Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas (and Our Card!)

We're on the road to Missouri now, so I won't be blogging on Christmas. I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As per tradition, I also wanted to share our fun Christmas card. We didn't get a great family photo this year, so we decided to be a little untraditional... but I'm loving how it turned out (and so are the recipients!)

To see our old cards, check out here for 2015's and here for 2014's!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mess Free Baby / Toddler Painting Sensory Play

Okay, so this isn't exactly the most original or most creative tutorial ever, but we have enjoyed it, and if someone else can benefit from this mess-free baby/toddler painting, then I want to share!

Annabelle has painted twice so far - once way back in July for her Grammy's birthday and then again in November for her Great Meme's birthday! She loved it both times, and so did the recipients! I mean... what more can you ask for than original masterpieces from the cutest little baby you adore, right?! And I loved it because I didn't have much prep or clean-up, and I got to watch my smiley little girl have fun doing something creative that isn't the same old / same old!

This idea is super easy, but I'll break it down for you because I definitely know how busy moms are, and the more things are spelled out, the easier they are.

• high chair
• gallon size zip-top bag
• paint (any kind, but we use acrylic) in however many different colors you want
• cardstock (any weight - we use 110 lb because it's what we have on hand)
• tape (if you want)
• a baby or toddler :) 

1. Prep cardstock by trimming about an inch off of one side so it fits inside the zip-top bag.

2. Squirt small dots of various colors of paint onto the cardstock. Make sure to spread the paint dots out evenly over the entire sheet of cardstock if you want the entire piece to be covered in the end.

3. Secure the paint by closing the top of the zip-top bag.

4. Tape the bag down to the high chair tray IF YOU WANT. I would recommend this if your kid is a wild child... but mine is too (she loves waving things around and throwing them), but I choose to let her play with the bag since it's sealed shut - but for an even easier experience (especially if you want pictures), you can tape it down - easy peasy lemon squeezy! 

5. Place your child in the high chair, grab your camera, and let him/her have a blast! :) 

6. You CAN pull the cardstock out of the bag if you want to frame the original... but I recommend cutting the zip-top bag down so the cardstock doesn't rip (since it's wet with paint!) when pulling it out. If you wait for it to dry, it will be nearly impossible to get out because the plastic will stick to the paper. What I have done, however, if take pictures of her painting and then a good, close-up photo of the painting itself, and then have three pictures printed - two of her painting and then the actual painting photo - and then put those in one of those multiple opening frames (I have used 4x6 frames from Walmart both times, but you could do any size). 

Most of all, just have fun! It's a great sensory play activity as well because it'll most likely be a new (or not often felt) texture for your child. Sensory play is important for many reasons:

- it stimulates the five senses
- it facilitates exploration and discovery
- it helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively

What more can you ask for? A fun time AND a little bit of education thrown in! Guys... I think this is what teachers who become stay-at-home-moms do. Educational activities all the time. At least I try to keep it fun! 

  • Have you ever painted with your kiddo?
  • What are some of your favorite sensory activities to do with your child?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DIY Felt Christmas Tree for Toddlers

The cold weather has officially hit North Texas, and I was unprepared. Everyone said, "the winters aren't bad here" and "it doesn't get cold here"... well, coming from someone who has always lived in climates that get cold and LOVES it... it's cold. Not every day - it's strange. But the cold days are SO COLD - I'm talking a "feels like" temperature of 12 degrees one morning last week. Not exactly what I expected in Texas, but this is our first winter here, so we're still learning.

Being that I didn't expect it, I was completely unprepared with winter clothes for Annabelle. When I couldn't get out to get any, I decided she needed a way to play inside. She's a busy-body of a 15 month old, so I had to get creative. I have seen various versions of this felt Christmas tree floating around, and I decided to put my own twist on it. Instead of felt ornaments, I would use photos of relatives as ornaments. This way, Annabelle can see them every day to remember them all by since they all live so far away. I even included her three deceased grandparents because we definitely want her to know who they are.

This project was kind of time consuming, but it was easy and dirt cheap... if you have the right supplies! 

I was able to get to Walmart for some green felt one day. I bought only one yard, and I paid less than $3 - what a steal! 

I gathered a photo of each relative (including Annabelle herself - she loves photos of herself!) and used a free app on my phone to make them into circles... and then I opened the circles on Microsoft Word and printed them on our home color printer on 67 lb. cardstock. I cut out each circle, used our laminator to make each piece "toddler-prood" (aka sturdy enough she can't rip them and plastic covered so they don't get destroyed when she inevitably puts them in her mouth)! Then, I cut them again.

