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One of the things that happened over the summer was Henry’s 5th birthday (and party). He requested a Lego Star Wars party with a piñata. So, immediately I thought that the Death Star would be the perfect thing to make – and then destroy with light sabers.

First, I searched high and low for those big round punch balloons. After checking every grocery store and pharmacy, I finally found some at our local hardware and variety store. We put some twine around it in several places and then covered it with papier mâché, about two layers in most places. I don’t remember now what recipe we used, but it was a kind you cook. Now, I should have covered the balloon with plastic wrap or something because it looked awesome and perfectly round until the balloon started to shrink and it took the papier mâché with it. (Sorry no process pictures, my hands were covered in slimy glue.)

After some initial frustration with the not perfectly round appearance (on my part, kids were fine with it), we painted it and added some details to make it recognizable. I reinforces the string with some extra twine so that it would hang over a tree branch without coming down too quickly.

The best part was what was inside. We had some candy (I would have been in big trouble if there had been no candy at all) but we also included little bundles of random Lego pieces wrapped in star fabric and tied with twine. The idea was for the kids to build little ships with the Legos that they could take home and play with. We live near a Lego store so I just got some random pieces from the wall of Pick-a-Brick.

The icing on the cake for the party was literally the icing on the cake. We made marshmallow fondant (with this recipe) and made little Lego bricks (by pressing an clean Lego into the fondant), light sabers and even a couple of minifigure heads (Yoda!). The cake was my go to chocolate cake, it is always delicious. All in all, a great celebration of and for my Big Man.

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Since I didn’t post hardly at all over the spring and summer, I guess I should fill in a few of the things we made and did. I took a lot of pictures with the intention of posting here but somehow in a lazy summer stupor it never happened. (I blame the heat!)

We did a lot of painting. A LOT.

We started a toddler art group and painted outside with hands and feet on big paper.

We stacked and glued pompoms. (This was entirely her idea/design/execution.)

We made sculptures with play dough and tooth picks.

We tinkered with stuff from the recycling bin and ended up with a pretty cool house for “guys”, complete with secret hiding places and a jail.

We made our own Harry Potter wands by finding the perfect stick and covering it with Mod Podge. (This one was a HUGE hit.)

And that, my friends, is a brief history of some of the things we did in the spring. Next up, a few of the things from summer.

Spontaneous boating party in the backyard. I brought a few pieces of paper, an under bed storage bin and the Internet (for folding directions) and everyone is having a grand time folding and “sailing” boats. We just ran out of paper and now the kids are using leaves and sticks! They really don’t need much to have a good time.

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Normally I am not nearly this organized, but instead of working on my big project, the kids and I made Valentines today.  I figured it would be fun and they will likely need them for their classrooms at school come February.  I must admit, recently I have thought about Valentines a bit more than is probably normal.  I have wanted to use up some of my very small scraps of fabric that are too small to do anything with, so the idea of cutting hearts and glueing them to notecards seemed like a perfect solution.

Fabric Scraps

I put some liquid watercolor paint in with the glue, just to make it a bit more like painting for the kids, and the three of us spent a nice evening working on our project.  The cards were fairly glue heavy, but that was alright since we had a place to dry them.

Valentines

Henry started out adding the hearts but ended up enjoying just painting the notecards with painty glue.   I think they turned out pretty well, I plan to carve a “happy valentines day” stamp and have the kids (or at least Eleanor) sign their names on the back.  Good thing I have a whole month to get that part done!

Valentines

My girl had a birthday and to celebrate we went to a local nature center with a bunch of her friends.  It was a wonderful time and in the interest of keeping with the nature/eco-friendly theme, we made all of the party favors and decorations.

For the favors, I had a swatch book from Paper Source and decided to use it to make little tiny sketch books for our nature walk.  To do this,  I used a paper-cutter to take off the top inch (approximately), which left me with a rectangle of the nice card stock.  I cut regular printer paper slightly smaller than the card stock and put three pieces with each “cover”.  I folded the layers of paper in half and stitched with an old needle down the center.  To make the little books a bit more exciting, I carved a stamp and we used a shiny silver ink.  (We used the stamp on thank you notes as well.)

Birthday Party Favors

For the garland, I had hoped to sew the scraps together from the swatch book, but for some reason my sewing machine didn’t think that was a good idea.  Everything kept getting tangled up so we laid all of the scraps out on the table and glued them to a piece of yarn instead.  This actually worked out better — Eleanor was able to help me put dots of glue on the paper, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  The result was sort of whimsical and lovely, definitely very colorful.

Birthday Garland - Failed Attempt

Birthday Garland

Birthday Garland

I should have taken some pictures of the garland hanging at the party, but you will just have to imagine it.  Instead I will leave you with a picture of the cupcakes — I used a chocolate whipped cream (2/3 cup chocolate chips + 1 quart heavy cream, melted together in a saucepan, then refrigerated, then whipped like regular whipping cream) for the frosting, delicious.  And, yes, those are Skittles in the shape of smiley faces, as per the request of the birthday girl.

Cupcakes

In honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama last week, we did a little collage project.  We discussed the inauguration and the fact that President Obama had  been sworn in to lead our country.  Then we cut a bunch of pictures and words from our newspaper and busted out the glue.

Obama Collage

Eleanor took great joy in gluing everything together.  She said, “He looks so happy!” when she glued the picture of President Obama taking the oath of office, which she subsequently covered with a picture of the crowds.   Ah, well, it is her collage after all.

Obama Collage

And, Henry joined in the fun too with some random clips from the paper. Despite being a bit young for the lesson on government, he was astonishingly careful in his placement of the papers. He also added a little crayon, just for a bit of color — or so I imagine.

Obama Collage

Giraffe Stool

Here is another old project, which I thought turned out pretty well.  although you wouldn’t know it from the poor photo quality please forgive, I’ll try to take a better one and replace it (new photo!) When my daughter was starting to brush her teeth and wash her own hands at the sink, she definitely needed a stool. All the children’s step stools I saw at the stores were quite boring, so I decided to make her one with a bit more personality.

I am sure there was some inspiration for the paper cut and Mod Podge combo that I ended up using, but I can’t remember what it was. For the design, of course, I decided to do a giraffe because my girl has a special lovey named Dear Giraffe (or sometimes Giraffey). 

I sat down with a very rough, hand drawn pattern, which I cut into three parts and spread across the stool, which was purchased at a craft store (Michael’s or AC Moore, probably). Then I disregarded the pattern almost completely and started cutting scrapbooking paper with a small pair of scissors. Last step was to cover the paper with Mod Podge, which I chose since it claims to be non-toxic. The Mod Podge does smell fairly strongly though, so I waited until everyone under the age of five was asleep. I applied several layers with one of those sponge brushes on a stick, being sure to let it dry in between applications. I only Mod Podged the top since it was going to be in our bathroom and I wasn’t certain how it would react to being on a damp floor.

(Turns out, the Mod Podge was fine with repeated drops of water on it, but the wood from the stool didn’t like being damp very much. The stool has found a new home in our living space and a plastic stool now occupies the space in our bathroom. Ah, well.)

Here is a detail with a baby hand for size:
Giraffe Stool (detail)