School Projects

Fun Projects

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brynnie Requested Princess Hats

We haven't had Project Day for a while because first there were a lot of icky germs and then there was Spring Break. The kids missed each other though, so despite some remaining symptoms (we had Kleenex handy) we decided that we would still get together and do a project.

Brynn had requested a "Princess Hat" a few days ago, so with some poster board, markers, glue and glittery craft foam, we all made princess, king, and queen crowns.

We grown-ups decided that glittery craft foam was a much better option then real glitter and glue. The cleaning up part of the project was so much nicer.

Mia, the decider of project goodness or badness, gave this one a "Thumbs Up"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This One is For My Mom

We used to have steps down to our basement that were just a little rickety.

We would joke that people who were getting "the tour" should walk down the steps one at a time, so the whole staircase didn't collapse. My Mom didn't think this was funny at all. Aaron has been working away down in the basement and the time arrived to put in new steps.

So, a few days ago our good friend, "Mr. Chris", came over to give Aaron a hand with this project.

Here he is, down in the hole.

I don't know how he got any work done, with Ian's constant questions and chatter, but soon a new, sturdy staircase began to appear where the old one had been.

Aaron helped too, of course.

The final touch was a second railing, lower then the first, so that Brynnie (and other small children) can get up and down more easily. There you go Mom, you can breath easily once again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baking Day

Yesterday, I was inspired by a picture I saw posted on Facebook. A friend of mine had taken a picture of some of her baking - Cinnamon Scones to be exact - and they looked so yummy I decided to give scones a try myself. I decided to use my favorite ingredient too:

They turned out really yummy, so I'd call that baking project success.


I also tried something else new this past month. I was reading Better Homes and Gardens and they talked about "forcing branches" - which is cutting branches from trees and getting them to bud inside the house. So, a few weeks ago, when the weather was like this:

I went outside and cut some branches from some flowering trees we have. They are annoyingly placed trees, but we keep them because of their spring flowers. Then, you put them in a warm shower before wrapping them in plastic:

After a few days (or weeks), the buds start to swell and even pop. That's when you take them out of the plastic and arrange them around your house. It's like fake spring! This is my best branch so far:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When You are Snowed In, You Sew

The past few days the weather has been yucky and the germs have been yuckier, but vacation preparation goes on nonetheless.
Last year, Brynn spent the nights of our vacation contained by a pack-'n-play, but this year she is free to roam. Which is a problem. In an effort to make the first few nights of our vacation a little more restful, I thought we should "practice camping."
The kids were all for it - especially Brynn who wanted to try out her new sleeping bag.

It didn't go well. At. All. Ian did fine - he'd sleep through an earthquake. Brynn was in, then under, then on top of her sleeping bag. Then she was wandering the house. Eventually, she ended up in her bed. We are going to need a LOT more practice.
Since we were snowed in yesterday (the springy weather made some of the plow guys forget how to plow our road), I decided it was time to make some "Back of the Car Seat Storage Pockets." What a combo: sewing, vacation prep AND organization. What bliss.
My sister Tandis had sent me a link to a tutorial on how to make these, but when I wanted to use it, my computer decided it was taking a vacation day, so I had to wing it.
I dug into my fabric stash and found some canvas and some denim. I measured the van seats and roughed out a pattern.
I made different-sized pockets to hold different-sized stuff, but that concept might be too advanced for my kids...although Brynn does exhibit some OCD tendencies occasionally.
I used some heavy-duty seam-binding tape (don't know where it came from) to make a loop and ties. It's really amazing what you can find to use when a trip to the fabric store is out of the question.
(Sorry, I forgot to rotate the photo)
Then I tried it on for size. It turned out pretty well.
Oh yeah, I found an old dowel rod to put across the top to keep it from flopping over.
I have already decided to change one thing on the next one I make. Do you see that row of small pockets across the top? Too small. Oh well. Maybe it will hold Brynn's stash of vacation bling.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One Month To Go

In less then a month now we leave on our annual family road trip vacation. Every spring we load up our vehicle (for the past few years it has been a minivan) and hit the open road in a quest to see places we have never seen and do things we have never done before. I hope to some day see every state in the Union - I only have three left: Hawaii, Alaska, and Idaho. Aaron is more ambitious: he wants to see every county in the country. This year is our biggest attempt yet: we are caravaning with my sister-in-law and her family out to Los Angeles to visit my other sister-in-law and her husband. It is going to be an adventure!
In preparing for these annual trips, Aaron and I have a clear division of labor: He plans and I pack. With a few days less then a month to go, my big project right now is packing.
I start with a list - I try and list EVERYTHING I need. The list you see here is nothing compared to the final list:

This is my extra brain. I carry this book with me everywhere. I can write reminders to myself for things to add to "The List." I write shopping lists and grocery lists and to-do lists and reminders. People often accuse me of being really organized, but they don't know about my extra brain.
This is my staging area. It's the extra futon in Blair's room. It's empty now, but soon I will begin piling things on it. When it goes on the futon, it gets crossed off "The List." If something needs fixing, it goes in "The Extra Brain." If it doesn't end up on the futon, it doesn't go on the trip.
I will know it is time to leave on the actual vacation when this futon is empty once more.
Keep watching for progress reports!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Birthday

In my life, March is "Birthday Month."
My brother, my sister, my husband, my mom and my mother-in-law, plus several friends, all celebrate their birthdays in March.
In honor of all these annual celebrations, I figured I had better do some sort of birthday project.
I found these glittery sheets of craft foam at Hobby Lobby and they seemed very birthday-ish to me.

