Sunday, February 01, 2015

Project Life//Week Three

One of the key goals for me with Project Life is to keep up & keep it simple. The Project 52 kit has been perfect for both. However, I am being pretty lax in what constitutes an actual week. Some weeks it's 7 days & others stretch a little longer to include more photos. During the time period for week three, I didn't take very many photos and so I decided to do just a one-sided spread. I'll probably do the same for week 4 and just choose the stories I want to tell the most. 

I am loving all the reminders in the Project Life social media world to keep it simple. 
It's a good mantra to hold on too.

I've been using the Sharpie fine point pens to write directly on the photos. You can get these in a lot of different colors, but I like black the best. 
The heart sticker is from the January Studio Calico kit. 

To share the Martin Luther King Jr. pictures that the twins brought home, I cut down a 12x12 protector and used a zig-zag stitch to sew it up. It'll be fun to look back at these as they get older!

You can learn all about Project Life here

Monday, January 26, 2015

Project Life//Week Two

Before I let it get too far away from me I thought I'd share week two of Project Life with you. Again, I used the Project 52 kit and some of the card from the Studio Calico monthly kit.
Here's what I'm loving this week:
The header card helps set the color tone for the whole week. It makes everything come together easily and I have to rely less on extra embellishments. 
I'm really trying to focus on taking photos that showcase what we are doing now. 
I love using negative space in the photos to journal right on the photo!
Lastly, I love list cards like the Currently card from the Project 52 kit. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Project Life for the New Year

Moment of truth: I bought a whole different kit to use for 2015. Then Becky Higgins released Project 52 and I fell in love with the ease of documenting week by week using the cards in this kit. It's a total bonus that the cards are so pretty too. 

I really want this year of documenting to feel better than last year did. I want it to not feel like a chore. My plan for now is to loosely do week by week. That means that I'll try to go Sunday-Saturday, but if I add in a few extra days it's no big deal. I do better when there is a clear timeline rather than the loosey-goosey once a month or whenever I feel like it. 

I'm also going to spend more time focusing on the photos. I want them to tell the stories and have the words help add the details. That will help me be really thoughtful about the photos I'm taking.
I'm not going to stress too much about adding extras---although, I splurged and signed up for the Studio Calico Project Life kit each month. The first month had all sorts of super usable goodies in it including the twenty fifteen sticker that I used on the title page above. I think it'll be a nice extra to add to the mix. I'm thinking that anything I don't use at the end of the year will turn into giveaways!

I don't know how often I'll share here. It's a little ambitious of me to share weekly, but you never know. Inspiration might strike me and I'll want to share. I'm not going to stress too much about it. 

So far, I'm pumped. It's been fun to sit and play with the photos and cards again. I've got some ideas already for some of the upcoming weeks and I'm feeling a renewed energy towards this project. 

It really is so worth it. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Couple of Minis

One of the things I love about Instagram is the connection with quilters from around the globe. Over the past couple of years I've been using some of the Instagram swaps as a way to learn, grow, and push myself out of my comfort zone. I love trying to come up with a plan that the recipient will love that is also fun for me to work on. 

This first mini is for the Schnitzel and Boo swap (search #schnitzelandboominiswap). This is one of the most "popular" swaps with over one thousand participants from all over the world. This was the third time that Kristi hosted this swap with the help of a handful of swap mamas. My partner wanted something rainbow and Cotton & Steel fabrics. This pattern is from the Quiltmaker's 100 Vol. 10 magazine. It was not a complicated pattern at all and one I would make again for sure. I did straight line quilting in just the low volume sections and it made the colors of the quilt pop even more. (Thanks, Dyan, for the advice!!)

The second swap I signed up for was a Disney Quilt Swap (search #disneyquiltswap2015). I knew that this one had the potential to be harder for me to work with. Meeting a specific concept (like a loved character) was a little overwhelming. Then, I stumbled on this blog and this perfect Chesire Cat. The paper piecing was a challenge for me but was a lot of fun see come together! I used the border fabrics and flying geese to play with the cuckoo nature of Chesire. 

