Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blessings Countdown Calendar - Guest Blog

I just love this Advent Calendar from Jen's Ink Spot!  It has such a personal touch and fits in with the true spirit of Advent. Instead of chocolate or little gifts, it shares blessings that the family has received throughout the year.

Behind each number card is a photograph representing a memory. These cards can then in turn be hung as ornaments on the tree. When Christmas is over, the cards can then be put in a scrapbook to show blessings from the past year. What a great way to share Advent with your children!

I’ve been friends with Jennifer since the fourth grade, and I’m so proud of all of her creative accomplishments. Her blog Jen's Ink Spot has great ideas for how to make cards of all kinds. If you would like to check it out and see how to make this fantastic Advent Calendar, just click on this link:  http://jensinkspot.blogspot.de/2012/11/blessings-countdown-calendar-with-lil.html

Have a wonderful Advent!
Kelley

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

15 Min Construction Site Birthday Cake Deco


This year Jonas’s third birthday hit right in the middle of family flu season.  Luckily, Jonas was already over the flu.  Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t, I was on antibiotics for strep, and Lukas was in recovery.  

Talk about multi-tasking!  Between bringing my boys to bed and  taking care of my sick husband, I only had a couple of hours to decorate the house, bake and decorate the cake, and get all of the gifts ready for the birthday party.

I originally had big hopes for Jonas’s birthday cake and had planned on spending a lot more time making it really perfect. As a mother, though, I’ve learned that you often have to make compromises, or nothing gets done.  Luckily, my sister-in-law Regina had given me some construction candles (I'm sure Hotwheels would also work) and I was able to rethink the cake and come up with an idea that was extremely quick and still did the trick. I don't know exactly how long I had to decorate this cake, but I'm pretty sure it was under 15 minutes. 

While I was decorating the cake with my hands full of sticky bright frosting (I couldn’t find my decorating tools, so I had to spoon the frosting into a Ziploc bag and cut the corner cut off) I was thinking - Hopefully Lukas will sleep tonight, instead of waking up screaming of an earache like the last few nights.  Hopefully, my husband won’t be out of order more than a day or two.  Hopefully, Jonas won’t wake up either, and I’ll get a good nights sleep, which I desperately needed.  I’d already come to the conclusion that we mothers really don’t have time to get sick and when we do, we have to do our best to just ignore it and keep going. 
  
Somehow, I managed to get it all done and it wasn’t until I had just laid down in bed to sleep that Lukas started crying.  Nonetheless, in the morning, when Jonas woke up, went down the stairs and saw his cake and gifts waiting for him and he smiled that huge it’s my birthday smile, nothing else mattered. 

“Mama, Lukas can have one half of the cake, and I’ll have the other half.” Turning three really is fantastic.   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rainy Day Driving

The German rainy season has now begun.  Even though my children both have plastic overalls, rain jackets, and rubber boots that they can wear outside when it's muddy or drizzling, some days it just rains too hard.

Lukas is now 16 months old and he loves to ride his bobby cars (see picture of Lightning McQueen car) all around our neighborhood. Unfortunately, since Lukas has been driving his car outside all summer, the tires are all worn and rough. Most homes here have wood floors, not carpet, so those tires would easily leave a bunch of race track scratches all around the house.

Therefore, I decided to make Lukas's car inside-proof! I cut strips of flannel (felt would work, too) and glued them around the tires.  Then I added a strip to the front for a bumper.

This was a very simple project that made my son very happy.  He can now drive his car all around the house, which is good for his health and my wood floors.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Hairy Bunny

For me the days before sleep training were the worst, worrying about how awful it was going to be.  I was so accustomed to having my little boy next to me, cuddling on my arm and holding my hair tightly gripped in his hand.  How would he react to being all by himself?

Often when I would try to loosen that grip on my hair, he would wake up as if he was startled, cry out and then grab my hair and pull it toward him.  There was no way he was going to sleep without Mama’s hair…and that was a problem.

I tried to wean him off my hair the few days leading up to sleep training, but I was only mildly successful.  I tried giving him his stuffed kitty instead, but he out tricked me.  He held the kitty in one hand and my hair in the other.  I tried giving him a little horse with a mane of hair like a Barbie dolls, but he knew the difference, even at 4 a.m.

