And then there were Legos…

Some of the best days are spent doing things I didn’t plan…

Like when Gavin is begging me to build him a Lego house.

And it literally takes me the bulk of the day to fulfill this wish for him. He know’s mommy has never known her full potential at Lego building and seriously doubts a successful outcome, but he had every bit of faith in me with this assignment.

 

I couldn’t resist a couple of details, like the flower walkway next to a pond… or the fancy barbecue on the upstairs deck…

 

And of course we have the living room… a side from the kitchen and bedrooms.

Yes, that’s a drill on the coffee table, why I don’t know. ūüôā

Gavin and Ella both asked for the garage.

It was definitely a Lego day and mostly because we are three days out from the last day of school, workbooks are drying up, and summer fun days are starting to nudge at us. We took a run in the morning through our “old downtown” and had some real interactions with map/key concepts as well as stopped in the pet store for some learning. The kids got to pet a few snakes, Ella pet a scorpion and they watched the effort that goes into maintaining all the animal cages. It was an eventful day even though the Lego’s ended up as the bigger portion.

But every good day must come to an end, and the creation met its tragic end…

 

It’s a tough thing to see hard work fall on the floor to a million pieces. But what is remembered is the fun that was had while it lasted!

And there’s always tomorrow….

P.S. Lego mini golf

Marathon Rationale Part 2: INSPIRATION


“A baby learns to crawl-A toddler to walk- A child to run- A marathoner never forgets the child within.” ~ Dad

“Part 2” rationale for my marathon is INSPIRATION. Throughout the process of preparing for the LA Marathon, I have taken inspiration from many sources. Whether it was an inspirational quote, or seeing a person out on their wheelchair using the same trail I do (that happened several times). At some point it begins to feel as though there is not much more inspiration¬†to run for other than because I CAN. Because God has given me my mobility, I will put it to use while I can. I think it would be great to run for a cause in the future, in fact I plan on it.

There are a couple bits of inspirations though that are very close to my heart. As mentioned in “Part 1” running has been a part of my life forever it seems. My dad ran many races as I was growing up. Between the 5k’s, 10k’s and marathon’s he did, I’ve always considered him¬†a seasoned runner. I thank him for giving me one half of my “running bug.” My mom is the other half to that equation. She also did several races during that time and would support my dad on his marathon’s as well.

Here is a great post-race pic of my parents probably almost 20 years ago.

The official contributor's to my "running bug"

I love them ūüôā

My mom ran a 5k with me (my first) when I was in junior high. In high school, we had a little tradition of running together during the early mornings before I’d go to school.¬†Looking back I believe it was our way to stay connected during those teenage years. Between myself being busy with school and extra curricular activities, and her working, running gave us something special to do together. The mornings¬†welcomed¬†us with early sunrises and the sound of morning birds in their usual chatty spirits. It encouraged the healthy chatter between a mother and daughter that can often get lost in the shuffle of life as we grow up. I’m very grateful for those times we had on our morning runs together.¬†It helped to solidify our relationship, and inspires a closeness I hope to have with my daughter.

There is this great horse trail at the top of the street that I grew up on, which we would all use for running. It brings back so many memories when I’ve had the opportunity to run that trail again.

Revisiting the trail and my street I grew up on.

I can almost imagine my younger self walking to the top of that street again. I’m guessing I would have never imagined to see the woman I am today, but I think I’d be pretty proud.

Being inspired by my parents all my life gives me inspiration as a parent now myself. To be able to leave a positive impression on my children, like my parents did, is something I pray about often.

My inspiration for this race comes also from being a mother. My kids inspire me everyday. They have brought so much life and love to my world and I want to help make sure that I’ll be here for them as long as possible. That means taking care of myself and my health. Running has been something they enjoy doing with me on our local riding trail. I try to get them out with me as often as I can. Plus it’s the perfect activity to complete physical education requirements. Ella and Gavin ride their bikes and I push Grant in the stroller as I run. I hope this helps to spark a lifelong positive approach to health and fitness.

