Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Viking We Will Go!

A friend of ours is throwing a costumed birthday/Halloween party next weekend. It has a viking theme, so I decided the kids needed viking hats to wear.  I couldn't quite find a pattern I liked, so I whipped up my own. Below you'll find the pattern for the hat base, along with a link to directions for the horns. (Those were created by another crafter on Ravelry named sar.) My hat pattern is crochet. Sar's horns are knit. Perfect chance to learn another craft if you only know one! (Or neither.)

Avery's Viking Hat
Finished size approx. 18" circumference to fit a toddler
Worsted/Aran weight yarn and size I hook. Click Here to see which yarns I used. Less than half a skein of each color is needed.
Gauge: 3sts and 3.6 rows per inch- make a swatch so you know it will fit!!

Work continuously in the round. (Do not join end to beginning of round with a slst.) Place a marker in the first stitch of the round and move it up as you complete each round. This pattern uses American crochet terms.

Row 1: Work 6sc in magic circle.
Row 2: 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
Row 3: (1sc, 2sc in next st)* around (18 sts)
Row 4: (sc in next 2 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (24 sts)
Row 5: (sc in next 3 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (30 sts)
Row 6: (sc in next 4 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (36 sts)
Row 7: (sc in next 5 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (42 sts)
Row 8: (sc in next 6 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (48 sts)
Row 9: (sc in next 7 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (54 sts)
Row 10-24: sc in each st around
Row 25: sc in first st. (Bobble stitch into the next st. sc in next 2 sts.)* around. sc in last st. (18 bobbles)-Note: for my bobbles I DC'ed 4 sts together instead of 5 like the video shows.  It shouldn't matter, but in case you want your hat to totally match I wanted to point it out.
Row 26-27: sc in each st around. At the end of row 27, join yarn to the beginning of the round with a slst. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Horns. (Directions are in the notes section at the bottom of the page.) Make 2. Stuff with a small amount of Poly-Fil. Attach to either side of the helmet using yellow yarn, just above the bobble "rivets". Hint: You should have 18 bobbles. Center one of the horns just above a bobble and you can count 9 bobbles in either direction to line up the position for the other horn. I used a US size 8 (5.0mm) needle to knit my horns.

If desired, add braids to the hat, centering them just below the horns. This is how to do it. I cut my yarn to 24" lengths, and then folded it in half to secure to the hat. After knotting the ends of the braids, I trimmed the excess with scissors to my liking. I used a total of 24 strands on each side of my hat for chunkier braids. This made knotting the ends difficult, but with a little fiddling I managed to do it. Experiment with yarn amounts until you get braids you're happy with.

Because elements of this pattern were not designed by me, please craft items from this pattern for personal use only.

slst-slip stitch
sc-single crochet

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crazy Update

This will not make sense unless you've read part 1.

I have "processed" about half the diaper stash with the aquarium ammonia remover. (The other half hasn't been done because I'm out of the solution and have been too busy lazy to go get more.) The verdict works. Mostly.

Per the directions on the blog post I linked in part 1, I used the highest water setting my washer allows, adding 60 mL of the ammonia remover, and soaked the diapers in hot water for 6 hours. After the soak I ran a rinse cycle, followed by a full wash cycle which included detergent and an extra rinse.

Immediately you could tell the inserts were better off. The ammonia remover got out a lingering funk that was on all of the inserts.  That funk never really smelled like ammonia, nor did it smell like barnyard (which is another scent all the diaper blogs caution you about), and I'd always chalked it up to leftovers from our strange water conditions. It didn't smell bad, but it was just sort of there. You would only notice it when you placed an insert against your nose and intentionally took a good whiff. And yes, I did that often while trying to assess the problem with these diapers. I'm not weird. Check the other diaper blogs...those moms did it too.  The scent might have actually been from our water, it might not have, I have no idea. Either way it's gone now, if only temporarily.

