Earth Day Craft: Recycled Robot

I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought that making a robot out of recycled items we had around the house would be a fun family project.

Here’s what we used for our robot:

  • 8 tin cans
  • 1 large kiwi plastic container
  • 1 shoe box – bottom and lid
  • 1 paper towel roll, cut in half
  • 2 circle magnets
  • 1 magnetic strip
  • Alphabet magnets
  • 1 egg carton
  • 4 screws
  • Plastic stuffing
  • Tape

It was really interesting helping the kids and Daddy O. figure out how to best build our robot.  I am a fan of excessive taping of any homemade project, but we were having problems with the cans staying in place. Daddy O. decided to drill holes into the bottoms of the cans to screw them together vertically. This also helped attach the head, body and feet of the robot, so it was very stable. The kids helped with taping the cardboard tube arms on. Big sister invented the control panel, using the lid of the box and part of an egg carton.

Here’s our finished product in all its glory!

Here's our robot and "control panel"

Here’s our robot and egg shell carton “control panel” in the lid of the shoebox

How I would change it up for next time – The flat magnets don’t stick terribly well to the round cans, and we were forced to spell words vertically vs. horizontally.  I would flip the box next time and perhaps have a bigger tin can torso, so we could do more with the magnets we have.

All in all this was a fun, family activity that is easy and eco-friendly.  Happy Earth Day!

Childproof Christmas Decor and Crafts

As I decorated this Christmas, I broke out the same Scrap Fabric Tree that is now 2 years old! It’s hard to believe it survived a few holidays and being in storage. These were some easy crafts to make with little kids.  Enjoy!

At 15 months old, my son is just at that age where we really need to watch him to make sure he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t.  He really is quite good, but we had a few incidents with him pulling down our Christmas stockings (and holders) that were placed on a bookshelf, where he routinely will pull books off of the shelf to “read.” This led me to re-do some of our Christmas decorating to make it more childproof.  First and foremost, I moved the stockings up to higher ground.

Second, I created a kid-friendly tree out of felt. I probably spent less than $4 on several sheets of felt from Wal-mart.  I just made it up as I went along, gluing pieces of felt to a paper grocery bag (probably could have cut it closer to the tree’s branches), and cut up ornaments while practicing shapes with my 3 year old.

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree – so easy to make & was fun for them to play with. (Though I was the one putting the ornaments back on constantly!)

I have been taking down some of our everyday pictures hanging on our walls, and replacing it with holiday decor. This was another project I did with my daughter, gluing scraps of fabric to scrapbook paper.  An avid quilting relative gave us these scraps, and Christmas time was the perfect inspiration for this project!

Scrap Fabric Tree picture

Scrap Fabric Tree picture – still hangs up 2 years later in our home!

Last, but not least, we ended up with a smaller Christmas tree than last year, so we had many more leftover ornaments that did not have a place on our tree this year.  I saw this pin and was inspired to display some of my own ornaments on our chandelier.

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

I also have made some of my own cardboard Christmas trees that are not nearly as beautiful as the ones on the link I provided.  They ARE, however, a lot of fun for my 3 year old, who uses them as pretend trumpets!  Here is another link to a Christmas tree project that I thought looked cool. The framed ornaments also looked like something worth trying, but I haven’t found the right materials yet.  If you have any childproof or child-friendly crafts, please share! Happy decorating & happy crafting!

Fly on the Wall – Do Books Take Baths?

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 16 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall Post

I feel like I’ve been buzzing around a lot lately with family activities, birthdays, passing along baby gear, and not a lot of blogging.  I have been having fun with my own side business in addition to my part time job. Basically, I get to prepare / eat amazing food, drink wine and help prepare some freezer meals while I work. Read more about my job here.

Back to Fly on the Wall….

Bye Bye Baby Gear

I had a lot of gear from my kids that wasn’t needed by friends or family having kids, so I found a local charity for single moms who took a wide range of donations. I loaded my car with a highchair, bouncer, jumper, infant bathtub among other things, and buckled little brother into his seat. On the way to the donation center, he said, “I call baby toys a bunch of junk!” And “There’s a bunch of junk in the back.”

Hey bud, you used that junk!! I hope it helps another family too!

Music to my Ears

Big sister: Mom, can I wash the floors? I need a bucket.

Mom / Dad: Sure!

