Wednesday, October 31

Playing Together

One of my favorite changes about the boys is their ability and willingness to play together.  It's still a lot of taking things from each other--but sometimes they'll play with the same thing and it's sweet.

The trains have been very popular in our house lately--the boys (mostly Braden!) are deeply in love with Thomas.  They do a decent job sharing the trains--I think we're going to have to put train parts on the boys' Christmas lists!

These pictures are also a testament to how important it is to get your setting right in camera and look for places with good light.  The boys are playing in the exact same spot--but this second set was on a sunnier day where they could be lit with natural light.  Much prettier.

And also, Braden's curls kill me.

They really do a pretty good job sharing--Finley is getting better about not taking things from Braden, and when Braden demolishes stuff he reacts much better... complaining to me rather than tackling. I think that's an improvement.

Neither of the boys are big enough to pedal our tricycle, but they really love to sit on it.

And this is what happens when I ask Finley to hug Braden.  Braden wasn't a fun of the hug.

In one of the sweeter moments of the Hurricane, Finley really wanted to fix my table.  He got his tools and a flashlight to do his work.  Of course, Braden hustled over to "help."

Lately, Braden has thought it's funny to tackle Finley.  He'll try to lay on him and tickle him.

They both think it's hilarious.  It mostly just includes them giggling, but it's very sweet.

I'm so glad I get to spend my days watching these two play--and more and more figure out how to play together!

Monday, October 29

Finley, the Artist

I normally wait a month between Instagram recaps--but these pictures cracked me up too much not to share right away.  Finley is intermittently into coloring... most of the time he isn't interested.  But last night he really wanted to draw.  I think it's because he found a dry erase marker and that made it extra special.  First I caught him tracing his hand.

...kind of. Bad news Finley, Inigo Montoya is looking for you. Cracked me right up. And then he decided to draw a picture of him and then one of me.

PUNK. Please tell me that's not what I look like. I mean, he pretty much nailed my hair, but that's about it.  As he was drawing his mouth he (ironically!) told me he was going to have a happy mouth, implying he DOES understand what smiling is. And he told me I was going to have a rectangle mouth with teeth, a tongue and those dots are something about lemons.  I really didn't understand.  I was too busy trying to not die laughing. Good thing I don't have fragile self esteem...

Friday, October 26

Sleeping Braden

Braden loves to sleep. As soon as I say, "Braden, do you want to go night-night and see Tucker?" he starts walking towards his room and sticks his thumb in his mouth. It's precious. And such a nice change of pace--to have a kid who loves to go to bed and doesn't fight you on sleep.

He loves that thumb and that giraffe. And I love those sweaty curls. And I love that he stayed asleep while I opened windows to get enough light to snap this picture.

Wednesday, October 24

How to Make Russell and Mr. Fredricksen Costumes

If you've been following the blog long, you'll know that the boys love, LOVE the movie UP.  It's our go to movie to watch in the car on long trips.  One of Braden's first tricks was to do the Wilderness Explorer call and cross his heart.  Finley has long insisted that we call him Russell and would make us act out scenes from UP, over and over.

So obviously, I had to make the boys be Russell and Mr. Fredricksen for Halloween.  I really didn't have a choice.  Even though the movie is three years old, I figured if people didn't know who the boys were they would still look like a boy scout and an old man (or as it turned out, Braden could also be mistaken for a hipster. Which is a hilarious baby costume, BTW.)  This seemed like a much safer choice than their costumes last year, from a much more obscure (but equally charming) movie, Despicable Me.  Next year I'll aim for making a more mainstream costume choice... so obviously the boys will be Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.

Before I get to their costumes, I have to thank my dear friend Jenn, who immediately agreed to come photograph the boys when I called her in a panic because I had spent a million hours making these costumes and it was physically impossible for to get a decent picture of them while trying to corral them.  If you need a photographer (or friend) in the DC area, Jenn is your girl.  Except she's my girl, so you'll have to fight me for her. And now about their costumes.

The base of the Russell costume was pretty simple.  I found a yellow uniform shirt online (from French Toast) and used some brown shorts we already had around the house.  Russell has brown boots with orange laces--and the pair I found at our local thrift store was pretty close! I found a white hat at the thrift store as well, so I dyed it yellow and made the Wilderness Explorer logo out of felt and hot glued it on. Just about the entire outfit is held together with hot glue.

