Friday, February 24, 2012

How to turn your backyard slide into a waterslide

I like to think of March as the beginning of warm weather time.  It's totally not true, but it makes me feel better. So anyway, I've been meaning to post my little creation for a while and decided that now would be a good time since I'm kinda sick of Spider Solitaire. You may notice I blurred some of the kids in these pictures.  It isn't because they're ugly.  It's because they aren't mine.  They're actually pretty cute.  Too bad you don't get to see them.

Here's a shot of the thing in action.  My kids don't like water on their heads so it was adjusted to the lowest setting for my daughter.  Some days I wonder how she survives the shower. (I'm meeelllllting! What a world. [I'm not insinuating that she's evil.  She just doesn't like the water])

I apparently cropped this next picture a little too much.  My backyard isn't exactly weed free and is frequently visited by children.  Anywho...That should say Adjust Water Here.  I found a cool little doodad (not its official name) that splits the water two ways and allows you to adjust the pressure in either way.  My kids like it on the gentle setting.  My neighbor's kids like insane.  In case you're wondering, yes my son did manage to get his feet wet.  But not anything else. The temperature was in the nineties that day.

You can see the hose going into the pool at the bottom of this one.  The pool is double ringed but we only inflated the bottom ring.  We put some water in the air chamber to keep the pool from moving away from the slide.  We've also used a plastic water slide at the end.  The kids slid further but it was a bumpy landing. We like this pool a lot better and the splash is bigger too - depending on the kid.

Here's a shot of the slide on the strongest setting - or insane.  My vegetable garden likes this setting too.

So here's what you need. PVC pipe, pipe cutters, PVC hose attachment, elbow, cap, PVC glue, electric drill with a really small bit. Optional supplies: splitter doodad as mentioned above (I found mine at Lowes.) Spray paint.

What it looks like assembled.

Step 1: Cut pipe to right length.  I did this one long so my nephew, who is on the short side, can attach the hose without help.  Mine is shorter so the kids can adjust the setting when they're sitting on the slide.

Step 2:  Spray paint.

Step 3: Once the paint is dry, drill tiny holes up the side and along the top.

See how the holes aren't in a straight line?  This is what makes it squirt everywhere.  I call it the fun factor.  My kids call it terrifying.

Step 4: Glue the pieces together.  Make sure you know which side of the slide your hose will attach so you don't end up with the hose attached to the wrong side.  If you aren't careful you could water the swings instead of the slide.  Although that could be fun too.

Step 5: Once your glue has dried, attach it to your slide.  I used zip ties but every slide is different so use whatever works.

Step 6: Sunscreen! (My  boys were sunburned because their dad took them swimming when I wasn't feeling well.  Nice to have a quiet house.  Not so nice to have sunburned kids.)

I think I covered everything.  It's a really simple inexpensive project and the kids love it. Actually, my kids like it.  Their friends love it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kids crafts: fleece pillows

This is the last week my kids are off track.  I love having them around but they are so bored being here all day.  I am so ready for them to go back to school!

I got the idea for this last project from a television show I saw at the dentist office.  (Open wider.  Spit.  Open wider. Oooh, pretty pillows!)  Since I was looking for one last off track project I decided to try it.  I even had all the supplies.  I love projects that don't require  a trip to the store.

Start with two pieces of fleece the same size.  I like using two different colors.  You'll see why below.

Put the pieces together and then cut the corners and strips. I don't measure.  That's why I put the two pieces of fabric together.  Cut right side out.  Unlike sewing, you work with the right side facing out.

My precious scissors are really sharp and I didn't want my kids to get cut so I did all the cutting (no really!  that's exactly why I won't let them touch my beautiful scissors.) My daughter and her friend are ten and my son is seven.  The girls might have been able to do the cutting but I'm glad I opted to do the cutting myself based on their tying skills.

Once the fabric is cut, the kids can tie the strips together.  Be sure to remind them to keep the squares together.  It's easy to skip a strip.  My daughter got to the end and had two extra pink strips because she had skipped two purple.  It's a good thing fleece is so forgiving.  You will also want to make sure they double knot them.  My daughter's friend was only single tying.  It came apart rather quickly.  Then I had to retie it. My youngest had a hard time tying so I did most of it.

Stop when you have three sides tied together so you can stuff it.

Stuffing is one step my kids had no problem doing.  Once it's stuffed, tie the remaining side.  And you're done.

My kitty obsessed seven year old with his tiger pillow.

My daughter's pillow is two sided, depending on her mood.  I love the little opposing color fringes. These little pillows are so soft I'm tempted to make one for me, only bigger. They would make great throw pillows for couches or beds.  Of course right now the kids are using them to beat each other.  Whatever.  At least they're soft.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kids crafts: fun shirts

This is the last week my kids are off track so I will be posting one more craft this week and then get back to my regular doodles.

Last week my kids decorated shirts with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol.  Here are the results.

Last time we did this I had the kids put elastic bands around the shirts, cover them with marker, and then we sprayed them with rubbing alcohol.  This time we did something different.  The kids put the shirt over a cup and then put the rubber band over the lip of the cup.  They colored small areas and then I used a dropper to put the rubbing alcohol on them, creating these cute little circles.  It's really cool how the rubbing alcohol spreads the colors.  This first shirt is my daughter's.  She loves pink and purple.

The shirt above and below are my son's shirts.  He likes green, orange, and whatever marker is closest to his hand - as long as it isn't pink.

I helped my son with the second shirt since he lost interest after the first few circles he put in the middle of the shirt.
My daughter's second shirt.  The circles kind of look like CDs.

A close up of the stars

I made little roses on my daughter's sleeve.  I think they're pretty cute.

My daughter modeling one of her shirts.

My son modeling one of his shirts.

I think what I like best about these shirts is how random they are.  My kids love that they made them.  Leave a comment if you want more information for making these shirts.  I think I originally got the idea from a television show but I've seen them on Pinterest so it's pretty easy to find more information on them.  The key is to play around and have fun.  Kids are good at that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

I decided a few years ago that I didn't want to give my children more candy for Valentine's day.  This year my two youngest are off track (They go to a year round school which means they go to school for nine weeks and are off for three instead of getting the summer off.) but they still end up with more sweets than I'd like them to have.  So I decided to give them books for Valentine's day - but not just any books - books they'll love or books I loved when I was young. The first year I did this I gave my oldest A Wrinkle In Time.  He loved it. I gave my daughter Anne of Green Gables a few years ago.  It turned out to be a simplified illustrated version.  I was disappointed but she liked it anyway. I checked the full version out for her from the library and it didn't interest her. I'll have to try again now that she's older.

This year I was really excited to give them their Valentine's books.  I ordered The Whisper by Emma Clayton for my almost 13 year-old son thinking it wouldn't be available until Feb 21.  To my delight it was available early! (I took the picture from Amazon.  You can't actually click the picture.  But if you go to Amazon and click the picture there, you can look inside.)

We have anxiously been waiting to this sequel to The Roar for over a year now.  My oldest checked The Roar out from the library because he liked the gun on the cover. He didn't plan to read it.  I read it and told him it was kind of like Ender's Game, which he loved.  He read The Roar and loved it too.

I knew this Valentine would be a hit - and it was.  I even got a hug.  Did I mention he's almost 13?  I love hug-worthy gifts. If you haven't read The Roar - go get it!  It is similar to Ender's Game with the simulators they use to train the children, but the rest is very original.

My daughter, who is ten, is going through an odd phase in regards to books.  She likes strange books and she likes books that give her nightmares.  She doesn't always like the books I liked when I was young and she isn't always ready to read the books I like now.  (Although I just read Tuesday's At The Castle by Jessica Day George and suggested she try it.  She's reading it now and is enjoying it.)

