Friday, February 27, 2009

How Do You Make a Baby Smile? (our favorite picture books - new feature)

I mentioned in my last post that I intend to introduce new features to this blog. I thought I'd start by sharing some of our favorite picture books. I planned events at a bookstore for four years, primarily in the children's section, so I've got quite a few favorites from pre-2004. I'm now trying to catch up on what I've missed in the last 5 or so years (I really miss being so acquainted with the book industry).

Abigail's current favorite is How Do You Make a Baby Smile by Philemon Sturges. I don't remember exactly how we discovered this book. It was either featured at storytime at the library or I found it on a display. I checked it out about two months ago, and we've read it nearly every day. Each page shows a different animal parent trying to get its child to smile. The first time my husband read it, he asked Abigail to do what the animals were doing. Our favorite is Mama Elephant wiggling her ears (which causes Abigail to grab an ear in each hand and wiggle).

We're very sad that this book is due to go back next week. Perhaps the Easter Bunny will leave it in a sweet little girl's basket?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

K-Fed Researching an Affordable Clothing Line

So, I was just scanning headlines on, and came across this article about K-Fed not wanting to buy $500 toddler jeans in this economy (and really, who among us does?). Apparently, it's frustrating to buy your 2 year old a pair of True Religion jeans that they then wear in the mud. So, he's now researching kids' clothing styles so he can start his own line of kids clothes. Has he not heard of The Gap, The Children's Place, or Gymboree? Frankly, those are out of my price range, too. I'm usually grabbing perfectly good clothes from the sales rack at Target or hitting a clearance sale. (And, as I've mentioned, we're often recipients of the hand-me-down.)

Maybe I don't get it because I've never owned a pair of designer jeans myself. I'm okay with wearing the same pair of jeans for years, and I prefer not to spend more than $20-30 on a single pair. My child is small and has stayed in the 6-9 month size for over a year, but even as rough as she is on clothes, all of her jeans are still in like-new condition. So I just don't see the need for K-Fed's "affordable" line of kids' clothing. Don't get me started on fashion for toddlers.

What do you think? Are designer clothes worth it for children?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I Liked This Week

I know I haven't written in a while. It's been a busy couple of weeks. My parents came to visit for Abigail's family party, and they stayed until Wednesday morning. Then I found out on Thursday that my uncle passed away the night before. I wasn't able to go to Georgia for the funeral, and I've been sad and out of sorts since (understandably, I hope).

When I'm not able to write, I find that I enjoy reading blogs. I mean, I enjoy it anyway, but it's nice to check in and quickly see what someone else doing. It helps my mood when I can't seem to write.
I thought I'd share what stood out to me over the last week or so.

And here are a few things that I found a while ago and keep forgetting to share:
  • getting value at buffets @ Wise Bread - I'm a smallish person, and eating at buffets is hard for me because I don't feel like I'm getting a good value. This post has some interesting tips  for getting your money's worth at buffets.
  • what I won't give up to save money @ Wise Bread - thought provoking post on what you consider to be "essentials"
  • Nature Tables - I'm wanting to get a nature table set up and this site has great examples

Let me know what is inspiring you lately!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

In nearly twelve years together, my husband and I have rarely celebrated Valentine's Day. We usually cook a nice dinner together, but any gifts or flowers are exchanged after the day (50% off is so much better than inflated prices to me). Now that we have a child, I'm considering starting a tradition of giving each other some small token of affection. Abigail did make a lovely card at storytime for her daddy this week, but we gave it to him right away.

At any rate, this year Valentine's Day is being overshadowed at our house by the long-overdue family birthday party that we're throwing for our newly two year old. We've been postponing due to the ice storm and other obligations, and I'm excited to finally be getting ready for the party. We still have a party with friends coming in a few weeks (again being postponed due to other obligations).

As I have no official Valentine's plans, I thought I'd share a few ideas I've come across this week. Maybe you'll find inspiration for this year or can start planning for the next.

I hope you have a wonderfully fun day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Election Sticker

I just learned that is giving away free stickers to commemorate the historic election of Barack Obama to President of the United States. The stickers are 4.5"x6". I requested one for my scrapbook. I didn't pick up a newspaper at the time, and I thought this would be nice to include. Regardless of your political beliefs, this was a historic time in our country.

Go here to get your free sticker.

Relearning to Sew (Sew Fun part I)

I don't remember exactly when I started wanting to sew again. I know it was sometime last summer, and it had a lot to do with reading SouleMama and Angry Chicken. I've tried several times over the years to learn. I was obsessed with quilting in college - I even did my senior thesis on the history of quilting (I was a history major). My grandma was trying to teach me how to make a simple pillow-squared quilt when she passed away (it's still unfinished). My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas in 1996, and I used it to make a pair of flannel pajama bottoms (it was the 90's!). And I took a quilting class in the fall of 1997 (that quilt is also unfinished). My sewing machine sat at my parents' house waiting for me all these years.

So last summer, I got excited about sewing again, but my machine lived 450 miles away from. I talked hubby into bringing it home with us from a visit, but I was still scared to touch it. In fact, he did all the machine sewing on the chocolate chip cookie costume! I read Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol (angry chicken) about 500 times trying to psyche myself up. I had sewing projects cut out, waiting to be made into Christmas gifts. One night, I couldn't take it anymore, walked into the guest room (where my machine hangs out), and started an artsy clutch for my mom's mp3 player. It's mostly straight lines, so I thought it could be simple.

Let me say, the artsy clutch is the perfect first project! My husband wasn't sure I was doing it right, but when I turned it right-side out, suddenly there was a purse. It was amazing (turning projects right side out is my favorite part). I'm not entirely sure what this one is made out of: I found both fabrics in the remnant pile at Hancock's. The inside is a fun, bright, soft corduroy. The outside has a linen feel to it, but I'm fairly sure it's made of cotton. I'm not yet familiar enough with fabric to place it. The button is from my button stash, and I suspect that it came from some of my grandma's clothes (my mama's mama) which made it extra-special.

I've decided to share my projects in an ongoing series called "Sew Fun." (Yeah, I know, but puns are fun and that's the whole point of this blog!) They'll be easy to locate in my blog topics.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things to Do In a Blizzard, or We're Bored

Okay, so we're not actually in the middle of a blizzard. We are in the middle of week two stuck inside, though. Last week, a major ice storm hit our area, and a record breaking number of people lost power - you may have heard about it on the news if you don't live in the Ohio River Valley. Fortunately, our family only lost power for a few hours, but the ice still has us feeling trapped. Everytime the ice starts to melt, it refreezes, and my car just doesn't want to take me anywhere in this. We were able to get out briefly over the weekend, but it's been snowing off and on since Monday I know there are probably a lot of other families in similar situations, so I thought I'd make a list of things to do when you can't get out your front door.

  1. Get a copy of The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner (or any of her other books) and use it. She has lots of simple ideas for rainy days when your brain just can't think of anymore. I wish I'd bought it a long time ago. I'm thankful I had the foresight to request it from our library and pick it up over the weekend.
  2. Build forts. We like to snuggle under ours with pillows, books and stuffed animals.
  3. Have living room picnics. We don't generally eat in our living room, so sitting on a blanket and eating our snack while watching Scooby-Doo (more on this) is a real treat.
  4. Let the kids watch a little more tv than normal. I tried very hard to keep tv away from Abigail before age 2. She turned 2 last week, and well, we're getting a little stir-crazy around here.
  5. Play-doh. I've got the commercial variety - I am a kid at heart and bought a ton long before I had a child. In fact, I've got a huge box of the mini-tins that I bought as stocking stuffers and those are perfect for a toddler (one who you're pretty sure won't try to eat it anyway). I know there are lots of great recipes out there, though. Here are a few.
  6. Stickers. There has been quite a bit of sticker play around here the past week or so. I don't usually let her play with the stickers we receive from grandparents or freebies in the mail right away. I save them for a "rainy" day, and I'm SO glad I did.
  7. Read lots and lots of books. Fortunately, we have quite a stockpile that have been thrifted, hand-me-downed or given to us. I also picked up a few more at the library over the weekend.
  8. Start a craft project. It's a week until Valentine's Day. Making Valentine's might be next on our list. Since I don't like dictating what Abigail's art is, though, I will probably just have her color a few pictures to send to grandparents.
  9. Change of venue. If you have enough space for this, try playing in another room. We've moved into the guest room or a bedroom a few times to get at least some change of scenery from the living room.
  10. Watch the snow fall. Talk about gravity. Talk about the wind. Notice the beauty of winter (I can appreciate the beauty of it, even if I want it to be over yesterday).
  11. Make paper bag puppets. I drew a face on the bottom of the bag and then let Abigail decorate it with her drawings. She was excited to show it to her Daddy, and she thought it was great for holding her crayons when she wasn't trying to make it talk.
  12. Start a cleaning project. Give your kids a wet washcloth and let them clean anything they want (except maybe the tv).
  13. Go outside to play. Okay, gotta admit, we haven't done this. It's well below freezing, Abigail is 2 and I'm very much a Southern girl who does not appreciate snow. I'm unlikely to take her out. But I'm sure older kids would be able to go out alone.
I'm sure I've come up with a few more things, but right now I can't think of them. And I'm looking for more ideas! I know there were a lot of other moms in the area who ran out of things to do with their kids last week with school out. So I'm asking you for a favor. If you have any great ideas for things to do with kids to help avoid or combat cabin fever, please post it in the comments. I hope that we will all be able to come up with ideas so that anyone still stuck inside (like me) can reference this post. It will come in handy for the next storm, too (which hopefully won't arrive until next winter).

Also, I know there are people out there who are farther north and experiencing far worse weather who may be laughing at me. I hope that you'll get some ideas from this post, and that you'll tell us your secrets. I'm just glad it's not colder here!

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Subscription Feed

I jumped into blogging last summer without knowing a lot about creating a blog. I decided I would just learn as I went. My new subscription feed is part of my learning curve. I set up the feed last week, and hopefully it's much more helpful. If you subscribed prior to last week, you may want to resubscribe - I'm not sure that you will receive the new feed otherwise. If you haven't subscribed, please try it out! Let me know what you think. Please let me know if there are any problems with signing up, too.

Why subscribe? I used to just keep checking my favorite blogs to see when they were updated. It was time consuming and often there were no updates. Now that I'm using Google Reader, I can just log into that account and all of the blogs I'm subscribed to are there, showing their updates. If there's a post I really liked and want to refer back to, I can mark it ("star" it) and I'm able to find it again. It also helps with the stats for my favorite blogs - they can show advertisers or companies with giveaways what the regular traffic is for their blog.

Do you use a blog reader? Why do you subscribe (or not) to your favorite blogs?

CPSC Grants One Year Stay

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision announced on Friday that they would grant a one year stay on enforcment of some part of the CSPIA. You can go here to read the press release.