Finley's sash was a vintage boy scout sash I found on eBay that I fell in love with.  There are lots of great examples online of people who made their own badges using Pixar's concept art for the badges and ironing them onto fabric... but I found that after I already spent too much on the vintage sash and couldn't bring myself to toss it aside, even if it meant making a more accurate one.  I loved the vintage one--it's too perfect.  I took off one badge so that I could pin on the Ellie badge (from Soda Pop Girls) that Mr. Fredricksen (SPOILER ALERT) pins on Russell at the end of the movie.  Braden was really interested in the badge and accidentally recreated the scene.  Sweet boys.  I painted some wooden beads yellow and green and put them on a brown pipe cleaner to make the little bead thing on Russell's shirt.  I made the little gold diamond too, but it broke when I was trying to pin it on.  Oh well.

I initially made the bandana from plain orange fabric, but it was so light it didn't really sit well.  I ended up using some orange felt, which was the perfect weight and texture.  The little gold bandana medallion was made from Sculpey clay (available at Michaels).  This was one of those things that I desperately needed Victoria to talk me out of... But it turned out so cute that I think it was worth it! Please don't ask for tips on how to make it, I'm sure I did it the worst way possible.

And the pièce de résistance--the backpack.  I miraculously found a little yellow backpack at our thrift store (which I've always complained about it being terrifying, but it does have a HUGE selection). Unfortunately, it had a huge jungle scene with an elephant on it--but the back was blank.  So I took the straps off and sewed them to the other side.  Problem solved. I made the flag from felt--the orange piece is the stiffened version, the other pieces (yellow, green, brown) are just regular Michaels felt.  His bedroll on the bottom is just some orange felt I rolled up and hot glued (obviously) on the bottom of the backpack. I bought red carabiners and the yellow rope from Home Depot.  All the other little doo-dads were pieces I found around the house.  A pan and mug from our toy kitchen, a small pair of binoculars and flashlight, a toy trumpet... I was missing a red pocket knife, pot, water bottle, some lanyards and a pink bottle of lotion, but decided I did a good enough job.  I couldn't believe Finley was willing to walk around in the backpack!  It was getting heavy.

I took the image below (click to make it huge and save to your computer) and printed a bunch of different sizes of it on sticker paper to use for various things.  I realized last minute that Russell has the WE logo on his shirt, so I just slapped (gently) an extra sticker on Finley.  I put the little logo on the blue mug and flashlight as well.  You can also print it at a bigger size to use as a guide to make the felt logos on the flag and hat.  Luckily it's a pretty easy shape to replicate.

All in all, I'm obviously thrilled with how it came out.  I did some complaining to Sol--the shade of the hat wasn't quite right, my rope and bedroll were the wrong color... but as he reminded me, I'm the ONLY person who knows what the costume was supposed to look like.  No one else spends their free time googling images from UP.  Just me.

And now for Mr. Fredricksen! His costume was much much easier.  White oxford shirt, brown corduroys and a cute black blazer. I couldn't find a tweed blazer, so I settled for making a tweed bowtie, much like the one from the mustache party.  Um, adorable, right? He certainly has the stinkeye down. I couldn't resist buying another Ellie badge for him--it was too cute.  I couldn't find baby glasses anywhere, and the chances of getting them to stay on Braden's face was zero--so I eyeliner-ed them on. He really didn't like them.  I think that's why he's glaring at the camera.

The cane was obviously the crowning achievement of his outfit.   PVC pipe, spray painted silver. Tennis balls.  Adorable.  He really loved to carry the cane to the edge of the bridge we were on and throw it off.  That's pretty much the only thing that made him happy.  Stinker.

Happy Halloween from these two sweet boys! I hope they have as many adventures as their fictional counterparts.

Thanks again to sweet Jenn for taking these pictures--I'm so happy to have them to look back on!  And I hope this is helpful to anyone making UP costumes in the future--I scraped around to find pieces for a long time!  The wilderness must be explored! CAW CAW ROAR!

Tuesday, October 23

Buy Things!