Big sister: C’mon Mom, help us. It’s fun.

Me: No, that’s okay honey. You’re doing great.

Big sister: You have to do it like Cinderella does!

Me thinking – we need to watch that movie more often!! Our house would be so clean!

This wasn't exactly said, but it was written, which counts for Fly on the Wall.

This wasn’t exactly said, but it was written exactly how big sister would say it, which counts for Fly on the Wall.

Playing the Game

When getting dressed, my son will say, “Wait, let me check and see if it’s size 3,” because he is 3 years old.  Upon seeing a 2 on the tag (some of which still fit him), he’ll choose something else. Daddy O. responded one time, “Do you want to see a 3?”  When he said yes, Daddy O. took a sharpie to the shirt & turned the 2 into a 3.  Problem solved & shirt worn! We’ve done this to a few of his shirts now. I write more about that here.

changing little brother's shirt to 3T

Play the game while getting dressed – a new size!

Do Books Take Baths?

My mom gave me some old books from my own childhood and even some from when my dad was a kid.  My son especially loves Grandpa’s train book! When talking about the books, I said, “It’s an old book from when mom was little. It has old book smell.” Big sister replied, “Pweh! Do books take baths?”

My Birthday

My daughter was born one week after my birthday, so I’m always focused on her birthday party when my own rolls around.  Still, we had some fun celebrating my special day as a family.  My colleagues bought me cake & a balloon at work and my husband bought me chocolate covered cannoli from our local Italian bakery. YUM! He put candles in the cannoli and he & big sister sang me Happy Birthday.  Little brother wasn’t singing at all.  When they sang, “How old are you?” he chimed in, “I’m not old.”  So true, so true my little man!

mama O. and my birthday cake

Sweet birthday treats waiting for me in the office

Melt my Heart

Big sister is into coloring and making art projects.  She has so many of them that I often encourage sending them to our family.  Sometimes she decides without me asking who will be the lucky recipient of her artwork. For one particular piece she recently said, “Can we send this leaf up to heaven?”  My reply, “Who do you want to give it to?” Big sister said, “Great Grandma.”

At this point I got a little choked up because she mentioned a grandma who passed away when I was still in high school. She’s seen pictures of her and we’ve talked about her. I WISH I would have just said, “sure, we can send it up to her. Let me get an envelope,” but instead I said, ” Sweetie, you haven’t even met her. She would love you very much. I think Great Grandma can see this beautiful leaf you made already.” Just precious! How do kids come up with this stuff?!

Random Comments

Ahhh…I had some Fly on the Wall “memo” saved in my phone.  Some mysterious phone monster deleted them. I think one gem was from my daughter, as we were driving to Illinois, she declared, “Someday I’ll name my kid Illinois.”  Okay, honey!

Big sister: My poop was like an eel turd.
Me & Daddy O.: What?!
Big Sis: my poop looked like an eel.
Wow! Thanks!

As I’m pulling out of a parking lot, little brothers reminds me in his sweet voice, “You’re not in a demo derby!”

Little Brother: When I get big, I’m going to hunt bees.

Me to wild kids: it’s not wrestle-mania kids!
Big sister: what? Wrestlevania?
Yes, not that either kids!

Big sister: The sky looks like a maze of clouds. (such a good description for that day)!

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com                          Baking In A Tornado

http://www.therowdybaker.com                                  The Rowdy Baker

http://www.justalittlenutty.com/                                Just A Little Nutty

http://themomisodes.com                                          The Momisodes

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/                          Spatulas on Parade

http://thesadderbutwisergirl.com                                   The Sadder But Wiser Girl

http://followmehome.shellybean.com                          Follow me home

http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com/                        Stacy Sews and Schools

http://www.menopausalmom.com/                          Menopausal Mother

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com                                 Battered Hope

http://dinoheromommy.com/                         Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com                   Someone Else’s Genius

http://www.crumpetsandbollocks.com                     Crumpets and Bollocks

http://www.juiceboxconfession.com                          Juicebox Confession

http://www.risanye.com                                              Risa Nye

Could this be the Summer of the Long Leash?

We’ve been having cookouts with family and friends lately, and it’s been lovely to dine al fresco and enjoy delightful company.  During and after such fun gatherings, I couldn’t help but notice how (relatively) well-behaved my kids were.  They managed to play nicely and still take some time to actually sit down and eat a meal without too much prodding on my part.  I was able to sit back more and observe more instead of being a hands-on, right-by-their-side-at-all-times mom. Such experiences makes me wonder if this could be the summer of the long leash…or at minimum, a slightly longer leash that last year.

