Monday, August 31, 2015

We have a kindergartner!

Oliver started kindergarten last week! I had a lot of anxiety built up about him going. I worried how he'd do being away from the house all day, I worried how he'd do eating lunch at school and if he'd get hungry, and I worried how he'd do not knowing any of the kids in his class. I didn't know any of the teachers at his school, and hoped he'd get an understanding teacher but one who wouldn't mind telling him exactly what to do and how to behave if he wasn't doing it. Of course, I also worried about the change at home, how Jo and I would do with Oliver out of the house all day.

Here are some photos of his first day:

I'm probably going to jinx everything by saying this, but it's gone really well so far. I'm absolutely thrilled with his teacher and his school, and Oliver has amazed me with how well he's made the transition to going to school all day. I was picturing him coming home in tears from exhaustion and not wanting to go to school in the morning, but he seems to really like it! He's tired when school gets out, but he's able to handle it. He tells me school is fun, and that's really the most important thing to me. I don't worry about his academics, at least not this year. I want him to learn to like school, understand how school works, and learn to listen to his teacher. I feel like, if we can get those things figured out, the academics will come.

Here's my little Star Wars fan on his second day of school:


And day 3, walking in the rain like such a trooper!

At home, the transition has gone OK. It took a few days for me to get over most of the anxiety of him going to school. I cleaned a lot! Jo and I have kept busy with mom meet-ups and story time at the library. On the first day that Oliver was at school, Jo declared she was going downstairs to play with Oliver's LEGOs.

I think we're all going to do just fine. Here's to a good 2015-2016 school year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Guitar Diaper Cake


My sister is helping a friend plan a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law, and she asked me if I'd help with some decorations. I love the chance to be creative! The theme is kind of a doo-wop/rock-in-roll kind of thing. I found a lot of great ideas online by searching under a Rock-a-Bye Baby Shower.

One of my favorite ideas came from Pinterest (where else?). I love diaper cakes because, I figure, if I'm going to spend money on decorations, I'd like the decorations to be something they can use for the baby! Someone pinned a stunning diaper cake by litmeevents.com that includes a stuffed animal playing a drum set with a guitar, all made out of diapers and other baby items. Here's a link to that pin, which will take you to the website to check it out. It's $165, and while I think that is a fair price for the work and all the stuff included, I wanted to figure out how to make something similar for less. 

I searched the internet and found a guitar diaper cake tutorial on YouTube by Thom's Crafts and Treats. It's a great resource to check out if you want to make this diaper cake. I made a few changes because I wanted to incorporate a few more baby items. For example, instead of pipe cleaners, I used baby spoons for the tuners.

For the guitar I made, here are the supplies I used:

1 34-pack of newborn diapers
1 pack of onesies - I used a 5 pack of white Gerber onesies
1 baby blanket
1 pack of baby spoons
1 car window shade for baby (I wanted to choose something off their registry that was in a long and narrow box to support the guitar neck, and this item fit the bill! You can use something else in a similar-shaped box). - OPTIONAL
Rubber bands
1 roll of fabric ribbon 1-2" wide 
1 roll of decorative masking tape - I found this in Target's business supply section
Wrapping paper
Clear tape
Yarn or thin ribbon
Cardboard

I started out following the instructions from Thom's Crafts and Treats. I used a cake pan as my mold, and I used 20 newborn diapers for the first part.

It took a little bit of work to figure out how to get the diapers in a good spiral! I used 3 rubber bands to secure it, and then I removed the cake pan mold.


I'd gotten a 5 pack of onesies. I used 0-3 month since that was listed on their registry, but you could use larger.

Hmmm. I kind of tucked and folded the onesie down, and then used more rubber bands to hold its shape.

I then made another, smaller circle using the remaining 14 diapers.

Then I tucked both of those circles into another onesie. At this stage, I'd used all 34 diapers, a ton of rubber bands, and 3 of the 5 onesies:


I then tucked the arms down and taped around the whole "cake" using the decorative masking tape (I really liked this stuff). The sides don't have to look perfect at this stage. There will be a blanket going around the edges. Mostly, I just wanted to keep the shape of the guitar.


Here's the blanket I'd picked up from their registry. Super soft!

The newborn diapers I used weren't that tall. In order to fold the blanket to the proper width, I had to fold it in half, and then into thirds.

I wrapped the blanket around the guitar and secured it with tape along the sides and a rubber band in the middle to help create its shape. If your blanket doesn't go all the way around, that's OK. The neck of the guitar will hide any gap at the top.

For the neck of the guitar, Thom cut out a piece of cardboard, wrapped it in a receiving blanket, and then used ribbon to create the frets. I thought it would be more fun to pick out a gift for the baby instead of using cardboard, so I went through their registry to find something with a long shape. I ended up going with this window shade.  

Instead of using a receiving blanket, I thought it would be fun to make some leg warmers with guitar frets, since I crochet and have plenty of extra yarn. Here's the pattern to those guitar fret leg warmers.


When I finished the leg warmers, I realized they wouldn't fit over the window shade. Grrrr. I felt a little frustrated that my idea of using the window shade didn't work, and I ended up sliding the leg warmers over a plain piece of plain cardboard anyway. I wrapped the window shade in wrapping paper and secured the leg warmers to the top of that package. So, I didn't really need the shade at all, but it added a little more support to the neck and made it easier to attach the head and tuners to the guitar neck.


Next, I wanted  to work on the sound hole. Thom used a piece of black foam board for the sound hole. I ended up using the black plastic lid to my coffee can. Upcycle! I cut two slits in the circle, wide enough for my ribbon to go through.


