costa rica : our family vacation

we went on an absolutely magnificent family vacation to costa rica in october.

it was a long time in the making, we had been talking about a vacation for a while, but life just seemed to get in the way. DH changed jobs several times in the last couple of years, we sold and bought a house; big things that make vacationing a little tricky!

> WARNING : this blog post contains millions of family vacation photo’s <<<

waiting before the sun had even risen for our flight at the airport.

not much to do or look at as shops and cafes were just opening up. i did enjoy a tiny cappuccino for $5! yikes!

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the view from our room! not bad at all!

looking at this scenery each day helped calm our everyday nerves, recharge our batteries and helped us really enjoy each other’s company.

dreams las mareas costa rica

but, this october we finally hopped on a plane, flew south to the HOT and HUMID lush land of sloths and volcanoes! we stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort called dreams las mareas. we have never stayed at one before so we had nothing to compare the experience to, but regardless… IT WAS AMAZING!!!

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our room was big and bright, with an amazing balcony with a hot tub! we never used the tub, except to dry our wet bathing suits on it! every afternoon after spending the morning on the beach and poolside we would have a siesta during the heat of the day. and, boy-o-boy was it hot!!!

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the resort had a lovely beach on the pacific ocean.

we would head down daily after our delicious breakfast, with towels and books under our arms. at 10am bar service started and the lovely waiters would bring us all sorts of drinks to the beach!

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there were dogs at the beach. they were super social wanting to lounge with you. often they would crawl under various people’s chairs to hide from the sun and rest in the cool sand. they never barked, were threatening, begged for food… they just chilled with the tourists!

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the waves were big, strong and fun! the boys would jump into the waves for hours and hours. there were little fish all along the shallow shores and massive grey pelicans would dive-bomb into the water to catch them. it was impossible to get a picture of this, but it was wonderfully entertaining to watch.

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did i mention how beautiful and lovely our resort was!?

it was designed in a way with lots of lush greenery to create an intimate feel, separating various pools and restaurants. it was so easy to relax as we had nothing to worry about. our biggest concerns were when and where to eat!

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and the plants. the flowers. the trees. the foliage.

i couldn’t stop admiring it all. they were planted in a way to break-up sight lines, so it was easy to forget you were at a resort.

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this was one of the outdoor seafood restaurants we enjoyed for lunch. it’s hard to tell from the photo, but we were all dripping in sweat, kids included. but, it was fun to sit outside with the birds and lizards eating our yummy food. DH and i enjoyed all sorts of fancy alcoholic drinks, below i am devouring a strawberry daiquiri! 

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did i mention the beautiful fauna in costa rica?

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we went on one day trip. it was one of the funnest days we have ever had. the four of us were joined by two newly-wed couples who had just married 4 days before!!! it was so great listening their stories of their wedding days, how they had met, their future plans and so on. it gave me much clarity and reassurance on how far my sweet DH and i have come in our ten years of marriage.

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our day trip included zip lining!

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the kids were the first ones to go! lion went with a guide as he is so tiny still, but bear went on his own.

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it was super hard to take videos and pictures while ziplining! in fact i was the only one brave (stupid) enough to bring my camera and phone with me. because, i didn’t drop anything i am so glad i did!

there were 9 separate lines that whizzed along. we went over waterfall, rivers, jungle, fields with cows… it was completely unreal! i could be heard over the hills screaming with fear and excitement!

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earlier we zipped over this incredible waterfalls. we came here to swim, cool off and relax. we even walked under the falls, which was a loud, slippery but another amazing experience. even the kids ventured under there with us!

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we saw a sloth! and it moved! and it was much faster than we imagined! it was pretty high up in the tree, so getting a reasonable picture was impossible, but i took the one below for proof.

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below DH and lion can be seen relaxing in the volcanic hot spring. the water was very hot, but after ziplining it felt really good.

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after our long, adventurous day we had quiet ride back to the resort. quiet as in people slept, but the bumps were loud. they call the bumpy roads a costa rican massage! during our drive we saw lots of new infrastructure being built, things like more windmills and many improvements to the roads. the northern part of the country, where we were, is not as developed or touristy.

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thanks andre &  melanie and eric & kristy for spending the day with us and filling it with all your newly-wed love!  our new big nickle and georgia peach friends… how cute are they?

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this giant chessboard was a huge hit with our family, night n’ day!

the kids loved playing against their dad!

