Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life

Life has been tough these past few months.  I feel the need to focus on the simple, less hectic points of our life.

A few highlights from the last week: 

Grandpa Baker surprised Aria with an Avengers weighted blanket which she has used every night since its arrival.

Aria finally worked her loose baby tooth out.  And figured out that the tooth fairy is not real.  She recognized the glitter I put on the dollar.  She is not upset and has agreed that it would be fun to pretend anyway.

Aria decided that she has to wear a dog collar complete with a dog tag.  

These sweet little mice that I won from Eve's Little Earthlings showed up in the mailbox.  Aria loves them. The armadillo is also from the same shop; I bought her last year.  
 
My sweet niece also over a few nights.  She is the world's happiest baby.  I'd share a pic but I need to check in with her momma before I do that.

One day at a time.  One minute at a time.  

~cheers!~
Robin 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Be Still my Heart...DIMPLES!!

Hey guys!

Wow, we are on a roll lately with our baby dolls! It is incredibly fun to see them all come to life, thank you all so much for your love and support. It means the world to Cady, Robin, and I, it really does. :)

Now, I LOVE making each and every one of their sweet faces, but I must say - my heart pitter-pattered when I finished this girl:

Why, hello!
Because...come on...


DIMPLES!!!!
those cheeks!
Oh be still my heart. This little lady and her dark blues with that wispy soft baby hair, well...she had me from the get-go. Add the dimples into the mix and it's all over...I am smitten.

And she is just as sweet as can be. A calm-natured little soul. Occasionally, there was a moment or two of fussiness, as to be expected. But that is what a good cuddle and a nice binky are for...


as calm as can be
Soon it was time for a diaper change and the wee lass was happy to help. She lay down all by herself...
ready!




1, 2, 3, you're ready to go!

and away she went!

Hey! Get back here ya lil' stinker!


Can't catch me


Up! Up!

Lol, you are sweet and fast!

Well, check out you and those cute diapers. :)





We had a lovely afternoon together, but alas, it is time for me to give you a kiss on the cheek and say goodbye, ma petite chérie.
 


 I hope you have many grand adventures with your new mommy & best bud. Please keep in touch, I would love to see those smiling dimples again someday soon. :)



Many kisses & hugs to all of you as well.
xoxoxoxoxo,
Lesley





Max turns 6!

Holy heck - time flies! Max turned 6 last weekend. 6! Wow. 

Anyway, we had a fun little party at home, so wanted to share some of the party hits with you guys. 

First off, there's the cake. Now usually I'm all about taste over appearance, but birthday cakes are kind of the exception. Still, taste is certainly important. Max wanted Vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, and vanilla ice cream. Not exactly adventurous in the flavor department this year. I went with the basic sponge cake from Martha Stewart. Then we topped it with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. I've posted that one here before, and Sweetopolita has a great tutorial for it.

Max had said he wanted a train (shocking) going down the track, with bushes, and some Lego buildings (double shocking). I was all set to color frosting for train tracks and bushes and the like, but he decided they should all be white to show they were covered in snow. Easy, if a little monochromatic. Earlier in the weeks we had made a train cake topper from Scullpy and wood. Specifically, Max says it's a model TGV.
The model TGV, complete with headlights and fan vents.
Then I found these great Lego-style block candies at the Sweet Factory. They're great! They taste a lot like Pez, and they stack just like Legos! Well, maybe they don't click as tight, but it's pretty good for candy!
Max and Aria had a blast building the finishing touches on the cake.


I think the finished product is pretty fun. And it was delicious.

You may notice there's not really space for candles. That's because we have something of a family tradition for birthday candles now. You have to see these things to believe them. They're called the Magical Happy Birthday Candle and magical they are. They have candles, a sparkler, they move, spin, and sing. Check it out:



Ok, but the cake wasn't until almost the end. Before that, we had a treasure hunt. Max loves doing treasure hunts. It was a lot easier this year now that the kiddos can read fairly well. In previous years we've had to do all the clues with pictures. Here are some of this year's clues:

At the end they found a treasure chest full of little wooden trains Matt and I made. Then they got to paint these, which was also a hit. Max was thrilled and is already planning extra cars.

Ok, one last fun thing. We got Max two main presents this year. The first is a Kiwi Crate subscription, which we're all really excited about. Basically, Max will get a box in the mail each month with crafts and activities and educational what-not. I'll let you guys know how that goes. :)
The second, was a box of coupons. They were for things like a trip to the zoo, an extra turn on TV, 30 minutes of playtime with Mom or Dad (like for those nights when we're busy, but Max wants some attention), etc. He didn't get what they were right away, but now he's really into the idea. He's cashed in 3 already and is angling how to get more. Hooray!


I think it was a smashing success! Thank you to all who helped make it magical!

Do you have any special birthday secrets to share?

TTFN!
Cady

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy...

Why hello everyone,

I'm sneaking in an end-of-the-weekend evening post to show you this sweet, soft baby boy we've just finished. Welcome to the world, little one! And my, he is a sleepy little guy...
 
just snooooozzzzzzzzzzin'

Time to wake up, sleepyhead...
hhmmmm?
It's time for us to kiss each one of your sweet little freckles and have some snuggletime. But first, let's get you bundled up - you're traveling to meet your new daddy soon!


Wait! Where are you going? Ah, I think we have another frisky one here, ready to explore!


There we are, into your lovely golden leaf diapers you go. This wee one has the softest auburn hair to match his Daddy, made from a mohair 'fur' wig, it feels just so cuddly and special.

learning not to wiggle too much for diaper changing time
There we go, that feels better. Now just one button...and the second...

and you're done!
Up! Up!
Oh yes, I'm sure you will have many hugs waiting you while you're being carried by your Papa. Soon little guy, soon.
zzzzzzzzzzz
Oh! And there he goes again, well alright - just one more little nap before heading off to meet your new family.

Sweet dreams little one, and sleep tight. Many exciting adventures await you.

Have a wonderful night, everyone,

xoxoxoxo,
Lesley

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sweet lil' Babe

Hi friends!

I hope you all are having a great week. The 'snowpocalypse' that happened in Portland last week was so much fun, sledding and snowball fights, icicle-hunting...but alas, now winter is back to normal - a little sun and a lot of rain...aaaah Oregon... :)
Cady, Robin, and I had the pleasure of finishing this lovely little babe up this week, and, man, is she a sweet one! Calmly observant, watching the world with wonder from those big blue eyes.

Why, hello!
Though maybe she is a little bit frisky...or maybe just curious, really - did you notice her outfit of choice?
she has discovered her sweet little paws...erm...feet
 Oh yes! Now I see, she is going to be an adventurous one! Dressed in her Raccoon-themed diapers with hat & booties, there is no stopping this one and her zest for excitement. Hopefully, for her parents, she is a late crawler...
What's that in the sky? Let's go exploring...
This little one has the softest light blond hair that she'd like to show you, made from a mohair cap - with 2 pigtails just to bump up the 'cuteness' factor into overload!

 
ahhh...that feels good, maybe I should have some nakie time?
Uh oh, she's on to us. Why, hello, sweet one...

time for freedom!

Wait! Where are you going?
and away I go!!
Well, so much for my 'late-crawler' theory. This wee one is on a mission to see, touch, and feel everything she can. I hope she makes the perfect companion for her new mommy. And maybe, just maybe, mama can tame her wild spirit (just a little bit, mind you) with lots of kisses and snuggles. A cozy spot on her new mommy's lap that feels just right, to dream and wish and contemplate all the adventures out there in the world together.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!
xoxoxoxo,
Lesley

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Computer Science For All!


Yesterday was Presidents Day. Perhaps that is what put me in the mood. I had been talking to Max about why it was a holiday, how government worked, what representation was, etc. So all of that was in my mind.

To digress: I teach math & technology at a high school in Oregon. The students at my school are really lucky; they have several Computer Science classes to choose from along with their art, music, and other electives. They're electives, not required, but at least they're there.

Did you know 90% of public schools don't offer Computer Science classes? Schools that teach "computers" are likely to offer typing or word processing, but no actual Computer Science.

This is a problem.

I've talked before about why kids should learn Computer Science. If you don't believe me, here are some other folks who agree:
code.org
codeintheschools.org
computinginthecore.org
csta.acm.org
KQED article
NPR article

What's my point? Well, until we get Computer Science as a requirement, it's going to keep losing out to other subjects. It's not that I don't think we should teach Math or English, but rather that we should teach this too. It's too important to ignore.

I think one of the reasons that very little is being done around this issue is that parents don't know about this gap. When I tell other parents that their children are probably not learning Computer Science, that in fact their school probably doesn't even offer it, they think I'm kidding. I'm not. Parents, go check with your schools. Ask about Computer Science. Not typing or basic applications, but Computer Science. It's probably absent. But what can we do? It's hard to know where to even start.

That brings me back to Presidents Day. We can try to have our voice heard. We can spread the word and try to make some noise. I've started a petition with We The People to have Computer Science added to our K-12 schools. You can sign it here. But I hope you'll do more than that. I hope you'll help me spread the word. Share it on Facebook & Twitter & by email. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/lUL8u

Tell a friend. And other parents. And teachers. And everyone else. This is a national problem that deserves national attention. I don't know that we can get to the threshold of signatures needed to get a White House response, but I'd sure like to try.

This should be an issue for everyone. If we don't teach our kids Computer Science we're just falling farther and farther behind. This is the language of our century. Wouldn't it be nice if our kids could speak it?

Please help! Sign and share! http://wh.gov/lUL8u

TTFN!
Cady

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Which I Feel Like a Mean Mommy

Robin's last post resonated pretty strong with me. Especially the part about needs and wants being different in the present than in the future. We've been struggling at home too, but in a different way. While they've been struggling to figure out SPD, we've been battling a somewhat more common ailment: the gimmies.

Max is lucky enough to have a lot of very doting relatives. And some rather indulgent parents. It's at least partly due to this that he's amassed the ginormous toy collection he has. Also, he's received some already huge hand-me-down collections, which just compounds things. Perhaps this has led him to believe that he should get whatever toys he sets his mind on. Being reasonable and explaining that this is not so hasn't made much difference. Admittedly, he switched from asking for us to buy him stuff, to saying he's saving up for the things he wants, but still. He spends an inordinate amount of time talking about toys he wants. It's seriously getting to us.

Max is an awesome kid. He's funny and creative and energetic and passionate. He is a major builder and loves to make awesome set-ups and structures. I love that about him. I'm less fond of the fact that he covers the house in these contraptions and won't clean them up. It's been leading to too many fights around here, leaving us all bad tempered and out of sorts with each other.

I'm feeling like he's taking his things for granted, not treating them well, and generally acting spoiled. He's such a sweet kid, so it breaks my heart to see this happening. Being a parent is a tricky balance that I admit I don't have down yet. Too nice? Too mean? Too many rules? Not enough? I suppose we won't know until the therapy bills roll in, right? (I kid, of course.)

So Saturday we took action. While he was gone for the afternoon, we packed up all his toys. Now, we didn't go super extreme; we didn't break them, or toss them, or give them all away. We sorted them out, put them all in bins, and stacked them in the garage. We left him a handful of stuffed animals, 2 dolls (I can't take away his Tansy Dolls!), and his books. That's it. We had decided this was a good plan, talked it through, slept on it, etc. It wasn't a decision made in anger or on a whim.

But when we were done, I looked around his empty room and felt like the meanest mommy in the world. His shelves were bare; his play kitchen empty; even his bed looked lonely. Was it too much? But we decided to stick with it. Here's the deal: as long as he's in the good zone behavior-wise, he can check out a bin from the garage to play with. When he's done he has to clean up and put everything back in the bin to get a different one. It's like a toy library. I very much hope that he will start to earn his toys back and into his room, but in the meantime I hope this will help us not go crazy. I also think this may help him get more sleep. He has a tendency to stay up super late building Legos, long after he should be asleep. This should help with that too.

Honestly, I expected a bigger blow-up when he got home and we gave him the news. He took it fairly well. Once he had been assured that we hadn't actually gotten rid of his things and he at least had toy-visitation, he was pretty good. Sunday he checked out his Lego bin and played. When he wanted to do a painting project he first cleaned up the Legos and returned the bin. We spent more time playing and less time arguing. I very much doubt it's a cure-all, but I do think it's a good step for us. I'll let you know how it goes. : )

Have you ever had to play the mean mom or dad? How'd it go for you?

TTFN!
Cady

Bare shelves
Empty cabinet
Stripped down play area
But my little builder was right back at it. This is a rocket powered hover car. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love

Between last weeks freak snowstorm and a nasty cold, Aria and I were both cooped up in the house for a full week.  By the end of that week, I was sobbing uncontrollably at 3am and wondering what the hell was wrong with me.  Oh...that thing called fresh air?  It's really important in order to keep too many cobwebs from gathering in the head.  


So I got Aria dressed in the one outfit she'll wear and we took the puppy for an hour walk and just chatted.  

She told me a story about a princess whose parents wanted her to obey all the time and sent her to princess obedience school where she failed the big test.  But she was happy that she failed because she did it on purpose so her parents wouldn't expect her to be perfect.  

