Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Halloween Fun

Warning: Lots of pictures!

For some strange reason that I am still not entirely sure of, I decided to make Halloween costumes this year. That's right, make them. It was never my intention to do so. In fact, I intended to buy them all. It started in mid September when I overheard one of my friends talking about what they were going to be for Halloween. Then I got to thinking that we should do a family theme, started looking up ideas on the computer and finally let the kids decide. And the decision was......Toy Story 3! (Okay, is it even possible to take a picture with everyone looking normal?--This was the best I could do.) I started looking up prices for costumes and realized that Bo Peep was outrageously expensive, so I decided to make that one. All along I was just going to buy Woody and Jessie, and even did buy Woody, but after seeing the Target jumpsuit next to Bo Peep I decided I could do better and took Woody back.

And a Toy Story 3 themed family would not be complete without...
...Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Yes, I made those too, without a pattern.

Let me just say that these dang costumes have taken over my life the last three weeks. Remember all those projects I had to do for school? How they filled up my dining room, made a huge mess and consumed my life? Well I certainly haven't forgotten. Somehow I imagined that my life would be different once I graduated, but I find myself in the same project-focused state of mind more often than I would have thought. No all-nighters anymore, thank goodness. Is that just part of my personality or something? Do I need to be creating something to have fulfillment in life? To a certain extent, yes. Sure, I could have read the book club book instead, or painted the garage, or made better dinners for my family, but no, I just had to make 6 (six!) Halloween costumes.

I will admit that I've always had it in the back of my mind that in order to be a good mom I had to make my kids' Halloween costumes. Totally not true, but I had to attempt it anyway--and while my kids were still young enough to like the things I made. My kids would have probably been just as happy wearing a pillow case. All the way through the process I kept wondering why I was doing this and that this would be the first and last time. The jury is still out about whether I actually like to sew or not. I think a few people were amazed that I even knew how to sew (i.e. Erin and Jared). Just because I haven't sewed anything in years doesn't mean I can't. I am grateful to my mom for teaching me how when I was a kid. Thanks Mom!

Connor as Buzz Lightyear
The only one that I bought was Buzz Lightyear and now I wish I had made his too. What am I saying? It was soooo much work! But everything came out so cute that I just wish his had been homemade too. It wouldn't have been that hard either. I thought his would be the one that I wouldn't have to worry about, but that actually didn't happen. I ordered a 0-6 month size online because he is within that range, but when I tried it on it was way too small! I almost injured him getting his shoulders in and trying to snap it up around his chunky chest was comical. His thunder thighs barely squeezed in that thing. I don't know if you can't tell from the picture, but it was two weeks before Halloween and at the rate this child grows, I knew it wouldn't work. 'Suck in Connor!'I ended up buying him a 12-18 month at it fits him great. I even added my own little touch on the foot. Here he is all tuckered out from the ward Trunk-or-Treat.Marissa as Bo Peep
Like I said, any Bo Peep costume was super expensive and now I understand why. I would say that it was definitely cheaper to make it, but it was probably the most expensive one because of all the lace, ribbon, zipper and material. There were a lot of pieces to make (hat, bloomers, dress and apron) but I got started early so it wasn't so bad. I never saw a sheep staff anywhere (and believe me, I checked) so Jared took a blow torch to some PVC pipe we had lying around and bent it. The fumes were cancerous, I am sure, but she got her hook. I had some blue spray paint so it was perfect. Everyone loved her costume, including her, though I don't think I got any of her really smiling.This is her at a bean bag throw with her best friend Sam. She carried the staff around with her for the whole party.Every event that we went to she fell asleep in the car on the way there. We had to wake her up half way through the Trunk-or-Treat and half way through another party that we went to when they broke out the pinata. I knew she would be sad if she slept through anything involving candy.

Asleep again...
Pinata fun after waking up (using her sheep staff).

