Monthly Archives: July 2012

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival Part 3: Santa Paula Agricultural Museum

The new Santa Paula Agricultural Museum is really great. It has great design inside. There are lots of cool vintage pieces of farm equipment and it is geared towards kids with a dress up area, an entemology area with a real live behive behind the glass, tractors and carriages to climb on and lots of other hands on things to do. The boys are really into tractors right now so they were really over the moon with the whole experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Kiddos, Photography, Travel

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival Part 2: Train ride

After checking out what was going on at the balloon festival, we decided to take the free train ride to downtown Santa Paula to go have lunch and check out the Ag Museum (which will get a post by itself). The train rides were provided by the Fillmore Western Railway which also does the Day out with Thomas every spring. The train was running every 30 minutes most of the day. We were lucky and caught the last train back to the festival at 3:15pm.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Kiddos, Photography, Travel

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival Part 1: Morning

Yesterday we went to the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival with my sister and her family. When we got there in the morning the balloons were already down until the night glow. We did the bounce houses with the kids, saw a bunch of tractors and did a little photo op with the hot air balloon made out of lemons. Then we hopped on a free train ride by the Fillmore Western Railway and headed into downtown Santa Paula. My original post was much too picture heavy and I noticed WordPress was having trouble loading it. So I have decided to do a little series of posts with pictures from our day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Travel

Military week at our little preschool

This week I decided to do another mini unit break from our Before Five in a Row curriculum to talk about the military, the Marine Corps and what their auntie does. She just deployed to Afghanistan a couple weeks ago for six months. I guess this falls under social studies for us.

I really thought finding books would be easy, but it turned out not to be so. My Amazon searches for military kids books brought up things that were not even books, like t-shirts with guns on them.

Then, the first few books I did find were written specifically for kids that had a parent (dad) that was deployed or deploying to use as a coping and explanation tool. That’s all well and dandy and those kids definitely need books like that, I think, but I just wanted to have something that would be more situation general and could help me explain what the military/Marine Corps was.

I finally found and settled on:

A Salute To Our Heroes: The U.S. Marines by Brandon W. Barnett

This one is really cute! The Marine Corps mascot Chesty the bulldog takes you on a tour of the U.S. Marines from boot camp at Parris Island to deployment, various jobs, homecoming and the Silent Drill Platoon parading around on the White House lawn in front of Marine One.

There was even a shout out to my sister’s job:


Next up was:

Big Military Machines by Mary Kate Doman

This one is really simplistic and has perfect preschooler sentences.


The boys were really into all of the books with their tanks and big ships, but Big Military Machines is a favorite. It is a really small book too, not much bigger than my hand, so it is just the right size for carrying around and looking at the pictures.

And our last book for this week was:
Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Military Alphabet by Chris L. Demarest

This one was fun for going through the whole alphabet. The illustrations were really great for each of the letters. My favorites were:


I reminded the kids about when we saw Auntie Cherie deploy last time and watched her “man the rails” on the USS Greenbay.

I always kind of liked the idea of having a more exciting journalism job, but it just wasn’t where my future was.

I also considered H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian, but decided one alphabet book was enough for our purposes. I didn’t want to go overboard with the books around here.

The books brought a lot of questions, some of which I didn’t always have the answers to. In Alpha Bravo Charlie, the illustration for M is a MASH unit and there is a hurt patient. The kids wanted to know why he was hurt and why he had been fighting. The parachute pictures also brought a lot of questions, “Why are they in the air? Why did they jump out of the plane?”




Music and PE coalesced in marching to the US Marine Corps Band playing Sousa’s Greatest Hits (Sprout in undies because we are on the tail end of potty training for the last time, woohoo!!!).




Our craft was to make some cards to send to Auntie. We’re putting together a little care package too.


I made a few photocopies of the page from Alpha Bravo Charlie that had the whole military alphabet and cut out the letters to “sign” the kids’ names on their cards and some special “secret” messages they told me to tell her.


There are some recent pictures of the kids in the cards for her too.



Avory’s card was my favorite.


We miss you Cherie! Stay safe! We can’t wait until you come back home!

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Homeschooling, Kiddos, Parenting

The evolution of Sparrow’s cupcake


Sparrow celebrated his first birthday by walking across the room for the first time and eating this cupcake from Sweet Surrender because I don’t bake. Or I try, but I should just stop trying because something goes wrong every single time.

