Archive | Parenting RSS feed for this section

Scrapbook: Home Harvest

26 Jan

I’m still catching up on photos and posts that should have run much earlier in year. At the time I was recovering from debilitating panic attacks so this post and a few others kind of got pushed aside. But I am really proud of my pumpkins and I want to show them to you! (That last sentence was not a euphemism. I swear.)

Aside from the herb garden, which I didn’t take a lot of photos of, we grew pumpkins, butternut squash, a sunflower, and marigolds. I count marigolds because they are a pest-repellant plant and I was specifically growing them for Day of the Dead decorations. Anthony accidentally cleared them out when he was weeding the garden at the end of the season (oops!) so I didn’t get to use them.

I’m really proud of our pumpkins. We were so infested with aphids that I was really worried we wouldn’t get any fruit but we managed to grow three fat orange globes. You can see the other two, plus a helpful PSA, here. Isobel was especially impressed with our pumpkins.

And the sunflower. Which was pretty magical for both of us. When I was thirteen I grew a patch of Russian Giant sunflowers that were easily 15 feet tall. My mom proudly took a picture of me standing next to them. I’ll have to show you someday. We only grew the one, and about half of the seeds are empty, but it was a really fun experience.

We didn’t even have to go to the pumpkin patch this year!

But of course we did, anyway.

The good thing about marigolds, besides the fact they are so cheerful and lovely, is that their petals each turn into a seed, so that by the time the plant has wilted you have enough seeds for a thousand plants. My friend Jake gave me plenty more seeds for next year.

Growing all of these plants was way easier than I thought it would be. Preparing the soil was most of the work done, and daily watering was a chore I had to do anyway. Plus Isobel loves to go outside. I can’t wait to start another garden this summer, but I’m not sure what we’ll grow.

Scrapbook: Little Icicles

23 Jan

I raise the blinds as I do every morning when I notice the entire yard is hung with crystals. Every branch, leaf, and blade of grass is coated in sparkly points of light. A hard freeze isn’t uncommon. But enough moisture for icicles is.

I pull on a sweater, scarf and coat and knot my tangled hair on top of my head. I pull rain boots on my feet that stop halfway up my pajama pants. My neighbors have seen me in pajama pants before. I decide not to worry about it. I grab my camera and shut the screen door so Isobel can see see and hear me. Absorbed in her game of tea all morning, I figured she wouldn’t miss me, but as soon as I step into the flower bed she starts to whine.

“Do you want to come outside with Mommy?”

More whining. A nod yes.

“It’s really cold. Are you sure?”

“I want to go outside with Mommy.”

I hurry back in. Already the morning is warming up. I have only a few minutes before the frozen diamonds melt and turn the ground to mud. Isobel is still in her pajamas, too, but I throw on some rain boots, a sweater and a coat before grabbing her hand to lead her outside.

“My pink purse!” she cries. We can’t forget that.

We step outside and I show her the icicles. The frozen grass crunches under our feet. We explore the flower bed and find unexpected bit of ice that sparkle like shards of glass scattered over the ground.

“The plants are coated with ice. Ice is what happens to water when it gets very cold. Water is ice and ice is water.”

“It’s pretty, mommy!”

“We have to enjoy it now because it won’t last.” I look at Isobel’s hand with her perfect, miniature nails, caressing a branch. I notice her expression, full of concentration. Her tiny body, engulfed by the jacket, little fist clutching her pink purse.

“We have to enjoy it. Because it won’t last.”

Scrapbook: Weekend

22 Jan

Fifty Thrifty Fun Things: Color on the Table

20 Jan

It sounds like a strange thing to say, but one of the best compliments I’ve ever received was from Anthony and it was about the thrifty and creative ways I’ve found to cheaply entertain Isobel. And it’s true: I pride myself on my ability to entertain her for minutes on end (precious, precious minutes!!–that sometimes add up to hours!) so I can do the dishes, drink a cup of coffee, or take a blissful dump in peace.

Many of you reading at home are parents, or perhaps spend some portion of your time with a young child. I’m willing to bet that readers here probably don’t have endless supplies of cash to spend entertaining your little ones, so this year I’m going to share at least 50 simple, accessible, and–most importantly–cheap ways to entertain your kids. Some of these ideas might give you a few blessed hours to yourself, and some of these activities you can revisit over and over again. If you’d like to share your best ideas for thriftily entertaining kids, I’d love to hear them.

