thumbprint heart family tree

thumbprint heart
The thumbprint heart. Looks simple enough, right?

Now imagine trying to get your I-can-do-it-all-by-myself 4 year old and unable-to-open-her-hands-on-her-own 4 month old to make one…..

Yeah. I don’t have any pictures of that. But it was awesome. And we had red paint everywhere.

Eventually, I did manage to get something that looked kind of like a heart from both of them.

Here’s what I did with my hard-earned winnings.
family tree hearts
Made myself a valentine, that’s what! I cut out their little thumbprint (which actually turned out to be pointer fingerprints) hearts and stamped their initials on each.

Then I printed out this lovely family tree (Thanks, Martha!) and glued it onto a tiny canvas. I stamped a b+v in the heart on the trunk and placed it on a picture ledge. Makes me smile every time I see it as I walk down the stairs.
cornelia augusta
I got the idea from a very creative valentine-maker,  Miss Cornelia Augusta, in the book The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond.
Day It Rained Hearts
Have you read it yet? I hope you can find a copy at your library. It’s a good one.

Linking to: the treasurista,
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paint chip valentines

paint chip valentines
Crafting with paint chips is all the rage these days, so I picked up a few the other day to get in on the fun.  These are some valentines I made for Juliet. I plan on putting one in her mailbox every day of February up until Valentines Day. (Why save all the fun for just one day?)

She can’t read many words yet, so I needed something simple. And since she likes to carry her mail around with her all day and all night long, I needed something sturdy. These paint chip valentines are going to be just right.
paint chips
I picked a few in shades of pink, purple, and red…
love notes
Got out my stamps and inkpad and wrote a few simple messages on each one during a particularly well-timed nap day (both girls were in their rooms and I had an hour to myself–not something I get everyday…)
yellow
She’s learning to read, so I think we’ll have fun with these. (Does anyone else like to borrow song lyrics for Valentines cards?)

I tucked these cards away for now, but I’m ready for next week when the celebration of hearts begins! How are you planning on telling your kids you love them? (I love these homemade apple chips Regina made with her little one…) 

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police themed birthday party

chasing dingo dog
Juliet recently turned 4 years old and we celebrated with her friends by throwing a “police-themed” birthday party. I use quotes because it was very much our own interpretation of a police theme and most of our ideas were based on Officer Flossie from Richard Scarry’s Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.
Robert the Rose Horse (Beginner Books(R))
Flossie and Robert (of Robert the Rose Horse fame) are pretty much the only two police characters Juliet is aware of. I’m not sure she even knows what real police officers do…but she sure thinks their uniforms and cars are cool.

The idea for this party was born exactly one day after her mermaid party last year. She was telling me how much fun she had at her party and I responded by asking her what kind of party she wanted to have next year.
officer flossie
We might have been reading Cars and Trucks and Things that Go or maybe we had just finished it, but somehow the police theme came up and it became something we talked about on a weekly basis for the next 12 months. Every time it came up, more ideas were born and I tried to keep track of them in case she really wanted to go with this in a year’s time.

It turns out she did. And she remembered every single details from all our discussions. So I had some scrambling to do once January rolled around and this party of her dreams was drawing near. Here is how it turned out.
The Invitations
the invites
You’ve seen the stop sign invitations inspired by Flossie’s own stop sign.  (I’m not sure any of the guests actually picked up on the police theme from them, but once they arrived at our house, they figured it out!)
The Costumes
officer flossie's hat
Juliet’s costume was my first priority. She was very clear about NOT wanting a regular police outfit–she wanted Flossie’s. I had to do some ebay searching for a navy blazer in her size, but I found one just in time. We never found a pleated navy skirt, so we ended up using a pink tulle one that she already owned (It wasn’t hard to convince her to wear something pink since it is her favorite color.) And we modified a regular police hat (gift from her friends) with a nice pink bow–just like Flossie’s.

I wish I had found this pink police shirt to go under the blazer before the party–isn’t it cute?
waiting for her friends
A whistle, a belt, and she was ready to go.

the gear

It turns out police hats are pretty pricey (meaning I didn’t have the budget to buy all her friends one), but I hit the whistle and handcuff jackpot at the dollar store at Halloween. They had police sets which included a whistle, handcuff, keys, badge, walkie talkie, and baton all for $1. I bought one for each child and we were ready to play.

