Friday, February 26, 2010

{Simply Handmade} Little Bird's Birthday Present

For his birthday, I made Little Bird a couple of shirts but also wanted to make him something fun and cute. I saw something I liked and (unable and unwilling to fork over the huge price), decided I could probably make one myself. So, I went for it. And dare I say, it is quite the cutest thing. I used the monster theme from his birthday and made him a hooded towel, knowing that I could at least manage the hood part after making Squirrel's Halloween Costume.

Sorry for the "flashy" photo--the Mister was playing xBox and the light disturbs him...

It makes bath time about the most fun ever!


Squirrel's pretty jealous. She keeps asking if she can wear her brother's "monster and say Rar". I'm going to make her one too, but haven't decided if I need to wait until her birthday or just hand it over for fun. Just for good measure, here she is all wrapped up, sans a monster towel. 

Have one fantastic day!

P.S. On the subject of birthdays, Bloom Workshops is having a birthday bash for some awesome giveaways. I, of course, am (always) in need of ways improve my photography skills, so I am shamefully promoting their awesome week of giveaways! Check it out here!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"They ask me such questions as, if I think I can live on vegetable food alone..."

In the pursuit of trying to feed my children a bit better, I bought some V8 juice at the store.

The Mister laughed outright when he saw it come out of the bag. "Have you tried that?" he laughed. When I answered that I had not, he laughed harder and said, "Well, you're going to! No fair giving it to the kids and not trying it yourself."

I figured that millions of people must drink the stuff--it can't be all that bad. Besides, Squirrel and Little Bird don't get juice that often, so I thought maybe V8 would be a nice respite from the drudgery of milk and water. Plus, I like to think HDT would have liked V8, had he had it...

Initially, Squirrel was wary and disinterested, so it just sat on the counter. Two days passed and she brought me the bottle, saying that she would like some, so I happily obliged, pouring a bit into her sippy cup. Then I carefully observed to see how my sugar-addicted child would react.
It went about as well as the Mister had predicted.

At first, she just scrunched up her nose. And then she looked at me like I had set her tongue on fire--which she then began to scratch, as if she could rub the taste off. She handed me back her sippy cup, shaking her head no, and pronounced with a look of disgust, "MOMMY! I not LIKE that ketchup juice!"

I tried awfully hard to stifle my laughter as I poured it out and gave her some milk instead.

Later, after I told the Mister how it had gone over, he offered her some more.
"NO!" she said to his offer.
"Why not?" he asked.
She gave him her signature "you are either crazy or an idiot" look, and said, "Because it's KETCHUP!"

Later that night, I finally gave in and tasted some V8.

Turns out, I don't like that ketchup juice either....

Monday, February 22, 2010

"a hundred chickens, all in pursuit of one bug..."

I took some time to document Little Bird's birthday with some one year photos while in Utah. The first few went pretty well. (Isn't his little tie-applique shirt I made him too cute? I used this tutorial.)

Then we did a little wardrobe change to the monster shirt I made him (no tutorial here...that was all me!). 

The trouble was that in the time it took to change his shirt, Grandpa's chickens came over to investigate...and as you can see, Little Bird did NOT like that one bit.

Getting a little nervous at their approach...

Okay, definitely freaked out!

So, I didn't get exactly what I was after, but love these just as much!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Little Bird's Birthday

Part of the reason I have been scarce is that we left town for a few days. We headed to Utah to visit the Mister's wonderful family and celebrate Little Bird's birthday while there.

For his birthday, he got a couple of appliqued shirts and the cutest thing I have EVER made (more on that soon!). The only other birthday present he got was the world's MOST adorable cake. I found Ashley on a local bulletin board and saw her blog here. I fell in love with some of her adorable designs and the fact that she sends a free smash cake along with birthday cakes for first birthdays. She was so open to my monster themed idea and when I went to pick up the cakes, I was totally knocked over by how cute they were!

It almost seemed a shame to cut into them, but they were just as delicious as they were adorable! Obviously...

Blowing out the candle:

Squirrel helps too:


Gluttony at its cutest...

I told you, he definitely enjoyed it! 

Happy Birthday, Little Bird! 

{More from this guy soon!} 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Things do not change. We change."

Sorry for my absence! We went away to visit family for Little Bird's birthday and were met with large doses of chaos on our return. But I am hoping to get back into the swing of things very soon. I have about a billion adorable (and hilarious) photos from Little Bird's birthday to share, but those will come later. For now, this:

I have not set foot into a Target store since the end of December. {And yes, that was my sister audibly gasping that you just heard...I'm quite sure I heard it here, too...three states away...}

You see, I am a hardcore Target fan. I don't think that in all the time that we lived in Phoenix, I ever went a single week without at least one (and often more) visits. One of my favorite parts of the week was the Sunday newspaper with the store ads--and always, I saved Target's ad for last to enjoy and flip through over and over again. Then we moved to rural Idaho.

The nearest Target store is about 30-35 minutes away, and admittedly, when we first moved, I was just itching to think of any possible reason to get down there and shop. Unfortunately, I couldn't ever find a good enough reason that I knew the Mister would sign off on, and so I just never made it. At first, it was HARD. And then, like any addiction, the longing started to slowly slip away.

Sure, sometimes I still get the longings for the beautiful red and white sales displays, aisle upon aisle of inexpensive (and largely unnecessary) goods. But mostly, I'm just pretty proud of myself and impressed at how much I have changed, even if the world hasn't.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To my Son, on his first birthday...

Dear Little Bird,

When you entered the world, I hardly realized that you would arrive in the same manner in which you would live your day to day life. You came at just the right moment. Your birth was full of joy and desires fulfilled. You arrived in just the way I hoped--you came quickly (too quickly for the doctor to arrive!) and without influence of medication. I remember when you were born, the single cry to let me know you were well, and then the quiet calm that came over you as settled into this new place with me and your father. I remember the quiet gaze, steady in spite of my giddiness over your arrival. The relief that swept over me as I held you in my arms, nursed you, bathed you, watched you--so proud of both of us and overjoyed at your positive perfection. You continue to amaze me at the way you peacefully, happily move through life. Your first night was a taste of our beautiful life with you in it.

As a baby, you barely cried. I remember how often I felt glad you were my second, with none of the colic or sleepless nights of your sister. It made me appreciate all the more how sweet and mild you are. You would wake up from your naps or your nights of sleep and coo softly to yourself--sometimes I wouldn't even know how long you had been awake, and so I took to checking on you every few minutes so you wouldn't be left alone. I had to check your diaper just as often because you never fussed unless you were hungry, ignoring even dirty diapers.

You were, and are, so patient with me. Being a mother of two was a learning process, and you taught me to be a better mother. You taught me that love grows infinitely; it knows no bounds in number or in force. You taught me to sacrifice and to let go of fears. You taught me to live more deeply and to be more honest with myself.

Just days before you were born, I remember a sense of panic at the change I was creating for your sister. I was worried that I might be taking something from her. And then a thought from the Spirit came into my heart and I realized something. I had known lots of only-children who had wished for a sibling, but never a child with siblings who wished to be an "only." I realized then that you were a gift to your sister, and I know that she has been a gift to you. I am grateful for the fact that when I and your father are gone, you will always have one another. I think your sister recognized this in the instant that she met you. When we brought you to our home for the first time, she carefully, one by one, brought all of the things she loved most in the world and laid them near you--her blankie, her teddy, her puppy, her pillow, and more--to put you to bed in your new place. She may not always share as well now, but I see in her actions towards you--her desire to pick you up when you cry, to feed you, to call you to play--that you are the biggest blessing in her life. I see that she will love you deeply and fiercely into the eternities.

You are wild about your father. Your love for him makes me love him deeper and harder each time I see it. From the time you were just a month old, you knew when he was due to come home and were desperate if he ran late. Nothing I could do would appease you until you had been held or tossed or snuggled by your daddy. At the sound of his voice now, you come running from whatever room you are in to search him out. There is nothing but pride and love in him when he looks at you.

Over these few months, you have grown in the heartbreaking way that babies do. You learned to crawl (before you could sit up) at 7.5 months. Although you cruised for many weeks, you really began to walk on your own in your 10th month, and were completely independent in the week we moved to Idaho. You grow independent, sometimes getting frustrated, but ever willing to accept help and guidance as you try to learn new tasks and communicate your needs. You danced for the first time today. You point at everything now, a skill you've only just picked up. When I say "touch" you mimic and reach a pointer to touch to mine (our secret family signal for "I love you"--a tradition started well before your dad and I even married). You giggle (and always have) at positively everything--your blanket, your sister, the animal pictures in books, wearing shoes, getting a bath, music, food, LIFE. There is nothing that doesn't bring you laughter.

You are, above all things, exuberant. You have from the first week of your life smiled readily. You love nothing more than to be smiled at in return. Your smile makes me laugh a deep laugh that comes from the wildest places of my heart and lifts me. I held such fear that when your first teeth came in, it would "ruin" that perfect toothless grin--but as your teeth have arrived (from 8 months on), I have realized that it is simply your spirit, the expression of your soul behind that smile, that makes the world pause in awe when you light up. There are many, many days where that smile has saved me. You are joy made manifest.

I cannot imagine what I must have done in my previous life to be so deserving of you. I cannot imagine, but I am endlessly grateful for it. You are proof that my Heavenly Father loves me, and I only hope that I can be the type of mother to you that is worthy to have such a soul in my home.

I love you endlessly--up, down and through the ages-- my Little Bird.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Are you one of the ninety-seven who fail, or one of the three who succeed?"

I hope, that for you, you are one of the three that succeed. As for myself...well, let me leave that question open ended for a bit.

For Christmas, my sister {who I MISS! and who is one of my favorite people EVER! and who is so BEAUTIFUL!

Isn't she beautiful?} got me this cute little crochet kit. You see, I've been trying to teach myself (with a little help from YouTube) how to crochet for the past year or so. It is kind of slow-going, but this adorable little kit promised to show me how to quickly and easily whip up the most scrumptious little animals.

The first project was this fish. A fish with big full kissy lips and a tail just screaming out in darling whimsy.

Who could resist busting that box open and getting started? Not me, that's who. The pattern looked simple enough, and I thought it would take me an evening to do it. 

Well, four evenings later {and by evenings, I mean VERY late nights watching a lot of dumb movies on the computer on Netflix while I developed permanent dents on my fingers from the TINY crochet hook}, I finally had a finished product {and by finished product I mean a gross deformity resembling the original in color only...}

{Poor thing has a severe case of facial herpes; plus, its tail is on sideways and flops like a...well, like a dead fish...}

Squirrel ransacked my crochet basket one of the mornings between my "evenings" of labor, and his eyes were lost...meaning my adorable kissy-fish is not only deformed, but also sightless--these sorts of stories really are tragic, no?

Next on the docket is this snuggly looking beaver...

{Look at him just waiting for a hug!}

I just hope he turns out closer to the original than the fish did, because right now, I'm worried about having something that looks more like this when I'm finished:

By the way...the answer to the question: 

I am one in 97. 

Thanks, Sis! I still love it! 

Friday, February 5, 2010

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book."

Obviously, I'm a big Thoreau fan. And just as clearly, his words have made a powerful impression upon this reader. However, this post is not {exactly} about Thoreau...rather it is a gift I received from a friend at the start of this journey. And my apologies, because this post is a long time coming.

I am blessed to have the friendship and support of a group of women I came into contact with in an online forum. Originally, we started out trying to learn a little something on a somewhat unusual subject--cloth diapers. But our common interest was seeded in other, more meaningful commonalities--love for family, love of learning, respect for others and for the world in which we live. As such, the support from that group of women expanded far beyond the covering of our children's tushies, and I feel privileged to call many of these women my friends.

Indeed, one of these friends yet again demonstrated that love when she sent me an incredibly thoughtful gift as we began our attempts to simplify our lives. As a surprise one day, I arrived at the mailbox to see a package waiting for me, and what was inside, but one of the most wonderful children's books I had ever had the pleasure to read! The book, Henry Builds a Cabin is based on Thoreau's time at Walden Pond. It is filled with unique illustrations and tells the story, simply and clearly, without sacrificing its profundity. I was filled with gratitude and sentimentality when I first read it, and continue to be so each time I peruse it again. So, Helene, THANK YOU.

AND...if you'd like to see a few pages of Henry Builds a Cabin, you can see it right here. Or check it out from your local library and read it to your children {or yourself!}.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"{She} was indeed a silly loon..."

Well, I failed in my pursuit against consumerism today. I bought some things I neither needed, nor even wanted. Thoreau would be so disappointed in me.

It really wasn't my fault though. It was Squirrel's. And her pet dragon...and tiger...

I had to take the kids to Enormous Rural Big-Box Store today. This is the type of thing I had spent pretty much all my time trying to avoid when we lived in Phoenix...but when you move to the middle of nowhere, it seems that Enormous Rural Big-Box Store is the only option you have for most things.

So I get my critters both loaded up, and away we go. On the way, Squirrel does this new thing, where she says, "I have a special present for you!!!" and then holds out her empty hands to offer you up an imaginary present. Well, this time, it just so happened to be a baby dragon. She offers it to me, then changes her mind because (as was explained to me) it missed its mommy and daddy and needed HER to take care of it. (Of course. What dragon
wouldn't want a two and half year old as its sole caretaker?) Okay, that's fine and all. She's welcome to take care of the dragon, but the kid would NOT put down her hands from the "I'm carrying a baby dragon" position out in front of her. When we were getting out of the car and walking into the store I was having quite the time wrangling her, since every time I tried to take her hand, she shoots me a dirty look and says, " baby dragon!" like I am some kind of fool-idiot.

So here I am in the parking lot of Enormous Big Box Store, attempting to keep Little Bird in my arms and prevent Squirrel from getting run over in a parking lot, and this little old man sees me trying to wrangle them and offers me the cart he had just finished unloading. He brings it over and I thank him.  Then, this sweet old man pulls out his wallet and says, "See here what Old Santa Claus has for you two kiddos? I bet you like shopping," and starts handing dollar bills to my kids! I am, of course, completely mortified by this. I can't possibly take this old man's money, but how can I deny him what is obviously the pleasure of giving it? I did not think this sort of thing even happened in the real world. So I stand there, with my social awkwardness spilling out from every fiber, and end up just thanking him profusely. As we walk away, I have to stick Squirrel's dollar in her pocket because she is still carefully holding the baby dragon and will only rest the money across his "back" (aka, her empty hands.)

So in we go, two dollars and a baby dragon wealthier than when we left. Just after entering Rural Big Box Store, Squirrel discovers yet another creature--a little (invisible) baby tiger who is apparently also in need of her care. Naturally, she accepts the charge and picks up the poor thing. On she goes, walking with her hands out, gently holding the baby illusions, explaining to everyone we pass that in one hand is a tiger, in the other a dragon. "Yes," I nod silently to passers-by, "I am mother of a lunatic." Our first stop (following the obligatory animal rescues) was the sippy cup aisle. As I stand there pouring over the choices, I notice Squirrel is squirming. I ask her if she needs to go potty, to which she says no, but then "drops" babies tiger and dragon to grab herself and begin the potty dance. Upon realizing she has dropped her charges, she cries out, "Oh! Baby tiger and dragon!"

I keep asking her if she needs to go potty, but her concern continues vacillating between going potty and her figmental animals. She walks with me toward the bathroom for a few steps, but then turns around in concern over them. I tell her to simply put Tiger and Dragon in the cart, but at this point, she can't let go of her crotch, she's got to pee so bad, and she's walking around in this state of soul-splitting agony with her knees together. Suddenly, as though she's made the heart-wrenching decision for self sacrifice, she cries out once more, "Baby Tiger! Baby Dragon!", spreads her legs, and pees all over the floor of Rural Big Box Store! 

Awesome. I mean, really...awesome.

I rationalize that we are going to need another bag of baby wipes eventually and grab one from a nearby aisle. (Unintended Purchase #1) I tear open the package and wipe up the mess, then stand Squirrel up in the cart. I next pick up a pack of panties (UP#2), and a sweatshirt (UP#3) and pants (UP#4) on clearance, none of which we needed--at least not before this outing of ours. We head to the layaway restroom, I get her changed, and I take the tags from the clothes and pay for them back there. Glad the episode is over, I resume my shopping, get the items that had actually been on my list, and head for the check out. On the way, Squirrel suddenly gasps and cries again, "Baby Dragon! Baby Tiger!" apparently realizing that the invisible animals were left alone way back in the sippy cup aisle. She starts to cry and tells me, "Mommy! We neeeeed FIND them!"

I figure the short detour is worth my child's undying devotion to her patient mother, so back to the aisle we go. However, upon our arrival, I am informed by the little caretaker that the beasts have wandered off, are now lost, and we
must look for them. So, around we go, searching Enormous Rural Bix Box Store for the imaginary animals, whose description and whereabouts only my 2.5 year old is privy to, all the while with her calling out for "Baby Tiiiiger! Baby Draaaagon! Where you?" Finally, at some point Baby Dragon was spotted, wrangled, reprimanded for getting lost and placed in the cart, and a few aisles later near the make-up, Baby Tiger was also found and saved, with much snuggling and words like " okay Baby Tiger! I have you" and Etc.

We happily made it out of there and to our next store, where I informed Squirrel that this particular store had a no-dragon and no-tiger policy, and so they would need to stay in the car while we went inside. Consequently, no further unintended purchases were made. 

See...? A baby dragon is feeding my consumerism. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Thoreau Didn't Know...

I just want to share a few pictures today.

Really these are the rest of the photos in a series--the first being the one of Squirrel in yesterday's post. The little tutu she is wearing is quite her favorite thing in the universe. She also likes to wear her robot leg warmers (or, "dancy legs" as she calls them), and tiptoe around for all the world to see. One of her cousins, who is older and in ballet, just started on point a few weeks before we left Phoenix. Squirrel loves to emulate that...and I have to admit, she gets pretty high up on those tippy-toes!

She'll dance around a while--very hard to take a picture of this one, fast as she is....

And then...well, then she gets distracted...

and stands still...

Well...stands still for a second...{I just can't stop laughing at this picture!} 

I hope the music carries you away! 

And tell me, what makes you happy today?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Squirrel and Little Bird!

I've struggled with the whole don't-put-your-kids-name-on-the-internet thing. I know that pretty much everyone who reads this is a personal friend or family member and already know my kids names, and so it has been tempting to just "out" them with their real names...but I do actually get a surprising number of foreign language and bizarre comments (hello, comment moderation), and when it comes to my children, I don't really feel like I can be too safe at maintaining their privacy.

In the beginning, I sort of just called each of them SOMEthing, because I didn't want to use their names, but never felt like I'd get as much pleasure from continuing to post as I do, so the time finally came to give them official "blog names". I hated the idea of calling them just another name here, because their names are so tied to my perception of them, so I've been thinking and scouring to come up with a name for each of them. I had a few parameters I wanted to meet--nature inspired, indicative of their personality, short, memorable, and something Thoreau would have liked. :)

So first, here's Squirrel:

Two and a half years old and full to the brim with crazy, she fits Thoreau's description here pretty much perfectly:
"All day long the red squirrels came and went and afforded me much entertainment by their maneuvers [...] for all the motions of a squirrel, even in the most solitary recesses of the forest, imply spectators as much as those of a dancing girl--wasting more time in delay and circumspection than would have sufficed to walk the whole distance--I never saw one walk--and then suddenly, [...] he would be in the top of a young pitch pine, winding up his clock and chiding all imaginary spectators, soliloquizing and talking to all the universe at the same time,--for no reason that I could ever detect, or he himself was aware of, I suspect." 

Every minute spent watching this child is filled with movement, and words, and dance, and chatter, and delight. So Squirrel she hath been dubbed.

Next up, is Little Bird:

He's about to turn one, and if I had to describe him in a word, it would be exuberant. Though Thoreau often wrote of the songs of the chickadees and sparrows that brought joy to him, I just couldn't find quite the right birdie/nickname for my little man. The inspiration didn't actually come from Thoreau's writing, but was created when a poem by one of his contemporaries came to my mind:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

                                           --Emily Dickinson

He is a Little Bird that perches in the soul. Endlessly happy and unfaze-able, he is the child that lights a room with his smile and laughter and only lives to be loved on. He is the Little Bird in my heart.

So there they are, my two little wild creatures in our own little Walden. Mesmerizing, joyful, light-giving.