My parents set my sister’s and I up with a great foundation of fitness. Now it is up to us to continue for ourselves/families. We often attended these races as a family when we were little. It gave my sister Jackie and I (being the older two of us three) the opportunity to take part in the children’s dashes. As Jackie also describes¬†here on her family blog¬†that we were fortunate to have the experience and memories of those early days of fitness. Now we have the opportunity to¬†re-create those experiences for our own family which carries on the tradition again.

Here are a few photos from our early running days haha…

Budding young runners ūüôā

Now all these years later, I’m glad to have the knowledge of my dad from his training days. My dad has been such an encouragement. Unfortunately after originally agreeing to do this race with me, he reached the point for himself during the training process that he had to back out of doing it.

That was a bitter-sweet moment.

His mind was telling him he wanted to be there with me to run the race, but his body had told him something else. He finally had to listen to it. Something about pushing between 13 and 15 miles was just not settling right for him. I really didn’t want to persuade him to keep going, even knowing it has been his dream all along to run a marathon with one of his daughters.

Dad and his daughter's

That brings me to the¬†special¬†thing about the marathons he did run. He made a point to run at least 3 marathons, earning a medal for each daughter. And he did it. 3 solid times, LA Marathon in 1999, 2001 and 2002. It would have been consecutive if it weren’t for a horrible knee injury he had on a ski trip we took in 2000. It was during the middle of his training, already up to 17 miles which is one of the worst setbacks you can ever face. He had to wait it out for one year.

The story of Dad’s marathon life actually began back in 1989. It was the 4th LA Marathon on the books. My dad’s INSPIRATION¬†to run a marathon came after watching the 1984 Olympics here in LA. He set out for that first marathon not being fully prepared as he came to find out. After only training up to 15 miles, he arrived to the race with not an ounce of nutritional supplements on him. He thought he could rely on what the race would provide for runner’s throughout the course. Little did he know or really consider the thought that they could run out of these things so maybe he should bring back up. That was exactly what happened. Supplies became low by the time he reached the stations. All was good for him till about mile 19, when he started to realize that he wasn’t feeling so well. Then by mile 21 he was able to get a slice of orange to eat. The acidity on his empty stomach was definitely not a match. At mile 22 my dad said he “was done.” He had to quit the race.

This is a moment that would haunt him for the next 10 years. He had to finish it. Ironically the unfinished marathon is the story he shares most, not so much his following victories. I think reliving such an intensely painful moment, not only physically but mentally is therapeutic in some way¬†for him.¬†I would gladly hear it again and again. It’s obviously one of those moments that just changes you forever. You never forget it, and it lives on in you through sharing and reliving it.

I can’t imagine what that experience really was for him. I just know he is a hero in my book and an inspiration for not giving up on his dream to finish it. I can truly acknowledge now how much perseverance he had to complete those runs for us. I appreciate it on such a higher level now that I am going through what he did to reach his goals.

I hope my kids look up to me that way too someday. Not to say I’m going to go run more marathons or anything….now that would be crazy lol.

Overall my inspiration comes mostly from within. What is in my heart and mind. The things that drive me and have kept me inspired are the ones who are closest to me rooting me on, and my kids who always have my heart and soul.

As my dad reminded me…

Inspiration is nothing without your own spirit in it.” ~ Dad

Organizing makes my world go ’round!!!!

Okay, two things I am guilty of which completely contradict one another…

A. Coupon/ Craft supply hoarding

B. Going on organizing binges

How can I possibly have one with the other or is it without the other… I don’t know what it is, I’m confusing myself just thinking about how serious this problem could be. I guess they do feed into each other in some strange way. The hoarder in me…not so great. The organizer in me…. I kind of like her. Read about my moment of organizing a bit of nature¬†here.