Several younger, and adorable cookout guests under 18 months really helped illustrate the parenting and supervision required for little ones versus my preschool and 4K aged kids.  Long gone are the stages of toddling around uncertainly and slightly unpredictable behavior.  My kids ARE getting older and ARE learning how to listen and follow rules. YES! At last! It’s rewarding as a parent to be able to sit back and give them more independence, while being able to hang with the adults and actually have a longer and less interrupted conversation.

The summers of more hands-on, physically demanding parenting are behind us. The “summers of breastfeeding” my two kids seems like EONS ago! Last summer then became the “summer where I didn’t have to whip out a boob to breastfeed.” It’s the little victories, right?!

As I learned from a dear friend, and wrote about in Wise Words from a Super Mom,

“As your children grow, they become less physically demanding, and more psychologically demanding.”

These words could not be more true, and I can’t believe that I was writing about parenting getting easier even last summer!! Looking back, we’ve come so far as a family (and me personally as a mom). It’s one wild, rewarding journey that I’m so honored and blessed to be on as a mom.

Stay with me readers until next summer’s longer-leash post!

More than just ONE Day for Mama O!

I have to admit that I enjoyed several special treats over an extended Mother’s Day! It was a relatively quiet weekend for us, just staying close to home, but we packed in a lot of family fun. Here are the highlights:

Saturday morning we headed to our favorite nature center for a family hike.  We FINALLY enjoyed beautiful spring weather with temps hitting the low 70’s.  Every time we hike these trails the kids are able to hike farther and discover new things along the way. It’s fun to share in their excitement and wonder of nature.

going for a family hike Mother's Day weekend

Our view from the side of the lake and energetic hugs from my kids!

After enjoying the trails, we ventured back to the nature center to check out the animals (snake, turtles, rats) and relax in the rocking chairs.  My kids decided to page through books they found on the coffee table.  I gladly picked up a magazine and leafed through it as well. It was quite peaceful for about 10 whole minutes!

reading at the nature center

Post-hike: My little readers

We went home for some downtime and got ready for our family date night – the first time we had taken the kids to a Japanese restaurant, my favorite date night location. (I also write about my memories of being an intern at a Japanese company for one summer in this post and this one too.) Both kids loved the edamame.  While they munched, I discussed the best roll options with Daddy O. – the Fujiyama roll, Happy Roll, something with Unagi (eel) and maybe a Philly Roll.  Little brother chimed in, “Do they have a Tootsie Roll?” So adorable!  “No, honey, not at this restaurant.”

I ordered the kids a Katsu-don (breaded chicken over a bowl of rice), and it went over pretty well.  I was impressed with their willingness to try new things for the most part – (my four year old was a champ) and had fun feeding them a few more bites at the end of the meal with chopsticks. I can foresee a return trip to this place! YAY!

We walked down the strip mall (real high end dining, right?!) to a frozen yogurt place for dessert. This place was also a hit!  I especially loved the futuristic seating and backdrop – perfect for my impromptu (and obligatory) mother’s day photo shoot.

fun with pictures at the frozen yogurt joint

How cute are we?! Isn’t this the best backdrop?

Sunday brought more delicious food – chocolate covered cannoli – at the Italian bakery and hot ham and rolls that we ate on our back porch. I was treated to more good things – being outside, gardening, playing, and taking a nap in the afternoon while watching The Little Mermaid.

On Monday I assumed it was business as usual, as both Daddy O. and I headed to work. I picked the kids up from school and was surprised by their beautiful presents (that were left at school over the weekend).

Mama O's Mother's Day Gifts

Mama O’s Mother’s Day Gifts

I love the cards, handprint flowers, painted pot, and the small jar of bath salts (not pictured here).  It was really sweet – and kudos to their teachers for coming up with these projects!

As with any holiday, I try not to get too hung up on the actual day itself. I’m all about “extended celebrations” like my mother’s day weekend because there’s always something surprising or sweet that seems to happen each and every day with kids.  They are my life’s greatest blessing. How honored I am to share this crazy beautiful life with them!

How was your Mother’s Day?  Hope it was happy and full of great moments!