The Genesis of a New Obsession?

The other day I decided it was high time I get Eli involved in some painting activities. He has done a little bit of painting at school, but it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him. I picked up some chunky paint brushes and some watercolors in preparation.

I’m not sure how he did it, but he managed to reach way into the fenced off sewing are (a.k.a dining room) and snagged the brushes off of the ironing board where I had placed them when unloading the bag from the store.

I have no idea what happened to the watercolors. Perhaps we have an out-of-season leprechaun problem? I’m sure they will show up eventually as I bought two sets on separate shopping trips. In the meantime Eli was beside himself needing to paint RIGHT NOW!

Luckily, I had a set of acrylic poster paints in the house. I mixed a glob of green and another of blue into small dishes of water. Eli, paper and paint came together in his high chair.

He was entranced! I love the expression of serious focus and concentration he gets on his face while painting. You can tell this is serious work and not some frivolous game to him! We will have to work on the concept that a picture can be “done” while unused paint still remains. Either that or I just have to offer less paint for a while. When he had finished there was a beautiful but very sloshy lake of paint in the middle of his paper.

Another use for the abundance of D.A.R.E. shirts I’ve been blessed with.

The next morning my boy, who normally will sleep at least until 8 a.m. and often until 9:30 if we don’t have anywhere to go in the morning, was up at 5:30! He cut his wake-up nursing session drastically short (which NEVER happens) and grabbed his paint brushes. He made it clear that it was imperative he get started immediately, and no time to waste!

I gave him back the dried painting from the day before and some yellow paint. This time I didn’t thin the paint and I gave him one of my thinner paintbrushes. Once again  he worked away with incredible focus and concentration. (This is the child who could not sit down for more than 30 seconds ever or remain with one activity longer than 2 minutes just 6 months ago!)

 

I’m thrilled Eli loves painting. Fine Art was my major in college. After much dabbling in many different mediums I focused on painting for my senior show. I haven’t done a lot of painting since those days but the love is still there.

Going forward… I need to make an easel for Eli. I would love for him to have the ability to go and begin to paint independently. Of course, there will be a fair amount of supervision and practice of expected behavior leading up to that. You know, small considerations such as using a smock and loaded paintbrushes staying in the painting area!

Our highchair painting extravaganza has left us with a very stained highchair tray. The sun, which does a great job of quickly bleaching out food stains, doesn’t begin to touch these! I rarely use chlorine bleach but perhaps I’ll have to now. Maybe you have a different suggestion?

I also need to lay in a supply of non-toxic paint. I wasn’t completely comfortable with letting him use the acrylic poster paints that are not meant for toddlers. I am learning that in the Waldorf tradition, high quality art materials are used. Cheap children’s materials (think Rose Art brand crayons) can frustrate and turn kids off. Eli is too young now to care if his paint brush sheds a bristle now and then into his work, but I remember as a child being upset by that happening. And just as children tend to take better care of their toys when they have fewer, higher quality toys, the same applies to the judicious use and care of art supplies. Honestly though, at this stage I think the main concern is safety. When Eli reaches the stage of greater intentionality in what he is trying to create the quality will be a greater factor of consideration for me. Right now he seems to be driven more by the joy of the process.

I’m not sure about the expense of using the “good stuff”.  I would like to encourage Eli to be free to create and experiment to his heart’s content and not feel like I have to ration supplies that are too precious. I’m also wary of the attitude that one needs to buy only “approved” materials from Waldorf suppliers. But the jury is still out as I haven’t yet had the time to do my research. I’m sure I’m not the first parent with this concern. I’m off to find out how other families have  provided eco-friendly, non-toxic, good quality art supplies for their budding Rembrandts without breaking the bank. If you have any ideas to share please leave a comment.

Mama’s got some readin’ to do.

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen

Going Fishing!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on blogs and in books about various styles of preschool education as I begin to think about homeschooling Eli. Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia all have aspects that have captured my attention.

One thing that I find attractive about Waldorf philosophy is the importance placed on using toys that encourage open ended play. I also like that the types of toys recommended are made from natural materials. I doubt we will ever do away with plastic toys entirely in our household, but I have begun a process of weeding out all that aren’t particularly loved and are contributing to general clutter. And I’m making an attempt to make many of his new toys myself. (Also here and here.) For those that we buy, I’m being more conscious in making decisions in favor of quality materials and toys that inspire creative play. If I make many of his toys we will be buying fewer toys, so those we do purchase can be better quality (unfortunately, otherwise known as more expensive).

