Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aquarium-inspired Craft

I have been thinking about an ocean-inspired flannel board for a while now, ever since we did the felt Christmas tree with felt decorations.

After our trip to the aquarium, Esther's enthusiasm for fishies grew, and I was motivated to get back on track with this project. Here's the big picture:

And a zoom-in...

And another...

For this project, I grabbed one or two of each of the solid colors of felt at JoAnn's. They were having a 4-for-$1 sale, good deal! Then I grabbed a bunch of colored Sharpies and drew shapes, mostly with dots.  There are a few solid lines, but very few. You can see the faux-pointillism in the pic above, with a textured starfish and randomly-shaped reef.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Aquarium Trip

A while back, we went to the Baltimore Aquarium with family friends.  Esther loves fish, and raved for days about the "silly dolphins" who splashed us and gave us "mess hair" during the dolphin show.

This inspired me to get to work on a project I had been thinking about for a while... you'll see it tomorrow. For now, just a few pics from the day.

This is Gram, family friend, Esther, and FF's special teddy bear. This was the outside-under of the dolphin tank.

This is Esther busily adoring some turtles. We watch "A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventure" quite frequently on Netflix, a cute eco-friendly, kid-friendly, not-particulalry-girl-friendly movie that Esther enjoys.  She kept calling the turtles Sammy and Shelly, the main characters of the movie.

Gram took this on her phone. You can see we've been splashed by the silly dolphins. Here's my fearless girl petting some kind of hissing cockroach. It wasn't hissing at the moment, but that dude was huge.  And a cockroach. And she was all ready to pick it up and bring it home or something.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Super Esther!

I bought Esther a PJ shirt at le Target that has a cape velcroed to it at the shoulders. She called it her SuperWhy* shirt, and would wave the cape around. She always wants to be carried up and down the stairs, but I said, "SuperEsther can do it herself!" And she did! She ran up the stairs like the super-toddler she is.

She got to where she asked for it every night, and since I don't do laundry every single day, it was not always available. So I came up with these.

These are "capes" that I made from some of her too-small dresses.  I just cut out the neck in the back, and kept cutting in two diagonal lines from there to the bottom of the front, like a big triangle. These are dresses that have some kind of button closure around the neck so that the capes can come on and off, but I suppose you could just use any ole neck-band and just pull it over your kid's head, as long as their bigger-kid noggins still fit through the too-small clothes.

I'm trying to think of the super-hero names that might go with these...

*Super Why is a TV show on PBS/Sprout where these kids have reading/spelling/alphabet/rhyming superpowers. Reading as a super power? I am so on board!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Humility revisited

I spoke about Humility a while back... Here.

But I just found a quote that speaks to the topic so concisely:

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself. 
It's thinking of yourself less."

This is C.S. Lewis, who has some other very handy quotes and wise insights, but this one seemed to fit right in with what I was talking about...

So there it is. That is all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Weeks Without Esther

Every month, Esther goes to see her dad for a week. It involves a lot of travel (which costs a lot of money), but for a million or so reasons, it's what we do.
These weeks totally make me understand the Elizabeth Stone quote:

When my heart has traveled to a different time zone in a far-away state, my soul feels instantly deflated, darker, and less whole. I am grumpier, more tired, more sarcastic, and my sleep cycle becomes (even more of) a mess.

On the other hand, in the week before Esther goes away, I remember that she'll be gone soon, so I try to soak her in and snuggle her more.  And in the week when she gets back, I am so relieved and joyful that my heart has returned, that I revel in her presence.  (Of course, I still have to tell her to stop banging her spoon on the table, and I still have to remind her to use her words, but, I get to tell her to stop banging her spoon on the table! She's here, and she has words she can use!) In the week she's away, I think I'll be glad to sleep through the night without the weird noises from her monitor, or her crying out in the night or talking in her sleep.  But really, I miss the buzzing and the little mumbles. 

