Friday, November 4, 2011

CMOM Productions: Tshirt Pillow

 CMOM Productions:  T-Shirt Pillow

My youngest son's love of The Beatles has already been documented.  While searching for that elusive kid sized tshirt, I came upon some great clearance shirts at Target (previously in the music section).  The only problem was that the t's were only in adult sizes.  I snagged the only men's medium left and knew I'd find something to do with it.

As you can clearly see by the photo, I turned the men's shirt into a pillow case!  It was a simple straight stitch sewing project.

Simple How To:
Turn your t-shirt inside out.

Pin under the band/collar of the shirt opening and continue along in a straight line to mark where you need to stitch.

Close off the arms of the t-shirt by pinning in a straight line up to the point of your previous pins.  You should be able to continue your pins to the seams of the shirt (less sewing).

Straight stitch where you have pinned your shirt.

Measure the bottom of your shirt, double the number and add approximately 1 inch.  Cut a strip of fabric that length.  *The width of this fabric depends on your pillow size and preference.

Roll the edges of your fabric for a clean edge and then stitch it.

Stitch the ends of the fabric together.

Pin the fabric to the bottom of your shirt (remember you want a clean edge on the design side of your t-shirt pillowcase).

Stitch it the pieces together.  Trim any hanging threads & be sure to remove all pins.

*Options:  Add ribbon or rick-rack.

Turn your new pillowcase right side out and place your pillow inside.

My son loves the he can lay down and look at his Beatles design!  If you prefer your design to face a different way, cut it, turn the piece, and add more fabric around the design.

Perfect for a Hard Day's Night!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Help! I Need The Beatles!

My son M is a huge fan of The Beatles.  We have been searching for a child sized Beatles shirt without luck.   Now that it's back to school time, he just has to have one.  He'd love an Abbey Road shirt, due to his love of all things "Herbie" (aka VW Beetles), but we've only seen that in a girly style.  We missed out on a (sold out) boys shirt available at The Children's Place.  After continuous failed search attempts at finding a reasonably priced t-shirt for M, I came up with an idea!

A Bleaching Technique 

Project Needs:
Plain cotton blend t-shirt (wash it first)
Vinyl cut letters (use a die cut machine or buy pre-cut)
Rag, Sponge, or Paper towels
*Alternate Method Needs:  Spray bottle
*Alternate Idea:  Use your vinyl cut image/letters as a stencil outline instead.

 A Beatles themed school supplies tag (see below) assisted in my creation.

Step 1:  Place vinyl letters (or image) on a clean plain t-shirt.  Place something inside the t-shirt to keep the bleach from altering both sides of the shirt.  I used a piece of cardboard inside a plastic bag.

Vinyl letters in place with school tag for reference.

Step 2:  Dip your rag in bleach and dab over your letters/image. *Or spray with bleach.  You will begin to see the reaction from the bleaching technique.  Once you are happy with the changes, rinse your shirt in water to stop the reaction.

Step 3:  Peel away your letters.  Wash & dry your shirt.

Reaction Complete (colors not exact)
Step 4:  Touch ups can be made with a fabric or sharpie maker if you desire.

With Touch Ups (colors not exact)

Step 5:  Gift or wear your new creation with a smile!

One happy fan of The Beatles!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Smack Dab in the Labyrinth

Smack dab in the middle of my brain lies the doorway to my own serenity and organization.  I'm lost in the labyrinth today.  Hopefully I shall soon reach and unlock the door.  If I haven't misplaced the key that is.

I'm unsettled.  My boys feel it too.  Summer is flapping in the wind and ready to leave us behind as school barrels towards us.  If stores would work with us and avoid putting out the school supplies until August actually arrives, maybe we'd feel better about it all.  Seasons are too often rushed.

We have bubbles to blow, sidewalks to decorate with chalk, water fights to have, and so much more to do!  Do not fade so quickly dear friend known as Summer.  Sit, have a glass of lemonade, stay a little while longer.

Sporadic posting may take place as I navigate my way through the labyrinth and enjoy the rest of SUMMER with my family.  There is fun to be had!  May your dwindling summer days be full of it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

43 Days

Why do we expect to obtain an instant mellowed out state of mind with the summer season?  Our lazy summer days became busier than expected and are fading far too quickly.  My "to be accomplished" list tends to have more on it than I'll ever have time to accomplish.  Similar to "my eyes are bigger than my stomach" when it comes to delicious foods.  Everything seems to be bubbling out of my brain and swimming around in my head.  Summer break is not as relaxing as planned.  

