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When you get what you pray for

21 Nov

Ten days ago I posted this:

fbstatusThe idea of our toddler sleeping until the late hour of 7 in the morning was indeed laughable. I chuckled mid-prayer.

It was not unlike Sarah, who “laughed within herself” at the idea of giving birth in old age–she was all, yeah sure, like that’s gonna happen.

Then the thing she thought was a joke became reality. She was gently reminded, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

Of course I thought it would be nice if Lars slept a little later so I could sleep or–gasp–shower. But his average wake-up time of 6 (it’s 5 on the most punishing days, 6:30 on the most luxurious days), and asking for more seemed downright esurient.

So maybe God, along with me, laughed at Dave’s boldness. Maybe He wanted to reward Dave for dreaming big, or to humble me for lacking faith.

Whatever the divine thought process, this is what happened: Almost every day in the past week and a half, that baby has indeed slept in until 7. Once, even 7 freaking 30. And today he magically slept in ’till 10 (I checked a couple times to make sure he was still breathing), though that was because he came down with something from a kid at the park who was literally coughing in his face.

The thing I thought was a joke became reality.

I had sent many pleas heavenward in the first year of Lars’ life. Please help me know how to get him to stop crying. Please help me get through the next ten minutes of painful breastfeeding. Please, please, please, let him sleep.

In some moments prayers seemed to be answered, others not. But as far as I understand the whole faith thing, sometimes God answers your prayers the way you want, and sometimes He doesn’t, and the trick is to keep believing in His love and His plan whatever and whenever answers come.

These days, I am grateful that answer comes in the form of a 7 a.m. wake-up call with my sweet boy.

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Happy Halloween from baby ewok!

1 Nov

Happy Halloween from the forest moon of Endor!

After strategically calculating the cutest possible costume for our child, we settled on ewok. You be the judge.

(If you’re interested in the DIY tutorials, scroll toward the bottom.)

IMG_0256{“Look, Ma, I have a spear!”}

 

IMG_0266 - Copy{Ewok with Endor Leia.}

Some people suggested that I go with the white-robe-and-cinnamon-roll-buns Leia because it’s more recognizable (and metal-bikini Leia just ain’t my style) but I was adamant that I dress as Endor Leia, to be consistent with the ewok, you know? My costume isn’t nearly as detailed as the Comic-Con crowd (see my costumes pinboard to check out some impressive cosplays, as the kids call ’em), but this is by far the most effort I’ve put into a Halloween costume, and it was a lot of fun.

It actually worked out perfectly to dress Lars as an ewok, because his just-learned-to-walk stride is uncannily ewok-like. And it is adorable. Just watch:

 

photo 1 (2){The photo is blurry, but baby’s patience was wearing thin, so oh well. We’re a happy family.}

 

10{Han Solo.}

11

 

13{Princess Leia.}

Full credit for most of the costume creation goes to my awesome mom.

Happy Halloween, everyone! And may the force be with you.

SIDENOTES

:: The Return of the Jedi has always been my favorite in the Star Wars series. You are required to share your favorite film in the comments.

:: Did anyone else watch those made-for-TV Ewok Adventure movies? My brothers and I loved them, and got so mad when my mom got rid of the VHS. In retrospect, it was kind of violent and the orphaned-girl plot was sad. Not sure what appealed to us so much.

:: When I was young (maybe 9 or 10?), my siblings and I teamed up with a family of boys we knew from church to put on our own production of Star Wars. I’m pretty sure we did A New Hope and Return of the Jedi (but skipped The Empire Strikes Back, because it’s such a drag). The only two concrete memories I have are (1) lovingly fashioning a homemade R2-D2 out of a Quaker Oats canister and (2) reenacting the scene where Leia shares a cracker (we used saltines) with Wicket the ewok. We were very detail-oriented children. Also, one of the kids is now a super-talented playwright. Well, I guess he was back then too. 🙂

:: Doesn’t it blow your mind that they never say the word “ewok” in the movies? I didn’t believe it when I first read that, but it’s true!

