Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DIY Father's Day Gift Ideas

Father's day is coming!!  There are a zillion Father's day gift ideas out there, but here are a few that have recently caught my eye...

Got a coffee drinking dad? I love this "Manly Java Jacket" idea, made to look like muddy tire tracks.  Very cool and useful too!

I love the agate-like look of these keychains made of polymer clay

Got a dad who knows his way around the shop? I do, and one year I made him a sawblade clock similar to this one. I attached some nuts to the face as well to mark the hours. 

Got a dad who appreciates wine? Mine makes wine and one year for his birthday I made him a wine cork cork board similar to this one. You can Google more ideas for wine corks, which can be turned into trivets, keychains, name tag holders, etc!

Setting a special table for dad?  Try folding the napkins like shirts(See some previous posts to make some great cupcakes for Dad too...bbq grill cupcakes and cheeseburger cupcakes!)

My dad likes to joke about his gifts from me... "at least it's better than a ROCK!"  This is because I actually gave him a rock one year.  Not just your average rock, mind you, but a rock that I colored on with markers.  He still has it though, so I'm thinking hey, maybe a rock isn't half bad for a gift.  After all, he probably isn't still hanging on to the package of underwear that Mom picked up for me to give him for Christmas in 1987.   Here's something a little more "fancy" as far as rocks go.

You still have a few days to make something fun with the kids for Dad, so hopefully this helps give you a few ideas you may not have seen before! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

IDMommy Project: Animated Paper Bird Tutorial!

Ever since I was little I used to fold these bird mouths out of paper.  It's super easy to make the mouth itself, which pops open and snaps shut when you squeeze it gently in the right spot on the top and bottom.  As a kid I remember eventually stepping it up by adding a little paper pole for a handle, and threading some string through it to make it string operated, like a puppet.  A couple weeks ago I made one with Sammy, only I added a body for it.

As an afterthought, we even made some quick paper bugs for his bird to eat, since we got to talking about what birds eat... (see how much fun learning can be?!)

Chomp-chomp...num-num-num!! Mmmm...protein!

Of course, now I'm kicking myself for not working in some animated flapping wings, which I have completely engineered in my head, but he loved it as-is.  So, I thought I'd document the process and make up this tutorial so you can do it with your kids too!  These photos are of the pieces I made and cut out of construction paper.  I have put together a free pdf for you to download, which has patterns for all the little pieces.  You can either print it out and use it as-is (since I did it in color), or you can print in black and white and use it as a template/stencil and cut out your own construction paper pieces. If you use construction paper, you can mix up the colors and make a blue jay, a red cardinal, etc!

So, maybe in the future I'll make a paper bird 2.0 with flapping wings.  Or a little paper nest full of baby string-operated birdies.  But, for now, here's how you make this one...hope you like it!

 Materials Needed:
- Patterns (download here)
- Paper (colored construction paper, or white paper you can color, or my printed template)
- Scissors
- Glue
- Tape
- A piece of String or yarn
- Crayons or markers, if desired


1) First, make the bird mouth itself.  You really could just stop after this step and have a lot of fun with it if you want! I used a 9" x 6" rectangle which will fit best with the rest of the body pieces on the template.  But, you can use a full sheet of standard letter sized paper if you want a larger one. Below are some instructions to fold it. You can get a larger, printable version in my template.
Was that part confusing?  If so let me know. I can make a quick video of it!  (warning: You'd have to watch me clumsily fold with a cast on)

2) Cut a little hole in the bottom of the bird's mouth, on the center fold about half way between the front and back.  This is where your pole and string will attach through.

3) Next, make a paper tube.  This will act as the handle, and house the string that animates the bird.

a) Roll up some paper into a tube, about 1/2" in diameter.  I'd roll along the long side of the paper you're using, so it's like 11" long-ish.  Glue it so it stays in a tube.
b) Cut four slits on one end, maybe 1/2" in.  (These will form tabs for gluing)
c)  Stick the end with the flaps up through the bottom hole you cut in the bird head.
d) Fold those flaps down and glue them against the inside of the mouth.