Thank goodness I was actually listening and being mindful.  I'm not going to lie sometimes I check out during her long stories; I don't mean to but there's always something big on my mind...bills, school stuff... But I'm glad I didn't miss this because she wasn't talking about some princess she made up; she was talking about herself.  

She feels like she has to be perfect.  And I don't doubt in her (almost) 6 year old logic, making mistakes and acting up are ways to ensure we never expect perfection from her.  Because what is more scary than the thought that your parents expect perfection when you know you can't live up to it? 

I mostly just listened figuring she needed to work through these scary emotions.  At one point, I broached the idea of whether she felt like the princess but Aria teared up and told me she didn't want to talk about it.  I asked if she wanted to talk about the princess some more and she said yes.  And again, I mostly listened because I needed to hear what she had to say and she needed to tell me in her own special way.

Between the SPD stuff and regular 6 year old rebellion, I'm tired most days but I realize that none of that is going away anytime soon.  What I can do right now is take some of the stress out of our relationship by trying hard to lay off the lecturing and correcting.  Lately, I haven't been yelling when I do it (5 weeks yell free - yay!) and I totally mean well but who wants someone constantly commenting on her actions and words?  

Since I have this yell free thing in the bag (I jest, it's a constant battle to be mindful), I'm adding "letting the little things go" to my parenting goals.  I mean truly letting the little things go.  So what if she wrote her number 3 backwards?  Right now she needs encouragement to build the self confidence to continue trying and learning. 

I'm not big on holidays.  Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the idea that people today are celebrating love and their families but this day isn't a big deal to me.  


But today I decided it might be fun to make a love poster.  Aria painted the background, she cut out hearts, and wrote the things that make her feel loved on them, and finally chose a few of the hearts and glued them to the poster.  

I kept my mouth shut and didn't offer "helpful" suggestions unless she asked.  My silence was gifted with seeing how creative she is when left to herself.  She cut out the hearts "fancy."  As if they were Rorschach ink blots, she told me what they looked like.


"This one looks like two faces!  Oh and this one is a flower!"

Love.  It's a funny thing especially when it comes to our children.  I want the absolute best for Aria but sometimes my worries for the future prevent me from seeing her needs in the present.  

I can't guarantee her future any more than I can my own.  But I can make a mindful effort to ensure that she knows how very much she is loved, imperfections and all.  

Happy Love Day!

Robin 



Sunday, February 9, 2014

A New Custom for a Sweet Little Gal


Hello, hello!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. We've had our fair share of snow here in Portland this week, something that only happens... oh, every five years or so... so we've been enjoying lots of sled rides through our neighborhood - collecting icicles and sipping hot cocoa. It's a winter wonderland out there, and it's truly magical to see my children smile and soak it all in.

We finished a special little 10" sweetie this weekend that I'd like to share with you. Customs are just so fun, especially when you know that they reflect the beauty of the child who will soon be their best friend.
Introducing, little Hatice!
waldorf doll, bamboletta, dragonflys hollow, tansy dolls, tutorial, pattern
Hatice is so excited to meet her new mama!
Hatice has peach skin, light brown sparkly eyes, a big smile, and warm blushed cheeks. She has some custom embroidered birthmarks on her face and leg to match her new mommy, and has long brown hair with some fun twisty hand-spun locks mixed in.

waldorf doll, bamboletta, dragonflys hollow, tansy dolls, tutorial, pattern
close up of Hatice's birthmarks and her cute pink flower button


waldorf doll, bamboletta, dragonflys hollow, tansy dolls, tutorial, pattern
another view of those chubby cheeks
We used a little bit of a darker pink for the birthmark on her inner left leg, to match her mommy's shape and color as best we can with needle & thread. So special to have a wee doll that looks just like you!

check out those pink mary janes!
Did you know that adding custom birthmarks to your Tansy Doll is always free of charge? Freckles too. Dolls are just as unique as people! Cady, Robin, and I are big fans of: 'if you can dream it, we can do it!'  Because, you know, it's just plain fun too. 
Speaking of fun things to add on dolls, here's the close ups of the beautiful hand-spun twisty locks Cady spun up especially for Hatice:

<3 the look of spun wool!
Well, Miss Hatice is eager to have an adventure and arrive safely in the arms of her new mama. She's all ready for a big hug, arms outstretched. I'm going to have to get in a few more snuggles before I give her a kiss on the cheek and say goodbye. 

waldorf doll, bamboletta, dragonflys hollow, tansy dolls, tutorial, pattern
all ready to go to her forever home

Thank you for playing with me this week, Hatice!

Have a wonderful week, everyone,
xoxoxoxo,
Lesley