Two Whole Hours

January 31, 2012

Baby Girl slept this afternoon without me holding her for two whole hours.  It was awesome, and I even got some sewing done.  Not the sewing that I really need to work on, but at least I got to work on something.  Kid 1 has a birthday party to attend tonight, and I actually made a gift.  I started sewing something small on the weekend (a reversible leather superhero mask), and added a few items to the gift today.  I had time to make a pirate eye patch and a couple of doctor scrub hats this afternoon, and I'm excited to share a tutorials and patterns sometime soon for both the mask and hat.  

It's amazing what I can get done when the baby sleeps for two hours.  Kid 2 was also napping, and that helped, and Kid 1 was playing nicely with his friend as well.  I am continually amazed how much easier everything seems when at least one of my children are sleeping.  Two kids sounds so easy now, when just a few months ago it seemed a lot trickier. 

We Are Surviving

January 27, 2012

Baby girl is now over a month old, and she isn't so sleepy anymore.  Her new favourite thing is to be held all day long - even, and especially, when she is sleeping.  Yesterday was a tough day for us.  The only time she slept the whole day was in my arms.  Each time after I got her to sleep and would place her every so carefully in her cradle (I still need to take and share pictures of it).  Then I had about 1-2 minutes before she would wake back up again.  As soon as she was awake she was fussy because she was so exhausted.  Last night was the most and the loudest that she has cried.

Mr. Carlee is borrowing a lens from a friend to try out, and this picture came out pretty crazy as a result of his experimentation.  But I think it does a good job of capturing the moment.   

Notice the red eyes?  I'm feeling pretty tired and it's hard to feel like I can 'catch up'.  I sure feel tired, and I have had several people comment that I am looking tired.  And they are right. 

But honestly, even though the last month has been a little tricky, we are doing okay.  One thing that is great about having a third baby is that I know this stage won't last forever.  Eventually she will start sleeping better and for longer periods of time.  Babies get big so fast, and I feel like it's so much easier for me to enjoy this stage this time around, despite the almost total lack of sleep.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself for how hard this is, I'm trying to keep it in perspective and log a lot of time wearing baby girl in a carrier (I'm loving the Moby Wrap courtesy of Alexis).   

Over the last few days I've seen a ton of people reference an article on Carpe Diem from Glennon Melton at the Huffington Post.  I know I don't 'enjoy' every moment with my kids, but I like to think that I am enjoying the journey.  Being a mother (and a parent) is pretty hard.  As my friend Eva said recently, "it's a full-body job".  That's so true, right?  My back hurts from carrying the baby, and my body feel a little worn out, but I'm also pretty full of love when I look at my three little ones.

I'm no expert on this whole three kids business, but I feel like it's all going to work out.  We've had tons of help from kind friends that have brought meals and watched the boys while I spend some time with the baby, and sometimes even have a much needed nap.  And there are lots of things that aren't getting done.  My house isn't very clean (as I mentioned before), and I haven't pulled things together enough to start using cloth diapers with the baby, but we are surviving.  Right now, I'm totally alright with survival. 

Fabric Party Crowns

January 26, 2012

The other day, my 4 year old declared: "It is 10 days until Daphne's birthday!"  Daphne is her much loved baby doll.  (Last year I made a book about her and posted it here.)  Baby doll Daphne is an important part of our family, so it made sense that we should throw her a birthday party.  (In other words, a glorified playdate.)  We invited a few friends and their baby dolls to come, and I thought we would be set.

Not so.

Apparently, a crucial part of any baby doll's birthday party are party hats.  And, according to my 4 year old, they can't be party hats made from paper, because those break.  We needed to sew fabric hats. 

Lucky for me, and baby doll Daphne, I had just inherited about 40 yards of pink cotton from my mother-in-law.  Also, lucky for us, I had just seen a felt party crown in the book The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule.  Her felt party crown was easy enough to adapt and make out of cotton.

I originally intended to make just a crown for baby doll Daphne and her mommy, but soon realized that the crown was awesome, and all of the party guests would like one.  In total, I made six hats, including the ones for younger sibling tag alongs.  (I drew the line at making one for each of their baby dolls too.)

This was a fun sewing project, and I am happy to do something special for my daughter.  It is also fun to give a little gift to my friends' kids.  What do you think though?  Is sewing party crowns for a baby doll's birthday party going too far?  Call me crazy!

Gracefully Giving Up

January 24, 2012

I sew because I love doing it.  Since my baby girl was born, I haven't really been able to make much of anything.   Last week I had a few minutes one afternoon with just Kid 1 (the other two were magically napping at the same time), and I was feeling the itch to sew.  I even had the perfect project to work on.  One of my good friends  is having a baby girl very soon (Hi Becca), and I had a great idea of something special I could make her.

She had recently passed on an old dress shirt for Kid 2 to wear that her two year old grew out of.  I thought it would be adorable and sentimental if I refashioned the shirt into a little dress/top for their baby girl to wear.

I started working on it and I was feeling good.  I cut out the stain, and I had a pretty good plan for how everything was going to work.

But then something happened and I messed it all up.  I cut too much out of the width and I was pretty sure I didn't have a wide enough piece to make it work.

I played with it and stared at it for a while and tried really hard to figure out how I could rescue the dress.  After a bit I realized that I was too tired to think clearly, and it would be wise to give up now.  You know, before I wasted anymore time on something destined to fail.  Maybe I could have saved it, and I saved the bigger pieces for a secondary idea that I may or may not get around to, but I think sometimes it's wise to just give up and call it a day.

And that is just what I did.  I'm telling myself that I gave up gracefully and that I made the right move.  I'm curious, what is the point when you give up on you projects, or do you just soldier through until it works out?     

Love Bags

January 18, 2012

The other day, my four year old suggested that we take some bags, put ornaments into them, and open one each morning.  (This was sounding very similar to my advent bags from Christmas.)  I wanted to support her idea (you can read my guest post on The Artful Parent to hear more about my philosophy on supporting kids' original ideas).  I suggested that instead of putting Christmas ornaments inside of the bags, we could put little presents for her Daddy.  She loved this idea, and immediately declared: "Yes!  And let's call them love bags because they'll be about how much we love Daddy!"

We decided to make ten bags, and put little drawings, candy and other surprises inside of each bag.  (When I was sewing the advent bags, I knew they could be multi-purpose!)  I made ten new labels for the bags to make them look less Christmas-y and more Love Bag-ish. 

My daughter is beyond excited to open a bag each morning with her Daddy.  She knows what is inside, and what's inside isn't that exciting (a stick of gum, or a stuffed Christmas bear, for example), but she is still so excited. 

Do you want to make your own Love Bags?  Check out my advent bags post, and then adapt for love.  I think it would be a really sweet thing to do for your husband, boyfriend, kids, etc.  You could write things you love about the person, put chocolates, or maybe even make little date certificates.  I would be excited to open a Love Bag every morning in the two weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.  Maybe if I give really big hints, someone will do it for me?  (Mr. Emily, are you reading this?)

Sewing with Preschoolers

January 17, 2012

Just like last year, my oldest son and I are part of a co-op preschool with a few other families.  There are four kids in our group this year, and we alternate houses every week and hold preschool on Monday and Wednesday mornings.  This week was my first time to host since my baby was born last month.  I think it went more smoothly than I expected, but I think the key was low expectations more than anything else.

Our topic this week is sewing.  We talked about what types of things are sewed using fabric and played a game where the kids had to match different types of fabric.  I tried doing this first by having them wear blindfolds, but this was a little trickier than I expected, and after everyone had a few turns, I let them make matches by feeling and seeing.  After each kid had a few different matches, we talked about how each felt (some were stretchy, others soft, etc).

For our craft, I cut out a pair of pants for each child from a cereal box.  The kids coloured on the 'brown' side, and then chose some cardstock to glue onto the other side.  After this I punched holes along the edges, and gave them yarn to 'sew' with.

Some of the comments from the kids were pretty hilarious as they worked on sewing their pants.  One little boy said it was 'too hard' and he 'couldn't do it'.  Another boy said 'his back hurt', and the little girl said 'I can't sew anymore'.

The last two comments were my favourite.  You would think they were workers in a sweat shop at the end of a long day, instead of working on a paper sewing card for twenty minutes total. 

Tomorrow I think I'm going to attempt to get out my sewing machine.  My plan is to make up some monster shapes and have them decide where to put the facial features.  Then I'll sew them on and have the kids stuff them.  Too ambitious?  Maybe.

I'm curious, what have you done to teach your kids about sewing?  What age do you think is a good age to start?

Sugar 'Igloo'

January 16, 2012

Last week Kid 1 (age 4) came home from preschool with a really cool project to finish at home.  The started making igloos out of sugar cubes and royal icing, and my son the builder, was really into the project.  We do a lot of building at my house, with lego, Lincoln logs, and other materials, and this was right up his alley.

He got a few rows up, and then needed some help.  I kept going long after he had given up, and I hoped that I would be able to create a rounded top.  It didn't work out, so I ended up with more of a teepee than anything else, but it was still fun for all of us.

I think this would be a great winter activity to keep little (and big) hands busy in the long a dreary months of January and February.  And cheap too, since sugar cubes are inexpensive and it's easy to make a batch of super strong royal icing.

Now that I'm looking at my pictures, it just occurred to me that you could use something like a balloon or a crumpled up ball of foil to stuff inside the igloo that would support the dome while your icing is hardening.  If you try this, please let me know if this works.  We still have a lot of winter ahead of us (in fact, it hardly feels like it has begun), and we would all be up for a repeat.

How to Entertain a Toddler

January 14, 2012

I feel like my baby suddenly turned into a toddler overnight.  I'm pretty sure this was a gradual process, but all of a sudden she's running around, talking, and needing more than a rattle and some finger food for entertainment.  Where did my baby go?  Bah!

Toddlers love to empty and fill containers, so to keep my little one busy, I made a toy from an old formula can.  (Any container with a plastic lid will do.)

I washed and dried the container, and then cut a smallish hole in the lid.  Then I looked for something small, but not too small that could be easily dropped inside.  Obviously, you don't don't want your toddler playing with a choking hazard.  Use your judgement here, please!  Clothespins fit the bill at my house, but you could also use pom poms, balled up paper, or large dried noodles. 

I set the container in front of my daughter with the pile of clothespins next to her, and demonstrated a few times that I could drop them inside.  The clothespins make a nice ting sound which is pretty fun too.  My little one LOVED dropping each clothespin in.  This activity proved to be just right - not too easy, not too hard.  When full, the container turns into an awesome shaker or drum.

Once I realized that this toy would be sticking around for a bit at my house, I decided to cover the can with some paper and packing tape.  It looks a bit nicer than a can of formula sitting on my shelf.

There you have it!  An easy and simple way to entertain a toddler.

Making Stuff

January 12, 2012

This little baby of mine is almost 4 weeks old, and I'm slowly starting to get back into the normal swing of things.  She isn't a champion night time sleeper, but since this is my third, I know the night waking won't last forever.  And she has actually been better at night than the two year old.  He has the croup, and sleep apnea, and a habit of waking at night, so we have been pretty tired around here.  Needless to say, I haven't been making much of anything lately.  Unless you count lots of milk, dirty dishes, the occasional meal, and piles of both dirty and clean laundry.

I did have a burst of energy the other day and I made a few quick pairs of little leggings out of old shirts.  One of the thrift stores I frequent is having a deal where you can have 5 free items of clothing per week for the month of January.  You don't even have to buy anything else.  I picked up a couple of items to actually wear, but mostly I've come home with clothing meant to repurpose.  Making baby leggings is super easy, especially if you use the bottom hem of a shirt for your pant legs.  I traced a pair of tiny newborn sized leggings for my pattern, and put two pairs together pretty fast.  The construction is simple.  Sew the side seams of both legs.  Then sew the crotch seam.  Make a casing for your elastic and thread it through (or sew the elastic directly to the top) and you are finished.  Knit doesn't fray, so you don't have to stress about finishing, but I like to use the stretch overcast stitch on my machine to keep things tidy on the side seams.  And I use a double needle on the waist band for looks and for stretch.  Easy.  And that is frankly about all I can manage these days.

Keeping my Kids Busy this Winter

January 10, 2012

After a few glorious weeks of sun and warm weather, today is finally feeling like Winter.  While I do try and leave the house every day, it is just too cold to be spending much time outside.  The constant challenge is how to entertain my kids all day long (especially on those days when we are at home without a car, and my husband doesn't arrive until bedtime).

I always get inspiration from what others are doing, so I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing what we've been doing to pass the time.

Art, Art, Lots of Art


It's always fun to create.  Today we tried painting on the window.  To make your own window paint, mix tempera paint with a bit of dish soap.

For our front windows, we made some cute snowmen out of coffee filters and paper.

Sew Something

The other day when I was over at my friend's house, she made this adorable stuffed owl for my daughter.  My friend cut out the fabric, and I sewed it up.  My daughter loves it.

Sensory Activities

My daughter loves doing transfer activities.  For example, rice from one bowl to another, water with a turkey baster, or cotton balls with tongs.

Build a Fort

Do you have a lot of cardboard kicking around?  We always seem to.  Our house is currently home to a large cardboard "palace."  We decorated with stickers and even put a crib mattress and blankets inside.


We are currently monopolizing a library DVD called Yoga for Families.  I also checkout the Yoga Kids DVDs quite often.  Even though we can't go outside and run around, we can at least move.

Interested in more things to do with your kids?  Check out my Fun Jar list from last year.

What are you doing to keep sane?

Kid Made Game and a Discussion on Children's Learning

January 7, 2012

The other day, my husband and four year old made a game together.  My husband is a bit of a board game geek, as you'll remember.

The game that they came up with warms my heart on so many levels.  For one, it is something that they did together.  Second, my daughter initiated the game making and had all of the ideas, she was just supported a bit with the execution.  Finally, this game is right on for her developmentally. 

Do you want to learn how to play?

It's called The Grocery Shopping Game Where You Buy Stuff.

The object of the game is collect all of your grocery items and write them down on a list.  You also need to collect a paper and pen to write your list down on.

To start, you need three wooden block for dice. 
One is the letter block with the following letters: M, F, B, O, P and "two words." 
Another block is the grocery item dice with the following words and pictures: money, flower, bag, orange, puzzle, and trade. 
The last block is the list dice with the following words and pictures: pen (shown twice), paper (shown twice), choice, and two items shown. 

To play, you take turns rolling all three dice.  Once your dice is rolled, you pick one of the three and do that action.  You can choose to take an item, or if you have the item, and both a paper and pen, you can write your item down on the list.  You can collect more than one of the same item.  If you roll "trade", you can trade one of your extra items with another player.  If you roll "choice" you can collect an item of your choice, and if you roll "two items" you get to do both of the actions shown on the other two dice.  Sometimes you won't be able to do anything on your turn, in which case, you miss a turn.

The first person to collect one of each item, and write it down on their list, wins!

My daughter loves playing the game because she made it.  It has been a great way for her to practice writing letters and words.  She is still working on word spacing and some of the letters, but that's okay, because she's four.

Games are a great way to practice and reinforce literacy skills.  When I first saw this game, I was so impressed with how well this game worked for my daughter developmentally.  However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that kids are quite aware of what they can and can't do.  Children are naturally curious and excited about learning.  Especially when a child's environment is supportive and inspiring, children can learn so much without being forced or explicitly taught.  Especially in my home, I try to let the day be as child-directed as possible, because I know that is how my daughters learn best.

What are some of the things that your children have made or learned on their own?

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