Friday, December 27, 2013

Busy Books for Christmas

For Christmas this year, I decided to make my two little munchkins Quiet Books, or Busy Books as they're also called. The countless creative pages pop up all over Pinterest, and I thought to myself, "I can do this!" So I happily got to work and found myself spending many evenings planning, cutting, sewing, and fixing. I originally was only going to make one for Little Olive (who's now four years old) but soon realized I had made too many pages to fit in one book. So I started planning a second book for Little Huck (who is now two).

What surprised me very quickly while making these is that, while none of the page designs were "hard", they were extremely time-consuming and sometimes very tedious. I thought I could whip up a book in a day or two, stuff the pages with batting, and sew them up! Ooh did I have much to learn.

It was really a humbling experience for me. I have seen Busy Books being sold on Etsy for $60, $50, and I always thought to myself, "Really? For a simple cloth book?" Now I appreciate those prices. I honestly spent six hours on each book - easily. Possibly more, and I am not exaggerating to be dramatic. (And you will probably not believe me once you see the uneven seems or off-center applications.) But during the process of sewing each page, I thought to myself many times, "If I were to give myself an hourly rate, I would absolutely price these like those other shops."

It made me realize that something homemade should be appreciated and priced higher than a product on a toy shelf at Target or Toys R Us. These homemade items, while expensive, take hours to make! Not to mention the materials to make them.

It also made me realize that my time is very valuable. I spent so many evenings in December working on these books, and I just want to encourage everyone to pause for a moment the next time you're considering purchasing something from a small business. Yes, the price may be higher than if you ran to a local store. But keep in mind that every single cent of your purchase will mean the world to that shop owner. 

Now that I've stood on my soapbox a bit, here are the finished products! (And cut me some slack, hehe. I have not sewn much at all the past year or so, and these are proof of my slipping skills! But I still love them and am proud of them! )

Little Olive's is on the left. Little Huck's is on the right.



 


Little Olive loves to collect treasures, so I started her book out with a zipper pouch. I may regret this when it's filled with hundreds of tiny pieces of paper. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!





 She's starting to write words and asks me how to spell things, so I thought this would help her recognize some important ones.




Learn to braid and tie a bow!



Play with hair and tell time. She knows 6:00 very well; it's when we watch a movie every night.



I took a risk with this page because she loves cutting beads off of things. But if they survive, they will help her learn to add and count, fine motor skills, etc.






The first page of Huck's book was inspired by Olive who loves to announce, "Green means go, red means stop, and yellow means sllllooooow down!"



Huck loves to sign "I love you" to my mom. He also likes to wear things on his hands. 
My hand is too big.



Huck is such a little thinker and likes to figure things out...so I think these will be right up his alley.




Simple counting and learning numbers!



Who doesn't like a fun zipper page? :)


After making each one, I highly recommend purchasing a grommet puncher and make grommet holes like I did for Little Huck's book. It is MUCH easier than trying to sew up the thick materials, and not to mention extremely fun. Another reason I wish I had thought of when making Little Olive's, is that now Huck's has the flexibility of being updated, fixed, or rearranged easily without having to take the entire book apart. Just something to consider! :)


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"You're (Not Always) A Good Mom!" But you can make it right.

You've probably seen one of those "You're a good mom" pictures or blog posts floating around, where a well-intended author tries to bridge a gap between parenting styles and leave everyone with a warm and fuzzy feeling about their own individual parenting decisions. I say "well-intended" because oftentimes parents are either full of guilt or gloat based on what is going on in their family, and these authors attempt to put everyone at ease and say "NO MATTER WHAT, YOU'RE A GOOD MOM!" If you haven't seen what I'm referring to, I'll give you a few examples of them:

To the woman who lets her 14 year old still use a pacifier because it creates security, you're a good mom.
To the woman who lets her 2 minute old baby cry it out because she just needs a good night's sleep for once, you're a good mom.

To the woman who won't allow her child to consume any sugar to the point of making him wear a facemask at birthday parties out of fear that he might inhale sugar particles, you're a good mom.
To the woman who feeds her child pink-slime-chicken-nuggets every single lunch and dinner because that's what junior likes to eat, you're a good mom.

To the woman who uses all of her stay-at-home-mom time to keep her house immaculate and doesn't even remember what her children's faces look like, you're a good mom.
To the woman who hasn't seen the bottom of her sink in weeks and keeps clothes on the floor to cover the cockroaches, don't worry. You're a good mom and you're doing a great job!

There comes a point when we have to draw a line here. I am all about bending the rules and doing what needs to be done to get through the long days, but the truth of the matter is that sometimes, we are not always good moms! Sometimes we are downright sucky. (And no, I'm not going to follow that sentence by saying "And that's ok!") It happens, I know. It happens to the best of us. We do stuff we are not proud of. Whether it's because of ignorance, arrogance, laziness, selfishness, pride, anger, or fear - let's be honest, sometimes we just stink at the whole parenting thing.

As someone who's learning every single day about the whole parenting thing, I am not looking for someone to reach through my computer screen and pat me on the back saying, "It's okay - you're a good mom." I'd rather they reach through, give me a hug, and say, "I know. I've been there before. Now make it right." Better yet, I wish they'd hand me a WAY to make it right.
 
http://www.connectionparenting.com/
Well, I'm doing that tonight! After a couple years of hearing about this book, and after a year of it sitting on my shelf, I finally read it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "Connection Parenting" by Pam Leo.

This is, by far, THE most amazing book I have read on parenting - ever. "Parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear."

No, this is not some floofy floffy "let your child decide whether it's time to pick up his toys or not" book. This is a book that is short, to the point, and remarkably eye-opening. It talks about connection between parents and children, but the cool thing is that it is entirely applicable to all relationships, even the people you interact with on a short, daily basis.

I am not going to tell you the whole book, although I do wish I could copy and paste the entire thing into this blog post because every single sentence spoke right to my heart. The way she writes makes it so easy for the reader to "get it". She doesn't lay out scripts for every challenging scenario you'll have with your child because she doesn't need to. Instead, she presents the compassionate, respectful, and helpful education needed to connect with them before, during, and after those upsets occur. (Ian and Marie, if you read this, that reference was for you guys.)

She does this by showing just how important it is to build a healthy level of self-esteem and self-worth. Many people scoff at this notion and make fun of parents who are aware of their children's self-esteem. The ironic thing, though, is that almost ALL of our behavior is based on self-esteem. Whether people are trying to prove something, over-compensate for something, compete with someone, are afraid of doing something, or maybe won't stand up for themselves - it all comes down to self-esteem and self-worth. My husband and I talk all the time about how so many of the current issues our world faces are centered around self-esteem, and how finding a balance between low and high self-esteem could end wars, stop greed, end the need for pornography, stop child abuse/molestation, end violence, etc. How can we NOT see the importance of this part of ourselves, and our children?

There is no single factor more radical in its potential for healing the world than a transformation in how we raise children.
-Marianne Williamson

It might be very easy for seasoned parents to hear about this book, or even read it, only to blow it off. Or feel so guilty about past actions that their feelings block their ability to go forward and make change. Don't let that happen. Everything in here makes so much sense...all it takes is for you to set aside that pride and be willing to see the beauty and love that can come from these connections.

I'm not claiming to be a pro, nor do I think all tensions will subside between me and my Little Olive since reading this book, but I do know that what Pam Leo talks about works. Tonight after finishing reading this book, I immediately was able to put into action the advice she gives. My mindset was completely different while addressing frustrating issues than it had been a couple days before. I will read this book once a week if needed to help me carry out the way I want to parent.

In my humble opinion, so should you! So go on...go buy this book, read it and have a good cry (emotional healing!), then put your big girl panties on. Leave your ego at the door and make things right (restitution!). It's never too late! 

Who's with me?






Friday, May 17, 2013

What's going on, folks?

Well, hello!

After helping my sister set up her blog the other night, I realized how much I've really missed sitting down every once and a while and telling the blogging world things they probably don't really care about. No, I'm just teasing. I love blogs, and reading others' blogs, and blogging myself. I have just put it on the backburner (on purpose, mind you) because there has been so much going on. But tonight I'm going to come back for however long I can. For starters, here's a picture of yours truly that my daughter took one morning while she walked around with our camera. Thankfully, it was after I had gotten dressed for the day. And no, I'm not trying to be snarky. The little one knows no boundaries yet. I just delete those guys.


