Stuffed Animal Storage

Stuffed Animal Storage

I mentioned a ‘stuffed animal farm’ in this blog entitled One Little Monkey, and I got a few (sarcastic) questions on whether we did, in fact, have a ‘farm of stuffed animals.’

I guess technically, the answer is no. However, we do have a ‘pen’ of sorts…which we call a farm (sometimes). Haha.

In that same post, I mentioned that Grace loves all stuffed animals. They are what she wishes for (and is apparently granted!) every gift-giving holiday. Unfortunately, as every parent knows, stuffed animals are not easy to store and keep neat. And, as you see, Grace’s love for stuffed animals is so big that we need big storage to match.

We’ve never found the perfect stuffed animal solution during the seven years we’ve been parents, but this one is pretty close.

To create this storage space, we took bungee cords and extended them between two pre-existing hanging bars in our “bonus room” closet, and there you have it – a stuffed animal farm.  I’ll admit – even with this solution in place, Grace still has a mountain of stuffed animals in the corner of her room most days. I guess I would feel worse if she made us keep all these stuffed animals and never played with them. But she does. A lot.  And knowing we have somewhere easy (and behind closed doors) to stash them when needed helps keep Kenny and I sane.

P.S. Thumper’s face in the top right corner is hilarious – he looks slightly frightened from the angle I took this pic.

Art Project: Silhouettes to Help Brave Maeve

Art Project: Silhouettes to Help Brave Maeve

Just about two years ago, one of my childhood / high school friends found out through a very harrowing experience that her then 18-month-old daughter, Maeve, had Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). It’s very rare for children this young to be diagnosed with T1D, and, as you can imagine, the last two years have been quite a journey for her mom (and family) as they navigate through the diagnosis and do everything they can to keep their daughter (and sister) healthy.

Although I haven’t seen her in so many years, I am so inspired and amazed by my friend Megan. She was always a favorite friend when I was younger – smart and fun and determined. I see now that she’s not changed much – very soon after receiving Maeve’s diagnosis, she went on a serious mission to raise awareness about T1D. She started this amazing Facebook page – Brave Maeve – that has almost 3,000 followers. And for good reason. On her page, Megan shares vignettes about adjusting to life with a child with T1D – sometimes entertaining, sometimes heartbreaking, but always moving. You need to follow her page and follow her journey – she’s a witty writer and that, combined with her stories, make her posts one of the most interesting things on my Facebook feed. It doesn’t hurt that Maeve – and her diabetes service dog, Pumpy – are completey adorable :).  Maeve’s family has established a fund to help support her medical costs, which, I can imagine are great. Details for this are also available on her page.

In addition to generating awareness by sharing Maeve’s ongoing story, Megan has also undertaken a great deal of fundraising efforts to support research for a T1D cure (also promoted on her page). Many of them are local (as in local to Maeve … so Florida 🙂 ), so it’s been a bit hard to support from Oregon. But recently, they did a fundraiser with freelance artist Keith Donaldson who is renown for doing hand-cut silhouettes at Walt Disney World (Here’s a link to his website if you want to check it out.). As you may know, we like vacationing in Walt Disney World, so, I’ve seen these sweet little silhouettes before. I’ve eyed them many times during our visits to the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney, but for one reason or another, we’ve never been able to get them done for the kids. Looking back, I’m glad we never had the chance before because this fundraiser was a perfect opportunity to do them AND help Brave Maeve.

It was pretty cool – I just had to email over a side photo of Gavin and Grace and few weeks later, I received these in the mail:

Pretty cute, right? I opted to do separate silhouettes and skipped the frames because I had a hack in mind. I have been slowly creating a mixed art gallery wall in our play room, and thought these silhouettes – mounted on a colorful canvases – would be a fun addition. (Good part is you get two silhouettes as part of the deal – so I had one to keep as is, and one to play around with.)

I had some 5″ x7″ canvas panels sitting around waiting to be used (because who doesn’t have those lying around their house!?) and painted one blue and one hot pink. Then I snipped around the silhouette with tiny little sewing scissors. Because the silhouettes are mounted on a light card stock, there was a little white “halo” around the edges of the silhouette when I was done snipping them out. I took a black Sharpie and ran it around the edges to help it blend – it worked well! Here they are after I cut them out of the white background and before I mounted them:

I have a handy little 3M glue pen that has a pen tip and a broad tip. On the back of the silhouette, I first traced the edges of the back of the silhouette, then took the broad edge and filled in the rest before pressing them to the painted canvas board. I positioned them in different spots on the canvas board to mix it up a little bit and add visual interest between them when they are hanging. I haven’t yet hung them in the play room, but here’s how they turned out:

To finish the project, I cut out the artist’s signature and glued it on the back. I also wrote the kids’ names and ages so I won’t forget when we did these.

While I am so sorry for everything Maeve and her family have to go through, I am grateful for the opportunity to support Maeve’s cause from so far away – and with such a cute result on top of it! Keep fighting, Maeve! We’re behind you and your cause from literally the opposite corner of the continental U.S. 🙂

Making our House “Spooky Enough”

Making our House “Spooky Enough”

If you read this blog about our indoor Halloween decorating, you might recall that Gavin thought our outdoor wasn’t quite meeting his desired level of spookiness. And since he’s six, and not really a fan of the scary Halloween scene, I knew we needed to step it up a bit. I mean, really. If this scaredy-kid was saying our house didn’t look spooky enough for Halloween, then we really needed to try harder. Haha.

