Friday, April 30, 2010

Gabriel's Castle

My nephew, Gabriel, was so excited to start his art project--a colorful castle for his playmobile guys to play in. The first thing we did was come up with a design. We gathered toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and any other boxes we could find. We also bought cork to use and found some popsicle sticks in the craft box.

This is how it turned out. Notice the toys playing in the castle, including the guard dog!

The tubes were either made entirely of cork or they were wrapped with construction paper. They were glued securely to the back and sides of the square box. The King's throne was made from the popsicle sticks and painted. Then, jewels were added. We glued cork to the drawbridge. Ross thought it was sand!;)

To secure the yarn coming from the drawbridge, we glued two pieces of wood with a notch in it on the back side of the castle. (Wooden animals used to stand on these pieces.) Every time Gabriel wants to pull up or let down the drawbridge, he just has to secure it on to the notches.

Gabriel was super excited about this new toy that his mom and I helped him put together. With everyone's creativity, this castle turned out so well. This idea was found in the Family Fun Crafts book, but we did quite a few different things to it. All in all, it was such a great project!

Duck Walk

It was fun looking through my Family Fun Craft Book with Gabriel, Annalina and Ross. They each chose projects that suited their interests and personality. We went to the craft store to get materials that they didn't already have. When we returned, I began working on a craft project with Ross. He chose the "duck walk."

The first thing I had to do was cut out circles out of of paper plates...a small one for the head and two larger ones for the body. Out of scraps I cut out the wings and beak. Ross painted all these parts using yellow and orange poster paint.

The painting took a while to do, but he enjoyed it immensely. While he napped, the paper plates dried and I began working with Gabriel and Annalina on their projects.

Ross and I put the finishing touches on the duck after his nap. We glued on a googly eye as well as some jewels that he wanted on. I glued the parts together to create his cute duck. The feet were the trickiest part of all...a set of four feet were glued on to a yogurt lid then attached between the two "body" plates with a brad fastener. We glued a wooden dowel in between the two plates as well. Then, as Ross pushes the duck, it looks like the feet are moving. When we tried it, it was hard to get the feet to rotate, but I think the more he plays with it, the more it will loosen up and move like it is supposed to.

Ross was so excited when his duck was finished. He had a blast taking his duck for a walk.;)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Annalina's felt flower bouquet

My six-year-old niece, Annalina, loves making crafts of any kind. With some cut out felt flowers and her vivid imagination, she made this adorable flower bouquet:

She and her mom showed me the arrangement soon after my arrival. I was impressed indeed. Annalina placed pipe cleaners through the slits in each flower. The flowers were already made, but if you had some pieces of felt, you could draw some then cut them out. Leaves could also be made with the pipe cleaners. Wouldn't this be a cute idea for a child to make for Mother's Day? It would brighten any mom or grandmother's day for sure!

Ahhh...such a sweet bouquet with such a sweet little girl! 

Strollin' around Monterey Bay...

The next three days of my trip in California were spent with my sister-in-law, Abigail, her husband, Brian, and their four kids--Gabriel, Annalina, Ross and Carson. I was so glad to see everyone, especially Carson, who I'd never met before!

The first full day with them was spent helping with home schooling the older two. I taught a choir class to Gabriel and Annalina, highlighting the basics of singing, as well as focusing on the importance of drawing attention to the Lord when we sing songs about Him. We did it again on my last day, and they enjoyed it thoroughly. In the late afternoon, I was given a driving tour of the Monterey Bay. I hadn't been there in years, so it was such a beautiful sight for me to see...

The sky was a perfect blue and the view of the ocean was splendid. After we saw a crowd of people looking over the fence, Brian pulled over to see what it was all about. He got out of the car and ran towards the crowd. Since I had my camera, I thought I could take a picture and bring it back to show Abigail and the kids. Here's what I saw....

....seals! You have to look real closely as they seem to blend in with their surroundings. There's even a pup lying there in the sun!

We stopped at a nearby restaurant and I treated everyone to some yummy ice cream shakes. The kids loved drawing pictures on the butcher paper on the table.

Mommy and Annalina--such a sweet it!

I had fun watching Brian throw Carson up in the air. His laugh is so cute! So far, my time with the Lysne clan was going great! I'm impressed with how Brian and Abigail are training their children to love the Lord. It is evident that they desire to please God with their parenting. I was so encouraged...

Coming up...something bright and beautiful from one of my favorite girls...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eli's Farm Birthday party

My last day with my side of the family was the same day as Eli's first birthday party. Since you've already seen the decorations and Eli's t-shirt, here are a few more pictures of this fun time with friends and family...

Raquel bought this Little People farm animals birthday sign and hung it in the backyard.

She also set up an art center for the older children to participate in. On the table were farm coloring sheets, markers, wooden stand-up animals to color in and clay to make your own animal. The smaller kids enjoyed writing on the chalkboard with colored chalk.

Eli enjoyed playing with his friends. There were a handful of babies crawling around the house.

There was a bit of drama right before the party started. Mia checked on her guinea pig, Bugsy, and discovered that he died. She cried for a bit while guests were arriving, but when some friends and cousins arrived, her spirit improved. During the party, she wrote the note to her beloved friend for all to see.

After the birthday song and cutting of the cake, we got this nice picture of me, Eli and Raquel. He really liked his piece of cake as you can tell by the mess he made all over his face.;)

Towards the end of the party, I joined the other side of the family--my sister-in-law, her husband and their four kids! I'll begin writing about all the fun I had with them in the near future. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthday banners and other fun stuff!

Before leaving on my trip to CA, I thought it would be fun to make a birthday banner for Eli's party, but I just didn't have enough time. When I arrived, my sister asked me if I'd be willing to make one. It's funny how both of us were thinking of it! She thought of the fabrics to be used, so we went to the nearest craft store to buy most of them. The one we didn't buy was the denim ($8/yard or more--yikes!!). We used an old pair of jeans we had instead. 

This is how it turned out:

Although this could have been done with a sewing machine, I used craft glue and a bit of hot glue to get it done. The letters that spell "Eli, Eli, O" were made from green felt.(Eli's name replaces the familiar "E-I-E-I-O" in "Old MacDonald's farm") The flags were held up with twine. Oh--and don't you just love those pictures of the kids? Raquel paid just a couple dollars for each frame at Target (awesome clearance!) and took the pictures herself. She is great at decorating her home....wish she could come out here to help me out!;)

After that first banner was done, Raquel asked if I could make one for his high chair. I quickly put this one together Sunday morning before church.

My mom made these Little People farm animal wall decorations. She laminated them with contact paper before they were hung on the living room wall. They came out really cute!

Remember these party favors I was working on? I brought the basic materials with me and my sister had all the jars. My mom, Mia, and Jaden helped me with the first assembly steps. Then Raquel and I filled the jars with M&M's and tied the ribbon or twine on with the mini cowbells in front.

Raquel bought these organic yogurt rice crispy bars for the babies. She placed a sticker on each one, then tied ribbon or twine around them. So cute....

I hope these give you some ideas for the next child's birthday party that you will put together. Have fun!;)

Eli's birthday shirt

Several weeks ago, I asked my sister if Eli had something special to wear for his birthday celebration. She said she didn't have anything yet, so I told her I would love to come up with something he could wear.

Keeping with the theme of the Little People farm animals, I painted this...

I drew everything out with chalk first, then painted the bandana, horse and words with both acrylic permanent paints and fabric paint. 

The bandana couldn't just be shown on the front, so I continued the design on the back. It looks like it is "tied" with a knot! After letting it dry for at least 24 hours, I placed it in the dryer for a few minutes to heat set it. I also signed my name on the inside of the shirt so that Eli would know when he's older that his Auntie made it for him.

Before his party started, I got this photo of the two of us. He started out wearing the plaid shirt with it, but it got so hot that he just wore the t-shirt for most of the party time. Everyone loved the shirt on him. I was glad to see him wearing it, as I don't always get to see nieces and nephews enjoying the things I make for them since we live far away from them.

Isn't Eli just adorable? I love him to pieces!;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

T-shirt creations

Since Jaden didn't choose a project from my art book, he and I decided to make him another gorilla shirt. I made him one for his birthday in February. He wears that one all the time, even when it's dirty. Sometimes he digs it out of the dirty laundry basket to wear it! Such a silly boy...

Mia asked if she could make one, too, so I bought plain t-shirts in the color of their choosing. Then, on Friday night, we went to my parent's house for a fun overnight and decided to work on them then.

The first thing I had Mia do was draw out her design with chalk. She wanted to make a western t-shirt, so she asked me to help her draw a bandana and a bunch of x's on the front of the shirt. The next morning, she and I worked on painting it but didn't finish it during our time together. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the end result. :(

Jaden and I set out to work on his on Friday night, too. He wanted me to draw it, but when I started, things were not looking good (thankfully, it was in chalk, so I could just rub it out). He said, "That doesn't look like a gorilla!" I said, "I know, Jaden...if only I had a picture of one to look at, then I can probably do it." My mom found a picture of a gorilla in a coloring book, so I used that as my guide.

When I was done drawing it out, this is what it looked like:

Both Jaden and I were happy with it. I thought it would look like a real chalkboard drawing if I went over the design with white paint, but he wanted red instead.

On Saturday morning, Jaden watched as I began painting over the chalk lines with red acrylic paint. If you want to try this, make sure you use permanent water-based paint. And of course, fabric paint works very well, too! He helped me paint the feet as I guided his hands over the lines. He was very proud of that, as he told his parents later that he helped his auntie paint it.

After a few hours of drying, Jaden wanted to wear it so badly, so I placed it in the dryer for about 15 minutes to heat set it. He was so excited about his new gorilla shirt. He also tends to act like a gorilla when he's wearing it! ;) Later that day, he decided to wear both gorilla shirts at the same time and said he'd like to have a third one--such a nut! 

This was such a fun project to do with Mia and Jaden. It is such a great thing to do with the young people in your life. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sweet Baby Faces

Don't you just love sweet baby faces? With his big brown eyes, long eyelashes and a winning smile, I couldn't help but take many pictures of my nephew, Eli. These are a few of my favorite pictures from my trip...

I love the spiky hair. ;)

Look at those dimples!

Looking out the window is one of Eli's favorite things to do.

I'm not sure what he was laughing about, but he was sure having a good time.;)

While on the swing, the airplane in the sky caught Eli's attention.

Next up...t-shirt creations with Mia and Jaden.:)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jaden as Spiderman

One of Jaden's favorite things is super heros. We all laughed as he walked out of his room wearing his Spiderman costume. He's so cute....

Mia's recycled jean bag

I get so excited when I have the opportunity to do crafts with my nephews and nieces. On this recent trip to CA, I brought this fun book to use with them:

I bought the Family Fun Crafts book at Borders for just a few dollars--and so far, has been worth every cent! When I arrived at my sister's place, I pulled it out to show Mia. I told her to pick something out for us to do. Her eyes lit up as she and younger brother, Jaden, leafed through the pages. She chose to make a jean bag using an old pair of her jean shorts and a t-shirt from her mom.

The first thing we did was cut the bottom of the jeans to make the bottom even. We turned the shorts inside out then took turns hand-stitching the bottom closed. My mom has been teaching Mia to sew, so this was a fun way for her to practice! 

The book says to use a cloth belt to make handles, but we came up with another way to do this. We cut strips of fabric from her mom's t-shirt, then braided them to make one long handle. Then, I cut small holes on the sides of the bag, placed the ends through them, then knotted them.

Mia enjoyed using craft paint to make fun designs on her bag. 

We had to let each side dry before she could use it. It was very hard for her to wait!

It was Mia's idea to make just one handle long enough for her to wear it this way. As the next couple days passed, she began filling her bag with her favorite things.

Here you can see the handle poking through to the outside of the bag--so cute! I am glad that the pockets were left in tact and are just perfect for those little things Mia wants to tote around.