The school free time with my boys was intended to be full of fun.  Except at times they decide not to cooperate.  I love my boys dearly and do enjoy extra time with them.  Yet, we deal with more sibling squabbles when school is not in session.  Any parent knows that won't bring you extra peace.

I'm focusing on the times when my boys do cooperate.  We've made some great memories so far and have more yet to come.  Some of the greatest accomplishments this summer involve encouraging my boys to continue reading, writing, and even doing some math.  I may constantly remind them to make their beds or pick up their toys, but I rarely have to fight to get them to pick up a book.

There is plenty left to be done before summer ends.  Time will continue to tick by.  My boys won't be princes of perfection.  Yet, I wouldn't trade these not-so-lazy summer days for anything.  Time with them is precious and before I know it, they'll be grown.

My days become my own in September.  I'll have more time to work on that to do list and I'll miss my boys immensely during the school hours.  Including today we have 43 days left of school break.  Forty-three days is enough time to create some unforgettable summer memories and I intend to do just that.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mother Son Book Reviews: Double Dose of James Patterson

Outstanding O's Book Reviews

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life
by James Patterson & Christ Tebbetts
Illustrated by Laura Park

Rafe Khatchadorian is a normal kid in middle school with a fantastic story to tell.  In the book "Middle School," Rafe deals with Miller the Killer and problems with teachers.  He creates a game called Operation R.A.F.E. that is about breaking the rules.  My favorite part of the story is when he made a joke in his notebook about Miller the Killer Chicken.  The book is a chapter book with pictures that show a lot of expression.  I loved "Middle School" and would read it over and over again.  Rafe's story made me laugh so hard.  I recommend "Middle School" to every kid that loves James Patterson's books and Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Tag your it!  
Mom's review of the latest James Patterson novel for adults is next...

A CMOMProductions Book Review 
Now You See Her 
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

If I could only use one word to describe this book, it would be INTENSE!  I did have some difficulty throughout this story.  Putting it down!  So as not to ruin the storyline, I'll be staying away from too many details.

Nina, the main character, has secrets that she can't share with anyone.  Not even her teenage daughter.  When the story begins, we briefly see today's Nina, a successful lawyer and mom, before diving into her past.  

A heart break during a college spring break ultimately leads Jeanine to marry a handsome police officer.  While sharing a relaxed Key West lifestyle, disaster strikes, a secret is revealed, and she must leave to save herself and her unborn child.  In doing so, Jeanine also changes her identity to become Nina Bloom.

Flash forward to present day Nina.  When presented with a pro-bono case through her law firm, she discovers an innocent man has been framed for murder.  To help him, she has to travel back to Key West,  risking the life she has built for herself and daughter.  

My mind was racing during this book.  As a mystery lover since childhood, it is not often easy to surprise me, but James Patterson pulled it off.  I did not see everything coming!  If you like suspense, mystery, and unsuspected twists, you will not be disappointed!  This story is fast paced and could easily translate into a great movie.  Don't miss out on Now You See Her.

I'm a fan of James Patterson and now my oldest son is too!  Other books I've read by Mr. Patterson are the 10 books in the Women's Murder Club series and Private.  He has many more books that I have yet to discover (of course they are on my to read list).  As a parent who believes in raising readers, I'm impressed by his Read Kiddo Read website (also on Facebook).  If you have kids, I encourage you to check it out!  Evidently Mr. Patterson is more than just a great author too.  He is cool enough to be a recurring guest on ABC's Castle.  How can I get in on those poker games? 

It was O's idea to do a double Mother/Son book review for my blog!  This was a fun experience to share, even if we were reading different books.  A"one for you, one for your child" double book release was a smart move by James Patterson, or his people.  O and I will watch for more opportunities like this one.  Don't be surprised to see my fellow eager reader (or maybe both of my boys) giving more reviews in the future.  We may even read the same kid friendly book and tell you what we think from a parent's & child's perspective.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where Did Monday Go?