Of course, things go busy over the last two weeks, and we never really finished decorating outside. Or, in Gavin’s eyes, I guess we never started. Haha.

I was off on Thursday, but had to take a few calls. I figured I could squeeze in making some quick decorations between my calls, so I grabbed a stack of black construction paper and started making silhouettes for our windows. And because I didn’t really plan this out, I really just flew by the seat of my pants and started cutting things out freehand. They turned out pretty good – surprisingly! Totally easy – only took about two hours total from cutting to hanging, and I think it has a pretty big impact without being too scary for the littles.

I also made a cute little monster face for our door. Which took about five minutes total. And we used our painted pumpkins to make our very own patch on the side of the house. This was especially important because we didn’t make it to an actual pumpkin patch this year :(.

(Read this next part in your best Clark Griswold voice. You know the scene. Add the Ellen, Rusty and Audrey drumroll effects if you want.) And, so now, in a totally late and untimely fashion, I share with you the Clark Family Halloween House.

 

 

 

Halloween Decorating

Despite my crazy whirlwind of catching almost every contagious illness out there over the past month, our candy lovers and dress-up aficionados have been getting ready for the big day at the end of the month – Halloween. (I am talking about Gavin and Grace – not me. Or Kenny. Although, Kenny does love candy. But not dressing up. And I know I didn’t catch every contagious illness out there, but it really felt like it! Haha.)

They love decorating for the holidays, and it’s a great activity to keep them busy on weekend mornings. It’s fun to watch their excitement as they tear through the Rubbermaid boxes that carefully store our holiday treasures until we need them next. (Ok, the fact that I just referenced my Halloween decorations as treasures is hilarious. They are totally not treasures. But you know what I mean. I apparently have a lot of pent up flowery language since I haven’t blogged in a few weeks.)

They also love making decorations. This is another great activity to keep them busy on weekend mornings or rainy afternoons at home. It’s especially awesome because it makes them so proud to see their creations adorning the walls, helping create some holiday spirit. And bonus – if the kids are making decorations, you don’t have to store more decorations to get an extra holiday vibe boost. It’s totally recyclable (Portlanders, stop reading this sentence here) or trash-able once the season ends.

Sometimes, I stress myself out about seasonal kids crafts and feel like I have to get all those foam kits, etc. from Michael’s or Target or wherever. This year, thanks to the plague, I just handed them a pack of construction paper that I got during back-to-school clearance sales and told them to have at it. And have at it they did! They raided their art supplies and made a ton of fun stuff – spooky houses, a paper pumpkin patch, foam bats, cats, ghosts, and so on. We even let them tape everything to the walls however they wanted. (Hmmmm. I am beginning to think that I can keep crafts simple – they did a GREAT job using their imaginations and stuff we already had on hand! Woo hoo! So glad I caught on to this six years in. Typical. :))

I tried a number of different things with the mantel this year. I was determined to use a burlap garland of some sort – I think it is so Fall.  I tried making one, but it was SO heavy, I had no idea how I’d secure it to the mantle short of nailing it in. So, I made up my own drapey thing. And I think it works.

Luckily, I made a special trip to the Paper Source in early September (before I started getting sick) and scooped up a Happy Halloween banner. I added some ribbon to add additional interest. It still looked a little plain, so I added some burlap accents this weekend.

I think we’re done with Halloween decorating. Gavin doesn’t. He told me this week that our house looks pretty good, but it’s not spooky enough from the outside. So he wants to make some ghosts for his bedroom window. Good for him. And us – another Sunday morning with happily busy kids ahead! 🙂

New Lights!

Well, we did it.

We swapped out the light above our dining table. We weren’t totally sure we needed to (as I said here), but when the light we were eyeing went on sale for a limited time, we figured we should take advantage.

The old switcheroo worked out well – our old light looks perfect in Grace’s room and our new one better matches the overall vibe we have going on downstairs. It’s a bit hard to capture it in pictures because it’s a heavy wire frame with an open construction, but it looks pretty dramatic in person.

It was a little bit of a sad project – back home electrical work would have meant spending time with our friend Paul who is an electrician. This time, I spent time with Daryl. Nice, but not quite the same.

Light over the dining table – before:

New dining room table

New dining room table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light over the dining table – after

New light over dining table

New light over dining table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light in Grace’s room – before:

Old light in Grace's room

Old light in Grace’s room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light in Grace’s room – after:

New light in Grace's room

New light in Grace’s room

 

 

Slightly Updated Dining Room

Slightly Updated Dining Room

Yep, almost two years in and still setting up the house how we want it – haha. Does everyone take this long to get things just so?

The latest addition – a new dining room table. Somehow, our old dark wood table (shown here) didn’t *quite* work in our Portland house. Looked great in Jenkintown, where our house was 120 years old and more traditional pieces and wood stains fit nicely with a few pops of modern stuff. In Portland? Not so much. It felt overly fussy or something.

The new one? Fits just right. Seems to brighten up the whole space. Of course, it’s also August in Portland and it’s generally perfect weather at this point in the year, so the sunlight is gloriously streaming through the windows. That could help. Hahaha. (The shot with the old dining room table in the link above was taken in typically dreary May.)

And, since we’re in Portland, this little nugget helps us fit in ;):

Of course, like any new update to your living space, you question other things in the room. I like the light fixture above the table, but didn’t think it fit with the old table. I was planning to replace it with something a little more industrial chic / rustic, then move this fixture into Grace’s room. I do think it works better with the new table, but maybe it’s still not just right? I think I will live with it for a few weeks and see how I feel. Let me know if you have any thoughts. 🙂