Next up...more fun with Mia, Jaden and Eli!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eli's birthday treats

Even though Eli's birthday party was set for Sunday (the 18th), Raquel wanted to do a couple special things on his real birthday on the 15th. She asked if I could make pancakes using the Mickey Mouse waffler she had for a yummy breakfast.

I whipped up a batch of oatmeal pancakes for us to enjoy with him. My dad came over and had a couple himself. Then, he started playing with Eli.

As you saw in the video, Eli loves throwing things, so playing ball with his grandpa was a fun thing to do.

I just love this picture of the two of them. Isn't it just precious?

Raquel had a cake mix, along with some frosting and sprinkles. I made a small cake for Eli using a 4-inch ramekin. I put the rest of the batter in a 9x13-inch pan. After they were baked and cooled, I spread frosting and put the sprinkles on. It was Raquel's idea to use licorice to make the number 1. I think it turned out really cute.

After dinner, we lit the cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to little Eli. He dug into the cake and loved it! 

Next up....a fun craft with big sister Mia!:)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eli's sock-throwing game

With so many activities from this past week with family, I decided to just start posting them in chronological order. This video is of my one-year-old nephew, Eli, who played a game with me the morning after I arrived. He's such a cutie--and has quite the arm for throwing things! I think he'll be a super baseball pitcher some day. 

There's more fun to come...stay tuned!

I'm back!;)

Just wanted to let you all know that I returned safely from my trip to CA early this morning. I had a great time with family, but I'm also glad to be back home with my Q. As I started walking to the baggage claim, he met me with a pot of purple hyacinths. When we arrived home, I noticed a spotless house, including all the dishes put away and the laundry done. What a sweet guy....

We both slept in and I've taken my time unpacking and doing laundry. I even showed Q most of the pictures and videos of our seven nephews and nieces before he left for work. I'll be showing you a lot of those pictures in the days ahead. They include quite a few fun crafts and activities that I did with my favorite kiddos.;)

Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Tuesday morning was busy as I got ready, had a nice brunch with Q and headed to the airport. I said good bye to my Q and proceeded with checking in to board the plane.

I've been in California for about two days now and it's been great visiting with family. I came to be a part of my nephew's first birthday. My sister knew I was coming, but my parents did not. We came up with a fun way to surprise them. My sister, Raquel, picked me up with the birthday boy, Eli, whom I had never seen in person til' now. I posed with Eli for a quick camera picture and sent it to my mom. A couple hours later, my mom called Raquel and was a bit confused as to what the picture was. Raquel told her that perhaps I photo shopped it. It was hard not to laugh in the background. A few minutes passed and mom was still not sure until I got on the phone and said, "Hi Mom!" We surprised my dad later when Raquel's older two kids and I hid in the closet and he went looking for them. We all screamed when he opened the door. It was so funny!

After Eli's party on Sunday, I'll be going to Monterey to spend a few days with Q's sister and her family. I'm so excited to be spending time with them, too. She also has an almost-one-year-old who I haven't met yet, so it's going to be fun getting to know Carson.

So, while I'm here, feel free to look around my blog...I won't be posting again until I get home next week. I'll show you all pictures when I return. I miss my Q, but I'm glad he let me come out here. Talk to you all soon...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hugh's cowboy sign

After I made Q a sign for his church office, one of the deacons asked if I would make him one. He told me everything he wanted on it. I added a small cowboy motif on it because Hugh is a real cowboy and I knew he would like it.

After staining the wood, I looked for western fonts online and was happy to find this one. I first drew out the letters with a pencil then carefully painted the letters in with black craft paint. I painted some red and blue stars for a decorative touch.

The cowboy drawing is not original with me. I found it on the back of a Bill Rice Ranch book and thought it would be perfect for Hugh's sign. When the paint was dry, I sprayed glossy finish on it and signed my name on the back.

When I gave Hugh his sign on Sunday, he thanked me for it and said he liked it very much. He showed everyone that morning, too. He was pretty excited and I'm so glad!:)