Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Craft #2: Kids’ Crafts!

Have I mentioned I love fall crafts?? I have a zillion ideas and probably not enough time to do any of them. I did find a couple of really cute kids’ craft projects, and happened to have all the supplies for each of them on hand.

First: Construction Paper Pumpkins

I made these with Tobin while Luke was at school. I am a fan of Michals Craft Stores on Facebook, and they had a picture posted of a workshop they were doing for free in Canada. Someone in the comments asked if they’d post directions for those of us not in Canada – I took a closer look at the picture and thought, “I don’t need directions, I can figure that out!”

We used 1 sheet of orange construction paper, some green (for the leaf), a toilet paper roll (empty, of course), tape and crayons. First we colored all over the orange paper with different shades of orange crayon (Tobin liked getting to scribble everywhere…since that’s his primary method of coloring anyway!). While he was coloring, I cut out leaf shapes from the green, and he colored those. I cut the orange paper into 1” strips. We taped the top and bottom of each strip around the pumpkin, making these little friends:


The pics aren’t great because we made them several weeks ago, and they’re a little worse for the wear. But you can get the idea. It was a great toddler craft, and he is very proud.

If I had it to do again, I’d have cut a strip of the orange to cover the toilet paper roll. There were plenty of strips, it got harder as the roll was more full, so 1 piece of paper would still be enough – and you wouldn’t be able to see the roll.


Cute, easy, and using supplies I have on hand. My kind of kids’ craft!

So much my kind of kids’ craft that we did another that fits that criteria as well… This one came from my sweet friend Amy Bowman’s blog. Amy is battling cancer, and I didn’t even realize that she was a blogger as well until her diagnosis. But I LOVE her blog. It’s called New Nostalgia, and has lots of fun health/living/recipes information. She also hosts a party called “Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays”, encouraging us to share things that have been on our to-do list that are now DONE. I have nothing to share on that front :), but I like looking at other people’s progress!

Anyway, she posted about making these pumpkin luminaries and I realized I had all the supplies on hand for that as well. I did this with both boys, and they really enjoyed it. Like most Mod Podge crafts, this was kid friendly because the Podge dries clear.


I used this tutorial, but it’s pretty self explanatory. You just cut tissue paper (I used orange and brown) into strips the height of your mason jar (I did ~1” width). Mod Podge them around the jar, then cut your jack-o-lantern face out of black construction paper, and mod podge that on as well. The tutorial used paint for the top of the jar, but I thought that was too messy, so we just did strips of green tissue paper for that as well, taking care not to get any paper inside the jar so we could still put candles in there (because I didn’t want to mess with finding my Christmas lights this early.)

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(doing a surprised face like his pumpkin :D)


The boys were proud, we had fun, quick clean up, and FREE.


That’s mine in the middle, Luke’s on the left, and Tobin’s on the right.IMG_0889

You can see that his was a terrible mess, especially up close, but they look quite good from farther away. You have to love the Podge!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Craft #1: Fabric Pumpkins

IMG_0883 I absolutely love Fall crafts. There are a zillion really cute ideas out there, and I’m really thankful that I got started on some before October was even here… since October has been uber-crazy, if I hadn’t been thinking pumpkins in September, we’d be pumpkin-less.

I started with a project for me – with my new favorite toy, my sewing machine. I’d seen these fabric pumpkins around, and Kari @ Ucreate had them as the project of the month for September, so I really wanted to try them out. I’ve been trying to just use things I have on hand for anything I make that’s not a gift…but since I’m new to sewing, I don’t have much a fabric stash built up yet.

Fortunately for me, my amazing Mother-in-Law, in addition to being the best Grammie and mom-in-law under the sun, is also a “saver”. She keeps everything. The kids play with Matt & Betsy’s childhood toys. I’ve yet to come up with something random that she doesn’t have on hand. I asked if she had fabric scraps (thinking the 1970s, when she would have been gathering fabric, would be prime Autumn colors), and sure enough, she had boxes and boxes. I found some classic examples of 1978 chic – the gold plush corduroy is my personal favorite. I can’t imagine wearing anything made out of it, but it was PERFECT for Fall pumpkins.

