Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fabric Sorting (a cheap, easy, fun, & educational toddler activity)

I bought this little plastic egg tray at the dollar store a few days ago with some sorting activities in mind.  We're starting to gather up several bunches of small manipulatives around here, but when Olivia was in need of something to keep her busy yesterday evening I didn't feel like sorting through a bunch of tiny little things.

Instead, I just went to my fabric scrap stash and cut up a bunch of little matching fabric pieces.  The result was a great activity for Olivia that was free (well $1 for the tray), fun, and educational.

Want to make your own to play with?

First you'll need to do a bit of prep.

Deviled egg trays like the one pictured here work great for this activity because there's a big bowl area in the middle for all of the fabric pieces to go when they're mixed up and, of course, the little spots for the eggs make for great little sorting compartments.

Count up the egg spots on your tray (there are 15 on ours... who makes deviled eggs in batches of 7.5?) and snip two matching pieces of fabric for each spot.  In other words, for 15 spots, cut 15 matches (or 30 pieces total).

Now you're ready to play!
You'll probably want to model how the activity goes before turning your kiddo loose.  And while it may feel bossy to take a turn first, kids really like knowing how something is supposed to be done so that, when they do it just like you, they feel a real sense of accomplishment.

When I taught preschool at a Montessori school I prepped activities ("works") like this for the kids in my class all the time.  Why are sorting activities good?

PJ Shorts: Take 1

Guys, it is hot here.  Hot.  And the temperature in our house basically goes like this:

Basement: not so bad
Main Floor: warm, sometimes too warm
Upstairs: HOT

Unfortunately, we sleep upstairs.  Boo.  Sometimes Bryan and I talk about moving the beds downstairs for the summer.  In the first place, I don't think our queen size mattress would fit down our basement stairs and, in the second place, I wouldn't want to try.  And, in the third place, it would make our basement so cramped and crowded.  So we're toughing it out, no thanks to our AC running all day and night.  Hooray for summer.  Boo to hot weather.

Anyway, the reason I'm complaining about this bringing this up is because all this extra-warm weather has meant that Olivia needs some new jammies.  All she really had were fleece footie jammies (not okay in this weather) and some regular long PJ pants.  So some light, comfy PJ shorts were in order.  :)

I used the (free) Basic Kid Pants pattern from MADE as my base, but instead of making them long I folded the pattern up so they'd be shorts length.  Haha.  Except, obviously, I didn't make them quite short enough.  Whoops!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Joy I Feel in Writing

Do you ever feel like you're getting to know yourself?  Because I do.  I think during most of my growing up years I was really sure of myself.  I really thought I knew who I was.  Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I didn't think about whether or not I knew myself well.  I just assumed I did.  I mean, after all, I'm me, so what else is there to know?  I know everything about me.

But, as it turns out, that's not true.  And the way that I know that's not true is because, since about halfway through college and for all of my marriage, I've been discovering more and more each day who I really am.  I make conscious realizations about what things are important to me and what things aren't.  I realize sometimes that I don't like things I always thought I did.  I try new things that I used to hate and discover that I love them.

But perhaps the most poignant thing I've learned about myself is this: I'm still learning about myself.  And it's okay if it takes a long time.

One thing I've been learning lately is that I try so hard to squish myself into small spaces where I don't fit.  But a human array of emotions and interests and loves and dislikes and feelings and preferences and laughs don't fit in a small space.  Or at least I don't fit.  In fact, I don't fit at all.

I needs space to do and be and create and love and learn.  I need a lot of mistakes.  I need a lot of successes.  I need a lot of time to grow.  I am not a seasonal flower; I'm an evergreen tree.  My growth doesn't stop.  My branches will always need more space.  I will always have new interests.  And that is one of my favorite things about myself.

One of the other things I've been learning about myself over and over again, but especially lately, is how well my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me and gives me the things I need most.  And one of those things is good, wholesome, exciting, purposeful work.  I need that so much and it's something I didn't know about myself before, but I know it now.

Several months ago I laid in bed thinking about something that was bothering me and I was blessed with the inspiration to start something new.  This new thing filled a hole in my heart that I didn't know was there.  And it gave me good, wholesome, exciting, purposeful work to do.  In fact, it gave me a lot of work to do.  So much that several people asked me why I was doing all that work when they couldn't see what I was getting out of it.  But how do you explain the need to feel fulfilled?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The best kind of people in the world...