The best thing about the whistles (besides the price) is the fact that they didn’t work! Can you imagine 10   preschoolers running around the house blowing whistles? Nightmare. I was so relieved they didn’t make a peep. 
accessories
The kids each got a whistle and a pair of handcuffs at the door. I placed the batons and walkie talkies in the playroom for them to use as they wished.
the keys
I also put all the keys out and several post it note pads (to serve as “tickets”, but I don’t think that idea caught on very well).
The Decor
kitty
We tried to create some ambiance and bring a little more of Richard Scarry’s world into our home by painting this flag banner (found in the book).
ben's handiwork
Ben’s my party streamer/balloon expert, so he took care of all the “bars” around the house (sort of a jail bar motif).
behind bars
Here’s the view into the kitchen. You can see the blue “picnic” area for all the kids.
trying to be martha
In a nod to Robert the Rose Horse, I tried my hand at Martha’s pom poms….the picture makes them look a lot better than they actually did in real life. While the directions are simple, I found them really difficult to spread and pouf without tearing the tissue paper. Guess I need more pom practice.
blue light special
Ben ordered these flashing police lights online and set them up around the house. Not only are they perfect for police parties, but now we can have crazy disco dance parties in the kitchen any night of the week.
The Fun 
the car
This is the #1 thing Juliet asked for: the police car made out of a box. Ever since I threw out this pink box car  that I made her last Christmas, she’s been asking for another one. Instead of wrapping it with blue paper, I went for the spray paint option this time. Also, I used Amanda’s letter cutting tutorial to get the perfect letters for the front of the car. (You’ve got to watch it. It’s awesome.)
county jail
The second most important item for the party was this cardboard box jail! Two days before the party, we still had not found a suitable box. I asked Juliet if we could just use her pink princess tent as a jail if I hung a “jail” sign from it. She responded to that with a kind, but firm “But jail’s aren’t pink, mama.” She had me there. So Ben had to drive all over town until he found this one. Whew. Then he did a rock star job of transforming it into a really fun jail with a door, two windows, and even some bars. The kids LOVED it.
car mat
I also had Ben pick up this car mat from Ikea, so the kids could drive their own little wooden police cars around town (found the cars at the Target $1 bin at Christmas time!)
book nook
Remember how I wanted to make a book nook for the party? Here it is! Not exactly what I had hoped for, (turns out there are very few police books in our library) but these two were good. Although, I don’t think anyone looked at them–too much fun going on in the county jail, you know.
The Craft 
craft time
I cut out cardboard circles, glued some red-ish paper on top, attached a popsicle stick, and let the kids stick on letters to make their own stop signs. Again, not as fun as the jail…
The Food
the food table
We tried to convince Juliet to just go with donuts, but she also requested pink cupcakes–so we had those, too! The pink roses? Another birthday girl request and Rose horse shout out.

Phew. This probably should have been divided into two posts! We had a lot of fun and made some beautiful memories. I’ve been careful NOT to ask Juliet what she wants her 5th birthday party theme to be…I need a break from party planning! Although, she did mention that she’d like a Rapunzel party after attending her friend Lydia’s party just last week……we’ll see what she says next year.

BCD 125

why my name is joe and 9 other things I blame on books

You know I love books. We read so many that they are a huge influence on Juliet and her perception of the world. While mostly a good influence, sometimes they create some humorous situations around our house. Here are a few things that I blame entirely on books.

The Fire Cat (I Can Read Book 1)
1. My name is Joe. 

Yes, you read that right. It’s not Vanessa as you have been led to believe and as my mother has been telling me all these years–well, at least not if you ask Juliet. For the past 3 months, I have been Joe (the kindly fireman in The Fire Cat) and Juliet has been going by the name Pickles. If you try to address her by any other name, she simply will not acknowledge you. And if I happen to forget that I am Joe, well, let’s just say I get a pretty agitated cat on my hands.
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
2. My child often speaks in antiquated English.

This cannot be blamed on one particular book, but rather to the steady diet of vintage books I have read to her since she was old enough to sit still and listen to a story. If I had been reading Shakespeare to her for the past 4 years (I haven’t, by the way), she’d be saying things like “hark”, “alas”, and “good morrow.” Thankfully, phrases like “I’d be delighted!” jump out of her mouth when I ask her if she’d like to feed the cat. She describes herself as “angry and cross” when she’s not getting her way, and very often uses the word “awfully” to describe her adjectives. (as in “That shirt is awfully blue, mommy!”)

