5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . {BLASTOFF}

You know what’s so great about my family at this stage in our lives!?! Everyone goes along with my ideas. They’re boys, so they really do not have much opinion on what the want to wear . . . and if they do, I convince them otherwise. For example, our Halloween costumes this past year. I mean, obviously the space theme was my idea and it was fantastic one!

I knew that I wanted Mars to be, well, Mars. So, the search was one for a planet costume . . . it was a tough search. Apparently planet costumes are not a thing. I found one pin on Pinterest that provided me with a little insight on how I could make the costume, which I have never ever done before.

I ordered the largest red lantern that I could find, this one on Amazon and red duct tape for reinforcement and bought some red acrylic craft paint in deep red and bright red to add some depth and make it look like a planet instead of just dressing him up as a paper lantern. From there, it was all just piecing stuff together and cutting holes where they needed to be, which was harder than I expected since the paper lantern has wires running through it. I had to use wire cutters for those parts. Another thing that I had to consider was how to make it stay in a circle shape, without the wire support that goes into the lantern. My solution was to cut a large embroidery hoop in half and tape half to each side. Then, I taped these lights to the inside of the lantern and used the battery packs as weights in the bottom.

Mars

Chan’s costume was much easier to find. I bought this Melissa & Doug astronaut costume second hand and then I was shopping in a thrift store one day and scored this silver, handmade, with hand sewn patches, and a handwritten “Armstrong” badge astronaut costume, likely from the 50’s for $4.99 and I couldn’t pass it up. You know I love vintage!

DSC_3575AstroChan

The dog got in on the fun with a rocket costume from PetsMart, which I picke up the day before Halloween for 75% off the original price.

DSC_3614DSC_3583I was a galaxy. I bought my leggings and sweatshirt from Amazon. Made a star headband out of ribbon, glitter, and felt, then painted my face to match.Crystal GalaxyIt was raining all day and I neglected to get a good family photo in the daylight. But, wanted to share a photo of all of our costumes together. Like I said, my husband is down for my ideas as long as all he has to do is wear a themed t-shirt . . . haha! It’s all about compromise.

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To the moon & back . . .

Moon-Man---Chan-to-Mars

 

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{FIFTY-TWO} Weeks

52 weekScreen Shot 2015-12-31 at 9.26.54 AMs in a year; each documented by a photo of brotherhood, a look into a growing relationship, a relationship that changes on the daily. I had a hunch that this project would show the growing bond between Chan & Mars and I was right.

To recap: In 2013, I did #365daysofchandler and in 2014, I did #365daysofmarshall. In 2015 I decided to do a photo project that included both of them, together, with #52weeksofchanandmars.

Without further ado, unfortunately, in no particular order. I give you 52 weeks of Chandler & Marshall . . .
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Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.32.19 PMApple picking, bike rides, bedtime stories, popsicles, puddles, fair rides . . . Awwwww, can I do it again next year? Maybe just continue the hashtag!?! Although, I do already have another project planned. In 2016, I’m planning to do a one second video per day. Not necessarily just of the kids, but of our everyday life, using the 1 Second Everyday app. I’m intrigued to capture a year of our lives in video.

Having a {BALL} Party

Party-InviteBall Party Cake | Chan to Mars Blog Ball Party Food | Chan to Mars Blog Ball Party Cake | Chan to Mars Blog Ball Party Fun | Chan to Mars Blog Ball Party Decor | Chan to Mars Blog Ball Party Favors | Chan to Mars Blog

Our “baby” turned two today, TWO! He loves balls, always loves to throw them, kick them, and jump in the ball pit. So, it was obvious that we had to have a ball themed party. I was looking forward to all of the bright colors and fun shaped food. I made a polka dot, rainbow layered cake and mini trix treats that I rolled into balls. We ordered an insane amount of kolache from St. Louis Kolache, because they’re delicious and shaped like balls to go along with the theme. I also ordered another one of my favorite ball-shaped foods, glitter bites from Sarah’s Cake Shop.  Sadly, our ball pit did not survive the party, but I guess that means that the kids had a ball of a time!

Five in {FIVE} Days!

