Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Instructions on How to Make a Bottom Bunk Bed Tent

How to Make a Bottom Bunk Bed Tent (inspired by homemadebyjill's felt playhouse)
**Updated 7/8/2012--It's only taken a year and a half, but Pictures of the Top Bunk Bed Tent are posted here with very, very basic tips on how to make your own top bunk bed tent.

1. Measure bunk bed. At first I wanted mine to hang down from the slats underneath the top bunk, to avoid the ladder, but it hung so much nicer from the safety railing rungs. I think I might make the door way under the ladder next time, or something clever that would make it hang better right there. As it is I just put the ladder over it and it seems to be holding up okay.

2. Buy supplies. I bought snaps, ribbon, bias tape, two lengths of fabric in my measured size, and thread. I bought two pieces of 80" cotton fabric. I washed the fabric too. I don't know why. It just shrunk it and wrinkled it.  Next time I would totally buy felt (they sell it by the yard at Joanne's). I chose not to do felt because I didn't like the colors they had in stock and I thought it might be too heavy. But the time sewing on bias tape might have made it worth it. I also bought my straps from Joanne's. I wanted them a couple inches apart and I found the straps, which are a stronger webbing, in the ribbon section. They also sold it by the yard. I intended to use ribbon and just tie it on, but when I found this stuff I thought it would be much stronger, and I had the idea to attach snaps to it, so I could snap it on instead of having to tie it. Velcro would also be another strong, easy idea.

3. I sewed pellon on to reinforce the fabric where I was going to sew the straps, then I pinned the straps on, pinned both pieces of fabric right sides together and sewed them together, leaving a small hole to pull it right side out. After I flipped it right side out, I hand sewed the hole shut. Make sure your straps are facing into the fabric, not out of it, because when you flip it right side out, you might swear.

This is a close up of what my straps look like.

4. I cut my windows with my rotary cutter 15" long and 12" tall, which ended up being too big. They pouched funny at the bottom. That's why I ended up sewing/ hot gluing on the ribbon to help them not fall in. Next time, I would cut round windows (easier to sew bias tape onto), and I wouldn't cut them so big. But I like the ribbon. I think it's cute.  I sewed it on the edges and hot glued it at the crossings, because I got sick of sewing.

I also top stitched some curtains onto the backside of the windows for privacy :) 

5. Next  I cut my door by cutting two slits up from the bottom of the sewn together fabric. I made it 21" wide. I don't know why I chose 21". It just looked right at the time. I would probably make that smaller too. Probably more like 15-18".

6. I sewed bias tape around my windows and up and down both slits for the door. The corners were a pain for me. I'd never sewn bias tape before so I totally botched it. This bias tape video from Amy Karol "Angry Chicken" helped me figure bias tape out, but she didn't talk about corners and all the other videos I watched were about outside corners of blankets or placemats and I don't have the rendering skills to figure out how it applied to my inside corners. My brain does not work like that. That's why I'll do round windows next time. (Next time! Ha!) My mom did the corners that turned out nicely. (thanks mom!) I also sewed some big buttons and elastic loops at the top of the door to hold it up if the girls want. Usually, though, we just tuck it up into the rails when we want to put it up.

7. My roof idea is from homemade by jill as well as my mailbox. The butterfly by the window is a patch that I cut out from felt (using a butterfly graphic from Word) and then decorated with glitter paint and fabric markers. I cut the roof out of some white glitter felt and my mailbox from felt scraps leftover from my quiet book project and sewed them both on. I chose not to cut the mailbox all the way through and left it as a pocket on the outside. I top stitched almost everything. (And if you don't know what that means, join the club. I didn't until this project. It means to sew on top of the fabric.)

8. Using a snap setter tool set I set large snaps into the straps and then hung it on the bed. Viola! Beautiful bottom bunkbed tent. It was a pretty simple.

Look at these fabulous ideas for play tent embellishments from talented people all over the Internet in homemadebyjill's flickr group.  I plan to put a few of these on Kenzie's top bunkbed tent as another project for another day.
Mike sewed and put together the top bunk bed tent. I'll have to get him to write a tutorial. :) And I can't for the life of me figure out if bunkbed is one word or two. So I just randomly decided to try both throughout this post. Spell check says bunk bed. I say whatever.