Creative Play for your Toddler by Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol is full of wonderful toys that can be made at home. The first project I’ve made from it is the Felt Fishing Set. I’m sure you will see me refer to this book many more times in the future.

The fishing set I made isn’t felt. The felt I have at home is made of recycled soda bottles, and the wool variety is pretty expensive. Also, if you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I like to use what I have on hand. This is a great project for putting those little scraps leftover from other sewing ventures to use.

I will have fun pointing out to Eli which fish were made from a former favorite shirt or his Great Great Aunt Jenny’s linen napkin.

Oh, how I loved this shirt… loved the elbows right off of it, unfortunately!

The directions in the book call for using magnet washers. I went to Lowes, Home Depot, Michael’s and Walmart… nobody seems to carry them. Then it finally occurred to me that perhaps I just needed to drill a hole in the center of a coin-shaped magnet. Easy peasy!

Excuse the blurry photo… It’s hard to hold an electric drill and take a picture with the other (non-dominant) hand.

My lack of attentiveness with the metal washers on the fish also held up this project by a bit. Toward the end I happened to look a little more closely at the packaging out of which I was pulling the metal circles.

In my defense I grabbed it at the store while accompanied by a two year old determined not to ride in a cart or be carried but instead to touch every last item in the Lowes. I’m not supermom enough to inspect packaging very closely under such circumstances.

It looks innocent enough, but listen closely and you’ll hear the Jaws theme playing ominously in the background.

As to why I didn’t notice once I was home and removing washer after washer from the package to sew onto fish after fish I have no explanation or excuse. I’m just glad I noticed before I gave any of the fish to Eli! Going back to the store for new washers and then swapping them out set this project back by a few days though. Hopefully I’ll have learned my lesson before my next trip to get materials for toy making!

Here are the fish, complete with non-cancer-causing washers. I have a few more partially completed fish. I think I may keep making fish from time to time as I create more cloth scraps while sewing. It’s a fun hand-sewing project that is easy to take along for times when I can take a cafe break or need to sit in a waiting room by myself. I also have another branch cut and scored for a second fishing pole. I just need to braid the candle wick yarn string and drill a hole in another magnet.

Now I just need to decide if I will give this to Eli now, or hold onto it until Christmas. Something tells me I won’t be able to wait!

Thanks for reading!

Karen

I’ve been featured!

I'm Topsy Turvy

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday, jembellish clothes upcycling page, Threading My Way

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots,

Whimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Sharing the Laundry Love

When I first began sewing it was to dabble in the realm of quilting. I got most of my fabric from thrifted men’s shirts, but occasionally I would splurge on fat quarters of new fabric. There was a delightful little quilt shop just half a block away from my apartment… so dangerous when you live on a tight budget, yet a great source of inspiration, advice and camaraderie.

So what does all of this have to do with laundry? Well, all of the quilting fabric had to be pre-washed. I had to be especially careful with the new fabric as it could bleed and stain the other fabric or clothing in the load with it. The coin washers and driers in the apartment building where I lived were pretty expensive to use. I couldn’t afford to run separate loads for the small quantities of new fabric I would buy. When sewing I wanted to be able to grab whichever fabric struck me as the right one in the moment, not having to wait until my new fabric reached a “critical mass” before being pre-washed and dried for use.

Shout Color Catcher Dye-Trapping, In-Wash Cloths - 24 ea

Then I discovered Shout Color Catchers. These are little disposable sheets you throw in with your wash. They grab any free dye in the water and fix it so that it can’t be absorbed by other fabric in the load. Now I could wash all of my recent fabric acquisitions, all together, with my other laundry… FULL LOADS! Eeek!

I’m no longer quilting (at least for now) and most of the fabric I use is repurposed from old clothing, but I still have need of the old color catcher. Now it’s more a matter of being lazy and not wanting to separate my laundry. I just want to let enough for a load accumulate and then wash. (Not that I never get behind in doing laundry… that still happens.) I often even use the washer itself as a laundry hamper.(Hey! Don’t judge!)

Now I don’t use the disposable Shout Color Catchers  but this handy dandy reusable cloth called the Carbona Color Grabber.

It claims to be good for up to 30 wash loads. Not so. The first one I had I used multiple times a week for over a year before it seemed to be losing it’s ability to grab errant dye. You are also not supposed to dry it in the dryer, but mine was forgotten when laundry was moved between machines more times than I would care to admit.

Here you see the recently retired, over-a-year-used cloth. It used to be bright white as well.

To show you the wonder that is this product I thought I’d invite you along for its maiden voyage. This is a load of red clothing, including towels that 8 years after the wedding for which we received them still bleed. I threw in a wee white sock as well for dramatic effect.

There you have it. The white cloth no longer white and the sock still as white as it was going into the wash.

I love this product! And since I can’t get my Amazon Associates links to work for me, rest assured that there is nothing in this post for me other than the joy of sharing a little something that has made my life easier and less expensive.

Thanks for reading!

Karen

 

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy TotsWhimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love CreationsAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805Pencilled Daydream

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Social Stories

As Eli becomes older and more aware of himself he has been getting more reticent around strangers. His speech is emerging, to our great delight, but he isn’t confident enough to speak with most other people outside the family or his speech therapists. I remember how he used to work his extreme cuteness as a 5 month old for all the attention he could in the checkout line at the grocery.

I wondered at the time how two introverts (me a bit more extremely so than my husband) could have given birth to such an extrovert. Now he’s either showing himself not to have fallen that far from the family tree, or this is just another developmental phase. Time will tell, and in the end Eli will be Eli. Introvert or extrovert, it’ll be just fine by us.

In the meantime, Eli has been growing increasingly uncomfortable with playing outdoors within our immediate neighborhood. He is fine as soon as we are away from the home and in a public place. I think the difference is that on our sidewalk our friendly neighbors will stop to greet him. Somedays he will go out but becomes nervous when other people walk by. Other days he refuses to play outside at all unless I take him away from our neighborhood. While I don’t mind if he is by nature going to be a more introverted individual, I don’t like seeing him experiencing such anxiety to the point where it is hindering him from enjoying one of his greatest joys in life.

To help him gain greater level of comfort with playing in our neighborhood I’m making a couple of social stories for him.

Social stories are short stories targeted very specifically to a social skill an individual is struggling with. A quick Google search will provide an abundance of information as well as sites offering free social stories with generic illustrations for a variety of  life skills. While social stories were developed as a tool to help individuals with Autism  learn specific social skills, it seems to me they are a powerful tool to help any child with an area in which they are struggling. It is my hope that these stories I’m creating for Eli will normalize something that he is currently finding threatening.

Here are the pictures and text from the first one I made just to get him thinking about all the things he so enjoys doing when we are outside. These stories are supposed to be short and this one may be a bit too long. And because it doesn’t really address any sort of social skill perhaps it can’t really be called a “social story” at all.  Whether it fits the definition or not I think it’ll help.

Eli Plays Outside

Eli draws with chalk.

Eli rides his bike.

Eli plays with dirt.

Eli plays in the tree.

Eli waters the garden.

Eli watches the cars and trucks.

Eli plays with leaves and sticks.

Eli plays with his wagon.

Eli plays on the stepping stones.

The second social story I’m going to make for him I won’t post here because it will contain photos of the neighbors who might not appreciate me posting their pictures online. The text will go more or less as follows:

Our Neighbors

Our neighbors live in the houses around us.

We see them walking on the sidewalk.

They go to their garages. Then they drive away.

When they come home again, they walk from the parking lot to their houses.

Our neighbors are friendly. Sometimes they stop to say “hi!”

We live in a nice neighborhood.

The photos will obviously be of neighbors walking back and forth on the sidewalk, or in the parking lot. I spoke with one family about a picture of them waving hello. The others I’ll most likely just take on the sly from the front door as opportunities present themselves. Again, perhaps not quite a social story as it doesn’t deal with teaching him how to respond appropriately. He’s only 2 and if he doesn’t want to talk to people he doesn’t know I’m ok with that. Pressuring him to do so will only raise the anxiety level, the exact opposite of what will encourage him continue practicing to speak. Right now I just want him to get comfortable with seeing the neighbors when he is outside. 