Everyone says it, every day, but, seriously . . . where has the time gone? My baby will be FIVE in five short days. He’s absolutely ecstatic about it! He cannot wait to grow up, me on the other hand, I can wait.  I mean c’mon, look at those long baby eyelashes and that adorable freckled face. In another five short years it’s all going to be different.DSC_5274Chan-to-Mars---5-Years-Old-Every year he seems to grow leaps and bounds above the last, and this year is no different. He’s learning everyday, not just from school though, he’s very observant and constantly learning from others. I love to teach him because he’s always willing to soak up the knowledge. He just started his last year of preschool and he was so excited. He’s made several friends in our subdivision this year and he loves when we go on bike rides over to their houses to play. He loves to play with his brother, but hates to share. He’ll share with friends, just not his brother! He loves going out to the “farm” and going camping. He loves to eat junk food, so we have to be sneaky about the healthy foods. He loves biscuits & gravy, cheese toasted ravioli, and pizza. He likes sneakers and comfy pants. He likes collecting toys. He likes to play with cars, trucks, remote control cars, and superhero costumes. He loves to drive or ride anything motorized. He’s a surprisingly good driver! He’s still super funny, strong willed, with a phenomenal vocabulary, and an adorable smile.
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The {COUNTRY} Life

Chan to Mars - Boys in the Creek Chan to Mars - 5 Year old creek photoshootChan to Mars - Creek PhotoshootChan to Mars - 1950's Ford Truck PhotoshootChan thrives in the country life, as did I. I grew up in the country, in the middle of 12 acres, in the middle of nowhere with a creek on the back of the property, complete with a field of horses. My hometown is much more developed now than it was when I was a child, but it’s still what I would consider “country”. When we’re not camping we love going back to our hometown to visit with family and subsequently throw the boys into the country life . . . if only for a couple of hours, it’s worth it.

Hot Town, Summer in the {CITY}

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty . . .

Regardless of the 93 degree temperatures and 90% humidity levels, we refused to stay in the house and took in a couple of outdoor activities in St. Louis this week. The St. Louis Zoo is absolutely fantastic! We always have a wonderful experience there and every time we go we see something new. Unfortunately, the big cats and the new polar bear were not visible when we went on Tuesday, but a lot of other animals came out to play . . .

butterflies, cheetah face Chimp Phil Sealions

Today, we visited Grant’s Farm and totally pushed Chan out of his comfort zone by feeding baby goats, riding a camel and throwing food into a camel’s mouth, he’s a little skittish around animals, especially large animals. His favorite part was running through the water mister and eating a snow cone.

Carousel & Camel Rides Grant's Farm Goats Misters

HONY-QuoteThis quote captured by HONY in 2011, reappeared in my Facebook newsfeed today & I thought it was totally appropriate for the summer. I’m going to let you in a little secret and with all the camping that we do, you’re probably not going to believe it . . . here goes; I hate summer, I hate bitting bugs, I hate heat, I don’t like to get “tan” & have a strong dislike for pools, beaches . . . and, uhg, don’t even get me started on water parks! But, I go out and do it anyway, I sweat through it, and endure the heat of that hot miserable sun to make memories for me and my boys. Summer breeds memories! Think back to your childhood, what do you remember most? SUMMER . . . swimming, frolicking (yep, I use to frolic) and playing outside all day long!

Camping With Kids {WITHOUT} Other Kids

Last summer we went to visit our friends that travel for a living, since they were a mere six hours away instead of 10-12 hours like normal. You can read about that trip here: Have Camper {WILL} Travel. Well, this summer they moved back to the same campground in IL after spending the winter in TX. The first weekend that we both had available, we packed up our things and made the trip again!

Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog Camping with kids - Chan to Mars Blog

Last year, we actually visited on my birthday weekend. This year we happened to visit on mother’s day weekend.  Now, I’m not going to lie . . . this is a hard trip for the boys because there are no other kids to play with. What 4-year-old wants to go camping only to be “stuck” to play with his little brother, who he plays with all the time? Definitely, not my 4-year-old! We only had one day of good weather this trip. Compound bad weather, limited outdoor play, no escaping your baby brother & you have a recipe for a disaster. There is nowhere for the boys to have their own “space” in our camper, so if they’re not playing outside then it seems like they are fighting inside.

