Thursday, August 28, 2008

Craft Crazy

So this week I taught Anastasia how to wash her hands. She is too small to reach the sink so I made her this little tray that I set on my milk maid stool:

I pour the water from the pitcher to the bowl (eventually I will let her do it) and then she washes her hands. Then we have a small chunk of soap in the little bucket that she rubs between her hands and we rinse again. Then we dry with the little towel (washcloth) and she gets a little dab of Burt's Bees baby lotion in a bottle cap (otherwise there would be lotion everywhere.) She loves the lotion part. I have already used this set-up to tame tantrums. As she gets overloaded I ask her if she wants to wash her hands. I also set up another tray with tissue for wiping her nose, a toothbrush, hairbrush, a wet wipe for washing her face and a towel to dry. It was great because she loves brushing her teeth so I could brush her hair while she was brushing her teeth. Here she is with the cap-full of lotion in her little autumn attire:
I also found last night that if I set up her activities the night before while I am WIDE AWAKE, we are more likely to actually do the things in the morning. So today we did lots of activities from lentil-pouring to painting. We also have a new friend that I call Ruby. She is a hummingbird that frequents our window-hummingbird feeder. She is seriously there like every 5-15 minutes. Today she chased away a chickadee who stopped on a nearby tree to check out the feeder. It was funny watching this tiny bird with an attitude chase away a cute and curious 3x her size bird.

I have been sewing like mad again... and loving it. My mom bought me a bland Moses Basket (at my request) from the Consignment shop.

Here is what I did with it:

I am so in love with this apple and pear fabric that I have seen online quite a bit. I found it at Joann's a couple weeks ago and only bought a half-a-yard since I didn't have a vision for it. WELL I then was inspired to use it for the baby's basket and wished I had purchased even more!!! AH! How appropriate being that we have 2 pear and 3 apple trees and they are autumn fruits like our autumn arrival. I have dozens of ideas for making appliqued items from some of the scraps of material... I know I am crazy. Now hopefully #2 will actually sleep in this thing. A lady from the farmer's market said she would save me a lamb skin (poor lambs) to put in the bottom. Another lady is selling me an entire sheep's fleece for my crafting endeavors (like learning how to wet and needle felt). I don't know how much a fleece is... but I am a little concerned... especially because I have to clean it and then dry it...
I recently tested out a doll pattern for fellow blogger JoEbi and will be uploading pictures of it soon. It was for a cute little mermaid and she turned out lovely. I love all the Montessori and creative activities she does with her little boy in Japan. Then I got picked to test-drive a future WeeWonderful's pattern... the same designer (Hillary Lang) who I made Olive from. I love all the WeeWonderful dolls and items... so I feel so privileged to get to help out... and I get ANOTHER cute doll for me... I mean, Anastasia to play with.
So back to life.... I have dishes from our not so great enchilada dinner (that none of us ate). The only thing worse than cleaning up after a meal, is cleaning up after a gross meal that nobody would eat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't think we need a Christmas tree this year as Anastasia is having so much fun decorating the dog with Mardi Gras beads... And I think I am going to take it easy and craft all day after A's Dr. Appt. I am beat.

My computer is slow because of the clouds I am sure, but we should be getting comcast here soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

5 weeks or so....

I am getting to that point where I think a little someone inside of me is sucking all my energy up. I remember the last month or so with Anastasia feeling this way, and I can honestly say I am ready not to be pregnant anymore. Am I ready for another little baby? Is there truly such a thing as being completely ready for an entirely new life entering and turning your life upside down? I don't think it is possible. Its one of those things you just have to go with the flow until everything falls into place I guess.

I haven't had time for sewing in the past few days. I feel like I am constantly busy, and don't actually get anything done. There are two reasons for this.

1. I haven't been sleeping well (except last night) because I have been laying down WIDE AWAKE. So I spend my mornings like a zombie until about noon, and by that time I have to spend the rest of the day cleaning up the mess that my daughter created while I was in my stupor.

2. Anastasia has been teething and has been a total grump. Then I get grumpy and by 2pm we are both ready for a nap.

Then Nick gets home, and we are all happy. I try to make up for lost time and use my energy to get everything done in the evenings. Then I think I can't wind down enough to sleep until 1 or 2 or 3 am. And if Anastasia wakes up (when she wakes up I should say) I can't always fall back asleep for hours. So that is why I am like a mouse in one of those wheels that runs and runs and gets nowhere. Thankfully I don't have TOO much longer to go, and with my brother coming to town and Wendy visiting, I have plenty of pleasant destractions to look forward too!

