Thursday, January 26, 2012

Up side down side

The bad news: Bella's ipad went missing somewhere between the car sitting in the garage and the house and is nowhere to be found.

The good news: I found a coloring book, a crayon, a hairband, 3 cat toys, a plate, a set of acrylic bugs, a scorpion (in acrylic) keychain, and Bella's ipod touch that went missing a little over a year ago in Rhode Island.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overheard: The Gift of Clouds

This Christmas revealed a very magical gift indeed.  Twice, Bella received jewelry from friends and family in a lovely box like this:

Bella immediately threw the jewelry to the side, pulled out the cotton rectangle and exclaimed, "They got me a CLOUD!"  Best Christmas gift ever.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas 2011

As I've mentioned previously, I had somewhat urgent surgery 3 days before Christmas.  Turns out my gallbladder was full of rocks and pretty unhappy.  We decided sooner was better than later since we had family in town for Christmas to help around the house and with Bella.  Surgery went great, they went in laproscopically and there have been no complications (woohoo!).  It did mean that I was a bit hopped up on painkillers Christmas morning though, so excuse the dark footage.  The video is a little over a minute.

In my haze I sort of forgot to pick the camera back up after I put it down, but the day itself was wonderful and I have lots of great photos in my personal memories.

The massive bookshelf dollhouse (aka doghouse according to Bella) was handmade (by Santa of course) thanks to some wonderful assistance from the Camp Lejeune woodshop.  The plans are from Ana White (here) with just a few tweaks like the molding around the windows and doors having some shape instead of being square, the fronts being rounded off and the roof having some fancy edges.  Both Santa and his her helper elf were really proud of the final project, though it definitely was a lot more difficult that the plans made it out to be.  The furniture and people are the very simple unpainted versions from Plan Toys.  Each room came separately so it fits her doghouse dollhouse great.  And once she is out of 'playing with dolls' phase, it will work well for books too.  We always love multi-function!

It has settled in our new playroom and gets lots of laughs and bursts of creativity.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sad Reindeer, Happy Reindeer

One of the things in Bella's stocking was a light up reindeer nose.  So without further ado, sad reindeer, happy reindeer:

And no, she wasn't really sad, just flexing her dramatic muscles.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I wanted to share a post solely about the bookshelf dollhouse that Santa had the elves *cough cough* build for Bella this Christmas.  I'll be showing some pictures of Christmas morning soon, but here is some info from the elves.

The plans used came from Ana White at this link.  You can tell that they haven't put a back on ours just yet.  They were planning on doing the back in white bead board.  They didn't get around to it, partially because of time constraints and partially because they wanted to see if she would play with it in a 2-sided setup.  It can always be added later, so no biggie either way.

They liked the flexibility of these plans since it can be played with like a dollhouse, or later serve as a bookshelf.  The elves found the project more difficult than the Ana White site let on, but that's most likely because they were working in a woodshop where you can't just buy 12 inch wide boards like the plans call for.  The elves had to actually rip down and join together multiple boards to make the width correct.  Good thing for Bella that she had 2 very dedicated elves.

They also made a few detail adjustments.  They rounded off the fronts of all of the shelves, dividers and sides.  They used a fancier routed edge around the windows and doors.  And the boards for the roof line got routed to look like they were trimmed.

It's currently painted in bright white for the trim and interior.  The roof and bottom face boards are painted in Olympic's Stormy Weather (D16-3).  The sides are painted in Olympic's Pins and Needles (D51-3).

There are 6 rooms in total.  All of the furnishing and characters are from Plan Toys.  Each room is sold separately.  All of the characters came together as a family.

So let's meet our family:
Here's Daddy.  He almost always lives in the kitchen/dining room.  His hair is a  And his pants popped that belt the first day.  I couldn't make this stuff up, I swear.

Yep, that's Mommy, face down in bed.  Don't judge me.

Here's Bella, hanging out in the kids' room, her usual smiley self.

This is baby brother.  He doesn't exist in real life, yet.  Only time will tell.

This is the pet set. They were sold separately from the family.  Our real cat really likes the food bowls so one is always missing.  It also came with a dog house, a cat, a bunny, and a cow.  Ok, so it's supposed to be a dog.  But really, with those markings?

Technically this little cat doesn't belong at all, he's from a My Little Ponies set, but he looks so cute on the couch that we left him.

So there is the dollhouse.  Or, as Bella puts it, 'the doghouse.'

This is why it made for the best Christmas yet:

I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Yearly Ornaments

When I was growing up, each year I got to pick out a new ornament for the tree.  When I got married, my mother gave us my ornaments during our first Christmas together.

Vinny and I have continued the tradition, both for ourselves and for Bella.  We choose an ornament each year that signifies something we did during that year.  When we had Bella, we started getting 2 related things, one for her and one for us.  I write the year on each one in silver sharpie.  I decided when we started, that I wanted our ornaments to have a cohesive feel, so our ornaments are all handblown glass.  I'm hoping to continue this way for Bella, but we'll see.  This year, to commemorate our first year full time in the Navy, we got a life preserver/anchor ornament and Bella got a teddy bear with a stars and stripes hat. 