I might as well upload a picture of my kiddos. (Uploading...) That's Little Olive, who's not so little anymore, at a whopping 3.5 years old. Next to her is my Little Huck at a stinking 1.5 years. This was pre-haircut, an experience carried out by his older sister. Do you want to see a picture of "post haircut"? Okay, hang on a second. 



 Let me find it for you. (Uploading is taking forever...) 

Okay, here we go.


Yeah, needless to say, I was just as ticked off (okay, I lied - way more ticked off) as this little man right here. I walk into the living room to see Little Olive snipping clumps of hair off the top of his head. I was shocked because she had cut her own hair a few weeks before and had gotten in trouble for it. I understand "all kids do that" but no one prepares you for the time when you walk into the dining room and see enormous holes in the legs of your daughter's pants - and after gasping "What on earth!?" about that, THEN you notice that the entire left side of her hair is shorter than the other. Picture, you ask? Okay.
 
She is melancholy...not because she was in trouble (this was taken hours later as to not give her hair-cutting incident any immediate attention), but just because that's how my little pulsatilla princess tends to be sometimes. <3 p="">
Back to Little Huck. I can't even tell you how much I loved Little Huck's gorgeous hair; buzzing him really broke my heart. I am against buzzing little boys because their long hair is just way cute.


But here they are, and all is well with the world.  They're healthy, happy (for the most part except when they fight - why do little kids fight?!), and they love each other a lot. 

I expected to write more tonight, but I think I'll sign off for now and make a point to come back again soon. 

Hope all's well with you!

Liebster Award - late but finally did it!




I was tickled pink to receive this special award from my sweet friend Amy 
over at Rambling Inner Monologue. Thank you so much for this very pretty award!
I've been out of the blogging world for a very long time, so this is refreshing to hop back on and give a little shoutout to some peeps :)



Here is a little rundown in case you're wondering what receiving the Liebster Award entails:

  • Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions from the nominator and list 11 random facts about yourself.


    Here are my answers for Amy's 11 questions:



    1. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the winnings? 
    Pay off all debt, move to the country, and become self-sufficient.

    2. Describe your ultimate dream home.
    Large but with lots of empty space, no fancy furniture or designer stuff. A master bathroom (because it's so romantic), a fireplace where the family is, a porch either in the front or back, and first-floor laundry. :)

    3. Do you garden, if so what do you plant?
    We're planting our first this summer. Kale, spinach, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

    4. If you could pick any person in the world to have dinner with, who would it be?
    Probably Mother Teresa...not cliche at all. I think I'd come away from that dinner a changed woman!

    5. You've won a $100,000 shopping spree at the store of your choice.  Where is it going to be?
    A thrift store, obviously ;P

    6. What is your favorite holiday and why?
    Christmas because it is just very magical.

    7. What are your best traits?
    I'm kind, understanding, and getting a little more mature as the years go by.

    8. Which traits would you most like to improve?   
    I interrupt a lot.

    9. What would your ideal job be?
    An NED for Thirty One and sewing wedding gowns in my free time.

    10. Favorite book or movie?
    Book: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    Movie: Memphis Belle

    11. What is your favorite way to unwind and relax?
    A bath for sure!


    Here are the 11 bloggers I've nominated for the Liebster Award:

    1.  A Life Well Loved 
    2. A Flash In The Pan 
    3. Faith Elizabeth Hough 
 I need to catch up on more blogs!

Here are the 11 random facts about myself
  • I could eat French fries every day
  • I enjoy dipping said French fries in mayonnaise
  • I'm currently going through my entire wardrobe and donating any clothes not in my "colors"
  • I think my color season is winter/fall?
  • I miss blogging
  • I just counted how many facts I had stated thus far
  • Heavenly Hash ice cream has been my favorite for as long as I can remember
  • French Toast is my favorite breakfast ever
  • We are trying not to eat gluten very much, so I don't eat French toast as much as I would like
  • Most of my facts are about food so here's one that's not: I'm trying to talk myself out of a new Thirty One purse. I reeeeeally want the Inside Out Bag. Hmph...hmm...
  • After I pay off our student loans, I'd like to treat myself to a laptop!