Tuesday, December 31, 2013

sing, sing a song!

My baby sings all day long.  He wakes up singing and falls asleep singing, he has been singing everyday of his 2 years of life.  I think that odd vibration in my pregnant belly must have been him singing back to me, so I might even say he started singing before he was born.

I sing to them "Cleary, Cleary, clear as the sky is Cleary.  Soren, Soren, soaring the mountaintops."  And they sing back "Mommy, mommy, pooping on Daddy's head."  Yep, I have boys.

My two boys and my two nephews are completely obsessed with the fox song by Ylvis.  They sing and dance to it all day long.  Luckily, I really love it too.  Especially the sweet baby voice version with the off key harmony.

We went to see Walking with Dinosaurs, going to the movie theatre was an adventure in itself but the movie was absolutely outstanding!  On the way home Cleary, my 4 year old, complained of boredom.  I suggested we make up a dinosaur song to sing on the way home, he said no but Soren started singing "ringading ding ring a ring... what the dinosaur say!"

I wanted artwork for the boys room that was a reminder of all the singing we do together.  
This embroidery was really simple and if you have a favorite onsie you could do the same thing!

 The tee-pee came straight from Santa's workshop... aka my studio.

When I unveiled the artwork Soren shouted "Oh my GOSH!!!!!  You made that?"  And Cleary, jumping up and down "IT'S AWESOME!"   They really know how to ham it up for a Mamma!

I upcycled my favorite baby onsie that both boys wore.  It was a special gift from my oldest friend.  (I'm giggling as I call her old, she is 6 days older than me!  What I really mean is that we have been friends since we were 12.)

I wish I had taken a photo of the shirt before I cut it up.  It was really cute, the birds flocked across the front, the back and the sleeves.  It also had a cool hipster collar. 

The boys now have artwork in their room and I am feeling accomplished.  My new years resolution is to make more art.  I suppose I am off to a start!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

excitement in the air

My boys are thriving on all of the holiday spirit!  They are lit up like dancing Christmas tree lights.  From the moment they wake up in the morning they are bouncing, jumping and singing until their heads hit the pillows again at night.  At dinner last night I was pulled out of the kitchen by the sounds of giggles and shouts.  "Mommy!!!!  You have to see this!  Hurry!!!!"  They had discovered our neighbors house twinkling across the street, fully bedazzled.  I can't get over how magical it is for them.
We started decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  This is the first year we have put up an actual tree.  The past four years we hung a felt tree with felt decorations that the boys were free to play with. The silly boys have found games to play with this tree.  They take all of the ornaments off and hang them again and they found the box of felt ornaments and just toss them on (they stick!)  Cleary also loves to hide his tiny hedgehog in the branches and see who can find him.  The absolute best is when I catch them just standing in front of it gazing.  Christmas trees are magical.

                  We made Salt dough ornaments.  One of my favorite childhood traditions.  

I've started a snowflake garland.  I had to find a tutorial online, i couldn't believe I forgot how to make them!

We have 8 days of Christmas books to open.  I have 5 days to come up with the rest of our Advent countdown...


I hope you are all enjoying the Holiday Season! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The BOO!!!!!! game!

Why wouldn't I want to sign up to bring a game to my son's preschool Halloween party?  I mean, everyone wants that job... but my fellow preschool mommies always save that spot for last, just for me.  I never pay attention and always get the last spot.  Bring a game.  Well, I've got a fix for you!  I've just invented the best preschool party game and it can be made to suit any occasion.  (maybe I didn't invent it, please let me know if you've seen this before!)

The Halloween game is called BOO!!!

First make 3 cubes with 3 different images on them.

I found my cube pattern here.  http://scrapbooking.about.com/od/layouts/ig/Christmas-Tree-Ornaments/Free-Cube-Pattern.-0IJ.htm

Or you can print my BOO!!!!!  cubes.  

First break up into two teams and make a score board.  You can print mine if you want... (don't mind my drawings, we can say Cleary did it.)

