Monday, January 18, 2016

Robin Hood and Little John

I know Halloween was a couple months ago but since we typically keep costumes top secret until they are finished. So... my post is a bit late...OR let's think about it as early for next year. It gives you some time to plan.

Our kids have been all over the place with costume ideas which is why we keep them secret. At first it was a dog and robot, then it turned into Minecraft Steve and Creeper, then they started changing every day and I couldn't keep up. I only had a month, a little less before the first party, to figure out what they were going to be. It bothered me so much that I had a dream one night and started to put my plan in motion.

In school we had been reading about Robin Hood and his adventures. The boys were very interested in it and wanted to see movies and talked about it frequently. So as we were finishing up the book I pulled up some pictures of what they may have looked like and the weapons they used. My youngest was sold for being Robin Hood, now I had to convince my older to be Little John. We went back to the first encounter between Robin Hood and Little John and how they were equally matched throwing each other into the river and then realizing who the other was.

Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John  Friar Tuck set of 4 Postcards:

I may have also said he would get a bow and arrow too in order to persuade him to join in. He did but it is still in the package in the closet.

Now that I have them agreeing to what they will be it was time to figure out how to make it happen. Pinterest to the rescue. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on something they wouldn't wear. Last years costumes were a huge success as they still put them on. This year I mainly used ideas from The Crafted Sparrow. My In-Laws had just bought the boys new dark khaki color jeans which was perfect for their pants, we found long underwear type shirts in the men's department at Wal-Mart, and I made their capes and hats. The belts were fabric belts I had in my closet that we also used for their pirate costumes a few years ago. Halloween to Remember I had planned to make boot coverings but I was already feeling overwhelmed and my youngest had cowboy boots that worked well enough. My oldest was the issue.

We had a garage sale the 2nd weekend in October and as I was packing up I found some old black rain boots that were my brother's. PERFECT! Maybe a little big but we made them work.

Now the capes were a bit tricky which is why I gave up on the boot coverings. Originally we purchased a pattern although it was for an adult so I knew we wouldn't need as much fabric as they called for but my husband convinced me to go ahead and get it for the extra items like the hat and boot coverings. As they were measuring it out I felt a little fear creep in.

That evening I spread everything out and started to lay out the pattern...fear took completely over. It has been about 10 years since I used a pattern and 15 since I made anything that mattered like a skirt. Reading patterns or at least this one was hard so I turned to Pinterest. First I found DIY Fashion for a cape and hood but I didn't care for the cape. I wanted something that would flow and feel like something they could throw around themselves to hide in the forest. I remember my grandma making us full skirts so when I discovered Stitched by Crystal I knew it was a perfect match. I added a few more inches since it was for a 7 and 4 year old. I went back to the DIY Fashion for the hood pattern because again I wanted it to be bulky easy to hide their faces. Let's face it, it was also an easier pattern. Using a kitchen towel as my guide I cut out a rectangular piece of fabric for each cape.

After getting the capes and hoods cut out I pulled out my sewing machine...Only to get Robin's bottom hem completed. The thread kept binding and I tried to fix it only to break the bobbin holder. Maybe I should mention that I thought I had only 3 days to pull these costumes together for their first party so I was freaking out. I turned to liquid stitch and hand sewing the rest of his costume. But since I didn't double the fabric (it is only a Halloween costume) It bled through and wasn't as nice looking as I wanted. My thumb was throbbing after hand stitching the hood on because I was pushing the needle through pleated fabric and I had liquid stitched the hem of the cape neck. I decided to go on a mission to find a replacement bobbin case hitting 3 stores. It wasn't until the last one just 15 minutes before they closed that we found the last one they had. It was like we were in a movie cutting it close each time. Then it was time for the moment of truth, would it solve the binding issue as well. We were successful and only took about 30 minutes to sew Little John's cape and hood. So much easier.

