Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Simple Teething Pain Relief Solution

My sweet infant is three months old now, and I am pretty certain he's begun teething. He's drooling, chewing his (and my) fingers, and has bouts of uncharacteristic fussiness. Having been through this before, I preemptively armed myself with baby Tylenol, clove oil, Orajel, and chewelry, and an amber necklace. Because folks, teething is NO JOKE.

But my favorite teething pain remedy, and the one that I share with all exhausted parents, is the paci-pop. So quick, so easy, so soothing. Ready? Here's the secret technique:

Take a pacifier (MAM, Playtex, etc. - The Soothie brand ones won't work). Better yet, get a bunch.

Pinch the nipple.

Submerge the pinched paci in water (you can even run it under the tap)

 Unpinch the paci, slowly, allowing the bulb to fill with water,

The nipple will fill with water.

Put the pacifiers in the freezer. Pat yourself on the back and get yourself a bowl of ice cream while you're in there. You deserve it.

Then when your baby wakes up from his nap and is all fussy with sore gums, pop one of these bad boys in his mouth and enjoy the sweet sound of silence.

PS Put a bib on your kiddo (I recommend THESE), as the ice melts it will dribble out of the binkie and all over his cute clothes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Toddler painting keepsake - masked stencil canvas wall art

My two year old son loves to paint and draw. I end up with stacks of scrap paper covered in scribbles that I don't know what to do with, and they usually end up in the trash. Some of his projects make it to the fridge where they live for a month or two before being filed away in a box in the garage. Every so often I like to do a craft that is a little more of an "heirloom" - something that demonstrates where he is developmentally, but is also nice enough to have on display for the long-term. The kind of project that might become a gift for his loving family and friends.

From http://innerchildfun.com/2013/02/love-painting-for-kids.html
About a year ago (when he was still one), I saw on pinterest a way to use masking tape to make a painting. In that example, you simply tape out a letter shape with masking tape, allow your child to paint the whole canvas or paper, peel away the masking tape, and voila! Instant art! It acts as a sort ot reverse stencil.

I made one of those paintings with my kiddo, on a small stretched canvas, of the KLAW's first initial and hung it in his play kitchen.

My pal Darcy, of Moonlady's Kitchen, saw our project and totally cranked it up a notch. Instead of simply using tape as-is to make block letters, she began using sheets of tape to make stencils of different shapes, and from there we took off to all sorts of projects. Here is a tutorial on how to make a variety of cute DIY wall art with your toddler.

1. Start with a stretched canvas or flat canvas in the size you want. You can either use regular acrylic craft paint (I buy mine at Walmart for 50 cents a bottle - and let the little guy pick out a new color every so often) or washable paint and then protect it with a clear coat of spray paint when you're done.

2. If you want a background color, begin by painting that. For the horse, We did the blue for the sky on half the canvas, let it dry, taped off the area that was blue with a design to make it look like a rolling field, and painted the bottom half green. I've found that putting blobs of different color paint on the canvas and letting the kiddo smoosh it around with a paintbrush is a good way to get full coverage, pretty patterns, and control where the paint goes.
PRO TIP: Choose colors that are within about 3 to 5 segments of each other on the color wheel for each design. If you glob on orange and blue, or red and green, you'll end up with a muddy brown mess. Stick with all cool colors or all warm colors; add in a little white, or use a variety of intensities (bold to pastel) to get a nice variation of color to create texture.

3.  Download simple line art/clip art of the design you want. Print out the images, scaled to fit on your canvas. Or, if you're super artsy, you can free-hand a design later. But tracing, for me, yields great results. (I suppose if you have a fancy Silhouette Cameo machine, you could probably have something cut out by that, too...)

4. Apply masking tape in overlapping rows to a piece of parchment paper. It will be pretty transparent so you can trace the design you printed out on to the tape or parchment.

5. Once drawn, with the tape still attached to the parchment, cut out the design. I used scissors, being careful that the cuts on the outer portion were tidy, but chopping up the poor tape horse.

PRO TIP: If you have a cutting mat and an Xacto or rolling cutter, that would work and you would be able to preserve the inside design to use as a reverse stencil on another project. Darcy has even used the tape peeled off from that reverse stencil type project to make an additional craft, such as a greeting card (on the right). (Thanks, Darcy!)

6. Peel the stencil off the parchment and apply to your canvas (once the background paint is dry). Use additional tape to mask of any areas not covered by the stencil. Use your fingernail to press around the edges of the design so they are tight against the canvas to minimize seepage.

7. Repeat the painting process used for the background- putting blobs of paint in the design area and allowing the child to paint. Make sure the whole design is filled in.
What my child painted
 8. When the paint is dry, remove the tape to reveal the design.

What the result looks like
9. Finish with any details you may want to hand paint, such as the faces I added to these cardinals and the branches on which they are perched.

Here's one more we made, for which the little guy selected a bold color scheme.
There are so many possibilities with this technique, and it doesn't have to be exclusively for toddler art.  This blogger used sheet music (scrap paper) as the background and adhesive stencils available from Michael's. The beauty of the masking tape method, though, is that it is CHEAP and quick to do with items on hand - which is key when you've got little ones running around.

Sheet music stencil on savedbylovecreations.com
  Here's another blogger's version that looks very trendy! Cheap and easy update to your decor.

Chevron art from laurawadsworth.com
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