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on one day we decided to head up the hills to the nearest town. we were told that a local bus came by the resort. well, something got lost in the conversation between DH and a hotel employee, and the four of ended up running to try to catch the bus at the main gate of the resort. unfortunately the main gate was about a kilometer from the actual hotel, so we decided to run in the hopes to catch the bus we had missed t the hotel.

even though it was nine in the morning, it was already super hot n’ humid. 

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we ran and ran down this tiny road… that wee speck just passed the blue sign in the photo is DH, who ran ahead in the hopes to hold the bus for us. but, we still missed it. we walked back to the hotel, very disappointed and sweaty.

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after some discussion and problem solving we decided to splurge and took a taxi into town.

the road was windy and bumpy, but i was a lovely way to see the country. our driver was chatty, speaking english well telling us all sorts of things about his country. we were winding up the hills and mountains up, up, up.

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look at that view!

takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

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one of the first things we discovered while in town was a skate park! how cool?!dsc_0145 dsc_0151

the town was small. we were there to find souvenirs, which we didn’t find. but, we did buy some local coffee from the grocery store, which i have been savoring here at home.

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we found the kids these fun safari-style hats that said costa rica on them!

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back at the hotel we decided to have japanese for dinner.

we called it our family date night. first we went to the special lounge in teh main building that only privileged customers were allowed into. we’re still not quite clear how we managed to get those perks, but we did and we enjoyed them. the bartenders were hilarious showing all sorts of tricks to the kids and making fancy drinks for them.

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the chef below was learning the fancy tricks of the teppanyaki style of japanese cooking. it was pretty fun! 

oh and the sky. 

always beautiful.

always different.

always full of surprises!

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time to go.

after of week of relaxation, good food, swimming, sun and epic thunderstorms we were ready to say good-bye to the lovely people of costa rica and head home. we all missed our kitty-cats, our own beds and the cool breezes of october in ontario!

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HELLO TORONTO!

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if you have ever considered going to costa rica, GO! 

so much to see and do. a very beautiful country with lovely people.

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xo, mama lola

cute halloween felt decorations!

last week i pulled out my box of felt and got busy with several different projects!

today i am sharing a halloween craft, which seems fitting as halloween is coming quickly this coming weekend! do you have all of your costumes organized and ready for trick-or-treating?

aren’t these googly-eyed halloween characters adorable?

halloween stuffies, felt halloween crafts

i made these wee adorable halloween felt decorations. i thought some people may want to add string or ribbon to them in order to hang them or make a spooky mobile. i personally left them as is, and have popped them on windowsills and flower pots peeking their googly eyes around the leaves.

 

SUPPLIES:

various colours of felt

googly eyes

hot glue gun

stuffing

various colours of embroidery thread and a needle

scissors

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. fold your felt so you cut two identical pieces.

     2. thread your needle and sew the two pieces of felt together using a blanket stitch. leave a small space for stuffing filling.

 

halloween crafts. felt crafts, halloween

 

3. once you have stuffed enough stuffing keep sewing your blanket stitch.

4. hot glue gun the googly eyes onto the felt.

 

pumpkin felt ctafts, halloween crafts, felt crafts

felt ghost crafts, halloween felt crafts, googly eye crafts

these googly-eyes halloween cuties aren’t particularly spooky, but are super fun nonetheless. 

halloween crafts, googly eyed halloween decorations, felt crafts

 

now, i gotta get lion’s halloween costume organized. he’s a minion (as are so many other kids!) so i’m using mason jar lids to make his goggles! should work out well, i think! bear has worked hard at his wizard costume independently, which has been really fun to watch. he clearly has some specific ideas he wants to bring into fruition!

i will share pictures as we get more organized!

happy crafting friends!

xo, mama lola

giving thanks.


thanksgiving is this coming weekend here in canada-land. 

fall has arrived with it’s cool temperatures, soggy days and falling leaves. i love fall. well, i actually appreciate all the seasons, but i love the change in the seasons most. yes, the transitions are hard with kids; do you wear rubber boots or sneakers… BAH! 

but, on a personal level in the fall i love how slowly things quieten down. birds disappear to warmer climates down south, while squirrels scurry around madly hiding acorns in random holes in the ground. the nights become darker sooner and morning arrives later. and, the colours… mother nature really knows her stuff when it comes to transitioning from the hot to cold! already many maple trees in our neighbourhood are on fire with their vibrant red, oranges and yellows. every season i am amazed!

we have experienced a tough september and beginning to october, and instead of dwelling on the negatives i have decided to make a list of the things i am grateful for instead. yes, it’s a bit cheesy and cliche, but i believe that focusing on the positive does help with ones mental health in the long run.

