celebrating fall - activity for kids

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall has always been my favorite. The leaves, the pumpkins, long walks in the brisk air, the smell of cinnamon, and the dressing up. All of it was always perfect. It was perfect until two years ago when I spent the entire fall season in a hospital, away from my two year old, waiting to know if we would ever be a family again. Matilda was born on the first day of fall. So naturally, this season has shifted for us. It holds a lot of emotional dates.

But the thing is, we can't let that consume us. I needed to find a way to bring back the excitement of fall - to celebrate fall! To let the kids create new magical memories and to distract me from those looming dates. So we made a Fall Memory Maker full of ten activities that we can do each fall season together as a family. Each activity is written on the backside of the bag and inside are leather shapes that represent the event. My hope is that we can bring each object with us as we embark on each adventure. The kids can take turns holding onto it or keep it tucked away in a pocket. Over time the leather will fade and wear, while holding onto those memories as each year passes.

Here is how you can make your own.

Materials: Cricut Explore, iron-on transfer, scraps of leather, a muslin bag, and a yarn pom pom (the one I used was sent as a gift topper).

Bag - After typing in the activities and picking my favorite fonts in the Design Space, I loaded my mat with black iron-on vinyl (shiny side down), turned my dial to "iron-on" and pressed "Go". Then, I very carefully weeded out all the vinyl pieces I did not want ironed on to my bag, positioned the cut design on the bag, and ironed it until the plastic easily peeled off.

Shapes - Cricut's Design Space makes it easy to search for and test out a variety of shapes. Cutting leather with the Explore is a breeze. Turn the dial to custom and then on the "GO" page select the leather thickness before pressing "GO". And don't forget that if it does not cut all the way through just go ahead and press the cut button on the machine before you remove the mat and it will run through again - as many times as you need.

Time: Between finding all the shapes, changing mats for different materials, designing the outside of the bag, and weeding all those little letters, this project took me about three hours.

Don't forget that I am creating projects in conjunction with Team 8 for the Cricut Design Star challenge. Team 8 works together to come up with a cohesive theme that can tie all of our projects together. Cricut supplies us with the category, a few tools, and the Cricut Explore. For September, we chose "Falling into Fall" as our theme for Cricut's celebration/wedding category. We are not paid to produce projects, but we can win some sweet prizes if our idea is chosen or if our team shows the most support for each other. All opinions are our own.

Please click through the following links to check out the amazing bloggers on my team!

Artsy-Fartsy Mama Brassy Apple Cloudy Day Gray Happy Together Kori Clark
Maddycakes Muse Michelle Edgemont No. 2 Pencil Our Thrifty Ideas Sew Woodsy

And now you get to participate, too! Cricut has just announced the second phase of the Cricut - I Made It! contest and this time they’re awarding one winner their own Make it Now™ project line to be sold in Cricut Design Space™!

To help create your line, Cricut will fly you to their headquarters in Salt Lake City to work side-by-side with their design team. Then, you and a guest will enjoy an all-expense paid stay at the Grand America Hotel – a luxury resort in Salt Lake City, home to the best skiing in the world.

The winner will be featured on and every time a Cricut user purchases your project, you’ll earn money. Cricut will even help with your publicity.

To enter the Cricut - I Made It! contest, all you need is a photo of an original project. You can upload up to five photos (which can be five individual projects or multiple photos of one project).

You have until September 30th to enter. What are you waiting for? It’s time you to Make It, big! Head to to enter today. Good luck, it would be so cool to have one of my readers chosen for this!

close to heaven

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

October 31st, 2012 - close to heaven

One minute everything was fine, I was talking about leaving to get a coffee, the next Matilda crashed. Her alarms all started blaring at once. Everyone got to work. Doctors were called. Extra nurses rushed to our little room. Her blood pressure dropped to 20/10.

Tyler and I backed up in the corner. We were quiet and still. I looked at Matilda and prayed, "keep her alive, just keep her alive." She was fighting. I could feel it. She could have so easily left us right then. She could have so easily let go to be in peace. She could have, but she fought. She fought for me.

For 15 minutes, doctors and nurses flooded our room. They shouted. They ran. They ordered. They pushed. Their dance was beautiful - it was full of emotion and power, it was full of life and hope. They convinced Matilda's body to hold on, to wait just a few more days, and then they left. We could breathe.

