A Camping First

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I grew up camping. After all, who puts 10 kids in a hotel when they can let them run around the woods, my parents were smart, so, for the most part, when we traveled we camped. For the most part I loved camping, even the few times we got flooded out it made for good stories later. Then for two summers during college I worked at Philmont Scout Ranch where I literally lived in a tent the entire summer and those are some of my fondest memories.

Wallaby on the other hand was almost 2 and had never been camping! An overnight camp out with the grandparents and a couple of cousins was just what he needed, the perfect trial run. Not that I worried about him enjoying himself—he prefers being outside to anything else. Sadly, The Grizzly Kid had to work, but that meant that Wallaby and I could travel light and bunk together in my 2 man tent.

Friday we headed for the pine trees of Arizona (they do exist) and ended up camping right here around 7,ooo feet in elevation, so the temperature was gorgeously cool—something I had been desperately missing here in the valley. Wallaby was in heaven the second we got out of the car.

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While the rest of us got the tents set up and gear unpacked, the boys got right to exploring the woods and getting dirty.  Exhibit A: A boy and his pile of dirt, happy as can be.

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My oldest nephew even brought a hammock to set up. Which was thoroughly enjoyed by all, don’t let that stoic face fool you, Wallaby was in love and wanted to do nothing but climb in and out and swing in it—maybe we need one for the backyard.

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Look at this dirty face, and I mean that literally since he face planted in the dirt. A couple of times. Also note the pink mark on his forehead where he hit a dirt clod.

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It took him a while to get used to the rougher terrain, but he didn’t fall at all on day two. For dinner we used a tiny camp stove for a single pot of chili to pour on fritos, which is probably my favorite camp meal. I know that tin foil dinners are more traditional, but too much work and they always end up taking longer than expected—I’d rather spend my time exploring.

We ended the day with the classic campfire and s’mores. Worn out, Wallaby and I fell asleep shortly after dark—who wears a watch in the woods?—cuddled up in flannel pajamas and sleeping bags. I awoke a while later to the sound of heavy rain splattering the tent and wind pulling leaves from the tree branches, slid Walt back onto his pillow, felt around for leaks or puddles, and fell back asleep. And repeated that every time the rain started up again. I did wake once to elk calling nearby—our only encounter with any wildlife.  Otherwise an uneventful night. We woke in the morning to deep gray clouds and more rain, but with a couple of cars and some snacks we made a morning of it in the tent in a perfect pile of blankets and pillows.

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Thankfully the rain ended and we ventured out for the best childhood breakfast, personal sized cereal boxes, donuts, and hot chocolate.

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It was a chilly morning, but little Arizona man is not used to wearing layers and kept tugging at his long selves, and did  not want to wear a coat. To get him to put the hat on took bribery, flattery and then immediate distraction in the form of sugary cereal. In fact the hat stayed on his head for about as long as it took him to finish off that box. I did manage to snap about a hundred photos of him in it during that time. This one being my favorite.

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We played for a couple of hours and wanted to stay longer but the clouds looked threatening, so we packed up and headed out to have a picnic at Montezuma’s Castle which was only about 30 minutes from our campsite. The drive down from the mountains was beautiful and the giant groups of yellow wildflowers were surreal.

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After a lunch with begging squirrel we took the short walk around the remains of the Sinagua  peoples’ hard work.

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I even managed to not only get in a photo with Walt, but he even smiled for the camera!

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After the short tour we headed home, but the rain clouds caught up to us, making 2pm look like sunset, and the rain was so heavy in parts that cars were pulling off the freeway waiting for it to clear.

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It still blows me away, even with all the rain we have been having, that Arizona can be this green with a vegetation made up of sage and saguaro cacti.

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It was a lovely short trip. I enjoyed exploring a new area and seeing Walt enjoy camping so much. Hopefully the next camping trip will be soon!

Packing List

Last week was lovely. The Grizzly Kid turned 27, and boy was he surprised when his sister and sister-in-law  just walked in the front door around dinner time, having driven all day to be there! And boy was I relieved because keeping such a big secret from him for 2 months of planning was crazy stressful! So many times I turned to him to say, “What should we do when Lindsay and Starling get here?” only to bite my tongue. Plus you should have seen me the morning of his birthday running around washing sheets, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and excusing my behavior by saying the cleaning bug hit me, or I’m washing the sheets on the guest bed for my sister to come next week (true story) so I may as well wash my parent’s and the bed in Walt’s room too (yeah, I’m not usually that nice, but I needed more beds ready!) The Grizzly Kid spent the next couple days occasionally saying things like, this is why you bought more groceries than normal! and I don’t know what was more surprising—my ability to be sneaky, or his inability to be suspicious of my actions.

So last week we played! We went to the Phoenix Art Museum, which has a surprising collection, including a Monet, a couple pieces from Picaso, and Georgia O’Keeffe, plus this awesome dinosaur. Wallaby was scared to go near it on our way into the museum but on our way out he walked right up, touched it, and then walked off with a look of satisfaction on his face.

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We were also sure to take our esteemed guests to Wallaby and The Grizzly Kid’s favorite place in the valley, the McCormick-Stillman Train Park. Batman cleaned up the wild west.

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And we rode the train, of course.

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Then there was a picnic for Batman who was enthralled at the super hero birthday party going on next with all those kids in costume too .

IMG_8652We cooled off in the model train building, and then these two had to ride the train again. True excitement on the face of one and pure concentration on the face of the other. You’d think based on this photo that Wallaby didn’t enjoy the ride, but the second it ended he would start saying, “again, again.”

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And while the train park was the highlight of the week for the boys, I loved the night I got away with my favorite sister-in-laws for a Ballet Under the Stars program put on by the community that was truly incredible, such talent!

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It was sad to say good-bye to them, and we are ever so grateful for their effort to come visit!

As for this week, it has been busy, but not overwhelming, which is my favorite kind of time passing—I accomplish far more when I know my time is restricted. Plus my sister Kelly had a break from school and came to visit (thanks for sparing her Josh! I don’t think The Grizzly Kid and I spent even a night apart in the first 2 years of our marriage, but that’s because we are home bodies.)

Today we watched my brother’s 4 older kids while the new baby arrived at the hospital! Mom and baby boy to be named did great and labor went quickly, but the best was showing the photo to the kids at home and their responses. The oldest boy was simply dying to have the baby named already. The youngest (almost two, and just 4 days older than Wallaby) saw the photo and said “awwww!”, I told her that this was her baby and he was going to go home with them, and she said “I want him home” and both Wallaby and E asked to hold the baby and then were just looking at the photo and giggling. I asked the 3 year old what he thought of his new baby brother and he said nothing so I pressed, “Isn’t he cute?” and he responded, “Yes, but he is going to cry a lot.” Haha, probably so, but he really is darling! so pink and healthy.

To continue the week of fun we are going on an overnight camp out with my parents, Wallaby’s first! all while The Grizzly Kid has to work, so I’ll be sure to take loads of pictures. Really I am just falling to pieces thinking about the fact that I will get to wear jeans and a sweater! if only for a day before returning back to the heat of the valley.

Then there is the little gathering the ladies of our family will be doing Saturday evening to enjoy this uplifting conference.  I am hoping to have returned from camping in time to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, we shall see…

What does your weekend look like?

Flood Day

It’s officially a magical day. At least, for our family it is, because we are stuck at home safe and dry together despite the massive flooding that happened all over Arizona last night.  “The National Weather Service recorded 2.99 inches of rain by about 7 a.m., breaking the old record of 2.91 inches set in 1933.”(abc news) The freeways are closed, as are most of our local roads, so The Grizzly Kid called in to work and we get to play today instead.

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This is what most of the roads around us looked like this morning, and here is the view down the other side of the road, a ditch that is usually nothing but dust.

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The best though, was waking up this morning and looking out the window to the park across the street. The park usually looks like this, where we had our Easter egg hunt, and note the slope behind Wallaby.

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But the park instead looks like this with at least 4 feet of water covering the basin.

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The entire school district closed for flooding so we saw kids out in droves today playing in every new pond around the neighborhood.

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My favorite though, was this guy, he made me wish I had a little boat too.

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I love a day where something extraordinary happens and the whole world stops.

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I love the 74 degree weather this storm brought, because we won’t see temperatures like that for another month. Wallaby loved getting to go to the playground during the middle of the day *gasp!*

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Wallaby has even started pulling his superhero figures back into their toy house because it is too “hawt” outside. Apparently that’s something he has heard a lot this summer. But today is different.

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So we play and we puddle jump

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and we hope for another amazing, world stopping day real soon.

 

Music for a Holiday

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According to Facebook, everyone and their dogs, and tiny babies, all went hiking for Labor Day. Apparently everyone was reveling in the cooler weather that September brings … for them. With high of 105 today, we are still in full summer hibernation mode. We did make it out to a 5k this morning, in which we partook of the pancake breakfast, but not the running, and there was some wandering of the mall—main attractions being the Lego store and the Disney store, because The Grizzly Kid is 7 at heart. Plus we made a post sun down run to the store for just about every flavor of Blue Bell ice cream that exists. Oh, and Wallaby made a balloon friend, so overall a great day!

With all the time we spend inside in this heat, we try our hardest to limit little Wallaby’s screen time, so we play a lot, and while we play we pretty much always have music on in the background. Here is what has been on repeat in our house. (These are mostly my choices, besides Girls Chase Boys, which is The Grizzly Kid’s … honest.)

And then there is The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack whick is so very good—the movie was great, in large part because of the music.

 

What are you listening too lately? Perhaps I’ll get The Grizzly Kid to guest post his top music picks.

 

 

Favorites from Around the Web

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Happy Friday to us all. Here are some beautiful time wasters that I really enjoyed this week and maybe you will too. My weekend is looking pretty relaxing with a party to look forward to tomorrow night. I hope your weekend will be lovely and I am also hoping for some more rainstorms like last week to cool down this 108 degree weather!

How true is this video of things children do that are unacceptable for adults to do. It’s a riot. His slide off the table really makes me laugh.

This photo series is lovely. These old photos made me smile, but also leave me thinking that society has become far too casual.

Another photo series proving that  strong women have been defying stereotypes since the beginning, so why do we even have stereotypes?

How adorable is this mudroom, complete with snack bar? This is on my dream house list.

Boden does it again with this perfect peplum top, but it’s only in junior sizes, so I think I will have to make my own just like it.

This article about the North Pond Hermit who lived in the woods in Maine for 27 years! is fascinating (but kind of long, make sure you have time). Honestly though, I hope this Hermit writes a book, just look at how he talks!

 

 

DIY Blue Ribbon

I have this problem where I finally get my pictures onto the computer and edited and then just assume that the blog post got written. Here is my belated post on making prize ribbons like you’d win at a fair, or in my case for a family pie contest on the Fourth of July.

DIY Prize Ribbons  I  Wildfire KissesI was originally planning on just buying some, but couldn’t find them anywhere! The morning of the festivities I decided to attempt making my own, and they turned out to be surprisingly simple.

Supplies: 

1 inch ribbon (I used grosgrain)

Cardstock

Stapler

Fabric to match your ribbon

Hot glue gun

 

Directions: 

1. Cut 3, 2.5-3 inch circles from your cardstock. I traced the bottom of a cup and my circles were 2 3/4 inches.

2. Grab a cardstock circle and your ribbon. (I didn’t measure how much ribbon I used, I simply pulled from the spool until I was finished.)  Create a small fold in the ribbon and staple that fold down to the edge of the cardstock circle. Repeat until the circle of ribbon is complete.

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End with the ribbon folded to the back and overlapping the first fold to make it look continuous and so the raw edges of ribbon are visible only on the back. Cut the end of the ribbon and set this circle aside.

3. Grab a second circle and trim to fit inside the ribbon circle while still covering the staple tops. Like so.

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2. Take that slightly smaller circle and cut a circle of fabric about 1/2 an inch wider around than your carstock circle. Like so:

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Clearly perfection is over rated.