Alex as Woody
For Woody I got a pattern for a vest (I used the chaps of the same pattern for Jessie) and got some cow print material 40% off. His shirt was a turtleneck I found at Good Will that I altered to make a collar, painted with fabric paint and glued on some fabric "buttons". The hat and bandanna were each a dollar from the dollar store, the belt and badge were leftover material from the potato heads that I painted with glitter fabric paint and I finally broke down and bought some boots at Walmart. I think he looks just like Woody and is so cute!
We had a little get together at the park the other day and found that his friend who is the same age as him was also Woody. By the way, Halloween costumes were not meant for Florida weather. It was way hot at the park and the Trunk-or-Treat. I felt so bad for those kids in long sleeves!
The cookie he decorated.

Erin as Jessie

I ended up making an extra costume for Erin's friend Clara because they wanted to be twins (the real reason being that I wanted Erin to like her costume and knew she wouldn't if her friend had the Jessie jumpsuit and she didn't). So hers is pretty much the same as Woody: Walmart boots, homemade belt and chaps, thrift store shirt that I added yellow to and painted with fabric paint and a dollar store hat that I sewed a yarn braided wig to. I had a few issues with wet paint and a certain cat (er..), but with my handy patch job you can't even tell (don't look too close!).
Look at this cute model!Hitting the pinata.

Jared and Laura as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head
I don't think making all the costumes would have been so overwhelming if I'd just kept it to the kids'. These took way longer to make than I intended due to all the pieces, the velcro and some hand sewing. Anyway, I made the pieces interchangeable. We ended up winning first place at a costume party for these babies! I guess all the effort paid off.Jared is such a good sport for wearing this ridiculous costume with me! (Sorry Jared, I think you have some candy in your mouth.)
All right, be honest. Does this make my hips look too wide?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Too Late

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's really late and I should be in bed... (here it comes) BUT...

First, Jared is out of town again (for the second time this month). This time on a some Boy Scout camp out that supposedly he is in charge of but I know nothing about... except that he is gone. The schedule, personal discipline, dinner, etc. is always thrown off when he's not here.

B. Because all of the shorts that fit me are either stinky or in the dryer, which begs the question: What the heck does this have to do with me being up at 1:00 am? Well, they are being washed because I have somewhere to go tomorrow morning and don't want to be stuck wearing the way-too-tight-make-me-feel-huge-pants-that-I-can't-do-up that I am wearing today to avoid dipping back into the panel fronted maternity shorts (it's been 4 1/2 months for gosh sakes!). And the reason I have to be awake for the drying cycle stems from a family I heard about as a child whose house burned down from a dryer malfunction while everyone was asleep. Irrational? Sure. So is locking my car doors when my husband runs into the grocery store to return a video while the car is running because someone could jump in, hold a gun to my head and kidnap/kill the whole family. I blame Reader's Digest for that one. Hey, it could happen.

and 4. Because Erin's friend is sleeping over and can't go to sleep. What gives? It's one thing to go to bed and leave your own child up to roam the house in the middle of the night, but I feel a little funny doing that to someone else's kid, especially with the dryer running. Here's why I think she can't sleep. Not only did they stay up 2 or 3 hours past their normal bedtime because of the unwritten sleepover rule that says you must, but because she can no longer suck on the two middle fingers that she has sucked on for the last 7 1/2 years of her life, starting tonight. Why? Because her dentist told her that once she lost a tooth, she could no longer suck her fingers or she would develop buck teeth or something. So guess who decided to lose her very first tooth tonight at our house? And when I say lost it, I mean we have no idea where that thing is. I swept the whole house and dug through the debris, which is harder than you might imagine seeing as we had rice last night for dinner. But no tooth. I told her "no tooth, no tooth fairy." I don't want to be responsible for giving her the wrong amount and causing tooth fairy questions on her first tooth. For all I know, she swallowed it, but I'll keep my eye out.

And speaking of swallowing things, it is highly likely that Marissa swallowed a penny tonight. That's what she told me anyway, although she also told me that she is 6, is in Kindergarten and that her mom is bald so there is a slight chance that it didn't actually happen. However, I did see her playing with a penny and told her to take it out of her mouth and she told me she swallowed it so, yeah. Any experience with swallowed money out there? From everything I've read online (because that's the most trusted place to go for medical help), as long as she can breathe, it should go through her system in a couple of days and I should be on the lookout, if you catch my drift. I remember taking care of my friend's kid who swallowed a penny and having to bag up all poopy diapers for a home inspection later. Hopefully it all comes out okay (yes, pun intended).

