the picture was taken.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Laney: 6 Months

This whole second child thing speeds up the aging/growing process to WARP SPEED. 6 months already when I still feel like I have a newborn! What the what?! I remember reading other moms say this before I had baby number 2, so basically I'm just saying I get it and I agree.

So, 6 months!

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This month brought a lot of firsts. First time....

sitting unassisted
flying on a plane
reaching to be held
going to Disney
getting sick (colds & croup)
spending a night away from Mama
trying formula
swimming in a pool

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It was another good month for little miss Laney bug.

She's still sleeping great overall, but is not as consistent as Charley was. She will have a random wake-up in the middle of the night which always makes me think we aren't feeding her enough during the day. Hence us starting solids last month. And then just last night she woke at 4 to nurse so today I sent solids to my sister's house to add on another meal during the day. Ha! Not sure if that is really the issue but the answer is always: MORE FOOD. Maybe that is my personal problem too.

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Naps are still the same. Wonderful at my sister's, not so much at home. (Very similar to Charley! Assuming this is another ME problem. I should just let my sister adopt them!) On Halloween she napped for a whopping ONE hour the whole day. She usually gets 4+. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but at least she's with my sister for 5 days versus me for just 2.

So, solids. We don't do the whole baby-led weaning thing so we are doing purees right now. I've even given her (GASP!) oatmeal cereal. [Apparently some people feel strongly against baby cereal these days. Most of them also feel strongly against buying baby food so obviously I'm not in their camp. Mama ain't go no time to be making baby food.] Anyways, oatmeal was what we started Charley with to get some practice with the spoon and fill up her little belly more, so I bought a box to give Laney sometimes as well. It is much easier to throw a veggie or fruit pouch and a spoon and a bib in a bag though so she gets purees more often. Regardless, she's doing really well with them and has only turned her nose up at pears so far. Loves any of the orangey ones best: sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes.

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She is sitting up so well and is even learning to fall more gently. She's had a few head bonking falls too and a few of those were my fault. Either reacting too slow or trusting her new abilities too much. But my goodness I cannot wait to sit her and her sister in front of the Christmas tree and take their picture. I think that was the thing I was most giddy about when she started sitting up a few weeks ago. Hopefully the timing will work out where she is still not very mobile so I can just sit her there and snap pictures to my heart's content! But she may surprise me and start crawling soon. Charley was closer to 9 months before she crawled.

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Bring out the baby toys. She's really enjoying toys now and tends to love blocks (which are harder for her to grasp and get in her mouth but she still loves them) and anything with a tag the best. She is very content to plop her in the floor with toys all around and just play. And toys are still new and interesting enough that just handing her one when she gets fussy in the car or on the changing table will calm her down instantly.

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At her sick visit 2 weeks ago she was weighed and was around 15 pounds. I'll get an official measurement at her well appointment next week but I can definitely tell our time with the infant seat is ending soon. I am still finishing up the last of the size 2 diapers but she is ready for size 3. She is solidly in 6-9 month or 6-12 month clothing and I need to go ahead and take the 3-6 month out of her drawers.

In the comparison department, Charley was still about a pound smaller than Laney at the same age. She was scooting and rolling both ways (I still haven't seen Laney roll belly to back) and had her first two teeth pop through right at 6 months old. No signs of teeth yet for Laney, but she is sitting up already which is a little sooner than Charley. They both have been pretty attached to Mama at this age. No complaints about that at all. I think they are not looking as much alike these days, either.

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Laney, Charley

I am still pumping twice a day at work (down from three times a day) and our frozen stash will be all used up this week. So that means next week 2/3 of her daily milk will still come from me pumping, and 1/3 will be formula. She tried formula this past month but didn't take much before she refused it, so we will have to work on her acquired taste for it over the weekend.

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She can be a very serious baby at times!
Charley is truly a great big sister so far as I knew she would be. She constantly talks about how she cannot wait until she is old enough to play with her. I think that is coming very soon so I hope she doesn't change her mind when she's got to start sharing!

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6 months have gone by in a flash! Love you Laney Beth!

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