Just something I've been thinking about lately.  I'm pretty sure it's true.

P.S. Is it kosher to quote yourself?

1-100 Charts (free printables!)

So we started something recently (more on that soon) that I wanted to make a sticker chart for that went from 1-100.  Simple enough, right?  But after I made the 1-100 chart I had planned on making I started thinking of a lot of other great practical and educational uses for a chart that goes from 1-100.

Here are some of the things that came to mind:

  • sticker chart
  • counting practice
  • number-writing practice
  • countdown to vacation
  • marking off the first 100 days of school

And then I decided that, while I was at it, I might as well go ahead and add a couple simple variations, right?  Right!  So included in this little free printable are the following versions of this simple 1-100 chart.

1-100 Chart with Numbers

All the numbers are filled in!  This is the one we're using for our sticker chart, but it would also be great for practice in number writing, counting, or a number of other things!

1-100 Chart with Only 1 and 100 Written In

This one is more for kids that are practicing writing their numbers.  This gives them cues for where to start and stop, but they'll still have to do the writing and thinking work on their own.

As a side note, I still remember the 1-100 books we made in first grade.  And I remember having to go back and fix mistakes.  Which makes me laugh.  Really?  How did I mess up just writing the numbers from 1-100?

Anyway, if you know a kid who needs as much practice as I apparently did, maybe this chart will help.  :)

100 Blank Circles Chart

This chart is exactly the same as the previous two, but with no numbers!  So it's still great for practicing number writing and counting, but it would also be a lot of fun for practicing patterns, drawing 100 cute, tiny little faces, or a number of other art activities.  What would you do with it?

Get the free printable after the jump!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sewing Machine Friend

I haven't been down in the basement much lately.  Except to start several loads of laundry (I swear the clothes are having babies and making more clothes, but I still can't find anything to wear!) and then go retrieve the wet laundry to hang it up outside, I've really only been downstairs for the occasional morning of preschool with Olivia and her friends.  My sewing machine is becoming a stranger to me.  And that makes me feel sad in a way I can't really explain.  Because when your sewing machine starts becoming a stranger that makes it both scary and intimidating to start becoming friends again.  Even when you were BFF before.

I've been spending my time elsewhere for several reasons.  The weather has been nice (although HOT) lately and we've been spending most of our days outside.  Olivia's naps have been hit or miss and so even on the days when she takes nice long naps, I don't anticipate it and so I end up playing spider solitaire and checking e-mail and wondering what I might eat for a snack instead of getting anything done.  And I also haven't been feeling great lately.  First there was a thing with my shoulder blade and it felt like I had a rib out of place.  Thank goodness for the chiropractor.  I have got to convince Olivia to grow up and become a chiropractor... and then never move out.  And then once my back finally stopped hurting so much and feeling so stiff I started feeling sick.  Now I'm mostly fine except for this flash flood that keeps occurring in my nose.  Boo.  And with all of that going on, my sewing machine has been hiding away on its table, looking pretty and feeling left out.

Last night I made a to-do list for myself of things I need/want to do today.  I thought about writing down a specific project I wanted to start and finish sewing today, but instead I just wrote, "make something."  I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to make a beautiful finished prototype of a project for the book without making any mistakes... on the first try.  Which is ridiculous.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Tonight it was our turn to babysit for our little babysitting group.  There are 4 families and we each take a turn babysitting once a month.  All of the other weeks we get to go out on dates, which is great.

So tonight it was our turn to babysit again.  We decided we'd keep the kids occupied and contained by going on a walk, but the plan kind of backfired since more of the kids were coming than I was aware of.  We have a double stroller and we had borrowed our friends' double stroller and then we had Olivia just walk along side us  holding onto the little handle things on the side of our double stroller.  It worked for about... three minutes.  Then it was a total fail.

But during the short amount of time that we were out on our walk, we passed an old man sitting out on his front porch.  When he caught sight of us he stared and yelled out, "Are all of those yours?"  We told him, no, we were just babysitting, only one was ours.  He seemed to be pretty relieved for us and then yelled something else, but I don't really know what he said.

This experience made me think two things.

1. If we really did have quintuplets--how rude.  I would get so sick of people staring and asking stupid questions like, "Are they all yours?"