 

so, here we go.

1. great FREE healthcare : we have had a lot of sickness in our family. pneumonia, kidney infections, strep throat, fevers and so on and so on. i am so grateful for having a family doctor who is available and free for us to visit when we need to.

2. our home : we had someone break into our house and steal my phone at the beginning of september. that kinda threw us for a loop; having us question our safety, our children’s safety, as we felt violated and vulnerable. since then we have had some smaller incidents at the house, which raised the hairs on our arms. at the end of the day i have come to understand that i cannot control what other’s do to me, to my home, to my things. but, as a mama it is my responsibility to continue teaching my kids those important lessons in life about what’s right and wrong and how to stay safe. i am grateful for our home, where we can have these conversations, the place that keeps us warm and dry.

3. my family : yes, they drive me batty, push my buttons, talk back to me, ignore me, yell at me, get sassy on me, upset me,  …but more importantly they kiss me, hug me, make me laugh, snuggle me, smile when they see me, create art for me, bake me my favourite treats, and they really, REALLY do love me!

 

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happy thanksgiving everyone!

xo, mama lola

BAT craft round-up!


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this BATTY round-up of bat crafts is intended for slightly older school aged kids. my kids, 5 and 7 love to get crafty and are often looking for slightly more challenging projects to get involved in. the brooch is actually an adult craft, but i thought with some adult assistance a kid could absolutely sew an adorable bat brooch! right?!

halloween is a month away and it’s time to decorate, a little at least! we’re not going to do too much outside this year as the road in front of our house is under major construction, but we will definitely put some fun decorations up inside. kitten friendly ones of course, leo our wee one is always jumping after anything and everything that hangs! haha!

ok, so here are the pictures and sources to each craft!

aren’t they just battyest ever!

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bat origami from layers of learning

 

bats2

nocturnal animal craft : bat hat from green kid crafts

 

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felt bat halloween brooch from do small things with love

 

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paper bat puppet from made by joel

 

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it’s getting batty around here (DIY) from buggie & jellybean

hope everyone is enjoying this transition to fall.

the weather has finally cooled and the air is crisp with fall!

xo, mama lola

the robbery


we’ve had a tough week transitioning back to the school routine. there have been chaotic mornings, injured kids and awkward dinners prepped by yours truly.

but, to make our week even more stressful we had a theft in our home. 

on saturday evening lion, now 5 years, touched the stove while DH was cooking dinner. poor kid burnt the tip of his finger, which meant there were lots of tears for a lot of hours that evening. we all know that even the smallest burn can really hurt for a long time! so, at bedtime lion fell asleep with his finger in a bowl of ice water as DH was reading harry potter to the boys. but, then he woke up when his finger moved or something causing the pain to kick in all over again, meaning the tears started all over again as well.

i was on the couch watching tv and playing scrabble on my phone when i heard the crying start. i put my phone on our dining table on my way upstairs. it was about 9pm when DH headed out to get more ice. he came back after about 10 minutes, but i sent him back out to see if the pharmacy had any lotion or potion to help with the burn site. as i sat with my wee guy trying to help him through the pain he kept repeating “i shouldn’t have done that”. augh, my heart! we talked about learning from our mistakes and trying not to feel badly about our choices. DH finally came home and we got the boys settled.

when we returned downstairs to watch a movie i was scanning the rooms for my phone. as a creature of habit i was confused why i couldn’t find it, but DH suggested we just wait until the morning when there is day light to do a proper search. so in the morning before even having breakfast we searched, high n’ low moving furniture, crawling on our hands and knees, calling it, texting it… then i got this weird, sinking feeling… what if someone had stolen it? DH thought i was being dramatic, but when hour 3 of our search still turned up nothing he too was becoming suspicious. he called the phone company and had service to my phone cut off. then we got a text from our service provider saying we had used up 75% of our data for the month.

BOOM! confirmation. right there. stolen phone.