4) Attach the string to the bird. I glued the eyes on at this point can do that whenever.
a) Poke a tiny hole in the top of the bird's head, in line with the bottom tube/hole. Put your string up through it and tie a knot.
b) Put a piece of tape over the yarn/thread end to make sure it'll stay put.
c) Glue your beak piece over the top.  Do one on the bottom too.  Sorry, I know I only drew one on my pattern...but you can cut two of the same pieces out if you want a top and bottom!
d) Glue the tongue inside the mouth on the bottom, so the holes line up. Now thread that piece of string through the hole until it comes out the bottom of your tube.

5) Make the tail and glue on the legs.
a) Cut out the body shape and fold it in half along the dotted lines. Cut out and fold the tail in half lengthwise.
b) Fold across the short end and cut that little slit if you haven't already (which enables you to bend it when you glue it in the next step)
c) Glue the tail to the back of the bird. The template shows you where.
d) Finished tail!  Glue the legs on now too.  Glue them on the INSIDE of the folded body.

6) Now attach the body...
 a) Glue the belly on the front of the body.  Slide the handle/pole down through the hole you've cut in the folded body.
b) Glue the pole to the back so it's centered down the middle.
c) Put some glue on the front of the pole and on the edges of the wings and body.
d) Glue together the body.

7) Now PLAY!

Make some paper bugs to eat, or make a family of birds & perform a paper puppet show...then sit back and marvel at the fact that you can make your own fun toys out of paper!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Handed Motherhood

You may have noticed I haven't posted in a while.  The reason is, I was out of town for a week visiting my in-laws in Arizona.  Two...I broke my wrist just hours before hopping on the plane.  So, not only have I been absent, but the splint I was wearing made typing (one handed hunt & peck) painfully. slow. 

What happened? Well, it was a glamorous story was Memorial day, and I was taking out the garbage. Let's just say that traction-less flip-flops don't mix well with a smooth, concrete garage floor that has been wet by rainfall.   I'm sure I was a sight to see, my legs flying out from under me, landing on my wrist (left, thank goodness) and screaming in pain.  My first instinct was to not act TOO horribly injured, so as not to freak out my kiddos.

I could still wiggle my fingers but wasn't sure if it was broken or just really, really, REALLY, really hurt.  I moaned and groaned around the house for about an hour, teetering between the options of racing to the ER and hoping we still make our flight, or just swinging by Walgreens on the way to the airport, picking up a wrist brace, and dealing with the whole thing out in Arizona.  Being that our crappy insurance requires we pay 100% of ER visits, you can see why I didn't want to chance a trip there just to be told it was sprained, and then be handed the same brace I could have gotten at Walgreens for a fraction of the cost.  But, after an hour of ice and still wanting to throw up ever time I moved a molecule, we packed up the kids, two Lunchables, and headed for the hospital.

To make a long story slightly less long, I got a splint and a sling, and we made it on our flights, with instructions to visit the doctor for a cast upon our return a week later. 

Let me tell you though, traveling with two toddlers, 8 pieces of baggage, one grumpy husband, and a cast that needed a special TSA inspection was no picnic.  But, we made it through, and even managed to create some great memories and photos.

All in all, I am very thankful for a few things... 1) that it was my wrist and not one of my kids', 2) it was my LEFT wrist and not my right, and 3) it happened while I had my husband around 24 hours a day for a week.  (And here I thought changing a poopy diaper on my wiggly 17 month old was hard with TWO hands!)

I am happy to announce that as of yesterday, I have a new cast which allows me to use my fingers.  Imagine my joy when I was finally able to shave my right armpit again!! However, I still have yet to gain the strength to hook my own bra on in the morning.  My husband did not like doing my ponytail for me (way too girly!), however, for some odd reason doesn't seem to complain about "hooking me up" every morning.  Now, what to do when he leaves town this weekend...go bra-less, or keep it on until he returns? I'm frankly not excited about either option.

I told Sammy he could help me paint my cast, and I decided to go with this x-ray view of my arm/wrist.  We did it with acrylic paint, and I used a little iridescent paint for some shimmer.  Now I can point out exactly where my break is! And when people ask me what I did, I can tell them I stepped on it, and have fun seeing their reaction.  For now, my designer head is FULL of ideas to improve the design of arm slings, so if any manufacturers out there are looking for someone to improve their product, contact me!!


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