3. She thinks ZZZs appear above her head when she closes her eyes and pretends to sleep. 

No matter how many times I tell her that those ZZZs only appear above sleeping people in books or in cartoons, she still insists that I look at her ZZZs while she lays on her bed with her eyes closed. Then she  opens her eyes, looks around for the ZZZs and is visibly disappointed to not see them.
The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2)
4. She yells “Run for your lives!” whenever we walk through the grocery store parking lot. 

My husband loved the Frog and Toad books when he was a kid and has passed on his love of them to Juliet. She’s picked up several phrases from Toad and one of them is this. Anytime a car is coming towards us, she screams, “Run for your lives!” at the top of her lungs. I grab her hand and we run as fast as we can into the store. What else can I do?
Mary Lefetea Russell Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater 16x20
5. She thinks wives are supposed to live inside pumpkins.

This one came to surface this fall when Ben and Juliet were deseeding a pumpkin. After they had cleaned it out, she said to him, “Okay. I’m just going to put my wife inside here for a little bit.” It turns out she’s not exactly clear on what a wife is. I would be worried that she would be trying to put me in it when she finally figures it out, but remember, I’m Fireman Joe. So, I’m safe.

6. She narrates her own actions. 

Sometimes I hear her say things like, “And she dashed into the room!” as she runs into her bedroom. She’s a character in her own story! It always makes me smile.

7. She also narrates conversations her toys have with each other. 

Instead of just making them talk, she will add, “she said” after they say something. Writing a story will be a cinch when she finally starts school! She’s been writing her own stories in her head since she started playing with toys.
Melissa & Doug Rainbow 6 Color Stamp Pad
8. She stamps her hands and feet every time she gets a hold of an inkpad and stamper.

Thanks to Bear, Your Manners Are Showing by Kathleen A. Meyer, a story in which a mama bear teaches her baby bear the importance of manners by stamping the words “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “I’m sorry” on his paws,  inkpads are no longer safe. Without fail, every time we get the inkpad down for a project, she immediately rips off her socks and begins furiously stamping “her manners” on her feet and hands. It doesn’t seem to bother her that “her manners” are not actual words, but images of ducks, cows, and Tinkerbell, she still insists that they NEED to be there.

9. Her imagination is always on.

As well as always having to remember I am Joe (or Princess Jasmine depending on day), I often have to do a little thinking to figure out what she is talking about. A few months ago, I asked her where a certain toy was and she answered, “Oh. It’s downstairs in a hollow tree.” Turns out it was in a basket that was serving as a hollow tree, but somehow I wasn’t aware of that. Good thing I wasn’t looking for my keys.
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
10. Our cat is not allowed to play with her own cat toys.

Thanks to the magic of Leo Lionni’s Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, kitty’s two large furry mice toys are now sleeping in Juliet’s bed every night. Why, you ask? Because they are Alexander and Willy–the two lovable mice from the story.

I think I could probably go on and on with this list, but let’s stop there. What about your kids? How have story books influenced their lives?

Linking to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda!

christmas for the birds

squirrel food
We love slapping peanut butter and birdseed onto just about anything and turning it into a bird-feeder–we’ve used pine cones, pom juice bottles, cardboard, and toast.

But we’ve never used bottle caps…
caps galore
Until now.

You know I am a habitual bottle cap collector. So it should come as no surprise that I have been storing away these play-doh caps over the past two years…I knew they would come in handy one day.
hangers
I prepped for this activity by hot gluing string to the backs of the caps to make the hangers. It took about 5 minutes to cut the string and then glue them on. Nothing fancy here.
the set up
I set up the craft table and Juliet was THRILLED with the prospect of rolling caps around in the birdseed. (She would have been thrilled with just scooping her hands through the birdseed and flinging it about the kitchen…)
peanut butter
We made Henry Ford proud by setting up an assembly line and getting down to business. I spread the peanut butter on the caps.
seeds!
Juliet did the dipping.
waiting to go
She laid them on the tray–ready for the birds.
hanging them up
We took them outside and hung them on our mini-Christmas tree.
tada
I love how they look like christmas ornaments! We spent the rest of the day peeking out the kitchen window to see if the birds loved our ornaments as much as we did.

But they never seemed to be there when we looked outside.