His birthday was actually yesterday, but we did this mini celebration tonight. This weekend we are going to a hot air balloon festival in my husband’s home town. I am hoping to get lots of fun pictures.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Kiddos

The Rapunzel Dress

The thing about sewing these dresses is that in some ways it is more for me than it is for her. I really love to craft and create and have an outlet for it. So when I get an idea in my brain about how to do something, it is all I can think about and is almost a little bit of consuming mania until it is done. Sewing is my current outlet because it is fast and gives immediate results.

Not too long ago, I bought an official Disney Rapunzel dress at Target for Bean. I remember I was kind of excited because I got it on sale. Well, like they say, “You get what you pay for.”


Within just a few washings the “fabric” (side note: what are these dresses even made out of?!) was starting to disintegrate, rips and tears appeared in the overlay and all the glitter was gone. I have heard this about the dresses from my fellow moms, so I know I didn’t just get a bad one of the bunch.

More recently Bean had taken to wearing it backwards because she was so dissatisfied with the front.



I know I am not the only one that has a little girl that lives in these dresses.


I am sure Disney knows this too and yet they probably have no plans to make them of better quality. They are only too happy to have us moms buying new ones and trashing the old ones.



I like Disney as much as the next person and Tangled is a huge family favorite around here, but buying new princess dresses all the time is really not OK with me.

I had originally purchased the official Disney Tangled Simplicity pattern, but after converting the Cinderella/Snow White Pattern to Aurora and getting so comfortable with it, I just decided to use it again for Bean’s replacement Rapunzel dress.

Prior to getting to work I read through and looked at the images from this ridiculously detailed and slightly over-the-top costume analysis for ideas. I also referenced it on my iPhone when Bean and I went to pick out fabric together (the two purple fabrics we used came from our sweet local quilt shop, Strawberry Patches).

I decided to recycle the sleeves from her old dress because they were still in decent condition and I didn’t really want to top stitch a bunch of ribbon pieces.


For the skirt, I laid the front pattern piece down on my center panel fabric and then folded it back to the triangular shape, pinned and cut it. Then I used the same pattern piece and cut it out of the main skirt fabric. My original plan was to appliqué the center triangle piece onto the front center. Instead, I cut the front skirt piece in half and sewed it to either side of the triangular center pieces.



For the bodice, I used leftover light pink fabric from the Aurora costume to cut the normal four front bodice pieces, but I also cut two from the purple contrast fabric. I made up the darts in each of the pieces just like the pattern directs and then I laid the purple pieces over two of the corresponding pink pieces and folded them under at the center and then stitched them down. I over locked around the entire piece and then continued on with the assembly as directed in the pattern. I added lace at the neckline in the neckline seam. For the corset cording, I ran a zig zag stitch at each “corner” over the cord to secure it.


The rest of the dress assembly was pretty straightforward and like the pattern suggested. I also added lace at the hemline.


And as for our entitlement problem? She had to pick up all the toys (several boxes were just dumped all over) in the living room before she could have the dress. I’ve never seen her work so fast!


1 Comment

Filed under Craftopia, Kiddos

Aurora Dress Tutorial

We recently let Bean and Sprout watch Sleeping Beauty after lots of begging by them and promises that they were “big kids now” that are not afraid of scary dragons and witches.

Aurora was instantly her new favorite princess and she kept saying she wanted a pink dress like Aurora’s dress. Making the Prince Philip costume for her brother only fueled her desire for this dress even more.

We are, however, trying to combat a sense of entitlement in our kids that seems to have sprung up. We are tired of them thinking life is about stuff (toys) and the maintenance of stuff (cleaning them up, organizing them, setting them up, hoarding them, and acquiring new ones).


Bean went with me to pick out the fabric for this dress and a replacement Rapunzel dress (that will be another post). The day I started sketching out the additional pattern pieces and cutting the fabric she began demanding that I make a Princess and the Frog dress (we haven’t even seen that movie?!), a Merida/Brave dress (have not seen that one either), and a Snow White dress.

I mean sheesh. This sewing business isn’t easy and it is a bit time consuming.

And she had just complained around the same time about the uneven hem line on the Cinderella dress I made. I knew about it (the front of the dress hangs about an inch lower than the back) and honestly, the perfectionist in me is bugged by it every time she wears the dress. Stephen had come home at lunch during the height of the complaining and explained that sewing wasn’t easy, that I worked hard on the dress, that she should be grateful because not all little girls have a Mama that can sew, and that I make mistakes just like she does sometimes. Stephen headed back to work. She seemed to ponder what he said, but kept tugging at her dress while looking at her reflection in the oven door. Then she walked over to me, put her hand seemingly lovingly on my shoulder and said, “I don’t want you to make your mistakes on my dresses. It’s OK to make other mistakes though.”

So I did the mature thing and complained about her complaining on Facebook. And now I’m writing this blog post. Maybe she gets it from me?

She’d make a perfect managing editor someday if the journalism industry still exists, “Make your mistakes on your own time, don’t make them in my publication.”

As I worked on this dress, there were many days that I felt my only (perfect) recourse was to say, “If you keep being sassy and bossing me around I’m going to put away the dress and stop working on it.” And I did. She still doesn’t know that it is finished, actually. I’ve decided that it will be a birthday gift now instead.


Disney and Simplicity have discontinued (it seems “The Vault” holds more than just movies) the Aurora princess costume. I wound up looking at lots of pictures of Aurora and I found this adult replication, the “bones” of which are pretty similar to the Cinderella costume I’d already made. The only differences are long sleeves instead of short, the stand-up pointy shoulder collar and the triangular (or zigzag as Bean kept calling it) overlay.

I am sure there are lots of other tutorials out there (or will be soon thanks to Pinterest) with better photos and instructions. There are also likely others that don’t begin with a lengthy introduction tangent on parenting. I am sure someone will make a dress completely from scratch, too (if they haven’t already). I did not find those, if they do exist.

Aurora Dress Tutorial

I used the bodice pattern pieces from the Cinderella dress to help me sketch the other pieces out of gift-wrap tissue. I also used a cardigan of Bean’s to help me with the long sleeves.

I decided to keep the shoulder straps of the original dress instead of the off-the-shoulder look in the adult costume and most of the cartoon drawings of Aurora I found. Bean was pretty adamant about the shoulders, but I explained that it wasn’t really an appropriate look for a three-year-old.


I used the bodice pieces and skirt pieces from the Cinderella costume for the rest of the costume. I followed most of the same directions and style in which the sewing pattern suggests.

There were two different collar pieces, one for the back bodice neckline and one for the front neckline. I cut eight of each out of white costume satin that had some sparkles and four of each of the pieces out of some really stiff interfacing. I cut four of each of the bodice pieces of dark pink sparkly costume satin and one of each of the skirt pieces out of the same color. The directions say to cut two of the back skirt piece, but I think it makes the skirt too full and hard to sew once all gathered up. I cut two on the fold of each of the overlay pieces (2 for front and two for back) in light pink sparkly costume satin and two of the sleeves.

I used an overlock (zigzag) stitch to attach each of the interfacing pieces to one of the white fabric pieces, right side out. Then I sewed the front and back pieces for each shoulder together to make four diamonds. I put the diamonds (one with interfacing, the other without) right sides together and sewed along the top edge of the collar. Then I turned it right side out and top stitched it.

I followed the directions for the bodice piece from the pattern and then attached each side of the collar/shoulder to the neckline.



I hemmed the pointed ends of the sleeves under, sewed down the underarm seam and then attached them to the armholes of the bodice.


I sewed each of the front overlays to the back ones at the side seams, then put them right sides together and sewed along the zigzag. I turned it right side out and top stitched it.


Instead of doing the gathered stitch on the skirt like the Cinderella dress, I decided that I would do pleats. Once the pleats were in place and the skirt was the right width to match the width of the bodice, I attached the overlay to the skirt first at a 3/8in seam and then attached the skirt to the bodice at a 5/8 seam as directed in the pattern. Then I put in the zipper at the back. I had to take a lot of length off the skirt to be right for Bean’s height (I used one of her longer formal dresses as my gauge).


There are mistakes. I am not sure how long it will be before she figures them out and says something about them, but overall it is something that I am pleased with.

It is also a plus that I know it should hold up really well for awhile just like the Cinderella dress I made. And maybe one of these days I’ll fix that pesky uneven hemline.

