Monday, March 31, 2014

Ribbon Pull Through Box (semi-tutorial)

A couple of weekends ago, before the Quiet Book Mayhem, I really needed to make something. And with a teething, whiny was a bonus if it also amused my child.  I was fresh off of a fun consignment sale where I bought him a few new toys in the $2-4 range.  He is mildly interested in some and others he hasn't really given the time of day.  (I think he will still grow into a few of them.)

So I googled "baby toys" and found a few ribbon pull through boxes. Essentially a baby (better for toddler age) pulls on a ribbon which passes through the box, making the end of the ribbon on the other side shorter. Apparently this is Amusing.  Well, I found an empty tissue box, haphazardly slapped on a few Batman stickers (I really could have done better with that, but I wanted to see if he would even like it) and stabbed some holes in the box. Then I covered it with packing tape except for the tissue dispenser part so he could reach his hand in there.  And I crashed my ribbon stash and wove them through the box in all sorts of directions.  On a couple of the thinner ribbons I tied a large button. Chewing the buttons has turned out to be his favorite part. Plus laughing at me when I make loud noises into the box that sound funny.

 Here he is trying to decide what to do about the box:
 He decided he likes it!  (Sort of.  Attention span of 30 seconds. Hopefully this will improve.)
 He would much rather play with his favorite toy, mini altoid tins.  He likes these so much we bought a few and glued them shut (some mints still inside.) It makes a great noise and is the perfect size for his hand.  It also slips out of his hand a lot and slides around which he chases!  I sure hope those tins are non-toxic because he loves them!!!!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Quiet Book Project, Part 1*!

*Part 1 Because I am guessing there will be future posts on this topic.

So, I'm making a quiet book! When I saw them on sale on etsy for $150 I knew I would never pay that much for a kids book that I could make myself. But these cloth/fabric/homemade books vary in complexity (and size) so I thought making my own book from scratch would take...forever.  Then I talked to some other mama's and we all want our kid more entertained and a co-op book idea was formed.

So basically I have recruited other crafty moms to each make 1-2 pages for the book, with multiple copies of each (that way you only need creative juices for 1 mass-produced page) and then we will all trade pages and have complete and varied books.

The tricky part of this is making sure the pages are similar enough to all go together in the book. And not to overwhelm any of use, since we are all new moms within the last year (or new moms to more than 1!). So th is a more simple version of a quiet book, but hopefully one that will still entertain the tots.

If any non-facebook readers want to participate, let me know. You must make a minimum of 6 pages and mail them to me by May 10. (We have 10+ participants right now so if you make 9 pages you will get 9 back in your book, etc. I will know the final # of participants by early next week. )

Onto the instructions the core group is waiting for:
1) The pages will be made of Stiffened Felt. Our page size is 9x9 and we are accounting for an inch of binding on either side (since I don't know if your page will be a front or backside in the book. [This means your design area is 7x9 inches]. Note this UPC specifically says "Stiffened Felt", not the floppy felt. (Floppy felt is fine for decorating.)
 Here is what your page will look like...cut off the bottom 3". This leaves you with the 9x9 page. Avoid crafting on the left and right margin (1 inch).  You can orient your page horizontally or vertically because the book can always be turned during reading. I hope this makes sense.
My practice page was making a sensory octopus. This is geared more towards the younger crowd since it is more about feeling the textures of different ribbon, but with an older child you can ask them to find a certain color ribbon, etc.  I started with ribbon I had on hand (although I would have loved to use rick rack and curly ribbon as I saw on a blog.)  I cut my strips 5-6 inches.  Then I took 2 scraps from the felt part I cut off my main page and taped half of the ribbon down to the top.  My "scraps" were 1.5"x4". (you could pin the ribbon on individually to allow for sewing, but who has time to pin individual ribbons?) So again, I laid out the ribbons across the yellow scrap shown below and taped the top. Then I ran the non-taped part (still touching the yellow scrap) through the sewing machine a few times to anchor the ribbons.  I did this twice per octopus, then layered them underneath the octopus head (stitching them again, this time to the page).

