Saturday, October 25, 2014

halloween 2014--pokemon!

Whoa, worst blogger ever. I didn't even finish our 25 Days of Christmas posts?! Yikes. Life, man.

Almost a year later, it's Halloween time again. I finished costumes really early this year! We have been to several events already, trying to get lots of use out of these costumes. I wanted to share them here, because I had a hard time finding examples of DIY Pokemon costumes for children (lots of teens and adults!), and I know lots of littles out there love Pokemon and lots of moms might find the idea of costume-making to be intimidating. :) Hopefully this post will pop up in Google the next time someone searches for "DIY Pokemon costume" ideas, and will help inspire them!

These really were fairly simple! I'm not a beginning sewer, but I'm no professional either. I spent a day or two on each of the fleece costumes (an hour or two each day, with pinning/cutting and perfecting the facial features taking the longest!). Thankfully Pokemon characters are not super finely detailed--get the eyes right, maybe some spots or a flaming tail, and the right color body...and that's it. You'll be a hit on Trick or Treat night for relatively cheap! And honestly, even if the amount I spent doesn't sound too cheap to you...homemade costumes can be a WAY better investment in the long run! Besides the fact that it's neat to be unique and not be dressed the same as anyone else, they tend to be nicer quality than store-bought; these in particular are warm, soft, made with nice fleece fabric so they will last longer than cheapy stuff. They can be passed down or sold after we're done with them, or they'll make great additions to the dress-up bin once Halloween has passed. :)

After lots of back and forth, Cameron's final choice was Ash Ketchum! Nothing super fancy, expensive, or difficult, but we did have to make multiple Ebay orders to achieve the right look. You may be able to find some of this stuff locally, but sometimes I prefer to order online and have it shipped to my door, rather than drag four kids out all over town looking for things. ::shuffle::


*I got an inexpensive collared shirt here, and bought blue cotton quilting fabric to sew onto it in the shape of a vest (something like $4 a yard, and I probably bought half a yard). I just laid the shirt onto the fabric and cut around it with about a half inch seam allowance--first the back, then the front halves, sewing the pieces together at the shoulders, then stitching them to the shirt. It is far from perfect (actually, underneath the collar the pieces aren't even sew on!), but it looks great anyway. I bought yellow binding (a couple of dollars) to add the trim to the bottom of the vest, and to create the 'pockets' look.

*For the hat, I searched Ebay for a 'red trucker hat.' It was $6 shipped. I hand-stitched the symbol on in dark green felt (I have a sizable felt collection and used scraps, but sheets are .34 at JoAnn, and sometimes go for 4/$1.00 on sale).

*For the undershirt, I couldn't find a dark teal in kid sizes, so I bought a men's Hanes t-shirt at Walmart ($8? definitely under $10) and traced one of Cam's t-shirts to create a pattern (front piece, back piece, two sleeves--cut them out so that the neck of your pattern rests on the neckline of the shirt, take advantage of that ribbing!). Didn't even bother hemming the bottom, oops. It's one of the finer details and I'm sure a navy or black or dark gray shirt would have worked JUST fine, but I am a little obsessive about the finer details sometimes. ;)

*I bought the gloves on Ebay from a costume company. I added a fleece cuff from the fabric I bought for Bulbasaur's pod, and cut the finger tips off. The seams along the fingers are starting to separate, since I cut the stitching...they will last fine for Trick or Treat and various Halloween celebrations, but I don't imagine they will last much longer!

That's it! We owned the jeans and shoes. ;) It has been chilly for our events, so he's worn a long-sleeved white shirt under it all. All together, minus what we already owned, I spent about $36 on Cam's costume! Remember that some of that total was from shipping costs from items purchased on Ebay--if you're able to find things locally, you will spend less!

Fletcher started out wanting to be Ash for Halloween, but changed his mind a few times before settling on Charmander with some encouragement from me and his big brother.


