Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rainy Day Web Games

Even with all of his toys, gadgets, and cars, Denver gets bored when he's stuck inside for too long. On days that I know we are housebound, I usually wake up to enjoy a cup of coffee and a Pinterest hunt, looking for creative ways to keep the little guy busy and entertained. I found a great idea from Happy Learning Education Ideas...the link doesn't seem to take you directly to the post anymore, but I want to try to give credit where direct is due. Anyway...

 

 

...painters' tape, open doorway, and poms poms. Enough said.

 

New kinds of projects...

It's amazing how kids transform your entire world! They not only force you to alter your sleep schedule, eating habits, and routines...they change your entire way of life. Our house has transformed from a cozy cottage to a full-blown kid zone.

Little D started with a play area. Then he took over the sun room. His toys eventually spread onto the second floor and into our living space. Now, he has infiltrated the dining room with his play kitchen...which I love...but more on that later. Now, he has moved beyond floor space. He has recently moved onto the walls. Yes, Denver--who can barely hold a paint brush--has his own art gallery.

Funds are tight so I went to the basement in search of old frames. I wish I had some bigger ones lying around, but our house is so quaint that the smaller frames really look just right...and I kind of think it is cute when his artwork hangs over the edges of the frames.

I started by laying out the pictures on a roll of brown paper so that I could figure out my layout. I wanted a nice mix of portraits and landscapes. Never without my iPad, I snapped a picture that I could edit in DoodleBuddy to plan my color patterns. I number the frames so I wouldn't get confused.  I love the brown paper idea because then I trace and cut out a pattern for each frame and hang those on the wall with painters' tape to get a real sense of the layout and help me to hang everything in just the right place.


I was so close to sticking to the same white that frames all of the pictures in our house, but I thought I would take a chance and go with some color. This goes against my obsessive nature because the color of D's artwork would surely clash with the frames...but I had to take a chance. 


Once the frames were painted and dried, I came to the most difficult part of the project. I wanted to attach a string from one end to the other from which Denver's art would hang. But, I also wanted the frame to lay flat against the wall, so I could use eye hooks. Instead, I shamelessly hot glued twine from one edge to the other. I am not proud of the method, but it worked!

I wasn't sure how I would hang the frames since I removed their backings so that the wall would show through each one. I decided to try to 3M Photo Strips. I didn't really trust them at first, but then I thought, if these things could hold up frames with real art and glass, then surely they could hold up empty, cheap frames with construction paper.


I'm actually really happy with how it turned out. The colors work and because there is not glass, I can just change out the projects every time Denver brings home another paint splattered paper plate and scrap-papered contact paper shapes.


The best part of this project is that once. The painting was done, I got the whole thing done while the little guy...and the big guy...took their naps. Usually I'm not allowed to put holes in the wall, but with the 3M Photo Strips, I silently created an entire art gallery wall in under 2 hours.
Do you have a creative way of hanging your children's art work? Please share!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Thank You Gift

Today was a BIG day for us! As we walked into daycare school, I anticipated the dreaded moment when Denver grasps my sleeve, his lip starts to quiver as he breaks into tears, and he makes a face that screams, "don't go!" But today, nothing. Not a tear. He happily went to his teacher and even walked me out as he helped the teacher get milk from the kitchen. Denver likes school! It took him a while to adjust, but today was the first morning I went to work feeling completely okay with my decision to have Denver spend a few days a week at daycare. Today was a great day...

Actually, it was bittersweet because yesterday I received the unfortunate news that Denver's teacher was leaving. Denver absolutely adores her...and so do I! She gives me such great first-time-mom advice and takes such good care of my little guy. Even though we have only known her a very short time, I have really grown to like her and am going to miss her. Tomorrow is Denver's last day with Miss Kathleen.

I needed a special way to thank her for helping Denver adjust, and taking care of him when he suddenly got a fever, and giving him seconds at snack, and knowing to give him the red truck when he is sad. With little time to get a gift, I had to think fast so I obviously turned to Pinterest and remembered these delicious jar scents from The Yummy Life that I made for myself this past winter. It's the perfect gift.


I sliced up four lemons and squished them in a jar. Then I added water...I had to play with the lemon slices a bit so they lined the jar rather than pile up in the middle. I also strategically squished in 6 sprigs of rosemary and then topped it all off with 4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Now, all Miss Kathleen has to do is pour it in a small pot and simmer, adding water as needed. People say this scent is the same that greets you in Williams Sonoma, but I can't tell. I think it will be perfect now that spring is coming and we'll all be opening windows and airing out a long winter. I added some twine and a paper circle for the lid, and there you have it. Nothing fancy, but simply perfect.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toddler Valentine Trail Mix

I won't lie and say that I wasn't super excited when I realized Little D was starting school a week before Valentine's Day...our first Valentine's Day party! ...with real Valentine's. So of course I jumped on Pinterest to look for toddler-appropriate Valentines, and I found so many great ideas. Even though I am all about taking on the class-mom role, I also don't want to seem too over-eager with this whole crafty mom thing, so I checked with the teacher to see what the Valentine's Day protocol was in her room. Much to my disappointment, she said the parents don't do Valentines at this age and also that they will have a small party with some basic snacks. I signed up to bring in the cheese...so of course it will be the best darn Valentine's-themed cheese ever! ...blog post to come... But I just couldn't help myself. How could I not send Denver in with Valentines?! So here's what I came up with...inspired by a lovely blogger from One Step at a Time.


