Friday, September 28, 2012

Dollar Crafts - Mosaic

I found these cute mosaic sticker kits at Deals.  For $1, each kit includes two designs and tons of mosaic stickers to decorate the designs.

Both girls worked at this for a long time and couldn't finish so we put it away and finished it up a few days later.  It ended up being a fun project for just $1!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Our Thankful Turkey

We have a lot to be thankful for, especially this year with another little munchkin on the way!

I find it challenging to teach my girls to be grateful for their blessings.  Their little worlds are so simple and innocent.  It's all they know.  They don't understand that some kids don't have food to eat when they're hungry or shoes to wear outside or a loving and supportive family.

I thought the Thankful Turkey would be a good tool to teach my kids appreciation.  And it was pretty easy to make!  All you need is poster board, card stock, scissors, double stick tape and a Sharpie.

First I made a turkey using different colored card stock and then I double stick taped it to a piece of poster board.  At the top of the poster board I wrote "I'm Thankful For...".  I'm planning on laminating the poster board so that I can reuse it year after year.

Then I traced my hand and my girls' hands on fall-colored card stock to make turkey feathers.

Now we can write the things that we're thankful for on the hands and soon our turkey will have lots of beautiful feathers!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Keeping Up

You may have noticed that I changed my blog name to Keeping Up with the Kiddos.  Lately, it takes all of my energy to keep up with my girls, including the unborn little girl.  I am 36 weeks along now.  Exhaustion is setting in, but the end is in sight thank goodness.  And while that is a very nice thought, it's also a bit overwhelming.  Our basement is coming along nicely, but still under construction.  The nursery is livable, but not cute.  Ava's new bedroom furniture was delivered last week and I sent back 5 of the 9 pieces that we ordered for replacements (seriously Ashley Home Furniture!!!).  I haven't packed my hospital bag, washed baby bottles, or gotten the baby clothes out of storage.  We have not agreed on a name for this baby.  We still need to get our family room carpet cleaned once the basement is finished.  Oh, and we need a new roof.

The one and only thing I have accomplished is get the maternity pictures taken.  And that almost didn't happen.  I found a photographer almost 2 months ago and set up a date to have the pictures taken.  Two days before the photo shoot we discussed logistics and photo props, etc.  Then...THE DAY BEFORE THE PHOTO SHOOT - VIA VOICEMAIL - SHE CANCELLED AND TOLD ME SHE COULD NOT RESCHEDULE!!!!!!  I'm sure that her emergency was greater than my need for maternity photos, but it was quite a scramble.  I got on the phone and called another photographer (Keri Dummerth) who filled in at the last minute.  I have to say that while I was disappointed that all this blew up at the last minute, I couldn't be more happy with the way it all turned out in the end.  Keri is AMAZING.  She's my new hero.  She is a mom of 5 kids and she is so talented and was unbelievable with our girls.  I can't decide which picture is my favorite.  We took maternity photos with all three of my pregnancies and this one was by far my most favorite.  I can't wait to see how the newborn photos turn out.  All's well that ends well!

More maternity pictures to come when I get the CD!!  Thanks so much Keri!!!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Antique Wooden Pumpkins

I think I mentioned that we're finishing our basement right now.  Home improvement projects = lots of wood scraps for art projects!  I saw an idea for wooden pumpkins that I thought would look great on our front porch.  I also wanted to antique them so they'd look more rustic.  I have to be honest - this project took some time to finish.  Despite Tim's comment ("They do kind of look like pumpkins."), I am really happy with how they turned out.