Life making stuff with Victoria at RV Parties is always fun. We have lots of awesome ideas, some of which don't always pan out.  One of our recent great ideas: making platters.

I totally love the way it turned out! It matches this invitation which is pretty much my new favorite thing.  Making plates to match parties.  How could you not want custom plates and platters for your next shindig?  I'm collaborating with my friend Jenn to throw her son a monster party--and couldn't resist printing him this plate!  (Don't look, Jenn!)

I've been selling plates for over a year and they are a standard in our house.  I don't even use our other plates--we seriously eat off these for every meal.  They don't break.  They are the perfect size.  And they are pretty.  I recently printed some state plates for us because I didn't have any.  And obviously I needed some.

I have a booth at an upcoming holiday craft fair type thing and wanted to have a few different plate examples to display.  Vic and I are really excited--she's been printing cute paper goodies for me to sell while I stockpile plates.  I got a little square card reader to take credit card payments and some gray chevron fabric to make a table cloth.  It's safe to say we are going overboard.  But that's ok.  It's what we do best.

Go check out the shop if you need any plates for Christmas--they really do make awesome gifts!  Or if you have an awesome idea for a plate, send it my way!

Friday, October 19

Instagram of September and half of October

Hi friends!  Welcome to the Instagram wrap up...

1// Braden He loves to be read to and he loves to read to himself.  Mostly a Thomas the Train book.
2// The first element of Finley's Halloween costume...
3// Desperately trying to occupy Braden so he won't rip off his eye patch.
4// Finley insisted on cleaning Braden.  Too cute.

1// I finally made Braden a bean bag.  You can guess which is which.
2// Thanks to all the Instagram voters who helped reassure me about buying this coat.  I LOVE IT.
3// F and I on one of many plane rides--both boys were so good!
4// Um, I really want to make a good Star Wars joke, but I know nothing about it. Sad.

1// After running 20 miles, I like to treat myself to the biggest Diet Coke and bag of ice at 7-11... and soaking in the tub with both.
2// I replaced the hard drive in my laptop ALL BY MYSELF.  Take that.
3// Baked and Wired--what got me through a 20 mile run was knowing it was waiting for me at the end.
4// Friends, there will be a Paper Source within 2 miles of my house in a month. Please contain your jealousy.

1// Em and I patchin' it up.
2// TARGET IS OPEN BY MY HOUSE! I want to move in.
3// Second piece of F's costume...
4// Braden is my buddy.

Let's be Instagram friends... I'm @solandrachel.

Thursday, October 18

Chicago Marathon Recap

It's been about 11 days and I feel about as recovered as I think I will--except the old Achilles.  I'm guessing I have a few months before that's back to normal.  I've gone to the gym a few times and done the Elliptical... but I'm hoping I can get back to doing some short runs soon.  Running Chicago was extra special this year--I got to start with my Uncle Tom!  He has the distinction of being the fastest Grimmer... and I don't think I'll ever catch him.  He ran a 3:20:02--it was amazing.  It was so fun getting to drive in and line up with him--and then immediately being left in his dust.

Well, here's me at mile 23.  I'm glad that sign is in the background to remind me.  Smiling at mile 23--couldn't be that bad. I crossed mile 23 on IIT's campus--and crossed at 3:14--PI!!!  I got really excited and though other people would too... but I was the only one.  Even though I was at an ENGINEERING SCHOOL.  Come on people.  My family made it to at least 3 spots to watch me run--and I saw Vic's friend Jennie too!  What a great surprise.

I'm beginning to get a bit fuzzy on the details of the race, but I wanted to write as much as I could remember now before I totally forget.  My Achilles hurt from the very beginning, but by mile 8 it had kind of gone numb... so at least it wasn't bothering me anymore.  I held a sub-8 minute pace for about the first 14 miles--I needed to run an 8:12 to qualify with an overall time of 3:35:00.  Some... uh... digestive issues called for a bathroom break at mile 14--and I lost about a minute and a half running to and from the... um... facilities.  At that point, I was pretty sure I was a little bit in front of my pace, so I had the time to spare.  I figured I was either going to keep running the same pace until the end, or I was going to crash big time, so it didn't matter if I stopped or not.  And I was right--I missed by more than a minute. :)  