I used velcro dots on the back (thanks, Amazon Prime - I didn't even have to leave the house again!) - I put two on each ornament (the dots have sticky backs, so it was very quick and easy), and they stick to and pull off of the felt Christmas tree easily.

For the tree, I folded the felt in half and used a Sharpie to draw half of a tree. Then, I cut on the fold to get an even, (kind of) pretty tree. Dan used some double-sided tape to adhere the tree to our wall, and we let Annabelle loose to play with it. 

SHE LOVES IT. She has had this for a couple weeks now, and she plays with it every single day.

Even when she's not rearranging the ornaments, she is carrying around familiar faces. It's an easy way to repeat the names of the people over and over in hopes that she'll be able to identify them herself soon. 

I'm so glad we decided to make this. It keeps our spunky, high-energy toddler busy for at least a few minutes at a time. The total cost for us was less than $5 because we already had a lot of the supplies on hand. If you have to send your photos to an office supply store to be printed and laminated, that'll set you back another $10 or so... but it's still worthwhile. 

Oh, and did I mention we included our pets as well? Her favorite ornaments are of Smudge, Gilligan, and Stormy - of course. They're her best friends, after all. 

What activities do you do inside with your toddler(s) to stay busy when it's cold outside? 

Monday, December 12, 2016

15 Month Update - Annabelle

I can't even believe it, but it's time (actually, past time - by a whole week!) for Annabelle's quarterly update... and she's 15 months old now! She has changed so much and done so much in the short three months since her last update at 12 months old!

First things first, let's look at her stats! She grew 2.5 inches in less than a month right after her birthday, and she is holding steady at 31.5 inches now... which should put her in 18-24 month size clothes... but wait! Her weight is only 21 pounds... putting her in 9-12 month clothes. Yep, shopping for her lately is proving to be more difficult than in the past.

She has ten teeth (four more than at her birthday), including two bottom molars. We're still waiting on the top ones, though. She still loves ducks, books, baths, all things water, eating, being a crazy little girl, and having things HER way or a tantrum! Ha! She is fiercely independent and VERY stubborn (she never stood a chance with Dan and I as her parents). Just the same, however, she is sassy and silly and oh-so goofy! We adore this bright little ray of sunshine in our lives and are having the best time watching her grow into her BIG personality!

Since her birthday, Annabelle has traveled to:

Dallas, TX - to see her daddy while he was on a quick TDY (and we took her to the zoo for the very first time!)

Kansas City, MO - because Mom was a bridesmaid in a wedding (Megan & Grant), so Annabelle had a couple sleepovers with her Grammy and Great Meme!

St. Louis, MO - to see her "Aunt" Michelle and Baby Huxley... she went to her second zoo!

Tulsa, OK - to attend a wedding (Ben & Ashley)... we also went to an incredible park and to her third zoo, where we met up with her Great Aunt Sue, who drove in from Joplin

Annabelle celebrated her second Halloween (as Rosie the Riveter), went to her first pumpkin patch, and hosted some of her family for Thanksgiving dinner!

I can't wait to see all the ways Annabelle grows, develops, and changes between now and her next update! 18 months... coming in March! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 - I'm Just Here for the Pie

As per usual, I am a day (or two weeks?) late and a dollar short around here... oops! It's so tough to keep up on a real-time schedule with a crazy toddler, but I am sure trying. I want to document all of this precious time so Annabelle can have these memories in a book some day.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at the end of November along with the rest of the country. It was a great day. My family drove down from Missouri, and Dan and I cooked an amazing dinner for all of us. I LOVE Thanksgiving, guys. It's my favorite day of the year. All the food. Football. Family. Friends. The whole thing... it's just the best.

Annabelle's shirt is my favorite... so glad I found it on Etsy in time. "I'm Just Here for the Pie" - just about explains our girl! She is a piglet. She eats EVERYTHING. In fact, she ate three full Thanksgiving meals - the real one and then leftovers. Her entire high chair tray was FULL of all of our glorious food, and she AT IT ALL. Every time. She gained a whole pound that week - no joke!

As always, we took a four generations photo... little miss wouldn't smile for the camera, so this is the best shot we got this time. I still love it. I'm so glad we have several of these pictures. I will probably make them all into a big collage someday. 

And then we tried to get a family photo... welp. Does she even like us?! She looks miserable to be taking a picture with her mom and dad! 

Wasn't she SOOOO tiny and adorable as a little turkey last year? She was only two months old then, and it's the day she rolled over for the very first time. We were all SO excited... and she hasn't stopped moving ever since then! 

Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving as well? Do you love it as much as I do?