Here's what I used to make the pumpkins:
- 3 pieces of 1" x 4" wood cut to 12" long (See Note 1 below)
- 3 pieces of 1" x 4" wood cut to 18" long (See Note 1 below)
- 4 pieces of 1" x 4" wood cut to 22" long (See Note 1 below)
- 3 bases for the pumpkins cut from 2' x 2' plywood
- 3 stems for the pumpkins cut from 1" x 1" wood
- Wood sanding pad (80 - 120 grit will do)
- Orange spray paint
- Clear Enamel - High Gloss Finish spray paint (See Note 2 below)
- Brushed Metallic Satin spray paint
- 2 Paint stripping pads (you want something VERY gritty that will strip paint, not sand)
- Brown, Black and Off-white Acrylic paint (used for aging)
- Rags and sponge brushes
- Wood glue
- Metal plate fasteners
- Screws
- Burlap, fall leaves and decorations for the pumpkins

Here's how you make your antique wooden pumpkins:
1.  Cut your wood pieces.  I don't have a saw so I headed to Lowes to have my pieces cut then I sanded down the cut edges with an 80 grit wood sanding pad.

2.  Spray paint your 1 x 4 wood pieces orange.

3.  Spray paint your bases and stems Brushed Metallic.

4.  To antique the 1" x 4" wood pieces, let the orange paint dry fully and then spray them with the Clear Glossy Enamel paint.  I just covered the fronts and sides of the wood with the Clear Glossy Enamel since I wasn't concerned with antiquing the back sides of the pumpkins.  Also, see Note 2 below.

5.  When the 1" x 4" wood pieces have dried, generously sand/strip the boards using a very gritty paint stripping pad.  Concentrate on the high parts as well as the edges and corners.  The more paint you strip, the older the boards will look.

6.  Now it's time to apply the aging coat of paint.  I mixed a brown acrylic paint with a bit of white acrylic and a tiny bit of black acrylic paint.  Then I watered it down until it looked like brownish water.  I tried out the mixture on the side of one of my boards to make sure I liked the concentration.  Also, as the mixture dries, it will lighten a bit.

7.  Quickly apply the mixture with a sponge brush to all the sanded areas. As soon as it is applied, wipe off the paint with a rag. The longer you let the mixture stay on the wood, the darker it will stain it. I did one board at a time, so as to not let the mixture set too long.  This dyes the raw wood with a brownish color and puts a slight darker shade over the orange painted areas.

8.  After the aging paint dries, turn your boards so the backs are facing up and use your wood glue to hold the sides of the boards together.  I felt like I needed a stronger hold so I also drilled metal plates to the back of the boards.  The longer boards needed more plates.

9.  Drill the bases to the bottoms of the boards, then flip them right side up and hot glue the stems to the tops of the pumpkins.  Now you can decorate your pumpkins!

10.  I hot glue gunned fall leaves to the base of the pumpkins and wrapped fall stems in burlap.

1 - Rough cut lumber is easier to antique and is sold at Lowes and Home Depot.  I used what I had available, which was not rough cut, and was still able to antique it.
2 - I'm not sure how necessary this step is.  The clear coat is supposed to seal the paint from soaking up the aging paint that you apply later, but it seemed to me like I stripped all of the clear enamel off my wood.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free Museum Day -- September 29th

Museum Day Live! is coming up on Saturday, September 29.  If you visit the Museum Day Live! website, you can get free admission for 2 people to more than 1,400 museums in honor of the 8th annual Museum Day.  Here are some of the museums participating in St. Louis:

Missouri History Museum
Museum of Transportation
Saint Louis Art Museum
Saint Louis Science Center
The Eugene Field House
Campbell House Museum
Historic Daniel Boone Home
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA)

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Kiwi Crate Arrived!

Our first Kiwi Crate arrived!  The girls were super excited to get a package in the mail.

The projects were all about robots.

And we got a new pair of scissors!

There were two projects in this box.  The first project was making a robot.  The box came with instructions, templates to make the robots, and stickers, paper, glue and markers for decorating the robots.  I was glad that there were plenty of supplies for both of my girls to make robots, even though this was a box for one child.  Here are the girls making the robots:

After we finished decorating our robots, we followed the directions to assemble the robots with the stickers.  Extra arm and antennae pieces were provided to attach to the robots.  The final step was linking the robots together.  Once they were linked together we could place one robot over a smaller wind-up toy robot to make the robot train move.

In part two of the robot project, we made another robot using a rectangular metal box and a wooden block for the head.  Sidney had to take a nap, so Ava decorated the robot head, arms and antenna pieces.  

Once the robot was finished, we used the giant magnet from the Kiwi Crate to move the robot around mazes (also provided in the Kiwi Crate).

At first, Ava had a hard time maneuvering the robot around the mazes with the magnet, but she eventually got the hang of it.  The Kiwi Crate also suggested more robot-related activities that you could do using your own supplies, but we didn't have time for that.  Overall, it was a really fun project and it took us about an hour to do both parts.  We can't wait for our next Kiwi Crate to arrive!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Emergency Survival Kit

I'm sure everyone can remember exactly what they were doing on September 11, 2001.  I had just moved to San Francisco after graduating from college and was days away from starting my first professional job.  Being on the West coast, I felt so far away from everything unfolding on the East coast.  The only thing I felt like I could do to help was donate blood.  It was hard to forget that day.  Especially when Tim and I lived in NYC.  Ground Zero was under construction the entire time we lived there.  These are pictures of Ground Zero from 2007.  It was mostly a hole in the ground - impossible to tell what it would look like today.

My mom and I went back to NYC this past April.  I was amazed at how much had changed.  The 9/11 Memorial was nearly complete and it was beautiful.

 The North Pool and the South Pool reside where the Twin Towers once stood.
 The names of the 9/11 victims are engraved around the North and South Pools.
The 9/11 Museum is complete on the outside.  The interior should be done this year.

A couple years ago, I decided we should have an Emergency Survival Kit.  I was at home alone with the girls one afternoon and the tornado siren went off.  Fortunately, nothing happened in our area, but I started to question how prepared we were.  I did a bunch of online research to figure out how to prepare for an emergency.  I started by reading two online manuals by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency): 

1) Are You Ready? 
2) Basic Preparedness

FEMA also has guides for specific types of emergencies and disasters that affect specific geographic areas (click here for more info).

I have a Pinterest board with helpful articles and blog posts that I have found related to survival kits.  Click here if you'd like to see my board.

Next I created four supply kit checklists in Excel:

1) Detailed Disaster Supply Kit - This is our main supply kit that we keep at home in our storage area.

2) 72 Hour Kit - This kit contains supplies in backpacks that will get us by for 72 hours.  If we cannot stay in our home, we can carry / wheel our supplies to another location.

3) Emergency Car Kit - In case an emergency occurs when we are away from home, we have supply kits in all our cars.

4) Pandemic Disease Kit - I keep this supply kit with our main supply kit (#1 above) in a separate bag.

You can click on the links above to view and download my lists.  All of the lists are color coded and the colors indicate when the supplies need to be replaced.  I set a reminder in my calendar every 6 months to review the list and determine if anything needs to be replaced.  Here's what our kit looks like:

 We are storing our kit in the dining room while the basement is being finished.  Normally it would be in the storage area of the basement.  Pictured: Bottled water, 2 large storage bins, 3 back packs (2 of which can be rolled), blankets in a sealed plastic bag that could be secured to our back packs if necessary, a large paint bucket (to be used for washing or as a toilet if necessary) and our personal documents are sitting on top the paint bucket in a sealed plastic bag.  Not Pictured: Giant plastic water storage tank filled with water, emergency car kits, which stay in the trunks of our cars. 
 Here is a top view of the supplies.  The 3 back packs contain the 72 Hour Kit supplies.
 In one of the large storage bins we have all our food and drinks.
The other large storage bin contains all other supplies in the Detailed Disaster Supply Kit.

There are a few things (like current prescriptions, tennis shoes, etc.) that are not packed that are listed at the bottom of the 72 Hour Kit spreadsheet in a section titled "Items Not Packed".  I keep a print out of this list in my desk in case we have to leave in a hurry.

Have you read the book "One Second After" by William Forstchen?  Tim and my parents have all read the book and talked in length about it so I feel like I've read it too.  It's a fiction book but the threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack on the US is possible.  Pretty scary.  This book takes emergency preparedness to a whole new level!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Fun Fall Activities with Kids

I feel like Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.  While I love summertime, I also really love the end of the year.  There are so many fun holidays to look forward to.  The weather we had this weekend really made it feel like fall had arrived so I made a list of all the things that I don't want to forget to do.

Pick apples
Make Puffed Apple Pancakes
Visit a pumpkin patch
Carve and decorate pumpkins
Make lots of pumpkin treats
Look on Pinterest for Halloween projects for the kids
Halloween costumes for the kids
Trick-or-treat and hand out candy
Make decorations for the front door and front porch
Fall colors in nature scavenger hunt
Make Chicken Taco Soup in the crock pot
Movie night with hot chocolate and candy apples
Work at the Fall Festival at church
Look on Pinterest for Thanksgiving projects for the kids
Collect fall leaves for art projects with the kids
Start buying gifts for Christmas!

What are your favorite fall activities?

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Newborn Halloween Tutu

Our baby girl is due to arrive right before Halloween.  We are planning to take newborn photos of her so I made this cute little tutu as a prop.  {It may double as a pumpkin Halloween costume too!}  I was surprised at how easy it was to make the tutu.  I will definitely be making my girls tutus as opposed to buying them from now on.  Here's all you need to know if you want to make your own tutu.

Tulle (6" wide x 25 yards long) - I didn't come close to using 25 yards but this was the smallest quantity I could find.
Elastic band (non-rolling preferred)
Needle and thread
Measuring tape

1.  Before cutting your elastic band, measure your child's waist using a measuring tape.  I added an inch to the measurement because the two ends of the elastic band will overlap and be sewed together.  Also, the tulle wrapped around the elastic band adds a bit of extra thickness to the waistline.  I cut my elastic band to 14" long for a newborn tutu.

2.  Using a needle and thread, sew the two ends of the elastic together.  This does not have to look nice.  You will be covering it with tulle so it won't even show.

3.  Before cutting your tulle, decide how long you want the tutu to hang on your child, then double the measurement.  For example, I wanted a newborn tutu that was ~5 inches long  so I cut my tulle pieces to ~11 inches.  Again, the measurement does not have to be exact.  Once  the tutu is put together you won't be able to notice the small differences in length.

4.  To attach the tulle to the elastic band, fold a piece of tulle in half and place it under the elastic band as shown above.  I found it much easier to wrap my elastic band around a cylinder to attach the tulle.

5.  Pull the bottom ends of the tulle up through the top loop as shown above.

6.  Pull the bottom ends of the tulle down to secure around the elastic band.  Don't worry about the elastic band showing.  As you add more tulle, the band will cover up nicely.

7.  Continue adding tulle around your elastic band, pushing the tulle pieces together as you go.  

8.  Eventually you will have a full skirt and can trim the ends as needed.

I can't wait to see how cute our little baby looks in her first tutu!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School

Ava started preschool this week!  This is her last year of preschool - unbelievable.  The four year old's get to visit their classroom the week before school starts to meet their teachers and explore the room.  We also got her school bag to take home and decorate.  After a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michael's, Ava finally decided on how she wanted to decorate her bag.  Here's how it turned out:



The night before Ava's first day of school we made her "First Day Of Preschool" sign.  I bought the frame (pre-cut frames only were on sale 50% off) and purple poster board at Hobby Lobby.  The frame did not come with glass or a backing, which was fine because the glass would have caused a glare and made it heavy to hold.  I used a black Sharpie to write on the poster board.

Ava was so excited she could barely sleep the night before school.  The next morning, she wanted to get to school so badly that she didn't want to take her picture.  I said that was fine, we could take the picture another time.  Then she told me, "Well, you can take my picture and I'll smile but I'm not going to enjoy it."  Classic.  I think she did alright. 

Love my big, silly girl!

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