Mystery Machine Little Tykes Remake (An Eventful Summer)

It has been an insanely busy summer. We traveled a lot, and I spent a lot of time planning for a personal goal (I hope to have ready to launch in the next two weeks).  We went to New Orleans in early August, and a few weeks later we drove down to Florida and enjoyed the theme parks and Daytona.

New Orleans

Jack loved meeting his heroes, Mickey, Spongebob, and Shrek and Donkey. Daisy was less than thrilled about the characters, but had fun. We ended summer with Daisy’s first birthday. Oh I just can’t believe my baby girl is one!!

Florida

One thing I was able to do this summer in the craft realm was make this awesome Mystery Machine for Jack (and eventually Daisy). It was originally a pink and purple Little Tykes that my niece Myla long grew out of and donated to me.

Honestly, the hardest part about making this Mystery Machine was cleaning it because my hose was broken so I had to use a bucket of water. You have to take it apart to clean it well. All pieces come off easily except the tires. Instead of taking them off, I just tied bags around them.

Little Tykes Redo

After it is clean, just spray paint. For the tire wheels, eyes, and steering wheel, I sprays paint into a bowl and used a brush. Once all the pieces are dry, put it all back together. I made the Mystery Machine logo and flowers with my cricut and cut them from Oracle 651 vinyl.

Mystery Machine

Jack loved it so much he kissed it! So of course I dressed him up like Shaggy and had a mini photo shoot with it.

Jack Mystery Machine

Cute right? I hope your summer was wonderful!

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Defining Love & Happiness

I planned to write a Valentine ’s Day blog about love, but I couldn’t. Instead I took pictures of my loves. I thought maybe I could find words by St. Patrick’s Day, but still, words did not come.  Instead I showed love with food on my husband’s and grandmother’s birthdays. I have been trying to find the words to write a lovely love blog, but I can’t.  I have been thinking about writing and how to write about love and happiness without sounding sappy or corny, and I’m bad at it. I’ve also been wondering why happiness is so boring. There are no great novels or wonderful movies about everyday love and happiness because it’s boring.  There’s always a happy ending, but what about the happy existence afterwards? All we ever want to see is the struggle up to the happiness.

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It is so easy to describe hate, anger, frustration. There are so many more words and combinations. But love is different. Love always sounds corny and cliché because we’ve heard it all before. There are only a handful of words I can use to describe the love I feel for my children, and that is no way the same as the love I have for my husband, or my mother and father, or my sisters, or my dog, or my friends, or even the love I feel for nature and animals, yet the language is the same. How can I describe it all differently?  I truly love all of these people and things, but in no way is that love the same.  I can go to a thesaurus and look up alternatives for “love,” but there is still no differentiation between kinds of love.

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Blush, brick, wine, burgundy, salmon, cherry, fuchsia, magenta, rose, maroon, pink, scarlet, rust. These are all distinct shades of red that are not interchangeable. A cardinal’s feathers are not the same shade or red as a glass of merlot. With colors it is obvious. We can see a difference.  But with feelings it is not.

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Why is it that we have dozens of names of colors and only one word for love?  There are actually no words.  It all sounds the same.  The language of love is boring, and likewise the language of happiness is corny. It’s actually very hard to be happy. It seems easy because we don’t have the same depth of language to express positive feelings. Everything sounds so cliche. When people are happy, they might seem brainwashed or in denial, especially during such volatile times in this world, in part because the common vocabulary used for happiness is much less varied than the weighted words of negative thoughts. It’s easy to explain how scared I might be of threats outside of my control, but difficult to explain how I can, at the same time, be happy and hopeful imagining my children making the world a better place. There are no shades of love and happiness to describe the in between time, the time when you’re scared, angry, blissful, and hopeful all at once.

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Then there are kinds of love. When I was a kid, there was a tree outside my home I climbed almost every day. I’d hide in the leaves for hours and read, or daydream, or eavesdrop on the conversations below. There was one spring when I’d sit up in my tree so regularly a family of birds nested just a few branches above me. When it was cut down, I was devastated. I went to my room and cried and cursed my family for killing my friend. It was a tree, not a person to talk to or pet to cuddle with, yet I was still so overcome with the loss my mom had to lie and say the tree men did it on accident and felt terrible just to calm me down. I am still sad that the tree isn’t there for my children to climb.

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How could that level of grief be caused by anything other than love? I loved my tree, I truly did. But how can I explain that love without sounding ridiculous when I have to use the same language I to describe the love of my children or the happiness my dog brings? I love my mother. I love my children. I love my house. I do not love all of these in the same capacity, but I am limited as to how to explain the difference.  I have been trying to find words to describe my different kinds of love and happiness without sounding like every other proud mom, wife, daughter, woman. I realize I am trying too hard.

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I will never find the words because I am no brilliant writer, but I can see the look of affection my children give each other the first thing every morning. I can smell the warmth of my small flower bed as I open my front door. I can feel the plush comfort of a blanket during a thunderstorm. I can taste my Mama’s pizzachene while hearing her sing lullabies to my babies.

