Monday, September 29, 2014

Easy DIY Halloween Costumes

We are deep in the midst of serious Halloween costume negotiations at our house. After several years of sort of dressing up with the kids, last year we went all in with a family of vampires. I'm talking full makeup, wigs, etc. It was insanely awesome. And now the kids are obsessed with family costume ideas, none of which are going to be the likes of these below. I'm guessing that some day, instead of insisting we have a family costume, our kids are going to refuse to let us dress up with them. So I'm going to take advantage of this phase. But, if you're in the market for a more sane costume, I love each and every one of these DIYs. Anyone else have a costume in the works?

1. Love this French Baker costume, which works for either a girl or a boy. Plus, they'll have their snack at the ready.

2. Duct Tape Skeleton! Comfy! And you could use reflective tape for trick or treating, too.

3. This Hipster Kiddo would fit right in in our neighborhood.

4. My loves would be right at home in this Instagram costume. I'd skip the sewing and just paint on the cardboard.

5. Let them take their show on the road and dress as the Artist they know they are.

6. Kane is obsessed with legos right now and this building block Lego costume looks relatively easy to make.

7. This Carmen Miranda costume would be a great way to re-use those pretend kitchen toys gracing your playroom floor.

8. Cam would kill this Anna Wintour look.

9. Send out a whole crew as Mummies by playing a quick TP game first.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Scottish Rite of Freemasonry: House of the Temple

Right before the end of our summer break, we snuck in one of our most favorite field trips of the season -- a visit to the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry House of the Temple for the Southern Jurisdiction. How the heck did we find ourselves there? Well after our trip to the Library of Congress, I thought the kids would get a kick out of watching some of the National Treasure movies, which discuss Freemasons at length and their involvement in supposed conspiracies. Not only did the kids love the movies, but they immediately became incredibly interested in Freemasonry and, well, treasure hunting. Then I remembered that we had several important Masonic buildings in the area, including The George Washington Masonic National Memorial. We deeded to keep it slightly low-key to start -- I wasn't exactly sure what the deal would be with touring with kids. So we went to the nearby Scottish Rite Temple.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Summer Bucket List 2014: FINAL Update!

Well, since this week technically marked the last bit of summer, I don't feel too bad that I'm just getting around to posting our final Bucket List update. Here's the final wrap up that got us to 46 items for the season. While we checked off a smaller number than last year, we also accomplished some LIFE bucket list items, including swimming in a waterfall and riding horses on the beach. Clearly we underestimated ourselves! Kane has already added bungee jumping to next year's list.

37. - 39. Three new geocaches -- we finally scored all of our projected geocaches and even got another new state!

Monday, September 22, 2014

We're Baaaack!

Notice anything different?! After three plus years of blogging in essentially the same format, with some slight categorical changes, we decided that a redesign was in order. We've grown up a lot, and we want the blog to reflect that.

In fact, in addition to looking different, the blog is going to sound a bit different. I've come to the conclusion that the kiddos are simply too busy to keep up their blogging duties and I'm simply too busy to keep juggling everyone's growing interests. I mean, technically I have as many hours in the day as Beyonce, but it seems that my driver, stylist, and house manager routinely fail to show up for work. So, I'm consolidating a bit. The focus is still the kids and family-friendly activities, but I'm going to be the voice and I'm going to include some of my own family-friendly interests that aren't necessarily undertaken by the kiddos themselves (i.e., DIYs, celebration ideas, etc.). Don't worry, the kids' personalities will still come through -- I couldn't keep those under wraps even if I tried.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fly Away: Beaver Island, Michigan -- Part 3

Somehow mom has managed to drag on these vacation posts for three weeks. Absurd! But we have  been like little spinning tops since school started, just trying to get through each day. We're all waiting for things to level out, but until then, posting around these parts is probably going to be more sparse than normal (which we know has been pretty sparse anyway).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Storyplaying Dress Up

You know we love a good storyplaying session! We've spent HOURS acting out mythical magical mystical stories at the National Arboretum and were in need of some new ideas. Enter The Land of Nod's great dress up! Our recent trip is up over at Honest to Nod today -- check it out! 

(And thanks to The Land of Nod for the wonderful new dress up -- it just might be pulling double duty as Halloween costumes!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (September 2014)

After all her griping, it turns out that our return to the school year has been kicking mom's butt. She's not sure who is going where, when or how; who needs what to eat or what change of clothes; or exactly how many cups of coffee she's going to need to consume to power through the now 3 hours and 23 minutes of time she has to spend in the car schlepping us all over town(s). The only thing that is clear is that this new "schedule" is going to take some getting used to. Hence her snapping of only 9 photos this 12-in-12 on her iPhone. We'll get there and, until we do, her "no cocktails during the week" policy has been indefinitely suspended.

Don't forget to hit up No Monsters in My Bed and Where the Watermelons Grow for their 12-in-12s this month!

