Ramblings Flip Flop Craft

Jenwa at Ramblings of a Crazy Woman and Filth Wizardry featured homemade flip flops. We couldn't resist trying this one at home.

Foam Craft Sheets or Cardboard
Pony Beads
Chenille Stems (Pipe Cleaners)
Hole punch

After attaching the pipe cleaners - I glued a second foot shape on to hide the pipe cleaners. This also made the sole a bit more cooshie. Visit Ramblings of a Crazy Woman for full instructions. I like how she used card board and had her kids decorate their own (great for older kids.) The foam sheets made this a fun and easy craft for toddlers. Adult assistance is a must for small children. Done on a smaller scale this would be cute as a gift tag. Have fun crafting with your kids.

Edit: I forgot to mention we made the flip flops on 2 different days (actually over a week apart.) I try not to push my kiddos to finish a project. I just put it aside until they are ready to try it again. Usually I will let some time pass and take it out the next craft (Emme's nap) time and see if Lu is interested in working on it again.

Teacher Gift: Hand Sanitizer

We got the idea for an embellished hand sanitizer from a favorite blog, Little Birdie Secrets. Go over and check out all of her great ideas!

Lulu found out last year that her teacher (she has the same teacher this year) loves sea shells. I peeled off the front label. Gave Lulu stickers to stick on the bottle. Tied a ribbon around the top and glued a shell onto the knot. It is really that easy! I think it came out pretty cute. I think her teacher will get a lot of use out of it this school year!

Lulu plans on giving it to her teacher during her one on one "Meet the Teacher" appointment next week.

Easy Kid-Made Labels

Every summer we accumulate a lot of "treasures" we store in old jars. I usually label the jars with a bit of masking tape but this summer we got a little more professional and made our own labels. Once we started we saw a number of items that could be labeled.

Print out on a sheet of white paper the name of all your items that need to be labeled. Make sure you allow enough room to crop and use a large enough font set on bold. Let your child color the paper. Cut out the label. You can back with some colored to paper - see cereal label. Attach with contact paper or packing tape cut slightly larger. Make sure you won't mind putting tape on the item you are labeling as it might damage something delicate.

We even used this method to label two spots on a table where the girls are suppose to put their sippy cups after they are done drinking them. I was tired of hunting down sippy cups or worse finding them - how many days later - behind a chair or under the couch. Both girls now know to put their cups on their circles. Emme still needs a little reminding. But it definitely has been great putting the responsibility in their hands.

Happy labeling!

Catching up with family

The girls had so much fun visiting with cousin MM in Connecticut. They were little energizer bunnies and kept going and going! There was way too much dress up, dancing, giggling, being silly, playing games, and swimming to be done!

Sunday Snapshot: Making Juice Pops with Pops

Another busy week comes to an end. Spent most the week visiting my sister in CT. (The girls and I had a wonderful time! Pictures to come.) Both girls were very excited to get in some good quality Daddy time after being away for so long. Saturady we attended a family adoption picnic hosted by the agency both Emme and I were adopted through.

I got the opportunity to join several other amazing adult adoptees speak about our adoption experiences and field questions at the picnic. I always love opportunities like this because I meet adult adoptees who I share an unspoken bond with.

If you are an adult adoptee and you have an opportunity to attend an adult adoptee event please do. This is a picture (I'm the one with the red purse) from a conference held annually at Rutger's University organized by the CPFA (Concerned Persons for Adoption.) This was my second year speaking with the group pictured above. It will be held again this year in November. I am looking forward to speaking again and of course seeing my fellow panelists. I love that it is such a diverse group! If you are in the NJ, NY or PA area and are an adoptive parent or adoptee you can find out more about the conference at the CPFA website.

For all you Korean adoptees out there the Outreach Director who helped organized the picnic and panel mentioned attending the Korean Gathering for Adult Adoptees in Korea next August. I wish I could afford to go! It is still isn't out of the realm of possibilities...fingers crossed. I know it would be an incredible experience.

