Category Archives: Kid Life

The Felt Forest

I’m really excited to share a project I’ve been working on with my friend Vicki, the photographer behind the lovely Jerney Studios photos I’ve shared in the past.  She asked me to help her design a fun and different backdrop as well as some scenery for an exciting idea she had for a forest-y kind of setting.  We had a blast making a cool felt tree with vines and some assorted plants, as well as an awesome looking tree stump for kids to sit on.

Here’s her information about an upcoming photo shoot she will be having in March.  If you live in the Cleveland area, this will be a super fun photo shoot to attend:

What is “The Felt Forest”?

I was wanting to do something new, something different photographically and that is when I became inspired by a project that Jim had worked on. It was an interactive touch display that featured a jungle/forest theme. But in order to bring this vision to reality, I turned toward my friend Meghan. She has done some beautiful work with felt and I knew she could help bring this to life. With Meghan’s help, we molded the felt into what you see here. A FELT FOREST!

What’s happening?

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, we’ll be setting up the forest for a fun day of picture taking! You’re invited to register for a half-hour shoot then immediately select your image(s)!

What you need to know.

To make a reservation for this one day event, give me a call at 330-203-8374 or email me at vicki@jerneystudios. Click here for more information on the event and packages.

And here’s a another cute one of Lexi that I want to share with you as well, where you can really see the tree stump, I also love the filter on this photo 🙂

Maple Sugaring

For the past two years Dan has been collecting sap from our maple trees in the backyard to make maple syrup.  This year we have seven taps at all of our trees and have collected several gallons of sap in the past few week.  We had only intended to make maple syrup again this year, but Dan accidentally boiled down the sap too far, that’s what happens when you’re also trying to put in new flooring and your wife spends all her free time scrapbooking and blogging about it!  Although honestly I think I was at work when this happened.  So he saved the overly boiled down sap and on my day off we collected more sap and actually looked up directions on how to make your own maple candy and gave it a try!  It’s really pretty easy, you can even do it with maple syrup you buy at the store.  You boil, while stirring occasionally, the syrup until it reaches at temp of 235 F on a candy thermometer.  Then take it off the heat and let it cool until it reaches 175 F – don’t stir during this cool down process.  Then use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for 5 min- it turns a lighter brown and becomes creamy.  Quickly pour it into molds- or you can be like us and have ice cube shaped maple candy!  We’re looking forward to making more with the girls later this week once Dan has more syrup.  He estimated that he boiled down about 5 gallons of sap to make just those 6 little ice cube sized candies!

I made this page using the Amelia Kit Bundle from Shel Belle Scraps.  Don’t forget her entire store is half off this week 🙂

Getting Ready for Christmas

The girls (mostly Fiona since Lexi’ still new to all the Christmas excitement/insanity) have been pushing to put our tree up and lights on the house.  It’s been rough around here with all the pneumonia, yes Dan and my mom got it too 😦  so us adults are a little less enthused about Christmas then normal.  But we put our tree up last week and the girls had so much fun seeing all the ornaments again and playing with them and accidentally breaking them.  My trusty glue gun is always at the ready on tree decorating day.  Lexi especially was amazed with all the excitement, last year she was just a little over 1 so this is the first year where she can really participate in all the fun and activities.  Once the ornaments were on the tree she ran around it batting at all of them and pulling off the little gold horns so she could pretend to play them.  Despite the fact that the tree takes up a huge amount of valuable floor space in our living room, I have to admit that it does look really pretty.  We still have to put lights on the house and are hoping to do that tomorrow as it’s supposed to be a little warmer out.  Neither Dan nor I want to spend tons of time out in the cold just days after getting over pneumonia.  I REALLY don’t want to get sick again!

On Friday night we went to the annual gingerbread making party at church, again this was Lexi’s first time going and she had so much fun.  Everyone brings their own graham crackers and frosting and then a ton of candy to share.  So in the end you wind up with a cool assortment of tasty decorations for your gingerbread house.  I wasn’t sure how Lexi would do, I pictured her either having a great time and making a cute little house, or eating a ton of candy and going bizerk.  Fortunately it was the former.  She actually sat in her chair for a good hour putting gum drops and Hershey’s kisses all over her gingerbread house/lean-to.  As Fiona worked on her house (and for the whole 40 minute drive home) she narrated the story of the gingerbread men who live in the house.  They eat only gum and candy peas, one of them can’t afford a bed to sleep on, and they have bat toys (courtesy of a friend who brought in a Halloween gingerbread house kit).  She made these few facts into a lengthy and drawn out narration that would make Thoreau proud–seriously did anyone finish reading Walden’s Pond in high school?

