Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's that time of year again...
     The time of year when you run the other way after seeing someone you know in the store. Not because you don't like them but because amidst all the bustle you simply don't have time to stop and chat...after all you have to buy gifts!
     The time of year when your kids are stressed out because they have to remember who they stand next to on their performance Wednesday, when to walk on stage Sunday and for goodness sake "Clap on Beat One!"
     The time of year when every event and every person you know that is involved in something needs you to make cookies even though everyone already has too many sweets at home and are probably still in a sugar coma from Halloween and Thanksgiving.

It's Christmas! If your family is anything like ours you are in a constant battle with the world around you, on an epic journey, looking for the holy grail of life...that thing called (drum roll please) balance. In an effort to achieve that balance (and fight off my youngest who doesn't understand he can't put a star on the tree today because it's not his turn) I have started a second Advent countdown.

This one is much like the other (our Christmas Tree). The concept is simple; put something new up every day. One of our children add a star to the tree while the other adds a magnet to the fridge. We are working on building a nativity scene.

The balance part of this project comes with the second part. Each day the kids get a slip of paper that has instructions on it. Our tasks include activities like: Go for a winter walk, read the Christmas story, buy and donate a toy, play a game, do a puzzle, make a craft project, buy groceries for a family in need, call a family member just to say hi, write a letter to a family member, choose a gift (from a little gift basket) go for a drive to see the Christmas lights, or write a short story as a family. The kids get to find out each day what new activity they are going to do. So far, this has been a huge hit! It also work well with our busy schedule; since I get to plan the activities I just pick quick things on days I know we are going to be busy and save the longer activities for day when I know we will have the time.

Here is what we are building on our fridge:
If you would like to do this craft you will need:
8 jumbo craft sticks
some card stock/construction paper
and a few odds and ends (yarn, markers, gems, etc)


Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Tree Countdown

This is a project my family did last year and really love. I think it is worth sharing. We wanted a Christmas countdown for our kids but we wanted to make it. After much online research this is what we came up with.
The kids place a star on the tree or board each day leading up to Christmas. They are so excited to be able to add a star to the board and love counting how many are left in the box. This project was another one that was really, really simple and fun.
You will need:
- a metal tray (we went thrift shopping and found one for $.10
- Paint
-Craft Sealer
- 25 wooden stars (a visit to your local craft store)
our store also had circles and we considered making little ornaments but the kids wanted stars
- 25 magnetic backs (again local craft store/shopping center)
- Paint the tray
- Add a tree
- Paint the starts
- Spray with a sealer (a few coats)
- Add the magnetic backs to the starts
- Begin your countdown
It really is that easy.

Easy Christmas Angel

 In the spirit of keeping with our newly found Holiday crafting rules we have now completed our first Christmas craft - a coffee filter angle. We have made these angels three years in a row and each year the kids love making them. They are already asking if we can make another.

To make your very own Christmas angel you will need:
- 3 coffee filters
- 2 cotton balls
- string/yarn
- a pipe cleaner
- glue
- decorating supplies glitter, markers, googly eyes, etc. (optional)

In the past we have make plain, white angels, we have colored them with markers and we have painted our angels. This year we decided to use markers and then spray the colored filters with a water bottle.

First, decorate the coffee filters. Two of the filters will form the body of the angel (and head), one will become the wings. If you want to draw eyes on your angel you can place the cotton balls in the center of one of the coffee filters and wrap the filter around the cotton. This will show you where your head is going to be located.

                                                                                                  Make a sandwich with two coffee filters and the cotton balls. Lay one filter down on the table with the "wrong side" up. Place both cotton balls in the center of the coffee filter. Sandwich the cotton balls with the second coffee filter placed "wrong side" up.
                                                                                                    Now wrap the cotton balls with the filters to form a head. Tie your string/yarn around the cotton balls to form a head and keep the second filter from falling.  Tie the ends of the string together to form a loop if you want to hang your angel up. (ornament)
The next step is to fold the third cotton filter in half.
Pinch the filter in the middle to form wings.

Cut a pipe cleaner in half. Wrap on end around the wings to hold them in place and then form a halo with the remainder of the pipe cleaner.
Glue your wings onto the back of you angel and you are finished. Or add eyes/mouth/glitter/sequins or anything else you can imagine.

The best kind of Turkey

Craft time is here once again. Otherwise known as the Holidays! It seems each year as we approach the Holiday season our family finds ourselves deeply immersed into the world of crafting. You have Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas all in a row each one begging for a craft or two to be devoted to the day.
This year is seems we are busier than ever (although it is entirely possible that I have just placed a huge barrier between myself and memories of busyness from previous years.) As we approach this crafting season it seems I may have some different criteria from previous seasons.

