Rainy day idea or just because …
Rainy day idea or just because …
Often I make our fireplace mantle change for the season or holiday but I never blog about it. I’m going to change that and start sharing my mantle creations on here maybe to inspire others or if nothing else to share the fun I have creating my mantle master pieces.
The school year is approaching fast and before the holiday’s catch up with us I wanted to pump up the kids for the new school year. We now have a middle schooler and a kinder kid in the house and those are two big transformations that they will have to get use to.
I went to Michaels to get loom for the crayon wreath, I needed two different size embroidery hoops that I hot glued together (the top thick wood parts with the screws) and bought two packs of 120 crayola crayons to ensure I had enough crayons for the wreath. At my discretion I spaced them out in the correct color spectrum. I ended up only getting to red, orange, yellow and green not even using blue, indigo or violet.
Originally I had planned to add cute cut outs with my Cricut machine, but once the wreath was done I loved it the way it was.
I had an idea of how I wanted the mantle to turn out, I just needed to find a few accessories at the stores if I could. To my surprise I didn’t find what I needed at Michaels, and now that I think about it I might have been too early in the season for back to school supplies who knows. Next door I made a Target run and “glanced” in the dollar aisle (its my weakness), to my absolute surprise and utter joy Target had a few great back to school decorating items. I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy store with a million dollars to spend. Each find made me happier than the next. My at home ideas went out the door and my cart was full of new ideas.
The kids and I grabbed a world map and I used this as an opportunity to illustrate the path that their Dad traveled while he was in the Navy on his deployments.
The glass jars were filled with stamps and scissors and the book ends held some children books, while on the other end an apple chalk board counts the days until school starts.
And last but not least the garland has a positive message for the kids to read daily and absorb before the school year begins.
In mid February we took a day trip to San Francisco to visit the city and The California Academy of Science. Growing up in the bay area, I was able to visit this museum and many more on school field trips and day trips with my Dad. I want to take the children to all the amazing sites I was able to go to in my life. Any time Victor and I are in the city, whether its down south in Los Angeles or up north in San Francisco we try to set aside a day to take the kids some where they have never been and to a explore things that we don’t have where we live in the central valley.
The last time I went to the San Francisco Academy of Science was in the mid 90’s. Since then the museum had gone through a $488 million dollar renovation in the Golden Gate Park.
It was like an all new adventure for Victor and I. The museum was completely different from anything I remembered growing up. Immediately to the right is a 90′ spiral dome with a living rainforest. walking in it you feel the humidity while thousands of butterflies and free flying birds are fluttering around.
Below you can take an elevator down to the flooded Amazon and walk through a 25′ tunnel with the rainforest above. The kids loved watching the fish all around them and I loved watching their reaction.
We saw taxidermy animals in their natural habitat
The museum also had a huge coral reef aquarium that offered a show with a reef diver. While we didn’t watch the show, we weren’t disappointed at all of the other things there were to take part in.
One of my favorite things doing at the museum when I was a kid, was going on the
earthquake simulator. California is known for earthquakes, but (knock on wood) we really don’t get them as often as people may think. In 1906 San Francisco was hit with a 7.8 earthquake. Any time anyone brings up earthquakes this is the one that al earthquakes are based on. The quake resulted in 3,000 deaths and $524 million dollars in property loss and lasted 1 minute. The city burned for 3 days and destroyed 500 city blocks.
Another major earthquake to hit California was the 1989 Loma Prieta that lasted 15 seconds at a 6.9 on the seismic scale.. This resulted in 60 deaths and wide spread damage. I was nearly 5 years old and it was my first earthquake. It hit in Santa Cruz, 60 miles from San Francisco and was felt in San Jose where I lived. It felt like it lasted much longer than 15 seconds as my mom and I hid under the large dining room table.
Now that I caught you up on a mini earthquake lesson you can only imagine emotion of going through the simulator and having semi experience each earthquake all over again. Instead of having posters to read and standing on a platform that shakes, the new updated version takes you into a planetarium like room to explain how an earthquake works. After you moved into the self proclaimed infamous Shake House. Hold on to the rail because you will first experience a touch of the1906 quake. The simulator doesn’t last as long as the actual quake did nor can it move up and down like the real one, only side to side. Second up is the 1989 Loma Prieta and as I’m writing just realized how historic it was that 26 years later my daughter was nearly the same age I was experiencing that earthquake. While she’s never been awake to experience an earth (we’ve had ones while we both have slept) Emery thought it was a fun little ride. A much different reaction I experience living it.