Each team takes turns rolling the dice.  
When someone rolls three like images everyone yells BOO! and that team gets a point.
Kind of like a preschool Yahtzee!  Which we love to play, I came up with the idea because Cleary was begging to bring Yahtzee to the party.
Easy peasy and lots of fun!

Cleary wanted to draw his own Spider...  isn't it cute!

Just say NO! To saying no...

I'm serious.  Don't say NO! to your kids.  This is the first piece of advice I give to parents when they ask me (okay, most often it is unsolicited) what to do about their kids tantrums and anger.  I reserve 'no' for very serious cases.  I will say 'no' to my son if he is headed for the street or about to injure himself or someone else.


Let's start with just plain "No!" If your kid is jumping in the leaves (or some equally fun activity) and you tell them "No!"  just for the heck of it, just to be a fun crusher and childhood ruiner... well... I say NO to you!  No more no!

More often than just general fun crushing you are saying 'NO!' because they are doing something they shouldn't be doing and you have a good reason to tell them not to.
Well, I still don't think you should say no.  You must give them a clear direction of what you would like them to do instead.  It's really easy, actually, it's the easiest parenting change you can make with the biggest payoff.   It just takes a little practice.

When my son turned one and was learning how to run he did not want to walk anymore.  He just ran, all the time and everywhere.  Walking was for losers.  I let him run all the time and everywhere.  Except at the pool, obviously this would be dangerous.  My son and his friend were both playing with toys by the pool, they both got up and started to run.  The other mother and I yelled simultaneously; she yelled "NO!"  and I yelled "walk!"  her son kept running and mine stopped and walked.  It was this moment that made me recognize the ineffectiveness of the word 'no.'   It wasn't that her toddler wanted to break the rules, he was a very sweet kid and she was an attentive mom, he just didn't hear No anymore.  Sometimes we just have to find creative ways to say NO.

The same idea has worked countlessly, sometimes No is replaced with redirection.

My boys and my nephews LOVE to throw things, it's annoying.  When you walk into a room and realize the game has turned into lets take every toy out of the cabinet and off of the shelves and throw it across the room and you want to start screaming NO! NO! NO!  This one is easy to fix, if they pick up a toy with the intention to throw it you can either suggest rolling it back and forth if it's a ball or find a special spot to throw it in, a basket or a bin, or give them a new game to play altogether.  The main point being, do not ever say 'No!'  Don't say 'no throwing!'  and don't be cute and try and get away with 'Stop' either... I'm serious... they'll be on to you.   (Although, it is always a good idea to remind them that throwing in the house is against the rules.)

And the last instance I call being argumentative...

This is really a strange occurrence, most of the time you don't even realize what you are doing.  You think you are being reassuring and nice, but all they hear is NO!

What I suggest is affirming feelings instead of telling them they are wrong.

So, I gave Soren, my two year old, a blue balloon because blue is his favorite color but he immediately starts crying and demands that he have a green one.  Instead of saying "No, you love blue, blue is your favorite color!" or "No, I already blew up a blue one!"   "You should be happy, you get a balloon, it's so fun!" or what usually comes out of my mouth... "No, you don't even like green you like blue."   Instead I try to remember to say "YES, green is so much better, I am so sorry that we only have blue now." or "I can see why you would be disappointed.  Next time we will have green for sure."   I promise you that this reaction goes over a lot better than the argumentative one.  It is okay for him to be sad about not getting what he wants, he is allowed to be upset about it.  Allow your children to feel these emotions and console them.  We can't always fix disappointment and frustration no matter how much we want to.

I saw this happen a lot at the beginning of the school year when parents are dropping of nervous kids, the parents want to be reassuring and encouraging (I am guilty of doing this as well.)  The child cries "No, I don't want to go to school!  I hate school!"  and parents argue "No, you love school.  You love your teacher, you love playing with your friends!"  The retort becomes more angry and frustrated.  Once I realized the battle I was provoking I changed my stance to "Yes, I agree, school is sometimes not  fun.  Sometimes it's boring and I'm sorry that you have to go." at which point Cleary, my four year old, pouts a bit but the argument is over.  You could also say "Yes, I know you don't want to go, I am sorry that you have to go today, I wish you didn't have to go as well."   "Sometimes school is not fun, sometimes you don't feel like going; I am sorry, but you still have to go."  Most of the time, children just want to know that they are being heard.

