Building a bird house

Eve got a bird house kit for her birthday last year (or maybe the year before?) and has been patiently waiting for a day that Alan was around to help her build it. Well, a day he was around and she remembered that she had a bird house to build. :) Today was the big day. She was so excited. :)

Eve, busy at work... but she is missing something...

Eve, busy at work… but she is missing something…

That's better!  That's a nice looking bird house too.

That’s better! That’s a nice looking bird house too.

When she was done building it she came upstairs and painted it, telling me stories the whole time about how she is going to entice the birds to come live in her house. Free food, light (mini battery powered candle), warmth (blankets), and more. I don’t think she full understands how birds work, but she thoroughly enjoys the stories.

An Easter craft

Today we did an Easter craft from a Martha Stewart magazine from many years ago. I tore the page out and bought the supplies two or three years ago, but never got around to actually doing the project. Lately I’ve been feeling a touch sad because my kids play so well together (tough life, huh?) and rarely involve me in their activities anymore. They used to love to participate in anything I suggested, but these days they each have their own agendas and plans for the their free time. This afternoon while they were working on a new paper airline (Navy Air, to go along with the Navy boat they made yesterday… pics of that to come later) I decided to pull out the Easter project and see what happened. Luckily, for me, they were both intrigued and happily switched gears to do a project with me for a little while. I relished in it, before all too soon it was over and I had to cook dinner while they went back to their own projects.

Without further ado… Easter chicks!

finished chicks

Here’s how you do it, in case you want to make a few. They are quick and easy!

Start with two pieces of yellow felt pinned together. Then trace ovals. Martha Stewart had a downloadable template for this project, but my oval shaped measuring cups worked just as well. The original directions said to use disappearing markers or something, but we used an orange Crayola washable marker. I kind of like the orange outline visable.

step 1

Then, using a smaller measuring cup, trace another oval about 1/2″ inside the first one.

step 2

Cut the big sheet of felt into four, then recruit some helpers to stitch around the INNER circles. Eve chose to use white thread, Lex and I both used yellow. In the end it doesn’t really matter at all.

eve sewing

lex sewing

Sew around the oval, stopping about an inch before the end. Using a funnel, fill the pocket with beans or something. We used popcorn kernels and lentil beans. Anything that gives it a “beany bag” feel will do fine.

lex filling

both filling

Stitch up the hole to complete the oval. Using pinking shears, cut around the outer circle. Cutting around the outer oval with pinking shears gives your chick a fluffy sort of look. Lastly, decorate your chick. Lex chose to just draw on his with permanent marker. Eve and I drew eyes, but then used orange felt to make beaks, wings, and feet. Whatever makes you happy. Hot glue works well here. I suggested googly eyes, but they both strongly vetoed that idea.


Lastly, and probably the most important step, take pictures of your kids and their amazing Easter crafts! Enjoy.

An easy cuddly craft project

Have you seen those fancy pillow kits they sell at JoAnn Fabric? Probably other places as well. It includes pre-cut fleecy fabric and that’s about it. I loved the idea, but not the price, so I bought some festive fabric a few weeks ago and this afternoon we tied up some pillows!


Eve learned how to tie knots and got lots of practice!


Lex was busy working on a book, but once he saw how cool this project was he joined in our knot tying activities.

I didn’t take step-by-step photos, but the project is super easy! Start by measuring whatever pillow you have laying around. Then lay out two pieces of fleece and cut them to a square a bit bigger than the pillow. I had about 4″ extra inches all around. Then measure 4″ all the way around (mark it with chalk or something) and then cut fringe from the edge to the 4″ line. THEN, tie the top fringe to the bottom fringe in double knots. This is the most forgiving project ever. You can use 4″ or 3″ or 5″ or whatever. You can have evenly spaced fringe or let your five year old do the cutting and get all sorts of different widths. You can have perfectly sized squares to begin with, or just roughly the same size. Whatever! That’s the kind of project we like best around here!

proud lex

I love this boy!

When we were done I sent Eve off to take pictures while I started dinner.


Princess stickers on her pants.