The next day, I noticed that about half the ornaments were gone. I thought maybe the wind had knocked them down, however, a few hours later, I noticed more were missing.

The next time I looked outside, only one ornament was left. “What is going on with these ornaments?” I wondered to myself.

Then I saw him.

THE SQUIRREL.

He looked at me straight in the eye and that’s when I knew.

Our ornaments were not bird-feeders. They were squirrel snacks. It seems that they made the perfect little plates for our furry friend!

I found the discarded and de-seeded plates strewn about our yard. So much for our dream of seeing birds perching on the branches and enjoying our treats–but at least the squirrel enjoyed them!

Linking to these parties

unique way to preserve kids’ artwork

usa

I shared how we made some state-inspired Christmas tree ornaments a few days ago. Today I wanted to share my inspiration with you!

Design Mom wrote about a shop called The Curiosity Shop a few months ago and I fell in love with this little beauty….

It’s cut from a paint-by-numbers canvas and I thought it was beautiful. I’ve been thinking of how I could recreate it and this is what I came up with! I think that once Juliet starts painting landscape scenes, I’ll mod podge one of those onto some cardboard and cut another few. A series of these would be beautiful–and I’d have an nice record of her art over the years in a fun format.

cat map

Here it is next to the kitty so you can see how big it is in real life…

I’ve toyed with the idea of making a few of these as gifts for grandparents–just trying to think of the perfects shape for them.

What shape would you do?

i made this

I mentioned this book the other day Puzzle Maps USA by Nancy L. Clouse. Every time we read this page, Juliet says, “I made that!”

Linking to these parties

handmade christmas ornaments: celebrate your state!

texas girl
Don’t mess with this ornament.

I love making Christmas ornaments–it might be my favorite crafting activity to do. You might remember the 12 days of Christmas ornament project Juliet and I did last year. We crafted most of them out of items from our recycle box.

Like last year’s, these ones are cheap, easy, and as always, born from recycle box materials.

We have a fondness for geography around this house and Juliet is particularly interested in learning the names of different states, so I thought we could make some state-shaped ornaments.

Here’s how we did it.

mod podgin' it
I found a piece of cardboard in our recycle box and let Juliet mod podge a piece of her art to it. (What would we do without Mod Podge?) I also worked on a piece.
waiting to dry
This project is a great way to use up all the random artwork you have posted on your fridge…
You don’t have to be too concerned with getting the painting smoothly adhered onto the cardboard–a little bit of wrinkles add to the overall effect once it dries.
trace it
Once it dries, just place your state template on top and secure it with some painter’s tape. I traced the outline of Texas from a placemat we have, but any atlas or poster would work just as well.
a hole the size of texas
Using my X-acto knife, I carefully cut it out. (This is the part for mom or dad.) If you find piece of cardboard thin enough, this is not too difficult. We experimented with several kinds and I will tell you, if it’s too thick, then you will be really tired of cutting at the end!)
texas ornament
I punched a hole through the top and Juliet attached an ornament hanger (found at the dollar store.)
don't mess with texas
And then we hung it on our tree.
these united states

Why stop at Texas? We cut out a whole bunch of different states. Juliet requested Alaska (her favorite), I chose California and Louisiana (because they have nice shapes), and we did a few squarish ones (NM and MT) just to see how they would turn out.
I will say that some states’ shapes look better than others for this project….the square states aren’t that interesting or easily identifiable as states on their own (You’ll get a lot of “What a nice square you have hanging on your tree…That’s not a square, that’s Wyoming…” sort of moments. )

You know how Texans are always talking about how everything is bigger and better in Texas? I’ve never been there, so I don’t really know if that is true, but when it comes to which state has the most interesting shape…well, I have to give it to them. Texas really is the best-looking one.

Of course, there is no need to limit this project to US states–any geographical shape will do or any shape in general! We made Africa…

africa

And Australia.
australia

Any shape you can stand to cut out with an Xacto knife would work–I think an owl or giraffe would be cute.
Good Night Hawaii (Good Night Our World series)
You know I love the Good Night Our World Book Series which features many U.S. states and cities in a child-friendly manner. But I just found a really wonderful book called Puzzle Maps U.S.A. by Nancy L. Clouse.
Puzzle Maps U. S. A. (An Owlet Book)
It focuses on the different shapes and then uses them to make different objects like a truck and a turtle. (Kentucky is the head, Oklahoma is the tail, etc…) Then it asks kids to identify the shapes by their names! It’s a lot of fun–which is always the best way to learn anything.