The Christmas fun continued on Saturday when we decorated sugar cookies.  Again I was surprised with how well Lexi did, she’s usually so active that I didn’t expect her to be patient with cutting the cookies out, waiting for them to bake, and then decorating them before having a chance to eat any.  But she really enjoyed it.  Our cookies turned out very nice, and I found a new recipe that actually makes soft sugar cookies that even taste good.  Ours always seemed to be really hard in the past.  It is hard to find the cookies, however, underneath about two inches of frosting and assorted sprinkles.

Saturday night was an exciting night for the girls because in our neighborhood Santa comes by on a flashing fire truck to bring kids presents a couple weeks before Christmas.  Unfortunately for Lexi, this turned out to be a terrifying experience.  Too bad Santa has to be so weird looking to most kids.  And it’s also strange that a 6 foot tall bunny poses less of a threat to my children than a guy with a beard (I mean Dan’s dad has one it’s not all that unusual-maybe it’s the bright red suit?)  Anyhow, it was very exciting when we got the call from one of Santa’s elves telling us that he was just minutes away.  We headed outside and watched for the flashing fire truck.  Santa comes riding in hanging on to the back of the truck “HO! HO ! HO!”-ing the whole time and ringing a bell.  Then he hopes off receives the girls’ presents from an elf and hands them over.  Fi was excited, Lexi was screaming.  Then he’s off again on the back of the truck frantically ringing his bell on the way to the next house.  I guess it’s events like this one, and Halloween, and being down the street from the beach that make living in this house with foundation problems, more worth it.  The girls ran inside with their gifts and Fiona immediately started playing with Lexi’s gift while Lexi went off to color.  Oh well, we tried.  P.S. don’t tell the girls but mommy dropped off the gifts at the fire station a week before Santa’s visit.

Dan Zanes Concert!

We took Fiona to see a Dan Zanes concert a few years ago (I was pregnant with Alexis-so she was kind of there too).  It was such a fantastic time.  We danced, we laughed, it was fantastic and I couldn’t wait until he was in town again.  Finally a couple years later he came back.  We got tickets immediately and I was counting down the days until concert time.  Then a week ago we ALL got sick.  Fiona got the worst of it and was out of school for about a week before the concert.  She had a temperature everyday and the same horrible rattly cough that the rest of us all had too.  She made it through about a half day of school on Friday, I really wanted to send her partially because she’d been out a week and partially because it was Veteran’s Day and my dad (who had been in the Navy during Vietnam) was supposed to have lunch with her.  It means a lot to me when they spend time together so I really wanted her to be there that day.  She had been feeling pretty good in the morning so I drove her to school (instead of the school bus-to make her morning a little more low-key).  I brought my dad back at lunch time and we saw her head out the recess while he had time to hang out and eat cookies with all the other veterans in the schools “canteen.”

When it was time for lunch we met her in the cafeteria and she was sobbing.  I was worried that she thought we hadn’t come as she didn’t see me when she came in since I was chasing down my dad after he got his lunch and then got lost in the cafeteria.  Instead she was starting to feel ill again.  She said she’d been feeling fine until she went out for recess, I wish I’d thought to ask if she could stay in during recess since she had been so sick.  We mad it through about half of lunch time and then she just looked so unhappy that I took her home to rest.

By Sunday she was perking up a bit again and really wanted to go to the Dan Zanes concert.  She’d been fever free since Thursday, but was still feeling a little run down from having been sick for so long.  My mom joined us for the concert and we decided to try going.  We got to the venue, this fun little building with wooden floors and a really intimate setting.  We were only feet from the stage and settled in on the floor to wait for the band.  We got lunches for the kids from the small attached restaurant/bar and everyone was happy and having a good time.  Both girls got Dan Zanes t-shirts, but Fiona is already too cool for that sort of thing.  Lexi wore hers with pride!  We also purchased the new Dan Zanes CD.  He’s really one of the best children’s performers out there.  It’s still cool music so parents can enjoy it, and it’s a great show.

After the first few songs I could tell that Fiona was just not into it.  We were able to stay for most of the concert.  I think we only missed the last couple songs at least.