Whenever Lukas was hurt or fussy, all he needed was my hair to calm down.  Even while I was still nursing him, my hair was his main source of comfort.  How was I ever going to sleep train this little guy without having to stick my head in the crib?

I finally decided to cut off a fairly long lock of hair.  I tied it in a knot and then while holding the knot taut; I sewed it to a ribbon.  I then tied the ribbon in a knot around the hair knot and then tied this ribbon on to his stuffed lamb.  My hope was that having a little bit of my hair in his crib would give him that little bit of comfort that he needed.  I even sprayed a bit of perfume on the lamb so that it would smell like me. 

Lucky for me, sleep training went really well and wasn’t at all as difficult as I had expected.  Lukas loves his crib now.  Yesterday after his nap I spied on him.  He was sitting in his crib holding his lamb, pulling my lock of hair through his fingers in his own little world.  And, although a part of me still wished that it was connected to my head, I was glad that he was happy without me.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Co-sleeping, No-sleeping, and the Sleep Lady Shuffle


No-Cry Sleep Training sounded to me about as plausible as No-Pain Childbirth.  Honestly, I just don't think that the majority of us will every experience it.  No pain, no gain. Right?

I figured that sleep training would be similar.  Doing it wouldn’t be easy, but the result wiould be well worth the effort.  Luckily, it all went even smoother than I had anticipated.  After only 3 days, my little Lukas was sleeping peacefully through the night and even naps in his own crib...

Sleep Training and the Sleep Lady Shuffle

I had never thought that I would be one of those parents who co-sleeps with their toddler.  I put my first boy Jonas in his crib from the very beginning.  I had tried to nurse him in bed, but he was just too messy and wiggly.  He loved his crib and I figured it was also the safest way.

Then Lukas came along.  He was the easiest baby ever to nurse and he would fall asleep on my shoulder in bed and not move a muscle until it was time to nurse again.  Holding him was so comforting, I would almost always fall asleep.  However, between relocating, teething, a hospital visit due to asthma, and guests, we realized our co-sleeper was already 15 months old.  He was not only way too big for our bed, but he also had to have my hair in order to fall back asleep, which could be a few times a night, i.e. our co-sleeping had become no-sleeping.

I’ll admit, I tried my own sleep training a couple of times.  The first time I put him in the guest room in the travel crib and tried timed checks, but honestly, I couldn’t handle even 10 minutes of crying.  The second time, I tried sitting next to him during nap time, but after five minutes of being in his crib, he puked all over himself and me.  I had always thought that kids who puke during sleep training have cried forever before that happens.  I was wrong.  I needed help.

After disregarding the no-cry sleep approach (Have you ever tried to pick up a 30 pound baby every time he cries only to put him down again, pick him up, put him down, pick him up, etc..?), and having tried Ferber unsuccessfully, I finally found the Sleep Lady and bought her book for my Kindle.
 
During the Sleep Lady Shuffle, you begin by sitting next to your child in the room the first three nights, then continually work your way out the door.  What I liked about this method the most, is that it took the fear out of sleep training for both my child and myself.  Even though Lukas would be angry at me, he wouldn’t be freaked out as to where his mother was and I could at least give kind words to help him through it.  After talking to my husband, we decided to begin. 

Here is the daily progression that led to our happy super sleeper:

Preparation: We put a big mattress on our living room floor a good distance away from where Lukas would sleep for my other son or my husband to sleep if necessary.  I also rigged Lukas’s crib with towels in case he puked during training (which from what I’ve learned is pretty common).  I got out a big t-shirt from daddy as pajamas for Lukas to wear so he couldn’t climb out of the crib, and another as a spare in case he puked.

I tied a piece of hair to his little stuffed sheep, sprayed my parfum on it, and laid it in his bed. I made sure to do the same bedtime routine the last few nights before sleep training: early milk (to prevent puking), bathtime, three stories, light off and fan on (white noise), some songs, and then off to bed. When he was asleep I brought his brother Jonas to bed who sleeps in the same room.