(video in my Instagram GypsyWidow 13 weeks ago from this date)
There was so much to do at the museum but we ran out of time and I didn’t want to run our of daylight before visiting the iconic Golden Gate bridge.
With the mad driving skills of Valerie we made it to Crissy Field at sunset. A little fact that all mothers learn quickly is be prepared with extra everything. I know this unspoken rule, I’m pretty good with it and I know San Francisco is freezing at night. Did I pack warm clothes? DUH. Did I bring them? No I did not. What I failed to mention peed his shorts on the way to S.F. It has never has never happened before but now that we were out I couldn’t have him wet and in shorts. As luck would have it this conductor pants were in the trunk from the day before, and it all worked out.
We got some great shots of the kids enjoying themselves
some of me and the husby
I’ve always wanted to go to this part of San Fransisco and take pictures with the bridge in the background. I’m so happy that we made it just in time!
It was Emery and Carlos’ first time in the city so we went down to the peir to grab sone authentic San Fransisco food at Boudin.
The highlight of my night turned out to not to be those bridge picures i’ve wanted for years but forgetting Emery has no idea about street entertainers and watching what she thought was a statue come life after putting a dollar in the can. She turned around so fast as soon as he began speaking. The man was nice enough to offer a picture of them two together. The bridge pictures I love but the street performer made a lasting memorie for me.
My youngest baby turned one!
My oldest turned four!
We visited the beach
We drove to the mountains
The kids were asked to be part of a possible ad campaign
We surprised Great Grandparents in San Jose
Mommy got to introduce us to some of her San Jose friends from high school finally
We visited The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles
Our first time at the Los Angeles Zoo!
We visited Great Grandma Mami Chela in Los Angeles for her birthday
We visited the Natural History Museum for the first time and we loved it!
We went to Apple Hill to get one or two pumpkins
Took our yearly Family photo
Took the kids to the state capitol
Visited Great Grandma Mary . . .
Grandpa Max …
And Grandma Andrea while we were in Sacramento!
Celebrated Halloween and mommy slaved over making Carlos’ Mad Hatter outfit and his hat
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year
And celebrated Christmas at Great Grandma & Papa Joe’s house
It was a busy year with trips to our local zoo and park in between. This is Emery’s last year spending all day with us before school and we’re trying to make it extra fun for her.
2014 was a good year for us, we had our usual ups and downs that come with life but this mommy can’t complain! Everyone is healthy and our loved ones are with us. I’m happy to share my adventures of parenting these two little ones and document our travels around the Golden State of California. A big thank you to all of my readers out there! I wouldn’t be doing these if I didn’t have the support I do.
Hope everyone has a healthy, happy, joyful and blessed new year
We welcomed December’s cold crisp air and cold nights with hot chocolate. Emery and Carlos decorated the Christmas tree this year while I stood back and watched. Carlos grabbed the ornaments and handed them off to his big sis. The clusters of ornaments together was a signature look that my babies were doing the tree all by themselves.
Later that night when Carlos was a sleep, Emery helped me make a popcorn garland; I had never made one before and I was excited. We made fresh popped popcorn and I sat on the couch starting to thread. Emery handed me popcorn with puffy tops … and then slowly her hand ended up going from the bowl to her mouth. I didn’t mind, I know she enjoys popcorn and I was just happy to have her company. The garland didn’t take very long and soon we had our very first popcorn master piece, a tribute to my two popcorn monsters.
The next day we made our wish list for Santa. Emery needed help putting words together, we talked about what she wanted and then I helped her spell it out. Dad was near by on the computer and ordered a few more gifts that were on her list. For Carlos I put down things that he likes- trains, cars, animals and Diego movies. When the kids were done with their list, I made copies for Santa (so I could keep the original list). We stamped the envelopes and mailed them off to the North Pole!
In December our special friend Snowie the elf comes back to visit us and watch the kids during the morning as Santa’s little spy. At night he gets into things and the kids wake up in a hurry to find what he got into or where in the house he is. Emery was especially excited to see him! His antics were a hit with the kids and when Carlos was cranky Emery would give him Snowie to sleep with and Carlos snuggled him safe.
A few of Snowie’s tricks at night were admiring Em’s drawing of him
Snowie made Emery and Carlos into little tree elves
Snowie was leader of his own sleigh, thanks to the help of a few dinosaurs, animals and a My Little Pony.
He got into the kids underwear and decorated the tree with them.
And one night he bothered the kids while they were sleeping . . .
Last minute I had the idea of making an ugly Christmas sweater for Carlos. I spent nights sowing little trinkets like small plastic ornaments, ball puffs, garland, gift bow and we topped it off with a Christmas light necklace.
