Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DIY Baby Rain Stick

I have always had an eye for creating fun things for kids as a preschool teacher, and now that I am a mommy, I have been anxiously awaiting Ava to "come of age" for some DIY toys from household items!

We recently emptied a roll of paper towels, and my instinct was to just throw the empty roll away. 

But I stopped myself.

What can I make with this?

A baby rainstick!

It's not fancy by any means, but my baby loves it!

Here's What You'll Need:

Empty paper towel roll (or a toilet paper roll)
Clear packing tape
Jingle bells (or other fillers - see below)
Tissue paper

Here's What to Do:

  1. Begin by taping one end of the paper roll closed. You will want to fold the tape over itself so the items inside won't stick to the tape. Tape well so the contents will not come out.
  2. Fill your paper roll with the jingle bells. And by fill, I mean toss a few in. There really doesn't need to be that many "noisemakers" in there, especially if it is for a baby. It will be too heavy to manipulate! If you are making this for a toddler or older child, feel free to add more in!
  3. Now you can tape the other end closed in the same way you did the first.
  4. Next, pull a long piece of tape and scatter tissue paper clippings on it, and press lengthwise onto your paper roll.
  5. Continue placing long strips of tape with tissue paper on it until all the cardboard is covered. 

If you are making this for a baby, be sure there are no exposed "pointy" folds of tape around the ends. It doesn't have to be completely smooth because baby will most likely enjoy mouthing and feeling these little bumps and imperfections.

Now let the little one play with it!

**Please be sure to supervise your child while they play with any homemade toy. Parts can still be bitten off and possibly swallowed.**

You can easily mix this up by using other items instead of jingle bells (I just had some left over from a Christmas Sensory Bottle was a complete bust because the water turned really murky!)

Other Fillings You Can Use:

dry rice (the original homemade rainstick filling)
dry beans
dry pasta
bobby pins
paper clips
...or practically anything else you have around the house!

It would be a fun science project for older kids to experiment with different types and amounts of fillings to see how that affects the sounds it makes and how heavy it is! (feathers?! cotton balls?!)


You may be wondering about why I've chosen to have little hearts covering my baby's face. I don't want her image to be all over Google, or copied and used by anyone else. I don't want her showing up on some random website, and as much as I would love to overload my blog with pictures of her (because she is really adorable!), I want to maintain a certain level of privacy and anonymity due to the fact that this is a completely public blog. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ava's Half-Birthday

How can it be that my Ava baby is 6 months old!? When I imagined my baby during pregnancy, I mostly imagined a tiny newborn. I didn't really think much about life with a bigger baby. She continually surprises us with her new skills and her ever-emerging personality. Here is what she is up to at 6 months:

Sitting!!! This is her latest skill. All of a sudden, Ava could sit for like 10 seconds before she would wobble and lean over! I think new Christmas toys were a big incentive for her. Within a week, I was able to set her next to me with her boppy pillow around her and let her play without having to have my hands at the ready behind her. She plays for quite awhile now until she is all done!

Table food! We are giving Ava her first taste of food tonight! She's having avocado! If you are curious about Baby Led Weaning, I encourage you to read this book. It explains the idea of skipping purees and spoon feeding so well and answered every question I had!

First teeth! Ava's first two teeth came in a few weeks ago. Her bottom two front teeth came in one day apart. I had no idea she was teething - the girl handled it like a champ! It really hurts when she chews on my fingers now!

New nap schedule! This was pretty much a Christmas miracle, and I'm not entirely convinced it's a permanent change. That's how surprised I am! Ava is working on dropping her 4th nap....because she has become a "long" napper!! She now takes 1 or 2 naps a day that are well over an hour long. The day after Christmas she took a 2 hour, 15 minute nap! Her third nap is still 35-45 minutes. I never know which of those 3 naps will be long ones, though. She almost always rolls over and sleeps on her belly now. I wonder if that has contributed to this change! She's really moving all over her crib! It always makes me giggle to check the monitor and see how she's sleeping. 

Ok, enough with the excessive sleeping photos. I just can't believe how far she has come!

She's been waking twice at night lately, so she still gets one or two night feedings. Because I follow the eat-play-sleep schedule with her, the fact that she has dropped a nap also means that she has dropped a feeding. I'm hoping her second night feeding will drop as she adjusts. Plus there is a growth spurt at 6 months.

Growing like a weed! It is still so shocking to me how fast she's growing. It's so hard to see since I am with her all day, everyday. But I'm always putting clothes in her "too small" storage container under her crib! Just the other day I dug out some 9 month jammies to have washed and ready to go in her dresser. She outgrows her onesies and pants by length, but sometimes she outgrows them by sleeves that are too tight or leggings that we can't pull up anymore. This girl has a slender torso and CHUBBY legs!

Life is so enjoyable in this phase of babyhood! The first 4 months I was pretty consumed with taking care of Ava. She's become more self-sufficient in that she can play more independently, she puts herself to sleep independently, and she is a more laid-back baby. She loves to ride in the child seat in the shopping cart now. She gets lots of smiles and attention from people when we are running errands, and she loves that too! She loves putting wrapping paper, mommy's hair, and the straps on any of her seats in her mouth. She enjoys squealing, smiling, and grabbing her toes (and even putting them in her mouth on occasion!). She can jump for forever in her jumperoo, and we have discovered that she gets extra jumpy and squealy and silly when she is really tired. She tries to trick us!

It is bittersweet that daddy will be home with us a lot soon...he is having a rather extensive knee surgery and will be off work for awhile. Ava will help take good care of her daddy! I am hoping to begin learning how to sew clothes and things for Ava. I scored a MAJOR deal on Amazon during Cyber Week on a sewing machine! I was stalking the deal all day, and it was such a rush to order it, haha! It was only $49, and they were completely gone in less than a minute, and I got one!! Amazon is my best friennnnnnd. The hubby has been working hard on making a craft table for me - I will be sure to post it when it is complete!

There are so many things to think about in life with a child. We will be moving soonish, and fortunately we are at a point in my husband's military career where we actually know where we are going next. For sure, we will go to Fort Gordon, Georgia for a minimum of 6 months for his training, and there's a good chance we could end up staying there for a few years. So we've been scoping out rental properties and considering what kind of house we'd like for Ava. What the schools are like. Are there parks nearby? Such a new dynamic. Life is no longer about's all about her. College funds. Savings accounts. Even dinner will be different now that Ava will be eating food with us. We are going to make an effort to eat at the table with her, even though we are living room dwellers!

We had a Christmas at home this year. As in, our home in Kentucky. We went to church on Christmas Eve, and Ava loved the organ and all the singing, and she wouldn't stop shrieking happily for awhile! We had to leave early though; baby had had enough and was beyond ready for bed. It was sad not to be able to share her with everyone, but it was nice to wake up on Christmas day in our own beds. Ava loved all the wrapping paper and tried to eat every piece. She got lots of new toys and books and clothes, and she was so overwhelmed! She was very ready for her naps each time they came around. We shared a few meals with some friends here. We rang in the New Year with our neighbors (I made it to midnight!!) and we enjoyed our time together as a family of 3.

Oh, I could talk about life with Ava all day. She is such a joy!