It was a busy week with the boys home sick from school sick most of it! Both boys got bad colds, Ethan’s was much worse but Ben had a bad ear infection too. Somehow the girls both stayed healthy though! I tried to keep them quiet so they could rest but Ethan got super Halloween crafty and (with a just a little help from Jamie and Ben) he filled the living room with a ton of bats and one spider. He made everyone in our immediate family and then branched out to add the extended family. I LOVE them and wish I got better pictures but I just had the little camera out at the time. They really look neat in person (and I’ll be sorry when I need to take them down for Christmas decorating in Dec). I love how he used deep yellow and red paper instead of black. I also love it that he thought the whole idea up himself and I could just sit back and watch the production of a huge colony of bats (yes I had to look up what a “flock” of bats is called since I didn’t think flock was right)!
I looked up my old post on my coffee playdough recipe and WOW my boys were so little then….. how can I slow down time (or bring Ben’s little 3 yr old curls back)? This past week I made a triple batch of the coffee dough for the kids to play with (I had saved up a bunch of used coffee grinds in a paper lunch bag so I could have made even more). When I suggested they go get out the dinosaurs to play with in the dough they surprised me by picking out an interesting assortment of animals instead. I guess polar bears can play in the mud sometimes too!
I try to look at everything that is garbage or recycling to see if I can reuse it for something. Usually I save things for art projects but this time I made a bug jar from a mayonnaise jar. I used a sharp hole puncher (that looks like an ice pick) to add a bunch of holes to the lid and then added 2 holes at the top of the jar to add the rope. The orange rope was actually the handle from a Gymboree shopping bag (nicer stores usually use nice rope or ribbon for handles and I always take it off before recycling the bags). I had intended to write “bug jar” on the finished product but I hate my handwriting! We have lots of bugs, toads and critters my kids like to look at and then release and with a friend over one day they really filled the jar! I guess I should have called it a “toad jar” but that sounds weird! So this was a very simple thing to do but I think it came out nice, the green lid with the orange rope make a nice combo.
Well I have been wanting to do a freezer paper stencil for awhile now but I just got around to buying the freezer paper last week. Then I needed to decide on something to stencil on some of my boys’ shirts…. I did some googling of “lego guys” and found this flickr picture. Thought it was perfect for a shirt since they are also into Star Wars and I printed it out and made my own stencil based on it. Not perfect but this was my first time trying a freezer paper stencil so I was not seeking perfection at any step! What I did set out to do was cut out the stencil carefully enough (with an exacto knife) so that I could use both the positive and negative pieces to make two shirts out of the one stencil. I used an iron to adhere the stencil to each shirt (was a bit more tricky to place all the little pieces on the blue but I just ironed on a few at a time). I wanted to use fabric paint on the red shirt but I went for bleach on the blue hoodie. I used an empty spray hair gel bottle to get a nice mist of bleach on the shirt. I did it in the bathtub and when I saw that it was light enough I quick turned on the shower and rinsed all the bleach off (this was slightly tricky, look at the 2nd picture below and you can see the bleach working on the periphery that was drying but the area close to the stencil was still pretty wet. I turned on the water right after snapping the picture because I heard the bleach will get too light if you’re not careful). I am not sure which I like better because I am pretty happy with them both!
Well I am all for a candy free-for-all BUT a little healthy mixed in on Easter is a good thing too! This morning after the excitement of the baskets and the egg hunting and the cinnamon rolls, we made some applesauce bunnies. This is a nice last minute activity that we did thanks to Musselmans. The kids colored the ears and bow ties and I taped them onto our heart cupcake cups and filled with applesauce (Musselman’s suggested doing 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 yogurt but I went for all apple this time). Some of the kids jelly beans and mini marshmallows for the face and they were all set to go. It is a gorgeous Easter day so the kids ate their bunnies in their playfort.
I made these for the girls this year, I first added iron on fabric stuff to the fabrics and then traced hearts on the 2 fabrics, cut them out and ironed them on. Pretty easy although I should have added the anti-fray stuff to the edges because I think they might start to fray after a few washes. Jillian’s is a dress and Jamie’s is the t-shirt. I put green long sleeve shirts under them and I was pretty happy with them.
I like to save all the broken crayons to make new swirly ones and I have been wanting to make heart ones for the kids for Valentine’s Day (Ethan is going to give them out in his class too). Unfortunately the mold I just bought is meant for heart ice cubes and I don’t think it is made out of oven proof silicone. So for the first time instead of doing the crayons in the oven, I did them in layers by melting the colors separately. I happen to have a crayon melting thing from when I was an art teacher, you plug it in and it has little metal cups to melt 10 different colors. I sacrificed a cheap paint brush to paint a little heart with melted red crayon in the bottom of each ice cube space. Then I squirted the melted wax into the spaces with a metal eye dropper. Each layer hardened pretty quickly and I just kept adding layers until I filled the tray. Most people don’t have “the crayon melter thing” I have but I saw on another blog once that you can make a little double boiler out of 2 plastic containers and melt the crayons in the microwave and use a plastic spoon to ladle it into the molds (I believe they put the crayons in a yogurt cup and then put that in a slightly larger container with water in it). When I did the second tray I first sprinkled some fine glitter into the tray before adding the wax so half of them have some sparkle on the top. I did not have a huge supply of pinks and reds so I made the hearts in all different color combos and I like it that way. These crayons definitely have that “homemade look” but the only thing that I didn’t like so much was that the crayons didn’t have a glossy sheen like the ones I make in the oven BUT the layers are fun to color stripes with and the little painted heart on top came out pretty cute so I am very happy with them.
*update, its called “the wax melter”, see I wasn’t so off with “crayon melter thing”! Here is what it looks like, handy for batik projects.
I have nothing against characters being on Valentines but I don’t like the cheapo little character Valentines from the store and I also don’t like the stress of having my kids do an assembly line of homemade Valentines either. This year I am saving $ and sanity by making my own Valentine’s for our 3 kids that need to send them. They are not perfect but good enough for me! I asked each kid what character or picture they wanted on theirs and I easily found a Pokemon Valentine image for Ethan (not so sure I could have found Pokemon ones at the store), an “I heart hockey” one for Ben and a Hello Kitty Valentine coloring picture for Jamie. When I did my google searches I typed in things like “pokemon valentine” and then clicked to see images, the search was pretty easy that way. After I got the images I wanted, I did some “cutting and pasting” and made it so one page made 6 Valentines, one side had a picture of my child and the other side had the image I found online. For Ben’s hockey Valentine I used his hockey photo. I bought a big package of thick cardstock at staples and they printed nicely. All I had to do was cut them out and they were ready for the kids to write names on. Jamie is 3 yrs old so I will write the names of her classmates for her but since I used a coloring page for hers she gets to color each one so that she has a part in the process. I knew the boys weren’t going to want to color them so they can focus on writing all their friends’ names. Ethan is going to give out crayon hearts I made (and will post about soon) and Ben is going to give out bags of red play dough that I am shaping into hearts with my heart ice cream sandwich mold (planning on making it later today when I can put down this cute, sick, sleeping baby I am holding right now).
Jamie is at a nice age for painting and its fun to give her different things to use besides brushes. You can buy special painting tools for kids but its so easy to make them or just use things you have around the house. Here is what I gave Jamie on the day these pictures were taken: an old baby bottle nipple to make nice stamped circles, a piece of cardboard with one side cut with a scalloped scissor and some plastics lids cut in half in various shapes. We use the cardboard and the lids to scrape the paint with and make different stripes. I didn’t get the best pictures, she was busy for quite some time though and enjoyed painting. Other things we like to use with paint include plastic forks, straws, old toothbrushes, small sponges, q-tips, cut vegetables, fingers and of course brushes! I probably left some things out but ANYBODY WANT TO SHARE YOUR IDEAS so we can try something new next time we get the paints out???
Here is a picture of Jillian on a different day when she got into Jamie’s paints (Jamie prefers red and blue paint currently). I LOVE that you can buy washable paints!
Here is another one of our advent calendar activities! There are so many hand and footprint craft ideas and I think they’re fun so we did our family wreath and then we tried out something I thought up on my own: a family tree made of footprints. I had thought of this last year but Jillian was a newborn and things were too crazy. I had hoped for better, more Christmas tree results but I’m actually pretty happy with it (we made another one that looks just like a regular deciduous tree). I think I will try it again on a real canvas sometime. I got 2 papers for us to use and each person did their feet on both because I figured a backup would be good in case one of the kids smeared the paint. I should have used bigger papers because I guess I wasn’t thinking our feet would be so big! You need to start with the biggest feet and work your way to the smallest. For the one we made a Christmas tree I did the baby’s hand as a star and then the next day the other kids made ornaments with fingerprints. I’m really glad we tried this crazy idea, its definitely something I want to try again. There are a lot of possibilities: a fall tree with different colors for the feet, a tree made of hand prints, a set of 4 for all the seasons? I know weird!