Wednesday, March 5, 2014

That Time We Went to Disneyland

Hello out there? Anybody? I took a look at my blog and realized I hadn't posted since NOVEMBER! I started this post about Disneyland right after we got back and here it sat, in the limbo land of "draft".  I hate it when I don't do things chronologically, so even though the reasons I haven't posted might be post worthy in and of themselves, I have to honor my internal sense of order. Let's get Disney out of the way so we can move on to Christmas (good gosh, I'm delinquent). 

Although the kids were a little confused that we didn't walk off the plane and into the arms of Mickey Mouse, we did try to prepare them that we had to get to Disneyland AFTER landing in California and staying there a couple of days. With a beach and a hotel room to distract them, it wasn't too much of a problem. 

Once the last group joined up with us, we did a little sight seeing, had lunch and then headed to the land of Mickey. We had 3 day passes, but didn't want them to start on a half day, so after we checked in, we just took a stroll around downtown Disney, a free area outside the actual parks. Built, I'm guessing, to suck money from you by way of restaurants and gift shops. They were a success with us, as we left with a $60 "Cars" car hauler from the Disney store. It was a good sized hauler, full of die cast "Cars" vehicles. A steal when you are 4 and have a pocket full of birthday cash.

As you read this, if you've never done such a trip, read it with the understanding that there are 3 kiddos, 1 needing multiple naps and 2 still taking a 2-3 hour nap every day...and it wasn't happening.  Also, an uber-organized type A and her equally A typed daughter, who happens to have an app that has organized our day based on an algorithm of Disney attendance, line waits and fast pass availability. Her disclaimer on Day One, before we entered the gate, "You may not understand why we are about to do what we do, but you will do it. There will be no whims taken." She had this planned to the minute. Even I was impressed. Did it all go as planned? No. But by following her plan, we saved hours in line as she checked wait times before we made any decisions on which way to go. 

Also in the mix was the newly engaged couple. Trying to have a good time, boss everyone around and not scare off the new daughter-to-be was a challenge in itself. I really like her and we Cloud girls can be a little, oh, I don't know, overwhelming maybe. I didn't want to look like an overbearing MIL. Fortunately, my son picked a woman who has true Cloud qualities. She fit right in and even soldiered on with a fever. She can boss with the best of us! My admiration for her grew considerably.

I have to say, despite the above disclaimer, we had a wonderful time. The kids absolutely LOVED seeing the characters. Helena ran to everyone she saw and gave them a big hug. We rode rides, ate park food that we swore we wouldn't eat (because we were staying across the street and had sandwich fixin's to save money. Uh huh, that worked) and generally drank the Mickey Kool aid.  On the first day, we did go back for a nap and some snack sandwiches. We had to get ready for the big event that evening, Reid's birthday at Goofy's Kitchen. 





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The next day, we just enjoyed the park, skipping back and forth between California Adventure and Disneyland. We were able to split up so we could ride "scary" rides and still let the littles to their thing. Our hotel had a heated pool and huge hot tub, so we tried to take advantage of that, too. The hot tub confused Reid. He wanted to know why the pool had bubbles like Mamie's Diet Coke and why we weren't talking to the men that were in the hot tub with us. Day 3 was Helena's birthday dinner and we enjoyed a great time. We were especially lucky because a photographer from the park agreed to come with us to the restaurant and take some pictures of the party. She said no one had ever requested that before, wasn't sure if it was ok, but better to ask forgiveness, huh? I did go to the photo pass customer service place and asked there, first thing in the morning and she was the manager, so I guess that helped. So glad I did, because the place was daaaaarrrk and I don't know if I could have gotten anything.

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I wrote a ton more about the trip, but the internet ate it, so I'm just going to post pictures and close by saying I have the best family in the world. They all wore the costumes...uh, I mean, outfits. All 9 of us were camped out in 2 connected rooms, traveled around in a classy 12 passenger van and tagged out taking care of cranky babes. We will definitely be doing it again.