Fi heading off to the concert

Lexi in her Dan Zane’s Shirt

A scrapbook page for the fun event:

Frightfully Fun Halloween Happenings

We began our Halloween fun with an evening at the zoo for their fun Boo at the Zoo event.  We’ve gone the past 3 years and every year it has been cold and rainy.  I was trying to be optimistic for this year and fortunately it was a perfect evening.  Chilly, but not too cold for costumes, and NOT raining!  My friend from work (again the wonderful birthday party co-planner) came with us and her two boys.  A couple months back I found a great owl costume on the blog A Beautiful Mess.  I LOVED it and showed it to my co-worker right away.  We decided we needed to dress as owls for Halloween and got to work immediately on our costumes.  We were so proud of ourselves for getting started so much in advance (not the norm for either of us busy, working moms) and then it fizzled out until right before our Boo at the Zoo trip when we made a frantic effort to complete the costumes.  We loved how they turned out and were so proud of ourselves… until we got to Boo at the Zoo 😦

The costumes were pretty simple to make.  The base of the dress is a white pillow case, cut out a hole for your head and two for your arms and add rectangular scraps of fabric with the bottom edges rounded off.  We hot glued everything, because it’s so much easier than sewing-plus I think I’m addicted to hot gluing.  I use it whenever possible, even if it doesn’t always make sense.  The original idea on A Beautiful Mess only had the front of the pillow case covered.  When we admired our dresses in the mirror we decided that the back needed something too.  From the front we looked fantastic, but from the back it just looked like we were wearing pillow cases.  So we decided to add the ‘feathers’ to the back using one solid color of felt.  I also came up with a cute tail pattern and added iron-on fusing material to my fabric to add the colors to the felt tail.  I found some fun feather hair clips at Jo-Ann Fabrics and my co-worker had a glamorous side pony tail accented with a few feathers.  We were all set.

Fiona wore her Rapunzel dress again, from her birthday party, and I made a cute little pirate costume for Lexi which she just wore over a warm sweatshirt.

Boo at the Zoo was tons of fun, especially since it wasn’t super cold or rainy.  We saw a magic show, pretty lights, the kids each got fun glowing things, we got to see a cool juggler (who coincidentally is also scheduled to do a show at our library in the early spring)  and it was just kind of cool wandering around the zoo at night with kids in costumes all over.  The only disappointing part of the whole evening was when we were heading into the animal petting barn and a woman looked at us and said, “Oh how cute, are you guys dressed up as quilts!”  My co-worker and I were so disappointing and saddened that someone thought we looked like walking quilts instead of cute little owls.  In fact neither one of us actually wound up wearing our costumes on Halloween, because we both felt kind of deflated about the whole thing by that point.

Trick or Treating is always a fantastic time in my neighborhood.  Everyone is out with fire pits, some houses give out full sized candy bars to the kids and jello shots for the parents.  It’s such a festive occasion.  Tons of great decorations, serious crowds of children roaming the streets.  It’s nothing like our old neighborhood where people turned off all the lights and holed up in their houses.  Fiona was lucky to get half a bucket of candy.  Here even after just going halfway around our block, both girls had filled their buckets and deposited their candy into a large bag that my husband or I carried throughout the night.

We met up with some friends from our street and the kids ran out into the night with much whooping and hollering and jumping.

Several houses get together every year and set up rows of tables with bowls of candy while they party on a grassy spot between several of the houses

Lexi gets candy from a friend

Is Fiona's friend stinky? No they're just standing in front of steaming toxic waste

This is why my neighborhood is seriously awesome. These kids were roaming the streets with a full size -real coffin (family is in the funeral business)

So now, I’m officially looking forward to next year 🙂

And a Halloween Scrapbook Page 🙂



Lexi’s first art class (and my new CT position)

To begin with, I am excited to announce that I am on the Creative Team for Shel Belle Scraps.  This means that I will be receiving her newest scrapbooking kits, before they are available to the public so that I can make a couple pages to inspire others to try her kits themselves.  I’m really excited to be on her team and am looking forward to working with more of her beautiful kits.  You can find all of her available kits at the Stuff to Scrap store.

The first kit I worked with as a member of her Creative Team is called “Baked with Love.”  As you can probably guess it’s great to use with baking themed pages but is also versatile enough to use for anything you would like to scrap.  Images are linked to her store.

