toddlers and valentines (and state capitols) February 10, 2010

I wanted to share some of our Valentine’s Day crafts (toddler edition), in case anyone else is looking for a fun and easy project to try with little ones. Pearl’s school is hosting a little Valentine’s party on Friday and I volunteered to help the kids (ages 18 months to 3) decorate their treat bags this week. They’ll exchange small homemade gifts, craft supplies, baked treats, or nature finds, and they each get a turn to deliver the presents to their friends’ bags. Here’s Pearl’s — she was so proud to point to exactly where each felt heart, button or alphabet bead needed to be, and she loved the finished bag!

Pearl's Valentine bag

Here’s how we did it. The crafts teacher had the bags all ready — she cut a strip off the top of a regular lunch bag, glued it on as a handle, and punched holes and wove bright-colored yarn through the corners. I cut out lots of felt hearts and brought along my button stash to dig into for fancying them up. We had lots of fun making the first round yesterday — the kids showed us where they wanted each and every decoration to go and we glued them down. It was a great collaboration.

For our gifts for everyone, we’ll be making small bags of buttons kind of like these and adding a little Valentine’s note from Pearl. (And I’m sure you all know this but buttons go in mouths, so be careful and watch kids closely while you’re crafting or playing with them!)

my button bags

Then Pearl and I moved on to our next Valentine’s Day project — making cards for everyone in the family. Warning: if you’re one of her aunts, uncles, grandparents, greats, or cousins, stop reading now if you want to be surprised! I almost didn’t post this photo til after they were received, but I wanted to share these ideas in case anyone else was wondering what you could do with a not-quite-two-year-old, before Sunday instead of after. And since a lot of folks are snowed in, this is an easy one for stash-only crafting.

Pearl's Valentines

For this super-simple project, I got three of Pearl’s many, many crayon drawings out of her sketchpad, which is cardstock-weight paper (but you could use any drawings you have, on any paper that’s handy). I used a paper cutter to cut the most exciting parts down to roughly postcard-size for mailing. Then I showed her the felt hearts, asked her which one went with which card, and let her choose and point to exactly where they should go. She waited patiently while I glued them down, and then we wrote love notes on the back. They’re going into envelopes and into the mail today (early for once!) and tonight we’ll make some more for her friends, which can be as button-heavy as she likes since we’re hand-delivering them.

Salem - Sesquicentennial

Here’s an update on the proposed BPA ban here in Oregon, and our testimony: we got our two minutes in front of the committee of state senators who are considering the bill on Thursday, and gave a longer written statement for all the legislators to read (you can see it peeking out from the stack of many things in my lap).

getting ready to testify, front row

I also took an additional question from the chairperson after my testimony about what it’s actually like as a shopper to try to avoid bisphenol-A in children’s products right now. (My answer, in case you’re interested too, is that BPA is in all formula cans and baby food jars, to my knowledge, so there are no options whatsoever there. You can carefully research to find baby bottles, cups and utensils manufactured without it, but it’s confusing and they’re often not well labeled, so it’s very easy to end up using something with BPA, and very hard to be sure that you’re not. For more on this, Kendra wrote a very thoughtful post on BPA and plastics in general that I highly recommend.)

the hearing room in the state capitol

This is what the hearing room looked like before things got started. Pearl and I ended up in the front row of the hearing next to Melina and her two kids, and I was so glad to have my daughter with me and be part of the public hearing with another family. It was a really thrilling experience to be able to testify (in fact, the chair in front of the microphone in the meeting-room photo above is where I was addressing the senators). As a mother and a consumer, the chance to tell the lawmakers who have the power to protect our children from exposure to toxins exactly what I thought was incredible, and something I wouldn’t have dreamed of just two weeks ago. I was very proud to be an Oregonian and a voter! My deepest gratitude to those who have taken the time to call or email their legislators in support of SB 1032. I hope we’ll get an update on the bill soon — the vote may be today! It’s all happening in this building…

good parking space!

I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day! It’s Oregon’s 151st birthday on Sunday, too, what could be more festive? I’ll be back tomorrow with some handmade gift ideas for the non-toddlers, too.

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