DH called the police.

a police officer arrived, took our statements and told us it sounded like a crime of opportunity to him. the thief had seen DH pull out of the driveway in our car and thought hey now’s a good time. when the thief walked in they would have heard my lion screaming upstairs from his burn injury! that’s the part that angers me most; we were in our own family crisis when this random person did this horrible, selfish thing to us. sure our front door was unlocked, but we were home! i had just been on the couch a few minutes earlier!

in the past couple of days i have shared this experience with others, and to my shagrim i have heard similar tales of theft. we live in a city of about 100, 000 people, and we had assumed that moving from a city of millions to something smaller would make life safer. i guess not!

lessons learned:

  • keep your doors locked, even when home, ALWAYS!
  • always turn porch light on at night
  • keep valuables, like electronics hidden from windows
  • everyone is a target. doesn’t seem to matter what neighbourhood, street or city you live in. (see next point)
  • some people just suck!

i don’t think i’ll ever see that phone again.

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i am sad that i have lost so many fun pictures and videos from our summer adventures (oh, another lesson learned… back up phone stuff!) i’m irritated that my home has this peculiar feeling of violation still floating in the air. i am confused as to whether or not i can open the windows on the main floor; should i lock them when i head to the grocery store? i am pissed that there are people in this world who don’t care about what’s right and wrong, about common decency and who only care about their own selves. i will ride this wave and let go of these feelings moving onto the next chapter of our life. i will not let this person squirm into my mind or mess with my psyche. things will be fine.

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source

 

stay safe friends.

xo, mama lola

back-to-school : sew your own pencil roll-up case!


school for my boys starts tomorrow!!!

it’s hard to believe summer is over, even though at times i was feeling quite burnt out and tired. my boys are ready to go back to school, see their friends and meet their teachers. i am ready for them to return, as well.

i don’t really do much in preparation for back-to-school. i am always looking for deals on things and will stock up on sale things. but, this year bear had a request…

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my bear told me he needed a pencil case as he enters grade 2. i thought that sounded quite reasonable, so i decided to sew up something fun for him, instead of buying one. and, of course i had to search for some design and sewing ideas!!!

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here are some roll up pencil cases i used as inspiration for my own design. these bloggers have shared fantastic pictures and tutorials for this sewing project so i will spare you my horrid instructions.

i will say this that to sew up bear’s pencil case took about 90 minutes from start to finish. that includes finding fabric in my basement, ironing, filling my bobbins and fixing some mistakes. all-in-all it’s not a very difficult project!

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10 minute pencil roll from my poppet makes

 

pencil roll 2

no sew coloured pencil roll from small + friendly

 

pencil roll 3

make a colourful roll-up pencil case from guide central

 

bear’s pencil roll-up case was  a surprise and he was thrilled with it when i showed it to him. he immediately went to the art room and chose which supplies he needed. it was pretty sweet watching him kiss it! haha!

HAPPY BACK-TO-SCHOOL!

xo, mama lola

wish me luck: it’s also back-to-school for me, eeeeek!!


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as summer starts to wind down, i tend to get a little introspective about my life. it’s probably the smell of change in the air; the new routines, different clothes,  the stewy recipes i so adore! transitions can be tricky, but this year i think for us, for me, it’ll be one of the simplest falls yet. kids are both eager to go back to school, to see their friends and dive into that familiar life.

this will be my second year alone at home, but this year things will be different for me. i have applied to go back to school and finish my women’s studies degree via distance education. it’s a huge leap for me having been out of school for a few years. i finished my second year of uni, while bear was 2 years old, lion was still in my belly and i had a terrible tumour growing in my head! in hindsight i am amazed that i was able to do all of that!

now, i will have two kids at school, better health and peace at home to do homework and complete whatever academic demands are thrust upon me.

i am feeling very inadequate however. my mommy brain has left me terrified about writing essays, studying for exams and generally participating in the world of academia. my insecurities seem to have all risen to the surface in the last few weeks. some may tell me “oh, that’s silly. you’re gonna do great”. sure, i guess, but that doesn’t make me feel more confident, that can only come from within me and with time. 

now i wait. i am waiting to see which credits are transferable from me previous college and university experiences. i completed an honours diploma in addiction and mental health counselling many moons ago. i loved that course working hard to achieve that honours standing. i have about a half of a women’s studies degree, but the higher ups at the university i was attending decided to cancel the program. it was a very upsetting, ironic and stupid! 

anyhow, now i have found this university that specifically caters to online learning, which is perfect for me and my big ol’ bag of insecurities. it will be easier for me complete the work without also having to attend lectures. i am trying to do what’s best for me, while also fulfilling a promise i made to myself I WOULD FINISH WHAT I STARTED!

so… here we go! i have to print these positive affirmations and post them around my house! haha!

