Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Settling in

Well, now that I'm starting to feel like we're getting back into the swing of things around here... (it only took a week) I thought I'd take this (rare) quiet opportunity to post some highlights from our trip to see family in Utah.

Aunt A, Uncles C and J, cousin A, the kids and I went to the zoo.  Bug insisted that he wanted to see the zebras and the bears mots of all, but when we got there the bear wing was under construction and the zebras had died mysteriously (no, I'm not kidding.)  Bug was afraid of everything - including but not limited to his shadow.
afraid of the elephants

He spent a large majority of the time being carried around by a very accommodating uncle C.  (thank you!)
looking at the birds

Here he is enjoying the ONE exhibit that didn't make him cry, whimper, run, cover his eyes, or panic in other ways.
"well, this one's not so bad!"

I don't even know what this is.  We also went to an animal show, where bug refused to pet ANYTHING and cried about the snake.
at the animal show

mini enjoyed her first taste of ice scream

and is now an addict.

And it's my fault.  Meanwhile, bug fed HIS ice scream to the chair and table.

Oh, and got a little in his mouth.

The high point was the train ride.
the whole gang in the train

Well, I THOUGHT that was the high point... in the car on the way home:
me: bug, what did you see at the zoo today?
bug: I see... I see... bears!
me: um... ok.  What else did you see?
bug: Ice cream!
me:  But what was your favorite?
bug: I see... zebas!!
me: really?  Anything else?
bug: rectangles?

So, bug's favorite parts of the zoo were two things he didn't see, something to eat and a bunch of signs (apparently).
three little monkeys... he wouldn't look at it until uncle J did

Apparently he wants to be a giraffe

The seven of us also took a trip to a place called Pirate Island - food, arcade, play land and FUN for all.  This is bug refusing to eat.

He played lots of arcade games
Throwing the ski ball


on the little carousel with cousin A

 while mini joined a pirate band and took to the seven seas.

They also rode on a little train at bug's insistence.

We coerced mr's parents into going to a water park with us.  Here is mini's very first trip into the pool.

 I think she likes it!

But bug was terrified.  (could we expect anything else?  The scaredy pants...)  We forced him down a few water slides (on our laps) anyway.  For days afterward he asked to go down water slides...

Oh.  And if you're wondering where mr was during all the fun, here's a shot of him running the 188 mile relay race which was the main reason we went to UT.  He ran on a team with his parents, along with many of his aunts, uncles and some cousins, and this is how he spent most of his vacation:

And on the way home?  Well, here we are during our second (yes, 2nd) layover during our delayed flight.  

Why was our plane delayed, you ask?  Weather?  Nope - it's summertime, it was beautiful weather.  Refueling?  Nope - just a routine trip from MCI to MKE.  Well, what?  Cracked windshield?  Dog got loose?  What?  

A flight attendant didn't show up for work and no one knew where she was.  They didn't have a backup.  We had to wait for a different plane carrying a flight attendant who could hop on with us.

At least we had time to play cars.  bug was content.

We had a really great time with family!  Now.  If only I can catch up on the laundry and get my internal clock set ahead, I'll be in business!


I’m finally an American.

No, I’m not a foreigner who recently moved to the US and just passed my citizenship test to become a true blue, through and through American.  
Yes, I have lived in the US for going on 29 years.  I was born and bred in the northern midwest and have lived here my whole life minus the two year stint I had in Utah.  
So why am I just now an American?
Well, from all outward appearances, one would assume my hubby and I are not patriotic people.  This is the kind of entirely wrong assumption that got the word “assume” its cute little ditty... “when you assume, you make an...” - well, you know.  
We love our country.  We love our freedoms and our rights.  We love the constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  We respect our leaders and those who serve and protect us.  But (get ready for a shocking confession here) we do not own an American flag.
We lived in apartments when we were first married which seemed to lack a flag-hanging space.  We bought our house, and it came completely bereft of flag-hanging   But this was 2 years ago... so what’s the hold-up?  
Well, I’ve only been “on my own” for the four years that we’ve been married.  Meaning I haven’t had much time to build up my stock of holiday tchotchke.  I’ve tried to work on it slowly so as not to overwhelm mr with all of the holiday necessities we are still missing.   He has no idea that you need a different door hanging for Valentine's, St. Patrick's, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Easter, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter, June and September.  He also has no idea that you need other holiday inspired decor for each of the above mentioned holidays and more sprinkled throughout your entire house.  And he’s oblivious to the fact that storage space for each said trinket and hanging is secondary and, dare I say it, trivial.  
My front door looked like this:
And it was sad.  It knew a holiday was coming and felt distinctly underdressed.  
So I set to work making what I call:

What I really wanted to do was something like this:
or this:

but I don’t have a saw or many of the necessary tools to create these works of beauty... I started to wonder if I DID have anything hanging around that could be put to 4th of July use?
Amazingly, I found a few things I think work perfectly.  If you’d like to create something like what I made above, you’ll need:
8 paint stir sticks
an old hard cover book (like from the 60’s or something...)
red, white and blue scrapbook paper
a paper cutter
mod podge (ha!) and brush
a cropadile (or other hole puncher that is heavy duty)
(not pictured):
a measuring implement of some sort (ruler, dot marker, etc) and marking implement of some sort (marker, pencil, etc.)
thick beading wire
Something sharp and pointy to poke tiny holes with (sorry, I don’t know what to call the actual tool.  I feel kind of dumb...)
white fabric

Just a note: Part of the charm of this project is that it isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  It’s kind of distressed in a crafty chic kind of way.  (At least that’s what I like to think) This is why I used subtly patterned paper - for a little texture - and multiple different patterns per color.  And that’s why this was a good project for me.  No perfection required!
Cut your red and white paper into long strips, altering the width.  
Take the long strips and cut them into three or four short pieces per strip.

