After 5 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I found the wonder of mothering slowly starting to get crowded out by the mundane feeling. I realized our world seems to surround people with the negative, and complaining about blessings seems totally acceptable. So I decided to fight against that "normalcy" and focus only on the positive. I look back to my first year as a mom when everything was new and keeping house was fun and I aim to have that attitude again. This blog is my outlet to showcase the daily miracles that surround me in my blessed life as a stay-at-home mom so that I will never forget the wonder of it all.

Monday, January 31, 2011

One Small Change - January 2011

My one small change for January focuses on the kids' pajamas.  We recently learned that all loose fitting kid pajamas are coated with fire retardant chemicals.  Once we learned this, we tried to find information online about these chemicals.  Some information said the chemicals were harmless and there was too much hype over the concerns regarding them in the use on kids pajamas.  Other articles said the chemicals DID have harmful effects....specifically showing signs of messing with the nervous system and thyroid.  Interesting.  Other articles said that some of the chemicals hadn't been used over long periods of time so not enough was known about long term effects. 

Though we could not ever discover 100% if the chemicals were harmful or not, we WERE able to discover what pajamas they are used on.  Basically, any loose fitting pajamas have the retardant chemicals on them.  I'm not sure about the organic options, but the normal ones you buy in the store have the retardant.  The ones that are free of chemicals are long johns and those thin cotton two piece numbers that remind me of thin long johns, just made of cotton instead of thermal. 

One of the major issues that was pushed by the authors of the articles in favor of the retardant chemicals on p.j.s was the chance of the child coming into contact with an open flame such as a candle.  Their point was that if the child was messing around with the open flame, their loose fitted p.j. sleeve would not ignite.  Well, we rarely light candles in this house and when we do, we don't leave them in reach of the kids.  Never once did the pro fire retardant authors address the fact that if the house were to catch on fire, the retardant in the p.j.s would not do much for a child who's bed sheets and hair would catch fire.  Authors against the chemicals did mention this fact.  In the tragic event of a house fire, the retardant doesn't have a fighting chance against all the other flammable materials surrounding the child.  Since our kids' safety in the case of a house fire would not have anything to do with weather or not their p.j.s were flame retardant, and since we don't have open flames such as candles lit in the house at their level, making the switch to chemical free p.j.s was easy for us. 

Everyone has an opinion and with stuff like this, since we're not scientists, its hard to know who to believe. We decided that since the harmful effects were unclear, we'd just skip on the loose fitting store bought p.j.s to be on the safe side. The kids already have a decent amount of thermal and cotton long johns so it was easy to go through their p.j.s and get rid of all the bunny sleepers and loose fitting two piece sets. I consigned, thrifted, and handed down their old p.j.s. None went in the trash.  To fill in the few gaps in their pajama needs, I sewed up a few flannel pants for each of them.

Kian was NOT happy about modeling his Big Butt Baby Pants and needed some consoling from Daddy after the torment of it all.

So how is this one small (green) change?  No chemicals = Green   
Plus, I'm really good at reusing stuff so a lot of the flannel used to make their pants (as well as the piles of flannel waiting to make more when they grow out of these) was handed down scraps, old sheets, or thrifted.  So I'm using stuff that would have otherwise just been thrown out.  Some is new flannel though, I admit.  JoAnns was having a super sale on flannel on Black Friday and I got sucked in big time.  :)  But in this house, we use flannel to the max.  None will go to waste!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Experiment With Fire

 One morning, as I was lighting a fire, Logan started asking questions about which things would burn and which wouldn't.  I decided to do an impromptu science experiment with he and Felicity.  We gathered a few items and one by one, added them to the fire.  The kids sat and watched as the items burned, or didn't.  In the picture below you can see their rocks we added.  If you look really closely, you can also see a nail sticking out of the top right piece of wood.  Both were part of our experiment.

Here are the kids watching their items burning (or not).  You can also see that Logan has a list in front of him.  We made two tables on two separate pieces of paper.  I didn't take a picture of them because, well, I'm being lazy.  On one table we made a grid and listed the items we planned to burn, and each of our guesses.....yes (it would burn), or no.  Our second table was actually two circles.  One was labeled "Burned," and one was labeled "Did Not Burn."  After observing the items in the fire, we added them into their appropriate circle.  Some things we had to have patience for, such as the rocks and nails.  They required the fire to completely die out so we could rummage around in the ashes to find them.  Other objects, such as rosemary, paper, clothes pins, and pine cones burned quickly.  Still other objects, such as pomegranates, definitely burned, but pretty slowly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Texture Play

I've done texture play with my kids ever since Logan was the size of Kian in the above picture.  The kids love it, it's easy to find the supplies on hand, and it's great for preschoolers.  I basically just fill a bowl with a substance, provide plenty of spoons, containers, and other kitchen gadgets, and go grab time to fold laundry while they go at it.  Oh, and before I get to my laundry, we talk about what it feels like, smells like, and if applicable, what it tastes like.  That's why texture play is a great preschool activity.  It's a lesson in the senses.

I think this day they were playing with baby powder.  I have had a lot sitting around from our pre cloth diapering days.  They sure smelled good after they were done.

Felicity discovered that baby powder makes good clouds.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sick Mama = Imaginative Kids

This last weekend I was sick.  I was thanking God that for the second time this Winter, I was sick over the weekend when I had my helpful husband around to take over.  I laid in bed ALLLLL day Sunday.  When Monday morning rolled around and I got up snarfy, dragging, achy, and sleep deprived, I was in the survival mind set.  I knew the day would be hard.  I knew I didn't have much energy or patience for bickering, a thousand questions, and much other than doing the needed diaper changes and meal making.  I just told myself to muscle through and Zac would be home at 4:30.  But I now admit that I feel guilty for thinking that way.  The kids were so amazing!  After breakfast they seemed to transport themselves into some imaginary land where they stayed the whole day.  They played nicely and kept me cracking up from my comfy seat on the couch where I clicked away with my camera.  I was so thankful because there's many a day I feel I break up arguments all day long.  How nice to not have to do that while feeling achy and snarfy.  Here's a few of those pics I snapped;

First they went out onto the front deck and found the bag full of seed pods we'd picked off a tree a month or so ago.  They all set to work cracking open the pods and finding the little seeds. 

When they came back inside, Logan found all the collapsible hampers in the house, emptied them, and then Felicity and Logan used them to jump around the house in.  They made up a few games I didn't understand the rules to.  They did this for a long time.

Poor Kian wanted SO badly to jump just like Felicity and Logan.  He kept saying, "dump!" while pumping his knees and throwing his hands into the air, never leaving the ground.  Poor kid.  He resorted to wearing his hamper on his head and chasing after Felicity and Logan.

After a lot of jumping, Felicity laid down in her hamper.  I told her she looked like a caterpillar in a cocoon and she should come out and turn into a butterfly.  It took her a long time to come out as a butterfly as I think she was escaping the crazy energy levels of her brothers for a while.  You can't blame the girl. 

After Felicity turned into a butterfly, Logan turned the hampers into a drum set.  He rocked out for a long time just on his own.  Then I turned on iTunes and all the kids rocked out to their new playlist I made them.  Logan was stoked because I had just purchased him a few songs from the How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack.

After I turned the music on, the other two joined in and danced.  Kian's head is blurry here because he's doing some baby head banging.  Oh, and if you didn't notice, yes, Logan and Felicity dressed themselves.  Not because I couldn't, but because I just didn't care.  This was Felicity's 2nd dress of the day.  She chose to wear it over a pink shirt with her tan deer print cozy pants on underneath.  Hey, a girls
gotta do what a girls gotta do to wear a dress when it's cold out.

Singing together.
Someone should put a hat on that baby to get his hair out of his face!

Joining big brother on a few instruments.

Felicity, in dress number 3 out of 5, did some treasure hunting under the couch cushions.

And this was all before lunch.
Busy kids.

Later, my little sister came over for a visit.  She had had a hard day so we went out back and soaked up some good vitamin D and watched the kids swing, play in the dirt, and run more energy off in the greenbelt.  I wish I had a picture of my sister's face when Felicity brought her a worm she had dug up in the garden.  My sister and I are very different.  I like worms, she likes her Vera Wang purse.  Did I even spell that right? 

This morning I feel worse.  The kids are still doing pretty good.  There's been a few bickering moments, but not too bad.  The day is beautiful so maybe we'll head out back and find some more worms.  : )

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hiking Temescal Canyon

We recently visited my Katie and her new husband in Marina Del Rey.  Katie and I have been friends since before either of us could talk.  Our parents were best friends.  I rarely remember vacationing with cousins, but we always vacationed with Katie and her family. 
While we were there, Katie took us on a beautiful hike one afternoon up Temescal Canyon.  It was surreal to be in the hustle and bustle of a city one minute, and then to be hiking into the woods the next.  You knew the city was right there not far away, but you couldn't hear a lingering sound of it.  Once we got high enough up the trail, we could look down the valley and see the Pacific Ocean.  It was beautiful.  I wanted to share a few photos from our hike.

The kids had fun and did pretty good.  They would have done better if we hadn't gone at nap time.  : )
Felicity is named after Katie (they have the same middle name).  Katie and I promised each other when we were small girls that we would be each other's maid of honor and name our girls after each other.  Here's Felicity, Katie, and I on our hike.

We discovered a vine growing over a leaning tree, making a cave.  I want to grow one in our backyard.

Little waterfalls

The kids had fun sliding down a hill of dirt.

Kian complained all the way up the trail, crying to get "dow!" (down).  I didn't want to let him out of the Ergo though since it was up hill most of the way.  But on the way back, I let him down and he was thrilled to hike back down the trail.  In need of a nap Felicity thought that opened up a spot for her in the Ergo.  : )  I thought I'd give it a try and she and I had fun goofing off with her on my back in the Ergo.  She only weighs 7 pounds more than her baby brother. 

And this little one DID walk a lot of the way down that trail.  I think he was offended to have been carried up the trail in the Ergo like a baby.  : )

The hike made me think that once, long ago, the whole Greater Los Angeles area grew beautifully wild.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pants and Hats for the Littles

So far, my sewing experience has been limited to quilts, toys, stuffed animals, and odd things here and there.  I've been wanting to sew some clothes for the kids so I've started with pants.....easy.  I'm horrible at the fit, which drives me nuts because I get to the end of the project and have cute pants that don't fit right.  So, more pants I make, in hopes I will one day get better at perfecting the fitting process.  I hope to make dresses for Felicity this summer, but we shall see.  It depends on my frustration level with the fitting process.  :)
Anyways, here's what I made yesterday.
Here's some Big Butt Baby Pants made out of my favorite material ever.  Pattern found here.  He needed a little extra in the rise with this pattern, but I made it a bit too much.  Folding the waist down seems to help and I left the legs extra long in hopes that when he grows, the rise will work and the length in the legs will be good too.

I LOVE these pants on Kian.  They are made from the arms of an old sweater.  I didn't use a pattern for these, just folded a pair of his pants in half and used them as a guide to cut the legs wide enough.  I thought a casing out of the sweater material would be too bulky so I just used the stretchy bottom rim of the sweater for the waist.  It worked fine but AGAIN, the rise is wrong.  The waist is a bit too loose but I think if I take a tuck at the back that will fix them and the rise will be good enough.

I used some remaining bits of sweater to make him this funky hat, which I LOVE.  He loves it too.  Its the first hat he voluntarily keeps on for any length of time.

Felicity fell in love with Kian's hat and requested one too so I whipped her up one from another old sweater.  Hers is super funky, and we all love it for that reason.  The hats took me minutes each.

3 year old approved.  This is her hugging her hat while not having to remove it.  She later napped with it on.  That makes this Mama happy!  It also made me happy when Logan requested an orange one.  I didn't have any orange sweaters to repurpose so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled next time I get to go thrifting.  I love when my kids request handmade things.  I know many a kid who hates having to wear hand sewn things.  For now, my kids thrill me by loving their Mama made stuff and requesting more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rainy Day Homeschool P.E.

Step 1 - Have energetic boy pump up the airbed by hand.

Step 2 - Turn on lively music and start jumping!

Step 3 - (optional) Add ribbon hoops for interest (and cuteness).

Warning:  This activity MAY cause your airbed to develop a slow leak.  If so, discontinue use as a guest bed and continue to store for rainy day homeschool P.E.  A slow leak will not alter the bounce effect.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The End of the Season, and Handmade Gifts From Loved Ones

Our Christmas season came to an end this week by celebrating Epiphany and by having Zac's family in town to finally celebrate Christmas with.  To end this season, I just wanted to share the wonderful handmade things that OTHERS blessed our family with this year.  I LOVE handmade gifts and we were given some beautiful things.

Here are some cozy pajamas for the kids made by my mom, a.k.a. Grammy.

A beautiful collage for me, made by my amazing friend Sarah.
I LOVE this burlap bag my friend Cheri made me!  Inside were lots of little treasures.

My friend Elisa made the kids wonderful lovies.  Elisa's son, Cody (Logan's buddy), wants to be a toy designer when he grows up.  He drew out the plans for Logan's and their other friend's monsters.  His details included material design, color, and number of eyes.  Then he helped his mom bring the monsters to life.
Kian's owl made by Elisa.  So sweet!

Felicity's owl is so cute!  This is Elisa's own concept which I think is so amazing!  The Mama owl's wings are pockets and inside each one she holds a baby!  How cute is that?!  Totally Etsy worthy in my opinion.  Felicity has been inseparable from her Mama and baby owls.  Not only are owls her favorite animal, she loves all things Mama and baby.  I think it was one of her favorite Christmas gifts. 

Elisa also made Felicity these wonderful Waldorf inspired ribbon rings with jingle bells.  Elisa is my Waldorf buddy and we love finding Waldorf inspiration together.

Aunt Rachael made this adorable hat for Logan, which made me wish I could knit.

OK, I admit, it has graced my head more than his.  But I just LOVE it.  I've requested one for my birthday.  : )   Rachael also made me these button magnets.

She also made this cupcake set for Felicity.  The frosting is removable so they can be switched around.

Here's Felicity playing with her cupcakes and wearing an apron her Aunt Becca made her.  She can't play cupcake baker without wearing an apron.

Aunt Becca also made Logan this marker and paper caddy.  So cute!

Wow!  I truly am surrounded by some crafty people!
Hooray for handmade gifts!