*I bought this Simplicity sewing pattern for $7 (you may find it cheaper on Ebay or Etsy!) and used the one with the round tummy for Charmander. It is not a very difficult pattern, but zippers can be tricky. Orange fleece for the body, pale yellow for the belly--fleece was on sale 40% off, so I got what I needed for about $13. I bought a zipper for around $3. I had felt scraps for the eyes and tail (I also used some yellow fleece from Pikachu's costume on the tail), and loads of elastic from other projects (but it's a couple of dollars per package).

*I just winged it on the tail--cut out two pieces in the sort of shape I wanted and sewed them together along one length, then added a strip of the pale yellow over the seam to be the underside of the tail, before sewing the second side and turning it right-side-out. It's stuffed with poly fill, as is the flame (which is two leaf-shaped pieces sewn together, with yellow and red flame-shaped pieces stitched on...nothing fancy!). I really wanted the tail to stand upright, but it flopped once I attached it to the body--a wire might work to keep it up, but really it is pretty long and might flop no matter what. I sewed the tip of the flame to the base of the hood, and it works pretty well that way! Add two tiny teeth to the front edge of the hood, and you're done! Easy and cheap, around $23 all finished (and I used the pattern again for Bulbasaur!).

Bennett knew from the beginning that he wanted to be Bulbasaur! He's always been B's favorite. :)


*I used the same pattern package I used for Fletcher's, but without the round tummy. I needed less of the accent fabric than I did for Charmander, maybe 1/8 of a yard (you could also look for felt, which would be a little cheaper). Google images helped me figure out spot shape and placement. Eyes and teeth are felt scraps. Zipper and elastic needed, same as before (will run you $5-6, although if you bought a package of elastic for Charmander, you'll have PLENTY left over for Bulbasaur!).

*For the pod, I bought 1/2 yard of green fleece and cut out four spade-type shapes and stitched them together, leaving the tops unattached. I let those bunch up and threw a few stitches in to keep them in that puckered position. I sewed a sloppy circle-ish (does not have to be pretty!) of fabric to the bottom to create a little pouch, and stuffed it with polyfill before sewing up the last of the bottom. I made some straps from blue fabric and attached those like backpack straps to the pod. I tried adding snaps, but the fleece was too thick and the snaps popped off easily as Bennett moved, so I wound up sewing the straps together. I wanted the pod to be separate so the costume is easier to wash and dry. All in all, I spent around $16 not including the pattern, since I included that in Charmander's total!

Molly (err, she has not been introduced here, but she's our new baby! lol), well...she just had to be Pikachu. :) Or, Mollychu, as the boys call her.


*Her pattern was for a lined footed sleeper with a lamb hood, size six months--I don't remember what company or number it was, but any footed, hooded sleeper pattern will do. Or, use the same pattern you used for Charmander and Bulbasaur (if you don't need feet)! It goes from size six months to 4T. I didn't do the lining for hers, except for the hood (and I only lined the hood because I wanted to add the elastic in front to keep it on her head a little better). I used black felt for her stripes, eyes, and tail and ear accents (internet pictures showed a range of colors for the stripes and tail accents...from orange-y to brown to black...I just used black since I was buying it anyway for the ears and eyes).

*For the ears and tail, I drew out 'patterns' on a sheet of paper. The tail tip is stitched to the top part of her costume (just below the hood)--that keeps it from flopping, but it doesn't normally stick straight out like in the picture. The mouth is hand-stitched, as are all of the facial features (on all of these costumes)--I just find that to be much easier than attempting to keep small bits of felt on fleece in certain spots while using a machine! The fleece was 60% blizzard fleece, and I needed about 1.5 yards, so I spent around $6 there. Plus a zipper and the black felt for about a dollar, and some smaller elastic for the wrists (the mittens fold back so her hands can be out) and hood, her costume cost me around $13 not including the pattern!

They really love their costumes, and every time they wear them they get lots of comments and compliments, from people of all ages! Little kids, teens, young adults who watched it, and parents whose kids watched it years ago! They definitely get lots of smiles when we're out and about. :)


Friday, December 20, 2013

25 days of christmas, week two

December 8th: We went to the Christmas Parade! It was super cold and some sort of half-snow/half-rain precipitation was falling, but we still had fun. Grandma and Grandpa even met us there. It was a small parade, but we saw the band play, kids in elf costumes, dogs with jingle bells on, and of course, Santa!