Day 1:  At 7 p.m. I started winding Lukas down. Then I did the bedtime routine before laying him in his crib.  I sat down first in a chair right next to his crib just like the Sleep Lady had said.  He started bawling immediately. He was not a happy camper.  After a few minutes I realized it would be better to get down lower so that he wouldn’t have a reason to stand up.  I then sat on the floor and leaned against the chair.  Lukas was really upset, almost puked twice, and it was incredibly hard to handle even when I could pat his back, say soothing words, and rub his head. After about 10 min of this I got the feeling that he was just getting more hysterical and that it would make more since for me to go to the other side of the room and act like I was sleeping.  I laid down on the little bed on the other side of the room.

Lukas cried about 10 minutes more making me feel like a horrible parent and question my intentions. But then all of a sudden, he stopped crying like someone had turned the mute button on.  He just stood at the end of the crib and looked in my direction.  He didn’t move a muscle for what seemed like three or four minutes.  I wondered if he was holding his breath or something and then he crumpled into a sleeping heap with his sweet little head down on his hands.  I went over the bed and rolled him on his side.  I tucked his little kitty under his arm and he pulled it to him and went back to sleep. Then I went over to the bed and cried.
  
Other then briefly waking up during the night (probably to roll over), he slept straight through until 7 the next morning.  Only 30 horrible minutes of crying and my baby slept all night. The first time ever!  Unbelievable!

Day 2:  I didn’t begin nap training until day 3, so today I let Lukas sleep in the car in the morning and then laid him in his crib after falling asleep after a little stroll in the afternoon. 

In the evening I did everything like the day before.  I laid Lukas in his bed and he immediately started crying.  I said some soothing words and before I could even go to my position across the room, he puked.  It hadn’t even been 2 min!  I quickly changed his shirt and pulled out the dirty towels I had laid around his crib and then went to my position across the room.  That was tough on me, but then Lukas seriously surprised me.  He cried for about another 2 minutes.  Then he sat down in his crib and started playing and singing!  This went on for about 20 minutes before he fell asleep and then slept again until 6:15 the next morning.  This sleep training is crazy! 

Day 3:  I decided to start nap training, so at around 9:30 I laid Lukas down for his nap.  This went without a hitch and he cried about a minute before going straight to sleep.  In the afternoon I put both boys down at the same time which seriously is not easy, but with a little effort (and another run to the potty) worked.  When I finally got them both in bed, I laid down, too and they were both asleep within 5 minutes.  Yeah!

In the evening I put Lukas to bed and he cuddled on me while I was reading but didn’t even make a peep when I put him down.  I gave him his little kitty and he went to sleep almost immediately.  He slept straight through the night and his older brother actually woke up before he did at 6:30 the next morning.  I had never dreamed that sleep training would work so quickly. I figured I wouldn’t get any sleep during sleep training and I now just got three days of sleep myself which I had desperately needed.  Thank you Sleep Lady and thank you Lukas for making it all worthwhile!

I hope that my story has helped some of you calm your fears about sleep training.  I invite all of my readers to please post their comments, questions, fears, personal stories, etc… I'll help where I can. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bed to Crib Baby Pillow


My boy Lukas loves to cuddle, so I hated laying him in an empty crib. Although I used to think that babies should always be in their cribs, Lukas somehow always managed to make it into our bed.  I guess, things change when you have your own kids. 

Our relocating didn’t help the situation either, as often the only place for him to sleep was next to us.  Now that we are settled in, though, it’s time for him to finally move to his crib for the long haul.  I know this won’t be easy, as he is already almost 14 months old, but he’s just getting too big.  

I needed something to make the change a little bit easier.  I’ve tried giving him a stuffed animal, but he just thinks they are funny and then throws them out of the crib. 

I know, however, that as soon as he wakes up, he starts reaching out for anything to give him comfort, usually a piece of my hair or a pillow that smells like Mommy and Daddy. 

Therefore, I decided to make him his own pillow.  This pillow he can use in our bed or his, so that it stays the same (and smells the same) no matter where he is. 

As you can see from the picture, it sure looks like Lukas likes his pillow.  Let’s just hope he likes sleeping by himself, too. 

How to:

1.  For this pillowcase, I used the material from an old beige sheet made of 400 count Egyptian cotton.  Lukas is used to our pillows, so I figured a sheet would be similar material.

2.  Next, I measured out a piece of material to fit the baby pillow that I bought at Ikea.  I laid the material on the table, put the pillow in the middle, and then folded it over the pillow making sure  that there was about 6-8 inches of overlap in the middle.  I decided not to put a zipper or a button as closure, but to use a fold instead.

3.  Next, I took the ends that will be part of the open fold and sewed them closed like you would the bottom of a curtain.  I doubled them over and sewed the hem twice. 

4.  Then I laid the material down on a table upside down, folded it over like I had over the pillow before with the material overlapping in the middle about 6 inches and pinned the edges together.  I sewed around all of the edges.  Then I turned the pillow back right side in using the open fold.  The pillowcase is finished.

5.  Finally, I drew a picture on the pillow of a dumptruck using fabric markers.  You can also fill in your picture with color, but I actually like the black and white of this picture.  Maybe someday I’ll let Lukas color it in himself.

6.  Put your child to bed on his new pillow and watch him sleep.  Zzzzz…

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo Calendar Wall Hanging

Do you make calendars for grandma and grandpa every year? We always make ourselves a copy as well.  It's so nice to look at the pictures throughout the year.

And yet, it's a calendar.  I won't be hanging it up again.  The year is finished. There will never be a 2011 again.  I should just throw it away.

But, I can't bring myself to trash it.  These are 12 pictures that I chose out of hundreds.  These are the cream of the crop, the best photos.  Hmmm....

Then I had a great idea. I decided to make a wall hanging.  Jonas's room is under the roof, so part of the wall is really slanted.  I love to hang up pictures, but I'm not about to hang up frames on a slant.  Not only is it too dangerous, but I don't even know how you would do it.  This calendar wall hanging is perfect for such a wall and the slant makes it easy for kids to see the pictures.

Jonas loves his wall hanging and often wants to talk about the pictures and all of the interesting places that we've seen throughout the year.  This calendar is so easy to make and looks great on a wall.  You can easily finish it in one afternoon or evening.

Here's the how to:

1.  Cut all of the pictures off the calendar so that they are the same size, usually about the size of a piece of paper.  Then punch a hole in each corner with a hole puncher.

2.  Lay out all of the pictures on a table like you would like to have them on the wall.

3.  Cut pieces of string about 6-8 inches long.  Then making sure your knots are about the same on every corner, tie the pictures together making a checkerboard.  Also, tie strings to each of the four corners.

5.  Pull your pictures taut across the table and then measure the distance vertically and horizontally.  Add an inch to each measurement and then drill holes in the wall (we have brick walls here) and screw in a hook facing outwards into each hole.

6.  Finally, take the strings which are tied to each of the four corners of your wall hanging and tie them tightly onto the hooks in the wall. Finished!  Doesn't it look fabulous?






Saturday, June 9, 2012

Banana Coffee Cake


My husband and I love coffee cake.  When I was nursing Lukas, I made it about once a week.  However, through all of our travels, I hadn't baked anything in a long time.

The other day I decided that I wanted to make some banana bread.  We had a bunch of bananas that were too brown to eat and nothings better at getting rid of bananas than banana bread.  After having mashed four bananas, I realized that I didn’t have any loaf pans.

Of course, I could have just made muffins, but I didn’t feel like any.  I remembered that my mom used to make a really great banana cake, so I started going in that direction.  It wasn’t until the cake batter was in the pan, that the coffee cake idea came to me.  I used the crumb topping from the coffee cake in my Zion Mennonite cookbook.

I must admit, I didn’t think coffee cake could be topped, but this one took the cake.  It was so moist and tasted full of banana.  Even Jonas ate it, and oddly enough, he doesn't usually like cake   

I highly recommend it!  Here's the recipe:

Banana Coffee Cake 
4 bananas
1 egg
½ C sugar
½ C oil
1 t vanilla
1 C buttermilk/or milk
2 Cups flour
4 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Topping
½ C brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ C chopped walnuts

1.  Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork until they are really mushy.  Add the eggs, one at a time and mix them in with the fork.  Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla, and mix until well blended.  Finally, add in the buttermilk or milk and beat well.  If you don't have a mixer, a fork or a whisk works well enough.

2.  Add the dry ingredients and beat for 2-3 minutes with a spoon or a mixer until smooth.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

3.  Mix the topping ingredients together in a cup and then sprinkle on cake batter.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5.  Serve with or without whip cream. Eat. Eat. Eat. Enjoy!!!

As you can see from the picture, even my little 12 month old wanted some of Jonas's cake.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Duvet-inspired Automobile Curtains


Jonas with his matching blanket and curtains
My son actually started crying when he saw these curtains hanging in his room.  He was convinced that I had cut up his beloved blankie.  In a way this was true, but not the way that he thought.  I had cut the end off of his adult-sized duvet cover a month before and shortened it into one that fit his kid-sized one.  Why this sheet set doesn’t come in child-size at Ikea, I will never understand. 

The idea that Jonas wouldn’t like his matching curtains never occurred to me.  Luckily, after taking his blankie out of his bed and showing him that it was whole, he quieted down and it was all okay.  We even had a little conversation and a smile about the dump trucks and cars.  Thank goodness!

His room needed curtains since summer is approaching and it is light here in northern Germany until almost 11 p.m. Without anything on the windows, he would most likely wake up around 4 a.m. as well when it starts to get light outside.

Automobile close-up
I’m not the biggest fan of curtains, but I didn’t want to have blinds due to the cords.  I’ll admit, I bought curtains for the main bedrooms.  With the price of material these days, it’s hard to sew them for less.  However, they are too thin, so I will need to sew on a darker sheet behind them to block out more light.  Good thing I can sew.

For this duvet inspired curtain, I used some scraps of red material, a long piece of blue material I bought at Ikea, the bottom end of one of the bedroom curtains (cut off at the window), and the rest of the duvet cover with the automobiles.  It only took me one night after the kids went to bed, and I think it really adds to the room and makes it more colorful. 

Here’s the how-to:

Red curtain loops
1.  Measure the window and buy enough material for a base curtain with the material folded in half.  I decided on blue and needed 1m40 x 2.5m (about 55” x 98”).  Trivia for you - European windows are different than American ones.  You can open them into the room to clean them or open them at an angle to let in a little bit of air.  Since there aren’t as many insects here, almost no windows have screens. 

2.  I first made the loops for the top of the curtain.  This is pretty easy.  All you need to do is cut a few strips of material 4 inches by 10.  Fold them in half and sew along the side leaving about a quarter inch.  Then turn them back right-side-in and iron flat with the seam in the middle.

Pinned Loops on main fabric
3.  Then I folded my blue material in half and laid it on the floor.  I cut open the fold so that I would have a straight cut and folded back one piece at the top.  Now I laid the red loops along the top of the material with the frayed ends hanging off the side of the blue material on the floor showing about an inch.  I pinned them loosely in place.  Then I folded the blue material back over the loops and added more pins. Finally, I sewed along the top leaving about a quarter to a half inch of blue material.  After you have made your seam, you can cut the rest of the loop ends also to a quarter inch. Now you can turn this piece of material inside out and lay it back on the floor.  With the loops on the top, it already looks like a curtain!   
Curtain on the floor

4.  At this point, I decided to add the automobile duvet piece of material to the curtain.  I ripped out the seams and then cut the material to fit.  Then I sewed in the bottom edge a quarter inch.  Finally, I sewed this piece upside down on the blue material about a foot from the top seam with the loops so that when it is folded back over it hangs like a second curtain over the blue one. 

Finished curtain
5.  I folded the blue curtain back inside out and laid it on the floor like in step 3.  Then, I took the rest of my bedroom curtain material and laid it on the floor underneath the blue curtain. I added this piece just for extra opacity.  I made sure everything was flat, pinned the edges, and then cut off any extra material sticking out.  I sewed around the entire edge, leaving only a little hole, about 8 inches, along one side.  Then I turned the whole curtain back right-side-in.
6.  At this point, the curtain looks a bit like a duvet cover.  In order to make it look more like a curtain, I sewed around the edges again and then sewed another seam a few inches from the bottom so that it looked like a hem. 

My duvet curtain was finished, which was good, because it was almost midnight and I was really tired.  I had tried to do this project during the day, but every time I laid the material on the floor, my kids thought it was something to play on.  Now I need to find the time to finish the other curtains…

Friday, May 4, 2012

Settled In

Lukas proudly standing outside.
 Although I will admit, there are still a few boxes which haven't been unpacked (and may never be opened. When did I accumulate so much stuff?), it's safe to say that we have finally settled in to our new place in northern Germany.

Traveling and living out of a suitcase for over two months was not easy and made me appreciate the concept of home even more.  I tried to keep the kid's routine as much as possible and brought as many of their security things, like blankies, toys, and books.  Nevertheless, it's tough living with other people all the time, no matter how loving they may be. I was so excited when we were finally able to move into our new house and even more overjoyed when our cargo finally made it over the ocean.

Jonas in front of the house on his trike.
I love our new place and it already feels like home. The kids love having a yard to play in and are determined to be outside come rain or shine.  It often showers, but the sun always seems to make it's way out after each one and everything here is amazingly green because of all that moisture. We are so close to the coast that we often see seagulls and the ocean is only a bike ride away.

I have to get a bike soon, because most of the mothers here use it as their primary source of transportation.  Jonas has already learned how to use his tricycle and I'm sure Lukas will have a Laufrad (a bicycle without wheels) soon as he mastered walking  by 11 months and seems unstoppable.

I can't wait to get started on all of the projects that I have had on hold for the last couple of months, but I still have a lot of organizing to do before I can start on a lot of them.  Thank you for your patience.  I look forward to bringing you more creative posts soon!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goodbye Palm Trees, Hello Windmills - Donner Family Relocation

Typical Friesen Windmill
We're moving back to Germany!  This time to Friesland, where my husband has taken on a job as a developmental biologist starting the first of March.  

Since we just got the news before Christmas, we have been busy getting packed, selling things we don't need, and trying to find a house -all in one month.  At the same time, my 8 month old baby has gone from crawling to trying to walk and my two year old is gaining his independence.  In other words, I've got my hands full, but I'm excited nonetheless. 

I really love Friesland.  My mother was born in Friesland, Holland, so I grew up listening to my grandmother's stories and hearing her speak Friesen.  I look forward to making lots of bike trips, taking walks with my kids to the local baker, and getting to know my neighbors.  Even though I know I will miss California, especially the sunshine, I'm looking forward to seeing the North Sea and its holiday islands. 

Neustadtgoedens, Ost Friesland
Since I will be separated from my beloved sewing machine and art supplies  for the 6 weeks that it will take for our stuff to make it by cargo ship, I may not be able to post very often.  I have plenty of ideas on hold, though.  As soon as we get settled and I get my creativity unpacked again, I'm sure I will be posting up a storm. 

Thanks for your patience and wish us luck!
 
Kelley

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cars and Trucks Padded Toddler Headboard

Jonas enjoying his new headboard and pillow
My son loves cars and trucks.  He just can’t get enough of them.  This morning, as an example, he wanted to watch the documentary Mighty Machines instead of Barney or Elmo.  That says a lot.

For Jonas’s second birthday, I decided to pimp his crib and make it more toddler-friendly since he is still not ready to have the sides removed, yet.  However, with Christmas and our family planning for a big move from California to Germany, I didn’t have time to work on the project. I had looked at toddler beading, but the majority of it was 60–100% polyester.  I bought the Disney Cars beading once, but took it back because it seriously felt like a shower curtain. 

Last night, I decided it was time to take action and make something myself.  When we were in Germany over Christmas, Jonas fell in love with big fluffy down pillows.  Previously, he had only been using the baby pillows that I had made him a year ago (Baby's First Pillows, 3/2011).  As soon as we got home, I bought him one for his bed with a bright red 100% cotton pillowcase.  One big advantage to this pillow is that ever since he started sleeping with it, he stays in one place at night instead of moving around his crib like a bumpercar.  I decided to use the second pillowcase for my project.

This toddler headboard is super easy to make.  There is a flat pillow in the pillowcase which can easily be taken out so that you can toss the whole thing in the washing machine.  The snaps/loops on the side make it a breeze to take on or off the headboard and it can be used on a crib or toddler bed.

