Sunday, February 23, 2014

Project: Busy Bag Swap

If you've read any of my posts, then you how how much I love Pinterest and all around DIY.  I have been seeing Busy Bag Ideas for toddlers for quite some time, and although I make loads of stuff for the kids to do, and we do many activities, I loved the idea of having special things that only get pulled out when I need them sitting for a little bit so I can accomplish the important task of making dinner.  My husband has been having more late meetings (the joys of living on the East Coast and working with loads of folks on the West Coast and across the dateline), which means lots of dinners are things I can either throw in a crock pot or throw in a baking dish and into the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off.  Sometimes, though, I need to be at the stove, and it would be significantly easier without little ones at my feet!

Another reason this happened recently was that I had run into a friend from elementary school (I live in my hometown) back in October when I was working a craft fair.  She had a little girl just younger than my boys and just older than my daughter and had recently moved back into the area.  Of course, the logical thing to do was to add her to my Facebook, and I was so happy I did! Not only did I get to reconnect with her through that and share mommy moments, but she had remained in contact with many of my other elementary school friends, and before I knew it, I had reconnected with most of my Girl Scout Troop from elementary school.

Recently, there had been a death of one of my college professors, and although it was over a sad note, I was also able to reconnect with my classmates at college.  Lo an behold, everyone has kids the same ageish as mine!  With January typically being slow for me after the holiday season I decided to organize what I had always wanted to, A Busy Bag Swap!

I got the idea from Life Lesson Plans who posted about swaps from Coffee Cups and Crayons.  I began by posting a blurb right on Facebook as my status, with an explanation of what a busy bag swap was, and asked my friends who wanted in.  From the friends that posted they were interested, I then created an Event on Facebook giving us about five weeks to work on it and pull it together.  I sent out invitations through the Facebook Event with further details and this is exactly (minus some names and location stuff) what I put in there:

Ok, ladies! I am putting you on this event to schedule our Busy Bag Swap! I picked this date because it gives us each about a month to get our bags together, and it's conveniently just before Valentines Day, so we can give the bags to our tots for the holiday!

This is what we do: I have three kids. I would like a bag for each of my kids, so I will make three different busy bags. We each need to say how many kids we want bags for - Like C. - if you would like a set for each of your boys, you make two different bags (Like I am making three). If C. and I were the only two in this, we would make a total of five bags (Hey, I want my kiddos to have the super cool things I am going to make for your kiddos, too!)

We will store them in those Ziplock Bags with the zipper - those seem to be easier for the kiddos to open and close on their own.

First step: Say how many kids you need bags for!
Second step: Announce what kinds of bags you plan on making so we don't have any duplicates.
Third step: Make up your bags.
Fourth step: We'll pick a place to meet up one evening to meet each other, swap kiddo stories, and have mom time without little ones and husbands. We range from City 1 and City 2, through City 3 and up to City 4, so we will compromise on a meeting place, and I am sure folks would be willing to carpool.

Here we go:
I need bags for each of my three kids.
I will be making the following bags:
A Play Doh Bag
A Fishing Game Bag
A Button Snake Game Bag

Your turn! This will be awesome!

Most everyone responded, but to be sure, I picked a day that "registration" was to close, and published the final list of mom's participating in the Event along with the final kiddo number count, too.  I didn't want to exclude any of my friends, but we needed a final count within a reasonable amount of time to finish these!

For my Play Doh bag, I grabbed the printables from Planet of the Apels. I picked the ones I liked and printed a set for each bag on glossy photo paper from the Dollar Tree.  From the Dollar Tree, I also snagged these adorable plastic containers with lids that were 4/$1. (they don't have them online so I cannot add the link).  I had planned on making play doh, but we had enough of it unopened in my house, that I just broke it up and put it in the smaller containers for the bags.