Uh, is that dryer really still going?... because the friend is asleep now and I'm coming off my Halloween candy high now. Which may also explain this post...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly Side of Me!

The Good
This is my annual "THIS is why I love living in Florida" post. I know, I say it every year and I'll say it as long as I live in Florida: I love Florida winters! September always seems to drag on with the months of humidity we've already had, being trapped inside, sweating through your clothes just going out to the car and constant AC usage. October marks another fresh start, a new beginning. It means going on family walks in the evenings, it means I can tell the kids to go outside and play and they will for hours, it means I won't have to use the most commonly used phrase of the summer "Close the door!" as much, it means I can go out to the garage without sweating, it means no more humidity headaches, and definitely most importantly, it means it's now officially park season!

The weather has been amazing this week. It just happened one day, when I realized that the air was the absolute perfect temperature on my skin--not hot or cold--and that the pressure in the air was gone. Ahhh! It really gets so bad in the summer that I'm afraid to go outside for fear of getting a headache. But now, it's winter--or whatever. I guess you could call it fall. In my view there are only two seasons in south Florida: pool season and park season.

I think I will enjoy park season this year for a few reasons. Marissa is now old enough to climb on everything without me having to watch her so much (unlike last year as a one year old). The other day she and her friend took off their shoes somewhere in the park and were running around for over an hour like that. I wish I had a picture, but she kind of always looks like an orphan or a homeless person these days, what with her knocked out tooth, her wild hair that she always pulls out and the bare feet. She has fun anyway. Connor is not old enough to go anywhere yet and Erin and Alex are still young enough to find the park an extremely exciting place to go. As for me, I need the time with my friends too. Much better than taking all the kids to the pool and attempting to have a conversation with the moms while trying to keep your kids from drowning. Park season.

The Bad
Also, I have been so overwhelmed with taking care of the house lately. I'm hoping that spending more time at the park and in the backyard will help this problem some. I'm not talking about having a spotless house; I'm talking about doing normal everyday things like dishes and laundry and picking up. At least once or twice a week I feel down about my inability to do these simple things. In a matter or two days or less the house gets completely trashed, like really bad. It is so frustrating! It's like stringing beads on a string without a knot on the end of it.

When I was in school my house would get like this whenever I had major projects (okay, all semester when I had Design classes). But I assumed that it was just the way it was when I was in school and that things would be different when I didn't have that anymore. True, it is definitely easier and I clean more often, but it turns out that I'm just not a very tidy person. I wish I could be a neat freak, but I just can't keep up the charade. At least 2 or 3 times a week I'll get the house looking pretty good, but the days in between make it seem like I'd never done anything.

I feel like I'm the only one doing everything for 6 people. I know it's my job, but I guess I'm just not that good at it. Yes, I realize that my kids aren't quite old enough to do more than clean the toilet and that I have three kids who dump toys everywhere home with me all the time and that I'm nursing a baby 50% of my free time, but it's still so frustrating. I've heard that you always have one more kid than you can handle and I absolutely agree. We were getting by pretty well with three, but I think we are still at the three kid level. Jared does help at certain things and when I ask him, but it's still at the three kid level. It's not enough. Maybe it's just the demands of a new baby that throw me off. Anyway, I hope we catch up at some point. Until then, forgive the mess until we get things under control. That will happen, right?

Also, little Connor turned 4 months this week and he has his first cold. I've never heard of a baby losing his voice, but he did. He tries to cry but it's barely audible. Poor guy. I hope he feels better soon. He also got some immunizations today and has been sleeping for hours and hours with a little Vicks on his feet. You'd think I would have been able to get more done with him asleep for so long. Oh yeah, I have these other kids.

The Really Ugly Side of Me
This is a little hard to write because it shows a side of me that I don't really like, but here goes. I can delete it tomorrow, right? I'm what I refer to as a "Silent Explosive" (no idea if this is a real term or what, but I still use it). What this boils down to is that I am very calm and even tempered most of the time, until something makes me mad and I explode. And I mean really, really lose it. No, I'm not going to go out and kill anyone or drown one of my children, I just mean for me it's just pretty bad compared to the calm me. People get scared when I explode so I try not to let too many people in on it. Luckily it only happens once a year or so. I don't like it. I can recall this happening at work one time (oh man, I had a great boss who gave me the rest of the week off and whatever else I wanted) and once with my primary class. I am still so embarrassed that I got so mad for whatever reason, but it's just how I operate. Look, it's more like a look on my face that tells you to get out of my way.

