Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Halloween Costumes - What to Wear?

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas was on TV this morning, reminding me that Halloween is right around the corner. Time to get in gear. In the past, I've used Halloween as a creative outlet. I have really enjoyed making Kenzie's costumes and seeing her face light up when she saw the finished product.

My kids' first Halloween has always been simple. So far, they each have worn the pumpkin costume Baby Kenzie is modeling below that Brien's Mom made for his brother, Sean, when he was a baby. We called Kenzie, PumpKenz. and Connor, PumpCon. Sadly, Cooper's name doesn't quite go with the pumpkin tradition, but he wore it anyway last year. (His birthday is October 24th, so he arrived just in time for Halloween.) Cousin Owen's name fits - JackOwentern, so it's definitely time to pass down the pumpkin costume to Sean and Martha. After all, it was made for Sean originally. So, I will have to get on the ball and start thinking about what to do for Cooper this year, but first...

A trip down Halloween memory lane:
2006 - PumpKenz

2007 - Butterfly & PumpCon (notice the drool)

2008 - Wall-E & Coggy Doggy (Blogged about these that year)

2009 - Jessie from Toy Story 2 (and now 3), Cowboy & plain old Pumpkin

My, does time fly!

This year, Kenzie, like all little girls, wants to be a princess, and Connor says he wants to be Spider Man, so it doesn't look like I'll be using any creativity this time around since I don't sew, but I thought posting about a few of my past costumes might come in handy if you are looking for some do-it-yourself ideas.

Butterfly Costume
I loved making Kenzie's butterfly wings. For the wings, all I needed was a yard or two of thick black elastic, two pieces of black foam board, glue, colored construction paper, tape and spray glitter. For the antenna, I added some pipe cleaners to a head band we already had. I dressed Kenzie in a black turtleneck onesie over black pants and put some of my old black dress socks over her tennis shoes, and voila, the cutest butterfly ever.

Cowboy Boots
Toy Story Jessie WigFor Connor's cowboy outfit, I didn't want to spend any money on a pair of boots. He couldn't be a cowboy without them, so I used some craft supplies on hand - brown foam sheets, a black marker and some string - to make some fake ones to wear with some brown shoes he already had. Black shoes would have worked too. Folded in half and rounded edges with scissors, drew a boot design with marker, cut a hole on each side, looped the string through and tied in a bow in back. Mission accomplished.

Yarn Toy Story Jessie Wig
My mother-in-law helped me with this simple solution. We had a hand me down costume, but the wig was long gone, so we bought reddish yarn, cut long strips the same length, took a short string and tied around it in a knot in the middle. We put it around Kenzie's head (with the knot centered in the middle of her forehead) and took the two pieces and tied in a knot at the back. Then we cut more string lengths to make the third section of the braid. We tied this section in the middle with a short string just like the first. We laid this new piece over the knot and braided into the original two pieces. We used another short string to tie off the end, trimmed it up so the yarn was the same length, and the wig was ready to go. We didn't need to make it any thicker because the top of her head was hidden by the Jessie hat.

I hope these ideas come in handy or even inspire you to make your own solution that works with your kids' costumes this year. It is so much fun to get everyone all dressed up for Halloween.

A Furniture Painting Project in My Future?

I acquired some furniture from my Grandmother, Kathleen, when she passed away earlier this year. (We miss our GiGi, and it is nice having reminders of her here and there throughout our home.)

This furniture looks a little out of place in my living room because it is definitely a dated style, but it has grown on me. I replaced the fabric in the panes with the help of my mother-in-law. Previously, my Grandmother had used some cream-colored sheers that just looked dingy with age. Anyhow, when looking at the All Things Thrifty blog today I saw a hutch paint project how-to performed by Brooke at the Crafting Chicks, and I want to know if you think I should do the same treatment on my current hutch.

Here's Brooke's finished product:

Notice how similar these pieces look - specifically, the design on the doors. They could be made by the same manufacturer. Granted, mine looks much better than this one's before picture, in my opinion. It's in great shape and the color complements my current kitchen cabinetry, so it goes in a mismatch kind of way. So, the question is, should I tackle this project (knowing I could totally botch), or leave as is? I also have a matching buffet table that I would do, and I use red throughout my decorating already... I'd just have to choose a shade that doesn't clash with my brick fireplace shown here.