I spent the weekend cleaning the deck, and Nick helped me put up a clothesline (inspired by our recent electric bill). So now my clothes smell sun-fresh, and I have added yet another chore to my list. :) Its all worth it though, I have successfully dried 3 loads in the sun, and feel like we are enjoying our yard more.

Our dog has still been acting bizarre. Hopefully she will be "normal" again after baby #2 arrives.

The bathroom is still in the works but Nick finished ALL the plumbing. Yay! So I have a sink, and even a mirror in there now.

I have been sorting through TONS of baby clothes to try and organize things. I thought one girl had lots of accessories... but having two is seriously out of control. lol.

Well I had best go help settle Anastasia down to bed seeing as it is 10:30 pm.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Starting School

After I learned that being a Nurse wasn't my vocation, I began toying with Veterinary Technician or Elementary teacher. Now I feel as a stay-at-home mom, I get to do a little of each (and a lot of other stuff). I decided it would be fun to have a pre-preschool for Anastasia starting this fall. Mainly my plan is to read books each week according to a specific theme, do projects along the same theme and have several Montessori activities. I am also toying with the idea of purchasing the Before Five In A Row curriculum just to make life a little easier when I have baby #2 around.

Above is a picture of Anastasia doing a practical life activity. Regina lent me a laminated placemat with an outline of a place setting on it but I wanted to make a bigger one and a more permanent one. So I made one out of a rectangle of fabric that I lined with home-made bias tape and painted a place setting on it. She actually did it correctly this morning (even though she put the napkin over the fork). I also picked up a chalk board at the thrift store for $1. She loves it but also enjoys using the chalk on walls. So I taught her how to wash chalk off the walls with a sponge. I like that it is a fairly "safe" art activity that I can leave out for her whenever inspiration to draw comes along.

You can't really see in the picture, but she is also wearing a wool diaper cover I made out of a sweater. I wasn't sure how effective it would be, but it is AWESOME. I can make 2 covers and a pair of pants from one Sweater and they work perfect for night time. I am just happy that she doesn't leak or stink when she comes to snuggle or sleep in our bed in the morning. So now I am in LOVE WITH WOOL.

As you can see, I have a better internet connection (hence the picture). I moved the laptop to the kitchen and it seems to be better. I have lots of craft projects in the line up... so more pictures to come. Anyways, the dishes are calling and Anastasia is getting bored (which is not a good thing usually).

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Life in 6 Paragraphs

My computer is insanely slow these days and uploading pictures is out of the question. So if you want to see Anastasia being cute, you will just have to come visit me! :)

We had a very nice, full weekend. Anastasia and I enjoyed our ritual of going to the farmer's market and Martin's on Saturday morning and were even invited to one of the farmer's farms. I think Anastasia will love it! As will Wendy and her kids when she comes to visit in September. Sunday we went to church, then to lunch with Andy and Heather and their kiddies and were invited over to Regina and Andrews for dinner later. Being as we gorged ourselves on Chinese, we skipped the food and just hung out and toured their amazing farm house. Regina let me borrow some of her Montessori items (like the ten-tower that I have been coveting) for Anastasia which was more than generous as I only have one kid and she has six! She also invited me over for play silk dyeing which I feel I should take advantage of as that is on my list for Anastasia's Christmas gifts and I have never dyed with anything but Rit and she is a pro.

Yesterday Anastasia and I went outside to play in the freshly mowed yard with Leia as the two of them were running back and forth across the house like crazies. I went to pick pears for us to eat today, and Leia ran across the street to our nicest neighbors (Eugene and Violet) who were enjoying time on their porch. Leia made herself at home on the porch so like responsible dog owners, we went over and spent time with them. We came home and did some leaf rubbings with crayons (okay I did the rubbings and A. stacked my flat muffin-tin crayons). We also painted a pot to but some dead branches in to make a little tree for decorating. Hopefully we can work on that today. I want to make some homemade water colors this morning but we will see how that pans out.