TUTORIALS

Endor Han costume

Supplies

  • Black fabric (about 1 yard)
  • White collared shirt
  • Black pants or dark skinny jeans
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Yellow tape (electric, washi, masking, or whatever)
  • Black marker
  • Toy gun and holster

How to

1. To sew the vest, we (a.k.a. my mom) used Simplicity pattern 2346 (option D). We were already buying it for another project and it was really useful, but if you’re a resourceful seamstress you could probably draft your own pattern. It is about a straightforward a sewing project as it gets. So, you can buy and follow the pattern, or you can cut the fabric into once back piece and two front pieces, roughly like this:

photo 5 (3)

photo 3 (3)2. Following the pattern, sew the shoulders and sides together, then fold it inside-out to hide the seams. If you want to simplify like we did, you can skip doing a lining–so for the neck and armpits, just fold under the edges and sew a simple hem. If you want to go the extra mile, you can add pockets, but we didn’t bother (there’s a super-detailed tutorial here.)

3. Put on the vest over the shirt. Either button down the collar or flip it inward so it looks more like Han’s shirt (you could make your own shirt, but we were doing the quick and dirty version).

194. Stick a strip of tape on the outer side of each pant leg. Draw horizontal stripes on the tape.

185. Attach the holster to your belt. Wield a toy gun (ideally a blaster, if you’re really on top of things–we didn’t go that route because they’re pretty expensive).

6. Be a charming scoundrel. But don’t get cocky, kid.

 

Endor Leia costume

Supplies

  • Green fabric (about 2 yards)
  • Green and brown spray paint
  • Green or brown shirt
  • Skinny jeans
  • Brown or black belt
  • Boots
  • Watch
  • Hair elastics and bobby pins
  • Yarn or twine

How to

1. To make the camo poncho, measure the green fabric so that it drapes at the length of a tunic (mine was about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long).

2. In the center, cut out a circle about 5 inches in diameter.

3. Cut a strip of fabric about 8 inches wide and 2 feet long.

4. Fold the strip lengthwise with the green facing out. Sew along the edge of the circular hole in the middle of the cape. Alas, I didn’t catch any pictures of this step, but this tutorial is the closest approximation of what we did.

5. Lay out the sewn poncho outside on newspaper or other paint-safe surface. Spray paint splotches of various shades of green and brown to create a camo effect (with a pic of the original Endor Leia poncho on hand for reference). Let dry.

photo 1 (3)6. To style your hair, first check out these shots of Leia’s hairstyle. And feel free to google other tutorials that may be fancier/more useful than mine.

7. Separate a section of hair right behind each ear and braid it, securing each braid with an elastic.

18. Pull the rest of your hair into low pigtails and secure with elastics. Braid each pigtail and secure each braid with an elastic.

9. Take the behind-the-ears braids and pull them toward each other, arranging them on your head like a headband. If you want to give it that special ewok touch (and if you have a friend to offer a helping hand), wrap some twine or yarn around the braids. Pin firmly in place.

10. Take each of the pigtail braids and twist into a bun. Pin firmly in place. (You can see in the pictures that I did a ponytail instead of pigtails, but I still separated it into two braids.)

15Note: Clearly, my final look is not very neat. But you know what? That’s OK. Leia’s hair wasn’t plausible or practical anyway. 🙂

1610. Drape the poncho over your shirt. Belt the front of the poncho to your waist, leaving the back loose like a cape. Add a watch and boots–and a blaster, if you have one! 17

Ewok baby/toddler costume

Supplies

  • Hooded bear suit
  • Brown suede-ish fabric (about a yard, cut to about 2 by 2 feet)
  • Brown yarn and a few brown buttons
  • Bamboo (1 yard)
  • Leather cord or twine (2 feet)
  • Grey foam (I got a cheap foam sword and cut it down)

How to

Note: The great news about this costume is that the look is very rough, so it doesn’t have to be perfect!

1. Buy a furry hooded bear suit from your local Goodwill (I visited two stores and there were a half-dozen cheap baby/toddler bear suits at each).