Friday, November 22, 2013

Project Repurpose Runway

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When we got back from California, I was ready to rest. Lots of sewing and then intense family fun and travel wore me out. Then I got home. Christmas fabric staring at me, it was t minus 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, and, most importantly, Helena had nothing to wear with her black patent boots. Meg called and said, "So, what is she gonna wear with these boots you wanted me to buy? She has nothing winter-y." Grandma fail.

I immediately went to work. Years ago, Meg had given me a couple of wool skirts that I just loved. I even wore them a few times, but recently they became a little, um, snug. I'm not sure what causes that sort of mass shrinkage of everything in the closet, but I decided to make lemonade. I cut one skirt down to make a pixie sized one for Helena. I loved the winter white and the subtle roses on it. Banana Republic would be proud. I found a tutorial online that I loosely followed, but can't find it again for the life of me. Should've pinned it because I'd like to give credit for the inspiration.
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Lovin' that pleat!

Next, houndstooth. I love it. Yeeeears ago, when Steve and Barry's was still around, I got this great coat. I loved it and it was only $10! Sadly, the same shrinkage occurred with it. I had gotten a ton of wear out of it, but couldn't bear to throw it out with the last purge. Nothing cuter than a houndstooth jumper with black patent boots, agree? I found some velvet I had hoarded and there you have it. 


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photo from threewishesstyle.com 


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Needs some pressing, but you get the idea.

Outfit #3 was also an old skirt Meg had given me. I had gotten some winter white knit to do a top for Helena, but decided it would be better used as leggings. I used some vintage buttons from my bottomless button jar to finish it out. 
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The only thing I had to buy was a zipper, I was fresh out of black ones.  Using repurposed clothes, fabric out of my stash and old buttons, I was able to make 3 lined outfits. Not bad for a day's work.


And one more, with the boots.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

California or Bust

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Disney had been penciled in on our collective calendars for almost a year. We wrote it in ink about 6 months before and then put down the bucks about 4 months before. I started smocking in May and designing the outfits before that. Craziness, but typical crazy. This was the trip I dreamed about when my kids were little, but we couldn't afford. It was what I envisioned the ultimate grandparent trip would be.  We saved our pennies, traded work for plane tickets (thanks, Tanya, a.k.a. the greatest neighbor in the world) and cashed in frequent flier points. Everyone was able to get off work and, let me tell you, we were beyond excited. You know how we get. 

One post isn't enough to share the fun, but here is how is started.

We found the Mickey ears that we bought for Meg when she was 9 months old. Coincidentally, we were at Disneyland then because we were flying standby to Washington DC and got bumped off in Denver. With no chance to get a flight (they were canceling service in a couple of weeks so all flights were full from then on. Nice to find out midway thru the trip). Anyway, we decided to make the best of it and headed west instead of east. Our bags had a great time in DC. 

Back to the ears. They were in the attic, kinda moth eaten. I took the plastic ears off the beanie and made a new beanie with some felt. I sewed the ears on and glued on the emblem. 

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Everyone took a turn with them. Kenny, Meg, Reid, and Clark left from Love Field first. We had to book an early one to make sure they "made" the flight.

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Helena and I were next, out of DFW 2 hours later.

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B and KC took Eddie back to Love Field that afternoon.

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They didn't have their flight until the next day.

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While we waited for them to get there, we got to enjoy the beach, Happy Hour at the hotel (free lemonade and nachos for the kids, which we called dinner) and the pool.  We decided the next morning that even if we went home then, it had been a great vacation.

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More on the real fun later.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Time I Planned a Little Trip to Disney

Last year, birthdays got a little crazy around here. It was easy to throw big do's when there was one. Reid's 1st and 2nd were easy peasy. Last year, though, I had Reid's 3rd and Helena's 1st within 2 weeks of each other. A beating. A fun beating, but a beating nonetheless. So much so that I told Meg no more fall babies. She honored that request by telling me 2 weeks after Helena's birthday that we would have a summer baby the next year. Be careful what you ask for.

Anyway, no more big parties except for the first (Clark, you can rest easy). Instead, small family get togethers except for the "big" years. What about instead, I thought, a little trip? Reid loves to travel so maybe I could take him to Disneyland. I fly space available and have access to a hotel employee discount, so why not? Meg was agreeable, to a certain extent. Maybe Papaw could get off and go, too. It happened. Well, if Papaw was going, why not bring Helena? We could schedule it around her 2nd birthday, but a little before, and she'd be free...

