How I Survived a 20 Hour Flight With a Toddler


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So it’s been about a month since we got back from our holiday trip to Singapore. For those of you who didn’t know, I was born and raised in Singapore, with most of my immediate family still living there. Singapore is an awesome place to live and grow up in – it’s perpetually summer, the streets are safe, and the people are kind.

OH, but it’s a 20 hour flight away. MINUS TRANIST TIME. From Los Angeles, there is a layover in Narita, Japan, and that’s another 2 hours. So in total, From LAX – NRT it’s 11.5 hours, and from NRT to SGP it’s 8-ish hours. With the 2 hour transit, and the 3 hours you’re at the airport before check in….if any one is keeping count, that’s more than 24 hours, door to door. With a toddler.

And Olive, our little love, slept only four hours the entire time, each way.

Here is what I learned taking this crazy long journey with a toddler – and I’m hoping these tips will help you better prepare for your international travels.

BEFORE THE FLIGHT:

We had our flights booked in February for our December flight – and even then, we couldn’t get the bulkhead seats that I had hoped for. Airlines usually reserve the bulkhead seats for families who fly with infants and lap children who require bassinets, and they probably won’t release those seats until much closer to the flight. If you’re really set on getting these bulkhead seats (with more legroom, and also more room for your toddler to stand and stretch her legs), start calling the reservation desk about a month before you fly, and see if you can get your seats changed – and if they say no, tell them to make a note on your file. I did this every week for the entire month before the flight and was finally given those seats on the day of, at check in. Be nice to the people on the phone, moms – kindness gets you farther than being frustrated…aren’t you more inclined to help someone who is nice to you?  Something I didn’t know: If you want your seat arm-rests to lift up, bulkhead seats will not do this, so choose wisely! I didn’t know this before our flight and might have decided differently, because Olive had such a hard time sleeping because she couldn’t lie flat. 

In terms of entertainment for Olive, I had prepared so many toys for her, but the ones that proved the most popular were the iPad, loaded with her favorite cartoons and apps, gel window clings and a reusable silicone coloring mat.

Toys-for-FlightShop this picture, here:

     

DURING THE FLIGHT:

With an international flight this long, you’re going to have to spend a long time entertaining your toddler. We are lucky enough that Olive is old enough to be able to sit and watch a couple of episodes of her favorite cartoon without fussing, but that still left me 18 hours of the flight to figure out. With the advice of many blogger moms, I bought lots of new, compact toys and let her open one every few hours when she was getting restless. And i packed a lot – a whole suitcase was designated just for her and her knick knacks. Another trick I learned what to pack a few of her favorite snacks, and a couple of “Hail Mary” snacks as well: those snacks that you’d usually never let her have – but will make her happy in an instant. (Save these for the complete meltdowns!)

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SLEEP:

This is the thing I was the most worried about with such a long journey – and to be honest, I was right to be worried – Olive slept all of 4 hours on this flight. I did everything like I was advised – I stuck to the same bedtime routine and read her stories, put her in her PJs, so she knew it was time to sleep. The problem was that she just couldn’t get comfortable. And even when she was so tired and fell finally fell asleep, because she couldn’t lie flat, she woke up every 45 minutes, which was at the end of every sleep cycle.  And we would just repeat the same sleep-wake-cry cycle a few times. It was rough, but we made it through. One thing that really helped was my husband and I took turns sleeping; and while it was only for a couple of hours at a time, every little bit helped so that none of us were at the end of our ropes too soon. Also, sleep when your child is sleeping – forget about watching that in-flight movie, mama; it’s time to rest up.

I hope this post helped you even just a little – I’ve also put together a quick checklist for what to pack in our carry on suitcase, in case you were interested.

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If you’re taking a really long international flight soon, I want to tell you that it’s not going to be as bad as you think it is. No, it’s not going to be fun, but it will be over soon enough – and the memories you’ll make by taking this trip will be all worth it, I promise. Just remember – forget about discipline during this flight, the trick is to keep the little munchkin happy. You’ll be happier too. Safe Travels!

