Family Repurpose Project: Low Profile Mosaic Table

One piece of furniture that has moved with us for all but 1 of our military moves is this cheap-o Wally World tile top table that we bought back in 1996 in Manhattan, KS.  Tigger used the legs as his personal scratching posts and were in awful shape.  We stopped using it as our dining table once we PCSd from Germany to Kansas and it became a laundry folding table, then an ironing table extension to my sewing area.  I wanted to throw it out before we moved to AL, but something kept us from doing so.  Now we have this fun little table the girls helped us with for a coffee table/kids table/Asian-style dining table

Why did we hang onto this thing?

We began the project by chiseling the tiles out one by one.  Rob had a great idea to turn the table over and just stomp out the middle, but that didn't fit my 'vision.'

After we chipped out 4-5 tiles, I relented...thank goodness.  He took care of the top in less than 10 seconds.  Why must I be so hard-headed?  I'll blame it on being a Taurus.

Here's the base, just needs a little grinding on that inner lip to remove the excess chipboard.

These are the scratching posts...er...table legs.  Rob sawed them off right at the lower notches and I sanded the legs, then ground down the cat claw grooves with the Dremel and sanded again.  The legs are irregular, but their reminders of our Tigger, who passed away years ago.

Maia chose the paint.  I wasn't so sure about it at first.  We affixed new plywood to the center for our mosaic base, then I primed and sealed it so we could use it outdoors. After the primer dried, I had the girls write their names in pencil as a guide for placing the first tiles.

We used Liquid Nails to affix the broken tile pieces to the tabletop.  Liquid Nails is a nightmare to remove from the skin, just ask Rob.  The white is broken tile from the original table and the black was 4" square tile from Lowe's.  The colored tile is tumbled glass from Hobby Lobby.

Since the broken tiles had sharp edges and varied in height, we ground down every single edge so no one would get cut when running their hands over the tabletop.  After the edges were ground down, Rob used the leaf-blower to dust off the top and it was ready for the grout.  I have laid tile before, but never used grout.  That was slightly terrifying at first, thinking all of our hard work was going to end in a mucky, unrecognizable mess.

I think it was worth every bit of trouble.  I love seeing their signatures on the table and knowing that this was truly a family project!
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Sharing Sue with the Next Generation

Popcorn in cheeks, ready for the show!
Passing it on...the story I do my very best to avoid telling, yet somehow find myself cornered and having to explain the irrational messy saga.  M has heard bits and pieces, just enough to fall in love with my favorite dinosaur.  Yesterday, she caught a greater glimpse of the joy, hell and, eventually, peace we lived a couple of decades ago.  

When I first heard that someone was making a movie about Sue, I was worried that Hollywood would invade my home town and distort reality.  I couldn't have been more wrong. 

I read incredible reviews of the film after it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and started getting excited.  Later, we found out that it would be at the Black Hills Film Festival over M's birthday weekend.  M was ready to spend all day and night in the car on her birthday just to watch this movie the day before.  She sacrificed a party with friends to drive over 600 miles to watch a movie.  This girl deserves a celebration.

Yesterday, Rob, M and I watched the screening of "Dinosaur 13" in Hill City School's auditorium.  I felt like I was going to a wake.  The moment the title appeared on the screen (black screen and small, simple font in white), the tears began.  Todd Miller and crew, you have given my family a gift we will forever be grateful for.  Thank you for redeeming us. 

Official description board from Sotheby's auction house when Sue was sold to the highest bidder

Dad explaining air sacs in birds and T. rex

Not as awesome as Sue, but beautiful nonetheless 
"Blackie" from the tar pits in Peru
Birthday girl passing the time with a good book
To my hero, freshly home from war and my lovely, kind, big brown- eyed girl on her 9th birthday: I love you so and thank you for wanting to share this with me. I2
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Dreaming of warmer weather; the unpublished post

Just as I was about to post some winter photos, I saw that I never published this post that has been sitting in limbo since August.  I was about to delete it, but I had to share the photos of my girls jumping in the grass and our praying mantis friends.  They remind me that The homecoming is within reach. 

At the end of every summer since we've lived at this house, we have found praying mantis egg cases attached to various clever places outside of the house.  We discovered this one on the railing at the front of the house just as pictured, some of the babies had already hatched.
We were hanging out on the little bench on our front porch and discovered this little hatchling.  The metal disc is a part of a 1" covered button blank for scale.
The little dude is so unbelievably adorable!  Rob and I have enjoyed rain/thunderstorms from our front porch and have watched adult praying mantids catch and eat little gnats and mosquitoes trying to escape the rain.  Our Mantis friends can stay.
This beauty guards my tomatoes.  M named it "Sneakers" and L named it "Flowers."
Measures around 10cm

This is a little skirt I made for M using The Long Thread's "Backgammon Skirt" tutorial.  I think I'll use the idea again for The homecoming.
Just a closeup of the fun hemline
Barefoot in the grass, always a favorite

On the count of three, ready?  1...2...

