Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I feel like I've been neglecting this blog a little bit over the last few weeks!  We've been so busy around our house & with work (Eli's been gone coaching basketball camps since Grady's birthday).  I feel like I haven't had time to breathe!

What we have done is chip away at our summer bucket list!

In April, we went to a Twins game for my dad's birthday...

Grady took swimming lessons in May to get ready for a summer on the lake...

In June & July, Grady's playing tball at the Y.  He loves it.

Then, last weekend we went to the Shrine Circus in town.  We rode a cute elephant & almost saw a performer plunge to his death.  Grady covered my eyes for me so I wouldn't see...he's sweet like that!

A few weeks ago, we went up north to the cabin & Grady & Eli got some fishing in even though the weather was cold, rainy, & super windy...

If the weather cooperates, we're hoping to take Grady to Valleyfair for the first time next week!  I know he'll love it since he's such an adventurous kid.  :)

Some other things we've checked off the list, but don't have photographic proof of:
Feed the Ducks
Sidewalk Chalk
Water Fight
Ice Cream Cones
Ride Bikes
Kayak Ride

And the adventures we have yet to go on:
Zoo (Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha in August?)
Valleyfair (Next week?)
Michigan (Last week in July)
Play in the Rain
Fireworks (4th)
Camping (August?)
Sparklers (4th)
Drive in Movie
Bible School (First week in August)
Waterpark (Valleyfair/Michigan?)
Boat Ride
Mini Golf
County Fair (August)
Obstacle Course
S'mores (Camping/Bonfire?)
Forest Hike (Camping?)

Happy Summer to All!  Hope all of you MN people are enjoying the weather this week.  'Bout time, right?!  :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to: High Flying Horizontal Tire Swing

I've been getting a ton of questions about how we made Grady's tire swing so I thought I'd put together a quick tutorial for those who are curious & want to try something like this in their own backyard!  It's really an easy project.

Supply list:
1 long length of chain or rope (enough to wrap around your tree branch, connect, & still hang approx. 7 feet off the ground)
3 4'-6' lengths of chain (we used one with a 500lb weight limit - better safe than sorry)
3' length of hose
5 quick links
3 eye bolts
6 lock nuts
6 large washers
14"-16" tire (we got ours free from a local tire shop)

First, clean up your tire & make sure there's nothing on the surface that could snag clothing or scratch.  Then drill 3 holes in the top of the tire for the hardware to go through.  Flip the tire over & drill several holes on the bottom for drainage.  You don't want water to sit inside the tire & splash the rider or breed mosquitos - ew.

Take each 4'-6' length of chain & use the quick links to hook them to your eye bolts.  Thread a nut onto your eye bolts & slide one of the large washers on behind it.  Feed the eye bolts through the holes in the top of your tire.

Inside the tire, slide on another large washer & lock nut onto the bolt & screw 'em on tight.

Take your long chain & feed one end through the hose.  (Tip: Ours was a pretty snug fit, so we sprayed some Pam on the chain & it slid right through!)  Hook the end of the chain to the rest of the long chain with another quick link.  Almost there!

Take your last quick link & hook the hanging end of your long chain to the three shorter chains that are connected to your swing.  Everything I read said that 4'-6' length works best.  Make sure all of the quick links are super tight - you don't want your swing detaching mid-air & tossing your kid (or you).  Believe me, after having that happen to me & landing on my neck not once, but twice in my youth (with a rope tire swing), I'm super paranoid about it!  I still have neck problems & totally blame it on the falls from the swings!

I'm a sucker for any type of swing, but this big guy is probably my favorite ever.  It goes SO high & swings FOREVER.  One push & it'll go for 10 minutes.  (Easy babysitter for when you're busy weeding gardens or spray-painting your next project!)

(You can't really tell in the pictures, but the swing hangs around 10' out from the tree trunk.  If you pushed the swing hard enough in a circle you could possibly hit the tree, but it would take a lot.  Use caution & be sure you hang your swing far enough away from obstacles so no one will get hurt!)

Let me know if any of you have attempted, or plan on putting a tire swing up in your yard...or had one when you were a kiddo.  I feel like it's something that Grady will remember forever...

Monday, June 10, 2013's the Pirate Party rundown...

Grady's party was fun...super fun.  He had a blast, & we couldn't have got a more beautiful day.  Especially considering that the days leading up to & following his birthday were crap.  I'm so over rain & cold.  So over it.

Now for some pictures of my little love's Pirate Party!!!

I made the tassels above by tearing strips of red, blue, & black linen & knotting them around the rope.  Grady helped me paint the Jolly Roger flag & the skulls on the bunting.  For the bunting skulls I cut a regular Scotch green dish sponge into a stamp.  I was just kind of making things up as I went & had to be creative with the supplies I had at home!

My parents cut out the skulls on the cake toppers with their jigsaw.  I sprayed them white, drilled holes in the sides, & stuck them on some kebab skewers.  Then I sewed that little bunting & glued it to a couple more skewers.  (For those who are wondering, I found the B&W candles at Walmart!)

We had the blue glasses on hand from my college days, & wrapped a little twine around them to make them more "piratey".  The skull balloon was ordered from Oriental Trading.  I had it filled with helium at our Dollar Store & it didn't float at all.  Disappointing, but what do you do?  Not sure if it was them or the balloon that was faulty!

My BFF Angie brought her hubby (Captain Morgan up there) & her three beautiful kids over to help us celebrate.  Angie & I played volleyball together in college & her husband played basketball with Eli.  They're the best!  Julia & Grady might get married someday...  ;)

One of our gifts to Grady was a super rad tire swing.  My dad was the lucky one who got to hang it from our giant oak.  Sidenote: It was not my idea to make Eli's grandparents hold the ladder...I was in there with my mom & Marlene practically pushed me out of there to go take some pictures.  I kid you not.  They're super cool great-grandparents!  (Maybe the best ever.)

Grady & Greyson on the dune buggy...& Grady holding Angie's youngest, Jude.  They were all smiles, all day.  Easy-going boys!

That last picture above & to the right kills me.  It's so him.  Sweet, always happy, a little shy, & oh so adorable.  I love him.

I drew a treasure map on Grady's shirt with black & blue Sharpie & embellished it with some red thread in a few places.  It was inspired by a J.Crew/Crewcuts shirt I saw a long time ago.  Unfortunately they don't sell it anymore.  FYI, even though I "heat set" the Sharpie by ironing it, it did bleed some after I washed it.  I'd suggest using permanent fabric markers if you want to be sure it'll last through the wash.  The blue marker was the one that bled the most for whatever reason.

Happy Birthday little man!

We pretty much think you’re the best thing ever.  You’re the most thoughtful, bright, imaginative, & fun little boy we’ve ever been around.  You brighten every room you enter with your beautiful smile, cute little voice, & curly head of hair.  You make us laugh, you make us want to pull our hair out sometimes, & you make us remember to make time for fun.  I remember telling dad when you were a baby that I wanted you to be creative - I think that wish came true!  Your imagination is insane!

You’re smart.
You’re sweet.
You’re beautiful inside & out.
You’re energetic.
You’re perceptive.
You’re helpful.
you’re thoughtful.
You’re hilarious.
You’re confident.
You’re loving.
You’re you.
And you’re ours.

Mom & Dad
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