Don't get me wrong, discipline is very important to me and I'm sure we have a lot of the same rules that you have.  There are many ways to discipline and we have found that peace and positivity keep our house peaceful and happy.  Just remember, NO more NO!  (See... you don't like it when I tell you NO either!)

                                                                                                                                   Peace - Nikki

*edited to add*  My 2 year olds new favorite game... "you say no and I say yes!"  He loves to pretend argue, it is really funny.  "No!"  "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!"  This complete simplification of an argument reminds me that sometimes kids just need to argue, it's part of their developing personalities.  They are practicing independence and learning how to stand up for themselves!  This game always has us cracking up, and honestly I'm always up for a good debate.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Peppy the Pink Caterpillar

We are a little caterpillar obsessed over here!  And lucky for us there are and abundance of these tiny friends to play with in the yard.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to create a beautiful pink, brown and mint caterpillar.  Kind of like this one... she is a Xystopeplus rufago.

Here is Peppy!  She was a custom request, girl caterpillar.  She absolutely loves being in the garden.  These yellow roses are here favorite.  Peppy loves the color green and she just can't get over how these light green buds transform into huge bright yellow roses!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

playground woes

We have all experienced the heartache of exclusion.  I've always told myself,  I don't need them, I didn't want to be friends with them anyway.  Weak words that give me little comfort.  But when it happens to my son I honestly don't know what to tell him.  My son is outgoing and friendly, but he is 4 so his friendly invitation for others to join him to play are sometimes snubbed, ignored or rudely responded to.  I've seen other 3 and 4 year olds scream NO in his face, push him away, tell him he can't be where they are playing and one time he was punched in the eye just for saying Hi.  (That time I was actually hysterical and completely embarrassed myself, my sister, my son and the mother of the hitter.)  Most of the time I don't say anything and just redirect my son to another kid or another area.  Almost always the child he is speaking to is shy or distracted and doesn't even realize.  But my irrational fear is that he will lose his gentle, friendly happy spirit even though he always seems unfazed.

Two day ago we were at a playground and he tried to join a group of kids his age, first he asked if they would like to play his game 'Ninjas' and they ignored him.  He persisted and asked their names and told them his, he was still ignored.  He asked them what they were playing.  They all still ignored him.  As the group of four year olds stood there in silence for a few moments, one girl instructed the other two boys to "walk away slowly and act normal."   I am heartbroken again, I want to scream.  But she is only 4 and Cleary doesn't even seem to mind, so I keep my calm and play Ninjas with Cleary.  We went to the playground again the next day and he quickly made a friend as he was not phased in the least by rudeness from the day before, I'm not even sure he noticed.  He comes home from school and tells me sadly of the friends who won't play with him but excited about the fun he has had with the friends who want to play.  He is resilient, I have to keep telling myself this because I have no other answer.

I have been searching for over a year for peace on this subject, I know there has to be an answer.  I have asked all of my friends, what would you do?  What do you say to your child who is hurt because another kid won't play with him?  And then I remembered this...

"I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers." Kahlil Gibran

So, I hope to be kind and inclusive.  I strive to be more friendly and inviting.  I will encourage my children to be kind and friendly.  They will have plenty of opportunities to learn from the unkind.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let me introduce you to my doll family!

These are a few of the first Naptown Boys.  Well, I thought they were all boys...

Shephard and Clover, the two on the left still live here.

The guy on the far left is Shephard, the very first waldorf doll made by me.

Shephard looks like this now.  (he's always naked)

I was so proud of Shephard, I knew I wanted to make 100 more.  Is he perfect?  No, certainly not.  Has that stopped him from being desperately loved?  Again, No.