The two pages I made with Shel Belle’s kit “Baked with Love”:

The first page is Fiona (yes, she looks just like Lexi!) several years ago at our old house. In fact in these photos she is just a couple months older than Lex is right  now.  This was the first year she really got into making and decorating cookies.  She had such a great time and obviously enjoyed eating her cookie at the end.  I’ve been working on back scrapping to get pages made from before I started scrapbooking.

The second page features photos I took this weekend.  While Fi was in her art class, I peaked in on the little kid class to see if the same teacher that Fi had was still there, Miss Kate.  She was such a great teacher and had so many fun projects, many of which we still have hanging up at home.  She saw me and Lexi peaking in and commented on how much Lex looked like Fi.  Lexi is just a little younger now than Fi was when she started art classes at the museum.  Miss Kate invited us in to make a leaf with the rest of the class for the last couple minutes before class was over.  Lex was so excited and walked right in and sat down with Miss Kate to work on her leaf.  She helped to roll the paint onto the print and then rub the paper over the inked leaf.  Miss Kate then gave her oil pastels to color it with.  I really can’t wait until Lexi can start art class.  She loved her little preview, also it will give us something to do while Fi is in class. It’s hard for Lex to hang out at the museum for an hour and a half without getting into some kind of mischief.

First Piano Lessons

I began taking piano lessons when I was eight years old and continued to play and take lessons all the way through college.  I began my college career at the Baldwin Wallace Music Conservatory as a Music Therapy major where I focused on piano and percussion.  When I moved into my own place with my husband of course my piano came with me.  And when we moved again I had to sell my baby grand which was hard to do, but our new house just didn’t have the space.  Our current house, while slightly smaller than our first, is in a wonderful neighborhood.  I mean we have a beach right down the street from us.  It’s amazing to take a walk in the evening with your shovel and pail and stop by the beach for a brief dig in the sand with your children.  So while I miss our old house, and my baby grand, I can’t complain-very often-about the neighborhood.

Fortunately, my husband’s sister had a piano that belonged to a relative of theirs which they no longer wanted in their house and they very kindly brought this huge upright piano all the way from Michigan to us.  This piano was a much better fit for our new house.  However, no sooner had we moved in, gotten settled, and started re-decorating than our foundation cracked (it’s a slab ranch style house).  for the past two years we have been struggling with our foundation and have had our house “slab-jacked” twice.  What is slab-jacking?  Hopefully you never have to find out.  Basically, you have to take all of your furniture out of the house and then rip up all the flooring (this step is especially infuriating if you have only just put in new flooring).  Then professional slab jacking people come in, drill holes in your cement floor, cover everything in cement dust, pump a dirt/cement mixture under the house to fill up the hole, and cover your walls and floors in the mud mixture.

Then you get to repeat that step again the following summer-after replaceing all your flooring, adding some new flooring, putting all your furniture back in, and beginning to go about your life once again just to have it all disrupted for a second time.  Not fun.

So anyhow, we put all our flooring back in for a third time and are hoping to never have to do this again.  So we’re actually putting our house back in order too, which means the piano came out of the corner where it was covered in a drop cloth and other junk.

It was wonderful to play again.  It’s amazing how sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until you have it back again.  Plus I’m really looking forward to teaching Fiona some basic piano playing skills. Then if she continues to enjoy it we’d look around for a teacher.

This past week she learned how to play the C scale with her right hand going both up and down the scale.  She seems to really enjoy the piano, and my husband told me that after I went to work, after teaching her the scale, she frequently returned to the piano throughout the evening to practice.  The next day, when she got off the bus from school, the first thing she wanted to do was practice her scale again.  I’m so proud of her, and so glad that she’s enjoying it so much thus far.

Toddlers, and Paint, and Dogs (Oh MY!)

My 2 year old, Alexis, has been really into painting lately.  We have the easel set up on the back porch, which has a tile floor so the clean up is relativity easy.  We have a great easel.  It’s one of those Melissa and Doug easels that my older daughter got for her 2nd birthday.  It’s seen a LOT of use and is holding up well.  One side is a chalk board, and the other is a white board that also has paper you can roll down for painting.  I have to say that some really great art work has been made on this easel over the years.  We have such masterpieces as “Large Blue Blob,” “Red Runny Rampage,” and “Grandma’s Cat Miss Kitty.”  I love all of them.

