Friday, January 28, 2011

Celebration Banner

I saw a banner like this in The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. Great book filled with many creative ideas that anyone can do. I dog eared it and wanted to make it for the longest time. My son's 4th birthday crept up on my pretty quick so I put this thing together in one night! Needless to say I stayed up till 1am making it. Bad mistake! But I got it finished!

Okay just to let you know, Im not very good at directions, I like to wing it, so if you need help with something please let me know! I will try to explain as best as I can. You can also check out the book!

You need:
fabric, extra wide double fold bias tape, sewing machine, rotary cutter, self healing mat, ruler
 I cut out a template of cardstock for my triangles. The sides are 8in and the top edge is 6in. I cut 2 pieces of fabric out of each design, for a total of 22 triangles. I sewed the wrong sides of the same fabric together, but did not sew the top, so I could flip it inside out. I made enough triangles so later on I could sew my son's name on.
 After I sewed all the triangles and turned them inside out, I pinned them inside the bias tape. Then I sewed along the edge of the biased tape making sure each triangle was sewed to the tape.
 I was really proud of the way it turned out! I got some fabric for my 2 girls and I will make one for each of them to use on their birthdays or to celebrate an special occasion. I thought how special it would be to use each banner as the kids get older and they can take it with them when they move out, maybe pass down to their kids!

Here are several sites with the same idea (and probably better directions)
See Mommy Sew
Vanilla Joy

Monday, January 24, 2011

Get outside and explore!

There is a great group called the Anchorage Family Outdoor Network to help you get out and enjoy the outdoors with your little ones. Two amazing ladies organize the group and lead subgroups. Harmony leads Taiga Trekkers and Lia leads Skedaddle. These ladies inspire me to get out of the house with the little ones and I hope this interview inspires you to get some fresh air or better yet join in the fun!!

Please tell us a about your groups and what you offer.
Taiga Trekkers is a great group of active parents. We meet up most Thursdays at 10. We have also recently added a once a month family Trek to include working families and spouses. The group started out with hiking with just infants and toddler and we have evolved to bigger kids who want to trek on their own. We certainly aren't sprinting up the trails, we take our time and wait for each other to tend to our children's needs. Infants and toddlers are worn or pushed in strollers/sleds. The older kids hike at their own speed. We may not all travel the same average speed, but make sure that no one is ever alone, that there are always two adults together. This way we do not need to worry about keeping the entire pack together. With the cold temperatures in the winter and larger animals in the spring and summer, the buddy system is important for safety. It is also important to break and let the munchkins get out and enjoy nature themselves. I try to schedule a stroller/sled/pulk friendly event every other week.Eventually we will evolve into an all ages family hiking group when our older kiddos become too big for the strollers and carriers.

Setting off on trails we expect to find wonder and are not stressed if we don't get to the final destination. Safety and sanity always come first. We respectfully request that dogs do not come on our hikes.
Thanks to some wonderful sponsors we have some great gear for parents to test drive. Please check out our gear page for more info.

We are in the Alaskan wilderness and hiking ultimately is at your own risk. We trust that each adult will act according to what is in the best interest of their child and themselves.
Lia:  I co-lead the Anchorage Outdoor Family  Network with Harmony.  She is the major leader and I just try to put in activities when they arise!

My main group is Skedaddle, an all weather playgroup.  I feel strongly about kids needing to be out in nature with unstructured time.  We currently meet at playgrounds or nature sites around town, but if the needs of the group change, I am open!  I have only cancelled one skedaddle - on the icy road day when schools closed.  We had about 6 families when it  was right at zero and during the summer the numbers increase greatly!
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am a stay-at-home mama taking time away from being an elementary teacher. My husband is in construction. We have one child who is turning 2 in February and two K9 kids.
Lia:  I was born in Alaska and am so happy to be living here again.  I have two boys, one and two, born 15 months apart.  We try to get out as much as we can to ski, do orienteering, fish, hike, or just play in the yard.
What made you want to start your group?
: I love being outside, but am a big ninny about going out by myself. My over active imagination convinces me there is a bear or moose around every corner. From what I've heard there's never been a bear attack on a group larger than 4 - safety in numbers. I also wanted to meet new people with a similar desire to exercise and share the outdoors with our kids.
Lia: I wanted to get my kids into nature as much as possible.  I read Last Child in the Woods and was motivated to provide an easy way for other families to get out as well.

What kind of gear do I need for me and my little one(s)?

Harmony: If you are hiking with a cuddler or a cruiser you'll need a baby carrier as all the trails we do can be done with one. It doesn't matter which one you choose, moby, ergo, framepack as long as it is appropriate for your child's weight and age. Every other week we try to make sure we do a stroller/pulk friendly trail - these hikes work really well for parents of more then one child. The only other gear required is weather/temperature appropriate clothing. Jen Aist's book Babes in the Woods is a great resource for those parents who question if their dressing their kid for the cold. She also often puts on workshops in the Anchorage area.
Lia:You just need to dress for the weather!  A sled is nice in the winter!

When some people hear Alaska, hiking, bears, snow, etc it can get overwhelming and some will opt out. What can you say to encourage the parent who has never been hiking or played out in the rain, to get outside and enjoy nature.

: Like I said before safety in numbers is important. Most of the trails we schedule are ones I've done myself with my family, or suggestions from other parents who have done them. Spending time outside no matter the season or temps is very important in brain development and sets the stage for a life full of adventure. Making a routine of it early makes it so much easier when you hit the so called "terrible twos" and other challenging developmental stages. I currently have two moms writing pieces for me on how to hike successfully with two kiddos under 3 at the same time. We are always available for answering questions and try to post pertinent info and resources on the blog.
Lia: I often want to stay at home when I am trying to shove two screaming toddlers into their winter gear while the thermometer hangs in the single digits.  I just keep telling myself that it will get better.  Sometimes my kids get cold, wet or just want to go home after we get out of the car that morning.  I try to encourage them to stay, but sometimes we are the first to leave!  It always seems that the parents get cold and wet first, as the kids have fun splashing or sledding!

Lia, I understand you created a site that is gear approved by Alaskan moms. Can you tell me about that?  
Lia: I was frustrated trying to find a review of a carrier cover.  I found reviews saying it was great in the winter, but the reviewers were in Arizona and Tennessee.  I wrote to the company and they seemed interested in the idea of reviews done for our extreme conditions and lifestyles.  I get items from companies and try to match them with reviewers in the Crew.  They write a little review and I place it on the site.  I also have been putting reviews for items people already own and enjoy.  I want it to be a place that people can use to find gear useful for skedaddles or treks with the Taiga Trekkers.  Moms always know best!

  How do I become a member?
Joining the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network is the best place to join as you can RSVP there. We also have a blog The blog is more for sharing pictures with family members "Outside" and for getting info about resources as mentioned before... and every group must have a facebook page.
Lia: To join skedaddle, just show up and have fun!  The location is on the AOFN and skedaddle blog!  Come for ten minutes or two hours!

To join the Alaskan Mom Review Crew, follow this link and fill out the form!  You are top on the list if you review an item you already own and give the seal of Alaskan mom approval!
Thanks ladies!! Check out the sites and visit one of the meetups when you just need to get out of the house with the little ones!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beans, Beans the magical fruit....

Need something new for your kids but don't want to spend tons of money? Get some beans!!!! That's right, dry beans. I've been using a bean play box for my son since he was a year old, now my 2 year old daughter loves to play in it with him.

  All you need is a couple bags of dried beans, storage box, and toys.  I find the black, pinto and red beans work the best. The lentils and peas are really small and are harder to pick up outside of the box. You can also use rice and I have heard of some people using sand.

  We have a couple of rules: don't eat the beans, if you pour them outside the box it gets put away and have fun!! My son, Kaden, loves to hide his animals in it and Brooke loves to pour beans out of cups. This is great for Brooke who is working on grabbing and pinching, using her weaker muscles.

Another fun thing to do with beans, bean bags!!!  If you have some extra fabric laying around, pull it out with your sewing machine! This is all you need:

 sewing machine, thread, beans, and fabric. Oh and a cute little baby to smile at you while  you work!

Okay so I don't like measuring anything! So all I did is cut out a big enough rectangle, that when folded over would make a good sized bean bag. Sew the wrong sides together, I didn't even use pins. Leave a hole big enough to put the beans in. Turn the fabric inside out, then fill with beans. I used a small index card as a funnel to put the beans in the bag. Do not fill up all the way, leave enough room to get under the sewing foot. Sew up the hole and you got yourself a bean bag! My son loved this! You can do so many things with it! My kids were tossing it in the air and catching it. You can also got bowls and toss it in and step back each time. The kids were actually using it as a pillow. =) Make sure its sewed pretty tight and even small ones can play with it.
   What are some other things to do with beans or bean bags??

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pump It UP!!!

  Sorry it has been awhile!! I'm going to jump back in. I will be doing reviews of places to visit with the little ones. If you are outside of Anchorage and know of a great place to take little ones, please do a review for us and send it to so we can share!!!

  The first place I am going to review is Pump It Up. We went there last week for a playdate with AK Kids. This was the first time for all moms that went and what a hidden jewel!! I met a very lovely woman, Reyna, who owns Pump It Up. She is a mother of four so she saw my exhaustion hauling in my 3 little ones.

  First impression was how clean and open it was. There is a great little area to sit down and take off coats and shoes. This took awhile as my kids where running to go jump. We walked in the jump area and my 2 little ones took off. There are 4 large inflatables for the kids to play in. I loved that it was carpeted and there were small toys for the younger ones. There is also a WAY cool climbing wall that moves as you climb. Some of the moms were trying to do it.

  The area is the PERFECT size, not too big and not too small. I could stand in the center and look at each inflatable. Great way to watch kids instead of having to run after them. My daughter liked to run into the little snack area where you can bring your own snacks! Speaking of my daughter, she has special needs. It was great that she could go into an inflatable and not need my help. She was safe and she could work on her muscle development while having fun! I got in on the fun as well, those slides are slippery and fun! It was a great workout for me and the kids loved seeing me squeeze through the smaller areas.

  We will DEFINITELY be going back. The only negative that I found is the location was hard to find at first. They are located in the strip mall behind Guido's and Party Craft off International Airport. But I LOVED how friendly Reyna was, that is a must for me, to feel welcomed. My kids and I had a blast as well as the other moms.

 They have a Pop In Playtime schedule Monday through Friday 10a-6p, $8 per child, adults are free. Great way for the young ones to expel some energy on those cold days!!