Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two-Dimensional Adventures

Have you ever wished you could mail yourself somewhere?  I've often thought that vacations would be less work and more relaxing if I could just ship our family via UPS.  
Alas, it's illegal to ship actual humans, but I've found the next best thing!

This post has been about a year in the making.  Not because it's just that awesome or anything, but because I couldn't figure out the best medium in which to present the information.  
And because this past year has been crazy with a capital "C". 

But it hasn't been crazy just for our family, it's been exciting for Mike's whole family.  Since last July, 2 of Mike's brothers have gotten married and 3 baby cousins have been born (including Teddy). 

I've been intrigued with the idea of sending the kids on a "Flat Stanley"- style adventure, ever since seeing this post.  Well, last summer, I finally got my act together and did it. 

You see, my husband's younger brother was getting married in the Phillippines, and we were not able to attend.  I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to teach my little Ugly Americans (and myself) about other parts of the world, but how to go about it when the pupils in question are 5 and 3? 

That's where the 2-D versions of the kiddos come in.

See, at this age, they're very concrete thinkers.  
They also think the world revolves around them. 

So, if I want to get them to look at and be interested in pictures of people and places on the other side of the world, I have to put my little peeps IN the pictures, too. 

And it worked!  

Is there somewhere you'd like to go this summer, but can't actually get there?
Do you have relatives far away that you aren't able to visit?

Send yourself or your kids in the mail.

Here's what I did:

1.  Take a variety of full-length pictures of the subjects in question.

I took a variety of poses, and ultimately chose one silly and one serious.

2.  Blow up your image to your desired size.
I just wanted my kids to be the size of a regular piece of printer paper, so I printed them on a full page.

3.  Laminate the images.
Laminate before you cut, so you're not cutting twice.

4.  Cut closely around just the bodies of your "Stanley"s.

5.  Stick those suckers in an envelope and mail them to an unsuspecting (or suspecting) relative or other such good sport. 

6.  Watch from the comfort of your own home as the aforementioned relatives gallavant across the globe, taking your "kids" along on their adventures. 

We sent our Stanleys to Sarah and Will's Papa and Nana, and they took the idea and ran with it.  I really didn't expect them to have so much fun with these little figurines, but they went way above and beyond all of my expectations.  It was such fun seeing what adventures Flat Sarah and Will 2-D were having as the posts came up on Facebook or email.  In fact, they took so many cool pictures, it was a challenge  to compile them in such a way that was accessible to kids and adults alike. 

In the end, I used my current favorite teaching medium: PowerPoint. 
I set the slides to one of the kids' current favorite songs, and voila!

They've watched that thing over and over again, and giggle at the antics of their alter egos. 

My plan was to post the PowerPoint presentation on the blog to share with you, but Blogger wouldn't let me.

So, I made a YouTube video (see below).  The music is different, but the spirit is still the same.  

Come follow along as Nana and Papa Brown take Flat Sarah and Will 2-D across the globe!  
Our journey starts in the airport, heading to Hawaii for a few days of touring Pearl Harbor,
 relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the aloha life.  
From Hawaii, the g-parents head out to Manila, where they meet up with the bride's family and the rest of the brothers (Mike has 4, in case there's someone NOT related to us reading this blog). 
 After the wedding,
the newlyweds took the Yanks on a tour of Manila, including a cruise to some of the islands.    
Then, it was back to the States and a little more aloha before touching down in Miami once again.

My in-laws said they had a blast with this, taking on the challenge with their typical joie de vivre.
 Mike thought it'd be kind of a pain for them.  I figured we'd get a picture or two. 

In the end, I managed to snag about 50 of the shots that they sent via email or Facebook. 
So, here they are.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gimme a D!