Taylor Swift Photo by C.  * October 2009 * Sweet Surprise
I admit it!  I forgot about Monday.  It didn't exist to me.  Today is already Thursday.  It's just been one of those weeks.   You know the kind, the "Wait! How did I get from Sunday to Thursday?" type.  My mother-in-law was visiting from out of state for a couple of days, so if that's not a good excuse I don't know what is.  I do have plans for a stampin' out the work week post tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Did I mention that my husband and father-in-law made our youngest son's whole year?  My husband snagged tickets to a local Taylor Swift concert this Summer!  While it had been previously known as a SOLD OUT show, a few tickets were recently released.  My youngest son had been devastated when we missed out on the pre-sales and official first round of tickets offered.  He was heartbroken that he wouldn't be able to see his absolute favorite singer/performer this Summer, so we kept this new ticket potential on the down low.  It's true that SuperDad snagged the tickets, but it is this year's wonderful birthday gift to all 4 of us from my father-in-law.  In M's book he is absolutely the BEST GRAMPA EVER!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pinky And The Brain 2011

 Wow!  It's been two weeks of non-stop go, go, go!  Not only did we finish out our school year and celebrate a birthday, but we tackled pink eye (back to back with both boys) and a head injury.  While M was hit with 2 pink eyes, O had an issue at school that resulted in a head injury.  These circumstances caused us to dub them "Pinky" and "The Brain."  During a recent trip to our local library, the boys found the nicknames even more entertaining after spotting a dvd collection of the tv cartoon.  Sadly, our "Brain" developed pink eye within a week of his younger brother and we couldn't determine if he was still considered The Brain or another Pinky.

We have found a little humor in the frustrating and scary moments of our past couple of weeks, but the initial impact we felt from the head injury was not in the least bit funny.  In fact, it was terrifying and upsetting.  When the truth of the matter came to light, we discovered it was not merely an accident.  Our son was purposely hurt by another classmate.  It's hard to believe that a child under the age of 10 would go out of their way to attack a peer (unprovoked).  Yet, it happens.

Believe it or not, my sons aren't averaged sized kids for their age.  With a pixie sized mom and a dad of average height, they don't exactly fall into the big & tall category.  This fact alone makes it easier to become a bully target.  My oldest son has had a tough time when he is sometimes teased for being vertically challenged.  I have had 32 years to own my shortness, but it's a whole different ballgame in elementary school... and even more so for a boy.  Last year he had a fabulous principal, Mr. F., who helped him through some of the inevitable taunting.  I'm grateful for the difference he made to my son.  As rough as his small size can be, it wasn't even a factor in the recent incident.

Being everyone's buddy is important to my kind hearted eldest son.  He generally treats everyone the way he would want to be treated.  With exceptions being made at times for his younger brother.  O enjoys playing sports, even if he's not a star athlete, with his friends.  His determination often amazes me.  When all of his buddies were playing football at school, he wanted to be a part of it.  SuperDad tossed the Nerf ball around with him, as he insisted on improving.  Eventually, he was catching some pretty good throws.  Imagine his excitement when he managed to snag a ball in front of his friends.  That's exactly what happened on the day of his not-so-accident take down.

The "friend" who had tossed the football came up to my son, full of excitement from the catch, and let him know that he hadn't intended for the ball to be caught by O.  He insisted that the ball was meant for another child.  Knowing my son well, I'm certain this hurt him immensely.  Yet he didn't have to time react to the words before his legs were grabbed and he was flipped over, landing on his forehead.  With no adults in viewing range, he tried his best to get up and shake off his embarrassment.  Little did he realize that he'd be dealing with the physical effects approximately 45 minutes later.  His teacher was informed that he had been hurt, but didn't know the entire circumstances at the time.  O wasn't looking to get anyone into trouble.

The Brain
When I picked my son up from school, I noticed he was acting a little unusual.  As we walked out the doors, I asked if something had happened that day.  That's when he grabbed his forehead, in tears, and told me he "got flipped" at recess.  After our 5 minute drive home, he proceeded to run to the bathroom and throw up.  A phone call was placed to our family doctor and I waited and watched my son until his dad came home a short time later.  Before long, it was clear that we would be heading to the emergency room.  The vomiting continued and my normally talkative and energetic son was struggling to stay awake and not responding in conversations that would normally have him full of excitement.  My husband took on his former racing persona as we headed to the hospital.  Our fears were well hidden as we continued to do everything possible to keep our O man awake.  During this time, I posted to Facebook from my phone and placed some calm phone calls to grandparents.  We were not without prayers during this time and for that we are truly grateful.  THANK YOU to all who were praying for us, especially O.

As our silent prayers continued, we went through the ER routine of checking in and waiting our turn to be seen.  A CT scan was ordered and completed, and O was monitored for some time.  His vomiting stopped (thankfully) sometime during the hospital visit.  With the diagnosis of a mild concussion, we were cleared to head home.  We left with instructions to return if the vomiting came back or other signs presented themselves.  I took on the job of monitoring O through the sleepless night, by waking him every 2 hours and being certain he responded.  The following day consisted of more watchfulness before allowing him to return to school the day after that.  During this time is when I discovered the full story of what I assumed was a "got too rough" recess football injury.

