Sunday, June 24, 2012

Embracing my inner child

These pictures really bring me back to my childhood. When my best friends and I would swing at the playground in front of our neighborhood pool. You could find us there, playing, just about any day of the week. And just as I loved the playground in my neighborhood, my kids also love theirs. Asking to go to the park or playground pretty much on a daily basis. The catch 22 is that most of the play equipment in our local parks and neighborhood tot lots, burn to the touch from the hot summer sun.

Not on this day though. This particular day was a gorgeous, breezy day. We had just finished a round of tennis, and the kids convinced us to let them play on the playground, while Fred went to Walgreens to rent a movie from Redbox.

Sophie was busy climbing, sliding, and running around as Mason and I enjoyed the swings. Each of us on our own swing, facing opposite sides, and high-fiving each other as we passed. We smiled and giggled, showing off our cool moves to Fred upon his return, who shook his head at us, the disbelief that he could be related to these two crazies emblazoned on his face.

Mason had hopped off to run around at one point while I continued to swing. Upon his return he asked if I was swinging high, and was it scary. I knew he wanted to go really high, but I also knew he was scared. "Do you want to do something really fun?" I asked. He nodded in agreement, so I sat him on my lap and away we swung. Higher and higher we went. The wind blowing across our faces, the smiles and giggles infectious. It was the most fun I've had in a really long time. Swinging with Mason. Laughing. Really, really laughing. It brought back so many memories. My best friends and I sitting on the same swing together, face to face. We called it the "spider" back then. Do kids even do that anymore? Swing spider style? Well, even if they don't, Mason loved it and asks to go back to the park everyday just so we can do it again. Fred, of course, finds the two of us so ridiculous in all our childhood fun.

Oh yes, my dear boy, I do see us coming back to swing like this again, and again, and again. If only to embarrass the hell out of Daddy.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tennis Anyone?

I'm seriously loving the fact that we have started taking up tennis again--and doing it as a family. On the court everyday, sometimes even twice in one day. (Mason can be quite persuasive when he really wants something). The last few days have been fairly beautiful weather and we've taken advantage of it. Especially Father's Day. It was a beautiful 75 degrees with a slight breeze. After dinner, we changed into our workout clothes, packed up our gear, and made the short walk up to the courts. With Mason actually wanting to play, and being old enough to learn how, we bought him his own junior racquet. We take turns having him on our "team" and he has done pretty good. Chasing after the ball as fast as his little feet will take him, which I hate to admit is probably faster than I can hustle after the ball myself. Sophia, our little ball girl, can be seen running around gathering up balls. Sometimes putting them in the bin, sometimes handing them directly to us. Sometimes, she grabs an extra racquet and tries her turn at hitting the ball. But mostly she stays in her own little world, entertaining herself. One of things I love about this girl.

It's been a great family activity. Getting us outside, getting us active, and having fun. Hmm, I think I just found my mantra for the summer.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Herndon Festival (and a Homemade Childs Quiver)

Every year, Herndon Festival takes place at the beginning of June. This is our second year in a row bringing the kids and already its something both Mason and Sophia have come to expect. The rides, the food, the crafts, and of course, the goodies.
(1. Mason, Sophie and I on the helicopters. 2. The horrible ride Fred made me go on with him. It did not go well. 3. Sophie and I on the flying dragons.)

They had some really nice Arts and Crafts vendors. Some I remembered from last year and some new ones, like the Casually Chic Lilla Rose booth. I was attracted to the beautiful hair clips that actually keep my hair in place and don't stab me. I snagged up two for an early birthday gift. As we continued to make our way through the rows of vendors we picked up a cute purple purse (which is actually a cell phone holder) for Sophia, a few t-shirts for the kids, and made our way to one particular booth that caught my eye. It had swords, axes, bows and arrows. Right up Mason's alley. I knew my Mom would get what I was thinking when I showed her the bow and arrow set.

We like to attend the Maryland Renaissance Festival with my Mom and Sister. Each year, we have tried to get Mason to dress up with us at the Fair, but he refuses. At least with the bow and arrows he'd have the weaponry, if not the attire. It didn't take much for Mason to negotiate the purchase of a set with my Mom. She so spoils my kids. But, I suppose that is the point of a Grandparent isn't it? They sold a quiver as well, but after checking it out, it was decided I could make one just as good, if not better. Of course I could. I am seriously crafty, am I not? Well, that, and the quiver was way too big on Mason with no adjustability. Mason, of course, thought the bow and arrows were awesome. Especially since he recently discovered The Avengers and as soon as we got home, he had to try them out.

While Sophie was taking her nap, we headed outside for an archery lesson.
He got pretty good. Standing on the front walk of our house, he was shooting arrows all the way to our neighbors driveway. He even almost made it across the street to the sidewalk on the other side. I was quite impressed. Especially when I gave it a try and my arrow went like half an inch because I didn't do it right. Getting taught how to properly use a bow and arrow by my son was a little embarrassing, but I'll deal. Mason, being the 5 year old he is, could not wait to have his quiver, now that he was an expert archer, and begged me to go shopping for fabrics so I could make it RIGHT NOW. I had to endure this consistent pleading until bedtime brought me some relief.

The following day, I took Mason to JoAnns and we looked at many fabrics until finally settling on a faux brown leather. I convinced him it would look more authentic. My original idea was to make a similar quiver to the one we saw at the festival. A sling type bag to carry over his shoulder. But, then I started researching, as I always do, and saw all kinds of different shapes and types of quivers. This lead me to rethink my plan. First, I had to get Mason's opinion since it was his quiver. Did he want a bag sling like the one at the festival, or a round one? As I mentioned before, he is really into The Avengers, especially after I took him to see the movie his last day of school. With this in mind, he told me he wanted one just like Hawkeye. I don't know much about the character, other than he is an expert archer, and had to go to my computer for some more research. I needed to figure out just how Hawkeye's quiver looked in the movie. After looking at many photos, Mason decided upon the really cool quiver that Hawkeye wears at the end of the movie, during the big battle, which is round.

Plan in place, I spent all afternoon gathering my supplies and putting his quiver together. It turned out great! Better yet, Mason absolutely loves his Hawkeye inspired quiver and it was super easy to make. You can make one too. Here's how I did it.

You'll need:

1 Pringles can (if your child is older you will need 2)
1 yd. Faux leather fabric ( I bought a yard because I tend to make mistakes and wanted to make sure I had enough. However I think 1/2 a yard or less of fabric would do just fine.)
Construction paper (optional)
2 Binder rings
Hot glue/glue gun
Sewing Machine

Step One:
First I wrapped brown construction paper around the Pringles can to cover the bright orange label, taping it in place with electrical tape. (Later I realized this step was unnecessary, so you can skip it if you wish.)

Step Two:
I measured and cut the faux leather, wrapping it around the Pringles can so that it overlapped a tiny bit. I punched holes in the ends and tied it together with round flexible lace. *I had extra fabric at the top which I just folded into the can and secured in place using hot glue.

Step Three:
I traced the bottom of the can onto the leftover fabric and cut out a circle. I then used hot glue to secure it to the bottom of the Pringles can.

Step Four:
I measured around my son's body with measuring tape (just how he would be wearing the quiver, slung over his shoulder, across his body) to get the appropriate length for the strap. I added a few extra inches for growth and adjustability. I then cut out two lengths of the strap and sewed them together with my sewing machine. Because it was faux leather no special needle or thread was needed for this. It went right through the fabric no problem. I used a straight stitch, medium length, with a slow speed.

Step Five:
I chose one end of the strap, folding it over to make a loop, and sewed it together.

Step Six:
I needed to secure the strap to the can, so I laid the strap on the Pringles can covering the seam. I then used an awl to poke a hole at the top of the can. Using a big brad--you need the prongs to be long enough to poke through the fabric and the can and still have enough length to open--I pushed it through the hole, bending the prongs open and securing the strap in place. I repeated this step three more times evenly spacing them. The strap was now securely pinned in place.

Step Seven:
Lastly, I took the loop end of the strap and placed in on the two binder rings. To ensure the binder rings would stay closed I wrapped brown ribbon around the opening and hot glued into place. I then laced the other end of the strap through the binder rings like you would a belt. Voila!
Here is the end result. It fits him perfectly and is adjustable if needed.
Wearing his quiver, view from the front.
Wearing it, view from the back.
The full effect. Mason being the Avenger, Hawkeye.
A close up of the ring closure.

There you have it. A simple, quick and easy DIY quiver you can make your very own Avenger.
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