20 July 2012

Craft Projects and DIY Cleaner

The past few weeks have gone by too fast. It feels like it was just last week that I wrote an entry. Apparently it's been over two weeks!

In the past few weeks we've done some crafty things, made some not-so-crafty (and crafty) purchases, and I tried a new homemade cleaning trick last night. And, because I'm a geek, I'm going to continue to make my posts with subject headers.

Crafty Purchases
In preparation for some of the things that I've found and want to try, for both arts activities and for cleaning, I bought some pipettes, some squeeze bottles, and some spray bottles. I also got a craft/art tray that came with paper, which I'm hoping will be good for some more messy/sensory play.

Other Purchases
I got some "busy bag" activities for sometimes play for the Peanut. He got:
Lauri Toys Toddler Tote
Lauri Toys Primer Pack
Train Colorforms

The Train Colorforms and the Toddler Tote are big hits right now. I haven't given him the Primer Pack to play with yet, because I'm stockpiling it for a rainy day.

Projects!
We've done the Baking Soda/food coloring/vinegar activity a few times now. It's been a big hit, and stupidly cheap. The first time, I didn't have the pipettes, and only had a medicine dropper, so instead of coloring the vinegar, I dropped some food coloring directly onto the baking soda. The second time, I colored the vinegar as we had the pipettes, and that was a far more interesting result.

Another hit was paint in a ziploc bag. This bag lasted for close to a week, with almost daily entertainment value (for me as well as the kiddo, it was a bit like a stress ball!) It probably would have lasted longer with some tempura paint or something commercially made. I used homemade paint (flour, water, salt, and food coloring), so it began to separate - a process that I think was faster because of the heat and humidity we had last week.

Green Cleaning
Last night I tried a new tub cleaner. 1 part vinegar, heated ~90 seconds, mixed with 1 part Dawn (or other similar soap), poured into a spray bottle and mixed. Spray in tub/shower, let set for 1-2 hours, wipe clean and rinse. I also sprayed it on the shower walls.
Results: The mixture DID clean my tub, but I prefer the Martha Stewart tub scrub. It smells better, and I feel like overall, it was less work to clean off. It is, however, easier to apply to the walls, as the tub scrub is more of a paste. I might use this again, but only infrequently and probably just on the shower walls.

Social
Tomorrow morning, we have a playdate. I hope that the Saturday morning time winds up working well for some of the other moms in the meetup group I'm in, because it's the easiest/best time for me to do playdates, since my husband is working, and the Peanut is a morning person who wants to put his shoes on and get out the door as early as 7am some days.

Birthday
My son's birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I cannot believe I have an almost 2 year old. We have done the shopping for presents, I just have to find a time to wrap them when curious little eyes aren't awake and alert! Right now, he ADORES Elly from Pocoyo, so he's getting a stuffed Elly. Along with that, he's getting a few little things, a set of colorforms that's a "design a face" sort, and probably a Zoo Talker for his zoo (haven't managed to check Target for one yet).

We'll probably be reusing the banner from last year, since it took me so darned long to make...hopefully I can do a better job hanging it this time. And probably some cupcakes designed like fish.

05 July 2012

Since February...

One of these days, I'll actually be good about maintaining a space to put thoughts down into. I always tell myself you need to write more regularly, and then I never do it. I think, like everything else, I may need to start adding a calendar reminder and just blogging about whatever is in my mind on that day.

Needless to say, with a toddler in the house, a lot has happened since my last update in February.

The Kidlet
My son has started talking in short sentences, and has started showing a lot of preferences for things like colors, books, and activities. It is FANTASTIC to be able to hold short conversations with him, to watch him develop into his own little person with preferences, and to be able to meet his needs and wants because he can communicate them well.

I cannot believe that he is turning two in just a few short weeks. Time is going by way too fast! The Peanut picked out his own evite design (Yo Gabba Gabba of course), and we're probably going with some sort of "sea" theme, though since he doesn't really have a lot of kids coming to his parties at this point, the "theme" will probably mostly consist of the fact that the cupcakes will be designed like fish, maybe I'll try to revamp the birthday banner so that the letters look like fish as well.

His current favorites:
Color: Orange
Foods: Grapes, Mac & Cheese, Banana Bread, Ice Cream
Books: "I Wish that I had Duck Feet", "Daddy Adventure Day", "Giraffes Can't Dance", and "The Belly Button Book"
TV: Peppa Pig, Pocoyo, Fresh Beat Band, Yo Gabba Gabba, and The Ellen Degeneres Show
Toys: Matchbox Cars, Train Colorforms
Activities: Coloring with markers, painting (homemade watercolors!), dancing to the iPod, and playing the keyboard

We're still working on climbing up and down stairs. The downfall to living in an apartment is that we don't really have any good stairs for practicing on.

Crafts and Miscellaneous Pinterest Inspirations
The quiet book is still coming along slowly. I've finished 5 pages, and am almost done with a 6th page. I'm hoping to find some time during my vacation at the end of the month to finish this for my son's second birthday. He's already discovered some of the finished pages and has been entertained by them, so I'm hopeful that this will be a hit!