Trying to be patient here, but really, spring, you can come any time.  We want our Daddy back!
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Halloween Nocturnal Animals

Happy Halloween!
Just a quick post mostly for family and friends to see the girls in their costumes.  M knew she wanted to be a female snowy owl earlier this summer.  Not too long after, L decided she wanted to be a flying squirrel from one of her favorite books about nocturnal animals.  I'll post more about the costumes later, but for now, here are a few photos just before trick-or-treating.

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Hand trees (kid's art) and back to school

A couple of weeks ago, the girls and I put this little project together.  A few months before Libby was born I stumbled across the idea from the blog, At Second StreetI saved this project for over three years, waiting for just the right time.  
We began by tracing the girls' hands and forearms on paper and then cut them out to use as patterns to cut them out of a scrap of brown jersey knit. Maia painted the canvas with a wash of yellows and oranges that I chose. Originally, I was just going to use different shades of green fabric for the leaves, but Maia wanted more color. So, I let her dig in my fabric scraps to chose some bright colors. Her addition was perfect! I really love the extra dimension the bright colors add. I placed the hand/arm tree trunks on the canvas and then had the girls glue the leaves on their trees with Fabri-Tac (best fabric glue ever, btw). They used one line of glue down the center on the back of each leaf. This gave the trees a soft and subtle 3-D look. L actually lost interest after she had glued only about a half-dozen leaves on her tree, so Maia and I finished her tree. The poem is one that I ran across some time ago and have always wanted to print it and post it somewhere I would see it daily. Once everything dried, I hung it in our dining room.  

The poem reads:
Oh give me patience when wee hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes.
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion, or noise
Obscure my vision from life's fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come my house is still-
No bitter memories its rooms may fill.
-Author Unknown-
Here's one more mini project by Maia -- decorating these neon green Vans.  Before giving her the shoes, I painted the eyelets with nail polish to make them even more fun.
She used fabric markers and went to work.  She still wants to add glitter glue to her shoes.
For now, her shoes were perfect.  She wore them on her first day of the 3rd grade last week.
...And loved showing them off to her new classmates. 
Good luck and best wishes to all of our students and teachers!
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This is it (fingers crossed) + Fabric pocket hug tutorial

Two years have passed since the last deployment, a generous amount of time relative to the typical rotation schedules.  If you ask any of us, "generous" is relative due to the various TDY training and instruction courses Rob has had to go away for during his time stateside.  
With that being said, we certainly know how to maximize our family time and really enjoy life.  Two years have gone by far too quickly, but we have packed in a crazy amount of fun and love in that short amount of time.

Earlier this week, we said goodbye again, the big goodbye for who knows how long with no break for R&R. 
L working on her fabric hug (a more durable version of the standard paper hug)
M's hug
L's hug, fun fabric side, chosen by her
L's, decorated side
M's decorated side
Fun fabric, peace signs chosen by M, of course
The hugs are simple.  To do this project, you will need:
  • a piece of paper
  • a pencil
  • a scrap of Fabric A (fun cotton print)
  • a scrap of Fabric B (muslin or other solid cotton)
  • a scrap of fusible web
  • a scrap of fusible fleece (felt would work too, something soft to stabilize is the idea) 
  • and one length of ribbon, measured to the length of your child's outstretched arms. 
  1. Have your child trace their hands (or do it for them) on a piece of paper.  Cut out the hand and use it as your pattern on your fabric.  
  2. Trace the hands onto the paper portion of the fusible web
  3. Fuse the web to Fabric A (fun print) and set aside.
  4. Fuse the fleece (or baste if using an alternative material) to Fabric B.
  5. Cut out the hands from the fusible web/Fabric A combo and use them as templates to cut the hands from the fleece/Fabric B combo.  
  6. Peel off the paper backing from the fusible web-backed Fabric A hands.
  7. With wrong sides together, match up one of each, Fabric A and Fabric B hands, sandwiching one inch of each end of the ribbon between each sandwich at the bottom of each palm.  
  8. Fuse the hands together -- Layer order: Fabric A - fusible web - ribbon end at bottom of palm - fusible fleece - fabric B
  9. Edge stitch around each hand, reinforcing the ribbon ends by back-stitching.
  10. Finish raw edges with a wide zig-zag stitch around each hand.
  11. Have your child decorate the Fabric B hands to make them more personal.
A hug from M before you go...
Please, dear God, let them all return safely, and please let it be less than a year. 

...and another from L, who can't quite reach.
Daddy helped, now he's loaded with hugs he can keep in his pocket.

Now that the dread of preparing for him to go away again has passed, we are starting to pull out of our funk and prepare to welcome him back home again -- for good, please, God.  Time Is passing and we are one day closer to being Whole again.

Our "Deployment Wall" -- waiting on our world map; which will be hung below
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