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Creative Uses for Kid’s Artwork

6 Sep

My daughter produces a LOT of artwork and like most parents, I have a really hard time parting with most of it. I’ve seen a lot of cute ways to display or use children’s artwork, which we do, but the other day inspiration struck and I had an idea for the really awesome pieces — cut them out, scan them and then arrange the motifs using Photoshop to turn them into fabric!

I got the idea when I saw a hand print my daughter had traced, cut out, and then colored using a mix of marker and crayon all on her own. I was so impressed. But more than anything, I was struck by how graphic and pretty it was (not to mention sweet since it’s her little hand print and she left off her thumb). I’ve always been really drawn to bold color combinations and even keep a Pinterest board dedicated to “Pretty Patterns” so this was right up my alley. She’d colored each finger a different color and had traced in a way I wouldn’t have done if I’d assisted her. It really illustrated for me (no pun intended) how incredible kids’ imaginations are and how important it is to allow them independent time to create.

It’s not the most easy/breezy project since some knowledge of how to design in Photoshop is required, but if that’s not in your skill set, you could just cut out all the art you want to use, arrange on a large sheet of paper, using tape or glue to keep the arrangement, and then scan. I know online sources like Spoonflower offer the ability to upload your design for printing to fabric or even wallpaper which could be really cool.

Depending how this turns out, I may use the design to create some upholstery fabric to upholster a loveseat I’ve envisioned in the girls’ shared room since before I even had kids. But I also love the idea of a simple blanket too. Can you imagine the possibilities for grandparents gifts too? Maybe even wrapping paper.

Just like I’m always telling my photography clients to PRINT YOUR PHOTOS, this project gets the art out of the file folder (or pile, in my home), and into our lives so we can enjoy it now. Plus, what a huge boost for your child to see you proudly utilizing the art he or she has created in a unique way.

Kid-friendly Backyard Planning

13 Dec

We had our first snow over the weekend, so, naturally, I bought Emilia her first swing set. As we head into winter here in New England, it might seem counterintuitive to buy it now, but the fact is, it’s long overdue. We fully intend to set it up as soon as it arrives, too, because we know Emilia will LOSE HER MIND. She LOVES the playground asks to go now matter the weather. Plus, with the mild winter we’re predicted to have, thanks to La Niña, I feel pretty confident that we’ll get a lot of use out of it this winter.

The picture above isn’t a swing set obviously, but it was discovered while I did some swing set reconnaissance, and it might have inspired an entirely new direction for our ongoing yard rehab project this summer. But more on that later.

For a while now, I’ve had it in my head that we needed to grade (level) our backyard because it’s actually pretty uneven all over. Since our first summer in the new place, it’s been on our To Do list to grade and re-seed the lawn. We had a few hurdles to get past before we could even tackle it though — like grinding the stump just past our patio and chopping down a very overgrown and messy looking hemlock.

The next step SHOULD be repairing our fence (we have a few poles leaning into our yard), grading, and seeding, but I just can’t deprive my child of a “playground” any longer. The poor kid points to every swing set we pass on our walks in the stroller and sadly says: Mama, I want one of those. It’s heart shattering I tell you.

I started to really look for “the set” around Thanksgiving, after many months of stalking Craigslist for a deal on one of those wooden sets. Specifically, a cedar one. But then after a lot of soul searching — and even wrangling my brother in to pick up the pieces of one— I realized that those wood sets with the little club houses just aren’t used as hard as the plain old metal swing sets.

My mom gave me that advice early on in my search and remembering back to when my two siblings and I were growing up, we had a set with two swings, a glider and a little two seater deal… and it was awesome. That really helped focus my search. I want the set to be something Emilia can enjoy right now, but I also want it to be something she can grow into, too.  Right now, the only things she likes to use at the playground are the swings and the see-saw.