1. Keep it Simple (It will help with everyone's sanity)
2. Keep it Cheap (most of these items will not stick around for too long)
3. Use items that can be found around the house
4. Plan, Plan, Plan

With these basic rules in mind I attacked my computer looking for a Thanksgiving craft. I scoured pintrest and other favorite sites for project ideas. I found many beautiful ideas that I would love to execute and have placed in wonder nooks and crannies for the Holidays but alas, I don't have nooks in my house and the crannies are definitely not filled with beautiful, completed craft items. I remind myself to keep it simple and cheap - after all those are the crafts the kids really love.

In the end, I found a wonderful Thanksgiving turkey. I was able to use items already in my house and my oldest could do the craft all by herself. (Independence is becoming increasingly important to her.)

Here is what you will need to make your own Thanksgiving Turkey - the easy way.
- An empty toilet paper roll
- Colored paper (we used card stock)
- Google eyes or markers/pen/crayon
- Glue
- Scissors

 Cut a body out of brown paper to go over one end of the tube. I used the tube as a template - trace the end of the tube, go up a few inches and trace another circle (a bottle cap will work for the smaller circle) and draw lines to connect them. You will also need to cut out feet, a wattle, feathers and a beak. For the beak I cut out two small triangles, folded over a small flap on the fat end of the triangle (the side I was going to attach to the bird), then I folded each triangle in half. When I glued the flap onto the face it made the beak stand out.

The feet will help your bird stand - Be careful not to make them too small.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Bathtime Staple

Today I almost feel like I am cheating with this post because it is so simple. That being said sometimes simplicity can bring pure joy. In this case, that's exactly what my 3 year old feels when we make up shaving cream paint. This activity is a pintrest favorite for a reason!

Here is all you need:
  • Food Coloring
  • Shaving Cream
  • A Paintbrush or Two (even your hands will work)
  • A Muffin Pan
  • A Young Child in need of a bath
Put some shaving cream into each muffin spot in your tin and mix with food coloring. Put your little one in the bath and supply them with all the art supplies they need. I have seen some posts where people were concerned with staining from the food coloring. I have never had an issue with that but then again, I don't use a ton of coloring either.

I hope you find this useful and a quick, fun activity!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Please, pick up the stick!

It's that beautiful time of year when the leaves are turning, the air is cool and the temperatures are reasonable once again. It is time to get out into nature and explore. (or at least go for a quick walk) At least this is what I tell myself. The reality is often a different picture altogether...

Here is the truth (and nothing but the truth) get ready, you might recognize a part of yourself. It's time for a walk - I tell the kids. They are excited and can't wait to get outside. We do the bathroom thing and make sure each child is fully clothed. Inevitably, they will be wearing stylish clothing in an effort to look cute in case I decide I want to take some pictures. I will brush hair and maybe even put in a braid - a girls got to be ready at all times. Myself, on the other hand - I am just grateful that workout pants on a walk are entirely acceptable - and the hair? A ponytail fits the bill, on a good day I will actually get all my hair into the ponytail. (I'm the one taking the pictures, remember?)

We are set to begin our journey. And believe me, a walk often turns in a journey of epic proportions. (Not always the good kind of epic either) I load the kids in the car and we drive to our favorite location. It's a nice walking path in a wooded area. The kids immediately being running around like they have never been outside before in their lives. They start scavenging for everything! I think they have a strong tie to hunting and gathering societies. I often wonder what would happen if I stopped feeding them. Maybe, they would bring home food instead of rocks...just a thought. Once we have started out in the proper direction the hunting beings. The children will begin to collect sticks and rocks.

A perfect walking stick is a top priority. Each stick is picked up and examined. It must be straight, but not too tall. Interesting, but not too crazy. Large, but not too heavy. Sturdy, but not too thick. You can see that the perfect stick must stand up to a series of tests. Once they have finally found the most amazing stick they will immediately begin to look for a better one. If a stick show potential for beating out it's rival I will have to hold the incumbent stick. Obviously, the old stick can not be cast away unless the new stick, does indeed, prove to be a better option. Often times, the old stick must still be retained just in case something happens to the new stick. By this time, we have usually made it far enough that I can still see the car in the parking lot. I often wonder if we should have just went stick hunting instead.

I will encourage the kids to just walk. Eventually, I will ban the picking up of any new sticks. It will be then that a stick breaks, or gets forgotten at some really cool point of interest. I will have discarded the extra (during a time when no one was watching) and now we have a problem.  The kids are upset, I am standing by my rule (because after all, I really did want to walk), there is no hope of taking pictures (picking up stick after stick can cause an awful lot of damage to a carefully chosen outfit), and it may be time to go home.