Anyway, I exploded one day this week and I'm both happy and embarrassed about it. Embarrassed because a few of my friends saw me like this and were really concerned, but happy because I guess I had been holding in a lot of emotions without even realizing it. I don't know if this has anything to do with postpartum or not, but I feel like I've been a little emotionless since I've had the baby. Just like numb. I hadn't cried at all, and I think there were occasions when I should have. I also have been having trouble sleeping and I've never in my life experienced insomnia (of course with all my sleepless nights in Architecture school, you never know about my sleep patterns). It's not because of the baby either; he's slept through the night since he was 8 weeks old. I usually just lay there until I finally get up and do something. Nope, not housework--see paragraph 5. I do feel a lot better after getting that out and talking to a couple of people about it. Now we'll see if I can sleep tonight wondering if I should delete this part or not. Ugh.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I love dates like this! Here's a random picture of the kids on 10/10/10. I love it even though they are kind of making weird faces, because it shows me how much they love each other.
Today was even more special because it was Alex's fourth birthday! Alex is such a sweet little boy and is really growing up in so many ways. A couple of months ago he started reading three and four letter words and now can read short beginner books (with some help). The other day he counted to 100 and just today he learned how to snap! I was so amazed by the snapping. It's a great life skill, don't you think?

He is a deep thinker and really takes things in when you tell him something. Once he's thought about it for a while and makes up his mind about something, he is determined. For instance, when he was little any amount of food or water on his shirt would warrant a new shirt. After I told him it was okay to wear a shirt more than once as long as it was not too dirty (because I was sick of all the extra laundry), he thought about it for a while and then started putting back all the clothes he ever wore into his drawer--the opposite extreme (but it's a lot less laundry). Also, when he was little he would resist putting on his seat belt until I told him that kids could die if they don't wear them. He thought about this for a bit and from that point on, he would scream if the car started moving and he didn't have it all the way on yet.

Alex is a quiet boy. Sometimes I have to ask him to talk louder so I can hear him from the back seat. He's quiet, but he is usually not afraid to tell you what he is thinking. Of course, he does have a loud side and that is when he cries. He screams like a limb has been severed for so many things that I sometimes wonder if I would even come if that really did happen to him (we're working on it).

Another thing about him is that he is well-liked and gets along with everyone. He plays so well with both his sisters and is so loving to Connor. I don't even think he realizes it when people like him, he's just a gentle fun-loving boy. His best friend is a girl who refers to him as "my boy Alex" and they play so well together. There was another little girl who kept begging to play with Alex and would scoot herself closer to him whenever she saw him (and he didn't even realize it). He has always been so well behaved in nursery and now primary. In fact he sat so still that he would fall asleep almost every Sunday in sharing time when we had late church. I don't think he likes to draw attention to himself either. He refused to stand in front of the Primary today when we sang him the birthday song.

For the past couple of weeks Alex kept telling me he wanted different kinds of cakes whenever I asked. It went from an UmiZoomi cake, to a Spiderman cake, to a Lego cake, to a bunch of cakes that I don't remember, and finally to a Toy Story 3 cake. I am a fan of the cake shows on TV where they make some amazing cakes, so I figured I could handle this simple cake. Here's what I learned: our cake was no where near the caliber of cakes on those shows. And for many reasons. First and foremost, because there were three kids sticking their fingers into the frosting, licking the frosting knives and excitedly trying to "help" while the baby was crying the entire time (yes, the entire time). And probably a very close second reason is because we (Jared and I) have no idea what we are doing. Cake crumbs kept getting into the frosting and the rice crispy treats we used for the bed frame kept slumping over and messing things up. And all so that we could fulfill Alex's birthday cake dream. In the end, I think it turned out pretty good. We already had the toys so we just placed them on Andy's bed and called it good. The best part for me was hearing Alex say, "This cake is exactly how I wanted it." That made my day!FYI: I did the headboard and Jared did the foot of the bed. His is way better than mine. But in my defense, the headboard was taller and I was a lot more frazzled than him at the time, what with all the crying and commotion and such. So here's another thing I love about Alex. He didn't care about if he got a birthday party or what presents he got, he was just so happy for everything we did for him. We got him a musical birthday card because the kids love to look at them when we go to the store, a game, a book, some cars and my personal favorite, a Lego set of a beach house which I will let him help me build tomorrow.
I love my sweet, cuddly Alex. I simply can't imagine my life without Mr. Alex around. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Two questions:

1. Why is it so hard to find a good dentist/doctor/mechanic/etc.? I mean a good one, that is honest and trustworthy and isn't out to rip you off.

2. Why is every old person in Florida so concerned about my baby's feet being cold and insists on making comments about it wherever I go? Why? Today a lady at Target was sure my peacefully sleeping baby was on the brink of some illness caused by cold feet and even tried to warm them up. "Aren't his feet cold?" she said, to which I replied, "Well, he hasn't mentioned it yet." I know they have good intentions, but this has bothered me since the first time it happened with Erin (it's happened with all my kids) and I'm finally getting it off my chest. I'm not sure if they know this, but we live in Florida, FLORIDA! Just because they wear a sweater when it's 90 degrees and 85% humidity doesn't mean everyone else is cold. I'm usually more concerned with overdressing my kids than not putting enough on them.

Back to the real reason for this post. For quite a while I have not been too happy with my dentist. Okay, for a really long time. It's not that I think he's a bad dentist, it's just that I wouldn't know if he was or not because I never ever saw him. Oh, I went in faithfully every six months all right, but he never checked me. Granted, I was pregnant quite a bit and didn't always get x-rays, but even when I did the hygienist would just come back and say "no cavities" and I'd see her again in six months. Weird, right? (I found out today that it's a law that the dentist has to see you at least every 12 months.)

So I've been on a search for a while and hadn't been in for over a year because of it. After my teeth started getting too fuzzy I decided to crack down and find a new dentist. I got a bunch of recommendations and eventually found one that was in my insurance network that one of my friends went to.

When I went in they did a bunch of x-rays and then came back to say that I had 5 cavities. Five!!! Keep in mind, I have only ever had three in my life and that was over 12 years ago. So now to hear that I had five was devastating. She said they were "flossing" cavities--basically really small ones in between the teeth. Okay, so I had gotten out of the habit of flossing, but five? She kept asking me if I ate a lot of candy or drank a lot of Coke. No, I have not done anything different with my diet in years. I wondered if maybe I had these cavities before and that my old dentist never caught them (you know, since he never saw me).

But that's not all. Then they brought in the estimate of charges. Our insurance covers 80% of all fillings, which was shown, but they also tacked on all these other charges that ended up being $700 out of pocket! Seriously? I already felt like crap after the five cavity bomb but this really made me feel uneasy. I called back later to have them explain the charges and the office manager could only tell me what one of them was, but not the rest. Bad sign.

Also, I was there for an hour and a half and when I was leaving asked if I would be getting a cleaning and they said, "Oh no, that's a completely different appointment." Apparently they didn't care about my fuzzy teeth.

I ended getting an appointment with a new dentist to get a second opinion so I had to go back and get the x-rays. Of course, it figures that they would charge me $25 to get one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with 18 one inch x-rays on it. They also couldn't figure out why I would need a second opinion on cavities.

Today, I went in to the new dentist who looked at the x-rays and checked out my teeth and guess what? NO CAVITIES!!! I cannot even believe how shifty and dishonest that other dentist was. She wanted to drill away my precious enamel for no reason just so she could make some money. That can't be legal. I am just so glad I didn't get any work done from her and that I found this new dentist. He is sooo nice and I love the hygienist too. I finally found a dentist that I am happy with. Finally! There was no wait, I feel like I can trust them and there's even windows in this office--Bonus!

Now I've got a great family dentist, pediatric dentist, pediatrician and mechanic (if anyone needs one). I'm still on a hunt for a really good eye doctor. Anyone?