Here's my schematic of what I initially planned. Those are my measurements too. Sorry it's hard to read because I used scratchpaper and then I made all sorts of notes all over it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snowshoeing to the Snowbasin Yurt

Updated 8/28/2013--My friend who first showed us the yurt was told by the forest service that the yurt has been taken down. Someone trashed it. I will leave the name calling in my head.

When we had Mckenzie, Mike and I committed to "live inconveniently"--to keep going into the mountains and the wilderness as much as possible--even if that involved putting on gloves, hats, scarves, and snow pants only to have to remove them to change a diaper or take a kid to the potty. (Snort. Potty. I am so a mom.)
So while there is definitely more of a concern for safety and it is more time consuming, we try to balance those with the rewards of being outdoors, exercising and spending time with our kids (three girls ages 5, 3, and 6 months). 

Last week we celebrated MLK day by heading up to the yurt at a local ski resort, Snowbasin. We figured the girls could mostly handle the one mile hike and we were told by a friend that we wouldn't need snowshoes. We brought our snowshoes just in case because we were bringing my parents along too and I thought it might be nice for my dad to have some.

There's a couple ways to hike to the Yurt, and with our kiddos we decided the best way was up the old unplowed Snowbasin road. We arrived at the road's start at about 11:00, and saw our ward's scout troop was heading the same way. We swathed the kids in their snow clothes, saying, "Sorry, you'll just have to hold it," to Hannah, strapped Ellie in the Snugli (note to self: Snugli is not a good hiking accesory) and headed out. As soon as we started we were postholing, just to the top of our ankles, but annoying enough to want snowshoes. 

The kids were light enough that they stayed on top of the snow for the most part, and we had brought along a sled to pull them in as well but I ran back to the van (oh yeah, that's a great, tough outdoor vehicle) and grabbed the two pair of snowshoes we did have. We made my dad wear one pair (arthritis makes it hard for him to move fluidly) and I took the other pair on my mom's insistence.

With kids, you spend most of the hike thinking of ways to entertain them/shush their fears: "Yes Hannah, we're in the forest." "Yes Hannah, animals live in the forest." "No Hannah, the animals will not eat us or hurt us, as long as we leave them alone." Or how about a rousing game of find a stick? Or the game of see how many steps it takes to get to that tree.

Kenzie hiked well, not complaining much and singing and playing games with her Grandpa. Hannah made it about 100 feet before she wanted to ride in the sled. Ellie (the baby) slept almost the whole way.

It probably took us about an hour to traverse the mile to the yurt. (A new record! One mile in one hour!) But the girls made it with minimal whining and only a couple of "Are we there yets?"  Once there we warmed up, ate our lunch, and the scouts shared some hot chocolate with us inside the yurt. Then we headed back. Ellie was fussing a little by this time, so I double-timed it while Mike and my parents stayed back with the girls. Mike piled them into the sled and pulled them back. (Not my parents, just the girls :)

I only beat Mike and the girls by about 5 minutes, it took my parents a little longer. While I fed Ellie, the girls played king of the mountain on the piles of snow in the parking lot.

Kenzie's favorite part, "Across the river." (A stream we had to step over to get to the yurt). "And I threw a big snowball at Daddy."  Hannah's favorite part, "Being pulled in the sled." Definitely the makings of two little mountain goats.
Hannah and Mom and Dad during a short time she decided to walk. 

Kenzie found a walking stick!

Cute Kenzie hiked quite a bit.

Mike and Ellie 

Grandma pulling the girls in the sled

Their faces got a little cold. Hannah buried hers completely in her scarf and hat and yelled at us if we tried to peek at her.

Look at this cool sled that our neighbor had made for her handicapped grandson. It is awesome! She let the girls test it a little while we were at the yurt.

Earlier this year we went snowshoeing with some friends. Michelle wrote up our adventure just perfectly
We hope to get out and snowshoe a couple more times this season and we're planning for one more time skiing with the girls and one more time without them. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christmas Crafts--Bunk bed Tents and Who Loves Baby? book

This is what we had Christmas Hangovers for:

Update: 4/18/2013, Here are some pics of the inside of the top bunk bed tent. Good luck! I'd love to see a pic of yours if you make one, so send it to chambers (dot) steph (at) gmail (dot) com. 