2. Cut off the feet of the suit and fold into an ear shape. Stitch onto the hood of the suit.

3. Drape the suede-ish fabric over the head of the suit. Cut out a hole for the face and holes for the ears to poke through. Trim roughly around the edge to create the proper shape of the ewok hood. Here’s what it looks like:

4. Stitch a few buttons on the ewok hood and lace some yarn haphazardly through them. Sew a few stitches to hold the ewok hood to the bear suit hood.

photo5. To make the spear, cut a spear blade shape out of foam. Drill a hole toward the top of the bamboo and through the foam.

photo 4 (2)6. Glue the foam blade on top of the bamboo to hold in place. Lace the leather cord or twine through the holes and wrap it around, then tie it to secure.

87. Teach your baby to say “yub, yub.” (We failed at that, but came close with an “ub.”)

8. Wiggle the baby into the suit, and hand him or her a (toy) spear. Guaranteed fun!

Airport adventures

22 Oct

In my last post I gave myself license to throw out a look-at-my-cute-baby post, so here goes: cute baby, airport edition!

We just survived a 13-hour trip from D.C. to Sacramento, including one trying six-hour leg. We had a couple hours of crying, squirming, and fighting sleep, but we also had a few hours with a sleeping baby and a row to ourselves, and fellow travelers who were kind and understanding. I also learned a few tricks that I may use to update my post about flying with a baby (I’ll wait to see if I survive our return journey).

The best part of the trip was the layover we had in Chicago, where my just-learning-to-walk boy had fun weaving through the rows of seats at our gate and tentatively testing out moving walkways. Once on the plane, he also enjoyed walking up and down the aisle flapping his arm in a clumsy, heart-melting wave.

This edition also features my fledgling iPhone photography skills (I’m only a few months in with smartphone ownership). I missed out on my mom’s talented-photographer genes, but lately I’ve tried to absorb the simple yet awesome photography tips from Elise of enJOY it. I got some unusually decent shots–allow me to share a few, alright?

IMG_1113

IMG_1117A wide airport window is a perfect place for a curious boy.

 

IMG_1118 A flocculent landscape.

 

IMG_1123Mama, what is this fascinating relic?

 

IMG_1126Scoping out the moving walkway.

 

IMG_1131Those eyelashes.

 

IMG_1132King of the row! Ah, if only flying with a baby were as easy as this picture makes it look. I try to be grateful for the good moments like this–and even when it’s hard, it’s totally worth getting to spend time with the fam.

Lately

21 Sep

Lately my blogging has been a bit more sparse than usual, but I have some exciting blog plans in store for the near future, so I wanted to check in. Lately, I’ve been…

IMG_0576-editpurging. I was inspired by Dave’s parents, who are in the midst of decluttering to prepare for a move. We’ve managed to pass stuff on to Goodwill, Planet Aid, and the awesome D.C. Books to Prisons program. I’ve also made my first eBay sale and plan to sell a handful of baby stuff at a consignment sale and on Craigslist. It’s hard for a nostalgic packrat like myself to say goodbye to things, but I’ve found it’s still gratifying to either make money from it or pass it on to someone who needs it more. Plus, I can take a picture and cherish that just as well.

writing. I’m working on a freelance writing project that I’m really excited about. I can be a slow and involved researcher and writer, hence less time for blogging, but I’m fascinated about the subject matter and look forward to finishing the first draft soon.

scheming. I really want to hone my skills as a self-employed writer, so I’ve been exploring the writing and business advice from sites like Be A Freelance Blogger, Boost Blog Traffic, and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I’m sure I’ll touch on the various things I’ve learned in future posts!

wasting time for no good reason. Despite being productive in some ways, for some reason I’ve really been struggling with efficiently using my time. Too many hours went by when my only accomplishment was scrolling through Facebook and blogs.

brainstorming ideas for #31Days. I’m taking the challenge to write on the same topic for 31 days straight this October. It’s kind of a crazy time to take this on, but I’ve had ideas about my topic of choice stewing all summer and the 31-day challenge is the perfect medium to express them. OK, I’m too excited to not tell you the topic: GIRL POWER. Stay tuned!

reading like crazy. Believe me, you’ll hear all about it next month.

reminiscing about Constitution Day. This was my first Constitution Day since leaving my work at the National Constitution Center, and I definitely missed it. And just this week, for the first time in years, when I started typing C-O-N into my URL bar, the first thing to pop up wasn’t constitutioncenter.org. It made me sad, because change is hard. But not too sad, because I feel content and confident in my choices. Still, I seriously miss those people.

hanging out with these boys. As always.

