Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to Casey, a.k.a. Daddy to Max and a daughter to be born in 10 weeks, starter of this blog, my feet on the ground, my partner in crime, my extra set of hands, and my provider of reality and perspective. Daddy doesn’t get much play these days with Max entering a clingy-to-mom toddler phase, but I know the day isn’t too far off when Max will idolize his Daddy and want to be just like him. (One of Max’s favorite games is trying on Casey’s shoes. He has discovered they are big shoes to fill, but undaunted, he keeps trying them on and stumbling forward with massive weights around each ankle, a huge grin on his face as he imagines looking just like Dad.) Max is a lucky boy because he has the best daddy around.

His daddy fixes what is broken, whether it is a running toilet or a bloody lip. He wears cargo pants (and, uh, occasionally a kilt) with pockets big enough for diapers, bottles, and toys. He teaches how to give bear hugs and that farts are funny. Daddy cleans the house and washes Max’s hands, even when he doesn’t agree that either are actually dirty. He gives swim lessons and figures out how to download Elmo videos to his iPhone. He stands by stoically while Max has medical tests done that Mama couldn’t bear to watch. His patience for reading and rereading Max’s favorite farm animal book is endless.

Casey, happy Father’s Day from Max, Baby #2 and me. We love you!

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We’re baaaack!

We braved the wilds of Costa Rica!

Actually, it was pretty luxurious, but we did have run-ins with freaky bugs, marauding crabs, wild monkeys (other than Max!), and, of course, Max managed to get sick and spike a 103 degree fever during the week. It was a great trip, though. Highlights were picture-perfect sunsets every night, great weather with temperatures in the 80s (at least 15 degrees cooler than NC’s highs last week!), and an awesome pool that we had all to ourselves. You know we took a lot of pictures. I was able to narrow them down to only(!) 70-some of my favorites, and here’s the album.

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An upcoming adventure

I can’t believe it’s already nearly the end of May! That means it is almost time for a long-planned vacation to Costa Rica with Casey’s family. Yes, we’re packing up a 26-week pregnant mama and 18 month old to head to the jungles of central America. It’s not a vacation unless it’s exciting!

Casey and I visited Costa Rica in 2008 and loved it. The adventure trip we took back then is a bit different than the kind of trip we’re planning this time (staying in a modern rental home on the beach) and we’ll be taking a LOT more luggage this time! But I think it will still be an adventure.

Part of the goal of my recent baby carrier sewing experiments was to come up with a design that could be made with UV-protectant “solarweave” fabric. So last week, after several practice attempts, I made a solarweave back carrier for Max. It’s lightweight, cool, can get wet, dries fast, and is reasonably comfortable. He’s a bit heavy for solarweave fabric at 25 lbs (I noticed it tends to sag a bit after a few minutes of wear), so this might soon be passed down to the new baby. Here are some photos.

Hood rolled up in back:

Hood up! (There are drawstrings to make it fit, but Max was NOT pleased to model them. LOL.)

Now, off to make a packing list for the trip. We leave Friday. I still need to figure out the best/safest sunscreen and bug spray for toddlers…and if there’s some secret to applying it so it doesn’t end up in Max’s eyes. Wish me luck!

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First swim of the year!

The pool in our subdivision opened last weekend, to decidedly un-summery weather. It has been rainy and cool-ish for the past two weeks. So the pool was freezing. But that didn’t stop Casey and Max from taking a dip on Sunday, which was at least sunny. Max LOVED it, despite purple lips and chattering teeth. Here’s a video! I think he looks like such a little man in his swim outfit and hat.

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More craftiness??

More arts n’ crafts! (I must be pregnant, cuz I’m not usually this domestic!) Actually, I think it’s just the freedom of wrapping up the semester and knowing I don’t have to go to work again until August. I need projects to keep me sane during the long days home with Max.

Every so often, I get the idea to sew something. I am not much of a sew-er. I CAN sew, because I took Home Ec, and my mom can sew  and taught be a few things. Basically, I own a sewing machine, can thread it, turn it on, and I know how to switch between different stitches. That’s about it. I can’t read patterns at all, so I generally freehand everything. That works well for curtains and pillowcases, not so well for clothing or other detailed stuff, so I tend to stay away from that.

But I became convinced last week that I could sew a mei tai baby carrier. I had been wanting to buy one, and I even sold quite a few of my excessive stash of baby wraps to stockpile some funds. I bought a secondhand mei tai, and although it is beautiful, I was kind of under-awed by how simple the darn thing is. And it wasn’t cheap. So I started looking around online and found tons of tutorials and NO patterns (yay!). I bought fabric, which pretty much committed me to actually sewing the thing.

Here are links to some great resources for making carriers:
Make a Scandi Mei Tai
Safe Stitching Guidelines
Making an Onbu (similar to a mei tai)
Making a “Man-Tai”

It took me three days! Even with Max being home with me! It was really easy. My only worry is that, even though I followed all the directions, it might somehow tear under the weight of a baby. I’m planning to test it a lot with Max (who has some capacity to hold on) before tossing the new baby into it. I also need to buy more thread and do a little more reinforcing on the stitching (I ran out). Also, there are all kinds of visible beginner mistakes, like crooked stitches, which I will just live with. But basically, it is done! I am pleased as punch. I think I want to make more of these and see if I can get  better at it.

Pics (please try to ignore the fabulousness of the female model; it has been a long day!):

The mei tai is reversible to solid green. It can be worn on the front, also. The folded-down part flips up for use as a head rest for smaller babies. I am not sure if it will actually work, though. 🙂

Max works on the ever-popular party trick of inserting one's entire fist into one's mouth.

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Counting

I was feeling pretty slick last week, thinking I had taught my kid to count to three. Then, this weekend, Max was entertaining himself by playing with some rocks at a cookout. I encouraged him to count them, “One, two, three!” Then I started back at one. He looked at me disdainfully and added “fou, fie!” OK, so the child can actually count to FIVE. Apparently, they all learned this last week at daycare. Well, at least our daycare money is being well spent! Here’s a video of Max counting his crayons (sort of). I start him off with”one,” and he does his best on two through five :).

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Mother’s Day arts & crafts

I’m not naturally drawn to handmade-looking things, even when we’re talking about kiddie crafts. I’m the one who put together a baby nursery that made my brother remark, “This looks like a cool college kid’s room. All it needs is a wet bar.” Anyway, if a craft doesn’t look kind of modern and cool, it probably won’t actually decorate my home, other than maybe the refrigerator.

So I’m on the hunt for fun, easy, toddler-friendly crafts that are actually cute. Not too long ago, I discovered this neat blog with craft ideas that can be done with young toddlers. Some of the ideas are kind of cheesy and not something I’d frame and save, but they all look pretty fun for a little kid to make. One standout is this adorable handprint sheep project, which Max and I made for Easter about a month ago.

I thought our pink one turned out pretty well, although the yellow one looks a bit like a woolly dinosaur. But I knew the pictures were a success when Max said, “baa!” as soon as he saw the finished project. If he can tell it’s supposed to be a sheep, it must not be too bad!

For Mother’s Day, I decided Casey’s mom and step-mom and my mother might appreciate something made for them by their grandson. However, what to have him make that would be personalized, cute, and not too cheesy? I came up with this idea for Mother’s Day cards, inspired by the handprint sheep, and I liked it so much, we made extra and framed them:

They are finger-painted flower bouquets, with flower shapes (and their little flower centers) cut by me from a large finger painting that Max made in springy colors. Casey and I also helped Max make handprint “grass.” They work great as cards when done on a folded sheet of paper.

The cool thing is that this is an idiot-proof craft. We started by making about a million different green handprints, with the only goal being to keep them near the bottom of the sheet of paper to allow room for the bouquet to be added later. Then we helped Max with make a huge mess with finger paint on separate sheets of white paper, which he loved. We threw Max in the bathtub while everything dried; his job was done. I just had to trace flower shapes on top of some of the prettier parts of the finger painting, cut them out, and glue them above the best of the handprints. Oh, and I ever-so-artistically drew a stem on each with a green colored pencil. Woo hoo! Art in an hour!

Oh, quick note: If your kid makes a project that might be a keepsake/framed/etc., make sure to put his name and the date on it somewhere.

The scene of the activity, after Max had been carted away with paint in his hair (I highly recommend a plastic tablecloth!):

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