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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cotton Ball Snowman


Fun Project with stuff around the house. Bust out some scraps of paper, some round objects, a few toothpicks, glue & lots of cotton balls.


This one I actually did some prep work. I personally love the foam sticker sheets we have so I cut out some shapes. I figured it would cut down on time and impatience. Honestly though, just cutting out the carrot nose, pieces of coal, and top hat would be just as easy & cut if you use construction paper. The fun thing about coal is I din't have to worry about tiny little perfect circles. The hat ended up looking plain so my daughter pulled out one of her Christmas shaped foam stickers an added to the top hat. Other then that we we're pretty prepared. I wouldn't had minded busting out some little bit of ribbon for a scarf, but she felt it was good.


I used one of my daughter's old scribbled up poster boards to trace. I found three small similar, but not exact same circle shapes.  In our households case a toilet paper roll and two of her snack bowls. I did that just so she had a easy reference of where we would be gluing all the cotton balls, but you can also just trace the circles straight onto the color of chosen background construction paper. I also did this just to give a little more strength encase my toddler went over board with glue it wouldn't rip up the paper. When tracing let your circles overlap a bit. i tried to remember a real snowman wouldn't have very perfect circles. Then cut out my snowman outline. After all that pre-cutting and gathering of tools I let her get to it. First she used that good old fashioned white glue to place the small poster board snowman shape on to the background color of her choice (the bigger one just served to be under the project just in case, I also wasn't sure what size she would want to do). After that as glued to the paper, then more glue on top of the snowman shape. This is up to your kid, mine is more into mess but yours may like placing glue on each cotton ball as he/she goes. Since the glue was there she dug right into the cotton balls and got to sticking. Covering as much of the dark blue as she could see. Next she got to sticking the hat on, followed by the eyes, then nose, next the smile. She chose to save the extra pieces of "charcoal" as the buttons. She then glued toothpicks to each side for stick arms. That's when she thought the hat needed more & we found the candy cane sticker. I put away the good old white glue when she went to work at ripping apart some white construction paper to use as snow. She used a glue stick to place those about. She said the small ones were like snow flakes and her bigger chunks she felt looked better on the bottom like a sign. In this project order doesn't really matter, so if you wanna cut the harder shapes while your little one works on the tearing and gluing that would work, well as long as your kid doesn't mind the snowman covering some of their background master piece.

We will probably be doing this project again on a smaller scale so I can turn it into a ornament. Instead of the background she can decorate both sides of the board with cotton. Where the hat is I will continue the board so I can add a hole punch an a piece of cute ribbon. 

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


This is a terrific one! Super easy & really not much a a clean up or set up required. Especially great if you are a busy mom, like any of us aren't. ;)

Things you will need: 
Kids/Your choice of construction paper colors. (As you see my daughter wanted the normal brown, but wanted yellow antlers & a green background.) No matter what mix you end up with it's cute.
Pencil for tracing.
Googly eyes. (I found a 125 count mix sized pack at the Dollar Store)
1 Red Circle, now we used some of the sticker foam sheets, just cut out a circle, but you can use paper, a pom-pom, whatever you have.
2 types of Glue. Although, this is up to you and your kid's abilities. I had regular squeeze out white glue for her to dot the back of each eye. Also a glue stick for the back of the paper. I chose that so she wouldn't over glue, but she could feel freedom in the project. Also so it would dry fast & have the right amount of hold.
Your choice of item to label child's name & year.

First trace foot on color chosen for head or let your little one trace it themselves. Then trace both hands on color chosen for antlers. In my case I let my daughter, Riley loves to trace, so I jumped in at cutting out the foot while she traced the hands.  Start with the foot so your little one can assemble the face as you cut out the hands. She got to dot glue on the back of her chosen eyes with the squeeze glue. We chose toes on top heel for snout. Really as long as the eyes are semi by each other & the nose is placed below it will work out. But it is up to you how much guidance your little one needs. Sometimes showing them a image of what they are doing ahead of time helps a little to. In our case she next peeled sticker back & placed. This may be a glue step for you, depending on nose choice. I let her get at glue sticking the back of the hands and placing on chosen background color. In our case her hands were small enough were the background could be horizontal or vertical, but like everything else I let her make the call. Now the foot, just had to remind her to be gentle while adding glue to the back since there was eyes and a nose on the other side. Last of all she placed the foot on top. You can flip the order on that to, but it will hide a little of the foot instead of palm area. Up to you. Time to label...or not. Lots of choices in a little cute quick little project. Have fun, before you know it, it'll be DONE!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba Pool Party

Thinking about Yo Gabba Gabba being on tour made me want share one of my daughter's past birthday parties. She's a big Gabba friend, so for the big 2 we planned a Gabba "Pool Party". If you've seen the "Summer" episode you know what it means, if not here:


As my daughter being a big fan that she is we already had the soundtrack ready to go. Ipod playlist & little player, check!, Even a "Happy Birthday" from The Ting Tings, but the party stuff was another thing. So hopefully my searching and making helps you have a easier process. 

