4th of July Craft over at Grown In My Heart

Exciting News! I am a new Craft Contributer at Grown In My Heart, a new adoption website. Grown In My Heart is an incredible resource for adoptive parents and for perspective adoptive parents. The crafts I will be posting are great for all children not just for adopted children. I hope you will come over and visit me every other Wednesday! I will always link on my blog on the days I post so you know where to find me! Please leave me lots of comments over there so my new boss is impressed! :-) Just click here for directions to these great projects!

Patriotic Mobile using a cereal box.

Star Hair Clip or Shirt Clip

Crepe Paper Flower Straws

Here's an easy (I swear!) craft for older children and adults. All you need is crepe paper streamers, straws (or bamboo skewers), glue and scissors. I made all the flowers below just by experimenting. Crepe paper is stretchy so therefor much more forgiving than tissue paper.

Basic Technique: Cut a section of crepe paper (approx. 4 inches long) Fold in half the long way. Snip along fold - making sure bot to cut all the way through. Making folded fringe. Glue and wrap around top of straw. Cut out petal shapes. Glue around - scrunching and overlapping petals as you go along. You can make ones that are all fringe or ones that are all petals. You can also use the straw as your flower center and snip fringe (see picture with green center.) I curled the straw back using my scissor edge - think curling ribbon.

Letter Exchange: Utah

As you can see from Lu's face she just loved this letter from Aubrey in Utah. The first thing she said when she opened it was, "Oh a butterfly!!" She went crazy for the painting and of course the stickers! She had me read the letter to her and looked very intently at the little girl who made such a beautiful butterfly painting. We added our star to the map! She wanted me to tell her her name and her state again. Then she pointed to Emily's star and said Emily. Then she had me tell her the little girls names from Texas.

I think this experiment may backfire and Lu will know all the girls names and not the states they come from! Thanks to Aubrey's Mom! Without all you Mama's out there none of this fun and excitement would be possible! Thanks for taking the time!

Please let me know if you do not want your children's names included in my post. I assume the mom's with blogs don't mind and I will use the name they are referred to on their own blogs.

An Experiment With Mod Podge

During my idea drain, many of you were kind enough to suggest some projects that you have enjoyed. One of them was from:
Little Nut Tree said...

Otherwise how about toilet paper roll flowers/stars? I got it from Her Cup Overfloweth - link on my blog.

I immediately went over and checked out her post. Miraculously my brain turned back on and I remembered this post from 5 Orange Potatoes. 5OP used glitter glue in her project. We didn't have any so we used my favorite Mod Podge.

I taped down a piece of contact paper shiny side up on a old board. Because this takes forever to dry you are going to need to move it somewhere out of reach of toddlers to dry. Mine ended up with a few curious fingers in it. I began with gluing down a piece of tissue to make the entire piece stronger and to hold the flower together. Next I glued down the flower (pieces of toilet paper tube.) Lu and I filled the openings of the flowers with Mod Podge. Then the fun part, Lu sprinkled in beads and sequins. This took three days to dry and as you can see from the picture was not fully dry by photo time. The glue turns from opaque to somewhat clear. When dry peel off plastic and trim tissue paper backing. I glue a ribbon to the top two petals to make a hanger.

Thanks to Amy at Keeping Up With the Schultz Family for this adorable Panda Super Comments award. I told her if any one deserves this award it is her! But I can't pass it on to her. I can pass it on to a few of my blog friends who always leave me comments and make me smile.

Katie from Katie's Nesting Spot and ABC and 123 Learning
Valerie from Frugal Family Fun Blog
Sharon from Mama's a Mess
Branflakes from Adventures of a Flake

Sunday Snapshot

The sun is finally shining! Here is Lulu's chalk drawing, Flowers for Daddy. I just love it. She thought of adding the flowers all by herself. I think she may be eclipsing me in the creative department!

Enjoy your day!

Letter Exchange: Texas

Letter Exchange
Lulu & Em received their second letter yesterday from 2 little girls in Texas. What a wonderful surprise to receive a large envelope filled with a letter telling all about the sisters, a picture of the girls, a postcard showing the state flower, a painting, a map showing where the girls were adopted from, a handmade book for me(!) and two beautiful felt button cards for the girls to practice buttoning! Wow! I think there was a very crafty mama behind all this wonderfulness! The girls and I did not expect such a great package. Thank you! We all loved it!

I was inspired by the 2 maps that were included in the package. I created a project using a map! Stay tuned.

Secret Messages

A few days ago we woke up to overcast skies. I decided it would be a perfect day to bring the girls to a nearby museum for a visit. The highlight of the trip would be the dinosaur exhibit.

Right after breakfast Lulu asked what we were going to do that day. She had some crayons and paper on the table. I grabbed a white crayon and said (mysteriously) you'll see. I started to draw and she excitedly wanted to know what I was drawing. I told her it was a secret message. More excitement and plenty of "what is it?" sprinkled in. I gave her some water colors and let her uncover the secret message. The minute she saw the dinosaur she knew where we were going. One of her favorite books is Danny and the Dinosaur by Sid Hoff. She knows you can find dinosaurs in museums.

This was such a fun way to get your child excited about an event. Whether it is going to the playground or visiting Grandma. So if you are planning a fun day trip this summer you might want to try this teaser! You just need paper, a white crayon and water colors (you can get them at the drug store or craft section of your grocery store. The recognizable brand is better than the Dollar Store find in terms of vibrancy and color.)

Here's Lu & Em face to face with a T-Rex. This museum is very kid friendly. I liked how they had painted dinosaur tracks on the floor leading to the exhibit room. Lu and Em had fun following the tracks.

As you can see, Em wasn't too sure what to think of the model.

Letter Exchange

Our first letter arrived yesterday! See this post to find out more about our letter exchange project. It was from Valerie's daughter, Emily, over at the Frugal Family Fun Blog. Lulu danced around the family room waving her letter in the air! She couldn't wait to open it. When she did she found a beautiful hand made book with marbleized paper and her name stamped on the front. Also included were some glittery star stickers which were too special to use and have been squirreled away in one of Lu's treasure boxes!

Lu marked with a sticker where the letter came from on our map. Just now as I was writing this Lu asked what I was doing and I told her I was writing about Emily from Pennsylvania. Well she sang a song that went...Emily, my friend, Emily, Emily... :-) Thanks for all of you who participated! We look forward to receiving your letters and we hope your little ones enjoyed theirs!

Easy Fingerpainted Turtle for the Youngest Crafters

This is a simple craft that even your littlest kiddio can do! You prepare the pieces for them to paint. Set out a limited palate of color so your turtle remains bright and not muddy. We only used green and purple. The circles were made by using a toilet paper roll as a stamp. Put a little paint onto a lid top or flat dish. Swish around and then stamp. A paper plate works well for finger painting because it is coated and shiny so make sure you use the coated (top) side of the plate.

Small paper plate with center circle cut out and then cut in half
Take outer ring you just cut off plate to cut out head, 2 legs, and a tail
Googly Eye
Toilet paper roll
Plastic lid
Glue together

I've been tagged!

I got Tagged to play a Photo Game by Amy at Keeping Up With The Schultzes. Amy hosts a monthly Round Robin on her blog. It is an exchange of projects and ideas. It is a lot of fun so be sure to stop by her blog and see what it is all about. Plus that girl is a great commenter! If you haven't visited Amy at K.U.W.T.S. before stop by and tell her I sent you!

The rules:
1) Go to your photo files
2) Pick the sixth folder (open)
3) Pick the 6th photo
4) Write a story about the photo
5) Tag six people

I am not going to tag six people because I know that many of you may have done this before. So if you haven't and would like to join in on the fun consider yourself tagged!

Lulu & Jessie, October 2006
This was taken at my parents house. They have two poodles, Maggie & Jessie. I don't know what Lu and Jessie are looking at - I'm guessing it is the other dog Maggie. I love how they are both leaning slightly in the same direction. Lu is just over a year in this photo.

My Little Paleontologist

Lulu's loves dinosaurs. Every visit to the library she takes out 4 new books on dinosaurs and Paleontologists. She has decided she wants a dinosaur birthday party (her birthday is in September.) She wants to be a friendly T-Rex for Halloween. (Luckily my nephew now in 7th grade went through a similar phase at a similar age and has a very nice costume.) Last week we went to Border's and Lulu saw a dinosaur book with a model T-Rex encased in plaster in the Bargain book area. It was $3.99. Even though it was so cheap I didn't want to buy it because we are trying to teach the girls limits. Plus it limits the begging if they know we are going to say no. Usually she forgets about the item. Well she was talking about it for days. So I told her she could earn the book. I gave her one chore - to sort the shoes in the hallway and line them up in pairs - she is still keeping it up and actually enjoys it. She takes pride in her shoe line and gets upset if Em comes and messes it up. Plus, she had to be a good listener and follow simple routine requests. Well she earned her book/kit. This was our first foray into "earning" a prize. I'm still not sure it was a great idea and don't plan on making a habit of it but if any of you have an opinion about this let me know.

With that said, I have to say this was a great buy! Lulu was and still is excited and interested in the book and model. I thought after we realized it was going to take a year to excavate the fossils she would have lost interest. She and her Papa earnestly sat scraping away at it for a half an hour without making a dent. So Mama took matters into her own hands and attacked it with a hammer and butter knife.

While I wrestled with the excavation Lulu took each bone that I freed and placed it on the bone map provided. Look at how happy she is! We talked about what a rib cage was and where the vertebrae are!

I also had her draw the bones. I love her interpretations of each bone! This project took about 3 hours over 2 days. Lulu always ran back excitedly to rearrange her bones on the map and wait patiently for a new bone to be freed from its plaster tomb! Lulu even help assemble the model. Which amazed me. I showed her which pieces fit together and she snapped half of them into place. Like any toy half the pieces don't fit without a lot of coaxing and some muscle. Although, I went upstairs to get Emme from her nap, Lulu had successfully taken the model apart and was ready to start putting it back together. It is so wonderful to see your child light up from learning!