I'd really like to hear what you think!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cowgirl Soccer, Disney on Ice and More

Cowgirl Soccer
The Cowgirls have now begun their conference games, which kicked off with a win over Baylor on Friday - very physical game. The Cowgirls won 2-1, and the first goal was scored by none other than...

wait for it...

Kristen Kelley!

- her first goal of the season. Okay, I know, that build up was really annoying, but we were so happy to be there to experience that moment with her. Cooper was still excited about the goal even after the game was over.

After the game, Kristen took Kenzie to stay with her through Sunday. Kristen had asked if she could keep Kenzie when her schedule allowed, and this ended up being the big weekend. We surprised Kenzie after the game with the news. She was so excited to stay with her Aunt Kristen at the athletic dorms. (While Kenzie was off Connor had his own special day planned Sat. with Nana and Papa at Incredible Pizza, so, don't worry, Kenzie wasn't the only one with fun in store.) Kenzie spent some time hanging out at the Chi-O house, went to a Stillwater festival, had dinner with Uncle Timmy on Saturday night and spent extra time with Mama Joe and Grandad before we were back in Stillwater on Sunday to intercept her before the game against Texas Tech - another Cowgirl win, making a 9-1-1 record, 2-0 Big 12.

Post game autograph duties

On the topic of Chi-Os and soccer, the house had these shirts made in support of Kristen, which I thought was an awesome gesture and I know had to make Kristen feel special.

Brien told me "Protect Our House" is an Under Armour slogan. Didn't have a clue, but I like how it ties together. Cute idea.

Since my marathon vacation posts, I have a couple of game updates I didn't get to from two weeks ago. The Cowgirls beat Mississippi State 6-0 in Stillwater and tied Colorado College Sunday in Colorado, moving their ranking from 13 to 12 in the nation. This particular weekend Brien, Cooper and I were in St. Louis with Brien's parents watching Claire's Bishop Kelley volleyball team play some stiff competition - I'm talking top teams in the nation, so we didn't get to be there for Kristen's games.

Disney on Ice
Where were Kenzie and Connor while we were in St. Louis? They had their own special weekend planned with Aunt Katy and Kimmo in OKC. The aunties treated Kenzie to Disney on Ice last year, and this year Connor was old enough (and potty trained) to join in the fun. The kids loved the show. We were told Kenzie was glued to the performance the whole time, while Connor outwardly showed his excitement as each new character made an appearance.

Kimmo with Connor and Kenz


Fun at the fair

Katy is Kenzie's Godmother, while Kim is Connor's, and Connor is always telling Kim that she is his "Grandmother" - makes me laugh every time.

The kids love spending time with their aunts (and uncles too - don't want to leave anyone out) - especially when cotton candy is involved - and we love having so much family eager to take our kids off on new adventures.

North Face Deals
If you are like me and like North Face, but their prices not so much, then you might want to check out Just got a Khumbu North Face jacket for my upcoming birthday (in Dec) for $61.99, no tax, free shipping (for orders over $99). The same one retails for $80 in stores. They have some other cute styles on sale too that are past season such as the Women's Resolve Jacket. I couldn't tell the difference in the past season Khumbu and new ones except that there are more colors available... Get some coupon codes at, and you'll get an even sweeter deal. Brien ended up using the $25 off your purchase of $125 or more code, essentially making my jacket about $37 since he bought something else - he and his mom also went in to get me this Columbia Kaleidaslope jacket. The suggested retail price of this jacket plus tax ended up being about the same as the two jackets combined online after the coupon was entered, allowing me to get two things I wanted instead of one. Happy birthday to me!

(Note: The coupon says some exclusions apply. Brien tried the $30 off $150 or more, and it didn't work, but the $25 off $125 or more did for our shopping cart items, so if you find something you like, it might take some trial and error to find one that works - worth a shot anyway...)

