Wednesday, April 30, 2014

[Crafty Lady] Fun & Games - Felt Board Quiet Play and Bean Bag Toss

All the children at Ashlynn's party were ages 3 and under.  Since they were all so young, I knew having organized games and activities would be a total waste since most one and two years still haven't quite mastered the whole waiting your turn and following instructions... and actually being excited about it.  I knew the kids would have a blast tearing apart our playroom, because what's more fun than toys in a new environment, even if your kid has the same ones at home.

I decided I'd make two activities for the kids that would double as toys for Ashlynn long after the party ended.  I will fully disclose now that his is a pretty poor How To post since I neglected to take pictures of the before and early during stages.  Apologies for that one!

I first decided instead of a "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" type game, I'd make a felt board.  This would allow the kids to move around the felt pieces and stick them to the board.  No turns needed or right vs. wrong area of where to put them.


It's also now is a great quiet play option for Ashlynn in the mornings or when I'm trying to cook dinner (usually when she's requesting TV, so any activity that can keep the mindless color box off is a win over here).


I went with a Under the Sea theme to go with our party and because Ashlynn still loves Nemo, Dori, and Ariel.  I used cheap Eco Felt from the craft store that I had in my craft room and just cut out my shapes for fish, seaweed, starfish, and a treasure chest.  I sewed most of the fish stripes on directly since I'm usually a little messy with a hot glue gun, and the pieces were so narrow.  I bought stick-on googlely eyes (proper term) and two large pieces of felt from Jo Anns.   I did order two mermaids and starfish on Etsy, they are so cute I couldn't pass it up.


For the board I repurposed an old print, Starry Night, my mom had framed for me back in High School.  It was super lightweight, just a plain white plastic frame with a piece of plexiglass covering the print.  Not sure how the thing managed to follow me around through college and thereafter, but it was laying in storage and I knew I would never hang it.  I had the blue and oatmeal (ocean and sand) felt cut to the height I wanted (24" for the blue and 12" for the tan) since the bolts width were more than enough to cover the width of the frame.


I stretched it around and secured the felt to the back of the frame using hot glue and also glued the sand to the ocean so the loose pieces wouldn't fall between the two.  You could easily get a board of plywood and cover it the same and attach a sawtooth picture hanger to hang.


I hung the board in our playroom using 3M Velcro Strips at the top and bottom of the sides.  Even if Ashlynn did have the strength (and wingspan) to pull it from the wall, it's so lightweight and glass free she wouldn't get hurt.


I hope when I get some time to make some new fish or pieces with letters or numbers on them to use as a teaching tool.  It's not Ashlynn's favorite toy in the world, but something new and I hope as she starts to use her imagination more we find new ways to incorporate it into play.



Next, I decided to make a little bean bag toss.  Again, I know the kids weren't going to team up for a marathon game of cornhole like their dads, but just tossing around the bags or dropping them through the holes might be entertaining and fun -  toddlers always enjoy the simplest of tasks.


I made six bean bags using scrap fabrics in the teal and light blue colors.  I cut 5x5 squares and sewed right sides together leaving a one inch hole at the top to turn inside out and then fill with beans.  I used dried Great Northern (white) beans to fill them.  I then stitched the hole closed and went around the whole perimeter to finish it and add a little extra security from the bag ripping open and beans flying everywhere.


I bought a posterboard sized piece of foam board for less than a dollar at the grocery store and traced some bowls for the holes.  I used a box cutter (carefully!) to cut out the holes and then painted the board and added some 3rd grade effort construction paper fish and sea life using modge podge.

To keep it standing, I attached it to an empty diaper box using spray adhesive that would also double to collect the bags.  This was not the prettiest project I ever made, but it was a really quick project that, again, was virtually free.

Ashlynn loves playing with the bean bags.  We try to toss them on to random objects placed on the floor and I use them for spatial reference teaching (under the table, on top of the kitchen, behind the school bus, etc).  Sometimes the simple homemade games are just as fun as the expensive trendy toys!

Have you made any homemade games?  Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

[Crafty Lady] Party Favors

Whew, it's been a busy few weeks.  Of course, I already filled you in with the craziness of the birthday week and Easter holiday, but last week was barely a slow down.  I was prepping for Ashlynn's party we hosted this past Saturday and of course, trying to stay busy as we can during the week.


Mostly, that included making some last minute do-it-yourself party favors.  I made homemade glitter play dough for the kids and some hair ties for the moms.  The boys, and by boys I mean grown men of legal age, all got warm and happy with more amount of beer and whiskey, than a two year olds party probably should have, so consider that our gift to them.  Cheers!

As soon as I made our first successful batch of homemade play dough around Christmas, I knew I wanted to use it as a favor for Ashlynn's birthday party.  I love making favors and giving something with a bit of a personal stamp.  Even better, Ashlynn was able to help me with it!


I used the same recipe I shared a few month backs, except this time I made three batches.  Red (fruit punch Kool Aid), Purple (grape Kool Aid), and natural (color free).  I also added glitter.  This of course negates any "no fret" if you kid eats some, not that I would market it as truly edible with the amount of salt included. But now I would definitely watch your child or make sure they are the appropriate age if you are going to include glitter in your recipe, too.



Also, it looks pretty.  Even if the sparkle didn't photograph the best.


Each batch produced more than enough to make twelve palm size balls of each color to fit perfect in 8oz mason jars.  I finished off the packaging with some bakers twine around the lid and a thank you sticker label supplied by Tiny Prints.  Tiny Prints was gracious enough to send us coordinating invitations and gift tag stickers which couldn't have been more perfect for our under the sea theme.  I applied each sticker to some colored paper I had on had and punched a hole through the corner.

I mostly used supplies and ingredients I had on hand - flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, oil, twine and paper.  I only had to purchase two $0.29 packs of Kool Aid, two jars of fine craft glitter at $4.99 a pop before my 40% coupon Michael's coupon, and a case of mini mason jars for $7.99.  Cute and thrifty, it's how I roll.   And I even have a decent amount of dough leftover for us!


I had toyed with the idea of adding mermaid colored (you know, purple and teal, the universal colors of mermaids, am I right?) hair bows for the little girls.  But when I couldn't think of a similar idea for the boys, I decided I'd just do some hair ties for the moms.  Not only did this save me money from buying bow clips from an Etsy shop, it was a way to incorporate the mama's into the fun.

I bought some fold over elastic on etsy, 5/8ths elastic in seafoam and radiant orchid and 3/8th in silver glitter.  I used Colleen's tutorial and sealed the ends by placing near the flame of a candle to prevent any fraying. Again, I made some holders with colored paper mounted to cardstock and our Tiny Prints gift tag stickers.  I have a bunch of elastic left over, so I'll stock up my own hair tie and headband collection since I love the soft elastic hair ties for myself.  Maybe I'll even find a sewing project to use some on.

Overall, was super easy and a nice extra way to add some color to the spread and appreciation for our guests.



I'll recap the party later this week!

Monday, April 28, 2014

T-W-O




I can't believe I have a two year old, where has time gone?  I know, it's totally cliche, but while it seems like she's been around forever, two years just sounds so long ago (also means I've been out of the workforce just as long which I think makes seem even stranger.  it doesn't seem like it's been that long.






This post is pretty Baby Book in depth.  I'm sure more details and things mentioned than most people care to read, but it's really for my own archival purposes.  She's just so much fun, so communicative, and I love watching her imagination flourish.


Height:  32" (11%)
Weight:  24lb 5oz (18%)
Teeth: 16... just waiting on those two year old molars!
Clothes:  Mostly 2T
Shoes: depends on the shoe, fits in 5 or 5.5 perfectly.  Buying up.
Nickname:  Ashie (what she calls herself)



Sayings: 

We've long moved past tallying her vocabulary, here are some of our favorite phrases, phonetical words, and language skills.

- "shum" : Mainly when Daddy is eating something, she asks "shum?"
- "geen" : green
- "nast-tics" : gymnastics
- "pat pat" : Little Einsteins
- "Dough-we" : Dori (Finding Nemo)
- "Memo" : Nemo
- "dee-ya" : quesadilla
- "nana" : banana
- "dip" : hummus
- "boo-bear-wees" :  blueberries
- "chalk-et" : chocolate
- "cawfee" :  Any liquid of mommy's
- "hoop" : basketball hoop, the basketball, or people playing basketball
- "mail" : cards, paper, boxes

Since her birthday (over a week now) she wakes saying, "Happy Birthday!" and then equates her birthday to requesting "donuts?"

If I ask someone a question or get stopped while out, she'll declare "lady" or "man" as soon as they walk away.

"Cheers!" for everything.  Before each meal we "cheers" our forks (usually twice).  She also will ask repeatedly through meals to "see?" to see what's in my bowl, cup, and even mouth.  She declare "DONE!" whenever anyone is finished eating.

She can count to ten, but if I ask her "how many?" she'll say "1, 6, 7"

Identifying everything by color.  Purple shoes, gold shoes, purple coat, blue binky, pink bink, blue spoon.  Anytime we go some where, like Red Store (Target), she points out the colors of everything.

Two.  She let's me know when there are two of something.  Two cups.  Two doggies.  Two school buses.  Or even better when driving the other day we saw a school bus which she yelled out "yellow school bus" and when the one behind it passed she said "'nother school bus".

Likes:

Movies - Frozen and Finding Nemo

TV - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, Sheriff Callie (cow-wie), Sophia the First, and "Hook" (Jake and Neverland Pirates)

Books - If You Give a Mouse books, Flora and the Flamingo, Green Eggs and Ham, and Teddy Bears Picnic

Toys - Cami (little mommy doll), Tea Pot and Treat Tower,

Food - Breakfast foods, all of them.  Eggs, french toast, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, donuts, fruit.  Mac and cheese (with peas), pasta of any kind usually with veggies mixed in, casserole dishes, enchildadas, quesadillas, hummus, greek yogurt, egg salad, cheese, goldfish, animal crackers, blueberries,strawberries, raisins, bananas, kiwi, avocado.

Places - Playground, loves it. Asks to go every day.  Also enjoys story time where we can sing and get stamps and stickers at the end.  Music class where she gets to use egg shakers and drum sticks.  She even gets them and returns them on her own with no protest.  And starting to love gymnastics class, even though she's the youngest, I think (I would) that she listens to and follows the instructor better than the other children.  Also loves getting stamps at the end of this class.

People - Naturally mommy and daa-DEEEE are her favs.  Fiona (fona) and Hazel are her besties and she's learning to play and share with them.  And of course she loves all her grandparents (she's got six!)

Songs - Hello Song is requested daily.  Itsy Bitsy, Twinkle Twinkle, and Wheels on the Bus she'll sing along (as best she can with the majority of the words) and do all the movements.  See also "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"

Activities:  Dancing, playing with her shadow, bubbles, baking (helping mix ingredients), running (gets excited when she's running), and slides at the playground.


Dislikes:

If I ask if she wants to use the potty.
Chicken.
Getting her hair washed and dried
Brushing her teeth (will only do it if I do it too)
Diaper changes
Coming in from outside
Hunger (tantrumville, only throw tantrums when hungry... hangry like her mama)
Anyone who enters her bubble of personal space.


Sleep:

Bed between 7-7:30pm and generally sleeping through until 6-6:30am.  She'll stay in bed until her light turns yellow at 6:45am.   Naps around 12-2, sometimes earlier, and not always two hours, but generally stays up there until her clock turns yellow which is two and half hours after she is put down.  She normally hangs out with her crew - Bunny, Blank, Bink (which is not allowed out of the crib), Cat, Bear, Mira, Mickey, and Minnie.... oh and bathtime Sophie was added at some point last week.

Still in the crib and finally got a pillow a few weeks ago.  I gave her one from the guest bedroom and she was ridiculously excited.  I got an email from babycenter a week later saying that toddlers should only have tiny firm pillows or none at all, got freaked out, and now she has a time firm lumber pillow.  My pediatrician said it was fine for her to get one, so when we convert the crib to toddler bed and get her some new bedding I'll grab a pillow then.  We won't be getting a real bed until she is potty trained.

*****

While she definitely grew more physically during her first year of life, her personality took off in the second.  She is so genuinely kind and loving.  She's never hit, bit, or had an act of true malicious or mean behavior, just the occasional playing too rough or doing something because she thinks it's funny and doesn't realize it's hurtful.  She's learning to share as best a two year old can, but we haven't experienced any crazy "mine" moments yet.  However, I know they are coming with Kenley's mobility!  She might not be a child prodigy (that we are aware), but she is so smart, putting things together I wouldn't expect her to and knowing a lot of basic toddler concepts (colors, shapes, numbers, big vs little, fast vs slow, etc).  I'm continually amazed how much she changes, how fun she is, and how fast time flies.  Most of all, how wonderful of a sister she is.  She is so infatuated with her little sister and is so sweet and gentle with her.  I can't wait to watch them both grow.  Here's to 2!




Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Break

Whew, feels like I went on vacation with that leave of absence from blogging.  We had a fairly jammed packed week with lots of bunnies, grandparents, appointments, and presents.  I'll do a separate post about Ashlynn turning two, but here is the quickest recap I can do of the last 10 days or so... which means this is quite lengthy.


Two Saturdays ago, we headed over to our community Easter Egg hunt.  Ashlynn wasn't so sure about the crowds and what the heck we were doing, but once she was allowed to run off and fill her bag with the eggs she was in heaven!




She was pretty excited about the Easter Bunny, but this was as close as she was going to get.


After, we swung by Wegmans (and saw the Easter Bunny again - he moves fast!) and took a nice family walk around our 'hood.  She went down for her nap a little earlier than normal, and stayed up there for ever.  I finally had to go in to get her up, since she was just sitting contently for almost an hour.  After I got her changed she complained of a boo-boo on her foot.  I kissed it and we went downstairs.  Which is when I noticed she wouldn't walk on it at all.  Crying out to be picked up and crawling around.  I got her seated to eat some lunch, which she did fine.  It didn't seem like she was in any serious pain (no serious crying, or even wincing when I tried to inspect where the pain was coming from).  No swelling, no bruising.  No cuts or splinters.  I almost took her Urgent Care, but after talking with the Husband (the underreactor - to my overreactor), we decided to give it the night.  The next morning she still wouldn't walk.  By 10 or 11am she was standing and limping around and did that most of the day.  On Monday, I called the pedi because limping seemed worse if not the same, but definitely not better as she would hobble along then collapse after so many steps.

We got in a few hours later and we told to go get an X-Ray.  On the way there I had a small panic attack.  This kid had just freaked out when the nurse took her temp (in her ear) and when the doctor tried to inspect her legs and foot.  She does NOT like strangers touching her and entering her bubble.  How the hell was going to get her to lay still for an X-Ray?!  I swung by Starbucks and grabbed a cake pop and chocolate milk.. and an iced coffee because I was going to need a reward too.

We got there and waited close to nap time for them to call us back.  She was absolutely amazing.  I did get to stay next to her and actually hold her leg and foot in the positions they needed while the tech ran back to run the machine.  She laid on the metal table in the dark room under the large scary machine and didn't even have tears well.  I had talked about going to get pictures of her leg the whole ride there hoping it would help, maybe it did.  Every time the machine ran I would say it was taking a picture and hold still "snap".  I think the pillow on the table helped too since we had just given her a pillow in bed a week before.


We finished and were told to wait for the results, she got her cake pop as a reward and I never even had to use it as leverage.  We actually had to go back for an additional shot of the foot and do the whole thing a second time, which she was again, amaze and she got her chocolate milk after that.  I couldn't have been more proud.

Tuesday, she was still limping a bit and it rained all day.  I debated going to the Magic Show at the library because it was pouring and carrying a baby in the carseat and helping a limping toddler up 30 some steps she insists on doing herself to the door didn't really sound like a good time, but neither did staying home.  We got soaked, but she had fun and it was well worth the effort.  After her nap, we watched some Frozen, a rainy day must.

By Wednesday she was finally walking around like nothing had happened. I took the girls to Target in the morning and then Nany came to watch them while I headed to the dentist.  I honestly can't remember what we did that afternoon other than bake muffins  (surprise surprise).

Thursday we had our first day of gymnastics at the Y.  It's a "mommy and me" class for 2 year olds, Ashlynn being the youngest since she technically wasn't 2 yet.  It's semi structured with ten minutes of open play, ten minutes circle time, ten open, ten circle.  Just enough structure to get them to listen and follow the instructor and not so much they are totally lost to toddler ADD.  She cried the two times to instructor tried to help do a birdie swing on the bars and forward roll down the wedge, otherwise she loved it.  Hopefully, she start to warm up as we go back each week.

We came home to Mimi waiting and had some snacks.  Ashlynn took a nap and woke up to some birthday presents.  Her very own Bitty Baby with layette set and a tutu made special just for her.  Of course, she loved the singing Ariel music box card most.






Mimi left Friday morning after some birthday banana sprinkle pancakes in a Mickey Mouse shape.  We followed her out the door to another Easter Egg hunt.  We met up with friends and let the traffic fade out while scarfing down birthday donuts tailgate style.  Ashlynn woke up from her nap to her Bopo and Yaya.  She showed them around all her new toys, of course while wearing her new tutu and got to open her new mower and soccer goal before heading out to dinner and finishing the night with waiters singing Happy Birthday when she got her own sundae.


Saturday we lazed around in the morning, eating left over donuts and cleaned up the house for our afternoon company.  My brother in law came down with his wife and our four neices to celebrate some more.  Nany and Pop came over a few hours later and we all had pizza and some Easter themed dirt pudding.   Ashlynn had a blast chasing around her older cousins and helping with twin babies.




Sunday started when I got to her crib and she said, "happy birthday!" I corrected her, "Happy Easter".  I made her some bunny pancakes and the Easter bunny dropped the girls baskets at the front door.  Of course, by the time she got to the door, he was long gone.  So fast that bunny!


Ashylnn loved her fairy wings and Minnie camera.  We were able to use the bubbles and sidewalk later in the afternoon because it was such a gorgeous day.  We even took our first family walk around the neighborhood in the wagon she got for Christmas.


It's been a great week and this one is sure to be a major buzzkill.  We start with her two year check up this morning and I'm crossing my fingers we can make it the first five minutes before the tears start.  I hope everyone had a great Easter, Passover, and Spring Break!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Under Two'sday - Last Chance

Well, in three days I will no longer have two under two.  Just, you know, one who is two and one who's still an infant.  Jury's still out if that means things are magically easier... my guess is no.


No specific focus this week.  In the last 19 weeks (sidenote:  It's funny to me that the girls are 19 months apart in age and apparently had 19 weeks together until Ashlynn turned two), I've managed to juggle nursing and toddler meals - which always seem to happen simultaneously, getting to the store - and filling the cart when it's already filled with children, and of course sleep.  Although, I'm still juggling that last one.

It's hard to compare what having a toddler and baby is like to a pre-schooler or kid and baby.  I'm sure they all bring their fair share of difficulties, especially with scheduling and running an older child to from activities with a possible fussy or hungry baby in tow.  As much as I think being on lock down this cruel winter, I'm glad I had the time to adjust with nowhere else to be or things to do.

Did Ashlynn get more tv than I'd like on those long cold snowed in days so I could feed a baby without being climbed on, or make dinner or shower? Sure.  Did I have two kids melting down at the same time and want to plug my ears and shout "I can't hear you! Lalalalalala"? Of course.  But it's so easy to let the hard times slip from your memory and only catalog the sweet moments.

With Ashlynn, I'm convinced she's one of the sweetest sisters around.  I know this might change a bit when Kenley gets mobile and starts taking Ashlynn's toys, but for now the love shared between them is nothing short of this mama being melted into puddle of gratitude.  We have two happy and healthy girls, could not feel luckier, and can't wait to watch them grow and them develop a bond that will last their lifetime.










Monday, April 14, 2014

[Giveaway] Freshly Picked!

Hey guys.... it's Ashlynn's Birthday week!

So in addition to breakfast foods, playground trips, and practicing the birthday song, we are giving away a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins.




We are huge Freshly Picked fans (and that 'we' really is plural including both Ashlynn and my husband).  Ashlynn loves requesting to wear her gold shoes (platinum) and purple shoes (radiant orchid), they slip on easier than any other pair or shoes we own and of course, stay on her feet - the biggest wins in my husband and my book.  Though, it doesn't hurt we get compliment from strangers every time she wears them.  I'm chomping at the bit for Kenley's feet to grow a smidge more so she can wear her blush moccs I picked up on Black Friday (the day I went into labor!).

We were lucky enough to receive the gorgeous radiant orchid color for our review in conjunction with this giveaway.  Like our platinum pair, they are so soft, quality made, and best of all toddler approved - Ashlynn flipped over the purple color, her favorite, and put them on immediately.  No exaggerations. 



While I'll admit, they aren't the cheapest footwear option out there, I think they are definitely worth the price.  Our platinum pair has lasted a solid six months now and still fit, when we decide to retire them, they'll still be in great condition for Kenley to grow into.  I love that we can rock them with dresses or play clothes, so it beats buying multiple pairs for different occasions that she'd grow out of faster.  For us, the cost has been offset by all the use we've gotten (price per wear if you will).


Lastly, you know I love supporting other mama businesses and not only is Susan the queen of making an idea, hobby, and passion, a true business model, but she is good people.  Always helping others trying to grow their businesses and, along with her team, genuinely as sweet as they come.  I'm a sucker for customer service and businesses with heart.

Happy Monday, friends!  Enter below and good luck!




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