Then, I started work on the strings. I cut 6 pieces of gray yarn for the strings. I decided to tape them directly to the "guitar" using the decorative masking tape for the bridge of the guitar. Each gray yarn string ran from the tape up the guitar neck, and then I taped them to the cardboard that was inside the leg warmers.



Then came the head and tuners. I wrapped a piece of cardboard with my wrapping paper. Then, I opened the baby spoons and arranged them like the tuners and taped them into place. I probably should have gotten a package of 6 spoons, but oh well. 


I taped the head of the guitar with the spoons to the window shade package that I'd wrapped. I secured that to the neck of the guitar. I wrapped my ribbon around the guitar body, hiding the rubber band, and then I wove it into the slits I cut in my coffee-lid sound hole. I tied as pretty of a bow as I could and secured it with tape. I tied a second bow where the neck of the guitar met the head in order to hide all of the tape I had to use! I needed a little more support for the area where the neck met the body of the guitar, so I wrapped up the remaining 2 onesies in a long box, and used that package for added support. Here's a picture that shows the guitar pieced together:


And here it is, all finished and ready to go! My kids keep asking me if the baby gets to open it. ;-)



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Guitar Frets Baby Leg Warmers


I wanted to make some guitar fret leg warmers for part of a guitar-shaped diaper cake that I'm working on for a baby shower. I couldn't find anything with a guitar fret pattern, so I finally decided to just create my own. I used a worsted weight yarn. I also used an H hook, but my stitches are always tight, so a G hook would probably work for most people

Chain 6 in brown or tan to begin top ribbing.
Row 1: Starting from the second chain from hook, sc across (5 stitches). Chain 1 and turn.
Row 2: In back loops only, sc across (5 stitches). Chain 1 and turn.
Row 3-29: Repeat row 2, working in back loops only, to create ribbing. You can adjust the number of rows as needed to make the leg warmers wider or narrower.
Row 30: Work the final row as the previous 29 rows, except you'll be crocheting row 30 together with row 1 (be careful not to twist). This will stitch the whole thing together in the circle.

Row 1 for leg warmer frets:
On the bottom of the circle, attach your white yarn. Chain 1, and sc in the same stitch. Sc around. Slip stitch into the first stitch and change yarn to brown (30 stitches).
Row 2: Chain 1, and sc into same stitch. SC around, and slip stitch into the first stitch (30 Stitches).
Row 3-30: Repeat row 2. On the first leg warmer, I made a white stripe on rows 1, 10, 18, and 25. On the second leg warmer, I made a white strip on rows 1, 6, 11, 15, 19, 23, 26, and 29. (30 Stitches).
Row 31: Using white yarn in the final row of the leg warmer, chain 1, sc in same stitch. SC in next 7 stitches. SC next 2 stitches together. SC in next 8 stitches. SC next 2 stitches together. SC in next 8 stitches. SC final 2 stitches together. Join with slip stitch. (27 stitches).

Attach brown yarn to one of the white loops on the bottom to begin bottom ribbing. Chain 5.
Row 1: Starting from the second chain from hook, sc across (4 stitches). Slip stitch back into the next white stitch from row 31 of the main body of the leg warmer. Slip stitch again into the next white stitch from row 31. Chain 1 and turn.
Row 2: Working in back loops only, SC across the 4 stitches of row 1. Chain 1 and turn. (4 stitches).
Row 3: Working in back loops only, SC across. (4 stitches). Slip stitch into each of the next 2 white stitches from row 31. Chain 1 and turn.
Rows 4-26: Repeat rows 2-3.
Row 27: On final row, work in back loops only and SC across while also joining the last row to row 1, completing the ribbing.

Using black yarn, add knots or cross stitches to create the finger markers between the frets. Weave in ends.

When I was finished, I pulled the warmers over a piece of cardboard to create the neck of a guitar for the diaper cake.

I then attached it to the diaper cake. For the diaper cake, I watched Thom's Crafts and Treats instructions on YouTube for ideas and guidance, which you can view using this link. I made a number of changes for mine, including these frets, so I'll be sure to update my blog soon with details on how I made mine.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Des Moines Art Festival - 2015

                       

At the end of June every year, Des Moines hosts a free art festival in the area surrounding the sculpture park downtown. It's an award-winning festival that actually won "best festival in the world" for its budget category last year from the International Festivals & Events Association.



Nationwide opens up its parking garage for free parking, and we also saw dozens of people riding their bicycles to and from the festival. When we arrived, the first thing we saw were the volunteers working to build a Habitat for Humanity house, which will later be transported to its permanent location


We were right by all of the food booths and tents, and Andrew and I hadn't had lunch yet, so we got some vegetarian noodles. We walked a little bit and found kids playing in the "creek" that runs through part of downtown, so we let the kids splash in there while we ate our noodles.


The kids got to color at the Habitat for Humanity tent, and Andrew got them each a dish of ice cream.



After that, we found an interactive art exhibit. The kids got to drizzle paint on a giant bird sculpture that will be finished and hung at the airport later. They worked for a good while on it! After that, they painted 2D birds. Their goal is to get 2,000 painted birds to also hang at the airport with the sculpture.


Oliver & Jo's birds:

When the kids finished their hands-on projects, we let them run around the sculpture park. They enjoyed running up and rolling down the hills and, of course, checking out the sculptures.


We were only there about an hour and a half, but we got to see and do so much! There was a lot we didn't do, too, like the free shuttle tour of public art, listening to live music, and doing some art browsing/shopping. It would be easy to spend all day there, but that's not exactly practical with little kids. They had a great time with everything we chose to do. Our total cost for the day was $16: $8 for the noodles and $8 for two cups of ice cream.