Not A Box

Today I was reminded of just how much the simplest materials can spark Jason & Jenna’s imagination. Right after dinner, a box was delivered from Amazon and they immediately wanted me to open it. To me, it contained a smaller box with three packages of Huggies Wipes, but to Jason and Jenna the contents were much more elaborate. Jason’s box became a car that, for some reason, needed a telescope to operate, so he quickly ran to the recycle bin and found the requisite paper towel roll. Jenna’s box needed stickers, lots of them. And once it was sufficiently decorated, it served as a chair, a hat and even a horsey.

Here is our homage to Not a Box by Antoinette Portis:

This is not a box

Valentine’s Day Cards

Valentine's Day Cards (2010)

Today, Jason, Jenna and I made Valentine’s Day cards – mostly Jenna and I made them, since Jason likes to direct art activities (“mom, make an arrow”) more than he likes participating in them.

I started by letting Jason and Jenna paint on red, pink and white construction paper. Once their paintings dried, I cut out hearts using a paper punch, folded strips of construction paper into accordion-style cards and glued the hearts on. Once the 2×2 glassine envelopes from paper-source.com arrive, they’ll be ready to send.

Grandma’s Neighborhood: A Collage

A common request from Jason when he sees me in front of the computer is “see Grandma’s house?” And so begins a review of all of the photos taken during trips to Grandma & Grandpa’s house. As we reminisce, Jason usually invents stories – part recollection, part imagination – involving elevators, rooftops, statues and fireworks.

For today’s craft, we created a large “city collage” mural  of Grandma & Grandpa’s neighborhood, incorporating some of Jason’s favorite imagery from trips to their house. We started with paper cutouts of tall buildings and then added the scenery  – trees, cars, stoplights and, of course, pictures of Grandma & Grandpa’s building and surrounding neighborhood.

Jason & Jenna loved describing the things they saw in the collage, and Jenna even tried to hug Grandma. Here’s their finished picture:

Grandma's Neighborhood: A Photo Collage

A Snapshot in Time

My husband and I take lots of photos. Our iPhoto library has close to 14,000 photos taken over the past seven years. It might seem that they would blend together after awhile, but they don’t. So many photos stand out in my mind, and I love going through our library and remembering all of the times we’ve spent together.

Yesterday we took two photos that I think will  stand out for a long time. They really seem to capture the personality and charm of our children and show what they were like on a typical day, just hanging out at home.

Jason’s picture was taken in the morning. He’s wearing an “I love chocolate” t-shirt that I bought at the grocery store the night before. He’s standing in the office, making different facial expressions – maybe because he’s recently taken an interest in emotions (whether someone is ‘happy’ or ‘sad’) or maybe because he’s started doing impressions of Pink Panther. Either way, adorable.

Jason *Really* Loves Chocolate

Jenna’s picture was taken later that same evening, while my husband was watching the kids in the bath. Jenna was drawing with her bathtub markers, but took a moment to look up at Dada as he snapped a shot of her with his iPhone. Also, adorable.

Vintage Jenna

Today’s Craft: Who’s in the Elevator?

Elevator Craft Materials

My son’s favorite thing in the world right now is elevators. Not only does he love riding in elevators and pushing the buttons, he loves talking about them, reading stories even remotely connected to them (A Great Day for Up) and seeing pictures of them. So it was only a matter of time before his elevator obsession filtered into craft time. For today’s craft, I gave Jason and Jenna a piece of paper with “elevator doors” attached to it. I also gave them a series of arrow, button and number stickers to arrange on the paper, along with pictures of themselves, to place inside.

Here they are, in action:

Mommy Tested, Jenna Approved

Jenna loves stickers. And not just stickers of flowers, Elmo and other favored imagery. She even loves the leftover price tag stickers from our last garage sale. So when I found out that there was a machine that would turn any scrap of paper into a sticker, I decided to try it out. Yesterday I purchased a Xyron 250 Sticker Maker and immediately went to work sliding cut-outs of hearts, butterflies, circles and arrows (my son’s favorite shape) through the machine. Today at craft time, I tried it out with Jenna and she loved them – mostly because, like the garage sale stickers, they sit ‘on top’ of the paper and she can easily pull them off herself. Even better, I gave her notecards to stick them on so that I have a couple of readymade thank you cards from the kids on hand.

Mommy makes stickers, Jenna makes cards

Mommy makes stickers, Jenna makes cards

Jenna 2.0

My baby girl will be turning two in a couple of months, and I’ve been thinking about changing her room to better suit the little girl she’s becoming. The biggest change will be the introduction of a toddler bed, a P’kolino hand-me-down from her brother. But knowing me, I’ll probably make a few decorative changes as well. So I’ve started collecting images and bookmarking sites to capture ideas for the design.

Here’s my inspiration so far:

Designing Jenna's Little Girl Room

Designing Jenna's Little Girl Room

Nature Collage Placemats

We make lots of collages at our house – mostly out of stickers, paper scraps and magazine cutouts. While creating collages is usually about the process itself – exploring shapes, colors, textures and developing fine motor skills – today’s collage activity gave our glueing and sticking a greater purpose: making placemats.

I started out by cutting tree, butterfly, flower and leave shapes and creating a “starter placemat” with grass and a tree. I let Jason and Jenna select shapes and attach them to their placemat. After the glue dried, I used clear contact paper to cover both sides.

Here’s the starter placemat:

Nature Collage: Getting Started

Here is the finished product:

Jenna's Collage Placemat

Jason's Collage Placemat

Jason's Collage Placemat

Is It Snow Out There?

With the more frequent appearance of snow on the ground this winter, my son has become interested in looking out the windows in the morning, sometimes even asking “is it snow out there?” I came across a kid’s craft idea for making a weather dial and thought it would be a great way to continue this conversation with Jason and Jenna each morning. Thanks to blissfullydomestic.com for the great idea!

Weather Chart

Weather Chart

Here are the materials I used:

  • Paper plate (for the backing)
  • Green cardstock
  • Snowflake shape from paper-source.com
  • Decorative brad
  • Letter stickers
  • Ribbon
  • Glue
  • Add’l cardstock for the sun, cloud, rain and arrow shapes

Paper Guitars and Other New Year’s Resolutions

Paper Guitar Hero

I’m not really one for setting – or sticking to –  New Year’s Resolutions, but this year, I’m feeling very motivated to engage my children in more creative activities. With Jason fast approaching the age when video games and tv (maybe I should say ‘his daddy’s iPhone”) will become his most sought-after past-times, I decided to try to focus his attention on more creative pursuits. So, I started working on a list of activities that involve ‘making things’ and organizing and preparing materials so that we always have something fun close at hand. Today was our nanny’s first day back after the holidays, so we got started on our first activity: Paper Guitars.

Jason loves guitars, so it was no surprise that he enjoyed coloring a large paper guitar cut out of posterboard, attaching stickers and adding the yarn “strings.” But his favorite part wasn’t the decorating, it was standing on the ottoman “playing” the guitar while his adoring fan (mommy) watched. I sense that a Wii Rockband set isn’t too far off. Oh well.

My Snow Angels

Snow is pretty rare where we live in Texas, but this winter, we’ve already seen snow three times. I don’t think Jason and Jenna have decided whether they like the snow or not, but each time they look outside and see white, they’re anxious to go outside and check it out. Here they are, bundled up for the weather:

Snow in Texas, Winter 09-10

Christmas Party Invites

Christmas Party Invitations

Christmas Party Invitations

My husband and I just finished making the invitations to our Christmas party – yes, he helped! – and I’m really happy with how they turned out, so I thought I would share.

Here’s how we made them:

1. Purchased  A2 and A7 size cards from paper-source.com and a stamp from impressrubberstamps.com.

2. Designed the text in Photoshop and printed onto the A2 cards.

3. Cut the corners of the cards using a rounded corner paper punch.

4. Applied the stamp to the card using silver ink and then immediately sprinkling silver glitter (Martha Stewart Glitter Collection) onto the ink and shaking gently so that the glitter adheres to the ink.

5. Glue the A2 card onto the silver A7 card.

6. Cut the corners of the A7 card using the same paper punch.

7. Spray a light adhesive over the stamp/glitter area.

That was the easy part, now on to planning the party!


Robot Costume

I had to improvise a bit with Jason’s Halloween costume once he made it very clear that he would not wear a box as part of his robot costume. Instead, I took the buttons, knobs and gauges and glued them to two pieces of silver contact paper. Next, I attached the contact paper to the front and back of a gray t-shirt, added a silver colander (hat) and silver-painted rain boots, and voila: it’s Action JasonBot 3.0:

Robot Parade

Last year, I made a rocket painting for my son’s space-themed bedroom. For his birthday this year, I added to his collection with a robot painting. Happy Birthday Jason!

Robot Painting:

Robot Parade

Robot Parade (2009)

Rocket Painting:

Rocket

Rocket (2008)

Entertaining J+J: Part 1

child in motion, nasher sculpture centerMost of my almost 3-year-old son’s favorite activities can be classified into 2 categories:

1. Things involving elevators: watching them, talking about them, riding in them and pushing their buttons

2. Things involving motion: as in, being in motion, and watching other things in motion – water, trains, airplanes, and, oh yes, elevators

So, it would seem that keeping him entertained would be easy: take him to the nearest hotel and let him go up and down the elevators to his heart’s content. But maybe because we have a younger daughter and we’re hoping to cultivate a broader set of interests in her or maybe because we’re too easily bored with our son’s interests, we continue to seek out new and interesting things to do with our kids in the DFW area.

We found a few favorites this summer, so I thought I would share.

summer in dfw

Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum has an installation of child-sized houses that children can play in. Each house was designed by a local architecture firm and is based on a children’s book. Our son’s favorite was Treasure Island – probably because of the sand. This is a great place to pack a picnic lunch and spend the day.

Nasher Sculpture Garden

The first Saturday of each month is free and features art activities (scavenger hunt, crafts and demonstrations) for kids. The outdoor garden is beautiful and the James Turrell ‘skyspace’ is amazing. Almost as amazing is the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup at the Nasher’s Wolfgang Puck cafe.

Central Market Outdoor Cafe

This is our Friday night stand-by. A cafe with an outdoor park allowing kids to play while their parents watch close by is definitely win-win. And we get to enjoy the occasional live music. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, which doesn’t help us so much on Friday nights.