Tag Archives: birthdays

Shannon Birthday Extravaganza

The Shannons came to visit for a Birthday Extravaganza. Four of the seven Shannons have a birthday in January and February.

All five cousins got to play hookie from school on Friday and then spent the day at the Science Museum of Minnesota. It was a fun and exhausting day. We spent 5 hours working our way through the exhibits and then finished the day by watching the Humpback Whale Omni Theatre movie.

Saturday was all about birthdays. We spent the day hanging out. Elise sweet talked Jon into dancing with her to the Okee Dokee Brothers. If you have Netflix, check out the Okee Dokee brother’s movies Can you Canoe and Through the Woods. We are big fans of the Okee Dokee Brothers so when Netflix released the videos for Watch Instantly we were pumped.

Elise couldn’t have been happier than she was while she was spinning, twirling and dancing with Jon!

Of course there was cake.

And there was hours and hours of playing house, Legos, video games and art. It was a fun weekend.  Don’t believe me? Just ask these two monkeys.

DIY Doll Tent

Let me preface this post with this; going into most DIY projects I think “This shouldn’t be too hard” and then it ends up being a beast that I can not conquer and it sits 90% finished in our office/craft room closet for years. With this DIY Doll House Tent I went into the project not expecting great results but promising myself that I would finish it because it was July 26th and Elise’s birthday was July 28th and I refused to pay $85 on an American Girl Doll Tent that had previously been listed at $35. I was surprised how quickly it all went together.


So yes, this one time I would say that this DIY project is easier to make than it looks. So go for it!

Supplies needed:

  • Fabric for base. 20″x20″(I used duck cloth. It is cheap and sturdy and cleanable)
  • fabric for tent pole loops: I used the same as the base so I just bought extra of the base fabric. 1 yard is enough for the base and the loops.
  • Tent fabric: 2.5 yards There will be extra but you will need this much if you have a patterned fabric and want the pattern to go all the same direction. I had a solid fabric so I used a little less yardage. I also used duck cloth for the tent walls for the same reasons as above.
  • contrasting fabric for window curtains: 1/4 yard
  • ribbon: I spool of gross grain ribbon was enough
  • tent poles: 3/8 pex tubing found in plumbing department
  • tulle for window screens: 1/4 yard of sturdiest tulle you can find
  • tacky glue
  • sport/coat zipper 14 inch
  • thread
  • sewing machine


First I cut the base. I wanted it big enough for two dolls and for any future AG dolls. Right now Elise has a set of the BItty Twins which are 15 inches tall but the bigger dolls are 18 inches tall so the base of the tent is cut to a 20 inch square. That gave me a 1/2 inch all the way around for seam allowance and room for error. I figured a 20 inch tent would be big enough for the taller dolls and their sleeping bags.

I designed this tent so that there were two windows on opposite sides, the door had a 14 inch zipper and the wall opposite of the door was solid. I felt like one wall needed to be solid in order to keep the tent more sturdy.

It wasn’t until the entire tent was sewn together that Tim pointed out that the zipper was in upside down. Because of that I will skip any photo pics of how I put it together because I did it wrong, you don’t want to mimic me doing it wrong!

Back to the tutorial. Your tent poles need to go somewhere and even though it would have been easiest to just sew a long hem along the inside of the tent to snake the poles through (think curtain rod but on inside of tent) I opted for tent pole tabs so it looked more like a real pop up tent and to give the tent poles a little more room to flex.

And this is where my photo taking stopped. I know. I suck. I was running out of time and everything was going easier than planned and I just got excited and forgot to take photos of every step. I will do my best to describe what I did to finish off the tent with a few photos I have.

I made 4 more tabs but this time I sewed them so they would be the “pocket” that the end of the tent poles would sit in.

Next is sewing the four walls together. Pin your pole tabs evenly spaced along the edges of the tent walls. Pin you bottom pole pocket in place. Sew together. This will be used as the top tie support. Do this for every wall taking care to piece the walls together in the correct order so you don’t have two windows walls bordering each other. Ripping seams out is my least favorite thing. It completely derails all momentum and makes me want to quit and abandon my projects.



Note: on one of the seams you need to pin a piece of ribbon folded in half to the peak of the tent. This will be used as the top tie support. (finished tie on top)

IMG_20140806_111628 (1)

When all four walls are sewn together you can then sew the base to the walls.

Start about 6 to 7 inches from the zipper and work your way around all three walls and then finish by only sewing 3 to 4 inches on the other side of the zipper. You need room for the zipper door flaps to open but you also need to secure the wall in place.

*note: If i were to do this again I would have hemmed the front of the base piece of the tent so there wasn’t a raw edge at the zipper opening. I will have to sneak the tent away from Elise now and do something to stop the fraying.


As recommended by another DIY doll tent maker I bought this for the poles.

I did not have good luck. It stood but didn’t hold it shape well at all. It barely stood up to the cat so I knew it wouldn’t hold up to our 4-year-old camping with her dolls.

I went back to Menards, this time with Tim and we picked up two 5′ Pex tubing. We used the 3/8 inch and it works great!

Feed the tent poles through the tabs and trim to the correct length.

I wrapped my tent poles in a fun duct tape to cover up the terracotta color. It took 2 roles of that duct tape to wrap the poles.

Tim feeding the new taped up poles through the pole tabs.

Tie the top ribbon in place and you have a tent!

With any luck, you’ll have a tent and a very happy kiddo. The boys love the tent just as much as Elise!

Sleeping bag tutorial coming soon.

More photos of the process here. 


Staycation Continues

July is crazy for us. This year we spent an extra long weekend in Minot for the 4th of July. Michael’s Birthday is the 10th. Lucy’s birthday (yes it matters and yes I celebrate by giving her extra love in the form of dog treats and a long walk) is the 20th. My birthday is the 27th. Elise’s birthday is the 28th. And then to round out the month Tim and my anniversary is the 30th.