IMG_0778-editWhat has your lately looked like?

 

 

 

Dumpster diving

20 Aug

Taking out the recycling is a chore I procrastinate doing. OK, taking out the recycling is one of many chores I procrastinate doing. But seriously, it is such an ordeal to schlepp an avalanche of Amazon boxes and several bulging Trader Joe’s bags, all with a baby strapped to my chest.

But this week, the effort was worth it. One of our neighbors had dropped off a kid-sized Spiderman four-wheeler. (I initially called it a car, but both my dad and husband were adamant that it is properly a quad or a four-wheeler.) It was in good condition, and it was just sitting there awaiting its landfill destiny, and I thought, what the heck? So I brought it back to our apartment, gave it a quick Lysol wipedown, and introduced Lars to his new and fabulously free toy:

IMG_0331-web

And here it is in action (forgive my blurry, vertical-orientation video; I’m a novice iPhone videographer):

It’s perfect for this just-learning-to-stand-and-walk-on-his-own boy. (Also, THAT SMILE.) I just may be a new fan of dumpster diving.

Have you found treasure in someone else’s trash? Anyone else furnish their home in “early American garage sale” style, as my family puts it?

Object Ode: The Laser Top

15 Aug

This is part of a series of occasional posts about objects I love and love using (totally unsponsored, just unabashed object obsession).

It was a gift from Grandma Reid, mostly as a joke.

“I don’t think you’ll be very happy with me,” she had warned. “If you throw it away after a week, I won’t be offended.”

It’s called a Laser Top. Made in Chinain Shantou, to be exact, by the Xin Quiang Sheng Plastic Toys Factory.

IMG_0304-web

Several months later, and I have definitely not thrown it away.

You wind it up, drop it on the table, and it spins. It plays techno-esque music with a synthesized”bang bang” and “honk honk” thrown in for good measure. It flashes red, green, and blue lights.

And it fascinates Little Lars.

I think he’s fascinated by it because he’s afraid of it. As soon as I set it spinning, he starts to reach for it. As he does, he makes the funniest face. I’ve tried to capture it on camera but have only produced blurry shots. It’s the face that says, I know that once I touch this, it will freak me out, so I’m just going to make my jarred-reaction expression in anticipation. Eyes closed (as if to protect himself), nose slightly scrunched, mouth open, and a little shiver, not unlike when he bites into something cold or sour.

Then, when the spinning is done, he grabs the handle that’s used to wind it up, and examines it intently: Oh, mighty Laser Top! How do I gain your spinning and flashing powers?! his baby mind wonders.

Potential fear aside, I think he does enjoy it. He lights up (ha, ha) whenever I pull it out. Though that could be because I madly, eagerly grin at him as I pull it out of the toy box–“Ooh! Look, Lars, at the spinning top! Look at the liiights!!” I mean, who doesn’t love a combo of frenetic music, motion, and lights?

I’m grateful for it because it’s the sort of thing I can pull out when we’ve exhausted all of our living-room entertainment possibilities. It flashes, it pulses, and for a few minutes, it captures his attention. And for that I say, thank you, Laser Top.

Five Minute Friday: Finish

26 Jul

It’s a bit ironic that a start–my first attempt at partaking in Five Minute Friday–coincides with the prompt of “finish”. I’ve been admiring Lisa-Jo’s blog and the FMF posts from afar from awhile now, but when I read today’s post I knew I had to just dive in and do it. I totally connected with Lisa-Jo’s commentary on how it’s not as hard to start something as it is to stick with it . That’s how I’ve felt at times about this blog–I have found it to be an excellent outlet for the thoughts cluttering up my head, but sometimes I worry that it’s a little too aimless, and should I really be spending time on it? But I feel like I do need to stick with it. I recall another post from another fave blog, Young House Love–in their words, the middle makes no sense. But you have to keep plugging along until you make more sense of things.