2. I'm with the old man; I'm relieved we don't have quintuplets too.

P.S. I'm getting sick of people asking me if I'm pregnant.  Not because I feel extra sensitive after having a miscarriage (because I don't feel extra sensitive about it).  But just because I feel like it's a totally inappropriate question to ask someone.  (And, for the record, that's how I felt about asking people if they're pregnant before I had a miscarriage.)  The end.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Last night I went to bed feeling fine except for a slightly scratchy throat that came out of nowhere.  This morning when I got up I just felt... blah.  I got dressed in normal clothes only to turn around and put on some comfy drawstring pants about a half hour later.  My throat was scratchy, my head just didn't feel right inside, and my body was kind of shaky and weak all over.  And I felt nauseous.  Blah.  I felt like such a sissy, but this blah sickness that came out of nowhere totally knocked me over the head.

Luckily Olivia was perfectly happy to hang out and watch Curious George for a really long time while I laid on the couch and tried not to feel like I might throw up.  Finally she was begging for breakfast so I pulled myself up off the couch and got her set up with a bowl of cereal.  And after that I finally had the good sense to drink a can of Sprite, which turned out to have magical properties and healed me to some degree.

A morning of preschool and music class later, I'm feeling a lot more manageable.  And I feel a little silly for feeling so miserable and destitute this morning.  But, man, some days are just like that, aren't they?

The tragedy of my sudden blah sickness this morning was compounded by the fact that I kept having flashbacks of how I felt in January after I miscarried.  The whole time before and after the surgery I just felt so... blah.  There didn't seem to be anything outwardly wrong with me.  I didn't have some big gaping wound or even a big purple bruise to compensate for all my discomfort.  Instead I just laid on the couch all month feeling sick and kind of dumb about the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sometimes Things Take A Long Time

In a world that is so obsessed with the instant, it's good to remember that sometimes things take a long time.  In fact, a lot of things take a long time.  It's something I've found myself thinking a lot about lately.

The picture above is bright and colorful and fun to look at (and it's a sneak peek of the pictures I finally took of our downstairs... I'll show you those another day), but this little conglomeration of books is also bittersweet for me to look at.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that my husband Bryan and I met our freshman year of college and then he went off to serve a two year church mission in Switzerland and Germany while I kept going to school.  We got married a few months after he came home.

While Bryan was gone I dated some other guys, but it was never the same.  I missed Bryan... more than I can explain.  I have a lot of happy memories with friends from those two years, but I also experienced a lot of heartache.  It was a personal battle.  A daily struggle.  A giant leap of faith to trust that things would work out, especially when everything around me felt so miserable.  No two years in my life passed as slowly as those two years without Bryan.

The German dictionary is a reminder of those two years.  The Little Prince is a reminder of those two years.    The red copy of I Like You is a reminder of those two years.

Waiting for Bryan.  That took a long time.

Something else that took a long time?  This little Undies Pattern that I now sell in my shop.  I just sold another copy of it and I found myself reflecting on how long it took for that to happen.  It was over a year ago when I made the first couple pairs of teeny tiny little panties for Olivia.

I took all the tutorial pictures and wrote up and formatted the instructions not too long after I started making them.  I really wanted to get it ready to sell right away.  But there was one problem.  I had no idea how to make the patterns work as something that other people could print off at home.  I remember sitting at one of the big fancy computers at the BYU library with Bryan one night trying to make it work.  I was so frustrated.  I just didn't know how to proceed so I could finish the project.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


For Mother's Day Bryan and Olivia surprised me with this sweet new popcorn popper.  I've been wanting one for the past month or so, so it was an excellent surprise.  And hooray for yummy, healthy snacks!

Olivia (who was clueless about the gift she was giving me until I opened the box) and I were pretty stoked.

Thanks Bry and Lala!

I thought we'd wait and enjoy some popcorn after dinner, but Olivia wanted to try it RIGHT THEN.  So we did.

Mother's Day

I have a lot in my heart on this Mother's Day.  I'm grateful for my own mother and grandmothers.  I'm grateful for my mother-in-law and all that she did to raise my husband into the wonderful man he is.  I'm grateful for the other moms who helped raise me--teachers, friends' moms, church leaders.

My heart is also full of love for mothers who are waiting.  Waiting for marriage.  Waiting for children.  Waiting for their lives as mothers to start.  

And, on this Mother's Day, I keep thinking about my own particular situation as a mother.  My sweet baby will turn three at the end of the summer.  She's not a baby anymore, but a little girl who keeps on getting bigger and bigger.  And we just found out yesterday that she'll be starting kindergarten when she's five instead of when she's six.  Bryan keeps laughing at me every time I bring it up, but it absolutely blows my mind that I'll have a daughter in kindergarten in two years.

I also think about my hope in motherhood.  I hope to have more children.  I think about if my empty pregnancy hadn't been empty.  If everything had gone normally, I'd be having a second child in just a few months.  But, as it is, we're still just a little family of three.  I love our little family just the way it is.  But I also hope for more.  More children.  More crazy.  More love.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Saturday Sale (all printables & sewing patterns 50% off!)

 In honor of tomorrow finally being Saturday, all of the printables and sewing patterns in the shop are 50% off!  No coupon code necessary.  Everything is already marked down and ready to go!


Hooray for Saturdays!

Fleece Inserts: The thing that makes cloth diapers doable

My sister-in-law Anna recently bought some cloth diapers like ours for their third sweet little girl that will make her debut soon.  I've talked about using our cloth diapers several times before, but one thing I never bothered to post about was our little fleece insert thingys, which is lame of me because they are probably one of the most useful things to have if you're using cloth diapers like ours.

Why are these little trash piece of fleece such gold?  Well, even though the inside of our diapers are made of micro-fleece (which, in theory is kind of the same thing), the poop sticks to the micro-fleece a lot more than it sticks to the cheap fleece.  So using these little fleece inserts (the colorful rectangle in the photo above), means that I don't have to use a diaper sprayer or put rubber gloves on when I clean out a poopy diaper.

Instead, all I have to do is hold onto the little fleece insert, hold it above the toilet, and gently shake it a little until all the poo falls off on its own.  And that means that the rest of the diaper doesn't even have to get "washed" in the toilet water.  And that makes cleaning cloth diapers a heck of a lot less gross.

And the best part about these little fleece inserts is that they're so cheap and simple to make!

Get the how-to after the jump!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Mom Machine

Behold: The Mom Machine.

It has everything you need!  Cough drops, hand sanitizer, bottles, wet wipes, tampons, pads, pacifiers, baby rattles, aloe vera, stain remover, sun screen, sippy cups, bandaids, diapers, snack bowls, tissues... and more!

Only thing it doesn't have?


This is the Mom Machine in the toddler play area at the museum we visit all the time.  But my Mom Machine has been out of patience lately too.  For some reason I seem to have plenty of sippy cups, but patience is always out of stock.  (If you have an abundance, please send some my way.  I'll cover the cost of shipping.)  Do you ever feel that way?

DIY Big Wall Collage

Creating a large collage on your wall can be a great way to collect a few of your favorite things and showcase them together.  The uniqueness is part of what makes art collections like this so fun, so obviously every collage is different.  Today I'm just going to walk you through a few general steps for creating your own large wall collage and give some pointers about what worked for us.

For more details about the items in our collage, see yesterday's home tour.

Details and DIY after the jump!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Home: Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen

Ever since we moved almost a year ago I've been meaning to invite you all in for a little tour, but getting ready for it has been a bit of a process.  First we had to buy furniture.  Then we had to recover from moving in.  Then we had to decorate.  Then we had to recover from decorating.  And make a lot of day-to-day messes.  And clean them up.

Then in February on a glorious day when the entire main floor was clean, I finally took pictures!  But then I needed to sort through them.  Bah.  And touch up the ones that came out a little dark.  Bah again.  So they cured on my hard drive for a while.  Until a few weeks ago when I finally found all of my favorites and put them all in the same folder for easy access.

And then they cured a little while longer.  Some projects are like that, you know.  They need time to sit in the back of your mind for a while.

But now on this cozy rainy morning we're enjoying, it's finally time to invite you all in for a little tour!  So come on in!  Don't bother taking off your shoes.  We're really not those kind of people.  Just come right in and plop yourself down on that big green couch.  We're happy to have you here.