3.  Use the hot glue to attach the fabric to the back off the circle, making sure to keep the front fabric taunt.

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Just keep folding the fabric over and gluing it down.

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4. Apply hot glue to the back of the fabric covered circle and place on top of the ribbon circle, covering the top of the staples.

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You’ve now completed the hardest parts and are almost done!

5.  Turn your completed ribbon top over and cut a second length of ribbon to attach to the back  leaving the ends as long as you want Overlap the middle of the ribbon to create the angle between the two ribbon ends that you want and hot glue it down.

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6. The final step is to simply hot glue the final cardstock circle over the back of the ribbon top giving it a clean and finished look!

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There you have it, a prize ribbon that took probably about 25 minutes to make (that’s with a toddler trying to “help”). And just for reference—because I had to look it up—Blue is first place, Red is second, and yellow or white are used for third.

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The white clearly ended up being my favorite, because I ran out of plain white ribbon and used polka dots to finish it off.  Maybe you can have your own pie/costume/pumpkin contest this fall and make your own ribbons!

Teddy Smocked Romper

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One of the best parts of our trip to Utah was getting to meet my best friend’s baby boy! He was only two weeks old, and I miss getting to see him every day now that I’m back home, so thank goodness for social media! I wanted to make him something special, so I tried my hand at this mock two piece romper from an old pattern my mom has had and used for years. I was honestly trailing threads to Utah to finish sewing this in time, The Grizzly Kid did all of the driving on the way up and I sat and finished all the hand sewing and finishing touches that needed to be done. Last minute work is my forte. And if you want an overview of how I made it, then read on, if not, you’ve caught the gist of this post and can move on with your day!

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I wanted to add a single smocked teddy bear to the front since his name is Theodore (Teddy), but that that meant I couldn’t run the whole piece through the pleater, so I had to hand pleat a section which was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. The closest smocking plate in my mum’s stash was this little sailor bear, which is adorable, but not quite what I wanted.

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Instead I altered him a bit as you can tell later, but first I had to creates my pleats for the smocking.

 

 

 

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I just took a large section of fabric, and used a needle and  thread and picked  up a stitch every five lines (the photo above shows every third, but that meant the pleats weren’t deep enough so I redid it after this sample two rows). It’s clear that I am new at this hand pleating and my stitches were not perfect, but it turned out fine as the stitches are hidden later.

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I measured the the number of rows of stitching I needed to the number of rows that the sailor bear pattern called for and once you have enough rows you simply pull each end of the threads and gather the pleats like so! All too easy, just rather time consuming.

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From there I smocked on my little bear! It’s such fun to see the picture come together even though your stitches are uneven and wobbly, no need to be perfect to tackle a new project!

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I love how this little guy looks like he is walking off on an adventure. I switched him from a sailor bear to a more classic teddy, with a longer sleeve, and french knots for buttons to make it look like a coat instead. And here you can see how big a piece of fabric I used to stitch him onto, I was too paranoid to cut until I had the pattern laid out on top of my smocking. IMG_7905

Better safe than sorry,  measure twice cut once, and all that other play it safe stuff is my middle name. From there I just followed the pattern instructions to cut out and sew up the romper! Well all except the front seam where I was placing the teddy bear and therefore couldn’t put a seam there, so instead I used the pattern to sew a seam up to the bottom of the pleats, which worked out great as it took out some of the extra fullness the pleating creates.

Et voila! the finished product, which honestly turned out far better than I expected, haha. I mean I have only done one other picture smocking project here, but that was over a year ago and I had so much help from my mum who sewed the whole romper part. This I did all on my own!

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Who doesn’t love a baby in old-fashioned clothes? I mean have you seen my pinterest board? I live for this style. Especially for peter pan collars.

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Not to mention dainty little baby sized buttons up the back of the outfit.

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Sadly, the outfit is on the bigger range of 0-3 month size and Mr. T was born a bit smaller than that, but plumping up nicely! So he hasn’t gotten to wear it yet, but perhaps when it fits we can get him to consent to model it and send us a picture, because the only thing cuter than a old school outfit is a darling baby in said outfit.