Sunday, November 30, 2014

Avonlea Newborn Pictures

We had pictures taken at Picture This in Sioux Center. I brought Avonlea in the morning for her session and then we took the boys later in the afternoon to try a few sibling shots. We had one uncooperative Cohen but at least we got several cute shots of Avonlea! Here are a few of my favorites (click to view larger):

She didn't stay sleepy for long, but that was okay because I like it better with her eyes open anyway. This quilt is one we received from Adam's Aunt Carol just the day before photos were taken and I love the colors! The photographer had the perfect wrap to go with it and these are my favorites of the lot:

As I said, the sibling photos didn't turn out as I'd hoped. Let's just say this next one was supposed to have some vintage wooden bats in it, but here's a word of advice: don't put a giant bat in front of a 2-year old and expect him to sit and smile instead of swing it around endangering everyone in his path. The bats never even made it into a picture (and Cohen didn't make it into some of them either!)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Toy Room Wall - Kids Artwork Display

I've pinned a ton of ideas on how to organize/decorate a toy room as well as ways to display kids artwork. My 5-year-old makes a lot of crafts and projects at daycare, preschool, and sometimes church, and our fridge gets pretty full. Plus, some of them aren't held up well with magnets. I also wanted a way to add some interest to the big blank wall in our toy room downstairs.  I've been gathering "supplies" for a few weeks and finally decided to spend some time working on the project while Avonlea is still sleeping quite a bit during the day. It was a bit of a trial-and-error, but here are a few notes on what I did.

I bought 3 bulletin boards off our local Facebook swap group and thrift store (spent a total of $8 for all 3). Some of them had some pen marks/fading, but I knew I'd be covering them anyway. I originally intended to paint the frames white and just fold and pin the fabric to the cork part, like this, but my poor spray-paint job and low-quality frames led me to just cover the entire thing with fabric like this. I think this is the easiest way to go and creates a clean, uniform look if you have more than one board. 
Three bulletin boards of various sizes.
I bought some modern-print fabric at our local craft store, just large enough to wrap around the frames. I ironed the fabric to get the fold-marks out and cut them to size (leave at least an inch to wrap to the back) and then used spray-adhesive on the cork area to stick the fabric on. Then, I turned them over and wrapped the fabric around to the back, using a hot-glue gun (on low temp setting) to adhere the fabric to the back. Then, I turned it back over to the front and used cheap white thumbtacks (from Walmart) about 1.5" apart all the way around the cork area. The tutorial used uphostery nails, but my white tacks worked just fine since I wasn't going for such an upscale look. This keeps the fabric secured to the front of the board. Later, Adam added hangers to the backs of the ones with wood frames and we ended up using Command brand velcro strips to hang up the one with a plastic frame.
Three bulletin boards covered in fabric.
Besides the three bulletin boards for displaying artwork, I found an old frame, painted it white, then covered the cardboard insert inside with an orange print fabric.  Then, I cut the letter B (for our last name) out of sticky-backed white felt leftover from another project and placed it in the middle. I replaced the glass and had another decorative element! Originally I meant for this piece to allow for dry-erase markers to write on the glass, but I think we'll wait for the boys to be a bit older and more marker-responsible!

I also had a large oil-drip pan that was perhaps my first Pinterest project and I wanted to get it back up on the wall for Cohen to play magnets with. We ended up screwing it into the wall horizontally so it was good for his height. I used some leftover fabric, folded the edges under and ironed them down, then used spray-adhesive to stick it to the oil pan to cover the imprinted logo.

We had a little barn wall hanging from Adam's grandpa and I had the idea to hang it on the wall in front of a fabric-covered piece of cardboard cut in the same shape. This way the boys can take the frame down and play with it on the floor (sometimes they like to lay if flat and use it as little cow pens), but they also like to set up little farm animals in it while upright. We nailed the fabric-covered cardboard right to the wall and then placed two long nails for the barn roof to rest on.

The clock is one we had hanging in our kitchen in our last house but since I'd found some orange fabric to match, it worked perfectly in the design.

Toy room wall.
We added a few of Ryan's recent preschool projects to the bulletin boards, farm animals to the barn, and magnets to the oil pan, and are now ready for 2 boys (and eventually a little girl) to have a great place to play and display their projects!

A few tips:

  • I experimented with the layout by making shapes in Microsoft Word in proportional sizes (i.e. a 24"x18" board was a 2.4"x1.8" rectangle in Word. This allowed me to move things around and add/subtract elements from the mix. It's important to have an idea how you are going to hang things so you put the fabric on the right way (e.g. the Chevron would look funny vertical). 
  • After everything was finished, I taped together a bunch of sheets of thin craft paper and laid the whole thing out on the floor. Then, I marked where each frame and nailhole went. We taped the whole thing up on the wall, then put in the nails and tore the paper off last.  This didn't go perfectly, but was a good starting point. We did use a leveling yardstick many time to make sure things were level and spaced well.
  • I intentionally hung the bulletin boards higher than my kids can reach yo keep the pins out of reach. I also intend to have a "put one up, take one down" policy so we don't become over cluttered and to help kids learn to enjoy things for a while but be able to let it go when the time comes.
  • I loved the idea of adding a wooden letter to the boards, designating one for each child, but since most of the projects are Ryan's, I'll just keep them generic for now.