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wish me luck friends!

my kids and DH are all very excited and supportive of me!

i will keep you posted!

xo, mama lola

back-to-school with brother label maker!


i keep saying in my blog and to my friends that i don’t want to wish my summer away. and, i don’t. but, let’s be real here, school starts in a matter of weeks and it’s time to start planning. i don’t actually need to do too much shopping this year, but i do have to re-do a bunch of labels. thanks to brother it’s going to be super easy and fast and FUN!

and, let me be clear here. this brother p-touch PT-D600 labeller is not your traditional label maker. this beauty can make custom labels in 6 different widths, has an awesome colour display, has lotsa funky fonts, can be connected to your computer, makes fabric iron on labels, comes with cute symbols & pictures! such fun!

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i’m no techno whiz, but i found this machine easy to use, and FUN! the boys love that they can easily ask for a label for a school item… voila, lunch box labelled… pencil box done! well, you get the idea! haha!

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i want to label everything in my house now!

 

*this post is sponsored by brother brand, but the images and opinions expressed are my own.

xo, mama lola

day of the dead felt craft.

 

day of the dead, halloween, skulls, sugar skulls

 

i just love the look of the day of the dead sugar skulls. if you google or go on pinterest for images, there a zillions of colourful ideas and projects!  if you’re not feeling crafty and want to buy some fantastic sugar skulls, etsy is full of creative people selling their projectslikeflower pots, garlands and more. (pinterest has lots of links to etsy shops.)

 

so, i made some simple sugar skulls from felt and here’s what i did…

 

MATERIALS:

colourful felt

scissors

embroidery thread and needle

glue gun and glue

stuffing

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. cut out the skull shapes. i chose to just cut them free hand deciding to do the front and back in different colours. i liked the way a more asymmetrical skull looked vs. a symmetrical one.

2. then i just started cutting shapes out of other colours of felt. an upside down heart makes for a great nose! once i liked the way something looked i used a glue gun to stick them to the skulls. then i stitched the mouths on.

3. sew the two sides together using a blanket stitch. leave a small opening to fill the sugar skulls with stuffing and then continue stitching.

4. voilĂ ! such fun and colourful decorations!

 

day of the dead, sugar skulls, felt crafts

felt crafts, sugar skulls, day of the dead

day of the dead, felt crafts, sugar skulls, halloween

i’m super pleased with them! each sugar skull took about 30 minutes to make. i’ll be making a few more and then making a  garland out of all of them!

 

day of the dead

 

here’s some of my favourite places where i found inspiration : casa artelexia made those colourful sugar skulls with sequence eyes, pear mama made those awesome potato stamped tea towels and alisa burke painted the gorgeous, detailed rocks!

 

happy crafting!

xo, mama lola

DIY halloween lights!

DIY halloween lights, halloween, crafts, lights

 

check out what we made! i got the idea from landeelu.

during our current reno it’s hard to get too involved in crafty-goodness as everything is packed away in boxes or hidden in a corner under a pile of stuff. so this project was perfect, few materials and nothing to clean up. my boys loved, LOVED this craft. i bought a box of 30 ping pong balls from canadian tire for $10 and sharpies from target for $8, sounds expensive but the markers will last a while and we didn’t actually use all of the balls. i found a string of green x-mas lights in the basement, which i thought were perfect for spooky halloween lights!

 

*i did let both kids use permanent markers, but you don’t have to!

 

halloween lights, ping pong balls, crafts

check-out the spooky mummy, eye ball and pair of bats my boys drew!

halloween decorations, crafts, ping pong balls

sharpies, crafts

MATERIALS:

ping pong balls

permanent markers

exacto knife

string of x-mas lights

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. decorate each ping pong ball. we did all kinds of halloween themed drawings like bats, pumpkins, bleeding spider web, eyeballs and a mummy! spoooooky!

2. cut an X on the ping pong ball with an exacto knife. attach to light string. (consider which way you want your eyeball or other image to face once attached to light string)

3. hang in a place where they can be admired and plug in!

 

halloween lights, ping pong ball crafts, halloween

hope you love making your lights as much as we did!

xo, mama lola
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