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The problem with happiness is it can’t be described in a word or two. It is best described in a story, a photo, a color or feeling. Love and happiness are too good for words. True happiness and love transcends anything we can ever put into a language. I hope you enjoyed the photos that show my happiness!

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We’re having a Daisy!

Recently we had an abnormal blood test come back for the baby, so we had to have a few more screening blood tests done. They all came back great, and I finally did get back the baby’s gender. I wasn’t going to find out, but when they called with the results and everything was fine, I was so excited I didn’t really care if I knew or not so I just let the nurse tell  me. We are having a little girl! I was so happy that everything was OK and my baby girl is coming I just started crying and had to hang up the phone. Then I headed to the craft store to get some daisies.

We always said if we had a girl, we’d name her Daisy. I bought a bunch of daisies from Lowe’s and set them up on our kitchen table with my Daisy figurines around it and “Daisy Cutter” on loop. I told Matt there was a surprise at home for him, and as soon as he saw the daisies he knew we are having a girl!

Daisy Reveal 1

I decided since I majorly disappointed my mom with my fake gender reveal, I’d do a smaller, real version for her. I bought a tiny round wooden box and painted it yellow and green with pink and blue polka dots. I printed out a simple tag to tie to the lid to open for the reveal. I left a giant pink fabric daisy inside. Had Daisy been a boy, I’d have filled it with blue confetti.

Reveal Box

Everyone was so excited for another little girl in the family, especially the kids.

Gender Reveal

Today we had the 20 week ultrasound, and everything looks great! We can’t wait to meet our little Daisy!!

Daisy

Don’t Chew on Jesus, The Joys of Stock Photography, and Other Reasons to be Grateful

2015 was a difficult year. I suffered more than one loved one having passed, I had terrible separation anxiety from Giacomo, my father had a serious health scare, and the year ended with a such devastating loss for my young niece. I am still too upset over some of these to really talk about them openly. I realized though, that these tragedies really didn’t define the whole year. A lot of them happened so quickly together and at the very end of the year that they overwhelmed my memories of 2015. The reality is that 2015, like most years of our lives, had its ups and downs. It was actually a wonderful year. We got to see Giacomo grow and learn (I am only beginning to understand how wonderful it is to be his mom), we celebrated an the amazing birthday of my beautiful cousin (a milestone many did not think she would make), we took an amazing vacation, and we spent a lot of time with family and friends making beautiful memories. There are some things that will never have a bright side, like the loss of a child or a dear friend, but if I never stopped to appreciate my son’s smile, my nieces and nephew’s humor, or the memory of a friend’s laughter, I would be in a much darker place.
All the ups and downs of the year made me realize it was time for me to make a change. I saw this quote, and realized how completely  true it was.
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So I am ready for a new chapter. I decided I want to focus more on my teaching. I want to do something that empowers and helps people, and at this point in my life the best way I can is through teaching. Today was my last day at my marketing job. I was everything at once. Scared, nervous, happy, and excited. This was not a decision I took lightly and it was not easily made. It’s done now and I can’t help but think I did the right thing.
When I realized that I forgot the joy of my year, I decided to make another change, a new resolution. I hope it will remind me to appreciate all I have been blessed with throughout the year. I got the idea here. The point is to document something you are grateful for every day. Obviously, we are all grateful for our family, our home, our opportunities, but for me the point here is to try and see the little things. For example, I am grateful for over hearing conversations with a one year old “We don’t chew on Jesus.” (He was actually chewing on St. Jude, but whatever).
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Don’t chew on Jesus

Today, on my last day of work, I was grateful for stock photography. I left this gem in my drawer for the next worker to find. I only wish  I could be there to see the reaction.
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Rawr

It’s not something I plan on publicly sharing, but I still encourage everyone to try this exercise. I write my private journal with Penzu, and I made a separate journal just for my once a day grateful posts. Even if a daily journal is too much, try a regular journal (it doesn’t even have to be a “grateful” one). I hope you all have a wonderful year, and I hope I can make you smile at least once this year!

Grinch Ornaments for Giacomo’s 1st Birthday

It’s crazy to believe a whole year has gone by since my Mr. Man came into the world. I always say that the day he was born it felt like an explosion, that my heart grew 3 sizes that day like the Grinch. So for his first birthday, we had a Grinch themed party. Giacomo had such fun playing with his cousins, family, and friends.

Jack s party 2

I would have just had pizza and subs, but my sisters and mom took over and insisted on cooking a feast of antipasto salad (Truffula Salad), chicken cutlets (Roast Beast), sausage and peppers, kielbasa, pierogies, baked beans, pasta, potatoes and peas (Who Hash), and a 6 foot sub.  For I took over and went crazy.I couldn’t have done any of this without their help. I definately have the best family!

Jack s party 3

For dessert nieces made chocolate dipped marshmallows and decorated sugar cookies, while I went nuts making cupcakes, chocolate pretzels, Rolo pretzels, Oreo balls, pumpkin cheesecake, Rice Krispie Treats,  a regular cake and a smash cake for Jack, and Who Pudding. The kids even enjoyed a Hot Cocoa bar.

Jack s party 4

To thank everyone for celebrating, I made Christmas ornaments of the Grinch and his heart.

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For the Grinch ornaments, I swirled green paint inside the ornaments and left them upside down to dry. After two days I had to recoat. I let them dry about a week before adding the Grinch face.

Grinch

I layered yellow vinyl over black vinyl cuts for the ornament. Using the Cricut Explore, I cut the Grinch face by uploading  as a simple image. (I uploaded it twice, once for the face and once for the eyes). grinch clipart

I’ve made glitter ornaments with Glitter-It in the past, but I finally decided to try the mop & Glo method I’ve seen on craft sites and Pinterest. It does work, and it’s super quick! Just swirl the M&G in the ornament, drain out the excess, add in glitter, shake it up to coat, and tap out the extra glitter. Glitter-It works great, but so does M&G, and the giant bottle is way cheaper.

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I feel like the heart ornaments went with my whole year’s theme. All year I’ve been writing about the joys of the heart as well as heartache. The year started with my heart growing with Jack’s birth, and since then I’ve written about the joys of being a mom, the heartache of leaving baby, The Mighty Quinn’s Heart surgery, my dad’s heart attack, and now again, the joys of being a Mom.

Jack s party 1

I was driving home from the party, I was thinking how it was the first time I did something really “Mom,” and it was the first time I felt like Mom. Feeling like mom is subtly different than feeling like a mother or a mommy, and I’m not sure how to explain it, but giving my son a fun birthday made me feel like a Mom, and I loved it.

Our Halloween in Florida

Monsters Inc for Halloween on the road.

Monsters Inc for Halloween on the road.

Myla's Surprise Party

We gave Myla a surprise party, and oh she was so cute! She really was surprised.

It’s just 2 weeks after Halloween, but if you walk into any store you’d think Christmas is next week. I even got sucked in buying a Christmas book for Jack and catching myself planning Christmas decorations. So, I’d like to regress and talk about Halloween, my vacation, and how Christmas can wait so it doesn’t get stale by December 25!

Jack, Sally, and Zero

After driving down to Florida (about 18 hours), we started the vacation by going to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It was a blast. Adults are allowed to dress up and the park is open until midnight.

Splash Mountain in Costume

Since most people crash around 10, the park became pretty empty for the last 2 hours. We even met the Seven Dwarfs, a very rare occasion that only happens on Halloween and Christmas.

The Rare Seven Dwarfs!

We found out that the secret to going to Disney’s Not-So-Scray Halloween party is to go the day after Halloween. That way, we still trick-or-treated, there was (I think) less of a crowd, and the tickets to the party were less expensive

We all dressed up as characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. For the most part, I made the costumes. My favorites were The Mayor (Jenna), The Boogieman (Olivia), and Dr. Finkelstein (my mom, though she didn’t take many pictures in the wheelchair).

Boogieman & Mayor Dr. Finklesforth & Ax Head

The three little ones were Lock, Shock, and Barrel, my dad was the character with the ax in his head (We gave him the most minimal costume), and Angelina was the demented vampire toy. Jack was Zero, but it was so hot he could only wear his hat in the park. When I post how-tos, I’ll post the whole of all the costumes.

Happy Halloween!

Matt was Jack Skellington and I was Sally, and they were the only costumes I didn’t make. I bought my dress at Hot Topic rather than a costume store. It was the same price, much more comfortable, and the pattern went around the whole dress, not just the front like the costumes. The most home made thing I did for my costume was my makeup and nails.

Sally's Dress Nails

We went to all the other Disney parks and Universal Islands of Adventure, and met some celebrities. Did you know Mickey Mouse TALKS when you meet him in Magic Kingdom!? I was starstruck!

Mickey Mouse

Then we finally crashed at the beach in Daytona for a few days. There was a heat wave our whole vacation, so it was about 100 degrees, but by the beach, the breeze felt awesome.

We needed some beach time!

On the way home, we spent the day in Charleston, South Carolina and spent the night in “The South’s Most Haunted Hotel,” Charleston Embassy Suites. We didn’t witness any ghosts, but there were some noises and creaks, and all the drawers in one of the dressers were inexplicably open (Ok, so maybe Giacomo opened them when I wasn’t looking, but that’s not fun.)

Haunted Hotel

Now that I’m home, I am in full end-of-year mode. I’m playing around with some recipes for Thanksgiving, and I’m starting to get ready for Giacomo’s first birthday! I can’t believe a year is almost here! I’m so excited to give him a fun birthday, even if he won’t remember it.

Texas Craft House

blood, sweat, and glitter y'all