I don't sew. Really. Except at Christmas. Then I suddenly become invested with delusions. At least these delusions are a regular Christmas occurrence, so I am getting a little better with the sewing machine. At this rate I will have it mastered by the time I'm 80.  

I love how the "Who Loves Ellie" book turned out. I wanted to do something bright and soft and chewable, so I found the printable fabric at Joanne's, got some scraps of red (I know I could have color-coordinated it better, but babies love red, right?), some of that super soft green stuff, and used some fleece that I've had sitting around and put it together. My fabulous and talented sister Alisha took the photos in the book. I used a "Taggie" book that we have for a pattern.  I only had to unpick three times and I didn't even swear. I've come to accept that when I sew, I will also unpick. It's part of my sewing life. If I want to reach sewing Nirvana I just have to unpick and move on. (I unpicked so much this December that Mike gave me a seam ripper for Christmas.)

The Bunkbed tent project is still unfinished, but finished enough to be cool for the girls. They love their new bunk bed tents and  Mike and I had a good time designing and working together on them. I got the idea from homemadebyjill 's cute little felt playhouse. I thought, "Hey I don't want that on the one table in my house, but it would be fun to make one for the bottom bunk." 

I was going to do something super simple for Kenzie's tent, like draping fabric from a huge embroidery hoop hung from the ceiling, but Mike got in on the design and used PVC to build the frame and canvas for the fabric. 

Mike is actually better at sewing than I am. He never has to unpick and he never swears. Ever. What a good man. 

After I decided that I was really going to attempt this project I found some other helpful links:
Woman of 1,000 hobbies --she made a bunk bed tent that is anchored differently from ours
Two Little Hooligans -- She made an outside tent that I was considering adapting for the top bunk and gave me the idea for pockets inside for the girls (which I haven't added yet)
Instructables --This inspired the PVC idea a little bit. 
Obsessively Stitching --had some good ideas from her table tent too. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Straits of my Synapses

Lately I've been tripping over all sorts of information that should not be strewn about, but should be neatly tucked into my brain. Instead I find that things I need to know are scattered about like forgotten toys--and these little tidbits of information pop up or disappear viciously at unexpected moments, so that I break my ankle.

My mind used to be like a well put together wooden floor, tightly fitted, well-sealed, maybe easily dented, but still pretty resilient. Enter Ellie. Now my mind is like a smashed graham cracker--crumby and strewn about.

Example: A couple weeks ago Kenzie came strolling up to the door at 10:40. I pick her up from kindergarten at 11:10, so imagine my confusion. "What are you doing home?" I asked her, racking my brain for some reason as to why Sallie would pick her up early. Sallie called out from her van, "It's early day."  Ohhhh. Thanks Sallie for saving me.

I have other more embarrassing stories, but I'll just let you make those up in your head.  I wrote about this before, but it's become so bad, I am starting to feel like I should start saying "like" more often, and wear a vacant, smiley expression on purpose. So I need some systems for coping with everyday life. Systems to help me remember what I should be doing and when. Systems to stop those "Oh no!" (or sometimes that "Oh *&%!") moments, that seem to be happening to me more and more.

Here are some things that are helping me deal with the craziness that is 3 children:
1. Have an always stocked diaper bag. I keep my diaper bag in the van and every time I leave my house to get in the van, I grab some diapers, just in case. My leaving routine involves filling a water bottle, grabbing snacks, and grabbing diapers.
2. I've started putting things that I need to return/take to others in the van. I don't put them on a shelf, I don't keep them by the door, I put them in the van. That way if I'm driving by I can drop it off.

I have a feeling I need to schedule out each day down to the hour, but I'm not sure how to do that without driving myself batty. And I probably need to re-evaluate and cut something out. Ellie is in so cleaning is out?

What are some of your tips for organization/getting things done? How do you keep a graham-cracker brain from crumbling?
Gratuitous baby picture. She's cute, but she's killed my synapses.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dang this Catch-up

Alright, I'm pretty sure this is the blog post you've been waiting for all your life about our Christmas.  This is the blog post I've been waiting for, because then I can officially close out 2010. Not that 2010 was a bad year, I'm just ready to blog about stuff that's been on my mind lately like:
Why did all my brain cells migrate to my thighs?
The ways in which each child has chosen to annoy me while nursing, including the newly discovered armpit kick.
Various and sundry ways to drive yourself crazy preparing for Christmas.
In the meantime, here is this slideshow that maybe my Grandma will like. (Hi Grandma!)

