Thursday, November 30, 2023

an apple a day

We had a free weekend at the end of September, so I gave Mae a few activity choices. She selected apple-picking! We went to a slightly closer orchard this year that also happens to be right near a state park. We decided to pick apples and then take a picnic lunch to the park! The weather was beautiful (if only a little too warm to truly feel like fall.)
Usually we're so late in the apple season that it takes us a while to find ones that are good enough to pick. This year, we were a lot earlier and the trees were LOADED with apples. That made it especially fun for Colin since he could actually reach a lot of them. He eats AT LEAST one apple a day, usually as soon as he gets home from day care.
By the time we got to the park, it was even warm enough for Mae and Colin to take off their shoes and play in the water. It was so relaxing just hanging out on the beach, kids playing in the sand, beautiful blue skies, the earliest hints of fall color in the trees. Then the kids fought, and I yelled at them, and it was time to go home.
Back at home, we made an apple pie crisp. Mae and Colin took turns using the peeler/corer/slicer, which makes pie prep much easier. Unfortunately, Colin is now obsessed with the tool and demands that his daily apple be peeled/cored/sliced and served in a bowl, complete with the pile of peel "worms." At least he does the work himself (as long as I set it up and put the apple on it and wash it afterwards.)
What else have we been up to this fall? Colin just finished his soccer season. He liked doing drills but was not a huge fan of playing in the little scrimmages. He spent about 10% of the time on the field playing soccer and 90% of the time playing with sticks on the sidelines. At least I got one good action shot of him with a ball. He even scored a goal during his last game!
We also continued our tradition of going to the Renaissance Festival. The biggest hits were probably the horseback/archery performance, the various acrobat shows, and the giant maze. Mae actually had the patience to solve the maze this year and didn't just cheat by going underneath the panels. She also enjoyed the pirate show but got freaked out once the "gunfire" started. And she thought the mud show was hilarious... until she got splattered with mud. Next year we'll bring ponchos!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

lord of the rings baby mobile

I was so excited for Colleen and Bobby when they announced their pregnancy, but I might have been equally excited when they requested a Lord of the Rings baby mobile. I love designing baby mobiles, and this was such a fun challenge! I spent lots of time researching costumes and props, designing the characters, making templates, and choosing a color palette. My phone camera roll was just movie screenshots of LoTR characters for several weeks!
Colleen and Bobby requested Frodo, Gandalf, Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas. I think Gimli and Legolas were my favorite pieces to create. I love their braided details, and Legolas' pointy ears are so cute.
I chose Gandalf the Grey (not the White), because of his cool hat. I was actually able to rework some of my previous designs for these pattern pieces. I modified Dumbledore's beard and the Scarecrow's hat. I did my best to copy the lettering onto the one ring, but I did make one small typo (embroidery-o?). If you happen to read Mordor Elvish, please let me know if it translates to something funny now.
Aragorn's cloak is double-sided so the red only shows from the front. I loved that detail in the movie costumes. I made the tiny ring that hangs around Frodo's neck from a real gold link from an old necklace. It was forged around an awl in my craft room instead of in the fires of Mount Doom, though.
For accessories I made Aragorn's crown, Legolas' bow, Frodo's sword "Sting" (complete with blue "glow" to warn of nearby orcs), and Gimli's axe! I assembled everything to a simple mobile arm that can be clipped to a crib or hung from a hook.
I love how it turned out, and it looks so cute in the nursery!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

whirlwind weekend

In the middle of September, I accomplished one of the most complicated travel schedules of my life. It involved over 400 miles driving/riding/ubering in a car, 4 miles of walking, and about 1300 miles of flying. But it all went smoothly, and I made it to all my events!

On Friday we met mom and dad at an outdoor venue at a winery for a dueling pianos performance. Mae loved the music (especially the Taylor Swift songs), and we had to tear her away from the dance floor at bed time. Colin spent most of the evening playing ball with Dad on the hill. He was easy to spot even after it got dark because of his light-up (“lightning”) shoes.

Saturday we drove to Notre Dame for the game against Central Michigan. We had a little tailgate party with snacks and drinks in the field where we parked. Mae and Colin had their tailgate literally in the tailgate.
We walked to the bookstore to get "The Shirt" for Mae. It was her first football game, and she really enjoyed it! I was worried she’d get bored in the second half (and wanted to end on a high note for her), so I let her leave at half time and she met Mom and Colin at the nearby playground.
After the game, we went to mass at the basilica (Colin was literally climbing the walls.) Dan went back to Indy with the kids for the night, and I hitched a ride to Chicago with Kelsey and Will to catch a flight out early Sunday. I got to see their new apartment, and I can't wait to go back and enjoy the view in the daytime! I woke up at 3:30 am and was on my flight by 7:30 to make it to Colleen's baby shower later that day. Bobby picked me up and we had a fantastic lunch while Colleen finished getting ready.

The shower was fun, and it was lovely to see friends and family for the first time since Colleen and Bobby's wedding last summer! The weather was a little drizzly, but they had a tent set up in the backyard that was surrounded by grape vines! (I spent a lot of time taking photos of grapes.)
I was so relieved that Colleen and Bobby's baby gift arrived in time. They requested a Lord of the Rings baby mobile for the nursery, which was super fun to design and make! I finished stitching and photographing it Wednesday morning before the shower and then shipped it out, since I didn’t have room in my carry-on! More detailed photos to come!

Monday, November 27, 2023

catching up

I am taking the week off work to catch up on, well, everything. Including the blog! I'm aiming for one post a day this week! Now back to where we left off: end of the summer.

Our annual street party was lots of fun this year. Unfortunately, Mae came down with strep the day of the party and wasn't able to attend! I left her inside with my cell phone, and she got a huge kick out of texting me throughout the event (her messages in blue).
Once she was back on her feet, we shipped her and Colin off to Grandma and Grandpa's house for the half week before school started. They got to do lots of fun things like going to the zoo and the Children's Museum! I'm so glad Mae's antibiotics worked quickly.
School started Thursday and Mae is officially a second-grader! She likes her teacher, has a few friends in her class, and has really enjoyed her extracurriculars: choir and Lego Club! She graduated from an iPad to a laptop this year and is already learning typing. (The flamingo backpack is still hanging in there.)
Mae's case of strep disrupted our plans to visit the Indiana State Fair before school started, but we still managed a day trip the weekend after. Both kids loved seeing all the farm equipment, "driving" the combine simulator, and walking through the interactive kids farm.
At the end of the kids farm, you "sell" the items from your farm and get play money that you can use to buy a package of chips, juice, etc. It was so hot, I was sure the kids would choose juice or a snack, but Colin chose milk. MILK. I couldn't stop quoting Anchor Man, "Milk was a bad choice." He also begged for corn, which seemed like a much more appropriate fair-food choice to me. (The corn pizza I got was the best thing I ate all day.)
To celebrate the beginning of the year, Mae's school district offered discount tickets to see our local MLS team's reserve squad. It was a great chance to see the stadium (our first visit) with discount food and a bunch of Mae's friends. We had a lot of fun!