Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Changing station to bird-watching station

I've been wanting to set up a bird-watching station for Lucy ever since reading this post, but I didn't have the right spot. But when I dismantled the changing station we've had on our office window seat for the past year and a half, we suddenly had a perfect spot. As soon as we thought of it, we had to do it (excuse the horrible evening photos!). We made some pinecone birdfeeders and hung them in the bush right outside the window:

Come and get it, birds!

We gathered some bird books, and watched and waited for the birds to arrive.

They didn't come right away, so we contented ourselves with reading bird books. As Lucy looked at this book, she recognized something, and asked me to find it in this book:

Sure enough, two almost-identical pictures of a cedar waxwing.

And then, of course, we had to play around with the binoculars, just in case:

(Oh, and the hat? Andi made it; details here. Isn't it the cutest thing?)

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to get your toddler out of diapers in 4 easy steps

1. Spend 2 precious, rare, weekend hours to yourself sewing two new pairs of longies. When you find out they're too small, in a fit of frustration, spend tons of money to purchase two pairs of longies.*

2. Buy a pattern for big butt baby pants, designed especially to fit over bulky cloth diapers. Cut out fabric to make a pair. Cut it out again, because you foolishly cut the corduroy in the wrong direction.

3. Begin crocheting a pair of longies. Realize they're coming out too big, but continue on because she can wear them at some point.

4. Realize they're all unnecessary, because your baby has outgrown the need for diapers**.
*I must say, they were worth every penny; and no, I have no connection to this company. She'll continue to wear them as super-warm longjohns.

**After 17 years of teaching young children and advising parents on toilet learning, I learned about EC shortly before Lucy was born. It sounded like a great idea--for parents who could be one-on-one with their baby all day. But for a teacher of 6 toddlers? No way. So I put it out of my mind until she was 5 months, when I read some more about it and decided maybe I could do it part time. The first time I put her on the potty, she peed, and I was sold. I have been amazed and stunned by the whole process ever since. Hurray for teaching old dogs new tricks!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tiny blue cowl

I'm thankful for some time to crochet--enough time to actually complete a project! If all goes well, I should be posting several completed gifts in the coming weeks.

This one didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped. It's nice, but not as the gift I'd intended. It's due to my inexperience with yarn. The pattern called for bulky yarn, so I went out shopping, because I had none in my stash. But what on earth does "bulky" mean? There were yarns labeled "bulky" that looked just as thin as anything else I've used, and some that were as big around as my pinky! How could those possibly be the same thing? I clearly chose the wrong "bulky" in this case, as this cowl came out significantly smaller than I'd hoped. It's modeled here by my wife, but fits my toddler better. I think Andi will be keeping this one (it matches her eyes), and I'll try again with thicker yarn. I do hope the next one comes out cute; I think the pattern has great potential!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unofficial Yarn Along

There's technically no yarn along today, but I've been having fun doing them, so here's what I've been crocheting and reading this week:

I'm still reading Velva Jean Learns to Drive, and though I haven't yet finished Lucy's diaper cover, I've begun working on this capelet as a Christmas present. I have this vision of three cousins lined up for a Christmas photo in matching capes, but we'll have to see how much gift-making I manage in the next month (once again, I've waited too long to get started on all the ideas I have). I think it's coming out pretty cute! I struggled with the increases, ripping out one row over and over because the close-together stitches were bunching up in a way that left me wondering just where exactly I was supposed to put my next stitch, but I'm past that all now and just doing the same cluster of stitches over and over. Fly, fingers, fly!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Books for my bird-loving babe

Writing about books yesterday reminded me that I never gave you a closer peek into my recently-found treasures, as promised. Here's a start.

I have a bird-lover in the house. Lucy and I have spent tons of time watching our chickens, the turkeys at the farm, the sparrows outside the window by her potty, the crows in the compost bin. She can identify a "dee dee" (chickadee) by its song. She nightly asks for "story: birds" as I put her to sleep. So when I spotted this book at the book sale, naturally, I snatched it right up.

It wasn't until I brought it home and took a closer look that I recognized it. A few years back, I'd had it out of the library at the school where I then taught, renewed and renewed and renewed for a group of children who were interested in learning how to paint birds. We'd used its large, simple illustrations as models for many of our own paintings.

Lucy loves them, too. Most of the birds are ones we've seen, and it's become routine for us to discuss on each page "Mama know? Me know?" (In other words, do you know that bird, mama? Do I?) At the moment, we just look at the pictures, name the birds, and talk about our personal connections to each one. Later, we'll enjoy reading the text.

And then, I spotted this one. Oh, was I excited! Pretty much, if it's by Brian Wildsmith, it's going into my bag. But this had the added bonus of being about birds...

...and fascinating vocabulary. (It gives the language for groups of various birds, as in "A wedge of swans. A sedge of herons.") We love looking at the gorgeous illustrations, and repeating the intriguing words.

Lucy particularly enjoys this illustration of turkeys, which reminds her of those at "our" farm.