This was one of a dozen or so she took. I’ll spare you all of them, especially the mouth open down the throat shot! Funny girl!


There are the pillows! We made three total total.


Happy cuddly kids!


Today’s craft project. Take one game of Scrabble (from freecycle!) and one sheet of magnet paper. Cut paper into small squares. Enlist two children to peel off the backing and stick magnets to Scrabble tiles. Put on fridge. Spell away!


Scrabble on the fridge. Fun for all!

Want to hear something sad? The kids have no memory of those letter magnets we used to have. Want to hear something happy? Watch the videos below! They are hysterical!

I found them here while I was searching the blog for a picture of the letter magnets to show the kids. I’ll show them the videos in the morning. I’m sure it will refresh their memories. Lex is about two and a half in these videos.

Tin can robots

While I spent the afternoon working on my resume and largely ignoring my children, they spent the afternoon working on tin can robots and largely ignoring me. A win-win situation (until the bedtime battle :/) Lex got the idea from a crafty magazine he has. I think it’s the last craft in the magazine he hasn’t done. He’s been asking for a few days if I would get out the hot glue gun, but I just see all sorts of ways that could go wrong so I’ve been putting him off. Today I remembered some glue dots I had in my craft supply, so I broke them out and fortunately they worked well!

hard at work

Little tinkerers, hard at work!


Lex’s creation, “Can Man” has a crane and a light on top, a “problem solving” mode, and if you look closely you can see eye brows over the nut eyes. Clever boy.


Eve built her robot and then decided it needed to be tucked away for safe keeping. I talked her in to letting me take a quick picture before she put another pint container on top and taped them up.

A few other pictures from the weekend…

haunted office

We did the “Haunted Office” Friday night with Rosy. The kids worked hard on it and we all had fun. Then we un-haunted it so Rosy could have an un-haunted bedroom for the weekend and snuggled in for a movie night.

note p1

This is the note I was curious about. When the bucket tipped the note fell out.

note p2

“Tricked You!” Funny boy.


Saturday morning Lex and I saw a beautiful sunrise! Unfortunately it disappeared quickly. Lex tried to get a picture but this is all he got before it was gone. We agreed to enjoy the memory of it. :)

eve snack

Snack time!

lex snack

They are always so proud of their snacks when they make them themselves. They are often so proud they want to take pictures!

lego alan

I asked Alan what we should do with the awesome Lego costume now that Halloween is over. He decided this would be a good idea. Hilarity ensued, of course.

Crayon Art

Lex got off the bus Thursday afternoon talking about a great project he saw some kids in school doing. Apparently they were spread out throughout the school, wherever they could find outlets, so Lex saw several throughout the hallways.

This is actually a project I’ve seen on Pinterest and other places around the web and thought it would be fun. I think it’s even more fun that Lex found the idea and ran with it.

After snack they both found cardboard and glued on some crayons. Then, while the glue dried, Eve swept the floor and Lex did his homework. Sweet! Then it was time for the hair dryer.

I learned pretty quickly that children cannot hold a hair dryer still and have a hard time conceptualizing the path hot air takes and its affect on dripping wax. Fun for all! :) I helped Lex and then Lex helped Eve.

Both projects came out really well. Lex was thrilled! He brought them both to school for show and tell on Friday. Now they’re taking up space on my counter. Fun for all ;)

Halloween Craft

Another idea from Pinterest, with our own spin, of course. A crafty afternoon that started with making a Halloween decoration and ended with getting out all of last year’s homemade decorations. Now we have a lovely decorated Halloween home.

decoration p1

My idea for a decoration was the white ghosty hands, like mine in the middle. The kids thought black with white crayon would be more scary. Eve’s handprints (just left of mine and far right) remind me of Badly Drawn Dog. :) Lex had the idea for the BOOs.

decoration p2

Lex decided the ghosts should be haunting a pumpkin patch. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but there is a row of orange pumpkins on the bottom part, courtesy of Lex.

Then some decorating… and out came the hat and teeth from years past (I’m gonna be lazy and not link to years past though because it’s late and I’m tired).

witch hat

She can stick her tongue out even with fake teeth in her mouth!