Y'all, it took me EONS to find out what #tbt meant.  Like, I had to pose the question on Facebook after somebody tagged me in some photo circa 1997 or something.  It turns out, there's a whole world of hashtags out there that I know nothing about. You really haven't lived until your mom tells you what #ootd means.  Or, for that matter, your 5-year-old teaches you how to get a movie from Redbox.  But, I digress. 

I've been wanting to join in the throw-back fun, but I don't get real jazzed about photos pre-kids.  Of course, now that I have children I am the bane of everyone's existence: blogging about them, printing out, texting, emailing, or posting photos of them on my wall (real and virtual). 

Anyhoo, this picture is relatively unknown to everyone but me and Mike.
 It was one in a series of photos I took as a gift for him for Father's Day, when the kids were almost 3 and 18 months.  I'd never done a "photo shoot" and considered the term to be reserved only for studios, waif-like models, and somebody holding up a weird reflector thing.  My shoot was timed right after nap and a cheese stick, and my models were paid in Pez candies.  Our studio was the backyard, right next to the hydrangeas from our wedding in full bloom. 

I had to take pictures fast, dancing around like a monkey and nipping any potential for drama in the bud.  Sarah kept hunting for pine cones and getting distracted by bugs, while Will tried to pick his nose with the letter "A".

This might be against #tbt rules or something, but below are a few of my favorite shots. With Father's Day coming up, it's important to remember the main men in our lives.  Just like with Redbox, the littles have to spell it out for us:

I've done a shoot like this every year since, and I tend to think they go easier than this first one.  Even so, these pictures are some of our all-time favorites, second only to this year's photos with baby #3. 

(I'm linking up with The Mom Creative for her Throwback Thursday Stories, so check it out!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Not a Bad Thing... fall in love with T. 

Sorry for ripping off your lyrics, JT, but it's true.  At three months old, our little loveable TJ has changed my opinion of babies altogether. 

Not only is this guy the happiest kid ever, but even 3 months out of the womb his comedic timing is spot-on.  During the meningitis ordeal, after 2 blood tests, a catheter, a spinal tap, and an IV, he fell asleep in my arms with his hand resting against his cheek, his middle finger the sole digit pointing skyward for all to see.  As the doctor walked in to tell us they were admitting us, I told him, "That's what Teddy thinks of spinal taps."  Doc and I laughed together, and remembering my tough guy's silent message to the world was the only bright spot over the next few days.
Just yesterday, time was slipping towards the witching hour and we were all sniping at each other, trouble bubbling toward the boiling point.  Teddy sliced right through the tension with a huge toot and an even bigger grin, sending us all into a fit of giggles. 

So, let's get down to brass tacks.

Hair:  Ever lighter.  He and Sarah seem to share the same coloring from head to toe, but we'll see.

Eyes:  Blue and very serious.
Length:  22 inches, and longer every day.

Weight: 12 pounds.

Sleep:  9 hours every night.  I promise I'm not lying. We are so lucky.  Sleep is glorious.
Duds:  Little dude skipped right over 3 months sizes and went straight to 6 months and up. 

Turn-ons:  Everything.  He's busy and nosy and so darn frustrated that he can't quite be in the middle of the fray just yet.  Teddy still loves ceiling fans, but he also cracks a lopsided grin whenever his big brother and sister come around.  My little bear loves to hold hands, tries to stand at every opportunity, and sings along with anything from Beyonce to Old MacDonald.   

Sarah came over while I was holding Big T, and we were giggling about what a drooler she was as a baby.  I showed her how she stuck her tongue out all the time, and she stuck hers out too.  We heard some coos, and looked at little bro, who was watching intently and sticking his tongue out too.  Goofball.

Turn-offs: Hospital stays; laying still; being palmed in the face (yes, it still happens sometimes)

Language:  Lots of "Goo".  He gets so excited when you speak to him in Goo.  I swear we did a duet to "All the Single Babies (Ladies)" the other day.

Activity:  He's grabbing at everything these days, and rolling from front to back every once in awhile.
So, here's to three months and a whole lot more laughs!