Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Know You're a Mama of All Girls When...

I've got three little girls. No, not little in the sense that they're all under 10, but little in the sense that they're all under 5. Three little girl preschoolers in my home. As totally awesome as they are (They are the honey in my tea...or rather the sugar in my coffee. C'mon I'm a mama to three little girls; I need the ultra stuff.), they can be a complete riot at times. But I'm so crazy in love with each of them, as particular and unique as each one is, that I'd trade all the coffee beans in the world for them!

First, there's Naomi Simone, or as she used to refer to herself for the longest time: Naomi Simoni. Though I don't like using the phrase, for lack of a better word, she is a drama queen. Every emotion is fully felt and fully expressed, from "This is the worst day EVER and I'm just gonna die" to "OH MY GOSH this day is TOTALLY AWESOOOOOME!!!" She brings joy and life and excitement to every part of our home, since everything is a big deal. She forces me to see things as a child does, with excitement. (Well, unless she's in the pits of despair because she spilled her juice.) Once crazy about the color pink, she now says that red is her favorite color. I secretly think it's because her younger sister Mae is all about pink now and Naomi must distinguish herself. Naomi also thinks pink and red go perfectly together (and any form of stripes together, including pink and red).

Next is my sweet little MaeBalloon, AKA, Mae Juliette. At nearly three years old, she is the epitome of sweetness, cuddly cuteness and daintiness. But don't let those blonde curlies fool you, she is smart, with a vocabulary similar to her older sister's. Mae can entertain herself anywhere, anytime, and is perfectly content to sit quietly on my lap through a whole church service and possibly sleep. If there are no toys or crayons around, she can use her fingers to be little people and have whole conversations among them. With the sweet, there is hard-headedness as well, and hard to break stubbornness. It catches me off guard sometimes, but I know it's a fleeting thing that comes with the age of 2.

Lastly is my Illiana Sunshine, AKA Illy, AKA Baby Sunshine, AKA Illy Badilly, AKA Chilliana, AKA BillyPana (the girls give her lots of nicknames...as do my husband and I). Illy's not so girly girly yet; she's still all baby all over the place. At 10 1/2 months old, she is fast as lightening and adventurous. Today, I came downstairs and found her up on the couch, yet hanging halfway off the couch holding onto a giant potted plant with one hand and digging in the dirt with the other (somehow some of it made it into the mouth...blah). And yesterday, she came crawling at lightening speed towards me when I noticed something black on her chin. Thinking she'd gotten some dirt on her, I wiped it off and then looked at what it was: an even bigger BLAH, a chewed up boxelder bug. Her sisters found that amusingly disgusting. Illy is known to glean cheerios and other assorted dropped food from the kitchen floor, and she recently escaped into the bathroom and overturned Mae's little potty (that Mama forgot to empty). Despite all that, she is my piece of sunshine. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I go in to get her up before the other girls are awake, and she's sitting in her crib all smiley with her fuzzy blanket in hand and thumb in mouth. Then she smiles the biggest smile ever at me while reaching up for me!

So...you know you're a mama of all girls when...

1. You sort your laundry into darks, whites, and pink!
2. Your girls fight over who gets to be the "pink one"
3. You have naked Barbie dolls lying around everywhere; for us they're by the bathroom sink drying off after the girls' baths
4. Your children take forever in the bathroom because they have to make silly faces in the mirror for 5 minutes before actually "going" to the bathroom.
5. Or they take forever because they go to the bathroom together, with the door closed, chatting away for 10 minutes about princesses, stickers, pink, and dressing up
6. You get told, "That's so gross, mama; you should say excuse me" when you burp, but then you overhear them talking about poop, and pee, and eyeballs when you're not around.
7. The favorite cup is the strawberry cup with glitter inside of it.
8. You get asked to play Barbie's "The Princess and the Pauper" for the 10 zillionth time.
9. Your girls disappear when the babysitter shows up, only to come downstairs 5 minutes later decked out in a crown, high heels, scarves, and gaudy dresses to show the sitter how pretty they are.
10. You go shopping and pass the girls' clothing section and you child goes, "Oh this is cute. Oh, and I love this dress. Oh, and this is beautiful, mama."