The majority of the diapers go on the kids, get used, and come off with no issues. No rashes, no immediate ammonia stench coming from the diaper itself. But there are a select few diapers that the solution seemed to help, but didn't completely rid them of ammonia. And it's random across the diapers that have been treated, not like it is one of the 2 brands we use or something like that. The random diapers are better than they were before, just a bit of redness on the kids instead of full blown chemical burns, and they clearly smell like ammonia when you take them off (instead of smelling like some ammonia-mix weirdness which was part of the problem in diagnosing this issue) so I know I'm making progress. If I segregated those diapers from the bunch and repeated the process it would probably do the trick.

We are at least back to a manageable point. I can use our cloth diapers, though there is still work to be done before I'll be completely happy again.  I'd recommend the aquarium ammonia remover as a last ditch attempt to save your diapers (like I needed), but not as a regular maintenance type of thing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Trying something sort of crazy...

Remember back when I posted a video on washing cloth diapers? It was roughly a year ago. That cleaning routine was fantastic...until the day it quit working. Right about the time kiddo #2 was born we started getting some issues with ammonia build up. It only seemed to occur in Avery's diapers, and not Jake's so we chalked it up to toddler pee and tried making some small tweaks to the wash routine. Well...Jake is 8 months old now and we're still battling this thing, which has turned into a raging monster. Both kids are getting full-on ammonia burns after putting on 1 cloth diaper, and this is 1 or 2 wash cycles after stripping.  I'm at my wits end!

At one time or another over the past 8 months this is what I've tried:

  • Cutting back on the number of diapers washed at one time
  • Increasing the wash frequency to every day instead of every 2-3 days
  • Eliminating ALL additives from the wash. (For a while I had been adding a few drops of Grapefruit seed extract and tea tree oil after Avery got a yeast rash, so I wanted to make sure I completely killed that too.)
  • Switching to a different cloth-safe detergent, and another one after that
  • Switching to Tide
  • Soaking in Vinegar 
  • Soaking in Bleach
  • Soaking in a Vinegar/Oxi-clean solution
  • Stripping with blue Dawn
  • Stripping with RLR
  • Stripping with just hot water
  • Boiling the inserts using a pot on the stove
  • Adding more detergent to each load (we also tried less at the beginning as I thought our problems might have been from detergent build up and not ammonia)
  • Adding "Funk Rock" to the routine, including do a recommended soak with it
  • Rinsing both wet and dirty diapers before putting them in the diaper pail
  • Leaving the diaper pail lid open to encourage air flow
To a degree, some of these things helped.  It would knock back our problems for a little while, but then they'd come creeping back slightly worse for the next round. I'd say the boiling was the most helpful, but it was a complete PITA and it made me nervous to do it when the kids were awake, so it took forever to get all of our inserts done. I refuse to do it again. I also realize that ammonia in my diapers means they are not getting fully clean in the wash and that a change in my regular wash routine is required. However, nothing I change is ever going to work until I get the ammonia completely out of my diapers for good. I have to get them back to being super clean before I can truly test any changes to my wash routine.

So I went browsing, again, for a solution. This time I found a suggestion for using ammonia remover that is used in aquariums. After a quick google search of "Aquarium Ammonia remover for cloth diapers" the first article came back with a title along the lines of "Ways to ruin your cloth diapers". While this was not a promising start, I read several more articles claiming this actually worked with no ill-effects to the diapers. And now I have 28 microfiber inserts soaking with this stuff in my washer right now. (Here was the article with actual directions.)

Quite frankly, it doesn't matter if the ammonia remover ruins my diapers.  They are already ruined in the sense that I can't put them on my children without causing physical harm. Cloth diapers do not benefit me sitting in a drawer. And I'm dumping cash into disposables while I'm trying to heal their rashes and get the ammonia out of the diapers. This stuff will either be a $5 miracle fix to get rid of ammonia, or I'm dropping a lot more money to find a new solution. That may be in the form of buying cotton prefolds to stuff into my pockets (Supposedly, those are less likely to cause ammonia issues because the fabric washes more easily than microfiber) or giving up cloth completely and switching to disposables. I'll let you know how the experiment turns out...

Here's the verdict.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My! What a snazzy helmet you have!

So here's Jake, in all of his adorableness, now accessorized with his swanky new cranial remolding helmet.