Here’s some things we did wrong on this trip:

  1. Forgot multiple toys. Meaning two of a certain type of toy. We {ALWAYS} over-pack in the toy department & the kids barely play with any of it. Well, the time that we probably should have over-packed, the time when we are going without the entertainment of other children, we severely under-packed on toys. We forgot our sports balls, which keep the kids entertained around the campsite while we’re cooking meals. We forgot one of the bikes and we forgot to pack the little brother his own separate toy cars to avoid fights over his big brother’s toy cars.
  2. Didn’t pack rain gear. It rained the entire way there, while we were setting up, and while we were packing up. We forgot rain gear!! Rain coats, boots . . . we didn’t have any of it. We had two options; let the kids get soaked and cold or contain them in the camper. We let them do a little bit of both by alternating them in and out of the camper while we were setting up and packing up.
  3. Did not stick to the kid’s meal schedule. The only nice day we had, we were so excited to get out and about that we totally neglected the kid’s eating schedule, which is breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Luckily, Mars snacked so much throughout the day that he didn’t even notice that he missed a meal. But, Chan was hanging with dad and frankly dad’s just do not think about those things. It did not end well.

Even though we made mistakes this trip and there were a few meltdowns, myself included. Our drive home was wonderful. It was a splendid Mother’s Day drive. We stopped at a lovely rest area in IL that had a little walking trail, picnic tables & a playground for the kids to run around and burn off some energy. It was my husband’s idea and it was a wonderful one. If you’re traveling with kids, definitely take advantage of rest stops for potty breaks and meal breaks . . . and eat the food you have packed! Way less stressful, healthier and free entertainment.

Rest Stop Trail

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines

Thoughts on {MOMMY}hood

Chan to Mars Blog - MomDay2015

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

This weekend, I described motherhood to my friend as something that absorbs you. Not necessarily in a bad or a good way, it just does, it just is . . . absorbing. It’s the hardest and the best job in the whole wide world!! There’s constant worry, you have to repeat everything you say multiple times, you have to think of everything, you know what your kids need before they know what they need and in return you get sweet and loving hugs, bedtime kisses, seeing joy in their big eyes, and a love that is greater than anything you’ve ever known. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

An {ELEVEN} Hour Drive

We took our first camping trip of the year on Easter weekend. We made the eleven hour drive, our furthest camping trip to date, to the Smoky Mountain National Park. We went five years ago with my in-laws and decided to make the same trip with them again, only we added {THREE} children this time! If you have not been to Smoky Mountain National Park, I highly recommend it. It’s absolutely beautiful. Streams & waterfalls everywhere! At every campground you just hear constant water flowing in multiple directions. It so relaxing. Now, the national park has no electric or water hook-ups, which wasn’t a problem for us five years ago sans kids, but I’ll have to admit that we were a little nervous this go round. Luckily, our fridge & furnace can run off of our propane tanks. That was all we needed, besides the occasional light here & there.

day 1morning - day 2Day 2 - waterfallIt was pretty chilly one of the days that we were there & of course that was the day that we decided to climb to the top of Clingmans Dome . . . not wise, it was about seventeen degrees cooler up there, which meant that it was 30 degrees, complete with ice on all the trees. The boys were exhausted (as you can see in the photo of Chan trying to sleep on the bench) when we finished our hike up there, so they both took naps in the warm car while we drove to the next adventure.

Day 2The Easter bunny left baskets for the kids and dropped eggs all over our campsite for an Easter egg hunt. They were allowed to endulge in some treats and then we went out hiking & exploring so more.

EasterLast dayThis was our first camping trip with Mars as a walker. We spent a lot of time chasing him back to our campsite. The natural beauty of this world is astounding! I was taken back by the most simple things, the trees, the streams, and the sheer size of the boulders. The boys just enjoyed their time outside and all of the “treats” they get while camping that they would never be able to eat at home. When we finally got home, made dinner and we told the boys that it was time to eat & Marshall headed to the door and tried to go outside. He was totally confused as to why were we spending so much time indoors.

Happy Camping Y’all!
Moon-Man-in-Pines