Thursday, September 26, 2013

DIY Binoculars for Kids

As I mentioned yesterday, we have been having a lot of fun exploring our new neighbourhood now that the weather is cooler. The boys love to get outside and go for walks on the trails around our place. The paths are paved, which is great for the trike Henry got for his birthday, and there is no traffic so Andrew can run around freely. It's the perfect activity for that crazy hour between naps and dinner prep!

For the past week or two, Andrew has been toting a set of homemade binoculars with him on our excursions. They consist of two toilet paper rolls held together with tape, then staples, then more tape (he accidentally rips them each day and then begs for a repair). This week I decided to try and make a more durable set of binoculars that would hopefully stand up to his vigorous play.

What better material to stand up to a three years old's antics than Duct Tape!? Andrew picked out a roll of camo duct tape and I went to work! It was super simple, I covered two toilet paper rolls, attached them with a band of tape and then created a strap by folding a long piece of tape into thirds. Andrew was super impressed with my efforts!

We set to the trails with the Fall Nature Hunt I shared yesterday and had a great time in the late afternoon sun!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Nature Hunt...

After a very hot and humid summer (quite a bit stickier than what we are used to in Canada), the crisp days of fall have arrived. It's that wonderful time of year that requires a cozy sweater in the morning but a t-shirt in the afternoon. The sun is shining and the leaves are beautiful! This is such a great time for us to get out of doors, Andrew loves to run and explore and Charlie is super excited to be able to join us without getting too hot!

I have been trying to engage Andrew in some more educational activities these days... but he is not really one for structured learning (I can barely get him to hold a crayon let alone practise writing his name!). However, if I can sneak some learning into the things he does love he doesn't seem to notice! Lately he has been really into detectives.  He likes to sneak around the house and "spy" on his brother and I. So I decided to run with the whole detective thing and make a fun "Nature Mission" for him to take along on our next walk.

Feel free to grab one for yourself! (drag image to your desktop, open and print)

Fall Scavenger Hunt

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Simple Art Display...

I recently set up a little work space for Andrew in our new home. It is a small are where he can complete a puzzle, colour a picture or play with some play dough without the threat of his little brother tearing everything apart! I wanted to incorporate a space where he could display some of his art, like he had in his old bedroom, and I came up with these super simple clipboards.

To make this art display I picked up three plain clipboards from the dollar store, chose some cute scrap booking paper from Michael's and went to work!

First, I cut the paper to the appropriate size. Then, I applied a thin coat of Mod Podge to the back of the paper and the clipboard. i carefully place the paper on the clipboard and then applied another thin coat of Mod Podge to the from of the paper.

The paper looked like it was bubbled and creased at first, 
but once it dried the wrinkles disappeared. 

I covered three clipboards with paper and hung them on the wall in a row. They add a nice splash of colour to an extremely white space and are perfect for showing off all of Andrew's little masterpieces!

I will be sharing the rest of Andrew's workspace soon, so be sure to come back and check it out!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Andrew's First Day of School!!

Today I am sharing a few photos from Andrew's first day of Preschool!

As you can see by the silly grin, he was pretty excited to be on his way to "big boy school"!
He wanted to take his little brother along too (how awesome would that be for me?!) and ensured me that he would have his teachers "keep an eye on him"!

Andrew will be going to school two mornings a week, and is attending "The Nature Preschool at Irvine". This is the perfect set up for a little one who loves to run, play and get dirty! They spend the majority of the morning hiking through the forest and approach the curriculum through lessons from the natural world... pretty cool!

We decided he should wear his Jays hat, so that everyone would know he's Canadian. He must have decided from this conversation that it was really important because every time someone asked him his name he would yell "I'm Andrew from Canada" (like he was speaking to someone with hearing loss). 

I'm so excited for Andrew to jump into this new experience! I know he is going to learn a ton and make lots of new friends! What a big boy he has become!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simple Custom Curtains

Awhile back I mentioned that I would soon be tackling my first set of handmade curtains for Henry's room. His room has been one of the first spaces in our new house that I have tried to complete, because it doubles as our guest room. I did quite a bit of research to try and determine which curtains would be best for his window, and decided that full length was the way to go. This also meant at least 5 yards of fabric! Way to pricey for a one year old's window treatment!! So I ended up taking the easy route, but am super happy that I did! The project cost a total of $35.00 and was completed during one afternoon nap!

Now that we are living so far away from home, we have had quite a few guests come to stay for extended visits. Henry's room is quite large and was able to accommodate a futon and all of his furniture with room to spare. When we have company we simply bring Henry into our room and leave his room for our friends. This works out really well because many of them also have little ones who can sleep in Henry's crib.

Here is one side of the room. super white and super plain. I was hoping that some full length curtains would help break up all of the starkness.

The ceilings in our new home are quite high, so standard 84" panels were not going to do the trick. However, this gave me the opportunity to tweak some inexpensive panels to get a more custom look.  I started with plain grommet panels that I found at Walmart for $12.95. I was happy to find that these  also had a liner that helped to keep out sunlight and noises from the street. 

I folded the panel in half, measured 18" down from the top, drew a line and cut along the line. 

Then, I cut fabric to match the width of the curtain panel. I chose to add 24" of fabric to my curtains. This would give me enough length to hang the curtains about 12" above the top of the window and still have them reach the floor. You may need to alter this measurement based on the window you are covering. 

Once the fabric was cut, I laid the top portion of the cut panel on top of it, right sides together. I pinned and then sewed along the edge.  I repeated this step for the bottom portion of the curtain panel. 

Once I had the top and bottom portion of the panel attached, I folded the raw edge over, pinned, sewed and trimmed to create a tidy finished edge. 

And that was that! They were ready to hang!

I am quite happy with the results! I know I could have been a bit more brave and attempted some "real deal handmade curtains", but this was quick and inexpensive and that is perfect for me right now!

They help break up the white a bit and keep some of the bright light out, which makes the whole room feel warmer. Now to find something to hang on the walls!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Couscous Salad for Toddlers

Meal time is quickly becoming much more difficult around here. Henry has come to the realization that he actually controls what he eats and doesn't have to blindly take in whatever I place on his spoon. This means he has pretty much been surviving on yogurt, fruit and crackers for at least a week! He does, however love pasta. I have been experimenting with a few dishes that both he and Andrew might enjoy, that will give them the "noodles" they want and a few veggies too!

I'm not sure if I was completely behind the curve here, but I have just recently been introduced to Israeli Couscous. It cooks quickly, is wonderful in salads and it's soft texture is perfect for little mouths! To make this salad I simply prepared the couscous (following the instruction on the package) added cooked peas, avocado, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. For a simple dressing I tossed the salad with a tablespoon of olive oil and fresh lemon juice. 

Once I had portioned out some of the salad for the kids, I added salt, ground black pepper and crumbled feta to make it a little more tasty for us adults. 

I wouldn't say that Henry "loved" the salad, but he ate half a bowl and didn't throw the rest on the walls... so I'll count that as a win!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A week at the shore...

This past week an incredibly special Leeper Family tradition was relaunched! For years (and years) Rob has been talking about taking our family on a trip to Ocean City, NJ., a destination which holds years of memories for him.  As a child, Rob returned to Ocean City every year (for 20 years straight!) with his Mom, Dad, Grandma and brother. Each year they would make the drive from London Ontario, and enjoy their days at the beach and nights on the boardwalk.

We rented a small beach house with Rob's brother, T.J.,  and his fiancĂ©, Laura.  Rob and T.J. were so happy to see that little had changed from their childhood memories and they spent the week immersing the rest of us "first timers" in all things Jersey Shore!

The boys enjoyed the beach, playing in the sand and splashing in the waves.

We spent countless hours strolling the boardwalk and giving into pretty much every 
plea and request for rides, games and treats...

which can be quite tiring when you are three and a half!

And we ate... a lot! The boardwalk is chalked full of insanely tasty food. The boardwalk itself is at least a mile long, with some form of deep fried goodness in every other shop. The pizza and ice cream shops alone could have kept me going for months! Luckily, T.J. shares my love for pizza (and all food in general) and we spent one evening sampling a slice from every vendor going. It was incredible! 

We had a fabulous week and will be excited to return for years to come! Here's to the new generation of Leeper family tradition!!