I spoke with my son's teacher after finding out the rest of the story.  She made sure that the incident was handled at school.  No matter where you go, you'll always find bullies.  Having people around that care enough to work toward dealing with and preventing future incidents is important. 

The Brain's new gear for school.  
Realizing that not everyone is going to be a true friend is a difficult lesson.  When you are kind to others, you don't always stop to think that someone else might not have the same intentions.  While my son learned a valuable lesson, it hasn't stop him from being a friend.  As a mom, I want him to be more guarded, but also wish he didn't have to be.

How do you help your child through situations such as bullying?  Have you found any ways to help your child avoid bullies?  Has your child ever been bullied or been a bully?  What do you feel we can do, as adults, to make a difference?

**FRIDAY:  Watch for a "Stampin' Out The Work Week" post all about teacher gifts!**

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Weeks Later...

Without notice, I took a 2 week blog break.  My loyal blog followers (that would be y'all reading these wordsare considered friends or family.  Nobody shouted "HEY! Where did you go?"  The world didn't end, although some felt it was destined to happen this past weekend.  Life went on.

Over this short break, I focused on my family and kept active with various happenings in our lives.  Thinking about the time spent away from blog land, the words "when I last left you..." and "two weeks later..." popped into my head.  It made me smile and chuckle to myself, as I conjured up comic book style visions.  

A single moment can change a life forever, so 2 weeks can surely bring on changes.  What changed for me during the past 2 weeks?  Let me put it this way...

Two weeks later...

Mother's Day 2011
Mother's Day arrived on May 8th, and on May 10th I became another year older.  My wonderful husband (and boys) picked out a priceless gift... floating paper lanterns!  If you haven't watched the movie Tangled, you'll need to see it to fully understand why this is such a beautiful & thoughtful gift.  Rain was expected, so my husband presented me with the lanterns and I get to choose the date and location to set them off.  I've been caught singing "I See The Light" with a smile on my face since we saw the movie, but the smile is a little bigger now.

My absolute favorite show, Smallville, went out with a super series finale.  I'll admit it, I'm a complete sappy nerd.  I cried.  As a fan from the very beginning (10 years ago), it was bittersweet to watch, but it was brilliantly done.  The creators, cast, and all those involved with Smallville have my admiration.  I hope the cast & crew find success in whatever they take on next.  Thank goodness I can watch them together on dvd, because I'll miss seeing their on screen talent & chemistry all in the same place.  I'd list my favorite actors/actresses from the show, but it would end up being a cast list.  They all brought their individual WOW factor to each character.  Did I mention I'm going to miss this show?

During my hiatus I once again realized that we are in warp speed.  At times I feel so rushed and it's difficult to give 100% to everything.  My hopes & dreams tend to sit on the back burner more often than I care to admit.  Ultimately though, being the best mom I can be right now means so much more.  Taking the time to just be near my husband, even if I'm reading and he's working on a project, is more important than accomplishing something the world finds amazing.  At the same time, remembering that I set goals for a reason and doing what I love is a part of who I am.  The pressure of perfection cannot overtake simple joys.

Nothing life changing occurred, but I enjoyed the chance to just breathe with one less "to do" item on my list.  

Do you love it when you get a glimpse at beloved characters "two weeks later," or years later, when a movie, tv show, or story ends?  Do you put your own spin on things and use your imagination when no "what happens next" turns up?  If a sequel comes out later, do you most often feel disappointed or excited by the portrayals?  

Check Out Sara Bareilles song, "Breathe Again," that was used in the Smallville finale!  
One of my favorites... the song and the artist!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts For Today

Today I remember those we have lost in this war... and why it all began.  I'm very proud of our military.  My heart & prayers are with them and their families.  Thank you for your many sacrifices.  Today we feel some justice has been served for those lost in the 9/11 attacks and since that horrible day.   Even with the heartbreak of losing a friend in this war, I'm not celebrating.  Am I glad this terrorist is no longer hurting innocent people?  Yes, I am relieved.  Yet I think about one thing.  When we lost our loved ones, they cheered & celebrated.  It makes me sick to think of them celebrating our loved ones deaths.

No matter how innocent or evil, is it okay to celebrate a death?

