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Outdoor Waterbed

14 Apr

Outdoor waterbed

The other day I came across this post from Play at Home Mom LLC on making a “Redneck Waterbed.” Rednecks aside, I loved the idea¬† of using a giant plastic sheet and duct tape to make a fun outdoor waterbed for the kids. Originally, PAHM had used the sheeting to make an enormous “bubble” that the kids could walk in, which I originally read about on Curly Bug’s blog.

So it was Easter weekend and we were staying home because the husband had a cold that we didn’t want to share with others. We had picked up a pack of Husky sheeting at Home Depot and a roll of duct tape; no one but me knew what they were for. While the kids were napping I began laying out the sheeting, folding it in half, and taping. This was harder than I expected and my tape job was far from perfect. Still, I called everyone outside and we turned on the hose.

The baby was at best skeptical, at worst terrified.

Sad baby

But my daughter was amazed.

Happy kid

I felt like the coolest mom EVER.

Relaxin'

We watched the water shoot in between the sheeting, forming rivers and lakes under our feet. We squished our bare feet on the cold plastic; we walked on water. We jumped and ran, then we laid down and basked in the Easter sun. They call this sort of thing “sensory play” for a reason.

Everyone is a kid when there's a lawn waterbed involved.

The waterbed filled up, and up, and up. And then it sprung some leaks, and we patched them. So we all got a little wet, which added to the fun for my daughter anyway.

We turned off the hose, but kept coming back to play throughout the day. Overnight, much of the water leaked out and the next day I dumped out the rest. We turn on the sprinklers in the back yard manually, so we skipped a few days to make up for the water we had dumped out while making our waterbed.

There was something so novel about this activity, so different from the norm for us, that we all acted like kids. I’m happy to have found the idea and decided to actually do it, instead of just pinning and forgetting, like I do with so many things.

Family time

Coolest mom. Coolest kid.

Sunbathing

Joyful

What I’ve Been Up To…

29 May

I wanted a lighter-weight diaper bag because I kept hitting random people in the grocery store checkout with my 5-pound glazed Petunia Picklebottom backpack…
Diaper bag sewing

Pleated diaper bag

This door leads from our kitchen to our laundry room. It’s always open so the cats can use the litter box, but the visual clutter from the shelves of cleaning supplies and kitchen storage was driving me crazy. This curtain helps hide it. It’s a twin sheet from Target, hemmed and hung on a tension rod. The tie-back matches our cafe kitchen curtains.
Kitchen curtain in doorway

My friend recently graduated so I whipped up this handy business card case. Now I want one! Not that I have business cards.
Sewing business card case

Sewing business card case

I’ve been taking the kids for long walks lately to help my daughter run off some steam. The other day we saw a crow on our walk and started talking about what a crow’s nest might look like, what color the eggs would be, etc. So after nap we sat down and painted a crow’s nest. We didn’t have any black paint; brown crows look a little less… uhhh…. greasy? anyway. I painted the crows, tree trunk and cloud; my 3-year-old did the rest.
Preschool art

The eggs hatched…
Preschool art

That’s all for now. Hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend!

Springtime Felt Finger Puppets

7 Apr

Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

I love springtime. I love pastel Easter eggs, bunnies, chicks and little piggies. (Pssst… I love bacon. But don’t tell that to the little pink one on the right. He already looks a little high-strung.)

I also love felt – soft, comforting, colorful felt. I have lots of scraps left over from when I made my daughter a felt “paper” doll set, so when I saw a photo of felt finger puppets in Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt: 25 Whimsical Sewing Projects, I decided to give it a try.

The book has patterns for a little mouse, but I wanted to make Easter-themed felt finger puppets instead. So I did these freestyle. The bunny, pig and chick are three different sizes; all three can fit on either an adult finger or a child one.

Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

All you need are some felt scraps, embroidery thread and a needle, scissors, and peace and quiet for about 30 minutes. Because that’s about how long it will take you to make one of these little guys, once you get started. I just used a basic running stitch, the whip stitch, and the satin stitch for the eyes, the bunny’s nose, the inside of the pig’s ears and his nostrils. Stitch the face details first – I think freehand stitching makes for a fun and interesting expression – then attach the front and back pieces and whip stitch them together, leaving the bottom open. If your creation has ears, attach them when joining the front and back. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. I vote simple.

(Note: If there’s interest I’ll try to create a basic pattern for these. Just post in the comments if it’s something you would use.)

These would make a cheerful addition to an Easter basket or even a springtime flower arrangement. So hop to it! Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

I Spy a Super Quiet Toy

2 Apr

I Spy Bag

Ahhh, do you hear that?

No?

It’s the sound of a child quietly playing with a favorite toy – a toy that doesn’t have flashing lights or music so loud you have to put a piece of tape over it to muffle the sound. That is my kind of toy.

I Spy bag

Don’t get me wrong. I believe a child’s work is to play, and play often and with joy and exuberance. It’s not the child I am hoping to silence, but the toy.

And one of the best quiet toys I’ve found is the I Spy bag. A while back I did a swap with a fellow sewing mom – her son received a crayon roll and my daughter an I Spy bag. This toy has lived in my diaper bag for well over a year and it hasn’t lost its allure. We bring it out at doctor’s appointments, car rides, and cart rides.

I Spy Bags

Recently I bought a new sewing machine (the Brother CS6000i Sew Advance Sew Affordable 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine), which I love so far and would recommend if you are in the market for an inexpensive hobby machine. So I decided to break it in (and end my four-month sewing hiatus/babymoon) by sewing vinyl. Smart, no? I quickly found myself Google-ing “how to sew vinyl without driving yourself to the madhouse and destroying your project” and discovered this tip for sewing with vinyl. Hooray!

Essentially your standard I Spy bag consists of fabric of your choice (fleece from Jo-Ann), a vinyl window (I went with 20 gauge and also found it at Jo-Ann), clear plastic pellets (hmmm… Jo-Ann), and a variety of trinkets to be found among the pellets (fine, Jo-Ann was having its big weekend sale and I went a little overboard). I found a variety of tutorials on the bags using both cotton and fleece and tried it both ways. I found the fleece easier to work with since there aren’t fraying edges to contend with.

I Spy Bags

Here’s my ultra-basic tutorial sans photos. Use your imagination!
1. Cut two matching pieces from your fabric. Mine were around 6″ by 8″ to give myself some room to mess up pink the edges.
2. Trace a shape in the middle of one of your pieces and cut it out. This will be your window. It can be any shape but let’s face it, rectangles are far easier to sew around than circles.
3. Cut a piece of vinyl (larger than your window with at least an inch to spare around each side) and, using the tip above for sewing vinyl OR a teflon foot, attach the vinyl to the fleece. Be careful with your stitching – you do not want to end up with a bazillion poly pellets buried in your carpet or scattered across the floor at Costco. I double stitched for added security.
4. Cut the excess vinyl.
5. Place the two pieces of fabric wrong sides together and stitch around three sides. Fill partially with pellets and trinkets, sew the fourth side together. Don’t stuff it with too many pellets or it will be difficult to find the trinkets. At this point I added a second row of stitching around the first one, and used pinking shears to pretty it up.

These would be a fun addition to Easter baskets, don’t you think?

I spy bag

I Spy bag

A Few of Our Favorite Toys: 1-Year-Olds

3 Nov

I welcome November with open arms. Even though it was 90 degrees here today in Southern California, I’ve got Christmas on the brain. I’m doing my best to complete my holiday shopping and crafting this month, leaving plenty of time for relaxing and celebrating in December while simultaneously obsessively cleaning, making freezer meals and generally nesting for the new baby.

One thing I have focused on in earnest these last few weeks is a wish list for our daughter, who turns 3 just a few days before Christmas. I’ve made her a flannel board and felt doll set and a diaper bag for her baby doll, and I found a super creative mom on Etsy who upcycles baby clothes into doll clothes. Even though I don’t have much left to buy, researching our options consumes me at times. I hate making purchases we end up regretting – you know, the toys that are ignored, or that break within a week, or make so much noise we end up hiding them on top of the fridge.

With that, I thought this might be a nice time to share some of our favorite toys over the last three years. This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just a sample of some of the gifts Kaitlyn has received that have been well-loved in our home.

For now, let’s look at some of our favorites from age 1:
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun With Friends Music Table
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B0015KOOHO
This table is noisy, but it’s also irresistible to the little ones. It eventually (after many, many, MANY hours of use) went into the closet for storage, but we’ve held onto it for the next baby and know he’ll enjoy it as much as Kaitlyn did. The legs are removable so they can use it sitting or standing. I recommend this to anyone looking for the perfect gift for baby’s first Christmas – especially if the grandparents are looking for suggestions. Ages 6 months and up.

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stroll-Along Walker
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B0015KVXW8
This is a toy that has really stood the test of time. We bought this for Kaitlyn’s first Christmas and at nearly 3 years old, she still plays with it daily. In fact, right now her favorite bunny rabbit is sitting inside, and her playing cards are stored in the back tray. Which is saying something considering this stroller is ages 9 months and up – and she’s the size of your average 4-year-old. We’ve got a new doll stroller on her wish list for this year, one with a bit more growing room, but I’ll be a little sad to see this one go.

Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home (and other Little People sets)
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B001W09LO8
Little People hold a special place in my heart. My sister and I (and my best friend and I) played for hours and hours with our People growing up, and luckily my parents held on to most of the collection (which was extensive). Now Kaitlyn plays with it when visiting Grandma and Grandpa. She received the Busy Day Home (no longer available) for her first birthday along with a Noah’s Ark set, and both are still “in play” (and probably will still be by the time her baby brother is old enough to join in).

Little Tikes Push and Ride Doll Walker
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B00005850G http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B00005850H
We found one of these on Craigslist for $4. Granted, it had a cracked handle and always swerved to the right… but Kaitlyn still got quite a bit of use out of it. The recommended age range is 9 months and up. This is a nice option for both learning to walk and scooting around (and, if you’ve got a curious kid, eventually they’ll try to stand on it to reach things. But then, what won’t they stand on to try to reach things?).

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&nou=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=domesticatedm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B001NQHN7S
This one is sort of cheating, because although the age range is 18 months and up, we didn’t buy it for our daughter until her second birthday. But it was a big hit and still is, nearly a year later. Every child who comes to play at our house gets in the car at least once, and usually some negotiating has to be done to take turns. We kept it indoors for most of the year, but recently let it venture out back so I could reclaim some living-room space. Kaitlyn’s preschool has several of these cars for outside play and they are constantly in use. If you see one on sale, snatch it up. I sent my husband to multiple stores last year to try to find the best deal; they seem to be in high demand over the holidays.

Coming soon! A Few of Our Favorite Toys: 2-Year-Olds…