Oh, actually our afternoon also included getting out the winter gear and sorting through it to see what we need. It sounds early, I know, but it is getting chilly on those bike/walk to school mornings!

winter gear

Trying on the winter gear.

outdoor eve

Eve decided to pretend the leaves were snow and went out to “play in the snow!”


Lex wanted nothing to do with pretend snow, but he was happy to smile for me. That’s all I ever want. :)

Painting the big beautiful scenery

Every Monday after school we drive over to our local farm (one of many in this area!) and pick up our CSA share. Our farm happens to be situated high on a beautiful hill and has a great view (see here and here and here for more beautiful farm pictures). Two weeks ago Eve started talking about how she would love to bring paints and paint a beautiful picture. Lex loved the painting idea as well. Boring mommy suggested we take a few pictures with the camera and use them to paint at home. No dice, boring mommy! Last week they were both disappointed that I didn’t bring the paints and I reminded them that if they want to paint they need to bring the paints. This morning Eve woke up and almost immediately reminded me that it’s Monday and we need to pack the paints for our trip to the CSA. With my help she packed up a bag and put it in the car before school. I’m always running around on Mondays so if it didn’t get in the car early it probably wouldn’t get in at all!

When we got to the farm there were a few logistics to figure out, such as the fact that we don’t have portable easels (hardcover books from the car made acceptable stand-ins) and the ground was damp (turns out little kids don’t care about that!). So we climbed as high was we could, right by the wonderful swings, and settled in with the watercolors.

settling in

Settling in, getting comfy, time for painting.

the view

The view is pretty amazing.

the view p2

I entertained myself by playing with camera settings (and checking email, FB, blogs, etc.) I like this setting. The colors look more vivid. Someday I’m going to have an awesome camera and know all about such things.

I went back down to the barn, collected my CSA goodies, picked some herbs and flowers, loaded the car, then went back up to wait with them.

from the car

My view from the car. Do you see the kids up there? :)

After a few minute I was bored (I have the patience of a gnat!) but they were so calm and peaceful. Diligently working on their pictures. Discussing what they saw and how to draw it. Lex made outlines and then filled in. Eve painted with a broad brush (literally!) and was a bit abstract. Lex threw around words like “outlining” and “layering” that he learned in art class and tried to comment on the differences in their painting techniques. “Mine is more detailed and yours has more colors,” he said. She took every comment as a critique (she can be touchy like that sometimes) so I jumped in and explained that everyone has a different style and no style is better or worse than any other. We talked about different artists and styles. My knowledge in that area is just a barely-there wisp, but I was able to bring up books we have with different styles of illustrations and I think the point was adequately made. I may find a few art books in the library to further our discussions. I considered painting with them, but we didn’t have an extra book handy and I didn’t want to sit on the wet ground.

paintings p1

Eve gestures to the sweeping landscape as her verbal stories unfold.

working hard

Hard at work.

big views

Big beautiful scenery!

more painting

Like I said, I amused myself by taking pictures. Now you have to look at them!


I did a little swinging too. :)


Lex’s finished piece. He is standing in front of the view he painted, with the barn in the lower right corner of the picture and his painting.


Eve’s pieces are more abstract and she included everything she saw at any point. As usual, I wish I could include her stories with these posts, but of course I never could so you’ll just have to enjoy the pictures and imagine the stories.

I waited patiently and after an hour and a half we packed up. Lex had finished one and Eve had done one and nearly completed her second. I rushed her a bit at the end (I felt guilty but really we had been there so long already and I was cold and bored!). They took them into the barn and proudly showed Chuck, the farmer/owner. He and everyone else in the barn oohed and aahed appropriately. :)

Then home we went, wet works of art drying in the back of the car. Happy family.


(I just noticed that it’s October 5th and I’m just now creating an October photos folder, and I only have 15 pictures to put in it, four of which aren’t even for me. I’m slacking here! ;) )

I had a realization recently (again) that our afternoons go more smoothly when I have something planned. Not necessarily an outing, but a plan. Some days we go out but many days we all want to be home. I’ve started trying to be a bit more proactive, or intentional as the mommy-blog world talks about, with my afternoons. As a result of this decision, we’ve done several fun craft projects recently.