Toddler trail mix! The variety from One Step at a Time is much sweeter and has a little bit more variety, but I put together a very simple mix that should meet most parents' approval. All I did was combine Cheerios, freeze-dried strawberries, and Gerber strawberry yogurt drops. 


Then I just added a note from Denver that said he was happy to have so many new friends...seemed appropriate since he was the new kid. So what do you think? Is it too much? Did I just help, or hurt, Denver's friend status?



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shake, Shake, Shake!

This is one of the best projects I made for Little D. To answer your question...of course I found it on Pinterest, so to give credit where credit is due...this great find came from Heather who writes a blog, The Little Moments.


In case the picture isn't clear, these are just little mini containers filled with various items for Little D to shake...that's it! The little containers are from the Dollar Store; I had a lot left over from my baby food-making days. Then, I looked for things to put in them that made different sounds. I decided to use...

                    - Tic Tacs
                    - Pennies 
                    - Rice
                    - Coarse salt
                    - Cut up sponge
                    - Small rocks
                    - Wooden beads
                    - Elbow macaroni
                    - Beans
                    - Miniature sleigh bells

I tried to make them even better by letting Ian draw different colored numbers and shapes on them, but these are starting to rub off. I love these shaker boxes because Little D will like them for different reasons as he grows and develops. As a baby, he enjoyed simply shaking them like rattles. As he's gotten older, I've noticed him shaking them, looking for different sounds. He's even started stacking them just the hear the sounds they make when they fall. Maybe one day we can play Guess the Sound, or he can write songs with them. And the best part...all 10 little boxes fit perfectly into his first shoebox! Now the sentimental pile of mush in me can justify hanging onto this silly cardboard memory.


**Bit of advice...try to seal the edges with hot glue. One time, I let Little D play with these in his high chair. I only turned around for a second, but he had opened the salt box and was trying to eat the salt! I felt pretty bad, but his face was totally worth it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Color Crazy

Poor Little D...I will think of any way to sneak in a learning opportunity. It's going to be a looong 18 years, kid. I came across this wonderfully colorful idea on MumCentral. It was super timely because I was just trying to think of ways to teach Denver his colors, beyond repeating the colors of things over and over again...and again... Then I came across a Pin that had the perfect idea.

On MumCentral, I saw an idea for color baskets. I immediately started thinking about what I would need to go buy to make the perfect color baskets...isn't that terrible that I first think of what I can buy?! But then I realized that I had everything I needed! I took bins from Little D's toy shelf and just filled them with colored toys. It was actually kind of fun...like a scavenger hunt! So here's what I ended up with...


I wanted there to be a nice mix of toys so that Little D wouldn't get bored. You could include...
                                            - blocks
                                            - animals
                                            - craft materials
                                            - cars
                                            - small books
                                            - fabric
                                            - letters
                                            - kitchen utensils
                                            - clothes
                                            - trains
                                            - balls



Something about them just makes me happy! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ruler Growth Chart

Ok, so I am terrible at this blogging thing. Every time I think I am going to finally get back into it, I stop halfway through a post...usually because Little D needs someone to play with him or change his diaper...only to find said post months--yes, months--later when I once again try to get back into it. It's a pattern. So, here's one that I started in August, found about a week ago, and am finally posting today...hopefully.  So let's get back to why we're really here..

No Pinterest find is safe! I just can't help myself. One of my very first Pinterest finds, ever, was this ruler growth chart. Anyone who is a regular Pinner has surely seen this one from 517 Creations...


What a great way to watch the growth of your little ones. Plus, it makes for great wall art, especially with our awkwardly small wall space at Quaint Oaks. The best part, no tearful goodbyes to a piece of molding or wall when we move one day. This growth chart can come with us! 

Pardon the less-than photo quality. That's another hang up when it comes to blogging. I always wanted to try to post perfect pictures. Well, forget that. No time. You get what you get. iPhone pictures edited with a free app. Enjoy!


This project is so simple! I bought a piece of wood from Lowes, 1x8x6, for $11. Ian stained it for me to give it a school ruler color. Then, I marked off every inch along the side. Using my handy dandy t-square and a fine point Sharpie paint marker, I went over my lines. To get that ruler look, I made all of the lines 1 inch, except for the quarter lines which I made 2 inches. 

The numbers were a little tricky. I printed numbers 1 through 6 in a font that looked ruler-like. I think I used Georgia, size 125 or so...remember, I did this months ago! Anyway, rub the backside of the numbers with pencil. Then, using a ball point  pen, trace the outer edges of the numbers so that the pencil marks are impressed on the wood. I used an extra fine point Sharpie marker to go over the pencil lines and color in the numbers. This part requires a steady hand, which I don't have, but it was easier than you would think.  Finally, I sprayed it with a clear, semi-gloss spray seal. That's it! 


Check out 517 Creations for better step by step instructions. People absolutely love these and they make great shower gifts! All of my friends are popping out babies so I have an assembly line going. So far I've marked Little D's height when he started standing, took his first steps, and started walking...obsessed.