Here I have both layers of my ribbon strips stitched to my page. The ribbon is longer than the page but I trimmed it later.
 I cut an octopus head shape (freehanded, but you could find lots of pictures online) that was a little wider than my ribbon strips and then sewed it on. This is the first time I've ever bothered to change thread color to match my project. It is was worth it!  Also, sewing felt on felt is SO nice. As in, so easy. I may become addicted.
 I used a few other supplies - I glued a surprise fish to my page underneath the tentacles. I tried to make sure I had glue on the entire bottom surface so prying little fingers will not find a gap to rip the fish off.
 I also found some non-toxic puffy paints in my stash (From Emily's burp rag project!) to make the eyes. I was especially happy they were non toxic. I tried not to make the paint eyes too "tall" so that John won't try to pick them off. (I smeared the paint to be flat.)
 On a second test page I sewed this mitten for a child to put their hand in. In retrospect, tracing my own hand then sewing it on make it a little small for grown ups. But this is just a test one and it fits John's hand just fine.  You will notice in the below picture I have also stitched this to the yellow page (note the square sewn around the mitten) with the left 1 inch reserved for binding. More on binding when I get my grommet kit tomorrow.
 Its a hit! And yes I am wearing batman fleece pajamas and pink socks in that picture.
To make both pages last night took me less than 2 hours, and that was with finding the stuff, faking a pattern, and learning as I go. It would have gone faster if I knew I was making the same page over and over, etc. So hopefully this is a manageable project for all of us involved!

I still have a few more page ideas that I hope some additional participants will volunteer for:
Tie My Shoe / Lacing Page (lacing football, ballet slipper, etc)
Flaps / High Contrast (any page with flaps to lift to reveal something underneath)
Marble Maze
Traffic Light with Velcro colors
Anything with buttons - for dexterity

Anyhow, there are TONS of options and variations to include/not include beads, buttons, etc. You can find tons of quiet book ideas with a simple pinterest or etsy search. If you want to participate after lasting through this entire post, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you!

Friday, March 7, 2014


Sooo...just to tell a few stories about how fast John is growing and I remember them for the scrapbook. (Ha! I just said really!)  So bathtime is a highlight of our day. For me, because it means no whining for possibly up to 15 minutes and it gets the dried spit up out of his hair.  For John it means a variety of activities, starting with:

1. Eat bathroom mat tag while Mom fills the bath. Then stand at bathtub edge putting mouth on nasty shower door railing and screeching about getting in.
2. Short bath trying to chase ducks. (They are hard to catch in water!)
3. Roll over in bath - end of bath. Mom empties bath.
4. Play in bath longer, practicing crawling. Give Mom heart attack about risks of cracking head on the bathtub.
5. Get removed from bath and extreme squirming in towel.
6. (my favorite part) - stand up from getting dried and see self in mirror. Flash huge dimple smiles and become very excited.
7 (new development) QUICKLY become tired of self in mirror and throw body towards sink to "wash hands." (I am sad about this one. I taught him the hand washing and now he totally wants to do that instead of looking in the mirror! Only in the main bathroom though.  Its like he doesn't realize the other bathroom also has a sink - so he likes mirror time in there.)

That is pretty much the end - cue extreme squirminess on the changing table, PJ's, nursing, and bedime.

You're welcome son, for not posting the picture of your front instead.
And even since the "hand washing" development, Zach taught John about light switches today. So now he also lunges towards every switch he notices when we walk by them. Which is a lot because he wants to be walked around all the time, or else he whines constantly. 
Luckily walks are still an acceptable substitute, here he is rocking his shades! His other pair of sunglasses are tight on his eyes so he just keeps his eyes closed and rips them off. These he will leave on - if I correct him enough times initially AND if its bright out -- but he will keep reaching up just to touch the lens as if he is thinking, "Are they still there? Yep. Ok." Super cute.

Here's an image from the baby monitor - we have increased crib play lately. A few months ago putting him down before he was super tired would yield only screaming. Now we may get some arguing (and who am I kidding - sometimes screaming) but also sometimes he just plays and explores the crib before conking out. Sweet!

And here he is in his plastic wagon. We push/pull him around the house in this.  He doesn't smile like that for the rides, though. He is VERY serious and holds on for dear life. (Zach once lifted his body to simulate a crash and John carried the wagon with him!) But after he is done emptying his wagon of toys, he tolerates as much wagon riding as we can tolerate (Hello, broken back) and it prevents The Whining.  So basically he always has to be in motion to be happy.  I guess it burns the ice cream off that Zach and I consume nightly after bedtime!

Anyhow, that sums up our typical day (in reverse order, I suppose!). We are looking for care options when I go back to work full time and it is SCARY! Drop my baby off at a facility and walk away? Or pay double to have him at home.  Eek.  Well, pray for us, we are praying too!