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.

DSC_3655

To the moon & back . . .

Moon-Man---Chan-to-Mars

 

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A Guide to Camping with a {BABY} under 1

Does camping with a baby under the age of one stress you out? Don’t let it. Here’s the things that we learned our first year of camping. A Guide to Camping with Babies | Chan to Mars Blog

Hanging out
One thing we did a lot with Mars was set up his pack and play outside and used a fitted crib sheet over the top of it to keep bugs out. We put some of his favorite toys in there and just let him play and roll around while we were cooking our meals. It’s helpful to have some sort of high chair (this $15 ikea high chair has removable legs and travels very well) or bumbo seat with the tray, a pop-a-tot, or even just the stroller . . . You’ll need somewhere to sit them down, strap them in, and it’s not like at home where you can lay the baby on the floor . . . I think that was the hardest thing about camping with a baby that young.
A Guide to Camping with a Baby | Chan to Mars Blog
A Guide to Camping with a Baby | Chan to Mars Blog

Sleeping
As far as sleeping; get a wrap! Mars took most of his day naps in our Moby Wrap the first year we took him. Babies nap a lot and you don’t want to be bound to your campsite every time they need to take a nap. We used nap times as times to go hiking. Mars loved sleeping in the Moby while I was walking around. If we were at the campground, he was sleeping in his bed in the camper, which we equipped with two mesh bed rails, a short one and a long one, which created a make-shift crib.
Don’t forget to bring the baby monitor! Camper doors are loud, so you don’t want to have to keep opening the door to check on the baby when they go to bed for the evening. We always bring the white noise machine too, but if you won’t have electric, you can download an app on your phone. It helps to drown out the noise of the older kids and adults hanging around the fire at night.
A Guide to Camping with a Baby | Chan to Mars Blog

Playtime
If your baby takes a pacifier, definitely use one of those clips & clip it to their shirt. We tried to keep Mars’ pacifier in his mouth all the time so he didn’t eat things that he found, like rocks or bugs! They will inevitable get dirty, camping is dirty. So pack more clothes than you’ll need & don’t forget the winter clothes like hats, coats, and mittens. You’ll basically go outside as soon as you wake up in the morning, and it can be awful chilly in the morning.
A Guide to Camping with a Baby | Chan to Mars Blog

Diapering & Feeding
We always did diaper changes and outfit changes on the big bed of our camper. I kept diapers and wipes handy in a bag next to our bed. As far as feeding, a high chair or even a stroller works great. Don’t forget a bottle warmer, if you need it. I would nurse Mars in the bed of our camper & when he switched to formula we had 4 formula dispensers pre measured and packed, 12 pre filled bottles with the water from home & then a jug of nursery water for when we ran out. I like prepping all of that stuff in advance because we didn’t always have water at our campsites, so I didn’t always have clean hands when mixing a bottle, if everything was already done it didn’t matter.
A Guide to Camping with a Baby | Chan to Mars Blog

Camping with a baby isn’t scary. Just relax and your baby will be relaxed. One more tip . . . if you’re driving far you will need to make some frequent stops for diaper changes and feedings. If you don’t need anything else, like gas or hot coffee, I’d recommend stopping at rest areas. If you have older kids, they’re usually a great place to get out some energy and grab a snack that you have in your cooler or camper.

 

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

Nighttime {NOTES}

To my boys:

Chandler {CHAN} you are growing like a weed. Outgrowing all of clothes faster than I’d like to buy them. You are working on your sight words, and doing awesome! You told me that you want to learn how to read this summer, before you start Kindergarten, so we have started working on that. It seems as though you are barely going to preschool these days . . . I used to be pretty set on you going all of your scheduled days, then I realized that this is the last year, for 13 years, that you are going to have the easy option to skip school and go do fun things! So, I’ve loosened up and you’ve only been going one to two days a week now.

You are doing an awesome job taking care of your dog, Romeo. It’s amazing how much your relationship with him has turned around, he now respects you and listens to you like you are his owner, instead of his kid. You feed him, water him, and take him out. He lays in your bed until you fall asleep at night and he waits for you to wake up in the morning before he gets out of his bed.

Marshall {MARS} I cannot believe how much you’ve matured lately, especially in the past week! You’re now 25 months old, you’re potty trained (for 3 weeks now), you told me that you didn’t need your binkie anymore and handed it to me before bed last night, you are speaking so clearly, speaking in sentences, you learned your ABCs, and you are killing it on your educational games on your tablet.

You’ve finally learned “fear”. Things have been frightening you lately and it came as a shock to your brother, whom assumed you were fearless, and always made you lead the way into a dark room or scary situation. You’ve been frightened to tears several times this past week, and to be honest, I love consoling you afterwards. It’s been awhile since you’ve stood still long enough for me to hug on you. You are always on the go. Jumping, running, climbing, eating, and just overall busy . .  all. the. time.

Sleep tight little ones!

Love,

Your Mommy ❤

Moon-Man---Chan-to-Mars

{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 . . .
Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.28.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.28.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.29.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.30.02 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.30.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.30.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.30.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.31.01 PM
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!

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.

Nighttime {NOTES}

To my boys:

Chandler {CHAN} you’re really something . . . funny, independent, strong-willed, and determined. I don’t want to squelter your strong-willed mind, but at the same time I have to parent you, you have to be respectful, you have to be kind, you have to grow to be a caring and honest man. God gave us you to lead you, raise you and shape you into the person that you’re meant to be. At this point in time, I’d say we go through a power struggle on a daily basis and sometimes more than one. We’re all learning everyday! Your dad & I are learning that now is the time, although it probably should’ve been sooner, that we need to be really consistent in our parenting. We need to implement rewards and repercussions and stick to them.

11705434_10153116521561553_6083899514733047599_oYou’ve been saying really funny things lately . . . things that wouldn’t really be funny if an adult said them, but they’re hilarious when your little 4-year-old self says them. The other day your daddy said to you, “You’re really funny, huh, Chandler?” You said, “Mm, I don’t know. A lot of people seem to think so”. We laughed so hard, which proved your point. You’re just figuring out how to verbally express yourself more, it’s keeping us laughing and keeping us on our toes.

Marshall {MARS} you’re getting faster, wilder, and more talkative everyday! Our lives are so different this summer than they were last summer. This summer you are running, talking, yelling, eating everything and exploring on your own. You are obsessed with balls, particular bouncy balls and golf balls. You love “wah-wah” (water), “bahs” (clif bars), “Tanler” your “uh-bah” (brother), “ella”s (elephants), and “an-mols” (animals). You can say well over 30 words and you’ve started grouping 2-3 words together to tell us something, everyone’s favorite around here seems to be when you say, “hot poop”!

You’re pretty fearless! You’ll climb anything, jump off anything, and somehow you manage to not get hurt. You’ve always had this fantastical way about you . . . you could take the nastiest fall or do the scariest looking thing (like riding a 360 bike backwards down an inclined driveway), but you manage to come away unscathed. You’re amazing at catching yourself when you fall which always protects your face, it’s usually unfortunate for your knees, but a few scraps and bruises are your badge of honor for all your reckless stunts you perform.

Sleep tight little ones!

Love,

Your Mommy ❤

Moon-Man---Chan-to-Mars

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