Anyhow, I never find North Face items on sale in stores, so I wanted to share. Brien, by the way, is the one I (and you?) can thank for this good deal.

Connor's New Best Friend
On a final note, I wasn't kidding when I said Connor has a new attachment to his rocking horse ever since we returned home from the Hughes' farm. Snapped this picture last week while Connor was napping...with his rocking horse.

We've made an effort to keep our kids from getting attached to stuffed animals or blankets, "lovies" as some of our friends call them. Oh well, at least he can't take this one out of the house, though he probably would if we let him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Vaca Part Four: Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur

Okay, so this is the final vacation post. I originally included in Part 3, but it was getting way too long even without this segment.

Day 6:
Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur

My dad grew up in Tishomingo and my late Grandma Cleatis lived there for a long while. In fact, we still have my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Larry who live there today. From Shawnee, we would travel through Sulphur to get to Tishomingo, so our family would often stop and swim at the national park in Sulphur. This park would make our final vacation stop.

Cathy knew of the perfect trail just the right distance for the kids that we could follow to a lookout point over the park. We had to be extra careful since poison ivy lined the edges of the trail here and there. Once we made it to the top and back we had worked up an appetite and were ready for a picnic lunch along the spring. We chose a place recommended because it was much warmer than other swimming areas for the kids to splash and play.

Kenzie and Connor were supposed to keep Cooper on his feet for this picture...

Next, we headed to the most popular swimming area of the park, Little Niagra, and that water was ice cold, just as we remembered it would be! Took Kenzie and Connor a while to get all the way in, but they didn't mind the temperature too much after a little while.

Cooper's initial reaction to the cold water. Don't worry, we only stuck his feet in a minute, and he immediately relaxed after the initial shock, all smiles as usual. Don't know why we even bothered putting on a swim diaper.

We told the kids to say goodbye to the park, and we were off.

After so much activity I was worried the kids would be so bored at home, but was quickly reminded that in a few short days they would be off on their next adventure with their aunts to go see Disney on Ice in OKC. Always something going on.

We are so thankful for all of our family and friends that made our trip possible and so memorable for us. We are truly blessed.

My wheels are already turning thinking about what we'll do next year on our vacation. I'm thinking Branson may be in our future...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vaca Part Three: Farm Living

Day 5:
Kenzie woke up bright and early excited what the new day would bring. Brien's mom took her outside to run around with the grasshoppers while we were getting up and moving and when they came back inside Kenzie stated, "This isn't a farm. There's no barn!" In her mind, a farm didn't exist without one. Little did she know that she just hadn't seen the whole operation yet.

Uncle Chris took Kenzie and Connor out on the land to feed the cows, and then we loaded up the car and made our way to Arbuckle Wilderness with plans to meet up at the dairy farm later that day.

Arbuckle Wilderness
I have fond memories of my parents taking me and my sister, Holly, to Arbuckle Wilderness when we were kids, so I knew our family was in for a treat. Brien had never been. On a Monday morning we pretty much had the park to ourselves. We bought three cups of animal feed, and Theresa got the kids a magazine that pictured all the animals so we could mark off all we came across. (Kenzie loved taking the book for show and tell last week, and I'm amazed that she can remember so many unusual animal names.)

As we drove through, the animals came running right up to our windows to get a bite to eat. We saw alpacas, llamas, emus, donkeys, zebras, and giraffes, to name a few. Kenzie and Connor were fearless when the animals came up to the windows and petted them while they ate from their cups - until we came upon the camels. Their long necks stretched all the way in our car going for the food cups in our console, while Kenzie was sitting in my lap. It was hilarious. We quickly learned to just crack the window to feed the camels. We didn't even bother with the ostriches. I distinctly remember an ostrich ripping the cup from my hand and running off with it when I was little, and when we fed the first one, he almost got away with my cup again. I knew the kids wouldn't be able to hold on.
Arbuckle Wilderness
Arbuckle Wilderness
Arbuckle Wilderness
Near the end of our tour we had a not so great experience. We were so excited to see the zebras and feed them, but as we started to drive off the zebras began attacking a baby calf! They repeatedly picked it up in their mouths and violently shook it back and forth, while the mom watched from the sidelines - she was no match for the zebras. We found the park number to alert their staff to intervene. A little while later a man appeared and picked up the calf and loaded it in the truck. He stopped and told us not to worry that he was fine and acted surprised about the incident. Cathy later told us that baby animals are very resilient - much tougher than they look. Anyhow, this made an impression on Kenzie who proceeded to tell everyone about those mean zebras that hurt the baby calf. I just told her it was a good thing we were there to call someone to save him. It probably didn't help matters that I was freaking out as it happened.
Arbuckle Wilderness
We ended up spending about an hour and a half at Arbuckle Wilderness since no one was behind us. Though the conclusion of the trip put a damper on our spirits, overall we had a great time and will definitely go again in a few years when Cooper is a little older. Seeing the kids faces and excitement as the different animals approached was priceless.

Turner Falls Lookout
While in Davis, we had to show the kids Turner Falls. Originally, I wanted to make the park a destination, but then decided Cooper would slow us down too much. We'll probably go there next year. Connor was excited to see the falls from the lookout and called it "Paradise Falls" from the Movie Up. They love that show. We could see only one couple in the park from the lookout! Would have loved having the park to ourselves.
Turner Falls Lookout
Dairy Farm
Now, for the farm fun. The dairy farm was down the road and across the street from the Hughes' home. We got the kids dressed in their jeans and boots and headed that way. When we arrived we got to witness the cows getting milked on the machines. We learned the Hughes sell their milk to the Hiland distributors, which we buy sometimes. Lots of work goes into milking those cows and running the farm!

Next, it was time to ride horses. Kenzie was insistent that she ride a white one. I attributed to Disney princess movies, but when we asked she said she wanted to be like Hannah Montanna - go figure. Kenzie rode with Uncle Chris, and Connor with cousin Blake on his horse, Dark Baby. Connor's still talking about Dark Baby. Oddly, since we've been home, Connor is suddenly loving his rocking horse, so much that he's pulled it up into his bed to snuggle with at night!

Connor trick riding bareback

Blake is so good with the kids.

Then, they got to pet a baby calf.

Kenzie and Connor collected eggs from the chicken coop with Aunt Cathy, and only dropped two in the process. Love those farm fresh eggs. While in the coop, Connor caught a chicken by the tail feathers. Have no idea what inspired him to do that, but no one seemed to mind, thank goodness.

Meanwhile, Cooper just hung out the whole time. We were so glad that Brien's Mom was there to help watch him and share our experience with Connor and Kenzie. Had to snap a picture of Cooper on this bright green chair.

Cathy's Birthday
Monday was Cathy's birthday, and we loved celebrating with their family. Mrs. Kelley bought some delicious ribs from a local restaurant, and Cathy prepared fresh vegetable sides from the farm for dinner. Then, we enjoyed a wonderful three-layered birthday cake made and delivered by Mama Joe herself. Ashley arrived late because she was tied up with softball, but we all enjoyed visiting with her when she made it home. Needless to say, the kids slept very well after a full day of fun and feasting. I think we all did.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vaca Part Two: Dallas, TX

Day 2: OSU v SMU Soccer
After we checked out of the hotel last Friday we headed to stay with Brien's best friend, Clint Dunbar. He has a great apartment in Plano - so nice to be able to stay with him now. We completely took over his place, which is right in the middle of a lively area of town with plenty to do. We stayed out of his hair while he worked until it was time to head out to tailgate before the SMU - OSU soccer game. OSU beat SMU 2-1. It was a lackluster performance by the Cowgirls, but we still walked away with the win, and it's always fun to watch Kristen in action.

Day 3:
OU Football at Tim's & Andrea's

Saturday we stopped by the home of Brien's Uncle Tim and his Aunt Andrea to watch the OU football game and eat the best brisket lunch ever. I need to take notes next time since I don't know the first thing about cooking meat, and they clearly do. Kenzie and Connor loved playing with cousins Kaitlyn and Dillon and Brendan too, who didn't make it in this picture. Any time dress up clothes are involved, Kenzie will be having fun. Love their fruit punch faces in this picture.