After returning to the house frustrated a few walks in a row I came up with an idea. I loaded the kids up and we went on a stick hunt. We walked around and looked at stick after stick until we found the absolute best walking stick a kid could ever imagine. We loaded the stick into the car and took it home. (The kids thought I had lost it since no stick ever comes home with us) The stick was treated to it's own personal makeover as the kids painted their walking sticks and made a project they loved. My husband sprayed a sealer on the sticks once the paint and set and the result was fantastic.

When we start a walk my kids already have the best walking stick in the woods. It passes all the tests and with the custom paint job no other stick comes close. We start and finish our walk with one stick each and actually get to enjoy walking and looking at other things in the woods. (Like the great sand hill cranes that were previously ignored in favor of new sticks.)

Next task? Figure out what to do with all the rocks the kids now bring back...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The difference between Multi-task and Multiply

         I have recently learned a little more about two words that are frequently confused. What words you may ask? (Or, like most people you may have already guessed due to the title of this entry) Yes, those words are multi-task and multiply. Now, before you think "this woman has completely gone crazy!" Let me explain. I think you will find you have the same problem.
        If you ask me if I can multi-task I would say yes but, some part of me (not so deep inside) would believe that I can really multiply.
        I can cook dinner, keep track of the children, and listen to something on the radio. I can read and have a conversation (yes, I really can.) I can talk to you while planning out my day and getting my children dressed. Those are all great examples of multi-tasking that most of us could probably do. So what's the problem? It's the next step.
       I like to think that I can help you pack for your vacation while keeping my house clean.  I imagine that I can spend meaningful time with my children, so they behave at night, while running an entire day's worth of errands. I often fool myself into thinking that I can get the children into bed at a good time, the house picked up, have time to read, get some work done and get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Crazy, right? Now I have crossed the line. What we are talking about is no longer multi-tasking, but, instead the need to multiply. I often find that I need at least two or more of me in order to complete the things I have planned.
       This was most recently the case when I decided that I could start a blog, do meaningful projects with my kids, make projects for my sisters upcoming wedding and student teach. The need to multiply had never been greater and my powers of supreme multi-tasking were failing in a huge way. That being said, I did manage to make a few projects with the kids and we all made it through student teaching with only a few limbs missing and most of our sanity. I am excited to say projects have resumed, and hopefully, so has posting.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The first few weeks

Our family has jumped full swing into a very busy schedule. We are frequently out of the house for 10 to 12 hours a day. This kind of schedule is all new to the kids. Here are some of the results:

  • My youngest will dose off and at any sound, jump up, and say "go nigh night?"
  • My oldest (who is 6) had many boyfriends at school. She dumped all but one...
  • She dumped the final boy telling him that once she is old enough to date she will find him again and date him until she finds the man she wants to marry. Then she will dump him and marry her husband.
  • My youngest enjoys coloring but wonders why I do so much of it. Each night as I sit down to work, grab a pen and paper, he looks at me and says in a confused voice "Coloring again momma?"
  • The best part of the day is when I finish coloring.
  • My oldest does not mind being an early riser as long as we spend time talking.
  • My youngest has become a bed-time nazi and tells me when to go to bed. He has also determined that if he is in trouble it is because I am crabby and need to go to bed.
  • At the end of a long day all snack food WILL end up on the floor.
  • Hitting is not a solution but no one seems to agree with me.
  • Even if you think you are going to bed at a good time 5 am is still too early.
  • Dinner tastes so much better when someone else makes it.
  • I can be traded in at the sitters house for apples, cars, tv, chocolate milk, friends, trains, thomas, blankets, or just about anything.
  • When it is -22 degrees outside everyone should just stay home!
It is going to be a long semester but we are finding and cherishing the good moments. I think we might just make it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let the Confetti fall..(New Year's Eve part 3)

Our balloons were ready to fall and the races were over. Now what should we do? Confetti poppers seemed like the perfect solution. The was a great project! It is simple to do and yet would be acceptable for many different age groups.  To make our poppers we used a tube from a roll of wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, construction paper, cardstock, a hole punch, yarn, beads, tape, glue and other random craft supplies. This is a great project to use up left over craft items. If you put it on the table someone will find a way to use it!