I put Anastasia in cloth diapers again (after a 6 month hiatus) since I will be using cloth with #2 and I might as well do both. I was also hoping it would aide in potty-training (as I have been told) and save us some money (especially if she potty-trains early. Lets be honest here and say it was a rough transition at first but I think we are finally getting back into the swing of it. The first night I tried it, Anastasia screamed when I put the diaper on her. I was really upset thinking I had just wasted $120 on toddler-sized prefolds and covers. The next day I tried again when she wasn't so tired, and I played with her to distract her for a while until she seemed not to notice... and we have been in cloth ever since. I don't care what ANYBODY says, scraping toddler poo into the toilet is DISGUSTING. My only consolation is that in reality, you are actually supposed to do the same with disposables but nobody (including me) actually does it. I guess human waste doesn't have a healthy place in landfills. Atleast my kitchen trash doesn't smell bad anymore. I also had to tweak my washing as my first load came out smelly. Overall though, I feel good about the transition as we have had some monster rashes this summer, and I finally found a combination that doesn't leak, wick or smell for night diapering. (She flooded her disposables even... all over MY bed!!!) Plus overall they smell less in the pail because I dump and rinse the poo off (which has actually gotten easier since the initial grossness). So that is the DL for those of you who are curious. No matter what anyone says, cloth is WAY cheaper than disposables... especially with the second child (all my diapers are still in perfect shape). Overall, I highly recommend them because once you get it down, its really not a big deal.

The other exciting thing for me is our new coffee-brewing caraffe called a Chemex. Our Mr. Coffee pot made our coffee taste awful, so Nick did the research and bought this bizarre coffee-making apparatus and I LOVE IT!!! It is the best coffee I have ever made at home or had at someone else's house. I love the simplicity of it, although I was skeptical at first because I don't like french-pressed coffee much. I will let Nick blog about it since it was his research and pure genius that landed us this gem at a fraction of the cost of a nice drip maker from the department store. OH AND I GOT A NEW VACUUM!!!! We went with a cheap Eureka since my not-so-cheap Hoover kirked out in less than 3 years of light activity (we have always had hardwood floors and we didn't even use it for the 9 months at my parents house.)

Anyhow, sorry about the lack of pictures. Hopefully we can finish up our "tree" activity today and get some pictures up depending on the temperment of my Verizon connection. :) Have a good week everybody!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not the Beach Exactly

We just spent the past few days at my parents house because on Thursday my mom and I were going to the beach with Caitlin and Anastasia. WELL that didn't quite happen. About 45 minutes down I-95 Caitlin got sick in the backseat of the car. I pulled off on the side of the Interstate... and we briefly cleaned up. Poor Caitlin. We went back to the 'Rents house and dropped Caitlin off, started laundry, and cleaned the car. The day was not over, and even though my mom was incredibly dissapointed about not going to the ocean, I came up with the idea to go to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond. I had remembered recently reading about their children's garden and thought it would be a nice thing to do. My mom had a family pass so we all ended up getting in for free! Anastasia had a blast playing in the sprinklers they had, smelling flowers and walking the beautiful gardens. They even had a giant sand box area so it was like the beach... except not really. I think I enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed the beach. I love the ocean, but our last trip turned me off a bit with the jellies and the helicopters. And chasing a 1 1/2 year old around a vast expanse of sand that only ends at a vast expanse of sea is not quite as relaxing as a walk through a kid-friendly paradise. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day after the rough start. And on the way home we stopped at a Daily Grind and all the medium sized frozen coffee beverages were only $2 for "Cappy Hour"!!! I was thrilled! What a great day it turned out to be! (Pictures coming soon!)

Friday Nick's work had a "monsoon" for 3 of the pregnant employees. It was really nice with delicious food and cake! He works with very cool, very pro-life people so that is alway fun! :) I also enjoyed a quick walk around downtown Fredericksburg with Tara. Her hubby watched the baby so Tara and I stole a quick jaunt and ice cream with Anastasia. There is a store called the Jabberwocky which is an awesome children's bookstore with loads of unique open-ended toys. I bought Anastasia a neat farm playset made from similar materials as classic colorforms which kept her busy for an hour in the car. I also found out that Tomie dePola is coming there in November to introduce his new Strega-Nona pop-up book!!!! I used to love (and still do) Tomie dePola as a kid and was thinking how cool it would be to meet this timeless children's author/illustrator. We will see how things play out with the new little one and all. Then, the craziest thing was when I stopped at my 'rents house, my mom had picked up a really nice Mother Goose book illustrated by Tomie dePola of all people and he had autographed it! Isn't that so bizarre? I was just thrilled!

My computer is very slow now, so I will try and upload some pictures later today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What a Pear!!!

Here is just a picture of a tiny pear from our tree:

They are unbelievably delicious and the perfect size for a little girl:

I think they are the cutest thing ever and I seriously have hundreds of these that need to be plucked!!! Supposedly pears keep really well, so I should go harvest as many as I can! I also have regular sized pears that don't taste quite as good. I think they need to ripen a bit more.

Unplugged: Hot

I had to stretch things a little bit to come up with a toddler "hot" activity. Or maybe I just couldn't find the right inspiration... either way we had fun! I took both Anastasia and Leia for a nice walk down our street which was great with this awesome breezy autumn-feeling weather. Can August stay like this please? Then we came home and I made Anastasia her first, very-own cup of hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow and a little spoon. She seriously played with
the marshmallow and spoon for 20 minutes and insisted on drinking the hot chocolate sip-by-sip with her little spoon. Then we got out the paint and painted using warm or "HOT" colors which Anastasia loved! Up until this point we only used finger paints and watercolors so real paint was a complete treat for us to work with. OH and if you buy Crayola's "washable" tempera paint, be careful because the blue splattered on my shirt while opening and wouldn't wash out. :( If anyone has any ideas for getting it out, let me know.

Here she is painting so nicely:

And here is where she turned into Red Beard the pirate. She was ready to nap.

Then we turned our painted paper bag into a lovely stuffed fish. "The Artful Parent" has a nice tutorial here. I remember doing this as a kid! I cut and glued, and she stuffed. Then I glued the tail shut. Waiting for the glue to dry took a while so a smart thing to do would be to use staples. We had time and no stapler so this worked fine.

I also have to be honest and say that perhaps I enjoy painting as much as Anastasia. As a kid I rarely remember painting much at home and I feel I have to make up for lost time so I painted little fish and turned it into a fishing game for Anastasia by adding paper clips. She already had the pole from a fishing puzzle that is too difficult for her but one could easily be made by glueing a magnet to some yarn or string and tying to a dowel or stick. She definately enjoyed this fishing set more than the two she has, and played with it quite a bit already! Hooray for free toys!
So we had fun even though we had more of a fish theme but we are heading to the beach with my mom on Thursday so it seemed appropriate.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


So Leia is almost finished "blowing her coat". That is when all her fur starts falling out for warmer weather. She blew a little late this year. Hair is EVERYWHERE when she does this. Especially on the rugs and her favorite sleeping spot: Anastasia's bed. All was well with my Hoover vacuum that I used just about daily in the living room and twice weekly in Anastasia's room (including her bedding). The only pain in the butt thing is that the regular vaccuum didn't work as well as the attachments and I lost the extra tubes so I was generally vacuuming up fur on my hands and knees with my pregnant belly trying to stay close to the vacuum so it wouldn't fall on my head (as it so often did! Ouch!).

THEN MY VACCUUM BROKE!!! Just a few days ago. So I had to use the shop vac today which likes to try and suck up the entire rug! So my solution was to stand with my feet on either side of the rug while vaccuuming in between which probably looked even more rediculous than the prior Hoover scenario. Not only was this a pain (and painful) but it took FOREVER to get the rugs clean. But after about 30 minutes in the living room, everything looked good and I thought I could make it until I can get to my parents and pick up Nick's ancient vacuum.

Leia came in first and curled up in the middle of the floor and Anastasia came in with a bucket of bird food from the porch and dumped it in front of the dog in the MIDDLE OF MY CLEAN FLOOR! and all I can say is GRRRRRRR.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Princess and the Pea(ch)

I rented the classic Hans Christian Anderson story "The Princess and the Pea" from the library and I LOVE IT!!! We got the version by Judith Wolman and the pictures are totally adorable! The reason we love it so much is because Anastasia is the Princess. When falling asleep there better not be a single pea in her bed! And the temperature has to be just right. She has to sleep on her mushroom pillow (heaven forbid her head ends up on her polka dot pillow) and snowbear must be in her right hand, a cup of milk (even if empty) in her left hand and of course Nick's baby quilt covering her lower half (not above her waist mind you) without too many ruffles or creases in it. All this and a few select poems not to exclude "Winkin, Blinkin and Nod" and usually we can get her to fall asleep. In the car, it is a different story, usually to include similar things: bear, milk, blanket, and classical music. In both circumstances I have to time it just right so that she is tired enough but not too tired. She must be a REAL PRINCESS. lol