For my Fishing Game bag, I made up a fish template, and cut out a bunch of felt fish.  Since I work a lot with felt, I had plenty of this to spare.  I then sewed a washer on a ribbon between two layers of felt at the mouth, and just repeated that a bunch of time to have schools of colorful fish.  For the rods, I took dowels and wrapped a ribbon around them.  I also drilled holes in magnets, and strung the ribbon through the magnet.  

Hot glue is my friend.

For my button snake bag, I picked up some nice grosgrain ribbon, threaded it through some big primary colored buttons, and stitched the ends closed on my machine.  Then, I cut out hearts, squares and circles from primary colored felt, and cut lines in the middle so the kids could button them.  Lastly, I had made up in Microsoft Word some pattern templates, and printed those so the older kids could try to match the patterns.

I didn't take loads of pictures, because I didn't think this would turn into a post.  When we did meet up, I came home with some seriously awesome Busy Bags.  I wrapped them all up, and did give them to the kiddos for Valentine's Day.  They were very excited about their new games, and eager to learn how to do all of them. They are not part of the kids toys, and are now only taken out when I need them sitting at the table while I cook, but this was a wonderful experience!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Project: Slime

Yesterday seemed like a good day to check out my Pinterest Board where I hoard all kinds of activities for my kiddos to do. 

From that, I took one of the boys on a hunt around the house for supplies and we found that we had everything we needed to make Slime as featured in A Pumpkin and a Princess

Although we had glow in the dark paint on hand, I decided not to put it in the recipe since we weren't going to be playing with this with the UV Light (Also known as the "Magic Lamp" in our house).

Here are our fun photos of us following A Pumpkin and a Princess's directions:

After lunch I broke it up into three blobs (since it had oozed back together) and gave each of the kiddos their own to play with.

My daughter was not impressed when I stuck both her hands in. Mini meltdown happened. (Gosh, mom! Don't make me to messy things!)

She was alright after I took her hands out, cleaned her off, and showed her she could just poke it.

My boys jumped right in.  One got a little antsy when it was sticking to him, but he was ok when I showed him he could clean it off by using more.

My daughter lost interest quickly, and went off to play with her kitchen set.  The boys totally hung out with their slime for another hour and fifteen minutes or so.  They did really well keeping it on the table, off the floor and out of their clothing.  Of course, I managed to stick my sweatshirt clad elbow directly into a pile.  Thankfully, atypicalmomof2 had me covered.  Check her out to see how to remove this stuff with vinegar! So easy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spaces: Sharing My Creative Space

This has been a post I have been very excited to share with you! Although, like always, it has taken me a while to sit down and have time to type it all out for you.  Our house has been overrun with an absolutely ridiculous cold that just won't go away.  It's been about a month, and all the kids still have it lingering while it's just about left me, and is just starting with my husband.  I've also recently taken TV out of our daily routine, and have had an absolutely exhausting week scheduling in more activities and things to occupy the kids with.

Also, check out my teammate's blog at Lila Creates.  Her first post of her creative space inspired me to write this up.  Drop her a line to let her know you visited from here.

My Father In Law (FIL) has built a beautiful garage on his property with two big bays; one for working, and one for storing.  His working bay has big, awesome, jaw-dropping pegboard on three of the four walls.  We had recently visited so my husband and FIL could work on one of our cars, and when I snuck (sneaked? I like snuck) away from the kids to take a look, I was immediately envious of the pegboard, and desperately wanted some for my craft room/our office/my creative space/studio (you know, the little room that takes on SO many functions since the rest of the house is overrun by three kids and a dog).  Luckily, my FIL keeps every piece of scrap, and my husband came home with some extra pieces to paint, and scrap wood for the frame.

Here's an awesome picture of the space all put together in daylight:

Go ahead, Pin it. I know you want to!

 Here is a picture for you with details on all the bits and pieces you see there:

And now it's time for some of the other features around this room.

There! Now you can see where I work!  I love my pegboard! I love my yarn bins.  I love this space.

And now one of the kiddos is up from nap, so I need to go make up some lunch.

Happy crafting!