getting crafty for kids: taking a trip

Recently my BFF was getting ready for a trip to NYC and asked for advice on what to take on the plane to entertain her 18-month old son. I threw some ideas out (stickers! food! movies!) and crossed my fingers for her! But ever since, my eye has been gravitating towards things to make for kids that would help on trips like these… so I thought I’d share a quick round up of ideas I’ve seen floating around!

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Perfect crafts to make for trips (both short and long)

No-Sew Crayon Wrap (by small + friendly)

No sew crayon wrap

This little felt book is the perfect companion for plane or car trips! I especially love the paper section that is inside! Just make sure you don’t leave it in the car on a hot day to melt…

 

Long Trip Maze Game (by Richochet and Away!)

This is the ultimate quiet but challenging activity for younger kids for the backseat. This marble maze game is truly ingenious, and not that hard to sew up!

 

Lego Travel Box (by KV Barn)

An ingenious IKEA hack using cheap boxes and a single LEGO base board! It may not prevent all the bricks from escaping, but it’s a great idea for keeping most of them contained to one area or another!

 

Pocket Sized Magnetic Fishing Set (by Doodle Craft Blog)

A mini fishing game in an Altoids tin? This is the stuff that airline tray tables were made for!

 

I Spy Pouch (by The Homes I Have Made)

Have you ever tried to play “I Spy” in an airplane high above the clouds, or driving through the middle of nowhere? It just doesn’t seem to work! This “I Spy” bag is a great way to get kids to play the game on their own!

 

Oilcloth Flashcard Holders (by That’s My Letter)

I’m always hoarding flashcards from the Dollar section at Target for the next trip… since they’re an easy game/distraction that you can play together or alone. These flashcard holders are simple to make and much better at storing the cards than those flimsy paper boxes!

Do you have any crafty things you’ve made that would help out on future trips with the kiddos?

choosing a 529 college savings plan … 4 years later

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Back when Miss L was six months old, we started her college savings fund. I posted and shared about the options available at that time as well as how we settled upon a 529 Plan. Now while I love sharing about things when they’re bright and shiny and new, I also realize how helpful it is to reflect on those decisions after we have the benefit of time and reflection… so that’s what I thought I’d do today!

Based on the information and availability of plans back in 2010, we opted to invest our money in the Utah Educational Savings Plan. We did so based on ratings from Bankrate’s Savingforcollege.com (comparison of all state plans), and using other resources comparing value and plan expenses. [It’s worth noting that California now has a 5-star plan of its own, Scholarshare, which actually gets slightly better ratings than Utah.]

So after 4 years of consistent investing, what does that actually look like?

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Currently, Miss L’s funds are valued at 137% of our net principal contribution. As you can see, we’ve invested the same amount every year (we have an automatic withdrawal from our checking account), but thanks to favorable market conditions, Miss L’s money is growing pretty nicely.

Here’s the annual breakdown:

  • Year 1 = 111% of principal contributions
  • Year 2 = 112% of principal contributions
  • Year 3 = 123% of principal contributions
  • Year 4 = 137% of principal contributions

 

As for costs, we’ve currently paid a total of 0.84% of our principal contributions over 4 years.

Are we happy with the decision thus far? Yes! We know that the rapid growth has come from the overall rapid growth of the funds in general, but it’s still nice to know that our investment is doing well when the market is doing well.

And as for early investing? It’s really nice to know that we’ve started this school fund and have it growing for whenever it’s needed. And it truly is “out of sight out of mind” until those quarterly statements show up! If we got a tax break for doing it, we’d be even happier, but oh well!

Will we hit the target expenses? Right now our current contributions say we’re on target to pay for 3 years of public tuition at the inflated rates. So no… we’re not at 4 years of full tuition. But when we can start contributing more monthly in the future, then we’ll hopefully catch up a little bit!

So here we are…4 years down and only 14 more to go! Ooooh boy!

Here are a few handy links f you’re looking to invest in a 529 plan:

that time when Brittney Lee taught me how to cut paper

Back in January, Mr. M and I were in San Francisco for the weekend and decided to make a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum, as we hadn’t seen the exhibits in four years. On the drive down to the city, I happened upon an event listing for upcoming classes at WDFM, and I literally bust a gut when I saw that on my favorite Disney artists, Brittney Lee was offering a paper cutting class (here’s her 2011 Harry Potter masterpiece) in March to coincide with the new Mary Blair exhibit.

When we got to the museum that afternoon, I crossed my fingers and asked if there were any spaces left, and lo and behold there was ONE LEFT! So of course I signed up… and on March 15th, I drove down to San Francisco and indulged myself in a very creative afternoon!

And here was the final result:

Walt Disney Family Museum Class w/Brittney Lee

[all real artists out there… please don’t mock this publically, as I’m pretty proud of my little shadowbox]

Part of my intrigue in taking the class was really exploring and understanding the work process behind paper cut art. Do you start with a base layer and then move up? What type of paper is best? How do you make the shadow box. And to my sheer delight all of these questions and more were answered! Oh… and Brittney just happens to be one the sweetest and lovely people out there… so there’s that too!

Here are the steps of the process that Brittney uses that I scribbled down:

  • Draw the piece to scale on paper or in Photoshop first – then print it out in line form
  • Use a light table to trace each individual piece on the colored paper you want

 

  • To make the shadow box:
    • Measure 5/8” on all sides of the background paper & score them with a bone folder
    • Cut into the long edge of the fold on both sides (top and bottom)
    • Fold all of the sides up (opposite of where you made your pencil marks!)
    • Glue the corners on the outside of the piece to seal the box!

 

  • Cut out your art pieces using an X-acto knife or scissors and a self-healing mat
    • Paper can be any type of archival quality paper and glue can be a hot glue gun, glue strips, etc.
  • Use small folded paper strip boxes to elevate the layers as you need them
  • Always stand up and look at your piece from all angles to make sure that you’ve hidden what needs to be hidden
  • To attach your mat board to your box, just use masking tape strips!

 

And some friendly tips as well:

  • Cut out the negative space on small pieces FIRST before you cut the whole shape – much easier for leverage and less chance of anything breaking!
  • It’s always easier to pull the blade toward you
  • Organize and cut by pre-cutting large chunks of paper before you start your placement
  • It’s easier to get leverage cutting when you’re standing up
  • Can’t find the perfect color paper? Paint with gouache to set the perfect color or to enhance faces!

 

I left the class feeling pretty empowered about my ability to actually pull off some paper cut artwork on my own… and just generally artistically refreshed from learning new tips and tricks. Before I left the class, I had Brittney sign one of Miss L’s favorite books (One Sweet Race) that she illustrated, and of course snapped a photo with her as well!

adventures in mini golfing

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An ordinary Saturday afternoon was transformed into a race through the mini golf course with the latest pre-LPGA player this week.

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And by pre-LPGA player, I mean that we’ve got a long way to go on the putting greens.

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We had taken Miss L mini-golfing last summer, but it didn’t work out so well. Well, she did get a miraculous “hole in one” on hole #3, but that didn’t seal her interest. She was done by hole #12 … her patience for this “fun” game had worn thin on that very hot morning, so we called it quits and went inside for video games and lemonade. But this time… her inner field hockey skills kicked in and she was ALL ABOUT getting through each hole as fast as she could!

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Meanwhile… mom and dad were trying hard to actually maintain par in this oh-so-serious game of putt putt.

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Dad was clearly winning the day… despite the fact that we didn’t have time between holes to even record our score.

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And Miss L… well she was busy celebrating each hole like she was winning the Masters tournament.

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Because it’s just not a successful day at the mini golf course without 17 giant WOO HOOs!!! (That ball eating 18th hole was not too popular in her eyes.)

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