Dec 13, 2011

Toddler Art Tuesday- Making Wrapping Paper

Last week I had the boys do some painting on large sheets of blank paper to make wrapping paper. I put out Christmas cookie cutters for them to make prints with finger paint (like we did HERE and HERE) and they also decided to simply finger paint. Well, and Matthew wanted to eat the paint. Typical! This was an easy and fun activity and now we have very unique wrapping paper for small gifts! I don't have pictures of the final product, but here are some pictures of the boys in action.

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Dec 12, 2011

{Christmas} cookie & milk birthday party

If you can believe it, John turned THREE this month! Time certainly flies by. To keep myself from going into deep depression that my sweet boy is getting older, I spent the last couple months planning his 3rd birthday party. And by 'couple months' I mean I thought about what we could do, ordered some things here and there, and kept a list of ideas in my head until about two weeks ago when I finally put the party together.

Back when John was barely one years old, I saw this post on Skip to My Lou. I knew one day I would do something similar for John's birthday since it is so close to Christmas. I LOVED the idea of Santa showing up and it was just so sweet. I originally wanted John's party in the morning so we could do a breakfast with Santa but instead decided to use the now popular 'cookies and milk' themed party with a holiday twist.

The party all began with this invitation that I created using photoshop. I love how it turned out and it is certainly unique!

When guests walked in the house, the first thing they would see was a hot chocolate bar. I had a coffee pot of hot water so they could use Swiss Miss packets to make hot chocolate. I also set out toppings (marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, and sprinkles) to make it extra yummy! I wanted to get disposable coffee mugs, but found insulated 'hot' cups at the dollar store instead. So I put Christmas stickers on them to make them more festive.

I made a pennant banner on photoshop and printed onto white cardstock. It was SO much easier to make it on the computer instead of using scrapbook supplies! I just hot glued the paper to a ribbon that came off of the wrapping of some pj's that I had bought the boys. Because I just love my readers so much, I am going to share the banner later this week...when I get my act together and can get it online! So be sure to check back late for the free download!

The food display was against a cute snowball and snowflake back drop. I used white yarn and hot glued cotton balls to represent snowballs. I found these glittery snowflake ornaments a year or two ago after Christmas and never remembered to take them out of the craft stash for the tree! So I added those to the snowballs to add a little sparkle. My sweet hubby hung the strands on the ceiling and we actually are going to keep them up through Christmas since it is kind of a fun decoration!

I had lots (and lots!) of cookies for this party. In fact, we ONLY had cookies since it was an afternoon party and was over before dinner time. Some I baked with the boys, some were baked from scratch by my husband, and some were store-bought. All were yummy! I decided the parents might completely hate me if I fed the kids lots of cookies AND then had cake too! So I made mini cupcakes instead...and boy were they MINI. So cute! I designed food labels on photoshop that coordinated with the invitations. I feel like using the food labels seems super anal, but it was nice to not have to tell people over and over again which cookie was which.

We also had a bucket of Horizons vanilla milk and a bucket of Yahoo chocolate milk. I really wanted cute milk bottles with straws but knew that 3 year olds probably would spill milk all over my house if I did that. So I got the milk boxes instead. Unfortunately, I got vanilla milk thinking that was the same as plain milk. The choices at Kroger were vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry so I just figured vanilla was plain! Oops! So now I have a ton of vanilla milk boxes in my fridge that I don't think my sons will drink. :)

The most exciting part of the party was when Santa stopped by for a visit. He came in jingling some bells and coralled all the kiddos into the living room. There he read the kids a story (John LOVES books so I knew he would love hearing a story from Santa) which was just so cute. Then he pulled out his 'nice list' (which I made as a simple list of guests so I didn't have to put names on the presents!). This nice list was a last minute decision and it turned out way cuter than I thought it would be! So, Santa handed out presents to each kiddo (holiday coloring books and crayons from Oriental Trading), which served as their party favors.

Lastly, I wanted the kids to decorate cookies since it was a cookie themed party. I quickly rejected that idea because I could just imagine sprinkles and icing all over the house by the end of the party. Instead, I found foam gingerbread men cutouts at Target in the Dollar Spot (LOVE the dollar spot!) as well as a bunch of Christmas stickers. I put out pom poms, glue, more stickers, and pipe cleaners and they kiddos could decorate those 'cookies' with minimal mess! Some kids put the pipe cleaners in a loop at the top of the gingerbread man to make it into an ornament which was a cute idea too.

I think John thoroughly enjoyed his party (and even woke up in the middle of the night with a tummy ache from too many cookies!). I loved how it turned out and it was actually an easy party to plan for and put together!

Plus, if nothing else, it got me to actually put out Christmas decorations instead of saying 'I hate everything I have!' and telling Brad to put it right back into the attic. :)

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Dec 6, 2011

Tea-Party 1st Birthday

Remember these invitations I made for my sweet niece's 1st birthday?