Here’s the How to:

1.  First you will need a pillowcase.  If you have a standard crib, ours is from IKEA, then a standard pillowcase will fit perfectly on the headboard.  I bought a cotton pillowcase in the adult section, since the kids bedding, like I said above, has a lot of polyester in it which can cause overheating, sweating, and heat rash.

2.  Sew a loop of ribbon, about 10-12 inches long, on each side of the pillowcase about 2/3 of an inch from the top.  I cut a hole on one side of the case and pushed the ribbon into the case before I sewed it shut.  Add snaps to the end of the loop and on the inside of the pillowcase as shown.  You may want to measure your crib before you do this just to make sure that your headboard hangs straight and doesn’t sag in the middle.  If your child already has a toddler bead and no sideboards, you can measure the loops so that they fit over the poles of the bed.

3.  I have a lot of scrap material, so it was not difficult for me to find some that already had cars and trucks on it.  You can also make your own vehicles, if you’d like.  I took all of the material that I wanted to use and ironed some heat-bonding material, like Wunderunder, onto the back of it.  Then I used a washable Crayola marker and drew the letters to Jonas’s name on the material.  I cut out the letters and vehicles.  Then, I took the letters and laid them onto some black felt which also has heat-bonding material on the back and drew them slightly larger.  I cut out these letters and the dotted lines for the street.  Finally, I ironed on the felt first and then the rest of the material cut-outs onto the pillowcase.

4.  Since heat-bonding material doesn’t last well through many washings, I went in with my sewing machine and sewed around all of the cars, trucks, and letters.  I also sewed a straight line through the dotted street line.  This is an important step, since toddler bedding needs to be washed a lot and even a headboard will get dirty and dusty. 

5.  Now add the pillow in the pillowcase.  If your pillowcase bunches open on the sides, use snaps or Velcro to hold it in place.  Hang your padded cars and trucks pillowcase onto the headboard of your toddler’s crib. 

You are finished!  Now, you can take off all of those baby bumpers (I'll do this as soon as Jonas wakes up. Goodbye Safari bedding!) and let your child feel a little bit bigger. Yeah! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Toddler Identity Band

Traveling with little ones is tough, especially with long layovers in airports and jet lag. This trip, I was worried about our two-year-old Jonas.

What happened if we got stuck in an airport somewhere and he ran through security or somehow managed to run away from us in a crowd?

He’s really fast and doesn’t like to sit still (see picture of him on the plane) I knew I couldn’t just put him on a leash and that he would want to run around.

As it happened, we ended up missing a flight and spending five hours in Salt Lake City after having been awake for almost 24 hours. Although I watched him like a hawk, my husband and I were really tired and watching our baby Lukas as well.

This identity band helped to keep me calm, knowing that if for any reason Jonas got separated from us, the airport would be able to identity him quickly. Being two, he was still too young to say his full name and would probably say his name was tractor or auto. Thankfully, he never got away from us, but I saw many times how easily it could have happened and I’ve heard from many people just how horrible it is when you lose your child somewhere.

Although this identity band is pretty simple on the outside, you can easily add a sticker on the inside with telephone number and address if wanted and thanks to the snap it can’t be pulled off easily by a toddler. 

How to:

1. Measure the width of your child’s wrist and cut one piece of light-colored material out this length plus about a half inch and another piece using a darker fabric twice the length plus an inch. I used white and blue for contrast and made the outer blue piece about four inches wide and the white piece about two. The blue material is leftover organic flannel, which is nice and soft on the skin.

2.  I used embroidery thread and quickly sewed Jonas’s name and birthdate in the middle of the white material. Then, I folded the white material in twice and ironed it flat.  If I had had more time, I’m sure I could have sewed it neater, but I kind of like the crooked look that came out of my lack of time.

3. Cut your dark fabric in half so that you now have three pieces of material the same length. Now sew the light colored fabric with the name of your child onto the middle of one of these strips. I sewed the white piece onto the blue using matching blue thread.

4. Put your other dark piece of material face down onto the one you just sewed and sew around all three pieces together leaving only about an inch opening. Turn your material inside out. Sew this shut by hand, or go around one more time with the sewing machine about an eighth of an inch from the edge as I did.

5. Finally, wrap the band around your child’s hand and mark where it closes. Add two snaps (I prefer the kind you push or hammer in) and your identity band is finished.

Time to fly!