I really wanted his eyes to be perfectly round, perfectly even.  After my 5th or 6th attempt I settled with close enough.  Shephard was handed over to my son who was anxious to meet him and given a huge chocolate milk kiss right on the forehead.  I will never forget that kiss!

Shephards hair was suppose to be long and messy, but I cut all of the yarn into strands and half way through realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn.   So I cut the yarn in half, it still wasn't enough so I had to take some out and cut it in half and put the two strands back in.  He ended up with long shaggy hair in the front and short in the back.  At least it's not a mullet right?

The pattern I bought did not explain how how to turn the rectangle of fabric into shoulders and arms.  I decided square must be right.  He is wrinkly, he is lumpy, he is messy.  He has sloppy stitching all over and mistakes galore.  Is he perfect?  Actually yes, I guess he is.

So lets move on to doll number two... (the guy up there in the brown shirt) poor guy sat on a shelf in my studio for a year.  I was so sad about his short squatty forehead.  I couldn't believe I would make a doll that looked so weird... especially after I had just made one so perfect.  I finally had just right round eyes and the shoulders nice and tidy, but he absolutely didn't have any forehead at all!  Who could ever love a doll like that.

I ended up taking out his perfectly round eyes and making them smaller to help the forehead grow, so he has a little scar from that.  I tried at least 3 different types of hair and moved his hairline up as much as I could, and then he became Clover.  Our very first girl!

See his... um, her neat shoulders compared to Shephard?  She's still not perfect (she's lumpy and bumpy and not stuffed enough, her arms are too fat and hands too small, she has wrinkles in her forehead and it's still too short), but we love her!
Shephard is a whopping 22" and Clover is 18" but I was aiming for 16"!

 Now I must introduce you to Nickel, the absolutely most loved doll in our house.  He was made for my nephew but stollen straight off my sewing table by my son.  He was never even finished.  No belly button or leg seams, poor guy.

Now, I was absolutely positive that Nickel was perfect in every single way when I first made him, nice shoulders, neater stitching.  Round eyes on the very first (okay, maybe second) try!  But looking back, on this doll that I made over two years ago, I see so many things that I would 'fix' because he is full of mistakes. 

These were my first dolls, I was learning.  Do I strive for perfection with every doll I make, as a doll maker?  Yes! ... is what you expect me to say, but let me put it this way instead.  
I will be as perfect as I have gotten.

I tried to get a group shot of our doll family, but little man said "me have all off them!" 

If you are making your first doll, just remember wether every stitch is perfect or not they will still be full of magic in you child's eyes. 

We have one more doll joining our family this week and  I will share with you how much difference a few years of practice makes!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Romy the Butterfly girl.

Romy is a 8.5" tall Napling Butterfly.  She is made of hand dyed organic wool interlock.  She is stuffed with eco wool.  Her face is made of cotton and the details on her face and wings are embroidered with cotton floss.  Romy comes with two dresses.  The floral dress has a removable black ribbon and black lace up boots.  She also has a white skirt that comes with a simple pink ribbon that is wrapped around and tied as a shirt.

Romy is a wonderful storyteller. She can talk and talk and talk... sometimes she doesn't even realize that there is no-one around to hear her story. But, believe me when I say you don't want to miss her tales!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"One sunday morning the warm sun came up!"

When I showed a friend my newly completed set of dolls she looked at my beaming face and said "Sometimes you even impress yourself, huh?"  Well, yes I suppose I do.  Humbleness aside (actually, I'm still working on that trait) these dolls have got me floored!  I can only take a little credit on their beauty.  Eric Carle was the inspiration, and they were a custom request from a Mamma who clearly has an artistic vision beyond mine.  I told her I did not think I could do it, but her confidence in me spurred me to try.  

They were certainly fun to make, and like most moms these days I can recite Eric Carle books by memory so his cute stories were running though my head with every stitch.  If you are wondering my favorite Eric Carle book is the Grouchy Ladybug, but Brown Bear, Brown Bear is the book that has seen the most wear!  What's your favorite Eric Carle book?