So, Alexis was interested in painting the other day and I got her all set up with her lovingly-made-by-grandma smock and her brushes and paint.  We rolled out a fresh sheet of paper and she immediately got busy.  I decided that this would probably be a good time to finally go to the bathroom and left her to her masterpiece.  As soon as I got to the bathroom I heard Lexi laughing maniacally.  “Great,” I thought, “She’s putting hand prints on the sliding glass door.”  I raced back to the kitchen and saw our dog Puck coming in off the back porch.  Right away I noticed his new look.  Puck had blue spots all over his body.  On the tip of his tail, all over his back and sides, and even on his head right above his eyes.

Puck with his new spots




The artist and her 'canvas'


I have to say here, that despite some of his short comings- needs 5,000 potty breaks a day and eats anything not tied down- he’s a great dog with the girls.  Lexi has been discovered standing beside Puck and sharing his dog food.  I also found her dipping tortilla chips into his water bowl and then eating them.  Seriously, Lex?!??!?!  The girls climb over him, chase him, and give him huge hugs.  And he puts up with all of it with a goofy doggy smile on his face.

Of course I had to scrapbook this event 🙂

2 amazing children’s librarians + 1 awesome castle = the most epic birthday party ever!

Both my girls have their birthdays in August and thus far we have celebrated their birthdays at the same party.  This method may not last forever, but for the time being it is working well for us.  Fiona still likes to share her birthday and Alexis doesn’t know the difference.

This August we celebrated Fiona’s 6th birthday and Lexi’s 2nd.  A friend of mine, who is also a co-worker/children’s librarian, has a son who’s birthday is also in the summer.  We were discussing birthday party options when she mentioned that she wanted to have his party at a place in the Metroparks called Squire’s Castle.  I had visited this place a few times with summer camps when I was a child and loved it.  It’s this amazing old manor house that fell into ruins.  The Metroparks purchased the house and turned it into a park.  The house really looks like this great old castle from another time and place.  There is only one floor now as the second floor has rotted away; some of the roofing is gone too.  It’s all open inside and it’s one of the most wonderful places around, in terms of just plain coolness as well as the imagination factor.

Squires Castle: a place of imagination

I loved the idea right away.  We decided to plan a combined birthday party for her son and my two girls.  Needless to say we were both very excited.

Party favors:

From we purchased blow-up swords, cardboard shields, lots of stick on gems, and paper crowns.

I also made some cute wands from dowel rods, craft foam, and curling ribbon.

We both cut out lots of pretty capes from scraps of fabric.  Such as shiny gold, blue sequin netting, shiny pink, dusty pink velour, etc.

Some of the party favors

Games we played:

We made water balloons and brought water guns for the kids to have a water fight in the castle.  (We made sure to pick up all the pieces of balloon afterwards!)  It was such a hot day and we really wanted a way to let the kids cool off.  This was probably one of the favorite parts of the party.  Between the blowup swords, the balloons, and water guns this 2 hour party turned into a 4 hour one.  No one wanted to go home!

We had the parachute from the library and sang “Happy Birthday” to the three birthday kids while walking in a circle and shaking the parachute.  Then all the kids ran underneath while the adults raised it up and down.

For the little ones, like my Lexi, we had a gem stone search.  There was this one really cool old gnarly knobby tree with amazing roots and we hid the gems in the roots for the kids to collect.

Fun party games

Birthday Cakes:

I LOVE making birthday cakes, and this is the one major downside to having birth girls’ birthdays in the same month.  I wind up making two cakes for one party.  Of course, they could share a cake, but I really like making cakes so I really don’t mind making two.  But it always seems like we have so much cake.

Fiona’s cake was a castle.  I found the instructions on  It was pretty easy to do and I made it really fun by making the inside rainbow layers (by adding some food coloring to the batter).

Fiona picked out some princess toys to put around the castle.  She’s really into Rapunzel now (thanks to the movie Tangled) so I also made Rapunzel’s tower by sticking sugar cubes to a paper towel tube with frosting.

Fiona’s cake…

Alexis’ cake…

It really was a super fun party and it will be hard to ever have one this great again.  It was pretty simple, as far as birthday parties go.  The castle is free and open to the public, so there is a chance that someone else will be using it, but we didn’t mind that people were walking through while we played in it.  The kids of course were under strict instruction not to shoot anyone with the water guns if they weren’t part of the party.  And really not many people even came through.  I think we will have to repeat this one sometime in the future 🙂

And here are the scrapbook pages I made for the party: