Friday, September 30, 2011

Silly Questions from September

"Why does My Little Pony have a tattoo?" (September 13, 2011)
Okay, I don't really know the answer to this one, but the real question for me was "How does Mia know what a tattoo is?"

"Mom, did you know that glue is sticky?" (September 13, 2011)
Um, yep. I did know that. But I am glad she figured it out.

"Football is brought to you by McDonald's? No way!" (September 17, 2011)

Mia: "Did Logan drink out of my juice cup?"
Me: "I don't think so."
Mia: "Good. 'Cause I just tasted it and it tasted like Logan flavor." (September 22, 2011)
I can't even begin to guess what Logan flavor tastes like, but apparently it is distinctive. And for the record, I lied. I saw him drink out of the cup.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boo to You: Year #2

Last year, I decided to try something new in our neighborhood. We delivered Boo boxes to a couple of neighbors. It was fun, but it didn't spread as far as I hoped. So this year, I am starting with a couple of changes. Instead of giving the first neighbors their treats along with the Boo sign (printed on orange construction paper) and note (printed on regular computer paper), I made enough copies to spread throughout the entire neighborhood and put them in two plastic scrapbook page sleeves. One sleeve goes along with the first Boo box recipient and the other goes to the second recipient. My hope is that by making all the copies in advance, people will have less of an excuse to not keep it going. I also re-typed the directions so that two fit per page, and added that a garage door would also be a good location to display the Boo sign. At the bottom of the notes for my first two recipients, I added a hand-written explanation that for all of the copies, and added that they are the first ones so it's up to them to keep the fun going! My fingers are crossed that this will work (assuming that I choose the first neighbors wisely).

Overall, this year's Boo boxes are cuter than last year's. I again found take-out style containers. They are black paper with cobwebs and bats on them, and I think they came from Michael's or Jo-Ann, but I don't remember which exactly. It was after Halloween last year. I also bought two pumpkin shaped kitchen scrub sponges and two sets of cute wooden candy corn paper clips from Michael's on clearance after Halloween last year. I included some jack-o'-lantern erasers that I got on clearance at Target last year and a small package of peanut butter filled cheese sandwich crackers. Ours are from Sam's Club, but you can get them at any grocery store. There is no candy in this year's Boo boxes because I didn't have any in the house. I cut out the directions using crimping scissors, rolled them up, and tied them with a ribbon. Then I closed up the containers and tied lots of different ribbons onto the handle. They are all "Halloween colors" -- orange, black, green, purple. I am really happy with the results.

Recycled School Bus Craft

{Milk Jug School Bus by Mia, Age 4}
I am a bit behind in posting this project idea. We actually did it earlier this month shortly after school had started. Anyway, it is still good to share. The best feature is the real working wheels (which is an idea I found here)! My only disclaimer is that your kids will sing many rounds of "The Wheels on the Bus" while making this craft. I thought it was fun that Mia spontaneously burst into song, but if that's a deal-breaker for you, feel free to stop reading. One other important thing to note is that this craft requires a lot of adult preparation. The kids really just decorated their bus projects.
{OJ Carton Bus by Logan, Age 2}
  • newspaper (to protect work surface)
  • 1/2 gallon milk jug (or OJ carton)
  • yellow paint (or yellow paper)
  • paint brush
  • wooden skewers
  • four-five plastic bottle caps
  • two plastic drinking straws
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue (optional)
  • white labels/stickers (or construction paper)
  • push pin (optional)
  1. Lay down newspaper to protect your work surface. Then paint your milk jug yellow. (Note: We also tried painting our OJ carton, and I don't recommend this. It didn't cover the writing very well, even with a second coat. If using an OJ carton, I would advise covering it with yellow construction paper.) Allow paint to dry.
  2. While paint dries, make your axles. First, poke a hole in the center of each lid. I started my hole with a push pin and then widened it with the pointed end of the skewer. (The writer of the original tutorial says to use a box cutter, but I thought why not try something safer and see if it works? It did.) Next, cut your straws so they are slightly wider than your jug or carton. Stick the skewer into one lid (I made the pointed part point inward), slide the straw on top, trim your skewer with scissors (I was cutting off the sharp end), and then push the skewer into your second bottle cap. (The writer of the original tutorial suggests that you can add a small amount of glue to hold the caps on. I didn't do this, but in retrospect, I think it would have helped.) Repeat these steps to make a second set of wheels. If using glue, make sure it dries completely.
  3. Tape both sets of wheels to the bottom of your jug or carton.
  4. Decorate you bus as desired. Mia and Logan added blank white labels for windows. Some of them I had trimmed down. Mia decorated with markers. Ours aren't very fancy, but you could get really complex with windshield wipers, door, stop sign, writing on the sides, people in the windows, a driver, etc.
  5. Enjoy playing with your bus with real working wheels! (And then, if you're like me, quickly stick them on top of your 'fridge and forget about them because your 2 year old played so roughly that the wheels kept popping off and your were worried he would poke himself in the eye... But really, enjoy! The milk jug handle makes a nice way to push the bus around.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Hand Print Tree for Fall

