Thursday, November 29, 2012

homemade holidays: color pegs

The Mr and I have bought a few things for Baby Wonder for Christmas this year, though we are keeping the presents from us minimal. Part of this is because he has so many toys that any more will end up being donated, as we have no more room after his birthday at the end of October. The other part is that, although he is young, it is important to the Mr and I that Baby Wonder (and his upcoming sister) doesn't get absorbed in the selfishness that can overcome children when a gift giving holiday approaches. The earlier we instill the less materialistic side of Christmas in our children, the sooner we can explore together as a family how to celebrate this blessed and magical time of year.

We are using this year a model for "Santa's" gift giving that I really like. Our goal is to focus on things other than presents, but let's be honest, there are few things more magical than waking up on Christmas morning to a tree full of beautifully wrapped gifts. We may double this in years to come... I am not bent on following this strictly, though the idea is wonderful.

We've adopted this outlook for Christmas:
1 thing I want
1 thing I need
1 thing I'll wear
1 thing I'll read

We'll use this year as a trial run since he's still a little young to understand what that all means. With any luck, this will encourage our children to prioritize and think about what they truly would like, as well as leaving room to focus on other aspects of the holiday season, as opposed to viewing Christmas as a free-for-all.

I have really wanted to focus on learning with Baby Wonder recently. I don't know what has made me fall so far behind where I thought I should be in teaching him, but that's where we are. Only going forward!

Baby Wonder's "1 thing I need" this year will be color matching pegs. He knows some of his colors, but still gets them mixed up occasionally, so I thought this would be perfect!

I like that it is a hands-on way to identify different colors.
We can play multiple different learning games with this set.
I made these for him (another thing that I love about them)

These are pretty straight forward to make.

Here's what you need:

Acrylic paints, as many colors as you would like to introduce
Sponge brushes (I found these were easiest to work with for this)
Wooden pegs
Wooden pots

This is how the pegs come. I found them in JoAnn's unfinished wood section. They come 2 to a pack for $1.99 each

The pots come similarly packaged, though they come 8 to a pack. You can buy multiple packs if you want to add more colors, but I was happy with the variety I had. The pots are $4.99 per pack, but I used a coupon so I got them for 50% off.

(Commercial: if you don't have the JoAnn's app on your phone, download it! And Michael's and Hobby Lobby, too... It's like constantly having a coupon in your pocket.)

Paint one peg and one pot matching colors. You'll need several coats, so give yourself an afternoon to keep coming back to this project.

The concept is pretty straight forward, but I'm so excited to show Baby Wonder. He loves games like this, and I know he'll have his colors down in no time!

Monday, November 26, 2012

homemade holidays: rag quilt

I have always wanted a Christmas quilt.

The cold weather of the Christmas season begs for warm blankets and hot apple cider. My favorite part of the season is when the Christmas tree lights are the only lights on and I'm curled up on the couch, peaceful and content with peace (and silence) of my home.

In order to accomplish this fantasy in the most ideal setting, I decided I needed a Christmas quilt.

I made two different kinds, and I'm still not sure which one I will be gifting and which one we will keep for our couch. It will ultimately come down to my husband, I'm sure.

I only have a tutorial for the rag quilt I made, since the other quilt is less complex and I didn't take any pictures.

To make a THROW sized rag quilt, here's what you need:
  • 1/2 yards of 9 different types of Christmas FLANNEL. This project will not work with cotton; flannel is a must. I bought all of my flannel at JoAnn's. I was lucky and found material I LOVED, so I ended up using only 6 different types of fabric and doubling the measurement to a full yard for 3 styles.
  • 2 1/2 yards of solid color flannel. I used white, but you can change it depending on your color scheme. 
  • 6 yards of quilt binding. You can buy 2 packs of pre-packaged binding (that's what I did) or make your own.
  • A sewing machine, coordinating thread, ruler, & rotary cutter or scissors. 
Here's how to do it:

Cut each half yard of your Christmas flannel into 2 six-inch pieces and 2 three-inch pieces. If you're doing any full yards, like I did, you'd just double that. I went back and bought my extra fabric after I had put together the quilt originally... it was then I decided it was too small and wanted more strips. That's why the first few pictures don't have all the material shown. Don't get confused!

Cut your solid flannel into 9 three-inch pieces and 9 six-inch pieces. You don't need to double these, as they are going to be in the middle of each patterned set. See below!