Well, my sister shared the party on her blog, Refreshingly Chic. Of course it turned out fabulous and was perfectly decorated. My sweet boys had so much fun! Here is one little sneak peek pic. Go see the rest at their blog!

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Nov 28, 2011

Christmas Countdown Board

You probably didn't see this, but about a week or two ago I guest posted on Sugar Bee Crafts. (exciting!) So, I am reposted my project for all my favorite readers! and you get to know a little tidbit about me too...bonus!

Hey everyone! This is Jen from lil Mop Top. As you can assume, I am super excited to be guest posting today at Sugar Bee Crafts. {yay!!} So before I show you to make a Christmas Countdown Board for your own family, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I am lucky enough to be married to my best-friend, Brad, and we have two precious baby boys. (I can call them babies forever, right?!). John John turns 3 next month (be sure to check out his birthday party on my blog cute!) and Matty B is 16 months. They are both the sweetest and cutest boys EVER! I was a high school math teacher for 8 years and decided to stay home with the boys when Matthew was born...and I am LOVING it!

I am always gathering ideas around the internet to do activities and fun stuff with the boys, so my Christmas Countdown Board is perfect for our family. I used library card pockets and library cards to make a different activity each day for us to do in December as we countdown to Christmas. Here is how I made mine, but of course you can vary this in so many ways to fit you perfectly!

All of the supplies I had around the house so you could do this project for 'free' using things around your house.

First I took a thick black poster board and painted it white. I wanted it to look a little distressed so I painted it unevenly because I didn't know if I could sand poster board. (Hind sight, I wish I had painted this green or red, but too late now!)

While the paint was drying, I used Christmas scrapbook paper to cut out small pieces of paper to cover some card pockets I had in my stash. I cut each piece 3.5"x2.5" but you would have to cut yours to size.

Then glue a piece of cut paper to the front of each card pocket. My favorite helper (Brad) glued while I stuck the paper on which made this part of the project take about 1 minute.

Then I printed and cut the library cards.

Once the paint on the board was dry, I laid out the cards how I wanted them (eyeballing my spacing because I am too lazy to get out a ruler and do the math...but I COULD do the math if I wanted because, remember, I was a math teacher!) Then I stuck the card pockets on the board (they were the self-adhesive kind...awesome!).

This looked pretty plain the way it was and I didn't have an actual frame to put this in. So, I found a spot in the house where I had a mirror hanging above a painted dresser. (My sisters painted the dresser and I love it! Check out their blog, Refreshingly Chic).

I used tape to hang the the board on the mirror so it looked like it was being framed. Right now I don't have my holiday decorations out, but it will look super cute when I get all my junk out of the attic. :)

Like I said, this is very easy to vary to put your own creative spin on it. I thought about making it into a banner for the mantel, but since the boys are so young, I didn't want them pulling it down. If you have 25 Christmas books, it would be SO cute to put a card pocket in each book and the kids pick a new book each day and the card has the activity for the day after reading it. I bet you can come up with something really cute!

I have a document HERE with the library cards with my activities (I found most of them at various sites such as The Activity Mom) and I also have a blank library card HERE if you want to add in your own activities.

Thanks again to Mandy for letting me invade her space at Sugar Bee Crafts! Be sure to stop by my blog at lil Mop Top where you can find a variety of fun crafts such as...

Easy Fabric Roads:

Cozy Flannel Blanket:

and lots of ideas for learning activities/lessons for toddlers such a feeding Cookie Monster during our baking themed week:

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Nov 14, 2011

Unique Wedding Present- Deep in the Heart of Texas

Over the summmer, Brad and I were lucky to be able to attend a wedding of our friends, Chad and Caitlin. We had a great weekend with all our friends celebrating the newlyweds in Austin. I FINALLY finished their present over the weekend and I LOVE how it turned out! More importantly, Chad and Cait Cait loved it too!

Not to toot my own horn, but they did say it was one of the best gifts they got. (toot toot!) This sign was about 12x14 so it was a good size for displaying at their house. I used the same steps as when I made the Family Tree Subway Art poster for Brad.

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Nov 8, 2011

Toddler Art Tuesday - Leaf Wreath

Now that we are past Halloween, I will be doing fall and Thanksgiving activities with the boys in tot school. So, our toddler art date with my sweet nieces was to make leaf wreaths.

We first took a walk down the street to hunt for leaves. The older kids used pumpkin buckets while the younger kiddos took a ride in the wagon (pulled by strong boy John!). It was so nice to be able to do something outside for a little while!

Then we took our treasures inside where I had cut the center of paper plates out to make paper wreaths. I mixed up brown paint and glue for John and Bella to paint the wreaths. While the paint/glue mixture was still wet, they attached their pretty leaves. I was surprised the leaves actually stuck to the wreath but the glue/paint mixture actually worked!

I think they had a good time with this project and their wreaths are simply gorgeous. :)

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