Since our big move¬†though, I have been on what seems like an endless cycle of binge organizing. I call it a binge because I literally will tackle something at random, when I have a vision about it functioning in a better way than it is. It’s usually a small window of time that I have to work with to complete the organizing like before bed or when I have a spare moment in the day. So it’s like this surge of “have to get it done” kind of energy.¬†It’s funny how something like a move can either send you into a crazy mess of dumping things into boxes without any rhyme or reason or it may strike up a relationship with that thing we don’t always like to mess with…organizing!!¬†Whether it was getting rid of stuff, trashing the junk, saving things of importance, or saving the unnecessary… organizing was just a must while deciding what to take and what to put into storage during the move in our case. I just had¬†a dandy¬† time managing the packing of an entire home while adding in 3 kids to the mix. Actually I was quite insane some days and I didn’t want to look at another box again in my life¬†but thankfully I got through it! Not however without cutting a few corners. One being that I did put off some smaller projects, which included organizing my “I might need that someday” stash of ribbon and my ugly ‘growing by the minute,’ not to mention expiring¬†folder of coupons lol. ¬†I hope someone out there can identify with me and that tiny hoarder within, that just comes out long enough to do some damage, but stays safely away from anything close to what is on those crazy shows about hoarding these days. I can definitely admit I had a growing problem and my organizing always is a work in progress.

I’m happy to report though on the battle with that little hoarding monster of mine …

Ribbon…meet closepin.

Coupons…meet paper clips and simple tray ($1 section at Target!!)

¬†Before this turns into a lengthy post let me keep it simple…

I turned this:

Into this:

I’m telling you that it just makes my world such a brighter place when I complete¬†one of my “organizing binges.” I’m happier and more content because I’m in control of my surroundings (the control freak in me thrives on it). I know where to go when I need something and don’t feel overwhelmed when searching for it. I trashed too many coupons to count during this organizing mission, which I am officially cutting (no punt intended) back on my coupon collecting now¬†and I also let go of a lot of ribbon which I’m positive I won’t miss!

I have seen this simple organizing tip of using the clothespins (also $1 for an entire pack) to organize ribbon a lot around the web. It does work really great I have to say!

I also used the ol’ wooden dowel and ribbon spool trick on one of the shelves of my desk.

I’m sure there is a better way out there for coupon organizing, in fact I’m positive I’ve seen very cool ways of filing them and stuff but for now this is good. The coupons are within sight, so that I don’t forget to use them. They¬†are also sorted and clipped together by category. Works for me!! ūüôā

Anyway, tackling that hoarding monster was never on top of my list of things to do, but when I handled it, that “Ahhhh” moment was so worth it.

Little hoarder is not welcome in my world… now let it stay that way please!!!

Habitat dioramas!!!

hab·i·tat (hb-tt) n.

1.  a : the place or environment where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and grows

     b : the typical place of residence of a person or a group
     c : a housing for a controlled physical environment in which people can live under surrounding inhospitable       conditions (as under the sea)
2: the place where something is commonly found

So we have studied up a bit on animal habitats recently for science and I was super excited to introduce the kiddos to one of my most favorite things to make as a kid in grammar school...the diorama!! Yes for some it may have been the most dreaded project, for myself it was most loved! Everything about creating a unique and tiny scene in a box brought me happiness as a kid. My mind felt as though it could literally jump into the little world, and experience it for myself. I was a very visual learner, so that is probably why I enjoyed it so much. That might be one of the biggest benefits to creating a diorama, is that it reinforces the concept or story being learned and kind of pulls it all together with a visual guide.

I figured the best starter concept using this project would be lessons on habitats. It’s pretty easy and basic enough to engage them with ideas and simple enough to approach. Ella chose the ocean. Here she is completing one of her worksheets on habitats.

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Gavin decided that he wanted to do the desert. Here they are painting the outside of their boxes.

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Gavin obviously was too excited to sit still… This project is also great because you can pull it together using so many various things that you might have on hand. We used everything from play-doh, paint, pipe cleaners, to bendaroos, shells and rock collections we have, dirt from outside, cotton, and beads. The possibilities are endless of course!

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Gavin’s desert was coming together! So goes the normal course of one subject leading into another, as we were able to discuss the concept of a cactus referring to the singular and cacti in terms of more than one. Ella was quite perplexed over this fact, her mind has to know the who, what and why of it all. It’s just another one of those things!!

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You can’t have too many snakes!