After my little break I came back running about 8:12 and gradually slowed down to about 8:25s--I only had two miles that were slower than 8:30.  My overall time was 3:38:29 which is an 8:20 pace.  Honestly, I was thrilled with that.  Normally when I hit "the wall" after mile 20 I slow down MUCH more than that, and I felt like I was still fighting all the way through the finish line.  I really was happy with how I did!  I think the three weeks with virtually no running were what did me in at the end--I still felt great, but my legs were pretty dead from doing no impact activity leading up to the race.  I think all the hours on the Elliptical were crucial in keeping me fit and getting me a PR--but still couldn't substitute real running.  Next time--more strength stuff, more speedwork, more cross training and maybe minimal shoes and a forefoot strike?  And a little less actual running.

The MOST surprising part of the marathon was Laura's boyfriend Dan.  For some reason, he only completed three days of the training plan and hadn't run AT ALL in the month leading up to the marathon.  He asked Laura a few days before the race how mad I would be if he beat me. I literally LOLed.  There was no way he could possibly beat me after that little running.  But as you can see--he's wearing a finishers medal.  He managed to run the ENTIRE marathon.  An hour slower than me, but he finished.  I was amazed.  Seriously.  And now he wants to do another one--I'm trying to talk my fam into doing either the Houston or Disney marathon in January 2014. Nice cool training weather and they both have an accompanying half marathon--perfect.

And again--major thanks to Sol for making it possible for me to train, listening to ma ramble about various ailments and sleeping on the floor the night before the race so you wouldn't wake me up. You are the best cheerleader ever.  (And I mean that in a manly cool way, like how Phil Dunphy was a cheerleader.)  And thanks to my sis for helping coordinate Chicago travels and my mom for cooking me whole wheat pasta and making signs... and my brothers and Dad for cheering me on.  And also the internet for cheering me on.  Thanks for continuing to support me through all these marathons. Everyone is the best!

Wednesday, October 17

Two Boys, Playing in Sand

It had been too long since I'd paparazzi-ed the boys--so I followed them into the backyard to try to catch them maybe looking at the camera, maybe smiling. But probably neither. And certainly none of them together.

Braden thinks he is hilarious when he climbs the ladder up to the little clubhouse.  He's pretty good at climbing--until he starts laughing.  Then he gets a little wobbly and I get terrified and whack my camera on stuff when I try to rescue him.  It's swell.

Finley can not be persuaded to look at the camera.  It's seriously like he can't hear me when the camera is in front of my face.  I don't totally mind, because I adore his blond swoopy hair and his fair skin.  And I love his long eyelashes when he's real focused on his construction work.

I bought the boys matching "vintage" Olympics shirts (they are from the Gap--not real vintage) because Finley loved the Olympics so much.  Unfortunately, he doesn't understand that the Olympic rings are the symbol for the Olympics--he thinks the NBC peacock means the Olympics.  Well played, NBC, well played.

One of my favorite favorite things about this nugget is that he leans.  Maybe his brain is extra heavy--but sometimes when he's playing he just has to rest it on his hand.  And sometimes when I'm reading to him he just has to lean on me a little.  Or if he's tired he'll maybe put his head on my shoulder.  I die.  Finley has been trying to get away from me from the day he was born--I just love that this little guy will snuggle with me for like 5 seconds a day. Treasure.

He won't smile at me, but at least he'll look at the camera.  One point for B-town.

He really couldn't decide if he liked being on the table or not.  He's really into shrieking loudly lately.  The only person who enjoys his shrieks less than me is Finley.

Actually, these almost count as a smile, right?  STINKER.

I told Finley if he let me take a nice picture of him in the wagon he could have a muffin.  This is what I got.  In the first one, he exclaimed. "WHOA! I almost died!" after he got down.  What in the world?  I think that's a line from UP?  That child.

Does Finley look like a 3rd grade bully in that first picture?  He looks so big. And slightly menacing.

Again, two almost smiles.

Sometimes you awkwardly squat and lean and climb to take pictures of your kids--and you get one that makes you smile.  I loved all the pictures I took--but this one takes the cake. For me, at least.  It's what makes me want to keep that boy little forever.

Also, we like that his shirt has Sol's birth year on it.  Vintage!

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