Learning the information about princesses from Anderson and all their sensitivities has defiantly made our life make a little more sense. I can at least understand why everything must be a certain way for miss Anastasia. I guess that is what I get naming her after the famous Russian Czar's daughter! And a name that means "the Resurrection"! No wonder I am resurrected from sleep on many occasions! Isabel means "God's promise" or "Covenant with God" which seems a bit more peaceful... with the exception that Isabel was a serious, noble conqueror as a Queen of Spain... so it will be interesting to see what her personality is like. There was a more peaceful Saint Isabel who aided the poor... so I am thinking a Saintly Queen might be somewhat calm!? I am reading "Raising The Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and while it has thus far mirrored Dr. Sears' book, it is always nice to read that other children are just as "Spirited" (and more!!!) and that they are the exception, not the rule. So maybe, dear Isabel will be a bit more mellow...

We have been busy with fruit again. Boy I love summer. My mom and I got a half bushel of peaches, most of which I froze. I made cobblers, pancake sauce and this morning we had peachy oatmeal. Yum. We also still have apples to deal with, and 2 pear trees the bugs have left alone! One has tiny red pears about 1-2 inches tall! They are very sweet and delicious and my pears have definitely been the most enjoyably ready-to-eat fruit we have harvested thus far. I think they may need to ripen another week though.

I have also been bit by the sewing bug. I made Anastasia ANOTHER doll. I guess princesses should have 2 anyway. I made "Olive" from the Wee Wonderfuls' pattern and couldn't be more thrilled! She turned out adorable and Anastasia seems to like her a bit more than the other doll I made. Plus I think she is bit more durable. I made her 3/4 of the original pattern size to make her more toddler-friendly. I also used one of Anastasia's old pink receiving blankets for the skin. Now that is what I call crafty! And I have a go-to pattern for an adorable doll for all the little ones in my life for birthdays or Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I am determined to make most of my gifts this year and to use as much fabric and materials as I already have on hand. I think this will ultimately challenge me quite a bit, and I feel like I should get started soon!! But what to make? That is the question! Once #2 comes along, it will take a while to achieve the balance I have finally found with raising one little girl so I feel like I should start knocking things out. I have a few basic ideas but not too many solid ones. Last year we did biscotti and coffee. I am considering something similar this year but maybe buying some cheap IKEA mugs and knitting "cozies" for them. I would like to knit some towels and washcloths out of Sugar and Cream yarn (cheap and easy) and make handmade soap, but handmade soap sounds scary. You aren't supposed to make it around kids and animals because it is toxic while cooking... so I doubt it is healthy for an unborn baby. We shall see what I come up with.
Oh, and one last thing. I used baking soda to wash my hair, and cider vinegar to condition it and it is super soft and really clean today. Cheap and chemical free is the way to go. I love sticking it to the corporations who get us to rely on their products that ruin the environment and our hair.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Unplugged: Rough

Unfortunately the internet hates me. For whatever reason I have had the hardest time posting and even connecting to the net. It works fine for Nick... but it hates me. Which is why I may not get pictures up tonight... because it is slower than molassass in January. ;) So I have been very unplugged lately... lol. Not only is the net all wacky for me, but our DVD drive (our only source of DVD action) on our laptop skips constantly about 30 minutes into a movie. So now, I could pass as rustic... but I can take a bath in my own tub with hot water and everything (as of last night) so I am atleast moving up in the world!

Anyhow, this weeks unplugged theme is "rough". On Friday Anastasia and I went for a very, very short hike (toddler and pregnant woman appropriate) to Passage Creek... a real gem less than 5 miles from our house. We stopped to feel "rough" and "smooth" things along the way including rocks and bark. I am not totally sure she got it, but thats okay. We thoroughly enjoyed a dip in the creek and throwing and skipping rocks. At home I collected some "rough" and "smooth" rocks, leaves, bark, sticks, and fabric to feel, and wrote "rough" and "smooth" on two different colored papers. Together we seperated the items. Anastasia rubbed the different things under her chin to get a better feel for them which cracked me up. She totally loved our little trip and handling the different natural objects. Some other cool ideas we may try are doing some bark rubbings, some watercolor salt paintings and making some texture cards. Check the Unplugged website for even more awesome ideas!