Colored Noodles Busy Bag: I followed the instructions on this pin not too long ago to dye some shell macaroni 6 different colors. I recommend not using shells (use something that doesn't curl in on itself - the rigatoni like in the picture is a good idea). Also note: Once they are dyed, spread them out on something to let them air dry. I made the mistake of letting them dry in the bags, which caused some of them to stick to one another pretty badly, resulting in breaking some that had to be chucked. My son actually specifically asks to play with these every other day or so. I paired them with 6 cleaned out yogurt cups so that he can pour them back and forth, and eventually sort them.

Moon Sand: Moon sand, cloud dough, whatever you want to call it; this is awesome and stupidly cheap and easy to make. The recipe calls for baby oil, but I used vegetable oil, as I didn't know if my son was going to try to eat it, and didn't really want him ingesting the baby oil if he did. It feels and acts pretty much like fine beach sand, and is fairly easy to clean up.

Homemade Tub Scrub: This is from Martha Stewart's Website, and now that I have tried it, I swear by it. I use eucalyptus oil, and find that this mix is easier to spread than the commercial tub cleaner that we used to get, gets the tub CLEANER with less effort (maybe because it's easier to spread?), AND is cheaper. WIN-WIN!
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap 
  • several drops of an antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint)
  • one cup of baking soda
  • Add just enough water to form a paste
  • Use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces
On my to try soon list:
  • Discovery Bottles - pretty much waiting on my getting decent bottles to use for this.
  • Gel in Ziploc Bags - I've seen this done with paint too, so I'm not sure whether I'm going to use paint or some sort of hair gel/glitter/etc. combintation
  • Cookie Sheet Activities - looks quick and easy to do! Just need to get some magnetic letters?
  • Baking Soda and dyed vinegar - When I was mixing the baking soda and vinegar for our homemade water colors this weekend, my son was thrilled to see the fizzing, so we will be doing this as soon as I get my hands on a few droppers!
  • Busy Bags - Not sure which ones I'll be trying first here. I'd love to make the paint sampler matching, but need to find where I can get some paint sampler sheets. Once our parmesan cheese container is empty, it's definitely getting transformed into a q-tip or pipe cleaner catcher.

Being Social
I've been making an effort to be more social. With my schedule and my husband's schedule, it is actually a very hard task! I've found a few parenting groups in the area, one of which is geared towards Working Parents, so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to forge some connections there. I've already been to two of the meetups with this group, and they seem very nice!

Other
I have gotten bitten by the gaming bug again and have been playing Final Fantasy X-2 (yes, I'm a shameless FFVIII and FFX/FFX-2 lover, FFVII be damned). I've also discovered a free online MMORPG as of yesterday - Allods Online - that is VERY similar in playstyle to World of Warcraft, which I played for about 5 years (Husband got me hooked shortly after it first came out in 2004, and we quit when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy in 2009, because we weren't playing enough to justify $30/month for both accounts, we were getting bored of the daily grind with almost no new content. I was also tired of all the guild drama. I've considered going back into WoW, since I've invested so much into the characters there, but it's so incredibly "dumbed down" from when I started playing that it's mostly about end game and daily grind, and I don't really want to fork over $15/month when I don't have much time to game anyway.

08 February 2012

A Crazy Life

To say that the last few months have been insane would be an understatment.

In November, my boss got promoted, and asked me to come over to the new office to continue as his administrator. After much deliberation, I ultimately decided to make the move. My boss guaranteed no change in my hours; an important factor given the fact that my husband works nights and needs me home in time to switch off with our son. It also came with a pay increase and a change from hourly to salary (which means I also managed to get an extra week of vacation per year and accumulate sick hours faster now to boot).

The holidays were obviously hectic, between getting settled in a new job and getting ready for the holidays. I spent Saturday evenings and naptimes on Sundays crafting like mad in an effort to get my mother-in-law's calendar completed on time. It was done in time for the gathering, and she loved it - yay! I noticed a few flaws in my attempt to replicate the instructions I found on a craft blog (the biggest being that for some reason my paper punch that claims to make 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares makes 1" x 1" squares....what the hell?)

I tested out making bath bombs as well, but didn't get around to making them as gifts this year. However, this gives me time to practice making them (the scent in batch #1 wasn't as strong as I'd like).

I also did some work on my son's quiet book, though right now that it still maybe 1/3 done, with several of the pages in various phases of completion. Hoping to do some work on that this weekend, now that I've decided that I'll stitch the velcro on by hand. The biggest problem with the quiet book is that I have very little working space right now, so I have to spend about 5-10 minutes setting up my area when I start, and another 5-10 packing it all back up so everything is out of my son's reach. Hoping to get a craft cart and a shelf to put on the wall above my working table soon.

My son is now walking, and climbing enough things to make me nervous about leaving him out of sight for longer than 5 seconds. We need to get him a twin bed for his room soon; as I'm hoping to start having him do naps in there. And, he's mostly out of the highchair and using a booster seat at the table. The highchair remains on hand for Saturdays when we eat in the livingroom, and for messy projects like painting.

When did my baby turn into a toddler???

Now that things have quelled down a bit at work, hoping to post more again. Last night, due to seeing some posts going around Facebook about spanking research that shows that it may lower IQ, I was actually reflecting on my upbringing (we were spanked, and sometimes got our hands snapped in a belt), and why, although I would say that "I turned out OK" and why, although I consider myself a decent human being who ultimately doesn't feel she was harmed by being spanked, I have no intentions to ever spank or use forms of "corporeal punishment" on my child(ren). To be continued...