The biggest thing I can first recommend to you is check out  Gabba Friends! It's a awesome resource for all us mom's trying to make a theme out of not many store items. They were a HUGE help in offering clip art for invites. They even have how to do Gabba Character wrapping paper. I wish I had a image cause I made a Muno bag out of a red target gift bag. It was so easy & awesome (just think eye & mouth, just black & white construction paper an a glue stick). They even offer how to's for Invitations. This is what I came up with using their clip-art link an a little Photoshop: 


I drew my pool & tried to hide Riley's sizing info under the pool just in case some people wanted it was there. I tried to take the lyrics & tie that in with a simple fun invite. Paired it with a nice bright yellow envelope & a YGG sticker to seal. 

The cool thing about YGG is they have basic bright colors to work with as a base. If you are like me, it was way cheaper and easier to buy the right paper plates without blowing budget. I don't really care for the one time use, perfectly matched picture deal items. I hate being stuck with leftovers that look more like money reminders then party fun, like these: YGG 1st Wish Birthday Deluxe Set. It's great don't get me wrong, but for the $, not my thing. So seek out the colors that match the characters save yourself some bucks. 

Now to think how to occupy those little ones. Besides the obvious summer stuff, of the water table, bubbles & pool. I wanted something extra. I was soooo happy I did cause this was the one year it happened to be freezing! So the indoor ideas were very handy. We had a little craft time of making Foam Visors. I found them super cheap at Shindigz.com and keep my eye out for sells on foam stickers. Glitter, non, letters, numbers, shapes, a fun mix goes a long way. No matter the age stickers are easy and not really a clean up issue. I bought a pack of plastic glad like tubs from a dollar store and made it so there was enough of a mix so kids wouldn't fight an stickers wouldn't be all over. It was very easy to close the lids & hide when all done.

We posted Yo Gabba Gabba Safety Zone Signs (free Nick Jr Print) every where so kids knew where they could go. Had a big happy Green - Safe Zone sign on the door to the set up a play room. In it we had all of Riley's toys & YGG dvd's playing on a tv. Best thing for the little ones was her Yo Gabba Gabba Dance Mat. I actually drew inspiration from that for the inside top of our Super Music Friend Show Player.


I wish I had a picture for you, but let me tell you about how we made this. I found a huge box outside a appliance store. It was a dish washer box, I believe. It was awesomely huge! Well once the process of getting it home was figured out I took a pencil & the best picture I could find of the thing & started to map it out. A ruler & some painters tape will be your best friend so the openings are as close to center an straight as possible. Then my wonderful husband went at it with a box cutter, removing the rectangle in front openings on the sides. I removed the extras first so not to waste extra paint, but it's up to you. Red paint to the whole thing...minus the painters tapped off white frame area around the front opening. Inside, top, sides...everything LOTS of red paint. Next I got to work on the inside backdrop collage. I pieced together a couple of poster boards. Then started a hunt through old magazines for the most colorful & most musical images. Sometimes I got lucky and found a actual Gabba images. Then I hopped on my computer & got to printing. Nick Jr has coloring pages & lots of printables, like the YGG Puppet Theater. I used all images along with the magazine's to cover ever single inch of the poster board. I chose not to color the characters but glue them to their color of construction paper & cut around. Like Brobee was green, Muno red...etc.