I have one more swap to finish for a Rainbow Quilt Swap and then my obligations are complete for now. I've passed on doing the Downton Abbey and Studio Ghibli swaps because I didn't want to take too much time away from personal sewing. I'm making no promises though to stay away for the rest of the year. I find them a lot of fun and and can't wait to see what my partners think!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tips & Tricks for Disneyland

A friend asked if I could post some tips or tricks here from our recent trip to Disneyland. I realize that there are a ton of sites out there that mention the same thing, but I figured I'd tell you what worked for us. One of our biggest goals for the trip was to let the kids really get to see all that they wanted to see. We wanted to be as flexible as possible and not overextend or push anyone too far. With four days at the park, we could take downtime at the hotel or within the park without worrying that we wouldn't get to see it all. We also were lucky enough to have my mother in law along and so we really wanted to make sure to get one night at the park with no kids. I really wanted to make sure we weren't spending a ton of money--which is so easy to do in the park.

One way to cut back costs is to bring food to the park. Just inside the park (by Starbucks on Main) they have lockers for rent. We put a backpack full of snacks, sandwiches, juice boxes in the locker and then hit it up at lunch time. I sent to the hotel two boxes of non-perishable food including: bread, cereal, almond butter, jelly, boxes of kid's milk, snacks, chips, etc. I also sent bowls, plastic silverware, and anything else I could think that we might want, but not want to carry on the plane. Two boxes cost $40 to ship, but we were able to eat breakfast in the room and lunch in the park and then splurge on treats and dinner. We opted not to do character dining. The prices are really expensive and since my kids are picky eaters, it felt like a waste of money. We were able to find the characters within the park, but more on that in a minute.

I spent a bit of time before leaving buying Disney t-shirts and princess nightgowns for Naomi to wear instead of itchy, cumbersome princess dresses. This cut back on them wanting that sort of thing inside the park. Naomi loved getting to wear her PJs and she matched a lot of the characters. She even got a special wave and comment from Anna during one of the parades. We didn't plan to do any water rides, but the twins wore Crocs anyways so it didn't matter if they did. We also packed one outfit per kid into the locker (see above) for any emergencies. I'm happy to say that we didn't need them at all. We got to the park each morning pretty early and so we wore fleeces that we packed away at mid-day too.

One of Mia's favorite things to do this time was pin trade. I had gotten a heads up to buy a cheap pack of Disney-grade pins off Ebay. I found a pack of 50 for about $25. There were plenty in there that were rare or cool enough that she had no problem trading them. Here's the thing we learned. The average Joe usually didn't want to trade. Mia had much better luck with park employees who we learned aren't allowed to say no! In fact, they have to let the guest pick which pin they want from their lanyard AND which pin they are willing to give up. Mia unloaded some of her least favorites this way! She did have some luck with other kids, but for the most part was greeted with more enthusiasm from park employees.

Our favorite thing to do at Disney is character hunt. We let the kids each get an autograph book and I packed three clickable (no lid to worry about and easier for big handed characters to manage) Sharpies. There are some websites that tell you where you can find some of the roaming characters--but we seemed to stumble on quite a few. Many characters wander Main St. Square. Peter Pan and Hook were over by Snow White's fountain. We found Mary Poppins just off the square in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. Jack Skellington was in New Orleans Square scaring people as they exited the Haunted Mansion. There is also the place where you can line up to meet Tinkerbell and the Royal Hall where you can meet the princesses. We were lucky to find four princesses and the Evil Queen just inside the main gate. For anyone you come across, be aware that there might be a queue to get a photo and autograph. Often I would get in line with the kids in one and Mark would get in a different line and we'd join him when we were done. We didn't wait more than 5 minutes for each character. Our longest wait was for Merida at the Royal Hall. At the Royal Hall they have two revue shows that run: Tangled and Beauty and the Beast. We watched the Tangled and were told that as long as we didn't leave the pavilion we could meet some of the characters after the show. We didn't ever get to meet Anna and Elsa. They had moved over to California Adventure, but the kids didn't mind at all. Hollis and Mark went off one morning and waited to meet Thor and Captain America at the new Innoventions exhibit (where Captian EO used to be). They also had a special Baymax and Hiro meet and greet, which was probably the longest wait that we had.