Sandwich one piece of solid flannel in between two pieces of patterned flannel. Use the same pattern; one side is the front, one is the back. It should look like this:

Pin down the center of your sandwiched pieces. Don't be stingy with your straight pins :)

Repeat until all of your 3 inch and 6 inch pieces are sandwiched and pinned. Lay out your quilt in a pattern you like. *It was here I decided it would be too small, so I went back and bought and additional half yard of the grey, white, and red snowflake flannel. Those additional stripes aren't shown here*

You'll have to use picture clues to figure this part out, as it is hard to explain. You'll want to pick one side of your quilt to be the FRONT and one side to be the BACK. One side will have the "rag" look, and the other will be totally smooth (like a standard quilt). It is important to pay attention to which side you are sewing together so this stays consistent. When you sew, be sure to leave a seam allowance of about a 1/2 inch. you will snip this part later to create a fringe. 

this is how to lay out your fabric to sew together

the rag side

the flat side.

The next step is the most time consuming thing you will ever do in your life. Get comfortable. After your blanket is all sewn, flip to the rag side and clip the fringe left behind on all the rows. You want to do this at about half inch intervals, though there really isn't a science behind it.

Bind your blanket around the edges.

Wash and dry! This part will really fluff the rag side, giving you a finished look.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

homemade holidays: paint stick ornaments

I KNOW it's the beginning of November.

I haven't taken out the Christmas decorations, and I've continued to hold back from the Silent Night verses I want to listen to so badly. But crafting? That cannot be stopped.

This is our first year as a family in our own home for the holidays, and while Baby Wonder and I won't be home for Thanksgiving, since I am "resting and recovering" with Nana and Poppy for month number 8 of this pregnancy, we will be home in plenty of time to enjoy our tiny townhouse for the Christmas season.

Because of this, I have a ton of projects I want to do this year. Nearly everyone is getting a homemade gift this year, and there are quite a few crafts for our home I want to make as well. Beacuse of this, I decided to get a head start this month. I want to be able to ENJOY the sesaon of Christmas, to help my tiny tot (and busy husband) remember the true reason for Christmas, and for our family to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of December.

I am finishing up my Christmas shopping no later than Black Friday (though it is strickly online shopping for me), and most of my gifts I plan on being done before that.

I am doing as much as I can while I am here with my parents; I intentionally left room in my suitcase to get all my projects home! It's silly to stress about it when I get home in December, and this is the situation I was delt. Cry or deal.

Unfortunatly, there isn't much I can share on here, as no one I'm crafting for has gotten their presents yet! When I get around to Baby Wonder's Homemade Holidays, I will of course share. As of now, I can share these little gift tags/ornaments my aunt and I made. I plan on attatching them to family & friends' gifts, as well as to our neighbor gifts... and probably keeping a few for our tree, too! I certainly made enough.

 The tutorial and free printables are here, and I won't steal her thunder by reposting how to do it.

I just LOVE it when a craft turns out exactly like I wanted it to. The shots below are some of my favorites; but this is no where near how many I actually made. These make me happy :)

told you I made lots!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a walk on the beach

We went for a walk on the beach because, well, it's November and I don't exactly get to do that very often.

It was nice to get out of the house or off the back patio for a while. Don't get me wrong, the view from the back patio is spectacular, but it is still nice to rearrange your surroundings for a little while. Doesn't make you feel as stuck.

I'm still managing, though reports of "I'm doing great!" or "Look at me go!" are still a couple months away.

My midwife warned me that it would get worse before it gets better, and she was right (imagine that). Still, I'm not on mandatory bed rest, I am able to walk around, albeit slowly and somewhat comically, and for these things I am grateful. I can still get on the floor to color with Baby Wonder (though that's pretty much where I stay for the rest of the afternoon). I can still help my mother fold laundry and I am perfectly capable of sitting at the table for family dinner. Even though I have my own family, and we do family dinners as well, it is still nice to be the kid again every once in a while.

These are my blessings.

Our Wee One is a little acrobat. She moves more than Baby Wonder ever did, and it still brings a goofy smile to my face (and a grimace all at once) when I see my belly rise on one side or the other, as I imagine her stretching, trying for more space, when it feels like she's taking up enough of it as it is!