(House tour after the jump!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Summer Wardrobe To-Dos

Are anyone else's kids growing like weeds?  Because this one sure is.  Her waist hasn't gotten any wider, but, man, this girl is getting taller and taller all the time.  As a result, she still fits into her clothes from last summer (Who saw that one coming?  Not me.), but they're all too short!  Who wears short shorts?  And short shirts?  Olivia!

Yes, it's time for an update in this little girl's wardrobe.  I'm so focused on sewing projects for the book that I haven't been doing much Lala sewing lately, but I really need to.  Here's whats on my mental to-do list (for both Olivia and me) for the summer wardrobe situation around here...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to take photos like a pro (for only $2!)

Alright, confession time.  I am nowhere close to being a professional photographer.  (Obviously.)  And I don't have a nice, big, fancy camera.  I just have a cheap little point and shoot.  And, no, I haven't figure out how to use any of the special features yet.  Flash or no flash.  That's about the extent of my great camera settings knowledge.

But.  I do have a fair bit of amateur experience.  And I've spent a fair amount of time fooling around with photography settings (physical settings like backdrops, not settings on the camera).  And my amateur experience and any "take photos like a pro" how-to out there will tell tell you these same two things.

  1. Clear your background
  2. Use natural light
Want to know a quick and easy way to do both?  For only $2?  Read more after the jump!

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Chop

Those of you who have never met me in real life may not know this, but my hair is a beast.  It is straight.  It is curly.  It is thick thick thick.  And up until a couple of days ago, it reached halfway down my back.  Which means, in this humid heat we've been having, that having long, thick hair like this is hot.  Too hot to be comfortable.  Not to mention too heavy.  Yes, I really do get headaches from having my hair up in a ponytail--from the weight of my hair.

This hair of mine is a beast.  Too thick.  Too heavy.  Too long.  Too hot.  Boo-hoo.

A couple of nights ago it was humid and hot outside and my hair was driving me absolutely crazy.  I had a headache from my crazy-thick ponytail and I wanted nothing more than to grab a pair of scissors and chop it all off.  Ooh, that would feel so nice.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Special Fabric

It was the nicest thing, being there.
I'll look back on this evening, smiling.

And then someday I'll link back to this post and say, "See?"
And I'll be smiling then too.

When I started to tell Bryan that I wanted to go buy some fabric this evening he started to get that look on his face.  That exhausted look.  That, "Please don't make me go with you and watch Olivia while you spend hours pouring over fabric choices" look.  But when I asked if he minded if I slipped out and went by myself, he got that happy, relieved, pleasant look on his face.  So off I went.

I'll be honest and tell you guys that I'm a major cheapskate and most of the fabric you see on this blog comes from the remnant bin at Joann's.  It's just so reasonably priced.  And, truth be told, I much much much prefer working with smaller pieces of fabric that I can cut on my cutting mat without having to fold in weird ways.  So the remnant bin is a major win for me.  Cheap and small.  And with limited choices, which I think we can all agree is often a good thing.

But.  That's not where I went this evening.

Though I can't share any pictures or proof here on the ol' blog, I have been very busy for the past couple of months.  Busy sewing, that is.  I've been working on some especially special projects.  Projects I love.  And for especially special projects I needed some extra special fabric.  So instead of being a cheapskate this evening, I slipped over to my favorite fabric shop in Columbus.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Join Us! (Free Printable Invitations)

I always love a good party invitation.  Well, really I love any invitation to party.  Don't you?  It's fun to get together with friends, enjoy some good food, and feast on the excellent conversation that always seems to unfold.  So if you're looking for an excuse to party, this pretty little printable is here to help!

The other night while Bryan was studying I was fooling around with some design schemes on PicMonkey.  (RIP, Picnik.)  It's delightfully easy to use.  And I'm not being paid to say that.  I've just used the site a number of times now and I like it.  Though I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of their collage options.  Definitely the editing tool I've been missing most since Picnik bit the dust.

But anyway.  Most of the designs I did the other night were for fun little printable note cards.  I'll try and get those up to share with you all soon, but I haven't taken the time to format them and get them PDF-ready yet.  So for now I'm just sharing this little invitation.

I really love how all of the designs turned out, but this little gem-colored triangle motif was one of my favorites, so I also transformed it into these simple, pretty, universal invitations.  Fun, no?  And you can't beat the price!  I always love me a good free printable.

Get the free printable after jump!

Photos for Snap Bibs