The button in the front was much like the silloutettes from the Nightmare Before Christmas blog. Painters tapped a big white sheet of paper to my computer monitor & pulled up a image of it. I used the image above & increased the size as large as possible to easily trace on my 12x12 paper. Trace image outlines lightly with pencil. I made sure to code each section with what color to paint it. Use your nice smaller paint brushes for this part, those lines are so precise for the effect. In the meantime of that drying I found a flat piece of styrofoam and cut to the size of the buttons. Find your strong white glue and secure it to the front, allow plenty of room in between that and opening edge. When I glued the paper with the painting I did not cut my 12x12 sheet down. I did slice the comers diagonal to fold flatter around the foam, think like Christmas wrapping. I used my painters tape along with the glue to secure it flat. Time to add more red paint. If everything is ready an dry go for the white edges of opening. I used black paint & added the images in the background of the dance mat to the roof of the box to surprise the kids when they walked in. Use that great craft glue & secure your collage to the inside back wall. Much easier if the box is dry so you can lay it down on the back. I originally planned to buy Dollar Store red plastic table cover to slice it into strips and secure on inside above entry on the sides, but I got worried if my wet pool kids would get suck, so I left them open. I also chose to for go the 2 speakers you can kind of see in some images of it, just felt like it wouldn't add, but rather take away.


Kids had fun playing with little character action figures in there & posing for pictures. It became a great little play house for my daughter long after the party.

The food was easy to fit the theme, the song even tells you some sides, "HOLY GUACAMOLE! We've got chips" so I went for the BBQ, summer picnic feel. Easy & yummy. But when it came time for the cake, a lot of the things offered weren't exactly what I wanted. I mean for the price they charge I want it to be something my kid can keep & play with not some hard plastic with a sticker. So I searched around. She already had the hard plastic action figures, but I keep thinking with their weight I couldn't really guarantee them not falling over or into the cake, then finally Yo Gabba Gabba Bath Squirters! Fantastic. Light colorful & she can use them in the bath or her outside water table! I found a great music theme cake & fit it right in. It was soooo awesome!


OK, I know not all parents subscribe to the idea of goody bags, but I love them. So ebay had great deals on little stuff like Gabba Stickers & tattoos, but I found some really cheap & neat stuff of the Shindigz site. Besides the foam visors from the craft mentioned above, I found sunglasses & beach balls. So do your research and sign up with them or other party sites cause you never know what you will find or what kind of coupons they will offer. They seem to always have some deal & I was very happy to apply it to their already great prices.

Even the adults seemed to enjoy. ;)

Just remember LISTENING AND DANCING TO MUSIC IS AWESOME!!!!!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful Wreath



*If you remember I had a idea for the leaves that survived from the Fall Leaves post, this is that idea.

It's almost Thanksgiving so I wanted my family to reflect on what we have to be thankful for, so why not make it into something we can see and tie in the autumn feeling? So I thought this Thankful Wreath would be a cute easy idea for us.

If you still need to collect some leaves look out for the flatest ones or if you can collect them and let them dry in heavy book. Our's were pretty flat but I didn't mind casualties and crunching when we were gluing the leaves to the poster board. I assume nothing is going to turn out perfect with a 3 year old involved, it's just the experience that's important.



Besides the leaves you need a poster board (we used a orange, but whatever color that ties in the leaves is fine), glue, pencil, sharpie & 2 round objects, 1 large an 1 small (we used bowls).


I let my daughter do the circle tracing with a pencil. First the large. Try to get closest to the edges so you can maximize use of the paper. It comes in handy as something to lay under wreath when gluing. You will also need the same color as the foundation to trace out leaves to write your special thankful message.


Now try to get your small circle as center as possible.


Your turn. ;) Time to cut out the tracings. I tried to cut as close to the outer circle for the reasons I mentioned above, but for the inner circle I just folded it in half & went for it.


During that time I had my daughter pick out her 3 favorite leaves. Try to keep in mind size, so you can fit what each of you are thankful for. One for Daddy, Mommy, & Riley. So if you are doing this with multiple children you'll need more and let them choose.


This was my turn, but your child maybe totally capable. Trace each leaf. I did it with sharpie so I wouldn't lose the leaf's details.


Cut & write messages. We had Dad leave us a note of what he was thankful for since he would be at work & unable to join us. Once again I just used my little black sharpie. But here's either your kid's chance to write or draw out what they are thankful for or time to get your toddler to understand what they are appreciative for.


Fun time. Let your kids have fun with whatever glue you preference, we used just a craft glue. I tried to suggest to start big. It's easier to fill in gaps with little ones, plus you can stick stems under other leaves as you go. After it was all filled up I laid some heavy flat objects on top to easy the flattening process. Clearly toddler hands already did a lot of crunching so it wasn't a worry. But if you are worried, either skip this step or every few minutes check & fill in damage with some smaller leaves on top.


Now that it's all dry hang away. :) We just used a thumb tack. Not much weight an there was a perfect gap between leaf and poster, but there's always those double sided tape, gel deal. Whatever is easier for your household.