PS – If you’re worried about Toddler Jetlag, check out this post which totally worked for me!
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How To Create an Kid Friendly Emergency Bag


Emergency-Preparedness

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this article for Big City Moms, and thought that it would be important to share it here, too.

This is something that we’ve probably all thought about, but if you’re like me, you keep putting it off because there are a million other things to do right now. We’re not exactly thinking about impending natural disasters every day!

I don’t blame you, mama, we’re so busy.

But Emergency Preparedness is important, and it’s vital that you think about what you might need in the off chance that something bad does happen. Together with my husband, we’ve prepared a “Go-Bag” – a bag containing the essentials that we can just grab and run out the door, and without a second thought.

Olive just turned two, so this bag is what we currently need. These links are shop-able at the bottom of the post, in case you want to quick shop your own:

01: First Aid Kit – I bought this already assembled at the store, and it comes complete with medicine, ointments and bandages.

02: Stormproof / Strike Anywhere Matches – In case you need to light a fire, in a hurry

03: Flashlight – Because it’s easier to find things while you’re not groping around in the dark.

04: One set of Spare Clothes for Everyone – Take into account the weather where you live!

05: Emergency Thermal Blanket – These super lightweight and space saving blankets will keep you warm in a pinch.

06: Spare Batteries – For the devices you might bring (such as your flashlight)

07: Copies Of Important Documents – We made photocopies of our drivers licenses and passports and put them in the bag.

08: Whistle – For attracting attention/help.

09: Diapers and Wipes – If your child is still in diapers, this is something you might not want to forget!

10: Cash

11: Small Tools – Just in case!

12: Canned Food/Energy Food – I know that SPAM and granola bars aren’t the healthiest or most appetizing, but in an emergency, they give you much needed energy and last a long time. If your child is an infant, pack some infant formula!

13: Water Purification System – These small drops or tablets take up so little space in the bag, and yet will create drinkable water for you, in case there is none.

When you’ve assembled your Go Bag, make sure the people in your home know where they can find it, and be sure to go back to it every few months as your child grows, and as their needs change. And when you have a moment, sit down with your family to go over what you might do in case of an emergency – who makes sure the kids are alright? And what should you do if you get separated? It might be a lot to discuss at the moment, but it’s better than not having a plan when disaster does strike.

Are there other things you would include in your Go Bag?

Shop them here (First Aid Kit, Stormproof Matches, Emergency Thermal Blanket, Whistle, Small Tool Kit and Water Purification Tablets) :

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Weekend Warriors


Weekend-WarriorsHow was your weekend?

We’ve been kind of taken down over here by the flu/cold. I swear, I don’t really know what it is. My pediatrician says that Olive is too chipper for it to be a flu – but man, the high fever and rivers of mucous really tell me another story. And true to form, both Mommy and Daddy are on the cusp of getting sick.

People tell me often that as your kid gets older, they just get sick more often. Between making more friends, and starting school, and sucking thumbs (sigh, I really need to break her of that habit, help), once you get over one illness, you’re probably just going to catch something else. That sounds fun, right?

I hope you guys are staying healthy this flu season – and if I see you around and I don’t say hi…it’s because I want to keep you guys from my germy germs.

Any tips for helping toddlers get over the cold quickly? I’m all ears.

 

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Ask the Professional: How To Help Your Kid Beat Jet Lag


I am so stoked to introduce the first new series of the year here on My Baby Olive Juice.

This series, called “Ask the Professional” is where I reach out to awesome people who are specialists in their field, and basically bombard them with questions that I feel like you might need help with. I for sure needed help with these questions. Just passing on the gold, people.

We recently returned home from an extensive trip in Asia. It was awesome, but coming home and dealing with Olive’s jet lag (while trying to fix my own) was really, really difficult. The 2nd night we were back she decided that she wanted to start her day at 2am. TWO AM. Jody circa 2002 would have still been out clubbing.

I reached out to Natalie for some guidance, and she was able to help us quickly – within 2 days, Olive was back to waking up at 8am!

Let me pass this over to Natalie now, who is going to share some of her wisdom; particularly for you mamas who are traveling to and from Asia and the United States:

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Dealing with Jet Lag and Kids – Asia Edition

Lots of my clients are international travelers, and Asia is high on their must-see list. They may be going to visit family or just to see that incredible part of the world with their kiddos. I am often asked about how to prepare a child sleep-wise for a trip to Asia…And then I often console and counsel the same frustrated and exhausted parent when they finally come back to the US.

Here are some tips on dealing with your childs’ jet lag on both legs – flying there, then coming home:

Flying East:

Understandably parents are extremely worried about how their little one is going to deal with the massive change of 12-16 hours. Thankfully parents, you need not fear! This leg of the trip tends to be the easiest on kids. Not only do they arrive exhausted from their flight (and associated lack of sleep), but this type of trip usually means a lot of extended family visits and excursions to tire them out.

1. Arrival in Asia – Day One: Try to keep your child awake as much as humanly possible until 6 or 7 pm local time

The hope is your kiddo will go to sleep easily since they’re tired from the flight and from not being allowed to nap to much that day. Also, it will feel like the middle of the night for them, so while they may go to sleep easily, they’ll almost certainly wake up 4-6 hours later feeling ready to start the day. On night one I’d suggest getting up with your baby, hanging out with them for a few hours – you’ll feel like getting up, too, since your body will think it’s the morning – and then as soon as you see a yawn, put them back down and hope they sleep through for a few more hours, bringing you to morning local time. 

2. Day Two: Do not allow your child to nap more than 2 hours total if they’re down to one nap, or more than 3 hours total if they’re still take multiple naps. 

They will want to sleep more than anything else during the day, but do not let them. Again, once they hit 7 pm local time they will be ready for sleep and they’ll likely sleep a bit longer that night, maybe not through to 7 am local time, but more like 3 or 4 am. When they wake, get them up for a while, but try to keep them in as little light as possible, then put them down again when they show sleepy signs. 

3. Make sure you wake them up no later than 7 or 8 am local time to start their day.

Try to get them to stay awake as much as possible between the hours of 6/7 am and 6/7 pm so that their brain will want to sleep between the hours of 6/7 pm and 6/7 am. 

4. Lots of sun exposure.

The sun is responsible for regulating not only your Circadian rhythm (what causes a person to sleep long periods at night and be awake long periods during the day), but also your melatonin output. The more direct the sun exposure, especially early in the day, the faster your baby will get back on the correct time zone!!

All these points above will help your child adjust to local time within a few days, tops! 

Flying West

Here’s where the real party begins. And when I say party, I mean all night “Party at my crib at 2 am,” where “crib” is a physical crib, not an early 2000’s MTV reality show.

What you may find is that once you get back to the States your little one tries to wake up to start the day in the middle of the night, between 12 am and 3 am. Again, to them 3 am may feel more like dinner time in Asia, so their tummies might be waking them up. 

1. The first night home, I recommend that you simply allow your child to get up and start the day at whatever time they wish, even if it’s 3 am.

2. During the day, limit daytime sleep, and to start their naps to start as close to their scheduled times as possible. 

If your baby normally naps at 9 am and 1 am, then do everything you can to not put them down for a nap before 9 am, even if they woke up to start the day at 4:30 am. If your toddler normally naps at 1 pm, then try to put them down as close to 1 pm as possible. Keep in mind that this can still be a somewhat gradual process. On day 1 or 2, perhaps the closest you can get to putting them down at their scheduled nap times is within 2 hours of when they’re supposed to start. Remember, daytime nap limits apply – 3 hours for nappers who nap more than once a day and 2 hours for nappers who nap only once each day. Enforce these nap time limits. Your little one will want to sleep more during the day – do not allow them to do so.

3. Push bedtime to occur no earlier than about 6 or 6:30 pm regardless of how naps went that day.

You don’t want to allow your child to enter nighttime sleep until as close to a typical bedtime as possible.  If you allow them to go to bed earlier, say around 5 pm, you are going to cause them to wake and want to start their day about 12 hours later.  Since we want them to wake at 6 or after to start their day, bedtime needs to happen no earlier than 12 hours before your desired morning wake up time.

A Final Note: To Parents Who Have Sleep Trained Before This Trip:

If you’re a mama (or papa) that has done some sleep training in the past, and/or your kiddo is accustomed to hanging out on their own a bit in the morning before you go to them, then I’d also suggest starting each day an hour later than the previous day. If your baby wakes to start their day at 3 am the first night your back, make sure that the next night you don’t set foot in their room until 4 am, even if they’re awake at 3 am. The next morning, go in at 5 am but not earlier, and on and on until you’ve hit your desired wake time.

Regardless of whether you are the one to determine the start of the day or the baby is, by putting them down for bedtime around 6 or 7 pm local time and by making sure their naps don’t start until their scheduled times and don’t last more than the limits outlined above, baby should be back to their normal schedule in no time at all.

 

Thanks Natalie!

 

PS – I also sleep trained Olive with Natalie’s services when Olive was an infant, and Olive has been a tremendously great sleeper ever since! Find more about Natalie right here.

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Twin Baby Shower featured on 100 Layer Cakelet


I’ve been waiting to share this one with you guys, like, forever.

I’m so thrilled that the Twin baby shower that I designed, planned and hosted for my friend Melissa was picked up by one of my favorite blogs, 100 Layer Cakelet.

I hosted the shower in my home – and wanted to keep the theme pretty gender neutral. Melissa and her husband Gary have a modern, simple aesthetic, and I wanted to make sure that their shower embodied that at as well.  I wanted to keep it clean and bright – so I decided on a yellow and grey color scheme with minimalistic decor.

I was able to score a copy of her recent family photoshoot by Sadaf Murad Photo to put up on my wall with washi tape. I also handmade all the tassels and put them up in the backyard as garlands, attached them to grey paper lanterns and added them to the photo wall.

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I also had the envelopes for the invites hand calligraphed by the talented Elaine of Papermade Design.MyBabyOliveJuiceTsaiShowerInvites

The beautiful cake was made by our talented friend, Sheila – who believe it or not, doesn’t do this for a living. MyBabyOliveJuiceBabyShowerFavorsandCake

 

I also have a chalkboard wall in my dining room – so I hand lettered the background with yellow and white chalk. MyBabyOliveJuiceBabyShowerCakeDisplaySince this was a kid friendly baby shower, I made sure that we had a few activities to keep the kiddos occupied:

We had a temporary tattoo and face painting station, a Guess-The-Jellybeans station, and a place to leave notes for the couple to read when they felt overwhelmed…

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In terms of food – we had a little bagel bar complete with schmear, fruit and condiments. We also catered some pasta and quiche. I used kraft paper to wrap my kitchen counter and hand lettered the menu right on it! A bonus was that clean up was really, really simple.

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I am so honored to have been able to do this for Melissa and her family – she has since had her twin baby boys (they are honestly the cutest I’ve ever seen!) and they are doing really well. Here she is with her amazing little boy, who is now a big brother times two!

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Photo Credit: The one and only, Mishina Photo – Thank you Michelle for capturing this day so beautifully! You are incredible.

To see the feature on 100 Layer Cakelet, please click here.
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Giving Her the Best Shot Possible


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So Olive turned two a couple of months back. Ladies and Gents, I now have a tiny-adult running around my house. She has a sense of humor, strong preferences, and a huge vocabulary that still shocks me, everyday. Just a few days ago, Olive said, “Hey mama, I want to put the cheese on the rice, then eat it – okay? Not the veggie, not the milk, ok? Thank you!” I’m not sure when you started negotiating with me, young lady, but aren’t we a bit young for that?

With this surge in cognitive development, she’s also shown distinct affinities for certain activities over others . Olive is obsessed with music – and everything about it. She loves playing all instruments, is able to keep rhythm, sing over 30+ songs from memory, and she has just started to make up her own songs about her dolls. She has such an emotional connection with music, it’s fascinating – she once cried tiny tears because she felt that the song was sad. Really? Who is this kid?

So here I am, at 11pm at night, debating if I should put her in a music class. You know, to ‘harness’ or ‘nurture’ her love of music. I figure, if she has a natural ability for music, why not give her the opportunity to learn from others? Perhaps she’ll find so much joy in it, that she’ll find her calling. But on the other hand – instead of trying to nurture aspects that I know she has a talent for, shouldn’t I be putting her in classes for things she isn’t so great at, instead? For instance – physical stuff. Olive still has a lot of trepidation when she is approached with things like stairs or obstacles, and still really needs me to hold her hand. Should I not be putting her in classes like swimming, or gymnastics, or sports instead?

I don’t have the budget, nor the heart, to put her in every single class – but my goal here is to help Olive realize her potential, and to give her the best shot at life as possible. Because isn’t that what we’re all trying to do for our kids?

What would you do here? Would you focus on her strengths, or try to build up her weaker points? Any opinions here?

Happy Monday, everyone.

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Currently Totally Obsessed With…


Mad-For-Marsala

Did you know that Pantone picks a “color of the year” annually? I am currently loving their pick for 2015 – Marsala. It’s deep, warm, and sophisticated – and it’s not as flashy as plain red. Here are a few of my favorite Marsala colored picks from around the web, and ways you can incorporate a little of this color into your life.

To read more about Pantone’s Color of the Year, click here

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06

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Hello 2015!


Hello!

Holy cow, the holidays are officially over. We’re currently still on vacation mode over here (and trying to beat some insane, insane jetlag), but I wanted to share some pictures with you before we’re back to regularly scheduled blogging. We’ve had a lot of fun (and some bumps in the road – Olive is currently recovering from some crazy, viral stomach flu she caught a few days ago…) and I can’t wait to tell you more soon – specifically on how we survived the 19 HOUR flight with our toddler!

Here are some highlights so far….

We managed to not break down during our 19 hour journey…where Olive only slept for FOUR of those 19 hours…EACH WAY. I know. I wanted to cry.

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We caught up with my brother, John, and my father – both of whom had not seen Olive in about 1.5 years.SINGAPORE4

We were spoiled with an abundance of awesome food this trip…. SINGAPORE-1

And ushered in the New Year at my mom’s house with family and friends. We also had a little Sing-Off, and as you can tell, Patrick had quite enough…..SINGAPORE5

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Back with more, soon – but in the meantime, I hope everyone is having a great New Year so far!

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Happy Holidays, from My Baby Olive Juice


What a year!

I am stunned at how quickly 2014 has passed us by. This year has been super exciting for me – Olive has quickly grown up to be a sweet, loving toddler who challenges me everyday. My Baby Olive Juice Blog and my calligraphy has also blessed me with opportunities to collaborate with likeminded mothers and creatives alike.

As 2014 comes to a close, I want to set out my intent for the new year. I wanted to find something – a motto – to live by, a phrase that I can apply to all aspects of my life.

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I hope to Be Fearless in 2015. I want to be a fearless mother – to parent in ways that are out of my comfort zone such as to give Olive a rich childhood. I want to Be Fearless in both my personal and professional creative projects, to not hesitate or doubt myself when I think I might have a good idea. I also want to Be Fearless in my marriage – to love hard, and to communicate harder.

I made these wallpapers for myself as a little reminder, and wanted to share them with you here, again, as a free digital download.

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I created two colorways this time – one with a blue, watercolor wash, and the other is a cool, black and white version of the same. There is one for your desktop, and one for your phone, too.

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To download the Watercolor Version, click here (Phone) and here (Desktop)

To download the Black and White version, click here (Phone) and here (Desktop)

I am so excited about our lineup for My Baby Olive Juice in 2015 – we have some fun things coming up, including more giveaways and a really awesome series on motherhood that is really close to my heart. I can’t wait for you to see it!

Do you have any goals for 2015? Any phrase you want to live by, this upcoming year? Do share, I’d love to hear.

This post is going to be the last for 2014 – I’m taking a little blog break to spend quality time with loved ones this season! Thank you for being here, friends, I hope you have a wonderful holiday…I’ll see you in January!

With love,

 

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The D.I.Y No Sew Tee-Pee : A How – To


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A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided that Olive needed a Tee-Pee.

“Needed” a Tee-Pee.

We searched the internet for one that we could buy, but I guess we were feeling ambitious, and decided that we wanted to make one for her, instead. We found a couple of tutorials online for No Sew Teepees (because generally, I just didn’t feel like bringing out my sewing machine) but things quickly started to go south when we attempted to follow the instructions. So, we had to improvise.

Below I’m going to go over the materials we used, what we did, and how we did it. I’m not going to lie – it was time consuming and tedious. And a lot of the time, there was no method to this madness. There were several moments during this project when I looked over at Patrick and said “We really should have just bought one online, instead.” And you know, he might have agreed. But after all is said and done…… we kind of adore what we created for her. Because I know that there is no other one like it out there.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: A ROUGH GUIDE

  1. Two people (at least for the beginning of this project)
  2. Long, Wood Pieces (We used 4 of them, about 8 ft tall ones) to create the bones of the Teepee
  3. Fabric – I went to the store and bought several yards of patterns I liked. I also used this project to purge some of my older scraps of fabric too. I say, the more patterns, the more fun!
  4. Hot Glue. A lot, a lot, a lot of hot glue.
  5. A Drill
  6. Rope
  7. Staple Gun
  8. So Much Patience
  9. A Bottle Of Wine (for yourself to drink, duh)

Step 1:

Drill a hole in the center and about 1 foot down from the top of each wooden piece. When that’s done, start to position the bones of the teepee and how large and tall you’d like the finished product to be. When you like what you see, start stringing the rope through the holes you drilled to secure their positions. Then wrap the rope multiple times around all the poles to get them to stay securely.

Step 2:

Start cutting up your strips of fabric. You will need them to be different lengths (because the base of the teepee gets larger as you work your way down) but I used all the same width (we made them all about 8 inches wide)

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Step 3:

Start wrapping! The top few fabric pieces are easy – just start wrapping your fabric around the wooden beams, leaving some of the top exposed. Use hot glue to secure the ends. When you get farther down the teepee (I’d say at about a foot down), you’re going to have to start ‘weaving’ and wrapping your fabric in and out of the poles. This also creates some tension so the legs of the teepee don’t collapse. Alternate the weaving process – if you wrapped poles 1 and 3 with this first fabric, make sure you wrap poles 2 and 4 on your next fabric. Secure all ends with lots of hot glue. Do this until you get to the bottom of your teepee.

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Step 4: To create a “door” for your teepee, just measure the how long you want the door to be against the leg of the teepee,  and cut that length DIAGONALLY in your fabric (so you end up with a triangle of fabric). The length you measured gets staple gunned on the inside of the wooden beam. Repeat for other side of the door.

Step 5: To add a little more decoration, I tied more rope on the top of the teepee.

Step 6: Drink your wine, go to sleep….you’re done!
Teepee1Some Tips: While you’re wrapping this teepee, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. It’s not supposed to be – it’s supposed to be rustic and original. Also, you can go back with the hot glue gun and glue fabric together if things aren’t as taught as you like them. We preferred the loose look for a more relaxed, bohemian looking teepee.

In total, this took us about 5hours and 30 minutes in total with two adults and a bottle of wine. Of course, you can spread this project out over the weekend, but if you have a small space like we do, it’s best to just get it over with at one go, and clean up too, so the baby doesn’t get into the glue!

Do you think you’ll give this a go?

 

 

 

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