I love my girls. They rock my world with pink and glitter. AND, they like to go hiking and camping, and climb things, and watch Dinosaur Train.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Easy Early Reading Game

My oldest daughter, Naomi, is 4 1/2, and I've been teaching her how to read this year as part of her homeschooling. Since she's only at the 4K grade level (or, in Ambleside Online terms, Year 0), I'm not doing too much with her for school. Mostly Bible verses, Bible stories, cooking, lots of art, writing letters, and easy math. But the most intensive thing I do with her is reading. She's so good with letters, and her vocabulary is awesome, so I figured I'd go ahead and start early with her. I'm amazed that after just a few weeks, she was reading 2-letter words and now 3-letter words.

I've been using the book, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise (Classical Homeschooling method guru). It's great, because everything is scripted out for the parent who has never taught a child how to read before. I don't do as many repetitions as Wise recommends because my daughter just gets bored with it. We recite the "poems" like rap songs sometimes to make it more fun! My favorite part is that there are no goofy games added in as filler and fluff. I just don't like that kind of stuff. Yes, learning should be fun and engaging, but not just busywork. My daughter needs to know that what she's learning has a point and a value to it. She spends plenty of other time playing.

However, there are a few education games in the book as optional activities that are pretty fun! One is "Mix and Match Words." Here's how you can do it yourself:

Take 12 notecards and cut them in half width-wise (so you have 24 cards 3" by 2 1/2"
With one colored marker, write the following combinations on 8 of the cards (one combination per card):

  • ip, in, ib, it, im, id, ig, ix
  • These are word ending cards
On the rest of the cards, use a different colored marker and write one of each of the following letters on a card:

  • b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, y, z
  • These are beginning letter cards

Now, take the word ending card with it written on it and put it in front of your child. Then gather these beginning letters: s, h, f, b, k, l, p. Turn them over so that you can't see what's written on it. Have your child pick one and put it in front of the word ending card and read the word she made. If she reads it correctly, she gets the card; if not, it goes back in the "upside down" pile of beginning letters. Keep playing until your child has "won" all the beginning letters.

Here are other combinations to use:

  • it with s, h, f, b, k, l, p
  • ig with b, d, f, j, p, w
  • id with k, l, d, h, r
  • im with d, h, r
  • ib with b, r, f
  • in with p, f, b, s, w, k, t, d
  • ip  with l, r, s, t, h, d, n, z, y
  • ix with  s, f, m
This is a fun game to play, and you can add to it with 3 letter words made with the other four short vowel sounds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Softie Plushie Dolly

Lately, I've become way intrigued by the Japanese kawaii stuff. It's all over the place in the crafting, blogging, sewing world. And I've been checking out "softies" lately. The girls and I looked at tons of pictures online of softies people have made and posted. Of course, they wanted all of them, so I saved a few images to my computer and decided to design and make softies for them for Christmas. So far, I've just created Mae's. It's cute, but I would have made it slightly smaller if I were to redo it.

The finished softie doll

Here's what I did:

1. I drew a sketch of a softie that I wanted to create based on Mae's likes

2. I drew all the "pattern" parts I'd need to cut out

3. I cut out the "pattern" pieces and then cut out the corresponding fabric pieces

(2 of the skirt pieces, 2 of the top pieces, 2 of the face pieces, 1 hair piece, 4 leg pieces, 4 arm pieces,4 ear pieces, 2 ear pieces from batting)

4. I sewed two arms and two legs and turned the pieces inside out and stuffed them.

5. I sewed the ears together with batting and turned those inside out.

6. I sewed the face together and turned it inside out and then top stitched around the edge. I added buttons for eyes and sewed a tiny smile with red thread in a backstitch.

7. I laid the hair over the face where I wanted it and folded it slightly over the back and stitched it into place all around.
8. I sewed the face to one of the top pink pieces using a hidden stitch like I use for hemming.

9. I sewed one top piece to a bottom piece and laid it flat right side up.

10. I laid the arms and legs and ears pointing inwards where I wanted them on top of the piece I just laid flat.

11. Then I sewed the other top piece to the other bottom piece and laid it right side down on top of the arms, legs, ears, and other side of body and pinned into place.

12. I stitched all the way around, leaving one corner open for stuffing. Then I stuffed it and sewed it shut.

13. I added trimmings (you could do this prior to sewing up the doll): a button that I sewed into place going all the way through the doll (so stuffing wouldn't slide around) and an apron that I cut out of an piece of curtain trim.

This is not meant to be a perfect tutorial. I mostly made it up as I went along (which meant mistakes). I've never made a stuffed doll before, so this is my first attempt and Mae is my guinea pig. Now, I'm sure I'll have to make one for Naomi, too, for Christmas!

I'm a novice sewer, so if I can make something up like this, you can too! Try it out and link back here with pictures!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Merry SITSmas!

What is SITS for all those who don't know...Curious? Check it out here.

This is me. Jessie.

Anyway, 2009 is almost calling it closing time, and I decided to make end of year resolutions this year instead of New Years' resolutions. That way I only have a few weeks to start doing the things I need to do instead of 52 weeks to procrastinate doing those things and then forgetting all about them.

Here's what's on my short list. I make short lists so I don't feel like a failure when they don't get completed.

1. Practice banjo daily. Even 15 minutes is awesome!
2. Pray more. ("praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" Eph. 6:18)
3. Make time for the creative juices to actually flow out: poetry, art, music, sewing, etc.
4. Not be drunk on wine but be filled with the Spirit. (just FYI, I don't get drunk on wine ever...this is also from Ephesians)
5. Don't start any new books until I've finished the ones I'm currently reading. (so hard, so hard to do)

That's it. My end of year resolutions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow, Christmas, Coloring Pages, and Dum Dum Pops

This morning the girls and I decorated the tree with ornaments. We don't have a real tree; it just seems kind of ridiculous (yet fun) to spend $40 on something that we'll just throw out in a few weeks. However, even with some of the lights not working and a sparsity of ornaments, it still just feels nice to have a tree up in the house. It gives this time of year more of a special feel. And the girls LOVE it! Illiana came down stairs this morning to see her first ever Christmas tree and smiled big, probably wondering what it was all about. I thought she'd take off crawling towards it right away, but she just sat by me staring and smiling. She's such a sweet baby!

I'm thinking of making some sort of garland with Naomi as part of homeschool to spruce it up a bit (no pun meant), but am still looking at the options. For now, the girls are coloring away on their new coloring pages I printed up from Elsie Marley. She's putting up one page a day from her hand drawn Advent coloring book (which can also be purchased from her Etsy store).

Here are the links for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7. Stay tuned to her page each day for more pages to print and color.

To add to all the excitement, the girls woke up to--not just the tree up--but a snow covered ground and fat flakes falling down! After breakfast, they went outside to play in it, and of course, eat it!!

Here are some shots of all the happenings:

Mae's beautiful artwork

Naomi's colorful mittens

Even Mama colored a page that Mae shared with her

Mae's window marker creation

Naomi's window art with a snowy background

And the giant bag of Dum Dum Pops we've all been chowing
My favorite so far is the coconut flavor (what's yours?)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Handmade Gifts for the Girls!

I was sick pretty much everyday after Thanksgiving, so I had plenty of time to sit, or lay, around and sew. So, I took the opportunity to make some doll clothes for my two oldest girls and some little booties for my baby girl.

This will be the dress for Naomi's American girl doll, Elizabeth, that she's getting for Christmas. The pattern was free, and I found it here. It's called a wedding dress, hence all the whiteness. But I'm thinking of adding some crocheted flowers or ribbon or something to it. I think Naomi would appreciate that.

This is the front view. It should fit any 18" doll.

This is a view of the back. The pattern did not call for any kind of closure at the top, so I figured a button would work. I just used one of the spaces between stitches for the button hole.

And here is the dress I made for Mae's doll she is getting. I don't know exactly what size her doll will be, but I'm assuming not as tall as an American Girl. This is using the same pattern, except I did fewer rounds at the bottom and ended with two rounds of single crochet instead of one. I also added a round of trim that was 1 single crochet then two chains in each stitch. Makes it kind of ruffly. Finally I added a ribbon that was simply a chain stitch and weaved it through the middle.

This is the front view. I had these three colors, but not enough of one to make a full dress, so I made a tri-color dress. I actually like it better than the solid white!

And this is the back.

I love this pattern because it's so easy and works up super fast. It uses mostly double and single crochet with a few v-stitches (which is just dc & ch stitches). My favorite part is that it is sewn in one piece, so no joining parts together! And you know what that means! Fewer ends to weave in! Unless you change colors like I did with Mae's doll's dress.

Finally, here are the little booties I made for Illiana from this pattern here. I had to change the pattern quite a bit through, because my babies have all had fat feet and these booties just didn't cover those chubby baby feet. I added a few more stitches per row and moved the strap back a row to have it more centralized on the foot. These also were worked in one piece and super quick.