In a completely different vein of thinking on the idea of “finish”, tomorrow my vacation with my family will be coming to a close. I watched the Disneyland fireworks from the hotel window for the last time tonight, and tomorrow morning we’ll be flying out and returning home to Daddy, some semblance of a nap schedule, and meals that don’t involve french fries. It’s been so magical (of course) being here with family, but it will be good to be home.

Also, a confession: I may have taken a few more minutes than five (really, only a few). Not a very auspicious start to Five Minute Friday, I know. BUT I feel it is entirely merited because a few minutes in I had to comfort baby back to sleep. I think that is worth something. And now, I shall finish this post and this day and rest for a long plane ride tomorrow.

Delayed gratification

21 Jul

Two years ago, my younger brother Ryan left home to live in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area to serve as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During those two years, he learned to speak Spanish. He pushed strangers’ cars through torrential rain. He knocked on doors and talked to just about everyone he met to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. He ate fish eyes, menudo, and all manner of Hispanic fare. He used Mario and Star Wars as allegories for gospel principles. He hung out at pizza parties with teenagers and played card games with seniors. He went caving with fellow missionaries and encountered a ridiculous array of critters  (think ticks, chiggers, bats, snakes, and more). He learned to love the people he served and to love the gospel of Jesus Christ. He witnessed the joy of people coming closer to Christ.

Also during those two years: my sweet baby boy–Ryan’s nephew–was born.

DSC_2306-web

When you’re a full-time missionary, contact with your family and friends back home is limited (to allow you to focus on your work as a missionary). The only times you can call your family are on Christmas and Mother’s Day, and usually you can only email once a week. So when Little Lars was born, Ryan just got a smattering of emailed pictures and four Skype meetings.

Then on Friday, this happened:

DSC_7852DSC_7922DSC_7916DSC_7932DSC_7972DSC_7969DSC_8033{Photography by Janelle Edwards}

Two years was worth the wait.

A mission is an excellent exercise in delayed gratification. For the parents: You try your best to teach your child to be caring and responsible, and when they finally go out into the great, big world on a mission, you see them gradually grow to be that person. For the missionary: You set aside your family and life, and as you forget yourself and go to work, you begin to see a change in yourself and in the lives of those you serve.

Although a mission doesn’t work out for everyone (and that’s OK), the inspiring coming-of-age stereotype of a Mormon mission has held true for my brother, and I have loved seeing how he has changed (while still being himself, of course). I am so proud of his hard work and faith and love for God and for others. And I’m grateful for his example to his nephew Little Lars.

A Fantastic Mr. Fox birthday party

1 Jul

Update: Make sure to also check out the guide to playing whackbat and all the party printables and tutorials.

YAY! We kept a tiny human alive for a whole year! We all survived!

That is pretty much the reason we have first birthday parties for children. Also, of course, we are crazy in love with our little boy and want to celebrate his first year with friends and family and CAKE. And, with of course, a theme.

For Little Lars, the theme had to be Fantastic Mr. Fox. Mostly because: Lars is fantastic. Obviously we’re a bit biased, but like his foxy counterpart, Lars charms pretty much everyone he meets. He also happens to have lots of adorable vulpine apparel, all supplied by my family, who are big fans of the film. My dad and brothers particularly love the vulpine explitive “What the cuss!” and manage to work other lines into conversation quite often. And Roald Dahl has always been one of my favorite authors–I amassed virtually his entire works as a kid.

{“Different” poster from here; “Fantastic” poster from here.}

I was inspired by both the original book by Roald Dahl (and the scribbly illustrations of Quentin Blake) and the delightful film adaptation by Wes Anderson. I particularly appreciate the attention to detail in Wes Anderson’s films–every object, every expression, every frame, is lovingly (and quirkily) just so. It’s no surprise that his work has spawned both playful parodies (like this and this) and some impressive fan art (like these posters and so. many. costumes.), and such artistic meticulousness inspired my own crafting.

For anyone who’s interested, I plan to provide tutorials and downloads for some of the party details, but this is already going to be a super long post (I am never, ever brief), so I’ll share those in future posts.

THE INVITE

Invite for Fantastic Mr. Fox party! | spifftacular.Fantastic Mr. Fox party invites | spifftacular.