Yes, I know this scrapblog is not beautiful, and the only thing cute about it are the people in the pictures, but it's done. At least these pictures won't sit around in some computer file never to be seen again, and then years later be puzzled over while the kids ask, "Why do Mom and Dad look like they have hangovers?" We'll know it was because our undying love for them kept us up late on Christmas Eve making bunkbed tents, right? And then maybe we can use that as leverage in some sort of argument against being put in a rest home.

And here's the link to the full screen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A scrapblog from November

I think I swore off using this thing, but then they won my love with a free book.
So here's one about our trip to the Butch Cassidy 5K and Zion trip from November.
I'm right on top of things, I know. Just ask the ladies I drive carpool with. If I were them I would revoke my membership. Acutally I like to think I would give myself just one more chance. Please.

Link to full screen

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year End Review

The best things about belonging to our particular sect of the C-Clan in the year 2010:

1. Eyebrows. Mike has a lucky silver eyebrowish (which is a word I just made up for a single eyebrow hair). I judge when I need a haircut by how bushy mine are getting. Kenzie has dirty blonde eyebrows that lower a little bit when she get determined to do something like a back handspring, and Hannah has brown eyebrows that are frequently raised to the ceiling while she folds her arms and yells, "I will neveh!" But the best part of belonging to our family is getting to see Ellie's eyebrows crinkle in a toothless smile. That baby has awesome eyebrows.

2. Feet. Ellie's kick spastically in excitement when she hears deep voices or anything crinkly. Hannah's have been clopping around in fancy princess shoes or running down the hall when she has grabbed something of Kenzie's. Kenzie's have been folded underneath her while she creates elaborate playworlds with her toys and they have learned to flip over her head. Mine carried a what I swear was a 13 pound baby, but really was only 7, have walked up and down the stairs about ten million times in a quest for clean clothes, and like to run. I even won a 5K in a town with a population of just over 700, where about 1% of the population are runners. It was an amazing accomplishment. Mike's feet have pedaled miles to work, pulled his body through the Spudman triathlon, and have been stepped on, jumped on and survived so far.

3. Voices. While I'm sure that the most common phrase around our house has been,"No! I will neveh!" or just plain, "No!" Here are some other winners, some that I have highlighted in the sidebar:
Me to Kenzie, "I know you had a big booger. Where did you put it? In a tissue and into the garbage I hope."
"No Mom, I put it under my pillow."
"What?!! That's so gross. Why would you do that? I'm going to go barf."
Hannah, "The booger fairy will come and get it. That's what Kandelyn (a cousin) told us."
Me, making faces and trying not to think too much about it,"There is NO booger fairy. That is the grossest thing I have ever heard. Go get a tissue and clean it up."
Hannah and Kenzie, "But mom. It's gone! The booger fairy did come."

Mike, "Steph, I'm so excited! Rob and I are getting a cubicle together."  Or, "Don't you wish you were Mauly's size so you could fight her?"  (yes dear, everyday I wish that.)

Me, angrily, since we're late for church: "If you're not dressed by the time I come out of the bathroom, there will be no breakfast."  Mike, "And you can't go to college."

Mike, angrily, because he's asked six times for the frontroom to be cleared of toys, "If you don't have these toys picked up by the time the timer goes off I'm throwing them all away."  Me, "And you can't go to college."

Me, angrily, because one of the girls refuses to get their hair done, "If you don't let me comb your hair I'm cutting it all off, right now. And it will be ugly."  Mike, "And you can't go to college."

Mike angrily, because the girls won't stop crying and get ready to go to Christmas at the grandparents. "If you don't stop crying and get into the car, you're not going to Grandmas. And all your toys are going in the garbage. Me, "And you can't go to college."

It's the ultimate threat. It works every time.

That's all I can think of and I want to go and take a Sunday nap. (Blessed 9 a.m. church).  So leave me a comment or I will neveh write again. And you can't go to college.