When Eli first began going to the group therapy program he had great difficulty sitting with the other children for circle time. They made a social story for him there called Eli Sits in Circle Time with photos they took of him during a few of his more successful moments. He loved it and wanted to read and reread it. He also began to do much better during circle time after we started reading his book together.

Since I gave him the book less than two hours ago Eli has wanted it read to him eight times and at one point insisted on leaving the book to go out and water the tree and use the sidewalk chalk for a while. Yay!

I hope these new stories help him navigate this current bumpy spot in the road he is experiencing. If nothing else I think he will enjoy having another book with himself as the main character!

Happy Father’s Day!

My beloved husband,

Before I ever met you, when thinking of the sort of man I wanted to marry, the most important characteristic was that he be a good father.

Over the past two years you have surpassed any vision that I had of what that would look like. You were with me the entire time during the labor and delivery, giving me so much support through your calming presence.You have never flinched during or deferred from diaper duty. You know how to sooth and comfort even when the object of your kindness sounds like a fire siren 3 inches from your ear. You endure nightly encounters with a restlessly sleeping toddler’s fists, knees and elbows without complaint. You have spent countless hours dancing, bouncing and singing Eli to sleep when I feel like I can’t nurse another minute. You are so patient and help to ground me when I’m at my wit’s end after a long day of toddler care.

You know how to cut a rug with Eli in a way I could never do. You delight in your son in so many different little ways, and make sure I share the moment as well. You spend quantities of time giving Eli focused attention in a way many other fathers don’t until their children are much older. And many other fathers never will at all.

And I could go on and on, but you are coming in the door with Eli after spending time together outside.

I thank God that he answered my prayer said for so many years, so many years ago. In you He gave me all I asked for and so much more!

Happy Father’s Day!

Colorful Fizzy Fun!

When I saw this idea from indulgy.com on Pinterest today I decided it was the perfect activity for my fussy feverish little boy.  Basically it involves a dropper, small containers full of food coloring and vinegar and a pan with a layer of baking soda.Side note: See the smaller bowl  of red? Supposedly it is blue. I spent way too much buying all natural food dye in our quest to avoid all artificial coloring in Eli’s food. My initial reason for buying it was to make Cookie Monster cupcakes for his birthday. They were made and served, but there is a reason why they never appeared on the blog. Interestingly the green dots in the baking soda below came from that bowl so the color isn’t as off as it would initially seem. Anyone out there with any suggestions for good food coloring options for people going the all natural route?

The little one didn’t seem in the least put out by the quality of his colors though. He just really liked watching them fizz.

It’s a great activity to work on pinch strength and control.

I’m a fan of any activity that lets a great little guy forget he feels crummy for a little while.

I didn’t get a picture of the best part of all. When we were all finished with the activity we dumped all of the leftover dye and baking soda down a sluggish drain in the bathroom. Then Eli gleefully added quite a bit additional vinegar. while exclaiming “Whoa!”

Here’s where I’m linking up!

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy TotsWhimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love CreationsAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805Pencilled Daydream

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

In which Eli and I unsuccessfully attempt to master new skills…

In a previous post or two I’ve mentioned my seeming inability to sew from a pattern. I’ve decided to get serious about addressing my distressing lack of this skill and have ordered a couple of pattern books. One is Sewing For Boys. I’m so excited about some of the clothing included in this book. My first attempt was most disappointing however. I figured I’d start out easy with a raglan shirt.

I used some of my over abundance of black t-shirt fabric that I bleached to a pleasing brown and added the blue taken from an old sweatshirt. I think the problem was in choosing fabrics of very different weights, coupled by the fact that I should have chosen the next pattern size up for Eli. I’ll be trying this one again soon, but after a quick try-on I could see this shirt was never going to work and no amount of top stitching and adding of neckbands was going to help.

At the same time it seemed that perhaps now it was time to get serious about toilet learning. (For Eli that is,… I’ve had this skill down for a while.)  The ill-fated raglan became fodder for some toilet training pants. I’m following this tutorial from Sew a Straight Line to make the boy some Itty Bitty Boxer Briefs.

The fact that the sleeve was the perfect size to get the front piece from confirmed my decision. While the sweat material wasn’t stretchy enough for the shirt it is wonderfully absorbent for the training undies. 🙂

The first pair was quickly followed by a second and soon many, many others.

After two days of much mopping of puddles, a quick realization that I am way behind in the amount of dry undies we are going to need, and the fact that Eli seems completely unmotivated we are going to take a step back.

I don’t want Eli’s learning to use the potty to become a battle of wills.  He didn’t last long in his enthusiasm to join me in this project. He likes responding to the timer and sitting on the potty, but he doesn’t want to stay there beyond 30 seconds, and then five or ten minutes later there’s another puddle. I don’t want to get into artificially motivating him with sticker, toy or candy bribes. He’ll “get it” when he’s physically ready and it becomes important to him to join the ranks of the potty trained. I think if I could let him run around in the buff, at least from the waist down, he’d much more quickly get the idea of cause and effect, but he finds that quite disturbing and just begs for a diaper. He’s ok if I put the undies on him but he doesn’t get that they aren’t to be peed in like a diaper and there is no initiative or attempt on his part to make it to the toilet. I don’t want to use pull ups for this reason, except occasionally to go out. He’s shown me that he just isn’t ready. We’ll try again in a while, and I will be ready with a basketful of nice thick underwear! Of course, in the meantime we’ll continue to practice having him use the toilet as often as possible.

There are tutorials for other styles of undies that I’m planning to try as well. Hopefully I’ll make quite a dent in my stash of t-shirts-for-repurposing.

Letter to Eli, 27 Months

Dear Eli,

I can’t believe another month has flown by. As always you continue to blossom and grow, thrill and amaze. About the growing part, you know, you could slow it down a little. We recently had to retire about 2/3 of your wardrobe seemingly overnight. That and your Mama is now having to put limits on your Ergo time…

On Mother’s Day

You continue to love music and now demand to sing songs you have learned at school at random moments throughout the day. The photographs below were taken on a day, which was part of a string of days , when you demanded to sing about “Matilda the Gorilla” at least 67 times. You now will sing out yourself on various words of a song and participate in the hand motions, but mostly it’s Mama serenading you about that singing gorilla. We need to learn some new songs. Fast.

You are speaking so much more now. Spontaneous two word phrases abound! Some times you say so much more than that, but I’m beginning to struggle to understand you when you get especially verbose. All of the people who work with you in speech therapy have expressed how thrilled they are with your progress. Of course, your daddy and I are the most thrilled of all. One of the cutest things we hear often around here is “No, no, no, no, no!” said rapid fire and with a tone of great dismay, usually due to a toy falling off the table or another equally great calamity.

This month you had your first carousel ride. You are a fan on the music, movement and the animals, but not so much of having to pick just one animal and sticking with it the entire ride!

At the park you initially demanded that I “drive” you to visit all of the well-loved people and places in your life. I kept encouraging you to be the one to do the driving.

Of course, now you think that we should make the same transition with the family car. The time between now and your learner’s permit is going to go by way too slowly for you, and way too quickly for me.


I love these two photos of you playing in the strange light of the recent partial solar eclipse.https://folkhaven.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/shamelessly-lazy-toddler-jeans/

You have become quite bashful when we are out in public. This is your most common reaction to a stranger paying you any attention. I guess for you being cute has its drawbacks, because it seems there are a lot of people out there that would love to chat with you.

This past month you developed an obsession with vacuum cleaning. Not only will you be entertained for long stretches of time by the mere presence of the upright vacuum in the living room, but when it is squirreled away in the closet any and all toys have the ability to morph into vacuums. You often will be heard humming around the house waving a vacuum in the form of a guitar, flute or shovel in each hand. For a couple of weeks you spent great deal of energy demanding that your father or I vacuum this way with the toys of your choosing, while you sat back and supervised, pointing out all the spots that we “missed”. Then I found a forgotten Dust Buster in the closet that still works. Now you are happy to do most of your vacuuming yourself, and we actually are seeing cleaner floors because of it! You continue to love to sweep as well, which is good, because playing in your rice bin is another recent obsession.

Doing our best to raise a tree hugger…

…the kiss was all your idea.

We went on a field trip to a small zoo with your the group from ICEC. There I learned that you do not share your mother’s fascination and enjoyment of goats. When you saw those crazed and hairy beasts craning their necks over and under the fence you decided we should leave the zoo RIGHT AWAY. And had it not been for the Ergo I’m sure you would have, with or without me. Unfortunately, the goats were pretty much at the entrance to the zoo. You eventually calmed down and enjoyed parts of the experience, but for the most part you were not enamored with the animals as I had hoped you would be. But there is hope for you yet. In an old letter written by your Grandma Beverly when your father was about four she wrote that he “prefers his animals behind bars”. As you know, your daddy is quite the fan of the four-legged, so between your genetic heritage and our relentless influence we will make an animal lover out of you yet. And hopefully you will enjoy them more in nature than behind bars.

You have developed a new strange little habit of “going to sleep” at random moments in public areas, as demonstrated on this staircase. Maybe you want to get in on the planking craze?

Anyway, toward the end of our time at the zoo you decided to make yourself comfortable on the sidewalk, right in front of the mountain lion enclosure. One of the lions immediately went into predator mode and rushed over to you, thankfully stopped about two feet short by the chain link fence. There it crouched at attention, completely focused on you, all the while licking its chops. I sat you up to show you what had happened, but you remained much less impressed by the mountain lion than it was by you. So I guess it’s up to me to make sure you grow up understanding that if you ever encounter a mountain lion in a less controlled setting, playing dead is probably not your best option.

At the end of the day at the zoo we took a ride in this little train. You were very tired and subdued and I wasn’t sure how much of an impression it made, but ever since you have been so excited when you see a train in any form. Your wooden train has been getting quite the work out daily as you load it up with all of the little people and animals you can cram on it.

Few things warm my heart as much as seeing you play in a natural setting. One of the best parts of my childhood was growing up in the country, playing long hours in the fields, woods and stream. I hope as you grow I can find many opportunities for such play for you. This local park and a few downed branches is as good a place as any to start.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Llama Llama Rag Doll

Eli has been loving the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney lately. So do I. Between the rhythm, rhyme and delightful illustrations they are a joy to read out loud. Which is good because Eli wants me to do so again, and again and again.

In the stories Llama Llama is never without his little rag doll. I thought it would be fun to make Eli his own version.

Illustration detail from Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.

Kinda cute, right?

So here is how I did it.

First I sketched out some pattern pieces. If people express an interest and if I can figure out how to make and attach a pdf file I might be able to make this pattern available to others who’d like to make this but don’t feel comfortable sketching patterns. (Since I don’t feel comfortable doing technological things, that’s a bit of a big IF… but it’s good to make myself learn new skills so I could at least try.)

Then while my wonderful husband followed Eli around Barnes & Noble, I sat in the cafe, retraced the pattern pieces onto printer paper and cut them out. These pieces were pinned to a linen napkin before I cut them out leaving about 1/4″ for seam allowance. I got all on the pieces I needed from one linen napkin. I used a different pink linen napkin for the insides of the ears and some bleached black t-shirt material for the bottoms of the feet, but if I had wanted the doll all one color I would have been able to get those pieces from the one napkin too.

I wanted this project to be completely handmade so everything was hand stitched together.

I also wanted all of the materials to be natural and all things I already had on hand, so instead of using polyester fiberfill or going out and purchasing cotton stuffing I cut leftover scraps of cotton and wool fabric into thin strips to use to stuff the doll. I really like how this resulted in a heavier doll. It just feels good and solid (but not hard) in your hands. It is slightly lumpy, but I like that aspect too as it underscores the “handmade” quality.

The arms were sewn into the side seams of the body, and the ears into the side seams of the head, but the legs and neck and head were sewn and stuffed and then sewn onto the sewn and stuffed body.

Here’s a shot of the head being attached to the neck.

I debated on whether or not to use these buttons for the eyes or to paint on eyes to make it look more like the llama doll in the book. In the end I opted for the metal buttons in keeping with natural materials only decision I’d made earlier. I can always easily change them later, if I find wooden buttons I like better or if I decide to go ahead with the paint after all. These look cute enough for me now though.

Not only did using different fabric for the bottoms of the feet allow for a change in color, but I like how the knit stretches to balloon out a bit. I couldn’t resist adding the belly button.

I used the sewn edge of the napkin to cut small lengths to use for the tail.

Eli likes his little llama and immediately had to “match” it to the illustration in the book.

Llama Llama, nighty night…

 Thanks for stopping by!

Karen

Update: Here are links to download the pattern…

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday, Threading My Way

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy TotsWhimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love CreationsAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805Pencilled Daydream

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal