Jun 30, 2011

Alphamom guest post and DIY mobile

I just wrote another post over at Alpha Mom, showing how we made some window decorations and beaded butterflies using the plastic from gallon milk jugs. You can read about how we made them and get the free butterflies template here.

We'll definitely be making more to hang in our windows in the future, and I doubt a milk jug will make it into our recycling bin without being used for this purpose again! I just need to get about a thousand more suction cups to keep up with the girl's creating.

We used our butterflies to hang on a mobile for the third mini Filth Wizard, so in addition to the tutorial over at Alpha Mom, I thought I'd share with you a few pictures showing how we put the mobile together once we had made the butterflies. Here it is from the baby's veiwing angle, looking up from the chest of draws we have in our bedroom where the changing pad is.

I used a few things that I'd found in thrift stores to put it together. The main ring was part of a medium sized embroidery hoop that I wrapped in green cotton yarn.

Then used a random small wooden ring that Paul had found in a big bag of misc wooden items at the thrift store to hang the mobile up from a hanging basket bracket.

I'd also found some wooden curtain rings with little metal clips at the thrift store and thought if I covered those with some bright yarn remnants then they would look pretty and also allow us to swap out whatever was hanging from the mobile whenever we wanted. My two older girls are very into the idea of making new things to clip up there for the baby to see.

Once I tied all that lot on the mobile and hung it up, I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of decoration around the main hoop, so I cut out some felt leaves and made six little crochet flowers to attach using the mini flower tutorial over at Attic 24.

Here it is all finished and hung up in the corner of our bedroom along with the rocker and towel rail we put up for hanging her clothes.

Have any of you made your own mobiles for your babies? I'd love to see some of them if you have! It'll be interesting to see what my older two girls come up with to hang on this one when they get bored with the butterflies.

Thank you all for your congratulations and warm well wishing on the arrival of Delyth :) You're a lovely lot! It's nice to hear that a lot of you have more children than hands and are enjoying every minute of it too. Delyth is still an easy going little scamp and we're having a very relaxing and quite mellow start to the school summer vacation with her. She was two weeks old yesterday and Paul's been back at work this week, but thanks to some wonderful friends who have made us dinner on a few nights and another that had the big kids over to play for a few hours on Tuesday, I'm not feeling maxed out and have been able to have kids over to our place to play and get out a bit with them too. The trip I mentioned that we were going to attempt on Monday to the wild animal exhibit at the local library went much better than I had anticipated. No one was eaten by the artic lynx and no one broke the armadillo. Success!
She likes her recycled t-shirt sleep gown :)

Jun 25, 2011

Baby is here, and thank you LiEr!

Delyth Lyn arrived at 10.30pm on 15th June. She was the biggest of my three girls at 8lb 4oz and is also the most chilled out of my babies so far. In case anyone is curious, Delyth is another fairly common Welsh name, just like Carys and Ffion. It is pronounced "Dell-ith". I feel very lucky indeed that she is so calm and happy, given that my first daughter screamed incessantly for her first three months of life. Her demeanor is certainly making my first few days as a mum of three a lot easier to manage than I was anticipating. Here's the little love before she was even a day old...

The big sisters are in heaven! They felt like they were waiting an eternity to be able to meet her. 9 months must seem like forever to a five and a six year old. Now that we have her to cuddle and fuss over, Carys and Ffion are made up.

She hasn't worn much of the knitting and crochet that I made for her while I was pregnant yet, but she does love the blanket that I hooked a couple of months ago :) It was a free pattern I downloaded from Ravelry called "Rainbow Ripple baby blanket" by Celeste Young, and was very quick to make. It only took three skeins of Caron Simply Soft yarn.
We made it to the hospital to have her, but only just. I was admitted at 9.30 and had her just before 10.30. They had just about enough time to get me in a room and in a gown and get the doctor in there! We had to fill in all the hospital admissions paperwork after she was born. It was also the first time I've managed to give birth without being pumped full of Pitocin and I have to say, it was a totally different experience. No pitocin and no time meant no epidural and I found it so so much nicer that way. I'm just so happy that my body co-operated this time around and I got to give birth with minimal medical intervention, albeit rather hurredly! It's made recovery a lot faster for me and I can't help wondering if Delyth's Zen composure is somehow linked to not being put through a long and intense labour with medication like my other two had, then again, maybe it's just who she is. I almost can't imagine having a calm child!?! The other two are raging stuntwomen, so I don't really expect it to last ;)

I have a blogosphere thank you that I want to send out to LiEr, who many of you know writes Ikatbag, where she makes fabulous sewn creations, plus plenty of recycley toy goodness that of course I'm well impressed and enthused by. LiEr, being really sweet and lovely just sent us a welcome to the world baby Boardman parcel, full of gorgeous things that she'd sewn. I've taken a photo so that you can see how totally cute this stuff is.
Six reversible bibs in many different prints of brushed cotton, a snuggly fleece blanky, and one of her fleecy baby balls with ribbon tags and a jingly bell inside. She also put in a cute little homemade card for us and a load of cool little wooden shapes for the big kids to paint up and play with. Thank you LiEr! The personal value of handmade gifts is immense and I'm really touched that you did this for us. I hope that I can get something in the mail to you and your girls soon too. I have to figure out nursing in a sling so that I have both hands free to knit and crochet ;)

Oooh, and I thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how alike my girls looked as newborns. Most people comment that we have a brunette now, but both my other two started out with dark hair like their dad's too but had started to go blonde by about eight or nine months old.

Paul goes back to work on Monday, so we'll see how well I cope with more children than hands when that happens! We've actually got plans to go to see a wild animal exhibit that's being brought to the local library. I'm curious to see how wrong that can go, given that last time I took my kids to an animal exhibit at the library when they were toddlers, we had to leave because their volume settings were malfunctioning and the igunanas were terrified.

Jun 12, 2011

Open ended sculpture fun with glue and sticks

This project started off before Maker Faire, I think back at the end of April. We went to the Exploratorium in San Francisco (the kid's favourite museum and probably mine too). They had just brought in an amazing matchstick sculpture by a guy called Scott Weaver (I didn't realise until just now when I went looking for something to link to for him that he started doing this at the age of eight, and says he started off building abstract pieces of about 2 to 4ft tall! So cool!). His sculpture was hunormous and had taken him over 30 years to construct. I snapped some photographs of it so that you can see it's awesomeness, plus a video clip of it in action, because it's not just a static sculpture featuring landmarks throughout the bay and the city of SF. It's contructed with many different paths inside it, twisting and winding through that you can drop ping pong balls into and watch them roll their way around the bay's sights, hence the sculpture's name "Rolling through the bay".

Here's the video I took of it in action:

My girls, who are now five and six years old, were blown away by this sculpture and it's complexity and the fact that it was made out of so many simple little sticks just glued together. My older daughter in particular usually has the following first response to things of this magnitude: "Can we make that?", and these days I'm pretty used to finding ways to facilitate a project for them that's at least similarly themed. I have to be quick off the mark with these things though, because it only takes a couple of days max for the kids to move on to another "grand scheme". Luckily in my stash of random thrift store and recycling finds I had a massive bag of wooden coffee stirrers and another massive bag of lolly pop sticks that I'd scored for a buck each at the local charity shop. These were ideal for allowing the kids to build big and fast. I had a feeling that toothpicks or matchsticks would have been a bit too small to inspire the youngest among us, especially given that it was the scale of the structure that they were most keen to emulate. As always with the kids I opted to use the low temp hot glue guns, because they give immediate results.

The day after we'd been to the exploratorium we had some friends over and I was glad that I'd taken the video and pictures of Scott Weaver's creation, because we were able to enthuse my daughter's friends with the project plans too. So, once they were all on board and were chattering about ideas of what to make, I gave them a big bit of plywood from the garage and a box of sharpie markers to draw on it with, while I pulled out the glue guns and glue sticks and extension cords and wooden sticks and set them up around the table for them. This is what they started off with that morning...

This is what we had by the time the kids went home that day...

It was interesting to see the different approaches that the different kids took. I deliberately gave them one big bit of plywood to work on because although they started off in different corners of the board, working in groups of two or three or sometimes alone, eventually the separate elements would come together into a collaborative piece and would grow quickly. My younger daughter and her friend started with an organic approach of gluing sticks to the board and to each other's sticks without much of a plan as to where it was going, but their imaginations quickly took over and they were chattering about the "magical ancient swimming pool" they were building. Other kids like my older daughter and her friend were planning ideas on paper before they picked up the glue guns and other kids were making objects off the board and then attaching them to the sculpture afterwards. All different approaches and all resulting in equally interesting creations.

The kids did start to create a track for ping pong balls to run along, but that aspect of the sculpture was clearly very secondary to the freeform building going on.

I think you can already guess that this project has no end goal. It's lived in our home for over a month now and changes daily. For a couple of weeks it was sat in the livingroom being used as an ever changing imaginary playscape for various toys. It's had my yarn remnants draped over it like a crumbling ruined city deep in the jungle...

It's been painted all sorts of colours and had flags added. Actually the kids are painting more of it as I type this.

It's even got a Lowes Build and Grow wooden trebuchet added to defend it. I think it's become a sort of building in their minds.

They have added a door to one part of it that is made from a baby wipe packet closure, which works really well and I have a load more of them that they can add too because friends have been saving them for me to use in a different way, but we have plenty to use for this too.

The kids quickly found out that if they didn't like something where it was then they just had to touch the hot tip of the gun to the glue to soften it and pull off the sticks to go elsewhere. The combination of hot glue and porus wooden sticks made a beutifully sturdy, yet lightweight structure, so I can move it between rooms for them really easily. It's likely to be worked on or played with gradually over the summer. Both my girls say that it's supposed to reach the ceiling, so they have their work cut out if that's what the really want. I'm interested to see where this ends up by the time school starts up again. We're sure to have a bunch of kids around here this summer, so there will be plenty of varied brainpower to contribute!

I think we have enough in the way of wooden sticks to get this thing to about 4 feet tall. I'll keep my eyes open for more coffee stirrers and popsicle sticks at the thrift stores though, just in case they want to keep going with it. I remember one of the most frustrating parts of epic building projects as a kid being running out of materials when you wanted to keep going. I like how this is turning out to be a slow paced project, because it gets played with more often than it gets modified and as the kid's imaginations work on it through play, the new ideas to continue building are born.

In other news, this third little girl is still inutero, with less than a week until her due date now. We were really expecting her before now because of the extra amniotic fluid I'm carrying (my bump is mahoooosive!), but I guess she's very comfortable, even if I'm not ;) It's buffet night at the local Indian place this evening though, so maybe that will help to serve a fetal eviction notice and I'll have a cute newborn photo of the latest filth wizardlett to share with you before too long.