I'll leave you with a powerful quote that has been floating around Facebook this evening...
‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
-- Full Quote from Unknown Source, portions taken from MLK's "Where Do We Go From Here" speech.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Quote-able Monday

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Heart of CMOM Productions

What is CMOM Productions?  Since this blog began, I've been learning the ropes and finding my niche.  My blogging description has always been:

CMOM Productions is all about my thoughts, experiences, and other randomness in my life that are currently in production. From my struggles and triumphs as a wife and mom of 2 boys, to my own personal goals and dreams, and everything frontwards, backwards, sideways, and in between! Welcome to my blog, my name is Melinda Marie.  

While it's not set in stone, Mondays are geared towards writing about experiences in this life.  Do I write for a fan base?  Ummm, no.  Many of my readers are considered friends (such as fellow bloggers)  and family, not fans.  On Monday, CMOM Productions is more of an outlet for my reflective focus.

When Friday rolls around I showcase another side to my personality.  My crafty sense is revealed via Stampin' Out The Work Week.  I'm a Stampin' Up Demonstrator, but I'm more than that (actually Stampin' Up is much more than stamps too).  "I'm a Craft-a-holic" should be stamped on my sleeve.  Don't be surprised if you find out that glitter and acid free adhesive flow through my veins.

CMOM Productions is more than just a blog name to me.  It's my family.  In fact, our initials (in age order) are C M O M.  From our crafting, to our crazy adventures, to our everyday life, our productions are what makes this blog.  My family is the heart of CMOM Productions.

It is with great joy that I share our latest moments...  
On Sunday, August, 17, 2011, my two boys asked Jesus into their hearts!

When another explanation of communion was requested after church, I didn't expect that my boys would understand it all at that moment.  After communicating our remembrance and reflection of Jesus' suffering and acceptance of it and God's gift to us, some of the most precious words were spoken.  My youngest, with the joy shown only by a child, piped up with the words "I want Jesus in my heart forever!"  My oldest son responded with the same, while his eyes showed that he was deeply pondering the sacrifice by Jesus.  His thoughtfulness was not hesitation though, but of understanding.  The reality of what our Savior did for us seemed to sit on his heart.  Knowledge of Easter's miracle quickly followed his statement.  While my boys have heard this story from the time they were babies, the amazement in their expressions is nothing short of heart warming.  After both boys explained their understanding of what being a Christian meant, both said a special prayer.

My heart is filled with such joy and gratefulness.  A mother's prayers for her children are unending.  Yet, God answered two very special prayers of mine that began as soon as I knew I was expecting each child.

"Tonight I'll count my blessings,
I'm thankful for each one.
Then close my eyes and go to sleep,
Until tomorrow comes."
-From "Thank You, God" by Holly Bea

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time Warp

 My birthday is one month away.  While many hit a "certain age" and decide that celebrating a higher number isn't their favorite activity in the world, I still look forward to it.  The getting older part isn't exactly anyone's cup of tea, but I'm lucky enough to regain a fairly youthful appearance.  It's even been suggested that I should be involved in the sting operation of a "to catch a predator" type of show.  Regardless,  the approaching annual milestone left me pondering what I would do if I could go back in time and guide my younger self.

Am I the only one to ponder this travel back in time idea?  Absolutely not.  I'm certain there must be a book or movie about this kind of thing.  Back to the Future does show a few alterations in Marty McFly's life after his adventures, but it's not quite the same.  Brad Paisley's country tune Letter To Me certainly has the right feel for my train of thought.

Can you picture it in your own head?  Time warping back to those youthful years and passing along a letter, watching a familiar teen from a distance, or having a face to face conversation with your you of yesteryear?  Are you reflecting with a smile or a little sadness?  What would you say?  Would you do anything at all?  Would you want to change the person you have become today?  

While there are "things" I would be grateful to change about my younger years, I realize just how those ups, downs, highs, & lows have molded me into... me.  I kind of like who I am today, flaws and all.  I have two amazing children and a husband I wouldn't trade.  Life isn't mean to be perfect and even if you alter the past, it doesn't automatically ensure "perfection."  Different maybe, but perfection?  Nope.

I've learned a great many things in my almost 32 years, but I certainly do not know it all.  Hopefully my growth will continue for a great many more years.  Experiencing life is worth celebrating.  Each and every year is precious.  When I'm a feisty little old lady in my 60's,  I wonder if I will look back, smile, and ponder the same...

Would you go back in time?  Write a letter to your teenage self?  
What would you say?  
Can you think of any great books or movies that follow these theme?

Enjoy Monday with a little Brad Paisley....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Could Be Better. Could Be Worse.