One of the highlights was the Jedi Academy. First off, this is situated in the perfect spot to rest a little and get a snack (if you are buying in park). We showed up about 20 minutes before show time and got the kids set up right at the line. If your child wants to participate it's best for them to super enthusiastic when the Jedi Master is picking out padawans. Jumping up and down and shouting is okay!! It even helps to be wearing Star Wars gear. The little ones are often pitted against Darth Vader up on the stage. The big kids fight Darth Maul on the floor in front of the stage. We sat through it twice to get all three kids into the Jedi Academy. They absolutely loved it.

The use of Fast Passes made everything a ton easier with two different age groups to please. Often Mark and Mia would get fast passes for the rides they wanted and my MIL and I would take the twins off to Fantasyland. They really do make the wait times for the big rides more manageable and then you feel like you can get more ride time in. We also found that people were generally really pleasant about letting members of your party "cut in line" to meet up with each other. We didn't need to hop out too often. We tried to do bathroom breaks before and after big waits. I had a handful of snacks in my bag for kiddos who got hungry in line and often they were happy to be people watching.

Last, but not least, if you can time a date night around the night-time shows, you can generally walk right up to the rides. New Orleans Square is a bit of a mad house during Fantasmic, but we were able to walk right up to Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder while the show was going on. We took Mia back to the park two of the nights to take advantage of this as well. I think she rode Big Thunder nearly 10 times over the course of the trip!!

Did I miss anything?? Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll try answer them!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Now You are Five

Dear Hollis & Naomi--
I wish I could say that this year went by with no hardships, tears, or troubles. We had our fair share this year. But, one of things that I am most proud of is how much you both have grown. You started going to school full time so Mommy could work. You love your school and often ask for more time to stay and play instead of coming home. Both of you have begun the first steps of reading and love to write in your school notebooks. 
You've both taken a fancy to doing almost everything on your own. It makes for interesting outfits, hairstyles, and shoes that don't always match the weather outside. It can be hard to let go and let you do things in the name of independence. However, I know it's a necessary step to growing up.

You are my morning bird--often up just moments after I wake up and make my tea. You love the quiet time when it's just us and we can cuddle, read, or you can quietly play without the noise of your brother and sister. I love our morning conversations and time together--it's easily one of my favorite parts of the day. Just you and me before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. You are my grocery shopping companion and happiest when you get one-on-one time with us. We need to make more time for dates with just you. You love Little People, stuffed animals, wearing dresses, singing, and dancing. You are often fearless and strong---the most independent---and I know these traits will help you grow into an amazing woman someday. 

This was the year that we saw you really turn into a little boy. You love Star Wars, pretend fighting with sabers, swords, and laser guns. You love to wrestle and often hug harder than you should. You have this energy about you that is wild and fun. However, you also have a softer side to you that is perfect for cuddling with Mama, playing board games with Daddy, and for listening to your teachers. You are a talker and will often tell stories and have conversations with anyone that will listen. You have so much to share with the world and I can't wait to see this carry you as you grow. 

There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel lucky to have the two of you. You make me smile and laughing with the two of you is one of my favorite things ever. I'm not always the most patient and attentive Mama, but I always strive to end the day with kisses and love. You deserve all of that and so much more. I was really worried about going back to work full-time. I would miss time with you and I worried that you both would fall apart without me. The truth is that you both have flourished at school and love it so much. You have amazing teachers that encourage you to learn, play, create, and socialize with other kids. It's been an easier transition than I thought and I am so grateful. 
We have another big year ahead of us. We are taking our first big family vacation. You will start Kindergarten in the fall. You will probably start reading and lose your first tooth. 
I don't want to rush it because it's all going so very fast.
No matter what, I'm along for the ride, because I love you.


You can see last year's birthday post here

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sharing Project Life

Today I took the day off work and spent the morning doing all the things that I love to do but rarely have the time for. That includes getting all caught up with Project Life. Like I've said in previous posts, I didn't stop altogether over the past few months, but needed to journal and pull everything together.

Lately I've been playing with not having set weeks represented in our book. Instead, I've been using pages to document certain events or collecting moments from a whole month. It's what is working right now as far as our story-collecting goes. 

I do know, that in the two weeks since having a new camera, I've taken a ton more photos and have been really excited to print them and add them to our book. I feel like a new creative person lately & finding that footing is really nice.