Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

We're getting pretty excited for Christmas around here.  All the regular Christmastime preparations are going on.  We've been to visit Santa.  I was ready for the typical toddler "don't-leave-me-that-hairy-stranger" reaction from Lydia (we certainly saw that with Hannah - for two years), but Hannah taught her to say "ho ho ho," took Lydia by the hand, and the two of them marched right up to Santa and climbed up on his lap.  

We trimmed our trees.  Yes, trees.  I have too many ornaments to fit on one tree.  It was fun to show the girls some of our favorites.  The ball is from a trip Jonathan and I took to Disneyland after we finished school and before we started our first jobs.  

This is the ornament my mom gave us the year we got married.

And what would Christmas be with cookies, and lots of them?  Hannah and I took nearly a whole day to tackle the project of baking and decorating gingerbread men.  I was impressed by how seriously she took the whole endeavor.

Check out those shoes!

Hannah thought my Santa cookie looked like a guy with a huge mouth.  I thought her stripy one looked like a mummy.

The original plan was for Hannah to take the cookies to her class party at school.  But she got sick, and couldn't go.  So we had a party at home instead.  We discussed what was necessary for a party, and settled on Cheetos and balloons.  (Why have I been making all those birthday cakes?  I could have just bought a bag of Cheetos!)

Lydia shared her cookie with her baby.  I actually love this picture.  She's looking at the baby with such a look of affection.  I hope that's what Lydia sees on my face when I look at her.

Yesterday we had some friends over to make gingerbread houses.  Well, graham cracker houses, but still... 

I saw this clever idea in Family Fun, where you use crackers and dried fruit instead of candy.  They're stuck on with peanut butter.  I glued the graham crackers together with royal icing, because peanut butter just didn't seem to be strong enough.  Surprisingly, it held the goodies on really well. 

I don't think the kids missed the candy at all.  They ate their fair share of toppings.  In fact, I had to cut Hannah off after her fifth prune.   

Last night, the girls donned their matching pajamas and danced around the living room.

Hannah got a new ornament in the mail from grandma that plays "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," which is the recital song from her ballet class. 

This is Hannah doing the ballet dance.  See that look of concentration?  She's so serious, that all I can do is laugh!

Last but not least, here is our sweet Lydia, playing peek-a-boo behind the tree. 

Unlike last year's Christmas panic, this year, everything is finished, gifts are wrapped, food is cooked, and we are looking forward to a quiet and cozy holiday.  I hope that your Christmas is as blessed as ours.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Costumes! Brave's Merida (and Baby Bear) Costume using free patterns

 I have to admit, when I learned there was a new Disney movie featuring a Scottish princess with red curly hair, I started a not-so-subtle campaign for this year's Halloween costume.  Even before we saw Brave, I'd started planting seeds.  And after we saw it (even though it was pretty scary for a three year old!), Hannah and I sealed the deal: she would be Merida for Halloween.  It was actually Hannah's idea that Lydia be a bear, just like Merida's little brothers.  That sounded cute as could be, so I searched to the ends of Pinterest, and this is what I found.

So here, for you, are several free online patterns and tutorials needed to create a Merida costume, complete with a red hair garland, and a coordinating little sis/(bro) bear.

I started off with the dress, using the pattern found here ('s Magistrate Dress pattern), via, here.  I added some gold trim, including an inset of gathered gold fabric at the neckline.

Next came outerwear.  Not only does Merida wear a cape in the movie, but I distinctly remember last year, pinning Hannah's butterfly wings to the back of her winter coat because it was so cold.  Although practical, it was not as lovely as I intended when I sewed the costume.  So this year, I wised up and made something warm for her to wear.  I used the free Red Riding Hood Cape pattern found here, at  There are instructions for lining the hood, but I lined the entire fleece cape with flannel, both for added warmth and to add a little color.

Finally, what would a Merida costume be without red hair, and lots of it?  I looked at tutorials for full wigs, and even found one that explained how to curl the yarn by heating it in the oven.  I finally decided to make a red version of's Rapunzel hair recipe, found  here.  Hannah said, "This isn't like Merida's's not big enough."  However, she can put it on and off by herself, which I think will be handy when this becomes part of the dress-up box after Halloween.

And because Grandma's are cool like this, Hannah's Grandma got her the official Merida bow and arrows from the Disney Store.  Very cool.  Hannah spent a good fifteen minutes trying to string the bow before she gave up and started throwing them across the yard.

For Lydia's bear costume, I decided to keep it simple - mostly because I wasn't sure whether she would wear it or not.  She wasn't going to until she saw Hannah had a cape too, and then she was ready to go!  The cape is made from the same pattern at, although I printed the pattern at 75% to make it toddler-sized.  Hers is also fleece, lined with matching flannel. 

The ears are from another pattern at, and are a part of their Halloween Bear Hat, found here.  I cut slits in the top of the hood, and stitched the ears in before I added the lining. 

So here they are...Princess Merida and her bear sis.

 Ready for some serious archery.

And doing a happy little Halloween dance.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hannah's Birthday...A Beautiful Mess

Hannah turned 4 recently.  It was the birthday that just kept ways good and bad!  After all, when it comes to celebrating birthdays, the more parties the merrier, right?  But there comes a point, when the first party has been canceled because of the stomach flu, and two cakes have been baked, and the edible favors have all been gobbled by someone (I couldn't possibly have eaten a whole pan of chocolate-covered Rice Krispy treats, could I?), when it's just time to have the party already.