Wait. Hold up. Huh? A helmet? Explain Kacie.

Jake has torticollis and positional plagiocephaly. In language we all understand, that means he has a stiff neck muscle (torticollis) and because it was so stiff he had trouble turning his head to his left side. Since he wasn't moving his head around, he developed a flat spot (the plagiocephaly part) on the back side of his head where it was constantly resting against whatever he was sitting in. (Swing, bouncer, crib, car seat, whatever...) So for a few months he has to wear a helmet to fix the flat spot. His torticollis has resolved with a bunch of physical therapy stretches, thankfully, so now the "silly hat" as we like to call it can get on with doing its job.

Only...A plain white helmet is no fun! So we decided to give it a bit of spunk and personality, just like our little Jakers. Since I never found a tutorial on how to do this (trust me, I looked) I thought I'd share how I did it.

I used a combination of clip art from the web, and Microsoft Word to create a series of images and text that would be turned into stickers. There was no real good way to do this, and the process changed a little depending on what I was trying to achieve for each sticker. I will say, I took my time with it, and all told it took several hours. Of course, if you had some version of Photo Shop, I'm sure the process would go much more quickly and easily. I don't have that, nor am I willing to pay for it, so...yeah. Essentially, I laid everything out the way I wanted it to appear in Microsoft word by combining my images and text on a drawing canvas (or a text box) and played around with the "bring it forward, send to back" junk until it looked right. I'd take a screen shot of the computer and paste that into Microsoft Paint. From Paint, I could crop the item I was working on and save it to become one single image. Then I'd load it back into MS Word and resize the image to the dimensions I wanted and make the background transparent. (Think small if you want a lot! My images are roughly 1 to 1.5 inches and we have about a dozen stickers on the entire helmet.) By loading it back into Word, I could place all my images on a single sheet for convenient printing. This also allowed me to resize them as needed if they didn't fit the spots on the helmet nicely. (We didn't have the helmet at the time, so I had no idea how much room I would have available.) By making the background of each image transparent, the helmet color would serve as the background. I felt this would lend toward a more natural blending, almost like the images were printed directly on the helmet. The only exceptions are a couple of colored stickers, like the one in the image above on the right. As it turned out, sticker design was the easy part...

The first time I printed my stickers (Yes. First. In all, this took 3 tries.) I used Printable Sticker Paper made by Silhouette. I set my printer for overhead transparencies since this was the most appropriate setting my inkjet printer offers and clicked the print button. These printed BEAUTIFULLY! I was so excited! The images were sharp and the truly clear background was just what wanted. And then I tried to put them on the helmet. The problem is that these sheets are some sort of plastic-y/vinyl combo, so when I cut my images out and went to apply them, the material wasn't flexible enough. The odd, multi-directional curves of the helmet were just too much, and no amount of stretch and manipulation would make the stickers lay flat against the helmet. Back to the drawing board...

The next product I tried was a Clear Full Sheet Label by Avery (#18665). When I went to print I was a little confused because the label itself looks almost white. I had to peel the backing off a section to convince myself it actually wasn't. This is because Avery's version of "clear" is like a frosted window. It is not truly transparent. But we printed anyway! And it worked! I set out cutting my images and placing them on the helmet. The label paper is thin enough that you can manipulate the curves and get it to lay flat or close to it. There were a few stickers that had some wrinkles along a curve, but nothing bad enough that I had to scrap the sticker. The major problem I had was that the ink wanted to smear off while I was applying the stickers. (I let them dry overnight trying to avoid this.) I got around this by setting the sticker gently on the helmet and placing a paper towel over the top before applying pressure to adhere the sticker.  If I got a weird wrinkle, the adhesive on the back of the label is forgiving enough that I could peel it right back off and make adjustments to its placement. I got all my stickers on, went out to take all the above photos, and Jake started wearing it as soon as his nap was over. 

Then, "baby" happened. Jake is hard core teething right now, so his hands are always in his mouth getting nicely coated with drool. And since he was still adjusting to the helmet, he was also constantly grabbing at it and trying to figure out how to itch his sweaty little head. Drool plus sticker equals printer ink EVERYWHERE! In just a couple hours the ink was completely gone from at least 3 stickers and there were black streaks all over the plastic exterior. Don't worry though...rubbing alcohol (the same stuff you have to have on hand to clean the inside of the helmet) takes the ink right off the plastic. So I pulled the stickers off and "washed" the plastic back to a clean white start. We still have a bit of ink on the velcro strap that holds the helmet closed, but it isn't too bad. It was bound to get grungy anyway so I wasn't heart broken that I couldn't get the ink out.

After the ink fiasco, I needed to find a way to seal the stickers. Now remember when I said I had looked for tutorials? The only thing I could find were tips on how to apply pre-made vinyl decals. A site called Bling Your Band suggested using Mod Podge to seal the edges of their decals to prevent them from peeling off. It was something I was willing to try with my own stickers, but past experience with that product has taught me Mod Podge itself will smear anything printed on an ink jet printer. If it doesn't smear, it will cause the ink to bleed a little, meaning my nice crisp designs would turn into a fuzzy blob under the Mod Podge. Enter the sealer before the sealer...

I printed my designs for the third time. I let them dry on the label paper overnight. Then I sprayed the stickers with 3 coats of Krylon Matte Finish, which is a spray-on acrylic sealer. It only takes a couple minutes to dry to the touch and about 2 hours to dry completely. I did some chores around the house and then came back to cut out my stickers. As I started to put the stickers on the helmet, I already knew this was working out better. The ink wasn't coming off on my fingers as I applied pressure to the stickers. No more paper towel needed. The Bling site also showed the decals being applied with a squeegee to help eliminate bubbles and wrinkles.  I didn't have a squeegee, but I did have a plastic scraper for my Pampered Chef baking stone.  I used the edge of that to help smooth out my stickers even further and it worked great. I have a couple of stickers where I dug in with the scraper a little too much because I was really trying to even them out along a curve. It took a little of the ink off because I went right through the acrylic layer.  So if you do decide to use another tool, just be careful with how much pressure you apply to a "sharp" edge.

Once the stickers were all on the helmet, I used a 1" foam brush to apply Mod Podge with a matte finish
Just follow the directions on the bottle. The small size is more than plenty. I used 3 coats and felt that was enough. (And by that time, it was close to 2 in the morning...) I let it dry the rest of the night and Jake wore his helmet the next morning. The finish has held up well, and NO INK SMEARS!! It's been roughly 2 weeks since I put the stickers on and the Mod Podge doesn't even look scratched.  If I do need it, we have plenty leftover after the original application to add some layers.
A few more notes about the stickers: 
  • The label paper I used, as stated before, has a frosted background.  When applied to my white helmet, it blends in and you can't see it at all. I do not know if this will be true if you have a colored helmet.  The edges of your stickers might show more. However, the borders will be more noticeable anyway after you apply the Mod Podge, so this could be a moot point.
  • Even if the shape of the sticker lends itself better to being cut in a circle, I found square stickers were easier to apply and get to lay flat. If there were going to be wrinkles, the square stickers wanted to do it in fewer directions when applied to a curve.
  • Finally, there were some comments on the Bling site that state rubbing alcohol will remove the Mod Podge if you wanted to swap out your stickers.  I plan to keep the same ones, but just in case, I've been careful when cleaning the helmet to make sure I don't over-spray the exterior. The comments say the alcohol will cause the finish to bubble and then you can peel it off in sheets before reaching the sticker itself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7 unexpected things about breastfeeding that new moms should know and I had to figure out on my own

My second child is starting on solid foods.  That got me thinking back on the crazy road we've taken with nursing up until this point, and all the things I wish somebody with actual experience would have told me from the get-go. So, in no particular order, here are some of the things I've learned while breastfeeding both of my kids.

(P.S. This is Jake. I don't think I've actually introduced him to the blog yet.)

1. Newborns will not always wake to nurse despite needing to eat every 2 hours. This is even more true when your kids have jaundice, which both of mine did. I would need to play with their feet, tickle their necks just below the jawline, and the most cruel way to be woken up...get them naked and pat them down with a cold wet wash cloth. I'd sometimes need to repeat this throughout a nursing to get them to keep eating.  It's annoying, but it works.

2. Learn the difference between nursing for comfort and nursing for nutrition. All the information you read about breastfeeding before you actually do it tells you that pacifiers are the enemy. No they aren't. They save YOU from becoming a human pacifier. A few minutes of extra comfort nursing are usually appreciated, but there comes a point when you just don't want to be stuck under the baby when they aren't really eating any more. Extract you, insert pacifier in one swift swoop, and you can usually set baby down to sleep without them wising up to the switch.

3. In those first few weeks use lanolin ALWAYS even when your boobs feel fine after you nurse. It works much better to prevent painful cracks and sore spots than it does at treating them after they develop. And baby's latch is horrible for at least those first few weeks, so your nips take a lot of abuse.

4. Breast milk can aggravate reflux, especially when you have an oversupply of milk and/or baby gets too much foremilk. Learn how to spot it so you can salvage your breastfeeding relationship before it's too late. Remember this ordeal with Avery? If we'd known it was reflux earlier and treated it, we most likely wouldn't have needed formula at all.

5. Pumping may or may not be in the cards for you, and your output has no reflection on what baby actual consumes. You may also have different reactions to it with different children. With Avery, pumping drove me crazy and I couldn't handle it. With Jake, we spent about 3 months exclusively pumping with much more success. Also, the type of pump you choose can give you different outputs and you really have to experiment with them in order to get one that works for you. As an example, I have 3 in my current rotation.  I have an electric Medela, a manual Medela, and a manual Tommee Tippee. The electric works best for me and is what I use here at home.  The Tommee Tippee works well, and that's what I kept bedside. I purchased the manual Medela to keep in the car when I was exclusively pumping for Jake and while it's more comfortable than the TT there isn't enough suction for me so I barely get any milk out of it, and therefore don't ever use it. Really, it was a complete waste of money since it just sits there. So...different pumps, different reactions. Don't be surprised by it.

6. Your pediatrician, and possibly the lactation consultant everyone pushes at you might be the most full of crap when it comes to nursing advice. Do your own research. is the best resource hands down, though their site can be a bit difficult to navigate if you aren't familiar with it. La Leche League is another good one, as is Dr. Jack Newman. Treat them a bit like using're going to get all sorts of scary information when you're looking into how to fix a nursing problem.  Sort through all the junk you know it's not and you can pinpoint what will work in your situation. (i.e. Just because you have a plugged duct, does not mean you have mastitis.)  Use the "symptoms" you have, even if that symptom is just baby crying at the breast. That link above...when I went to see that LC I basically got confirmation that Avery's latch was good, a smile and "you're doing great" but I received zero tips or tricks for getting her to keep nursing. No, "why don't you try this for a couple days and see if it helps" type stuff.  I was really struggling, which is why we so easily switched to formula and never looked back.

7. Your breastfeeding relationship with your baby is in a constant state of flux and your commitment to it will be tested regularly. With Jake, this has been especially true. We started out exclusively nursing, then morphed into exclusive pumping & bottle feeding, then a mix of the 2, back to exclusive nursing, and now we're adding in solid foods and a bit of formula on top of his nursing because the doctor would like him to have more calories. There were several times along that journey where I was willing to give up nursing all together, but Jake's discomfort with formula was more of a hassle to deal with than just sticking it out. Just remember to be flexible about the situation and that it's okay to change your mind on how to feed your baby.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Ever seen one of these?

I did...At my favorite children's thrift store, Once Upon A Child.  It was $40 and since there was no adorable little toddler standing on it, I had no clue what the thing was for. Fast forward a few months and I find out it's called The Learning Tower and you can use it to boost your tot up to counter height so they can help with small tasks in the kitchen and explore the world of food. I also learned that it retails for $200. Ouch! Besides wanting to shoot myself for not nabbing it that day, I instantly knew I wanted a fake version. Today we finally got around to building it...

