Archive for January, 2011

Heart People

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Did I ever mention on this blog that the first shape that Clara could name when she saw it was the heart?  It may be because I seem to really enjoy making valentines and we make copious amounts of them for the month before the big day.  Here are some Valentine’s Day crafts from past years if you need ideas:

Its so fun to see Clara at different stages of her life all on this blog.  Not to mention different stages of hair growth.  In this blog you can see that she finally got her first hair cut!  Three and a half years is an awful long time for a Mommy to wait for getting to style her daughter’s hair.  But, I digress.

This week we made heart people.  This is one of those projects that I remember doing in my childhood and when my sister saw them, she said she remembered making arms and legs like that, too ,and she never remembers anything from our childhood, so they must have been a big part of it.

We started out with a piece of card stock which I cut into two pieces (see below).  The big piece I cut into a heart shape.  The smaller piece I cut into four long strips.

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The we started making the heart people some faces. We added googly eyes, a pompom nose, marker mouths, and yarn hair. Then we folded the long strips back and forth to make arms and legs and glued them on at appropriate spots. Clara thought they needed hands and feet, so I cut four hearts out of the scraps and we glued them on in those places.
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Finally, we folded the bottom of the heart up a bit so that they would be able to sit and then we let them dry. This was a great craft as besides the cutting, I just made mine and Clara followed along and made her own all by herself! They turned out super cute, too and have been playing in the dollhouse with all of their new princess friends. I think Clara’s turned out prefectly!
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Valentine Magnets

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We made these cute refrigerator magnets as Valentine’s presents today (my inspiration were these Valentine award cards).  Most of Clara’s male relatives got one (except we unfortunately ran out before Pa was named… no matter we have other surprises for him).  Clara claims that Valentines are “only for boys, mom.”  She has become uber-aware of gender differences lately and also super aware of princesses.  I’m not sure if the two are related, nor which came first, but it is interesting.

The Valentine magnets mostly involved gluing, which is Clara favorite thing ever, so she did most of the messy work herself.  If you would like to make your own, you will need some muffin cups in various colors, a refrigerator magnet from your favorite local pizza joint that has been cut into pieces, white glue, and a few foam heart stickers.
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Glue one muffin cup to the magnet, then layer two other muffin cups on top and glue. Those two I cut a bit smaller so that the ones below would show. Top everything off with a heart sticker and press down with all of your might. This last is an integral part, apparently.
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Let them dry, then hang them up on your fridge!
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Wet chalk drawing

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Sometimes you just need a project that a kid can do on their own while you do dishes, answer a phone call, fold laundry, mop the kitchen floor, sit around and eat chocolate.  You know, so you can have a few precious moments to yourself.  This is one of my go-to projects.
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In the summer it is a great project for the front or back porch.  In the winter, I tape down a piece of butcher paper or a brown paper bag and let Clara go for it.  Then I get out our bucket of chalk and either a bowl or small bucket of water.  Chalk is fun because the way that it draws when it is dry is completely different from the way it draws when it is wet.  Same with the surface that you are writing on.  So, experimentation is in order.  And Clara loves this experiment over and over and over.  When everything is done, just wipe it up with a wash rag, change the shirt and throw it in the laundry if necessary, and everything will wash right out.  It is chalk, after all.
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Easy, simple baby toy!

All around me it seems that there are babies who need Christmas presents, babies turning one, and well my own baby always can use a new fun activity while I’m trying to make dinner.  This is the perfect present for all of those instances.  Its super easy to make and super, repetitive fun for little ones.

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Gather an empty kleenex box (of course there are tons of these around this time of year!) and some scrap material.  Cut the scraps into three or four inch wide strips.  I like to have a variety of colors and textures to make it  more interesting for baby.  Shove all of the scraps into the kleenex box.  That’s it!

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Now hand it to your favorite baby for tons of fun with pulling out and putting in all of the scraps. Hours of joy from the simplest thing ever!

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Its still dark here…

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Today is especially dark.  Its cloudy, its rainy, its January.  Blah.  I don’t mind the dark nearly as much in the run up to Christmas and the solstice as I’m busy, there’s much to look forward to, and well, friends and family abound.  But in January I loathe the dark.  Its dark when I wake up (and recently that has been at 5:00 am, which means it is dark for the first two and a half hours of my day!), its dark when I make dinner, and in between its either cloudy, rainy, cold, or all three.  So, I am thinking of ways to add some light to my life.  We really enjoyed the autumn leaf candle holders that we made in the fall, so I thought that maybe some bright and sunny something similar would help.  Hence, these sunny yellow candle holders.  We actually gave these away to our friends Lisa and Marc, but some are going to show up on my dining room table soon.
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Gather some fun material, a few jars from the recycling bin, a glue stick, and some tea candles. Cut the material to fit around the jars and glue with the glue stick. Have your helper add a tea candle to each and light them up!
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Pasta Necklace Party Favors

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We had the privilege of hosting our neighborhood play group holiday party here about two weeks ago.  We ended up having six or seven families all with one three-year old and possibly another younger sibling over for potluck.  It went super well and totally spurred me to clean up the house really well (I even dusted!), which in my mind is one of the main reasons to schedule parties at my house.  If I don’t, I never really feel any pressure to really organize and clean besides the daily dishes, laundry, floors, and weekly bathroom cleaning.

I wanted to create something for the kids to do when they got to the point of craziness that could calm them down for a couple of minutes, that wasn’t too hard or messy and that they could take home as a favor (either assembled or unassembled).  So, I made pasta necklace kits.  Clara helped.  I got this idea from my friend Kim and from this blog.  Thanks, guys!

Here’s how to make your own:

You will need some pasta (any shape, but large tubes are easiest), zip top bags, hand sanitizer (or rubbing alcohol), food coloring, yarn, masking tape, and plastic bags/labels.
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Place five to seven pumps of hand sanitizer and two or three drops of food coloring into your zip top bag.  Close and smoosh.  Add pasta and smoosh again.  Repeat for as many different colors as you would like.  We made a whole rainbow! Let sit for about half an hour, then remove to paper towels and let dry (for about an hour).
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Package some pasta, a piece of yarn with a piece of masking tape on the end of it in a plastic bag and add a label if you would like.
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A few hints:  the noodles break easily, so this works better to make on a table rather than the floor.  We had so many kids that we did it on the floor and by the end of the night the playroom carpet was covered in noodle pieces.  The dye may leak through the paper towels as the noodles are drying, so place them on cardboard or something else that you don’t mind tye-dying.  If your child guests are very little you may want to wrap a little scotch tape around one end of the yarn to act as the “threading” end and make it a little easier.  Most  of the three-year olds were able to do this without it, though.