DIY Halloween costume: Toddler Cleopatra

As a girl who went trick-or-treating every year while I was growing up, I really miss Halloween. That’s because Halloween is a non-event in the Netherlands. Though it’s gaining popularity, especially in cities like Amsterdam with large international communities, Halloween events are few and hard to find.

If you’re lucky enough to find a Halloween party, people rarely go all out to dress up. Remember my Angry Birds maternity Halloween costume? I wore that to an expat Halloween party where, like, four people wore something vaguely resembling a costume. Pfff.

When our babysitting coop announced a Halloween meetup, I decided to just go for it and make Tala a DIY Halloween costume. And why stop there when Mama and Papa could wear matching costumes too?

So, here’s a family Halloween costume idea that reflects the true power relationships in our family: Cleopatra and her slaves.

Cleopatra costume toddler and family

Because, truth is, in a household with a toddler, the toddler rules!

The idea started with Tala’s hair. I racked my brain for a fictional character with black hair and blunt bangs, who could come with a couple of matching characters. Then it hit me: Cleopatra.

Halloween costume inspiration Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

I must’ve spent hours poring over pictures of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. With 65 costume changes throughout this ruinously expensive 60s film, there was a lot of inspiration! Eventually I said, “Well, eff the first look, what mother on earth has time for that?!” and decided that Tala’s Cleopatra DIY Halloween costume would be inspired by elements from the second and third looks pictured here.

Here’s how it turned out.

Cleopatra DIY costume toddler

Gotta tip my hat to DIY bloggers here, because taking step-by-step pictures and a final, decent picture for a DIY blog post is hard. Believe me, I tried—and failed miserably.

Halloween costume Cleopatra toddler DIY

What I can do, however, is just give you a quick run-down of what I used and how I did it. Oh, and show you more pictures of Toddler Cleopatra, of course!

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Party DIY: Hand-lettered balloons

Did you see the hand-lettered balloon garland I made for Tala’s first birthday party? I wanted to write a separate post about this fun little DIY project because I enjoyed doing it so much.

DIY hand-lettered balloon garland

Aside from the balloon garland, I also hand-lettered individual balloons and floated them around the cafe. Tala is already used to hearing English, Filipino and Dutch, so I used a combination of fun party words from those three languages.

Hoera! Party balloons DIY handlettering

Hoera (pronounced hooh-rah) means hurray!

Leuk! Party balloons DIY handlettering

Leuk! is Dutch for nice, fun, or cool. The Dutch say it so often, in the beginning I was paranoid that people were being sarcastic with me.

Yehey! Party balloons DIY handlettering

We also had Super! Yay! and Yippee! And of course, I couldn’t leave out our very own Yehey!

This was so much fun for me. I’ve always loved hand lettering—just ask my high school classmates and look at my old textbooks. Plus, it’s easy! Anyone can do it and it doesn’t take much time. Here’s how to DIY your own hand-lettered party balloons.

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Hanging up the duyan

A while back, I blogged about my desire for a traditional Filipino duyanor hanging bassinet, for the baby. My mom presented me with one last Christmas, and after lots of plastic cling wrap and two plane rides, our duyan arrived safely in Amsterdam.

Plain rattan didn’t quite go with our baby room’s color scheme, so Marlon and I decided to give the traditional duyan a bit of a modern makeover. Inspired by the ombre trend, Marlon and I used leftover paint from our baby room bookshelves to create a gradient effect. We applied three shades of powdery pink, starting with the lightest shade then and blending them as we went along.

Ombre bassinet DIY

After revamping the duyan, we had to find a place for it. I wanted Tala to sleep in our room in the early months, but we didn’t have enough space to hang the duyan by the bed.

Since we had found a great deal on a second-hand Stokke Sleepi, Marlon and I decided to make that her main crib and install the duyan on the balcony instead. Luckily, our apartment’s previous owners used to hang a hammock on the balcony, and they’d left a few heavy-duty hooks in the ceiling. Marlon tapped into his inner Boy Scout to rig the rope and secure it with a few well-placed knots…

Tala sleeping in her duyan

… and voila! One fully functional duyan, ready for gentle breezes and sunny days.

With the arrival of a long-delayed spring, we’re finally getting to use the duyan. We had great sunny weather last weekend, so we put the mattress and beddings from her Stokke crib in it and put her down for a nap while we enjoyed our first al fresco lunch of the season.

Baby sleeping in duyan

So many of my baby essentials are from home. The makeshift sun shade is one of our dozens of bird’s eye cloth diapers from Landmark, and it’s secured with pastel bull clips from National Bookstore. This is a Filipino baby, after all!

Tala in her duyan

Now that we’ve managed to import and install a traditional Filipino duyan, I’d love to get more use out of it. If only it was as easy to bring over some Filipino sunshine!

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Adventures in babywearing

One of the highlights of my week was learning how to carry Tala in a wrap. Babywearing, the practice of carrying a baby on the body in a sling, wrap or carrier, was something I really wanted to try.

While I was pregnant, I made my own DIY wrap inspired by the Moby Wrap. This popular brand-name wrap is basically a long piece of fabric that enables you to carry the baby close to your body, distributing weight over your back and freeing up your arms.

Making my own wrap was as simple as buying five meters of cotton jersey for €3 per meter. I didn’t even need to hem or serge it because this type of fabric doesn’t unravel. A slightly stretchy fabric like cotton jersey is suitable for wrapping newborns up to about 15 lbs; after that, more supportive fabrics like linen or cotton are recommended.

After a few false starts and many Youtube videos (this tutorial was the one that finally did it for me), I finally succeeded in putting Tala in a wrap. From then on, life with our newborn just got easier.

DIY stretchy sling for newborn

There are lots of reasons to try—and love—babywearing. According to this article, babies worn in a sling or carrier fuss less—apparently, 43 percent less than babies who aren’t.

At this age, Tala can’t handle too much stimulation; facing inwards against me, she’s less likely to be overstimulated by the outside world. Instead, she’s comforted by things she knows: the sound of my heartbeat, the smell of my skin, the closeness of my body.

She can sleep for hours this way, and sleep can only be a good thing for both mother and baby. She’ll even sleep past feeding time, only waking up for a feed if I take her out of the wrap. Bonus: she doesn’t wake up ready to attack the boob like a ravenous barracuda. That’s happened before and believe me, it’s not my favorite thing.

After nearly three weeks of having my arms full, it’s awesome to use my arms again. I’ve vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, blogged, put on makeup, even cooked and ate meals, all while wearing Tala. Okay, I did have to pick rice out of her hair a few times. But she never seems to mind… she’s always conked out, asleep!

Finally, I just love to have her this close to me—”close enough to kiss” is the rule of thumb for front carrying. To me, it’s the closest thing to being pregnant again. It’s instinctive and natural, to be able to go about my day without having to think about how to take care of her.

Mommy and Daddy babywearing stretchy sling

As for Daddy… well, Marlon loves it! I think he was sold when using the sling gave him a few precious hours to catch up on UFC and wrestling after dinner one evening. He says we’ll keep her in it until she’s 15.

So far, I’ve only used the wrap at home. My next babywearing adventure will be stepping out with Tala in it, and getting things done in the world beyond our door. Stay tuned!

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Before & after: Ikea Brimnes bed

Moving into a smaller apartment with less closet space, Marlon and I agreed that under-bed storage was a must. We looked at a couple of (mostly expensive) options until we settled on the affordable Ikea Brimnes bed, which has clean lines and huge drawers underneath.Ikea Brimnes bed with storage

Because our bedroom has limited space, we also bought the Brimnes headboard, which features a ledge and hidden shelving that we could use in place of bedside tables. Ikea Brimnes headboard

Confession: I wasn’t totally onboard with this purchase. I agreed the storage was practical, but I had an irrational, possibly hormonally-fueled distaste for those two rectangles on the headboard and footboard. “Can we please do something to cover them up?” I grumbled as we paid for our purchases at Ikea. “Okay,” Marlon said. Smart man—never disagree with a pregnant woman.

With Little Mango on the way, neither Marlon and I were in the mood for elaborate DIYs. Our solution? Wallpaper!

Piet Hein Eek headboard

Check out our quick fix and finishing touches, after the jump!

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