For the invite, I borrowed the color palette of the film–mostly butter yellow and a mix of reds and oranges–and used Futura, styled like the movie poster/cover. The plaid background is loosely based on the plaid rug on the movie cover. For some of the envelopes, I used basic white A2 envelopes and inserted some patterned paper for just the inside fold; for a few others, I unfolded an envelope and used it as a template to make an entire envelope out of patterned paper.

THE DECORATIONS

The first decoration should be filed under “I am a crazy crafter, emphasis on the crazy.” I found an idea on Pinterest (and ye all know how I feel about Pinterest now) for a pin-the-tail-on-the-fox game, which is perfect since Mr. Fox does indeed lose his tail in the story. But the cutesy cartoon style of it wasn’t quite right; I wanted to emulate the style of the film. So basically, I found a picture of Mr. Fox on a movie poster, enlarged and printed it, then traced the different elements of the image and cut them out of cardstock. And then I pieced them together. It was laborious yet satisfying. And it served as a game, decoration, conversation piece, and photo backdrop all in one.

Pin the tail on the fox | spifftacular.fox-posterPin the tail on the fox | spifftacular.Pin the tail on the fox | spifftacular.

The other decorations were comparatively simple. My mom made sure that I took a picture of baby Lars every month (and made a sweet scrapbook of them for his 12-month mark), so I picked one from each month, mounted it on patterned paper, and displayed them on our window (where we have more open space than any of the walls).

Fantastic Mr. Fox party | spifftacular.Since my family loves quoting the movie, I wanted to work that in somehow. So I just made some simple typographic posters (set in Futura again) and added strips of the plaid background I made for the invite. Then I hung them up with some outtakes from baby’s monthly photos.

Fantastic Mr. Fox party | spifftacular.Also, I’m not sure if this quite qualifies as a decoration, but we also had fox crowns. Because why not? I saw the idea on Pinterest, and it was pretty straightforward. Also, if you wanted cake, you had to wear the crown.

Fantastic Mr. Fox party hats | spifftacular.IMG_2566-edit

THE FOOD

I am not a talented cook, and I am particularly unskilled at cooking for crowds, so I tried to keep the food simple. The menu included chicken nuggets of the meaty and fake/vegetarian variety (since Mr. Fox steals chickens… it totally works, right?), sweet potato fries, carrots (also stolen by Mr. Fox) and dip, pretzel sticks, apple slices, apple juice, and M&M’s (because chocolate).

Although I generally think labels for food are superfluous (can we really not identify apples without the label?), I did make little notecards to scatter on the table that included quotes from the book and the film relating to food. Food plays such a central part in the story (as discussed here and here) so it seemed fitting.

Fantastic Mr. Fox party | spifftacular.I briefly considered making a batch of Mrs. Bean’s Famous Nutmeg-Ginger-Apple Snaps, an intriguing cookie referred to in the film and brought to life by both Mario Batali and the Vancouver Observer. But I didn’t feel like baking any more than I had to, so I didn’t. If you try it, let me know how they are! (I did make some Apple Lemon Muffins today using the leftover sliced apples–they were yummy!)

As for the cake, I made the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook’s traditional vanilla birthday cake.

Magnolia Bakery's Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cake | spifftacular.If you have not yet welcomed this cake into your life, please do so as soon as possible. (The recipe is online here, but the cookbook is well worth checking out.) Cake has never been my favorite dessert, but this cake made me a believer.

Lars is now a cake believer too:IMG_2571-editTHE GAMES

As mentioned above, we had pin-the-tail-on-the-fox, which is always a classic.

We had the movie playing in the background to keep the kids entertained during lunch and in between organized activities.

I also had plans to let the kids decorate some apples with gold star stickers (they’re Mrs. Grossman’s stickers–I used to love those as a kid!). In the story, Mr. Bean is a turkey-and-apple farmer with “Red Remarkable” apples that make remarkably strong apple cider. Mr. Fox comments, “Even these apples look fake, but at least they’ve got stars on them.” Alas, I was distracted by the rest of the party and forgot. Oh well. At least I can share it on the Internet, right? It probably wasn’t practical anyway, since you’d have to remove the stickers to eat the apple.

fox-applesFantastic Mr. Fox party apples | spifftacular.And now, possibly my favorite part: WHACKBAT.