Now onto Robin's hat, I know they had hoods to their capes already but Robin Hood needed his feathered hat. The first one I made was to small for my 5 year old so I made the second one a little larger using the Peter Pan pattern from Sew In Harmony. I should have used her suggestion using felt or a stiffer fabric but I had so much fabric left I didn't want to spend more money.

Our homeschooling party was cancelled :( Luckily Hy-Vee was having kids come dressed up to decorate pumpkins and make cookies so it made up a little for me rushing around. My sister was in town for the weekend so she helped me track down feathers and she decorated the arrows with the help of my brother in law.

The boys spent most of the next week in costume with a party on Tuesday, Trick or Treating Down Town and a Halloween party back home, and finally trick or treating around my sister's neighborhood.

Most people recognized my younger son but my older was thought to be Friar Tuck which didn't bother him much. I think we should have used a bigger staff for him but I was afraid businesses would consider it a weapon. Although we did have a few ask if they were dressed up as Star Wars characters, I had never seen the movies but after seeing so many dressed up as the characters I could kind of see it.

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a great start. This is the time of year for your resolutions, change of mindset, your reset to begin anew.

I haven't made resolutions in a long time but yet always use the new year as my starting point as I near the end of the year, although if I make a goal I usually always use either the first day of the week or month to begin so the first of the year falls right in line.

Of course the most popular resolution is to "lose weight" and while I do want to do that it has kind of drifted to the back of the pack. Instead I want to get Healthy. Healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. It really starts with the spiritual which helps set your mind right and in the end your body will follow.

While there are a few other resolutions or goals we want to off debt, finish the house to sell, more family time. There was a new trend people have started talking about and it is your word or your mantra for the year.  I have heard ones from motivate, renew, grow, and discipline. I drifted off to sleep last night thinking about these when it hit me what I really want to use as my word this year...

Encourage! I want to be an encourager for others and myself. I have tried to be one that is positive but noticed lately I have let negativity come into my life. I nag at my husband and children, I have found myself lacking at being hospitable, or caring to the sick outside of our family.

It all starts with the Word and changing my attitude to become positive. Intentions have always been there to be a better person. Even Paul had times where he intended to go encourage others but was held back. Doesn't mean that he was a bad person but even if not in person he encouraged through letters.

Romans 1:11-13English Standard Version (ESV)11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
We had a birthday party for my boys last night and they were showered with gifts but it wasn't the gifts they were interested was having their friends surround them. The kids took turns, put others first, and the positive energy was apparent as I went to check on them every now and then.

This morning after I decided to become more of an encourager I sat down with them to go through their gifts and write thank you notes. Then they each took a card to decorate it. By the 3rd round (6th card) rolled around I could tell they were needing a break because they weren't spending as much time being creative as they had on the first 2 cards. Normally I would have made them keep working at it just to get it done. Today I decided to give them a break, ok so their work area is covered in glue and paper...and maybe some icing...but in order for them to be an encouragement to others I have to give them space to help give them that encouragement to keep at it...later.

They are not being hateful or negative they just can't give their best and that is what I need to understand too. Sometimes I have to take a break so I don't become the nag or yelling mother or doing something because I "HAVE" to. This is about the right attitude to keep everyone moving in a positive loving encouraging direction.

We had a ton of leftovers from the party so I am taking dinner to a sick family, thank you notes will be finished later, and my husband is taking a test for school all in all it has been a good start to this improved mindset.
Please take the time and think of one way to encourage someone around you this week.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Friday, January 1, 2016

Days 5 & 6: Beehive Basin Trail and Trip Home

Here it is, the end of our trip. It is almost as sad as when Friday rolled around and everyone started packing and cleaning to get ready for the trip home. Thank you for allowing me to share our trip and go down memory lane...even if it was just this summer. I loved looking back through the pictures with my kids.

All week my brother had been wanting to go on this trail he heard about, Beehive Basin Trail. They say it is suppose to be one of the best hiking places in the world. Everyone was eager to go until he read that this was a 7 mile hike and would last about 3 hours. Of course we knew this was probably not the best idea to take the kids on so that was half our group, then there were some minor injuries from the waterfall hike, those that needed a jump start on packing, and well those who really don't like hiking.

Down to 3...Brother (of course since it was his idea), Dad, and myself. I think I threw them off because we don't really get out and hike but not because I don't want to...more like its not my husband's preferred recreational activity. Growing up I loved going into the woods and spending the day with my brother exploring, not exactly the same but honestly I think we were more adventurous then. My fear of snakes, mountain lions, and coyotes has become worse since having kids.

After breakfast we packed provisions not knowing exactly what we were about to encounter, brought several bottles of water and a few snacks and protein bars. It was only a 3 minute drive to the trailhead from our cabin, if I wasn't such a sissy about the road and so many curves I may have ran it. Alas I am also afraid of getting hit by a car while running. (I have a friend who was hit so it is a valid fear) 

Of course the first sign we come to has a notice about bear traps. I know this is the forest and there are bears but it makes it more real to have these warnings. And as I was looking up some information about the trail I came across someone saying that there was a mama bear and cub on the trail the week after we were there!

My brother said it was rugged terrain but this past year they installed wooden bridges (if you call them that) instead of having to walk through the creek. The picture was actually taken on the way back to the car because I didn't think of it before.

I found this building on a mountain which was above us near our starting point that I used as a frame of reference of our climb in elevation. There are many comments on how long the trail was some say only 4 mile round trip up to 8 miles.

It was a great day for this, not to hot and not a strong wind. The views were breathtaking and I could definitely live in this part of the country to get these views. I had forgot to sync my Garmin running watch so I missed tracking the first 1/3 mile but at this point remembered.

The well worn path is wide enough for one person and on both sides are these beautiful wild flowers growing.

We were about 1.5 miles into our hike when I snapped this picture of my focal point. The trail is about a 750 ft climb in elevation.

We reached the base of the switchbacks which lead up to the lake but took a break to catch our breath and enjoy the view. There are homes built along the trail tucked away. This one rests near the switchbacks.

Here is another shot of how far up we have climbed. That is my focal point off center to the right.

As we were resting we heard a noise. I thought it sounded like a horse but we didn't see any barns around let alone fencing and my dad thought it was a door shutting to the house nearby. We continued to sit quietly resting and talking about the noise because it was so odd when out of the woods steps a female MOOSE!

We had taken a bit of a shortcut with the first switchback and decided to just try to climb straight up instead of taking the zigzag of the trail. My dad said we were not going to do that again but it was a good thing we did otherwise we may have scared the moose off. The first switchback leads right next to where she was standing.

Within a few moments a baby makes an appearance as well! While what I heard was not a horse I was close with the sound.

We watched them for about 10 minutes while they grazed until more hikers came along. The trail is supposedly a very busy place but we had it all to ourselves until this point.

We noticed dark clouds moving in and my brother had become ill so we decided to head back to the truck. It was about then that my brother and I heard another noise, a growl. While we never saw what it was it sounded deep and loud more like a bear. Now knowing that the next week a bear was spotted in the area it makes us more apt to think that it was.

This was about 200 ft from where we had seen the moose and about the spot we heard the growl. We had been joking on the way up about what we would do if we ran into a bear. My brother offered to sacrifice himself by leading and told us where his keys were in case...except he had them and would defeat the purpose of his sacrifice (haha).

The beautiful day we had started with was quickly changing to be perfect storm.

While we were quick about getting back to the car we still took the time to take some pictures.

Fork in the road...

I purposefully left my dad and brother out of pictures as much as I could...mainly because my dad may kill me if he saw himself online but I couldn't pass this one up.

His outfit cracks me up. If you know him, you know he does not wear shorts and especially not ankle socks. We made a stop on the way up, at the request of my sister, to buy him some short socks so we all didn't have to be so embarrassed by his tube socks and shorts combination. Paired with a fishing hat, best Dad EVER! These pictures will keep us laughing.

I do want to point out that while it looks like an easy trail it really is deceiving. If you step off slightly going downhill it drops quite a bit. The grass and flowers makes it look level or a gradual slope but I assure you it's not. We found out by trying to move over to let a family by. Oh and while walking on the trail keep your eye on the trail and your feet up. I stumbled many times, although taking pictures and talking didn't help.

Nearing the base of the trail.

We turned back at a perfect time. Made it to the truck and as soon as we shut the door it started sprinkling. By the time we made it back to the cabin it was a full downpour!

I enjoyed this adventure with my dad and brother, I believe it was a first for me spending time alone with them.

We were truly blessed with this trip. I thought that by the end we would be leaving with having a few arguments, kids exhausted, and not sure we would want to attempt this again...But it was completely the opposite.

There was only one disagreement that I remember and it was the first day but VERY minor. Kids played really well and quietly. Highly recommend legos on trips like this, kept them busy, working together, and quiet. Oh and a bunk bed doesn't hurt either but it wasn't a quiet activity for them. Everyone slept well although I could have slept better not hitting my head in the middle of the night, we were bottom bunk. And we can't wait to plan the next big family vacation.

The boys showing off their shirts from grandma and grandpa.

Sad that this is the last night they will see each other for a while.

We ended the night roasting marshmallows, and relaxing by a smoldering log waiting for laundry to finish and planning our trip home. We were all leaving at different times. Our plan was to leave around 5am so we said our goodbyes that night. We may have stayed up extra late...maybe 1am, but it was worth it to play one more game of Mexican Dominos.

Saturday we were the first up and had almost everything packed and ready to head out before my parents woke up. We even encountered a furry friend who lives under the front porch. The kids had said they seen an animal on the front porch the night before but we didn't believe them. My oldest said he thought it was a fox...he was right. My husband was loading our car when he turned around and it was stand right behind him.

One last look around our room before loading up the last sleeping kid. Now you can see why I hit my head in the middle of the night.

The boys had the top bunk, can you spot my youngest still sleeping? During the whole trip we only had one incident with someone falling off and that was only because they weren't using the ladder. They were climbing on the front side and the beam rolled. Lesson Learned, they were ok just shaken up and still sore from falling out of the hot tub on the first day so he slept on the couch a couple nights.

Trying to wake him up to say goodbye to grandma and grandpa before we head out.

Breakfast...leftover s'more makings.

Of course we can't leave without having a few deer run out into the road as we head down the mountain.

We were on the road by 6am enjoying a new path home through the Indian Reservation in Montana and South Dakota. We have already started planning return vacations to see some other sites like Custard's Last Stand, Mount Rushmore, and of course more trails.

We stopped in Sturgis for gas and food, we didn't see anywhere to get gas while driving though the reservation. It was an eye opening experience. I did a lot of research when I could get cell service.

Our plan was to stop in Sioux Falls, Iowa for the night but when we arrived the app I used had changed the date to be in 3 weeks. We were able to get them to cancel the room, they didn't have any other rooms available unless we wanted to pay $250 and considering we only needed a bed to sleep for 5 hours it wasn't worth it. If you are wondering if it was user error especially since it was midnight, I tried to book another place without fulfilling the purchase and it did it again changing the date to be 3 weeks from the day I had said.

I also found a fault with apps like Expedia, which I used on the way up with success, you can't book a hotel at midnight for checking out the same day. This was our biggest frustration about the trip since we had been driving for almost 18 hours. In the end we...ok my husband drove the rest of the way home. I fell asleep around 2am until we exited toward our house. 24 hours in the car, it was good to be home! My parents were 2 hours behind us and had the same problem of not being able to find a vacancy. If we would have known we may have ended up with the $250 room and shared it with them but I think we were all happy to be back home in our own beds.

My kids STILL ask to go back to the cabin and want to live in the mountains. It was an awesome trip bringing us all closer. Next time I hope my baby brother can come too.

I hope you enjoyed our adventures! Let me know what your favorite road trips have been!