Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring Vacation Week

For once we had fantastic weather for school vacation week. We went to the beach, where the water temperature, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, was barely tolerable. Daughter #2 was smart enough to play only on the beach. Daughter #1 was in such denial and we wound up leaving the beach earlier than anticipated due to extremely cold legs. But, while there, she found a huge mussel shell. We also visited a local zoo with friends and played outside every day. It should have been no surprise though to find that they were both a bit loopy on Sunday night.

The girls dressed the dog up so she could play with them. They also painted - with black paint. My older one actually painted on paper.

The younger one...well...she perfectly centered her hand and feet prints on our white tile floor in our foyer. My husband cleaned up all evidence of her painting - except for one handprint on the wall. Overall, since they were outside for the majority of the week, I'd say the house, and dog, got off easy with only one day / night of intense abuse.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ode to Freecycle (TM)

I do not have a fabric stash. Thanks to freecycle that all changed this weekend.

What’s Freecycle? It is a grassroots non-profit movement where people give and get things for free.

I have given away items in the past but never really thought of asking for anything until this past week. My daughter wants to learn how to sew. Her one friend has a Hello Kitty sewing machine and makes things and another friend sews so, why can’t she? Well, if I had a bigger fabric stash I wouldn’t mind her experimenting, but I don't have a lot of extra fabric for a child to just play with or practice sewing. But she was adamant. Ergo, like any mother looking to please her child while not wanted to spend a lot of money, I put out a WANTED request on Freecycle and the nicest people in the world responded.

One woman e-mailed me about a quilt she had cut out but had never sewed together and another woman had a bunch of fabric scraps to give me. I got the quilt the very next day. The main fabric is a fish fabric and my daughter LOVES fish. I told her it is something we will do this Spring / Summer as a together project. The other person gave me a bunch of zippers and scraps and yarn – just the perfect stuff for a girl learning to sew. We can make a crazy quilt together. There is some heart fabric that is adorable and there are quite a few ‘large’ pieces of it (at least eight inches by eight inches). When I asked her what she wanted to do with it she said she wanted to make her sister a love frog out of it so they could each have their own. Such a great kid. Such a great goal.

She had her first lesson on the sewing machine today and couldn’t have been any happier and neither could I.

My little plug for freecycle is this – visit their website. See if there is a freecycle group near you. If there is, join it and help keep items out of the landfill.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bedtime for a three-year-old

a.k.a. Mommy wants alone time - a short play

Scene opens with a three-year-old wrapped up in a fleece blanket standing off-stage in the hallway. The mother is standing in the doorway of the three-year-old’s room.

MOTHER: (firmly) You need to sleep in your bed tonight.

Mother tightly shuts the door across the hall, walks into the toddler’s bedroom, and turns on the light. A room littered with stuffed animals and books as well as a full-sized bed greets the mother. The dejected toddler follows the mother into the room. Crawls into her bed and watches as her mother walks across the room to turn the light off.

CHILD: I want the light on Mommy (child is crying, sobbing, voice wavering through gasping sobs)

MOTHER: I want the light on mommy – what?

CHILD: I want the light on please (still crying).

MOTHER: (Obliges the request and returns to the bed picking-up books that are scattered across the floor as she walks.) Do you want some books? Here’s one. (Hands child one of the books.)

CHILD: N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O Books!

MOTHER: (Keep putting books on the bed.) Here’s another, and –oooh- look, a princess book. Now, let me give you a hug and a kiss.

Grab child ignore her crying and proceed to smother her with hugs and kisses and a few tickles for good measure. Hug one last time then leave the room. Walk down hall to older child who knows the routine and gladly accepts reading time alone, hugs and kisses.

SUCCESS! Go upstairs to your office / sewing room and enjoy alone time. As soon as you are settled into your chair you hear noises from below. The three-year-old is shaking the baby gate in the hallway. Now she leans against it.

CHILD: (softly, sleepily whines from off-stage) “I want mommy.”

SISTER: (also off-stage) Come here my baby.

The three-year-old is heard shuffling into her sister’s room and climbing onto her sister’s bed.

SISTER: There, there. Everything’s going to be alright.

CHILD: whimpers a bit to elicit more coddling.

There is some brief talking then silence.

Okay – silence until about 11 pm when the three-year-old then wakes up with her usual night terrors and the older sister is still acting like a good mother and trying to reassure her that everything is okay. Of course, by now you feel guilty for leaving your younger child in bed with your older child so you take the three-year-old to your bed – exactly where you were trying to not have her sleep in the first place. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow night.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Life on the farm

We visited a local farm yesterday and joined their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Click here to learn more about what a CSA is. While at the farm the girls picked flowers, as well as weeds, and were pleased as punch to feed them to the 600 chickens that live on the farm solely to provide eggs. There are also honey bees, cows, goats, pigs and turkeys.

And, an interesting fact I learned while there, is that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts comes out to the farm every month and tests the blood of every single chicken for disease. I liked knowing that is there was a check and balance system in place since the news always seems to only promote horror stories (like when there is an outbreak of a disease) as opposed to the precautions farmers and the state are taking.

If you are interested in finding a CSA near you check out this link. There is a newsletter you can sign up for here as well as a locator that will help you find local farms from 10 miles up to 100 miles from the zip code you enter.

An here is what we did with some of the real flowers that we found. Created a makeshift car vase and gave them to a friend whose birthday is Saturday. Gotta love simple pleasures and gifts.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's A Wrap!

Last night I finished sewing a skirt for me. This is the first thing I have ever made myself. I'm really happy with it - even though, as I was about three-quarters of the way through, I realized I hadn't placed my pattern pieces on the fabric the way the book told me to. Oh well. I still think the skirt came out great and can't wait to make another one, following the directions better this time! The pattern is from sew what! SKiRTS. I really like the book since it allows you to use your measurements to create a pattern. I drew my pattern on freezer paper so I could use it again.

While I was sewing the skirt my children decided to go through my purse and discovered my lipstick. My husband sent them up to find me.

She's doing her best Project Runway model pose. If you look to the right of daughter #1 you will see the skirt on the ironing board in the background.

By the way daughter #2 has applied her lipstick we think she is channeling the spirit of her late paternal grandmother.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mermaid Skirt Tutorial

My older daughter loves mermaids, fairies and anything Harry Potter. For her birthday this year she wanted a mermaid theme. In the past I had made mermaid outfits from a pattern but really didn’t want to bother with a pattern I didn’t love for eight little girls. So, using one of my daughter’s mermaid dolls as a template I came up with a mermaid skirt that was easy to sew. What I didn’t get a picture of was my mom, dad and daughter sitting at our kitchen table the night before her party stuffing the mermaid tails. My poor dad – he thought he would get lobster tails while visiting New England. He had no idea mermaid tails were all we were serving!

Fabric: If for some reason you purchase fabric that is only printed on one side all is not lost. Instead of making the sparkly fabric the outside just make it the inside. I did it and it looked fine.
Length: By making the skirt ankle length the tail will drag on the floor behind the mermaid. Be forewarned – if another child, adult or large pet steps on the tail the stuffed tail may separate. My kids prefer the tail to be long and trail behind them. If you don’t want it trailing behind them make your skirt shorter.
If your mermaid has sensitive skin you may want to sew a ribbon around the waist where the sparkle material is folded inside for the waistband.
Feeling ultra crafty? Feel free to glue or sew on other accents – seashells, seaweed, flotsam, jetsam, etc.

Sew Mama Sew is having a tutorial contest. I am inspired practically daily by this blog. I thought why not throw my hat in the ring with this and hopefully return the favor and inspire someone else.
Without further ado, here is a tutorial of how to sew a mermaid skirt.
Have fun!

*******Working Tutorial Link added on Tuesday, July 24th -  - Have fun!  **********

 (edited to add: To all visiting from Natron und Sodas Forum - Willkommen. I spreche ein bischen Deutsch. Fragen? e-mail me at: beth (at) bethvanduzer (dot) com Vielen Dank, Beth)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


For Christmas my older daughter received a Make Your Own Fairy Kit by Klutz. We just used it for the first time tonight (I know it's April). Older children would be able to do more on their own but it was fun having the four of us sit around making fairies with the children handing the parents the petals they wanted to use for skirts. The only downer - you are supposed to let the glue dry for about thirty minutes and that, for youngsters, is an eternity!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Harcourt Fenton Mudd!

If you know that name you're a Trekkie! But really, I'm here to talk about Mud. The stuff you get when you combine water and dirt. We finally had spring-like weather yesterday. What do you do once snow has melted and the thermometer finally stays above the forty degree mark? Why, play in the mud of course. After making muddy feet and muddy footprints the girls moved up to making

mud pies,

mud cakes and mud meat (sorry - camera batteries died before I could get a picture of that but it was the cheapest to buy). Daughter #1 is learning about money in school and had a very unique way of pricing items.

We also played hopscotch.

And observed daffodils starting to grow!

The best part? The kids, and I, all fell fast asleep by 8 pm. Yay nice weather!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Making food for the babies

The baby fish that is. My dear husband is going away on a business trip soon and I am being trained to make baby brine shrimp to feed to our baby guppies and plattys. What do baby brine shrimp look like? So glad you asked. Click here. If you ever grew these you have grown brine shrimp. In twenty-four to thirty-six hours we'll know if I followed his directions correctly and if I can be trusted to grow brine shrimp while he's out of town.


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