One of the things I love so much about vintage books is their beautiful, artistic illustrations. So many of today's books are super-realistic (photos) or condescendingly cutesy-cartoonish. Books like these respect children's intelligence while offering up artistic inspiration. Lucy and I can't get enough!

Let me know if you enjoy these reviews. If so, I'd love to share more of my finds with you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along 3

Hmm...apparently, if it weren't for Ginny's yarn along, I wouldn't have a blog right now. Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Life has taken over. Here are the most-pleasant bits of it:

Taking a cue from some of the other participants, I decided to add a few of our most-read children's books of the week, as well.

This week, I'm reading Velva Jean Learns to Drive. I received it recently from PaperBack Swap, and I think I originally read about it on the Indie Next List from my local bookstore. After Little Bee, I was feeling the need for a lighter read. So far, I'm enjoying this one quite a bit.

I'm still working on the same diaper cover. It's coming out pretty huge. Crossing my fingers it'll work anyway.

The most-requested read-alouds of the week?

Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper. We have this one out from the library, but must buy it. It's the (nearly) wordless story of how beaver got carried off to the city by a logging truck, and how he returned. It's one of Lucy's current favorites--especially perfect after a recent trip to Boston (the setting?) and recent readings of Make Way for Ducklings (subtly referred to in the illustrations). She sighs with relief at the end, saying "no lost!" But if your child is older, don't hesitate to check it out--the 5-year-olds love it just as well.

Mouse, Look Out! by Judy Waite and Norma Burgin. This super-suspenseful tale is a perennial favorite here. If I read it once, I have to be prepared for four or five readings in a row. One child, who was sad at drop-off time every day, stopped once I brought this book out--now he comes in asking for it.

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak. Lucy's other current favorite: she asks for "dee-dee-dee-oh" (its first line), and quotes along with much of it. Delightfully-childlike nonsense. Again, perfect for my 21-month-old, but also great for older kids.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yarn Along 2

Well, this could get boring quickly at the rate I am reading and crocheting these days--the photo would be the same each week! So, here's a bit of a cheat--I actually finished crocheting this hat last week, and it just needs a bit of sewing (the button band and button) before it's complete. This will be a Christmas gift (the first I've made this year), so I guess I stuck to my resolution a little bit--it's not December yet, anyway! I'm still reading Little Bee, and enjoying it quite a bit, though there are some truly gruesome scenes I'd rather not have in my mind.

The hat's brim is a little wonky--probably because I used a soft cotton (due to a sensitive recipient who wouldn't put up with the wool I'd prefer). But the pattern was great, and I look forward to making another.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend outing: Sturbridge

We bought a new chicken coop this weekend, and it was more than an hour's drive to pick it up, so we decided to make a day of it and visit Old Sturbridge Village while we were in the neighborhood. I hadn't realized just how big it was--we were only able to see a tiny bit of it, being on toddler time as we were.

I found myself especially interested in the things that define my daily life these days: home, food, and children:

A simple and practical kitchen set-up:

Watermelons stored up in the attic (in November? I'll have to try that!):

A sweet sleeping corner that reminded me of Laura and Mary:

A trundle bed:

A beautiful baby's bed to keep out the drafts:

A potty seat sized just right for toddlers (fascinating from an EC perspective--no preschooler would fit in this chair):

A cozy scene by the fire with knitting and toys:

A beautiful, tiny, child's desk under a window:

There was lots to engage Lucy, too. Her special request was a ride on the stagecoach:
"Horses! Me in?"

She tried out a butter churn:

And even got to "milk" a "cow."

I really look forward to future visits; a homeschooler's haven, I think!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The shelves are groaning

And speaking of books...

I got a few more at a recent library sale.

All my spare computer time has been going to cataloging these (thus the lack of posts).

Oh, my goodness, what treasure! It was painful to leave behind the hundreds and hundreds of children's books I didn't buy. Several closing elementary schools' libraries were there, and I felt like I had to rescue these books! As soon as I'm finished getting the heaps out of my dining room, I'll post about some of these vintage goodies.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yarn Along

I love Ginny's idea of a "yarn along," which she's hosting at her blog Small Things (share what you're reading and what you're making in a photo: two kinds of "yarns.") I talk about kids' books here a lot, but rarely about what I'm reading (why is that?), and I haven't had many finished projects to share lately, so this seems like a perfect opportunity to share stuff in-the-works.

I'm reading Little Bee, which is described on the cover (by the New York Times Book Review) as "an affecting story of human triumph," and I surely hope it is, because so far it's an affecting story of devastation. I could use a little triumph right now.

And I'm crocheting a pair of longies for Lucy. I sewed her two pairs with two very-rare hours to myself this weekend--and they didn't fit!! I was so upset to have wasted the precious time. So I'm really hoping this pair will work out well. I chose a super-plain organic wool from my gifted-from-a-friend stash (thanks, Melissa!) in the hopes that this pair will be able to go under any dress she might wear this winter.

And here's how projects in the works usually look around here: