Twins vs Singletons

Having a set of b/g twins 2.5 years after their sister puts me in a position to be able to compare and contrast the experiences of having twins and having a singleton– really having twins vs having two singletons. Now that the twins are 19 months old and Big Sis is 4, I feel I’ve gotten enough under my belt to do a little analysis. (Of course, everyone’s situation will vary, and all experiences depend highly on the temperament of each child as well as the character of each household, but I do find that there are some definite differences).

The GOOD…

Developmentally, I’ve got two kids doing the same thing. They generally play the same way, eat the same things, like the same places. They are in the same age group in any classes for which I’d sign them up, and very soon they would be able to play with each other. It’s one drop off and one pick up for both kids to grandma’s, and to preschool/school later on. At least until they’re old enough to pick their own separate activities, they’d be doing most things together. Big Sis will always be 2.5 years older, which means they would rarely be doing or liking the same things.

Two kids at the same age also means they’re more or less on the same schedule. There may be days when their naps are off, or even weeks during transitions when one does something that the other doesn’t yet. But even accounting for those differences, I consider them a unit for eating and sleeping. Big Sis has a different naptime and bedtime from her siblings; and actually she doesn’t even get to nap anymore because of the scheduling difficulties, even though she really could.

It’s a given that children cost a lot, but I think twins come with some economies of scale (assuming the comparison is between twins and two singletons). I get to buy many things in bulk, and sometimes I can even get a twin discount on stuff. But having twins over singletons is more of a time saver than anything else. Making two bottles at once only takes slightly more time than making one bottle, when I change one child I usually just change the other– almost everything we do takes less time than doing them with two children of different ages.

They have each other. They get to grow up together, learn together, support each other, and never be lacking a sidekick because their twin will always be there. Older/younger siblings do a lot of things together too, but it’s just not the same, at least not until they’re adults.

And the BAD…

Double Trouble” is true! It was actually easier when they were infants, when as long as I figured out how to feed them simultaneously, they were happy. There was a rough patch getting them on the same sleep schedule, but after that it was pretty good going until they became toddlers. Now, sometimes there are just not enough hands (or eyes). Example: toddlers on the move in the park. One was making a beeline for some stairs, while the other was attempting to topple a large trash can. Big Sis required minimal supervision, as she had found some little friends to play with.

The twins are also much more aggressive than their sister ever was. They are much more vocal in what they want, and will fight, even bite each other! They egg each other on when they’re misbehaving. “Group mentality” perhaps. One climbs on top of the play kitchen, and the other will climb it too. One screams and throws food, other other ups that by tossing a sippy cup too. Alone, perhaps they would not dare. Singletons just don’t get away with as much.

Activities for twins are difficult when there is only one adult. At least at my twins’ age, everything is much easier when the ratio is 1:1, or even 2:3 when including Big Sis. One adult to a set of twin toddlers is sometimes impossible (as in the case of Parent and Me swim class), but even when possible, it can get very stressful and overwhelming (Mommy and Me classes). Even if different-aged children are in an activity together, they would not need the same kind of attention at exactly the same time.

lunchldyd is a high school teacher on summer break in the Los Angeles area. She wonders how this comparison will change as her kids get older.

EASY Last-Minute Father’s Day Ideas from the Kiddos

Our family isn’t big on purchased gifts, so my husband will not be getting the proverbial new tie for Father’s Day this weekend.  Instead, we’ll be making our now-traditional Father’s Day Top 10.

I started this in 2010, when our girls were 17 months old.  (How I wish I’d done it in 2009, when they were infants…but I wasn’t brave enough then to whip out the finger paint!)

The girls choose what color they’d like to use for their hand print, and these days, they sign their names, too.  Then we work on a one-of-a-kind list, citing the Top 10 Reasons We Have the Best Daddy in the World.

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This list is from 2010, and it includes things pertinent to that year, like “you make sure there is always more room for dirty diapers,” and, “you give the best shoulder rides.”

This year, the girls came up with things like, “you are the master of Jenga,” and, “you showed us how to milk a goat” [long story].

In addition to this piece for our family scrapbook, I came up with an idea for a fun picture gift, too.

FDay14I drew these conversation bubbles and directed the girls to fill them in.  They thought this was some kind of fun!  And tomorrow, on Father’s Day, I plan to get one of them holding these signs, with their daddy in between them.  I see the birth of a new tradition!

What are your plans for Father’s Day?  Any traditions at your house?

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

 

Foodie Friday: Our Go-To Granola Recipe

A couple of years ago, a fellow twin mama published this granola recipe on her blog.  I make it frequently.  In fact, my kitchen feels a little empty if we don’t have something in the granola container.

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Our favorite way to eat granola…over Greek yogurt and fresh fruit!

My girls always help me make the granola, and I actually let them measure everything.  My sense is that the measurements don’t have to be super precise, which is a good thing with a couple of littles in the kitchen.

Here’s the recipe the way I make it (more or less):

4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup whole wheat flour or wheat germ

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2 cup honey

1 Tbsp. (or so) of cinnamon

1/4-1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 250.  Mix oats, coconut, and wheat flour/germ.  Dump in butter and honey (enough to make it moist but not super sticky…add more honey if necessary).  Toss mixture in a greased 9×13″ glass baking dish.  Bake for about 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until golden brown.

I’ve never added anything else, but if you’d like dried fruit, like raisins or cranberries, or chocolate chips in your granola, add them after baking.

If I’m making this just for our family, I usually make 1/2 a recipe.  We LOVE this over Greek yogurt in the mornings.  (And this mama loves it over ice cream — with a little chocolate syrup — after the girls are in bed!)  This also makes a great gift (and looks super-cute in a pretty mason jar).

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

MiM: End of Year Teacher Gift – Personalized Cookies

At the end of the school year, I like to use gifts to show my gratitude to the teachers, school staff, and afterschool counselors with whom I’ve entrusted my children’s education and safety. Unfortunately, my budget is rather small and my time limited. I got larger gifts for my daughters’ classroom teachers (shhhh… they’re still a secret) and decorated these cookies for a straightforward but elegant offering for the girls’ art, music, PE and Gifted and Talented teachers, afterschool care counselors, and office staff.

Teacher gift: Personalized cookies

(I know. It’s not Monday. Still, it’s been a while since a Make-It Monday post and I wanted to get this out there for others waiting until the last minute for teacher gifts.)

To really save time, instead of baking fresh cookies, I used store-bought round shortbread cookies. I made a batch of thick royal icing, then divided it, tinted the sections, and thinned portions into a flood consistency. I’ll share my royal icing recipe below, but for instructions and notes on consistency, allow me to refer you to the amazing Amber of Sweetambs.

Royal Icing

  • 2 lbs (1 package) confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavour
  • ½ tsp butter flavour
  • about 10 tbsp warm water, with more water for thinning

Mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer and beat until well-mixed, scraping down the sides.

I used food colours from the basic Wilton 12-colour set. I used the burgundy for a light pink and dark pink, the Kelly green for a light green and dark green, and a touch of brown to give an ivory tint to the white.

None of this stuff requires piping tips, although I like to use disposable piping bags with the tips snipped off. You could also just transfer your icing into a Ziploc bags and cIip a corner with scissors.

I used basic wet-on-wet royal icing techniques for all the cookies except the volleyballs. Rather than reinvent the wheel, allow me to refer your to the experts. Amber does an expert job of demonstrating how to make the roses and leaves on her blog and shows us how to get the marbled look in this video.

(Note that I only did the first sets of lines and didn’t bother with the scoring parallel to the lines of icing.)

Originally, all the teachers were going to get roses, but my daughters were completely appalled by this proposal. They thought that roses could work for their art teacher, but it was obvious to them that I needed to something that reflected the subject that each teacher taught. They agreed to treble clefs for their music teacher, volleyballs for PE, and YMCA logos for their afterschool counselors. I suggested books for their Gifted and Talented teacher, but they couldn’t get on the same page, so we went with marbled cookies to represent creativity and abstract concepts.

For the YMCA logo cookies, I just outlined the triangle of the Y before flooding the surface of the cookie. Then, I flooded the inside of the triangle with a contrasting colour. Finally, I used flood consistency icing to outline the remainder of the logo freehand. The treble clef cookies were also all freehand. Red Couch Recipes shows you how to make the heart-ish border with dots of icing and a toothpick.

Finally, for the volleyball cookies, I flooded the surface of each cookie and allowed them to dry for at least an hour so that the stiff icing I used for the lines wouldn’t sink into the  surface beneath.

Straightforward volleyball design for cookies (or cupcakes... or whatever)

I let all the cookies dry solid overnight (at least 12 hours), then stored them all in an airtight container until I was ready to hand them out. I packed them with foodsafe tissue paper in cute containers, added my thank you cards, tossed in a few icing roses (demoed by Sugarbelle), and I was done!

Volleyball cookies for PE teachers!

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Make It Monday: Preschool Handwriting Sampler

Our girls started learning to write their letters just after their third birthday.

Baby A's first "A"!

Baby A’s first “A”!

Since they really got the hang of it, around age 3 1/2, writing is a huge pastime for them.  They love to write notes, lists, and make cards.

I just love seeing the progression of their handwriting.  Here’s a list Baby A made before my birthday last month.  I didn’t know why she was asking me to spell all these items…turns out she was making a shopping list for Daddy to get me for my birthday.  HA!  I don’t really need any broccoli, but this mama wouldn’t mind some shoes and jelly beans!

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I was browsing Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, and I came upon this alphabet sampler.

I love this!!!

I love this!!!

It gave me an idea to do something with the girls’ writing.  I cut cardstock into 1″ x 1.5″ pieces.  I had the girls take turns writing the letters of the alphabet.  (Baby A got the letter “A”, and Baby B got the letter “B”…and so on.)  The letters “I” and “U” were done in red, and the letter “O” was replaced with one of Baby A’s signature hearts.

I found an 8″ square frame on clearance at our local craft store.  I also found some pink graph paper in their scrapbook section.  (Having the patterned background made things really easy to plot.)

The girls helped me sort the letters into order while I glued them down.

Viola!

For less than $5, a little elbow grease, and a handwriting lesson…I love the way it turned out!  And we all love seeing this on the bookshelves in our den.

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

MiM: Kids’ Sleep Masks

Just over a week ago, my 7-year-old daughter J asked me if I would teach her how to sew. She’s been knitting for a while, so this seemed like an age-appropriate activity.

sewing1I’d tried introducing cross stitch, the only sewing-related activity at which I have any skill, a while back, but it didn’t take. There was no way I could teach her to use a sewing machine; I have yet to figure out how to use mine. Knowing that I’d want an easy hand-stitching project for her, I turned to the blogosphere for inspiration.

I found the perfect idea at Make It & Love It: sleep masks. Ashley made the excellent point that felt is the perfect fabric for a starter sewing project, since it doesn’t fray and requires no edge finishing. Plus, she has a free downloadable template that takes the guesswork out of cutting the felt for the sleep mask.

My daughters and I went shopping for supplies. We had plenty of ribbon at home, so we picked up a selection of felt sheets, a variety of trim, some basic thread and long needles. A single felt sheet would have been enough to make 5 sleep masks, but I decided to pick up some extra sheets. As it turns out, I’m very glad I did.

Sewing supplies

I used Ashley’s template to cut out the basic shape of the girls’ sleep masks.

template

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We used ribbon instead of elastic, which worked fine for us. The girls threaded their own needles and allowed me to tie knots in the ends. I cut pieces of ribbon for them and sealed the ends with flame, much to the concern of my children. I showed them very basic stitching. Put the needle through the fabric, then go back in the way you came. Keep a nice long tail on your thread, but make sure it’s shorter than the main length of the thread. That’s all they needed to know to make this project a success. They just let me know when they were ready for me to tie off each length of thread.

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Both girls ended up with ribbon that was too long. Since M finished up her sleep mask first, I showed her how to take in the extra ribbon. I figured this would be a skill that would serve her throughout her life, since she promises to share my struggles with clothes that are always too long. She was then able to show her sister how to do it, which was very satisfying for everyone involved.wpid-Photo-20140310224932.jpg

Both the girls had a great deal of fun playing with the variety of trim at our disposal.

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I even had the opportunity to show M how to make a ruffle, since she sewed a short piece of rickrack onto a wider piece of trim with stitches that were perfect for pulling tight.

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Even the stuffed toys got in on the fun.

wpid-Photo-20140310224932.jpgA day after the girls completed their sleep masks, I was puttering around the house, folding laundry. M asked me to tie a knot in a piece of thread, but I didn’t think much of it. Half an hour later, I discovered her assiduously sewing. She had, completely independently, designed, cut out, and sewn a Wonder Woman crown of felt.

7-year-old design and execution of a Wonder Woman crown, made of felt.

She is now working out how she’ll make the rest of the costume for her sister. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the value of having crafting supplies freely available to the miniature crafter in your family, as well as the unstructured time to let his or her imagination run wild.

Do your kids knit or sew?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Make it Monday – A Birthday Tribute to Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss Make-it-Monday hdydi.com

Did you know that March 2 is the Birthday of Dr. Seuss? Marking what would have been his 110th birthday, today schools, libraries and other organizations participate in Read Across America, an initiative to get more kids reading and to honor Dr. Seuss. His books were my favorites when I was a kid, and we have a large selection of them in regular rotation here. Plus, any parent of twins has to have an appreciation for Thing 1 and Thing 2, which I firmly believe had to be modeled on twin toddlers!

Happy Read Across America Day in honor of Dr Seuss! #neareads #sewingforboys #drseuss

Today I am happy to share a little project I did for my kids which is a great tribute to the beloved Dr. Seuss for his birthday today. To be completely honest, when I started the project it was not timed in conjunction with the Dr. Seuss celebration or the Read Across America initiative at all. I made them because these are favorite books of my kids, and when I found this fabric I knew I wanted to do something fun for them. See, in addition to being a stay at home mom to my 4-year-old twin boys, I also have a small business making custom kids clothing. My kids see tons of cute shirts and outfits on my sewing table and most often it is not for them. So when they saw this fabric, they were elated! My son Justin chose The Lorax, which has been a favorite book and movie for years and Joshua picked Green Eggs and Ham which has become a recent favorite bedtime story.

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(Kindly disregard the chaos of my sewing room and look at that smile when he saw his fabric!)

My boys love their new shirts, and I love seeing their love of books.

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So now, the nitty gritty of the shirts. They are made from The Scientific Seamstress Bowling Shirt, which is a PDF pattern you can purchase from Etsy and a few other places. This was one of my first patterns when I started making kids clothing, and I have made these bowling shirts in a few dozen versions. It’s so fun and versatile. Plus, the Scientific Seamstress patterns are like a mini sewing lesson and a pattern in one. I hadn’t sewn a garment since the 7th grade HomeEc class when I made my first set of Bowling shirts for my duo, and they turned out great! There aren’t a lot of great patterns for boys, this is my main go-to pattern for boys. It has so many options for stripes and piecing, and you can be as creative as you want with fabrics. For these I decided to vary the standard piecing options (which are normally vertical or horizontal stripes) and just did the top horizontal stripe to make more of a yoke. (Which of course I cracked myself up making a yoke on a shirt with eggs. Get it? Yoke/Yolk? Cracked myself up! hahaha! Anyway…)

The shirt is lined, and therefore doesn’t have a lot of hemming or zigzagging and doesn’t require a serger to finish seams, but still has a nice, finished look. And since this is a Moms of Multiples blog, I will add that I almost always make two (or more) at a time. I made my boys several for our Disney trips, and have made a few as gifts and, like these, with no occasion at all.

I find it easiest to do all of one step on both shirts before moving to the next step. Cut out all the pieces first, then assemble. I keep the pieces of each separated in ziploc bags. Each shirt takes about 1 yard of fabric in the 3/4 or 5/6 size, depending on how you cut and whether the fabric is directional. If you intend to use directional fabric and vertical stripes, I would suggest a yard and a quarter. I have generally bought 1-1.25 yards of each of two fabrics and made two shirts from it.

I have made it with and without stripes, all one fabric and several, plus added appliqués and without. These I did add appliqués, and yes I have a fancy embroidery machine. But the Green Eggs and Ham one was not done with the embroidery machine, I did it the old-fashioned way, cutting out four eggs from scrap fabric, ironing on Heat-n-bond and tight zigzagging around it. Well, maybe not that old-fashioned, I guess.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Scientific Seamstress patterns for beginners or seasoned sewists. I have most of her patterns, and each one is easy to follow and has tons of options to customize size and style to your liking. If you’re new to sewing or just want to get something cute made for your own kiddos, you can’t go wrong with any of these patterns.

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In the Spirit of Full Disclosure, the Links to the Books on Amazon are Affiliate Links. If you click and chose to add these titles to your own personal library I will get a few cents. (Thanks!) I did not receive any compensation for the review of the pattern from the Scientific Seamstress. I bought and love the pattern. I do also sell handmade items on Etsy and through my own Facebook page and take custom orders, though this was not intended to be a shill for that business.

Jen is the stay-at-home mom of newly minted 4 year old boys who all survived the terrible threes. They live in the arctic wasteland formerly known as Chicagoland, where they have been cooped up inside for the worst winter in half a century, left with plenty of time to reflect and reminisce. Her family blog Go Team Wood is oft-neglected and now functions mostly as a repository for Instagram pics and occasional updates that are far and few between. You can find out more about her handmade kids clothes biz at Just-Joshin.com

MiM: How to make chew necklaces for kids who chew their clothes

One of my twin boys is a shirt chewer. Actually, he was a shirt chewer. I made chew necklaces for him to wear and completely cured him of his nervous habit of chewing on his clothing in about two months. I am not crafty and I can not sew at all. So when I looked for ideas about how to get kids to stop chewing their clothes, I was disappointed to find complicated, messy sensory games or options that required a sewing machine.

Finally, I found an easy, free, no sew option by whining to my friend who is a school teacher. She had seen a few students wear “chew necklaces” in her elementary school.

Chew Necklaces

How to make chew necklaces for kids who chew their clothes:

Supplies -
*old tshirts (that your child has outgrown or already chewed holes in)
*scissors
*regular bedroom dresser
*ability to braid

Steps -
*Cut out three strips of fabric (~25-30 inches long, depending on how long you want the necklace to be. Remember tshirt material stretches) from the old tshirts.

Tie Knot in end

*Tie the three strips together into a knot at one end.

*Tuck the knotted end into dresser drawer.Braid with knot in dresser

*Braid the three strips.

*Tie the end of the braid into a knot.

Tie knot in other end

*Tie the two knots together.

Tie together done

Because they are made out of tshirt material, they feel the same to kids as chewing on their clothes and are likely to be a great substitute. They can also be thrown in the wash with their clothes. They do eventually get chewed through (as evidenced in the above picture; the gray and red one is pretty much done) but it’s easy to make more. And oddly, the best news is that after wearing these for a few months, my son just quit chewing altogether. Now, we don’t need these necklaces and he doesn’t chew on his shirts anymore!

Chew Necklace

MiM: DIY Stick Horse

DIY Stick horse instructions from hdydi.com. Cheap, simple classic toys that are SO MUCH FUN!Our very first homework assignment came to us when my daughters were in pre-school. Three years ago, when my girls were nearly 5, their daycare teacher gave us general guideline to make cheap DIY stick horses for a school “horsie” race. I was surprised by how much fun we had with the project and how much my pre-schoolers were able to contribute.

Three years later, my daughters still play with their horses. They’ve held up to rough play and continue to provide fodder for the imagination. Not bad for under $10 each!

Want to know how we made them? Read on! I’ve included a list of supplies at the end of the post, in case you decide to go shopping.

We started out by taking some sandpaper to 4 foot dowels from the home improvement store. Each horse takes one dowel. I was surprised to realize that my 4-year-olds were perfectly good at this task.

They then painted their dowels. This is certainly an optional step, but each of my girls definitely enjoyed picking a unique colour for her own horse.

100_0133Here’s the genius part of this project. The horse head? It’s a sock, stuffed with batting. We used Daddy’s old socks. M and J loved shoving the batting in there.

We tied off the bottom of the stuffed socks with yarn.

Next, M and J decided on the shape and colour of their horses’ ears, and I cut triangles of felt to their specifications. I sewed pairs of felt triangles together and turned them inside out to hide the seam. I hand-sewed them onto the socks at locations of the girls’ choosing. I also sewed on buttons for eyes.

100_0240I then cut equal lengths of yarn, and the girls used yarn needles to thread them through the centerline of the sock, from slightly in front of the ears down the back of the head. I tied little knots to secure them. At bedtime, the manes were still not quite thick enough to meet the girls’ exacting standards, so they gave me instructions to finish off the job.

When all of that was done, I hot-glued the socks onto the dowels. The glued part looked messy, so I wrapped it in ribbon and hot-glued that on too. I also glued a length of ribbon (picked by the children, of course) around the front of each muzzle.

The girls both tied an additional length of ribbon on to make reins. They’ve upgraded over the years, adding beaded reins and even earrings to their horsies. Have fun with this project and send us photos of your creations!

DIY Stick Horse Supplies

  • Wooden dowel: 4 feet long, 1 inch diameter
  • Sandpaper: 150-grit
  • Non-toxic paint
  • Batting
  • Felt for ears
  • Buttons for eyes
  • Yarn for mane
  • Ribbon for noseband and reins
  • Old socks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Needle and thread
  • Blunt yarn needle

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering. She blogged about this project on my now-retired blog Double the Fun when we first did the project.

MiM: Paint Chips for Parenting Projects

Paint chips are a great FREE crafting resource. Ideas from hdydi.com

Original image by krugthethinker

Paint chips, the kind you pick up free at the paint or hardware store, are quite possibly my favourite crafting supply ever. They’re free. There’s no guilt in using paint chips for projects because stores expect us to take them home, for free.

And they are so very pretty, with vibrant colours in every shade you could possibly use. They’re great for educating toddlers about colours, of course, but they have a bazillion uses in crafts of all sorts.

Two of my favourite crafty bloggers are Valerie at Inner Child Fun and MaryAnne at Mama Smiles. I confess that they’re the two who brought paint chips’ crafty potential to my attention. Take a look at MaryAnne’s colour scheme game and Valerie’s outdoor colour match.

Or you could just browse our Pinterest board of Paint Chip Crafts!

I’m pinning other great paint chip craft ideas on Pinterest.

Let us know what your great craft idea is for these colourful strips of joy.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.