The darkness? depression? of her departure each month make it hard to do what I promised I would do: make time to take care of myself. You would think I could be more productive without my two-year-old around, but it's not true. I sleep. I zone out into my computer. I don't even sew/craft/knit more when she's gone.

I know this needs a change in attitude, a change in perspective.  I imagine that if I am intentional about doing things for me in this week, then maybe I'll begin to be a bit more ok with it. Maybe someday I'll appreciate the time, but I'm not there yet. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fuzzy blankie

One of Esther's fave blankies was given to her by one of my besties when she was just a few weeks old.  It's super-soft and super-cute, but Esther is getting way too long/tall for it.  So I decided I'd make one basically just like it: super soft on one side and pretty fabric on the other.

Esther's also into polka dots: she calls them bubbles.  The teal fabric was also from the remnant bin at JoAnn's.  The fuzzy stuff is slippery and stretchy, making it a little bit hard to work with.  But it's also wonderfully soft, and I spent the whole time petting it.  Luckily, I had enough left over to make myself a tiny throw pillow for my bed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lacing Toy

Esther has shown an interest in tying my shoes lately.  Or maybe I should say, untying.  She really likes pulling the laces out of my sneakers entirely.

She also likes trying to tie things.  Here she is with my uncle after she untied his shoes...
So instead of having to re-lace my sneakers every other day, I decided to make Esther a lacing toy.  You've seen them: they're plastic shapes with holes around the edges and they come with shoelaces...

I found some laces in the clearance section of the shoe department at Target, but everything else was stuff I had on hand.

As the mother of a toddler, I have a few diaper boxes laying around.  They're good cardboard!

I have a few old coffee table books that have some great pictures but don't really serve much purpose in my life right now. I've been contemplating ways to upcycle them or their pics...

I tore out two pics and mod-podged (is that a verb?) them to the cardboard. I cut out shapes with a utility knife.

Then I used a hole punch to... punch holes (duh) around the edges of the pic.  BONUS: Esther learns about Van Gogh at a young age! 

I finally finished with varnish.  I deliberately painted it thickly on the edges and in the holes, and I applied three or four coats, front and back.

The finished product with laces!

This whole task made me realize that I will someday have to teach Esther how to tie her shoes.  That sounds like a really hard parenting challenge. Props to all you parents whose kids know how to tie shoes!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New favorite nightgown

 I mentioned I'd started sewing... it started with a quilt for my niece, which was supposed to be a day-of-birth present, but which ended up being a first birthday present! In between, I took a sewing class in which I re-learned how to use a machine.
For the class, we were taught how to make a reversible child's dress. It was fun and I learned a lot, but more importantly, it whet my appetite for sewing!

Since my first quilt, this is probably one of my favorite projects. It's a really easy pattern that involves a piece of elastic around the neck.  It's how you finish the top of the front, back, and sleeves, making it super easy to complete.  (The pattern calls for elastic in the arms, too, but I like them fluttery... and it's easier this way.)

The fabric is a cotton knit that I pulled out of the remnant bin at JoAnn's. It's lucky that Esther is still small, because the remnant bin is half off, and the pieces are all less than a yard! I had to work with stripes for the first time, which I found to be helpful-- I'm not always so great at sewing a straight line! The knit of the fabric meant I didn't have to hem the bottom ruffle, either.  Jersey rolls up with just a little tug, making it looked finished-ish enough.

Esther likes this one because it's comfy.  It's her first nightgown. Sometimes when I check in on her at night, it is tangled up around her chest (she is a shifty sleeper!), but I tug it down and she doesn't seem to notice.

Here it is in person, one night while Esther was doing my hair before bed:

Here's the pattern: Simplicity 5695


I've been sewing a lot lately!
I bought this machine from a nice lady on Craigslist... It's an old Kenmore, surely older than me!

I'll be sharing some of my sewing projects and some other stuff I've been doing...