We started by cutting our wrapping paper roll into quarters. Toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls would also work well.
Cut paper to fit the size of your rolls and glue in place. Once your paper is covering the tubes the fun begins. You can now unleash the crafty ones...or let the kids use the craft items. Either way will get the job done. Decorate your tubes however you like, but don't place anything so it hangs over or from the bottom.
Once you have made your tube glamorous it is time to make the bottom. Trace around the bottom of the tube onto cardstock or other heavy paper. Cut out a circle a little bit smaller than the one you traced. 

Glue the cardstock circle onto a 4" (estimated) square of tissue paper. Poke a hole through the center and thread yarn through the hole. Tie a bead (or 2, which worked even better) onto the yarn. Make sure the bead is on the side of the tissue paper with the cardstock showing. Cut the yarn however long you are going to want your pull string to be.

Now you can glue your tissue paper around the bottom of your decorated tube. Put a line of glue around the outside of the tube and attach the tissue paper square so that the cardstock circle acts as a stop for the confetti that you will be putting inside. Hole punch a hole in the top of the tube on either side and thread yarn through to hang your popper.

You can make a cap for your confetti popper by cutting out a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Cut a slit in the circle from one edge to the center.

Fold the circle into a cone or maybe hat shape? Glue the edge down and cut the tip off to provide a small hole to thread the yarn through. I put a bead on both pieces of yarn first and slid it down on the string so that it would help support the cone. Slide the cone down onto your tube.

Add the confetti.  We just cut up  pieces of construction paper and filled our poppers with those. A few added beads were a nice surprise when the string were pulled. The noise they made when they hit the floor was really exciting for the kids.

You are now ready to hang up your creation. We just taped ours to the ceiling but then we had to put a little pressure on the tape when it came time to pull the string. It worked and the kids did not mind a bit but there is probably a "proper" way to secure things such as this.

We were now ready for midnight. We only had to wait...and wait...and wait. We made pizza, watched a movie and waited. My 2 year old, J, was just about done. At about 10 he was tired. By 11 cranky! By 11:30 he was telling us all to go to bed. At 11:50 he was climbing into bed no matter what! We convinced him to come back out into the livingroom and the fun began! (again of course, since we had fun earlier too)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Off to the Races...New Year's Eve Continues

Once we had our balloon drop ready to go we had to take some time to play. We decided to have a good ol' round of balloon races. If you have never done this get ready, you are in for a treat.

Step One: Find some yarn/string and tape it somewhere. (The table, wall, staircase) We used the table it was a good height. You will want the height of the string to be at a comfortable level. so everyone involved can easily reach it.You can attach the other end of the yarn to an alternate surface at the same or slightly higher height. We opted to just hold ours but at times the balloons came off the yarn.

Step Two: Blow up the balloons (do not tie them) and attach straws or pen casings. We had a few pens around the house that came apart easily and the casings worked great for this activity. You should attach the straws/tubes to the outermost part of the balloon so it does not rub on the yarn. A little packaging tape will do the trick. (Getting different shaped balloons might make this easier)

Step Three: Slide the tubes onto the yarn or string, blow up the balloons and let them fly. You will be off to the Balloon Races too.

* A word of caution after a few uses the balloons may pop while you are blowing them up. Trade out balloons often or just be careful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year's Eve Spectacular

Our family took a trip to New York a few years ago and I believe a part of that city somehow attached itself to my daughter H. She is in love with the city and everything that goes with it. For that reason, the New Year's Eve ball drop is a big event in our house. This year may have been one of the best! Our family decided to plan and execute "A New Year's Eve Spectacular". (Said in your best announcer voice) We shopped, gathered supplies, crafted, settled disputes, crafted some more, used scissors a ton, settled a few more disputes, ate, played games, and crafted and came up with a great evening.

We started our evening off by designing our very own balloon drop. We used balloons, craft supplies we dug out of the abyss that is know as the closet, rings from canning jars, yarn and a bit of duct tape.  
Blow up your balloon and begin to decorate. We used glitter, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pom poms, sequins, buttons, and anything else we could round up.
To help stabilize the balloons while they were being decorated and give them a nice perch to dry on, we wrapped pipe cleaners around the knot on the balloon. We then threaded beads onto the pipe cleaners and folded the ends over to hold the beads on. We then put the pipe cleaners into large glasses and jars. They weighted the balloons down just enough to keep them in the jars and allow us to decorate.

We tied yarn around the knot on the balloon and cut the tail really long (almost 16 feet). Taping canning jar rings to the ceiling and then treading the yarn through the rings worked as a great way to set up our balloons. We pulled the balloons up to the ceiling and then taped the bottom of the yarn off until it was time to drop the balloons. The weighted pipe cleaners were perfect to help the balloons drop.
Balloons decorated, hung and ready for the "balloon drop" at midnight!