Anyway, I found this copy of Alice in Wonderland and thought she would like it.  The pictures come from several different artists and it contains the full text. (I checked this time.) It really is a beautiful book and she has always liked the story.  She's seen the movie but hasn't read the book.  I'm happy to say she likes it.  Part of the reason I picked it is because she likes art so much.

This book was a no-brainer.  My youngest adores Bad Kitty.  It's funny.  It contains a lot of pictures for his wandering mind.  It has challenging text for a 1st grader who reads on a 3rd grade level.  And it is about cats.  I hope Nick Bruel continues to publish more of these books.

I think my son's favorite part of the Bad Kitty books is Uncle Murray's fun facts.  My son actually uses them as reference.  Our cat thinks the tub is a great place to get a drink so he's always in the tub.  I told my son he wanted a bath.  My son ran to his room, grabbed Bad Kitty Get's a Bath, and read to me about how cats hate baths.  I gave him this new book a half an hour ago and he's already finished it. I was smart this time and got him the hard cover.  He sleeps with the books and the rest of the series is getting hashed.

Oh, and my wonderful husband got those scissors I wanted!  It's one of the most romantic gifts he's ever given me.  They're so shiny and pretty (and sharp!).  He also got me chocolate covered strawberries and paper lanterns like the ones from Tangled.  I can't wait for Spring so we can take them out somewhere and light them.  They're even bio degradable.  How cool is that?

I got my husband this music.

I made him some chocolate frogs to go along with it and some other music from the Piano Guys.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Valentine's day!  What do you get for your loved ones?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kids crafts: wooden bracelet

I am working on more blog installments that aren't craft related.  I promise.  They can take a lot of time to draw. (I have mentioned that my artistic skills need some improving.) My two younger kids are off track and I told them, and my daughter's friend, that we will do something fun on Fridays if they get their stuff done every day of the week.  (I make my daughter's friend do math along with my kids.  I'm just mean that way.)

I got the original idea for these bracelets here. I changed it so the kids could make their own bracelets.  My 7 year old son wasn't too excited about a bracelet so his is a communicator.  Then the girls decided theirs would be communicators too.  

I followed the instructions for the bracelets in the above blog except we didn't use craft paper.  We used regular paper and the kids used permanent markers to create their own designs.  I traced a flat stick on the paper and they colored them.  Then they cut them out and used mod podge to stick their papers on the bent wooded sticks.  We added another layer of mod podge over the top of the papers and let them dry. They dried cute and shiny.  The kids love them.

I think the best part is that I already had the craft sticks, markers, and paper.  I did have to buy the mod podge but I could have used equal parts Elmers glue and water instead.  I opted for the mod podge so I could be sure they'd be waterproof.

Next week we're doing tie dye shirts with permanent markers.  We've done it before but they've all outgrown their shirts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Easy baby blankets

I've made several of these blankets for family and friends but I haven't thought about posting pictures before.  They are really cute and easy to make.  (Easy but time consuming) Part of the fun is using whatever fleece fabric remnants I find at the store and seeing how they go together (or don't). In this case I think it turned out darling. 

There is no sewing involved.  You simply cut out the squares.  Make sure they are all the same size.  Come up with a pattern for the squares. (Like a quilt)  I've made blankets with more than two types of fabric.  Unfortunately I never took pictures.  In this pattern I cut an extra strip of the pink to go around the edge so it would have that extra frilly look. 

Make sure you have really sharp scissors.  I brought my sadly dull scissors with me to work on the blanket at my mother-in-laws house and she suggested I borrow hers.  I used her scissors and informed my husband that scissors can be viewed as an extremely romantic gift. (Valentine's day is around the corner.  I'm hoping....)

Anyway, once you have your squares cut out, line two squares together and cut along tiny strips along one side.  Then tie them together.  They create the cute little bows.  Then line it up with the next square and repeat.  

Once you finish the one side, line it up with a large piece of fleece and tie the two together.  No sewing involved.