“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Are you a sweetie heart, Zoe?”
“Mom! Dad! Is you know what?! Zoe’s a sweetie heart! She just said so!”
June 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm (Activities for Preschoolers, Life with Eli, Show 'N' Tell)
Tags: crafting with children, crafting with kids, crafts, creating community, friends, park days, preschool activities
I was recently inspired by this post from Housing a Forest to invite a group of Eli’s friends from preschool for a Saturday morning craft day in the park.
After an extended free play time on the play ground we all gathered around a picnic table. I was curious to see how Eli would take to doing a project with other children in an informal setting. We are on the cusp of beginning our Adventures in Homeschooling and when we do our lives will (hopefully) be full of learning activities such as this.
We had a blast!
I prepared the materials ahead of time… it really wasn’t much. I only had to buy the yarn and the googley eyes as I had the rest of the materials on hand. The neat thing is that it costs the same to do an activity like this with ten kids as to do it with one as for one either way you have to buy the entire package of each supply item needed.
The boys wrapped yarn around the bee bodies…
cut out and glued on the wings…
added the eyes…
sticks and stingers.
I love how each bee has a distinct personality and how there is no wrong way to assemble this craft!
I hope we will enjoy more park days such as this in the near future.
April 29, 2014 at 6:19 pm (Activities for Toddlers, Recipes, Show 'N' Tell)
Tags: Art supplies, budget art supplies, children's art activity, diy, non-toxic paint, paint, painting, Pinterest Challenge
I recently saw this on Facebook, and later found it on Pinterest. Perhaps you’ve seen it too.
I love the idea of being able to inexpensively supply my kids with art supplies, and my son loves to mix, cook and experiment so this was an activity that HAD to happen.
We mixed up a full batch, waiting to mix in the food colors until we had divided it into four different containers.
We found that the paint was super gritty, and additional stirring didn’t seem to help.
I took the kids outside to paint on some cardboard…
And a tree…
and my sensory-seeking son couldn’t resist the urge to go all out with the body paint.
And while it was good, messy, non-toxic fun, the paint really didn’t adhere very well to much of anything, remaining grainy and pasty.
After giving the kids a good bath I began to wonder if perhaps cooking the paint might make it smoother. After all, play dough has a quite a bit of salt in it but isn’t gritty.
So back to the kitchen for a quick half-batch to test out my theory…
I found that when cooking it the ratio of water to the other ingredients goes way up. Sorry, I didn’t measure; I just kept adding water as the mixture kept clumping and coming together like play dough.
It felt like the salt was dissolving but I had a lumpy mess, so I put it in the Magic Bullet with some additional water.
The result? A nice smooth white paint base.
Mix in the colors…
and give it a try on Eli’s easel paper.
Two thumbs up!
Next time I will use more food colors for darker paints. I learned long ago when working in a preschool to mix dish soap in with kids paint. It helps any accidents to wash out of clothing better.
So while I really like the idea of using old ketchup bottles to store this paint, the original post won’t give you a paint worth storing. With added water, cooking and blending though you can get a paint that will save you money on your kids’ art supplies.
Long time Folk Haven readers may remember this post from almost two years ago where I shared a llama rag doll I was inspired to make for Eli. I created the pattern based on illustrations in Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series of books. The main character in the stories has as little rag doll llama that is seen on nearly every page, but never mentioned. Eli has always loved his llama doll and Zoe now loves it as well.
Recently, on a whim, I posted a photo of it on a local Mom-to-Mom sales page on Facebook to see if there would be any other mothers interested in buying a llama doll for their kids. I posted my question at 10 pm and when I checked Facebook again at 6 the next morning I had 14 people wanting to place orders!
So, lately any free time I can get has been dedicated to llama creation! As is almost always the case with my sewing, I use repurposed materials for these little llamas. I love the thought of pieces of fabric from well-loved clothing finding a new life as part of a snuggly children’s toy. I also am enjoying how each of the little llamas has a very distinct personality… truly there are no two alike! I can make only about 1 a week so it is taking a while to fill the existing orders. In addition people have contacted me about creating other sorts of critters and literary lovies for them. My next pattern to draft will be a pig inspired by Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Pig a Pancake. I also will be designing a horse (not so very different from a llama), an owl and an elephant.
If I can ever catch up with local orders I plan to put some of these in my Etsy shop, which has been sitting empty and gathering dust for a very long time. I have also created a Facebook page for Folk Haven Creations to have a place to post llamas as they are created and available for sale.
I haven’t done much sewing at all since well before Zoe was born, so I am enjoying this return to a bit of a creative outlet.
April 1, 2014 at 6:58 am (Letters to Zoe)
Tags: developmental milestones, Family, first birthday, Infant, letter to Zoe, letters to littles, Parenthood, parenting, speech and language development, toddler
Ah, my dear, dear, Zoe,
Where do I even begin? I have not done the best job of chronicling your babyhood thus far. I began writing letters to Eli when he was 18 months old, and I always wished that I had begun right at the beginning. Then I got a second chance, with you. And you know what? I hadn’t figured in how overwhelmed this mama gets during that first year, especially since this mama births babies who don’t sleep. So, please know, I’m doing my best, and a lack of a well documented babyhood is in no way related to any lack of love, because of that, my girl, you have plenty!
Inasmuch as I haven’t written an update for you since you were (ahem) 3 1/2 months old, I have a digital mountain of a backlog of photos. This letter may be a bit lengthy, so settle in, get comfy and enjoy. As most people at one time or another wonder what they were like as a baby, here is a bit of a description of the unique joy that is you…
You are a baby on the go! You combat-crawled at 4 1/2 months, crawled by 6, walked pushing things in front of you (including your brother in a wagon, no picture as I was too busy hovering to catch you before your noggin hit the sidewalk), and walked alone by 9 1/2 months. If there is one thing you are, it is driven!
While you are way ahead of the game in the gross motor department there are other areas where you have not been progressing quite on schedule. You have sensory processing issues which affect you in different ways. One is that eating solid food has been a challenge for you. This means that you are a hungry baby, but being much too busy to really tank up during the day, you still nurse like a newborn at night. The best of nights you are only up 3 or 4 times. On so many others you want to nurse 10 or more times a night. Even so you have fallen by 50 percentile points on the weight charts so we are working with occupational therapists and your pediatrician to help you over this developmental speed bump. In the meantime you have one tired mama who is groggily stumbling through motherhood as best she can. The fact that it is a minor miracle to achieve any nap longer than 20 minutes for you doesn’t help matters much. For a baby who doesn’t eat or sleep much you sure have a LOT of energy!
As far as going to sleep, the only one who seems to be able to lull you into dreamland is your daddy. He dances you down to sleep pretty much every night. With me you will relax and nurse, then spring up again signing “all done” with all vigor as you flounce off the bed and out of the bedroom.
But your daddy… well, he has special powers and and as he moves and sings you just melt into his chest. He then often keeps you against him for a couple of hours so that I can get a bit of sleep. In response, you have developed daddy-attachment much earlier in life than you brother did.
Another area of development that was of concern was speech. Not that much is expected there at your age, but you weren’t producing the sorts of sounds in babbling that are necessary for speech later on. No, instead you spent the greater part of the past year squawking and screeching like a Pteranodon, supplying the perfect sound-track to Eli’s dinosaur phase. To be honest, we were a bit concerned that once you did begin to speak it would be with a voice like Edith Bunker’s, such were the raucous noises coming from our beautiful baby girl.
But then a few weeks ago something clicked for you, almost overnight. All of the sudden you began spouting a new word or two almost daily, either verbally or with sign language. At present count you have around 15 words and 16 signs. It’s so cute when you use a new word and Eli is the first to notice it. He gets so excited and proud of you! And your voice? Perfectly sweet with no trace grating notes of crone.
You graduated the Early Intervention Program you attended in Laguna Beach in February and are now attending ICEC’s intervention three-to-one program for older babies. You seem to really enjoy the time spent with the other babies, music, stories, developmental gym and activities. We carry over as many of the activities as we can here at home as well.
You and your brother have such a beautiful relationship. He loves to hug and kiss you, and now that you are a walking baby he likes to pick you up and lug you around. (You generally are not so thrilled with that last part.) You show him such tenderness as well. We were astounded when once when Eli was crying 9 month old you grabbed a tissue and went over to him and began to wipe his tears away! My prayer is that the two of you continue to have a close relationship as you move through childhood and into your adult lives. Eli is doing his part in making elaborate plans as to what kind of house and what kind of car the two of you will share “when Eli and Zoe grow up.”
You love to swing, and spin, and twirl. I’m sure that when you are but a little bit older you will want skirts that flair and get all billowy when you spin about, and you will be spinning about constantly.
The first time I put you in a swing it was on an impulse as we were already at a park with Eli. How I wish I’d been prepared to video the experience. You shrieked with glee so loud that I think people blocks away must have heard you! And this from a baby who usually maintains a poker face when out in public.
About that… with us you laugh and smile and are full of mischief. But I’ve learned not to try to show you off. You don’t warm up very quickly to strangers, and have even taken your sweet time with extended family who love you to bits. We have yet to reach a point where you can be left in the care of others. The most you have lasted in the church nursery is 15 minutes, and that was just this past Sunday! But you are making progress.
It was the sweetest thing when at your birthday party you not only let Uncle Joey hold you, but you let him walk away with you in his arms for a full 40 minutes! Sweet Zoe, you will find that this world is full of people who love you, and that number will only continue to grow as you grow and your daily activities expose you to ever widening circles. How could they not? You are altogether lovely.
In February we had dedicated you to the Lord in church. It was a very simple, short and beautiful affair. I was kicking myself for forgetting the camera at home when Mary Hurlbutt told me she was all set to take photos for us. I just love how they turned out!
You are loving to imitate what you see others do these days. You try to feed your baby dolls with your sippy cup, and help your brother change their diapers. You like to pretend to talk on the phone…
…and you have a special relationship with each and every broom you encounter. (Eli did that too. What is it with babies and brooms?)
Out of all of the books on the book shelves in our bedroom you always choose this one…
You love to climb. I’m not loving this interest of yours quite as much as you are.
Last weekend I turned my back for probably 30 seconds to go fetch the stroller while we were at the Town Center fountain. You’ve always gone over the the first big step up to the fountain and been stopped as it comes up to your chest. I heard other mothers gasped and turned around to find you had scaled both it and the second step and were teetering precariously over the water as you joyfully slapped at it. Water happens to be another great love of yours; “agua” one of your very first words.
Your hair is really just starting to come in. I think your little bald noggin is quite cute, and I don’t mind not having to struggle yet to get it washed and combed yet.
Zoe, more than anything else I want you to know how loved and cherished you are. We are so enjoying experiencing the unfolding of your personality. You are a precious gift to our family, and one that we do not take for granted.
I love you so very, very, very much,
It has been so long since I have written you one of these letters. I hope I will be able to do so more frequently now, but no promises at this point. There have been times over the past year that I have wanted to sit down and capture a snapshot of adorable you for future-Eli but haven’t done so because I felt like if I did I’d need to also be able to keep up with monthly letters, and perhaps even with blogging in general again and that expectation just about paralyzed me.
But how silly is that. A letter is a letter. It is a small little gift from me to you, to be opened and enjoyed at some point in the far off future when this kind of thing may hold some meaning for you. And so I begin…
It amazes me that you ever had a speech delay, because now you talk. All.The.Time. I was told it would happen. I was warned the time would come when I would secretly wish for a quiet moment to string two of my own thoughts together. And while I confess to times when my introverted self does wish for a chance to recharge, you are a delight to listen to. When asked a question you never just answer… you give the complete backstory as well. “Eli, do you want strawberry or peach yogurt?” “Well, Mama, yesterday I had peach yogurt so today I’ll have strawberry yogurt, because that’s how I eat them… strawberry, peach, strawberry, peach… it’s a pattern.”
Your random observations and declarations are almost always somewhere on the continuum between amusing and down-right hilarious. I really need to start jotting them down as they happen because as much as I’ll be certain I could never forget one by evening I’m there scratching my head trying to recall it.
Whatever it is you are doing at the moment is usually in your mind the absolute best thing in the existence of the universe. Which is great as far as living in the moment, and being content with your present circumstances goes… but a bit challenging when it comes time to transition to another activity.
We do plenty of front-loading, give lots of warning ahead of time and occasionally use timers, and generally the transition happens without any tears being shed.
But the discussion…! “But why, Mama? Why can we not just stay here forever? Why can we not just live at the (Barnes & Noble, Bear Park, sidewalk outside of the closed and shuttered strip mall, etc.)?” Every time. Usually I employ logic such as not having our beds, refrigerator, toys, or comfy living room, until the day you countered with “But why then can we not live at Ikea?” I wonder how many people have ever gotten a pet, just so that they could convince their small child that they really did want to go home to see it at the end of the day?
Not that you don’t like being at home. When we are there and it is time to go out a whole different discussion takes place to convince you that going out to the park (or other location) is indeed something you will enjoy. You just like doing what ever it is you are doing at the moment.
While the last year has required an immense amount of adjustments on your part as you have had to learn to share me with a sibling, you have risen to the challenge phenomenally.
I may be more than a bit biased, but I think you must be about the best big brother on the face of the earth. You are so kind and sweet to Zoe. You are good about sharing toys with her and are delighted now that she is getting old enough and mobile enough to play around with you.
You watch her like a hawk for anything that might be dangerous to her. When she cries in the back seat of the car you have been overheard to say “Aww. It’s ok Zoe. You bwother’s here. I love you!”
You recently turned 4 years old. There is no toddler left… you are officially a little kid, no baby, just boy. You were so excited at your party. No wild-out-of-control-bouncing-off-the walls-excited. You held it inside, where it wreaked havoc on your digestive track. After dashing with you to the restroom at the park during the party I wondered if we should pack it all in and get you home. You responded with an emphatic “I’m NOT sick! It was a GOOD vomit!” And you were right. That night and the following day I continued to watch you for signs of illness but there were none.
You are attending preschool 5 days a week now.You have been learning so much. You now know you letters and their sounds, and are working on counting (after 13 you jump around all over the place… it’s pretty cute to listen to.) You love to tell me about what you learn at school when you get home, and I love to listen.
One of the most notable things about you right now is that you currently seem to be between obsessions. I don’t remember a time when you weren’t completely obsessed with something since you were barely more than a baby. There have been obsessions with musical instruments, airplanes, trains, garbage trucks, and most recently, construction equipment and dinosaurs.
You still like all of those things but there isn’t any one of them that completely consumes every waking moment of your mental life right now. You divide your free time between Play Doh (especially Play Doh Garbage Truck), playing restaurant or ice cream shop in your play kitchen, “cutting the lawn” outside with a doll stroller or wagon (anything stick-like becomes a weed-whacker), or playing doctor or construction worker with role play costumes and toys. You also love to do crafts… the messier the better.
You love to pull the whole family into your flights of fantasy. “Mom, you’re a Pteranodon, Daddy is a Tyrannosaurus, Zoe is a Gallimimus and I’m a Parasaurolophus. We’re the Dinosaur fambily!” So we hear the phrase “We’re a ____ fambily!” quite often. But yesterday at Barnes &Noble you were discussing the finer points of cupcakes versus cookies with your Daddy. He likes cookies better. You said “I like cookies too… because we’re just a cookie-loving fambily!” You have yet to learn about inside versus outside voice though, so all others in line with you were amused as well.
You never cease to delight and please us, my boy. Being your parent just keeps getting better and better.
I love you very, very, very much,
The other weekend we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days in a rented cabin on Palomar Mountain just outside of San Diego. We really didn’t do anything but hang out there until it was time to leave. Eli is the ultimate homebody and rather averse to transitions in general so even the suggestion of taking a walk to explore the neighborhood met with great disapproval. For us the path of least resistance was to take no path at all. (We did work in a short two block walk to the end of the road just before leaving.) It really was nice to have time to do nothing but sit, relax, make food, and watch the kids.
The desire to stay put was quite understandable when seen from his point of view.
After all there were birds to feed,
a 1932 Ford driven by a goose parked out front,
hollowed out trees to play in,
sisters to play with,
books to read (about construction sites, of course),
much dirt in which to play out all sorts of construction site fantasies,
and best of all his very own cat!
The cat was a stray whose owners had moved away and he had decided to find his way back to his old neighborhood. Not sure how long a journey that was for him but the owners of our rental were quite impressed and I guess it took the cat quite a while to complete the journey. For whatever reason I guess the original family is not interested in reclaiming him. Many were the discussions over the weekend about our adopting him. We are cat people through and through, Eli is asking often for a pet (or “rather 5 cats, and 5 dogs, and 5 cows…!”), and this particular cat was so friendly and gentle around small children. But in the end this is just not a good time for us to add a fur baby and the accompanying messes and expenses to the family. We were happy to hear at the end of our stay that the cabin owners had decided to officially adopting him.
“Rikana”, as Eli named the cat, was about as snuggly a cat as one could ever find. The appearance of a lap was an open invitation,
and I don’t know how many times I fished him out of Zoe’s excersaucer. No photos of that as Zoe was always in it at the time and sweet cuddler status and all I still dove quickly to separate them with images of a cat-slashed baby face flashing before my eyes. Thankfully, Rikana wasn’t phased a bit by having handfuls of fur removed by a drooling, squealing baby and was still in full purr mode as I removed him from Zoe’s elated grasp. I can be such a killjoy. We did let him stay cuddled up with Eli on the couch at night until it was time for us to go to bed as well.
For her part Zoe also very much enjoyed the weekend, but she seems to enjoy herself pretty much everywhere as long as she can get down and crawl about. She did take issue with the cabin’s soft carpeting for some reason, so most of her time out of arms or excersaucer consisted of us trying to keep her on the blanket on the deck.
I think I’ve mentioned here before that Eli loves to cook. I have long planned to sew him his own adorable apron. There are all kinds of tutorials and free patterns online (such as here and here), and I will one day get around to doing it. I may even make my first Spoonflower purchase to get a fun fabric of Eli’s choosing for it. But enough daydreaming of future projects.
Right at the moment not a lot of sewing is being done by me, and Eli really needed an apron, like 6 months ago, so I grabbed an old t-shirt from the recycling pile and a pair of scissors and within about 3 minutes an apron was born.
I can’t claim credit for this idea. I saw it on the cover of a magazine in Barnes and Noble while walking a fussy teething baby around the store in the Ergo. I’m sorry, but I now can’t remember which magazine it was. It’s a simple enough design. Basically this is cut out much like the No-Sew Bibs that I made a while back, except the entire length of the shirt front is used and a strip across the back is left attached to create the ties. Cut around the neck and down the front from the top, and up the sides from the bottom. Just below the the arms of the shirt leave a strip going straight across the back from one side to the other. This you will snip apart in the middle of the back to create your two ties. Since the knit fabric of a t-shirt won’t fray no sewing is needed.
An adult medium sized shirt is more than ample enough for a preschooler.
Thanks for reading!
Zoe’s hair is finally starting to come in. She now has a downy little five o’clock shadow over her adorable noggin. My neighbors are almost all hispanic and birth babies with heads full of gorgeous thick locks. One neighbor peered at Zoe this past weekend in passing and asked me why I had cut off her hair. I said I hadn’t. Oh, it fell out? Uh, no, it’s just starting to come in.
I told my husband about this amusing exchange this evening as I watched Eli play in the tub. After Jeff walked out of the bathroom, Eli said, “You know, Mom, everyone has to get their hair cut sometime.” I agreed that that was true and asked if he had noticed today that a neighbor child had gotten her hair cut. He had.
“You know, Mom, youneed to get your hair cut sometime.” Eyes averted, fiddling with his bath toy.
“Do you think I should get my hair cut short?”
“Daddy likes my hair long.”
“Oh.” Eyes still averted.
“Do you think I should get my hair in front cut short, but leave the back long?”
“Uh, yeah!” He finally looks at me, his eyes happy, hopeful.
Sigh… It’s not the first time he has asked me to get my hair cut in recent months. But this time I could tell that it is pretty important to him that I do so.
You see, I have wanted to have hair that was all long and that I could just braid back for many years, but each time I tried to grow out my bangs I could never get past the interminable awkward stage and would cut them again in frustration. Then I got pregnant again. And sick. So sick. For the first four months I did well just to get out of bed and wasn’t much seen by the public at large. That’s a great time to get a head start through a painfully awkward stage of hair growth. Pregnancy got a bit better, but with a couple of periods of bed rest and just being big and tired I still wasn’t seen much by the public at large, so I continued to let it grow.
And now, four months into my young daughter’s life, it is finally almost long enough to be caught back as I always wanted to do. I like having long hair, but I hate having to spend any time on it. I especially want to pull it out of the way of Zoe’s fingers or I may soon be almost as bald as she is.
But my son wants me to get it cut. I have to agree that I do think it looks better shorter. I’m just now a bit invested in the past year’s worth of growth, of finally getting beyond the stage where mirror experiences felt similar to those I had back in junior high, waiting for growth to bring things into proper proportions.
I told Jeff about my conversation with Eli. He said that perhaps Eli is prophetic, perhaps it is really the voice of God. So I guess I really do look better with bangs. In the eyes of my family at the very least.
The Experiment is over. The bangs shall return very shortly.
I never knew when I decided to have children that within 3 years my son’s opinion would be influencing my personal style.