Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Sewing Projects

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How To Train Your Dragon: Toothless Hooded Towel

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a welcome gift and a free monthly subscription. However, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.  

One of my favorite emails each month is my Netflix #StreamTeam email telling me what's going to be new on Netflix for the upcoming month. Is that lame? I don't really care. We watch a lot of Netflix in our house! In my email last month, I spotted this and got super excited:  

NEW ON NETFLIX for kids and families

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1. Monster High: Haunted (3/10)
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (3/11)
3. Inspector Gadget (3/27)
4. SUPER 4 (4/10)

Do you see it? Yes, that's How To Train Your Dragon 2! The kids and I both loved the first How to Train Your Dragon movie and frequently watch the Dragon shorts that are available on Netflix. Mike and I went to see the second movie during our anniversary weekend away last summer and absolutely loved it. The kids hadn't seen it yet so last week we had a family movie night to watch it. They enjoyed seeing all of their favorite characters in new exciting adventures. If you have young kids or a sensitive older one, please be aware that this film features a death scene of a main character and then highlights a viking funeral. A friend of mine said she isn't sure she was going to show it to her kids yet because she didn't want them thinking they needed to put anything that dies on a boat and then shoot it with flaming arrows! Please watch these scenes before to determine if they are appropriate for your kiddos.

If your kids are wanting more dragon adventure, Netflix has a fun new series just for them! On June 26th, Netflix is releasing an all new action packed Dragons series called DreamWorks Dragons: Race to the Edge. Available only on Netflix, this series will feature Hiccup and Toothless in their quest to explore strange new worlds, seek out never-before-seen dragons and end the war between Vikings and dragons once and for all. Check out the teaser now:

Connor is especially obsessed with dragons right now and to celebrate all of the fun How to Train Your Dragon fun on Netflix, I decided to make him a Toothless Hooded Towel.
How To Train Your Dragon Hooded Towel

I used a tutorial found here to create the towel but used my embroidery machine to create his eyes. Check out the tutorial for detailed instructions but here is an overview of the steps:

1 black body towel
1 black hand towel
Green fabric or felt for the eyes
Black thread

1. Cut the hand towel in half. Save the other portion for the ears and horns.

2. Fold the finished end of the towel over 3-4 inches and sew in place.

3. Cut eye shapes from the felt and applique using you sewing machine's zig zag stitch or use an embroidery machine. I used this dragon eye design with my embroidery machine.

4. Using the other half of hand towel, create ears and horns. Follow the Crazy Little Projects tutorial for creating and attaching them.

5. Sew the back of the head together to create the hood.

6. Sew the hood to the towel.

7. Try to convince your two year old to take it off!

He has decided he needs to wear it everywhere and won't let Grace try it on. Now I want to try to make a Stormfly one for her. I hope your family enjoys all of the great How to Train Your Dragon offerings on Netflix this summer!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grace's Spring Preschool Program

Grace is about to finish her first year at preschool and I'm so amazed by how much she's learned and changed in the past 9 months. My shy girl who didn't have much interest in talking a year ago now talks our ears off and tells us all about her friends at school. It's been an amazing transformation and I am so proud of her.

When we went for her Christmas program this past winter I fully expected her to shut down and refuse to participate when she went on stage. At previous ballet watch weeks she would have a meltdown when in front of an audience so I was pleasantly surprised when she happily sang and danced along with her class. She was so proud of herself and couldn't wait to do it again. She got her chance again on Tuesday night at their spring program. The kids had full control over what they wanted to wear and of course if you give Grace an option, she will pick the fanciest dress in her closet. She was thrilled when she got to wear her Easter dress (the pinkest, frilliest, sparkliest dress she could find when Grandma offered to get her one). She stood by her best friend in her class and sang her little heart out. Her classes main song was called "I took a bath in a washing machine". It was so cute and the teachers even added bubbles to make it more fun.

My parents were able to come into town to watch and she was so excited to see everyone that came to see her perform. She is already asking when she gets to do it again and isn't happy when I tell her she'll have to wait until the fall. She keeps saying "two more weeks? Or three? Let's do it again!" With a January birthday she has one more year of preschool and I can't imagine how much more she's going to learn in that amount of time.

She only has a few more weeks of school and she's going to be upset when it's over. She loves her teacher so much and she thrives on the constant activity that preschool provides. With Connor, housework and all the other various things going on around here, it's hard to keep her from getting bored. For that, and many other reasons, I am NOT looking forward to summer. When the kids are together constantly they drive each other crazy. When they have just a few hours break from each other, it's like they're long lost friends and they play happily the rest of the day. They fought with each other the entire time during spring break so summer should be.....interesting. Any experienced moms have any great advice about keeping them from killing each other this summer? I plan to keep them as active as possible but I can tell already it's going to be a long few months! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City!