So here are my pumpkins:

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Including the gold corduroy:


And since the fabric was handed down to me (I even stuffed them with fabric scraps from Sara’s stash), this project is GREEN and FREE. Can’t beat that. And super cute, no?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Picking!

Back to our one shiny free Saturday in September.

IMG_0856After the Pumpkin Run, we headed to Martin’s Hillside Orchard for a lovely Fall afternoon.

This was our first apple-picking experience, and I LOVED it. We’ve done pumpkin patches before (both Rocaberry Farms and Valla’s), but that’s kind of an all-day event, and Valla’s in particular is EXPENSIVE.

Martin’s Hillside Orchard was perfect for a low-key, non-commercial afternoon. We came out with pounds and pounds of apples, and the cost of entry is waived if you buy at least that much in produce. So instead of paying an entry fee on top of pumpkins and apples, we came out with some lovely pumpkins, bags of apples, and a whopping good time.

The tractor – or Hay-Rack ride (Texans, that’s Nebraskan for a hay-ride) to the pumpkin patch was Tobin’s favorite thing.


Luke’s was the dog – Rocky – who followed us all around the orchard (eating apples and feed corn and who knows what else. Is that normal??)


This was my favorite part of the day:


So cute!

Some other fun memories…

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I love Autumn.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Run (2010)

We had one shiny free Saturday in September – an off week for the Huskers (since college football dominates our weekend plans in the Fall…like everyone else in Nebraska), and a free weekend before the craziness of our October.

We started the day with the Pumpkin Run, one of Luke’s favorite Fall events. This was his last year in the Run, and we’ll have one year off before Tobin is eligible (it’s for K-5th). He did a great job, and had a good run – a mile in 7:46 (way faster than I could run it, that’s for sure!) And we enjoyed cheering him on, as well as cheering for several of our school friends (Tobin LOVES to cheer :D).

On your marks…


Get set…




The beginning of the race always makes me SO nervous…it feels inevitable that someone will get trampled. But they all stayed on their feet this year (at least with the 5th graders…)


Hilariously…  This year they had an official photographer, and it looks to me like he tried to get a picture of every single runner. No small feat considering how many hundreds of kids participate. I looked through the shots on his website until I found Luke – and he did get 3 close up shots of Luke. The photographer must have been placed in between the places where spectators were cheering. Shot # 1, Luke is walking (he was totally sprinting both places I could see him – I think they all turn the corner and take a break :D). He’s starting to run again in shot #2. Unfortunately, he’s also starting to SPIT. And in shot #3? There’s a clear line of SPIT from my precious son’s mouth, arcing toward the ground. We’re so proud. Needless to say, we didn’t order any prints. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Shelf!!

IMG_0885 News about Uncle Jon came and sped life up, leaving me little time to blog. I have a couple of crafts the boys and I worked on in late September to share, a fun weekend at the apple orchard, and THIS awesome project Matt worked on throughout September. I mentioned it on Facebook, so several of you have been waiting for pictures… I think he did SUCH a great job, and thanks to some gift cards to hardware stores we didn’t spend much out of pocket.

We’ve been considering getting a desktop computer for a little while. We both have laptops, but the boys are wanting to use the computer more and more. It makes Matt super nervous to have the boys on either of our laptops, and mine is already pretty covered with a layer of crud thanks to being the family computer.

So we were thrilled when last month we were given a hand-me-down desk top computer. But then we had a dilemma –  in this day and age, it’s unwise to have computers (if they’re hooked up to the internet) in kids’ bedrooms or anywhere unsupervised. But I also didn’t want a computer in the middle of our living room – and we don’t have room for it anyway. Matt hadn’t even bothered bringing the computer home, since we didn’t have a place for it.