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Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Photos

It's that time of the year again. Time to get those holiday cards ready. If your family is anything like mine, this is the time of year we get our happy faces on and get family pictures taken. My husband is from Chicago and my family is all over, while we are in San Diego, not to mention that most of our close friends are scattered about the country. So this is our time of year to send a happy little update of what we look like along with a nice season greeting. Personally I prefer pics over plan cards, cause I feel like when the holidays done it's easy to cut out the extra and the recipient still has something. What else can you do with a holiday card once that day has past? I've tried a few random ideas on that, but it always becomes more a storage issue then an item I enjoy. So when I stumbled upon this idea I felt like it was a must share! I already love Shutterfly because they have tons of freebies, my last order I saved $99.52, talk about freebies! I only spent $7.18. I also love that what I receive always looks amazing, oh and they are always the easiest to contact when I've needed help. Okay, back to the point they had a great idea: Family Photo Days. Normally one of my best friends and I attempt to switch off days shooting each others family but I think this year we may have to try this out...and invite our other friends along. Looks like fun for not only us adults, but maybe even easier on our little ones, mixing a little more play in this photo day.

For past photo's I've bought just simple fabric cheap solid color fabrics and thumb tacked it tight to the wall, believe it or not it actually works well. I have seen gift wrap used. Really cute if just of a baby or pet. Make sure whatever you chose is as nice and tight against wal,l drags nicely to cover the floor. So if you are doing the wrapping paper tack top to corners to wall & let drag, don't cut paper. When choicing, just remember the key is just making sure background doesn't become a distraction and you don't see the wall or carpet & give away that this is a home pic. Don't be afraid to mess with some Christmas lights in the image it typically adds a nice soft glow. Also thumb tacking a simple white sheet in a swooping fashion works just as good as professional grade white fabric, its all just about getting the right effect when you hang it. But really the easiest backdrop of them all and it's free nature. Check the website cause it gives tips on times of day for lighting and extra touches to add to the naturally beautiful backgrounds. I really recommend while looking at the Photo Days site play through the videos it gives lots of ideas, lots of easy ideas. ;)

A few FREE photo editors I am currently enjoying & think you will to are: Paint.net & Picasa. Paint.net is a student project that runs similar to photoshop. Picasa has just lots of easy to use filters & great easy to sharing multiple images.

Hope this helps & remember just because the pic isn't posed and not everyone is looking at the camera doesn't mean it's a bad pic. ;) Just means you all have personality.
Our last year's card-
Pics by: Maximo Photography + A Costco layout


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Leaves


It's fall! So what better way to really enjoy the season then playing with leaves? We took this fun one step further and used the beauty that is Autumn to get my 3 year old to not only understand what this season means to the plants around us but how different each leaf can be.



This project was just another great excuse to plan a family park trip. We went to a great near by park that our 3 year old could do the normal park stuff, but also had lots of hiking trails where we could find a great variety of trees and plants, well mostly for a great choice of leaves. When you get to head out on your trip I recommend bringing baggies for the items you are going to collect. Just remember nature doesn't equal clean. Try to get your little one to pick out nice whole leaves, the flatter the better, also lots of shapes and sizes. If you know anything about the plants or animals around you it's a great time to point them out and talk about it. My daughter, Riley and I had lots of fun trying to be super quiet an listen our hardest for what animals were around. It was fun guessing what animal could be crunching the leaves around us. Most of the time it turned out to be a bird, but still fun. Take the walk slow, you never know what you'll get lucky enough to find. We found a rabbit's nest without even leaving the trail.


The next day I pulled out a couple of those broken, paperless crayons and a few sheets of paper. We took out all the leaves we had collected and laid out the best, obviously her choice of best. I demonstrated first on my own little sheet of paper, this way she got the idea of not only how to do this, but what it was we were doing. One leaf at a time I laid under my sheet of paper nice an flat on the table an selected a crayon to rub on it's side over the bumpy area of the paper. Her eyes lit up like I just did a magic trick when the leaf imprint appeared. As simple as a project always sounds, just remember it's new to your little one and exciting. I did one more then set her up with a big sheet of her own. We discussed the shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of each leaves as we went. Sometimes there was a need of a mommy hand to hold the paper still or my fingers to narrow down the area of where the leaf could be, but for the most part it was her choice and just a great means to work on vocabulary and the season.


Note: We held on to our leaves, because she may want to do this again a few more times & I already have another project in mind.

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