Family Tree
I found this idea from a blog I read, written by a local mom. It’s fun to see her pictures and sometimes recognize where they were taken. She has lots of fun little kid ideas. I modified the project, of course. For our afternoon I got out big sheets of paper and all of our stamps and ink. We haven’t used the stamps in quite awhile. The kids were super excited to come home and find this project setup.


Everyone loves stamping.

While they stamped away I drew a tree branch on my piece of paper.

bare branch

My bare branch. I am always so nervous to create. I marvel at how fast and easy the kids put ink to paper, while I hem and haw and hesitate, fearing it might come out different from what I see in my head.

Then I asked them to use green ink and make fingerprint “leaves” all over the branches.

eve finger printing

Little green finger print leaves.

lex finger printing

Lex wanted to put his whole hand down, but I had to stop him. The ink isn’t washable (they had colorful fingers for awhile!) and I really wanted my project to turn be nice. :)

Then I had them each pick a color and put one thumb print on the big branch. The idea being to make little birdies sitting on the branch. One for each of us. I had Alan do his thumbprint when he got home from work.

After awhile Lex and I moved on, but Eve persisted with the stamping, turning out several sheets that look a lot like this one. All full of detailed, intricate stories.

eve stamping

She has no hesitation in creating!

The next day I got out the paints and paint markers and we did more creating.


This is Eve’s painting. A bunny in a field with white flowers.

While they painted and thought and deliberated on how to finish my Family Tree. How to make it look “right.” I didn’t have right size googly eyes, like the sample I was following, and we didn’t do the paint smudge and I was afraid to do anything for fear of wrecking it. Finally I put pen to paper and finished it, putting the sample out of my mind and coming up with a few idea of my own. I was super excited about how it came out!

family tree p1

Our Family Tree!

family tree p2

Perfect, right? Wrong!

The kids were oohing and aahing as I showed them the finished product. Then Eve made a comment about her little blue bird and Lex made a comment about his big blue bird and I suppressed a bit of very strong language as I realized I had written the names wrong!!! ARGH!

More heming and hawing. I pointed out the mistake to the kids, who would have noticed momentarily anyway, and told them how frustrated I was about the mistake. They were both so sweet and kind and came up with lots of idea. I tried one fix that didn’t work then I tried Lex’s suggestion of just making the branch bigger. That worked. If you look really close you can see the pen names through the branch, but only if you know to look for them….. hmm… disregard that last sentence and take a look at my finished PERFECT Family Tree!

family tree p3

Finished! The first step to my downstairs bathroom remodeling. :) (I know decorating the walls should be the final step to a remodeling project, but I do things a bit differently over here.)

Then the kids finished their paintings.

lex painting

Lex made a deep sea picture. I think I like the lantern fish best. :)

When we were all done Eve took the job of cleaning up the paint. It took her almost an hour. Can you guess why? :)

eve cleaning

Eve “cleaning” the paints. Seriously though, when she was done things were pretty clean!

I have to go get the kids off the bus now. I’ll save my other recent craft project, a bit of Halloween fun, for anther post!

Love notes from Lex

Look what I found on my bed last night.

whole note

“Find the five hidden doors. :)”

A love note from my boy! Full of little windows to open. So cute!

top windows

“Dear Mom, I love you so much. Love, Lex”
“Look under your pillow for another note.”

door three

“Here’s a picture for you! Do you like it? __Yes __No”
Like anyone could say no to that?!

door four

“I love you, Mom!”
The smiley face pops up. A little trick he learned in a book and loves putting in cards.

door five

“Read my note!” The note says “I <3 U" and was tucked inside a little pocket he made with tape and paper.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8710" align="aligncenter" width="500"]under the pillow front Here is the note that was under my pillow. It says “I love you”

under the pillow inside

Who could for ask for more!?!

Is that not the sweetest thing ever?! Truth be told I knew he was working on it. He spent hours on it yesterday morning, not-so-sneakily hiding it each time I got near him. I love how much effort he puts into his projects. I love the beautiful colors. I love Lex!