The thing is, right there, in that moment, sitting with Matilda, tears streaming down my face, I was so close to heaven. I felt it.

There are times in life that are undeniably hard. I was enduring the worst and every moment felt like my heart was going to burst into a million painful pieces. But at the same time, I had never felt more love. I had never felt so close to God. I had never dreamed of being this close to heaven, but when I was near Matilda, I felt it.

It wasn't just after terrifying moments like this when I felt it. It came in waves, when I was really focused on the love, when I felt the most peace, when I allowed myself to trust and be in the moment for what it was. This beautiful wave of warmth would rush through my body. It was heaven and in those moments I knew that all would be okay.

Matilda looked like a mess, but I didn't see any of it. I saw before me the most beautiful angel, glowing of heaven, telling me that everything was going to be okay.

cheesy or cool

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I used to think that these big plastic cars were the cheesiest things on the block. But this old jeep that has been loved and used for the last 10 or so years seems so cool all of a sudden. Maybe it is the faded colors or the fact that my kids had the most fun zooming around the yard in it.

Parenthood is funny like that sometimes. Sometimes what you consider tacky changes when you have real relationships, real interactions, and real experiences with real children.

Real children like cheesy toys. And sometimes that is okay.

a blessing for matilda

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Matilda was baptized when she was 10 days old. It wasn't what I had expected, but it was beautiful and something I will never forget. We had originally planned on having her baptism over Christmas in Montana surrounded by friends and family.

There have been moments over the last two years where I daydreamed of what that would have been like and there have been moments where I couldn't imagine ever going back, ever having the opportunity for people to meet Matilda - let alone experience her baptism.

But here we were, home in Montana - surrounded by most everyone we love - blessing Matilda in the church nearly two years after her baptism. It was such a humbling experience to share Matilda with so many people who prayed while she was sick, who were there for us when we felt alone, who celebrated her life wholeheartedly.

I cried as we welcomed aunts and uncles into the church. I cried as Matilda met her cousins for the first time. I cried when I realized that all four of my siblings were there to support her. I cried as Matilda walked down the aisle in her beautiful white dress. I cried when my big brother proudly brought a cake he made just for her. And I loved every second of it.

During the blessing Matilda handled the situation and attention with such experience. Looking up at Matilda, I saw that little ten-day-old baby who was intubated and fighting for her life. I saw how far she has come in her two years of life, how many people she has touched, how many battles she has won, and how faith has been right by her side through everything. I could hear sniffles all around and I knew everyone saw exactly what I did. The mighty miracle Matilda in all her glory, shining above the odds and standing strong. She is blessed.

And we are all blessed to know her.

miracle marathon

Monday, September 15, 2014

I am running a marathon and I want you to do it with me! I am serious - dead serious. You all know that I love a good challenge and that running has always helped me to overcome, make progress toward, and refresh my goals. And, honestly, I know for a fact that every single one of you can run this with me.

You see, this isn't a typical marathon.

I am teaming up with my friend Stacy (who helped with my very first set of craft packs) to complete a Miracle Marathon, where you walk/run a mile a day for 27 days to raise awareness for the Children's Miracle Network! When she told me about it, I jumped right on board. It really is so cool!

Whether you join individually or as a team, you can decide which hospital in the network gets the money that you earn - choose a hospital in your local community or one of a friend or family member.

You commit to walking, running, or any type of motion for a mile a day 26 consecutive days - on your own time, at your own pace, and wherever you wish. Then, on day 27, everyone who is participating starts at the same time and completes one more mile and a half together. How amazing is that? People from all over, uniting together for such a good cause! The last mile and a half is dedicated to all those kids in need of miracles. I cry just thinking about it!

Matilda got her miracle! Please help us give miracles to so many more. Our team is #momsrun4good and we would love, LOVE for you to join and run along side us! To help keep you motivated and moving forward, we made a photo challenge for our team. We came up with 27 prompts and you can complete them in any order you want - just choose one that fits with your day and tag it with #momsrun4good and #miraclemarathon.

So, what do you think? Will you join us? Will you cheer us on from the sidelines? Will you be a miracle maker? Whatever you decide, do it quickly because the Miracle Marathon starts on September 16th and goes through October 12th. Visit their website and sign up or donate today!

Cloudy Day Gray All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger

Blogging tips