December 9th: Another craft day! These were supposed to become placemats, but I didn't tell the kids that. They decorated foam gingerbread houses with tons and tons (and tons) of stick-on foam pieces. It was a good fine motor activity for Fletcher, he had a much harder time peeling the backs off of these than he did with the regular stickers last week.



C's (front and back...outside and inside the house!):


The aftermath:

December 10th: Because of poor planning (err, no planning) on my part...another craft day! This time they used wintery stamps to decorate paper...and themselves, in some cases!


Cam got fancy with his, outlining them.

Fletch just colored over his. :)

December 11th: We read Christmas books! Only a few of the ones we have, since some are longer and I didn't think they'd sit for all of them at once. We read How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas, and The Spirit of Christmas. This was the first year Fletcher noticed and got a kick out of the fact that he and Fletcher Fox share a name. He thought it was pretty cool.



December 12th: Christmas videos! We borrowed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer from friends. The kids loved them! A nice, quiet day. We seem to have lost our copy of the Grinch (we can find the case, just not the disc...), so Cam especially has been anxious to see it this season.

December 13th: Cameron wrote a note to Santa, telling him what he wants for Christmas. We all bundled up and went to wait at the mall to see Santa! We were first in line and everyone waved and seemed excited, but Bennett didn't want to sit, so I sat with him.


December 14th: We visited with family who was in town for the weekend. Not really Christmas-y, but normally we would see them at Christmas, so it was a good substitute. The boys also played in (more!) snow...we have had so much this month!


Monday, December 16, 2013

big kid quotes

I haven't posted Cameron quotes for a while! He's such a big kid now, the quotes I want to remember aren't really the cute, silly ones...there's more behind them. I got these two gems so far this week.

I wore quite a bit of make-up on Sunday (well, a lot for me), for an event. Afterward, I left it on.

Cam: "Mommy, I like the color of your eyelashes!"
Me: [amazed he noticed] "Wow...thank you!"
Cam: "It looks really nice."
Me: "I'm wearing make-up today, that's why they look different."
Cam: "You should make them look like that all the time."

Then today, we went to donate some mittens and hats to W.A.R.M. When we entered the building, a lady who worked there said hello to us and asked Cameron his name. Several other employees gathered around to greet us.

Employee: [reaching for the mittens and hats] "Are those for me?"
Cam: "No, they're for the kids who don't have any mittens and hats."

I think everyone there completely melted. :)

I have a Bennett quote, too...his first?! We were at the rec center, people watching.

B: [points to a white-bearded man on the balcony] "Santa!"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

it's december again! week one

And so begins another 25 Days of Christmas! I'll go week by week this time, to avoid posting daily. :)

December 1st: We put up the tree! The kids helped in various ways...Cameron actually checked the labels on each branch, finding the right letters when we needed them. He helped spread them out a bit, too, but mostly handed them to me for that.

Fletcher carried them over to Mike.

Bennett reached into the bin and pulled out whatever he could get his hands on and carried them to Mike all out of order, creating just a bit of chaos.

They helped decorate, too, although mostly they handed ornaments to Mike and let him space things out appropriately.



December 2nd: We went to Wildlights at the zoo. It wasn't too cold, and wasn't crowded at all. Just how we like it!



We saw the whole zoo, and rode the carousel at the end. It's extra fun to ride it at night.



December 3rd: Today we mailed our Christmas cards! Well, some of them. I was basically out of stamps, so only a few went out that day. The others were addressed and waiting!


December 4th: Bad day! I hadn't planned ahead very well and we didn't really do much. I did find our countdown chain, so I hung that up. That was our only Christmas activity this day--I'll be better organized next week.

December 5th: My package arrived today from Oriental Trading Co! I bought a couple of crafts to do this month, and the big boys loved doing the sticker sheets. They each made two and had a lot of fun doing it--I was surprised Fletcher enjoyed it as much as he did. It was a nice, quiet activity and we still have a bunch left to do more later in the month.




December 6th: Today is a snow day! Nothing major yet, but we're expected to get quick a bit throughout the day. The kids played all morning and just settled in to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol. We tried watching it last year and they weren't too impressed, but so far they seem to be entertained by it--only Bennett has been walking around playing, while the other two watch.

December 7th: Today we bought supplies at the craft store, for a gift for the kids' cousin. I can't post a picture in case her mom reads the blog. :) I think it'll be cute though, and hopefully she'll like it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

moderately healthy, could-be-gluten-free spaghettios, take 2

The last time I made knock-off SpaghettiOs, I searched high and low for jarred tomato sauce (avoiding canned goods), and settled for strained tomatoes. This time I tried using fresh tomatoes.


They are awesome. Really, really good and they taste about as close as you can get to the canned stuff, without that metallic can taste (and quite as much salt).

What you need:

-30 Roma tomatoes
-4 cups water
-1 TBS garlic powder
-16 oz small pasta (like ABCs or anellini)
-2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
-3 TBS butter
-1 TBS salt
-2 cups milk

What you do:

-Broil tomatoes until they start to brown and you can easily peel them. Puree until smooth (you'll have to do this in batches, unless you have a gigantic blender!). You might want to pass the mix through a sieve here, to get rid of the seeds (I didn't). You'll also want to use a slotted spoon to scoop out the tougher chunks that don't puree (like the top of the tomato where the stem comes out).

-Combine tomato puree, water, and garlic powder in a large pot and bring to a boil.

-Add pasta and stir constantly until cooked. I had to turn the heat down quite a bit--major splatters. If using both GF and wheat pasta, check cook times--GF usually cooks faster so you might have to stagger when you add what.

-When the pasta is cooked, turn down the heat and add cheese, stirring until melted. Once melted, add milk, salt, and butter. Continue stirring until the butter melts, then remove from heat.

These are not as runny as the canned ones...I prefer them that way, as they are a little less messy when my kids eat them. You could add more milk to make them runnier, if that's what you prefer, but I assume that would interfere with the balance of spices. I froze them into muffin tins--I got 24 muffins out of it, plus a cup or two for me to eat, plus another 3-4 cups to put in the fridge! My 5-year-old eats two frozen 'muffins' for lunch almost every day--he LOVES them and I love that he's eating tomatoes. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

potty talk (consider yourself warned)

Whew. It's been two and a half months since I posted last! We have been super busy. Not really so busy I couldn't blog, but busy all the same. Spring is always a busy season...we are eager to get out and enjoy the nice weather, visit our favorite parks (and find new ones!) and meet up with friends at the zoo. We also got a pool membership this year and we're so happy we did! It's been great to have and it's not even actual summer yet. We go on weekday mornings for preschool hour (9-11am) and after dinner to get some sun and burn off some energy before bed.

This week has been especially crazy. Playdates, visits from family, the pool, the zoo...oof. Today we laid low and just went out to get Bennett's hair cut around 10. That turned into a 2-hour ordeal, what with the bank trip beforehand for cash and the hour and fifteen minute wait for the cut! By the time we left the kids were starving so we stopped for a $5 pizza at Little Ceasar's. Junk food saves the day.

I've decided this week was a good one to start potty-training-camp for Fletcher. A last ditch effort, one more try before I give up and revisit the idea in six months. Previously, I didn't consider him 'ready'...he never seems bothered by a wet or dirty diaper, he rarely tells us when he's gone (although he will answer correctly if we ask), he has never passed anything on the potty (despite sitting for up to 20 minutes at a time). We've tried offering mini marshmallows for elimination (anything, I'm not picky--I'd probably 'pay' for a fart at this point), we've bought underwear with his favorite characters on them ("We can't pee on Mr. Incredible!"), we've sat him on the potty while reading/singing/watching Ninja Turtles...nothing has worked. He doesn't want to be naked, he wants pants, he wants a diaper. I don't want to force the issue, I don't want it to be a big fight.

