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Monday, December 19, 2011

Lauren and the Combine

Lauren got to go with dad a couple of weeks ago to his work and climbed up into and got to ride in a combine!

Busy Holiday Weekend

Thursday night I went to one of Roger's work parties. I usually dread these because I don't know anybody, and they usually talk about nothing but work. However, this party was really fun. It was held at the Hilton by the airport. They started off the party by doing a wife swap. They would call a man's name, and then a woman's name and they had to pair up and be a team to play the games that were there. There was billiards, basketball hoops, darts, ping pong, video games, and a laser shooting game. My name was the first woman's name called, and I was paired up with someone that was sitting at our table that I was already getting to know as he and his wife chatted with Roger and I. He was very competitive, but so am I, so it was fun. We didn't get to play all the games. I stunk at the shooting game. Did not bad at darts. And the only other game we got to was billiards and I am happy to say that I shot in 4 of our striped balls, and sunk the 8 ball to win the game for us! The food was delicious--I had mahi mahi. At the end of the night everyone got to choose gift cards starting with the team that won the most games. My team only won 2 games. The most someone won was 9, so they got to choose a gift card first. Roger chose a Lowe's card and I chose an Olive Garden card. Both of these will definitely be used by our family.

Friday night was another work party. This time we met at a country club close to Roger's work, or about 45 minutes away from our house. Again, the food was delicious--I had a pork chop. I got to meet more people Roger worked with, and this party was only talking with people at our table. At both of these parties I saw a real difference between the people Roger used to work with and the people he works with now. The people he works with now are a lot friendlier, and like to talk about other things than just work. They seem to be more down to earth. I really had a couple of nice evenings.

Saturday we took the kids to see the lights at Botanica. I've heard really good things about this event. It started at 5:30 and we decided to be there around 5:00 so we could get there early and get it over with quickly before the temperatures got too chilly after the sun went down. Although the lights were pretty, we weren't that impressed. First of all, even though we have a membership to Botanica, we only saved $1 per adult for the admission price. One garden only had lights shaped in poinsettia flowers. One garden only had lights shaped like butterflies flapping their wings. One garden only had tree trunks wrapped in white lights with a couple of lighted deer within the trees. There were two displays where the lights moved in time to music, but to be honest, we have seen better displays like this in neighborhood homes. We did take a few pics of things, and even though it all looks pretty, overall, we felt it was something we can say we have done, but really don't have the desire to do again--at least not for several years or until they create more variety of lights in the gardens.

Santa was in the cottage that you can enter after going through the butterfly house. Lauren absolutely did not want to see him and kept hiding behind me and Roger. We told her she didn't have to see him, but once we got up to him, Santa talked her into getting a pic taken with him.



There were several chimineas along the paths we could stop at and get warmed up.

In the barn in the children's garden we bought some hot chocolate. It really does keep you warm as you walk around the outside chilly air drinking it.

They had the little house in the children's garden decorated really cute.

There is just something about a train that attract kids. This display was by the greenhouse.

This was the garden with the poinsettia light displays. The fountain was really pretty. You can see the luminaries dotting the path.

 A huge wreath in the butterfly house.

These lighted trees were really tall, even though it looks like from this pic that it is just a small display we are standing in front of. This area was roped off, so we couldn't get closer to it.

  video

Then, last night we took a free 1 hour bus tour to see some neighborhood lights. We saw some pretty impressive house displays. But, really didn't get any good opportunities to take pics. It was a busy weekend, but a fun one.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

That Holiday In October

Yeah, okay, we are approaching Christmas and I am blogging about that holiday that occurs in October! But, I'm just trying to catch up on my blog posts. I am not a big fan of Halloween--I never have been, even not so much as a kid. We dressed up for school, and went trick-or-treating, but I hated HATED all of the glorified scary stuff that came along with all of that. I really did like the dressing up part, though. Ever since our kids have been little, I've been torn about whether or not they should participate in this holiday. Well, we have let them.

Our church does a great Harvest Party for the public every year and we have participated in that in a few different ways like helping to direct parking, bagging up cotton candy, etc. This year was the best one yet I feel. Yes, you do get the public kids, and sometimes even the parents, who dress up in gross or scary costumes. You would think they would think differently when attending something at a church, but that is "the world" for you. Evan is kind of getting to the point where he is growing out of little kids costumes, so this year he decided just to wear his soccer team uniform. Woohoo! Saved some money that way since we didn't have to buy him a costume.

 Lauren wanted to be Raggedy Ann. She already had a cute homemade rag doll looking dress that she wears to church that I had found at a garage sale, and she had some black dress shoes. All she needed was a wig and tights. I had some swagbucks sitting in my amazon.com account and was able to use them to buy an adorable wig hair/hat combo and some red/white striped tights. (If you would like to earn free bucks just by searching the web, then click on this link and sign up for your swagbucks account: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/risencakes)


The actual night of Halloween, Lauren went to a birthday party and Roger and Evan met up with some friends to go trick or treating around the neighborhood. Roger got to sit in the driveway and pass out the candy while the other moms took the kids door to door.