Every year for holidays I like to make something using the kids foot print or hand print as a size reminder of how much smaller the kids were the year before. The kids dipped their foot and hand in some flour and placed it on felt. I use flour to make a print of the hands and feet instead of tracing an outline. I find the kids are more willing to get dirty and stamp their hand on something rather than holding their hand down and trying to trace around it. The flour is also more accurate, to the actual size.
The week of Christmas we did a mini photo shoot in front of the Christmas tree and fireplace. Taking photos of the kids was kind of difficult, things don’t always go as planned but its even harder when I’m shooting at night with no flash, every little movement from me or the kids turned the photo into a blur. I tend to shoot fast and I often neglect the background whether its straight or crooked. I think even when I shoot slow I have that problem.
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at Great Grandma Mary’s and Papa Joe’s house. We had traditional tamales with pork and olives. Christmas day we went back to celebrate their Dad’s birthday and enjoy some homemade menudo amongst lots of delicious sweets.
Carlos had a very “train-y” Christmas and made out with lots of Thomas the Train toys. And Emery got a karaoke machine and lots of songs and movies.
I’m blessed and thankful it was another year with all of our family in our lives and the kids were able to share traditions that I grew up with and to have so much love in the house.
To be honest I wasn’t going to write anything about our Thanksgiving. Whats to be said, we cooked, we ate and we regretted it all. Then I thought about what the day actually meant. Not the literal historic image that my 11-year-old brother just learned about and made sure we all knew of the slaughter; but the day to really take it in and be thankful for something.
While Valerie was in town we watched many episodes of, “Rehab Addict”. We both had seen the episodes on Netflix a few times already but who really gets tired of watching the “Ha-Ha” house being restored to its original roots.
Val, Carlos and I took a trip to Home Depot to make a bulletin board. It wasn’t a major renovation but we felt pretty pumped walking into the building. We went into the aisles with ideas, we had the measuring tape, we had the frame and we had spirit!
At the register an employee asked where baby Carlos was. I think all three of us looked at each other like, “is this really happening?” What are the coincidences of somebody saying that while a baby (man baby of one year) named Carlos was in front of them.
When we got back we quickly went to work, to be honest Valerie really helped a lot with everything. I had the idea but she really put it together. I wanted to spray paint the cork but I didn’t want to wait a day for it to dry, so we taped it in so I could take it out and paint it another day. The kids colored the back of the board and when all was done we hung it above the fireplace with pictures and letters of what the kids were thankful for.
The end result of a Thanksgiving mantel and a DIY cork board. I added the turkey hands we made last year and some past and present pictures.
A few weeks later was Thanksgiving. My husband and I hosted this year, lots of planning and prepping went into the meal. In the 7 years of us being together it was his first time making a turkey. I admit, I thought he was in over his head when it was Sunday and the bird was still in the freezer. He knew what he was doing though, he brined it for 3 days and it was delicious.
With the help of my sister in law Vienna, we made pumpkin crayons. Last time I attempted this my house filled with smoke and I called my husband in a panic. Needless to say I haven’t tried making crayons in a few years! We bounced back a few ideas and Vienna thought of using the blow dryer instead of risking another melted plastic try and smoke alarm fiasco. It was a stroke of genius, and this is what we did:
1. Used a pumpkin ice tray ( I got this one for Halloween at The Dollar Store )
2. TIP cut the crayon pieces as small as you can, use a knife because your fingers will start to hurt once you start making the pieces really small. The smaller the better they melt. You can mix colors but I kept them the same.
4. Put down news paper. I didn’t do this and my tile has melted crayon on it and in the grout.
3. When using the blow dryer the highest heat works and for some reason the two newarest colors will melt faster than the actual color your dryer is hovering over. I got in real close, Be careful when moving the dryer around, the melted wax will splash.
4. When done I put the tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes, make sure the wax is hardened and repeat steps for more crayons.
I also made “turkey legs” with left over Halloween candy. Lord knows I don’t need all of that candy in my life, and before the week of Thanksgiving I had gotten back into working out.
I love Native American culture and last minute I decided to make some feather headbands. Its the perfect day to get my semi obsession out. I just used some left over foam board from my Halloween outfit this year. I hot glued the “feathers” to head bands. Super easy craft and it made it just a little extra fun.
And last but not lease we had a “Thankful” pumpkin. We asked everyone to write what they were thankful for. Some where funny, most said family and health and then there’s my father who wrote his name on other peoples messages.