Disclosure: I received tickets for my family to attend this event at SEA LIFE Kansas City. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

SEA LIFE Kansas City is one of our favorite family destinations in KC. I recently got an email announcing the opening of the world's first Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE and I knew as soon as I read it that we had to make a visit as soon as it opened. Both of my kids absolutely love the Octonauts (Grace even had an Octonauts themed 4th birthday party!)

We got the chance to attend a VIP event last week to view the new exhibit. When I told the kids where we were going, they literally jumped up and down yelling "yay!" We packed up two excited kids and went to see Peso, Captain Barnacles, Kwazii and "the FISHIES"! As soon as we arrived, the fun started with a balloon artist and a special visitor. Peso was there to greet the guests and despite some initial hesitation, both kids happily greeted him with a hug. We got the chance to go through the beautiful SEA LIFE exhibits and they never fail to disappoint.

The touch tank is always a highlight for Grace. She is still talking about getting to touch a starfish and while Connor was hesitant, he eventually decided to touch a shark egg.

They were rushing through the beginning exhibits to get to the Octonauts but I did manage to get them to stop long enough to take this fun shot:

Finally we arrived at the Octonauts Zone and both kids happily explored for over 20 minutes.

They were so excited to see their favorite characters.

Grace absolutely loved the huge versions of Captain Barnacles and Kwazii. Their faces were projected on so that they could speak along with dialogue meaning they didn't turn out well in my photos but trust me, they're super cool.

SEA LIFE did a great job incorporating the fish tanks in with the character displays. Connor adored being able to go under Kwazii's treasure chest to look into the tank. Grace was fascinated by Peso's area with his medical bag that features a fun digital game for the kids to interact with.

Connor's favorite part of the night was definitely the Gup-E. With a realistic looking painted control panel and room for several kids to sit, he would have happily stayed there the entire evening. In fact we had to drag him out kicking and screaming.

Luckily there were more characters to keep their spirits up after being forced out of the fabulous Octonauts Zone. After being scared of dressed up characters for her entire life, I was beyond thrilled when Grace ran up and hugged each of the characters.

If you have Octonauts fans in your house, the Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City is an absolute must visit. My kids are already begging to go back. Just a warning, once your kids are there, they might not want to leave! To learn more about the Octonauts Zone, check out SEA LIFE Kansas City's website, Facebook, or Twitter page. Admission to the Octonauts Zone is included with your SEA LIFE ticket. 

Thank you SEA LIFE Kansas City for having us at this great event! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Balance & Priorities

Most of my blogging "breaks" are unplanned. Either my kids get sick or the general busyness of life prevents me from even opening the laptop. But this past month I've taken a long break intentionally. I needed to step away and evaluate what I want this blog to be and how I want to prioritize my time. Because honestly the bigger it gets the more time it's taking. I don't want to complain about that, I have been truly blessed by all of the opportunities this blog has provided. But I need to find a way to balance what I intended to do when I quit my library job 4 years ago, being a stay at home mom, with the life of a blogger. I know many wonderful women who do it very successfully and I am in awe of them.

I had a wake up call in early March when Grace was playing and Connor tried to play with her. She quickly turned away from him and said "go away Connor, I'm busy working." When I told her that she needed to be kind and play with him she said "but mommy, you tell us you have to work and we have to go do something else sometimes." Who knew a 4 year old's words could feel like a stab in the heart?? I know that it's important for kids to learn to play on their own but I feel like blogging has trumped my time as a mom when I'm home with them all day and I hate that.

So I took some time off. And it was wonderful. For about a week I was truly convinced I was done with this blog forever. I focused on playing with the kids, getting my house clean, and taking time to myself. I've started a regular work out routine and I'm eating better. I have a cleaning schedule and we have spent a ton of time playing outside. But as the month drew to an end, I realized that I missed blogging. It's an outlet for me that's all my own.

So after some long talks with Mike, I decided to keep blogging with some conditions for myself. I'm going to focus on quality vs quantity. That means I'm not going to stress myself out about getting a post up every day or even every other day. I want to focus on things I enjoy, my kids, books, travel, and craft projects. That means the number of giveaways I will offer is going to drop drastically. I know my numbers will drop because of that but I hope that those of you who really enjoy my posts will continue to visit. Life is too short for me to spend my days stuck behind my laptop. My kids are growing up way too fast and I want to spend as much time with them as I can before they're in school all day long. When the kids are older and in school may be I can take the time to get to the blogging "big time" but for now I'll happily keep it as a journal for my kids' lives.

I'm honestly not sure why I felt the need to post this but I guess I wanted to give my regular readers an explanation for my absence. I have a lot of fun things planned with the kids that I'm excited to share with you soon.

How do you balance your time as a mom with other passions in your life? Do you take time to yourself often? 


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