I decided to make a birthday banner with them.
First I traced the letters on the back of the foam. Reversed, of course.
Then I decided that I didn't like the size of the traced letters, so I modified them a bit.
After cutting out the letters, I arranged them in reverse order and used Tacky Glue to attach yard to the back.
While this was drying, I had another idea: I could use the banner to display all the birthday cards that I never have room to put up.
So, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby with my dear friend Jamie, and bought these mini clothespins.
The Tacky Glue came back out and the clothespins got attached.
Finally, I hung the banner up on the nails I put in back in December (for a Christmas banner).
Happy Birthday Everyone!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Gotta Brag On My Husband a Bit!

Today I was thinking that I post a lot of my own projects and also a lot of things I do with my kids, but I don't very often post about my husband's projects. Considering the house we have, that is a serious dereliction of duty. Since the weather got cold and the ground froze, Aaron has switched his attention to the inside of our foundation. Since he fixed all our water problems we can make the basement pretty. Well...I don't think our basement will ever be pretty, but it can at least be clean and practical and useful.
He's been working on things like this:

And this:
I have been told that ^ was NOT up to code.
He also totally reworked the laundry station so that the washer and dryer are separated by only inches instead of yards. He also fixed it so that the dryer vents to the outside instead of the basement. Hurrah!
He also spent a lot of time grinding the cracked mortar out from between the cement blocks so that he could tuck-point it before putting on a nice coat of white (not puke green) paint.

Thanks Aaron, you do good work!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Project Day By Ourselves

Yesterday was supposed to be Project Day. Our projecting buddies had fevers, however, so we had to project by ourselves.
Brynnie doesn't think that is as much fun.

Ian thinks maybe we get more done this way!

We decided on a pretty simple project to do without our friends. We painted little cardboard "treasure boxes" with metallic acrylic paint. After the paint was dry, we cut shapes out of scrapbook paper: Ian cut out dinosaurs and Brynn got butterflies.

Then we used Mod Podge to stick the shapes to the boxes and give the finished product a protective coat.
Thankfully, I like storage containers, because I am learning the kids can NEVER have too many treasure boxes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring Window Decorations

With February over, it was time to take down the Valentine's Day decorations. Since we've had some sort of decorations up since October (fall leaves, then Christmas, then winter snowflakes, and finally Valentine's Day), the house seemed just a little bare. I hung up my spring wreath on the front door, but that was only visible from the outside. The hint of spring was in the air, but I needed it inside my house.
So, I dug deep into my project archive.
This is a Rose Window. It is a circular stained-glass window from some famous European cathedral. I can't make real rose windows, but I can make my own, much easier, version.

A few years ago, my Mom bought me this kit. It came with the instruction book, variously sized cardstock rings, and squares of tissue paper. They make GREAT spring window decorations.
First you cut the tissue paper (5 sheets in various colors) into circles slightly smaller then the rings. The foundation piece gets glued to the rings and then the other pieces get folded in half
four times.
Next, you arrange the wedges in order from light to dark (for most designs) and draw on the design. This pattern makes a rounded flower shape. Then you cut each wedge along the line and open the circle back up.
Then you stack the rings onto the foundation, gluing each layer down and making sure you line up the creases.
Last, you glue on the top ring.
They look really neat when you stick them on the window.
Oh, and for the scraps you cut out, you can layer them (putting a dot of glue in the center) for a cute flower shape.
It's a fun way to bring Spring a little sooner.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Still Trying to Get Caught Up

Well, our 2011 vacation is fast approaching, and I still haven't finished scrapbooking the 2010 one. I refuse to be more then a year behind on my photo albums, so I have taken over the kitchen table until this thing is done. It's made for some creative "Tea Party" lunches and "Picnic" lunches, but I am making progress!

Once I get going, it doesn't take so long. It's the set-up time and clean-up time that takes so long!
To keep my kids busy - in reality to keep them from "helping",
I decided to let them paint. On the floor.
Call me crazy (you won't be the first), but it worked.
There actually wasn't that much damage done. Just a few streaks of paint and a few splatters.
Since it was water paint, it cleaned right up.
Doesn't my daughter fit the the rather eccentric style of real artists?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Need More Arms

I finally got my laptop back (my husband had it the past few days) and I have a few things to catch up on.
My little girl is getting bigger and her crazy mane has reached braiding length. I've never been much good at doing hair, so this is a new experience (and therefore project) for me.
Here is my best "first day" effort.

As you can see, it's a little wonky.
About ten minutes after this was taken, most of it had out and was messier then ever.
It seems that in order to be a successful braider of hair, I need to become ambidextrous, grow an extra set of arms and invent a product that will immobilize my daughter for ten minutes.
Or I can just practice.
This was my next effort.
Not nearly tight enough. It was a disaster in two minutes.
Someday I'll post that picture!