{Fall Hand Print Tree by Mia, Age 4}
  • paper
  • brown crayon
  • Bingo markers
  • green crayon
  • newspaper 

  1. Trace around your child's hand and forearm using a brown crayon.
  2. Color in tree trunk and limbs with brown crayon. Mia also drew some extra branches.
  3. Protect your work surface by placing newspaper under your paper. Add leaves using Bingo markers in fall colors. Mia chose to use green, red, orange, and purple, all of which we bought at Dollar Tree. (Okay, when I came up with this craft idea I envisioned a fuller tree, but Mia decided that most of the leaves were falling, so that is why they are all down the sides of the tree.)
  4. As a finishing touch, draw some grass at the bottom of the paper with a green crayon. Add fallen leaves to the grass, if desired.

Autumn Tree Collage

{Autumn Tree Collage by Mia, Age 4}
  • tissue paper in fall colors 
  • paper (or printable tree template)
  • brown crayon
  • scissors
  • glue
  • foam paintbrush (optional)
  • green crayon (optional)
  1. Draw a tree using a brown crayon. We traced Mia's hand and forearm for this but you could also use a printable template if you prefer.
  2. Cut or tear small pieces of brown, red, yellow, and green tissue paper. (We had no orange, but this would also be nice for the leaves.)
  3. Cover the tree trunk and area where you will put leaves with glue. (We watered ours down very slightly and applied it with a foam paintbrush.)
  4. Adhere brown tissue paper to the trunk of the tree and various other fall colored tissue paper where you would like the leaves to be. You could also add some tissue paper to look like falling or fallen leaves if you wish.
  5. Mia chose to draw grass with a green crayon to finish her collage. You could also make grass with pieces of green tissue paper or cut a long rectangle and use scissors to fringe it before gluing it to your paper. 

Dotty Apple Tree Craft

Yesterday the kids received a gift wrapped in bright green tissue paper, and I was inspired to do another take on last year's apple tree craft.
{Apple Tree by Mia, Age 4}

  • paper (or printable tree template) 
  • red Bingo marker (crayon/marker/paint would also work) 
  • green tissue paper/crepe paper (or construction paper) 
  • brown crayon (or colored pencil or marker) 
  • scissors 
  • glue 
  • green crayon (optional) 
  • foam paintbrush (optional)  

  1. Draw a tree or use a printable template if you prefer. Mia wanted me to trace her hand and forearm with brown crayon to make the tree trunk and branches. 
  2. Color in tree trunk and branches using a brown crayon.
  3. Cut or tear small pieces of green tissue paper, crepe paper, or construction paper.
  4. Glue green paper pieces onto the paper to make the tree's leaves. (We used a foam paintbrush and very slightly watered down Elmer's glue.)
  5. After glue is dry, use a red Bingo marker (Ours is from Dollar Tree.) to make apples on the tree.
  6. Mia finished her project by making grass with green crayon. You could also use your green paper pieces or cut fringe along one long rectangle of paper and glue down.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brought to You by the Letters P, G, and W

Logan has had another big language explosion in the past couple of weeks since he turned two. It's funny to me because I am realizing that before I know it, I will be trying to keep track of his funny sayings and not just new approximations, sounds, and words. For right now, though, I am excited to see him building off of some sounds that he has learned, "p," "g," and "w."

New exclamations include "wow!" (said when he saw his birthday present from Grandma and Grandpa-- a tricycle) and "woohoo!"

Some new sounds that Logan makes are a "whistle" to call the dog, a "siren" when he is playing with his firetrucks or police cars, a pretend "snore," and he copies Mia whenever she "coughs." (This drives her nuts, but new language is new language!)

He has several new words, too! While we were Up North, he wanted black pepper on something we were eating at dinner and twice asked for "pepper" very clearly. Then, one day last week he looked very sad and when I asked what was wrong, he replied, "poop." Sure enough, when I checked his diaper, it was poopy. I haven't heard him say it since, but I am hopeful that he will keep using this word because it is one of the first really functional words he has learned to say. During his most recent visit from his home teacher, last Thursday, he identified and labeled "keys" in a book. Yesterday, he called me "Mommy" for the first time. I think he still prefers Mama, but we will see how this plays out.

His teacher, Ms. Michelle, also got him to start making a sound when asked what Mia's name was. He doesn't get the "m" sound but he is saying something and it sounds like it has the "ia" in it. He had never said anything before when I asked him to say her name so this was exciting. Now, he will make his sound every time we ask. Later that day, he started saying his own version of Daddy, too, "Gaggy." This is great improvement because he was still avoiding saying anything, not even dada, when we wanted him to identify his daddy. Later that same day, Logan held out his messy hands after eating and informed me that they were "gucky." He has continued to use this to let me know his hands are yucky and need to be cleaned. Other recent approximations that Logan has begun using are "geen" for green and "puh puh" for purple. (He says purple pretty often now which has helped him get a sucker and Pedialyte when he wanted them.) And just today I repeatedly heard him say something that sounded "Click" while watching Diego, and it was always at the appropriate times when the characters asked the viewers to say the camera's name.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Button Bird Craft Project

This is a cute idea that I got from Angela of Button Bird Designs, that I am sharing with her permission. I had tucked this away in my mind for a time when Mia wanted to do a project and I didn't have any other craft ideas. I made some minor changes to make it a tad bit more young child friendly, but the idea is purely Angela's and I love it!
{Button Birds by Mia, Age 4}
  • wood for base (We used a blank wood plaque from Salvation Army. Scrap wood would work, too.)
  • fabric (we used pink and purple felt) or decorative paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • bird template (optional)
  • paint (we used acrylic)
  • paint brush (foam works well)
  • newspaper to protect work surface
  • buttons
  • tacky glue
  • hardware for hanging
  • ribbon for hanging (optional)
  1. Cover work surface with newspaper and then paint your wood base. Allow paint to dry. (If using acrylic paint, wear old clothes or a paint smock as acrylics will stain clothing. Mia wears an old t-shirt of mine when doing painting projects.)
  2. While paint dries, make a bird (or two) from fabric or paper. I folded the felt in half, drew a bird freehand, and then cut out two separate birds from pink felt. Next, I cut out two teardrop shapes from purple felt to make a wing for each bird. If you prefer not to draw your own bird, you could also use a template such as this or this.
  3. Arrange your fabric (or paper) bird pieces and glue onto the wood with tacky glue. Embellish with buttons. Allow all glue to dry.
  4. Add hardware to the back of the wood for hanging. I didn't have any hardware on hand so I took another one of Angela's ideas. I hot glued two pin backs to the back of our wood plaque. Lastly, I threaded some ribbon (optional) through both of the pin backs, tied them, and voila, a new piece of artwork for Mia's bedroom door!
Other Ideas:
  • Angela uses Modge Podge instead of tacky glue, and I think that this will hold much better in the long run, but it isn't something I like to use with Mia because she is so young.
  • I had originally thought that the two birds could be facing each other and have a heart between their beaks to be "love birds," but Mia had her own design ideas.
  • I may take this idea and expand it beyond birds. For example, Mia's bedroom has a butterfly theme, so butterflies might be cute. I could also see making different fruits like apples and pears and hanging them in a kitchen or dining room. Angels would be pretty for Christmas decorations. There are so many possibilities!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Make Your Own Craft Foam Stamps

    After reading this article in FamilyFun Magazine, I was inspired to come up with a similar, but smaller scale stamping project for Mia. Unlike the original craft, we didn't have to buy anything special (like a mailing tube); we used what we already had, including leftover adhesive foamies from Logan's birthday party craft. We tried both ink and markers with our stamps, but I am sure paint would work as well since this is what they used for the magazine craft project. I just figured that my way would be less messy, and I didn't want to clean up paint.

    {Self-adhesive cars and trucks applied to cardboard from our recycling bin}

    {Ink on a long rainbow stamp pad and stamp onto paper to create fun stationery.}

    {Self-adhesive sailboats on cardboard from our recycling bin}

    {Add some marker, stamp onto paper, and draw some waves for a greeting card.}

    {I stamped this airplane using blue ink and then used markers to draw clouds and a loop-di-loop for a fun picture.}  

    {I wondered how it would work if we adhered the foamies directly to a brayer and then inked it and rolled onto the paper?}
    {Turns out this makes a nice rolling stamper.}
    {Don't have a brayer? Just use a paper towel tube.}
    {Artist at Work}
    {Mia's rolling stamp art}

    One Last Summer Craft

    {The pie tin was handy for catching stray sand.}

    After a recent trip Up North to see Grandma and Grandpa, I let Mia collect some sand to go along with her shells (zebra mussels). I had seen this project for a mermaid wand in the FamilyFun Magazine and figured she would love it. We used a skewer in place of a dowel, which I don't necessarily recommend for two reasons: 1) they are sharp, and 2) it's not as long as a dowel. (That said, I had skewers on hand, and it worked fine.) I wasn't sure where the tacky glue was so we used regular Elmer's glue in its place. I also do not recommend this. The sand was falling off (although I am not entirely convinced this wouldn't happen will tacky glue, too), so I ended up throwing it away. Shhh. Don't tell Mia. Here are the actual directions for making the mermaid wand craft. Of course, theirs looks much more professional. This is the 4 year old version.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Herbed French Dip Sandwiches

    Last night was Mia's first tap class, so I decided it was a good day to do a Crock Pot dinner. Since roasts were BOGO at Kroger, these delicious and easy to make French Dip sandwiches were a natural choice. Once again, I am putting a favorite recipe here since I still haven't gotten my act together and organized all my recipes!
    • 1 lean beef roast (3 to 4 pounds)
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1 beef bouillon cube
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 3 to 4 whole peppercorns
    • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • hard rolls or French bread
    1. Remove and discard all visible fat from roast. Place in a slow cooker.
    2. Combine soy sauce, bouillon, and spices, and pour over roast. Add water to almost cover roast. Cover and cook over low heat for 10-12 hours or until meat is very tender. (Note: Our actual cook time is 6 hours on low, so cooking times may vary!)
    3. Remove meat and discard bay leaf; reserve cooking juices. Shred meat with two forks. Serve cooking juices as a dipping sauce.
    Makes 12 Servings (This is what the recipe tells me, however, it's so popular at our house we apparently eat more than we are supposed to!)