Because all of the ornaments on our tree are glass, the ornaments from my childhood (my favorite ones at least) are displayed separately.  I enjoy getting them out each year and walking down memory lane.  The light hit the 1989 disco ball this year and made them really shine:

Cause nothing says Christmas like a disco ball/smoke detector ornament!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree: Bella's version

I was thrilled to discover over Christmas that Bella likes to draw something other than circles.  I figured I would just see what happened, so I gave her a piece of paper and I took a piece of paper and I drew a Christmas tree.  I went one step at a time and she did the same thing on her paper after watching me.  I think it came out pretty great, and she still got to use her wonderful circles! :)

The circles next to the tree were going to be a person but she got frustrated when it didn't look right and gave up.  Maybe next time...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Breakfast with Santa

In addition to the Santa photo shoot, the Emerald Isle park and recreation department also organized a breakfast with Santa.  The ideas were wonderful even though it fell apart a bit for reasons out of their control.

Everyone was given a number (based on the order in which you registered) and that was the order that you went to see Santa in.  They used the scoreboard in the gym to light up the number.  Bella refused to sit on Santa's lap again. (who was different from the photo shoot Santa) And each child got a small toy from a bin once they were done.

While kids waited they had breakfast (of course), a snowflake cutting station, a coloring station, and a Bingo station.  The Bingo was fun because the numbers on the cards were all 1-9 and they used M&Ms for markers.  Then each child had to fill the card before they got bingo.  Since everyone had the same numbers, just in various places, every child won every game.  The prize: they got to eat their markers!  They had also planned to have a magic show but the magician had car trouble. (I feel like there is a joke there, but I'm too tired to find it)

We had a good time especially because Bella's buddy, Blake, and his sister were there with us.  We kept trying to get a cute picture of the 2 of them, but it's hard to make two little bodies stand still long enough!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Handprint Reindeer and Fingerprint Christmas Tree, Finished with Snowman Paint

Whew, long title there!  This was one of our holiday crafts that I thought I would share:

We used tiny bells from Michaels for the collar and I went around the bottom of them with silver glitter glue.  The Christmas tree is made up of both my and Bella's fingerprints.  It's got some green glitter garland and a bit of snowman paint on the branches.  The star sparkles with some gold glitter.

The snowman paint was really fun.  It's 1 part shaving cream to 1 part white glue.  I added a dash of white paint because I thought it might need it but I don't think it was necessary.  I also put blue glitter in mine.  It gave it some dimension, but it didn't sparkle, so perhaps not the best addition.  It dried in about a day and half and has a bit of a spongy texture to it.  I ended up going back over it once it was dry and put a touch of clear glitter in the recesses.  That touch is one of my favorite things about the finished product.

I glued a ribbon on the back to hang it with, but ultimately decided to sit it up on a stand this year.  White walls + white canvas = weird.  I think if I had it to do again I would paint the canvas light blue before we started.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventures of Elf the elf: Part 2

Wow, Christmas season really sped past this year.  Or, I guess I should say last year since it's already 2012.  That's what happens when you have urgent and unexpected surgery 3 days before Christmas.  I'll fill you in on that soon.  I wanted to make sure that I finished up telling you about Elf's adventures.

Day 15: Bella opened her first gift from us, a hot wheels wall racetrack.  After playing with it for a while, she went to bed, but Elf wanted to go for a ride too!

It made me laugh to see her sleeping away only inches from Elf being mischievous.

Day 16: Elf had some fun playing with the light bright. (it's a younger kid version, but I can't remember it's real name so it's always just been 'the light bright thingie')

Day 19: Elf turned our remaining milk Christmas green and seemed a bit too pleased with himself.

Day 20: One of our gifts from my family was a Neato automatic vacuum (that I totally LOVE).  Elf thought he was quite the cowboy so he apparently took it for a spin.

Day 21: Elf wasn't as good with the lasso as he thought and got himself in a bit of a bind.

Day 22: Elf talked to Santa and found out how many goodies Bella was going to get for her stocking so he measured her stocking to make sure it would hold it all.  He got a little stuck.
side note: the pink socks belong to Vinny's mom.  She was visiting for Christmas so these became her makeshift stocking.

Day 23: Elf attempted to go sledding in my shoe

Day 24: After the failed sledding attempt, Elf slid down the bannister.

Christmas day, Elf was gone, back to the North Pole.  He left Bella a note on her chalkboard saying 'see you next year' and 'Merry Christmas.'  I can't wait to see him next year.

A note for others expecting elf antics at their house: our elf made use of pipe cleaners several times since his arms weren't always long enough or strong enough to stay in place overnight.  Might want to have some on hand before your elf arrives next year!