Emme's Second Birthday

Here are a few snapshots from Emme's second birthday party. It was a small casual gathering of family. We were particularly excited that SP and her family joined in on the festivities! SP and her family flew back from Korea with us. We celebrated the girls Gotcha Day together and hope to stay friends with them throughout the girls lives. I have to get approval from SP's mama before I post any pictures of her.
Look at the outfit my girlfriend, Krissy, lent Miss Emme for her second birthday! Isn't ADORABLE?!

A little pin the nose on Elmo to get things started. The blindfold didn't work with the two year olds.

So happy!

Opening gifts.

Someone is excited for cupcakes!

Traditional Korean Sam Taeguk Fan

The Sam Taeguk symbol is found on tradional Korean fans. It is a variation of the Taeguk symbol found on the Korean National flag. The Taeguk is comprised of two colors, red and blue. The red represents heaven and the blue represents earth. The symbol represents harmony similar to a Ying Yang symbol. The Sam Taeguk includes yellow to represent man.

To make your own Sam Taeguk Fan hop over to Grown In My Heart. Click here for the printout and the instructions. Be sure to leave me a comment over there so I know you stopped by!

While your there enter the Crayola Back To School Giveaway. Crayola is giving away one Back to School Gift Pack to a lucky winner.


What To Do With Your Child's Artwork: Save or Toss

My friend over at Organizing-Life asked me awhile back what I do with all my kids artwork. Do I keep it all or toss some? How do I decide? What about bulky three dimensional pieces? Here are some ideas and options to help you navigate the piles of artwork you will accumulate over your child's lifetime.

Break your child's artwork into several categories:
  • Obvious Toss
  • Seasonal Artwork
  • Special Occasion Artwork
  • Firsts
  • Sculptures
  • They LOVE or you LOVE
  • Reuse
Obvious Toss: These items you know when their expiration date is up and when your little one isn't looking remove from fridge and TOSS then replace with their latest masterpiece. This work includes scribbles, the hundredth drawing of the same unicorn, random stickers on a piece of paper...

Emme is a prolific scribbler. At this stage I save her firsts and toss the rest.

Seasonal Artwork: I like to store the seasonal artwork with my seasonal decorations. I think it is fun to decorate the house with the heart hand prints Lulu made in preschool at Valentines Day or the glittery Easter Egg she made at Easter. Keep in mind there is a lot of seasonal artwork that will accumulate over the years. So when the kids are old enough to decide have them go through it and decide what she be kept and what should be tossed.

Special Occasion Artwork: These are creations your kiddos will make for you over the years for your birthday, anniversary, mother's day... Keep an accordion file folder for these homemade cards and drawings. Your kids will appreciate looking at these expressions of their love later in life. Of course, don't forget the obvious toss category. It is OK to toss a piece of paper with a line on it and a sticker stuck to it even if it was given to you out of love!

Firsts: First scribble, first finger painting, first drawing of a person, fish, animal, your family... These items are important to keep but don't go overboard. Try to remember to write their age and why the drawing is important on the back. Store in the accordion folder with your special occasion artwork.

I saved this and wrote about Lulu's desire to be a Paleontologist. This is her first drawing of a dinosaur bone.

Sculptures: Unless it is a true master piece - take a picture of it or of your child holding it. Then after it has been thoroughly enjoyed and displayed...TOSS!

Most kids sculptures are fairly fragile to begin with or are made with materials not meant to last the long haul.

They LOVE or you LOVE: This is tricky because there are going to be a lot of projects that you and your child are going to just love. This is where things start piling up. Save the true masterpieces. In a few years revisit them with your child and decide together which should be tossed and which should be kept. Any artwork you are not sure about - photograph.

Emme loves this and when it is taken down will be put in the folder with her age and a quick note about how much she loves this and points to it everday saying, Bub-ble.

Reuse: See What To Do With Your Child's Artwork or click here.

Tip: Consider compiling your child's artwork into a photo book which can be done online fairly cheaply or an artwork scrapbook.

Tip: Don't forget to date and jot down any info of why you are saving the artwork. If you can't think of anything to write than most likely you shouldn't be saving it! Also if you have more than one child get them separate folders.

