Monday, January 31, 2011

Please Leave Us a Message...

Tomorrow is February and that's one of my most favorite months!

It may or may not have something to do with a birthday, but throw in Valentine's Day and there's nothing but LOVE.

And once you become a parent, Valentine's Day seems to be focused on your kids. And that's what we're beginning today.

We're making a message center:

A few weeks ago, I ordered these mailboxes from Oriental Trading for *cough, cough* $3.99 a piece. I justified the price with the idea that we will re use these each year. On Saturday night I was racing against the girl locking the doors of Target to get to their pharmacy department. As I was hurrying across the store (because I got locked out of the green doors but slipped through the blue doors) I walked by the dollar section. And what did I see...these exact mailboxes for $1 a piece. So if you like, hurry to your nearest Target!

Last night, we pulled out some stickers and got to work decorating our own mailboxes.

And then I took my napkin/utensil holder and turned it into our card/pen holder. 3x5 cards fit perfectly inside the mailboxes.

Now the kids can leave messages for each other. My little 6 year old boy was busy this morning before school writing notes. And he walked in the door after school and went straight to the table. I love it! In fact he even left a message for himself: "Dear Me, I make me laugh. Love, Me" We're not worried about self-confidence over her.

It's my goal to leave a note for everyone each night before I go to bed. I figure surely this won't be too difficult to do until Valentine's Day. We will then collect all their notes, put them in an envelope and into their memory boxes. These notes will be great to look back on someday.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Step in the Right Direction

Pardon my absence from the blogging world. Sometimes the work/life/blog balance just isn't there so I have to let something go while I get back on track! You can guess out of the three, which one I had to let slide....

I know we're getting closer to Valentine's Day and the blog world seems to be filled with hearts and all things pink and red. But honestly my heart isn't in it (no pun intended!) I have never been one to go all crazy over Valentine's Day. I'm a big fan of love and all but Feb. 14th...ehhh, I could take it or leave it. BUT (you knew there was a "but" coming didn't you?) I didn't want to be a complete Debbie Downer so I chose to do something red in honor of the impending love day!

I reached into my thrift store pile and decided to do something with this little step stool. When I see unfinished wood in a thrift store I've gotta grab it!

I sprayed the $1 find "Apple Red"

Sanded it and distressed it a bit. Then pulled out the Modge Podge

Modged Podged some cute black floral scrapbook paper onto it

And I think it turned out pretty cute! My niece has a ladybug themed room so I'm thinking it will be a nice addition to her darling room!

I'm due for another post before V-day so who knows....maybe I'll surprise you with something pink next time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Actual Conversation Hearts

For those of you who may know me, the following fact may come as a surprise to you...I love quiet time. Most of you know me as the person who fills the air waves with constant chatter and who does everything in her power to avoid the "7 minute lull" (you know that part in a conversation where no one has anything to say?). I do enjoy quiet time when I'm by myself and/or the kids are all in bed (like right now), when I can read, or think or rest my vocal chords.

But when I'm in the presence of people, I really don't like having awkward pauses in conversation. Unfortunately, my children are the same way. They all have a story (or 14) to tell and I have to organize the conversation chaos or I'll put everyone in quiet timeout. So some of you may remember my iPod app coasters and my ideas to encourage organized family conversation (click here to remind yourself). It worked for awhile, but then they started fighting about who got which coaster. As if my kids need yet ANOTHER reason to fight.

So, this Valentines I came up with "Real Conversation Hearts." None of this Hug Me, Be Mine mumbo jumbo...I mean how does that start a conversation?

Heart: Hug me.
Person: Okay.

Nice conversation.

Heart: Be Mine.
Person: Okay or No (in which a bad conversation will start)

So I cut out paper hearts and put real conversation starters on the back. Here are a few:

If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be and why?
If you could only eat one kind of food for the rest of your life, what kind of food would it be and why?
If dogs could talk, in which ways would the world be different?
If you could choose one talent that you could have and you'd be the best in world, what would it be and why?
Try to convince the family to go on your dream vacation this summer.
Describe the person on your left in 27 words.

You get the idea. I came up with a lot of story prompts in my post for a cheap quiet book (click here to remember). I used them for my conversation hearts since conversing is different than writing.

And since texting is the preferred method of communication among our youth, I think they are missing out on the art of conversation. Hopefully this can help.

Also, to add a little Va-Voom to my kids lunch, during Valentine's season, I use a cookie cutter to cut their sandwiches into hearts.

It makes it a little more exciting for them. Maybe I'll get one of those food markers and write Hug Me and Be Mine on their sandwiches.....hmmmm.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Roll the Dice

I'm betting on my family today...

With Valentine's, comes Love.

With Love, comes my Family.

So tonight's Family activity will be focusing on loving each other with these two:

For the game, we'll sit in a circle and everybody takes turn rolling the dice.

One dice has things to do. Ours say: Blow a Kiss, Hug, Compliment, Handshake (I made up a fun handshake sequence we'll use), Chest Bump (a family favorite that gets everyone laughing), and Wish (which it helps to be specific when you tell them to say something you "wish" for that person so that your son doesn't say, "I WISH that she'd brush her teeth so her breath doesn't smell" - yes he said that while playing with this last night).

The other dice has pictures of each of us. That is the person who will receive the action you roll.

When we've played this game in the past, we've let the turns go around the circle several times until we've hit an obvious "time to stop now" moment. But the kids have always loved doing this.

When we've done this before, we just used a regular dice and I've typed up who is what action is what number (i.e. one = hug, two = compliment and one = mom, two = dad, etc.).

For tonight, I'd thought I'd make our own dice. So I gathered these items:

(Can you see my Spice Cookie trying to get into the picture?)

* Wood Blocks
* Pictures for each person in the family
* Pencil
* Scissors
* Sayings/Actions
* Mod Podge
* brush

Because my blocks were so small (they're just a little bigger than 1 inch), I just placed my block over the picture and traced the square around each person and action. Then I cut with scissors.

I then brushed my mod podge on the block, placed my picture on, then brushed more mod podge on. I didn't want to have to deal with corners matching up, so I cute my squares to be just a little bit smaller than the block. So you can see the edge of the blocks.

As soon as they were dry, my kids started playing. They love this. And it does help us to focus more on each other instead of a typical game where we're trying to beat each other...because I may or may not be competitive with my kids when we play games.

Today's Creative Blog

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crocheted Beanies & Flowers

I don't think I ever told you guys that it snowed here in my little Southern California town on the first Sunday of the year. It was amazing! The kids had so much fun playing in the slushy snow. My son kept running to the back to see if the "pool has frozen, yet." Poor guy, I had to explain that that probably wouldn't happen, but he was excited nonetheless.

Now I don't want to make any of you jealous, so I'll try to refrain from talking about the 75 degree weather we're experiencing. It almost makes up for the ridiculous cost of living!

But knowing that most of the country is still experiencing winter, I decided that the perfect baby gift for twin girls would be Flower Beanies.

I'm all about the fast projects that look like you spent so much time on but seriously, these were pretty simple. I know not all of you have grasped the love of crochet or knitting, but it really is a stress reliever.

To me knitting is more difficult, I have to watch a youtube video every time I need to cast on. But crocheting is simple and if you use a big needle and thick yarn, these projects are QUICK!

There are a million free beanie patterns on the web, youtube, etc. You can find help with how to start, how to chain, how to double crochet...videos are helpful. I love this tutorial for the flower (click here).

I put my flowers on a hair clip so the parents could decide whether or not they want the flower on or off.
Then my baby girl got jealous of the presents for the newborns, so I had to whip this one out for her, too...with both colored flowers. I did this all in one evening, so you's not too difficult.

I love making gifts for people. And it really is pretty cost effective. I spent $4/skein (2 skeins) and was able to do 3 beanies and 5 flowers. I think shipping is going to cost more than the present.

Happy Winter!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Once There Was a Snowman

It's that time of year...

Time to build a Snowman.

Whether you're starting to feel cabin fever from extreme winter weather or you're like us and snow just doesn't fall on our lawn, I've got the kid friendly activity for you.

Build your snowman inside.

We took this:

And made this:

I took some scrap fabric and made them into bean bags. I cut a front and back of each of the following:

*Carrot nose

*Bow tie or scarf


I sewed them on the outside of the shapes using an overcasting zigzag stitch (That's a straight stitch on the inside and a zigzag on the outside. I used a contrasting thread because I thought it'd be cuter. Remember to leave just a small opening to fill.

The larger shapes (3 circles, hat, boots) I filled with pinto beans. I used a water bottle as a funnel. I just cut off half of the bottle.

The smaller shapes (5 circles, nose, bow) I filled with rice.

I then closed up the holes. I started sewing just a little before where I left off and went a little over the other end.

And when it was all done, we played with our new little friend.

We tossed all his parts in a bowl.
We had a starting line that you had to stay behind.
We then took each of his bits and built a snowman by tossing the beanbags one by one.

The kids loved it. Here are their first attempts:

This is Sugars Snowman:

This is SmallHubs Snowman: (I call him SmallHubs because he looks and acts just like his older model)

And we let Spice adjust the rules when she built her Snowman:

Only a 3 year old can build a snowman in a leotard and tutu (which was probably outfit number 6 for the day, I lose count).

Even Hubs tried to build a Snowman:

WARNING: No mittens were used in the building of these snowmen.

Get Your Craft On Tuesday

Friday, January 14, 2011

Because Super Heros need a place for their cape....

In case you don't know this, now is a great time to hit the thrift stores! Folks have donated to clear their closets for all of the new stuff from Santa. Plus it's a great way to beat cabin fever. It gets the kids out, it doesn't break the bank if I buy a $.50 plastic boat and it keeps an extremely busy 4 1/2 year old occupied for part of the day. (Plus I don't feel bad if I donate it right back a couple of weeks later!)

So thanks to these little escapes to the thrift stores, my project pile has grown! Fun and exciting things are coming your way!

Let's start with this little thing....

It was kind of a mess. It had bright, splotchy, pink paint. And whoever painted it must have done it on newspaper because there was paper stuck to it. But it was half off of $.69 and I had an idea!

I sanded the paint blobs and newspaper off. And then I gave it a coat of primer to try to hide some of the bright pink. And I used my paint pyramids. My brilliant husband got me these for Christmas! Are these perfect for my spray paint addiction or what?!

So after I primed it and sprayed it an off white.

I took it apart....

Modge Podged....

And look how pretty! Perfect for my daughter's room!

I used Command Adhesive strips to hang it. I didn't want to put holes in the door and with the strips I can move it up or down as much as I want.

Now my super hero child has a place to hang her cape and her ever-important purse, that has to go everywhere we go, has a peg as well!

Happy Friday!