Friday, September 12, 2014

DIY Backpack Tags

One of the reasons mom loves back-to-school time is the planning, organization, and pulling together of school supplies. The brightly colored folders, the unopened pack of lined paper, and the smell of a brand-new backpack. And every year she grimaces as she writes our names on the packs with permanent marker, ruining their newness before they ever see the classroom (we know, she's got issues). But this year she decided to make name tags for our packs and have us help using The Land of Nod's Jewlery Beads + String Set. Win! Head over to Honest to Nod to see what we put together!

And thanks to The Land of Nod for gifting us the supplies to keep our stuff looking spiffy!

Disclosure: The Land of Nod provided us with the Jewelry Beads + String Set in exchange for this post. No other compensation was provided and all opinions herein are our own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fly Away: Beaver Island, Michigan -- Part 2

Oooweee! Our first week back to school hit everyone a bit harder than we had expected. So, we're just getting back to our awesome end of summer vacation deets. After our great day spent exploring mom's little cabin in the woods, we woke up to a lot of clouds and rain. But we were not bummed. We knew that weather meant one thing: the promised trip to the Beaver Island Toy Museum. Mom had told us all about the wonderful store/collector's museum. How she and her siblings looked forward every summer to combing their way through its teeny tiny card catalog drawers of unusual toys -- many of them filled from the local artist owner's bulk purchases of vintage gum ball machine wares. We were psyched and it did not disappoint. In fact, we made two trips to the toy museum during our stay, which also gives you some indication of how much it rained the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School! Breakfast

Happy back-to-school day!!! (well for us anyway). We were all so excited to get back that we had a little celebration last week. Head on over to Honest to Nod today to check out our back to school! breakfast and our hilarious interview answers.

ps .... and head over to A Feteful Life for your own free printable interview!

Disclosure: The Land of Nod provided us with Meri Meri partyware and a growth chart in exchange for this post. No other compensation was provided and all opinions herein are our own.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fly Away: Beaver Island, Michigan -- Part 1

Our mom spent much of her summers growing up at her family's cabin on Beaver Island in northern Michigan. It's not the easiest of places to get to, which was all part of the adventure when she young. But coming from the east coast, getting there involves a flight, a long car drive, and either another flight or a ferry. So, needless to say, we'd never been. When we received an invite to one of our favorite former babysitter's wedding in Charlevoix this past August, mom thought it was fate. So we jumped on in and planned a week at the island with our Grammie and Grandpa B (mom knew their 130 square foot cabin without running water or electricity was not going to fly with daddy, so we rented a house on the the island's best beach). Daddy ended up having to travel for work, so we had to cancel our plans to attend the wedding, but he was able to make it home in time for the Beaver Island trip!

We had an awesome time exploring the island and listening to mom wax nostalgic. But, we were there almost an entire week and mom took about 8 million photos, so we decided to post about our trip in parts. Today we're sharing our trip there and the family cabin!

We first flew to our grandparents' house in Chicago and then all drove up to Charlevoix together the next day. Daddy somehow managed to set a record driving time, which meant more time for us to get acquainted with the important northern Michigan delicacy of Superman ice-cream. Holy cow. Then it was a little plane ride in a little plane -- some of us were more nervous than others. But we made it! 

We arrived to our beach house welcomed by sunny skies and sparkling water and, of course, wasted no time getting ourselves into the drink. When the sun is out, Donegal Bay is by far the best swimming beach on the island and mom and her siblings used to beg Grammie and Grandpa to go there when they were little. There were some rocks right in front of the house, but big patches of sandy, shallow water stretch out along the bay. We floated, splashed and explored until dinner time. Donegal Bay is also famous for its sunsets. And we caught a pretty good one our first night!

Our first full day there we woke up to lots of clouds, which mom and Grammie announced was the perfect weather to take a trip down to visit their cabin out in the woods. We bumped our way along dirt roads and parked at the top of "the hill," which apparently requires some serious engine gunning and lack of care about the car you're driving to drive back up. So we skipped down excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. We didn't quite get why someone would pack 6 people into a 10 X 13 cabin on purpose, but we soon got down to the point of Beaver Island: exploring. We took to catching frogs, daddy long legs, slugs, you name it. And we were glad Grammie brought a "habitat" with us. Mom showed us the remains of their once fabulous treehouse and pretend sailboat, now just barely frames.

We fashioned our own walking sticks and headed off on the hike to their "beach," which apparently back in the day used to be an hour-long hike marked off by favorite landmarks (lightening tree, fern field, bee attack cove). Today, there's a road cut to follow, but it was still pretty wild for us. Mom's beach used to be completely deserted and they'd often shower right in the lake, which was cold, but still much warmer than the solar shower back at the cabin. But it's changed a lot. There are homes on the beach now and a lot more vegetation than mom recalls. Grammie thinks part of the changing landscape is from the zebra mussels assault on the Great Lakes. We were just psyched that Grandpa B taught us how to use a compass and walkie talkies. So awesome.

Stay tuned for more on our vacaye later this week and Happy Labor Day!