After reading through hundreds of reviews, I was a bit surprised to find a really affordable one by Sportspower. I’d assumed a good set would be at least $800 or $900, but the majority of reviewers for this set which is under $500, confirm that although it’s incredibly difficult to assemble and there were a few issues with missing pieces, nearly all of them lead with: My son or daughter LOVES this set. I can stomach the risk, but I’ll just be incredibly careful with who we purchase from and we will just be meticulous as we unpack the boxes. There is a great variety — multiple swings, a glider which seats two, plus a saucer swing which I’ve NEVER seen before AND the trampoline which we know she’ll just go nuts over.

I added a bucket swing for Caroline although Emilia technically does still favor them. Hoping a swing set in the backyard will encourage her to branch out!

outdoor chalk
Anyways, all this backyard planning has reminded me to revisit my ongoing quest to solve the problem of: how to make all the backyard “kid” stuff look a little more presentable. This lead to my looking for backyard inspiration, which resulted in my finding about 10 other backyard projects I now want to take on, not limited to the above AWESOME outdoor chalk board, the tree fort I added at the very start of this post, and finally, the mud pie making station below.

mud pie kitchen

I’d wanted to set this up for her last summer actually but I’d just had Caroline and couldn’t get it together before summer ended. I should mention that Emilia comes from a long line of mud pie-making women. Her Nana was quite the mud pie baker and used to feed them to her German Shepherd. I love the design of the station above. I bet it would be really fun sourcing all of the pots and pans and “supplies” for her to use too — think, rocks and acorns and different leaves and grasses for all her creations. I can’t wait!

Will keep you posted on the setup of the swing set. The reviewers suggested we purchase the anchoring kit, but I didn’t after once civil engineer’s comments to try an alternate option. Going to Home Depot to investigate that soon. Wish us luck! And I’d love to hear what you have for your kids in your backyard.


10 Fall Activities to Do With Your Active Toddler in New England

16 Oct

FullSizeRender 18I claim that every season in New England is my favorite, but fall might just be my favorite. The golden light, the foliage, the decor, the baked goods, and the style potential…? It checks all the boxes for me!

Here are the top 10 activities we have on our fall bucket list:

  1. A trip to the pumpkin patch. It’s an annual tradition to visit with one of my best friends from college and its amazing to see how our families have grown through the years.
  2. Nature scavenger collection. No matter the season, a daily walk is on our to do list and a snap to keep a toddler entertained if you provide a bucket for treasure collection. In the fall, it’s usually acorns, pinecones, sticks, pretty leaves, and dried seed heads.
  3. Pumpkin bread baking. Emilia loves helping me bake and starting her young has helped teach her precision and patience. Me too!
  4. Mosiac paper plate pumpkin. My toddler absolutely loves any crafts involving a glue stick and handling the small pieces of paper is great for developing fine motor skills.
  5. Go on a hayride. I don’t think there are many vehicles my toddler doesn’t love, from tractors to garbage trucks to air planes so this is a must for her.
  6. Decorate the house. From stick-on window decals to helping plant mums, there is so much learning potential with little tasks like these.
  7. Paint a pumpkin and compost the pumpkin guts. Emilia loves to check out the worms when we turn the compost heap. She has her own little gardening gloves and trowel and loves to plant seeds. Oh the learning!
  8. Visit the park to check out the foliage. The days are numbered before the temperature really drops, so we’re getting our fill of outdoor fun before we have to really bundle up.
  9. Apple taste test. You never know what’s going to taste good until you try. We talk about the flavor differences and see what can be improved with a dusting of cinnamon. You can then graduate to providing different “dips” and toppings. We like almond butter sprinkled with chia seeds and cottage cheese with a little maple syrup.
  10. Stuff a scare crow. As you work, it provides a great opportunity to practice naming anatomy and pieces of clothing as well as thinking creatively. What can we use for a head? What would make good eyes? (Think: a pumpkin, sticks and acorns, etc)

    I’d love to hear some of your favorite fall activities. Is there anything you do that is specific to where you live, kid-friendly or otherwise?