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Ella was very thoughtful and particular about how she wanted her diorama to look. Gavin on the other hand just wanted to go for it. Doing these projects with them really brings out how much their minds differ at such a young age. Ella really likes to be guided through a lot and enjoy’s the¬†one on one thing, while Gavin is the do-it-himself kind of kid. Just like his mama :). Once you tell him about it or he see’s something, he just runs with it!

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Ella has a huge and beautiful imagination, which I just love about her. She does require more attention though when it comes to certain things. This fact has definitely helped me grow with patience! We literally made a big colorful mess this day but what’s the fun in a project if you can’t make a mess right?!

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Ellas imaginative juices were flowing, and she decided that her box was actually a TV. She wanted to pretend that its her own underwater show to watch. We then had to equip it with an antenna and a remote  for changing channels. Love her little mind!!

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This desert looks dry enough to me!!

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A fun and successful project for us, as agreed. They have a blast now watching their shows at the breakfast table in the morning…No commercial interruptions to top it!!

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Now we will be following up specifically on the ocean habitat with a field¬†trip down to Sea World with their Auntie and cousins down in San Diego! ūüôā

It was bound to happen…my first ever tutorial

I’ll admit it, I AM a tutorial junkie….there I said it…..

It’s true though, and it makes total sense in my case. I LOVE to create and to make, and obviously these days, with a search engine at our finger tips, it’s amazingly easy to find out how to do ANYTHING with simply the click of a mouse. There are so many creative ideas and fascinating inspiration floating around the web and blog land. I couldn’t help my excitement when I came across the first tutorial I actually ever tried out. It was on this awesome blog that I found so many neat things to make. This woman is amazing with her creative talents!! I also found myself taking a liking to this “re-fashioning” business. The concept is basically all about recreating and bringing new life to the underused or old clothing. As long it’s salvageable of course. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel that it’s a small way to make my contribution in reducing the waste in this world by re-inventing something that would otherwise be discarded. Eventually I also found some re-fashioning ideas on men’s shirts like this one here¬†as well. That was when my first ‘men’s shirt to skirt’ refashion came about. That also began¬†the blossoming of a relationship with my Nana’s (My Dad’s mom’s) sewing machine which I was thankfully given to use. It is a very vintage piece of machinery from the 70’s, but it held up very well over the years….they just don’t make sewing machines the way they used to. LITERALLY!!!

Oldie but goodie!!

Nowadays these machines are very high-tech and digitally made, which sounds amazing to me, but as a Newby to sewing it was good to learn on something pretty old school and basic. Let me just emphasis that I have never taken a sewing class in my life and by no means do I truly know what it is that I am doing (technically). Besides the basics that my mom taught me of sewing, it really was by trial and error that I am still learning the skill. I once again found myself doing a lot of research on the internet and of course, busted out the ol’ instruction manual that my ever prepared¬†Nana left with it. So needless to say, my sewing skills have come along here and a lot of my work thus far has not been without flaw. I’m sure some of it could be considered a down right disgrace to some savvy seamstress out there, but hey it’s working for me so that’s all I really care about at this point. Someday I will find time to take a basic sewing class, but for now I will get by I’m sure ūüôā

Anyway that’s enough of a disclaimer to my by no means expert sewing skills, and yeah about this tutorial….so my first men’s shirt refashion was this one:

A men's shirt to banded skirt refashion

It’s not the best picture or work but it turned out rather nice overall. I added an elastic waistband to it, as well as tried my hand at some applique detail at the bottom there, by cutting pieces from the upper chest of the original shirt and creating a leafy design. It works with a lot of outfits and obviously who can go wrong with a custom, one of a kind Diesel skirt right? So I have waited to get started on another shirt project, but now that time has come!!

I truly found this project quite easy, especially because it requires no pattern or crazy sewing skills. There are some out there, that get more involved but I chose to keep it simple for myself. I also decided to do this one without that elastic waistband as I did in the first one.

