Friday, December 30, 2011

Fancy Necklace T-Shirts - Make 'Em With Kids

Long title but it is true. What is better for a little girl than an art project that she can make and wear? What is better for a momma than an art project that costs $0 if you keep art supplies on hand (or almost $0) and is actually useful and not tacky? These shirts that we made for Christmas presents are a perfect combination. They would also be great for Valentine's Day if you did lots of red and pink.

If you only have boys you are out of luck on this one. Maybe they could make them to give as gifts - if you have the patient enough for crafts and can be trusted with permanent paint kinda boys.

Okay, enough of that. Here is what you need.
  • T-Shirt (If you already have a plain one at home its perfect. If it has a stain from a spill, just plan your design to cover it up. I'm telling you it will be perfect!)
  • Cork from a bottle of wine
  • T-shirt paint
  • Old hair ribbon in colors that coordinate with the paint
  • Cardboard
  • Newspaper
  • Sharpie
To start, make sure the shirt is clean. Cover the workspace with newspaper and insert a scrap of cardboard in the shirt. We use empty cereal boxes for kids shirts and a wheat thins box for a baby shirt.

Then use the Sharpie to draw lines for the beads to go on. Squirt some paint on to another piece of cardboard. Then you just use the wine cork as a stamp to make "beads" on the "necklace." If the paint colors get swirled together a bit its fine and end up looking cool.

I think it looks better with a little space between the beads, but my daughter didn't agree.....

When the necklaces are filled with beads, let the shirts dry and then tack on a bow with some thread and a needle. We raided the hair ribbon stash and then ironed a ribbon flat before making the bow.

Project complete.

1st Birthday in Photos

Little Man's first birthday may have been my favorite party so far. (Of the kids parties I've thrown. The grown up ones are totally different!) It had lots of great DIY projects and so much love. What started out as a small family gathering turned into 25 people including the kids.

Without further delay, here are some of the details in pictures.

Banner tutorial here.

Wanna make these cool cars? Here you go.
I know. I know. No people pictures. I totally put my camera down and enjoyed the celebration once the guests arrived. Grandma has more. I will try to add them soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Final Push

The final push is on to wrap up holiday projects. I had really hoped to have at least some of them done earlier to share, but guess how that turned out? Not exactly as planned. As I attempt to get everything done in the next 36 hours, here are some of the pictures of projects that are complete and some still in progress (cookies being worked on by my special assistant as I type!).

A few of these are gifts, so if you live in my house, are a cousin or grandmother that we will see on Christmas stop reading!

Lets start with the projects that have gone well.

1. Necklace Shirts.

Washed shirts, used a cork from a wine bottle and dipped it in swirled paint. Made it look like a necklace and added a bow. Super love this one. My own creation. Hope you enjoy. Very easy if you have a girl.

2. Plastic Bottle Snowmen

Saved up a few plastic drink bottles. Modge podged white tissue, cut a hole in the bottom for a battery operated candle, spray painted the lids black and used beads that we had on hand to make faces. Oh - the ribbons were left over from another project. This idea was not mine, totally swiped it from Family Fun magazine.

3. 12 Ounce Reindeer.

Filled up a make your own six pack at total wine. Then used googly eyes from the dollar store, beads from our art supplies and pipe cleaners from my Mom's classroom (score!). Big Girl helped with this one. If you try it at home don't use Gorilla Glue. Its normally one of my favorites, but it just didn't hold on beer bottles. Hot glue was way better. Large gift bag + white tissue and its waiting under our tree.

Okay, so on to the blah projects.

1. JOY candle holder. Also from Family Fun. Tin foil, glass jars from the recycling bin. Printed letter on the computer, put them on top of the foil, empty egg carton underneath and punched with a nail. Another Big Girl project. Looks was cooler in the photo which is at night. Maybe ours will be better without the lights on too. For now, I think they look pretty junky. Hope grandma likes them anyway!

Now the cookies.

Going well. I'll let the pictures tell the story here.

If I had known that watching them bake would be the highlight of the project and how long it would occupy the kids, I would have been baking daily for the last few weeks.

"That's not enough to keep you so busy you can't blog," you say? I've also been cleaning up after a quite mischievous elf. Look at the trouble and messes this one has been up to. Might as well have another kid!

Look at those photography skills. I even cut the elf's head off. Maybe she will tell Santa I need an SLR.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cardboard Box Cars

Kids love cardboard boxes. Crawling in them. Crawling out of them. Teething on them.

This isn't my baby. No way I could get that great of a photo.

As they get bigger, kids still play with boxes. They do goofy things like put a box on their head and dance around the yard.

When they get bigger, they turn them into goofy Halloween costumes.

Or furniture.

Or they make them into art.

Wait. That was me. About two months ago.

Little Man is no exception. He loves a good box. He also loves cars. So, for his first birthday I combined his passions to get this.

All I really needed was time to gather the buttons and assemble. I made one for each of the kids that attended the party to play with while they were there and then take home as their party favor.

I enjoyed the project. The kids enjoyed them at the party.

Here are some diagrams of the how they were put together.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rockin' Birthday Banner

I was inspired to have lots of cute DIY projects for Little Man's first birthday. It happened in a moment of sheer Mommy madness. You know the kind, when you forget the you have a full time job, a week long vacation and two kids that need you and only focus in on the incredibly cute and time consuming details. Okay. Maybe you don't know exactly what I'm talking about here, but maybe you do.

During that exact moment - of unparalleled ambition - I blogged about all the big fist birthday party plans. By some miracle of family. Including sister-in-law craftiness and grandma's turning into Mary Poppins (yep. both of them pulling off Mary Poppins magic at the same time) all the details came together.

Of the final results, my favorite project was the birthday banner beer labels car cake birthday banner.

Clearly they were all super cute. Even if the cardboard box cars didn't turn out quite as cool as the ones I found on pintrest. Honesty people. Honesty.

I had planned to give a little DIY break down on the banner and the cardboard box cars and maybe even the cake. Since I've already had a few requests for the banner details - and the pattern that I worked up - I'm gonna start with that.

So, it all started with some uber cute banners that I saw on Etsy and Pintrest.

Pintrest Banner by Nicole Wind

Etsy Banner by JustBeccuz
I liked the little boy feel of the first one and the squares from the second one. After picking out paper from my scrapbook stash (have I mentioned I used to scrapbook?!) to coordinate with the other party materials, this is what I came up with.

 A pretty rockin' birthday banner.

It was really pretty easy, and certainly cost less than the Etsy ones.

Start with standard 12x12 scrapbook paper. Use a paper cutter to cut each page into 6" squares. (Half across the middle then in half again.)

Then cut around the edges of each square with scallopped scissors.

Next use a template that I designed to type up and print the text. (leave your e-mail address in comments and I can send it to you. MS Word doc's don't load to the blog.)

I purchased scrapbook paper (five pages at $.69 each) to get the cardboard look. If you start with a 12x12 square, use the paper cutter to trim it each page to 8.5x11.

Glue, twine from the garage (normally sometimes used to tie limbs together to take them to the curb).


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Elf on the Shelf Adventures

Our Elf on the Shelf spends most of his days sitting around. Every once in awhile she gets crazy. Maybe she is finding ideas of how to stir up trouble on Pintrest.

Does your elf get wild and crazy?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gifts for No. 2

When you have your first child every toy, every blanket, every little outfit is new - at least to your family. If you shop consignments sales and cherish hand-me-downs like we do, you also teach your kids that being new doesn't always mean a straight off the toy store box or tags from the mall. It really means something great that is new to you.

That worked great with the first child. Now we are on child number two. When our oldest was little I always knew I wanted more kids, so I bought many of the infant and toddler items - especially toys - in unisex colors. So far its been great. My second child is enjoying many treats as he grows without breaking the bank or even running to the store. Its just a quick climb up to the attic and he has a new book or truck or whatever.

Now its Christmas. I've got a two big. BIG. Plastic tubs of age appropriate toys that I pulled down. Some of the toys in them I didn't even remember having. Its like Christmas morning in a box and we didn't have to pay for it.