Related post: How to play whackbat in real life

whackbat

Whackbat is a cricket-like sport played by the woodland animals (Mr. Fox is a champion whackbatter, of course). The film explains the rules…

Coach Skip: Basically, there’s three grabbers, three taggers, five twig runners, and a player at Whackbat. Center tagger lights a pine cone and chucks it over the basket and the whackbatter tries to hit the cedar stick off the cross rock. Then the twig runners dash back and forth until the pinecone burns out and the umpire calls hotbox. Finally, you count up however many score-downs it adds up to and divide that by nine.
Kristofferson: Got it.

… but it’s all intentionally nonsensical. But I really wanted to make it work. So I watched the whackbat scene play-by-play, made up a few rules of my own, and we managed to have a pretty fun and ridiculous round of whackbat. Fear not, this will also be covered in detail in a future post. You too can become a whackbat champion.

THE FAVORS

I did not in fact have any favors to send home with guests. But I had a ton of extra pinecones leftover from our whackbat shenanigans, and some of the kids asked if they could take one home. This is exactly why I didn’t bother with favors–who needs a cheap plastic toy when you can have a pinecone? Kids are the best.

I did find a cute design for bags shaped like foxes and other creatures, so if you want to do favors you could use those and maybe fill them with an apple or two and some gold star stickers.

THE CROWD

Huzzah for friends and family! These folks humored me by playing whackbat, and they’re so good to us and Lars.

2014-06-28 12

THE BIRTHDAY BOY

He really is fantastic, isn’t he?

IMG_2633-editPsst… if you are the pinning type, feel free to share this on Pinterest. I didn’t set out to make this a DIY-dominated blog, but I’m excited to share the fantastic fun!

A Father’s Day gift for a rockin’ grandpa

15 Jun

Grandpa-closeupMy dad is awesome. He is hardworking, faithful, and wise. He is caring and supportive. And he is a pretty cool grandpa.

His daily uniform consists of Chuck Taylors, cargo shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt or tie-dye shirt. He was an English major in college, but his speech is primarily composed of references from Monty Python, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and old SNL skits. And he could tell you a detailed history of just about every rock band in existence.

To honor his singular rockin’ style, I decided to design an album cover as a Father’s Day gift. On the wall of his office, Dad has a grid of framed album covers from some favorite bands. Last time we visited my family, my mom got some great pictures of Lars and Grandpa rocking out on the drums (mostly Lars enjoyed tapping the drumsticks together), and I knew it would make the perfect album cover. I decided to channel the style of the Beatles and other albums in the early ’60s. I even modeled my VW/Munson Records logo on the Capitol Records logo. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Grandpa-final-webHappy Father’s Day, Grandpa VW!

If anyone else out there wants to make their own vintage rock ‘n’ roll Father’s Day album cover, here’s how I did it in Photoshop (it’s pretty simple if you have moderate Photoshop skills):

  1. Create a canvas of 12 x 12 inches.
  2. Paste the photo you want to use, and size it as you like.
  3. If the background is cluttered, use the Polygonal Lasso tool to clear it (here’s a tutorial for that process if you’re not familiar)
  4. Add text layers. The typeface for “Lars & Grandpa” is Stereofidelic; “The First Album” and “Father’s Day 2014” is Tandelle; “VW/Munson” is Lakesight.
  5. Create an oval around the record label text. Create five stars and align them in a row.
  6. Make a copy of all the text layers, then make them invisible.
  7. Resize canvas (with anchor in center) to 14 x 14 inches (I did this to keep the action in the next step from blurring the image edges too much).
  8. Run the Pioneer Woman Vintage action (download the action set for free here).
  9. Crop the canvas back to 12 x 12 inches (with anchor in center).
  10. The text in the corners has probably gotten too fuzzy to read. Make the copy layers of the text visible now, and make sure it’s above the other layers. Play with the opacity (I had mine around 50%) of the layer until it looks less fuzzy.
  11. Print it! I printed mine at mpix.com, since they do a 12 x 12 size.
  12. You’re done! If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to help.