So for your entertainment, here are all the lovely details of (both) of Hannah's birthdays.

My mom came for the week of Hannah's birthday, and she and Hannah made the super cute crayon cake that you see above.  She found something called sugar paper and edible markers, and she and Hannah actually drew the picture on the top of the cake! 

I suppose this is a good time to mention that Hannah wanted a "painting party."  I tried to sway her toward Mermaids and Pirates, but she thought of this wonderful theme on her own, and it stuck.  So we did all things painting.  My little arts and crafts apprentice was in seventh heaven!

Hannah, my mom, and I did a test run of all the art projects before the party.  This was one of the finger paintings.  We made this by applying vinyl letters on a canvas, and after the paint dried, peeling them off.  (And yes, that's the second batch of Rice Krispy treats.)

Here are all the kids, finger painting their hearts out.  Each kid's canvas had their name on it.  I made little paint aprons for each guest from old jeans, following this pattern.

These are ice cube paintings.  Almost as fun as actually doing the painting was hanging the papers out of the clothesline to dry!

 And our final art project was bubble painting.  This was really fun, and the photos don't do justice to how cool they looked.  (If you do this, it took a lot more food coloring the bubbles than I expected!)

Here's the cake (reprise).  And after the candles were blown out, all the kids - so excited about the cake - just couldn't keep their hands away.  Check out Hannah: she's like, "Get your hands off my birthday cake!!"

 And last but not least, what's a painting party without paint invitations?  I printed these on paint chips, and couldn't be happier with how they came out.

The best part?  Every morning for about a week after her birthday, Hannah woke up and said, "I'm FOUR!!!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hannah's First Day of School

Yes, it was a big day at the Warren house.  Today was Hannah's first day of preschool.  Apart from a couple of months when she was first born and I was still working, Hannah's childcare has been limited to some stay-alone play dates, and a few random church nursery visits.  So the prospect of her being in someone else's care is a huge adjustment for pretty much all the members of our household.

She was so excited this morning, she was literally jumping. 

Hannah was delighted with this new backpack.  Her favorite part?  It has a little detachable purse that dangles on the side.  Pretty neato!

Of course, Lydia got in on the action, too.

As a side note, Jonathan painted our front door on Saturday.  After months of saying we were going to paint the door red, I saw a chartreuse door on Pinterest Saturday morning.  We both knew immediately that this was the color for us, and in less than 12 hours, the project was done.

 Ahhh...bittersweet to have my little girl growing older.  And what did Mama and sister do with their free morning?  Lydia played with Hannah's toys while I fussed with the morning's photo shoot.  (And not a single tear was shed.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Family Photo Mishaps at Niagara Falls

Did you think I ran away, ever to return to the blogosphere?  Not quite...I've just been enjoying my summer vacation.  Among other things, we recently took a looooong road trip, which included a stop at Niagara Falls.  We were there for about two hours, which was not quite long enough to really do much except to ride the Maid of the Mist, and snap lots of quick pictures.  You know, the kind you to take to prove that you've actually been there.  The problem is, none of the pictures turned out the way I had visualized them in my internal scrapbook layout. 

First of all, the girls hated the boat.  It was crowded with tourists, many of whom were international (read: have different ideas of personal space than the folks we are used to riding boats with).  Second, it was wet.  "Mist" is a bit of an understatement.  They give you these cute blue rain ponchos, which basically keep your shirt dry, but do very little to help your head, legs, or shoes. 

I negotiated with a Norwegian family for this place by the railing for Hannah, hoping that she would be able to see something.  This is the view over the top of her head, so presumably, she could have watched as we sailed by the falls.  But when I questioned her later, asking what she saw, she simply said, "Water." 

"You mean the waterfalls?" I asked.

"No.  The water under the boat."

"Oh.  Well...what was your favorite part, then?"

"When we got off the boat."

In spite of all this, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I thought the view was magnificent.  And in spite of getting wet and having a freaked-out toddler clinging to me for dear life, I did snap one picture of the scenery that I'm quite happy about. 

And the Norwegian family offered to take a group picture, so here we are!

Back on land, I decided we needed another family shot, this one drier - for the scrapbook page I was formulating in my mind.

We started out like this:

Then was the whole "let's find someone to take our picture" conversation.  You know: what about him?  No...he doesn't look like he could take a picture to save his life.  Well, that woman has a camera, do you think she'd do it?  No...she just answered a phone call.  Aha!  There's a guy with a big camera.  I'll bet he knows what he's doing.

So I handed over my camera to yet another international traveler.  But before we knew it, the guy was taking pictures, not of our family, but of us WITH his traveling companions!

This is Jonathan trying to tell the guy to get out of our shot.  

This is Lydia and Hannah trying to figure out who these random guys are.  Notice that the falls are framed (relatively nicely) in the background.

Finally, the man took a picture of just us.  But he did not get the falls in the picture.  We might as well have been standing by the railing at the upstairs of the mall.

So we took back our camera, said thank you, and asked an American for a retake.  Jonathan explained that we wanted a family shot with both sides of the falls visible behind us.  

Well, as you can see, we struck out again.  The kids were frazzled, our parking meter was about to run out, and we just decided to call it a day.  It's times like these when I have to remind myself that I don't need a perfect picture to create a good memory. 
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