"Could be better. Could be worse, though, too." 
- Noah Calhoun, The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

A quote from one of Nicholas Sparks' most loved characters has been on my mind for months.  I've been doing my best to look on the bright side and see the glass half full through all of the bumps in the road.  Occasionally the glass gets jostled and the clouds cover some of that sunshine, but all in all I put my focus on the positive.  

You see, we've dealt with one sickness after the next in our house for the entire winter season.  Now that Spring has sprung, or so says the calendar even if mother nature isn't in complete agreement yet, we are still battling fevers, sinus issues, and random other unhealthy symptoms.  My physical exhaustion may or may not be noticeable at this time.  I won't lie, it's been rough and it feels never ending.  This is where Noah Calhoun comes in.

Our family good health rating could most definitely be better.  How very true that is.  However, it could be much worse.  Nobody likes to "let it work it's way out of your system" when sick, but it's generally easier than taking prescriptions and medicines non stop.  We aren't in the hospital.  Thank you Heavenly Father for that.  We aren't facing a life threatening illness.  Immense thank you's to God on this one as well.  Currently we are on Spring Break from school, so my oldest son can rest without worrying that he's missing something important in the classroom this week.   Amen!

I can honestly say that I'd rather be healthy than sick.  Yes.  It could be better.  Could be worse, though, too.   Count your blessings through the good times and bad... positive lesson learned.  We are blessed even when we aren't feeling our best.  Although, that doesn't mean I will give up our continued prayers for good health throughout the rest of the year.  

Put it in perspective, stay positive, & have faith.

Where in your life do you need to put things in perspective, lean towards the positive, & keep the faith?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beautiful Blue Morpho

Today's blog post has been interrupted by a field trip full of butterflies and a well child doctor visit.
Instead of an abundance of words, I give you something beautiful to look at...

What you see at first...
may be just a glimpse at the hidden beauty within!

Don't judge a book by it's cover, and don't judge a Blue Morpho Butterfly by it's outer wings alone.
Open your wings this week and let your Blue Morpho colors show!

Happy Monday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meeting Arthur's Author

This evening we had the opportunity to meet the author of the beloved Arthur series, Marc Brown.  An area library held the event and we couldn't pass it up.  How often do you get a chance to meet a writer of a beloved children's series?  While we were a few minutes late to the program (getting out of school/work and getting where we need to be takes time), we were still able to learn some interesting things about Marc Brown and his characters.  What a neat experience for our family to catch a glimpse at the people who inspired DW, Buster, and the rest of the gang.  By listening to this famous author speak, my boys discovered how the people, places, and activities around you can become part of a great story.

After Mr. Brown finished speaking, he generously offered to autograph books and take photos with everyone at the event.  The line was long, but we've waiting in line for Toy Story Mania, so this was a piece of cake.  Super dad (aka my wonderful husband) bought an Arthur book for each of our boys as we didn't bring any with us.  My kids showed great patience as we waited our turn.  Their reward was a kind comment in regards to their waiting skills from Marc Brown, 2 autographed books, a photo opportunity, and a special memory to last through their years.

Thank you Mr. Brown for taking the time to meet all of the children and their parents & grandparents.  Your kindness, patience, sharing, & gift of writing is greatly admired and appreciated!
My boys are greatly impressed!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Wimpy Kid Birthday

Stampin' Out The Work Week has a fun theme this week.  In honor of my oldest son's birthday and reading month, I present to you... A Wimpy Kid Birthday.

My son wanted to do something special for his birthday, so we gave him permission to invite two friends over for a Wimpy Kid themed afternoon this coming weekend.  Invitations were kept simple.  We printed the information on a piece of blue paper with the "stick figure" style image that you find on the first book cover.  From there we decided to keep it going.

Our birthday party fun will include a game of Wimpy Kid Scrabble before the pizza arrives.  Then we'll jump into some Wii games & just having fun in general.  The final event will be popcorn and a movie...  The Diary of A Wimpy Kid of course

For the birthday treat at school, we made brownie cookies and topped them with the "cheese touch."  It was nothing more than a flattened vanilla tootsie roll with golden yellow and green food/icing coloring added to accomplish that aged cheese look.

A very simple button was worn to school declaring that my son was indeed the "Birthday Kid."  I printed this from our home computer and added a little color by hand.

His brother and I continued the theme with our homemade birthday cards.

Decorating for the weekend party goes beyond balloons, yet it's not too involved either.   Foam versions of our main character and a paper birthday banner add just enough of a wimpy birthday kid touch to make the day festive.

When our son's buddies go home, they'll have one of a kind thank you bags to take with them.  A quick straight stitched bag with a small piece of canvas on the front, adorned by the wimpy kid, will hold all the goodies.  Candy bars with a simple paper wrapper, "cheese touch" popcorn, a decorate your own button kit, bookmarks (what book themed party doesn't have bookmarks), "Diary of" journals that we created (an in progress rough draft sample shown), and of course a pencil for all the writing and drawing that will go inside the journal.

I love it when a theme comes together!
Enjoy the wimpy photos.  Feel free to comment with any questions you have on the projects shown.  As always, enjoy stampin' out your work week!

Continue scrolling for more photos.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

Desperately awaiting the Springtime and fresh air, I ponder what lies in store during this upcoming season of growth and starting anew.  Spring break, the final months of school, and birthdays all come to mind.  As does a sense of relief that comes with not feeling trapped indoors the majority of the time. 

When winter begins, there is the excitement of holidays, and playing in the snow for the kids of Michigan  and other northern states.  Yet as the season drags on, even the children are ready to see the green grass and blooming flowers.  They tire of snow pants and boots just as much as mom and dad do.  Tossing off the winter coats, hats, gloves, and all other winter gear, encompasses a sense of freedom.

Breaking away from the cold, I long for the sweet smell of a light spring rainfall.  In my mind I can picture umbrellas up, rain boots on, and two young boys singing, dancing, and splashing in the rain.  With the sunshine comes soccer games, bike rides, displays of sidewalk chalk art, and just running around in the open space.  The warmth of the outdoors tends to warm our hearts as well.

Please hurry Spring!

What are you looking forward to this Spring?  Do you have any special plans?  What is your favorite part about Spring?  Will you splash in the rain puddles?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Terrifical Books and a Movie

Have you ever read a book in the Beezus & Ramona series?  Beverly Cleary captured the bond of sisters, friends, and family in such a way that the stories are timeless.  You are charmed and smiling (and of course laughing), whether you fancy yourself to be more like Beezus, Ramona, or Henry Huggins.  If you aren't a fan already, just trust the generations of Beverly Cleary fans on that fact.

This past Summer I re-read the original Beezus & Ramona book to my sons.  We hold true to a rule in our home that states, "you must read the book before seeing the movie."  After we laughed at the written version of silly Ramona, we scheduled our date to catch the film starring Selena Gomez as Beezus & Joey King as Ramona.  A number of actors and actresses beautifully portray the other heartwarming Cleary characters.  I must say the that theatrical performance was simply terrifical!  Sharing the beloved creations, that began in the 1950's, with my boys was even better than terrifical... it was fantastical!

As a family movie, I haven't seen anything better come along in countless years.  Bringing treasured characters to life, such as Beezus & Ramona, is a tall order, but it was certainly pulled off.  I recommend that everyone take the opportunity to watch it.  The film is available on dvd & blu ray, so pick up a copy or check out your local redbox.  Don't forget to read the books too!  

What did I learn (as a somewhat grown adult -- often mistaken for a teen) from the stories?

#1 If you don't  have an aunt like Aunt Bea, you are missing out!  Lucky for me, I was blessed with a couple of aunts who compare.  Love ya!

#2  Sisters are supposed to grow up at some point and realize they have an instant best friend... if only they take the time to realize & appreciate it.

#3  Families have ups and downs.  It's how we treat each other in the good times and bad times that determine if we'll be the kind of family that we want to claim when the day (or year or experience) is done.

#4  Don't be afraid to color outside of the lines.  Be yourself.  Enjoy who you are, even if it means that you are classified as "different."

#5  If something doesn't go your way, it is acceptable to use one bad word... "GUTS!"

#6  Aunt Bea is lucky have Hobart in the form of Josh Duhamel.  Oh.  Ooops.  I guess that one is my own personal learning experience.  ;)

Are you a Beverly Cleary fan?  Have you read the Ramona series or some of her other great stories?  If you could choose a Cleary character to define yourself, who would he/she be?  Have you seen the latest movie?  What did you think?  Are you inspired to re-read the series or pick up the film?

For the writers:  Do you feel that your stories are worthy of a "timeless tale" genre nod?  Would you rather fit into a best selling trendy mold or hit the "classic favorites" list?


Monday, January 24, 2011

I Can't Wait To Grow Up...

On Friday, a second grader told me that he couldn't wait to be an adult.  My reply was the typical response of most adults.  "Oh you don't want to grow up too fast.  You'll miss out on so much!  You'll have to get a job and have all kinds of responsibilities.  Enjoy being a kid while you can."  I remember those days myself.  Of course there were many reasons I couldn't wait to grow up and get out of the house.