50 thrifty idea, number one: cover your table with butcher paper, hand your kid a bucket of crayons and maybe some stickers and let them have at it.

The paper we used is actually packing material that came inside a package my mother ordered at Christmastime. She knows I collect paper like this to use for shipping items from my Etsy shop. That’s why it’s so crinkled. This time I spread  it on the table for Isobel to use instead of adding it to my shipping cupboard. It might end up there eventually, though.

The paper itself is like a very thin paper lunch sack. I like the way crayon and stickers look against the tan brown color. They really pop. I like it better than white paper, but it’d do just as good a job.

This activity bought me an hour. It probably would have given me longer but we had errands to run so I had to stop her.

When it was time to clean up I just rolled the paper up. It still has plenty of life left in it. I can rotate the side if she wants a clean slate to color on, or I can make it new buy letting her put stickers or water colors over the used areas. I just introduced her to the magic of stamps, so I’m sure this will be covered in ink pad markings and fingerprints before too long.

This is also great to save and pull out when she gets into Epic Coloring Mode. She can get so enthusiastic about coloring that she ends up going off the paper with her artistic zeal and then I have to scrub crayon off the table for the fifteenth billion time. She can color on top of this paper and I don’t have to tell her to slow her coloring roll.

Since the paper was repurposed and we already owned the crayons, this activity was free.

My sanity and a happy toddler? Priceless.

Crafty: The Heart-Shaped Box

17 Jan

I am so excited to finally share this project with you. I really didn’t do much in the way of handmade gifts for Isobel this year. Focusing on thrifting, hosting Christmas, and just being with my family took up most of my time so I thought I really wouldn’t bother with handmade gifts for Isobel. She is just swimming in toys and things she carries around to play with that aren’t toys, and I knew she’d be getting piles of stuff for Christmas, so it was easy to justify not making her a bunch of gifts. And I’ve already explained my theory of thrifted gifts and why I’m an asshole anyway. But, when the Pixie and I stopped by the craft store a week before Christmas to pick up supplies for the gift I was making my friends, I couldn’t pass up this sweet little paper heart box for 99 cents.

Using craft paint I already had, I used time when Isobel was with Grandma to paint layer after layer of pink paint on the brown paper surface. I decided to paint the inside of the box red to make it stand out more, which I don’t regret but made the whole thing more complicated because each mistake meant waiting for paint to dry to apply another layer to fix the errant blotches.

The craft store also had these fantastic jewels for three bucks, and I can’t think of a more perfect treasure to fit inside. Isobel adores her heart box, and I’m so glad I took the time to make it. Total cost of the project was less than five bucks. Although I made this as part of Handmade Christmas, wouldn’t this be the perfect Valentine gift, or even project, if your little one was school-aged? It could be filled with chocolate and covered with doilies or modge-podge.

Snapshot: Making Personal Threats & Isobel’s Pencil Room

16 Jan

– Since it’s been awhile since my last snapshot, and since so much has happened, I’m posting it early this week.

– The biggest news (besides me having the most annoying and stubborn cold on the planet) is that we moved Isobel’s big girl bed from our bedroom into the Pencil Room. The Pencil Room is officially Isobel’s big girl bedroom, and now we refer to it as “your pencil room.” The first day was rough. At first she was so excited when I told he we were going to move her bed that she tried to move it herself and then excitedly asked me to help her. Once we got the bed in the room and all set up for her nap, she pretty much cried from nap time to bedtime. She was m-a-d. After she got that out of her system it wasn’t a problem and she’s been sleeping in there fuss-free since the 7th. Anthony and I are so glad to have our room back (bow chicka wow wow) but it did make me a little sad at first. I was so ready for her to be out I didn’t expect to be sad. Having her in a different room after two and a half years of cosleeping was an adjustment for Mama as well as baby.

– I’m almost done decorating Isobel’s big girl room. I posted a sneak peek earlier on twitter. I still need to finish some organizational things and Anthony needs to hang the finishing touches, but once that’s done I’m going to share it here. Hopefully sometime next week!