I found a couple tutorials online (here and here) but what frustrated me is that neither had a list of supplies. Nick and I have been in our house only a couple of years, and he's really not the handiest of fellows so we didn't just have scrap wood lying around waiting to build this thing. We also have limited tools.  So what I really needed was a list of all the stuff I'd have to buy in order to add up how much this project was really going to cost before I decided to tackle it. So here it is:

(1) Ikea Bekvam Step Stool ($14.99)
(1) 8 foot long 2x2 ($1.82)
(1) 8 foot long 1x4--you will have a LOT left over ($2.06)
(1) 5/8" Dowel Rod--($2.48) As we were putting this together the thought occurred to me that you could also just use another piece of 2x2 if you don't want to mess with this.  It'd be much easier to attach and you won't need the speedbor. (But you will need another piece of lumber since the leftover of the first 2x2 won't be long enough.) You'll use less than 2 feet of length but it will vary depending on how deep you drill the holes.
(1) Box of 1.5" Wood Screws ($5.58)--we used a #8 size for both types
(1) Box of 2.5" Wood Screws ($5.58)
Total materials cost: $32.51 plus tax & needed tools. I can live with that!

Now for the tools. I'll only include the price of the Speedbor because that's the only tool we purchased. Obviously, you'll have to figure out which tools you personally need to purchase and can figure out your own budget for each. 
  • Tape Measure & Pencil
  • Circular Saw
  • Power Drill
  • A drill bit appropriate for the diameter of your screws (for drilling pilot holes)
  • Wood boring spade drill bit, sometimes labeled as a speedbor--($3.78) This is what it looks like. It's also the one we purchased.You'll use it to make the notches for the dowel rod.
  • Something to set the wood on in order to cut it. We don't have saw horses, so we slid the pieces through the rungs of our ladder.
  • An assistant to cut/hold/screw wood and basically do the manual labor while you pass along the instructions. (For the True DIY'ers that are capable of using power tools unassisted-unlike me-you will still need some help holding boards in place.)
A couple of notes since I don't want to re-write the tutorials (just go check them out, it's easy to understand the instructions)...

Our countertops are 36" high. The vertical 2x2 posts above the stool were cut 16" in length. Measure your counter to determine if you'll need to cut them to a different length, and to see if you'll need additional lumber.

Cut the holes for the dowel using the speedbor before you screw the posts to the top of the stool.  Much easier and much safer. When you're ready to insert the dowel, screw in the first post, set the second post in place and sandwich the dowel in between (in the respective holes) while your lovely assistant screws in the second post.  No wrestling to get the dowel in that way. We did not cut our holes all the way through the 2x2. Instead we made a notch that went about half-way through the post.

We started by measuring and cutting our vertical posts and all other boards were measured and cut as we went along.  Just keep checking the photos and you'll easily see where everything should go. Just make sure that your side rails are the same length (even if when you measure they're not) because it will square up the top once you have everything screwed in place.

Drill the pilot holes.  You can get the screws to go through the wood without them, but hubby did crack it in a couple spots on the 1x4's. Just suck it up and do it...

You'll notice in our photos that we used a piece of 2x2 for the lower rail on the center front. DO NOT DO THIS! As soon as we put Avery in the tower we realized that you need the 1x4 for both front rails so the kid can stand on the tower and not get hit in the knees. This will be remedied on our tower during the next nap-time.

And there you have it!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

DIY Bath Crayons Review

Avery is an active little toddler now so I'm always looking for new ways to entertain her.  She also REALLY enjoys bath time. As in, she starts running to the bathroom the second she hears the water running and tries to climb in while her clothes are still on.  So the other night we tried our hand at some homemade bath crayons. There are tons of "recipes" on the web.  (I found this one and several more through Pinterest.) They all are essentially the same thing...soap mixed with some sort of coloring. Some recipes will tell you to grate a bar of soap, melt the shreds, then mix in your colors and form the crayons freehand.  Not only does that take FOR-EV-ER it's a complete mess and you end up with ugly looking lumps for crayons. I went with the much easier option of using melt-and-pour soap base. I had a few chunks leftover from other projects so I used those. I didn't measure, but it was probably half to one ounce per crayon, but this will also vary depending on which molds you use and how deep you fill them. Almost all the blocks of soap base come with a pre-scored grid on top for easy cutting, just use one of those cubes once they're cut apart on the scoring line. Each one is roughly an ounce.

So I had my base picked out, but the coloring was where things could potentially be tricky.  Some sites suggested soap colorants, others suggested the liquid food coloring straight out of your pantry (the same stuff you use for frosting or dying easter eggs). Others still swore by the gel type of food coloring.  For each of these methods somebody had made a comment along the lines of "Don't use that!  It stained my kid/tub and I still can't get it off!" as well as the opposing "This didn't work at all! The colors never showed up on the wall. Don't waste your time!" posts. So, I'm going to share what I did and the results...

I chose to use liquid soap coloring. Just the basic stuff you can find at craft stores right next to the hunks of soap base. Mostly, because I had it already and I knew I was out of red food coloring. There wouldn't be much point in mixing materials, especially since I didn't even know if this would work, so that's what I went with. I also wanted to load up my soap with the color to make sure it showed up on the tub wall. For each crayon I mixed about one ounce of melted soap base (I used white since I thought the color would show better) with 20 to 30 drops of the liquid soap color. I started with 20 drops, mixed, and if I wanted something brighter or a slightly different shade I added the extra 10 drops. I made red (which was more of a raspberry pink because of the white base), blue, green, yellow, and orange. I used a mold similar to this one so they would be more crayon shaped.

Here's what I found when we used them:

  • The crayons worked better on a dry tub wall, especially when the crayons and the hands holding them were still dry too. They worked when wet, but instead of bright, bold colors, you got pastels.
  • Yellow is completely useless as a tub crayon color.  Wet or dry you can't see it and the crayon itself was so neon yellow it was disturbing, so I know there was enough coloring in the soap.
  • The more obnoxiously bright the crayon is, the better the color on the wall. Don't be shy in adding the soap color for fear of staining. (See below.) Our red crayon which had the most color (I was initially fighting against the pink shade we ended up with) showed up the best. Blue was next since it is a darker color, and then green which I also added extra color to.
  • Those suckers are slippery once you get them wet.  I had a hard time hanging onto them myself and it was significantly more difficult for Avery. She still had fun chasing them around the tub though, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  • They stain...sort of. It will color the water and you'll see the dye wherever your kid directly touches themselves with the crayon (Avery had an awesome set of blue highlights in her hair for a bit) but a quick rinse with water and it comes right off. I will say, we washed our wall before getting out of the tub so I have no idea how this would compare if we'd let it dry completely and tried to wash up later. It is also my belief that it is actually the soap that is dyed and not the object it's applied to, so I'd imagine if you still see color on the wall it's because there's still soap there.  Anything that removes soap scum should also clean up the color. I will also note that we have a traditional fiberglass tub surround and not tile/grout so I have no idea how those would be affected. As a comment stated in one of the various blogs I read before making these crayons, this might be a project that is fun to play with and then you take your bath. Cleanup is easy, but there will be color everywhere. That being said, I don't believe cutting back when coloring the soap will fix the issue. Instead you'll have bath crayons which won't show up on the wall, and that defeats the whole purpose.
  • I suspect this batch of crayons won't last long based on the soap base I used.  It was actually a cheap base leftover from a pre-made kit that I got for free, and not the soap base you'd purchase in a 1 or 5 pound block on it's own.  It was significantly softer than other bases I've used in the past.  Half the crayon had melted into the bath water and the outside of the crayon had a squishy texture by the time we were done. If you want them to last, use a better quality base. I also suspect the mold size/shape helped contribute to our texture issues.  When I make them again I'll use a different mold so they're fun chunky shapes.  Hopefully they'll last longer and will be easier for little hands to hold on to.
  • They are super fun!  Eventually it was time to get out of the tub and go to bed. Avery cried when I took her crayons away because she was having a blast. She has never done this with any other tub toy to date.  We definitely look forward to playing with them again.