Materials:

  • Any men’s button up shirt
  • sewing machine
  • elastic between 3/4″ to 1 ¬†inch
  • buttons if you choose
  • lace embellishment
  • safety-pin
  • coordinating thread

So I found this lovely and simple white button-up of my husband’s that he didn’t want

Men's button-up

  • cut it pretty much across the from the lowest point of where the sleeves begin like so. The bottom part of the shirt is what will become the skirt, so you can set aside the upper piece after you cut it off. You can get very technical about this if you have a sewing guide with measurements, but I really eyeballed it and that wasn’t horribly wrong. My conclusion is that this project is easy enough that you can get away with that!
  • So you now should have a long enough piece to use as a skirt. Slipping it on at this point might be a good idea, just to make sure it falls where you want it. I personally wanted this skirt as a high-waisted skirt to use with a waist belt, so the length worked perfect!

Simple cut across

  • Next I sewed down the outer edge from where it buttons down so there will be no lifting or embarrassing “peek-a-boo” between the buttons. This should be a vertical line using a straight stitch all the way along the opening of where you would normally button it up. I start from the bottom and work my way up towards where the waist of the skirt will end up. You can follow along the already finished edge so that it still looks like a shirt just all the way closed if that makes sense.

Sewing the edge of shirt opening

  • The next step is when I found myself getting creative. I was feeling the “vintage” theme the night of this project and decided to bust out some old lace trim and buttons of my Grandmother’s (My mom’s mom) that had been given to me. She was an incredible seamstress herself and left¬†a treasure of a collection of sewing trimmings and buttons, among other things when she passed. I was luckily able to get my hands on some from my mom, and have saved them for that “special” project. Well this was it!! I took off the original buttons from the shirt and played around with ideas for how I wanted to add the lace and which buttons to add…

A variety of old buttons!!

Lace trim

So I ultimately decided to add 3 rows of lace. One straight down over where the buttonholes are and a row on either side, with a bit of extra overhang off the bottom for some added character. Pin into place so it stays.

Lace pinned down

  • The next step would be to sew vertically¬†down the lace and in my case I sewed along both sides so it would lay flat along the shirt…

All sewn down!!

  • The next thing I did was make a casing for the elastic to go inside the waist part of the skirt. Turning the skirt inside out for this step, you then want to fold over about an inch from the top down to the inside. This casing should be wide enough¬†to slip your elastic through easily. It is wrong side facing…which means that the case and raw edge will be facing you and should be on the inside of the skirt. Pin it into place. I then flipped my skirt back to right side out and sewed it on a straight stitch again all the way around, being sure to stop and leave about an inch gap open to feed my elastic through. I didn’t get the best photo’s again, but it’s something!

Sewing up the casing from the right side out

  • Now you want to get your elastic ready by measuring around your waist and deducting an inch from the measurement. Or I just hold the elastic around as tight as I will want the finished product and trim it straight from there. Once you have your piece of elastic cut and measured, you need to attach a safety-pin which is easiest to feed it through the waist of the skirt.

Safety pin to feed elastic through the casing

  • Now feed the elastic all the way through and then zig-zag stitch the 2 ends of elastic together so it is nice and secure. Going back and forth several times between normal and reverse stitch is super fast!

Zig-zag stitch the ends of elastic

  • Then you just need to¬†sew closed the gap that was left along the waist to insert the elastic. Change back to straight stitch again for that! I didn’t get a picture after doing that step.
  • I next attached my buttons.

Attach buttons!!

That was my last step!! Easy as pie… if you can at least use a sewing machine. You could bust out a new wardrobe of skirts in no time!

Finished product!!!

I also couldn’t let scraps go to waste, so I made a couple of rolled rosettes with some extra lace and shirt fabric and I pieced together a coordinating necklace for my outfit.

The coordinating necklace

The best part was I made use of a miniature key that came in a key collection that was passed down to us by my husband’s grandma. I just find great pleasure in reusing things from the past and giving them relevance in my life today, rather than it¬†sitting somewhere collecting dust until who knows when!

My version of a bib necklace

So I know this is my first tutorial and definitely not my last but I apologize if it was horribly confusing or boring for that matter haha!! I’m just putting it out there…hopefully to inspire any other creative minds! ūüôā