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.

They Might Be Giants

Jason in his TMBG No! shirt

Jason in his TMBG No! shirt

No! No! No!

These are my my two-and-a-half-year-old son’s favorite words – yes, ‘words’ plural. The word no seems to  be three words in his vocabulary:

1. No, I’ve considered the options and I’m certain that I don’t want what you’re suggesting.
2. No, I have no opinion on the matter but my first instinct was to say no. That’s my final answer.
3. No, I really mean yes but I don’t want to give you the benefit of knowing that I’m agreeing with you.

So it’s no surprise that the They Might Be Giant’s song, “No! No! No!,” is one of his current favorites.

Last weekend, we found out that They Might Be Giants were playing live in Kansas City (the home of grandma and grandpa), so we piled the whole family into the car and drove 8 hours so that Jason could see one of his favorite bands live.

Here’s what he looked like when TMBG (or ‘be giants’ as my son calls them) took the stage:

He's Going to Bed. Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed!

He's Going to Bed. Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed!

We had driven 8 hours the night before and endured nearly an entire day listening to live children’s music, so we weren’t going to let him sleep through the main event. It took awhile, but my husband finally woke him up and directed his attention to the stage. I’m not sure if he recognized the musicians. I realized during the show that to him, ‘be giants’ are the puppets he sees on the “Here Come the 1, 2, 3s” video. But he definitely recognized the songs, and, of course, they played his favorite, ‘No!, No!, No!”

Here’s what he looked like soon after waking up (my husband looking almost as sleepy):

Jason & Daddy at They Might Be Giants concert

Jason & Daddy at They Might Be Giants concert

And here are They Might Be Giants at the JiggleJam concert in Kansas City:

They Might Be Giants: Live in Kansas City

They Might Be Giants: Live in Kansas City

Jenna’s First Birthday

Despite rain and having to hold a ‘garden party’ indoors, Jenna’s party was lots of fun – and we avoided having to set up a canopy in the backyard. Instead, we set up a flower/butterfly collage crafts table in the living room and a tattoo parlour in the entryway. I’ll never host a kids party without tattoos again – they were a huge hit – and Jenna and I sported matching tulip tats!

Here are a few of the pictures:

Jenna's First Birthday

Jenna's First Birthday

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Making Lollipops

Homemade Lollipops

 

Homemade Lollipops

I chose the cake for Jenna’s garden party because it looked very cute and very easy. Little did I know the hard part would be the lollipops: finding simple lollipops to match the inspiration cake and my color scheme proved to be more difficult than I ever expected. Martha’s stylist has access to all of the lollipops of  NYC; I have access to all of the lollipops of Keller, TX. Online stores proved equally disappointing, so I was left with one choice: make my own lollipops.

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

It turns out that making candy is pretty easy. I used the following recipe and purchased a circle-shaped lollipop mold:

Recipe:

– 2 cups sugar

– 2/3 corn syrup

– 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Heat everything in a saucepan until it reaches 300 degrees. Use a candy thermometer. Once it reaches 300, you can add food coloring and flavor, if you’d like. Spray the mold with nonstick spray and then place a lollipop stick in each mold. Pour the liquid into the mold, working quickly so it doesn’t cool and get sticky. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.

The hard part is achieving the exact color that you want. I made the ginger-color lollipops using one drop of pink, but I was hoping for a very, very pale pink. Because the corn syrup had a slight yellow color to it, I couldn’t create pale colored candy. I only have a couple of days till the party, but I am considering finding a clear corn syrup and making another batch.

The other hard part is the clean up. Maybe there’s a trick to what you do with the leftovers, but removing the hardened liquid from anything its come in contact with is no small chore. I left some of the liquid in a measuring cup overnight, and then decided it was best to just throw the cup away. I also reheated the remaining candy in the pan and it solidified just as I was taking it out. So, here are a few examples of what not to do:

Leftover Candy Mess

Leftover Candy Glob

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup

Jenna’s First Birthday Party

My daughter’s first birthday is coming up, and I’ve decided to throw a garden party birthday brunch to celebrate.  The planning and preparations are turning out to be both fun and time-consuming, so I thought I would share my baby party event planning with other mothers who are considering a similar party theme.

I’ll post the details here, along with pictures of the final event (to be held on May 16th). In addition, I plan to post ideas for paper crafts, decorating children’s rooms and activities for kids. If you have any additional suggestions, feel free to post them here.