My parents and brother are supportive and beyond helpful. They've taken this road bump in stride and exhibit every measure possible to make sure I don't feel it. They've gone above and beyond what I ever would have asked of them in order to help me and my family through these last couple months.

Baby Wonder is a joy. He is so smothered in attention and love that his happiness is contagious. He smiles and gives kisses and is a constant reminder of the blessing and joy brought about by my children. It is not hard to remember why the pain of this pregnancy will be worth it when I look at him.

My husband is a rock. He takes my frustration and mood swings like a champion and never falters in his love for me. He is patient and kind even when I am not. He understands my pain, even if he cannot feel it, and makes selfless decisions in order to help me. I am humbled by his steadfast dedication.

- - - - - - - - -

Sleep is hard to come by lately, though I suppose that's God's way of reminding me how much "fun" it was with Baby Wonder. A joke, right?  The last few months before you'll be up all night is the time you really want as much sleep as you can get!

Anyway, I got my feet out of the house and into the sand for an hour. My mom and aunt came with us (though technically, I went with them, since I'm the crippled one!). I was lucky to overlap a visit from my aunt, and as I badgered her with baby questions, Baby Wonder enjoyed yet another person utterly devoted to making him smile.

Baby Wonder had a fabulous time this afternoon; a far cry from when he first met the ocean. What was then a fear of sand and sea alike is now a feverish attempt to escape any hand trying to hold him back from running into the waves.

It is a joy watching him in such complete euphoria over something so simple as wading through the water and chasing sea gulls.

saying bye-bye to mommy before he goes to play

little boys are born with an ingrained desire to chase seagulls

He played so much and got so wet and dirty that he gradually started to loose his clothes; by the end of the trip we had just stripped him down and wrapped him in a towel for the 3 minute ride home. I did get a pretty good shot of a naked baby butt trying to escape on the beach, but that's for his first girlfriend :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

happy halloween!

Baby Wonder and I made it safely out to California.

Over a week ago.

I am a horrible blogger.

Baby Wonder went trick or treating with his Uncle Charlie on the 31st, and while I know that it was a while ago, some of these are just too cute not to share... even if it is the second week of November.

Hey, I'm ailing, remember?

doesn't he look excited?
adding the necessary musketeer makeup :)
how dashing.
my favorite picture. my aunt was teaching him fencing lunges. what a swashbuckler.

off with Uncle Charlie!
Baby Wonder preferred trick or treating from our pot of candy.

I'll leave you with this one. Trick or Treat...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

mickey mouse birthday party

I found this idea that I based my invites off of, but made a few changes to work for us. There are two cards in the pocket, the first with the actual invitation and party details, and the second with our address and gift ideas. I wasn't sure about adding that last part, but it really seemed to help a lot of people, especially our out of town family who doesn't see Baby Wonder very often. I made over 30 invitations, though only about half actually got handed out to people I knew would be able to come. Though all of my husband's family is within a half hour of us, I have friends and family all over the country. I do my best to keep them in the loop and included in things like this, so even though I know you're not going to travel from Texas or California or Washington for a two year old's party, it's still nice to get an invitation. Especially one in the shape of MICKEY!


I created my subway art from this inspiration, but I did mine in Microsoft Word. I downloaded a Mickey Mouse font and a Disney font. (This was a major pain on Windows Vista, by the way. If my Daddy hadn't figured it out and helped my over Skype from California I probably would have cried out of frustration!)

One of Baby Wonder's Aunties and I made yarn balls to decorate around the house with.

 I cut out Mickey heads, the same size as the invitations, and taped them all over the walls and doors of the house. Streamers for the food backdrop and balloons in the dining area finished off the decorations!

We had Mickey Mouse ClubHouse sandwiches, A hotdog (hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog) bar, Pluto's Popcorn from our hot air popcorn maker, caterpillar grape kabobs, a veggie tray, and my black bean and avo salad

I used the Disney font to make labels for the food, and attached them to more Mickey heads.

I saw these and knew they'd be perfect for Baby Wonder's favors! Here's how mine turned out. I just bought a bag of regular M&Ms (sorry, but I'm not buying special order colors) I separated them into "Mickey" colors, and realized that the leftover colors were perfect "Goofy" colors! So, Mickey and Goofy tags were made and the jars were assembled. Each jar cost less than $4 to make, including the jar purchase.