Dealing with the bittersweetness of my own children growing at warp speed and moving into my 30's in recent years brings forth a lot of thoughts & feelings regarding age.  As kids we can't wait to grow up, but when we become adults, we don't want to grow old.

What is seen in the future that is so shiny and beautiful that we would wish childhood to be rushed?  The mysterious "freedom" that we assume will be acquired when we reach that magical age of 18?  Is it being taller (or in some cases not so much) or maybe the excitement of eventually driving a car?

Why do we fear or avoid growing older?  Is it just the gray hair, wrinkles, and body changes that make us wish we could freeze time?  Could it be the fact that we just feel older as our children grow?  Are we affected by the goals left unaccomplished and worry that we won't ever achieve them?

Take a deep breath.  Look around you and take note of where you have been and where you are in life.  Think of all the people who have affected you and the ones you have affected.  What makes you happy?  What makes you lucky?  Take a look in the mirror.  Do you see those eyes looking back at you?  What have they seen so far in this life?  What have they yet to see?  What happened in your years to give those eyes depth and sparkle?  Smile and appreciate how much you have grown as a person and how much you have yet to grow.   Life is too short to worry about rushing it or slowing it down.  Take the time to enjoy the moment you are in.

Did you wish your childhood would rush by so you could be a grown up?  Do you feel apprehension about growing older?  Do you feel content at where you are in life?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A True Short Story

Today I bring you a true short story.  
I hope it makes you smile and warms your heart, as it did mine the day it occurred.

Once upon a time there were two young brothers.  These smart young grade schoolers were enjoying a day at the Magic Kingdom with their mom and dad.  While strolling through the many shops on Main Street U.S.A., they came along a plastic Mickey Mouse gift card that had seemingly lost it's owner.  Spotting this tiny treasure, worth an undetermined amount of money, these youthful gentleman were instantly animated.  While many other may have pocketed such an item, the lads did nothing of the sort.  Their exclamations were for one purpose only... returning this prize to the person who would most certainly be upset to find it missing.  With nobody in the vicinity visibly searching for what had been misplaced, they turned the gift card in to the nearest WDW cast member.  After a sincere thank you and compliment about being, "such good thoughtful boys," the family was on it's way once more.  As the parents glanced towards each other, they knew without an exchange of words, that they had two amazing young boys to be proud of.  Not once did these children think greedily.   Instead, their actions showed great maturity and honor... especially for the ages of 5 and 7.  May they always carry this kindness and responsibility with them.

Have your children (or any child) ever inspired you?  Have they done something that absolutely knocked your socks off?  Do you have a heart warming story to share on this Monday?

Don't forget to check out Diane Estrella's blog all week for great giveaways!  Tomorrow Diane will be featuring me, so check it out!  Happy Monday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Usher In 2011

As we usher in each new year, we often make a list of personal (and professional) resolutions.  While many toss these tasks out the window early on (*cough* diet & exercise), some items on the yearly agenda actually do stick.  Last year I made a resolution NOT to make a resolution, simply because I found humor in the irony.  Seriously.  What really is the success rate of those annual new year's resolutions?  Regardless, I'm actually putting forth an effort and making a list of goals to accomplish in 2011.

My 2011 Resolutions

1.  Blogging: Stick with a writing post on Monday & Stampin' Out The Work Week crafty post Fridays.

2.  Stampin' Up:  Enjoy the creativity as always and make a profit in 2011.

3.  Etsy:  Create on Etsy shop for CMOM Productions items!

4.  Write:  Get back to that book I began pouring my heart into.  Complete by 2012!  I have to be realistic with this one.  

5.  Personal:  Take care of myself physically, mentally, & emotionally.  Eat right & exercise, dates with the hubby, quiet reading/writing/crafting time to myself, and whatever else fits in this category.  Embrace the fact that I am human and don't beat myself up if I'm not 100% all the time.

6.  Most important resolution in 2011:  Appreciate, admire, be thankful, dream, smile, take time, love, & live!  Remember all of the beautiful things in life.  Be grateful for friends, family, & loved ones every day.  I will not let the bad days get me down!  Keep moving forward!   Repeat but important:  Embrace the fact that I am human and don't beat myself up if I'm not 100% all the time.  Flair & amazing surprises can sometimes be found in the imperfections.

What are some of your past resolutions that did not survive?  Did you have success with any former resolutions?  How did you pull it off?  What are your resolutions for 2011?