Book: $3.99
The following conversation: Priceless

After telling Grandma all about the book and how she is going to excavate the bones. Grandma said, "Just like an Archaeologist!" Lulu replied, without missing a beat, "No, Grandma, like a Paleontologist!"

I promise cool crafts tomorrow! I was inspired by your comments! Thank you!

Need Ideas

We are in a crafting rut. All this rain has sucked the creativity out of us. The girls don't seem interested in even coloring. Maybe you (my readers) can offer me an assignment. Leave me a comment suggesting a theme, an event, a letter, an animal... you would like to see what we can do with it. I love to brainstorm so this would be the perfect solution to my rut.

We are excited about our roadside find! You've got to love seeing a sign like this. Sitting outside of our local Montessori School was this Childcraft Classroom Table (listed originally for $300 on their website) and two wood classroom chairs. They just needed some minor leg repairs (just up Papa Kings alley) and that was it. They are just like new now. Amazing! Times like this I am glad to be driving around in a minivan! Plus the girls are not old enough to be mortified by mama's roadside savaging!

Child Safety

Last week ABC and 123 hosted a discussion about traveling with kids. I posted a list of some of our favorite travel items. I forgot to talk about a simple safety wrist or ankle bracelet that lists your cell phone or hotel phone number. When we went to Disney World last year I made a Velcro and elastic ankle band with our info on it and our daughter's allergies on it. (A wide piece of white elastic measured to fit around my daughter's ankle snugly but not enough to irritate her. I sewed on some duty Velcro and with a permanent marker wrote her info on the inside so it didn't show.) For us having a kindly stranger buy an ice cream cone for our little one while they wait for the authorities could kill our daughter. Lu is dangerously allergic to milk and could (and has) go into anaphlyactic shock.

Since then we bought these cute disposable bracelets for the girls. The site we got these from is Stuck on You. They sell labels of all sorts. Plenty of websites sell similar bands. Another company is Mabel's Labels. I have also seen temporary tattoos you can buy which might be suit a child not willing to wear a bracelet. We haven't used these bracelets yet but plan on taking them with us to our next fair or amusement park. Of course it goes without saying watching your children is always important but as any parent knows there is always that split second when your child is standing in front of you and then seemingly disappears into the ether.

Another tip is taking a picture of your child that day before you go into the event. It is so easy now with digital cameras. At Disney I took pictures of the girls in the Hotel room or at breakfast to document what they were wearing.

Let me know what you do to ensure your child's safety when traveling!

ABC and 123 Picnic Talk: Traveling with Kids

What don't we bring?! Here is our list of travel paraphernalia.

Leap Pads: Lulu the Letter Spinning Spider My First Leap Pad Soft Touch (We bought this for Lulu when she was 3 months old. We were suckers for anything that said Lulu! We got it at Costco as part of a package. It came with Lulu the letter Spinning Spider. She is spider with a tap screen belly. She sings the alphabet and plays alphabet games. Luckily both girls love playing with these toys. They are both staples on long car rides. I like that the Leap Pad unit adjusts for ability and is a touch pad system which is easier for little ones.) We also received a My First Leap Frog School Bus which uses a pen as a hand me down gift. Now that Lu is older she likes the big girl books it comes with like Cinderella.

Magnetic Doodle Boards: The girls have received numerous Doodle Boards in all shapes and sizes throughout their short lives. I have to say they love them. I always pack two for the car.

: a permanent item in our car kit. Lift the flap books and Eye Spy books are best.

Stickers: A folder with pockets (the kind you used in school) filled with various stickers and paper. I have one in the back seat pocket in my diaper bag. The girls love stickers. They are great to have on hand for car rides, restaurants, waiting rooms. We use a pocket folder with a shiny exterior...perfect for putting stickers on and pealing them off.

Activity Books
: see this post.

self explanatory

Audio Books, Pinky Dinky Doo Podcasts, Music...

Water Doodle Books: We love these water doodle books. We have them in Dora, Sesame Street, Princesses and My Pretty Pony. They are very entertaining in there simplicity. It is kind of Zen coloring in a page. We carry these in the car and the diaper bag. My Little Pony Water WOW! Doodle Book

Lot's of Snacks & Drinks

Mommy: In the end, I am the girls greatest entertainment. I am the resident story teller and game master. Here are some of my goto stories and games:
  • The girls love when I tell a story with them as the star and incorporate her favorite characters into the story.
  • Guess The Animal: give clues and let them guess
  • Guess what I am describing (desperate times call for an extension of the previous game.)
  • Silly Riddles & Jokes
  • Eye Spy
  • If you were A...fill in the blank...where would you live?
  • Make the stuff animal dance and sing (I lost my voice talking and singing like Elmo for thirty minutes but it was worth it!)
  • Hide the small toy: Basically hide and go seek -- I tell them if hey are warm or cool.


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