Bethylicious nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! According to the meme I’m supposed to nominate fifteen people and list 7 random facts about myself. I always have trouble coming up with these, so how about we do something else: I will answer seven random questions put to me by readers, either here in the comments, or via email, or on twitter. If I get seven questions I’ll answer them in a post and then nominate my picks for the award. I’m betting there won’t be seven questions.Go ahead and take that personally. It’s a threat. Or something. Yeah.

– The lovely and talented Erica made this gorgeous shawl for me and I am over the moon about it. The deep green-blue color, the delightful scrunchiness of the wool, the fact that it was nothing but a mere string a few short days ago has me swooning for it. Thank you so much, Erica. I hope the basket of vintage goodies I’m about to send you is satisfactory.

Recent Photos:

Little Big Links

Scrapbook: Christmas Highlights

1 Jan

I’m not going to make you guys suffer through another long Christmas post (like I did last year). I’m sure your’ readers are chalk full of them, anyway. If you want the whole Christmas story, feel free to go here. These photos are just the highlights of our holiday celebration, made unfortunately short by the sharing of a family cold virus. Merry Christmas to all of us! Peace and joy to the world! Now let’s all huddle under a nest of blankets on the couch and play Mass Effect till our eyes fall out.

I Can’t Decide On Just One, So I’m Sending Them All

25 Dec

Thrifty Living: Christmas Finds

22 Dec

When Anthony and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment decorating for the holidays was easy. I had 500 or so square feet to work with and I Christmas’d the hell out of it. It was adorable, and when we finally bought our house I spent the first Christmas lamenting the apartment. The smallness of the space made my decorations seem much more abundant and adorable then they actually were. Which is why I spend time each year scouring thrift stores for decorations to add to my meager holiday stash.

Just like for Halloween decorations, Christmas decorations are abundant in thrift stores this time of year. My favorite charity shop is now selling all Christmas-related items at half off since in a few days they’ll have to pack it all up and store it away for next year.

Unlike Halloween decorations, the Christmas goodies you find while thrifting can be quite old and wonderful. Or not, such as the mess in the photo above. I bought that for a quarter while thrifting, and for a very special reason.

These adorable Italian mushrooms.

They have a wreath with their name on them. Or something else. I haven’t really decided. But the rest of the centerpiece wasn’t wasted. Zorro and Isobel spent a two full days entertaining themselves with it. After that I boxed up the rest of the holly sprigs that I thought I might use later and donated or threw away the rest.

I found this vintage place mat illustrated with hand drawn holiday decorations. Actually I found a whole set of them, but I’m keeping two. Isobel is kind of obsessed with her vintage dinosaur place mat right now so this mat is usually ignored, but I bet she’ll dig it next year.

I just found this crocheted decoration that’s hanging on my wall as is right now but I might turn it into a photo frame or add some more bells to it.

I have my grandmother’s angel chimes (the traditional kind, with angels instead of a carousel theme) but I always buy angel chimes whenever I find them. I love them and have found it’s useful to keep a couple sets around in case I lose a piece I have a spare. The cats go wild for them, though, so I have to keep them up high and mostly out of sight. I know people say that once you have kids you can’t have nice things, but really that applied to us before we had Isobel because we had cats.

You’ve seen these angels before, but I just had to show them off again. They are my favorite Christmas find this year.

In the same vein of the weird centerpiece in the photo above, I bought this Christmas mess for the parts. I love the holly sprigs and I managed to detach the apples and strawberries for Isobel’s Thrifted Kitchen. I’m using the extra pieces of greenery with birds attached to decorate wrapped Christmas presents. It also has fake plastic popcorn on this, which I’ve never seen before and is kind of hilarious.

But mostly I bought this basket for the teeny tiny mushrooms dotting the display. I pulled those off before Isobel could get to them and used the wire part to attach them to the small silver Christmas tree I used to put up at work.

New favorite ornaments.

Isobel was pretty stoked when I found these guys. It’s pretty obvious they’ve had a few owners. Modeled after these vintage characters that show up again and again in holiday decor of a certain era, these two characters had recently been abused by someone who really fugged them up.

Mrs. Frosty’s hat, candy cane, and scarf were removed and replaced and it took me awhile to pry the hideous buttons of both of them. Eventually I’m gong to repaint them and restore them to their former glory. But for now they’re hanging out on my porch.

It is I, the Christmas Asshole – A Thrifted Christmas

20 Dec

Anthony and I are not going to tell Isobel about Santa. We are the type of asshole parents that approach child-rearing with the aim to be as open and truthful (and developmentally appropriate) with our child as possible. That’s not to say she won’t find presents waiting for her under the tree on Christmas morning, or that we are going to squash other children’s belief in the big guy. She’ll know all the myths and stories about him, but they will remain just that: myths and stories. Besides, lots of people this time of year are so keen on telling everybody that Santa isn’t the reason for the season anyway, so I don’t think this deviation from the parenting norm should really be all that big of a deal.

To reiterate, though: I do not care if you wholeheartedly encourage your child to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Loch Ness Monster or the viability of a Republican candidate for the presidency. Santa is small potatoes in the big scheme of parenting and it’s not worth making a fuss over. I truly believe that in this regard parents make their own rules for the household and it’s not my place to judge. Or care.  So why don’t we focus on what matters: presents.

If Isobel asks why we don’t believe in Santa we are going to tell her about the universal spirit of generosity and goodwill Santa represents. It sounds better than saying, “Honey, we believe in science!” but it means the same thing. “Yes, we believe in science. That’s why this year you’re getting Quantum Presents this Christmas, my dear! This one’s from someone named Schrödinger. Your present may or may not be a dead cat. Don’t open the box, sweetheart! That ruins the mystery.”

Since we are embracing the Handmade & Vintage Christmas this year I have been saving up thrifted items for her since this summer. I can’t wait for her to discover these gifts under the tree:

BAM! You just got Care Bear Stared IN THE FACE! You now possess the uncontrollable urge to share.

Can you believe I found the vintage 1983 Care-A-Lot for thirty cents? Thirty cents! I nearly died. After I found that I won Funshine, Tenderheart, Cheer Bear, and Friendship Bear on eBay for seven bucks. Earlier in the year I made a major CB faux pas when I failed to remember the correct name is “Funshine Bear” instead of “Sunshine Bear.” Multiple people came forward to tell me what’s what. This lead Anthony and I to have a discussion about The Care Bears Cousins. Remember them? If you don’t I’ll jog your memory: their names, according to my perfect memory, were Lion-O, Trumpet Face, and Hippo. Since that incident I’ve collected several stuffed Care Bees (as they are known in my household) at thrift stores and yard sales.

Isobel spends about 90% of her daily vocalizations requesting I turn on the Care Bears. Of those times it’s an even split between asking if she can watch “Care Bears,” meaning the Big Wish movie, or “Different Care Bears” meaning any of the newer Care Bee movies that are out. Big Wish is by far her favorite, and I’ve had it on so often that I’ve unconsciously started singing the songs only to be found out and heckled by Anthony. LET YE WHO HAS NEVER SUNG ‘I LIKE FISH’ IN THE VOICE OF TOODEE CAST THE FIRST STONE, ANTHONY.

Before our household underwent a freeze on any non-crucial spending I did pick up a few other things while thrifting and out and about at Michael’s. These presents are for Isobel’s stocking. Er, except the globe, which won’t really fit. But damn, three dollars for a vintage globe that still includes Rhodesia and the USSR? That shit is coming home with mama.

I bought her two kazoos because she’s going to need one each for her and Kingston when he comes over to play. Last summer we got her together with the neighbor kids and made an impromptu marching band with their musical instruments. Imagine the melodious sounds of seven kids, all under the age of 11, banging on drums, wailing on the recorder, and clashing the cymbals as they marched down the street. A ruckus like that is a surefire way to make our property values skyrocket.

That train whistle in the photo above is supposed to be for ages 5 and up. This confuses me as it has no small parts and my child can exhale just as well, if not better than, your average five year old. That’s my baby! She sure can breathe out good.

The teapot we found while thrifting is going to make an excellent addition to her Thrifted Toy Kitchen.

I know many of you are participating in Handmade Christmas. Any one else out there doing a Thrifted Christmas as well?