Saturday, December 22, 2018

DIY Christmas Stacking Toy

This wasn't supposed to be a toy. It was supposed to be a cute little centerpiece for my table. But, like many things in a house with cats, it ended up on the floor. And, like many things in a house with children, the instantly became a new toy. So this post is all about rolling with the punches.

Paper Mache Cones
Acrylic Paint
White Paint Pen

This is one of those super easy mode crafts. You just paint the outside of the cones in cute colors (might need more than one coat). Once it's dry decorate the outside with the paint markers. I had my little one help as much as he had the patience for (which, you know, was about 3 dots).

The cost of supplies was under $10, and this kept him amused for at least five minutes, which is like five hours for a one year old so I'd call this project a success. The fact that the "toy" I've created can also double as a decoration is an awesome bonus.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Discovery Building Blocks DIY

This is one of my favorite projects I've made for Ronan so far. Like, I enjoyed creating this every step of the way, because I took my time and collected things that had a personal significance or were just cool. And the result is a colorful, noisy collection of blocks full of stuff that is truly interesting to look at and can hopefully be used to teach him all sorts of things in the years to come.

Clear small plastic lidded containers (the kind you can find at the dollar store are perfect)
Glue gun
Nick-knacks, doo-dads, etc.

Step One: Collect your stuff. Keep in mind that sound is just as important as looks, so a boring wooden bead or some plastic water bottle lids are perfect just because they make so much fun noise. I also told the people I knew what I was doing so I was able to get things like feathers and shells and that little table that holds the lid of your pizza box up... you know, with the three legs?

Here are some of the things we used for Ronan's blocks:
Thread in every color of the rainbow, buttons, foam shapes (sun, clouds, etc), Feathers, shells, fake flowers and leaves, fun shaped sprinkles, puffballs, beads, cut up straws, small rubber bands, ribbon, toothpicks, rice... basically if it was small enough it was going into a block. 

Step Two: Prep your blocks. I had to cut off some tabs off the lids because I wanted to make sure there wasn't anything he could grab onto and use his herculean strength to pry open. This step included a lot of help from my son... I would throw the finished ones into the bag, and he would take them out again.

Step three: put your stuff in and hot glue the lids on. For the type of containers I had, I found it easiest to put the hot glue in the fold on the lid. Try to keep the contents of the container from touching the glue before it is dried.

And that's it! Simple, cheap, and fun. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ten [for 12 months and under] Things

I love making these ten things posts, and I realized the other day that it had been a while. I was sitting on the floor in the nursery (because that's what I do with most of my free time now) trying to think of a topic when I realized I was literally surrounded by one. 

So, here you go. A list of the ten things Ronan and I both love the most.


1 - You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan - This was consistently one of Ronan's favorite books. He still lights up when we read it to him.

2 - Very Hungry Caterpillar Sounds and Projector - First off, there is no AC adapter that comes with this. The box is a liar. Beyond that, we love this thing. We turn it on every night to help establish that it's time to sleep. We've been using it for about nine months and have only had to replace the batteries once. 

3 - Zebra Lovey from Oh, Joy! for Target - Okay, maybe this one is more for me. Ronan hasn't really gotten attached to anything for bedtime (besides the pacifiers...) but I still think this is the cutest.

4 - Atom Rattle and Teether from Manhatten Toys - When Ronan really started manipulating things and trying to work them out I knew I needed to get him something a little more complicated than a plastic ball. This toy fits the bill.

5 - Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn, Game and Learn Controller - This toy we mainly bought just to keep our sanity. Ronan will sit next to his dad and watch the TV while pushing the buttons sometimes, and my heart melts. 

6 - Cat Multisensory Teething Toy from Skip Hop - This is one of those crazy toys where when I look at it all my brain thinks is "there's just so much going on!" But Ronan loves it. This is the toy I attach to the stroller for long walks.

7 - Mula Building Blocks from Ikea - In Ronan's opinion, the blocks in this are just okay. But that wagon is pretty much the best thing to ever happen. 

8 - Textured Ball Set from Infantino - These are a super simple but fun and colorful addition to our nursery. We introduced these pretty early on and he still plays with them.