On the flip side of July, my parents’ anniversary is August 1st and Tim’s parents’ anniversary is August 3rd.  So yeah… there has been a lot happening but not a lot of blogging. I am going to start making up for that now.

We are half way through Tim’s 2 week vacation and it has flown by. I have only checked off one thing on my Vacation To Do list and that list is long. I haven’t been very productive but we have been having a lot of fun. A fun vacation without having to pack or stay in an unfamiliar bed is the best.


The last time I blogged I was 29 years old. Uffda. So far all I can report is that no one has looked at my finger searching for a wedding ring when I am out with the kids by myself. This happened a lot after Michael was born (I was just shy of 23 when he was born) and it happened every once and in while after PJ was born. That doesn’t happen anymore. I guess I no longer look “too young” to be having kids call me mom. I will counter that with I am still looking young enough to be carded when I order a Bloody Mary (which made me beam with joy when it happened on my birthday dinner out) so I think 30 might a magical age. It’s the little things people. I don’t have any gray hair (yet) but ask me again after this season of soccer and I may have a different story to tell.

30 isn’t bad. In fact it seems to fit better than 28 or 29 did. Maybe I am an old soul but more likely having three kids just accelerated the ageing process. What ever it is, 30 seems about right.

I celebrated my 30th with my favorite 4 people in the world at the coldest picnic I have ever been to. I cannot a remember a birthday that swimming outside wasn’t an option. This year swimming would have been crazy because it was a chilly 56 degrees. Tim had a picnic and outing to Minnehaha Falls planned. I have been wanting to visit there since we moved and I was so pumped as we drove the 25 minutes to visit the waterfall in the heart of the Twin Cities.

The kids were so cold they couldn’t even finish their sandwiches. Needless to say there was no hiking by our brood that day.


My cold and pathetic looking butterfly.


We spent less time at the park than it took to get there but it was all okay because on the way home we stopped at Target to get ice cream. I got to do something special at Target that day because it was my birthday. I got to say yes. I say no to the kids all the time but on my birthday when we walked by the toy isle I said yes. They each picked out a small toy and I savored spoiling them. When else can you spoil those you love guilt free?

Tim had ordered a cake from a famous local bakery, Dorthy Ann Bakery, and it was so good.


I love Michael’s intense face on this photo. It is like he can’t wait to see what happens when I blow out the candles…

Did I mention the cake was good?


Beth came by later that afternoon and watched the kids so Tim and I could go out to dinner and a movie. I ate fish tacos at the Tavern Grill and then we watched The Heat at the movie theatre while eating popcorn. My favorite thing about Birthdays is that calories don’t count!  If you haven’t seen The Heat yet – go. It is hilarious. Tim and I still laugh when we talk about it a week later. Hands down the funniest movie I have seen in years.

Thirty is good. I think I am going to like this next chapter.

(all photos taken on my birthday were with my new camera)

The time we went to Noah’s Ark and back in a day

Noah’s Ark Water Park is America’s largest water park and it is (according to Google) 3 hours and 11 minutes from our house.

Yesterday we drove down and back. We spent almost equal amount of time in the car as we did in the water park but let me tell you…. it was so worth it. We had planned on staying in a hotel that night in the Dells but at 4pm the kids were exhausted – they wouldn’t admit it but they were burnt out. We pushed through another hour but in the end 7 hours in a water park is the limit for our family right now. Tim and I debated, and in the end we both decided that making the drive home and sleeping in our own beds would be much more restful than checking into a hotel room, leaving the hotel room to find ample sustenance for all of our weary, starving, dehydrated bodies, and then get the kids to sleep and then have to sit silently in a dark room until we fell asleep too. Yeah. The drive home was the right choice. Plus it thunderstormed last night and Lucy would have been scared into a traumatized state if she would have been left home alone to weather a storm (we paid neighbor boy to come let her out a few times and give her some love while we were gone.)

Water parks are not slr camera friendly. First of all those kinds of cameras are expensive and not something you want to risk being stolen. And second well, it is a water park; water and cameras don’t mix well. At least most cameras….

It is my birthday is 6 days from now. When we were in Minot my very generous and thoughtful Grandpa (I have wrote about him here and here and here) gave me an early birthday card with the message written on the envelope, “don’t open before July 27th unless you need to“. Well curiosity got the best of me (and I must say I lasted two weeks so that is pretty darn good!) and I opened the card on Friday morning when I should have been packing for the water park. In the card was a check with note that said, “spend it on yourself.” Do I have the best Grandpa or what?! Well I knew right away what I was going to buy.

I have been researching water proof cameras because so much of our time is spent in water and I want to be able to capture that time with out risking my Canon. I also wanted a camera that was small and could take a beating. In the end I chose this Olympus Tough. There are nicer Olympus Toughs on the market but in the end the TG-630 did what I wanted it to do, the price was right (Happy Birthday to me and Thank you Grandpa!) Target had one in stock that I could buy that afternoon.

I am telling you all of this because LOOK what I can do now!


and look at her ruffled bum 🙂

The photos are so fun and we took so many that Tim and I spent this afternoon’s quiet play time making a little somethin’ somethin’. Music is Glowing by Ben Drake which I found on Jamendo (we have talked about that site here). I edited the photos and Tim cut together this super cute video.

Happy Early Birthday to me. Thank you Grandpa for the card with the reminder that it is okay to splurge on myself once in a while and for the money to put towards my indulgent splurge. This photo I was able to take of Elise and I WHILE riding the this water slide is a great reminder that my pending 30th Birthday is not such a bad thing after all but rather something to celebrate!


more photos here and probably a post or two about the day coming this week.