The Shops at Legacy
That night we headed back to the apartment and went out for a patio dinner at the Shops at Legacy. Very hot and humid outside, but still an enjoyable way to spend our evening.

Stopped for ice cream before the girls turned in with the kiddos, and the boys went out for a fun time at Sam Buca.

Day 4: OSU v TCU Soccer
On Sunday we headed to Fort Worth to catch the OSU TCU soccer game. Brien's cousin, Jackie Torda, plays for the Horned Frogs, so we had a big family tailgate hosted by Brien's Aunt Fran and Uncle Jay with tons of great food, drinks and family on hand. Jackie is a senior this year, and since this game would be the only time the two girls would face each other, family attendance was in full effect.

Mama Joe wore purple and orange scarves to support both teams. Brien's Uncle Jim and cousin Nathan flew in from Kansas, and Aunt Cathy and cousin Ashley drove from Sulphur. Brien's Mom and sister, Katy, also came to support the girls, as well as cousin Carrie, her husband Michael and baby Will (not pictured) on his dad's side. The Cowgirls won once again - Yay!

Bought these "eye black" stickers at Chris' University Spirit in Stillwater for $2.99 (4 in a package) for the kids' faces - a perfect substitute for paint to show school spirit with no mess! The tricky part is getting the kids to keep them on since they want to stick them on everything. Kenzie's was long gone by the end of the game. They also come in black.

After the game we packed up and made our way to Sulphur, OK with Brien's mom this time to experience some country living on Aunt Cathy's and Uncle Chris' dairy farm - such a fun experience I'll go into in my next post.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vaca Part One: Great Wolf Lodge

Brien had several vacation days to burn that he couldn't carry over, so we decided to plan our first ever family vacation. With two of Kristen's soccer games in Dallas on the calendar, we centered our plans around the games for what would make an unforgettable trip.

Day 1: Great Wolf Lodge
We left Tulsa early Thursday morning to head to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas. We have been wanting to go there for a while, but it's kind of pricey, so we waited for the rates to go down after school started up and booked on a weekday to get the best deal. We also got a discount through Brien's work. We booked a standard family room, and Brien asked for a free upgrade when we checked in since it never hurts to ask. Request granted! We got to stay in their KidCabin suite with three cute single bunk beds in addition to a queen bed and pull out sofa for under $200. The upgrade also gave us two extra water park bands, so we couldn't let those go to waste. We called up Sean and Martha and they dropped everything and made it there by ten that evening.

KidCabin Bunk Beds - Too Cute
Great Wold Lodge

Killing Time in the Arcade after Playing in the Water Park All Day & Waiting for Sean & Martha to Arrive
Great Wolf Lodge

Cashed in Their Tickets for Some New Teeth
Great Wolf Lodge

Having Sean and Martha with us ended up being a huge help. We took turns watching kids so we all got to go down the water slides. (They had baby Owen with them too.) I was really surprised what a wild ride some of the slides are - crazy fun.

Family Picture Minus Cooper Just Before 1,000 Gallons of Water Dumped on Us
Great Wolf Lodge

View of Water Park - See the Bucket on Top of Fort Mackenzie that Dumps the Water - Kenzie Loved the Name, of Course
Great Wolf Lodge

Toddler Play Area - Even Cooper Could Go Down These Slides
Great Wolf Lodge

If you haven't been before, this place is awesome. We plan to go back just as soon as Connor grows another three inches to allow him to go on more rides. They have a 42" height minimum for the milder tube slides, and kids are measured before you enter the water park. Kenzie is just barely at 42". We actually had to request a manager to come remeasure her because she was denied her colored wrist band the first round. Kenzie was measured first, so when it was Connor's turn we couldn't get him to stand flat footed. He wanted so badly to get the same band as Kenzie. It was hilarious watching him try to make himself taller on his toes, lifting his chin and standing up as straight as he could to no avail - wasn't even close, but we think he'll be there when we're ready to return, and next time we'll be leaving Cooper at home with family until he reaches that height milestone too.

Over the next few days I'll continue blogging about what happened next on our six-day adventure, and I may even come back to this post and add some video.