Smear mod podge along one side of a stir stick.
Pick a color and lay those strips down on the stir stick, placing each strip right up against the last. 
Keep doing this all the way down the strip until it is covered.
Turn it over.  Trim the ends of the strips so that when they are folded in they don’t hang over the edge of the stick.
Smear mod podge down the back of the stir stick.
Fold down each strip on one side of the stick.
Smear mod podge over the top.
Fold down each strip on the other side of the stick.
Smear one more layer of mod podge over the top for good measure.  (and to seal)
Set aside.
Do this with 7 more strips - four red, four white.
When you’re done, and they are all dry, flip them over to the front (the side WITHOUT the seams where the strips were folded down) and mod podge over the tops of each to seal.
They look like this:
Rip off the front cover of the old book.  (I know, I know.  I desecrate books.  It’s nothing personal.)

Lay this down on some blue paper.
Mark where to cut the paper to fit around the cover.
Cut the paper to size.
Smear mod podge on the book cover.
Place this down on the blue paper about an inch from the top and press firmly.
Mod podge the flap of blue paper on the top down onto the cover.
Mod podge the bottom of the paper up onto the cover.
Mod podge over the whole thing to seal it, front and back (waiting for each side to dry before flipping).
Using the cropadile, punch a hole in the middle of book cover on the top side (this is how you will hang it on your door).
Take your pointy, pokey tool thing and poke two little holes just under this larger hole to either side of it.
Take a short piece of thick beading wire and poke the ends through the little holes from front to back of the cover.  Twist the ends together on the back.
Cut a strip of white fabric about two inches wide and four or five inches long and tie the ends in a double knot.
Thread this through the larger hole and tuck the section on the front of the cover through the loop of fabric strip poking through the back.

Using a measuring implement of some sort and a marking implement of some sort (I used a hole guide and a marker.  Imagine that.) Measure and mark where you will punch holes in the top of every stir stick.

Punch the holes with the cropadile.
Line your sticks up in order under the book cover.  Place them exactly where you want them to go.  Use the hole guide (or ruler) and marker to measure and mark where you will punch holes in the cover in order for them to line up with the holes in the sticks.

Punch the holes with the cropadile.
Cut your fabric into strips - about one inch wide.

Take a strip and poke one end into the hole in a stir stick from back to front.
Poke the other end of the fabric strip through the corresponding hole in the book cover from back to front.  
Adjust the stick to the desired position.
Tie the fabric strip in a double knot.
Repeat this process with the seven other sticks.
Trim the ends of the fabric.
Add some vinyl stars you cut out with your sister’s cricut.  (or embellish in some other way...)
And this is how it looks!  Not bad, huh?
But here’s where the “Nonpartisan” part comes into play... and where you will use that little wire loop you created on the top of the book cover.
Considering I don’t have much in the way of decorations, I just can’t commit to one design.  There are so many different ways to beautify this project, I couldn’t pick one.  So I didn’t.  I remained completely uncommitted.  I created four more designs.  Want to know how? (sorry I didn't get pictures of this part...)
To do this part, you’ll need:
red fabric
one more old book PLUS the back cover of the first old book you already destroyed 
blue scrapbook paper
Vinyl lettering (via the cricut)
white buttons of various shapes, sizes and persuasions
3 white paper doilies
a lime green star Christmas tree ornament
white paint 

Rip the covers off the old book.  
Cut each cover so that it is slightly smaller than the first book cover which is already in use.
Smear them with mod podge.
Cover them with blue paper in different shades and subtle patterns using mod podge.
Smear them with mod podge again to seal.
Using the cropadile, punch a hole in the tops of the book covers, in the middle.
Cut out three strips of red fabric, about an inch wide.
Poke one end of a fabric strip through the holes in the book covers.  Do NOT tie them in a knot.
For the doily “stars”:
Take a doily and scrunch it up into a flower shape - kind of smooshing the sides up so when you look down on it, it’s kind of a “t” shape.
Dab some hot glue on the underside of the “flower” shape, at the point.
Press firmly down onto the book cover.  
Dab some hot glue on the inside of the doily and scrunch the sides together so it makes a rosette shape.
Repeat this with the other two doilies.
For the button “stars”:
Using hot glue, glue your buttons down onto the book cover in a random pattern.
For the letters:
Pick a patriotic phrase and cut it out of wall vinyl with your sister’s cricut (or yours, if you’re lucky enough to have one).  I made one word larger so it would stand out.
Stick them right to the book cover in a spacing you like.  Press down firmly.  Mod podge over the top.
The last design is the easiest.  I simply took the ribbon off the lime green star ornament and painted it white. 
NOW, after creating the alternate designs, you can attach them to the original pennant.  

Poke the red fabric strip on one of the alternate designs through the wire loop on the top of the pennant.  
Tie in a single knot, so it’s tight enough to hold, but loose enough to untie easily so you can switch out the designs when you want to.
(note: for the single star ornament, I flipped the pennant around and hung it on the back so it lays against a plain blue background and not the vinyl stars

And there you have it!  One project, with five different looks!  It’s very flip-floppy.  A very noncommittal, nonpartisan flag for you.  And all from stuff you’ve got laying around!
I think this one is my favorite.

And this was my view as I left the house to run to a meeting at church tonight.  We’re now, officially, Americans!

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