Thanksgiving 2014

We have so much to be thankful for this year...three healthy kids, great jobs (and maternity leave :), wonderful family, a warm house, and a safe community. For some reason, the birth of Avonlea really made me realize in a raw way how truly lucky we are. I don't want to take any of these things for granted!

We decided to stick to a "1 family event/day" rule this year so we spread our Thanksgiving celebrations out over a few days and it was a great idea because we were able to enjoy each event and still felt like we had a holiday "break" and time to be together.

On Tuesday night, my dad's side of family gathered at the Pizza Ranch and it was great to see everyone again. There were lots of kids (12 of the great-grandkids) so it was great that it was Kid's Night and I think hands-down my cousin Carter was the most popular with the little ones.
Hudson, Gramm, Ryan and Davis with Carter
Everyone had their fill and we were thankful to have the party room where the kids could be contained. They had fun playing and coloring after they were finished with all their pizza, pudding and ice cream (do they eat anything else?)
Jackson, Hudson, Saylor and Ryan coloring paper (and their hands?) with markers
Cohen was happy to find someone his size to play with too!
Cohen and Korver
He got plenty of time with Grandma and Grandpa too.

On Wednesday, Adam had school and then we all attended the joint worship service at our church at night.

On Thursday morning, we got to just hang around the house and the boys put up one of the trees.  We headed to Hull after naps and Ryan got to go sledding behind the Kubota with Saylor.

The temperature was in the teens and I think my dad was pretty cold after 2 rounds of getting the Kubota from the other side of town and giving rides outside, but it was nice to have our first holiday where he didn't have to run off to the farm to do chores!

Adam also ended up giving some rides to Ryan and Saylor.

It was fun for the boys to play with Saylor and Collyns and we once again attempted a picture.

Avonlea was looking cute as a cupcake and she had plenty of volunteers to hold her!

Great Grandma
On Friday, we put up the other Christmas tree and a few decorations and enjoyed having the day to spend at home again. Adam did a little "Black Friday" shopping at Bomgaars and we did some online shopping, but the only crazy thing he did was go to the corner gas station at 3:30am because they were selling gas for $1.99/gallon from 3-4am. He figured he was up anyway because Cohen had been up and he was proud of filling up the truck for only $40!

Friday evening, Adam's parents, brother, and niece came over for pizza (Double Points Day, y'all!) and we enjoyed a relaxing evening together.

The rest of the weekend allowed us time to just be at home and get a few projects done (hopefully I'll post about that later) and we were grateful for the low-stress time together!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Headband Holder

I quickly realized that with a little girl in the house, we would need a place to store all her headbands besides being thrown in her sock drawer. I found a few ideas on Pinterest and decided to give this tutorial on making a headband display and storage container out of an oatmeal container. (I just skipped the pedestal part because I didn't want to invest a lot/any money into this project.)

Instead of buying fabric, I picked out a maternity shirt that I didn't even wear this time around. It had stretchy black fabric and a pink ribbon threaded through it. I figured this would be perfect for flower clips that weren't already attached to a headband.

I cut out a piece of fabric and painted Mod Podge on the container to attach it.
I followed the tutorial to snip the ends and hot-glue them to the inside.  I had to improvise a little on the lid since after I added fabric to the lid and container, the lid would no longer fit. Fortunately, I have a box of "misfit" tupperware containers and I happened to have a Gladware lid that fit perfectly, so I just glued fabric to the top of that lid and then hot-glued more of the pink ribbon around the top.

Adding headbands is what made it pretty!

Back view:

Considering I have about 20 headbands already, this didn't hold too many on the outside, but at least I have a place to store all of them on the inside and just keep a few on display!

Avonlea has a few headbands that fit her little head now (a pack of 4 we got from Aunt Kim and a pack of 3 polka-dot bows I picked up at Dollar General!) and as she grows she'll have many more options! She only wears headbands if we're out and about, like at church, or in pictures and I've quickly learned to take them off before we go anywhere in the car because they've slipped down over her eyes and made her very crabby!

I have to admit, it's pretty fun having some girly accessories to play with!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Avonlea: 1 week old

Loves sleeping in her Rock and Play!

Ryan snuggles

First trip to church (slept through the whole thing)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Going home!

We waited around on Sunday for Avonlea to get checked by the doctor so we could be released. She was released at 6 lbs. 9oz. (lost 5oz. from birth) but was really healthy and eating well.  We tried to take a family picture when the boys visited in the morning, but they were less than cooperative, so the only shot I have are these sweet ones of Cohen.

Leaving the hospital!

The first 2 days at home, Adam was still home from school, so all 5 of us were home together. It made it a little more difficult to rest and recover, but it was nice to have some time together as a family. The boys did a great job adjusting and love showing off their sister. We were also grateful for some meals brought in by our church and work to make cooking less stressful the first few days.

Here are some pictures from Avonlea's first week at home.

She looks so tiny on the changing table!

This looked familiar for some reason...
,,,,Ryan at the same age.