I think this was the tipping point. Meg said Helena could go, but was sad that she was going to miss seeing the excitement on their faces when they met Mickey, et al. I told her if they could scrape together the moola and Eddie could get off, why not join us. Then B got wind of the fun and he and his girlfriend (now fiancee) wanted to be a part of it. Now nine people will be a part of my "little" trip to Disney and, just like the birthday parties, I've lost control. A spiraling frenzy of sewing, crafting and planning, which is my trademark to anything that needs a plan, has overtaken the Honeysuckle House. 

Because our budget is tight, we had to work some magic.

The plan: 
9 people, only one buying an actual ticket. The rest on stand by, buddy passes or frequent flyer. This will require 2 days, 2  departure airports, 2 airlines and 4 different flights. 

Hotel, 2 rooms that also include breakfast (have you met my SIL and husband? This will save us hundreds) and an airport shuttle for arrival and departure (no need for cabs or transfers) for the nights in LA. For 3 days, a hotel across the street from Disneyland that includes free parking, breakfast and has a fridge. We can walk back over to eat and take naps during the day.We got a great discount because we paid for it last summer and it was nonrefundable. Scary, but worth it.

A 12 passenger van so luggage and 3 car seats will fit. Did you know it's cheaper to get a small van from a van rental place than a regular van at a car rental place? Now you do.

Disney 3 day park hopper - 6 military passes for the adults (relatively CHEAP) and a military discount for Reid. The other 2 kids are free.

Other things deemed necessary by me:

Autograph books for the kids. Nothing big and I wanted them to be personal, so I made them with Disney Little Golden Books. I designed the paper on PS and just printed it at home on card stock. I took the books apart, trimmed down the pages and glued the new ones in. I was careful not to tear the gold tape on the spine.
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Last summer, I upholstered a cushion for Meg's patio. We've discussed before how I am a fabric hoarder and, true to form, I had put back the scraps from that project "just in case". I couldn't think of a good reason to keep them, though, so I almost threw it out. I had a change of heart as I went to the trash can a few months ago and shoved the bag in the closet. Lucky I did, too. Bags for the girls! Something to hold our stuff but not be bothered with purses. Bonus points, also autograph-able.

Scraps of drop cloth, a yard of fabric, vintage buttons and old fireman suspenders.
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Oh, and coordinating outfits...for everyone...everyday.  And Disney jammies for the kids.

The jammies are just t-shirts that I found on sale at Joann. I bought each one a different one in large. Reid will just wear his as a sleep shirt. I made Clark's into a romper and cut Helena's into a gown. They are the kind the kids can color, but Meg forbade me from letting the kids color them or even coloring them myself. They would bleed in the wash, blah, blah, blah. (Note: this has happened to her before) Party pooper.

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Flight day outfits are only for the kids and since Helena won't be flying with the boys, they didn't have to match. The kids will be celebrating their birthdays there, so I wanted Reid to have a shirt with a 4 on it. I had lots of shirts monogrammed so I used one for this. Clark's has just his name and the ears on it. I made Helena a dress that used just about every polka dot I could find and lots of giant rick rack. It's hard to get away with that unless you have a reason.


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B said Reid's Disney font "4" looks like a Satanic symbol. Thanks for ruining that from me, bud.



Day one at Disney. I started the smocking on Helena's dress in May. I'm slow. I found the retro Disney comic fabric and used that to tie the outfits together. The buttons on the dress are covered in it, the boys have chambray with appliques and the adults have reverse appliqued Mickeys.
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A closeup of Reid's shirt.
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Day 2. I saw the Minnie and Mickey backs on Pinterest and knew it had to happen. A talented friend, Amy, sketched the backs of all the Disney characters and I cut them out and apart to make templates. I cut out the fabric, ironed it on the back of the shirts with fusible webbing and then appliqued them. A friend of Meg's, Jillian, did all the monogramming for me. If you need someone to do that kind of work for you, give me a call and I'll hook you up. I wasn't sure how big Clark would be by now, so instead of a shirt, I made a large romper with a man's large t-shirt. 


Kenny and I are Mickey and Minnie.
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B and KC are Goofy and Clarabelle.
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For Meg, Eddie and the kids. How could they not be Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie?
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The front of the shirt has each person's name monogrammed.
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Day 3. Helena's birthday party day,  I wanted her to have a really special dress. This dress just about caused me to pull my hair out, but I LOVE it! I did the boys's in black and white seersucker and inset the appliqued Mickey trio (again, done by Jillian) into the outfits.


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I wanted the adults to coordinate, but felt like I was pushing it with another appliqued shirt. Instead, I saw this stuff call Dye Magnet and decided to dye the shirts. Using the 3 Mickeys, I designed a layout on PS, printed it on freezer paper and used the cutout for a template. I "stenciled" the Mickeys with the Dye Magnet and then dyed the shirts with black. The magnet holds more dye so the stenciled parts come out darker. Cool, huh?
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To protect all this fantastic-ness from Clark's continuous flow of spit, I've made a few bibs to match the outfits. 
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Jillian made and appliqued a precious bow to go with one outfit and I made a few more (only one for each day, no need to go overboard). She, of course, also needed socks to match. My favorites are the vintage button Minnies. 

The socks. Oh, my heart hurts.
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See the cute Mickey appliqued on the bow?
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Rag roses on the clip with ruffled socks and some rick rack trimmed socks to go with her Huey shirt.
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All packed away in ziplocs according to the day on which they will be worn.
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We leave Saturday, so it remains to be seen if we all actually get to Disney in them. Clark is a big spitter and can also blow out an outfit in the blink of an eye. The adults...that's a maybe, too. They SAY they will wear them, but we will see. More to come.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chi-town

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Summer was technically over, but being we live in Texas, it was still hot as Hades, so we still consider it so.  Our last trip of the summer was to Chicago. Eddie had a conference to attend, so why not go and crash that fancy hotel room with 3 kids, their mom and the granny. Poor Eddie. He really wanted to be all grown up and professional but that's hard to do when the crew is going up and down the private elevator (executive floor, woot woot!!!) and making off with stashes of the free Diet Coke and, well, any food we could find. 

We started off rough, which seems to be my summer trip theme, by getting bumped off our first flight. 6 hours in an airport wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 2 napped pretty well and Reid just watched airplanes...endlessly. When we finally got on, they were able to put all of us together, stretched across an aisle. You "space available" friends know how hard that is to get. The kids were in heaven. I had packed a home made Lunchable box and they were excited to get to eat the secret goodies. The flight attendant felt sorry for us (I think) and gave us a bunch of the snacks, gratis. He said he wished he had a grandma like me. Now, I think he looked kinda old, so maybe he meant a sweet auntie, because surely he didn't think I was old enough to be his granny. Regardless, I'll let him think what he wants for the free nibbles.



All the delays made our arrival late and then we had a 45 minute train ride into the city. Not pretty. Carting 3 kids, the luggage and a double stroller up an escalator and 2 flights of subway stairs was the worst thing I've ever done. Ever. Ever. It required getting 2 kids up the stairs halfway, setting them down with a bag, running down, carrying a suitcase up, running down and helping carry the stroller up, with Clark strapped to Meg. Repeat. For 2 loooong flights. At 10:00 at night.

Everything got better when we saw a private elevator and heard about the free breakfast and happy hour snacks. And no one can feel down when you realize your are executive floor material. 

The next few days we tooled around Chicago by bus, water taxi and L train. We went to their fabulous zoo, which is free, and to the aquarium, which is so NOT free. We ate at some great places and enjoyed the city. I didn't get near enough time there, but I saw enough to make me want to plan another trip to see more.


Polar bear at the zoo.
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Penguins at the aquarium.
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Millenium Park
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First Chicago hotdog.
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Cranking out a penny for our travel necklace.
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My favorite. The guy taking the pic kept saying "smile!" to Reid. I told him that's how Reid always smiles. Oops.
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Seeing the sites.
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