And then while tooling around on craft sites, I was reminded of Knock-Off Wood (now Ana-White.com)…We may never buy furniture again. She had plans for a secretary desk – which was the perfect solution for our living room. I’d considered something like this, but #1 The only space we have to put it is more narrow than anything store bought and #2 We can’t afford to buy a giant piece of furniture. I showed Matt the plans and asked if he thought he could make it, and change them to fit into the space we have.

Fast forward a couple of lovely September weekends, add a genius husband and some borrowed power tools, and you get THIS:

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We made it narrow enough to fit in the space between our back door and window. We also just put shelves on the bottom instead of drawers, since I thought that was more practical for what we need anyway.


I am THRILLED. The boys LOVE having a computer that is “theirs”. And I like not having to share mine.

Anyone have any tips for cleaning crud off of a laptop computer? :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye…

Jon and Terry 034 Well, this is a first. For the first time in my life (except for maybe a brief time while I was engaged), I’m in Texas, but wishing I was in Nebraska.

I guess that’s not entirely true. I’m happy to be in Texas. This is still my home, and when I’m in other states (like when we’re on vacation in Colorado) and people ask where I’m from, I still have to say that I’m from Texas (but live in Nebraska.) I’ve even answered that question (when asked of our whole family), “Well, they’re from Nebraska, but I’m from Texas.” We get funny looks.

Anyway, I’m always happy to be in the homeland. I just wish we hadn’t had a reason to be here right now. We’re in Austin this week (headed back momentarily) to spend time with Matt’s aunt and say goodbye to his uncle Jon.

The Memorial Service was Monday morning at Umlauf Sculpture Gardens, which is a lovely place (and incidentally, much more kid-friendly than any other funeral setting I’ve ever been in.) Matt led the ceremony and did the eulogy, and I’ve never been prouder of him. He gave such a sweet tribute to his favorite uncle. Uncle Jon’s wish was to have the service out doors, and he didn’t want it to be weepy – he wanted people to tell stories about him and laugh, so that’s what we did. There were lots of stories of motorcycles, golf, the Longhorns, and his love for his friends and family. My favorite moment was when Betsy’s daughter, my niece Annalise took the mic – she talked about how Uncle Jon used to always forget the alphabet, and she would have to remind him of how it went. Precious. As we prepared the slideshow, I was so touched by how many pictures we have of Jon down on the floor with the kids, playing games, tickling them. I’m thankful for the wonderful memories they all have.

The boys are doing really well. Luke got really sad the night (a few days before Jon passed) we called to say our good-byes, but he did quite well during the ceremony. (He was really relieved there wasn’t going to be a body or a burial.)

Tobin keeps talking about not being able to see Uncle Jon again until heaven – and he was a little sad when we first told them that Uncle Jon had died. But he also has the sweetest perspective – I love seeing death through the eyes of a child. Last night as we prayed before bedtime, we thanked God for Uncle Jon, and I asked Tobin what he thought Jon was doing in heaven right now. Tobin: “Playing.” Me: “What do you think he’s playing?” Tobin: (thinking….) “Twister!!” That made me smile. :)

I’d appreciate your prayers… for our Aunt Terry, as we all leave and she begins to try to adjust to a new normal… and for Luke, as I do feel like his emotions have been more out of control than normal (not about Jon, but it feels like he’s more easily upset, just a little more emotionally volatile than usual these last 2 weeks.) I feel like that’s probably related to all the emotions of death being stirred up, memories of his mommy’s death, losing another person who was very dear to him (maybe his favorite person outside of our immediate family.)

In the meantime, we leave the land of my home, great mexican food, access to chic-fil-a, and dear ones. We head back to the land of corn. :) 15 hours in the car – first time we’ve tried to make it all in one day with the kids. You could probably pray for that too!!

If you’re interested, here’s the slideshow/movie we put together of family pictures…