But. Well, a few things. A. I really want him to go to preschool this coming fall. He's already registered, and while the director has offered to refund me the registration fee if Fletcher does, in fact, not 'train' before school starts, I would love to not have to ask for that. I think he would love school, and I think he sort of needs it. Plus, his cousin and BFF might go this year, and it would be soooooooo cuuuuuuuute if they went together. (That's assuming we could get a spot in another school where his cousin would go, but that's beside the point [even though it was part of the point a second ago...stay with me].) Okay and B. I am starting to think he's a lot more 'ready' than I initially thought.

*He is fairly 'regular'...not as regular as he was as a baby/toddler, but I can usually expect him to go mid-morning at some point (we're talking #2 here). The other day at the pool he got out of the water and went to stand alone by some fountains. He pooped. I knew as soon as I saw him that's what he was doing--he doesn't necessary's more that he hides in plain view. He moves to the side and stands still, usually bent at the waist, leaning on something (in this case, a fake rock). He looks all cute and pensive until you realize what's happening. I was so annoyed because we had just gotten there. I shuffled him to the bathroom and changed him and wrapped his poopy (cloth, UGH) swim diaper in a disposable and crammed it in my beach bag, and he assured me, "I no more poop in pool!" and I took him for his word, because dammit, we had just gotten there.

Then yesterday, he was diaperless with shorts on for a couple of hours in the morning, until I eventually dressed him to leave the house. I sent him out to the garage to hop into the car and in the minute it took me to grab our snack bag for the park, he pooped. COME ON. So, I think/know, to some degree, he is holding it until it's an appropriate time. Obviously not every time--today's story coming in a bit--but twice in one week he's waited to poop until the time was...not right, but better (not in the pool/wearing a diaper).

Tonight we went on a walk--he hasn't pooped all day, and has peed only twice. This morning he was diaperless until we left for the barber, then wore a diaper for those two hours. He peed a little, but I put him down for nap without a diaper (by accident) and he woke up dry, and was dry all afternoon until he peed during dinner. On our walk, he tooted several times and spun around frantically to look and make sure nothing had come out (yep, just as funny as when dogs do it), sooo I know he needs to go. He's watching Ninja Turtles now, on the little potty. Ohpleaseohplease.

Okay. Now that I've rambled about potty training for far longer than is socially acceptable, I'll leave you (all two of you). I know you're all looking forward to my updates over the next few days. :P|

A week later...

Hmm. I really thought I had posted this, but I guess not. Anyway, not too much to update with...Fletcher DID pee on the potty twice last week (the first time he didn't realize it, the second time he popped up and told me he'd done it...progress!), but we haven't had luck with it since. Bummer. This past weekend we had dinner at Mike's parents' house, and we let Fletch go in underwear just to see what would happen. He peed in them outside and didn't even seem to notice, so. We're really up, for now. He's just not ready.

Occasionally he'll want to sit for an hour, insisting he has to go, but nothing comes out...and five minutes after he's had a diaper put on he'll pee or poop. The other day he was out back naked and dripped a few times, noticed that he dripped, but sat on the potty for half an hour with nothing coming out. What the heck?!  He's just not quite there yet! I think he subconsciously holds it (he will still go hours naked without going!)...not sure how to get past that, but my simple solution for the moment is to give up. :P I'm sincerely depressed about preschool, but oh well. It is what it is.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

so there's this tree

This one:

It's really tall and really beautiful, and we've been promising Cam for months that we'd hang a swing from one of its branches. Today, we followed through on that promise.

I say 'we,' but I had very little part in it. I called the tire store to make sure we could steal a tire from the pile outside their building. Mike bought the rope, picked up the tire, and tied it to the tree.

The rope is really long, probably as long as our house is tall. This swing gets some major air! Not that I got good pictures of the big swings--they turned out very blurry!

The kids are nuts over it. Cameron has tried several different ways to ride it...sitting with legs in, sitting with one leg in and one leg out, standing in the tire, sitting on the top, standing on the top...who knew there were so many options?

Fletcher refused to sit and threw a big fit when Mike tried to make him--but then he loved it and didn't want to get off.

Bennett is a little too small yet, but he did a little bit of climbing and car-riding and had fun anyway.