What shape would you make? I’d love to see pictures if you end up making these–upload them to our flickr group or leave a link below!

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christmas cards from kids

DSC09104
Every month, Juliet and I try to sit down and write to our sponsored kids. Since it’s December, we went with the Christmas theme.
Put Me in the Zoo (I can read it all by myself' Beginner Books)
My original idea was to replicate the Put Me in the Zoo socks (sorry, I don’t have a picture of it). It’s always looked like a Christmas stocking to me. But it didn’t turn out as cute as in the book. (Here’s what we SHOULD have done, but I wasn’t clever enough to think of it.)
DSC09108
So we went with plan B: thumbprint Christmas trees. Which turned out a lot better. Mine were just average, but Juliet’s…
DSC09110
evolved from simple dots to handprints, to beautiful smudges that somehow managed to still look like a tree! I love how creatively hers turned out.
DSC09102
Here’s a page from Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice. I love creative ornaments–these bowls look lovely hanging from the tree.

Did you make Christmas cards with your child this year? What did you do?

linking up to Impress Your Sponsored Kids

kids thanksgiving craft: paddle turkey

This little guy was easy and fun to make. I keep referring to my “best thanksgiving crafts for kids” list that I made last Thanksgiving. It was essentially a list of crafts I wanted to do, but didn’t get around to last year. So far this year, we have tackled a few projects like the thumbprint turkeys.
DSC08668
the ingredients

I found this paddle about 2 days after thanksgiving and have kept it in my craft box all year for just this project! We finally busted it out the other day and made our turkey. I cut out the feathers and features and let Juliet arrange them.

However, as is usually the case, she grew tired of this project after glueing one feather on. So I finished it. Then she asked if we could glue sequins onto it–why not? I gave her the glue and she happily glued a few down until the dried glue on her fingers was more interesting than the actual craft.

So, to finish, I placed the glue dots and she then put a sequin on top.

DSC08672

At first I put him on the cabinet, but thought he needed a more stable location…

DSC08704

So I moved him up here–which was really hard to get a picture of. But I’m glad I did, because a few days later, he jumped off the ledge and lost a few feathers in the process. Nothing a little hot glue can’t fix.

Cranberry Thanksgiving
While not about turkeys in particular, this is the one new Thanksgiving book that we got this year. Cranberry Thanksgiving by Harry Devlin
Over the River and Through the Wood
We are also enjoying Over the River and Through the Wood which we got last year–a song book is always nice!
Over the River: A Turkey's Tale
Over the River: A Turkey’s Tale
Which leads me to this book which I have not read, but actually goes with the turkey craft that we did together. I will be looking for this one next year! Has anyone read it? What do you think? Worth checking out?

Linking to pink hippo party and these parties

handmade turkey hairbow

the turkeys

So, I have a thing with hairbows…

You might remember that I made some easter bunny hair ties for Juliet earlier this year and then these fourth of July ones this summer. Well, even though I have a million other things I should be doing in my spare hour while the newborn naps, I still somehow found the need to make these turkeys the other day.
(It was Sunday, Ben was watching football, what else was I supposed to do?!)

Here’s how you make them (if you are interested). They are a little more involved than the bunny ones, but all you need is some buttons, ribbon, craft foam, googly eyes, and a hot glue gun. Oh. and don’t forget the hair clips.
DSC08555
Start by gluing the buttons like this to make the body and the head.
DSC08557
Next, make the feathers. Fold a piece of ribbon in half and then fold the edges into a point and secure with hot glue. I used a toothpick to hold the ribbon down while the glue dried.
DSC08556
Make as many feathers as you need to fill in the space on your button. I think the amount depends on the size of your buttons. I used 5 for the blue turkey and 7 for the pink.
DSC08558
Glue the feathers to the back of the button to form the tail.
DSC08559
It will look something like this…
DSC08566
I used a small piece of ribbon to finish off the edges and keep them from falling off.
pink turkey hair clip
I finished by gluing on the eyes, beak, wattle, and feet! (I used craft foam for the beak, wattle, and feet–but I think felt would probably work as well.)
blue turkey hair clip
He’s ready to go for turkey day!

Linking to: Get Your Craft OnGetting Crafty on Hump DayShow and TellSaturday Mornings Strut Your Stuff, and these parties