We also carved pumpkins this year using stencils we downloaded from the internet. They actually came out really well and were a lot of fun. Roger decided he want to free hand his carving and make a face. He wasn't thrilled with how it came out, and it was a little creepy. We talked him into making a smile so it at least looked a little better like a happy smiling pumpkin. They looked really neat on the porch at night with those fake flame candle lights put inside them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Scouts Christmas Party

In order for Evan to receive his free pinewood derby car for that upcoming event, he had to sit on Santa's lap. He was not thrilled about that, nor was he thrilled about the Christmas carol rotation station. He just stood there--I laughed every time I looked over at him and saw the "this is boring and when will it be over" look on his face. He did enjoy the Minute to Win It game and won a couple of those. I just had to take this picture of him with Santa, though. It will be his last time at this kind of party since next year he will be a Boy Scout and not a Cub Scout any more. He's growing up so fast, and this is just one of those memories that when I look at this picture, I will remember him as my little boy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soccer 2011-2012

This is Evan's soccer team this year--the Black Hawks (Evan is the blond second from the left). Again, he has another nice coach, and enthusiastic assistant coach. One of the other players on his team is the son of a couple that used to work with Roger at Cessna, so it's been fun seeing them and chatting with them every week. Of course, soccer is done for the winter season, but come spring the team starts back up again--same team, which is one thing I like about AYSO. Evan went to a birthday party this weekend for someone from church and he was telling me he may not know any other kids that, but it will be okay because he makes friends pretty easily. Guess what? When we arrived at the party the couple from Cessna's son was there and so was the assistant soccer coach's son! They both are in the same class at school as the birthday boy. I knew Evan would have a great time at the party for sure!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Look What I Made: Yoyo Christmas Trees

We decided to make some homemade Christmas presents for some people this year and one idea was yo-yo trees. I had seen a tutorial on line for this over a year ago and wanted to attempt this last year, but didn't get around to it. I started before Thanksgiving and had so much fun. I made a total of 20.


A yo-yo is a term used in quilting. It is a piece of fabric cut into a circle and then the edge is tucked under a little and stitched all around. When you have finished stitching, you take the thread string from the beginning of your stitching and the thread string from the end of your stitching and pull them so that the fabric begins to close up into a circle; this is the yo-yo. A yo-yo tree is different sized yoyos stacked on top of each other. The pictures will make much more sense than me trying to explain it to you.

The first step was using my Cricket machine and cutting circles 3", 4", 5", 6", 7", 8", 9", and 10" in diameter. The card stock I had wasn't big enough for the larger size circles, so I made those sized circles with cereal boxes. Yep, the Cricket cuts cereal boxes=awesome!

Next, layer your fabrics on top of each other until it is eye pleasing to you. I chose to use a different patterned fabric for each yo-yo, but you could easily use as little as 2 different patterned fabrics and just keep alternating them--your the artist so the choice is yours! Beginning with the top layer, trace the 3" card stock circle onto your fabric, then the second layer fabric trace the 4" card stock circle onto that, the third layer fabric trace the 5" card stock circle, etc. Then, cut out all of the circles.

Thread a needle and begin sewing each circle, or yo-yo. Make sure to leave a tail at the beginning. The instructions I saw showed the yo-yo being stitched all the way around flat and then the tails pulled tight to enclose the yo-yo:

After doing a few yoyos like this, I realized I was wasting a lot of thread this way. So, I began pulling the yo-yo tight as I sewed and didn't waste as much thread:

How much thread do you need per yo-yo? I took my spool of thread and measured out enough thread for twice the diameter of each circle. For the larger yoyos, you will find that after pulling the tails and enclosing the yoyos and then cutting off your excess, that excess is long enough to use for some of your smaller yoyos on another tree:

Okay, so now you have all of your yoyos sewn. The next step is to slide them onto a dowel. You will have to cut a little snip in your yo-yo to make it slide onto the dowel. The thickness of the size dowel you want is totally up to you. I went to Michaels Arts and Crafts store and found a package of 20 dowels, I think 3/4" thick. You'll have to figure out the height to cut your dowels to based on the height of your trees--you may be making trees that are smaller (less yoyos), or taller (more yoyos). Hubby cut a dowel to the size we needed and used that as a template to cut all of the dowels the same size using his electric saw. I think with one dowel from the package, we were able to cut it into 2 or 3 pieces for the size we needed. Considering the package didn't cost very much, to be able to get 2 or 3 tree dowels from one dowel stick is very economical. You can see the dowel before it was cut in the following pics:

The next step I did was the tree topper. At Hobby Lobby I found a package of 24 different colored tiny ornament balls for 99 cents! I have seen other trees topped with buttons, or tiny wooden stars, so shop around for what you would prefer to top your tree with. Hubby worked his magic with one of his fancy tools in the garage and drilled holes into the balls so that they would sit on top of the tree. We then hot glued the balls onto the dowels.

Once the tree topper is glued on, slide your yo-yos back onto the dowel (you would have had to remove them to cut your dowel to size). Then, hot glue the dowel into whatever base you want to use. I found a package of spools at Michaels that fit my dowels perfectly. I'm sure there are all kinds of other things you can find that would make great bases. I will say that the spool may not be wide enough to fully support the tree, but if you maneuver your bottom yo-yo in a way that touches the table, or shelf, or whatever your tree is standing on, it will help your tree from tipping, which with the spools it can easily do if bumped.

I LOVE my trees!!! My church had a ladies gala last week and I decided to set up a table and try to sell some trees. I hadn't planned on doing this at all, but almost at the last minute I had so much fabric, and a lot of time to make trees, that I decided to give it a try. Out of 20 trees, I sold 9 and gave away one as a door prize. I think I want to make many more throughout the coming year and try selling them at a crafts fair or farmers market closer to next Christmas!

This tree has the traditional red, green, and white colors associated with Christmas.
This tree has some blue added into it.
This tree has some darker colors mixed together.