9 - Stick and See Spin Wheel from Infantino - These are crucial to have when you're alone at home and you just need the kid to entertain himself so you can at least go pee. Put him in the high chair and attach this to the tray, viola, instant entertainment. 

10 - Hippopposites by Janik Coat - I am constantly bringing board books home from work. This was the first board book that Ronan really became attached to, so we bought a copy for ourselves.

And, because I wanna make sure you know that I know what I'm talking about (haha), here are some pictures of Ronan using the things. This is how you really know what his favorite toys are... they're constantly popping up on his Instagram grid. Especially the Cupcakes book, it is in no less than 6 pictures.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

DIY Nature Treasures Book

Any adventure, no matter how big or small, should always result in treasures. That's why at the end of every walk there's a leaf bunched up in the palm of tiny hands, or a stick shoved into the stroller. I'm a firm believer that anything can be a treasure, and that treasures deserve to be showcased. That's why I came up with this easy DIY  book. It is incredibly simple to make, and hopefully all of the supplies are something you already have around the house. The only things that might be strange are the stroller rings, which I've found most parents have, but could be replaced with bread ties, and the felt, which could be replaced with paper or even left off entirely.

small freezer bags
duct tape
stroller rings (or bread ties, key rings)
felt (or thick paper, plastic, etc)
hole punch

Step One: Duct tape the bottom edge of your bag on both sides. Try to keep it as close to the edge as possible just because it makes it easier to keep everything even. If your tape hangs off the side of the bag be careful while trimming. We don't want to lose any future treasures!

Step Two: Make your cover. Cut your felt (or whatever you decided to use) to the exact width of the freezer bags, but not the height. You can see in the example picture that my felt is about 3/4 of an inch shorter than the bag.
Place some duct tape sticky side up on the bottom of a bag. I used the bag as a template to make sure everything got aligned correctly. After you've placed the tape put the felt on top of the tape, aligning the felt with the top part of the ziplock. There should still be some sticky tape showing. Put another piece of tape directly on top of the other piece, sandwiching the felt. Make sure there's no stickiness showing.
I customized my cover using acrylic paint, but I think it looks great blank, too. You could also use a permanent marker.

Step Three: Punch your holes. I found it was easiest to make a template that I could line up with the corner to make sure all of my holes ended up in the same spot.

Step Four: Put it all together.

If you fill all of the bags its easy to add more, or if something gross gets saved it's really easy to remove a page and throw it away. And since this project is made with rings it can totally be attached to your stroller during walks. No treasure gets left behind on my watch!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Unicorn Vomit "Printmaking"

This is a simple, messy art project that will have your kids super excited to try it because of the name alone. I mean, Unicorn Vomit. It's equal parts magical and disgusting! How could they resist!?

While it sounds gross, this art activity is actually a sneaky teaching moment. Combing elements of marbling and printmaking, this project introduces your little ones to the concept using abstract methods to create art and the basic principles of replicating it through a simplified printing process. 

Acrylic Paint in Light Pink, Yellow, Bright Blue, and Bright Green
Gallon Freezer Bag
Paper to Print On (the heavier the better)

Step one: Cut down the seams of your freezer bag and lay it flat.

Step two: Squeeze out drips and lines of paint on one side of the bag, staying away from the edges. At this point, the only thing you need to care about is that the colors look balanced and that there aren't any huge blank spots.

Step three: Fold the freezer bag back in half, completely covering up the paint.

Step four: Squish the paint around, or use your finger to move it. If you really want it to look marbled you can also use a fine, blunt tip to move the paint around (like the wrong end of a paintbrush). Be careful not to overmix, or you'll end up with a gross poop color.

Step five: Pull the bag apart and step back to look at the results. If you're happy, move on. If you have a section that has too much of one color, trying adding more paint until it looks right.

Step six: Carefully place your paper down directly on to the paint, face side down. Push gently, then peel the paper up. Set aside to dry and repeat the process until the results stop pulling up paint.

You can repeat the process as many times as you want!
If your colors start to look muddy you can always wash your bag off and start again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Peas" read me a story!

I keep seeing these "story baskets" on Instagram and thinking I could put one of those together pretty easily. It's basically a smaller version of what I do for my job every day.  So when I realized I had found a few a books that had a common theme and were age appropriate for my little guy (about 9 months) I got really excited. The only problem was the theme I had landed on... peas. I mean, that's a little weird, but I didn't let that stop me, because my motto is "limitation leads to creativity!" Or, you know, it would be. If I adopted a motto.

Whats in my  basket:
LMNO Peas and 123 Peas by Keith Baker
Number Flash Cards
Handmade Pea Pod Noisy Toy
"Peas" in a Bottle

I do realize it's kind of silly to give flash cards to a 9 month old. Right now I'm just using them to help my kid familiarize himself with numbers. But if you are making this basket for a toddler the puffballs and flash cards used together can be a great learning activity. They can either trace the shape with them like I did in the picture or pull out as many "peas" as is shown on the card.

The best part of this whole basket, in my opinion, is that adorable little pea pod toy. As soon as I thought of the concept I knew I had to make one. Each little pea is a different type of noise maker. So one rattles, one squeaks, and the other crinkles. And it was pretty easy to make, too. 

1 piece of green felt
a squeaky toy (mine was a $1 dog toy)
some old noisy plastic wrappers
rice (or something that rattles)
plastic bag

Step 1: Make and cut out a pattern. You'll need a pea pod (kind of a fat crescent moon shape) and a pea (make sure it will fit in the pod when it's all sewn up!).

Step 2: Fold your felt in half, pin, and trace your pattern to make sure you have enough room for everything. You're going to need two pea pods pieces, six pea pieces, and three long thin strips to attach everything together.

Step 3: Cut. Triple check to make sure everything fits before you do. You know the saying "measure twice, cut once?" I always measure like, five times.

Step 4: Make your noise makers.
The squeaker is the most fun, and the easiest. Just tear apart the dog toy until you've found the plastic piece. It should be a circle with a tube sticking out of it.
For the crinkle pea, you want to cut out two or three pieces of your noisy wrappers a little bit smaller than the felt pea pieces you cut.
The rattle is the most complicated. I cut 2 circles out of an old plastic bag, then taped it to make a pocket. Pour rice in about half, then tape it all the way around. You should come out with a kind of flat circular shape that makes noise. Make sure you test to see if any rice comes out when you shake it.

Step 5: Put together the peas! Note: Make sure you pin on the long pieces that will attach the peas to the pod! There needs to be one sewn onto each pea.
For the crinkle pea you can just pin your crinkle layers in between your felt layers and sew around the edge. For the squeaker pea I sewed around the edge until I had about an inch left, then pushed the squeaker inside and sewed it closed. For the rattle I just pinned it (carefully) into the middle and sewed around it.

Step 6: Sew up your pea pod. When you're pinning the pod together, make sure to pin on all three peas. I attached the long strips to the bottom of the pea pod. This isn't necessary, but it makes sure that you don't have to keep chasing down peas. Sew up the big curve first, putting extra stitches where your peas attach. I added a line of stitches across the top of the pod to make everything look complete.

And there you have it! Your pea pod is done, and a great addition to a "Peas read me a story!" story basket. If story baskets aren't your thing, a veggie felt set would also be so cute.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Making the Most of Summer

Guys, I love summer. Love, love, love it. Unfortunately, for the last three years all the sudden it's the last day of summer and I'm hit with the realization that... wait, it can't be over! I haven't done anything SUMMERY yet! Bring back the fireflies! I need those long days and warms nights!

Well, this summer I don't want to let that happen. It's our little guy's first summer, and I want it to be special for all of us. A lot of new sights, sounds, and textures for him, and a lot of classic activities that I'm usually "just too busy" to do for me.

So to help me actively focus on enjoying this summer, I've come up with a "92 Days of Summer Challenge." 92 days where I try to do something each day that takes advantage of my favorite season. And that can be anything from eating a popsicle to playing on the beach. Watching fireflies or going camping. Playing in the garden hose or going on a walk just to get ice cream. You get the idea.

And of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make some cute clip art to use in my bullet journal or an organized place to put all of my "summery activities" ideas. And I'm all for sharing, so If this challenge seems like something you'd be into, or you'd just like to have some cute bugs in your own summer journal, you can download the .pdfs here.

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