Before I go on, let me say that we like to be frugal, but we aren't cheap. We use coupons, but we don't buy stuff or pick it up at the store just because its a deal if we aren't going to use it.... Okay. So maybe I just covered this in the whole "we saved our toddler toys" section. I'll move on.

So should we or shouldn't we just wrap up whats in the attic for the Little Man for Christmas? Its all new to him. Big Sister doesn't remember most of it.

Before you make your decision judge me/us, take a look at this list of the items that we have and how much they would cost on Ebay and

1. Little People Fire Truck   
 - $36.99 collectibale - ha! - used
 - $12.99 used

2. Little People Bus in yellow
 - $19.99 used     
 - $32.99 new

3. Fisher Price Peek-A-Boo Blocks in a big case
 - $19.99 used

4. Wagon for Fisher Price Peek-A-Boo Blocks
 - $19.99 used without as many block as we have, extra blocks go for $12.99 for four
- $42.99 new without as many blocks as we have. I didn't pay this much. It was a two coupon and wait till its on sale situation. I think I paid $25.

5. Fisher Price Gumball Machine
 - $7.99 used

6. Kettler Trike
 - $219 new
 - $129 used

7. Eric Carl Board Books (we have four)
 - $11.99 to $5.99 each new
 - $30 (what are they thinking?) to $2.50 each used

Its a lot of money. Right? So, I'm asking for your feedback. What would you do?

There is a Reason its Called the Windy City

Sunday after Thanksgiving we packed up the troops and headed to the Windy City. It was actually a pretty easy "pack up" and drive since we were already in Northern Indiana for a Fantastic Family Wedding.

It was a whirlwind adventure. In three days we managed to catch most of the big name attractions for families and some of the smaller ones as well.

We also battled high winds. Not just the normal Chicago winds, but the kind that prompt locals to stand against the Hancock Building to block the "breeze" and local tv news stories about it being a windy day.

Early in the morning husband went for a run - even going along the road that runs parallel to the water for a bit. Crazy! Then later in the morning with stroller and six year-old we managed to walk down Michigan Avenue to about two blocks from the lake (a.k.a. the source of all things cold and windy).

It was freakin' ridiculous. Ridiculous. Little Man lost his hat and it was blowing down the road. Some super nice guy ran through traffic to pick it up just as I told husband "I guess we'll need a new hat." There was no way we could have left one adult with both kids in the crazy wind. It was tryin' to pick both them up (LM in the stroller) and carry them away.

After our battle with the winds we spent two hours in American Girl. To say that Big Girl was awestruck was an understatement. She and Addy had a great time and picked out some treasures.

Addy liked seeing all the treasures that go with her stories, but she also loved Kit.
She also added a few things to the Christmas list and has started a nice long letter e-mail text letter to Santa.

Pretty much one of everything is on the Christmas list.
To wrap up the kids shopping destinations we visited Legoland, Hershey, the BIG Disney store (It really wasn't that much bigger than the one at our house.) and then headed to Rock Bottom Brewery for a grown up treat.

Side Notes on Rock Bottom: The beer and food were both great and they offered a special kid treat/entertainment with a make your own pizza option for kids. It was pretty basic - the dough was already rolled out, so she just added sauce and cheese, but it was a nice change from crayons and paper in so many restaurants. Super duper bonus point for giving us five more minutes to enjoy our drinks without an "I'm bored!"

Okay, so that was the final day of our trip. Other highlights are captured in pictures.

Starting with... Day One:
Kindervillage: Ate German food. Went in little headed craft vendor tents and Santa's house. The food was great and the crafts were cool. Big Girl tried a milk chocolate dipped apple - it was a big hit (would y'all ever have guessed?!). The cool part to grown ups - Santa's house. It was cute and cozy and warm. You got to see his Christmas tree, desk, etc and the whole thing including the pictures were free. They gave you a card at the end to go online and download your picture.

Walked all over town, including tours through Macy's, Lush, Nike Town and famous Chicago deep dish pizza for dinner.

Day Two:
Field Museum. On the way we walked through most of Grant Park. I wish it had been summer. Its beautiful with the statues, Buckingham fountain and the gardens. The gardens must be spectacular in the summer. The Field Museum was great. I'm going to do a separate post on it soon. Then most famous Chicago food for dinner.

Day Three:
That is all covered at the beginning of the post.

It was a really great vacation. We had so much fun and spent lots of time together.

Little Man loved the cold. I just can't get over how much fun he thought it was to have the wind in his face.

Big Girl loved the metro. Or subway. Or whatever you want to call it.

She could have stayed on it for hours.

When she went back to school and told her classmates about her trip she mentioned that people pee in the elevators in the subway, so sometimes instead of taking the elevator Mommy and Daddy carried the stroller up stairs.

BTW - Do you see the stains on the hood of her jacket? They weren't there before this subway ride - and guess what? They are still there. Special souvenir I guess.

More on the trip and Field Museum soon!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Adios Ba-Ba

We are officially saying goodbye to the bottle. Its been a crazy, busy and exciting year since Little Man was born.

We did the nursing thing for as long as he wanted - about eight months.

After using up the stockpile of milk in the freezer it was on to formula. That was another type of adventure. One I hadn't experienced before.

Then in October (don't get all crazy telling me my baby is gonna get sick because he is fine) we started making the slow transition to cows milk.

By mid-October we were on the cow full time making Thanksgiving travel a breeze. Well, as much as a breeze as it can be with two kids. But we didn't have to worry about formula, where it was packed, did we have enough for a full day when we headed out in Chicago. Instead it was, "do you see a 7-11," or, "lets hit up that Starbucks and fill the bottle from the milk at the condiment bar." Soooo much easier - especially when your flight gets delayed. Then delayed again. "Yes kind lady at McDonalds walk up counter just a milk for us."

Through it all (well, since I went back to work) Little Man had had his "Ba-Ba." Husband has loved teaching him to say "Ba-Ba," and I admit that it was cute, but the last few weeks I've been efforting a name change.

Milk isn't easy to say for most kids. Big Girl just said "milk" when she was one, but she talked more than any other one year old I've met. Our niece is almost four and still drinks "milch." I've heard of kids calling it "Moo" and thought that may be the way to go. So, we have moved on to the sign for milk.

In just a few days he has picked it up.

Good, because back when I was nursing, I was mortified of him (or Big Girl) signing for milk. I mean really - I already felt like a cow - I didn't need a baby reinforcing it with sign language.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What We Are Listening To

Are you always looking for new kids music? We seem to be. Most of their tunes get stuck in my head and then make me want to pull my hair out after just a few, "can we listen to that one again?" requests.

When Big Girl was a Little Girl (like 2 or 3 year-old) we discovered Bill Harley. His songs are hilarious, kid appropriate and tops on my list - they don't have the sing-song style voice that can get stuck in your head for days on end.

We recently rediscovered them. My current favorite is about a boy that doesn't want to eat a pea but he wants his ice cream. Somehow it gets stuck up his nose but he says he still has to eat it. It makes me laugh. Like out loud. Every time.

We may even have the video on our itouch. Maybe.

A few days ago Big Girl was getting in the car after swim practice and was going on and on about how she doesn't "win" and I was explaining that its about having fun and that winning is a bonus. When. Like a sitcom moment - should have had our camera rolling cuz you probably think I am making this up - The Love of The Game came on. With the chorus that says:

Sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win
If they knock you down, just get up again
If you’ve done your best, then don’t be ashamed
‘Cause you play for the love of the game

Big Girl totally loves Cool in School. Its pretty cute.

So, if you are looking for something new to listen to in the car, I would seriously suggest Bill Harley. Love him.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any to provide this post. I just Bill Harley is awesome and I think you will too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thankful: Part Dos

Thanksgiving is over, but since we just returned from our holiday travels, we still have Thanksgiving decor. This morning it sparked an unexpected, but very sweet list of what Big Girl is thankful for.

1. Brother
2. Mommy
3. Daddy
4. All of our family
5. Candy
6. Swim Team
7. Candy
8. Food
9. Our house and stuff
10. Santa

More on the travels soon. First let me unpack, prep for the upcoming birthday party and make it through a day at the office.