Friday, February 24, 2012

Best Friends Forever

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
Build-A-Bear Workshop will celebrate two major milestones this year. First, it is their 15th birthday ~ the first store opened in St. Louis on October 27, 1997. Second, they will be celebrating the sale of their 100 millionth furry friend. Congrats to Build-A-Bear!

Build-A-Bear is all about building friendships. Can't you tell? Lydia loves her Bears!

When Lydia was about a year old, I started thinking a lot about making her a best friend...because my parents made my best friend, my younger sister Jamie. We've gone through so much together, but regardless of what has happened or will happen, we know we always have each other. We come from a very small family - our parents are both only children, so we didn't have cousins to play with or big holiday celebrations. We went through so many friends over the years, relationships that didn't work out, conflicts with each other, our parents, and everything else best friends and sisters can get into. We know how to make each other laugh, cry together, and smile again. We try to always be there to enjoy the good times and support each other through the tough times.

I guess the best way to show our bond is through pictures...and reminding her daily....
Jamie, I love you. Thank you for being my best friend forever.

*By publishing this post, I was entered to win a gift card as part of a promotional offer from MomSelect and Build-A-Bear Workshop. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Make-it-Yourself Felt Board

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
Have you ever looked at your craft supplies and gone...Duh! Why didn't I ever think to make that before? Yeah, that was me this morning. I have this cool die cut maker, I have a ton of felt, I have lots of cardboard, and I have a daughter who loves to mix and match different hair colors and outfits with the paper people I made using my die cut, why haven't I made her a felt board??

Make-It-Yourself Felt Board

Piece of cardboard
Hot glue gun or craft glue
People die cuts (you could hand cut this, but that may be a bit challenging with felt)

1. Cut the cardboard to the desired shape/size. Mine is about a 12" square.

2. Glue the background color(s) to the cardboard by gluing along the seam and wrapping it around the back. Glue along the edges to secure.

3. Cut various people, clothing, and scenery pieces out of felt. You can switch out pieces for each theme. I was thinking it would be really cool to make an alien scene by cutting people out of green and blue felt. A Halloween scene with different costumes and pumpkins would be so much fun, too! 

4. Endless play!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine Play Date

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
Inspired by Pinterest, Lydia had an awesome Valentine's Day play date with her friend Brandon. 

Here's our party agenda!

I prepared a heart-shaped fruit salad.

First Lydia & Brandon made chocolate marshmallow pops.

 Then they made heart-shaped pizzas.

Next they made valentine cookies.

They each decorated one card for each other and one card for their daddies. 

They ended the play date with a gift exchange and hug.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Counting Board

by Carrie Wells
"Happy children learn best" - Dr. James Partington.

Discovering what motivates a child and really tapping into that is a great way to get children interested in learning! I wanted to find some way to combine Lydia's interest in cats with Lydia's interest in numbers, so I designed this counting activity:

I used the little envelopes that library cards go into, and I glued them to a large piece of posterboard. I printed large numbers and placed them on the front of each. Then I found all different cats, I printed the designated number of cats, and attached them to equal-sized pieces of black paper. Lydia can count the number of cats on each paper and place into the corresponding envelope. This activity targets rote counting, random counting, number recognition, colors, and following directions. If she cannot match the number of cats to the correct number, I will tell her "That goes in the orange envelope in the top row." Once you have the board itself made, you can switch out the cards based on theme.


Monday, February 6, 2012


by Carrie Wells
I decided Lydia & I would make Valentine's Day robots today. I had in mind what I wanted Lydia's robot to look like, but I also wanted to give Lydia the freedom to design her own robot. So I cut out a whole bunch of pieces to build "my" robot, gave them to her with a blank sheet of paper, and allowed her to glue them together as she wished. Here's Lydia's Valentine's Day robot:

Wow, that was not at all what I had in mind! Lydia used the pink piece like a hat and the rectangle as a face. She turned the smile upside-down and made the arms, legs, hands, and feet look all crazy. Here's what I had in mind when I cut the pieces out:

So, the simple lesson learned is that it's great to let your children be creative. We shouldn't set boundaries regarding art and creativity ~ Let them use their imaginations!

But then I thought some more and realized that there is a much greater lesson here. I told Lydia we were making robots. In Lydia's mind, what she created was a robot. I was inclined to tell her where to place each piece to make a "real robot" (according to my definition), but I stopped myself. I was reminded that everything in life is about perspective. From Lydia's perspective, she made a robot. From my perspective, I made a robot. Our robots look very different, but we are calling these works of art the same thing: robots.

I'm sure as she grows and matures, we'll encounter this same situation many times - where my idea of a clean bedroom is different from her idea. My idea of a good birthday gift is different from her idea. My idea of staying out late is different from her idea. My idea of a good college major is different from her idea. But she's her own person with her own ideas...and even when I disagree, I hope I can remember our robots and smile...and find some way to place our ideas alongside one another.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February Specials at Gallery Direct

As a Gallery Direct Ambassador, I have some great specials to share with my readers!

Gallery Direct is offering 50% off photo uploads on gallery wrap canvas the month of February. These make great Valentine's Day gifts for the loved ones in your lives. Here are a few ideas of photos that I thought would look beautiful on canvas as Valentine's Day gifts:

Also, here's a promotional code to use for 50% off the entire site until Valentine's Day (2/14): Love50

Lydia's New Pen Pal

As a young child, I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood with lots of children around my age. We used to have so much fun playing outside, going over each others' homes, going swimming together...lots and lots of imaginative play. We were a creative bunch, so we'd play house, do crafts, play school, and find ways to transform anything into a fun game. Slowly, over the years, my friends moved away. Several of us stayed in touch, but one family in particular moved away when I was in 7th grade. They had two children, a son my age (Jonathan) and a daughter my sister's age (Jennifer). My sister kept in touch better than I did, and even met up with Jennifer once years later. Through the magic of Facebook, we were able to re-connect a few years ago. What's awesome is that our old friend Jennifer has a son the same age as Lydia! Jennifer is a SAHM, and she is into cooking, crafting, cloth diapering, breastfeeding...all the things I am into. She also just gave birth to a baby girl who is close in age to Bryce.

So one day I was thinking about both the benefits and downfalls to all of this technology that allows us to stay in touch with old friends...and one thing we miss out on is having real pen pals. So I though...why not start a pen pal relationship with Lydia and Jennifer's son Jack? I explained the idea to Lydia and showed her pictures of Jack. She was excited to have a pen pal (to the best of her understanding). I presented the idea to Jennifer, and she loved it, too. So exciting!

Lydia is making a book about herself for Jack

Lydia proudly displays her book

Lydia walking to the mailbox

We placed our letter in the mailbox.

And Lydia got a cool dinosaur card from Jack!

Jennifer told me that Jack loved his book from Lydia, and Lydia loved her card with extra stickers from Jack! I'm super-excited to exchange valentines. Lydia has been working on a few things to send in the mail soon. Can't wait to get our next letter.