As for me, I pray everyday what I am thankful for. I am blessed and thankful for my family and friends health and our wealth. The wealth may not be much but we have a warm house, clothes and we don’t go hungry. I am blessed to have my family and friends here on Earth with us still. Everyday is uncertain and every time I wake up I am blessed to have each one in my life. I am grateful for my children’s health and how much they grow everyday. Though my children drive me crazy and at the end of each night I am emotionally done I lay in bed so happy they are in my life. I also pray for everyone in the world that they had a great joyful day and if not they have a better one tomorrow. That is just a sample of my gratefulness.
Halloween for us started in early September, the house was all decorated inside and ready for the season before the weather even changed. The outfit planning started a few months before that in summer. I guess you could say, Halloween is kinda a big deal here.
We went through several costume ideas before sticking with the final one. My heart was set on Carlos being Nacho Libre, but as time went on more ideas came to mind. The tough thing about toddlers and Halloween, is that there’s so many great ideas and it makes it hard to choose! The kids have been in themed costumes that past few years, so want to keep the tradition going while they’re still little and don’t want to be two completely different things.
Since Emery is older I was willing to work around what she wanted. It changed a few times, first she wanted to be Olaf with blood on the side of her mouth (her idea not mine). Then she wanted to be The Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. Of course no where in the known universe of 1 million costume shops did I find a pre made outfit, that began my frantic pinning. If Emery was going to be the Mad Hatter Carlos would be The March Hare. It looked like I would be making two costume outfits.
Luckily Emery decided to be Alice and that moved Carlos up to The Mad Hatter. I only had to make one outfit! I don’t like doing things last-minute so I started everything in September, besides I needed the costume done and bought before our Apple Hill trip in early October.
Before I even got started I was nervous of the task ahead of me. This would be my first time making an outfit. I’ve made a doll outfit before, a few pillows but that was the extent of it. Now I was taking on pants, a vest and a jacket! I figured if it didn’t pan out and worst came to worst Carlos would be in the dark and it was only for one day.
As crazy as that was, my sewing machine wasn’t even working! A month before I tried fixing it with my grandma while watching YouTube videos to no success. My husband (Mr. Fix it via YouTube) tried it and it worked! I had my machine, my cloth, my ideas, now time to try to figure it all out.
I also had to make the tights the colors I needed for The Mad Hatter outfit. With this I bought white cotton tights and several Kool-Aid packets.
STEP 1. I put three of the purple packets in a steady boil.
STEP 2. Since I needed each leg a different color I held the other white leg in my hand so that it wouldn’t stain. TIP: turn the tights inside out because in step 4 your tights will lose that color you loved.
STEP 3. Constantly move the tight around so all the color can be even.
STEP 4. When you reach the desired color take out and rinse in cool water and wring it lightly. You don’t want to get all the color out so be careful, it doesn’t have to be in the water that long, maybe 30 seconds at max.
STEP 5. Because we are doing different color legs repeat the from step 1. TIP: I had to get another pot because the color really stuck, so be prepared or save yourself the hassle and just use another pot.
STEP 6. Have a hanger ready to hang your end result. Leave it inside out until it is fully dry. I had mine dry over night and I think they were still a tad damp in the morning.
Now lets fast forward about a week of staying up at 3 a.m. every night (because my children are crazy and go to bed at 11) to get the clothes ready and here are the end results.
In these picture you can’t really see the colors on Carlos’ tights, that because I didn’t realize they were so much brighter on the inside until I took them off.
I also made Carlos’ Mad Hatter hat with the help of my husband. I researched on Pinterest how to make the hat and which I would like best. No pictures were taken of that either. If you decide to take on the task of making your own hat, make sure you have plenty of hot glue, some help and plenty of fabric to cover your hat! A staple gun might work better and be faster. Carlos never actually wore his hat, the hat is way too heavy for him and by the time we put all the cardboard in the rim it didn’t fit his head. It’s really nice so we are keeping it for a possible Alice In Wonderland party or a Halloween decoration for next year.
Emery is really into YouTube tutorials on costume make up, the day before Halloween I was watching one with her and got inspired to be the white rabbit. I didn’t really want to dress up because I didn’t feel like making myself anything but I actually had everything I needed to become the white rabbit, all I needed was white eye liner, to make the ears, foam board and a chain that were at Michael’s (my favorite store ever).
Just when we were done taking pictures in the front yard a black car pulled up. Emery thought trick – or – treaters were here. I said, “no trick – or – treaters don’t come in cars”. A few seconds later Nina Valerie came out! I have bad eyesight so I didn’t even know who it was! Not to mention she had just got a new car so I didn’t put two and two together! Val and Vic had planned the surprise a day before and I was totally clueless. I guess I got both tricked and a treat!