Thursday, May 29, 2014

Story Stones #projectcrafthappy

I came across the perfect gift for one of Red's oldest friends, Eddie! Eddie just turned 5, and he and Red have known one another since she was born, a little over 3 months after he was born. Eddie has a great imagination! He and his dad do a lot of story play with toys, making up elaborate tales about the little cars and figures they're playing with.

A while ago, I found these Story Stones for sale at CraftingConnections.net, and I was all- Yea, like I'm going to pay $48 for 12 painted rocks. Sorry. I'm all about artists making their wage, but that's a little steep! I filed the idea away in the back of my head, and remembered it when we were invited to Eddie's birthday party. I knew I had to make some Story Stones for him!

The card included with the stones reads "Pull the stones from the bag using the pictures to tell a story as you go!" You can paint whatever images you like to inspire a great story! Also, 5 year olds loooooove to tell stories! They can play this over and over again and come up with all sorts of adventures!

I used simple craft acrylic paint then coated them with gloss Mod Podge. My only tip is to choose rough stones, not smoothed river stones, as the paint sticks better to a rough surface.

Then I tied them up in this cute bag I had leftover from my Baby Shower Quick Change project!


Eddie's Mom sent me some sweet texts to let me know the Story Stones were a hit! Eddie's dad even got in on the action telling some tall tales over Birthday dinner!

Happy Birthday, Eddie!



If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Baby Shower Gifts and Overcoming the Crafty Unknown #projectcrafthappy

I don't know why, but people seem to have babies in waves. It could be months without any new babies, and then all the sudden there's a cluster of births! I'm in the midst of what appears to be baby season, having attended 3 baby showers in the past month and knowing 2 more women close to me that are having new little ones!

For my cousin Chrissy's gift, I looked to her registry for inspiration. She chose the CoCaLo Turtle Reef bedding for her baby's room, so I decided to make her a painting with a sweet saying that matched the theme.


All it took was a quick search on Pinterest for "Baby Sea Ocean Sayings Quotes" to find what I wanted to write. Even if you're not a painter, you can do a simple painting such as this. Many of the images on baby bedding sets are simple designs.  Whether it's monkeys, sailboats, dinosaurs or owls- you CAN redraw them! Start by looking at each picture as a set of shapes- oval for the body, circle for the head, hands and feet- and lightly sketch them on the canvas with pencil. Then work in layers, putting down base colors first then adding details after the base has dried. Finally, throw some highlights on there to give it depth and hide any imperfections. The key to doing paintings like this is Try Not To Overthink It! You don't have to get the exact curve of the turtle shell or the perfect shade of blue for the spots. This will be hanging in a room filled with other pieces from the bedding set, so it will flow nicely even if it's not a perfect match!


I made this next project for 2 different moms-to-be, and I actually found the idea on Pinterest at Inspire Co. by Amy Powers. Quick Change bags are small, handmade cloth bags, each filled with a size 1 diaper, a disposable changing pad, and a baggie of wipes. The idea is you can grab one when you're on the go with baby and know that you at least have everything you need for a quick diaper change!



This was my very first sewing project! Several years ago, my mom completely surprised me with a sewing machine for Christmas. She told me that sewing is the only craft I haven't attempted yet, and I thought to myself "There's a reason for that!!!" I have very distinct memories of my mom hunched over the sewing machine, cursing under her breath while pulling strands of thread from the various gears inside. However, I also have very distinct memories of all the Halloween costumes, prom dresses, bags and clothes she lovingly handmade! I want to be that kind of mom, but I was super scared to use the machine. I knew I needed the right project for my first try at the sewing machine, and when I came across these bags, I thought they'd be simple enough. 

So I sat down with my mom and got her tutorial. She explained the sewing machine to me the same way she explained her cooking... "And then you add some oregano--- how much oregano? I don't know- as much as tastes good. You'll know. Trust me- you'll know." Threading the line through, she remarked that if it's not thread correctly, it just won't work, so "you'll know."


I kid, but the thing with my mom is that she's not going to walk me through each step like a talking manual because she wants me to learn how figure it out for myself. She'll give me the basics, the general how-to, but she has a way of empowering me to know that I can probably do more than I think I can. She did a couple of bags with me, and then set me up to work on my own. Later that night, I found myself cursing under my breath at this godforsaken machine.  I couldn't just wake her up with a phone call over a sewing crisis, and you know what? I figured it out. Just like how I never could cook anything other than tacos and Shake 'n Bake, but now I experiment with food all the time. I'm even developing my own catalog of recipes.  So, yea, she's right... I'll know. 

Isn't it ironic that in the first project I am encouraging all you readers to give painting a try even if you don't think you can do it, and it the second project I'm telling you about my own fears of a new craft and how I've gotten over it? Crafting is very gratifying. I love having a visual finished project, something I can say I made with my own two hands. Through this Project Craft Happy series, I hope you find inspiration to make something lovely as well! 

If you enjoyed these crafts, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stepping Stones Teacher Gifts #projectcrafthappy

It's the end of the school year! I can't believe Red just completed her first year of preschool!  It really feels like just yesterday we were dropping her off on her first day!

First Day of Preschool

Last Day of Preschool


Crazy!

When I was a youngin', I really don't remember the moms all going crazy with the end of the year gifts for teachers. I'm pretty sure some room mom always collected 5 bucks from each parent and bought a gift certificate "from the class." But these days, we've got Facebook and Pinterest and annoying bloggers who share their crafty shit, forcing us to one-up eachother on teacher gifts..... *ahem*

Which leads me to my latest idea in the #projectcrafthappy series: Stepping Stone Teacher Gifts!

I'll be honest, I have been so friggin busy working on my massive backyard revitalization project that I haven't had time for much else other than, you know, parenting to my kids. (I'll be sharing all my backyard creations here in the coming weeks, and if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @momheartspinot, you can get a sneak peak!) But I assure you I have been staying true to my New Year's #projectcrafthappy resolution to handmake all my gifts for an entire year. 

However, I was a little conflicted about the teacher gifts. I know a bunch of teachers who have told me that, while these crafty Pinterest-inspired gifts are lovely, they can only take so many Framed Crayon Monograms. The consensus is that the Starbucks gift card will do just fine, thank you. This gave me the peace I needed to plop a couple of those in some construction paper cards handmade by Red. But then just yesterday I had a pang of guilt.... I had to face the reality--- I have a resolution to uphold here! I can't make it all the way to May and just crap out on the teacher gifts. Of course, now it was the day before the last day of school, and I had no gift and no time! I looked around my craft room, waiting for inspiration to strike me, and that's when I spotted the perfect solution. 

Last summer, I helped Red make these adorable stepping stones. They were intended to be Christmas gifts for the family, but we never got around to making enough for everyone, so most of them sat in the basement. Voila! Not only does this fit the #projectcrafthappy theme, but these are all handmade by Red, which is appropriate for her teacher gifts!



So here's the deal--- last summer I had all these super cute food containers from the Meatball's Gerber Pasta pick-ups. Every time he ate one, I couldn't bear to chuck the sturdy, octagonal shaped dish in the recycling bin! I knew I looked crazy saving so many of these, but I just had a feeling they would come in handy!




Sure enough, the idea hit me when I was in the craft store one day- these would be perfect molds for cutie little stepping stones! So I picked up a box of stepping stone mix from the craft store. I think it was around $10, and I used a 40% off coupon.



I mixed it up, poured it into all the containers, and was pleasantly surprised to see how many stepping stones I would get out of this project- 14!

Then, I just laid them out assembly-line style, and sprinkled a bunch of dollar store glass gems across the table, and let Red go to town!


She was very involved with this project. She just quietly walked back and forth, adding gems as she saw fit. Then she would casually announce when one was completed and keep working on the others. My only input was pressing down any gems I felt needed to be smushed in a little deeper to ensure they'd securely stay put. I let them dry for about 24 hours, then popped the stepping stones out. The food trays are very sturdy and definitely reusable, so we will be doing this project again this summer for sure!


Of course, you may not have a toddler eating pasta pick-ups, but the point you should understand is that you can look at all sorts of containers for ideas! Or, pick up a few pre-fab molds at the craft store- they're sold right next to the stepping stone mix.

I packaged up three stones for each teacher with this little note that read:

"Thank you for being one of the first stepping stones in my education!"
Awwwww........ I know, barf. A little too sweet maybe, but hey, it's true and heartfelt! It's no Starbucks gift card, but I do love the idea that it's made by Red and it really will be a useful addition to their gardens!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Butterflies & Spinderella #projectcrafthappy

My sister, Jennifer, and her husband share a birthday month, so I'm sharing the gifts I made for each of them in this post- It's March Madness for #ProjectCraftHappy!

My brother-in-law, Mike, is really into all things nature. There are random animal cages and tanks scattered about their house, weird things growing in pots on their kitchen windowsill, a chicken coup out back and wild mushrooms growing on logs on the side of the house. He even hosts #ShroomAtNoon and #InsectAtNoon on Instagram- search the hashtags and follow him at @glycine3 to see some really cool pictures!

What makes Mike even cooler is that he exposes my 3 nieces to nature every day. You can often find all 4 of them trekking through the woods, butterfly nets in hand, wading through creeks for tadpoles, turning over leaves for insect eggs. Here they are exploring the root system of an uprooted beech tree...



hunting for wild mushrooms...



and chillin' with some Polyphemus Moths!



One time, I was babysitting my then 4 year old niece, Annabelle, when she gave me a small seed looking thing that she found on the underside of one of the leaves from my herb garden. She told me it was a butterfly egg, and that I had to protect it. I checked with Jen and Mike to verify this, and she was, indeed, correct! 



Recently, a hawk broke into their chicken coup and killed one of the chickens. My niece, Gabriella, rationalized the sad situation that might otherwise be earth shattering for a 10 year old by stating "Maybe the hawk needed to feed her own babies". These kids understand the circle of life! It's so cool!

Mike loves butterflies, and each year he collects Monarch butterfly eggs, hatches them, raises the butterflies, and hosts a big Butterfly Release Party in his front yard for all neighbors. He sets up a tent where everyone can view the butterflies and hold them, and then at the end, everyone gets a butterfly to release. It's beautiful!



I wasn't sure what to make for Mike's birthday, but luckily I came across the instructions to for a butterfly feeder on the zoosociety.or website- perfect! You can check out the full instructions in the pdf in that link and make one for yourself! It was super easy. I have a ton of random jars laying around. Everything I read about attracting butterflies says they are drawn to bright colors because they seek nectar from brightly colored flowers. I used colorful washi tape (my new obsession!) to decorate the outside of this jar.


Then I wound gold wire around the jar until I was able to hang it upside down. I just looped and curled the ends of the wire to add a fun decorative touch to the jar.


I didn't add the sugar water before I gave it to Mike, but the directions are to heat a solution of 1 part sugar to 10 parts water, then cool before adding it to your jar and hanging outside. Any more sugar than that ratio could pose a dehydration risk to the butterflies. Also, clean and refill the jar every few days so it doesn't get funky and moldy from the sugar.


***

Jennifer balances what Mike teaches the girls about science with what she teaches them about all things awesome and pop culture. Jen is the oldest of my 4 sisters, and she always had the best music. She's the reason I appreciate Madonna and Salt 'n Peppa, and why I know all the dance motions Rob Base's "Joy and Pain". She always has good music on in the car when she's driving her girls to soccer, gymnastics, girls scouts and karate. She makes sure they get floors seats to Taylor Swift and even works her swagger to meet Taylor's mom in the crowd! A few weeks ago, I gave a tutorial on how to do a letter painting for my other sister's "Yo, Yo, Yo, Yo Baby Pop" painting, so you can check out the instructions there. I wanted to make something equally fabulous for Jen, so I took another iconic line from Salt 'n Peppa for her painting.



Happy Birthday, Jen & Mike! Keep raising those girls with good science and good music!


If you enjoyed these crafts, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Donut Day Paper Craft

It's Donut Day! One of my favorite days of the year!  I love any good reason to have a crazy snack, and we go for the craziest donuts around- Italian Crispelles!  They're HUGE, can easily feed 2 or 3 people! But we each get our own to snack on for a few days.



All day long on Facebook, you can share a picture of your donuts! Just click here to be redirected to the Mom Hearts Pinot Facebook page and Show Us Your Donuts!

But you all knew I couldn't do a holiday without having a crafty activity, right? I came up with this one on the fly- Paper Donuts! Simply cut out some donut circles and let the kiddos decorate with crayons, confetti sprinkles (I just cut small squares of colored paper), and whatever other materials you want to throw in there!

I taped a paper donut to the table so the Meatball could participate in the fun, too!

Happy Donut Day!

Like what you've read here? You can follow me on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot !

Monday, March 3, 2014

#Moms4Moms Day!

A few weeks ago, the lovely ladies over at CT Working Moms compiled a beautiful photo essay, End The Mommy Wars, in which they highlighted differences in parenting choices and stressed acceptance, love and understanding without judgement. My mommy friends and I got together and did our own End The Mommy Wars photo series, as we thought there were some, er, important topics missed in the first series. To our surprise, the CT Working Moms caught wind of our post and they loved it! They invited me to share a wonderful event they are hosting in conjunction with The Bump- March 4 has been declared Moms4Moms Day! All day long, we'll be celebrating judgement-free motherhood on social media!  You can participate by snapping a selfie while holding a sign with a positive message for other moms. Post your pic on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter using the hashtag #moms4moms - you can even get your other mom friends involved and have fun with it!

It's easy to think that we women wage these "Mommy Wars" because we are "gossipy" and "judgmental". But I don't believe that. I think women are at a major crossroads. Our roles have evolved exponentially in the past century, especially compared to the roles of men. It has us all feeling a little insecure. 

Do people think I'm lazy if I stay home? Do people think I neglect my children if I go to work? If I do a little of both, do I make enough time for my husband? Do I make enough time for me? Am I giving birth the best way? Feeding my children the best way? Am I a valuable contributor to society?

The war is in our own heads, ladies! We need to all take a deep breath, stop trying to defend what we do and give ourselves our own pat on the back because we are all acting out of love. And that's what really matters!


Today in the Senate, there are 100 members and only 20 of them are women. In House of Representatives, there are 435 members, and only 80 of them are women. In contrast, the latest census numbers state that women make up 50.8% of the United States population.

Ladies, we need to fight a different kind of battle! It does not matter if you're pro-choice or pro-life, if you're for or against hospitals supplying formula for newborns, if you think healthcare should be covering contraception or not, and on and on and on. The fact of the matter is these are women's issues, and women are not adequately represented in the highest levels of our government. The majority of the people voting on these crucial women's issues are men! Our insecurities stem from these issues not being addressed as we women need them to be.

We have to unite as mothers, as women, to ensure our needs are served. We have to vote every chance we can, not just in presidential elections, but also for all primaries and every November.

As women, as mothers, we owe that much to our children. And that is something we can all agree on.


Like what you've read here? You can follow me on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot !

Friday, February 28, 2014

The thing

This past week, a student in Philly was the subject of national news when an adult contracted by her school yanked a sweater vest out of her mouth, pulling 3 baby teeth along with it.  The little girl has special needs, although the story does not indicate exactly what her disorder is.

But it doesn't matter to me.

I made the mistake of reading the comments below the article.  I don't know why I did that.  Only assholes post comments under those news articles.  It was a shitstorm of posts on how this child doesn't have special needs, she's just a "brat" who is "defiant" and "can't follow directions." I could copy and paste some of those moronic comments here, but I can't even bring myself to go back and reread them.

Incredibly ironically, I read about this story last Wednesday night, and earlier that very same day the Meatball's Occupational Therapist was here to work with us.  She just happened to tell us about a certain sensory issue in which people chew on their clothing.  She was explaining how the Meatball needs extra sensory input sometimes and he clenches his fists and jaw in response to this need.  Many kids need to chew gum or their sleeves to release the tension.  Again, it was totally ironic that we had that conversation and then later that night this particular story was on the news.

So we happen to have a kid who has a "thing".  Meaning, we can't put a name on it, but the Meatball has a way of learning that isn't conducive to present day societal norms.  He doesn't have a physical abnormality or anything outward in his appearance that indicates his struggles.  So assholes out there in the real world are going to assume things about him based on his behavior.

And you know what?  I'm one of those assholes.  I've worked with people who I thought were "weird".  I recounted stories about encounters with strange people at the supermarket.  I have bitched about my day being inconvenienced by someone who is an odd social bird.

In the years before I had children, I ran a summer camp at an art center.  One day, a dad walked in with a registration form in one hand and an Epi-pen in the other.  His daughter has a severe peanut allergy, he told me.  Someone on staff would need to administer the Epi-pen should she have an allergic reaction.  This small non-profit community art center could not afford to have a nurse on staff, so that staff member would have to be me.  I hesitated a little too long in my response to this dad.  I had never had any medical training and I had never been approached with something of this nature as Camp Director.  

"By law you can't turn her away!"  He practically shouted at me, "She has a right to go to camp here and you have a responsibility to make it a safe environment for her!"  

I threw my hands up- Whoa Whoa Whoa!  Of course we would make it safe for her, I assured him.  I reluctantly got a brief lesson on how to use the Epi-pen, which, to my horror, was basically "thrust into her chest".  Anyone who is close to me knows that I am pretty squeamish when it comes to anything like this.  I cringe when the hubs just cracks his knuckles in my presence.  Later at home, I complained to Dave.  Why wouldn't he just send her to a camp that has a nurse on staff?  Of all the camps, why did he have to choose our tiny, broke, camp that couldn't even afford proper air conditioning in most classrooms?

What an asshole I was.  What an arrogant jerk.  Because now here I am, the mom of a kid with a "thing" that people aren't going to understand.  He might be in school someday and need something intangible that people don't think is necessary or don't want to be bothered with.  He's going to grow up into an adult out there in the world and maybe have some "quirks" that make people think he's odd.  He might not fit into the social constructs in life.  He's not "average".  He's not "the norm".  

I read the comments posted below that news story and I want to comment back to each and every one of them and educate them personally.  "She has sensory issues, you asshole.  She's not chewing on her clothes because she's a brat.  She's doing it because she needs to do it.  Because her body needs to place itself in space.  The sensory issue she has is unnerving and uncomfortable.  Her jaw needs an outlet."

Being the parent of a kid with a "thing" makes you hyper aware of everyone you interact with.  There's that dude in line ahead of me at the small Italian market who is temperamental because the prosciutto is sliced too thick, and he's becoming upset and getting loud about it.  Yea, maybe he's having a bad day, and maybe he's just a dick.  But maybe, maybe, he has something else going on... something a little more complex than that. 

I know whatever this is that's going on with the Meatball is something that could require me to advocate for him possibly more than once in his life.  I might find myself in the sweltering un-air conditioned office of some ignorant summer camp director, my sweaty and nervous palms clenching a registration form as I demand in a high pitched voice "He has rights!"

I know someone who has been going through something with her child that she needs to advocate for, and she once said to me "I know she's different, and I know I can't make everyone see that she needs these things.  I just need to teach her to be her own advocate and to grow thick skin.  But it makes me mad that my kid has to have thicker skin than a lot of other kids because most people don't get it."



But that's the reality.  Those who get it, get it.  Those who don't, might be able to be educated, and they'll get it with time.  And those who don't and can't be bothered with being educated on the matter.... well, I guess they'll just keep being assholes, won't they?


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