Leave a comment

Filed under Craftopia, Fashion, Kiddos

Before Five in a Row: Play with Me


This week our book for Before Five in a Row was Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets. The “discussion” ideas in the curriculum book didn’t really do much for me, as usual. The story is about a little girl that goes to a meadow to try and play with various creatures she comes across, but they keep getting scared of her and fleeing. Exasperated, she sits down very quietly for awhile and all the creatures come back to her.

Yesterday, I took the kids out front and we tried to find bugs and other animals we see from time to time at our apartment. The boys were mostly concerned with beating things with sticks, but I pointed out some butterflies as they flew by. We also made homemade bird feeders: spread nut butter on a toilet paper roll, roll in bird seed, attach a ribbon and hang.


Today we went out to Hart Park, a big county park with a lake and lots of wildlife.

I found this blog website for a group known as the Stewards of Hart Park because I was curious about the peafowl we saw there last time we visited and wanted to know how they wound up there and why they were there. I am a nerd like that. I had no luck on that endeavor, but the site did have a bit of a list, by no means exhaustive, of some of the birds and creatures you can spot at the park. There is also some history on the park that I will have to go back and read at some point when I find the time.

From there I had the idea to make a little chart of pictures of the various creatures for each of the kids so we could use it to help us spot them. I pulled in pictures from the site (or looked up better close-up pictures of the animals on the web) into Adobe Illustrator (Yay! for all the money I spent on my BA in Communications and those graphic design classes, haha) and typed in the name of each under them. I brought along some star stickers (especially for my stickers fanatic) and we put a star on each of the animals that we spotted. I was a little bummed that we didn’t spot any Egrets or Great Blue Herons like we have on past trips. All in all it was a lot of fun though. We also brought along some puffed millet and bird seed to feed birds we saw (for the love of God and all the creatures, please stop feeding them stale white bread people!). The kids loved doing this and I got to reinforce the book’s message about being quiet and still when we want animals to trust us and come close to us.

I am not completely sure this is legal, but here is the PDF I made if you are visiting Hart Park and want to play some wildlife iSpy when you are out there like we did.

Here are some pictures from our afternoon:








Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Homeschooling, Kiddos

Eggs and weenies

“What were you thinking for breakfast this morning?
“Maybe breakfast burritos, but I don’t have anything to put in the eggs so I don’t know.”
(opens fridge)
“Hot dogs!”
“Ew! Gross! What made you come up with that idea?”
“You never had eggs and weenies before?”
“And I didn’t come up with it, I just know we had eggs and we had hot dogs in them sometimes.”
“It sounds awful.”
“You’re such a food snob.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A bag, a shirt and a fort

A Bag

Over the course of the year, Bean’s little ballet backpack has been getting filled with more and more stuff and at times it can’t hold everything she needs. She loved the thing though, especially the pretty ballet princess on the front. So I decided to alter it to be a duffle instead of a backpack using most of the pieces.


I cut it apart, along with an old Dwell Studio minky baby blanket that we both couldn’t part with and then reformed it into a duffle.


I saved the bird section for another project that I knew I’d come up with.


The result was the perfect sized bag for her to fit everything she was going to need for the recital with room to grow. I also fixed a few problem areas where the doll was coming apart from the bag. Everything was able to be recycled from the straps to the zipper.





A Shirt

I’d had the pattern pieces for this Simplicity pattern shirt cut for what seemed like weeks without finding the time to sew them up. I finally got it done last week.


A Fort

It started with Bean trying to make a fort using toy buckets, the exersaucer and couch blankets.


Then I decided to improve upon it by grabbing some PVC pipes and plumbing joints at the hardware store.


The baby with a penchant for destruction kept knocking it down. So it moved to their bed.


The sheet kept falling off. So we tried a fitted sheet. It still wasn’t perfect. And then the largest patchwork creation of mine to date was born. Scrap fabric, old baby clothes, the aforementioned baby blanket, an old t-shirt, a dress I had altered into a skirt, and bits and pieces all were cut into large squares and laid out.


I spent the afternoon sewing when I should have been packing for the recital weekend.

When we got back it was all I wanted to work on.

Sprout had a sewing lesson. He was so very interested in the workings of the machine. I think I have a future engineer on my hands.



Basically, I made a sheet of patchwork long enough to cover the entire length of the frame with enough to fold over at the ends and sew in place to make little pockets at each corner for the legs to stick into.

And then finally, this morning I finished it!











It is basically perfection and we all love it. I want to go read books in there right now!


Filed under Craftopia