What To Do With Your Child's Artwork: Painting

We do a lot of open ended painting in our house. Both girls enjoy just smearing and mixing paint on paper. It is a wonderful tactile experience. But what do you do with all those wonderful creations?

Let them dry and when they want to paint again have them paint on some of their old paintings. First it saves paper and second it makes for a colorful and bold painting.

When painting on top of another painting use a dark color paint so it stands out. Or conversely if the background paint is very dark have them use white or a light color to paint with.

The top picture is a leopard and the bottom is a lion.

For more ideas of what to do with your children's artwork click here.

Edit: If you find that you don't paint with your kiddos because you are worried about paint getting everywhere! Then take advantage of the warm weather and take your painting outside. Just hose your kiddos off afterwards. Make sure you use washable paint. :-) Finding large paper a problem? Try having your kids paint a paper grocery bag that has been opened up flat or a cardboard box opened up flat. I even give my kids mini rollers (I had for trim work.) They just love that! Have fun crafting with your kids!

Sunflower Craft

Todays craft was inspired by a trip to Whole Foods. Lu saw the beautiful sunflowers and said she wanted to make one at home. Here is our version of a craft that has existed since the dawn of crafting! If you have sunflower seeds use them. We did not so - we made a lentil flower! Also as you can see I didn't wait for the glue to dry. The white glue will dry clear...we hope.

This is an easy craft for all skill levels. Younger kids may need more of moms help and prep.

  • 2 Circles (I used a circle punch and poster board you can use whatever you have on hand just make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the glue & lentils)
  • Crepe Paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Lentils (beans), noodles or seeds (We didn't have any sunflower seeds on hand)
  • Large Popsicle Stick
  • Extras: foam or paper leaves, paint for Popsicle stick, rimmed cookies sheet, wax paper, paint brush for glue

Working on a rimmed baking sheet covered with wax paper makes for easier clean up and keeps the stray lentils on the tray instead of all over the floor & table. Squeeze or brush glue onto circle. Sprinkle lentils onto circle. We went back and squirted more glue on top so all the lentils would stay stuck.

Cut out small sections of crepe paper fringe. I folded the crepe paper over on itself several times, fringe cut it then cut into small sections. Older kids can do this step. They can even make the fringe look more petal like.

Glue second circle. Have child place fringe pieces around edge. Adding more glue as needed. We did several layers to create a fuller look.

Squeeze glue onto last layer of fringe. Place the first circle on top of the second. Let dry over night.

Meanwhile, you can paint a large Popsicle stick and add leaves if you like. Glue sunflower to stem. Let dry.

We hurried up this step - so the glue (as you can see) is not dry.

Felt Tic-Tac Toe Pouch from Coloured Buttons

I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs and found a great new (for me) blog called Coloured Buttons. The blog was featured on One Crafty Place.

I immediately had to make the no sew felt version of her O's & X's pouch. It is a little portable Tic-Tac-Toe Game. I didn't even get a chance to decorate the outside! Lulu was off and playing with it! I will attach some flowers to the outside later. Lu is in love with the pouch and the bead string closure. She has been swinging it and carrying around ever since I made it. There is something just so fun pulling the pouch closed and sliding the beads down to keep it closed. Definitely check out the Coloured Buttons blog for more fun ideas. I want to try to make the Matchbook House Necklace - just need to snag a matchbook next time I'm out at a restaurant. Hers is so cute - check out the detail!

I used a dinner plate as my template for the circle, fabric glue, pinking shears, felt, narrow ribbon, and beads. Coloured Buttons has sewing instructions too.

Tip: I made my game pieces 2 ply to give them more substance. Just glued two identical pieces together in contrasting colors.

Tip: make sure the hole or opening of your beads is small. Pony beads don't work unless you are using a thick cord. You want the bead to be snug but still slide this will ensure your pouch stays closed.

The great thing about this design is you can customize your pouch to a holiday. This would be a cute Valentines Day gift. Done up in pink with hearts. Or you can customize it for the child your giving it to. Instead of X's and O's you can use their initials.

Have fun crafting!

Sesame Place or Things you do for your kids

Edit: Grown In My Heart Felt Wallet Pictures scroll down or click here.

We took the girls to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania last week for Emme's 2nd birthday.

Initially this was going to be a scathing review of Sesame Place. Having had some time to think about our trip I realized that yes there were a lot of things I didn't like about Sesame Place but for the most part the girls enjoyed themselves and there were in fact several attractions at the park I did like.

We happened to go on the one 90 plus degree day we have had this summer with what felt like 90 percent humidity. This made for an overall whiny, irritable, sticky mood. Kids were losing it all around us in the line to get into the theme park. Parents had that - why did we drive all the way here and are about to spend $50 plus dollars per person on tickets for you to be whining - look on their faces. It was there in line that I mentally began writing this blog entry.

I found myself asking the same question all day long. Why are we here torturing ourselves? The girls aren't even going to remember this!

Once inside we made our way to the Sunny Day Carousel. As you can see from the picture Emme's hair was sticking to her head from the heat! The line was very long and again like the entry to the park line not covered or shaded.

It was there in line that my husband and I first commented on the noise level. The background music was blasting coupled with the carousel music and park announcements. All day long we were bombarded by noise. So much so that we were raising our voices to talk to each other. I was stunned that a place like Sesame Place wouldn't be sensitive to the noise issue. Any person who works with children (especially children with special needs) will tell you that loud noise is overstimulating to children and harmful. A poor layout, the crowding of amusements into a small space, and the noise all contributed to an overall sense of chaos we couldn't escape.

I wondered how an organization known for education and children could put their name on a place that was not educational in any sense of the word and felt like they had marginally taken into consideration the needs of the children that would be attending the park.

The water park which is a majority of the park was not suitable for our two girls (ages 2 and almost 4.) They would not even go near the Counts Splash Castle which was packed with screaming kids and they were too little for the water slides. We did do Big Bird's Lazy River which Lulu enjoyed. Emme on the other hand shook in fear the entire time. If you have older children 5 - 10 years old the water features would probably be a big hit with them. My husband and I wished the girls would have been more interested in the water attractions especially since we were melting! In general the girls were in a sensory overload daze the entire time.

I did say that there were positives. Here they are: all of the amusement rides accommodated adults as well as children. The rides were tame and appropriate for toddlers (be prepared to stand in line though.) Elmo's World Show was a big hit with the girls. The parade was cute and the characters played to the crowd shaking hands and giving high fives.

You can pack a small cooler (there is a size restriction.) I highly recommend packing one especially if you want to provide healthy snacks or save money (food is expensive and of poor quality.) We always do because of Lulu's allergies.

Waiting for the parade to start.

Our second day was much better. Second day you may be asking yourself? My dear frugal husband was going to use the "free" second day even if this is what he was greeted with in the parking lot of Sesame Place.

Rain and some skeptical faces.

Luckily for us my husband persevered because we were treated to an empty park, cool weather and no lines! The rain stopped 20 minutes in and we felt like we owned the park!

That is Lulu and Daddy (in the yellow poncho) on the ROLLER COASTER!!

You can wait in line for photo ops with characters. We only saw Zoe (the line was too long - it was on the hot day) and Burt & Ernie during our two days.

Look at Emme's face! A big difference from the first day! So what's the verdict? If your prepared for the cost and the noise and the crowds and seeing people you don't want to see walking around with their shirts off and you know your little ones will just LOVE it regardless...then GO! It just might exceed your expectations. Because even though I asked myself repeatedly Why are we here torturing ourselves? The girls aren't even going to remember this! I know in my heart they enjoyed themselves and will take away a sense of time spent together as a family. For me Sesame Place falls under the category - Thing we do for our kids.

Ultimately our vacation wasn't even about Sesame Place it was about the girls giggling and whispering past their bedtimes, first roller coaster rides, staying in a hotel, swimming in the hotel pool, singing in the car and coming together as a family.


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