Redefining "Toad"

Today is Noah's 11th birthday.

I knew that he wanted a video game, Mario Kart 8, for his birthday. But we like to give our kids more than one thing for their special day.  Since we don't do Christmas, we really like to make the kids feel special on their birthdays.

Sometimes, it's kind of tough to know what to get Noah, though, because his interests seem kind of narrow--and we are usually trying to encourage non-electronics-related interests. So on Tuesday, I asked him if there was anything besides a video game that he would like.

"A Luigi plushie. Or Toad. Yeah, Toad!"

Well, at least it wasn't electronic.

But, wait. Toad? I'm thinking:

Photo Copyright / 123RF Stock Photo


But apparently, Noah was thinking:



It took a while for us to bridge that communication gap, but once we did, I figured that the internet could probably supply me with a pattern to make this cute li'l guy in some way, shape or form.

And the Internets did not disappoint. I found an adorable crochet pattern for several of the Mario Bros characters on Wolfdreamer's blog. So I printed off her pattern for Toad and Toadette, gathered my yarn (a perfect chance to use up old acrylic yarn I never use otherwise, Yay!), plunked my butt in a chair, and started crocheting.

I have done a fair amount of crocheting in my life--enough that I was able to follow this pattern fairly easily. However, I do not like crocheting, and after doing it for nearly 24 hours straight (made bearable by blasting through half of Season 4 of "Gilmore Girls"), my hand and wrist were complaining. But it was all worth it when I got to give Noah this tonight:

Cute enough to eat! Why would anyone call this adorable little guy a Toad?!

Ssh. Don't tell Noah, but I've also started on Luigi. He can be surprised again at his birthday party on Saturday.

And then, I think I will be well and truly done crocheting for a while! Except now Jude, Jabin, and Levi all want one. And Noah mentioned Luigi again. And Mario. And Jude wants Bowser Jr. And I'm pretty sure a few more characters were mentioned. Jason suggested I should just make them all the complete set of characters. I suggested something that Jason could do, too. ;-P

How was your Thursday, friends?

Transformation Complete!

This was a fairly busy weekend for the Winters' household, but a very good one, full of visiting and tea and making memories.

Once a year around this time, I host a party. Well, I admit to taking a few years off while we lived in our previous trailer, due to lack of a good home for entertaining. This house is actually fairly well set up for entertaining, due to the large open kitchen/living room/dining room space--as long as there aren't children trying to rough-house in the middle of it.

So on Friday, I sent all the male Winters' to a friend's for the night (where they suffered through playing video games for 4 hours) and had around fifteen wonderful, beautiful ladies to my house to drink tea, visit, eat, and enjoy an evening without children. (Well, one Momma had to bring her little guy, but he was pretty well-behaved, and sweet to have around.)

Saturday, my dad made the trek up through the snow (which was no concern, thanks to his new Blizzaks--"It's like somebody gave me four-wheel drive!") to visit with this branch of his lineage.

Last Thanksgiving (2011) when he came up with my brother, he had brought me a Husky Oil golf club cover with a simple request: that I make him look like Harvey the Hound, beloved mascot of the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team. It seemed a simple request, and I knew it wouldn't take me long, so I said, "yes." However, it never really seemed to be top priority, only rising to the top five of my "to-do" list in the last few weeks as I knew his visit was approaching. I managed to do the necessary research during that time, but only actually did the project on Saturday while we were visiting and drinking caffeinated, hot beverages. ('Cause, BABY, it's getting cold outside!)

So, in a few short hours, I managed to take this:

And turn it into this:

A pretty good match for this:

Meanwhile, Dad set up the new "Game of Life" he had brought us with his grandsons, and we had a rousing, 3 1/2-hour game. (The first one always takes longer, doesn't it?)

It was so fun watching my boys spend some quality time with their Papa.

Now, already 1 day into the "weekday" section of the week, I sincerely hope the rest of it doesn't fly by like the first two-sevenths, because I hardly know what happened to them.

Upcoming events:

The boys start karate lessons tomorrow. It will be the first time since we were in Mena in 2008 that they have taken karate. At the time, Jude was the only one old enough. They are so excited, even Jabin has been counting down "days to karate", almost completely forgetting what happens the day after, which is his birthday!

My baby will be SEVEN!

The End Draweth Nigh...

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.
— Hal Borland

I can't believe summer is almost over. There are way too many things still on my "to-do" list for that to be allowed.

For most of yesterday, and the rest of today, I have been/will be planning out my homeschool year. Of course, I have a general idea what I'm doing, having picked topics--now I just need to decide what we're doing when, and what activities will go along with it. It is fun, and exciting, and I know that if I plan it now, the year will go much better.

This year, for the first time since we were in Arkansas, I will have all three boys home. I am really looking forward to it, especially to maintaining the "we-know-how-to-play-together" dynamic that took most of the summer to achieve. (Of course, as I was typing that, I heard Jabin start wailing because of something Jude did. Figures.)

Seriously, though, I noticed a real change in the dynamics around here from July to now. It was like a year in school, mostly with children his own age, made Jude forget how to play with his brothers. His self-admitted favourite thing to do in June was to pester them. IT WAS DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!

It took several weeks, but what I was hoping would happen was finally realized--Jude and his brothers seemed to re-equalize their dynamic.


Then, last week when we had a couple of rainy days, I realized that they had been creatively finding things to do all week, and mostly getting along in their play. They had built stuff, played dress-up, played outside, and were uncomplaining about the limited "screen time" I allowed them.


Anyway, despite my typical "the-summer-is-almost-over-and-the-projects-are-still-undone" panic, we have been knocking a few things off of Ye Olde To-Do Liste, some more "for fun" than others.

The weekend before last, I made a wreath I've had the supplies for for over a year. The little wooden "preserve" jars with the "Fruits of the Spirit" on them were actually a garland that I got in a garage sale. The hemp twine holding them together kept breaking, and I had no good place for it in the new trailer, besides. So, "a- repurposing we will go." Add a wreath, ribbon, and decorative potpourri, plus a few silk flowers, and Voila!

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(My one peeve with it is that the last fruit [dangling below the bow] is spelled "Self-Contrl." Made in China, anyone?...)

Also, it no longer hangs over the mirror. I didn't like it there. :-)

Last fall, we switched out the diesel heater that was originally warming our addition (and went through ginormous amounts of fuel) for a wood stove that was a gift from my mom and Mike. Jason built a tiled base and wall-cover heat shield (technical term? Dunno.) from tile that was given to us by our friends the Mundts and also the Stanleys from some of their leftovers. We got very creative in making a symmetrical pattern with what we had, and it turned out pretty good. Unfortunately, it was already late enough in the year that we could not actually remove the stove long enough to mortar and grout the ones on the base, as the addition would be too cold without the stove running for it to cure properly. So, in the last week, Jason has been tackling that project. He mortared down the base tiles, and got almost everything grouted before running out of grout! We are hopeful that he will be able to match the colour, but just in case he can't, he left symmetrical sections of tile ungrouted to make it look a little less "unplanned." :-)

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Since the rest of the room is full of items that would normally be filling up the area in this photo (like the wood stove!), you can see that I am using this convenient flat surface to sort out my textbooks at the moment.

The white case in the far back right is a beginner Japanese course. Jude decided he would rather learn Japanese than French this year. I told him I was game--it is a useful language to know, and I will learn it with him. Should be fun. Also, we are hoping to be able to put the boys in karate this year, so it will complement that nicely. (In most karate dojos, the students need to learn basic Japanese terms anyway, such as counting. I still remember how to count to, uh, ten! Also, I can say "I did it!", but that's from watching Heroes. :-D)

The plastic bag over the stovepipe has a bit of creosote that fell down into it, plus some water from the rain--not sure why that is, since we re-shingled the addition this spring, and Jason just re-tarred everything. Musta missed something. Anyway, last night a moth flew down the chimney (Forest Tent Moth--only about a million of those around here right now) and got caught in the bag. It can't seem to find it's way up again, and the flapping against the plastic is freakin' me out...

One more exciting bit of news. Last Tuesday, we got 40 chicks from a mongrel used-to-be-purebred-heritage-breed flock of chickens. They are meant to replenish my own decimated flock. (If you don't remember what happened, my dog did it.) They will be pretty little going into the winter, and we won't know for sure which ones are roosters until around February. However, I'm hoping that they manage to keep each other warm this winter and we can actually start getting a decent number of eggs again by spring. Right now, they are just li'l cute balls of multi-coloured fluff!

Anyway, I should go feed my kiddos some lunch, then keep working on "school."

Happy Tuesday, friends!


Not so long ago, I came across this really cool project on DadCanDo for Dragon Glare Reducing Goggles.

My boys have no need for Dragon Glare Reducing Goggles (most of the time), but I thought that the craft would be equally authentic as Snow Glare Reducing Goggles to go with our unit about Mountain Climbing and Sir Edmund Hillary.

I got some pop bottles from Amanda (she didn't even charge me the deposit! What a friend!), gathered the rest of the supplies from my copious stash and overflowing recycle bin, and came up with my own version. (I'm usually too cheap to pay for a pattern I can re-invent on my own. However, for those of you less craftily-inclined, I am not going to steal any further revenue from Mr. Chris Bernardo. He is doing some great work over on that DadCanDo site, and I hitherto recommend that if you want to create your own version, head on over there and buy the instructions for yourself.)

Monkey decorating his headband.
Squirt decorating his headband
Decorating the headbands.
The Boys and their Goggles.

Bottle of gold spray paint? $10. The rest of the supplies? Free. Listening to three boys be "astropilots" for as long as Mom will let them before bed?...

...Well, you know the rest.

Great Website for Kids

My friend Aakanksha (who happens to be having a birthday today! Happy Birthday, Ace!) sent me the link to this website a long, long time ago. It's great. No wonder she sent it to me.

Go check it out.


"Indoor plumbing--it's gonna be big!"

Something has been afoot around here for a while. I have been turning ideas around in my little head, working on designs, yearning to start the creative business I pined after not so long ago. In reality, these ideas have been percolating since around December... but this week, I tipped over the edge of "I dunno" towards "Going for it!"

The thing that unbalanced me was a desire to help Jude in his money-earning endeavours, since he is so keen on getting his hamster. My real passion is designing clothing, which I will talk about more later--but I also need to earn a little extra income first to upgrade some of the equipment I have before really getting serious about that project.

So, for now, here is a little hint about what's been brewing around here:

I would love your opinions (constructive criticism) on both the photos and the product.

Look for the grand opening announcement of my new store soon!

Day At The Races

Every year, the AWANA club has a Grand Prix race. The cars are created out of a hunk of wood, some plastic wheels and some ingenuity.

This year, our boys knew what they wanted. Jude sanded and painted his (except for the lightning bolt and the windows), and was quite proud of the stripes. He placed 6th in his class for Originality.

Jabin did his own blue/purple base coat, and I filled in the details.

Noah, the perfectionist, knew he wanted Mario Kart, but would rather have left his car blank than painted it imperfectly himself. So I painted it. He was beyond thrilled with the results. It was worth it.

Of the three, Noah's was also the fastest!

Ready to Race!

My Latest Challenge

As you all know, I am a big Do-It-Yourselfer. However, there is only so much time one has in any given year to do things yourself, or learn how to do things yourself.

This year is the year of gardening. And woodworking.

Okay, I haven't exactly taken a class. And it's not exactly something from a fine furniture store. (More like IKEA, as Jason told his mother.) But I designed and created this very functional, very sturdy bookshelf, inspired by the need to find something big enough and strong enough to hold my scrapbooks and scrapbooking supplies. (Most bookshelves do not have enough space between shelves for a scrapbook to stand vertically.) Jason cut most of the wood for me. Although I have been getting over my fear of saws (something about a vivid memory of the tip of my uncle's finger being cut off while using a table saw while I was only 8 or 9) and would have done it myself if I had to, it was kind of cool to be able to work together on a project for once.

Look how much it holds! (on left)

This shelf cost a total of $36--only four dollars more than the flimsy, pre-cut-but-you-still-assemble-it-yourself modular version on the right. Plus, I just priced out the cost of making another one if I get the lumber from UFA on Jason's employee discount (the last one was supplied by Home Hardware). That will only run me about $15! I am very excited, because I have a lot more things laying around in boxes for a lack of anywhere to put them. Now I'm wondering if I could create a market for these babies...

You know. 'Cause I have hardly anything else to do with my time.