May 24, 2011

Magnet Tablets How-To

As promised, here is a quick tutorial for making a magnetic board and figurines (like these) for story time.

Step 1: Marry a crazily talented guy who can whip up adorable drawings of anything at all at the drop of a hat. Barring that, pick some backgrounds and figures to go on them and draw some yourself, or even download some free clip art from the interwebs.

Step 2: Digitize and colorize your drawings, in whatever order works better. Then print all of this out on some magnetic ink jet printer paper (I used Avery brand, which worked quite well). Then paint a thin layer of Mod Podge to seal the printer ink.

Step 1 - Mod Podge Magnets

Step 3: Cut out the figurines. In my excitement over Misha's supercute animals, I actually cut them out before the Mod Podge and it was a mistake. Trust me and don't make my mistake. No matter how cute cute cute your little friends come out.

Step 2 - Cut Out Magnets

Step 4: Use some tin snips to cut a piece of sheet metal to size. I bought a 12"x26" sheet of 26 gauge steel from Lowe's and cut two 12"x9.5" pieces from it to go with my 11"x8.5" backgrounds.

Step 3 - Cut Sheet Metal

Step 5: Cut out a piece of fleece with about a 1/4" allowance on each side. Cut out whatever backing fabric you'd like to use for the lap side of the magnet board, with about an 1" allowance on each side.

Step 4 - Cut out Fleece and Fabric

Step 6: The edges of the sheet metal are sharp enough to cut through the fabric, so you have to tape them with thin strips of duct tape (or electrical tape would probably work as well).

Step 5 - Tape Metal Edges

Step 7: Center the fabric and the metal on top of each other. Fold the outer fabric over to the edge of the metal and then over again onto the metal.

Step 6 - Line up and Fold Fabric

Step 8: Use hot glue (or any glue that will bond to metal) to glue the fabric down.

Step 7 - Glue Down First Side

Step 9: Fold up and sew down the corner.

Step 8 - Sew Down Corner

Step 10: Keep going around, gluing down each remaining side and sewing down the corners. And now you're done! Throw on your magnets and let the kids have at it!

May 23, 2011

And Now We Are Two

A perfect day for our perfect boy - and a wonderful celebration of our family, our life, and our last few weeks in this house. It couldn't have been any better.

Lara picked the party theme: dinosaurs ("Well, Mommy, Jakey likes dinosaurs and I do too, so I think that would be a good theme since it'll make both of us happy.") She was then on tenterhooks for a whole week before the party. I've never seen her so excited in anticipation. We prepared by trying to get Jakey to say "I'm two years old" in response to "How old are you?"... with mixed results.

The dinosaurs delivered - and how. Check out this inflatable red monster - a big hit all around. Except with Jakey who, while not completely terrified of it, still kept a respectful distance. He did wish it good-night before going to bed, so maybe he's not quite sure whether it's actually alive or not.

No worries though - the birthday boy quickly zeroed in on some dinos more his speed. We had a whole pack of smaller inflatables, which were cool enough, but paled in comparison to their giant friend.

Eventually, Lara rounded them all up and constructed some kind of throne for herself!

The cupcakes were topped with teeny tiny plastic dinos, which went over gangbusters as well. Jakey wasn't entirely clear on what the deal was with the fire coming at him, but he did spend the rest of the party singing "Happy Birthday to You" to himself while dancing around.

Family, friends, love, laughter, sun, warmth, and lots and lots of adorable and hilarious kids. Just a completely amazing day.

May 18, 2011

For the Birthday Boy!

The birthday book making continues unabated! Although we stretched the word book a little bit in this case, I think. Still, it came out fantabulous, if I do say so myself. Presenting two magnetic animal sets:

underwater page

Everything except the boat and seaweed is separate on that one - and you can see the always awesome sight of a killer whale eating a giant squid.

safari page

Here, everything except the river and mountains is separate - keep your eye on that mountain-scaling turtle. I hear those suckers are fast.

safari page (showing magnet back)

This one is just to show that even the scene itself is separate from the board, so in theory we could make even more backdrops in the future.

underwater animalsunderwater background

All the underwater animals we made, and the barebones background.

safari animalssafari background

And now, all the safari animals and their background.

Stay tuned - a tutorial is totally coming up next!

May 14, 2011

The Darndest Things

We just realized that now would be a good time for a compendium of the latest kidspeak, lest we forget the hilarity in three months, as we always do.

Some recent gems from Jakey:

- Jakey is banging on a metal railing with a rock for a satisfying clang. Then he drops rock, bangs on the metal with his hand, looks at me and says, "It's not workin'. It's broken."

- On being moved from the Ben Franklin statue to the Button on Penn's campus, Jakey squints up his face and whimpers. Then he smiles and says, "I petendin' cryin', mommy."

- With a briefcase in hand, Jakey wanders out of the room, "Bye-bye I see you 'ater, mommy, I goin' woohk."

- Jakey's various wants and desires: "I waht sunnin ehse" (I want something else - any time offered food is not to his liking); "I needa kahkin" (I need a napkin - any time anything accidentally ends up on his fingers. But if he's the one who stuck them into dirt? No problem, no kahkin required.)

Meanwhile, pretty much on her own, Lara has been really getting into math, surprising us by doing arithmetic in her head:

- During our bank's Sesame Street money video (it's some kind of collaboration. Kind of cute, actually), Lara watches Elmo try to save 5 bucks for a cool ball. When he has two, I ask her how much more he needs. Without blinking an eye, completely matter-of-factly, she goes, "3". Later, when Elmo decides to share some of his savings, she instantly calculates that 4 minus 2 is 2.

- Looking outside on a rainy day, Lara declares, "There are infinity raindrops."

- Inspired by the awesome paleontology song on They Might Be Giant's "Here Comes Science" DVD, Lara has now figured out her future career. "Can we watch the "paleontologist" song again so I know what I want to be when I grow up and remember to get the right job and go to the right school to be a paleontologist?"

May 12, 2011

Mother's Day Calm

Sometimes photos exaggerate slightly, but in this case? It really was this peaceful and happy that day.

May 8, 2011


On another mother's day a few years ago, I made these family doodle pillows in reversed colors - one for my mom, one for Misha's mom. On this mother's day, there was a slight amendment made. See if you can spot the difference:

Family doodle pillow for Mom

Happy Mother's Day! Oh, and stay tuned for photos of our fabulous, sun-drenched, perfect weather DC weekend.

May 5, 2011

Cozy Quilt

Flannel quilt
I realized that I never shared the finished quilt with you guys! I really like how the top part was changed by the ties - it looks all cute and lumpy and cozy. For the binding I used leftovers from the white and brown polka-dot flannel from the quilt's B-side. We've been sleeping under it for a week now, and it's been judged a win. Whoo-hoo!